Some ramblings on LGBTQ

A short time ago, I posted a message about the Supreme Court ruling on a Christian baker’s right not to create a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage (see here), and I felt led to write ramble a bit more about the subject of homosexuality.

I can remember reading an Ann Landers column in 1969 when I was thirteen-years-old and she was discussing homosexuality. I had no clue what that word meant and had to ask one of my older sisters. My, how things have changed!

The Bible clearly teaches homosexuality is a sin:

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” – Romans 1:26-27

At the independent fundamental Baptist church we attended back in the 1980s, the pastor often railed against gays. This was during the outbreak of AIDS/HIV and everyone was tense. There was a family that attended our church comprised of a father, mother, and four children; two boys and two girls. The two boys were noticeably on the effeminate side and the youngest one, in his early teens, was flamboyantly so. He was actually more feminine in his mannerisms than his sisters and I say that without exaggeration. As the family sat in the auditorium while the pastor railed against gays, I felt increasingly sorry for them. Did the youngest boy turn out to be so effeminate because of biology or because of conditioning? The pastor’s constant harangues against homosexuality was one of the (many) reasons we finally left that church.

Flash forward to 2014. We began attending a small Southern Baptist church and the young pastor was very troubled about an issue. An older couple who were members had a son who was unapologetically gay. He argued that homosexuality cannot be a sin if a person is born with same sex attraction. The parents went to the pastor and asked if homosexuality was a sinful choice or a biological condition. The pastor began scouring through research materials that attributed the documented decline of testosterone levels in males to the rise of toxins in the environment, beginning with industrialization. I pointed out to him that homosexuality was rampant in ancient Greek and Roman societies where modern toxins were certainly not a factor and testosterone levels were probably relatively high compared to our society.

Some rambling thoughts and questions:

  • Are some people born with a genetic proclivity for homosexuality as the LGBTQ community argues or is attraction to the same sex learned/conditioned/chosen? Researchers are still looking for a genetic factor for same-sex attraction.
  • Are boys who grow up in homes with absent fathers or very domineering mothers more inclined to homosexuality?
  • Some heterosexuals resort to homosexuality when they are deprived of opposite-sex partners (e.g., in a prison environment), but return to heterosexuality when conditions change. Isn’t that an example of homosexuality via conditioning?
  • Will the growing acceptance of homosexuality by society result in an increasing percentage of homosexuals as impressionable children and teens are being taught that same-sex relationships are positive and perhaps even preferred?

“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” – Romans 1:32

  • Do low testosterone levels in men necessarily equate to homosexuality? I’m guessing many homosexual men have high testosterone levels and strong sex drives. Contrary to my opening observation, I don’t believe it’s accurate to say a more sensitive nature in a male guarantees homosexual inclinations nor does an exaggerated macho nature guarantee heterosexual inclinations.

This is a fallen world and sin abounds, with homosexuality being only one form. Ideally, males should be attracted to females – if in doubt, just check the biological equipment – and sex should follow after marriage. That is God’s plan. But God’s plan is being increasingly ignored and even flouted. Premarital sex abounds and begins at younger and younger ages. Cohabitation is preferred over marriage. Homosexuality is now without restraint. Most everyone has someone in their extended family who is openly gay. Homosexuals are campaigning to be accepted and affirmed within the church. We are inundated with examples via the media of adults and children changing genders. The world is an increasingly disturbing place.

As Christians, we need to firmly stand upon God’s Word and not compromise with sin, but the love of God and the hope we have in Christ must also be part of our message. I don’t condemn homosexuals because I am a totally depraved sinner saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. We must introduce our gay family members and friends to the Savior.

Ramble over. Comments welcomed.

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Does God adopt us into His family, but then give us the boot when (not if) we misbehave?

Many people erroneously claim that ALL people are God’s children.

“We are all children of God. Everyone! Everyone!” – pope Francis, April 12, 2018

Yes, all people are certainly God’s creation, but according to Scripture, only those who are spiritually reborn by God’s grace through saving faith in Christ Jesus alone can become God’s children:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” – John 1:12-13

Born-again believers are ADOPTED into God’s family and become joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). Hallelujah!

