“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
The biggest misconception in the on-going dialogue in our nation over same-sex marriage is that if you stand for the historical, traditional definition of marriage then you’re either hateful, intolerant, judgmental, a narrow-minded bigot or all the above. It’s been defined that way by advocates of same-sex marriage and while strategically successfully in marginalizing their socially conservative opponents as extremists, the “you either love us or hate us” choice does little other than to polarize our already fractured nation. The danger in dividing to conquer in such a fashion as to demonize your opposition is that constructive dialogue to at least respectfully disagree with your opponent becomes impossible. In essence, the agents of the tolerance movement only tolerate those who believe as they do.
For those of us who hold a Biblical worldview, we do so because we believe the Bible is the Word of God; we believe it’s a living, breathing book. We believe this because it’s a book that’s completely and supernaturally transformed our lives, our marriages and our families. Although we may still struggle with various aspects of sin (the old self), we’ve largely been freed from the overall bondage of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit as we read His Word. We’ve seen the transformation work firsthand and thus see God’s Word as infalliable truth!
So it’s problematic to look at the act of homosexuality as anything other than what the Bible describes as sin. As Christians, we are to look for consistent threads of scripture from cover to cover, Genesis to Revelation in how we form our beliefs as opposed to obscure, one off verses, usually found in the Old Testament. And consistently as well as directly, seven times to be exact – which doesn’t include God’s plan for marriage laid out Genesis or Jesus’ reiteration of that plan in Mark – and seven times homosexuality is cast in a sinful light.
Now, I want to emphatically state that authentic, mature Christians should never hate anybody regardless of their sin because, biblically speaking, we were all born sinners. I love homosexual family members and acquaintances in the same way I love any family member or acquaintance that’s engaged in a sinful lifestyle – be it drug or alcohol abuse or heterosexual sin outside of marriage. But while I love them doesn’t mean I have to accept their lifestyle choices or decisions regardless of whether or not they were predisposed with those traits at birth because, regardless of whether or not they were “born that way”, people choose if they pursue or act upon their predispositions. And because I don’t accept their choices doesn’t mean that I hate them or are being bigoted in my beliefs.
In wrapping up my two-week series on gay marriage, this is a good place to re-state that I believe that God knows best what constitutes a healthy and vibrant society. One that’s based on the healthy pillars of faith, communities, marriages and families; all of which he lays out for us in His Word. The more we try to social engineer away from God’s plan and redefine what we think is best using human wisdom and reason apart from God, the less we should be surprised that society continues to falter. Marriage is a key pillar. If we change the historical meaning, how far do we go in redefining marriage and what we allow? Should so-called bi-sexuals be allowed to marry one of each because they’re pre-disposed to be attracted to both genders and thus have a “civil right” to be happy? What do we do when the polygamists inevitably start filing lawsuits? In the end, if marriage can mean anything, then it means nothing which I suspect is the end goal for many who seek to redefine it.
April 2nd Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
“…As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.’” Romans 3:9-11
Not that there’s any shock value left at this point to anything we hear anymore when it comes to athletes, celebrities, politicians or anybody in the public square for that matter. But last week was just another reminder of just how far from we’ve wondered from God’s original plan and our desperate need for spiritual healing and revival in this nation and world. More importantly though, it was another reminder that any place or trust put in so-called public figures in simply misguided and the only one we should look to and emulate is Jesus Christ. He and He alone is our standard-bearer and role model.
To me, Lance Armstrong’s decade long campaign of lies and bullying outweighed the transgressions of being a drug cheat. I heard it said that he was a bad person who did good things. After all, he was a hero to millions through his Livestrong Foundation. But we’ll never know if his “good works” were for self-adulation or to throw others of the scent from the highly sophisticated doping program his team ran. We’ll never know because he has no credibility when it comes to being truthful.
As for Manti Te’o, the All-American linebacker from Notre Dame, whose girlfriend that died from leukemia turned out to be a non-existent person, a hoax and complete fabrication. We’ll probably never know the extent to which he exaggerated that story for self-adulation. But aside from being a cautionary tale of creating virtual emotional attachments in the tech era, it’s also a reminder of why we need to put our trust in a Risen Lord and Savior and not people – regardless of their worldly accomplishments – because people will let us down every time.
