"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

"Though He Is Dead, Yet He Speaks:" Phillip Channing's Message of Encouragement to Jonathan Merritt

Rachelle and I have spent the last several days doing mission work in all five burroughs of New York City. Gotham has long been a favorite destination for us for historical, cultural and missional reasons. Our NYC friends include a long-time coach with the New York Giants, a Manhattan Seminary President, and one of the greatest urban missionaries of our time. Through these connections, we were able to spend time in Brownsville, Queens with the disconsolate poor as they sought free legal advice from Graffitti 3. We enjoyed an evening discussing New York history with the Upper West Side cultural elite as we mingled during a reception at the New York Historical Society. We were introduced to many people at Columbia University, Union Seminary, Riverside Church and the World Council of Churches and saw first-hand what happens when Christ's atoning death and physical resurrection are relegated to myth or fable (stories to come). We spent an afternoon with our mission team from Emmanuel in Harlem, walking among the West Africans and their trade tables as we sought to financially and spiritually help those African men who are supporting their families a continent away. Through these experiences and dozens more like them this past week, it was reinforced in my wife and me, once again, that the human condition is universal. C.S. Lewis describes it as "a God-shaped hole."  God is gone from the lives of many New Yorkers--and just as the world is drawn to this city of over eight million inhabitants, our hearts are drawn toward the people of New York.

The evangelists in the subways who shouted condemnation to passerbys in the name of Jesus Christ did nothing to fill the God-shaped hole of those who walked by. They caused us to cringe. I am quite certain that nobody has ever been drawn toward God by strangers screaming "Repent." The ancient prophets spoke of impending judgment with tears in their eyes and love in their hearts; a much superior presentation of the gospel than the fraudulent New York subway prophets who proudly bear the name Christian but are sadly dispossessed of Christ. Beavers have incisors on their bottom jaw that never cease growing, and if for some reason those teeth are knocked out of alignment, the incisors will grow into the roof of the mouth and eventually pierce the brain, causing a tortuous death. Those subway "evangelists" have gotten themselves out of alignment on the love and justice of God toward sinners and seem to me to be morally long-in-the-tooth and spiritually dead. It is infinitely wiser to follow biblical principles and seek to lead sinners to faith in Christ and repentance of sin through deeds and words of unconditional love and immeasurable kindness. This past week has again proven that this style of evangelism actually works.

The Roosevelt Island Revelation

Across from the United Nations, situated in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, sits Roosevelt Island. The New York Insane Asylum used to be housed on this island (1800's), and I could tell you a half-dozen captivating stories of courageous people who found themselves labeled by society and institutionalized at Roosevelt, only later to leave the asylum and change for the better the city and culture that originally sent them away. There is a little crazy in all of us, but the difference between those who live life isolated from the world and those who wind up changing the world becomes the courage of conviction. People of courageous conviction, no matter the persecution, are able to change their world.

Rachelle and I were sitting on a park bench in Roosevelt on Friday morning when I received a text from Bob Cleveland. He mentioned Jonathan Merritt in his message, and I was not sure to what he was referring. I intentionally left my computer in Enid for the week and had been out of touch with all that was happening. It was while we were on Roosevelt Island that I accessed the Internet, via my phone, for the first time in several days. I googled "Jonathan Merritt" and knew instantly that Jonathan might desire a program that erases one's Internet identity more than Catwoman (Dark Knight Rising fans will understand). The publicity of Jonathan's same-sex sexual liason is enormous. It was troubling for me to read many of the articles because my thoughts were on the Merritts and the embarrassment and pain being experienced by Jonathan and his family in having secret sins being made public (without consent) via the Internet. What Jonathan did was immoral, not illegal. Rather than rehashing the events of this past week, it might be best to read Ed Stetzer's blog on Jonathan Merritt's confession of his immoral homosexual liason.

The homosexual activists have gone ballistic over Jonathan's words in Stetzer's interview. One even called Jonathan a douche. Why are the homosexual activists angry? Because Jonathan called his sexual activity with another man "sin." Catch that? Jonathan had the courage of conviction to call his sexual activity outside of marriage "sin." Good for Jonathan. Sin is precisely why we need a Savior. I am not surprised by Jonathan's same-sex sexual desires. Nor am I discouraged by Jonathan's moral failure--in fact, I am attempting to reach him to come speak at Emmanuel. Jonathan may better understand the gospel than many other Southern Baptists. The gospel is for sinners. Christ loves sinners. God forgives sinners. The good news is for sinners. There is no gospel, there is no grace, there is no Savior, there is no cleansing, there is no forgiveness, there is no redemption, there is no restoration, and there is no salvation where there is no sin. After a few hours of digesting all the news and interviews related to Jonathan Merritt this past week, I came to the following conclusion: Jonathan Merritt may very well become the Southern Baptist person most able to influence the next generation toward genuine faith in Christ and real repentance of sin.

The Courage of Conviction

Riverside Church, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, is the church built by John D. Rockefeller. The church's theology is progressive and liberal. The authority of Scripture is disdained, and church leadership is open to gays and lesbians. Riverside, like many liberal churches, have determined that same-sex sexual activity is not sin. Union Theological Seminary, next door to Riverside, would argue the same thing. So would the World Council of Churches across the street. Homosexuality is not immoral. It is normal. It is of God. It is natural. It is lovely. It is good.

