A Response to Tyler Huckabee's "Why I Support Gay Marriage"

By Jonathan Lutz-Orozco

Looking online today, it is so easy to become consumed and overwhelmed with so much information on theology, God, religion, and our human experience. We have so much to share, think through, and debate, and nothing stokes the minds of so many like the topic of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Some have made their points and moved on, while others, such as myself, are working through its implications for our North American world today. One person who has argued his viewpoint is Tyler Huckabee, a blogger and editor for Relevant Magazine. Tyler wrote an article in July outlining why he supports gay marriage, and why it should not be considered a problem within Christian theology and the Christian worldview.

In his article, he points out a few arguments and points that are usually against gay marriage, and tries to either explain them away or reduce their importance to the discussion. In the following paragraphs, I wish to look at the points Tyler has brought up, and examine if the view he espouses regarding same-sex marriage is possible to hold from a biblical and theological point of view. Tyler brings up the five main themes or topics that have been used to support gay marriage.

The first point Tyler brings up is that women were made for relational capabilities over reproductive capabilities. He states:

I do not believe we must necessarily accept a literal reading of the creation narrative for this point to stand. Even as a myth, it is notable that the creation of woman was not primarily utilitarian, but relational. The core truth of Eve's identity was not that she was a woman, but that she was a human. Strictly speaking, God didn't create women to be anatomically useful, but simply to be. He didn't create love as a pleasant incubator to keep humanity coming, but because love is in His nature. The whole idea of childbearing doesn't even show up until God curses humanity's sin.[1]

By Nndd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThis issue is not so much the literal or poetic reading of Genesis; the issue is that Tyler sees that the utilitarian and relational reasons for women's creation are at odds. We cannot argue fact here, as only God Himself has His reasons for creating male and female, but from the text we can infer that God created woman for both relational and utilitarian reasons such as companionship for Adam and procreation of humanity. Tyler develops a false dichotomy in the text, and in Genesis 2 we also see that directly after the creation of woman, the ancient explanation of a heterosexual marital union is actually described (Genesis 2:23-24). Man was meant to cleave to a woman, and in the ancient Hebrew culture this was a very important union that was not to be reduced to something else.[2] We see from the text that humanity was meant to flourish and be in right relationship with God, but this relationship was broken and the consequence was painful childbearing, not childbearing itself. It follows then that men and women, if they can propagate, can rejoice in their progeny, but if a woman and man cannot propagate they still have companionship. Each example has both uses and is not simply reduced to either/or.[3]

The second point that is brought up is that Paul did not know about homosexual relationships in terms of a marital commitment. I must quote Tyler at length:

There are attempts to explain this away. Some Old Testament scholars will split the law into different categories about which ones were intended for just Israel and which continue to apply to anyone who follows Jesus. So, laws about slaves, rape and women were meant for that time, and laws about wearing linen and eating shellfish were meant for that culture. But laws about murder and theft continue to be relevant for our lives today. As do laws about gay marriage, the thinking generally goes. If you do that, then it becomes very easy to sort through the Scripture and systematically choose which of God's laws seems most reasonable for you to follow. Perhaps that is how God intended the law to be understood. Perhaps He never meant for it to be a whole cloth. It seems a bit odd to me (it seems contrary to a plain reading of James 2:10), but it could be true. Or perhaps when Jesus came, he truly did free us from the law. Perhaps he didn't free us from it in a complicated way, but a simple one. Perhaps the burden of our law is love. Perhaps the many, many scholars who believe Paul's writings about same-sex relationships referred to a cultural practice no longer applicable to our modern conversation around homosexuality are right.[4]

A fair response to this would be that Paul spoke about fidelity between a male and female specifically. We have various passages that pin this over and over. Today Paul would absolutely have things to say about marriage, because as a Jew it is regarded as sacred and to be untouched by sin. To assume Paul would accept that he would allow same-sex marriage, or even approve of it, is to assume he would go against his own letters and own Jewish tradition and view of sexuality and marriage. In fact, various liberal pro-gay and gay scholars all agree that the Bible disagrees with homosexual marriage and homosexuality as a lifestyle.[5] In fact, one prominent scholar, Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, posits that Paul's responses to homosexuality in his letter to the Romans confirm that the ancient culture had some idea of homosexual practice, and behaviour was as common in his day.[6]

Another point or theme that is seen through the entirety of the blog post is the idea that loving someone means holding to their identity. He writes:

And a love that must hold people's identity at bay is an imperfect love—a love that refuses their own loves. If someone were to say they loved me but saw my own marriage as an affront to God, I would say that that person does not then really love me. I could not abide that sort of love in my life. I just could not.[7]

Jesus spoke about what we identify with many times in the Bible. The rich, the poor, the prostitute, and the priest were all asked to live on an equal moral ground, which is to follow the Ten Commandments and to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. He also told His followers some of the hardest things anyone has ever had to hear: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me" (Matthew 16: 24).[8] In this single verse, God has asked us to lay down our very lives, and, yes, even our own desires, to follow His mission to seek a lost world that is in need of true identity. Paul highlights this perfectly in Galatians 3:25: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Our identity is not in marriage, singleness, homosexual or heterosexual; our identity is in Christ if we believe He is God. If He is God, we then follow His ways and His truths, which are founded in the Bible, which is supported by outside sources.

Another key point that is important in Tyler's view is that condemning people to loneliness is wrong: the common thread that unites Tyler's post is that of loneliness.[9] Tyler argues that loneliness is the biggest problem for many homosexual couples, and a God that cannot allow same-sex marriage to fill that void is not a God of love. But, as was stated earlier, God has demanded all of us to count the cost: for some that means scorn, for others death, and still others loneliness or no sexual expression. There is a choice of being single, and to many it is the only option, as many other homosexuals have indicated.[10]

The last theme or point that Tyler ends his post on is the idea that this topic does not have eternal consequences.[11] In this case we should be careful. I agree we should not pass judgment on others who do not fit our code of conduct if they do not believe in Christ, for Christ Himself will judge. But if they agree to Christian ethics and have a lifesaving revelation of His power and love, they must be held accountable. God has called us to live a holy life and we must understand what that means, and if Christ uttered the chilling words in Matthew 7:23 where He states, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers," should we not all ask ourselves if we are in danger of deception? If we are possibly missing the freedom He came to give us by His Spirit? We must not be so light on sin as the Western church is so prone to be; we must all be held accountable if we claim fellowship with the one who gave so much to be in union with us.

