As part of Kuyper College's annual Faculty and Alumni Scholar Day, I'm giving a presentation based on my forthcoming article in the Trinity Journal on James Brownson's Bible Gender Sexuality. You can click on the images below to access the PowerPoint that accompanies the presentation.
I'm giving a presentation on Oct. 6, 2017, at the Kuyers Institute for Teaching and Learning Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.
Click on the images below to download the PowerPoint and resource handout from the presentation.
The recent Nashville Statement has provoked a lot of responses, including questions about whether I affirm it or not. My own position on marriage as between a man and woman is clear, and I’ve explained it in a variety of posts, both on this blog and other places. But as I read the statement, here are the questions I feel like I need clarified regarding the actual text of the document (there are other bigger questions worth asking as well, but I want to focus on the text of the articles of the statement here). These are not questions asked in hostility or out of the desire to be contrary but out of the desire for biblical and theological clarity and pastoral sensitivity. I realize that, for a lot of people, they support this Statement because they hear it saying "marriage is between a man and woman, and there is a difference between male and female." I get that, but I think it doesn't represent a close reading of the text. So here goes.
Article 1 states marriage is “lifelong.” How do evangelical churches currently approach divorce in theological and pastoral perspective, since the Statement declares that marriage is a covenant, not a contract? Does this statement allow for divorce? Under what conditions? Is that up for each church or pastor to decide? Does the church recognize the state’s granting of divorces, or does the church itself have to grant a divorce? If the former, why? If the latter, what’s the process for doing so?
Article 1 states marriage is “procreative.” What about couples who struggle with infertility or who are past the time of fertility? If marriage is “procreative,” what does this say about the use of contraception and voluntary sterilization? Does any use of these measures go against the statement, or not? If not, why not, when the purpose of marriage is at least partly procreative?
Article 4 talks about “divinely ordained differences” between male and female. What are those differences? Article 5 highlights different reproductive systems, but what else is meant by these differences? The main difference highlighted in the Danvers Statement, issued by the CBMW 30 years ago, sees the difference primarily as one of authority and leadership: men are leaders in the church and home, and women are meant to support and follow them. For someone like me, who DOES want to affirm male-female difference, but does not want to locate that difference in terms of leader/follower, head/subordinate, the Nashville Statement needs more clarity on what the male/female difference means once we get beyond biology. I think many who support a traditional view of marriage and gender distinction should be cautious about signing onto a statement that references difference without clarifying what is entailed or meant by that.
Article 5 affirms that differences between male and female reproductive structures are integral to God’s design for us as male and female. So any voluntary surgeries such as vasectomies and tubal ligation is out, right? Their goal is to close down and therefore distort those structures, so it would seem they are. How exactly are those kinds of surgeries different from gender reassignment surgeries? Are they different in kind or just degree? I’d like to hear an explanation of that.
Article 6 seems aimed at intersex people. But part of being intersex is that sex is often ambiguous, so what do you mean “they should embrace their biological sex insofar as it is known?” Known by whom? A doctor? A psychologist? A theology professor? Is it valid to push people to one end of the spectrum or another? Given the close link the Statement draws between biological sex and self-conception, wouldn’t it be more consistent to say that intersex people, especially those who don’t feel comfortable identifying strictly as male or female, should indeed identify as intersex, with the ambiguity that may entail, precisely because it is consistent with their biology?
Article 7 uses language of “self-conception.” Why doesn’t the statement use more common language, such as “identify as”? I’m not sure what is gained by this, and it leaves me asking more questions about what precisely is meant here. And again, what are “God’s holy purposes” for us as male and female? Does this mean, as in previous CBMW work, that men = leaders and women = supportive followers? (And, if that model is about men and women, not just husbands and wives, why doesn’t it apply to all of society, not just church and home?)
