What many Christians feel, and are concerned about, in light of same sex marriage issues

As a pastor, my first obligation is to care for the people that are under my care in the local church.  Everyone knows that the winds have changed and that societal views have changed in regards to marriage, sexuality, gender, and so on.  There can be a lot of commentary about this but what most average Christians feel, from my observations, is something like this:

They really love their friends, co-workers, family members and neighbours.  Whether they’re gay or straight, atheist or Muslim, living together before marriage or trying to adhere (like them) to a Christian sexual ethic.

They’re not especially put off by different life-styles, beliefs, or sexual orientations.  They want to respect differences and have good relationships with the people they live and work with.

They may be confused about how their Christian faith relates to the shift in our culture’s understanding about sex and marriage.  But they do still want to be faithful to God and what their Faith teaches them about such things.

They don’t want to judge anyone but they are concerned and are feeling pressure from the world around.  Messages coming to them from the culture and the media are labelling them ‘bigot’ or ‘intolerant’.  Many are concerned about what traditional/Biblical beliefs about marriage will mean for their careers and some of their relationships.

They don’t hate anyone.

But they don’t believe that same-sex marriage or homosexual activity is what God’s has in mind for his human creation.

They really love their gay friends and neighbours.

But they don’t know what is in store for the future.

They’d really prefer this wasn’t the issue that is pressing today.

 

This video is made by Roman Catholics but I think the sentiments would be the same for almost every Christian I personally know.

 

 

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Wrong Side of History?

They warn us that we are on the “wrong side of history.” They insist that we will be judged by future generations the way we today judge those who championed racial injustice in the Jim Crow South. But history does not have sides. It is an impersonal and contingent sequence of events, events that are determined in decisive ways by human deliberation, judgment, choice, and action. The future of marriage and of countless human lives can and will be determined by our judgments and choices—our willingness or unwillingness to bear faithful witness, our acts of courage or cowardice. Nor is history, or future generations, a judge invested with god-like powers to decide, much less dictate, who was right and who was wrong. The idea of a “judgment of history” is secularism’s vain, meaningless, hopeless, and pathetic attempt to devise a substitute for what the great Abrahamic traditions of faith know is the final judgment of Almighty God. History is not God. God is God. History is not our judge. God is our judge.

One day we will give an account of all we have done and failed to do. Let no one suppose that we will make this accounting to some impersonal sequence of events possessing no more power to judge than a golden calf or a carved and painted totem pole. It is before God—the God of truth, the Lord of history—that we will stand. And as we tremble in His presence it will be no use for any of us to claim that we did everything in our power to put ourselves on “the right side of history.” ”  Robert P George

 

Also, here are three wise men also discussing the common trope of being on the wrong side of history:

Resistance to the King

"Massacre of the Innocents"  Giotto, from the Scrovegni Chapel, 1305

“Massacre of the Innocents” Giotto, from the Scrovegni Chapel, 1305

Last year around Christmas I was enjoying with my then four-year old a beautiful book which retold the life of Jesus.  It featured on every page, paintings by pre-renaissance master Giotto from his Scrovegni Chapel.  We were flipping through and came upon the Massacre of the Innocents.  This disturbing scene (a pile of dead babies) was difficult to explain to my little one.  We quickly moved past it but later it gave me pause and caused me to question:

What Does A Pile Of Dead Babies Have To Do With Christmas?!?!?giotto detail

Why did Matthew record this account?  That is, other than the obvious that it really happened in history.  But what does it tell us about Jesus, the Christmas story, and the Gospel?  Quite simply, it is that when God came into the world to rescue it – He was resisted.  As it was then, it is so today.

He Was Resisted.  King Herod, puppet king of the Roman Empire, is the great villain of the Christmas account.  He was asked by the wise men where the king of the Jews was to be found.  He, being the false king of the Jews, was afraid and enraged.  He resisted this coming king by ordering the slaughter of all potential candidates for the title in the region.  In doing so, Herod knew something that many Christians are not even fully aware of:  that this Baby was a king and His life/rule would have bearing on the entire world.  He was not some mere administrator of a personal and private spirituality.  Herod certainly didn’t know everything about Jesus but he did know that.  And whatever else, Herod knew that he was against it.

He Is Resisted.  But is God coming into the world resisted today?  Again, it is often those resisting Christianity who understand more about it -in one sense- than many of those committed to it.  Many know that Christianity comes as a package, a Gospel arriving alongside a Great Moral Tradition.  It involves views on human dignity, abortion, poverty, justice, marriage, sexual ethics, what to do with your money, and so much more.  Some aspects of this may grate on us.  Other aspects may grate on others.  But what is often sensed is that accepting Jesus means submitting to a worldview which may put us at odds with the surrounding culture or with our own pre-held views.  He comes as a king.  And his rule is demanding and counter-cultural, which is why it is also resisted today.

