May 2009


nancy pearceyNancy Pearcey explained in her book, Total Truth, that every worldview consists of three basic elements: creation, fall, redemption.  Every worldview starts with an account of beginnings (where everything comes from, and how everything is supposed to be), which in turn shapes its concept of the fall (what’s wrong with man and his world) and redemption (how to fix man and his world).  Because the fall and redemption logically follow the creation story whoever has the authority to shape a culture’s creation story is de facto the “priesthood” of the culture, “possessing the power to determine what the dominant worldview will be.”  This is important for two reasons.

First, the creation story of our modern, secular society is Darwinian evolution.  According to evolution, there is no design or purpose to the universe.  There is no right and wrong.  Morality is whatever helps someone pass on their genes to the next generation.  The problem with man is not moral, but biological and environmental.  Man is competing against everyone else for survival.  In such a worldview the Gospel becomes absolutely irrelevant.

The only way the Gospel will be effective in modern culture is if we replace the Darwinian creation myth with the Christian creation story.  Indeed, the Christian message does not begin with Christ, but with creation.  Rather than starting our message with man’s sinfulness, we need to start our message with man’s dignity rooted in creation.  Beginning with sin instead of creation is like trying to figure out a book by starting in the middle—you won’t know the characters and plot.  Even redemption ceases to make sense because the purpose of redemption is to restore us back to our original created state.

When Paul talked with the Jews he started with Christ because they already understood creation and the fall.  When he addressed the Greeks (Acts 17), however, he started with creation: God made the world and everything in it (you’ll have to remember that the Greeks believed the universe was eternal, not created by God).  He pointed out that if God made us, He must have some qualities like us.  He can’t be stone.  A non-personal being could not have created beings like us.  Only after establishing the Creator did Paul move on to sin and redemption.  In a culture that is fast becoming Biblically illiterate our approach must be similar to Paul’s approach to the Greeks: we start with creation.  Only in that context does the fall and redemption make sense.

house_of_cards3Michael Medved makes a compelling argument that the existing “religious protections” being written into same-sex marriage laws – that provide legal protection for religious groups who object to same-sex marriage – are a house of cards just waiting to be toppled: 

The drive for same sex marriage stalled in New Hampshire over insistence by Governor John Lynch that the legislation must include strong protections for religious institutions and individuals who oppose such unions. This tactic – now adopted by gay marriage advocates across the country – may provide office holders with political cover but will offer very little legal security for defenders of traditional marriage. Legislative “conscience” provisions won’t survive lawsuits by agitators or judgments by activist jurists. If gay marriage is a fundamental human and constitutional “right,” then how could faith-based groups or religious individuals legally discriminate against the exercise of that right? If a florist declines to provide services to a same sex wedding, or a religious club refuses to rent its facility for a gay nuptial, there will be immediate and aggressive legal action to guarantee “equal protection of the laws.” If laws (like the provisions endorsed by Governor Lynch) authorize discrimination against same sex couples, it’s easy to envision judicial decisions invalidating them as unconstitutional. It’s now a well-established point of law that theological doctrine can’t protect institutions or individuals if they discriminate on the basis of race. … If gay identity is equivalent to racial identity (a key contention of the gay marriage movement), logic requires that unequal treatment based on sexual orientation should receive no more sanction than unequal treatment based on race.

I think Medved is right.  Including such religious protections is just a way of pacifying religious conservatives.  Once same-sex marriage has been entrenched in the law, however, any opposition to it will be litigated against.  Indeed, this is the pattern of the pro-homosexual lobby.  In the beginning, they lobbied for civil unions.  Then they lobbied for civil unions to have the same rights and obligations as marriage.  But they were not content with that.  In addition to having all the same rights as married couples, they wanted their relationship to be designated by an equal name: marriage.  They said that anything less than full equality in every respect is discrimination.  And the courts have bought it every step of the way.  So why wouldn’t they also buy the argument that allowing religious groups to decline participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies is an example of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, comparable to discriminating on the basis of race?  They can, and mark my words…they will.  “How will same-sex marriage affect you?” people say.  It will eventually prevent us from opposing it in deed, and possibly speech.  That’s how.

