Tag Archives: Christian

A New Christian Cult?

Some proponents of the LGBT movement insist that it is compatible with Christianity. Is that true? Christianity is defined by the Bible. Does the Bible allow for a new or evolving Christian sexual ethic?

Early in the Bible God established his design for human sexuality. Immediately following the account of God presenting Eve to Adam in Genesis 2, God’s word says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh.”

More than a thousand years later Jesus was questioned about marriage and divorce by the Jewish religious leaders. In his response, in Matthew 19, he affirmed God’s original design for marriage. Jesus asked the religious leaders, “Have you not read? ‘In the beginning he created them male and female,’ and ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh’?” The joining of male and female is fundamental to God’s creation.

After Adam and Eve disobeyed God they were cut off from God’s presence and blessing. They began to suffer under the curse that comes from rebellion against God’s word. In the generations that followed, disobedience to God became a sad but predictable trait of humanity.

God was not finished with humanity. In Moses’ day the Lord established a covenant with the Hebrew people, his chosen nation (Israel). That covenant included a body of law that is summarized in the Ten Commandments. The details of God’s law forbade sexual relationships that departed from his established design, which was revealed early in Scripture and subsequently affirmed by Jesus.

The prohibited sexual relationships in God’s law included premarital sex, adultery, incest, bestiality, and same-sex relationships (Leviticus 18). Only the original design for marriage and family was endorsed: One man and one woman freely committed to one another for a lifetime. The prohibitions from Leviticus are affirmed by the New Testament. Regarding same-sex relationships, the letter to the Romans affirms God’s prohibition (chapter 1). We are warned that those who persist in participating and promoting such sinful behavior will be “given over.”

Jesus acknowledged that his appearance and ministry fulfilled certain aspects of the Old Testament law, thus relieving God’s people of their need to observe them. For instance, in an argument with the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus proclaimed all foods clean (Mark 7). Prior to this, certain foods were considered ritually unclean by the Mosaic Law.

Jesus never advanced any deviation or alteration in God’s design for human sexuality. Indeed, he never acknowledged any change in God’s prohibitions against murder, adultery, lying, and many other commandments. In other words, Jesus himself revealed certain changes in the relationship of God’s people to Mosaic legislation, but not regarding human sexuality. There is no positive statement about same-sex relationships anywhere in Scripture.

Any attempt to use Old Testament legislation about trimming hair, making clothes or planting crops as a comparison with human sexuality fails to recognize the special position of marriage and family in God’s plan and his word.

The Bible treats sexual relationships as unique. Although it is true that all sin is alike because all sin separates us from the love and blessing of God, Scripture notes the special status of sexual union. The letter to the Corinthian church warned believers that all other sins are outside one’s body, but sexual sin defiles one’s inner self, a serious matter for any Christian since all believers are living stones in the single structure of God’s temple, his church (1 Corinthians 6; 1 Peter 2).

Why should human sexuality be treated differently from all other sins? God’s gift of sexuality is meant to do more than provide for procreation and pleasure. The marriage relationship is designed by God to reflect his love for his people (Ephesians 5). A Christian marriage is meant to be a living parable of the love relationship between Christ and his church. The church is the Bride of Christ (not any one believer, but the church in total). The Christian wife submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. The Christian husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her, a love willing to sacrifice self.

Are faithful, loving, monogamous same-sex relationships true to the intent of Scripture? The “B” in LGBT creates problems with this proposal. To be active bisexually requires more than one partner, thus raising serious questions about fidelity. Since the L and the G stand in solidarity with the B, they apparently express approval of polyamory against the clear design of Scripture.

It is true that the Bible reports times when God’s people engaged in polygamy, but never with approval. In fact, God’s word always highlights the inevitable failures of alternative designs of marriage and family (see Jacob and his wives in Genesis).

Are same-sex relationships in modern times different from those in Bible times? If that were so, it would be logically possible that God did not address modern relationships in the Bible. This would be either a terrible omission by God (creating conflict among us unnecessarily) or evidence that God cannot see the future (discrediting his sovereignty). Neither option is true to the claims made for God in Scripture. God is sovereign and he made no mistakes in his word. His design for human sexuality stands, just as his prohibitions against murder and adultery stand.

Another possibility would be that God has only recently decided to reveal this new view about same-sex relationships. This would put proponents of the New Sex Ethic into the same category as Joseph Smith, who assured his wife that God told him he could have other wives in addition to her. Smith tried to make the case that Christian churches had been wrong for more than a thousand years about human relationships (among other things). He claimed a new revelation directly from God, one which apparently undermined centuries of Christianity.

Proponents of forcing LGBT on God’s church are in the unfortunate position of being another pseudo Christian cult, like Joseph Smith’s group (Mormons), or Charles Taze Russell’s (Jehovah’s Witnesses), or Mary Baker Eddy’s (Christian Science), or one of countless others. Each of these false teachers also claimed special revelation from God that disagreed with the clear word of the Bible.

