Biblical Morality–A Crime Against Humanity?


Homosexuality laws 2

Homosexuality laws (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Current events did not take long to prove Dr. Mohler correct in his assertion yesterday that gay rights has become the centerpiece of a new moral “McCarthyism.” Dr. Mohler’s commentary concerning “The Giglio Imbroglio” has proved prescient. Today, news has come out that an American pastor is being sued for “crimes against humanity” because of his views on homosexuality.

 

Scott Lively, a pastor and activist who believes that homosexuality is a sinful undermining of traditional marriage and family norms, has been sued by SMUG (Sexual Minorities of Uganda–a political action group funded by George Soros).  The lawsuit has been filed in federal district court and appeals to international law, citing a trip that Lively took to Uganda to speak out against the homosexual lifestyle.

 

The case seems important to me for two different reasons. On the one hand, it is troubling that an American citizen is being sued in U.S. Federal court on the basis of international law pertaining to events in another country. If this path is followed, then it would open an entirely new line of extra-constitutional ammunition to employ against Christians or any who dare violate the accepted norms of the policemen of political correctness.

 

Second, and much more importantly, if the case is not thrown out entirely (as Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel is suggesting), then it will encourage the further persecution of Christians who hold a biblical position of calling homosexuality a sin. What Lively has done is express his opinions. For those opinions, he is being charged with assault against the entire population of humankind.

 

I’m not a huge fan of Scott Lively. He has been over the top in some of his opinions against homosexuality. Nevertheless, he has not harmed anyone. He made clear that he does not condone Uganda’s proposed death penalty for homosexuality. So, even those who oppose him should recognize that he does have the right to free speech.

 

At what point should those preaching tolerance actually have to exercise some of their own?

 

 

A Marriage Proposal


First, I would like to thank Meredithancret for a cordial and spirited debate. We obviously disagree, but she has been respectful and has engaged in dialogue on the subject of gay marriage—a subject most consider too controversial to discuss.  I appreciate the fact that there has been actual dialogue, even if there is disagreement.  Thanks, Meredith. You can check out her blog here.

Second, I hope to address some of the concerns which have been voiced.  In fact, Meredith asked a very direct question which is at the heart of the debate concerning marriage.  It is too bad that others aren’t asking the same question.  She asked, “What is marriage?”

Historically, there have been 3 different answers posited in reply to this question.  The answers are as follows: Biological union, legal contract recognition, or beneficial economic arrangement.  Of these 3 options, I would say that I have been arguing for the first, while Meredith has been arguing for the second.  Why do I argue for marriage as a biological union? On the basis of reality.  I assert that the reality of humanity argues unambiguously for heterosexual marriage.

By this statement, I mean to say that heterosexual marriage is built into creation.  You may prefer to think of creation as the 19th Century followers of the Enlightenment did—as Nature (with a capital N).  Or, in your current progressive milieu, you may prefer nature (without the capital N).  Or you may have progressed already so far that you prefer to refer to reality in the laughable (yet often accepted) language of mother nature.  In former days, some would have used the terms, common sense.

Whatever you call it, it argues for heterosexual marriage. I mean to argue for heterosexual marriage from the perspective of easily recognizable reality.  When a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to a wife, the two become a new family unit.  The very natural outcome of the new couple’s coitus is, of course, children.  Hence, humanity progresses through the process of a man and woman leaving two families to start another family.  Nothing is more natural.  Humanity itself is furthered by this conjugal union, a fact which ought to please the evolutionists among us.

In this sense, then, cultures and societies are built upon the biological, conjugal relations of a man and a woman forming a family unit.  Contrary to what has been asserted, this notion is not the recent invention of the modern church.  It has been around since the original couple, Adam and Eve (thus the Matthew 19 reference).

Now, before anyone gets his hackles out of whack, allow me to say that I do believe in Adam and Eve as the original parents.  Evolutionists may or may not have a name for the original progenitors of humanity—I don’t know.  Regardless, there was an original male and female joined together to continue the human race.  Historically—even without reference to Adam and Eve—cultures and societies have been built around the conjugal union of a man and his wife.

We have records from the earliest civilization on record—ancient Sumer—which demonstrate that marriage was indeed between a man and a woman.  The custom was very much like that of Israel in the Old Testament.  The husband offered a bridal price for the woman he desired to marry.  After paying the bridal price to her father, the groom was able to take his bride out of her family home and into his home, where the two became a new family unit, recognized by their government as a new family unit.

