A Moral and Judicial Travesty

Today’s decision from the Supreme Court is a moral and judicial travesty.

From a legal standpoint, it represents five unelected justices imposing on the nation a new definition of marriage. The judgment is not rooted in sound legal principle but in the opinions of five lawyers arrogating to themselves the right to enact social policy. The Supreme Court has no right to redefine marriage for all 50 states, but that is exactly what it did today.

From a moral standpoint, the decision is a complete subversion of the good, the right, and the true with respect to marriage. Marriage is the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. Its connection to procreation and children has been revealed to us in nature, reason, and common sense. The Bible further reveals that marriage is an icon of the gospel—a symbol of Christ’s covenant love for his church (Ephesians 5:31-32).

The Court’s decision today attempts to turn all of that upside down. As a result, it stands against reason and common sense. More importantly, it stands against the purposes of the One who created marriage to begin with (Genesis 2:24-25).

Although I am disappointed with this decision, I remain confident that Christians will continue to bear witness to the truth about marriage—even if the law of our land is now arrayed against us. We will be in the world, not of the world, for the sake of the world (John 17:15-16, 23). Nothing that the Supreme Court has said today changes any of that.


Obergefell v. Hodges [full text]

Below is the Supreme Court’s decision the long-awaited gay marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges). Justices had two questions to answer, and the majority answered yes to both of them:

1. Does the 14th Amendment require states to issue marriage licenses to two people of the same sex?

2. Does the 14th Amendment require states to recognize same-sex marriages licensed in other states?

The Supreme Court requires all states to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Gay marriage is now legal and required in all 50 states. Here’s the actual language from the holding:

The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

Download the decision here or read it below:


How to protect your church against sexual orientation and gender identity lawsuits

In today’s New York Times, constitutional law expert Eugene Volokh says:

If I were a conservative Christian (which I most certainly am not), I would be very reasonably fearful, not just as to tax exemptions but as to a wide range of other programs — fearful that within a generation or so, my religious beliefs would be treated the same way as racist religious beliefs are.

Volokh’s warning is jarring, but it need not send Christians into a panic. It should, however, steel our resolve to be prepared for what is coming our way after the high court legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide (as most observers expect it will do). That ruling will come down either Friday or Monday morning. But the legal implications of the decision won’t take a generation to unfold (as Volokh suggests). Christian churches, ministries, and schools will be facing serious legal challenges within very short order. In fact, they already are. Continue Reading →


Is taking down the Confederate battle flag a mere gesture?

I have been watching the flag controversy from a distance, choosing not to weigh-in until now. Well, I guess that’s not quite right. Early on, I did tweet my opinion on the matter but offered little more. So for those who missed it, I agree that the flag should come down.

It has been interesting to see the conversation unfold among evangelical and conservative writers. Russell Moore, Albert Mohler, Rod Dreher, Ross Douthat, and countless others have called for its removal. Even Doug Wilson has declined to defend the flag as a symbol of southern resistance against federal encroachment, saying “Just take it down, man!” Among conservatives, it seems those wishing to keep the flag up are growing few and far between. Continue Reading →


Southern Baptists and the Burden of History

Albert Mohler has a powerful essay reflecting on racism and the burden of history. His remarks about Southern Baptist history are particularly candid. He writes:

More humbling still is the fact that many churches, churchmen, and theologians gave sanction to that ideology of racial superiority. While this was true throughout the southern churches, Southern Baptists bear a particular responsibility and burden of history. The Southern Baptist Convention was not only founded by slaveholders; it was founded by men who held to an ideology of racial superiority and who bathed that ideology in scandalous theological argument. At times, white superiority was defended by a putrid exegesis of the Bible that claimed a “curse of Ham” as the explanation of dark skin — an argument that reflects such ignorance of Scripture and such shameful exegesis that it could only be believed by those who were looking for an argument to satisfy their prejudices.

We bear the burden of that history to this day. Racial superiority is a sin as old as Genesis and as contemporary as the killings in Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. The ideology of racial superiority is not only sinful, it is deadly.

I gladly stand with the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention and The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in their courageous affirmation of biblical orthodoxy, Baptist beliefs, and missionary zeal. There would be no Southern Baptist Convention and there would be no Southern Seminary without them. James P. Boyce and Basil Manly, Jr. and John A. Broadus were titans of the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

But there is more to the story. Boyce and Broadus were chaplains in the Confederate army. The founders of the SBC and of Southern Seminary were racist defenders of slavery. Just a few months ago I was reading a history of Greenville, South Carolina when I came across a racist statement made by James P. Boyce, my ultimate predecessor as president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It was so striking that I had to find a chair. This, too, is our story.

