Saturday, August 11, 2012

Should the Boy Scouts Change Policies on Homosexual Leaders?

Boy Scouts has also gotten a lot of flack lately for its policies regarding homosexuals - for its decision to not allow homosexuals in leadership roles. My response to this follows in the same line as my responses to the negative publicity Chick-Fil-A has received for its stance on gay marriage.

Much of the problem is that the stereotype of gay men is that they cannot be "manly" role models. They can be role models in other senses, but not in the more outdoor activities, rough and tough, brave, etc sort of way that the word "male" seems to imply. Certainly there are gay men who can provide models in these things, but it also seems to go with the territory of being gay (in many cases) that they are role models in other areas that may not necessarily fit what Boy Scouts is going for. There are other places to send your children for that sort of role model.
Of course, there's also the moral foundations that likely lie behind the stance, too, which is where the controversy really takes shape. But it's not discrimination if you're standing up for what you believe in under the rights that are entitled to a private organization. There are other orgs out there for those looking for more "gay-friendly" groups to be a part of.

Ironically, those who say Boy Scouts and Chick-Fil-A discriminate against gays are the ones discriminating against these organizations and businesses, their rights, and their Christian founders. Many liberals defend themselves by saying there should be a complete separation of church and state, that these orgs have no right to do what they do, but by standing against these orgs they themselves are putting their own opinions as law and forcing others to accept what is a religion in the sense that it is a belief system being forced down everyone's throats.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Misconception About Choice and Homosexuality

Continuing my posts inspired by the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

I had lesbian tendencies. During my addiction to porn, I liked the lesbian videos just as much as I liked the other videos. And it was, indeed, my choice to indulge in such passions, even though they never ultimately made me happy.

Of course, most homosexuals would say that their sexual tendencies are not a choice and that they are, indeed, happy with who they are. And, to a certain extent, they would be right. But let's look at this in a bit more detail.

Choice. What does it mean when we say a person has a choice when it comes to LGBT lifestyles? There was a time when I automatically thought of the lifestyle, personality and action all as choices. And, in one sense, they are. If someone holds a knife up to your neck and tells you to choose not act on your homosexual tendencies, you do have a choice to either die or change. But such a choice is not really a free choice, as it's a forced one. Still, the situation in theory allows for the idea that a person can choose not to act on those tendencies.

But if that person does what the guy with the knife orders, does the person in himself really change? No. His or her tendencies and personality remains the same at core. We cannot force a person to change, and thus, this theoretical person could be posited as being "born this way."

That said, at the heart of Christianity is a realization of the fact that we are fallen, imperfect human beings who ask God to change our hearts through a lifetime of transformation. Catch that? It's not an immediate change. Most of us will deal with our sins and temptations for the rest of our lives, even after recognizing them as wrong. I still deal with attraction to other females. I still deal with the temptation to think about or look at pornography. And some might say I was born with that tendency. I've had it at least since I was very young. But I've chosen not to act on those tendencies.

You see, you always have a choice. And that choice does not lie in what you feel you are. It lies in what you do.

I also think many Christians fail to realize that you can have the personality of what people stereotype as a homosexual personality and still be straight - still love the Lord - still be a Christian.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Can we compare the gay rights movement to the Holocaust and slavery?

Continuing my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

A friend of mine recently compared the gay right movement to what happened to Jews during the holocaust and what happened to African Americas in American history. 

I find it difficult to accept any comparison of the homosexual plight to Jews and African Americans. Jews and African Americans were slaves, were tortured, killed, not allowed to live in any semblance to the regular lives the leading "race" was allowed to live.

I recognize that some homosexuals are made fun of, bullied and even murdered for their lifestyle, and I'll gladly stand against such intolerance and evil, but that is not a majority and that is not the right that is at issue here, nor is it something CFA has attempted against homosexuals.

A note on the religious and moral convictions behind each of these: Nazis thrived on national socialism, much of which was anti-religion, survival of the fittest idealism. They believed in stripping away people of ALL rights to the point of murder and holocaust in the interest of furthering a "master race" that lived above everyone else. The Christian convictions behind CFA's decisions and the majority of Christian ideologies that exist out there do not seek a theocracy where Christians live over everyone else and force their beliefs on others. They don't strive toward a V for Vendetta world.

The same goes for KKK and such. To compare CFA to KKK is to say CFA wants every homosexual dead. That's an extreme comparison, and a very wrong one to make. In addition, the "religious" South that allowed and supported the slavery of African Americans had no solid Biblical support of their mistreatment of the slaves. Many manipulated Scripture and took it out of context to support their ideas while others were Christian in name only and didn't really give a care about what the Bible said. But when it comes to homosexuality, the Bible is very clear in its stance, just as it is clear about the evil of promiscuity, rape, affairs and the lot.

Obviously, we don't live under a theocracy and I don't ask that we strive toward that (although no one can make political decisions without some sort of religious or moral belief influencing them).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Is homosexuality natural? A Christian perspective.

