Forum – The Bible and Homosexuality – Part 2

April 30, 2007

Today I would like to look at the claims of the Indianapolis billboard mentioned yesterday. It says, “Jesus affirmed a gay couple,” and cited Matthew 8:5-13. On the Would Jesus Discriminate website, they explain each of their claims. This passage tells of the centurion who went to Jesus to ask him to heal his servant. The Lord spoke the word and the servant was healed. The website claims that the Greek word used for servant, pais, could either mean son or boy, servant, or the type of servant that is his master’s same-sex lover. It also claims that the fact that Jesus healed the servant means that he affirmed a same-sex relationship between these two men.

There are two problems with this argument. Firstly, the article sites two sources to support the argument that pais meant a servant as a homosexual lover. But one book is writing about language used in classical Greek literature, and the other is about Greek myth. The Classical Greek period dated from 490 to 323 B.C., and Greek myth was written down much earlier. The problem is that words change meaning over time. To claim a word from that long before Christ still meant the same thing at the time of his ministry and at the writing of the gospel accounts is a word study fallacy. Take a modern-day example, the word gay. A hundred years ago, gay meant happy. Today it can still mean that, but is not usually used in that way. It is not usually used to mean happy anymore because today the word more often connotates one who is homosexual. The word has changed in its usual meaning.

The second problem involves another word study fallacy. If we assume that the word pais didn’t change its meaning over four hundred years or so, still no evidence is given why it should be read in the way it is claimed to mean. When doing a word study, one must look at the context to determine the proper word meaning if there is more than one possibility. No reason is given as to why homosexual servant should be the favored meaning over boy or (normal) servant, especially because these are the usual meanings of the word. If you are going to use an unusual meaning for a word, there must be evidence from the context that that meaning is the one meant by the writer.


Forum – The Bible and Homosexuality – Part 1

April 29, 2007

In the city of Indianapolis there is a 30-day billboard campaign put on by the pro-homosexual Metropolitan Community Church in partnership with Faith in America. The billboards, posted all over the city, carry messages such as “Jesus affirmed a gay couple,” and include Bible verses that they claim support their points.

This week, I would like to explore the issue of homosexuality and the Bible. I will be looking at the biblical texts that this group and groups like it use to support their stance that homosexuality and Christianity are not in contradiction. I will also look at text that counter these points.

I seek to undergo this task in a serious but dignified manner. I am not afraid to offend people, because I know that regardless of the issue, Christianity is offensive to many. However, I do not set out to deliberately degrade and humiliate. I only seek to present the truth as the Word of God presents it, and in doing so to bring people to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). I hope this discussion is insightful and edifying.

Please feel free to comment. I only ask, for those on either side of the issue, that you show as much dignity and respect as you would like to receive from others.

Barth and Aquinas

April 26, 2007

Karl Barth and Thomas Aquinas were two theologians with two different emphases. Aquinas focused on logic and apologetics as a way to know God. Barth, an existentialist, rejected logic and focused on the spiritual. He saw God as unknowably transcendent. Aquinas was Aristotelian, Barth was Platonic.

When taken in isolation, neither of these views are correct. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” You cannot look at the gospel from a purely logical standpoint. “For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate’ [Isaiah 29:14]. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (v. 19-20).

Still we are commanded to worship God with all of our minds (Matthew 22:37). Throughout his ministry, the apostle Paul reasoned with the Jews and the Greeks (e.g. Acts 17:17). When in Athens he even used the culture, the altar to the unknown God and the poet, to preach the gospel (v. 22-31).

There is a place for reason and logic in a relationship with God. But you will miss God completely if you never look at the spiritual. After all, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). It is the Holy Spirit that guides us into all truth (John 16:13). God uses the Spirit to draw us near to himself. There is nothing physical or this-worldly about it. We must look at the things of God through spiritual eyes, just like you can’t see the wind, but only hear its sound (John 3:8).

But again, if you only look at the unseen (if that can be said), then you will miss what is logical. God then becomes so transcendent that he is unknowable, untouchable and unreachable. But this is not so. The Lord Jesus Christ came so that we can be one with him and one with God. And even before Christ, men of faith like Abraham communed with God and he was called God’s friend (James 2:23). Surely God is not so transcendent as to be unknowable by men. God appeals to our hearing, if only the hearing of our hearts. He appeals to our minds and our logic. He can be found, because we are told to seek and we shall find (Matthew 7:7). Therefore, there must be a balance between our logical and spiritual seekings after God.

