America’s Real Problem

If any human society—large or small, simple or complex, based upon the most rudimentary hunting and fishing, or on the whole elaborate interchange of manufactured products—is to survive, it must have a pattern of social life that comes to terms with the differences between the sexes.
—Margaret Mead, anthropologist1

John and Beth had lived in their home for fifteen years before they saw it. Beth noticed it first—a long, thin crack in the living room wall. John made an appointment with a repairman and painter, and after the hired man completed his work, everything looked as good as new.

Then, six weeks later, the crack was back. John called the painter and asked him to return. The painter did so. With putty and paint, he repaired and touched up the wall once more, and all appeared to be well…until about a month later, when the fissure in the living room wall reappeared. This time it was larger and longer than before.

When the repairman came back, he carefully studied the wall and the network of cracks that had infected it. Then he said, “John, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. You don’t have a crack-in-the wall problem; you have a foundation problem. The cracks are symptoms of a bigger issue. The foundation of your house is shifting, and until you repair it, cracks are going to continue to form.”2

In America, we can see “wall cracks” in a great many places. Often we will try to repair the cracks, but our best efforts produce no long-term positive results. Our core problem isn’t one crack here or another there; the breaks and ruptures are symptoms. The real problem is that nationally, our country rests on a shifting foundation. We must repair it!

For the last few weeks I’ve written about transgender bathroom policies that will allow a man who self-identifies as a woman to use the women’s restroom, and a woman who self-identifies as a man to use the men’s room. The fact that such policies make women vulnerable to predators is a real problem—no bathroom policy should compromise women’s safety. There’s another important matter, however, and it relates even more directly to America’s main difficulty. Nationally, we have grown unwilling to affirm the truths that nature declares through biology about being male and female.

Please do not misunderstand. We must have loving concern for the man who feels he is really a woman, and for the woman who believes she’s a man in a female body. Yet, if we’ve come to a place where we’re unwilling to say a biological male is a man even if he feels he is a woman on the inside, then our unwillingness is like a crack in the wall resulting from a soft foundation. Moreover, this reluctance is symptomatic of a much bigger stumbling block: an unwillingness to accept and affirm the truth.

Nationally, the debate over gender identity reflects an unwillingness to accept and affirm the truth.

You may remember that several months ago, Ben Shapiro received a lot of heat for publicly challenging the idea that a biological male who claims to be a woman ought to be called “he” rather than “she.” Calling him “she,” he said, is “mainstreaming delusion.” The other panelists on Dr. Drew’s show were offended, but Shapiro was absolutely right. Watch the most heated part of the exchange below, and read about it here.

The truth, at times, offends. Nevertheless, hearing the truth also can be a first step toward addressing the core problem. Just how bad is our national inability to recognize and declare the truth? Take a look at this video from the Family Policy Institute of Washington (FPIW) and see for yourself.

Note especially the sobering concluding words words of interviewer and host Joseph Blackholm.

It shouldn’t be hard to tell a 5’9” white guy that he’s not a 6’5” Chinese woman, but clearly, it is. Why? What does that say about our culture? And what does that say about our ability to answer questions that actually are difficult?

You see, this brilliant clip showcases America’s real problem. It also demonstrates how we as believers can and should challenge erroneous cultural assumptions. On the April 26th edition of his one-minute radio commentary series “The Point,” John Stonestreet highlighted not only the truth the video exposes, but also the gentle, good-natured prodding Blackholm used to expose it:

These students have been so brainwashed that they’re willing to affirm obvious nonsense. But most laughed at themselves even as they said it. Why? Because they know it’s not true. Even in the midst of so much cultural pressure, self-perception doesn’t change reality.

It’s a good reminder that Christians still have home court advantage, because this is still God’s world. And a few well-placed questions, as Blackholm demonstrated, can reveal nonsense for what it is.

You can hear the entire commentary here.

Another FPIW video also illustrates powerfully the surreal place to which relativism has taken us, as well as our nation’s desperate need to embrace reality, despite our feelings.

As a society, we indeed have come a long way from acknowledging what biology tells us about our lives and identity. Take, for example, the medical community’s approach to someone who is confused about his or her gender. A man’s self-identifying as a woman or vice versa once was called “gender identity disorder,” but now it is called “gender dysphoria.”

One medical website states,

Diagnosis and treatment are important. People with gender dysphoria have higher rates of mental health conditions. Some estimates say that 71% of people with gender dysphoria will have some other mental health diagnosis in their lifetime. That includes mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide attempts.

Instead, might these problems result because, at its root, the individual actually is denying reality? I submit that this is the case. You won’t find that assertion in the popular culture or even, generally speaking, among a great many medical professionals:

The goal is not to change how the person feels about his or her gender. Instead, the goal is to deal with the distress that may come with those feelings.

Talking with a psychologist or psychiatrist is part of any treatment for gender dysphoria. “Talk” therapy is one way to address the mental health issues that this condition can cause.3

Beyond talk therapy, many people choose to take at least some steps to bring their physical appearance in line with how they feel inside. They might change the way they dress or go by a different name. They may also take medicine or have surgery to change their appearance.4

Note this statement in the material quoted above: “many people choose to take at least some steps to bring their physical appearance in line with how they feel inside” [emphasis added]. This may provide some temporary relief, but ultimately it won’t resolve the issue. Living by feelings and continuing to deny reality only deepens the problem, both for the individuals experiencing it, and corporately, on the national level.

