Yes, let’s remember who’s watching this conversation

Last week I noted Jen Hatmaker’s sad departure from the Christian faith. In an interview for RNS, she revealed that she believes sexual immorality to be compatible with following Christ. As you can imagine, the response to this announcement has been mixed. I am happy to see that many Christians have expressed dismay at Hatmaker’s stance and have said that where she is going they cannot follow.

Yesterday, Hatmaker posted some additional thoughts on Facebook. I had hoped and prayed that she might return to the fold, but that is not what she did. Instead, she admonished her detractors to remember that the LGBT community is watching this controversy. She writes:

All around you, the LGBTQ community is watching. They are listening. They are watching how we respond, how we talk about them, how we actually feel about them in our churches. They are your neighbors, your colleagues, they are in your churches already, some of them are in your homes, some of them are your children and you don’t know it. Most of them are quiet because they are scared. With good and obvious reason. But they are beautiful people loved by Jesus and no matter what, we should speak in a way befitting the way of grace, the same way that found and saved and redeemed and healed us too. Please don’t mistakenly take me to the mat in public or private and imagine it doesn’t carry weight with tender, beloved people who are bearing witness to all this.

I couldn’t agree more with this, and it is precisely why faithful Christians need to bear witness right now. The LGBT community is watching. And there are some within that community who have heard the gospel. They have been confronted with the message that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–including them.

They have also confronted the fact that while the grace of the Lord Jesus is free, it will cost them everything (Matt. 16:24; Gal. 2:20). To have Christ, they will have to renounce their sin–including sexual immorality–and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

And now these dear souls–precious in the sight of God–are hearing from Jen that they don’t really need to turn from sexual immorality. Jen tells them that their sexual immorality is “holy” in God’s sight. I would simply encourage Jen to remember that they are indeed watching and listening to her. And she is leading them away from mercy, away from life, and away from everything that matters in this life and the next. Her public departure from the faith is not helping these dear people. It’s harming them.

I would also encourage Jen to remember that same-sex attracted people are not “those people” out there. I have same-sex attracted friends and loved ones who have not only been a part of my life but who are also faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. God has already brought them into my church, and it is my joy and privilege to encourage them to love and good deeds and for them to do the same for me (Heb. 3:13). They are very much a part of us already, and they are watching this conversation too. And instead of being cheered on to greater faithfulness, they are hearing a siren call back into slavery to sexual immorality (Gal. 5:1). They too face genuine harm by this public departure from the Christian faith.

Yes, let us remember who is watching this conversation. We want every sinner–gay or straight–to know that the grace of the gospel is available to them. Our arms are wide open to them. And we desperately want them to hear the gospel and to be saved. But we are heralds of a kindgom that is not of this world (John 18:36). And people come into it on the King’s terms, not on their own terms. This King demands our all. And it does great, everlasting harm to our LGBT friends to tell them otherwise. By all means, let us remember who is watching this conversation.

Bart Ehrman debates Richard Bauckham about the Gospels

Attention, fellow Bible nerds. The audio above features two big-hitters debating the authorship of the Gospels. Bart Ehrman, a well-known skeptic, squares-off against Richard Bauckham. I think Bauckham powerfully and decisively refutes Ehrman in this one. Here’s a description of the show from the “Unbelievable” website:

Bart Ehrman’s new book “Jesus Before the Gospels” makes the case that the stories about Jesus would have changed and evolved before they were written down as the Gospels.

Richard Bauckham, author of “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, defends the view that the Gospels were written by those with access to eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ first followers. They debate who wrote Mark, whether the Gospels came from anonymous traditions and how they received their titles.

You can listen to the audio above or download it here.

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The Darkness of Porn and the Hope of the Gospel

TIME magazine has published one of the saddest, most horrifying cover stories I have ever read. It is not horrifying like the carnage of war. It’s horrifying like the carnage of a culture that is committing slow-motion suicide. The essay documents a civilization-wide calamity on a scale that we have not seen before.

The title of the article is “Porn and the Threat to Virility” by Belinda Luscombe. I am not linking to the article here simply because the cover art for the magazine and at least one of the images within the article are too explicit to share. Indeed, the article is itself fairly explicit and definitely NSFW. Having said that, the article reads as a coolly rational look at modern porn use among males, even though it seems unaware that it is narrating a civilizational crisis.

