That’s The Kind Of Boldness We Need

John is graciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or links to verses — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.

He was only at Terra Linda High during my Junior Year (if I recall correctly). During that year, the Lord saved him, and he was part of the Christian group that I was in. None of us noticed him very much since he was quiet and unassuming — unlike the rest of us. Due to his withered arm and slight limp, he didn’t impress us as being particularly strong or assertive.

We did notice him that day that we went to witness to the tough kids at school. As he presented the Gospel, one of the kids threatened to burn him with a cigarette stub. To our surprise, he puffed up his chest, took a step toward the kid and quietly said, “God ahead. I’ll take it for Jesus.”

Of course the kid with the cigarette backed down, but my girlfriends and I stared at each other in amazement. Where did he get that boldness? Did he know the kid wouldn’t really burn him? Was he really willing to suffer physical harm for the sake of the Gospel? My girlfriends and I could only gasp at his courage and wonder if we would have the same boldness.

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My Fear For Evangelical Ostriches

Generally, ostriches are among my favorite animals. I love their flirtatious eyes, if you really want to know (which you probably didn’t). I love emus for the same reason, and had my husband photograph this one at Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo:

But ostriches — and probably emus — have a reputation for burying their heads in the sand. Our culture has consequently turned their practice into a metaphor describing someone who tries to avoid unpleasant realities.

I’m thinking about that metaphor after a recent conversation with a Christian we know. John and I had watched a documentary about Corrie ten Boom, a Christian woman from Holland who had been imprisoned in a Nazi Concentration Camp during World War II. Corrie and her family had provided a hiding place for Jews fleeing persecution, only to be caught for doing so. Her father and her sister both died in Concentration Camps, while Corrie was unintentionally released due to a clerical error (and of course, God’s providence).

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Throwback Thursday: Distinctively Loving

Originally published September 21, 2015:

Rainbow Heart

When, pray tell, did liberal culture determine that standing for Biblical values, particularly (but not exclusively) in relation to homosexuality, constitutes hate? The very people that demand love and tolerance from Christians show the least tolerance toward those who view their lifestyle as sinful.

And yes, I realize that people claim homosexuality as an identity rather than a behavior. I even sympathize with their conviction that homosexuality is “who” they are. In most cases, such people have genuinely felt different from their same sex peers early in childhood, and sometime during puberty they sexualize this feeling. Therefore, they understandably conclude that they were “born gay.”

Admittedly, I present an over-simplification of the situation, but not as much of an over-simplification as many might have us believe. I only mean to say that I reject the notion that anyone consciously decides to experience same sex attraction.

Yet I also make a distinction between a person and their behavior. For example, I struggle with the sins of anger, greed and, selfishness, all of which I’ve exhibited  since early childhood. Scripture condemns these behaviors, even though I have reason to say, “That’s just who I am.” In obedience to the Lord, I repent of those thoughts, attitudes and behaviors, separating them from my identity. Similarly, I believe homosexual thoughts, attitudes and behavior don’t obligate a person to declare homosexuality as intrinsic to his identity.

Postmodern  culture demands that I make no such distinction. When I say that the Bible uniformly condemns homosexuality just as it condemns my ingrained sins of anger, greed and selfishness, people accuse me of bigotry and hatred. I resign myself to the reality that they characterize Biblical Christians in such terms, but I believe they make a mistake in so doing. Furthermore, I believe they err by judging Christians as haters.

The prevailing sentiment of postmodern society insists that we love people only by agreeing with their behavior. Love, according to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, never requires a capitulation to sin.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)

Love requires Christians to extend kindness with an attitude of humility, but it also does not allow us to celebrate sin. My husband responds to my outbursts of anger with patience, for example, but he never condones them and he expects me to repent of anger. He wants me to repent precisely because he loves me enough to encourage me to obey Christ.

I don’t mind if liberal culture calls me to address people with kindness and patience. But I do have a hard time when they decide that I’m unloving simply because I believe that God’s Word prohibits homosexuality. Such an assessment shows an incomplete understanding of love.

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Flashback Friday: He Said, “Look Mommy — I’m Wearing A Dress!”

Originally published March 29, 2017:

glory-cloud

A few days ago, someone told  me that her three-year-old godson met his mother when she came to pick him up from preschool, greeting her with the words, “Look Mommy — I’m wearing a dress!” Horrified, his mother asked him why he was in a dress. He pointed to his teachers and claimed, “Them gave it to me!”

“Oh no,” the teachers argued, “we gave him a choice. We want our children to use costumes to express themselves.”

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When Innocence Is Taken From Children

Little Girl Welcoming Advanced Mask

Do you remember the days when children thought God looked down from heaven, saw who the married ladies were, and put babies in their tummies? Except for Mary, of course — Jesus was special because His real Daddy was God, not Joseph.

Until I was 12, I quite contentedly believed that scenario. When my dad died, I understood that God wouldn’t  give Mom any more babies because she was a widow. And, despite having two gay relatives, I knew nothing about homosexuality until I was 18.

Looking back, I’m thankful to have been a child in such an innocent era. It breaks my heart that children today can’t have the innocence that guarded my childhood.