Paul reminds us time after time in his New Testament epistles that our goods works don’t come close to measuring up to God, and that God alone is where we should place our trust. If we learned anything last week it’s that once again we need to remember that none of us is righteous of our own accord. We are incapable of understanding the good works we were created for without first knowing who created us and that only comes with the true wisdom and understanding of seeking God.
January 21st Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Revelation 3:14-17
Probably the most controversial topic of the last presidential campaign was a 2008 op-ed by Mitt Romney in the NY Times titled ‘Let Detroit Go Bankrupt’. The column proceeded to lay out how General Motors, a failing American institution, should restructure itself through a managed bankruptcy. An insolvent and failing company enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a time of protection from its creditors to reemerge even stronger. After the results of last week’s election as well as the passage of voter referendums in various states to legalize marijuana and same sex marriage, it’s pretty clear to me that American Christianity has reached a state of insolvency and is in dire need of restructuring through a managed bankruptcy.
Last week was a referendum in this country and it was a referendum against the American brand of Christianity – the kind that forges an unholy alliance between faith and politics while poisoning both. For 40 years we’ve fought the “culture wars” in this country raging against abortionists, homosexuals, the sexual promiscuous, liberals, progressives and probably six other groups I’ve failed to mention. But where has it gotten us?
Now I’m not saying we water down the Bible or moderate scriptural principles or fail to stand for biblical truth. Nor am I saying we should withdrawal from the political realm or cease to have our voice heard in the public square. But I am saying we need to change our tone while reflecting and praying deeply about how God wants us to be the hands and feet to a lost culture. I believe when we do that, we’ll be deeply convicted of our sin of forgetting to love. We’ve neglected 1 Corinthians 13; we’ve not had love and are nothing to a lost society. We have not gained, while failing to earn, the respect and trust of a lost and disillusioned culture because we’ve not had love.
Our enemy is not opposing political parties or abortionists or homosexuals. Our enemy lies in the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12) and it’s an enemy that wants us to divide and conquer, wants us to give in to fear which leads to anger which leads to hate, the very opposite of what God wants of us. He’s called us to live out The Great Commission in Matthew 28 – “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Where in the Great Commission do we see that we are supposed to align so closely to a political party whereby we automatically alienate 50% of the American people? Where do we see that we’re supposed to fight more for Christian symbolism such as keeping the Ten Commandments in courthouses over fighting to fuse the need for personal salvation with the social gospel of helping those less fortunate among us?
We have a stark choice in American Christianity – we can continue along the path towards insolvency and irrelevance in this country or we can restructure by stripping away the inefficiencies and old way of doing things that’s robbed us of our spiritual vitality as well as our ability to reach our communities for Christ? Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision summed it up beautifully in a recent article – Goodbye Christian America; Hello, True Christianity and in his book The Hole In Our Gospel. In short, we can continue to complain about the darkness or we can light a candle. If we spent as much time and energy as a Christian community on loving and serving the lost as we did on getting frustrated and angry over politics or other issues that don’t matter or serving ourselves, we wouldn’t be able to build churches fast enough to handle the overflow of the masses. My blog entries for the next couple of weeks will address how to light a few candles.
November 12th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
Note – this is the first in a two-part series. Next week’s piece will take a look at the Pharisee in all of us and the need to “take the planks out of our own eyes”. Matthew 7:5
I know that every four years we say “this is the most important election ever”. So while I’ll refrain from that proclamation, I will say that I’ve never seen a presidential election cause so much anxiety on the part of the Christian community, including yours truly. Especially compelling in light of the angst being directed toward the defeat of the candidate who is a professing Christian; ironic really when you consider his opponent is a Mormon. For those that read my blogs or follow me on Facebook, you know that it’s been a constant battle for me – and one I’ve found myself losing these past few months – in trying not to be so overly political at the expense of my Christian witness. In the end, we should as Christians be known less for our political fervor and more for our spiritual fervor. It’s an area many of us have fallen quite short on during this election season.
