December 2015

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Gospel Coalition joins the gay celibate movement (7); the heart of the issue...

For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. (1 Corinthians 11:7)

Evangelicals have no doctrine of sex. We have Biblical commands we are scrupulous to obey and Greek words we are scrupulous to defend the meaning of, but we have no theology of sex.

Actually, though, it's worse than that: we are opposed to any theology of sex.

Yes, some of us still believe the husband should be the head of his wife. Some of us also still want the father to be the head of the home and the guy preaching Sunday morning to be an actual guy. Some of us, also, still think our church's elders should be guys.

Other than those few things, though, we believe in little more than body parts. Probably women should still be the sex that gestates and men should provide food for gestating women. Also, in most Christian homes, it's likely still good for the mother not to have to put her kids in daycare—especially while she's nursing.

Beyond men having servant leader, tie-breaking authority in private Christian places and Christians having certain scruples concerning the proper use of body parts, though, we have no theology of sex. This is the reason Evangelicals have no problem with the "gay Christian" lobby as long as these "gay Christians" living with one another in "spiritual friendships" promise not to have sex with each other. If they go off the reservation and say they're going to go ahead and have sex with each other, after all, we finally find our principles and tell them it's sin. But without the improper use of body parts, there is no sin. Identity is one thing. Body parts are something else. Body parts are serious business. They're visible. They don't lie and they have to be obeyed...

Gospel Coalition joins the gay celibate movement (6); uncertain notes always have a context...

For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? (1Corinthians 14:8)

What's the context for Gospel Coalition and various Southern Baptist profs from Louisville coming out against reparative therapy and loudly pronouncing "there’s no place in the Bible where heterosexuality is commanded"?

The context is our culture's hatred of the law of binary heterosexuality instituted by God in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall. Every law and every person in our culture who teaches the male and female heterosexuality Jesus proclaimed was "from the beginning" is under relentless attack and the battle has been going against us for decades, now. So we have to decide whether to continue to fight out of love for our neighbors, or to throw in the towel. 

The recent attack upon reparative therapy and heterosexuality is the new sweet spot where Christians weary of the battle are hiding, hoping to wait it out until the artillery shells are gone and the smoke over the battlefield has dispersed. They'd never say it, but keep your eye on where these men are in relation to the rockets' red glare and you'll note how carefully they've placed themselves.

"Just tell them we don't believe in heterosexuality! We believe in Jesus. Tell them the Bible doesn't call men to heterosexuality! Tell them we are Christian counselors and we are against reparative therapy, too!"

Readers may object, saying these are principled men who are taking a stand against reparative therapy and heterosexuality because of their commitment to Scripture. That it has nothing to do with any desire to escape our culture's hostility against reparative therapy and heterosexuality.

So let me get this straight. The motives of shepherds of God's flock are always pure? They ought never to be questioned or judged?

John, get your gun...

(NOTE: “Johnny” is a diminutive of “John.” After titling this piece, it occurred to me that using the title “Johnny get your gun” would be seen as disrespectful, so I’ve changed it to “John, get your gun.” I respect John Piper and apologize for a title that didn’t show proper respect for him.)

The Reformed church has been all atwitter over John Piper’s response to Jerry Falwell encouraging the students of his Baptist college to get a gun and help protect the campus against armed attack. John tells his readers that he talked with Jerry before writing him up. Then, he frames his response to Jerry this way: 

The issue is about the whole tenor and focus and demeanor and heart-attitude of the Christian life. Does it accord with the New Testament to encourage the attitude that says, “I have the power to kill you in my pocket, so don’t mess with me”? My answer is, No.

Of course, this is an uncharitable summary of President Falwell’s position since no one carrying a gun on Liberty’s campus is primarily concerned about himself. Christians don’t carry guns because they don’t want to be killed themselves, but because they want to be faithful to defend others—particularly women and children. This is our calling as Christian men. We defend the innocent and defenseless. It would have been more kind for John to phrase it this way: “I have the power to defend my sisters in Christ here in my holster, so don’t mess with them!”

(Henry Holsters are the superb work of a member of our church, Andrew Henry. Buy one.)

I haven’t read any of the responses to John’s anti-gun piece except Doug Wilson’s. Doug makes a good point when he begins his defense of John this way...

Patriarchy: lessons from Bethlehem...