However, on May 5, 1985, Dr. Channing Phillips, the African-American Executive Pastor of Riverside Church, preached a Sunday morning message entitled "On Human Sexuality." Dr. Phillips took as his text the woman caught in adultery and spoke to all issues regarding human sexuality. When it came time to address homosexual behavior, Dr. Phillips stated that there was "good news and bad news" regarding same-sex sexual activity. The bad news, he said, was that homosexuality was sin and was contrary to the parable of human sexuality given in Genesis that man should cleave to a woman. Then, Dr. Phillips expounded on why all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is sin. The following words, a direct quote from the sermon, are stunningly courageous and truthful (emphasis mine).
"The point is that the gospel does meddle with our lives! If we take Jesus' words seriously, not just that adultery is sin, or that lust is adultery; the point is that as far as the biblical understanding of human sexuality is concerned, any and all deviation from the parable given in Genesis and referenced by Jesus, whether within heterosexual or homosexual relationships, is sin, is contrary to the will of God. And no theological or exegetical sleight of hand can erase that "word of the Lord."
The good news, Phillips continued, was that God forgives, just as Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery. Yet, though Jesus accepted the woman personally, there was no affirmation of her adulterous and immoral behavior, for Phillips rightly pointed out that "after saying 'neither do I condemn thee,' (Jesus) goes back to the inescapable parable from Genesis, and says to each of us, whatever our sexual orientation, 'Go and sin no more.'

This, dear readers, is from the progressive pastor of the liberal Riverside Church in Manhattan.

Who is Dr. Phillips Channing? You may not know that he was the first black man ever to be officially nominated at a Democratic National Convention to be President of the United States. He was powerful civil-rights leader, a prominent theologian, and a national political figure--and he had the courage of his convictions to speak the truth. Dr. Phillips Channing died two years after preaching his message on human sexuality at the tender age of 59. One of these days I will write a post on the number of courageous, loving truth-tellers who have died at the age of 59.

Though Dr. Channing is dead, yet he speaks.

Jonathan Merritt, be encouraged. We look forward to hosting you at Emmanuel Enid. You are a living, breathing testimony that the good news is for sinners, not for people who are offended with the label 'sin.'

62 comments:

Dwight McKissic said...

Wade,

The Channing quote says it all. And I share your belief that God might use Jonathan to address this issue in the SBC in an incredibly powerful way to speak to this generation.We'd also be interested in hosting Jonathan at our place as well.

Thanks for continuing to encourage and support SBC personalities that are sometimes ostracized and rejected by others. Your willingness to identify with and minister to SBC personalities disenfranchised by others has been and is a blessing. May God continue to water you as you water so many others.

Dwight

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks, Dwight. Genuinely appreciate your friendship!

Garen Martens said...

Kinda scary - I'll be 59 in October.

Interesting blog, Wade!

Wade Burleson said...

:)

Thanks, Garen.

Hawk Man said...

Wade,

Both you & I believe that Jesus died for our sins. Both you and I are sinners, but we've been forgiven and become God's son, not because of anything we've done but because he loved us.

I begin with that good news for two reasons. First, it's just always a great thing to remember. Second, I'm going to be a tad critical of your comment about "homosexual activists" and encourage you to think about why there is such a disconnect between evangelical Christians and gay men and women, at least in New York.

The part you wrote that made me raise an eyebrow was this: "Why are the homosexual activists angry? Because Jonathan called his sexual activity with another man's sin.'"

It's a easy explation that many Christians will accept because it doesn't make them culpable in why our society gets upset with them.

Hawk Man said...

But, at least in New York, where I live, the issue is deeper. Let's just begin with the AIDS epidemic that destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives in New York. As a child, I remember Christians saying that God sent this disease to them because he hated gay people

And, honestly, if you are going to tag the entire homosexual community with one person's use of the word douche, it's only fair that I tag all Christians with the words of people who believed in Jesus and preached that God sent AIDS to punish gay men and women. Seriously: either it's fair for me to ascribe those views to you or it was unfair for you to ascribe the use of the word douche by one person to gay people. You've always struck me as humble & thoughtful on the blog -- I'll bet you see my point when you think about it.

You know what Christians did not do? They didn't pour their lives out to try to help gay men and women suffering from this disease. And believe me, if you were in New York at the time, entire communities were in turmoil. Did the SBC pour money into finding a cure? Did they move to New York to help the sick with AIDS?

Hawk Man said...

And we do have examples of Christians doing this in the past: In the third century, Christians were the people who moved *into* cities to care for people suffering from the plague even though it meant they could get the disease.

Catch that? (Obviously, I'm using your phrase here to point out how it may have come across.)

So, Christians moved into cities with the plague to help people, but Christians in America condemned the gay community when AIDS was a problem. I would honestly be shocked if you could find me one prominent evangelical that criticized the church for not doing more about AIDS.

I think gay men and women react so strongly because now, finally, after decades of political struggle they have political power and they are going to use it.

I don't have the time or skill to explain how much hate was leveled against gay men and women over the last three decades. But when I ask my gay men and friends here about it, you can see years of pain.

Jonathan Merritt wasn't speaking in a vacuum. It's not enough for him to say, "In a statement released yesterday, company leaders made their commitment to equal service clear . . . ."

That's just tone deaf.

Hawk Man said...

And we do have examples of Christians doing this in the past: In the third century, Christians were the people who moved *into* cities to care for people suffering from the plague even though it meant they could get the disease.

Catch that? (Obviously, I'm using your phrase here to point out how it may have come across.)

So, Christians moved into cities with the plague to help people, but Christians in America condemned the gay community when AIDS was a problem. I would honestly be shocked if you could find me one prominent evangelical that criticized the church for not doing more about AIDS.

