Change can happen—overnight, historically speaking. People may have condemned or mocked the idea that a millennia-old institution could be redefined by a handful of activists and revolutionaries, but here we are. The younger generation of voters don’t even remember what society was like before.
(LifeSiteNews)—Simply to keep up with the carnival of absurdity our culture has embarked on with the embrace of gender theory may seem like a pointless endeavor, and indeed, it is nearly impossible to review each new daily round of dispatches from the frontlines of the Sexual Revolution as it moves through our public schools and halls of power. But because we must live in this culture and raise our children on what we hope will be islands of sanity, it is still important at least to track certain trends.
One of these trends, and I have been detailing it in this space consistently, is that of normalization. What I mean is that we are very close to becoming inured to the sheer ludicrousness of the claims made (and now largely imposed) by transgender activists. We have become so barraged by news that once would have been the exclusive purview of satire sites such as The Babylon Bee and The Onion (which, like nearly all once-liberal outlets and institutions, has been thoroughly domesticated and has become what it once mocked.)
There are, for example, headlines like this in The Metro: “Ex-soldier exposed her penis and used wheelie bin as sex toy in public.” The first line reads: “A trans sex offender lifted her skirt and exposed herself three times in one day.” This article produced a wave of derision, jokes, and double entendre on Twitter, all directed at the fellow trying to pass as a girl while flashing his member about as well as those indoctrinated or dumb enough to believe this pervert was a woman. Comments along the lines of “women are acting so weird these days!” constitute the majority of responses.
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By J. Alan Branch — 1 week ago
Written by J. Alan Branch |
Monday, June 20, 2022
Biblical sexual ethics advocates a morality of restraint in which the best interests of both women and children are affirmed. Biblical sexual ethics entails the sanctity of human life because when the act of sex is treated as a gift from God to be celebrated within God’s moral parameters, then children conceived via sex are also treated as gifts from God.
Sexual ethics and the sanctity of human life are two inseparable moral issues. Unbiblical views of sexual ethics go hand in hand with devaluing human life, particularly women and children. If one treats sex cheaply, then one will treat other people cheaply, and when sexual ethics are cheapened, women and children become the victims of males’ unrestrained sexual appetites.
In the sexual revolution, the demand for sexual freedom preceded the loosening of abortion laws. Because the “free love” generation divorced sexual activity from ethical responsibility, it is no coincidence that the so-called “Summer of Love” in 1967 was followed a few years later in 1973 by legalized abortion. Liberalizing abortion laws is the logical conclusion to the abandonment of sexual restraint.
The sexual revolution claimed to liberate women from what feminists considered the oppressive confines of marriage. But unrestrained sexual ethics actually serve to devalue women as mere objects for sensual gratification, and this contributes to disregard for children. Sexual permissiveness has conditioned our culture, particularly men, to think of children as a bothersome intrusion instead of a gift to be received. The moral issues of sexual ethics and the sanctity of human life are intricately connected, and biblical sexual morality dignifies both women and children. To demonstrate this thesis, five propositions will be presented: First, various forms of unbiblical sexual ethics devalue both women and children by viewing pregnancy as an undesirable outcome of sexual intercourse; second, biblical sexual morality properly connects sexual ethics to the sanctity of human life by teaching that pregnancy is a welcome outcome to sexual intercourse; third, when pregnancy is a welcome outcome to sexual intercourse, women are dignified as being more than merely objects for sexual gratification; fourth, when pregnancy is a welcome outcome to sexual intercourse, not only are women dignified, but young children are honored as welcome additions to a family; and finally, biblical sexual morality creates a culture which is safer for women and children as they are honored as co-bearers of the image of God.
I. Various Non-Christian Forms of Sexual Ethics
To demonstrate the connection between sexual ethics and the sanctity of human life, first we must see how various unbiblical forms of sexual ethics devalue both women and children by viewing pregnancy as an undesirable outcome of sexual intercourse. Daniel Heimbach’s True Sexual Morality suggests four counterfeit views of sexual morality: Romantic, Playboy, Therapeutic, and Pagan sexual moralities. Each of these views are various expressions of an unrestrained view of sexual ethics, and each of them though different in focus share an emphasis on hedonism and moral autonomy. In none of these views is pregnancy viewed positively.
