Saturday, May 26, 2012

Marriage The Key To A Great Society?

So, is marriage really the foundation upon which a society is built such that dramatically altering marriage will put that society in imminent danger? That is the argument put forth by a number of my good evangelical brothers and sisters concerning the issue of homosexual marriage. And while I agree with them that marriage between and man and woman was created and ordained, (i.e. He conferred a special and unique blessing on this relationship) by God I’m not so sure that He intended for marriage by itself to be the key foundation of human society. What does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Well, since we’re talking about marriage and its value to a good, well-ordered and strong society my thought is that we should examine all of the key aspects to such a society of which marriage is but one.

Those evangelicals who wish to strengthen our society by appealing to God’s creative norms cannot stop with our opposition to homosexual marriage. We cannot stop there because according to Scripture marriage is but one key to a good, well-ordered and strong society. I think part of our challenge as evangelicals is our reading of Genesis 2, or should I say our myopic focus on Genesis 2:18-25. If I didn’t know better I might actually think that Gen. 1 ended with ‘and there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day’ with Gen. 2 beginning with ‘Then the LORD God said “It is not good that the man should be alone”. But before we get to Adam’s marriage, Scripture introduces us to at least two and possibly four other key components crucial to Adam’s overall well-being and thus to the well-being of any society that consists of Adam’s offspring.

What are these components and what can the church do about them? To answer the last question first, let me say that the church can advocate for them in much the same way we advocate for marriage. Now it is true that marriage is different in that it is the only one of these components that has direct government intervention. Consequently, I must admit that this is where things get just a bit tricky. Most evangelicals agree on the biblical principles of marriage to the extent that advocating for it is pretty clear cut. This isn’t necessarily the case with the other key components I plan to discuss. For example, beginning with Gen. 2 I believe that meaningful, satisfying work that garners one more than enough to care for himself or herself and their family is also a key component to the kind of society in which we all wish to live. And lest we forget, Adam had such work before he had a wife. Or as I heard one preacher say, ‘romance without finance is a nuisance.’ So though it may take some doing, we evangelicals must also find a way to advocate for and encourage our society and those within it to seek, cultivate, create and sustain meaningful employment which can provide more than enough to live on for those who engage in such work.

Why in the world Lance would we want to take the trouble to do such a thing and what does it have to do with the cultural war against marriage? The main reason we should be just as mindful to advocate for the pillars of humanity revealed in Gen. 2 is that each of them in their own unique way say something significant about the God who created us, the Savior He sent to redeem us, the great salvation He has secured for us and our God’s view of humanity. You see, for us there is far, far more for us at stake in this than just the temporary fortunes of a temporary country as important as all that may be. What’s at stake is our witness which is the very reason we exist. The church of the Lord Jesus Christ in America does not exist to protect, preserve or promote America’s place among the rest of the countries of this world. Our calling has little or nothing to do with ensuring that America remains the richest, most militarily powerful country on this earth. No, our mission is to be a constant witness to all Americans of the greatness, grandeur, glory, majesty, supremacy, character, nature and actions of the living God as expressed fully in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s why we cannot stop our advocacy at the altar when a man and a woman turn to each other and say ‘I do’.

To Him Who Loves Us...
Pastor Lance 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Before We Demand That Apology

It’s been about two weeks and half since President Obama came out with his conviction regarding homosexual marriage and the firestorm continues. Most of the responses fell along predictable lines and there’s little doubt that the debate will continue right up through November’s presidential election. Of particular concern is the response and position of the ‘black’ church to the president. Will church going blacks stick with him even though they may disagree on so fundamental an issue, or will they in righteous defiance declare that the word of God is clear, it cannot be changed and thus Mr. President while we appreciate your historic accomplishment we just cannot in good conscience cast our vote for you a second time? It was already a long forgone conclusion that most white evangelicals were not going to vote for President Obama even if he had stated his unequivocal support for marriage between a man and women.

