Tag Archives: LGBT activism

Executive Order versus Religious Liberty

This article exposes exactly the problem that results when people who claim to be Christian do not hold a Christian worldview. Read about the issues that arise around the president’s executive order prohibiting what he calls “discrimination” against people who choose non-traditional sexual orientations and gender identities. Read http://news.yahoo.com/obama-lgbt-executive-order-threatens-religious-liberty-advocates-201628842.html.

 

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The Juggernaut Rolls Forward

A couple of years ago, the Cheektowaga Central School District of the state of New York reprimanded a teacher who displayed Bible verses and other material about her Christian faith, and all the material she had displayed was removed from her room. At the same time, a social worker at the high school was permitted to display materials supportive of LGBT political and social activism, such as bumper stickers, the Human Rights Campaign’s “Equal” sign, and other related materials.

The alleged reason for removing Christian materials from the teacher’s room was that they were “offensive” to a student. The teacher pointed out that materials supporting LGBT activism are also “offensive” to some students. The situation was instigated when the school administration received a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation alleging that an anonymous student was offended by the Christian material in the teacher’s classroom. There is no evidence that the complaining student has ever been identified.

The teacher, Joelle Silver, filed a lawsuit claiming that removal of her Christian materials infringed her First Amendment rights to speak of her faith and that the continued display of LGBT materials inside and outside the social worker’s office infringed Ms. Silver’s equal right to display materials that promote her worldview.
Judge Leslie G. Foschio who heard the case ruled that the teacher’s First Amendment rights were not infringed, but that the lawsuit alleging selective enforcement could proceed. Ms. Silver is represented by the American Freedom Law Center, whose founder and senior counsel, Robert Muise, declared that he will definitely carry Ms. Silver’s case forward, rejecting any insinuation that the school was right to pretend that a display of Bible verses and a prayer box was a breach of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

Christians who believe that the Constitution protects the free exercise of faith and who likewise believe that the LGBT agenda is a moral affront to society must make US culture a matter of sincere and fervent prayer. Not only is the school displaying real hostility to the Christian faith, but it is also displaying preference for a moral position that is hostile to the Christian faith. No Christian would advocate hostility toward individuals enslaved by the misconceptions that lead people to believe that they are homosexual, but no Christian would advocate that such individuals should be told that this attitude is normal.

Christians are not hostile to people who think they are homosexual and cannot change, because most people enslaved by sin believe that they cannot change. In fact, most slaves of sin believe that they do not want to change. They want to believe that their way of life is not only just fine, but also probably superior to the lifestyle of boring and ordinary people. Christians are hostile, however, to advocacy for attitudes and behaviors that degrade human beings. Homosexual behavior falls into that category. Murder, theft, and lies fall into that category. Christians reject the behaviors and they reject advocacy for such behavior, but they do not reject the people deluded by the advocacy. People who have bought into the lie that homosexuality is normal are to be pitied just as the person who believes the used car dealer who says, “Have I got a deal for you!” and then foists off a junker that will barely make it out of the dealer’s lot.

It is important for Christians in the USA to be assertive about our rights to speak and live our faith and to do such things in the sight and hearing of others. Christians who want to be able to speak and act must have the personal discipline to be gracious toward people who espouse views in opposition. Christians must never be the ones who attempt to keep other people from expressing their views. Rather, with love and commitment to Christ, Christians must simply ask for what the Constitution guarantees: the right to speak of faith and to live by the principles of faith.

The attitude expressed both by the actions of the school administration and the decision of the judge sound more in keeping with some central Asian “secular” government than with the US Constitution. In Tajikistan, for example, children under 18 may not even be taught about any religion. The government forbids it. Christian parents must be very wise in their choice of words around their own children, lest the children pick up and speak any words that the government forbids. If Christian parents in Tajikistan speak of Christian teachings to children, they can be arrested and jailed. Certainly, in Tajikistan, a teacher who spoke publicly of Christian faith in a classroom would be reprimanded, if not actually arrested. The USA is not Tajikistan, nor do Americans with any wisdom want to be like Tajikistan. Yet the behavior of the Cheektowaga Central School District of the state of New York sounds much more like Tajikistan than like the USA.