In closing, Tyler Huckabee brings up common points that many believe or hold to that seem to support a pro-gay marriage stance, but we must all take into consideration the wider ramifications of accepting anything that the culture tells us to accept. The biblical worldview informed by Christian theology has always been at odds with the way a secular or pluralistic world works, and it is only God who has defined man and woman, marriage and sexual intimacy. To re-read what the Bible plainly states, and what many scholars have defended as the biblical viewpoint, is a dangerous road to walk down that will inevitably lead to isolation and loneliness from the God who created us.

[1] Tyler Huckabee, "Why I Support Same-Sex Marriage," The Unbearable Lightness of Huckabeing (blog), July 7, 2015, accessed August 15, 2015, http://tylerhuckabee.com/2015/07/07/i_support_gay_marriage/.

[2] Smith, William, "Marriage," Smith's Bible Dictionary, Bible History Online, accessed August 20, 2015, http://www.bible-history.com/smiths/M/Marriage/.

[3] Kevin Allen, "Sexuality, Virginity, and Marriage," podcast, Ancient Faith Today, January 12, 2014, accessed August 20, 2015, http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/aftoday/sexuality_virginity_and_marriage.

[4] Huckabee, "Why I support Same Sex-Marriage."

[5] Jeff Allen, "Liberal Scholars Agree: The Bible Forbids Homosexuality," BarbWire (blog), April 29, 2014, accessed August 14, 2015, http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars-homosexuality/.

[6] Robert. A. J. Gagnon, "Why 'Gay Marriage' is Wrong," Robert A. J. Gagnon Home, July 2004, accessed August 13, 2015, http://www.robgagnon.net/homopresbytodayarticle.htm.

[7] Huckabee, "Why I support Same Sex-Marriage."

[8] Scripture citations are taken from the New International Version (NIV).

[9] Huckabee, "Why I support Same Sex-Marriage."

[10] Michelle Boorstein, "Gay Christians Choosing Celibacy Emerge from the Shadows," Washington Post, December 13, 2014, accessed August 14, 2015, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/gay-christians-choosing-celibacy-emerge-from-the-shadows/2014/12/13/51c73aea-6ab2-11e4-9fb4-a622dae742a2_story.html.

[11] Huckabee, "Why I support Same Sex-Marriage."

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Same Ol' Argument: a Logical Refutation


By Justin Wishart

Our Executive Director, Jojo Ruba, recently sent me an opinion editorial published by the Medicine Hat News.[1] Scott Schmidt, the article's author, goes on a diatribe chastising Christians who submit to the Word of God, and the God who inspired it. Schmidt makes it very clear what he thinks of the Bible by saying that when it is "read cover to cover it becomes blatantly obvious just how much complete nonsense there is." He attempts to give a moderated view by saying, "I couldn't care less what you believe in your own life, as that is the entire point. Live and let live." However, Schmidt then says, "[I]t's time for you to change your attitude, or go away"; so much for "[l]ive and let live." Schmidt is very interested in forcing his morality on anyone who might disagree with him. However, there is one thing he said which I agree with him about. "The thing is, while it might be your right to say what you want, the second you make it public (or attempt to) it becomes my right to tell you what I think." I will now do the same.

There are so many poor arguments, outright logical fallacies, and misrepresentations in Schmidt's article that I am surprised he deemed it worthy to print. It also made it hard to pick which direction to take my response. There is a virtual delta of channels I could have taken. However, I deemed a response worth the time because you see many of his flawed arguments used by various Internet Atheist types. This might provide a useful resource for our readers if they encounter such arguments online, and if you do apologetic work online, you will face these arguments.

Schmidt's article is an attempt to argue that Christians shouldn't take the Bible's teaching on homosexuality seriously. He makes the mistake that many Internet Atheists make. He accuses Christians of not reading the whole Bible and applying it equally to their lives, so why should we accept what the Bible says about homosexuality?

Your religion also says I have to marry my sister-in-law if my brother dies, and that my daughter must marry her rapist as long as he gives me 50 gold coins. In the same part of the book that calls "a man laying with another man" an "abomination," we're also told we can't eat shrimp, wear polyester or get divorced. Those same pages require hair never be messy, beards never be trimmed, and, for good measure, dictates parents kill their children if they curse at them. Unless you don't find any of these rules to be absurdly offensive, how could you keep a straight face while trying to suggest the one about "laying with another man" deserves credibility?

Schmidt thinks that since we wear polyester, we shouldn't be against homosexual actions. Far from being a good argument, this simply shows that Schmidt hasn't thought through this subject. Due to space, I am not going to justify these mentioned laws individually, but provide some general principles that show Schmidt's argument is meaningless.

Bible with warning sticker1. Schmidt gives the impression that homosexuality is only discussed in Leviticus. This is simply false. There are six passages which specifically deal with homosexuality, including three in the New Testament.[2] Yet, Schmidt seems to be completely unaware of this fact, or simply chose not to mention this in his article. This shows that Schmidt's argument fails to refute the biblical teaching on this subject. Any proper refutation must deal with these other verses as well.

2. The Bible defines marriage as between one man and one woman.[3] This disqualifies a same-sex union from being a biblical marriage. Sorry, Schmidt: to a Bible-believing Christian, a homosexual union is not a marriage. The Bible also teaches that sex should only take place within a marriage covenant.[4] This then disqualifies any homosexual act as permissible, because they would all have to happen outside a marriage covenant. Schmidt's argument fails to recognize this fact found within Scripture. Since there is no mention of this in his article, his argument doesn't even come close to addressing the Bible's teaching homosexuality, much less refuting it.

3. Everyone, including Jews, must reinterpret their relationship with Torah Law. There are two main reasons for this. One is that there is no Torah theocracy. Cultural context must be therefore considered.[5] Since many of the paradigmatic laws found within the Torah are state-focused laws, they do not directly apply in our modern context. While we can look at the paradigm and see the wisdom of the principles that the law is derived from, some direct commands cannot apply anymore. Secondly, the Temple, with all its ceremony and rituals, is no longer here. Much of the Torah Law is focused on the Temple (or Tabernacle) and the rituals associated with it. Schmidt does not attempt to deal with these hermeneutical issues. But if anyone is going to refute the Bible's teaching, it must be addressed. This is but another way his argument fails.

