Racial Reconciliation That Matters

racismRace can’t be ignored anymore. There’s a deadly problem. And it turns out that the Bible has the one answer that matters. Really.

The television news story was captivating. I stopped browsing through my paperwork and looked up to focus on the report. I had never heard such a story. Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) office in Spokane, Washington, claimed to be black. Her parents disagreed: “I’m Caucasian. My wife is Caucasian. We’re of primarily European descent, though there is a small amount of American Indian,” her father stated.

Lighter-skinned blacks claiming to be white are fairly common. However, a white person claiming to be black? After the initial surprise passed, I wondered why the issue of race continues to divide our country.

Since my salvation in 1968, I have been addressing racial issues, especially within the church. Crossroads Bible College, where I have served as president for the last 25 years, is dedicated to a biblical view of racial reconciliation and the proclamation of the gospel to all people.

Our mission is to glorify God by training Christian leaders to reach a multiethnic urban world for Christ. A white colleague and I created and co-taught a foundational course, Culture, Race, and the Church, which every Crossroads student must take to graduate. This course examines, through biblical lenses, the history of the church’s dealings with slavery, segregation, and civil rights issues. We believe every Christian needs to understand the underlying issues.

A Problem That Hasn’t Gone Away

During his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Senator Barack Obama stated his vision of a nation no longer encumbered by race issues: “There is not a black America, and a white America, a Latino America, an Asian America. There is the United States of America.” But events in 2014 revealed the elusiveness of his dream.

Rioting, fires, police with riot gear, and military vehicles at Ferguson, Missouri, became the international image of modern race relations in America. We may never know with certainty what happened when a white police officer shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. It is certain, however, that Barack Obama’s vision of a “post-racial America” was dashed.

To this day, as I read Internet posts or converse with Christians, it seems like many of them lack helpful and healing strategies to address racial tensions. Many respond with anger, uninformed judgments, prejudicial perceptions, and unbiblical attitudes and actions. It is obvious that many Christians do not have a close enough relationship with believers of different ethnic or cultural backgrounds to understand or care about many of the underlying issues.

The church must become proactive. In response to Ferguson, I joined Dr. Ken Davis, my colleague at Crossroads Bible College for many years, in calling on believers to adopt a more biblical position on this complex issue:

“We believe the evangelical church must be committed to building a biblical worldview in all things, including race relations and injustices. To do so, we will need to work on multiple levels—personal, moral, and institutional—to truly offer a holistic answer to the complexities of a racialized culture. Ironically, the discipline of interethnic studies and ministry is just emerging in our conservative evangelical circles.

“Resources are still being developed and tested. We yet have much to learn from each other and to live out in our churches and communities” (“Ferguson: How Should the Church Respond?” Journal of Ministry and Theology, vol. 19, no. 1: 5).

An Erroneous Historical Concept

We need to remove the fog of the modern concept of race so that we can see more clearly paths to a better future. We can begin by understanding our history. The United States’ so-called race problem is really a historical cultural problem. Have you ever wondered why people who have one white and one black parent are classified as black? It does not make biological sense.

An erroneous concept of race has had a lasting impact on our culture. Harvard University psychologists say an archaic view of race continues to impact our thinking. Harvard Gazette reports, “The centuries-old ‘one-drop rule’ assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern-day perception and categorization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry” (December 9, 2010).

The article explains, “In the United States, the ‘one-drop rule’—also known as hypodescent—dates to a 1662 Virginia law on the treatment of mixed-race individuals. The legal notion of hypodescent has been upheld as recently as 1985, when a Louisiana court ruled that a woman with a black great-great-great-great-grandmother could not identify herself as ‘white’ on her passport.”

Such an untruthful concept of race continues to have profound social and cultural implications. The country still suffers, the article concludes, from an entrenched “traditional racial hierarchy, which assigns the highest status to whites, followed by Asians, with Latinos and blacks at the bottom.”

The Church’s Need for Oneness

The church is right to reject secular answers that ignore the problem’s spiritual dimension. However, the church is wrong when it refuses to demonstrate biblical answers to the same problems. While we proclaim that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for all people, our relationships and friendships, especially within the church, too often expose our lack of efforts to achieve this biblical diversity. The Apostle Paul eloquently summarizes a proper passion to reach all humanity (“all men”) when he writes of his desire “to become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22; see alsoGalatians 3:26–28).

Sadly, most churches are composed primarily of one ethnic group. I believe the US does not have a race problem but rather a color problem, the “one-drop” rule. The complexion of many churches reminds me of what my mother said to me shortly after I was saved in 1968 and was to become a member of an all-white church. Mom said, “Boy, you are going to look like a fly in a bowl of milk!” Well, I did get baptized and joined the church. I found gallons of biblical teaching and biblical love in that “bowl of milk.”

Biblical teaching and biblical love are two pillars upon which a gospel-centered understanding of race must rest. The church must begin with a biblical view of race and reconciliation. From a biblical perspective, “one drop” of blood cannot create different races; but rather one common ancestor, Adam, identifies us as one race (Genesis 1:27, 3:20; Acts 17:26).

Several years ago we had a black student who desperately needed a kidney transplant. His health was failing and dialysis was no longer sufficient. Fortunately, a suitable donor was found, though sadly the young white man had died in an automobile accident.  After receiving his kidney transplant, the student said to me, “I am your multiethnic student. I have a white man’s kidney in a black man’s body!” The parents of the deceased shared with our student that their son was a Christian called into the gospel ministry. They rejoiced that his kidney was prolonging the life of another man who was called into ministry! Brothers from one race, Adam’s race, were brothers from one blood, Christ’s (Ephesians 2:13–22; 1 Peter 1:18–19).

What a compelling example of our biological oneness as humans and our spiritual oneness as the body of Christ! I can only imagine what it will be like for these two brothers to meet in heaven. There will not be a black heaven, a white heaven, a Latino heaven, or an Asian heaven. There will be heaven!

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

However, we are not yet in heaven. Our daily relationships between ethnic groups often seem to be more like the account of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:8–11; 1 John 3:11–18). Cain and Abel were brothers, being one race; yet Cain’s sinful, unloving heart led him to kill his brother. Genesis 3 records the beginning of humanity’s sin: disobedience to God’s Word. The outworking of sin rises to its greatest height with Cain’s murder of Abel. Cain’s response to God’s question, “Where is Abel your brother?” is typical of many of our responses to dysfunctional racial relationships. Cain asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9).

While most of our broken relationships do not lead to murder, we are often like Cain, avoiding our responsibility rather than actively seeking reconciliation. Are we our brother’s keeper today? Can we have respectful and fruitful conversations about the issues underlying Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter?

Every church member, driven by love for Christ, must accept the responsibility of being our brother’s keeper. We must engage in conversations guided by God’s Word and bonded by God’s love. Divine love sees past skin color and judges by character that emanates from our hearts. Love listens to the pain of others who desire biblical justice and reconciliation. Biblical love will sacrifice personal rights, possessions, and in some instances life, for the sake of others.

In the wake of Ferguson, Ken Davis and I attempted to create a model and suggest positive next steps for believers. Ken sought to understand the perspective of black evangelical leaders on racial issues. I sought to understand the perspective of white evangelical leaders.

The following statement expresses our mutual desire for Christians to do more talking about solutions and discussing each other’s perspectives:

“We have sought to encourage, especially within the evangelical community, honest and respectful conversations about the continuing racial divide in our nation and churches. We have sought to model listening so that we can all learn and profit from the concerns of our brothers and sisters within the one body of Christ.”

Based upon what we learned by listening to others, we suggested several positive steps that Christians could take to address the race issue. They include redoubling our efforts to live as Christ has called us to live—praying sensitively for all peoples, modeling genuine repentance of prejudice where necessary, caring for the poor and disadvantaged, and cultivating gentleness and respect towards all.

Positive steps also mean rethinking what it means for Christians and churches to pursue justice, both locally and nationally.

We concluded our list with the need to adopt more biblical terminology. A good place to start is race. It’s not a helpful word.

“The modern concepts of race and racial distinctions are rather recent social constructs which arose out of the eighteenth-century anthropology and Darwinian evolution,” warns Colin Kidd in The Forging of Races: Race, Scripture, and the Protestant Atlantic World. Instead of promoting separate “races,” we need to promote a biblical concept of “one race, one blood!”

