The Troubling Terms of the Social Justice Movement

The Troubling Terms of the Social Justice Movement

For a number of months, the temperature has increased greatly on issues related to what is being labeled as the social justice movement. For many people, this has come as a big surprise, but for others the trajectory has been anticipated as things continue to develop. It’s often difficult to follow language, logic, and motive in a Twitter conversation (or debate). For that reason, I would like to point out some of the troubling terms that are emerging from the social justice movement that demand our attention.

Terms and Definitions Matter

For anyone who has ever engaged in a friendly debate on the doctrines of grace, it’s quite clear that to have a profitable conversation we must be using the same dictionary. If one person comes to the conversation with a different set of definitions—the conversation will be derailed from the very beginning. Back in the days of the conservative resurgence period, liberals and conservatives both embraced the term of inerrancy, but the liberal had a completely different definition for the word. Therefore, as we enter into important conversations and engage in necessary debates over matters of social justice—we need to understand that our terminology matters.

What exactly does social justice mean? Is a social justice warrior (SJW) one who is defending the gospel or is that individual guilty of putting emphasis on something that isn’t the gospel in order to promote and empowerment and unity agenda? How we view these terms and positions are critical in order to engage in this profitable cultural conversation. Intersectionality is another term that you need to be aware of in this social justice conversation. Although it was originally coined by a radical feminist to defend oppressed homosexual women—now that same strategy is being employed within evangelical circles. What does it mean to embrace complementarianism? There is a minimum and a maximum view of this doctrine, so which view is most biblically accurate? Such terms and how we define them are key to this conversation.

As we move on, I want to mention a few terms emerging from the social justice movement that trouble me. I will explain each term and how it’s being used within the social justice movement and why we should be concerned.

Oppression

Christians should care for oppressed people, and we can state that with quite a bit of theological force. As we look back at the history of America, we see periods of time where oppression was systemic in nature and explicitly sinful. Such eras of time included oppression on black people and women. Even beyond the Emancipation Proclamation and eventual end to slavery—both groups were targeted with ungodly discrimination and systemic oppression.

As laws were passed, both blacks and women were eventually free to enjoy the same freedoms in America. Although our culture was slow to change, it eventually led to their advancement in our culture to our present day where both blacks and women occupy the highest seats in our nation. We have seen blacks and women as successful business owners, entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, professors, and politicians. The richest black American is a woman—Oprah Winfrey. Her net worth as of February 15, 2018, is $2.8 billion, according to Forbes, making her the richest black American. Just take a look at the Supreme Court of the United States and the office of president as prime examples of how the former years of systemic racism and systemic oppression have ended.

We should be grateful for such freedom and advancement, however, the social justice movement continues to claim that we’re presently holding back people of color and preventing women from flourishing as God has intended from the beginning—within evangelicalism. Is that true? Specific leaders in evangelicalism are calling for the dismantling of present hierarchies so that a new era can emerge where this oppression will not continue. For that reason, the language of modern oppression concerns me; and if we’re brutally honest, people of color and women are not being systemically oppressed in evangelicalism today—it’s simply not true.

Empowerment

If the idea of oppression is one of the key motivating factors for this need for social justice, we must identify who’s being oppressed and how they’re being held back. According to certain voices within evangelicalism, people of color and women have been held back from climbing the ladder to the top within our organizational structures, institutions of higher learning, and local churches—so we must do everything within our power to reverse this oppression by an agenda of empowerment. If systemic oppression was true, there would be a need to work together for liberation. However, if true systemic oppression is not a reality within evangelicalism—why is there a such a radical push for empowerment?

Within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), we have seen a massive surge in conversation centered on empowerment. Scholarships are being set aside for people of color that are not being offered to white people at the same institutions. Many people are talking about the sudden need to empower a women to become the president of the SBC. Consider the language of Dwight McKissic as he posted the following on his Facebook just a few days before the 2018 annual meeting of the SBC:

If I thought Beth Moore would accept the nomination or be agreeable to being nominated, because of her qualifications and the current context the SBC finds herself in… I would nominate her for SBC President. The SBC is a parachurch organization – not a church. Therefore, there is absolutely not one Bible verse, or SBC constitutional bylaws prohibitions, nor any BF&M 2000 prohibitions against a woman serving as SBC President. Tradition, sexism, fear and other non-biblical factors would probably prevent any woman… from being elected President of the SBC.

Is the SBC really guilty of sexism or any other sinful oppressive behavior because we have not elected a woman to serve as president of the SBC? Should we create scholarships for people of color within institutions of higher learning just so that we can increase the percentage of a specific demographic in our classrooms who will eventually go on to occupy the office of pastor in local churches and serve as missionaries on the field?

