Archive for the ‘#sexualimmorality’ Tag

#MeToo with a Proviso   2 comments

I’ve had several friends say I need to post something on Harvey Weinstein and his reprehensible behavior toward women. It’s wrong … wrong … WRONG.

I guess I could just stop there and collect my feminist brownie points, but ….

Contrarian, right?

Image result for image of casting couchI’m a pragmatic feminist. I don’t need to acquire brownie points because I qualify in that I can chop my own wood, change my own tires and not cry about any choices I make in life that my “sisters” disapprove of.

It’s wrong when anyone pushes sexual advances on someone who has told them to stop. It’s wrong to expose your sexual organs to someone who doesn’t want to see them. We all ought to be more cognizant of the right of individuals to not be imposed upon by other individuals. That would affect a whole lot more than sexual harassment, but let’s just stay on topic.

I have experienced sexual harassment in my life. Brad earlier confessed to “pestering” me for a date. I couldn’t care less about that. I don’t have a problem with men in a business relationship complimenting me so long as it is something I could compliment them on. “Nice jacket!” “You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?” That doesn’t bother me in part because I hear men and women compliment the same sex along those lines and nobody objects. How does it suddenly become sexual and harassment when it’s a man saying it to a woman, but it’s almost never considered harassment when a woman says it to a man? If I believe in actual equality of the sexes, then I hold men and women to the same standard.

To me, sexual harassment is the coworker who continually makes sexual advances after you’ve told them you’re not interested. The only time I’ve ever been close to filing charges on a coworker for that it was a lesbian doing the harassing. Male coworkers have always accepted “no” for an answer. Brad didn’t, but he was a customer and when I told him to not bother me during my shift, he waited politely on a bench outside the office until I was off duty. I worked in construction settings for several years and even construction workers – not known for their social graces – understand what it means when a woman says “leave me alone.” Karen, the lesbian, hit on me every time she saw me for four years until she got “asked to resign” (so as not to ruin her career) for hitting on another female staff member who filed charges. But before Karen was asked to resign, that female coworker was fired for complaining.

Why was she treated differently than Karen? The executive director was also a lesbian. You can draw your own conclusions.

I saw that coming along time before Leslie put her head on the chopping block, so instead of filing charges, I informed Karen that I’d been journaling our encounters and someone who grew up during the pipeline construction in Fairbanks Alaska knew how to embarrass someone sexually in public and she’d better back the hell up, take her hand off my shoulder and keep it to herself. I kept my job and mostly managed to avoid Karen for the next couple of years, until she was shown the door for doing the same thing to Leslie. But Karen was allowed to leave with dignity while the woman she harassed was fired, so it was kind of a Pyrrhic victory.

You see, I’m an old hand at sexual harassment – real sexual harassment. When I was in junior high school, the Transalaska Pipeline construction boom overwhelmed Alaska. There were prostitutes in the streets and horny construction workers on every block. The male to female ratio in Fairbanks before the pipeline boom was 2:1. During the pipeline construction it was 4:1. Ordinary women could be crossing a parking lot and a man would offer her hundreds of dollars to scratch his itch. My sister-in-law once negotiated a man up to $600 for 15 minutes, a blowjob only … while my brother was standing beside her laughing hysterically. Then she told the guy that he was a creep and rube and continued on with my brother.

Walking home from school, men would stand on the balcony of a local hotel and shout innuendos and rain coins down on us trying, to convince us to come up to their rooms. They knew we were underage. It didn’t matter to them. While I don’t think it was okay, I don’t think it particularly harmed me to have to say “No, get away from me” to men twice my age. Maybe it helped my self-esteem a little to know I had a value in the hundreds of dollars, even if I never collected because I thought what those men were offering was creepy. I learned a lot from that era of my life that I have brought forward into my adult life. I’ve never had a problem telling a man that I’m not interested and I’ve had very few not believe me. (I never told Brad I wasn’t interested. I told him I was working).

After my pipeline days, I worked as a waitress when I was in college. I saw a lot of sexual harassment there, but not what you might think. Some of the waitresses would harass a bus boy who was way handsome and way shy. They’d grab his buns, they’d say things, they were quite blatant. I never saw the manager or any of the cooks try that nonsense with the waitresses, though.

I’ve heard a lot of flirty talk between men and women in the work place. I don’t engage in flirty talk with men I’m not involved with, so when I hear women doing it, I always think “Do you realize how much that degrades any sort of respect a male coworker might have for you?” When men do it with me … not as much these days since I’m middle-aged … I always just let the lob go unresponded. I’m a very quippy person in my personal life and I love to banter back and forth with people, but never on sexual topics.  Unless it is with Brad. He and I do sometimes do that as a sort of fully-clothed foreplay … when the kids aren’t around and we’re alone.

And, so, not too surprisingly for me, I’ve encountered little sexual harassment. I’ve been able to deflect the advances of men with an honest and gracious “not interested, I’m married and don’t cheat” and stayed friends with male coworkers and lesbians like (Karen excepted). I’m not embarrassed by dirty jokes, but most people who know me know I don’t participate, so they just don’t tell them around me, or if they do, I walk away and I guess they continue on without me.

So, when I read about Weinstein and all these women, I think –

This happened because people allowed it to happen. Sexual harassment in Hollywood is nothing new. The casting room couch was an out-there joke that even got airtime on Johnnie Carson. Weinstein always seemed like a bully to me, which is consistent with what Matt Damon said about him – a bully and a womanizer. Brad will tell you that he knows men from the construction field with the same attitude. Does he automatically assume they’re making the female electricians put out? No, but it could be happening and he wouldn’t know it because he’s there to wire buildings, not to investigate the sexual encounters that might be going on in the job shack.

Same with me. I’ve had bosses that were bullies and a few that were womanizers. If they weren’t hitting on me, I never thought they might be coercing my coworkers into sex. Why? Because I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove my trust to be misapplied.

So, I believe the many Hollywood people who say they didn’t know, but weren’t particularly surprised to find out, that Weinstein’s bullying and alpha male act went that far. I’m guessing, Harvey Weinstein – a heterosexual male — was not hitting on Matt Damon — a heterosexual male. I suspect the women knew more because women gossip among themselves. I also suspect that many of the women coming forward now actually never had more than a passing encounter with Weinstein in which nothing approaching actual sexual harassment happened. They’re merely trying to get attention, like the media whores they are.

It particularly disturbs me that so many people are willing to paint so many men with a broad brush of DEPLORABLE because it’s the “appropriate” time to do so. It seems right now in Hollywood, if you didn’t directly work with Weinstein and help him abuse women, then you had to have known and are therefore guilty anyway, or else you’re just like him, you just haven’t been caught. That’s ridiculous. It is every bit as bad as what Weinstein did.

