Book Plunge: One Nation Under God

What do I think of Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo’s book published by B&H Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Two of the things you’re never supposed to discuss at the dinner table are politics and religion. What happens when you bring both of them together? Usually, matters become even more explosive. Some Christians want to avoid politics altogether and think that the Kingdom of God should have nothing to do with the governments of men. Some would prefer to combine the two together and say that we will make the Kingdom of God come on Earth through the government.

Ashford and Pappalardo have problems with both positions. Something interesting about their book is that you will not find hard condemnation of either conservatism or liberalism. You will not find targeting of the Republican party or the Democrat party. You will find discussions of the issues, but the writers leave it to you, the reader, to decide where you will take your stand beyond that.

The book starts with opening sections describing the relationship between Christians and culture. Many views are critiqued and some are settled on. It also talks about not only what the content of our presentation will be in the public square, but also how it is that we will go about presenting our viewpoint in the public square. Make no mistake, the writers definitely think Christians do need to stand up for their position.

When it gets to the issues, there are explanations of what is going on in each of the issues and then there are examples of Christians who are taking a stand on those issues. These are quite helpful as they provide often not just examples of the content but how the writers want to see Christians go about making their case in the public square. The writers then end each section with several recommended books. These are classified in range from beginning level to advanced so that if you don’t know where to go, you can have a general idea.

Issues discussed include topics like abortion, the nature of marriage, the environment, economics, war, race relations, and immigration. The writers again do not side with any one party on these issues explicitly. They do take a stand and often explain where it is that they make their stand, but they also leave a lot left unsaid. After all, this is meant to give you just an introduction to the basic facts and they don’t so much I suspect want to tell you their views, but rather how they think that you should go about coming to your own conclusion.

I do sometimes wish more sources had been given on a topic. One main example is that in the section on the environment, there was no mention of the main Christian response to this, the Cornwall Alliance For The Stewardship of Creation. There were a few other sections where I thought more works could have been added, but what is there is certainly sufficient to get someone started on the path.

This is a good and short book. If you work hard, you could read it in a day, but it will prepare you for when it comes time to vote. The reader will start to have a better grasp on the issues and can further read on the issues that interest them most.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Taking Rites Seriously

What do I think of Francis Beckwith’s book published by Cambridge University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to say at the start that I was provided with this review copy by Beckwith himself to see if I wanted him to come on my podcast. Rest assured, I do. Beckwith’s book is not just a book I want to get in the hands of many Christians I interact with, but also in the hands of many atheists I interact with.

Beckwith’s main contention is that we have often misunderstood arguments and said that as long as we say that they are “religious” or have a religious motive, then that means we do not need to consider them as real intellectual arguments. This is simply false. It could be someone holds a position for religious reasons and it could even be that someone holds a position (Such as the wrongness of homosexual behavior) just because the Bible says so, but that does not mean that that is the only reason that there is or the only motive that there is.

Something I like about Beckwith’s book is that he tries to give everyone a fair shake. Even if it is a position that he disagrees with, he tries to give it a fair look. When looking at some court rulings, even if the ruling would be favorable towards his position, Beckwith can still point out why he thinks it is an unwise ruling. This is something that we should all learn from. Just because the conclusion agrees with us does not mean that the decision was the right one. You can make the right decision for all the wrong reasons.

Some readers will also be surprised to find that Beckwith disagrees with Intelligent Design. I in fact would find myself closer to his position seeing as I think that we have married Christianity to modern science and what happens if this is explained another way? Wouldn’t it be best to have our apologetic built on something that cannot be shown false by scientific discovery? Why not base our theism on metaphysical principles, especially since the question of God is not really a scientific question but a metaphysical one. (This does not mean it does not have ramifications for science, but the final arbiter is metaphysics.)

Also, the reader will find some very helpful points on the issue of redefining marriage. This is one of the major issues of our time and Beckwith rightly shows that in reality, the people that are not being tolerant and not allowing liberty are more often the ones on the left. Beckwith has a great familiarity with the literature on both sides. One will also find similarity with the abortion debate as well.

If there was one thing I’d like differently in Beckwith’s books, it’d be that I’d like reading them sometimes to be more like listening to him speak. It’s my understanding that Beckwith grew up in the Las Vegas area and knows about the comedians and if you hear him speak, it is absolutely hysterical. Andy Bannister has managed to pull off great humor in a book. It would be interesting to see Beckwith do the same.

Still, this is a book that should be read by anyone interested in religious debates. As I said earlier also, Beckwith has the great virtue as well of wanting to treat the arguments of his opponents seriously as well. Beckwith is not just wanting to reach right conclusions, but wanting to reach them the right way and will settle for nothing less.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: God and the Gay Christian

What do I think of Matthew Vines’s book published by Convergent Books? Let’s Plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Matthew Vines has become somewhat of a celebrity in the church for being outspoken about being a homosexual and for making the case that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. His book is an autobiographical look at his life and how he reached his conclusion as well as a look at Scriptural texts that he thinks are relevant to the case. While many times there are those who dismiss the Bible, Vines does do us a favor right at the start by stating where he comes from. On page 1 he says

Like most theologically conservative Christians, I hold what is often called a “high view” of the Bible. That means I believe all of Scripture is inspired by God and authoritative for my life. While some parts of the Bible address cultural norms that do not directly apply to modern societies, all of Scripture is “useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NRSV)

In this, Vines and I are quite likely to agree as I too hold a high view. What we will disagree with starkly will be our interpretations and as we go through, I wonder how much of this high view Vines has will be consistently upheld. What I also want to be on the watch for is to look and see if it more often happens that experience trumps Scripture.

One aspect I kept wondering about in the book was about the emphasis on homosexuality. Let’s suppose I instead wanted to write “God and the incestual Christian” or “God and the polygamous Christian.” Could I use many of the same arguments? I would wager that in many cases, I could. In fact, were I to argue for this, I could probably make a more convincing case. After all, Paul only condemns one kind of incestual relationship and someone like Abraham married his step-sister. Would Matthew Vines then be open to the possibility of loving and committed incestual relationships?

