Aren’t People Born Gay? Is it not a Matter of Choice?

August 26th, 2014

Paul Copan is Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University. His book, WHEN GOD GOES TO Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics is a goldmine of information on answering some of the tough questions of today. I want to share with you a summary of his chapter on “Aren’t People Born Gay?” This is a subject on which there has been a great deal written. His chapter is comprehensive but I only have room to give his summary.

1. In the 1970’s political pressure by gay activists forced a change about the perception of homosexuality. It wasn’t the result of “scientific” research; the medical community had previously considered it a pathology.
2. Biology isn’t fate. This is actually demeaning to homosexuals who are much more than biological/sexual beings.
3. Simply, because we’re born a certain way doesn’t mean we ought to affirm it. Furthermore, just because we are born with certain inclinations doesn’t mean we should carry them out (compare “tendencies” towards alcoholism, violence, pedophilia). We can’t legitimately move from “is” to “ought.”
4. The scientific support for people being “born gay” is seriously lacking. The media tend to stretch the evidence beyond what the scientific data warrant.
5. It’s easy for both sides to play the either-or game (“it’s either biology or environment, either nature or nurture, either determined or a choice”). The most appropriate and more obvious alternative is speaking of influences rather than causes. Homosexuality isn’t reducible to mere genetics; it also includes environmental factors (family upbringing, childhood experiences, reactions and choices, and the cultural environment).
6. Homosexuality is not the result of genetic necessity but results largely from dysfunctional same-sex relationships in one’s youth (or in the case of lesbianism, bad experiences with males who were abusive or violent).
7. The facts that same-sex attraction is not biologically based suggests the possibility of healing and wholeness, which many have found.
8. Change from homosexual to heterosexual attraction tends to be gradual rather than immediate, but stopping homosexual activity in itself is a significant step forward – comparable to stopping smoking, even if the cravings are still there.

Let me add my own perspective. We are all born with certain unique distinctives. King David reminds us that, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5) A mother who smoked or drank or was addicted to drugs or suffered from other medical problems would pass on those afflictions to her offspring. People who experienced homosexual inclinations early in their lives, and were drawn to pursuits where they encountered others like them, e.g. in the arts or design world, would find those inclinations encouraged. However such inclinations do not have to be translated into sexual behavior. When they seek to resist those temptations there can be intense conflict and pain.

The person fighting any addiction finds that recovery is a daily struggle and requires a support group and a sponsor to maintain sobriety. From time to time addicts may relapse and need to recover again. They may never be completely healed in this life from their inclination. Nobody said that it is easy to recover from sin. We do not make a virtue out of a vice. We don’t encourage addicts to accept their addiction. We do not encourage sinners to indulge their sin because it is easier.

Jesus said that “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:30) He was speaking metaphorically not literally but his meaning is clear. St. Paul in Romans 6:13 teaches us “not to offer the parts of your body to sin.” In Romans 8:13 he tells us that we are to “put to death the misdeeds of the body.” All of us struggle with sin in our lives and Christ offers us his power to overcome those sins. It is much easier to give in to temptation to sin than to resist it. We are all by nature born to sin. But by grace God gives us the opportunity to overcome whatever thorn in the flesh we suffer from. “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Cor.12:9)

The first Christian church included those who were sexually immoral, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards and swindlers. “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor.6,10,11) Jesus Christ our Savior enables us to change, to be transformed, to overcome our sinful inclinations by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is true for all of us with no exceptions.

How To Shrink Your Church

August 23rd, 2014

How to Shrink Your Church in One Easy Step
by Alexander Griswold

The following article originally was published on The Federalist and is cross-posted here with permission.

By now, we’ve all heard the refrain that U.S. churches need to liberalize their teachings on sexuality and homosexuality or rapidly decline. The logic behind the argument is simple: more and more Americans are embracing homosexuality and same-sex marriage, including growing numbers of religious Millennials. So long as churches remain the face of opposition to gay marriage, those churches will shrink into irrelevancy when gay marriage (inevitably, we are told) becomes a settled political issue.
These arguments often see church acceptance of homosexuality as a carrot as well as a stick. It isn’t so much that denouncing homosexuality will drive people away from church, but that embracing it will also lead people into church. LGBT individuals and their supporters, many of whom hold a dim view of religion after a decades-long culture war, will reconsider church if denominations remove their restrictions on gay marriage and ordination.
But a number of Christian denominations have already taken significant steps towards liberalizing their stances on homosexuality and marriage, and the evidence so far seems to indicate that affirming homosexuality is hardly a cure for membership woes. On the contrary, every major American church that has taken steps towards liberalization of sexual issues has seen a steep decline in membership.

