Five Minute Friday: Favorite

Gentle Reader,

Seems like I’m not very good at keeping up with the party on the Twitters these days. I miss something special when I’m not able to participate. And it is special. Who but God would use social media to draw His daughters (and a few sons!) from all over the place into one unique writing community? We have many differences. We don’t always agree. Yet we cheer each other on.

Kate and my buddies.

We write about: favorite.

Go.

I am often shocked at the insanity that crosses my path. I shouldn’t be. People are crazy, whether in an official, clinical sense or not. The world makes less and less sense as the days go by. No logical standards seem to apply. Do what you want. Chase your feelings.

Pseudo-intellectual elitism. Arrogance run amok.

People like me are accused of being close-minded. Accused of “being afraid” of “searching.” Afraid of “wrestling” through the “deeper” questions.

It couldn’t possibly be that people like me think that some of the answers presented are wrong. Or just stupid.

The world seems to tilt further on its axis. The spin increases. My head whirls. And so I try to focus on this:

Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; (4)

No matter what anyone says or does, God will never be knocked off of His throne.

That is my favorite truth.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)

Marriage is What Drives Us Apart Today

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

I’ll just get right down to it.

I do not plan to revisit this in future posts. This is not going to become a theme. However, since I have long placed my words on the public buffet table, there’s really no way to avoid the topic. Before we get any further along, allow me to quote John MacArthur, who I don’t agree with on many points of theology, but who expresses it best when he says:

Marriage is not the ultimate battleground, and our enemies are not the men and women who seek to destroy it (2 Corinthians 10:4). The battleground is the Gospel. Be careful not to replace patience, love, and prayer with bitterness, hatred, and politics.

So here we go.

I’m not going to go protest at a gay wedding. I’m not going to refuse to associate with gay people. I wouldn’t shun a gay couple if they moved in next door. I don’t feel the need to bring up the topics of gay marriage or homosexuality in every conversation, Facebook comment or blog post. I’m not going to seek out gay people so I can shout at them. These actions are not only pointless, they are caricatures of what it means to be a Christian.

I’ll keep behaving as I have behaved all along, thanks.

But none of that requires that I say that gay marriage is blessed by God. I’m not going to say that He “created” same-sex unions anymore than He “created” heterosexual promiscuity, the point being that He does not call us to continue living in what He defines as sin. Yes, God loves us as we are and He sent Christ to save us while we were still sinners. Praise Him for that! But that love? It is transformative. It does not say, “Oh, you just go ahead and keep doing what you want.”

The fact that I believe marriage is a God-designed institution made for one man and one woman doesn’t make me a bigot. It doesn’t make me hateful. It doesn’t mean I think I’m better than other people. It doesn’t make me sick or twisted.

All my stance on this issue means is that I am striving to be consistent in my doctrine.

My denomination has issued a statement affirming that which is laid out in our manual of practice. We also stand with the National Association of Evangelicals:

Statement from the Board of General Superintendents, Church of the Nazarene –

Societies across the globe are engaged in conversations to redefine marriage. Media debates, election-day balloting, and governmental court rulings have provided the platform for this redefinition. We believe a biblical view of marriage involves a monogamous, covenantal relationship between a man and a woman. Jesus said, “At the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6NIV).

Today the United States Supreme Court, in the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. We remind our people that while the civil law of yet another country has changed, divine truth has not changed. We will learn how this civil definition functions within the context of our constitutional and religious freedoms. Our commitment to the orthodox biblical Christian faith remains the same. We continue to call Nazarenes around the world to a life of holiness, characterized by holy love and expressed through the most rigorous and consistent lifestyle of sexual purity. We further call our people to a generosity and graciousness of spirit that extends kindness to those who do not share our belief. We pray that God will help us be examples of His truth in a world that needs to see God’s love demonstrated in word and deed more than ever.

Jerry D. Porter
J. K. Warrick
Eugénio R. Duarte
David W. Graves
David A. Busic
Gustavo A. Crocker

Statement from the National Association of Evangelicals –

God designed marriage for humanity. As first described in Genesis and later affirmed by Jesus, marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. This lifelong, sexually exclusive relationship brings children into the world and thus sustains the stewardship of the earth. Biblical marriage —­­ marked by faithfulness, sacrificial love and joy — displays the relationship between God and his people.[1]

While commentators, politicians and judges may revise their understanding of marriage in response to shifting societal trends, followers of Jesus should embrace his clear vision of marriage found in Matthew 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

In its role as a moral teacher, the law now misleads Americans about the true nature of marriage. Evangelicals and other followers of the Bible have a heightened opportunity to demonstrate the attractiveness of loving Christian marriages and families. Evangelicals should renew their commitment to the sacrificial love and covenantal faithfulness to which Jesus calls all husbands and wives.

