Disney Comes out of the Closet — “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

Disney Comes out of the Closet — “Beauty and the Beast” (2017)

In recent years, there has been an ongoing push for Disney to create LGBT characters.  One online petition has over 650 signatures and continues to grow.  Interestingly enough, another online petition to boycott an LGBT agenda in “Beauty and the Beast” currently has over 102k signatures.  Disney, like many other production companies, is set to change the image of homosexuality in the public’s eye through their new live-action film based on their classic — “Beauty and the Beast.”  According to a prominent British gay lifestyle magazine, this is “a watershed moment for Disney.”  That statement is based on the leaked information that has now surfaced in preview screenings and interviews about the upcoming film set to be released on March 17th.

At various times, Christians align and call for boycotts on companies who promote policies that violate Christian principles or teach harmful theology.  There may be a need to boycott a specific organization or company at times, but for the most part, I don’t engage in the boycott agendas.  For instance, I still drink Starbucks.  I still wear Nike products.  I order my Starbucks from an Apple device and then pay for it with my Starbucks app.  I don’t always play the boycott game.

However, there may be times when we should refrain from supporting entertainment outlets and businesses that teach false doctrine.  For instance, drinking Starbucks coffee doesn’t engage my mind with an unbiblical worldview, but going to a movie that teaches the same worldview of Starbucks’ executives could be harmful.  Wisdom is necessary at this point since Scripture is silent on the subject of boycotts.

The movie, “Beauty and the Beast” is not like drinking Starbucks coffee.  It will display information in form of powerful graphics and surround sound on the big screen, and those scenes are loaded with teachable moments.  Beware of the damage that a little scene in a movie will have upon your children.  No matter how flamboyant or subtle the scene may be, it will be used as a lesson for you and your children.

“Beauty and the Beast” — Normalizing What Is Abnormal

We have been fighting a war in America over language, restroom privileges, and same-sex marriage for years now.  That war has, in many ways, been won by a minority of people who have used their “minority” status to leverage support and sympathy.  In the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States of America on June 26th, 2015, their five to four ruling did more than liberate a segment of the American population. Their ruling was a redefining and total overhaul of marriage from its original design. Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissent said, “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not a legal judgment.” [1] In their act of will, they rewrote the dictionary by the power of a single vote. He who controls the dictionary controls the minds of people.

In essence, the Supreme Court of the United States took the abnormal and made it normal by a single vote.  For years Hollywood has been working to normalize the homosexual lifestyle.  From subtle roles in sitcoms to leading personalities such as Ellen, the lifestyle of homosexuality has been paraded before the eyes of the American public for years with a clear agenda to make it normal.  If enough people will continue to see it, they will start to become desensitized to it.  Much like the American people have become desensitized to the culture of death in the legalization of abortion.  It’s legal, so it must be normal—right?  But now, it’s not a sitcom, a daytime talk show, or a late night comedy, it’s Disney, a company that makes its fortunes on children and families.

According to Bill Condon, the director of “Beauty and the Beast” — this film will contain a character who is confused about his sexuality.  While same-sex attraction is a temptation that many people fight against, this new Disney film is positioned to make it normal to act upon those feelings.  Josh Gad, one of the lead actors in the film, tweeted that he was “beyond proud” to be playing such a groundbreaking role.  In an interview with Attitude magazine, Bill Condon says:

LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston…And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.

“Gone with the Wind” broke the MPAA profanity ban in 1934 by using one single profane word.  In 2013, the movie “Wolf of Wall Street” used the “f” bomb 506 times.  What was once abnormal has been made normal to the eyes and ears of the entire world.  If the Supreme Court of the United States couldn’t make homosexuality normal, now Disney has joined arms to assist.  Human sexuality, as God once defined it in creation, has now been redefined and altered.  Who controls the dictionary, Disney or God?

The Responsibility of Parents

Notice the rating of the movie.  The film is rated “PG” and will be viewed by many families and young children.  Many of these families and young children will be faced with a powerful display of a gay relationship in ways that only Hollywood can depict it — in a fictional manner that veils the broken road of homosexuality.  Hollywood has made billions by creating fake worlds, fictional characters, and false relationships.  This will certainly fall into line with other false realities created by Hollywood, only this time it’s their “watershed moment” according to the director.

As parents, we have a responsibility to care for and instruct our children in truth (see Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 20-25).  Taking the family to a theater, placing a box of popcorn and a coke in the hands of your children, and allowing them to be taught a subtle lie of homosexuality on the big screen will have an impact upon their understanding of human sexuality at some level.  Even if it’s just a few bricks, your children are steadily building their worldview one block at a time.  Sometimes children need to be taught why we don’t go to all movies, and this could be a good step in the right direction in assisting the construction of your children’s worldview.