I think gay men and women react so strongly because now, finally, after decades of political struggle they have political power and they are going to use it.

I don't have the time or skill to explain how much hate was leveled against gay men and women over the last three decades. But when I ask my gay men and friends here about it, you can see years of pain.

Jonathan Merritt wasn't speaking in a vacuum. It's not enough for him to say, "In a statement released yesterday, company leaders made their commitment to equal service clear . . . ."

That's just tone deaf.

Hawk Man said...

It reminds me of John Gottman's work on relationships where he found you need 5 good interactions for everyone 1 bad one or else

A key to my marriage is Gottman’s 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative interactions, which he explains in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9SE315GtA&feature=player_embedded

It's REALLY worth a listen. Christians need to work on having way more than more than 5 good interactions with gay men and women before they have one negative one. And, honestly, that's how it works with my gay friends. I help them as much as I can -- I try to be self-sacraficing.

Merritt began to try to argue that Chik-fil-a wasn't bad. He even threw in the "On Friday, the company provided free meals for Aurora, Colo., policemen."

So what? Who in the world wouldn't give a police officer from Aurora a free meal after the tragedy there?

That's not the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that we love our enemies because he loved his enemies. My sins and the sins of Wade Burleson were so great that he had to be hung on a cross so that we could be redeemed. We were still his enemies when he loved us.

Hawk Man said...

Why can't Chik-fil-a do that? Why can't they give massive money to AIDS research? Or just give free meals to gay men and women one Sunday saying, "Yes, we think homosexual behavior is a sin. But so is adultery, anger, not taking care of orphans and widows, etc." And we want to show you we love you. So, here's a free meal.

Or anything, actually anything, that shows this isn't a war. We have a disagreement with them because we believe in the Bible. But that Bible -- that is, our God -- tells us to do anything to help them. If they make us walk a mile, we'll go two. Do that want the robe off our back? Here it is.

You know why? Because we are the sons and daughters of God. Because our riches are in heaven. Because we are loved beyond measure. So we love people that way.

I think we get such a strong reaction because we don't go far enough in loving other people and gay men and women -- and everyone else who reacts poorly to evangelicals -- knows that we don't. And they know, in their hearts, that we should. Maybe that's why they outed Merritt. Or maybe it is because people play games with their lives and turn about is fair game.

Finally, we have to figure this out. We have to find a way to say that we believe in the Bible and that we think something is a sin because we are now on the losing end of this battle in our society. We have to find a way to show our love while upholding God's words.

In Christ,
your brother

Hawk Man said...

-- Chris Hawk

Alan Stoddard said...

Good read. I'm preaching "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Same-Sex Marriage: revealing truth and exposing lies" tomorrow at FBC Ruidoso. Timely post for me.

Wade Burleson said...

Hawk Man,

Good thoughts.

Thanks for sharing.

You are always welcome to comment.

Wade

Jennifer McSparin said...

Very thoughtful and touching post. So many lost in NYC, it's truly in need of the Gospel.

Was also very troubled by the "outing" of Mr. Merritt. He's handled it with grace so far, and I pray that God is glorified through this.

Also appreciate Mr. Hawk's comments. I've heard a lot lately from some evangelical leaders of how the church did not respond to moo sexual issues properly. I've also long felt that Christians needed to reach out to AIDS patients. We need many prayers for healing between us and the gay community.

Jennifer McSparin said...

Darn autocorrect! That was supposed to read "homosexual", not "moo sexual". ;)

Tom Parker said...

Wade:

Those that tried to hurt Jonathan Merritt should be ashamed of themselves, but sadly they will not be.

Hawk Man said...

Wade,

I appreciate you responding. I just wanted to point out one more thing: You wrote, " What Jonathan did was immoral, not illegal."

But that's not entire true. It is illegal in many countries, largely in Africa. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_by_country_or_territory

And, less than 10 years ago, what it was illegal in parts of the U.S. It was only after the Supreme Court struck it down, 6-3, that it became immoral, not illegal. (Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas would have not struck laws prohibiting homosexual acts as unconstitutional, which means that it some states it would have stayed illegal.)

The fact is that many, many Christians (here and elsewhere) want to make it illegal.

Doesn't that also provide some of the context as to why gay men and women, and their friends, are responding like this to the comments from people at Chik-fil-a and Jonathan?

Finally, I will say that I, too, feel for Jonathan. This must be a very hard time for him, and it's a shame that it has to be publicly discussed.

My original, main point (which I think you graciously understood) was that it's just not as easy to say that gay men and women are reacting to the accusation of "sin." I think they are reactioning to something much deeper. And we need to find a way to say that we want to uphold God's word but not hurt each other.

Chris Hawk

P.S. I'd also recommend dropping the phrase "homosexual activists." That may be what you think they are (and it may be accurate) but it sounds too much like the guy in the subway screaming "repent!" And, yes, those Christians aren't very helpful when trying to talk to people about Jesus.

Garen Martens said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garen Martens said...

Wade - per our conversation this morning, it saddens me to see the moral decline and Christian-hate of society. It is troublesome to see how much we try to redefine sin. Our whole nation suffers because of these actions and they have led to most of our pressing social problems even including the economic troubles. Often, during my morning reading and prayer, I am brought to tears thinking of what life will bring for my 5 grandchildren. I have to remind myself that I'm not in control but I'm talking to the One/I Am who is in charge and that He knows what He's doing.

Wade Burleson said...