Those who question the clear word of God are risking association with the Father of all lies (John 8). He was the first to utter the words, “Did God really say. . .?” (Genesis 3). In fact, the biblical prohibitions about human sexuality are stated in clear language. Circumventing them requires twisted and strained logic which serves to justify sinful human desires and passions.

The LGBT community insists on defining personal identity by sexual orientation. Followers of Jesus find their identity in Christ. Jesus calls on anyone who would follow him to deny himself, take up his cross, and follow him (Matthew 16). Jesus will not take second place to any human ideology, desire, or philosophy. His followers must renounce all idols, including sinful notions of human sexuality.

When responding to skeptics about the resurrection, Jesus surprised his listeners by revealing that marriage will be absent in heaven (Matthew 22). We may conclude from this that sexual orientation is a matter for this age only. At best, sexual orientation is a temporary part of our identity. Our eternal identity will not depend on our sexuality. For those who have taken the blessing of sex and perverted it into the ultimate goal of life and the cornerstone of their identity, Jesus’ heaven may sound more like hell.

The great missionary Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the believers in Rome, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the ways of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (Romans 12).

“Living sacrifices” is a reminder of Jesus’ exhortation to “deny self.” The follower of Jesus is not pulled through life by the ebb and flow of human desire. Jesus’ people find their pathway in life from him, from his example. Jesus was willing to deny himself of his very life in order to complete his mission. These are the footprints he has left for all who wish to be his disciples (1 Peter 2).

So what about the one who is attracted to the same sex? What is he or she to do? Predictably, the Bible’s answers have already been attacked, mocked, and deemed to be completely unacceptable by pop-culture proponents of LGBT. Nevertheless, like God’s design for sex, his word to those with same-sex attractions stands.

First, God’s word to the one with same-sex attraction is the same as it is to all people: Seek him in prayer. Don’t misquote me. I am not saying “Pray away the gay.” Despite the derogatory tone of this phrase, I know from first-hand experience that God has the power to change our desires. But God works according to his time table and his agenda. We must patiently endure. Prayer is not merely about persuading God to do something now. Prayer is communion with God which includes listening for his Spirit and gaining wisdom from our experiences in life (see the Book of Job).

Second, God sometimes calls people to celibacy. It is no surprise that worldly minds reject this option without any serious consideration. The world says, “Indulge yourself!” Jesus says, “Deny yourself.” Jesus recognized celibacy as a special calling in God’s kingdom (Matthew 19). The Bible envisions a church where most are married but some are freed from the commitments of an intimate physical relationship in order to invest more time and energy in kingdom pursuits (1 Corinthians 7).

Same-sex relationships undoubtedly include authentic human desire and affection. But human emotions are notoriously prone to manipulation and to unpredictable fluctuations. Human affection is not a dependable moral compass. In fact, the power of sexual attraction has shipwrecked many a life and family. Any who choose to “follow their heart” instead of submitting to God’s word should beware the consequences.

The ways of this world have always pulled God’s people away from his truth. Pop-culture in the West has embraced LGBT in a rapid and unprecedented way, sweeping away established cultural norms and laws about marriage and family while threatening to ruin any who stand in the way. To disagree with this New Ethic is to risk being charged with hate speech, a circumstance that reveals the intolerance of the LGBT movement. But we must choose between God’s word and those who claim that God’s word doesn’t mean what it clearly says.

Any attempts to promote prohibited sexual relationships as acceptable expressions of human sexuality misunderstand and misrepresent God’s word. Unfaithful relationships do not reflect the pure and faithful love that God has for his people and that his people are to aspire to for him. Same-sex relationships do not reflect the joining of what is different yet compatible, God and his church, husband and wife.

The writer of this article is sympathetic with those who find themselves attracted to people of the same sex. Human affections are strong. God made us passionate people. He is a passionate God and we are made in his image. But our passions are wounded by sin and subject to manipulation, temptation and deception.

If you are struggling with same-sex attractions, please do not despair. The story of your life is yet to be finished. We all struggle with sin. Sinners are not the enemy of the church. Sinners are the intended targets of God’s grace and mercy! God’s word assures us that he opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4).

If you are promoting the erroneous idea that same-sex relationships are endorsed by God and working to persuade others to agree with you, I urge you to reconsider. Jesus warns that anyone who breaks the least of God’s commands and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5).

Christ Jesus assures us that heaven and earth will pass away, but his words will never pass away (Matthew 24). How many popular movements that questioned God’s word have come and gone in the past two millennia since he made that promise? Every generation sees its challenges to God’s truth, but the challengers have always eventually faded away and they always will. Each of us should decide to build on the rock of God’s faithful and unwavering truth, not the sand of the world’s shifting desires and ideas.

Brother Richard Foster

Please note: Bible references above give only book and chapter. This is by design. Too often debates about the Bible’s message employ verses and even smaller sections of Scripture without due consideration of their context, thus misrepresenting God’s intended meaning. I invite the reader to examine carefully the context of my biblical quotations, testing their applications for faithfulness to God’s word.

