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Category Archives: Theology

Evangelicals with gay children challenging church

infowarrior1 alerted me to this article.

Rob and Linda Robertson did what they believed was expected of them as good Christians.

When their 12-year-old son Ryan said he was gay, they told him they loved him, but he had to change. He entered “reparative therapy,” met regularly with his pastor and immersed himself in Bible study and his church youth group. After six years, nothing changed. A despondent Ryan cut off from his parents and his faith, started taking drugs and in 2009, died of an overdose.

“Now we realize we were so wrongly taught,” said Rob Robertson, a firefighter for more than 30 years who lives in Redmond, Washington. “It’s a horrible, horrible mistake the church has made.”

Yes and no; they should have told him what God’s standard is, and that he had two choices, for living righteously in harmony with God’s ways: either celibate or married to a woman (if reparative therapy worked). Either of those two would be in line with Scripture. Unfortunate that their church’s failure to present the two godly alternatives open to their son led him to despair, to the point of foolishly taking his own life.

The tragedy could have easily driven the Robertsons from the church. But instead of breaking with evangelicalism – as many parents in similar circumstances have done – the couple is taking a different approach, and they’re inspiring other Christians with gay children to do the same. They are staying in the church and, in protesting what they see as the demonization of their sons and daughters, presenting a new challenge to Christian leaders trying to hold off growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.

“Parents don’t have anyone on their journey to reconcile their faith and their love for their child,” said Linda Robertson, who with Rob attends a nondenominational evangelical church. “They either reject their child and hold onto their faith, or they reject their faith and hold onto their child. Rob and I think you can do both: be fully affirming of your faith and fully hold onto your child.”

Not if your child is in rebellion against God and His ways.

It’s not clear how much of an impact these parents can have. Evangelicals tend to dismiss fellow believers who accept same-sex relationships as no longer Christian. The parents have only recently started finding each other online and through faith-oriented organizations for gays and lesbians such as the Gay Christian Network, The Reformation Project and The Marin Foundation.

But Linda Robertson, who blogs about her son at justbecausehebreathes.com, said a private Facebook page she started last year for evangelical mothers of gays has more than 300 members. And in the last few years, high-profile cases of prominent Christian parents embracing their gay children indicate a change is occurring beyond a few isolated families.

James Brownson, a New Testament scholar at Western Theological Seminary, a Michigan school affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, last year published the book “Bible, Gender, Sexuality,” advocating a re-examination of what Scripture says about same-sex relationships. His son came out at age 18.

Chester Wenger, a retired missionary and pastor with the Mennonite Church USA, lost his clergy credentials this fall after officiating at his son’s marriage to another man. In a statement urging the church to accept gays and lesbians, Wenger noted the pain his family experienced when a church leader excommunicated his son three decades ago without any discussion with Wenger and his wife.

The Rev. Danny Cortez, pastor of New Heart Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation in California, was already moving toward recognizing same-sex relationships when his teenage son came out. When Cortez announced his changed outlook to his congregation this year, they voted to keep him. The national denomination this fall cut ties with the church.

Ah yes; I had heard about that latter situation, in fact I reported on it here

Good for the Mennonite Church USA and the Southern Baptists, holding the line, at least for now…

(Though how much longer the SBC will hold the line, isn’t clear, esp. in light of recent developments…)

In the United Methodist Church, two ministers with gay sons drew national attention for separately presiding at their children’s same-sex weddings despite a church prohibition against doing so: The Rev. Thomas Ogletree, a former dean of the Yale Divinity School, ultimately was not disciplined by the church, while the Rev. Frank Schaefer went through several church court hearings. He won the case and kept his clergy credentials, becoming a hero for gay marriage supporters within and outside the church.

Not surprising; the UMC sold out a long time ago…

“I think at some point moms and dads are going to say to their pastors and church leadership that you can’t tell me that my child is not loved unconditionally by God,” said Susan Shopland, the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary who, along with her gay son, is active with the Gay Christian Network.

Oh yeah? What does Scripture teach?

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Authorized (King James) Version (AKJV)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And sorry, ma, you’re supposed to love God more than your son, else you are an enemy of God.

Matthew 10:34-37 King James Version (KJV)

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

There it is, in God’s Word. Chew on that.

