Book Plunge: Born This Way?

What do I think of J. Alan Branch’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you debate any with people and homosexuality is brought up, you will find people saying that they are “born this way.” In the movie Religulous, Bill Maher interviews someone who is a Christian saying that there is no gay gene. In the middle, we get a cut to a scene of Maher asking Dean Hamer, “Have you found a gay gene?” “Yes.” That’s it. No context. Nothing more. It was settled.

Are homosexuals really born this way? J. Alan Branch takes us on a tour of psychology and science to see what can be found out. He starts off with looking at the minds that have fundamentally shaped the debate for us all. The first starting place is Freud and seeing what he said, which wasn’t really as much as one would think.

We get a lot more when we get to Kinsey. Today, Kinsey is seen as one of the greatest authorities, but in reality, his work was significantly flawed. In fact, it was so flawed that one could even see it got information from those who had to be guilty of child molestation. Kinsey accepted information from volunteers, interviewed people in prison, and other such problems. Kinsey himself was quite clear about his goals in doing away with Christian morality.

Finally, what happened with psychology and psychiatry in the 70’s? The truth is, not a lot of science but a whole lot of politics. This cleared the way for normalization and then for opposition. The movement already had an agenda in mind with the publication of After The Ball which they played perfectly.

From there, we move on to the possible scientific explanations for someone being born homosexual. This area is often dense in scientific thought so it can be hard to understand. That could be the unavoidable nature of the beast. Still, Branch is conversant with the literature and knows what those arguing the position are talking about.

One area he looks at that many people will be pleased to see is about animals. He does say that animals do sometimes engage in homosexual acts, but this is not a new discovery. Our ancestors knew about this long ago and the only reason it’s a shock to so many today is that we are far more cut off from nature. Branch points out that if we went by this, then we should also justify people eating their children since animals often devour their young in the wild.

After looking at all manner of studies, Branch then takes on a more pastoral position. How are we to help people in the church who legitimately struggle with same-sex attraction? They are indeed there. We don’t need to think they’re lying. We don’t need to treat them like a disease. One great way is that men need men who are friends with them and can say they love them, but not have it be sexual. Likewise, women need similar with women.

Branch concludes that homosexuality is likely caused by a multiplicity of factors and no one factor can settle the deal. This is also a predisposition to behave a certain way. It does not necessitate that one act on that impulse. One can choose to be celibate or one can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex and form a loving relationship with them.

Christians wanting to understand the debate will want to read this book. Branch is thorough and at the same time, more brief than you would think as the book has just a little over 150 pages of content. It will be a helpful addition to anyone’s library who cares about this issue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Paul Behaving Badly

What do I think of Randy Richards’s and Brandon O’Brien’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Paul can be a very polarizing figure today. Some Christians have the idea that Jesus is really awesome (And they’re right), but we don’t know about that Paul guy. He wasn’t even one of the original twelve. He didn’t meet Jesus in person. Why should we listen to him? Some skeptics will claim that it was Paul who really invented Christianity and took the good message of Jesus and turned Him into a deity and lost sight of His message.

For those of us who do like Paul, we do have to admit there can be difficulties. As the authors ask “Was Paul a jerk?” Sometimes, it looks like he was. They bring this up in a number of areas. First, the general question of if he was a jerk. Then they ask if he was a killjoy, a racist, a supporter of slavery, a chauvinist, a homophobe, a hypocrite, and finally a twister of Scripture.

Each chapter starts with the charges against Paul and they do bring forward an excellent case. You can look at the claims and if you are not familiar with the debates it is easy to ask “How is Paul going to get out of this one?” The authors also grant that Paul is not one behaving according to 21st century Western standards, but he was still just as much behaving badly to his own culture as he was just as radical to them. Paul is kind of in an in-between spot sometimes. Many times he’ll push the envelope further and leave it to us to keep pushing it. The question is are we going to do that.

Many of these questions need to be addressed for the sake of many people you will encounter who raise these objections. (Why didn’t Paul just demand the immediate release of slaves?) I enjoyed particularly the chapter on Paul being a killjoy. O’Brien gives his story in this one on how anything wasn’t to be done because we are to abstain from the appearance of evil so let’s make sure we all go see only G-rated movies and are teetotallers. (While I personally abstain from alcoholic beverages, I don’t condemn those who drink and control their alcohol.)

