Tension: Bible Meets the Real World

Today I read an article from the Fox News.com opinion page, My Lesbian Daughter, The Bible and Sex,  by Shari Johnson, January 6, 2012, who was responding to another Fox News.com article written by Pastor Mark Driscoll on January 3, 2012,  What the Bible Really Says About Sex.

Ms. Johnson explained how she agreed with most of Pastor Mark’s article except for 2 points: Marriage being between a man and a woman and sex outside of marriage being a sin.

As I read her article, I was saddened as to how Ms. Johnson represents so many Christians who are facing real life situations, trying to develop a way of coping, a way of dealing with what the Bible says and the emotions of their life situation.  Instead of dealing with the tension, they decide to eliminate the tension, which inevitably fails to truly remove it, they just find a way to numb themselves to it.

First of all, I went and read Pastor Mark’s article and in no way was it condemning of people who express their sexuality in any manner outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.  In the article, Pastor Mark, even went as far as to point out The Apostle Paul’s writings in Romans 3: 23-26, that states that all of humanity is in need of Christ.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.   Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.   For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past,  for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.    

There are two quotes Ms. Johnson made that I would like to address:

“I am an evangelical Christian who, I am sorry to say, used to be one of the “don’t-confuse-me-with-facts-because-my-mind-is-made-up” type of Christian.” 

 Yes it is sad that there has been and are good hearted Bible believing Christians who develop such narrow mindedness that they are not capable of objectively looking outside of their box of assumptions and beliefs; however, for Ms. Johnson to insinuate that an evangelical Christian who has done legitimate study and expresses his or her view with proper supports, though different from others, is something to be sorry for, is simply wrong.

“When I hear terms like “God’s design” and “Biblical marriage” I have to wonder who decides these things.” 

 When people say things like this, it causes me to think one of three things: first they probably do not view the Bible as God’s infallible written word, second they may have allowed the non-believing views of society to infiltrate their own with or without their awareness, or they have never done their own study of how the Bible came to be and what makes it considered to be Holy Scripture.

 Yes, I agree, there have been many people who have declared a view and provided Scripture as their support while taking that Scripture totally out of context.  Some of these people have done this to be malicious and others have done this simply because they themselves did not do their homework. However, the Bible says what it says and God is the one who decides what his design is and considering he created marriage, He decides what is a Biblical marriage.

 Finally, we are faced with a woman who considered herself to be an evangelical Christian with certain views based on the Bible.  Yet when her own child decided to live a life contrary to the Bible’s teachings, she had to develop a way of coping with the bible’s teachings and her love for her daughter.  Many times when situations come close to home we reexamine our views, such as, when one’s own teen daughter becomes pregnant, one’s view on abortion may alter; or when someone we know, respect, and love does anything contrary to our beliefs, we battle the tension of the value of the person we love and the value of our view or belief.  Sometimes we just need to learn to live with the tension.

 I agree that it is easy to develop a view on tough issues when those issues are not in our faces, but is believing God’s word suppose to be situational?  Is it only something we examine in our “religious” non-confrontational world but not in the “real” world?  Maybe our love for God must outweigh our love for our friends and family.  We can love our friends and family with integrity and not disown our Biblical standards.

 Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/01/03/what-bible-really-says-about-sex/#ixzz1in4iaetZ

 Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/01/06/my-lesbian-daughter-bible-and-sex/#ixzz1imrHq4Ft

 

Joseph – A Man of Integrity

We have so many examples of sexual failure within the Bible and in our everyday lives that there are times we need to look at those people who have lived their lives with integrity.  Every Christmas most of us hear the story and Biblical account of Jesus’ Birth, but seldom do we truly look at the integrity of Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father.

A few years ago my good friend, Bill Kraker, wrote a Christmas song about Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph.  As I was listening to him sing the song this year the thought of Joseph’s integrity crossed my mind.  The account that I am including is found in Matthew 1: 18-25 (NLT).

18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

 19 Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.  20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit.   21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel,which means ‘God is with us.’”

24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

As I look at the story from the perspective of sexual integrity, the first thing I notice is that Jesus’ conception initiates a sex scandal of a sort.  Mary is engaged to Joseph, and becomes pregnant before their marriage.  Today this would not be a big deal in most circles; however, in their time and day it was a huge deal.  First of all some may think that Joseph violated her before their actual marriage, others may think that Mary had sex with a man other than Joseph which would be humiliating to Joseph and an embarrassment to  his family.  Regardless of Joseph’s feelings, he had no desire to publicly humiliate Mary, so he decided to end things in a quiet manner not showing a desire to get even by humiliating her in some way.

Then we have Joseph’s dream when the angel speaks to him and starts by saying “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.”  What would he have to be “afraid” of?  Maybe because Joseph thought that if she was unfaithful to him during their engagement, she would eventually be unfaithful to him during their marriage; or maybe he just didn’t want to face the ridicule he would receive from his family, friends, and community; or even the thought of people referring to the baby as a bastard child was not something he wanted to deal with.

The third aspect of Joseph’s integrity to look at is that he knew  God was speaking to him when he dreamed his dream.  He didn’t just chalk it up to having eaten too much food the night before and being hurt and worried about the current circumstances.  Joseph knew how to identify God’s voice when he spoke to him.

The final aspect of Joseph’s integrity in this story I would like to look at, is that when he did marry Mary he chose not to have sex with her until after Jesus was born and obviously after she had healed from the birth.  Because of the circumstances of the birth, he put his personal desires on hold to allow God’s plan to be accomplished.   When a marriage is all about “me,” it will not succeed.

Their engagement did not involve premarital sex and their marriage, though shrouded with a sex scandal, was not established on their personal desires but on accomplishing God’s will.  They were concerned about what God wanted and they were concerned about how they could influence each other in accomplishing God’s desire for them as a couple.

I am sure Joesph’s integrity had a cost, but their is not a price tag that can be placed on the results of his integrity.  Regardless of the current cost of integrity, it is always worth the price.

Because I mentioned my friend Bill Kraker’s song, I have included a basic video of the tune so you can also enjoy.  If you would like a recorded copy just go to christchurchohio.org or stop by the church, the Christmas CD cost about $10.00 and also features a song written and performed by my wife.

Merry Christmas