Homosexualist marriage, death, and compassion...

Think with a Christian mind. When a lesbian in a homosexualist marriage is facing death due to Stage IV ovarian cancer, one of two things is true: either now is the time to release her from the oppression of residents of the state of Indiana so she and her partner in this "loving relationship" may approach her death in peace; or now is the time to warn her that, if she defies God to her very end, upon death she will certainly face God's wrath and eternal damnation. Death is the great purifier of thoughts. The choices are clear. The Holy Spirit has spoken: "it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

Which side of this choice shows compassion for this immortal soul? The attorneys and judges who use this lesbian's impending death to express their own hatred and defiance of God? Or the citizens of the state of Indiana who call their civil magistrates to condemn the evil of lesbianism and warn those who practice it, particularly at the time of their death?

Who has compassion...

Ministering to the abused...

The one sure thing is that pastors who care for victims of child sexual abuse must not allow pity to ruin our pastoral care. Child sexual abuse permeates our congregations today, so we must grow in wisdom and compassion towards those who suffered these crimes. Such wisdom and compassion will always cause us to set our sights higher than ameliorating victims' shame and moving them toward self-acceptance. It may sound callous to say so, but Scripture doesn't trade in self-acceptance. The precious treasure we have to offer those weighed down by sin and shame is God's acceptance through the shed blood of His Son. Yet that is too often absent in the narratives of survivors.

After several days riding the wave of World Vision's flip-flopping on homosexual marriage, Christianity Today ended the week by running a "this is my life" piece by Jonathan Merritt, a writer for the Religious News Service. The piece is an account of the corruption by an older neighbor boy Merritt suffered in his childhood and the terrible fruit that corruption bore in his life. Merritt tells us he has lived with a deep and pervasive sense of shame, he has suffered the compromise of his male sexual identity, he has sinned homosexually, and he has been alienated from the Church.

CT took this excerpt from Merritt's forthcoming book, Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined, and the excerpt ran under the headline, "A Thread Called Grace: How I came to stop hiding and face the biggest secret of my early life." From the start of the homosexualist movement several decades ago now, this has been the narrative of those committed to normalizing homosexual sin: come out of the closet and be done with the shame. Thus CT ran Merritt's piece under the phrases "biggest secret" and "stop hiding."

Merritt tells a very sad story. CT, though, has its own reasons for promoting this story and we must see those reasons and resist being manipulated through our tears. Christianity Today has a larger purpose in providing subscribers this intimate view of one man's sexual suffering and clearly its purpose is not simply to promote Biblical compassion and love...

World Vision's big boo-boo...

About World Vision, I'm sorry for what I wrote before. This matter deserved something more than snarkiness, and for that I apologize. I've pulled the former content off this post. So now, here's something I hope is more helpful:

I have never given any money to World Vision and I'd recommend against any of our readers giving them money. They are a hugely wealthy business and that's how you should think about them. Their marketing is as sophisticated as Apple's, although their product is slightly different. Instead of "Think Differently," it's "Feel Globally Compassionate."

But compassion should never be global. Normally, it should be personal, but not pseudo-personal through a marketing machine. Personal-personal. Like in adoption. I could go on about this, but time and priorities cause me to leave it with that. It's a trajectory of thought that many of you would do well to follow, though.

Beyond  the issue of the nature of Christian compassion and service, I would never give money to World Vision because it's hugely rich; it's richly huge and it's my conviction what's rich and huge in America is never ever godly. It may be Evangelical. It may have IRS non-profit status. But it's not at all godly. Which is to say Godliness—true Godliness—doesn't sell in America, let alone selling as supremely well as World Vision has sold for several generations, now.

Beyond the issues of the nature of Christian compassion and service and World Vision's all-American Evangelical success, there's the issue of exporting America's sins. For instance, ask yourself whether you believe in empowering women?

Of course you do. You're a Christian and Christians have always been leading the rest of the world in that uniquely Christian revolution of the empowerment of women...

Manhood is responsibility...