We need to recognize that our problem is not skin color but sin division. A biblical perspective on sin and the gospel is not a trite answer; it’s the answer. No other answer will work.

May God grant us the loving wisdom to pursue “grace relations” rather than race relations. Grace relations affirm the truths clearly taught in Genesis 1–11. We are one race, Adam’s race. But we are a sinful race because of Adam’s disobedience to God’s Word. The source of injustice and dysfunctional relationship today is an outworking of our sinful hearts.

The ultimate answer to our sin and guilt is the blood and sacrifice of another. In Genesis an animal’s blood was shed to cover Adam’s sin, but Christ’s sacrifice was predicted in Genesis 3:15. Christ has come and died for our sins. Through salvation we each have forgiveness of sin and acceptance into the family of God.

Biblical love for members of the family of God transcends the shade of our skin. We are one race, Adam’s race, and if born again, we become one in Christ’s body. We can point people to the root causes of racial conflicts in Genesis 1–11. Once we understand the source of our problems, we can offer the solutions, which work for both time and eternity.

One final thought. We should not be dismayed when the problems do not disappear everywhere. Read and reflect on Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 9:19–23. Yes, he sought to engage with various cultural groups about their problems and the solution in Christ. But he also knew that only some would be won over. The ultimate results are in God’s hands, and God wants to comfort us with that thought.

Dr. Charles Ware is president of Crossroads Bible College and founding pastor of Crossroads Bible Church in Indianapolis, both dedicated to reaching the multiethnic urban world for Christ. Dr. Ware coauthored the book One Race, One Blood.

More Than Meets the Eye

In addressing ethnic tensions, Christians should listen intently to all sides of the debate and avoid overstatements. Thabiti Anyabwile, a pastor for Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC, and respected author on race issues, has listed three common but misleading themes in these racially charged times. All are serious concerns in the African-American community, but details are often overlooked that need to be thought through.

Fatherlessness

Pastor Anyabwile acknowledges that “the single best predictor of child and family well-being is a healthy marriage between the biological parents of the child.” But left alone, this argument “fails to recognize how systemic issues actually undermine the goal of family formation and stability.” For example, the arrest and sentencing of so many black men does not leave many around to become responsible husbands and fathers. The marriage benefit “decreases if one of the parents is not the child’s biological parent,” especially if constant abuse and conflict is occurring. “So marriage is no magic bullet.”

Black-On-Black Crime

FBI data shows that 83.5% of white murder victims are killed by white perpetrators—not much less than black-on-black rates (91%). Anyabwile contends the reality is people “commit crimes in their own neighborhoods against their own neighbors.” Thus urban crime is not so much a “race” thing as a “zip code thing.”

The Problem Is Sin, Not Racism

Anyabwile acknowledges each Ferguson-like incident must be weighed individually, and only God can know the hearts of perpetrator and victim. Yet he rightly observes, “All our systems [political, economic, legal, educational, etc.] were forged during long stretches of history where systematic bias was the stated acceptable norm.” Such systems are not changed “overnight or [even] in a generation.” Yes, the root problem is always sin, but we must realize sin often manifests itself in “systemic and systematic bias.” Racism, seen biblically, is “a sin with systemic properties.” Thus to say, “It’s not racism, it’s sin” is “to fail to understand both racism and sin.”

Article written by Dr. Charles Ware  on September 25, 2016

Author Chat
Chat live with the author on Tuesday, October 11, 7–8 PM/EST. Charles Ware looks forward to answering your questions in a Google Hangout about how Christians are to respond to racial tension. Visit ourFacebook page for more details.

—excerpt from Charles Ware and Ken Davis, “Ferguson: How Should the Church Respond?”Journal of Ministry and Theology (2015), Vol. 19, No. 1

https://answersingenesis.org/racism/racial-reconciliation-matters/?utm_source=articlesmedia&utm_medium=email&utm_content=featurebutton&utm_campaign=20161001&mc_cid=ae350cee13&mc_eid=5ca0a47277

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Empty Spaces

Empty Spaces
Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit is attracted to empty spaces. Let me explain . . .

We see Him first, in the book of Genesis, hovering over the formless, empty world (Genesis 1:2).

He filled the empty tabernacle with His presence (Exodus 40:34-35; 2 Chronicles 5:11-14).

He filled Jesus, who emptied Himself of privilege (Matthew 3:13-16; Philippians 2:5-8).

He filled the disciples at Pentecost, empty of pride after getting their view of Jesus so wrong (Acts 2:1-4).

We’re to bring our thirsty souls to the Spirit so He can quench them (John 7:37-39).

We’re to offer our empty bodies as His temple (1 Corinthians 6:19).

We’re not to fill our hearts with wine but to fill them with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

The Spirit just loves to fill a vacuum!

If this is true, then it follows that there’s such a thing as holy emptiness—an emptiness reserved for Him. Sadly, however, my heart is often so full of things that there’s little space left for the Holy Spirit.

Wine isn’t the only thing vying with the Spirit for our emptiness. Pride, greed, bitterness, and lust all compete to fill that space. Our worries, anxieties, dreams, and plans can consume us, while entertainment, magazines, and social media chatter can fill us with empty noise.

Is there space in our heart for the Holy Spirit? Will we seek to be filled with and yield to His leading?

The good news is that we can.

Confession clears away sin and makes space for the Spirit, and forgiveness removes the blockage of bitterness (Colossians 3:13; 1 John 1:9). Worship empties our hearts of ourselves, and prayer makes space for His voice (Psalm 63:1-4; John 10:27-28).

May we submit to the Holy Spirit today, praying that He’ll pour into our empty spaces.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 6:22-40

More:

Read: Ephesians 5:15-20

Read Acts 4:8-12 and see the bold message Peter preached as he was “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Written by By Sheridan Voysey — author at Our Daily Journey
http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/

Problems the USA Is Facing Today…

…and Our Hope for the Future
By
Randy Alcorn | July 11, 2016

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In light of all the recent tragic events in our country, it seems a good time to share this blog.* Not long ago a friend asked me to write down for him what I think are some of the important problems our nation is facing today. Here was my response, and those from many other nations may be seeing some of the same things.

  • Unbelief (failure to trust Christ)
  • Self-justification, rationalization, and refusal to repent
  • Nominal, self-serving belief in a God created in our image
  • Loss of the sense of God’s reality and majesty
  • Idolatry—putting things and people in the place of God
  • Failure to recognize accountability to God as Judge
  • Refusal to come to terms with our mortality
  • Demonization of and disrespect for authority, starting with the Bible’s authority (but including demonization of churches and government)
  • Abortion and other forms of child abuse
  • Racism and lack of understanding, respect, and compassion for those with different skin
  • Disrespect and lack of understanding, respect, and compassion for those in law enforcement
  • Failure to give people the benefit of the doubt; tendency to rush to judgment, misinterpret, misrepresent, and condemn those whose beliefs and politics we disagree with
  • Self-obsessed political leaders who habitually lie and distort reality
  • Prevailing sense of entitlement
  • Presumption that we’ve earned what’s in fact been graciously given to us by God and bought by the sacrifices of others
  • Unthankfulness/ingratitude
  • Whining, fault-finding
  • Laziness; lack of discipline and self-control
  • Lack of contemplation, meditation, and serious thinking
  • Functional illiteracy
  • Minimization of gender differences
  • Human rights abuses
  • Insensitivity  to or selective sensitivity to the plight of the poor and oppressed
  • Treating women and children as objects rather than subjects
  • Desensitization to sexual immorality
  • Superficiality and lack of depth; celebrity worship; celebration of the trivial, neglect of the important
  • Chronological snobbery: imagining that new ideas and standards are automatically superior to the old
  • Failure to learn the lessons of history
  • Worship of youth and making the elderly disposable
  • Spoiling children by perpetually making them the center of our lives and theirs, resulting in their selfishness, immaturity, laziness, and irresponsibility, which they carry into and through adulthood

In summary, our problems center on our failure to recognize 1) who God is and 2) who we are… humans made in God’s image, yet marred, broken, separated from God, and hell-bound because of our sin.

