Archive for the ‘moralism’ Tag

Limiting Fellowship   Leave a comment

I believe, because I have seen it work, that limited fellowship should be extended to brethren who have drifted into the kinds of error we’ve been discussing.

What do I mean by limited fellowship?

In some instances the local churches these people are members of should discipline them and, if necessary, even withdraw fellowship from them. This is not done very often and, sadly, the congregations themselves frequently are led into the errors of these individuals.

But what can the larger Christian community do when a church will not discipline its wayward minister? Though formal withdrawal of fellowship is principally a congregational matter, fellowship extends further than the local church, so limitation of fellowship can also go beyond the local church.

When the Southern Baptist Convention voted to disfellowship New Heart Community Church it was withdrawing its financial support and disallowing its delegates to vote in the convention. While Pastor Danny Cortez had a point about churches that allowed their pastors to officiate at remarriages after non-permitted divorces, he had the Godly instruction backwards. We are not to embrace such immorality, but discipline it when it occurs in the churches. If churches would cease to support teachers who go into error, some of the rogues might be brought to repentance. Certainly their influence could be curtailed.

My husband Brad is a recovering alcoholic who will point out that Alcoholics Anonymous is not anonymous for the drinking drunk. If you’re not involved in AA, you may not realize that. If you’re off the wagon, they do not protect your anonymity. They will tell your pastor, your wife, your boss that you need help. They will call the cops if you’re driving drunk. It is only when you are sober that they will refuse to even share that they know you.

Churches really need to remember that. AA got it from us, by the way. Bill W. talked about it in his book. Yet, these days, when Christians face unsound teaching from the pulpit or Christian pen or open immorality in a church, we all get quiet and pretend it’s not happening. A form of discipline can be exercised by making the brotherhood aware of the sinful situation.

Christians have a right to know where a teacher or preacher stands on fundamental issues before they use his services. Some brethren complain about the “gossip journals” that are devoted exclusively to digging up church dirt and sometimes that’s justified, but more often than not, there’d be no muckraking if there was no muck.

If more responsible brethren would muster the courage to kindly and forcefully chastise erring teachers, there would be no need for the world to take Christians to task for our hypocrisy.

If Christian schools, churches, and journals would cease to use men and women who are openly known to advocate radical ideas or cause division, it would send a message. A preacher with no audience, or a writer with no readers, doesn’t have nearly the power of one who is being listened to.

This is not a call for head-hunting. We should not withdraw from every Christian who may disagree with us regarding various points of Bible interpretation. That’s a fanatical approach that has fragmented churches and made Christianity a reproach before an unbelieving world. But it is equally foolish to shut one’s eyes to blatant false teaching that undermines the spiritual and moral foundations of the churches. When the Bible says stay away from certain doctrinal aberrations, we should.

Church discipline needs to be exercised in love, but love needs to be tough. Discipline doesn’t need to be abusive, but it does need to interrupt the influence of evil coming from supposedly Christian pulpits and pens in the hope that it might lead to repentance or that the false teachers will at least be identified as false and no longer considered Christians.

If the churches truly want to be relevant in a sinful world, we need to start by taking the logs out of our own eyes before we try to deal with the dirt in the eyes of non-Christians.

The Temple of God   Leave a comment

My body (and the bodies of all Christians) is the temple of God. His home, so to speak.

I treat my home with a certain amount of respect because I care about where I live. In some ways, I can compare myself to my dogs. They don’t pee in their dog pen and they generally create a latrine for themselves in one corner of the yard. They do that because they don’t want to walk in what comes out of their hind ends. Similarly, I clean up around my house and keep my messier bodily functions sequestered in the “necessary” because I don’t want to live in the consequence of my humanity.

My body is the temple of God. I wonder how He feels about that extra 20 pounds I’m carrying? Does He object when His believers smoke cigarettes or drink to excess? What about when we have sex in ways that He has told us He does not approve? Does He look out of the windows of His temple (our eyes) and see what we’re doing? Does He weep?

In Romans, Paul talks about the struggle between the flesh and the spirit, about how we know what God wants from us, but we don’t do it. He corrected the churches at Corinth, Rome and Ephesus for not giving God His due in His temple. In Revelation, the apostle John warned that the churches were rife with apostasy. James, the brother of Jesus and pastor of the church at Jerusalem, was worried that the Christians didn’t know that God expected them to lead moral lives.