Engage the Culture with Love and Truth

One blogger said, “I want my kids growing up in a world where they are taught to love EVERYONE and I think Beauty and the Beast did a wonderful job reinforcing values that I want my kids to have.”  While we should care for all people, showing acceptance for people’s sinful lifestyle choices should not be equated with love.  In fact, it could be argued that subjecting your children to scenes of homosexuality at impressionable ages is actually unloving to your own children as it causes confusion on the subject of human sexuality.

Wisdom is necessary in how we respond to a culture who hates God.  However, we are called to respond.  A boycott is not enough.  The church in America is much smaller than we realize.  We can’t expect to change the culture through restrictions, blog posts, and boycotts.  We must engage the culture with truth, and this must be done in a winsome and loving manner.

When Paul arrived in Ephesus and witnessed a city filled with pagan idolatry and sexual perversion, he didn’t call for the disciples there to boycott.  Instead, he engaged the culture of Ephesus with the gospel.  According to the account in Acts, “Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods” (Acts 19:26).  It was through his preaching that people were moved to believe the gospel and became followers of Christ.  The preaching of the gospel was so successful that it damaged the sales of the silversmiths who made a living constructing false gods.  This resulted in a massive riot in Ephesus.

Riots are not the goal in gospel ministry, but if they come, may it be said that they were the result of gospel preaching instead of mere boycotts.  Martyrdom is not our goal as followers of Christ, but if they kill us, let it be the result of our gospel message rather than our choice of retail stores.  My family will not be seeing “Beauty and the Beast,” but I’m not trusting in my abstinence from this film as a means of solving our cultural problem.  It will take much more than a boycott.  We need clear gospel preachers in the pulpit and in the home who believe the gospel, teach the gospel, and live gospel focused lives in the face of a pagan culture.

[1] OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL. — https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-556_3204.pdf [accessed 11-25-16]


NCAA and the Gender Bender Agenda

NCAA and the Gender Bender Agenda

This past weekend I was sitting in my living room watching a football game that I wasn’t interested in because there wasn’t a baseball game on, a marathon (or any foot race) to watch, or a better football game to choose from.  While sitting there, a commercial came on that grabbed my attention and elevated my pulse far more than the boring football game.  The commercial was in form of a short video by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).  The advertisement contains an agenda that transcends collegiate sports.  Near the end of the advertisement, two female athletes make the following statement, “Genders don’t play sports, athletes do.”  As the commercial ends, a statement appears on the screen: Creating equal opportunities for college athletes.

What Is Gender?

The gender of a person is part of the fabric of the individual’s identity.  Male and female are the two possible genders as God designed His creation in the beginning (Gen. 1:27) when He created Adam and Eve as the progenitors of the human race.  In short, there are no other options available.  However, in recent months our progressive culture has sought to craft new boundaries, new options, even no options at all in the gender debate.

Today, it’s possible to have a man with all of the signs and indications of masculinity using the restroom designated for women because he “self identifies” as a woman.  This has caused great tension in the public gender debate and in the wake of the landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States to legalize homosexual marriage in in all fifty states.

According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, the word gender as it pertains to humans is “the state of being male or female (chiefly in cultural or social contexts).” [1]  Although much change has occurred in recent years on this very subject and the boundaries are continually being pushed, to exist as a human being involves being either male or female.  This is visibly evident in the physical traits of a person, including the body parts of each individual person.

Why the “Gender Bender” Agenda is Harmful

You might have heard the rumbling story of Nattaphon “Ice” Wangyot who made history at Alaska’s state track meet, becoming the first transgender student-athlete to compete individually for a high school state championship back in the 2016 track season.  Wangyot, a Thai native who was born male and identifies as female, qualified and competed in the Class 3A girls’ sprints at the state meet, capturing third place in the 200-meter dash (27.3) and fifth in the 100 (13.36). [2]

Is Wangyot really that good?  When you examine his times, if he had been forced to run against the male students in the men’s race, he wouldn’t have made the finals in the 100-meter.  In fact, he wouldn’t have made it to the state meet.  The slowest runner in the 100-meter race was Jacob Rogers from Holy Rosary Academy who ran a 12.47.  His time was the 17th fastest in the preliminary races, and he didn’t make the finals.  Rogers’ time is much faster than Wangyot, but he was able to capture the 5th fastest time in the women’s state meet because he self identifies as a female.