Some insights I thought were interesting and added perspective. Why did Paul seem to take contradictory stances on meat offered to idols? Why did he have Timothy circumcised when Timothy was from the area of Galatia and Paul had made it clear that if you let yourself be circumcised, then you are denying the Gospel. (If you want the answers to those questions, you know what you need to do.)

I would have liked to have seen a little bit more on the honor and shame aspect of the culture of the time. There is some touching on this, such as talk also about the client/patron system, but a quick refresher would have been good for those who don’t know it. Of course, I definitely recommend that anyone pick up their excellent book Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes.

This book is a great blessing that we need today. Paul, like I said, is one of the most controversial figures even among Christians. To deal with his critics and to help those who would like to support him, you need to read this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Openness Unhindered. Further Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert On Sexual Identity And Union With Christ

What do I think of Rosaria Butterfield’s book published by Crown & Covenant Publications? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know the story. A person lives their life struggling with sin and then, they come to Christ. They pour out their heart in repentance to Him and God forgives them and frees them from the shame of the past. No more are they hindered by the chains that kept them bound. They walk in newness of life free from the past temptations entirely.

Or…..maybe not.

In fact, a lot of people would wish that was the case. Sometimes some will be thinking that God betrayed them or lied to them. If we have become new creatures in Christ, why is it that the past is still an issue? Why do we not experience deliverance from all the struggles of the past? How can I be a new creature in Christ and still struggle mightily with a sin?

Rosaria Butterfield knows about this quite well. She had been a professor living in a lesbian relationship when a pastor gently responded to an article she wrote about the Promise Keepers. This pastor was a pushback to her, but also was not in her face. She, in fact, notes that the first time she visited him and his wife, they did not give her the Gospel or invite her to church. In fact, she appreciated that greatly.

She began studying the Bible on her own and in fact studying it as a postmodern. Romans 1 was quite a difficult passage for her, but one she could not escape. What if instead of gay pride, she was just really having pride? What if what she took pride in was in fact really a form of rebellion? The questions came at her fast and furious.

One day, she just reached her breaking point. She wound up admitting that God was God and becoming a Christian. From then on, she knew things had to change. Much of her book is about dealing with this. Indeed she did change. She is now the wife of a reformed pastor in North Carolina, but she has a heart for those who are struggling with many issues.

One of Butterfield’s key themes is identity. Our identity when we come to Christ and even before is not to be based on our sexual orientation, as the term is used. Our identity is greater than the people we are attracted to or share a bed with. One of her main points she wants to have raised is we should not use terms like “gay Christian” even when we speak of Christians who agree that homosexual activity is wrong and want to live a celibate life. Why take an adjective that describes a condition that the Bible refers to as sin and making it part of your identity just like Christian is in your identity? Taking it as an identity is in some way clinging to it and holding on to it, as if it’s something central to who you are.

She does realize that some Christians disagree with this and in fact, she has an example of that in the book. She talks about her friend Rebecca who still struggles with same-sex attraction. Butterfield makes an important point that for some people, sanctification does not necessarily mean being delivered from the sinful temptations. Heterosexuality is not the goal of sanctification, but holiness is and you can just as much be a sinner as a heterosexual as you can a homosexual. For some people, the sign of their sanctification could be living with these sinful desires and NOT giving in.

To the rest of us, she says part of the danger we have could be what she calls the gag reflex to homosexuality. We can describe homosexual acts as if to get the response of “ewww. Yucky.” What we end up doing can be saying “I’m so thankful I don’t do that!” or for those Christians who are struggling with same-sex attraction, putting thoughts in their heads. We can end up having a sort of superiority complex to the homosexuals who do this “shameful behavior.” Now I do believe the Bible describes it as shameful, but that is not because of something being gross. Our problems with a behavior should be with the moral status of the behavior and not the personal taste status of the behavior.

For an analogy, imagine a pastor at a church describing the evil of an affair. Rather than state that a sexual affair is an evil thing, he goes into great detail of a man meeting a woman at a hotel room and describing what goes on behind closed doors. Is he really helping anyone? No. We all know what goes on behind closed doors. If anything, most men in the audience are now suddenly having to deal with a temptation as they are having a fantasy play out in their minds.

