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Joe Schafer
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John, thanks for writing this. There are so many messed up, detructive ideas hidden in this gay activist agenda. Not just about the institution of marriage, but about what it means to be a healthy and whole human being. Although I've been a committed Christian for the last thirty years, and married for the last twenty, it's only recently that I'm becoming aware of how little I have understood and experienced the dimensions of marriage that God intends. I don't think it's an understatement to say that the theological understanding of human sexuality in our churches is shallow to nonexistent. There is a great deal of unreality, a huge disconnect, between what conservative Christians are teaching about marriage and what they are actually practicing and experiencing. A few days ago you wrote about pornography. Earlier this year, Michael Leahy (author of Porn Nation) visited our campus and I heard him speak twice. He spoke very passionately about the dangers of pornography and the devastating impact that it had on his life. But my own personal reaction, and that of many Christian students and campus ministers whom I spoke with afterward, is that we were left with the impression, "Okay, pornography is destructive, and with respect to sexuality our society is clearly messed up. But what is our answer? Where do we see a Christian understanding, experience, and display of monogamous, heterosexual relationships that are so stunningly beautiful and satisfying that by comparison all of the devil's cheap substitutes (pornography, promiscuity, homosexuality, etc.) are obviously exposed as fraudulent?" I think this truly goes back to our understanding of who God is. Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." God is a fellowship of three persons, coequal yet distinct, united in perfect love. He split the human race into male and female parts, equal yet distinct, and implanted in them powerful attraction that would bring them back together in a relationship of freedom and love, a perfect two-person fellowship that reflects the nature of God himself. The God-given affinity that men and women have for one another should exist at every level (physical, emotional and intellectual). But the plain fact is that so many of us have not been experiencing the kind of marriages that God designed us to have because we are broken; the image of God in us has been deeply marred by sin. I believe that Jesus Christ is truly the answer. What we need is not merely wise teachings and correct doctrines about human sexuality, but a demonstration of the Spirit's power among our married Christian couples. It is very disturbing to see Christians quickly denouncing homosexuality as a sin with little or no empathy for the broken lives of human beings caught up in the gay lifestyle, and with little or no understanding of how broken even our heterosexual Christian marriage relationships have become. Lord have mercy.
A very large part of the debate about homesexuality (and other kinds of extramarital sexual behavior) in the western church is a proxy war over the authority of Scripture. I think it would good for us to explicitly recognize this, stop using homosexuality as a pawn, and have more honest, intelligent discussion of how we understand Scripture. Selective application of laws from the book of Leviticus is a disturbing practice that reveals a serious lack of understanding about the Bible, the relationship between the Old and New Testaments and the gospel itself.
John, thank you for this illuminating series of posts. It's amazing to me how people can sniff out controversy and suddenly appear out of nowhere to post comments on an issue like Ergun Caner, and then suddenly disappear as soon as the discussion moves on to topics that are of greater importance. How odd it is that the newsflash "Pssst -- John Armstrong is defending Ergun Caner!" could spread so quickly. It reminds me of James 3:5: "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." Perhaps someday we will stop loving gossip and begin to despise it as much as God does.
"As an example, they will say I say one thing but clearly mean something else." John, I agree that this is a very insidious problem. At the heart of slander is the tendency to ascribe or impute motives to people that are not really there. They put words in your mouth that you did not speak and thoughts in your mind that you did not think. We all do this to an extent, but it is very dehumanizing. It supposes that we have that person all figured out when we do not. After 20 years of marriage, I could easily think that I have earned the right to listen to what my wife says and read between the lines to infer what she really thinks. But when I do, I still get her wrong a substantial portion of the time. After having followed your blog closely for several years and interacting with you personally, I think I know where you are coming from. But I still have to read your words very carefully, because my intuition is not always correct. It is interesting to me that two people have responded to this post with comments about Ergun Caner when you did not mention Caner even once. They appear to be interpreting this article as being *really* about Caner. I interpreted it very differently. This is the third in a series of related posts. The first was primarily about Caner, the second was less so, and this third post doesn't mention him at all. My sense is that this third post is at the heart what you *really* wanted to say, that the Caner controversy was simply a motivating example to get the conversation started, and that the conversation is no longer about him at all. Is that a fair reading?
Hi John. You concluded that "he is an ideologue who wants to disown his ideology for the sake of his election." Perhaps so. But he could also be a political novice whose ideology was genuinely challenged and has been forced to rethink his position and soften his stance. How would we ever know the difference? If he were to honestly rethink his position and honestly tell people that he was doing so, he would get slammed for that too. Isn't it ironic how we (the whole country) complain about dishonesty in our politicians, yet we punish those who dare to be honest?
Hi John, I just listened to the wonderful talk you gave at Moody on May 17. Thanks for posting it at act3online. One thing that you said there seems very relevant to our celebration of Pentecost: "Revivals and outpourings of the Spirit... bring with them a fresh expression of Christian unity." A.W. Tozer had a different view of this. He claimed that the Spirit does not come to establish unity, but rather, the Spirit comes after Christians have put aside their problems and differences and come together as one in the name of Christ. I think Tozer was on to something. Recently I have been looking over Acts chapters 1 and 2, and it is striking how much Luke emphasizes the growing unity of the fellowship of disciples during the ten days between the Ascension and Pentecost (1:14, 1:14, 1:15, 1:17, 1:26, 2:1). In my own limited experience, I have seen that the work of the Holy Spirit and striving for unity are closely intertwined.
Toggle Commented May 23, 2010 on The Feast of Pentecost at John H Armstrong
John, thanks for these helpful articles. I think that the situation has been made much worse by today's polarized, hyper-partisan political environment. There is a great fear among conservatives that offering illegals a path to citizenship will swell the voting rolls of the Democrat party and give them a permanent majority status. And, on the other hand, I am quite sure that many on the left are salivating over the prospect of increasing the size of a Hispanic constituency that has tended to support Democrats. Yes, one could say that many of these new voters would tilt conservative on some issues (e.g. abortion), but those are probably not the issues that would drive their political affiliation. I'm not sure what could be done about this. But the possibility of upsetting the current balance between the two major parties is a gorilla in the room, and without acknowledging this, I see little hope for comprehensive immigration reform. But I do hope and pray that this would not stand in the way of a smaller and sensible initiative like the DREAM Act.
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May 21, 2010