Vines goes into an autobiographical account early on of how he got here, which is fine for all intents and purposes, but something we must be watchful of. We do not want to get caught in the feeling of the story so much that we let it overpower our reason as we examine the case. Vines shows how he grew up in a conservative home and knew people in school who were gay and seemed normal enough. (What are we to expect? Gay people act totally different in every aspect of life?) He later on in college came to identify himself as a homosexual and then began a process of going through the Bible with that in mind to see what he could say to his parents who would be heartbroken.

Vines says in his book that one other reason he lost confidence in the idea that same-sex relationships were sinful is that it no longer made sense. Perhaps it didn’t, but if we go through and see that this is what the text says, then we are obligated to do it. Would I be justified in breaking the commandment to lust just because it no longer made sense to me? “Yes God. I understand why you don’t want me to sleep with other women than my wife, but hey, looking is natural. It doesn’t make sense to me why I can’t look.” He says the relationships he saw that were committed were characterized by faithfulness, commitment, mutual love, and self-sacrifice and what sin looks like that? Perhaps we could say incestuous relationships would look like that, so again we have to ask if Vines would support the book “God and the Incestuous Christian.”

One of the main passages Vines goes to repeatedly is to say that a tree is known by its fruit and says “Well the fruit of homosexual relationships that are committed is mutual love and self-sacrifice while condemning it leads to the suicide and bullying of many homosexuals.” No doubt, evangelicals across the board would condemn bullying homosexuals and we would agree that homosexual suicide is a tragedy, but are we not getting into the dangers of pragmatism and victimization? Would Vines for instance justify my robbing a bank if I give all the money to the local hospital? After all, look at all the good that came from my action! As for the suicide of homosexuals, could it not be that this is a result of how much sex is put on a huge pedestal in our society where sex is everything? Is this not part of what’s going on when you consider who you sleep with such a major part of your identity. How many times do we see characters in pop culture and such saying “I can’t die a virgin!” or something like that?

Suppose we had a group of men who were married but were depressed because they could not sleep with other women. This great desire came at them everyday and eventually a lot of them just broke and hung themselves rather than face the fact that they could not have polygamous relationships. Would Vines then be in support of looking again at polygamy? Would he be in support of men who hung themselves because they could not have sex with their mother or their sister?

The passage in Matthew 7 is in fact talking about prophets and not about outworkings of teachings. I take it that the message is that if someone is truly a prophet of God, their message will line up with Scripture. If my interpretation is correct, and I consider that much more likely, then if Vines fails in his case, then it is in fact him who is the one producing the bad fruit by encouraging us to hold to a wrong interpretation of Scripture. We should keep this in mind especially since I said earlier we can’t go by experience, an insight Vines agrees with since on page 24 he tells us that experience is subjective and prone to error as a judge of truth.

Vines tries to compare the case of homosexuality being okay to the case of the Earth going around the sun. The problem was that we can see quite simply how the text is being misread in those accounts. (He’s also wrong about the people thinking being at the center of the universe was a good thing. It wasn’t. God was seen as being on the outer circles.) Vines will have to have incredibly strong evidence to show that 2,000 years of church reading has been wrong.

Vines does still want us to think about our own experience with sexuality. Can we point to a specific moment where we chose to be attracted to members of the opposite sex? Well no. Can a person with depression point to a specific moment where they chose to be depressed? Can a person with PTSD point to a specific moment where they chose to have PTSD? I am one who once struggled with panic attacks and I can tell you there is no one specific moment where I chose to have panic attacks. It is part of this idea that if you did not choose to have something, then you were born with it. Why should I believe that? I do not think people would generally choose to be homosexual any more than they would to have PTSD or depression or panic attacks.

Let’s move on to Scriptural interpretations. Vines looks at Matthew 19 and says that only those who have the gift of celibacy should abstain from sexual unions. Vines says that Jesus or Paul never enjoined homosexuals to lifelong celibacy nor did they endorse redefining marriage. Of course not because there was no need to. Jesus stood behind a solid interpretation of the Old Testament and in fact at any point where it came to the morality of the Old Testament, Jesus raised the bar. You don’t murder? Good. How are you doing with hating your brother? You don’t commit adultery? Good. How are you doing at not looking at women to lust after them?

So in the end, it looks like Vines is saying that if homosexuals don’t have the gift of celibacy, then they should not stay celibate, and if they should not stay celibate, they should marry one another. How does such a view work? Are we to say that if Jesus met someone who burned with passion for his mother and did not think he had the gift of celibacy, that Jesus would okay him marrying his mother? Are we to think Paul would think someone who burned with passion for multiple women should in fact be okay with polygamous relationships? If the Corinthian church had written back and said that the man who was in an incestual relationship with his stepmother burned with passion and did not have the gift of celibacy then we would expect Paul would say “Well why didn’t you say so earlier? Sure. Let him have that relationship.”

Amazingly, Vines goes from here to 1 Timothy 4 and speaks of false teachers who will forbid marriage. Yet when Paul talked about marriage, he had something specific in mind. Again, would this verse be able to be used by people wanting incestual marriage? How about people wanting polygamous marriage?

Let’s move on to Sodom. Now I do think inhospitality can be included on the list of why Sodom was destroyed, but Vines is too quick to say that Bible scholars on both sides have dismissed homosexuality as the sin of Sodom. Robert Gagnon, for instance, has plenty of material on the sin of Sodom and he would certainly include homosexuality. This includes how Ezekiel uses language from the holiness code of Leviticus and the language of abomination that is used in Leviticus 20:13.