Butterfield also stresses that for a Christian, life should be a life of repentance. We should be watching ourselves to see where we are falling short. Butterfield does write with the heart of a counselor. At times, sometimes the reformed aspect can shine through a bit brighter so if, like me, you don’t hold to a Calvinistic position, that can be difficult, but either way, those of us who don’t still do agree with repentance and we do still see God as sovereign even if we don’t understand how that works out.

She also stresses the importance of community. Community should be a way we come together and pray for one another and if anyone does struggle with unwanted attractions, they can find comfort in having people who will hear them. They might not be able to do anything beyond that, besides pray of course, but they can be listeners.

Butterfield’s book is a good one. If there was one area I would change, it’s that there is talk about dealing with unwanted sexual attractions and such, but at the same time, I always want to see that there is a positive message about sexuality. A true sexuality is something God gives us to enjoy and celebrate. It would have been good to have heard Butterfield’s thoughts on that.

Still, this is a book that will leave you thinking and hopefully get you more in tune with thinking about holiness. Repentance is a word much more on my mind since reading this. I also wouldn’t mind seeing more community as described by Butterfield and will definitely be watching to check for the gag reflex approach to homosexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast: Tom Gilson

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This one doesn’t have a date to it because due to a scheduling conflict, we had to reschedule this for today. When the interview is done, I hope to start work on it soon and get it up as soon as I can. Hopefully today, but I can’t make any promises. So what are we talking about?

Parents have always dreaded having “the talk” with their children. Which parent is going to be the one to sit down and talk about the birds and the bees? Will it be both parents? When is the proper time to do this? How do you explain the moral aspects of this?

It was hard enough in the past. Today, it is even harder. Now we live in a world where homosexuality is being put in front of us every day and too many young people are running around with soundbites that they’ve heard but have never really for the most part thought about. Young people wanting to be socially acceptable have a scarlet letter on them where they are seen as intolerant or bigots because they hold to a Biblical view of sexuality.

How can any parent possibly talk to their children about this? What are they to say? Do most parents themselves even have the answers to the questions? To discuss this topic, I’m having my friend Tom Gilson come on. Who is he?

TomGilson

And according to his bio he is

B. Mus. in Music Education and Trombone Performance, Michigan State University, 1979
M.S. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, University of Central Florida, 1998
Certificate (30 graduate hours), Campus Crusade for Christ Institute for Biblical Studies
 – plus a smattering of courses from Denver Seminary and Talbot Seminary
Lead editor, True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism, Kregel, 2013
Author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality With Teens, Kregel, 2015
Over 150 published articles including work published at Touchstone, Salvo, and Discipleship Journal
Blogging at Thinking Christian since 2004.
34 years with Campus Crusade/Cru
2 years with BreakPoint
2 years in senior national leadership with Ratio Christi
Currently Senior Editor and Ministry Coordinator specializing in apologetics and inspiration with The Stream (stream.org)
Tom writes this book not only with the head of an apologist, but the heart of a pastor. If you are unfamiliar with apologetics, you will still be able to make it through this book. He also has responses to internet soundbites which is something that we really need. Our young people today are not really having to answer arguments so much as they are having to answer slogans.
This is an important show for you to listen to but remember, if you happen to listen and there are possibly younger listeners around, you might want to listen to this one when it’s more private depending on when you plan to talk to your children. If they’re ready, Tom’s book will be one that is incredibly helpful. It is a fine one for you and your teenager to go through together.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts on Orlando

What do I think about the recent massacre? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I do not watch much news, so I was surprised when I kept getting Facebook notices yesterday about people marking themselves safe in Orlando. As I checked, I found out about a shooting that had taken place. In a massacre that had taken place in a homosexual night club, around 50 people were left dead. Many of us were quite horrified. Now I will say I am not one strong in empathy. My wife is that one. Still, I know that something is wrong.

It’s interesting to see the responses taking place. The shooter was someone who swore allegiance to ISIS. Still, despite this being a Muslim who swore allegiance to a terrorist group, it is amazing that Christianity is still getting the blame. We are getting the blame because we have enabled something like this supposedly with “anti-LGBT” laws.

Islam doesn’t need our help. Islam already has a number of pronouncements against homosexuality on its own. I think instead this leaves a lot of moderns in a state of confusion. On the one hand, they want to say Islam is a religion of peace. On the other hand, they want to condemn anything that they think goes against homosexuality. Here in America, we who are Christians disagree with your lifestyle and say we don’t want to see the government endorsing it. In Muslim countries, they will drop walls on you. Try to go to these Muslim countries and have a gay parade and see what happens.

