Responding Biblically to a Tolerant World

It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills.
Adrian Rogers


Key point: The church must repent of its worldly approach to tolerance and consistently exercise genuine love.


In a sermon he preached on February 28, 1999, the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, long time pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, placed a spotlight on the one virtue that modern society upholds and seeks to demand of everyone—tolerance. Dr. Kennedy explained that the tolerance society now champions isn’t the same kind of tolerance Americans have practiced throughout the country’s history.

D. James Kennedy / D. James Kennedy Ministries
  • While tolerance used to mean exercising respect by putting up with a person or group with whom one disagreed, it now means
  • accepting and affirming all views as equal in value and as equally true. Moreover, it now means affirming all lifestyles as equally valid.

As we soon will see, the former definition of tolerance can be called negative tolerance, since it preserves differing or opposing opinions. The latter, more modern definition, can be called positive tolerance. Under positive tolerance, to fail to endorse the perspective of someone with whom we disagree is to be intolerant and bigoted.

But there’s a problem. The very people who advocate positive tolerance aren’t really tolerant of all views. In particular, they have a huge problem with the beliefs of biblical Christianity. Why? Because the tenets of biblical Christianity are absolute.

The very people who advocate positive tolerance are not really tolerant of all views. In particular, they have a huge problem with the beliefs of biblical Christianity. Why? Because the tenets of biblical Christianity are absolute.

In 1991, a very insightful Chuck Colson said,

A belief in tolerance is about as close as America comes to a national creed today. All lifestyles are equal. No one has the right to criticize. It’s the philosophy of the talk show hosts: Oprah, Donahue, Geraldo—keep an open mind, never judge anyone.

There is only one thing that is not tolerated—–and that is, people who are intolerant themselves, or rather, people who are labeled as intolerant. People with moral and religious convictions. These people are considered bigots.

How We Got Here—And Where “Here” Is

Returning to Dr. Kennedy’s sermon, we note that the new tolerance is a byproduct of the postmodern era. As Dr. Kennedy explained [minor edits made for clarity],

Postmodernism [the beginning of which is marked by the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989] says that rationalism has failed. The modernist said, “Faith has failed. We must be rational.” The postmodernist has said “Reason has failed. We must resort to feeling.”

How often do you hear people say, “Well I feel that so-and-so. I feel that Washington, D.C. is the capital of this country”? I don’t feel that. I think it. But it’s always not “I think” but “I feel.” The only important thing is how they feel. And we have even invented a new civil right. And that is the civil right for my feelings not to be hurt.…

We cannot have anybody’s feelings hurt. And part of postmodernism is this universal individual. We don’t have countries, we don’t have anything except the individual. There’s no human race, there’s just the individual and his feelings, and they must not be offended.…

And so we have gone from a democracy, a government by the people—of the people, by the people, and for the people—to a government by the sovereign individual. Or should I say, more accurately, the sovereign individual’s feelings? And that brings us to the fact that there are not even any universal truths of any kind for people, and whatever truths we have are simply societal constructs that each community or society or nation has created and these do not apply beyond the borders of that culture.

This is why I have repeatedly said that tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society. When you have an immoral society that has blatantly, proudly violated all of the commandments of God, there’s one last virtue they insist upon—tolerance for their immorality. And they will not have you condemning what they have done as being wrong. And they’ve created a whole world construct in which it’s not, and in which they are no longer the criminal or the villain or the evil person, but you are. And so they call evil good and good evil (see Isaiah 5:20).

Tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society.
—D. James Kennedy—

Charles Darwin

Also operative in this progression of ideas in history was the arrival of Darwinism on the world stage. Darwinism eliminated the “need” for God and absolute truth. The human individual became the measure or all things.

Even if you’ve been unfamiliar with the terms modernism and postmodernism, surely you’ve seen evidence of the grip of the new tolerance on American culture. Note carefully how accurate Dr. Kennedy is when he says that a new civil right has been established—the right not to have one’s feelings hurt, or we might call it the right not to be offended.

The new tolerance has ushered in a new civil right—the right not to be offended.
—D. James Kennedy—

The Biblical Response

Unfortunately, the new tolerance also has found its way into the church. One of the “Eight Menacing Trends in the American Evangelical Church” today is that “the church has equated loving people with not offending them.” Other trends on the list provide evidence as well.

Josh McDowell

How should followers of Jesus Christ live out their faith when the new tolerance confronts them from every side? Josh McDowell, a Christian apologist and an insightful analyst of cultural trends, provides the answer in a presentation he gave well over a decade ago1 to the staff of Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ).

Like Chuck Colson and D. James Kennedy, Josh expressed insights in his presentation that were ahead of the times.

Listen carefully to the following series of sound bites from Josh’s presentation. While you can listen here, you’ll be able to follow Josh’s progression of thought much more easily on this page, where a complete text of this 3½-minute compilation, along with the audio, is available.

  • Josh defines negative tolerance.
  • Josh defines positive tolerance.
  • Josh illustrates the difference between the two.
  • Josh points to the biblical response to a culture demanding positive tolerance.
  • Josh cites the importance of balancing truth and love.
  • Josh emphasizes that loving people will be costly.
  • Josh shows how genuine love relates directly to absolute truth and principles of right and wrong.

These insights are piercing. They also are sobering. They call on the church to repent of its soft approach to truth and to love authentically. This means exercising love by demonstrating compassion and by declaring truth—but we as Christians cannot do these things if we abandon a high view of God’s authority and the reliability of the Scriptures.

Francis Schaeffer was another Christian leader who read the culture clearly and accurately. In 1984 he wrote that easy Christianity is a thing of the past, and that

Francis Schaeffer

only a strong view of Scripture is sufficient to withstand the pressure of an all-pervasive culture built upon relativism and relativistic thinking.…Without a strong commitment to God’s absolutes, the early church could never have remained faithful in the face of the constant Roman harassment and persecution [it received]. And our situation today is remarkably similar as our own legal, moral, and social structure is based on an increasingly anti-Christian, secularist consensus.

Christian thinker and apologist Jonathan Morrow is dead on when he says, “Our culture desperately needs to hit the reset button when it comes to larger conversation about truth and tolerance.” For this to happen, the church must act as did the early Christians. If we identify ourselves with Jesus Christ, we no longer can continue to accommodate the culture by refusing to uphold the truth for fear of offending people.

Why? Because refusing to uphold the truth represents a failure to exercise genuine love!

 

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1Josh McDowell, “Tolerating the Intolerable,” Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk, aired on March 21 and March 22, 2013. I strongly encourage you to listen to both programs in their entirety. Mr. McDowell’s presentation had aired earlier on Focus on the Family. A CD copy of the Focus on the Family broadcast indicates that the program “last aired in October of 2002.” Josh’s website is www.josh.org.

Mr. McDowell’s talk © 2018 Josh McDowell Ministry. All rights reserved. No part of these Materials may be changed in any way or reproduced in any form without written permission from Josh McDowell Ministry, 2001 West Plano Parkway, Suite 2400, Plano, TX 75075. www.Josh.org. +1 972 907 1000. Used by Permission.

2Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster, (Westchester, Illinois: 1984), 48-49.

 

A portion of this article is based on the content of “Discernment Needed, Part 2: Eight Menacing Trends in the American Evangelical Church,” which was originally published May 28, 2015.

What Needs to Happen

An Excerpt from “Misinformed and Misled: How a Distorted Perspective of Rights Is Leading America into Tyranny, Part 8”

The complete article, which was originally published June 30, 2016, is available here.

Initiating Reform

The only real security that you can have for all your important rights must be in the nature of your government. If you suffer any man to govern you who is not strongly interested in supporting your privileges, you will certainly lose them.
Founding Father Roger Sherman

Some are turned away from Christianity because they see Christians as judgmental. Many more are turned away because they see them as pansies. Stop retreating and you might earn some respect.
Mike S. Adams, university professor, author, free speech advocate—

 

A Horrific Event Rightly Sparks Outrage

An event from the early days of the civil rights movement is instructive for us with regard [the culture] today. Have you heard of Emmett Till? Born in 1941, he was an African-American from Chicago. When he was 14 years old, he was visiting family in a small town called Money, Mississippi. As we might expect, the racism in the area was more intense than Till had encountered in Chicago, even though Emmett had been a student at a racially segregated elementary school in the Windy City. Till’s mother had encouraged her son to exercise caution, but his love of practical jokes caused him to make some very bad decisions.

Emmett_Till

On August 24, 1955, a Wednesday, Emmett was hanging out with some cousins and friends outside a store in the small Mississippi town. Emmett told his buddies he had a white girlfriend back home. Responding with disbelief, they dared him to go into the store and to flirt with the white woman behind the counter. On his way out of the store after buying candy, Emmett is reported to have spoken to her, saying, “Bye, baby.” The woman behind the counter was Carolyn Bryant, the store owner’s wife. She subsequently accused Till of making advances to her and of whistling at her as he strolled out of the store.

Several days later Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, returned from a business trip. Outraged to learn about what had occurred, Bryant and a relative, J. W. Milam, went over to the home of Emmett’s great-uncle, Moses Wright, where the young man was staying. This occurred during the dark of night, at around 2:30 in the morning on August 28. They kidnapped Emmett, forced him into their car, and drove off. The men “beat the teenager brutally, dragged him to the bank of the Tallahatchie River, shot him in the head, tied him with barbed wire to a large metal fan and shoved his mutilated body into the water.”

Three days later, Emmett’s remains were found in the Tallahatchie River. His great-uncle was able to identify him only because the teenager had been wearing a special ring that once had belonged to Emmett’s father. History.com reports,

Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly, but Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, requested it be sent back to Chicago. After seeing the mutilated remains, she decided to have an open-casket funeral so that all the world could see what racist murderers had done to her only son. Jet, an African American weekly magazine, published a photo of Emmett’s corpse, and soon the mainstream media picked up on the story.

Bryant and Milam were acquitted of murdering Emmett Till in September of 1955. Since they couldn’t be retried, they later publicly admitted they had killed the young man. The murder was even the subject of an interview in Look magazine in 1956. While the town initially supported the two men, after the Look article was published, Bryant and Milam were shunned by the community.

Emmett Till’s murder is considered to be an important catalyst for the Civil Rights movement in its early days. It occurred just one year after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation in public schools must end.

Rosaparks

Also, biography.com notes that just one hundred days after Till’s death, Rosa Parks remained in her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama rather than surrendering it to a white passenger. Parks later said, “I thought about Emmett Till, and I couldn’t go back [to the back of the bus].”

What Needs to Happen

I need to be very careful here, because my use of the story of Emmett Till’s terrible murder easily can be misunderstood. How does the Till case relate to marriage? My point is not that all progressives have had vindictive and hateful motives like those of Emmett’s killers—even though some really do want to destroy marriage and have admitted as much. I’m sure in their minds, many believe they are contending for a noble cause. The harsh reality, however, is that the results of their efforts are extremely destructive—for families, for authentic liberty, for children’s well-being, and for societal stability.

With regard to the life issue, claims to support abortion for the “noble cause” of women’s health increasingly ring hollow. How can Texas lawmakers’ efforts to enhance women’s health standards when abortions are performed be considered an “undue burden”? Well, in making abortion safe for women, the law was deemed to make an abortion of any kind harder to obtain. Are abortion advocates really in favor of unsafe abortions? One has reason to wonder.

Mamie Bradley, Emmett Till’s mother, courageously ordered an open casket at her son’s memorial service to expose the horrific results of racism. She is a model for us! We need leaders in the conservative movement who will be as bold as she was, leaders who will highlight and expose the harmful effects of abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and all the “rights” flowing from same-sex unions, including parenting (see also this webpage). Fortunately, the number of such leaders for life has been increasing in recent years, but we now need a host of spokesmen who will uphold God-ordained marriage!

We have said that the debate over marriage is one about rights. This conflict pits those favoring limited government against those advocating increased government intervention. It is significant that the Supreme Court would, on the one hand, uphold government regulations requiring pharmacists to violate their conscience rights, yet, on the other, strike down regulations meant to protect the safety of women. We need no more evidence than this that the government has turned completely away from the Founders’ perspective on rights and is promoting the opposite of what they advocated. We’re facing tyranny because of it, and—again—we need leaders who are willing to expose this in all its ugliness!