Breast Feeding from the Male Perspective   Leave a comment

Hi, this is Brad. Lela is rewriting, so she’s letting me play on her blog. Oh my!


I didn’t know this woman. We were just in a class together. When her baby started fussing, she pulled up her t-shirt, exposing both breasts, and started feeding the baby. Every man in the room (and we were half the group) turned bright red and forgot all about learning anything. I watched as men shifted to relieve pressure from certain parts of their anatomy and smelled at least a few deodorants fail.

Is it just me or do women’s breasts make most men a tad uncomfortable?

There’s something about it that just makes my anatomy react.

Image result for image of covered breastfeedingThat’s not a bad thing when it’s my wife’s breasts, but if it’s some other guy’s girl … nope, that’s not a good thing.

The Bible, actually Jesus in the Bible, tells me that if I look at a woman I’m not married to with lust in my heart, I’m guilty of adultery without every touching her or even talking to her.


So, when I see a woman breastfeeding uncovered in public, I don’t think — “Oh, how sweet!” I think “Please cover up, lady. Don’t make me guilty of what I don’t want to be guilty of.”

And, no, it is a visceral, instinct-based reaction that cannot be controlled. I can look away, but I can’t prevent that “oh-mama!” initial reaction because I am a normal male with normal sexual desires and it is written into my DNA that I’m supposed to be turned on by breasts.

Not too long ago, a Virginia woman did what she normally did when her 19-month-old baby was agitated—she breast-fed her. Trouble is, she did it in church, uncovered. Apparently, she now feels her “rights as a mom have been violated” because the church objected. Is there a right to breast-feed? Is there a right to breast-feed in public? Is there a right to breast-feed n a church? Is there a right to breast-feed uncovered?

I say “No” to all of those questions. There is no right to breast-feed … except on your own property — which means there is no right to breast-feed in public.

Image result for image of covered breastfeedingFirst, let’s get something straight. Lela breast-fed our two munchers and she did it in public and in church … but not uncovered.

The Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia, does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers “uncomfortable.” Yeah! The one place you really don’t want to have lustful thoughts for a woman you’re not married to is while sitting in church next to your wife and kids hearing a sermon on how you should flee sexual immorality. When a woman breast-fed her baby in the middle of a church service at Summit Church, she was asked to go to a private room. She declined. She was also told by a woman that the sermon was being live-streamed and that she would not want her to be seen breast-feeding on camera.

Yeah, let’s not tune into the titty show on the religious channel. We ordinarily don’t allow people to expose their private parts in the church service. That doesn’t magically change because you’ve got a baby with you.

The woman then fled the church, “embarrassed and in shock.” The next day, she posted a Facebook video of her breast-feeding her child, telling viewers what happened and “urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.” “Breast-feeding is normal,” she said. “I have breast-fed in a few different countries. I have breast-fed all over the place,” she said. “No one has ever said anything to me.”

Now the woman and her attorney “are pressing church leaders to reverse their policy. and issue a statement of apology. I guess there’s a Virginia that protects a woman’s “right” to breast-feed in public. The bills passed without any opposition whatsoever and the governor signed it into law back in 2005.

Before passage of this statute, Virginia law guaranteed mothers the right to breast-feed on state-owned property or any public place without violating the state’s indecent exposure law. Now, a woman may breastfeed in any place where the mother is lawfully present, including any location where she would otherwise be allowed on property that is owned, leased, or controlled by the Commonwealth in accordance with § 2.2-1147.1.

The church said it “was not aware of the law and would look into it.

A similar incident recently happened in North Carolina. There a judge told a women in his courtroom who was breast-feeding her son:

Ma’am, you need to cover up. For you not to realize that is absolutely ridiculous. Step outside, and cover up right now. Stand up, and go, now.

To nurse the child in the courtroom is just absolutely inappropriate. Now step outside and button up, or whatever you need to do to button up.

Yet, under North Carolina law: “A woman may breast feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast feeding.”

These laws (like most laws) should never have been passed because there is no right to breast-feed.

I think breastfeeding is in the best interests of the baby and mother and here are 101 reasons why. I agree with the woman who breast-fed her daughter in church that breast-feeding is normal.  I am not against breast-feeding. It is a natural activity.

So are urination, defecation and intercourse, but notice that we don’t do those in public and when we do, most people are okay with us being arrested for it. I’m not suggesting breast-feeding moms should be arrested. I’m suggesting they should take the similarity into consideration and cover up.

Because I am a sexually normal male with a moral code, I prefer (as does my 18-year-old son) that I don’t see bare-chested women. This is especially relevant for Kiernan because he doesn’t have the outlet to go have sex with the woman he’s married to. He’s not married and he claims one of his goals in life is to be a virgin when he marries … but that’s not the easiest thing to do in a society where women feel that somehow their sexually alluring private anatomy changes to something innocent when they are nursing a child. I don’t really understand why some women use breast-feeding as a means to expose themselves in public. I grew up in New York City where they used to (do they still?) arrest men for exposing their genitalia is public. It was a big deal then, and it must still be a big deal here in Fairbanks because the police blotter had some guy being arrested for exposing himself in public a few months ago. So why isn’t it a big deal when a woman does it? Because she’s nursing a baby? I don’t buy that because I know from Lela’s experience that you don’t have to uncover and exposure yourself to public view in order to breast-feed in public.

Then there’s the point Lela made about this when we discussed it. A church is private property. Yes. It’s a public venue, but it is owned by the members of the church. They allow the public in as a courtesy, but the property is not in the public domain. No one, including the government, has the authority to tell anyone what they must allow people to do on their privately held property. Restaurants, stores and churches are all private property.

If government can tell you that you must allow women to breast-feed on your property, then what can’t government tell you that you must allow people to do on your property? Should you be forced to allow public fornication in the middle of the church service? How about urinating and defecating? Male and/or female full-body nudity?

So, you see, there is no right to breastfeed. There is a right to do what you want on your own property, which could include breast-feeding. And there is a right to do what you want on someone’s else’s property as long as you have the owner’s permission and are doing it in accordance with whatever rules they’ve placed on the activity. That goes for breast-feeding, swearing, smoking, drinking, and wearing clothing.

Conversely, if you are on someone’s property and you see a woman breast-feeding her child uncovered, you don’t have the option to pressure the government to make her stop breast-feeding anymore than she has the option to pressure the government to grant her a government-regulated privilege to breast-feed.

Please, ladies, breast-feed … but for the sake of propriety and civility toward the people around you … cover up. It’s not that difficult. Most churches offer “cry rooms” where there are speakers so you don’t miss the sermon and women like Lela can show you how to breast-feed under a drape so you don’t have to relocate unnecessarily. Unless we’re going to stop arresting men for flashing women … but I think that’s really not what you want.