Also, passing laws against behaviors does not equal a hatred towards the people. We disagree with a behavior. It does not mean in any way we hate the person for we can often disagree with our own behavior. We all do things we know that we shouldn’t. Part of the freedom in our American society is the freedom to disagree, but so few people disagree and discuss the issue any more. They instead discuss the persons who hold to the opinion.

I found it interesting to hear of people who were saying that this is why they left the church and Christianity. Again, this was still a Muslim loyal to ISIS who did this, but somehow it got back to the church. Unfortunately, people quote Leviticus in an incorrect way. Now I think there’s a powerful argument to be made that the holiness code of Leviticus 18 and 20 can still apply in large part, but that gets into a lot of reading of Scripture and hermeneutics that can be difficult. It’s an argument that we can make, but perhaps there is a better way.

After all, this assumes that no one would have any problem with homosexuality were it not for the Bible. This is just false. Even long before Christ it was seen as wrong to accuse someone of taking part in a homosexual relationship. In many cases, it was a man allowing himself to be treated as a woman which was seen as shameful. In the Greco-Roman world, there were mixed opinions, except on lesbianism. Most everyone condemned lesbianism. These condemnations were from people who were not following the Bible at all.

In fact, a common practice of the day was pederasty. This was a sexual relationship between a grown man and a young boy until the boy came of age. The man was not necessarily homosexual as he could have a wife as well, but this was seen as normal and according to nature in many ways. Today, most of us would look at something like the North American Man-Boy Love Association and condemn it. It would be considered as pedophilia today. (Although give it a few years and we’ll see what happens with pedophilia in the world) This was for the most part accepted and today, we would not share that opinion.

You can remove the Bible and still have a case against homosexual practice just like some of the ancient Greeks did. Unfortunately, too many growing up and leaving the church never consider the case against homosexual behavior. They just have a stance they don’t question and then say “Well if the Bible is against that, then it must be wrong.” (Unfortunately, this ties in with inerrancy as well as it is thought that if the Bible is wrong in this, can we take it seriously on anything else?) Of course, I don’t think the Bible is wrong, but the debate is not about the Bible even. It is about a practice.

If there is one thing that I found sad about it, it was in telling Allie last night that so many Christians were saying we are against the violence that took place. Now why would that be sad? Is it because I am in favor of the violence. No! Not at all! This was a wicked and evil act! What was sad is that we think we need to say it. It’s as if we are in a position where unless we come out and say we condemn the violence, that the world will look and think that we automatically support it. Is it a fault with how we are living Christianity or a fault of how we are explaining Christianity or both?

To go political, I also see that Obama made a statement. I have done a search of this statement. Nowhere in it is ISIS or Islam mentioned. I find it sad that our president is willing to speak out against people who are not wanting to allow transgenders to use the opposite bathroom, but when a shooting like this takes place, he cannot speak out against ISIS at all. ISIS is responsible for this. Why are we so hesitant to name the enemy?

It’s also easy to blame the guns. I happen to support the second amendment. Guns are not the problem but evil people with guns. I have no fear of a law-abiding citizen carrying a gun. It’s my contention that if you set up an area and declare it a “gun-free zone” you might as well put up a sign that says “Sitting ducks.” If an evil person wants to get a gun, they will get a gun. No law will stop them. If a law against murder is not stopping them, why would a law against guns?

No. The problem is we have lost our drive toward virtue and character. We live in a world where we seek the best for ourselves only and pleasure is the highest god. We don’t think seriously about being a good citizen. Most of us do not know how to engage in moral thinking. In fact, most of us don’t know how to engage in thinking. We talk so much about our feelings and we say so little about our thoughts. It has reached the point where if we feel it, then it must be true without really considering that our feelings could be wrong.

So in conclusion, what can be said? Yes. This was evil. I hate to have to say it because I shouldn’t need to, but we do condemn this. Some of you might use this as an excuse to avoid Christianity, but I urge you to look at the historical case for the resurrection instead and then decide. No. Changing gun laws will not make this less likely to happen. Finally, we need to name our enemy. ISIS is a threat and they are destroying societies in the Middle East and persecuting Christians and they can train people over here just as easily right under our noses.