In the end, the gender bender policy of the NCAA is killing competition in women’s sports.  Male athletes who would otherwise not rise to the top are able to do so by competing in women’s events.  This is not only true in high school but in collegiate events as well.  This will harm true competition for women athletes.  In a world that demands equality for women, this gender bender identity policy by the NCAA will do just the opposite.  The very organization that prides itself in “Creating equal opportunities for college athletes” is pushing an agenda that refuses reat women as women.

Why Have Boundaries in Sports?

If you’ve ever played a sport, or watched one on television, you know about boundaries.  In football, there are sidelines that border the field.  If a wide receiver catches a pass from the quarterback outside of those boundaries, the pass is considered incomplete.  In golf, if your ball lands in the water hazard, you will be penalized for it.  In basketball, the playing surface has boundaries around the court in order to contain the playing area within those specified boundaries.  If a play is made beyond those lines, it results in a turnover in possession.  If football field sidelines, water hazards, and basketball court boundaries are treated as absolutes, why should gender be treated with such relativism by the NCAA?

As the debate continues to grow in our culture, are we prepared for the man who self identifies as a dog to be allowed to compete in The National Dog Show?  We’re living in strange times where common sense, logic, and absolutes are completely ignored and rejected.  The problem with that type of world is that it doesn’t exist.  The very minute that we treat the laws of nature with a relativistic attitude, we will certainly do bodily harm to ourselves and people around us.  The real world is full of absolutes, and that includes the subject of gender.  If gender is merely a social construct, why can’t we treat boundaries in athletics in the same manner?  Do rules and boundaries really mean anything?

The NCAA may not see it this way, but they have entered the perverse revolt against God.  We are living in a sexual and moral revolution that is twisting and spiraling out of control into the abyss of human depravity.  The NCAA can’t remain socially consistent in their positions.  While running advertisements on national television stating, “Genders don’t play sports, athletes do”—the very website of the NCAA makes a clear distinction between men’s and women’s sports.  The inconsistency is striking.

The NCAA will never be able to bypass God in the gender conversation.  Just as the NCAA is accustomed to reading rule books and operating by the set boundaries of various sporting events, it would do them well to read the boundaries instituted and crafted by God regarding human gender and sexuality.  When pronouns are replaced with abstract neuter forms to bypass masculinity and femininity, God doesn’t lose—we do.  We all do.  Our children do.  So will the world of athletics.  You can make a word neuter, but you can’t make an athlete neuter.  An athlete will always be male or female.  Athletes are human.  John Piper provides helpful wisdom on this subject in an article titled, “Male and Female, Created in God’s Image” found at CBMW.org.  He writes:

The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimizing the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness. But this depreciation of male and female personhood is a great loss. It is taking a tremendous toll on generations of young men and women who do not know what it means to be a man or a woman. Confusion over the meaning of sexual personhood today is epidemic. The consequence of this confusion is not a free and happy harmony among gender-free persons relating on the basis of abstract competencies. The consequence rather is more divorce, more homosexuality, more sexual abuse, more promiscuity, more social awkwardness, and more emotional distress and suicide that come with the loss of God-given identity. [3]

  1. Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, eds., Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
  2. Transgender track athlete makes history as controversy swirls around her
  3. John Piper, “Male and Female, Created in God’s Image
A Conversation with Emily Thomes

A Conversation with Emily Thomes

Today, I’m publishing an interview with Emily Thomes (@Emilysatt19), a young Christian lady who once identified as a homosexual.  I initially met Emily at a recent G3 Conference, and since then she has been actively speaking out about her former sin struggles and her new life as a Christian.  Since her conversion and over the past year, Emily has become Mrs. Benjamin Thomes.

Hi Emily.  Thank you for joining me for this conversation.  We first met at the 2016 G3 Conference. Since then, you’ve had a busy year. You’ve recently married your husband Benjamin Thomes and you’ve written some articles (see: “Girl in the Picture“) that have become rather controversial. In this interview, I’d like to talk through your conversion to Christianity and your views regarding marriage, headship, and the sin of homosexuality.

In recent days, you have spoken out about your life before you were converted by Christ. Can you briefly walk us through what that looked like?

Sure thing. I grew up in a relatively moral home and family. I attended church occasionally and even church camp some during the summertime. I made a profession of faith and was baptized pretty early in life. While believing I was saved, fully trusting in that sinner’s prayer and the water, I grew into being a really rebellious individual. Before graduating high school, I was smoking weed regularly, drinking, and sleeping with girls. In my young adult life before coming to know the Lord, I’d slowed down slightly. I was working full time so I wasn’t able to really party as often but was still smoking marijuana daily and was still dating and sleeping with various women. That was my life up until the day I was born again.