What’s of interest is how this may be the first time in a very long while that the traditional black bible believing church and the white evangelical church see a political issue eye to eye. How wonderful might it be to see these two groups who claim to believe in the same Lord, sing many of the same songs, hold to the same moral convictions finally walking arm in arm (metaphorically of course) to the polls to cast a vote for the moral values upon which America was founded. Except for one small problem.

In our rush to decry this latest attack on God, country, traditional family values and marriage we’ve forgotten that we were the first to twist the Scriptures and tribablize the living God to feed the lust of our idolatry. While we may vehemently disagree with President Obama’s stand on this issue and recoil at his (and others) use of Scripture to inform that stand, it is the bible-believing Christian church that just may have provided the foundational thinking that led to his conviction.

From its very beginning, the evangelical church in America twisted, misused and disregarded Scripture to suit our wants and pursue our own selfish agenda. For example, the incident between Noah and his grandson Canaan recorded in Genesis 9 was used to justify the perpetual enslavement of Africans for the benefit of those who enslaved them and others who profited from it. This was the case made by Prof. Robert L. Dabney D.D. in his publication A Defense of Virginia (and through Her of the South (1867). It is a weighty thing to look another human being in the eye, a man created in the image of God and for whom Christ shed His blood to redeem and tell him that the reason the enslaver can use his labor, have sex with his wife and sell his children is because God made him to be a slave. But that’s exactly what the church did when we told ourselves, those enslaved and the country that the American form of perpetual, ethnically based slavery was God’s express will and thus any argument or attempt to say otherwise or end the system was an act against the living God.

Had it ended with slavery the church might have been able to repent and investigate how we let our idolatry overrule God’s word so that it wouldn’t happen again.  But it did not. Nearly one hundred years later the evangelical church that authoritatively declared that the American system of ethnically based, perpetual slavery was the unquestioned will of the living God with equal authority and conviction told ourselves, the nation and the world that strict segregation along ethnic lines which included prohibitions against inter-racial marriage was also the will of God, taught in Scripture and thus must be obeyed. Once again the church prized our own well being and privilege ahead of the truth of God’s word. And once again our decision had disastrous consequences for our witness. Having sided with the culture against the living God the evangelical church was bound to practice what they preached by refusing membership to black people which extended to barring them from participating in the Lord’s Supper. This was a striking and I must say frightening violation of Paul’s teaching on communion recorded in 1 Cor. 11. Here Paul addresses and rebukes those who fostered divisions in the church and used our sacred communion meal to do so! Once again the church followed the lead of an ungodly culture, told them it was perfectly in line with God’s will and exchanged God’s clear truth to worship the cultural idol of white supremacy.

And the beat as they say goes on. The same black church that we’re told must now rise to reject President Obama for the sake of the biblical truth about marriage has for at least a couple of decades bowed, embraced and promoted the idol of prosperity, greatness, comfort and ease all in Jesus name and all because God commands us to do so in His word. The examples of this kind of twisted theology and brazen idolatry are so numerous that I’m sure you can think of many yourselves. How can we with a straight face and clear conscience demand an apology and retraction from President Obama when for years we’ve peddled a blatant lie and will stand before God’s people this Lord’s Day to emphatically declare that the gospel we preach is a gospel of prosperity in the Name of our Lord who said ‘Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15 NIV).

What ought we to do then? Perhaps we should begin with repentance for how we’ve misused Scripture to further the goals of our own idolatry and thus laid an example for those who seek to do the same. Whether we like it or not, there is no substantive difference between the homosexual who is certain that his sexual orientation is God’s will to that of the segregationist who was equally convinced that God’s will mandated forbidding blacks to join communion, to that of the prosperity pastor who with the same confidence declares that it is God’s express will that all of His people enjoy material prosperity.