The solution again is the same. It’s time for the church to be the church.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Critical Conversations

What do I think of Tom Gilson’s book published by Kregel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Parents have always tended to dread “the talk” and asked one another which one of them will be the ones to tell their children about the birds and the bees. As awkward as it has been in the past, today for Christian parents, it can be even more awkward. What was thought unthinkable in the past is now seen as the new normal. Christians for the most part know what the Bible says about homosexual practice and today, that leads to them being called bigots, haters, intolerant, etc.

What are Christian parents to do? It’s no longer enough in our day and age to just say “Well this is what the Bible says.” Something more is needed. That’s why I’m proud to support Tom Gilson’s book on the topic. Gilson writes a book that is intellectually rich but also with a pastoral heart. As you read it, it’s like Gilson is taking your hand and guiding you through the minefield and helping you see step by step how best to handle these conversations with your children.

Note I said conversations. The birds and the bees talk might be a one-time deal, but this is a prevalent issue that will likely involve more than one talk, especially as your teenager receives more challenges from classmates. Gilson is set to walk you through with a history of how we got here, what marriage means and why it matters, and how to handle challenges everywhere, even from a professor in a college classroom.

All that is well and good and you can find that information in many books, but if all you had was the final section, it would be worth the price of the book. In the final section Gilson takes a lot of the soundbite slogans that your child will encounter and works through how to answer them. He has an idea of a kind of conversation you can have all the while wanting you to make sure that it is not a script.

Most every slogan you can think of is addressed here. It’s as if Gilson sat at his computer writing every sound bite that came along and then decided to respond to all of them. It is a shame that we live in a soundbite culture where these kinds of statements have to be addressed, but unfortunately they do. Gilson does the job though. Your children will encounter taunts. They will be able to reply with substantial arguments.

If there’s something I would like to see in a future edition, I would like to see more of the positives of what we are defending. We as Christians have largely been seen as taking a negative side in the marriage debate. We need to make sure we present equally a very positive case. I would like to see more writing encouraging teenagers on the goodness of the male-female relationship and how it works in marriage, which would certainly include the grandeur and wonder of a sexual relationship, but also the way male and female can build themselves up to holiness in a life of joy. There is some of this when Gilson says every kiss with his wife is something big, but I would like to see more.

Still, this is a book I wish every Christian parent of teenagers would buy. Actually, change that. Every Christian who wants to know how to address homosexuality period whether you have teenagers or not should read this. You are coming across the soundbites just as much as they are. You too need this. Don’t avoid buying this book just because you don’t have teenagers. Buy it because you are a Christian in a world that needs the answers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Making Gay Okay

What do I think of Robert Reilly’s book published by Ignatius Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Reilly has written a book on how America is taking part in rationalizing on homosexual behavior and the affect it’s having on our society. He takes a unique approach as he is not arguing from Scripture but more from just the natural law tradition, despite his having a deep Catholic faith of his own. The book is very well-researched and goes into the history of what happened and what is going on in the world today as a result.

For Reilly, the problem started with the contraception movement. I can’t say I agree for sure because there had to be something else in the background. People can still use birth control and think that sex has an end and just know that it would not be good to have children at the time or perhaps in some cases, physically harmful to a mother. Do some people wrongly use this in order to justify whatever it is that they want to do sexually? Yes. They do. That is not the fault of the tool but of the people so we have to ask “What changed in the people?” I wish I had a clear answer to that, but I don’t.

Reilly’s book is certainly hard hitting as he goes through homosexual behavior and the affects it has on people and why arguments for it and for redefining marriage fail. If there is a common argument you hear in favor, you will likely see it responded to in this book. Those interested in a history of how we got to where we got will also be pleased to see it.

The version I read did include a statement about the 2015 Supreme Court decision. If that is rationalizing, one wonders what he would say about the transgender movement today. Reilly does say the viewpoint cannot really last and I agree, but what will be the cost of it for going against reality?

Reilly gives a history of what happened in the world of psychology as well that led to homosexuality not being included as a mental disorder. He then shows the effect this is having elsewhere such as what has happened with the Boy Scouts and what has happened with the military as people seek to remove all barriers whatsoever and treat male-male and female-female relationships as equal in every way to male-female relationships. We have now reached the point where homosexual applause is something that we are exporting to the rest of the world.

