Posts Tagged sexuality

No Substitution for Truth

A recent announcement by a high profile leader within the Independent Christian Church/Church of Christ has rocked our brotherhood. Since the late 1970’s this man has been at the forefront of planting new congregations as well as providing spiritual insight & instruction through articles and speaking engagements for many ministers who serve ‘in the trenches’, even as serving as editor for one of the major publications within the Restoration Movement (RM). His announcement of a lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria was made public via social media outlets and his personal blog. Sadly, this admission included the revelation he is choosing to ‘integrate’ male into female, and has already begun to identify himself as a woman, which is truly heartbreaking as it identifies a desire to intentionally rebel against God’s Word.

Scripture condemns a man denying his masculine traits by participating in feminine behavior, mannerisms, or even dressing as a woman.

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 22:5, NASB’95

Such condemnation is not simply focussed on a woman putting on a pair of slacks, or even a man wearing a Scottish kilt. Condemnation comes when someone desires to present themselves as a gender other than the gender with which they have been created. Modern culture has enabled the concept of an individual identifying a gender based upon how they feel, or think heir gender ought to be. Such is the case with ‘Gender Dysphoria’.

The coming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) includes a revision from the forth edition 1. with the new identification of ‘Gender Dysphoria’ (formerly ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ 2.) as follows:

… people whose gender at birth is contrary to the one they identify with will be diagnosed with gender dysphoria. This diagnosis is a revision of DSM-IV’s criteria for gender identity disorder and is intended to better characterize the experiences of affected children, adolescents, and adults. 3.

To be clear, ‘Gender Dysphoria’ encompasses more than simple gender non-conformity as it involves a level of  distress for the person which is clinically recognized as significant. The DSM-IV identified the disorder by a different name (Gender Identity Disorder) and justification for the change in DSM-V is offered as follows:

DSM-5 aims to avoid stigma and ensure clinical care for individuals who see and feel themselves to be a different gender than their assigned gender. It replaces the diagnostic name “gender identity disorder”with “gender dysphoria,” as well as makes other important clarifications in the criteria. 4.

Mental illness often carries a social stigma, and public admission of a mental illness or disorder is not often the path chosen due to the potential social impact upon the person. For some, the impact of public admission is so stressful it compounds the distress already being experienced. Living in a fallen world, racked with illnesses of all manner, we must remind ourselves illness is the enemy the patient, is not. Compassion is called for in such circumstances. Unfortunately, many in today’s culture have confused love and compassion with acceptance of a behavior, and grace has been replaced with ‘tolerance’, a buzz word for complete agreement.

How should Christians respond to those who have embraced ‘lifestyle’ choices which are outside the acceptable boundaries of Scripture?

Truth

First, we must recognize the Scripture as the only rule for acceptable practices. Nothing has changed in God’s expectations for mankind, nor have moral values ‘evolved’ to become more sophisticated or relevant.

Second, it is important to note these ‘choices’ are nothing new, but have been in the world since the beginning. The Old Testament gives account of cultures given to all manner of immorality and the Apostle Paul, as recorded in the New Testament, also lived in a culture saturated with sexual immorality. His disciples ministered in this same cultural context and Paul wrote letters (now contained in the New Testament) to Christians and congregations from within this culture. Yet, led by the Holy Spirit, he never endorsed or tolerated immorality. In fact, the Apostle was very bold in his writing as he called people from a life of sexual immorality to a life of purity in Christ. He called offenders out by name. He referenced specific and public circumstances of immorality. He even called for Christians to pull away from those calling themselves ‘Christian’ and living in unrepentant immorality. None of this made him popular among men.

Modern American culture seems to be very similar to the 1st century culture of Paul’s day. Open promiscuity is the expectation of even the youngest of students. Couples choose to co-habit rather than commit to marriage. Marriage as ‘traditionally’ known is being assaulted by those who desire not simply to ‘redefine’ but to eradicate. Immodesty is so common it has become a powerful tool for advertising. Pornography and all manner of deviant sexual behavior is not only accepted but actually able to leverage penalty upon those who dare to disagree.

Impact of such cultural changes are also bearing upon the Church, and it is not along strictly generational lines. More and more people, identifying themselves as ‘Christian’, find moral boundaries within Scripture as no longer applicable for modern people. In fact, Scripture has endured many assaults from both within and without the walls of the modern Church.