The Episcopal Church
In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay, noncelibate man to be consecrated as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. In the wake of his consecration, entire dioceses severed ties with the Episcopal Church, eventually creating the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). But the Episcopal Church continued to liberalize its sexual teachings, lifting a moratorium on any more gay bishops and creating a “blessing ceremony” for gay couples in 2009.
In 2002, the number of baptized U.S. members of the Episcopal Church stood at 2.32 million. By 2012, that number had fallen to 1.89 million, a decline of 18.4 percent. Meanwhile, attendance has fallen even more steeply. Average Sunday attendance in its U.S. churches was 846,000 in 2002, but had fallen 24.4 percent by 2012 to only 640,000. Other signs of congregational liveliness have fallen even further. Baptisms have fallen by 39.6 percent, and marriages have fallen by 44.9 percent.
As for the ACNA? It’s seen its membership rise by 13 percent and its Sunday attendance rise by 16 percent in the past five years. Since 2009, the ACNA has planted 488 new congregations. In 2012, the entire Episcopal Church managed to plant four new churches.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) was formed in 1987, when three Lutheran denominations merged to create the largest Lutheran church in America. For most of its history, gay men and women were permitted to be pastors, so long as they remained celibate. But in a narrow vote at its 2009 Churchwide Assembly, ordination was extended to gay men and women in “committed monogamous relationships.” In addition, the Assembly passed an amendment allowing churches “to recognize, support and hold publicly accountable life-long, monogamous, same-gender relationships.”
From ELCA’s formation in 1987 to 2009, the average decrease in membership each year was only 0.62 percent. But after the liberalization of the ELCA’s stance on sexuality, membership declined a whopping 5.95 percent in 2010 and 4.98 percent in 2011. Since 2009, more than 600 congregations abandoned the denomination, with almost two-thirds joining conservative Lutheran denominations like the North American Lutheran Church and Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ.
By the end of 2012, ELCA had lost 12.3 percent of its members in three years—nearly 600,000 people. If the present rate of defections holds steady, ELCA will cease to exist in less than two decades.

The United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has long had a reputation for unfettered liberalism, sometimes bordering on the radical. In 2008, for example, the pastor of the largest UCC congregations in the country was one Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The UCC’s tendency for pushing traditional boundaries has led to unquestionably positive developments (such as the first African-American pastor as early as 1785) and the unquestionably silly (such as the first hymnal that refuses to call Jesus male). Needless to say, in 2005 UCC became the first U.S. mainline Protestant denomination to support same-sex marriage, and has been an outspoken voice in the gay marriage debate ever since.
While UCC has been bleeding members for decades, its decline rapidly acceleratedafter the gay marriage vote. Since 2005, UCC has lost 250,000 members, a decline of 20.4 percent over seven years. While an average of 39 congregations left UCC annually from 1990 to 2004, more than 350 congregations departed in the following three years. The UCC’s own pension board called the 2000’s decline “the worst decade among 25 reporting Protestant denominations,” and admitted that “…the rate of decline is accelerating.”
2013 marked a particularly grim milestone for the denomination, as membership finally fell below one million. If the post-2005 rate in membership losses doesn’t taper out, the denomination will cease to exist in 30 years.

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA) was flirting with loosening its sexual standards as early as its 2006 General Assembly, when it voted to allow ordination boards to essentially overlook clergy marriage standards if a candidate “adhere[s] to the essentials of the Reformed faith.” By 2010, the General Assembly had passed an amendment to remove all clerical standards of sexual behavior entirely. This year’s General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to change their Book of Order to redefine marriage as a civil contract between “two people” and to allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages where legal.
Hopefully by now, you can see where this is all headed. In 2006, 2.2 million people were members of PCUSA, a number that dropped 22.4 percent to 1.85 million by 2013. PCUSA’s decline accelerated significantly after approving the ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy in mid-2011, which led to the creation of an alternative denomination in 2012 called ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Over 100,000 members left the PCUSA in 2012 alone.
Once again, if post-2006 trends continue, the denomination will cease to exist by 2037.

