Authority vs. Empathy

October 26, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Q&A, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 5 Comments
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Question: People always use that same Bible verse when saying homosexuality is a sin. Is that the only place that addresses the topic? What is the context of it? Having memorized the 10 Commandments in Catholic school, I know they don’t address homosexuality. I don’t think homosexuality should be called sinful because I empathize with people who aren’t hurting anyone. I understand that for a gay man the thought of being with a woman is disgusting, and that, for him, being with a man feels normal. So what should a gay person do? And when gay people fall in love and have sex what do you think will happen to them?

Response: You say: “People always use that same Bible verse when saying homosexuality is a sin.” I’m not sure what people you’re referring to who always use the same verse. There tends to be a big difference between real-life face-to-face discussion and internet polemics, but I’m assuming you mean Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. I’m only assuming that because you listed some of the other things that Leviticus elsewhere prohibits, which have to do with clothing and unclean foods and tattoos and beard-grooming and so forth. As I stated before, dietary, grooming, clothing, and things having to do with hygiene and tabernacle worship were specific as to time and place and location. The moral laws – against things like lying and stealing and cheating and adultery and fornication (including homosexual activity) and bestiality and incest and dishonoring your parents and murder – were of a different nature, and are reiterated as being sinful in the New Testament. Romans 1:20-32 are especially graphic and clear on this topic, along with I Corinthians 6:9-10. Anyway, those are some, but not all, of the passages that address the topic – which was one of your questions – so I hope that helps. But I can elaborate more if you’d like.

You say: “Having memorized the 10 Commandments in Catholic school, I know they don’t address homosexuality.” Actually the 7th Commandment (prohibiting adultery) does. The Bible’s definition of adultery would include having sex with anyone outside of your own marriage, and the Bible’s definition of marriage is what people are now calling “traditional marriage.” In other words, people of opposite genders – you know, male husband and female wife (readers are free to hurl epithets such as bigot and Bible-thumper at me for saying that, but that is what the Bible teaches). Your Catholic school teachers – sorry to be critical of them when they’re not here to defend themselves – may have taught the 10 Commandments merely as a list of rules to follow, which is a common mistake, rather than as a mirror in which we can look and see how truly wicked we are, despite our smug feelings about our own goodness, so that we can then humble ourselves before our kind and loving Maker and admit we need His Son. And that is a great segue into another one of your questions!

You say: “So what should a gay person do? And when gay people fall in love and have sex what do you think will happen to them?” That question is begging me to be all “preachy,” which people typically can’t stand, especially when I’m not in their shoes, but, since you asked, I’ll tell what the Bible says about it. A gay person who truly repents and trusts and receives the Savior, is “born again” (John 3:3-7). The Bible describes this in different ways. It means an “ontological” change – a change in the essence of who you are on the inside. You get a new “heart” (Ezekiel 36:26). It makes you a “new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). You no longer love sin more than God. The sinful stuff you used to love, you begin to hate. You still struggle with desires and sinful tendencies but now God’s Spirit will live in you, and will remind you of the love of Jesus who shed His blood for your soul, and you will want to please Him more than satisfy those desires and tendencies, and they will be replaced by new passions. Some people fake it for money or parental approval or whatever, but Jesus – the only One ever to get up from the dead by His Own power – certainly has the power to transform a kleptomaniac, a heroin addict, a compulsive liar, a prideful jerk, a Satan-worshiper, a womanizing sleazebag, a person who likes to have gay sex, someone who self-righteously thinks he’s a good person – even IRS agents, lawyers, and those awful Westboro fake-Baptists!

One more thing. You say: “I empathize with people who aren’t hurting anyone.” I think by this you mean that your own personal moral compass points to murderers and thieves as being “bad” because their sins hurt others, but that gay people aren’t hurting anyone by having gay sex, so your personal moral compass departs from God’s right around that point? Tell me if I’m wrong, I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I hear that line of thinking a lot. It sounds good – except: all sinners – all those who break God’s moral laws – are hurting someone. They are hurting the very God who is causing their hearts to beat, Who gave them life, Who is giving us air and food and water and children and families and friends and jobs and homes and brains that could be used to glorify Him rather than defy Him, and Who proved His love by giving up His Son for the people who hated Him. I know it sounds mean, and I know that few people will want to hear it, but no one has ever been kinder to us than Jesus. If He forbids us some things, even if we don’t fully understand why, and if He promises to change us so that we don’t want those things any more anyway, and if He’s really in charge of eternity – which He demonstrated by rising from the grave – then it is perfectly reasonable and right to do what He says.

