My main worry with some of the “renunciation” and “surrender” and “death to self” language that Christians use in relation to homosexuality is that, for most people, it will end up implying that we believe all aspects of “being gay” are sinful. This is a devastating burden for many same-sex attracted Christians to bear, since it then leaves them trying to parse, ever more minutely and obsessively, how much of their desires for friendship, intimacy, companionship, community, etc. are a result of their sexual orientation. Then, if they think that those desires are a result of their same-sex attraction, they’re left feeling that they must repent of things that, surely, God intends for blessing and good in their lives—and things that have a rich history of commendation and sanctification in the history of the Church.
I continue to enjoy Wesley Hill’s thoughtful and irenic engagement on the intersection of Christianity and human sexuality.
This is where the debate was most important. Both men were asked if any evidence could ever force them to change their basic understanding. Ham said no, pointing to the authority of Scripture. Nye said that evidence for creation would change his mind. But Nye made clear that he was unconditionally committed to a naturalistic worldview, which would make such evidence impossible. Neither man is actually willing to allow for any dispositive evidence to change his mind. Both operate in basically closed intellectual systems. The main problem is that Ken Ham knows this to be the case, but Bill Nye apparently does not. Ham was consistently bold in citing his confidence in God, in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in the full authority and divine inspiration of the Bible. He never pulled a punch or hid behind an argument. Nye seems to believe that he is genuinely open to any and all new information, but it is clear that his ultimate intellectual authority is the prevailing scientific consensus. More than once he asserted a virtually unblemished confidence in the ability of modern science to correct itself. He steadfastly refused to admit that any intellectual presuppositions color his own judgment. […]
The central issue last night was really not the age of the earth or the claims of modern science. The question was not really about the ark or sediment layers or fossils. It was about the central worldview clash of our times, and of any time: the clash between the worldview of the self-declared “reasonable man” and the worldview of the sinner saved by grace.
Today, Christians who begin to realize they’re gay—or, in a great Onion headline that captures my freshman and sophomore years of college pretty well, “Gay Teen Worried He Might Be Christian”—have options beyond tweezering at their relationships with their fathers and praying for change.
Gay Christians may end up married to the opposite sex, because life and sexuality are complex: Spiritual Friendship has a few married contributors, although none consider themselves “ex-gay.” But most gay Christians who accept the historical teaching are accepting a lifetime of celibacy. We can’t plan on marriage or wait around for it. So we’ve had to be much more intentional about asking how we can give and receive love. To whom can we devote ourselves, and on whom can we rely?
In order to help answer these urgent questions, some churches and individual Christians are rediscovering a broader understanding of “kinship” that goes against a culture in which marriage is the only chosen form of adult kinship we recognize. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus promises that those who lose their homes or families for His sake will receive new homes and families, “a hundred times more now.”
But the church has rarely deigned to provide that family for its gay members who are estranged from their families of origin, or who suffer from loneliness and lack of purpose because they’re unmarried and unable to pursue marriage. Gay Christians are finding “chosen families” in many different ways. Some live in intentional communities: in my forthcoming book I interview a man who has found that community life offers him the kind of lasting, difficult love that chastens and rewards us. Others look to the nearly forgotten Christian traditions in which friendship was treated as a form of kinship that carried obligations of care.
Now it is true that an atheist can know certain things by means of this natural law, and he can be right about those things. But he is not right about the source of that knowledge, and he is not right about the context of his moral knowledge. If a natural law theorist wants to flatter this atheist, and act like his moral knowledge is a valid bit of knowing, even within his atheistic context, then that natural law theorist, in my view, has given away the store, not to mention the farm, and to switch metaphors a third time, is five thousand dollars down. In other words, nature does not just show us morality, suspended in midair. Natural law delivers the whole package, and the true Creator of it.
This book is by far the best “apologetic” I’ve ever read–precisely because it’s not one in the classic sense. It’s personal, pastoral, and passionately exhortative. Greg simply lets his dad’s questions and hang-ups drive the conversation. The result is a transformation.
It is not just that we are all sinners. It’s that there really are people of this world and there really are people traveling through this world home to eternity. The people of the world will bring up every bad act the Christian has committed not so much to discredit the Christian with others, but to discredit the Christian with himself so he shuts up and gives up.
See, this is interesting. Atheist churches are finding that many of the problems they had with “religion” and “church” are actually human and community problems.