No one here is asserting that the norm has been perfect, ubiquitous, or without anomalies and exceptions.  History includes polygamy and homosexuality.  Nevertheless, the enduring reality of heterosexual marriage as a foundational institution endures today as a vital aspect of humanity.  It is reality—even after New York.  It is such an obvious, foundational element of humanity that heterosexual marriage will endure beyond the most recent assaults against it.  Just as marriage endured as a lasting human institution through the political attempts of the 19th Century polygamists, so, too, will heterosexual marriage persevere through the 21st Century assaults of the same-sex marriage proponents.  And the reason heterosexual marriage will endure is that it is a fundamental reality of humankind rooted in biological union.

Against this plain reality, an alternate definition is being proposed by Meredith, namely, that marriage does not mean anything except what society decides for itself that marriage means.  Any attempt to establish marriage as inherently meaningful is so unreasonable that it could only come from religion.  If it comes from religion, then it must be dismissed because there can be no religious influence in matters of state control.  [I might be misunderstanding Meredith’s argument here, but this is the way I read it].  Therefore, marriage can only be given the definition of a social construct: Whatever society decides is right.

Against this, I would say that the ancient Sumerians weren’t “religious” if by religious we mean from a Judeo-Christian worldview.  Nevertheless, they recognized the value for society of the marriage between a man and a woman.  The Sumerians did not invent or define marriage, they recognized it as an inherent, biologically-based reality of the human condition.  To make it something less is to make marriage meaningless.  The notion that marriage is nothing more than what society decides is not pragmatically workable.

If this were the case, then marriage might just as well mean that 2 sisters living in an apartment together could call themselves married and, thus, enjoy the societal benefits of being married.  Why not?  What could possibly prevent these 2 consenting adults from being married?  Why should society discriminate against them just because they never found a man or another woman outside of their own family?  Why are these 2 sisters an acceptable target for the narrow-minded bigotry of restricting marriage to hetero/homosexual marriage?

Just as easily as society deems two men to be legally, contractually married, so, too, could society deem three men to be so or four men and two women.  Why not allow families to define themselves instead of having government define families?  Thus, the Manson Family would be every bit as legitimate as my family according to this definition.  Or else, on what basis would society exclude [discriminate against?] these adults wanting to enjoy the benefits of marriage?  On what basis would you exclude an adult daughter from marrying her father, especially after her mother passed away?  Could a woman enjoy the benefits of being married to her dog?  On what basis would that be excluded?  If marriage is self-defined, then its definition would have a limitless range.  In short, if marriage has no inherent meaning, then it has no meaning at all.

Viewing marriage as a mere social construct is untenable.  I suspect that Meredith and others would not care if the definitions changed and morphed into any number of carnal contortions.  Yet, that fact does not mean they don’t care about the definition of marriage.   In fact, if marriage were a mere social construct, then there would be no effort from gay activists to redefine it.

Consider it this way:  To all who would like to argue for the right of the state to define marriage anyway the state (or the majority of society) wishes it to be, I have this simple question for you to answer.  Why are you unwilling to accept the definition the states (majority of society) have already embraced?  About 60 % of the United States have constitutional amendments defining marriage exclusively between a man and a woman.  The question is already settled.  The states have defined marriage in the exact way they want it defined.  Why seek to overturn this definition?  On what grounds? You cannot answer that question without recourse to higher reality.  You believe in the inherent value of things apart from social constructs, you just don’t want to admit it.

A Little Monday Controversy


I know I shouldn’t wade into the New York controversy on a Monday morning, but I do think it is worth considering the question, “What is marriage?”  The successful effort of late in New York has redefined marriage to mean something that it has not meant before.  The state has changed the reality of what we know as marriage.

Obviously, I would object to a redefinition on “religious” grounds (see Romans 1:18ff).  But this issue is not necessarily a “religious” issue.  It is a “reality” issue.  George Weigel has a thoughtful explanation of what the decision in New York means in terms of the power of the state to impose its own reality on the citizenry.  Please give his column a thoughtful read without the emotional, knee-jerk thoughtlessness of many comments I have read lately by gay rights advocates who believe gay marriage is a civil rights issue. The issue is not a civil rights issue (for reasons Weigel explains).  The issue is one of dismantling reality into an alternate image desired by political power.

The issue is an attempt to redefine reality.  Such a redefinition does not enlarge us, it diminishes us by disconnecting us from the rails of reality.  A train does not become more free by jumping off its tracks–even if the field it enters promises to be vast and expansive and full of riches.  Marriage has been defined and is defined a certain way.  Pretending it can be another might make some feel better about themselves for a short season, but it will do nothing to protect and preserve humanity.