Returning to Holiness

October 29, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Ezra | 3 Comments
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God made Artaxerxes grant Ezra great authority.

I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and [of] his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee.

Ezra 7:13

The first group of returning exiles, under Zerubbabel, was 50,000. Ezra’s group was 1500 men, plus women and children. The success of a ministry is not numbers. It’s the work of God being accomplished. It’s the lives of people being changed. Most of all, though, it’s the Word of God being obeyed.

God even forced Artaxerxes to fund the mission.

And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,

Ezra 7:15

And I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which are beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily,

Ezra 7:21

Ezra recruited exiles. Let’s not forget to reach out to exiled believers, as well as lost folks. Once these recruits got together, they did not rush out on their own. They humbled themselves and prayed.

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before our God, to seek of him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.

Ezra 8:21

Like Abraham’s servant when he went to find Isaac’s bride, they understood the importance of seeking God’s favor, and God was with them.

They arrived.

Then we departed from the river of Ahava on the twelfth [day] of the first month, to go unto Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was upon us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy, and of such as lay in wait by the way.

Ezra 8:31

They gave an accounting.

By number and by weight of every one: and all the weight was written at that time.

Ezra 8:34

They worshiped.

Also the children of those that had been carried away, which were come out of the captivity, offered burnt offerings unto the God of Israel, twelve bullocks for all Israel, ninety and six rams, seventy and seven lambs, twelve he goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering unto the LORD.

Ezra 8:35

There was no lamenting for the “good old days” like in Ezra 3:12.

They obtained clearance from the civil authorities.

And they delivered the king’s commissions unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors on this side the river: and they furthered the people, and the house of God.
Ezra 8:36

In Chapter 9 we see a major problem with the people as they returned from exile. They were used to living an unholy life.

For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

Leviticus 11:44-45

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

Leviticus 19:2

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus 20:7

And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.

Leviticus 20:26

Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.

Leviticus 21:8

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

I Peter 1:15-16

Why should Christians live a holy life? I can give you many reasons, but the main reason is: because God has commanded it. At least eight times in Scripture Gods says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” And he is primarily talking to believers. Believers should not look, think, talk, and act like the sinful world, because sinful things and sinful ways are not holy, and God says, “Be ye holy.”

Born Which Way?

February 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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If you claim to be a Christian, how do you answer this question: “Are some people born gay?” Shockingly, more and more professing Christians these days are starting to answer that question in the affirmative. How can this be? Here are some of the foolish reasons that I have heard professing Christians use to support the belief that some people are born to be homosexuals:

1. “I have a gay brother/sister/cousin/parent/child/close friend/loved one/family member, etc., and I know this person really well, and he/she is a good person, and I can promise you, he/she did not ‘CHOOSE’ to be gay.”
2. “Gay people are persecuted and ridiculed and bullied into committing suicide. Why in the world would anyone ‘CHOOSE’ to be gay?!”
3. “People like Ellen and Elton and Rosie and [insert famous gay-celebrity-of-the-week here] are all gay and they are really brave and stand up for what they believe and they give lots of money to good causes and they are very famous and talented, so if they say they – and others – are born gay, they have to be right.”

Now, these statements are indicative of the type of unbiblical, irrational thinking you would expect from non-Christians. But, if you are a Christian, presumably you believe the Bible is right even if it contradicts the opinions of the people you love or the really popular famous people or even your own “common sense” ideas. So, at the risk of sounding like an old-fashioned, draconian fundamentalist, let’s actually look at what the Bible – God’s perfect, inerrant, infallible, inspired Word – has to say about homosexuality and those who practice it:

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Leviticus 18:22

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Leviticus 20:13

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

I Corinthians 6:9, emphasis added

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Romans 1:26-27

Wow. I suppose God could place a stamp on the forehead of every child who comes forth out of his or her mother’s womb that says, “I was not created by God to be a homosexual.” But I don’t think even that would be as clear as the Verses cited above. God considers all human sexual relations – except for those between a male husband and female wife within their own marriage – to be sinful. Sexual relations outside of a real God-recognized marriage are called adultery and fornication. He considers sexual relations between people of the same gender to be sinful abominations. He created marriage and He defined it. There is no such thing as “same-sex marriage.” He hates the sin of homosexuality. God cannot sin. He is not the author of sin. He has never made a human being who can or could legitimately blame God for “making” him or her a homosexual. It’s just that clear.

