And as in all areas of Christian discipleship, Jesus gives us the perfect example of what this looks like. In particular, His prayer to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane shows us the way. Jesus’ words on the night He was betrayed are some of His most remembered, as He prays “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). I want us to examine these words carefully because they give us three important insights into living in submission to the will of God.
The first thing to notice about Jesus’ example is how they express His relationship with His Father. This is a dynamic relationship in which Jesus talks with His Father, makes requests of His Father, and expresses His desires and fears to His Father as He walks through life.
It is significant, I think, that Christ has talked of His coming death throughout the Gospels. He has even said that the whole reason He came was to give His life as a ransom for many. So, given how completely His mission and identity as an incarnate man are tied to His death, it might be surprising that Jesus would pray here, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39). But surely this is nothing less than an honest prayer as the cross looms right ahead. This is an example of Jesus, in His humanity, laying His heart bare before His father in perfect holiness as He stares suffering in the face. That honest dialogue is part of Jesus’ relationship with His Father, and such regular dialogue should be found in us, too, as we navigate the details of our lives in relationship with our heavenly Father.
The second thing to notice about Jesus’ example is how quickly and repeatedly He expresses His willingness to submit to His Father’s will. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ prayer in the garden, Jesus prays three separate times. And all three times Christ prays, He ends each prayer with the same thought: “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. . . . Your will be done” (Matt. 26:39, 42).
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By Campbell Markham — 4 months ago
The memory of those rivers of blood…makes nature tremble. — Antoine Court, 1756
A boulder toppling into a stream may alter and direct its course ever after. In the same way, certain historical events have changed and channelled the culture and mindset of entire peoples for many centuries. You cannot understand the English apart from 1066, Gloriana, Waterloo, and the Blitz. You cannot understand an American apart from the Pilgrim Fathers, the War of Independence, Gettysburg, and Pearl Harbor. You cannot understand an Australian apart from the Endeavour, Burke and Wills, the Ashes, and Gallipoli.
Marie Durand’s eighteenth-century church community cannot be understood apart from the sixteenth-century French Religious Wars, the Saint Bartholomew’s Massacre of 1572, the Edict of Nantes in 1598, the Dragonnades, the Revocation in 1685, and the Camisard Rebellion of 1702–1704.
The “French Religious Wars” describes a series of eight civil wars fought out between 1562 and 1598. An estimated three million people perished, fifteen percent of the French population. Although the antagonists wore their inherited religious labels of “Protestant” or “Catholic,” social and political struggles were the true causes of these wars. A right devotion to the religion of the Bible—which brings reconciliation with God and our enemies—would have extinguished the flames of war.
French Protestants saw these wars as the necessary armed defense of their property and lives from Catholic aggression, of their right to live and worship as Protestants. French Protestant scholars agonized over God’s purposes in these violent struggles and what form resistance should take: whether to passively and patiently suffer persecution, whether to take up arms against tyranny, or whether to flee. This practical-theological struggle continued well into the eighteenth century and is manifest in a number of Marie Durand’s letters and the dreadful decisions that she was required to make.
The Fourth Religious War erupted from the Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, which commenced on August 24, 1572. This tragedy needs special mention because of the deep mark it left on both the Huguenot psyche and Catholic-Protestant relations for many generations. Certainly, its reverberations were felt by Marie Durand’s community in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Antoine Court, for example, the leader of the restoration of the Protestant church in France from 1715, wrote in 1756 about “the memory of those rivers of blood […] of that Saint Bartholomew’s Day, the thought alone of which makes nature tremble.” Louis Bourgeon, a specialist on the Massacre, wrote in 1987 how its scale and ferocity had left its mark well beyond the eighteenth century: “The history of Saint Bartholomew’s continues to this day to be the cause of a spirit of passion, conscious or not.”
By Leor Sapir — 8 months ago
Roughly three dozen bills that would ban trans women’s participation in women’s sports are currently wending their way through state legislatures. If they are passed, courts will almost certainly strike them down as unconstitutionally broad. These legal battles might eventually make their way to the Supreme Court, where their fate would be anyone’s guess.
If a single image could sum up Lia Thomas’s victory in the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA swimming championships last week, it would be that of Thomas and the runners-up taken right after they were awarded their medals. Behind a sign with the number “1” on it stands Thomas, who seems barely able to conceal embarrassment at what is undoubtedly an awkward situation. To the right, noticeably keeping their distance and a full head or two shorter, are the runners-up. Their smiles seem no less awkward.
The scene resembles an eerie propaganda video, in which a jubilant dictator can be seen waving at fawning crowds who know their lives depend on making it all look authentic. Thomas’s competitors will not face firing squads should they choose to complain, but they will almost certainly face a social media pile-on (assuming that Twitter doesn’t preemptively suspend them for suggesting that transgender women are not biological women). Their names and reputations will be dragged through the mud, their career prospects destroyed or severely curtailed, and their place on the college swim team—and, with it, their scholarships—jeopardized. A teammate of Thomas’s who criticized her participation in women’s sports told a U.K. newspaper that she would speak only on condition of anonymity, for she was concerned that future employers might Google her name and deem her “transphobic.” Meantime, those who support Thomas’s participation in women’s sports speak their minds freely and without fear of repercussions. What was that about transgender people being powerless?