Meanwhile, in Conservative Churches…
The familiar answer from liberal mainline Christians is to protest that church attendance and religiosity is on the decline across-the-board, not just in denominations that embrace homosexuality. But this excuse fails to account for conservative denominations like the Assemblies of God, which has been consistently and rapidly growing for more than 40 years. Despite much of the hand-wringing over the Catholic Church’s highly visible public advocacy against gay marriage, it has been consistently growing in the United States. Lord knows the Mormons haven’t had any trouble growing. Even theologically conservative denominations that are declining, such as the Southern Baptist Convention, began declining much later and much less drastically than other denominations. The Southern Baptist Convention has only declined by 3 percent since its peak in 2007—an average of less than 1 percent annually—and has actually been adding congregations.
In the end, Christian supporters of gay marriage will likely view its effects on church membership as a side issue. Christians have a responsibility to grow their churches, but also a responsibility to promote what they believe is just in God’s eyes. But for some strange reason, it seems like conservative Christians never have to sacrifice one responsibility to fulfill the other.

What Are The Implications for Ending the Ban on Same-Sex Marriage?

August 22nd, 2014

Federal Judge Hinckley of Tallahassee has declared the Florida ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional since it opposes the Fourteenth Amendment on equal protection and due process. The Fourteenth Amendment reads:

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

In order for this amendment to apply to marriage it was necessary for the courts to redefine marriage from its historic understanding based on moral law, to be primarily a “private, intimate, committed and exclusive union that is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition” as the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled.
As philosopher Roger Scruton commented,

Marriage has grown around the idea of sexual difference and all that sexual difference means. To make this feature accidental rather than essential is to change marriage beyond recognition.

Now that the courts have made this an issue of equal protection and due process there will pressure on all those who perform marriages to conform to this ruling. This means that every Judge or Notary Public, or whoever is licensed by the state to perform marriages, will be required not to discriminate against same-sex couples. If a Judge or Notary Public refuses to marry someone because they are Christians who do not believe in same-sex marriage, they will be charged with discrimination and violating a person’s civil rights. They will be told that if they cannot perform their civil duties they should resign from their positions or face law suits.
If a person does not want to let out rooms, or rent property, or provide services for same-sex couples they will likewise be charged with unconstitutional behavior.

Clergy, although they may be protected by the separation of church and state, will come under increasing pressure to perform same-sex weddings. Same-sex couples will seek to have their weddings in churches and office staff and clergy will have to learn to know how to minister to them while at the same time refusing to change their stance on Christian marriage. The gap between what the state mandates as legal and a civil right and what the church believes as moral will increase.

While this concerns a minority (2%) of the population it has become a litmus test of political correctness in the media. It will be interesting to see how the overwhelming majority of the population which wants to be tolerant and non-judgmental copes with the application of the law in the community at large. The challenge to love our neighbor is complicated when our neighbor requires us to go against our conscience or else be sued.

Who is Forbidden in Scripture to Marry?

August 18th, 2014

Who are forbidden in Scripture and in English Law to marry together? In my previous blogpost I referenced the Church of England Book of Common Prayer TABLE OF KINDRED AND AFFINITY which was drawn up in 1563. This is the list.

A Man may not marry his

1. Grandmother,
2. Grandfather’s Wife,
3. Wife’s Grandmother.
4. Father’s Sister,
5. Mother’s Sister,
6. Father’s Brother’s Wife.
7. Mother’s Brother’s Wife,
8. Wife’s Father’s Sister,
9. Wife’s Mother’s Sister.
10. Mother,
11. Step-Mother,
12. Wife’s Mother.
13. Daughter,
14. Wife’s Daughter,
15. Son’s Wife.
16. Sister,
17. Wife’s Sister,
18. Brother’s Wife.
19. Son’s Daughter,
20. Daughter’s Daughter,
21. Son’s Son’s Wife.
22. Daughter’s Son’s Wife,
23. Wife’s Son’s Daughter,
24. Wife’s Daughter’s Daughter.
25. Brother’s Daughter.
26. Sister’s Daughter,
27. Brother’s Son’s Wife.
28. Sister’s Son’s Wife,
29. Wife’s Brother’s Daughter,
30. Wife’s Sister’s Daughter.

