Friday, August 16, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Five Bad Reasons (2)

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Liberal Christian blogger Benjamin Corey claims more believers — especially older ones — are becoming “LGBTQ-affirming”, and this Pew poll appears to back him up. Whether this is due to social pressure, a fear of being thought intolerant or just plain old battle fatigue remains to be seen.

Tom: Corey lists five reasons he believes Christians are changing their minds about homosexuality. Immanuel Can and I are fisking his arguments for orthodoxy. We’re not finding much ...

3. More Christians are aware of the harmful impact of non-affirming theology.

I must admit, this could be the least perceptive statement on the subject I’ve ever read.

On the Obligation to Affirm

Immanuel Can: “Non-affirming.” I love that word. It’s so brainless.

Anyway, what Mr. Corey wants to say here is that being “unaffirmed” is the cause of suicide. Since we don’t want to induce people to kill themselves, we owe it to them to “affirm” whatever they want to do sexually, and/or whatever they say they are.

What’s your response to that, Tom?

Tom: Well, the final chapter of Revelation tells us the tree of life and the New Jerusalem are off-limits to those whose lives are characterized by sexual immorality. That makes for a pretty bleak eternity. Since the road these folks are on leads inexorably to eternal destruction, then as Christians we owe it to them to try our best to persuade them not to go down it. If that loving attempt to save all leads some of them to end their lives in the process (and that really remains to be proved), well, the Christian looks at those they have been able to snatch out of the fire and says, “It’s worth it.” After all, suicide is not a choice we’re making for anyone. That’s someone else’s call.

Tough Love

Corey also talks about “non-affirming” theology causing Christian parents to evict homosexual children from the family home. Again, that’s a choice. If my teenager is a sexually immoral heterosexual, I’m evicting him too. That’s not because he says he’s attracted to women or attracted to men, but because no teen is entitled to express himself sexually in a way his parents disapprove of when he is living in his parents’ home.

IC: We might add that “I lacked an affirming theology” is a comment very rarely found in suicide notes. Not only does it not rate in the top 15 reasons for suicide, I would bet that it doesn’t make the top 50. Nobody says that.

In fact, believing that God does not accept what one is doing is a very good reason NOT to commit suicide. Clearly, such a person has things to make right before he sees his Maker.

4. More Christians are seeing people instead of seeing an abstract issue.

Tom: Here again Corey offers us a reason that Christians are alleged to be becoming LGBTQ-affirming which is simply bizarre. My first real job was in a kitchen working side by side with a homosexual (he was married to a woman, but out of the closet). I have worked with many since. I’ve never seen homosexuality as an abstract issue, and I don’t think most Christians do either.

What I will say is that even as a teen I could see in five minutes that this guy I was working with was severely damaged in some way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. This was before he revealed his sexual preferences. He was funny, pleasant to be around, and I certainly didn’t perceive him as any kind of threat. But something about him was really off, and I’ve found that to be the case with every homosexual I’ve worked with since. Most Christians love these folks just like we love other sinners, but how we feel about them changes nothing whatsoever about what the Bible says about the sinfulness of the lifestyle by which they define themselves.

Seeing Someone as a Person

Do you think Christians generally go by “distorted caricatures and stereotypes” of homosexuals, IC? I suspect if they do, they probably got those stereotypes from Will and Grace …

IC: Well, I do think that many Christians have limited experience with people they know to be homosexuals.

Tom: That’s true of older Christians, certainly. Some of them retired before identifying as homosexual became a useful trump card in the workplace.

IC: Seeing someone “as a person” does not mean that you must agree with all they do, or that approving of toxic things that they are doing to themselves makes you a good human being. Being “tolerant” only counts when you don’t agree with another person; nobody has to “tolerate” what they already agree with. And giving approval to people who are harming themselves and others, and who are destroying their relationship with God — well, if that looks anything like love, I’m an oyster.

Walking Inside a Sacred Story

Tom: Absolutely. Corey says, “The more one knows and sincerely loves the LGBTQ people in their life, the harder and harder it becomes to hold onto non-affirming theology.” In fact, I think the opposite is true. The more one knows and sincerely loves the LGBTQ people in their life, the more it becomes painfully obvious their lifestyle is not making them happy and that, once again, scripture gives us answers the world can’t. There’s nothing as bleak as the life of a lonely, old homosexual. I’ve seen it up close and it’s not pretty.