Dr. Harry Schaumburg is right. Internet pornography is false intimacy. It's sex with a phantom who has no moles, wrinkles, or bad breath; a woman who makes no emotional demands and bears no children. But God's law limits sex to those men willing to bear responsibility. God says you must vow lifelong fidelity to a woman and you must propagate a godly seed. Sex without intimacy is sex that repudiates responsibility. But, guess what? Sex without responsibility isn't sexy.

I remember waking up in bed with my wife the morning after our wedding day and thinking, "This is the rest of my life!" I was happy. I loved Mary Lee and love her even more today. Still, there was some bit of terror that morning as I realized the irrevocable step I had taken. There was no return. From this day on I was responsible for this dear woman and all the children she would present to me. Somewhere Chesterton says the two most romantic things in the world are getting married and mailing a letter because you can't take either back. You see, permanence and responsibility are romantic. Commitment is romantic. Vows are romantic.

We have young men and women getting married all the time in our congregation, and often they ask...

Rand Paul loves the Kool-Aid...

Talking with Vocativ, Rand Paul tells us the Kool-Aid tastes good and we should all drink it:

I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues. The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don’t want to be festooned by those issues.

You know, pols are pols—never anything more, but impossible...

God bless America...

Here's text from an e-mail I received recently from Dr. David Canfield, an elder at Clearnote Church, Bloomington. David gave his permission for me to post it here on Baylyblog. There is a context for the letter, but it's unimportant to David's larger point.

* * *

The problem is not, essentially, that President Obama has... That is just a symptom of the true problem, viz., that America (and this has happened to a great extent during my lifetime) has abandoned the notion of us, both as individuals and a nation, as being under authority. I speak of authority in all of its manifestations. We have seen, for instance, parental authority ripped to shreds, and the US Constitution is now viewed as a list of suggestions that might...

Here am I, send me...

An hour and a half west of Bloomington is the city of Terre Haute which is home to the small and reputable school, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Tomorrow night, this little conservative engineering school in the middle of a city notorious for its lowlife druggies (crystal meth) will host a forum on so-called "marriage equality," which is to say homosexual marriage. The questions to be addressed are:

(1) What is marriage from a legal standpoint? What distinguishes it from other legal relationships?
(2) Does marriage benefit the state?
(3) Why does the government recognize marriage?
(4) How does the Fourteenth Amendment apply to the legality of same-sex marriage? How are civil rights involved?
(5) How does marriage law interact with state and national law? How is marriage a judicial issue?
(6) Also, what are the legal ramifications of the HJR-3? [House Joint Resolution 3 prohibiting homosexual marriage]

Across America, the chattering class has found its latest heartthrob, and it's nothing as pretty as Taylor Swift. Desperately trying to clean it up, they refer to this lie and the dirty acts it exists to legitimize and institutionalize as "marriage equality." Their icy hearts go pitter-patter with deviancy's every advance, and they give themselves to exquisite shivers when these advances occur out there in the hinterlands. Already banned from New York by Governor Cuomo's henchmen, Christians are silent as the marriage equality movement inexorably expands out there in the Midwest. Cuomo rejoices that the hated "Bible thumpers" are one step closer to Siberia.

But what have we done to merit such hatred?

Russia's Vladimir Putin, again...

The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth. - Psalms 58:3

Words are important. Just now, Google news is running this USAToday headline at the top of the page: "Russia's Vladimir Putin links gays to pedophiles."

Now there's a week's work for us. First, note the headline wasn't simply "Putin," "Vladimir Putin," "President Putin," or "Russian President Vladimir Putin links...," but "Russia's Vladmir Putin links...".

For comparison, think of this headline leading the page on NovostiMail.ru: "The United States' Barack Obama denies link of sodomites to child rape." In both cases, journalists would be making a point about the country, and not so much the man leading the country. To decadent American journalists, much as they despise him, the point isn't as much Putin as Russia. Benighted, backward, brutal, alcoholic bear. American journalists despised Solzhenitsyn and they despise Putin, too. To our chattering class, they're simply backward, ignorant Russians...

Inoffensive "Bibles" bear toxic fruit...

