Monthly Archives: April 2010

Kay Warren says I’m damned! I need me some orphans, stat!

“Don’t call yourself a believer if you’re not caring for orphans”,  “If we are doing little to nothing, how dare we, how dare we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.”… “Followers of Jesus Christ care about widows and orphans and they understand that it is a litmus test…It is not an option.”

Those are the more salient points that Kay Warren, wife of Rick Warren, made at a recent Catalyst West conference. Let’s examine those statements a bit. The first thing of note is that she puts a great deal of emphasis on orphans, but not so much on widows. I find this a little surprising for a few reasons. The first is that caring for widows is mentioned far more often than caring for orphans in the scriptures. In the New Testament, orphans are only mentioned once, actually.  In fact, in almost every scripture that mentions caring for orphans and the fatherless, right along side is caring for widows. [and usually foreigners] They go hand in hand. There’s almost 30 verses in fact that have them side by side, such as ” Therefore the Lord will take no pleasure in the young men, nor will he pity the fatherless and widows, for everyone is ungodly and wicked, every mouth speaks vileness. Yet for all this, his anger is not turned away, his hand is still upraised.” Whoah! Sorry guys! Did NOT mean to post that one. That’s very, very unGodly of God. Let’s try again; “Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.” Zechariah 7:10. Much better.

If we were being consistent then, we wouldn’t just single one marginalized people group out, but it would hold true that the statement could and should read “Don’t call yourself a believer if you’re not caring for widows…  “If we are doing little to nothing, how dare we, how dare we claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.” I’ll be honest and say that when looking at the span of my Christian walk, I have not cared very much for widows. I suppose I have given tithes to the local church which is supposed to offer some monetary care for them, but I can’t be sure how much actually goes into the widow fund. And so in the grand scheme of things, were I being realistic, I would have to say that I have done little to nothing to help the widows. I also haven’t done anything that I know of for orphans. I mean, my wife and I do sponsor three children through world vision and compassion, but I can’t pretend that they are orphans. Don’t get me wrong- I wish they were orphans, as that would offer me a modicum of relief. But they’re not. I’m cursed to help care for children who have mothers and fathers, which means that I fail on that one too. Oh who am I kidding myself? I’m not a Christian at all. I mean, I know that I’ve repented of my damnable sins and put my faith and trust in Christ as the redeemer of my sins and the only one who could wash and justify and sanctify me, as he took my sins and he gave me his righteousness by grace alone through faith alone- but that doesn’t really count. What a fool I’ve been…how dare I claim to be a follower of Christ? His work on the cross clearly doesn’t maintain my salvation, rather it is dependent on how many orphans I adopt and care for. I wish Kay Warren would have told me this sooner. I’d better get on it! In fact, come to think of it, I certainly hope the orphans are caring for other orphans so they can be saved too! Oh man, sorry guys- I have to go! Gotta go find me an orphan to take care of, because if I get hit by a bus and die before that happens, I’m doomed!!!!

The Pride of Being Busy.

Something I’ve noticed in my own life, is that whenever someone asks me how I’m doing, or “How’s life treating you?” I’ll say that I am busy, or some variation thereof. Not only that, but typically I’ll list off what I have to do and go into great detail into the travails and hardships that it my life. I might say something like “Oh, I’m super busy. I have such a crazy week. I’m working overtime at work to get something done, and I have to go shopping for this and take care of that” and so forth. Usually if there is someone similar to me hearing this, they’ll inevitably try to one-up me and say “You think that’s bad!? I have to work 60 hours this week, I only slept three hours last night, and I have to take the kids to their doctors appointment. I then have to cook a meal for everyone on Thursday, not including having worship practice that night and I won’t get any sleep until then, and it’ll be a crazy busy week.” And if I’m the person hearing that- either myself or someone else will one up them “You think that’s busy!?I had to work back-to back over time shifts this week, and I’ll only get about 3 hours of sleep for the next 4 days, and I have to drive to edmonton and back on no sleep in 13 hours to bring my kids to a doctors apointment, then bring them right back for soccer, and then get back to work with an hour to spare to make my shift, and then I have to do….” and it just doesn’t end.

In that moment when someone asks me “how’s life?” I make busyness the first thing that defines me and what describes me. There’s  lot of reasons why this is, and if anyone is the same way I’m sure it wouldn’t take them long to come up with their own reasons as to why they feel the need to make busyness the big thing, and then to one-up people by regaling them with your own tale of overburdened misery. I suspect more than anything that it’s a pride issue. That’s what it boils down to. We take pride in how busy we are. We use it as a means to make it all about me. We speak of it almost as if it’s a badge of honor- as something that we should be proud of, and something that gives us worth. It’s almost like I want attention, or want people to feel sorry for me, and think “Wow, he has so much on his plate. He’s so busy. How does he do it?” Because even when I’m not that busy, I’ll still tell people I am. I might not really be that busy,  but I will exaggerate somewhat and overemphasize it and can make a simple, innocuous day or running a few errands sound like the Boston marathon that I have to run barefoot and backwards and with two broken legs. And it comes down to pride. And probably idolatry. I’m trying to find value in actions rather than in the cross of Christ. I’m trying to find validation in the sympathy of other people rather than finding my worth in my identity in Christ.