The article continues:

Kathy Baldock, a Christian who advocates for gay acceptance through her website CanyonwalkerConnections.com, said evangelical parents are speaking out more because of the example set by their children. Gay and lesbian Christians have increasingly been making the argument they can be attracted to people of the same gender and remain faithful to God, whether that means staying celibate or having a committed same-sex relationship.

Those are two entirely different things: being celibate means honouring God; being in a committed relationship means deliberately, defiantly disobeying Him. The one is remaining faithful to God; the other is the exact opposite.

How can you be so stupid as to not see the difference, other than that you willfully don’t wish to?

The annual conference of the Gay Christian Network has grown from 40 people a decade ago to an expected 1,400 for the next event in January.

Matthew Vines, author of “God and the Gay Christian,” has attracted more than 810,000 views on YouTube for a 2012 lecture he gave challenging the argument that Scripture bars same-sex relationships.

“These kids are now staying in the churches. They’re not walking away like they used to,” Baldock said.

Good; now said churches must communicate both the eternal consequences of lifestyle choices and also the consequences for continued membership in the church here on Earth: excommunication for defiance of Biblical sexual norms.

The collapse of support for “reparative therapy” is also a factor, Shopland said. In June of last year, Alan Chambers, the leader of Exodus International, a ministry that tried to help conflicted Christians repress same-sex attraction, apologized for the suffering the ministry caused and said the group would close down.

I remember when that happened; I thought it was tragic; Mr. Chambers had been doing righteous, Godly work, but they got to him, and changed his mind, unfortunately. And there’s nothing else out there quite like what Exodus International was, alas…

At a conference on marriage and sexuality last month, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, the Rev. Al Mohler, said he was wrong to believe that same-sex attraction could be changed.

Oh look; Al Mohler being an idiot again on a matter of sexuality. Why were you wrong? Exodus International worked, at least for some; there were testimonials to that effect out there, I remember hearing them.

Baldock, The Marin Foundation and the Gay Christian Network all say Christian parents have ben reaching out to them for help in notably higher numbers in the last couple of years.

“If it doesn’t work, then parents are left with the question of what is the answer?” Shopland said. “If I can’t change my kid into being a straight Christian, then what?”

Whether or not they can be changed into straight, they are called, just like all of us, if Christian, to live holy, God-honouring lives. For the Christian of homosexual orientation, if they can’t become straight, that means taking up the cross of self-denial, and committing to living a life of celibacy. Either way, they, like all of us, are called to not wilfully sin.

Bill Leonard, a specialist in American religious history at Wake Forest Divinity School, said church leaders should be especially concerned about parents. He noted that many evangelicals began to shift on divorce when the marriages of the sons and daughters of pastors and “rock-ribbed” local church members such as deacons started crumbling. While conservative Christians generally reject comparisons between the church’s response to divorce and to sexual orientation, Leonard argues the comparison is apt.

“The churches love those individuals and because they know them, those churches may look for another way,” Leonard said.

Alas, no doubt Leonard is right; no doubt that’s exactly how divorce became socially acceptable within evangelicalism.

Which is a damn shame, because now we have the worldly culture of frivolous divorce within evangelical churches.

Some evangelical leaders seem to recognize the need for a new approach. The head of the Southern Baptist public policy arm, the Rev. Russell Moore, addressed the issue on his blog and at the marriage conference last month, telling Christian parents they shouldn’t shun their gay children.

Yeah, but as usual, Moore went about it all wrong.

Mohler has said he expects some evangelical churches to eventually recognize same-sex relationships, but not in significant numbers.

A-ha! Preparing to capitulate, are we, Dr. Mohler?

Linda Robertson said the mothers who contact her through her Facebook page usually aren’t ready to fully accept their gay sons or daughters. Some parents she meets still believe their children can change their sexual orientation. But she said most who reach out to her are moving away from the traditional evangelical view of how parents should respond when their children come out.

“I got a lot of emails from parents who said, ‘I don’t know one other parent of a gay child. I feel like in my community, I don’t have permission to love my child,'” she said. “They have a lot of questions. But then they’re going back to their churches and speaking to their pastors, speaking to their elders and speaking to their friends, saying, ‘We have a gay child. We love them and we don’t want to kick them out. How do we go forward?'”

You tell them the eternal consequences of defying God and living as unrepentant fornicators and abusers of themselves with mankind, and you don’t try to sugar-coat it; nor do you try to get the church to change its Biblical stance.

