Thursday, February 24, 2011

Senator Reid and Legalized Prostitution

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid has been representing the state of Nevada since 1987. That’s twenty-four years. According to the Wall Street Journal, on Tuesday he spoke out against legalized prostitution in his state…for the first time.

It is remarkable that it took him that long to publically declare that the time had come to end prostitution in the state. Reid, says The Journal, “has long taken a relaxed attitude toward his home state’s casino and brothel industries.”

What is also remarkable is the reason Reid gives for outlawing prostitution. “If we want to attract businesses to Nevada that puts people back to work, the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution.” The Journal notes that Reid “maintains conservative Mormon values personally.”

No, he doesn’t.

Reid’s silence on this issue for twenty-four years speaks volumes, as does the fact that the reason he now opposes brothels is not moral but economic.

Our private, personal values are lived out in our public lives. This Sunday, we will be considering how God’s majesty is portrayed in the transformed lives of the broken.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Should Conservative Christians Just Give Up?

In the February 14, 2011 edition of USA Today, Tom Krattenmaker offers some advice to conservative Christians who believe that homosexuality is wrong: give it up!

His point is that our culture has reached a point that homosexuality is generally considered socially acceptable and the Neanderthals who continue to oppose it simply look foolish. He notes the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the classification of several extreme anti-homosexual organizations as “hate groups” and comes to the conclusion that it is time for conservative Christian groups to make a decision:

Do they fight to the last ditch, continue shouting the anti-gay rhetoric that rings false and mean to the many Americans who live and work with gay people, or who themselves are gay? Or do they soften their tone and turn their attention to other fronts?
Notice that there are only two alternatives presented in this paragraph. If you believe that engaging in homosexual activity is a sin, your choices are either (a) shout “anti-gay rhetoric” or (b) soften your tone and find some other battle.

The problem with these alternatives is that (a) is mean and an unbiblical way to engage in a disagreement and (b) implies that opposition to homosexual activity is itself synonymous with (a). Essentially, the options Kratttenmaker offers us are: will you continue to beat your wife or will you stop it?  To say we will stop is to acknowledge that at one time we did!

Followers of Christ must be steadfastly committed to loving communication. In fact, we must be committed to loving those with whom we disagree, despite their attitude toward us. I would like to present, therefore, at least a third option that exists for us: continued humble opposition to lifestyle choices that hurt those who engage in them and go against God’s will for one’s life.

Why do we care about homosexual activity? Is it because we desire to control the lifestyles of others? Is it because we want to demonize some sins while minimizing our own? I certainly hope not.

When one minimizes the reality of sin—be it homosexuality or adultery or lying or theft—one minimizes the need for the gospel. Far from being a loving, non-judgmental act, downplaying the reality and pervasivness of sin causes people to doubt their need for a Savior.

P.S. Incidentally, in the article, Krattenaker references a book by Jennifer Wright Knust entitled Unprotected Texts. For a commentary on this book, see Al Mohler’s blog:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Becoming Anti-Anti

In the upcoming edition of our church newsletter, Preparing and Proclaiming will be an article entitled: “How Sorry Do You Need to Be?" In it, I contrast how Protestants and Roman Catholics view repentance.

As I was writing the article, I tried to think through how what I was writing might sound to a Roman Catholic. I wanted to be fair while at the same time standing firm in my convictions and clearly articulating our differences.

I was reminded of one conversation with a Roman Catholic who had accused me of being “anti-Catholic.” The accusation had stung and completely caught me off guard. In my mind, I was being “pro-gospel” and not “anti” anything. To be “anti-Catholic” in my mind meant to target individuals of a certain creed unfairly and with hostility. I have many Catholic friends and I would never want to hurt them or treat them unfairly.

I don’t like being called anti-Catholic any more than I like being called anti-choice or anti-homosexual. Calling someone “anti-(fill-in-the-blank) is relatively easy. It means that you no longer need to deal with the substance of their objection. Instead, you merely attack their motives and lament their vitriolic attack on you.

For Christians who are committed to proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, such comments are inevitable. I have a few thoughts about how we as Christians should respond:

First, we should boldly proclaim the gospel.

I would prefer to be known by what I am for than what I am against. My desire would be that those who know me would say that I am passionately pro-gospel.

Second, we should realize that we must sometimes stand against things.

Even though it is sometimes unpleasant, we are called upon by God to stand against things such as false teaching, injustice, and evil. For example, consider what Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-12:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Third, we should consider how our words sound to others.

When I disagree—strongly—with the Roman Catholic sacramental system as a means to achieving righteousness, I need to understand that there are many precious people who hold this system close to their hearts. When I attack it, it feels as though I am attacking them personally. It feels as though I am “anti-Catholic.”

Charity requires that we consider carefully how our words sound to those who are hearing them. Paul’s injunction to the Ephesians is one we would do well to heed: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph 4:29).