driscollMark Driscoll, of Mars Hill Church in Seattle Washington, wrote an article for Fox News responding to a recent Newsweek article reporting on the decline of self-identified Christians in America.  According to Driscoll, we must distinguish between Christendom and Christianity.  Christendom is the visible, cultural expression of Christianity in the world, while Christianity consists of those who have had a transforming experience with Jesus and are living out their faith in their daily lives.  Within Christendom there are many whose lives are not noticeably different from their non-Christian counterparts.  They are professing Christians rather than practicing Christians.  Driscoll contends that while Christendom is no doubt diminishing in the United States, it is not because the actual number of practicing Christians is diminishing, but because larger numbers of professing Christians are simply dropping the “in-name-only” label they have identified with in the past.  Why?  Because there is no longer the same social benefits that once accompanied church membership, and there is much less stigma today than in the past for abandoning Christianity.  I would encourage you to read his piece.  It’s a good thesis, and a good read.

 

HT: Justin Taylor

prop8Yesterday, in a 6-1 decision, the California Supreme Court upheld the voter initiative to amend the California Constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman only.  This is the same court that forced same-sex marriage on California last year, when they overturned a 2000 law defining marriage as between a man and woman only, as being unconstitutional.  Now that the voters amended the Constitution to define marriage in such a fashion, what could they do?  It’s difficult to say the Constitution is unconstitutional!

dichotomyChristian apologetics is an intellectual discipline that offers a rational justification for Christianity.  One would think Christians would heartily embrace a discipline whose aim is to show the intellectual viability and superiority of the Christian worldview.  Ironically, Christian apologists often face opposition from both unbelievers and believers alike.

Many Christians think apologetics is either unnecessary, or detrimental to faith.  The latter understand faith to be commitment of the will in the absence of reason, rather than trust based on good reasons.  Having reasons to believe, then, leaves no room for faith.  This understanding of faith has no basis in Scripture.  Indeed, God, Jesus, and the apostles all provided reasons for others to take their claims seriously.  And they did so for good reason: beliefs are caused by reasons.  If they weren’t, we would be unable to control what we believe.  Beliefs would just pop in and out of our minds inexplicably.  A Christian could be in church worshipping Jesus, when suddenly, for no reason at all he stops believing in Jesus and starts believing in Buddha.  A man could be walking his dog when suddenly, for no reason at all, he begins to believe he is walking a cat.  No, such is not possible because beliefs are caused by reasons.  Beliefs are something that happen to us given sufficient epistemic conditions.  We cannot just will to believe something.  To demonstrate, stop believing in God right now.  Don’t just think the thought, “I don’t believe in God,” but make yourself believe that God really doesn’t exist.  You can’t do it, because genuine belief requires reasons, and you have good reasons to believe God exists, and no good reasons to think He doesn’t.

Those who think apologetics is unnecessary often claim the Spirit’s work is all we need for conversion.  While it’s true that the Spirit’s work in our hearts is necessary for conversion, it is not sufficient.  Indeed, if the work of the Spirit was sufficient in itself for conversion, then why do we need to present the Gospel to them?  It’s because faith is contingent on knowledge.  A person cannot believe in Jesus if they do not know about Jesus.  God’s Spirit works together with our presentation of the Gospel to bring about conversion.  Now here’s the rub.  If faith requires knowledge, and apologetics delivers knowledge, why oppose the use of apologetics in evangelism?  Apologetics serve to help remove intellectual barriers to the faith, so that one can submit to the working of the Spirit in their hearts.  As such, it is vitally important to evangelism, and should be embraced by Christians.

Indeed, Peter himself thought so.  He told us to “be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet 3:15).  Paul understood evangelism to consist of both the “defense and verification of the Gospel” (Phil 1:7), and instructed us to “make the most of every opportunity,” knowing how we “should answer everyone” (Col 4:5-6).  Apologetics is not just a nice add-on to Christianity, but a Bible-based discipline integral to our evangelistic efforts.

davidRavi Zacharias tells the story of a trial in which a lawyer was defending a pornographer of the basest sorts.  The lawyer asked the plaintiff, “Have you ever gone into an art gallery?”  The plaintiff responded, “Yes.”  The lawyer continued, “Have you paid to go into that art gallery?”  Again the plaintiff responded, “Yes.”  “Were there paintings of naked people in that art gallery?”, the lawyer asked.  “Yes,” the plaintiff responded.  “So why do you call that art, but Playboy pornography?”  The plaintiff did not have a response.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a piece of art featuring nude figures, and pornography?  Is there a difference?