Article 7 seems to say that if you identify as same-sex attracted or transgender, you are out of line with God’s will. The issue here is complicated. There are plenty of Christians who identify as gay but are also committed to celibacy. Does identifying as “gay” entail an approval of same-sex marriage? It would seem not. Even for those who would see enduring same-sex attraction as a result of the fall, not part of God’s creational purposes, what is gained by refusing to acknowledge and name the reality of enduring, non-volitional same-sex attraction? Would that paradigm also refuse to use a term like “alcoholic,” claiming that alcoholism is not part of God’s creational or redemptive design, and therefore should be rejected as a self-identifier? Relatedly, I would like to know when the signers of the Nashville Statement officially embraced a “self-conception” of themselves as male or female. The dynamic of personal identity and sexuality seems far more complicated than this article makes out.
Article 9 basically says you can’t move from what is (“an enduring pattern of desire for sexual immorality”) to what ought to be (“justifies sexually immoral behavior”). How is that different from moving from what is (“biologically male or female”) to what ought to be (“a self-conception as male or female”)? I have my own answer, but the articles as written don’t really explain this, and it seems inconsistent as written.
Article 10 mentions “transgenderism.” What does that mean? Is this saying that gender dysphoria is not a real thing? Is this claiming that the Bible speaks as directly to the questions surrounding transgender persons as it does to same-sex sexual activity?
Is Article 11 aimed at pronoun usage? Does “speaking the truth in love” mean that I refuse someone’s pronoun request? Really? Can theological truth be pastorally nullified through insensitivity and being a jerk?
Does Article 13 represent an overly realized eschatology? In other words, is it realistic or right to assume that gender dysphoria will be increasingly “healed” in the present time? Having realized that a simplistic “pray the gay away” is not helpful for Christians who are same-sex attracted, are we now doing back to square one with those who are gender dysphoric?
A larger question about this document is: why are same-sex attraction/same-sex marriage, gender dysphoria, and intersex persons all lumped together and treated under largely the same rubric? I realize that this is common in our culture, as we speak of LGBTQI+. But it’s not biblically faithful, theologically astute, or pastorally helpful to assume that all of these questions about sexual identity, gender identity, and sexual behavior are equivalent.
Finally: WHY DIDN’T YOU LEAD WITH ARTICLES 12 AND 14? For people who want to be gospel-centered, it makes more sense to highlight God’s grace, which leads to a grateful, Spirit-empowered life. Jesus did not come to condemn the world, because it was already condemned, but to bring life. I’m sure it was not the intent, but this document feels more like legalism that divides into us and them than a testimony to the life-giving love (and sexual ethic!) of those who embrace a Jesus-following, Spirit-filled life. For me, it lacks the beauty and winsomeness that any explanation of Christian sexual ethics should have and therefore, even if it were completely clear and accurate in content, I wonder if it would fail in terms of form, or medium, and therefore fail to be a proper witness to Jesus.
Jamie Smith raises some good questions on his blog today, in particular about whether the traditional Christian view of marriage and sexuality should be called "orthodox" and its opponents labeled "heretics." It sounds like he's been reading someone who repeatedly connects "orthodox Christianity" with viewing marriage as between a man and woman. Smith notes that, historically, what is considered "orthodox" grows out of ecumenical councils and creeds, which attempted to clarify Scripture's teaching in the face of key questions about disputed matters of the day, such as the divinity of Jesus. Given that teaching on marriage and sex don't figure prominently in these ecumenical councils, he raises the question: is it really fair to call marriage between a man and woman the "orthodox" view? Isn't it more accurate to call it the "traditional" view?
I think the linguistic and theological observations and questions he raises are worth considering. But I'd propose that, rather than use the word "traditional" to describe marriage between a man and woman, it would be better to use the word "catholic," in the sense of "universal." Now, I know that there are some who would protest the use of the word "catholic" to describe the view that marriage is between a man and woman, pointing to the many Christians who now support same-sex marriage.