Elections are important, and of course I believe we must elect leaders who will work diligently to return America to its founding principles (see the quote from Founding Father Roger Sherman at the top of this post). However, now more than ever, we need to see an uprising from the people themselves. It needs to be a godly uprising and a peaceful uprising, but it must be an uprising, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Civil Rights era, and the likes of which gave birth to this country in the first place.

As Christians, we have been rightly concerned about the need to express love and compassion to those who disagree with us. Yet I fear we have let this concern overshadow our responsibility to speak prophetically. The quote at the top from Dr. Mike Adams bears repeating here: “Some are turned away from Christianity because they see Christians as judgmental. Many more are turned away because they see them as pansies. Stop retreating and you might earn some respect.”

Drastic Measures Required

Our Founders were eloquent, yet they were clear about citizens’ responsibilities when faced with living under an illegitimate government. This coming Monday we honor their commitment to these words and to the country they were so instrumental in founding.

1280px-Declaration_independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

The Founders went on to say (I’m paraphrasing here) that while no steps should be taken lightly, there comes a time to take action. I’m certainly not advocating overthrowing the United States government, but I do believe there needs to be a massive movement of the people to return our republic to its founding principles—again, much like we saw in the Civil Rights movement. Some laws must be peacefully resisted through civil disobedience.

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail about how an otherwise law-abiding citizen could advocate breaking some laws, even as he or she obeyed others. King explained that “there are two kinds of laws: just laws…and unjust laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws, but conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Pastors must help their people understand these and a host of other related biblical principles. Government has authority, but not absolute authority. Because the state’s authority is delegated, government is capable of abusing its power. It must be held accountable. Christians have duties to obey God and government, but when these two duties conflict, they must obey God. (Here is a Bible study exploring the Christian’s duty before God to the state.) By the way, in a recent book, Dr. King’s niece, Alveda King, wrote of how her uncle would be an advocate for life and natural marriage if he were alive today.

Francis Schaeffer wrote, “It is time we consciously realize that when any office commands what is contrary to God’s Law it abrogates its authority. And our loyalty to the God who gave this law then requires that we make the appropriate response in that situation to such a tyrannical usurping of power.”

Pastors must be on the front lines of the effort to restore America to its founding principles.

Despite the potential cost, we also need more “ordinary people” who are willing to step up to the plate and stand true to their convictions, just as Cynthia and Robert Gifford, as well as others, have done. And we need to support these godly men and women and stand with them—praying for them, encouraging them, and giving to help them financially.

Of course, there are additional things we can do to set the stage for this movement.

  • Pray that God would raise up leaders who will, in the likeness of the prophets of old, declare His truth to the masses.
  • Do not let a legitimate desire to express compassion and love overshadow your duty to declare and live out the truth.
  • Speak up! Share your convictions in appropriate ways with family members, friends, and acquaintances.
  • Teach your children about worldviews and that the biblical worldview is the only one that aligns with reality.
  • Learn about American history and the Founders’ views on government, liberty, and rights. Teach this history to your kids. WallBuilders is an excellent resource for you to use in this effort, as is WallBuilders Live!, the ministry’s daily radio program.
  • Teach your children to respect governmental authority, but
  • warn them about how government can abuse it. Government is inefficient, costly, and has an intoxicating effect on leaders and the public. Government may look like a benefactor, but it can offer only those resources it has taken from citizens and businesses through taxes and regulations. Despite appearances, government is not compassion, but force. Government’s good intentions often have very bad unintended consequences.
  • Using this series of posts, educate yourself and teach your children about the difference between positive and negative rights, the perils of the former, and the liberating qualities of the latter.
  • Resist government handouts. Never buy a lottery ticket. The lottery is legalized exploitation of the poor—and government is orchestrating it!
  • Participate in the political process. Become informed about candidates, and vote according to godly principles.
  • Take the pledge Franklin Graham is encouraging people nationwide to take on his Decision America Tour.

We are living in challenging times. Just today, June 30, 2016, the Obama administration made an important announcement about the military. It now will lift the ban on transgenders serving openly. Here is Tony Perkins’s take on this news, courtesy of the Family Research Council’s Washington Update

While terrorism’s latest victims overwhelm Turkish hospitals and airports everywhere lock down their security, our president is ensuring that America’s military will continue be too distracted and fractured to cope with any of these crises. In a move today—one that completes the administration’s long-term project of dismantling one of the latest bastions of American tradition—Defense Secretary Ash Carter officially welcomed the gender confused into the military’s fold at a press conference formally declaring open transgenderism in the ranks of the military. The world is facing some of the greatest evil ever unleashed on innocents and the President’s plan for combatting it is letting men dress like women (and vice-versa) in our fighting force? Is this his plan for striking fear in ISIS’s hearts?

Has our nation gone completely mad? Have its leaders? We have to point our country in the direction of recovery! Let’s elect wise leaders—yes—but let’s also initiate reform from the bottom up!

I do not believe God is through with America yet, but it’s hard to think of a time when prayer and repentance were more urgently needed than they are today. God’s people need to wake up, look up, and speak up!

Will you be a part of the movement to renew and reform America?

Epilogue: The Duty to Warn

 

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

Top image credit: Norman Rockwell, “Freedom of Speech”

Websites and videos in this article have been cited for information purposes only. No citation should be construed as an endorsement.

 

 

Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 10

The daughter of a friend of mine recently told me she believes that “if you think a thing is right and commit yourself to it honestly, then it is right. And so then of course I brought up Adolf Hitler…[T]his principle that she announced endorses him, because he did very surely think that he was right. And I confronted her with that. And that was very hard for her. Implicitly, she had endorsed Adolf Hitler.…Now, you see, she’s got some thinking to do, but she didn’t have before. Because she just thought, ‘there’s a kind of person, and the person is sincere and is deeply committed to some values and pursues them honestly. That’s the right kind of person.’…That means that justification is all inside them.…God knows where that can lead!”
Larry P. Arnn, President of Hillsdale College


Note: In addition to highlighting two more myths that led to same-sex marriage in this country, this post sounds the alarm about dangerous legislation in the works in California. Occurrences in other places, including Illinois, also give us cause for concern. In my articles, I frequently drill down to discuss not only what is happening but also the philosophical underpinnings of these events. An excellent concise article on the situation in California, along with a clear explanation of why everyone, not just Californians, should be concerned, can be found here


Key point: However well-intentioned its promoters may be, the LGBT lobby is taking America to a very undesirable place.

This week we conclude our series on myths that led the the recognition of same-sex marriage in America. We’re adding two more myths to our list, bringing our total to eighteen. Be aware that while our list is thorough, it isn’t exhaustive.

Go here for a review of all the myths we cover in this series.

Myth #17: Absolute truth does not exist.

Fact: Absolute truth does indeed exist. This includes immutable principles of right and wrong, which are not determined within individuals, but outside of them. Yet, whenever a culture rejects absolute truth, eventually a set of values—the values of an individual or a group of individuals—is brought to bear on that society—with potentially disastrous results.

For the next few moments, as we begin to consider the myth that absolute truth does not exist, I’d like to ask you to forget that we’ve been discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Instead, consider the matter of absolute truth more broadly: What happens when individuals reject absolute truth? Inevitably, they make up their own truth and attempt to live according to it. They do this with varying degrees of success, because typically reality prevents them from living consistently according to the values they’ve decided to embrace. At other times, people may succeed in following the principles they’ve adopted, but it isn’t uncommon in such a situation for other people to be abused and violated.

Episode 4 of the 6th season of the original Hawaii Five-0 television series provides a great illustration. The episode is titled “One Big Happy Family.” In it, an unusual family arrives in Hawaii and commits a string of murders and thefts. Here is the closing scene. (Additional information about this installment, including a transcript of this scene, is available here.)

On the show, Sadie Ferguson is the name of the woman who offered Steve McGarrett the family’s rationale for killing their victims and stealing from them. Her reasoning sounds bizarre to us, but there’s an advantage in its starkness: In this situation, Sadie’s case sounds every bit as ugly as it really is. Why? Right and wrong do exist, and Sadie and her family had violated universal principles of moral conduct. With the trail of blood and robbery so glaringly obvious, and with the Fergusons’ reasoning so blatantly and obnoxiously self-centered, no one would deny this family was guilty of egregious wrongdoing.

Noble-Sounding Lies

Far more often, reasons to do wrong are just as terrible but not nearly as obviously horrific. Think of some of the noble-sounding excuses people use to justify all kinds of wrong actions.

  • Everybody’s doing it!
  • I can only go around once in life; so I should go for the gusto!
  • I need to be true to myself and follow my feelings.
  • Surely God wouldn’t want me to be unhappy!
  • If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with!

Now, all of us need to realize that no one—whether gay or straight, male or female, young or old—is exempt from falling into the trap of using faulty, crazy reasoning to justify doing whatever he or she want to do, even if God forbids it. Satan is a brilliant strategist, and as we have indicated, the kind of reasoning he uses to convince us to do his bidding often sounds attractive and even noble at first. Also, we often are shortsighted and foolish. Our hearts are evil! We entertain the notion, even unconsciously, that our way is better than God’s. It isn’t!

The good news is that when dangerous-but-noble-sounding “logic” is exposed to the light of God’s truth, those with minds that are open, even just a little bit, to His truth often can see just how foolish and even bizarre such reasoning is. It is, in fact, a lie. It’s also ugly—just as ugly as Sadie Ferguson’s justification for murder and theft. You see, the light of truth peels away the masks that hide the lie and that make the reasoning so attractive!

The good news is that when dangerous-but-noble-sounding “logic” is exposed to the light of God’s truth, those with minds that are open, even just a little bit, to His truth often can see just how foolish and even bizarre such reasoning is. It is, in fact, a lie.

Shedding the Light of Truth on Noble-Sounding, but False Ideas

The Ideas

Now, let’s consider several of the points typically made to justify homosexuality and same-sex marriage today. These ideas are about love, relationships, sexuality, and marriage. Take note—they probably won’t sound all that bizarre initially, partly because we’ve heard them so much, and partly because they appeal to our sense of fairness. In reality, however, they too are ugly—because they deny God’s established truth and His design for humanity. Furthermore, if left unchecked, they inevitably will produce very ugly results.

In June of 2013 after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, Joshua Bowman wrote an article for catholicvote.org pointing out the weaknesses of several arguments being used to promote same-sex marriage. The arguments included these four, which are quoted below directly from the article.

  • Gay Marriage Doesn’t Hurt Heterosexuals
  • If We Accept Gay Marriage, Peace and Love Will Reign
  • Marriage Is About Love and Commitment
  • Couples that Don’t Have Children Still Get Married

In another article, Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine of Family Life offer reasons for opposing same-sex marriage. They begin, however, by citing three rhetorical questions often used in favor of it. Here they are.

  • If two men are in love, and want to declare their commitment, why should we keep them from marrying each other?
  • If two gays want to be married, aren’t they upholding the institution of marriage rather than weakening it?
  • If a pair of homosexuals want to marry and provide a home for children who would otherwise be without a family, then how can that be wrong?

In addition to these and many more arguments, we often hear this: I was born that way. We addressed this argument in our last post.

The Truth

We have sought to lovingly yet forthrightly push back against many of these ideas in previous articles. Here, suffice it to say that both God and nature speak clearly about what marriage is. Moreover, God states clearly in Scripture that homosexual activity is sinful. In addition to offending God, it also is ultimately harmful in this life to those who engage in it.

You may strongly disagree with me on this. If so, then for the sake of our discussion, please consider for a few minutes the possibility that the points so often made to defend and justify homosexuality and same-sex marriage are indeed lies. I’m not saying they are intentional lies; in fact, most people don’t recognize them as lies at all. If this is true, people have become deceived and have been swept away in a very dangerous direction.

Who Is Imposing Their Morality on Whom?