Over the years, I've often repeated a truism I'd heard as a younger man concerning the sins typical of men during our youth, middle, and old age: we begin with sex, then move on to money; but we end with pride. The past few years this has come home to me with great intensity as I've watched men I respect suffer because of their pride. They have lost others’ respect for them. Their church or religious organization has imploded. Their leadership has become grossly attenuated. Their families have privately suffered severe conflict.

I’ve talked with my wife and closest pastor friends about this quite a few times the past couple of months and we have come to wonder whether we have not gotten things wrong with respect to what God hates? We think He hates rebellion and antinomianism—which He does, of course. His Word tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.

But then this...

Star Wars: "Rey is a woman who refuses to be defined as one."

NOTE: Son Taylor says I'm all wrong about this, and maybe I am. Read The Atlantic article (linked below in the original text of this post) and decide for yourself if they're right as they're wrong, if you know what I mean? Regardless, what a contrast this is to the Blessed Virgin Mary about whom I'm preaching this morning. So this additional material from The Atlantic:

And Rey proves herself to be, in extremely short order, extremely adept as a fighter. She is brave. She is smart. She is resourceful. She is a pilot of Soloian skill. She has a ninja-like command of a bow staff.

The plot of The Force Awakens, in fact, revolves around—relies on—Rey’s martial abilities. It also gently mocks the characters who would doubt those abilities. Finn, in particular, repeatedly attempts to inject chivalry into situations where chivalry is drastically out of place. During a fight the pair has against the First Order troopers, he runs over to Rey in an attempt to rescue her—only to realize that her attackers have already been neatly dispatched with. When Finn grabs her hand as they flee, she snaps, “I know how to run without you holding my hand.” (A few moments later: “Stop taking my hand!”) When Finn asks her, after another battle with intergalactic baddies, “Are you okay?” she shoots him a why-wouldn’t-I-be look. She replies, simply, “Yeah.”

They’re good jokes, but also loaded ones. Rey, after all, has been surviving all this time not just without her family—they left Jakku years ago, and she’s waiting for them to return—but also without, for the most part, a society. And extreme self-sufficiency has a way of putting social conventions into relief. The broader joke embedded in all these small ones is that all the stuff that makes for chivalry (and inequalities, and patriarchy, and if you stretch things only a teeny bit, maybe even gender itself) is itself extremely contingent. It would never occur to Rey that she would be in need of chivalry’s attentions. She has neither the luxury nor the burden of being a damsel in distress; she’s too busy surviving. She fights alongside men and women and droids, superficial matters of identity—clothing, appearance, even gender—all subsumed under bigger questions that come down to, basically: “Can you fight?”

Now, back to my original post:

Mary Lee and I went to see the first Star Wars movie back during our first year of marriage. It was OK, but nothing special.

(Snark removed.)

Still there's no arguing with success. The latest cleared $100,000,000 the first night. That plus they've updated their sexuality to fit our times, which of course means the latest product exchanges God's gift of heterosexuality for man's wickedness of homosexuality...

Glory this Christmas...

Glory, the Everlasting Word Band's Christmas album has been out a month. If you haven’t heard it yet, give it a listen. Cheryl and I can't get enough of it. We're listening to it over and over, kind of like we listened to Good Shepherd Band's Repeat the Sounding Joy several years ago, and some of the latter albums by the musicians of Mars Hill Church--Ghost Ship and Dustin Kensrue especially. Several years ago Cheryl and I drove through southern Europe for a month with our youngest son and daughter, listening to the Ghost Ship and Dustin Kensrue worship albums over and over and over on the rental car's stereo. This album is the Christmas equivalent. It's a fabulous piece of work.


Gospel Coalition joins the gay celibate movement (5); lending a hand to those working to criminalize reparative or conversion therapy...

For twenty years or so, the battle lines were drawn up over whether or not our Supreme Court would strike down state laws prohibiting homosexual acts. With even conservative Reformed seminary professors such as Covenant Theological Seminary's David Jones calling for the repeal of these laws, it was inevitable the Supreme Court would take Jones's cue. The battle stretched over several decades, but in time SCOTUS repealed all state laws prohibiting homsexual relations.

The battle lines then were drawn up over whether or not our Supreme Court would strike down state laws prohibiting homosexual marriage. Again, conservative Reformed seminary professors and pastors refused to defend the Western world's historic commitment to heterosexual marriage. Building upon their prior ruling bringing the force of law to bear in support of homosexual relations, SCOTUS consolidated the ground they had taken and repealed all state laws prohibiting homosexual marriage. 