Reality is what it is, and no state–not even New York–has the authority to alter it.  Sadly, what I believe will follow in New York is a whole new set of freedoms lost in an attempt to maintain this new unreality.  Religious freedom will be the first freedom to go.  Freedom of speech will be second.  The state will have to control its newfangled reality by force because it will not be able to rely on what is self-evidently obvious any longer.  So, the state will have to force religious charities to act according to its legalized unreality.  Then, the state will force its citizenry not to speak against its brave new order of legislated reality. That is what I think this decision means from a political perspective.  That is why, sociologically speaking, I oppose New York’s new law.

Read Weigel’s piece. I think he explains it well from a non-sectarian perspective.

Hellfire to Homosexuality, Pt. 3


So, to the heart of the issue, I turn my attention now to the question of how God can judge people for doing what is natural to them.  As I have already pointed out, the question itself is a little flawed in that “natural” or “by nature” is not easily defined.  Typically, we call natural what our wills are bent toward doing (that is, what we desire to do, giving no regard to what God or others might say is best for us to do).  We trust our own desires and tend to be controlled by them as though there is nothing higher or better than our private appetites.

To put the matter quite plainly, we are slaves of our own appetites (Romans 16:18).  This condition is true not just of those with an appetite for homosexuality but also for those who have an appetite for fornication, adultery, thievery, covetousness, bribery, slander, gossip, or murder.  The root problem is not the behavior so much as it is the appetite which feeds the behavior.  And the appetite is driven by the nature of the creature.  Rabbits have no appetite for steak.  They prefer the green beans in my garden.  Their nature is herbivore, not carnivore.

By nature, we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3).  We are born under the curse of sin—all of us.  We are all sinners by nature.  We are all “condemned already.”  In other words, the root problem is not so much that we prefer this sin or that sin.  The root problem is that we are by nature unfit for the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:53).  All of us.  God does not condemn us simply because we practice homosexuality or covet our neighbor’s wife.  Rather, we engage in these sinful behaviors because we are by nature sinners.  And no sinner has eternal life in him.  He is condemned already to death which came into the world through Adam.

No sinner can be in the presence of a Holy God.  As Jesus taught, we must be born again (John 3:3).  It is the sinner who is condemned precisely because his nature is sinful.  The sinner must be born again.  He must be made into a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).  New creatures have new appetites for good works (Ephesians 2:10).  And this is what God demands.  He demands that all people everywhere repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.  He demands that we be made new so we can dwell in His presence.  He demands that we have a new heart so that we desire holiness and exercise peace, love, and joy with hope in Christ.

So, really, the issue is not so much that we should say to a homosexual, “Stop doing that, or you will burn in Hell” [that is only a 1/2 truth, or it is true only superficially].  Rather, the issue is that the homosexual is a sinner condemned already who practices sin because it is his nature to do so.  He prefers one sin.  I once preferred other sins.  But we were both condemned precisely because we were sinners and needed to be born again into the righteousness of God.  Not one of us is righteous by nature (See Romans 3).  But Christ, being rich in mercy, even while we were yet sinners, He died for us—the righteous for the unrighteous—so that through Him we may inherit eternal life.

I understand that this message will be offensive to those who practice homosexuality, but it is no more offensive to them than it was offensive to me.  This same gospel offended my own personal desires for the flesh, too.  The gospel offends all people equally at the very spot of their most intimate, defining appetites.  We have ample appetite for sinfulness with no appetite for godliness.  That is the problem.  We lust for the flesh but have no love for the Father who created us and is calling us to Himself.  Therefore, God rightly condemns us because we worship ourselves.  We worship our own sex.  We worship our own bodies.  We worship and serve the things of creation and give no glory to their creator.

Our problem is our sin nature.  Our sin nature separates us from God.  God will never allow fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, the covetous, or swindlers into His eternal presence.  These [meaning We] are condemned already.  That is the bad news, but the good news is that we can be washed and made right with God.  This good news is why Paul—right after he mentions the list of sinners which I just mentioned (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)—also goes on to say, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

The reason God is completely just for condemning people according to their nature is, first, that the nature of God is Holiness, without imperfection or impurity.  He owes Himself to no one.  He would be just if He left everyone of us to our condemnation.  And He would be unjust to look on any one of us with indifference, as though our sin were not a problem.  He rightly condemns everyone who does not delight in His holiness.  And yet, in His great mercy, he does not leave men to their condemnation.  Rather, he sent His only Son, Jesus, to take away the curse of sin.  He sent Jesus to transfer the guilt of sin onto Himself and to offer the righteousness of God to those who would believe.  He calls all men everywhere to repent, believe, and be born again into the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  So, second, God is just in that He has done everything to correct the problem.  He offers to remake our natures so that we are acceptable in His sight.