And so if you see me around, and you ask me how I’m doing, and I start to go off on that “I’m so busy” tangent; don’t let me. Call me on it. Some days I may genuinely have a lot on the go, but don’t let me regurgitate that to you as if I have it so bad, or as if the world will end if I don’t get everything done. I’m being prideful. And I know it. And I need good people around me to know it too, and to help me accountable and to help me slowly kill it in my life.

John Piper and the prosperity gospel

J.I. Packer Quote

“If our theology does not quicken the conscience and soften the heart, it actually hardens both; if it does not encourage the commitment of faith, it reinforces the detachment of unbelief; if it fails to promote humility, it inevitably feeds pride.  So one who theologizes in public, whether formally in the pulpit, on the podium or in print, or informally from the armchair, must think hard about the effect his thoughts will have on people — God’s people, and other people.  Theologians are called to be the church’s water engineers and sewage officers; it is their job to see that God’s pure truth flows abundantly where it is needed, and to filter out any intrusive pollution that might damage health.” J. I. Packer

Sermon Review. The Alliance Church. Bonnie Hodge. April 12, 2010.

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority  in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20.

And so begins the sermon by Bonnie Hodge. The sermon is structured around those verses, with the emphasis and the focus being on the phrase “go and make disciples.” We are told that we need to be disciples to make disciples, and that it is clear from scriptures that  God has called us to be disciplemakers. In order for us to do this however, we need to understand what the definition of a disciple is; which is a pupil- someone who is trained and taught by a leader. In our case, we’re all in school we are all pupils of Jesus, and as disciples we trying to imitate Christ.

To help us with our understanding of what a disciple is and does, she gives us several key words.

1. Decision. The first step to becoming a disciple is that we need to make a decision for Christ. We need to admit that we need Christ and admit that we are sinners and ask for forgiveness. We then must believe in God and confess that Jesus is Lord. In the initial setup, God has asked every person to make a decision for him, and this is what we must do.

2.Declaration. As disciples we ought to declare that we are children of God. We declare it to our friends and families and in our seal we confess to others that Jesus Christ is Lord. She quotes 2 Corinthians 3:18 which talks about how we we reflect or behold God’s glory and are transformed into his likeness. We declare that the old self has gone, and the new self is here, and that one way this happens is by water baptism. She also brings us Luke 15:7. “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance “ and says that there is a declaration in heaven when one sinner repents. Jesus sits at the right hand of the father, declaring and interceding on our behalf, and we need to declare that Christ has transformed us.

3. Disciplines. These are practices which allow us to see who Christ is and develop that relationship with him. They takes us from children with milk to men with meat, and therefore they are very important. She lists several daily disciplines, such as reading scripture, prayer, confession, worship, interacting with other believers, breaking bread, knowing core theology, and so forth.  These are a basis in our growth in Christ. These are things which we must aggressively pursue, not just passively receive.  As we get to know Christ more, our daily perspective changes, which changes who we are and develops a hunger for him. The closer we get to god, the more we will change.

4. Discipleship. Bonnie says that disciple-making is not a chore, but rather is a holistic consequence  that is borne out of being a disciple ourselves. She says that our purpose is to glorify god and make disciplines, and that to be a good discipler we need to be loving, evangelistic, teacher and encourager all in one. We don’t just tell people, but we need to be in relationship with people to do this effectively. Cell groups are a great way of doing this, as it allows for intimate one-one-one interactions and  time together.

5. Divine. None of the aforementioned steps could have happen without the Holy Spirit. She says [regarding personal salvation] that “unless God is with me there’s no way I could have made a decision.”  All those things that happen- decision, declarations and disciples are powered by the divine.

Bonnie concludes the sermon with the remarks that if we are not making disciples, we are not bearing fruit, and that we are a barren tree. We need to disciple each other and disciple new believers, and that it is important that this be a continual practice. We need to ask God to direct us and examine our hearts so we can see areas where we need to grow and develop and where we can disciple.


For the most part, I though this was a good and well presented sermon. I’m not crazy about the fact they they had a woman usurping the role of the man by preaching this to the congregation, but for what it was it was a decent sermon. I think the subject was a good one to preach on, though I think she could have used her own text a little bit better. After all, we are given a good definition of what a disciple is right after the text she chose to focus on. She might have put more emphasis and spoken on how and why we are to baptize new disciples, and that as the text says, a key element is teaching them all that Christ has commanded. Not just the parts we like, such as teaching about love and mercy and forgiveness, but on the hard parts, like divorce, judgment and hell, election of the sheep, eternal security and so forth. It would have been nice to get more attention there, but it didn’t significantly detract from her sermon either way.  As well, kudos on not using the Message Bible for her texts, but instead using a actual translation. I appreciated it dearly.