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15

“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. – Romans 8:23

“to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” – Galatians 4:5

“he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” – Ephesians 1:5

So the question is, would God ever disown or disinherit someone who has genuinely repented of their sin and placed their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone and been born-again in Christ? The Lord Jesus Christ answered that question:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30

A teaching of Roman Catholicism is that everyone who is baptized into their church is “born-again” and becomes a child of God, but they immediately forfeit their place in God’s family every time they commit a mortal sin. If they confess their mortal sins to a priest, they are then readmitted into God’s family. Hence they are in God’s family one week, then out of God’s family the next. Then in, then out. In and out, in and out, in and out, etc., etc., etc. Catholicism is a never-ending religious revolving door because, although they speak of grace (administered via the sacraments), salvation is ultimately merit-based, which is a worthless foundation of sinking sand.

There are even some groups within evangelicalism that teach that genuine, born-again followers of Christ can lose their salvation. We all follow the Lord imperfectly, so where exactly is the dividing line between remaining in God’s family and being disinherited? It appears to me that, for these groups, although they profess Christ, salvation is also ultimately merit-based. How do I explain someone who allegedly professed Christ, but has no fruit in their life? They never genuinely trusted in Christ and were not born-again.

Praise the Lord, I am a child of God, not because of anything I have done, but because of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and His imputed perfect righteousness. I now joyfully follow the Lord in obedience, albeit imperfectly.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Just a very short post to say Happy Mother’s Day! to all the moms, step-moms, and grandmas out there! Your family loves and cherishes you!

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” – Proverbs 31: 28-30 

I first learned about unconditional love from my Mom and I remember her with love today.

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Hanging onto “stuff”

My parents were typical of many older folks in that they didn’t properly plan out their senior years. After they retired, they remained in their large, four-bedroom house where they had raised six children. My Dad wanted to downsize, but my Mom was as stubborn as a mule and wouldn’t consider moving. When they reached their eighties, they began spending the winters with my sister down in Florida. As their health problems became more challenging, they finally reached a point where they weren’t able to make the return trip in the Spring from Florida back to New York. It was then left to sonny boy – yours truly – to clean out the old homestead and prepare it for sale.

From the basement to the attic, that house was CHOCK FULL of every big and small knick knack imaginable. My parents grew up during the Depression and didn’t believe in throwing anything out. Why didn’t my parents plan for this? What were they thinking? They had thirty years of retirement to prepare.

Why do any of us collect and save certain things? We do take great pleasure in the “stuff” we accumulate. Our self-worth is intrinsically wrapped up in the things we possess. I’m an avid reader and over the years I had filled several bookcases with the books I had read. I knew that I would never read or reference most of those books again, but I was compelled to hang onto them and even display them as trophies. Spurred on by my parents’ bad example, I’ve drastically thinned out my book collection over the last two years by selling most of them via Amazon’s third-party seller program (a future post).

This past week, I finally got around to sorting through my CDs and DVDs, many of which I hadn’t listened to or watched in ten or fifteen years. With each item, I asked myself if I would honestly ever listen to it or watch it ever again and more often than not the answer was no. But it was still a struggle to say good-bye to those old “friends.” When I took the boxes of CDs and DVDs to the used record store, they rejected half of them and gave me $40 for the rest. I didn’t even want to think about how much money I had spent in amassing that collection. I had watched most of the DVDs only once.

Since I was still in the mood to toss things, I also looked at my stack of plastic storage containers in the basement that my wife is always asking me to thin out. One was full of textbooks and workbooks from classes I had taken at Kodak in the 1980s. Back then, the company was beginning to encounter many challenges to its picture-taking monopoly, primarily from overseas, and those classes taught leaner, more efficient methods of production as a means to try to stay competitive. As you all know, the company was eventually overwhelmed by digital technology. So why was I hanging onto these obsolete textbooks and workbooks from thirty years ago? I was very proud of having taken those classes and becoming certified in lean manufacturing methods, which I was later able to use towards attaining a college degree. Those books that I hadn’t opened in thirty years had once meant a great deal to me, but there was absolutely no good reason for me to keep them any longer. Into the trash they went.

I’ll continue to chip away at my collections of “stuff” so that our sons won’t eventually have to. I can testify from experience that many/most of the things we treasure so highly will be unceremoniously tossed into a roll-off dumpster by our children without a second thought.