When God—the offended party—goes to such great lengths to reconcile with sinners that He is even willing to offer His own son, shouldn’t those who caused the offense at least acknowledge His goodness and His mercy toward them?  What should God do when those people instead mock, ridicule, and slander His Son?  Their condemnation is just (Romans 2:1-11; John 3:18).

My cry to (and for) those who practice homosexuality is the same cry I have for all people: Be reconciled to God.  Whether they are born that way or not, my hope is that they will be born again from God.  I know what my sin nature was.  I know how easily I dismissed other people or used them for my own appetites.  Worse, I know how I gladly kept God at bay and would not hear of His mercy out of an ingrained fear of His wrath.  Yet, I also know the grace God has offered me in this gospel.  That is my hope and my cry for other sinners such as I was (and still am in a certain sense, although now I am a new creature and no longer by nature a child of wrath).  God is and always will be just in His judgments.  But He is right now offering mercy to those who would believe.

I do hope this conversation helps to clarify what it means to have natural inclinations toward sin and how it is that God is just in condemning sinners.  Where there is a lack of clarity, I take full responsibility and will attempt to make amends if asked.

Hellfire to Homosexuality, Pt. 2


So, to the more weighty matters of the conversation, I would reiterate my own belief that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16).  The issue for Christians is the salvation of souls, not the success of political parties.  Like many Americans, we have opinions on political matters, but opinions are like nostrils, everybody has a couple.  When it comes to salvation, we don’t rely on mere opinions, but on revelation from God.  Surely, many will doubt the possibility of God revealing His will to humankind, but Christians do not doubt that He has spoken perfectly in His Son.  The accurate record of the revelation of Christ (the Son of God) is the Bible.

The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin and, as such, disqualifies one from salvation.  This biblical statement does not mean, as the hatemongers of Westboro Baptist assert, that “God hates fags.”  God’s hatred is not toward homosexuals, it is toward sinners.  God’s wrath is provoked by sinful folks who ignore His truth and reject His Son.  Such wrath is not reserved to those of a particular sexual persuasion.  It is reserved (as Romans 1:18 says) for those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

Interestingly, my friend is in agreement that “suppressing the truth” is at the heart of the matter (even though he understands the suppression differently than I do).  If I understand him correctly, he is concerned that Christians are actually asking (or demanding) that gays suppress the truth of who they really are in order to conform to an arbitrary (or archaic) scheme of sexual morality under the duress of eternal damnation.  I will admit that when the matter is painted that way, it is repugnant.  First of all, none of us wants to be tricked, manipulated, or coerced on matters as personal as sexuality.  Second, it seems that certain behaviors (like homosexuality) are quite natural for some.

In reply, the first thing I will say is that it is not in any way clear that Nature (or nature’s God) has hardwired homosexuality—at least not in the sense that it does not or cannot change.  In 2009 at the convention of the American Psychological Association, a symposium was held on the matter of sexual orientation change.  The symposium, chaired by Dr. A. Dean Byrd of the University of Utah Medical School, discussed a research project which sought to test the hypothesis that sexual orientation is not changeable.  In this project, the researchers identified a subgroup population which self identified as “Truly Gay,” meaning that these were more mature persons with a 100% certainty of their sexual orientation.  They self-identified as having no heterosexual inclinations at all.  The researchers concluded that their hypothesis was wrong, that sexual orientation can and does change.  The researchers were particularly surprised by the results within the Truly Gay subpopulation: Our most surprising single finding, and one that is replicated over several different measures, is that the Truly Gay subpopulation experienced more significant change. So, it would seem that if homosexuality is hardwired by Nature (or nature’s God), then it is at least possible for it to be unwired or re-wired.

Second, when it comes to Nature, we must remember that Natural facts are themselves interpreted things, and in humility we all should realize our interpretations could be wrong.  For instance, what does one mean by saying that his homosexuality is natural for him?  Most likely, he means to say that he is most comfortable practicing sexuality with a same sex partner, or he may say that he is attracted to the same sex and not attracted to the opposite sex.  To frame it another way, he is probably saying his affections are strongly given to same sex attraction.  Assuming this is true, must we conclude that he is therefore homosexual by nature?  The case is not as simple as it seems.