By every reckoning, Boyce and Broadus were consummate Christian gentlemen, given the culture of their day. They would have been horrified, I am certain, by any act of violence against any person. But any strain of racial superiority, and especially any strain bathed in the language of Christian theology, is deadly dangerous all the same.

Subsequent generations of Southern Baptists have repudiated and even repented of this sad history. In fact, our official doctrinal standard explicitly denounces racism as a grave sin. Still, Mohler is right. We bear the burden of history, and we do well not to forget that.


Jim Hamilton on the Song of Songs

James M. Hamilton, Jr., Song of Songs: A Biblical-Theological, Allegorical, Christological Interpretation, Focus on the Bible (Scotland: Christian Focus, 2015). 154pp. $14.99.

Jim Hamilton has recently published a stimulating commentary on the Song of Songs. Readers familiar with Jim’s work know his passion for doing whole Bible theology. Likewise, this volume exposits the Song with respect to the overall storyline of scripture. In short, it’s a work of biblical theology.

One of the big questions that any commentator on the Song has to answer is what this book is all about. Is it to be interpreted literally or allegorically? Is it about human love only or about Christ’s love for his church? Jim’s answer to those questions is “yes.” It’s not an either/or thing but a both/and thing. The Song depicts real human love, but that love serves to illustrate Yahweh’s covenant with Israel. Yes, the Song is about the King’s love for his bride, but it is also about Christ’s love for the church.

This is an accessible exposition of the text and highly recommended for anyone trying to understand the message of the Song. Purchase it here.


New Podcast on Same-Sex Attraction, Temptation, and Sin

Whenever I speak on the topic of homosexuality, it seems that one question keeps coming up: “Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?” How you answer this question has tremendous practical implications, not only for those who experience SSA but also for those trying to minister to them.

I recently sat down for a brief interview with Heath Lambert to answer this very query. In short, my answer to the question is “Yes, it is.” If you are interested to hear how and why, you can download it here or listen to it below. You can sign-up for the excellent ACBC podcast here. Read about it here.


Families of Charleston victims forgive the killer and call him to repent

This is one of the most gut-wrenching and beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Through tears and raw emotion, the families of Charleston victims forgive the man who murdered their loved ones, and they call him to repent. I can hardly imagine how difficult it must have been for them to offer these gracious words. Even more unimaginable is how they will maintain this grace in the long days ahead. The Lord will sustain His people.

This testimony needs to be seen far and wide.

Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

1 John 4:18-19, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.”

Matthew 12:50, “Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”


Brian Williams sits for first interview since suspension from NBC News

This is an awkward interview. I think the bottom line is this. Williams says that he embellished stories to enhance his role in certain events he was involved in (kind of like a fisherman would exaggerate his exploits). This started not as a part of his news reports but in interviews and conversations outside of his reporting. In his own mind over the years, his exaggerations took on a life of their own–so much so that he was no longer distinguishing fact from fiction in his own thinking. He apparently began to believe his own fictions and repeated them years after the fact, not recalling (perhaps not choosing to recall?) that they were not true.

Like I said, this conversation is awkward. But there is something deeply revealing about human nature in all of this. Even our memories are morally implicated by sin. People tend to remember themselves as the hero of our their own stories. They recall (and sometimes invent!) what buttresses their self-image and suppress what does not. These fictional accounts of ourselves tend to emerge rather spontaneously from our nature as sinners (Rom. 1:18). People can be easily, happily, and even obliviously self-deluded.

You can watch the interview above for yourself and judge for yourself whether I have the correct read on this. Or you can read the report here. You can read Albert Mohler’s comments from last February here.


Is the Pope weighing-in on the transgender conversation?

Albert Mohler has offered a brief, critical response to Pope Francis’s recent papal encyclical “Laudato Si.” Mohler reminds readers that evangelicals “reject the very idea of the papacy.” Having said that, he also points out that media coverage has focused almost entirely on how the letter reinforces a certain narrative about climate change without giving much attention to what it says about the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching on sexuality.

To wit, section 155 of the Pope’s letter reads as if it were written as a direct contradiction to fashionable transgender propaganda, which has become so ubiquitous in recent days. Here’s what the Pope writes: Continue Reading →


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