It’s also fairly rare. The average gay lifespan is up to 20 years shorter than that of heterosexual males. Naturally we are told this is only because of gays receive insufficient affirmation, but since the homosexual lifestyle has been increasingly celebrated in the broader society over the last couple of decades, this explanation is starting to look more and more inadequate.

Corey invites us to “walk on the inside of someone’s sacred story”, which is a rather florid way of telling us we should throw out the only real solution we have for the pain these folks are experiencing, and affirm the very thing that is causing them so much misery and guilt. Not a solution.

IC: Right. And the last argument he offers?

5. More Christians are siding with the message of hope — and there’s no hope in non-affirming theology.

Hope and Inclusion

Tom: Has Christianity always been “the message of hope and inclusion” as Corey claims?

Hope, definitely, though we need to recognize that it is a very specific kind of hope that the Christian faith offers. It is the hope of deliverance from sin, not the hope that we can keep being forgiven if we insist on continuing in it. It is not the hope that we may be accepted with God on our own terms; that’s for sure.

Inclusion? In one sense, sure, in that both Gentiles and Jews have been brought together in one body in Christ. That said, Christianity is quite exclusive in the sense that it does not for even a moment accommodate rivals to Christ, including our desires. There is “one Lord”. It also does not accommodate modifications to doctrine based on the influence of culture or the democratic process. There is “one faith”.

IC: Ironically, the ideology of inclusion has no hope at all. You’re homosexual, you’re going to stay homosexual, and you’re never going to be anything else. You’re trapped in a lascivious, lonely, ultimately-deadly lifestyle, and to be told there’s no way out for you. Yet Christ has freedom and forgiveness for anything — and yes, homosexual acts are specifically included. The hope of the gospel is that you can be washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus Christ, no matter who you are, no matter what you’ve done, and no matter what your struggles may be.

There is no hope other than that, and no hope greater or better than that. So how is it that Mr. Corey wants us to abandon that in favor of endorsing what we know is a death sentence?

The Best It Gets

Tom: Corey’s objection is this: “In traditional non-affirming theology this is the best it gets: ‘Your only hope of not going to hell when you die is to spend the rest of your life completely lonely, and to totally resist ever having your most basic physical and emotional needs met.’ ”

That is certainly the fear that keeps men and women outside of Christ, but it’s a deeply misplaced fear predicated on several false assumptions: (1) It assumes the desires you have today will be the same desires you have tomorrow. That’s false. In Christ, you acquire a second set of desires that ultimately exclude fleshly ones. (2) It assumes Christ himself is insufficient to meet your most basic needs. That’s false. Many Christians have found he is more than sufficient. (3) It assumes a homosexual relationship is capable of fulfilling your perceived needs. This too is untrue. No human relationship can bear the weight of our hopes and expectations.

By way of contrast, “affirming” theology offers hope without any real substance to it, as you point out.

IC: Affirming sin is no way to get free of it.

2 comments :

  1. You are touching here on what I have long thought of as an extremely serious problem that has slowly crept up and is facing us in these times. I am not so much concerned with the LGBTQ issue since it is, like many other things nowadays, only a byproduct of the real issue, which is an almost divinely directed ( or better, permitted) punishment for turning away from God. The punishment consists of the fact that the individual nowadays is less and less able to use common sense based on logical thinking and Divine inspiration to arrive at sound conclusions and decisions concerning their private and public affairs and behavior. There seem to be fewer and fewer people capable of evaluating if you do A and B then C correctly will follow. C to them instead wrongly becomes whatever their deteriorated moral and/or emotional state of the moment dictates even if it results in self-deception. This by no means has bottomed out yet but, as history has shown, often can only be corrected by cataclysmic events. Unfortunately the only thing that can counter that is the first thing going by the wayside, namely the Christian code of conduct which simply cannot be replaced by any humanly derived convention.

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    1. The punishment consists of the fact that the individual nowadays is less and less able to use common sense based on logical thinking and Divine inspiration to arrive at sound conclusions and decisions concerning their private and public affairs and behavior.

      *nods*

      "Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind" (Romans 1:28).

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