What aspect of nature do we use to make this determination?  Do we rely on affections alone, or does anatomy have a role to play in deciding what Nature is saying about sexuality?  This question is very important because there are other aspects of nature which may be arguing against same sex attraction.  Natural affections may all be directed toward homosexual practices, but are natural affections the only consideration?  What about anatomy?  Does natural anatomy have anything to say?  If so, then isn’t it actually more natural for a man and a woman to complement each other sexually?

Nature (or nature’s God) has designed the vaginal walls to receive penetration.  The walls of the vagina are relatively thick, and the cell walls overlap in such a way as to be conducive for penetration.  However, the rectal wall is not designed to receive penetration; rather, it is designed to extract or expel bodily waste.  Therefore, its natural design is toward expelling from the body, not receiving into the body.  The cells are different from those making up the vagina, and the rectal wall is much thinner, increasing the likelihood of tearing during penetration.

Some have demonstrated that because of this, there is an increase in the spread of disease, as the tearing of the rectal lining allows fecal matter to spread into the body.  A recent journal [See here] was published after a review of 1,000 recent research projects concerning homosexuality.  The conclusion of the review [at least in relation to disease] was that “for gay men, beyond HIV, syphilis, genito-urinary infections and anal carcinomas were significant.” So, the question is whether this aspect of nature is to carry any weight in deciding whether homosexuality is according to nature.  If it carries no weight, then why not?  If it carries weight, then how much?  How does one determine whether anatomy is more important than affections?  Are physiological considerations able to outweigh sexual feelings?

Third, when it comes to discerning the intent of Nature (or nature’s God), no group has practiced such methodology longer or better than Roman Catholics, who, of course, understand the sexual organs to be designed for reproduction.  Since homosexuality works against reproduction, it is considered by them to be against nature.  Likewise, evolutionists believe that human beings survive to reproduce, thus homosexual behavior (though natural in one sense) is also anomalous.

How is one to decide what is according to nature (what is natural)?  Considering that homosexuals represent only about 4% of the American population (see journal just mentioned), the numbers seem to suggest that it is natural to be heterosexual.  Of course, the reply to this statement would be that though those who practice homosexuality represent a minority, they are still a minority acting naturally.  Some people—but not all people—appear to be “natural” athletes.  So, one can be a minority and still be acting according to nature.  I understand that, but I still am suggesting that it is difficult to claim nature or design as definitive because one can appeal to nature from several different vantage points.  Making arguments for a certain pattern of behavior is more complicated than it appears because the truths of nature can be misinterpreted based on our biases.  To put it another way—a more biblical way—we all tend to suppress the truth in unrighteousness.  This truth suppression even extends to the truths of Nature (or nature’s God).

This truth suppression is right at the heart of why God does hold people accountable for their actions against Him, even though the individuals believe they are acting according to Nature.  I will explain this in more detail in the next post…

Hellfire to Homosexuality?


I recently had a conversation with a friend in which he expressed his disdain for “Christian coercion.”  He didn’t exactly call it that, but I think that is an accurate description of what he meant.  His concern was that Christians under the threat of eternal damnation pressure others to go against their natural desires.  Specifically, the case about which we were speaking involved homosexuality, whether it is a sin punishable by death or a part of nature and, therefore, justified.

As I thought about the matter, I had to admit that I agreed with much of what was being said.  The notion of Christian coercion makes me cringe, too.  I have sat fidgeting uncomfortably while evangelists tell stories of folks who don’t come to Christ in a service and then are killed in car wrecks on their way home [thus, those at this particular service should “make a decision” right now or they, too, might be killed on the way home].  Such manipulation is ugly and demonstrates a lack of trust in the gospel.  A preacher need not resort to tricks and manipulation if the gospel really is the power of God unto salvation.  So, I think my friend and I agree that torturing people with thoughts of Hell to get them to make a decision is not acceptable.

That being said, more substantial issues remain unresolved.  For instance, even if we agree that coercion is an ugly thing and ought to be avoided, we still have not answered whether or not Hell is real.  In the conversation, my friend was opposed to the concept of eternal damnation for those who practice homosexuality.  To that opposition, I would simply say that I do believe Hell is real, but I don’t believe it is reserved for homosexuals.  It is reserved for all who remain under the curse of sin apart from Christ.  This is what the gospel is all about, of course.  All of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  And, all of us are under a curse.  All of creation is under that curse so that the present course of the world is toward death.  The present course of those not covered by Christ is death.  (But the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord).

