Evangelicals & Apologetics
I believe it to be of no small consequence the Bible chooses to express the following sentiment in the precise order that it does: Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (ESV, Ephesians 4:15, emphasis mine). The emphasis or stress in this passage is upon truth. There must be no dispute that truth must always be grounded in love, but the sine quo non is the object under consideration must possess and emit absolute truth. Truth is under assault in the culture at large and that should not be of any real surprise. What should shock and repulse the Evangelical community is that truth is similarly under assault within the household of faith. The one place where truth should be cherished and defended with all of the resources and might at our disposable is ceding more and more ground at breakneck speed. Whereas the Apostle Paul understood the Church to be the pillar and buttress of the truth, many professing Evangelicals demonstrate no genuine concern or passion for the defense and proclamation of the Gospel.
Try as we might we can say something with the purest of motives, but the receiver of that very message can “still” interpret the statement as non-loving. For example, any statement I make can be received in a myriad of fashions not intended by me by the receiver. Just yesterday I attempted to use a Bitmoji to express my positive affirmation of someone’s athletic endeavor, but they took exception to it. So, while I meant it in only the most positives of terms the recipient did not receive it as such. Any parent can bear witness to their child’s rebuke of their parental attempt at correction only resulting in a negative reception, no matter how gentle or well-intended the admonishment might have been intended.
I believe it is vitally important to understand Evangelicals are not admonished in Holy Scriptures to lovingly speak the truth because the human perception of love is controlled by emotions or is based on subjectivity rather than objectivity. The recipient of my Bitmoji communication, when faced with how to interpret my response, chose to interpret it in a negative fashion even though I as the author and controller of the message conveyed it with the most positive and affirming intent.
Yet, even if and when we accept truth as an absolute, we must decide who is authorized to determine the scope of truth. Is the truth of the matter determined by majority rule? Or does the individual retain the prerogative to determine what is true for them? Is it determined by might makes right? All of these approaches eventually morph into a form of subjectivism that is always fleeting and temporal because power is never permanent, individuals change their minds influenced by whatever new idea is floated and embraced and what was the majority thought today is out of date when the cultural winds change. For example, in a span of less than a decade the majority of Americans went from affirming marriage as defined as the union of a man and woman to a radical rejection of that traditional and biblically based worldview. Please note, prominent politicians such as Former President William Clinton, Former Senator Hilary Clinton, Former Vice-President Joseph Biden and Former President Barack Obama, to name just a few, changed their political stance on the definition of marriage in the relatively short span of a decade. So much for convictional leadership.
Evangelicals, on the other hand, have long held to the historic creeds of the faith that still postulate only the God of the Bible has the authority to determine the length and breadth of what is to be deemed true. Evangelicals have historically posited God and God alone determines three essential components. The three components are the God of the Holy Writ determines What is Beautiful, What is True and What is Good. Thus, Evangelicals receive their marching orders as to what is proper and to be commended from God. How does God communicate this information? Well, He does so through revelation and that revelation is found exclusively within in the sixty-six books of the Protestant Holy Bible.
Many are now familiar with the news that broke this week of recently retired NBA basketball player, Dwayne Wade and his family, taking to social media to make public their support of their daughter affirming herself as a male. Many in the media, as well as many in society, are lauding the Wade family for their love and unconditional support of their child. This is a deeply sensitive matter that must, like all sensitive matters, be handled with extreme care. There is much to commend for parents expressing their unfailing love for their child and for that, all right-thinking people would say, kudos to the Wades. Yet, for the Evangelical, attempting to live in fidelity to all the God of the Bible reveals , we are forced to look at the issue through the lens of the Holy Writ. Evangelicals find in the creation story that God created all that takes place in time and space in six days and while there is room within the Evangelical community as to how we are to properly understand the implications of creation it is without dispute that the Bible expressly says, “ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (ESV, Genesis 1:27, emphasis mine).”
It is at the conclusion of each of these six creative days that the God of the Bible affirms each Day was “good.” In fact, on Day Six God declared it was “very good,” likely due to the fact the crown of His creative act was introduced on that day: man, male and female He created them. So, God exclusively reserves the right to determine what is to be regarded as “good.” Thus, gender is NOT a social construct as many adherents of the secular worldview attempt to advance and apparently some unwitting professing Evangelicals embrace as a worldview. Gender is not some malleable enterprise that is left to the whims of the individual. Just as my race, my genetic makeup, my personality and a whole slew of other characteristics that make me the unique person I am is exclusively the providence of the creator so is my gender.
I did not provide any input whatsoever who my parents would be. I had no say in the era I would be born nor the geographical location. I did not seek to be “left-handed” or max out at six feet in height (six feet, six inches would have been preferred but I digress). The fact I have worn eyeglasses the majority of my existence are largely due to factors beyond my control. Granted, much of the God’s original design has been marred by the Fall of our human progenitor, Adam, but even conceding the reality of the Fall does not erase the bedrock principle each and every human being born after Adam is still created in the image of God and thus accountable to all that reality demands.
In this case, love does not dwarf the necessity for truth. In fact, even as we consider all the machinations required of biblical love the Word of God reveals the chief object of the human being’s love is none other than God Himself. We are expressly told we must love God more than any human relationship or anything found in the human experience. God inspired Luke the Physician to pen these startling and arresting words, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (ESV, Luke 14:26, emphasis mine).”