Until and unless the church unwraps the American flag from our identity and mission and rejects the heresy of prosperity theology the world will continue to view us not as a people standing up for an objective truth that is foundational to our society but simply repeating the sins of our fathers for the sake of our own well-being.

To Him Who Loves Us…
Pastor Lance

Saturday, May 12, 2012


   Along with many conservative Christians, and other adherents of traditional marriage, and let me also add a description of myself as a vehement opponent of the practice of homosexuality and someone who sees it as immoral, and destructive to individuals and our society as a whole (did you figure out where I am coming from?), I am appalled at our President expressing his support for same sex marriage.  I am also not at all surprised at his stand, just dismayed and appalled.  Since he is our President I expect moral leadership from him, and not that which takes us as a  nation to greater immorality.
   Unlike many of his opponents I really like Barack Obama, and I love the model of his family life.  I think he is smart, a pretty good leader, and someone who usually means what he says and sticks with it.  When he says he will end a war in Iraq, he does it.  When he says "I will go into Pakistan and get Osama Bin Laden", he does it.  When he decides he will take on Wall Street, the Republicans over health care, and corporate America in taking apart General Motors and putting it back together, he does it.  The man has guts, he is a player, and has the ego to back his play.  My point is not that I like his decisions, at least not all of them, but that he does make them in spite of opposition and that takes courage.
   I say all this because I find those who are cynical about his decisions tend to suggest that he makes them only for political purposes.  I grant that he is a politician, and an exceptionally cunning and adept one, but just like Bill Clinton, he has convictions and follows through on them.  He may choose his moments to lower the hammer, but he does have convictions.  In the case of homosexual marriage he holds reprehensible and disgusting convictions.  Oh my, how the world has changed, that such a scandal can now be haled as a historic moment.
    I pray for the President faithfully.  I think he has a sense of the Gospel, compared with the lack of such from many former presidents.  What he lacks though is a Biblical World and Life view, and what he has in its place is a sense of justice without any absolute foundations that control its boundaries.  In short, he can claim to be a Christian and totally be opposed to the holiness of God, the dignity of human beings, and the moral order that creates a moral society all while thinking he is doing something noble and has the comfort of personal faith.
    I don't make fun of our President, I respect the office highly.  I don't send mocking stories about him on Facebook, or videos of his verbal stumbles, and certainly not racist and demeaning comments about him to anyone.  I don't attempt to subvert our system of government by attempting to delegitmize his government by calling it a "regime."  Trying to make a clown of our President doesn't help us to understand the terrible dilemma we are in as a country.
    It is not that this man is evil, or a socialist, or simply an opportunist.  What is distressing is that he understands the culture and society from the perspective of the American Academy, the intellectual secularists, the adrift inheritors of a Christian culture no longer in touch with its moorings.  He gets America, and where he thinks it is going, and that is bad news for America because it ain't going any place healthy.  I don't want to be a troglodyte, I am not whimsical for a racist past, or a past of general poverty.  I am thankful for all the progress we have made in freedom, in technology, and in our material wealth, but brokenhearted that we have forgotten what got us here and fairly certain that the peak will be reached soon where we begin to slide down the other side.
   It was one thing when Bill Clinton used the Oval Office for personal sexual immorality, what a terrible example to our children.  Then he lied about it.  Wow, but I think this is worse, because it is an endorsement of a chosen behavior that though present for much of history has always been condemned as immoral, especially in the contribution to the delinquency of minors (who are now encouraged to use their sexual confusion as a breakout of identity [what trash}) and allows individuals to pursue sexual fulfillment without sexual responsibility by the fulfillment of (normal but fraught with difficulty) relationships with the opposite sex and the production and raising of children.
    This President is helping society to stand on its head.  Bullying is now a sought after behavior so as to identify those who mock the homosexual, and to protect those who would pursue it.  Am I in favor of bullying, of course not, but it is all part of an agenda of protection for a self-destroying, self-confusing, and self-agonizing way of life.   I prophesy bullying, where the homosexuals stand at the door of Lot's house, and demand that the young men be sent out.  This is no persecuted minority, but a self indulgent materialistic and politically savy group of folks who will destroy our nation, if not by its eventual corruption, then by a God who knows how to send the smoke.
     With every love and kindness to anyone caught up in homosexual behavior, and my respect to you as someone created in the image of God, and my hope for God's deliverance for you, I stand opposed to any agenda that would normalize such behavior or seek to expand it.  I ask all who agree with me to speak out, stand up, stand out, and shake off all the name calling that will come your way.  For the sake of our nation, for the sake of our children, for the sake of Truth, this must be opposed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