Chris,

I will consider dropping the use of homosexual activists. I am friends with some leaders of Soul Force, and though I understand you feel like it is a phrase that may be 'shouting,' in my mind-and the manner and tone in which I use the phrase myself-it is an accurate description. However, communication is a two-way street and I will consider using another phrase that represents those who are concerned that homosexuality be accepted as normal and not defined as sin.

Blessings to you and thanks for all the comments!

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Tom and Garen,

Amen.

Hawk Man said...

Wade,

Thanks very much for your thoughtful response -- especially, over a blog, these conversations are hard (because we can't hear tone). Just to be clear, I don't think you are yelling at me, or even yelling actually, and your point was to express grief about Jonathan. I agree -- it was really awful what happen to him.

I'm just trying to figure out how we talk to gay men and women about Jesus and the fact that he saved us if we accept him. I'm not trying to redefine anything as not a sin. But how do we have a conversation? Because the tide of political power is turning in this country and across the world (especially Europe already). We have to find ways to talk and disagree and my (small) point was if you used that phrase up here in New York, it would immediately shut down the conversation (even though it is accurate in one sense).

Thanks for engaging me in this conversation.

For the glory of God,
Chris Hawk

Nicholas said...

The annoying street preachers are invariably King James Only Independant Fundamental Baptists. They only harden people against the Gospel.

Wanda (Deb) Martin said...

Wade,

Thank you for this thoughtful post. I am glad you and Rachelle had a wonderful time in NYC doing the Lord's important work. I love the picture of the two of you!

As always, great sermon this morning.

Blessings,

Anonymous said...

The anger towards Jonathan is due to his hypocrisy, not his calling homosexuality a "sin": he was condemning others for exactly the things he was doing at the time. And we're sad that he can't accept his own sexual orientation, but that's his issue. As he notes, he's not "cured" of it.

And as for the impllication that its "cause" was a molestation when he was a child: well, after the Sandusky affair of Penn State, he has an obligation to come forward and name the molestor and have him prosecuted ... if he actually exists. How many other boys might he be molesting right now? Can Jonathan really have *that* on his conscience as well?

Off The Cuff said...

As we all know the word "sin" in the bible simply means missing the mark of God's perfection. Given that definition we are all sinners. I have noticed in the bible that Jesus, in principle, always taught ideals. However, in practice he offered love, grace and compassion to those who were less than perfect.

In my opinion, it is only the Holy Spirit that can convict a person of his/her sin. Unfortunately, the Christian community often tries to assist the Holy Spirit by offering up caustic and inflamed rhetroic concerning a particular sin.

It it the nature of true Christians to offer love and compassion to anyone who confesses their struggles with a particular sin.

I am sure that Johathan will recieve all of the love and support that he deserves.

This should serve as a time of personal introspection to remind each of us that the we are all struggling to draw closer to God's ideal.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I think you missed Jonathan.

Not once did I ever sense or hear "condemnation" for people who struggle with same sex sexual desires.

On the contrary, I heard love and acceptance for the person, a desire for dialogue, and a conviction of the truth.

Nicholas said...

Anonymous, have the courage to use your name.

Rex Ray said...

Hawk Man,
I believe your choice of birds is fitting for your hidden identity and the message you portray. You see, the hawk feeds on unsuspecting prey such as a chicken hawk.

Your many words remind me “if you tell a lie often enough…”

You said, “The gospel of Jesus Christ is that we love our enemies because he loved his enemies.”

HUH? Jesus loved his SHEEP (as he told Peter to “feed my sheep”), but he loved his enemies with a WHIP! The ‘money changers etc.’ were to STOP doing their sin in his Father’s house, and then they could become his sheep.

The same with Homosexuals; they are to STOP being proud of their sin.

To say adultery etc. is the same sin as homosexual is a lie. I’ve played basketball for an Air Force Base, and on one over-night game a married guy went with some and ‘picked up’ girls. I learned what happened as he cried himself to a drunken sleep going home saying “Why did I do it?” It was sad the next day as we dropped him off at his home and his wife rushed out to greet him.

You said, “Christians need to work on having more than 5 good interactions with gay men and women before the have one negative one.”

Another HUH? What do you think of the thousands of ‘gay interactions’ TV is bombarding us? The first trick the devil uses is to get us to accept sin is to make it funny. Some will laugh themselves into hell.

Hawk Man, are you helping to fulfill this prophesy? “A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

“God let them go ahead into every sort of sex sin…vile and sinful things with each other’s bodies…they deliberately chose to believe lies…their women indulged in sex sin with each other…and their men burned with lust for each other…” (Romans 1:24-27)

Hawk Man, do you believe the Bible? “He turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into heaps of ashes and blotted them off the face of the earth, making them an example for all the ungodly in the FUTURE to look back upon and FEAR.” (2 Peter 2:6)

Hawk Man, you speak truth that is scary when you wrote; “The tide of political power is turning in this country…after decades of political struggle they [gays] have political power and they are going to use it.”

Yes, it seems from our president on down is doing everything they can to weaken America, and your favorite subject may repeat history: “There was homosexuality throughout the land, and the people of Judah became as depraved as the heathen nations…” (1 Kings 14:24)

Double J said...

How should the church handle the fact that the human population does not cleanly divide by biological sex into M/F only, as the seminal creation story in Genesis indicates?

According to any number of sources, there is quite a lot of human diversity at the genetic level that differs from the strict M/F dichotomy. See this from the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/genomics/gender/en/index1.html) as an example. This issue is prevalent enough that it is causing problems even for the Olympics, where the separation of competitors by sex is sometimes difficult to achieve when some participants are clearly neither (or both).

