Culture meets the Church

We live in an interesting time culturally speaking. In fact there are elements of modern culture that are downright disconcerting. Consumerism, materialism, narcissism along with a whole host of other “isms” plague us. Today seems to be all about me, the ultimate sign of how far society has moved away from God (the first sin was pride, Gen 3:5, see also Ro 1:25). What is perhaps even more troubling is the way culture is leaking into the Church. Whilst we as the Church are not supposed to be conformed but be transformed (Ro 12:2) sadly in many areas believers allow culture to lead them rather than the Gospel of Truth. One area this has become apparent is in “church hopping,” switching churches frequently whenever they cease to meet your needs or try to hold you accountable. In speaking with our missionaries recently who serve in South Korea this is even a problem there! Instead of continuing on I thought it would be worth re-blogging a couple of different articles and a video by an American Christian comedian (the discerning Brit will be able to read between the lines):

What if the church doesn’t meet my needs?

7 bad reasons to leave a church (and while we’re on it, what might be 7 good Biblical reasons to leave a church?)

And finally, check our an comedic episode of “Church Hunters”:

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

ISingPop Ministry

Hands

By Chris W. Crocker

Presented at the St.Andew’s CE School ISingPop concert at St. Andrew’s Church on September 28, AD 2017, a community event sponsored by St. Andrew’s Church and Cromhall Chapel. This 360 degree reflection of the Christian faith followed the song See Those Hands.

The Lord be with you!

Hands up if you think the students of St. Andrew’s School are doing a fab job this evening! Let’s give them—and ISingPop— a big hand for all their hard work (clap [draw attention to hand actions with each subsequent reference]).

Take a look at your hands for a moment. Our hands have done a lot of things we are proud of, and if we’re honest also a lot of things we’re probably not. But our hands are amazing aren’t they! The Bible says they were created by Jesus, just as a potters’ hands shape the clay. Did you know the finger prints on your hands are unique to your DNA. No one else in the world has hands like yours, you are special!

But while we were designed to bless Jesus our creator in worship with our hands (lift them up) and live in a relationship with Him, instead we choose to go our own way and curse Jesus with our hands, we sinned.

BUT God the Father, with loving, gracious, merciful and just hands, sent His one and only Son, Jesus into the world He created so whoever would believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16).

So, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary—that first Christmas—and she held the Rescuer with her hands as she pondered these things in her heart. As Jesus got older, He grew up with His hands in wood, working in the family business as a carpenter.

But there came a day when it was time for Jesus to set His hands to the work His heavenly Father had sent Him for. And as He began that work, and was baptised at the hand of John the Baptist, God the Father stretched out His hand from heaven and said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

During His 3 year ministry, Jesus laid His hands on people and healed them of illness, stretched out His hands and fed people, calmed the storm, taught them, all to prove who He was, but most importantly to make a way back to God, which He did in the strangest way.

Jesus suffered abuse at the hands of the Roman soldiers, crowds and religious leaders. Finally the soldiers took nails and a hammer in their hands and nailed Jesus’ hands to the Cross. He hung on that cross by His hands and died. And to make sure He was really, really dead, a soldier picked up his spear in his hand, and thrust it into Jesus side. He died the death that all those who’d believe deserved to die.

BUT that isn’t the end of the story, because three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, proving that He was God’s Son, showing He had power over sin and death in His hands.

People don’t come back to life from the dead though, we’ve got a handle on that, and they knew that back then too!

Yet, 100s of people saw the risen Jesus—this miracle—including His disciples, all but one, Thomas. Thomas said, “Unless I see His hands,… and place my hand in His side, I will never [ever, ever] believe.” (John 20:25).

But a week later Jesus appeared to Thomas and said to him, Thomas “put your fingers here, and see my hands; put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe!” (John 20:27) and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit who will give you” life and life to the full” (John 10:10).

For the Bible says there is coming a day when Jesus will return, not as a baby or a suffering Saviour, but as a great and mighty King and Judge with justice in His hand. What will be the deciding factor?

Not by the “good works” done by our hands but whether we’ve put up our hand and said, “Yes, Jesus, I believe,” put up our hand and said, “Jesus I’m sorry for my sin,” praising Him with our hands and serving Him with our lives.