Back to the important term of complementarianism—what exactly does it mean? If we truly believe that we have been guilty of holding women back, what does that mean for the future of our local churches if we engage in a “women’s liberation” movement in the SBC? Will we begin to see women preaching and teaching in the local church on a regular basis as the fruit of the social justice movement? What if a woman is elected as the president of the SBC, will she be invited to preach in the chapel services of the seminaries and Bible colleges of the SBC? How far will those who are championing the idea of systemic oppression be willing to press this issue of empowerment? What if our excitement about empowerment leads women to walk away from their calling that God has established from the beginning—one rooted in creation itself?

LGBT Christian?

In many ways, the logical conclusion of the social justice movement is to embrace the unbiblical category of LGBT Christian. Just over one week from now, the Revoice Conference will be held in St. Louis. The front page of the conference states the following:

Supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality

Did you notice the key word, “empowering” in the sentence? The empowerment agenda is fixed on liberating those who have been held back from flourishing. Therefore, this mindset claims that we have held back people of color, women, and homosexuals through systemic oppression that has prevented them from occupying specific offices, positions, or enjoying membership in our local churches. Is this true? Have we held back homosexuals from flourishing and refused to care for them properly?

Sure, it can be clearly documented that many Christians have refused to care for homosexuals in a proper Christ-honoring manner, but the best way to care for homosexuals is not to call them Christians. That would be a soul-damning mistake. Paul never calls homosexuals brothers and sisters in Christ. Instead, he roots their identity in the gospel of Jesus and points to the past tense reality of their sin (1 Cor. 6:9-11). As Christ followers, they are new creations in Christ and they have a new desire to identify with Jesus and do war with their sin. To call struggling sinners “gay Christians” is to lead them into deeper oppression of sin rather than to the light of Jesus Christ. Owen Strachan observes:

There will be no “queer treasure” in the New Jerusalem. There will be nothing unholy in the celestial city, nothing sinful that will be brought to the worship of the crucified and resurrected Lord of the church. There is no righteousness in a believer, a truly born-again Christian, identifying as “bisexual.” This identification alone would not qualify a man or woman to serve at a Vacation Biblical School event, let alone instruct the church on sexual ethics.

As this social justice agenda continues to morph and move down the tracks, it’s essential that we have some important conversations. Can we engage in the necessary conversations with respect for one another? Sure we can engage in a Christ-honoring manner, but the reality is—many of the lead voices in the social justice agenda are unwilling to have an open conversation on these important matters.

We must fight to uphold the dignity of women as God has instituted from the beginning. We must encourage women to flourish within God’s design as image-bearers in the home, the local church, and beyond. However, to ask of women what God never asked is to lead them down a road of oppression and discouragement. We must likewise preach the gospel faithfully and labor for unity in the gospel that transcends all socioeconomic boundaries and ethnic lines. It’s in Jesus where we find true purpose, hope, and identity. This identity brings about true unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3-6). The same gospel that encourages women to flourish and unites different skin colors also brings about the salvation of sinners—including those lost in the perils of homosexuality. We should celebrate this gospel together.

In order for our engagement on these matters to be profitable we must understand the terms—but most importantly we must understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Christ we will find true unity and purpose to labor with one another to bring people out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Jesus Christ. May the Lord raise up gospel saturated ambassadors who bleed Bibline (like John Bunyan) rather than champions of social justice. The gospel has not been recalled and the Word of God doesn’t need a revision for our modern challenges within our culture. I fear that the modern social justice movement in evangelicalism is communicating to the world that the gospel is somehow insufficient to deal with our social challenges. The gospel is still the power of God unto salvation and the Word of God is sufficient.

 

The Too Little, Too Late Voice of Russell Moore Regarding Revoice

The Too Little, Too Late Voice of Russell Moore Regarding Revoice

This is a guest post by Pastor Tom Buck. Tom Buck is Senior Pastor at the First Baptist Church of Lindale, Texas. He holds a BA in Pastoral Ministries and New Testament Greek from the Moody Bible Institute, a ThM in Bible Exposition from Dallas Theological Seminary, and is presently completing his doctoral work at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tom previously served for 12 years as the Senior Pastor of Riverside Baptist Fellowship in Florida. He has been at First Baptist Church since 2006.


