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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God has His winnowing fork in His hand

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last week about something Peter Leithart wrote last summer in the wake of the Windsor decision. Among other things, Leithart observed that the culture war over homosexuality is all but over and that Christians will be entering a time of conflict and (for some) suffering. Anyone who speaks plainly about what the Bible says will face the onslaught. The separation he predicted is underway right now (see Trevin Wax’s delineation of the fault lines). All ambiguity is being swept away. Looking back, it’s hard to deny that Leithart’s words are prescient of the current moment. He writes:

Windsor presents American Christians with a call to martyrdom. In Greek, martyria means “witness,” specifically witness in a court. At the very least, the decision challenges American Christians to continue to teach Christian sexual ethics without compromise or apology. But Windsor presents a call to martyrdom in a more specific sense. There will be a cost for speaking the truth, a cost in reputation, opportunity, and funds if not in freedoms. Scalia’s reference to the pagan Roman claim that Christians are “enemies of mankind” was probably not fortuitous.

Many churches have already capitulated to the Zeitgeist , and many others will. Some Christians and some churches won’t be up to the challenge. For those who heed Paul’s admonition not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, things are going to get sticky. But we are servants of God. He opens our ears to hear, and he gives us tongues to speak truth. If that means we are insulted and marginalized, if it means we yield our back to the smiters and our face to those who spit on us, so be it.

This will force a major adjustment in conservative Christian stance toward America. We’ve fooled ourselves for decades into believing that Christian America was derailed recently and by a small elite. It’s tough medicine to realize that principles inimical to traditional Christian morals are now deeply embedded in our laws, institutions and culture. The only America that actually exists is one in which “marriage” includes same-sex couples and women have a Constitutional right to kill their babies. To be faithful, Christian witness must be witness against America.

God has his winnowing fork in his hand, and he’s ready to use it. There’s likely to be a lot of chaff, blown away like mist. But there will be a harvest. We’re being sent into an oven, but Jesus will crush the grain of the harvest so that, baked in the fire of the Spirit, it will become bread for the life of the world.

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The Final Days of Jesus

Justin Taylor and Andreas Köstenberger have produced a little gem of a book in The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived. The book aims to set forth from scripture just what the title suggests. The authors explain exactly how the last week of Jesus’ ministry unfolded, from Palm Sunday through Resurrection Sunday. They write,

“This book covers Jesus’ final days. In these pages you will read the eyewitness accounts of what the most important person who ever lived said and did during the most important week of his life… We will put the accounts together in roughly chronological order” (p. 13-14).

To that end the body of the book comprises chapters that correspond to each day of the week (see table of contents below). For each event in the final week of Jesus’ life, the scriptural text appears and is followed by concise commentary on that text. The commentary is very well done and will prove helpful to anyone wishing to get an informed perspective on these critical days of Jesus’ life. Continue Reading →

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Does the Bible drive away would-be Christians?

Last week after World Vision announced its intention not to recognize same-sex marriages, those in the so-called progressive wing of “Christianity” were predictably unhappy. They chastised evangelicals who hold fast to traditional marriage. They said it was a mistake to hold on to the Bible’s teaching about marriage because that position is driving millennials away from the church. Implication? Those who hold the biblical line are doing damage to the church and are keeping people out who would otherwise be in. Continue Reading →

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The midrashiest midrash that ever was midrashed. . . . . [a spoiler-free “Noah” review]

Shall I tread where angels fear to tread and give an evaluation of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah movie? Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by angels. In the movie Noah, the frilly feminine harp-stroking caricatures have given way to a cross between Ben Grimm, Peter Jackson’s Ents, and Gumby. I guess we can chalk that one up to the mystery of the Nephilim. But I digress. What about the movie? Is it any good? Should Christians go and see it? Should anyone go and see it?

Continue Reading →

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Do Christians hate gay people? Robert George answers.

The following is an unpublished excerpt from Salvo magazine’s recent interview with Robert George of Princeton University.

SALVO: One conservative Christian recently wrote that in the battle for traditional marriage, “Christians too often chose intolerance over charity when it came to how they treated gays.” Have we, as Christians, demonstrated a lack of love for gay people?

Robert George: No, we’ve been falsely accused of showing a lack of charity and a lack of love because that was very convenient to the arguments of the other side, a very effective tool. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people of all faiths who’ve been involved in the protection of marriage have gone out of their way, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church goes out of its way, to proclaim the truth that all men and woman are precious. Human beings have a profound and inherent dignity, an equal dignity, as creatures made in the very image and likeness of the Divine Creator and Ruler of the Universe.

This has never been something hidden. It has been frequently affirmed and re-affirmed, yet there are those who wish to refuse to hear it because it’s politically useful to their cause to depict Christians as mean-spirited or bigoted or hostile to people just because they don’t like something about them. It’s a slander. And for us to pretend that the slander is true is itself a sin against the truth. I’m all for confessing error and wrongdoing where error and wrongdoing have been committed. But I see no point in confessing sins that one has not committed, especially when doing so is the precise objective of those who wish unfairly to tar people or a movement as bigoted or hostile.

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How to engage false teachers

I have had a number of readers ask me about my views on false teachers this week–questions provoked in large part by my writing on recent events. Providentially, my sermon last Sunday at church was on this very issue. I had no idea what would unfold this week as I preached the sermon, but I think the message answers most of the questions that folks have been asking me. You can download the message here or listen below.

Continue Reading →

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Gay marriage is not merely a culture war issue

Timothy Dalrymple’s analysis of events this week involving World Vision may be the most insightful that I have read yet. He argues that it is wrong-headed to think of the gay marriage debate merely as a “culture war issue.” He contends that regarding it as such may have been what led World Vision into the tumult this week. He writes:

The core of the mistake, it seems to me, is precisely in regarding [gay marriage] as merely a “culture war issue.” When Richard Stearns addressed the Q Conference in Los Angeles in April, he pointed to Westboro Baptists as an example of “angry Christians protest[ing] gay marriage.” He then admonished Christians to be outraged by the right things. “As far as I know,” he said, “no one ever died of gay marriage.” Continue Reading →

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