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An Exercise in Picking & Choosing What to Read AND Believe

This post and this post have engendered some spirited discussion between a poster named Clare Flourish, a Christian who defends the homosexual lifestyle as a God-given gift, and me, who follows what the Bible says on the matter.

Clare’s follow up post is a veritable case study on how to read into things what you want to be there, instead of what is actually there.  She does that to both my words and the words of the Bible.  I suppose if she’s lax with Scripture reading, I should expect no better given that Scripture contains the words of God himself while I am just a man with no special revelation.

[Cory] wants to save me from that Hell to which all unrepentant gay people will inevitably go after death. I want to save him from hell now, from the idea that humanity is naturally wicked. [1]

Really?  That’s interesting.  If you read my comment, I said this:

Finally, gay people are no more damned than any of us, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But we are also urged to live in a manner worthy of the calling to which we are called, which gay people who are living in homosexual relationships are NOT.

Does that mean you’re going to hell? Well, I wouldn’t say that. Probably not. It means that you have a sin in your life and that must be dealt with. It doesn’t mean God loves you less; he did, after all, call you to be a Christian.

You will have to deal with this in your own time and in your own way. I see you’ve given this issue a lot of thought, and I applaud that. However, I think you’ve come to the wrong conclusions and I’m not afraid to say that you have. Just as you are not afraid to say that I’ve come to the wrong conclusions. (emphasis added) [2]

So I’m not trying to save Clare from any hell, future or otherwise.  What I’m trying to do is be her Christian brother and point her away from sin that is impeding her relationship with the Lord.  I don’t think she’s going to hell and I can’t save her from a place she’s not going.  I think she has a sin that needs to be eliminated.

As to the idea that humanity is naturally wicked, well that’s pretty much the unanimous teaching of Scripture and of history.  I’ve already covered that elsewhere, so I’m not going to dive into it now. Read the rest of this entry

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But, You Really DO Hate Gay People!

As I figured I would be, I’ve been called out on this post.  A blogger named Jessica Sideways insists that I really do hate gay people and seek to deny them rights.

The whole post in which she does this is, frankly, a waste of the bits and bytes used to store it on her server.  Those could have been used for something far more worthwhile, like a nice virus or maybe another iteration of a Socially Awkward Penguin meme.

Before I respond, an open note to Jessica:  I have a feeling I know how this back-and-forth is going to go.  Therefore, this post only will be in a Minimal Sarcasm Zone.  Only truly inane points you make will be subject to scathing, ironic humor.  If you choose to respond and show the same remedial grasp of philosophical issues I’ve already seen, you will be subject to sarcasm that will make you think of J.P. Holding as a nice guy.

You’ve been warned, now class is in session. Read the rest of this entry

Another Facebook Meme that Should be Destroyed

Wow.  Just wow.  So many things wrong with this graphic.  So many problems and inconsistencies of thought. . . .  So many half-truths and misrepresentations. . . .

Let’s just start left and travel right.  A word of warning — this is longer than my average blog post because it covers a variety of topics related to same-sex marriage.  It’s approaching 1800 words and I cut quite a bit of material out.  Be warned as you travel below the fold. . . . Read the rest of this entry

Hanging on to Faith, But Not Liking It

Rachel Held Evans appears to be toying with the notion of dropping the label of “Christian” altogether as she writes with tortured keystrokes:

I am hanging by the tips of sweaty fingers on this ledge of faith, wondering if letting go will bring freedom or death. I’ve hung on before—through the science wars, the gender wars, the Christmas wars, the culture wars—but I’m just so tired of fighting, so tired of feeling out of place. (source)

What’s the cause of this?

The Chik-fil-A controversy.

Rachel, like most in the liberal Christianity camp, rejects the notion that homosexuality is a sin.  She even says it is a “right” that we conservatives aim to deny:

I too believe marriage is a civil right in this country, and I too get frustrated when Christians appeal to their faith  to withhold this right from their neighbors. (source)

Rachel is clearly agonizing over her fellow Christians with the issue of homosexual marriage.  She not only wants to stop praying, but she thinks it might be better for some to be separated from grace:

Suddenly, my religion is alien to me—small, petty, reactive.  My faith has lost its bearings. I don’t feel like praying anymore, not even for the mom who begged me to pray for her gay son who vowed yesterday never to return to church again.