Russell Moore is not generally known for his silence nor slowness in addressing hot social topics. For example, recently he spoke loud and clear about President Trump’s immigration policy that separated children from parents who were arrested for crossing the U.S. border illegally. Dr. Moore expressed his legitimate concerns about the damaging effects that this could have upon those children. When Trump reversed direction, Dr. Moore tweeted his support of this decision within minutes of the announcement.

Therefore, I became increasingly troubled by Dr. Moore’s silence regarding Revoice – a conference designed for the purpose of “supporting, encouraging and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians.” If the ethical implications of a U.S. Immigration policy were worthy of Dr. Moore’s attention, surely Revoice holds equal weight. The latter hits much closer to home for evangelicals and has the potential to result in a far greater and more lasting damage.

Russell Moore’s Days of Silence

On June 13, during the ERLC report at the SBC, Dr. Moore was asked by a messenger about Revoice and its endorsement by ERLC Fellow, Dr. Karen Prior. Dr. Moore responded by saying, “I don’t know about the Revoice Conference,” and then proceeded to give a lengthy defense of Dr. Prior. I consider Dr. Prior a friend, and although I disagree with her endorsement of Revoice, I share Dr. Moore’s appreciation for her. However, Dr. Moore dismissed the core of the messenger’s question, “Will the ERLC disavow Revoice?” Furthermore, he ignored the messenger’s disconcerting description that quoted Revoice’s promotion of the conference as a “celebration of queer culture and the plight of LGBT Christians.”

Considering that concerns about Revoice had been echoed across social media for weeks, it was hard to believe that Dr. Moore could not know about it. Dr. Owen Strachan, an ERLC Research Fellow, published his concerns on May 31. Drs. Jason Allen, President of MBTS, and Albert Mohler, President of SBTS, both tweeted about it on the same day. It is strange that Dr. Moore, who was on Twitter that day and most every day since, could have missed a highly promoted article that addressed such a hot social topic.

Nevertheless, whatever Dr. Moore’s knowledge about Revoice was on June 13, his voice remained silent. After a week, I began to call for Dr. Moore, via Twitter, to please address Revoice. His busyness with other things – both trivial and significant – appeared to communicate a lack of concern. In the days after June 13, he tweeted twice about a rap video, in which he appeared, congratulating J.D. Greear on his election as SBC President. He tweeted about hoping to never hear another political address at the SBC. Four times he tweeted about an ERLC initiative on abuse of women. No less than twelve times he tweeted about his concerns with the effects of President Trump’s immigration policy upon children.

Surely, the risk of redefining the ethical teaching of Scripture on sexuality was as important to Dr. Moore as the danger of children being separated from their parents at the border for a matter of days. Long after any emotional trauma those children experienced has passed, the children of our churches will still be spiritually traumatized growing up with the false teaching that could take root in our churches if Revoice gets its way, while leaders like Dr. Moore remained silent. However, the silence finally broke.

The Silence Breaks

On Friday, June 22, at 4:27 PM (EST), Andrew Walker with the ERLC tweeted an article (https://bit.ly/2txd3i8) that spoke of his “pastoral concerns about how the Revoice Conference is being framed and the potential confusion it might sow among impressionable audiences.” At 5:26 PM (EST), Dr. Moore retweeted Walker’s article with the comment, “Good balanced analysis by my @ERLC colleague @andrewtwalk.”

I was immediately thankful that the silence had finally broken, and that Andrew Walker was “deeply skeptical” about The Revoice Conference. He expressed his concern for how Revoice was labeling homosexuals as a “sexual or gender minority,” and how they were “appropriating the language of sexual and gender progressives who have zero interest in maintaining any semblance of Christian teaching.” In addition, Walker stated that “speakers and presenters at Revoice have made alarming arguments in the past.”

That said, I was surprised and remain concerned by several things. I know, some will say, “First he had a problem that Dr. Moore had not said anything. Now he has a problem with what he did say.” As a pastor, I know what it is like to have people who are never satisfied with anything I do. I pray that is not my attitude. I have not been an avid critic of Dr. Moore, and I detest those who paint him with a tail and a pitchfork no matter what he does. However, I share equal disdain for the fanboys who circle the wagons whenever a legitimate concern is raised. Certain things are still troubling.

The Timing and Manner of the Response

The timing of the response’s release was strikingly odd. If you missed the statement altogether, you are likely not alone. It was released, in what is called in media, as a “Friday News Dump.” No one who is media savvy publishes anything remotely significant on a Friday – especially at around 5:00 PM. In addition, while Dr. Moore tweeted no less than twelve times in a week about Trump’s immigration policy, he has not pointed to Walker’s article since his Friday evening tweet. It makes one wonder whether Dr. Moore sees this issue as critical of an issue as Walker communicates.