Continuing my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

I do not want to compare homosexuals to murderers or other horrible people out there - that would not be right - but there are many things that are natural in this world that are not good. A person's tendency to look at pornography, for example. A man's choice to have an affair. There are many more examples. 

Just because something appears to be natural, does not make it right. Something completely natural can be distorted, as well, and still be considered natural at the same time, even though not perfect - not the way it was made to be.

Don't mistake me as stating two men or two women cannot have an honest, true love relationship. That's entirely possible, as proven by the gay couples that have stayed together for many years. What I'm saying here is more a statement on the Biblical perspective of whether or not that kind of relationship is acceptable and right in God's eyes.

I'm sure you already have a basic understanding of the Christian point of view on sin and a fallen world, so I won't go into that here. Besides, that part of the argument should be more reserved for those with theological inclinations. If you want to discuss it further, do so in the comments.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On Straight Vs. Gay Marriage

Continuing my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

On the argument that a lot of straight marriages go wrong, so gays should be allowed to marry, too: 

Sure Kim Kardashian's marriage didn't last long. There's a lot of divorce out there among straight couples. There's a lot of affairs and promiscuity among the straight. But that's not reason to say it's OK for homosexuals to marry. 

For Christians, it still goes back to the foundation of the issue. There may be a lot of people out there getting it wrong - all promiscuity is evil - but, from a Christian perspective, that does not overrule what marriage was made for, that does not negate the good, and that does not prove that marriage between a man and a woman is of itself evil or wrong. It's not argument or reason to allow homosexual marriage.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How can we take the Bible at its word when it seems to condone slavery and other acts?

Continuing my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

In discussing what the Bible says on homosexuality, I've come across many who have a misconception of what the Bible does and does not approve of. Let me lay a few summarized things out, then, for clarification.

Polygamy was never condoned by God, and the Bible states that God created man and woman, not man and woman and woman and woman. That doesn't mean people didn't practice it, though. But God used the weaknesses of man to bring about His will in spite of man's rebellion.

The Bible does not condone slavery, either. The New Testament does give advice to those in slavery to help them find some happiness and contentment within their obviously evil circumstances. But slavery is never said to be good, right, or permissible.

Similarly, bestiality, incest and rape are things that happen the the Biblical accounts, but the Bible and God never support them. Quite the opposite.

1 Cor 6 - "8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." Also check out Leviticus 18: 6-18 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10.

I’ve done my research, as have many atheists who have become Christians. I’m not going to base my political position on the gay marriage issue on my Christian beliefs alone. But when it comes to the Bible, the research has led me to believe it is all true. And if it is all true, I cannot go against it moral truths/statements, no matter how much I want to.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Do Christians Fear Homosexuals and Gay Rights?

In continuation of my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

Speaking of rights, it’s not too far off to picture a future where gay rights leads to the end of the rights of private businesses and organizations like churches. Heck, even I fear losing a job some day over my views, even if those views don’t dictate a bigoted treatment of others full of hatred. 

I know a lot of those who are pro-gay rights defend their position by claiming the rest of us are just afraid, that the heart of our side does not lie with the Bible but with fear. And while I don’t agree with that entirely, I’d say that fear is definitely OK and warranted.  

Fear comes about for a reason.  If I fear somebody who flouts his anger and dresses in the uniform of a gang, is it my fault if I fear him?  If AIDS became epidemic because the homosexual community spread it, is it my fault if I fear their mindset? 

People already lose their jobs over their views and Christian standards. Teachers are banned just for mentioning creation in a classroom (without making it out to be the truth, they just put it next to evolution as a theory, and they still get lectured and thrown out). Churches are sued for not hiring homosexuals in leadership positions. Churches are sued for not allowing homosexual marriages in their churches - pastors are sued for refusing to perform the ceremony for homosexuals. 

And now we have the mayor of Boston threatening to ban Chick-fil-A from building new restaurants in the are because of its stance on gay marriage? 

You lose freedom of speech when everyone starts saying that CFA needs to change it's opinions and stances. People are doing more than disagreeing with and critiquing CFA's stances, they're calling for change, they're calling for CFA to hide it's beliefs as a private business and accept what others consider right. 

Yup, gay rights aren’t the only rights at stake here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On Cathy, Chick-Fil-A, and Homosexuality

In continuation of my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

A lot of people have quoted Dan Cathy, the head of Chick-Fil-A, as saying that we invite God's wrath when we shake our fists at him and refuse to listen to what the Bible says about things like homosexuality.

Advocates of gay marriage are using what Cathy said to point the finger at CFA as an anti-gay company. My quick thought on this: Cathy's words reflected what the Bible says about sin. He wasn't personally condemning homosexuals to hell. He was stating the Christian point of view. And what he said applies to any Christian's sin as much as it does to homosexuality.

Now, was it smart of Cathy to put such words out in the public forum, speaking not just for himself, but for CFA and its policies? Probably not in terms of public relations. But please, leave Cathy alone!

