Archive | Christianity

Protecting Your Ministry from Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lawsuits

In 2006 Chai Feldblum—whom Pres. Obama would later appoint as a commissioner of the EEOC—wrote that gay rights create a bona fide conflict with religious liberty. In an interview that same year, she told Maggie Gallagher that when there is a conflict between sexual liberty and religious liberty, sexual liberty should almost always win. In Feldblum’s own words, Continue Reading →

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How To Take Christ out of Christianity

Last week Alana Massey wrote a fascinating piece for The Washington Post titled “How To Take Christ out of Christianity.” The gist of the article is this. Churches need to make room for unbelievers who do not want to follow Christ but who want to remain connected to the community and moral vision of Christianity. That is precisely what she wishes for herself, an unbelieving Episcopalian. She writes: Continue Reading →

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A story of terror, pain, and loss swallowed up by grace

Many of you readers know that my co-author for a forthcoming book on homosexuality is Heath Lambert. Heath is not just a co-author and colleague, but a very close friend. I have heard his testimony before but never in the length or detail that he shares in the video above. It is a tale of great pain, terror, and loss swallowed up by grace. I wouldn’t recommend it if it weren’t worth your time. So take a listen.

[Source: Association of Certified Biblical Counselors]

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Relevance will not remove our reproach

Ruth Graham’s write-up on the recent Q conference in Boston is a fascinating take by a journalist looking in on what evangelicals are doing. In the end, she says Q’s efforts to be relevant will be undermined by its commitment to traditional Christian views on sexuality, which were made very clear at the conference (which I am very grateful for, by the way). She writes,

Today a majority of Americans support gay marriage, including 43 percent of white evangelical Protestant millennials. Those numbers seem bound to tick upward in the years to come, particularly among the peers of Q’s on-trend attendees. And as the Supreme Court hears arguments this week on whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, there are signs that gay marriage will soon be a settled matter legally, too.

The problem for Lyons and his acolytes is that the culture at large increasingly does not think that affirming gay people or calling them to lifelong celibacy are “equally valid options,” either. The gay marriage debate may not be a debate much longer. For evangelicals who value their image as culturally relevant conversation leaders, the clock onstage is ticking down.

These remarks are both clever and ominous. The clock is indeed ticking down, but it’s not just on those attending the Q conference. It’s on all Christians who remain true to Christ in the face of a sexual revolution that has shown it will not tolerate our dissent. No amount of culture-savvy relevance will remove the reproach of following Christ on this issue. That is where we are, and we will be negotiating the realities of our minority status for the foreseeable future.

But that is no reason for despair. Our new situation will be difficult, but it will also disambiguate us from the world. It will offer us new opportunities for witness, and God will be with us. He has a way of plundering the enemy when His people seem to be at their weakest (e.g., Acts 16:30; 18:8). He will surprise us in ways we cannot anticipate now. So we have every reason to be hopeful even as we are sober about what lies ahead.

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Gay marriage will cause a winnowing of the evangelical ranks. It already is.

Most readers already know how historic today is in our national life. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments concerning gay marriage. The Justices will render a decision on the matter by the end of June. Given the high court’s precedents in the 2003 Lawrence decision and in the 2013 Windsor decision, most observers agree that the current case is a forgone conclusion. The Supreme Court is poised to declare gay marriage a constitutional right.

Seventy percent of Americans already live in states where gay marriage is legal. But by the end of June, one hundred percent of Americans will live in a state where gay marriage is legal. That means that every community in America—from New York City to Los Angeles, California to DeRidder, Louisiana—will have gay marriage. That is what we are facing, and the final stage of the legal battle starts today.

Today’s oral arguments come amidst a moral revolution in our country on the definition of marriage, and that revolution even cuts into those who claim the mantle of Christianity. Daniel Burke reports for CNN that “there are now more people of faith who favor marriage equality than stand against it, a dramatic turn in one of this country’s most divisive debates and a generational shift.” The shift is indeed overwhelmingly generational. Burke writes,

Seven in 10 Millennials, for example, support same-sex marriage and say that faith groups alienate young adults by being judgemental on sexual ethics. Half of millennial Republicans say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, and 43% of white evangelical millennials agree.

That last number is the one that should stand out. Who knows how these evangelical millennials are defined. Nevertheless, the story suggests that not even evangelicals can escape the revolution—a revolution that will have the imprimatur of the Supreme Court by the end of this summer.