4. Christians believe the Jesus fulfilled the Law.[6] This is exactly the main thing that changes the Christian's relationship with the Torah Law. Until Schmidt shows how eating shellfish (and the other laws he mentioned) is treated the same hermeneutically as homosexuality in light of the life of Jesus, his argument cannot refute the Bible's teaching on the subject.

5. Schmidt confuses the actions of Christians with the veracity of the Bible. Even if he was able to account for the above principles, this would still not make his case. It might be the case that the vast majority of Christians have gotten our beard laws wrong. That if we were to be consistent, men should never shave our beards. Yet, Schmidt argues that if this is true, and that we indeed should not shave our beards, that it follows we should be okay with homosexuality. How does that follow? It could be that homosexuality is still an abomination and we should also not shave our beard. Pointing out (alleged) Christian inconsistencies does not mean we should necessarily throw out all other laws, but could mean that we should simply become more consistent. Since Schmidt does not provide any justification as to why we should abandon the Levitical teaching on homosexuality, instead of taking seriously the beard laws, his argument fails here.

While more could be mentioned, these five failures alone show Schmidt does not provide a meaningful refutation of the Bible. I don't even need to provide justification as to why Leviticus commands what it does.[7] An argument which is shown to be fallacious does not need to be refuted further; and Schmidt's argument is about as fallacious as they come.

I mentioned earlier that there were many channels I could have taken my response given the fallacious nature of Schmidt's article. One simple example will highlight the absurd nature of this article. He says:

You see, I couldn't care less what you believe in your own life, as that is the entire point. Live and let live.

However, that flies right out the window when you use archaic excuses to take other people down.

If I replace the pejorative term "archaic" with the pejorative term "liberalized," how does he avoid his own criticism? Is he not trying to take down the Bible, and as a result Bible-believing Christians? Does he not want us to simply "go away"?

It appears that Schmidt would benefit more in learning some basic logic instead of fallaciously attempting to take Christian people down.[8] He would have easily seen how erroneous his arguments are and realized that he needs to study the subject much more. Instead of such a pointless hit piece, he might actually be able to add something meaningful to this discussion. Unfortunately, the general population haven't learned basic logic and may even find his arguments convincing. The fact that I have come across this argument many times proves this to be the case. It is up to the apologist—correct that, it is up to the Christian to point out the errors in this argument. People actually fall for such poor argumentation.

[1] Scott Schmidt, "The Bible Is Not Always the Best Source of Right and Wrong in the 21st Century," Medicine Hat News, July 8, 2015, accessed July 24, 2015, http://medicinehatnews.com/commentary/opinions/2015/07/08/the-bible-is-not-always-the-best-source-of-right-and-wrong-in-the-21st-century/.

[2] Genesis 19; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10.

[3] Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5.

[4] Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5:15-19; Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 7:2-5.

[5] To use an Old Testament example, many of the Torah Laws had to be abandoned when Israel was under Babylonian rule.

[6] Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4.

[7] However, simple Google searches will find good introductory justifications for such laws if one is really interested in learning.

[8] I would recommend Gordon Clark's book Logic (4th ed., Unicoi, TN: Trinity Foundation, 2004).

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Some (Same-sex) Marriage Advice from Canada, Part 2


By Jojo Ruba

In the first part of my article, I made a list of what Americans can expect after the ruling on same-sex marriage last week. As Canadians, we've observed how our rights are being taken away and our voices not-so-slowly being silenced. But there are three important lessons that Americans can take away from the Canadian experience as you deal with the repercussions of same-sex marriage.

What You Need to Do

1. Stop Making This About You

We share your concerns about the ramifications of same-sex marriage to culture and to individual and religious liberty. But, frankly, when we complain about losing our charitable status or make our religious liberties the centerpiece of our arguments against same-sex marriage, we sound just as self-absorbed as the culture that celebrates it. It makes it sound like Christians care more about the money or power.

By Allan Ajifo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAs believers, the greatest damage decisions like this have is to limit the freedom to speak God's truth to a hurting culture. One of the lines we use at Faith Beyond Belief is that rather than hating the sin but loving the sinner, we must hate the sin because we love the sinner. God wants us to speak out against destructive behaviour like pornography, divorce, and yes, same-sex marriage, because it damages the people involved. Though we've made brilliant arguments for traditional marriage, I see few articulate why same-sex marriage actually harms the consenting adults who participate in it.

And that's why we also need to stop apologizing for all Christians! I know we're Canadian and we apologize for everything, but don't apologize for trying to love people. Not every Christian is a jerk who has no empathy for same-sex-attracted people. For the most part, Christians are doing their best to show God's love in this situation. They just don't know how.

Instead, let's start by following what Jesus says are the greatest commands: love God first and then love our neighbours as we love ourselves—and aren't there times when we need a bit of tough love?

2. Fear Not

A Calgary Herald columnist actually defended discrimination against Christians based on the issue of homosexuality because, she said, other Christians don't all agree on homosexuality. She argued that it is "extremist" to hold the view that practicing homosexuals will go to Hell, and anyone who holds such views should be screened out of public office.

She quoted Kris Wells, director of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies at the University of Alberta, who told the National Post: "I have no problem with people of faith running for public office. It's about how one exercises that faith. . . ."[1]

In other words, the director of a pro-gay organization gets to determine how Christians who go into public office should be able to practice their faith. And the Herald columnist calls Christians the extreme ones!

This columnist, however, can only get away with saying something so inane because so many of our culture—and worse, our churches—no longer understand what Christians believe. For example, the Bible Engagement Study found that 69% of Canadians believe the Bible is full of irreconcilable contradictions, but 55% of Canadians have never read the Bible![2]

But that kind of confusion in a once biblically literate culture can only happen when Christians fail to educate others about the Bible. Worse, we can't educate non-believers about our faith if we don't know it ourselves.

