Monday, July 22, 2019

Neuroscience & The Soul: Why Should Christians Be Concerned About The Existence Of The Soul? (Part 1)


            We are souls with a body; not the other way around, says Christian apologist J.P Moreland in his YouTube interview about Neuroscience and the Soul.1

            If you are a thinking Christian, it is essential to understand the conflict between science and religion with respect to the existence of the soul and the findings of modern science.

            Why?

            If neuroscience proves that soul does not exist, then it’s quite possible that Historic Christianity would be on shaky ground. The assault on the existence of the soul is both from outside Christianity and from within.

            In the year 2009, cognitive neuroscientist Martha J. Farah and Nancey Murphy, a Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary published their letter entitled Neuroscience and the Soul in the journal Science (Vol. 323. no. 5918, p. 1168). The crux of their letter is to emphasize that neuroscience is slowly yet surely advancing in disputing the existence of the soul. Here’s their letter:2

Neuroscience and the Soul

Science and religion have had a long relationship, by turns collegial and adversarial. In the 17th century Galileo ran afoul of the Church's geocentrism, and in the 19th century Darwin challenged the biblical account of creation. The breaches that open at such times often close again, as religions determine that the doctrine in question is not an essential part of faith. This is precisely what happened with geocentrism and, outside of certain American fundamentalist Christian sects, evolution.
A new challenge to the science-religion relationship is currently at hand. We hope that, with careful consideration by scientists and theologians, it will not become the latest front in what some have called the "culture war" between science and religion. The challenge comes from neuroscience and concerns our understanding of human nature.
Most religions endorse the idea of a soul (or spirit) that is distinct from the physical body. Yet as neuroscience advances, it increasingly seems that all aspects of a person can be explained by the functioning of a material system. This first became clear in the realms of motor control and perception (1, 2). Yet, models of perceptual and motor capacities such as color vision and gait do not directly threaten the idea of the soul. You can still believe in what Gilbert Ryle called "the ghost in the machine" (3) and simply conclude that color vision and gait are features of the machine rather than the ghost.
However, as neuroscience begins to reveal the mechanisms underlying personality, love, morality, and spirituality, the idea of a ghost in the machine becomes strained. Brain imaging indicates that all of these traits have physical correlates in brain function. Furthermore, pharmacologic influences on these traits, as well as the effects of localized stimulation or damage, demonstrate that the brain processes in question are not mere correlates but are the physical bases of these central aspects of our personhood. If these aspects of the person are all features of the machine, why have a ghost at all?
By raising questions like this, it seems likely that neuroscience will pose a far more fundamental challenge than evolutionary biology to many religions. Predictably, then, some theologians and even neuroscientists are resisting the implications of modern cognitive and affective neuroscience. "Nonmaterialist neuroscience" has joined "intelligent design" as an alternative interpretation of scientific data (4). This work is counterproductive, however, in that it ignores what most scholars of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures now understand about biblical views of human nature. These views were physicalist, and body-soul dualism entered Christian thought around a century after Jesus' day (5, 6).
To be sure, dualism is intuitively compelling. Yet science often requires us to reject otherwise plausible beliefs in the face of evidence to the contrary. A full understanding of why Earth orbits the Sun (as a consequence of the way the solar system was formed) took another century after Galileo's time to develop. It may take even longer to understand why certain material systems give rise to consciousness. In the meantime, just as Galileo's view of Earth in the heavens did not render our world any less precious or beautiful, neither does the physicalism of neuroscience detract from the value or meaning of human life.
            What is the classic Christian understanding of the soul?

            J.P Moreland offers a fundamental explanation: The Bible teaches that our soul leaves the body when we die and enters an intermediate state between death and final resurrection. During the final resurrection, we will receive a glorified body to be reembodied again.3 

            In the same video, he explains why Christians should be concerned about this topic:

            (1) Over the last two decades or so, some neuroscientists are striving to do away with the concept of the soul.

            (2) They argue that we are not anything more than our brain. They contend that our consciousness is generated by the brain and that consciousness resides in the brain.

            (3) But a classic Christian understanding would be that the consciousness resides in the soul and with a deep integration and causal connection with the brain.

            (4) Hence, Christians should be concerned about the soul’s existence so to be able to interpret the modern findings of neuroscience and integrate it with classic Christian doctrine and theology.