But here's why I think it's a better approach. For starters, most "orthodox" beliefs had to undergo the historical transition from "catholic" to "orthodox" beliefs. For example, the divinity of Jesus is affirmed in Scripture and practiced in the worship of the early church, from the New Testament on. But on Smith's terms, this belief wasn't "orthodox" until the Christological controversies of the 3rd and 4th centuries led to lengthy debates and creeds like that of Nicea and Constantinople. In other words, a "catholic" belief has to be challenged for it to take on the status of "orthodoxy."
This can help us think about our own historical moment and how we should talk about orthodoxy in relation to marriage and sexuality. Is it fair for someone to claim that Christians can hold any position on marriage, including affirming same-sex marriage, since there is no "orthodox" position on marriage? No (and Smith rightly points this out). Why? Because the creeds and confessions of the church were never meant to be exhaustive, stating everything or even everything essential that Christians should believe or practice. For that, we have Scripture, the only rule of faith and life for Christians.
But I do think what is happening now in North American culture is that our questions and controversies about marriage are causing it to move from a "catholic" issue to an "orthodox" issue. That is, there is no longer universal (catholic) agreement on marriage. This means that churches and denominations have to decide: how does Scripture speak to this and what must Christians say and do to be faithful to Scripture? We can't just rely on the fact that "it's always been this way," but we have to go to Scripture to articulate clearly why we believe and practice what we believe and practice.
Orthodoxy is what is produced as the church returns to Scripture by the power of the Spirit in the light of each age's challenges. All of this highlights the fact that "orthodoxy" is not merely a once-for-all set of tenets passed down from ages immemorial but a posture of engagement as we consider the questions and challenges of our day.
To my sisters and brothers at Fourth Reformed Church, the North Grand Rapids Classis, the Regional Synod of the Great Lakes, and the Reformed Church in America,
Grace and peace to you.
As the covenant people of God, we are called to make disciples of Jesus and bear witness to the kingdom of God. If we are going to make disciples, we have to teach those within the church what it means to follow Jesus in concrete ways. If we are to bear witness to God's kingdom, we must be able to explain to those outside the church why we live the way that we do.
In our time, there is great confusion both inside and outside the church about matters of marriage, family, and sexuality. In the broader culture, the sexual revolution continues to work itself out. In our churches, the sexual revolution unfolds as well, though at a slightly slower pace than the rest of the culture. This is a matter of great concern, for Scripture and the Reformed confessions clearly teach that being the people of God is not merely about beliefs in our heads but the daily practices of our bodies.
We have often failed, however, to articulate clearly and winsomely the biblical teaching on matters of sexual ethics. We have simply said "don't do it!" outside the context of marriage, without articulating the meaning of our bodies, of marriage, of singleness, or of children. No wonder that Christians and non-Christians alike struggle to make sense of Christian teaching and practice on these matters!
In light of this situation of confusion inside and outside the church, this catechism is offered as a basic teaching tool to help all members of Christ's body better understand the biblical teaching on marriage, family, and sexuality. It is not meant to be an exhaustive explanation of these complex issues but a succinct, clear foundation on which we can continue to build. It is also for the church. Though Scripture expresses God's will for all people, we recognize that we should not expect non-Christians to follow a path of discipleship (1 Cor. 5:9-10). Rather, we are called to preach the gospel of grace and live lives marked by the good works that flow from gratitude.
This catechism is entitled the "Great Lakes Catechism" because it was developed as a resource and teaching tool at the encouragement of the Executive Committee of the Synod of the Great Lakes. It is my hope and prayer that it will serve the church well.
Dr. Branson Parler
President, Regional Synod of the Great Lakes
Click here if you'd like to access a PDF document of the Catechism
1 Q: Is human sexuality a good thing or not?
A: It is good! We see in Scripture that God created us male and female as part of the creation order,
that our sexuality is an inherent part of being human,
and that our sexuality is part of what God calls “very good” in the beginning.
Moreover, God created man and woman as full partners,
together bearing God’s image
and together receiving God’s blessing and call to
“Be fruitful and increase in number;
fill the earth, and subdue it.
rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky
and over every living creature that lives on the ground.”