On the Rights of Chik-Fil-A as a Private Business

In continuation of my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

It seems to me that the majority of gay rights advocates are exchanging one right for another based on what they agree with. They're denying Chick-Fil-A's rights as a private business by terming it a their protests a boycott and calling for change as apposed to just not spending money there because they don't agree with it. The business doesn't do anything illegal. It treats homosexual employees and customers equally. And as a private business, it has the right to stand up for what it believes in.

Obviously, we don't live under a theocracy and I don't ask that we strive toward that (although no one can make political decisions without some sort of religious or moral belief influencing them). If it were only my moral convictions as a Christian that led me to take my stance on gay marriage, I would be 100% for it.

But other things come into play, and when I consider that certain rights would be taken away in exchange for rights given to homosexuals, when I consider that the gay agenda does not just want tolerance and equality, but rather 100% acceptance equivalent to "brainwashing" (for lack of a better term) our children into believing homosexuality is good at an age when they shouldn't have to even think about what sex is (and such teaching would take away the Christian's right to speak up for what he believes in and to discuss that with his children) - when I consider all these things my position on gay marriage is not so solid and I cannot help but support CFA's rights as a private business and decisions as a Christian owned business.

Personally, I don’t think any business should be able to give proceeds to causes with more political inclinations like this. But if Oreo can stand up for gay rights, then CFA should be allowed to stand up for what it believes. As a private business, it’s their right. I know that the law puts certain restrictions on businesses, but this is not one of those cases, and to force CFA to change it’s policies is to take away its rights as a private business. I don’t ask that anyone who disagrees with them support them with their money, and I certainly see the negatives and positives of their decisions in terms of public relations, but when you go beyond just saying I’m not going to support these other causes with my money through CFA to the point where you’re protesting and trying to take away their rights as a private business, that’s where things get messy in my eyes.

And now we have the mayor of Boston threatening to ban Chick-fil-A from building new restaurants in the are because of its stance on gay marriage? 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When Gay Rights Advocates Become the Very Thing They Fight Against

In continuation of my posts on the recent protests against Chik-fil-A...

Strangely enough, some homosexuals with agendas for gay marriage often become the very bigotry, the very hatred that they so oppose, that they so claim to be fighting against.
 As my dad writes:
I find it hateful when people call pro-family groups "hateful." I find it intolerant when people call the same groups "intolerant." I threw away my crystal ball decades ago because it didn't work so well. But "tolerant" "liberals" sure seem to know what we're all thinking and are all motivated by, don't they?

I'm glad tolerance for gays has grown over the last generation. I oppose their political lobby, however, when it asks for superior rights. They have the right to marry the opposite sex. They want more. They want to marry the same sex. That's not equality; it's superiority.

Hatred usually results from abuse or from a cycle of poor upbringing. I was beat up by a Mexican gang in high school. I don't hate them; but IF I did, and I committed a crime against a Latino, I could be tried for a hate crime. Yesterday's "extenuating circumstances," as dictated by liberality, has become a "hate crime," as dictated by the same liberals. It appears to me that liberals don't base their positions on principle. They base their positions on whatever tugs their heart strings. Today, it just happens to be the G-string.
I've been judged as a bigot and worse before, and it hurts me deeply that people judge me solely on our differences and neglect to notice how much I care about and love the homosexual friends I do have.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Can a Christian Believe in Equality without Supporting Gay Rights?

In my discussion with others on the topic of gay marriage, especially in light of Chick-fil-A's stance on the issue and in light of Jim Henson Company severing its relationship with the Christian company, I've heard people say that you cannot believe in true equality for gays without supporting gay marriage. I have two things to say in response to that. The first I posted here. The second is this:

Every day someone disagrees with another person on something. Every day someone puts differences aside and loves and cares for another person despite disagreements. Such people do not hold grudges against those they disagree with. Those people do not hate others.

Yes, it is possible and entirely real that someone can love homosexuals, care about them, be friends with them and treat them with equality and respect, never once stop to think those homosexuals are beneath them, never once hold a grudge against them, and yet still be against gay marriage. Sure, that's not always the case, but it is possible and it is real.

A person can be against gay rights without believing homosexuals inferior. One of the tenets of Christianity is that everyone is flawed and imperfect and we have no right to put ourselves above others. The problem then becomes how you define rights and equality. While homosexuals fight for gay rights, there are other rights that CFA and the organizations they donate to are fighting for.

