Alan Shlemon

Stop Speaking Christianese, Please

When talking to non-believers, make an effort to find fresh and clear ways of communicating common Christian concepts. Instead of inviting people to put their “faith” in Christ, ask them to put their “trust” in him. Instead of “theology,” try “Christian convictions.” Instead of warning them, “You’re going to be judged for your sins,” say, “You’ll be punished for your crimes.” Almost any Christianese term can be replaced with a clearer equivalent.

Commercial airplanes are extremely safe these days. Still, sending 100,000 lbs. of metal into the atmosphere at 600 mph demands attention to safety. But when a flight attendant starts the safety briefing, I ignore it. All I hear is, “Blah blah blah blah.” I’m not the only one. People put on noise-canceling headphones, turn to chat with their neighbor, or scroll through their social media feed. Why? Isn’t the safety briefing full of vital information? Wouldn’t heeding its advice potentially save your life in an emergency? Yes. Then why does no one pay attention?
People have heard it before. They think they know it. Honestly, nobody cares.
That’s why many airlines today have developed a new approach to keep passengers’ attention. Turkish Airlines hired famous YouTube personality and digital magic artist Zach King. Their safety video includes Zach performing illusions to keep passengers engaged. British Airways adds comedy by incorporating Mr. Bean into their video. Korean Air features the Korean pop sensation, BTS. Air New Zealand uses characters from The Hobbit. Airlines have learned how to keep people’s attention focused on the important safety information they want to convey to their passengers. They’ve learned their lesson, but have Christians?
Believers face a similar problem. We try to tell non-Christians valuable truths about the Christian faith: “Jesus died for your sins. Put your faith in him. He, alone, is holy.” All that non-Christians hear is, “Blah blah blah blah.” Unlike on an airplane, they’re at least looking at you. They’re still not understanding what you’re saying, though. Why? You’re speaking Christianese. It’s parlance they’re unfamiliar with.
Christianese is the language Christians speak at church and to other Christians. It has two characteristics. One, it’s churchy. It contains theologically loaded lingo that is understandable to Christians but largely incoherent to non-Christians.
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An Assessment of Andy Stanley’s Unconditional Conference

The Bible does not treat homosexual sex or marriage as an agree-to-disagree issue. It’s univocal in its definition of sex and marriage. It’s also univocal in its prohibition of homosexual sex. Finally, it warns people who engage in such behavior that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. These are serious matters. To simply agree to disagree would be to disregard the eternal destiny of the people whom God is eager to save. Not only are people who engage in ongoing unrepentant sexual sin in jeopardy, but those who give them false hope are in danger as well.

