Tag Archives: Bigotry

Yeah you know that whole Tony Dungy thing?

With just a few words, the great coach and football analyst Tony Dungy has literally found himself in a red hot imbroglio.  It’s really a shame too.  Let’s look at his comments:

Dungy noted in an interview, that if he were still coaching today, that he wouldn’t have drafted Sam “(n)ot because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it. It’s not going to be totally smooth…things will happen.”

I cannot for the life of me see any problems with this statement.  Let’s take something a bit less controversial.

What if a player was drafted in the 7th round who actively campaigns for the KKK?  What if he had made numerous comments in interviews that included the “n word,” referred to blacks and other minorities as less than human, and was regularly on the cover of white supremacy literature?

What if a player was drafted in the 7th round who was an ardent supporter of the 9-11 terrorists?  What if he said that he was going to use his platform in the NFL to bring attention and provide support to al Qaeda terrorists?  What if numerous interviews found him denouncing Americans and calling for jihad on our soil?

If either of those were the case, would you have a problem with Tony Dungy saying, “I do not believe ________’s (white supremacy) (Islamic faith) will be a distraction to his teammates or his organization,” like he said in a statement on Pro Football Talk.com? What if he went on to say about the two cases, “I do; however, believe that the media attention that comes with it will be a distraction? Unfortunately we are all seeing this play out now, and I feel badly that my remarks played a role in the distraction. I wish __________ nothing but the best in his quest to become a star in the NFL and I am confident he will get the opportunity to show what he can do on the field.”

You have to admit, considering those two egregious hypothetical situations, that is an extremely benign statement! In this case, we have a known racist or supporter of terrorism and Dungy still wants the guy to get a “shot” and to “show what he can do on the field.” I think people would argue for a more vociferous critique by Dungy! “This isn’t enough…he is a Christian, and a man of character. He must stand against racism against blacks.” “How can he support the 9-11 attackers? He must not allow this to be swept under the rug!”

So, now—let’s look at the situation as it really is. We have an openly homosexual Defensive player named Michael Sam drafted in the…7th round by the St. Louis Rams. Upon his draft, leading up to it and following it, he has been the recipient of lavish media praise. In fact, Oprah was in talks to make a television show about him, but it was subsequently nixed because it was decided by his drafting team to be a distraction!

Dungy was asked if he would have drafted Sam. I think a succinct, “No” would have sufficed, but the interviewer wanted more. So, we have Dungy’s comments.

Notice in his comments, he didn’t condemn Sam for his lifestyle choice. He didn’t say, “eww gross.” He didn’t say that Sam was less than human. On the contrary, he said that HE wouldn’t have drafted Sam, but that he felt he deserved a chance to prove himself on the field. What is the problem?

Here is the problem:  On Tuesday, Pardon the Interruption’s Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon were discussing former NFL coach Tony Dungy’s recent comments that media attention would have pushed him away from drafting Sam. Kornheiser said he was optimistic that NFL players would be personally tolerant of Sam, though.

And then this was said:

“I’m more skeptical,” Wilbon countered. “I think there is a component, a subculture of the religious Right, that is very influential in football — maybe not the other sports, but football — and I don’t see this going as smoothly as you see it.”​

Now, what does Wilbon mean when he talks about the subculture of the religious Right?  Well, he is talking about Dungy!  He is talking about the players who circle up and pray after games.  He is talking about Tebow.  He is talking about Christians.

Christianity makes liberals nervous.

You have to remember, Christianity makes some exclusive truth claims.  First of all, it claims that Jesus Christ is The way.  It claims that all men are sinners and in need of redemption that humans are not in a position to secure for themselves.  It claims that who we are is defined by our identity…in Christ—rather than the things we do, or our biological DNA.

The above is highly controversial to the Left.  The Bible even tells us that it will be controversial.

The first statement, that Christ is THE way—that runs right into the oncoming traffic of the leftist ideology.  The liberal believes that all ways are THE way—well, with a caveat:  They believe they are the most tolerant people on the planet—they say that all ideas are equal—but then comes the clincher:  All ideas are equal, until you disagree with the idea that all ideas are equal (which if you really think about it, necessarily follows. If all ideas are equal, then it would also affirm the view that says “no ideas are equal.”  This contradicts.  It cannot be tenable).  At that point, they become the most intolerant group of people on the planet.  They aren’t interested in debate, dialogue, or Obama’s favorite word, “bipartisanship.”  They are only interested in destroying the opposing view.

Christians on the other hand, believe that all people are equal, but all ideas are not.  It is wrong to embrace Nazi ideology.  It is wrong to embrace ideology that affirms pedophilia.  Liberals believe that all ideas are equal but all people are not.  My evidence:  Read Wilbon’s quote.  They are not attacking Dungy’s ideas—or engaging with the arguments:  They are attacking HIM and this fringe element called the religious right.  Notice, they aren’t saying, “I philosophically oppose the view that all men need redemption from God.”  They are instead saying, “Tony Dungy just admitted that Tony Dungy isn’t a skilled enough coach to deal with the distractions of doing the right thing…”  You even have people saying, “Dungy is entitled to his opinion, he just cannot say it aloud.”  Wow—so now, Dungy, who is a black man…is now a second class citizen who is unable to speak his mind?  My how times have changed.

The second statement:  All men are sinners and in need of redemption.  Well, aside from the obvious objections to masculine pronouns that feminists will bring up, this goes against the entire humanist doctrine.  In their view, all people are good; it is society that lets them down.  It is the culture who is to blame for bad behavior, not the person themselves.  They take away all need for personal responsibility.