As witnesses to the truth, evangelicals should be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage. Those who continue to embrace biblical teaching on marriage will increasingly appeal to the First Amendment protection not just for abstract belief, but for the practice of their faith. The National Association of Evangelicals calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

More –

In the 5-4 decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) regrets the court’s shift away from the historic understanding of marriage, but recognizes that the truth about marriage has not changed.

“At the beginning of the Bible, God defined marriage. In the New Testament, Jesus described marriage. Neither asked the Supreme Court for a new definition or description,” said Leith Anderson, NAE president.

The NAE today released a statement about marriage in light of the court’s redefinition, which says in part:

Nothing in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges opinion changes the truth about marriage. What has changed is the legal definition of marriage, which is now at variance with orthodox biblical faith as it has been affirmed across the centuries and as it is embraced today by nearly two billion Christians in every nation on earth.

Anderson said, “As evangelicals, we look to the Bible — not the courts — for guidance on life. Marriage is a God-ordained, covenant relationship between a man and a woman. May this court decision be a clarion call to American evangelicals to proclaim and exhibit the good news about biblical marriage.”

The NAE recognizes that governments at times adopt policies that do not align with biblical values. However, those policies should not require those who follow the clear teachings of the Bible to change their beliefs or practices.

Anderson said, “As we respect a legal ruling with which we do not agree, we ask others to respect our faith and practices even when they disagree with us.”

The NAE calls on evangelicals to be gracious and compassionate to those who do not share their views on marriage and to also advocate for liberty for all who desire to live out their faith. The NAE calls on Congress to enact laws, on the president to implement policies, and on the courts to render judgments that uphold the freedom and human rights of all Americans.

I look to God for direction in all things. His word tells me that the faith has always been counter-cultural. Following Christ has always meant being out of step with the world at large. He defines what is right and what is wrong and will never be knocked off of His throne. Additionally, I am to navigate life with both sobriety and joy, treating everyone I come into contact with as a person, a human being, an image-bearer – whether they agree with me or not.

Nothing else needs to be said.

My journey to faith. (15)

Five Minute Friday: Dream

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com (1)

Gentle Reader,

This was an “I hate everything and pants” sort of week, so I’m glad I got the chance to chat with my online blogging buddies. There is something to be said for a group of diverse people who can come together once a week and lay aside a myriad of differences to encourage each other. We join figurative hands, knowing that we are drawn together by the blood and the love of Christ.

Kate.

The buddies.

We: dream.

Go.

I dream of the day when all of God’s people come together. I dream of that time when issues no longer divide us. I dream of the brightness of eternity, when we finally realize that so much of what we fought over was petty and pointless. I dream of the day when all of our voices are raised as one in praise to the King of Kings. I dream of the day when we reach across the aisles and seek to hear each other’s stories, knowing that each one matters.

I’m thinking about this especially in light of the Charleston shootings and the subsequent calls across the nation for the removal of the Southern Cross flag from all public displays. My view is that all symbols of the Confederacy should have been outlawed during Reconstruction. They represent a dark time in our national history. A time that should be regarded with soberness and reflection.

No, not every person who likes the Southern Cross or the Stars & Bars is racist. That’s too broad a stroke to make. But we need to understand the things we embrace, celebrate or enjoy. We need to understand that these symbols arose out of very real racial oppression. Out of slavery.

This weighs on me a great deal, for the controversy does not divide the nation, but rather exposes the divide already there. The divide that has existed since the first Dutch ship brought the first Africans to this continent. This isn’t about the flags or the statues of Confederate leaders. The flags and the statues aren’t the problem, but the symptom of deeply-held, sinful beliefs and attitudes.

Beliefs and attitudes we may not even know we have.

If Germany can ban the public display of Nazi symbols, surely we can finally do what’s right and ban the public display of Confederate symbols. I cannot help but think that supporting such a band would be a meaningful gesture upon the part of white Christians to our black brothers and sisters. No, it won’t solve the problem. But it would show that we fully and completely understand and acknowledge history. It would communicate that we grasp the power of symbol.

I also think of this in light of my passion to do whatever I can to stand against modern-day slavery. If there were some banner that traffickers rallied to, I would want it shoved in a deep, dark hole and set on fire. Even if it was an innocent piece of cloth to others.

No, nobody alive today experienced or participated in the horrors of Southern slavery, but we are impacted by it every day. Mistrust, suspicion and prejudice run deep on all sides, underneath all skin colors. The Church – made up of people of every shade and hue – must do what we can to show our love for each other. To show that we are eager to remove stumbling blocks out of each other’s way.

Removing Confederate symbols won’t stop racism, but it is one simple, practical and long-overdue step that we can take together.

A step we can take toward the dream of unity.

Stop.

My journey to faith. (15)