“What is the matter with the world?” Martyn Lloyd-Jones asked. “Why war and all the unhappiness and turmoil and discord amongst men? …there is only one answer to these questions—sin. Nothing else; just sin.”  It’s common to blame the world’s problems on lack of education, opportunity, or resources. If only we knew more, we’d surely be better. No. Our most basic problem is just…sin. The world is inhabited by people like us, sinners in need of redemption, who need the grace of God not just once, but each and every day.

I realize how negative the list is, and my comments that followed it. But it doesn’t mean I’m not hopeful for the future. True, many things going on in the United States and in the world around us are discouraging, but because of the gospel, we can be filled with godly hope: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13). As believers, our ultimate hope is God’s promise that because of Christ’s redemptive sacrifice, the day is coming when all that is wrong will be made right. That’s the blood-bought promise of Jesus!

Reveling in God’s sovereign grace, Spurgeon said, “Cheer up, Christian! Things are not left to chance: no blind fate rules the world. God hath purposes, and those purposes are fulfilled. God hath plans, and those plans are wise, and never can be dislocated.”

If Spurgeon saying “Cheer up” seems naïve, remember someone else—Jesus—said it first: “I have told you these things, so that you can have peace because of me. In this world you will have trouble. But cheer up! I have won the battle over the world” (John 16:33, CEV).

So what the world’s thirsty people need is for us, as Christ-followers, to reach out our hands and extend to them, as cold water, Christ’s offer of citizenship in another world, a coming eternal home described this way at the Book’s end:

“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’” (Revelation 21:3-5).

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.

Marital Problems

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“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Marriage has always had a high place—a high calling. In the beginning, God’s stated purpose in marriage was to propagate children (Genesis 1:28) and to eliminate solitude (2:18). Such a state was deemed “very good” (1:31). But sin entered through Adam’s rebellion, and the universal Curse resulted. Out of this came a new marital relationship, one full of potential problems, for “he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (3:16). It is safe to say that the many excesses on both sides of a marriage that we see today are the legacy of sin.

Not only is marriage affected by the Curse, Satan himself delights in destroying marriage. Immediately after the Curse, we see that he introduced numerous practices that are detrimental to a proper marriage. The ungodly lineage of Cain began to practice polygamy (4:19). Later, Noah’s son, Ham, indulged in sexual thoughts and innuendoes (9:22). Even godly Abram participated in an extramarital affair that, even though not specifically condemned, was harmful to his marriage (16:1-3).

Soon after this, we read about all sorts of immorality, including homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah (19:1-10); fornication, rape, marriage to unbelievers (34:1-2); the practice of incest (35:22; 38:13-18); prostitution (38:24); and seduction (39:7-12).

What is the solution for this age-long attack on the family? We must heed the guidelines given in Scripture for a godly marriage. Passages such as those surrounding our text are well worth our study.

by John D. Morris, Ph.D.– Evidence for Creation

 

Christians & Politics

How to be in the world, not of the world, in a culture of political vitriol.

“7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics”

 A former church planter and lead pastor, Bryan currently works as a freelance writer helping ministries communicate the Gospel. . His passions are his family, writing, communicating grace, building the Political discourse is the Las Vegas of Christianity—the environment in which our sin is excused. Hate is winked at, fear is perpetuated and strife is applauded. Go wild, Christ-follower. Your words have no consequences here. Jesus doesn’t live in Vegas.

Not only are believers excused for their political indiscretions, but they are often applauded for committing them. Slander is explained away as righteous anger; winning arguments are esteemed higher than truthful ones (whether or not the “facts” align); and those who stir up dissension are given the pulpit. So I balk when pastors tell me the Church should engage in the political process. Why would we do that? The political process is dirty and broken and far from Jesus. Paranoia and vitriol are hardly attractive accessories for the bride of Christ.

Rather than engage in the political process, Christians have a duty to elevate it. Like any other sin, we are called to stand above the partisan dissension and demonstrate a better way. Should we have an opinion? Yes. Should we care about our country? Yes. Should we vote? Yes. But it’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

It’s time we talk politics in a way that models the teachings of Jesus rather than mocks them.

Here are seven things to remember about politics:

 

1. Both political parties go to church

There’s a Christian Left and, perhaps even less well-known, there’s a secular Right. Larry T. Decker is a lobbyist and head of the Secular Coalition for America. He’s an “unaffiliated Christian,” but his entire job is devoted to keeping religion out of the U.S. government. Party lines are drawn in chalk, and they’re not hard to cross. The Church must be engaged in politics, but it must not be defined by the arbitrary lines in politics.

 

2. Political talk radio and cable “news” only want ratings

When media personalities tell you they are on a moral crusade, they are lying to you. These personalities get rich by instilling fear and paranoia in their listeners. If we give our favorite political ideologues more time than we give Jesus, we are following the wrong master. There are unbiased, logical and accurate news sources out there. But it’s up to you to be a good steward of information—to fact-check for yourself, take ideology with a grain of salt and make decisions based on facts rather than gossip.

 

3. Those who argue over politics don’t love their country more than others

They just love to argue more than others. Strife and quarreling are symptoms of weak faith (Proverbs 10:12; 2 Timothy 2:23-25; James 4:1) and are among the things the Lord “detests.” We need to rise above the vitriol and learn to love our neighbors the way God commanded us. We need to love our atheist neighbor who wants to keep creationism out of schools; our Democrat neighbor who wants to keep gay marriage and abortion legal; our Republican neighbor who celebrates death penalty statistics and gun ownership; and yes, even the presidential candidate from the other side.

If you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved.

 

4. Thinking your party’s platform is unflawed is a mistake

The social policies of your party were constructed by imperfect politicians fueled by ambition. It’s nearsighted to canonize them—and it will make you obsolete in a few years. Every four years, the parties adopt a current, updated platform at their respective conventions. And while they stay on general tracks, every four years the platform evolves to meet the needs of a growing, modernized and changing party. The Republican party of today doesn’t look like it did 10 years ago. We need to know when to change our views to meet a changing culture—and when to stand by them.

 

5. Scripture tells us to pray for our governing leaders (2 Timothy 2:1-4) and to respect those in authority (Romans 13:1-7)

Translation: if you’re mocking your governing leaders on Facebook, the Holy Spirit is grieved. We should spend more time honoring our leaders and less time vilifying them. This doesn’t mean praying the President will be impeached; it doesn’t mean praying your candidate will win. God commands us to pray for our leaders—for their wisdom, for their hearts and for them to be led by Him.

 

6. Don’t be paranoid

The country is not going to be destroyed if your candidate loses. As 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Stand up and demonstrate what God has given you. America has functioned—albeit, at varying levels of success—for years under the direction of alternating Democrat and Republican control, and at every flip, the other side thought it was the end of the world. It’s not. And if we’re a Church that believes God is in control, we have to believe that He is the one in control of the end times—not whoever’s in office now, and not whoever succeeds them.

7. Stop saying, “This is the most important election in the history of our nation”

It’s not. The most important election in the history of our nation was when Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Before that, we thought it was OK to own people. Every generation thinks it’s living in the most important moment in history. We’re not, our parents were not and our children probably won’t be. And that’s OK.

 

This article was written by By Bryan Roberts, a former church planter and lead pastor, Bryan currently works as a freelance writer helping ministries communicate the Gospel. . His passions are his family, writing, communicating grace, building th… Read More


Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/politics/7-things-christians-need-remember-about-politics#EJx8cliFogTVdhb1.99

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from an original version posted in September 2012.