Not only that, but I found that the actual construction of the sermon to be very linear, easy to understand, and easy to retain. There were very few if any detractions or bunny trails, and instead it progressed from start to finish very nicely. As to the content, a few things stood out to me. The first was the gospel presentation. Though she did discuss sin and confession that Jesus is Lord, and though she did say [if I'm reading her correctly] that no man can come to Father without the Spirit, there still left much to be desired. If I was not a believer in that church, I would have only a vague idea of what salvation entailed, and even then my understanding would be fraught with errors and misinformation. And so she definitely could have been more thorough. As well, I completely disagree with this mindset that we “need to make decisions for Jesus” or that we need to “ask Jesus into our hearts.” Such language is completely foreign to the scriptures, as is the concept itself. It is very “man-centred” and not “Christ-sovereign centred”, and so I thought in that respect she could have done better. Another small issue, which isn’t really even an issue  but rather a admitted nitpick, is that she spent a lot of time discussing the change that Christians experience in Christ, and the whole time I was thinking “there’s a word for it…there’s a word in the bible that pops up everywhere called sanctification. Use that word!!!!” I know that’s a lame critique, but in a church full of believers, words like justification and sanctification should be readily understood and comprehended. On the other side, I thought she made a good point about how discipleship making should naturally flow out of a believer who is a disciple himself.  She’s also right that small groups are a good place to do that, providing there is pastoral oversight and they are doctrinally sound. Not only that, but I love and appreciate the emphasis on the power of the Holy Spirit to permeate and fuel all the outlined steps. Absolutely true! It is something that is completely necessary, and we will fail every time without it, and so I’m glad it was highlighted.

As a final thought, In my own life I think I tend to downplay the role of one-on-one discipleship. Part of the reason for that is because it seems to me that it is something that is overemphasized for less than stellar reasons. It seems the reason why people put so much expounding in the importance of this is because the preaching is so weak in many churches. That is to say that if the preaching was stronger, more biblical and practical, and was the masterpiece and centrepiece of the gathering- the brilliant and deep expounding of the Word and then the communion of saints- then that would take care of much of the need for personal discipleship. Not that it would eradicate it altogether- because I don’t believe  it ought to- but rather that it would temper much of the demand for a certain kind of discipleship, because they would be getting their fill [if such a thing were possible- it's not] of a different kind along with everyone else.  Making disciples is not made just one-on-one, but rather through the collective family of God as children of God together, sanctified by bearing and forgiving the sins of each other and by the rough-hewn edges of the preached scriptures. It seems to me that if this was in place, it would cut out much of the silly and inane discipleship, and instead would enable the full force of the sanctifying power of Christ to be displayed in the life of a man in a way not commonly seen.

In any case overall a good job .

Responding to IrisDawn on the topic of Homosexuality

I recently wrote an article about Jennifer Knapp coming out of the closet and revealing herself to have been engaged in a homosexual relationship with another woman for the better part of a decade. Somewhat surprisingly, I received a comment from a woman who clearly disagreed with the post, and made her feelings known in the comments section. As it were, I want to break that down a bit and make a few notes on the most salient points. Though as a disclaimer, while the post was written by our friend Irisdawm and presented as her own thoughts- It’s not. The thing was copied and pasted from several sources and are not original to her, though I don’t mind terribly, as it’s still not difficult to unpack.

Early on I talked about how homosexual acts were abominable. She countered with the fact that though Leviticus says homosexuality is an abomination, it also says that you shouldn’t plant two different seeds in the same hole, and that it is an abomination to eat a rabbit. Hopefully someone can help me out here, but I’ve never even heard of a scripture that forbids the planting of multiple seeds, and so if someone could find the reference [Irisdawn] I would be more than happy. As for the rabbit- this is part of the cacophony known as Old Testament dietary laws. You can thrown in carrion creatures, bats, mice, ostriches, cats, dogs etc in that list as well, as these were all forbidden to be consumed. In short- while were are not sure why exactly these were forbidden, we know that they were, and that God had a purpose for these. Most were used as a means of keeping the Jews separate from other people and cultures, as a way of maintaining their unique identities. They were a few dietary restrictions implemented at a particular time, for a particular length of time, for a particular people, for a particular purpose, and were repealed in the New Testament revelation as no longer binding. On the flip side you have something like homosexuality. The references to this being wicked spans the entirety of the Bible, has no restrictions,qualifiers or restraints, and is reinforced in the New Testament revelation with even stronger language than in the Old Testament.As it were, it really is a false dichotomy to try to play them off each other.

She later says, speaking about the Levitical references; “When the term abomination is used in the Hebrew bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong. It is never used to refer to something innately immoral. That’s not true even a little bit. A simple example is found in Leviticus 18, where we are given a long list of perversions and abominations. We are told that the abominations include; having sex with a close relative,  having sex with your mother, having sex with your step mother, having sex with your sister, having sex with your step-sister, having sex with your grandchildren, having sex with your aunt, having sex with your sister in law, having sex with your daughter in law, having sex with a woman and her daughter, having sex with a person of the same sex, having sex with a rival wife, having sex with your neighbours wife, having sex with animals, sacrificing your children to other gods. The scriptures flat out say “For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.” So that’s one thing. Are we to say that these things are not innately immoral, but rather are simply ritual issues? That these are not really abominations, but were only for that time, and that we can engage in any of those actions because we’re not bound by “Irrelevant Old Testament Ritual Morality” ? Ridiculous.  The second point is quite salient; are we to believe that all those things are wicked and vile and harmful to the soul, but that the one exception was having sex with the same sex. That that one is the exception. That everything else is terrible and immoral and sinful, but that one things squished between all the rest- that one is actually good and beautiful and glorious and pleasing to God and is part of his ideal for humanity?