This is the message of the Lord to us this evening. Thanks be to God!

Half-way evangelism

I recently played host to some family member tourists from Canada. As part of the usual trail of places we took them too, it included some historic churches, cathedrals and abbeys. Often people treat these religious sites as merely sites of historic and architectural interest, no different from a National Trust Property or museum. So, I always value it when the community that represents the building has hourly prayers and asks people to pause to remember it is a Christian place of worship, or when they put up panels explaining the essence of who Jesus is and what Christianity is about.

If you had to write such a panel or explain this to a friend what would you say? Perhaps you might try writing something down yourself, looking up a couple Bible verses to include, it would be a helpful exercise to prepare you for evangelism.

Sadly, some of these panels or leaflets, while beginning with good intentions, end up being a form of half-way evangelism. Consider the following example I came across. There is lots a Christian could say “amen” to, but also much that remains to be said and a few questionable statements. Have a scan to see what you think:

leaflet

Your thoughts?

Allow me to share mine…

1st Paragraph: Amen and amen!

2nd Paragraph: This begins well but in the list of extraordinary things the main reason he came (to defeat sin and death) is not mentioned? The last sentence is also somewhat fuzzy, not necessarily wrong just a bit fuzzy. Perhaps something better would have been to say, “He lived the perfect life we cannot live to show us what it means to live uprightly before God and others” or something to that effect.

3rd Paragraph:

  • 1st sentence: yes
  • 2nd sentence: add…”and for who He claimed to be”
  • 3rd sentence: somewhat vague and universalist (meaning because He died we are all okay without personal faith in Him). How about, “But through His life and death He knew he would atone for the sins of all who would believe in Him, reconciling them to God.” (1 Jn 2:2, 2 Cor 5:18)
  • 4th and 5th sentences: hurray, back on track. Amen!
  • Last sentence: fine

4th Paragraph:

  • 1st sentence: “…are Christians” should read “claim to be Christians” for many who identify as Christian are only nominally so (Mt 7:21). Perhaps they were trying to point to the giant wake Jesus left behind Him as a tool to encourage others to think about following Him?
  • 2nd sentence: Wait a minute! How about, “Through Jesus death and life changing and life giving gift of the Holy Spirit believers are given life to the full, starting now and for eternity.” (John 10:10)
  • 3rd sentence: great

We certainly do not want to be automatically confrontational when we encounter such leaflets (remembering 1 Pet 3:15b), however, we do need to be zealous for truth (Jude 3) and as we are we will be sharpened in our knowledge of Jesus and His Gospel, help others to be so, and together more able to effectively spot error and proclaim with purity the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

How endorsing homosexuality crosses the Rubicon

I would much rather write today about the wonders of authentic Christian faith but in the day and age in which we are living in often find it necessary to equip us against the tossing seas of error that threaten the truth (Jude 1:3).

Since homosexual marriage was legalised in the UK in 2013 many in the church have entered into great discussion on the subject, jostling between the direction culture is heading and what the Bible says (don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind [Ro 12:2]). Trying to make the church relevant by giving into culture in certain matters will only make it less potent and relevant. Given that I am from Canada, the fourth western nation (after the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain) to make such unions legal in 2005, I have had even more time to reflect on the subject and write today to briefly demonstrate how endorsing homosexuality as a church or Christian crosses the Rubicon.

Firstly, what is the Rubicon? It is a figure of speech, quite similar to the phrase “past the point of no return.” It refers to a river in north-eastern Italy that the general Julius Caesar crossed heading south in 49 B.C. The significance? It was illegal under Roman law for a legion to enter Italy and by crossing he effectively declared war on the Senate and eventually brought about the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Roman Empire. Caesar was intentionally doing something that he knew would have far reaching consequences that could not be [easily] undone. In a nutshell to cross the Rubicon means “to commit oneself irrevocably to a risky or revolutionary course of action.” Endorsing homosexuality is a departure from the “faith once for all delivered to the saints.”