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/politics/7-things-christians-need-remember-about-politics#GBslfG1J5kI5J0M7.99

The Transsexual Dilemma

Transgender
Christian Research Institute

SYNOPSIS

Transsexual advocates follow the course mapped out by their gay predecessors, advancing transsexualism through various media, the American Psychiatric Association, anti-discrimination laws, and the educational system. The predictable outcome is increased acceptance of transsexualism and intense pressure on those who dissent. The momentum of the transsexual movement challenges the church to articulate a biblical response to pro-transsexual arguments. The innateness argument states that transsexualism is inborn and unchangeable, and therefore God ordained. Christians can respond that, as likely inborn tendencies toward addiction or violence demonstrate, what is “inborn” is not necessarily “God ordained,” because human nature is tainted by original sin; further, they can respond that what one feels does not justify altering what one is. The irrelevance argument states that changing sexes is acceptable because one’s sex is only secondary, even to God. Christians can respond that humans are physical as well as spiritual beings, and that because God specifically determines one’s inward parts, one’s assigned sex reflects God’s intent, which makes it hardly irrelevant. The inevitability argument states that the only viable option for transsexuals in resolving the conflict between their bodies and their feelings is to default to their feelings and proceed with sex reassignment surgery. Christians can respond that internal conflicts often remain after surgery, lessening the efficacy of reassignment surgery to improve quality of life. Also, living in accord with one’s assigned sex and recognizing one’s feelings, rather than one’s sex, as the problem is another viable option, and the correct choice.

Kim was the most handsome client ever to step into my office. As a pastoral counselor, I work with men wanting to overcome sexual sins, many who, as a first impression, present themselves as self-absorbed, male model types, so an attractive man asking for help wasn’t unusual. But tall, muscular, and square jawed Kim immediately stood apart.

“Since this is your first appointment,” I said, while Kim completed an intake form, “let’s talk about the problem that brought you here.”

My new counselee signed the form, fixed a steady gaze on me and dropped the bomb.

“The problem is my chromosomes. I was born female.”

I was astonished, and after two decades of counseling porn addicts, homosexuals, prostitutes, and an occasional sex offender, I don’t shock easily.

“I’ve lived most of my life as a man,” she continued, “and it’s worked! I finally had sex change surgery three years ago, and I’ve been living with a woman since then. But two weeks ago I got saved at a Harvest Crusade. I’m a new Christian, so…”

My heart sank, because now I knew what Kim had come to ask and that, ultimately, my answer would hurt deeply.

“…so now what? Did I sin when I had the surgery? If I did, it can’t be undone, so how can I repent of it? Can’t I just go on living as a Christian man? If God wants me living as a woman, I don’t know how I’ll pull it off. Everyone at work knows me as a guy, so what do I do? Suddenly show up in high heels? And what about my girlfriend? Does God reject us because He considers us lesbians? What am I supposed to do?”

AN UNEXPECTED CONVERSATION

Kim’s questions caught me unprepared, and I fear “unprepared” describes many believers who may find themselves in the precarious position of explaining and defending the biblical position on transsexualism.1It’s a subject as unavoidable as homosexuality, as transsexual advocates follow the course mapped out by their gay predecessors. From the 1970s onward, the gay rights movement advanced itself through films, television characters, sympathetic journalists, the American Psychiatric Association, anti-discrimination laws, and the educational system. The national debate shifted accordingly, the question eventually morphing from “Is homosexuality normal?” to “Are objections to homosexuality normal?” Those who hold such objections now find themselves (and their churches) subject to intense pressure and scorn.

The gay rights movement’s success is emulated by its transsexual cousin, undoubtedly the next wave of sexual revolution.2 Consider the following:

· Popular films such as the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry, The Crying Game, and Normal (starring Jessica Lange as a wife who comes to terms with her husband’s need to live as a woman) portray transsexuals not as unnatural, but as victims of prejudice and circumstance.

· Television characters such as the transsexual in the highly popular Ugly Betty use the likeability factor to educate the public on the inherent “normality” of transsexualism and the ignorance of those who disapprove of it.

· Sympathetic journalism doesn’t get any better than Barbara Walters 20/20 piece, first aired in the spring of 2007, and titled “My Secret Self,” in which Ms. Walters invited viewers to “open [their] hearts and minds” to “courageous and loving parents” who allowed their transsexual children to live as the opposite sex, promising, “most of you will be moved” by their stories.3

· As gay activists did in 1973, transsexual advocates are pressuring the American Psychiatric Association to revise its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to eliminate transsexualism (or gender identity disorder) as a classifiable disorder.4

· Anti-discrimination laws and educational reforms that cite transsexuals as a protected class have swept through high school and college campuses, as well as corporations and small businesses.5

The predictable outcome—increased acceptance of transsexualism and increased pressure on those who dissent—forces us to articulate a biblical response. This article will attempt to do so by answering three of the most commonly used pro-transsexual arguments: (1) the innateness argument: “Transsexualism is inborn and unchangeable,” (2) the irrelevance argument: “One’s biological sex is secondary, so changing it is acceptable,” and, (3) the inevitability argument: “Transsexuals’ only viable option is to default to their feelings.”

Before discussing these arguments, some preliminary clarifications are necessary. The transsexual should be distinguished from the transvestite, who enjoys wearing clothing of the opposite sex without a wish to become the opposite sex. Female impersonators (commonly called “drag queens”) likewise rarely qualify as transsexuals, since they live as men, assuming their female persona episodically, not permanently. Since most homosexuals have no desire to change their sex, they, too, are distinct from transsexuals. Complicating matters further is the trend towards lumping transsexuals, transvestites, and drag queens together under the all-inclusive term “transgendered.”

Although the transsexual population is hard to quantify its visibility grows, however, as it becomes more closely aligned with the goals and strategies of the gay rights movement, most noticeably through its inclusion in the movement’s oft used title The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Community (GLBT), and through the similarities between common pro-transsexual and gay rights arguments.

THE INNATENESS ARGUMENT:“TRANSSEXUALISM IS INBORN AND UNCHANGEABLE”

Kim was weeping while I scrambled for an answer to the questions she’d just poured out. “Let’s start with this premise, OK?” I began. “We’re born male or female by design, not accident. So we have to assume your assigned sex is your intended sex.”

“Intended?” she gasped. “That’s like saying God intended me to be a frog, so I should hop and croak! From day one, everything in me has said I’m a man, and you’re saying God made me a woman? Either you’re wrong, or God messed up.”

Trapped!

Most transsexuals feel, from early in life, “trapped” in the wrong body, hence the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of transsexualism as “strong and persistent cross-gender identification… and… persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex.”6 With time, it is common for transsexuals to develop a form of depression called gender dysphoria.7 “I’m so mad at God,” a seven-year old laments in the Barbara Walters special, “He made a mistake.”8 The torment of gender dysphoria expresses itself in the question, “How can I be one way yet feel another?” Lest anyone dismiss the seriousness of this depression, it should be noted that suicide attempts, drug abuse, and horrendous efforts at self-mutilation are commonly reported among young transsexuals.9

Those Stubborn Chromosomes

The solution, many conclude, is a process called sex reassignment, through which the transsexual’s body is altered to conform to his or her self-perception. The sex a transsexual wants to be is the target gender, as opposed to the assigned gender with which he or she was born. Reassignment can include injections of hormones, facial reconstruction, breast implants or removal, and reconstruction of genitals. This process is widely available, although most states require a person to live (dress, work, and self identify) as a member of the opposite sex for a prescribed period before undergoing surgery, accompanied by extensive psychological counseling to determine suitability for the procedure.

The impossibility of truly becoming the opposite sex seems obvious, but so does the desperation a person such as Kim must feel to make such an attempt. Surely, castration, implants, and hormones still leave a man unable to ovulate; penile implants and breast reduction likewise won’t delete a woman’s womanhood. Chromosomes stubbornly remain unchanged, immune to surgical intervention.

Knowing all this and more, thousands still attempt reassignment, believing, as did Kim, that they were born not for the body they inhabit, but for the one they’re trying to create. At one time such a belief held little sway, the testimony of the body overriding the mind. But as we move further from the influences of Scripture and Judeo-Christian tradition, embracing a more subjective grid for decision making, however, feelings often trump facts.

Traditionally, if a man felt like a woman yet inhabited a male body, his feelings, not his body, were viewed as the problem. They were considered something to be resisted, modified if possible, and contrary to whatwas. Currently, what one is is being determined by what one feels – an ominous trend when one considers its implications. It is, in essence, an attempt to define reality by desire, knowledge by intuition. “I know I’m a man because I feel like one!” Kim screamed at me as our session continued, leaving me stunned that an intelligent, educated woman subordinated a verifiable truth—her born, inalterable state—to subjective (though strongly held) perceptions.