My love for any of the three children God has graced to me as a steward is to be commended but that love must always remain subordinate and secondary to my love to the God of the Bible and there can be no close second. While God is not literally demanding His adherents to literally hate their parents, it is still nonetheless true by comparison our devotion to God must so outstrip our devotion to our parents or any other human relationship is that it looks like we literally hate good ole mom and dad.
Thus, as much as I attempt to love each of the children graced to me, and would do anything for them that is biblically, morally, legally & ethically permissible I would repudiate any actions they would take that contradicts the clear teaching of Holy Scriptures. I might do so with tears streaming down my face and deep anguish in the pit of my soul, but my identity is firmly entrenched as a follower and committed devotee of the God of the Bible as revealed through the personage of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
I remember a seminar I sponsored in one of my former churches while serving as their Discipleship Pastor. The seminar attempted to address how Evangelicals are to deal biblically with the issue of homosexuality. The film we viewed chronicled several families who experienced the heartache of a child subsequently embracing a homosexual lifestyle. Several of the families “originally” rejected the moral legitimately of a homosexual lifestyle yet when they were confronted with a child embracing homosexuality they quickly capitulated to the moral revolution. The genuine Evangelical does not have the luxury of such a flimsy theology. Evangelicals are confessional and convictional. We embrace truth as an objective reality and reject the worldview that there is no truth or if truth does exist then it is subjective in nature.
God’s moral laws are fixed in the same way the laws of nature are fixed. Whatever the law of gravity was when it arrived on the scene in time and space it operates today in the same fashion and will continue to do so until Jesus Christ returns from heaven and ushers humanity into eternity future. The civil and ceremonial aspects of the law were not intended to be fixed and immutable.
So, in conclusion, why am I against homosexuality (as an example but any other social/moral could be substituted)? I only oppose homosexuality because God reveals within His Holy Writ that He regards homosexuality as an abhorrent expression of sexual intimacy. If God had permitted the expression of intimacy between two persons of the same sex, then, while I still might find such an intimate expression as not “my cup of tea” the Word of God would remain the final arbiter of what is to be viewed as good or bad.
Consequently, for the slave of Christ (yes, some will be shocked and others even appalled but that is the precise Greek word used to describe disciples of Jesus Christ in the New Testament) seeking to live in conformity to all that Jesus Christ commands (please note they are not the Ten Suggestions, they are the Ten Commandments) and yielding their understanding to the Word of God must necessarily reject the legitimacy of homosexuality. As Martin Luther would reportedly say at the Diet of Worms as he stood before the council assembled to question his belief about the nature of salvation, “Unless therefore I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by the clearest reasoning, unless I am persuaded by the means of the passage I have quoted, and unless they render my conscience bound by the Word of God, I cannot and will not retract, for it unsafe for a Christian to speak against his conscience. Here I stand, I can do other, may God help me, Amen!”
I will always love each of the three children I have been blessed to rear but they are not the sum or substance of my identity. If forced to make a choice between them or my devotion to God then the answer is easy for me. God, always and every time. Again, it might be done with tremendous amounts of conflict and inner turmoil, but I stand resolved and graced and enabled by God to acknowledge and embrace all that is revealed in God’s Owner Manual for holy living as a child of the King,l.
I believe as well intended as Dwayne Wade and his wife, Gabriel, may believe they are being they are in abject rebellion to God’s clear revelation for what the Bible promotes for human flourishing. That is not to say the issue of how an individual struggles with their sexual identity is not a real issue that demands a great deal of pastoral care and wise counsel. Yet, we as creatures must always bend the knee to the Scriptures and allow God to reveal to us What is Good, What is Beautiful and What is True!
It is most unfortunate in light of the all the advances humanity continues to achieve in the physical realm we continue to flounder miserably in the spiritual realm. Just as God revealed to Adam what was necessary to advance human flourishing, this present generation, like Adam, blatantly disregards and abdicates our role as wise stewards. We are witnessing the same thing with parents in cases like the Wades when confronted with how to raise up a child in the way they should go.
While society brazenly continues to celebrate and lauds the Wades for courageously supporting and affirming their child’s abject rejection of God’s design Evangelicals must grieve and lament as the world continues to be blinded by the wiles of the enemy. The Apostle Paul admonishes the Bride of Christ that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs (ESV, 2 Corinthians 2:11).
Some will question the wisdom to interject my two cents into a private matter that concenrs only the Wade family. My reply would be:
The Wades chose to make this a public matter and thus fair game for debate in the public square
Dwayne Wade would claim a Christian identity, so he is accountable to the body of Christ
Christians are commanded to judge words and actions
Christians are commanded to bring every thought captive to the Word of Christ
Again, this is a most sensitive issue. I wish nothing but the best for this young lady. Our quandary is what is wisdom? Wisdom is understanding God’s thought on the matter. Male and female, He created them! That thought must remain paramount and central in our thinking. We are not free to make up the rules as we see fit. If that was the case, I would do a whole lot of things differently. Yet, the Second Person of the Triune God weighs in and says to all who have ears to hear, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me (ESV, Luke 9:23).”
Let me know what you think regarding this complex issue concerning gender identity in general and how the Wades family in particular are choosing to minister to their daughter. What about the enthusiastic embrace they are receiving from many in the culture? Sadly, many of those would claim fidelity to some Christian tradition. I will not be counted amongst that number. Truth hangs in the balance and in the final analysis Heaven or Hell hangs as well. �����������������a