Can I blame him?  Perhaps it is better if he stays away. (source)

I want to seize just a moment on one statement, which I think is the key to Rachel’s problem: “My faith has lost its bearings.”

Yes, it has.  Now let’s examine why that’s the case.

Nick Peters argues, in part, that homosexuality isn’t part of special revelation (the Bible), but a part of general revelation:

. . . [I]n Leviticus 18 and 20, the verses following the list of sins tells us that it is for committing these sins that other nations are being cast out. Other nations were never punished for not following the dietary restrictions or wearing mixed fabrics. Those were practices that set Israel apart from the other nations as a sign they were in covenant with God. The other nations were commanded by Israel to live moral lives, but they were never commanded to follow Jewish practices. Jews could be condemned for trading with other nations on the Sabbath, but the other nations were not condemned for working on the Sabbath.

Note also that this places homosexuality in the category of general revelation. Other nations were cast out because of doing things that we can say that they should have known better. It would not make sense for God to punish a people when they could not have known that they were doing anything wrong. Since this is in general revelation then, you don’t need the Bible. (source)

So that means if you never pick up a Bible, you should still understand that homosexuality violates the natural order of things  (see Dave Armstrong and Jennifer Fulwiler for more on this “natural order” argument).  If you don’t see a violation of the natural order, then we have a bigger problem.

Why?

In committing any sin, you are essentially suppressing the truth of God through unrighteousness (Rom 1:18).  And acting on such evil inclinations without a second thought is a judgment from God:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom 1:26-32)

Rachel gives approval to those who practice homosexuality, campaigning for their right to legally marry.

Well, no wonder her faith has lost its ground!

She has suppressed the natural law through unrighteous support of sin.  Therefore, God is giving her over to these desires — and her faith is slipping because she feels the distance.

There are only two ways to end her cycles of uncertainty.  She can let go of the cliff, and therefore fall into the abyss.  Or, she can recommit to understanding God in his glory, on his terms (even the decrees she doesn’t like), thus hauling herself back onto the safety of the ledge.

Either option will settle her mind, but only one leads to life.  And it’s easier to let go rather than muster the strength to climb back up (Mt 7:13-14).

Freedom of Speech

As far back as high school, I often lamented that some folks read the First Amendment to say “Freedom of speech until you offend me, then I’ll sue your sorry butt.”

I wasn’t concerned with a Christian audience that might abhor profanity, so when I said it back in high school and college, I didn’t use the term “butt.”

The point still stands, and I see it more clearly than I ever did at 17.  There is a tide of public opinion now that values tolerance and diversity, except for some people.  “Tolerance” isn’t selective by nature, but secularists tolerate views selectively.

Recently, a Christian in the UK was demoted for expressing his opinion that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.  He did so on his own time, and on his personal Facebook page which is only open to his friends.

Now, legally speaking, regardless of privacy settings, there is no expectation of privacy on Facebook or Twitter.  I know this and I’m not going to argue otherwise.  But the comment on this story from Natalie sums up exactly what is wrong with the secular viewpoint:

No one limits the rights for private worship, promotion of christian beliefs in the private sphere. However, internet, blogs, facebook and twitter are all public domains. As a public servant, a representative of an actively secular institution- secular by the law of the land, no one should not publicly publish promotion of religious opinions and values in the public arena. No one ought to utilise public assets or services to promote religious views. This is a great aspect of freedom in western democracies and ought to be defended down to the smallest detail. The public servants were correct to chastise Christians for promoting their faith using public assets and in public spaces.

So, basically, once you can read it, it shouldn’t be allowed.  Like I’ve always said, “You have freedom of speech until it offends me.”

While I agree that the Internet and everything on it is public, this man is still entitled to his opinion and should be able to express it in a public forum, as Natalie may express hers.  Regardless of agreement.

I will argue with atheists.  I will challenge their points, views, biblical exegesis, and conclusions.  But I will never say that they don’t have the right to express their views in a public forum.  That’s precisely why the forum is public — so that differing opinions may be hashed out, challenged, and thought through.  Public means open to all.

Not being allowed to express religious opinions isn’t “freedom of speech” by any definition I can find.  It’s totalitarian oppression.  I know that my religious opinion has no value in secular mindsets.  But, I ignore opinions of no value.  Secularists don’t return the favor — they try to suppress my opinion.  Why?  That doesn’t make any sense.