So, where does that leave those who practice homosexuality?  It leaves them in the same place as all the rest of us: Condemned already. [Whoever believes in Christ is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God… This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light…].  To be sure, such a message is offensive to those who engage in homosexuality (assuming homosexuality is a sin or a mark of unbelief).  But the larger reality is that this gospel is equally offensive to all of us.  It isn’t just those who practice homosexuality who are condemned already.  It is all of us.

What this condemned already idea means is that coercion is not the point of our preaching.  While it is true that Hell exists and we ought to seek to avoid it, it is not the case that we brandish Hell like a torturer’s scourge until we get the confession we want.  Hell is the default setting for us all (gay, straight, bi, polyamorous, polyandrous, transgendered, or whatever).  Therefore, our message—like the message of Jesus—is “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  It isn’t repent or you will burn in Hell.  It is repent so you will see the Kingdom of God.  Our message is inherently positive.  We are ministers of reconciliation.  We are proclaimers of good news.  We are preachers of eternal life.  We are not to stretch folks out on the rack of hellfire until we coerce from them a confession.  So, even if my friend and I don’t agree on anything else, we agree that far.

As to the rest of his questions concerning whether homosexuality is natural and therefore acceptable… I will try to post on that tomorrow. His questions are yet more penetrating and deserve a thoughtful response.

Hate Crimes Are Hateful


I suppose for some I may be auditioning for the “Knuckle-dragging, out-of-touch” Award with the comment I am about to make, but I am going to say it anyway.  Hate crimes legislation is stupid.  If kidnapping, rape, and murder are awful evils in and of themselves, then justice will be served when the criminals who perpetrate these crimes are punished.  What good is it to add the obvious statement that these things are hateful?

The truth of the matter is that hate crimes are hateful.  I mean that.  Hate crimes hate certain people and certain ways of thinking.  Therefore, hate crimes are motivated by hate.  People who hate this thought or that thought pass laws so that you are branded and punished more severely if you think hateful thoughts while you are doing hateful things.  (Some bureaucrat or judge gets to decide what is hateful and what is not.  Remember, all of us hate someone, even though we know hating others is wrong).

Hating Jews is wrong.  Hating blacks is wrong.  Hating lesbians is wrong.  Hating Christians is wrong.  Hating is wrong.  But it is NOT criminal.  Criminal actions enter in when action takes place.  I don’t want a judge deciding what I can and cannot think.  If I murder, I do want a judge to execute justice on behalf of all humankind.

I read this particular article today from the Louisville Courier Journal, and it really frustrated me.  In the article, the writer bemoans the fact that someone was convicted of murder but not convicted of a hateful murder (a hate crimes murder).  Is murder not hateful enough?  Does the silly judge think this was somehow a “loving” murder?  What murder is anything but hateful?  The judge, in fact, whimpers and whines because Kentucky’s law does not go far enough.  Oh, if only the law would go further, the jury could “enhance the defendant’s penalty.”

Think about that.  The defendant is convicted of murder, but there is no hate crime to make it really bad—no way to make his penalty worse.  Shouldn’t we have the toughest penalties for those convicted of murder?  I, for one, believe that anyone who murders another should forfeit his own life.  (If you live in Eastern Kentucky, that means I believe in the death penalty ; -).  according to the article, the legislature must act to fix this awful problem of convicting murderers but not getting to really punish them for the hateful thoughts that may have motivated them.

This nonsense has 1 purpose: to police your thoughts.  It does not protect the value of any race or group of people (particularly Christians who are almost never mentioned in hate crimes legislation.  Indeed, often it is the case that the hate crimes are passed to prevent Christians from preaching the truth that Jesus Christ saves homosexuals and washes them and presents them, along with other sinners, to the Father, as His bride—the church).

I say it does not protect the value of anyone for this reason.  In the case mentioned, a woman was brutally murdered.  A man was convicted of her murder.  The best thing to uphold the value of that woman’s life would be for this criminal to forfeit his own.  Barring that, the second best thing would be for him to forfeit the remainder of his life on this earth to prison.  One of the worst things that could happen is that the murder conviction get swept away by some supposedly worse charge of hatefulness.  I don’t know, and I don’t care whether this murderer hated black people or not.  Even if he did (and that might be hard to prove), his hating black persons is not in any way comparable to his murdering this particular black woman.  His crime was so awful that he should have to pay for it with his own life.  Taking attention off of that fact diminishes the value of all human life in general, and the life of Ms. Griffin in particular.  Her life was valuable because she was created in the image of God.