When I say that Christians believe all are equal and that we have no right to put ourselves above others, I mean we have no right to judge or mistreat others in a discriminatory, degrading, verbal, or violent way. But when it takes on the political and law-affecting issue of gay marriage, it becomes another thing entirely. Then it takes extra thinking and consideration beyond our everyday interactions. Then it becomes a matter of defining what equality is and what should be law.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Grudges We Hold Against Christians and Homosexuals

In my discussion with others on the topic of gay marriage, especially in light of Chick-fil-A's stance on the issue and in light of Jim Henson Company severing its relationship with the Christian company, I've heard people say that you cannot believe in true equality for gays without supporting gay marriage. I have two things to say in response to that. The first is this:

If you say that a Christian or someone else can have a hidden, but all too real, grudge against gay equality, evidenced by his opposition to gay marriage, even with their in-person treatment of homosexuals seeming to indicate a belief in equal treatment and tolerance, then it could also be said that homosexuals who say they really love each other and just want the rights that come with marriage are actually hiding a grudge against anyone who disagrees with them - are actually hiding a desire to smite out the ability to stand up for what the Bible says is right. In a way, homosexuality can become a religion in itself when it attempts to assert itself and its opinions as right and to force all those who disagree with them to accept their opinions as right.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Chick-Fil-A Refuses to Support Gay Rights - Protesters Retaliate

This begins the first in many posts inspired by the recent negative press Chick-Fil-A has gotten for financially supporting organizations that are against gay marriage. CFA head Dan Cathy admitted the company's stance on marriage equality, and now the whole world seems out to get CFA, including GLAAD.

I'm going to break my thoughts on this issue into several posts for the sake of easy reading and time to think. I'm still thinking about the issue, myself, so many of these comments will be happening as I go along in my thought process and may develop or change. But they give rise to discussion. Please, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I also want to add that, while I created this blog to discuss salvation and my former porn addiction, right now it is taking on things that are more current on my mind as I deal with what it means to be a Christian in the workplace, especially in a workplace that generally supports gay rights.

What do you think of CFA's stance on gay marriage?

Consider this your open forum before I start writing about my thoughts on the issue. 

I'll post links to my other posts below as I write them:

Can a Christian Believe in Equality without Supporting Gay Rights?
When Gay Rights Advocates Become the Very Thing They Fight Against

On the Rights of Chik-Fil-A as a Private Business

Do Christians Fear Homosexuals and Gay Rights?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Esau was a Food Addict

OK, so maybe the title of this post was a bit off, but it cuts right to the point of what I want to say.
In Genesis 25-26 we meet Esau and Jacob, sons of Isaac. We learn that when Esau came home hungry one day, he sold his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a warm meal. He must have been really hungry, or at least thought he was!

I know that's one of my major problems as a food addict. I don't go through an entire bag of m&ms in one sitting, but I sure do snack a lot. And I quickly fall into depress when I realize just how much I've eaten in a day and just how unlikely an improvement in my health is if I continue this way.

I'm just like Esau, giving up the better life for the satisfaction of the moment. And this doesn't just apply to food.

How often do we put aside God's better plans for our own?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Are you ready for a purity ring? Things to consider when buying a purity ring.

Are you ready to commit? 

I thought about buying a purity ring several times before I finally bought one, and I'm glad I waited. It was not until a desperate moment in which God changed my heart forever that I knew I needed to change directions, empty my basket, and buy a purity ring. When I got the ring in the mail, it came with a small card for me to sign as a commitment to living a pure life. Do not sign that card, do not put that ring on, unless you are ready to commit. Otherwise, nothing will change,  you'll kick yourself every time you fail, and the ring will lose its meaning to you and likely become a reminder of your failures rather than of God's transforming grace.

Does the verse on it mean something to you?

There are a lot of options out there that just have symbols on them, and that's perfectly fine. But I chose a simple ring with a verse on it because of the reminder I knew it would provide me beyond just having something solid on my finger. My ring says "Create in me a pure heart oh Lord." It reminds me of an old worship song I once sang as a child. "And renew a right spirit within me." This is the prayer of my heart. Having it next to me 24/7 creates an amazing reminder of that prayer when I am tempted.

Do you have a purity ring? How has it helped you?

What are your questions as you consider buying a purity ring?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

After the Addiction: Dreams and Nightmares

I think it's about time I got real on this blog. I've been posting a lot of intellectual, doctrine-focused posts because that's what my heart is after, and I'll continue to post on those things, but I started this blog as a resource for those dealing with addictions, and it's about time I got real and talked a bit more in detail about my personal stories (more to come).

Last night I had a nightmare. Not like the kind you have when you're a child and wake in the night to screaming - to yelling for your parents. No, mine scare me far more than that, but they keep me silent. Far worse than those back to school nightmares I so often have, the nightmares I really hate, the dreams I had last night, involve sex. My past, although dealt with, is so much a part of me today that I just can't seem to get away from it completely. My parents have told me that our temptations never go away all together, even with a changed heart, and we just have to learn to deal with it and say no to the sin. After all, it's not a sin to be tempted - just to act on temptation.

Originally, back when I was still dealing with my pornography addiction, my sexual dreams just peeked my interest and drew me back in. Ever since I made a solid commitment with my purity ring, those dreams have changed slightly. They're still sexual, but it's almost as if Satan knows he has lost and thus has opted to put aside tempting me in exchange for reminding me of my past and taunting me for my inability to control my dreams.

Let me stop you right here if you're having similar dreams. You have no control over your dreams. If you dream about sex, you are not sinning in your sleep, no matter how real it seems. Satan is attacking you, and you need to guard your mind. The best we can do is turn to God before and after we go to bed, making sure we always have His word on our minds when we fall asleep.