This is Lela. Brad wrote this, but I completely agree with it.  I suspect this controversy has arisen because of some women’s insistence that other people can’t tell them what to do even when they’re on the property of those trying to do the telling. Interacting in society means following certain rules. Men don’t pull out their penises in public … and when they do, women call the cops on them. Women should not “flash” men and then try to use their baby as a shield. It is as much sexual assault as when men flash women. Cover up! It’s not that hard and it totally will not injure you or your child. It is among the habits that make up civil conduct within society.

Sex Is Good   Leave a comment

In our sex-obsessed society, it is perhaps a shock that sex is a touchy subject. Equally shocking for some people is that the Bible talks about sex A LOT. Though the Bible handles this subject matter much differently than the secular world, it does have much to say on the subject. I can only think of one reason for matters pertaining to sex to be so frequently discussed in the Bible—sexuality must be very closely related to spirituality.

Now with regard to the issues you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of immoralities, each man should have relations with his own wife and each woman with her own husband. A husband should give to his wife her sexual rightsand likewise a wife to her husband. It is not the wife who has the rights to her own body, but the husband. In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights to his own body, but the wife. Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayerThen resume your relationship, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-controlI say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that everyone was as I am. But each has his own gift from God, one this way, another that.  1 Corinthians 7:1-5

The beliefs and practices of the Corinthian saints seem to vary greatly when it comes to matters of sexual values and conduct. Paul rebuked the liberal extreme for failing to exercise church discipline on a man living in an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife. In chapter 6, Paul confronted those who felt that having sex with a prostitute is not contrary or detrimental to one’s spiritual life. There are those in Corinth whose sexual values are shocking, even to the pagan Corinthians (see 5:1).

Image result for image of christian marital sexOur current text indicates there were some believers who used spirituality as a pretext for sexual immorality, while for others spirituality meant abstaining from sex altogether. By the way, this is where the water hits the wheel with our friend who caused us to start this series. He believes he’s found support in the Bible for his sexual immorality. So far, he has yet to show us convincing evidence of his belief.

In chapter 7, Paul turned his attention to those who seem to regard all sex as dirty, and who therefore advocated celibacy. For those who are single, it means staying single and, unlike today, celibate as well. For those who are married, it seems to mean that these couples should also refrain from sexual relations. I see a touch of gnosticism in this — the idea that the flesh is evil and must never be indulged.

In the matter of sexual conduct, the Corinthians lived in a very troubled world, not unlike our own era. The ancient world of Paul’s day had a very distorted view of women, sex, and marriage. Prostitution was an essential part of Greek life. Demosthenes had laid it down as the common and accepted rule of life: “We have courtesans for the sake of pleasure; we have concubines for the sake of daily cohabitation; we have wives for the purpose of having children legitimately, and having a faithful guardian for all our household affairs.”

The Roman sexual ethic was no better. By Paul’s era, Roman family life was wrecked. Seneca wrote that women were married to be divorced and divorced to be married. In Rome the Romans did not commonly date their years by numbers. Women called them by the names of their husbands. Martial the Roman poet tells of a woman who had ten husbands; Juvenal tells us of one who had had eight husbands in five years; Jerome declares it to be true that in Rome there was a woman who was married to her 23rd husband and she herself was his 21st wife.

One would hope the Jews would be exemplary in matters of sex and marriage, but it wasn’t the case. In Paul’s day Judaism reverenced neither women nor marriage. Josephus wrote, ‘The woman is worse than the man in everything’ (Josephus, Contra Apionem, 2, 201).

In the age of the coming of Christianity, even with Judaism the marriage bond was in peril so great that the institution of marriage was threatened. Jewish girls were refusing to marry at all because the position of the wife was so uncertain. The ancient ritual of “female circumcision” was practiced then too. This (cough) surgical procedure doesn’t benefit the woman at all, but prevents her enjoyment of sex. It seems that in the minds of those men who impose this on women, it is the woman’s place to give pleasure to the man, but never the woman’s place to receive pleasure from the man. While we may not mutilate our women in the United States, many American men expect their wives to give them sexual pleasure at any time, but feel little or no obligation toward fulfilling their wives’ sexual pleasure.

Paul’s words concerning sex and marriage were desperately needed in his day and no less needed in our own day.

From the Book of Proverbs, we know that God designed marriage and sex not only as a means for bringing children into this world, but also as God’s appointed means for a man to find pleasure in his wife:

Drink water from your own cistern, And fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone, And not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, And rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love. Proverbs 5:15-19.

In the New Testament, Jesus attended a wedding and then miraculously provided wine when their supplies were exhausted (John 2:1-11). The Apostle Paul assumed that elders and deacons would be married with children (1 Timothy 3:2, 12). Paul also encouraged younger widows to marry (1 Timothy 5:14). He claimed the right as an apostle to “lead about a wife” (1 Corinthians 9:5). The writer to the Hebrews also held marriage in high esteem, and the proper realm for sexual enjoyment between husband and wife. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

In the Bible, marriage is viewed as the norm, and the single life as the exception. Marriage is viewed as holy, righteous, and good. Those who seek to prohibit marriage as something evil are identified as false teachers by Paul (1 Timothy 4:1-5). Marriage is a good gift from God that many Christians gratefully receive and enjoy.

We know that there was a previous letter from Paul to the Corinthians and it is reasonable to assume that the Corinthians wrote a letter to Paul asking his advice on certain matters. Beginning with the statement, “Now concerning the things about which you wrote…” suggests Paul was answering their questions. In studying for this lesson, I ran across a textual critic who notes that Paul doesn’t say he’s answering a question. He says he is responding to what they wrote. There’s a difference there.

Some people ask questions which are not meant to be enlightening. Many questions are asked in a way which cleverly “teaches” the one who is asked or others who are listening. Some seek to undermine the teaching or authority of the one asked. Remembering the Corinthian factions, it is entirely possible that the Corinthians were asking gotcha questions or it could also be that they wrote him what they thought was true and expected him to agree with them.

Were they, in their enlightened wisdom, attempting to teach Paul? It’s possible. Could they be writing to Paul as their spiritual father and mentor, wanting to hear his wisdom and heed it? I’m inclined to view their communication with Paul with suspicion.

We know from Paul’s words in chapter 5 that when a Corinthian church member was living with his father’s wife and that the church had not exercised church discipline, but instead were proud of their accepting attitude (5:2). Some Corinthians were proud as a result of sin and their response to it. When Paul raised the issue of sex and marriage in chapter 7, he was dealing with the opposite extreme in the church … those who have overreacted to fleshly lusts, seeking to overcome them by asceticism. These folks were just as proud of their asceticism as the others named in chapter 5 were of their fleshly indulgence. Perhaps these ascetics had become so smug they assumed Paul would applaud them. After all, when it came to sexual abstinence and remaining single, Paul stood out among the apostles, and among those in the churches (see 1 Corinthians 9:4-5). They may not have agreed with Paul on many matters, but these ascetics might well have wanted Paul’s endorsement here. Paul’s words in response to their communication probably shocked them.

