Understanding Critical Race Theory from a Biblical Perspective

Critical race theory used to be a subject that was relegated to the halls of academia, but that is no longer the case. It has gone mainstream and is common in government institutions, K-12 education, and corporate training. Some see critical race theory as a helpful analytical tool or a harmless fad. Others believe critical race theory is a counterfeit version of biblical justice. This is the position I hold. 

Critical race theory (CRT) takes concepts from a Judeo-Christian perspective, hollows them out, and redefines them with Marxist views and values. It uses social justice as its battering ram. CRT is an overarching belief system that has its own storyline for creation (group identity), rebellion (oppression of minorities; systemic racism is original sin; white privilege needs to be repented of; white fragility is an unwillingness or inability to confess), salvation (revolution through activism), and restoration (liberation that brings about a utopia). CRT functions as a religion for many people, which is why there is so much zeal to defend the ideology and proselytize others. It is atheistic in nature and puts man in place of God to deal with all the problems of the world by addressing systems and institutions rather than sin in the heart.

Critical race theory is infesting every level of the government and public schools all over the country. Institutions have embedded ideological tests to weed out dissenters. Licensing requirements and equity, diversity, and inclusion training are equivalent to a loyalty test and require a loyalty oath in corporate America and public education. CRT is a catechism of religious belief being taught in schools. Let’s look at a few core views of CRT.

Who am I?

CRT abandons individual autonomy and divides everyone into groups that are believed to be in constant conflict with one another focused on race, sexual identity, gender identity, and religion. All minorities are victims. You are not your own individual and are defined by the identity and actions of your group. This means that you cannot rise above the group you belong to. According to CRT, justice is not working out what is rightly due to an individual, but what is due to a person as a bearer of a group identity. In other nations that have embraced this view chaos, genocide, and totalitarianism is the result of the dehumanizing idea that individuals don’t exist. Many examples could be listed, but I will just mention that this was the thinking behind the Nazi’s with the Jews as well as the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda. Denying the existence of the individual destroys the very foundation of western civilization and it will destroy our country through class warfare. Tribalism, division, and hate are the fruit. Freedom, responsibility, and accountability are all casualties of this destructive belief. Individual value, worth, and dignity is the biblical idea that created the West. By contrast, the Bible affirms that individuals are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, not group identity. It’s important to understand that groups shape us, they don’t define us.

What’s the problem?

In a word, it’s oppression. The goal of critical race theory, implemented through the social justice revolution, is to dismantle oppressive structures and transfer power and authority to victims. CRT proponents believe power hides behind all human interaction for the purpose of gaining control over those with less power. The powerful are the privileged at the expense of the unprivileged. Power is zero-sum. If one group gains, another must lose. CRT sees power as held exclusively by white, straight, male, and Christians who seek to maintain their power through a vast and hidden array of social systems such as white supremacy, the patriarchy, and traditional views of marriage, family, and sexuality. CRT does not seek power for victims so that injustice may be addressed or other people served. The motive is to shift power and place the oppressed into positions of authority. The Bible doesn’t see the problem as oppression between groups, but rebellion against God. Our fundamental problem is in the heart when we break God’s law, which leads to injustice for others.

What’s the solution?

The solution is revolution through social justice activism. Oppressed victims and their allies must unite to dismantle and overthrow oppressive power structures and build a new and better society. At the Human Rights Campaign awards banquet actress Anne Hathaway expressed this boldly,

It is important to acknowledge with the exception of being a cisgender male, everything about how I was born has put me at the current center of a damaging and widely accepted myth. That myth is that gayness orbits around straightness, transgender orbits around cisgender, and that all races orbit around whiteness. …Together we are not going to just question this myth, we are going to destroy it. …Let’s tear this world apart and build a better one.

This is not a solution to injustice. It’s a revolution that seeks to create an entirely different America. “Let your revolution come through your instruction and your education,” said Mauri Friestleben, Principal of North Minneapolis High School. The solution is the destruction of western civilization to make way for the new utopia.

CRT is Marxism

It uses the same concept applied by communists in Europe using the oppressor and oppression framework. They applied it to economics. The poor and peasants were the good guys and the middle class and rich were evil. Critical Race Theory uses the same oppressor and oppression framework, but applied to race and gender instead of economics. They believe that progression means smashing all the old forms of society – whiteness, marriage, gender, family, religion – in order to liberate humanity. Unlike communists, their method to gain control is not through economic production, but by controlling the source of cultural production such as academics, media, and corporate America. CRT is ideological totalitarianism requiring uniformity of thought. It is built upon lies. It requires that you reject the evidence you see with your eyes and ear and believe their propaganda. They believe that after humanity is freed from the chains that bind us, we will experience a radically new and improved form of life.

CRT is Racist

Racism in America used to mean unequal treatment based on skin color. Racism has been redefined to mean unequal outcomes based on group identity. That is why math can be racist. If one group of students is getting lower math scores than another group, then it is racist because they are experiencing unequal outcomes. Different outcomes for different groups is the injustice. CRT purposefully discriminates against certain groups to level the outcomes. It has become a culturally acceptable means of racism under the banner of equity and equal outcomes. Vice President Kamala Harris wrote on Twitter: “There’s a big difference between equality and equity. Equality suggests everyone should get the same amount. Equity is about giving people the resources and the support they need, so that everyone can be on equal footing, and then compete on equal footing. Equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.”

