Core Ideas of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Posts tagged ‘morality’

The Christian Brain, Part 1

Editor’s Note: For an updated version of this  2011 blog, please visit: https://t2gospel.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/legal-maybe-healthy-no/

Over the years, I’ve had a variety of friends and acquaintances who occasionally enjoyed drinking alcohol until they were bombed.  Whenever they have recounted their adventures with me, I have listened to their stories with a knowing smile.  I use the term “knowing smile,” because I know that my friends know I don’t approve of this behavior.  They would never invite me to go out drinking with them, although they might invite me to dinner, or a football game, or an evening at the movies.  So they share their exploits because they enjoy yanking my chain.  But they know I’d never demonstrate my approval by spending an evening getting loaded with them.

So I’m baffled to learn that Pastor Joel Osteen told an interviewer that, although he doesn’t approve of same sex marriage, he’d have no problem attending a gay wedding if invited.  Osteen explained to Piers Morgan that he’d never want to suggest to a friend “you’re not good enough for us.”  It didn’t take long for Dr. Al Mohler to pick up the topic in a blog.  “This is beyond mere incoherence,” Mohler writes. “It is moral and theological nonsense.”  I thought Dr. Mohler’s comments were right on.  If someone is truly a beloved friend, surely he doesn’t expect me to disregard my deepest convictions in order to remain in his good graces.  It’s not about whether a friend is good enough for me.  Rather, logic says I would never “celebrate” something I find deadly, destructive and morally offensive, no matter how much I might like the misguided soul involved.

But I was in for yet another surprise.  When the thread was later picked up by a writer at Christianity Today, he reached a conclusion that’s so irrational it’s almost funny.  “And if attending a marriage ceremony is the same as supporting the underlying theology of the union, does that prohibit Christians from attending Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or weddings from other religious traditions? Where is the line?”

Dear friends, here’s the line.  There is nothing immoral or offensive about one devout Muslim marrying another devout Muslim.  I have no respect for Islam, but I can still celebrate a wedding among Muslims who happen to be friends of mine.  I’m approving of their marriage, not their theology.  Likewise, if Hindu friends should invite me to a Hindu wedding, I can gladly celebrate their marriage with them and their families as an affectionate observer.  True friends would realize that I think Hinduism is a counterfeit faith, but I can still affirm their marriage.  I can sit through a Hindu wedding without worshiping anybody.  (Frankly, I’ve sat through a Methodist service in which I didn’t worship anybody, even thought I wanted too!)And likewise, Hindu friends might reasonably decide not to invite me to their ceremony, realizing I don’t give credence to their religion.

Should two gay friends invite me to their wedding, however, I would politely explain to them that I couldn’t celebrate their marriage because I believe it’s destructive and immoral.  It doesn’t matter whether they plan to be united in a synagogue or a mosque or a liberal church; the location is irrelevant.  It’s not the religious tradition that’s at stake here: it’s the very act of two men pretending to be married and suggesting that it’s normal.  In fact, real friends would never ask me to celebrate such an act with them.  In my view, they’re boring a hole in their end of the lifeboat we all share.  I can’t celebrate that.

I know that Christians are often respected for having tender hearts, but let’s use our brains as well as our hearts.  True friendship can tolerate all kinds of personal differences.  But a friendship that demands that I deny my most deeply held convictions is not a friendship at all.  It’s a sham.  Either my faith isn’t real, or my friends aren’t.

Lift up the Cross!

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The Return of the “M” Word

For a quarter of a century, Americans and other “enlightened” people have avoided words like “moral” and “morality.”  We were lectured that those words were insensitive and restrictive.  We were urged not to try and be the Morality Police.  Suddenly, the world began chasing after “Values” for a while.  First there was “values clarification,” helping kids escape from the limitations of morality.  And later we evolved to “values free”education.  Schools decided it wasn’t their job to teach character or responsibility anyhow!

And now, we have riots in England by mainstream young people who have plenty to eat, lots of leisure time, but no foundations for moral living.  In America, we can watch security video of flash mobs robbing  7-11 or Victoria’s Secret stores!  Now we have liberal  publications like The Economist, wailing in despair.  “It turns out that if sufficient numbers of criminals want to create havoc on the streets, they can,” an editorial concluded after the rioting.  “In the absence of internal moral restraints, external ones can only do so much.”  In other words, a civilized nation can’t hire enough policemen or build enough prisons if most citizens aren’t already controlled by morals from within.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal* last Saturday, a British rabbi  described  the moral decay [his words, not mine] which led to the loss of control in his nation.  He described a generation engulfed by “a tsunami of wishful thinking that you can have sex without the responsibility of marriage; children without the responsibility of of parenthood; etc., etc.”  Then he referenced a series of events that “remoralized” America and Great Britain early in the 1800’s.  Then as now, people were moving to the city, respect for authority was receding, the church was declining, unwed pregnancies were climbing, and every village was too familiar with drunkenness and fighting.  One historic event changed all that almost overnight!

The rabbi doesn’t name the historic event, but it was the 2nd Great Awakening!  Christian evangelists crossed the American states and the nation of Britain on horseback, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Worship reached a fever pitch in those English-speaking nations, and the moral fiber of those countries was rebuilt and restored.   The rabbi is calling for another event of those proportions.  May you and I join him in praying for revival in the land, and an awakening among the churches of Jesus Christ.

You will know when the cry for revival is about to reach critical mass.  You’ll know because you and so many others like you will be seeking the Lord, praying in repentance, crying out for fresh wind and fresh fire.  One of the first signs will be a slight uptick in church attendance.  The press won’t report this, but you might notice it in your town, your part of the country.  You’ll notice that Christians are talking about their spiritual lives in public once again.  And soon afterwards, you’ll see the forces of darkness being driven out; powers and principalities of evil being overturned.

Here at Providence, we’re in the midst of 40 days of prayer and fasting leading up to the 10th Anniversary of 9-11.  Nineteen radical Muslims shook our nation with four commercial jets and a handful of box cutters.  Now it’s time for the Church to shake the very gates of Hell.  Join us!

And by all means, lift up the cross!

* Wall Street Journal; August 20, 2011; “Reversing the Moral Decay Behind the London Riots” by Lord Sacks.

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