Why is it that when crime happens, instead of punishing criminals, they always want to find the root cause of it (by root cause, I mean…the societal cause)?  They are not interested in dealing with the personal responsibility of certain actions.  The person CHOSE to commit a crime.  It doesn’t matter what society has or hasn’t done.  They are only interested in how the crime came to happen.  They don’t care to ask, “Are people flawed,” but rather; “why was he born into socioeconomic conditions that produced this type of behavior?”  It is a very different view of human nature.

The other side of this matter is that the left believes that we are all the product of time plus matter plus chance—and as a result, our DNA dictates to us what we will do.  We cannot be responsible for things that happen at the microbiological level.  We are compelled to behave in this way without any choice.  It is determined.  If that were true though—and everything was predetermined, then does the statement, “He should keep his opinion to himself” have any meaning?  On the naturalistic view, which the left overwhelmingly affirms, I haven’t weighed any arguments, or looked at the pros and cons of that statement.  I am just wired to believe it is true.  Why should that hold any weight?

The Christian believes otherwise.  The Christian believes that man is born flawed—as Kant said:  “From the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was made.”  We cannot resist sin, or doing wrong on our own.  We are drawn to it and consumed by it.  In the Christian view, sin doesn’t just describe something we do; it describes a power that controls us.  Until this problem is dealt with, we cannot escape it.  We will continue to be owned by it.  As a result, we need redemption—and it is a redemption that we, because of our sinful nature, are not in a position to secure for ourselves.

 

Finally, the idea of ontological being.  The humanist or liberal believes that we are defined by what we do. The Christian believes we are defined, by our being—and specifically the being of Christ in us.  If we don’t have Christ in us, we are ontologically dead.  The liberal would say that “I am a homosexual,” or “I am a heterosexual.” Even the liberal Christian will say, “I am a body who has a soul,” or, “I am a social activist—and I believe in God.” It is enough to be those things.

The Christian on the other hand says, “I am a Child of God…and I DO things.”  Being is always before action to the Christian.  Being a homosexual or heterosexual is something that we DO.  Being a social activist is something I do.  What I do flows from my being.  My being doesn’t flow from what I do.  I cannot truly be in a relationship until I decide to ACT.  I have to talk to my spouse.  I have to engage with her.  If I lived in a vacuum, I would not be in relationship.  It requires action.  It requires doing.  Saying, “I am a heterosexual” really has no meaning at all without action.  Likewise, you will not hear any denunciation of homosexuality in the Bible as long as it is contained in the person.  It is the act of doing homosexual activity that is condemned.  After all, the Bible clearly says that Jesus WAS tempted.  It isn’t that he was tempted that is important.  What is important is that he DIDN’T do what he was tempted to do.  His being informed what he did—and he didn’t sin.

Being on the other hand only requires…well, life.  In the Christian view, it is the fact that Christ enters us and gives us life, that our ontological being is changed.  We are no longer only a lump of flesh and DNA.  We are more:  We are no longer a body who has a soul; we are a soul who has a body.  Another way to say it—Ravi Zacharias routinely says, “Jesus didn’t come into the world to make bad people good.  He came to make dead men live.”  Being.

With those things being said, I think it is clear why there is such a negative reaction by the secular journalists when someone like Dungy says what he says.  It isn’t so much his comments, as they were fairly benign.  No—the problem is that his Christianity is seen as his prevailing ideology.  It is the fact that his being (Christ) informs all that he does.  He doesn’t believe it is his DNA or societal conditions that inform it.  He believes in Christ as the only way, he believes in original sin, and he believes that he IS a Child of God—not a football coach or a heterosexual.

Do you see the problem?  It is a matter of truth claim.  Dungy and all Christians are making an exclusive claim to truth when they identify as a Child of God.  They are saying that ALL men are flawed, that Jesus is the greatest who exists, and that it is ONLY through Jesus that ALL men can become, unflawed.

Let me put it into the lens of a personal story—and see two reactions to truth:

I once went to get a haircut, and in the middle of my cut, the lady cutting my hair said to the other lady working, “Business is good, but there must be more to life than this.”  I caught her eye in the mirror and said, “You know, in life, we aren’t made happy by what we acquire, but by what we appreciate.”  She was clearly interested, so I went on:  “The trouble as I see it is, that we often think we have nothing to be grateful for, but I think the real problem is, many times we think we have no one to be grateful to.”  She began to engage with me, and told me that she was very fearful about the future; and specifically, about bringing a baby into such an evil world.  I asked her then, “What is more troubling, the evil out there, or the evil inside?”  She agreed that the evil inside was more troubling, and she said, that it often felt like there was a power that controlled her—and that no matter what she did, she always feel prisoner to it.  I told her, “that power is what we call sin—and it doesn’t describe only actions that we do…but like you say, it describes a power that controls us.”  She nodded, and said, “I sometimes wish there was a way to be free from it…its almost like I need a……..”  I interrupted…”A savior?”  She lit up and said, “Yeah!  A Savior.  That is what I need.  What a great word.” 

A couple of weeks later I went back to check up on her…and she immediately sat me and began cutting my hair.  She told me that after our talk, she went home and told everything to her husband.  I thought to myself, “This will be interesting.”  So, I said to her, “what did he say?”   She said, “he said I was preaching at him!?”

Well of course she was.  Can you imagine coming home for dinner and hearing this:  “Hey honey… I need to tell you something….”  First, “You aren’t made happy by what you acquire, but by what you appreciate.”  “It isn’t that you have nothing to be thankful for, but that you have no one to be grateful to.”  “You aren’t held captive by what you do, but instead by a sin that controls you.”  “The only hope you have of getting rid of this sin is a Savior…and that savior is Jesus Christ.”

