The Challenge of Same-Sex Unions

The Challenge of Same-Sex Unions by Albert Mohler | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

 

For our final Monday in April we also take a parting look at another article in this month’s Ligonier devotional, Tabletalk. The last article in the issue is for the rubric “Beyond the Wicket Gate”, and this month’s is written by the well-known Dr.Al Mohelr, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Known for his Biblically straight and straight-forward addresses on contemporary cultural issues, Dr. Mohler speaks to the issue of homosexuality in this article. It is another thoughtful and helpful article in knowing what the true church must do as it continues to face this challenge from our ungodly world.

I give you a few paragraphs here; read the full article at the Ligonier link above.

 

In the world but not of the world? From the very beginning, the church has faced the challenge of responding to external events, trends, ideologies, and controversies. By definition, the church does not get to choose these challenges, but they have been thrust upon Christians by the world. The question always comes down to this: What now?

That question seems especially urgent in light of the emergence of same-sex unions and marriage in the United States and the world over. How must the church answer this challenge?

To answer that question, we need to think about the speed of the moral revolution that has pushed this question to the forefront of our culture. In less than a generation, homosexuality has gone from being almost universally condemned to being almost fully normalized in the larger society.

We are facing a true moral inversion — a system of moral understandings turned upside down. Where homosexuality was even recently condemned by the society, now it is considered a sin to believe that homosexuality is wrong in any way. A new sexual morality has replaced the old, and those who hold to the old morality are considered morally deficient. The new moral authorities have one central demand for the church: get with the new program.

This puts the true church, committed to the authority of God’s Word, in a very difficult cultural position. Put simply, we cannot join the larger culture in normalizing homosexuality and restructuring society to match this new morality. Recognizing same-sex unions and legalizing same-sex marriage is central to this project.

…What, then, is the true church to do? First, we must stand without compromise on the authority of the Bible and the principles of sexual conduct and morality that God has revealed so clearly in His Word. The Bible’s sexual morality is grounded in the creation of humanity in God’s image; we are created as male and female and given the gift of sex within the marriage covenant — and only within the marriage covenant between one man and one woman for as long they both shall live.

The easiest way to summarize the Bible’s teaching on sexuality is to begin with God’s blessing of sex only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman. Then, just remember that sex outside of that covenant relationship, whatever its form or expression, is explicitly forbidden. Christians know that these prohibitions are for our good and that rejecting them is tantamount to a moral rebellion against God Himself. We also know that the Bible forbids all same-sex sexual acts and behaviors. Thus, we know that homosexuality is a sin, that blessing it in any way is also sin, and that normalizing sin cannot lead to human happiness.

William Cowper – Olney Hymns

Poets’ Corner – William Cowper – Olney Hymns.

On this last day of April, which is National Poetry month, it is good for us to consider and meditate on a couple of precious poems by William Cowper. The two I have selected are taken from his “Olney Hymns”, about which the website above has this to say:

These hymns were written between 1765 and 1773 at the village of Olney (OHN’ee) where Cowper was under the influence of the Anglican Evangelical preacher John Newton. This was a period of great religious fervor within the Evangelical movement and for Cowper, and this enthusiasm is clear in the poems. … The hymns show Cowper’s command of direct, simple language. They also show the clarity of his mind. Each hymn is a little sermon…. Bob Blair

I have chosen two of these hymns for us today. The first speaks of the beauty and power of God’s Word, while the second describes the blessed fruit of the trials God brings into our lives. May both of these bless your soul and lead you to bless the Lord for His goodness to us.

 

XXX. The Light and Glory of the Word

The Spirit breathes upon the word,
And brings the truth to sight;
Precepts and promises afford
A sanctifying light.
A glory gilds the sacred page,
Majestic like the sun;
It gives a light to every age,
It gives, but borrows none.
The hand that gave it still supplies
The gracious light and heat;
His truths upon the nations rise,
They rise, but never set.
Let everlasting thanks be thine,
For such a bright display,
As makes a world of darkness shine
With beams of heavenly day.
My soul rejoices to pursue
The steps of Him I love,
Till glory break upon my view
In brighter worlds above.