This raises the question of why Russell Moore would delegate addressing this issue to a colleague. It was Dr. Moore that was personally asked at the SBC about Revoice, and he claimed ignorance about it. Why would he not educate himself and personally address the concerns?

Understanding the problems with the Revoice Conference does not require PhD level research. Fifteen minutes is sufficient to familiarize yourself with its direction. Dr. Moore could have gone to the Revoice website (http://www.Revoice.us) where he would have discovered topics such as, “Redeeming Queer Culture,” where attendees will learn about the “virtues of queer culture,” and “what queer treasure… will be brought into the New Jerusalem.” Dr. Moore could have been enlightened to “mixed-oriented marriages” where “gay men” – who continue to label themselves as such – are married to “straight women.”

If Dr. Moore did not want to take the time to peruse the website, he could have relied on the vast amount of research that was already available. On June 20, Dr. Mohler once again drew attention to what he called an “important article by Colin Smothers” that extensively detailed “the Revoice conference and its fundamental problems” (https://bit.ly/2tgGUeH).

If Dr. Moore had personally taken the time to research and respond, he would have been prepared to give a much stronger argument against Revoice than was offered in Andrew Walker’s piece. Walker’s approximate five-hundred-word response to Revoice was less than robust in comparison to all the lengthy and thorough responses that preceded it. Amazingly, neither Moore nor Walker even referenced any of these articles – many written by SBC leaders – that warned about Revoice.

While Walker merely referenced that the speakers held troubling views, other articles gave their graphic details. There is little doubt that Revoice is intended to be revolutionary in shaping the thinking of evangelical churches. What was once unimaginable to even openly voice is now considered worthy of “celebrating.” The views of many of the speakers are an assault on the doctrines of sin and sanctification. Although they all declare that LGBT people should not engage in homosexual behavior, they offer new definitions that are not biblical and will not help people overcome its power. Consider the published words of some of those speaking at Revoice :

  • “the desire to have sex with others of our own sex is a temptation to sin which is a result of the fall, but it is not, in itself, sinful.” – Ron Belgau
  • “the sexual aspect of Sodom’s sin involved gang rape, not a consensual and monogamous relationship between two men.” – Ron Belgau
  • “It wasn’t, for me, a matter of whether to be gay or Christian; I knew that I was both…” – Wesley Hill
  • “Perhaps celibate gay and lesbian Christians, precisely in and out of their celibacy, are called to express, rather than simply renounce and deny, same-sex love.” – Wesley Hill
  • “What if we could imagine a scenario in which a Christian businesswoman, after hearing her pastor preach a sermon about these issues, decided that her conscience would allow her to sell products to a gay couple to use in a wedding ceremony?” – Nate Collins
  • “To discern a path forward that enables gay people to view their sexuality as a possibility and not merely as a problem.” – Nate Collins

In addition to these few examples, Nate Collins, is the founder of Revoice. In his personal bio, he describes himself as a “married, same-sex-attracted/gay man.” At one time, this would have been shocking language coming from a pagan. However, it is stunning that this biographical description is chosen by Dr. Collins – a graduate and former NT Professor at SBTS.

It would be one thing if this conference were being conducted by a group of liberals from mainline Protestant churches, but these individuals are from our own theological camp. Dr. Moore’s slowness, timing, and delegated response is far from adequate. But there is one more critical point.

The Glaring Oversight of the Response

Some suggested that Walker chose a more cautious approach in his article, writing, “the Revoice Conference has not yet even occurred, so speculation about the conference could potentially be unwarranted.” Many have declared that we should “wait and see” rather than “rush and judge.” Perhaps Dr. Moore is taking the posture of “wait and see.” The only problem is that an ERLC Research Fellow has taken an attitude that gives the appearance of “embrace and endorse.”

When Dr. Moore was asked about Dr. Prior’s endorsement at SBC 2018, he declared ignorance about Revoice and waxed eloquently about his confidence in Dr. Prior. He spoke of her commitment to Gospel centeredness regarding homosexual issues. I also believe Dr. Prior to be deeply concerned about giving Gospel answers to those struggling with homosexual desires. This is why, being concerned about her endorsement, I privately contacted her because I was concerned about why she would endorse this event. I was not convinced by her reasons, but it was a pleasant interaction.

