It’s Time to Start Judging
By now most people would have seen this news item of interest: “NZ priest marries boyfriend”. According to the press accounts, the Kiwi priest wed his male lover in a London church. After the ceremony a champagne reception was held.
The rector who married the couple said this about the affair: “I certainly didn’t do it to defy anyone. I have done what I believe is right.” Presumably they will live happily ever after. Thus ends another chapter in a world turned upside down.
The really unfortunate thing about all this is that to many, this is just another ho-hum affair. The papers are full of such stories, and it seems that this is the way life is, and we just move on, not getting too excited about anything. Of course not all that long ago such a story would have caused quite a stir indeed.
But today we are guilty of “defining deviancy downwards” as the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan once put it. Contemporary society is so overloaded with the bizarre, the immoral, and the deviant, that the only way we can cope is to redefine what is normal and what is abnormal.
What was shocking yesterday is simply ho-hum today. Nothing offends us anymore. Indeed, we are not allowed to be offended anymore. We must at all costs be tolerant: tolerant of everyone, everything, and every lifestyle. (Of course there is one thing we are still to be intolerant of: biblical Christians. But that is another story.)
We have been so indoctrinated into thinking that to judge another person is the greatest vice around, that we are willing to put up with all sorts of nonsense. Better to allow any and every behaviour and idiotic idea, than to be seen to be intolerant and judgmental.
So the old virtue of discernment, of judgment, of moral evaluation has been completely jettisoned from modern society. Yet it seems to me that a strong case can be made for reintroducing a bit of judgment into our world. It may be the best thing to offer a world which has lost its moral centre and is in a moral freefall.
At least one other commentator feels this way. Frank Turek had a recent opinion piece in which he said we have a moral obligation to judge. And like myself, he is quite amazed at the fact that often the ones most loudly shouting that we should not judge are those calling themselves Christians – people who should know better.
Turek gets plenty of people writing to him or emailing him, chewing him out in the strongest – and most judgmental of terms – telling him how wrong he is to judge. I know exactly what he is going through. On a regular basis I get critics – often Christian critics – absolutely bagging me and strongly denouncing me, all in the same breath in which they are telling me how wrong it is to judge another person.
For some reason these critics can’t seem to put two and two together. They assume that being judgmental is the worst sin going around, yet they give me a mighty blast of, well, judgment. I sometimes feel like responding by saying there is a word for all this: it starts with h and ends in y. And in case they are not catching my drift, the middle letters are ‘ypocris’.
One thing both Christian and non-Christian critics have in common is to cite the most abused passage in all of Scripture: “Do not judge, lest you also be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Turek picks up on this passage, after relating a story about a self-proclaimed “Christian lesbian” who chewed him out for being judgmental. Says Turek:
“As with most slogans shouted by the left, the truth is exactly opposite to what they claim. Liberals take the judgment statements of Jesus out of context because they want to avoid any moral condemnation for their own actions, and they don’t want you to notice that they are making judgments too.”
He reminds us to read this passage in context. So here it is, Matthew 7:1-5: “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
Says Turek, “Notice Jesus isn’t telling us not to judge – Jesus is telling us how to judge. He actually commands us to take the speck out of our brother’s eye – that involves making a judgment. But he also commands us to stop committing the bigger sins ourselves so we can better help our brother. In other words, when you judge, do so rightly not hypocritically.”
He continues, “Jesus expressed this same idea when he said ‘stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment’ (John 7:24). Jesus would never tell us to stop judging – that would be suicide! Just think about how impossible life would be if you didn’t make judgments. You make hundreds, if not thousands, of judgments every day between good and evil, right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones. You’d be dead already if you didn’t make judgments.”
“What does this have to do with politics? Every law is a judgment about what’s best for society. Homosexual activists are making a judgment that same-sex marriage would be the best law for society. It’s a wrong judgment as I’ve argued in this column before, but it’s a judgment nonetheless. So in addition to being self-defeating, the belief that we ‘ought not judge’ is completely impractical and even dangerous. Making judgments is unavoidable both personally and politically. If you want to meet a sudden and premature demise, just stop making judgments.”
He concludes, “Unfortunately, liberals are propelling our society toward a premature demise by making the disastrous judgment that we ought not make judgments about their behavior. They, of course, can judge our behavior as immoral when we oppose same-sex marriage or the killing of the unborn. But we are not to judge their behavior. This is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus warned against. The passage they quote actually convicts them! For folks so concerned about the ‘separation of church and state,’ it’s amazing how fast liberals quote the Bible when they think it helps their case. Don’t let them get away with that. If they believe the Bible when they think it condemns judging (which it doesn’t), then ask them why they don’t believe the Bible when it certainly condemns homosexuality. If they want to use the Bible as their standard, then they will be judged by that same standard.”
Quite so. I began this piece by quoting from the English church leader who “married” the homosexual couple. He said he believed he was doing what was right. He could only say such foolishness because he has stopped judging. He has stopped making moral evaluations. Indeed, he has totally capitulated to the spirit of the age. The Bible tells us to “test all things” Obviously this rector has stopped testing things a long time ago.
Instead of judging everything by the word of God, he has simply stopped making biblical judgments. Interestingly, Peter tells us that “judgment must first begin with the household of God”. We need to start judging whether some of our church leaders have lost the plot, and need to find a new day job.
Those church leaders who abandon biblical discernment in the name of tolerance and acceptance are helping no one. Indeed, all they are doing is relegating themselves and others to the moral cesspit that is contemporary culture. I judge that this is not a very good thing.
45 Replies to “It’s Time to Start Judging”
Bill, what I can’t get my head around is that on one hand homosexuals want to be recognized for their differences yet on the other hand want to embrace heterosexual institutions, such as marriage. Does this make them closet heterosexuals?
I can’t believe this, Bill. You regularly get Christian critics absolutely bagging you and strongly denouncing you for being judgmental?! These people really must have a problem given that you are clearly one of the fairest, most balanced and even tempered Christian commentators around.
A very good question indeed. But of course to even ask such a question is to open oneself to the charge of being judgmental!
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Your kind words are greatly appreciated. Hopefully most of these Christian critics mean well, and want to do what is right. But I think many believers have simply bought into the spirit of the age, and see any and all judgment, admonishment and reproof as wrong, even though we are encouraged to do all three throughout Scripture.
But I guess I do find it ironic, to say the least, when they rather strongly judge me, all the while making their point that we should not judge others, especially other believers!
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Thanks for another great article Bill. It seems not that long ago that what you are saying now would have been almost mundane and obvious. How quickly this slide down the slippery slope of unreason are we heading – sadly greased by the foolishness of many even within the Church.
For a long time now I have been concerned about our lack of willingness to make sound moral judgements based on clear biblical truth and our even greater reluctance to proclaim those same truths to a world that desperately needs them. Sadly I must include myself when I say that we are too often concerned about being acceptable to contemporary society. We hide behind the excuse that we don’t want to repel those for whom the gospel is intended. Or perhaps we genuinely believe presenting Christianity in an “acceptable” way is the right thing to do.
There are many thousands of people who are attracted to religions which demand strict adherence to moral laws because they do just that, and yet they offer no assurance of forgiveness. Dare I slam any in particular? Perhaps if those people who genuinely wanted to follow God had good reason to believe the God of Christianity actually demands moral excellence and it is for this very reason that forgiveness, through faith in Jesus which results in obedience to him, is necessary they might be less likely to look elsewhere. How will they believe that if we don’t remove the log from our own eye; that is live according to the Bible we believe to be God’s word, and tell them the whole truth about it?
