The particular men that we fear or people that we seek to please may vary. But the temptation to do so is universal. And the Bible places a sharp antithesis between seeking the approval of men and seeking the approval of God. As Paul says in Galatians 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
A week or so ago, I was observing the way that certain Christians write, preach, and engage on social media, and a phrase came to mind that I’d picked up from conversations about race in America. The phrase was “the white gaze.” Popularized by novelist Toni Morrison, the concept has to do with one’s default reader or observer, the idealized audience for which someone writes. Black authors writing under the white gaze feel constrained to adapt to the assumptions of white readers, which are taken to be normative. As the entry in Wikipedia puts it, “Various authors of color describe it as a voice in their heads that reminds them that their writing, characters, and plot choices are going to be judged by white readers, and that the reader or viewer, by default, is white.”
Morrison once wrote, “What happens to the writerly imagination of a black author who is at some level always conscious of representing one’s race to, or in spite of, a race of readers that understands itself to be ‘universal’ or race-free?” No doubt he is suffocated and strangled by the pressure.
I thought about the concept, because it seems to me that many Christians write, speak, and act under “the progressive gaze.” That is, the default unbeliever, before whom we live and move and have our being, is presumed to be urban, liberal, and progressive, and thus, we write and speak in such a way that our words (we think) will have maximum persuasive power to them.
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By Mark Powell — 4 days ago
In a wedding the couple are publicly declaring to family and friends both their resolve, commitment and intention to a life-long sexual union. And they are asking everyone present to support them in fulfilling such goals. This means that in an LGBTIQ wedding they are announcing their commitment not to repent, but to continually rebel against the One who made them. A Christian can never support such a decision because the Bible explicitly warns us not to be deceived that such an unrepentant person will ever enter the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
A Vexed Pastoral Issue
One of the most vexed personal decisions Western Christians face today is whether or not to attend an LGBTIQ wedding of a family member or friend. Nobody who follows Jesus wants to destroy the relationship or lose the opportunity to present the Gospel to those they know. But at the same time, we want to both honour the LORD as well as not be a stumbling block to others (See Matt. 18:6).
Unfortunately, sometimes the Gospel brings us into conflict with those we are closest to. And it is at that point which our loyalties are truly tested. As Jesus says in Matthew 10:34-39:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
What this means is that our relationship with Jesus must come before all other earthly loyalties. And this is where our allegiance to Him is tested. Christ Jesus calls us to what Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously referred to as “costly discipleship”. One in which we take up our cross and we die to the applause of the world. Because this is what it means to bear witness to Christ in a world which lives in rebellion to Him.
Alistair Beggs to Differ
A social media storm obviously erupted recently then, when the well-respected evangelical preacher Alistair Begg, told a Christian grandmother that she should attend a transgender wedding involving her grandson so that she wouldn’t be perceived as being “unloving, judgmental, critical, and unprepared to countenance anything.”
It should be noted that Begg does not support gay marriage and neither would he commend Christians usually attending a gay wedding. But Begg suggested that he would advise someone to sometimes attend as a way of showing love and preserving the relationship.
Since then though, Begg has doubled-down on his comments stating that he “is not yet ready to repent over this…I don’t have to”. (This was probably in response to the article by Robert Gagnon which can be viewed here). Some evangelical Christians agree with Begg that the decision to go a gay or transgender wedding is a ‘disputable matter’ (i.e. Rom. 14), which should be left to an individual’s conscience. But an increasing number of theologians and pastors teach that Christians should not celebrate an LGBTIQ marriage by attending.
An Ancient Problem
The problem is actually not a modern one but was an issue which even the people in Jesus’ day faced. John the Baptist famously confronted Herod over his incestuous marriage to Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife (Matt. 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 3:19-20). John was both imprisoned and later beheaded due to his confrontation with Herod and Herodias over their incestuous ‘marriage’.
This is a helpful analogy in that it helps us to see the issue from another perspective and an angle of which we are yet to be confronted with, namely incest. What follows then is a ten-point summary as to why a Christian should never support or even attend an LGBTIQ union.
First, If a Christian Goes Then They Would Have to Publicly Declare Their Objection in the Service of the LGBTIQ Marriage from Proceeding
The Presbyterian Church of Australia’s Public Worship and Aids to Devotion Committee, outlines that the congregation—and also couple—be asked the following questions:
Declaration of Lawfulness
If anyone can show any reason why this marriage would not be lawful, let them now declare it.
And I require and charge you both, knowing that you are answerable to God, that if either of you know any reason why your marriage would not be lawful, you declare it now.
Normally there are only nervous looks between the bride and groom, as well as uncomfortable laughter from the congregation, at this point in the ceremony. No one expects someone to say something at this point and it rarely if ever occurs. However, when it involves an LGBTIQ couple the issue quickly becomes relevant.
