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His Master's Voice
Copyright © 2011 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth

Saturday, December 03, 2011

That “Special” Time of Year, again… - or- Happy Incarnation Day

Alright, I admit it, I have no “joy of the season” left in me. In fact I am sickened by receiving “Seasons Greetings.”

This year my antipathy for this “special time of year” was triggered by our local high school’s “holiday spectacular.” Professionally done, it contained but one song that was only tangentially sacred. All the other dance numbers and music celebrated shopping, candy, and Santa Claus. In fact the plot line that loosely linked many of the songs was that the community at large desperately tried to convince an intelligent youth that Santa was no myth but the real thing. sigh… What a way to celebrate the birth of our Holy God, lying to children to coerce them into adopting a false fairy tale. Sadly, the one song that I truly enjoyed was an amusing mockery of the overeating that occurs on Christmas day.

There are actually only two cultural holidays that I genuinely enjoy. The first is Independence Day. I am unabashedly grateful to God that He chose to place me in this free country that has such a rich Christian history. The second is Thanksgiving Day. Everything about the day, its purpose, and the way it is celebrated is faith affirming and pleasurable to the culinary senses, but above all, for one day everyone focuses on gratitude to God.

OK, so I am not going to say “bah humbug” when we meet on the street. But don’t expect me to say “Merry Christmas” either. In fact, I am toying with the idea of replacing that standard greeting with “Happy Incarnation Day.”

What would you do if someone greeted you with “Happy Incarnation Day!”? Seriously. How would you respond?

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P.S. If you are confused about the Santa Claus issue you are invited to read this article: http://thefaithfulword.org/santa.html or perhaps http://thefaithfulword.org/2006decemberblogarchives.html#9





Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Is Hating the Critics of Homosexuality Moral?

Blogger Dan Pearce posted a rather lengthy blog on November 14, 2011 (http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christian-unless-youre-gay.html). I only became aware of the blog because a concerned Christian passed the link along to me when someone else raised concerns about it to them. I do not know Pearce nor do I remember reading other of his blogs.

In a nutshell the blog is ostensibly a plea for religious people to discontinue regarding homosexuality as wrong and to treat homosexuals with spiritual equality, civil tolerance, and affection. Since I am a born again Christian who has had gay friends and co-workers, and since I also counsel with Christians who are working to overcome various forms of sins, I read the article with intense interest and with curiosity as to whether the blogger would provide a balanced and sensitive assessment of both viewpoints in the dialogue.

In one significant way I did find agreement in Pearce’s blog. He proposed that Christians ought to demonstrate affection and genuine love to homosexuals. That agreement stated, I do differ with Pearce when he states, “It doesn’t matter if homosexuality is a sin or not. In fact, it doesn’t matter if anything anybody else does is a sin or not.”

It does matter whether someone’s actions are sins or not. Sin is rarely purely a personal issue since sins like telling lies, cheating, stealing, and sexual abuse always leave victims in their wake. Even when married men forsake their wives and children to pursue homosexual relationships they leave behind victims among their abandoned families. Where there are victims the matter of sin is no longer purely personal because more than only the sinner has been affected.

In my opinion Pearce’s blog tends to be self-confused and rather self-contradicting. It appears to string together his ungrounded personal opinions which have the net effect of condemning all religions which find homosexuality to be comprised of sinful sexual practices, “…Christians…Buddhists…Hindus…Muslims…Jews.”

Though he was likely influenced by the Mormon religion of the Utah environment (which is not usually considered a branch of the Christian religion), Pearce himself disowns adherence to any religion at all, “I’m not religious.” This makes his constant assertion that it is irrelevant whether or not homosexuality is a sin most disingenuous since it is to the religious reader that he seems to be primarily writing. In effect, as an outsider to all religions, he has passed judgment against all religions as being wrong for believing their own scriptures which define homosexuality as sinful.

Perhaps the most obvious contradiction in Pearce’s blog is his scathing denouncement of the tiny and doctrinally aberrant Westboro congregation which displays placards at funerals stating that God hates the sin of homosexuality, “Almost every person of nearly every religion has no problem loathing … the Westboro Baptist Church and its members, and perhaps with reason….But today I don’t want to talk about those idiots.” Pearce vehemently refers to that tiny religious band in hateful and belittling terms such as “loathsome,” “disgusting,” and “idiots” who themselves deserve the “loathing” (i.e. hatred) that the world heaps upon them.

By his own example of “loathing” the Westboro group Pearce is tacitly making the case that it is acceptable to belittle and loathe anyone who identifies homosexuality as a sin, while at the same time he claims it is morally wrong for anyone to belittle or loathe practitioners of homosexuality. This has the feel of hypocrisy to it. He appears to miss the point that all people, sinners and saints alike, must not be belittled or loathed by any of their fellow humans.

