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The Other Worldview
Commentators in major national newspapers in Scotland are aghast. A 100-member youth choir from a Southern Baptist church in Plano, Texas gave a free concert at a shopping center in Edinburgh. The journalists compared this event to Nazi or ISIS propaganda. One asserted: “as a nation we should be stating clearly: bigots are not welcome here.” Scotland is the land of John Knox, the great Scotts reformer (1513–72), and of the young, deeply spiritual Robert Murray McCheyne (1813–43) who declared: “The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God.” Now Scotland is a land where preaching the Gospel is compared to noxious Nazism.
The reason for such vitriol? The Plano church follows biblical teaching on sexual ethics, marriage and abortion. Its stated mission is “to glorify God by introducing Jesus Christ as Lord to as many people as possible and to develop them in Christian living using the most effective means to impact the world, making an eternal difference in this generation.” The social commentators feel this mission must be suppressed if Western society is to progress.
According to the Pew Research Center, Newsweek and The Economist, Christians are the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.
Though we can hardly imagine it, the same rejection and persecution taking place in Islam-dominated countries is appearing in “Christendom.” Hate-filled terms like Nazism or ISIS are employed to preserve the West from “hate-filled” Gospel preaching and biblical teaching on sexuality.
Ironically, the caricature of a select group and the refusal to engage in intelligent discussion was exactly how the Nazis functioned in a sophisticated Western culture some seventy-three years ago. Without serious debate as to the supposed genetic inferiority of the Jews, a whole process of culturally intimidating events led to the most heinous crime of modern times. Last year, while visiting family members who live and work in Berlin, we took a tour of the nearby Wannsee House, a beautiful guest house on the edge of a large lake. This manor home was the site of a famous breakfast meeting of fifteen high-ranking SS leaders. In just an hour and a half, over German sausage and cheese, the Wannsee Conference created the “Final Solution,” a plan to murder all European Jews. The only way this could be done was to believe the lie that Jews were subhuman, even though scores of Jews were already Nobel Prize winners!
I don’t want to be sensationalist, but human evil continually raises its ugly head, as it just did in Scotland.
In the US, the University of Cincinnati requires faculty and staff applicants to pledge their commitment to “diversity and inclusion”; otherwise applicants will not get jobs. To receive tenure at Virginia Tech you must show proof of fully endorsing “diversity and inclusion.” The National Parent Teachers Association at its 2016 Annual Convention in Orlando supported “legislation that specifically recognizes LGBTQ as a protected group.” In coming days any class-room teacher who affirms biblical teaching about gender may well be charged with discrimination under federal and state laws.
The opposition to Christianity takes a troubling turn with the not-so veiled threat of progressive Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet: “The culture wars are over; they [the Christians] lost, we won….taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers.” There will be, he warns, no accommodations or exceptions.
The cultural noose is tightening. As Pew Research just noted: “The U.S. has long been a Christian-majority nation, but major social changes may be making at least one segment of Christians—evangelicals—feel like America is becoming a more difficult place for them to live.” [Pew Research Center: Religion and Public Life, July 14, 2016]. The reason is that Evangelicals refuse to conform to this world and boldly hold to Scripture. Though we must seek the protection of our civil rights, the Apostle Peter’s words are an important reminder:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Pet. 4:12–14).
Episode 15 we have Dr. Rev. Gabe Fluhrer with us discussing why scripture should be the foundation of a Christians worldview.
“We make Scripture the standard of our thinking, and not our thinking the standard of Scripture.” – Cornelius Van Til
Who has a right to speak out about homosexuality after the Orlando Gay Bar massacre, and what should be said? It is tempting for Christians who hold to the biblical condemnation of homosexuality to go silent, but is that right?
One group that does not hesitate is ISIS, which from the beginning has openly claimed responsibility, describing the gunman as one of its heroic fighters. Various Islamic spokesmen, like Fahad Qureshi, admitted in 2013 that the desire to see homosexuals killed was a belief held even by “moderate” Muslims. Just weeks before Orlando, Muslim cleric Sheikh Farrokh Sekaleshfar, during a sermon at an Orlando-area mosque, called for gays to be executed “out of compassion.” In the same vein, the front page of an Islamic Turkish newspaper (with links to the country’s President Erdoğan) justifies the killing, calling those who died in the Orlando mass shooting “perverts” and “deviants.”
