Category Archives: Apologetics

A SOUTHERN BAPTIST PASTOR INTERVIEWS A HOMOSEXUAL

imagesIt was in sixth grade that I met Matt. He had moved to my hometown of Mabank, Texas from Colorado Springs. We met in band and became friends. We weren’t the best of friends, but we were more than acquaintances. Although we now live on opposite sides of the nation, through the magic of social networking we have been able to keep in touch. We regularly dialogue through both public and private channels about the cultural mood concerning homosexuality.

Matt is a homosexual, which, because of my Christian faith, is a lifestyle with which I vehemently disagree. And Matt knows this. Matt knows that I don’t agree with him and I know that Matt doesn’t agree with me. But we choose to share our opinions openly and respectfully, which is the intent of this blog.

I recently asked Matt if he would be alright if I interviewed him about his lifestyle. Matt was kind enough to oblige. The motivation behind this is inspired by comments I often read from Christians against homosexuality. Unfortunately, many Christians handle the situation poorly. While it’s okay to be outspoken against it, (and I believe Christians should be free to share their biblical convictions), it’s not okay for that outspokenness to present itself in hatred. Paul writes, “If I speak … but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).

Needless to say, there is a lot of gratuitously loud noise on today’s social networks.

The following is the interview I conducted with Matt. I typed out the questions and sent them to him. Some of the information is also from follow up conversations. Each question includes Matt’s answer and some include my response, if it calls for it. You will notice that these are in blue.

I hope that anyone who has an opinion about homosexuality sees the respect that Matt and I have for one another in our disagreements, and that that respect is contagious as we continue to debate the issue in the public square.

PERSONAL QUESTIONS

When did you first think that you were gay?

I began to suspect something was different about myself probably in eighth grade. I remember always wondering why the guys around me seemed so interested in pursuing girls.

Are you currently in a homosexual relationship?

Yes I am. I have been seeing the same guy since I was twenty two years old. We met in college and have been together ever since. He even followed me across the country to a new job. Both of our families have met and actually rather like each other. I was really surprised by that. My Dad is someone I would charitably describe as a “Tea Party Republication”, but he has honestly shocked me with his acceptance of who I am and even the guy I am with.

What kind of social pressures did you experience in “coming out?”

My coming out was kind of an accident. I was twenty and in college and, I won’t bore you with the details, but my parents figured it out and initially we didn’t talk for 3 months. When we did start talking again, it was mostly my mom and I. My dad and I had a very strained relationship the first few years, but now everything is more or less the way I would imagine a regular person’s relationship with their parents is. I can’t honestly say, but I would like to believe that I am glad it happened the way it did, because I am not sure when I would have built up the courage to talk to them about it. Probably not until well into my twenties.

POLITICAL QUESTIONS

What are your thoughts on same-sex marriage?

This sounds so cliché, but my thoughts on same-sex marriage have greatly evolved since I first started hearing about it back in the mid-2000s. At first, I was staunchly against it, and I think a large part of that had to do with my upbringing in the church. I wasn’t, and nor am I now, against people receiving the same benefits and entitlements that marriage brings to everyone. But I was against the idea of calling it “marriage” because I felt that was reserved fully for straight people and the church. But that was back then, and this is now. I am not what you would call an activist for same-sex marriage, but I do believe now that if gay people want to get married, then they should be able too. Again, I can’t stress this enough, I really just believe that everyone should have access to the benefits that marriage provides, not the name or the title. I am sure my fellow gays won’t like hearing that, but it’s just the way I feel about the issue.

Author’s Note: Many of my thoughts concerning this question can be found in this blog: The Meaning of Equality.

Would you say that today’s homosexual movement is on par with the 1960′s civil rights movement?

Yes, most particularly with the Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia (1967), which invalidated all laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Today, we draw inspiration from that time period, to fight for what we believe should be afforded to us to be treated as equals in the eyes of the law. People today think it’s crazy that blacks and whites couldn’t get married up until forty-odd years ago, but during that time period it was a punishable offense with jail time involved.

Author’s Note: I believe that by the time I am a grandparent that it will be unbelievable that homosexuals could not marry one another, and that by the time my kids are parents that people will be amazed that marijuana was at one time considered an illegal drug, and that by the time they are grandparents that people will be amazed that polygamy was once outlawed.

What would you say to someone who argues for things like bigamy, polygamy, and incestry in marriage (as an expansion of same-sex marriage)?

I think bigamy already occurs today and has been occurring for a long time. Certainly not on any level with large amounts of numbers or data to back it up. But you always hear the story about the man with another family in the next town over.

The problem with polygamy is that it almost always means one man with multiple wives. And when that happens you take away a wife from some other man. So in a polygamous society, you would have all these young, unmarried men who are unhappy with no wives. Same-sex marriage changes none of that, it leads us as a society away from that. Gay people just want the ability to marry someone instead of no one.

Incest is something that is just wrong on so many levels as it is, it’s not even really worth arguing over.

Author’s Note: I can see what Matt is saying in this, but I find it to be pragmatic. And I think pragmatism is a poor way to make decisions, although we all make decisions based on this philosophy everyday!

For example, would polygamy then be okay if we can manufacture a society where there are no unhappy unmarried men? What if the ratio of women to men was such that every man could easily have ten wives?

The point is that the issue runs deeper than mathematics.

Do you believe that there would be any psychological affects to a child reared in a home with same-sex parents (not having the traditional male and female examples)?

I don’t think there are any major drawbacks to a child being raised in a home by two same-sex parents as opposed to a traditional family set. In this modern age, children are raised by single dads, single moms, aunts, uncles and extended family. I think as long as all parties involved really love the child, then it will turn out alright.

Author’s Note: I believe that one of the biggest problems of our day is that a large amount of children are raised in homes without a stable mother and father. I have the opportunity to counsel many individuals and I can, nearly 100% of the time, trace the issue back to the lack of a father in the home.

RELIGIOUS QUESTIONS

Do you adhere to any faith religion?

I grew up Methodist, but just sort of stopped going once I graduated high school. I think even in high school I wasn’t really into church anymore, but it was definitely the place where all my friends went and it was a good place to socialize. I do believe that something or someone exists and had something to do with where we are in the universe today. I would say that I loosely identify myself as a Christian, but more like an agnostic one.

Author’s Note: I would say that it’s oxymoronic to be an “agnostic Christian,” although I can say that I know where Matt is coming from. His upbringing leads him to hold beliefs that are rooted in Christianity, but what he believes is not best described as Christianity. He has become agnostic, which means that he doesn’t really know what he believes, although he is still affected by what he learned during his time in the church.

What do you believe the Bible says about homosexuality?

I am not a connoisseur of the Bible, so all I can really say is that I know it’s mentioned a few times, but never directly by Jesus. I did, however, find this awesome article on the Huffington Post website which sums it up much more eloquently then I can: What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality?

Author’s Note: The author of this article begins by suggesting that homosexuality is not as big of an issue as modern day Christians make it, because it is addressed relatively little in comparison to other issues in Scripture. But this is like saying that prostate cancer isn’t as big of a deal as breast cancer because it doesn’t have as big of an awareness month, one that prompts NFL players to wear hot pink highlighted uniforms and people to wear faddy bracelets.

