Archive for category Ethics & Morality
What do you think of Greg’s approach to churches addressing this issue? If you have time, watch the video, too.
Here is a word I a shared this last weekend with Woodland Hills Church (where I’m senior pastor) in response to numerous questions I’ve received over the last several months. People have asked me why the leadership of WHC refuses to jump on the bandwagon of evangelical churches in the Twin Cities who rally their congregations to get out and vote “yes” for the marriage amendment currently on our ballot in Minnesota. Others have asked for clarification on WHC ‘s view of homosexuality, especially in light of the fact that we host a vibrant LGBT support group (called “Sacred Space”) that accepts people where they’re at, regardless of how they personally integrate their faith with their sexual orientation.
Many progressive, evangelical Christians like myself face something of a conundrum regarding these sorts of questions. On the one hand, we believe the Bible is God’s Word and we can’t with integrity deny that it teaches that sex outside the parameters of a monogamous, life-long, marriage covenant is sin, whether it is sex with a person of a different gender or sex with a person of the same gender. We find the arguments of those who try to argue that Rom.1:24-28-, I Cor. 6:9 and I Tim. 1:10 don’t apply to monogamous gay relationships simply aren’t very persuasive. On the other hand, we sense that something is “off” with the stance of the church throughout history, and the stance of most evangelical churches today, toward gay people. Read the rest of this entry »
“I find an increasing number of young Christians are willing to say “enough is enough” when it comes to militarism, to military budgets, and to embracing a peace orientation toward how Christians are to live in a world of international conflicts. Ronald Sider (Christ and Violence) and John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus ) have been powerful witnesses to pushing more Christians to ask not what is best for our power but how did Jesus embody the way of God — he did so through a cross that led to resurrection, not through a sword that led to a throne.”
Almost every single sporting game involves the use of established boundaries and penalizes players for going “out of bounds.” Whether we’re playing football, baseball, soccer, the gymnastics floor exercise or the game of golf, every honest player accepts the established boundaries and agrees to abide by the official rules of the game. And, if you’ve ever played with “a cheater”, you know that they disgrace the spirit of the game and bring dishonor themselves — not to mention suck a lot of fun out of the competition as well.
You see the thrill of any sport is the challenge of improving one’s skills through practice and increasing in one’s mastery of the game. No game draws upon this desire for mastery through repetition and practice more than the game of golf. Experiencing incremental improvement and gradually lower scores is intoxicating, making golf a borderline obsession and addiction for many.
Yet, those who love and respect the game of golf also respect the rules of the game that hold all players to the same standard. One of the most basic rules of the game that all players naturally honor are signified by those white stakes lining the perimeter of each hole: the “out of bounds” posts. Read the rest of this entry »
1. Are you in danger of neglecting evangelism in your passion for social justice?
2. Are you in danger of abandoning an affirmation of moral and intellectual truth?
3. Will you honor your marriage vows?
4. As you seek to respect the dignity of gay/lesbian people, have you wrestled carefully with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality?
Many would consider Dr. Ron Sider the father of the modern Christian social justice movement. He released his seminal book, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, in 1977 after observing racism and poverty in inner-city Philadelphia. Since then, Sider has written nearly two dozen books and more than 100 articles on social injustice and biblical discipleship, including Completely Pro-Life, which ushered in a new “holistic” thinking on what it means to affirm life in areas beyond abortion opposition, such as capital punishment, nuclear weapons and severe poverty. Here, Sider considers his legacy and the legacy of his peers as he challenges a new generation of “young, radical evangelists” in how they approach justice, relativism, marriage and homosexuality. He offers four questions, the answers to which he believes will inform Christianity in the 21st century.
For a long time, people called me a “young evangelical.” Actually, the adjectives were sometimes less gracious: “radical,” or “leftist” or “Marxist.” (My response to the “Marxist” label was simple: “I’m a Mennonite farm boy, for Pete’s sake. Have you ever met a Mennonite farmer who wants the government to own his land?”)
So I used to be a “radical, young evangelical.” But I was born in 1939, so, however reluctantly, I have long since had to abandon the label “young.” Hence this open letter to a younger generation, many of whom are 40 years younger than I am.
I have no desire to lecture you or “set you straight.” I have enormous appreciation for this generation. Forty years ago, when some of my friends and I started talking about social justice, racial justice, God’s special concern for the poor, and holistic mission that combined evangelism and social action, we were considered radical.
Much is different today. Not all older Christians “get it,” but you younger ones certainly do. A special concern for the poor and oppressed is part of your DNA. Caring for creation and transcending racial prejudice is simply who you are. You cannot imagine an evangelism that only cares about people’s “souls.” You just assume, without any need for argument, that biblical Christians should love the whole person the way Jesus did, offering both spiritual and material transformation. You want to engage the whole culture—art, music, literature, politics—rather than withdraw into some isolated ghetto. For all of this and much more, I shout, “Hallelujah!”
But there are four areas where I would love to have a dialogue. Read the rest of this entry »
Trevin Wax offers his reflections on Jennifer Knapp’s appearance on Larry King Live in an article for the Baptist Press called Jennifer Knapp and Homosexuality: Changing the Questions.
Here’s an excerpt:
I only know Jennifer Knapp — a former Dove Award winning artist who recently announced she is a lesbian — through her music. (Kansas is one of the best albums in Christian music, as far as I’m concerned.) I do not want the rest of this column to focus on her particular story. Instead, I want to analyze the Larry King appearance as a launching pad from which we can think clearly about how we might re-frame this discussion in ways that benefit the traditionalist position.
Here are four ways to get started: Read the rest of this entry »
I’m sharing some noteworthy excerpts from one of my favorite, most influential books — “Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony” by Stanley Hauerwas & William Willimon. Chapter four addresses Christian social ethics as faithfulness to the community’s normative story — in this case the Jesus-shaped story.
“The habit of Constantinian thinking is difficult to break. It leads Christians to judge their ethical positions, not on the basis of what is faithful to our peculiar tradition, but rather on the basis of how much Christian ethics Caesar can be induced to swallow without choking. The tendency therefore is to water down Christian ethics, filtering them through basically secular criteria like “right to life” or “freedom of choice,” pushing them on the whole world as universally applicable common sense, and calling that Christian” (72).
“In the Sermon on the Mount, the boundaries between church and world are brought into clear relief… The Sermon, by its announcement and its demands, makes necessary the formation of a colony, not because disciples are those who have a need to be different, but because the Sermon, if believed and lived, makes us different, shows us the world to be alien, an odd place where what makes sense to everybody else is revealed to be opposed to what God is doing among us. Jesus was not crucified for saying or doing what made sense to everyone”(74). Read the rest of this entry »
Keri and I were visiting Bethel University’s campus recently, and were intrigued by signs posted on certain doors signaling “safe-places” for conversations about same-sex attraction. Is this a growing phenomenon on all university campuses, or unique to Christian institutions where there is more of a stigma against same-sex relationships?
I was therefore very interested when I saw the following letter from my old boss, Dr. David Clark, now Provost of Bethel University.
The following is an open letter that Provost David Clark sent to the Bethel University faculty. What do you think of Dr. Clark’s message? Agree or disagree? Click below to keep reading…