The next chunk of space is dedicated to trying to explain away Romans 1. I suppose I should say that just because the translators of the NIV chose to use the word perverts as part of their dynamic translation, means very little. Every Literal and Formal translation of the Bible has some variation of “homosexual offenders.” Not only that, but the Greek “arsenokoitai” is still the same in both, so that point is really a non-issue. I find the shenanigans being played with the Greek meaning to be typical, so I won’t object on that point. Irisdawn concludes that the homosexual activity that Paul was talking about was homosexual activity between married men who had a boy on the side with which they had sex with. She also states that “there is in fact another word for homosexuality and homosexual acts, paiderasste. If Paul’s intent was to condemn committed and loving relationships, this would have been a much better choice of words. His audience was not educated, so to use a rare word like arsenokoitai when he could have used the much more commonly known paiderasste just doesn’t add up.”

Ironically enough, she has it quite backwards. It should be noted that yes, Paul indeed coined the arsenokoitai, but that shouldn’t bother us a bit. In fact, we should rejoice over it. Paul coined over 150 terms in the New Testament, and so to say that he invented a word isn’t an argument, especially when we see how he formed it. Paul used the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Greek translation of the Leviticus passages condemns a man [arseno] lying with [koitai] another man [arseno]. Paul joins these two words together into a neologism, a new word, and thus he condemns in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy what was condemned in Leviticus. It’s not remarkable at all when we see it in place. The two verses which condemn homosexual activity are as follows;

meta arsenos ou koimethese koitai gyniakos
(Lev 18:22)

hos an koimethe meta arsenos koitai gynaikos
(Lev 20:13)

When Paul adopted the term arsenokoite, he took it directly from the Levitical passages-in the Greek translation- forbidding homosexual behavior. The meaning, then, could not be clearer: Though the term is unique to Paul, it refers specifically to homosexual behavior. As for the argument about paiderastia being the better and more appropriate word, well, from what I can tell it doesn’t mean homosexual as in two adults in a same-sex relationship. Rather, it carries the meaning of  “lover of boys.” It is a particular word, with a particular meaning– “one who sodomizes boy children”. Look at the etymology. Break it down.  Paidos means child or boy and Erastes/ Erastai means love or lover. From this we get English words pederast and pedophile and pedophilia.

I’m not concerned with his whole “culture argument” that she’s bringing to the table-easily enough understood, but I am intrigued by this statement “You have to admit that there are at least some passages that either a) don’t apply today; b) still apply but don’t mean what they seem to mean on the surface; or c) are overruled by other passages or biblical themes.” Through a proper reading of scripture, employing proper foundational hermeneutics and the historical, grammatical method, this is not especially hard to do. Are there some things which don’t apply to us today? sure- the need for circumcision being one of them. Some passages we can have legitimate disagreements on [such as eschatological meanderings] but there are no passages that are overruled or rendered false by other passages and verses. That’s not how it works. We reconcile the Word to itself, not to our own subjectivity.

The example with Tom and Sam is a bit laughable to me and breaks down easy enough. The problem isn’t with the perception, but with the act itself. If homosexuality is indeed a sin [and absent hermeneutical gymnastics and desperate arguments to the contrary it indeed is sinful] then that make all the difference if such a sexual practice is in play. If you reverse it and plug “fornicating with my sister” instead of the gay angle, saying ” she’s not my sister, but my sister in Christ”, do we say that just because we misunderstood the first part, that the latter of having sex with one’s sister was not wicked? That it was just a matter of perceptions? I hope not.

Lastly, she missed the point of the “know them by their fruits”. Right now the end result of heterosexual marriages is a devastatingly high divorce rate, but do we say that heterosexual marriages are bearing bad fruit? No. I don’t know any Christ-centred gay couple, as I do not believe such a thing exists. Any such union is the result of a terrible turning away from God and a wilful disobedience to the word of God. These people are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. And because God gave people feelings and emotions and intellect, they may love each other, insomuch as they can understand it.  They may enjoy each other’s company and laugh a lot and adopt a child and raise him as best as they can and grow old together and help the community and be roles models and finally die and be eulogized and beloved by thousands. You can look at the life of a gay couple and see genuine care and affection and joy present there,  but they will die absent Christ and they will die in their defiant, unrepentant sins. The same arguments you make for the gay couple having a wonderful relationship in Christ can be made for the polygamous,  or for the couple who have left their spouse and are now shacking up. You can’t. God does not reward idolatry, open rebellion and cosmic treason with blessings.

