Who sez?

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Recently I saw some statistics that indicated a relatively high number of young evangelicals who favored gay marriage. Their rational appeared to be based on fuzzy emotion and statements like, “as long as two people love each other.”

There are numerous problems with the statement and the sentiment behind it but I find it interesting and a little amusing that the person holding to this view has no problem setting the pre-condition of love to affirm the gay marriage. I mean really, like who sez there need be any pre-condition at all?

As a pastoral counselor I also run across this notion among young evangelicals (professing Christians) who seek to justify living together before marriage. When confronted with the biblical standard that marriage is a prerequisite for sex you might hear this or a variation of it; “we reject the traditional interpretation of that and have our own interpretation” thank you very much.

It would be inaccurate to describe this problem as peculiar to young evangelicals since finding an interpretation of Scripture that fits one’s wants and desires is not all that difficult. Scripture twisting of the evil kind and of the bumbling kind have been around as long as there has been, well Scripture.

In Matthew 5 Jesus over turns erroneous interpretations of Scripture by saying, “but I say unto you” six times. In each case he is more concerned about the heart, the control center of each person than he is with the outward behavior. For example:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.(Matthew 5:27-28 ESV)

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contain...

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contains the incipit Liber generationis of the Gospel of Matthew. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biblically defined, adultery is sex with someone other than your spouse. A man\woman relationship is in view if you observe the pronouns Jesus uses.

Lustful intent is, well, the lustful intent\desire to have sex with someone other than your spouse.

The what of the sin is adultery while the why of the sin is the lustful intent of the heart that demands inappropriate pleasure.

This is not exactly “in-depth” teaching that I’ve laid out here. I wonder though how much in-depth teaching the above young evangelicals have had that they could so easily disregard with contempt, “traditional interpretations” of Holy Scripture?

My two cents on the problem is two-fold, 1) poor or weak teaching from many a pulpit and 2) the heart’s demands that we battle against that often win when the “who sez” question is internally asked.

Sadly, “I sez” seems to be more compelling than God sez with a growing number of young evangelicals.

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What is Pluralism and its Application to Islam?

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Through my other blog that is titled, History Stuff that Interests Me, I have made some friends around the world and some of them are from Western Europe that like the US have significant Moslem populations.

Today one fellow blogger, an American who is married to a German and lives there, posted this image on her blog:

religion-of-peace

The image was in reference to a Moslem riot in Sweden and yesterday’s murder of a British soldier in London by two Moslem jihadists.

I also noticed today that two of my European friends were having a discussion on FB regarding the murder of the British soldier and they were accused of racism and bigotry simply because they were objecting to the pc attitudes prevalent in their countries (Britain and Germany).

No doubt the blogger will soon be subjected to the “all Moslems are not like that” routine that follows each jihadist attack just as my two European friends were (not one racist and bigoted comment was noted by me by either of them).

That’s about how it goes in this country as well. Say something remotely critical of Islam and you are labeled a racist or bigot or both, end of discussion.

No fair-minded person would hold all responsible for the actions of the few but that kind of argument fails to identify why there are jihadists in the first place and what are their ultimate goals..

The western nations have evolved politically to embrace pluralism.  The online Free Dictionary defines pluralism like this:

a. A condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.
b. The belief that such a condition is desirable or socially beneficial.
In the wake of the Reformation Europe fought many wars, notably the Thirty Years War, that had religious ramifications. One of the results of the Thirty Years War was a drift, at times a slow drift toward pluralism.One the tenets of the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years War is that each prince could determine the religion of their own state. The choices were limited to Catholicism, Lutheranism and Calvinism. While it does not seem like much today, at the time it was a significant step toward religious pluralism.
Europe at the end of the Thirty Years War, 1648. In green is the Ottoman Empire turned back at Vienna, 1683.

Europe at the end of the Thirty Years War, 1648. In green is the Ottoman Empire turned back at Vienna, 1683.

Our own country enshrined freedom of religion in our Constitution and did away with State run churches in an effort to be pluralistic. As a result of these movements and historical events most of the west is pluralistic in outlook and content as a whole to live and let live in a sort of melting pot of cultures and faiths.
Do I think most Moslems are content to live and let live? Yeah, probably, but the minority that seeks to establish sharia in the western countries and use jihad (the passive and aggressive varieties) do not. Pluralism is not something they can accept because they believe their version of the Islamic faith will not allow that kind of tolerance. It’s not really any more complicated than that.
It’s also worth noting that every time there is a jihadist attack Moslem leaders in general are relatively silent, so silent, it’s deafening.
Why is this?
I can think of two reasons off the top of my head.
One is fear, fear that if you are not for us you are against us. The jihadists are ruthless as we’ve seen time and time again. Unless it would serve their political purposes to speak out the jihadists would have no problem killing off their own. Note how Moslems who convert to Christianity are treated.
Secondly, I think it would be unwise to assume that many mainstream Moslems are not at least sympathetic to jihadist and sharia ultimate goals. They might reject the violence to get there for a host of reasons but we would foolish to ignore that many think sharia is a good thing even in the west.
As  an American I believe the war on terror is ultimately a war on those who reject western notions of pluralism and would rather live like Iran or Afghanistan under the Taliban.
As a Christian, I see Islam in general as slavery and antithetical to the Gospel of Grace and what freedom in Christ means and does not mean.
The war is a war on ideas because ideas have consequences.