   Recently I have been in the process of packing up my house in preparation for a move.  This has caused me to get over my procrastinating ways of leaving piles of paper, cards, letters, etc to gather on my desk.  Now I have had to decide what to toss and what to keep.  It gave me some pause to realize that I had a stack of sympathy cards from the death of my mother this year, and I felt a bit guilty in having to discard them.  There were a lot of them and as I read the messages and names of those who sent condolences and messages of love and sympathy I was struck by how many people loved my mom, and have loved me.
    Would I be disrespectful of my mom to throw them out?   Would I be wrong to throw such thoughtfulness in the recycle bin?   How could I keep the feelings, the good words, the connections that these cards represented?
    To some degree I feel like a hypocrite in receiving such letters and cards, since I am so terrible in not sending them to my friends in their grief and distress.  I don't think I knew how much they could mean to someone.  I am glad that I did not think of anyone who was missing, or make a list in my head of folks that I felt should have said something but failed to write.  I know many did hurt for us, and prayed for us, so I am grateful to them even if they could not or did not write, but the letters were a blessing.  I was surprised that some folks who know me but with whom I am not that close took the time to let me know they cared.
   I still had to let the letters go, and only kept a couple, one with a picture of my mom when she was younger, one a dramatic statement of the resurrection.  I was glad I opened them up again especially since one had cash in it that I had forgotten about.  What will linger is the impression of love, and the reality that we do live in community.  The reality of community is that people do actually notice you, and want to know about you and what you are doing, and your losses move them and your victories encourage them.
   I think this is something young people don't realize until much later in their lives, that the folks they grew up around, and the older people who watched them grow feel a sense of ownership.  So many of us when we are young are cavalier about the investment others make in us, even to our parents.  We can move away so easily, get caught up in our own lives and stop communicating.  We forget where we came from, and sometimes we even resent questions and accuse people of being nosy (okay, some people are nosy) when the truth is that they are interested in us and want to stay connected.
    I have watched children grow up in my family, and in my church.  I have seen some keep that sense of connection, and I have seen others who give nothing back and would be amazed that someone thought they should.  I think for some of us, when we were young, all our achievements were our own.  It is what we did and it had nothing to do with the platform that launched us.  There are some stories like that, of folks who made it in spite of where they came from, but I think most often is because of where and of whom we came.
    There is of course a healthy parting, a need for the young to leave the nest and make it on their own.  Yet death has a way of bringing things back to the reality that permanent "good-byes" make us more appreciative of "hellos."  It at least sometimes makes us realize people see the drama we are caught up in, and they empathize with us, and the knowledge of that is worth a lot on days when you don't think your life means that much, or that anyone cares.  They do, and we should, because the caring of others sure heals the heart when you remember what you have lost.
    So when some old lady or old man asks you how you have been, or where you have been and what is going on in your life, tell them.  At least thank them for asking, maybe even ask about their situation.  Hold on to the connection, through the years if you can.  People are important even if they haven't done anything directly for us, and maybe we don't know what they've done.  Maybe they prayed for us, maybe they defended our name when we weren't around, maybe they just hoped our potential would someday be realized.  Maybe they just sent a note and it made you take notice that they noticed.  Thanks, by the way, for the card.