Reilly’s book is hard hitting. I do wish he had said more about no-fault divorce as I think that was the largest hit to the nature of marriage and sadly, it was one Christians allowed to happen easily enough. There are times I do realize divorce could be a necessity, but it should always be seen as a sad one. If you want an argument besides “The Bible says” this book is right up your alley and worth reading.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: People To Be Loved

What do I think of Preston Sprinkle’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Preston Sprinkle has written a unique book on homosexuality where he says it’s not just an issue and frankly raises up a point that we often lose sight of. People are people. Whatever person you’re arguing against, they are a person. This is something both sides need to learn. Traditionalists like myself can often see just the issue and be tempted to think the worst about homosexuals that we meet, when in reality many homosexuals, like many heterosexuals, are wonderful people. Of course, just like heterosexuals, some are jerks. How you view your sexuality is not a determiner of your demeanor.

Meanwhile, those on the left need to realize that the homosexuals are persons as well. In what way do they often act otherwise? It’s too easy to assume that if someone is a homosexual, that that entails their identity so that if you say homosexual practice is wrong, you are treating the person as if they are not a person, and this is simply false.

Sprinkle wrote this book wanting us to see not just the issue but the person. He starts by talking about being on a plane and sharing with some people who ask what project he’s working on and he says it’s a book on homosexuality. The husband shakes his head saying there is no debate and the Bible is very clear. Sprinkle does want to say there is a huge debate in academia, but instead he asks where the Bible is clear. Unfortunately, the man has no idea where the Bible verses are that speak about homosexual practice.

Too many Christians could be like that today.

Sprinkle also does introduce with too many stories of homosexuals who have committed suicide and have been bullied for their being homosexual. Naturally, we should all condemn this sort of behavior. He also writes about those who leave the church. Interestingly, they don’t leave because they’re told same-sex behavior is wrong. They leave because of how they’re treated. The main walk away he wants you to get is that homosexuality is not about an abstract issue. It is about an issue that concerns people to be loved.

In this, many of Sprinkle’s stories hit hard. He does open this by a look at the Scriptures themselves. He comes down on the side of the traditionalists, who he describes as non-affirming. He also addresses many of the issues such as if someone is born with a sexual orientation and if change is possible of an orientation. He points out that too many of us have this idea that if you have to live your life without sex that it is absolutely unlivable.

Sprinkle also wants us to know that homosexuality does not define someone’s life. Still, while I agree that most homosexuals are fine people and there are other sins to focus on, I do think there are some people that while they are still people to be loved, there needs to be more on how to respond to them. Do some people get turned away from the church because there are many Christians who are aggressive and unloving to them? Yes. Of course. There are also homosexuals who are also aggressive and speak about their lifestyles.

What about situations such as the book After The Ball written as a coercive propaganda material to change the hearts and minds of Americans, which was a brilliant success by all standards. There are in fact people who want to be aggressive in their homosexuality and label us as intolerant bigoted homophobes if we disagree. Then there are issues many people have with the transgender talk today about men sharing bathrooms with women.

Do we love those people who are hurting and open to discussions? Of course. We are also to love the aggressive ones, but shouldn’t our approach be different? I did not really find Sprinkle’s book addressing how to deal with this. We could say Christians seem to always be talking about homosexuality, but that’s also because our culture is always talking about homosexuality. We are talking about what everyone is talking about and giving our viewpoints.

While few Christians will ever meet a leader in this movement, they are online and they will meet them and they will meet heterosexual supporters of the homosexual movement who are like them in their responses. There is a problem with Christians of course treating homosexuals horribly, but how are Christians to respond when homosexuals do likewise? While I know Sprinkle is for non-violence, as am I and I do not think this needs to be physical, I don’t think this means we just lie down and let homosexuals walk all over us.

Still, I have to say that Sprinkle’s book is a breath of fresh air. If I could recommend one book on the popular level, it would be this one. Sprinkle gives you good academic research and then he gives an excellent application. Sprinkle reminds us that every time we discuss homosexuality, we are also discussing homosexual persons. These are people to be loved. No. These are people who are loved by Jesus. The question is, are we going to love like Jesus did also? We do not affirm the sin, but we do love the person.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sexuality in the New Testament

What do I think of William Loader’s book published by Westminster John Knox Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

William Loader is the scholar in the world who has probably written more on sexuality and the Bible than anyone else. Naturally, the Bible talks a lot about sex. Is it because the Bible is a perverse and dirty book as some would say? No. It’s because people talk about sex a lot and it’s a dominant feature in our society just like it was in the ancient world. Loader aptly gives us a warning on page 5.