So why all the angst? After all, CNN just ran a story on Obama’s evolving Christian faith and a more evangelical style. In my mind, I’ll never question a man’s faith as only he and the Lord know what’s in his heart. So if Obama says he’s a Christian, I’ll take him at his word. But from there, I believe the root of the problem with many in the Christian community is he seems to hold a diametrically opposed political position to every foundational biblical principle – chiefly abortion and the biblical definition of marriage / family. And so it can be frustrating to hear a “Christian” say his opponent’s policies, against abortion and government-mandated contraception, will take us back to the policies of the 1950s.
On the biblical definition of marriage and the family, it’s absolutely imperative that we tolerate, love and respect everybody as Christians. But we aren’t called to tolerate, love and respect the lifestyle decisions and choices people make, including those engaged in same-sex relationships. In fusing the two together – abortion and same-sex marriage – it will always fall on deaf ears for a community that believes that God forms us in the womb (Psalm 139:13) when you advocate a policy that destroys 2 million+ lives in the womb every year (who are the most vulnerable among us) but you simultaneously talk about issues of “fairness”, rights, protections and “looking out for others”.
Regarding issues involving the poor, people who advocate a top-down, centralized government approach don’t own the debate on who cares about and wants to help the poor. Nowhere to be found in the Bible is a mandate that calls for a secularized government to take from its citizens as it sees fit and to redistribute as it sees fit. In fact, many Christians believe this approach is toxic and for the last 50 years has undermined marriage, the family and entire communities. Large scale social engineering has arguably debilitated and destabilized our society, entrapping entire subgroups into generational poverty. And lastly, the anxiety level of the Christian community gets raised when we see our “Christian” president using vulgarity in a media outlet like Rolling Stone or authorizing an ad to draw in young voters that likens voting for him to having sex for the first time; all the while catering to an entertainment industry like no other President we’ve ever had; an entertainment industry that has more of a polluting effect on our children than any environmental issue could ever have on our culture.
All of that said, I try to take issue with policy issues and not make it personal towards the President because, quite obviously, I don’t know the President personally. So how could I possibly dislike him? Political issues and politicians will come on go. We need to remember that what this nation lacks is not political solutions because our problems are not political in nature. Rather we need spiritual solutions because our problems are spiritual in nature. When I confessed recently of the high anxiety in my heart over this election, a wise friend told me that we’re “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Cor 5: 17,20) and to meditate on Psalm 2. So no matter who is elected when we wake up on Wednesday, November 7th, we need to remember that Jesus will be on His throne and that’s ultimately whom we serve.
October 29th Posted in: Current Issues with 4 Comments
With the presidential election upon us, I think it’s time for all of us to take a step back as well as a deep breath. In that regard, I found it incredibly light-hearted that both Governor Romney and President Obama paid tribute to one another last Thursday after exchanging light-hearted and humorous barbs – poking fun at themselves and each other – at the Al Smith Charity Fundraiser (Romney roast here, Obama roast here). This was the best part of the campaign so far with two opponents coming together after developing a competitive respect for one another. President Obama – “And I particularly want to thank Governor Romney for joining me because I admire him very much as a family man, and a loving father. And those are two titles that will always matter more than any political ones.” Governor Romney – “…Don’t tell anyone I said so, but our 44th president has many gifts and a beautiful family that would make any man proud. In our country, you can oppose someone in politics and make a confident case against their policies without any ill will and that’s how it is for me. There’s more to life than politics.”
Too often times in this country we don’t do a good enough job with separating policy attacks with personal attacks. And I think that’s because we don’t do a good enough job of relationship-building anymore. I was reminded of that with the passing of one of my best and closest friends last week. My tribute to Patrick Faherty is here – The Loss of My Twin Brother. Pat was a God-fearing Catholic, a Massachusetts liberal. I’m a God-fearing Protestant and a Christian conservative. And although we had many debates, especially on Facebook in recent years, neither one of us never lost our love and respect for the other. But that’s because we took time to build a relationship and although there were many things we never agreed upon, we knew the quality as well as the character of the other and drew a hard / fast line between philosophical disagreements and personal attacks.