Christianity is an individual relationship with Jesus Christ as God and Savior. God has no grandchildren. My faith does not pass to my children unless I teach it to them and they accept it. If they live ethical lives based upon the moralism that I teach them, that is NOT to their credit. They must be born again — and that is something that happens 1:1 in their hearts, not in a congregation or a community or a nation. And, ultimately, we answer to God as individuals at the bema seat judgment.

If we’ve tracked the world’s mud through God’s temple because we loved the world more than we loved Him, we’re going to answer for it. Now you could argue that there are no consequences since Christians will not be denied entry into heaven, but consider this as a possibility. What if at the bema seat, God allowed you to see your sins as a Christian the way that He experienced them. This is God, Who abandoned Himself on the cross because He could not stand to look upon sin. Imagine what He experiences when you violate His laws, which He gave us for our own good, because you would rather scratch a physical itch than have full fellowship with Him?

We choose that and it must so incredibly disgust Him. Yes, He loves us, but not like some people dote on their cute little dogs. He loves us as a loving Father Who wants us to be better than we are, not for His sake, but for ours.

So, what do we do? We’ve taken a really long look at the sins of Christians. It’s easy to say “I should do better” and then just keep right on going. And certainly, there are Christians who do not believe that God cares that we’re engaging in certain activities. There’s no consequence. I enjoy my sin, so why stop?

What are the churches supposed to do about that? Frown at us? Make us feel bad? Keep opening the doors week after week in hopes that we will change? Get laws passed that outlaw our behavior?

No! The churches are supposed to discipline us!

When Christians are Of the World   Leave a comment

Ralph Seekins is a local car dealership owner and politician. Although I’ve met him, I can’t say I know him personally. He’s owned the largest car dealership (Ford) in Fairbanks since I was in college and he’s been in the State Legislature. I think he ran for Governor or Lt. Governor at least once. He’s a Republican.

He’s also a huge contributor to Young Life locally and is the most prominent member of the largest Assembly of God church in town.

He is a public Christian involved in business and politics.

There are significant numbers of Ford owners in Fairbanks who buy their cars in Wasilla or Anchorage (250 to 400 miles away) and drive there for service that you have to wonder why. I own a used Ford and take it to an independent garage. My experience with Seekins Ford is never good and that appears to be the view of just about everyone except the military, who are never here long enough to need any real maintenance. I can get a Ford part from NAPA for 1/3 of what it would cost me at the dealership and the longest I’ve ever had to wait is two days for shipping from Seattle. That same part will take two weeks if I order it through the deadership. I’m told by those folks who make that long drive to the Wasilla Ford dealership that you can get the same part there for quite a bit less than Seekins sells it for. In some ways,  the Fairbanks car market is a monopoly because of the distance to other locations, but not all local deaderships have this reputation.

Mr. Seekins is an important member of the Republican Party in Alaska, but it’s interesting how many of the folks who have had political dealings with him don’t trust him.

I think Young Life does good work and I have nothing against the Assemblies of God, but I know folks who will say both are phony organizations and they point to Seekins involvement as proof.

Here is just one example. A number of years ago, Seekins Ford donated a car for a Young Life raffle at the State Fair. Alaska has a weird state fair system where the fair is held in multiple locations a couple of weeks apart. Nobody won the raffle at the Tanana Valley State Fair. We were told the numbers were randomized and so the winner could be at the Palmer or Juneau fair. Nobody won there either. We discovered this because a reporter at the local newspaper decided to investigate. The promoter, apparently rattled by being found out, admitted  the winning number was not in the block of numbers available in Alaska. He pointed to Seekins’ manager making that decision. She obfuscated, talking about how this was standard procedure with raffles through out the country. Ralph said nothing — ever.

So all those people who bought tickets thinking they might get something for being generous to a good cause now have a sour taste in their mouths about Young Life and Ralph Seekins … and Christianity in general. Seekins talks a lot about family and he seems to have a good one. He speaks out against abortion and I believe he believes God cares if we abort our babies. He gives to the right causes. But he’s known as a crook in business and politics and even in charity and that speaks very badly for the God he says he serves.