In A Pilgrim’s Regress, C.S. Lewis wrote about a man who ordered milk and eggs from a waiter in a restaurant.  After tasting the milk he commented to the waiter that it was delicious.  The waiter replied, “Milk is only the secretion of a cow, just like urine and feces.”  After eating the eggs he commented on the tastiness of the eggs.  Again the waiter responded that eggs are only a by-product of a chicken.  After thinking about the waiter’s comment for a moment the man responded, “You lie.  You don’t know the difference between what nature has meant for nourishment, and what it meant for garbage.”

Ravi Zacharias notes that while both art and pornography utilize nude figures, the purpose/motives for portraying the naked body are definitively distinct.  Pornography utilizes nude figures for the pure purpose of stimulating the baser instincts of individuals; instincts that will not be satisfied by that alone.  Art, on the other hand, utilizes nude figures for the purpose of highlighting the beauty of man.  While pornography engenders lust, art engenders admiration for the glory and beauty of the human body, and thus the glory of its Maker.

Rational BeliefIn the February 2005 issue of Stand to Reason’s bimonthly newsletter, Greg Koukl shared some sound advice concerning the way we talk about our Christian faith to non-believers.  I think you will find his advice valuable.  He wrote:

If I said “Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States,” people would know I was talking about historical facts.  By contrast, if I said, “I believe in the resurrection of Jesus,” most people would not think I was talking about historical facts, but personal faith: my sentiments, my feelings, my preferences.

From their perspective, words like “faith” and “belief” don’t describe the world, they describe me.  Statements about Jesus may reflect personal “truths” (i.e. “true for me”).  But they’re not true; they are not facts.  They are merely “beliefs”-well-intentioned falsehoods, useful fictions, convenient illusions.  That’s not what we say.  It’s what they hear.

Let me suggest a simple adjustment.  Since there is often a difference between what we say and what they hear, don’t give others the chance to misunderstand.  Instead of using emotive “faith” language, use the language of truth.  Don’t talk about your beliefs, talk about your convictions, about what you’ve been convinced of.  Don’t talk about faith, talk about truth.  Don’t talk about values, talk about what you understand the moral facts to be.

I’ve actually encouraged Christians to ban words like “faith” and “belief” from their vocabulary.  These words no longer communicate what we intend them to.  It’s not that faith isn’t valuable.  It’s vital.  But faith is often misunderstood as a “leap,” a blind, desperate lunge into the darkness.  It sounds too much like religious wishful thinking. … When he [an Christian ambassador] talks about Jesus, he is careful to communicate that he is talking about facts, not just the kind of religious wishful thinking the words “faith” and “belief” frequently conjure up.

I couldn’t agree more.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has found that the following one-liner is the most effective way of communicating support for traditional marriage: “Gays and Lesbians have a right to live as they choose, [but] they don’t have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.”  I like it.  It communicates two important things:

  1. Opposition to recognizing same-sex marriage is not tantamount to opposition against homosexual behavior itself.  Many advocates of traditional marriage are content to let gays and lesbians engage in homosex in the privacy of their own homes (tolerant), but do not consent to letting gays and lesbians redefine the historic understanding of marriage in order to ascertain a sense of social respectability.
  2. Same-sex marriage advocates are forcing their views on the majority through political lobbying and the courts, which is both unfair and undemocratic.

One minor improvement to this statement would be to preface it with “I believe in tolerance, so I think….”  Using the actual word “tolerance” will help us communicate to an audience who thinks of tolerance as one of the prime virtues.