Here are three among eight key points made on gender confusion by the American College of Pediatricians, a group of medical professionals that, thankfully, hasn’t succumbed to political correctness. (You can read the entire list here.)

  • Human sexuality is an objective biological binary trait: “XY” and “XX” are genetic markers of health—not genetic markers of a disorder.
  • A person’s belief that he or she is something they are not is, at best, a sign of confused thinking.
  • Rates of suicide are twenty times greater among adults who use cross-sex hormones and undergo sex reassignment surgery, even in Sweden which is among the most LGBQT- affirming countries.

The word health in the first point is a critically important word. Actually, one finds authentic freedom in accepting and affirming the gender of the biological sex he or she was assigned genetically, even before birth. While moving from gender confusion to acceptance of biologically determined reality can be very difficult, the one confused about his or her gender identity won’t find real resolution and freedom without it. Let’s put it another way: Once we affirm the truth, our feelings eventually will align and stabilize. Actually, in embracing truth, we will find fulfillment and contentment that otherwise would prove elusive. Again, the journey is difficult. It often requires professional help, and it certainly cannot be made overnight. Yet the destination makes the journey worth the effort.

In the first hour of Thursday, April 14, 2016 edition of the Eric Metaxas show, Eric interviewed Navy Seal Commander Rorke Denver, author of Worth Dying for: A Navy Seal’s Call to a Nation. During the interview, Metaxas and Denver discussed the current assault on masculinity in American culture, and the importance of a man’s affirming his masculinity and a woman’s affirming her femininity. Note in particular the words I’ve chosen to emphasize with bold type in this exchange.

Metaxas:  What I’ve written about sometimes also is this issue of celebrating manliness, for example, has gone out of fashion—except in the warrior class. I mean, when you watch a move like 13 Hours, or whatever, you see it, right there in front of you. You can’t deny it. But in the wider culture, we don’t talk about what it is to be a man, to be a woman. Those things are sort of politically incorrect. And it’s amazing because it saps the strength that men and women both are meant to have by owning their gender and saying I am this, I am that. And it matters.

Denver: My bride and I talk about it all the time. I feel like we’re a throwback couple. She wants me to be a man and she has no desire to be one herself, as much as she knows she can’t be. And I don’t want to do the things that she does for our family and our kids, these things that I’m absolutely incapable of doing. So we split those jobs, I think traditionally and appropriately, and we’re healthy because of it. I hold things dear that I think, exactly like you’re saying, we don’t value anymore. I mean the fact of the matter is our world has become so litigious and so combative in the wrong way. If somebody says something disrespectful to my bride, they’re going to get punched in the mouth. That’s going to happen. I’ll deal with the fallout after the fact. And she knows she’s with a guy that’s going to do that. And she likes that. And I want to be that type of person. You mess with my kids, you’re going to have a bear to deal with. We’ve gotten away from that, and that’s not a good thing.

Metaxas: In my mind, you’re exactly right, and it amazes me that we’ve so quickly moved away from that kind of thinking.

Many years ago, addressing the issue of sexual roles, an issue that arises from gender identity, psychologist W. Peter Blitchington observed, “The strength of a nation can be fairly effectively gauged by the strength of its families, and the strength of a family can be estimated by the quality of its sexual roles.”5

The strength of a nation can be fairly effectively gauged by the strength of this families, and the strength of a family can be estimated by the quality of its sexual roles.
—W. Peter Blitchington—

In Genesis 1:26-31, we read not only of God’s creative activity, but also of the purposeful assignment He gave to His highest creation, the man and the woman:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. 30 Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. 31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it still is true: In these statements from Genesis reside principles that, when embraced, foster fulfillment with regard to gender identity. God created humanity male and female, and aligning ourselves—individually, corporately, and culturally—with this reality is essential for wholeness and good health.

Because, as long as we keep denying reality and pretending to live contrary to the truth, the cracks on the living room wall of our national “house” will continue to appear.

Related post: Ten Ways Same-Sex Marriage Denies Reality


Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


1Quoted in W. Peter Blitchington, Sex Roles and the Christian Family, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1981), 174.

2Adapted from Tony Evans:



5W. Peter Blitchington, Sex Roles and the Christian Family, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1981), 13.





The Illegitimate Supports of Obergefell—Pillar Number 1: A Faulty Worldview, Part 1

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.
C. S. Lewis

In a previous entry, we observed that Obergefell, the Supreme Court ruling that granted marriage rights to same-sex couples nationwide, is “like the seat on a three-legged stool.” While probably most three-legged stools are sturdy and reliable, Obergefell is not, because all three supports on which it rests—“judicial activism, a faulty worldview, and bullying by militant homosexual activists”—are illegitimate.