            The existence of the soul is significant to the credibility of the classic Christian understanding of the gospel and our belief in life after death. Moreover, if the soul exists, it would largely undermine the Darwinian concept of evolution because an atheist should explain how the human mind came into existence from matter, says Moreland:4

Neuroscience and the soul is very, very important to the Christian Church for two reasons. First of all, Gallup polls have indicated that there has been a steady loss of belief in life after death as there has been an increase in the belief that we’re our brains. The idea that many people have, and sensibly enough, is that if you’re a brain and your brain dies, that’s the end of you. If there is a soul, this means that there is more to us than our brains and it tends to lend support to the idea that there’s life after death.
The neuro-scientific findings, if they do, in fact, undermine belief in the soul, it has, for many people, undermined the belief in life after death and made the gospel sort of pointless. What is the point of the gospel if this life is all there is? The second reason that this is important is because it appears that the Bible teaches that there’s a soul and if we are to revise the Bible’s teachings in this area, under the pressure of neuroscience, what’s next? It’s important to ask the question has science undermined traditional Biblical teaching?
There is actually another reason why this matters to the average person. Darwin admitted, when he came up with his Theory of Evolution, that it could not explain the origin of mind. That what his theory could do was to explain the origin of animal bodies and brains, but it couldn’t explain the origin of mind. And so Darwin was a materialist and argued that his theory should be understood as promoting a materialist view of living things, that living things are strictly brains and central nervous systems.
If, on the other hand, there’s reason to think that consciousness and the soul aren’t physical, that provides reasons for thinking that there are limits to Darwinian explanation in that there is need for a god to create the soul and to create consciousness, so this lends support to a theistic view of the world. The soul has been historically been understood as an immaterial substance that contains consciousness and animates the body or makes the body enlivened. The problem for the atheist is to explain how you could get mind from matter.
If you start with the Big Bang and the history of the universe is a history where matter simply rearranges to form increasingly larger or more complicated chunks of matter, for many thinkers, what you’re gonna end up with are rearranged chunks of matter. There will be no account for how you could get mind coming into existence. The Christian theist doesn’t have that problem because for the Christian believer in God, the fundamental reality is not particles or matter, it’s a conscious soul, God himself.
If the universe begins with a soul or a spirit that’s conscious, there is no difficulty in explaining where this comes from because it’s part of your fundamental reality. But if you say instead of in the beginning was the logos, in the beginning were the particles, then you have a difficulty accounting for where consciousness and soul or self come from.
            This is Part 1 of a two-part series on Neuroscience & Soul, which has dealt with the question, “Why should Christians be concerned about the existence of the soul?”

            Part 2 will answer the question, “Can science disprove the existence of the soul?”

Endnotes:

1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxlYKqmE7o0

2https://science.sciencemag.org/content/323/5918/1168.1

3https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxlYKqmE7o0

4https://cct.biola.edu/neuroscience-and-the-soul-j-p-moreland/

Websites last accessed on 22nd July 2019.

Monday, July 15, 2019

If Jesus Did Not Mention It, Is It A Sin?


            While discussing sins and their relevance today, beware of an argument predicated on what Christ said or did not. The whole intent of invoking Christ’s saying is to declassify sins. Do not get deceived by such an argument, for it merely depicts the person’s lack of knowledge, or worse – his/her innate depravity.

            For instance, if homosexuality is the sin under consideration, the person who tacitly or explicitly endorses homosexuality would argue, “Jesus neither mentioned homosexuality as sin nor condemned it; hence homosexuality cannot be a sin.”

            If this argument is posed by a young and a naïve believer or an unbeliever of Christ, then this person is merely exhibiting an unpretentious lack of knowledge.

            But the same argument would be asinine or sophomoric or cretinous if it’s posed by a person claiming to be mature and knowledgeable. Such a person is innately depraved. Beware of such people.

            This argument is fallacious for many reasons.

            The God of the Bible is a blessed Trinity. They are co-equal. Perfect harmony exists between the three persons of the blessed Trinity.

            If God the Father (the first person of the blessed Trinity) classified homosexuality as a sin, then Jesus Christ (the second person of the blessed Trinity) would not declassify homosexuality from its status of sin to being acceptable behavior.

            But those who either tacitly or explicitly strive to endorse homosexuality place Jesus in such a horrendous position as if HE contradicts God the Father.

            Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Dallas and an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, in his article, entitled Did Jesus Condemn Homosexuality? exposes three flaws in the argument that Jesus never condemned homosexuality:1 (Emphasis Mine)

When confronted with verses in the New Testament against homosexuality, homosexual advocates will quickly go to another myth of homosexuality. And that is, Jesus never condemned homosexuality. That argument is flawed in three important ways.
First, that argument assumes that Jesus’ words are more authoritative than the rest of the Bible. To say Jesus never condemned it is to say that Jesus’ words carry more weight than the words of the apostle Paul or the apostle Peter or any other scripture. But we don’t believe that as Christians. Second Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God.” Those are all God’s words.
Second, the argument fails to realize that by affirming the truthfulness of the Old Testament, Jesus automatically condemned homosexuality. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” Let me illustrate it this way. Let’s say somebody came up to you and said, “I believe President Obama is pro-slavery.” You say, “Why would you say such a thing?” And your friend says, “Well, I did some research. Of all of the speeches the president has given, in not one speech did he speak out against slavery. Therefore, he is pro-slavery.” Would that be a logical deduction? Of course not. At his inauguration, the president swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. And the Constitution prohibits slavery. Thus by swearing to uphold the Constitution, he was saying, “I am going to uphold all the laws, including laws against slavery.” It’s the same way with Jesus. When Jesus upheld the Old Testament, He was automatically condemning homosexuality.
Third, by upholding God’s plan for sexuality, Jesus did condemn homosexuality. In Matthew 19 the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus by questioning Him on the issue of divorce and remarriage. Jesus answered by going back to God’s original plan for human sexuality, which is this: sex is reserved for a marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Yes, it’s true that Jesus never mentioned the word “homosexuality.” He never said, “You shall not commit homosexuality.” But guess what? Jesus never said, “You shall not commit incest.” Jesus never said, “You shall not commit bestiality or pedophilia or necrophilia.” Was he pro-necrophilia and pedophilia? Of course not. By upholding God’s pattern for sexuality–a man and a woman in a marriage relationship–Jesus automatically condemned any deviation from that pattern.

            It is a fact that Jesus never condemned smoking weed, spousal abuse (domestic violence), piracy of intellectual property, bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, and many more sins. But it would be rather immature of a Christian to endorse such a sin because Jesus never publically condemned it.

            An article in the Canadian edition of The Gospel Coalition website exposes the flaw in this argument by using another example:2

Asking whether or not Jesus ever talked about homosexuality is somewhat analogous to asking whether or not Jesus ever talked about elder abuse.
Kind of.
But not exactly.
Jesus never used the specific words “elder abuse” but he did rebuke the Pharisees for not properly honouring their parents (Mark 7:12-13) and he did cite approvingly the 5th commandment, which states:
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12 ESV)
So yes, Jesus would disapprove of elder abuse but no, he never addressed the topic directly using that particular term.
Much the same would have to be said with respect to the question about homosexuality.
Jesus did rebuke the Pharisees for having a low regard for the Biblical ideal of covenantal marriage. He said to them:
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6 ESV)
Clearly Jesus affirmed the Biblical vision of marriage as a life long union between one man and one woman. He affirmed sexuality within that particular context when he said, approvingly, “the two shall become one flesh”. And he did so by referring authoritatively to a passage from the Old Testament.
Furthermore, Jesus referred negatively and disapprovingly to all forms of sexual immorality. He said in Matthew 15:19-20:
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matthew 15:19–20 ESV)
To “defile” means to make unclean. In the Old Testament it referred to what put one outside the worshipping community; the term is used in a similar sense in Revelation 21:27:
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27 ESV)
Therefore, Jesus is saying that evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness and slander are defiling sins that would exclude us from the everlasting Kingdom of God – presumably if not confessed and forgiven through his atoning work on the cross.
But what did Jesus mean, precisely, when he referred to “sexual immorality” as one of those defiling and excluding sins?
The Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG) defines the word porneia, translated in most Bibles as “sexual immorality”, as involving “unlawful sexual intercourse”. The Jewish law provides a long list of what constitutes unlawful sexual intercourse in Leviticus 18-20. According to those statutes, a man was forbidden to have sex with the following:
1. His neighbour’s wife (Leviticus 18:21)
2. Another man (Leviticus 18:22)
3. An animal (Leviticus 18:23)
4. His mother in law (Leviticus 20:11)
5. His daughter in law (Leviticus 20:12)
6. His sister (Leviticus 20:17)
Sex with any of these would be considered porneia – unlawful.
According to Jesus sex of this sort defiles a person and thus places them outside the worshipping community and outside the eternal kingdom of God.
Therefore it certainly cannot be argued that Jesus affirmed or was indifferent toward the issue of homosexual sex. Jesus clearly endorsed the Old Testament vision of marriage as an inviolable covenant between one man and one woman and he clearly viewed unlawful sex as being the sort of thing that defiled a person and placed them outside the kingdom of God. Jesus did not use the word “homosexuality” but neither did he use the word “incest” or “bestiality”. He did not need to. In using the Greek word porneia he identified with how the Jewish law delineated lawful and unlawful sex.
According to Jesus, unlawful sex is sin.
Sin separates us from God.
But thanks be to God, Jesus came to offer his life as a sacrifice of atonement and is therefore able to offer forgiveness to all lawbreakers and sinners.
Including you.
And including me.
Jesus said that he was going to the cross in order to secure forgiveness for broken men and women just like us. At the Last Supper he passed a cup to his disciples and said:
this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:28 ESV)
Unlawful sex is sin.
Theft is sin.
Murder, adultery, false witness and slander are sin.
But thanks be to God – all such sins can be forgiven and forever washed away through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.
Hallelujah!
SDG,
Pastor Paul Carter