Amusingly, Vines also goes to Jude 7 and says the men were pursuing sarkos heteras which is translated as other flesh and says the problem was that they were too much pursuing flesh that was different. Gagnon questions such an interpretation of the passage and rightly points out that the men did not know that the visitors were angels. As Gagnon says

According to Jude 7 the men of Sodom “committed sexual immorality (ekporneusasai) and went after other flesh.” Jones is correct in thinking that “went after other flesh” refers to sex with the angelic visitors but fails in his assumption that “committed sexual immorality” has the same referent. Jude 7 is an instance of parataxis: two clauses conjoined by ‘and’ where one is conceptually subordinated to the other. Jones follows other homosexualist interpretations in assuming the meaning as “they committed sexual immorality by going after other flesh.” But a paratactic construction in Greek can just as easily make the first clause subordinate; in this case, “by (or: in the course of) committing sexual immorality they went after other flesh.” In other words, in the process of attempting the sexually immoral act of having intercourse with other men, the men of Sodom got more than they bargained for: committing an offense unknowingly against angels (note the echo in Heb 13:2: “do not neglect hospitality to strangers for, because of this, some have entertained angels without knowing it”). This is apparently how the earliest ‘commentator’ of Jude 7 read it. For 2 Peter 2:6-7, 10 refers to the “defiling desire/lust” of the men of Sodom. Since the men of Sodom did not know that the male visitors were angels—so not only Gen 19:4-11 but also all subsequent ancient interpreters—the reference cannot be to a lust for angels but rather must be to a lust for men. So both Jude 7 and 2 Pet 2:6-7 provide further confirmation in the history of interpretation that the Sodom narrative is correctly interpreted when one does not limit the indictment of male homosexual relations to coercive forms.

Thus, I do not find what Vines says to be convincing. Are there other sins going on in the text besides homosexuality? Yes. There definitely are. Is homosexuality a sin that is going on in the text? Yes. It definitely is.

Let’s move on to Leviticus.

Vines is right that there are many OT laws that we do not follow because they were never placed on us. However, there are plenty that we do still follow. “Love your neighbor as yourself” comes from Leviticus after all. Vines wants to ask how much of this still applies. He looks to Leviticus 18:19 and 20:18 which speak of sex while a woman is menstruating. However, the punishment is being cut off. The punishment for other offenses in Leviticus 20 meanwhile is death. The idea of the menstrual cycle is to give a woman rest instead of rather letting her be treated like an object. Israelites did consider uncovering blood to be shameful and that would mean more quarantine.

Vines also wants to look at what else the OT doesn’t condemn such as polygamy and concubinage and it allows for divorce. Sure, but like many other systems, we must keep in mind Leviticus was not meant to bring us Heaven on Earth nor was any of the Torah. God starts with Israel where they are. We’re even told 2 Samuel 12:7-8 would have allowed for more wives, but is that what it says?

7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.

Israel was not to go past the bounds of the lands of Israel and Judah. Why would God then give more? Or is it saying that God was ready to bless David abundantly and all that Saul had had transferred over to David when Saul died and God would have been willing to give even more. This is not speaking about just wives but of the whole idea of more than Saul had would have belonged to David. The whole problem with Vines’s argument is he assumes that these practices are abandoned, so maybe the others. Sure. Maybe bestiality has been abandoned. Jesus and Paul say nothing about it. Maybe child sacrifice has been abandoned. Maybe incest has been abandoned. How far do we go?

Vines is right that different words are used to speak of abominations, but in the text in Leviticus, it all comes from the holiness code. It can refer to ritual uncleanliness, but it can also refer to moral wickedness and the text is quite clear with saying that whoever does this gets death. This is more than just ritual uncleanliness. Vines tries to get around the idea of the death penalty by saying we consider many punishments excessive. Perhaps we do, but this is the standard God set for the nation of Israel and it won’t work to say “This seems excessive to us, so surely it isn’t so great a sin.”

In the end, I frankly look at Vines’s statements and wonder what on Earth is being condemned in Leviticus. It’s as if we’re told that this was once worthy of death, but today it’s no big deal. In fact, today we should celebrate it. That will require a look at the New Testament. Let’s go there. Vines sees Romans 1 as the most important passage for discussion so let’s see what we make of his argument there.

Vines is of course correct that some matters are cultural. For instance, we have ended slavery, but slaves in the time were expected to serve their masters honorably and with respect. Men and women could greet one another with a holy kiss in church, but today you could get a lawsuit for that one. (Although I do try to tell my wife during greeting time that we should greet one another with a holy kiss.) The question is not “Are there cultural commands?” The question is “Is Romans 1 an example?”

I do not think so because Romans 1 also points back to Genesis 1 and 2. You have numerous tie-ins in the text. You have terminology not elsewhere used such as creator, creation, and male and female. The description of the creatures also matches the descriptions found in Genesis 1. Paul is referring back to creation. What he is saying is that idolatry is a blatant example of getting the vertical relationship wrong. In idolatry, one takes that which is the creation and treats it like the creator. In the same way for Paul, homosexuality is an example on the horizontal level. One takes the body clearly meant to be used sexually with members of the opposite sex, and instead uses it with members of the same sex. Vines instead sees it as the condemnation of excess rather than moderation of the desires.

But Paul does not allow that. Paul says the desires themselves are shameful and there is no indication that he thought only a little bit would have been okay. One would in fact wonder why if same-sex behavior was truly a good thing Paul would say to not have too much of it. We don’t see that going on with heterosexuals since in 1 Cor. 7, Paul urges us to NOT abandon the coming together of ourselves. Paul says nothing about the intentions of the act or the frequency. He says the act and the desire themselves are both wrong. Again, I find Vines just straining.

Let’s move on to 1 Cor. 6. The question is over the two words that are used. Vines wishes to say the term Malakoi refers to effeminate men, but will this stand up? Let’s look at how this holds up. The passage reads as follows:

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

All of this is about sexual immorality as idolatry always carried with it a notion of sexual misbehavior. In this case, the malakoi has been used elsewhere to refer to people who allow themselves to be the passive partner in a homosexual relationship. This shows up in the writings of Soranus and Pseudo-Aristotle. Meanwhile, the next term arsenokoitai is in fact a term that comes from two words in the LXX that come from Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, the passages about homosexuality, and it is a combination of “lying” and “male”. No. This doesn’t refer to all men are liars, but to the act of sexually lying with someone. Vines wants to suggest that Paul could have in mind pederasty, but there were words specifically referring to that if Paul had wanted to say that.

