Josh Harris: Seven Thoughts

The internet is abuzz (it’s always abuzz about something isn’t it?) about the repudiation of the Christian faith, the apostacy Josh Harris and subsequent separation from his wife. Since you are reading this on the internet I will assume that you can find all the details you need there and so I shall not repeat them here.

What is a Christian to make of all this? Well, there’s much. For one thing, we need to reclaim the language of apostasy and understand what that means in the dying days of Western civilization. I’m not going to do that here. But I do offer seven things to consider:

  1. Listen to, that is, read and heed, those Christians who have finished their race. In other words, spend more time reading the teachings of dead Christians who lived a life of holiness and who taught truth. These often have much more value than those of the present, and their subsequent lives will not disappoint. The argument that those who have died do not have enough relevance to our situation today can be dispelled by actually reading them. Anyone who says that John Owens has nothing to teach us hasn’t read him.
  2. Do not overestimate the spiritual vitality of celebrity Christians. It may be easy to think that Christian celebrities have actually earned their status. The worst of them may believe they have earned it, but the best would shudder at the thought. In either case, God raises some up and not others.
  3. Do not underestimate the spiritual peril of celebrity status. Celebrity has it’s own dangers. A well-known (and revered) Christian often speaks with more authority than he should. A celebrity Christian can be shallow, ill-informed, and outright wrong, but his words will carry much more weight than someone who is out of the public eye. Fame does not confer wisdom or knowledge, or correct information.
  4. Be angry, but do not sin. Anger is a normal response to anyone who builds a brand, gains a following, then abandons the followers and repudiates his teachings. Be skeptical about a person’s honesty, when the issue is a moral failing before it is a spiritual or doctrinal one. Moral failure is the predecessor to apostacy. Be angry because this will cause some to stumble: “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” Luke 17:1–2. There are people who were genuinely helped by Harris’ books, who are today questioning him and everything he stood for. It is only the Christian celebrity who, upon committing apostasy and fleeing into the arms of the welcoming world, will receive accolades, praise, and book deals. He will be acclaimed as “brave” when he is really choosing the easiest and most cowardly choice of action possible (Matthew 7:13-14).
  5. Seek to be faithful, not famous; never confuse the two. Remember that for every Christian celebrity, there are many more average Christians who live lives faithful to Christ. Seek to be one of them. Remember too, that with abundance of everything, even fame, comes responsibility: “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48.
  6. Do not insulate yourself from other Christians. No one is to be “above the fray.” For Galatians 6:1 to work, a Christian has to have those in his life who can speak to him about sin and error. Celebrities are often surrounded by sycophants who enjoy basking in the light of their friend far to much to actually be a friend.
  7. Watch yourself. Nothing that has happened in this unhappy episode is out of the range of possibility for anyone else (1 Corinthians 6:12).

The Goal

 

The most popular verse in the Bible (according to progressives): Matthew 7:1. The most hated verse? Read on.

The issue of conversion therapy also known as reparative therapy is getting a lot of press today. A new Canadian federal law is being proposed, but its counterpart has been in place in Ontario since 2015. Similar laws are being enacted throughout the US. Simply put, conversion therapy is any psychological counselling or psychotherapy that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sexual behaviour. It is overwhelmingly seen by current psychology as a terrible thing that must be banned. This banning means that although a boy may become a girl, a 1homosexual boy can never become a heterosexual boy. This is confusion at its finest.

At the heart of the matter is the question, “How set is this identity, this desire?” Is it impossible to change orientation, but not impossible to change genders? How often? Is it undesirable to even allow the question of change? Please read Wilson’s excellent recent blog posts here and here. I cannot express this issues as well as Wilson does, so I won’t attempt it. He lays it out pretty straight. I want to extend his though a little.

My concern is the goal of all this. When Wilson writes that “It is a matter of high principle to the progressives that any teenager afflicted with this particular form of lust must be allowed to drown in it” he is speaking of a goal. When he writes that there must be no prohibition against a sex change yet excluding homosexuals from the possibility of a change of orientation, “The reason you exclude them is that you are not trying to liberate anyone. Your mission is to corrupt everyone, and that is not the same thing. And of course, once people are corrupted, you want to keep them there” he is also speaking of a goal—the goal of corruption. Drowning in lust and corruption are mandated by law. That is the goal, but it goes further than that.

So back to the goal that ought to be clear to any Biblically informed Christian: the goal is to eliminate the legality of Christian conversion. This is possible in their minds because progressives think that the laws they pass actually create reality.  But now the riddle, “What is the most hated verse in the Bible?” Right here: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

This “sin list” is not exhaustive, but because it might be missing some sins it is not sound hermeneutics to conclude that they are exempt from this condemnation. Further, it should not be assumed that only visible, physical acts are condemned here, keeping in mind Jesus’s words about the sins of the heart (Matthew 5-7).

