Tag Archives: Homosexuality

Can Christians Speak Truth to the Culture?

Q. What happens when human society abandons the idea that a human ought to relate personally to a god who has authority over him?
A. The society becomes secular.
Q. Then how do we ever know what is right and what is wrong?
A. Who cares?

In the newly-released book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a culture redefining sex, marriage, & the very meaning of right and wrong, R. Albert Mohler chronicles what has happened in US culture over the past sixty years, leading to the decision to legalize same-sex marriage, and the questions and answers above sum up the change he describes. Mohler compares the impact of the changes in the culture to the aftermath of a direct hurricane hit. I was reminded of recent photos from Long Island in the Bahamas after Hurricane Joaquin; among those images I saw an interisland supply vessel grounded a half mile from the ocean. That hopeless image might represent confessing Christians and their churches in the aftermath of a morality revolution.

Mohler attributes the moral and ethical upheaval to the rise of secularism, which is all about rejecting any notion of God, let alone belief in him. It is also very much about demolishing any evidence that anyone ever accepted a non-human authority in human  affairs. A moral revolution parallels a sexual revolution that has brought about the normalization of abortion and homosexuality as well as a rejection of monogamy as a standard for any sexual relationships. This moral and ethical juggernaut has cut a broad swath in the culture, crushing and reshaping all notions of human gender, sexual orientation, family, and marriage.

If you feel utterly blindsided by the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage, if you can’t figure out how churches can simultaneously refuse to conduct same-sex weddings and invite homosexuals into the congregation, if you don’t know what to tell your children when they come home with instructions to ask people their preferred gender pronoun before addressing them, this book will help you. You won’t necessarily be comforted, and you may even be jolted by some of the author’s recommendations. If you believe that the Bible is true and that the plain meaning of Scripture is its true meaning, you will feel confirmed in that understanding, but the author may not build on that foundation in a way that feels good to you.

I recommend this book for confessing Christians who struggle to understand what happened to the world they knew a mere ten years ago, especially if they want to find a Christlike way to deal with those changes.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Naming Sin is Judgment that is Intended to Call Sinners to God

There is a lot of pressure in the public forum now for Christians to stop saying that homosexuality is a sin. The word sin apparently has a lot of power in the public eye. Two things about that fact are interesting to contemplate. On the one hand, for something to be a sin, there must be a god against whom one would sin, and fewer and fewer people acknowledge any such entity. On the other hand, since both the idea of a god and the idea of sin are alleged to be myths, why should anyone care what believers of myths say? In other words, if Christians are just a bunch of ignorant myth-believers, who cares if they say that their god teaches that homosexuality is a sin?

The answer is that God has written in the hearts of humans a message of his love and care for them, and he calls them all to relationship with him. When they arrogantly defy his love and reject his authority in their lives, they nonetheless must deal with that message. They are offended every time someone says, “but that’s a sin,” not because they accept the judgment, but rather, because they cannot really escape knowing that the external words mesh with God’s internal message that will not go away night or day. God never stops being the creator and the savior of every human being, and nobody can escape that still, small voice, the voice that is the silence inside a shell of a person who has given everything to Satan. Why do people become addicted to drugs and sex and thievery and vile speech and all the other obsessions that possess people? They succumb to the obsessions, because they believe that something somewhere somehow will finally drown out God’s message: “I love you. Come home.”

Secular thinkers would have us believe that unborn babies are not human and that they can be treated like trash, because they do not want to acknowledge that even in the womb, God is saying to the babies, “I love you. Come home.” They rip a baby out of the womb and dismember it the way a pack of hyenas might share in feasting on a gazelle, and they do not want to think that there is any consequence to the death of that tiny human being. They must believe that if they do it often enough they will stop hearing God call to them, “I love you. Come home.”