Vines goes on in the book to argue further about how we should change society in light of this, but I do not find this at all convincing since his arguments are just extremely weak. Despite his idea of wanting to be open and friendly, he does cast a gauntlet down when he says on pages 161-2 that “It is the church that is sinning against them by rejecting their intimate relationships.” So apparently, Vines is making it clear. We either accept homosexuals as they are or else we are sinning.

He closes also with seeds of a modern reformation with three people who have been influential in supporting homosexual relationships, two are evangelical and one of those is an evangelical scholar. The interesting aspect is none of these stories starts with a look at Scripture by itself. It all starts with people having emotional reasons to want to embrace homosexuality, such as the first who made a good friend who was a homosexual and the evangelical having a child who was homosexual. Again, I am convinced that experience is trumping Scripture.

In conclusion, Vines puts forward a better argument than most, but one that is lacking, but he deserves to be answered. I encourage others to read Gagnon as well in response to Vines and those that he cites and I look forward to the day when there is a Vines-Gagnon debate.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Homosexuality and the Bible — Two Views

What do I think of this book published by Augsburg Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dan Via and Robert Gagnon come together in this book to discuss the view of the Bible on homosexuality. Via I have not known of prior to this, but I did know of Gagnon and I have to say that in this area, Gagnon is a force to be reckoned with. There is a reason people like Matthew Vines do not want to debate Robert Gagnon. Thus, when I saw that he was involved in a book debate on the topic of homosexuality and since I’m doing a research project on that in Romans 1 now, I thought this would be an excellent one to go through.

Unfortunately, if there’s a criticism I have of this, it’s that it is way too short. The book could be read in a few hours which I found troublesome. This is a serious topic and it deserves more time in the press than something this short. In fact, Gagnon had to restrict a lot of what he wrote because it was too long and so throughout his essay, he links to notes on his web site where readers can go to find a fuller treatment. I would have recommended that while Gagnon could have written something too long that Via would be asked to give a more engaging essay of greater length rather than just have Gagnon cut his. There are plenty of things that could have been said.

Much of Via’s arguments are exactly what you would expect along the lines of what was going on in Sodom and matters of that sort. Gagnon’s responses thoroughly show the weaknesses, though not at times as much as one would like in the book format and again, this is because Gagnon has a fuller treatment on the issue on his web site. Perhaps it would have also helped to have had other readers who were commentators on this debate. It might have even been better to have Via and Gagnon discuss separately the major Biblical passages on the topic in separate chapters.

This is also an issue the church needs to pay attention to as it has become the shibboleth of the day. Increasingly for Christians, it will become a major issue as many of our young people who are deciding what truth is more based on their feelings and experience than reason and Scripture are being thoroughly confused on all matters relating to sexuality. Sadly, few of them will pick up a massive tome like Gagnon’s and go through it and unfortunately, few of them will probably go to his web site to look at the in-depth research that he has done. It’s sad to think that we live in the information age but people today want all the information catered to them and are not interested in doing any work.

While short, I must say that it is good to see Gagnon demolish the opposition in this one. Those who are wanting to see a debate on the topic in book form can start here and hopefully more will follow and as this increasingly becomes more of an issue, I am sure that more will follow. I am also thankful that we have as astute a scholar as Gagnon on our side in this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/18/2015

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

Marriage. It’s all in the news today. It’s amazing that what has been argued by some as just a piece of paper is at the same time being argued as essential for the homosexual movement. What is it about marriage that has sparked such a debate? What is marriage? Is it just a connection of two people in love, or is it something different? How could we ever know? In order to answer these questions, I decided to have a scholar of marriage come on my show so this Saturday, I am honored to be bringing you Glenn Stanton.


Glenn T. Stanton is the director of Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs and a research fellow at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. He debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the world. Stanton served the George W. Bush administration for many years as a consultant on increasing fatherhood involvement in the Head Start program.

Stanton is the author of five books about marriage and families, including “Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society,” “My Crazy, Imperfect Christian Family” and “Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting,” which was featured on C-SPAN BookTV. Stanton has also been interviewed on the Los Angeles NPR show, “AirTalk.” He is also a contributing author to nine others.

His latest book, “Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth,” explores how Christians should interact with gay or lesbian neighbors in a Christ-honoring way. He is also the author of “The Ring Makes All the Difference,” and “Secure Daughters, Confident Sons: How Parents Guide Their Children into Authentic Masculinity and Femininity.”

Stanton is a graduate of the University of West Florida with graduate degrees in philosophy and history. He now makes his home in Colorado Springs with his wife and five children.

We’ll be talking with Stanton about the SCOTUS ruling first to determine what his stance is on the matter and why he thinks the way he thinks. What are Christians to say about this? Does having something be the law of the land mean that it is actually true, or is this a case of trying to redefine something?

We’ll also then talk about what difference marriage really makes to a society and to a person. Many people today are wanting to live together before getting married. After all, why would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? We also have a problem with a culture that readily turns to divorce. What role does sex play in a marriage? What difference does it make how you live your marriage if you are married?

These are all important questions and I am honored to have an expert in the field come on, particularly as my own wife and I get ready to celebrate five years together. I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Supreme Court And Redefining Marriage

What do we do now that the court has ruled? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Like many of you, I’m disappointed by the ruling of the court today on marriage, but I am not shocked. We’ve had this before and it’s not the end of the world. The court also ruled on abortion. The question now comes to what are we going to do from here?

We are going to do what our marching orders already were. They were the Great Commission and they haven’t changed. They’re still the same. Are we living in a culture that despises Christianity for the most part. Yes, as were the first Christians and in fact, they lived in a worse one. (I am speaking to those living in America) We have not yet resisted, as Hebrews would say, to the point of shedding our blood, though many of us do think such a time is coming. Many of us can be disappointed that this ruling happened, and that is understandable, but we should not be shocked. Why did it happen?

