Category Archives: Gender

Public Debate: Does the Bible restrict marriage to a man and a woman?

Dr James White and Graeme Codrington will engage in a public debate on the topic of “Does the Bible restrict marriage to a man and a woman?”
DATE: 17 August 2019
TIME: 6 – 8pm
VENUE: Fontainbleau Community Church, Randburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

There is NO COST to attend. The venue holds 750 people, on a first come first served basis. Doors open at 5:30pm.

The event will be livestreamed and recorded, and will be widely available for free afterwards.

Debate poster

Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin

I found an article on Patheos by Benjamin Corey that I think is important. While I believe that marriage is for every couple who love each other and wish to pledge before God to do so faithfully and monogamously, many Christians are still struggling to overcome a lifetime of cultural indoctrination against the LGBTQI community and gay marriage. As Christians, they need to be encouraged to do more than be judgemental towards gay people. Using their own conservative theology and world view, I believe we should appeal to them to adjust their attitude and actions towards gay people. This article is superb, as it presents five issues for conservatives to seriously consider. I hope they will.

Read it at Patheos, or a summary below:

Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin

Please consider that regardless of whether you’re able to fully accept this or not, there are gay Christians.

… Perhaps your theology on the issue might not ever change or evolve, but please know, these are real people you’re talking about. This isn’t just a “concept” or an inanimate object – these are real live Christian brothers and sisters that deserve every bit of love and empathy as anyone else. Maybe you haven’t counseled the teenager in your church who wants to kill themselves because they’re finally realizing that they’re gay and always have been. Maybe you haven’t had a friend weep in your presence over the fact that they realize they are gay, but also realize they did not choose to be – and that they’ll never be accepted by the tribe. Maybe you haven’t had a chance to serve in church for years on end next to someone who you never realized was in fact, gay the whole time and also unwavering in their love for Jesus and commitment to the church.

These things have happened to me, but I get that maybe you’ve never experienced them. So please, just consider that we are not talking about an “issue” here – we’re talking about real people. People created in the image and likeness of God. People with feelings, passions, hopes, and dreams. When we allow this to simply become an “issue” within modern Christian discourse, we end up dehumanizing the very real people we’re actually referencing.

Please become willing to reexamine what the Bible teaches on homosexuality.

Continue reading Some Things To Consider If You Think Being Gay Is a Sin

Part 17: Dealing with Objections: Where does the Bible affirm same sex marriage? The slavery response.

SUMMARY:
The Bible does not say anything on the subject of women’s rights, and actually appears to say they should not lead or preach in church. Yet, in many churches they do. The Bible supports slavery, and never says anything to oppose it. Yet, no Christian today would support slavery (many did in the past). We can learn something from these two important social shifts that took place in the last two centuries, and how Christians had to change the way they read the Bible. These are both good analogies for what has to happen with regard to gay marriage.

In this section of our study on the Bible and LGBTQI issues, we’re looking at common objections to gay marriage. Once people have (at least sort of) realised that their seven “bash them” Bible verses don’t quite say what they thought they said, they go to the next set of arguments. We are dealing with these common objections now. The biggest one is: “where does the Bible affirm gay marriage”?

In the previous part of this study I looked at why this question is actually very bad theology. It wants the Bible to do something that the Bible doesn’t do, and it asks the Bible to provide answers for questions the Bible itself doesn’t ask. In other words, it breaks the rules of Biblical interpretation to try and answer this question in the way it has been asked. 

It is, however, a good question. After all, if we could find one verse that affirmed gay marriage, or one positive example of a gay relationship in the Bible, then there would be no argument. I agree. But, of course, if we could do that we wouldn’t have had the issue in the first place, so that point is a bit moot. 

In this section of our study I want to show you an even better way to answer this objection. Your response comes in the form of three questions: 

Continue reading Part 17: Dealing with Objections: Where does the Bible affirm same sex marriage? The slavery response.

Part 16: Dealing with Objections: Where does the Bible affirm same sex marriage?