Under Fire in Uganda


For an interesting and engaging article, read this Christian Post article about the riff between Pastor Rick Warren and the evangelical leaders in Uganda, Africa.  They are disturbed, confused, and angry about what they believe is his capitulation toward the gay agenda.  Interesting ethical issues abound in this article.

Hate Speech Exhibit


We have been talking about hate speech lately (since Obama has signed this atrocious piece of specious bile into law), and we are expecting some of it with regard to speaking the truth about homosexuality to a gender confused culture. The Discovery Institute has been in the thick of hate speech charges for years now.  They are quite accustomed to the threats and intimidation.  I have linked here an example of what we are up against.

Costly Free Speech


Looks like the day has finally come.  The U.S. Senate has approved federal “Hate Crimes” legislation and sent it on to the President, who has pledged to sign the bill into law.  There are so many problems with this bill, not the least of which is the cowardly, specious manner in which it was passed as an addendum to the national defense bill.  (What does policing citizen thoughts have to do with financing the military?) 

Nevertheless, the bill is written, and, as this article rightly forecasts, will be used against pastors who preach and teach the truth concerning homosexuality.  There is no need to make a slippery slope argument; the point of hate crimes legislation is clear: silence the free speech rights of those who oppose.  These bills clearly seek to police thoughts of all citizens against a protected political class.  The article points to a case in Canada, but there are other cases, too.  Check out the case of Pastor Ake Green.

Homosexual Christians


Obviously, we live in an age of sexual infatuation.  I will be lecturing next week at Southern on the topic of homosexuality.  Please pray for me because this issue is obviously one that sparks many emotions.  Probably, we have all had to deal with folks struggling with homosexuality.  If not with particular members in our churches, then, certainly, with extended members’ families, we have been faced with the issue of homosexuality.

Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds posted this blog about a year ago which included confessions from a homosexual Christian.  In light of 1 Cor 6:9 and other biblical texts (2 Cor 5:17), I am not comfortable with the concept of a “homosexual” Christian.  Nevertheless, this Christian argues for the church to come alongside and provide love and nurturing for homosexual Christians.  The article is a worthwhile read, but it left me with a few concerns.  I have posted my response to the article below for your consideration.

 doccochran said…

Mike Riccardi, thank you for posting your original post; it was authentic. The questions you raised were my own questions, as I sought to listen lovingly to the comments of this Christian struggling with homosexuality. I kept hearing from 1 Cor. 6, “and such WERE some of you, but you were washed…” I, too, hear the cry for sympathy and companionship. I love the call to the church to be both a safe place and a unit of intimacy in Christ. However, I long for Wesley and others to be free, as Christ says, to make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom. Obviously, I don’t mean this physically, but the claim by Christ that this is a possibility opens new avenues for healing. One can be celibate and completely fulfilled by Christ in the kingdom. The reason for this seems to be, first, that all the intimacy needed is available in Christ, who brings us to the full-orbed relationship of the Trinity, even calling us His bride. What could be more intimate than being the bride? Second, the gospel alive in us allows us–whether male or female–to bear fruit for the kingdom. Third, the eternal promise of Christ to never leave us nor forsake us offers us great strength with which to fight off the temptation to loneliness. Here were at least 3 themes I was longing to hear in the article.

3/10/2009 10:24:00 PM  

Perfect Illustration


Mark Steyn, who is always brilliant, pulled the following headline from the paper:

French Gay Soccer Team Snubbed by Muslim Team

In response to the headline, Steyn notes that the French gay team is accusing the Muslims of being homophobic; then, he asks whether it isn’t Islamophobic of them to ask such a question!

Hip Is In


You may have seen this article already; it speaks of President Obama’s fresh appeal for Americans to embrace homosexuality.  I find it curious that he categorizes the arguments against homosexuality as “worn arguments and old attitudes.” 

It seems to me that Obama exemplifies our desire to be glib, haughty, and, of course, hip.  Americans, apparently, don’t want to be left out when it comes to being cool.  What I find curious, though, is how we moved from being a people who trusted time-proven truth to a people who only long for the hippest fad.  Perhaps, we could rephrase Obama’s categorization and say that the arguments against homosexuality are not “worn and old” but “tried and true.”

For the Record


Pastor Rick Warren has recently said that the gay marriage issue is “not his agenda.”  In a sense, of course, he is right.  The gospel itself is the agenda of the Christian, including pastors.  However, humanity is also our concern.  And, the church is called to be the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15). 

To quote Pastor Warren, “There are about two percent of Americans [who] are homosexual or gay/lesbian people. We should not let two percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years.”
 
To quote Pastor Warren again, “This is not even just a Christian issue — it’s a humanitarian and human issue that God created marriage for the purpose of family, love, and procreation.”

