Category Archives: Sexuality

NASHVILLE STATEMENT

Nashville Statement

I would not sign it, even though I am in close agreement with the various articles.  Why?

It comes across as a sterile statement from too many who were either quiet or supportive of Trump. 

It is tone deaf in its timing: Charlottesville and now the flooding in Texas.

If the church in America had a better record of compassionate disagreement with gays, perhaps the statement would be okay.

I am glad, however, that this issue will force a more honest and comprehensive conversation about the Bible’s authority.

Here is a very good critique of someone who signed (HT: Peter Coelho):

On the Nashville Statement and My Signing of It

SELECTIVE OUTRAGE ON THE LEGALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUAL MARRIAGE

Let’s get one thing quickly out of the way.  I believe homosexuality is contrary to God’s design.  I also believe marriage is between one man and one woman. 

The legalization of homosexual marriage to some degree makes me feel like Marshall McLuhan who went to movies not to watch the movie, but to observe how other people watch movies.

Some good things have been said by Christian leaders.  Unfortunately, there are too many other Christians depressed over what all this portends for America.  This declinist narrative focuses like a laser beam on how the sin of homosexuality is to blame for a myriad of societal ills. 

My concern may be best stated by using an illustration.  Imagine that you want to start a landscape company.  You eagerly knock on your neighbors’ doors and announce the new venture.  The responses you receive range from amusement (“you can’t be serious”) to outright anger. Why?  The answer is simple.  Your yard is terribly overgrown and quite the eye sore.  You’ve received regular warnings from the Homeowner’s Association.

I’m not a cynic about the church, even here in America.  It is God’s primary means of accomplishing His will.  Some of the best people I know go to church on a regular basis.  And that includes some pastors!

However, I do have grave concerns about our laser-like focus over the horrors of legalizing homosexual marriage.  Yes, we need to say something, but I’m afraid our quickly cutting to the chase on this issue leaves many important things unsaid.  

My suggestion would go more along these lines:

We believe homosexuality is a sin.  We also believe that gluttony, gossip, adultery, sex outside of marriage, racism, unscrupulous business practices, the love of money, divorce, and a whole host of other things are sin.  Unfortunately, we have not done a very good job in communicating a comprehensive view of sin.  We have been selective.  Too many times we have been motivated by fear.  We have avoided addressing certain sins for fear our giving at church will plummet.  Too many of us have come across as both hating the sin of homosexuality and the homosexual.  We could go on with other specifics, but hopefully you get the point.  Our selective outrage has made us not act like Jesus.  We have been rather poor at modeling the “grace and truth” approach of Jesus. 

In our quest to proclaim the righteousness standards of God, I’m afraid our selective outrage presents a gospel which is no longer the gospel.  Consider another illustration.  Picture that you are driving a car.  In the passenger seat is a non-Christian.  You tune into your favorite radio station.  The problem is that you are not fully tuned in.  You are so accustomed to the static that you fail to hear it.  You turn to your non-Christian friend and expectantly ask what he thinks about the “amazing” music.  Surprisingly to you, he is not impressed.  You are baffled by his lackluster response but your habitual listening to music cum static has dulled your ears. 

I’m afraid many Christians in America love listening to music cum static and therefore think it worth telling others about.  Our penchant for focusing on some sins and not others (especially those which are common in the church) has made us tone deaf to what we believe are courageous and prophetic pronouncements, but could more accurately be labelled Pharisaical. 

During my years of doing radio interviews, I had the chance to interview Cal Thomas.  Thomas was one of the major leaders in the Moral Majority.  I was interviewing Thomas on a book he co-authored with fellow Moral Majority leader, Ed Dobson.  The title gives away the thrust of what the authors were trying to address: Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can’t Save America.  It was a courageous and candid confession of zeal gone awry.  Among other things, the Moral Majority would purposely give prominence to certain social issues knowing these would increase their financial giving. 