I was also struck by the tribute to former democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, who passed away over the weekend, penned by former republican presidential candidate Bob Dole – George McGovern, the man who never gave up. McGovern was the face of modern liberalism and yet Dole, a staunch conservative, said the country and the world is better off because of his long-time friend.
For various reasons, we’re not relational enough in our fractured society to get to the point where we can have healthy discussions to move the country forward. This should be particularly troubling to Christians, because how can we truly show Christ’s love to others if we’re not intentionally relational towards them. Ultimately, the point here is not to solve the world’s problems but get to the point where we realize that just because people have a different worldview be it conservative, liberal or other doesn’t make them any less of a quality human-being than anybody else. My friend Pat and I disagreed on just about every hot button topic, but he was among the highest of quality human beings I ever had the pleasure to meet. I learned how to be a better man because of him.
October 22nd Posted in: Current Issues with No Comments
I’ve been following politics for a long time and, if we’re all honest, we’d admit the both sides of the political aisle parse, spin, and distort. In short, they tell half-truths which in reality are whole lies. But this is the first time in an election cycle or during a candidate’s term where I’ve seen lies become ingrained as truth throughout the culture. What’s so alarming is it’s not just the uninformed voter out there but otherwise educated people who should know better, but don’t.
I’ll first point out the five biggest lies with a concluding, albeit brief, analysis of why these lies have become truth.
5. “Bush tax cuts for the rich” – We’ve heard these talking points for years about the Bush tax cuts to the extent that most people believe that President Bush only cut taxes for the rich. The reality is that he cut taxes for ALL middle and upper-income earners by the same percentage – click here. So many of the very people on the left who decry the Bush tax cuts, benefited and continue to do so from those cuts. Suffice it to say that those same people would not go back in time and give up their additional income.
4. “Bush is responsible for the deficit” – this is another whopper that’s taken root as truth, not so much by knowledgeable independents and conservatives, but by ardent liberals as well as many that make up the uninformed electorate. Rated “Four Pinocchios” by the Washington Post fact checker – click here. To quote – “We are not trying to make excuses for the fiscal excesses of the Bush administration — and Congress — in the last decade. But at some point, a president has to take ownership of his own actions.” A blog on accountability and personal responsibility is a blog for another day. But it’s worth noting now that I don’t ever remember Reagan, nor have I ever heard that FDR, whined, complained and scapegoated “their predecessor” for the troubles they inherited. And just for fun here’s three pinocchios for the claim that the Bush tax cuts led to the economic crisis.
3. “McConnell and GOP House Members set out to make Obama a one-term president.” – another half-truth (whole lie) that’s been posted by no less than five people on my Facebook to make the case that Republicans have been obstructionists since Day One of this presidency. Thoroughly debunked Here.
2. “The rich don’t pay their fair share” – if not for #1, this claim would by far be the top ranked lie seen as truth by all but the
truly informed. This lie has been perpetrated through such political gimmicks as the Buffet Rule and the “fair share”, “1%” comments spewed ad nauseam by those more concerned with dividing and conquering, more focused on scoring political points to gain votes by lying to the middle class as opposed to helping the middle class. USA Today cited the non-partisan Tax Policy Center in debunking this myth – click
here. “households making more than $1 million will pay an average 29.1% of their income in federal taxes, INCLUDING income taxes, payroll taxes and other taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 15% of their income in federal taxes.” According to Price Waterhouse Cooper, Romney himself has paid $10s of millions in taxes of his hard earned income, donated $10s of millions more as well as created 10s of thousands of jobs through his innovation and investments. I’d say he’s contributed to his country quite significantly.