Yesterday I wrote about the fact that lust and homosexuality are equally sinful, and some readers may have felt I was being terribly judgmental. Please recognize that I have no authority or right to judge anyone. I am a sinner, too. I deal with sin every day. I suffer temptation, and I succumb to sinful desires or to sinful attitudes or to sinful obsessions just as anyone else does. Every day. When I identify lust and homosexuality as sin, I am using my head to read the Bible and opening my heart to listen to God’s guidance to help me understand the words. I am not the judge. God is. What the culture wants is for God to evolve along with human beings. The culture wants God to get on the right side of history and stop being so hateful about sin. Why do they act this way? They may say that they are mad at me for trying to be judge and jury by calling homosexuality a sin, but they are really trying to drown out God’s message inside each of them, “I love you. Come home.”

That is the real message of the Bible. When God points out our sins and shines his light on them so we cannot fail to see them, it is not for our destruction. God does not tell us about the punishment for sin in order to crush us. He does it in yet another attempt to help us stop covering our ears when he calls out, “I love you. Come home.”

Ancient Israel was no different from twenty-first century USA. The people liked sex in a thousand different forms. They did not like God’s expectation that they would enjoy sex in faithful marriages of one man and one woman as he had ordained at creation. They liked to have fun with sex and to experiment and to find out what they liked and then do it night and day with whomever. They were just like the LGBTQ advocates today, scorning all of God’s rules and hating God for presuming to make rules. They behaved with such promiscuity that God grieved deeply.

In the book of Isaiah it is recorded that God mourned what Israel had become, and he must just as surely mourn what the USA has become. He gave Isaiah a message to be written down for ancient Israel, and then by the power of the Holy Spirit, he preserved that message for thousands of years in order that it would be ready for the USA in this age. He said, “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name” (Isaiah 65:1 ESV). God called sin sin in the days of ancient Israel, and he still calls a sin a sin today. He doesn’t do it to harm us; he does it to help us. When we recognize that we are sinners, then we can begin to recognize how much we need him.

In plain language that everyone can see in black and white, God wrote this ancient message that is the same message he writes upon every human being at the moment of conception, a message that every human hears, like it or not, “I love you. Come home.”


Born Sinful


One of the Christian teachings that secularists strongly reject is the teaching that human beings are born sinful. In fact, some secularists have advocated that Family Service agencies find parents guilty of child abuse if they tell their children that they were born sinners. Muslims might also reject this idea, because they teach that the child of a Muslim father is born Muslim.

Right now, there is energetic disputation between the LGBTQ community and Christians who consider homosexuality sinful, because the LGBTQ advocates declare that they were “born that way.” They believe that the fact they were born with gender confusion or with sexual orientation toward their own gender means that God made them that way. (That is, if they believe God is the Creator.) The conversation has in many instances been completely sidetracked from the real issue by the question of whether gender identity or sexual orientation is a congenital trait.

The fact is that this issue can be resolved easily for a Christian. It cannot be easily resolved for people who reject the existence of God and/or the authority of the Bible. Christians know that human beings are fallen, sinful creatures from birth. That means that a person who is attracted to the opposite sex is, nevertheless, a sinner. It also means that a person who is attracted to the same sex is, nevertheless, a sinner. Sexual orientation, a politically contrived term with a politically contrived definition, is irrelevant to the fact that someone is a sinner. Every human being is born sinful. The definition of sin is disobedience to God. A sinner is a person who practices disobedience to God. A sinful person has the trait of being disobedient to God. Every person ever born is born with that trait, regardless of whether that person also has the trait of homosexual orientation. These traits have nothing to do with DNA. They are about human nature, a spiritual quality expressed in the bodily life of a human being.

Some people do wish there were a heritable trait that could explain homosexuality, but no evidence of such a thing has been found. Whether one attributes the design of living things to God or to chance, the way sexuality functions in living things decrees that any organism which acts on a homosexual attraction will not produce progeny and therefore will not pass on any of its traits to any new generation. If a whole generation of organisms were homosexual, the organism would become extinct. Whether one believes that the origin of heterosexual attraction is God’s will or nature’s drive, the fact is that a homosexual organism is the origin of its own demise.