Was he ready to hear this?  No.  Why was she?  She had stated a cry of the heart when she told her coworker, “There has to be more to life than this.”  That was my way into the game.  The husband on the other hand was just trying to eat.  We need to be very mindful when we talk to people—and actually listen to what they say—to know when to engage them with the Gospel.

Now, I bring that up to show you how the gospel can be effectively communicated without causing a media imbroglio.  I think the left and seculars in general could take note from such a conversation. I don’t know that what Dungy said is any more offensive than the conversation I had with the woman.  He was asked a question and he responded.  Had he refused to respond, he would have been accused of not lending his moral authority to such an important issue in the NFL.

It brings up the issue of tolerance.  Tolerance as properly defined means existing in peace with those who you disagree with.  It has nothing to do with condoning, celebrating, or affirming.  Instead, what it is about is:  People are equal, ideas aren’t.  Because I see all people as equal, and ideas on a merit based plane, I am able to coexist with those whom I disagree.  I engage with their ideas—I do not engage them as people.  A good understanding of tolerance is:  “Gross.  You actually engage in that?  That is disgusting.  I cannot support such egregious behavior, BUT, I am not going to infringe on your rights to do that as long as you don’t infringe on mine.”  That is a textbook understanding of tolerance.

The problem is, tolerance has been redefined to mean, “You cannot disagree with anyone.”  There is a problem.  In saying, “You cannot disagree with anyone,” you are disagreeing with those who say, “You can disagree with anyone.”  It is a self-defeating proposition—it is meaningless.

Can we live in a fully tolerant, free, and just society?  Can those three coexist IF tolerance is defined in this new way?  No.  For justice to occur there will be disagreement.  For disagreement to occur there must be freedom.  For freedom to occur there must be the right to disagree and justice must exist.  If disagreement exists, then the new tolerance cannot exist in a free society.  Or to say it more poignantly, if the new tolerance exists, then there can be no true freedom.

I may disagree with you, but support your right to state your beliefs—that doesn’t mean I support your beliefs.  That doesn’t mean I celebrate them.  That doesn’t mean I would draft you.

 

What may be the most troubling is this:  “Thank God he wasn’t the coach of the St. Louis Rams…And like everyone in America, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.”  Michael Sam is right.  The problem is, there is a priestly class in America who do not really live by that philosophy.

What the media is really saying is, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but we do not agree that all people are equal—and some people should keep their mouths shut.”

Dan Graziano from ESPN said this:  “I’m not here to call Tony Dungy a bigot or to dispute his right to say what he wants to say. My point here is that Dungy has a platform and that his words matter to those who work in and follow the NFL. And on an issue such as this, it’s important for a person in Dungy’s position to understand that and to think about the impact his words have on the world at large. Again, he’s welcome to his opinion. He just needs to remember how many people are listening to it.”

He isn’t disputing his right to say it, but he NEEDS to remember how many people are listening.  Where does this moral objectivity come from?  Dungy NEEDS to…?  I have seen other articles that say, Dungy SHOULD refrain…or Dungy SHOULD have kept his mouth shut…

What gives them the right to stand on this moral platform?  If the fringe religious right and their claim to truth is absurd and dubious—then from what entity do we (read ‘they’) draw objective moral truths and duties?  Those are the questions we should be asking—before it is too late.

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Do Homosexuals Go to Heaven? Why this is a bad question

One question the Christian will have to field in todays culture is: “Do homosexuals go to heaven?” Now—here is the thing we must investigate if we are going to be any good at reaching the culture—why would someone ask this question?

I can think of 11 reasons why someone might ask this:

1. They want to know what sort of person I am—they want to see what my initial answer is–this is a litmus test question.
2. They are a homosexual, or may know someone who is—and maybe they want to know how to answer them.
3. They want Christianity to look bad.
4. They want to prove that the Christian God is unloving toward some types of people.
5. They are trying to get a list of the things that are deal breakers for salvation.
6. They have a problem with autonomy.
7. Maybe they want a hopeful answer.
8. Maybe they are caught up in a promiscuous lifestyle and want to know what to do about it.
9. Maybe they are hurt or confused and want help.
10. They want to know if there is someone out there who loves them regardless of what they do.
11. Maybe they are reflecting the culture. Maybe they see this as a question to make me stop talking and run for the hills.

When people in the secular culture ask about homosexuality and Christianity, and how they can coexist, they aren’t really asking about whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong.  It is deeper. They are asking something that lays much deeper than this question, but rarely will they ask it outright. There is an assumption that lies far beneath the question that we must address.  If we do not address it, we will get nowhere–very fast. Someone once asked a rabbi, “Rabbi, why do you always answer a question with a question?” To which he replied, “Why shouldn’t I answer a question with a question?”  There is something here to consider.   Notice when Jesus converses with the skeptics, he always asks questions.  We must be willing to see the questioner and not the surface layer of their question.  There is more there than just giving answers.  We aren’t answering questions to be defensive, or to win a philosophical debate.  We aren’t answering questions at all.  We are answering the questioner.

See, the problem with the way many understand apologetics today—is they think that to give an “Apologia” is a defensive act. This is absurd. Apologetics are inherently evangelistic. You could say Apologetics and Evangelism are different sides of the same coin.  Too many people think that apologetics means that you evangelize them and then you apologize for it afterward.
I am a guy who is very concerned with questions. I love answering questions, and I love asking them. But here is a rule of thumb that I live by: “If you give the right answer to the wrong question, it is still the wrong answer.”