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Christians are Prone to Wander

The Bible often pictures God’s people as a flock of sheep.  Apparently, God sees some things in common between people of faith and small wooly livestock.  How are believers and sheep alike?

One point of comparison is noted by Peter.  He writes to Christians, “For you were like sheep going astray. . .” (1 Peter 2:25).  Sheep tend to stray from the safety of their shepherd and his flock.  On their own, in the open, sheep face a variety of dangers: predators, cliffs, thieves, and so forth.

Christians also tend to stray away from the safety of the Shepherd, our Lord Jesus, and from his flock, the church.  Like straying sheep, straying Christians face various threats.

The New Testament warns believers about 3 spiritual dangers.  First, the devil is like a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour.  Second, this broken world is full of temptations that can entrap believers and shipwreck their faith.  And third, the ‘flesh’ is an inner threat, sinful desires that pull us back to a destructive lifestyle of disobedience to God.

To the believers who had once strayed Peter goes on to say, “but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  Of course, the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls is Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep.

Safety from the devil, the world, and the flesh is found in close communion with Christ.  And Christ gathers his followers into his church like a shepherd gathers his sheep into his flock.  In the flock, under the watchful eye of the shepherd, the sheep find security from every danger.

And more than protection, the sheep find provision when they are in the flock.  The shepherd leads his flock to green pastures and quiet waters, the necessities and joys of a healthy and enriched life.

Our Shepherd Jesus has come so that his flock may have abundant life.  Following Jesus, we find the provisions necessary for a strong faith.  The Shepherd and Overseer of our souls nurtures us so that we can grow in the grace of God and enjoy his blessings to the fullest extent.

Peter’s warning against straying reminds us that a spiritual downfall often begins in subtle ways.  Wandering away from the Lord is a gradual process that may go unnoticed until disaster strikes.  The wandering believer is rarely alarmed and often in denial about potential dangers.

James writes to Christians, “My brothers, if one among you strays from the truth, then someone should bring him back” (James 5:19).  As God’s people our highest goal is to be like Jesus, which includes seeking and restoring those who wander away.  Doing so is one way that we are his hands and feet.

A wonderful old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”  Knowing that God’s people are prone to wander, we should faithfully seek out those who do.  And if you or I happen to be the wanderer, we should be gracious when they come looking for us.

May the Good Shepherd always keep us,

Brother Richard

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What Is A Disciple?

Jesus has given us a great mission. We are to make disciples of all peoples. But what is a disciple? Jesus’ instructions help answer that question.

First, he says that we should baptize disciples in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. So disciples are baptized believers. To make disciples, we bring people to saving faith in Jesus and baptize them.

Next, Jesus says that we are to teach disciples to obey all that he has instructed us. Disciples are learners. But they are not just learning information. They are learning to obey. Disciples don’t just know Jesus’ teachings, they apply Jesus’ teachings to everyday life. To make disciples, we instruct them in living the Christian life.

So far, so good. But can we be more specific? In our personal evangelism classes, we use a working definition of “disciple” so that we know what we are trying to accomplish. Here it is: A disciple is a baptized believer in the Lord Jesus Christ who is attending Sunday school regularly. Now that definition is simple, but it gives us something objective to shoot for.

Once disciples are made, they begin to grow spiritually. How do we define a mature disciple? Our definition must be more comprehensive. First, a mature follower of Jesus will attend church regularly. For Grace Baptist, that is Sunday school, Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening discipleship, Wednesday evening prayer (or working with children), and any other ministry activities that are necessary.

Second, a mature follower of Jesus finds a place of service in the church and serves faithfully. Many opportunities for service are available: Sunday school teachers, greeters, musicians, children’s workers, cooks, counters, property maintenance, drivers, and much more.

Next, a mature follower of Jesus gives tithes and offerings to the local church.

Also, a mature follower of Jesus reaches out to people outside the church, looking for open doors of ministry, looking for opportunities to talk about Jesus. Part of being a disciple is making disciples, that is, helping others come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Finally, a mature follower of Jesus is someone who faithfully attends to personal spiritual disciplines, like reading the Bible, prayer, worship, and fasting. These disciplines are spiritual sustenance to followers of Jesus. Without a steady diet of Christian spiritual disciplines, a follower of Jesus will be spiritually anemic.

So our goal is for every follower of Jesus to be faithfully attending, serving, giving, sharing and growing in Christ. All of this is done in the local church. We grow toward maturity in Christ together, in fellowship, a fellowship which provides the encouragement and accountability that each of us needs.

Making disciples is an ongoing mission. These goals are never finished in this life. No individual believer reaches perfection in this age. We always have room for growth. And, no local church should ever stop reaching new souls for Jesus. Those new believers must then be grown toward maturity. And God’s kingdom advances.

So, let’s be disciples and make disciples!