XXXV. Welcome Cross

‘Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross,
But the Saviour’s power to know,
Sanctifying every loss;
Trials must and will befall;
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me. 
God in Israel sows the seeds
Of affliction, pain, and toil;
These spring up and choke the weeds
Which would else o’erspread the soil:
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there. 
Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way,
Might I not with reason fear
I should prove a castaway?
Bastards may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly vain delight;
But the true-born child of God
Must not — would not, if he might.

J.Calvin on Psalm 72: The Fruitful Rain of Christ’s Reign

For our further meditation on and profit from Psalm 72 today, we also post these comments of John Calvin on Psalm 72:6-7:

 

6. He shall descend as the rain upon the mown grass. This comparison may seem at first sight to be somewhat harsh; but it elegantly and appositely expresses the great advantage which is derived by all from the good and equitable constitution of a kingdom. Meadows, we know, are cut in the beginning of summer when the heat prevails; and did not the earth imbibe new moisture by the falling rain, even the very roots of the herbage would wither by reason of the barren and parched state of the soil. David, therefore, teaches us that as God defends the earth from the heat of the sun by watering it, so he in like manner provides for the welfare of his Church, and defends it under the government of the king. But this prediction has received its highest fulfillment in Christ, who, by distilling upon the Church his secret grace, renders her fruitful.

7. In his days shall the righteous flourish It is unnecessary for me frequently to repeat what I have once stated, that all these sentences depend upon the first verse. David, therefore, prayed that the king might be adorned with righteousness and judgment, that the just might flourish and the people prosper. This prediction receives its highest fulfillment in Christ. It was, indeed, the duty of Solomon to maintain the righteous; but it is the proper office of Christ to make men righteous. He not only gives to every man his own, but also reforms their hearts through the agency of his Spirit. By this means he brings righteousness back, as it were, from exile, which otherwise would be altogether banished from the world. Upon the return of righteousness there succeeds the blessing of God, by which he causes all his children to rejoice in the way of making them to perceive that under their King, Christ, every provision is made for their enjoying all manner of prosperity and felicity. If any would rather take the word peace in its proper and more restricted signification, I have no objections to it. And, certainly, to the consummation of a happy life, nothing is more desirable than peace; for amidst the turmoils and contentions of war, men derive almost no good from having an abundance of all things, as it is then wasted and destroyed. Moreover, when David represents the life of the king as prolonged to the end of the world, this shows more clearly that he not only comprehends his successors who occupied an earthly throne, but that he ascends even to Christ, who, by rising from the dead, obtained for himself celestial life and glory, that he might govern his Church for ever.

Sunday Worship Preparation – Psalm 72

The psalm we focus on today for our worship preparation, Psalm 72, is a special one. Not only does it conclude Book II of the OT collection of psalms (note the familiar doxology in vss.18-19, and the special note in v.20), but the heading too is unique: “A Psalm for Solomon”. The editorial note in my Thompson Bible adds: “David, praying for Solomon, shews the glory of his kingdom in type, and of Christ’s in truth.” And that is indeed the way we think of this psalm, as describing the glory of Jesus Christ’s kingdom. For those of us who have grown up on the United Presbyterian Psalter (1912), this psalm is identified with #200:

200.  The Enthroned Christ.   Psalm 72.  6s and 5s. (4 stanzas)

1. Christ shall have dominion
Over land and sea,
Earth’s remotest regions
Shall His empire be;
They that wilds inhabit
Shall their worship bring,
Kings shall render tribute,
Nations serve our King.

CHORUS:

Christ shall have dominion
Over land and sea,
Earth’s remotest regions
Shall His empire be.