There’s something else. We don’t have to reach very far back in our memories to recall the loud and forceful objections of militant gay rights advocates to laws criminalizing homosexual behavior and upholding marriage as an institution of one man and one woman for life:

What right to you have to impose your morality on me? 

Yet, now that homosexuality has been decriminalized and marriage has been transformed into an institution that also includes same-sex couples, militant homosexual rights advocates are attempting to impose their on morality on the rest of society.

Years ago, Josh McDowell predicted this would happen.1 This clip comes from a presentation he gave prior to October of 2002. In the soundbite, negative tolerance refers to the old definition of tolerance—respecting those who disagree with us—and positive tolerance refers to the new definition—that all beliefs and values are equal.

We don’t have to look far for evidence of what Mr. McDowell said. On Thursday, April 12, 2017, Mike Pompeo, President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, was raked over the coals (also go here) by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). Watch the exchange.

Ben Shapiro observes that

according to Booker, you must celebrate sin in order to believe there is a right for people to commit sin that has no externalities in a free society. This makes sense from a Leftist point of view, where government is the great instrument of the good, not a mere protector of rights—the same people who try to stamp out dissenting thought through “hate speech” legislation are likely to believe that religious Americans feel the same way about using government to stamp out sin. But they’re wrong. And they’re religious bigots.

Yes, those on the left loudly pushing the militant homosexual cause are religious bigots. Just how bad is it? Currently, in ten states, with a good possibility that Maryland will become the eleventh, minors cannot legally receive professional counseling from a pro-heterosexual perspective to help them deal with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. Such counseling has been outlawed! Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), explains part of the reason: Gay activists have misrepresented and demonized legitimate counseling approaches (also go here)—often called reparative therapy—to help encourage heterosexuality. They have overtaken many professional groups and insist on pro-homosexual counseling regardless of the clients’ desires. The American College of Pediatricians stands out as the rare exception.

Gay activists have misrepresented and demonized legitimate counseling approaches—often called reparative therapy—to help encourage heterosexuality.
—Regina Griggs, executive director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays—

And now, things are growing even worse. The gay lobby has become a powerful and arrogant player in American life—so powerful and arrogant, in fact, that it is in the process of imposing it’s own “absolutes” on society at large.

For some time, California has been futile ground for coercive LGBT legislation. Now it could become the first state in the nation to ban reparative therapy for everyone! All forms of it this kind of therapy, even counseling given through the sale of a book and in a religious setting from a religious perspective. In a Facebook post, former Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon calls the proposal “the biggest effort at book banning, the banning of counseling services and church conferences, the banning of academic courses, and a general banning of free speech in the history of the United States.” He warns, “Any counselor that suggests to clients that homosexual practice or transgender identification is in any way wrong or unhealthy, irrespective of whether they offer ‘orientation change’ services will become a criminal in the eyes of the state.”

Any counselor that suggests to clients that homosexual practice or transgender identification is in any way wrong or unhealthy, irrespective of whether they offer “orientation change” services will become a criminal in the eyes of the state.
Robert A. J. Gagnon

On television, Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matt Sharp sounded the alarm.

As we have seen in the past, what happens in California has implications for the entire country. Since when does the government have any business preventing an adult from receiving a counseling service he or she wants and is willing to pay for? We may be on the cusp of entering a day when, even though the government has no business whatsoever doing this, it does it anyway! I would encourage you to find out more about AB 2943 here and here.

And be aware: It is especially significant that while AB 2943 prohibits pro-heterosexual counseling to help anyone with unwanted same-sex attraction or gender issues, another proposal AB 2119, “adds the mandate that ‘foster care kids struggling with transgender feelings [must] have access to ‘gender affirming’ counseling, puberty blocking drugs, and sex-change operations.'”

The new tolerance, therefore, is a one-way street down which a steam-roller is barreling, squashing everyone standing in its way!

The new tolerance, therefore, is a one-way street down which a steam-roller is barreling, squashing everyone standing in its way!

Make no mistake. This is tyranny! But it is the inevitable place to which society will go when it abandons absolute truth and one group becomes powerful enough to impose it’s own morality on the whole.

Myth #18: Since absolute truth does not exist, government can manipulate the meaning of marriage to mean whatever it deems appropriate.

Fact: This myth returns us to the place where we started in this series. In part 1 we considered four myths that related to the courts, government, law, and the US Constitution. I encourage you to return there for that discussion.

With Malice Toward Note; With Charity for All

As Abraham Lincoln did during his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865, I convey these ideas “with malice toward none [and] with charity for all.” We began this post with a quote about the fact that a failure to affirm absolute truth essentially gives a green light to tyrannical actions like those of Adolf Hitler. We next cited an episode from Hawaii Five-0, the original series, that demonstrates what can happen when an individual or a group comes up with their own absolute truth. Let me be clear. I am not saying the leaders of the LGBT community are like Hitler or that the thefts and robberies depicted on a television crime show present a picture of exactly what the gay lobby wants to accomplish.

A book-burning in Nazi Germany, 1933.

I am saying that these represent the kinds of ends to which a society’s or an a group’s abandonment of absolute truth will lead. And significantly, one parallel between AB 2943 and Nazi Germany is glaringly evident: the censorship of books! Without question, the militant LGBT lobby is becoming more and more coercive and tyrannical.

Their agenda must be opposed, lest America be held for generations to come in bondage to all myths that led to same-sex marriage.

 


Update on AB 2943, Thursday, April 19, 2018: Assembly votes to violate the 1st Amendment


Go here for summaries of all the articles in this series.

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

top image: California State Capitol in Sacramento, California, by Andre m

Note:

1 Josh McDowell, “Tolerating the Intolerable,” Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk, aired on March 21 and March 22, 2013. The clip presented here comes from the broadcast on March 21. Mr. McDowell’s talk had aired earlier on Focus on the Family. A CD copy of the Focus on the Family broadcast indicates that the program “last aired in October of 2002.” Josh’s website is www.josh.org.

Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 9

All laws banning homosexual activity will be revoked. Instead legislation shall be passed which engenders love between men.…The family unit—spawning ground of lies, betrayals, mediocrity, hypocrisy and violence—will be abolished. The family unit, which only dampens imagination and curbs free will, must be eliminated. Perfect boys will be conceived and grown in the genetic laboratory. They will be bonded together in a communal setting, under the control and instruction of homosexual savants.
Michael Swift, homosexual activist—

Key point: The fact that militant gay activists had to engage in a massive public relations campaign to entice the public to accept homosexuality as normal shows that it isn’t normal in any of the ways they claim and that same-sex couples never can have a marriage. Homosexuality may feel normal to those with same-sex attraction, but there is a better way.

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The truth, Jesus said, will set you free. In following the truth, we find the way out of bondage! This is true for homosexuals and heterosexuals alike!

We move now in our series on myths that led to the recognition of same-sex marriage in America to consider two more myths, these about homosexuality.

Go here for a review of all the myths we cover in this series.

Myth #15: Homosexuality is on par with heterosexuality.

Fact: The dynamics of a heterosexual relationship—one man with one woman—stand in sharp contrast to the relationship held by two men or two women.

In an incredibly short period of time—in less than twenty short years, writes Al Mohler — “homosexuality has moved from ‘the love that dares not speak its name,’ to the center of America’s public life.” Mohler contends that this rapid and pervasive change in public attitude is attributable to one of the most successful propaganda strategies ever implemented. He’s right.

In 1987, an article titled “Overhauling Straight America” laid out a plan to win the country over to acceptance of homosexuality. It said in part,

The first order of business is desensitization of the American public concerning gays and gay rights. To desensitize the public is to help it view homosexuality with indifference instead of with keen emotion. Ideally, we would have straights register differences in sexual preference the way they register different tastes for ice cream or sports games: she likes strawberry and I like vanilla; he follows baseball and I follow football. No big deal. At least in the beginning, we are seeking public desensitization and nothing more. We do not need and cannot expect a full “appreciation” or “understanding” of homosexuality from the average American. You can forget about trying to persuade the masses that homosexuality is a good thing. But if only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won. And to get to shoulder-shrug stage, gays as a class must cease to appear mysterious, alien, loathsome and contrary. A large-scale media campaign will be required in order to change the image of gays in America. And any campaign to accomplish this turnaround should do six things:

Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible
Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers
Giver protectors a just cause
Make gays look good
Make the victimizers look bad
Solicit funds: The buck stops here


You can forget about trying to persuade the masses that homosexuality is a good thing. But if only you can get them to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders, then your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won.
— “Overhauling Straight America,” a strategic article for gay activism written in 1987 —


You’ll have to give these public relations experts a great deal of credit. Their strategy has been more successful than even they ever could have dreamed.

Consequently, many Americans, “with a shrug of their shoulders,” do indeed see homosexuality as “another thing.” As we noted in a post dated June 30 of last year,

A new poll conducted by the Pew Research Center “found that two years after Obergefell, the Supreme Court decision that required states to recognized [sic] same-sex marriages nationwide, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is at its highest point in more than 20 years.” Among Republicans and those leaning Republican, support was essentially tied, with 48 percent opposing same-sex marriage and 47 percent favoring it. We need only go back to 2013 to find a large gap among Republicans. At that time they opposed the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples 61 to 33 percent!

The survey also found that while white Protestants in the evangelical tradition oppose same-sex marriage 59 to 35 percent,

younger white evangelicals have grown more supportive: 47 percent of white evangelical Millennials and Gen Xers—age cohorts born after 1964—favor same-sex marriage, up from 29 percent in March 2016.

Additionally, while African-Americans have generally been less supportive than whites of redefining marriage, since 2015 support among blacks has increased 12 points—from 39 percent to a majority—51 percent.

Overall, 62 versus 32 percent of Americans favor same-sex marriage. Contrast that to findings in 2010, when Americans opposed the idea 48 to 42 percent.

These Perceptions Don’t Fit Reality

The overwhelming success of the homosexual public relations campaign notwithstanding, stark differences between a heterosexual relationship and a homosexual one remain. In other words, these perceptions of homosexuality as “another thing” and “a good thing” simply do not square with reality. Let’s take a hard, long look at reality.

  1. The bodies of a husband and wife fit together. This fitting is clear to us “in the outlines of the genitalia of a male and a female. This is a fitting that obviously is not present with two men or two women. Moreover, sexual intercourse involves precisely one man and one woman. The human bodies of the man and the woman therefore point to monogamy and sexual exclusivity—and those of same sex couples point to abstinence from sexual activity altogether.”
  2. Only a heterosexual union can produce children. But wait! someone will say. Some heterosexual couples are childless. First, exceptions do not negate the rule, and second, childless heterosexual couples are not the same as childless same-sex couples. If a heterosexual couple cannot produce a child, there is a reason other than the fact that their relationship involves a member of each of the two sexes. We know without doubt why two men never will become parents on their own, and why two women will forever remain childless between themselves: Same-sex couples have an innate inability to produce children.
  3. The bodies of a husband and wife work together during sexual intercourse to enhance the probability that the wife’s egg will be fertilized by her husband’s sperm.
  4. When a baby arrives, the tiny boy or girl “is totally helpless. She needs nourishment on a regular basis. He needs to have his diapers changed—repeatedly. We are truly deaf and blind in the most extreme sense if we fail to see that nature’s way of bringing a new human life into the world also makes a clear and bold statement about who should have the primary responsibility to care for newborns when they arrive.” The husband and father, who is physically stronger, is better equipped to protect and provide for his wife and the children that result from their union. The wife and mother is better equipped to nurture and care for her children. This does not mean a woman never can have a career outside the home, but let’s listen to what nature says in and through a woman’s body about meeting infants’ physical needs. She and she alone can produce milk that nourishes her children. While it’s true that some women can’t produce enough milk and that some prefer to bottle-feed rather than breastfeed (the couple’s choice), this does not negate at all the natural ability that women have to feed their newborns. Alarmingly, recently a biological man made national headlines because hormone therapy had made it possible for him to breastfeed—but at significant risk to his baby. Mark it down! It is undeniable that he was not “born that way”!
  5. Because of the innate differences between men and women, heterosexual couples experience a relational mystery that is non-existent among same-sex couples. While homosexuals often do experience a sense mystery with regard to their own sex or gender, the mystery of which I write here is focused on the opposite sex, and consequently, in a heterosexual relationship, on the other person. When a couple approaches this relational dynamic properly, it serves to enhance their relationship and cement their bond.
  6. Male-female differences can be seen in parenting styles. Children need both the strong influence of a father and the encouraging, nurturing touch of a mother.
  7. Natural reproduction “isn’t just about caring for babies and children so they will grow up to become responsible individuals; it’s also about maintaining a healthy society for years to come. The future of the human race depends on reproducing it so those dying out can be replaced. This can occur only with heterosexual couples. As Charles Colson put it, ‘The survival of the human race depends upon marriage as the institution by which we procreate and perpetuate civilization.’”1
  8. The majority opinion in the Obergefell marriage ruling states, “Four principles and traditions demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples. The first premise of this Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.” The decision also says, “The fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs.” The ruling’s emphasis on autonomy (and here we’ve cited just two examples) stands in stark contrast to the interdependency that is inherent, and inherently necessary, in a marriage. To “become one,” selflessness and sacrifice are necessary. I realize that with regard to same-sex couples, we are speaking of “committed relationships.” So why is it that the ruling has to underscore individual autonomy so much? If it didn’t, the ruling couldn’t justify making same-sex relationships eligible for marriage. Yet in doing so, the ruling contradicts one of the core principles of marriage!
  9. Homosexuality is associated with increased risks to one’s psychological health (also go here). Although researchers may speculate that the cause of these risks is discrimination against gays and lesbians, this trend is evident even in the most gay-friendly places.
  10. Homosexuality is associated with increased risks to one’s physical health. Heterosexual intercourse, obviously, is not the same as homosexual intercourse. Glenn Stanton of Focus on the Family puts it politely—but you readily can understand what he means.

