Five Minute Friday (I’m Late…Again): Hope

Jesus at the center of it allJesus at (2)

Gentle Reader,

I don’t know what it is about Thursday evenings all of sudden, but I can’t seem to get in on the Twitter action.

It might be because I can tell that I’m heading into another season of hating the internet and all things technological.

The Luddite in me struggles.

Linking up (very late) with Kate and the crew. We: hope.

Go.

I’m feeling cantankerous.

And weary.

I’m so tired of all this pseudo-intellectual, pretentious nonsense that passes itself off as wisdom and knowledge these days. Tired of bad doctrine like open theism being so casually embraced by the Church. Tired of this bill calling for the removal of the words “husband” and “wife” from federal documents. (‘Cause we’re all just so stupid and discriminatory and people are special snowflakes and that’s SO MUCH MORE IMPORTANT than addressing things like unemployment, poverty, domestic violence, systemic racism, human trafficking, education, soaring federal deficit, equal pay for women, the lack of proper support and care for veterans….) Tired of people who just absolutely refuse to think through to the logical conclusion of anything. Tired of living in a post-modern word that rejects metanarrative and concrete word meaning – until that doesn’t work and then suddenly language matters, but only in the way deemed appropriate and necessary by those who would seek to redefine words.

It all makes me very cranky.

In the midst of the crank, what fascinates me is how so much of this, both within the Church and without, is emotion-driven. “I don’t like the way you/that makes me feel, so you/that are/is the enemy and must be destroyed.” There is no rational reasoning. There is no agreeing to disagree and live in peace. There must be total acquiescence and silencing.

Furthermore, the louder the screams, the more defensive and hot-headed a person gets, the more insecure they are. If you really believe what you believe about something, anything, another person disagreeing with you or having a different viewpoint isn’t going to send you into a tailspin. Confidence in a position means that you don’t have to have everyone on your side. The squashing of dissent is a sign of fear and a desire to control.

And that is why I am so glad that my hope is in Christ. He never says to sue the government or scream at your neighbor or redefine/censor language or pitch a big, fat, stinking fit when someone disagrees. He says, “Look to Me. Follow Me.” Whether anyone else does or not is irrelevant. Because it’s not about forcing an agenda on anyone. It’s not about feelings.

It’s all about Him.

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 doctrine, 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 19:4-6 NIV).

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.

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.

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. It does not matter how governments rule on this or other positions. God is supreme. With this in mind, I will continue to learn to navigate life with both sobriety and joy, confident in my position as a daughter of the King. I will strive to treat 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)

More Than a Mistake

Along the Way @ mlsgregg.com

Gentle Reader,

As the Duggar family’s saga continues to play out beneath the gaze of the public eye, I am amazed at some of the responses to the situation.

Not the responses of non-believers. I expect a certain amount of schadenfreude.

From both without and within the faith, I expect articles to be written discussing that this mess is a very real and possibly far-too-common consequence of fundamentalism’s insistence on the rigid repression of absolutely every little bit of sexuality before marriage. I expect people to point out that, perhaps, isolating children from the rest of the world is not, in fact, a good thing, as they do not have a chance to develop healthy relationships with their peers of both genders. I expect people to wonder at how this was hushed-up and seemingly never appropriately addressed.

What I did not expect are the responses of some of my fellow Christians. An ugly attitude among the people of God reveals itself yet again.

Let us be clear: There is no sin that God cannot or will not forgive if we but ask. We have trouble embracing this fact in cases like this, but it is nonetheless true. If Josh Duggar truly repented, then he is forgiven. Only he and God know the truth. But let us be equally clear: What Josh Duggar did to his sisters was not a “mistake.” This was not a couple of little kids playing “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” It was not a “youthful indiscretion.” He did not take the car for a joyride or sneak a beer from the fridge. He didn’t kiss the similar-aged babysitter and cop a feel.

Duggar made a decision. He chose to fondle the breasts and genitals of his sisters. He chose to do this at an age when he knew that this was wrong. He chose to take advantage of children.

He committed a crime. And escaped punishment.

It’s wrong to minimize the situation or downplay the facts. It’s wrong to shrug our shoulders and say, “Well, we’re all sinners.” Yes, of course we are. And of course all sin separates us from God and of course it’s all the same in His eyes. But for us, people living on this day, different sins impact us and others in varying ways. The damage in a family as the result of a child shoplifting is not equal to the damage in a family as the result of children being molested.

Church, the world is watching. They notice when we uncritically support those who should be rightly scrutinized and questioned. They notice when we fail to support those who have been victimized. They notice when we shift the blame, however subtly, onto their shoulders. While I don’t think that anyone in the Duggar family needs to be put before a firing squad, I do think that we should accept that what happened was more than a mistake or an indiscretion. It was a grievous sin with lasting consequences. This is not an inappropriate judgment. This not the cry of blood-lust. (It’s also not a left-wing conspiracy or a movement to “take down” Christianity in America, but that’s beside the point).

I sincerely hope that Josh Duggar has repented and that whatever counsel he did receive was godly. I hope that he went to each person he hurt and apologized with humility and brokenness. I hope he vowed never to do it again and kept that vow. I hope each of the girls has found a way to heal and move on with their lives.

I also hope that we, the Church, can finally come to a place where we recognize that sexual abuse of any form is not okay. I know too many who have been hurt in this way and it does them no good when we can’t or won’t confront and acknowledge the full horror of their experience. It does them no good when we blow smoke or coddle the perpetrators.

It cannot be defended. It cannot be justified. It cannot be ignored.

My journey to faith. (15)