            So to conclude, any argument that strives to endorse (or declassify) homosexuality or any other sin based on the fact that Jesus never condemned it, is fallacious and the agency of this fallacy i.e. the person/institution that conveys this fallacy should be disregarded.

Endnotes:
1http://www.firstdallas.org/icampus/blog/did-jesus-condemn-homosexuality/

2https://ca.thegospelcoalition.org/columns/ad-fontes/jesus-ever-talk-homosexuality/

Websites last accessed on 15th July 2019.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Pastor Joel Osteen, Lady Gaga, Gay Pride Month; The Enemy Within & A Bright Future


            Any school going teen raised within the confines of Historic Christian worldview will consider gay marriage as an aberration. But LGBTQ movement is gaining traction in every nook and corner of our world. This unholy movement will continue to assault the traditional heterosexual marriage (between a male and a female). So our next generation may even consider gay marriage at par with the monogamous heterosexual marriage.

            Given this existential reality, we who subscribe to Historic Christianity should be concerned with another entity. Not the secular world, but another entity.

            Beware of the enemy within!

            ““Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves,” says the Bible about the enemy within (Matthew 7:15, NET).  

            The enemy within could be far more dangerous and destructive than the enemy outside our domain. In this context, the enemy within is the group of Christians who actively endorse the LGBTQ agenda. Call them the Progressive or Liberal or the Postmodern Christians.

            Do not be deceived when you observe Pastor Joel Osteen and his wife attend Lady Gaga’s gay pride event, “Joel Osteen has fallen so far down into apostasy that his seared conscience doesn’t even alert him anymore when trouble is on the horizon, such was the case on Monday night at the SiriusXM and Pandora merger event in New York City. Joel and his wife Victoria were in attendance at the Lady Gaga Pride concert featuring drag queens, amazingly foul language and the endless glorification of the LGBTQ+P for Pedophile agenda. It seems that the Osteens had no problems at all attending such an event, which is not surprising considering how they have been creeping ever closer to supporting same-sex marriage.”1

            It’s a known fact that Pastor Joel Osteen tacitly endorses the LGBTQ agenda, “On October 2, 2013 Pastor Osteen joined Josh Zepps on HuffPost Live for a more relaxed and intimate interview.

            Zepps read a piece that he liked from Osteen’s new book: “It doesn’t matter who likes you or doesn’t like you, all that matters is that God likes you. He accepts you, he approves of you.” Zepps followed up by asking if that included homosexuals.

            “Absolutely,” Osteen insisted, “I believe that God breathed life into every person and that every person is made in the image of God and you have accept (sic) them as they are, on their journey. I’m not here to preach hate or push people down.””2 (Emphasis Mine).