Now, the question, “Can homosexuals go to heaven” is the wrong question.  We cannot answer it without causing an argument.  It is a bit like a game I played as a kid. I would go up to kids on the playground and ask them if their mother knew they were stupid. If they replied, “yes,” then they were stupid and their mother knew. If they replied, “no,” then they were stupid and their mother didn’t know. If they refused to answer or said, “I don’t know,” then they were so stupid they didn’t understand the question. This is called the fallacy of faulty dilemma. You know the Bible displays every form of logical fallacy? Jesus faced every form of logical fallacy known. In fact, you could teach logic and use nothing for your text except the Gospels.

Sometimes Christians answer by saying something theological.  What about the statement, “love the sinner, but hate the sin?”  Is this a proper way to look at the issue they are raising?  I think we have to keep in mind the question of identity. The problem with this line when talking to homosexuals is this—it isn’t about just the fact that they don’t see homosexuality as sin—it is deeper. For evangelicals, “sin vs. sinner” makes the clear distinction between who someone is and what someone does.  This would be the difference between their ontological existence and their personal essence.  This is the difference between brute biology and epistemological knowledge about who we are.   When someone says, “I am a homosexual,” they are admitting to you that their very identity is informed by what he does. Today’s culture has been inculcated with too much Wittgenstein, Sartre, and Camus to have a firm grasp on this misunderstanding of reality.  You can look at it this way–In Philosophy, around the enlightenment, it became clear that all reality lay in one realm.  You could call this a lower level.  With this pure description of reality based on reason alone, there was no secular hope.  What happened next?  Well, man–who denied God invented a irrational leap toward a non-rational upper level.  This is exactly what Sartre speaks about in Nausea.  Reality doesn’t function at two levels–this is a major problem with this way of thinking.  Reality functions as one.  This is what we mean when we say “unity in diversity.”

You see—the homosexual question is really a question of identity.  The rational verses the irrational view of the self.   When the gay lobby asks this question (Can homosexuals go to heaven), they aren’t really saying “am I allowed to do this?” they are saying, “am I allowed to be ME?” When the answer is, “No,” they don’t hear, “You cant do this.” They hear, “you don’t have the right to exist.” With this fundamental misunderstanding of personhood, I can easily see why someone would feel very threatened when they hear me answer, “No.”  We must be sympathetic to this.

Culture has indeed lost its understanding of what identity is.  How can we expect them to understand identity when they don’t even posit the unified reality of spirituality and the world of reason?

There is also the question of fulfillment. Now, of course, no Christians ever fall into the trap of thinking that they can be more fulfilled in life by sleeping with someone before marriage, commit adultery, or engage in pornography or sexual activity, right? (sarcasm)—truth is, we are all sinners, and all sexual sin is wrong. On another note—why is it that the same feminists who were arguing to be treated as a humans and stood shoulder to shoulder with Billy Graham in the 60’s and 70’s now wear shirts that say, “I am a porn star?”
The thing is—we also live in the culture. This has unfortunately affected the Church as well. If you are single, something must be “wrong with you.” If this is true, Mother Theresa must have been very unfulfilled. Now—im joking—but this raises the question:
“Can I ever find fulfillment if I am not allowed to do this or that?”  This is a powerful issue.   Look, if I said, “Hi my name is John White and I am a heterosexual. I’m happy to meet you…”—If this were a badge I wore, this would be strange right? Yet, when it comes to homosexuality, it is suddenly not strange.  Why is that?  We must ask, Is there more to us than our sexual proclivity?

We must make a distinction between “being” and “doing.” As humans were are more than this.

I was asked this question one time while talking to youth (“can I go to heaven if gay?”). Now, the questioner didn’t like my reply—he retorted with, “I didn’t choose to be this way and He (God) made me this way.”  Now—I think it is incredibly disingenuous to assert that Christians are alone in their disputation of the idea that people are gay by “nature” or that sexual proclivity is pre-determined.  Have you read Peter Tatchell, the outspoken gay rights guy?  It is interesting that a gay activist would condemn any search for a gay gene as  “the flawed theory which claims a genetic causation for homosexuality.”  Consider what liberal activist and author of the brilliant book, Sexual Personae Camille Paglia has said: “No one is born gay. The idea is ridiculous. Homosexuality is an adaptation, not an inborn trait.”

Mainstream opinion is that we may be genetically inclined to all sorts of behavior but it does not mean we have no control over all those different issues. Just look at the life of Henri Nouwen. He was a longtime professor at an Ivy League institution, and while viewing Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal Son–he made the decision to leave his professorship and move to Canada–to help the mentally impaired.  He knew that calling was more important than biological existence.  He never fulfilled the desires of his sexual proclivity—why? Because of Christ. He knew that who he was is different from what he did.

Now—the Gospel clearly says that no one can change themselves—we cannot do it, no matter how hard we try. BUT, for us what is impossible may be possible with God. If there is a way out of this lifestyle, somehow, God needs to bear some of the responsibility in bringing change.

Now—a friend of mine was doing a lecture and a guy who asked him a similar question was the head of a “Christian Gay-Lesbian” movement on a college campus and due to the answers of my friend (basically what I have said thus far) the young man said that this was the first time he had not got up and walked away in the middle of answers given at a Christian meeting.

His area of concern was that, “I cannot help myself…It’s my nature.”

