- 2016Jan 08
Now that homosexual ersatzimony has become the law of the land, people who were opposed to the social contrivance in principle, will have to decide whether they will continue to oppose it in practice.
There are Christians of my acquaintance who are against the legalization of same-sex "marriage" and concerned about religious liberty, but cannot see how their attendance at a gay friend's wedding would undermine those values and their Christian witness. Quite the opposite, they believe that declining the invitation would be hurtful to their friend, damaging to the friendship, and contrary to the ethic of Christian love.
Preparing for the day
Although homosexuality affects only about two percent of the population, most people know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who is gay or lesbian. I know several, as probably do most of you. As more decide to take advantage of the social and financial benefits of marriage, the chance that we will be invited to a ceremony, whether by a coworker, friend, cousin, son, or daughter, becomes increasingly likely. Before the invitation hits our mail box, it is essential for Christians to think through our response by asking ourselves,
- What do I really believe about same-sex "marriage" and its validity?
- What would my attendance signify?
- What effect(s) would my attendance have?
- How can I best support a gay friend or family member who decides to "marry"?
- What would Jesus do?
Continue reading here.
- 2015Dec 12
In the days prior to Vatican II, I was a seven-year-old convert to Catholicism, being catechized along with the rest of my second-grade classmates in preparation for First Communion.
For weeks, Sister Mariella had been schooling us about the Sacrament and how we were to receive it. Most of her instruction was in making certain her little catechumens knew that the communion wafer, upon consecration by the priest, was turned into Jesus incarnate, and that to receive it faithfully we had to be clean, spiritually, by Confession—preferably on Saturday evening—and physically, by fasting from midnight the night before.
Sister was very specific that under no circumstances were we to touch it. Rather, when the priest placed the host on our tongue, we were to let it moisten there for just a moment, then swallow it immediately, so as not to let it come in contact with our plaque-covered teeth.
So you can imagine my horror when, after receiving communion in my white suit and white buckskin shoes, I returned to the pew with my other classmates, knelt, and with hands folded, caught, in the corner of my eye, the classmate next to me, rapt in wonderment as he gazed at the host he had just plucked out of his mouth. I was certain that the earth would open up and swallow us all down into the deepest reaches of hell.
It didn’t. But, as I think back, I don’t recall seeing that little fella again.
Well, that was a long time ago. In the years hence, my faith journey has taken me from Catholicism to Seventh Day Adventism to Anglicanism. Along the way, I learned that there are widely varying views about the Lord’s Supper and what Jesus meant when he broke bread and gave it to his disciples, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
The differences center on whether the Lord’s Supper is a symbolic ritual for our remembrance, a sacramental ordinance for our spiritual nourishment, both, or something else, and whether the communion elements of bread and wine are symbols of His body and blood, material substances physically transmuted into His body and blood, hosts for His actual presence, hosts for His spiritual presence, or something else.
As discussed in Part 1, when Jesus concluded His “bread of life” discourse in John 6, He said that the words He had been speaking “are spirit and they are life.” It indicated that His teaching on “eating and drinking” was not about consuming Him physically, symbolically, or ceremonially but about experiencing intimacy with Him by trusting in Him as Savior and feeding on His Word.
So how does that apply to the Lord’s Supper and how we observe it today? Read more.
- 2015Oct 16
It was the strangest of exchanges, the prepared remarks of President Obama and Pope Francis on the South Lawn of the White House.
One man referenced Scripture and the Good News; he highlighted the ministry of the Catholic church to the homeless and poor, spoke about the persecution of believers around the world, and called for the defense of religious freedom. The other man, after the usual salutations, made a passing reference to religious liberty, and then spent the rest of his podium time talking about environmental emissions and climate change.
If you think the former was the pontiff and the latter the president, you would be wrong. It was if, after shaking hands, the leader of the free world and the spiritual leader of 1 billion Catholics swapped speaking notes.
What the president said
“Here in the United States,” the president assured Francis, “we cherish religious liberty. . . . We stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.”
I wonder what Kim Davis would say about that? Or the photographer who declined to shoot a same-sex wedding and was told by a federal judge that ignoring one’s religious beliefs is “the price of citizenship?” Or the Little Sisters of the Poor who, along with over 100 other religious groups and institutions, are embroiled in a legal battle over the Affordable Care Act, with its requirements to provide insurance for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs against their religious beliefs? Or an administration that has been busily advancing the president’s “freedom of worship” rhetoric with dozens of actions, including the following:
- Supporting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that interferes with the right of religious employers to choose their employees.
- Arguing, in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, that the government can interfere in decisions about who can serve as a minister in religious organizations and churches.
- Overturning HHS conscience exemptions for healthcare workers opposed to participating in abortions and other activities against their religious convictions.
- Repealing the military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with no conscience exceptions for military chaplains.
- Revoking a grant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for combating sex trafficking because of their objections to abortion.
The president also acknowledged that “around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith.”
Including Christians? The world’s oldest Christian communities in the very cradle of the faith are disappearing at the hands of Islamic terrorists. Many of the atrocities committed by ISIS and other jihadist groups involve Christians, and only Christians, as in the one claiming the lives of 140 Christian college students in Kenya.
In sentiments that could have issued from the lips of the late Mother Teresa, Obama spoke of our duty to care for the “least of these” and the “powerless and defenseless.” However, the least of the least and the most powerless, defenseless, and voiceless of all are the unborn, a people group that has received little concern or compassion from the current administration.
In whole, the speech was downright Orwellian, as if it were the work of some Minister of Information intent on papering over seven years of history with 1000 words of rhetoric. The president then turned the podium over to Pope Francis. Read more.