Tag Archives: biblical teaching

What Makes You Think You Have a Right to say that Something is Wrong?

When was the last time you heard anyone use the word chastened? This word is obviously related to chaste, which is a most unpopular word in today’s daily vocabulary. If you take the time to research all the related words, you will learn some interesting facts. The word chaste means “pure, virtuous,” and most particularly, “never taking part in immoral sexual intercourse.” Thus a young girl, a virgin, would be chaste if she had never engaged in sexual intercourse, while a married woman would be chaste if she only engaged in sexual intercourse with her husband. When that word was in common use, it had a meaning, and the meaning was based on teachings that some sexual behavior was good and some was not.

It is the factors of self-discipline and purity that lead to the related word chastened which opened this conversation. Someone needs to be chastened if that person is unable to discipline self and protect personal purity without assistance. To chasten a person is to apply the pressure, verbally or physically, that will restrain the individual from doing something wrong. When someone does something terribly wrong, or does a wrong thing over and over, it might be appropriate to castigate that person, which is severe scolding or harsh criticism. When someone is castigated his feelings might be hurt, but no physical pain is inflicted. However, if someone is chastised, there might well be a spanking, whipping, lashing or beating involved, and the process is likely repeated often. Verbal chastisement is a little less severe in the heat index for punishments than castigation, but the word chastise is not actually limited to verbal punishment. The use of these words, and their commonly understood meanings grew out of the existence of a cultural acceptance of some standards for behavior that is good and behavior that is evil. At the base, there was broad general agreement that sex outside marriage, lies, murder and theft were all morally wrong.

In every form of the word, there is an element that attempts to restrain bad behavior, and it is that element that shaped the word castrate, a procedure designed to restrain, or actually to prevent, a wayward male from fathering children. This extreme procedure was intended to protect women from behavior that the whole culture of the day believed to be morally unacceptable. Some deeds were good and some were evil.

All these words derive from a single root, castus, meaning “pure,” and some combine with the verb agere meaning “to do.” All these words are about a communal moral concept of purity and the disciplinary words and actions required to sustain the purity or punish the loss of it. Purity and discipline are not popular topics in cultural conversations. In fact, many voices in the culture reprimand parents and churches who express moral standards for children and teens. Those voices declare that it is unreasonable and unfair to expect children and teens to have moral standards, and it is unacceptable for children to be punished when they do wrong.

When biblical teaching is thrown into the mix, the frenzy heightens. The Bible is denigrated, along with everyone who believes it is truth. This is the secular answer to the problem of sin. Secular articles of faith deny that there is such a thing as sin, and because sin does not exist, then children and teens have no obligation to frowzy parents who still live in the Stone Age and chastise children who breach the moral standards of that bygone era. Secular thinkers are busily working toward an era in which the secular state will have ultimate authority over children. Parents will be held back, prevented from teaching and enforcing teachings from the “wrong side of history.”

What becomes of a culture that has no moral standards? When the Supreme Court issued the decision popularly known as Obergfell, the moral standards for sexual behavior were undercut so severely that no further decisions will be required in order to legitimize sodomy, incest, pedophilia or bestiality. In that mix, polygamy pales to insignificance by comparison. As long as the standard is that nobody should feel lonely or hurt, and that any sexual union which ameliorates the loneliness is and ought to be legally recognized as a marriage, what can possibly be considered to be immoral?. In fact, since Obergfell is based on no moral standard whatsoever, murder, theft, vandalism, embezzlement, and business fraud should all be legitimized as well. No standard can be shown to apply when the standard interferes with people and hurts their feelings.

When was the last time you felt chastened? When was the last time you chastened a child or a student. If you can remember that moment, hang on to it. There might never be another one.