However, the DNA argument is actually irrelevant to the conversation. The energy of the discussion is rooted in the fact that people who claim to be homosexual do not want homosexuality defined as sin. They want homosexuality to be viewed as one of many different sexual orientations, and they want all sexual orientations to be considered normal.

The Bible stands firmly in the path of such a view.

The Bible simply and clearly says that homosexuality is sin. It also says that all people are born sinful. It does not say that every person is born attracted to the same sin. The Bible names many sins, but the root of each of them is the same: rebellion against God. Sinners believe that God has no right to tell them what to do. Sinful people born with a sexual attraction to people of the same sex are no more sinful than people who are born with a propensity to steal anything not nailed down. Both people reject God’s right to tell them that the things they like are sinful. The Bible calls stealing a sin. Adultery and lying are both named sins in the bible. The human race, however, has a history of explaining away these sins and all the others. Homosexuality is no different.

What is the answer, then, for someone born attracted to the same sex? That sin is one of many that shape sinful human nature, and God has an answer for it: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned” (John 3:16-18 ESV).” Despite God’s declaration that homosexuality is sin, he loves people so much that he does not want homosexuals to be destroyed. He wants them to live.

The value of this offer is not restricted to life after death, either. As many sinners saved by grace will attest, it is a great blessing to confess to God that they are sinners and then receive his gracious forgiveness and healing. It is good to let go of sin and live for Jesus. In this life! Here! Now! The sins of a lifetime go away forever when any sinner confesses his sinful nature and receives Christ into his heart. Life in the here and now is better immediately and better thereafter.

Many secular thinkers mistakenly believe that people who tell others about Jesus are trying to bribe them to believe with the promise of heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. Heaven is a wonderful reward for someone who loves and serves Jesus, but it would be endless torment for someone who rejects Jesus. In fact, it has occurred to me that the worst possible thing that could happen to an unrepentant sinner would be for that person to be condemned to live in the heavenly throne room for eternity.

People who advocate for the LGBTQ lifestyle are, according to the Bible, advocating for a life lived in rebellion against God. They want to be justified, because, they say, they are born that way. Recently a young man, openly gay and openly Christian, explained why that argument does not hold water. He said, “As someone who is attracted to the same sex, I assure you, it is not a choice. Rejecting God’s call to repentance and instead embracing sinful desires is a choice.” He is saying that being “born that way” does not excuse the behavior that arises from the sinful desire. How does he dare to make this statement? He was born with the sinful desire, but he has confessed that desire and given it to God. He lives with the battle against homosexual attraction the same way alcoholics live with the battle against alcohol and liars live with the battle to speak truth. He lives with the same battle every human being faces: the battle to accept the sovereignty of God in his life.

This is the real battle. No human being naturally wants anyone or anything to be sovereign over him. Every human being wants to be free to do anything that occurs to him. The fact that humans want freedom is not the root problem, however. The root problem is that people naturally choose to do destructive things. Everything God calls sin is destructive to human beings. God gives humans freedom, and, when they misuse it by choosing death instead of life, he lets them have death. It breaks his heart, but he allows it, because freedom is his gift to them. Only when they use their freedom wisely, choosing to stop listening to self and its self-serving choices, only when they choose to deny self and choose Christ, can he bless them with real life. Everyone is born sinful, but nobody need suffer the destruction of sinful choices. God wants us to use our freedom to choose life. The apostle Paul points out where that choice leads when he writes, “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV). We are all born sinful, but God has beautiful plans for us anyway. All we need to do is to choose to follow Christ, not self.



