Duck Call

I’m certain that everyone is aware of the “comments” that the patriarch of the Robertson family has been raked over the coals regarding and suspended by A&E.  (Kudos to the family for standing by Phil and basically invoking their faith in the face of worldly criticism).

The responses coming from the media and much of the morning drive radio listener crowd are that his reputation has been sullied by this “slip of the tongue.”  But did he really slip?  I think what he said was straight from the heart however coarse and uncultured it may sound to the sin-tolerant ear.

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.

John 8:1-11

Jesus did not condemn the sinner, but He commands them to stop sinning.

 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Romans 7:17-20

It is impossible to serve two masters – you either serve God or you serve sin.  Murder, lust, adultery, theft, homosexuality, and the rest are all sinful to God.  There is no Diet Sin, it is all SIN – it is anathema to His holy nature whether it is just a little white lie or mass murder.  What Phil Robertson said was not wrong.  It may have been insensitive in the politically correct media’s opinion, but it was not wrong.

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:3-8

What makes more sense – a moral code passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years unchanged or a fad that has entrenched itself in less than five percent of the world population which is known to be a major social and health risk for participants.

Phil was not condemning those that call themselves gay.  I heard no such pronouncement in his statements, but what I did here was an opinion, based on scripture, that is congruent with the message of Jesus Christ – sin no more.

The Law and You

Yesterday, I wrote what even I consider a pretty scathing piece, but when it comes to the eternal and constant truths of creation and the Creator, I get my cackles up pretty easily.

What I want to use today’s hopefully shorter entry is to address some of the arguments that were presented to say that I was being hateful, or that perhaps I was picking and choosing which laws to follow from the ancient Levitical laws.  More importantly though, I want to redirect the focus of this conversation from the subject of yesterday’s writing, the author of the Momastery blog, and the topic of that writing – homosexuality and the Bible – and bring it back to what all of this is truly about – Truth, Grace, and the Living God.

So let’s take care of the quick and easy stuff first – Levitical Law.  One of the criticisms of my writing yesterday was that I myself was picking and choosing which Levitical Laws to follow and which to ignore.  On it’s face, this criticism has some merit, but when we take the scriptures as an whole, we have to look at these ancient laws differently than we do even the ten commandments.

John Calvin posits that We must attend to the well-known division which distributes the whole law of God, as promulgated by Moses, into the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial law. Francis Turretin further explained The law given by Moses is usually distinguished into three species: moral (treating of morals or of perpetual duties towards God and our neighbour); ceremonial (of the ceremonies or rites about the sacred things to be observed under the Old Testament); and civil (constituting the civil government of the Israelite people).

Let’s go further back though, Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote We must therefore distinguish three kinds of precept in the Old Law; viz. ‘moral’ precepts, which are dictated by the natural law; ‘ceremonial’ precepts, which are determinations of the Divine worship; and ‘judicial’ precepts, which are determinations of the justice to be maintained among men.

Even Saint Augustine, over 1500 years ago, made the differentiation clear, For example, ‘Thou shalt not covet’ is a moral precept; ‘Thou shalt circumcise every male on the eighth day’ is a symbolical precept.

In Genesis 17, God and Abraham made the first covenant between man and God of which circumcision was a symbolic (or ceremonial) distinction between the people that would be later known as the Jews or Hebrews. God and the Hebrews further reinforced or reinstated that covenant in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt, much like our own covenant with Christ after we are baptized and profess our faith.

The law was put in place for a people He had just exposed His greatness to through the devastation brought upon Egypt in order to secure their freedom, through the parting of the sea in order to secure their safety, and then through the physical presence within the columns of cloud and fire that guided them through the desert, and the experience of the entire nation at the foot of Mount Sinai.

In contrast, we as believers, have a personal relationship with Christ.  We have been sanctified and reborn into this relationship.  Based on this change in status, the law (which is in place to convict unbelievers of their sin state).

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Romans 3:19-20

So what responsibility do we have to the Levitical Laws then?

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Colossians 2:16-17

Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.

Galatians 6:12-15

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Colossians 2:8-12

I would also encourage you to read the Romans 3 for more on the laws.  Now, the next logical step would be to argue that if the Levitical Laws were fulfilled by Christ and we are no longer bound by them, than all of them are null for a believer.  This is a mistruth – the moral laws as explained by Calvin, Turretin, and Aquinas are still valid.

But wait… we have died to the law and been risen with Christ.  Yep.  We are incapable of fulfilling the laws of God because they are perfect and we are not.  Christ fulfilled the law and has infinite righteousness is given freely to all in order to free us from the wages of sin (death).  So how do we rectify what parts of the law still apply and what parts we can do away with?

First – read Romans 1.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:7-8

Now, consider this:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:19-23

Now, it doesn’t take a theologian to marry the two concepts.  If the mind is governed by the flesh and the acts of the flesh are obvious, then by not leaving the life of sin, the logical next step is clearly spelled out as you are trying to play both sides – you saying you believe in God while acting in open rebellion to Him.

A person, truly trusting and placing their faith in Christ, not only is saved, but begins to abhor sin and to purge it from their lives – this is not an easy or comfortable thing to do because it forces us to carefully examine ourselves.

My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:5-6

Here’s the real crux of what I’m trying to get to and taking a length time to get there (my apologies).  If you are feeling comfortable when you read the Bible’s moral laws, you have a problem.  Those laws are meant to convict us – to show us that speck in our eye where we need to improve. I highly encourage you to look more into this topic at Freedom from Sin, which will much more eloquently explain this topic.