In 2014, I attended Matthew Vines’s conference on the Bible and homosexuality. His stated goal was to “promote inclusion of LGBTQ people by reforming church teaching.” The organization he started, The Reformation Project, teaches that homosexual sex and same-sex marriage are biblically permissible, and its goal to mainstream this theology into the church is overt and clear.
Fast-forward to last month, when I attended the Unconditional Conference put on by Embracing the Journey (ETJ). Hosted by nationally known pastor Andy Stanley and held at his church, which boasts a weekly attendance of nearly 40,000 people, the event sought to create a theologically neutral space where parents and leaders could learn how to minister to youth who identify as LGBTQ. In other words, the stated intent was not to change anyone’s theology.
Before I explain my concerns, I want to highlight some positive elements of the conference. For example, I appreciated the focus on leaning into relationships with friends and family who identity as LGBTQ. Too often, believers shy away from them or, worse, end their relationships by their callous and disrespectful behavior. I’m glad the speakers encouraged Christians to change course in this regard.
The conference also provided many practical dos and don’ts. For example, if your child tells you they experience same-sex attraction or are confused about their gender identity, don’t freak out. Don’t lecture them immediately. Don’t assume they’re engaging in homosexual sex or transitioning. Instead, thank them for being vulnerable. Invite them to share more of their story. Listen and reassure them that you love them.
These are true and important principles that I have taught in my speaking and writing for nearly two decades. I think the conference got these and several other points right.
Three Serious Concerns
Despite these good aspects, the conference was deeply problematic because of the false and somewhat hidden premise that permeated most of the teaching: Followers of Christ can participate in homosexual sex, same-sex marriage, or transgender “transitioning.” That premise undergirds three serious concerns I have with the Unconditional Conference.
First, the Unconditional Conference claimed to be theological neutral but wasn’t. Virtually every aspect of it operated on the unspoken premise that it’s permissible for followers of Jesus to satisfy LGBTQ desires. The conference website says, “No matter what theological stance you hold, we invite you to listen, reflect, and learn as we approach this topic from the quieter middle space.” ETJ cofounder and conference organizer Greg McDonald said, “We have no desire to change your theology.”
Despite this claim, the hidden premise that permeated the conference was that walking with Jesus can include same-sex marriage as well as transgender “transitioning.” Not only did no one say anything to the contrary, but virtually every speaker, facilitator, and volunteer spoke in a way that led one to believe those behaviors are permissible. For example, Greg and Lynn McDonald talked at length about their son who is “married” to another man. They showed family pictures of their son and explained how, although they made parental mistakes at first, they now have a positive relationship with him. They never said their son’s “marriage” was not valid or that anything was suspect or sinful about his current expression of homosexuality.
Another example was David Gushee, who previously announced at Matthew Vines’s conference in 2014 that he changed his position to a gay-affirming view. Around that same time, he published Changing Our Mind, a book that calls for the “inclusion of LGBT Christians” and advances a fresh interpretation of the Bible supporting his new view. At the Unconditional Conference, he assured the audience that “this conference is not about changing anyone’s theology.” Although he never made a biblical case for his pro-gay view, he made several vague references to dangerous and harmful theology. For example, he argued that Christians once advanced biblical arguments for slavery and antisemitism, but because of the harm it caused people, Christians returned to Scripture for a fresh consideration. The implication was that the interpretation that “homosexual sex is sin” also harms people and should be reconsidered. In fact, his book, which focuses on changing your mind to his theology, was sold at the conference.
Furthermore, two of the conference speakers, Justin Lee and Brian Nietzel, are both “married” to other men. Their teaching wasn’t billed as a perspective from the other side on this issue. Rather, they were held up as authorities on the subject who could help parents better understand their own LGBTQ children. Since no one at the conference said or implied their “marriages” were not valid or that we shouldn’t see them as models for LGBTQ kids, parents could reasonably conclude same-sex marriage is an option for their children.