 

Josh McDowell and Son: Christian Parents Can Help Children Develop Their Own Convictions on Faith by Not Answering Questions

Ugh.

CHARLOTTE – For Christian parents to pass on their faith to their children, they should not answer their children’s questions but respond with more questions to help their kids think through the issues themselves rather than rely upon their parents, famed Christian apologist Josh McDowell and his son, Sean McDowell, explained recently at the Southern Evangelical Seminary’s 21st Annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In raising his four children, Josh McDowell explained that he tried to never answer their questions but to respond to them with another question because he wanted them to develop their own convictions rather than simply become Christians because their parents are Christian.

“I needed to teach my kids to think,” he said, “to think logically, to come to their conclusions. Because if there is always dad’s answer, then they couldn’t develop convictions.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

There isn’t supposed to be a ‘dad’s answer’ and a ‘son’s answer’ on points of doctrine; there should be a shared answer, what together, the community of which you’re both a part understands is the answer on something.

This is why traditions as varied as Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Reformed, have all made use of catechisms and confessions to teach both old and young, within their flocks. That is why the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 could not understand what he was reading in Isaiah without someone to guide him.

Individual interpretation can lead one astray; after all, “the heart is deceitful above all things.”

If your son asks for bread, should you give him a stone?

Of course not.

So, instead of throwing back a question at him, you say, “This is what we, collectively,  as (fill-in-the-blank) understand this passage to mean; here are some cross-references that support this interpretation; here’s what our tradition says this means.”

Of course, if you’re the head of your own ministry, like Josh McDowell, I suppose you can’t very well point to a tradition older than yourself. In which case, shoot, why not just say, “Because I said so, and I’m the boss around here!”, because that’s all you have to stand on. Which is not much.

I suppose I’ll give Josh McDowell this much: at least he did a better job of raising his son than Tony Campolo or Francis Schaeffer did, since the son is still relatively orthodox – for now, at least…

Yet he’s still leading others astray with his bad advice, which is unconscionable.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”, we are instructed.

Likewise, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

 

Musical Interlude: “Revelation (Death’s Angel)”, by Manowar

It’s been far too long since I did a musical interlude, doncha think? (Not counting this recent repost.)

Thanks to infowarrior1 for introducing me to this epic ’80s metal track.

 
Above the wreckage of your mortal world I stand
Judgement passed delivered by his hand
Now clear the smoke, there the ashes stand
A fitting tribute to mortality and man.
What was written foretold in dreams,
In visions apocalypse now seen.
And all self-righteous fools who lived and blasphemed
Drink the wine of his anger
Die with the beast
 
Vindication, he is coming on the clouds
See his angels, hear their trumpets sound.
The day of anger when the stars fall from the sky
The moon turns red, the sun turns black as night.
 
Know the end is coming, heed this sign
By the morning star the four horsemen ride.
 
Revelation, the chosen saved
Earth be cleansed in a blaze
Armageddon, the first trumpet blows
Hail, fire and blood fall on Satan’s throne.
 
His hair as white as wool, his eyes like burning flame
He is the first and last, he brings the seven plagues
Seven stars of seven cities in his hand
He holds the keys of death for the underworld and man
 
Know the end is coming, heed this sign
By the morning star the four horsemen ride
 
Revelation, the chosen saved
Earth be cleansed in a blaze
Armageddon, the first trumpet blows
Hail, fire and blood fall on Satan’s throne.
 
Revelation, the chosen saved
Earth be cleansed in a blaze
Armageddon, the first trumpet blows
Hail, fire and blood fall on Satan’s throne.

 

Indiana Trooper Sued for Sharing Gospel During Traffic Stop

And rightly so, in my opinion.

UNION COUNTY, Indiana – A police officer in Indiana has been leveled with a lawsuit for sharing the gospel with a driver during a traffic stop.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is representing complainant Ellen Bogan, 60, who claims that Indiana State Police trooper Brian Hamilton violated her constitutional rights by asking her about her religious beliefs after he pulled her over for an alleged traffic violation.

According to reports, the incident occurred in August in Union County, Indiana. Hamilton gave her a warning about making an illegal pass—and then asked her if she went to church anywhere. He also reportedly asked her if she had accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior.