It’s not because the world did what they do. That is what we’d expect. Why should we expect people who don’t share that worldview would act as if they did? If you want to know what has gone wrong in this country, it is not the fault of those outside the body of Christ. They are not to blame. It is the fault of those who are in the body of Christ. The reason things have happened the way they have is we have not followed our marching orders. We have insulated ourselves inside of our little bubbles and hoped that Jesus would just come back and ignored what happened in the world around us. I mean, as long as we and our children are okay, so what? We’ve done our part.

We have never fully done our part. Our part is never done.

Today is not a day to look in fear. Today is a day to look at what has happened and say “Challenge accepted.” We never stopped fighting against abortion despite the ruling of the court, just as over a century and a half ago some would not stop fighting against slavery, despite the Dred Scott decision. Why should we stop now? If we are right in our claim that marriage is a man and a woman, no ruling from a court could change that. That would be like saying that if the court ruled tomorrow that triangles have four sides or that something can go faster than the speed of light, then we would accept those things as well.

So what do we do?

The same thing we’ve always done. We just now remember what the stakes are when we don’t follow our marching orders. We are to do all that we can to spread the Kingdom of God and it should not be a shock to us that we face opposition along that path and often from the governments, just like the early Christians did. Let us instead of being afraid, come together and unite as we should and do that which we were told to do.

We will be either obedient to Christ or we won’t.

I’ve made my choice.

What’s yours?

in Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters 10/5/2013 Robert Gagnon

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Dr. Gagnon will be my guest and is an informed speaker on this area, having written the book “The Bible and Homosexual Practice.” This is one of the most thorough works if not the most thorough (And certainly the most thorough I’ve read) on the matter of what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

Gagnon doesn’t even begin with Scripture but rather begins with the ancient society that the people of the Bible lived in. How was homosexuality viewed in their culture? What did the other societies do in relation to homosexuals or even to simple accusations of homosexuality? How did Israel behave in comparison to them?

Then, there’s the looking at the biblical texts and even texts that some people would think at the start have nothing to do with homosexuality. Does the story of Noah being shamed by his son have anything to do with homosexuality? It just might.

Of course, there is then time spent on accounts like Sodom and Gomorrah and looking at any argument against that being about homosexuality that can be found. Certainly, Gagnon takes us through the arguments of the holiness code in Leviticus and argues why it should be treated as a prohibition and explains why eating shellfish would not fall in the same category.

What about the writings of Jews outside of the Bible? Gagnon also looks at the positions of Philo and Josephus for instance to see what they say. Now some could say “Well Jesus never says anything about it?” According to Gagnon, Jesus in fact does say something about it and we’ll be definitely looking at that this Saturday.

Then we come to the NT and especially the passage in Romans 1. Is this a condemnation by Paul of homosexual behavior? Is it true that Paul knows nothing about loving and committed homosexual relationships? Do modern studies on sexual orientation change anything that Paul has said?

For those who want more, Gagnon also looks at modern discussion on the topic and even scientific studies on the matter. We’ll be discussing what the implications are of accepting the redefinition of marriage and why it is so important that we win this battle today.

I urge everyone to listen in and please be willing to call in and ask your questions, though I’m suspecting that some that champion tolerance in calling in might reveal themselves to be people who are in fact only tolerant of that which already agrees with them. In other words, intolerant. If you want to call in, the number is 714-242-5180. The time is 3-5 PM EST.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Note: This blog entry is largely a copy of what I had back in August when unfortunately we had to reschedule so if some of you are getting a sense of Deja Vu this time, there’s a reason. The information he has is still just as relevant so please be listening.

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/28/2013: Ex-Homosexuals

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast on 9/28/2013? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We’ve all heard something about the debate on marriage today and when it comes to the topic of homosexuality, we’ve been told that homosexuality is something immutable. It’s not a choice. It’s something that you’re born with and you just don’t change that! There is no such thing as an ex-homosexual.

Well if that’s the case, then my three guests on this week’s episode don’t exist.

My guests are Greg Quinlan, Douglas McIntyre, and Grace Harley. All three are Christians today and all three were at one time practicing homosexuals. All three have stories of how their change came about and want to speak about the way that people like them are ignored and if not that, in fact persecuted by those on the other side.

If what you hear on Saturday is true, then it is a strong argument against the idea that homosexuality is immutable. If there is just one case otherwise, then the claim is shown to be false. This is not to say that the change would not be difficult for some and in fact, it might be the case that some just don’t pull it off, but such is the same if anyone is addicted to anything or has a strong desire towards something. These three say they have done it and that there are several several others out there that you just don’t hear about.

They’ll tell us about what we should be doing in the debate on marriage today. We want to win this battle of course, but there’s a right way to fight and a wrong way to fight. If you want to fight the right way, why not learn from those who have been there?

Also, how does the church treat homosexuals and what can be done? While my guests definitely don’t go in for the Fred Phelps technique at all, they do see problems with the way the church goes about in its normal witness to homosexuals. This includes a stigma that many Christians have against homosexuals. How is it that the church should treat a homosexual man, woman, or even couple that shows up in their presence?

And what about the family situation? How should people respond to questions of homosexuality in their family? Are there steps that a mother and a father can take to instill proper ideas of sexuality within their children?

It is my hope that with a show like this, you listeners and myself as well will better learn how to respond in this debate and know that we are not alone. If anyone asks for evidence that homosexuality is not immutable then, we can just point them to the testimony of my three guests.

I hope you’ll be planning to join in this Saturday from 3-5 PM EST on Blog Talk Radio. The call in number if you want to ask a question of my guests is 714-242-5180. Make sure they’re questions. No angry diatribes wanted.

The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

General Mills Vs. Boston

What does a cereal company have to do with the capital of Massachusetts? Find out on Deeper Waters.

We’re taking a break from our look at the law to discuss a hot topic going on today. Not too long ago, some companies like General Mills came out in favor of homosexual marriage and this caused an outcry from several Christians and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) leading to a boycott of General Mills and other companies.