What the Unconditional Conference did was tantamount to a pro-life conference inviting—as one of their speakers—a Planned Parenthood employee who not only has had an abortion but also teaches as if it were a good, moral, and God-honoring decision. Attendees would reasonably conclude the “pro-life” conference believed abortion is an appropriate option.
What this abortion analogy also shows is that many pro-choice arguments sound persuasive because, like the Unconditional Conference, they are based on hidden (but faulty) premises. For example, pro-choice advocates claim, “Women should have the freedom to choose,” or, “Women should have the right to control their own bodies.” Notice how the fundamental question, “What is the unborn?” is not addressed. Worse, the pro-choice advocate simply assumes the unborn is not a human being and carries on making their case with that hidden premise.
The Unconditional Conference approached their topic in the same way. For two days, the speakers addressed how to minister to people who identify as LGBTQ but intentionally didn’t address the fundamental question of whether homosexual sex or same-sex marriage is sin. Worse, they simply assumed they are not sin and carried on offering advice with that hidden premise.
One final example worth mentioning is the parent panel discussion on “The Transgender Journey.” Approximately 75% of the parents in the room either shared their story about their transgender child or spoke up in some way. I thought to myself, surely among the parent attendees, there must be someone who thinks satisfying transgender ideation is inconsistent with their Christian convictions. Surprisingly, not one person said something to lead me to believe they thought their child’s social, hormonal, or surgical transition was problematic. Preferred pronouns were accepted and, according to one parent, failing to use them is tantamount to violence. There was no pushback to transgender ideation. They simply accepted the transgender experience and baptized it with Christian lingo by saying, “Jesus would love them.” To be fair, parents did say they were emotionally distraught and struggled to understand their child’s experience. But the counsel of the facilitators and other parents was merely to love their child and cope during the transition, not to uphold biblical principles and disciple their children accordingly.
Perhaps the best evidence that the conference was not theologically neutral was the response from leaders who advance pro-LGBTQ theology in the church. While at the conference, I asked one of them if the conference aligned with their goal. Their answer: “Yes.” That made sense. After all, the Unconditional Conference is advancing their cause.
After the conference, one progressive Christian attendee posted the following summary: “Every speaker, video, book and breakout I saw fully affirmed LGBTQ+ folks! I saw pastors advocating for inclusion, parents welcoming their children’s same-sex partners into the family, trans folks sharing their transition stories, and queer people leading at literally every level.” This was not a theologically neutral conference. It’s precisely what LGBTQ leaders want to see in the evangelical church, where they believe there is a stronghold of biblical fidelity that resists normalizing homosexuality and transgenderism in the church. The conference did take a position but attempted to downplay it.
Second, the Unconditional Conference advanced a false dichotomy of possible responses to a child who identifies as LGBTQ. Most of the speakers described two different approaches to ministering to kids who identify as LGBTQ: the “traditionalist script” and the “new script.” The traditionalist script was characterized as unbiblical, unloving, and abusive. Andy Stanley said it has a limited vocabulary that includes only four words: “Homosexuality is a sin.” Parents who follow this script typically don’t listen to their kids when they “come out as gay.” Rather, they lecture their kids about the “clobber passages,” don’t talk about the love of Jesus, lack empathy, and push them to the brink of running away. The speakers provided numerous disturbing, real-life examples. In one case, a father kicked his lesbian daughter down the stairs. In another example, a gay son came to a hospital and asked the nurse if he could visit his dad, who was about to die. The father told the nurse, “Don’t let him in because I don’t have a son.” This was the conference’s characterization of the traditionalist script.
The new script advanced by the conference has a “larger vocabulary.” It doesn’t focus on the “clobber passages.” Rather, it encourages parents to love their child, lean into a healthy parent-child relationship, and invite their child to walk with Christ. The way the speakers talked about the new script implied that Christian parents can support their child’s eventual same-sex marriage or “gender transition.”
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Pro-Gay Theology, the Film 1946, and the Multiverse