Summary

Some people believe that if you can’t find something specifically mentioned in the Bible then God hasn’t said anything about it. This is a bad way to interpret the Bible. The Bible is not a Constitution and can’t be used like a legal textbook. The Bible does not specifically affirm gay marriage. Nor does it say anything against it. It is silent on the issue, but this does not mean that God has nothing to say about gay marriage.

Show me in the Bible…

Once people realise that the verses they use to ‘bash’ homosexuals are not as clear as they thought they were, the next step in trying to use the Bible to show that God is against gay marriage is to ask for definitive proof from the Bible that God endorses gay marriage:

“Just show me one verse that says God affirms gay marriage and we wouldn’t have a debate at all, would we.”

The logic is apparently simple: if the Bible doesn’t explicitly say something, and appears to say the opposite, then it should be easy to see what the Bible actually means.

The problem is that this is an exceedingly weak argument which is based on a dangerously bad approach to Biblical interpretation, and ignores church history and theological development.

Let me give you a few examples to prove this:

Continue reading Part 16: Dealing with Objections: Where does the Bible affirm same sex marriage?

Christmas Eve Reflection: Seeing Mary’s Christmas

It might be because as the only male in my household I am surrounded by “women’s stuff” all day everyday and am privileged to be forced to see the world through a distinctly feminine (and deliberately feminist) lens, that on Christmas Eve each year, my thoughts often turn to Mary and what she must have been thinking and feeling at this time that very first Christmas so long ago.

She’d have been tired from a long, unnecessary journey, and a nine month pregnancy. She’d have been scared, just a teenager about to give birth for the first time surrounded by strangers. She’d have been concerned for her future, not yet in love with kind Joseph to whom she had been promised in marriage, and overwhelmed by all that had happened to her already in her short life.

On that night, she was an oppressed minority forcibly relocated to some ancestral town she knew nothing of by a dictatorial government who saw her and her kind as a problem. On that night, she was homeless. She would soon become a refugee, and witness to a massacre of children. And she would live to see her first born child killed savagely.

I don’t think Mary had “a silent, holy night” in mind.

And, yet, we know that she knew. This child that was to be born was no ordinary child. Her child would not live an ordinary life. He would change the world, and history, forever. That night, she knew – before anyone else did – that the Saviour was coming.

I have a love-hate relationship with Christmas. I have grown to love it more as I have witnessed it through the excitement of my own children. But I’m not convinced that the message of that first Christmas is being adequately embodied in our world today – especially to those people who are precisely like Mary: pregnant teenagers, scared women, brown-skinned poor people, refugees, those in countries that oppress their citizens or have been invaded by a hostile force, the homeless and those who wonder where their next meal will come from. What does it mean to them that the Saviour has come?

Mary’s story is as important as Jesus’ at Christmas. Christmas Eve is my moment to see the greatest story ever told through the eyes of Mary, the Mother of God.

Before you sign the Nashville Statement on Sexuality… just two small things

To all my dear Conservative, Evangelical Christian friends,

Before you sign the recently released Nashville Statement on Sexuality, please consider just two things.

Firstly, please consider that the very first sentence of this Statement is going to cause deep hurt and harm in your congregation: “God has created marriage to be a covenantal, sexual, procreative, lifelong union…”. I know you and I don’t agree – I am in favour of covenant, lifelong, monogamous, faithful same sex marriage, and you are not. But leave that disagreement aside for now. I am sure that we are both in agreement that (1) marriage is not a necessary institution (in other words, people can choose to marry or not and it does not impact their “God-image-bearing” nor their status in the church), and (2) procreation is not a necessary condition of marriage (in other words, people who can choose to have children or not can choose not to have children if they want to, without impacting on the value or fullness of their marriage nor their status in the church).

Continue reading Before you sign the Nashville Statement on Sexuality… just two small things

Thoughts on Eugene Peterson’s change of change of mind

On 6 July, Jonathan Merritt, a journalist at Religion News Service had a 33 minute telephone interview with Eugene Peterson, pastor, theologian and author of many best-selling books including a translation of the Bible, “The Message”. The interview was about a number of topics, including Peterson’s views on megachurches and Donald Trump, his ministry, why he is leaving public life and whether he is scare of death. The interview resulted in a three part series published at RNS (see here, here and here).

