I’ve said before that one of the biggest challenges the Church faces is itself. Christians need to stand firm against the pressure to compromise their convictions. Too often, though, I see believers capitulating to culture, especially on politically incorrect matters. I’m sympathetic to that impulse. I would love to go with the flow as well. That’s not what Christ commands us to do, though. We’re not to conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2).
That’s why it’s frustrating to see so many believers beguiled by bad arguments defending pro-gay theology. It seems there are two categories of these arguments: first generation and second generation. First generation arguments became popular in the 1980s and continued for a few decades. Second generation arguments take a little more time to explain why they’re wrong. Greg and I co-wrote a two-part Solid Ground series responding to some of these second-generation arguments here and here. Both generations of arguments are bad and mistaken. My point in this post is not to go into detail about all of them.
Rather, I want to point you to an article I recently updated that responds to a first-generation argument that still lingers around. It’s the claim that since Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, that means that homosexual behavior is morally permissible.
I know I’ve written about this in the past, but I’ve now bolstered my case with a few more points. There are now seven arguments responding to the claim that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. You can read the article here.
We (most of the STR office staff) just got back from seeing the movie Risen. I think it’s one of the best Christian movies I’ve seen, and it’s a movie that would be interesting (and not embarrassing) to bring a non-Christian to. There’s one omission, but it’s a significant one.
The Roman tribune Clavius is Pilate’s right hand keeping order in Jerusalem. So on Friday afternoon, Pilate sends him out to Golgotha to finish up the crucifixions taking place. He’s there to make sure everyone is dead and is surprised to find Jesus already dead.
On Saturday, Pilate calls on him to secure the tomb Jesus is buried in to appease the Jewish leaders’ concerns about His body being stolen. It’s interesting how the character of Clavius is used to walk through the evidence—the overwhelming evidence—why Jesus is dead and the tomb is secure. There’s no question a demoralized rabble is getting into that tomb.
Pilate sends him out to the tomb on Sunday to investigate how the tomb was opened and the body stolen. Clavius is an intelligent man and begins a thorough investigation. He examines the evidence at the tomb, and it can't be explained by a grave robbery. He interviews the witnesses and eventually interrogates Mary Magdalene and Bartholomew. Bartholomew has a silly smile on his face. Some of our staff thought that made him seem silly. I thought that if He’d actually seen Jesus alive after mourning his death that he would be giddy and have a smile nothing could wipe off his face. Clavius is finally confronted with incontrovertible evidence, and he’s literally stunned.
The movie doesn’t leave it inconclusive for the audience to decide. The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is about facts and reality, not subjective opinion. That’s a unique take for a movie about Jesus and, I think, one of the most significant things about this movie. It’s consistent with the Bible’s claims about the resurrection. It happened. He was physically resurrected, not a specter or spiritual presence. The reality and Clavius’ response to it aren’t left open for the audience to decide for themselves. It happened, and there’s ample rational evidence to believe that.
Early in the movie, it’s clear Clavius is a pluralist. He’s a typical Roman—there are many gods and it’s subjective which ones you pray to. Even Yahweh is one more in the pantheon, no more true or superior to the others. But what Clavius confronts in the evidence he finds is objective truth. It calls for abandoning all the other gods and following the true way. This is very similar to our own culture now. Kind of amazing that we have so much in common with the Romans. This is the Christian message—a claim about reality and truth.
I liked the disciples’ joy. That would be the response to seeing the man they loved alive again. They are changed men and not afraid of anything, ready to obey His Great Commission.
The one omission is the Gospel—the reason Jesus suffered that tortuous death and then rose to defeat death. Forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with the Father. It’s one detail, but it’s a glaring omission. The message we hear Jesus teach in the movie is love. There were a few great moments in the movie where a simple exchange of words could have conveyed Jesus’ purpose. The movie does convey that the evidence compels a decision about Jesus.
The movie goes the whole length of the course and then stumbles an inch from the finish line. But it may as well be a mile because of the significance of that omission.
It’s well worth seeing. The violence isn’t too graphic, so it’s suitable for older children. It does what so many portrayals of Jesus’ life don’t do—it deals in the realm of facts and reality. But Jesus’ message wasn’t about loving each other. It was about how great the Father’s love that He gave His only begotten Son to take the penalty of our sin so we could enjoy reconciliation with Him.