History_Ask_History_Crossing_the_Rubicon_SF_HD_1104x622-16x9

How does endorsing homosexuality cross the Rubicon in ways which other authentic Christians may disagree yet still enjoy varying degrees of fellowship and cooperation? Many Christians disagree over the place of women in ministry, the subject and mode of Baptism, predestination, forms of church government, pacifism/ just war, and divorce.

The answer to the above question is that those are all secondary issues, which whilst very important (and an improper view will produce negative effects on personal and corporate Christian life), are not primary issues. Divorce is an interesting comparison to homosexuality. The reason why it does not cross the Rubicon is because while condemning divorce the Bible does make some exceptions, unlike homosexuality. The greater the theological agreement between Christians the greater the level of missional cooperation (Amos 3:3) and this begins with primary theological matters related to the Gospel (what it means to be saved and know and please God through Jesus Christ). The issue of homosexuality crosses at least three primary lines of Christian beliefs: Scripture, the Gospel, and sexuality.

Rejects the doctrine of Scripture

Central to the Christian faith is that the Lord has spoken light into our darkness by revealing Himself in the Bible. While we must remember context when studying the Bible (literary, theological, historical) the book in question is no ordinary human book but “sacred writings” inspired by God, because “All Scripture is inspired by God and useful…” (2 Tim 3:15­–16) and “every word of God proves true” (Prov 30:5).

Therefore Scripture is trustworthy, authoritative and sufficient. Because God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8) the truths He has spoken to us remain the same today just as they were 2000 years ago, from eternity past, and into eternity future. If the Bible is from God we listen and obey, if it isn’t we can do what we want, but that is not Christianity.

The problem with endorsing homosexuality is it forces one to crop out significant portions of Scripture as uninspired (under the guise they are culturally bound texts) such as Gen 19; Lev 18:22, 20:10–16; Rom 1:23-27; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; Jude 7. The problem is that not only is the cultural argument untenable, but that in dismissing these passages one dismisses a consistent teaching of the Bible that is intricately interrelated to other key texts and teachings of the Bible. To affirm homosexuality is to dismiss Scripture, including Gospel passages.

Rejects the Gospel

The Gospel message begins with the bad news of sin and ends with the good news of forgiveness from sin through faith in Jesus Christ and [eternal] life in His name. To reject homosexuality as sin is also to reject the Gospel. In 1 Cor 6 (cited above) verse 11 reminds the Corinthian believers that “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” When we know we fall short of God’s perfect standard (Mt 5:48) and that faith in Jesus offers us not only forgiveness but the power to change, that is good news in light of our present circumstances. Homosexuality, similar to other sins, separates us from God. The good news is that—whatever our sin(s) or past— we can be restored to God through faith and repentance in Christ and transformed by His Spirit into new creations (2 Cor 5:17). If sin is not sin and the Gospel does not have the power to change it is not a message of good news.

Rejects God’s design for marriage, sexuality and gender

To endorse homosexuality is not simply a different Christian view on human sexuality, it is an entirely different worldview. All Christian teaching on marriage, sexuality and gender (including Jesus and Paul) trace their roots to Gen 1:26–28 and 2:22–24. This is further filtered through the lens of God’s moral standard in the Law such that when in the NT Jesus and Paul quote Genesis and the Law they are showing continuity and agreement with God’s original design consistent throughout Scripture. When Jesus warns the “sexually immoral” that includes homosexuality because it is a stock phrase used by Jesus to refer to the moral standard for sexuality expressed in the Law.

People can dismiss what the Bible clearly teaches on the subject, they are free in matters of conscience to do that, however, it is misguided to say the Biblical worldview for marriage, sexuality and gender is in anyway compatible with those views that endorse homosexuality.

Many objections have and will be made to similar lines of thought as those presented here. I would refer such people to 2 Tim 4:1–5. If we degrade Christ (His Word, Gospel and designs), He will surely degrade us. Recent studies show that generally those churches that remain true to orthodox Christian teachings (such as marriage and sexuality) grow, whilst those who go ahead of such teachings (2 John 1:9) are in general state of decline. Unlike many divisive issues within the church in the past this issue is a Rubicon that will separate the wheat from the chaff. Many churches and individuals have already or are considering crossing the Rubicon. To the former I would exhort you with the aforementioned words, to the latter I would say the following. While Caesar crossed the point of no return, whilst endorsing homosexuality does depart from orthodox Christianity, unlike the Rubicon, through repentance in Jesus Christ, a turning back to Him, restoration is graciously possible.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Two types of Christians I really respect…part II

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog with this title and now answer the second half of it, another type of Christian I have immense respect for, and for whom we should all unite our prayers.