I may be the only Christian someone else will ever know. I may be the only reflection of God someone will ever see. When I reflect the world instead of my Savior, I am misrepresenting God and potentially keeping people from coming to Him.

Think about that, Christians! What are you doing that misrepresents God?

Like it or not, you’re going to answer for it at the bema seat judgment, so you’d better ask yourself —


“Do I want to face God and explain myself over this?” 

In God We Trust   Leave a comment

Christians sometimes try to segregate God from areas that we consider to be “our” businesses. For example, we don’t think God really has much to say about the job we work in or how we conduct our businesses. I’ve heard Christian businesspeople respond when someone questions their faith because of dishonest business practices that “my faith has nothing to do with my business.”

Businesses exist to make profits for their owners/managers and to provide jobs for their employees that keep up with inflation and reflect the profit the employees help the company to make. You will get no support from me if you believe that profit is evil and that owners/managers should make less money than their employees. They take the risk, they put in the hard work of building a business, and in most small businesses the boss is the first there in the morning and the last to leave at night.

Jesus’ parables teach eternal truths, but they also offer surprisingly practical lessons into human interactions. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus taught about how we use God’s grace. We call the parable of the talents and it really is about spiritual matters. However, as with many of the parables, it teaches on more than one level. While it would be a mistake to brush aside the primary spiritual lesson Jesus was teaching, this parable also touches on the material world. It is a story about capital, investment, entrepreneurship, and the proper use of scarce economic resources.

It’s also a direct rebuttal of those who see a contradiction between business success and living the Christian life.

A rich man was going on a long journey. He called his three servants to him and told them to be caretakers of his property while he was away. He assessed the natural abilities of each. He gave five talents to one servant, two to another, and one to the third. He then left. The servants went forth with this capital. The servant with five talents went into business and doubled his investment. The servant with two talents did likewise. The servant with one talent hid his master’s property in a hole in the ground. When the master returned to settle his accounts, he praised the two investors. The one who “saved” the single talent, however, did not receive praise. The master wanted to know why he hadn’t at least put the money in the bank so that he could have gotten interest. He then gave the talent to the servant who had 10 talents.

Profit is not wrong! Using our resources, wit and labor to better our lives is not against God’s law. In fact, this parable suggests that passively preserving what we are given naturally is against God’s law. Jesus seems to be encouraging His listeners to face insecurity of life with entrepreneurship.

So what did Jesus mean when he said “It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye?” First, you have to understand that the “needle’s eye” was a cultural reference to the man-door in a city gate. A camel could walk easily through an open city gate, but if the gate was closed for the night, merchants sometimes had to unload the camel of all of its goods and then the camel would crawl on its knees through the door. That seems less impossible than threading a camel through a sewing needle eye, but still a lot of effort.

The other thing to recognize is that Christian principles are often set in tension with one another. We have freedom in Christ, but also a voluntary obligation to avoid sin. We are to love sinners, but not excuse their sin. We may drink alcohol, but getting drunk is a sin. We are allowed to be angry, but not to let our anger become rage, which is sin.

Christians are allowed, even encouraged, to be in business and to make a profit. Our Savior said so. But there are some behaviors common in business that Christians should not be part of. And therein lies the discussion.

Posted November 24, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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It’s More Than Sex   Leave a comment

A lot of Christians pick and choose which sins they get incensed about and that is a problem for us that highlights what is wrong with the churches today.

I’ve spent a good deal of time dealing with sexual immorality within the churches. I’ve been careful to state that none of this applies outside of the churches. Non-Christians are already the walking dead. Christians need to be concerned with presenting the gospel to them so that they have an opportunity for Life. Until they are alive, we’re wasting our times (and more importantly God’s) by dealing with the symptoms of their death. Stop doing that and do what you do not want to do!

Look at yourself and ask “Do I reflect the Life that is within me?”

Before we can be good stewards of the ministry God has given us, we must make sure we are properly reflecting the Savior.

And, we’re not, folks!

Why are there ashtrays outside the doors to most churches? We don’t want cigarette butts on the steps, but let’s be honest with ourselves. If our church members truly believed their bodies are the temple of God, would we need those ashtrays? What about the pianist who is 100-pounds overweight? What about the businessman with the reputation for greed and fraud? What about the angry man who screams at the bank teller on his way to the building and grounds meeting? Or how about the gossip-mongers whispering in each other’s ears?

