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Call it what it is. Part 2

24 Sep

 

 

 

 

 

 

*This photo was taken from the article  “Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children” mentioned below. The purpose in using it was to point to the confusion surrounding issues pertaining to morality and how we understand them, not as a summary of three categories that all behaviours can be compartmentalized into.* (updated on September 27)

Do words matter all that much? You say “pot-A-to”, I say “po-TA-to”, right? In our postmodern, post-Christian culture, words and their meanings are relative. Truth, if there is such a thing, can be found from within yourself. If you believe it to be true, then it is. Before postmodernism, was the modern age, the result of 18th century Enlightenment thinkers who believed truth was made known on the basis of rational, scientific, and empirical inquiry. For many centuries prior to this, faith was the main means of coming to know the truth. Postmodernism is therefore a fairly recent historical shift in the way that people think. Without a grasp on the significance of postmodernism and its influence on how people perceive truth, Christians will be unable to defend against the tide of anti-biblical thinking, and once again, I want to make the case that it very much does matter what we say, and how we say it.

One of the most current and discussed examples of relativistic postmodern thinking is shown in the way our culture addresses sexuality. The biblical definition of marriage is the union of one man to one woman, for life. The point here is not to outline and defend the Biblical view of the marriage relationship, but simply to state that that is what God ordained as the one union where sexuality was to be expressed and enjoyed. Whether it be through sexual acts outside of marriage or through homosexual unions, the Bible is clear that sinful sexual behaviour is not only harmful and destructive to those engaged, but to others as well. This is not a popular view in the world, where promiscuity and personal fulfillment by whatever means is applauded as the highest good.

For many centuries, conservative views of sexuality were the norm, which is not to say that homosexuality and other types of unbiblical sexual behaviour did not occur, but that the dominant view supported the union of one man to one woman. For the past five decades since the sexual revolution, we have seen the traditional view crumble, relatively quickly, and be replaced with a very different morality. Albert Mohler recently wrote an article in The Atlantic about the sexual revolution where he states that prior to the 1960s when it began to occur, “Divorce was difficult, if not impossible to obtain, and it came with a taint of scandal that could doom professional prospects and personal reputation. Premarital sex happened, but it was discouraged. Homosexuality dared not speak its name, and lifestyles pressing for moral legitimacy today were virtually unknown to most Americans. Adultery was not only censured, but often penalized by both law and public condemnation.” The new morality that replaced old views of sexuality has had and will continue to have devastating personal, familial and social affects.

Here is where the need for Christian courage and clarity comes in to play. With the sexual revolution and postmodern thinking, there comes a strong argument against any absolute views of morality. Since the postmodern world believes that truth is relative, and people must determine for themselves what is good and right, and the only thing that is unacceptable would be to condemn or disagree with anyone’s personal views, Christians must have even more courage to stand for biblical truth even in the face of great pressure to accept and applaud all forms of sexual behavior. What Mohler mentions about the pre-1960s view of homosexuality is clearly not the case anymore. In fact, homosexuality is now applauded and encouraged in the most public forums possible. Parades, political platforms, advocacy groups, television and social media, all participate in promoting and praising the homosexual lifestyle as not only an alternative form of sexuality, but a good and desirable way of life. For example, how should Christians, when discussing the issue of so-called same-sex marriage, use their words to make it clear that they have a biblical perspective on sexuality? By doing just that. John Piper gets the credit for clarifying to me that even though there is a debate that is ongoing about legalizing the union of homosexuals, calling it marriage essentially identifies it as a legitimate union. His purposeful addition of “so-called” is not meant to be inflammatory but to be truthful. I’m not suggesting that we all must use this phrasing, so much as I am calling for Christians to be clear in their thinking and discussions. This may sound like a minor issue of wording but it’s not. Marriage is a union that was ordained by God, and since He created and determined its nature, we must hold to that view regardless of the shifting sands of cultural opinion that are giving way under our feet.

What could this mean for Christians? Will it really matter that Christians refer to it as “so-called same-sex marriage”? Will it matter that pastors preach sermons on texts that call homosexuality a sin? Will it matter that Christian children quietly refuse to participate in events that promote unbiblical sexuality at school? I think that the day is approaching (if not already here), when many Christians will be punished in various ways for their beliefs. Take a look at this short article from Desiring God regarding a case in New Mexico where a Christian photography business would not photograph a same-sex wedding and was brought to court as a result. Just Google Chic-fil-A and see what kind of slanderous things are being said about the company and their position on marriage. Or read the comments of many Torontonians who are enraged that Christian parents (along with other concerned parents) are asking the TDSB to opt their children out of classes where teachers are teaching on subjects such as homosexuality. What about this piece called “Born This Way: Sympathy and Science for Those Who Want to Have Sex With Children” (*warning- some graphic content) written recently on a prominent online site that argues that pedophilia may simply be an illness, one that we must not condemn pedophiles for since it may be beyond their control? Take a look at this article on a film that was shown at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival that celebrates incest. Now that we have seen the normalization and institutionalization of homosexuality, and sadly the increasing charge to normalize other types of sinful sexual behaviour like pedophilia and incest, we are going to face the challenge of holding on to our beliefs, and the necessity of acting in accordance to conscience, against much pressure and potential punishment and ostracization.