May God’s Spirit inspire and enable us to do great things for his kingdom,

Brother Richard Foster

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How Can We Be Alert In Prayer?

Does your mind wander when you pray?

Praying alone in a quiet place can be a relaxing activity. In fact, it can be easy to doze off. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane the night before his arrest, he asked his disciples to watch and pray with him.  They fell asleep . . . 3 times.

Being informed can make us alert. What if Jesus’ disciples had known that an angry mob with torches and clubs was coming to take Jesus away by force? I doubt if they would have fallen asleep!

The Bible urges us to be alert in prayer: “With every kind of prayer and petition, pray in the Spirit at all times; and to get this done, be alert by using all perseverance and prayer for all believers, and for me, that a word will be given to me when I open my mouth to boldly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19).

Persistent prayer for all believers is one way to stay alert in prayer.  Pray for all Christians everywhere, those you know and don’t know, those you like and don’t like, those in your local church and not, those in your denomination and not, those in your country or culture and not. That’s a tall order!

There are tens of millions of Christians around the world, we cannot know each one personally. Instead, we must learn what we can about believers in faraway places so that we can pray for them.

God’s Spirit may stir in us a special interest for certain communities or circumstances. For instance, we may have a special compassion for persecuted believers.

Then it says, “and for me,” that is, pray for me. In addition to praying for all believers everywhere, we should also pray for individual believers we know personally.

But what about people who have not yet been saved? Shouldn’t we pray for them?

When Jesus saw crowds of folks looking like sheep without a shepherd, he had compassion on them. He urged his followers to pray to God, not for the lost sheep, but for believers to do the gospel work.

In the instruction above, the writer asks his readers to pray that he will be bold in making known the mystery of the gospel. A mystery in the Bible is not something that is difficult to understand. It’s something impossible to know until it is revealed. The gospel is the revelation about Jesus, that he died and rose again so that we can be forgiven and have eternal life.

The best prayer for lost people is prayer for saved people to be bold and share the gospel. We need prayer for boldness to witness because our natural disposition is to keep quiet about the gospel. Telling others about Jesus requires the inspiration of God’s Spirit.

Pray for God to give you the same concern for others that Jesus has. Compassion for others will keep you alert in prayer.

May the God’s Spirit inspire us to share in his great harvest,

Brother Richard Foster

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Jesus’ Cure for Anxiety

So much to worry about! What if I lose my job?  What if my car breaks down?  What if the doctor tells me I need surgery?  Will Hillary or Trump be our next president?  How many more times will we have leftovers for supper this week . . . ?

Jesus knows we tend to worry about things.  In his Sermon on the Mount, he tells us why we worry and what we should do about it (see Matthew 6:25-34).

First, Jesus points out that birds don’t plant, harvest or gather into barns yet God makes sure that they eat. Aren’t we more valuable than the birds?

Jesus is not forbidding us from planning for tomorrow.  He is helping us to work and be wise without worrying.  After all, worry is fruitless.  Jesus asks, “Who can add one hour to their life by worrying?”  The answer: nobody!  So why worry?

Jesus then urges his followers to consider the beauty of the wildflowers. If God adorns the grass of the field with such splendor, and the grass is here today and gone tomorrow, will he not do much more for his people?

He addresses his followers as “little-faiths.”  In the old King James version it is rendered like this: “O ye of little faith.”  The root of worry, Jesus says, is lack of faith in God.

So, how do we exercise faith in God so that our worries are eliminated?  Jesus tells us to get our priorities straight.  “Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness,” Jesus says, “and all these things will be added to you.”

As followers of Jesus, our first priority is God’s kingdom and his righteousness.  God is king of all creation but many people want to reject his rule.  We seek God’s kingdom by serving him as our king and encouraging others to do the same.

God’s righteousness is expressed through his commands in Scripture.  We seek his righteousness by obeying him fully and teaching others to obey him.

By “all these things” Jesus means the things in life that God knows we need.  We may not get all that we want, but Jesus promises that God will provide for us.

So Jesus connects the world of faith and spirituality to the daily world of food and clothes.  We are tempted to trust God for ‘religious’ things and trust ourselves for daily, material ‘practical’ things.

In other words, Christians sometimes live as though God rules the church and the Devil rules all else.  We follow God’s ways in church and play by the Devil’s rules in the world.

Jesus recognizes the struggle.  In fact, he goes on to say that we should not worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Our Lord is not denying the fact that life is filled with challenges.  He freely admits that any day can be a tough day.  But God is King.  He rules over every day.  He rules over time.

God’s way, his righteousness, is the right way. All other ways are dead ends.  When we walk in God’s ways we have no need to worry.  When we serve the King we need not be anxious.

Let’s not allow the Enemy to replace our joy with anxiety. The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  True, but Jesus has come that we might have life more abundantly!

May God’s Holy Spirit inspire and empower us to support his church and share his victory,

Brother Richard

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What About the Syrian Refugees?