Before attempting to interpret Paul’s words in verse 1, we must pause to point out that the translation of the NIV is inaccurate. The expression, “not to touch a woman,” is a reference to sexual intercourse, not marriage, and thus the NIV is in error when it translates as it does.

The idiom ‘to touch a woman’ occurs nine times in Greek antiquity, ranging across six centuries and a variety of writers, and in every other instance, without ambiguity it refers to having sexual intercourse. There is no evidence of any kind that it can be extended or watered down to mean, ‘It is good for a man not to marry.’71

The Corinthian ascetics didn’t sanction sexual immorality. Instead, they didn’t sanction sex. They felt sex is dirty, whether within marriage or without. This tells us more about the ascetics than it does about biblical morality: “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15). Having concluded that all sex is evil, these folks followed out the implications of their false doctrine. If all sex is evil, then it is evil to enjoy sex in marriage. Husbands and wives should abstain from sex, unless for the bearing of children … if that. And those who are single should avoid the “temptation to have sex” by avoiding and abstaining from marriage. Paul refused to endorse such a view.

It would have been really easy for Paul to come on strong with these Corinthians, but he was gentle in his rebuke, clearly distinguishing between his personal convictions, his counsel (advice), and his authoritative apostolic commands (see 7:6-7, 40). His approach was to introduce the issue at hand and then gently correct the errors. In later chapters (e.g. 8-10), Paul’s initial gentleness leads to a very clear and forceful conclusion.

The ascetics of the Corinthian church had overreacted to the immorality of their day and city, concluding that all sex is dirty and should be avoided, even within marriage. When Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” I think he is repeating the position held by the Corinthian ascetics. It was another of those slogans introduced in Chapter 6. Paul repeated the statement, not because he agreed with it in its entirety, but because he agreed with it in part. Celibacy has its benefits, but not inside of marriage.

Run!!!   Leave a comment

We live in a sex-obsessed society. If people aren’t thinking about having sex, they’re thinking about how to be attractive enough to attract people who want to have sex with them. Our movies are filled with beautiful, sexy people. Magazine ads sell everything from cars to deodorant based on sexual attraction.

It’s not a new problem. The society in Corinth in the 1st century was also sexually obsessed. Paul’s admonition in the coming passage was not the standard response for the era. In fact, he was quite out of step with the times.

All things are lawful for me — but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me– but I will not be controlled by anything. Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food” — but God will do away with both. The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute is one body with her? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body” – but the immoral person sins against his own bodyOr do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in youwhom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:12-20

The items in quotation marks were popular slogans of Paul’s day, used by the Corinthians to justify their behavior. Paul agrees wit the slogans in part, but corrects them to show how the Corinthians have misused these ideas.

Drawing from my lessons on economics, I’ve learned that short-term pleasure can lead to long-term disaster. This is especially true in the area of sexual immorality. For a few minutes of pleasure, countless men and women will throw their lives away — lose fellowship with God, end up divorced, diseased, or pregnant, and face estrangement from family and friends. There can be psychological and financial losses, damage to your reputation and many other consequences. Most of us assume we’ll be the exception. We won’t get caught. Nobody needs to know. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Rather than tell the Corinthians what bad things might happen, Paul used another approach. He suggested the Corinthians honor God by recognizing their bodies are God’s temple.

Image result for image of fleeing sexual immoralityThere is such a thing as freedom in Christ. I don’t get flung into the fires of hell because I screwed up. Those slogans came from somewhere, most probably from an expression of freedom, but our freedom in Christ is meant for our good and God’s glory. When we step beyond those boundaries, we end up out in a swamp with only a hard way back.

Yes, all things are lawful for the Christian. God’s world is meant to be enjoyed. Everything God created is good, including sex. That’s very, very good! But not everything we can do is good for us. Sex outside of marriage is unprofitable and can lead to being mastered. Christians are to refuse to be mastered by their bodies. Enjoy the world, but don’t press your freedom so far that you do damage to yourself. Immorality breaks marriages and shatters homes. We are free to do it, but sin still has serious consequences. Will what I want to do help my relationship with God or hurt it? Will it damage someone else? Will it affect the church’s testimony?

Freedom does not mean the absence of constraints or moral absolutes. I live in Alaska where I am free to walk out into the woods whenever I wish, but if I do it without bear protection, I stand a good chance of ending up a bear’s dinner. I am constrained by my need of self-protection to carry a gun so that I can enjoy the beauty of nature. God’s moral laws act the same way: they restrain, but they are absolutely necessary to enjoy the exhilaration of real freedom.

Paul argued that sexual immorality is an offense against God the Father (v 13-14), Jesus Christ (v 15-1) and the Holy Spirit (v 18-20).

“Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them.” This sentence isn’t about food, but about sexual immorality. Paul emphasized the subject to show how God values the human body. Both the stomach and the food are temporal. Later, in Chapter 15, we’ll learn that God will raise our bodies from the dead. Our bodies are precious to Him. Why?

This passage sees the return of Paul’s “do you not know” questions. Paul also used the word “members” several times. And this gets to why our bodies are precious to God and why what we do with our bodies matters to Him a great deal.

The moment we believed in Jesus Christ we were grafted into His body. We are now members of Christ. So, just like we wouldn’t want to stick our physical hand in a food processor, God doesn’t want us to misuse parts of His body. It was therefore unthinkable to Paul that Christians would ever be sexually immoral, because what we do to our bodies we also do to God.

Now, I’ve heard it argued that Paul was preaching against prostitution because of the lack of love and commitment. He’d be okay with the sexual relationship between two people who love one another. Yeah, there’s a moral distinction between sleeping with a prostitute and a passionate interlude with a steady date.

Sin remains sin.

Armed robbery is a much more violent form of theft than shoplifting, but that doesn’t mean shoplifting is okay. Corinth had a big prostitute trade, so Paul addressed it, but the Greek word used for “immorality (porneia) deals with all kinds of sexual immorality. And, Paul had just listed some of them a few sentences before.

The word “joins” or “unites” (NIV) is used in each of these verses. The Greek word was used for gluing. An immoral man glues himself to an immoral woman. A believer, on the other hand, should glue himself to the Lord. Why do you think the word “glue” is used of sexual relationships? After all, aren’t many sex acts purely physical, without any real personal involvement? No. Paul says it is impossible to have a physical-only sexual relationship. There is no such thing as casual sex, inconsequential sex, or recreational sex. I’ve met psychologists who will admit that the sexual act is such an intimate act that it involves and affects the whole person. Paul quoted from the Old Testament to prove his point. In Genesis 2:24, God says of the sexual act, “the two will become one flesh or one personality.” We error when we dismiss sex as inconsequential. If you’re a Christian, your body is God’s body. When you have a sexual relationship with someone who is not your spouse, you glue yourself to another instead of God.