I had one of those terrible dreams last night. It always seems so real. In the dream, I'm myself thinking about sex and dreaming about sex, and I look at my purity ring and tell myself I've failed and then go on with thinking things I hate. Last night, in particular, felt more real than usual. I woke up feeling torn, like a failure. I had to remind myself that it was only a dream and that I cannot let Satan win. I must push on, as must you. 

Have you ever had any similar dreams? Are you sinning in your sleep? What steps do you take to clear your mind and keep from dwelling on something that is not real?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

God's Sovereignty is Like a Children's Book

GOD'S sovereignty is like one of those pick your own story books where you choose what happens next. No matter what you choose as the next chapter, it's always the same ending. His will prevails.

Remember Jacob in the Old Testament? He and his mother schemed so that he would get his older brother's blessing and inheritance. When Esau and Jacob were born, God told Isaac that the younger would rule over the older, but Isaac favored Esau and tried to give him the blessing instead of following God's guidance. Although Jacob and his mother acted wrongly, God used the bad to bring about His good purpose.

We find similar situations throughout the Bible. God lets most things take their own course; but He does place boundaries on enough select events so that His will comes to pass.

Does God know everything, past, present and future? What other ways are there of understanding God's sovereignty? How do you relate to the story of Jacob?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Amazing Grace Lyrics

In light of yesterday's post, which briefly touched on our complete and utter imperfection before God, I want to post the lyrics to the classic hymn, Amazing Grace. I love the film of the same name - even met the producer. There's a moment in the film where a group of men are gambling and gossiping without care for the lives of slaves or those less fortunate than them, and William Wilberforce comes in and sings this song - Amazing Grace. It's such a powerful moment when the laughter begins to die and silence resounds as William sings the song with a powerful, beautiful, passionate voice.

What goes through your mind when you sing Amazing Grace? How do you react to it?

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.
T'was Grace that taught...
my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear...
the hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares...
we have already come.
T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far...
and Grace will lead us home.
The Lord has promised good to me...
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be...
as long as life endures.
When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Undone by God's presence: Not one is righteous

I love the description of God's presence as disturbing - of Isaiah (chapter 6) being "undone" by God's presence as he realizes he is so imperfect and lost. Many people have a hard time realizing this. They think God is all about their revelation of love and refuse to see the truth because they're too busy justifying themselves as self-righteous beings.

As a former porn addict still dealing with obesity and food addiction issues, I come to this realization - that I am undone by God, but that Christ saves me - over and over again. It took me so long to get there, too. I can't tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of the night thinking my parents would be raptured and I'd be left behind because I was stuck in my sin. All that time, I was saved. I had accepted Christ in simplicity and was still growing in a process of sanctification. No one is perfect, not even after saving grace, but Christ washes away our sins.

Still, I tremble at the thought of judgment day. I know what I have done, and I know a whole lot more sin will be revealed to me one day. I am undone.

How should the reality that you are a sinner affect the way you live life?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Some agreed-upon facts and Scripture on Speaking in Tongues

Does Speaking of Tongues still exist today? 
Given my brief reference to the Speaking of Tongues yesterday, I thought I'd expand upon that with some basic facts and Bible passages to do with the controversial topic. Personally, I have a lot of complaints about the way certain (not all) Charismatic churches have used their beliefs in the spiritual gift, but I won't get into those for now - they can be discussed without specific reference to the Charismatic church. I've already stated my opinion on the gift, itself. I came to that opinion through the evidence that was presented to me by my father, whom I greatly respect and admire for his intellect and knowledge of the Bible. However, I have not heard any one extensive argument from the other side, so, for now, I will not go beyond the basic facts.:

The main idea here is to present what we know for sure, what we agree on, or what is already presented in Scripture. Many of these concepts apply to the gifts of prophecy and healing, as well. My hope is that what is presented below will lead you to do your own research and make your own conclusions.