My knee-jerk reaction to the idea of bringing thousands of Syrian refugees into the U.S. was “Don’t do it!” Muslim immigration in Europe seems to have caused an alarming increase in terrorist attacks, shedding innocent blood and threatening personal freedoms.

How many of our soldiers have fought, bled and died in order to secure and protect the precious liberties we enjoy in America? Is it not an insult to their sacrifice if we throw away our freedom and security by foolishly welcoming potential terrorists into our communities?

After the attacks in Paris on November 13, which claimed the lives of 130 and injured many others, the debate about immigration quickly moved to front and center. Some insisted that we should bring in thousands of Syrian refugees who are fleeing the death and destruction spread by ISIS, a radical Muslim group murdering thousands and pillaging an entire region.

The Bible is being cited as support for the idea of helping refugees by bringing them to America. God instructed his people not merely to be compassionate toward aliens, but to love them (Deuteronomy 10:19).

Therefore, since our society claims a Christian heritage, we should follow the admonition of the Bible. (Never mind the fact that we have been lectured to stop thinking of our country as a Christian nation.)

I welcome the opportunity to apply God’s Word to our current lives, including the immigration question. But let’s listen to the full counsel of God’s Word.

The Bible shows us that the Lord Jesus himself reached out to the marginalized and oppressed. His compassion is famous. But he had more in mind than alleviating suffering. Jesus was concerned about saving souls in addition to healing bodies.

I wonder if those who are quoting the Bible to support immigration will agree that conversion to Christianity should be an important goal when offering assistance to refugees.

If the Bible has the authority to urge us on toward compassion for immigrants, then it also has the authority to demand that spiritual goals be included. One cannot duck and cover behind “separation of church and state” when the Bible’s commands are unwelcome, but then turn and appeal to Scripture when it happens to support one’s political agenda.

In addition, Jesus did not endanger the lives of his fellow citizens in order to help others. The Bible places responsibility for keeping law and order and providing security in the hands of the state (Romans 13:1-6).

If the state adopts policies that endanger the lives of her citizens, then she is not fulfilling her biblical duty. We have a right to insist that our leaders take strong precautions against bringing terrorists into our neighborhoods.

Christian love compels us to work hard and find ways to help the Syrian refugees, but not by risking our neighbors’ children and grandchildren. It is not too much to ask that we help refugees, nor is it too much to insist that it be done wisely.

May the God of all compassion give us love for our neighbor,

Brother Richard Foster

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Why So Much Confusion About Marriage?

Family has become a free-for-all. In the mad rush to affirm everybody’s right to do whatever they please with their private lives, our society is dismantling the institution that serves as the bedrock and basis for any culture. As family life weakens, other critical institutions in our society suffer. The legal system has to keep up with all the dead-beat dads and domestic violence. The welfare system has to keep up with all the abused and abandoned children. The education system is on life-support in many places because so many kids live such insecure lives that they cannot focus on classroom learning.

Not only is family becoming a do-it-yourself affair, it is becoming a do-it-for-self arrangement. Many people want to redefine family in order to suit their lifestyle, instead of adjusting their lifestyle in order to have a healthy family. If they don’t want to be faithful to their mate then they simply find someone else. If they don’t want to raise their own children then they simply abort or abandon them. If they don’t want to support the children they have left behind then they simply vanish or claim to have no resources. Any culture that lets the sinful and selfish human heart define acceptable family behavior is bound for serious turbulence. When children grow up around broken lives and broken relationships then they are at great risk for simply repeating the pattern of unhealthy family life. The resulting tangled nest of modern families seems to be expanding exponentially.

How did we get into such a twisted and confusing place? If we go back a little more than fifty years into the 1950s, we discover significantly different attitudes about family from what we see today. In retrospect, one indication that changes would soon take place was reflected by some striking research about human sexuality. Compiled by supposed experts, the book claimed that large percentages of the population were engaged in sexual misconduct, more than anyone realized (Kinsey, Pomery, and Martin, 1948). The findings of this pseudo-scientific study were shocking. The writers alleged that vast numbers of people were breaking society’s established sexual boundaries. The implication was that perhaps the boundaries should be moved, or removed.

A generation came of age in the 1960s that apparently took the ideas that were reflected in that report about human sexuality to heart. Many of them concluded that traditional ideas about family, marriage, and sex were hopelessly outdated and perhaps completely obsolete. They insisted on a new approach to sexuality: ‘free love.’ As time went on that shocking research about human sexual behavior in America was exposed to be fraudulent. It turned out that those reports were not very scientific (Reisman and Eichel, 1990). In other words, the so-called experts had lied (or at least been mistaken). But it was too late. ‘Free love’ had been loosed on an unsuspecting society. Or perhaps the facts did not matter to a large number of people who only wanted to justify irresponsible lifestyles.