Now the battle lines are drawn up over what is called "reparative" or "conversion therapy." Such therapy is the outworking of the Christian doctrine of sexuality and those who practice this sort of counseling work to move souls caught up in effeminacy toward embracing their manhood or womanhood given them by God. Christian pastors, psychologists, and family therapists call those caught in the prison of homosexual lust and identity to repent of it, and to plead with God to restore to them the nature he gave them at their conception when He created them male or female.

Across the country, our states and cities are passing laws criminalizing this Christian ministry. Once again, conservative Reformed professors and pastors are on the bandwagon. They too believe conversion therapy is bad...

Gospel Coalition joins the gay celibate movement (4); the unbearable lightness of age and sex...

If, as Gospel Coalition's men assure us, "Godliness is not heterosexuality," then "Godliness is not acting your age," either, and this man living as a woman and child is just peachy-keen, Christianly speaking. No joke.

If heterosexuality is not a calling from God with holiness being the obedience of that calling, neither is age a calling from God with holiness being the obedience of that calling. Gospel Coalition can have no objection to this man who denies his manhood and his age, chortling "I just get to play."

Gospel Coalition joins the gay celibate movement (3); "Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality"

(This is the third in a series of posts [first, second] on the Gospel Coalition's declaration, "Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality.")

He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created. (Genesis 5:2)

Gospel Coalition has a tough problem on their hands. With their pronouncement, "Godliness is not heterosexuality," they've backed themselves into a corner they share with a skunk that doesn't stop spraying.

The problem begins to come clear when we think of other formulations of the Coalitions' pronouncement—say "Godliness is not honesty" or "Godliness is not modesty." Honesty and modesty are accepted moral virtues. Certainly honesty is not the entirety of Godliness, but no one would buck at the statement "to be honest is to be Godly." Thus Gospel Coalition wouldn't dare to run the headline "Godliness is not honesty."

On the other hand, they did run the headline, "Godliness Is Not Heterosexuality." With this headline, the Coalition is trying to make a point they believe the church needs to hear as we seek to get a few more years of peace in this post-Obergefell world...

That smug feeling when you catch the reference to The Iliad... or make it...

It is too common a fault that men desire to be taught in an ingenious and witty style. Hence, the greater part of men are so delighted with lofty and abstruse speculations. Hence, too, many hold the Gospel in less estimation, because they do not find in it high-sounding words to fill their ears, and on this account do not deign to bestow their attention on a doctrine so low and mean. 


Justice Primer; is this really a scandal?

Canon Press has pulled their recent book, Justice Primer, from their list, issuing an apology for some few sentences which were unattributed to their original authors. Doug Wilsons' co-author, Randy Booth, has acknowledged he is the guilty party, and the father-rule haters are gleeful at their success in humiliating Doug.

Yet here in the calm, solely by the grace of God, there are a couple things that need to be said about pastors and books.

Most pastors, to a greater or lesser degree, use manuscripts in the pulpit, and therefore write from 2,500 to 10,000 words each week, just for their preaching. As we write those manuscripts, we have first read and read other men's preaching and teaching, so when it comes to writing our manuscript, we pull in direct quotes from others' work and face the decision whether to cite that work in our manuscript, itself; but also, whether to cite that work in our preaching on Lord's Day. It's similar to the work of a prof lecturing. If we had a way to record profs' lectures and run them through a search site that included all copyrighted works, it's long been my conviction that a large percentage of academics' lectures would be found to contain plagiarism. But is it really that simple?

We can all see the difference between preaching and lecturing, on the one hand, and blogging and writing articles and books, on the other hand...

Calvin on the "gay Christian" movement...

Pastor John Calvin teaches what any good reader of Scripture in any age but our own sexually confused age would have readily understood: service to lusts and service to God are incompatible. The godly give "nothing more than an unwilling and reluctant service to the flesh," refusing always to "flatter themselves in their vices, as if they could reconcile light and darkness."

Below is the whole chunk from Calvin's comments on Matthew 6:24: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." Apply his comments to the current attempt by Reformed luminaries to commend the "gay Christian" movement, thus emulsifying the service of sinful desires with service to God.

As Calvin here says, "God ...hates a double heart [and] all are deceived, who imagine that He will be satisfied with the half of their heart"...