Stop Resisting.  Even Christians can resist, although they may do it more subtly.  When Christ is made into a candy machine (we get what we want), or a jukebox (he says what we like), or a butler (he serves us with no demands) than we, like Herod, are also resisting the full expanse of what Christ is.  He is King of the world.  When he is diminished in any way, when the public nature of the Gospel is muted, he is resisted.  So no matter what we believe, whether skeptical or committed Christian, we need to understand fully the implications of his lordship.  Understand, wrestle with, and then lay down our resistance.

Full Sermon – Resistance to the King – Matthew 2:13-23 – Week 4 of Advent

Why Strive for Purity?

Recently a young man messaged me with a question.  “I have a question for you? Why do you strive for purity?”  Why questions are always the most important ones and this one was a good one.  I assumed he meant purity of a sexual nature.  I answered as quickly as I could with four points.

Here they are:

1) Out of love for the Lord. I don’t want to distance myself from Him experientially.

2) Out of the desire to please God. I want to please the Lord. Obedience pleases the Father.

3) Out of the fear of God. I have assurance of my salvation and yet… there is a holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14)

4) Out of Self-Preservation. The knowledge that my sins, unless resisted, will destroy my soul.

Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.  – John Owen

Male & Female Complementarity – a vital issue and a superb video

Man.  Woman.  Maleness.  Femaleness.  Marriage.  Family.  Gender.  Difference.

Anyone with ears open knows that these are important issues in today’s world.  And also that our culture is attempting to radically alter the fabric of these things.

Presently, there is an international colloquium taking place at the Vatican – Humanum.  It is concerning issues of gender, marriage, sexuality, and family.  It is a collaboration between Catholics, Evangelicals, and others to recommit to the basic foundation of our common humanity.

This is the first of a series of videos produced to help articulate the philosophical and theological basis for male/female complementarity.  This first one is superb.  And a Must-Watch.

May this project be blessed and glorify the One who created by dividing (Genesis 1)

 

re:  On Marriage and Temple Desecration, C C Pecknold, First Things

 

Why are Christians so worked up about homosexuality?

Have you ever had someone accuse traditional Christianity of being obsessed with homosexual sins?  Why aren’t they shouting from the rooftops about poverty?  Why aren’t they condemning other sins?  Why do they seem so fixated on a certain type of social and sexual behaviour?  Why do they make such a big deal about it?

Well, it is not traditional Christians who are the ones bringing the spotlight there.  Our culture has done an almost complete reversal on this moral issue.  Where once it was almost universally frowned upon, same-sex activity and the identity which flows from it is seen as a new civil rights issue.  In popular media, not only the condemnation of it but also the refusal to celebrate it is condemned.  The issue does not spring from Christians.

Why don’t Christians get all up in arms about poverty?  Well, the reason there isn’t much ink spilled over  poverty is because is isn’t a controversy.  Poverty = bad is a pretty well-established idea.  And where are traditional Christians on this issue?  Where they’ve always been.  Serving, giving, sacrificing, helping – always could and should be doing better – in quiet ways away from the spotlight.  Just like Jesus taught us.

Why are Christians making such a big deal about same-sex stuff?  We are because we’re just responding.  You get a Christian leader on a major talk show, they’ll be asked about it.  They don’t have to bring it up.  That is the same in our culture.  We didn’t bring it up.  The issue came to us.  We’re just responding to it.  Have we done a good job all the time?  Certainly not.  Christians have often been disgusted when they should have been compassionate.  But now a days Christians are often being quisling when they should be clear.  But the fact remains, in our culture hasn’t been brought up by traditional Christianity.

It bears repeating, the reason Christians are talking about homosexuality is because everyone else is talking about homosexuality. Strange coincidence that evangelicals did not become “obsessed” with homosexuality until about 40-50 years ago when the culture became obsessed with sexual freedom. If the Supreme Court finds a constitutional right to jab people in the kidneys with poison-tipped spears, we’ll get worked up about that too.*  Kevin Deyoung

These kinds of questions like are basically rhetorical shaming devices and smart people shouldn’t fall for them.  What this world needs is for the Church to be the Church – different, prophetically challenging, and counter-cultural.  We must do this all even at the risk of being misunderstood.  Because we will be misunderstood.  But I know Someone else who was too…

*  from But What About Gluttony!?! by Kevin Deyoung