            God loves everyone, sinners included. Therefore, God loves homosexuals. But God does not approve of the practice of homosexuality. In other words, God loves the person, who is a homosexual but detests the practice of homosexuality.

            So when Pastor Joel Osteen says that God approves of homosexuals, he seems to say that God approves of homosexuality, but nothing could be further from the truth.

            Sincere yet naïve Christians who may adore celebrity preachers like Pastor Joel Osteen should beware of such false teachings.

            The secular world may force its LGBTQ agenda into our domain. This is expected of them. But instead of remaining true to the Bible, a significant portion of Christian denominations and its leaders, especially the celebrity preachers whom many Christians adore, endorse sins and declassify them as acceptable practices. In the process, these people try to usurp God from HIS throne. But God cannot be usurped. What God termed a sin will always remain a sin. Of course, I am referring to LGBTQ practices.

            We who worship the living God should have the mind to reject such teachings because such teachings contradict the Word of God. If we endorse homosexuality because we blindly accept the teachings of these heretical celebrity preachers, we tread on dangerous ground.

            So beware of the enemy within!

            The future, however, seems to be bright for those who remain true to God’s Word.

            Nancy Pearcey quotes Andrew Sullivan to assert that the support for LGBTQ agenda among our younger generation is reducing. Here's an excerpt of Andrew Sullivan's article from Nancy Pearcey's Facebook page:3

Andrew Sullivan (homosexual columnist) says support for trans ideology is going down
For the first time, we’re seeing a sharp drop in tolerance of “LGBTQ” people among the younger generation. This is an entirely new phenomenon. It used to be the young that spearheaded toleration and inclusion. Now they’re suddenly bolting in the opposite direction:
“The number of Americans 18 to 34 who are comfortable interacting with LGBTQ people slipped from 53 percent in 2017 to 45 percent in 2018 — the only age group to show a decline,” according to the annual [GLAAD] report. And that is down from 63 percent in 2016. “36 percent of young people said they were uncomfortable learning a family member was LGBTQ in 2018, compared with 29 percent in 2017, and 24 percent in 2016. 34 percent were uncomfortable learning their doctor was LGBTQ vs. 27 percent a year earlier. 39 percent were uncomfortable learning their child had a school lesson on LGBTQ history vs. 30 percent in 2017.”
Or check this out: 62 percent of young men regarded themselves as “allies” of LGBTQ people in 2016; only 35 percent now say the same — a near-halving of support. Women “allies” have dropped from 65 to 52 percent.
The turn began in the year that the Obama administration — with no public discussion or congressional support — imposed critical gender theory on America’s high schools, determining sex to be whatever a student says it is. The imposition of trans ideology by fiat on the entire country’s young — along with severe public stigma for those with even the slightest questions — was almost textbook left authoritarianism. Well meant, perhaps. But dictatorial.
Even GLAAD, the culture police for the gay left, concedes that the transformation of the gay-rights movement into a trans movement steeped in critical gender theory in the past few years is likely the reason... GLAAD vows to crack down ever more firmly on those who aren’t fully onboard with its agenda. The last thing GLAAD would do is ask itself if it is actually exacerbating the problem, and that the redefinition of almost everyone’s sex and gender to accommodate less than 1 percent of the population is why this resistance is happening....
Kids are not stupid. They know they are being propagandized. This poll suggests the backlash has arrived, and it will likely grow."

Endnotes:

1https://www.nowtheendbegins.com/little-monsters-joel-osteen-wife-victoria-honored-guests-lady-gaga-pride-concert-new-york-city-monday-night/

2https://www.huffpost.com/entry/joel-osteen-larry-king-homosexuality_n_4591090?guccounter=1

3https://www.facebook.com/nancy.pearcey.7/posts/10157425523754241

Websites last accessed on 30th July 2019.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Are There Lesser & Greater Sins?


            Andrew Murray1 defined sin as an assault against God. Millard J. Erickson defines sin as, “Sin is any evil action or motive that is in opposition to God. Simply stated, sin is a failure to let God be God and placing something or someone in God’s rightful place of supremacy.” 2

            Are all sins the same? Is stealing a loaf of bread the same as murdering the neighbor?

            The wages of sin is death, teaches the Bible3– small and big included.

            Wayne Grudem in his work Systematic Theology explains why all sins need not be construed as the same. However, in another sense, he asserts that all sins are the same.

