Tag Archives: Christianity

Sacred Sin

An old acquaintance of mine recently claimed to have reconciled his Christianity and his newly admitted same-sex attraction. He provided a lengthy explanation which followed this pattern (written from his perspective):

  1. Before I was openly gay, I had shame and feared rejection. Now that I’m openly gay, I feel great.
  2. I’ve been encouraged by lots of people, but there are also lots of judgmental, hateful bigots and I hate any law that would prevent me from openly working in a Christian institution. Damn those laws.
  3. I think our country is moving in the right direction on sexual ethics.
  4. Make sure you fully support anyone who identifies as LGBT++, lest they commit suicide.

The first thing that struck me is how this reasoning is consistent with the most radical anti-Christian sexual revolution rhetoric you can find: same-sex attraction is totally fine, people who disagree are judgmental bigots, religious liberty is a code-name for bigotry, we are Progressing, full acceptance of radical gender ideology is the next mile marker, LGBT++ people commit suicide because of evil hateful bigots being mean.

This is not the type of thing I would ever expect a Christian to write. In fact, were it not for a comment that he had somehow reconciled his “faith” and his “sexuality”, I would have figured he had abandoned Christianity altogether. Instead I conclude he has abandoned the content of Christianity while retaining the form.

My point for this post is not a comprehensive take-down of his poor moral reasoning, his unsubstantiated claims, or his vitriol toward Christians whose ethics are biblically informed and haven’t changed with the culture.

Instead, I want to illustrate how bizarre same-sex acts are as a category of sin. Imagine that, instead of same-sex attraction, this person was constantly tempted to rape women. Follow the reasoning again:

  1. Before I was open about my desire to rape women, I had shame and feared rejection. Now that I’m open about my desire to rape women, I feel great.
  2. I’ve been encouraged by lots of people, but there are also lots of judgmental, hateful bigots and I hate any law that would prevent me from openly working a place where women felt unsafe by my presence. Damn those laws.
  3. I think our country is moving in the right direction on removing the stigma from rape desires.
  4. Make sure you fully support anyone who wants to rape women, lest they commit suicide.

This is a totally unacceptable series of claims, and yet same-sex desires are elevated in such a way that they somehow get accepted, even among Christians.

I think there is a history here of Christians leaving behind the words of Jesus and Paul on marriage which has made any of this possible, but it is still striking. Same-sex attraction and same-sex acts are now sacred.

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The Immoral Gag Reflex

The harbingers of the sexual revolution within conservative circles often point to disgust and gag reflexes as symptoms of bigotry.  One of the more insidious efforts of the sexual revolution was to shame people for their natural gag reflex.

The term “homophobia” is a bizarre neologism. No one “fears” people who are attracted to the same sex, so its meaning is left intentionally ambiguous. For most on the Left, it means any disagreement with same-sex acts at all. But on the Right, which has become simply a loyal opposition to the Left (moving Left with them) instead of standing on something concrete, “homophobia” has morphed into a term to guilt people who are disgusted by the acts performed in same-sex relationships.

But one need not fear (no one does) nor hate (few do) same-sex attracted people to be repulsed by the acts. Little do conservatives know that by giving in on this term, they have made the baseline for sexual attraction to be bisexual. If you are shamed for having disgust at same-sex acts, they become acts that you know are forbidden by divine command, but for no other reason. If the only reason to avoid an act is because you are commanded not to, you are far more likely to engage in it or to lessen your hatred for it.

We see the same thing in other places. If you command someone to eat better (maybe a doctor trying to help a patient), they will likely fail at dieting. But a vegan who is convinced this meat is to be reviled is probably going to stick very strictly to a diet.

Shame (when we do something wrong) and disgust (when we see someone else doing something wrong) are God-given.

But exclusively on “consensual” sexual issues, we are told that disgust is oppressive, mean, and “phobic”. We are told no such things when we see a murder, a theft, a scam, or a rape. With those things, we are encouraged to be disgusted.