Others who speak out are homosexual activists, believing that this slaughter provides the occasion to encourage the rightful spread of homosexual practice. Author Karl Soehnlein, when hearing that the murderer’s anger was provoked by seeing two men kissing in “an expression of love,” has vowed to “flood the world with images of men kissing…fight back with love.” President Obama, avoiding any open accusations of Islam, implies that the real problem is how we think about LGBT practice. He exhorts the nation: “We need the strength and courage to change our attitudes toward the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”
Inevitably, biblical Christians are singled out as promoting violence via “violent” speech. Describing Tony Perkins of Family Research Council as “an anti-gay hate group leader,” a group called “Faithful America” is seeking to get him barred from speaking on national television. The left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center long ago designated FRC as a hate group. Time Magazine employed a “homosexual Christian” to affirm “What Christians Must Do in the Wake of Orlando,” blaming Christians for causing “deep, lasting pain in LGBT people’s lives,” asserting that “Unless you’ve long been a vocal advocate for LGBT people, you’ve likely contributed to that suffering—intentionally or not.” The article implies that anything but acceptance creates a climate of mass killing. Liberals within the church agree. Florida Catholic Bishop Robert Lynch blames the church for playing a part in the massacre. “Sadly, it is religion, including our own,” he says, “that targets, mostly verbally, and often breeds contempt for gays, lesbians and transgender people.” This weak explanation in no way accounts for the violence of Isis.
Clearly, Christians must pause to ask if their speech expresses hatred. Alas, there are “Christians” who, like radical Muslims, exult in the slaughter. The pastor of Verity Baptist Church, Sacramento, CA, Roger Jimenez, praises the massacre, claiming to be upset that the gunman did not finish the job! He states in hateful terms: “As Christians we shouldn’t be mourning the deaths of these fifty sodomites because the Bible teaches that these sodomites are all, every single one of them, a predator.”
Indeed, the heartless bloodshed in Orlando is a reminder to Christians that our response must be a combination of love and truth, involving both the human situation and the being of God.
The Christian calling is to make known the good news that God loves sinners for whom Jesus paid the ultimate price. Inasmuch as we are all sinners, we may not define anyone as beyond the reach of God’s mercy.
But we must first and foremost speak the truth about this loving God. This will be the theological message of our conference in October 7–8, 2016, in Escondido, CA, “Two Loves: A Biblical Response to ‘Gay Christianity,’” to which, dear reader, you are invited. Alas, many do not understand that the normalization of homosexuality undermines the person of God who, as Creator, made human beings male and female to reflect his Trinitarian image (Gen. 1:27). For God’s honor and for true human flourishing, this truth must be maintained.
Christians may not play the part of God, who alone is the ultimate judge. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord” (Heb. 10:30). In pleading to God for Sodom, Abraham says what all believers must affirm: “Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just?” (Gen. 18:25). In the New Testament the church is never given authority to impose civil physical justice on the culture, a role given explicitly to the duly-appointed magistrate (Rom. 13:1–4). Spiritual excommunication of church members is the only response to blatant, unrepentant sin—of believers.
Christians must warn of the final judgment, which no one escapes. Yet we also have a humble, marvelous truth to announce from the rooftops: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim 1:15).
REVIEW OF Rachel Lu, “The LGBT Movement Will Self-Destruct,” The Federalist (May 31, 2016)
Rachel Lu begins her controversial thesis by describing the innocuous rise and fall of “inventive spelling,” which proposed liberating options like “girl,” “gurl” and “grrrrl.” This is hardly reason to think that the supremacy of pan-sexuality will disappear as speedily. While many “normal folks” will warm to her prediction that “Within my lifetime, the LGBT movement will die,” her shallow analysis makes her prediction seriously misleading and deceptive.
For Lu, the present bizarre LGBT gender practice is simply one of the “foolish idea[s]” growing out of the Sixties sexual revolution. Other than that, she leaves the phenomenon virtually unexplained.