Now, Obergefell would not have to be supported by all three of these to be illegitimate; the judicial activism alone that lies beneath it renders it fully unconstitutional. Still, the ruling’s additional two supports reinforce its illegitimacy. Despite this, we likely will not see widespread recognition of the ruling as invalid without persistent creative activism from those who understand the counterfeit nature of all three of the decision’s supports. I use the term “creative activism” to convey the need for communicating the truth in innovative and vivid ways—ways that stick in hearers’ minds and compel them to think. The non-violent protests of the civil rights movement serve as an example for one facet of this potential effort, but we recall that the civil rights movement involved much more than peaceful protests. It also included appeals to justice in letters to editors of local newspapers (a forerunner to today’s social media), legislative efforts, litigation, sermons, public debates, and private conversations. All of these avenues will need to be used in the effort to restore natural marriage.1,2,3 Of course, we will need courageous leaders in this movement. We already can be thankful for leaders like Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, for taking a bold stand recently to restore natural marriage in his state.4,5 Although you’ll hear otherwise from the mainstream media, Chief Justice Moore’s action was and is fully constitutional.

This week and next I’d like to focus on the faulty worldview on which Obergefell rests—as well as the erroneous conclusions it espouses. In subsequent entries, we’ll give consideration to judicial activism and militant gay bulling as the additional two legs of the ruling.

A worldview is a set of assumptions through which a person interprets life and everything else around him. Thus, a person’s worldview informs him or her about God, life, sin, death, eternity, right and wrong, human relationships, and a host of other issues. Often an individual embraces a worldview without consciously thinking about its components. People acquire or “pick up” beliefs from various sources, not the least of which is the culture surrounding them.

As we noted in a previous post, some worldviews have theistic implications while others have atheistic implications. While it’s true God’s existence can’t be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, it can’t be disproved, either. All worldviews, therefore, are faith systems. Individuals who espouse an atheistic worldview may praise the virtues of “science” and decry what they see as the negative effects of “religion,” but from a practical standpoint, they actually are promoting an atheistic religion, one that places its faith in science and human wisdom rather than God.

For many years, the prevailing worldview in America was Christianity.

first prayer


The inaugural prayer of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 20, 1953
For more information, click here.

Even people who weren’t Christians embraced and upheld biblical teachings about right and wrong and the value of human life, to name just two important arenas. Today Secularism and a related worldview, Secular Humanism, prevail. Secularism is “an atheistic and materialistic worldview that advocates for a public society free from the influence of religion.”6 Yet, as we have just indicated, those advocating these beliefs are promoting just that—beliefs. Theirs is a faith system, too!

Secular Humanism is

A religious and philosophical worldview that makes mankind the ultimate norm by which truth and values are to be determined; a worldview that reveres human reason, evolution, naturalism, and secular theories of ethics while rejecting every form of supernatural religion.7

Secular Humanism and Secularism so overlap that we will consider them to be one and will refer to this belief system by both names. It is this worldview that has led to Obergefell and on which Obergefell rests. A key component of this set of faith assumptions is moral relativism, which exalts the individual and upholds the individual’s right to make up his or her own truth, including standards of right and wrong. By extension moral relativism can manifest itself in the culture as well—with a cultural consensus of beliefs about right and wrong, good and bad. The point is that according to Secularism, there are no objective, absolute standards of right and wrong, no unchanging moral principles outside of individuals and society that apply to all people, at all times, in all places, under all circumstances. Does the belief that absolutes don’t exist coincide with what we observe in the world around us? This is a vital question!

Abraham Lincoln is credited with this insightful quote: “How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”


It might be humorous to call a canine tail a leg, but marriage is a serious issue. Secularism, however, is both attractive and intoxicating, even blinding societies that embrace it. Unfortunately, our society has become so blinded it is pretending a same-sex relationship can be a marriage—but of course the fantasy never will make it one. It will, however, bring severe consequences, since it seeks to change an unbending reality in nature and in human relationships. As we said last week, “Reality is our friend if and only if we cooperate with it and conform our perspectives and actions to it.”

In next week’s post, rather than attempting to refute Secular Humanism’s assumptions, we will present some of its conclusions manifested in the Obergefell decision and discuss how they conflict with reality. This means we will look at ways the Obergefell decision is harmful to both individuals and society at large, and why we must reverse course. Be sure to return for that important discussion!

Part 2 is available here.

Copyright © 2016 B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Check out the new category of articles in Breaking Bread (a feature that is easily accessible from the menu)—Foundational Principles of the Christian Faith.




3See item #6 in



6Jeff Myers and David A. Nobel, Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2015), 76.

7Ibid., 80.







Reflections on Repentance

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
—Proverbs 14:12; 16:25—


Repentance means taking a U-turn.

Repentance is a tough sell. For one thing, all people need to hear and heed the call to repent, but only a handful actually do. For another, the message of repentance is difficult to deliver. In fact, more than one of God’s spokesmen in the Bible resisted a divine assignment to preach it.

God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and essentially tell him to repent of holding the Hebrew people in bondage. Moses came up with one excuse after another and obeyed God only after trying His patience and running completely out of “reasons” to turn Him down.

Jonah is the classic example of a reluctant preacher. Did he become that example, at least in part, because God called him to preach repentance? Yet, in the end, even the Ninevites, notoriously wicked though they were, received Jonah’s warning and humbled themselves before the Lord. God spared them, but unfortunately, Jonah didn’t even allow himself to rejoice with God over his hearers’ response. As a result, He had some serious repenting to do himself.

