Tag Archives: marriage

The Wrong Side of History

marriageWith the Supreme Court taking up the definition of marriage in the next week, I was reflecting on a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago about marriage.  He was trying to figure out where he stood on the issue of homosexual marriage.  I have written about this issue before on this blog so I won’t repeat myself, but he reasoned that it is a civil rights issue and ended the conversation by saying, “I just don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.”  That line of thinking seems to have taken root as evidenced in the article I am linking to.  As Christians, though, we must remember and proclaim to the rest of the world that history will not be the final judge.  Our real concern should be, “I just don’t want to be on the wrong side of the Word of God.”

Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals article from Seedbeed.com

Grace and Peace,

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Filed under Beliefs, Bible, History, Marriage

Broken Compass

My friend asked upon reading my Facebook intro (Something to do the day after)to my last blog, “What do Christians do now that the president is still the president?!”  I assume she was asking, “What has changed that has so many people bummed out.”  On the surface, nothing.  But the election revealed, in black and white clarity, America’s moral compass is broken.  

Proverbs 13:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”  What would our founding fathers say about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and same-sex marriage in some states?  What would they say about mandating people pay for abortions?  What would they say about religion, holiness, and morality as it effects the nation?

Let me introduce you to John Witherspoon.  Witherspoon was a Presbyterian minister, President of Princeton College, a New Jersey delegate to the Continential Congress, and signer of the Declaration of Independence.  The following is an excerpt from a sermon called The Dominion of Providence Over the Passions of Men.  Preached in Princeton in 1776, Witherspoon offers some great wisdom for us in connceting our faith and our national character.  There is some real practical advice and truth offered here to anyone who would “turn from our wicked ways and seek God’s face.”  Here’s John…

“Suffer me to recommend to you an attention to the public interest of religion, or in other words, zeal for the glory of God and the good of others. I have already endeavored to exhort sinners to repentance; what I have here in view is to point out to you the concern which every good man ought to take in the national character and manners, and the means which he ought to use for promoting public virtue, and bearing down impiety and vice. This is a matter of the utmost moment, and which ought to be well understood, both in its nature and principles. Nothing is more certain than that a general profligacy and corruption of manners make a people ripe for destruction. A good form of government may hold the rotten materials together for some time, but beyond a certain pitch, even the best constitution will be ineffectual, and slavery must ensue. On the other hand, when the manners of a nation are pure, when true religion and internal principles maintain their vigour, the attempts of the most powerful enemies to oppress them are commonly baffled and disappointed. This will be found equally certain, whether we consider the great principles of God’s moral government, or the operation and influence of natural causes.

What follows from this? That he is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion, and who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy to God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country. Do not suppose, my brethren, that I mean to recommend a furious and angry zeal for the circumstantials of religion, or the contentions of one sect with another about their peculiar distinctions. I do not wish you to oppose any body’s religion, but every body’s wickedness. Perhaps there are few surer marks of the reality of religion, than when a man feels himself more joined in spirit to a true holy person of a different denomination, than to an irregular liver of his own. It is therefore your duty in this important and critical season to exert yourselves, every one in his proper sphere, to stem the tide of prevailing vice, to promote the knowledge of God, the reverence of his name and worship, and obedience to his laws.

Perhaps you will ask, what it is that you are called to do for this purpose farther than your own personal duty? I answer this itself when taken in its proper extent is not a little. The nature and obligation of visible religion is, I am afraid, little understood and less attended to.

Many from a real or pretended fear of the imputation of hypocrisy, banish from their conversation and carriage every appearance of respect and submission to the living God. What a weakness and meanness of spirit does it discover, for a man to be ashamed in the presence of his fellow sinners, to profess that reverence to almighty God which he inwardly feels: The truth is, he makes himself truly liable to the accusation which he means to avoid. It is as genuine and perhaps a more culpable hypocrisy to appear to have less religion than you really have, than to appear to have more. This false shame is a more extensive evil than is commonly apprehended. We contribute constantly, though insensibly, to form each others character and manners; and therefore, the usefulness of a strictly holy and conscientious deportment is not confined to the possessor, but spreads its happy influence to all that are within its reach. I need scarcely add, that in proportion as men are distinguished by understanding, literature, age, rank, office, wealth, or any other circumstance, their example will be useful on the one hand, or pernicious on the other.

But I cannot content myself with barely recommending a silent example. There is a dignity in virtue which is entitled to authority, and ought to claim it. In many cases it is the duty of a good man, by open reproof and opposition, to wage war with profaneness. There is a scripture precept delivered in very singular terms, to which I beg your attention; “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but shalt in any wise rebuke him, and not suffer sin upon him.” How prone are many to represent reproof as flowing from ill nature and surliness of temper? The spirit of God, on the contrary, considers it as the effect of inward hatred, or want of genuine love, to forbear reproof, when it is necessary or may be useful. I am sensible there may in some cases be a restraint from prudence, agreeably to that caution of our Saviour, “Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rent you.” Of this every man must judge as well as he can for himself; but certainly, either by open reproof, or expressive silence, or speedy departure from such society, we ought to guard against being partakers of other men’s sins.”

