“Is disagreement about homosexuality an ‘intra-evangelical’ discussion?” Reblogged from Denny Burk


Mark your calendars–this November, Zondervan will be releasing a new book, Homosexuality, The Bible, and the Church. While he hasn’t yet seen the book, Denny Burk has some helpful comments about its release notes.

Burk shows that the way the questions of affirmation are framed is of considerable importance, and he is concerned about the intentions of this book.

Full article here.

Burk and Heath Lambert have themselves addressed these matters in their bookTransforming Homosexuality: What the Bible Says about Sexual Orientation and Change.

Free Expression

Stevenson Quote

[Note–please be sure to read this article from The Federalist!]
I linked this post to a Facebook group that is for Christian Church/church of Christ ministers only. It was deleted within an hour. Ironically, this is a post about the denial of free expression and sharing it is also denied.

This is because there are, within conservative, evangelical Christianity, at least two camps of opinion about how cultural matters ought to be decided. At this time, in North America, by far the largest is the camp that believes the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is about saving souls, and making good ethical disciples, who express their Christianity as much as they can in their businesses, places of work, schools, neighbourhoods, etc. These, however, are heavily influenced by the Adventism of the mid-nineteenth century, which taught that the end of the world was immanent, and the focus should be on individual salvation while the rest of the world, its governments, institutions, its culture is abandoned to Satan. Those who hold to this view make up the vast majority of Christians today, and it is the “received view” of most megachurches.

These are the ones who will not sympathize much with business people who, out of a commitment to Christ, refuse to celebrate same-sex marriages. They would argue that their work is secular, and that they must therefore submit to the laws of the land (Romans 13:1ff). This view is often inconsistent, as it generally accepts the sacred/secular distinction as it applies to Christians in the marketplace, but protests loudly (and rightly) at the abortion holocaust.

The other camp believes that the Dominion Mandate (a.k.a. the “Cultural Mandate.” There are some great resources here) of Genesis 1:28 has not been rescinded, and that the glory of the Lord is literally to spread “throughout the earth” (Habakkuk 2:14). The belief here is that God has sovereign rights over all His Creation, and those rights are not diminished by human reason or law. This view holds that the moral law is demanded of all humans everywhere, and that civil law ought to reflect that. It does not understand Biblical Law as salvific, that is, it does not teach that salvation comes through the Law, but rather that the implications of Christian discipleship range through all of life. In other words, it is wholistic: Christianity is not only about one’s personal ethics or inner life, or family, but demands obedience in all places, and God’s Law is to be obeyed by all. When a nation perverts this Law, Christians are obligated to prophesy against them, and to use means to bring these nations back under the Law of God.

It does not mean that a nation will become Christian, in that all, or even a vast majority of its inhabitants will be Christians, but when man’s law is in disobedience to God’s Law, the Christian is obliged to speak and to act.

As to work, this view understands that all of work is a part of God’s Dominion Mandate, and thus is holy, sacred. There is no secular world.

As Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!'”

Follow-up to Previous Post: "Stay Out of the Ghetto."


Earlier this month I posted an article warning against the ghettoisation of Christianity. This post illustrates well the challenges that are met by those who must work and live outside the ghetto:

Article here from the Gospel Coalition.

Christians Need to Stop Making Gay Jokes

Perhaps not for the reasons usually given, that it is unloving or unkind to do so. A careful reading of Ephesians 5:3-14 helps us understand why it is always inappropriate to make light of sin.

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:3–14 (ESV)

The internet is a place where much is said that should not be said. This point is driven home, at least to me, by the events that have and are still unfolding in the popular culture around the area of human sexuality, morals, and law. I won’t rehearse these here, as I assume that any reading this are also somewhat aware of the news.

Before moving forward with this article, I want to explain how I came to discuss this text. I have been preaching through the book of Ephesians since January of this year. I tend to preach through Biblical books, rather than skip around the Bible, and I rarely preach on a topic by using multiple texts. This avoids preaching that is only a reaction to the present, and helps to protect me from the accusation of using a “bully pulpit” to attack specific matters that I find important. This method might even help me to avoid a certain kind of staleness, although I’m sure I can find other kinds of staleness to inflict on my hearers.

Having said this, I did not arrange my preaching schedule to coincide with the recent SCOTUS decision in the United States. When setting out to preach through a book, I am, until closer to a particular Sunday, unsure as to how large the passage under consideration will be. Add to that uncertainty a day off for illness, a shortened vacation, another Sunday at home but not preaching, and the text landed where it did. I don’t arrange messages around human events, be they the gay pride festivals or governmental policy shifts.

