Are Christians our own worst enemy??

Today I had the privilege of being a part of a Q & A session at a high school Christian lunch time group. On any given week the group is usually about 30 kids. Today it was 45. It’s an unusual group because about half of the 30 regulars are not Christians. Obviously the Christian were out numbered today.

A few months ago the group set up a board in the school asking students to complete the following – “My biggest problem with Christianity is…”

Over the last few months the leader of the lunch time group has set out to address the issues people have. Today’s challenge was to answer the question of what Christianity has to say about homosexuality. It was a tough gig but very worth while I think.

Something that really hit me as I was listening to their objections, was the way they were very quick to attack what the Bible says, without actually knowing what the Bible says. Of course Leviticus was mentioned more times than I could count, but there was a complete ignorance to anything else the Bible has to say about homosexuality, or in fact, any kind of sexuality. There were some genuinely shocked faces when I said the Bible has lots to say about sex.

But I don’t really blame them. I suspect they are repeating the only info they’ve ever heard about the Bible and homosexuality. A week ago I meet with a teenaged Christian girl to think about these same issues. When I asked her “why does the Bible say homosexuality is wrong” she had a hard time answering. Eventually she said “I don’t know, all I know is that the Bible says its wrong”.

I’ll admit I’m kinda thinking out loud, but I feel like this is our fault, for having the wrong conversation for so many years. We need to not talk about the fact that the Bible says its wrong (cause everyone knows that anyway) and instead talk about the presuppositions that sit behind the conversation. For example, some things I noticed that all the students today assumed are – all desire is good, sex is a right for every person, and sexuality is integral to identity. The Bible has a lot to say about these 3 assumptions and without addressing them, anything the Bible says about homosexuality makes no sense.

I think unless we start moving the conversation we are our own worst enemy. What do you think?

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Jennifer Knapp & Larry King: Why We Always Lose this Debate

Jennifer Knapp is an american Christian singer/songwriter who recently made public her relationship with her girlfriend of 8 years.

A few weeks back she appeared on Larry King with pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard. Yesterday I read a very interesting blog responding to the interview and trying to answer this question –

Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?

The post highlights 4 interesting thoughts. The first one is particular helpful I think, (although still flawed)

1. We need to shift emphasis from the truth that “everyone is a sinner” to the necessity of repentance.

“We’re all sinners” comes up again and again in discussions like this. In her Larry King interview, Knapp realized the power of having the pastor admit that he too is a sinner. Once she received this admission, she had the upper hand in asking, “Then why are you judging me instead of me judging you?”

Whenever the discussion centers on “homosexuality is a sin… but we’re all sinners,” the traditionalist inevitably comes across looking like he is singling out homosexuality as a worse sin than all the rest. His protests to the contrary always ring hollow.

But this is the wrong way to frame this debate. We are not saying that some of us are worse sinners than others or that homosexuality is a worse sin than pride, stealing, etc. We are not categorized before God as ” better sinners” or “worse sinners.” Instead, we are either unrepentant or repentant. True Christianity hinges on repentance. The pastor on Larry King Live eventually made this point later on in the broadcast, but the rhetorical damage had already been done.

If we are to reframe this discussion along biblical lines, then we must emphasize the necessity of repentance for the Christian faith. The point is not that the pastor and the Knapp are both sinners. It’s that the pastor agrees with God about his sin, while Knapp remains in her sin without repentance. That is why he is questioning her Christianity, for Christian teaching makes clear the necessity of repentance as the entryway into the Christian family.

Ultimately, the debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.

I think I want to clarify more by saying Christianity hinges on knowing Jesus as both saviour AND Lord. And its in considering Jesus as Lord that repentance needs to be discussed. None the less, it’s a very interesting read. Read the whole thing here.

The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage

I spent most of my afternoon reading The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Things You Need to Know About What’s Really at Stake by Erwin W. Lutzer.

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I think this is an excellent book that encourages all Christians to think biblically about a delicate issue. But it doesn’t just encourage thought – it encourages action.

The thing that I like most about this book is that, in his intro, Lutzer first grounds us in the truths that are so often forgotten by Christians as we discuss these issues

We must lower our voices in this debate, speaking with respect and dignity. No matter how strongly we oppose the homosexual agenda, we are first of all called to be Christians who have the privilege of representing Christ to all the communities of the world, regardless of class, colour, nationality or “gender orientation”. […] We must never speak of homosexuality as if it is the one sin worthy of the eternal flames. Yes, the Bible does condemn homosexuality, but it also condemns a host of other sins that are rampant in the best of our churches. If all we do is shout at homosexuals across a chasm, be assured we will hear only the echo of our own voices ringing in the air.

Those sins are not only rampant in our churches, but in our lives as well. A point which Lutzer takes up in chapter 1.

We must repent of the double standard that sees the sin of the homosexual behaviour in a different category than adultery, premarital sex and pornography. We must plead guilty to the charge of bigotry, for we have acted as if our sins are minor in comparison to those of the homosexual  community, whose sin we think are of a different nature and category. This attitude of condemnation has caused us to lose our voice in the wider culture.

In my opinion this is our biggest problem. Why does the gay community think we are judgmental? Because often times we are!

This book is easy to read and quite short and yet covers a great deal. Lutzer discusses the effects of same-sex marriage on the tradition marriage (grounded of course in the Bible’s covenant based marriage), as well as its effect on children, the issue of adoption, the common arguments in affirming same-sex marriage, how and why the church should act and our continuous need for repentance, humility and hearts that seek God always.

At the beginning of the book Lutzer shares his motivation and thought process behind writing the book. He ends with this interesting paragraph.

Let no one say that we have to choose between loving homosexuals and opposing same-sex marriage. Biblically, love is defined not as license to legitimatize sinful behaviour of any kind, but love helps us to see there is a better way. Obviously, we must be as concerned about our own sins as we are about the sins of the homosexual community. We must be concerned enough to speak out about any action, heterosexual or homosexual, that violates God’s intended plan for marriage and the family.

Food for thought.