I don’t know why we’re playing this game where what the Bible says doesn’t matter, and where subjective feelings are the plumbline by which we measure if something is good and holy. Because I don’t base my views on that, but on the revealed word of God. We can mess around with Paul a bit, but let’s not be ignorant here. You can say “Oh, it wasn’t loving homosexuality that Paul was condemning, it was the typical, common, every-day pedophile relationship” but that won’t explain why we read in Romans 1 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” If it was just your typical Greek gay romps, then why would he include the women? Are we to believe that it was common for older women to be having sex with young girls and taking them as lovers? Try finding that anywhere in ancient literature. As well, are we to believe that Paul was unfamiliar with Leviticus 18 and 20, which are clearly not just ritualized sins? Are we to believe that Paul was not in agreement with Jesus, who said  “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” [Matt. 5] which indicated His agreement with all moral laws of the Mosaic Law including the laws prohibiting homosexuality. Or how about his statements on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5 and 19 which  revealed His agreement with the definition of marriage as a lawful bond between a man and woman for life, and affirming that that was God’s plan for creation?

Not just the bible, but how about the witness of the early church fathers? You have comments and writings from men like Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome, Aristides, Theophilus, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Novation, Cyprian of Carthage, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Basil the great, Augustine, Clearly condemning it. Pick your poison- And that’s just in the first 400n years. Look, there really isn’t any question about what the Bible and 1900 years of Historical Judeo-Christian orthodoxy has taught and believed concerning homosexuality. The only question to answer is “Do I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, or do I reject those teaching with which I disagree with?” Do I acquiesce to the authority of the word, written plainly, or do I treat it as toilet paper to be discarded when it makes me uncomfortable?  That’s it. That’s what it comes down to. I’m not some raging homophobic who wants all gays to go to hell. Not at all. I love homosexuals, and my heart goes out to anyone trapped in sexual sin. I want them to come to church, and be washed and sanctified and justified. I want them to be delivered from their bondage to this, trusting and having faith in the Father even through this trial and burden that they must bear- so that God might be glorified and praised.

What I desire to be is faithful to the scriptures, and if that means that I have to take a stand against this and dismantle silly arguments about abominations and neologisms and everything else, then I’m more than game.

D.A. Carson Quote

“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” D.A. Carson

Jennifer Knapp Comes Out

“Seven years ago, while at the top of her game, Jennifer Knapp announced what seemed to many a sudden decision: She was stepping away from Christian music, taking an indefinite hiatus. Rumors began to swirl—she was burned out, she needed a rest, she was upset about something, she was gay. Turns out that all the rumors were true,..”

And thus begins a long, rambling, and very honest interview with Christianity Today. In the interview Jennifer Knapp reveals several startling revelations, most of which have to do with her sexuality. Specifically, she shares that she has been living together with her lesbian partner for almost 8 years now and  is very happy and content with her life. This is quite the revelation, though I suspect there will not be that many people who are disappointed by it. Surprised, perhaps, but I think most people will applaud her for her honesty and for being herself and finding a way to articulate her situation and feelings in a manner that is refreshing and genuine.

My concern though, is the theology of the situation. Indeed, what we have is a trainwreck. Jennifer Knapp has found a few ways to justify actions which are, according to scriptures, shameful abominations. She has attempted to in one hand, hold unto the hand of Christ, and with the other hold unto what is clearly unrepentant sin. This is tragic because it will ultimately it will bring her ruin and destruction. And so I want to examine what she has to say about this, and make a few observations.

At one point she writes

“…if you remove the social problem that homosexuality brings to the church—and the debate as to whether or not it should be called a “struggle,” because there are proponents on both sides—you remove the notion that I am living my life with a great deal of joy. It never occurred to me that I was in something that should be labeled as a “struggle.” The struggle I’ve had has been with the church, acknowledging me as a human being, trying to live the spiritual life that I’ve been called to, in whatever ramshackled, broken, frustrated way that I’ve always approached my faith. I still consider my hope to be a whole human being, to be a person of love and grace. So it’s difficult for me to say that I’ve struggled within myself, because I haven’t. I’ve struggled with other people. I’ve struggled with what that means in my own faith. I have struggled with how that perception of me will affect the way I feel about myself.


“…I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. But now that I’m back in the U.S., I’m contending with the culture shock of moving back here. There’s some extremely volatile language and debate—on all sides—that just breaks my heart. Frankly, if it were up to me, I wouldn’t be making any kind of public statement at all. But there are people I care about within the church community who would seek to throw me out simply because of who I’ve chosen to spend my life with.

First of all, I think it’s terrible that the Church has not acknowledged her as a human being and that they have been cruel to her, That’s not what the Church ought to do. We ought to uphold and support as much as we can any brother or sister who is either struggling with sin or caught up in sin, and seek to bring them to repentance. We in the Church ought to love and edify and connect with anyone who is struggling with sexual sin, especially that of a same-sex nature. These people aren’t second class citizens, nor is their sin grotesquely repulsive compared to our own. Not at all! All sin is dirty and distasteful, and I’m crazy if I think I can say something like “yeah, but they’re gay“.  Ridiculous!