“I’m not affiliated with any church. I don’t go to church,” Bogan told the Indianapolis Star. “I felt compelled to say I did, just because I had a state trooper standing at the passenger-side window. It was just weird.”

The trooper then asked Bogan if he could give her a tract, and he went to his vehicle to retrieve it for her.

“The whole time, his lights were on,” she said. “I had no reason to believe I could just pull away at that point, even though I had my warning.”

Bogan later contacted the Indiana State Police to lodge a complaint and request an investigation. She also enlisted the assistance of the ACLU to file a lawsuit claiming that Hamilton violated her First and Fourth Amendment rights by speaking to her about matters of faith and handing her a tract that asks the recipient to “realize you’re a sinner” and “realize the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins.”

It’s one thing for ordinary Christians to have the freedom to be able to share the Gospel with colleagues in day-to-day conversation.

It’s another for police to take advantage of their ability to stop people from their regular movements, and accost them with proselytization while they have a captive audience.

A balance needs to be struck in society, in terms of finding the right place within the public square for sharing the faith.

There is a time and place for everything, as Scripture acknowledges.

Agents of a state committed to religious neutrality in a country with freedom of religion should not be taking advantage of their powers to proselytize ordinary citizens who aren’t their colleagues, while on the job, especially under such circumstances as this.

I wouldn’t want a cop to pull me over, and proselytize Islam, or Judaism, or atheism; I can therefore sympathize with this atheist woman.

The corollary of the Golden Rule is that you don’t do unto others what you wouldn’t have them do unto you.

Therefore this cop was wrong, and should accordingly be punished.

 
49 Comments

Posted by on October 10, 2014 in America, law, religion, spirituality, Theology

 

Trinity Western grad ‘attacked’ for being Christian in job rejection

Originally posted on Will S.' Culture War Blog:

Figures.

A Trinity Western University graduate says she was “attacked” over her religion by a Norwegian wilderness tourism company, just for applying for a job.

Bethany Paquette claims her application to work in Canada’s North for Amaruk Wilderness Corp. was rejected because she’s Christian.

“It did really hurt me and I did feel really attacked on the basis that I’m a Christian,” Paquette said.

In her complaint to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, Paquette outlines a series of emails from executives from Amaruk Wilderness Corp.

Paquette, an experienced river rafting guide, applied to be a wilderness guide for Amaruk’s Canadian operations in the North.

She says she was shocked when she read the rejection email from Olaf Amundsen, the company’s hiring manager.

He wrote that she wasn’t qualified and “unlike Trinity Western University, we embrace diversity, and the right of people to sleep with or marry whoever they want.”

Trinity Western is the…

View original 340 more words

 

Lost in Transition – With His Latest Research on Emerging Adults, Sociologist Christian Smith Helps the Church Reach Out to a Rootless Generation

Will S.:

Ties in with Free Northerner’s excellent recent post on adolescence, here.

Hint: if you see a ‘You have reached the end of this Article Preview’ notice after the first few paragraphs: highlight some of the text and Google it, then when you see the same CT story at or near the top of the search results, click on it; you should be able to read the entire thing, coming from Google (it worked for me, anyway).

Originally posted on Literate Comments:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/october/21.34.html

What are the traits of religious American teenagers who retain a high faith commitment as emerging adults?

The most important factor is parents. For better or worse, parents are tremendously important in shaping their children’s faith trajectories. That’s the story that came out in Soul Searching. It’s also the story that comes out here.

Another factor is youth having established devotional lives—that is, praying, reading Scripture—during the teenage years. Those who do so as teenagers are much more likely than those who don’t to continue doing so into emerging adulthood. In some cases, having other adults in a congregation who you have relationships with, and who are supportive and provide modeling, also matters.

Some readers are going to be disappointed that going on mission trips doesn’t appear to amount to a hill of beans, at least for emerging adults as a whole. For some it’s important, but not for…

View original 25 more words

 

Rooting Out Bad Religion – Why Ross Douthat Wants to See America Return to its Confessional Roots

Will S.:

Interesting Q&A with Ross Douthat at Christianity Today, worth reading.

Hint: if you see a ‘You have reached the end of this Article Preview’ notice after the first few paragraphs: highlight some of the text and Google it, then when you see the same CT story at or near the top of the search results, click on it; you should be able to read the entire thing, coming from Google (it worked for me, anyway).

Originally posted on Literate Comments:

View original

 
 
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