Author Archive | Denny Burk

Transgender bathroom policy leads to sexual assault of 5-year old girl

From WORLD magazine:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced last month it was investigating a parental complaint alleging a Georgia school district’s transgender policy led to the sexual assault of a kindergartener.

City Schools of Decatur parent Pascha Thomas claims her daughter, known by the initials N.T. in public documents, was sexually assaulted last year by a male classmate in an Oakhurst Elementary School girls’ restroom. Thomas said her 5-year-old daughter complained of vaginal pain the evening of Nov. 16, 2017. When Thomas asked more, the girl said she was leaving a restroom stall when a little boy in her class came in, pinned her against the stall, and groped her genitals with his hands. She said she tried to get away and called for help, but no one came.

When Thomas reported the assault to school officials the next morning, they responded with “deliberate indifference” toward the assault and the victim, according to the complaint. Despite Thomas’ efforts to ensure justice for her daughter over the following weeks, she said, the school failed to conduct a meaningful investigation, discipline the alleged assailant, remove the child from N.T.’s class or ensure he would not use the girl’s restroom again, or offer any assurance of protection or psychological counseling for N.T.

At a meeting in December, the school informed Thomas the boy identified as “gender fluid” and was allowed to use the girls’ restroom per a districtwide policy opening restrooms and locker rooms to students based on their gender identity.

Watch the video testimony from the child’s mother above.

How pastors can avoid becoming “humanism-soaked sponges.”

David Bahnsen writes about the aftermath of the Kavanaugh imbroglio in which he opines on the situation that conservatives find themselves in—including those conservatives who happen to be Christians. There is one part of Bahnsen’s piece that jumped out at me when I read it. Bahnsen writes:

It would be nice if conservatives of faith had some support in the church, that allegedly spiritual institution of Christian community, doctrine, and practice.  If you want to know what the church will look like in 3-5 years, look at what the culture is doing now.  If you want to know what the culture looked like 3-5 years ago, look at the church now.  From all but complete outliers in Rome and evangelicalism, the Christian church is in the theology of capitulation business now, desperate to fit in, desperate to be accepted by Vanity Fair, and oblivious to the fact that no amount of surrender is going to prove sufficient.  Non-churched leftists are completely comfortable calling their ideology “leftism” or “progressivism.”  The cultural pacifists that fill today’s pulpits lack the courage to even self-identify for the humanism-soaked sponges that they are.  Christians, you are all alone if you are looking for the church to defend your cause, mission, and purpose.  I don’t blame unbelievers for laughing at the latest screed that comes from today’s emasculated church; I do blame believers for not doing so.

My despair has come from the realization that our divide in this country is not merely sociological, that the other side is playing for keeps, and will stop at nothing to win.  It is exacerbated by the realization that potential courageous opposition – the church – is asleep at the wheel.  And my turmoil is unresolved by the realization that the tactics we will face as a remnant defending western civilization and the American experiment in the decades ahead will not, and cannot, be reciprocated by our own side.  If we forfeit a quest for civility and decency, we will have already lost.

Let me stipulate up front that I do not believe that the church needs to take sides in the partisan guerilla warfare that characterizes our politics today. On the contrary, the church needs to be a voice of moral clarity and witness in a culture that is becoming increasingly fractured. That means first of all, that we need to preach the unvarnished gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners. It means second of all, that we need to call balls and strikes when speaking about how God’s truth comes to bear upon the world we live in—including how it comes to bear on political matters. We don’t show partiality. We must show absolute unwavering allegiance to a higher kingdom and calling.

How do we do that? In particular, how do pastors do that? How do they avoid becoming the “humanism-soaked sponges” that Bahnsen decries?

There are many things that could be said in answer to this question, but I want to say what ought to be the first and most obvious thing. Don’t preach the newspaper. Don’t preach whatever fad happens to be taking over the culture at any given time. Preach the word. Preach it verse by verse, line by line, chapter by chapter, book by book. If you want heaven to set the agenda of your message, then let the Bible set the agenda of your preaching. If you will do that, you will be more relevant than ever. If you fail that, you will be more irrelevant than ever. And no amount of flashy bells and whistles will save you from that irrelevance if you fail to preach the word.

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

2 Timothy 4:1-5

The Enduring Vision of Albert Mohler at Southern Seminary

This week we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Dr. R. Albert Mohler’s tenure as the President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I am so grateful for his leadership at Southern and in the Southern Baptist Convention writ large. I am more grateful than I can tell for his influence in my own life. I would not be doing what I am doing today if it weren’t for him.

