These stories ran in conjunction on NPR. While no great surprise, the trend is disturbing and it needs to be watched. The spirit of compromise is in the air and the level of defection and capitulation on this point is disturbing.
Consequently the rise in political activism and what will likely become a militant and violent opposition is also disconcerting and problematic.
We are called to bear witness and suffer the consequences. We need to show social tolerance and charity and yet be absolute in terms of the moral issue and where to draw lines in terms of the Church.
There is a great deal of confusion and divided allegiances, and this is not helping Christians develop discernment on these issues or how to deal with them.
Mohler wants to argue for a universally binding morality. This point is crucial and yet totally misunderstood by the majority of Christians. In the Old Testament the nations are not held to the same account as the covenant people. They are castigated for sins like murder, theft and idolatry and certainly even their deviance. And yet, the context of the condemnation is of a different type and order than the obligations and hence condemnation that falls upon the covenant people.
In the Old Testament, the nations are not condemned for failing to keep Sabbath or offer sacrifice. In fact apart from the covenant they cannot do these things. They are still guilty of failing to properly worship God. We might even say they are guilty for failing to keep Sabbath and offer sacrifices, for refusing to submit the revealed will embodied in Old Covenant Israel.
And yet, a discussion along those lines is almost pointless because there's a line that first must be crossed. The line is repentance and faith and these are gifts granted by the Holy Spirit. Choices that have to be made but the fact that someone would even entertain the message let alone respond to it is due to the work of God within their hearts.
The bar for the unbeliever is in a sense lowered. They are guilty and fall under condemnation. Let's be clear about that. But the expectation (from our perspective) is also not very high. As Paul says, what have we to do with judging those who are outside, God will judge them. Their problems won't be solved by changing their behaviour, by reforming their habits, by constraining themselves from certain actions. Their problem is in their hearts and that can only be remedied by Divine action, the transformative work and power of the Holy Spirit.
Yes, there is a universally binding morality. God establishes it and everyone must face the consequences of disobedience. Hence, the good news found in the person and work of Christ. We are free from the condemnation and given a newness of life that contrary to our sinful nature, our flesh, desires to serve God. And thus we are in a process of sanctification and mortification as that salvation is being worked out and applied to our lives.
Is this morality universal in terms of society?
That question must be answered differently.
The world cannot follow God's commands. The commands are foolishness to them. They are in a state of enmity with God. Their inability does not excuse them but at the same time we (as Christians) do not expect them to behave as those who live in the Spirit. Our message to the world is repent and believe. Their problem is a lack of faith in Christ. Only once that line is crossed, can they even begin to have an understanding of the basis of morality. They must grasp their guilt and be broken to the point of repentance. The Spirit does that through the application of the Word. The state cannot do this through legislation.
This is what is meant by the notion that we can't legislate morality. On the one hand it's a foolish statement. All laws are rooted in moral judgments. And some people who argue this way are indeed shallow in their thinking. But another level there are those who make such statements that are speaking a degree of truth. What they're saying is that morality is actually an issue of the heart and motive. You can legislate behaviour but the state cannot change the nature and desires of the heart.
As Christians we're thankful for the existence of the imperfect and often wicked state that restricts some wickedness and yet the state cannot in any way contribute to the real problem... the sinful nature of the human heart. An imperfect and flawed state is the best we can hope for. In God's Providence even though the state serves its own purposes and legislates and utilises violence for its own idolatrous aims and goals, it's better to have it than to live in its absence. That's not a popular teaching right now in some Evangelical circles but it's Biblical doctrine.
Many Christians have been caught up in the power game and others have been seduced by a sub-Christian philosophical framework that elevates an Enlightenment view of man and concepts like 'rights' and 'liberty'. Both are fatally flawed and contrary to Scripture.
When we wed Christian morality to the state we now say repent and believe or face violence. The state is the instrument of vengeance a necessity for the fallen world but not wedded to the Christian mission. Fines, imprisonments, even threat of job loss or eviction or all forms of implicit or explicit violence. They are threats of physical constraint, removal or consequence.
There is no point in working to legislate against homosexuality. It is a grave error to marshal the powers of the state in the name of Christ in order to bring down the law and its vengeance upon those who reject Christian morality.
The state, the pagan state with all its imperfections and corruptions will in most cases limit the most egregious forms of sin. Even fallen man knows that lying, theft and murder are wrong and every state has laws against these practices. That said, the state because of the corrupting nature of power and the sinfulness of the world will also engage in these very practices against its own citizens and the rest of the world. We cannot expect otherwise. We simply hope and pray for a semi-decent state under which to live. If not, we bear witness and suffer the consequences or we can always attempt to leave.
If we try to take it over and appropriate it to the confines of the Kingdom of God then we simply end up corrupting the Kingdom of God and invite moral and doctrinal cancer within the Church. The Church is quickly subverted by the Consequentialist ethics of power and the notions of wealth and property that are necessarily wed to it.
Homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, reversal of creation and the moral order established by God. It's a sign of Divine Judgment on a culture when this behaviour becomes normalised, let alone celebrated.
For those that understand what America is, that it is not a Christian country, it never has been and never can be...for the very category itself is a fallacy, then we see this Empire through different eyes. We see it as a covetous and murderous Beast, a great lie and a great evil. Just like Rome, Babylon and Persia, it doesn't necessarily mean it's the most awful place to inhabit but there are dangerous temptations and potential entanglements.