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A Homophobe is not Obeying Christ

A recent chapel speaker at Wheaton College said, “Homosexuality is a sin, but so is homophobia.” How true. Homophobia by definition is an irrational fear, hatred or contempt toward homosexuality. Christians who have such fear, hatred or contempt are not living by the teachings of Christ, and their brethren in the faith would do well to counsel with them and pray for them to be healed of such an attitude. To say this, however, does not mean that Christians consider homosexuality to be normal human behavior. It does not mean that Christians have suddenly reinterpreted the Bible. The Bible still says that homosexuality is sin, just as a lot of other behaviors, such as lying, murder and incest are all sins. Above all other things, the Bible says that humans are born with a sinful nature and need to be forgiven and cleansed of sin. Homosexuals, liars, adulterers and abortionists are all guilty of sin and need to be cleansed and forgiven. To say that is neither irrational fear nor contemptuous hatred of homosexuals. It is the truth taught by the Bible, and it applies to every human being.

To equate rejection of homosexuality with homophobia is incorrect. To equate homophobia and the Christian teaching that homosexuality is sin is a mistake. Many people who reject the contention that homosexuality is normal, innate and immutable, do so without feeling antipathy toward people who consider themselves to be homosexual. People who name homosexuality as a sin do not necessarily also feel contempt or hatred for people who claim to be homosexual. Many people who recognize that homosexuality is sin have beloved relatives who are guilty of this sin. They don’t hate their relatives. They don’t refuse to associate with their relatives. They sit down to dinner with their relatives and pray to God for forgiveness and cleansing for all.

People who consider homosexuality to be abnormal and sinful behavior do, however, strongly resist political and social activist efforts to deny them their rights to moral values growing out of Christian convictions. A Christian who calls divorce a sin does not hate divorced people. A Christian who calls murder a sin does not hate murderers. To identify sin and reject it personally is not equivalent to hatred of people enslaved by that sin. Jesus never told us to hate people who commit sin, because that would mean hating everyone. Jesus told us to love people who commit sin.

Jesus did, however, teach that we must not participate in sin. He told his disciples to shun sinful behavior. When Jesus faced down the Pharisees who wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery, he did so while retaining his teaching that adultery is sin. After the Pharisees left, he told the woman, “Sin no more.” He didn’t condone her behavior, even though he stood up for her when self-righteous Pharisees wanted Jesus to participate in their self-worship. If the person brought to his attention had been a homosexual caught in the act, there is no reason to believe that he would have done anything different. In your mind’s eye, just imagine that it was a lesbian, not an adulterous wife, caught in the act with another woman. Almost certainly the Pharisees would have brought both of them forward for judgment and stoning. You can see in your mind’s eye how they would have been silenced when Jesus said, “If you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw a stone.” Then watch in your head as he turns to the two lesbians and says, “Go, and sin no more.” He did not tell the adulterous woman that she needed to do some sort of penance or suffer more to be worthy of his love and forgiveness. He would not have done so for lesbians or gay men, either. Jesus called a forgiven woman to amendment of life, and that is what he would have asked of homosexuals if they were caught in the act.

Christians learn from the Bible that homosexuality is sin, just like theft and murder. In the Bible, Christians learn that sin can be forgiven, because Christ died to take on himself the evil of human sin. They also learn in the Bible that after a person has been forgiven of sin, amendment of life is necessary. Jesus told a story about a demon who was cast out of the person he had possessed. The person was forgiven, but the person did nothing to amend his life or grow in faith. He simply vegetated in his forgiveness. Eventually, the demon wandered back to see what had become of his former slave, and he discovered that the man was just as empty as he had ever been. The demon moved right back in and invited other demons to join him. This story explains why people need to amend their lives after they are forgiven of any sin.

Think about it. What does forgiveness do for a person? It wipes out the misery and the poison that drove sinful behavior in the first place. It does not, however, change the person’s life. A person can be forgiven by the choice of someone else, but a person’s life is only changed when he chooses to change it.

It is this need to make a change, to turn life in a new direction, that sets political and social activists for the LGBT agenda at severe odds with Christian teaching. They reject not only the need for change, but also the possibility of change. They focus on perceived failures of reparative therapy for homosexuals as evidence that homosexuality is innate and immutable. However, amendment of life in the form of converting to a heterosexual orientation might not be possible for a variety of reasons that do not invalidate the need for amendment of life.