Basic facts or verses that have to do with Christianity and the spiritual gift of Speaking in Tongues:
  1. The Bible does indeed tell us that people spoke in tongues. The existence of the gift is not disputed. But many question whether the gift remains available to us today.
  2. Speaking in Tongues is one of many spiritual gifts, which are not all listed in the Bible. 
  3. Speaking in Tongues is a spiritual gift that has little to no references in the writings of the church following the apostolic age.
  4. Spiritual gifts have different purposes and are given to different people so that Christians might work together as the Church and edify the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12-14). The flawed idea that you must be able to speak in tongues to be saved does not agree with the gifts of the body idea presented in 1 Cor.
  5. The 1 Cor 12-14 passage on spiritual gifts is written by Paul to the Corinthians. The context of the passages tells us that the purpose of this portion of his letter was to point out the importance of the unity of the church through love (which chapter 13 focuses on) and through the use of God's gifts to individuals.
  6. Tongues is meant as a sign - specifically it was meant as a sign to the Jews that Jesus was the Son of God and that His followers told the truth. 1 Cor 14:22 states, "Tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers." In Acts 2:1-4 we learn that a group of believers spoke in tongues to signify the Pentecost - that is, the coming of the Holy Spirit - the dawn of a new covenant - and to serve as a sign to unbelievers, Jews who heard their own languages being spoken. Later, in Acts 10:44-46, Gentiles speak in tongues, serving as a sign to the "circumcised" Jews that the Gentiles could, indeed, have the Holy Spirit within them.
  7. Tongues is for the edification of the church, not for the edification of self. That is why Paul points out that tongues only lead to confusion when used in the context of the church and used without a translator. He does not say tongues cannot be used in the church. In fact, he implies that it can be used within the church and that it can be used by the individual, but, as pointed to before, he does state that the gift is not meant for believers (so the implication here seems to be that the gift can be misused in other situations and places). Even when a translator is present, the message must be tested and weighed (1 Cor 14:29).
  8. Whether or not tongues still exists, God is not limited in what He can do. He can heal. He can cause a person to hear one language when another is being spoken. He can perform works of miracles.
  9. Even in admittance of God's ability to perform miracles, we must still line up what we experience and hear with the Word of God. False prophets exist. Satan and his demons are able to masquerade as the light. And we must ultimately depend on the Bible for our ultimate truth.
On a final note, I'd like to bring up 1 Cor 13:8-12. The passage plays an essential role to both sides of the debate. It implies that certain spiritual gifts ("the partial") will pass away "when the perfect comes." Christians debate over whether this whole refers to Christ's second coming or to the completion of the Bible.

Upon casual reading, the passage, itself, seems to indicate the former. But those in favor of the latter ask, Why do we still need prophecy and tongues? We no longer are in the right time for tongues to serve as a sign to the Jews, and, since we have the Bible, we have no need for prophecy or any further revelation in the way the original church and the people of the Old Testament did. The New Testament fulfilled the Old Testament, and we have no need to add on to it with prophecy and tongues. Of course, the opposition then asks, If the Bible is for all generations, why does Paul talk about these gifts in such a way? As if all his readers would live in a time when these gifts were active?

Now it's your turn to discuss. Did I leave anything out that you've noticed in Scripture? What is your position on the matter?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Searching out God's truth

Salvation is simple. But once you are saved, you should not and cannot stay in one place. We are meant for better things. That's why I stay away from feel-good pastors like Joel Osteen and search for teachers who will lead me deep into God's word, which I also read regularly, expecting that the Holy Spirit will lead me to God's truth through these efforts.

I guess I have a hard time understanding why a Christian would not be concerned with spiritual growth. Or, like a friend of mine, how someone can be concerned with only the feel good spiritual discussions. People seem too content with where they are - content to follow their leaders blindly, content to search out only what is beneficial to them. But we aren't called to live perfect, comfortable lives.

I was talking to a friend today, and somehow the subject of charismatic beliefs came up. I wanted to discuss speaking of tongues, which I believe no longer exist. She grew agitated and made it clear she did not even want to discuss it. I was not judging her or her beliefs. I stated that speaking of tongues is not an essential doctrine - that it plays no role in whether or not we are truly saved, and I asked her why she believed in the speaking of tongues in modern day context. Throwing me aside, she replied that it was the way she was brought up and that she had experienced speaking of tongues. She also said that there were some verses in the Bible that mentioned it, but gave no specifics, nor was she willing to discuss the context of those verses. And she knew from past discussions that I was open to the idea of speaking of tongues.

My friend is a very "spiritual" person, in the Christian sense of the word, so it surprised me that she was so unwilling to merely discuss. In this case, she depended on what she's been taught and what she has experienced rather on the Word of God - rather than seeking answers herself.

Now, I know others who believe in the speaking of tongues who have done their research. Of course, those who believe doctrines more clearly disagreeing with the Bible have also done their homework (you can convince yourself of anything if all that matters is justifying yourself). But in this post, in the simpler part of the issue, I ask, why wouldn't you test things according to Scripture? Why wouldn't you seek to grow in your relationship with Christ?

How much do you hunger for God's truth? How deep do you go in your studies? Are you willing to read the Bible for yourself? And are you willing to test life's experiences and teachers' claims with Scripture?

Simplicity in faith is important, but how important are the steps we take afterward? Is our willingness to learn and our study of the Scripture just as important?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Carmen Carrera transgender Cake Boss controvery: Caring for the LGBT community without compromise

There's been a lot of buzz in the LGBT community lately about an episode of Cake Boss that supposedly treated a transgender woman in a derogatory way. The producers had promised that the episode would be educational and respectful, but according to GLAAD, the episode did not stay true to the agreement. Carmen Carrera, the transgender woman involved, started a petition to have the episode removed. The petition succeeded.

A transgender friend of mine posted on the controversy after signing the petition. I did not sign the petition because I did not see the episode, and I find that things are sometimes taken out of context by more zealous LGBT advocates. While I cannot take a stand on this specific controversy, it has led me to consider what it means to be a Christian and to treat the LGBT community with respect at the same time.