The last three verses provide tremendous encouragement about the resources God has given us to live a sexually pure life. It starts with the powerful admonition to “Flee sexual immorality!” It is a present imperative and should be translated, “Keep on fleeing” or “Make it your habit to flee!” The Bible’s advice for avoiding sexual immorality is simple: stay as far away as possible from the persons and places and things likely to get you in trouble. Real men and women run! They don’t stick in and fight.

In 6:18, Paul put sexual sin in a category all its own. All the sins in the world are put in one column and sexual sin is put in another. All sins are outside the body except sexual infidelity, which alone is a sin against one’s own body. There is no gradation of sin. Sin is just sin, but sexual sin is unique in its character. Like a malignant cancer to the body, immorality internally destroys the soul like no other sin. This is why we must flee from it. If we allow ourselves to succumb to immorality, we will be guilty of destroying our own body and the bodies of other partners, but more — we damage the temple of God.

Paul finished the passage with the crux of his argument. “Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?”

In 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, the local church is called the “temple.” Here, the same Greek word (naos) is used of the individual Christian. The term used in both passages for “temple” is not the word for a pagan temple, or even for the Jewish temple structure and grounds. It refers to the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place for the people of God in the Old Testament. Paul was saying that God Himself is resident within us. Your body is His mailing address. He dwells in YOU!

The New Testament never calls a church building a Holy of Holies, but it designates the believer’s body as such. Does that change your perspective on the subject, Christian? Few of us would consider committing an act of sexual immorality in a church chapel, but some of us frequently commit sexual immorality with God’s temple.

The good news is that we have the Holy Spirit. He lives inside of us, ready to help us in our battle against sin. One of the words for Holy Spirit in the New Testament is parakaleo, which means “counselor” or “helper.” We have been given a divine resource in the battle against the flesh which includes sexual sin. We don’t have to be in bondage, because we have the power of the Spirit of God within us to supernaturally help us resist temptation. It is possible to live a life of sexual purity, especially as we rely on the Holy Spirit Who gives us strength to abstain from our fleshly lusts.

Finally, we have been bought with a price. We know longer belong to ourselves. In a sense we never did. Paul’s image does not picture a slave being sold to a god and then set free, but being transferred by sale from one owner to another. Formerly, we were slaves of sin, now we are slaves to God (Romans 6:16-23; 7:6).Your body belongs to God, Christian. So we have no right to pervert or misuse our bodies sexually, because they don’t belong to us to do with what we will. We’re not the masters of our bodies. Verse 20 teaches that we have been purchased by God at the cost of the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for us. That blood has cleansed us from sin. In light of this great purchase price, Paul commanded us to glorify God through sexual purity, out of gratitude for what Jesus did. This means to show God off, to make Him look good.

We have the privilege of living lives that honor God physically, emotionally, and relationally. Being sexually pure affects our relationships with each other, but ultimately it’s about our relationship with God. He is the only one to whom we owe adoration and ultimate obedience. This is an amazing reality—God can be glorified in the choices we make in expressing our sexuality. The Lord is honored when we resist sexual temptation. God is glorified when we express our sexuality through the marriage relationship.

Yeah, we live in a sexually saturated society in the 21st century. It’s not unlike 1st century Corinth. Paul didn’t lower the bar for them and God has not lowered the bar for us.

So what if you’ve already blown it? I’m not surprised. We live in a sexually saturated society. A message like this can make you feel guilty that you’ve already violated God’s word, which is no doubt why people try to reject teaching like this. The Bible is filled with people who made mistakes and wandered in the wilderness for a while before coming back to God. Confess your sin and God is willing and able to forgive it. You must confess to God because sin against God is so much greater than the sin against anyone else that the other victims pale into insignificance. The question of confession to others besides God is a difficult one. From a 12-Step perspective, it’s always good to confess your wrongs and offer to make amends. Just remember, there is temptation in that direction, so you might want to make your apology in writing.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Choose this day who you will follow and get on with it. Sexual sin is cumulative in its damaging effects, kind of like carbon monoxide. It stays in a person’s system for a long time, with the result that a non-lethal dose can sometimes kill because of the accumulation of poison in the system. A second act of immorality is not a freebee—it compounds the sin of the first one, spreads the cancer a little further, and eats away at a little more of one’s personality and spirit. The only way to deal with such sin is to end it immediately, radically, permanently, and in complete dependence upon God. Covenant with God that you will never let it happen again. Ask Him to give you strength. Become accountable to someone.

In recent years there has been a movement among Christian young adults called “secondary virginity.” It’s been a way to encourage those who have already sinned sexually at a young age to establish a new marker and commit to abstinence from now until marriage. Some in the liberal press have made fun of this effort, but I applaud the young people who have committed to starting over.

A word to those of us who have no fallen, but know those who have. Be willing to forgive them. Remember, God has forgiven you too, of other things. Was the sin in the life of your spouse, child, close friend any worse than the sin you have committed? God forgave YOU. Forgiveness is not just a feeling; it is a decision to do what God does for you every day!

Yeah, we know it’s not easy. We’ve been there ourselves.

Love the Sinner & Purge the Leaven   Leave a comment

In the first four chapters of 1 Corinthians, Paul introduced a shameful problem in the church whereby the Corinthians had proudly attached themselves to certain leaders whose teaching seems to disclose a “wisdom” not known or taught by other teachers, and certainly not by Paul or his fellow-apostles. These cliques and factions were undermining the unity of the church and were a denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Image result for image of leavenPaul then turned his attention to other problems plaguing the church at Corinth. Both are pertinent to our own time.

Before we did into the Scripture, it should be noted that Chapter 5 is not primarily about the immorality of one church member. It’s more about the pride and passivity of the entire church in response to that sinner. Chapters 5-6 are all part of one discussion that should be read together. Unfortunately, that would be a huge blog post, so I’ll have to trust you to do it yourself. Chapter 5 introduces the matter of immorality and the obligation of the church to exercise discipline. Chapter 6 takes up the issue of Christians taking each other to law courts (verses 1-11), and then concludes with Paul’s teaching on immorality. Yeah, Paul viewed sexual immorality and lawsuits as similar.

It 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 5:1

Paul had heard about this in Ephesus, which was many weeks’ travel away from Corinth. He expressed shock and dismay and hints that he may have heard about this from Gentile non-Christians. Paul was shocked that immorality was taking place in the church, and that it was such common knowledge that no one doubted it.