True, none of us is perfect and sometimes the world is just looking for our failures. And certainly the world loves to jump all over what it perceives to be failure when in fact it is pressing its phony standards of morality on us. And also sometimes the world redefines what is moral and then calls us evil for choosing to obey God rather than man. I’m not denying it.

I am pointing out that often Christians fail to live up to God’s standards, but then we love to point a finger at non-Christians and judge them for also not living up to that standard. Non-Christians (who are essentially spiritual zombies) are under no obligation to live under God’s standards. They’ll reap the consequences of rejecting God’s invitation to salvation. I think that status blinds God to whether they are sexually immoral. That’s the dirt on their feet when they have a stake through their hearts. Expecting non-Christians to care whether they are sinning is like expecting good table manners from zombies.

Christians, however, do have an obligation to at least try to live up to God’s standards. Jesus died for us. We accepted that gift. The least we can do is try to live our lives as accurate reflections of who God is and admit it when we fall short.

And we will fall short because we are human.

Your Morality Should Not Be Moralism   1 comment

There is a difference, but it is one that the modern churches don’t seem to understand.

Christians practice morality for two reasons.

The first is because we are grateful to God for His loving care toward us, for what He chose to do on the cross so that we could be right with Him. Our “good” behavior did not earn us salvation because there is no way we could ever be good enough to match the goodness of God. He did it for us because we couldn’t do it for ourselves. And it was no easy thing. The sinless God, Who absolutely hates sin, left the perfection of His spiritual realm to take on human flesh, struggle with the weakness toward sin, and then die on the cross and take on the sins of every human being that had ever lived or ever would live, so that every individual who chooses to accept that sacrifice can be forgiven and eventually enter into God’s eternal realm where there will be no sin. Imagine coating yourself in something you consider to be vile for the love of folks who mostly reject what you’re offering? That’s the love God showed toward us and for those of us who have accepted it, our applause for what God has done for us is that we make disciples for Him wherever we go. We do that in part by living moral lives by His standards of morality.

The second reason we live moral lives is that the world is watching us. Regardless of what the world says about our morality, make no mistake, they judge God by how well we keep that morality. Even as they say “Quit struggling and live like us”, they watch to see if what we believe has any positive impact upon our lives. When we live just like the world, the world judges that and finds God wanting. If God really has power to change lives, they think, then His transformative power would be evident in the lives of His followers.

Regardless of what they say, that’s what they’re thinking (I used to be one of them, I know).


There is a difference between morality and moralism. There are things I don’t do because God has assured me they are not good for me and there are things that I don’t do because God has assured me they are not good for others. Conversely, there are things I do because God has assured me they’re good for me and things I do because God has assured me that what I do will be seen by others and have a positive effect upon them. That’s morality, which involves fleeing immorality to embrace Christlike living. Fleeing immorality can look different from Christian to Christian, which we will discuss later, but whenever the Bible speaks on something definitely, we should not argue with God, but do what we know to be right.

And, yes, sometimes God asks us to do things that are difficult and uncomfortable or to not do things that are pleasurable and fun. That’s another topic.

Christians live in this world, but are not of this world. We’re still human. Our flesh still desires the comforts and pleasures that our neighbors enjoy, but our God requires that we live different lives from the society around us. Why? Because it will be noticed, whether or not we are even aware of it. Jesus even told us in John that the world will hate us because we follow Him and if the world hates us for reflecting Jesus, we should not be ashamed.

For the first three centuries of Christianity, Christians understood this. Often persecuted, always considered less-than outsiders, Christians lived in this world but were not of it. During those 300 years, the Christian population grew from less than 200 in Jerusalem to more than one-quarter of the population of the Greco-Roman world. How? If you look at history, it was definitely not through the sword. Christians had no power. What they did have was love, but not the phony “love” today’s society wants to see. While not excusing the sin around them, they gave selflessly to the society they lived in.

An example? In Rome, Christians were accused of spreading the plague. They might have actually been partially responsible. When plague broke out, the Roman officials sealed off entire neighborhoods to try and control the spread. No food went in, no one came out. Christians would volunteer to go into these plague-ridden areas to feed people, to care for the sick, to dispose of the bodies. I’m sure many of them got sick too and as disease-transmission was not well understood at the time, they may have been accidentally responsible for the spread, but consider what they were doing. They were volunteering to go into a no-man’s land to carry God’s love into dark places — they were risking their own lives to care for others. Some of the survivors, impressed by this, became Christians.