1. “No President, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage he found in just 4 years.” - Bill Clinton. This is ranked #1 simply because of the quoted source and because it took root and is perceived as truth more than any line uttered from the DNC in giving Obama his post-convention bounce. To begin with, it’s been largely whitewashed from the history of the Democratic Party. But Bill Clinton is still the same Bill Clinton who had a tawdry, adulterous affair with a subordinate intern his daughter’s age, in the White House and then lied about it numerous times to his family, staff and the American people. This series of historical events should disqualify anyone from ever trusting anything Bill Clinton says and should really make anybody question the integrity of a political party where he is the face and most important figure. That rant notwithstanding, both FDR and Ronald Reagan did what Bill Clinton said nobody could do in the two worst economic crisis prior to this one. By year four of FDR’s first term in 1936, the economy grew at 13.6%. In year four of Reagan’s first term in 1984, the economy grew at 8%. The Obama economy in year four, despite adding more debt than any other president in history ($6 trillion) is growing at under 2%. Obama may have inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, as he likes to tell us, but what he doesn’t say is that he’s overseen the worst economic recovery ever.
So why are so many lies now seen as truth? I think the biggest reason is the downfall of the American media in being lazy, corrupt and derelict in its watchdog duties. In a free, democratic society, it’s imperative to have a neutral press contributing as an arbitrator in our system of checks and balances. But as former Democratic strategist Pat Caddell, who has worked for presidential candidates George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden among others said in a speech called ‘The Audacity of Corruption” published here: “when I first started in politics – and for a long time before that – everyone on both sides, Democrats and Republicans, despised the press commonly, because they were SOBs to everybody. Which is exactly what they should be. They were unrelenting. Whatever the biases were, they were essentially equal-opportunity people. That changed in 1980…”.
Jake Tapper of ABC News recently had this to say – “I have said before… [that I] thought the media helped tip the scales. I didn’t think the coverage in 2008 was especially fair to either Hillary Clinton or John McCain,” said Tapper. “Sometimes I saw with story selection, magazine covers, photos picked, [the] campaign narrative, that it wasn’t always the fairest coverage.” He also added in this election that the media wasn’t doing an adequate job in covering the vital issues like the economy and Afghanistan. If they were doing a adequate job, Romney – despite his shortcomings and campaign ineptitude – would be in much better shape at this point. Ask yourself if a Conservative was running for re-election right now, how much we’d be hearing and reading about high gas prices, unemployment, the debt the wars, the Mid-East vs. what we hear / read now.
Simply put, when the media is so slanted towards one side as they are towards the re-election of President Obama, the lies, half-truths and distortions go unchallenged. Those lies then filter their way into the mainstream public through not only traditional news sources but through the late night comedy shows, the entertainment industry and the co-worker in the next cube so the average voter comes to believe a lie as truth. The consequences are grim for a country where the political mantra is now “when you tell a lie enough times, it becomes true.” And what kind of lessons does that send our children?
October 1st Posted in: Current Issues with No Comments
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” – Hebrews 3:13
I attended college at the University of Illinois. Champaign-Urbana was a college town that was surrounded by farm country. The South Farms are located adjacent to the university and so you can imagine the smell that permeated the southern end of campus when the wind blew north. The amazing thing was that when you talked with many of the locals, they didn’t recognize and were oblivious to the smell. The reason – they grew up there and had grown accustomed to the aroma.
So it is with many Christians when it comes to sin. Many Christians could recite verbatim the so-called “big” sins. But I believe it’s the aroma of the little sins that we’ve become oblivious to that work their way in to undermine and unhinge our lives, marriages and families. Our nostrils have become hardened by the “stench of sin” because it permeates every aspect of our culture; in particular, the entertainment industry from the movies, television and internet we watch, to the music we listen to and video games we allow our kids to play. I’ve always been struck by the blurring of the line between how the secular culture approaches the entertainment industry as opposed to Christians. It seems little difference exists anymore between the culture and the church when it comes to our entertainment choices and our society is no better for it.
None of this is to say, we should move into the woods and take a vow to disconnect or isolate from the world around us. But we do need to “…guard our hearts and minds (and our children’s) in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). If anything is counter to the Word of God, then certainly it should not be allowed into our hearts, minds and homes. My wife and I have decided to get rid of our satellite service and go strictly with internet TV where we can choose and monitor what comes into our homes. I believe it’s important to set that distinction with our children now while they are young. When cable and satellite TV swept across the nation 30 years ago, there were distinct lines between “regular” local and network TV, basic cable and the pay channels. At that point, vulgarity, violence and sexual content were largely kept in the pay channel sphere.