I've spoken across Canada for over a decade on issues like abortion and homosexuality, and I can tell you countless stories of Christian leaders and laypeople telling me that they didn't want to hear from me. Most church members I talk to also can't recall a time when their pastor ever talked about homosexuality. Some pastors simply refuse to talk about such issues.[3]

And when we stopped talking about these issues, we stopped linking biblical truth to the relevant issues in our culture. That's why so many Christians can't articulate a well-reasoned explanation for their faith on issues such as truth, morality, and sexuality. We're too ill-informed and too scared to speak.

Yet this level of biblical ignorance is not a time for fear. It is a time for faith. Have you noticed how the debate on same-sex marriage invariably turns into discussion of the Bible and God's will? Rather than running away from it as many Canadians have, why don't you take it as an opportunity to explain the Christian worldview to your friends? Discuss the issue with family members who have rainbow-coloured FB pictures. And of course, before you do, understand what the biblical worldview is. Take this as an opportunity for you to learn why God's love for humanity means discouraging harmful behaviour like homosexuality.

3. Keep Fighting the Good Fight

An apologist friend of mine recently insisted that the "culture war is over" and that "we lost" and we should move on to other issues. He said we can't expect a non-Christian culture to act like Christians.

Interestingly, when I asked him if he was glad William Wilberforce, the abolitionist, didn't share that sentiment, he never responded. If Christian leaders like him gave up on fights against slavery or racial discrimination, the world we would live in would not only be far worse, but it would be far harder to share the gospel to it.

In fact, many Canadian Christians use the "we lost" sentiment to never raise controversial issues again. They have capitulated to culture and act no differently than their secular colleagues. The more "normal" sin gets, the harder it is want to be "abnormal" by speaking out against it.

But as our American friends get used to the new "normal," please remember this:The day before the U.S. legalized same-sex marriage, I was speaking about homosexuality to a church youth group where two young women recently came out as bisexual. Both approached me at the end of my talk and thanked me for it. One in particular told me that she was trying her best to be faithful to God's word but it was so hard because the rest of culture is telling her just to act on her feelings.

I explained to her what I've learned when I've struggled with unwanted sexual attractions—that God understands how we feel and grieves with us. Though we might think the most loving thing to do for someone is to enter into a relationship with them, the most loving thing we can do is to introduce them to Christ. She agreed and said she would do her best to follow Jesus first.

The fight to normalize homosexuality in the U.S. may have been fought over a few months in a courtroom, but it's a daily battle for people like this young woman who want to do the right thing. Your court just made it harder for her to do so.

Rather than giving up and claiming all is lost, don't you think people like her need Christians who are willing to speak truth when no one else does? That's why we have to keep speaking—because millions of people like this girl need to know that only Jesus can bring hope to a confused culture and their confused hearts.

[1] Naomi Lakritz, "It's Not Anti-Christian—It's Anti-Extremist," Calgary Herald, September 19, 2014, accessed July 2, 2015, http://calgaryherald.com/opinion/lakritz-its-not-anti-christian-its-anti-extremist.

[2] "Are Canadians Done with the Bible?," Canadian Bible Forum, accessed July 8, 2015, http://www.bibleengagementstudy.ca.

[3] Jonathan Merritt, "Hillsong's Brian Houston Says Church Won't Take Public Position on LGBT Issues, Jonathan Merritt on Faith & Culture (blog), Oct. 16, 2014, accessed July 7, 2015, http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/10/16/hillsongs-brian-houston-says-church-lgbt-issues/.

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Some (Same-sex) Marriage Advice from Canada, Part 1


By Jojo Ruba

As I've followed the news, read the blogs, and filtered through the endless stream of rainbow-coloured Facebook pictures, it's obvious that our culture is confused about how to react to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S.

It's even worse for us as Christians who've run the gamut from celebrating the decision, to despairing of the decision, to apologizing for either reaction!

But as a Canadian organization, we've seen this before. Canada legalized same-sex marriage about 10 years ago and it's important we share with our U.S. friends what happened here. Canada is like the canary in the mine for the U.S. since we're years ahead of you in terms of social change. That's why what happens to us can serve as a warning of what will happen to you.

White House rainbow colors to celebrate June 2015 SCOTUS same-sex marriage rulingAnd though no Christians have been thrown in jail yet for our faith, the legalization of same-sex marriage is a huge step in marginalizing the Christian worldview and making it more difficult to share a biblical faith with our secular culture.

Not thrown in jail yet but . . .

Many of my American friends (at least on Facebook) are already preparing for the worst. They're anticipating churches losing their charitable status or Christian organizations being banned from sharing their beliefs. But that's likely not going to happen right away.

The first thing that will happen is not much. The most important goal proponents of same-sex marriage have is to normalize it, and changing the law is a big step in making that happen. Using that decision to beat up Christians (at least right away) will be counter-productive to that goal.

1. Which is Worse, Ignorance or Evil?

That doesn't mean that there won't be an odd decision by a gay rights group or the local civil liberties association here and there. But most of these activities will be done because of ignorance, not malice.

For example, last year, the city council of a small Canadian tourist town banned Christians from using public property. The Nanaimo city council was to host a leadership simulcast on city property. The conference had nothing to do with sexuality and featured such benign (at least on the topic) speakers as Bishop Desmond Tutu and Laura Bush.

But two gay activists called a city councillor and complained to him that the conference was sponsored by Chick-fil-A, whose president supported traditional marriage campaigns, and hosted Christian psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud, who believes that same-sex attractions can be changed. This prompted the councillor to pass a motion that read

that as owners of the facility, any events that are associated with organizations or people that promote or have a history of divisiveness, homophobia, or other expressions of hate, and as such advise the [city-owned centre] to not permit the upcoming Leadercast event to occur in a City owned facility that is scheduled for Saturday, May the 9th.[1]

After comparing anyone who disagreed with their views on sexuality to criminals and Boko Haram kidnappers (who ironically force Christian girls to convert to Islam), the council passed the motion 8-1. Most of the national media ignored the story.

After an outcry from the local Christian community, human rights groups, and one Jewish reporter, the council sheepishly rescinded the motion, as it likely violated Canada's constitution. But the council's decision laid bare the ignorance of so many Canadians about Christian teachings on sexuality. Banning anyone from using public property because they believe sexuality can be changed would of course ban the Apostle Paul, but also many top gay researchers who openly acknowledge that sexuality is not immutable.[2]

The same thing will happen as Americans become more biblically illiterate. They will pass motions that directly contravene not only Christian belief but the right of Christians to put those beliefs into practice. I asked William Lane Craig once which was worse, a culture that was stupid or a culture that was evil. He laughed and he said they were very similar because one leads to another.