So this is a watershed moment in our national life, and it is a watershed moment for Christianity in America. As popular opinion and legal precedent move decisively in favor of gay marriage, those who call themselves Christians have a choice. They can either join the revolution or they can follow Jesus. Which is another way of saying that they can walk the narrow path that leads to life or they can join the throngs headed down the broad road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). Gay marriage will cause a winnowing of our ranks, and we are about to find out who is willing to follow Jesus when it gets hard.

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Ben Witherington’s hard-hitting critique of Rachel Held Evans’ new book

New Testament scholar Ben Witherington has penned a fairly hard-hitting review of Rachel Held Evans’ new book Searching for Sunday., which landed on The New York Times bestseller list last week. Witherington likes Evans personally and even affirms her as a “genuine Christian person.” He is generally sympathetic with some of her complaints about evangelicalism. Nevertheless, he comes down pretty hard on her affirmation sex outside of marriage. He writes:

I wish Rachel had continued her studies in a formal way and been better trained in Biblical interpretation and how to deal with difficult ethical and theological issues. I have seen what happens when Christian college kids come to seminary and realize in their first year of seminary that college has given them just enough reading and training to make them dangerous and half-baked when it comes to understanding the world, the flesh, and the Devil.
Continue Reading →

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Can Christians escape persecution by doing good?

I had a brief back-and-forth with some friends on Twitter yesterday about whether Christians can escape the opprobrium of the world by doing good. I argued that we cannot. Others suggested that we can.

Enter Collin Hansen’s new book Blind Spots, which I just started reading today. He is very helpful on this point:

Take, for example, the strange promise you sometimes hear from those who see lack of compassion as the greatest problem with the church today. They argue that our compassion can win the world’s favor. So when we sell our stuff, save our schools, and serve the suffering, we won’t make enemies.
Continue Reading →

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Why have some evangelicals turned against reparative therapy?

The Atlantic tweeted a link to an article this morning with this statement: “Why did Christian conservatives turn against gay conversion therapy?” It turns out that the article is by Jonathan Merritt, and it describes the shrinking fortunes of reparative therapy. As I mentioned last week, President Obama recently came out publicly against reparative therapy, and now Merritt is explaining how its influence has waned even among evangelicals. It’s a fascinating article, and you can read it here. Continue Reading →

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Sandra McCracken’s new Psalms album

The Psalms are the prayer book of the church. We learn how to pour out our hearts to God in grief and in exultation from this book. That is why I am so very grateful to see that Sandra McCracken has devoted an entire album to singing the Psalms. Here’s the note she sent out today about the album:

One day we are going to sit around a table together and remember this life. One day we will see every hope and heartbreak with a wider view, and we will sing of God’s complete redemption in full chorus. Over these past couple of years, the practice of singing the Psalms has been teaching me how to pray, leaning into a more honest conversation with God through loss and healing. My new album, ‘Psalms’ was born out of that practice. These are sacred, borrowed words, with new melodies to help draw the longing and joy up out of our hearts and onto our lips, as we watch and wait to see His story come in it’s fullness. The fullness of God. The hope of glory.

–Sandra

Listen to the album above. You can purchase it here.

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Marco Rubio’s faith: A circuitous route to Catholicism

Kudos to Sarah Pulliam Bailey for pulling together a short summary of the faith of Marco Rubio—who by the way announced that he is running for president today. In short, the story goes like this. He went from Mormon to Catholic to Evangelicalish and back to Catholic. In Bailey’s report, he says…

“I immersed myself in LDS theology,” Rubio wrote. “I studied church literature and other sources of information to learn all I could about the church’s teachings.”

By the time he was in sixth grade, his family had left the Mormon Church for Catholicism, and he had his First Communion on Christmas Day 1984.

In 2007, Rubio told me that he spent a few years in an evangelical church…

“I felt called back to Catholicism around 2004, but have maintained the relationship with Christ Fellowship and attend their services often or listen to the podcasts.”

Rubio now firmly identifies with the Catholic church, though he noted how he finds commonality between different Christian denominations.

I expect we’ll be learning a lot about Rubio in coming days, and no doubt his faith will be no small part of that. Great job by Bailey in being the first out of the gate with this. Read the rest here.

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