 

When you read through Psalm 72 carefully (which you should do now) this truth will “jump out” at you. You will immediately see verses that simply could not apply in full reality to David’s or even Solomon’s kingdoms; they can only apply to Christ’s (vss.8, 11, 17). And so, while we should approach Ps.72 historically as David’s prayer for Solomon and as his description of the great glory of Solomon’s kingdom of righteousness and peace, we must also understand that it is ultimately about the greater (greatest!) glory of the kingdom of our Lord and Savior. And with that in mind, read of the great blessings that come to the citizens of that kingdom: salvation from sin, perfect righteousness and peace, victory over our enemies, and an everlasting and boundless realm to enjoy.

Since the first coming of Jesus Christ, and especially since His death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven, we see this kingdom realized. And yet we also know that even Christ’s kingdom is “not yet”; the full reality of it is still to come. And it will come in the day of His 2nd coming, when He returns on the clouds of glory with all the holy angels and with his glorified saints (when “he shall come down like rain upon the mown grass” – v.6). And when He sits as King on the throne of judgment, condemning His and His people’s foes (including Satan and Antichrist) and vindicating His church. And when He makes the new heavens and earth and establishes perfect peace in every corner of the world. Then in fullness “he shall have dominion also from sea to sea” (v.8) and “his name shall endure for ever” (v.17).

What a day that will be! Do we hope for it? Do we pray for it? This Lord’s Day is another fitting day to do so. And the prospect of that kingdom should produce this doxology (song of praise) in our hearts and mouths (based directly on vss.18-19):

197.  The Doxology.  Psalm 72.  C.M. (2 stanzas)

1. Now blessed be Jehovah God,
The God of Israel,
Who only doeth wondrous works,
In glory that excel.

2. And blessed be His glorious Name
To all eternity;
The whole earth let His glory fill.
Amen: So let it be.

Now here is Psalm 72 in its entirety:

Psalm 72

Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.

2He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.

3The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

4He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

5They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.

6He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.

7In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.

8He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

9They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.

10The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.

11Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.

12For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.

13He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.

14He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.

15And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.

16There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.

17His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.

18Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.

19And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.

20The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

The Flight From Conversation – S.Turkle

The Flight From Conversation – NYTimes.com.

 

Psychologist and professor at M.I.T. Sherry Turkle has written a new book titled Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other (Basic Books, 2011). In an article she wrote for the NY Times last weekend (April 21, 2012) she summarized some of her concerns about what our modern technology has done to our relationships and especially to our ability to communicate with one another. I found her thoughts insightful and important – important for us to hear too. Are your relationships suffering because of all the technology you use? Are you “connected” to people but not “conversing” with them? Then read this and take some well-needed advice. God’s covenant friends should certainly know the importance of relationships and the value of conversation.

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other [Book]

We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

…In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right. I think of it as a Goldilocks effect.

Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little — just right.

Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.

We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.

…We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone. Indeed our new devices have turned being alone into a problem that can be solved.

..We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely. If we don’t teach our children to be alone, they will know only how to be lonely.

I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.” We can demonstrate the value of conversation to our children. And we can do the same thing at work. There we are so busy communicating that we often don’t have time to talk to one another about what really matters. Employees asked for casual Fridays; perhaps managers should introduce conversational Thursdays. Most of all, we need to remember — in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts — to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another.

Married Households Level Drop Again

Less Than 50% of U.S. Households Now Led by Married Couples, Says Census Bureau | CNSNews.com.

 

The Census Bureau continues to release its reports on the 2010 census, and the report issued this week on marriage-led households is not good. For the first time ever, homes led by married couples are below 50%. Here’s how CNS News summarized the information (April 25, 2012):

married couple(CNSNews.com) – For the first time ever, the percentage of married households fell below 50 percent, according to the Census Bureau, which released a brief Wednesday about families and households from the results of the 2010 Census.