We complain about the reformation of schools to include classes on tolerance, but we do nothing to teach our own children about what it means to live in the world, but not be of the world – what it means to love a person without accepting his particular lifestyle – what it means to support free speech and to stand up for your beliefs without becoming a bigot. 

Education starts at the home. If we allow our children to treat others with disrespect, it leads to a can of worms and then some. So while I don't agree with all the tolerance "indoctrination" going on in public schools, I see why schools have felt the need to create those tolerance classes. I won't get into my arguments against such classes here, but even if you're against such classes, you have to admit, there are a lot of LGBT suicides and bullying going on out there, and as much as we dislike their lifestyles, we have no right to violently hurt them - nor do our children.

I am by no means supporting Ms. Carrera’s lifestyle. I consider homosexuality, transgender, and other similar lifestyles wrong because I base my convictions on the Bible. But I do have friends who live those lifestyles. They know my position, but they also know I care deeply about them. I refuse to degrade a person in the way that so many do – calling names, allowing those “dude, that’s a man” moments such as the one on Cake Boss. I didn’t watch the actual Cake Boss episode, so I can’t speak to that, but considering the matter I ask myself, would I call the prostitute who gives herself to men  a whore (with hateful slur intended), even if she may be only living that way in order to protect her children and keep them alive? Do I know the stories of these people? Would I accomplish anything by condemning them as sinners in a rude, harsh judgmental way?

We need to start thinking instead of hating, loving instead of hurting, telling the truth in peaceful ways instead of mistreating a person because of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Light of the Tony Awards: Christianity On Jesus Christ Superstar

Meet me in person and it won't take you long to figure out that I have a strong passion for musical theatre. I've been involved in the theatre community for quite some time, and that involvement has led me into quite a few intellectual dilemmas that I play out often in my head. One of those dramas comes from a musical by a favorite composer of mine: Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Webber wrote the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar" along with lyricist Tim Rice, who has been quoted as saying that the musical and its creators view Jesus as a man and nothing more. I find this interesting because, aside from one particular song, the "pop opera" seems to covey the contrary. In fact, when Jesus goes before the authorities, he still uses the famous "I am" statement that clearly portrays him as the promised Messiah and as God himself.

The show takes certain liberties with characters, especially Judas, who drives the narrative of the story, and Mary, who falls in love with Jesus and has an entire song about how she doesn't "know how to love him." I have little to know problem with these changes. It's entirely possible that a woman could fall in love with Jesus. That love doesn't affect essential doctrine at all.

As for Judas, his character is strongly critical of the direction Jesus' ministry takes. His concern for his own life and the lives of Jesus' followers leads him to betray Jesus, and the show's title comes from Judas' misunderstanding of Jesus' mission and purpose. There are plenty of ways the historical Judas can be viewed. The Bible doesn't give us too many details, and the way that Webber's musical portrays the character is in no way blasphemous. In fact, Judas' point of view serves as the perfect example of the ignorance and misunderstanding that so many had - even the disciples (until Jesus rose from the dead and opened their eyes).

If the show were just from Judas' perspective, I would have no problem with the musical - not even its lack of a resurrection scene. The problem is, there are certain scenes that cannot be from Judas' perspective, as he is not present to witness them. One of these scenes, in particular, poses the essential problem for the Christian who wants to like this musical (and I do want to like it - I quite love the music, itself).

In the Garden of Gethsemane scene Jesus sings the song "I Only Want To Say." Take a look at the lyrics below and tell me if you see the problem.
I have changed I'm not as sure
As when we started
Then I was inspired
Now I'm sad and tired
Listen surely I've exceeded
Tried for three years
Seems like thirty
Could you ask as much
From any other man?
I'd want to know
I'd want to know my God
I'd want to know
I'd want to know my God
I'd want to see
I'd want to see my God
I'd want to see
I'd want to see my God
Why I should die
Would I be more noticed
Than I ever was before?
Would the things I've said and done
If I die what will be my reward?
If I die what will be my reward?
I'd have to know
I'd have to know my Lord
I'd have to know
I'd have to know my Lord
Why, why should I die?
Oh, why should I die?
Can you show me now
That I would not be killed in vain?
Show me just a little
Of your omnipresent brain
Show me there's a reason
For your wanting me to die
You're far too keen on where and how
But not so hot on why
Alright I'll die!
Just watch me die!
See how, see how I die!

Oh, just watch me die!
This one song presents Jesus as a mere man with no knowledge of God's will and no certainty in his purpose, a man without God's omniscience. But we know from the Bible that Jesus did indeed understand God's will, even if he also felt weak and tired and did not want to suffer the fate of the cross. Scripture also confirms that Jesus was not mere man, but fully man and fully God. He may have held back his omniscience at times to make a point or to lead someone to faith, but he always had those "powers."