Transsexualism’s increased acceptance, combined with its early developmental appearance, leaves many professionals and laity convinced that it is an inborn trait. The jury, after all, is still out on the question of homosexuality’s origins—inborn, acquired, or a combination of the two?—and compelling arguments are made on all sides. Biological or genetic factors thus may create, or at least contribute to, this mystery as well. (As of this writing, there is no single, universally accepted theory on the origins of transsexualism.)10

Does “Inborn” also Mean “God Ordained”?

Whether inborn or acquired, however, the transsexual dilemma is more agonizing than anyone untouched by it can appreciate. If from early childhood one feels like a member of the opposite sex, and if that feeling only grows with time, doesn’t the feeling’s innate status normalize it? Kim’s “I feel this way, so I’m meant to be this way” argument has to be considered. Does “inborn” or “innate” also mean “normal” or “God ordained?”

“I can’t say it does,” I answered when Kim asked that very question. “There’s such a thing as birth defects, right?”

“I’m a defect?” she retorted.

“Unfair, Kim. I said a person can have an inborn defect. That doesn’t make the person a defect. Think about it. Aren’t some people born without limbs, or with chronic conditions?”

“Not in their heads! They’re not born feeling something they can’t stop feeling.”

“Some would disagree,” I countered. “Plenty of studies have shown addictive tendencies may be inborn. Depression seems to run in families, so it could be in the genes. Ditto for violence—did you know there are attorneys basing their client’s defense on a genetic tendency to violence? All of those are problems of the ‘head,’ as you say, but they’re not normal just because they’re inborn, are they?”11

I couldn’t blame Kim for glaring at me. I was, in essence, saying that her lifelong, deeply held feelings were an error. “All I know,” she sighed, “is that God made me. Doesn’t that count for something?”

“You bet,” I nodded, “We’re all created by God, but we’re not all He created us to be. We’re a fallen race. Adam sinned, remember? Then everything about him changed, body and soul, and he passed on his corrupted nature to the rest of us. We’re all struggling with conflicts and tendencies we’ve had from day one.” (See Gen. 3:17–19, Ps. 51:5, and Rom. 5:12–19.)

“This isn’t the same as your average tendency,” Kim protested.

“No, it’s not. Some people, including you, have to deal with tendencies that are huge, and make life awfully hard. I appreciate that. But it doesn’t give you a divine permit to alter what God fashioned. In the long run, Kim, it matters less what we feel and more what He intends.”

THE IRRELEVANCE ARGUMENT:“ONE’S BIOLOGICAL SEX IS SECONDARY, SO CHANGING IT IS ACCEPTABLE”

“You talk about sex reassignment as though God’s against it, but does it really matter to Him what sex we are?” Kim pointed to the Bible on my desk. “I’ve read in the New Testament that in Christ, we’re neither male nor female. If that’s true, then God’s not even looking at my gender!”

I reached for the Bible and nodded. “You’re quoting from Galatians 3:28. Let me read it. ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’”

“Seems pretty clear to me,” Kim declared.

“But remember the context,” I argued. “Paul’s talking about justification, and he begins the paragraph by saying ‘For you are all sons through faith in Christ Jesus’ [Gal. 3: 26]. He means whatever our race, sex, or status, we’re all one in Christ. But he didn’t say race and sex have disappeared; he simply said they don’t affect our standing before God.”

Kim shook her head. “I don’t know about that. I think God cares more about my character than my sex. I’m a decent person, I’m not hurting anyone, and I’m living a responsible life, so I can’t see God caring about something as irrelevant as my body parts.”

Beyond Skin Deep

The irrelevance argument borrows from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, famous speech in which he envisioned a world where children are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Stretching the point further than King intended (surely he wasn’t implying that African Americans should change their skin color!), some transsexuals argue that, since the importance of one’s sex pales in comparison to one’s character, sex is a trait one can change at will. One’s assigned sex of male or female thus is relegated (philosophically, not practically) to a secondary, optional status, alongside hair color or body weight, both of which can be changed at our discretion, and neither of which is primary to God.

Separating sex from character requires a dualism of body versus soul, rather than the value of body, soul, and spirit described in scripture. The first assignments of sex in history were divinely commanded and commended. In Genesis 1:27, humanity is created in God’s image, and defined by sex (“…in the image of God He created them male and female.”). Further, God applauds His handiwork when He pronounces it “very good” (Gen. 1:29). The male/female complement is thereby God ordained, expressive of both human need and divine nature. That alone tells us that one’s biological sex is hardly secondary.

One’s sex also is designated individually and specifically with God’s foreknowledge. Examples abound of instances when God or His messengers foretold the sex of a forthcoming child (Gen. 18:10; Judg. 13: 3; Luke 1:31), and His foreordination in shaping individual traits, gender included, is confirmed to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you (Jeremiah 1: 5),” and by David, “For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139: 13–14).”

No Accident

Our sex, then, is no accident, nor is it irrelevant. It is a critical distinctive, endowed on each of us with God’s full knowledge and by His plan, since our bodies are in part our selves, and we, in our entirety, are foreknown and foreordained. Perhaps the broader and greater error of transsexual advocates is a denigration of the body as being subject to the whims of its owner. In this sense, transsexualism hearkens to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, which dates back to the first century and was so despised by John in his epistles and still, under different names and guises, plagues us today.

Gnostic belief dictates that humanity’s imperfection is the fault of an imperfect creator, referred to as thedemiurge, who was himself an inferior emanation of God crudely comparable to the Devil.12 The body, to the Gnostic, is but one of the demiurge’s many flawed creations, and its inhabitants the “divine souls trapped in a material world created by an imperfect spirit.”13 Whereas the Bible views the body as good and preordained, Gnosticism views it as inherently bad; hence the Gnostic belief that Jesus was only a spirit who wouldn’t have inhabited an evil body, countered by John’s statement that “every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God” (I John 4: 3).

If the body is essentially evil, created by a being that got it wrong, then it is up to the individual to determine the use and purpose of the body. Gnostics, in fact, encourage reliance on intuition (what one feels) in contrast to what is physically clear, describing their practice as “the knowledge of transcendence arrived at by way of internal, intuitive means” (emphasis added).14 The created, not the creator, has the final say based on his/her sense of right and wrong, rather than an objective standard, so the “basis of action is the moral inclination of the individual.”15

Consider the pro-transsexual therapist on the Barbara Walters special who described a male child as female, admitting “I can’t say biologically, chromosomally” that the boy is female, but insisting that according to the boy’s own intuitions, he is female, and that that is enough.16 Consider, likewise, Kim’s vehement, confident assertion, “I know I’m a man because I feel like one!” and compare it to the Gnostic belief that “the true God did not fashion anything”17 and “the world is flawed because it was created in a flawed manner,”18 leaving us, autonomously and intuitively, to decide who and what we are. Biology—what obviously is—becomes irrelevant, the “inclination of the individual” being the final arbiter.

“But you’re forgetting your own argument,” Kim interrupted when I pointed this out to her. “You said we’re a fallen race. So we may have inborn traits God never meant us to have, right?”

“If those traits contradict what He intended, yes.”

“So who’s to say my sex isn’t a birth defect? You said we’re born imperfect because of the sin nature. What if God intended me to be a man, but because of fallen nature – birth defect, as you say – I was born a woman? If that’s the case, shouldn’t I correct what was wrong to begin with?”

“If the thing is wrong in and of itself, I could see that,” I agreed. “So if you’re born without a leg, a prosthetic device makes sense. If you have an inborn chemical imbalance, there’s no reason you shouldn’t correct it through medication. In fact, some of the sinful tendencies I mentioned earlier, such as violence or addictive leanings, could also be classified as defects.”

“And so could my body parts.”

“Not the same thing, Kim. If something is inherently wrong, it’s a flaw. But being male or female isn’t a handicap or a sinful tendency. We can only call something a flaw if it’s defective in and of itself. Otherwise, if something inherently natural about our body is at odds with our desires, then our desires are the problem, not vice versa.”

Transsexualism in Light of Created Intent

I couldn’t challenge Kim’s description of herself as a decent person. She struck me as kind and good-natured, in many ways living responsibly and meaning no harm. She described her love for her partner of the past three years, and while we could have debated the nature of that love—godly versus ungodly, affectionate versus erotic—I wouldn’t deny its existence. The ethical question of transsexualism, however, isn’t answered by how deeply a person loves, or by whatever good qualities a transsexual possesses; rather, it’s answered by examining transsexualism itself in the light of created intent.