“Sometimes wanting to know becomes impatient to the point of jumping too quickly to conclusions or filling in gaps with fantasy instead of coming to terms with the limits of our knowledge. Particularly in dealing with matters of sexuality it is not uncommon for people to become deeply involved emotionally in wanting, indeed, needing texts to say certain things which would reinforce or confirm their own beliefs and attitudes. This can happen from many different angles, both from those wanting to affirm what some might see as conservative positions and those wanting the opposite.”

This is a major point worth stressing. Many of us today want the Bible to side with us. Now we could take a totally foreign approach and say the text has no real meaning, but this is problematic as we should not approach any text this way. Could it be difficult to know what the author meant to say sometimes? Sure. There are matters open to dispute. Sometimes it isn’t and with many of these texts, I think the meaning is clear.

The first place Loader starts with is the texts on homosexuality. Loader looks at the various interpretations of all the texts in the debate and frankly, comes down on a conservative side, and this after looking at what most scholars are saying. This does not mean necessarily he agrees with that. I find it hard to tell frankly, but that’s a strength of Loader’s work. It’s hard to know what bias he himself might bring to the debate and frankly, I can understand much better if I encounter someone who says “Yes. This is what the text means. I just disagree.”

Loader also deals with some of the revisionist ideas such as the idea that the Centurion’s servant is a homosexual lover or that the Beloved Disciple was involved in a homosexual relationship with Jesus. These are times where I really think the homosexual reading is grasping at straws. As Loader indicated above, you can read anything into a text if you want to. We must all be looking to ask “But what does the text mean?”

Loader goes on from there to talk about marriage itself and what the Bible has to say about it. He interacts with ideas of polygyny as well and notes that it was limited, although the Damascus Document was pretty hard on it. Loader thinks this could be a minority position. Of course, polygyny would also be costly so few people would do it. Loader goes on from here to talk about issues of divorce and remarriage and pregnancy and child birth. Naturally, Loader will also touch on the household codes found in Ephesians and Colossians. He rightly states that the way the husband is to act to his wife still is the way Christ does for the church, which is loving and not violent or exploitative.

From there, we move on to adultery in the Bible. Many of the texts are quite clear on this and the idea is that sex is to be between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage. I was pleased also to see a talk about what lust is in the discussion. I do think the command to lust is speaking about another person’s wife, which makes it a form of covenant, but I think it can also mean an excessive desire, a desire that dehumanizes the person and makes them only an object of sex. After all, today if a man and a woman are dating, it is not a problem I think if the man has sexual desire for the woman. He ought to. If he does not desire her, he has problems.

Now some will wonder about spiritual adultery. What does that mean? Looking at another woman with lust. Frankly, I like what Robert Gagnon said at a talk he once gave on a podcast about this where he said “If spiritual adultery is grounds for divorce, every woman could divorce a man on her wedding day.” Lust is something to be avoided to be sure, but let’s not be extreme in saying everything is adultery. Actual physical adultery is worse.

There’s a lot in the book that is covered and yet it is a short read. If you want a good lowdown on what the New Testament says about sexuality and scholars on both sides, you owe yourself to check out Loader’s work.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

SNL and God’s Not Gay

What do I think of SNL’s parody? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We live in a society today that wants to talk about being kind and generous to everyone. We don’t want to offend anyone. We want to uphold the basic rights of every person that is out there. We want to celebrate our diversity and be tolerant towards everyone.

Except for those Christians. Yeah. We can mark them off.

You see, SNL has decided it’s time to have some fun at the expense of Christians and show just that they must be ridiculous because they oppose redefining marriage. Thus, they have made a little parody video called “God’s Not Gay” although it ends being called “God is a Boob Man.” It’s this idea that all Christians are doing nowadays is arguing against basic rights for homosexuals. It never seems to occur to people that we talk about this for the same reason a lot of people talk about Donald Trump. That’s the issue being talked about right now.