You can find the whole sermon here.  I’d love to hear your reaction to Witherspoon, so please share your thoughts.  I’ll share some of mine in my next post.

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The Pulpit and Politics

Should pastors preach on political issues? I have heard both yes and no. From my congregation I have heard people tell me, “I’m a big believer in separation of church and state.” I’ve also heard, “Why don’t we hear about these thing from the pulpit?” I believe that pastors have a responsibility to preach on political issues…..sometimes. Not all the time, but definitely some of the time.

I believe that because there is nothing outside the realm of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As Christians we don’t get to compartmentalize our life and surrender only parts of it to Jesus. We do not have the option of saying, “Be Lord of my life here and here, but not here.” I also believe that the wisdom contained in the Scriptures can and should guide our lives, especially in how we live them out in society. The whole “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “You are the salt of the earth, light of the world” thing means we should be informed and active for His glory in the world around us.

Most pastors want to avoid controversy that preaching on a political issue is sure to bring. I certainly don’t want to cause rifts in the church. But if the Bible says something about a particular issue, don’t you want to know what it says? Don’t you want to know what God’s opinion is on the subject so that you can live in accordance with it? The Bible certainly doesn’t shy away from political issues. It is full of examples of preachers confronting, encouraging, and preaching to rulers, kings, judges, cities, and whole nations. And the topics range from adultery, extortion, private property, taxes, freedom, limits on power, role of governments, poverty, and the list goes on.

It has only been recently in American history that we expect preachers to remain silent on issues. During the Revolutionary War the British called the clergy, “The Black Robe Regiment” because of their preaching and influence in current affairs. Preachers did not shy away from preaching on God-given rights, limits of power, freedom, equality of all men and so on. And their legacy was passed on. What would have happened if preachers had remained silent on the issue of slavery? What would the civil-rights movement have been like if Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had decided not to preach on political issues?

As I stated earlier, I believe a preacher should preach on political issues. Not all of the time, but when it is needed. Take for instance the issue of marriage. Since when did marriage become a political issue? The church has been consistent about what marriage is and is not for two thousand years. Marriage is an institution established by God. The pastor who remains silent in the face of the government redefining it is not worthy of the calling and leads his or her people astray.

The Apostle Paul told the church at Ephesus, “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.” Acts 20:26-27. As a preacher, I know that I have a duty to proclaim, as best I can with love, the whole counsel of God. I am not looking to offend anyone by doing so. But I have found the truth contained in the Word of God is offensive all by itself. Perhaps the reason most people don’t want to hear about politics from the pulpit is because it would require some rethinking and possibly even – change.

Over the next month I am going to be addressing some political issues and exploring what the Bible says about them on my blog. On October 24th I am leading an Election Issues Forum at my church so this will be kind of a warm up. I have found Dr. Wayne Grudem’s book Politics According to the Bible very helpful. You can hear Dr. Grudem speak about pastors preaching on political issues here.

I hope we will have some good discussions and gain insight into the wisdom God offers to us in the political arena. DISCLAIMER: I do not pretend to think that my opinions on these issues are from the mouth of God. I have tried to form my opinions based on His Word, but I am still quite falliable – just ask the Mrs.

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Inconceivable!

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya utters these great lines to Vescini as he continues to say “Inconceivable!” in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride. I can’t help but think the same thing is going on with the word “love”.

I ate lunch today (like I do most days) at Chick-fil-A. The place was packed. It took 20 minutes from the time I ordered to the time I received my food. There was no place to stand. The line was out the door and the drive through line wrapped the building through another parking lot and spilled onto the street. Yet whenever the manager would shout her appreciation for everyone’s patience, the place cheered.

Some folks think, because of the owner’s comments about the definition of marriage, that supporting Chick-Fil-A today is hateful and discriminatory. To oppose same-sex marriage is not loving in their view. I believe they think that because they don’t know what love is.

I know – how dare I write that! Saying someone doesn’t know what love means is so…unloving. Love is a many splended thing so I will not try and give an exhaustive list of everything that is love. (I would encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 13 if you haven’t attended a wedding recently to brush up a little.)

Perhaps it might be more palatable to say, “I believe they think that because they don’t know what love isn’t.” We’ll see. Either way I am with Inigo. Love doesn’t mean what they think it means.

Love is tolerance, liberals say. Love is unconditional acceptance of whatever behavior I feel like (at least when it comes to sex but not eating at certain fast food restaurants). Love accepts people for who they are. After all, God accepts me for who I am. God is love. And that is kinda close but misses the mark.