We have a Creator whose will is revealed in an inspired document (2 Tim. 3:16). That document testifies to gender’s relevance by describing:

  • the foreordained assignment of each person’s sex (see references above);
  • the interdependence between the sexes (Gen. 2:18, 21–24);
  • distinct gender roles, attributes, and responsibilities (Prov.14:1, 1Cor.11: 3–15, 1Tim.2: 9‑15,5:8, Eph.5:22–33), and
  • prohibitions against blurring gender identity (Deut. 22:5).

Common sense testifies to created intent as well. People are born male or female, a distinction marking the first words referring to them as “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Saying that one feels like something else doesn’t make it so; reassignment surgery, likewise, changes the body but not the sex, constituting, as apologist Greg Bahnsen says, “a bizarre biological masquerade.”19

Character and gender are indeed separate, but they are both critical. Our manhood or womanhood is not a suggestion to be accepted or discarded. It is an unalterable assignment, mandated by a Creator who both intended and designed it for the individual to whom He entrusted it. Oliver O’Donovan, professor of moral and pastoral theology at the University of Oxnard, emphasizes this when he asserts: “If I claim to have a ‘real sex’ which may be at war with the sex of my body and is at least in a rather uncertain relationship to it, I am shrinking from the glad acceptance of myself as a physical as well as a spiritual being, and seeking self-knowledge in a kind of Gnostic withdrawal from material creation.”20

THE INEVITABILITY ARGUMENT:“TRANSSEXUALS SHOULD DEFAULT TO THEIR FEELINGS”

Our fifty-minute session stretched into two hours of arguing, listening, and, at times, weeping. Kim conceded some of my points, rejected others, and promised to consider all of them. “But,” she said, “I’ve had the surgery. What else could I have done? And what else can I do now but live with it, and with myself, just as I am?”

The Emergence of ”Transphobia”

Homosexuality used to be considered an unnatural tendency that was to be resisted, not expressed. Today, it’s widely viewed as something the homosexual should default to, lest he deny his true feelings and do himself damage. “Homophobia” is the word now applied to traditional disapproval, making the disapproval, not the sexual preference, the problem.

Transsexualism is in a similar metamorphosis. Barbara Walters, for example, commended the parents of young transsexuals for granting their children’s desire to live as the opposite sex, thus “sparing them a lifetime of misery.”21 The new word for disapproval of transsexualism—“transphobia”—takes an obvious cue from the oft-used term “homophobia.”22

Defaulting to the conviction that one is trapped in the wrong body is touted as the answer to the conflicts inherent in transsexualism. Recent studies indicate that this may be a premature assumption, however. “There is no conclusive evidence that sex change operations improve the lives of transsexuals,” one such study reports, “with many people remaining severely distressed and even suicidal after the operation.”23As for the growing belief in reassignment surgery’s efficacy, Chris Hyde, director of the University of Birmingham’s Aggressive Research Intelligence Facility (ARIF), found that “most of the medical research on gender reassignment was poorly designed, which skewed the results to suggest that sex change operations are beneficial.”24

An even blunter assessment appearing in the UK Daily Telegraph leaves one wondering what price a transsexual ultimately might pay for defaulting to her/his condition: “What many patients find is that they are left with a mutilated body, but the internal conflicts remain.”25

In this light, Paul’s writings to Corinth regarding one’s calling seem both a commandment and a caution: “But as God has distributed [in Greek, apportioned, dealt, or divided] to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. Let each one remain in the calling in which he was called” (1Cor.7:17,20).

What Else Could Kim Do?

One wonders what misery might be avoided if this advice is applied to gender. One, conversely, wonders how to answer Kim’s question: What else could she do? Succumbing to one’s own inclinations is not the only alternative in dealing with transsexualism. When I pointed this out to Kim, her reaction was understandable. “You’ve got some pretty clear answers, Joe. But tell me honestly: if I go home and break up with my girlfriend, then put on a skirt and try to live as a woman, leaving behind everything about my life as I know it, will the church be there for me? Will they welcome me, even though I’ll look like a man wearing a dress? Can I be honest with fellow Christians about the surgery I had? Will I really be a sister in Christ, or will I be the resident freak?”

I thought of my own return to the church after years of public involvement in sexual sin, and my terror that the past would color everyone’s impression of me. Kim’s apprehension had to have been greater and deeper. It was, indeed, a bleak road I was advising her to walk, but hadn’t Saul of Tarsus walked the same one, carrying with him the weight of his past persecution of Christians when he tried joining himself to the church? Hadn’t he faced skepticism as well?

It’s a rare believer who is asked to fill Paul’s sandals, yet Kim was required to do just that. I could only hope, should she say yes to her inborn gender and begin walking in it again, that believers would come alongside her, extending the right hand of fellowship to her as the friendly Barnabas did to Paul when he began his own journey. I told Kim as much; she remained unconvinced and undecided. Our session ended with her promising to prayerfully consider all we’d discussed, and to call me for a follow up appointment. She never did.

CARING FOR MANDY

Recently I came across the testimony of a pastor who discipled a transsexual who had had reassignment surgery. “Mandy” originally presented himself as a woman, was converted and baptized, then disclosed his secret to the pastor. The pastor, while making it clear that the assigned sex was the one to strive for, nonetheless continued to care for Mandy, encouraging him to disclose the truth to others gradually and pursue God’s will. As he did so, his masculine characteristics became more apparent, surgery notwithstanding. His church gathered around him, supportive and accepting, until Mandy decided to live openly as a man. As the pastor describes it: “Mandy became ‘James.’ Great was the rejoicing when a fine, be-suited young James walked to the front on the first Sunday of the year to be ‘introduced’ to the church. Fifteen months later, James announced his engagement to a girl in the church, but that’s another story.”26

Mandy was blessed; his church was Christ-like. Other churches should take a cue, and respond likewise to those with this struggle who will no doubt be joining other congregations as well. As the transsexual movement picks up steam, the church as a whole must be prepared to articulate and defend the biblical position, while offering support and discipleship to repentant transsexuals. The transsexual dilemma demands a response, as the culture and the church wrestle with its many ramifications. And somewhere, amid the debate, my friend Kim—and thousands like her—face a decision of indescribable consequence.