2. Treating Sexual Behaviour as Identity

The more likely place to start for these groups is to ensure that any vestige of treating homosexuality as abnormal is removed. This is the most obvious next step because well-meaning people can be convinced that they are doing a good.

For example, the openly lesbian premier of Ontario recently banned counseling for teens and preteens who want to change their same-sex attractions.[3] Though New Jersey, among other places, beat her to that, the push to get rid of any kind of help for people with unwanted same-sex attractions will get stronger. They believe it is harmful to want to change your sexual orientation just as it would be wrong to want to change your racial or ethnic identity.

Another way to normalize same-sex behaviour is to target schools. The former education minister of Alberta, himself a former pastor of a local megachurch, was instrumental in passing a law forcing all schools that get government funding, including Christian schools, to host gay-straight alliance groups (GSAs).[4] GSAs openly promote homosexuality as normal and any opposition as intolerance. In fact, the Alberta Teachers' Association's own website gives advice on how to start a GSA in religious schools and how to overcome religious opposition to their views.[5]

3. Redefining theology

Targeting religious institutions as the source of opposition is, of course, key to normalizing homosexuality. But not all of the action will be direct or through the law.

My colleague Janie recently described a Canadian group that put on a seminar on sexuality in our city last year. The group calls itself Christian and tries to create an open dialogue on homosexuality in churches. Rather than outright calling homosexuality acceptable, they want to create "space" for their view and argue that the Bible can be interpreted to both oppose and support same-sex sexual relations.[6]

Taking a page from Matthew Vines and his Reformation Project, they've tasked their adherents to go into local Canadian churches to begin this "dialogue" with the explicit goal to change the theological teachings of their churches and to get them to eventually accept their views on sexuality.

This subtle approach (they compare the controversy over homosexuality to the controversy over the eating of food sacrificed to idols) is very Canadian because it avoids confrontation. But it is meant to achieve the same goal as changing the law: normalizing homosexuality.

4. Who Can Come Out

Since the legalization of same-sex marriage, Canadians have become used to it and many of the subtle approaches no longer need to be subtle.

Now, if you want to work at any government department that administers marriage certificates, you must be willing to perform same-sex ceremonies.[7] Even businesses that take a stand against the issue can be targeted for their beliefs.[8]

The most egregious example of this is what is happening to Trinity Western University's law program. Trinity, Canada's only private Christian university, wants to start a law program. But several law societies in Canada have openly stated that they will refuse to recognize any student who graduates from that program because of the school's policy on homosexuality. Trinity has a code of conduct for all of its students. Though students don't have to be Christians to go to school, they must adhere to a code of conduct where they agree to having no sexual relationships outside of a traditional marriage.[9]

These law societies argue that Trinity graduates cannot practice law because they hold views contrary to the law of the land. In other words, the only lawyers that they will accept are those that support same-sex marriage. (Of course, they didn't take that position when the law of the land was against same-sex marriage.)

These societies have made these decisions through plebiscites of their own members. And I've heard through lawyer friends how even some Christian lawyers have voted to ban graduates from Trinity out of fear of losing their jobs or promotions.

The fight is still in the courts but this echoes another fight the school had a decade ago over Christian teachers who graduated from the school. Back then, teachers' unions refused graduates from the school because they saw them as "homophobic" and therefore incapable of teaching gay students.

Though the courts eventually mandated that the teachers' college could not discriminate against Christians, this kind of harassment of Christian institutions will continue and get worse.[10]

Human Rights Commissions, quasi-judicial bodies that act like courts on some human rights cases, have had a history of punishing Christians for their views on homosexuality. One case punished a pastor for writing a letter against homosexuality in his local paper. The commission ruled that the pastor could not even speak about homosexuality at his church or in conversation (thankfully this was overturned, but only after a long, expensive legal process)![11]

Recently, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that even if Bible verses told the truth, if they were offensive enough to others, they could still be considered hate speech. In other words, truth is no longer a defense in Canada, especially on this issue.[12]

Both cases show that when truth is no longer a standard, the only standard left is the feelings of the most sensitive person in the room.

Knowing that this is what to expect, how should Christians prepare? In part 2 of this article, we will suggest three lessons Americans can take from Canada's experience with same-sex marriage.

[1] You can watch a clip of Ezra Levant speaking on this on Sun News at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUaODful6vY.

[2] Jonathan Morrow, "(Part 6) Answering the Toughest Questions About Homosexuality with Alan Shlemon," Think Christianly (blog), January 25, 2012, accessed July 2, 2015, http://thinkchristianly.blogspot.ca/2012/01/part-6-answering-toughest-questions.html.

[3] Rob Ferguson, "Ontario Becomes First Province to Ban 'Conversion Therapy' for LGBTQ children," Toronto Star, Jun 04 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/06/04/ontario-becomes-first-province-to-ban-conversion-therapy-for-lgbtq-children.html.

[4] Mariam Ibrahim and Karen Kleiss, "Gay-straight Alliances Now Mandatory in Alberta: 'We're No Longer That Redneck, Roughneck Province,'" National Post, March 11, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/gay-straight-alliances-now-mandatory-in-alberta-were-no-longer-that-redneck-roughneck-province.

[5] Kristopher Wells, Gay-Straight Alliances: A Guide for Teachers (Edmonton: Alberta Teachers' Association, 2006), 26, http://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ATA/Publications/Human-Rights-Issues/Gay–Straight%20Student%20Alliances%20in%20Alberta%20Schools%20A%20Guide%20for%20Teachers.pdf.

[6] Janie Bont, "Finding Space for the Bible in 'Generous Spaciousness'", Faith Beyond Belief (blog), November 20, 2014, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.faithbeyondbelief.ca/2014/11/20/finding-space-for-the-bible-in-generous-spaciousness/.

[7] "Marriage officials can't refuse gays: Sask. Court, CBC News, Jan 10, 2011, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/marriage-officials-can-t-refuse-gays-sask-court-1.1011669.

[8] "Jewelry store to refund engagement ring deposit to same-sex couple," CBC News, May 19, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/jewelry-store-to-refund-engagement-ring-deposit-to-same-sex-couple-1.3078557.