The text from Ephesians was divided by me into two sections for the sake of time; these were the texts of two sermons, preached June 21st and June 28th. I would like to draw the readers’ attention an expository outline which is a kind of building-block for the sermon. The reader will note that there are a series of three triads, the first and second are identical (note that in this outline form, the entire text has not been reproduced):

Triad 1: this must not even be named among you, (said as done):

1.       Vs 3: sexual immorality (Logical contrastive with vss 1-2 and continuation of 4:25-31

2.       and all impurity

3.       or covetousness

Triad 2: this must not be said (which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving).

1.       no filthiness

2.        nor foolish talk

3.       nor crude joking,

Triad 3: Because these things are exclusionary from an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God

1. the sexually immoral

2. the impure,

3. the covetous (that is, an idolater),


6 Let no one deceive you with empty words,

for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Please notice the emphasis placed on speech in this passage. “not be named” (vs 3, and this is an imperative, not a suggestion); vs 4, filthiness, foolish talk, coarse jesting; and vs 6, “empty words.” Placing the three kinds of speaking of the second triad in the middle of the other two, may be considered a form of an inclusion. That may or may not be the case, but it is here, I believe to place an emphasis on speech. “Filthiness aischrontē , foolish talk mōrologia, and crude joking eutraelia” are all hapax legomena, that is, they do not occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament, nor, as it happens do they occur in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, completed about 200 BC).

Filthiness is, according to the Liddell and Scott lexicon, “obscenity,” and can be a euphemism for fellatio. Foolish talk is “silly talk, nonsense, and can describe one’s being mad (insane). Crude joking describes “wit, vulgarities, mocking derision” etc. The first term seems to always be associated with sexual behaviour, but the other two are certainly readily present as well.

The placing of these three ways of speaking, between a repetition of sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness (idolatry) as it does indicates that these are ways of speaking about sexual sin specifically—the concern of this passage is not that people would be silly and witty in general, but specifically about sexual sin.

It is, clearly sexual sin that is the topic here. This is what is actually up for much debate today, but I do believe that Queer exegesis is over. One must accept the authority of the Scriptures or not, and if not, at least have the integrity to say so.

First Term in Triads 1 & 3 “sexual immorality”

 Sexual immorality (porneia) is obviously the source of our words “porn,” and  “pornography (written porn).” It would be very wrong, however, to limit the Biblical use to our current usage of the terms. It is a simple matter to see how the Scriptures use this term.

The root of this word is pornē (prostitute). Consider how it is used in the New Testament:

Porneía: “sexual immorality” 8 times in 7 verses

Matt 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

1 Cor 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind •that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

1 Cor 6:13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

2 Cor 12:21I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Rev 19:2 for his judgments are true and just; for he has judged the great prostitute who corrupted the earth with her immorality, and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Pornē “prostitute” 4 times in 4 verses

1 Cor 6:16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

Heb 11:31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

James 2:25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?

Rev 17:15 And the angel said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and languages.

Pornos  “a sexually immoral person” and also refers to a catamite, the “receiving partner” in a male homosexual relationship. It occurs three times in three verses. Note that this is the use in one of the verses we are considering, Ephesians 5:5:

1 Cor 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

Eph 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Heb 12:16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.

Porneuō is “to commit sexual immorality.” It is the act itself. This is a verb. It occurs 8 times in 7 verses:

1 Cor 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

1 Cor 10:8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.

Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.

Rev 17:2

with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”

Rev 18:3

For all nations have drunk the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have grown rich from the power of her luxurious living.”

Rev 18:9

And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning.

Ekporneuō is another verb meaning, “to engage in sexual immorality.” It occurs once in the New Testament

Jude 7

7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

[If the reader is interested, the entire word group is listed here, in Scriptural order].

Do note that the terms “sexual immorality” (Ephesians 5:3) and “an immoral person” (5:5) stem  from the same word group. It is very clear that Paul is speaking about all forms of sexual immorality, and it should not be supposed that he is only speaking to homosexuality, lesbianism, or transgenderism.

In the passages above, it is also clear  that sexual immorality includes adultery, incest, prostitution (literal and figurative), and covetousness. It is important to establish that sexual immorality is a violation of the 7th commandment: “you shall not commit adultery.”

Keeping this in mind, consider this:

The Second Term in Triads 1 & 3 “impurity”

For the interest in time and space, I will not discuss the word group from which akatharsia comes. The reader can find a complete list here. Do note, that this word is a negation of the word, katharos, “clean.”

The word in Ephesians 5:3 is akatharsia which negates the idea of purity or cleanliness by the addition of the “a” at the beginning of the word. This is common in Greek, and has carried over to English, such as a theist is one who believes in a deity, an atheist does not.