Finally, Christians must be cautious not to isolate themselves from those involved in embracing immorality. Although Scripture cautions not to embrace evil, living as aliens & strangers in the world, we are also expected to live as ‘salt and light’ in a world which desperately needs Christ. Christians must never condone, nor enable immoral behavior, and Scripture is clear in response to a professing Christian who continues, willingly, in such immoral behavior… such a person is to be shut out from fellowship. (See 1 Corinthians 5:1-13)

Our challenge as Christians in modern culture does not lie in the ambiguity of Scriptural instruction on the matter for such ambiguity does not exist. Modern Christians face the same challenge Paul faced in the 1st century… holding to truth, and expressing the love of Christ to those outside truth. While maintaining the delicate balance of love without acceptance of sin, we must condemn immoral behavior, urging repentance by the individual toward restoration.

 

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Sons & Daughters #3: “Sexual Connection”

There seems to be much confusion in the world about sex… on one hand, from a secular point of view, sex seems to be only animalistic or mechanical, while from the perspective of the Church there is almost complete silence on the topic. The approach of nearly every secular sex therapist or secular marriage counselor is to use lust based advice. Day time talk shows which have addressed the topic of sex encourage all sorts of lust based advice. The notorious “Dr. Ruth” encourages all sorts of people to “explore their sexuality”, which means “go out & do whatever to whomever so longs as it feels good.”

The modern Church still deals with the impact created by many misguided individuals from early Church history. In a moral knee jerk response to the prevalence of immorality in early cultures, false teachings about sex developed. Seneca, a philosopher from 4BC to AD 65 made the following observation about the culture: “I see silk clothes, if these qualify as ‘clothes,’ which do nothing to hide the body, not even the genitals … Our women have nothing left to show their lovers in the bedroom that they haven’t already revealed on the street.” Upon the introduction of Christian faith the necessity for purity & sexual integrity caused Christians to allow the pendulum to swing a little too far, shown by the teaching of Peter Lombard (AD 1100-1164) when he stated “The Holy Spirit leaves the room when a married couple has sex, even if they do it without passion to make new virgins for the kingdom of heaven.” His opinion was widely embraced by the Church which specified intercourse as a means of procreation only, not intended for pleasure. This is one of the influences upon Catholic restriction of the use of birth control. Others chimed in, ringing similar tones on this issue.

By 1894 a publication entitled “Instruction and Advice for the Young Bride” by Ruth Smythers contained this advice: “At this point, dear reader, let me concede one shocking truth. Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: give little, give seldom, and above all give grudgingly.”

So, for centuries the Church allowed the false presentation of prudish behavior equating to holiness, while the secular world ran rampant with its involvment in the fun of sexual expression coupled with the danger of no moral boundaries or guidance from the Church. No wonder the world has developed such a false impression of the Church, and believes that the Church is out of touch. Unfortunately, the Church has still remained relatively silent on the issue and has allowed powerhouses of immorality, like Planned Parenthood, to infect the minds of generations of young people. The Church needs to take a stand against such destructive, false teachings, and begin to pull our people out of the Hollywood, HBO & VH1 mentality of human sexual behavior. We can no longer sit idle by while those who advocate & participate in deviant sexual behavior influence the minds of people.

It has been said that the working definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing while expecting different results.

The Church holds the truth about sexuality and it is time that we break the silence. Our world uses people and reduces them to objects until they are no longer appealing or useful, then discards them with no regard. There are two responses from the Church which are vital to reaching people:

  • Compassionately reach out to those who are hurting & isolated because of their sexual decisions. The only hope for complete healing is the Gospel and the redemption offered by Jesus.
  • Intervene between people and sources of false teaching, like Planned Parenthood. The Church must no longer allow only one side (the destructive side) of sexuality to be taught.

It has been said that the working definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing while expecting different results. Church, we must be bold enough to abandon the passive, silent posture of the Church over the centuries and begin to reach out to the hurting, speak out to those who are listening, and live out the message of Jesus in living color.

The Church holds the truth about sexuality and it is time that we break the silence.

Since we have already covered the intimacy factor of the ‘one flesh’ relationship, as well as the need for creating & maintaining sexual integrity in the relationship, this week i will address how to strengthen the sexual connection of the relationship. We will be addressing the bold Scriptural teachings of sexual fulfillment in the one flesh relationship, and equipping singles to maintain their integrity.