London's Mail Online reports: "Parents and godparents no longer have to ‘repent sins’ and ‘reject the devil’ during christenings after the Church of England rewrote the solemn ceremony. The new wording is designed to be easier to understand... In the original version, the vicar asks: ‘Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?’ Prompting the reply: ‘I reject them.’ They then ask: ‘Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?’, with the answer: ‘I repent of them.’ 

But under the divisive reforms, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and already being practised in 1,000 parishes, parents and godparents are asked to ‘reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises’ – with no mention of the devil or sin. The new text ...also drops the word ‘submit’ in the phrase ‘Do you submit to Christ as Lord?’ because it is thought to have become ‘problematical’, especially among women who object to the idea of submission."

Yes, yes; "the new wording is designed to be easier to understand." Reading this news piece reminded me of the corruption of the text of Scripture in our new Bible versions. Reformed Evangelicals justified it too with the claim they were making Scripture "easier to understand." But it's all bunk. The problem our new Bibles are designed to address is not readers' lack of understanding, but the text's offensiveness. And if we're honest, we'll admit we've only begun our quest to render God's word innocuous.

Why stop with the removal of words like "Jews," "old wives tales," "man," "brothers," and "effeminate" when words like "devil," "rebellion," "sin," "submit," and "repent" remain in the text? And why do we have such little faith in the understanding of simple Christians. It was not always that way.

Starting in the seventeenth century, the Protestant, Reformed Christians of New England had one of the highest...

New Year greetings under the pen name "Vladimir Putin"...

Breitbart has put out a new year greeting they attribute to Vladimir Putin. The fake oped piece begins:

Happy New Year to all you decadent and dictatorial Americans. Yes, I mean you, the people of the United States, where an elite of non-democratic dictators trickles its immorality—and incompetence—down upon the masses.

What do I mean? Aren’t you Americans supposed to be free? Sure, you are free: You are free to obey the ukase—that’s an old czarist word for a decree that must be obeyed, or else—of a judge acting on an ideological agenda. So the judge is free to do as he pleases, and then you are free to do what you’re told to do. Americans, how do you like that kind of “freedom”?

For example, let’s look at the way the debate over homosexual marriage has played out over the past few years in the USA. The American people were confronted with the issue of homosexual marriage, debated it, and then voted against it in the tens of millions; dozens of US states passed specific laws to ban homosexual marriage.

So then what happened? I’ll tell you what happened: Unelected judges simply overrode the will of the people—and legalized such marriage in much of the country, including the largest state, California. In other words, the judges acted as dictators to overturn not only the laws of America, but also the law of God; these are spelled out clearly in both the Bible and in the Christian tradition...

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson: a postmodern morality play...

Well, they'll stone ya when you're trying to be so good
They'll stone ya just a-like they said they would
They'll stone ya when you're tryin' to go home
Then they'll stone ya when you're there all alone

But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned.

-Bob Dylan, Rainy Day Women #12 & 35

Although a number of men I'm close to have loved the show for quite some time, yesterday in our pastors meeting I was told Duck Dynasty is one of the most popular TV shows of all time, and I was floored. I've never really gotten reality shows. More recently I haven't gotten FB, either. Everybody shouting at their friends that they just went gluten-free. Scintillating ain't it?

So yeah, the Robertsons are fun and I'd like to blow their duck call once or twice to hear why it made them rich. Is it "Queeeeaaaaaaaaauuuck" or just "Quack Quack?"

In fact, Duck Dynasty's success is mostly about money... {C}

From a thousand years ago, St. Peter Damian's warnings against sodomy...

New Oxford Review just ran a review of a new translation of St. Peter Damian's eleventh century jeremiad against sodomy within the Roman Catholic priesthood and hierarchy in his time. Damian's Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise against Clerical Homosexual Practices is translated and edited by Pierre Payer and the reviewer is Anne Barbeau Gardiner, Professor Emerita of English at CUNY's John Jay College.