So, if I contacted Dr. Prior, why did Dr. Moore not take the time to do the same? Why would he not seek to understand her position before taking a position himself? More importantly, if he now believes Revoice to be dangerous, why has he not asked Dr. Prior to withdraw her endorsement as a Research Fellow for the ERLC? I know several people who would confirm that Dr. Moore is not shy to confront those who take a position that is opposite of his – especially if they are leaders in the SBC.

Therefore, shortly after Dr. Moore’s retweeting of Walker’s article, I gave four responses with this tweeted reply:

1. Thankful @andrewtwalk of @ERLC finally spoke on this.
2. Thankful @drmoore pointed to it.
3. How does @ERLC rectify saying the conference is deeply problematic, yet it’s endorsed by @KSPrior (ERLC Fellow).
4. @drmoore was asked this at SBC & it’s still a valid question.

Although Dr. Moore did not respond, Dr. Prior did respond with this tweet:

“We’re Baptists, Tom. We’re allowed to disagree with one another in the application of biblical principles.”

I responded:

“Yes. Baptists disagree. But there is complete agreement on this among the leaders of SBC about the serious doctrinal problems with this conference. After reading the strong words of @albertmohler and @ostrachan – and now @ERLC – would you reconsider your endorsement?

Dr. Prior responded:

“I never expected they would endorse it, and my endorsement of the aims of the conference is well-considered. I don’t know why you need everyone to agree on this, but I don’t have that particular struggle. I stand in support of those with SSA who desire to obey God.”

With all due respect, the issues surrounding Revoice are far deeper than “support of those with SSA who desire to obey God.” It is whether the kind of support Revoice offers is actually biblical and whether the answers the conference gives will help anybody truly obey God. I agree with every warning that I have read about Revoice – including that of Andrew Walker – and I believe this conference is a threat to the Gospel. Dr. Albert Mohler is correct to say, “My biggest concern in this conference and in the language that is used and in the conversation that many evangelicals are now having is that what you see in this conference is the acceptance of the idea that our sexual identity or any individual’s sexual orientation becomes a defining issue that isn’t changed by the gospel and isn’t transformed by sanctification.”

The glaring oversight of Dr. Moore, is that he has failed to ultimately address one of the fundamental questions that he was originally asked on June 13. The question that he answers only with silence. What about Dr. Prior’s endorsement of Revoice? Although his support of Dr. Prior was understandable when he was ignorant about Revoice, I believe his silence now is negligent.

Dr. Prior has every right, as a Baptist, to disagree and be the lone endorser of Revoice among SBC leaders. However, I do not believe that she has the right, as an ERLC Research fellow, to endorse something as dangerous as everyone declares that it is – including the voice of Dr. Russell Moore. I consider Dr. Prior my friend – I hope to remain her friend – but I believe she should step down from the ERLC or Dr. Moore remove her unless she withdraws her endorsement with a good conscience. I do not consider Dr. Prior to be a heretic, nor do I question her love for the gospel. My problem lies not with her sincerity, but her discernment. As Baptists, we can disagree, but our chosen views might prohibit us from being able to lead in certain capacities. It concerns me when someone serving on the ERLC does not exercise better discernment about crucial ethical matters that plague our culture. Dr. Moore should also be concerned, and once again break his silence.

 

Why I Signed the Nashville Statement—and You Should Too

Why I Signed the Nashville Statement—and You Should Too

In 1987, a very important statement was formed to provide clarity on human sexuality titled, The Danvers Statement.  The statement provided some helpful language on some difficult cultural matters back in 1987.  Over these 30 years, many cultural complications have arisen on the issues of biblical sexuality necessitating another statement.  The recent release of the Nashville Statement has provided quite a bit of cultural commentary and religious conversation.  Should pastors and church members sign this statement or is it merely a document that will do more harm than good?

Over the past week, I have been extremely busy preaching out of state in a conference along with the typical ministerial responsibilities at our church on Sunday which prevented me from reading all of the articles in full until early Monday morning.  After reading them and thinking through each affirmation and denial, I signed the statement.  Not only did I sign it, but I think you should too.

Clarity in a Culture of Confusion

Anytime throughout history when Christians publish creeds, confessions, and statements of faith—it’s always done with a desire to provide clarity on important doctrinal issues.  When the Nicene Creed was written, it was in response to the confusion provided by the false teachings of Arius.  The same thing is true of the doctrines that we know as Calvinism.  They were put into a systematic 5-point format in response to the false teachings of Jacobus Arminius and his followers.

Our culture today is swimming in a pool of depraved confusion regarding human sexuality.  In the wake of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the United States is sill very much divided on the issue of homosexuality—and the rest of the world is watching.  Our nation is headed down a dangerous road where other radical groups will soon press the law even further to see if they can have their way with other forms of vile sexual sin.  In this present sexual revolution—the world needs more clarity, more light, and more truth rather than gray areas and confusion on what is acceptable in the eyes of God.

