More On Homosexuality And So-Called “Same-Sex Marriage”

This past Sunday I promised I would write at least three additional articles on these issues, continuing to think them through. Wednesday’s Between Sundays was the first of those articles.

Unfortunately, due to other pressing concerns this week, I have run out of time to commit to writing the other two articles well. So, rather than provide second-rate writing (and thinking), I am going to point you to five articles I read as I prepared for the sermon, to keep your thinking and conversating going.

Jonathan Parnell writes about the shifting definition of tolerance, which fundamentally alters the way these issues are discussed in the public square. In part:

Old tolerance — that is, before the onslaught of postmodernism — defines the concept as to “accept the existence of different views.” New tolerance, however, defines tolerance as to “accept different views.” More than just accepting a view’s existence, new tolerance adds that you’d better not say it’s wrong either. New tolerance demands that we consider every opinion to be equally valid. The only wrong is to say that everything’s not right. Just wait, it gets more complicated…..Continue Reading

I argued Sunday that we must move into conversations about these issues in love. But that doesn’t mean we should sacrifice truth, firmness, and boldness. For the end-game in our culture is not merely a re-definition of marriage, it is that all people must approve of the re-definition, or suffer the consequences. Pastor John Piper writes that “There Is No Demilitarized Zone In The Issue Of Homosexuality.”

I am sure many of us have read, with great interest, the storm surrounding the comments of Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy. Trevin Wax winsomely explains “Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus”:

Though I’m weary of our culture’s tendency to politicize everything, I believe this Chick-fil-A boycott has revealed some fault lines in our culture that will lead to increasing pressure upon Christians who uphold the sexual ethic described in the New Testament. Furthermore, in listening to the mayors of Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco, it’s clear to me that – political posturing aside – this discussion may not be about the alleged homophobia of Chick-fil-A’s president but the actual Christophobia of the leaders of the cultural elite….Continue Reading..

One of the temptations in fighting, winsomely and lovingly, for truth is to give up and give in; to opt out, because such labors make us weary. In an excellent essay from Denny Burke, he exhorts us: Don’t opt out and hide in the basement during the debate!…Continue Reading..

And finally, what of the freedoms promised in the Bill of Rights? Remember that one the authors called “the free exercise” of religion? Ross Douthat, a writer for The New York Times, writes:

…there seems to be a great deal of confusion about this point in the Western leadership class today.

You can see this confusion at work in the Obama White House’s own Department of Health and Human Services, which created a religious exemption to its mandate requiring employers to pay for contraception, sterilization and the days-after pill that covers only churches, and treats religious hospitals, schools and charities as purely secular operations. The defenders of the H.H.S. mandate note that it protects freedom of worship, which indeed it does. But a genuine free exercise of religion, not so much….

Now we have the great Chick-fil-A imbroglio, in which mayors and an alderman in several American cities threatened to prevent the delicious chicken chain from opening new outlets because its Christian president told an interviewer that he supports “the biblical definition of the family unit.” Their conceit seemed to be that the religious liberties afforded to congregations (no official, to my knowledge, has threatened to close down any Chicago churches) do not extend to religious businessmen. Or alternatively, it was that while a businessman may have the right to his private beliefs, the local zoning committee has veto power over how those beliefs are exercised and expressed…..Continue Reading..

I invite you to continue the discussion this Sunday after our worship service at Calvary Community Church. And, lunch will be on us.

How Can We Help Those Suffering From A Homosexual Orientation?

The sermon from Sunday, August 26, at Calvary Community Church:

Sermon Summary:

“We are facing one of the largest cultural shifts in the history of civilization, effecting nearly every aspect of our culture. Which raises a critical question: What is the biblical response to those suffering from a homosexual orientation?”

Click For Sermon Manuscript

Between Sundays

“Between Sundays” is a weekly e-letter written mainly for the people of Calvary Community Church, but that I hope will be a blessing to the wider readership of this little blog.