A final thought: Better the judgement that leads to repentance than the one that leads to condemnation.
The gay section of society does not really want to replicate traditional marriage. When the gay community are offered marriage there is not exactly a stampede. The evidence shows that marriage does not suit their lifestyle. What they want is the acceptance and recognition, the goods and services associated with marriage but not the essential nature of it. But it is heterosexual-like marriage which is easiest to sell to the wider heterosexual community.
Even those who do want marriage – especially gay men – tend not to see a need to restrict their sexual activity to their menage. At the ideological level as well, there are strong homosexual voices which have little interest in conservative argumentation for same sex marriage. They deeply resent the homophobic implications of a negative view of homosexual practices which don’t mirror conventional heterosexual marriage practice. ‘Freed of the constraints of marriage, gays are presently free to explore guiltless pleasures of sexual abandonment … Some gays worry that the marriage license will deprive them of their avant-garde status. Instead they’ll become retrograde, tarnished imitations of the bourgeois coupling they hold in contempt. The monogamous, heterosexual marriage does not fit in with a homosexual lifestyle which in their own view is at the very cutting edge of modern , progressive 21st century , technological , post modern life.. A characteristic of the homosexual community is its love of risk, abandonment, shock and rebellion. One only has to attend the grotesque, leering, mocking and strutting spectacle of gay pride and Mardis Gras exhibitionism, or read Peter Tatchell’s gospel, called Outrage, to see the true face of sexual deviation. This is the real face of the LGBTs.
Until recently Rowan Williams was saying that as long as the partners are married or living in a civil partnership, just so long as the partners are “imaging in their personal and sexual life the love and justice of Christ.” (1997, ‘Knowing Myself in Christ’: Rowan Williams)
The Bible makes no mention of other configurations of marriage apart from male and female, nor is there any mention of the two waiting until their personal lives ”image the love and justice of Christ.” in order to become one flesh. There have been marriages created for all manner of reasons, apart from love, such as those of economy, politics and plain convenience, as with the case, not only of that between Ruth and Boaz, but of C.S Lewis’ marriage to Joy Davidman.
Theirs was a marriage of convenience which was allowed to bloom into a loving relationship.
C.S. Lewis in “ The Four Loves” says:
“Most of our ancestors were married off in the early in youth to partners chosen by their parents on grounds that had nothing to with Eros. They went to the (sexual) act with no other “fuel”, to speak, than plain animal desire. And they did right; honest Christian husbands and wives, obeying their fathers and mothers, discharging to one another their “marriage debt”, and bringing up families in the fear of the Lord. Conversely, this act, done under the influence of a soaring and iridescent Eros which reduces the role of the senses to a minor consideration, may yet be plain adultery, may involve breaking a wife’s heart, deceiving a husband, betraying a friend, polluting hospitality and deserting your children.”
Frances Schaeffer, talking about Dante, the Italian poet who fell in love with a young girl called, Beatrice at first sight, said that he loved her with a spiritual passion all his life. Then he married another woman who bore his children and washed his dishes but he never forsook his love for Beatrice. Schaeffer said that It has not pleased God that the distinction between a sin and a duty should turn on fine feelings. This act, like any other, is justified (or not) by far more prosaic and definable criteria; by the keeping or breaking of promises, by justice or injustice, by charity or selfishness, by obedience or disobedience.
Again to loosely borrow from C.S. Lewis, Bishop Gene Robinson and his “June bride” could say to one another in an almost sacrificial spirit, “It is for love’s sake that we have led astray young people in the church and those weak in their faith.” They may even feel a particular merit in such sacrifices to the idol of such love; what costlier offering can be laid on the love’s altar than one’s conscience?
Enjoy : http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3833364.ece
David Skinner, UK
My Father used to describe to me how the word “Judge” had two distinct meanings in his native tongue – one to discern and one to condemn / aquit as guilty / not guilty.
There has been an ignorance of these aspects of judging where one is clearly a virtue for all and the other dependent upon our position.
I know this is not directly related to the topic here, but for anyone interested, I have been contributing to an American Blog on the topic of Mr Eddie Walker, the Headmaster of Irmo High School, Columbia, Lexington County who refused to accept a Gay/Heterosexual dialogue club into his school. He is resigning from his post as of next year.
There may be arguments and evidence that others may find useful in future battles in their own back yards – if they have not already thought about an issue which is going to invade all our schools and living rooms very shortly. Be prepared. It is important that we engage with those who disagree with us in order to test our own convictions – bearing in mind that there are many for whom evidence and argument mean absolutely nothing – in which case, one at least has sparred and stretched one’s own muscles. Who knows, we may even have sowed a seed.
David Skinner, UK
There is a real difference between judging a sin and judging the sinner. As Christians we have a duty to follow Christ which means condemning the sin and a homosexual relationship is a sin as the Bible tells us. Therefore anyone who makes a public display of the sin will be tarnshed with it. Whether in the end the sinner repents, which is what God wants, will be a matter between the individual and God.
Our role is to teach the Gospel of Christ which means defining Christian values in our 21st century society and trying to persuade others to abide by them, including asking Governments to create laws that embody those values.
I agree with other commentators that if we ceased making judgements about life we would die.
What concerns the opponents of truth is that our comments may taint them or draw their acts to condemnation by others. Well better they know whether the acts are inconsistent with God’s will whilst they are on earth capable of making judgements of their own to do or not to do things then to die without having the opportunity to say sorry to God for their transgressions.
Turek’s article was very well written and most important.
Jonathan Sarfati, Brisbane
The campaign to normalise homosexuality is riddled with dishonesty and selectivity. On the one hand we are told that what consenting parties do is none of our business; that we must live and let live. Fine. But in the next breath we are told that we must be inclusive and affirm what they do. Its exactly like someone saying that they are going to destroy someone’s garden and that it is none of our business and then demanding that it is our business when affirming what they do. They want it both ways.
So what about the conditions and imperatives placed on us, the relatives, friends, the church and the community, with regard to a of gay wedding? How are we supposed to respond? Do we have responsibilities? Should the church door be wide open to all?
Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”
The book of Ephesians has for may years been held up as a book about church unity but my reading of it is that increasingly it is about warfare; indeed, it ends with some of the most vivid instructions on how to wage it. Church unity is not the same as the universalist’s mantras “inclusion and diversity” which have been seized with an almost religious fervour by the church; not only does Jesus Christ tell us that many are called by God but that few are chosen. The letter to the Ephesians, as a consequence, orders the church to enforce this selection and to exclude those within the church fellowship who are clearly not called, or who behave as such, until as such time as they are brought to repentance.
Although Jesus Christ is the final judge, there is a burden of responsibility laid upon us all. The universal church does have responsibilities in making sure that there is a clear distinction between the Christian and all others. Like an invading and infiltrating army we have to be in society but not of it. Above all, like troops, in Normandy, during D-Day, engaged in fierce hand to hand fighting, we need to recognise friend from foe. Poverty and AIDs are not principally the enemy, but the spiritual forces that have produced them.
Paul, in writing to the Ephesians clearly describes how the Christian must separate themselves from gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. He describes those outside the family of God as: “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. Further on he said, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity…….because these are improper for God’s holy people….have nothing to do with the fruitless seeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret……Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
The Anglican Church protests against the charge that it is leading the vanguard in moral corruption by pointing out that it upholds, personal relationship, monogamy and life-long commitment; but this is no better than the morality of some heathen cultures. The Church can tick all the moral boxes but if it is not obedient on the one issue – no matter how trivial or minor it might appear, that God demands of it at this moment, it might just as well not be bothered with any of them. It strains at gnats and swallows camels.