Immediately, the blogosphere was ablaze with the imbecility supposedly of Christians doing something like this. Even on the Failblog one would see entries asking about how many other things would be boycotted because of the position of General Mills. Obviously, Christians were just dumb for doing what they did.

The reality of this situation is that Christians who want to do this are simply living according to their principles. Most people who believe in tolerance would agree that it would be wrong to force someone to do something that they deem to be immoral. Of course, if they say otherwise, one wonders what kind of tolerance they have when they believe they should force their opinions on others.

Enter Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A is known to be a company built on Christian principles. You will not find a Chick-Fil-A open on a Sunday. Chick-Fil-A has also been accused of being in support of traditional marriage. Before going on, let’s take a look at the way the debate is framed.

Chick-Fil-A is said to be in opposition of marriage equality. If you oppose homosexual marriage, you oppose said equality. This is fallacious however as it assumes that the opponents are people who oppose equality and we see equality as a good quality to have. Who would want to oppose it?

Now when I meet someone who claims an inequality, I ask how my marriage rights differ from someone who is homosexual. This is the response I get.

“You have the right to marry the person you love!”

Well, not necessarily.

Before some of you might start panicking, let me assure you I have not made a statement that says anything about the love I have for my Mrs. I have made a statement rather about the rights that I have. Let’s see what my rights are as a heterosexual.

I can marry someone of the opposite sex.
I can marry someone who is of age.
I cannot marry a close relative.
I must marry a human.
I cannot marry more than one person.

As it stands, the person I love falls into that criteria.

Here are the rights of a homosexual.

They can marry someone of the opposite sex.
They can marry someone who is of age.
They cannot marry a close relative.
They must marry a human.
They cannot marry more than one person.

Looking at the lists, the rights are identical. Now the homosexual community says that they are not allowed to marry the person they love, which is someone of the same sex. I agree. They cannot. The reality is that I cannot marry someone of the same sex either and I cannot force a change just by saying “I love them!” If I claimed to love my mother sexually, it does not mean that I should therefore have the right to marry her.

So the idea of marriage equality is just wrong. There is a different right that is desired. At this point however, we can just ask why we should not change any of the other rights. It could be that we will be told no one is campaigning for those rights now. So what if they are? What do we do then? By what criteria do we not grant them those rights that allows for homosexuals to marry someone of the same sex?

Anyway, to get back to where we were, some who think Chick-Fil-A has taken a wrong stance have also decided that they want to boycott Chick-Fil-A. Upfront, I think that is just fine. That is what their moral belief is and they have the right to act according to that belief. If they think Chick-Fil-A deserves to be condemned in this endeavor, then by all means let them speak with their pocketbook. We can speak about the rightfulness or wrongfulness of such a position, but we cannot say the action of a personal boycott is automatically wrong.

Now recently, Dan Cathy, president of Chick-Fil-A has come out with a statement in regard to their stance of being for traditional marriage and has said that they are guilty as charged. I find it interesting in this that someone who believes in traditional marriage is meant to automatically be seen as a bigot. He is not speaking out against something so much as he is speaking for something.

Now because of this, a different factor has entered the equation. Thomas Menino, the mayor of Boston, is moving to block Chick-Fil-A from opening a restaurant in Boston. Now when NOM went against General Mills, it was a personal boycott. Right now, Menino is doing a political action to make his case.

What do I not expect to see happen? I do not expect that the people who mocked Christians for their boycott will go after Menino for not just boycotting but actively blocking the business of Chick-Fil-A. A look at Twitchy shows that there are comments that have this. (For those who don’t know, Twitchy is a service that shows comments on Twitter in response to various news items)

Instead, what we are seeing is that Menino is proudly standing up for those who are being discriminated against. This is in fact Menino’s reason. He does not want a business that discriminates in his city. The problem is Menino is confusing persons with behaviors and in fact, his position is dehumanizing.

You are not a behavior walking around. You are a person. You are a person who happens to do whatever behaviors might be discussed. Menino’s actions instead define persons by their behaviors. It claims that persons must perform with such and such a behavior and they cannot avoid otherwise. With regard to homosexuality, a person must perform sex in a homosexual manner and they cannot do otherwise.

Now we could write endlessly about whether someone can change from homosexuality to heterosexuality. I’ve read of enough stories of that happening that I think they can, but let us suppose for the sake of argument that they cannot. Does it follow that a person who is homosexual must partake then of homosexual sex? No more than a person who is heterosexual must partake of heterosexual sex, unless you want to make the case be that heterosexual people have self-control and homosexual ones don’t.

Can that be difficult? Of course, but would someone deny that it is also difficult for a heterosexual person to not engage in heterosexual sex outside of parameters they believe that it is permissible, such as within marriage? (If anyone does not think it possible, I can tell them my wife and I were virgins until our wedding night) Sexual temptation is difficult for most anyone.

Now if someone does not eat, that someone will starve. If someone does not breathe, they will suffocate. If someone does not drink, they will dehydrate. There are things we have to do individually to survive. Sexual behavior is not like that. You will not find an autopsy anywhere that lists cause of death as “Did not have sex.”

Now of course, as a whole, the species must engage in sexual intercourse to survive, but we are quite fortunate that it seems that most men and women don’t really need encouragement to get together and make babies. We don’t see any reason to think the human race will soon die out due to a lack of babies coming, although abortion might make us wonder in the future.

And to be even more specific, no one needs to engage in homosexual sex in order for the species to survive. If no one ever had homosexual sex, the species would still get along just fine. It is something like this that makes me wonder why it is that so many atheists want to rush to defend homosexuality? One would think that from an evolutionary perspective, it doesn’t do much to bring about the fitness of the species.

At any rate, we can think of terms that describe our behavior like vegetarian or homosexual or baseball player or anything like that. We would not want any of those to be our whole identity. Behavior is an aspect of persons but not a definer of persons.