Thomas, argue her defenders, is both a woman like any other but also a transgender trailblazer. Only in the minds of ideologues for whom reason and logic are oppressive social constructs can these two claims peacefully coexist. If gender identity alone is what makes one a woman, and Thomas has a female gender identity, then her transgender status is simply irrelevant to her achievement. Indeed, it doesn’t technically exist. Many transgender people prefer not to be recognized as trans at all, as this qualifies their self-identification as “real” men or women. “They hate, and I mean hate, the word trans,” reports trans activist and child psychologist Diane Ehrensaft. And how could it be otherwise?
The Human Rights Campaign warns that “contrasting transgender people with ‘real’ or ‘biological’ men and women is a false comparison” that “can contribute to the inaccurate perception that transgender people are being deceptive or less than equal, when, in fact, they are being authentic and courageous.” This is a strawman wrapped in a non sequitur. Critics of gender self-identification do not argue that people like Thomas are “being deceptive,” but rather that they are themselves deceived. HRC’s use of “authentic” here really means “sincere”: transgender women are being sincere, not deceptive, when they say they have a strong inner sense of being a woman. But that sincerity is irrelevant unless one first assumes that what makes a belief true is the fact that it is sincerely held, rather than its correspondence to objective reality. Who, apart from academic postmodernists, believes such a thing? Surely not those who display signs insisting that “science is real” on their front lawns.
This question-begging contrast of biological reality with “authenticity” and “courage” appeals to the therapeutic ethos, that powerful current in American culture. Elite support for transgenderism was never rooted in philosophical arguments about human sex differences or new discoveries in the human sciences. It derives from a narrative that stresses the harm to a person’s mental health if that person’s gender self-identification is not “affirmed.” The claim that only affirming someone’s internal sense of gender can release her of her agony has been subjected to serious and sustained criticism, but activists continue to tout it as gospel, and America’s power brokers seem unable or unwilling to resist it.
The sudden prominence of transgenderism in the West owes in large part to compassion having become unmoored from reason, and to ethics having been reduced to compassion. The proliferation on college campuses of mental health bureaucracies is one the more visible aspects of the rise of the “therapeutic state.” When the parents of female University of Pennsylvania swimmers wrote a letter to the university complaining about Thomas being allowed to swim on the women’s team, the university responded with a brief note reiterating its commitment to “inclusion” and providing a link to campus mental health services.
By George Sayour — 3 months ago
Regarding the meaning of the Overture 15 wording: “This language if inserted in the BCO would not serve to disqualify a man who merely experiences same-sex attraction… it’s a question of how you relate to your same-sex attraction, someone who has repented of their same-sex attraction, who has denied it, is seeking to mortify it and does not claim it as a way to describe himself is the difference.”
It has been over four years since a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) hosted the inaugural Revoice Conference which promoted “Side B Gay Christianity.” The PCA has been debating the issues regarding Side B ever since. After last year’s proposed amendments to the Book of Church Order (BCO) failed to meet the 2/3 threshold of Presbyteries required to pass them, a slurry of new Overtures seeking to amend the BCO to address the Side B issue came before the 49th General Assembly held earlier this year. Three results of the Assembly’s deliberations this year is that Overtures 15, 29, and 31 passed and are on their way (as Items 1, 4, and 5) to deliberations and votes in the PCA’s 88 Presbyteries.
Since the close of the 49th General Assembly, Stated Clerk Bryan Chapell has shared his summary of the State of the PCA in various ways. In this document entitled “STATED CLERK’S SUMMARY AND REFLECTIONS ON THE 49TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY,” Dr. Chapell writes:
“Still, we have struggled to apply our standards to ordination requirements if a man pledges and practices sexual obedience but honestly acknowledges some degree of same sex attraction. Despite statements in the Study Report that attempted to clarify our stance on this, we have subsequently differed among ourselves about whether the same sex attraction itself should disqualify from church office.”
In this presentation at Southwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Huntsville, AL, Dr. Chapell explains:
“Here’s where we’re struggling, how do we deal with a minister who says ‘I believe that homosexuality is a sin, I will not practice it, I will remain celibate but I confess I struggle with this desire?’ Can the desire itself be allowed? And that is the present division, that is what we are presently arguing about: is the desire itself disqualifying?“
I strongly disagree with Dr. Chapell’s assessment of the current debate. While I cannot say that no one holds the strict position which Dr. Chapell describes, I am very familiar with the debates. I have had countless conversations with men on both sides of the issue for the last three years. I do not know of one single person that believes that “the desire itself is disqualifying,” and yet there is a very real and sharp disagreement in the PCA over Side B.
Dr. Chapell graciously spoke with me about his characterization of the issue. He was prompt to get back to me within a day of my contacting him, and we spoke for a half hour. Dr. Chapell was patient as always, and he listened well. While I think we disagree as to what the debate’s central issue is, Dr. Chapell apologized for not representing my position (in favor of PCAGA49’s Overture 15) as I would. He also said it was never his intent to give his opinion on the matter, but rather he believed he was accurately representing the debate. We exchanged subsequent emails and he knows I am writing this article.
I also want to say unequivocally that Dr. Chapell affirmed his commitment to the biblical gender and sexual ethic, the sinfulness of both homosexual activity and desire, and everything he wrote in the AIC Report on Human Sexuality. Those things are not at issue here.