Because Lu does not go to the heart of sexual perversity, she fails to measure its power. The rise of unrestrained sexual expression must eventually be seen in the light of the parallel rise of religious paganism in the modern world. For an accurate perspective, we need to go to the heart of things. In Romans 1, Paul defines “ground zero” of human existence: only two ways of being a human—we either worship God the Creator or we worship creation. The very starting point of faith, what Paul calls “the truth,” is recognition of the Creator and of the contingent nature of the creation. This is the truth upon which all human existence depends, including human sexual existence. He explicitly argues (vv. 26–28) that the rejection of God as Creator ultimately explains sexual deviancy.
His logic is flawless. The physical exchange (overturning foundational natural sexuality in favor of perverse sexuality) is understood in light of two preceding and parallel exchanges:
- the exchange of the theological “truth” of God as Creator, for “the lie” (v. 25), which makes nature god, and
- the exchange of spiritual worship (v. 23) of God the Creator for worship of idols
Thus, dishonoring God in idolatry (1:21) is exhibited by dishonoring our bodies in dishonorable passions (1:26).
Ms. Lu makes a number of valid points as to why sexual perversity will go away. She predicts: “Eventually, Nature Comes Roaring Back.” In other words, the practice of anything-goes-sex is “too incoherent and too inimical to real human good.”
She also appeals to pragmatism. “Society’s wealthier and better-educated tend to reject life patterns quickly when it becomes clear they beget widespread misery and dysfunction.” Unfortunately many “gays” are “wealthy and better educated.”
She points to the lack of scientific studies establishing the normativity of LGTB sexuality, demonstrating the value of unrestrained sex, so “when the wheels start coming off completely, it’s worth remembering that a wheel-less vehicle is no longer able to drive.”
These points are generally well-taken. A society constructed against the pattern laid down by the Creator will eventually implode. But we have no reason to think that this implosion will occur in Ms. Lu’s life-time, because the rebellion is spiritually profound.
Her solutions you could place in the naively “all we need to do” category. “We must protect our own children from this culture, especially from the blight of pornography and a hyper-sexualized media.” However this liberated sexuality controls the media and, increasingly, the education system, and no one seems able to control pornography. Her proposals, therefore, lack practical effectiveness.
She calls on present traditional culture to “build and preserve communities in which morally important truths can be instilled at least in our own offspring.” She gives no basis for morals, however, nor reasons why existing communities should be any more successful at instilling morals in the future than they are now.
Her final solution is to “engage our compatriots in civil discourse concerning the body, sex, marriage, and parenting.” But how can we define a legitimate and convincing “civil discourse” that gets to the heart of the issue, when we live in a multicultural public square where every opinion is valid, and where incivility, especially among the LGBT people, is now the norm? So the deep problem goes unaddressed. Alas, no discourse that fails to take account of the spiritual can succeed.
I pray that Ms. Lu is correct and that health-denying idolatry will eventually implode because civilization must reproduce and can only do it according to God’s design. The solution must nonetheless include an awareness of the great depth of our rebellion against God the Creator. A cultural implosion will not be like the end of “inventive spelling.” The “wheels coming off” will bring enormous cultural devastation, as God gives our culture over to the consequences of its deep rebellion. Hopefully that disaster will eventually lead to repentance, to spiritual revival in a new search for the deeply religious basis for human dignity and to a turning back to God by trusting in and obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today on the podcast, Dr. Jones and the crew discuss the upcoming conference in October 7-9, 2016, “The Two Loves: A Biblical Responses to ‘Gay Christianity’,” featuring in particular two leading experts in the field, Dr. Michael Brown and Dr. Rosaria Butterfield. We hope to show that the stakes for the church go far beyond the rightful concern for the practical issues of living in a paganized culture, for the preservation of free speech rights, and for the pastoral care of individual suffering homosexuals who deserve Christian love. We must go deeper, to identify the prior ideological ways of thinking, either the pagan worship of nature or the Twoist beauty of God’s good creation. These notions go to the very definition of existence which is what Scripture brings to the world. Without seeking to make homosexuals feel guilty, we must show the implications of our Christian message for purity, holiness and the radical transformation made possible by the Twoist Gospel. We intend to show that those powerful, positive elements will be lost if pagan-inspired “Gay Christianity” becomes a defining element of Christian practice.