It should not surprise us that repentance is highlighted frequently in the Bible, because no one can be made right with God without it. We see it in both the Old and New Testaments, and with varying degrees of receptivity. In addition to Moses’ and Jonah’s preaching, here are a few examples.

  • Noah had 120 years to build the ark that sheltered him, his family, and two of every species of animal from God’s judgment in the form of widespread deadly floodwaters. During that time, other people also would have been saved had they acknowledged God and His coming judgment—but no one did. Surely Noah urged them to come to safety, for he was a “preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). Acknowledging God in a way that would have compelled a person to step on the ark also would have compelled that person to repent of his or her sins.
  • After King David had committed adultery and murder, Nathan confronted him about his sins. David confessed and repented. God forgave him, but some of the damage could not be reversed, and David reaped bitter fruit in his family relationships thereafter (2 Sam. 12:1-14; Ps. 51).
  • In Jeremiah 7:16-27, the Lord warned Jeremiah that his hearers would not listen but would remain stubborn and unrepentant.
  • Significantly, the message given to John the Baptist, the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah, was a message of repentance (Matt. 3:1-10; Acts13:24-25). Why did he not first call on people to celebrate or to praise God? Repentance was paramount.
  • Jesus declared that repentance is essential to salvation (see Luke 13:1-5) and that few people would be saved (see Matt.7:13-14).
  • At Pentecost, Peter preached a bold sermon urging people to repent and continued preaching repentance for the rest of his ministry (Acts 2:38-41; 3:19-21; 5:29-31; 8:18-23; 11:1-18; 2 Pet. 3:9).
  • Paul preached repentance during his entire ministry as well (see Acts 17:30 20:21; 26:19-20; Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:9-10; 12:21; 2 Tim. 2:24-26).

Why is repentance so widely avoided? As Scripture declares, Satan has blinded people to the truth (see 2 Cor. 4:3-4). Perhaps one way he does this is by promoting a short-term perspective.

Imagine you are a grain of sand in the top portion of an hourglass. In this imaginary scenario you are not accompanied by other grains of sand but are by yourself. You enjoy plenty of space and lots of latitude; you call the shots. Traveling downward through the narrow neck of the hourglass is, for the purposes of our illustration, representative of repentance. All you can see as you look down that path is restriction of your freedom, loss of independence, and an end to any and all enjoyment in life. Will you go that way? “Never!” You tell yourself.

Yet in reality, what lies beyond the narrow neck? A new, wide world of opportunity! A world of freedom, though here we clearly are talking about a different kind of freedom than the one you now know. Yes, the new world involves guidelines for holy living, but it also involves a new outlook that chances your desires.

A person certainly can repent and enter the new arena without prior knowledge of the new kind of freedom that will be his on the other side. Indeed, he can’t know a great deal about it (see 1 Cor. 2:14). He must first understand how hopeless his situation is without Christ because of the requirements of God’s law (see Gal. 3:24). Still, in addition to this, if more sinners caught glimpses of the other side, they might more readily turn to God. Only God can convict them and convince them of such truths, so we need to pray He would do so. Here are some declarations and observations that capture aspects of the new arena—and that describe the old one. Let’s look at some Scripture passages first, then some quotations from various Christian leaders.

Scripture Places the Two Arenas in Stark Contrast

  • Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). He also said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24-25).
  • Jesus also declared, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
  • These statements of Jesus also are especially pertinent to our discussion: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and by burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
  • In Romans 7:15-24, Paul wrote of being enslaved to his fleshly nature (note that this passage climaxes with a cry of desperation from the apostle): “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Then, in 7:25–8:2, Paul wrote with obvious joy, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Freedom on the other side of repentance? Yes! Jesus makes this a reality for those who trust Him and rely on Him for strength for daily living!

Christian Leaders Give Insights Regarding the Two Arenas

  • Ravi Zacharias said, “Jesus Christ did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came to make dead people live” ([Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000], 219). Thus, the top half of the hourglass represents death, and the bottom half (the world after repentance), life.
  • Josh McDowell has said that many people think of freedom as being able to go out and do whatever they want to do, but that isn’t freedom at all. True freedom is having the power to do what you ought to do. The top portion of the hourglass, then, is a world of restrictions that seem like freedom, and the bottom is an arena of freedom that seems overly restrictive to the many who aren’t there.
  • In a Christmas sermon, Dr. Francis Schaeffer declared (note especially the statement we have italicized): “When we perceive the simplicity and yet the grandeur of what is involved, we are overwhelmed. The second person of the Trinity lies in the manger for a reason. Because He loves the world, He has come not just to eliminate the peripheral results of man’s fall (though these will be totally removed at His second coming); He is here to cut the nerve of man’s real dilemma, to solve the problem from which all other problems flow. The ‘condition of man’ is not what modern man thinks it is. Man is a sinner who needs an overwhelming love. Jesus has come to save His people from their sins. This is not to say that He has no interest in…other things now, but we must not get the matters reversed—the central thing is central” (Francis Schaeffer, “What Difference Has Looking Made? (A Christmas Study)” No Little People, in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 3: A Christian View of Spirituality, [Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1982] 123-124). While with God’s help, the sinner repents—he or she turns away from sin to God—God brings about a transformation in that person’s life on the basis of Christ’s redemptive work on the cross. This is why Jesus came into the world. Among other things, therefore, repentance involves a recognition of the true condition of the human heart.
  • Note the words to the second stanza of the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation” by German theologian Joachim Neander (1650-1680). Especially notice the italicized words.