This term occurs 10 times in 10 verses:

Matt 23:27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness.

Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,

Rom 6:19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

2 Cor 12:21 I fear that when I come again my God may humble me before you, and I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced.

Gal 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Eph 4:19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Thess 2:3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,

1 Thess 4:7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

This is important: notice that out of the 10 occurrences of this word, six are explicitly about sexual behaviour. In fact, the two term “sexual immorality” and “impurity” are linked in 2 Corinthians 12:21, Galatians 5:19, Ephesians 5:3, and Colossians 3:5.

In the LXX (Septuagint, Greek Old Testament), this word translates 10 Hebrew words, the most common is to be ceremonially unclean. But see, for example, in Leviticus 18:22, (and 20:13) (ESV), “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination,” “abomination” (Hebrew towweba). In the Old Testament, uncleanness was an abomination and homosexuality as well as all other sinful sexual relations are considered unclean.

The Third Term in Triads 1 & 3, “Covetousness.”

This word is a compound word, that takes two Greek words and makes one: “to have” (echō), and “to complete, fill; fulfill” (plēroō). From this construct we get, “covetousness” and “greed.” It occurs 10 times in the New Testament:

Mark 7:22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.

Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

Rom 1:29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,

2 Cor 9:5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.

Eph 4:19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.

Eph 5:3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.

Col 3:5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

1 Thess 2:5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.

2 Pet 2:3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Pet 2:14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!

This word often is used to describe the coveting of material goods, but in Romans 1:29, Ephesians 4:19, 5:3, and Colossians 3:5 it is clearly used to describe a greed or desire in a sexual sense. This is in keeping with the 10th commandment, Exodus 20:17 (ESV) 17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” In this comprehensive prohibition against coveting, the inclusion of the wife demonstrates a prohibition against lust.

Paul brings covetousness into sharper focus in the third triad, Ephesians 5:5, equating covetousness with idolatry. The connection between idolatry and material goods may seem obvious, but we must consider here the connection between lust and idolatry. Connecting sexual immorality, uncleanness, and covetousness (idolatry) make even better sense when it is remembered that the Ephesian Christians who came out of paganism were exposed to temple prostitution.

Now to Summarise:

At the risk of oversimplification, sexual sin is no laughing matter. This is not sodomy only (in all its many expressions), but all sexual sin. It is not a thing to be made light of, to be laughed about:

Ephesians 5:5 (ESV)

5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (ESV)

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.

Ephesians 5:6 (ESV)

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.

Connect the phrase in Ephesians 5:6, “the wrath of God comes” with Romans 1:18, “the wrath of God is revealed.” There is no room for levity here. Romans describes people who have so abandoned God that He has surrendered them to their lusts (Romans 1:24).

The “empty words” of Ephesians 5:6 are the words 5:4, as when light is made of these things, the true horror God’s judgement is diminished.

To be continued . . .

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself

Union Jack

Christians do not seek human law to establish their faith–they establish better laws by their faith. Governments can make many things legal, but what is legal may be abhorrent in God’s eyes. We may know this by looking into His moral law. Bad legislation is a curse, and must be rallied against. It is an argument of straw to suggest that Christians are seeking to force unbelievers into faith, or Christian behaviour. We are simply doing what God requires when we expose falsehood and lies.

When Wilberforce (1759-1833) chipped away at the British slave trade for 20 years, before it was outlawed in 1807. He then set out to abolish slavery in the entire British Empire, and did so successfully 1833. He learned of his success 3 days before his death. He was not seeking to pass laws to make men Christian. He did not wish to force people to pray, take communion, or read their Bibles; but he was seeking to save the slaves from their misery. Unless we think sodomy is not such a bad thing, is it not an enslavement to the lowest form of debasement known to man? Can we not see the horror of the abortion from the fleeting sense of the baby? Can we, who supposedly have the light, let people sit in darkness when it is in our power to agitate otherwise?Wilberforce

The command that we “love our neighbour as we love ourselves” encapsulates the idea that we must seek to repeal bad law, and enact good law. The laws that permit same-sex marriage, to teach sodomy to children, to abort children for any reason, to allow euthanasia, and to generally permit and encourage promiscuity, are bad laws. They are demonstrably evil, and letting them stand unchallenged, is a form of hatred against our neighbours, not love. To sit by and say, “we can’t expect unbelievers to act like Christians” is a moot point. Out of simple love of neighbour these new cultural norms must be exposed as the lies they are.