The fact is that it is discussed in Scripture, (homosexuality that is), which makes it important. And when it is discussed, it is identified as sinful. The reason it isn’t discussed more is, arguably, because of the culture in which the Bible was written, specifically the New Testament Gospels. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that homosexuality wasn’t as big of an issue in ancient Jerusalem, the holiest place in the world at that time and the place that Jesus performed most of his ministry and made most of his claims, as it is today. Rape isn’t densely refuted by Jesus either, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong.

Thus the statement, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, so it must be okay” is a weak and misguided argument.

It is also important to know that Jesus essentially did talk about homosexuality. The Bible describes him as the “Word of God made flesh” (John 1:14), and so anything that is included in Scripture is verified by Jesus. He was the living embodiment of every word of every claim of the Bible. And so if the Bible speaks against homosexuality even once, then Jesus essentially, by virtue of his nature, talked about it.

As for the rest of his article, he seems to argue from ignorance. That is, his argument is, “I’ve personally polled some scholars and commentaries and some of them say that we can’t really know the context of these passages that include language forbidding homosexuality. So, we shouldn’t forbid it without knowing the cultural implications of the day.”

This is a poor reason to refute something out of hand. He is taking shaky evidence and making what he believes is an irrefutable claim. That’s poor debate etiquette. 

Do you believe that people are born gay (is it a choice or a predisposition)?

This is honestly a tough question for me to answer. I think everyone is born with certain traits amplified and/or dampened down due to conditions in the womb/external environment, so I can’t say for certain that it’s a predisposition. At the same time, I am fairly confident in saying that it’s not a choice either. I guess I would need to see more research on the matter before I committed to saying it’s a predisposition.

Author’s Note (this is an edited excerpt from a previous blog): Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin (1 Cor 6:9), and therefore those that believe Scripture are simply trusting what it says. With that said, Scripture also says that sin is a “predisposition” (Rom 5). It’s something every person is born with. And as a predisposition, everybody has a “decision” to either act on it or not. Some act on it by lying. Others act on it by stealing. And some act on it by planting a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s a predisposition to which every person is subjected. Thus, since Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin, (and since it speaks of sin as a predisposition), it is not unreasonable to say that homosexuality is the fruit of a decision rooted in a predisposed, sinful nature.

But this doesn’t mean that it’s okay. We would never, for example, suggest that rape is okay. No one could reasonably say, “Aw, leave that guy assaulting that woman alone. Stop trying to rewire his predisposition with your personal preferences. He can’t help himself.” This isn’t to say that homosexuality is on par with rape, only that a sin is a sin, and the tiniest sin is enough to separate man from God.

Do you think, from what you know about Christianity, that a person can be a Christian and live an openly homosexual lifestyle?

I think it is possible for someone to be Christian and a homosexual at the same time, yes. God created everyone the way they are for a reason, and whatever that reason is, only God knows. It’s impossible for me to say it’s a sin, because so many things that we do today are. Our culture and society is vastly different than the one that is written and talked about in the Bible. I think someone’s relationship with God, is just that. Their relationship. It isn’t up to you or I to pass judgement on the way they reach out to God.

Author’s Note (this is an edited excerpt from a previous blog): It is interesting that someone would desire to remain associated to Christianity if he also desires to refute some of its basic claims. I say this not against Matt, but to many celebrities, such as Macklemore, who attempt to do so.

There is an old illustration that describes this well. The illustration details a repair man replacing the parts of his boat. After purchasing the boat he begins to replace its every component. He switches out the motor, the hull, the deck, and the seats. Before long, there is no original element left of the boat.

Is it the same boat?

No.

Likewise, when one switches out all of the original components to Christianity, as determined by God primarily through the Bible, it is no longer Christianity.

Is there anything else that you would like to say or add that wasn’t included in this interview?

I just want to say that there will never be a time, no matter what happens, that I would actively hate someone for the beliefs they hold, or the religion that they practice. We are all immensely more complicated than these few social issues that bring out the worst in some people.

I will always be willing to rationally discuss and debate anything with someone as long as I am afforded the same courtesy. Which is why I like you so much Jared!  You are one of the few people I am still friends with where we don’t get into some heated screaming match over who’s right and who’s wrong.

Author’s Note: I believe that Matt is on to something here, and that even those that disagree with his lifestyle can learn from it. Christians should never actively hate people because they disagree with them. This is both counterproductive and unchristian. Jesus never hated those that disagreed with him. In fact, while hanging on the cross, he prayed for them. We may believe that they are separated from God, but hating them doesn’t advance the gospel. Our job is to share the truth, to share it in love, and to hope that God uses our efforts to save them and lead them to eternal life in Christ.

Final Note: I usually put the phrase “same sex marriage” in quotations, because I believe the term to be oxymoronic. That is, I believe it is on par with saying, “squared circle.” In this interview the term shows up from time to time without the quotations because it is included in Matt’s answers, and he doesn’t view it that way.

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MACKLEMORE AND THE TOP THREE REASONS TO SUPPORT HOMOSEXUALITY

1-macklemoregayThis is a rendition of a blog originally posted in July of 2013.

Last night on the Grammys, Macklemore sang his culturally beloved song, “Same Love.” This song is essentially written as a mantra against those who oppose homosexuality, specifically as it relates to “same-sex marriage.” It’s also become somewhat of a mascot song for those that support homosexuality. Macklemore, according to his own lyrics, isn’t gay, but he is put out with those who oppose it.

The song includes three verses that make bold proclamations concerning homosexuality, summarizing three of the most common reasons to support it. Each is listed below with a few insights into each, suggesting how they are misguided.

1. HOMOSEXUALITY CAN’T BE CURED, ESPECIALLY BY RELIGION

The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision,
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago

Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin (1 Cor 6:9), and therefore those that believe Scripture are simply trusting what it says. With that said, Scripture also says that sin is, and Macklemore agrees, a “predisposition” (Rom 5). It’s something every person is born with. And as a predisposition, everybody has a “decision” to either act on it or not. Some act on it by lying. Others act on it by stealing. And some act on it by planting a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s a predisposition to which every person is subjected. Thus, since Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin, (and since it speaks of sin as a predisposition), it is not unreasonable to say that homosexuality is the fruit of a decision rooted in a predisposed, sinful nature.

But this, contrary to Macklemore’s rap, doesn’t mean that it’s okay. We would never, for example, suggest that rape is okay. No one could reasonably say, “Aw, leave that guy assaulting that woman alone. Stop trying to rewire his predisposition with your personal preferences. He can’t help himself.”

Macklemore is perhaps correct in suggesting that “right wing conservatives think . . . it can be cured with religion,” but right wing conservatives who think this way are wrong. Sin cannot be cured by religion. Sin can only be cured by Jesus. And while the organized worship of Jesus is in fact “religion,” it’s not organized worship that cures sin. The Bible certainly doesn’t speak of “religion” as “rewiring” our sinful natures. It speaks of Jesus as making us a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). There is a big difference. We aren’t even the same machine after he gets ahold of us and we therefore can’t be “rewired.” The old “wires” aren’t even there anymore.