At the heart of the article is the contention that there is a backlash against internet pornography among young men who have been heavy users throughout adolescence and adulthood. Luscombe writes:

A growing number of young men are convinced that their sexual responses have been sabotaged because their brains were virtually marinated in porn when they were adolescents. Their generation has consumed explicit content in quantities and varieties never before possible, on devices designed to deliver content swiftly and privately, all at an age when their brains were more plastic—more prone to permanent change—than in later life. These young men feel like unwitting guinea pigs in a largely unmonitored decade-long experiment in sexual conditioning.

The rest of the Luscombe’s article recounts what these young men have been consuming for the last decade and what the results have been in their adult relationships with real women. Many of them are simply unable to experience a sexual response with a real live woman. They are only able to respond to pornography. In fact, they prefer pornography.

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Speaking the truth about the “Dragon Lady” and sex-reassignment surgery

This strange story has to be seen to be believed. Here is the report from The Daily Mail:

A transgender former banker claims to be the first and only person to have both ears cosmetically removed as part of her ongoing quest to become a ‘dragon’.

Born Richard Hernandez in Maricopa County, Arizona, the 55-year-old has undergone a number of painful procedures over the past few years including nose modification, tooth extraction and eye colouring.

She also has a forked tongue and a full-face tattoo as part of her transformation into a ‘mythical beast’.

Most people reading this would probably agree that something has gone deeply awry with any person who would do this to themselves. Many people would probably also agree that something is deeply wrong with a medical profession that would allow surgeons to take part in this. Continue Reading →

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Is Hell real? Did God really make a place in which to punish sinners forever?

I am happy to announce that the second edition of Four Views on Hell was released today. It is edited by Preston Sprinkle, and yours truly has written the chapter on Eternal Conscious Torment. John Stackhouse argues for annihilationism, Robin Parry for Universalism, and Jerry Walls for Purgatory. It is a spirited exchange that highlights the major issues at stake in this debate.

There are many people who can hardly bear to contemplate the traditional doctrine of hell, and I include myself among them. But just because a doctrine is difficult doesn’t mean that it isn’t true. If it is taught in the Bible—as Eternal Conscious Torment most assuredly is—then it is nothing less than God’s own word that He has revealed to us for our good. And we should receive it as such.

At the end of the day, what we believe about hell reveals what we believe about God. What kind of God, after all, would preside over such a horrific place? What kind of God indeed? I argue that the infinite torments of hell reflect the infinite holiness and greatness of God himself and of the incalculable heinousness of sinning against such a Being. But I make the case not based on theological deduction but based on biblical exegesis of ten passages from the Old and New Testaments that indicate Eternal Conscious Torment as the end of everyone who fails to repent and believe in Jesus. Continue Reading →

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“Gay Christian” explains why she now accepts same-sex marriage

I just read another public account of someone who is walking away from what the Bible teaches about marriage. Former Wheaton employee and self-identified “gay Christian” Julie Rodgers explains why she has embraced gay marriage. She has written about this previously, and I have responded previously. Nevertheless, this latest account is also worth some reflection. She writes:

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Our mothers and daughters drafted into combat?

The main reason that we ought to oppose women drafted into combat is because men and women are different. I know it’s not popular to say so, but that doesn’t make it any less true. This used to be obvious to everyone, but now it’s not. We would do well to remind ourselves what our grandparents and generations before them have always known.

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The infamy comes to Louisville

The Courier-Journal is reporting that Louisville’s Planned Parenthood moved to a new office in December. Planned Parenthood has been in Louisville for a long time, but its Louisville office did not offer abortions. That all changed this week. According to the report:

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Hold Them Back

Today is the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s infamous Roe v. Wade decision–a decision that has presided over the legal killing of over 57 million human beings since 1973. Abortion-on-demand is without question the greatest human rights crisis of our time.

Proverbs 24:10-12 tells us that we cannot be indifferent to this horror. It calls us not to turn away but to “hold them back.” Below is a message I delivered at my church on this text. My hope and prayer is that the Lord would use it to awaken consciences. Download here to listen.

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Seven reasons why you shouldn’t read 1 Timothy 6:1-2 as an endorsement of slavery

Have you ever faced a skeptic—maybe a family member or a friend at work—who threw slavery at you as evidence that the Bible can’t be trusted? They argue that if you are using the Bible as your authority on what is right and wrong, then you are basing your deeply held beliefs on a morally deficient revelation. If the Bible is wrong about something as elementary as slavery, how can it be trusted in its central claims about Jesus?

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