You know there is a reason why porn is made free on the internet right? Autopsies done on homosexual men found that a lobe within their brains was very well-developed. Brain is like musculature that can be trained and also stimulated. Brain will eventually crave stimulation when it ceases to be exercised. Take a less controversial area like porn—people feel powerless and they cannot stop. The reason it is made free on the net is because if you can get people hooked on it at a young age with specific images and patterns, they will not be able to break free easily. It takes 9 years for the brain to go back to normal. That means if you have people locked in a certain pattern of behavior, either (A) they are going to need the healing of the brain equivalent to that of a shriveled hand OR (B) they are going to be on a path of spiritual warfare for 9 years – you can’t do it alone this is why church is important, but also why it is catastrophic when church life has become so superficial, that people feel they can no longer share with The Church things they are wrestling with because they have to pretend they are better than they really are to be accepted. Many Churches today are poor with discipleship and poor at communicating at people that “we are in the long haul with you on this.”

I don’t think “right or wrong” is the hard part to address in this problem. The homosexual community is segmented in their beliefs just like the Christian community is. I think we can safely say to the person struggling with homosexuality that within the teaching of the Bible, homosexuality is a lifestyle neither endorsed of nor approved of for the reason that marriage exists between a man and woman in the Christian sense.

What I have found is that secular homosexuals will accept this—while Christian homosexuals reject it vehemently.

It gets deeper, however.

We may hear this question:  “If Christians are supposed to love everyone, why do they hate homosexuals?”

It is like here in America, and in the West at large, we can never get away from the entire sex issue.  Our newspapers and tabloids and even televised media are full of the sordid details of the affairs of celebrities—while the church is presented as “out of date” or unapologetically “bigoted” at any point where it seeks to uphold Jesus and his teaching on morality.  It seems like we in our culture are coming from such different perspectives.  How do we even begin to address these issues?  I think one place to start is to realize that many people (as I said in the previous posts) see their identity defined by what they do sexually.  You could say that the culture does not understand in any meaningful way the differences between ontological existence and essence.

So the first major question:  Do Christians hate homosexuals?  To be truthful, it is right to acknowledge that some people who call themselves Christians have acted hatefully toward gays, and I would be the first to express my sorrow toward the victim of this hate and to repudiate this behavior by the self-proclaimed Christian.  I have come across numerous people who are in the church, but are struggling and grappling with the issue of sexual identity, and feel that they have been hurt or ostracized in some way by the church.  I endeavor to always keep this in mind when dealing with people as I present what the Bible says about the practice of homosexuality—I always try to keep in mind that this is sensitive ground—but essential.  I think the best answer to the question is to say that Christians should love people in the gay community.


The next permutation of the question is to say—“yeah, but if you don’t hate homosexuals, aren’t you a bigot to say that it is morally wrong to engage in homosexual activity?”  This is one of the first questions I encounter when talking to a gay person—and honestly it can be quite a serious barrier to someone taking an investigation of the gospel to a deeper level.  What is a bigot?  It is a person who is intolerant of the views of others.  Is this true of the Christian faith at large?  In my opinion, it doesn’t have to be.  I can speak for Christendom when I say, Christians are prepared to tolerate other people and their views—BUT—this doesn’t in any way mean that Christians have to agree with those views.  What does the word tolerate imply?  Simply that if you tolerate something you don’t agree with it—rather, you put up with it and respect the other person and their right to express that view that you disagree with.  If I agreed with their view, there would be nothing left to tolerate.

If you were to take me out to dinner and I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu—and you paid for it all—what would you say if you overheard me talking to someone later and I said of our dinner, “I tolerated it.  James was tolerable.  I tolerated him.”?  I don’t know anyone who wants to be tolerated.  I do know many people who want to be respected.  The Christian ideal says that people are equal but ideas are not.  This runs counter to the secular narrative which says all ideas are equal, but all people are not.  If in fact all ideas are equal, then that statement is false—because the statement, “all ideas are not equal” is excluded necessarily from being equal.

So—the next issue—if we aren’t bigots stuck in the middle ages—isn’t it about time that we as Bible believing Christians caught up with society and quit being stuff shirts?  The homosexual will often note that the texts in the Scripture which speak against homosexual practice should be taken as being in a particular cultural context with is completely irrelevant to a western liberal society.   Really?  It is argued here that in a society where homosexual partnerships are culturally acceptable—the Biblical texts simply do not apply.  They are outdated and because of such—the church should catch up to the “moral evolution” of society…

The problem with this is that what lays directly behind this idea is that the Bible was composed in a context that was equivalent to the Victorian era in Britain where any sex outside of marriage was repudiated.  This is absurd.  Homosexuality was widely and rampantly practiced in the Roman Empire as well as the Greek civilization. The practice of homosexuality was often seen as an integral part of a young boy’s education.  Now, some Roman writers may have protested against the sexual abuse of slaves—but the fact is—where it was consensual, homosexual practice was celebrated.  This is the context in which the New Testament was composed.  Now—if the scripture is not fully conditioned by culture and dependent upon a moralism outside of themselves, what are they actually saying?  It is also interesting that the Old Testament was composed in a similar predicament.  The Canaanite and Assyrian civilizations around Israel accepted homosexual practice—and yet several OT texts rule out homosexual practice as a lifestyle choice for Hebrews.  I can hear the objection now—“But what about wearing clothes of mixed fibers and eating shellfish?”  Well the fact that these prohibitions were lifted come down to Jesus’ claims to have fulfilled the law.  The New Testament upholds the moral law in both Jesus teaching and the teaching of the other apostles.  Now, I can see how the secular culture would see it arbitrary to hold onto some of the OT and not to others—but for Christians—we do this because of Jesus teaching and the entirety of the teaching of the New Testament.

