Roundup of This Week’s Same-Sex Marriage Discussion

Roundup of this week's same-sex marriage discussion

The beginning of arguments before the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage has produced a firestorm of commentary this week. The social networks are awash with it as well as the blogosphere.  Here are some of the best from a Christian perspective:

Joe Carter asks: When Did Idolatry Become Compatible With Christianity?

Voddie Baucham reiterates that: Gay Is Not the New Black.

And, Kevin DeYoung explains: Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage are Persuasive.

What Is Christ’s Role in Our Salvation?

What is Christ's role in our salvation?

In the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus makes an amazing claim: Those who saw themselves as God’s people, who were sticklers for keeping the law and could trace their lineage all the way back to Moses were “children of the devil” (John 8:44). So much for the Jesus-who-judges-no-one of liberal theologians.

Throughout the New Testament, two groups of people are in view. Sometimes they are called “the lost” and “the found” other times “children of the Devil” and “children of God.” No matter what descriptors are used, it’s always two and only two groups. One is either “lost” and a child of the devil or “found” and a child of God. The most important question anyone can ask is: How do I move from the first group into the second? How do I cross over and become a child of God?

Thankfully, the Bible is clear on the answer to that question. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can one be made right with God (John 14:6) and move from being God’s enemy to being His friend (John 15:15). People hated that answer in the first century and have continued to hate it in every century since. As a result, all kinds of aberrant belief systems have arisen seeking to get around the clear teaching of Jesus that by grace through faith in Him alone can men be saved. Most of these systems fall into one of two categories:

The Christ and.. Method

This method teaches that, yes, I’m a sinner and yes, Christ is necessary in order to deal with my sin but Christ is not sufficient to do so. Trusting in what Christ did on the cross is certainly a course requirement but I still have to get some extra credit through my works in order to be reconciled to God (or in some cases to stay reconciled). In this category would be the Roman Catholic Church and, within Protestantism, the Church of Christ.

The Christ or…Method

Some take it even a step further. Sure, Christ is a way to be reconciled to God but it is arrogant and ethnocentric to claim He’s the only way. There are many ways to God.  Whether one starts out a sinner or not in this belief system is not a given. Some in this camp would say yes, others no. Unitarian Universalism as well as many of the liberal mainline Protestant denominations in the United States fit here.

Here’s an example of this teaching from the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the USA:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IxG96wpx60]

So what is the answer?

The Christ period. Method

The absolute best we can do in pursuit of righteousness Isaiah says is but “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). There is nothing we can do to be made righteous or even to be made more righteous. Righteousness in the eyes of God is not a matter of degrees. A person is either righteous or they’re not.  Jesus is and we’re not. Only when God imputes Christ’s righteousness to us can we stand before Him blameless (the only way one can stand before a holy God and not be destroyed).

The perfect life Christ lived and the sacrificial death He died are all that is needed to justify us, make us right with God. When we trust in Christ by grace through faith, we are justified. No additional work on our part is required to supplement that and no other religious tradition can accomplish that because Christ is the only righteous person who ever lived and is therefore the only acceptable substitute for our own “filthy rags.”

What then is Christ’s role in our salvation? The author of the book of Hebrews answers for us:

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” – Hebrews 7:25 (emphasis mine)

Have you trusted in this Christ who can save completely?

Boy Scouts’ Compromise Happened Long Ago

Boy Scout's Compromise Happened Long Ago

There has been a lot of hand-wringing lately among social conservatives and evangelical Christian groups over the possible (I think highly likely) capitulation of the Boy Scouts of America to the the homosexual lobby and their allies. In very short order, something the Scouts had stood firm on for years has become negotiable.

The recent trial balloon floated by the Boy Scouts to appease these groups is to allow local Scouting organizations to decide whether or not openly homosexual leaders and scouts should be admitted. In other words, abandon having a national policy on the matter and make it a local issue. This, of course, will not be enough. The homosexual lobby is never satisfied with half-measures. Any compromise will be seen as only the first step toward proactive endorsement of homosexuality by the organization – which will begin to be demanded before the ink is dry on any new policy.

How did it get to this point? As with most things, there are a number of contributing factors, not the least of which is the Scouts’ dependence upon corporate sponsors. Most of these corporations decided years ago it was easier (and cheaper) to give in to the homosexual lobby than risk their harassment as aided and abetted by the national media. In addition to monetary sponsorship, some of the board members of these companies are also board members of the BSA and are facing pressure to terminate their relationship with the Scouts or face a down-grade of their company’s “non-discrimination rating” by the self-appointed creators of such things. It’s the usual shake down scenario. Nice company you got there – be a shame if something happened to it.

But the root cause is much deeper. At some point in their history the Scouts decided to make who God  is a local decision. When my sons and I were involved in Scouts several years back, I attended leadership training on the religious achievements portion of the Cub Scout handbook. Though held at an ostensibly Christian church, the training made it clear god could be whoever the boys and their families thought he, she or it was. The god of Scouting is much like the god of Alcoholics Anonymous, a “higher power” that is whatever one wants it to be. Sure, you have to believe in god to be a Scout, you just don’t have to be too specific about it.

This brings us to the basis for morals. How can an organization that will not take a stand on the identity of God be expected to take a stand on specific moral issues? There is a direct connection between the law and the Law Giver. If you’re not really sure who the Law Giver is, how can you be sure whether a specific behavior is “morally straight” or not? I mean, maybe one of those obscure Norse gods is cool with homosexuality. Who knows?

In addition, why have Christians chosen this issue as the flash-point causing them to rethink involvement with the Scouts? Was it not already a bridge too far that the Scouts allow local groups to decide for themselves who god is? Is standing firm on homosexuality really more important than standing firm on God’s identity? It reminds me of all these Episcopal congregations trying to get the heck out of dodge over homosexual priests when they stuck around as the denomination systematically dismantled the authority of the Bible and the exclusivity of Christ for years on end. This is the last straw? One would think gutting the gospel message might have been a contender for that honor.

This May at their annual meeting, the BSA will make it’s decision. My prediction is they will cave. This will be bad news for the once venerable organization but perhaps good news for the gospel. Removing Jesus Christ from a cocktail of gods unified only by American Civil Religion and holding Him up in stark contrast to all other belief systems will have a far greater impact for the Kingdom than if the Scouts win this battle in service to a pantheon of lesser gods.