The unequally yoked after marriage

The Bible envisions the possibility of one person in a marriage becoming a believer, what then?

1 Cor 7:12–16 says (emphasis added):

12 To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is made holy[1] because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean,[2] but as it is, they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved.[3] God has called you to peace. 16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

Jesus teaching had not handled the situation of one spouse becoming a believer but Paul here (with inspired authority) applies Jesus’ teaching to this new situation.

I know of a number of women who have come to faith later in life (or “returned to the Lord”) who now find themselves in this tricky situation and the tension that introducing heavenly values into what had been a marriage of worldly standards can produce in a marriage. In spite of these trials the spouse should seek to be gracious so they might be won by their conduct (1 Pet 3:1, though this is given to wives the principle would extend to a husband).

I am also aware of many women whose husbands left them after they became a Christian. One such woman was married for 11 years when she became a Christian and had 3 children. Two years later the husband had enough of her new found faith and gave the ultimatum that it was either himself or Jesus. She choose Jesus and he divorced her.

For women (and men) who find themselves in such situations, let us unite our prayers, asking that the Lord would sustain them in any trial related to their faith but ultimately that the unbelieving spouse might be won over by their good conduct.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Open to Christian influence. This should not be read as “saved.”

[2] Similarly, this should be taken to mean under sound moral and spiritual influence from the believing parent and not “saved.”

[3] Not compelled to seek reconciliation.

Manning Up

We’ve probably all seen those saddening reports that link absentee fathers to a great many social issues faced in our age. Yet, this issue is simply the root of a far less overt but equally destructive problem in society, that of men not “manning up” to their God given responsibilities and roles. Let’s look back to the Garden of Eden and examine Adam’s prime temptation and failure to better understand this deeper spiritual issue.

We often think it was Eve’s fault for the fall (at least that is one of the traditional views) after all she was the one talking with Satan and she is the one who took the fruit (not the apple!) and ate. But if you look more closely you see this:

“…she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with here, and he ate.” (Gen 3:6b)

Adam’s failure was that he failed to protect his wife Eve from the serpent’s lie by correcting the serpent by quoting what God had actually said (the truth found in Gen 2:16–17. Compare Adam’s failure to address the serpent with how Jesus responded to Satan in His temptation in Mt 4). Instead of “manning up” to his responsibility we actually see that “he ate” as well, becoming complicit in the crime that saw humanity separated from God. Even though Eve’s guilt was primary, part of the reason Paul gives Timothy as to why women should not be teachers over men in the Church (1 Tim 2:14), that Adam was the head over his wife (as Christ is the church, 1 Cor 11:3), that he had greater responsibility as the head of the family and representative of mankind, is the reason why the ultimate reason the Bible gives for this separation is not Eve’s sin but Adam’s, “…sin came into the world through one man…” (Ro 5:12). Adam was doubly guilty.

A man’s prime temptation is to shy away from responsibility; yet he finds his greatest fulfilment in stepping up into that responsibility, whether married or not. (A woman’s prime temptation and fulfilment is something entirely different which time does not allow to be unpacked here). Men are first called to godliness (a calling they share with women, 1 Tim 4:7b, “train yourself in godliness.”). This is something society often considers as weak for men to pursue but is at the very centre of what it means to be a real man like Jesus, to be in fellowship with God. A central part of being a godly man is to take responsibility in life, to not be lazy or to sit back, but to step forward, to do, to lead, not out of compulsion but willingly. When men are willing to be responsible they will step up into their God given roles, both those that Scripture ordains and those that godly wisdom suggests are normative (though not necessarily exclusive) to men.

