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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Awakening the Church, Persuading Men

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

“Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.” (2Cor. 5:11)

It is time for the Church to arise, humble in mercy, clear in truth—ready to act on behalf of righteousness. Paul continuously implores the church to lay aside the ‘darkness’ of the culture, referring to sexual immorality, and to arise in the light of God’s holiness. Paul urges us to shine on behalf of a people living in great darkness who will perish unless we take a stand for righteousness.

“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now then when we first believed. The night is nearly over, the day is almost here. So let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11, 12)

“Wake up, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be careful how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:14-16)

Paul urges us to become “blameless and pure, children without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, so we can shine like lights in the universe as we hold out the word of life.” (Phil. 2:15, 16)

Honoring marriage is one such ‘word of life.’ In light of the ‘gay marriage’ crisis, God is rousing us as the body of Christ to act–to act humbly and persuasively on behalf of marriage. We must make the truth known to our neighbors and colleagues, to risk being seen as ‘intolerant’ in order to fortify the most important relationship on earth.

We must awaken to the truth: marriage in CA is in peril. And its precarious position puts at risk all who are impacted by marriage: every single one of us.

We must act today by imploring all in our midst to vote YES on Proposition 8 and to ensure that we do the same. God has given us one chance to define marriage in the CA constitution as one man pledged for one woman. This is our only and last chance to do so. We must act now.

Consider the stakes if we do not stop ‘gay marriage’:

Opens Doors to Radical Social Influence upon our Youth: Massachusetts initiated gay marriage in 2003 and their public schools began to instruct youth accordingly. That includes a story book read to 2nd graders on 2 princes who marry, kiss each other, and become ‘King and King.’ Recently, a public school in San Francisco escorted a first grade class on a field trip to City Hall in order to witness a lesbian wedding officiated by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Opens Doors to Other Types of Marriage: If gender becomes negotiable in the definition of marriage, then why not number of marital partners, or age of consent in marriage? Though we cannot imagine that now, could you have imagined gay marriage even ten years ago? Proponents of polygamy are currently battling for legal recognition using the exact same arguments employed by ‘gay marriage’ advocates.

Man has never been able to keep to one level of evil; the road goes down and down.

C.K. Chesterton

Opens Doors to ‘Gay Marriage’ throughout the USA: CA is arguably the most powerful state in the USA. Its Supreme Court decisions usually become standard decisions throughout the other states. If we allow the Court decision to stand, a flood of judicial and legislative activity on behalf of ‘gay marriage’ will drench the nation.

If we stop it, then we restrain that flood. The choice is ours.

Opens Doors to ‘Gay Marriage’ throughout the Globe: As I travel abroad, I am keenly aware that a host of other nations have ‘gay marriage’ legislation in the works. They are looking to CA. Especially Christians who may feel less powerful politically than we do in the USA. Given a chance to act, will CA act on behalf of God’s will for marriage?

The question other nations raise is this: can a faith-filled nation like the USA counter the radical gay agenda? If we will not do it, what hope do they have of countering forces over which they may have less power?

What will CA do? Will we the people arise and refuse ‘gay marriage?’ Doing so sets a precedent for our nation and for the nations of the earth. By honoring marriage, we set a precedent that honors God and His creation. By not refusing ‘gay marriage’, we set a precedent for perversion.

Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Father, the state of marriage, the state of CA, the United States, and the nations of the earth hang in the balance. Rouse Your saints, O God. Awaken the righteous from their sleep. As we fear You, O God, let us also persuade men in this critical hour. Shine on us as we arise in righteousness on behalf of marriage. Be glorified in our prayers and actions. May we demonstrate mercy mixed with godly fear through upholding marriage in the state of CA.”

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Repenting unto Mercy

In the battle for marriage, I am inclined toward the sin of the Church at Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-7). Working hard, persevering, identifying falsehood (the church’s strengths; vs.2, 3) mean little if one loses his first love.

And that has been my challenge in this battle. In fighting for God’s honor in defending marriage as one man for one woman, have I lost touch with God? The other day, I felt that familiar conviction: ‘Are my works for Him overtaking my devotion to Him? Is a political battle with all of its complexities and strife superseding the one true thing: Christ alone, the true image of God in humanity from which marriage draws its meaning?’