Apart from such apparent self-contradictions Pearce demonstrates he does not readily understand the biblical meaning of the word love. He wrote that love is when one person looks at another and can “only see strength, beauty, potential, [and] hope,” without reference to any flaws, and asks, “Isn’t that what love actually is?”

Well, no, that is not what love is. Love is never ignoring the reality of facts and pretending that someone else has no flaws, is prettier in looks or character than they actually are, or is stronger in intellect or wisdom than their actions ever demonstrate.

In reality, it can be fatal to a fellow human when one is unwilling to tell someone else the painful truth. Consider this loving hypothetical statement, “I know you think you can drink cyanide and survive, but your research is flawed and you will die if you drink it.” Love is the act of the will which allows one to do and to say those things which benefit some other person even at great personal cost.

Further illustrating his lack of understanding of both religion and godliness Pearce muses that Christ-likeness is only achieved when one refuses to point out flaws and sins in others. Pearce even states that to be Christ-like it is possible to dissociate one’s actions and beliefs from all religion, “Why is it that sometimes the most Christlike people are they who have no religion at all?”

Such a notion is a true non sequitur. Jesus was Himself intensely religious and commanded that His followers should obey the entire religious code of the day (Matthew 5:17-19). Jesus also stated that all spiritual salvation actually flows from the roots of the Jewish religion because it alone provided genuine knowledge of God (John 4:22). James explained what it means to act like Christ and stated, “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). It is not possible to be Christ-like unless one is religious like Christ and acts like Him (Galatians 6:2).

Pearce further shared this erroneous opinion, “And the more you love yourself, the less need you’ll ever have to find fault or be better than others. And the less we all find fault or have a need to be better than others, the quicker this world becomes a far better place to live.” This must rank among his more glaring logical and biblical mistakes. He seems to be attempting to separate Christ from religion and Christ-likeness from love. He fails to grasp that Christ constantly found fault in others and informed other people they were sinners, needed to repent, and needed to stop sinning. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery that she must sin no more. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were snakes, sons of Hell, and as corrupt as rotting corpses for their sinful actions. Christ stated that one must repent of their sins if they desired to ever see or enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

If Christ told the people of His day that they needed to give up their sexual sins for the cause of salvation, then what would He tell people today? It is entirely likely He would put an arm around the homosexual, look at him and say, “I died that you might be saved, so repent of your sexual sins, believe on me, be born again, and receive eternal redemption.” In no scenario that I can imagine could I anticipate the biblical Christ telling anyone that they should continue in sexual sin with His blessing. Rather, it is the historical Christ who said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments…from now on sin no more” (John 14:15, 8:11b).

Pearce is wrong that the tiny misdirected congregation of Westboro should be loathed and that its members deserve to be called idiots. Fellow humans should not be in the business of loathing and belittling one another at all. Corrected yes, but hated and belittled, no. Pearce is right in asserting that people need to love one another. But love is doing what is best for someone else just as being like Christ means informing others that they must repent of their sins and must become born again so that they might be given the gift of salvation.

Love does not withhold the truth but rejoices when it is spoken, “[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). I do not know Pearce, nor do I hate him; in fact I care about him because I have been made aware of his existence via his blog. Therefore, it is my hope that it will be seen as an act of kindness and love that I have pointed out that his blog contains the above noted contradictions as well as scriptural and spiritual errors. May God give Pearce the gift of saving faith in Christ and call him to Himself.

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15)

with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25)

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The following is a link to the first of a series of ten short blogs on the meaning and practice of biblical love: http://thefaithfulword.org/2006juneblogarchives.html#28

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Below is a response Booth provided to a comment offered by a reader; it explores a real life incident in which the world expects Christians to be tolerant but no tolerance is extended toward Christians.

When I was working in a Fortune 100 company we were required by Federal Law to attend "diversity training" classes. One course consisted of some good material (e.g. ensuring the workplace was kept free of violence, racisim, sexism, and bigotry) and also some outrageous militantly anti-Christian slurs. Because Christians refer to certain lifestyles as sinful, such as homosexuality, "they are goosestepping Nazis marching in lockstep with closed minds and must be stopped exactly as the Nazis were stopped so that they do not corrupt the corporate environment" or so said the corporate diversity trainer.

As the rant against Christians continued they asked who in the room had been harmed or made to feel ill at ease by Christians. All twenty-eight hands went up except the two of us who were professing Christians. The trainer went on to ask how Christians made the others feel, while we were there in the room, "they make me sick," "they should be tortured so they know how it feels," "they don't know how to think," "there really is no place for them in this world," etc.

"Do you actually think we are less than human because we are Christians?" I finally blurted out. Barely a pause for breath and the trainer chimed in, "Until Christians can learn to accept everyone without judgment on what they do then Christians deserve to be pushed to the margins of our society and our corporate culture."