Even if the Pro-Gay Theology Avengers were to succeed in traveling back in time to prevent the word “homosexuals” from entering the Bible, it wouldn’t change the Bible’s teaching on marriage, homosexuality, and sexual ethics. Scripture would still tell us that Jesus’ design for marriage requires a man and a woman for the creation of a one-flesh union, and both Old and New Testaments teach that homosexual sex is sin.

Multiverse movies are all the rage these days. Spiderman, Avengers, The Flash…everyone wants to go back in time, correct a mistake in the past, and then live in a new “corrected” timeline that is free of the perceived defect.
What if the pro-gay theology advocates of the film 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture were able to harness that same power? If they could go back in time, what changes would they make, and what kind of ripple effect would that have on the new universe they created? Specifically, how would their timeline’s changes affect the Bible’s teaching on marriage, homosexuality, and sexual ethics?
The film 1946 claims the translation team of the 1946 RSV Bible wrongly translated the Greek word arsenokoitai as “homosexuals” in the Bible (specifically, in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10). As a result, they claim, the mistaken translation inappropriately influenced future English versions of the Bible to also include the word “homosexuals,” which has led to homophobia and persecution of the LGBT community.
Imagine, then, that the makers of the film 1946 contact Tony Stark and Marvel’s Avengers and borrow their time machine. They assemble their own intrepid team, the Pro-Gay Theology Avengers, travel back in time, and show up at the RSV translation team’s meeting to prevent the committee from translating arsenokoitai as “homosexuals.” If they were to succeed, what would the new timeline of history look like? Specifically, if the word “homosexuals” never occurred in any Bible verse, what changes would result in the new future? What would the Bible’s teaching on marriage, homosexuality, and sexual ethics look like today?
Here’s what would change: Nothing.
There would be no difference in the Bible’s teaching on marriage, homosexuality, or biblical sexual ethics. Of course, some things in the universe would be different. Obviously, even making a tiny change in history would cause a ripple effect in the future. Biblical sexual ethics, however, wouldn’t change. There would be no new permissions and no new prohibitions. The Pro-Gay Theology Avengers would return to the present moment disappointed because their position would remain hermeneutically unjustifiable even after removing the word “homosexuals” from the Bible.
Here’s how I know. Even if you erased 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 (the two verses that contain arsenokoitai) from the Bible, two biblical teachings would remain unchanged: 1) Scripture’s teaching on sex and marriage and 2) Old and New Testament teaching that homosexual sex is sin.
The Bible would still teach what sex and marriage should look like. Shortly after the creation event, God made humanity as “male and female” (Gen. 1:26) and outlined his blueprint for sex and marriage, explaining that “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). It’s worth noting that only a man and a woman (not two men, two women, or any other grouping) are described in Scripture as being able to create a one-flesh union. God “blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’” (Gen. 1:27–28).
Jesus also endorsed this view in the New Testament when he quoted both passages:
Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. (Matt. 19:4–6)
Jesus cited the Genesis creation account of sex and marriage because he believed it’s still authoritative. His view can be summarized as one man, with one woman, becoming one flesh, for one lifetime.
The Bible’s (and Jesus’) teaching on sex and marriage alone disqualifies homosexual sex as an option. Even if there were not a single passage referring to homosexuality in Scripture, it would still be evident that homosexual sex is sin simply because it deviates from the Bible’s positive teaching on sex and marriage. We know, however, that Scripture also addresses prohibited sex acts, one being homosexual sex.
The Bible would still teach that homosexual sex is sin in both Old and New Testaments.
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Rejecting Your Maker Means Rejecting Your True Identity

Modern gender theory wrongly bifurcates gender identity from your biological sex and grounds a person’s identity in the former. By doing so, identity becomes something decided upon by each individual based on an internal feeling. If identity is an enduring part of who you are, then leaving it up to a personal decision is problematic.

Baskin-Robbins was my go-to place for ice cream when I was a kid. At the time, they boasted “31 flavors.” With that many options, I was sure to find one that would satisfy my craving.
Though it makes sense to choose your favorite flavor of ice cream, it seems strange to take this approach when figuring out whether you’re a man or a woman. Not long ago, that aspect of who you are wasn’t decided, but discovered. You were born either male or female and grew up to be either a man or a woman.
Not so today. Planned Parenthood (known for their abortion advocacy), recently posted pictures of over a dozen flags they claim represent “different [gender] identities” within the LGBT community. Not to be outdone, Northwestern University’s THRIVE Program created a graphic that names 40 gender identities. They claim these options allow different members of the LGBT community “to feel seen, heard, and celebrated.”
Although many factors probably play a role, the emergence of these “identities” is not surprising. Society has jettisoned belief in God. When you reject your Maker, you reject the one who establishes your identity. People, though, naturally want to belong. They crave to connect with a community of people who share their values and feelings. With the Maker gone, there’s an identity vacuum that begs for a new way to view oneself. It makes sense that the concept of gender identity was born. There’s a potentially endless offering of identities.
With no external Maker to tell them who they are, people look internally. Often, they tap into their inner thoughts and feelings in an attempt to create their own identity. They’re basing their identity on their internal experience, an approach that is fraught with problems.
First, it presumes your inner thoughts are a reliable source for determining your identity. Everyone knows that thoughts and feelings change. What you experience one day can differ tomorrow, next month, or next year. If you base your identity on your internal experience, your identity will change on a regular basis.
Singer and actress Demi Lovato dated multiple men as a young adult but declared herself queer in 2020 and then pansexual in 2021. The next year, she claimed she was non-binary and changed her pronouns to they/them.
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Problems with Preferred Pronouns

Some Christians say you’re not required to use a person’s preferred pronouns, but it’s courteous to do so if you’re asked. It’s simply a matter of being a kind Christian. Whether it’s courteous or kind to comply, however, depends on the nature of what is being asked of you. Complying with a transgender person’s request might seem like a minor change in your behavior, but it’s not. 