One of the key reasons for the significant risk of disease and physical trauma associated with homosexuality is due to the design of human anatomy and how this anatomy is misused during homosexual sex. The bodies of two individuals who are of the same sex are not designed to be united sexually. Homosexual activity misuses parts of the body that produce no natural secretions to protect against infection and that are designed to carry out other bodily functions.

By contrast, body parts that unite in exclusive, marital, heterosexual sex were created for that activity by God. God also designed the human body so that it protects itself against abrasion and infection, and thus disease, naturally. Sexual fidelity between a husband and wife also keeps infection and disease at bay. In other words, a woman and a man were created by God for sexual union in marriage; the bodies of a husband and wife fit together.2

We therefore are back to item #1.

Another writer, Dr. Paul Cameron, doesn’t describe the situation as politely as does Mr. Stanton (also go here). Yet, we need their descriptions, because they help us more readily understand why homosexuality puts health and even life expectancies at risk.

While here we have not up to this point emphasized the biblical and theological reasons homosexuality is harmful and wrong, this perspective also is important. Go here to read an excellent article that cites biblical teachings on this matter.

Myth #16: Homosexuality is primarily an identity, not a behavior.

Fact: Despite the pervasiveness of the idea that homosexuality is an identity, it is inseparably linked to behavior. Thus, to effectively grapple with and understand homosexuality, it should be seen this way. This is not to say that we shouldn’t be sensitive to those who see themselves in terms of a gay identity, but it is to say seeing oneself in this way will hold a person unnecessarily in bondage to the gay lifestyle.

Writing for Focus on the Family, Jeff Johnston accurately observes,

Over time, the definition of homosexuality has shifted from being a behavior to a condition to an identity. In the Bible, for example, the focus is on the behavior. Scripture says don’t engage in this activity.

As Christians, we don’t want to define people by their attractions or struggle. We should look beyond homosexuality to see a person as a sacred human being created in the image of God. “Being straight” or “being gay” may be the way the culture likes to label people; however, it’s not how God determines our identity or worth. God bases our worth on His unchanging, unfailing, eternal love for us.

The idea that homosexuality legitimately can be considered an identity is reinforced if it it is natural and normal. But is it? Are individuals really “born that way”? I’d like to answer this question from three different angles.

First, in an important sense, everyone is “born that way” — meaning born with a pull to live apart from God and to do whatever he or she wants to do. Just ask Emily Thomes, who was liberated when she discovered that because she was first and foremost made in God’s image, her base desires did not have to enslave her. She admits to being born with an inclination to follow sinful desires. This is indeed the natural condition of every person.

Emily does not mean, however, that homosexuality is a biological trait. In fact, no “gay gene” ever has been discovered. Thus, no evidence exists that homosexuality has a purely genetic cause (go here, here, and here).

Homosexuality can legitimately be considered natural in a second sense as well. Mark it down, though! Our qualifications here are vitally important, so please read this section carefully. In the vast majority of cases, a person experiencing same-sex attraction (SSA) did not choose those desires. For some, the desires arise, and no specific environmental or experiential cause can be pinpointed. This doesn’t mean the urges are rooted solely in one’s DNA, without other influences. Just because an environmental factor can’t readily be recognized does not mean one or more aren’t present. Also, especially among the young, the cultural allure to “be gay because gay is cool” is everywhere. And while we cannot say that homosexuality is purely a choice, neither can we deny that choices—including deliberate, conscious ones—are involved. For such choices, individuals must indeed bear personal responsibility.

Perhaps an illustration will help. We readily acknowledge that in numerous instances the inclination to steal, lie, or cheat on one’s spouse is quite natural. Also, each of these feels natural. Would it be a good and healthy thing to follow through on any of these urges? No. Not everything that can be deemed natural necessarily is good!

Finally, from a third standpoint, homosexuality is unnatural because it violates God’s design for human beings, the human family, and society at large. The above list of ten items is rooted in the principle that human beings are designed a certain way, for a specific purpose. Homosexuality violates these purposes and thus produces hurtful and harmful results.

Again, it’s important to remember that we never should define people, or allow ourselves to be defined, by urges and inclinations. The identity myth does exactly this.


The identity myth defines people according to their urges and desires. This fails to treat people with the dignity and respect they deserve.


Not only did this myth, along with others, lead to Obergefell, it now reinforces it. Even so, no one has to remain in bondage to homosexual desires. Again, ask Emily Thomes. You also can ask Stephen Black, who tells his story here. Stephen is the executive director of First Stone Ministries and the author of Freedom Realized! Freedom from Homosexuality & Living a Life Free from Labels.

Don’t be taken in my the myths! Reality, in the long run, is far better! In other words, when we cooperate with reality, we find and can fulfill our God-given purpose on this earth. That purpose never involves remaining in homosexuality—even if same-sex attractions remain.

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The myths keep us in bondage, but reality—the truth in Christ—shows us the way out.

 

Part 10 is available here.

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

image credit: top image, www.lightstock.com

1Charles Colson with Anne Morse, My Final Word, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 142.

2Glenn Stanton, “Homosexuality: A Christian Perspective” in A Single Pursuit, Winter, 1998-99, (Nashville: LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1998), 85.

An Easter Surprise

The disciples were expecting Jesus to conquer the Romans and install Himself as King. To their minds, the Messiah would be the conquering King. The predictions by Jesus of His death were not heeded. When He did die, they were totally unprepared.
—Don Stewart1

A condensed version of this article is available here.

As Pastor and author Don Stewart affirms in the above quote, the disciples saw Jesus as a conquering Messiah who would rescue Israel from the Romans. Their hopes were dashed after they saw Jesus arrested, tried, beaten, crucified, and buried. It was over. Jesus was dead.

No disrespect is intended here, I assure you. In describing the certainty of Jesus’ death, it seems appropriate to borrow from Charles Dickens. “Yes, Jesus was dead. Dead as a door-nail. There was no doubt whatever about that!”

Descent from the Cross by Peter Paul Rubens

Jesus’ followers, however, were in for a huge Easter surprise! Jesus had died on a Passover Friday. Following the Passover, early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene made her way to Jesus’ burial cave and found it empty. Right away she went to Peter and John and told them someone or a group of people — “they” — had removed Jesus body, and she didn’t know where they’d put it.

20 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:1-2).

Doubtlessly curious, the two disciples went to the tomb themselves to see if they could figure out what had happened. What they would see would change their lives forever!

Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes (John 20:3-10).

John’s account rings with simplicity, and at the same time, authenticity. Here is an eyewitness simply relating what he actually had experienced. Peter and John started to make their way to the burial site. In their excitement and curiosity, they “ran together,” but soon John outran Peter, so he was the first to arrive. John, “stooping down and looking in,” saw Jesus’ grave clothes but didn’t venture in. Peter then arrived and went in. Inside, Peter “saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around his head.” The “handkerchief”—the “cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head” (NIV)—was separate from the rest of the linen cloths, “folded together in a place by itself.” At this point, John also entered, and “saw and believed.” Peter and John did not yet fully understand all that had occurred; verse 9 tells us that “as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.” Even so, this was a pivotal moment for these two close followers of Jesus in terms of their understanding and in terms of their commitment to the One who had taught and mentored them for three years.

Knowing About Burial Preparations Helps Us Understand What Peter and John Saw

Let’s rewind in our minds the events of the previous few days to Friday afternoon when Jesus’ body was prepared for burial. John 19:38-42 says that after Jesus had died on the cross and had been confirmed dead,

Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.

According to Jewish custom of that day, no less than two persons were needed to prepare a body for burial. The body was washed thoroughly with lukewarm water. Those involved in the preparation made sure the mouth of the corpse was covered so that none of the water would get inside.2

After they had washed the body, those working on it prepared the burial spices. In Jesus’ case, probably 75 to 100 pounds of aromatic spices were used; we see in verse 39 that Nicodemus had brought with him “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.” Myrrh, a gummy substance, was blended together with the spices and aloes—fragrant wood that had been pounded into dust particles. The preparers then wrapped the body in linen cloths that women had sewn together without using a knot a single time. A minimum of three linen garments had to be used.3

Beginning at the feet and moving toward the head, the preparers wrapped the body in the linen cloths, placing the myrrh and spices between the folds as they worked. They wrapped the body in this fashion from the feet to the armpits; then, with the deceased’s arms placed alongside the wrapped torso, preparers enveloped the arms in the linen and spices as well. They continued this process all the way up to the neck. For the head, they used an additional, separate cloth. What was the total weight of the encasement for an adult? Typically, about 117 to 120 pounds.4

Encasement is an appropriate word to use here, because that’s just what it was. The myrrh and spices placed between the linen cloths hardened. The grave clothes, therefore, did not consist of loose material but became a shell snugly surrounding the deceased individual.5

Back to the Tomb

Now, return to the tomb in your mind. Do you now see why Peter and John were blown away? What an Easter surprise this was! These disciples didn’t see the linen material that had enveloped Jesus’ body wadded up into a heap or otherwise loosely placed. Nor did they see the grave clothes neatly folded and resting where Jesus’ body had been situated after it was brought into the tomb; although, as the Scripture indicates, the headpiece was “folded together in a place by itself.” The “linen cloths lying there”—the grave clothes that had surrounded Jesus’ body—now were an empty shell made of linen and hardened myrrh.6

Here was proof positive that no one had taken Jesus’ body. Had anyone or any group of people stolen it, they would have had to carry out the grave clothes with it! Otherwise, they would have had to cut open the encasement and pry the body loose—something they would have had neither the time nor the resources to do.

The hollow encasement lay there, intact. No rips, tears, or cuts! Even though Peter and John didn’t yet understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead, they knew that something supernatural had happened.

John testified that he “saw and believed.” No wonder!

The Miraculous Catch of Fish by Duccio This portrays a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to His disciples. See John 21:1-14

And this was just the beginning. As Luke later would write, Jesus “also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them [the apostles] during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is risen, indeed!

 

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Note: The content of this article is available in two separate articles (also written by B. Nathaniel Sullivan) at www.sundayschoolzone.com (here and here).

Notes:

1Don Stewart, You Be the Judge, (San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers, 1983), 71.

2Josh and Sean McDowell, Evidence for the Resurrection, (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2009), 174.

3,4,5McDowell and McDowell, 175

6McDowell and McDowell, 194.

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.

The Scripture passage marked NIV has been taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 8

A Call to Return to Bedrock Principles

The act of uniting a man and a woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.
Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. Heb 13
Founding Father Noah Webster, defining the word marriage in his classic and comprehensive dictionary, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition—

Key point: Marriage as it has been redefined by the Supreme Court positions the state against the God-ordained institutions of marriage and the family, and consequently, against God Himself. In such a conflict, Christians must choose whether they will follow the state’s definition of marriage or God’s.

  • A condensed version of this article is available here.
  • Go here for summaries of all the articles in this series.

Myth #14: Same-sex marriage has implications for the same-sex couple only, and not for others. “If don’t agree with same-sex marriage,” we were told, “don’t worry. “Changing the definition of marriage won’t affect you!”

Fact: Changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples totally alters the nature of marriage in the eyes of government and in the eyes of society. The implications for families are ominous—even those who, for all the right reasons, firmly hold that marriage is what God and nature have declared it to be.

Many scholars contend that Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is “the finest English dictionary ever published.” It’s definition of marriage, which is printed above, is enlightening not only with regard to the definition itself—what marriage really is—but also with regard to the perspective on marriage held in the days and years when the United States of America still was putting down its roots as a nation.

Also very telling are the dictionary’s definitions of the words masculine and feminine.

Masculine:
1. Having the qualities of a man; strong; robust; as a masculine body.
2. Resembling man; coarse; opposed to delicate or soft; as masculine features.
3. Bold; brave; as a masculine spirit or courage.

Feminine:
The first syllable may be and probably is from wemb or womb, by use of the for w; the not being radical [not belonging to the root of the word]. The last part of the word is probably from man, quasi, femman, [hence] womb-man.
1. Pertaining to a woman, or to women, or to females; as the female sex.
2. Soft; tender; delicate. Her heavenly form angelic, but more soft and feminine
3. Effeminate; destitute of manly qualities.

Portrait of Noah Webster (1758-1843) by Samuel F. B. Morse

These definitions undoubtedly will sound outdated to many today, but hopefully they will sound refreshing to many others. Founding Father Noah Webster was in touch with reality!

Do not misunderstand. I’m not saying that a man can’t ever be tender or that a woman can’t ever be strong. Yet, even with all the cultural confusion surrounding gender issues today, when we contrast the two sexes in a general way, noting their characteristics and their differences, we see that Noah Webster was right on target. He knew what masculinity, femininity, and marriage were, and are.

Again, the definition of marriage in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is as follows.

The act of uniting a man and a woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. Marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.
Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled. Heb 13

Definitions Matter

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States changed the definition of marriage nationwide to include same-sex couples. From a legal perspective, a scant majority of Supreme Court justices didn’t change marriage a little bit or even a lot. Instead, they reshaped it completely, altering the very nature of the institution from the inside out. In other words, the Supreme Court recreated marriage to make it mean something diametrically opposed to what it always has meant, and what it means inherently when one man and one woman—one, and only one, of each sex—come together to be united for life and to form a new family. Thus, the change wasn’t one of degree, but of kind.

The Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage didn’t change marriage in terms of degree; rather it established a new kind of institution we still call marriage. But it isn’t marriage at all.

In a previous post, I wrote that the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage actually denies what it means

to be a human being. Natural man-woman marriage, you see, affirms what being a human being is all about. This is not to say that single people or homosexual individuals aren’t human; of course they are! It is to say that natural marriage affirms what being human means. Same-sex “marriage” doesn’t just distort that affirmation; it eliminates it—because if two men or two women can marry each other and have exactly what one man and one woman married to each other have (this notion obviously is a lie), marriage has nothing to do with sex, procreation, children, fatherhood, motherhood, male-female dynamics in a relationship, or anything else that truly makes marriage what it is, and that makes being a human being what he or she is.

David Fowler

Well, does the revised definition of marriage really eliminate the dynamic of male-female differences from the institution of marriage? In the eyes of the government, the answer is yes. Christians desperately need to understand the implications of this for the family and for society as a whole.

Former Tennessee state senator and Family Action Council of Tennessee President David Fowler has seriously considered this matter. In a series of five short articles he articulates the problem, the need, and the challenge that lies before supporters of man-woman marriage. Here are links to those articles and a brief summary of the issues he highlights.

  • Are Tennessee’s Evangelical Pastors Licensing Same-Sex ‘Marriages’? (Feb. 16, 2018) Pastors, and many Christians as well, have tended to think that post-Obergefell, opposite-sex marriages and same-sex marriages remain very different. In a practical sense they are correct, because no same-sex couple—married or not—ever can have what an opposite sex couple has. Yet in a legal sense they are wrong: a heterosexual marriage in the eyes of the government is a relationship identical to a same-sex marriage! Are pastors who are performing wedding ceremonies for heterosexual couples tacitly lending their support to marriage redefined? They need to consider this issue very carefully.
  • Should Christian Couples Get Legally Married? (Feb. 22, 2018) Just as pastors who officiate wedding ceremonies need to think long and hard about whether they should perform state-recognized marriages, so should a heterosexual Christian couple considering marriage also ask if they really want their marriage to be defined by the state.
  • How Long Before Parents Have to be Licensed by the State? (March 1, 2018) If marriage no longer is at all about male-female differences in the eyes of the state, then biological parents no longer can make the point that their genetic ties to their children give them any special rights as parents. Just ask a couple in Ohio who, in late February, lost custody of their 17-year-old daughter who desires to become a male through hormone treatment. How can a judge make such a ruling? According to Fowler, what happened “shouldn’t really shock anyone, given that the following was the very first sentence in the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex ‘marriage,’ Obergefell v. Hodges: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity.'” Do you now see how marriage redefined can mean parental rights obliterated? In the eyes of the government, heterosexual couples—even those who are biological parents—are identical to same-sex couples who have no innate ability to reproduce.

In the eyes of the government, heterosexual couples—even those who are biological parents—are identical to same-sex couples who have no innate ability to reproduce.

  • A Really Hard Question: What Is Marriage Worth to You? (March 9, 2018) What should Christians and other supporters of natural marriage do when the state says marriage is something that it absolutely is not? Do couples have the right to marry without state approval? Yes. These marriages are called common law marriages, and they have been deemed legitimate by the Supreme Court. Common law entails the principle that there is a form of law that predates civil government and that civil government merely acknowledges. So a common law marriage is one not grounded in a statute by which civil government gives its “permission” for a marriage. According to the Supreme Court, most of the early marriage laws in America were not conferring on a couple the right to marry, but allowing them to register marriage and provide evidence to third parties of the marriage. The common law does not recognize any same-sex relationship as a marriage; it sees marriage as solely a heterosexual, 2-person union. Be forewarned! Were a state to adopt common law with regard to marriage, get ready for intense LGBT pressure, including severe economic blackmail, against that state. Were this to happen in your state, where would you stand?
  • What Are Inalienable Rights and Liberty Worth to You?  (March 16, 2018) Our form of government rests upon a foundation that includes the principle “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Is the right to marry also one of those rights, or is it a right that comes from and can be adjusted and changed by government and government alone? When the Supreme Court insisted that states cannot deny same-sex couples the “right” to marry, it essentially said to them they are beholden to the Court’s interpretation of the Constitution and that no law is higher. Marriage, however, was instituted by God and predates the Supreme Court, Congress, the US Presidency, and, for that matter, the United States of America itself! As a matter of fact, the institution of marriage predates any and all governments. Are we willing to push back against the Supreme Court on this matter? If we’re not willing to push back on the issue of marriage, will we be willing to push back on any issue? Where do you stand?

So, anyone who says, Hey, if you don’t agree with same-sex marriage, make sure you don’t have one! is sorely misled—and misleading others. Same-sex marriage affects us all! Let’s make sure we’re ready to resist in the most Christlike and effective of ways.

The future of liberty depends on it!

 

Part 9 is available here.

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Listen to the latest (March 21, 2018) FACT Report — “Are Inalienable Rights Dead?” — from the Family Action Council of Tennessee.

top image credit: www.lightstock.com
image credit: David Fowler

Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 7

This is all coming from a tolerant loving community? An open-minded community that seeks to be understood and wants to understand others?

We’re not going anywhere…. We will love anybody who walks through our doors. We will not condemn anybody—but we will not back down from what Jesus tells us.

Pastor Jeremy Schossau of Metro City Church outside Detroit, Michigan—


A Plea to the Church


Key point: The debate over marriage, sexuality, and gender issues represents the front lines of spiritual warfare today.


Go here for summaries of all the articles in this series.

Myth #14: Same-sex marriage has implications for the same-sex couple only, and not for others. “If don’t agree with same-sex marriage,” we were told, “don’t worry. “Changing the definition of marriage won’t affect you!”

Fact: Same-sex marriage and all the “rights” that flow from it relating to gender and gender identity issues will affect everyone and every institution—perhaps especially the church. The good news, however, is that the church can help people find the truth about matters related to gender and sexuality. Everyone needs a compass in his or her life. Today is a day of opportunity, and the church must seize it!

Lake Ingle is a senior at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he is a religious studies major. At this point, however, his planned graduation, scheduled for May, is in doubt. Why? Because he challenged his professor in the classroom, pointing out that officially, biologists say only two genders—male and female—exist. You can learn the details of what is happening to him here.

Sadly, this is the kind of day and world in which we live! It is undeniable that confusion over gender and gender identity issues has intensified since June of 2015 when the Supreme Court struck down laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman in all fifty states. Moreover, the confusion will grow even more widespread and intense. Everyone, and every institution, will be affected.

Indoctrinating the Young

It is well known that in education, the militant LGBT movement doesn’t focus just on young adults in colleges and universities. They hone in on children, even kindergarteners! Statement #93 of our “95 Theses for the Protestant Evangelical Church in the 21st Century” reads as follows:

[T]he militant LGBT movement is targeting America’s children and is succeeding in indoctrinating them. The movement is using America’s institutions, including the public schools, in their quest. The church has failed to educate itself regarding this specific threat, has failed to warn parents, and has failed to equip them to protect their children from the onslaught. Again, for more information go herehere, and here.

To this group of three articles, we can add this one as well.

Even something seemingly as innocuous as a picture of a teacher’s spouse on his or her desk can make a profound impression on a child. A male teacher may have a photo of his “husband” on his desk, or a woman teacher a photo of her “wife.” “Who is that?” a student may ask, and the answer communicates a great deal more than the idea that the individual pictured is a member of the teacher’s family. Parents’ objections will have no effect, because the government, after all, has said that two men or two women can “marry” — and that by itself is essentially a verdict that the relationship is normal.1

Five Audio Clips and a Video Tell an Important Story

Returning to the responsibility of the church with regard the LGBT agenda and it’s impact on children, families, and society, it is good news indeed that not every church has remained silent against the backdrop of the militant LGBT effort to indoctrinate kids. Yet too few have, and those that do are vilified. Recently, one church simply moved to offer a listening ear and loving guidance to young women with questions and concerns about sexuality and gender identity issues. Here’s what happened.

Metro City Church is a Christ-centered, outreach-oriented, multi-campus church outside of Detroit, Michigan. Jeremy Schossau [pronounced SHAW-so] is the founder and lead pastor of the church. Pastor Jeremy

Pastor Jeremy Schossau
  • understands the desperate need teens have for clarity on gender and gender related issues,
  • realizes how the Bible and a biblical worldview provide answers to pressing questions, even about that, and
  • seeks to address those pressing questions not only with biblical truth but also with compassion and love.

The Workshop

Moreover, he leads his church to do the same in all three of these areas. Accordingly, earlier this year, Metro City Church offered a workshop for girls ages 12-16. The “Unashamed Identity Workshop” is designed to help girls with questions about gender identity or who are struggling with uncertainty about their sexual orientation. At the sessions, participants find caring adults who listen. Then, through conversation and biblical counsel, leaders answer questions and provide loving guidance. No one is condemned or coerced. Among other things, the young women learn that at their age, asking questions is normal, and having concerns about one’s sexual orientation does not mean an individual is gay, lesbian, or bisexual (also go here). The church launched the program and advertised it through its website and Facebook page.

Kudos to Pastor Jeremy and his church! They have done exactly the kind of thing that Jesus would do were He still on the earth. He would be unafraid of any issue and willing to speak both compassionately and truthfully in order to meet people’s needs. Although He never intentionally would try to be controversial, He would not shy away from any topic just because it might be controversial.

And consider this. People in the church who are struggling with these kinds of issues often feel they’ll be misunderstood or condemned if they ask questions or share concerns. Just offering such a workshop sends an important message: Here is a safe place to ask questions and find answers. Of course, the church must to an excellent job leading the group; but when it does, the sessions themselves reinforce the initial invitation to come and ask questions. 

Despite all these benefits, a backlash erupted—from outside the church walls.

The Backlash

Quite likely, many people objected to what the church was doing because they didn’t fully understand the nature of the workshop sessions and just how the girls involved were being counseled. At least some others—perhaps even many—either didn’t care how the church was doing what it was doing or they knew and engaged in a deliberate misinformation campaign. Add political pressure to the mix as well. It didn’t take long for some Michigan state legislators to urge the state’s attorney general to investigate the church.

Metro City Church was thrust onto the national stage, and Pastor Jeremy made every effort to clarify what his church was doing, why, and how he and his church saw the people in the larger community.

Many churches refuse to address anything related to homosexuality or gender issues because it is “too controversial.” They fear they might become targets of militant gay activists, just as Metro City Church has become. While I understand their fears, they need to realize that even if they “stay on the sidelines” of this issue, they still will not be spared the effects of militant gay activists’ efforts to silence the church.

There’s something else—something I don’t understand. I don’t understand a church’s unwillingness to help people in the areas where they are questioning and hurting the most. If we do not help our young people sort out issues relating to homosexuality and gender identity, then others will “help” them in ways we don’t want them to, and we will have lost our opportunity set their feet on the path God wants them to walk! I’m not talking about coercion, but loving guidance. This is a spiritual battle, and pastor Jeremy and his church, to their eternal credit, are on the front lines!

The Lies Teens Hear and Are Tempted to Believe

On the February 13th edition of Family Research Council’s radio program Washington Watch, FRC President Tony Perkins talked with Pastor Jeremy about the workshop.

Take a moment and reflect on what Pastor Jeremy just said. Members of the gay community—or at least some members of the gay community—are telling young people that if they are questioning their sexuality or sexual orientation, it’s an indication that they must be gay! Yet having questions about one’s sexuality in the teen years is quite normal, and it categorically does not indicate he or she is a homosexual or will become one. Significantly, nor do feelings of attraction to the same sex! In the vast, vast majority of cases, these feelings will naturally disappear! Young people are being deceived—and if the church will not counter these lies, who will?

Young people are being deceived about gender identity issues, and if the church will not counter these lies, who will?

Bringing Parents and Teens Together

There’s something else Metro City Church is doing right. It is involving parents in the workshop. Parental participation is encouraged, but not mandatory if the teen feels uncomfortable with her parents being present at all the sessions. This ought to be a no-brainer to people, but apparently parental involvement frightens militant gay activists.

A Platform to Declare the Gospel

Finally, it is noteworthy that God has used this “firestorm” to give Metro City Church and Pastor Jeremy Schossau a national platform to present the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have discussed at length the relationship between God’s design for marriage and the gospel, and considered how upholding marriage is one of the most effective ways to uphold the gospel. Metro City Church and its pastor are remaining faithful, and they are not backing down. Consistently, they are telling the truth in love!

The Challenge for the Rest of Us

Metro City Church has become a target of militant gay activists, but one reason this church has been so hard hit is because so few other churches have stood alongside it, doing the same kind of thing Metro City Church is doing. The more “targets” gay activists believe they must hit, the more difficult it will be for them to hit all of them effectively. Remember what we said earlier: Even if you try to sit on the sidelines of the spiritual battles occurring over gender and gender identity, you still will not escape the effects of militant gay activists’ efforts to silence the church. Are you going to cooperate with them when they go after your church and maneuver to keep you and your faith community from sharing the gospel? Are you going to cooperate with them now by never addressing sexuality and gender identity issues in any context? Young people are struggling and looking for solid answers. What would God have you and your church do? You can begin to learn about these issues by reading this article, and this one. Reading these articles represents a modest start, but it’s a step in the right direction. Check back here periodically for additional links. We’ll try to give you more help as you plan steps your church can take in this area of ministry.

Sitting on the sidelines with regard to these issues is not a viable option for a Bible-believing, Christ-centered church that truly cares about and loves people.

The lesson for the church at large is clear. Hebrews 13:4 states in unambiguous terms, “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

First Corinthians 6:9-11 is instructive for us as well.

[D]o you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (emphasis added).

Who will show sinners the way to freedom—the way we also didn’t deserve but found by God’s grace?

Will your church do its part?

Will you do yours?

 

Part 8 is available here.

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

1David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee gets credit for this illustration.

top image: www.lightstock.com

Note: With the exception of the clip from FRC’s Washington Watch, the audio clips featured in this article were lifted from this sermon.

Unless otherwise designated, all Scriptures have been taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 6

These activists aren’t after a “live-and-let-live” policy. They’re on a march to force all Americans to celebrate and affirm what they do under the penalty of law.
Tony Perkins


Key point: Same-sex marriage never was the ultimate goal of LGBT activists. Rather, “marriage equality” is a means to even more destructive ends. In the process, advocates of man-woman marriage are being punished severely for their views. Yet, even those who stay silent cannot remain unaffected by the societal upheaval that is taking place.


You can view brief summaries of all the articles in this series here.

Myth #14: Same-sex marriage has implications for the same-sex couple only, and not for others. “If don’t agree with same-sex marriage,” we were told, “don’t worry. “Changing the definition of marriage won’t affect you!”

Fact: Same-sex marriage affects everyone because it influences the culture with regard to everything from perceptions about what marriage is to attitudes about how to deal with those who dare to express support for the natural family. Those who dissent, even politely, are severely punished—under the banners of “diversity” and “tolerance.” These ideals are misleading, because genuine diversity isn’t pursued, nor is tolerance practiced.

Barronelle Stutzman

Let’s begin by highlighting briefly how advocates of man-woman marriage often are treated. Here we see some of the clearest evidence that same-sex marriage adversely affects people who oppose it and act on their convictions. We aren’t talking here about people who treat homosexuals rudely, but individuals who, based on their deeply held religious beliefs, politely turn down opportunities use their talent and their goods and services in same-sex weddings.

Jack Phillips

On December 5, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner and operator Jack Phillips has been told by the state of Colorado that he must provide custom-made wedding cakes for same-sex couples. Keep in mind he gladly does business with homosexuals in all other contexts—but believing that marriage is between one man and one woman, he could not, in good conscience, participate in a same-sex wedding. He was sued, and his case has gone all the way to the Supreme Court.

In commenting on Jack’s case and where we as a nation now have arrived in the debate over what rights flow from government recognition of same-sex marriage, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families observes that years ago,

Gary Bauer

the left and the radical gay rights movement made a version of a libertarian, live-and-let-live argument: You can marry who you want, I just want to marry who I want. And a lot of Christians, particularly young Christians, bought that argument. It was, we were told, a matter of love to accept it.

But as is almost always the case with radical social change, what started out as a libertarian appeal inevitably turned into a movement to use of the full power of the federal government to threaten and browbeat everyone into kneeling in submission to the new normal.

It’s a variation of what has happened in the abortion debate. The pro-abortion movement started out arguing that women should have “the right to choose” to control their own bodies, but recently has focused its efforts on forcing nuns to subsidize abortions.

Jack Phillips isn’t the only wedding service provider who believes in natural, man-woman marriage (also go here). Yet these attempt to coerce those who do not wish to celebrate same-sex weddings into actively participating in them isn’t the only way the new definition of marriage is affecting more than just gay and lesbian couples.

A Means to Many Different Radical Ends

It is now clear that “marriage equality” has not been the only goal of militant homosexual activists—and probably this has not even been the primary goal. Now that the government recognizes same-sex unions as marriage, activists can use that very fact as a crowbar to pry open a great many other “opportunities,”—legal and otherwise—for themselves and for other LGBT individuals. In other words, as important as marriage is, we are wise to see the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling as about a great deal more than marriage alone. It is about marriage—but it’s also about everything else! If you don’t realize this, you have been hibernating during the last two-and-a-half years as marriage debate has given way to debates over whether biological males can use women’s restrooms and whether children who express discontent with their biological sex should be given puberty-blocking drugs or other hormone therapy.


The Supreme Court ruling redefining marriage is about marriage—but it also is about everything else!


Dr. James Dobson made some dire predictions just weeks before the Supreme Court issued its decision about marriageHe wrote of a torrent of lawsuits that would be coming against Christians and others who believe in man-woman marriage. He also said,

Pastors may have to officiate at same-sex marriages, and they could be prohibited from preaching certain passages of Scripture. Those who refuse to comply will not only be threatened legally, but many will be protested and picketed by activists. Perhaps this is a worst-case scenario, but maybe not. Prison is also a possibility.

Moreover, it isn’t far-fetched at all, Dobson contended, to envision that Christian wedding service providers will have to choose between serving at same-sex weddings and going out of business. And Christian colleges, especially those that receive federal money through any avenue at all—even individual student grants and loans—could be prohibited by law from teaching the biblical view of marriage. Dobson went on to cite a then-recent piece from liberal newspaper columnist Frank Bruni, who had written that church leaders ought to be forced to remove homosexuality from their list of sins.

In the same opinion piece, Bruni also said that the

debate about religious freedom should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can indeed jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.

Professional counselors, added Dr. Dobson, would become yet another target of the state, which would issue regulations mandating their practices adhere to the government’s definitions of marriage and morality. School textbooks, too, would be rewritten to advance the gay agenda even further. After all, if marriage is not just for a man and a woman but also for two men or two women, then homosexuality is on par with heterosexuality—and all government entities, including schools, should treat them the same way.

Right Before Our Eyes

Do any of Dr. Dobson’s warnings sound extreme today, nearly three years after same-sex marriage was made legal nationwide by judicial fiat? There is no question that the push for everything LGBT activists want has accelerated—and a great deal of what Dr. Dobson predicted is happening right before our eyes! Mark it down! If Jack Phillips loses his case before the Supreme Court, the dam will burst and a flood of litigation will come crashing down on those who believe in man-woman marriage. These lawsuits will relate to every context in which dissent can be expressed. Current trends portend that this is precisely what will happen.


If Jack Phillips loses his case before the Supreme Court, the dam will burst and a flood of litigation will come crashing down on those who believe in man-woman marriage. These lawsuits will relate to every context in which dissent can be expressed.


The assault on counseling and counselors currently is ongoing. Keep in mind that with regard to counseling and therapy, gay activists’ goal is to prohibit clients from getting help to overcome unwanted same-sex attraction and help to grapple with other related issues. Not surprisingly, part of the strategy is to misrepresent and demonize this type of professional help. You can watch one professional counselor set the record straight here. If anyone is struggling with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues and wants help, shouldn’t he or she be able to get it? Not if militant gay activists have their way!


If anyone is struggling with same-sex attraction and/or gender identity issues and wants help, shouldn’t he or she be able to get it?


The push to promote the LGBT agenda in schools started long before the Obergefell decision was released (go here, here,  hereherehere, and here.). This article shows how the marriage ruling makes the problem much, much worse—and harder to fight.

A Total Makeover of Society

So, why can’t two people who love each other marry? This was the question we repeatedly were asked. It sounds innocent enough, but homosexuals have not been singled out for mistreatment at this point. For millennia, there have been a good many loving relationships that governments have not recognized as marriages or potential marriages. A father cannot marry his daughter; nor can an individual marry his or her pet cat or dog; and two men or two women couldn’t marry because their relationship also did not and cannot qualify as a marriage. Now, however, the government says it does.