2 Q: But isn’t the body or the “flesh” the root cause of our sin and temptation?
A: Certainly not! Our sin problem is not ultimately a body or sex problem;
it is a heart problem--
we do not desire God as we should
and so we desire other things in a way we should not.
3 Q: May we then look to our bodies and sexual desires to learn what is right?
A: No. Our expressions of sexuality are distorted and twisted by sin.
Sin warps us in many ways,
including our desires, thoughts, and actions pertaining to our sexuality.
Because our sexuality is affected by the fall,
we should not act on our desires, inclinations, or thoughts
without first testing them by what Scripture teaches is honorable, right, pure, and lovely.
4 Q: So Scripture is the source from which we learn what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in our sexual lives?
A: Yes. Scripture is the infallible rule for our lives.
This means that we look to it to understand
who God is and who we are called to be as God’s people.
In this world, we are called to test all teaching about marriage and sexuality
and we must not put human writings,
custom or tradition,
the majority opinion,
the thinking of our own time and place,
or even past decisions of the church,
above the truth of God,
For God’s truth is above everything.
5 Q: Who should we consider our family?
A: Though many may consider their biological family their first family,
Jesus teaches us that those who are his disciples,
who are united by one Lord and one baptism into God’s covenant people,
should be considered our primary family.
6 Q: Does this mean our earthly families are unimportant?
A: No. In fact, Scripture teaches us that we are to honor our parents,
and that we should faithfully love our spouses and children.
Nevertheless, we are called to seek first the kingdom of God.
God’s mission and vocation must shape all my relationships.
Though earthly families are good and a blessing,
they may become an idol if we make them our ultimate priority or loyalty.
All earthly loyalties and obligations,
including those of family,
must be subject to the lordship of Jesus.
7 Q: Since marriage and family are good, is it necessary to be married?
A: No. During his earthly ministry,
Jesus showed us that true human fulfillment does not need to include marriage or sex.
Yet, the life of Jesus most certainly included close, intimate relationships
with those he called family.
8 Q: But why do many people in my church expect young adults to get married and raise a family?
A: The goal for all Christians is not marriage,
but, whether married or single,
to live decent and chaste lives.
In the beginning, God blessed marriage and he calls many Christians
to live out their discipleship in the context of marriage.
Nevertheless, Christians sometimes idolize marriage and family
and promote the unbiblical teaching
that a person can only find fulfillment and happiness
in the context of a marriage and family.
However, this expectation is contrary to Scripture,
which teaches that many Christians will be unmarried,
whether through choice or circumstance,
and that they live a true, fully human life,
as our Savior did.
9 Q: How then should we view the single, celibate life?
A: Singleness can serve as a sign and reminder to married people
that our most basic calling is to seek first the kingdom of God,
not our earthly families.
In addition, the single person’s life points us ahead to the life to come,
when we will neither marry nor be given in marriage.
10 Q: Why did God institute marriage between man and woman?
A: Though many see marriage simply as
a path to personal fulfillment, happiness, or self-realization,
or a relationship that may be dissolved if they are dissatisfied,
Scripture teaches that God instituted marriage between a man and woman
as a sign of Christ and the church,
as a state of mutual help for life’s journey,
as a relationship in which married Christians are sanctified,
and in order to provide for the continuation of the human race
and the raising of children into a life of faith in Jesus Christ.
11 Q: Should we view the duties and obligations of marriage and family as a hindrance to the truly spiritual life?
A: No. When properly understood, we see that
faithful devotion to one’s spouse
and faithful care of one’s children
are not merely ‘earthly’ or ‘natural’ matters
but are in fact key elements of a faithful walk with Christ.
Furthermore, the married person is a sign and reminder to single people that,
just as a husband or wife has obligations to their spouse and family,
so we all have obligations to the family of God.