As you well know, our nation has recently faced a decision to legalize same-sex marriage. What do you think about this decision?

It breaks my heart. I know how easy it is for our own flesh and heart to deceive us and provide us comfort and assurance in sin. It makes it all the more easy when the world around us not only affirms but encourages our sin, too. When I first realized I was attracted to girls as a child, I kept it to myself for years because it wasn’t accepted like it is today. I can’t imagine growing up with same-sex marriage being legal and celebrated. I’ve got a few friends that are now legally married to their partners, and it’s even harder to try and point them to truth. With it legalized, the message I’m attempting to share daily is even more ridiculous.

It’s becoming increasingly popular to hear people toss around the category of “gay Christian.” Is it possible to be a gay Christian?

I hear that expression far too often. It’s really important to be clear with our terms when discussing things like this, and it’s why I try and use phrases like “practicing homosexuality” and “same sex attracted” in order to maintain clarity because “gay” means different things to different crowds. It is absolutely possible for one to be battling same sex attraction as a believer. I’m in that camp currently. Even as believers, our flesh will always pull us towards various types of sins. Now, can one practice homosexuality unrepentantly, meaning without contrition, conviction, and without a daily desire and attempt to abstain, and be a Christian? No. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 makes that very clear, regarding homosexuality specifically. In a general sense, we see throughout the epistles and the gospels that those who are saved don’t continue in unrepentant sin and that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. Though our flesh desires sin, believers will deny themselves and follow Jesus instead. We won’t make any provision for the flesh and we will flee sexual immorality rather than leap into it. This isn’t to say that believers won’t ever fall into sin. Undoubtedly they will; it’s why we so eagerly await the glorification and removal of these bodies of death we currently carry around. When believers stray, the Lord convicts and disciplines those whom He loves and they will repent and be restored or else they were not of us.

As a former homosexual, what advice would you provide to the church today (in general) regarding methods and strategies of reaching people with the gospel?

We’re called to love God and love our neighbors. In order to do both of those, we must be reaching out to those that are lost in order to bring them into the fold. We’re all sovereignly placed in our communities and workplaces and families in order that we be ambassadors for Christ in those roles. Charles Spurgeon said that every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter; that’s because those who are regenerate have a burden to see the lost saved. In our congregations, we ought to be being equipped and exhorted to be faithful witnesses when we’re outside of the assembly. It’s crucial that we be uncompromising but also gracious and humble in our evangelism. We’re to be Jesus to those who are still in darkness and that cannot exclude truth or love.

Would you encourage churches to develop homosexual support groups that reach out to those who struggle with the sin of homosexuality and seek to provide support for former homosexuals within the church?

Hmm. That’s a good question. My initial instinct is to say “No” though I’d be open to persuasion. It’s not been of much benefit for me to discuss, regularly anyway, my battle with same sex attraction with those who battle it also. It’s actually been most helpful for me to discuss the differing struggles that myself and others face in order to see that though the specific sin struggle varies, the human condition does not. It’s also helped others to better understand homosexuality and see it through the lens of scripture and as another sin that one can fall into rather than something completely foreign. Too much of an emphasis on same sex attraction, in my experience, can nearly glorify the sin and make the struggler feel like more of an alien than what comes with it anyway. It’s also an easy way to continue holding on to the identity that’s rooted in sin rather than in Christ for those that are prone to that type of thing.

What advice would you provide for people who are dealing with sexual identity problems and are thinking about pursuing a homosexual lifestyle?

I would say that if someone is seriously considering entering into an unrepentant state, they need to be questioning if they do in fact belong to the Lord or if they’re actually already unrepentant. It’s very normal, because of the fall, for believers to think on sin and to wrestle with the thoughts that can entice us, but deliberately choosing to walk in and remain in rebellion to God is a very serious matter and is not the fruit of a regenerate person. Experiencing an inclination towards sin proves you’re human; it doesn’t give one a license to sin and the believer won’t take it as one.

Other than the Bible, what resource (book, article, or sermon) has helped you think biblically about the homosexual agenda in our nation?

Rosaria Butterfield has probably been my greatest influence regarding understanding sexuality and identity thus far. Her books, articles, and videos have been very helpful to me personally. I’ve actually recently been hearing and reading Kevin DeYoung regarding homosexuality and our culture, and he articulates it wonderfully. Listening to Al Mohler on The Briefing daily has also been instrumental in helping me to understanding the sexual revolution and how our world is moving forward into it in both blatant and more subtle ways.