Wilberforce became a Christian in 1785, and from that point on he championed the abolition of slavery. Being a disciple of Christ meant that and it means this: that we are Christians in every facet of our lives. Jesus said to “make disciples of all nations.” Discipleship means much more than personal piety, devotions, church attendance, evangelism, and benevolence (although it includes all this). It means that we are called to follow Jesus, and we cannot, must not, leave Him at the door of the office, shop, academy, or legislature. If He is not Lord in these places, is He Lord anywhere, besides our hearts?

Too much of current Christian thought seeks to reel in believers to an enclave of faith and devotion, and to, in practise, ignore the wider Kingdom of God. I am totally embarrassed for what some preachers have said recently, “Bake the cake! Bake the gayest cake you can!” As though this is an act of love! Really? Are we showing love when we affirm the proof of a man or woman’s depravity? Can we not show love without participation in their sin?

I think of the poor businessmen and businesswomen who are abandoned by the ministers of the Gospel at this time; it is a blight upon the church of Christ. They are told to do as they are told, as if God blessed their businesses so that they can be good apostates. Wisely, most are refusing, despite the crowing of the crowd. It truly hurts, though, when the scorn is cast from those who preach the Gospel. They are as called do business in God’s Kingdom as the preacher is, and it is a perfect hypocrisy to expect them to live by a lower standard. That is a truncated Gospel.

I have heard it said, that “if a person wants to do business in the world, he must do it by the world’s rules.” So I ask, when the world determines that it owns the children of the church, do we hand them over? Worldly psychology has claimed ownership of the soul, so we must stop trying to convert (and therefore, change) those trapped in sin? Sociology exerts ownership of the family through children’s aid societies, so families too are out of the scope of the Gospel? What of discipleship is left? What part of life falls under the Lordship of Christ? If Christian businessmen and businesswomen must submit to the state against their faith and consciences, then when the state demands that preaching the Gospel conform to state standards (they say you’re one of the “helping professions”), these preachers will have to comply, since that is what they are teaching now.

In the first generations of Christianity, the culture was ignored and violated when Christians had the audacity to gather up the abandoned infants and elderly. In later generations, Christians violated cultural norms at every turn, and saved souls and sanctified culture.

In modern times, I think of the Ten Boom family (and many others), who violated both culture and law, and hid Jews from the Nazis (the holocaust was legal, after all). Why did they do this? Because the Jews were in need, they were their neighbour, and the Ten Booms obeyed God rather than man. In all areas of life, there are many such examples. The price paid for non-compliance was often very high. But is this not what Jesus said would happen (Matthew 10:34-39; 16:24-26)?

God is Lord over this world and everything in it, including governments and institutions. This is true whether it is acknowledged or not. Christians cannot pretend otherwise.

On Trans-everything. A Summary from Douglas Groothuis

“I am nearly sixty years old. I have been studying, writing about, and teaching about culture, philosophy, theology, and art diligently and for decades. I have never seen the revolt against God-given categories of being as we are seeing now. Men identify as women. Women identify as men. Whites identify as blacks. The healthy identify as disabled. Most of these bogus identifications require expensive self-mutilation.

The explanation for all of this sad perversity is simple. Without the knowledge of God, one does not know one’s true identity. If God is dead in our experience, law, traditions, then human beings are no longer reckoned as made in the image of that God. Rather, we are made (and re-made) in the image of ourselves. This contradiction leads to abysmal elasticity. X identifies as Y. So what? What is the basis for this re-identification? It is the self, untrammeled by reality or morality. This is “the protean self” of Robert Jay Lifton from 25 years ago. Yet he had no idea what the extent and depth of the protean spell might be. We do. God says:

All who hate me love death (Proverbs 8:36).”

Douglas Groothuis

Douglas Groothuis

Blogging the Revised Sex-Education Curriculum 3: Math is Hard

Critics of critics of the Revised Ontario Sex-Education Curriculum are now pushing back, fearful of the result of the upcoming parents’ strike on May 4th-8th. They are pushing back, saying that parents are misinformed, and likely have not read the document. It is being said that the most radical elements are not even present in the curriculum.

The problem is, the document is in many places benign (and boring), and does not get into the worst part of this program. This is because the document does not go into the explicit detail that the curriculum ultimately will, and the graphic nature of the program, necessary to teach young children, has not be unveiled. Please don’t misunderstand–there is enough in the official document to create all the alarm. The in-the-school outworking of this guide will be horrible.

The Toronto District School Board has been at the forefront Comprehensive Sex Education. For example, The TDSB has distributed this poster, included here, that shows that, not only does “love have no gender” but it isn’t limited to two, either. But polyamory is not mentioned in the curriculum, isn’t this reactionary? No, because the curriculum is only a minimum guideline that allows any kind of deviance to be promoted. If parents think this curriculum is only about two people in committed relationships, they are naive indeed.