Unfortunately, the lines have become so blurred that ads or show promos that can be viewed during commercial breaks in a ball game on network TV on a Sunday afternoon are quite often inappropriate. Even so-called “kid friendly” channels have storylines that model secular relationship habits among young teens are far from a biblical model that I would want my kids to emulate. Family values are being undermined across the entertainment landscape.
Is my stance here too rigid? Perhaps, but if you find yourself reading this and thinking “that’s a little too over the top”, then maybe, just maybe, you’ve been on the manure farm for so long that you no longer smell the stench.
August 20th Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with No Comments
(This is an updated version to the original post on my website, Twitter and Facebook last Thursday)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was right last week when he said that Chick-Fil-A does not reflect “Chicago Values“. The mayor’s remarks were in response to Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy’s expression of his personal belief on the biblical family unit to the Baptist Press which you can read unedited, along with the mayor’s comments, by clicking the respective hyperlinks above. From his standpoint, Mayor Emanuel is absolutely right. Chick-fil-A does not reflect Chicago values nor the nation’s for that matter.
Now, I’m not exactly sure how Emanuel would define “Chicago values” beyond the words he choose in in his statement. But let’s take a look at how many of those residents and neighbors treat one another. Chicago is one of the most violent crime-ridden, drug and gang-infested cities in the country. And most of that violence is neighbors and residents perpetuating violence against one another, too often ensnaring innocent victims, oftentimes children. Fatherlessness (70% of children born out of wedlock) runs rampant in the City, causing much of the social ills that lead to death and jail for too many young people.
Chick-Fil-A is not welcome, but strip clubs, “adult” themed bars and liquor stores on corner after corner are welcome? City Hall in Chicago is notorious for mafia influence, bribery and political scandals. Chick-Fil-A, on the other hand, is a company ranked #1 in the fast-food world – with a reputation for excellent, high quality customer service; a family-friendly atmosphere that values all its customers and employees.
From my vantage point, I wish Mayor Emanuel wasn’t right on this issue. I wish the City of my youth was more reflective of Chick-Fil-A’s “values”:). It’s worth noting as well that Cathy is right when he says that “we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.” But if the mayors of major cities like Chicago and Boston get their way, we may not enjoy that freedom for that much longer.
Here’s what I would do if I were Mayor Emanuel. I’d want to learn more about the culture that makes Chick-Fil-A a moral, economic and ethically American success story. I’d study whatever playbook they use to build their family-friendly environment that ranks #1 in employee and customer satisfaction. I then would open up as many Chick-Fil-A’s as possible throughout the city to positively impact the community. At that point, I’d share what I learned with my friend in the White House to implement this playbook nationwide.
I’m reminded here of Paul’s instructions to Timothy, to be truthful yet graceful, to stand for truth, yet do so with gentleness and respect.
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage —with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:2-4
July 26th Posted in: Current Issues with No Comments
Are homosexuals born that way? That’s been the $99,000 question in the debate to legitimize same-sex behavior for as long as I can remember. And unfortunately, it’s been the wrong question because yes – then, now and ever after people are born homosexual. We all are born with certain character traits, attractions and pre-dispositions that we don’t have control over.
As Christians, we believe that we’re all born into sin and it’s only through total surrender to Jesus Christ that we ask Him to come into our hearts to forgive us of our sins. Everybody’s stumbling block or sin is different. Some may be predisposed to drug or alcohol addiction, anger or malice or sexual perversion like adultery, promiscuity, pornography and yes, from a biblical worldview, homosexuality (see: Leviticus
18:22, Deuteronomy 23:17, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Timothy 1:9-10 among other scriptures that deal with God’s specific plan for the family and unambiguous stance on sexual relations).
This is a good time to stop and point out that sin is sin and God judges ALL SIN equally. Sexual sin, from a biblical point of view, is any sexual relationship that occurs outside of marriage between a man and a woman. I don’t believe God judges homosexuality any differently than heterosexuals having an impure thought life, engaging in promiscuous relationships, frequenting strip clubs or viewing pornography. Sexual sin is sexual sin and, for that matter, sin is sin and it’s only through Jesus Christ that we’re forgiven.