But God “loves all his children,” right? That’s what the Bible says, is it not? Actually, no. It says quite the opposite. While God indeed loves people, all people are not his “children.” Only those that claim Jesus as Lord–and believe everything that comes along with this claim–are considered his “adopted children.” The Bible records Jesus, God’s Son, telling a group of unsaved individuals that their “father” is “the devil” (John 8:44).

In other words, God is not their father and they are not his children.

2. SOCIALLY, “GAY IS THE NEW BLACK”

It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself

Here, Macklemore essentially says that “gay is the new black,” meaning, that those who oppose homosexual behavior are on par with those who opposed the abolition of slavery. But I don’t see signs in restaurant bathrooms and over water fountains for “homosexuals” and “straights.” I don’t see schools for “homosexuals” and schools for “straights.” I don’t see straight people forcing homosexuals to sit in the back of the bus. In fact, I see quite the opposite.

Ryan Anderson for example, a proponent for traditional marriage, was interviewed (or attacked) on Piers Morgan’s show for his beliefs. Piers and Suze Orman (a lesbian) both sat at the central table whereas Mr. Anderson had to sit with the audience. No doubt this was because of his stance on “same-sex marriage.”

Christians, at least those with the right state of mind, aren’t telling homosexuals that they have to sit at the back of the bus. They are standing up for biblical rights as dictated by Scripture.

Macklemore suggests that everybody deserves human rights, to which a Christian should agree. Everybody deserves basic human “rights.” But Macklemore, along with countless other “left wing liberals” (to parallel his title), misunderstand what a human “right” is. Marriage, for example, isn’t a human “right” so much as it is a God ordained institution (Gen 2) to which one can be privy if he abides by God’s standards. And God defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman.

To make it anything else is to alter the very meaning of the word, forcing it to become something entirely different. We might as well call walking, running, say that 2+2=5, or remove other standards like the unlawfulness of incest or polygamy.

Redefining marriage is to take a God-designed institution and manipulate it into something that we want it to be. It’s telling God that we don’t want him, but we do want his ideas so that we can manipulate them into things that fit our personal preferences. We are throwing out the baby and the bath water, filling the tub up with something else, then calling it the same thing.

3. ANYONE WHO OPPOSES HOMOSEXUAL LOVE IS A HATE MONGER

When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned

The most curious element to Macklemore’s song is its citation of the Christian faith. It is baffling that someone would associate himself with Christianity, as Macklemore does, if that person denies all of its claims.

There is an old illustration that describes this well. The illustration details a repair man replacing the parts of his boat. After purchasing the boat he begins to replace its every component. He switches out the motor, the hull, the deck, and the seats. Before long, there is no original element left of the boat.

Is it the same boat?

No.

Likewise, when one switches out all of the original components to Christianity, as determined by God primarily through the Bible, it is no longer Christianity. And Macklemore’s statements that the Bible is merely a “book written thirty-five hundred years ago” hints to his feelings that his contemporary thoughts override its ageless truths.

The context of Macklemore’s rap suggests that anything that might hurt someone’s feelings is considered “hate,” and this is not “anointed.” But what if we turned around the line? What if a “right wing conservative” suggested that it was hateful to force one’s homosexual agenda upon him? Why can it only be a one-way street? Would this not be the homosexuals employing the “hate that caused war” onto us? Isn’t that what Piers and Suze did to Ryan during their interview?

But what if the initial “haters” weren’t “hating” at all? What if there was a good explanation for why they believed the way they did about homosexuality?

One of the clearest passages in Scripture describing homosexuality as a deadly sin is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Paul writes, “Do not be deceived; homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is a way of saying that homosexuality is contradictory to God’s standards and that it is evidence of a life that has not been redeemed by Jesus. The result is no inheritance of God’s kingdom, or no eternal life in what most call “Heaven.” Thus, if you claim any association with the God of the Holy Scriptures then you must abide by this standard, otherwise you are building a new boat.

This is an important verse because it reveals the devastating reality of the sin of homosexuality. I don’t oppose homosexuality because I am a stubborn-minded bigot who is simply regurgitating my environmental conditioning. I oppose homosexuality because God opposes homosexuality. I also oppose it because, according to Scripture, it is a lifestyle that reveals that one has not been redeemed by Jesus, and this lack of redemption will ultimately result in an eternity separated from God. And I don’t wish that upon anyone.

Now, if I may, a rap of my own:

Jesus is the best and I’ll tell you why
He came to earth to live and then to die
For you and me because we were lost
God sent his only son to die on the cross*

*Stolen from a VBS rhyme from when I was like seven.

Further Reading:
What Macklemore Got Wrong … And Right by Denny Burk

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THE TOP THREE REASONS TO HAVE AN ABORTION

babyI should probably add to the title: “And Why They Are Unwarranted.”

Some weeks ago “#praytoendabortion” became a trend on Twitter. And, to the astonishment of many, the trend lasted for a few days. These astonished individuals, considering the trend unwarranted, tweeted such statements as,

“#PrayToEndAbortion is such an ignorant trend. Women deserve the right to their own bodies and to decide what happens to their bodies.”

and,

“#PraytoEndAbortion is trending. *expletive* It’s up to every women to do what she wants to her body. Period.”

and,

“Yes, let’s all #PrayToEndAbortion. Not ending rape or sexual assault, but let’s worry about eliminating a woman’s right to choose. #prochoice.”

After evaluating the discussion, I’ve narrowed down the most common statements from today’s outspoken tweeters into three responses. I’ve also included some insights into each response.

1. A WOMAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DO WHAT SHE WANTS WITH HER OWN BODY

One of the most common phrases I hear about abortion, particularly those who have participated in it, is, “I had an abortion.” In fact, one girl actually told me on twitter that she “had an abortion two weeks ago.” I’m not sure I like this phrase. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t like this phrase at all, not only because of what it means, but also because of what the phrase itself implies.

The phrase “I had an abortion” likens the event of abortion to getting an unwanted mole removed. A person who goes to the doctor to get a pesky mole removed from his face might be found saying, “I had a mole removed,” and would be justified in saying so. The idea is that the mole was an unwanted part of the body. It served no purpose. It was probably ugly. It might have even been cancerous. Regardless the reason, the phrase, “I had a mole removed,” is a warranted statement to detail the experience.

The same is not, and cannot be, true regarding abortion.

When a pro-life individual endorses the phrase, “She had an abortion,” that individual is essentially conceding to the pro-choice philosophy that an abortion is like having a mole removed. The statement fails to convey that a person was murdered during the process. It softens the experience to be more palatable, when the unbridled fact is that something absolutely devastating happened. The woman didn’t “have an abortion.” She didn’t remove an unwanted part of her body. She sacrificed one body to spare the inevitable effects to her own.

She committed an abortion.

A woman’s body is the only thing in this world that is capable of cultivating human life. And that’s special. With all of the advancements in science, scientists still can’t produce an artificial womb. This fact alone reveals that pregnancy is designed to be a beautiful gift, not a wretched curse. And although a woman may have the right to do what she wants with her own body, and although a woman’s body is inevitably effected by a pregnancy, her body isn’t the only one at stake, regardless of the age of the unborn child.