Hence, Menino’s position is really dehumanizing as it makes homosexuals be identified by their behavior. If saying marriage should not be changed is discriminatory, then what is anyone to say about people who are homosexual as well and want marriage to stay the same?

Furthermore, for all his talk about discrimination, Menino’s position is discriminatory. He has set up which businesses he will allow in his city, those who agree with him, and has set up which ones he will not allow, those who do not agree with him.

Of course, he could be right in his position, but let us not make the mistake of saying that he is not discriminating. In fact, he is also discriminating against a population, something he says he is against. He is discriminating against the population that believes marriage should stay what it is and that we should act to protect it.

Now we often hear from the homosexual community about how we should be tolerant and open of other opinions. Apparently, that means people who believe in traditional marriage should be open to being wrong, but people who are for homosexual marriage do not have to be open to being wrong. Tolerance in this case is never a two-way street. Will we see tolerance coming from the other side? Doubtful. This decision will be celebrated while at the same time the decision to boycott General Mills will be mocked.

Ironically, it is the marriage side that is practicing true tolerance. We are saying General Mills has every right to say what they think is true. Meanwhile, we have every right to not buy their products if we choose. Menino on the other hand is saying that not only is Chick-Fil-A wrong, he will not have a discussion with them. He is just going to block them and use the force of his political power to not let anyone in his city enjoy their products.

Ah. The loving tolerance once again that is being expressed. But what do we know? We’re just bigots who need to be more tolerant.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Dimming Of Ebright

Does Ebright have a bright idea? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Over at Red Letter Christians, Ian Ebright has written an article entitled “Anti-Gay Marriage Legislation is an Example of an Overextended Church in Decline.” (Link at the end)

It’s pretty bad for me when right in the title I notice a problem.

Why am I categorized as anti-gay marriage? In reality, I am pro-marriage. It is another group wanting to come and change what marriage is. It is my policy in defense of my position to say that they are wrong. The opposition needs to show that what they are wanting is what marriage is, that it is good, and that they should be allowed to have it.

Why is it that sticking up for marriage is being seen right at the start as a negative position? Since our writer is a Christian, when Jesus is asked about divorce by the Pharisees, would it have been proper to say in the newspapers of the time “Anti-divorce teaching is overextending the bounds of Torah.”?

The first sentence already has the conspiracy going. The church is no longer content with governing itself. Now, it wants to use the tools of the government to order lives of consenting adults.

Tools of the government. You know, tools like free elections where people are allowed to vote and choose for themselves. These are people we’d normally call “consenting adults.” Meanwhile, in states like Iowa, the legislation has been passed by the courts without the vote of the people in fact forcing the beliefs of the courts on the populace.

Sounds like someone has their facts backwards.

Note also that the marriage side is not saying to storm into the bedrooms of homosexuals and punish them for Sodomy. They are free to do what they want to do. All we are saying is we will not recognize it as marriage.

Not to mention, why does consenting adults make it right? If consenting adults want to commit incest, will we say that they can get married? Consenting adults have threesomes often. Consenting adults divorce for dumb reasons. Consenting adults engage in polygamy.

Let’s also not forget that when the German cannibal Armin Meiwes wanted a specific victim to eat, he asked for a consenting adult. Everything was agreed upon! Somehow, I don’t think it was seen as a moral act just because it was between two consenting adults.

The writer then writes about all the freedom the church has. Why yes. The church has glorious freedom. True, we can speak, but notice some problems.

A worker who shares the gospel at his workplace could lose his job.

A preacher can get in trouble with the government for speaking on a political issue.

A student who prays at a school event like a graduation or a football game can face the wrath of the ACLU.

Christians in the media such as in sitcoms and movies are usually portrayed as ignorant and superstitious while the homosexuals are the laughable and enjoyable characters.

People at stores at Christmastime can be told to say to customers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

Yet if you speak out saying you don’t think homosexuals should marry, you are a bigot, a homophobe, intolerant, and those are just listing some of the things I can put on a blog that are decent!

The writer then goes on to say the church is not content with ministry but wants to rule on private affairs.

Sorry to disappoint, but marriage is not a private affair.

When my wife and I got married, it was an incredibly public affair. We had a minister, her family, my family, and several good friends. (Including my best man who is going to be writing an excellent blog on this as well at While in Charlotte, we had someone fly in all the way from California for this event and our vows were done before God and man. That was a public affair.

When we are out in public, people know we are married. I am holding her hand we both wear our wedding rings. We can kiss each other in public and I can hold open doors for her and call her my Princess in public as well as refer to us as Mr. and Mrs. Peters.

That is public.

Now when we got married, what went on in the bedroom was indeed private. It is still private. This is the area that the church is not intruding upon. What we are wanting to protect is the public sphere, the sphere of marriage that is seen by all.

Furthermore, even the private aspect has a public demonstration. Let us suppose one day that Mrs. Peters and I have a child. Knowing that we are a faithful couple, that will be testimony to the world that we do have a sexual relationship. Every person you see today, you see because at one point, two people engaged in sexual activity together.

The idea then that Ebright is wanting to get out is exactly opposite of what he says.

Ebright now says the church and nation are getting weaker and more divided.

For the weaker aspect, I’d like to see some evidence. In what way are we weaker? Is our economy worse because we do not have this? Is our national defense worse? How are we weaker?

As for division, this assumes the church is the cause of the division. Note that where people have voted, they have always voted for marriage. It seems the dissenting opinion would be the one causing the division, but not so in the world of Ebright.

Furthermore, if there is division, it could be for a good reason. It could be some people think the purpose of marriage is something worth standing up for. Some people are realizing the church’s usual mechanism of “RETREAT!” which Ebright wants us to use again, doesn’t really work so well.

Amazingly is this sentence from Ebright.

“In a crusade for a more wholesome culture, we have injected pride, arrogance, hostility, and vitriol.”

Obviously, the more loving approach would be to tell people they’re intolerant and bigoted homophobes. Go look at some blogs sometime to see how the homosexual community and those who side with them can often speak of those who are for marriage. Desires of violence and death are quite common. When anyone has said the same to the homosexual community, the defenders of marriage have been quick to condemn such talk.