The real offence to the modern mind is this, “And such were some of you . . .” (vs 11). This implies change—a change forbidden by the world. Anti-conversion laws are essentially laws that restrict the Christian faith to the limits of a small part of an individual’s private life, and that will be reduced in time. We shouldn’t expect anti-conversion laws to be content to stop at sexual orientation. If the world loves corruption, it will love corruption through every aspect of life and come to demand it.

Sexual orientation is seen as something fixed and immutable, and if one is same-sex attracted there is nothing that can be done or allowed to be done to change it. It is certainly not something to correct, for that would imply something is wrong! No, the only wrong thing here, according to our 21st-century masters, is that gender is fluid and orientation is not.

“But such WERE some of you . . .” See the problem?

The Gospel is the enemy of this kind of thinking. But then it always has been.

You can’t get there from here

To

Scripture calls some things abominations. How can we call these things good?

Evangelicals fall over themselves trying to apologize to the LGBTQ+++ mo1vement for its homophobia, transphobia, and other sins. One question is outstanding (or should be): “What does God say about this whole business? Add to this question, “What does God have to say about the sexual revolution, and it’s handmaid, abortion?” This little article is not for those beholden to the hermeneutical disaster that attempts to separate the God of the Old Testament from Jesus, and Jesus from Paul. Scripture must be understood as a total entity. While it interprets itself through its various genres and historical moments, it is not contradictory, unless one really, really, wants it to be. If you’ve been told that the Bible is unclear on these matters you have been misled. But the inspiration, nature, and authority of Scripture will have to wait for another article.

So what is an abomination anyway?

A quick word search will show that the word occurs much less frequently one might think (118 times in 112 verses). The Hebrew term תּוֹעֵבָה, (toevah) is usually translated “abomination” or “abominable image” (as in idolatry). Specifically, it is used in these ways:

Homosexuality, Idolatry, bestiality, (Leviticus 18:22-26)

Idolatry (Deuteronomy 7:25; 27:15; Isaiah 44:18-20; Jeremiah 32:35

Occult practises (Deuteronomy 18:9-14)

Transgenderism (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Cult prostitution (Deuteronomy 23:18)

False divorce (Deuteronomy 24:4)—a form of wife swapping

False measurements meant to deceive (Deuteronomy 25:16)

Practising abominable actions provokes God’s wrath (Deuteronomy 32:16); forgetting God and sacrificing to demons.

Abominations are the cause of God’s judgement: Ezekiel uses this term extensively.

The Problem for Allies

Here is the problem for those who wish to be more accepting, those who consider themselves allies with the LGBTQ+ movement: it remains an abomination. This has not changed. For the Christian to think otherwise, he must see an abomination as a good thing; that is, an abomination must somehow become good.

The problem is exacerbated because continuing in sexual immorality is disqualifying for salvation (1 Corinthians 5). Even approval of sin is deadly to the soul (Romans 1:32).

But Biblical revelation is progressive. This means that in Scripture God reveals His will and plan through time. Are there any examples of an abomination which are later to accepted as good? Can we show an example where an abomination was later called a positive good? Food laws come to mind. Wasn’t bacon once considered unclean? But note that forbidden foods are called unclean, טָמֵא (pronounced tame), not abominations. There is one place, Deuteronomy 14:3, that forbids the eating of an abomination and then lists unclean foods. Are we to conclude from this single example that, because Jesus made all foods clean (Mark 7:14-23 and Acts 10:9-16), He therefore turned an abomination into a good?

No, because the context (Deuteronomy 14:3) indicates that in this particular instance, eating is connected to pagan mourning rituals. These ceremonies were idolatrous and occult practises. These are abominations, and eating that food was ritually connected to them. Here is not a list of non-kosher foods to be avoided at the supermarket, but a warning against idolatry.

The important difference between unclean foods and abominable actions is that the former is ritual uncleanliness that has passed away in the New Covenant, and the latter is a moral and spiritual category that still stands. An abomination is an affront to the holiness of God. There is no reason from anywhere else in Scripture that might lead us to believe otherwise.

The New Testament confirms the Old Testament view in that abomination (βδελυσσομαι, bdelussomai) both speaks of idolatry and sexual immorality—See Matthew 24:15 and Revelation 17:4-5.

How Can we say, “It is good”?

When we speak of human sexuality, it must be remembered that creation is good, and after man and woman are created God says “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Male and Female are realities rooted in creation. Furthermore, in Genesis 2:18 we read that “it is not good for the man to be alone.” God made a helper for the man, which was a woman; not another man, not an animal, not a plant. This is significant because in God’s eyes man and woman are made for each other, and this excludes homosexuality and lesbianism at the level of creational. Transgenderism denies the established reality of what a man is and what a woman is. It is a creational norm. This fact is evident in the very strong language of abomination. This then is God’s judgement upon against defying His good creation.

In order to say “it is good” with respect to whatever is advance by the sexual revolution and the LGBTQ+ movement, all else God has said about these things must be denied. If these abominations are good we must see that in Scripture. This is clearly not what we find.

Scripture must be the standard of judgement.