It is clear that the practice of same-sex activity is not unique to Western Culture in the 20th and 21st centuries.  What is unique to our current day is the view that people are by “nature” homosexual.  The next question posed would be, “How can a loving God deny people the right to be who they are by nature?”  So—we are back at identity 101.  What makes me what I am?  This is the real issue of disagreement.   This is the point of tension. The Christian individual is not defined by sexual proclivity or activity.  I affirm that this may be a portion of our expression of ourselves, but it is not the ultimate definition of our nature.  The Bible says we are created in the image of God and that life is precious.   The individual has significance and full dignity just by being human.  This may sound simplistic, but however we behave and whatever our proclivities we are precious.

I do not propose to have all the answers.  This is a difficult issue.  I am simply noting that there are likely a whole range of factors that together make up sexual orientation—these can be environmental, hormonal, possibly biological conditions, and behavioral conditions.  The point is that people despite their proclivities, have the ability to make choices.  As a Christian who takes a strong view on Scripture I would want to affirm the full dignity of every person but also make a clear differentiation between personhood and the behavior of a person.

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Does Sin Exist?

We live in period of history in which nothing is wrong, well except to claim unequivocally that there is such a thing as wrong.  We live in a society that that feels that nothing is off limits, well except the idea that there are things that are off limits.  We happen to live in a world that dogmatically asserts that what we do is what we are wired to do.  That is, in the words of Richard Dawkins, it is our DNA that dictates what we do, “and we just dance to its music.”  We have moved a long way from Flip Wilson’s, “The devil made me do it.”  Now, we are prisoners of our own material body.  My DNA made me do it!

Before you you go believing this rubbish, let me just plant a word of doubt and skepticism in your mind (and yes you can be skeptical of the self styled freethinking skeptics).  When someone says that you are pre-wired to behave a certain way based on your DNA or molecular makeup, what they are saying is:  You are determined.  Determinism is the view that there is no free will and that we are captive to time, matter, and chance.  In a sense, it is the belief that Darwinian evolution is in business, and it will do what it likes–including controlling your behavior and thoughts.  Here is the problem.  If one holds to determinism, by definition, they did not come to hold this view based on weighing the pro’s and con’s for the argument.  They weren’t persuaded rationally to believe that determinism is true.  Instead, determinism would purport that they just hold the view because they were determined to do so.  If we are determined to do the things we do and believe the things we believe, how can we rationally affirm anything?  How can determinism be rationally affirmed if we are predetermined to believe it?

Don’t buy this stuff. Well, that is, if you are determined not to buy it, don’t buy it.  If you are determined to buy it, you have no choice. (please sense the sarcasm)

 


 

Now, the more interesting question is,does sin exist? Is man by nature good, or is man evil? These are questions that must be answered.  And trust me, regardless what worldview a person holds–whether they are a theist, atheist–whatever–they have a position on these issues.

Consider a story:

“Two brothers were notorious around town for being as crooked in their business dealings as they could possibly be. That notwithstanding, they continued to progress from wealth to greater wealth until suddenly one of the brothers died. The surviving brother found himself in search of a minister who would be willing to put the finishing touches to the funeral. He finally made an offer to a minister that was hard for him to refuse. “I will pay you a great sum, he said, “if you will just do me one favor. In eulogizing my brother, I want you to call him a ‘saint,’ and if you do, I will give you a handsome reward.” The minister, a shrewd pragmatist, agreed to comply. Why not? The money could help put a new roof on the church.

When the funeral service began, the sanctuary was filled by all the important business associates who had been swindled through the years by these two brothers. Unaware of the deal that had been made for the eulogy, they were expecting to be vindicated by the public exposure of the man’s character.

At last the much-awaited moment arrived, and the minister spoke. “The man you see in the coffin was a vile and debauched individual. He was a liar, a thief, a deceiver, a manipulator, a reprobate, and a hedonist. He destroyed the fortunes, careers, and lives of countless people in this city, some of whom are here today. This man did every dirty, rotten, unconscionable thing you can think of. But compared to his brother here, he was a saint.”

Every group of students I tell this joke to laugh out loud.  Why?  What is it about this story that resonates with all who hear it, regardless of cultural background or place of birth? Why can a stadium of people hear this story through their respective linguistic interpreter, and all at once let out a seismic roar of laughter at the punch line? The answer is quite simple. We are all aware of what man can be at his worst. We know the evil that resides within all of us and what it can do if allowed to prevail. If this was not a common understanding, there would be no laughter. Am I wrong?

I am reminded of the great English journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, who wrote in the first volume of his two-volume biography, a story that dealt with sin.

Working as a journalist in India, he left his residence one evening to go to a nearby river for a swim. As he entered the water, across the river he saw an Indian woman from the nearby village who had come to have her bath. Muggeridge impulsively felt the allurement of the moment, and temptation stormed into his mind. He had lived with this kind of struggle for years but had somehow fought it off in honor of his commitment to his wife, Kitty. On this occasion, however, he wondered if he could cross the line of marital fidelity. He struggled just for a moment and then swam furiously toward the woman, literally trying to outdistance his conscience. His mind fed him the fantasy that stolen waters would be sweet, and he swam the harder for it. Now he was just two or three feet away from her, and as he emerged from the water, any emotion that may have gripped him paled into insignificance when compared with the devastation that shattered him as he looked at her.  Muggeridge writes:

“She came to the river and took off her clothes and stood naked, her brown body just caught by the sun.  I suddenly went mad.  There came to me that dryness in the back of my throat; that feeling of cruelty and strength and wild unreasonableness which is called passion.  I darted with all the force of swimming I had to where she was, and then nearly fainted for she was old and hideous and her feet were deformed and turned inwards and her skin was wrinkled and, worst of all, she was a leper.  You have never seen a leper I suppose; until you have seen one you do not know the worst that human ugliness can be.  This creature grinned at me, showing a toothless mask, and the next thing I knew was that I was swimming along in my old way in the middle of the stream—yet trembling…It was the kind of lesson I needed.  When I think of lust now I think of this lecherous woman.” 