Unfortunately, ‘free love’ resulted in too many unwanted babies. But experts claimed that an unborn baby was nothing more than a troublesome blob of tissue, a piece of opportunistic tissue that if allowed to grow, would become a major inconvenience, a bothersome liability. Women had the right, they said, to remove useless tissue from their bodies without any intervention based on the moral scruples of some self-righteous, backward, uneducated, religious zealots. In fact, aborting babies became the centerpiece issue for women’s health and a badge of honor for those who prided themselves in taking measures to save the Earth. Without abortion on demand, women would be denied healthcare and doomed to outer darkness and the Earth’s natural resources would be raped and depleted before the next Earth Day could be planned. This new attitude about unborn babies solved the ‘free love’ problem. Unwanted pregnancies were simply terminated—by the tens of millions.

But people discovered that they wanted children, despite the risk to the planet and the inconvenience to their personal lives. As a result, many continued to have babies, but they also continued to engage in irresponsible sex. Lack of sexual commitment, however, destroys families by ripping away an important foundation for a long-term relationship. This instability in family devotion puts children in a precarious situation. ‘Free love’ resulted in an explosion in the number of marriages that ended in divorce. Kids from broken families struggled with deep feelings of insecurity and abandonment. And parents were getting loaded down with dark feelings of personal guilt as they saw what their decisions did to their offspring.

The experts were standing by once again with yet another solution: simply redefine marriage and family—change the definition of what is right and acceptable. If family requires fidelity and lifelong commitment but sexual freedom demands infidelity and short-term relationships, then a new vision of family that allows for more personal freedom must be envisioned and promoted. Culture had to evolve and adapt to the needs (wants) of the people who make up society. What right does some faceless society have to make demands for sacrifice from individuals who have their own ideas about happiness? But what about the harm that would be done to the children living in unstable household environments? Experts could convince everyone that kids are flexible and actually happier when removed from a home where one or both parents are unfulfilled, and the problem is solved, supposedly.

With all this experimentation about how families can be deconstructed and redefined came an ever-increasing openness to other boundary-busting ideas about human sexuality, marriage and family. Gay and lesbian relationships, long understood to be outside the realm of healthy family arrangements, were suddenly provided with an opening to move toward the mainstream in popular culture. With so many people breaking down the boundaries of healthy human sexual relationships, who was left to say that same-sex couples should not take center-stage and redraw the lines even more? If personal sexual satisfaction is so important that we must kill the unborn so that they do not get in the way, then why not let same-sex couples murder a few moral standards?

So we have arrived in a place of utter confusion about marriage and family. Everyone has a right, we are being told, to define marriage as they see fit. Limiting marriage to one man and one woman is denying people their constitutional rights, supposedly. This argument is designed to paint supporters of biblical marriage as cold-blooded and hard-hearted. This is no surprise since proponents of ‘alternative’ forms of family and marriage sometimes claim that traditional families are oppressive to women and children. Raising children, some lament, is nothing more than a punishment. Alternative lifestyles liberate women, so the argument goes. How ironic it is that liberal sexual lifestyles have placed so many women in the tough and demanding position of being single parents!

Meanwhile, the children who have survived abortion since 1973 have been at higher risk to live in a broken home. More children are growing up with only one of their biological parents, or with parents whose commitment to the family is nebulous at best. An unsettling number are being raised by someone other than their parents, like a grandparent or other guardian. Despite all the assurances from experts that children are flexible and able to bounce back, kids often struggle with suffocating anxiety and bitter anger over their sense of abandonment because one or both of their parents apparently had more important things to do than to raise their son or daughter.

So the fight to define (or destroy) family rages on. Who would have imagined that ‘free love’ would result in so many murdered babies, angry youth and dysfunctional families? Where is the love? Where is the freedom? We have no time to stop and answer questions or reflect on the terrible cost of all these alternative moral visions for family life because the changes only seem to be accelerating. Same-sex families are the most recent experiment. Who knows what horrible social destruction may be caused by allowing “gay marriage” to take hold and multiply. When will our society learn that the so-called experts who promote all of these alternatives are leading us deeper into disaster?

The age of ‘free love’ has provided plenty of evidence that children generally do better when they are raised by their biological parents. Unfortunate and heartbreaking is the fact that we had to learn this the hard way, by watching millions of kids grow up without their parents and observing the disappointing results. It is clear that kids need mom and dad, even if the marriage is less than stellar. Despite this hard-won knowledge, we now stand poised to place kids in families where they will be denied mom or dad, or both. Children raised by two dads are denied a mother. Children raised by two moms are denied a father. Vague and emotional assertions about love and affection being the most important thing of all cannot make up for what is missing in a mom or a dad.

Sadly, “gay marriage” is not the last enemy of the family. Waiting in the shadows are those who wish to reduce or abolish the age of consent. Once again, children are at greatest risk, as they always are in these tragic social experiments. And the so-called experts will be ready with quick answers to soothe the consciences of those who step into their trap. Once again, the personal desires of adults will trump the legitimate needs of children.