All we’re being asked to do is change one word. It’s a simple request. Just use a different pronoun. It might seem like a no-brainer for a believer to comply. Why cause unnecessary tension by refusing a request to be courteous?
Even some Christians encourage the church to practice “pronoun hospitality” and use the preferred pronouns of a person who identifies as transgender. They believe it’s a simple act of kindness that engenders relationship and avoids unnecessary distress in a transgender person’s mental health.
But it’s not that simple. It’s not that we don’t want to be kind or are indifferent about their well-being. Rather, it’s because we care about truth, fidelity to God, and their well-being that many believers abstain from this social ritual. Here are some things to consider.
First, it’s important to distinguish between using preferred pronouns and using preferred names. Here’s why. Names are a matter of convention, something that is a subjective preference. Pronouns, however, are not a matter of convention but are a reference to objective reality (biological sex). That’s why they can’t be chosen.
To say that names are a matter of convention means that names can be chosen because they are not inherent to who a person is. For example, traffic light colors are also a matter of convention. Green means go and red means stop. It’s possible our society could have determined different meanings for traffic light colors—red meaning go and green meaning stop. There’s nothing inherent about green that means go. It was simply a matter of preference (a convention) that green was chosen for go, but it could have been otherwise.
In the same way, names are a matter of convention. My wife and I considered naming our daughter Anya, but we ended up choosing Sarah. Either one would have worked. There’s nothing inherent about the name Sarah that refers to our daughter. Furthermore, our daughter could one day change her name to Shelly if she desired. That’s because names are a matter determined by preference and can be chosen.
For this reason, I can abide by a person’s preferred name. In many cases, I don’t have any other option since they decide what name to share with me. I understand some parents insist on using their child’s given name because of the uniqueness of the relationship. I’m not arguing that preferred names should be used, but that they can be used.
I don’t use a person’s preferred pronouns, however, since pronouns refer to an objective reality—one’s biological sex. Whether you are male or female isn’t a matter determined by preference and, therefore, can’t be chosen.
For example, age is also a biological reality and not chosen. Dutch positivity guru and television personality Emile Ratelband decided to identify as a 49-year-old when he was in his late sixties. No one should be obligated to refer to him as the younger age because age is a biological reality that can’t be changed and is therefore not a matter of preference. In the same way, sex is a biological reality that also can’t be changed and also is not a matter of preference. Using a pronoun that refers to a person’s chosen sexual identity is like using a number to refer to person’s chosen age. Both are illegitimate because neither age nor sex is a matter determined by choice.
Some people, however, claim that language evolves and pronouns can now refer not only to biology but also to “gender identity” (a person’s internal sense of what “gender” they believe themselves to be). Though that might be believed by a segment of society, there is also another large portion of the population that doesn’t accept that shift in language. In fact, they believe words matter and allowing/collaborating with the change in what a pronoun refers to is a problem. They don’t see the attempt to change language to embrace transgender ideology as benign.
Second, when talking to a person, you don’t use their pronouns. You just use their name (“Kaitlyn, can you meet for coffee?”) or “you” (“You did an amazing job”) to refer to them. In other words, declining to go along with a person’s preferred pronouns will not likely upset that person since they’re not usually present when you use their pronouns.
Pronouns are most often used when you’re talking about someone with another person.
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What Is a Woman?