The United States has for 238 years been a unique nation. It does not have a state religion, and it prohibits the suppression of any religion. This is the power of the US Constitution. It is not convenient or delightful for Joelle Silver to go to court over her right to display post-it notes with Bible verses on them or to place a prayer box on her desk or her right to mention that she is a Christian with specific beliefs. Lawsuits are not fun. Yet, like the work of police and soldiers to defend what is good from aggression by the forces of evil, Joelle Silver’s lawsuit becomes part of the defense of all that is right and good. When evil attacks good, if nobody defends good, evil wins.

Pray that God will use Joelle Silver’s lawsuit in his work to protect the rights and responsibilities of Christians to be salt and light in a dark world.

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.

Marriage — God’s Truth Has Not Changed

Every day more and more people are lured to believe that secular ideas “make sense” in public life. Every day more and more Christians are lured to believe that they should not “impose” their worldview on other people. One of the ways that goal of secular political activists is achieved is the use of the word equality.

For example, the latest distortion of that word is its use in the campaign to redefine the word marriage. There is a fierce campaign nationwide to change the definition of marriage by using the allure of the word equality to legitimize the change. Activists for the change no longer use the word homosexual or even the word gay in their campaigns. They talk about marriage equality. The basis for this equality is the claim that marriage is a universal human right, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The change in verbiage allows activists for the redefinition of marriage to use an appealing argument. They simply ask, “Don’t you think everyone is equal?” or “Don’t you believe in equal rights for everyone?” or “Do you think people who love each other should be denied equal rights if they want to be married?” Nobody explains when or how marriage ever became a universal human right.

If marriage is a universal human right, then the next step is to examine the meaning of the word marriage. The commonly accepted definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is assaulted on two fronts – legal and religious. Until recently, it was not necessary to have a legal definition of marriage, because people assumed that the word marriage meant the union of a man and a woman. In the past ten years, LGBT political activists have tried to assert that marriage means any union of people who claim to love each other, regardless of the gender of the parties to the union. Further, until recently, Christians assumed that the biblical definition of marriage was the union of a man and a woman. This Biblical teaching is also under assault in more than one Christian denomination. Over the past few years, activists for the LGBT political agenda have actually worked on both the political and the spiritual fronts to achieve their goals. They have had some successes on both fronts.

For example, even though the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has yet to redefine the word marriage, the ELCA does roster homosexuals if they are living in an active homosexual union (there are terms and conditions surrounding this decision, but the bottom line is that active, public homosexuals will be placed in the pulpit in the office of word and sacrament in ELCA churches). This decision required the adoption of a statement on human sexuality that redefined biblical teachings that have stood firm for 2000 years. It is logical to assume that once the roster for clergy is salted with enough active homosexuals, the ELCA will be compelled to redefine marriage as well. The ELCA is not the only denomination to dip a toe into these waters.

On the political front, LGBT political activists have been able to win some legislative battles and pass laws legitimizing gay marriage. Interestingly, when such laws are tested at the polls, voters assert the traditional definition of marriage. Voters consistently reject the notion that the traditional definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is a denial of equality. Voters consistently reject a redefinition of equality as a justification to redefine marriage. Voters say that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. Christians do not consider voters to be authoritative for their theological positions; however, the evidence shows that the preponderance of voters choose the socially traditional definition of marriage just as the preponderance of Christians choose the theologically traditional definition of marriage.

Sadly, anyone who opposes the redefinition of marriage to include homosexual unions is subject to be called a bigot and a homophobe. It may be a shock to Christians when they hear pastors use such words from the pulpit, but it is happening. Many Christians, stunned and dismayed by this state of affairs, have asked when God changed his revelation of truth in the Bible and started saying such things.

The Bible has not changed. Secular thinking has changed. The Bible’s truth does not evolve or change with the times. Secular thinking evolves and changes with the times.

Christians experience both alarm and sadness when their spiritual leaders begin to speak like the political activists in the nightly news. Such things have happened before. In ancient Israel prophets lied to people while claiming to speak for God. In Nazi Germany, Lutheran pastors lied to people while claiming to speak for God. Today in the USA some religious leaders are lying to their congregations while claiming to speak for God.