Men are often portrayed as liking a challenge (I would suggest that this stems from how we were wired by God). Here is a spiritual challenge for men in our generation:

“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land [said the LORD], that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezk 22:30)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more men chose humility rather than rebellious pride, Christ over Satan, responsibility over inaction or laziness (and men and women of faith prayed to this effect, and (especially godly women) encouraged and facilitated the men they know to the end). This would prove to be one of the greatest transformative forces to redeem the effects of the fall in our broken country and world, if more men would man up and stand in the gap.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

YIKES!

There are many things I would rather write about, the wonders of Jesus, the depths of what it means to follow Him, however, pastors—in every age— often spend a great deal of their time speaking into the particular issues of the day, which morally speaking centre right now around the LGBTI and gender inclusive agenda. Like I said, this is not a hobby horse but something I feel I must address.

Many Christians have reluctantly acknowledged that until a move of the Holy Spirit comes upon our land to awaken us to the truth and reveal our sin and need for Jesus, there is a very small likelihood that the recent tide of laws against marriage will be reversed. And that we can very comfortably sit behind a belief that while these things may exist in society (and even grow as they are promoted as a choice) that we are safe because of our “freedom of religion” and “freedom of speech.” If you read the fine print of the Article 9 of the 1998 UK Human Rights Act[1] you’ll see there are loopholes that permit a way to circumvent these “freedoms.” This, however, is not the news that concerns me today.

You may have seen a recent news article where the European country of Malta passed legislation banning “gay cure conversion therapy.” Click here to read the BBC article. There are a number of things that I think are disconcerting about this law:

  • That the law “enshrines” that sexual orientation or gender identity is not wrong or a “short coming of any sort”
  • That others who disagree for religious or non-religious reasons are therefore legally “wrong.”
  • That religious freedom is outweighed by others “rights.”
  • That if you believe such things are not acceptable and seek to help change someone you will face up to £8,450 in fines and a year in prison (sending a clear message that freedom of religion is really freedom from religion and that this freedom is at best secondary).
  • That if it has gained a foothold in Europe, how much longer until such laws are advanced in the UK?
  • Lastly, that it strikes hard against two Biblical truths, the first is that what the Bible describes as right and wrong is the standard, there is no other; and the second, the Gospel itself.

While the law targets professionals such as psychiatrists who offer various forms of gay conversion therapy, it also would apply to Christian leaders, preachers and teachers who preach the life transforming message of the Gospel. While physical and psychological routes for gay conversion may assist they ultimately fall short of offering true hope to the individual because the issue is ultimately about sin and requires a spiritual solution.

This is what we read of in 1 Cor 6: 9–11 (emphasis added):

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This passage identifies a representative list of various sins (which includes but is not limited to homosexuality) that separate us from God. Paul then reminds the Corinthians “and such were some of you” meaning they had been CHANGED by believing in the Gospel (that’s the “but”). They once were and were now no longer. The hope of change from homosexuality is possible (though many prefer to continue to walk in darkness). However, it comes not through gay conversion therapy but by trusting in Jesus.

May we never lose sight of the wonder and power of the Gospel which can transform any sinner and make them a new creation in Christ Jesus, regardless of the consequences. May we never cease to be defined by the message of the Gospel that sets us apart as Christ’s.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] Article 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

<http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1/part/I/chapter/8&gt;

Donald J. Trump and the Sermon on the Mount

I must confess, that because of its importance to not only the United States, but the world, I have been following the American presidential election. Like many Christian voters I could not in good conscience root for either candidate. If they are weighed in the balances of the Bible they both come out wanting (c.f. Dan 5:27). Mrs. Hillary is a sly fox, whereas Mr. Trump is an arrogant bear, which is likely why many are bewildered by him but forgot about Hillary. We ought to pray for America, and pray that Christians in that land would look to the Lord for their salvation and not their government (Prov 29:26).

When I was watching the last presidential debate I was struck by how blatantly Trump spoke against Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. When replying to a question about his lewd comments about women he went on the offensive:

TRUMP: It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.

If you look at Bill Clinton, far worse. Mine are words, and his was action. His was what he’s done to women. There’s never been anybody in the history politics in this nation that’s been so abusive to women. So you can say any way you want to say it, but Bill Clinton was abusive to women.[1]

I have underlined the bit that stood out to me, the words that contrast with what Jesus said:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. (Matthew 5:27-30 ESV)

This also reflects the same principle put forward under a different teaching regarding hatred and violence (Mt 5:21–26).