Affirming Truth Is a Loving Thing to Do

Anytime a person or a group of people draw a line in the sand, progressive postmodern and postChristian sinners will protest.  The Nashville Statement has produced its fair share of protest, but should it be viewed as demeaning and hateful document?  The truth is not always an easy thing to receive, especially when the truth hurts.  In this case, the truth does offend people who have chosen to redefine marriage and reconfigure themselves sexually.

The Nashville Statement was formed out of love for the culture rather than hate.  The hateful thing to do for a culture that’s confused about human sexuality would be to allow people to continue down a broken road without warning anyone  The world needs to know that all humans are image bearers, and that marriage is one way in which God illustrates the gospel through human relationships.  One of the greatest ways to hate a culture is to allow people to muddy the waters on gender specificity and continue to rewrite the dictionary on human sexuality to the point that male and female are stripped of their masculine and feminine characteristics.  This is not God’s plan for humanity—and our culture needs to know the truth.

Affirmations and Denials Are Biblically Sound

The language of the Nashville Statement is founded upon the clear biblical texts regarding human sexuality, marriage, reproduction, gender distinctions, and the facts surrounding imago Dei within the whole of humanity.  What the protesters fail to consider is that the statement is far more than a group of Christians getting together to craft their opinion and put it on paper.  The words and sentences that form the affirmations and denials are built upon the foundation of God’s Word.  Far more important than a group of Christians sharing their opinion is a group of Christians sharing God’s Word.  That is what the statement intends to communicate clearly to a confused culture.

There Is Always Room for Improvement

No matter how strong the creed or how biblically saturated the confession, there is always room for improvement when it comes to human vocabulary.  We are limited when it comes to articulating truth with language.  Choices have to be made regarding terms, sentence structures, and specific vocabulary that make up each affirmation and denial.  The goal is clarity, but not every sentence will always accomplish this goal—including the Nashville Statement.

One way to improve the statement would be to include biblical citations in the text (or at least at the bottom) so that as people read the affirmation and denials the text of Scripture can be clearly tied to the vocabulary choices that are used in the statement.  It would also be helpful to provide a good dictionary of terms so that everyone can operate from the same source during the cultural conversation as opposed to using conflicting dictionaries.

Furthermore, the statement could have been written sooner.  When the nation was going through the debate on same sex marriage and churches were drafting statements to amend their constitution and governing documents—the Nashville Statement would have served a good purpose to stand in open opposition to the cultural trends on same sex marriage before the ruling and would have provided assistance to pastors and churches in the process.

Don’t refuse to sign the statement based on superficial reasons.  The statement is good, helpful, loving, and needed in our day.  Take time to read through the statement and add your name to the list.  Consider downloading it and e-mailing it to your church in order that believers in local churches can be kept up to speed with this important conversation and so that the church can be further discipled on these important doctrinal distinctives.

Would Jesus Bake a Homosexual Wedding Cake?

Would Jesus Bake a Homosexual Wedding Cake?

A few days ago Jack Phillips broke his silence for the first time since the announcement that the Supreme Court would be hearing his case.  He appeared on “The View” to answer questions about his reasoning for refusing services to a homosexual couple.  As you can imagine, the women on “The View” went for the jugular, and Joy Behar made a very presumptuous statement that deserves attention.  With quite a bit of confidence, Behar insisted that Jesus would have baked the cake for the two homosexual men who entered Jack’s bakery.

Although the conversation that surrounded Jack Phillips’ discrimination case contained many erroneous statements and false ideologies about Christianity and the reliability of the Bible—consider the following reasons why the Jesus of the Bible would not have baked a cake for a homosexual wedding celebration.

Jesus Is God

First of all, Jesus is not a baker.  Jesus is God.  Jesus made that abundantly clear in his earthly ministry through his signs and wonders—and his preaching.  Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).  God does what he wants, when he wants, and all of it for his glory.  That being said, Jesus did not dance to the tune of the popular opinion of his day.  Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7).

The same Jesus who made the wind and waves submit to his cry of peace is the same Jesus who was with the Father during the days of the Old Testament when massive rocks of fire and brimstone came crashing down upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  It is theologically impossible to disconnect the Jesus of the New Testament from the God of the Old Testament—they are one—co-equal and co-eternal.