Professor Gardiner summarizes Damian's warnings:

As a result of their laxity, priests who have “fallen into this wickedness with eight or even ten other equally sordid men” have remained in their ranks. And so the sin has come “to be committed freely” without its practitioners fearing the loss of their priestly faculties. Damian calls this negligence rather than love because it allows a wound to spread in a neighbor’s heart, a wound “from which, I have no doubt, he dies cruelly.” Therefore, Damian himself will not “neglect to cure” that wound with the “surgery of words,” for if he remains silent, he too will deserve punishment.


Rather than “fear the hatred of the depraved or the tongues of detractors,” Damian fears God, who warns him through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, “If you see your brother doing evil and you do not correct him, I will require his blood from your hand” (3:20). Damian will not be silenced, no matter how many tell him to put the sword of his tongue in the sheath of silence: “Who am I to see such a harmful outrage growing up among the sacred orders and, as a murderer of another’s soul, preserve the stricture of silence, and to dare to await the reckoning of divine severity? Do I not begin to be responsible for a guilt whose author I never was?”

Last night, I was talking to a pastor who told of one of the men of his church...

Sodomy rights trump religious freedom...

Peter and Rosemary Bull, the Christian couple fined in 2008 for not allowing sexual immorality in their bed and breakfast, have lost their appeal to the UK's Supreme Court. In a unanimous ruling, the court ruled the Bulls have no religious freedom to decline one of their bedrooms to the sodomite couple who filed a complaint against them.

After 25 years, the Bulls business has been ruined and they are now forced to sell their home.

From the court's decision, this from Deputy President...

Legislating from the bench...

The next conniving step has been taken by the Indiana Court of Appeals which just ruled that one lesbian no longer engaging in sexual relations with another lesbian nevertheless has legal standing to seek visitation rights with her former sexual partner's child. Think about this: {C}

Faithful Christian witness in the UK...

We are not homophobic, but the Bible is very clear that a man should not lie with a man and woman should not lie with a woman. Gay people are more than welcome to stay here, but not in the same bed. It is a case of love the sinner, but not the sin. How people choose to live their lives is their business, but I am responsible, in the eyes of God, for what happens in my home.

Christians are increasingly marginalised in British society, and what we have here is a head-on collision between the conflicting beliefs of Christians and those of homosexuals. Why should the rights of gay people take precedence over ours?

Mrs. Peter Bull, Marazion, Cornwall

Mr. and Mrs. Peter (Hazelmary) Bull ran a bed and breakfast in Cornwall, England the past three decades. Since they are Christians, the Bulls clearly stipulated to those considering staying with them that they were not willing to rent a double-bedded room to unmarried couples. Five years ago, the Bulls declined to rent a double-bedded room to an unmarried couple and the couple sued.

R2K is segregationist...

It's a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they did not keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and to the Temple and to their authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

Why "R2K" instead of "2K"?

First, a word about names. Why do I make it a habit to refer to this modern novelty as “R2K,” the initial 'R' standing for "Radical" or "Revisionist" two kingdom theology, rather than simply “2K” standing for "Two Kingdom"?

In the Reformed and Protestant world, fathers of the Church have long referred to “two-kingdom” distinctions they have employed as necessary to delineate the proper spheres of authority of state and church; of city councilmen on the one hand and deacons, pastors, and elders on the other hand. These two kingdoms or spheres of authority Martin Luther variously referred to as the Kingdoms of this World and the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdoms of God’s Left Hand and the Kingdom of God’s Right Hand. So in that sense we could say that, insofar as the modern Escondido Theology or R2K men are speaking about the distinctions between the state and Church, and therefore the distinction between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God, they are joining a large and long conversation dear to the heart of each one of us pastors, elders, and believers living in this world while not of it.

In his helpful article, “One Kingdom or Two?”, Cornelius Venema writes:

…the two kingdoms [R2K] doctrine is alleged to be the venerable, original position of the Reformed churches. …(This) historical claim on the part of two kingdoms [R2K] advocates… represents a tendentious reading of the historical record.

- in "One Kingdom or Two? An Evaluation of the 'Two Kingdoms' Doctrine as an Alternative to Neo-Calvinism," by Cornelis Venema. Mid-America Journal of Theology 23 (2012): 77-129.