The secular culture says that the idea that marriage as the union of a man and a woman is old-fashioned. To refuse to define unions of people of the same gender who love each other as marriage is, says the LGBT, an example of unequal treatment. In fact, they assert that heterosexual oppression of minority views is equivalent to racial persecution. The latest thrust in the battle to destroy the traditional definition of marriage is to call the campaign for marriage equality the sexual equivalent of Martin Luther King’s civil rights campaign.

How do Christians even talk with people who are confused by the LGBT political agenda? There are three lines of reasoning that establish marriage as the union of a man and a woman and refute any argument that the union of two homosexuals is a marriage.

The first path ought to be quite acceptable to the secular culture. It doesn’t involve God or the Bible. The history of humankind shows a consistent practice of defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. From the most primitive cultures still in existence today to the most technologically advanced, the union of a man and a woman in marriage is the foundation of the society. Around the world, the union of a man and a woman is surrounded with a universe of religious and legal structures. Vastly more people define marriage as the union of a man and a woman than choose any other definition. Archeologists find artifacts that validate the institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman far back to the dawn of human society. Marriage is a human institution that human beings have valued and protected as long as there have been human beings. The union of a man and a woman is the definition of marriage that has been the foundation of society and the nurturing environment for children. Many variations on that theme have been attempted, but no other variant has been consistently recognized by humans around the world. Marriage is naturally defined by human history and culture as the union of a man and a woman.

Second, the tradition of human societies is based on the biological truth that there is no accommodation in human biology for same-gender sexual expression or for the transmission of genetic predisposition to same-gender sexuality. If the weight of time means anything in this regard, humans have had plenty of time to study and observe if there is any reason to believe that same-gender sex is part of nature’s plan or to find a way to transmit congenital conditions without progeny. Genes that are not transmitted from one generation to the next by reproduction die out. Until now, cultures accepted the guidance of biology along with the natural social appreciation for the outcome of a union of a man and a woman in marriage.

The third path is important for Christians. The teaching of the Bible, God’s revealed truth for the guidance of humankind, demonstrates that God blesses the union of a man and a woman as marriage and rejects any other variant. Students of the Bible can easily find proscriptions of homosexual conduct inside or outside of a committed relationship. There is a whole arsenal of LGBT re-interpretations of these proscriptions that purports to defuse any effort to use old laws and customs to throw stones at the idea of homosexuality. It is not necessary, however, to rely on the negative to demonstrate God’s design for human sexuality. The Bible is filled with positive evidence of God’s blessing of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The images of God’s blessing of this union are not duplicated by imagery of non-heterosexual unions.

In the beginning of the Bible, at the beginning of time, God created humankind male and female. When he created the first man, Adam, Adam was alone. To alleviate that loneliness, God created the first woman, Eve. God blessed that union and it was the union of man and woman throughout the Bible that God blessed with his promises and with children. This union is so powerful and so good for people that God uses it as the model of his relationship with people throughout the Bible. Every time God speaks of his relationship with the people of Israel or with the church, he speaks of himself as the husband or the bridegroom. God speaks of the nation or the church as the bride.In the book of Revelation the marriage feast of male bridegroom and female bride is the celebration of God’s eternal victory over evil and the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth. Male and female. Man and woman. This revelation is positive and power-packed. Bible students who recognize the sexual power embodied in the relationship between a man and a woman will also recognize what God is saying about the power of a human relationship with him.

What should Christians conclude from Bible study? God blesses marriage, the union of a man and a woman. No other union is equal to that union. Political activism notwithstanding, inventing the idea that every sort of union is the same as marriage is not truth, and defining marriage as only one kind of union, the union of a man and a woman, is not inequality.

Christians who fervently believe the Bible feel bombarded when the LGBT agenda is adopted by political leaders, but they feel deeply betrayed when their spiritual leaders join in. They need to remember that the Bible does not evolve or change with the times. This sort of thing has happened before. The Bible itself records the fact that some people will garb themselves as spiritual leaders while actually speaking and acting in collaboration with evil agendas. Christians must not believe lies, even when pastors speak them. During the years of Nazi power in Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others spoke out against the state church of Germany because its leaders had thrown in their lot with the Nazis. Christians in the USA who believe the Bible rather than politics may find themselves as thoroughly maligned by their church leaders as Bonhoeffer was. Worry not. The God “who is and who was and who is to come” has not changed his eternal truth, and he will bless and strengthen those who hold his truth fast.