The heterosexual person whose sin is adultery may not be able to convert from a person who is attracted to many different people besides a spouse, but that person may be able to convert to a person who does not submit to every attraction. Whether that person can ever fully and finally reject attraction to anyone but the spouse is not the issue, but the need to amend life and stop acting on every attraction is crucial. Christians discover in the Bible that the Holy Spirit, promised to every believer, can work in the life of an individual in many different ways, and one prominent way is to be the power in amendment of life.

The LGBT activists in the linked realms of society and politics reject the possibility, let alone the need, for amendment of homosexual behavior. The underlying reason is not about biology or even psychology. They reject amendment of life, because it is so hard to do that they allege that people ought not to be required to do it. Some do not reject God’s existence, but all reject his right to tell them that they are sinners. If God cannot call them sinners, then there is no need for amendment of life. Homosexuals who claim the name of Christ reject any need to confess to sin in their words, their deeds, or their lifestyle, as regards homosexuality, and having denied that homosexuality is sin, they certainly feel no need to change their lives in any way.

The activists take an additional position that stresses the fabric of a free society. They believe that they are free to advocate their viewpoint, but they reject the right of Christians to advocate their viewpoint. The activists further mount a solid and unyielding assault on political leaders to make laws that embody the LGBT agenda. It isn’t enough that they want it to be illegal to say that homosexuality is a sin; they want it to be illegal to fail to speak in lavish praise of homosexuality.

To this end, they invented the word homophobe. The exact date of the first usage of this word is somewhat in dispute, but there is general agreement that it emerged in the late fifties or early sixties. This word is used to disparage the character of anyone who disagrees with the LGBT agenda. Christians can rightly say that they are not homophobes, because their attitude is neither “irrational” nor “extreme.” The teaching of the Bible that homosexuality is a sin does not make homosexuality any worse than any other sin, and Christians know that everyone is sinful. That is a rational conclusion from the teachings of the Bible.

What’s more, Christian attitudes are not extreme. To be extreme would require aggressive behavior to suppress or destroy other people. Christians do not have that kind of attitude toward homosexuals. They don’t fear homosexuals the way they fear cancer, nor do they find homosexuals disgusting by definition. They simply reject the sin of homosexuality and teach that every sinner, even a homosexual, must repent of sin and amend his or her life. Such a position is neither irrational nor extreme. It is completely within the definition of “free exercise” of religion to permit Christians to live by their values and homosexuals to live by their values.

There are people in the world who become irrational and extreme when anyone disagrees with them. A large number of such people have become social and political activists for the LGBT agenda. That is a shame. A lot of rational, faith-centered Christians would like to talk with them about how we all might live in the USA as free citizens in a nation of laws, not men.

First Steps Out — a Book for Wounded Families

In First Steps Out: How Christians Can Respond to a Loved One’s Struggle with Homosexuality, Christy McFerron has written a powerful book about living the Christian life in a culture that is aggressively anti-Christian. She tells her personal story of the journey through a temptation to homosexuality and back to normal life. She shares her personal testimony of faith and shares what family and friends did that supported her and encouraged her and comforted her through the dark days. This author lays herself bare and invites close examination of her own experience of feeling a homosexual attraction. She explains the spiritual transformation that led her to return to a heterosexual orientation and marriage.

Along the way McFerron addresses the fractures in her family. Her journey was long and painful, and her family suffered with her. Yet both of her parents add their own testimonies at the end of the book, capping off the author’s message of hope and love with their own experiences.

Christy McFerron’s story is riveting. Even more riveting is her biblical teaching as she narrates her own journey from enslavement by a destructive emotional attachment to freedom through the power of the Holy Spirit. Readers will find her parents’ stories equally important. Anyone whose family is faced with the discovery that a loved one is entangled in the lure of homosexuality will be encouraged and enlightened by this book. The author never judges anyone whose journey or choices are different from her own. She shares her story with love and respect for everyone involved, modeling the kind of love Christ himself asked us to give to everyone.