Though our culture is confused, we don’t have to be in doubt. You can know the truth and not be pressured into adopting modern reinventions. God has made the definition of a woman clear through both special revelation (Scripture) and general revelation (creation). He made her. He made him too. Male and female he created them.
The year 2022 signaled the start of a surprising controversy over how to answer the question “What is a woman?” It’s surprising because until the last few seconds of human history, the answer was never in question. With the rise of the “trans women are women” mantra, many people seem to be in doubt.
In March of 2022, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to define a woman when asked. Her response: “I’m not a biologist.” Does that presume only biologists know the answer? Many educated scientists squirm when pressed to define a woman because if their answer is “an adult human female,” that disqualifies biological men who “identify” as women. Being politically incorrect, that answer would jeopardize their reputation and possibly end their careers.
Numerous definitions for “woman” have surfaced over the last few years. I’ve noticed that these definitions fall into one of three categories: They’re either circular, absurd, or accurate.
First, some definitions of a woman are circular.
This mistake occurs when someone attempts to define a word but then uses the word they’re trying to define in the definition. For example, defining nuclear power as “energy derived from a nuclear source” is circular because the word you’re trying to explain, “nuclear,” is used in the definition. Transgender advocates often make the same mistake when they define a woman. They claim, “A woman is anyone who identifies as a woman.” That definition is circular. After all, what is that thing—a “woman”—that the person is identifying as? They need to avoid the term “woman” in their definition if they want to provide a meaningful explanation.
Second, some definitions of a woman are absurd.
Cambridge Dictionary has recently amended its definition of a woman: “An adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” Notice they’ve replaced “woman” with “female.” Though this averts a circular definition, it creates a new problem. “Female” is a reference to biology—a person who has XX chromosomes and reproductive organs that make bearing children possible. What does it mean for a man, who has XY chromosomes, to identify as a person who possesses ovaries, a uterus, and breasts when he doesn’t? It’s absurd.
This is similar to when 69-year-old Dutch TV personality Emile Ratelband decided to identify as a 49-year-old and demanded the courts change his legal age. It’s absurd. No amount of sincerity, hormones, or surgical intervention can make him younger. He can make cosmetic changes to his body that make him look younger, but he’ll never become younger. That’s because age is a biological reality that can’t be changed. In the same way, a person’s sex is a biological reality that can’t be changed. A man can make cosmetic changes to his body to make him look like a woman, but he’ll never become a woman.
The other problem with Cambridge’s new definition is that a woman can now be someone who had a “different sex at birth.” What sex might that be? Male. That means a woman can now be defined as someone who was the opposite of a woman—a man. This is absurd because it makes the word “woman” meaningless when someone who is the opposite sex can be a woman. It’s like saying parallel can be defined as perpendicular lines. Such confused definitions reduce the meaning of words to absurdity.
Third, some definitions of a woman are accurate.
Prior to the last few seconds of human history, defining a woman was uncontroversial. People accepted the dictionary definition: an adult human female. They recognized that women have XX chromosomes, while men have XY chromosomes. Though this definition is accurate, it has some liabilities.
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How to Evangelize with Humility

If we lack humility when we share the gospel, that’s a problem. A prideful attitude will affect the manner in which you share your convictions. That’s not good. Remember, though, you’re an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), and you’re called to present the truth in a persuasive and gracious way.

If you believe someone is mistaken about an important matter, are you more likely to come across as arrogant? Do you find yourself lacking humility in those conversations?
I was recently asked what believers can do to remain humble when they engage non-believers. After all, I was told, Christians think non-believers are mistaken about Jesus. Is there a solution that will help believers evangelize with humility? Three quick thoughts come to mind.
First, the Bible commands believers to be humble.
Philippians 2:3–8 tells us, “With humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” The passage later tells believers to have the same attitude as Christ, who “humbled himself.” First Peter 5:5–6 commands younger men in this way: “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” and “humble yourselves.” Scripture routinely reminds us that humility should characterize our attitude in various situations, and so it seems reasonable to think that such an attitude should carry over into other areas of our life, including evangelism.
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Unborn Images Matter

The Guardian’sarticle and imagery suggests there are no human body parts at nine weeks development. That’s not true. The irony is that the article is guilty of the deception it castigates.