12 Q: What is the meaning of sexual union?
A: God created man and woman to be able to unite not only our bodies,
but our very lives and selves as husband and wife.
In marriage, husbands and wives give themselves completely to one another,
and the one-flesh sexual union embodies the fact
that these two persons are no longer two, but one flesh.
13 Q: But isn’t sexual union just a physical act?
A: No. It is certainly more than that.
In fact, when we reduce sex to a merely physical or biological act,
we end up reducing other image-bearers of God
to mere objects to be used.
We see this abuse and hatred of our neighbor all around us,
cohabitation apart from marriage,
and sexual union outside of the covenant of marriage.
14 Q: How, then, should we understand sexual union?
A: Sexual union is a part of the total giving of oneself--
body and soul, indeed one’s whole self--
to one’s spouse,
just as God in Christ gave himself completely to his bride, the Church.
And just as God is a faithful God who gives himself to us in covenant,
so sexual union is a covenantal act
that commits one to faithful, lifelong love to one’s spouse.
Sexual union is also meant to be a free act, entered into without coercion,
but freely and graciously,
as God in Christ freely and graciously loves us.
And finally, God created husband and wife so that
they fruitfully participate in the miracle of new life.
Just as God’s life and creativity brought us forth,
so children are not to be seen as a nuisance or impediment
to the marriage relationship
but as gifts of God,
disciples to be raised in the training and instruction of the Lord.
15 Q: Does Scripture limit marriage and sexual union to a husband and wife?
A: Scripture consistently teaches that the difference
between a woman and man in marriage is essential
to properly represent, symbolically, Christ and the church,
to the one-flesh act of sexual union
and one-flesh relationship of covenantal marriage,
and for the bringing of children into the world.
In Scripture, bodies matter.
We are saved by the body of Christ, broken for us,
and his blood, shed for our sins.
Without Christ’s body, we cannot be saved.
Furthermore, in the sacraments, we see that the material elements matter.
God does not merely give us grace through invisible means
but gives us visible signs and seals,
which are not empty and hollow signs
but which have their truth in Jesus Christ,
without whom they would be nothing.
In a similar way, bodies matter in marriage,
which is defined in part by the sexual difference
of male and female, who together—body and soul—bear the image of God
and symbolize Christ and the church.
Thus, marriage is not defined merely by the will or desire of any individual
but by the recognition that our Creator and Redeemer God has instituted marriage
to take a certain form, with certain kinds of bodies:
“A man leaves his father and mother
and is united to his wife,
and they become one flesh.”
16 Q: Does Scripture really condemn all same-sex sexual activity?
A: Yes. Scripture consistently and categorically
condemns sexual activity between persons of the same sex as immoral.
Genesis 1-2 presents the male-female relationship as God’s design for marriage.
The Torah given by God to Israel teaches that same-sex sexual activity is wrong.
Jesus re-affirms the teaching of Genesis on marriage,
that marriage is between a man and woman.
The early church condemns same-sex sexual activity
when they condemn “sexual immorality,”
a term that points back to Leviticus 18 and encompasses
all forms of sexual sin,
and the New Testament writers re-affirm the sexual ethics of Torah,
including specific condemnations of incest, adultery, and same-sex sexual activity.
17 Q: Does the Bible especially condemn same-sex sexual activity above other sins, sexual or otherwise?
A: No. Scripture never singles out same-sex sexual activity
as a worse sin than others.
18 Q: What should characterize our attitudes and actions toward those who are same-sex attracted, whether inside or outside the church?
We must first remember that there is a difference between being same-sex attracted,
and acting sexually on that attraction.
Just as there is a difference between being attracted to people of the opposite sex,
And acting sexually on that attraction.
Furthermore, though Scripture condemns sexual sin, it also condemns
all forms of mockery,
degrading words and thoughts,
abuse, threats, and violence
against anyone based on their sexual identity or activity.
Anyone involved in such behavior must repent
and walk in obedience to Jesus’ command to love.