I came to this book looking for help. I wanted to understand what could have motivated my church to declare that the Bible has nothing to say to us about homosexuality, and that the church has nothing to say to people dealing with that temptation. Christy McFerron has reassured me that the Bible has a great deal to say to families, and she has reassured me that there is hope for families fractured by both cultural and political activism in support of declaring homosexuality to be normal human behavior.

While McFerron did not develop any material on the widely publicized idea that homosexuals are “born this way,” her own story demonstrates that it is not the case. Her story is not opinion; it is experience.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants the inside story on homosexuality and who wants to know if there is hope for a family that is shattered by it.

I received this book at no charge for the purpose of writing a review. I was not obligated to provide a favorable review. This review is my own opinion.

Thoughts Toward Sunday

The lectionary readings this week will be Amos 8:4-7, Psalm 113, 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and Luke 16:1-13. I haven’t normally focused on the weekly texts, but this group was arresting.

 The texts for this Sunday’s reading are strongly fitting as a warning against the class envy and class warfare being promoted in current political action. Our president regularly castigates “the rich”and“fat cat CEO’s” and “greedy bankers.” Yet he himself lives like a very greedy showoff with parties and vacations back to back while scorning traditional American values such as hard work, personal integrity, and the ability to prosper in an environment that promotes free enterprise. Our president behaves as if his office is a mandate to destroy American prosperity that grows out of opportunity for all in the name of “spreading the wealth around.” His method for achieving this objective is to abrade the citizens with the notion that people who are poor today would be rich if only the rich had not stolen all the wealth. Any person who understands economics knows what a big lie this is. This week’s lectionary readings completely disassemble such a notion.

 To our president, Amos would say, “Hear this, you that trample on the needy.” Likewise to our congress. The policies and legislation passed by our national leaders have increased the number of “the needy” to record levels. (“Needy” means people living on incomes less than the current legal definition of the poverty level.) Our leaders continue to trample on the needy by pushing more and more people into dependence on government, while simultaneously stealing more and more of the nation’s wealth by oppressive taxation and by policies that make it impossible for free enterprise, the source of employment for everyone, to thrive. Further, our leaders refuse to do the work of government to protect the nation from invasion, choosing rather to encourage an invasion of illegal aliens by the means of a refusal to enforce immigration laws.

 Luke would say that these people are like the faithless manager. This man was accused of abusing the trust of his employer, and as soon as he was called to account, he proceeded to abuse that trust even more. When he ordered all the customers to reduce the amount owed on their bills, he quite literally stole the reduced amount from his employer. He did it to buy friends. Our leaders do the same thing by injecting the DREAM act into a bill to fund our national defense.

 What a perfectly ridiculous joke! To couple funding for defense with legislation that will legitimize the most destructive invasion we have ever experienced is an outrageously obvious attempt to buy friends from among the enemies of our nation’s already battered economy. The government leaders, like the steward who wanted to create a safe haven for himself, are buying votes, just as the “steward” bought friends, from the very people who are poisoning our economy, siphoning off the wealth of our nation to other countries and reducing the number legitimate job opportunities for legitimate citizens. Not to mention the overwhelming difficulty for law enforcement created by burgeoning drug merchandising and human trafficking coupled with the crushing load on American social services expected to serve people who ought to be demanding that their own country do a better job of serving them.

 Paul says that we should pray for people in high positions. He does not say that we should pray for them to continue to oppress us. Rather, we should pray that they will do their work of protecting us from foreign invasion and the work of keeping order domestically that we may be able to live in peace and prosperity.

 Psalm 113 puts it all in perspective. People dare not hope in the government we endure in time and space. This world’s institutions are temporary and broken. We don’t hope in government; we hope in God. We live our lives in relationship with God no matter if we are rich or poor in the time/space sense. We look at our lives in relationship with God, and we are rich. Our gratefulness for the fruits of that relationship enables us and motivates us to be kind and generous to the poor. We trust God to accomplish his sovereign purpose, and therefore, we live lives made righteous by God’s grace, loving and serving our neighbors as citizens of his kingdom.

 In the context of God’s kingdom, self-centered, arrogant, wicked government leaders will ultimately be judged for their failure to serve God and the people. As the proverb says, the wheels of God grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine.