When sexual orientation breaks from the norm

On a recent episode of NPR’s “This American Life,” Luke Malone filed a report on people who report having a minority sexual orientation. These people have an enduring pattern of sexual attraction that does not match the norm. Malone argues that such folks must deny themselves the pleasure of acting on their attractions, no matter how strongly they feel them. He says there needs to be a plan to help them abstain:

Imagine being a teenager and being told never to act on your sexual feelings ever for the rest of your life. That’s what we’re asking of these people. At the moment, there is no clear plan for how to do that. But maybe there should be.

What happens when a teenager is asked not to act on his sexual feelings? According to the article, denying such urges can cause depression, self-loathing, and fear. Nevertheless, Malone insists that such persons must abstain from acting on such attractions, and they must refrain for the rest of their lives.

If you read the article, I’m certain that you will agree that these men must not act on their orientation. For them to do so would be immoral, harmful, and evil. Why? Because everyone recognizes that it is not just the behavior that is wrong but also the attraction.

It is common today to say that sexual orientation is a fixed, immutable characteristic. It is cruel and discriminatory, therefore, to require anyone to deny the attractions that they feel they were born with. What this report shows is that you cannot give a moral assessment of sexual behavior merely on the basis of one’s orientation. Some people’s attractions–even if experienced from a very early age–are wrong and should be changed. The moral assessment of both the orientation and the behavior that comes from it must be made on other grounds.

Some of this is difficult to read. But if you want to read the article, start about halfway down the webpage at “Act Two: Help Wanted.” You can download the audio here or listen below. Start at 30:15.

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T4G Reflections: “Softly and tenderly, Jesus is calling…”

I can’t overstate how helped I was by the messages I heard at T4G this week. I already mentioned Kevin DeYoung‘s in my previous post, but I should mention that the other sessions were edifying as well. On the last day, Lig Duncan put on a clinic about how to preach Christ from the Old Testament. John MacArthur had his usual rigorous exposition of the biblical text, this time focusing on John 6 and the nature of false converts. I could go on and on extolling the other talks, but perhaps it would be best just to direct you to the page where you can download and listen to them for yourself. Also, Bob Kauflin leading from the piano. Does it get any better than that? Continue Reading →

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The Bible is the Dividing Line

Kevin DeYoung has just delivered what may be the touchstone message of the 2014 Together for the Gospel conference. As usual, he was both witty and insightful. But that’s not why the message was so powerful. The message was weighty because he spoke from God’s word about God’s word. In doing so, he clearly and plainly addressed the touchstone issue of our time–the authority of scripture.

In recent days, there has been a lot of division among “evangelicals” over the issue of homosexuality. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear know that homosexuality is not really the fundamental issue. The issue that “evangelicals” are facing is whether or not we will look to scripture as the supreme and infallible authority.

Continue Reading →

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How to deal with false teachers

In my last post, we looked at six characteristics that help us to identify false teachers. In this post, we will consider what pastors and congregations are supposed to do in response to such persons who emerge in their midst.

1. Correct false teachers.

The apostle Paul tells us that we ought to correct false teachers in the hope that God might change their mind about their error. Continue Reading →

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How to identify false teachers

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus that pastors must not only preach faithfully but also “refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The idea is very simple. Pastoral ministry is not merely a building up, but also a tearing down. As Paul would say elsewhere, it involves tearing down every speculation and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). To fail to do this is ministerial malpractice and harmful to God’s people.

Given this obligation, it becomes all the more imperative to be able to identify false teachers when they emerge. Sometimes false teaching originates from outside of the church. Sometimes such teaching originates from within. The New Testament teaches that a more rigorous response is required when it arises within. Thus faithful pastors must learn how to identify and deal with false teachers. But how do we do that? Continue Reading →

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The Contributions and Revisions of N. T. Wright

Jason Byassee has written a fascinating profile of N. T. Wright for the most recent issue of Christianity Today. In it he argues that Wright has surpassed Rudolf Bultmann as the most influential biblical scholar of a generation. The article is gushing in many ways and highlights the many achievements of Wright over his long career—a career that has buttressed the historical claims of Christianity more than any scholar in recent history. Nevertheless, Byassee says that Wright’s work also offers a massive revision to traditional Protestant faith,

Wright’s goal in his teaching and writing is to massively revise the way Christianity has been articulated for generations. Christian faith, for Wright, is not about going to heaven when you die. It is not about the triumph of grace over the law of the Old Testament. He says its key doctrine is not justification by grace alone, the cornerstone for the Protestant Reformers. The church has misread Paul so severely, it seems, that no one fully understood the gospel from the time of the apostle to the time a certain British scholar started reading Paul in Greek in graduate school (p. 38).