Our laws were once based upon the Ten commandments; this was the grid through which we took our bearings with regard to existence, morality and truth. And though people today might believe that they have thrown off, not only the authority of the Bible, but all authority – they think they live in absolute freedom – they are sadly deceived. No one can live for long in a “gravity free” environment, just as no one can live in a sensory deprivation chamber for long without going mad. We all need a grid, frame, world view against which to judge our thoughts, feelings, desires, intentions and finally actions. The vacuum left by a loss of belief in the Bible has been replaced by another – that of evolutionary humanism. Without realising it, society has become conditioned en mass by this philosophy which, having trickled down over a period of several hundred years, has finally, monolithically and almost uniformly, permeated into every recess of life- from the university to the check -out counter, to the school nursery.
The inconsistencies of accepting LGBTs are infinite. No sooner does one deal with one dishonesty than another is proposed. For example, feminists demand that there is absolutely no difference between men and women, except in so far as women produce babies and men don’t, but even this is out of date with the British government pushing ahead with human fertilisation and embryology programmes that will enable lesbians and homosexuals to have children without the need whatsoever for any involvement of the opposite sex. The dishonesty lies with the fact that gays do demand to have their differences recognised. When it suites them Lesbians are able switch off that part of their brain that registers emotional and mental differences to being male but, equally, when it suits them, they are able to switch back that part of the brain that registers mental and emotional differences to being heterosexual.
My introduction and discovery of Bill’s site, CultureWatch, was through finding the words of Will Durant: “from barbarism to civilisation required centuries but the journey from civilisation to barbarism needs but a day.”
David Skinner, UK
If our children go astray, we warn them of the consequences of their actions; that’s what parents do; if our community has deviate behaviour we report it to the police; that’s what responsible citizens do; if tv programs cross the line we object; we have a moral obligation to protect the eyes and ears of the innocent.
If 2 men choose to marry and claim they are in God’s will then their action is open for public comment as they are in public. People who claim they follow the bible will be judged by the fruit of their lives and so we examine the fruit and decide if we want to be associated with it.
Hi Bill, do you have a framework that others can use to assess whether Church leaders are in the Synagogue of Satan, or whether they are in a lesser category such as Apostate?
Stan Fishley you want a framework that others can use to assess whether Church leaders are in the Synagogue of Satan, or whether they are in a lesser category such as Apostate. To start with may I quote from Francis Schaeffer who said: “Some forms of homosexuality today, are of similar nature, in that they are not just homosexuality but a philosophic expression. One must have understanding (compassion) for the real homophile’s problem. But much modern homosexuality is an expression of the current denial of antithesis. It has led in this case to an obliteration of the distinction between man and woman. So the male and female as complementary partners are finished. ……….In much of modern thinking, all antithesis and all the order of God’s creation is to be fought against – including the male – female distinctions ……..It is part of the world-spirit (evolutionary humanism) of the generation which surrounds us. It is imperative that Christians realize the conclusions which are being drawn as a result of the death of absolutes.”
Stan we have the word of God. This may mean nothing to non-Christians but we do have every right to beat it over the heads of those who profess to be Christians. We may even indulge by dressing up in black suits with starched wing collars and black boots. If the following is not a clear enough framework then the condition is terminal:
1 Corinthians 5:1
1 Corinthians 6 :9-11
Romans 1: 24-32
1 Corinthians 6:18-20
2 Peter 2 4-12
David Skinner, UK
I think you’re right, Bill. The line has been crossed, and it’s time to start speaking out. Political correctness should not supercede timeless truth. Because someone “feels” like they’re doing the right thing is meaningless. Yet, this society goes around based on what “feels right” or “feels good”, and a lot of it is far from it.
Simon Kennedy, VIC
Accused of being judgmental? I’ll judge you, alright, Bill …
9.78 out of 10 is your score for the bold and biblically faithful ministry that you consistently adhere to on this site.
(why 9.78? Well, no one’s perfect!) 😉
It is very true what you say: “we are not allowed to be offended anymore”. Those who spoke out about Channel 10’s broadcasting of Californication and episodes of Big Brother are typically met with the “get real” or “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it” or “don’t be so old-fashioned and prudish” type responses. It seems that nowadays people are offended if you’re offended by them! Crazy world.
Mathew Hamilton, VIC
Modern, consumerist society believes and acts the way it does simply because it is driven by an ever more demanding standard of satisfaction for its insatiable appetites and the need to experience ever stronger stimulation. It is even incapable of articulating what it does believe but instead unthinkingly conforms and marches in step to whatever is the consensus of consumer opinion, or as the communists call it, collective thought (and increasingly the demands of vociferous minority pressure groups)… yet all the while being deluded into the conceit that it is free……absolutely free. The reality is that we are under bondage to own compulsive natures and the standards around us. Without any fixed point of reference, like a ship without compass or captain, society will drift in a sea of relativity and will change its attitudes and values according to the political climate. The passengers and crew do not mind where the ship is going, just so long as everything is running smoothly and everyone has the feel- good factor. The only moral compass is a constantly changing political correctness- the average consensus at any particular moment. What might be shocking and completely unacceptable behaviour can almost overnight become respectable and what was previously considered to be decent and responsible behaviour can become criminalised. Morality is completely turned on its head. Without any fixed, absolute point of reference, human nature has a way of accommodating and becoming comfortable over a period of time with a state of hell. It can gradually sleep walk into becoming hardened, desensitised to cruelty, barbarism and evil, until what was considered abnormal or deviant becomes the acceptable norm, as happened in Nazi Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia and now- even Britain. No doubt Germans today still cannot believe that they as a nation descended to such barbarism, just over fifty years ago.
David Skinner, UK
This is just another example of the ridiculous shallow thinking that permeates society these days. So let’s add it to the Secular Creed:
Don’t judge (or I’ll judge you)
Abortion is a good choice (but don’t show any pictures of that choice because that would be callous – of you, I mean, not the choice)
All views are equal (except this one is best)
Gays are born that way (never mind the fact that they were a result of male and female genetics)
Evolution is real (even though we’ve never managed in 150 years to reproduce remotely what we claim random events could do, but yes we’re still incredibly smart. Smarter than those wacky creationists anyway!)
Jesus was all about acceptance and love (which is why he talked about false teachers, the different kind of ‘soil’ for accepting the word of God, a fiery furnace for the weeping and gnashing of teeth, and, in teaching about the Father’s willingness to give us good things, mentioned in passing how we are all evil. Oh yeah, he also used that word ‘repent’ now and then, but of course, we’re all OK, aren’t we? He died for some reason, I can’t remember now that term that Spong used…)
But if you don’t want to believe the last one, then of course, Jesus was a fairy tale (which I gotta say, is pretty darn convincing when I consider how and why the Christian Church even exists worldwide 2000 years later when at his arrest and death his motley bunch of followers ran like spooked horses. Sure, people die willingly for something they know is an invention all the time…)
etc. etc. etc.
Well, I’m sold… not
I visit your website religiously (pun not intended).
I understand the commenting rules about this not being a soapbox (and I have never commented before), but I must say that I disagree with you comprehensively. I’m also not going to be able to confine what I have to say to 100 words, sorry.
I’m 22 and I grew up in a devout Baptist family, attending Church every week. My parents were youth pastors and my Mum teaches in a Baptist college. My grandmother, who is 82, has as her homepage Creation Ministries International and does volunteer work for AiG and Life FM in Adelaide. The rest of my family is deeply religious.
