Tag Archive - marriage

What Bothers Me Most About the Scout Debate

280px Boy Scouts of America corporate trademark

In the past forty-eight hours, my email inbox has been flooded with alarming warnings about the historic implications of the decision by Boy Scouts of America leaders to admit young men who openly claim to be homosexual. To be fair, I share the concern of many Americans that the sweeping change in public opinion is bringing forth swift and at times irrational decisions in this area. Still, I think the seemingly sudden shift in sentiment for all things related to gay rights has revealed a flaw in much of Christian thinking:

We shouldn’t be against gay rights because we are against homosexuals. We should question gay rights because we don’t believe homosexual tendencies or lifestyle define any person. Period.

When it comes to the Boy Scouts, just because a young man believes himself to “be gay” doesn’t mean parents, Scout leaders, or others should believe him to be so. He may have some tendency to be attracted to young men, or something in his past that drew him away from the heterosexual norm (and by norm – for the sake of this blog – I mean the lifestyle that over 98% of the population claims, according to a recent study.) According to Scripture, God’s plan for everyone is either to enjoy a single life or to marry someone of the opposite gender. So why do so many in the Church seem to be identifying people solely on this particular preference – as if we agree that they were born this way? Instead, why wouldn’t we treat homosexual tendencies as one variable of a person’s choices rather than his or her core identity? When we exclude someone from a congregation, or family, or Scout troop, because they claim to be “gay,” aren’t we acknowledging the lie that they are who they are and cannot change?

With all of the publicity over the gay agenda in the past six months, I think a lot of people are missing the point: in at least a half century of attempting to do so, no one has offered any substantive evidence that anyone is born a homosexual. No one.

In fact, one recent headline grabber related to gay rights unintentionally makes my point about the myth of the homosexual identity. It came from the announcement of NBA player Jason Collins that he was gay. Ironically, he might have been more honest to say he had chosen the homosexual lifestyle, since he actually had been engaged to a woman as recently as four years ago. Of course, he instead argued that it was his heterosexual behavior that was the choice, and his homosexual behavior was his true identity. But lost in the story was what I would deem the most important part: that Jason Collins has a straight twin brother. If homosexuality was a genetic part of one’s nature, after all, wouldn’t one’s genetic twin have the exact same nature? This is exactly why homosexuality twin studies have been a consistent “best kept secret” among the homosexual population: they consistently disprove a genetic factor. (See Schacter, Daniel L., Gilbert, Daniel T., and Wegner, Daniel M. (2009) “Psychology”. Worth Publishers: 435.)

I believe that much of the current debate is the result of decades of mistakes in the American Church. Instead of facing the issue of homosexuality with healthy conversation and an honest look at the factors that may have led people into this lifestyle, many reacted with anger, rejection, and cruel jokes. It’s as though we – and not them – really believed that participation in such activity completely defined who they were, and left them beyond redemption.

I also fear we will make the same mistake again with Boy Scouts. Our church hosts a troop, and has for many years. If a young man wanted to participate who was struggling with his sexual identity, I hope our leaders would welcome him with open arms – and refuse to accept that this is the only aspect of the young man’s identity. I’m not talking about coercive reparative therapy happening during Scout meetings. I’m talking about sharing the love of Christ with a young man. And I have tremendous confidence in the powerful influence of Godly male mentors.

When the next Scout debate comes along – the one over allowing Scout Leaders who participate in the homosexual lifestyle – I will be far more interested in the outcome. This is not because I hate anybody, or I am falling into the trap of core identity based on choice. It is because, apart from all of the PR efforts thrust upon us to the contrary, there is evidence that this could be a risk to children.

In the meantime, I challenge you to join me in looking beyond the labels and see the people all around us who are longing to hear about the love of Christ – regardless of the choices they have made or are making.

Christmas and Humilty

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What a wonderful time of year! Christmas brings feelings of joy, peace, comfort, but the Apostle Paul thought there was a more important theme of Christmas, and wrote about it in Philippians 2:3-8:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (ESV)

When we think of Christmas and Christ’s incarnation, we should be drawn to thoughts about humility. But the world’s definition of humility is not the same as God’s definition of humility. We often get humility wrong. In fact, Dictionary.com offers what I would consider to be an inaccurate definition of humility: “Having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience.” That’s not humility. That’s depression!

That’s what’s so beautiful about the birth of Christ as an illustration of humility: Christ did not have feelings of inferiority, but willingly placed the needs of mankind above His own.

Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines humility in a way that better illustrates what Jesus did at His birth. Humility is, “A freedom from arrogance that grows out of the recognition that all we have and are comes from God.”

Phillip Brooks put it this way: “The true way to be humble is not to stoop until you are smaller than yourself, but to stand at your real height against some higher nature that will show you what the real smallness of your greatness is.” (Quoted in Burning Out for God, E. Skoglund)

This type of humility is of far greater value to us, because it extends beyond mere feelings of inferiority to a call to raise the value of others, and measure our value against the glory of God.

Can you imagine what would happen if we connected the attitude of humility to our Christmas celebrations with the same fervor as we do joy, cheerfulness, and the like? Imagine how your holiday could be transformed if you chose to live out acts of humility among your family and friends this Christmas. What steps might you take to imitate the Son of God – surrendering your rights and reputation for the good of another, regardless of what you will receive in return?

Expressing and cultivating humility – the genuine kind – can can be an intentional part of our Christmas celebration. Here are three ways I plan to dwell on it in the next few days.

1. I will intentionally seek out others I may bless who are likely not willing or able to bless me in return, reminding me of the grace extended me when Christ came. For example, rather than telling people about our Singing Christmas Tree Presentation at Bannockburn this weekend, I will INVITE them to join me and my family at the Tree. People want connection and acceptance more than they want gifts or information. Connection is harder. It often requires humility.

2. I will take inventory of all the blessings and gifts I have been given, and then offer thanks to God for them. Gratitude is the antidote to false pride. (The 2012 BBC Advent Devotion is a great tool to help with this!)

3. I will ponder the humility extended by the King of All Kings, as He wrapped Himself in flesh out of love for us. How can anyone dwell on such a thought without a recognition of his own desperate need?

This Christmas season, I’m compelled to think that the greatest form of worship of Jesus my King may be to imitate His active humility. Would you join me?

Start your faith breakthrough now!
The spiritual barriers people face are countless, but they can be categorized into Eight Primary Walls. These walls correlate with the 8 primary breakthroughs that everyone needs.
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When bad things happen, I feel like I am getting what I deserve.
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I tend to expect the worst to happen.
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I find myself drawn to things I know are bad for me.
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I question why God allowed certain things to happen in my life.
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I am so busy that I find myself ignoring the most important things in my life.
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I have to guard against judging people when I learn they are dealing with tough circumstances.
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When looking back on my life, I tend to focus on all of the things I did wrong.
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I worry about the problems that the future holds.
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I find myself more focused on the things I don't have but wish I did.
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I believe God loves me in spite of who I am.
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I believe God is loving and kind.
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I believe God is willing and able to answer my prayers.
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I know a lot of people, but don't feel very close to many people.
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I believe God wants what is best for me.
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People who have hurt me in the past cause me to avoid some relationships today.
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I look forward to good things in my future.
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I am amazed at God's power.
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I feel with God's help, I can face any situation.
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I feel there is a disconnect between who I really am and how I act in front of other people.
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I believe the Bible has answers for today's circumstances.
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When bad things happen, I wonder if God can make things better.
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I am intentionally seeking to grow in my relationships with others.
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I feel strong relationships are hard, but worth it.
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I have too many of my own problems to deal with the problems of others.
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I believe truth is the same for everyone.
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I spend too much of my energy pursuing material things.
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I think God cares about the details of my life.
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I think that God will meet all my needs.
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I feel compelled to make the world around me better.
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I worry that God is angry with me.
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I have a hard time trusting people.
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I believe in an all-powerful, all-knowing God.
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When I am facing a difficult situation, I feel like I can solve problems on my own.
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It humbles me to think I can know God.
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I am confident God has forgiven me for my past.
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I have been wronged in the past in a way I cannot get over.
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I try to avoid temptations that would bring me harm.
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I have witnessed things that make me wonder if God is in control.
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I feel I can turn to God for direction.
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I don't believe anyone can ever know what is absolutely true.
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It troubles me that God has not answered my prayers.
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My faith practices are more about routine than relationship.
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I am willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for something better down the road.
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The possibility of gaining a good friend is worth the risk.
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I am willing to serve others for nothing in return.
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I am grateful for the things I have been given.
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I observe things that make me wonder if I should believe the Bible.
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People would describe me as a giving person.
Great you have finished the evaluation.
Ready to see the results?