The Bible and Homosexuality

The Bible’s teaching on homosexuality is one of the most dividing, important, and needed teachings of our generation1. If you are reading this you probably have an interest in understanding it better. And your interest may go beyond mere theory. Maybe you want to better understand the Bible’s teaching so you can then speak to others. Or, maybe a friend has challenged your formerly secure, yet ungrounded, views. Perhaps you are looking for answers to your own searching, yet neglected, questions. Whatever the case is, I pray that you would find help through these words.

This work has three main purposes. First, to show what the Bible itself says about homosexuality. Second, to answer a number of questions and objections about the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. Third, to show that the Bible offers forgiveness and cleansing from every sin that we can commit if we turn to God through His Son, Jesus.

What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality?

1.) What is marriage?

Genesis 2:20-24 looks at what marriage is,

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found a helper right for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, He made a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

The animals which Adam named had an acceptable mate, there being both male and female of every animal (Genesis 1:20-22), but for Adam an acceptable mate had not been made (2:20). When God does make a right or acceptable helper for him, He makes for him a woman. As we see from this second chapter of Genesis, from the beginning only men and women were acceptable for each other in marriage. Only men and women can fulfill the command of God to be fruitful and multiply, seeing that they only can bring forth children, and only within this relationship is the sexual act permitted (Genesis 1:28; 9:1). By the terms “father” and “mother,” “man” and “wife,” we are helped to see that not only are men and women alone acceptable for each other in the marriage relationship, but with the terms “man” and “wife,” that only one man and one woman are to be in this marriage relationship. Continue reading

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When My Kids Ask for Math Help

picture1So here is my confession: I love math. I mean, it excites me and energizes me on a regular basis.

And yes, I know that makes me weird to most people.

I think I know one of the big reasons (there are others) that people often don’t really like math: they don’t understand it. And I’m talking even about a large number of people who can actually do it – many of them don’t really understand it either!

If math is just about memorizing formulas and 10 steps to do this kind of problem, 4 methods for solving that type of equation, etc., etc., etc., then no wonder math is not very fun! And, sadly, this is more often than not the way we teach math to students. We make it almost impossible for them to enjoy math!

But if we would teach students how to see the beauty of math (yes, I did just use the words “beauty” and “math” together – that wasn’t a typo) and how it makes such perfect sense, maybe things would be different. If they could begin to understand math and comprehend that it is a coherent system of fairly simple ideas (for the most part), math might not be so distasteful. If they just see it as a billion things to memorize that don’t really make sense…I wouldn’t enjoy that much myself.

So, how does this perspective change the way I teach and help my children with their math? When they come and ask me a question about their math work, they know that it is highly unlikely I am going to give them a straight-forward answer. I am almost always going to ask them some questions to get them thinking. Or I might tell them some things that they already know (and seem almost unrelated to their question at first). Or I might just sit there and wait for them to do some explaining of what they have already figured out in the problem (if they haven’t figured anything out yet, they probably aren’t going to get much help from me until they do!).

Basically, I am firmly committed always to presenting math as ideas to be understood rather than formulas or steps to be memorized. I am committed to requiring my children to think about their math rather than just “do” it. I am deeply convinced that this is far better for them.

Do they always appreciate it? I wish I could say yes to that, but it wouldn’t be true. Like all of us, they sometimes would just like a simple answer (and maybe I should give it to them a bit more often…). And does all of this lead to a sharing of my deep passion for math? Not necessarily. But that is alright. I know that we all have our own individual passions and preferences. Not everyone has to love math! But, I do believe that if we present math in a better way, more students will love math…or at the least, they won’t dislike it quite so much.

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A fire with only one log

For the last couple of years, I have lived in a home with a wood burning stove that we use for heat. I had never had an opportunity to enjoy that experience before, and prior to living in this home, I knew little to nothing about fire building.

One thing that I have discovered, however, strikes me as profoundly reflective of a larger truth:

It is nearly impossible to build or maintain a fire with only one log.

It has nothing to do with the amount of wood in that log, either, but simply the fact that one log alone cannot maintain its own heat. If you split that same log into multiple pieces, you have a chance to maintain the fire. The pieces feed on the heat of one another and contain that heat together. I can’t necessarily explain all the scientific details to you, but I have definitely found it to be true.

This is a lot like life, isn’t it? Any isolated individual who is left to support himself spiritually and emotionally will struggle. The only hope for such a man is the fact that the Lord never leaves His own entirely by themselves, for He is with them even if no others are. Even so, however, it is God’s design that we are far more able to thrive and grow as we live in fellowship with other men and women who help us maintain and build up our fire.

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How to Respond to “Unjustified” Criticism

 

I imagine you are a lot like me, and you really don’t enjoy someone criticising you and telling you that you’re wrong. Nobody enojys criticism, I suppose.

One thing that has added an extra degree of frustration to that experience for me, though, is when someone criticizes what I am saying or doing, but then doesn’t seem to have a reasonable explanation for why they feel as they do. In fact, maybe they don’t even try to give a reason at all!