But I am gay. For me this is not a “lifestyle choice” but something that I inherently “am”. I certainly would not “choose” to be ostracised, to disappoint my family, to be the subject of abuse and innuendo. But I know that this is who I am. I know that I am a good person, that I contribute to society, that I lead a moral life.
You may and do disagree with this, but I cannot be held to account and “judged” by reference to a millennia-old text, which has been translated, retranslated and revised. It is not theological revisionism to assert that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. It is theological revisionism to posit that it does. The King James Version does not mention homosexuality, indeed, the conception of “homosexuality” only developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in the writings of Michel Foucault (himself a homosexual). The KJV does of course refer to the “effete”, but are homosexuals effete? “Effete” has since been revised to “homosexuals” in subsequent revisions of the Bible.
I understand your concerns about the degeneration of society and particularly of the family and I share many of these concerns. But I believe that a secular state is the only way to ensure that everyone is “protected” and able to lead their life according to their own moral framework. Non-Christians (like myself now) should not be subject to Christian law and institutions, likewise non-Muslims should not be subject to Shari’a law. Christians should be free to practice their faith freely and openly. But this can only occur is a secular liberal democracy.
The secular liberal democracy allows those with a Christian moral and ethical framework to live their lives accordingly and it allows those with a different moral and ethical framework to lead their lives. My moral framework is no doubt different from your’s, so why should you “foist” your ethical code on me and vice versa. What I do does not impinge on you and does not impact on your entry into Heaven or your relationship with your Creator. I do not believe in Heaven or hell and I do not believe in original sin (or any sin for that matter). I am a secular humanist (after a lot of “soul-searching” I embraced the atheistic Weltanschauung). One question that I have is why this should be a barrier to our dialogue and interaction? Why can’t we focus on our shared philosophical positions and then discuss our differences. We may never resolve them, but we may just learn from one another.
I support gay marriage. I do not believe it is the threat you believe it to be. I know I want to get married (to my male partner) and I know that I want to raise children in a loving and supportive environment. And I know that I will be an upstanding citizen. The fact that I may marry a member of the same sex does will not impact on followers of Christ at all. When there are such striking differences in personal morality and what is permissible, why should I be held to account by your (in the body plural) (God’s) standards when I absolutely reject them.
On a different topic, I do not believe that abortion constitutes the killing of a human being. Certainly, I am deeply opposed to late term abortions as this would constitute the killing of a “possible” human life, but a clump of embryos and cells I do not consider to be human life. Why should those who do not share your (again in the body plural) moral framework be denied access to what they may feel is very much in line with their moral framework? Abortion is a sad practice. This we can agree upon. But wouldn’t it be better that we work together to provide other options for women who feel that they cannot bring a child into the world? Why can’t we work together to make adoption easier; to improve sexual (yes, abstinence and safe-sex) education for those at risk (particularly teenage girls); provide better access to education for those teens who do find themselves pregnant so that they can continue studying so that they can provide a supportive environment for their child; and counseling services, etc?
There is so much more I could and do want to say, but I have already gone on long enough. Thank you for this opportunity to engage in a discussion with you.
You raise many important questions here, and yes, short comments are not the best way to cover such a complex debate. Most of your objections I have dealt with elsewhere on this site. And I can answer you fully in terms of non-biblical, secular social science data.
But since you raise many biblical issues, let me seek to offer some biblical responses. The first thing I would say is that in one sense, so what? So what that you think you were born gay? That is, the Bible says we are all born with dispositions and orientations away from God and to sin and self. Nothing new there.
This is the biblical doctrine of sin. We live in a fallen world. So yes, people (everyone) are born with all sorts of dispositions and tendencies. Some are born with an orientation to anger, or overeating, or any number of things. But that is what the gospel is all about. Although born sinful and in rebellion against God, Jesus died for us so that not only can sin be forgiven, but we can be set free from sin and empowered to live the way God originally intended for us.
As to his intention for human sexuality, his intention has always been heterosexual marriage, end of story. All other sexual expressions are out of bounds. And God empowers us to be able to do what we were originally designed for. If we agree with God, turn from sin, and receive the power of his Spirit, God can and does change people. That is the good news – good news which you have obviously turned your back on.
There are tens of thousands of people who have left their homosexuality and been set free by God. Many have gone on to heterosexual marriage and family. So the only question here for you is whether you agree with what God has to say about your condition, and let him change you (and every single one of us needs change) or do you say, “sorry, I want to be God here, I will call the shots and I will decide what is right and wrong, and how I live my life. Butt out God, I don’t need or want you.”
It sounds like this is where you are currently at. I hope you do not stay there, but the choice is yours.
As to your other points: Being “good” has nothing really to do with it. The real issue is do we agree with God that we are rebels who need to lay down our arms, and do we acknowledge that Jesus came to save sinners, which means every single one of us. The Bible makes it clear that everyone thinks they are good enough in their own eyes. But put next to a holy, pure and perfect God, all our righteousness is as filthy rags.
As to the Bible, what does antiquity have to do with truth? If something is true, it is true for all times, all places and all peoples. The reliability of the Scriptures that we now possess is another topic however.
As to the KJV, you are simply wrong about homosexuality. Whether the actual term is used in a particular translation is immaterial. What is of course important is what is in the Hebrew OT and the Greek NT. And the message is absolutely clear on the sin of homosexuality, and God’s view of what is acceptable sexual practice.
And when have I said you should be subject to Christian laws? I think people should be subject to good laws, and laws which are good for all of society. Up until recently almost all Western law was based on Judeo-Christian morality. As far as I am concerned, you can do you homosexual thing all you like. But when activists seek to push this lifestyle in public and onto others and onto kids, etc., then I have as much right as any other citizen to express my concerns.
And yes it is quite clear you are a secular humanist. I am quite happy to debate issues with such folk. Abortion obviously is another whole topic, and cannot here be pursued.
So thanks for your thoughts and feel free to reply.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
The issue with regard to secular humanists when they say that society should provide everyone the liberty to pursue their own desires within their own personal moral framework, is that it doesn’t work – in other words, this concept does not produce the maximum liberty for the maximum number of people that the secular humanists think it will.
For example, the pro-abortion advocates are permanently extinguishing the liberties of the preborn. Similarly, with the proliferation of homosexuality inevitably leading to a more dysfunctional society, then liberty is reduced for all through the threat of crime, disease, and a lower standard of living through the reduced economic efficiency of dysfunctional societies.
A society operating under laws based on Judeo-Christian morality will and does produce the maximum liberty for the maximum number of individuals. This is because unlike all other worldviews, the Judeo-Christian worldview is based on truth and is the only worldview that has a correct understanding of the nature of Man.
Too much law restricts liberty, but too little law does the same. So to achieve maximum liberty there must be a balance between authoritarianism and anarchy. A society governed by a system of law based on Judeo-Christian morality will achieve this balance but secular humanism will not.
I would like to submit to Edward Prescott these articles with which I am sure he would readily identify.
I would also like to comment on Edwards Prescott’s claims about homosexuality. He said, “King James Version does not mention homosexuality, indeed, the conception of ‘homosexuality’ only developed in the 19th and 20th centuries……The KJV does of course refer to the ‘effete’, but are homosexuals effete? “Effete” has since been revised to ‘homosexuals’ in subsequent revisions of the Bible.”
It is true that the KJV of I Corinthians 6: 9 does not use the word “sodomites“ (clearly a word meaning “homosexuals” – Jude 7: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh….), but the words “effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind,“ as used in the KJV, is translated by Matthew Henry in his commentary around 1710 (long before the 19th century) as “sodomites.”