How prevalent is pornography in the homosexual community and what would be your advice for people who find themselves trapped by the pornography industry?

I can only answer this one from my own experience in my life and that of those whom I’ve spoken with in the LGBT. From what I can discern, porn is unfortunately rampant across all groups of people presently. I used to watch it and knew many others that did also. I also know that it, like heterosexual porn, is available in ridiculous quantities. For those struggling with porn, like those battling any sin, it’s important not to elevate or diminish it. Yes, it is a deplorable sin that God will not overlook. He’s either dealt with it at the cross or will do so in eternity. But no, it is not a sin or a sin struggle that the Lord cannot enable the believer to overcome and even use it for His glory and the good of the user. Accountability with this sin is a huge benefit to the one wrestling it whether that be believing friends, Covenant Eyes, a browser that filters through explicit content, or all of the above. As with all sin, the fight is real and though we will fall, He will sustain and keep His people to the end.

Often times you hear people who are former alcoholics consistently referring to themselves as former alcoholics as their mark or identity. Is it helpful to consider yourself a former homosexual as your true identity in life?

I can see no reason that one would label themselves by any sin struggle, past or present. If I’m speaking to someone about sin and specific struggles, I’ll be open about my battle with same sex attraction, but I’m not going to use it as a modifier for my place in Christ. Biblically, in Corinthians specifically, we see that Paul while carried along by the Holy Spirit said “As were some of you” regarding those who were practicing homosexuality. He also tells us that we’re new creations in Christ, that the old has passed away, etc. Part of growth and sanctification is that we’re no longer fixating on our sin but on the finished work of Christ. We will see our shortcomings daily and everyday, we’ll look to Jesus instead of ourselves. We’ll fight and mourn our flesh but cling tightly to the promises of God and put off the old self in exchange for the new one.

If you could speak to all evangelical preachers, what advice would you give to them regarding their preaching ministry and the need to reach out to people struggling with sexual identity and the sin of homosexuality?

It sounds simple but I’d encourage pastors to holdfast to a biblical worldview when dealing with the sin of homosexuality from the pulpit and personally with those who are battling it. Faithful pastors will discuss homosexuality in the same way that they discuss sexual immorality among heterosexual couples. They won’t cower back from it, but they won’t elevate it to being so heinous and unknown that those who are in it are beyond the hand of God should He draw them. In the same way that pastors and those they’re shepherding should reach out to the lost battling alcoholism or pride, we must attempt to reconcile those practicing homosexuality to Christ knowing He gives the growth if He chooses to. Remembering that if not for the grace of God we would all be practicing every single kind of wickedness ought to drive us to push past our discomfort and into loving our neighbors with truth. As bothered as we are by the sins we don’t understand, the sins that we coddle are far more grotesque to God, yet He loves us still.

If you could talk to law makers and politicians, what advice would you give to them as they continue to embrace and further the homosexual agenda in our nation?

I would proclaim the gospel to them firstly and explain that like all those who have yet to be born again, they stand in rebellion to a holy God who will not overlook their sin. I’d plead with them to reason within themselves concerning creation, the clearly intended design, given our anatomy if nothing else, and the unignorable Creator who will hold all of humanity accountable for every word and deed.

Apart from the Lord opening their eyes to see His glory though, they’re unlikely to view the “homosexual agenda” as a bad thing. Without a biblical worldview, this is another civil rights matter and we would truly be on the wrong side of history. I remember believing that in standing up for the LGBT I was standing for the underdogs, and I saw that as noble. Apart from the God of the Bible and a right understanding of sin and sexuality, telling people that their desires are wrong and that they must stop doing them, especially because they don’t cause physical harm to another person, would make us actually bigoted. Remembering the ideals I held for so long allow me to pity those who are under this strong delusion rather than to be angry with them. Their hearts are darkened. They truly do believe that sexual orientation is as much of one’s personhood as race or gender and unless He grants them sight for spiritual matters, they’ll continue in that understanding. I pray for those who are blinded by all sin but this sin in particular because so many believers view them, and not the spirit that leads them, as the enemies. May we look at those propagating the homosexual agenda as broken, fallen people who are in need of a Savior and are attempting to find peace and happiness apart from Him like we all once were.

Is submission to Christ and submission to your husband (the idea of complementarianism) belittling or oppressive to women?