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.” (v.4) I must return to that place at His feet, even and especially as the battle for marriage intensifies. The ‘Martha’ in me, ‘worried and anxious about many things’, must become more like her sister ‘Mary’ who seated at His feet and listening to Jesus found the one true thing ‘that would not be taken from her’. (Luke 10:38-42)

“Remember the height from which you have fallen!” (v. 5a) To me, that height is mercy: how God in Christ bridged the gap between my native perversion and His design for my life. That height is pure mercy. Nothing else sets us free from the debt, the gap, those inexplicable distortions of humanity that distance us from His purposes for our humanity.

Only mercy sets us free to know Him and those purposes. I must return to that place where He first met me, and where He calls me to live—that place at His feet where I receive mercy afresh. There I marvel and devote myself afresh to Him out of gratitude.

I agree with the Psalmist when he says: “I love the Lord, for He heard my voice; He heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call upon Him as long as I live…The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the simple-hearted; when I was in great need, He saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (PS 116: 1, 2, 5-7)

I was in great need; I am in great need, and through mercy, my soul can rest, even and especially in battle. I remember the height from which I have fallen. I remember mercy, and my soul is restored.

“Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev.3:5b) Mercy received becomes the basis for giving mercy away. I pray that I will be true to the call to make a way for all broken image-bearers who seek healing in Jesus’ name. I pray that they would find it in Christ’s body—to discover mercy in the church instead of judgment.

I pray through the ‘gay marriage’ crisis that churches throughout the land would wake up to their responsibility to offer transformation to broken ones, especially to those with same-sex attraction.

I pray for the truthful fundamentalists who tend to conceal their own need for mercy. May they confess their own sins boldly and receive a double portion of mercy in turn! May they then give it away generously to the broken in their midst. And for the tentative ‘emergent’ church, may she wake up to her need to give a clear and forthright answer to those struggling with homosexuality. May she see the mercilessness of not giving an answer and so placing souls at risk of further destruction!

Let mercy have its perfect way in our churches. Let us repent and do the first things—welcoming broken ones with the truth that makes mercy pure and powerful, able to save and restore lives.

Then let mercy restore us for such a time as this. A time to battle for marriage. We battle in mercy for the upholding of marriage as one man pledged to one woman. We do this on behalf of generations to come.

Fighting for marriage in our land is an act of mercy for them. Protecting marriage helps ensure the stability and dignity of children now and to come.

And it restrains the hand of God who must respond to our rebellion if ‘gay marriage’ is allowed to continue. God desires to have mercy and not judgment. But He must act if His image is perverted by any state or nation. ‘Gay marriage’ fundamentally assaults the highest expression of God’s creation: humanity as male and female. To battle for the end of ‘gay marriage’ in CA invites God’s mercy; to concede to it incites trouble.

Let us together do what we did at first. Let us receive mercy afresh, and let us offer it generously to all in need. Right now CA is in need of mercy: mercy to fight for what is right in order that God would have mercy on the land.

Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“Let marriage in its true definition prevail O God; let marriage in its true form provide for generations to come. May our good battle on behalf of marriage ‘defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless, and maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed.’ May it ‘rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’ (Ps 82: 3, 4)”

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Cheap versus Costly Grace

It would be wrong to assume that all if not most churches overreact to homosexuality as if it were a landmine, ready to explode. In truth, the churches most influential in our land today seem to have detonated the issue altogether. How? By avoiding it.

Rick Warren, arguably one if not the most powerful Christian leaders in the USA, was recently described in a Time magazine cover story as avoiding ‘sin issues’ like homosexuality for less controversial ones like poverty and AIDS in Africa.

Perhaps the strength of ‘seeker-sensitive’ churches is also its weakness. Gather people on the basis of what is inoffensive, and lay aside the topics that rouse and challenge the Christian consumer. Certainly homosexuality is one, especially if preaching a transformational view for individuals and a cautionary one for those in a culture intent on normalizing homosexuality.

But in the age of ‘gay marriage’, how much longer can churches cease to give a clear and redemptive answer to the question of homosexuality?

A muddled response permeates ‘emergent’ churches—a loose coalition of youthful post-modern believers. In their amazing book, Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be: Moody, 2008)), Kluck and De Young expose the persistently ambiguous response of emergent thinkers to homosexuality.

For example, Brian McClaren all but mimics liberal Protestants of the seventies who initiated the still raging battles for same-sex blessings and gay ordination when he says about gay unions: “We are not sure if or where lines are to be drawn…” Another thinker in this arena, Tony Jones, mused: “The very nature of theology is conversation and dialogue, not safeguards and boundaries for historic orthodoxy…”

In the emergent world, an open-ended, ‘who knows?’ approach to those with same-sex attraction symbolize a new generation so committed to tolerance in sexual matters that they have nearly lost the capacity to know and apply biblical truth to them.