2. WHAT IF THE CHILD IS CONCEIVED THROUGH RAPE?

Of the various responses I hear, this one is perhaps the most unfounded, (if there is any foundation to these responses at all). This is because this response implies that a child conceived out of unfortunate circumstances is somehow less valuable than a child conceived out of fortunate circumstances.

The response implies that an unborn child might be a person, but that the person is less valuable, and justifiably murderable, because of how he was conceived.

Make no mistake about it, rape is a horrible thing. There is nothing that can be said that could justify a person forcing another person to have sex. And because sex is the way people are conceived, sometimes the act results in a pregnancy. And, unfortunately, rape, being a sexual encounter, can also result in a pregnancy. And conception through rape is always an “unwanted pregnancy.”

But even this doesn’t justify taking the life of the child. The unborn child is innocent of how he was conceived and should not suffer because of it.

When #PrayToEndAbortion was trending, I happened to get into a few discussions concerning the topic. One individual asked me, “What if it was your daughter who was raped?” The question was an intimate one, for I am currently expecting my first child, a daughter. My response was as follows: “Life is life, regardless of the unfortunate circumstance of conception.”

While I don’t have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body, and while rape is a devastating event, the fact is that such an act still doesn’t justify the murder of an innocent child.

It just doesn’t.

We should not be in the business of determining which life is more valuable than another based on circumstances outside our control. When we do, we follow in the footsteps of people like Adolf Hitler, who desired to dismantle an entire ethnicity because they did not meet his standard of life.

3. A FETUS IS NOT A PERSON

This is perhaps the most popular response for a pro-choice argument. And it is assuredly one of the most fundamental questions concerning abortion. If a person becomes a person at conception, then abortion is murder. If a person doesn’t become a person until birth, then abortion is not murder.

What is the answer?

I want to provide my insights in two ways. First, I want to address a picture I saw during the Twitter trend that one individual posted with a statement likened to, “I’m solving the issue with this single picture!” Here is the picture:

abortion-rights-choice

As seen, whoever designed this picture suggests that since an egg yolk is not a chicken, and since an acorn is not a tree, and since silk is not a dress, that a sperm-impregnated egg is not a person.

There are significant fallacies with this picture. For brevity’s sake I’ll focus on one.

Chickens can lay eggs without the egg actually being fertilized by a rooster. So the author is correct in that the egg yolk isn’t a chicken, much like a woman’s unfertilized egg is not a person. If the egg was fertilized, then it would be a chicken, albeit in an early stage.

He is right in his statement, but wrong in his conclusion.

The idea is that there is an obvious difference between a fertilized and unfertilized egg. One is a chicken and the other is breakfast, respectively. This picture actually helps disprove that which it is trying to prove, than the other way around.

Second, I would be remiss to ignore that my stance on abortion is drawn from my faith in Jesus. Quite simply, God’s Word declares that children are a gift of the Lord and that God actually knits a person while he is in his mother’s womb. For this reason alone a “fetus” is a person from conception.

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward (Ps 127:3, NASB).

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb (Ps 139:13, NASB).

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you (Jer 1:5, NASB).

WHO AM I, AS A MAN, TO WRITE SUCH AN ARTICLE?

Who am I, as a man, to argue with an abortion-minded woman against her desire to terminate a pregnancy affecting her body?

I’m an individual who cares about life, especially innocent life.

If the unsafest place for a person is inside his mother’s womb, and if we are okay with that, then we live in a culture that knowingly embraces the Holocaust 2.0.

I’m not a man telling a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. I’m a man affirming the right to life. This is something that Jesus came to give everyone, and to give it abundantly.

“The thief comes only to … kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

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WHY RACISM DOESN’T EXIST, AND WHY IT DOES

segregatedRecently I was asked the following question: What age, gender, and race child do you prefer to adopt?”

My response was: “Infant, female, human.” Here’s why:

The nineteenth century witnessed the enslavement of many people based on the color of their skin. These same people also lacked many freedoms that other, different colored individuals possessed. In time, society made them do things like sit in the back of the bus and go to different schools.

The twentieth century witnessed the murder of six million people because of their bloodline. Many of these were placed in concentration camps and forced to suffer humiliating deaths.

The twenty-first century has witnessed a war in Africa in which 5.4 million people lost their lives. This total includes the Pygmy people who were hunted down, murdered, and even eaten because they were regarded as subhuman magical creatures.

All of these are historical events in which one group of people persecuted another group of people because they were different. And in spite of these events it is my conviction that racism among humans doesn’t exist, but at the same time, unfortunately does exist.

WHY RACISM EXISTS

“Racism” is a word often used to convey the idea that some people act as if they are superior to other people because of the color of their skin or the origin of their bloodline. But the term, in and of itself, is inherently erroneous.

The word “racism” suggests that differences in skin color or the origin of a bloodline categorize people into different breeds or species, but the fact is that the human race is just that: a single race. In this sense “racism” is, as the old idiom says, “The pot calling the kettle black.” That is, to be “racist” is to suggest that one human being places guilt on another human being because he is a human being. But this obviously isn’t what happened during events like the Holocaust. Hitler didn’t kill six million Jews because they were guilty of being human. He killed them because he thought that they were less-than-human. He looked at the Jewish ethnicity as an inferior “race” and sought to eliminate them.

This is also what allegedly happened in Miami recently when Richie Incognito, a white Miami Dolphins NFL player, persecuted his teammate Jonathan Martin because he is black. Incognito didn’t slander Martin because he is another human but because he viewed him as less-than-human.

The transcript of Incognito’s Voicemail to Martin reveals “racism” at its worst. Incognito regards Martin as less-than-human merely because his skin tone is darker than his. This is the epitome of “racism.” It reveals the unfortunate reality that racism, insofar as it relates to people viewing other people as subhuman, is a real thing.

WHY RACISM DOESN’T EXIST

But “racism,” however, doesn’t exist insofar as it shouldn’t exist, because there is one human race, and therefore, it should be impossible for one human to be “racist” against another human. Humans, regardless of their skin color, make up one race and this race has multiple ethnicities. Thus, a better term for discussing elitist attitudes towards fellow human beings might be “ethnocentrism,” not “racism.” This is because using the word “racism” might suggest that there are various races among the human species, and in this sense it might be “racist” to use the word “racism.”

If this is confusing, allow me to articulate it this way: The word “racism” can be likened to the term “same sex marriage.” The use of the word is to suggest it as a real thing, when in reality, it isn’t, or at least shouldn’t be. It should be impossible for a human to be “racist” against another human because humans make up one single race, just as it should be impossible for a man and a man to be “married” because “marriage” is, by definition, between a man and a woman.

The logical, and more importantly biblical, fact is that we are all part of the human race, but we are of different ethnicities. Other appropriate words include “nationalities,” “tongues,” or even “tribes.” These are terms that Scripture uses, and it never uses the word “race” to speak of various people groups.

JESUS, THE KINGDOM, AND THE NATIONS

The idea that there is one human race that includes multiple ethnicities is something Jesus both acknowledged and cherished. Jesus was no ethnocentrist. An example is found in Matthew 8 when Jesus confronted the Jews’ ethnocentrism by acknowledging and affirming a Roman Gentile solider, claiming that he had not found “such great faith with anyone in Israel” (Matt 8:10). Contextually this was to combat certain Jews who felt superior to Gentiles because of their bloodline. Jesus says that, “many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness” (Matt 8:11-12). This is a fancy way of saying that Kingdom citizenship is not based on bloodline or skin color.