I’m battling hilarity and sadness. It’s amazing the pitiful but extravagant lengths people will go to deny the Truth but still try and squeeze out existential meaning from life—even such earnest yet shallow imitations as an atheist “church.” Wow.
None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer. Many of these songs talk about this belief. An obligation to say this or do that does not sound like the glorious freedom that Christ died to afford me.
My sense is that conservative Christian objections to Obamacare in particular, and to the expansion of government in general, are driven not only by the unfortunate policy specifics, but also by more general concerns that are fundamentally and legitimately theological. More specifically, such opposition is funded by real if often inchoate convictions about theological anthropology, theology proper, and ecclesiology.
First, there is the undeniable fact that the expansion of the welfare state undermines individual responsibility. Christian conservatives know from Scripture and experience that human beings generally behave self-centeredly and tend to prioritize short-term gratification unless there are normative and institutional structures in place that provide discipline and incentive to do otherwise. Moreover, conservatives know from experience and common sense that when government subsidizes behavior the nation gets more of that behavior. It was precisely this recognition that lay at the heart of the successful welfare reform in the 1990s.
Second, there is the problem of secular, statist idolatry. The modern welfare state is the Leviathan that puts itself in the place of God as that which meets cradle-to-the-grave needs of people. In fact, there is now a host of sociological evidence indicating that the decline of Christianity in the West can be correlated rather precisely with the expansion of government.
Third, there is the fact that the “therapeutocracy” (to use social theorist Jürgen Habermas’s memorable term) of the modern welfare state has little tolerance for faith perspectives that oppose its edicts or compete with it for the allegiance of the populace. Thus it seeks to undercut the mediating structures (churches and voluntary societies) that Tocqueville so eloquently recognized as essential to the preservation of genuine democracy. How else are we to understand the way that the Obama administration has persistently been picking unnecessary fights with people of faith, whether it be the efforts to marginalize Christians in the military, the bizarre arguments of the Obama administration in a recent court case (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) that the free-exercise clause First Amendment does not protect a religious organization’s right to choose its own leaders, or the contraceptive mandate of Obamacare?
I’ll agree that we need to have a good and substantive discussion about healthcare reform. But sentimental soundbites from the Evangelical left about “care for the poor” do not contribute much to that endeavor.
In 2012 Douglas Wilson gave a two-part lecture series at the of Indiana University about what the Bible says about human sexuality, followed by a Q&A. Watch the whole thing at http://www.canonwired.com/bloomington
I’m hoping to post a few thoughts on this tomorrow at spiritualfriendship.org, but for now, please click through and read the whole of this humble, smart, provocative, gospel-proclaiming interview with my friend Steve Holmes on the current state of the same-sex marriage debate in evangelical Christianity.
This is a profoundly challenging and provocative interview. I’m still working through what I think about it.
Now the task of Christian parents, when it comes to worldliness (to lapse for a moment into the biblical terminology for this), is to communicate a sense of disenchantment, not just disapproval. Don’t take this wrong — disapproval should be a base-line given, and it should be there and functioning. But that is not where the action is. Our task is demythologizing what the world is doing, not shaking a censorious finger at it.
It is like explaining a magic trick. When a child sees an illusionist doing something remarkable, he is amazed. But if someone explains in detail how the trick is accomplished, where all the wires are, it will no longer be possible for him not to see the trick.
When Christians sell books and preach sermons encouraging non-married people to embrace their “singleness” as a blessing, we are promoting the destructive effects of the sexual revolution. “Singleness” as we conceive of it in our culture is not the will of God at all. It is representative of a deeply fragmented society. Singleness in America typically means a lack of kinship connectedness. This was not the case, for example, with Jesus who was not married. He never lived alone. He went from the family home to a group of twelve close friends who shared daily life with him until he died (followers who would have never left off following him). His mother and brothers were also still involved in his life and are often mentioned. Jesus’ mother was there at his darkest hour when he died. In contrast, singleness in America often refers to a person who lives alone or in non-permanent, non-kinship relationships.
"Zero evidence for any miraculous resurrection." That’s quite an absolutist statement you’ve got there, one that virtually nobody is prepared to defend with any degree of intellectual honesty. I’ll accept that you believe the evidence is insufficient, but denying the existence of any evidence whatsoever is pretty rich.
And you criticize Christians for their certainty… I’d say some epistemological humility is in order here.