This was how Christianity grew in the early days, before the Church had the power of the state behind it. Not only did it do charity among those society had written off, it rescued the children Romans abandoned to the element and lived lives that were different enough from those around them that some people found it attractive.

After the loosely affiliated churches reformed into the Roman Catholic Church, things changed. Instead of showing their light before the world so that the world either hated them or were attracted to them, the Church had the power to order people to become (nominal) Christians. Of course, they weren’t really Christians, because Christianity is an inward transformation that is evidenced by a moral life, not a series of rituals and regulations that your body follows to please some moral code. And, we’re still in that mode, folks! It’s been 1700 years and we’re still thinking we can change the world by changing how people act.

We can’t. Paul warned us that we can’t in Galatians, Corinthians, Romans and Philippians. You can’t make dead people alive by forcing them to live moral lives, because living moral lives is not what made us alive. The grace of God imparted by the death of Jesus on the cross did that. How can we believe that we are saved by grace through the blood of Jesus and not of ourselves (which would only make us boastful), and think that somehow we can set moral standards for the world around us and drag them along to heaven with us?

Worse, however, is that we think if we make the world just moral enough, we can mostly live like the world and that will be fine with God. Then we wonder why the churches aren’t growing and our children profess faith as children and then walk away from the church as young adults.

The churches today, in the United States at least, have become social clubs for prudes, bossy-bosses, and the unnaturally happy. We talk a good talk, but in reality, we don’t look substantially different from the world around us. We get divorced at about the same rate as the world. Our children have premarital sex at about the same rate. Our remarriage rate after divorce is actually higher than the society around us. Why are we shocked that there are churches that now think God is fine with homosexuality? Will we be shocked when in the next generation, churches begin to accept polyamory and, eventually, paedaphilia? All of these activities existed in abundance in the 1st century world that Paul ministered in — in the society surround the churches at Corinth, Thessalonica, and Rome. Paul, writing in God’s authority, told these Christians to flee immorality.

And, the churches grew by leaps and bounds even as the world hated them.

Why We Can’t Just Agree to Disagree   Leave a comment

The Southern Baptist Convention, which my church is a member of, made news earlier this year when the Executive Board voted to disfellowship New Heart Baptist Church in California from the Convention citing its recent decision to become a “third way” church on the subject of homosexuality. It’s not quite a welcoming and affirming church, but its members have agreed to disagree and not to judge one another on the subject of homosexuality.

There are several problems with this ideal … the first being that it denies the Bible.

“I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children. For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I encourage you, then, be imitators of me. For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you of my ways in Christas I teach them everywhere in every church. Some have become arrogantas if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not only the talk of these arrogant people, but also their power. For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power. What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline or with love and a spirit of gentlenessIt is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife.” (1 Corinthians 4:14-5:1)

The church at Corinth was richly blessed in gifts, but it was a young church filled with spiritually immature people (not many fathers in Christ). This immaturity grew all kinds of problems as they tried to be a light in a city that was the Las Vegas of its day. Paul told them — don’t boast of your freedom in Christ. You are leading others astray.

He uses a singular example of the need for church discipline. A member of the church was involved in sexual immorality. It doesn’t really matter what the sexual immorality was. Paul makes that clear latter in the larger letter. What matters was how the church dealt with it … or didn’t. This was apparently a well-known relationship within the church and Paul had actually heard report that the church of Corinth was proud of their enlightened view on this. They knew the behavior was unChristlike, but they felt they shouldn’t judge. In the words of a commenter — they wanted to extend grace.

Paul said they were wrong. They were excusing sin. They should immediately discipline this sinning church member because his behavior was reflecting badly on the power of Christ to transform lives. They had no business being proud of their affirming attitudes. They were sinning even greater than the guy who was screwing his father’s wife. Sexual immorality, Paul explained, was a particularly soul-destroying sin because it was something you gave your whole body to and it went against the metaphor of Christ and the Church as His Bride. Deal with it, he said, or I will come there and discipline the entire church!