Moral authority is given to those in victim classes. If you check the box of multiple victim statuses, this is called intersectionality. It means that you are more easily able to spot other people’s biases; so therefore, you have greater moral authority. Those who are in oppressor categories don’t recognize they have biases. The authority for truth becomes people’s subjective lived experiences. This is a new secular, moral code and those who don’t live according to it are identified as bigots, racists, and misogynists by the mob.

Critical race theory is a perversion of something only God can accomplish in society by transforming the human heart through Jesus Christ. It appeals to people because it promises progress, a utopian future, and has a built in morality. It is a religious replacement using religious categories. It appeals to atheists, secularists, and those who are alienated from church or family. We must understand that we are not dealing with a theory or a political idea, but a secular religion. It is not harmless or helpful. It is dangerous and destructive and should be rejected. 

What is Justice?

We all desire justice. If someone gets away with something wrong, it bothers us. One of the most common phrases in the human language may be, “It’s not fair.” But if we were asked to define justice, could we do that? Justice is a confusing, foggy topic for many right now. We need clarity because counterfeit versions of justice are everywhere. What exactly is justice? 

What is Justice?

In the most basic sense, justice is receiving what we are owed. Justice is the result of the correct ordering of things in alignment with God’s design and commands. To understand biblical justice, I want you to look at this picture of Lady Justice. The statue of Lady Justice reveals the biblical principles of justice that our nation was founded upon. Notice four things about justice from the picture:

  • She is standing on the Bible. God’s Word, his righteousness, is the foundation for justice. The pursuit of justice requires a standard. When we lose a sense of right and wrong, we cannot determine what is just. Notice what Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.” God wants both righteousness and justice. Righteousness is the moral standard of right and wrong to which God holds humans accountable based on His divine standard. Justice is the fair and impartial application of God’s moral law in society. When there is no standard for right or wrong, it leads to partiality, unfairness, and injustice.
  • Blindfolded, she practices no bias, never showing favoritism or partiality based on wealth, skin color, or sex. Lady Justice is blindfolded because she does not favor rich or poor, elite or lowly, black or white, male or female. Everyone stands on the same standard. 

  • Scales in her hand, her judgment is grounded in objective truth so that there can be fairness. Justice requires a level playing field rather than crooked scales so that both sides of a story can be heard and it requires uprightness, a ”straight” standard so that we can deal with people equally. When facts are presented, Lady justice applies the standard impartially, without favoritism or rigging the scales.

  • A sword in her hand reminds us of the necessity of authority manifested in law and law enforcement. When the law is broken, justice requires that the guilty person is punished. We cannot have justice where there is not truth or law. The unrighteous will naturally fight back against the enforcement of justice through the rule of law. We are seeing this manifested in the push to defund the police and in Antifa, a group that wants no law so that every person can live as he or she wants. 

Biblically, God deals with us fairly and according to a standard. God instructs us to deal with each other in the same way, without favoritism or partiality. Applied to all of life, a biblical view of justice means equal, fair, and impartial treatment for everyone according to God’s law.

Education Matters: Why Education Needs to be Part of Your Churches Ministry to the Next Generation

Education matters. That’s a phrase that just about every Christian agrees with. Education matters because it influences what children believe, who they become, the choices they make, the friends they choose, and demands thirty-five hours a week of a child’s time for eight months of the year.

Yet, you wouldn’t know this at most churches. Education is overlooked, under-valued and the topic is ignored with a fervor so as not to offend parents. To speak about education is equivalent to blasphemy in many churches. An elder from a church I pastored told me, “You are not allowed to talk about education.” The common sentiment is to respect all educational choice as there is no one right decision for all parents.

Nicole Fulgham, author of Schools in Crisis, embraces the idea that there is no Christian view on education. She states, “There is certainly not a monolithic viewpoint that represents the ‘Christian’ point of view on public education.”[1] Tim Challies shares a similar perspective, “I find myself grappling with this thought: What if God doesn’t care a whole lot about how we educate our children?…One thing I’ve never heard anyone suggest is that maybe it’s just not that big of a deal. And, honestly, I am beginning to learn that way.”[2]

What if Fulgham and Challies are wrong? What if God does care about how we educate our children? What if there is a biblical perspective on education? Wouldn’t it be good for parents to know this and for churches to address the topic?

What does the Bible say about education?

Many people believe the Bible has little or nothing to say about education because the term never appears in Scripture. We only find a single reference to the word school in Scripture, Samuel’s school of the prophets.[3] Despite this reality, the Bible has a lot to say about education. The Bible has many other ways of referring to education such as knowledge, teach, learn, instruct, think, and mind. Here is a sample of what Scripture says about education:

  • Knowledge: The core task of education is to lead a child from ignorance to knowledge. The Bible’s chief concern in education is the knowledge of God, which is contrasted with foolishness (Prov. 1:7). Apart from God, knowledge cannot be properly understood and foolishness abounds. The Bible provides guidance regarding how to navigate godless knowledge. We are told, “Have nothing to do with godless myths” (1 Tim. 4:7). “Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called ‘knowledge,’ for by professing it some have swerved from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:20-21). Knowledge is never neutral; it is for or against God. “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
  • Teach: The Hebrew language is rich in words that have to do with instruction; at least thirty-four root words imply the idea of teaching, and the words teach and teacher are used in the Bible over 350 times. Biblical education is focused on the task of teaching the knowledge of God and obedience to His law to the next generation. The Bible is prescriptive regarding what children are to be taught. Here is a sampling of what God commands:

    • God’s law. “Teach them [God’s laws] to your children and children’s children” (Deut. 4:9). “Teach them diligently to your children” (Deut. 6:7). “You shall teach them [God’s laws] to your children” (Deut. 11:9).