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
How thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

In the days, weeks, and months ahead, repentance will remain important, but I believe it will even take on an unprecedented urgency for our nation. As believers, we affirm that no one can get to the new world of life, freedom, and opportunity without repenting of his or her sins and trusting Christ as Savior. We affirm as well that America, as a nation, is at a crossroads. She will not survive as a free country if her people do not experience a spiritual awakening that involves repentance. Let us boldly declare the message of repentance in the context of the gospel given to us by our Lord, and let us remain confident concerning its message.

Restrictive though it may seem, genuine repentance leads to authentic freedom.


Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Compassion’s Mandate

In the public debate over same-sex marriage, advocates of natural marriage have defended God’s design for marriage in numerous ways. For example, we have talked about every child’s critical need for a mom and a dad. Sadly, divorce is real, and it leaves many kids without a mom or without a dad. Even so, in these kids’ situations the traditional definition of marriage has left them with at least the concept of a mom and dad. Same-sex marriage creates motherless and fatherless families by design. It is discriminatory in the worst sort of way to advocate a model of marriage that says that neither a woman nor a man has anything unique to bring to the task of parenting!

Another strong argument we have made is that if marriage is redefined to mean either two people of the opposite sex or two people of the same sex, then there can be no solid rationale for saying marriage must be between just two people. The door to polygamy—and to many other types of unions—will be thrust wide open. We cannot take this argument lightly, either.

Today I’d like to highlight one of the points that, for the most part, has been missing from the public case for traditional marriage. That point is this: Homosexuality itself is harmful. From one perspective, we can understand why this element has not been strongly emphasized. First, we respect people’s right to live as they choose to live. We are not vying to become the moral police. Also, we realize that the debate over the definition of marriage has not been about the legality of homosexual sex. Lawrence vs. Texas was a landmark Supreme Court decision that was handed down on June 26, 2003. In it the Supreme Court effectively struck down laws against sodomy nationwide.1 Pro-family advocates understood then and understand now that no one can force adults to refrain from engaging in homosexual activity if they have decided to do so.

Yet at the same time we also have recognized that laws against sodomy were the linchpin of a solid legal platform for maintaining the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. (No, these laws were not unjustifiably put in place.) Furthermore, we have understood the harmful and even devastating implications of redefining marriage. While redefining marriage has repercussions well beyond the issue of homosexuality (polygamy, for example, may not involve homosexual sex), the fact that homosexuality is being used as a crowbar to redefine marriage compels us to examine its dangers.

Let’s review some essential truths about homosexuality from a biblical perspective and from a health perspective. Though far from exhaustive, our discussion will highlight some critical issues. After even a discussion as brief as this one, we may want to consider ways to make the issue of homosexuality more central in the debate over marriage.

A Biblical Perspective

In a secular society, the strongest public arguments do not begin with “The Bible says….” Nevertheless, we as Christians—people who believe God’s perspective always is paramount—need to understand the Bible’s warnings against homosexuality. Unfortunately, discussions about these warnings have been woefully lacking in our churches. That needs to change! Among other things, Christian leaders need to equip believers, especially young people, to refute pro-gay theology, which “explains” why and how the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality, even though Bible passages are clear on the subject and even though the pro-gay interpretation stands contrary to the historic position of the Christian church.

What has been the church’s position? It has affirmed clear biblical teaching. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul wrote that those who continue to rebel against God are without excuse because they deny what they know intuitively about God and worship His creation rather than Him. So “God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” (Rom. 1:24). Paul went on to describe homosexual activity among women and among men but named other sins as well (see vv. 18-32).

James M. Boice observes that people tend to think of God’s giving people up to their desires (see vv. 24,26) as being akin to releasing a porcelain pitcher in outer space and letting it float harmlessly away. Not so. It really is like letting go of the pitcher on earth, where gravity causes it to drop to the ground and possibly shatter completely.2 Although Paul mentioned numerous sins in connection with his discussion about God’s releasing people to their evil passions, there is no question that homosexuality is associated with this divine action.

People tend to think of God’s giving people up to their desires (see Rom. 1:24,26) as being akin to releasing a porcelain pitcher in outer space and letting it float harmlessly away. Not so. It really is like letting go of the pitcher on earth, where gravity causes it to drop to the ground and possibly shatter completely.

Furthermore, homosexual sins are unique. In Romans 1:26-27, Paul wrote they were “against nature” or unnatural. By contrast, heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage, though sinful, is natural. Dr. Boice says that while we need God’s Word to know that heterosexual sex outside of marriage is wrong, we don’t even need it to know homosexuality is wrong: “A look at one’s sexual apparatus should convince anyone that practices of this kind are not…meant to be.”3 The fact that so many seem to be oblivious to this is strong evidence of Satan’s work to blind people to truths that otherwise would be crystal clear (see 2 Cor. 4:3-4).