As early as the mid-1970s, things changed. I remember sitting in the neighborhood park during my college years, waiting for my sister to retrieve me. A boy no older than nine approached me, obviously curious about my Read More »

Why I Started #TellUsBeth On Twitter, And How You Can Help

Dear Beth Moore

It’s been just over six months since Susan Heck, Michelle Lesley, Elizabeth Prata, Amy Spreeman and I published the Open Letter To Beth Moore asking her to clarify her position on homosexuality. Aside from some ambiguous Tweets and an admission that she softened her wording in the Kindle version of one of her books, she has never directly answered any of the questions we posed.

It’s odd hearing crickets at this time of year.

Beth doesn’t owe me, as an individual, an answer. She doesn’t owe Susan, Michelle, Elizabeth or Amy, as individuals, answers. I would even say that she doesn’t owe each of the 500+ women who signed the letter answers. Not as individuals.

However! Recently I reread Michelle Lesley’s post, The Mailbag: Questions about the Open Letter To Beth Moore. One point in particular made me think Read More »

How Should We Witness To Homosexuals?

Gay Evangelism

I remember a presentation Frank Worthen gave on homosexuality and ex-gay ministry back in the early 1980s. More accurately, I remember his reply when someone asked how she should witness to  homosexuals. He said that their primary need was the Gospel, not deliverance from homosexuality.

“If they don’t know the Lord, they’re going to hell anyway — what does it matter whether they’re gay or straight?”

Frank had a way with words.

I thought back to his answer during a recent episode of The Dividing Line this weekend. In that episode, James White responded to criticisms against Read More »

Yes, Jesus Ate With Sinners — But Do You Understand Why?

Rainbow HeartThe argument goes that,  since Jesus ate with people that the Pharisees regarded as sinners, He accepted them as they were. As a result, He would embrace those whom conservative Christians supposedly reject today. In particular, He would champion members of the LBGTQ community, and shame on conservative Christians for calling their sexual orientation sinful!

Christians who believe that homosexuality and transgenderism require repentance constantly hear that we should follow Jesus rather than following Bible verses that condemn homosexuality and transgenderism. Jesus, they remind us, hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes, giving us an example to follow. When we dare to speak out against sexual sin — especially those sins under the LBGTQ umbrella — we face enormous censure for evidently failing to be Christlike.

But maybe we ought to look at an instance of Jesus eating with sinners and tax collectors. In this episode, Jesus has just called Levi (also known as Matthew) to follow Him. Luke 5:28 plainly says, please notice, that Read More »

Throwback Thursday: How Not To Subdue Pink Elephants

Originally posted November 1, 2017:

Pink Elephant

Funny how growing in the Lord and getting Biblical teaching changes the way one views things. A little over twenty years ago I left my position as correspondence counselor for an ex-gay ministry, largely because of my personal circumstances. Sure, a few things about the ministry bothered me a bit, but for the most part I believed in what they did. I accepted no criticism of them from any quarter.

To be clear, I still believe homosexuality violates God’s intent for sexuality. Those who engage in it, even if their engagement never extends beyond fantasy, stand guilty of sin. Furthermore I still believe homosexuality can, like every other sin, be forgiven and forsaken through the blood of Jesus Christ.

 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. ~~1 Corinthians 6:11 (ESV)

Over the passage of twenty years, however, I’ve come to question the wisdom of building an entire ministry around one specific sin rather than around the Lord. When people meet together, and especially when they live together in a residential program, should we really be surprised when they fall back into the very sin that they’re seeking to escape?

A friend once counseled me, when I was single and struggling with desires for marriage, that simply telling myself not to think about marriage would invariably backfire. “It’s like trying not to think about pink elephants,” she said. “The harder you try not to think about pink elephants, the more you think about them.” She was right. Try not to think about pink elephants, and see what happens.

The answer to controlling my fantasies wasn’t in thinking about how sinful my fantasies were. Nor was it in gathering with other single women and talking about the struggles to control our desires for marriage. We thought praying together and asking the Lord for psychological insight into the root causes for our desires would eventually free us from our bondage to romantic fantasies.

We ignored a simple principle from Scripture.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.~~Galatians 5:16-17 (ESV)

Walking by the Spirit means nothing other than filling our minds with God’s Word and ordering our lives in conformity with His teaching. It does require discipline, yes, and admittedly self-denial causes emotional pain. But the more we delight in the Lord, the less we want things that offend Him. Walking by the Spirit isn’t easy,  but it is certainly simple.

The Bible never advises us to surround ourselves with people who struggle with the same sin we do. Instead, it encourages us to look to Christ with a commitment to glorify Him.  In so doing, we really do experience victory over whatever pink elephants we battle.

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So She’s Almost Admitted It — What Do We Do Now?

Rainbow and CrossA week ago, Beth Moore made a comment during her TBN program, Staying Afloat on the Fellow Ship — Part 4, that subtly offers a clue that she leans toward the idea of homosexual attractions being morally neutral unless they result in sexual activity. I don’t choose to put the actual video in this article (lest it distract you from my main point), but you can watch it here, beginning at the 15.27 mark.

Elizabeth Prata wrote an excellent analysis of the clip in her essay yesterday, which I will also feature on this week’s Saturday Sampler.  Elizabeth decoded Moore’s handy Social Justice buzz words to help clarify that Moore indeed Read More »