He also completely reverses Jesus’ statement at the Sermon on the Mount — “Judge not or you will be judged.” Paul said instead “Are you not to judge those inside [the church]? But God will judge those outside [the church]Remove the evil person from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13). “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” he tells them in the same passage.

No, this is not a contradiction of Christ. You have to pay attention to who Jesus was addressing at the time He made the statement. Christ was talking about hypocrites judging others for their sins — those with a huge log in their eye trying to get a speck out of the eye of another. Christ was saying “You have a huge problem. Take care of your problem before you take care of the other guy’s little problem.” It’s important to recognize that Jesus was also speaking to unbelievers — non-Christians. Remember … the walking dead with the stakes through their hearts who think following a morality code will make them okay with God.

Paul, speaking to Christians who are enlivened in Christ, is saying, you with the dirty feet, wash each other’s feet. Police the church. Discipline one another for the good of the congregation and for the good of the individual and for the example the world will see.

We know from 2 Corinthians that the “evil one” was disfellowshipped, repented and sought readmission to the congregation. Paul gives advice on this that we’ll look at later.

Christians are meant to judge and discipline other Christians. But let’s be clear … if you’re a divorced and remarried woman, you are no better than the gay couple sitting across the way. If there is any shade of gray between your sin and theirs, it must rest in the area of repentance. You can be sure that the members of the 1st Baptist Church of Corinth had their own store of past sins. They’d grown up in Las Vegas. Many of them had come out of the society of sexual immorality that pervaded that community. There was no difference between them and the guy who was screwing his step-mother EXCEPT ….

They had repented of that lifestyle and were seeking to follow God and that made them eligible not only to judge the sin of this Christian, but also to discipline him for it — not to be cruel and legalistic, but for his own good.

So churches can’t agree to disagree, because God says we can’t. That’s not what the churches are there for. We’re not social clubs for getting together and feeling good. We’re schools for learning how to be better servants of God.

Mandated Sexual Immorality   Leave a comment

My conversation with Thom Stark is touching on issues that I have touched on before. Rather than say the same thing in different ways, I’m reprinting the articles because I don’t think I can say them better in a different way.



Last year, Masterpiece Cakes in Denver was told by the Colorado courts to bake cakes for gay weddings or stop baking cakes altogether. In August, the New York State Division of Human Rights fined Cynthia and Robert Gifford $13,000 for acting on their belief that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and thus declining to rent out their family farm for a same-sex wedding celebration, ruling that Christianity’s historical belief about marriage is now “discrimination”. Like Jack Phillips of Masterpiece Cakeshop, the Giffords are also required to institute anti-discrimination re-education classes and procedures for their staff.

It is now considered just to force citizens with moral objections to participate in what they consider to be sin if they want to stay in business.

We’ve lost the cultural war, folks. There’s no use arguing the point. My 21-year-old daughter (a Christian) thinks Jesus is fine with homosexuals’ marrying. She even believes that the Bible was tampered with to include anti-homosexual passages. I’m not going to argue with her about it. I’ve given her access to several books that show how reliable the Bible as we have it is and I’ll let God do the rest. Sometimes you have to know when to back off and let the Holy Spirit work.

But these two incidents bring us to a set of questions. Should the government of a “free society” be able to force family businesses to betray their consciences and participate in ceremonies that violate their beliefs? That’s an argument for another day. The more important discussion is – how did we get here?

Christians – how did we get here?

I’ve been posting on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and I suspect the church’s failure to reach our culture on a whole host of such issues is tied to that.

Twenty yeas ago, same-sex marriage was the least of all political concerns. Then Bill Clinton tried to fulfill a campaign promise with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which led to the Defense of Marriage Act. All of a sudden, we entered what historians will one day recall as a cultural revolution greater than anything that happened in the 1960s. By 1993, the cover story of The Nation identified gay rights as the summit and cornerstone of the culture war to forever change America. We’re now in the endgame and conservatives have lost. It is commonly believed that the only reason to oppose same-sex marriage is rank bigotry or for religious reasons and, the argument that follows is, neither of these has any place in determining laws or public standards.