This is a concept that covers the scriptures like a cloak. God’s creation is one that includes one race of humans with multiple nationalities. Luke writes, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). These nations make up the world that God so loves. He sees us as one race that includes people that are red, yellow, black and white, and celebrates it.

It is my conviction that, as followers of Jesus, we ought to be careful in how we use the word “racism.” Using the term flippantly is to concede that there are multiple human races, which bemoans God’s creation. At the same time, we ought to be bold in how we use it when discussing certain events in which people actually do treat other people as less than human. This is the unfortunate truth about “racism”: It exists because of people’s ungodly understanding of the human race, although it shouldn’t exist at all.

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THE CUSSING CHRISTIAN: BEING IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF THE WORLD

BlogGraphicTemplateThe following is a follow up question to an article on cussing I wrote at CARM.org. The individual’s (for the most part unedited) email reads:

I’m a 19 year old punk rock musician, singer/songwriter/guitarist, so obviously cursing isn’t as black and white of an issue in my life as I’d like it to be. I really want to be a witness to those in the punk rock scene in smokey late night bars, because no one else will reach out to them, and I am one of them.

Punk is the least Christian friendly genre, very very few are believers, but even more are haters, thinking all Christians are rich gay hating war mongers who deny science and logic, or all the other misconceptions out there. I want to be a witness in showing them that I’m no less a sinner then they are, and this is what true hope and joy in Christ really is. But to do that I’ve got to make sure I walk that balance of showing how I can be just like them, a smoker (shouldn’t be I know), not scared or judgmental of drinkers…pretty much to eat with tax collectors and sinners…but still being a good Christian who resists evil, judgment, hatred, and all that is sin.

Basically just to show them they don’t have to be a catholic missionary to find joy and renewal in Jesus.

But cursing is the hardest thing to figure out for me. I know my basic beliefs on it, but I don’t yet have confidence on the specifics. Being a song writer used to cursing in songs, on stage, and all bands i listen to doing the same, it’s time for me to figure it out as I’m just now writing and playing with a new band.

I wanted to inquire further to get an opinion I can trust. You made a great case for the difference between curse words and words that curse, but I need advice in another area. Is it always wrong to curse in music, if not in a negative or angry context, and is there a major difference between public swearing and when talking with a few friends because it’s practically second nature vocabulary?

Where is the line between what I need to refrain from, even if it is hard, and like it or not, to be a good example for Christ, and where I can show that Christians aren’t perfect and instead work on many of the other sins we all commit everyday like envy, anger, judgment, etc, the more emotion based ones that make up the heart rather than the form of language used by the tongue. Is it worse for me to put someone down in my thoughts or to say without thinking, “I think your a f-ing awesome person”? (Just as an extreme example.) To judge someone by their looks in my heart, or to say “s-t what song are we playing next”? If both are sinful, I know I shouldn’t do either, but I can never be perfect, I mean that’s why He who is perfect had to take my punishment.

My questions aren’t even really limited to these examples, but I think I’ve given you enough to fully understand my conflict and fill in any of the blanks.

I am very grateful for you’re time, do not feel obligated to rush back a reply, I’m not cursing out preachers left and right, I can wait haha. I look foward to hearing your opinions, thank you and God bless.

The following is my response:

I want to thank you for both reading and responding to my CARM.org article.

I have read your email a couple of times and I feel that the best way to respond is to give a general response to your statements concerning your witness to those in the “punk rock” scene, and then to answer your specific questions, which include:

* Is it always wrong to curse in music, even if it’s not negative or angry?
* Is there a major difference between public swearing and personal swearing (suggesting that the personal swearing is ‘second nature’)?
* Where should I draw the line while showing that Christians aren’t perfect?
* Is there a difference between sinful thoughts and sinful words? Is one worse than the other?

WITNESSING IN A ‘PUNK ROCK’ SCENE

If I understand your dilemma, then you are trying to figure out how to operate as a follower of Jesus in a scene that is contrary to him. My response to such a dilemma is to consider how Jesus operated in such scenes. While Jesus did indeed “eat with tax collectors and sinners” (Mark 2:15), it is important to understand that he did not sit at the tax collector booth with them and include himself in their behavior. In fact his entire effort for eating with them is explained in Mark 2:17: “It is not those who are healthy who  need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Therefore, it is important to remember that if you are going to witness to “tax collectors and sinners” that you are not including yourself in their sinful behavior, and that your motivation is to lead them to “health” in Jesus.

If you really want to witness in the “punk rock” scene, then I would encourage you to befriend people in that scene, but to make sure that you are not including yourself in their behavior. As you have identified, things like smoking and cursing would be including yourself in their behavior and all this will do is cause them to see that there is no difference between them and you, and mitigate their desire to see the need for trusting Jesus.

Jesus says it this way: “Be in the world, but not of the world” (John 17:16).

YOUR QUESTIONS

Question 1: “Is it always wrong to curse in music, even if it’s not negative or angry?”

Per my original article, I would suggest that cursing in music is sinful and that it would be nearly impossible to include a curse word without it having some kind of negative or angry context. This is why the word “curse” is used to describe such words. They are “curses” directed towards someone or something. It is a way of releasing and describing extreme dissatisfaction with a person or a situation. It’s okay to express righteous anger over sin, but it’s not okay to respond to sin with sin.

Paul writes, “Be angry and do not sin” (Eph 4:26).

Also, the music we see in Scripture seems to be a response after difficult events in order to glorify God. This is obvious from the song Moses sang after Israel’s redemption as well as the various Psalms. I would argue that it is difficult to glorify God while making curses directed to people and events, especially when the authors of Scripture glorified God in spite of the events.

Question 2: “Is there a major difference between public swearing and personal swearing (suggesting that the personal swearing is ‘second nature’)?”

I would say that there is no difference. In fact, I would argue that the concept of sin being more acceptable in personal contexts is a question of integrity. God calls us to live at his standard whether we are in the public eye, or in the privacy of our bedrooms.

Also, calling a sin “second nature” is an attempt to justify it as something that we cannot help and, therefore, something that God should overlook. We wouldn’t tell a murderer that it is okay to murder someone in private but not in public, because it’s his “second nature.” Paul tells us that we should not look at sin this way because doing so is taking advantage of God’s forgiveness (Romans 6).

Question 3: “Where should I draw the line while showing that Christians aren’t perfect?”

The answer to this question is easy: draw the line at sin. While it is understandable to want to show “tax collectors and sinners” that Christians aren’t perfect, especially in a world that tends to think of us as “rich, gay hating, war mongers who deny science and logic,” as you say, we simply cannot do it by subjecting ourselves to sin in order to do so.

One of the best cliches (and I usually loathe cliches!) that I have heard on this is to “Hate the sin. Love the sinner.” I think this is a very biblical concept. The way you do this is the same way Jesus did. He met sinners where they were, spent time with them without including himself in their sinful activities, and then sought to bring them to salvation.

You could never lift a drowning man out of a fast-paced river if you jumped in with him. But you could if you stood on the shore and offered a helping hand. As Christians, we must stand on the shore of God’s standards, meet the sinners in their despair, and offer a helping hand.