The faculty and the board of trustees had a banquet to honor the anniversary on Monday night, and the video above was premiered at that event. It was a special evening, and here is one piece of it we can share with you.

Congratulations, Dr. Mohler. And thank you.

What the Kavanaugh Conflagration Was Really About

I walked into Senator Mitch McConnell’s office three weeks ago on a Friday. I take my interns to DC every year for a conference, and I always walk over to the leader’s office on Friday morning to pick up House and Senate gallery passes. The Kavanaugh hearings were over (or so everyone thought), and the office was virtually empty except for two staffers, both of whom were from Lexington. So we chit-chatted about Kentucky. As I was about to leave, one of them said giddily, “We will have a confirmation vote for a new Supreme Court justice on Thursday!” Continue Reading →

The Kavanaugh Nomination: “An Absolute Political Acid Bath”

Albert Mohler comments on the controversy surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. He notes that opponents of the nomination are now saying that Kavanaugh is too “political” to be confirmed. Mohler responds:

It is the United States Senate that has the constitutional authority of advice and consent. It is that process that over the last several decades has devolved into an absolute political acid bath. Thus, it’s politically and intellectually dishonest now to argue that partisanship has entered into the equation. It has always been right there under the surface. But, ever since the Bork hearings in the 1980s, it’s no longer under the surface…

It’s intellectually dishonest for either side to say that this is a process that began with some kind of political neutrality or has ever been marked by a nonpartisan character in any moment, any hour, even any second of this process.

Those paying attention know that this analysis is spot-on. Mohler goes on to remind listeners of a little history. Throughout its history, the Senate has elevated open partisans and political figures to the high court.

When I thought of these controversies, my mind immediately went back to the late Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court during the last half of the 20th century, Earl Warren, who of course became a liberal lion, an icon of the Supreme Court. Earl Warren had served as Governor or California, had been deeply involved in Republican presidential politics, had himself served President Eisenhower as Solicitor General of the United States, and was in that position when was nominated as Chief Justice. Needless to say, it was a highly partisan environment, and when you’re looking at individuals to sit on the court, Chief Justice Earl Warren had a clearly partisan background. By the way, when Warren did become Chief Justice, three members of the court serving with him had been former members of the United States Senate, and two had served as Attorney General under President Eisenhower. Again, all of them very politically active.

Bottom Line: To argue that Judge Kavanaugh is any more partisan than these precedents is just not credible.

You can download the rest of Mohler’s commentary here or listen below.

 

Senator Ben Sasse on #MeToo and Kavanaugh Nomination

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska delivered a powerful speech on the floor of the United States Senate yesterday. It is not a partisan diatribe. It is the thoughtful reflection of a statesman who sees the big picture.

Senator Sasse acknowledges that we have witnessed some disgraceful moments over the last two weeks in the Senate Judiciary Committee. There have been ugly smears and worse. But Senator Sasse doesn’t get into all that in this speech. He is simply making an important point about what the coming vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination means. He rejects the premise that the vote is about whether or not we care about women and abuse: Continue Reading →

What does it mean that “God is the head of Christ”?

Paul’s teaching about head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 stands out as some of the most difficult material in all of Paul’s writings. This is not only because there is disagreement over what the head covering means, but also because commentators debate what the covering even is. Even though there are some obscure points in this passage, I would argue that the main point of the passage is clear enough. That main point is Paul’s teaching about headship. Verse 3 reads as follows:

1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”

In verse 3, Paul unfolds a series of relationships that are defined by this notion of headship, but what Paul means by “head” is precisely what commentators have vigorously disputed. Continue Reading →

Azusa trustees reinstate ban on homosexual relationships

The board of trustees at Azusa Pacific University have reinstated a ban on homosexual relationships among students. The trustees released a letter earlier today announcing a return to their original policy. Read it below.

This is good news for Azusa. There will be tough days ahead as they still have students who support homosexual relationships and who will be disappointed by this news. Nevertheless, the trustees made the right decision. Let’s hope and pray they stick to it. Continue Reading →

A Basic Principle of Justice

“A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.”