    • God’s work and character. “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts” (Ps. 145:4) “Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done…which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children…so that they set their hope in God and not forget the works of God” (Ps. 78:5-6).

    • God’s Word. “How from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings [the Bible], which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching…” (2 Tim. 3:15-16). “Command and teach them these things” (2 Tim. 4:11).

    • The fear of God. “Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (Ps. 34:11).

      • Learn: The words learn, learned, and learning appears in the Bible over 100 times. The Bible is concerned with what we learn. Christians are to learn to revere God (Duet. 14:23), to fear God (Deut. 31:12), to serve God (2 Chron. 12:8), what is good (Job 34:4; Titus 3:14), God’s righteous laws (Ps. 119:7), His decrees and commands (Ps. 119:71-73), prudence (Prov. 19:25), to do right (Is. 1:17), to control ones body (1 Thess. 4:4), to praise God (Ps. 89:15), wisdom (Prov. 30:3), the meaning and purpose of life (Eccl. 1:17), contentment (Phil. 4:11), and to learn the Gospel (2 Tim. 3:14-16). If God commands his followers to learn these things, doesn’t it make sense to choose to educate our children so that they learn these very truths?

      • Instruct: The Bible provides guidance about who is to instruct a child. Jesus states, “A student [disciple] when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). The biblical principle to recognize is that teachers reproduce themselves in their students. Children absorb the beliefs, values, and views of the teacher. Biblically, parents are given the role of educating a child (Eph. 6:4).

      • Think: The Bible teaches “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). What a child thinks about, he or she becomes. What does the Bible want us to think about? Here is how the Bible answers that question, “Meditate on God’s Word day and night” (Joshua 1:8). “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8). Lastly, “Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom. 12:1-2).

      The biblical vision for a child’s education is centered on and saturated with God’s Word, God’s laws, God’s works, God’s character, the fear of God, and godly living. Many parents believe the fallacy that they can obey these passages of Scripture by teaching their children at home on the evenings and weekends, despite sending their children to a school that teaches God is irrelevant, even non-existent, and instructs children in secular morality and unbiblical ideas. Individuals who do this, compartmentalize education in a way the Bible never does and fail to understand there is no distinction between faith and learning. When education is viewed as reading, writing, and math while discipleship is seen as character formation, spiritual disciplines, and sharing faith—we create a false dichotomy the Bible never does and provide our children with an education that is foreign to Scripture.

      Why Include Education in Your Ministry to the Next Generation?

      More than ever, Christians need to know what the Bible teaches about the education of children and put it into practice. Unfortunately, many Christians have adopted a cultural perspective for the purpose and practice of education. The Christian community needs a renewed biblical vision for the education of the next generation. The Bible reminds us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov. 29:18). It is critical that Christians capture a biblical vision for a child’s education. Parents need guidance from church leaders how to think biblically about education. Here are five reasons to include education in your ministry to children and youth:

      1. A Biblical Mandate: We must begin with Scripture and ask what are the biblical principles about education. God has given clear guidance in the Bible what, who, why, and how to teach children. God commands us to teach children His laws, His character, and His Word (Deut. 4:9; Ps. 78:4-8; Eph. 6:4). According to the Bible, God did not give the government the role of educating children. Education is a parent’s responsibility, with the support of grandparents and the church. Parents are to instruct children in the Lord, teach them God’s laws, and train a child to apply God’s truth to life. Parents have the freedom to partner with others to educate a child, but must do so in accordance with the principles given in the Bible.

      2. The Incredible Impact: Education is a powerful influence in the life of children. Children will spend 16,000 hours at school between K-12, considerably more time than in church. If pastors are serious about shepherding a child’s heart, then education is a non-negotiable aspect of ministry to the next generation. Modern day public education has scores of secular presuppositions underneath it, which are not understood or recognized by the majority of Christian parents. The approach of trying to overlay Christian beliefs to humanistic education is not successful for the majority of parents, nor is it biblical. Pastors are shepherds called to not only feed the flock entrusted to their care, but also protect the flock from false doctrine and wolves that would destroy faith in Christ. 
      1. A Means of Evangelism and Discipleship: Biblically, education is discipleship. It shapes what a child believes and who a child becomes. Christian education plays a critical role proclaiming the gospel to children, immersing children in gospel truth, training children for gospel living, and sending out children to transform culture through the power of the gospel. Paul reminds us of the critical importance of the centrality of Scripture in the education of children, “From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). When the church separated itself from the education of the next generation, it forfeited its position of influence in a child’s life and have steadily lost our children to the world in increasing numbers.

      2. Christ-Centered Relationships. Godly relationships with teachers and friends encourage wise choices, holy living, and obedience to God. God reminds us, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33) and “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40).
      1. A Priority in Church History: There is a long list of Christian leaders in church history who have emphasized the importance of Christian education and believed it was a critical component of their mission and ministry. They believed the church and Christian school were united in ministry and mutually dependent upon one another. For example, “The great church reformers—Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli, and others—gave as much energy to establishing Christian schools as they gave to reforming the church. To them Christian school education and church reform were inseparable allies. Neither, they believed, could succeed without the other.”[4] Martin Luther was a champion of Christian education. He states, “When schools prosper, the church remains righteous and her doctrine pure…Young pupils and students are the seed and source of the church. If we were dead, whence would come our successors. If not from the schools? For the sake of the church we must have and maintain Christian schools.”[5]

      Many Christians are uncertain why we educate a child, the purpose and goal of education, who is given the responsibility in Scripture, and how we are to accomplish the task. As a result, many Christians have unintentionally adopted an unbiblical view of education and take their educational cues from culture rather than Scripture. Pastors have an incredible opportunity to cast a biblical vision for the education of the next generation and help parent think biblically about a topic that is critically important to the evangelism and discipleship of the next generation. If you believe education matters, then it is time to prioritize it in your ministry to the next generation.