[9] Kelly McParland, "Crusade Against Trinity Western Law School Runs Up Against a Sensible Judge," National Post, January 30, 2015, accessed July 7, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/kelly-mcparland-crusade-against-trinity-western-law-school-runs-up-against-an-intelligent-judge.

[10] Trinity Western University v. British Columbia College of Teachers, [2001] 1 S.C.R. 772, 2001 S.C.C. 31 (CanLII), May 17, 2001, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/scc/doc/2001/2001scc31/2001scc31.html.

[11] Jenn Ruddy, "Stephen Boissoin on Free Speech, Porn and His Anti-Gay Letter," Daily Xtra, December 8, 2009, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.dailyxtra.com/canada/news-and-ideas/news/stephen-boissoin-free-speech-porn-and-anti-gay-letter-52317. See also "Lund v Boissoin," Wikipedia, updated January 7, 2015, accessed July 2, 2015, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lund_v_Boissoin.

[12] Bruce Bawer, "Canadian Supreme Court Kills Last Hope for Free Speech," Frontpage Mag, February 28, 2013, accessed July 2, 2015, http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/179449/canadian-supreme-court-kills-last-hope-free-speech-bruce-bawer.

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The 4 C's: A Christian Approach to Homosexuality


By Nic Bertsch

The tide of the culture has changed, and there is no denying it. There was a time, not too long ago, when the topic of homosexuality was hardly on anyone's mind, especially within the church. But today, the ground has shifted so much that it seems like the only time the church is even newsworthy is when this topic is up for debate. Things have changed so fast, and so aggressively, that many Christians have been left with no idea how to even approach the issue, for fear of being labelled a bigot or a homophobe. The reality is, however, that the church has been dealing with the issue of homosexuality for the last two thousand years. In this post I want to lay out some of the necessary tools for approaching this issue from a Christian perspective. I have named it the 4 C's approach (patent pending).

The first C is Courage. The fact that the issue has become so politically charged means that it requires courage for anyone to involve themselves in the issue if they refuse to adopt the politically-correct view. In many cases, you will be called a bigot or a homophobe, regardless of your motivation or tone, simply for saying that homosexuality is not what God—or evolution for that matter—intended for humanity. Jesus predicted this for those who stood with Him, and we should not be surprised or deterred by it. Courage is also so vital, because that is what our friends, co-workers and family members who identify as LGBT need. They need someone who will have the courage to love them unconditionally, in the true sense of the word. There are enough people in the culture who are going to celebrate their chosen lifestyle, and push them even further into it. To truly love someone requires having the courage to tell them the truth. It means telling them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear, but loving them as a human and not a project.

By Enver Rahmanov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsSecond, Compassion. While traditionally holding a strong stance against homosexuality in the past, the church has many times had zero compassion. It has, in many ways, failed to reach out to the LGBT community, and has damaged many people in the process. Every single human being, regardless of size, ethnicity, capability, identity, or attraction, is created in the image of God. The intrinsic value of human beings is part of what makes the Christian worldview what it is—the best explanation for reality. However, it has been rare, especially in the past, for the church to act like they really believe that. There have been many that have looked down their noses at the LGBT community, self-righteously condemning the entire group without the slightest hint of compassion for the truly horrible struggles each person must have gone through.

There are sadly many members of the LGBT community that are former Christians, utterly rejected by their communities simply because of attractions that they did not choose. We as the body of Christ are called to be better than this, to love better than this. We must be more intentional about creating an environment where people can talk openly about their struggles, without fear of condemnation, and where loving fellowship and accountability are readily available for all who seek to deny themselves and follow Christ—whatever their struggles may be.

Third, Consistency. We as Christians, while affirming the Bible's clear teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual behaviour, need to be equally consistent in condemning everything else the Bible calls sin as well. Pornography addiction is a massive problem in the church, even though few Christians are willing to speak out against it, admit to their struggles with it, or be held as accountable for it as I am sure we would demand of someone struggling with same-sex attraction. Divorce rates in some churches are virtually the same as amongst non-Christians. Sex before marriage, cohabitation, immodesty, and lust are rampant within Christian circles, and the Bible condemns all of these behaviours. Christians are called to crucify all aspects of the depravity and brokenness that we struggle with, and we need to be as forgiving and patient with those who are battling with unwanted same-sex attraction as we are with everyone else. Homosexual behaviour is not the worst sin, but rather one of many.

Another area where the church has not been consistent is in promoting the value of singleness as much as marriage. There are many within the church, both heterosexual and homosexual, who have chosen, or been forced by circumstance, to remain single. While we preach continually on the virtues of marriage, those who are single are often left behind, convinced more and more that they are missing something or are less than what they should be. It is this dynamic, along with the radical individualism in our culture, that has made the idea of celibacy for same-sex attracted individuals a non-option in their minds. In reality, Christ has the ability to fulfil the needs and desires of all who seek Him, and those who are single can be much more fruitful in their service to Him than most married couples often can.

Fourth, non-Compromise. Jesus demands something from every single person that wishes to follow Him: total devotion.

And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me . . ." (Luke 9:23 NASB, emphasis added).

Self-denial is expected of anyone who wishes to follow Jesus, gay or straight. There is no reason to adopt the pro-gay theology being pushed on the church. The Bible is clear, and it always has been. For thousands of years, it had been understood that openly and unrepentantly practising homosexuality, like many other things, was unacceptable for professing Christians. The Bible gives no exceptions, and there have been no new textual, historical, archeological or any other kind of discoveries that should change that. We must not compromise on this issue, even if we are hated for it at the moment—and let's face it, we are. We must not begin to call good what God calls sin. As the culture continues to promote sexual anarchy in so many different ways, the body of Christ will end up being the place of refuge for those who have tried to redefine reality and been damaged in the attempt. We are called to be counter-cultural, and to be persecuted for fidelity to Christ is to be expected. He is worth it.

When we approach this issue with the attitude of Jesus, full of grace and truth, we can have a lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of those who identify as LGBT in our midst. We must have the courage to reach out, the compassion to unconditionally love, the consistency to demand of ourselves what we demand of others, and the fortitude to not compromise in the face of cultural pressure. We must not try to convince anyone that heterosexual attraction is necessary to follow Jesus. God requires holiness, not heterosexuality. Changing people is God's job, not ours. Our job is to be ambassadors for Christ, and show those in every walk of life that He is worth whatever sacrifice they have to make.