The final article of the series covered two questions that were asked at the end of the interview. In Merritt’s own words, here is what was said:

Continue reading Thoughts on Eugene Peterson’s change of change of mind

Only hypocrites would boycott Disney over a gay character in Beauty and the Beast

Disney’s latest real-actor remake of one of their classics has just been released in the USA, and early reviews are effusive in their praise of Beauty and the Beast. Except for a few die-hard conservative, evangelicals – the perennial party-poopers of the modern age. Led, of course, by the increasingly frothy-mouthed Franklin Graham, there has been a loud call for Christians to boycott the movie, and in fact Disney as a whole, because one of the characters in the movie is gay (or, maybe gay).

Conservative Christians have a long tradition of targeting Disney for its stance on LGBTI rights. When Disney pre-empted legislation on gay marriage by extending employee benefits to those in same sex relationships two decades ago, Christians staged a boycott of Disney. But Disney was unmoved, and eventually the pull of Mickey Mouse overcame Christian objections and they went back to Disneyland as they had before. Apparently their children’s need for entertainment overcame their principled objections. More on this theme later.

The concern this week is that in the new Beauty and the Beast movie, Disney made it more obvious than in the original 1991 version that Gaston’s sidekick LeFou may be, as we already suspected, gay. It’s not overt, it’s not sexual and it’s not a theme in the movie at all. In fact, in a 129 minute feature film, this issue takes up slightly less than 30 seconds. Yet, Franklin Graham has said:

They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out! Disney has the right to make their [movies], it’s a free country. But as Christians we also have the right not to support their company. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney.

Of course Disney have the right to make these movies. And, yes, Graham and his accolytes have the right to boycott it. But I also have the right to point out how hypocritical that is. Because that is precisely what it is. Embarrassingly so.

Continue reading Only hypocrites would boycott Disney over a gay character in Beauty and the Beast

I am a Christian

I often get invited to speak at churches, mission organisations and other Christian gatherings. People who know my stance on gay marriage sometimes protest against my involvement, writing me off as a heretic before they’ve even heard what I have to say and most often without taking the time to study my theology (easily available via videos and blogs). The worst detractors go on a smear campaign against me, claiming I am a “false prophet” and even worse things. They do this, of course, without ever attempting to contact me or engage with me.

So, just in case there’s any confusion or doubt, I want to be very clear: I am a Christian. In fact, I am a Bible-believing, evangelical Christian. I don’t really like that term these days, as the Christian right in America has co-opted “evangelical” as a label that now stands for a political and social view I don’t want to align to. But “evangelical” is technically applied to someone who believes that the Bible is God’s Word and the standard for our faith and practice, and that we should take Jesus and His words seriously and share Him with others. And I definitely believe that.

I am definitely a Christian.

You don’t have to take my word for it.

The Bible gives us only four ways by which we can truly judge someone’s salvation and devotion to Christ, and you’re welcome to use any and all of these to judge me. Just because we may differ on a few issues of interpretation does not give anyone the right to call my salvation or my commitment to Christ or my commitment to His Word into question. To do so, would be, quite ironically, totally non-Biblical.

Four Ways to Know If I Am a Christian

1. Romans 10:9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

I declare this, without reservation. I am saved.

2. 2 Timothy 3:14: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it…”

This verse leads into the famous 2 Tim. 3:16 which talks of Scripture being God’s Word and useful for us. It tells us that there is a received orthodoxy and tradition that we should stand in. It doesn’t say that our beliefs and understanding of God will not grow and develop over time – in fact, Jesus quite specifically told us that the role of the Holy Spirit is exactly the opposite: He will continue, over decades, generations and centuries to grow in our faith and knowledge of God.

But over the centuries of church history, the best and brightest of our spiritual elders have codified all the core beliefs of the Bible into Creeds. There are a variety that have stood the test of time, and each one has a richness and depth of meaning. My favourite is the Apostle’s Creed. I stand by every word of every line of this creed:

Continue reading I am a Christian