The experience left Muggeridge trembling and muttering under his breath, “What a dirty lecherous woman!” But then the rude shock of it dawned upon him—it was not the woman who was lecherous; it was his own heart.  He was the lecher.

Muggeridge himself admitted the real shock that morning was not the leper, as mind-banding as that would be. Rather, it was the condition of his own heart, dark, with appetites overpowering his weak will. He writes,

“If only I could paint, I’d make a wonderful picture of a passionate boy running after that and call it: ‘The lusts of the flesh.’”

Muggeridge, who was himself a latecomer to the faith, would go one to say,

“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”

Are instances like this reserved for the elite caste of the most lecherous and morally repugnant individuals in society? Hardly. Think back to the great figures we know from the Bible. David, a man after God’s own heart. He let sin overcome him and it let to lust, immorality, deceit, murder, prevarication, and dishonor. Why? All because of sin that was not dealt with properly. Think of King Saul. Perhaps Saul is a man who could have been the greatest King to ever live. What was his problem? Pride. He could not stand the fact that David had slain the giant, and as a result the songs were being sung about him, and not himself. This sin led to problems. Remember Jonah? His sin of disobedience didn’t only affect him, it affected all of the other men on board the ship!  If you remember, it took the pagan captain of the ship to get Jonah to pray to God!  You know things are messed up when sin takes control of your life to the point that unbelievers are willing to ask YOU to try God out.

I was once talking to a woman about the Christian view of the world, and she admitted,

“Being a woman about to give birth, I do wonder to myself how anyone could bring a baby into such an evil world.”

I responded to her,

“You are right about the evil out there, but what about the evil in us–in you?”

You know, the Bible refers to sin not only as being something that we do, but also as a power that controls and consumes us.  It isn’t that we do sinful things, but rather, that we are sinful.

Sin is a problem!

 


 

Fast forward to our modern age. Sin has become a problem “no more.” Sin is now seen by the postmodernists, liberals, and relativists as merely a concoction and archaic holdover from fundamental Christian dogmas.  Jacques Derrida, Michael Foucault, and their ilk will tell you there there is no absolute truth (though didn’t they just state an absolute in making their claim?). There is no absolute truth; so, how could there be something called sin?  It was Foucault who noted,

‘To die for the love of boys: what could be more beautiful?’

and,

‘all the rest of my life I’ve been trying to do intellectual things that would attract beautiful boys.’

 

Isnt it a shame that a man could admit these things, but his biographer only refer to them as the “passions of Foucault?”  This isn’t passion, this is depravity.

 

This refusal of sin as a reality affects more than just sexual freedom, however.

C.E.M. Joad once noted that

“It is because we rejected the doctrine of original sin that we on the [political] Left were always being disappointed”

Unfortunately for the Left,  this is right (pun intended).  Why is it that we can erect all-powerful legislation and control the lives of all citizens, yet still stand in complete shock when something tragic happens at the hands of human beings?  I posit that it doesn’t matter how many laws are instituted.  If man doesn’t realize that sin is real, and that evil is a reality, then I agree with Dr. Johnson who lamented:

“All the laws of heaven and earth are insufficient to restrain them from their crimes.”

 

I think G.K. Chesterton can teach us a few things when it comes to this issue of objective sin.  First of all, objective morals do exist.  Chesterton once noted that,

“Though we may differ over whether or not abortion is virtuous, we all agree that they should be performed with sterilized instruments.”

That quote may seem a bit harsh, but think about it.  Two people may disagree over the virtue of abortion–that is to say, whether it is right or wrong.  What they do not disagree over is the medical necessity of universal precautions.  Why are precautions universal if there werent a moral mandate to take care of the patient because–well–life matters?

This is the essence of the medical mistake.

G.K. Chesterton taught us that in medicine we all agree on what a well person is, but disagree on what sick is. In social and political theory however, we agree on what a malady looks like, but tear our eyes out over what a well-functioning society looks like.  The problem is, politicians and social critics continually use medical terminology to talk about social issues–“The health care situation in this country is sick.  It needs to be reformed.”  OR  “The country is sick–vote for my policies, and we can return it to health.”  This is a fallacy says Chesterton.  How can they talk about what ‘well’ is in absolute terms, if the idea of well is the most disputed issue in all of academia?  Only in medicine can this terminology be used.   It is a fact that a man may have pain in his leg and walk into a hospital, and due to medical necessity, come out with one leg less. Never will that man walk into a hospital and in a moment of creative rapture, walk out of the hospital, having being given one leg more.

Absolutes do exit.  Wrong exits.  Good exists.  We just refuse to say what it is.

I believe that Oliver Sacks, an M.D. who is no Christian said it best in his blockbuster book, Awakenings:

“For all of us have a basic, intuitive feeling that once we were whole and well; at ease, at peace, at home in the world; totally united with the grounds of our being; and that then we lost this primal, happy, innocent state, and fell into our present sickness and suffering. We had something of infinite beauty and preciousness-and we lost it; we spend our lives searching for what we have lost; and one day, perhaps, we will suddenly find it. And this will be the miracle, the millennium !”