       

      [1] Nicole Baker Fulgham, Schools in Crisis: They Need Your Help (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013), 27.

      [2] Tim Challies, https://www.challies.com/articles/what-if-god-doesnt-care-a-whole-lot-about-how-you-educate-your-children/

      [3] Samuel G. Kahn, A Short History of Christian Education (Jerusalem: Yesodot Publishers, 1960), 116.

      [4] Paul A. Kienel, A History of Christian School Education vol. 1 (Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications, 1998), xvi.

      [5] F.V.N. Painter, Luther on Education (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1889), 132-133.

How to Help a Child Understand and Defend Their Faith

You have helped train your children or grandchildren in the Christian faith. They are familiar with key Bible characters and stories, even memorized Scripture passages. You’ve explained the Gospel. They know that Jesus died on the cross for their sins and rose again. They have even had some significant experiences that have profoundly shaped them. They should be safe, right?

What will they do when someone makes a claim and provide “evidence” that the resurrection never happened? Or that the Bible is full of errors? Or that Christianity is guilty of horrible evils in history? Suddenly, “because mom or dad, grandma or grandpa said so” doesn’t work. Even as early as grade school, children are hearing other voices that seek to undermine everything that you and other spiritual authorities taught them.

Young people will not remain faithful to a faith they do not understand and cannot defend. In a post-Christian culture, it is more critical than ever for young people to know what they believe, why they believe it, and are prepared to defend themselves from attacks to their faith. Throughout church history this has been known as apologetics. Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith. Peter states that Christians are to be prepared, “to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). A portion of Paul’s ministry included a defense of the Gospel, “I am appointed for a defense of the gospel” (Phil. 1:16). Apologists are individuals who defend Christian beliefs and practices against attacks, provide arguments for the truthfulness of Christianity over other worldviews, and refute unbiblical ideas or theories. The goal of apologetics is to persuade belief by presenting a rational basis for Christianity, to defend the truth by answering questions or the objections of unbelief, and to reveal the foolishness of false ideas so they do not capture the heart and mind of our children. Apologetics is an important aspect of your discipleship ministry to your children or grandchildren and can be divided into the following four categories:

  • Prove. Develop a case for Christianity utilizing biblical, scientific, historical, archeological, and personal testimony to establish the truthfulness of the Christian worldview. Show that Christianity is true, credible, reliable, and aligns with the real world. 

  • Defend. In every generation there are many attacks against Christianity and children need to be introduced to these distorted ideas, learn to test them against God’s Word, and be able to identify truth from error. The two primary areas of attack: The Son of God and the Word of God. 

  • Refute. Compare and contrast with other religions and belief systems to verify the Christian faith and dismantle false and erroneous views. Refute arguments made in support of different beliefs by showing they are unreliable, irrational, unverifiable, or simply do not make sense with what we see in real life.

  • Persuade. Work to clarify biblical truths, answer objections, address criticisms, provide answers and eliminate any intellectual difficulties that stand in the way of coming to faith in Christ. The goal is to encourage alignment with God’s Word, apply the truth of God’s Word to life, and establish a lifelong commitment to the Gospel. Apologetics is a partner of evangelism where we seek to convince children to accept truth claims about Christianity and trust Christ. Give your child every reason possible to embrace the Christian faith and reject counterfeit beliefs. 

7 Tips to help children understand and defend their faith:

  • Utilize questions to grow the faith of future generations. Your goal is twofold: become an askable parent or grandparent and become skilled at the art of asking good questions. Use questions to create serious spiritual dialogue, to encourage critical thinking, and discover what children believe.

  • Take objections from a child seriously. Do not mock an objection or dismiss a question. Spend as much time and energy as needed to fully explore a topic with a child. 

  • Anticipate attacks and arguments that a child will face in the teen and adult years. After teaching a biblical truth to a child or grandchild, present the faulty argument, prove why it is false, give reading material that establishes the truth, and continue to point out in conversation over the years the erroneous arguments. 

  • Built an apologetics library for each child. These make great gifts. Suggested books include Cold-Case Christianity by J. Warner Wallace, Tactics by Gregory Koukl, Answers Vol. 1-4 by Answers in Genesis, Quick Answers to Social Questions by Bryan Osborne, Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions by Ken Ham, Debunking Evolution by Daniel Biddle, True For You But Not For Me by Paul Copan, and The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

  • Expose children to the truth in real life experiences. Allow older children to see a live ultrasound so they learn the horrors of abortion, or visit the creation museum to teach the truth of creation and then visit a natural history museum to show the error of evolution.

  • Look for examples of false beliefs or erroneous messages in movies, music, books, and television. Point them out, ask questions, and discuss why something is problematic. Always point back to Scripture so that it is not your opinion, but based on the authority of God’s Word.

  • Utilize the Truth Method. The truth method is intended to teach a biblical truth, identify a message from the world, and analyze it to determine the good and reject the bad using five steps.
    1. Teach a biblical truth through instruction and discussion. What biblical truths do your grandchildren need to be taught to stand strong in their faith?
    2. Recognize the idea or concept the world is communicating. What lies or half truths threaten their faith today?
    3. Understand the claim by analyzing it. What is actually being said?
    4. Test the idea according to the Bible. What does the Bible say about the topic?
    5. Hold fast to what is good and reject what is bad. What should be rejected and why?