19 Q: What about those who fail to keep fully Scripture’s teaching on marriage and sexuality? How should we view them?
A: We must first remember that “they” are us! 
We are all sinners
saved by God’s extravagant grace.
We must therefore see all people with the eyes of Jesus,
who looks on us with compassion.
We must also remember that we should not expect people who are not disciples of Jesus
to act as though they are.
Indeed, Scripture teaches us that we should expect to interact and associate
with those who are idolaters and sexually immoral
as part of our daily life in this world.
But as disciples of Jesus, we are also called
to teach, rebuke, correct, and even discipline one another,
for we know that without discipline,
we dare not call ourselves the church of Jesus Christ.
And we do not love one another in this way merely
for the sake of following the rules or keeping human traditions
but because God’s life-giving Spirit empowers and equips us
for a life of faith and gratitude,
for which we were made and to which we are called.
 Gen. 1:31
 Gen. 1:27
 Gen. 1:28
 Jer. 17:9; James 1:14-15
 Phil. 4:8
 Belgic Confession, art. 7.
 Belgic Confession, art. 7.
 Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1.
 Eph. 5:21-6:4
 Matt. 6:33; Matt. 12:46-50.
 Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 108.
 1 Cor. 7:29-40.
 1 Cor. 7:33-35; Matt. 6:33.
 Matt. 22:30
 Eph. 5:31-32
 Gen. 2:18
 John 13:34; Gal. 5:13; Phil. 2:3; Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 5:5; 1 Cor. 7:4-5; Gal. 6:2; 1 Thess. 5:11.
 Gen. 1:28; Ps. 127:3
 Deut. 6:4-9
 Eph. 5:21-6:4
 Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5; Mark 10:7-8; 1 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 5:31
 Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 5.
 Phil. 2:5-8;
 Ex. 34:6-7.
 Mal. 2:16.
 Rom. 8:32.
 Gen. 1:28; Ps. 139:13-14
 Gen. 2:4-7, 18-22; Job 10:8-9.
 Ps. 127:3-5; Gen. 21:1; Gen. 30:22; 1 Sam. 1:19; Ps. 139:13-14
 Eph. 6:1-4; Deut. 6:4-9.
 Belgic Confession, art. 33.
 Gen. 2:24
 Lev. 18:22
 Matt. 19:1-10
 Acts 15:19-20
 1 Cor. 5:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:9-20; 1 Tim. 1:10
 Belhar Confession, art. 4. Luke 6:31; Lev. 9:9-18; Prov. 6:16-19.
 Romans 2:1-4
 1 Cor. 5:9-10
 Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:11-13; 2 Cor. 2:5-11.
 Belgic Confession, art. 29.
 Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32 & 33.
In my role as Director of Faith Formation at Fourth Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI, I recently drew up the following to help our Sunday School teachers and other youth workers navigate the conversations that sometimes arise as kids try to make sense of our world. I thought I'd share it here in hopes that other churches or organizations might find it useful.
Keep in mind…
Some stock phrases…
This past weekend a friend wrote to me to ask whether I thought Christians were missing the gospel in the midst of the political climate right now. Here's part of what I wrote back:
I think many Christians (probably including myself) are missing it to the extent that we get sucked into treating any earthly kingdom as though the kingdom of God depends upon it. Christians--liberals and conservatives alike--assume that what God is doing in the world depends on having the right person or people in the proper seat of power, when our own faith should teach us that the only person that matters is King Jesus, seated at the right hand of the Father.
When we take our eyes off him, we end up assuming that it's our job to make the world turn out right, so we end up elated when our candidate ends up as President and end up in despair when our candidate doesn't win.
We've tied our identities and hopes to nations, to political parties within nations, to movements, rather than to the kingdom which will not be moved and the city which will not be shaken, whose founder and builder is God.
And when we tie our identities to anything other than Jesus, we turn ugly. We think it's about us. We move from treating others as neighbors to be engaged and turn them into enemies to be defeated. When we take our eyes off God's grace, we end up treating people as we think they deserve, rather than acting toward them as God acted toward us--gracious, patient, and truthful.