Quite tellingly, a lesbian activist admitted five years ago that the real goal of her movement is destroying marriage altogether. Masha Gessen said,

It’s a no-brainer that (homosexual activists) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. …(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist.


(F)ighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there — because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.
—Masha Gessen, lesbian journalist and activist—


Tim Huelskamp

Tim Huelskamp, a three-term congressman from Kansas’s first district, understood this. CNSnews reporter Lauretta Brown summarized Huelskamp’s statements at the 2014 March for Marriage this way.

Congressional Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) said he agreed that the ultimate goal of homosexual “marriage” is to destroy the institution of marriage altogether by diminishing it to whatever type of contract people sign on to and, at the same time, denying the natural right of children to be raised by a mother and a father.

Author and political science professor Paul Kengor also sees the goal as the total destruction of marriage and the family. The radical left, he says, has been trying to obliterate the family for two hundred years. Now, in and through same-sex marriage, militant LGBT activists have found the perfect means by which they can fulfill their cherished dream.

Societal Chaos

Just how radical will it get? Fasten your seatbelt! Among other things, LBGT activists are “now encouraging society to view children as ‘genderless.'” Canada issued the first gender-neutral government ID card for an infant in April of last year, and not long after that, the state of Oregon began issuing state ID cards and driver’s licenses that also are “gender-neutral.” The designation for the individual’s sex can be M, F, or X. Ponder this for a moment: What would it be like to grow up from infancy in a setting where the adults taking care of you refuse to acknowledge that you are a boy or a girl?


What would it be like to grow up from infancy in a setting where the adults taking care of you refuse to acknowledge that you are a boy or a girl?


Leftists, including LGBT activists, will continue to advocate this type of approach to reality, even as they also attack everyone who dares to publicly make the case for a biology-based gender identity framework and the traditional family. If allowed to continue unchecked, activists’ efforts will lead to societal chaos. Note carefully that radicals wouldn’t be able to accomplish all this, certainly not nearly as effectively, without same-sex marriage.

Ben Shapiro

Within a few days after the Supreme Court released its decision redefining marriage, Ben Shapiro expressed concerns similar to those of Dr. Dobson. He wrote,

Leftists have already moved to ban nonprofit status for religious institutions that refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages; leftists have already sued into oblivion religious business owners who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings. It will not stop there. Religious schools will be targeted. Then, so will homeschooling programs. The secular religion of the left has been set free to pursue its own crusade against the infidel.

And who is “the infidel” in this case? Anyone who does not share, and yes, celebrate, everything about LGBT agendas and lifestyles. Or it might just be someone who wants a semblance of order in society.

The Grieving Don’t Even Get a Break!

In Cincinnati, Ohio on March 7, 2018, a male employee at a funeral home won the legal right to dress as a woman when he performs his duties for his employer. It was a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit that ruled in the employee’s favor. Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Michigan funeral home and its majority owner in this case. ADF’s report on the ruling read in part,

The company’s sole corporate officer and majority owner, Thomas Rost, is a devout Christian whose faith informs the way he serves customers with compassion during one of life’s most challenging moments.

The male employee served as a funeral director, regularly interacting with the public and grieving family members and friends. After informing the funeral home of his intention to begin dressing as a female at work, the employee was dismissed for refusing to comply with the same company dress code that all other men are required to follow while on the job.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took the matter to court on behalf of the dismissed worker. Note that the EEOC, a government entity, contended for the LGBT position. On the first round, a lower court ruled in favor of the funeral home. In its ruling, the federal district court cited the Federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and stated that it protected a business owner’s right to enforce a dress code rooted in genuine religious convictions. The EEOC appealed that decision and won.

Gary McCaleb, ADF Senior Counsel, had this to say after the 6th Circuit panel overturned the lower court’s ruling:

American business owners, especially those serving the grieving and the vulnerable, should be free to live and work consistently with their faith. The funeral home’s dress code is tailored to serve those mourning the loss of a loved one. Today’s decision misreads court precedents that have long protected businesses which properly differentiate between men and women in their dress and grooming code policies.

The multi-location funeral home has won more than one award for the services it has rendered in the three communities where it is located in and near Detroit. Now, according to the court, it must allow a man in women’s clothing  to serve as a funeral director. This means he must be allowed to wear women’s clothing while he performs his work with grieving families! Would you want a man in women’s clothing to coordinate the arrangements for the memorial service and burial of one of your loved ones? Might this court ruling set the stage for the eventual closure of the funeral home? One doesn’t have to have a wild imagination to envision this scenario.

Yes, it is a myth that same-sex marriage affects only same-sex couples. There are even more incidents to highlight as we seek to expose this important myth. Tune in next time to read about at least two more events.

You will see evidence, not only of the marriage ruling’s severity, but also of its pervasiveness.

And you’ll understand even more thoroughly why we must contend for natural marriage in robust and compelling ways.

 

Part 7 is available here.

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

image credit, top image: rainbow flag flying in the Castro District of San Francisco, California

image credit: Gary Bauer at the 2007 Washington DC Values Voters conference

image credit: Ben Shapiro at the University of Missouri in 2015

 

 

 

Myths that Led to the Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in the United States, Part 5

At the most basic level, marriage and its offshoot, the family, are based on the sexual complementarity of a man and a woman. It is a union in fact, not just in form, based on a conjugal sexual act that unites the man and wife in a bond that includes every level of their being: biological, physical, emotional, mental, mystical, and spiritual. It is the primary reason we maintain that homosexual relationships, even if granted marital status by secular law, can never be legitimate marriages, or even unions, in concept or in fact.
Illinois Family Institute


Key point: Nature clearly defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Refusing to recognize same-sex relationships as marriages, therefore, isn’t arbitrarily discriminating against gays or denying them equality; rather, it is upholding reality and rejecting a lie.


You can view summaries of all the articles in this series here.

Recently we’ve been highlighting a number of myths that led to the imposition of same-sex marriage in the United States by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015. Remember that a myth is a falsehood that is widely believed and accepted as true. To see what myths we’ve discussed thus far, go here. In this article, we will highlight two more.


A myth is a falsehood that is widely believed and accepted as true.


Myth #12: All discrimination is bad and must be criminalized.

Fact: Discrimination based on prejudicial factors such as race with the clear intent of mistreating certain individuals or groups has no place in a civilized society. Accordingly, such discrimination should be, and in many cases has been, outlawed. However, not all discrimination is wrong or harmful. Some discriminatory actions are appropriate and even needed. Indeed, these actions are based on rational, clear-headed, and constructive thinking.

People and societies discriminate all the time, and they do so legitimately. Truck drivers are required to have commercial drivers’ licenses, and rightly so. If you don’t have one, don’t expect a trucking company to consider hiring you. Editors, writers, and journalists also must be skilled in their lines of work; you wouldn’t expect a news organization to hire as a journalist someone who couldn’t write. Furthermore, patients waiting to see a doctor in an emergency room have a right to assume the hospital discriminated against unqualified applicants to fill ER positions! All of this is discrimination. But—and here’s the important point—it isn’t arbitrary discrimination.

Consider one more example. Should a white actor have been considered for the main role in 42, the 2013 film about the life, challenges, and accomplishments of baseball superstar Jackie Robinson, the first African-American player to play on a Major League team? Of course not! It was right and even expected that Robinson would be portrayed by a black actor, and no one was wrong to discriminate against white actors when casting the part.1 Chadwick Boseman, who currently can be seen in the Marvel superhero film Black Pantherlanded the role.

Why Limiting Marriage to One Man and One Woman Isn’t Wrong or Bigoted

In their book Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, authors Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet affirm the legitimacy of discrimination with regard to the meaning of natural marriage:

John Stonestreet

Societies always privilege some relationships to qualify as marriage, while they discriminate against others. The distinctions made between relationships can either be based on essential qualities or on arbitrary qualities. Distinctions based on essential qualities are not made in order to insult or trivialize the quality or sincerity of a couple’s love and devotion for one another. Rather, distinctions based on essential qualities are those that are made between certain relationships that qualify as marriage and other that don’t. They are based on the sort of unique relationship marriage is and the purpose it alone serves.2

Sean McDowell

McDowell and Stonestreet go on to contrast this kind of discrimination to the Jim Crow laws that prohibited interracial marriage. We had our own discussion about this in a previous article. These distinctions were arbitrary because they were racist. In other words, they were based on the subjective assumption that certain people, because of the color of their skin (an irrefutably immutable trait with which they had been born), were less valuable than others.

Not all discrimination based on sex is wrong, either. The two male authors aren’t offended that they can’t become official members of MOPS—an organization for mothers of preschoolers. And they’re also perfectly OK with not being given a senior citizen discount at McDonalds when they purchase coffee. Why? Because they haven’t yet reached the age to qualify for it. These distinctions, they point out, are not arbitrary; nor are they arbitrarily applied. If senior discounts were given to everyone, they wouldn’t be senior discounts at all!3

This is the point about marriage. A “marriage” isn’t really a marriage unless it involves a man and a woman—one member of each of the two sexes. If two men or two women are involved, the relationship can’t be a marriage, no matter how many times it is called one and no matter how long government and society pretend it is one. The longer a society pretends, the greater the price it will have to pay.

Myth #13: Equality for gays with regard to marriage will be achieved only when discrimination preventing gays from marrying each other is eliminated.

Fact: Natural marriage itself treats everyone equally. Allowing two men or two women to “marry” creates, not equality, but a lie that will exact a heavy cost from society, especially its children.

In June of 2013 after the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act Unconstitutional, Pastor Wes McAdams wrote,

Wes McAdams

If a man is a homosexual, either in the sense of having homosexual attractions or in the sense of having had practiced homosexuality, there are no laws against him getting married—to a woman. A homosexual man has the exact same rights as a heterosexual man; they both have the right to marry a woman. Likewise for women, there is total equality. All women have the right to marry a man. I am not being flippant about this issue. Like it or not, that is the definition of equality.…

McAdams goes on to name some relationships that don’t qualify as a marriage—a person and an animal, a person and an inanimate object, and, yes, two men or two women. He continues,

But why? Why can’t our government call the union of any two (or more) entities a “marriage”? Because the government didn’t create the institution of marriage; God did. God has simply given the government—for the good of society—the authority to regulate marriage (Romans 13:1-7). So, because the government did not create marriage, it has no right to define it; God has already defined it.

As we said in a previous post, natural, man-woman marriage affirms everything about what it means to be a human being. Same-sex “marriage,” however,

doesn’t just distort that affirmation; it eliminates it—because if two men or two women can marry each other and have exactly what one man and one woman married to each other have (this notion obviously is a lie), marriage has nothing to do with sex, procreation, children, fatherhood, motherhood, male-female dynamics in a relationship, or anything else that truly makes marriage what it is, and that makes being a human being what he or she is. Marriage, after all, is is unique among human beings. It is unknown in the animal kingdom!

My next statement will offend some people. I mean no offense, only to convey the truth. State laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman didn’t keep legitimate marriages from occurring; they kept counterfeit marriages from taking place.


State laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman didn’t keep legitimate marriages from occurring; they kept counterfeit ones from taking place. 


The Obergefell ruling equates counterfeit marriages with the real thing.

Obergefell essentially says that
1 man + 1 woman
=
1 man + 1 man
or
1 woman + 1 woman.

This absolutely cannot be true. This article highlights ten ways the assertions and implications of Obergefell deny reality. Just as treating counterfeit money as real money exacts a price—even when this happens out of ignorance—so too does treating counterfeit marriages as real. Mark it down! Sometimes the most innocent among us are the hardest hit. It’s especially hard on the children of same-sex couples. Through no fault of their own, they are out either a mother or a father as a result of the very nature of their parents’ “marriages.”

An Illustration from Science

An instructive example comes from the field of chemistry.  I readily acknowledge that other examples from chemistry could be used to argue against my point, so the illustration has some limitations. Even so, it is extremely helpful for us, because it so clearly illustrates what marriage is and what it cannot be. This presentation begins with the words, “Another type of bond—” but remember that this chemical reaction is demonstrating “one type of bond” among human beings that has no equal.