Scholars suggest this wasn’t the only immorality occurring in the church at Corinth. Paul dealt with the most egregious examples. On the subject of sexual immorality, Paul focuses on the specific instance of a son who was having sex with his father’s wife. This wasn’t a one night fling. The sin was still going on as Paul put pen to parchment. We don’t know if the father was still alive or if the woman was a professing Christian. Paul didn’t instruct the church to disfellowship the woman. His instructions are specifically for the man who was living immorally with his father’s wife, which would have certainly been forbidden by the apostles on Scriptural grounds (see Leviticus 18:8; Deuteronomy 22:30; 27:20, Acts 15:20, 29; 21:25). It was apparently considered taboo by the pagan Corinthians.

And you are proud! Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you? 1 Corinthians 5:2

Paul could no doubt have dealt with other cases of immorality that were acceptable to the Gentiles. While Paul was distressed by the actual sin of this one man, he was more disturbed by the sinful response of the church.

LISTEN CAREFULLY, modern church. Paul is talking to us!

Paul told the Corinthians that they had become proud (or arrogant) and were virtually doing nothing to correct this matter. Paul had already addressed their arrogance in the first four chapters of the letter. Now he draws a parallel with this case of immorality.

The Corinthians actually appear to be proud of this man’s sin. Remember that in the pagan religions of Corinth, immorality was practiced as a part of their heathen religious ceremonies. The Corinthians could have redefined the apostolic rules so that this sinful act was looked upon as enlightened Christianity. If you’re tempted to think this suggestion is groundless, I encourage you to read about the false teachers in 2 Peter and Jude and then take a look at some modern-day teachings on sexual immorality in the churches.

If they didn’t condone his sin, the Corinthians might have been proud of the “open and accepting way” in which they were dealing with his sin. Yeah, hello, 21st Century churches! In this therapeutic age when the church is often looked upon more as a “support group” than a “holy temple,” church members refuse to discipline members and continue to embrace sinning saints, even when it is clear they have no intention of repenting of their sins, and even when they publicly persist in their sinful ways.

Let’s face it – the Corinthians were proud and arrogant already. The sin within the church and their response to it were just symptoms. They took pride in their leaders, in their message, and in their methods. They took pride in their “wisdom,” a worldly sort that looked down on the simple message of Christ crucified and the apostles who proclaimed it. These Christians were so proud of themselves that they would not or could not acknowledge or act upon sins within the church that were public and undeniable. Their pride was the result of turning from the truth. Pride keeps one from seeing the truth. The Corinthians maintained an attitude of pride in situations that should have produced mourning.

Pride kept the church from expelling the wayward and willful saint rather than mourning what was taking place in the church and disfellowshipping this immoral man for his own spiritual good.

For even though I am absent physicallyI am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were presentWhen you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit,  along with the power of our Lord Jesus, turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 5:3-5

Paul actually could have ignored this situation. He was a long way away and he could have pretended not to know, but he refused to do that. Paul might have been physically absent, but he was never spiritually absent. This was true not only of the Corinthian church, but of the other churches (see Colossians 2:5). Paul’s references to his prayers (see Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:17; Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3, etc.) and his personal knowledge of people in churches where he had never yet visited (e.g. Romans 16) are indicative of his spiritual presence beyond his physical local church. Many of the Corinthians were Paul’s spiritual children (see 4:14-16). He not only wrote to them, but he made every effort to obtain reports of how they were coming along. When word of problems in Corinth reached Paul, he didn’t allow his absence to keep him from doing the right thing. He was with these saints in spirit and so, while the Corinthians had not yet done anything to correct the situation, Paul informed them that he had taken action. He had already acted as though he were present. He had done what he would do if he were present and instructed to the Corinthians to carry out the kind of discipline Scriptures requires. (see Matthew 18:15-20; also Galatians 6:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15; Titus 3:10-11).

If your brother sinsgo and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brotherBut if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be establishedIf he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector. 

I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. Again, I tell you the truth, if two of you on earth agree about whatever you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are assembled in my name, I am there among them. Matthew 18:15-20

That’s Jesus talking to His disciples, some of whom became the apostles. Jesus commanded the apostles to instruct the churches, so that church discipline would be an on-going practice throughout the history of the church. More than any other text, Matthew 18 spells out the process of discipline. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 5 closely parallel those of Jesus.

Church disciple in a process. Paul speaks of the final step in 1 Corinthians 5, referring to the full process spelled out in Matthew 18. Private rebuke one on one, followed by an elder confrontation, followed by the collective disfellowshipping from the congregation by the whole church. The reason Paul dealt only with the last step of this process in 1 Corinthians 5 is that the willful rebellion of the sinner was evident, and his sin had already become public knowledge. Discipline must be as public as the sin.

Church discipline is the obligation of the whole church. Paul wrote that he discipline process should take place “when you gather together.” Jesus instructed that, if the wayward individual did not repent following a private confrontation, the matter was to be told “to the church” (Matthew 18:17).  In the case of the immoral man in the church at Corinth, the matter had already become a matter of public knowledge. Jesus promises His special presence when such a gathering is assembled for discipline:

Church discipline involves the entire local church and its implications are church-wide. Paul called for the whole Corinthian church to be involved. Think about that. The Corinthian church was already divided into various factions that seemed unable to work together on anything. Church discipline should be exercised in unity. What an impossible task in a church that lacks unity, but Paul required the whole church to participate in this act of discipline. A elder of our long-time church suggested it was a “team building” exercise.

Paul strongly implied that church discipline should be exercised by all the churches. In our day of great mobility, we have many churches to attend. Someone who is under discipline usually finds it easy to simply attend elsewhere. I’m sure it would be scandalous to suggest that matters of discipline need to be communicated to other churches and that those other churches have an obligation to honor that act of discipline if the wayward party attempts to “move his membership” to that church. We might consider it rude, but it is Biblical that newcomers to any church should be interviewed to be certain that they are not under discipline elsewhere. Why? Because appropriately applied discipline is for the disciplined person’s own spiritual good.

Church discipline should be done in the name and power of the Lord. The church acts on behalf of God in carrying out discipline. The Lord’s presence is promised in discipline. The church acts on God’s behalf, and thus when we act, God acts as well (see Matthew 18:18-19).

Church discipline delivers the sinner into the power of Satan. Church discipline expels the wayward and unrepentant Christian from the church, from participating in its worship, and from fellowship with individuals or small groups of believers. In so doing, the sinning saint not only loses the positive benefits of being a part of the church body, but is placed in the very dangerous position of being vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. In Paul’s words, the one who is disciplined is “delivered to Satan” (see also 1 Timothy 1:20). Satan is a destroyer( see 1 Peter 5:8). When the church expels a wayward member, that person is given over to Satan, knowing that he delights in destruction. It is not a pretty picture and churches should not take it lightly. When we deliver a brother or sister over to Satan, we are simply giving the unrepentant Christian what he or she has chosen. To remain in sin is to be in the bondage of Satan (2 Timothy 2:24-26). To be disciplined is simply to hand that Christian over fully to Satan. Discipline confirms a choice the sinner has already made.