I’ve been reading through various statements on the recent ruling about homosexual marriage by the Supreme Court. In the pages of Christianity Today Mark Galli reflects the tone that should be more widespread in the Christian church:

Another temptation now is to point the finger at the forces—political, social, philosophical, spiritual—arrayed against the church and its moral teaching. Without denying the reality of “principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:12), we do well to ponder this: What actions and attitudes have we imbibed that contribute to our culture’s dismissing our ethics? Our homophobia has revealed our fear and prejudice. Biblical inconsistency—our passion to root out sexual sins while relatively indifferent to racism, gluttony, and other sins—opens us to the charge of hypocrisy. Before we spend too much more time trying to straighten out the American neighborhood, we might get our own house in order. Blessed are the poor in spirit who mourn their sins (Matt. 5:3-4).  (Emphasis added)

In the same vein, my dear friend, Pastor Jeff Teague, likes to expose how much we Christians tend to be insensitive to our own sin.  Utilizing his considerable acting abilities, Jeff asks with faux disdain, “Why is it that Jesus only hung around sinners?”  Many bite and respond with something like, “Yeah, that’s right.  He did hang around with a lot of unsavory types.”  By their response, many reveal that they feel different and therefore distant from the sinners Jesus regularly spent time with.  Then Jeff answers his own question, “Because sinners are the only people who exist!”

So yes, be ready to share about God’s design for marriage, but realize your answer may cloud more than clarify if it does not come with some honest comments about the sins which many times find safe harbor in the church.

 

 

SEARCHING FOR SUNDAY

And one can certainly agree the church is not supposed to be a museum for plastic saints, but rather a hospital for sick sinners. But the church should never never become just like an AA meeting (one suggestion in this book). Why not? Because while we need such meetings, the church should not be focusing on our own brokenness and mainly sharing about that. We should be focusing on His brokenness when he hung on the cross, precisely so we will get away from our self-centered fixation with our own flaws and foibles. The church needs to be relentlessly theocentric in its worship, fellowship, and praxis, not anthropocentric.

One of the things I really appreciate about Rachel and her writings is that she is honest, painfully honest about her own doubts, her own struggles. She longs for a church where it is o.k. to have questions and doubts and to discuss them. So do I. We have too little of that in the Evangelical world. The lust for certainty has led some pastors and congregations to simply silence any such meaningful probings and heart to heart honest talks. But let’s be clear— honesty and transparency are good things, but they are not ‘the truth’. One can be completely honest about one’s feelings, thoughts etc. and at the same time be completely wrong not only about Biblical truth, but even about oneself.

IDENTITY LANGUAGE

In the West, we use “identity” language.  This kind of language is a belief of modernity.  Most don’t communicate it as a belief, but rather use it as a self-evident truth (again the assumptions there of our modern and supposedly enlightened era).
For example, the idea that one’s sexual preference is synonymous with one’s identity is a belief.  It is an idea we believe to be true, and in the history of ideas, it is a rather recent one.
Identity language gets lots of play and lots of traction because we are modern folk with many modern assumptions.

WATCH OVER YOUR HEART!

The man in the picture above is my friend, Evan Hock.  Evan is pastor of Trinity Fellowship Church in the Denver area.  We met during our respective studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  The picture is a nice depiction of Evan: thoughtful, but with a playful smirk about to tell you who knows what. 
In an email exchange over a friend’s infidelity, Evan wrote this:
“…I am finding out that many of these ‘breakdown’ cases (with men in their mid-40s and 50s) arise from men who have not taken seriously enough the cultivation of a degree of spiritual formation within their lives internally. It has been all-to-often tilted towards doctrinal and rational consistency or built upon gifted performance and diligence but at the expense or neglect of deeper questions addressing ‘truth in the inner part.’ There has been a growing disconnect within them. In time, certain passions, perhaps out of fear of having lost something, or missed something desired, or a yearning to connect to something more, so they assert themselves recklessly in the name of a ‘fuller life.’  In the process, they question the reality of their faith.”  (Emphasis mine)