You also need to know this, if you don’t already: The ionic bond between an atom of sodium, a metal, and an atom of chlorine, a gas, creates a molecule of salt.


The ionic bond between an atom of sodium and an atom of chlorine creates a molecule of salt.


Therefore:

  • We don’t call two atoms of sodium salt, because they’re not!
  • Nor do we call two atoms of chlorine salt. They’re not, either!
  • Yet, when an atom of sodium and an atom of chlorine come together, their innate chemical properties create a reaction that gives sodium a charge of + 1, and chlorine a charge of – 1. These opposite charges bring the two atoms together to form a compound that is an altogether different substance than either sodium or chlorine. Sodium chloride is salt.
image of a grain of table salt as seen by a scanning electron microscope

Do you see the point? Of course, not just any man and any woman will marry—but when a man and a woman come together in marriage, their inherent differences serve to establish a bond that is altogether different from any relationship that two men or two women can have between themselves. A new kind of relationship is created; a new family begins.

This video comes even closer to presenting our analogy. It highlights a few aspects of this chemical bond that don’t parallel marriage, but overall, in the most basic of ways, it shows how it does.

So you see, marriage is what it is because it is what it is inherently. Discriminating  against same-sex couples by saying their relationships don’t qualify as marriages is not discriminating arbitrarily, but purposefully, in accord with what nature teaches.

What are some things that can happen when government seeks to overrule nature’s definition of marriage? How bad can it get? The myth we will consider next time will give us an opportunity to address these questions.

Be sure to return.

 

Part 6 is available here.

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Notes:

1David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, gets credit for this example.

2,3Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet, Same-Sex Marriage: Athoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, (Grand Rapids, Baker Publishing Group, 2014), 26.

 

Billy Graham’s Critical Hour of Decision—and How God Used It to Change the World

As you go through this world with all its storms and its trials…keep your eyes on the Bible, keep your eyes on Christ, and you won’t go wrong. Don’t you follow your feelings. You follow Christ.
Billy Graham (November 7, 1918–February 21, 2018)—

 

Billy Graham’s evangelistic ministry began in 1947. Although the man who would become the world’s best known evangelist had been the preacher at seven evangelistic campaigns prior to the crusade that began in September, 1949 in Los Angeles, it was during the Los Angeles campaign—his eighth—that the press took notice. When it did, Graham was thrust onto the national stage.

Interestingly, the series of meetings held just prior to those in Los Angeles didn’t go well at all, at least not according to human standards. That crusade was held in Altoona, Pennsylvania. On one hand, apathy seemed to prevail, just as it could in any city or town. On the other, various ministries in the area were competing with one another, and squabbles broke out over insignificant issues. Also, the larger religious community was polarized. Altoona was home to several advocates of a strong fundamentalist perspective, and tensions erupted between them and others on the opposite side of the theological spectrum. And as if all that weren’t enough, during one of Graham’s sermons, a woman in the choir with obvious mental problems yelled repeatedly—then she wouldn’t cooperate when members of the evangelistic team tried to calm her down. Billy Graham later wrote that after the services in Altoona, “I pondered whether God had really called me to evangelism after all.”1

Billy decided not to quit—not yet. Looking ahead to Los Angeles, Graham and his team evaluated the most common criticisms people had offered regarding evangelistic meetings. They took steps to address those issues, which included complaints about finances and concerns about a lack of follow-up for people who indicated they wanted to know Christ.

Two large circus tents were erected together as one in a parking lot in downtown LA. The resulting canvas arena could seat 6,000 people. The first service of what was originally planned as a three-week campaign was held on Sunday, September 25; but near the conclusion of the three-week period, several of the organizers asked Graham to extend the effort one more week. Billy agreed to do so after a well-known radio personality attended one of the services, came under great conviction, and committed his life to Christ.

William Randolph Hearst

During the fourth week, the news media took notice, which represented a sharp contrast from news reporters’ prior indifference to the crusade. William Randolph Hearst, an influential power broker in the newspaper industry, eyed the meetings and told reporters to “Puff Graham

The evangelistic services became the talk of the city. Stories of changed lives—including those of numerous well-known individuals—abounded. The tent was enlarged so it could hold up to 9,000. Yet as massive as it became, even this coliseum couldn’t accommodate everyone who attended. Loudspeakers had to be set up outside the tent for those who couldn’t get inside. The time was extended as well, until, eight weeks after it started, on Sunday, November 20, the last meeting of the Los Angeles crusade was held. Graham was thirty years old at the time. In these eight weeks, 350,000 people had flocked to hear him—and about 3,000 individuals made decisions for Christ. The Los Angeles crusade was a turning point for Graham and his ministry. As it turned out, it was a turning point for the nation and the world as well.

Billy Graham in 1954

An Even Bigger Story

Poster for a 1946 Youth for Christ Rally in Detroit that alluded to the European Tour

As newsworthy as the Los Angeles meetings were, perhaps the bigger story is what happened in Graham’s life between Altoona and Los Angeles. Billy Graham was struggling. Chuck Templeton, a close friend with whom he had ministered in England during an effort led by Youth for Christ several years earlier, had begun to doubt the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. Templeton was no lightweight. He had been pastor of one of the largest churches in Toronto. He was an unusually gifted communicator, and people had sensed God’s hand on him. In fact, before Chuck Templeton began vocalizing his doubts, many people who had heard both Templeton and Graham preach were especially impressed with Templeton. But now he’d resigned his church. He had become a student at Princeton Theological Seminary and was captivated by intellectual arguments against the trustworthiness of the Bible. One of Billy’s friends overheard Chuck say, “Poor Billy, I feel sorry for him. He and I are taking two different roads.”2

At that point, though, Graham was not on a path different from the one Templeton was traveling. Rather, he stood facing a fork in the road, struggling over which path to take. He never doubted Christ’s deity or God’s plan of salvation. Yet He agonized over whether or not the Scriptures could be trusted, whether or not they were fully reliable.

At the time of his struggle, Billy also was influenced by Miss Henrietta Mears, who was on the staff of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California. Miss Mears had built a phenomenal Sunday school at her church. In the first three years of her leadership, the enrollment grew tenfold to 4,500. A sincere and humble lady with a positive, enthusiastic manner, Mears strongly believed in the authority and reliability of the Bible and encouraged Billy to do the same. But she didn’t do so with a blind eye to scholarship. Mears was familiar with the arguments being used to discredit the Bible.

Meanwhile, Templeton made no secret of his views: “Billy, you’re fifty years out of date. People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do. Your faith is too simple. Your language is out of date. You’re going to have to learn the new jargon if you’re going to be successful in your ministry.”3


Billy, you’re fifty years out of date. People no longer accept the Bible as being inspired the way you do. Your faith is too simple. Your language is out of date. You’re going to have to learn the new jargon if you’re going to be successful in your ministry.
—Charles Templeton, who, at one time, was thought to be more likely to influence the world for Christ than Billy Graham—


Billy Graham later recalled, “I ached as if I were on the rack, with Miss Mears stretching me one way and Chuck Templeton stretching me the other. Alone in my room one evening, I read every verse of Scripture I could think of that had to do with ‘thus saith the Lord.’”4 Among other things, he reflected on Jesus’ own attitude toward the Bible—one of wholehearted acceptance and affirmation. Billy knew that if he could not trust God’s Word, he would have to leave the ministry.

Finally, he took a walk. He’d become a Christian years before, but this also would be a critical hour of decision5 for him. He continued to struggle for a while, but at last he came to a point of surrender. He knelt and opened his Bible. It was too dark to read, so he prayed. He recalls that his prayer went something like this: “O God! There are many things in this book I do not understand. There are many problems with it for which I have no solution. There are many seeming contradictions. There are some areas in it that do not seem to correlate with modern science. I can’t answer some of the philosophical and psychological questions Chuck and others are raising.”

Billy knew he needed to say more, and soon he felt liberated to say it: “Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.”6


Father, I am going to accept this as Thy Word—by faith! I’m going to allow faith to go beyond my intellectual questions and doubts, and I will believe this to be Your inspired Word.
—Billy Graham, in a prayer of commitment, at a critical hour of decision—


As he rose from his place of prayer, Graham later recalled, he felt God’s power as he had not felt it in many, many weeks. While he had numerous questions that remained unanswered, he now had chosen the path he would take. He writes, “In my heart and mind, I knew a spiritual battle in my soul had been fought and won.”7

The evangelistic campaign in Los Angeles would begin one month later. It would be a series of meetings that would set the stage for a ministry God would use to change the world. Yes, that’s how critical Billy Graham’s hour of decision was!

Setting the Record Straight

It’s important here for us to make four clarifications.

First, we do not mean to imply here that if an effort for God “flops,” it was because the person who was seeking to serve Him was having theological problems or struggles. Church history testifies that many initially apparent “flops” actually turned out to be tremendous successes when viewed long term. Yet it is undeniable that if a spokesman for God isn’t sure what he believes, God’s blessing on his efforts will be hindered.

Second, we also are not saying that a trust in God’s Word automatically will bear immediate abundant fruit, as was the case with the crusade in Los Angeles. Of course, God’s promise is sure:

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please.
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Sometimes, however, fruit does not appear until many, many years after the seeds were planted.

A third thing we are not implying is that a person must or even should believe God’s Word in a total blind leap of faith, without any rational reasons for doing so. Faith in God’s Word is reasonable.


Faith in God’s Word is reasonable.


Lee Strobel

Just ask Lee Strobel, a former investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune who was an atheist. He became a Christian after he investigated the historicity and viability of Christianity. After becoming a believer, he wrote an entire book titled The Case for Faith.8

One final word of caution is in order. This is our fourth consideration. While faith is reasonable, we must never approach the Bible expecting all our questions to be answered. If the Bible really does have God as its ultimate author, as the Bible affirms (see 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21) and as Christians historically have believed, should we not expect that at least some parts of it will be beyond our comprehension? God, after all, is infinite, and we are finite. God has revealed Himself in ways we can understand, but part of the understanding we acquire when we learn about God includes the reasonable idea that we cannot fathom everything about Him and must exercise faith regarding what we don’t see or comprehend.

Let’s put it another way. If you had no unanswered questions about the Scriptures, you wouldn’t need to exercise faith. Keep in mind that “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to must believe that He is, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Why does God require faith? I believe at least part of the answer is that you can’t have any kind of meaningful, deep relationship with someone you don’t trust!


Why does God require faith? I believe at least part of the answer is that you can’t have any kind of meaningful, deep relationship with someone you don’t trust!


Have you trusted Christ as your Savior, as Billy Graham did when he was 15 years old? If not, you can do so today. Here’s how.

As a Christian, have you experienced doubts about God’s Word? Doubts and struggles occur at times in the Christian life, but we need to make sure we don’t respond to them in the end with unbelief, as Chuck Templeton did. Thus, a critical hour of decision like the one Billy Graham had may be necessary for you.

God can be trusted, and He honors those who put their faith in Him.

You can take that, my friends, to the bank!

 

Copyright © 2018 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All rights reserved.


newsreel on the LA Crusade, 1949


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.

top image: Billy Graham (right) with son Franklin in 1994

Los Angeles Crusade Poster, Billy Graham Library

credit for photo of Billy Graham in 1954

credit for photo of Lee Strobel

 

Notes:

1Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, [New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997], 134

2Graham, 138.

3Graham.

4Graham.

5Hour of Decision would become the title of a weekly radio broadcast produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

6Graham, 139.

7Graham.

8Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2000).

 

Sources cited:

Graham, Billy. Just As I Am. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. Pages 98-100,133-143. All quotations in the account of Billy Graham’s struggle come from this work: pp. 134,138,139.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 2000.

Additional sources used:

Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Billy Graham: God’s Ambassador, (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1999), 45-54.

http://www2.wheaton.edu/bgc/archives/exhibits/LA49/01readmore.html

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/sep/02/local/me-then2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Templeton