Submission to one’s husband is God’s design for wives as it’s His design for husbands to love their wives like Christ loves the church and gave Himself up for her. Scripture makes it very clear that wives are coheirs with their husband of His grace and that both bear His image and are therefore equal in value and in worth. Contrary to my previously held ideals and those held by so many today, gender has significance. Gender is assigned by God and the roles prescribed to each are as well. As the Creator, God knows how His creations best function and has lovingly provided a system for us in which we can best operate (and be sanctified if you’re like me and meekness doesn’t come at all natural to you) and model His gospel to the world. Like Jesus to His Father, wives are to humbly submit in all things to their husbands. Like Christ to His bride, the church, husbands are to sacrificially love, pursue, and nourish their wives. Before becoming a believer, complementarianism was preposterous. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t because I lacked worth but was instead because I had worth that God intended me as a helpmate to a husband who was to love and provide for me. I feel not belittled but made much of understanding that I’ve been given protection, security, and unconditional love from both the Lord who saved me and the husband He ordained for me.

The Determining Factor of Love

The Determining Factor of Love

Unless you’ve been in a dark hole in recent days, you have witnessed a moral and sexual revolution sweep across the United States of America.  This revolution has married together popular opinion and the legislative powers of our land.  When this issue was in the heat of the debate and even now in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, the proponents of same-sex marriage often appeal to love as the determining factor for their decision.  They ask opponents to the same-sex marriage decision questions like, “How could a good God deny my right to love?”  They often go beyond that to make statements like, “I know it’s right, because I love my partner and my partner loves me.  It feels right.”

As we think about love, we often approach it from the wrong direction.  I once heard a man make the statement that the most prostituted word in the English language is love.  Anytime we have a conversation regarding a term or a theme, we must be able to define it properly prior to entering into the conversation.  The word love has been misunderstood and improperly defined for years.  The broader culture defines love as a feeling rather than an act of the will or in various other ways in which we see the term used in the Greek language.  D.A. Carson, in his book, The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God writes:

For instance, the noun έρως (not found in the New Testament) refers to sexual love, erotic love; the φιλέω word group refers to emotional love, the love of friendship and feeling.  By contrast, the ἀγαπάω word group refers to willed love, an act of willed self-sacrifice for the good of another.  It has no necessary emotional component, however generous it may be. [1]

It’s quite obvious that the Greek culture understood the various different levels to the word love.  In English, it’s flattened out and often approached as a mere feeling rather than something more accurate – such as an act of the will.  If we take the slippery slope of the fuzzy feeling definition of love and allow it to be the determining factor of right and wrong, where do we end up at the end of the day?  What about the husband and wife who love one another deeply and find out that the wife has stage 4 cancer in her brain.  Suppose that she looks at her husband and says that she really wants him to prove his love for her by injecting her with a chemical agent that will stop her heart from beating in order to prevent future suffering through the terminal cancer.  Would that condone the act of murder?

At this point many people object and claim that we can’t condone murder because it’s against the law.  Really?  What about abortion?  The love of self is the fuel behind abortion, and it’s a legal form of murder.  Suppose that the Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection in cases of terminal illness was not murder if it was done in a medical facility by a licensed physician.  Would that solve the issue?  The point is clear – we can’t make decisions based on feelings or emotions called “love” and believe that it solves the problem.  It doesn’t solve the underlying issues.  Murder remains murder – no matter what the court system in our country says.

As we examine the sexual revolution in our culture, the proponents of same-sex marriage claim that the church should comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court and any opposition to the legalized marriage of homosexuals is anti-love.  Is that what we see in the Scripture?  What about the church at Corinth when Paul wrote to that body of Christians and talked about how they had been saved out of the lifestyle of homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).  Was that insensitive or anti-love?  What about the many times that the New Testament apostles condemn sexual immorality in the life of the church?  Is that anti-love?

The English translation of sexual immorality is derived from a Greek word πορνεία which encompasses many different types of sexual sins such as, adultery, fornication, prostitution, homosexuality, and various other deviant sexual practices.  Jesus Himself employs this very word in Mark 7:21-23.  Once again, the apostle Paul uses this word in 1 Corinthians 5 as he calls out the man who was having sex with his father’s wife.  Out of love, Paul commands the church to purge the man from their membership.  Out of love for God, love for the purity of the church, and finally – love for the sinning man – Paul told the church to remove this man so that his soul would be saved.  That was the goal – that the man would be disciplined by the church and come to repentance.