NOM highly suggests that we avoid speaking of “banning same-sex marriage” because it is unnecessary, and this language has a negative connotation.  Indeed, there is no need to ban same-sex marriage so long as the traditional definition is left intact.  Instead, we should speak of being opposed to “redefining marriage” or supportive of “marriage as the union of husband and wife.”

bridesIn a previous post I said the New Hampshire legislature had passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and it was just waiting for the governor’s uncertain signature to be signed into law.  As it turns out, the CNN article from which I obtained my information was misleading.  The bill had not passed both houses.  It had only passed the NH House (March 26).  The Senate had not yet approved it.  They just did so yesterday, 14-10 (May 20).  Apparently, however, they changed some of the provisions in the bill, necessitating a new vote in the House.  Within hours, the House voted to reject the bill (188-186), so it is not yet on its way to the governor. 

This may sound like good news, but it’s not.  The reason the House rejected the Senate version of the bill is disconcerting.  The governor stated he would not sign the bill unless there was a strong provision protecting the rights of religious groups to decline participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies.  The Senate added such a provision, and that is why it was rejected by the House!  Pro-same-sex marriage Democrats jointed Republicans in opposing the bill because of this provision.  In doing so, they have made it clear to anyone who is listening that they do not want to allow religious people the right to decline to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.  They want to force religious institutions to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies under the threat of law, in violation of their religious beliefs! 

This is a clear violation of our first amendment rights.  Those of us who have been arguing against same-sex marriage have been saying all along that one of the effects of such legislation would be an infringement on religious liberty.  Many thought our argument was unfounded alarmism.  And yet here we are, already seeing elected leaders expressing their intent to deny religious believers the right to decline participation in same-sex marriage ceremonies.  We weren’t just crying wolf.  We saw the wolf making his way to the chicken coup.  And how he is here. 

These people, who promote same-sex marriage in the name of tolerance, don’t know how to exercise tolerance themselves.  Not only do they want to force same-sex marriage on an unsupportive populace, but they also want to force religious institutions to participate in ceremonies that are prohibited by their religious beliefs.  While most opponents of same-sex marriage are highly tolerant of the right of homosexuals to live as they choose in the privacy of their own home, homosexual advocates rarely exercise such tolerance in return.  Their desire and goal is to suppress all opposition – the first amendment and democratic process be damned.

 

HT: Stand to Reason

Update: In the opening paragraph there is an error.  Indeed, the Senate had approved the bill with a religious liberties amendment on 4/29.  Because they amended the House version, it had to go back to the House for re-approval.  The House passed it on 5/6 and sent it to the governor.  The governor, however, sent it back saying he would not sign it unless the religious liberties amendment was strengthened.  The Senate did so on 5/20, but the House would not approve the additional language.  See the comments section of this post for more information.

silencedsilencedsilencedIt is becoming more and more common to hear people say “faith is a private matter, and should be kept to oneself.”  This sort of statement usually comes from those who are opposed to religion in general, but as the roots of pluralism grow deeper in our society, we are finding more and more religious individuals touting similar sentiments.  This got me thinking, is faith a private matter?  Is it even possible to keep it to oneself without destroying the religion itself?

If faith was private, and we kept it to ourselves, how would one know if there were any others out there who shared their same beliefs if they dare not speak of those beliefs to others?  How would a religion and/or a religious movement ever come into being, and how would it grow?  Furthermore, how could faith be transmitted from one generation to another?

It seems that if we kept our faith to ourselves it would be impossible to know if any others shared those same beliefs, and thus religious organizations would never form.  If faith were kept private, that faith would die with the individual who holds it.  It could never be transmitted from one generation to the next.  We would expect, then, for religious faith and religious movements to only last for one generation.  In fact, if religion worked the way these pluralists indicate it should work, we would never know if anyone else besides ourselves had any religious views at all, there would be no religious organizations, and we would not be able to share our faith with even our own children.  After all, faith is a private matter and should be kept private.

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Thought for the day: Religion is not decreasing in our society.  It’s merely moving from the public sphere to the private sphere.  There has been a shift in the Western world from viewing religion as knowledge (reality) to viewing religion as faith (personal fiction). Our job as Christians, then, is to cut this public-private divide, recovering Christianity from its cultural captivity to the private sphere of “values,” and recovering Christianity’s rich intellectual heritage.