There is a converse list of those a woman may not marry. All such marriages were regarded as incestuous and should be dissolved as void from the beginning.

There are three principles which govern the Table:
1. That what is said of man is to be understood equally of woman.
2. That all marriages are forbidden within the third degree of relationship inclusive, and none outside that degree.
3. That the prohibition of marriage extends not only to relation by consanguinity (blood), but to relation by affinity (marriage).

The Table is based upon Leviticus 18. Every degree forbidden in the Table is either expressly or by implication and fair inference, forbidden in Scripture (Matthew 19:4-9; 22:24) except #17 and 18 concerning which there is difference of opinion. They enforce a distinction between family affection and erotic love that protects the well-being of its vulnerable members. It does not include two other prohibitions in Leviticus 18:22,23 because they would have be considered literally inconceivable: homosexual union and bestial union. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” This prohibition is affirmed by St. Paul in Romans 1:26,27 as contrary to nature.

What do you say to those who regard these prohibitions as no longer binding on Christians because we live by grace rather than law? If this is the Judeo-Christian moral law governing those who can be married, how does it relate to us today? Is it merely optional for Jews and Christians in a secular society? How should it govern the decisions of the clergy in whether to officiate at marriages so prohibited?

Does Everyone Have An Equal Right To Be Married?

August 17th, 2014

Are all marriages equal? Do all have a right to marriage? The courts have decided that, all being equal before the law, all have the right to marry. While denying the historic moral basis for civil marriage the courts, at the same time, have mandated that it is immoral to deny the equal protection of the law to all who seek to be married. Does that mean that any who love one another has the right to marry the person they love? What about the bigamist, the polygamist, the polyandrist, the brother and sister, the father and daughter, the insane, the bisexual who might love both a male and a female simultaneously? Are they classes of people who are as disadvantaged in law as same-sex couples?

In the California case which overthrew Proposition 8, Judge Walker (who is a homosexual in a committed same-sex relationship) declared that there is no “rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.” What is the rational basis for marriage that he denies?

Robert R.Reilly in MAKING GAY OKAY: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything, argues that one has a “right” or is “free” to marry only insofar as one is capable of being married. One does not have a right to a vocation in life whose duties one cannot perform. Does one have a “right” to serve in the military if one cannot physically meet its demands?

“What, then, might be the minimal demands of marriage that one must be capable of performing? One of those marital duties is actually physical, though its implications and true meaning extend far beyond the merely physical. Common law holds that a marriage is not full valid until it is consummated. What does consummating a marriage mean? It means and has always meant by law an act of vaginal intercourse between husband and wife. If this act does not take place, the marriage can be declared a nullity. Until consummation, it is subject to annulment. Therefore, becoming ‘one flesh’ is, or at least was, not optional for a legally valid marriage. If one is incapable of consummating a marriage or in simply unwilling to do so for any reason, there can be no marriage, and therefore the ‘right’ to it is irrelevant. Similarly, if one cannot perform as a fireman, the right to be a fireman is also irrelevant. How did Judge Walker get around this? By ignoring it…… For homosexual couples, the marital act is physically impossible….For these reasons, among many others, common law has held through the centuries that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” (p.99)

It is also irrelevant to define marriage simply on the basis of having a happy, satisfying relationship with another. So can sisters, or brothers, or friends. We do not have a right to marriage based on emotional bonds and strong commitments.

At the back of the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, in which I was ordained, there is A TABLE OF KINDRED AND AFFINITY WHEREIN WHOSOEVER ARE RELATED ARE FORBIDDEN IN SCRIPTURE AND OUR LAWS TO MARRY TOGETHER. There are 30 forbidden relationships listed beginning, for a man, his Grandmother and lastly, his wife’s sister’s daughter. They did not have a right to marry in the church and in the laws of England at that time. The list is exhaustive of all possible relations. Not everyone has the right to marry another whom they may love.
In the Marriage Service that I use from the current Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church the following prayer begins the Prayers:

Eternal God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the world you have made, and for which your Son gave his life, and especially upon this man and this woman whom you make one flesh in Holy Matrimony. Amen

Christian marriage is between a man and woman whom God makes one flesh through their consummation on the marriage bed in a unitive and procreative act of love.