Jesus Is Committed to Biblical Marriage

The first miracle of Jesus’ public earthly ministry was pictured at a wedding in Cana of Galilee (see John 2).  That was not by accident.  It’s a clear reminder that Jesus celebrated the true biblical marriage as God originally designed it.  Jesus turned the water into wine at a wedding celebration, and just as Jesus celebrated God’s true design of marriage—we should do the same in our present day.

Jesus is committed to the definition he crafted from the beginning.  Keep in mind, Jesus was not absent when Eve was presented to Adam in the Garden of Eden at the very first wedding ceremony (Gen. 2:18-25).  As Colossians teaches (see Col. 1:15-20), when the creative genius of the Trinity was bursting forth and the entire universe was being fashioned by God’s powerful word—Jesus was present and involved.

Marriage is not something that man thought up as a nice idea for human civilization.  Marriage was instituted by God from the very beginning and since God wrote the original dictionary for the family—Jesus would not support nor celebrate any revision or change to his original plan.  Suppose a graffiti artist from New York was invited into the Sistine Chapel to reshape and change the work of Michelangelo. Do you think Michelangelo would support the new updated graffiti renditions to his original work?  Not in the slightest degree.  The new changes and alterations to biblical marriage are a far greater insult to Jesus who instituted marriage.

Jesus Condemned Homosexuality as Sinful

Many people want to claim that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.  That simply is not true.  Jesus said something very clear about the subject of sexual sin.  According to Jesus, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21-23).  The word translated “sexual sin” is the Greek term—πορνεία.  This particular word encompasses many different and varied definitions of sexual misconduct including beastility, adultery, homosexuality, and various forms of fornication.

We know that Jesus embraced the totality of God’s Word as truth and reliable, therefore, as we consider the other references to such sin in the New Testament, we find Paul condemning it as well in Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, and 1 Timothy 1:10.  For Jesus to celebrate a homosexual wedding by making a wedding cake in their honor would be for Jesus to contradict the Word of God that came to us by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  This would mean something far more than Jesus merely disagreeing with a written document.  This would result in a fracture among the Trinity as Jesus violated the Father’s ordered plan in creation and the work of the Spirit in the Scriptures.

Why Did Jesus “Hang Out” with Tax Collectors, Drunkards, and Gluttons?

Often we hear people make a mistake by concluding that Jesus condones sin because he was seen spending time with the outcasts, sinners, and the reproachable of his day.  We must be clear regarding Jesus’ intentions.  First and foremost, spending time with people should not be equated with condoning their sin.  That’s simply not an appropriate conclusion—not reasonable or logical—and certainly not theologically accurate.

It must likewise be pointed out that while Jesus spent time with sinners, his goal as the “friend of sinners” was to bring the outcasts near to God.  Jesus came on a mission of salvation.  Jesus came preaching repentance—not tolerance.  The ambition of Jesus’ friendship with sinners was to show mercy to the outcast (1 Cor. 1:26-29) and to bring people out of darkness into the marvelous light of Christ (John 8:12; 1 Pet. 2:9).  Jesus never once encouraged or condoned people to remain in a perpetual lifestyle of sin.

To put it bluntly, the women on “The View” made it clear in their presumption that they don’t know the Jesus of the Bible.  If they had known the Jesus of the Bible, they would not see any contradictions between Jesus’ friendship with sinners and his preaching of repentance.  They would have been able to clearly see that Jesus’ preaching ministry clearly called out sexual immorality as sinful.  Furthermore, they would not have suggested that the true faith of Jesus is “progressing” and “changing” to accept homosexuality.  The world, the flesh, and the devil will always work to be tolerant of sin.  Sometimes religious groups will swerve from the true faith, but Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

Any true definition of “repentance” will surely show that Jesus was not playing the tolerance game.  Keep in mind—if Jesus was the messenger of “tolerance” rather than the gospel, he would likely have never been crucified on the cross in the first place.  Jesus came as a preacher of righteousness and was crucified on the cross as the Savior of sinners.  As Jesus died on the cross he was paying the sin debt of many who would engage in the sin of homosexuality.  That’s why some of the church at Corinth had been spared from that lifestyle, because they were cleansed by Jesus Christ.  Jesus went to the outsiders in order that they would become insiders.  Jesus did not come to praise sinners—he came to save sinners.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 — Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [10] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. [11] And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (ESV)

 

What Does the Rainbow Really Mean?

What Does the Rainbow Really Mean?

This week, as we traveled down the highway, our family spotted a beautiful rainbow to the east as the sun was setting in the west.  The contrast of colors filling the sky was stunningly beautiful.  As we pointed to the rainbow in the sky, we asked our youngest daughter if she understood the meaning behind this beautiful spectacle that reappears in the sky on certain occasions.  She responded by saying that there was probably gold at the end—so after a quick chuckle we talked about the real meaning of the colorful bow in the sky.