O-031-0437When most people hear “argue” or “argument,” they think of what’s pictured to the left.  I’m not referring to that.  I’m referring to logical discourse.

Argumentation has fallen on hard times in our postmodern age.  Arguments have been replaced by assertions, rhetoric, and sound-bites.  The reasons for this are many: the idea that there are no absolute truths to argue for, a false notion of tolerance, and a pragmatic approach to life to name a few.  We have become more concerned about the utility of an idea than its truthfulness, and our subjective feelings than objective truth.  What I find both interesting and disheartening is that even conservative Christians have disengaged from the art of argumentation.

For many there is an aversion to the very word “argument” because in their mind it connotes fighting.  But there is a difference between being argumentative (a psychological and behavioral disposition), and presenting an argument.  An argument is simply a series of reasons given in support of, or in opposition to some proposition(s).  In this sense the process of argumentation is vital to the epistemological veracity of Christianity.

The process of argumentation and debate aids us in our journey toward more truth.  Argumentation forces us to think of things we might not have thought about before, and only by doing so do we have a chance to grow in knowledge and wisdom.  In his book The Revolt of the Elites Christopher Lasch wrote that it is only in the course of argument that “we come to understand what we know and what we still need to learn,…we come to know our own minds only by explaining ourselves to others.”  The process of argumentation puts our own ideas at risk.  In the words of John Leo, arguments “can rescue us from our own half-formed opinions.”  The opinions that survive the argumentation process demonstrate to both us and our opponents the strength or lack thereof of our ideas.

Arguing with those who hold positions contrary to our own is an act of love because its aim is to rescue people from bad ideas, and bad ideas have bad consequences.  So contrary to those who oppose argumentation because it is unloving, nothing could be more loving.  We actually fail to act in love if we allow someone to hold false beliefs.

experienceI’m sure all of you have heard someone claim that experience, not reason is the best guide for truth.  The best way to expose the fallacy of this sort of thinking is by responding, “That hasn’t been my experience.”  For those who claim feeling, not reason is the best guide for truth, respond by saying, “I don’t get the feeling that that’s true.”

The fact of the matter is that feeling and experience are not sufficient grounds for belief.  Everybody claims to have an experience.  Buddhists have an experience; Jehovah’s Witnesses have an experience; Mormon’s have an experience.  Whose experience is valid?  Who is interpreting their experience correctly?  What do you do when you have competing experiences?  What can serve as an arbiter?  It can’t be another experience, lest we find ourselves arguing in a circle.  We must appeal to something else that is public and objective rather than private and subjective.  That something is reason.  What reasons do we have to believe that the person’s belief-system is correct?  If no appeal to public evidence is provided, no meaningful discussion can transpire.

When we argue for truth based only on our experience, we cut off our own ability to persuade others of our view.  While our experience may be enough to convince us that what we believe is true, the non-believer cannot get at and evaluate our experience, and thus has no way of knowing whether our claims are true or not.  Arguing from experience, then, is a liability in that it prohibits you from being able to persuade anyone else that you are right.  This does not mean experience plays no role, for it does.  It can serve to support and confirm the rational case for our position; it simply cannot constitute the very grounds of our position.

Everyone knows that homosexuality is biologically determined.  The only problem is that to-date, there is no evidence demonstrating any biological link to same-sex attraction.  Several attempts have been made, but none have succeeded, despite the media hype suggesting otherwise.  For example, Simon LeVay’s study on the hypothalamus is often touted as proving that same-sex attraction is caused by the brain, and yet LeVay himself said of his study, “It’s important to stress what I didn’t find.  I did not prove that homosexuality was genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay.  I didn’t show that gay men were born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work.  Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.”