Commentating on Romans 1: 27, Matthew Henry says, “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God, shall not be owned as true members of his church on earth, nor admitted as glorious members of the church in heaven. All unrighteousness is sin; and all reigning sin, nay, every actual sin committed deliberately, and not repented of, shuts out of the kingdom of heaven. He (Paul) specifies several sorts of sins: against the first and second commandments, as idolaters; against the seventh, as adulterers, fornicators, effeminate, and Sodomites.”
In the unabridged version of Matthew Henry’s commentary he also says: “The particular instances of their uncleanness and vile affections are their unnatural lusts, for which many of the heathen, even of those among them who passed for wisemen, as Solon and Zeno, were infamous, against the plainest and most obvious dictates of natural light. The crying iniquity of Sodom and Gomorrah, for which God rained hell from heaven upon them, became not only commonly practised, but avowed, in the pagan nations”
I would also agree with you, Bill, how the homosexual activists who are the drivers of normalising homosexuality are smart enough to realise that the one big obstacle to their campaign are the Christians who uphold the view that the expression of sexual behaviour is only appropriate within a heterosexual, monogamous and enduring marriage. Consequently any school or university that has a voice, by way of a Christian Union, that encourages celibacy, chastity and purity within marriage will be shut down. There will be no equality, no live and let live, the homosexual brigade will have them silenced; they cannot afford to have them around.
David Skinner, UK
I’ve been away travelling, so have only just caught up on this article and comments. Others have covered most of what I would have said. But I will add this:
One thing I am trying to wean myself away from is my tendency to criticise others for what I would call “mere preferences” (they like their music a certain style, they do communion a certain way, they interpret unclear texts in a way that is different to me). I’ve formed a view that there is room for preferences, room for different expressions of Christianity, etc.
But there really are some issues that are cut-n-dried, where we are not talking about preferences but about error, or about sin. When it comes to error and sin, its my belief that one is obliged to speak the truth, in love, and the chips fall where they may.
A plain reading of scripture is often all that is needed. When I see people (a) ignoring uncomfortable passages; and/or (b) contorting themselves in their interpretations in order to get an outcome that suits them … then I feel that they’re quite missing the point about the whole process.
Steve Frost, Melbourne
to Edward Prescott
No matter your family’s lineage, we still get rotten apples in a basket of clean fruit.
None of us are good; we are all rotten by the Bible’s definition. Only God is good.
I considered for some time whether or not to throw my two cents into the replies to your post. Hope you’ll receive it in the spirit in which it was written. It’s sometimes difficult to write something and avoid it sounding angry or thoughtless. But judging? Well, that is surely the point here!
I can only echo what Bill wrote. I find it extremely difficult on purely biological reasons (which includes genetics) to accept homosexual behaviour as normal, and impossible on biblical grounds. Male/Female sex within marriage is simply the only legitimate sexual behaviour that gets a run in scripture as sanctioned by God. I don’t know how you can possibly state that the Bible supports anything else.
Furthermore, I do not believe you can be born either homosexual or heterosexual. Apart from the fact that a fairly substantial onus is on you (and any other proponent of this idea) to give evidence to support the ‘born gay’ theory, I would plead with you to realize that in terms of sexuality you are born either male or female. And you are a male. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, your half of the sexual equation can only be fulfilled with a female. The same for me. Heterosexual behaviour is what your sexual organs are made for. Without trying to be crass, what is semen for? Where and when does it fulfill its function? Your own physiology testifies against you. You say you want children but you can only do this by relying on someone outside of your relationship by definition. There is something ironic about having to by nature rely on the very type of relationship you reject. This is manifestly different from an infertile or elderly couple.
Like Bill and others who post here regularly, I have known (and still do) a few homosexuals and I treat them no different as anybody else. One of my colleagues who engages in homosexual behaviour has in fact been a great encouragement to me professionally over many, many years. Two situations in particular stand out for me as very important to me. But, if the topic is raised (which is dangerous now because of the very secular society you support, btw – ie. “ensure that everyone is “protected”” – that is laughable) I can only state privately what I have said in public – I don’t think it is good morally. I think his choices will hurt him, if they haven’t already. I believe he would be much more without it. Many of those who have walked away from engaging in homosexual behaviour testify of the freedom that they never knew existed. You can know it too, but it is different for everybody.
Edward, you may feel you cannot deny your feelings (and therefore consider them part of yourself – your innate ‘you’, if you like), but let me tell you that that is precisely the thing that Christ expects from us. To lay down our lives and deny ourselves is at the heart of the Gospel. Sexual morality is part of that. We may all fall flat on our faces from time to time, but there is no excuse to give up and stay there. Christ offers us more than we could ever hope for, including what man considers ‘impossible.’ Logically, I need only produce one example of a former homosexual to undermine the idea of being ‘born gay’ and there are considerably more than that. There is hope for everybody and it is wrong to expect me not to speak about this hope. Have you ever considered it is offensive to clam that the ‘born gay’ idea exists to those who have experienced healing? They are effectively being called liars. I have heard many of their testimonies and I find it extremely difficult to deny the credibility of their stories, notwithstanding those who have lesser success.
Thanks for posting here anyway – I realize that took some courage.
Dear Edward, You say you are from a deeply religious devout Baptist family with even a grandmother involved in CMI and AiG ! This just proves that belief and unbelief is only 25 years apart as each generation must make their individual decision for or against the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior and redeemer. You are so young at 22 to know with such certainty these statements about yourself and your beliefs and your desires.
I know that I am a good person
I know I will be an upstanding citizen
I want to raise children in a loving and supportive environment
I know I want to get married to my male partner
Why should I be held to account ?
I do not believe that abortion constitutes the killing of a human being
I lead a moral life
I do not believe in Heaven or hell
I do not believe in original sin or any sin for that matter
My 28 year old son Pieter composed a song recently the chorus :
It’s not about ME, ME, ME, I ,I ,I It’s about You Jesus
The concepts of right and wrong must have an ultimate basis from which to appeal, or else they become simply relative to the culture. This is what we see happening in today‘s Western world. The Bible teaches that God the Creator made men and women for each other, and experience confirms that we are made for each other physically.
This was the Creator’s intention and plan. And any deviation from this is outside the created order. So it has been until very recent times, when, backed up by evolutionary ‘science’, the concept of homosexual acts being ‘wrong’ has been changed. Now they are promoted as neither right nor wrong, but a ‘choice’. And, unless one appeals to a Creator who sets the absolute laws for life, who can say this is incorrect? If there is no Creator who has made us and set the rules, then all our morals and ideas of what is right or wrong are simply subjective—what we ourselves decide.
Does this mean those holding to evolution cannot live a moral, ethical life? Not at all, and many do. But when they see unethical behaviour by others, they have no grounds on which to judge that behaviour as wrong. It may be their choice to be faithful to a marriage partner, and to do good to others. But it may be another’s choice to live a life of unfaithfulness, or to take advantage of everyone around them in order to get ahead. If evolution is true, then neither position is right or wrong. Just different choices. Therefore, society as a whole gravitates to a less moral position.
So, when we tell children that it is wrong to murder, for instance, do we tell them why it is wrong? Is it wrong only because society currently says it’s wrong, or because our Creator has told us it is wrong?
The ultimate cause of immoral behaviour is of course sin, and not evolutionary beliefs as such. But the more a culture is infused with the belief that there is no right and wrong, ultimately, the more we can expect to see a rejection of the authority of the Bible and its proclamation of absolute values.