Likewise, as we see Jesus writing a letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2, He condemns them for being led astray by a false teacher named Jezebel.  Her sinful doctrine involved sexual immorality.  The particular word used by Jesus to describe this sin is – πορνεύω – which is similar to πορνεία but focuses upon prostitution and illicit unlawful sexual practices.  Was that anti-love for Jesus to call out that sin?  Perhaps Jezebel loved the people in the church at Thyatira, is Jesus wrong to deny her the ability to love those people?

We may have different usages for the word love, but no matter how we define love, the determining factor is not a feeling or emotion.  We must love God supremely and recognize that God loves God and is committed to the exaltation of His eternal glory.  Every decision that we make in life must be under submission to God’s love.  God has revealed what that looks like in His authoritative Word.  The Bible demands that we love Him and as a result that we love life and refrain from murder.  God demands that we love Him and as a result that our human sexuality will be restricted to the boundaries of God’s original intent found in Genesis 1-2 with His institution of marriage.  God demands that we love Him and as a result that we love His church and seek to discipline one another in love in a way that promotes holiness and unity in the gospel.  Kevin DeYoung, in his book, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality, writes:

Loves is cross (Romans 5:8). Love is what we do when we keep Christ’s commands (John 14:15). Love is sharing with our brothers and sisters in need (1 John 3:16-18). Love is treating each other with kindness and patience (1 Cor. 13:4). Love is disciplining the wayward sinner (Prov. 3:11-12). Love is chastising the rebellious saint (Heb. 12:5-6). And love is throwing your arms around the prodigal son when he sees his sin, comes to his senses, and heads for home (Luke 15:17-24). [2]

Is God anti-love?  Read John 3:16-17 and answer that question.  The God who has given His Son Jesus to die for guilty sinners on a cross is the very definition of love.  That’s why 1 John 4:8 says – “God is love.”  If love is the determining factor – God is the determining factor.  If we make our decisions in life and our cultural laws based on God – it will spare us from much heartache in the end.  If we love God, we will truly desire to love His perfect will and submit ourselves to His authority.  R.C. Sproul writes, “In the New Testament, love is more of a verb than a noun. It has more to do with acting than with feeling. The call to love is not so much a call to a certain state of feeling as it is to a quality of action.” [3]

1.  The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, Crossway, 2000, p. 26.

2.  What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality, Crossway, 2015, p. 127.

3.  The Intimate Marriage, P&R Publishing, 1975, p. 53.

Why T.D. Jakes’ LGBT Comments Should Not Surprise Anyone

Why T.D. Jakes’ LGBT Comments Should Not Surprise Anyone

In a recent interview with Marc Lamont Hill on Huffpost Live, T.D. Jakes sat down to talk about his new book, Destiny. Step Into Your Purpose.  Many people are questioning his inclusive statements.  However, should his lack of orthodoxy on LGBT issues come as a surprise to us?  What should surprise us is that many people who were unwilling to part fellowship with T.D. Jakes over his denial of the Trinity are now willing to question their relationship with him over this issue.  Should the LGBT issue take a higher place of priority than the doctrine of the Trinity?

T.D. Jakes has a long running commitment to the unorthodox teachings of Oneness Pentecostalism that clearly denies the Trinity.  This doctrinal position is known as Modalism, but looking back into church history, this position is known by the name Sabellianism. This teaching rejects the Trinitarian revelation of God and suggests that God exists as One being and manifests Himself in three distinct modes – Father, Son, and Spirit.  Modalism rejects the Trinitarian revelation of God whereby He exists as One God in three distinct persons who are co-equal and co-eternal.  This is a dividing line issue of unorthodox teachings that can’t be merely looked upon as a lower tier issue resulting in denominational differences.  To deny the Trinity is to deny the faith of genuine Christianity.

Rejection of the Trinity Leads to a Rejection of God’s Word

If you miss the Trinitarian revelation of God in the Scriptures, you will likewise miss His inerrant and immutable truth that binds human hearts and governs all cultures on human sexuality.  God has provided us with truth that transcends time, geographic locale, and public opinion.  In their conversation, Marc Lamont Hill made a progression into the current cultural conversation on the LGBT movement.  At one point, Marc Lamont Hill pushed T.D. Jakes by asking “Has your thinking evolved on this?”  T.D. Jakes answered by saying: “Evolved and evolving… where I am is to better understand. We (the church) bought… into the myth that this is a Christian nation… We no longer look to public policy to reflect Biblical ethics.”