The fact that America has fallen under Judgment and is being handed over to reprobation is hardly a great shock. It's reaping what it sowed. The American Church blinded by its heresy and largely given over to apostasy cannot grasp this or even begin to analyse the situation in Biblical terms. They scapegoat political enemies and social rivals and yet in truth it is the very system they have championed that has led to this present state. Rooted in greed, covetousness and self-indulgence it has generated the present decadence and its telos... the demonic reversal of creation and the utter destruction of the imago Dei, the image of God in man, the spirit and the conscience.
These NPR articles demonstrate the worldliness of American Evangelicalism and the futility of trying to fight the culture war while your own foundation is crumbling.
The Evangelical movement born of worldly synthesis and the desire for approbation, endorsement and power cannot bring itself to follow the Scriptural injunction to live as a pilgrim people. They will either fight to death in order to recapture the idol America or they will capitulate in order to stay within the graces of the society they have idealised, even deified.
Evangelicalism is apostate and over the next generation we're going to see a rapid transformation.
I believe we will see violence and militia movements and we will also see Christians simply sell out and give in.
Both options are abhorrent and must be rejected.
Soon it will become commonplace, even social orthodoxy to view Jesus as a homosexual. Sodomites like those in these articles will be elevated as moral exemplars that display Christian virtue. Their sensitivity and gentility will be lauded and contrasted with the brutish violence of the 'Christian' Fascist movements that are already flourishing.
And once again both extremes represent serious deviations from any notion of Biblical Christianity.
The faithful are going to be feeling very lonely indeed. We're just about there.
Mohler though viewed as a theologically conservative stalwart is morally compromised in his views of power. Sacralism has skewed his ethics and even his veneer begins to crack. He can't help but desire some form of social respectability and influence. It's in his theological DNA as it were.
He appeals to 1 Cor 6 but fails to note 'were'. Such were some of you. Perhaps some are born with some kind of genetic disposition to certain behaviours. The science is ambiguous and necessarily reductionist. Genetics cannot explain the consciousness, individuation, personality or a host of other concepts that make us human beings. But even geneticists will admit environment (and thus behaviour) plays a significant part in generating the person.
Biology is not destiny. Even secular materialists in all their short-sightedness and minimalist understanding of existence are starting to understand this.
By legitimating homosexuality as a permanent genetic disposition, you've lost the battle. You can say that people ought not but if it's understood as intrinsic then it's hard for people to grasp the moral imperative in acting against one's nature. It becomes an issue akin to asking someone to change the colour of their skin. Such an expectation is itself immoral.
The truth is that either it's not a 'nature' to begin with or that in fact the Holy Spirit can transform the sinful nature and in Christ believers are given a new nature.
The Christians Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 'were' of that disposition and behaviour category. It's past tense.
Should Christians counsel homosexuals to change their orientation?
This is muddied by concepts like 'orientations', 'identity' let alone 'counseling'. Christian counseling, a worldly synthesis if there ever was one has largely destroyed the ability to apply Scripture to specific situations. It is another rotten fruit harvested from the tree of Evangelicalism.
Homosexuals don't need to be counseled in some kind of cognitive behavioural or Freudian sense. They need to be broken in spirit and told to repent and believe... belief being something more than mere assent. Trust and the transformative power of the Spirit can deliver them from the temptations and the behaviour. They will be given the will to repent and turn from the road of death by trusting in the completed and fully sufficient work of Christ the Risen Saviour. Will they struggle? Of course. We all struggle with sin.
The whole controversy of Christian Counseling is moot. They're speaking of a category of counseling completely outside of Biblical notions of pastoral guidance. Modern counseling is a rejection of Scriptural Sufficiency and has largely supplanted it. The Evangelical Church has sold out on this point and adopted the categories of the world.
Christian Counselors operating in the world and counseling lost people apart from explicit Biblical doctrine and the Gospel message is an abnegation of Scripture and an absurdity.
Homosexual people that wish to enter the Church and follow Christ must be exhorted to repent of their sins. Yes, an elder or fellow Christian can help them work through this, wrestle with temptation, develop new ways of thinking, new habits of thinking and in time they can overcome this sin and leave it behind.
A 'Gay Christian' is an oxymoron. The adjective or qualifier attached to the term Christian changes and in fact distorts the very meaning of the term.
We ought not to identify with anything other than being Christian. We don't identify with social movements, heritage, race or anything along those lines. These are things we must leave behind and count as dung.
Sinful behaviours all the more fall under this category. Telling someone they can be a Christian while still identifying as gay...even if they're celibate, is a rejection of the New Testament Gospel message.
We are moving toward a Scientific Technocracy rooted in Materialism. And yet it's wedded to a strange Postmodernism that is rapidly moving toward a type of Idealism. Both camps can embrace forms of Transhumanism and this seems to be the nexus at which they are wed. The foundations of a new religion and civilisation are being laid. Its roots and claims are as blasphemous as that of Babel. They are building a tower to heaven, the gate of God, the axis to eternity and eternality and yet the god they seek is a deception. They look within, they look for an Absolute in a type of evolving quasi-pantheistic Singularity. It will certainly collapse and maybe much sooner than they think.
However the period prior to complete dissolution is likely to be terrible as will the fallout and legacy. If Christ does not return a new Dark Ages will likely be upon us. As Christians, living under Clovis is probably better than living under Theodosius. Every scenario has it detriments as well as its opportunities.
But for the present, lines are being drawn and the level of compromise is already shocking. If the choice is acceptance and submission to the culture or violent resistance and a theology of covetousness and power then it's time to think in different terms regarding the Church.