What Jesus is getting at is that sin is ultimately a heart issue. It doesn’t matter if you don’t act but only think, for “from the heart comes all kinds of evil” (Mt 15:19). This is where Trump is dead wrong, falsely believing that because he only used words (one step further than thoughts) and Clinton acted, that somehow makes him better. According to Jesus that doesn’t cut it.

The solution? How are we to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5:48) even in one’s heart? Part of the intent of the lofty ideals laid down in the Sermon on the Mount is to impress upon us just how imperfect we are, how unrighteous, how sinful, and just how much we need the perfection and the righteousness that only Jesus can give to the one who shows a contrite heart. To that person Jesus promises to transform our hearts by giving us completely new ones! (Ezk 36:26). So let’s stop blaming others and own up for our sinful hearts and seek the Lord.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/10/us/politics/transcript-second-debate.html?_r=0

Materialism vs. Christ-centred Contentment

In the face of the materialist idols Satan so tempts the world of today with, Proverbs 30:8b–9 provides us with great alternative wisdom to the mainstream of 21st century British culture:

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.

Jesus says that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven because their great wealth can blind them to seeing their physical and spiritual need of Him. Sadly, their wealth can corrupt their souls so they boast not in God but their wealth. On the other extreme is the person who is so poor that they sin by taking what is not theirs. They too fail to trust God to provide and take their salvation into their own hands. What is the best state to find oneself in according to this proverb? It is to have one’s daily bread, to have just enough, to be content (cf. Mt 6:11, 31–33; 1 Ti 6:6–8; Heb 13:5), and more so to be content knowing that if one has Christ they have more than enough.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

It is because of the vast spiritual treasury available to the believer in Christ that Paul could say in Philippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all [material] things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

Calling evil good and good evil (a word to Christians about the LGBTI agenda)

Woe to those who call evil good

                               and good evil,

               who put darkness for light

                               and light for darkness,

               who put bitter for sweet

                               and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20 ESV)

 This was true of Isaiah’s day and it is certainly true today, where people live sinful lives as if they were the norm (Proverbs 14:12). We live in an age of moral confusion. What was once viewed as evil and unacceptable has witnessed a 180 revolution where evil is touted as being good, and liberating—the epitome of a “liberal” society.[1] Many people begrudgingly go along with the LGBTI[2] agenda or shrug it off by saying things like, “they can do what they’d like” or “so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone or bother me…” The reason behind the shift? Our present state of moral confusion has derived from their ceasing to exist in the minds of the populace a moral authority as to what is right and what is wrong. Even for those who have mild moral bearings standing up for what is right is often hard to do and so if the squeaky wheel gets the grease… “hang on a second shouldn’t we think about this…oh bother with the fuss, I’d rather go watch tennis.” This article attempts to reasonably think through this vast issue of gender confusion in an introductory manner from a Biblical and Christian perspective. While many other helpful arguments that support the Biblical view of gender can be found in natural law, etc, (appealed to by non-Christians of religious and non-religious persuasions alike), this post will limit itself to the Biblical argument believing the Bible to be the authoritative Word of God and therefore sufficient in all matters of morality, faith and practice.

The LGBTI agenda has been the squeaky wheel that has got the grease. It has been a silent and stealthy force creeping through Western civilization, often without any thought or resistance. Recently transgenderism[3] has been the issue in vogue. The US has been debating toilet laws and whether transgendered people could join the army. Canada is moving towards gender neutral statements on government issued ID cards as if we are all androgynous.[4] Suddenly transgenderism and homosexuality are being plastered across the media and film in an attempt to enculturate society into believing that the old evil is the new norm.