If this is so, what instruction is there about how to behave prudently sexually, when one is neither clearly M or F, since the Biblical instructions on sex presume a M/F dichotomy and that sexual attraction is only correctly oriented at the opposite sex?

God clearly allows, and thus intends, for there to be people who do not fit the Biblical mold. To what end? Do they sin by simply having sex at all?

I point this out in part to illustrate that sex, gender, and sexual orientation do not, even at the biological level, neatly sort out into the categories our beloved Bible assumes. We can approach that contradiction with hubris and self-righteousness, passing judgement on those who are different because, after all, God cannot be wrong. Or we can approach it with humility and an a sense of our own limitedness, and recognize that while God isn't wrong, our understanding of the God-self just might be.

How much of what we read in the Bible about sex/gender/sexual mores is transcendent and how much of it is contextual (specific to a time and place) and how much of it simply reflects the limited understanding that humanity had (still has) of God?

Anonymous said...

What am I missing?

Why aren't liars suggesting Chik fil A give all liars free sandwiches once a week?

Or coveters?

Or adulterers?

Why is it we think someone with the biological urge to this one sin is different than someone with a biological urge to other sins?


What am I missing?

Wade Burleson said...

Double J,

You ask some excellent questions.

I am thinking instead of responding.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

I think what you may be missing is the fact that Romans 1 seems to single out same-sex sexual desire as a sign that the world has collectively hardened its heart toward God and begun to worship the creation and instead of the Creator. That doesn't mean that adulterers, and the proud, and the gossips, etc... also have not turned their back on God--it just means that there is a specific statement in the New Testament that the advocacy of the acceptance of homosexual desires as "normal and God-given" is a sign that, in reality, God has been abandoned. Chick-Filet is addressing one issue, granted, but it seems an important one.

Steven Stark said...

I know that I cannot quickly convince religious conservatives to move beyond an extreme authoritarian view of ancient Scripture - though I believe this view will slowly fade into history and we will be better for it. (I am no atheist, but I think religion is a man-made effort to discover "the divine", not a perfect revelation of the divine. This is clear even in studying the evolution of the Judeo-Christian tradition - the religion changes to meet the demands of the historical facts on the ground)

But I am not perfect, and I am sure I am wrong about many things.

But I do hope to convince some that, in the interest of separation of church and state, supporting love and commitment and family, and adopting a truly American "live and let live" attitude, they should still support civil marriage for homosexuals.

I have some good lesbian friends who have been married for 13 years. One is in the national guard. When she is on active duty, she and her spouse do not get the same active duty pay (in the neighborhood of $500 a month) that all her other colleagues receive.

This is wrong.


The best to all of you, Steven

Hawk Man said...

Rex Ray --

Wow. I mean wow. I googled your name and came up with comments that were similar in tone. Maybe it's the format of commenting on a blog. I can't imagine you would talk to me like that in person.

I don't have any intention of trying to change your mind, but to the others observing this conversation, I would point out that it is this tone -- the tone that Rex took with me -- is one of the reasons that Jonathan got clobbered by blogs.

Just to be clear, the good news of Jesus Christ is that he died for our sins and we are saved because of him. Sin remains sin, and we should stop sinning. But those facts don't take away from the grace of Jesus. And, yes, I do believe in the Bible as God's word. Yowser.

I'm really not sure how to counter your argument involving a story how you played basketball for an Air Force Base, though, and how that counters what I was saying.

But as far as this comment:

You said, “Christians need to work on having more than 5 good interactions with gay men and women before the have one negative one.” Another HUH? What do you think of the thousands of ‘gay interactions’ TV is bombarding us? The first trick the devil uses is to get us to accept sin is to make it funny. Some will laugh themselves into hell."

I think the basic difference is I'm trying to tell them about Jesus, so I put the burden on myself to have interactions with them that will reflect his grace. I don't get angry that Will & Grace glorify the lifestyle because I have a more important message: Jesus died for our sins, and lve a new life.

Scott Spencer said...

The state of Oklahoma also has not yet repealed its homosexual conduct laws, and the state legislature has taken no action since the 2003 Supreme Court decision to remove the law from its criminal code.

Hawk Man said...

And you should honestly read Romans in context and not just quote verses. As Don Carson has often said, "A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text."

The verses after this: “God let them go ahead into every sort of sex sin…vile and sinful things with each other’s bodies…they deliberately chose to believe lies…their women indulged in sex sin with each other…and their men burned with lust for each other…” (Romans 1:24-27).

say this:

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

----

The "therefore" is what the argument is there for. Paul wasn't writting to the world of sinners. He was writting to a church of believers. And his argument was focused on the fact that they were judging people.

Rex Ray -- you know what sin is. "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.

"So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?"

Christiane said...

THAT FOWL REVOLT!!!

”Who first seduc’d them to that fowl revolt?
Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile
Stird up with Envy and Revenge, deceiv’d
The Mother of Mankinde"

John Milton (Paradise Lost)


how very small Christians were made to look this week by singling out one type of sin in a massive display of Phariseeism . . .

we are better than this, and it might be far more honorable to start acting like it

Wade Burleson said...

Christiane,

Good point.

When culture actively and persistently advocates lying, stealing, gossiping, adultery backbiting, gang-land style bank robbing, etc... as normal, healthy and wholesome, I trust we will have the same kind of reaction.

Hawk Man said...