Rise up parents and grandparents. The battle of ideas is real and it’s taking no prisoners. We are in a battle for the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren. Helping a child detect errors and discern truth in the age of fake news, social media, and conspiracy theories is critical and you are uniquely positioned for such a time as this.

Is Same-Sex Attraction a Sin?

“Is same-sex attraction a sin?” This question was asked by a pastor to a group of high school students as part of a talk on sexual identity. My son attends this group, and after inquiring what would be talked about, the pastor invited me to join the group for the evening, so I did. His talk needed much clarity, so for my sons sake and others, I decided to write this post. His premise was three-fold. First, homosexuality is a sin. Second, the Bible does not address same-sex attraction. And third, same-sex attraction is not a sin. Let’s look at each of these briefly.

Homosexuality is a Sin

The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin. Of course, making that statement is about as enjoyable as a doctor telling a patient she has cancer. And it is received with the same range of emotions. Some weep. Others rage. And we are seeing both occur when brave men and women state what the Bible says, that homosexuality is a sin. But in case you are new to the topic, Leviticus 18:22 states, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul identifies homosexuality as sin in Romans 1:26-27 and in 1 Timothy 1:10.

Homosexuality, according to Romans 1:21-25, is the consequence of another more serious problem, which is idolatry. Here is the problem in a nutshell: humans spurn the Creator, refusing to glorify God or give Him thanks and worship creation instead of the Creator. Paul tells us that when people exchange the glory of God for creation that they exchange the truthfulness of God for a lie. God gives humans over to their own selfish desires, one of which is the manifestation of homosexuality. God giving individuals over to the depravity of their lusts is, in part, His judgment upon someone. The point of Romans 1:21-25 is not primarily that same-sex temptation and acts are a perversion of God’s good design. This is, of course, a true principle that comes from this passage. However, the main point that we must understand is that homosexuality is God’s act of judgment for idolatry.

Most of us probably know a family member or friend who is actively living in homosexual sin. If we wish to help them, which we should, then what they need is not therapeutic counseling or kid glove coddling. Their soul is in danger of hell and we must treat them with compassion but also great concern. Romans 1 tells us that homosexuality isn’t the problem. Worship is. Homosexuality exists because the worship of God does not. So this tells us where we need to direct our efforts. If we want to see a homosexual person turn from his or her sin, then we need to help them see and savor the greatness of God and beauty of Christ. What is needed is heart change based on repentance of sin and a new affection for Christ. Sin withers only when the Gospel is brought to bear on it. Thomas Chalmers states,

“There is not one personal transformation in which the heart is left without an object of ultimate beauty and joy. The hearts desire for one particular object can be conquered, but its desire to have some object is unconquerable. The only way to disposes the old heart of an object of affection is by the expulsive power of a new one” (The Expulsive Power of a New Affection).

Sin can only be conquered when Jesus is savored as more beautiful and satisfying than the sin. The Gospel motivates us to say no to sin rather than, “I can sin because I will be forgiven later.” We hate sin because God died for it and because we know that God never lets us sin successfully. So the point here is that we must wholeheartedly recognize that homosexuality is a sin. But we must go deeper. We must see that it is a result of idolatry and deal with the root issue.

Same-Sex Attraction in the Bible

The pastor’s second premise was that the Bible does not deal with same-sex attraction. This is about as true as saying the Bible doesn’t have anything to say about education, grandparenting, or the Trinity. If we pull out our trusty concordance, we will find that these words are rather scarce, even absent from the Bible all together. The same is true of same-sex attraction. Should we assume that the Bible is silent on this subject? To make such an assumption is erroneous. The Bible has a lot to say about education, grandparenting, and the Trinity as well as many other subjects that we will not find by name in a concordance. The problem isn’t the silence of Scripture, the issue is an exegetical fallacy of presupposing our own category or terminology on Scripture, not finding it, and claiming it isn’t present.

This is much the same as me trying to locate my son in our home and asking the other children where I may find Frank. To which they would tell me that Frank doesn’t live at this house and would tell me to look elsewhere. But if I asked my children where I may find Jay, they could point me in the right direction, maybe even tell me what room he is in, because his name is Jay not Frank. We must know the Bible’s name or category for a particular topic in order to properly find it. If we misname it or miscategorize it, we will think the Bible is silent when in fact it is not. The Bible’s name for same-sex attraction is sexual temptation. Once we understand this, suddenly the Bible has a lot to say about same-sex attraction.

Same-Sex Attraction is a Temptation to be Fought

This brings us to the third point, that same-sex attraction is not sin. On the surface, this is a difficult subject to gain clarity about. But when we address this topic using biblical language, it clears up the fog considerably. Let us ask the question on the Bible’s terms. Is same-sex temptation a sin? Now we have a category from which to answer this question from Scripture.

There is a biblical category for being tempted without sinning. It is true to say that temptation itself is not sin. James 1:14-15 makes a distinction between temptation that leads to sin and the sin itself. The feelings of same-sex attraction are not always active sin, but it is a desire for something sinful, so we must take great care with how we navigate this topic.

In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus equated lust with adultery. This establishes an important biblical principle: if it is a sin to do something, it is also a sin to desire to do that same thing. Any desire for something God has forbidden is sin. Because the Bible states that homosexuality is a sin, it is also sinful to desire to commit homosexual acts.