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deuteronomy 19:15)

“Take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

Jesus of Nazareth, King of Kings (Matthew 18:16)


UPDATE: John Calvin’s commentary on Deuteronomy 19:15 is illuminating:

“Since too great credulity would often impel the judges to condemn the guiltless, [God] here applies a remedy to this evil, forbidding that the crime should be punished unless proved by sure testimony. Although He has naturally inscribed this law upon every heart, yet He would have it written down, that its observance amongst the Israelites might be more sacred; for nothing is more dangerous than to expose men’s lives to the tongue of a single individual; but, where the consent of two or three is carefully weighed, any lurking falsehood is for the most part detected. Lest, therefore, any one should be rashly condemned, and so innocence should be oppressed by any light conjectures, or insufficient accusations, or unjust prejudices, God here interferes, and does not allow any to be harshly dealt with, unless duly convicted.”

Azusa Pacific University now allows students to be in gay relationships

Over the weekend, I read the news about Azusa Pacific University—an “evangelical” school in California that is removing its ban on homosexual relationships among students. The campus newspaper reports:

Effective this fall 2018 semester, Azusa Pacific removed language from its student standard of conduct agreement that prohibited public LGBTQ+ relationships for students on campus. As an evangelical institution, APU still adheres to the Biblical principles of human sexuality—the belief that “sexual union is intended by God to take place only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman” and it remains a cornerstone of the university’s foundation.

The paper claims that the ban on homosexual relationships has been removed even as the school still maintains “biblical principles of human sexuality.” If that seems confusing, that’s because it is. An APU alumnus attempts to explain the change:

“We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor [whether other students are remaining abstinent],” Green said. “Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code used falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith.”

The students spoke, and the administrative board listened. Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala, Ph.D., said that as the board evaluated their code of conduct, they wanted to be attentive to equity.

“The changes that occured[sic] to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups,” Fiala said. “The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”

Notice how the school is now parsing things up. The school’s standards of conduct now simply ban “sexual intimacy outside the context of marriage,” where marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman (10.1 Inappropriate Sexual Behavior). As long as students avoid “sexual intimacy” outside marriage, they are free to pursue whatever romantic relationships they please—gay, straight, or otherwise. In other words, homosexual romance is permitted so long as no “sexual intimacy” is involved.

Despite the school’s claim otherwise, there are major problems with this policy, and it’s stunning that the administration doesn’t see them. First, the school reduces sexual sin to “sexual intimacy” outside marriage without defining what “sexual intimacy” consists of. Obviously intercourse would be prohibited, but what about kissing? Holding hands? What exactly is being prohibited here for those in homosexual relationships?

And that raises a second problem. In an attempt at “equity,” the statement fails to reflect biblical distinctions between homosexual relationships and heterosexual ones. It seems that the statement is open to couples expressing public displays of affection—holding hands, hugging, etc. On its own terms, it would also allow gay couples to hold hands, hug, etc. along with a range of other public and private displays of affection. Anyone who thinks this is a Christian approach to relationships doesn’t understand Christianity.

Which brings us to problem number three. The Lord Jesus himself teaches us that it is not merely immoral sexual behavior that is sinful but also immoral sexual desires:

Matt. 5:27-30 27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus says that it is sin to look at a married woman in order to desire her sexually. And there is literally hell to pay if immoral desires are not kept in check. Sexual holiness, therefore, is not merely a matter of deeds committed but of desires felt. Yet Azusa is saying that it is okay for romantic homosexual relationships to happen on campus so long as there is no sex. Do they not see how this contradicts what Jesus teaches us about sexual holiness as a matter of the heart?

The fundamental problem here is that Azusa has adopted a policy that fails to make a moral distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Even when abstinent, they are not morally equivalent. A heterosexual relationship can and may have the covenant of marriage as its aim and goal. A homosexual relationship can never have marriage as its aim and goal. That means that a homosexual relationship can never be holy or pleasing to God. By definition, it is sinful (Rom. 1:26-27).

One more item is problematic. The school’s standards of conduct prohibit students from cohabitating with the opposite sex (9.0 Cohabitation). Yet students of the same-sex are still permitted to cohabitate—presumably including those that are in homosexual romantic relationships. Does Azusa believe that it is good for same-sex attracted students to be cohabitating while experiencing sexual desires for one another? What an unwise and confusing and destructive message the school is sending.

The problems in this new policy are legion, but on the whole this cannot be squared with a faithful Christian sexual morality. In the name of “equity” it abandons historic Christian teaching about homosexuality. It’s a capitulation to error that is neither faithful to Christ nor good for students. This policy contradicts Azusa’s claim to be a Christian institution. I hope and pray that they see this, and soon.

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