Unfortunately, some have erroneously concluded from Romans 1:18-32 that homosexuals have strayed beyond God’s saving reach. We cannot conclude this at all! First Corinthians 6:9-10 sounds out an ominous warning: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Then, thankfully, verse 11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” While verse 11 reassures us, it in no way should diminish the warnings against homosexuality we see in other places in Scripture. Even so, the Bible is unmistakably clear: Homosexual activity is like other sins in that it is disobedience and an affront to God. (By the way, in Scripture, homosexuality isn’t an identity, but an activity.4) God forgives homosexual deeds when the sinner repents and relies on Jesus’ death as full payment for them. Thank God for His grace!

A Health Perspective

A great deal could be written here on the health consequences of homosexual sex, because homosexuality is linked to numerous significant health risks. Actually, were they widely known and understood, the health risks associated with gay sex would be the Achilles heel of the gay rights movement. Here we’ll specifically note just two potential adverse consequences. Syphilis is now considered by the Centers for Disease Control as “predominantly an MSM [men who have sex with men] epidemic.”5 Also, the life-expectancies of homosexuals are significantly diminished—even by as much as 20 years for men!6 Read this article7 to learn about other serious health risks for both men and women. Be forewarned: This information is difficult to read. When we think about how these diseases are devastating people made in God’s image, our hearts break!


Joe Dallas, a former homosexual, a Christian, and an expert on pro-gay theology, writes that the contemporary divide between truth and practice has been large enough to set the stage for a number of falsehoods to make their way into the church and take hold. Mr. Dallas quotes J. Stephen Lang, who describes the situation this way: “Love is understandable—warm and fuzzy. Doctrine, on the other hand, sounds cold, difficult, and demanding.”8 We also could add that facts often can come across as offensive and harsh. Yet when we don’t counterbalance our desire for “warm and fuzzy” with a loyalty to the truth, says Dallas, pro-gay theology, even with its inherent dangers and falsehoods, is quite alluring!

You see, love seeks that which is best for the one loved—even when working toward attaining the best is difficult. “Clear thinking,” writes A. J. Hoover, requires you to learn “to control your emotions.”9 The church must not be so afraid of offending people that it fails to tell them the truth. Speaking the truth in love (see Eph. 4:15) actually is compassion’s mandate. In the end, failing to convey the truth actually is unloving in the worst sort of way.

We cannot, therefore, continue to remain silent in our churches on this issue. Love and compassion compel us to speak out. How will you respond?



2James Montgomery Boice, Romans: An Expositional Commentary—Volume 1, Justification by Faith, Romans 1–4, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991), 178-179.

3Boice, 181.

4Joe Dallas and Nancy Heche, eds., The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 99.





9A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Esse quam videri

He was a military leader like none other. His exploits “were considered classics of military strategy.”1 He’s been described as “more courageous” than all other soldiers, “more imaginative” than all his fellow generals, and “more daring” than all other field officers.2 Serving “with distinction in one battle after another,”3 this American military leader at one point even used his own savings to help the American cause.4 He had his horse shot out from under him during one battle, but he acted so courageously that Congress gave him a promotion in rank. Also, “as a token of their admiration of his gallant conduct,” lawmakers awarded him a new horse.5

Yet, even before the war had reached an end, he seriously considered leaving the military. The commander of the armed forces urged him to stay, however, because he valued his contributions to the war effort and his savvy as a military leader.6 The commander later appointed him to serve as commandant at Philadelphia.7 Eventually, based on this same commander’s trust, this military leader was given command of West Point, a strategic stronghold during the war.8

This general was none other than Benedict Arnold. Arnold had grown resentful when other, less experienced men had been promoted, even as he was not. Also, having grown convinced that the Colonists would lose the war, he decided to turn against them.9 Following through, he gave detailed plans of West Point to British Major John André. Had André been able to deliver the plans to other British soldiers, the Americans probably would have lost the war.10 Fortunately, however, the British officer was captured before he was able to complete his mission.

While a great many words can be used to describe Arnold’s treason, one stands out. At Arnold’s hands (and, we also might say, at the hands evil spiritual forces, for America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles) a lie threatened what would become American independence, freedom, and liberty. Put another way, it was only when the truth about Arnold was discovered and necessary actions were taken that Arnold’s deception was rendered powerless.

This is not a discussion of military tactics, including lies and spying during warfare. Rather, the lesson of Benedict Arnold is presented to illustrate profound spiritual truths, including the potentially devastating power of a lie and the liberating power of the truth to overcome it.

The writings of the apostle Paul echo these principles. In what we now know as chapter 10 of his second letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul declared,

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The word translated strongholds in verse 4 is especially significant. Used nowhere else in the New Testament, this Greek word can mean “a castle or a fortress.” It doesn’t mean a literal building in 2 Corinthians 10:4, however—it refers to the ideas on which an individual relies, the rationale a person uses to bolster and defend his opinion against God’s reality or truth.11 Verse 5 affirms this very thing when it elaborates on what “pulling down strongholds” (v. 4) means. Again, verse 5 says, “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Couldn’t we say, then, that a stronghold is either a lie or a system of lies standing contrary to the truth of God? How else can a lie be overcome but by its corresponding truth? The Latin phrase Esse quam videri, which means “To be, rather than to seem,”12 says it succinctly. This is the motto for the state of North Carolina.