Same-sex attraction becomes sin if it turns into lust. Once the attraction turns into a desire to do something sexually that God forbids, it has become sin in the heart. It is not wrong to think another person is attractive, but where is the line between attraction becoming lust? Same-sex attraction is a desire for something God has forbidden, and as such, it should not become a fire that we feed or a friend that is courted, but a temptation that is fought.

John Piper has some insightful words on the matter of same-sex attraction: “It would be right to say that same-sex desires are sinful in the sense that they are disordered by sin and exist contrary to God’s revealed will. But to be caused by sin and rooted in sin does not make a sinful desire equal to sinning. Sinning is what happens when rebellion against God expresses itself through our disorders” (Let Marriage Be Held in Honor).

Same-sex attraction is best understood as a temptation that can easily become a sin. If a thought or desire is allowed to turn into something more, it becomes a lustful sin. So what should a person do when a momentary same-sex attraction pops into his head? The Bible tells us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Here we get to the crux of the matter. Individuals need to be taught how to battle temptation, not coddle it.

How is the believer to defeat temptation? What does the Bible tell us to do with sexual temptation? The Bible tells us to flee from sin, to fight for purity, and to saturate our mind on God’s Word, guarding it from impurity. In sharp contrast to the world, God calls His people to be pure (1 Thess. 4:3-7). The Bible tells us that the heart is the battleground to conquer sexual sin, including same-sex attraction. To achieve victory, the focus must be on the internal first and then the external. Fighting against sexual sin and temptation is constant and difficult, but it is a battle that every believer can win if they rely upon the resources that God provides such as meditation on Scripture, devotion to prayer, and fellowship with the church. Christians of all ages need biblical tools to fight temptation so that we are not sent into battle without any weapons. 

In addition, the Bible speaks regularly about the consequences of sexual sin. In fact, this is one of the biblical methods of encouraging young people to defeat sexual temptation. Young people can be reminded of the long lasting consequences of sexual sin, such as death (Prov. 7:22-27), loss of wealth (Prov. 5:10), lifelong regret (5:11-14), and shame and destruction (Prov. 6:32-35).

Same-sex attraction may come “natural” to some people, but we all “naturally” desire things that are sinful. The presence of these desires is not an excuse to allow them to take up residence in our heart or to act upon them. Is it right for a “naturally” angry person to allow feelings of bitterness in their heart? Is it right for a “naturally” greedy person to desire their neighbor’s possessions? Of course not. We have the responsibility to resist temptation and to fight these sinful desires and so does anyone who naturally has a same-sex attraction.

Getting rid of sin is like getting rid of weeds. If weeds are allowed to grow, they will take over. If they are cut off at the ground, they will keep growing back. If we want to kill weeds, we have to pull them up at the roots. This is what we must do with sin and this is what must happen with same-sex attraction. We cannot deal with sin on the surface. We must root it out. The great puritan preacher John Owens once wrote, “Be killing sin or it be killing you.” It is foolish to take sexual desires lightly, entertain them in our mind, or overestimate our ability to resist temptation. We must flee sinful desires and aggressively attack sin in our life. The same is to be true for those who struggle with same-sex attraction.

The Lord designed sex as a wonderful expression between a husband and wife, but those who use sex selfishly or apart from God’s good design will experience much heartache and ruin. Same-sex attraction is the result of a broken creation and for that reason is sinful. Same-sex attraction is not the same as sinning, but it should be treated like all temptation to sin. If you are a Christian and have sinned sexually, know that God has forgiven you based on what Christ has done on the cross. If sin is confessed, God is faithful to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). May God empower us to have victory over sexual sin for His glory and our good.

Is it ever okay to date/marry a non-believer? FAQ Blog Series (Part 2)

Many think it’s narrow minded to discourage Christians from marrying someone outside their faith. 2 Corinthians 6:14 is very clear though that God doesn’t want believers to be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. Here are five dangers to dating/marrying an unbeliever:

1) As a believer your relationship with Jesus Christ is the most important part of who you are. If you are not able to share that with the person you’re with, then you can’t share ALL of who you are. A healthy relationship should connect on every level – emotionally, physically and spiritually. Being with someone who doesn’t believe what you believe will hinder your transparency and will create a huge gap in your intimacy. Even worse, you could lose your passion and zeal for Christ because you decide it’s better to compartmentalize your faith so you aren’t isolated from your spouse.

2) Many think marriage is for earthly happiness but God created it for an even greater purpose – eternal holiness. In Ephesians 5, the husband is called to love and serve his wife in order to encourage spiritual growth and transformation in her. Women, if you marry an unbelieving man, his ultimate goal will most likely not be your spiritual transformation.

In Genesis 2, the first role God gave wives was to be the man’s helper. This is a huge responsibility and privilege because it means coming alongside him and spurring him on to become the godly man he was created to be. Men, if you marry an unbelieving woman, her ultimate goal will most likely not be your spiritual transformation.

3) Marriage is also for raising godly children. A godly husband and wife have a shared mission and that is to raise godly children. If the two of you are not on the same page about your faith, your children will receive mixed messages and likely find themselves confused about what to believe.

4) If the person is a believer but there is a large gap in their level of spiritual maturity, I would suggest a few things:

– Seek the advice and input from a few strong Christians you know and trust. Invite them into the process of getting to know the person you’re dating. This   will enable them to discern whether or not they feel the spiritual gap can be        bridged or not.

– Get involved together at church; attend services, join a Bible Study or small group, do service projects. The goal here is to see if the other person is eager to grow and if you can grow together. This will also help you see whether      you’re headed in the same direction.

5) Above all else, trust that the Lord knows best and lean on Him instead of your own feelings or thinking. He won’t ever lead you astray!