Natalie’s promoting the evil she allegedly repudiates, though I doubt she sees it that way.  That’s actually the saddest part to all of this.  Christians have as much right to the Internet as atheists.  We just haven’t been as smart about using it.

God Commanded Terrible Stuff!

In regard to God defining morality (part of a reply to this post), Alex wrote:

Right, so I guess then that slavery is fine, that homosexuals should be killed, that it’s ok to kill people who pick up sticks on a Saturday or Sunday, that child sacrificing is perfectly fine, that a tooth for a tooth is perfectly fine and on and on?

This has all been answered before, so here’s the round-up of replies:

Amazingly, no mention of God commanding genocide.  That’s the only atheist talking point missing from Alex’s short list.

Hopefully, I won’t have to answer any of these charges again, but I kind of doubt it.  All of these are atheist favorites, despite repeated correction by many, many Christian apologists.  I’m sure we’ll keep seeing these brought up over and over again, until Christ’s triumphant return.

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 4

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right. (answered)
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

These get easier and easier to answer.

Premise (4) is a nominal attempt to say that homosexual unions aren’t given full rights through a fallacy of special pleading.

However, that’s not the case for three reasons.  First, we have shown that homosexuality isn’t the typical order of things.

Second, we have demonstrated that heterosexual unions are superior by simple utilitarianism — which is the typical philosophy of right and wrong espoused by supporters of gay marriage (see NotAScientist’s comment for a great example of utilitarianism in action).

Third, marriage rights are regulated for perfectly valid reasons.

Therefore, it is easy to conclude that there is no special pleading going on.  Recall for something to be special pleading, there can be no valid reason for differentiating it from other cases.  In the case of gay marriage, there are big differences between it and heterosexual marriage, which is exactly the reason its forbidden in the first place.

This means (4) is out of gas.  And, it means I’m done without having to address (5) as a conclusion.  David has uber-failed to establish any of his premises as true.  In fact, they are all false.  Therefore, the conclusion is faulty and I will let this series stand, unless David cares to defend himself.

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 3

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts. (answered)
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Now we tackle premise (3), which is (like its predecessors) demonstrably false. Read the rest of this entry

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 2

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

Though he deleted the post that this series is replying to, I am still running my series.

David lays out the following argument in favor of gay marriage:

  1. Homosexuality is not unnatural. (answered)
  2. Neither homosexuality nor its acts have been proven inferior to heterosexuality or its acts.
  3. Marriage is a basic human right.
  4. Homosexual unions are unfairly not being given full and equal rights as heterosexual unions.
  5. Therefore, homosexual marriages with full and equal rights should be legalized and put into effect.

Premise (2) pretty much deserves a rhetorical “Are you kidding me?” in reply and nothing more.

David’s incoherent explanation:

According to the American Psychological Association, it has officially been declared that homosexuality is not a choice or a decision. (source)

Which we already acknowledged in the refutation of premise (1).  The issue with premise (1) is that homosexuality was immoral, not that it is “unnatural;” it is certainly found within nature and is likely a part of our human nature.

But that doesn’t make it “good.”

Now, this premise takes it that we haven’t proven it “inferior,” but it never takes the time to define what would constitute the act being inferior. Read the rest of this entry

Case Against the Case for Gay Marriage, part 1

David, an atheist who is dedicated to exposing Christianity for what it is, has begun a new blog that I discovered quite by accident.

It’s actually a funny story, which I’ll tell even though it has nothing to do with the actual argument that I’ll be critiquing from the site.  I was trimming my RSS feed and noticed that, very long ago, John W. Loftus had started a blog called Counter-Apologetics Master Program.  He intended to create a degree program to combat Christian apologetics.  I noticed that it hadn’t been updated in a long time, so I visited the site to see if it was even still active.

Turns out, the blog address had been abandoned by Loftus, but claimed by David.  David started his blog as a counterpoint to Matt Slick’s ministry CARM, even calling his blog by the same acronym.  Probably to get accidental traffic.

So, anyway, I literally wandered into this by total accident.

In a deleted post, David challenges CARM to reply to his argument in favor of gay marriage.  I don’t know if David deleted the post because it’s a terrible argument, or because he’s attempting to refine it.  However, I’m still going to answer it, a piece at a time, in this series.

Even though I’m not affiliated with CARM.

Read the rest of this entry