While Satan has the power to destroy the flesh, he doesn’t have the authority to destroy the spirit. Satan was given the authority to attack Job, but this authority had boundaries. Given God’s permission, Satan could do so much to Job and no more (see Job 1:12; 2:6). Satan does not have the power to spiritually destroy someone who is saved by the blood of Jesus Christ (see John 10:27-29; Romans 8:31-39; Matthew 10:28; Revelations 11:18).

It’s important to understand that church discipline is only for those who are Christians or profess to be Christians. Paul made it very clear in verses 12 and 13 that church discipline is for those who are inside the church, and not for those who are outside. The Lord makes the same point in Matthew 18:15, where He begins, “If your brother sins. …” The final outcome of church discipline is that a believer who willfully remains in sin is treated as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer (18:17). Association with the believer under discipline is to be terminated, but he is still to be regarded as a brother, and not as an enemy (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15).

Church discipline is not a final judgment that condemns a Christian to eternal hell. The goal is the sinning Christian’s repentance. Church discipline is to be exercised for the highest good of the sinning saint. Consequently, Paul made it very clear that “turning one over to Satan” in church discipline is not a final act of condemnation, but an action taken with a view to the wayward saint’s repentance from sin in this life. Discipline is as painful for those who must exercise it as for the one disciplined. It is an act of mercy that seeks the highest good of the wayward Christian. It is something Brad has had to endure and many of the insights in this series come from him.

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast  affects the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough – you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 1 Corinthians 5:6-7

Paul wanted to be absolutely clear that the arrogance of the Corinthians was not good. Why not? Because it was destructive. We know deep down that it is harmful to the man living in sin. Paul showed us how destructive failing to deal with sin is to the church.

Paul turned his readers to imagery of leaven. If you’re unfamiliar with old-style baking, you keep a “mother loaf” of dough separate from the day’s break. You cut off some of that mother and use this tiny bit to change whole dough into something other that flour and water and oil. The sinner whom the Corinthians embraced and failed to put out of the church is likened to a little leaven placed in a lump of dough. If left there for long, it changes the whole batch of dough. If this sinner is allowed to remain in the fellowship of the saints at Corinth, he will contaminate the entire church. By removing this man from their midst, the church at Corinth not only seeks the sinner’s restoration, they also promote their own purity.

Paul fine tuned this leaven and loaf analogy, turning to a specific celebration in the Old Testament. Although his audience were Gentiles, they’d come to faith through the teachings of a Jewish rabbi. Paul reminded his readers of the feast of unleavened bread, which was to begin immediately after the Passover lamb was sacrificed:

So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:8

After the Passover was celebrated, the Feast of Unleavened Bread commenced. The Israelites were to go throughout their dwellings, seeking to find any leaven and remove it. They were to eat unleavened bread because leaven is a symbol of sin, and the Passover lamb was a prophetic foreshadowing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul called Him “Christ our Passover” (verse 7) and reminds us that He has been sacrificed. If Christ is our Passover and He has been sacrificed, what is to follow. In keeping with the Old Testament prototype, the leaven is to be removed Since Christ has been sacrificed, we are not to harbor sin in our lives, but to seek to identify sin and remove it. The Lord’s Supper is the Christian equivalent of the Passover Feast and acts as a reminder of what should follow the sacrifice of the Lamb—cleansing in the camp! The leaven in the Corinthian church (the camp) was this sinner. He must be removed. What better time and place was there than in the meeting of the church, where the Lord’s Table is celebrated?

Paul was not content to allow us to think that Christ’s atoning death, celebrated at the Lord’s Table, should only be applied to this man and his expulsion from the church. In verse 8, Paul broadened the application, indicating other forms of “leaven” which were all too evident in the church. The “old leaven” (this sinner who needed to be expelled) and the “new leaven” of malice and wickedness, must be put away. Malice and wickedness refers to that whole spectrum of “sacred sins” which are harbored and even nurtured in the church. They must go, and in their place there should be the “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (verse 8). Christians, individually and collectively, are to put off the hypocrisy and the false wisdom we have embraced and return to purity of motivation and of doctrine.

This blog post is getting too long, so I’m going to stop here and pick up next week. I suggest, however that you return to this lesson because really, next week’s lesson and this one are a whole.

Make the Bouquet… Or Else! | Roger Pilon   1 comment

Image result for image of a wedding bouquetTo see how little is left of one of our most important rights, the freedom of association, look no further than to today’s unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court upholding a lower court’s ruling that florist Baronelle Stutzman was guilty of violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) when she declined, on religious grounds, to provide floral arrangements for one of her regular customer’s same-sex wedding. The lower court had found Stutzman personally liable and had awarded the plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief, actual monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs.

This breathtaking part of the Supreme Court’s conclusion is worth quoting in full:

We also hold that the WLAD may be enforced against Stutzman because it does not infringe any constitutional protection. As applied in this case, the WLAD does not compel speech or association. And assuming that it substantially burdens Stutzman’s religious free exercise, the WLAD does not violate her right to religious free exercise under either the First Amendment or article I, section 11 because it is a neutral, generally applicable law that serves our state government’s compelling interest in eradicating discrimination in public accommodations.

We have here yet another striking example of how modern state statutory anti-discrimination law has come to trump a host of federal constitutional rights, including speech, association, and religious free exercise. It’s not too much to say that the Constitution’s Faustian accommodation of slavery is today consuming the Constitution itself.

Such is the wrath of the crowd that wants our every act to be circumscribed by law—their law, of course.

Consider simply the freedom of association right. That liberty in a free society ensures the right of private parties to associate, as against third parties, and the right not to associate as well—that is, the right to discriminate for any reason, good or bad, or no reason at all. The exceptions at common law were for monopolies and common carriers. And if you held your business as “open to the public” you generally had to honor that, though you still could negotiate over services.

Slavery, of course, was a flat-out violation of freedom of association—indeed, it was the very essence of forced association. But Jim Crow was little better since it amounted to forced dis-association.  It was finally ended, legally, by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But that Act prohibited not simply public but private discrimination as well in a range of contexts and on a range of grounds, both of which have expanded over the years. The prohibition of private discrimination may have been helpful in breaking the back of institutionalized racism in the South, but its legacy has brought us to today’s decision, where florists, bakers, caterers, and even religious organizations can be forced to participate in events that offend their religious beliefs.