The authority of God’s Word supersedes the evolution of cultural opinion, law, and the personal opinion of T.D. Jakes.  Matthew 24:35 and Isaiah 40:8 are two clear texts that demonstrate the reality that God is not planning on changing His mind on the LGBT issues.  When the apostle Paul was writing to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4, he didn’t charge Timothy to preach his evolving opinion.  Instead, he instructed him to proclaim God’s Word.  This statement by Paul demonstrates the reality that God’s Word transcends man’s opinions, thoughts, evolving ideas, and emotions on all issues of life.

If we embrace relativism and plunge headlong into the deep waters of postmodernism, we will be led to elevate ideas and opinions to a higher level than God’s Word.  This leads a person to naturally reject the authority of the sacred Scriptures.  That seems to be the direction that T.D. Jakes is progressing in his view of human sexuality.  T.D. Jakes claims to be a preacher of the gospel, yet God’s ambassador would have said, “Thus says the Lord, and He’s not planning to offer an apology to the LGBT community regarding His ordained purpose for human sexuality.”

Rejection of the Trinity Leads to a Wrong View of God’s Church

The doctrine of the church begins with a simple definition the word translated “church” taken from the Greek word, ἐκκλησία, which means “a called out assembly.”  The “called out” ones are assembling together under the banner of the gospel having been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ (1 Peter 2:9).  To suggest that the church should accept LGBT people into their membership is to misunderstand what the church is.  For T.D. Jakes to miss the mark regarding the church should not surprise us because T.D. Jakes has likewise misunderstood God.

At one point in the conversation, T.D. Jakes was asked, “Do you [think] that the LGBT community and the black church can coexist?”  First of all, the question is framed incorrectly.  There is no such thing as a “black church” or a “white church.”  We must work from the definition of the church provided for us in the New Testament.  As we read the New Testament, we find that Paul often labored to overthrow the idea of an exclusive Jewish church.  He pointed out that God saves Jew and Gentile (Romans 1:16).  Nevertheless, T.D. Jakes responded by saying, “Absolutely.”  Jakes would go on to say, “LGBTs…have to find a household of worship that reflects what your views are and what you believe like anybody else.”

To suggest that it’s possible to align Jesus Christ and His church with the LGBT community is to make a grievous error.  The apostle Paul made this point abundantly clear in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? [15] What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? [16] What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. [17] Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, [18] and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

When a “household of worship” claiming to be a church of Jesus Christ seeks to condone the unfruitful deeds of darkness, which is not limited to homosexuality, it becomes something other than a church.  No group that normalizes adultery, drunkenness, idolatry, or any other sin can be classified as a church.  A building may have a steeple, stained glass windows, and a pulpit, but if the people who meet there muzzle God’s Word while opening the doors to evolving cultural opinion, make no mistake, it’s not a church.  In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, he pointed out that their church was made up of people who had come out of those sinful ways of living by faith in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:1-11).

The beautiful thing about the church is that it’s made up of redeemed sinners who have been saved from all types of sinful backgrounds – including the LGBT community.  However, to admit unrepentant sinners of any type into the church and call them brothers and sisters in Christ is to miss categorize and misunderstand the church of Jesus Christ.

It should not take erroneous comments on LGBT issues to cause professing Christians to examine their relationship with T.D. Jakes.  The lack of discernment among many professing Christians regarding T.D. Jakes and his Modalism is clearly a big concern.  What’s abundantly clear in this interview is that when people incorrectly define God and mishandle His Word, it will lead to an open door for a multiplicity of grievous errors.  T.D. Jakes needs to repent of his denial of the Trinity and his inclusive views regarding the church of Jesus Christ.

DBG Spotlight (7-29-15)

DBG Spotlight (7-29-15)

This January, Christians from all around the United States (and beyond) will gather for the G3 Conference, a theology conference focused on a specific theological issue each year.  This upcoming year the theme will be the doctrine of the Trinity.  You should consider registering and reserving a seat for you and your friends.

Can hipster Christianity save churches from decline?  That’s the title and a valid question that needs to be asked in our confused culture.  Brett McCraken writes, “Many don’t want the church to be like a sceney bar or a stylish boutique. They want the church to be the church: an institution that embraces awkward people, confronts sin, transforms lives, subverts the sovereignty of self, serves others and provides meaning more substantial than the ephemera of fickle fads.”

When God Calls You Into New Territory.  Gavin Ortland talks with Voddie Baucham about his upcoming move to Zambia.  You can see more at LaunchTheMove.com.

SCOTUS: Too Much and Too Little. Rosaria Butterfield writes, “And like others of my ilk, I know that sexual orientation is an invented category of personhood. Indeed, even from the old feminist perspective that I sported back in the day, I knew that sexual orientation as an identity was a category mistake.”