My response to that in the past was basically just to dismiss it. If they can’t even give me an explanation for why they think I am wrong here, then why even bother listening to them? This is how I figured it, at least.

I no longer feel that this is the right approach, however. Many people struggle to present a reasoned outline of an explanation for why they feel a certain way, but that does not mean that their opinions or conclusions are irrelevant. Rather, I have many times found that those feelings and criticisms can provide some very useful insight into who I am, my weaknesses and my personality, despite the fact that they cannot explain why they feel that way. If I simply write those feelings off, I lose a real opportunity to learn and grow.

It just occured to me that nobody tends to do this when they receive positive compliments from others. Suppose someone speaks a kind word to you and says that you are one of the most thoughtful people they know. Can you imagine asking that person to defend their assertion? Would you quickly dismiss their compliment if they didn’t have a coherent and reasoned basis for their opinion? Probably not, and yet we are ready to do so quickly if a critical word is spoken to us.

It matters what people think and feel about what you say and do, who you are as a person. Next time someone shares those feelings with you and they are less than perfectly positive, give the benefit of the doubt that it is worth considering what they are saying, even if they can’t explain why. You might find that you yourself can find the explanation for them and know exactly why they feel as they do.

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Must an Elder or Pastor be Married?

The Bible in two places give a qualification for elders (pastors) that they should be the husband of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Does this qualification mean that a pastor must be married? I think this qualification should not be read in a way to keep the unmarried from becoming elders, but it should be read to keep the man who isn’t faithful to his wife, who has multiple wives, and other situations1, from being an elder. Here are four reasons why this qualification does not keep unmarried men from being elders:

1.) Jesus Himself would not meet this qualification if it meant that an elder must be married. Jesus is called our Shepherd in 1 Peter 2:25 and the word “shepherd” here can also be translated “pastor” in Greek. Of course Jesus is in heaven with His Father, but to say that an elder must be married would mean we believe that while Jesus was on earth He did not meet the qualifications for being an elder. I most certainly do not want to say that.

2.) Paul would not meet this qualification. The Apostle Paul was not married when he wrote 1 Corinthians. In chapter 7 verse 8 he says, “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.” Paul is never technically called a pastor in the New Testament from what I know, but who would want to say that the apostle was not qualified to be an elder?

3.) The Bible speaks favorably of being single. Again in 1 Corinthians 7 Paul says, “Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife…But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife” (27, 32-33). It is not wrong to be married, but the single life can be better. If the qualification for an elder to be the husband of one wife means he must be married, it would seem to go against 1 Corinthians 7.

4.) If we believe that an elder must be married, then that might lead us to believe that every time an elder’s wife dies, he would then be disqualified from being an elder. Most would not think this way, but when we view the qualification of being a husband of one wife as meaning that every pastor must be married, the logic would lead us there.

In short, when the Bible says that elders should be the husbands of one wife, we should not think that it is keeping unmarried men from being pastors, but that it is keeping those who have not been faithful to their wives from being pastors.

1 My purpose is not to try to show all the things that this qualification means, but only that it does not mean a man must be married.

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Why do I believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Why do I believe the Bible is the Word of God and the only inspired written Word of God? Here are some reasons. Some of the reasons will overlap.

1.) The Holy Spirit has given me assurance that the things I read in the Bible are true.

2.) I have read the Bible and it is by far the greatest book I have ever read. No other book compares. It claims to be the Word of God and I believe it.

3.) The truths in the Bible have been made “real” to me by the Spirit of God.

4.) The God of the Bible has blessed me to have had experienced Him in different ways.

5.) The Bible answers the questions in life that everyone asks.

6.) The Bible is accurate and right when it comes to history, science, and reason.

I thank God for these and I can know that even when a doubt comes into my mind about the Bible, God has been good and has indeed made Himself known to me, but also to everyone else.

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A Book Review of “Four Views on Hell”

Below is a book review on Four Views on Hell I wrote for a college class but have updated and edited:

Introduction

Four Views on Hell seeks to make known and defend various views of hell as understood by those from different traditions. John F. Walvoord expounds on the literal view of hell, William V. Crockett takes the metaphorical view, Zachary J. Hayes the purgatorial view, and Clark H. Pinnock represents the conditional view. Many of the arguments in this book break down under scrutiny, but Crockett’s argument represents the best of the four.

Brief Summary

Walvoord is the first to make his case. He sets out that Scripture clearly uses fire (Matthew 5:22), burning (Matthew 13:30), and darkness (Matthew 22:13) to describe hell and that these descriptions should be taken literally. One of his arguments in support of the literal view is from Luke 16:19-31, where the rich man, who is in Hades, asks Abraham for water because he is in “anguish in this flame” (v.24). As well as believing that the descriptions of hell should be taken literally, he states that hell is not a temporary place of punishment, but an eternal one. His main text is Revelation 20:10-15, where verse 10 explains that the devil, the beast, and the false prophet, are thrown into the lake of fire to “be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” In verse 15, anyone’s name that was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the same lake of fire to be tormented with the devil forever and ever. Continue reading

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