The premise starts off with a baker who refuses to bake a cake for a homosexual couple. Well, you know, it’s kind of good to see that there’s complaints about people refusing to do business with those who have views they disagree with. Naturally, this means that we can expect to soon see an SNL parody of the stance of Bruce Springsteen, Ringo Starr, Cirque Du Soleil, a porn site that blocked traffic to NC, and of course, Michael Moore who is withholding his latest film from NC. (Experts predict that he could have a loss of two tickets being sold.)

MichaelMooreBurned

Now here’s the thing. I happen to think that freedom is a wonderful thing and if these people don’t want to do business in NC, that’s their right. In fact, you could say that what they did is in fact a greater violation than what bakers are doing because these people made a contract that they agreed to and then backed out of it. Sure, people’s money for tickets will be reimbursed to them, but what about travel costs, arranging trips, making hotel stays, etc.? Still, no one has a right to the goods and services of these people. They are not obligated to perform for anyone. That’s freedom.

Most of us just want bakers and florists and photographers to get the same basic right. They produce a good or a service and they have the right to do what they want with that good and service. If they find it morally objectionable for them to do something involving a homosexual ceremony, that is their right. There are numerous other bakers and florists and photographers who will do this. Of course, as I say this, I realize that this is where the great virtue of tolerance we heard so much about goes right out the window.

“Well what if this baker wanted to deny making cases to people who are over 6 feet tall? What would you say then?”

I’d say it’s her business and she can do that if she wants. Do I think that would be a foolish decision? Yep. Do I think it would cost her the business? Sure do. Still, it is her business and she can do that if she wants. If she wants to serve only homosexuals and deny cakes for heterosexual couples, that is also her right. It doesn’t make any sense to say we celebrate freedom of everyone but if you disagree with what we want you to do, we will force the law on you.

In the parody, the lady refuses to do this and instead of having it be about an issue, such as what is the thought of God on homosexual practice, it becomes “Is God gay?” Yes. I understand they want to make a parody, but it’s one that doesn’t even make sense. Of course, SNL will never raise those deeper metaphysical questions and sadly, neither will a lot of people and that includes people on both sides of the debate. Some people will just go with “The Bible says X. I believe it. That settles it.” The other side will just be proclaiming love and tolerance (Until you disagree with them) and automatically paint their side as the positive. (Marriage equality. After all, who wants to oppose equality, although it is never asked if the relationships are really equal or not)

There is a scene also with discussion about problems facing our country including obesity and then this baker comes in and says she wants to deny basic rights to gay people. The man in charge says that that is the #1 priority. Again, the reason Christians are talking about this issue is because this is the issue being talked about. We could just as well ask that if these other causes are so much more important, why is everyone else so caught up in debates over homosexuality?

The film ends with a proclamation from the woman that “God is a boob man.” Yeah. This really makes sense. It’s as if God opposes homosexuality because God is a really big man in the sky who likes the ladies. This is not held to seriously by any Christian theologian but hey, why bother interacting with what your opposition thinks when you can get a laugh instead?

Now if SNL really wants to proclaim themselves as champions of equality and tolerance, I hope they keep going. I really do. After all, there are viewpoints out there that take a far tougher stance on homosexual practice than Christians do. I look forward to SNL making parodies about them. Therefore, I look forward to seeing them do a parody called Allah’s Not Gay or Allah Is A Boob Man. After all, in Muslim countries being a practicing homosexual can get you killed. We are sure that SNL will want to speak out against that intolerance and bigotry soon.

Or is it only Christians who you speak out against because you know Christians will not drop walls on you? Christians will actually give you the freedom to disagree. Do note this. I think SNL’s parody is highly offensive, but I do not think it’s right to go to the law and censor them for it. They have the right to make any parody that they want. I also have the right to respond to it and to do so with what I think is a reasoned argument. Now you can think my argument is a bad argument all you want, but it is an argument still.

In fact, I have not taken a hard line here to say homosexual practice is wrong. You can search on my blog here for other writings I’ve done on homosexual practice. I’m simply wanting to say that I see an inconsistency with Christians being called intolerant for not wanting to give the goods and services they own to someone else while Springsteen, Starr, and others get to do exactly that and they get celebrated as heroes.

Christians are often accused of being hypocrites. No doubt we are to some extent, but those who want to go after hypocrisy need to watch their own. Freedom is a wonderful thing and it works both ways.

In Christ,
Nick Peters