What do you think of the argument that all people have a “right” to marry? Is there a rational basis to forbidding certain people to marry? Why have the courts ignored the historic understanding of marriage in favor of an illusion?

What Should Be the Relationship Between Our Laws and Christian Morality?

August 16th, 2014

I was asked whether Christian doctrine should shape our laws. My answer is that it used to but recently the majority decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court have declared that concern for liberty for the individual or a class of people is more important than moral considerations. In 1986 Supreme Justice Warren Burger’s concurring opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick, which upheld the constitutionality of an Alabama law against sodomy, agreed with Justice Byron White who said that the Constitution does not confer “a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy”. Burger wrote:

“The proscriptions against sodomy have very ‘ancient roots’. Decisions of individuals relating to homosexual conduct have been subject to state intervention throughout the history of Western civilization. Condemnation of those practices is firmly rooted in Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards. Homosexual sodomy was a capital crime under Roman law…. During the English Reformation when powers of the ecclesiastical courts were transferred to the King’s Courts, the first English statute criminalizing sodomy was passed. Blackstone [Commentaries on the Laws of England] described ‘the infamous crime against nature’ as an offense of ‘deeper malignity’ than rape, a heinous act…. To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millenia of moral teaching.”

Robert R. Reilly in his survey of court rulings in MAKING GAY OKAY, How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything, writes that “Cast aside millenia of moral teaching” is exactly what the Lawrence v. Texas ruling did in 2003, seventeen years after Bowers. This decision declared a Texas statute “forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct” unconstitutional and, in order to do so, overturned the Bower ruling. Justice Kennedy claimed that “liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct” upon which the state should not intrude. In other words, liberty is defined as making up your own moral universe. It has nothing to do with morality or the U.S. Constitution. In another case concerning abortion rights (Planned Parenthood v. Casey 1992) the court found that “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” As Reilly comments, “Liberty does not mean freedom to choose what is right; it means becoming the source of what is right. It means not conforming oneself to what is good, but making up one’s own good.” (p.81)
According to this logic there would no seem to be a basis upon which to disapprove of any sexual variation performed privately. The state is indifferent as to whether one succumbs to a disordered sexual appetite, so long as he does it privately and freely.
Why did it take more than two centuries for the court to discover this right? Because, it says, the Founders did not know the manifold possibilities of liberty!
In 1878 the Supreme Court was offered an opportunity to change the sexual mores and laws of the country by judicial fiat. In Reynolds v. United States the court outlawed polygamy. But today such a ruling would be considered oppressive to the liberty of polygamists.
The Lawrence opinion delivered a tremendous blow to the rule of law and its relationship to sexual morality. In his dissenting opinion Justice Scalia pointed out the profound problem with this ruling:

“State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution,… adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision.”

Should our laws reflect our moral convictions? When should our obedience to God and his laws limit our liberty? How does removing legal penalties on behavior encourage acceptance of such behavior as legitimate?

Is Promiscuity a Characteristic of the Homosexual Lifestyle? Sex With 10,000 Men?

August 15th, 2014

Robert R. Reilly in his book MAKING GAY OKAY: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything, presents results from surveys on the inherent promiscuity of active homosexuals that make it impossible for them to remain faithful to one partner in a monogamous marriage. Thousands of sex encounters with male partners are not rare in the gay world.