Scripture for further study: 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:25-27, Genesis 2:18

 

“How far is too far?” FAQ Blog Series (Part 1)

One of the most common questions I receive from youth and young adults is: “How far is too far?” Check out my response below.

One of the hardest Biblical commands for many people to accept is the command to save sex for marriage. To many, this “rule” seems like God is out to ruin their fun and restrict their freedom. However, behind every command God gives, are two motivations: to protect us and provide for us. Why? Because God is love. Love is the His core motivator for why He gives us commands. Therefore, His command to save all sexual activity for marriage comes from His heart of love!

The culture, however, will continue to bombard us with the lie that true freedom is found by living without boundaries and following our feelings. God calls us to faith rather than following our feelings because He knows our hearts are deceitful and will lead us down a road of destruction.

When you became a believer, your body became a temple where the Holy Spirit resides. This is a HUGE honor as well as a HUGE responsibility. Christ paid a high price (His life!) to rescue us and now calls us to pay a price of our own by pursuing holiness and pure living.

So how far is too far before it becomes sin? Not every sexual action is listed in the Bible with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ beside it. Some are grey areas. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 the Apostle Paul provides a great principle we can use to discern what to do when we face those grey areas: “’I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” Paul is saying that some things we have freedom to do are not good for us and can actually be a stumbling block for someone we love. Even if an action isn’t listed in the Bible as sin, it can still be selfish, unloving and harmful. Hebrews 10:24 reiterates this by saying, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” If you are unsure whether a particular action could be sinful, love (for God and the other person) demands that you refuse to go there.

When God says to FLEE sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:18 He is not joking around. The purpose of foreplay (sexual activity proceeding intercourse) is to prepare for sex. Since you’re not married and therefore not ready for sex, pressing the boundaries with foreplay will only bring about greater temptation and frustration, not greater love. He calls you to do a 180-degree turn from sin and not look back! Webster’s Dictionary defines the word flee as “to run away from danger or evil; to hurry toward a place of security.” God is calling you to run away from potential sin and toward Him – your only hope for security!

Instead of asking, “how far is too far?” how about asking, “How much can I save in order to honor God with my body?”

Scripture for further encouragement: 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, Hebrews 10:24, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Jeremiah 17:9

 

 

Setting the Pace for Grandkids

Impacting the Faith of Future Generations Through Family Devotions

I LOVE having my grandkids at my house for an overnight!  We watch movies, eat popcorn and stay up late playing card games.  It brings joy to my heart to love on these children.  But I know my “job” as a grandmother goes far deeper.  I have been called by the Lord to impact their young hearts for Him.  I cannot assume they will follow in my footsteps in the faith.

Do you know that 75% of children raised in Christian churches leave the church by the age of 25 (Barna, Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions)? These are the children who go to Sunday School every Sunday and become the leaders of their Youth Group. Yet statistics show once they live independently from their home, often they abandon their church and their faith.

Studies reveal that parents modeling and teaching their faith in the home are the number one influence encouraging their children to keep their faith.  Grandparents are a close second.  Surprisingly, youth pastors are a distant third source of impact. 

Yes, we grandparents have been assigned by the Lord the eternally important job of passing to our grandchildren our faith in Jesus Christ.

The question, then, for grandparents is how do we effectively impact the hearts of our grandchildren?  One of the most powerful ways is reading the Bible together.  I call these times “Family Devotions”.  These moments include reading a Bible story followed by prayer time.  Oh, I know life is hectic and busy.  It is easy to think we cannot cram one more thing into a day.  But time together in the presence of the Lord is invaluable.  It is worth every minute and every effort.  It builds a legacy of faith.

We begin our family time with one or two familiar songs. Next, we read our story.  As my grandchildren age, I transition from Bible storybooks to the Bible.  We talk for a few minutes about the meaning of the story.  Usually, I ask three questions.  What does this story (or passage) say about God?  What does it say about me?  What does it say about my relationship with God?  In the closing moments of our Devotions, we grab hands and pray.  Our prayers consist of some “thank you’s” followed by some “please help us, Lord, with …”.  The children often fill in the blanks.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Actually, it is.  Effective Family Devotions doesn’t require a long time.  Usually, shorter is better.  BUT we all have an Enemy who will diligently attempt to thwart the time between a grandparent and his grandchild in the presence of the Lord.  I know!  Personally, I struggle with this discipline.  Often, I am the one who is nodding off.  Not my four or five-year-old grandchild.

However, I am determined to stand strong.  I long to leave to my children and grandchildren a legacy of loving God’s Word.  One day, when I am in the full presence of the Lord and my family remains on the face of this earth, my prayer is that they will pick up their Bibles.  As the pace had been set in our Family Devotions, may they gather their family remembering the moments I read and prayed with them.  

 “Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
Deuteronomy 4:9

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

The Dangers of Social Media on Relationships

Did you know that 20 percent of divorces involve Facebook? As a Facebook user myself, I was not surprised by this statistic. Facebook’s convenient social engagement – sometimes couched in the privacy of a message inbox – is an excellent way to stay in contact with old friends. But this convenience is also why Facebook can be dangerous for marriage. Brenda and I have a continual conversation on this topic. Social media is largely harmless, but if not approached with discretion it leads many down a path of emotional (and even physical) infidelity. We are not blind to this potential – and you shouldn’t be either.