Nick Bertsch is a 31 year old husband and father of two from Calgary, Alberta. He is an electrician by trade, but has been an avid student of Christian apologetics for many years. He is in the process of obtaining a Certificate of Apologetics from Biola University, and runs a blog site called Defending Truth Apologetics which can be found at defendingtruth.ca

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Who am I?


By Ian Murray

The question: "Who am I?" is one that is old as dirt. When this question is asked, many people take a trip down a common road of qualifications such as name and vocation. It is true that someone's name identifies them and their career says something about them, but neither name nor career defines them as people in toto. There was a time when sexual orientation was also not included as a qualifier, as even though it is a part of who someone is, it does not complete them. However, times have changed, and now when someone in Western society says "I am gay," their homosexuality is not just "a part of who they are"; it is in fact the very essence of who they are.

I recently chatted with a waitress at a local bakery. We talked about a number of things; however, when the conversation turned to church, our conversation got very interesting! I mentioned that my own church had split from a denomination that endorsed same-sex marriage. As she dried some dishes, she politely asked me if I knew any gay people. I mentioned that I had a Christian friend who is gay. However, when I told her that my friend, whom I'll call Frank, chooses to remain celibate due to his Christian convictions, she grew very upset. She held to the view that to ask someone not to act in accordance with their orientation is the same as asking them to deny who they are.

Frank denies such a proposition, because he knows who he is and he knows that his sexual orientation has played only a part in the development of who he is today. He does not deny that he is gay. He does not pretend that he is heterosexual by getting married to a woman and having children. He doesn't talk down to homosexual people nor does he speak about them or homosexuality in any derogatory terms. He accepts that he is same-sex attracted and simply chooses to deny himself the option of acting on it. He does this for one simple reason: he knows who he is.

So without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to my friend Frank. Frank is a same-sex attracted man who is a repentant sinner. That is who Frank is. Frank is saved by the sacrifice of Christ and by the grace and will of God (John 1:12). That is who Frank is. Frank is chosen "in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight" (Ephesians 1:4 NIV). That is who Frank is. Frank is created for the glory of God (Isaiah 43:6-7). That is who Frank is. Frank's identity is not in his job title, his choice of hobbies, his preference of books he reads, or TV shows he watches. It is not found in his sexual orientation or his name, but it is discovered under the protection of the powerful name of Jesus (Acts 4:12). That is who Frank is. That is Frank's identity. When Frank says no to his same-sex attraction, he is not denying his true self, he is denying his sin-stained sexual preference. If he was to deny Christ, then he would be denying who he really is, namely a creation of God, who was created for God's glory. He would be denying the chance to be renewed to the state that God intended him to be (Genesis 1:31). Frank's identity is in Christ.

Lauren Handy on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, April 2015Therefore, it would be a gross mistake to argue that all gay people identify with their homosexuality.

However, is it really true that there is an overarching positive connection between one's identity and sexual orientation? It is a common belief among many people in the LGBT community that homosexuality is genetic, and therefore it is something that cannot be changed. It stands to reason, then, that if homosexuality is akin to skin color, then just as I was born with Caucasian skin, Frank and every other gay man and woman was "born gay"! This means for the gay man and woman being gay is "who they are."

As a result, many gay activists play the equivalent of a "race card" to stifle any argument against homosexual behaviour. After all, what right does religion or politics have to dictate the bedroom activities of consenting adults? The LGBT community as a whole prides itself on sexual freedom. Gay men in particular are often sexually promiscuous, seeking partners in bathhouses and redefining the term "monogamy" to mean an emotional or spiritual commitment to one person rather than an exclusive sexual commitment.[1] This is why the waitress I spoke to was offended. She believed that to ask Frank to either find physical intimacy heterosexually or forsake it altogether was akin to asking him to deny who he really is.

Frank's homosexual attraction is the result of the fall. Like all sin, homosexual activity originates from Adam's initial sin against God (Romans 5:12). The apostle Paul is clear that we recognize God (Romans 1:20-21), but we deliberately and consciously turn our worship to God's created order (Romans 1:21). Humans are by nature worshipping creatures. We simply cannot not worship something as God, even if what we worship is inanimate and has no life (Romans 1:23). Our foolishness of thinking (Romans 1:22) is brought to light. Humanity also turns their desire to worship only themselves and to serve their own glory and their own will (Romans 1:24). Since he has redirected his worship to himself and his self-centeredness, his wisdom has become what guides his life (Romans 1:21). However, this is now the final ingredient for a recipe of death. As Paul explains, the mind governed by the flesh is death (Romans 8:6). Self-worship and self-centredness, expressed through sexual immorality, degrades the body. The Canadian AIDS Society says that "from 1985 to 2011, just over half (54.7%) of the 69,856 positive HIV tests among adults with a known exposure category were attributed to men who have sex with men."[2] However, lest we think that Paul has a special axe to grind with homosexuals, note Romans 1:28-32 where he offers a long list of other degrading sins that every one of us are guilty of, one way or another.

When sinful wisdom is activated, nothing good can come from it. When you combine foolish thinking with self-centeredness, there is only one outcome: devastation. So what then is the nature of humanity's true identity, whether gay or straight? They are foolish, for turning away from their Creator and turning to created things. They are deluded into thinking that they know best when they use their own thinking. So, do you find your identity in the one who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6), or are you identifying with and following your desires to your own devastation?

For more detailed information about why Christians believe homosexuality is morally wrong, see the article "The Real Lives of Gay Men."

[1] Michael Brown, A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been (Concord, NC: EqualTime Books, 2011), 387-88.

[2] "HIV/AIDS and Gay Men," Canadian AIDS Society, accessed March 25, 2015, http://www.cdnaids.ca/hivaidsandgaymen.

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Scrubbing the Sin List


By Scott McClare

Do you believe that Christians should be compelled to stop regarding homosexuality as a sin? According to his op-ed article published on Good Friday, New York Times columnist and gay activist Frank Bruni does.