The Origin of the Rainbow

The rainbow finds its origin in a covenant that was made to Noah after the great flood.  The Bible records that event in Genesis 9, and the whole backdrop can be seen leading up to the Noahic covenant.  God was angry with the depraved population that filled planet earth.  He commissioned Noah to build the ark in accordance with his plan of judgment and salvation.  Only Noah and his family (eight people in total) were saved from the fury of God’s vengeance.

After flooding the entire world with a global flood, God made a promise that he would never again destroy the world with water.  In order to communicate this promise, God not only spoke it to Noah, but he also hung a majestic bow in the sky.  Genesis 9:12-17 records the scene of God’s promise to Noah and future generations:

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

The rainbow, like all of God’s creation, reflects the beauty and majesty of God.  The radiant colors and glorious appearance of a rainbow in the sky points to the existence of God and reflects his glory.  When we see a rainbow, we should consider how much more glorious and beautiful God is and one day the whole world will see his glory shine in an unveiled manner.

The Hijacking of the Rainbow

A few years ago I was riding in a vehicle through a remote village high in the Andes mountains.  As we passed clusters of homes along the road, I noticed that many of the windows of the homes were decorated with a rainbow banner.  Immediately my mind went to the homosexual agenda.  I asked my friend who lives in Ecuador to explain, and he informed me that the rainbow banner represents a specific political party.

Why did my mind immediately go to the LGBTQ agenda rather than God’s covenant with Noah?  Years ago, a man named Gilbert Baker was one of the original architects who designed a plan to use the rainbow as a symbol of the gay pride movement.  Baker died at 65 in March of 2017 and is being honored this month at many LGBTQ events.  According to Baker, “The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.” [1]  The idea took off with a great deal of enthusiasm and soon large numbers of homosexuals were marching the streets of major cities in America waving, wearing, and identifying themselves under majestic and colorful rainbow banners and flags.  Today, that image is placed on bumper stickers and even appeared on the White House following the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015.  Baker would later recount:

The moment I knew that the flag was beyond my own personal experience – that it wasn’t just something I was making but was something that was happening – was the 1993 March on Washington. From my home in San Francisco I watched the March on C-SPAN and saw hundreds of thousands of people carrying and waving Rainbow Flags on a scale I’d never imagined. [2]

The Paradox of the LGBTQ Symbol

Interestingly enough, as the LGBTQ groups use the rainbow to identify their movement and to celebrate their freedom, God remains angry with sinners—including those engaged in the sin of homosexuality.  The rainbow was not created by God as a sign of God’s cessation of anger.  It was a sign to remember that God is holding back his anger and will not issue a global flood again.

The rainbow does not communicate that God is pleased with homosexuals.  It communicates that God remains angry with sin and sinners, but he has chosen to not destroy the earth with a global flood again.  That does not mean that God will not unleash his divine wrath.  It should be noted that when Christ returns, he will come clothed in wrath to judge all rebels of God.  On that day, people will run into the hills and hide in caves and no place will be safe—not even beneath a rainbow flag.

The very symbol used to promote freedom among the LGBTQ population is one that communicates the fact that God’s wrath is coming upon the world of sinners.  When Christ returns, he will certainly reclaim the rainbow for what it was originally intended for in the first place.  Even around the throne of God, there is pictured a majestic rainbow—used to communicate the glory of God (Rev. 4:3).  One day, the rainbow will no longer be misused by sinners to boast in their sin.  The rainbow will be reserved for the glory of God alone when Christ returns and makes all things new.

Until Christ returns, we must communicate the truth and the glory of the rainbow to our daughters and sons as we ride down the highway.  We likewise have a duty to communicate this same truth to others who have misused, abused, and hijacked a glorious symbol used by God to communicate a promise.  Veiled in God’s promise to not flood the earth with water is another promise that God remains angry with sinners.  God’s glory will shine again throughout the whole earth, but before then Christ will return in judgment (Rom. 2:8; Matt. 13:41-43; Matt. 24:51; Is. 66).  Therefore, we must point people to find their refuge in Jesus Christ, the only means of satisfying the divine wrath and holy justice of God.  Until Christ returns—we must point all people to Jesus Christ for salvation.  God loves to save sinners through his Son (1 Cor. 6:9-11).


  1. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RAINBOW FLAG [accessed 6-26-17]
  2. Ibid
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]