As Christians, our worth doesn’t come from things, but only from Jesus Christ. Sure, it’s fun to have collections of things we actually use and enjoy, but many times we hang onto “stuff” for no good reason.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:1-3

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

Balancing blogging with “real life”

Lately, I’ve seen a few notices from Christian bloggers like the example above, in which the person announced they were disengaging from all social media because they felt like the activities were overtaking their lives.

I don’t have a smart phone nor do I have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest account, but I have posted on the WordPress blogosphere most every day for the last thirty-three months. I view my blog as a ministry from the Lord, providing content that’s getting harder and harder to find in this increasingly ecumenical era. I enjoy researching the subject material and writing. Oh, if the nuns could see me now! I also enjoy reading others’ postings and I’m regularly blessed by the blogs that I subscribe to. I purposely limit the number of blogs I follow because I actually do try to read the postings and there’s only so much time in the day.

I’ve been very blessed by many bloggers over the past three years, too many to name. I’ve shared personal thoughts and struggles and have been blessed by prayers and encouragement. It’s also a blessing to encourage others and uphold them in prayer. We’ve had some disagreements, but that happens in a family. The Lord has often taught me humility through brothers and sisters who hold opposing views. No, I definitely don’t have the “final word” in regards to secondary doctrinal beliefs. Friends have come and gone over the last three years. Some people stop writing for various reasons. With others, the theological (or other) differences turn out to be too wide to bridge. I also realize a blog such as mine rubs many the wrong way these days. As I’ve shared before, when it comes to theology I’m a bit of a square peg in that I’m too “liberal” for fundamentalists and too “conservative” for ecumenists.

So what am I getting at with all of this? Many Christians here at WP also see their blogging activity as a ministry and more than worthy of their time and effort. But, as I’m reminded by these recent “farewell” postings, social media can also easily overtake our lives, drawing us away from our relationships with our family and “non-virtual” friends and even from our time with the Lord. The tail sometimes ends up wagging the dog. Over the last three years, I’ve struggled to properly prioritize the time I spend here at WP as I’m sure many of you have also. We all need to find the proper balance, right? How have you successfully managed your blogging time?

A few more random thoughts:

  • Most bloggers enjoy having their posts read and “liked.” Most importantly, we pray our posts might have an impact on the lost. It’s enjoyable to encourage others and to be encouraged, but I realized a long time ago that my subject material by its very nature isn’t going to garner a lot of  followers and “likes.” So my motivation ultimately has to be to please the Lord.
  • Isn’t it amazing when someone “likes” your 700-word post three seconds after you’ve published it? That’s fast reading!
  • Blogging can be profitable if you accumulate enough followers. One of the strategies of becoming a popular blogger is to “follow” a multitude of blogs and hit the “like” button on as many posts as possible and hope for reciprocation. Caralyn at beautybeyondbones has been faithfully “liking” my posts for three years although I doubt she has actually read a single one of them since we’re worlds apart theologically. Damien at mrdparrott was doing the same for awhile.
  • My wife would rather see me working on projects around the house than blogging, so I write most of my posts when she’s sleeping or out of the house. My wife knows I maintain a blog, but has no interest in reading my posts. Well, that’s one way of keeping me humble.
  • Anytime we create something, there’s always the temptation to be prideful rather than giving credit to our Creator.
  • I recently decided to take Mondays off from blogging. A second day is a future possibility. I think the break will be a healthy respite. I’m also trying to limit my posts to 500 words for my benefit and the benefit of readers. Whoops! So much for good intentions! I’m already 200 words over!
  • The souls we interact with on the internet are no less “real” than those in the non-virtual world.

Are Roman Catholics Saved?

 

Are Roman Catholics saved? If you asked them, just about all Roman Catholics would tell you quite bluntly that they certainly are NOT saved, but that they are trying, with the help of their church’s sacraments, to obey the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church laws in order to remain in a mortal-sinless “state of grace” so as to be able to merit Heaven at the moment of their death. Catholics talk about “grace” and “faith,” but how they understand those terms is completely different than how Bible Christians understand them. Christians are saved, not by anything we have done, but by the imputed perfect righteousness of our Savior, Jesus Christ. After we have repented of our sins and accepted Christ as Savior by faith alone, we then strive to follow Him in obedience as Lord, albeit imperfectly.