All my life I have tended to lean more towards the logical explanation of things, and my writing shows it. Thomas Aquinas spent years of his life working and writing. His great work was his Summa Theologica. Yet it was left unfinished. His reply to the urgings to complete his magnum opus is profound: “I can do no more; such things have been revealed to me that all I have written seems as straw, and I now await the end of my life.” He had finally met the transcendent, and logic no longer mattered.

Moral Permissibility

April 25, 2007

“If God exists man cannot be free. But man is free, therefore God cannot exist. Since God does not exist all things are morally permissible” (Jean-Paul Sartre).

I have heard people use this argument trying to disprove the existence of God. Jean-Paul Sartre made a presupposition here that he did not qualify. He assumes that God’s existence and man’s free will are not compatible with each other. What is the basis for this assumption?

C.S. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain of the dilemma of man’s free will and God’s sovereignty in relation to morality and evil in the world. His conclusion is the opposite of Sartre’s; if God exists then by necessity man must have free will. God would not have created anything but a bunch of robots if he did not give man free will. Because man has free will, he is free to choose right and free to choose wrong and evil. This is why there is evil in the world, not because God is behind it, but because man has free will to choose to do evil. Man has free will to choose to go against God’s moral standards.

Because God exists, the last sentence of Sartre’s statement here is also disqualified. If God exists then by necessity there is a moral right and wrong, and therefore not all things are morally permissible. If God exists, then he created all things within a certain framework of reality. This framework must have certain rules and boundaries, both in the physical realm of the creation itself, and in the spiritual. The spiritual realm must have moral boundaries. This must be true if God exists. And if God exists and moral boundaries exist, then all things are not morally permissible, but certain things are right and certain things are wrong. This is inescapable.

Craving Milk

April 24, 2007

“Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (2 Peter 2:2-3).

As the mother of a one-month-old, this verse has new meaning. Every time baby Jane wakes up, she cries for milk. She needs to be fed, and enjoys being fed.

It reminds me of when I was a brand new Christian. I couldn’t get enough of the Word of God. I would read and read and pray and worship and never got tired of the Lord’s presence. I craved it every time I woke up, and never wanted to go to sleep without it. Even in my sleep the Lord was there, and still is to this day.

Do you crave the Lord in such a way? Do you hunger and thirst for him at every waking? Do you long for him throughout the day? Do you go to bed in his presence, and always satisfied after a day dwelling there? Do you want to?

Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Consistency in the Vine

April 23, 2007

In The Root of the Righteous, A.W. Tozer writes a chapter about the encroaching jungle. He points out that you can put all sorts of work into clearing the jungle and planting a field, but that if you leave that field to itself for just a couple of years, the jungle will overcome the cleared land and take over once again.

The same is true of the Christian life. A lot of sweat and tears, prayers and loss of sleep goes into sanctification. It is a mighty work of God to be made holy by the work of Christ Jesus our Lord. The surrendered life is a radical transformation compared to the sinful nature of the old self. But if the holy, sanctified, blameless Christian takes their eyes off the Lord for only a minute, the jungle of the flesh starts to grow back and take root in that life. Just as the field must be continually tended in order to bear fruit, such is the Christian life. It does not take much time away from the Lord at all for that life to return to the wild, jungle state.

Thus it is essential to be consistent in the Christian walk. “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). To remain in Christ is to remain in the cleared, fruitful field; to depart from him is for you to allow the jungle to take over again and conquer your life. So abide in the Vine, and live. Apart from him, you can do nothing; you can bear no fruit in your life alone.

Jesus IS Lord

April 22, 2007

This baffles me. Why would a supposedly Christian church be ashamed to use the word LORD in relation to God and Jesus Christ? “‘Lord’ has become a loaded word conveying hierarchical power over things” someone says in this article. Isn’t that the position that the God of the universe holds? Forgive my slang, but duh. God is Lord over all things, king of all things, in control of all things. Why should the church be ashamed to say it? “Our service has done everything it can to get rid of power imagery,” one deacon says. How dare you downplay the power of God.

They claim that they want to focus on God’s love, but at the expense of taking away all of God’s other attributes. There is no justice or wrath or holiness. Only a sugary love that turns God’s character one-dimensional. He (yes, HE) is turned into a fluffy fairy. I would like to echo the words of Pastor Mark Roessler in this article: “If we continue to water down and make ourselves politically correct, there won’t be anything left. God is the king of the universe. We are to bow before him. He is king, savior, Lord and master. … God is the great patriarch of heaven and Earth.”

11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:11-16).

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13).

11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11-16).

It’s pretty clear that God is Lord of all, and is above all things. We had better start worshipping him for who he really is, for he is worthy. We had better start fearing God and gaining wisdom and knowledge of him. Above all, the church must not be ashamed of the One it claims to worship.

This is also a good reminder, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).

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