Hating Sin Sinfully (or, About that YouTube Video)

I saw something vile on the internet today. I suppose that is not especially surprising, but this particular bit of vileness came courtesy of a pastor, so I felt it was worth commenting on. Because Pastor Steven Anderson chose to broadcast his views on YouTube, I think it is appropriate to respond to him by name, in the spirit of Galatians 2:11.

Anderson is the pastor of a small independent Baptist church in Arizona, and his reaction to the Orlando nightclub massacre was to declare that “The good news is that there’s fifty less pedophiles in this world, because, you know, these homosexuals are a bunch of disgusting perverts and pedophiles.” His video goes on to misunderstand and misapply Levitical civil law by calling for the execution of homosexuals before finishing by lamenting the “bad news… that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive.”

Anderson has, of course, been roundly condemned from all corners of the Christian church, but I think it is worthwhile to spend a moment considering exactly why his video was offensive and, more importantly, sinful.

Read moreHating Sin Sinfully (or, About that YouTube Video)

Resign or resist? Thoughts on the Christian official’s dilemma

I always tell my students that ethics is one of the most vibrant and challenging areas of philosophy, because it asks how moral principles apply to our everyday world–and while morality is objective and eternal, our world changes with all the speed and unpredictability of an overflowing stream. As technology, science, and politics toss up new challenges, we have to figure out the right course of action in situations which previous generations might never have encountered. For example, what should a Christian elected official do when a constitutional right to same-sex marriage is suddenly “discovered” and enforced?

Yes, this is another article about (or at least inspired by) Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who was imprisoned for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. She was released from jail last week and announced on Monday that she would not block her deputy clerks from issuing the licenses, but even though her chapter of this story seems to be closing, her courageous stand raised issues for all of us to consider. I’m coming to the story late because, frankly, I wanted to take time to think about it. Morality doesn’t change, but human situations do, and Mrs. Davis’ particular flavor of moral dilemma has literally never existed before in history. I’m not just talking about same-sex marriage itself, but about the sudden imposition of same-sex marriage on a nation which is still unsure on the question and in which professing Christians hold elected offices which give them some degree of influence over marriage licenses. It is a unique moment, and one which calls for serious and prayerful thought about how those elected officials should respond.

Read moreResign or resist? Thoughts on the Christian official’s dilemma

Yes, the Bible does condemn homosexuality

In general, Christians will encounter two types of arguments in favor of homosexuality. The first simply casts the Bible aside as irrelevant, rejecting its authority, but the second kind of argument engages the Christian on scriptural grounds and argues that the Bible is actually not opposed to all same-sex intercourse. I recently came across a good example of this second kind of argument in “The Bible does not condemn ‘homosexuality.’ Seriously, it doesn’t.” Written by Adam Nicholas Phillips, a pastor in Portland, Oregon, it is a pretty characteristic summary of the main arguments that are offered for acceptance of homosexuality by Bible-believing Christians, so I decided to offer a point-by-point response in hopes that it would be helpful to those who have encountered arguments like this.

Read moreYes, the Bible does condemn homosexuality

So you’re talking to your gay friend

One of the things I love about teaching is the opportunity for unexpected conversations. Earlier this week, my apologetics class ended up taking a lengthy detour to discuss biblical teachings about homosexuality. Such classroom digressions are hardly unusual, but this one stuck with me afterward because the conversation vividly illustrated a tension and a struggle which I’ve felt myself when I get the opportunity to witness to a homosexual. My students believe the Bible. They recognize the reality of sin and the need for a savior. And they really, really don’t want to have to tell the nice gay guy with the friendly smile that he’s not allowed to pursue true love. I don’t want to either.

It really doesn’t matter whether you are born gay or choose to be gay, or a little of both. The fact is, right now, I’m talking to someone who is gay. And maybe he’s in love with another fellow, and feeling all the butterflies I remember from when I first looked at my wife and hoped I’d never have to stop. Or maybe he’s just hoping, waiting to find the right one. I remember that feeling too, and how the anticipation was almost fun at times, and terribly hard at others; but always the encouragement that maybe today would be the day I’d meet her. I can’t really imagine what it would be like to want another man, but I know very well what it’s like to want Someone–and that’s exactly who I’m telling my gay friend is off limits, forever.

Read moreSo you’re talking to your gay friend