The Christian Gospel message of Salvation is meaningless without the concept of right and wrong. God the Creator imposed the (eternal, as well as physical) death penalty for infringement of His Law. In the ultimate act of love the universe has ever known, the Creator then became a man in order to take that penalty for mankind’s sin. God upheld the validity of His Law by not relaxing its demands even when God the Son would be the one having to suffer its penalty. Those who believe this can thus know total forgiveness and acceptance by God on that basis.
Steve Cardno is Art Director of Creation magazine. His talents have been greatly used in promoting Creation and the Gospel worldwide. http://www.creationontheweb.com
I have to disagree with many of the sentiments expressed here. Human sexuality is complex, and medical opinion is that homosexuality is caused by a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences. Yet many here suggest that it is a simple matter of choice. An examination of the medical literature would reveal many studies which have shown distinct physiological differences between gay people and heterosexuals. Look up information on a area of the brain known as INAH-3 as just one example.
The fact that some gay people have been able to change, usually under pressure from family or church, does not mean that everyone can. Sexual orientation is a continuum, with most people being exclusively heterosexual or homosexual, while only some can swing either way.
I would also question whether it is right to judge what is in another’s heart. Unless we have stood in the shoes of another person how can we judge their innermost thoughts and their relationship with God? Surely it must be left to God to judge each of us in how justly we have lived our personal lives?
As Christians we often stigmatise gays as being promiscuous and unfaithful in their relationships, yet here we have an example of two men who wish to commit to one another exclusively. Yet we still condemn them!
I’m well aware of the biblical passages that are quoted to support antagonism towards gays, but I’m also aware that God created all humans, and the fact is that He created some differently from the “norm”.
I can understand why Edward would have rejected Christianity. It must be dreadful to have a sexual orientation that causes you to be patronised, humiliated and persecuted in the name of God. I only hope for your sake Edward you are able to find a loving Christian community that will accept you and welcome you.
Juliana Simbroski, Darwin
Edward was once a Christian, and in past comments you have intimated that you are a believer of sorts. In which case, the issue is pretty clear cut. We either let God be God, and let him determine what is best for us, or we tell God he just doesn’t cut it, and that we, the creature, must tell him, the creator, what is true and false, right and wrong. This is just what Paul argues in Romans 1.
And I am afraid your understanding of “love” is mere sentimentality, not solid Biblical love. God wants all of us to live the way he intended, not to be slaves to various sins and addictions. There is nothing loving about keeping a person trapped in their sexual dead end, and wishing upon them a lost eternity. That is neither compassionate nor loving – nor is it Christian.
Biblical love is willing the highest good for the other person, not making excuses for their sin. Nor is biblical love in effect to tell God that he is wrong, and that he needs to get with the program. If we love Jesus, he said, we will keep his commandments. We will certainly tell him his commandments are wrong, and that we know better.
It seems that you have decided to be judge and jury in this area, instead of letting God be the authority, and letting his Word be the standard of belief and practice.
And you are mistaken about judging. One might as well say that we cannot judge a murderer or a thief. The Bible makes it quite clear that these are all sinful behaviours which will keep us from the Kingdom of God. Please read 1 Cor. 6:9-11 and tell us who is right here. Paul expected believers to judge others on these very issues, and make sure that such sinful lifestyles have been forsaken and left behind. He did not say, “I hope you find some fellowship which will welcome you and accept you just as you are’.
And your idea that unless we stand in another person’s shoes we cannot judge, is really quite silly. I have never stood in the shoes of a Nazi. Should I therefore not judge Nazis? I have never stood in the shoes of a rapist. Am I therefore disallowed from judging rape?
It seems you have completely bought into the secular humanist notions of tolerance and moral relativism here. You are certainly not giving us anything remotely close to the biblical position on this.
And you evidently reject the Scriptural doctrine of sin as well, or at least read quite selectively here. I already told Edward that we live in a fallen world. None of us are born the way God intended. We are born fallen and sinful and selfish. That is why Jesus came, to set us free from the condition and penalty of sin.
I expect such sentiments and arguments from a non-Christian. But I am surprised and saddened to hear them coming from someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus. If you want to debate this issue on totally secular grounds, I am quite happy to do so, as I told Edward. But if you seek to identify with Christianity, then there are other issues here which really need to be sorted through, as I have mentioned above.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Sorry for the delay in answering your question. But it really warrants a full article, which is coming soon.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
There are many different interpretations of what it means to be a Christian, and clearly I have a more compassionate view towards other human beings than you do. Who are you to judge my relationship with God?
I don’t think that it is fair to compare sexual orientation with criminal activity. Criminals are entitled to a fair trial and a defence before they are judged.
You claim that I have decided to be judge and jury in this area, but my actual position is the exact opposite. I am saying we should leave it up to God to make the judgment in these cases. Christ himself said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”.
You have not addressed my comments about the known physiological differences between gay men and heterosexuals, nor have you explained how a homosexual is supposed to change his or her feelings. If a man is not innately attracted to women, how is he supposed to change that? I’m well aware of the work of organisations like Exodus, but amongst the claimed successes there are many cases of failure and messed-up lives.
Juliana Simbroski, Darwin
But it is not a question of me judging anyone. God has already judged, and his Word is perfectly clear on the sinfulness of homosexuality. So those who call themselves Christians must agree with God, and not simply decide whether they will obey God or not on this. We do not vote on what God has clearly commanded. If we think we know better than God, then we put ourselves in a precarious position indeed. As Paul puts it, “test yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith”.
And despite your obvious aversion to judging, you of course make a judgement about me in your opening sentence.
And misquoting Jesus helps no one. He also told the woman, “go and sin no more”. And he told us to judge with righteous judgment. The entire New Testament is full of commands to judge, assess, test, approve, discern and evaluate. As I was reading just this morning, “let your love grow in discernment and knowledge, so you can discern what is best and be pure and blameless” (Phil 1:9, 10). Love is not mushy sentimentality, but based on moral discernment and critical evaluation.
As to the supposed differences between homo and hetero, much of this is bogus science. There are a tiny minority of cases of legitimate sexual ambiguity, or intersex conditions, based on chromosomal differences, such as Turner Syndrome, or Kleinfelder Syndrome, but for the most part we are clearly male or female. I and others have compiled the scientific information here, if you are interested: http://www.gendermatters.org.au/Resources.html
And as I say, in a fallen world we would expect things not to be fully clear cut, including in the area of human sexuality. But a Christian is one who believes Jesus came to set us free from the effects of a fallen world, and to conform us to the image of God’s son. That is what the Christian life is about, not making excuses and wallowing in our sin.
And so what if Exodus does not have a 100 percent success rate? Can you tell me of any organisation that does? The simple fact that tens of thousands of homosexuals have been set free by the liberating power of the Gospel gives lie to the fact that people cannot change their sexual orientation. God is in the change business, and Christians of all people should allow him to do just that.
Again, it is a matter of authority. Either we agree with God and submit our wills to his, or we tell God he is wrong, and that we know better. As Lewis put it, at the end of the day there are only two sorts of people: those who say, ‘thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘thy will be done’. I know which camp I would rather be in.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Juliana, let me ask you some questions.
If God invented sex, that is, from the ground up invented sexual organs and the various complicated chemical and physiological and emotional components thereof, do you think He would be ignorant of anything that you mention in your quote above? In view of this, how does His biblical commands regarding the use of our sexuality (ie. male or female) affect what you have argued?
Let’s leave aside sexuality for a moment and consider successful human inventions – Regardless of whatever expertise we might have about anything, when an inventor/designer declares how his creation should be used, it is prudent to first defer to their knowledge. Although it is altogether possible that they may have invented something they don’t fully understand, but it is very unlikely. It is more probable that they have a very thorough knowledge of everything to do with the invention and can instruct us on how best to use it.