            In a legal sense, even a very small sin makes us legally guilty before God and therefore worthy of eternal punishment. The classic case of Adam and Eve’s disobedience against God resulted in the penalty of death (Genesis 2:17 cf. Romans 5:16). That one sin made Adam and Eve sinners before God. They were no longer able to stand in HIS Holy presence.

            Galatians 3:10 and James 2:10-11 also teaches us that we are guilty even if we commit one small sin. Therefore, in the legal sense, every sin, large or small does not matter, makes us guilty before God.

            The Bible also teaches us that some sins are worse than others because they have more harmful consequences in our lives and in the lives of others, and in terms of our personal relationship to God as Father, they arouse HIS displeasure more and bring more serious disruption to our fellowship with HIM.

            When Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate, he referred to a greater sin, “Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all, unless it was given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.”” (John 19:11, NET, Emphasis Mine). Jesus referred to Judas, who had known HIM for three intimate years, yet willfully betrayed HIM to death. Thus the sin of Judas was greater because of Judas’ far greater knowledge and malice connected with it.

            God while showing Ezekiel the visions of sins in the temple of Jerusalem referred to greater sins, “He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing—the great abominations that the people of Israel are practicing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see greater abominations than these!”… He said to me, “You will see them practicing even greater abominations!”… He said to me, “Do you see this, son of man? You will see even greater abominations than these!”” (Ezekiel 8:6,13,15, NET, Emphasis Mine).

            Christ also refers to some sins as lesser than the others, “So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:19, NET, Emphasis Mine).

            Similarly, Christ while pronouncing woes on the Pharisees said, ““Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness!” (Matthew 23:23, NET, Emphasis Mine).

            Presence of lesser and greater commandments imply certain sins being of a lesser magnitude than the others or certain sins being worse than other sins in terms of God’s own evaluation of their importance.

            Wayne Grudem goes on to explain further.

            We can readily see how some sins have much more harmful consequences for ourselves and others and for our relationship with God. If I were to covet my neighbor’s car, that would be a sin before God. But if my coveting led me to actually steal the car, that would be a more serious sin. If in the course of stealing the car I also fought with my neighbor and injured him or recklessly injured someone else as I drove the car, that would be even more serious sin.

           Similarly, if a new Christian, who previously had a tendency to lose his temper and get into fights, begins witnessing to his unbelieving friends and, one day is so provoked he loses his temper and actually strikes someone, that is certainly sin in God’s sight. But if a mature pastor or other prominent Christian leader were to lose his temper publicly and strike someone, that would be even more serious in God’s sight, both because of the harm that would come to the reputation of the gospel and because those in leadership positions are held to a higher standard of accountability by God: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, because you know that we will be judged more strictly.”(James 3:1, NET, Emphasis Mine) and “But the one who did not know his master’s will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48, NET, Emphasis Mine).

            Our conclusion, then, is that in terms of results and in terms of degree of God’s displeasure, some sins are certainly worse than others.

            June marks LGBTQ Pride month, so an application of the doctrine of greater and lesser sin to homosexuality would be appropriate.

            We can confidently assert that possessing a homosexual orientation need not be a sin if that orientation is not practiced via romantic gay relationships. A mere homosexual orientation excluding the lustful thoughts need not be a sin because the orientation does not lead to either lustful thoughts or a detestable homosexual behavior.

            Finally, here’s a prayer point. Let us pray that our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community will seek the power of the Triune God to not allow their orientation to give birth to sinful and detestable practices against God.

Endnotes:

1Andrew Murray, a famous Christian writer, in his work The Joy of being Forgiven

2Christian Theology (Second Edition)

3Romans 6:23

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Straight Pride; Why Our World Adores The LGBTQ Agenda


            Nothing is more important than the LGBTQ agenda to our world. Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire nailed it, “As everyone knows, June is African-American Music Appreciation Month. It's also National Safety Month and National Smile Month. And we can't forget that it is ALS Awareness Month, Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, Cataract Awareness Month, Hernia Awareness Month, Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month, National Aphasia Awareness Month, National Congenital Cytomegalovirus Awareness Month, National Scleroderma Awareness Month, and Scoliosis Awareness Month. But all of these holy observances must take a backseat to the most hallowed of them all: LGBT Pride Month.”1

            Interestingly, Matt Walsh claims that the LGBTQ community is not persecuted in the USA, rather they are privileged.2

            The secular world worships the LGBTQ community. Suddenly, the LGBTQ community has become a privileged community. Why?