Infanticide

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From my study of ancient history I knew that infanticide was common. Simply put, infanticide is the intentional killing of a newly born infant.

It was done various reasons such religious sacrifice (Babylonia, Carthage), sex-selection (Greece and China with males being preferred), poverty (many cultures), postpartum birth control (Arabia before Islam) or simply not wanting the child. In fact most cultures practiced infanticide of one form or another. Notable exceptions include ancient Egypt and Judea.

Although the practice continued in many places Christianity was the driving force (Constantine made it a crime in 318 A.D.) that ended the practice or drove it far underground.

Abortion on the other hand was also common. Abortion is the killing of an infant yet not born. Christianity saw infanticide and abortion as the same thing and thought it barbaric (do not murder a child by abortion or kill a new-born infant. Didache-150 A.D.).

My reason for this brief history lesson on infanticide and abortion is to comment on the logic of Kermit Gosnell who was recently convicted of the infanticide (technically neonaticide, the killing of an infant within 24 hours of birth) of three babies who survived a botched abortion.

One aspect of the case that caught my attention was the report that 9 of 12 jurors were pro-choice, that is for abortion but apparently not for infanticide. While I am grateful for their twist on logic I’m convinced they have made a distinction without making a difference.

Gosnell’s logic was what’s the difference if the baby dies from the abortion (still inside the womb) or dies being snipped minutes after exiting the womb?

The issue cuts to the heart of the abortion debate. The culture is confused and as we’ve seen from the Gosnell case inconsistent.

Apparently, it is less horrifying and barbaric to kill a baby inside the womb than it is to kill it outside the womb just because it managed to survive a botched killing inside.

This is what happens when man’s law triumphs over what God has to say.

The “Church of Anything Goes”

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FEMEN is a female political action group based in the Ukraine noted primarily for making their views known by running around topless. Slogans are painted on their uncovered chests and their mode of operation seems to be loud and obnoxious.

Recently they disrupted a meeting between Germany’s Merkel and Russia’s Putin. Putin appears amused.

Their most recent exploit involved a Belgian Archbishop.  The bishop was attending a conference at a university about freedom of speech when Femen showed up and showered him with abuse along with water squirted from a bottle that looked like the virgin Mary. Femen accused the bishop and the Catholic Church of being homophobic, the left’s favorite pejorative when someone disagrees with their agenda.

The bishop’s reaction was to bow his head, pray and endure  the hateful tirade by Femen.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York issued the following statement when asked about the incident.

  So, for example, the Church loves, welcomes, and respects the alcoholic . . . but would not condone his binge;

    The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a prominent business leader…but would not condone his or her failure to pay a just wage to a migrant worker;

    The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a young couple in love . . . but would challenge their decision to “live together” before marriage;

    The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman who has had an abortion, and the man who fathered the child and encouraged the abortion . . . but would be united with them in mourning and regretting that deadly choice;

    The Church loves, welcomes, and respects a woman or man with a same-sex attraction . . .  while reminding him or her of our clear teaching that, while the condition of homosexuality is no sin at all, still, God’s teaching is clear that sexual acts are reserved for a man and woman united in the lifelong, life-giving, faithful, loving bond of marriage.

    The Church loves, welcomes, and respects wealthy people, while prophetically teaching the at-times-uncomfortable virtue of justice and charity towards the poor.

    We are part of a Church where, yes, all are welcome, but, no, not a Church of anything goes.

Dolan is no shrinking violet and has the courage of his convictions even standing up to the Obama administration, an administration that is aggressive in promoting baby killing, homosexual marriage and the continued undermining of the family and substituting for it the “benevolent collectivist state.”

I have issues with Roman Catholicism regarding the nature of the gospel (a theological issue rather than a social issue) but do admire a man who can say unashamed he does not represent the church of “anything goes.”

I don’t have the stats handy but many, perhaps more than half of Roman Catholics disagree with Dolan on one or more of the above issues and are apparently fine with the likes of Obama and becoming the church of “anything goes.”

Likewise, I do not have stats for my own faith group (broadly speaking evangelical Christianity) either but there certainly is a trend in some quarters to be the church of “anything goes.”

For churches that seek to remain faithful to Scripture and are actively resisting becoming the church of anything goes we can expect increased government pressure to conform to the spirit of this age. I’m no prophet but pressure will soon turn to persecution, a persecution already started as our right to free speech is denounced as “hate speech” by the likes of Femen and their leftist progressive allies.

My pastor and friend is preaching through 2 Timothy 2 right now. Here’s where he has been camped for a number of weeks:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
(2 Timothy 2:8-13 ESV)

Again, I am not a prophet but on the other hand I would never have thought the US would have a President as actively anti-Christian as this one. The church of “anything goes” is no church at all and as unpleasant as it may be I believe that God will use the pressure\persecution to separate the wheat from the tare, the true from the false, the faithful from the faithless.

May God help us.