God is love and He accepts us as we are – but He certainly doesn’t leave us that way. No loving parent accepts whatever behavior a child exhibits. While they love and accept the child, they correct the child and show them the proper behavior. Even if it is painful to them and the child. They do this BECAUSE they love the child. To accept “whatever” behavior is a clear sign, not of love, but of indifference and apathy. Yet that is what liberals mean when they say it is loving to accept behavior that God calls wrong. What they are saying (but don’t realize) is that they are more loving than God. The Bible is clear about marriage and sex. To ignore or cut out the parts of Scripture that are “offensive” and then claim to do it because they are loving is to claim they are more loving than God. They know better than God. They are more tolerant than His Word. That kind of pride and hubris ends poorly every time it is tried.

God gives us the boundaries because He loves us. It is like He is standing in the middle of the road holding a sign and screaming, “Turn around! The bridge is out!” That is love. Especially when people run Him over. And if we know the bridge is out and danger is ahead, is it more loving to say, “Stop!” or to tolerate and accept their decision to drive off the cliff?

I realize that some may think, “I guess that means we should stone to death children for disobeying their parents. Isn’t that what the Bible says to do?” It does say that, Leviticus 20:9. If you want to use that argument you should read all of chapter 20. There is plenty of stuff that requires the death penality. The truth is sin – any sin, all sin – brings the death penalty. Romans 6:23 tells us very clearly, “the wages of sin is death” and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) No one is righteous in God’s eyes. We’ve all sinned in some form or fashion and we all deserve to die.

“But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Because of Jesus’ death, our dealth penalty has been paid. That is love. Inconceivable love. So no, I don’t advocate fulfulling the law in Leviticus today because it has already been fulfilled in Jesus. The issue is whether or not you have received this gift of grace. If you do, you’ll experience transformation. This is the “God loves you too much to leave you the way you are” part. Romans 6 is a fantastic place to read about it.

I went back to Chick-Fil-A tonight about 9pm. The drive through line was still wrapped around the building and the wait for a milkshake was over 20 minutes. Inconceivable!

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Political Chicken Sandwich?

Who made eating a chicken sandwich a political statement? The same people who made marriage and the weather political issues. Surprised? Probably not. I encourage you to read Dale Tedder’s piece about it here and his follow up articles and then…Eat Mor Chik’n.

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The Open-Minded Deception

Have you considered what it means to be “open-minded”?  How does this virtue in our culture relate to being a disciple of Jesus Christ?  Does the Scripture call us to be open-minded?  Most people want to be thought of as an open-minded person willing to accept or entertain new ideas from anyone at anytime.  But practically, how does an open-minded person say with integrity, “Jesus is Lord”?  How can they stand firm in the faith and be accepting of ideas and doctrines that are contrary to Scripture?

The Scripture talks about the mind and has specific things it is suppose to do.  We are to love the Lord with all our mind.  We are to have our mind renewed so that we can be transformed and different from the world.  We are to put on the mind of Christ.  And we are to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ. 

But if I am open-minded, how do I take every thought captive and make it obedient to Jesus Christ?  I cannot make my thoughts obedient to Christ if they go against what He teaches in His Word.  Those are the very thoughts I must make obedient.  The only way is to allow Jesus to have the final say.  It is His opinion on the matter that becomes the truth and authority I live by.  He is the standard and nothing can compromise it.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians with this very concern when he says, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”  (2 Cor. 11:2-4)

There is plenty of teaching in the church that asks for open-mindedness.  Redefining marriage and sexual purity are two of the biggest we face in our culture.  But I am afraid that we are being deceived and led astray by this so-called virtue.  Several churches have accepted a different gospel than the one preached in the Scriptures.

To be “open-minded” is really to be double-minded, or even triple-minded.  It is to hold a position that is really no position at all.  There is no place to stand.  James warns that those who are double-minded are like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  They are unstable in all they do (James 1:6-8).  That is a great picture of what it is like living by every new fad, ideology, or progressive doctrine that comes along.

Please don’t get the wrong idea.  I love to hear new ideas, perspectives, and thoughts.  We need to consider, evaluate and weigh all kinds of options.  However, for a disciple, each one must submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

If a Christian is not open-minded does that make him close-minded?  No, it makes him single-minded with a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. He is one who believes the Word of God and submits to its authority, especially with his mind.  This disciple has a mature and persevering faith no longer tossed by changing doctrines, theologies, ideologies, or fads.  He hears the words of Jesus and puts them into practice.  The Word of God that stands forever becomes his rock.  That man built his house on the Rock.  And his house will stand. 

This is a hard word because it is not what the world so readily accepts.  Perhaps that is a good sign we are on the right path as disciples.  I encourage you to look at your thoughts on this subject and check out the Scriptures.  Are you standing firm in the faith or do you put up with a different gospel easily enough?  Every thought is to be made obedient to Christ.

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