This doesn’t even get to the far-reaching damage that the liberalizing perspective causes. There’s a vast distance between a man who finds same-sex acts repulsive and one who happily engages in them. If that repulsive reaction is beaten out of the man through coercion, that distance is reduced to nothing at all. By being forced to accept same-sex acts as perhaps immoral but not intrinsically disgusting, the man who has so far avoided the acts is now has lost his strongest defense. It is our revulsion of evil that protects us when our wills and our hearts, evil and weak as they are, fail.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christian charity requires disgust and revulsion at evil acts of all kinds. Only by passionately hating evil can we love people who engage in it. Anything less than a passionate revulsion of evil will make us tolerate sin, which is the opposite of charity.

Special Treatment

I recently ran across a comment someone made about sodomy. The author claimed to be a Christian, and was upset that other Christians made a big deal about sodomy and same-sex attraction. “What’s the deal with Christians and homosexuality?” It sounded like the start of a bad joke. Ultimately, his solution was to “be kind and let God sort it out”, unlike all those evil, mean “fundamentalists”.

This was all very odd. For one thing, it seems strange to put the cultural focus on same-sex attraction at the feet of Christians. If anything, Christians are slow to respond to a total moral inversion in the West regarding sodomy. Within a generation, anti-sodomy laws were replaced by laws against any critique of sodomy. That means in less than 20 years, what was considered so evil as to be punishable by law became so good as to have any opposition to it punishable by law. Christians are making too big a deal out of this?

It gets worse though. God doesn’t allow Christians to “be kind and let God sort it out”. That sounds a bit like Christianity without the Gospel. What did Christ die for if there is no sin?

But things can get worse still. Paul spends a great deal of time condemning same-sex sexual sin. He calls it shameful, and he even says talking about it is shameful in Ephesians 5:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God…

…For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

So while our friend wants to condemn Christians for taking issue with same-sex acts, it turns out Paul was disgusted by them and treated them as utterly contemptible and shameful. The acts are called abominations throughout Scripture for good reason. For some reason, modern Western Christians would rather eject you from your congregation for having a natural, God-given gag reflex than for engaging in same-sex sin. This is totally backwards.

The thing about sodomy and same-sex sexual sin in general is that it is so damaging to one’s body and soul that it serves as its own punishment. As Paul says in Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Where Paul and the rest of Scripture treats sexual sin in especially harsh terms, the modern, Western Christian treats it in especially soft and careful terms, if at all. That tells us more about the theology of such people than anything else.

Presuppositional Apologetics as a Weak Point

This post will be brief, but I’ll still provide a disclaimer: Theologically conservative Reformed churches are Christian churches, and this topic is an internal one between fellow Christians. I myself am not a Calvinist (for what I believe are very good reasons), but I don’t deny that Calvinists have true Christian faith. With that out of the way…

Reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til developed the concept of presuppositional apologetics (PA from here on out in this post) as a result of his theological work. When you combine the central tenets of Calvinism and push them to their most extreme form, you end up with the view that nothing in the entire world can be properly understood without the “light of the main doctrines of Christianity”, in Van Til’s words. In his mind, there is no such thing as a neutral ground of reason where both Christian and non can debate ideas. Even offering evidences outside of Christianity thus grants non-Christians their own presuppositions, meaning an apologist fails before he starts*.

If PA is the naturally outworking of a fully formed Reformed theological system, though, we have a problem. The Bible has many accounts where evidence is offered to non-Christians. The context of these passages makes it clear that such evidence is offered to convince people of the truth of Christianity (Jesus does this, for example, with His miracles and His fulfillment of prophecy. Paul does it as well, “reasoning” with the Greeks).

That means Jesus Himself and the Apostles don’t seem to understand the importance of PA, which is unattested in Scripture. More likely, Jesus and the Apostles do not see the value in PA (if they did, they presumably would have used that tactic).