When in Doubt, What do you Do?

pediatrician with baby edited

A generally accepted principle of Christian living is that when people feel confused about the right thing to do, they should prayerfully look for an answer in the Bible. Christians are taught that the Bible is clear enough for a child to understand important teachings, and there is plenty of evidence of this truth. Christians also discover, as they mature in the faith, that there is depth and complexity in the Bible that baffles people with astronomical IQs. There is plenty of evidence of this truth as well. For this reason, Christians learn to look for mentors to help them prayerfully study the Bible and listen for God’s guidance. It all boils down to a problem: people of faith may or may not agree on the right thing to do in every situation.

Recently a pediatrician, Dr. Vesni Roi, in Michigan was faced with a situation in which she was uncertain what to do. Two lesbian women who live together in a union they call a marriage selected her for the care of a child yet to be born. The article that reports the story does not make it quite clear who would give birth to the baby. The articles do report that after reviewing the credentials of numerous pediatricians, the two women decided to ask Dr. Rio to care for the child.

When the time came for the child’s first visit, six days after birth, the women were told that Dr. Roi had decided not to accept the baby as her patient. She referred them to another pediatrician in the same practice. She explained in a handwritten note to the women that her decision was made after considerable prayer. Her expressed reason for the decision was stated in her note: “I feel that I would not be able to develop the normal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.” While the note never mentions the issue of homosexual union, the two women consider the decision to be a rejection of homosexuality, even though as one of them pointed out, it could not be about the sexual orientation of the baby, since the baby was too young to have expressed any sexual orientation. Since all conversation about the care of a newborn would necessarily take place with the adult (or adults) charged with the care of the child, it makes sense to conclude that, when the doctor referred to the “patient doctor relationship” in her note, she was saying that she did not feel she could have the same relationship with the two women that she would normally have with the parents or guardians of a child in her care.

Why would she feel this way?

Dr. Roi’s bio includes earning an undergraduate degree from Livonia’s Madonna College, a private Catholic school, in 1987. While graduation from a Catholic institution does not necessarily mean that she is Catholic, her behavior suggests strong Christian background. Secular thinkers do not pray through moral and ethical decisions. If it is proper to conclude that her concern about the patient doctor relationship is rooted in the homosexual lifestyle of the two women, it seems highly likely that Catholic teaching of Christian principles for life figured in her choice. No reports consulted as background for this post ventured to say one way or the other.

The central issue appears to be whether a person of faith who engages in the normal Christian practice of praying about a decision is justified in acting on the guidance received that way. Can the culture permit people of faith to act on the guidance they receive through prayer? Or, must the culture suppress the free exercise of religion if it hurts someone’s feelings? The uproar surrounding this story makes it clear that some people believe that nobody has the right to do what Dr. Roi did. Some even appear to believe that there should be a law forbidding Dr. Roi to make such a choice.

While secular thinkers leap from Dr. Roi’s action to allegations of discrimination, that is a very simplistic reaction to the story. Dr. Roi is a person of faith who did what people of faith do. Christianity is not the only faith that turns to prayer for guidance in making decisions, but in the US, it is probably the most visible religion that considers prayer vital to faith. Dr. Roi prayed about her decision.

Since secular thinkers reject the existence of God, they have no use for decisions based on communion with God, but among Christians, this practice is, nevertheless, central to the faith. Sermons, books, seminars, devotional guides and discipleship mentors all teach Christians to pray when they do not know what to do in any situation. Dr. Roi demonstrated that she not only believes in prayer, but she also acts on prayer. Many is the Christian who has, on one occasion or another, expressed regret that, having prayed about a matter, he did not act according to the guidance received. Dr. Roi engaged in prayer according to the full definition of prayer; she asked for guidance, and she listened until she received it.

Dr. Roi is living her faith. That is exactly what the First Amendment to the Constitution is written to protect. The Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” To pray and to act on the guidance received is the free exercise of religion. American citizens all should applaud the fact that the Constitution is working exactly as it should in Dr. Roi’s case.