            Oppression could be the key reason.

            An article in the USA Today enlightens us:3

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently apologized to the thousands of LGBTQ men and women who were fired by government agencies, including the military, between the 1950s and 1992. They were investigated and interrogated, some even forced to undergo polygraph testing, then discharged because they were considered threats to national security. It was a “gay purge,” and it was still happening less than 30 years ago.
Visibility and equality
These fights for acceptance and equality aren’t over.
Living proudly and openly in societies where your well-being (emotional, physical, professional) is constantly at risk is nothing short of brave. The fact that we are seeing more people live openly and honestly despite these challenges is a miracle.
Almost every day, we see threats made against members of the LGBTQ community. The scaling back of hard-earned rights and protections of LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, is difficult to ignore.
So when straight people ask why there is a need for gay pride or wonder why there aren’t straight pride celebrations, it feels a lot like they are saying contributions by LGBTQ people — a minority group that faces constant adversity — are simply not worthy of recognition. Further, they’re denying the importance and significance of identifying as LGBTQ and achieving things — surviving, even — when the odds are stacked against you.
The resilience of the LGBTQ community alone is worthy of celebration.

            Fair enough!

            The laws that govern our world ought to provide protection to everyone – offenders included. The innocent cannot suffer and the guilty cannot not be punished. Even the guilty should be protected, which is precisely why prisons or correctional centers exist.

            This then is precisely the reason for the divide – in supporting or opposing the privilege offered to the LGBTQ community.

            First, the secular world does not find anything morally wrong with the practices of the LGBTQ people. For instance, they claim there’s nothing morally wrong in practicing homosexuality.  They claim homosexuality is an accepted behavioral practice, for it offends none (God excluded). On the contrary, most theists claim that homosexuality is a sin against God.

            Second, the logical second step for the secular world is to protect those being [apparently] incorrectly incriminated for their lifestyle. Thus the insulation-era of the LGBTQ community was ushered. They are being insulated/protected from all means of persecution. Thus, they are no longer persecuted in many progressive societies.

            Those who oppose the LGBTQ agenda (hardcore conservatives excluded) would welcome the protection and the provision of equal status to the LGBTQ community.

            LGBTQ may not be morally wrong in the eyes of our lawmakers. Our lawmakers act according to the forces that reign in their era.

            The practice of LGBTQ is an assault on God. It is a sin against God.

            Thankfully, an eternal and omniscient God cannot be outdone by finite human forces. Hence, HIS commands remain. HIS command that homosexuality is a sin remains irrespective of the human era or the forces that rule. (Homosexuality is taken as a specific case in point.)

            Although the forces that rule our era cannot outdo God, it has the power to vanquish susceptible humans. This is accomplished under the deceptive guise of love.

            Hence, they built a narrative to make the LGBTQ community a privileged one. A narrative in which love is the brand that sells the LGBTQ product. (But the adoration of the LGBTQ community has nothing to do with love; rather it has everything to do with moral blindness.)

            Thankfully for these morally corrupt forces, the Bible speaks much about love. Significantly, the two greatest commandments of the Lord Jesus did not emphasize worship, obedience or belief in God. Rather they emphasized love for God and love our neighbor. These commandments were predicated on love.

            But the Bible makes a very significant distinction. Love of God and of our fellow men does not relegate sins into the realm of endorsement or acceptance. A sin remains a sin and love remains love. 

            In fact, sin mars/ruins the love between God and man. When man sins against God, HIS relationship with God is marred. Hence repentance, confession, and forgiveness become the order of the day.

            This is God’s economy.

            Man’s economy is rather atypical/different from God’s.

            Since the progressive secular man does not consider homosexuality as a sin or an offense against the law, he rides the love-bandwagon and loves the LGBTQ community (and there’s nothing wrong in loving the sinner). That love ride blinds the moral senses of the secular man. When his love for his fellowmen blinds his moral senses, the secular man commits a great blunder.

            That blunder is his endorsement of the LGBTQ practices. This is where he chooses to not realize that love for someone need not necessarily lead to an endorsement of every behavior (only in the context of legitimizing LGBTQ).