Two weeks ago, I posted the excellent short video, “What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants?,” from the evangelical apologetics ministry, Got Questions. See here. Today, I’m posting another excellent, short 7-minute video, “Are Roman Catholics Saved?,” from the evangelical apologetics ministry, CARM (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry). I hope you are blessed by this video.


 

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Living Biblically
CBS, Monday Nights, 9:30 EST
Episode #4, Thou Shalt Not Steal, March 19th

Last night, I was able to watch episode #4 of the new CBS comedy, “Living Biblically,” via on-demand. Remember, the premise of this show is that Chip, a Roman Catholic and a self-confessed “good person,” desires to be an even better person by strictly adhering to Biblical precepts. In this episode, “Thou Shalt Not Steal,” Chip starts off, just like in previous installments, by being judgmental about others. But with the help of his “god squad” advisors (a priest and rabbi who pontificate at the neighborhood saloon), Chip confronts his own routine acts of thievery such as cable theft (so he and his wife can watch “Game of Thrones”) and stealing office supplies from his workplace. Chip decides to return every item he’s ever stolen and manages to annoy his wife and co-workers with his scrupulosity. The rabbi counsels the frustrated Chip, telling him, “Maybe the reason people are so upset is because, in trying to live YOUR life by the Bible, you keep futzing with theirs.” No Gospel here, folks.

By the way, here’s a relevant article on the extremely popular, “Game of Thrones,” from Kevin DeYoung.

What are the differences between Catholics and Protestants?

 

Just what are the differences between Catholics and Bible Christians? Some people may not want to wade through a 400-page book on the topic, but here’s an excellent 8-minute video from the folks at Got Questions that briefly touches on four of the major differences listed below:

  • Authority
  • The pope
  • How a person is saved
  • Purgatory

Newsflash: Six-year-old slam dunks her granddad in debate!

Our six-year-old granddaughter spent the night this past Saturday. Part of the festivities included a trip to the movie theater to see “Peter Rabbit.” In today’s children’s movies, they usually slip in enough “color” to keep the adults chuckling, so I actually stayed awake for the entire 90-minutes. After the movie ended, we drove around looking for a bite to eat. Being Saturday evening, every restaurant was packed with a line winding out the door. We eventually passed a submarine sandwich shop that I will call “Cahill’s” for the purpose of this story. But first we need to go back in time a bit for a few important details.

Our oldest son is a junk food connoisseur and knows every hamburger stand and pizza joint in the county. About a year ago, he came over to visit and told us about the great toasted sub he had at Cahill’s, which he incorrectly pronounced as “kuh-HILLS.” The sub shop has been a local institution since I was ten years old so I’m VERY familiar with it. I gently corrected my son and said the name should be pronounced as “KAY-hills.” He doubted me and ended up phoning the sub shop to settle the disagreement. As no surprise, they confirmed the correct pronunciation is “KAY-hills.”

Okay. Back to Saturday night. We’re driving past Cahill’s and our granddaughter says, “Look, there’s ‘kuh-HILLS.’ We could eat there.” Obviously, her Daddy continues to mispronounce the name in her company. For some reason, this ongoing error bothers me. Here’s the ensuing dialogue:

Grandpa: It’s not “kuh-HILLS,” honey, it’s pronounced “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandpa: Your Daddy and I have talked about this and he knows he was mistaken and that it should be pronounced as “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandpa: [turning around and making eye contact] I’m not joking around. I’m being serious with you now. The name of the restaurant is pronounced “KAY-hills.”

Granddaughter: No, it’s “kuh-HILLS.”

Grandma: [interjecting] Okay, okay. It doesn’t matter. Let’s all just have a good time!

Grandpa: [mumbling audibly] My, things have certainly changed.

Yes, I agree that a six-year-old boldly defying her grandfather over how to pronounce a word is hardly comparable to some of the drama experienced by families today, but I thought it was a (semi) humorous example of how kids today have fewer and fewer boundaries.