Question 4: “Is there a difference between sinful thoughts and sinful words? Is one worse than the other?”

Your question makes me think of what Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell’” (22)

“but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (28).

In a nutshell, Jesus taught that anger is on par with murder (including the context of 5:21) and that lust is on par with adultery. A person doesn’t need to actually murder or commit adultery to be counted guilty in God’s eyes. Thus, the answer to your question is that sinful thoughts and sinful words are one in the same. Both equally offend God’s standard.

To make a personal appeal, it seems that you are in a precarious situation. You have a love for “punk rock” music, which naturally comes with a very unchristian context. This makes it hard for you to exist within that context because in order to succeed you are expected to live a certain lifestyle. I would encourage you to ask yourself if your motivation to be in that scene is to reach people for Jesus or because you personally like the music. If it is the latter, then you will find that you will have a difficult time finding the motivation to not smoke, drink, curse, etc. If it is the former, then you will find that  you will be willing to forego the lifestyle that come with the scene. If you really want to make an impact for Jesus, then the best thing you can do is to live at his standard in whatever context he has you. It would be difficult to lead a thief to Jesus if you are stealing alongside him, or a murderer if you are killing alongside him. The same is true for the people in the punk rock scene. If you really want to reach them for Christ, then you will need to make sacrifices that show them that you are different, and that the difference is a relationship with Jesus.

Thanks for the opportunity to correspond with you over this!

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WHY SOME PEOPLE SAY THEY ARE A CHRISTIAN, BUT PROBABLY AREN’T

Blog-Graphic

Humor me for a moment with the following story:

You’re on the front porch of 20 Cherry Avenue. You have no idea who lives here, but you are determined to share Jesus with them. You’ve heard your pastor preach on how you ought to be active in sharing your faith, so you finally stepped out of your comfort zone.

You’ve gone, as the old timers say, “soul winnin’.”

You fight the urge to turn away, but you can’t turn back now. You’ve come so far. Slowly you begin lifting your hand. Your fingers begin to curl. Your knuckles begin to point. And before you know it you have formed a fist. You point it towards the door and begin flicking your wrist forward three times to the sound of skin-clothed bone hitting wood.

Through the walls you can hear a parent screaming at a child. The child begins to cry. A couple of awkward minutes pass. You’re not sure if you should stay or leave. It’s obvious that someone is home. And it’s obvious that they heard you. You’ve already overcome your nerves, so you decide to give it one more minute.

You’re finally greeted at the door. It’s a man. He’s in a white tank top and jean shorts. You smell cigarette smoke wafting from the house. You see empty beer cans lying on the entryway floor. The child is still crying. The man screams, “Shut up!” then turns his attention to you and gruffly says, “Can I help you?”

“My name is John,” you say. “I am a member of First Baptist Church here in town. I was in the neighborhood and wanted to see if you could spare a few moments to talk about Jesus.”

“First Baptist! Oh, I’ve ben’ a member there fur’ 40 years!” says the gruff man. You’re perplexed. All the signs seemed to suggest that this man has never graced the stoop of a church. You have to think quick, so you say, “Oh. Well, do you believe in Jesus?”

“Son,” the man says. “I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I was baptized when I was five years old. I know all about that stuff. Probably more n’ you!”

Lost for words you say, “Well, I’m sorry to bother you. Thanks for your time. I hope to see you at church sometime soon.” Surprisingly, the man replies, “Probably not. Me and the Old-Man-Up-Stairs have an understandin’. I can have church right here on my couch. Me and God are just fine.”

The End.

If you live in the Bible Belt, which consists of states like Texas, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, then this scene might sound all to familiar. Whether you’ve gone visiting, witnessed to a co-worker, or found yourself in a spiritual conversation with a stranger, it’s not uncommon to run into people who act completely contradictory to the Christian lifestyle, yet have no problem saying, and believing, that they are a Christian.

How is this possible?

A case or two like this wouldn’t be too strange. It’s not unreasonable to think that a few people can be legitimately misguided. But when it seems like everybody and their goldfish claims to be a Christian, yet their lifestyles completely contradict that identity, one cannot help but wonder where the train ran off the tracks.

Why do so many people claim the Christian religion, yet utterly deny its lifestyle?

Throughout my decade-long tenure in the pastorate, I have seen what can be summarized into two philosophies of evangelism. One philosophy is numbers driven. It’s about how many people we can baptize and fill in the pews. It’s about getting through a predetermined presentation. It’s a philosophy that has no follow up or accountability for those allegedly making decisions. All that matters is that you get them to say a few words, usually by repeating after you.

This philosophy has wreaked an epidemic havoc on people where the church is most rooted. This is to say that historically the prevalence of the church in certain areas has, in some cases, worked against the kingdom rather than for it. This is, I think, why so many people are okay with living a life that diametrically opposes Christianity, yet have no problem identifying themselves with it. And these people are the hardest to reach.

It’s hard to tell someone to walk through a door if they feel that they have already walked through it.

The second philosophy is relationship oriented. It’s not about numbers, or full rooms, or magic words. It’s not about getting through a memorized presentation. It’s about a conversation. It’s about building a relationship with someone and getting to know him. It’s about meeting the person where he is and showing him the way to Jesus. It doesn’t have to be done through a five-letter acrostic. It doesn’t take fancy rhetoric. And it doesn’t take a manipulative friendship. All it takes is a sincere, honest approach to a lost person and patiently and lovingly showing him that Jesus is the answer.

Sure, you might not have as many people in the pews. You might not have as many people baptized. You won’t win those evangelistic awards at the large conventions. You won’t be able to go and compare numbers with your buddies. But at least you can know that those that you did lead to salvation probably knew what they were getting in to. They had thought it out. They knew what it meant to die in order to live. They understood that they were being “born again.” At least you know that they actually might have accepted the gospel.

And this, friends, in 20 years might save John Jr. from running in to drunk-tank-top-man-who-thinks-he-is-a-Christian.

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DIFFERENT RACES, OR DIFFERENT ETHNICITIES: SEEING ONE ANOTHER THE WAY GOD DOES

Multiracial Hands Making a CircleMy wife and I are currently working our way through an international adoption from Ethiopia. This means that we are a white family in the process of adopting a child of a different ethnicity, represented by a skin color other than our own. The process has been nothing short of interesting, mainly because of how people have responded.

But I’ll spare those immaturities here.

I share this because within the last few days the media outlets have erupted with commentary concerning the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin trial, which became more of a “racial” case than a murder one. It wasn’t about justice or injustice, but about which “race” won the trial. Within a day we reverted back to the savagery of the 1800s, throwing objectivity out of the window and fighting one another because of different skin tones.

The problem is a foundational one rooted in the word “race.” The word, in and of itself, is divisive. It speaks of people as if we are from different planets. But we aren’t. This isn’t Star Wars where there are a variety of planets that play host to various races. We don’t have Wookies, Hutts, and Ewok races (although that would be cool, except maybe for those gangster Hutts). No, we just have the “human race.” One. Single. Race. And this race comes in red, yellow, black, and white, as the old song goes.

Back to our adoption.