Christians have for too long been driven by a lust for political power, which is one reason why progressive Christians lauded Pres. Obama and conservative Christians attacked him at every turn, and why now that the actors have changed, the game goes on. We need to stop hating the players, and starting hating the game of marrying Christianity with our nation and/or our political party.
Seek first the kingdom of God.
Realize that our job isn't to run the nation or make the world a better place by seeking political power.
Realize that the church, not America, is the beloved community.
We're called to bear witness to God's kingdom together, as God's people, by proclaiming the truth about King Jesus and, by God's help,loving each other as Christ loved us. If that's not our main focus, then we're definitely missing it. And, God help us, I think many of us are.
Every year, Kuyper College has an annual Faculty and Alumni Scholar Day, where faculty and alumni give presentations based on scholarly work they've done. In April, Calvin Theological Journal published an article I wrote entitled, "Hair Length and Human Sexuality: The Underlying Moral Logic of Paul's Appeal to Nature in 1 Corinthians 11:14." You can find the article here or you can watch the video below, which is a summary of key points from the article. I thoroughly enjoyed researching this article, as it brought together several strands of teaching and research interests, including hermeneutics, ancient philosophy, and sexual ethics. And although the question of the morality of hair length for men and women may not be much of an issue in many Christian circles, the question of how to understand "nature" and Paul's use of it in 1 Corinthians 11 and Romans 1 is directly connected to current discussions of same-sex relationships.
One of the things I'm passionate about is biblical interpretation. I want Christians to dig into Scripture and to not only understand what they believe but why they believe it.
I'm also passionate about Christians having good conversations when they disagree about how to interpret the Bible. Rather than just stand in different camps and lob theological grenades at each other, I want people to understand why and how others came to different conclusions. This is not just a matter of nice manners. Rather, fair-mindedness, humility, and love for truth are Christian essentials.
Over the past several years, I've also been drawn to the research area of marriage, family, and sexuality. Needless to say, this is an area where both biblical interpretation and the skill of good dialogue come into play. The denomination I am part of, the Reformed Church in America, has people in it who disagree on how to interpret and apply what the Bible says about same-sex marriage.
To help facilitate discussion and clarity on that particular issue, I've developed a series of twelve short videos and discussion questions that could be used by individuals or groups. You'll find this resource on my website under "The Bible and Human Sexuality" tab above.
The first four videos discuss basics of biblical interpretation and how to think about the task of process of interpreting the Bible. For many Christians, it's something we do all the time, but precisely for that reason is something we just do without always thinking about why we do what we do.The second section of videos walks through an affirming interpretation of Scripture--that Scripture does not in fact prohibit loving, same-sex relationships, while the third section of videos walks through the historic interpretation of Scripture--that marriage is for a man and woman. The final video asks some questions of consistency and coherency of both sides of this discussion as we place our views of same-sex marriage in the context of broader questions about marriage, family, and sexuality.
My hope and prayer is that this resource will further equip Christians as we seek to understand Scripture and God's call on our life today.
It's no secret the god of sports reigns over many realms of our culture, including youth culture. In fact, pastors identified it as a key cause in declining church attendance. In a region of the country that has many Christian schools, it makes me wonder: what makes them Christian? Their beliefs? Their practices?
If the sports schedules of Christian schools demand just as much (maybe more!) time, energy, and effort from high school students on down, then what's the difference between them and our broader sports-obsessed culture? In our words, we may proclaim the priority of God's kingdom, but if the actual practice and liturgy of sports places sports on a higher pedestal than our commitment to the practice and liturgy of the church, it's pretty clear what our Christian schools are teaching. And it's not Christianity.
About the blog
My thoughts on how following Jesus calls us to go with the grain of the universe and against the grain of the world. I love the Bible, theology, and philosophy and how they intersect with just about anything else.