Part of the issue in trying to stick one’s neck out and offer an honest plea for common sense is that one’s neck risks being cut off. Opposition is branded as the enemy or as hate speech. Let me stop and be clear. This article is not hate speech, it is being offered calmly and collectively, putting forward the Christian view, one filled with truth and love. This is being done in a traditionally liberal spirit (meaning the view open to broad learning and dialogue) and indeed the LGBTI view represents the illiberal view (close-minded to other views than its own). Funny how words change in meaning when those who used to espouse the liberal arts of listening and dialogue, and have largely come to believe the worldview that there is no grand truth and yet militantly use threats to quell any challenge to the norm that is being imposed. For those who are illiberal I am already the enemy. For those who are open to reason and would like to know more of the teaching of the Bible on the subject, I invite you to continue with me.

Before we turn to the Bible one helpful clarification on gender and sexuality.

The World Health Organization records that, “Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.”

To be fair there have been times in the past where aspects of gender have been stereotypically pinned to one sex or another whilst in reality they could be common to the sexes (i.e. the old saying that girls couldn’t play sports). So in this sense the challenge to aspects of traditional gender association has been liberating (for men and women). However, while there are some gender attributes that may be legitimately shared across the sexes many find their roots not in what “society considers appropriate” but in the sex that God assigned to us. For example, there is something in the biological hardwiring of men that make them providers and women nurturers. What separates men and women is not just our physical anatomy. Men really are men and women truly are women. The differences do not only revolve around reproductive systems, but the totality of our biology and calling as being created in the image of God fashions us as men and women, distinct but equal in God’s sight. Therefore the Biblical view sees gender and sex as being inextricably linked and assigned by God, whereas the contemporary developing view sees gender (and sex via sex changes) as a subjective matter of choice.

The Biblical View of Gender

 Why is it that Deut 22:5 says,

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5 ESV)

This verse against transvestitism (dressing like the opposite sex) is a prime example of how the Bible places boundaries between male and female because God has fearfully and wonderfully made us and assigned to us our sex which is a gift to be cherish and not denied or confused. To deny your sex is to deny who God has made you to be and to rebel against God.

On the creation of the sexes let’s turn to Genesis 1:27:

 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

(Genesis 1:27 ESV) [emphasis added]

This truth is the fountainhead of all other conversations about human gender and sexuality in the Bible. Every one of them harkens back to this truth. After Gen 1:27 it says God saw that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31). Therefore to deny who we are is to rebel against God’s good design for us. It bespeaks arrogance, pride, revolt, selfishness and self-indulgence whereas accepting and rejoicing in who God made you speaks of humility, celebration, gratitude, submission and worship.

This is why as part of the FIEC we have collectively proposed adopting the following statement on gender:

God created us male and female, and calls us to live according to our gender identity which is inseparable from our biological sex determined at conception. Our gender may not be changed or reassigned.

 *This said we need to acknowledge that there are difficult and very rare cases such as biological “transgenderism” (when a child is born as a hermaphrodite or intersex [having both sets of sexual organs]). As Jesus said, “there are eunuchs who have been so from birth” (Mt 19:21). Physical defects such as this are a general result of the Fall. Being confronted with these parents have an enormous decision to make, one in which I would argue they as parents have the authority to exercise parental judgement in one way or the other. In such cases families require all the care and counsel Christians can offer. However, a rare exception should never be allowed to trump the rule.

 How Christians Should Treat Transgendered People

Have compassion on the lost and confused as Jesus did:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36 ESV)

Because these people are troubled, insecure and often possess deep wounds, they are therefore in great need of healing, teaching and care. We need to do this firmly but with gentleness and respect (1 Pet 3:15) remembering they are our fellow sinners and that the only thing that separates us is grace:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV) [emphasis added]

We must love them while presenting the truth to them with the firm believe that true healing for their gender confusion can only be found in their finding their identity in Christ.

In a generation in which morality sways with the wind may those who follow Christ resolutely place their feet upon the rock trusting He will be the anchor that will keep us in the storm, and may the Lord use such steadfastness to be a light in the moral confusion of our time.

The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,

Pastor Chris

[1] “Freedom” however is often pure licentiousness and underneath its cover is the truth that people who think they are free—free from God, authority, moral obligations— are actually slaves to Satan and sin (Ro 6:18). Our inalienable rights are truly only those that God has established in His word.

[2] Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans-gendered or Inter-Sex.

[3] To be transgendered refers to a person whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender.

[4]Being neither male nor female in sex and gender.