Abortionist Dr. Joan Fleischman says she sometimes shows her patients the pregnancy tissue she removes after an abortion. She says that post-abortive women are “stunned by what it actually looks like,” and the women “feel they’ve been deceived.”
Her testimony was recently reported by The Guardian in a story about “What a pregnancy actually looks like before 10 weeks—in pictures.” The article contains pictures of a “pregnancy” at four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine weeks.
When I saw the pictures, I was stunned as well. Not only could I not believe my eyes, but I also couldn’t believe the dishonesty of this story. Why? See for yourself. Here is the image the article labeled as “Nine weeks of pregnancy.”
It’s surprising because the image doesn’t show anything resembling a tiny person or even what one would imagine looks like a tiny embryo. All you can see is what appears like wet cotton material floating in a petri dish.
It’s no wonder the article slams pro-lifers for propping up images that, as Dr. Fleischman claims, lead women to expect “to see a little fetus with hands—a developed, miniature baby.” After seeing the tissue, women respond with, “You’re kidding. This is all that was?”
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Who Says Who We Are—Man or Maker?

There’s an endless set of principles and prohibitions that are conveniently written down by our Maker and made available in our “owner’s manual.” Could it be any better? Despite the easy access to our Maker’s teaching, Christians often look for ways to sidestep his precepts. We’re tempted to believe anyone other than our Maker when it comes to how to live, how to identify, and how to behave sexually. Maybe we think we know better, but it seems we want to listen to man to justify our penchant for sin.

Whenever I watch an ad for a GoPro camera, my life feels boring. If you don’t know, GoPro is the company that makes those tiny video cameras that capture footage of extreme sports. Their promotional videos show people surfing massive swells, skiing off cliffs, and jumping cars—all while the action cam is mounted on their helmet, surfboard, or under a wheel well. It’s impressive.
But I have some questions. How far underwater can you take a GoPro? What’s the lowest temperature it can tolerate? What’s the best way to optimize its battery life? Is there a way to mount it so it doesn’t fall off accidentally? Any GoPro owner needs to know what this action camera can handle.
Who is the best person to answer these questions? Would it be a sports star, a news anchor, or the president of the United States? None of them is qualified, obviously. The best people to answer my questions would be the engineers at GoPro. They’re the ones who decided what materials to use, designed the device, and fabricated it. They know its limits and how to optimize its performance. After all, they’re the makers of the GoPro camera.
That’s why every GoPro camera comes with an owner’s manual that’s informed by the makers of the device. It tells the camera owner how far underwater you can take it, what temperatures it can tolerate, how to optimize its battery life, and many more important limits and features. Failure to heed the directions in the owner’s manual will lead to damage or catastrophic failure.
In the same way, there are a lot of questions we humans have about ourselves. How are we made to function? How should we build relationships like friendships and marriages? Should there be any boundaries for sexual activity?
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Gay Idioms Don’t Time Travel

Pro-gay theology advocates have tried to undermine the historic Christian teaching on sexuality for decades. The problem with their approach has often been their inability to follow commonsense interpretive rules that help determine the meaning of any text, not just the Bible. When they violate these rules, they can make Scripture say anything.

“Did you know that Jesus helped his friend come out?” That’s how one pro-gay theology activist starts his video. Then he shares a New Testament passage in which Jesus supposedly tells LGBT people to come out of the closet and show their true selves, implying that Jesus affirms living a life satisfying LGBT desires. Before we get to the passage, we need to unpack how to interpret an important literary device: the idiom.
An idiom is a phrase whose meaning can’t be deduced from the individual words. For example, if I say, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” you know I mean it’s raining hard, not that felines and canines are falling from the sky. Notice the meaning of the phrase doesn’t emerge from the words “cats and dogs.” Rather, the combination of words has an established usage that’s understood by modern English speakers.
Idioms, however, lose their meaning when they are translated into another language, moved to a different culture, or transported to another time period. If I translate “It’s raining cats and dogs” into Russian, the phrase will lose its meaning. You would have to use a different group of words that carries the same meaning in Russian. It’s also possible that in 2,000 years (assuming the English language remains), the phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs” will no longer be understood to mean it’s raining hard.
That’s why it’s important to remember the Bible was not written in English, in our culture, or in a remotely similar time period. Biblical languages have their own figures of speech, and, most relevant to my point, idioms don’t time travel. Words used to create idioms back in the first century don’t mean the same thing today and vice versa. Sometimes, though, a reader today will see a group of words in Scripture and interpret them through the lens of modern English when the biblical author neither used English words nor meant to communicate the idiom they have in mind.
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