I was brought up in the 1960s and my parents were very strict when it came to us children showing proper courtesy and respect to adults, especially to someone like a grandparent. I wouldn’t have dreamed of talking back to one of my grandparents like that. We raised our two boys the same way. But these days, that’s all gone out the window. Most young children are raised in environments quite different from the “Leave It To Beaver” situation I grew up in. Homes, make that MANY homes, are broken, often with little structure. Children are allowed and often encouraged to speak to adults as peers. They don’t respect adult family members or their teachers the way we were trained. We see this kind of behavior not only in our other grandchildren, but in a lot/most of the children we encounter. Maybe it’s a good thing for children to speak up a little more than the way we were raised, but it’s gone to the extreme.

God’s Word speaks about children having proper respect for elders, parents, and grandparents. This is a fallen world. Society is moving farther and farther away from God’s standards. The traditional family has been under attack for decades. We pray for our granddaughter’s salvation and we will be telling her about Jesus often. The only time she will hear the name, Jesus Christ, within her home will be as a curse word.

“Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” – Proverbs 23:22

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” – Job 12:12

The well-spoken man: An allegory of Billy Graham

Yesterday afternoon, I was under the impression that I had posted all of my thoughts regarding Billy Graham (see here and here), until the short allegory below came to mind. Thank you for your interest. I won’t be posting anything more about Billy Graham.

Imagine yourself being on a large ship, the Queen Mary, in the middle of the ocean. It’s a warm, sunny day and you’re relaxing on deck, enjoying the ocean breeze, but suddenly the big ship shudders violently as it hits a reef. You scramble as you get into the Lifeboat* and warn your fellow passengers to do likewise. But a well-spoken man appears on deck and counsels the frazzled passengers with his confident and soothing voice to stay on the ship, telling them that it remains seaworthy and dependable. The passengers let out a collective sigh of relief and express their gratitude to the well-spoken man for allaying their fears. The ship’s captain also extends his enthusiastic thanks. Everyone returns to the ship’s interior. You yell from the Lifeboat, “What are you doing? The ship is sinking! Get into the Lifeboat!” The well-spoken man looks back for a quick second and gives you a wink and a smile. From your Lifeboat, you watch the ship sink into the ocean and all passengers appear to be lost.

*In this allegory, the Lifeboat has room for “whosoever will.”

“I certainly don’t need to be saved. I’m a good person.”

Have you ever shared the Gospel with a religious unbeliever and they shot back with something along the lines of, “I don’t need to be saved! I think I’m a relatively good person”? An unbeliever, whether religious or not, just does not see their depraved, sinful state and their desperate need of the Savior.

I’ve been slowly reading through Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.” It’s page after page of blessed teaching on the Lord’s great sermon that many people misunderstand. In the section I read last night, Lloyd-Jones compared the thoughts of the unbeliever with the attitude of a Christian. Here’s just a short excerpt:

“The natural man’s attitude towards morality is generally negative. His concern is that he should not do certain things. He does not want to be dishonest, unjust, or immoral. The Christian’s attitude towards morality is always positive; he hungers and thirsts after a positive righteousness like that of God Himself.

Or again, consider it in terms of sin. The natural man always thinks of sin in terms of actions, things that are done or not done. The Christian is interested in the heart. Did not our Lord emphasize that in this Sermon, when He said, in effect: ‘As long as you are not guilty of physical adultery you think you are all right. But I ask, What about your heart? What about your thoughts?’ That is the view of the Christian man. Not actions only, he goes beyond that to the heart.

What about the attitude of these two men towards themselves? The natural man is prepared to admit that perhaps he is not entirely perfect. He says: ‘You know I am not a complete saint, there are certain defects in my character.’ But you will never find a man who is not a Christian feeling that he is all wrong, that he is vile. He is never ‘poor in spirit,’ he never ‘mourns’ because of his sinfulness. He never sees himself as a hell-deserving sinner. He never says, ‘Were it not for the death of Christ on the cross, I would have no hope of seeing God.’ He will never say with Charles Wesley, ‘Vile and full of sin I am.’ He regards that as an insult, because he claims that he has always tried to live a good life. He therefore resents that and does not go as far as that in his self-condemnation.” – Martyn Lloyd-Jones from “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount,” Eerdmans Publishing, 1984, pp. 278-279

Roman Catholics and all religious unbelievers think they’re pretty good people and that they do a decent job of obeying the Ten Commandments. If you ask them, they will tell you.

“As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12

Am I good enough to go to heaven?
https://carm.org/am-i-good-enough-to-go-to-heaven