Wade,

Could you explain more what you mean by this? "When culture actively and persistently advocates lying, stealing, gossiping, adultery backbiting, gang-land style bank robbing, etc... as normal, healthy and wholesome, I trust we will have the same kind of reaction."

I'm guess that is the distinction that makes the difference here for you, but I'm not sure. Are you saying that, "Yes, everything is a sin, but there is only one sin that the culture is actively promoting and that is homosexuality?"

I imagine that is right. Even with something like divorce, our culture doesn't seem to want us to accept it as much as homosexuality.

I respect your opinion and was opening you would let me know if that's what you were saying.

Rex Ray said...

Hawk Man,
Thanks for replying.
You say you can’t believe the tone I used with you.

I believe you’d think the same thing if you checked your comments with ‘spell check’ and see the many red marks.

You see, ‘spell check’ doesn’t care how much you brag on Jesus or that we’re all sinners etc.; it just tells you what’s wrong.

You say you believe the Word of God, but you failed to comment on Sodom and Gomorrah being an example for all future generations.

It’s true I am a sinner, but I don’t brag about it. I don’t join with others to promote a particular sin. In fact, when I sin it grieves the Holy Spirit within me and I feel miserable.

You said that you don’t get angry that Will & Grace glorify the lifestyle because you have a more important message…

Would you explain that in the terms that Jesus used a whip to change some lifestyles?

Sure, Paul condemned ‘Judgers’ who were guilty of the same sin, but Jesus said. “By their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:16)

Hawk Man, will you have your arm around the kissing couples telling them about Jesus while they demonstrate their passion at Chick-fil-A? The thought makes me sick.

http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/03/us/chick-fil-a-kiss-day/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn

Once, our visit to Niagara Falls was about ruined while trying to keep our children from seeing men kissing.

I believe the ultimate joy for gays is to lead a straight person into their activities. Twice when I was young and ignorant of gays, I was tricked into facing their passion. One said, “You can’t blame a guy for trying.”

I believe Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2 say the same thing: “It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.”

Hawk Man, since we’re all sinners, what sin was Jesus referring to?

I believe Jesus was referring to homosexual sin.

Hawk Man said...

Rex,

First, you can call me Chris.

Second, your analogy to spell check is only persuasive if you have a reason to think that God calls us, Christians, to act like spell checkers. That is, does Jesus just call us to say what’s wrong to the world? Or does he call to act in a certain way to non-believers while demonstrating God’s holiness.

Third, I’m not sure that I “failed” to comment on Sodom and Gomorrah. The verb “fail” seems to imply that I had a duty or responsibility to engage you in your arguments including the attacks on whether I believe that the Bible is the word of God. Or the strange comments you made about my sign in name.

The text of 2 Peter shows that Peter was warning about false prophets and false teachers. “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”

Peter is warning about teachers who introduce heresy, driven by greed, and assuring the reader that they are condemned. He uses Sodom and Gomorrah as examples of those people that God does bring judgment upon people even if for a while he lets the unrighteous thrive. In the context of the passage, I think he is referring back to false teachers, not gay men and women.

Hawk Man said...

Fourth, I agree with you that homosexual conduct is a sin. What we are discussing here is the best way to talk to people about their sin and to tell them about Christ.

Fifth, you wrote, “Sure, Paul condemned ‘Judgers’ who were guilty of the same sin, but Jesus said. “By their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:16).” But just before that Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

So, Paul and Jesus agree – do not judge – that is for God alone. So, there must be a way to call conduct sin but also not judge. This, I believe, is the meaning behind, “But for the grace of God go I.”

Sixth, you ask, “will you have your arm around the kissing couples telling them about Jesus while they demonstrate their passion at Chick-fil-A? The thought makes me sick.”

I don’t think I’ll have my arm around them, but I do believe that I would tell them about Jesus even at Chik-fil-A.

Seventh, I’m really not sure what to say about your personal stories about Air Force bases and your children and Niagara Falls except just to recognize that it’s not a persuasive way of discussing this issue.

However, what does this mean? “Twice when I was young and ignorant of gays, I was tricked into facing their passion. One said, ‘You can’t blame a guy for trying.’” What does “facing their passion” mean? That when you were young you twice had physical contact with a man?

Eighth, I don’t think there is nothing in the text, or context of Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42, and Luke 17:2 to support your interpretation that Jesus was referring only to homosexual sin. Again, I’m not taking away the fact that it is sin. But I am trying to keep away from prooftexting and just inserting our beliefs into the text.

Hawk Man said...

P.S. I reread this and realized I needed to clarify: "That is, does Jesus just call us to say what’s wrong to the world? Or does he call to act in a certain way to non-believers while demonstrating God’s holiness."

Yes, Jesus does call us to say what's wrong with the world.

But he also calls us to do it in a way that reflects his love.

I don't think that just acting like a spellchecker is that way.

Victorious said...

Wade posted a most gracious post about how he dealt with militant homosexuals about a year ago. He didn't shy away from the subject of sin, but expressed the love of Jesus as a response to their confrontational attitudes and manners. Here's the link from just about a year ago:

http://www.wadeburleson.org/2011/06/militant-homosexuals-loving-them-to.html

Rex Ray said...

Chris,
You start and end with “spell-check”…you sure know how to beat a dead horse to death.

I’m sorry you thought I was saying Christians were to be spell checkers. All I said was that you’d be surprised to see how many errors you made in your comments.

About Sodom and Gomorrah being a warning to future generations, you said Peter was only referring to false teachers, not gay men and women.