On the flip side, it’s clear that she does not understand the purpose and use and legitimacy of Church discipline.  We see this by her line  “there are people I care about within the church community who would seek to throw me out simply because of who I’ve chosen to spend my life with.” What she has done is she has minimized her sin and then played the victim when someone seeks to magnify it in order to place it  into its proper context. Does the woman engaged in premarital sex while living common law with her boyfriend have the right to say the same thing? To act indignant and disbelieving and hurt when she’s confronted by it? How about the man who is committing adultery and has spent years in a relationship with another woman?  In 1 Corinthians 5, do we say that it was unfair for Paul to throw out of the church the man who was sleeping with his fathers wife? Should we have instead opposed him, because after all, Paul was going to throw him out simply because of who he chosen to spend his life with”? I don’t think so. What she is doing is a big deal. It’s not something than can be overlooked, but rather must be dealt with for the health of the Body of believers.

“I’m in no way capable of leading a charge for some kind of activist movement. I’m just a normal human being who’s dealing with normal everyday life scenarios. As a Christian, I’m doing that as best as I can. The heartbreaking thing to me is that we’re all hopelessly deceived if we don’t think that there are people within our churches, within our communities, who want to hold on to the person they love, whatever sex that may be, and hold on to their faith. It’s a hard notion. It will be a struggle for those who are in a spot that they have to choose between one or the other. The struggle I’ve been through—and I don’t know if I will ever be fully out of it—is feeling like I have to justify my faith or the decisions that I’ve made to choose to love who I choose to love.”

…The Bible has literally saved my life. I find myself between a rock and a hard place—between the conservative evangelical who uses what most people refer to as the “clobber verses” to refer to this loving relationship as an abomination, while they’re eating shellfish and wearing clothes of five different fabrics, and various other Scriptures we could argue about. I’m not capable of getting into the theological argument as to whether or not we should or shouldn’t allow homosexuals within our church. There’s a spirit that overrides that for me, and what I’ve been gravitating to in Christ and why I became a Christian in the first place.

This is where much confusion comes in. Most people aren’t oblivious to the fact that there may be people in Church and especially in our communities who are dealing with same-sex attraction. We know they’re there.  But here’s the thing- God’s law is clear. His intentions are clear. His desires for mankind within creation are clear. And part of that clarity, as revealed in the sacred scriptures- the revelation of God, is that he hates the sin of homosexuality. You cannot bridge this gap. You cannot say on one hand  ”I love you, Lord, and I want to be obedient to you and rest in the grace of your son’s blood and death on the cross” and yet on the other say “that having been said, I don’t care that you consider this an abomination. I don’t think it is, and I don’t have to justify everything to you. I will live how I please and refuse to give up these actions. I won’t be clobbered by your word. I don’t have to justify whom I love and how I express that love. ” There is a huge disconnect there. This is wilful, arrogant, purposeful defiance and unrepentant disobedience. Don’t accept her games where she tries to confuse Old Testament dietary laws with New Testament revelation of morality. We read in Romans 1 that Homosexuality is a consequence of mankind’s abandonment of the truth, a just punishment for exchanging the truth for a lie (1:24) and thus a revelation of the wrath of God upon unrighteousness (1:18). The context reveals homosexuality as a further manifestation of the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”(1:18). You can’t get clearer than that.

It is difficult to understand how one can read Romans 1 and not conclude that homosexual behavior is wrong and antithetical to the divine order. Paul, like Moses in Leviticus, clearly uses terms and expressions w which leave no doubt as to what he means. He states that God has given the Gentile world over “in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (1:24). In this he identifies both lesbianism and the gay lifestyle. The list of expressions used for these vile affections clearly condemns homosexuality: “dishonored among them” (1:24) “degrading passions” (1:26) “exchange the natural function” (1:26) “unnatural” (1:26) “burned in their desire” (1:27) “indecent acts” (1:27) “penalty of their error” (1:27) “worthy of death” (1:32). As such, I have heard no hermeneutical gymnastics clever enough to convince me that God has revealed in the Bible any other plan for families than one man loving one woman for life as a clear picture of the love of Christ for the church.

It comes down to the simple fact that her experiences and senses tell her that her relationship is enjoyable and pleasing to her, and so she disagrees with the Word under the guise of humility. It comes off as if she’s struggling and searching and initially I read this interview and felt bad for her. I really did. Because she didn’t try to make excuses for herself or justify her homosexuality, or try to find some clever hermeneutic to absolve her of guilt. She didn’t say “Back then the sin of homosexuality was that of forced rape, or was only temple prostitution, and therefore…..” and went that route.  I found that refreshing to a point. But then I read more and more, and I think what she has done is actually something much worse. The people who argue those verses, they are least recognize that they are a problem and that they have to do SOMETHING with them. But not Jennifer.  She way of rationalizing involves simply bypassing them altogether. To wit- her heart isn’t soft, but rather it is hardened. 8 years of unrepentant sin and abuse of God’s grace will do that to a person. I don’t want to belabour the point, but it’s not just lesbian sex that is the sin, but pre-marital sex as well. And if she justifies it by saying they’re married in their hearts, then they have a illegitimate, sinful marriage in God’s eyes- one which again defies his intent for creation and for humanity, as the Lord’s purposes for marriage are the oneflesh union of a man and woman.