We get asked all of the time, “Why are you guys adopting internationally? You know that the baby will probably be black, right? It will be a different race.” We usually respond with, “Whoa! We had no idea! We should have done more research before we jumped into a $40,000 journey that may or may not work out and will incalculably change our lives forever!”

Actually, we don’t respond that way at all.

Instead, our response is: “Can you think of a better living, breathing, walking illustration of the gospel than adoption? And can you think of a better way to showcase God’s multi-ethnic, heavenly family than to adopt a baby of a different skin color on earth? We can’t.”

I once heard a couple respond to the same aforementioned questions with: “We don’t think that God sees borders and so when it comes to adoption, everywhere is really the same.” I initially really liked this response, but after chewing on it for a while I decided that I don’t actually like it that much. In fact, I don’t think I like it at all. It’s not that it’s necessarily a bad response. It’s just a fairly poor one that credits God as being ignorant to something to which the scriptures clearly convey that he isn’t (and the fact that God isn’t ignorant to anything). God is fully aware of national boundaries and the skin colors that come with them. This is part of the beauty of our multi-ethnic world. God sees us as he created us and he is the only one capable of tearing down the ethnic walls that we so avidly build.

We will never overcome the “racial” problem until we stop thinking in terms of “race” and start thinking in terms of “ethnicities.” The former creates divisiveness and the latter appreciates diversity. The fact is that we are indeed different, but difference doesn’t necessitate inequality. When we subject ourselves to a “racial” identity, what logically follows is a “racial” distinction that places one “race” above another. It’s survival of the fittest motivated by racial supremacy. When we think in terms of “ethnicities,” however, we think the way God thinks. We see a white person as a white person. We see a black person as a black person. We see a brown person as a brown person. And we acknowledge that although we have different skin pigmentations, we are all equally part of one race.

Red, yellow, black, and white, we are equally precious in his sight.

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HATING PEOPLE WHO HATE PEOPLE, WHEN THEY REALLY DON’T HATE PEOPLE AT ALL

1362367354_305x235_Stop-Hating-640x492The other day a song came on the radio that I later discovered is named, “Same Love.” I was mesmerized by the opening line because the musician, Macklemore, raps, “When I was in the third grade I thought I was gay, ’cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.

I intentionally decided to listen to the rest of the song and learned that it is written as a mantra against those who oppose homosexuality, specifically as it relates to “same-sex marriage.” Macklemore, according to his own lyrics, isn’t gay, but he is put out with those who oppose it.

The song includes three verses that make bold, uninformed, proclamations. Here’s a summary of them:

PROCLAMATION ONE: HOMOSEXUALITY CAN BE CURED BY RELIGION

Macklemore raps,

The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision,
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago

Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin (1 Cor 6:9), and therefore those that believe Scripture are simply trusting what it says. With that said, Scripture also says that sin is, and Macklemore agrees, a “predisposition” (Rom 5). It’s something every person is born with. And as a predisposition, everybody has a “decision” to either act on it or not. Some act on it by lying. Others act on it by stealing. And some act on it by planting a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s a predisposition to which every person is subjected. Thus, since Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin, (and since Scripture speaks of sin as a predisposition), it is not unreasonable to say that homosexuality is the fruit of a decision rooted in a predisposed, sinful nature.

But this, contrary to Macklemore’s rap, doesn’t mean that it’s okay. We would never, for example, suggest that rape is okay. No one could reasonably say, “Aw, leave that guy assaulting that woman alone. Stop trying to rewire his predisposition with your personal preferences. He can’t help himself. He is God’s child.”

Macklemore is perhaps correct in suggesting that “right wing conservatives think . . . it can be cured with religion,” but right wing conservatives who think this way are wrong. Sin cannot be cured by religion. Sin can only be cured by Jesus. And while the organized worship of Jesus is in fact “religion,” it’s not organized worship that cures sin. The Bible certainly doesn’t speak of “religion” as “rewiring” our sinful natures. It speaks of Jesus as making us a “new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). There is a big difference. We aren’t even the same machine after he gets ahold of us and we therefore can’t be “rewired.” The old “wires” aren’t even there anymore.

But God “loves all his children,” right? That’s what the Bible says, is it not? Actually, no. It says quite the opposite. While God indeed loves people, all people are not his “children.” Only those that claim Jesus as Lord–and believe everything that comes along with this claim–are considered his “adopted children.” The Bible records Jesus, God’s Son, telling a group of unsaved individuals that their “father” is “the devil” (John 8:44). In other words, God is not their father and they are not his children. But I’m probably just paraphrasing a really old “book” and we all know that if something is old, regardless of what it says, it’s out-of-date, out-of-style, antiquated, and obsolete. Out with the old, in with the new, right?

The Bible is so two-thousand and late.

More on this later.

PROCLAMATION TWO: SOCIALLY, “GAY IS THE NEW BLACK”

In his second verse Macklemore raps,

It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself

Here, Macklemore essentially says that “gay is the new black,” meaning, that those who oppose homosexual behavior are on par with those who opposed the abolition of slavery. But I don’t see signs in restaurant bathrooms and over water fountains for “homosexuals” and “straights.” I don’t see schools for “homosexuals” and schools for “straights.” I don’t see straight people forcing homosexuals to sit in the back of the bus. In fact, I see quite the opposite. Ryan Anderson for example, a proponent for traditional marriage, was recently interviewed (or attacked) on Piers Morgan’s show for his beliefs. Piers and Suze Orman (a lesbian) both sat at the central table whereas Mr. Anderson had to sit with the audience. No doubt this was because of his stance on “same-sex marriage.”

Christians, at least those with the right state of mind, aren’t telling homosexuals that they have to sit at the back of the bus. They are standing up for biblical rights as dictated by Scripture.

Macklemore suggests that everybody deserves human rights, to which a Christian should agree. Everybody deserves basic human “rights.” But Macklemore, along with countless other “left wing liberals” (to parallel his title), misunderstand what a human “right” is. Marriage, for example, isn’t a human “right” so much as it is a God ordained institution (Gen 2) to which one can be privy if he abides by God’s standards. And God defines marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. To make it anything else is to alter the very meaning of the word, forcing it to become something entirely different. We might as well call walking, running, say that 2+2=5, or remove other standards like the unlawfulness of incest or polygamy.

Redefining marriage is to take a God-designed institution and manipulate it into something that we want it to be. It’s telling God that we don’t want him, but we do want his ideas so that we can manipulate them into things that fit our personal preferences. We are throwing out the baby and the bath water, filling the tub up with something else, then calling it the same thing.

PROCLAMATION THREE: ANYONE WHO OPPOSES HOMOSEXUAL LOVE IS A HATE MONGER

Macklemore also raps,

When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned

The most curious element to Macklemore’s song is its citation of the Christian faith. It is baffling that someone would associate himself with Christianity, as Macklemore does, if that person denies all of its claims.

There is an old illustration that describes this well. The illustration details a repair man replacing the parts of his boat. After purchasing the boat he begins to replace its every component. He switches out the motor, the hull, the deck, and the seats. Before long, there is no original element left of the boat.

Is it the same boat?

No.

Likewise, when one switches out all of the original components to Christianity, as determined by God primarily through the Bible, it is no longer Christianity. And Macklemore’s statements that the Bible is merely a “book written thirty-five hundred years ago” hints to his feelings that his contemporary thoughts override its ageless truths.