LeVay is not alone.  Those who work in this field know that no biological link has been found, and yet some choose to allow the myth to continue, because as LeVay himself noted, “People who think that gays and lesbians are born that way are also more likely to support gay rights.”  For example, consider American Psychological Association member, Lisa Diamond.  Recently she wrote a book about sexuality in which she made the following, stunning admission:

Some activists feel that the climate is not yet right for such a shift in our thinking about sexual freedom.  Given the recent resurgence of conservative antigay activism (much of it focused on banning same-sex marriage), it may well be that for now, the safest way to advocate for lesbian/gay/bisexual rights is to keep propagating a deterministic model: sexual minorities are born that way and can never be otherwise.  If this is an easier route to acceptance (which may in fact be the case), is it really so bad that it is inaccurate?[1]

In other words, so long as the myth achieves the normalization of homosexuality, those who are in the know need not concern themselves with correcting the public’s misunderstanding.  The end justifies the means.  Such is the nature of advocacy.

But what if a biological link was discovered tomorrow?  What follows from this, morally speaking?  Nothing.  Genetics cannot tell us anything about what is moral.  Genetics are descriptive, describing the way things are.  Morality, however, is prescriptive, prescribing the way things ought to be.

Just because one has a natural disposition toward some desire and/or to engage in some behavior does not mean that desire/behavior is moral.  We can desire many things that are immoral.  The cause of the desire—whether biological or otherwise—cannot change the moral nature of the act itself.  What if a biological link was found for incestual desires?  Would that make incest morally acceptable?  What if a biological link was discovered for pedophilia?  Would that make pedophilia morally acceptable?  Would we have to consider such desires and behavior “normal?”  Of course not!  The same is true of homosexuality.  If a biological link is discovered, it may help us to better understand the origin of same-sex attraction, but it can do nothing to better our understanding of sexual morality.

Humans regularly desire that which is immoral.  A large part of moral and ethical behavior is the suppression of desires that come naturally.  This applies no less to the person struggling with same-sex desires than it does to the person struggling with opposite-sex desires for someone other than his/her spouse.


[1]Lisa M. Diamond, Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 256-7.

The other day I was thinking about backsliders.  I asked myself, Why is it that people leave God as often as they do?  Most times it is simply because they want to live an immoral lifestyle.  They know the truth, but don’t want to live that truth.  Sometimes, however, it is because they never had a strong intellectual commitment to Christianity as truth.  They were Christians because of their experience, or because Jesus was meeting their needs.  When people are Christians for these reasons, typically they do not remain Christians for long.  When their experience fades, and when Jesus doesn’t meet some felt need they begin to doubt the Christian religion, or their particular denomination’s version of the Christian religion.

This underscores why Jesus said we are to make disciples of all nations.  The life of the mind is of the utmost importance in the Christian religion.  If people are not persuaded that Christianity is true their faith will never be firmly established in Christ.  But when our minds are renewed according to the truth of God it will be impossible to reject the truth of Christianity.  We may choose to ignore the truth so we can follow after our own sinful desires, but we will not be able to walk away from the truth as the truth.

prolife6A recent Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life (51%) rather than pro-choice (42%).  This is a near reversal of public opinion just one year ago, in which 50% of Americans self-identified as pro-choice and 44% as pro-life.  This is the first time since 1995 (when Gallup first began asking this question) that pro-life has been the majority view.  It is also the first time that the majority of women identify as pro-life (49% vs. 44%).  Currently, 54% of men consider themselves pro-life, versus 39% pro-choice.

A full 60% of Americans adults believe abortion should be illegal in all, or most circumstances.  The percentage of people who believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances has increased from 17% in 2008, to 23% in 2009.

When viewed by political affiliation, the shift toward the pro-life viewpoint has occurred almost entirely among Republicans.  A full 10% more Republicans consider themselves pro-life today, than they did last year.  Among Democrats, however, there has been virtually no change.  I hope the Republican Party takes notice of this poll, since it has been slowly moving away from its pro-life platform.  They are moving in a direction that is opposite of the movement of their base.  Republicans are in enough trouble as it is.  They cannot leave behind their pro-life platform and expect to win future elections.

US-POLITICS-GAY MARRIAGEThis one completely escaped my attention.  Last week (5/6/09) Maine and New Hampshire’s legislative bodies approved bills legalizing same sex marriage.  Maine’s governor, John Baldacci, immediately signed the bill into law, making Maine the fifth state to legalize same sex marriage (the second to do so democratically).  If New Hampshire’s governor signs the legislation, New Hampshire will become the sixth. 