In short, tolerance is required of everyone and for everyone, except toward Christians. Why are Christians exempt from the dogma of tolerance? No, seriously, why are Christians exempted from the world doctrine of tolerance? I think the answer is found in the Humanist Manifesto 1 and 2; Christians are dangerous to society because they find that faith in a supernatural God and an afterlife gives them the authority and the imperative to warn the world that there is such a thing as sin and that sin leads to eternal destruction. Sin, the very admission of its existence, is the stake through the heart of the doctrine that man is himself god. When man is no longer his own god it becomes apparent that he needs salvation. When the reality of sin is admitted then some things, some sins, become intolerable, and the humanist religion collapses in on itself.





Thursday, December 15, 2011

What Does “Born Gay” Mean?

Recent news items have made me wonder what on earth the expression “born gay” actually means. Before the reflex-driven “duh” responses start getting posted, here is the gist of the confusion.

No person is born with the nutritional requirement or medical condition which obligates them to have sex, as if abstaining would cause them to succumb to the consequence of dying of a heart attack. So, no one is born with the necessity of having sex. Having sex is a choice.

Many people live a long lifetime without ever having sex. Having sex is an action made by an intentional choice of the mind. Similarly, not having sex is a willful choice.

If the sex act is a voluntary act of the will, what does it mean that one is born to have gay sex? No one is born obligated to have any sex at all.

Similarly, pedophiles are not born obligated to have sex, much less obligated to have sex with minors. It is their perverse (and criminal) choice. They could abstain if they so set their mind to do so. This is equally true of those who have sex with corpses, horses, and sheep.

I was not born married to a woman. It was my choice to date one and to eventually marry one. Only then did we both choose to have sex.

Not even love for a specific person is programmed into a person at birth. Many cultures, even today, conduct marriage by parental arrangement. After the couple meet each other for the first time on their wedding day they are expected to develop romantic love for each other that will last for the rest of their lives. In other cultures we carefully choose our marriage partner. But in no case is anyone born hardwired to marry any other specific person. The pairing is a choice or a cultural happenstance, but not something born into the brain of the couple.

Perhaps the argument is not really that one is born under the mindless compulsion to love a specific other person, or to marry a specific kind of person, or to have some predefined type of sex. Perhaps the assertion that one is “born gay” means merely that one is more inclined to probably enjoy sex with someone of the same gender than with someone of a different gender.

But is “probably enjoy sex more” really the same as “born gay”? I knew some individuals who were far more inclined to enjoy being drunk than me. Yet that did not obligate them to consume alcohol, that was their free choice. For others they enjoy recreational drugs more than some. Again, that is what they choose to do since they were not born hardwired to inject refined poppy juice into their veins.

Since courtship, love, and sex are all volitional choices it seems disingenuous to say people are “born gay.” People learn to love a diversity of other people, they learn to court, they learn to drink alcohol, and they learn to do drugs, all as a result of choices.

It might be legitimate for a person to say, “I cannot imagine kissing a person of the opposite gender on their lips and enjoying it.” Fine. Imagining one has a predilection to more enjoy kissing a same gender person does not compel one to put that musing into action.

A married man may imagine he would more enjoy kissing the woman next door than kissing his own wife, but that does not mean he was “born an adulterer” who is unable to control his actions. He can choose to ignore his desires and remain faithfully married. Acting on one’s imagined predilections is a matter of choice, not hardwired programming.

Is anyone really and literally born with a bottle of whiskey in their hands because their brains thought it was inevitable they pursue alcohol? No. Is anyone pre-programmed to be an adulterer? No. Are some people born with a medical condition that compels them to get married? No. All such actions are choices. No one has to have gay sex; that too is a choice.

It just may be the utmost irony that Jesus said some people are born to be eunuchs. Eunuchs are males who simply cannot function sexually.

The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it." (Matthew 19:10-12)

Jesus said that some people have no desire to pursue romance at all; they were born eunuchs. Other people are forced by indentured servitude and slavery to be eunuchs. And still other people make an informed choice to function as if they were eunuchs in order to dedicate themselves to fulltime ministry in the church.

What then is the irony? Jesus commended setting aside the natural sex drive in order to dedicate oneself to fulltime Christian ministry. Some are born eunuchs, others choose to be eunuchs to serve God. The sex drive can be set aside by rational choice. No one is born obligated to exercise their sexual desires. But one can choose to set aside their sexual desires.

Since the exercise of sexuality is entirely an optional free choice of the mind, there seems little impetus to claim anyone is “born gay” or born under the compulsion to participate in obligatory homosexual sex. In America no one is born with the choice pre-made inside their minds for them that they must engage in courtship and sex. It is a choice.

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Note: Though it is evident that the Bible informs the world that to engage in the activity of “gay sex” is a sinful choice, it is never proper to hate those who choose to live that lifestyle. Respectful and kind dialogue is obligatory. Christians must love the sinner as did Jesus. Though, like Jesus demonstrated, it is the outworking of love to explain that sin must be repented of if the sinner wishes to find eternal life with God.


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