I’ve always struggled as a Christian with various forms of external evidence that we are obligated to show that we are Christians. I’ve found no law that commands me in any way other than to love my neighbor as myself, and that love is the greatest commandment. At a certain point I find myself so handcuffed in my own faith by trying to get it right—to try and look like a Christian, to try to do the things that Christians should do, to be all of these things externally—to fake it until I get myself all handcuffed and tied up in knots as to what I was supposed to be doing there in the first place, If God expects me, in order to be a Christian, to be able to theologically justify every move that I make, I’m sorry. I’m going to be a miserable failure.”

Scripture makes it clear that they will know we are Christians by our love for others, and by our fruits.  Jesus says if we love him, then we will obey his commandments. The whole arc of Scripture shows that we were dead in our sins, but once we are born again we are new creatures in Christ, we have a new nature, are no longer enslaved to sin, and now have the power and ability to be sanctified into Christ’s likeness.  We read in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”. That’s the thing. They WERE  those things. There were some people who were homosexuals and who probably felt exactly as Jennifer Knapp does regarding their emotions and feelings and attraction. But then we see that though there were deeply engaged in those sins, that they were washed, sanctified and justified by Christ, and are no longer those things. “You used to be a homosexual, BUT NOW you’re sanctified and saved, and that’s not what or who you are anymore”

Lastly, Jennifer does two interesting things in that last paragraph, The first is that she twists the scripture. In Matthew 22, Jesus is being tested by a man. Regarding the greatest commandment, he says “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” That’s the summary of the law. Two things. The first is that she says she has found no law to command her other than this one, when the apostles Paul and Peter and Jude, as well as James give some clear laws that Christians ought to follow. The second is that love  is the law.  This vague, esoteric, amorphous and all-purpose love is not what Jesus was talking about, but rather the first commandment is love for the Father. Jennifer is deceived if she thinks that she is indeed fulfilling the law and loving God with her whole heart and mind and soul when she is engaged in open rebellion and defying the Lord’s plans for human sexuality by living in an open, unapologetic homosexual relationship. That’s a a problem. She wants to hold unto it as a belief and a banner- she just doesn’t want to be open or responsible for the implications of what is required of her. The last issue is her comment about how she can’t, and shouldn’t have to theologically justify every move that she makes. That’s not good enough. Again, we don’t let the adulterer say “God can’t expect me to theologically justify every move that I make. If i want to have sex with another woman’s husband-I shouldn’t have to justify that. ” The word of the Lord is our canon, and we must accept that and honor it as such.

Let me unpack it one last time- I know this seems honest and genuine and real- this interview where she lays it out. Perhaps on a level it is, but at the same time it’s incredibly arrogant and defiant. It’s like she’s saying “I don’t think it’s a sin, you do, let’s move on from that.”  She’s not dealing with the Scriptures or the implications of Scripture or what God says and has revealed- she just knows that God is a God of love and that she’s happy and how could this be wrong? Because of this, it is defiance under the veneer of honesty- flagrant disregard for scriptures existing under the guise of personal piety. It’s reminiscent of the humble hermeneutic  employed by the emergents, except Jennifer is not interested in what God really said, but rather what her heart really tells her. She’s not speaking from a tender heart, but rather as one whose foolish heart has been darkened and hardened.

Lastly, I hope people who read this blog know I’m careful enough to differentiate between someone who has homosexual thoughts and inclinations and struggles to resist acting on them, and someone who is unrepentantly homosexual. Because I do, and this post is not talking about the former at all. What Jennifer needs to see though is that God does in fact have sexual standards, and they’re  based on His creative intent which is made clear in both the Old and New Testament. He did not put forth this standard to enslave us but rather to free us. When God prohibits something He always has something better for us. All of us are inclined to trust our own instincts and desires more than the revealed will of God. Whatever our desires may be and however right and/or powerful they may seem, God’s desires for us must always take precedence. That may not bring immediate gratification, but it will bring the slow burn of sanctification and a genuinely beautiful walk and relationship with Christ.

Prayer and Free Will

I’ve always been subject to much confusion regarding free-will growing up in the church. I’ve always been taught that it is an absolute that humanity has, that God gave us a free will and we could either choose for him, or choose against him. I was told in no uncertain terms that God was not a divine rapist, and that he would never, ever, ever, violate our free will.  These pastors that I would listen to would frequently work into their sermons the idea that human free will is sovereign, and the choice is ultimately left entirely up to each sinner to decide what to do with Christ. That made sense to me, as it seemed pretty reasonable. I was in control in every other area of my life; why not this one?

But at the same time, as I worked through the scriptures in my own study, I kept running into biblical statements and doctrinal issues that posed a severe challenge to that sort of free-will theology. I would read clear passages like Romans 9:15-16; where God says “‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.’ So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy.” and I just didn’t know what to do with that. Not just those verses, but trust me- once you hit Chapter 9, any Arminian vehicle will break down on the Romans road.

Then other questions began to pop up in my head as I thought about this concept of the granted and untouchable free-will of man that God would not interfere with- Why am I praying for my lost friends and family? It seems like I’m wasting my breath to pray to God for their salvation if He can’t do any more than he has already done to save them. Why am I praying “Lord, incline their heart towards you” if God’s not going to mess with their heart either way? Not only that, but why we should pray about anything in the realm of human relationships if God never intrudes on the sanctity of human free will? Furthermore, if man has “free will”, then why would he need the help of the Holy Spirit in coming to Christ?