New England has quickly become the same-sex marriage capital of the United States.  As much as it pains me to say it, given the trends in public opinion toward the support of same-sex marriage, and given the recent spate of victories for this cause, I have little hope that we will be able to stem the tide.  Other states will follow the trend either legislatively or judicially.  We are losing the culture war on this issue, and we can only blame ourselves for not standing up and giving a principled defense for traditional marriage, and against same-sex marriage.  If we hope to hold the fort in the remaining states, we must present our case in the public square in a reasonable, charitable manner.

 

Update (5/21): While the CNN article I linked to above seemed to indicate that both houses of the New Hampshire legislature had passed the bill, such was not the case.  The Senate passed the bill (14-10) on 5/20, but the same bill failed to pass the House (188-186) just hours later.  So this bill is not awaiting a signature from New Hampshire governor, John Lynch…yet.  The NH Senate and House are working on revising the bill so that it will be acceptable to the House.  A revised bill could pass, and then be sent to the governor.  So long as the bill contains protections for religious groups opposing same-sex marriage, Governor Lynch has indicated he will sign it.

It is popularly believed that faith is antithetical to evidence and reason; that reason is opposed to, and evidence leaves no room for faith.  Faith is understood as a commitment of the will in the absence of reason/evidence.  Interestingly they are under the impression that this view is supported by Scripture.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The Biblical notion of faith involves placing trust in what we have reason to believe is true.  We are not commanded to believe in spite of the evidence, or in the absence of evidence, but based on the evidence.  The task of apologetics is to demonstrate the rational credibility of the Christian religion.  Apologetics is both commanded in Scripture (Col 4:6; I Peter 3:15-16), exemplified by Paul, and even by the Almighty Himself.  Consider the following examples in which God plays the role of apologist:

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Are same-sex attractions biologically determined?  Most people are under the impression that they are.  Organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), have helped propagate the idea.  For example, in the 1998 version of their “Answers to Your Questions about Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality” brochure, they say “there is considerable recent evidence to suggest that biology, including genetic or inborn hormonal factors, play a significant role in a person’s sexuality.”  The truth, however, is that no biological link has been discovered to-date. 

In an unexpected turn of events, the APA has softened its language, replacing the above sentence with a more modest claim in an updated version of their brochure (now called “Answers to Your Questions for a Better Understanding of Sexual Orientation & Homosexuality”) (click here for the HTML version).  Now it reads:

There is no consensus among scientists about the exact reasons that an individual develops a heterosexual, bisexual, gay, or lesbian orientation. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors. Many think that nature and nurture both play complex roles; most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation.

While I think there is little reason to doubt that social influences are largely responsible for same-sex attraction, I appreciate their more honest assessment of the biological evidence.

 

HT: NARTH

When kids are young they will believe just about anything mom and dad tell them because mom and dad are the authority on knowledge.  When they go to school they sit under new authorities called “teachers.”  When teachers claim something is true contrary to what mom and dad said was true, the child faces a problem: who are they going to believe?

By this time in their life they no longer believe whatever they are told.  They have developed rational faculties and intuitively understand the underpinnings of logical inquiry.  Whereas they used to blindly accept the answers given them, now those answers will be questioned.  The fact that various authorities differ on issues of ultimate truth demonstrates to them that authority cannot be trusted as the sole arbiter of truth.  So when it comes down to believing mom/dad or the teacher, who are they going to believe?  Chances are that they will believe the teacher over against their parents.  There are two reasons for this.

First, most kids see their teachers as smarter than their parents.  They reason that chances are the teacher is right and the parent(s) is wrong since teachers know more than parents.  Secondly, parents often fail to give any reasons to believe what they told their children to believe, whereas the teacher is giving reasons to believe the contrary belief.  People believe what they have (better) reason to believe.  So let’s look at the score here.  Who’s smarter?: teacher.  Who supplies reasons to believe?: teacher.  The score is 2-0 in favor of the teacher, and then we wonder why children lose their faith in the school system.

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