God is infinite. And brilliantly intelligent. And not at all bound by our rules and methods or what or how we think. It seems to me that you think God would be impressed by your analysis or revelation of the complexity of human sexuality. I seriously doubt that. I suspect He could maybe teach us a thing or too! The whole package of sex and everything that goes with it was God’s idea. All of it. It is His right to tell us how to use this gift best. The complexity of the processes involved does not override the authority of His commands. And given that the sum total of heterosexual behaviour on this planet has had some success in producing a result throughout history, I think His commands would appear to be endorsed, don’t you think? The size of one part of the brain (even if this evidence was strongly supported) is profoundly insignificant medical evidence compared to the ongoing miracle of reproduction which gays cannot participate in. And it does my head in logically how genetics can even be considered as the major cause when genetics requires heterosexual behaviour to work.
(As an aside, I sometimes wonder what it would be like turning up at a press conference after a sporting match where the score was six billion to zero, and yet the coach of the “zero” team declared how they were equal to the other team. Of course, it would be profoundly absurd. What do you think?)
And where has it ever been said that the choice is “simple”? No choice to leave ingrained and habitual sinful behaviour is easy, whatever the sin. The Bible certainly does not teach this either. Most testimonies I have heard from former homosexuals do not speak of anything “simple” at all in changing their lifestyle. (And the causes can of course be quite variable too.) Most found denying themselves difficult and a long process, often marked with some failures along the way. And yet they have found freedom as they leaned repeatedly into the grace and power of a loving and Holy God. Would you care to comment on this? Do you think they are liars? (You last post at least recognized that these people do exist.)
Further on you wrote, “I’m well aware of the biblical passages that are quoted to support antagonism towards gays”. Why do you write this? Why do you think the verses are about antagonism towards gays and not simply judging the behaviour? Paul specifically writes to the Corinthians “And that is what some of you were.” Think for awhile about the situations that would have brought him to write this. I was recently reading a beautiful story of how a former homosexual woman was quoting this passage at a conference and being reduced to tears as she realized that it could have been written about her. The biblical viewpoint is that redemption and change is always on offer and we are all sinners saved by grace. I am aware of some hate-filled people who denounce gays in the name of God, but this is not what the Bible teaches. Love the sinner, hate the sin, is a thoroughly biblical position, supported by a myriad of scriptures, including one of the most famous, John 3:16-17. What do you think the verses talk about when it mentions that God loved the world and yet His Son had to die to save us?
In your last post you claim to be the more compassionate one. No, there is nothing at all compassionate about ignoring truth to pander to someone’s self-destructive lifestyle. As I wrote to Edward, his own physiology testifies against his behaviour. Whatever solution to his particular situation can never be reached by effectively agreeing with a lie. But it sounds to me you think it would be loving to overlook some important truths. I beg you to reconsider, that just cannot work.
I really can’t figure out where you are coming from, Juliana. With all due respect, it seems to me that you are willfully ignoring strong biblical and physiological evidence – not to mention the experience of former homosexuals – that overwhelmingly defeats your position. But especially if you want to call yourself a Christian (ie. connected to Christ), you are bound to defer first to the creator’s commands and consider everything man teaches with deference to those commands. I realize the rebellious nature in all of us hates to hear the word ‘commands’ but really, God made us, He has that authority.
Few people are born with a physiology that conforms to some notion of perfection. We all have physical differences or deficiencies of one kind or another, mostly they are minor but in some cases they are major departures from the norm. Babies are sometimes born with two heads, or with multiple or missing limbs. Some people are born with eyes that cannot see, ears that cannot hear, or genetic defects that result in early death. Many of these cases occur even when both parents are otherwise perfectly healthy, so your notion about genetics requiring heterosexual behavior to work makes little sense. And by the way, I am not suggesting that homosexuality is entirely genetic, but it is a significant factor.
Your view that homosexuality is merely some wilful rejection of God and is as silly as saying that a blind man cannot see because he doesn’t know how to use his eyes. Perhaps if you were to imagine the libido of a female in the body of a male you might understand what it feels like to be a homosexual man, or vice versa for a lesbian.
I have met many gays who are very devout Christians. They would love to be “normal” and not have to put up with the oppression and rejection they receive from some Christian communities, but they tell me they are as they are, and can’t change the way they feel, notwithstanding St. Paul’s opinion on the matter.
Perhaps the fact that I work in the medical field gives me a different insight into these matters. I get the distinct impression that much of the evangelical obsession with demonising gays is whipped up by people with little or no in-depth knowledge of human physiology and psychology, nor of the current state of expert knowledge in the field. And it’s not as if gays present some grave and imminent new danger to the human race. They are a very small minority of people, always have been, always will. It’s time we got over it.
Juliana Simbroski, Darwin
But your first paragraph simply repeats what we have already said: we live in a fallen world so things are not the way they were meant to be. But the Christian does not stop there. He or she will recognise that Jesus Christ came to change lives. Yet it really seems that you simply do not believe God is able to transform sinners.
And it is Paul who says homosexuality is a clear rejection of God. All sin is a rejection of God. Sure, we are born into a fallen world, but we also choose on a daily basis to pander to self and sin, and deny God.
You say you know homosexual Christians who want to change. Well, I know many such people as well, and they have changed. Change is possible in Jesus Christ for anyone who really wants it. God is in the change business.
But you let the cat out of the bag when you side with your mates over Paul, whom you denigrate as one merely having an opinion, instead of speaking inspired words from God. That, as I have said before, is the real problem here: the question of authority. You continue to tell God that his word is bunk and you are not interested in it.
And spare us the medical bluff. I too have doctor friends, and they have a quite different view to you. As part of their practice, they treat homosexuals on a regular basis. They have seen tremendous change and success in working with homosexuals, and they are fully involved in the “medical field”.
And who is being obsessed here? A militant homosexual minority is campaigning to push their agenda in society, and in the church. It is a very real threat indeed. Do believers have no obligation to stand up to that? And as I said, you should be more obsessed with homosexuals: in the sense of really loving them and telling them the truth. The truth is, homosexuality, like every other sin, can be overcome and forsaken by the tremendous power of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
Countless ex-homosexuals can testify to this, yet you simply want to continue calling them liars, and deny the power of God to transform lives. You also seem to deny the clear teachings of the word of God. That is something I would not take lightly.
You are quite free to push your pro-homosexual agenda. But I would be careful in also claiming that you can somehow do this as a follower of Jesus. We either take God at his word here, or will tell him to get lost, because we know better.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Paul was a very holy man and a good teacher, but he was not God, and we need to understand his teachings in their historical context. There are many of his teachings that trouble good Christians today, for example his views on women being heard in church and female submission.
You may not agree with me on all matters, but you would have to agree that there are many different interpretations of scripture within the broad Christian church, and none of us can legitimately assert that our interpretation is more superior or godly than another’s.
As for your accusation that I have a “pro-homosexual agenda”, I am merely expressing an opinion that differs from yours. I am neither “anti-” or “pro-“, but I happen to think that we should leave judgment of the spiritual state of other people to God. I respect your right to your opinion on the matter, and I would simply ask that you respect mine. I’m sure there aren’t too many issues on which we would disagree.
Juliana Simbroski, Darwin
Thanks Bill, this article really well puts forward somewhat more eloquently what I’ve communicated many times. Those that say judge not are being judgemental, yet the Bible tells us to judge righteous judgement and to take the log out of our own eye. You can try and reason with most people but usually they’re blind – why? They can’t see because of their own hypocrasy. Usually there’s no subletly in what they say rather self-righteous indignation at what the Bible (not us) declares to be true. Keep up the good work, you’re really quite an encouragement Bill. God bless.