Did you understand that?  Isn’t that interesting?  Billions of dollars have been spent on research–and here we are–stuck at Genesis 3.

Along those lines, here is an interesting quote from the renowned professor of psychology; and one time president of the American Psychological Association, Hobart Mowrer. This man was also an atheist who took his own life in his seventies:

“For several decades we psychologists looked upon the whole matter of sin and moral accountability as a great incubus and acclaimed our liberation from it as epoch making. But at length we have discovered that to be free in this sense, that is, to have the excuse of being sick rather than sinful, is to court the danger of also becoming lost… In becoming amoral, ethically neutral and free, we have cut the very roots of our being, lost our deepest sense of selfhood and identity, and with neurotics, themselves, we find ourselves asking, “Who am I, what is my deepest destiny, what does living mean?”

What is the solution?  The modern man has a solution for what the archaic man calls sin. That solution is education.  Notice that the boundaries of this debate are enforced by the self styled intellectual caste.  Is this really the way things should be?  Wasn’t Oliver Wendell Holmes correct when he stated, “The life of the law is logic not experience”?

Contrary to the beliefs of modern utopianists, education does not change the way people behave. This has been exemplified by various instances of white collar crime where ivy league university graduates are the ones committing the crimes. What then is the difference between the common street criminal and the thoroughly educated high class criminal? Method and magnitude! The common street criminal will employ crude weapons to steal a car from the other end of town. The educated criminal will employ his academic degrees to gain prominence and steal millions of dollars from the corporation that he runs. The uneducated criminal will break into a house and rape a woman. The educated criminal will use position and power to rape a nation.

As D.L. Moody put it,

“If a man is stealing nuts and bolts from a railway track, and, in order to change him, you send him to college, at the end of his education, he will steal the whole railway track.”

It is a snobbish assumption that the ignorant are the dangerous criminals. The most dangerous criminal is the educated criminal. All education does is to make the criminal more sophisticated.

The only solution to sin can be found in the person of Christ. Listen to what an the avowed skeptic, E.H. Lecky had to say on the matter:

“It was reserved for Christianity to present to the world an ideal character, which through all the changes of eighteen centuries has inspired the hearts of men with an impassioned love; has shown itself capable of acting on all ages, nations, temperaments, and conditions; has not been only the highest pattern of virtue, but also the strongest incentive to its practice; and has exercised so deep an influence that it may be truly said that the simple record of three short years of active life has done more to regenerate and to soften mankind than all the disquisitions of philosophers and all the exhortions of moralists.”

G.K. Chesterton said that original sin is as “practical as potatoes.” We may try to deny it, overlook it, or re-describe it, but the fact remains. We are capable of many kinds of evil. The diseases of the body are not nearly as hideous and grotesque as the diseases of the soul.

It is not merely external behaviors that vex our souls, but our internal intentions as well. Jesus explained this clearly when he said that if we lust after a woman we commit adultery with her in our hearts; that if we are unforgiving of our brother, it is like murdering him. Jesus brings ethics from the social sphere to the personal one by showing how intentions can be just as wicked as actions.

Have we taken stock of our soul recently? Have we sensed the nuances of evil in our own hearts? We need to stand guard today, and every day, with humility that we are capable of terrible evil. And at the same time, we need to avoid those things that draw us into it. Sin starts at the heart level and works its way outward.

Comparatively, leprosy on the body is not nearly as ugly as the pockmarks of sin on the soul. The good news is that Christ has broken the power of both and asks us to begin eternity now by building a soul in this world appropriate for our glorified body in the next.

How do we find the answers?  What worldview gives us a hope? Ravi Zacharias gives us an interesting method:

First, there are 3 tests that a worldview must pass.  It must be:  1)Logically consistent (its teachings cannot be self-contradictory), 2)Empirically Adequate (its teachings must match with what we see in reality, 3) experientially relevant (its teaching must speak directly to how we actually live our lives.

Second, each worldview must address the following four ultimate questions:  1)Origin (where do the universe and human beings come from?), 2)Meaning (What is the meaning or purpose of life?), 3) Morality (how do we know what is right and what is wrong?), 4) Destiny (What happens to us after we die?)

Third, there are five academic disciplines that must be employed to comprehensively study a worldview:  1) Theology (the study of God), 2)Metaphysics (the study of what is ultimately real), 3)Epistemology (the study of how we can know things), 4) Ethics (the study of moral right and wrong), 5) Anthropology (the study of what and who humans are).

You will find that only a worldview based upon God and through a relationship with the person of Christ will one view hold up to this test.  But, don’t take my word for it.  Do your own work.  Try it.

Joseph Damien was a missionary in the 19th century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii.  Those suffering grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived our before them.  But even he did not know the price he would pay.  One morning before he was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot.  It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation.  Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more boiling water on the same spot.  No feeling whatsoever.

Damien immediately diagnosed the problem.  As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line.  He normally began every sermon with, “my fellow believers.”  But this morning he began with, “My fellow lepers.”

In a greater measure, Jesus came into the world knowing what it would cost Him.  He bore in His pure being the marks of evil, that we might be made pure.  “For this I came into the world,” he said (John 18:37).

The gospel points to the person of Christ who went to the cross, not just to transform the Jeffrey Dahmers and the money-grabbers behind the scenes, but to renew even those whose self-righteousness blinds them to their own need.  It wasn’t just the prodigal who squandered the fathers love, it was also the older brother—for he was so close to the fathers love the whole time.

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