One more point. The two women who wanted Dr. Roi to care for a baby felt hurt by Dr. Roi’s decision. There is no question that such a thing would hurt anyone’s feelings. However, part of being an adult is learning to deal with hurt feelings. Hurt feelings do not justify tyrannizing a nation. In this case, not only are the hurt feelings not justification for tyranny, but there is also a completely satisfactory solution for the problem. Even though the two women do not get exactly what they wanted, they will get what they need. They were referred to a competent doctor, and their disappointment in not getting their first choice does not justify an attempt to deny free exercise of the faith of a citizen.

The important issue in this story is that citizens of the United States of America have the right to live their faith. If Dr. Roi had alleged that God told her to beat the women or kill the child they care for, nobody would believe that she was exercising her faith. It would be an exercise in madness. However, Dr. Roi simply listened to God in prayer and acted responsibly, not leaving the women without care for the baby but actually making a professional referral to a well-qualified colleague, something she is entitled to do for any reason whatsoever.

May God protect and sustain the freedom he has given each citizen in the USA. May it long remain the land of the free.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: Pediatrician with baby
License: Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 License
Photographer not named

Speaking of Morality

Speaking of Morality

If you enrolled in a class with the title, “English Grammatical Issues in the Twenty-first Century,” you would expect to discuss the fine points of English grammar at the cutting edge of decision-making. You would assume that no time would be spent memorizing parts of speech, because knowing those basic elements of the language would be the barest foundation for discussing the way the language is changing daily. You would likely expect the teacher to promote discussion of the reasons to embrace or reject changes that litter the landscape of daily usage in conversation. You probably would not find it odd if you and your teacher had differences about the way certain changes ought to be handled now and in the future. By leaping into the fray between those who tie themselves in knots trying to avoid using the masculine pronoun when gender is indefinite and those who simply fall into the usage of third person plural for everything, you know that you are in a conversation where people disagree. Yet you would expect to have the conversation and to include every possible nuance of difference over the issue.

A dispute over the right grammatical solution to a cultural problem can be contentious, but even those who advocate that real grammarians ignore the nonsensical attitude of the culture will recognize that the discussion does have more than one side. It would be shocking if a college professor shut down the discussion of one side in order not to offend the advocates for the other side.

Recently, a student enrolled in a class titled “Theory of Ethics,” where he fully expected that classroom discussion would often involve at least two points of view, perhaps more. However, he was completely baffled when the subject of gay rights came up, and the teacher chose not to discuss that subject. The discussion centered on the application of philosophical theories to modern political controversies. At the beginning of the discussion, there was a list of modern controversies on the blackboard: gay rights, gun rights, and the death penalty. The student reported that after discussing gun rights and the death penalty, the teacher erased “gay rights” from the blackboard and said, “We all agree on this.”

The student was disturbed about the refusal to discuss gay rights, and after class, he asked the teacher why she refused to open that discussion. When she responded with her point of view, he explained why he disagreed. Then she asked him if he knew of any homosexuals in the class. This question is ridiculous, because it implies that it makes sense for the student to know such a thing about the people in a group around him. The student did not know one way or the other. At this point, the teacher proceeded to explain that she did not think it was proper to discuss gay rights in the class, because someone in the class might be homosexual and take offense at some points of view. The student was dumbfounded. This teacher asserted that in a college level class on the subject of ethics, it was inappropriate to discuss the various points of view surrounding the contemporary issue of gay rights, because it was possible that someone in the class would be offended by the views that might be expressed in such a discussion.

The student attempted to assert a right as a citizen to hold an opinion in opposition to the opinion of other citizens. The teacher said, “You can have whatever opinions you want but I will tell you right now – in this class homophobic comments, racist comments, sexist comments will not be tolerated,” she said. ‘If you don’t like it, you are more than free to drop this class.” In those words, the teacher asserted that the expression of an opinion in opposition to gay marriage or gay adoption or anything else that is on the agenda of LGBTQ activism constitutes a homophobic comment.

People who express themselves on the subject of homosexuality are frequently called “homophobes.” Even pastors who claim to be Christian have been known to use that word when referring to people who understand the Bible to teach that homosexual behavior is sin. Still, it is shocking to discover that a college professor will not permit discussion of one of the thorny issues of contemporary culture in a class whose title invites exactly that discussion.