Thanks Andrew for the kind words.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
But I again submit to you that the issue of authority here is paramount. Is Jesus Lord or is he not? And is the Bible God’s inspired word or is it not? There questions must be taken seriously by every one of us.
And you understanding of Paul seems a bit fuzzy here. He certainly did not claim to be God. But neither did he claim to be a holy man. In fact, he claimed to be the chief of sinners. He was a forgiven sinner, saved by grace.
But as a writer of inspired Scripture, we must submit to what Paul and the other biblical authors wrote. It again must be asked: do we sit in judgment on God’s word, or do we let God’s word judge us? The biblical view on homosexuality is straight forward and clear cut. We either accept what God has said about this issue, or we reject it. There is no middle ground here.
And discussion of interpretation only makes sense if we do indeed believe there is an inspired Scripture. If the Bible is simply the words of men (as you seem to imply about Paul), then any interpretation will do. If we want to say Paul believed in green aliens, so be it. If Scripture is not God’s revealed truth to us, then any wild interpretation must be as acceptable as any other.
And you seem to do injustice to the biblical teachings on admonishing one another, encouraging one another, holding one another to account, testing all things, being discerning, insisting on good doctrine, and so on. I cannot tell who is ultimately saved, but I have a biblical responsibility to seek the wellbeing of my brothers and sisters.
Your hands-off approach (“I happen to think that we should leave judgment of the spiritual state of other people to God”) simply does not square with the New Testament. Was Paul wrong to judge the brother living in sin in Corinth (1 Cor. 5)? Or to judge the Galatains about their teachings (Gal. 1:6-10)? Or to judge those with wrong behaviours and beliefs in the book of Jude? The whole NT is full of such examples.
We are called to make these judgments all the time. But the spirit of the age says all discernment and judgment is wrong and intolerant. Sorry, but our biblical obligations should trump trendy secular pieties.
I hope we do agree on more things than we disagree on. But these agreements must take place within the confines of Scripture. A high view of Scripture must be our starting point here. Sure, on some issues there will be interpretive discussions, but the authority issue must frame all such discussions.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
No disagreement over the issue of authority in general, but I think our interpretation must be tempered by wisdom and knowledge about the origins of the various texts, and the degree to which cultural considerations influenced the writers.
There are many teachings in the Bible which are not followed today. Examples include the dietary rules and the punishments for various offenses in Leviticus. Similarly there must be questions about the meaning of the origins stories in Genesis and Noah’s flood, given our current knowledge of earth history.
Other teachings, particularly attributed to Paul, are controversial, for example his teachings on the subjugation of women (1 Cor 14:33-35, 1 Tim 2:11-15) and his views elsewhere that women must submit to their husbands. There are scholarly opinions that Paul’s misogynistic views are out of character and possibly later additions by others to fit with the cultural attitudes towards women in the second century. Indeed there is widespread opinion that 1 Timothy was not written until long after Paul’s death. Scholars have also puzzled over the differences between the Paul described in Acts and the Paul that we know from his own writings.
So while I have no dispute about the general authority of the Bible as it relates to Christ and his teachings, I think we have to be cautious about excessive reliance on the minutiae of particular verses to justify aggressive positions on social issues.
Juliana Simbroski, Darwin
No one is denying that there are difficult portions of Scripture, and interpretations will vary. But as our original focus was on the topic of homosexuality, I again submit that Scripture is quite clear on this issue, despite what the theological revisionists try to argue.
Paul’s view on women in another whole debate, and I will defer on that for the time being. But calling his views ‘misogynist’ is certainly making a value judgment here – an interpretation, I might add. And very few NT scholars seek to solve this “dilemma” by simply saying that they are later additions to the text.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Juliana, I’ve been having a really busy week so I’m pretty limited at the moment how much I can reply to your posts. But your statement above from last week has me astounded. I admit I’m no expert in genetics (I did a basic level at school), but I certainly understand that the study of genetics assumes reproduction, which requires sex between a male and female.
For the militant gay lobby to claim genetics as a cause for homosexuality is ridiculous because an exclusively homosexual relationship cannot reproduce this trait. If they then want to talk about surrogates or artificial insemination or lesbians using a man to get pregnant, all they are doing is admitting that the same-sex relationship lacks the biological function of reproduction and they need to borrow from ‘outside’, which reinforces my point. It also suggests aberration in terms of reproduction, not normalcy. And then, how does the ‘gay gene’ persist in nature when it requires that those who homosexual deny its influence? (even if temporarily). There is an obvious problem here.
Sex and genetics in humans is about males and females, Juliana. That is normal. Feelings don’t change biological fact. There are two complementary halves that come together to complete the picture. There is no doubt that to claim genetics as a major cause for homosexuality is clearly propaganda and it is that argument that makes no sense. It simply cannot be true.
Imagine a world where everybody was infected with a disposition for homosexual behaviour and a distaste for the heterosexual. How much use do you think we would have for genetics then? Don’t you understand how your advocacy of homosexuality effectively being equal is undermined by this simple hypothetical example?
Regarding your above article. I find one point confusing. Where Turek says that Jesus wasn’t telling us not to judge, but how to judge. Jesus says clearly “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. I am somewhat confusted by Turek’s comment because I think that Jesus is specifically saying here not to judge others at all. As a Christian I think it is very important to use discernment and then make a judgement as to whether, for example, a particular doctrine or practice in the church is Biblically correct. I have actually been called “judgemental’ by other Christians for not just accepting some Christian practices etc. However I did always believe that we were to make a judgement as to whether an act or behaviour was right or wrong, but not to judge the actual person, as God is the only rightful judge. I thought that we were to be merciful to others so that God is merciful to us. I feel that this article in the above mentioned point says the opposite to this. So can you please clear this up for me?
In Matt. 7:1-6 Jesus is not saying do not judge another person, he is simply saying do not judge another person hypocritically. In verses 15ff of the same chapter he tells us about judging false prophets, and he speaks about knowing a tree by its fruit. We are certainly called to judge doctrines, beliefs, ideologies, behaviour, lifestyles and actions. I try to make that case here and in related articles.
Jesus says we are to judge with righteous judgment (John 7:24). So he has never said don’t judge, just judge justly and wisely. I guess your point is like the old saying: we are to love the sinner while hating the sin. So too here we judge wrong beliefs and practices, yet try to love the person in the process, praying for them and warning them to come back onto the right path.
Yet as we judge actions and beliefs, sometimes it is hard to separate that from the person. For example, Jesus judged Peter harshly (Mark 8:33). He was pretty direct: he did not say Peter’s ideas or actions were Satanic, but he called Peter Satan to the face! A quite strong rebuke, because Peter was in effect listening to Satan here, and seeking to deflect Jesus from his God-ordained task. So here Jesus clearly judged a person, not just his actions or ideas.
Yes we all need to be humble and gracious and aware of our own shortcomings. But we are also called to judge when it is needed.
Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch
Perhaps this point has been made already, but when people say “Judge not”, the truth is we do not have to judge. God’s Word does the judging. For example if I tell someone the Jesus said, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the. Father but by Me”, I say that is the Word by which anyone will be adjudicated – those who believe Jesus’ words are acquitted and saved those who deny His words and die in that unbelief are condemned. I let God’s word, not my feelings, or opinions. Stating the Word clearly will either convict leading to repentance and saving faith or ultimate damnation.