The experts lied about sexual behavior, they lied about unborn babies, they lied about divorce, and they are lying about “gay marriage.” Any other alternative model will be just as deceitful. Why are these destructive distortions about family met with such eager acceptance by so many people? Because the spiritually rebellious heart wants God to be proven wrong at any cost. The fight for family is not a contest between tradition and progress or conservative and liberal. No, it is a conflict between truth and deception. The current fight to define marriage is only the latest manifestation of an ancient struggle between the holiness of the One Living God and the wickedness of the desperately sinful heart.

Destructive desires call us to satisfy self now, no matter what the cost might be to our marriage or our children. And the world at large echoes and amplifies those selfish desires, calling out, “Give up on God’s way. Serve yourself and be happy now. Forget tomorrow. You deserve it. You need some ‘me time’!” But the one who wanders through life guided only by their own immediate happiness or pleasure will end up with an empty heart and a barren soul. And the society that not only allows but promotes so many broken and sinful models of family is driving quickly toward ruin.

But there is good news. God himself, the Maker of humanity and the inventor of human sexuality, has indeed given us his plan for marriage and family. His plan is for one man and one woman to stay together for life, raise their children, and then enjoy their grandchildren. God’s plan goes against the selfish desires that tempt us to put immediate gratification above all else. And living according to God’s plan is an expression of love for the Lord who has given us our lives. Adopting God’s design for family is an act of faith that is rewarded by God with blessings which far surpass anything we can manufacture from lifestyles that ignore his commands.

Those who trust God’s plan will work hard to save and strengthen their marriages even at great personal effort, risk and sacrifice. Those who trust God’s plan will work to nurture and care for their children no matter what the losses to professional development, financial security, personal excitement, or any other secondary consideration. They will stand in the face of great challenges and terrible disappointments. They will reject the tempting voices of selfishness. They will sometimes sustain deep wounds but refuse to change course. Those who trust God and fight for their family will fill their hearts and households with great rewards. They will have the deep love that only a lifetime marriage can yield. They will see their children stand strong and confident in the face of trials and temptations. They will rejoice over their grandchildren with gladness because of the solid foundation that parents forged for their children’s futures.

Lifetime love grows a physical and spiritual union between husband and wife that soars far above the emotional junkyard of the broken relationships that are currently scattered throughout our land. In an age of increasing confusion about gender roles, gender identity, parenting, raising children, and all things pertaining to family, lifetime love leaves a heritage of faith for children and grandchildren so that they can build their own families with confidence and with victory. When strong families are the rule instead of the exception in a culture, then that culture is on a more sure footing in every conceivable way. After decades of failed experimentation with selfish models of family, our land needs a return to the family model that has God’s endorsement and enjoys God’s blessing. The benefits of protecting marriage are great, so the risk of letting marriage wander further into the spiritual wilderness is also great.

The current threats against marriage are daunting. Our nation’s legal definition of marriage continues to be a fierce battle ground. Bible-believing Christians want to preserve God’s design for marriage: one man and one woman freely and fully committed to one another for life. Radical gay activists are working diligently to undermine and redefine marriage in order to include same-sex couples in the mainstream of family life. Much is at stake in the struggle over how to define marriage. Countless lives will be affected if our country continues to distort and erase the boundaries for legal marriage, both in ways that can be predicted and in ways that cannot yet be imagined. Who could be harmed, and how?

As always, when society loosens the laws that establish healthy limits for marriage and family, children pay the highest price. Single-parent families have taught us the hard way that children generally do much better when they live with both mom and dad. Nevertheless, gay activists insist that two moms or two dads will be just as good. Why should we believe them? Why should we subordinate God’s word to their unfounded and untested opinions? As children grow into adults they desperately need godly models for healthy and responsible sexual behavior, not gender confusion.

Some who oppose same-sex marriage argue that tradition has established heterosexual marriage as the best foundation for society. But traditions are established by people and they can change. Traditions evolve, often to meet the seemingly expedient demands of different groups in a given society or culture. Marriage, however, is bigger than tradition. Marriage is too critical to be left up to the dictates of unpredictable currents in human tradition. Marriage is instituted and designed by God, fixed and unchanging. In addition, marriage and family are much more than building blocks for human society. The Bible presents higher ideals for marriage.

In the Old Testament God used husband and wife as a picture of the relationship between himself and his chosen people Israel. In the New Testament God’s design for marriage is presented as a picture of Christ’s bond with his church, his Bride. More than nurturing children, more than mentoring young people about their God-given sexuality, more than providing the building blocks of culture and society, marriage is about God’s love for his people. Essential spiritual truth is transmitted through God’s design for marriage, and that truth becomes a living reality in marriages where husbands and wives follow God’s design, not out of love for society or as a pragmatic solution to family ills, but out of love and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Marriage is a spiritual relationship with far-reaching spiritual ramifications for all of us.

