Archive for May, 2013

Questions and Answers About Marriage, Part 2

May 28, 2013

Title: Questions and Answers About Marriage 2

Text: Genesis 2:18, 2:22-24, Malachi 2:16

Time: May 23rd, 2013

I’m trying to teach on the subject of marriage because there is so much confusion in our society today about it. Not only is the institution of marriage in decline due to the extremely high rate of divorce, but it’s very foundations are beginning to crumble with this new thing called gay marriage. People are genuinely confused about marriage today. Most young couples don’t even bother to get marry today, but instead just live together in what used to be called “living in sin.” It’s not that marriages are merely failing – that’s bad enough – but also that the whole concept of marriage is being questioned like never before. Some people seem to feel that marriage is something whose time has come . . . and gone. It’s no longer useful for society anymore, so they say. However, from a strictly sociological point of view it’s way too early to even make a judgment about whether the demise of marriage is a harmless thing, as some think. From a Christian biblical viewpoint, marriage is not only important; it’s essential to the plan and purpose of God for men and women. Last week I raised and tried to answer three important questions about marriage that are relevant today. This morning I’ll try to answer three more questions that people ask about marriage in the modern world. First, if marriage is so important in God’s plan, why is it failing so badly today? Second, if marriage is so important in God’s plan, why is so little said about it in the Bible? Third, if marriage is so important in God’s plan, why is there so much divorce in the Christian church? It’s clear from the Bible that marriage is very important in the plan of God for men and women on earth. Starting in the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we see God bringing together Adam and Eve into holy matrimony. No, there is no wedding ceremony per se described in the Bible, no ritual or traditional vows like we are familiar with today, and no well developed theology of marriage that after two thousand years of reflection has been produced; but nonetheless, there is clearly the concept of men and women coming together under the authority of God and before witnesses in order to make life-long promises of love and faithfulness to one another. We must not be misled by the absence of specific details of marriage in the Bible to conclude that the Bible doesn’t teach the essentials of marriage – it does. God hasn’t left men and women in the dark concerning this most primary of social relationships. Everything essential that we need to know about marriage is taught clearly in the Bible, although we must also thank God for the important work of systematic reflection that theology has done over the last two thousand years. We might say that God has given us his wedding gifts in the Bible, but it is for Christians to open these up and use them to his glory. So we might say God gives us the essential resources concerning marriage in the Bible, and then the Christian church unpacks these gifts generation after generation to apply the truths in culturally relevant ways. So what’s wrong with marriage today? Why are so many marriages failing today? We must address these and other questions in order to make sense of the importance of marriage today. Like I said before, we need to teach all the more about the basics of marriage today because, frankly, even in the midst of a highly educated society, there’s a lot of ignorance about the basic truths of marriage. Let’s look at three questions that are raised today, and hopefully appreciate in a greater way God’s will for marriage. (more…)

Questions and Answers About Marriage, Part 1

May 16, 2013

Title: Questions and Answers About Marriage

Text: Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Samuel 1:1-2, John 4:16-18

Time: May 9th, 2013

The present moment represents a “teachable moment” for the Christian church concerning marriage, because of all the talk about redefining marriage to include same-sex couples. It seems like marriage is the topic of conversation all over, on TV, radio, Internet, newspapers, magazines, the water cooler at work, and even over the fence in the neighborhood – although it’s mostly about so-called “gay marriage.” What greater time for Christians to talk about real marriage, heterosexual marriage, biblical marriage, the kind God instituted from the very beginning of the human race? The trouble is that Christians aren’t talking about real biblical marriage, and Christian churches aren’t teaching about it either. During this “teachable moment,” while marriage is on everyone’s mind, the Christian church seems to be trying to avoid the subject in order to dodge any negative feedback or controversy from the culture. Instead of ramping up the teaching on marriage inside churches, and addressing the topic of marriage for the general culture, churches are seemingly doing everything in their powers to avoid talking about marriage. Why? Because traditional, biblical marriage is unpopular today – or so it seems.  The winds of popular opinion are blowing away from Christian marriage and towards secular or pagan same-sex marriage; anyone who teaches against gay marriage is criticized, marginalized, and rejected by mainstream culture today. So in response, pastors, church leaders, and denominational administrators have tried as best they can to avoid talking about marriage in order to avoid any cultural rejection of stigma. They are trying to avoid being called bigots, homophobes or worse. As a result, during the “teachable moment” the Christian church has of teaching the culture the correct and true definition of marriage, instead of being relevant, Christians are avoiding risk and playing it safe by keeping silent or offering “no comment” during the whole time. Only a few scattered voices are attempting to teach on the topic of real marriage, while the vast majority of Christian voices are doing all they can to stay under the radar for the time being. What a shame! What a wasted opportunity. Yes, it carries risk to address the topic of marriage from a biblical perspective these days, but the risk is worth it in order to get the truth out to people who are uninformed at best or just plain hostile at worst. As Christians we are called by God to bear witness to the truth, to let our lights shine before men, and teach people God’s Word in season and out. We have a great opportunity now to bring God’s truth to bear on an important topic, so let’s do it. I hope to do a little bit of teaching on biblical marriage today, as time permits. Please join me as I ask and answer a few basic questions about marriage.  (more…)