The Gospel According to Columbo by Alan Shlemon: “At Stand to Reason, we’ve always been intrigued by Columbo’s inquisitive style and believe it’s a powerful way to engage people. Here’s what I believe he’d say if he were to present the Gospel. He’d ask three questions. Do you believe people who commit moral crimes ought to be punished? Have you ever committed a moral crime? Would you like to be pardoned? Let’s look at the reasoning behind each question.” (Read more.)
Was Adam a Real Person? by Tim Barnett: “What’s at stake in denying the historicity of an original Adam? Theistic evolutionists insist that there is no great loss. For instance, in his book Evolutionary Creation, Denis Lamoureux states, ‘My central conclusion in this book is clear: Adam never existed, and this fact has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of Christianity.’ I adamantly disagree. In fact, I believe that there are serious consequences in rejecting Adam as a historical person.” (Read more.)
Students Don’t Have to Be Intimidated by Evolution by Brett Kunkle: “Christian students are often intimidated by Darwin’s theory. When their high school biology teacher or college professor covers evolution, they cower. They feel ill-equipped to counter the scientific case for evolution. They don’t even know where to begin. So I give them a simple starting point: define evolution.” (Read more.)
There are numerous scriptures in the Bible that clearly pronounce that a man is superior to a woman, which was consistent with the times it was written. Consider the following scriptures:
1 Corinthians 11:3: But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:8-9: For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
But times have changed. Societies the world over have bent over backwards to give women equal status and opportunity. Most marriages are now viewed as a 50/50 venture, a two-person team, as opposed to a master and a helper. The sticking point is that a real God and those he allegedly inspired would have foreseen this ultimate evolution of societal mores.
There are definitely some unstated assumptions behind this challenge, so there’s much to say here. I recommend starting by thinking through those Bible verses to determine whether or not they’re speaking of a hierarchy of value. (I think there’s enough in the first verse alone to prove otherwise.) His views on the grounding of morality (see his last sentence) and the place of roles in determining value are also problematic. I’d like to hear your positive case, as well: What does the Bible actually teach about the value of men and women?
Tell us how you would respond to this objection in the comments below, and Brett will post his video response on Thursday.
After refusing to bake a cake that said “support gay marriage,” a couple in Northern Ireland was convicted of political and sexual orientation discrimination. Now LGBT activist Peter Tatchell is publicly disagreeing with the court’s decision, saying, “Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion.”
[T]he court erred by ruling that Lee was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation and political opinions.
His cake request was refused not because he was gay, but because of the message he asked for. There is no evidence that his sexuality was the reason Ashers declined his order. Despite this, Judge Isobel Brownlie said that refusing the pro-gay marriage slogan was unlawful indirect sexual orientation discrimination. On the question of political discrimination, the judge said Ashers had denied Lee service based on his request for a message supporting same-sex marriage. She noted: “If the plaintiff had ordered a cake with the words ‘support marriage’ or ‘support heterosexual marriage’ I have no doubt that such a cake would have been provided.” Brownlie thus concluded that by refusing to provide a cake with a pro-gay marriage wording Ashers had treated him less favourably, contrary to the law.
This finding of political discrimination against Lee sets a worrying precedent. Northern Ireland’s laws against discrimination on the grounds of political opinion were framed in the context of decades of conflict. They were designed to heal the sectarian divide by preventing the denial of jobs, housing and services to people because of their politics. There was never an intention that this law should compel people to promote political ideas with which they disagreed.
The judge concluded that service providers are required to facilitate any “lawful” message, even if they have a conscientious objection. This raises the question: should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs? If the Ashers verdict stands it could, for example, encourage far-right extremists to demand that bakeries and other service providers facilitate the promotion of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim opinions. It would leave businesses unable to refuse to decorate cakes or print posters with bigoted messages.
In my view, it is an infringement of freedom to require businesses to aid the promotion of ideas to which they conscientiously object. Discrimination against people should be unlawful, but not against ideas.
Tatchell gets it. He didn’t just reflexively cheer the punishment of his political opponents; he recognized the principle behind the ruling (a denial of freedom of conscience), considered what the result would be if the same principle were to be applied to everyone (including his political friends), saw that it was an unjust infringement of a natural right, and realized the whole society is better off when we protect everyone’s political and religious freedom of conscience. He put principle and natural rights above agenda, and I find that very encouraging.