So going back to the original question, the wrong question (Are homosexuals born that way?), the question that we should have asked long ago and now should be asking is whether or not people can control acting upon the traits and attractions that they are predisposed to? And here is where the divide would occur because as Christians, we believe that upon salvation Jesus plants the Holy Spirit in our hearts and begins to regenerate our sinful heart (2 Corinthians 5:17) and can transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). He frees the addict, the adulterer as well as all of us from what we are predisposed to do through the sinful nature with which we were born. Now, make no mistake, there’s work and effort from our standpoint. We have a responsibility in how we respond to the Spirit, quoting the apostle Paul:
“I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want…The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:16-23).
Notice that the Paul doesn’t say we won’t have the desires of the flesh when we walk in the Spirit, but that we won’t carry out those desires. This is a very important distinction because, as long as we live, we’ll have some struggle against those fleshly desires (physical and emotional), the sinful nature we were born with. But we “are not to do whatever we want”. One of my closest family members, although they haven’t drank a drop of alcohol in 13 years, is an alcoholic and they’ll have some struggle with the desire to drink for the rest of their life. But thanks be to Jesus, they exercise the “self-control” Paul talks about in Galatians and are stronger physically, spiritually and emotionally through abstinence – a dying to self, that’s a lost virtue in our self-indulgent culture.
In closing, it’s also important that as our permissive culture (the media, entertainment industry, the secularized educational-system) continues to legitimize sexual sin in general, Christians will continue to be demonized as bigoted, hateful and intolerant for taking a biblical-stand as Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy found out for saying nothing more and nothing less than that he supported the Biblical model for the family unit. But that’s OK, were not supposed to be popular. But we are supposed to walk and love as Jesus did, in truth but also in grace, exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, loving the sinner – regardless of and despite of one’s sin. Because really, all we are is degenerate sinners ourselves, saved by God’s Holy Spirit, a Spirit that by walking with Him, keeps us all from indulging in whatever sin it is that seeks to destroy our souls.
July 23rd Posted in: Christian Living, Current Issues with 1 Comment
“You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…People light a lamp…and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16
Politics and religion – the two taboo topics they tell us never to discuss. Well I believe we can, and should, discuss both topics. However as Americans, and in particular Christians, we have a long way to go in learning how to do so in a respectful, non-divisive way. For me in particular, I’ve been among the worst offenders in allowing my political views to drown out my Christian testimony. It’s been a slow process. But I’ve learned gradually – while still struggling occasionally – to turn down the political dial and simultaneously turning up the faith dial to be “light and salt” to a lost world.
What we know is that basically about 40% of the country leans Democrat and about 40% of the country leans Republican with the rest being independent or just apathetic when it comes to politics. I believe too many times Christians make the mistake of tying themselves too closely to their political identity. The problem with being over-political in tying yourself to a particular party is that you automatically alienate at least
40% of the population – over political issues – which directly counters the message given by Jesus himself to be salt and light to everyone.
Further, the political waters can get quite murky. I’ve come to believe that while one party gives lip service to and takes the minority vote for granted. The other party gives lip service to and takes the faith-based vote for granted. In short, the corporate interests and lobbyists pulling the strings for each party don’t care about either the minority or faith-based communities. Instead, they allow them to be used – often times with divisive wedge issues – because those corporate interests and lobbyists know they can depend on 90% of the votes from each voting bloc to support their respective party.
We also need to be careful as Christians to really know our Bible when it comes to these issues. I’m convinced that while Jesus would stand arm and arm with Republicans on some issues; I’m equally convinced that He’d stand arm and arm with the Democrats on other issues. So I believe that Jesus would be a political independent – not allowing either party to take Him for granted – and we should follow his lead. We should examine the issues and vote as we feel led, doing so quietly by putting away the bumper stickers and signs, if we’re truly to allow our light to shine before others in fulfilling The Great Commission to all peoples, not just those who think and believe as we do.