I am aware that there have been some people recently in the professing Christian church who would try to twist the Scriptures and claim that God is not clear about homosexuality, but you don’t have to “interpret” those Verses to get the point. You just have to read them. Any argument that says that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality is what the theologian R.C. Sproul calls “an exegesis of desperation.” It is disingenuous and it is not rational.

As human beings we have inherited a sinful nature from our forefather, Adam – the first man to sin against God (Romans 5:12). Therefore, we have a predisposition to sin – each and every one of us. So from our first moments of willful consciousness we begin doing things like lying and stealing and being greedy and being disobedient and being selfish. And some people go on to be things like extortioners and kidnappers and child molesters and arsonists and murderers and rapists and practitioners of homosexuality. In that sense only can anyone be said to have been “born gay.”

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Psalm 51:5

We are born with a predisposition to sin, but we “choose” every sin we commit, just like the gay person “chooses” to commit or fantasize about acts of homosexuality. It’s not an “alternative lifestyle.” It’s not a “celebration of diversity.” It’s not a “right.” It’s a choice and it’s a sin. Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for those who commit it and other sins. You can be forgiven for it and set free from it, if you repent and trust in Him, believing the Gospel.

If you are a Christian, you are not doing anyone a favor by “supporting” a gay celebrity or trying to justify the sin of homosexuality. If you love gay people – and all Christians are commanded to love gay people and all sinners – then you must tell the Truth. Lying to sinners about their sin is one of the worst kinds of hatred.

I realize that you may not be used to this type of plain speaking. It probably sounds “intolerant” to you. But if you believe that some people are “born gay,” then you have no logical grounds for being critical of my intolerance. After all, if our genetic make-up is to blame for our sin, then why couldn’t Jeffrey Dahmer have been “born a serial killer?” Why couldn’t Hitler have been “born a mass murderer?” Why couldn’t Bin Laden have been “born a terrorist?” And how do you know that I wasn’t “born intolerant of gay people?” If you’re tempted to excuse or support sin, at least try to be consistent. But if we claim to be Christians, we are far better off getting our opinions from God than from a daytime TV talk-show host.

Professing Atheists Conveniently Pick and Choose Their Own “Morality”

March 2, 2009 at 10:16 am | Posted in ProfessingAtheists | 3 Comments
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Professing Atheist: Judges 19 vv22-25 seems a little misogynistic and immoral.

Christian: Whether it SEEMS a little immoral or whether it SEEMS horrific, is irrelevant. Judges 19 is in the Bible not as an example of condoned behavior, but partly to show the atrocities that occur when men gauge right and wrong by what “seems” right or wrong, instead of what God says in His holy Word.

Professing Atheist: What about God’s own behaviour in Numbers 15 vv35-36, and pretty much everywhere in Leviticus 20? Do you think God’s Word, as revealed in these passages, is moral? I go shopping on Sundays. Would you stone me to death for that, as God unambiguously commands you to do? If not, why not?

Christian: The whole idea you have of fitting Scripture into your own “culture” or your own ideas of morality is partly where you are missing the point. The laws found in Leviticus and Numbers were God’s laws for the Jewish people. My opinion of them does not matter, except on a personal level, that I accept what the Bible says about them as absolute truth. New Testament believers are not commanded to stone people who shop on Sunday, or on the Jewish Sabbath for that matter. See Matthew 12:1-8.

You ask me, “Do I ‘think’ God’s laws are moral?” I don’t judge God’s laws. God judges all men. And He judges righteously.

Professing Atheist: Imagine you had been born in twelfth century Sweden. Or in Iran in, say, 1980. Just be honest: in those circumstances, which God do you think you would have ended up believing in? What do your answers tell you about your claim that your God, alone, is the right one?

Christian: God, before He created me, ordained in His perfect will that I would not be born in Iran or Sweden in a different time period. But if He had, I would be without excuse if I failed to acknowledge and worship Him. In the heart of every man, at every place and time, since the beginning of creation, God has placed the idea of eternity, and revelation of Himself. (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Romans 1:19-20)


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