The first unbiblical view is Romantic Morality, which says all that is necessary for sex to be moral is for the participants to be “in love.” In this case, love is an amorphous feeling of affection for another person, and affection is expressed as sexual attraction. Heimbach explains, “Romantic sexual morality so glorifies the importance of sentimental affection in sexual relationships that sex is justified based on feelings alone. It says couples have only to decide if they are in love, and if they are, then sex is moral whatever else might be the case.” From this perspective, marriage may or may not be an intended goal. Just because someone professes love for a sexual partner does not necessarily mean he or she intends to marry the person.
Since the Romantic view is based in ephemeral feelings of attraction, pregnancy interferes with the excitement of romance. As sex is occurs outside of marriage, conception is undesired and children are usually not wanted. In many cases, a man will insist his professed love for his sexual partner does not include love for any children conceived between the two of them. Tragically, Romantic sexual morality destroys the affection it promises. As Heimbach observes, “God designed sex to create a total union between persons at all levels at once, but romantic morality tells individuals to avoid unconditional commitments and hinders partners from pursuing total union.”
Because Romantic Morality destroys the affection it promises, it contributes to the devaluing of human life. Love is divorced from a covenant, and instead is grounded in fleeting emotions which may or not remain present if pregnancy ensues. And here we see the connection between Romantic Morality and abortion. While there are usually a complex set of reasons which contribute to a decision to abort, a 2013 survey of abortive women found that 31% of respondents gave partner-related reasons as influential in the decision. To be clear, only 6% mentioned the father of the child as the only reason for aborting. But one wonders how the variable of an unsupportive father amplified the perceived reality of other stressors, such as finances or an inopportune time for having a baby. All this to say, not only does Romantic Morality destroy the affection it promises, it destroys the children resulting from this purported “love.”
While the Romantic view is founded in vague feelings of love, Playboy Morality builds an entire system based pleasure. As the Feinbergs explain, “[The Playboy morality] says sex is a natural human impulse or instinct. . . . Greater human happiness is attained if people can take whatever pleasure they can get from sex without the burden of moral guilt, as long as they do not satisfy their sexual urges by using a partner involuntarily, hurtfully or deceitfully.” Heimbach adds, “Playboy sexual morality begins with the physical pleasure associated with sexual experience and proceeds to construct an entire framework of moral thinking based on it.” Quite simply, this approach to sexual ethics says any natural impulse that produces pleasure is good and should be allowed free expression.
This Playboy Morality is reflected in many popular songs. One example from the era of the sexual revolution is Foghat’s 1972 version of Willie Dixon’s I Just Want to Make Love To You, which says:
I don’t want you, wash my clothesI don’t want you, keep a homeI don’t want you to be trueI just want to make love to you
In this song, sex is completely divorced from any sense of marriage — “I don’t want you, keep a home” — or fidelity — “I don’t want you to be true.” Instead, the woman is merely seen as a target of opportunity for sexual gratification with no commitment beyond the sexual encounter itself. Pregnancy is not a desired outcome and children are not wanted. All that is wanted is sexual pleasure.
Playboy Morality exhibits the danger of the hedonic paradox — the pursuit of pleasure for its own sake does not result in pleasure, but frustration. For example, Ecclesiastes 2:1–11 describes the hedonistic pursuit of wine, accumulation of wealth, aesthetically pleasing surroundings, and sexual encounters, only to conclude by saying, “And behold all was vanity and striving after the wind and there was no profit under the sun.” (Eccl 2:11) Pleasure, especially sensual pleasure, is an insufficient starting point for ethics. The danger of the hedonic paradox was recognized by Aristotle who was critical of using pleasure to determine morality and said, “It appears to be pleasure that misleads the mass of mankind; for it seems to them to be a good, though it is not, so they choose what is pleasant as good and shun pain as evil.” Indeed, when physical pleasure is seen as the telos of life in and of itself, one is deceived about the true value of other people and other humans become a means to achieve the ends of one’s own pleasure.