Historically, the question was there to safeguard against the unlikely—but not altogether impossible—situation of either one of the couple being married to someone else at the time. Or, as was the case with Herod and Herodias, being a close relative to one another. However, because both LGBTIQ desire and behaviour is a transgression of God’s law, one would be duty bound to stand and voice his or her opposition to the unlawful union from proceeding.
Second, Christians Could Not Give Their Personal Congratulations
Following on from the previous point, even if the ceremony was not conducted according to the specific religious rites of a Christian denomination, a Christian could not offer his genuine ‘congratulations’ to the couple. As Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has said:
Remember that the traditional word used of those who are attending a wedding is that they are celebrants. They are there to celebrate the wedding. It is virtually impossible to go to … a wedding of a same-sex couple and go and smile and not give affirmation to what you believe to be fundamentally contrary to nature and injurious to human flourishing.
If you are consistently biblical in your thinking, you simply can’t go to a wedding that actually isn’t a wedding, for a marriage that you don’t believe is a marriage. One of the principles that has guided the Christian church through the centuries is that the Church cannot sanction and Christians should not celebrate weddings that are illicit or unlawful according to Scripture.
By Tim Challies — 4 months ago
A day spent purposefully, a day spent in bringing glory to God by doing good to others—this is a day that will bring pleasure, even as it brings fatigue, this is a day that will bring joy, even as it brings weariness. This is a day you can close by sleeping the sleep of the just, a day you can close with God’s promise fixed in your heart.
There are different kinds of tired. There are different kinds of weary. There are different kinds of fatigue that may overwhelm the body and overcome the mind as the sun sets, as the skies grow dark, as day gives way to evening and evening gives way to night. There are different kinds of fatigue because there are different ways you may spend a day.
You may spend a day in idleness, in procrastinating your tasks, in ignoring your responsibilities. You may spend a day in indolent selfishness, in giving yourself over to laziness, slothfulness, shiftlessness. You may come to the end of a day having accomplished nothing meaningful because you have attempted nothing meaningful, having performed nothing significant because you set out to undertake nothing significant.
At the close of such a day your mind will be cloudy, your eyes drowsy, your body heavy. But your heart will be uneasy and your conscience will be troubled, for you will have squandered a day.
By Redeeming Family — 2 years ago
Women are not inferior to men by Gods design. We have been made to have the knowledge and personal relationship with our God. As women, we need to get away from thinking we need women only books and Bible studies. Instead, lets realize that we are Gods children just as men as and should spend our time in theological study.
I grew up in the church attending every Sunday service, Sunday school, vacation Bible school and confirmation classes. I loved God and thought I knew all there was to know about him, but I was wrong. Throughout my life, I have learned that I don’t know enough about God and I never will. Each stage of my life has taught me that there is so much more for me to learn. There were times when I was doing the bare minimum in my Christen life and thought I was fine. But looking back, I realized I did not prioritize God our Father and I was not growing in Christ. Over time, I have come to realize the importance of knowing God. The importance of spending time with Him, and the peace that comes from a personal dependence in God.
Growing up, I thought that Biblical study was for the men, the leaders in the church. I never thought there was a need for me to know more about God. I never felt a need to strive to grow closer to him. But boy was I wrong. Women should be taught about God. Not just the basics, but deep theology just like men. But what exactly is theology and why is it important for women to know? Theology is simply the study of God.
Why the Study of Theology is Necessary
The study of theology for all members of the household including men, women and children, is not just a side issue of the Christian faith but is a central necessity. Theology is the building block of our faith. How can we follow a God that we do not take the time to know? Our God has given us His infallible Word to study to learn more about him. Much like children need to be taught the alphabet and phonics before they can read on their own, we need to be taught theology. Once we have the basics of theology we can dive deeper into God’s word. God has called us to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Our primary way to grow in our knowledge if we spend time studying him through the reading of his word, prayer and serving him.
If we do not know our God then how can we call ourselves Christians? Being a Christian is not meeting with God when its quiet, meditating in nature or singing songs. Being a Christian is about belief in Jesus Christ as our savior, being saved through faith and our relationship with God our father. Every other relationship in our lives will end. We will lose friendships, parents, spouses and children but we will never lose our relationship with God. You will spend eternity with Him if you are His child.
Think back to when you were first in a relationship with your spouse. If you’re anything like me, you wanted to spend all your time with that person. You talked on the phone, emailed, texted and hung out together as often as you possibly could. A relationship starts by getting to know the other person so you can learn to love them, enjoy them and serve them to your best ability. Our relationship with God is very similar. We need to spend time with him, getting to know him so we can love him, enjoy him and serve him better. When you have a personal relationship with God our father, you want to learn more about him. That is the study of Theology.