It is important to note here that the student who had every right to express his view in the cultural conversation about gay rights did something execrable. He recorded the conversation without telling the professor what he was doing. The student was upset, and he must have suspected what the teacher would say. He apparently turned on his phone as he approached the teacher but did not tell her what he was doing. It does not speak well of the character of someone who would do such a thing. We all feel rightly outraged when we hear that somebody could be spying on our phone conversations or our reading our emails without permission. Likewise, we all feel that we have a right to keep private conversations private. It is not hard to imagine why the student felt that he wanted a record of this conversation, but his concerns do not justify his duplicity. Readers who might have believed he was on the moral high ground in standing strong for biblical teaching about homosexuality will be disturbed and disappointed to read that he made a secret recording of the conversation.

This situation points up the truth that honor and integrity are tough standards. It is hard for any of us to do the right thing in every case. Sometimes we truly cannot sort out the conflicting issues and see what is right. In other cases, we talk ourselves into believing that the wrong we face justifies the wrong we do in self-defense. Nobody can read this student’s mind or search his heart, but he has tainted his testimony for Christ by doing something that demonstrates a lack of integrity. The old saying, “Two wrongs do not make a right,” applies here. It was wrong for the professor to refuse to discuss the ethical issue of gay rights over a fear that someone in the class would be offended, but it was equally wrong for the student to record the conversation without telling the teacher what he was doing.

Some who read this post will wonder why I make such a big deal of the recording. I make a big deal of it, because it plays into the hands of LGBTQ activism for a Christian who takes a moral stand against their agenda to do something that is also immoral, not to mention illegal. It is very hard to be a Christian in today’s culture. The secular view of Christians is that they are harmless when they are inside their worship buildings reading their dusty old Bible and singing stodgy hymns to their imaginary friend in the sky. Secularists do not care what Christians do inside their buildings. It is when we come outside and act on our rights and responsibilities as citizens to speak for high moral standards that the LGBTQ activists take umbrage. That is the place where we must be light and salt as Jesus taught us, and when someone does something such as secretly recording a private conversation, then we undercut our standing to speak of morality.

The men who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution had high regard for the value of religious teaching in a society. In their view, the church was a valuable force in the culture for morality and integrity. They wanted the church to speak and act in the civic debate over any and all issues. In fact, by forbidding the existence of a state church, they hoped to avoid the inevitable pollution of the church’s moral standing by political involvement. They wanted citizens to bring the moral substance of their religious teaching with them into public life to add weight and perspective to civil debate.

If Christians could give their testimonies without the weight of sinful human nature constantly at work in their lives, then it would be simpler. This situation with the student is a real example of the complications that arise when sinful human nature acts with the context of very real outrage at the behavior of a college professor, one person in our culture whom we all expect to uphold the value of free and open discussion. The college professor’s attitude is suspect. The student’s behavior is suspect. It is hard to make a clear statement on the moral issues active in the story. It would certainly be a simpler matter if the student had not complicated the discussion by introducing a distracting issue.

Christians must be vigilant with themselves. Christians who want to participate in the public dialogue on complex social issues must not complicate the discussion by bringing personal baggage into the mix. Christians who want to be leaders in the social discussions must not muddy the waters by introducing issues that give their opponents justification for outrage of their own.

It is a call to a high standard, but then Christ calls Christians to a high standard: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 None of us ever will be that perfect, of course. We can only presume to speak a testimony if our testimony confesses our need for grace and forgiveness. Nevertheless, when we make choices in our lives, we must keep in mind that we have a high calling always to testify to the truth as revealed in Christ, and our behavior must not blemish that testimony or give occasion to anyone to ignore the truth of our words. We are called by God to these discussions. We must respect that calling by living lives of integrity that add weight to our comments rather than distract people from God’s truth.