DUH! Reminds me of Peter saying: “…there are people who are deliberately stupid, and always demand some unusual interpretation…” (2 Peter 3:16 Living)

Of course that could be said about anyone’s thinking.

Would you agree that we are not to judge, but we are to be fruit inspectors?

You make me laugh saying you would tell gays about Jesus while they were slobbering on each other at Chick-fil-A.

You asked, “What does facing their passion mean?

It means when I was a freshman in college waiting all night for a bus, I was enticed to sleep free in a hotel till morning by a friendly man. I’d slept with my twin brother my whole life so it was no big deal with me. But the minute we were in bed he was all over me telling how much he loved me. DUHH I don’t know if it was because I was bigger than him, but he backed off faster than he started.

Another time I worked a night shift 40 hours a week and I accepted a ride back to college, but the guy, about 10 years older than me, stopped under a street light and asked me to read a paper. I stopped reading in the first paragraph because it was filth. Needless to say, I walked the rest of the way; and needless to say he had no good intention with me.

Peter’s first sermon that resulted in 3,000 saved blasted the people’s sin:

“…With the help of lawless Gentiles, YOU nailed him to a cross and killed him.” “…God has made this Jesus, whom YOU crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:23, 36 NLT)

Notice the ABSENCE of Peter expressing his love for them. Sure we are to love the lost, but we are not to love their sin, especially a sin they’re proud of.

Nicholas said...

Rex, Chris has clearly embraced postmodernism I don't think you will be able to reason with him.

He wants to be able to witness to homosexuals without offending them, but that's impossible because they are offended at the fact the homosexual acts and desires are sin.

Steven Stark said...

I am disturbed to read comments here that reflect a clear "hetero-supremist" point of view.

There are no good moral arguments for treating homosexuals as second-class citizens.

I realize, more than I have before, that my homosexual friends and family members (and every person on this comment stream has them) need greater support than ever.

Rex Ray said...

Nicholas,
It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong; something that's seldom seen on a blog. Thank you.

I believe you gave Wade some good advice when you said, “”Don’t drop the use of ‘homosexual activists’.”

I believe they’ve made their sin their god; much like the Baal worshippers that Elijah had a contest with.

I also believe you gave some good advice to me in not being able to reason with Hawk Man (Chris). I see his mind is made up and he doesn’t want me confusing him with facts.

So I’ll end my comments with one question: Would America be better off and which would please God; if we were 100% straight or 100% gay?

stevenstarkmusic said...

“I believe they’ve made their sin their god.”

All groups that are discriminated against tend to rally around the trait for which they are singled out. You see it with women, people of color, religious groups, etc. Also, people just tend to gravitate together who have something in common. So I am not sure what you mean here - especially painting with such broad strokes.

“I see his mind is made up and he doesn’t want me confusing him with facts.”

This is an ironic statement, considering I mostly read singular, anecdotal events and personal feelings in your comments. I have never read any empirical data or effective moral arguments.

“Would America be better off and which would please God; if we were 100% straight or 100% gay?”

Even critics of homosexuals now accept that our attractions are not made on a conscious level. Being gay or straight is not a conscious choice. Therefore, we might assume that God has created the ratios just as He wants them.

I urge everyone here to see all people, gay or straight, as humans who have the right to pursue happiness. The position of many on this blog is that homosexuals, who were born that way, would be better off living their lives alone with no immediate family. This is cruel. I know that my immediate family is at the center of everything that is meaningful in my life.

We need compassion first. Let’s consider the real human impacts of what we believe and do.

James said...

Two people of the same gender cannot "marry" each other. That is the profanation of marriage and an abomination according to Scripture.

"Progressive Christianity" is no Christianity at all, Steve. It is apostasy and rebellion against God.

James said...

Also, Steve, homosexuals are not "discriminated against."

stevenstarkmusic said...

James,

There are many abominations in ancient Scripture. Eating shellfish, wearing clothes of more than one material, etc.

Homosexuals and their relationships are treated differently under the law than heterosexuals and their relationships. That is discrimination.

Progressive christianity respects the wisdom of the ancients. But we are standing on their shoulders - not holding them up. The evolution of religion, as seen throughout scripture where religion and concepts of God change dramatically, is one of moral progress. I am an optimist.

Progressive christianity wants society to continually become better, rather than to simply return to the past.

Our homosexual brothers and sisters should be encouraged to have families and to commit to each other in love. They should not be encouraged to live lives of isolation, fighting their nature for no good reason.

If homosexuality is "wrong", simply because scripture says so and for no empirically measurable reason in accord with a coherent moral theory, then the concept of God you worship is capricious, giving mankind arbitrary laws.

That doesn't sound good at all.

James said...

How many times have these objections to Scripture been answered, and yet they are repeated over and over again?

The moral law is eternal and upheld by the New Testament, while the ceremonial and civil law is not. Jesus Christ pronounced all foods to be clean, yet when discussing marriage He stated "at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife'" (Matthew 19:4-5). Marriage is a divine and eternal institution, and can only exist between a man and a woman.

The Holy Spirit has inspired all of Scripture, including Paul's writings, and thus everything Paul wrote, including on the subjects of marriage, sexuality, and the relationship between Christians and the Law, is likewise the rule for Christian belief and life.

The only way to make society better is to make Christ supreme over all thing in society.

The Bible reveals to us just one God, not "many concepts."

At least you are honest and upfront as to what you think of the God of the Bible.

James said...