The question I want to leave you with today is this – should Christianity be comfortable?

Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19:23-24

 

Scouting

I grew up a scout.  I worked my way up from the first years of cub scouts all the way up to just short of an Eagle.  The only reason I didn’t finish my Eagle was that I was also a football player and after-school practices, game days, and Saturday film sessions dominated by time in a way that beat scouting.

Yesterday, a majority of voting delegates decided that scouting would become open to openly gay boys.  The issue of openly gay scoutmasters and adult leaders was tabled, but the camel’s nose is under the tent now and it is only a matter of time.

The problems with this decision are many.

Older boy scouts are looked up to by the younger ones.  Children are not generally well-founded morally, ethically, or spiritually in order to define right and wrong especially on a culturally divisive issue as sexual preference.  Confusion is easy to generate in teenagers and will be amplified by the disconnect between the words of the Boy Scout Oath and Law which no longer seem to apply in light of this decision.

Traditionally, churches have been the sponsors of scout troops across the country.  These delegates are rather short sighted in that the sponsorship and support that they have received from churches that still preach morality and Godly-living will dry up and wither away as those bodies of believers will refuse to support an organization that does not abide by the moral purpose it once did.

More so, that short-sightedness fails to take into account one other element, and that is men like me.  My boys are too young to join scouting for a few more years.  The problem is that the scouting I knew will cease to exist.  There are so few organizations that take a moral stance and will proclaim right and wrong.  The Scouts have always been inclusive of Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists.  They have never forced a certain belief set, but they have insisted historically on a moral code of behavior that set Boy Scouts apart from non-scouts.  Without that code, the scouts are just a social group that teaches how to build fires, us a compass, and go camping.  Frankly, I can teach my boys just as well or better than anyone else how to do those things AND I can use those to teach right, wrong, good, evil, and the nature of God.

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

So what motivation do I have to say to my sons that joining the Scouts is a good idea anymore?

Why would I encourage my sons to join an organization that caved on one of it’s founding principles?

Honor?  There is no longer any. A group that violates it’s own oath of membership has no honor.

Duty? My duty is to God and country.

Mental awakeness?  There is none. There was no forethought in this decision.  There was no critical thinking applied.

Moral straightness?  By demanding none, the further graying of the lines of morality will continue.

I once was forced to decide between a sport that I loved and an organization that seemed to be waffling, but I did not then understand why or for what reason.  Now I am forced to decide what is best for my sons – my duty before God.  Instead of regret though, I am proud to proclaim that this former Scout will not abide this violation of the Scout Oath, as it no longer has any meaning for that organization going forward.

Define This

“Marriage is the purview of Almighty God alone, and thus it cannot change because He does not. Therefore, His standard will remain in effect for eternity, because He is God and we are not.”

Steve Deace

Mankind can not change marriage.  We only are capable of honoring God by following His design and purpose for marriage, or perverting and twisting that which is natural and right in the eyes of the Almighty.  There is no gray on this issue or any moral issue.  There is no equivocation.  There is right and wrong. Good and Evil. Godliness or sin.

If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

Good

What is good without God?

Can good hinge on human emotion?  some sort of rational definition? or on collective perspective of mankind?  Is it possible to have a definite moral definition of good without an example of the ultimate good – that which we know as God?

What is truth without Truth?

Some would say truth can be determined by scientific analysis of our environment – the collection of evidence, outcome of various tests, and the repeatability of those tests in order to verify theorems and hypotheses about the world around us, but how can we be certain that that evidence, those tests, the very observations made are not tainted by our very perspective?

What is real? How do you define real?  If you are talking about your senses, what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then all you’re talking about are electrical signals interpreted by your brain.

Morpheus, The Matrix

So if truth is merely chemical and electrical signals interpreted by our brains, then what is truth other than a commonly held perspective?

Without God, there can be no good, no evil, no truth.  Our own fragile lives and transient attitudes and mores are not adequate judges of goodness and truth even when collectively massed into a common consensus.

Is it good for a man to marry a girl only twelve or thirteen years old?  In America, it is not considered good, but in Pakistan or Afghanistan, it is common.  How can we condemn someone in America for something that is perfectly acceptable elsewhere without having some sort of definition of good?

Good can be defined as being positive or desirable in nature.  This viewpoint is prone to self-virtuosity and justification.  A writer that I personally know asked generally yesterday how our culture turns out vicious criminals that lack remorse.

The simple answer is that our culture has fallen away from the ultimate Good and Truth.  We celebrate libertine values with indefinite welfare, no fault divorce laws, homosexuality, idols so various and numerous that I could write twenty pages on just a small sample of them, glamorization of personally destructive lifestyles, and through the faux-good of “tolerance.”

Public opinion is a poor arbiter of good.  There is and can only be one Good and one Truth – unbendable, uncompromising, eternal, and perfect.   So next time someone starts preaching tolerance for same sex marriage, abortion on demand, welfare or anything else that is contrary to Truth (even equating Christianity with Wiccanism or some other religious viewpoint – they cannot both be true!), keep a wary eye – while it might ‘feel’ good to be tolerant for a time, the steps taken in the name of tolerance of evil and sin can only further degenerate society from one of laws and justice based on God-given truth and goodness, to one variable on the transient whims of man and his follies.

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