Is this not the wrong kind of tolerance for which Jesus judged the Church of Thyatira? Her sin was not out and out blessing of sexual immorality, but rather a tolerance of those in her midst who did, namely Jezebel, ‘who by her teaching misleads my servants into sexual immorality…” (Rev. 2:20). She incurred death upon herself and her children.

Perhaps ‘emergents’ are still reacting to the fundamentalism of their youth in which sex, especially homosexuality, seemed a scapegoat for smug hardliners. To be sure, we have much to repent of. But in our awakening, we read the paper, counsel our friends, look within and discover that the image of God is in shambles. We need help; our gender and sexual selves need fortifying and defense from good Christian theologians.

The gates protecting humanity have been burned in the fire of addiction and perversion. In that mess, none of us are innocents, or solely victims of heavy-handed religion. We are damaged and we do damage simply by being members of an idolatrous culture.

In that way, seeker sensitive, emergent churches are right in drawing people with kindness; they are wrong if they will not answer a culture so messed up it is unsure whether gays should marry.

Grace has meaning only to the degree that we know the truth—the truth that defines God’s intent and boundaries for our broken sexual humanity. We Christian consumers need to hear again the words of Bonhoeffer when he says:

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and Incarnate…

We poured out rivers of grace without end, but the call to rigorously follow Christ was seldom heard. What happened to the church whose teaching watched so carefully over the boundary between the church and the world, over costly grace? What happened to Luther’s warnings against a proclamation of the Gospel which made people secure in their godless lives? Cheap grace was very unmerciful to our Protestant church…

Costly grace is the grace that must be sought again and again. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs us our life, and it is grace because it gives us the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and it is grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son.”A Testament of Freedom

Honor Marriage for the Good of All. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“O God, forgive us for cheapening grace. Make it costly for us once more. May we Your church awaken to the damage done and dare to offend those who refuse the grace that calls them to arise out of the chaos.”

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Exposing True Lies

I scoured the obituary of the well-known lawyer, a Christian who in the sixties and seventies had successfully defending laws protecting Christianity and prohibiting rights for gays. Had he lived today, he would have fought hard for Prop. 8.

What stunned me was a small note at the end of his story. Toward the end of his life, he had been arrested in a public park for soliciting an undercover male cop.

Have we seen this before? More than we would like to admit: a Republican senator who boasted about family values but could neither stay out of the airport men’s room nor admit he had a homosexual addiction problem once caught; the conservative family man—Ted Haggard—who led the National Association of Evangelicals while fostering a drug-addled relationship with a male prostitute for several years before being exposed.

Nothing new under the sun. On the one hand, truthful men, who on the other hand never faced and dealt with profound conflicts of desire in their own lives.

Such is the divide in many conservative Christian communities, both spiritual and political. Their high truth quotient is not matched by the reality that truthful people have problems that require the merciful care of the community.

That involves grace, and much space for everyone involved to admit how deep and painful and shameful homosexuality is. Not out there in the godless world but in here, the Bible-believing congregation where beloved men and women face that conflict of desire daily. And if they don’t face it daily before spouses, and friends, and pastors, guess what? They will act it out in hotel rooms, airport stalls, and public parks.

Maybe the very churches that most support Proposition 8 also perpetuate the myth that the problem isn’t ours, the Church’s. That is a lie. Homosexual tendencies are equal opportunities offenders. A tendency may not be sin, but in many of these conservative communities there still exists little room to say: ‘Hey, I am in conflict. Help me!’

Rich in truth, these communities remain oblivious to the veins of brokenness that lie beneath their ordered biblical world. That very split then fuels an ordinate disdain for homosexuality. It is the same conflict that undergirds the gay community: knowing something is wrong, not admitting it, and then coping with the conflict by asserting their ‘rightness.’

The difference with the conservative church? We do have truth on our side—the unchanging design of the Creator. What many of these communities lack is their need for a Redeemer, right where they hurt. And nothing hurts more than the admission of how painful and deep homosexual tendencies are amid the believing community.

Yet that is where redemption begins: an admission of broken ground, dirt capable of drinking in rain from heaven. Blind eyes, yet critical and squinting, finally opened to the truth of what is going on: Jesus descending into this family’s disordered life!