This last Sunday, we wrapped up our mini-series in Luke 4 called Tempted and Tried. Before we move on in the Gospel according to Luke, we are going to pause to consider God’s Word on another issue. We are going to take a Sunday to hear from God on the issue of homosexuality and marriage.

This issue is currently affecting every area of our culture: our judicial system, our government, our schools, our community, our politics, our neighborhoods, our businesses, our families, our friends, and our religious institutions. If you are reading this, I can’t imagine that you haven’t been touched by the issue of homosexuality and marriage in some way.

Further, it is an issue surrounded by controversy. It is uncomfortable to talk about. Conversations are riddled with words like “hate,” “bigot,” and “discrimination” (along with many other words I can’t use here). Discussions are filled with strong emotions – anger, hurts, sorrows, despair, arrogance, and unkindness. Stark lines have been drawn.

So, one might ask, given all of that, why would we spend a Sunday morning broaching such a topic? I have a one-word answer.

Love.

As I have read the articles you’ve been reading…As I have watched the stories unfold that you’ve been watching unfold…As I have considered the people of our congregation, doing their best to function in the culture as it wrestles painfully with this issue…As I bike and run through and live in this community of ours, and rub shoulders with its citizens…my heart has been enlarged with love. And that love is a mercy of God.

So, I will preach on this because I love our church.

I want to help you understand how God thinks about homosexuality and marriage. I hope that I may be able to speak clearly, on behalf of God, to those who may be struggling in our midst with same-sex desires. I want to help all of you understand the way he thinks about these things. And, very importantly, I want you to be clear on how you are supposed to talk about it. Namely, because of love and in love.

Paul, writing to his spiritual son Timothy about important issues of doctrine and the truth, said this:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:5-7)

Yes, we must speak clearly about what God says. But the aim of that charge is love. Yes, we must speak boldly about what God says. But also lovingly, gently, without quarreling, and with perfect courtesy. (Titus 3:2)

I will preach on this because I love the people of our community.

My preaching will be to equip you to be light in our community. Maybe some will even come this Sunday because they hear of the topic. And I want them to know, directly or through you – not what I think, or what Calvary as a church thinks – I want them to know what God thinks.

Namely, I believe with all my heart that what we find in the Bible are the very words of God, defining exactly the way things ought to be, to the end that we enjoy a rich and satisfying life. And I believe that to stand silently by, while the culture slips into massive confusion about homosexuality and marriage, leading to so much pain and damage, is not loving. We do not, bound by love, have the option to opt out of this discussion.

Now, I am not so naive to think that I, or we, will always be understood. I know that when I say this is loving, many in our community will disagree. They will say that my, that our, speech is not loving. But friends, we have been given the words of life. We have been given words of truth. We must speak them in love.

So I invite you to come this Sunday. I invite you to pray right now that God will prepare your heart to hear what the Spirit is saying.

And I invite you to pray for me, many times each day the rest of this week, that on Sunday I will be clear, loving, and honoring to God’s truth and the Gospel as we explore a difficult and sensitive subject.

The Temptation Of The Righteous, part 3

The final temptation of Satan – and maybe the most deadly – is to get us to doubt God’s care and challenge our trust in him because of our circumstances. How do we keep from testing God? (and what does that even mean?)

For further study in groups, discussion questions are available.

The Temptation Of The Righteous (Deux)

Sermon Summary:

We want power. To decide what is best. To define the course of our lives. To allow our desires to rule. And Satan knows that even better than you do. So, friend, it is exactly at the point of your desires that Satan will strike. But the solution is not to decrease your desires, but instead to shift the object of their attention. To fight the devil, you need the expulsive power of a new affection.

And, for further discussion, check out these questions.

 

The Temptation Of The Righteous

In the temptation of Jesus, we find the model for how to respond to Satan’s ploys. And the story beckons, “See how you should live.” But therein lies the rub, we can’t live this way. So, what now?

In The Beginning (Part Deux)

Our experience tells us that things are not the way they ought to be. We suffer the withering effects of fallenness and sin. Why? And what should our response be? We need to go back to the beginning.