These questions were what led me to a conclusion- that though I was an Arminian, I prayed like a Calvinist. I wasn’t praying “God, please leave their will absolutely free, so that they can freely choose for or against you. Don’t influence them in any way.” Instead I was asking the Lord in my prayers to be gracious and reveal himself to people, to touch their hearts and tweak their spirits and step into their world to do everything necessary to save them. I was asking the Lord to break down their walls and pass through the hardness of their hearts and press the Holy Spirit upon them and make himself known- prayers that are hardly consistent with a free-will theology which has God’s hands tied regarding  that sort of thing.

Which brings us to a question; do your prayers for people necessarily ask the Lord to violate their  free will?

The Myth of “Disuptive Women” in Corinth

As in all the churches of the saints,  the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church [1 Corinthians 14:33-35]

I listened to a sermon recently where a pastor made the claim that the reason St. Paul told the women in Corinth to “keep silent” was because they were being disorderly and disrupting the church services. And that’s not the first time I’ve heard this little bit of cultural insight. I’ve heard this time and time again; where they claim that Paul was addressing either new converts or uneducated women who were disrupting the church service by shouting out questions, of which were often irrelevant. Or they say that because the church in Corinth was so disruptive, Paul had no choice but to single them out. As a result, they would say that this is a commandment for the church in Corinth only.

There’s only one problem. It’s not true. There are no facts to support this. There’s no information in the letters to the Corinthians to support this, nor is there any data in extra-biblical sources such as early writings, letters from the church fathers, apostolic and patristic history, etc to corroborate this. In fact, the only writing that exists which is often used to back up this claim are from Greco-Roman and Jewish writings that talk about the concerns for decency and order in public assemblies. Not one of them mentions any women in any Christian church, and certainly not specifically the church in Corinth. Proving that secular Greeks and Romans desired that their public assemblies be orderly does not prove that the women in the church at Corinth were being disruptive or disorderly.

As it were, this whole theory attempts to make the church in Corinth a special one, when in fact Paul applies his rule to “all the churches” . [1 Corinthians 14:33] and again “in the churches” [1 Corinthians 14:34]. Because of this, his rule cannot be restricted to one local church where there were supposedly problems. Rather though, Paul directs the Corinthians to conform to a practice that was universal in the early church. Moreover, this “noisy and disruptive women” theory either doesn’t make sense of Paul’s solution, or it makes his remedy unfair .

First, it really doesn’t make any sense. If the women were indeed being disruptive, Paul would just tell them to act in an orderly way, not to be completely silent. In other cases where there were problems or disorder, such as with tongues or prophecy or with the Lord’s supper, Paul simply prescribes order. If noise and interruptions had been the problem in Corinth, he would have explicitly forbidden disorderly speech, not all speech. Right? It doesn’t make sense that Paul would tell them to treat a paper cut by putting them in a full-body cast.

Second, it would be unfair. If Paul held this view, then he’s pretty much punishing all women for the misdeeds of some. If there were noisy women, in order to be fair, Paul should have said “the disorderly women should keep silent” not “no woman is allowed to speak”. And so when you say that Paul was telling all women to stay silent, because a few women were acting up, you’re ascribing to him a very unjust and ill-thought prescription. Also, Paul would be unfair to punish only the disorderly women and not any disorderly men. And to say that only women and no men were disorderly and disruptive is again merely an assumption with not a single fact to support it.

And lastly, we need to look at the reason Paul is giving for this instruction. He’s not giving “noisy women” as a reason for his instructions, but rather he references the Old Testament law. He says “For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the law also says. [1 Corinthians 14:34] The law mentioned here is a general reference to the Old Testament law. And so he gives the law as the reason for his statements, and it’s dangerous and just plain bad biblical scholarship to remove from our explanation of Paul’s instruction the reason that Paul does give [the law] and replace it with a reason he does not give [loud, disruptive women]

Paul isn’t saying “let the women be silent, because they should not be asking disruptive questions” or “let the women be silent, because God wants orderly worship services” but rather “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.”

So where is the actual biblical, historical evidence that women were disrupting the worship services at Corinth? There is none. No one has ever found any. The idea is mere speculation supported by frequent repetition but not by one shred of hard historical data.


And as a note, this verse does not mean that women should never say a word in church. That’s not what’s being said. Paul isn’t speaking here about disorder, but about the principle of submission. In this case- submission to male leadership among God’s people. A far better interpretation of this passage comes from the very context of these verses themselves. Paul is speaking in this context about people giving prophecies and others giving prophecies“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” [1 Corinthians 14:29] In the context of judging prophecies, Paul says “the women should keep silent in the churches” He does not allow women to speak out and judge prophecies in front of the whole congregation, but he leaves that governing task to men, which is consistent with what he says in 1 Timothy 2:12, about women not having authority over a man. The verse says nothing about noisy, disruptive women, but the context clearly talks about judging prophecies.


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