All-

To understand the differences between Christianity and Steve's religion, read this: http://www.reformed.org/books/chr_and_lib/

Steven Stark said...

James,

Our views of Scripture are definitely different. I believe it is a man-made work, albeit (arguably) the greatest ever created.

But it reflects our flawed and beautiful humanity. There are wonderful words of love and justice, and a lot of terribly cruelty, much of it attributed directly to God - stones thrown on Canaanites, children drowned in a giant flood, commands to kill women and their unborn children, etc.

Actually, the Old Testament is filled with commands to kill pregnant women and children.

And yet there are more expansive views of God that evolve to include the whole world in his plan for salvation.

So where is the universal, unchanging moral law in Scripture?

This is a fantasy. I do believe in a universal moral law, but it is something we continually strive to find, and religion is a tool for this.

Why do you believe the words of Paul are perfect? Is there any basis for believing this?

"Marriage can only exist between a man and a woman"

Tell that to my lesbian friends who have been married for 13 years! If the term "marriage" does not apply to a lasting commitment based on love, then I am not sure the term has any meaning.

Rex Ray said...

Off topic.
A story just for Christiane.

Denton, Texas is the home of North Texas State University where my twin brother, Hez Ray was in the business of buying and remodeling houses for sale in the 1970’s. A young black man asked to rent the house.

“No, the house is just for sale; where you from?”

“Oh, no one knows where I live in Yellowknife, Canada.”

“I’ve spent a couple of weeks there. What are you doing so far from home?”

“I got a four year scholarship for winning in hockey at the first Canada’s Olympic Winter Games and now I’m working on a PHD. I almost didn’t get to play as there was a big fuss if I was eligible or not. They left the decision up to the Fairbanks Athletic Director who organized the games. If he hadn’t let me play I’d probably be working in the cold mines.”

“Yeah, they didn’t want you to play because the school picked you up from an Indian village.”

“HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT?”

“I’m the man that let you play.”

Christiane said...

Hi REX RAY,

:)

I love your stories SO much. Hope you are well.

Rex Ray said...

Christiane,
Since this post seems to have closed, here’s another story.

My brother, Hez, had a heart attack and a triple bypass. His daughter sent this email.

Wanted to share a story...My dad has always had this incredibly gift of making friends almost anywhere he frequents. My mom and I went to lunch at a place called Paradise Bakery and she noticed a Mexican man bussing tables....she told me "That's one of your dad's friends." My dad loves to sit in restaurants and write and somehow he has gotten to know this man. The amazing thing is that he speaks barely a word of English. Somehow we communicated to him that my dad was in the hospital... and he said...."I come." Sure enough he came that afternoon, holding tightly to his Bible and prayer beads and he cried out to God for my dad...at times even touching his face to the floor as he prayed. He came the next day and did the same. My dad wrote this poem and read it to me with tears in his eyes. I thought it might be an encouragement to you as well. My dad doesn't know his name so he made one up. Love, Melody

My Friend, Charlie Rose

He came by today just to say, "God is on His way"
A kinder face, you could never find
Carved from desert rock by the blowing sand
Bent now by sun and his labor of love

He speaks no English; his T-shirt flies with bakery flour
Courteous, polite, contrite he stands, without a seat of honor
His dark Spanish eyes sparkle with tears, of the good thing that he shares
We wait in the hospital room with a respectful air

He lifts up his prayer beads to God and sinks to his knees.
Tears flow and fall on his brown hands; then puddle on the floor.
And he pleads for God's mercy in a language so strange
Yet known by every man on the open range

He remains prone on the floor; his tears continue to stream.
Yet with deep contrition he lifts our souls to heaven's gate
And although he washes dishes; it is his prayers, that to heaven will fly.
This is my friend, Charlie Rose, I think he lives closer to Jesus than I

Hez Ray, May 25, 2012

stevenstarkmusic said...

Rex Ray,

Great poem! Thank you for sharing that.

Faith said...

I happened to come across this discussion of homosexuality and found some interesting comments. First of all, I firmly by Scripture believe marriage to be ordained by God from the beginning or He would have created from the beginning other types of relationships.
I tend to look at things more in a common sense view also...when you look at creation we know that God created both female and male species (whether human, animal, and even plants) and by doing so population would grow. Population cannot grow otherwise in homosexual relationships unless by in vitro or surrogate parenting, and in this even there are so many ethical issues to deal with. When God made man and woman to procreate the intended outcome was family and He knew that this was the best and He called it good. We know through Scripture He never called any other kind of relationship good, so we cannot state God approves of homosexuality.
The other common sense issue, which no one seems to want to talk with me about, that I see is that "What else will someone want rights for in the near future?" We are already seeing that polygamists now want their rights. What about beastiality? or pedophilia? These are very serious issues. When we look at marriage we need to seriously look at why did God design for this relationship to be the only one in the first place and trust that He knew what was best for man.

By the way, about Chick-fil-A- there was nothing that Dan Cathy said with hate towards the homosexual. Go look it up. In fact, all over the country the CFAs were acting with integrity and kindness when many homosexuals vandalized and made hateful comments. However, that being said I do believe in loving those who claim homosexuality and telling them about the love of Christ for their sin. I would in no way treat them with disdain or hate, but I will tell them I do not condone their sin.

Christiane said...

Hi REX RAY

it's me, L's

That poem !!!

it's a blessing

the people of my faith will keep prayer vigils going all night sometimes for those who are in crisis, taking turns through the night to watch over them in prayer

that was a beautiful story of faith

God love you!
L's