Social media may not always be used in positive ways. Understanding the pitfalls can help you be aware of the potential dangers of social media on today’s relationships. Darren Adamson, PhD, LMFT, Chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Sciences at Northeastern University, lays out three potential dangers facing couples:

1.Social media serves as a distraction from focusing on the interactions that nurture relationships. “Social media use can become compulsive,” explains Adamson, “making it difficult to manage the amount of time spent on it.” In one study, American college students describe abstaining from social media the same way they describe drug and alcohol withdrawal—cravings, anxiety, feeling jittery.

2. People share their best lives on social media, so couples sometimes compare their mundane lives with other’s exciting lives, which can create destructive comparisons. “This can lead to discouragement with one’s primary relationship,” says Adamson. That discouragement can lead to conflict, fear, unrealistic expectations—why can’t you be like the partner portrayed in the social media posts? —or an overall discontentment with the relationship.

3. There is the potential for another relationship that looks so much better than the primary relationship. This can lead to extra-couple relationships that ultimately can destroy your marriage.

Guidelines for Maintaining a Healthy Balance Between Social Media and Relationships

As evidenced by couples who do use social media to their advantage, it is possible to have healthy relationships and be actively involved in social media. In fact, a 2013 study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people who share information about their relationship on Facebook were comfortable in their relationship. However, that setting guidelines on how to effectively use social media can mean the difference between a healthy use of social media in a relationship and taking it into the danger zone.

1.Don’t use social media as a negative point of comparison for your relationship. If you feel compelled to make comparisons involving your relationship compare where your relationship is today with what it was like a year ago—or five or ten years ago for those in a long-term relationship. Let the results of the comparison prompt changes in behavior that can build your relationship.

2.Spend time nurturing your relationship. Do things that create closeness in your relationship and do them regularly without distraction. This means leaving the cell phone/tablet at home—out of sight and out of mind. The distraction factor is one of the biggest challenges with social media. According to a study by Scientific American, the presence of a cell phone/tablet can be detrimental to interpersonal relationships.

3. Do not maintain a separate social media life. Share your social media world with your husband or wife. Spouses should not just share passwords – they should keep no secrets on social media. All messages, groups, and statuses should be open to your spouse. Just as it would be unsafe to keep secrets with a “real life” friend of the opposite sex, it is equally dangerous to keep even the smallest secrets from your spouse online. This may seem extreme, but in the world of social media we cannot be too careful. The protection of a screen gives a false sense of security, privacy, and even intimacy. This is why Brenda and I have a continual conversation about our social media channels, updating one another on who messaged us, what we’ve said lately, and the news we’ve received.

Social media is a part of our modern society, but there are also dangers in social media if couples let it get out of control. One thing you must keep in mind that social media is exactly what the name implies—media. It is not a separate and distinct world. It does not sustain relationships, because it is based on virtual reality that, by its nature, is not able to support the activities required to make a relationship work. That is up to you as individuals, and it still requires old-fashioned hard work and time invested in your relationship to make it thrive!

When Equality Does not Mean Equality

I am not a political activist, nor do I intend to become one. There is a difference, however, between being an activist and standing up for the truth, especially when it is suppressed and impacts our children. That is never more necessary than when powerful people seek to change foundational truths created by our Creator in an attempt to shut down any conversations or disagreements about a matter of utmost importance.

Such is the case with a recent announcement by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to give its full support to the proposed Equality Act through a celebrity driven video campaign. Contrary to what its name implies, the Equality Act soon to be introduced by House Democrats proposes anything but equality. As Andrew Walker wrote for The Gospel Coalition, this bill represents the “most invasive threat to religious liberty ever proposed in America” and “equates Christian ethics with hatred and bigotry.”

You may be wondering why I would bother with this topic in a blog about grandparenting. The reason is simple: God instructs us to teach our grandchildren the truth. For two decades I have talked about and written about this biblical mandate God gave to parents and grandparents for all times. We are mandated to tell the next generations the truth about who God is, what God has done and why He has done it. That includes the truth about who we are as male and female created in God’s image.

Fight for the Truth

If another generation is to know the truth—ALL of God’s truth, including what He says about sexuality and gender—it won’t be because our politicians and lawmakers are proclaiming it. It won’t be because celebrities promote it. It will be because godly men and women boldly and faithfully make it known generation to generation. But let us also remember that we teach and fight for what is true because it is true, not because it suits us or our ‘cause’.

We are responsible to teach our grandchildren the Gospel and the truth about things like God’s view of sexuality and gender. When a culture or a nation forces a lie on our children, we need to fight for the truth. That does not mean being vicious, unkind or unwilling to listen to other opinions. It does mean knowing what is true and boldly standing up for what is true, not just for Christians, but for all men.

Andrew Walker is right when he says, “Christians need to do a much better job of explaining the rationale and merits of their beliefs around gender and sexuality. We do not believe these are sectarian truths applicable only to Christians. Rather, we believe how God patterned creation in Genesis is the blueprint for human flourishing. If we don’t contend for the legitimacy and rationality of our views, they’ll end up being sidelined as intolerant and harmful—to the detriment of all.”

So, grandparents, I encourage you to engage with your grandchildren about these matters. Be ready to explain what God says and why it is important to believe what he says. Below are links to two articles I recommend reading, and a book I believe can be helpful to you in these conversations. These are conversations we need to have because they are conversations others are already initiating with your grandchildren in the public arena. We can’t afford to be lulled asleep on these matters for the sake of our grandchildren.

Important Resources

The Equality Act Accelerates Anti-Christian Bias by Andrew Walker

BreakPoint: The Equality Act vs. Religious Freedom by John Stonestreet

A Practical Guide to Culture: Helping the Next Generation Navigate Today’s World by John Stonestreet

GRANDPAUSE: Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.(Nehemiah 4:14)