In Protestantism, both Presbyterian/Reformed and Lutheran, we now have five centuries of discussion and debate of this distinction and how best to work it out. No one has arrived at a solution to the tension and conflict that have always prevailed between the two kingdoms and it was this same conflict that led to this exchange between Pilate and Jesus Christ...{C}

Theological critique of Escondido Two Kingdoms theology (X): "There is no such thing as a secular society."

In its use of society as the foundational term for human community, modern political philosophy conceives of civic life on the pattern of a group of acting subjects in a purely human space. The ever recurring image of such a group is one of players around a table. As Thomas Hobbes wrote, "It is in the laws of a commonwealth, as in the laws of gaming: Whatsoever the gamesters all agree on, is injustice to none of them." It is to be found again in the work of Adam Smith, who speaks of the "great chess-board of human society." The image loses its metaphorical self-consciousness and becomes conceptually foundational in later authors. John Rawls' description of the original position provides a good example. And history takes political theory seriously. Our political communities have become "societies" resembling ever more closely a club of gamblers.

For the game to be fair, it must be secular. The space of our democratic societies is flat. Nobody is allowed to stand higher than others. The first to be excluded is the One Above, especially when people claim to have received from him some message or mission that puts them closer to his divine reality—and thus higher... {C}

Thank God for Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile...

A week or two ago, Thabiti Anyabwile, a faithful Reformed pastor from the Cayman Islands, ran a post calling for Reformed Christians to recover their ability to feel shame and revulsion at sodomitic practices (The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and "Gay Marriage"). Pastor Anyabwile pointed out how those practices perverted God's sexual design and this made his readers mad, so they inundated Pastor Anyabwile's blog with catcalls and rotten tomatoes and Pastor Anyabwile apologized.

Through many years working with men and women fighting against temptations to same-sex intimacy, I've learned the precious truth that the straight and narrow road of Christian faith runs right next to the straight and narrow road of body parts and shame... {C}

Raising sons and daughters to love their sexual identity...

A man of our congregation e-mailed a link to a piece on another blog written by a pastor's wife lamenting her fears that her son would have to "prove" his manhood among the Christians in her community and church down in Mississippi. The man commented, "the point (in the post) I thought was most interesting (was her writing):

...and so I come back to my sensitive son, with his preference for imaginative games over competitive ones. I wonder if he will soon find himself a misfit in the Christian community, pressured to prove himself—not by his neighborhood friends, who won't care what he is—but by other Christians, who want him to stand up for a certain kind of disappearing manliness.

Responding to this quote from the post, the man responded: "I get that some boys will grow up to be poets, and writers. I was an English major. But, I can testify to the fact that I definitely needed wrestling, and football—not to prove anything, but to learn how to just be tough and a man."

So I went and read the post and left a comment, there...

It all starts (or stops) with Daddy...

An editorial in today's Wall Street Journal highlights the savings Rhode Island has seen the past few years in its Medicaid expenditures as a result of negotiating from the Feds some small liberties to decide for themselves how to fund healthcare for their poor. At the time Rhode Island received this privilege from the Feds, one of every five of its citizens were on Medicaid, a quarter of the state's budget was going to Medicaid payments, and the state's Medicaid expenditures were growing 7.6% per year. More recently, though, from 2009-2012 Rhode Island has reduced its growth in Medicaid expenditures to 1.3% per year as the other 49 states' expenditures increased 4.6% per year.

States rights is not only an ordering principle of our nation's Constitution, but also the necessary method of protecting our solvency. Return decisions concerning spending of Medicaid funds to Rhode Island magistrates and, that very minute, accountability returns and expenditures begin to decline.

How did they do it? 

Two major reforms in particular saved money. The first reduced costly emergency room visits by Medicaid recipients for routine medical needs, and the second reduced admissions to pricey nursing homes by offering home-care subsidies and promoting assisted living arrangements, which seniors generally prefer.

Whether ecclesiastical or civil, that government is best which is most decentralized and exercises authority over the smallest group of people. In Presbyterian government, the session (for church members) and presbytery (for pastors) are the courts of original jurisdiction; and that should be the end of it in everything but the most extreme cases.

If a humdinger of a controversy arises in... {C}