In some ways, it’s a generational thing. Polls show that young people think homosexuality is normal and that opposition to it has the moral status of segregation in the late 1960s. In the 2010 book American Grace, political scientists Robert D. Putman and David E. Campbell noted that there was a marked change in attitudes around 1990. Young adults at the time were accepting homosexuality as a moral in increasing numbers while at the same time, they were falling away from organized religion. Religious disengagement and liberal sexual attitudes appear to go hand-in-hand.

The Pew Research Center’s Greg Smith conducted a 2012 study that showed this interaction as well. He asserted that this current generation is more religious unaffiliated than any on record and that there is no reason to think they will return to church in significant numbers as they age, as had been noted in past generations.

Putnam and Campbell were careful to say in American Grace that correlation is not causation, but they pointed out that the public role many Christian leaders took in opposing gay marriage alienated young Americans from organized religion and suggested that Christian churches would need to liberalize on sexual teaching if we hoped to regain and retain the loyalty of younger generations.

The problem with that suggestion is that Mainline Protestant denominations, which have been far more accepting of homosexuality and sexual liberation in general, are losing membership much more quickly than more tradition conservative denominations that oppose gay marriage and discourage sexual liberation.

Why? Maybe when people decided that historical normative Christianity was wrong about sex, they also decided that everything else was wrong about Christianity. Finding a church that agreed with their liberalism did not solve their basic problem of a lack of faith.

Folks, we’re losing the culture and it has almost nothing to do with gay marriage. That is a symptom, not a cause.


Looking for Excuses   2 comments

Hi, my name is Rose. Lela and I go back more than 20 years. We’ve been through a lot together and been part of each other’s Christian accountability network on many occasions. We have disciplined each other and others in Christian love without excusing sin.

That’s an important distinction. Neither of us is perfect. We have sinned. I’ve sinned more. I cheated on my husband and that adultery became public. What he might have been able to excuse in private, he found himself unable to forgive when it became public and he divorced me. It wasn’t as simple as that. We took over a year to come to that point. We were both Christians who had made a covenant with God before the church. We didn’t believe in divorce, but James couldn’t continue to live with me. He was well within Biblical grounds to divorce me and he is also free to remarry. Neither of us has done that. Although I can’t speak for James, I know that I will not remarry.


Because two sins do not balance each other out. When I broke my vow to James and my covenant with God, it did not dissolve God’s covenant with me. I agreed to be wife to James in God’s grace for my lifetime. God accepted that vow and it did not change because James and I decided we couldn’t stand to live together any longer. To seek physical happiness in another adultery would not excuse my first adultery. It would compound it. When I committed adultery, the man I had the affair with was unmarried, but he was still an adulterer because he was having sex with a married woman. Like it or not, I have a part in his sin. I can’t say “he made his own choice” or, worse, excuse my own sin by saying he came onto me. It does not make me innocent. It merely excuses my sin. Remarrying, either to the man I had the affair with or another, would be nothing less than trying to cover up my sin in the same way that David tried to cover up his sin by marrying Bathsheba.

The other reason I won’t remarry is because a part of repentance is accepting the consequences of my sin, which is that I will likely spend the rest of my life alone. Would I like things to be different? Yes! I obviously have a libido. And if James ever finds it in his heart to forgive me and reunite, I know that I will deserve it this time. Still, I accept the consequences of my sin. Being faithfully single has really not harmed me and it has taught me many valuable lessons.

“Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, Sthat just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. (For someone who has died has been freed from sin). Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him. For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness,but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness. For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 5:20-6:14)

That God forgave my sin, both when I became a Christian and for later transgressions, does not give me permission to sin. My sin required grace (God’s unmerited favor) to forgive. Paul explained that the greater the sin, the more grace expands to cover that sin, but we shouldn’t sin expecting more grace. Instead, we should recognize that sin is a work of our former dead selves. As we are now alive in Christ, we should not let sin use our bodies to indulge its desires. When I gave my body to unrighteousness, I acted like someone who had not been enlivened by Jesus, but as if I did not know God at all. I had a choice, but I chose wrongly. I’d been reborn under grace, but when I allowed sin to have mastery of my will, I was showed guilty by the law.