“One respondent reported that he had engaged in sex with more than 10,000 men. Only 35 percent reported that they had engaged in anal sexual intercourse with fewer than 100 men; 42 percent reported that they had engaged in sexual intercourse with between 100 and 499 men; and 23 percent admitted to having 500 or more partners.” (The Journal of Human Sexuality, vol.1, 2009)

In 1995 Thomas Schmidt, PhD, wrote in Straight and Narrow? That

“promiscuity among homosexual men is not a mere stereotype, and it is not merely the majority experience – it is virtually the only experience….. there is practically no comparison possible to heterosexual marriage in terms of either fidelity or longevity. Tragically, lifelong faithfulness is almost nonexistent in the homosexual experience.” (p.108)

In other words, Reilly comments, “the popular depiction in the media of the faithful homosexual couple of decades’ duration is largely a fiction.”
He asks, “What then is the point of insisting on homosexual marriage when promiscuity prevails?” His answer is that “they have the need to sacramentalize their behavior….Legalizing homosexual behavior is not, then, as some have suggested, being ‘inclusive’ or making room for another kind of marriage. It requires the denial of the true nature of marriage.” (p.64)
Harvard researcher Edward Green, in his book, Broken Promises:How the AIDS Establishment Has Betrayed the Developing World (2011) recounts how at an AIDS conference in Washington in 2004 his presentation on the effectiveness of abstinence for the unmarried and “zero grazing” for the rest is the best means of dealing with the AIDS epidemic in Africa received muted applause.

“But when a female college student came to the microphone and exclaimed, ‘I think people should be able to have as much sex as they want, with as many people as they want’, she received a thunderous, standing ovation.”

In contrast, “the authors of Sex in America reported that 90 percent of heterosexual women and more than 75 percent heterosexual men have never engaged in extramarital sex. Heterosexual couples were 41 times more likely to be monogamous than homosexual couples.” (Michael Brown, A Queer Thing Happened in America, p.383)

What do you think? Do you think promiscuity is compatible with the Christian understanding of marriage? How does promiscuity devalue a person and personal relationships? How is the understanding of marriage going to be changed by legalizing same-sex marriage? What is your understanding of faithful, monogamous marriage? How has promiscuity amongst heterosexuals damaged their marriages? How can we promote self-control and chastity in our culture? What would Jesus say to young singles growing up today in a sex-saturated culture? What do you say to your children about ‘hooking up’?

How Did President Obama Change His View on Marriage?

August 14th, 2014

Robert R. Reilly in his book, MAKING GAY OKAY, argues that Aristotle and the Greek philosophers taught that Nature defines not only what man is but what he should be – that is the Good. Man is made for marriage with a woman in order to provide the primary element of society – the family. The family is the basis of the state and depends on virtue for its health. Vice, such as adultery or homosexuality, is a self-contradiction to the virtue of marriage. Rousseau and the Romantics turned Aristotle’s notion of Nature on its head. Rousseau stated that Nature is not an end but a beginning. There is nothing that man ought to become. Nature is what we want to make it. Virtue becomes whatever we choose. Reason is, and ought to be the slave of our passions. Nothing should limit us in what we will. This is a rebellion against the limits that man has as a biological being. Man is to be his own creator.

President Obama evolved in his view of marriage. On September 25, 2004 he said,

“I’m a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”

In his book The Audacity of Hope Obama erroneously claimed that the U.S. Constitution rejected absolute truth. Truth does not set you free; it imprisons. Moral relativism sets you free. Then you can do what you want. On Wednesday, May 9, 2012 he stated,

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Ten personal pronouns or adjectives in one sentence. The standard by which he judged what is right and wrong is that it “is important to me.” This necessitates the denial of objective morality.
Christianity, which has unambiguously condemned sodomy for more than two thousand years is enlisted to endorse his decision. He said,

“The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule – you know, treat others the way that you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”

Reilly comments:

“he might as well have said, Christ died to make the world safe for sodomy. In other words, if you would like your moral misbehavior to be rationalized, you should be willing to rationalize the moral behavior of others. That is only fair play. That way, we are all equal. That is equal opportunity. This is Obama’s new golden rule.” (p.44)

Do you think that Nature defines who we are and what we are for and that there is an objective morality, or do you think that we can make up our own morality according to our passions and desires? How do you respond to those who claim that Nature has made them free of gender stereotypes which society has laid upon them? To what extent can we sexually create ourselves? What do you think of Reilly’s comment about President Obama’s rationale as a Christian?

How Much Do You Know About the Homosexual Agenda?