The third unbiblical view is Therapeutic Morality, an ethic of which sees sex as a means to human fulfillment and personal growth. Though not denying the vague form of love in Romantic Morality or the pleasure associated with Playboy Morality, advocates of Therapeutic Morality contend that limiting sex to marriage denies the single person of something essential to his or her personhood. Heimbach says: “Therapeutic sexual morality justifies sex based on ideas about human psychology. Sex is regarded as moral or immoral depending on how it relates to things such as mental health, personal development, or social success. . . . No sexual behavior is right or wrong in itself because what matters is a person’s inner sense of satisfaction.”
Planned Parenthood best fits in the category of Therapeutic Morality because they see sex as a part of any well-rounded person’s life, married or unmarried, adult or teenager. For them, emotional wellbeing assumes one is having sex. In answering the teenage question, “What should I do if I think I’m ready for sex?,” they suggest the teenager ask himself or herself questions such as: “Do I have a healthy relationship? Can I talk with my partner about things that are bothering me?,” as well as asking, “How would I deal with an STD or unintended pregnancy?” Setting aside obvious questions about how a teenager only a couple years removed from cartoons and toys is supposed to “deal with an STD or unintended pregnancy,” Planned Parenthood assumes it is normal and healthy for teenagers to have sex. The idea that one would wait until marriage is barely even suggested, though the group glibly adds, “And some people choose to never have sex — that’s totally okay too.” And in case teenagers do get pregnant, Planned Parenthood offers abortion as a coping mechanism. In this way, both young men and women are conditioned to see each other only as objects of sexual pleasure and children as a bothersome obstacle to human fulfillment.
The final unbiblical view is Pagan sexual morality. This moral stance can encompass vague notions of love ( Romantic Morality), pleasure-based ethics ( Playboy Morality), and vacuous concepts of human fulfillment ( Therapeutic Morality), but combines all of these ideas into using sex as a vehicle to connect with the divine. Pagan sexual morality emerges from the monistic worldview integral to paganism: “All is one and all is God.” Based on this premise, all humans are seen as partially divine or having some form of divine spark. Such religious language serves as a camouflage for radical autonomy, and as Heimbach says, “Indulging sexual desires is therefore good no matter what form it takes.”
Pagan sexual morality and fertility cults associated with it are clearly seen in the Roman god Mutunus Tutinus and his Greek parallel, Priapus. In Rome, Mutunus Tutinus was a phallic image deity with a shrine on the Velian Hill. The god was embodied in a sacred phallus on which the bride was required to sit before the consummation of marriage. But while the pagan gods were invoked for fertility within marriage, the diminutive deities of the pagan pantheon engaged in sexual promiscuity and there was no moral rule against the common practice of exposing unwanted children.
Modern neopaganism has revived the sexual ethics of ancient polytheism. Neopagan author Amber Laine Fisher proclaims the goodness of sex without moral boundaries and says, “Goddess religion and goddess spirituality endeavor to release us from the taboos of sex and sexuality, to untie our hands, freeing us from certain paradigms or ideals that we are taught to accept as normal.” And Pagan sexual morality devalues human life. For example, California-based psychologist Ginette Paris grounds pro-abortion arguments in a pagan worldview. In her 1992 work The Sacrament of Abortion, Paris urges women to abandon a Christian worldview and instead worship Artemis, and she considers abortion a sacrifice to Artemis.
Each of these views share the one purported rule of mutual consent. Both parties are supposed to be willing participants in the sexual encounter. But the tenuous restraint of the canon of consent is seen in the salacious revelations about Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. One of the most powerful men in the entertainment industry, for years Weinstein forced himself upon women. A serial sexual predator and rapist, Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault and sentenced to twenty-three years in prison on March 11, 2020. Christians grieve with and for the women violated by this evil man. But our grief is heightened when we see an entertainment industry which repeatedly sexualizes women in song and film, and catechizes young people into a culture of unrestrained sexual desires. And yet, this industry which communicates such unholy messages is surprised when a man objectifies and abuses women. When sex is divorced from a restrained view of ethics and separated from marriage, other people are valued only objects of sexual gratification. Women in particular become vulnerable targets of opportunity for predatory males. And for such men, children are undesired outcomes from sex.