Ebright is once again on the opposite end.

Next is this paragraph:

“I have heard gay marriage argued against with the example of Nazi Germany, by people asking “where was the church then?” They say genocide is what happens when we fail to act on our morals as a church. I find it troubling that this is even considered a valid comparison to the GLBT community’s wish to marry. One is force, the other is consensual. Force turns sex into rape and employment into slavery. This is why the church is universally applauded when it combats sex trafficking, and esteems people otherwise harmed, neglected or left behind, because in those moments the church is elevating the individual rather than trying to restrict it.”

I have looked over and over this paragraph. It still makes no sense. I asked Rayadoriver their thoughts on it seeing as that blogger is much better in English than I and the thinking on it was mutual. This whole paragraph is a train wreck. I’m also not sure about who is making this comparison. I’ve read several blogs and have not seen it.

Ebright goes on to say that this is a form of consumerism in the church trying to make the culture look like it.

You know, all those Christians out there picketing to make Sunday church attendance mandatory and saying that one is not a citizen unless they’re a Christian. Oh wait. We’re not doing that. We’re not forcing Christianity on anyone. What we are doing is making a stake for our position and leaving it to the people to vote.

Why does Ebright have a problem with this? It’s as if he wants us to just lie down and do nothing. Just capitulate to the culture. Do not I as a Christian have a right to speak my beliefs in public and if I think they are good beliefs, to tell others why they should adopt them as well and live accordingly?

Does Ebright think the way of Christ is a good way worth sharing with the culture?

Ebright then compares being against SSM to the idea of being against tattoos, alcohol, and cursing.

Never mind that homosexuality is something condemned in both testaments and that marriage is a public affair affecting all of society whereas the most you could get a case for with the others is alcohol consumption which we already have laws regarding as well. Perhaps Ebright thinks that if that opinion is something Christians would encourage that we should get rid of it then.

He next speaks about the fight against pornography. That fight was lost, but the church was not silenced. Maybe it was better to just lose the battle.

Sure. Maybe it was better. We can just look at all the homes damaged by pornography, all the marriages split apart, the dehumanization of women, the lack of men being able to be men, the idolization of sex, etc. as just collateral damage. Sure. Those kinds of things happened, but the church can still minister!

The church has always been ministering and until Jesus returns, it will continue to do so. The church is meant to be salt and light in the world, but for people like Ebright, it would be best if we put ourselves under a bush, the very activity that Christ condemned.

Ebright then says:

“When you look at Christ, do you see Him forcing teaching or standards of living on everyone? He taught people to seek- as Rev. Earl F. Palmer said so correctly- seek is a freedom word. That means ministry is intended to grant people the dignity of choice as well as our patience. These ideas can be held along with the charge to go and make disciples.”

I am not sure which NT Ebright is reading. The gospel of Mark early on has Jesus calling people to repent. That term actually means that he is telling them to abandon their way of life and follow him. Jesus was a revolutionary, but he was not a military revolutionary. He was not planning a revolution against Rome. If anything, it was against the corrupt vision of His day.

Jesus was not meek and mild. Meek and mild teachers do not get crucified. People that do not stand up to the culture are ignored by the culture. Jesus regularly challenged the Pharisees on their own turf. True, He did not “force” his way, but Israel and America are not identical. Jesus certainly taught His way and encouraged others to follow, the action I’m suggesting we do and Ebright is suggesting we don’t do.

Let’s also not forget this little event on Passover week that involved a temple and making a whip. If any statement was revolutionary, it was that. This is quite likely the big event that got Jesus crucified and it was also a Messianic claim on His part.

Ebright then says that it’s time to stop forcing others to eat their vegetables. Force seems to be a favorite word. Unfortunately, force is never shown. It’s just asserted.

He also says homosexual marriage will not hurt your marriage any more than a neighbor having an affair. Let’s see how this logic works.

“Stop the fight against abortion! Abortion won’t harm your child!”

“Worry not about the neighbor abusing their child. It won’t hurt your child!”

Is this really the way Ebright wants followers of Christ to think? “If it will not hurt you, don’t worry about it.” Here I thought the biblical way was to esteem others as better than myself. It seems Ebright’s thinking is “Look out for number one.”

Ebright then has this quote.

““You’ve confused a war on your religion with not always getting everything you want. It’s called being part of a society. Not everything goes your way.” -Jon Stewart”

Excellent source right there. I’m convinced. Yes. Part of society is not everything goes your way. Correct. That’s because we live in a free civilization where we can vote and encourage people to vote our way. Let’s keep in mind that when Prop 8 was accepted, those opposed try to take the results of a free election to the courts. Meanwhile, when it was acceptable for a time in Maine, the people did a different tactic whereby they went around and got signatures, which was the state-approved way of handling a disagreement.

Yes. You won’t always get what you want and believe it or not, because you want your relationship to be called marriage, that does not mean the government should do that for you.

Ebright then ends with how we should be living more Christlike (You know, the guy who stood up to culture and got crucified” and that good biblical advice is to take care of your own family. (Is Ebright saying that he wants to impress on us his idea that we should take care of our own family? By his standards, is he not forcing this belief on us?) This is then being salt and light.

No. It is not. It is saying the Kingdom of God has no say on the kingdom of man.

As I check, there is nothing also in the piece about what the purpose of marriage is. There is nothing in the piece about what constitutes a family. There is nothing in the piece about the best environment in which to raise children. None of this is there. Now someone could say we’re wrong about all of those, but it seems Ebright is not even familiar with why a number of us are fighting this battle to begin with.

So this would mean Ebright is also wanting us to listen to him without him listening to us.

People like Ebright will continue to weaken the church in America and make it more and more irrelevant as has happened in England. Those who believe that the way of Christ has something to say to challenge the world will go out with that message. Ebright does not have to come along. After all, we do not believe in force.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The article can be found here