Interpreting the Election Results

Once again, I have proven myself a terrible political pundit. I saw an outside chance at a Trump victory, but it looks like we have ended up with a Trump (and Republican) landslide. I have conflicted thoughts on this day after. I see reasons for both encouragement and caution. Continue reading

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Loving LGBT Neighbors in the Hatmaker Conversation

All of the sexual confusion and controversy of our age can be understood simply as an impasse between two different approaches to ethics, based on two different visions of the Good. One approach, the traditional one inherited from 2,000 years of Christian history, sees the external world as having a certain “givenness” to which my inner self should seek to conform. The world has been designed to operate a certain way, and not by me, and one of the ways I bow in submission to the Lord who designed and created the world is by seeking to conform my inner desires to the way things actually are in the external world. If I find a point of discord between my heart and the world, then I must assume the problem is in me and address it accordingly. If I have male anatomy but feel like I should be a woman, I assume that something has gone wrong with my feelings, and the best option to pursue is working through the difficult process of changing my feelings to match reality. If I have female anatomy but am sexually attracted to women, and thus attracted to a union that cannot, by definition, be oriented toward the fruitfulness of procreation and family, I must assume that my desires have become disordered and begin the difficult process of working to control them. Continue reading

Jen Hatmaker and a Christian Sexual Ethic

It was unfortunate to see this week Jen Hatmaker publicly affirm support for same-sex relationships in her interview with Jonathan Merritt. Her support is clearly not limited to a pragmatic consideration pertaining to public policy but also includes the affirmation that a sexual relationship between same-sex partners can be holy, and thus morally legitimate.

As we continue to witness, one-by-one, Christian leaders and public figures embrace the legitimacy of homosexuality, it is important to recognize the reality of what we are witnessing, which is nothing short of the gradual abandonment of the Christian faith. I know that Christians have always had in-house debates about this issue or that, and that we land on various points on the spectrum on everything from the mode of baptism to the nature of the Israel-church relationship. But there is no such thing as a Christianity without a Christian sexual ethic, and the current attempt of left-leaning Christians to create one simply cannot succeed. Here’s why: Continue reading

We Have Passed a Threshold

As Western culture’s faith in the Triune God has receded, our sexual ethic has been completely transformed. Whereas heterosexual marriage used to be a clearly defined parameter for sexual intimacy, now our only rule seems to be “Do no harm.” As long as all parties involved are consenting adults, the sexual behavior has the blessing–or will soon have it, once we mature beyond our “yuck” impulses–of our culture. Continue reading

Augustine on Sex

I have been reading back through Augustine’s Confessions recently, and I have noticed an intersection between his thought on sex and my argument regarding contraception from last week. In Book II, Augustine recounts his adolescent years and first stirrings of sexual sin within him, a major theme throughout the rest of the work. But he begins by noting that his sexual deviancy was actually rooted in a good desire: “The single desire that dominated my search for delight was simply to love and to be loved” (2.2). However, “no restraint was imposed by the exchange of mind with mind, which marks the brightly lit pathway of friendship. Clouds of muddy carnal concupiscence filled the air.” Augustine’s Neoplatonic tendencies poke out here as he sets the purely immaterial contact of “mind with mind” over against “muddy carnal concupiscence.” In other words, his desire for bodily sexual union represents a baser, lower desire, or perhaps better, the turning of a good desire (for God) toward baser, material things. Continue reading

Regarding Contraception: A Response to Sherif Girgis

I suppose I will continue writing, for an audience of a few, responses to articles read by many, if for no other reason than as a way to think out loud about my own convictions on these issues. Sherif Girgis recently wrote a strong defense of the Catholic teaching on contraception, namely, that the use of contraception works against the purpose of sexual union and is, therefore, unethical.

My thinking as a Protestant is somewhat different on this issue. On the one hand, I affirm the Catholic moral teaching in its desire to maintain a close link between marriage, sex, and procreation. I agree that much of our sexual dysfunction as a society is owing to a severing of those things from one another. I believe every marriage should be open to the gift of children, that children are not a burden to dread but a blessing to receive, and that an over-reliance on contraception is likely indicative of a selfish mindset that desires all the pleasures of sex with none of the God-ordained responsibility. Continue reading

The Trinity Wars 2016

So here is what happened. Liam Goligher made some strong charges against some theologians who have argued that, within God’s own being, the Son eternally submits to the Father, and the Spirit eternally submits to the Father and the Son (see here and here). According to Goligher, theologians who make this move have abandoned Nicene orthodoxy, promoted idolatry, and subsumed their doctrine of God under a social agenda by looking to the Trinity as an analogy on which to ground their understanding of men and women (for record, Goligher himself affirms the complementarian view of male headship in the home and in the church). Carl Trueman added his own contribution along similar lines. The two theologians who are probably most in the crosshairs of these charges are Bruce Ware, who responded here, and Wayne Grudem, who responded here. Denny Burk, who shares the Ware/Grudem perspective, also offered these words in response. Carl Trueman has made three brief responses to Ware, to Grudem, and on the question of 1 Corinthians 11:3. If you want to take the time to read all of that, go ahead. I’ll wait. Continue reading

Where Does the Sexual Revolution Go from Here?

The sexual revolution that began in the 1960’s reached a watershed moment in the summer of 2015 when the Supreme Court issued a narrow 5-4 decision imposing a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples on all fifty states. Since that time, the revolution has turned its attention to the transgender movement, where main front of the culture war is now being fought. With every step in this revolution, left-leaning Christians have shown themselves willing to jump on board with the cultural momentum even while they have gone in search of new, creative ways to read and apply Scripture in order to justify it. Where will this revolution go from here, and how far will leftist Christians go with it? Continue reading

Persecution in America

I want to raise and address two questions here:

(1) Are Christians in America being persecuted?

I have heard it said that if we answer “yes” to this question, we trivialize real examples of Christian persecution that are happening in other places. But I don’t think the logic of that argument follows. I view persecution on a spectrum, with relatively lighter forms and more severe forms. There is no widespread violent persecution of American Christians that I am aware of, and to this point much of the persecution we face is simply verbal in nature. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t qualify as persecution. In making reference to the story of Ishmael and Isaac, Paul write in Galatians 5:29, “But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh [Ishmael] persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit [Isaac], so also it is now.” Paul clearly refers here to the story in Genesis 21:8-9, where Ishmael apparently laughed in mockery at his younger brother, and Paul refers to it as persecution. Therefore, it seems that we have biblical justification to refer to ridicule, mockery, and other forms of verbal hostility as a form of persecution. Continue reading