This isn’t just a problem for PA, though. If PA really is the logical outworking of a strong Calvinist theology, then to reject PA is to reject the theological framework which necessitates it. That makes PA a huge liability for extreme Calvinists:

  • Logical conclusion of reformed theology -> Presuppositional apologetics
  • Presuppositional apologetics are not Biblical (it is both not attested, and its inverse offering evidence is well attested)
  • Therefore the logical conclusion of reformed theology is not Biblical
  • (Modus Tollens: P -> Q. Not Q. Therefore not P)

 


*I once got into an argument on social media with (Calvinist) James White, only to have my faith impugned because I didn’t agree with PA. This view really is the logical outworking of Calvinism, so much so that it seems to hold its own against doctrines like the Divinity of Christ and His death by the cross when some Calvinists determine if people are genuine in their faith.

Can Christians be Leaders?

romesenate1With the 2016 political season drawing closer, there has been a lot of talk about the role of Christianity in politics. Although that topic is deserving of its own series of posts (which I intend to write someday if I figure out how to blog consistently), it’s a related but distinct topic that is the purpose of this post.

I saw the following comments on a Facebook thread recently:

No true Christian can be a politician, we are called away from worldly government and institutions.”

 A bit later, in response for a request of Biblical evidence of such a claim, the same person said:

“John 18:36 would be an example, but more examples can be sought by actually reading the Bible. God’s Kingdom is not of this world, and every government on earth is in rebellion to God, so what place does a follower of Christ have in such a Carnal man made institution? If you think that Christians are going to defy prophecy through politics, then you are reading a different Bible.”

The author of these comments sees true Christianity as that which is disconnected from the world, which seems rather unlike Jesus’ demand to be “in the world, but not of the world”. If we are charitable, we could suppose that this author is referring only to the very specific situation of Christians in national leadership.

And yet, is this Biblical? The example the author gives of a Biblical basis for his claim is John 18:36 which reads:

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

The author sees this as a rebuke of Christians in political office, but is that what Jesus is talking about? The context is Jesus’ trial before Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus “Can Christians be involved in politics?”

Just kidding. Pilate isn’t asking about Christian behavior at all. He asks Jesus what crime Jesus has committed and whether He is “King of the Jews”. His questions is about Jesus and His Person, not how Christians ought to participate in worldly government. True enough, Christ teaches that His Kingdom is “from another place”, but then Christians in government office are not establishing the Second Jerusalem.

When considered long enough, the author of the comments really doesn’t specify the scope of government office, and his argument has nothing to limit it to the national level. What about state governments? County governments? City governments? The local school board? The family? Are there no places of leadership that Christians ought to participate in?

It seems obvious that there are. Jesus commands obedience and points to His Kingdom as distinct from the world, but He never forbids His followers from doing what they can in the world that is good. He tells them to be the light and salt of the world. Why would a Christian arbitrarily limit their influence by avoiding some of the most important positions in the world?

Jesus and His Conditional Friendship

I had the unfortunate experience of coming across a blog post that articulated, in the most liberal terms conceivable, the concept of Jesus as a friend of sinners. I suppose the most unfortunate part of the experience was catching a whiff of the poison dripping from the words directed at Christians who find the concept of “hanging out with sinners” as they indulge in sin a little too ungodly for God.

God loves all of us individually. There’s little doubt about that from Scripture. But that doesn’t mean that God stands idly by as people do evil, deflecting truthful accusations of those evil acts as judgmental. On the contrary.

The primary aim of the blog post was to demonstrate that Jesus really is, in the most intuitive sense of the phrase, a friend of sinners. To this end, the only verse in Scripture that deals with Jesus describing who gets to be friends with Him was summarily excluded. Had it been examined, it would have destroyed the thesis that Jesus would gladly hang out with drunkards at bars, probably buying a few rounds Himself.

From the Gospel of John:

John 15:14-15 – You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

Jesus loves us unconditionally, but His standard for friendship is much higher. He requires our obedience. This is an especially important lesson given how loathe we are to obey anything but our own desires. It is no wonder that those of a more liberal persuasion would want to reduce the friendship of Christ to the least demanding form one could imagine, but that would be something entirely different than what Jesus Himself declares.

And when it comes to determining what it takes to be Jesus’ friend, I’d much rather take Jesus at His word, than the empty rhetoric of someone else.