By R. Scott Clark — 6 months ago
Is biblical inerrancy just for the original version? The substance of this question is whether our English (or French, or German, or Spanish, etc.) translations may be considered inerrant? The short answer is: yes, we may regard translations as inerrant insofar as they accurately reflect the original text (autographa).
First, let us define our terms. The historic Christian church has always regarded Scripture as the inspired, infallible Word of God. In the Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed (AD 381), the church universal confesses that the “Holy Spirit… spoke by the prophets.” We regularly see the fathers of the church describing Scripture as infallible, i.e., incapable of error. When we say that Scripture is inspired, we mean “breathed out by God” (θεόπνευστος; 2 Tim. 3:16). It means that the Prophets and Apostles wrote as they were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21).
This is what the Westminster Divines wrote and what the Reformed churches confess regarding the importance of both the original texts and translations:
The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by his singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the church is finally to appeal unto them. But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them, therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come, that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship him in an acceptable manner; and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope (WCF 1.8).
The original texts, the autographs, the Hebrew, Aramaic (parts of the Old Testament are in Aramaic), and Greek texts given by the Holy Spirit, through the Prophets and Apostles, are inspired, infallible, and inerrant.
That last adjective, inerrant, has been a source of controversy since the late nineteenth century when orthodox Christians of various traditions began using it to say that not only is Scripture infallible but it is actually without error. We adopted this language to respond to the rationalist (i.e., those who put human reason above divine revelation) critics of Scripture. For more on the inerrancy of Scripture, see these resources.
The final authority for Christian doctrine and the Christian life is the Word of God in the original languages.
The final authority for Christian doctrine and the Christian life is, as the Westminster Divines wrote, the Word of God in the original languages. Textual criticism is the business of deciding, when there is a question, what the original text was, i.e., which is the most likely reading or text in a particular instance. Biblical scholars have always practiced textual criticism: the ancient fathers did it, the Renaissance scholars advanced the practice, as did the Protestant Reformers. The questions grew, however, in the late nineteenth century when scholars found a large cache of ancient texts in Egypt. It is important to note, however, that none of the various readings substantially changes biblical teaching. Many of them, particularly in the New Testament, are obvious later emendations by copyists who were seeking to clarify something that they found troubling. Others were marginal notes that came to be copied into the body of the text. We have a marvelous treasury of ancient texts of the the Scriptures, and the Christian may have a high degree of confidence that within those texts we have the autographs, i.e., the text of Scripture as given by the Spirit through the Prophets and Apostles. For more on this see these resources.
Because it is Scripture in the original languages that norms our faith and practice, it is essential that our pastors and teachers receive a genuine education in the original languages. This is why we should expect them to continue learn and progress in their knowledge and use of the original languages in pastoral ministry. For centuries before the Renaissance and Reformation, most the ministers in the Western church lost the ability to read the Scriptures in the original languages. Indeed, to find an illiterate priest (one who could not read at all) was not unknown. In the Greek church, of course, they could at least read the New Testament but it was not until the Renaissance that the knowledge of Hebrew and Greek began to return more widely and to be taught again in the universities, where pastors were educated. The Reformed churches understood and appreciated the value of the knowledge of the original languages and expected the pastors to learn and use them.
By Zachary Groff — 9 months ago
From 1970 to 1989, Dr. Knight served as Professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, then the denominational seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES). The 38th General Assembly of the OPC elected Dr. Knight to serve as Moderator in 1971. In 1976, Dr. Knight transferred his ministerial credentials into the RPCES, and he later came into the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) as part of the “Joining and Receiving” action taken in 1982. From 1989 to 1994, Dr. Knight served as Dean of the Faculty at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Dr. George William Knight, III, passed into glory on Monday, October 11, 2021 at his home in Lake Wylie, South Carolina. He was 89 years old, having been born on December 16, 1931 in Sanford, Florida. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Mrs. Virginia Knight (Sergeant), their children George W. Knight, IV (Mags), Margaret A. Clifford (Ron), Jennie K. Rotherham (Simon), and Hugh Knight (Trish), and numerous grand and great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his son Vann Marshall Knight (1955-2013).
A graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and the Free University of Amsterdam, Dr. Knight was ordained as a Teacher of the Word by the Presbytery of Philadelphia of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) in 1961. Later that year, he accepted a call as Pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church (OPC) in West Collingswood, New Jersey, a position which he held until 1965. From 1965 to 1970, Dr. Knight served as stated supply of Covenant Presbyterian Church (RPCES) in Naples, Florida. From 1970 to 1989, Dr. Knight served as Professor of New Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, then the denominational seminary of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES). The 38th General Assembly of the OPC elected Dr. Knight to serve as Moderator in 1971. In 1976, Dr. Knight transferred his ministerial credentials into the RPCES, and he later came into the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) as part of the “Joining and Receiving” action taken in 1982. From 1989 to 1994, Dr. Knight served as Dean of the Faculty at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
In 1994, the Knights moved to Matthews, North Carolina, and Dr. Knight accepted an invitation to teach as Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (GPTS) in Greenville, South Carolina. At the same time, Dr. Knight transferred his ministerial credentials back to the OPC, and he took up a stated supply position at Matthews Presbyterian Church (OPC). He later accepted a call from the congregation as Teacher of the Word when the congregation called Pastor Nathan Trice in 1996. From 1993 to 1995, Dr. Knight served as President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), and he was a frequent contributor to the organization’s publications over the years. In 1995, Dr. Knight served as President of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS). In 2004, he moved from Matthews Presbyterian Church (now Resurrection Presbyterian Church) to serve as Teacher of the Word at a daughter congregation, Redeemer Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Charlotte, North Carolina. From 2005 to 2012, Dr. Knight served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at GPTS.
Dr. Knight authored many books and articles (for a variety of academic and church publications). Some of his most notable books include The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, Baker Book House 1977 (revised and republished as The Role Relationship of Men and Women: New Testament Teaching, Moody Press 1985); The Faithful Sayings in the Pastoral Epistles, Baker Book House 1979; Prophecy in the New Testament, Presbyterian Heritage Publications 1988; and Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles (NIGTC), Eerdmans 1992. Among his many essays and articles for both academic and church publications is an important work on church government, “Two Offices and Two Orders of Elders,” published in Pressing Toward the Mark: Essays Commemorating Fifty Years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, OPC 1986. He has also authored a number of pamphlets treating topics of New Testament theology, church government, and the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.
Dr. Knight is much beloved by the Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary community. We grieve, but not as those without hope. Rather, we grieve and rejoice in the gospel for which Dr. Knight earnestly and faithfully contended over many years. While statements of appreciation and admiration could be multiplied to fill many volumes in honor of Dr. Knight, the following three remembrances from his closest colleagues among the Faculty and Board of Trustees are included here.
I have great respect for Dr. Knight. After I had served as Chairman of the Board at Greenville Seminary for a number of years, Dr. Knight joined us. His great experience as Professor of New Testament at Covenant Seminary and Dean of the Faculty at Knox Seminary made it clear that he was the man to be our Chairman, so he and I switched places. He stayed in our home on numerous occasions, and since he was a graduate of Davidson College, he and my wife also had similar memories of that institution. He was a most gracious, godly man whom I was honored to be able to call my friend.Mr. John Van Voorhis, Esq.Trustee Emeritus
It was a privilege beyond measure to have known and worked with Dr. Knight on the Board of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Having known him as a world class scholar was intimidating. However as I came to know him better, I came to know a man possessed of gifts and graces belonging to another world. Dr. Knight was full of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, and his character magnified the work of Christ in him. Holding his convictions strongly, he lived out those convictions with a gracious lovingkindness that endeared him to all who had the pleasure of working with him. Pastor Jeff KingswoodTrustee
Dr. Knight was the finest example of a godly, Christian gentleman I have ever known. He combined a firm commitment to the truth of the Reformed faith with a wonderful gentleness and patience. He was a brilliant scholar with a pastor’s heart. His contribution to the nature and development of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary was inestimable. As Chairman of the Board, he exercised a profound influence corporately and more importantly as a wise counselor and friend.Joseph A. Pipa, Jr., PhD, DDPresident EmeritusProfessor of Systematic & Applied Theology