NOTES

  1. The American Psychiatric Association replaced the term transsexualism with the term gender identity disorder of adulthood, using the broader term gender identity disorder (GID) to describe the condition in children and people of all ages. This article uses transsexualism, however, since most of its discussion involves the adult form of the disorder. See Stuart C. Yudofsky and Robert E. Hales, The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2003), 745.
  2. The pro-transsexual public health Web site “Public Health Seattle and King County,” located at http://www.metrokc.gov/health/glbt/transgender.htm#mh, for example, makes assertions about acceptance of transsexualism that parallel those that homosexuals made thirty years earlier when it reports: “Although societal acceptance of transsexual and transgendered people is far from complete, there is a growing and active community of transgendered people—particularly in the coastal areas of the United States. There are also increasing numbers of books and online information and support for people transgendered people [sic].”
  3. Barbara Walters, “My Secret Self,” 20/20, April 27, 2007, ABC.
  4. Kelley Winters, “Issues of GID Diagnosis for Transsexual Women and Men,” GID Reform Advocates, http://www.gidreform.org/gid30285.html.
  5. See, for example, a listing of such reforms and proposals in Francisco Forrest Martin, “Breaking New Ground in International Law Protecting Transsexual Rights: Rights International’s Amicus Curiae Brief in X.Y. and Z. v. United Kingdom,” The National Journal of Sexual Orientation Law 3, 1 (1997), http://www.ibiblio.org/gaylaw/issue5/transbre.html.
  6. Ibid., 576. See also “DSM IV: Gender Identity Disorder,” Diagnostic Features, Gender Identity Disorder Today, MH Today, http://www.mental-health-today.com/gender/ dsm.htm.
  7. “Gender Dysphoria,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexual.
  8. “My Secret Self.”
  9. George J. Wilkerson, “What We Don’t Know: The Unaddressed Health Concerns of the Transgendered, ”Trans-Health.com, http://www.trans-health.com/displayarticle.php?aid=7.
  10. “Causes of Transsexualism,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexual.
  11. Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishing, 1991), 206-7.
  12. Douglas Groothuis, “Ancient and Modern Gnosticism (Part One): Gnosticism and the Gnostic Jesus,”Christian Research Journal, 13, 2 (Fall 1990): 8, http://www.equip.org/dg040-1.
  13. “Gnosticism,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism.
  14. Stephan A. Hoeller, “The Gnostic World View: A Brief Summary of Gnosticism,” Gnosis, http://www.gnosis.org/gnintro.htm.
  15. “Gnosticism,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gnosticism.
  16. “My Secret Self.”
  17. Stephan A. Hoeller, http://www.gnosis.org/gnintro.htm.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Greg Bahnsen “The Ethical Issue of Homosexuality,” Penpoint 6, 6 (June 1995); cited at http://www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/Village/8295/bahnsen.html.
  20. The Christian Institute, “Transsexualism,” Apologetics, The Christian Institute, http://www.christian.org.uk/briefingpapers/transsexualism.htm.
  21. “My Secret Self.”
  22. “Transphobia,” Answers.com, Wikipedia, http://www.answers.com/topic/transphobia.
  23. David Batty, “Sex Changes Are Not Effective, Say Researchers,” Society Guardian, July 30, 2004; cited at http://society.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4982009-105965,00.html.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Daily Telegraph, July 15, 2002, cited in The Christian Institute, “Transsexualism,” Apologetics, The Christian Institute, http://www.christian.org.uk/briefingpapers/transsexualism.htm.
  26. “Transsexualism in the Church: A Pastor Responds,” Proverbs 27:7 Issues, New Hope Outreach, http://www.newhopeoutreachtoronto.org/A_pastor_responds.html.

This article first appeared in CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 31, number 01 (2008). The full text of this article in PDF format can be obtained by clicking here. For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/

This article–written by Joe Dallas– first appeared in the Christian Research Journal, volume 31, number 1 (2008). For further information or to subscribe to the Christian Research Journal go to: http://www.equip.org

You can download a PDF version of this article by clicking the following link, or pasting the link into your browser’s address field and hitting enter: http://www.equip.org/PDF/JAT106.pdf

 

 

4 Ways to Put Your Worry to Work

Put Your Worry Photo
1. Let Worry Turn Your Attention to God.
When we worry, we are actually acknowledging the truth that we are not adequate to meet the demands of life in our own strength. This is our moment to remind ourselves of some important truths about God. He is everywhere. There is no place, no matter how alone we may feel, that God cannot be. He is everywhere! (Psalm 139:7–12; Jeremiah 23:23–24). He knows everything. He knows how afraid we are, how bad we feel, and what scares us. The more worried we become, the more we act as if God were ignorant of our situation. We don’t know the future, but God does; and He knows our needs (job 7:20; Psalm 33:13­–14). He is all-powerful. Worriers feel that no one has the power to stop bad things from happening—not even God. But God has limitless power and His own wise reasons for what He permits (Genesis 17:1; 18:14; Matthew 19:26).

2. Let Worry Turn You to the Words of Jesus.
In Matthew 6:25–34, Jesus challenged His followers to see that the opportunities of heaven are more important than the potential losses of life. He urged them to believe that if God takes care of the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields, He will take care of His children. Jesus understands our inclinations, so He reminds us that just like the natural world around us, we were not made to worry. Birds have to eat, but they don’t get migraines obsessing about it. Flowers “wear clothes,” but they don’t have to be treated for ulcers. Their heavenly Father takes care of them.

3. Turn Worry Into Prayer.
Few of us have endured the kind of problems encountered by the apostle Paul. Yet in spite of all the threats on his life, the beatings, and the imprisonments, he wrote to the Philippians: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–7). When we are worried, we need to take that worry to God. Ask for His help. Earnestly petition Him. The God who told us to ask, seek, and knock will give, help us find, and answer (Matthew 7:7–8).

4. Turn Worry Into Practical Choices.
The apostle Peter wrote to people undergoing intense persecution and offered this alternative to worry: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7). Two steps are involved in this process: Accept What We Cannot Change. Instead of emotionally unraveling, or avoiding reality by denying our worry, we can humbly accept that these circumstances are part of our life. Give to God What We Cannot Change. Peter’s words also encourage us to put our helpless feelings of worry into those same all-powerful hands. He urges us to cast our cares on God, entrusting ourselves to the One who cared enough for us to send His Son to die for us. A decision to let the ultimate worry bring us to the One who died for us is the first step. From then on, every concern of life, regardless of how troubling, can help us to care for others or trust the Lord for what He alone can do.
From the Discovery Series booklet Overcoming Worry.

DISCOVERY SERIES·FRIDAY, MAY 13, 2016
https://www.facebook.com/notes/discovery-series/4-ways-to-put-your-worry-to-work/716721685097285

Preventing Church Violence

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A church is often viewed as a safe haven–not only by the congregation members, staff and volunteers–but by the community it’s a part of.  However, today’s reality proves that shootings and violent outbreaks are more commonplace and churches aren’t excluded from that.  The Charleston church shooting on June 17, 2015, demonstrated that violent incidents may occour at any time and churches are vulnerable to such acts

Shocking as it may seem, violent incidents like the one in Charleston happen several times each year at churches across the country. And while it’s not a pleasant topic to discuss, churches need to prepare themselves in the unfortunate case that a violent act does occur. Below are some suggestions for how to make your church and its members less vulnerable.

How to Make Your Church Less Vulnerable

  • If you don’t already have one, create a church Safety and Security Team. Designate a point person on security issues to be the security director and define the responsibilities of that position.
  • Conduct a security assessment to identify your church’s vulnerabilities. Ideally, the assessment would be conducted in conjunction with your local law enforcement agency.
  • Develop a church security plan with defined roles for all staff, including greeters, ushers and other frontline workers and volunteers.
  • Within your church security plan, include a seating location for all security personnel, lockdown procedures, crisis communications and an evacuation plan.
  • If appropriate for the size of your church, have walkie-talkies, pagers and/or radios on hand so that you may effectively communicate any issues of concern.
  • Establish a zero-tolerance policy for fights, altercations and other disruptions.
  • Work with local law enforcement to provide training for staff and volunteers on topics such as dealing with disruptive individuals and identifying and diffusing potentially violent situations.
  • Understand the rules and limitations of a concealed carry weapons permit (CCW) and what your rights as a church are in allowing members or visitors to bring their firearm to church.

How to Make Your Church Members Less Vulnerable

  • Never allow staff to work alone. Always ensure that there are at least two employees present at all times.
  • Establish an internal distress code that will alert others in the office to your need for assistance. For example, if your members typically address each other by first name, your distress code could be addressing a colleague by his/her last name (i.e., “Ms. Smith”).
  • Keep all church doors locked except when in use and limit access points as much as possible.
  • Make sure all church staff members know of and understand the church’s security plan.
  • The best way to address violence is to be prepared. There is no assurance that a violent episode can be avoided. However, you can be prepared for the possibility of an incident occurring and therefore react to a deadly situation in a timelier manner, potentially saving lives.

Download a free e-book to help protect your congregation.

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Dating Site Including Polyamory as Sexual Orientation Option

Dating Site Including Polyamory as Sexual Orientation Option

Written by Avery Foley on February 22, 2016

Marriage is no longer a sacred institution in America. Increasingly, marriage is viewed as something that’s broken and that just doesn’t work for today’s generation, so, as research indicates, one-fourth of Millennials are likely to never marry. Those who do marry have divorce as an escape route and, sadly, many will choose to use it. Sex, which has traditionally been viewed as exclusively for married couples, has been cheapened to the point where “one-night stands” with relative strangers are acceptable and in many cases expected. Homosexual relations and multiple partners are no longer frowned upon by the culture, and polyamory—basically adultery with consent from your partner—is on the rise. Even among 20-somethings who currently attend church, almost 40% don’t think premarital sex is wrong. What has happened?