August 13th, 2014

Robert Reilly has written MAKING GAY OKAY: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything (Ignatius Press, 2014). It is probably the most influential book I have read this year because it is influencing me in how I view the current controversy on this subject more than anything else I have read on it. Because I consider it so important I would like to take some time over the next few blogposts to review his exposition.

His thesis is very simple. He states that there are two fundamental views of reality. One is that Nature has ordered all things to fulfill certain inbuilt purposes. The other view is that we make our own purposes, according to our will and desires. Therefore, we can make everything, including ourselves, anything that we wish and that we have the power to do. The first view leads to the primacy of reason in human affairs; the second leads to the primacy of the will. The first does not allow for anything unnatural, such as same-sex marriage, while the second allows for anything. The same-sex marriage debate is really about the Nature of reality itself.

The homosexual movement seeks to have government and society affirm its lifestyle. The agenda is to create a society in which homosexual behavior is regarded as healthy, natural and normal. The goal is to provide true alternatives to historic marriage and to radically reorder society’s view of reality. In other words, sodomy is to become morally equivalent to the marital act and therefore should be taught as such and affirmed at every level of public life, even in elementary schools. What was hitherto considered a vice, a moral disorder, should now become a highly moral act. It should become normative as a standard of behavior, it should be sacramentalized. Therefore, active homosexuals should be ordained as priests and bishops and pastors should officiate at same-sex marriages. What used to be bad is now good. Tolerance has to be replaced by compulsory acceptance in order for rationalization to be secure. No one can dissent from this illusion in order for people who consider themselves victims to be justified in their behavior. Although they are only 2% of the population the homosexual lobby have dominated the discourse and set the agenda. If you disagree with them on moral grounds you are labeled homophobes. Freedom of speech goes by the board.

What do you think of Reilly’s thesis? How free are you to express your convictions about the present cultural trend toward accepting homosexual behavior as normative and healthy? How can you accept the homosexual as a neighbor you are to love and for whom Christ died, while at the same time regarding his sexual behavior as perverse?

What Does It Mean to Follow Jesus?

August 2nd, 2014

Charles M. Sheldon wrote his bestseller IN HIS STEPS, in 1896. Since then it has never been out of print, and has sold more than thirty million copies. It tells the story of a wealthy and influential church in the fictional midwestern town of Raymond whose life is changed by the challenge of a young man seeking work who spoke up on a Sunday morning after the preacher had urged his congregation to follow Jesus.

“The minister said that it is necessary for the disciple of Jesus to follow His steps, and he said that the steps are ‘obedience, faith, love and imitation.’ But I did not hear him tell you just what he meant that to mean, especially the last step. What do you Christians mean by following the steps of Jesus?”

The minister was profoundly touched by the words of the young man who, after speaking fainted, and then died. On the following Sunday he challenged his congregation to volunteer to pledge themselves for a year not to do anything without first asking the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’ And after asking that question, each will follow Jesus as exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result will be. He asked those who would take that pledge to remain behind for a time of prayer and sharing.

The novel follows the lives of several who take the pledge and try to live by it: the newspaper publisher, the president of the college, the merchant, the railroad executive, the vocalist, the heiress, the novelist, and the minister.

IN HIS STEPS was written before government programs to alleviate poverty so there is an emphasis on social welfare programs to help the poor and needy. It was also a time when the Temperance movement and evangelists like Billy Sunday were targeting the influence of the saloons and trying to shut down the alcohol industry. Sheldon’s book is representative of that movement.

The book is a powerful challenge to those who are wealthy to examine themselves about their practical commitment to Christ. His message is that following Christ requires self-denial and suffering. There is no place for superficial, formal churchianity if one is to be serious about one’s faith. He indicts the hypocrisy of those who would enjoy the benefits of church life, the beautiful music, the beautiful people, the ‘no rocking the boat’ preaching and the extravagance of an affluent lifestyle of country clubs, clothes and expensive trips when many people need the Gospel and a helping hand.

If you haven’t read this book I would encourage you to do so. It is as relevant to day as when it was first written. If you have read it I would be interested in knowing what you thought of its message. Did it cause you to look at your priorities? Did you make any changes in your attitude and lifestyle as a result of reading it? How did it affect your attitude to worship and church life?