No other way to real order, real healing, the raising up, in fits and starts, of the true image of God in our midst. It transforms truth for conservatives from law on page or ballot to an earthy, full-bodied miracle of God’s mercy.

If the aforementioned figures in the conservative world would have held fast to their convictions while dealing openly with their weaknesses, we would not only be spared countless scandals, we would have an unshakable message of truth tempered by mercy.

First a message for the conservative church culture: a courageous model for our young people of how to actually face and walk with dignity out of homosexuality. Then for the gay community: ‘Jesus provides a kinder, gentler way. For all who seek that Way, let us walk it together.’

Perhaps our political convictions would be less shrill and self-satisfied, our declarations tempered by the truth of our own dependency on grace. That would strengthen our witness of God’s holiness and design. It would please the Lord.

Honor Marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with Me.” (Rev. 3: 17-22)

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Nature Revolts: Consequences of Gay Marriage

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”  (Pr. 14:34)

‘Gay marriage’ is serious business. More than protecting gays from cruel and unusual punishment, it celebrates them. It is the ultimate expression of normalizing homosexuality in any culture. In so doing, ‘gay marriage’ breaks natural boundaries.

That breakdown is costly for any culture that upholds ‘gay marriage’.

I am conservative in ascribing ‘judgment’ to any land due to its poor political decisions. But one thing I know. There is a consequence to sin. It does not go well for any land that shakes its fist at the Creator. Simply put, creation revolts. The moral ozone layer breaks down and affords little protection to the created.

I shuddered at the video clip of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as he strutted around City Hall after the Supreme Court decision last May. (He was the man who orchestrated ‘gay marriage’ in CA—by marrying gays illegally in Feb. 2003, several of whom in turn went before the liberal CA Supreme Court in May 2008.) Newsom orchestrated the whole thing. That is his boast. He announced with supreme arrogance that his ‘gay marriage’ victory in CA was unstoppable—that it would go throughout the world.

My spirit trembled as I thought of the consequences of this ‘victory’ upon CA. I considered her offering to the world thus far—the exports of Hollywood and the sexual ‘diversity’ of San Francisco. These two great port cities have celebrated and mass-produced images of perversion that have permeated the earth. And seduced it. I recall my friend Greg commented on the profound impact ‘Brokeback Mountain ‘ had on his country, Indonesia; in its western romanticism, the film seduced the nation and broke its natural boundaries.

Surely CA has already foreshadowed in part what John the Apostle describes in Rev. 17 as the Prostitute Queen of Babylon from whom “all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The Kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries…In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit as a queen; I am not a widow, and I will never mourn…” (Rev. 17:3, 7)

Oblivious to her adulteries, the breaking of natural boundaries, California risks the consequences. Isaiah warns in Ch. 30: “Woe to the obstinate children,” declares the Lord, “to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance but not by My Spirit, heaping sin upon sin” (v.1)…

“This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattering so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from the hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.” (vs. 13, 14)

I believe that creation is already warning CA. A friend of mine who works for the Department of Public Works in San Francisco described what happened to the city during Newsom’s first round of same-sex weddings in Feb. 2003:

“About one hour or so after the ceremonies started, a storm of major proportions arose unexpectedly. We had an enormous amount of rainfall, so much so that the sewer system failed. Manhole covers were shot into the air by 6-foot water spouts, and there was major flooding. Trees, power-lines, property and infrastructure sustained major damage by the storm that dumped rain at about one-foot an hour.”

More seriously, just a week or so after the Supreme Court decision last May, “the single largest fire event in CA history” (NY Times) was initiated by a flurry of lightning bolts that struck CA wilderness just inland from San Francisco. The fire raged uncontained throughout the summer.

Today all eyes are on CA. Will she restrain herself in this hour? Will the righteous in the land arise and curb her excesses? I tremble as I consider the global impact CA’s ‘gay marriage’ decision will have. I tremble even further as I consider the possible destruction she could incur for her strutting about on the world stage like Gavin Newsom. Like a Prostitute Queen.

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote YES on Proposition 8.

“O God have mercy on this land You love. Rouse the saints in this hour, O God. Honor the repentance of those who know what is being loosed in the state. Open our eyes to her global influence, to what is being exported throughout the world! May the blood not be on our hands! Honor our turning back to You on behalf of CA. Cancel the blight of ‘gay marriage’ in this land. In wrath, remember mercy.”

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