We need to ask ourselves these questions. Are we willing to first and foremost be people of the book, no matter what it costs us? Do we have confidence that God’s word is the source of Truth and that His word and all it contains is written for our good, and for the good of the entire unbelieving world. Do we believe that biblical truth is not transient but absolute, and therefore what was written four thousand years ago is still relevant to us today? If we believe this, then we need to live and speak accordingly and as Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” We need to be transformed by the renewing of the word so that we may be able to test and approve what is good and acceptable to God. We will be for the good of all people, if and only if our minds and hearts are fixed on Biblical truths and we learn to articulate them in a way that confronts, convicts, and comforts people with the hope of the Gospel. And most of all, we will be seeking after what is acceptable to God, the only one who we must aim to please.

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Why Being Progressive Isn’t Always a Good Thing

20 Aug

It’s very “au courant” to be progressive. When that word progressive is used today, it has the connotation, to most, of someone or something that is “with the times” and has left behind old, out-dated notions. If you’re a progressive, you’re modern, you’re interested in  reform, you hold to new, liberal ideas.

But being progressive isn’t always a good thing, especially when it comes to Scripture. There are and have always been shifts throughout Christian history, where a person or group began to advocate teaching that seemed to “progress” beyond orthodox Christian beliefs. By orthodox, I’m not referring to the Orthodox church, but rather, I mean truths that have been universally accepted by Christians since the time of Jesus. Diverging. Moving away. To diverge and move away would be good things, if the teaching that was being supported was untrue or harmful. But when moving away and diverging from the truth is what’s taking place, you’re in a dangerous place. Today, movements within Christianity such as the emergent church, and the prosperity gospel  are good examples of false teaching that has and continues to lead many people astray. Being led astray is no small thing, when the matter at hand is one of life and death.

In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus says “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Those who do not bear fruit, or do not display the marks of true disciples, will be proved in the end to be false. And those who are not true disciples, as the Bible says, will spend eternity apart from God, in hell. That is a grim reality for anyone who has believed a false teacher and who has followed their teaching. Therefore, leaving behind or straying from what is true and following what is false is of mortal danger to the soul.

Last week, I came across this powerful sermon from John Piper and wanted to share the link with you. He makes six points from 2 Timothy 3:14-17 on why we must continue on in the truth found in Scripture. Here is a short summary of the main points, but I hope you’ll be willing to take a listen (or 3- I had to in order to soak up as much as I could, and I’ll probably listen again!) and study this passage as a reminder, or introduction, on why we must not leave the Scriptures and “progress” to new, different, au courant teachings.

2 Timothy 3:14–17,

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

1. The character of the people who taught you the truth (verse 14b).

– Don’t forget the testimony of those who taught you the truth. Part of our confidence in the faith is in the credibility of the witness of those who were influential in leading us to Christ.

2. The marks of divine holiness in the Scriptures (verse 15a).

– “Just as God’s holiness is his utter uniqueness, so the Scriptures share in that holiness and have their own self-authenticating unique traits. So, Timothy, stay in what you’ve learned, because these writings are holy, they bear the distinguishing marks of the one and only God. Don’t turn away from them. Ask God to give you eyes.”

3. The power of Scripture to save sinners (verse 15b).

– “The Scriptures are uniquely suited to subdue folly and impart wisdom which can then see reality and embrace saving truth.”

4. The Scriptures brought you to Christ  (verse 15c).

– “The Scriptures prepared your mind and heart to see Jesus for who he is and to believe in him. Don’t walk away from the writings that brought you to Christ.”

5. The Scriptures are God-breathed (verse 16).

– “God’s influence was not simply on the mind of the writers in general, but his attention to the process of Scripture creation was such that when their minds and hands  composed actual Scripture words, these words were so much God’s words that Paul says the writings themselves are God-breathed.”

6. Finally, the Scripture is profitable—inestimably profitable (verses 16–17).

– “The God-breathed Bible aims to make us godly. To make us doers of good in this world. Don’t miss that. The doctrines of the Bible are designed to produce deeds. Good deeds. And they do it by teaching, verse 16, and that teaching has three sequential effects: Reproof, correction, and training in righteousness.”