Court’s haven’t yet compelled pastors to officiate at ceremonies that are inconsistent with their beliefs, but we have heard calls for eliminating the tax-exempt status of their institutions. Such is the wrath of the crowd that wants our every act to be circumscribed by law—their law, of course. And they’re prepared, as here, to force their association on unwilling parties even when there are plenty of other businesses anxious to serve them. As I concluded a Wall Street Journal piece on this subject a while ago:

No one enjoys the sting of discrimination or rejection. But neither does anyone like to be forced into uncomfortable situations, especially those that offend deeply held religious beliefs. In the end, who here is forcing whom? A society that cannot tolerate differing views—and respect the live-and-let-live principle—will not long be free.


A version of this article was first published by The Cato Institute.

Source: Make the Bouquet… Or Else! | Roger Pilon


There are larger questions here than can be considered in a single blog post, though the author touches on it. How long before pastors are compelled to officiate at same-sex ceremonies in violation of the clear commands of the Bible the pastor claims to believe? Can a doctor be forced to provide an abortion when he is morally opposed to abortion? Must Muslim restaurants sell pork and alcohol … and why would this exemption be any different than baking a wedding cake or making a floral arrangement for a same-sex couple? Lela

Bakers Accused of Hate Get Emotional Day in Court | Kelsey Harkness   1 comment

The ongoing battle between gay rights and religious liberty escalated Thursday as husband-and-wife bakers in Oregon appealed their case after being ordered to pay $135,000 in damages for declining to make a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Image result for image of a wedding cakeEvery time we tried to make a constitutional argument it was stomped on, because it was administrative law.

“Everything up to this point has been administrative hearings,” Aaron Klein, co-owner with his wife Melissa of the since-closed bakery, told The Daily Signal afterward.

“Every time we tried to make a constitutional argument it was stomped on, because it was administrative law,” he said. “But now we’re finally in a courtroom where the Constitution and due process can be argued on a level we haven’t seen before. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome.”

In court, an attorney for the Kleins again argued that designing and baking a cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage would violate the bakers’ Christian faith.

Both the Kleins and the same-sex couple who filed the original complaint against them were present inside the courtroom.

Afterward, while speaking to reporters, Melissa Klein had an emotional response.

“We lost everything,” she said. “I loved my shop, and losing it has been so hard for me and my family.”

In an exclusive telephone interview with The Daily Signal later, she added:

“That was a part of our life, and it was something that we thought was going to be passed down to our kids. It’s something that I miss every day still. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get over it because it was our second home.”

A three-judge panel of the Oregon Court of Appeals heard oral arguments from both sides, with questions focused on issues such as:

  • Does Oregon have a “compelling reason” to grant the Kleins a religious exemption from the state’s antidiscrimination law?
  • Does a cake count as artistic expression protected by the First Amendment, and how do you differentiate between what constitutes art and what doesn’t?
  • What was the particular message involved in designing and making a cake for a same-sex wedding, and how is it understood by an observer?
  • To what extent may an artist be compelled to do something?

The Kleins used to run Sweet Cakes by Melissa, a family bakery they owned and operated in Gresham, Oregon. But after the Kleins declined in 2013 to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding, citing their religious beliefs, they faced protests that eventually led them to shut down their bakery.

In July 2015, an administrative judge for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the Kleins had discriminated against a lesbian couple, Rachel and Laurel Bowman-Cryer, on the basis of their sexual orientation. The judge ordered the Kleins to pay the $135,000 for physical, emotional, and mental damages.

Under Oregon law, it is illegal for businesses to refuse service based on a customer’s sexual orientation, as well as race, gender, and other characteristics.

The Kleins maintained that they did not discriminate, but only declined to make the cake because of their religious beliefs about marriage. Designing and baking a custom cake for a same-sex wedding, they said, would violate their Christian faith.

The Kleins appealed to the Oregon Court of Appeals on the basis of their constitutional rights to religious freedom, free speech, and due process.

The three appeals judges also pursued these lines of questioning:

  • Was the award of damages—the $135,000 the Kleins were ordered to pay—out of line with other cases before the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries?
  • Was it reasonable for that state agency to extend the damages through more than two years after the alleged discrimination actually occurred?
  • Did Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian prejudge the case and in doing so strip the Kleins of their right to due process?
  • How is sexual orientation different from race as a personal characteristic?

Each side had equal time to make their case and the Kleins, as plaintiffs, got an additional five minutes for a rebuttal. The oral arguments were live-streamed, and may be watched in full here.

“The government should never force someone to violate their conscience or their beliefs,” Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute, a religious freedom group that represents the Kleins, said in a press statement, adding:

The administrative judge who issued the final ruling also is employed by the state agency.

“In a diverse and pluralistic society, people of good will should be able to peacefully coexist with different beliefs. We hope the court will uphold the Kleins’ rights to free speech and religious liberty.”

But Charlie Burr, a spokesman for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, whose lawyers represent the Bowman-Cryers,  said:

“The facts of this case clearly demonstrate that the Kleins unlawfully discriminated against a same-sex couple when they refused service based on sexual orientation.”

Since the case began in 2013, the Kleins have argued the cards were stacked against them.

Lawyers for the Bureau of Labor and Industries pursued the charges against the Kleins on behalf of the lesbian couple, who went on to marry.

Avakian, the agency official, made multiple public comments criticizing them before any rulings, the Kleins said.

The administrative judge who issued the final ruling also is employed by the state agency.

Besides ordering the Kleins to pay $135,000, Avakian ordered the former bakery owners to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs.

Both parties have said the case has taken a heavy toll on their families. Aaron and Melissa Klein, who have five children, say they continue to face hurtful attacks from liberal activists.

According to an article the Bowman-Cryers wrote for The Advocate, a publication focused on LGBT issues, they are foster parents for two “high-needs” girls.

“Part of the reason we decided to get married in the first place was to provide stability for our daughters,” they wrote, adding:

Before we became engaged, we became foster parents for two very high-needs girls after their mother, a close friend of ours, died suddenly. Lizzy, now 9, has cerebral palsy, autism, and a chromosomal disorder that causes developmental delays. Anastasia, now 7, has Asperger’s and stopped speaking when her mother died.

While the case wound its way through the courts, we won full adoptive custody of Lizzy and Anastasia, and they are the light of our lives.

The appeals judges are not expected to rule for several months. If they rule against the Kleins, the couple’s next step would be appealing to the Oregon Supreme Court.

Republished from the Daily Signal.

Source: Bakers Accused of Hate Get Emotional Day in Court | Kelsey Harkness


I would point out that even if the Kleins win their case in court, they have still lost as this has taken their businesses and more of less bankrupted them. I would also point out because the article does — this lesbian couple were repeat customers. Melissa Klein had served them before when the service was not a wedding cake. Lela

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