What’s Right in My Own Eyes

America, in times past, based its thinking on God’s Word. Morality was largely determined by what God’s Word taught. Marriage and sex were both sacred to the culture because God’s Word views them as sacred. Of course, this doesn’t mean every individual treated marriage and sex with respect. We live in a sin-cursed world and every human being is fallen. The same sins that we see today were there before but the difference is that, generally speaking, the culture held to God’s Word as the moral standard for behavior and choices.

But times have definitely changed. As a whole, our culture has rejected God’s Word as its moral foundation. This was crystalized in Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015, when the Supreme Court made gay “marriage” legal across the United States. This was the culmination of years of rejecting God’s Word and instead basing morality on man’s ever-changing opinions and reasoning. This is the same attitude that ancient Israel exhibited: “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). In 21st-century America it has become “We don’t want there to be a God in America, so everyone does what’s right in their own eyes.”

Openness to Anything

OkCupid is a popular dating website that is visited by millions of people each year. Its features are the epitome of America’s changing concepts on marriage, sex, and gender. In 2014 OkCupid launched features allowing users to choose from 22 different gender and 12 sexual orientation options to describe themselves. These include “straight,” “questioning,” “asexual,” “heteroflexible,” “sapiosexual,” “androgynous,” “intersex,” “two spirit,” “transmasculine,” “hijra,” and much more.

In January 2016 the dating site introduced some new options intended to satisfy what they perceive as a growing trend: “Couples Linking.” This new feature allows “people who identify as ‘married,’ ‘seeing someone,’ or ‘in an open relationship’ to find new individuals with whom to have relationships.” Reportedly this new feature is the result of 24% of OkCupid users being “seriously interested” in group sex and 42% being willing to date someone who is already in a relationship.

OkCupid Polyamorous RelationshipsOkCupid You Do You

These OkCupid features highlight how far our culture has drifted from God’s view of marriage, sex, and gender. Really, all things have been deemed permissible by our culture, and dating sites are becoming more about gratifying sexual desires then anything else. A common argument for gay “marriage” is “if they love one another . . . ” Acceptable is then based on a purely emotional argument where “love” is used to determine whether or not something is permissible. Of course, if this is the standard, then what is wrong with adultery, bestiality, polyamory, polygamy, or pedophilia? With no absolute standard, “anything goes” as man decides morality based on his own fallible opinions.

God Created Marriage

But there is an absolute standard for morality—it is found in God’s unchanging Word. Genesis 1 and 2 provide the foundation for marriage. In our culture, so heavily influenced by evolution, marriage is thought to be just another thing that evolved along the way. And if marriage evolved before, then marriage can evolve again. But marriage did not evolve, nor is marriage some outdated government institution or social organization pattern. Marriage is part of God’s “very good” design for humanity.

But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And theLord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which theLord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

And Adam said:

This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:20–24)

Since marriage is God’s institution, only He has the authority to define marriage. And it is clearly defined for us in Genesis as being between one man and one woman for life: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Since God defined marriage we do not have the authority as His creation to change His design. And He has defined it as being between one man and one woman (and has reaffirmed this design throughout Scripture, e.g., Matthew 19:4–5). Polygamy, polyamory, and homosexuality are outside of God’s perfect design and are therefore sinful.

These Genesis passages also highlight something else that is not a human institution. It’s a common claim today that gender is fluid and can be whatever we want it to be. But we didn’t invent gender—God did. God created “male and female.” Sadly, sin ruined God’s “very good” (Genesis 1:31) creation and now everything—including gender—is part of a sin-cursed world. But that doesn’t mean that God’s design can be thrown out the window. God’s design has been perverted, and we need to immerse ourselves in God’s Word so that we can recognize error when we see it. The gender confusion so common today is part of the curse of sin that, as with any other sinful behavior or tendency, needs the salvation and restoration that Jesus Christ offers.

Call It What It Is!

“Open relationships” are wrong regardless of consent between the couple. When two people are united in marriage, they become one flesh, and we are commanded not to separate what God has brought together (Matthew 19:6). No matter what name is used, when a married couple, either together or separately, invites another person into their marriage relationship, they’ve committed adultery. One of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), and Jesus equated looking with lust to adultery (Matthew 5:28). Proverbs says, “whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding; He who does so destroys his own soul,” and warns young men to steer far from the path of the adulterous woman (Proverbs 5). Hebrews is incredibly clear: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). Adultery is a sin, and the result is judgment from God.

Our Safe and Sure Foundation

As Christians, we must not be like our culture, which is being blown about and “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14). We can stand solidly on the unchanging Word of God and ground our morality in His perfectly good nature.

 

Will UC Berkeley Ban “Origin of Species”?

Origin of SpeciesA recent study revealed that in the 50 top universities in the U.S. (in the fields of psychology and biology), an amazing 61 percent of respondents described themselves as atheists or agnostics. It’s no wonder atheism has doubled in the last 20 years among 19-25 year olds. An entire generation has been (and is being) brainwashed by atheistic evolution, and it’s radically changing the culture of our nation.

In an effort to combat this, we produced a special 278-page full color cover edition of Origin of Species, which contains a 50-page introduction. This introduction gives the history of evolution, a timeline of Darwin’s life, Hitler’s undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin’s racism, his disdain for women, and his thoughts on the existence of God. It lists the theory’s many hoaxes, exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything, points to the incredible structure of DNA, and the absence of any species-to-species transitional forms.

It presents a balanced view of Creationism with information on scientists who believed that God created the universe–scientists such as Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Nicholas Copernicus, Francis Bacon, Michael Faraday, Louis Pasteur and Johannes Kepler. It uses many original graphics and “is for use in schools, colleges, and prestigious learning institutions.” The introduction also contains the entire contents of the popular booklet, “Why Christianity?” Over 30,000 of these books were pre-ordered, and we hope to go for a massive print in the near future. This is why:

November 24th 2009 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Origin of Species. On that day we will be taking a team to U.C. Berkeley and giving 1,000 copies of the book to students. Berkeley’s website says: “Anyone is free to distribute non-commercial materials in any outdoor area of the campus,” so there shouldn’t be a problem. Besides, what are they going to do–ban Origin of Species? That would be big news, especially when their own bookstore sells it for $29.99.

We want Christians around the country to do what we are doing at Berkeley on Nov. 24th–to give out 1,000 copies in each one of those top 50 universities. Imagine, 50,000 copies of these books suddenly flooding major learning institutions in one day!

When we get teams who commit to do a university, we will mark that particular one on www.OriginIntoSchools.com as being “covered,” until we have all 50 covered, along with contact details of how to get involved with each group.

The Alliance Defense Fund (1300 Christian lawyers who are on-call across the country) are working closely with us on this project. They will post each university’s free speech and literature distribution policies (in a downloadable format) on the OriginIntoSchools.com website. They will also provide information on Christian groups in each one, and immediate cell phone access to lawyers in that area.

We want to give away these books to our future politicians, doctors, lawyers, etc., while we still have the liberty to do so. Please seriously consider working with us.

The first print of the book arrived on Friday. In more than 30 years of ministry, we have never had so much trouble with delivery. Amazingly, five different freight companies let us down. We therefore had to delay our email Update about the arrival of the books.

When the shipment came, our fork-lift broke down as we wheeled it towards the truck (which had never happened before). When we tried to send out an Update saying the books had finally arrived, our website crashed and was down for an unprecedented 30 hours.

So if you are going to become involved in the front lines of fighting for this generation in this way, expect a battle (discouragement, hindrances, etc.). This is going to deal a powerful blow to the enemy, so keep in mind: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places…” Please keep us and yourselves in prayer.

To order a box of 40 books at 99 cents each (and the free poster), go to our webstore:

Singles copies are $4.99 each. Feel free to also call (800) 437-1893.

If you or your church wants to get 1000 copies into your local university on November 24th (at a cost of $990 plus shipping), or if you or your church would like to sponsor a university (pay for 1,000 copies for a team to give them out), send your email address and details to: origins@livingwaters.com.

Please tell your Christian friends about this project.

Order your books now and we will drop in the poster you see above at no cost.

Thank you.

Until the trumpet sounds,

Ray Comfort

https://www.livingwaters.com/articles/will-uc-berkeley-ban-origin-of-species