These ideas, some say, are ancient and culturally bound. Now that culture has moved on, we are told, the notions of yesteryear must recede into the background and give way for new and progressive ideas. But God has not recalled his design for marriage. It is not defective. It is not obsolete. It is not even a work in progress. Marriage between one man and one woman is a fixed design feature of humanity and it is still God’s plan for family today and all the tomorrows of this age. God is not required to answer to human society or to conform to popular human ideas. God is the author of what is right for culture and he is the source of all truth.

Some would argue that the fundamental spiritual truth that is meant to be communicated through marriage is simply love and commitment. Marriage and family are not about the outward forms, supposedly, but about genuine affection and devotion. Therefore, loving and committed same-sex couples, we are told, fulfill the Bible’s vision for family. If that were true then loving and committed relationships of any kind could eventually be proposed as fulfillment of this Scriptural principle. But such an argument ignores the fact that homosexuality is condemned every time it is mentioned in the Bible. A holy home cannot be constructed on an unholy union. Marriage is about more than tradition and it is about more than love and commitment. God’s design for marriage is cosmic in scope. It is a reflection of God’s plan for the ages.

The question of defining marriage ultimately brings us to an even more fundamental and critical issue. What is the true nature of the Bible? Is it God’s perfect Word to humanity? Or is it a collection of words by imperfect yet inspired people who were searching for divine insight when they put pen to paper? Those who support God’s design for marriage point to the Bible as the premier authority for defining marriage. As a result, gay activists have attacked the church’s understanding of God’s Word. Scriptures that clearly condemn same-sex relationships are said to be irrelevant to our age, archaic and outmoded. But should human desires judge God’s word or should God’s word judge human desires? God’s perfect truth provides the much-needed anchor for any culture when it is tugged by the tides of unholy human passions and blown by the winds of deceptive pop-culture philosophies.

For those of us who have decided to stand on the perfect word of God, we must not be surprised or disheartened when the world rejects God’s design for marriage. Only God’s presence in our lives can give any of us the ability to put his plan before our own agenda. Despite the world’s hostility toward God’s design, we must be committed to the full counsel of God. It is unfair to God’s word and intellectually dishonest to champion some portions of Scripture while remaining silent about others. The Bible not only condemns same-sex marriage, Scripture also condemns all sexual immorality. Any sexual misconduct undermines the spiritual truth that is to be reflected through godly marriage.

The fight is not merely against a radical gay agenda. The fight is for the radical holiness that God has called his people to pursue and promote. The goal should not be to make families more traditional, or pragmatic, or comfortable, but to make families honor the Lord. He who called us is holy, so let us be holy in all that we do, including our marriages. Followers of Jesus Christ cannot simply blame culture for all the confusion about marriage and embrace some vague hope that things will somehow get better. God’s people must know his word, live according to his word, and share his word.

The full counsel of God reminds us that we do not simply speak the truth. We speak the truth in love. Men and women struggling with sexual sin of all types deserve to hear the truth, but they need to hear from someone who genuinely cares. The many angry and bitter voices in the debate over defining marriage easily draw much attention to themselves, but they often drown out their own words by the bitter opposition they inspire. God’s people must be different. Righteous indignation is a legitimate expression, but loving confrontation and encouragement is a vital ingredient. Christians are called to be the true people of hope and change. Salt and light can be uncomfortable but should never be hateful. People may reject the truth, but it should be the content and not the presentation that they find distasteful.

What should Christians do in response to the downward spiral of family? First and foremost, we must live according to God’s word. Despite past mistakes, we must commit ourselves to God’s design for family: one man and one woman committed to each other for a lifetime, committed to raising our children together and enjoying our grandchildren. This includes everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ. If one has had an affair, lived through a divorce, fallen prey to same-sex encounters, or any other failure, forgiveness and restoration is available through Christ. No matter how many failures litter our past, we can decide that this marriage will be a godly marriage; the rest of our life will honor the Lord. If we are presently single, we can determine to remain pure until we are able to enter a godly marriage, or serve God as a single adult, honoring the marriage bed by remaining celibate.

Second, Christians should pray for God’s Spirit to move in a mighty way in the hearts of people throughout the land. We can plead with our Lord to renew a spirit of love for truth in households and hearts everywhere. And third, as Christians we must open our mouths and speak the word of truth. We cannot be intimidated into silence. Too much is at stake in the fight for family. And we must speak the truth in love. As families falter, hungry hearts will multiply; countless souls will be thirsty, longing for a better way. This is an opportunity to explain and to promote God’s ways to a population that is increasingly ignorant about the unvarnished biblical truth.

In order to live according to God’s design for marriage, couples must have commitment, understanding, and ability. The ability can come only from the empowering Spirit of God. The commitment can come only from the married couples themselves. The understanding comes from learning the truth about God’s design for marriage as he has revealed it in his Word, the Holy Bible. To all who are followers of Jesus, let us devote ourselves to knowing, obeying, and promoting God’s design for marriage and family. The need is great but our God is more than sufficient.

Richard Foster
Camden, AR
September 2013

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