Byassee says that Wright offers a “newer tradition” in which the New Perspective on Paul offers a “corrective to the ruling Protestant one” (p. 43). Continue Reading →

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Can we avoid the consequences of speaking truth in love?

I do not know if Brandon Eich is a Christian, but there are nevertheless some salient parallels between his recent dismissal from Mozilla and Louie Giglio’s ouster from the President’s inaugural ceremony last year. Both men exhibited a generous spirit toward all people such that both men surprised their “employers” when it became known that they actually supported traditional marriage. Both men were dismissed despite their otherwise amiable disposition.

There is a lesson for Christians here. Yes, we must be winsome. We must be kind. We should not be pugnacious. It matters how we say what we say. It is our joy to love our neighbors and even our enemies. When we walk in this kind of generous spirit, it will open up bridges of opportunity that wouldn’t otherwise be open. All of that is true.

Having said that, Eich and Giglio also force us to come to grips with a hard truth. No amount of winsomeness will exempt us from the reproach that comes when we speak plainly about what the Bible teaches. If you speak plainly about sin, there will always be some who will vilify you as angry, bigoted, hateful or worse. Jesus told us that it would be this way (John 15:18-21). Continue Reading →

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Robbie George: “It’s not just Mozilla…”

Robbie George of Princeton University comments on Brendan Eich’s forced resignation from Mozilla. He writes:

You can bet its not just Mozilla. Now that the bullies have Eich’s head as a trophy on their wall, they will put the heat on every other corporation and major employer. They will pressure them to refuse employment to those who decline to conform their views to the new orthodoxy. And you can also bet that it won’t end with same-sex marriage. Next, it will be support for the pro-life cause that will be treated as moral turpitude in the same way that support for marriage is treated. Do you believe in protecting unborn babies from being slain in the womb? Why, then: “You are a misogynist. You are a hater of women. You are a bigot. We can’t have a person like you working for our company.” And there will be other political and moral issues, too, that will be treated as litmus tests for eligibility for employment. The defenestration of Eich by people at Mozilla for dissenting from the new orthodoxy on marriage is just the beginning.

Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, observant Jews, Muslims, and others had better stand together and face down the bullies, and they had better do it now, or else they will be resigning themselves and their families to a very unhappy status in this society. A very unhappy status indeed. When tactics of intimidation succeed, their success ensures that they will be used more and more often in more and more contexts to serve more and more causes. And standing up to intimidation will become more and more difficult. And more and more costly. And more and more dangerous.

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Mozilla CEO pressured to resign for supporting traditional marriage

Mozilla announced that its brand new CEO Brendan Eich has just resigned. All of this comes in the wake of pressure from gay rights activists who said that Eich’s support of traditional marriage rendered him unworthy of leading the company. Here’s a snippet from the statement explaining Eich’s resignation:

Brendan Eich has chosen to step down from his role as CEO. He’s made this decision for Mozilla and our community.

Mozilla believes both in equality and freedom of speech. Equality is necessary for meaningful speech. And you need free speech to fight for equality. Figuring out how to stand for both at the same time can be hard.

Our organizational culture reflects diversity and inclusiveness. We welcome contributions from everyone regardless of age, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender-identity, language, race, sexual orientation, geographical location and religious views. Mozilla supports equality for all.

We have employees with a wide diversity of views. Our culture of openness extends to encouraging staff and community to share their beliefs and opinions in public. This is meant to distinguish Mozilla from most organizations and hold us to a higher standard. But this time we failed to listen, to engage, and to be guided by our community.

There is a culture war being waged in this situation, but not by Eich. Eich’s views on marriage have had no impact on his performance except that opponents view his opinions as bigoted and outside the bounds of rationality. In other words, supporting traditional marriage renders one unfit to lead a major corporation.

Notice too that acceptance of gay marriage is the necessary condition of free speech at Mozilla. Yes, one can have free speech at this company as long as it does not conflict with the new orthodoxy on marriage.

Unfortunately, I expect we’ll be seeing more and more stories like this one. Activist have succeeded in equating the conjugal view of marriage with bigotry and hatred. As that point of view spreads in our culture, employers will be less and less willing to risk their company’s brand on employees who might tarnish that brand with their personal views. The effect? Those who support traditional marriage will have to conceal their views or face the consequences.

This does not portend good things, but it is an indication of things to come.

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