“God, I know you are all powerful and stuff, but you need to get with the times. Allow me to contemporize your truth.”

The context of Macklemore’s rap suggests that anything that might hurt someone’s feelings is considered “hate,” and this is not “anointed.” But what if we turned around the line? What if a “right wing conservative” suggested that it was hateful to force one’s homosexual agenda upon him? Why can it only be a one-way street? Would this not be the homosexuals employing the “hate that caused war” onto us? Isn’t that what Piers and Suze did to Ryan during their interview? Isn’t this, as the title states, hating people who “hate” people?

But what if the initial “haters” weren’t “hating” at all? What if there was a good explanation for why they believed the way they did about homosexuality?

One of the clearest passages in Scripture describing homosexuality as a deadly sin is 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Paul writes, “Do not be deceived; homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is a way of saying that homosexuality is contradictory to God’s standards and that it is evidence of a life that has not been redeemed by Jesus. The result is no inheritance of God’s kingdom, or no eternal life in what most call “Heaven.” Thus, if you claim any association with the God of the Holy Scriptures then you must abide by this standard, otherwise you are building a new boat.

This is an important verse because it reveals the devastating reality of the sin of homosexuality. I don’t oppose homosexuality because I am a stubborn-minded bigot who is simply regurgitating what I was taught or what my environment imposed on me. I oppose homosexuality because God opposes homosexuality. I also oppose it because, according to Scripture, it is a lifestyle that reveals that one has not been redeemed by Jesus, and this lack of redemption will ultimately result in an eternity separated from God. And I personally would rather nobody experience such an afterlife.

Macklemore, please know that I, and I know I speak for many other Christians, don’t hate homosexuals. I hate their lifestyle. And I hate their lifestyle because God hates it. His word is clear on this and although it may be a tough pill to swallow, God can grant everlasting life to those who turn from their sin and towards his son Jesus, regardless of what the sin is. We speak out because we love, not because we want to be right, or because we are close-minded imbeciles.

Now, for a rap of my own:

Jesus is the best and I’ll tell you why
He came to earth to live and then to die
For you and me because we were lost
God sent his only son to die on the cross
Word.*

*Stolen from a VBS rhyme.

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THE TRUTH TEST: WHY TRUTH SHOULD DICTATE BELIEFS AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND

Crossing-Fingers-copyOn March 30 an article appeared in the Odessa American entitled, “The Meaning of Equality,” in which I argued for the “traditional” definition of marriage. To this a reader responded by submitting a letter to the editor, which appeared in the April 14 edition of the Odessa American with what I consider largely an ad hominem response, an argument that is against the debater instead of the issue being debated. With this said, there were some statements in the letter that deserve a response, if not for any reason except that believers need to know that we have a justified place in the arena of debate, so long as we enter that arena with love and not malice.

The individual’s letter can be read here: Letter to the Editor

While I could spend my time answering and responding to a variety of things in the letter, I felt that my time would be best spent respectively responding to the individual’s final sentence, which essentially outlines one of the foundational differences between the two of us. I am accused of “circular reasoning” essentially because I am a Christian, although my article doesn’t quote or refer to the Christian faith in any capacity. It argues for what is known as the traditional definition of marriage, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman, which, while is certainly a Christian belief, is not solely restricted to this faith. In fact, many argue in favor of this traditional definition of marriage without citing the Bible, the source for Christian beliefs, at all.

The best example is the book, What is Marriage, written by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson, and Robert George.

The fact that this is indeed the traditional definition of marriage is obvious in the fact that the Supreme Court is currently considering redefining it to include other integers. If it were not the traditional standard, then there would be no current debate. My argument is simply that marriage, by traditional definition, is between one man and one woman and that to change that definition is to change the meaning of marriage, causing it to become something entirely different.

The following comprises my response that I plan to submit to the Odessa American for this weekend. My hope is that readers will see that there is such a thing as truth, that it should dictate what we believe about life, and that we can unapologetically communicate it with confidence and love.

“I always lie.”

This is a curious statement. Another way of saying it is, “The truth is that I never tell the truth.” Therefore to say this is to tell the truth, thus making the statement, “I always lie” false. This is because the statement is fundamentally self-defeating. It doesn’t pass it’s own test. The pathological liar cannot describe his incessant lying without lying about lying, thereby telling the truth.

The same principle applies to a statement written by a reader in response to my March 30 article, “The Meaning of Equality.” In a letter written to the editor, a reader writes, “Let’s not assume something to be true unless it’s proven to be so.” This is a statement that essentially suggests that truth doesn’t exist unless it passes a “truth test.” It must be “proven to be so.” However, this statement is itself a truth claim, and an “untested” one at that. It suggests that, “The untested truth is that truth claims should not be believed unless they pass a test.”

Therefore, allegedly every other truth needs to be proven true, except for this particular statement.

This reveals that this statement is fundamentally inaccurate. It is a self-defeating statement that, like our imaginary pathological liar’s claim, fails its own test. It also reveals that there is such a thing as stand-alone truth outside of it being “proven to be so.” In epistemology, the branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of knowledge, this is called a priori knowledge. A priori is Latin for “from what is before,” and suggests that there are things that people just know to be true without the need to be “proven so.” They are known ‘prior to’ experience or some other test for truth.

This is a foundational principle and to deny its existence is to commit epistemological suicide.

Another way of analyzing the aforementioned statement is to consider by what standard a truth claim is tested. To argue that truth doesn’t exist unless it’s proven to be so is to suggest that there is some standard of measurement that will determine whether the potential truth is either true or false. But from where does this standard derive? Has it itself been tested? If so, by what standard of measurement? Is it, as some might say, by popular opinion? Did the earth used to be flat because it was what the majority believed? Of course not. It was spherical all along. Even if the whole world, by popular opinion, believes something it doesn’t mean that it is true.

This is because beliefs do not dictate truth. Instead, truth should dictate beliefs. People are either right or wrong about what they believe based on if it is true or not.

Allow me to illustrate.

For the past few weeks a story has decorated the social networks concerning a doctor named Kermit Gosnell who is on trial for eight counts of murder, (although it should be a great many more). In a documentary about the story entitled “3801 Lancaster” (3801lancaster.com), we learn that Dr. Gosnell not only aborted the lives of thousands of babies, but that some of the abortions took place after full-term. Moreover, Dr. Gosnell collected pieces of these babies as his personal trophies.

Dr. Gosnell’s practices do not need to be tested to “prove” they are morally wrong. Instead, there is a transcendent standard of truth that tells us that it is absolutely wrong to snip the spinal cord to a baby and to collect, as a personal accolade, his feet in a jar.

This is because there is a moral standard of truth that does not need to be tested and this standard is not determined by popular opinion, nor does it bend by cultural epochs. It is an unchanging principle that was superimposed onto the heart of man by, in my conviction, the hand of God. And this is but one of many available examples.

We have “the work of the Law written on our hearts, our conscience bearing witness and our thoughts alternately accusing or defending others,” as Paul writes (Rom 2:15).

To the reader I quoted, I want to say thank you for both reading and taking time to respond to my article.

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