Reading in preparation for the message includes:

  • Genesis 2
  • Song of Solomon 4
  • 1 Corinthians 7

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Sons & Daughters #1: “Intimacy”

Young couple enjoying a walk along the beachThe topic of sex has been taboo for many years in the Church. Unfortunately, many preachers & teachers have strayed from teaching on the topic, apart from condemning misconduct in a general way. This void of responsible, Biblical instruction on Sex has created an environment of dysfunction, compounded by guilt and shame. It has also created the false understanding that the Church is opposed to human sexuality, condemning it as ‘dirty’ or ‘sinful’ in any capacity apart from procreation.

The American culture has become increasingly saturated with images & conversation regarding sex, yet, the Church has largely held to a Puritanical ideology in respect to the subject. The irresponsible, immoral teachings & practices advocated (propagated) by culture, coupled with the relative silence of teaching from the Church, have created a sense of “We can’t talk about that here.” For many Christians, sex is something which carries a negative connotation and is better left unspoken. For non-believers, the idea that Christians are celibate, or prudish, or hypocrites only closes the door for the Gospel. Their thinking is that they are unwilling to consider faith in Christ if it demands that they deny their sexuality. Who can blame them? After all, if we are going to be very honest with ourselves, we must admit that sexuality is a large part of who we are as a person.

Upon opening the pages of the Bible, and reading passages from Song of Solomon, one becomes frustrated. The frank manner in which sex is described within its pages leads a person to think that God is OK with human sexuality… even encouraging it’s practice within the right boundaries… yet, it remains an elephant in the sanctuary. When did Christianity come to the idea that sex is a ‘dirty’ topic? Why has this element of the human experience become so awkward a topic among the assembly? Is the Christian free to enjoy sex?

For many Christians, sex is something which carries a negative connotation and is better left unspoken. For non-believers, the idea that Christians are celibate, or prudish, or hypocrites only closes the door for the Gospel.

For the next four weeks (the entire month of February) I am covering the topic of sex in the morning assembly. The entire series is intended for all Christians… married & unmarried alike. We’ll address the Biblical perspective on sex, and delve into why it has become such a taboo topic over the years. My goal is to instruct and in so doing, remove the myths, misconceptions & false teachings on the topic. I will be respectful, but frank on the topic… as I believe any Christian should be. It should be noted that the assembly will be covering a mature topic, which I intend to handle in an open & mature manner. Therefore, parents are urged to use discretion in allowing their children to remain with them in the assembly. Our children’s programs offer unique, age appropriate learning during our assembly which will aid parents during this sermon series.

Due to the nature of the topic, I will be using a slightly different approach to this sermon series.

  • First, this blog will contain devotional information to aid you in discovering what the Bible says on the various topics. Typically, this info is posted by Wednesday evening.
  • Second, since questions are inevitable, and I wish to answer your questions, you are encouraged to bring your cell phone into the assembly & text your questions directly to me during the sermon. My cell number is listed in the bulletin & will also be displayed on the screen at various points during the sermon.
  • Third, all questions will be answered discretely on this blog during the following week.
  • Lastly, the final sermon will provide answers to text only questions in a question & answer session during the message. This final sermon will be the only one in which I will receive & answer text questions ‘live’ during the message.

For those of you who do not have text capabilities, or who do not like to text, I am also receiving questions via email. It should be noted that questions in text format have a certain sense of anonymity to them, in that unless I have your contact info in my cell, I will not know who has asked the question. The email format loses some of the sense of anonymity since I typically will know who sent the email. Having said that, I want to assure you that I will maintain complete confidentiality in the handling of these questions & answers.

The sermon series is entitled “Sons & Daughters” and is based upon 1 Peter 3, Ephesians 5 and some other select passages. Sermon #1 (February 7th) deals with Intimacy. In preparation for the message, please read the following passages & consider the questions which accompany the passage reference.

    Genesis 2

  • What is the context & meaning of the term ‘suitable’ as used in vs. 20?
  • What was man’s response to the woman according to 2:23?
  • The expectation placed upon the man & woman by God was (is) what, according to 2:24?
  • What is the meaning behind the use of the term ‘one flesh’ as used in vs. 24?
  • Why were the man & woman naked?
  • How did God describe His creation in 1:31?
    1 Peter 3:6

  • What responsibilities are placed upon the sons & daughters of Sarah?

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