All the biblical truths we’ve highlighted thus far are entirely consistent with everything Paul wrote about spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6:10-17. Of all the equipment in the armor of God—

  • the belt of truth,
  • the breastplate of righteousness,
  • the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace,
  • the shield of faith,
  • the helmet of salvation, and
  • the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s Word—

only the sword is an offensive weapon. Strongholds cannot be torn down when we hold an exclusively defensive posture. And what is God’s Word? Jesus revealed the answer to this question in John 17:17. It is truth. We note that since truth is represented by both a belt and a sword, it has both defensive and offensive capabilities. Only truth, however, is an offensive weapon.

Eve learned that God’s Word is truth the hard way (just as we also often have). The serpent questioned God in her presence in Genesis 3:1; then in verse 4 he flatly contradicted what God had said. In other words, he lied. While Eve thought eating the forbidden fruit would liberate her, she found that it actually put her, and all of humanity as well, in bondage.13

Just as was true at the dawn of time and centuries ago in American history, lies continue to pose ominous threats to liberty. We must never underestimate the destructive potential of such lies—including the lie that the God-ordained institutions of marriage and family can be redefined to mean whatever government wants them to mean, to affirm whatever behavior patterns people find enjoyable and acceptable, to normalize behavior that goes against nature and nature’s God. As a nation, we will follow this lie to our own peril.

Fully armed for spiritual warfare, Christians must engage this falsehood head-on to tear it down and to reestablish God’s truth on marriage and the family as the cultural standard and as national policy, just as has been the case in our history until only recently. We do this not to enslave, but to liberate! Indeed, as Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Let us keep in mind that as Americans, we have been fortunate to live in a land where the founding documents, including most obviously the Declaration of Independence in this case, affirm that liberties come from God. Contending for the biblical view of marriage and the family is therefore American in the most authentic sense of the word.

Recalling Benedict Arnold once again, let’s make just a few more observations.

  • The truth about Benedict Arnold was offensive—and
  • the lie about him was pleasurable to hear. Even so,
  • the lie about Arnold was far more destructive than it was soothing; and,
  • because the Colonists were willing to respond, the truth was far more liberating than it was tough to accept.


George Washington, the commander of the armed forces who previously had praised Arnold, communicated to his men the news of the discovery Arnold’s treachery. He described the treason as being “of the blackest dye” but joyfully affirmed that it had “been timely discovered, to prevent…fatal misfortune.” He added, “The Providential train of circumstances which led to it affords the most convincing proof that the liberties of America are the object of Divine Protection.”14 He conveyed the same basic idea when he used these words to summarize the situation: “In no instance since the commencement of the War has the interposition of Providence appeared more conspicuous.”15

Thankfully, God intervened in America’s early days to give people an opportunity to allow the truth about Benedict Arnold to liberate.16 Let’s pray that He will intervene again and that the truth about marriage and the family will be upheld. Whether or not He intervenes through the Supreme Court, we as His people must cooperate with Him to lovingly yet forthrightly and boldly contend for the truth about marriage and the family in all our spheres of influence—not to impose anything on anyone, but for the benefit of all, that all may enjoy true freedom and liberty.

Read the Pledge in Solidarity to Defend Marriage.


Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Update, added July 7, 2016

Here’s the point of application for us today. At the most rudimentary of levels, homosexuality is a lie! Same-sex marriage is a lie! So are other sins. They are lies because they deny the realities that God has set up in human relationships and in the natural world. When we understand this, we can comprehend the urgency of warning those who have been deceived and encouraging them to take a path consistent with the truth.


1Brad Cummings and Lance Wubbels, General Editors, The Founders’ Bible: The Origin of the Dream of Freedom, (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road Publishers, 2012), 1637.


4Toby Mac and Michael Tait, Under God, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2004), 162.


6Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 163.


8Brad Cummings and Lance Wubbels, General Editors, The Founders’ Bible: The Origin of the Dream of Freedom, (Newbury Park, CA: Shiloh Road Publishers, 2012), 1638.

9Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 163.

10Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 162.



13Star Parker’s story is but one modern example of this same principle. Read it and listen to it at

14,15Toby Mac and Michael Tait, 164.

16While it’s true that the lie Arnold perpetrated was, in one sense, a different kind of lie than the lies promoted about marriage today, in another sense a lie is a lie. We note again that we are using Arnold’s deception to illustrate a point. Focus on the parallels between these scenarios and the lessons that arise from history.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Clarity Needed

When a church renovated its worship center, the decision was made to hang a beautiful portrait of Christ on the wall directly behind the pulpit. When the pastor got up to deliver his message on the Sunday morning after the renovation was complete, a little boy in the congregation who was still new to the church’s worship services asked his mother, “Mom, who is that man who stands so we can’t see Jesus?”1

Portraits of Christ are important. They’re particularly important to God—especially those He Himself presents in Scripture. We need to make sure that we never obstruct them—that we never “stand so people can’t see Jesus.” Instead, we must faithfully uphold these images so they can convey all God wants them to convey.