I would add further that marriage and family is the foundational social institution upon which a culture should build.  Something must hold, or else the culture disintegrates into chaos.  If the meaning of marriage is undone, then the culture itself is undone.  Nothing which binds society together can hold any longer because the foundation itself has faltered.

It does not matter how nice the brick looks on the outside of a house once the foundation has cracked.  When the foundation is lost, the house will fall.  Once the institution of marriage is undone, the culture will no longer have a societal “ideal” for which to work and on which to build.  Marriage and family will mean anything (bigamy, polygamy, polyandry…).  In other words, there will be nothing at the foundational level.  No ideal, thus no order.

Is such a disintegration the concern of a purpose driven pastor?  I suppose that depends on the purpose of the pastor.  It seems to me that the earlier Rick Warren makes some good sense that the later Rick Warren ought not to have disavowed.  Why is it that poverty is an acceptable part of the Saddleback gospel agenda but honoring marriage is not?  Why would fighting AIDS be on the agenda but honoring family would not?  Fighting AIDS and poverty, like standing up for marriage and family, has to do with loving mankind and speaking of that which is ordained by God for Man’s flourishing. 

There is no hate in such speaking up for humankind.  Just as fighting AIDS is not an act of condemnation toward homosexuals, so, too, is standing for marriage not an act of condemnation toward homosexuals.  Both fights are engaged for the well-being of humankind, to maximize the flourishing of Man.

Tolerance Defined


So, in the blog yesterday, I was asked for my definition of tolerance.  Here it is. Tolerance is a warmed up crock of cow dung, in my opinion. It stinks and provides nothing that satisfies.  It is a specious, anti-Christian attempt to redefine issues of truth and justice under the auspices of political power, which is to say, that tolerance is a tool which is used by those whose desire is to coerce moral strictures on others without having to defend their moral views against the traditional safeguards of reason or revelation or even majority opinion.

 

Tolerance is an inherently contradictory concept, as was pointed out yesterday in the blog post and revealed in the comments which followed.  No one is able to tolerate everyone or everything. It is impossible.  Thus, tolerance becomes an aristocratic imposition of the personal preferences of those in power upon those who are not.  It becomes a matter of arbitrary imposition which does not answer to the higher authority of reason.  It is more akin to the manner in which 3rd world dictatorships impose morality than it is related to the historical, Judeo-Christian models of morality which prevailed in the West for the past 5 centuries.

 

Here is another of many examples of how hopelessly contradictory the concept of tolerance is in America.  Folks want to kill Mormons and burn down their temples because of how intolerant the Mormons are!

 

Tolerance, huh?


Everybody’s supposed to be tolerant nowadays.  That is code language, of course, for giving full approval to homosexuality.  When it comes to gays and lesbians, tolerance takes a different turn, as this episode so colorfully illustrates.  Obama has angered gays and lesbians by inviting Rick Warren to offer a prayer at the inauguration. 

All the man is going to do is offer a prayer for the new president.  Yet, in response to this, it seems many gays and lesbians are outraged, feeling betrayed. Now, how tolerant is that? 

Of course, it is perfectly understandable to be prejudiced against a Christian pastor.  After all, those guys are so intolerant…

No Mob Veto


America is proud of her freedom, but freedom must always have its limits.  California voters recently decided (again) that gays ought not be provided the same marital status as heterosexual couples.  They are (or at least should be) free to determine such things.  Since the passage of Proposition 8, Californians have been given a hard dose of reality.  The truth is, no one believes in unrestrained freedom.  Those in favor of gay marriage have demonstrated zero tolerance for any who disagree.  They have sought to terrorize and intimidate all opposition.  They have especially targeted the Mormon church.  Now, a group called “No Mob Veto” has decided to take action.  Good for them.  It’s about time people take a stand.  You can view the ad and petition here.

Justice and Freedom?


Tolerance and fairness have taken the place of freedom and justice in America.  Tolerance and fairness are decided by those who wield power.  Freedom and justice were Christian ideas based in the nature of God and in the judgment of God.  Get rid of God, and you get rid of freedom and justice.  If ever there were a case to illustrate my point, this is it.  After legal challenges by gay rights activists, E-harmony must now offer services to same sex couples.  And… well, read the story to see what else.

 

Pocketbook Politics


You probably know that I don’t think it is good to vote based on how it affects your pocketbook.  At least, that isn’t the first priority.  But there is a case in California that has Christians and conservatives actually voting with their pocketbooks.  Read about it here