And that’s the important thing to understand. Christians do not live under the law, to follow every jot and iota of it to judge our worthiness for salvation. We live under grace. We were saved by grace … our sin set aside by God’s forgiveness, by the grace that He provided through His own sacrifice on the cross. Christians don’t obey God’s will out of fear that we will somehow be found wanting and left outside Heaven. We don’t obey God’s will in hopes of earning His favor. We obey God because we are grateful for what He already did for us out of His love for us. But when we — when I — disobeyed God by committing adultery, I did more than just affect my life and those directly connected to me. Over the years since, I’ve come to realize how many unbelievers who heard of what happened took my actions as an excuse to ridicule other Christians and to scoff at the Church and God. When Christians act contrary to what God has taught in the Bible, our actions reflect negatively on Him and cause non-Christians to reject the gospel message.

I know I’ve been forgiven of adultery because I’ve asked for forgiveness and God always takes our repentance, even if my husband does not. I’m sorry for what I did, but I don’t feel guilty. When I think that there would be people out there who took my actions as an excuse to reject God’s salvation, though …

Finally, the last thing I would say is that I’ve been a member of three churches since I cheated on my husband. People know. It was public knowledge and I don’t hide from it. I’ve given my testimony in church. Although Christians cannot actually extend grace to others (grace is God’s gift to give, not ours), I have never felt judged and I think that is because I do not excuse my sin. Yes, there are things James could have done differently. Yes, my church at the time had a hand in what happened. A counselor I was seeing at the time also contributed to my temptation. The culture I was raised in encouraged my mind in that direction. The man I sinned with certainly had a hand … but I am the one who sinned.

It is as simple as that. By not excusing my sin, I allowed grace to abound … and God saw to it that it did.

What David Has to Say to the 21st Century Churches   4 comments

You’re getting a double-feature today because someone chose to question what I presented God’s word in What’s So Wrong with Second Marriages?

King David was a Israelite with a heart for God. For much of his life, he strove to do God’s will to the utmost of his ability and God used that strength of character to build the nation of Israel into a strong land known for its reliance on their curious One God. David wasn’t perfect. He was still human and in 2 Samuel 11, it is recorded that he committed adultery with the wife of one of his captains. When she became pregnant by David, he recalled her husband Uriah from the battle field in hopes that he would have sexual relations with Bathsheba and she could claim the child was his. Uriah was an honorable soldier who followed a rule of celibacy during the summer season of war, so there was no way for David and Bathsheba to hide their sin.

David then ordered Uriah into the heat of a battle where his death was guaranteed. When Uriah was killed, David announced his mercy on Uriah’s wife and married her.

Problem solved, right? I mean, God never said David was wrong for this. There were no consequences for adultery, lying and murder. Uh … well ….

Nathan was the prophet of the Lord and God spoke to him and told him to go speak with David. This was not without risks. The prior king had been known to fling spears at servants who displeased him. Nathan was being called upon to confront the most powerful man in his country, a man with lethal battle skills, who had ordered the murder by subterfuge of one of his most valuable captains.

Nathan knew that if he didn’t couch this confrontation appropriately, he could end up in a mass grave somewhere, so he told David a story about two men — one rich and one poor. The poor man had nothing but a lamb that he loved and the rich man took that lamb and ate it at a feast. This tale angered David — who was a righteous man at heart – and he ordered that the rich man had to pay the poor man four times what the lamb had been worth.

“Nathan said to David, “You are that man! This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘I chose you to be king over Israel and I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house,and put your master’s wives into your arms. I also gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well! Why have you shown contempt for the word of the Lord by doing evil in my sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife as your own! You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. So now the sword will never depart from your house. For you have despised me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!’ This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on you from inside your own household! Right before your eyes I will take your wives and hand them over to your companionHe will have sexual relations with your wives in broad daylight! Although you have acted in secret, I will do this thing before all Israel, and in broad daylight.’” (2 Samuel 12:7-12)

David, unlike so many in the churches today, repented immediately and acknowledged his sin, especially that it was against God. Nathan promptly told him of God’s forgiveness for his crimes against God. But it wasn’t over there.  David lost four of his children as a result of his sin with Bathsheba and one of his most trusted captains helped his son lead a rebellion against him.

David was still called a man after God’s own heart, but David sinned and he faced the consequences for his sin. They were grave. They were painful. And, they were public. Even though very few people knew what had transpired between David and Bathsheba, the whole nation watched while Absalom rebelled against his father with help from David’s own men.

And we don’t think God will do the same for the churches?

Are we really that arrogant?

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