Whoever Disowns Me Before Men, I Will Disown Before My Father In Heaven

May 8, 2013

Title: Whoever Disowns Me Before Men, I Will Disown Before My Father In Heaven

Text: Matthew 10:32-39

Time: May 2nd, 2013

We are presently engaged in one of the fiercest moral and spiritual struggles all of us have seen in our lifetime. It’s the battle for morality and decency and Christian spiritual truth against the immoral, secular force of homosexuality. I’m tired of talking about this subject. I wish I could move on and talk about all the other important things God teaches us from his Word, but this is where the battle is at this specific time and place. Whether we like it or not we are in the midst of a moral and spiritual war for the hearts and souls of Americans. We’re also in a battle over whether Christianity and the  Christian Church will stand for its own truth, or whether it will compromise so badly that it doesn’t deserve to even be called Christian. It’s not just that more and more people in society are sympathetic to homosexuality and gay marriage, it’s that Christians of all strips are beginning to question Christian moral teachings on the subject. And from the looks of it, many or even most are starting to become sympathetic to the homosexual agenda! So in other words, it’s simply not the case that Christians and the church are merely battling against a secular and anti-Christian secular society for the truth of the Bible in respect to moral values; it’s more the case that Christians are trying to convince fellow Christians to stand on the courage of their own convictions in respect to morality in general, and against homosexuality in particular. The problem is that large segments of Christianity are caving in on the moral values of the Bible, and compromising on basic rights and wrongs. While society in general is overturning the basic Judeo-Christian prohibition against homosexuality, Christians are largely silent on the whole topic. Worse still, many Christians are actually beginning to support the right of gays to marry on the grounds that it’s only fair that we grant them the same rights as others. Hardly any Christians are speaking up very strongly in opposition to this immoral revolution taking place in society. When I think of this situation, I think of the biblical passage in the New Testament, the words of Jesus spoken in Matthew 10:32-33, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” What does it mean to confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Does it merely mean affirming a narrow gospel definition that Jesus died on the cross for sinners? Or a specific and wholly personal experience of asking Jesus to come in to my heart? Doesn’t it also mean not only confessing Christ in words, but also in deeds, morally and ethically? If so, how can a Christian confess Christ while at the same time defending or even promoting immorality, like homosexuality? If Christ isn’t Lord of all, he’s not Lord at all – as the saying goes. We need to realize that confessing Christ means standing for the truth of God even in a hostile environment. That’s what made the martyrs of the past so special – they stood for Christ even when it cost them their life. Let me explain what I believe it means to confess Christ in the midst of our present day moral meltdown in the United States. (more…)

Why Can’t The Church Make Up Its Mind On Morality?

May 2, 2013

Title: Why Can’t The Church Make Up Its Mind On Morality?

Text: John 8:3, 9-11, Romans 3: 10, 23, 1 Corinthians 14:8

Time: April 29th, 2013

So-called “gay marriage” is sweeping the country, at least according to all the mainstream media outlets on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and the Internet.  Politicians are running to align themselves with the popular trends. Even the Republic Party, traditionally conservative in its values and convictions, is being swept up into the gay marriage push. Some mainstream Republican leaders are now backing the legalization of gay marriage. Amidst all of this where is the Christian church? It’s generally nowhere to be seen or heard. Where are prominent Christian pastors and leaders? Where are representatives of Christian institutions such as colleges, seminaries, publishing houses and media outlets? Where are the major voices of Christianity in newspaper editorials, TV talk shows, radio programs and other public forums? Nowhere seen or heard. In the midst of one of the most monumental and disturbing moral shifts ever experienced in Western Civilization, certainly in the United States, where are the Christian voices of opposition? Yes, we saw and heard opposition out in California during the battle for Proposition 8, a referendum that would limit marriage to man and woman, thus excluding gay couples from holy matrimony. Yes, there was Christian witness to that. But after it’s defeat by the courts, there hasn’t been much opposition to gay marriage coming from any Christian voice. Of course, there is the reality that any Christian who chooses to speak out against the perversion of marriage, against so-called gay marriage, is either marginalized or completely ignored by the mainstream media. There is, of course, this reality. But still, that doesn’t explain the almost total absence of prominent, and even not so prominent, Christians speaking in opposition. Is it because Christians think any opposition to the overwhelming trend towards gay marriage is futile? Perhaps this is why Christians aren’t more vocal in opposition. But I suspect there is a far deeper and profound reason why more Christians, especially Christian leaders, aren’t more passionately and vigorously fighting against the moral evil of gay marriage. It’s because they are truly confused about the issue. At this time, the Christian church, in general, is sending mixed signals to those inside and outside the church. On the one hand, Christians believe that God forgives sin, even the vilest of sins; so therefore, he forgives the homosexual. On the other hand, more and more Christians are buying into the popular notion that God makes some people gay – or in other words, making people attracted to members of the same sex. So for these Christians, it seems that if God made them that way, it’s no sin. When these two understandings mix in the Christian church they produce confusion, and this goes a long way in explaining why Christians and Christian leaders aren’t objecting strongly over the immoral revolution taking place in our country over gay marriage. But let me explain this problem in more detail, hopefully helping us form stronger convictions against gay marriage. (more…)