Just ask Moses. In a fit of uncontrolled emotion, he distorted a picture of Christ that God intended to present to Israel, and, through the pages of Scripture, to future generations. Making their way across the wilderness after being freed from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites lacked water, and they grumbled and complained. Moses and Aaron met with the Lord, who instructed Moses, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and the animals” (Num. 20:8).

Moses, however, didn’t speak to the rock. Overcome with frustration and anger, he took his rod and hit it twice. While life-sustaining water did pour out, God punished Moses for not obeying Him: “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (v. 12). The place was called Meribah, which comes from the Hebrew verb meaning “to contend” or “to argue.”

Why was God so upset? Disobedience always displeases the Lord, but here something else was involved as well. Exodus 17 indicates that earlier, at a place called Rephidim, a similar situation unfolded. Water was nowhere to be found. The people complained there too, but God told Moses what He needed to do to set the stage for a miracle. “Behold,” the Lord said, “I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink” (Ex. 17:6). Moses obeyed God, and even though the people had grumbled, they had water to drink. This place also was called Massah, meaning test, and Meribah, the same name given to the location mentioned in Numbers 20. The differences in what occurred in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20, however, indicate these were two different places.

Pieter de Grebber, Moses Striking the Rock

We need to understand that at the Meribah in Numbers 20, Moses ruined a divinely orchestrated picture of Christ. Jesus is the Rock (see 1 Cor. 10:1-4; Eph. 2:19-21; 1 Pet. 2:4-8). He also is “living water” (John 4:10-14). He had to die, or be struck, only once. Based on His death, salvation comes to all who repent of their sins and trust Him for forgiveness and eternal life. In other words, sinners need only speak to Him—for, having already died, He stands ready, willing, able, and even anxious to forgive (see Heb. 7:25-28).

We see just how important this portrait of Jesus was to God when we realize that because of Moses’ disobedience, God would not let His servant enter the promised land! Later, when the Israelites were about to take possession of the land, Moses recounted that he had asked God to reconsider, but the Lord said, “Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter” (Deut. 3:26). Does this sound harsh? If it does, we need to remember that God is God. His judgments don’t reflect His opinions but reality.

In the New Testament, we see that a similar situation unfolded in the Corinthian Church with regard to the Lord’s Supper. Paul wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 11:

27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

In other words, some had died because they failed to approach the Lord’s Supper with necessary reverence and respect. Remember—the Lord’s Supper is a divinely created picture of the sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood on the cross.

We can be assured that God is keenly aware of divine signs and images that are being misrepresented today. Thousands of years ago, God placed the first rainbow in the sky as a reminder of His faithfulness after the flood of Noah (see Gen. 9:8-17), but in 2015 many people see rainbow colors and celebrate evil in the name of the politically correct principles of “diversity” and “inclusiveness.” Then there’s marriage—a sacred institution ordained and instituted by God (see Gen. 2:18-25) as well as a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church (see Eph. 5:22-32). Needless to say, that picture is being muddied and distorted everywhere people look. If marriage is redefined in America, how can it possibly continue to represent in society anything close to the relationship God ordained it to represent? If we lose marriage, we lose an image that helps people understand why Christ died. While we cannot expect non-Christians to act as Christians, neither can we ignore the fact that America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and for many years upheld those ideals.2 Yet in recent decades in this country, we have, as a nation, kicked God out of public life. Given all the opportunities we as Americans have had to hear and respond to God’s truth, we must understand that God will hold us accountable.

What, then, does it mean in our day to stand so people can see Jesus clearly? We can cite at a growing number of examples of believers who are so standing, including Barronelle Stutzman of Richland, Washington, who is putting her livelihood and all her possessions on the line to uphold genuine marriage.3 Oregonians Aaron and Melissa Klein also are taking a public stand to present Jesus with clarity, even at great risk to themselves and their livelihood.4

“But how,” someone might ask, “do such actions reflect Christ’s love?” We need to understand that it never can be loving to participate in a lie, which is exactly what Stutzman, the Kleins, and many others are now being told they must do. Pray for an increasing number of pastors to have courage to publicly stand with these believers and to explain to their people the importance of biblical marriage.

Greg Quinlan is a former homosexual. Today, he serves as a lobbyist for the New Jersey Family Policy Council. His perspective on ministry to homosexuals is rooted in part in a clear understanding of the way the early Christians lived out their faith in the first century. Here are his insights.

The reason we see so much of a proliferation of homosexuality in our society now is because we live in a sex-saturated culture.…The first century church thrived in a hyper-sexualized homosexual culture in an age of sexual anarchy. So can the 21st century church. We do not need to compromise our message in order to bring homosexuals into the church or accommodate them.…The truth is the truth, and if we love someone, we will tell them the truth that homosexuality is destructive to someone. I know because I watched 100 of my friends die of AIDS.5

Certainly there are many inappropriate and unloving ways to uphold the truth, but there never can be a loving way to distort it.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.


1Adapted from Vance Havner; see

2Copy and paste this web address in your browser:





For further reading:

Two Ways We Should NOT Respond to the “Redefinition” of Marriage

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

April 10, 2015