            Elsewhere the secular man does not conflate love and endorsement. He may love his neighbor, but when his neighbor steals from another, the secular man imprisons his neighbor under the force of his law. In this context, theft is an offense against the law of the land. Love cannot, in any which way, override the law of the land to acquit a convict.  

            Therein the hypocrisy of the secular man dawns into full-blown brightness/intensity. 

            On the one hand, he loves his neighbor who practices homosexuality, and he even endorses homosexuality. But on the other hand, he accuses his thieving neighbor and throws him behind the bars, thereby condemning the act of theft and the subject/person who steals. 

            The reason for this hypocrisy is the secular man’s choice to endorse homosexuality as an acceptable practice. The secular man has no difficulty, whatsoever, to endorse a behavior that God condemns because the secular man refuses to bend his knee to God.

            Upon removing God from his horizon, he has no difficulty whatsoever to legitimize homosexuality.

            Or is it so?

            When God is removed from the moral equation, evidently the evolutionary paradigm reigns. The secular man contends that homosexuality is perfectly acceptable within the evolutionary paradigm.

            This is where he goes blatantly wrong.

            It can be proved that homosexuality is an aberration even according to the natural law theory. In an earlier blog entitled Does Consensual and Harmless Sexual Intercourse Legitimize Homosexuality? I emphasized the manner in which the natural law theory debunks homosexuality:4

(1)  The nature or essence of every biological organ, according to natural law theory, involves its purposes (or final causes). So the purpose of the eyeball is to make us see. Similarly, sexual intercourse also has its own purpose, which is to procreate (bear children).
But I have heard arguments that the final cause or the purpose of sexual intercourse is the pleasure. This is wrong! Pleasure cannot be a purpose for sexual intercourse.
Think about eating. You may argue that eating is pleasurable, but the biological point of eating is not to give pleasure, but to offer the body the nutrients it needs to be healthy and survive. The pleasure of eating is nature’s way of getting us to eat.
As Professor Edward Feser states, “So, the final cause of sex is procreation, and the final cause of sexual pleasure is to get us to indulge in sex, so that we’ll thereby procreate…Notice also that nature makes it very difficult to indulge in sex without procreation. There is no prophylactic sheathe issued with a penis at birth, and no diaphragm issued with a vagina. It takes some effort to come up with these devices, and even then, in the form in which they existed for most of human history they were not terribly effective.”3
(2) Natural law theory states that an action or a behavior, even if it does not harm anyone else, need not be acceptable or need not be the normal way of living life.
The life of an alcoholic is not acceptable, even if he/she does not harm anyone. Similarly, a person – inclined to molest children (even if he has not molested children) – who masturbates to pictures of naked children is living a sick life. Such a person is not living the way a normal human ought to live.
Therefore, gay sex cannot be justified even if it were harmless.
(3) In the same manner, consensus cannot be a legitimate reason for an action/behavior. Gay people cannot argue that consensual sex is always righteous.
Consensual sex cannot be righteous always. A pedophile cannot argue that he had sex with a child because the child consented. A parent cannot claim that he/she had sex with his/her child (minor or major) because the child agreed to have sex with the parent. In a marriage, consensus between the husband and the wife to have sex with others outside the marriage does not justify their affairs.
I will summarize now:
A. According to natural law theory, the main purpose of sex is procreation through the sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Thus gay sex cannot be natural, but it is an abnormal activity/behavior.
B. For reasons mentioned in (2) and (3), consensual and harmless sex cannot justify gay sex.

            So the reason behind the reverence of the LGBTQ community is the failure to recognize the practices of the said community as sinful against God and as an unnatural act according to the Natural Law Theory.

            While we should love every member of the LGBTQ community, we still maintain that the practices of the LGBTQ community are sinful and hence should not be endorsed. Although the secular world may adore and revere the LGBTQ community, we Christians should remain committed to God’s ways.

            And yes, we do take pride in being straight.

Endnotes:

1https://www.dailywire.com/news/48006/walsh-lgbt-people-are-not-oppressed-or-persecuted-matt-walsh
2Ibid.

3https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/06/01/why-we-have-lgbtq-pride-not-straight-pride-column/658306002/

4http://rajkumarrichard.blogspot.com/2018/06/does-consensual-and-harmless-sexual.html

Websites last accessed on 12th June 2019.