Thus, unfortunately, much to my regret, I cannot approve of the musical. "Jesus Christ Superstar" clearly purports a view of Jesus as just man, one that contradicts Scripture and that contradicts other elements within the musical. If Judas had witnessed the Gethsemane scene, perhaps Jesus' lyrics could have taken on a meaning filtered through Judas' eyes, but without that, Jesus takes on a persona that is indeed wrong and contrary to Scripture. Furthermore, the answers to Judas' questions are staring us straight in the face. It's ironic that the creators of this musical can't seem to figure that out.

On the subject of Christian approval of the musical - I can support the creators' rights to put their viewpoint out there, and I can appreciate their talent displayed in the wonderful music of the show, but just because I support someone's right to believe in a particular political position, does not mean I am going to go out and financially support it or protest right along those who do support it.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

What it means to give your anything: Part 3

In Part 1 I wrote about the experiences that inspired me to be willing to give God my everything. In Part 2 I wrote about recognizing that everything we have we owe to God and should use for his glory. And this all started with Jennie Allen's book "Anything," which inspired me to start this blog. Today's post will be short, but hopefully sweet.

Recently, I was contemplating what it means to give God your anything when I came across John 15:5.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
How perfectly does this verse describe the exact thing we've been talking about this week? It's the perfect summary and pretty much speaks for itself. God is the vine. Everything we have comes from him. If we are to give God our "anything," we must recognize this fact and abide in Christ. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit "remaining" in us, directing us, prodding us, and leading us to the truth. Through his guidance and using the gifts God has given us, we "bear much fruit," that is, as we represent Christ, our actions have amazing results, even if we don't always get the chance to see those results become realities. Apart from God, we are nothing, we can do nothing. But abiding in God, offering up our "anything," we truly live and we accomplish much.

Friday, June 8, 2012

From Marilyn Meberg on Twitter: Victory in Grace

@MarilynMeberg on Twitter.

"The enemy has lost the battle for my soul but fights against the Jesus victory in my soul. If I lose sight of grace I become enemy target."

"I fight enemy with name of Jesus. Rev 2:13 'hold fast to my name' Phil2:9 'name above every name'Acts 4:12 'no other name.' His name: Grace!"

So true! Satan makes me feel worthless and unsaved, but Christ's grace assures me and transforms me, even in my sin.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What it means to give your anything: Part 2

The other day I wrote about my desire to do something big for God, about my experiences that have given me such desires, and about my lack of resources and talents to do such things (Read the post here.). I concluded that God has used those other people I've witnessed - he has used the resources he has given them, and he will use me. After all, God has a good and perfect plan for each of us. I do not currently know what his call is for me in my life, but I'm ready and waiting. And, as I wrote in my introductory post for this blog, for now, I consider this blog a portion of my "anything."

What does it mean to give your anything? Or, as in my case, to just be ready to give your anything for Christ? I'm currently reading Bob Hostetler's "Quit Going to Church." In it, Hostetler advocates a life in which we stop going to church and start being the church. In his chapter on tithing, Hostetler makes a wonderful point that applies well to our conversation on "anything."

Hostetler points to the poor widow who put two coins - all she had - in the offering box. Jesus said that the widow's gift was more than that of all others because she gave all she had. According to Hostetler, the tithe established in the Old Testament was very much so about recognizing that everything we have belongs to God, not just about giving money and property as a routine habit.

Hostetler writes, "The way of Jesus is not the way of the ten percent. It is the way of the one hundred percent."

We must recognize that what we have, however little it may be, is a gift from God to be used for his glory. We must be ready to give one hundred percent of ourselves. As Jennie Allen suggests in her book "Anything," we must tell God we are willing and wait for his call, listen for his voice, and then be willing to act on how he guides us, no matter how much it stretches us.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What it means to give your anything: Part 1

A family friend I know has a rich relative. His heart and soul belong to Christ, and he uses his money for that cause. I remember becoming incredibly jealous when I saw how he used the money to buy a huge mansion that he uses just for the community, specifically as a place for outreach to orphaned children.

More recently, I traveled to a third world country for a school project. While there, I held to my typical shy self (something I wish I could redo), but I also witnessed amazing people doing amazing things and a nation with joy in its heart despite its troubles. And I thought to myself, if only I were good with languages. Then I'd learn Spanish and return to this country as a volunteer at one of these great Christian centers.

At this point in my life, I don't have the resources or talents for these things. It hurts me deeply because I so badly want to become a part of something - I want to have the resources and talents so that I can volunteer for a month in a third world country or so that I can build a place for orphans to find love. But as much as God uses the witnessing of these things in my life, God doesn't seem to be calling to them. I'm at a loss for what God wants from me. I only know that, as I said in my introductory post for this blog, I am willing to give it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hank Hanegraaff Answers: Does Repetitive Sin Mean We Aren't Save

Hank Hanegraaff has a wonderful explanation for those who question whether they are really saved. In the video below, he notes that you can keep slipping on board the boat, but you can't slip when you're already sinking. You can slip on board, but you do not want to slip overboard. Your salvation is not based on your feelings. It is based on the promises of God. Watch the video below for more.