Last month, the state of Indiana passed SB 101, a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which has been part of U.S. federal law since 1993. In short, RFRA prohibits the government from burdening a person's free exercise of religion, unless it is to further a compelling state interest and does so in the least restrictive manner. RFRA is not absolute protection of religious practice, but it does provide one avenue of recourse for those who feel that their religious rights are being unduly restricted.[1]

After Indiana SB 101 was passed, prominent politicians, corporations, celebrities, and the media immediately piled on the state and threatened boycotts. The backlash was so intense that governor Mike Pence promised swift revisions to the law. One media outlet found a Christian-owned pizzeria whose proprietors said they would not cater a gay wedding; the restaurant received threats that caused them to close for several days.

Photo by Justin Eagan, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Justin Eagan, via Wikimedia Commons

The shaming of Indiana might lead you to believe that SB 101 was an anti-gay bill targeting homosexuals for discrimination. For Christian florists, bakers, restaurateurs, and photographers, the issue has not been refusing to serve a certain class of clientele. The pizzeria might decline to cater a gay wedding, but they also stated that they would not refuse to serve LGBT customers who patronized their business. Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who was sued and fined for discrimination after declining to supply flowers for a same-sex wedding in 2013, had been happily selling flowers for a decade to the couple who sued her. Rather, the issue has been participating against their consciences in a religious ceremony.

With his column, "Bigotry, the Bible, and Lessons from Indiana,"[2] Frank Bruni joins the anti-Indiana dogpile, asserting that SB 101 was intended to target gays. However, he sets a poor intellectual tone right from the start by employing the bandwagon fallacy. Homosexuality and Christianity need not be in opposition, he writes, because "several prominent denominations . . . have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn't decree." In other words, several liberal denominations have decided that homosexual behaviour is compatible with authentic Christianity, and so should you. However, the three largest Christian denominations in the U.S.—the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and United Methodist Church—currently all officially declare homosexual behaviour to be incompatible with Christian belief and practice, though each denomination has varying degrees of internal dissent.[3] Bruni wants us to get on the bandwagon, but can't explain why we should get on his bandwagon.

Bruni's next fallacy is the one C. S. Lewis called "chronological snobbery": assuming that old ideas are intrinsically inferior to new ones. He writes that viewing LGBT people as sinners "prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since—as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing." By contrast, he recommends the views of "gay Christian" authors and supporters such as David Gushee, Jeff Chu, James Brownson, and Matthew Vines. The Christian church has declared unambiguously that homosexual activity is sinful for nearly 2,000 years, but everything that really needed to be said about LGBT issues and Christianity was published in the last two?

(Bruni argues that scriptural opposition to homosexuality is sparse and obsolescent, whereas Vines, whom he cites favourably, claims that the Bible is authoritative but its teaching on sexuality is misunderstood. I wonder whether Bruni recognizes his contradiction?)

The biblical teaching on homosexuality is "scattered" and "sparse," we are told. What of it? A truth told infrequently is nonetheless the truth, and the scattered pronunciations on homosexuality in the Bible are uniformly negative. (For more details, refer to my earlier post, "God Hates Shrimp?")

Bruni also approvingly cites Matthew Vines' argument that people in the apostles' day didn't know about homosexual orientation or loving, committed same-sex relationships. However, Vines was simply wrong. In 2000, James B. DeYoung's examination of ancient Greek literature, such as Plato's Symposium, clearly shows that their understanding of homosexuality was very much like ours. They discussed homosexual orientation and desire as well as behaviour, committed and promiscuous relationships, obsession with the body and physical attractiveness, even a form of "gay pride."[4] Paul may or may not have read Plato specifically, but we can be reasonably sure that as an educated and well-traveled man, he was aware of these issues.

Bruni's secular worldview clashes sharply with the Christian worldview in two significant ways in this article. First, he sees morality as fluid and evolving, based on the march of progress and the winds of public opinion. If right and wrong are malleable, then of course we can add or subtract sins from the catalogue as we please. Hence he closes his op-ed in agreement with gay activist Mitchell God, who says the church must "take homosexuality off the sin list." However, for Christians, morality reflects the character of a perfectly just and righteous God, "with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17).[5] The church can't take homosexuality off the sin list. It's not our list to edit.

Second, Bruni agrees with Gold's assertion that "church leaders must be made" to stop thinking of homosexuality as sinful. He advocates a statist worldview in which government must correct the moral positions of organized religion and its practitioners if they fail to comply with the spirit of the age. He fails to recognize that government itself is subject to the laws of God. "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), said the apostles to the authorities, because they were told not to do the work the Lord Jesus had given them. The civil government's authority comes from God (Rom. 13:1), and hence it has a duty to promote godliness and to let the church be the church. This is why Paul instructed Timothy to pray "for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). The church must be free to carry out its divine mandate of proclaiming the gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. RFRA laws like SB 101 provide one avenue of recourse for Christians and others who religious exercise has been unjustly restricted by an overreaching government.

It is somewhat surprising to see one of the world's most influential newspapers give voice to such a radical screed. Frank Bruni's op-ed is long on assertion and opinion, but short on arguments supported by evidence. It is little more than an ultimatum: "Join the 21st century with the mainline Protestant denominations, 'gay Christian' authors, and myself, or else." Or else what? I'm not an alarmist. We don't need to fear the guillotines or lions, but advocates of sexual liberty are becoming more vocal in their call to restrict religious liberty. We need to remember that we are in an ongoing spiritual battle, and the tools of spiritual warfare are the same as always: practical holiness and effective apologetics. "[T]he weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

[1] For examples of successful and unsuccessful RFRA challenges, see Mollie Hemingway, "Meet 10 Americans Helped by Religious Freedom Bills Like Indiana's," The Federalist, March 30, 2015, accessed April 12, 2015, http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/30/meet-10-americans-helped-by-religious-freedom-bills-like-indianas/.

[2] Frank Bruni, "Bigotry, the Bible, and Lessons from Indiana," New York Times, April 3, 2015, accessed April 12, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-same-sex-sinners.html.

[3] For the sake of argument, if Christianity is defined broadly enough to include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then the five largest denominations (the fifth being the Church of God in Christ) officially oppose homosexual practice and same-sex marriage.

[4] James B. DeYoung, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000). See especially Excursus 3, "Homosexual Behavior and Discussion in Plato," 205-13.

[5] Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

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