The percentage of married households fell to 48.4 in 2010, down from 55.2 percent in 1990 and 51.7 percent in 2000.

“The 48 percent of husband-and-wife households in 2010 was the first time since at least 1940 that this has fallen below 50 percent,” said Daphne Lofquist, Statistician for the Fertility and Family Statistics Branch for the Census Bureau.

The Census Bureau did not start keeping detailed statistics about the marital status of householders until 1940.

The new data was released during a conference call briefing with reporters on the “2010 Census Brief: Households and Families.” (See full presentation here.)

All other household categories saw an increase: female householder with other family members living (11.6 in 1990, 13.1 in 2010); male householder with other family living (3.4 in 1990, 5.0 in 2010); two or more people in non-family households (5.2 in 1990, 6.8 in 2010); and one-person households (24.6 in 1990, 26.7 in 2010).

The Census Bureau also re-released data on same-sex households first issued last fall, indicating the total number of same-sex unmarried partner households to be 0.6 percent — 646,464 out of the total 116,716,292 households.

 

Why is this significant? Because it indicates that the institutions of marriage and the family themselves are in decline in our country, as they have been for a long time already. Why are they in decline? Because the God Who ordained and ordered these institutions has been despised and disobeyed with regard to how marriage and the family are to be entered into and maintained. God’s holy and good standards for these institutions have been replaced by man’s unholy and evil “standards”. And the results – as we have been witnessing for many years already – are devastating. But, if these institutions are the cornerstone of society, then our American society is in serious trouble. And we can see that, in more ways and areas than one.

Yet the church world is not without blame here either. With respect to marriage and the family the church has caved in to pressure from the world and compromised God’s standards for these institutions. The fruits of that are also evident.

The only answer for these “broken” institutions is the gospel of God’s grace in Christ. The gospel of God’s forgiveness for sins that have led to broken marriages and broken families. And the gospel of God’s holiness that maintains His standards and promotes healthy marriages and family life. May we never forget that only answer. And may we live out of that gospel of grace each day in our own marriages and families.

The 3 R's Blog:

And we would be remiss in our duty if we did not include a baseball item in our “Friday Fun” this week. A week ago today, April 20, 2012, was the 100th anniversary of the opening of Tiger Stadium at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit. I remember the “corner” well, as my father took me and my siblings here many times to see Tiger games when we were growing up, including during their championship year in 1968 (I was 10 years old and in awe.). I still have an autographed baseball of all the team members of that year – it’s a treasure. Below is part of a feature that Yahoo Sports did on the anniversary, largely unnoticed, but certainly worth remembering. Be sure to visit the “Absolute Michigan” site (via link here) – a lot more links and a neat video.
Tiger Stadium opened on the same day as Fenway Park – April 20, 1912. It was 100 years ago this weekend. Ty Cobb scored the first run by stealing home. From that day until 1999, this very spot rumbled with din and greatness. Pretty much every legend that played in Fenway in the 20th century also played here. Lou Gehrig sat himself down for the first time in 2,130 games here, ending his incredible ironman streak. Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run here. Reggie Jackson hit one into the right field light tower here during the ’71 All-Star game. The Tigers won World Series titles here in 1968 and again in 1984, with Kirk Gibson launching a late-inning home run off Goose Gossage that no Tigers fan alive to see it will ever forget. Fair to say this was the most exciting place in the history of Michigan.

And now there’s hardly a trace.

Originally posted on Michigan in Pictures:

at the corner

at the corner, photo by 1ManWithACamera

“It was the most famous address in Michigan. Not the number, but everyone knows the location. The corner of Michigan and Trumbull was a connection for everyone all over Michigan to the city of Detroit”
~Charley Marcuse, former hot dog vendor at Tiger Stadium

The above is a quotation from a heartbreaking feature on the 100th anniversary of Tiger Stadium that we are linking to today from 100 years at Tiger Stadium on Absolute Michigan. It’s chock full of great links, photos and a video narrated by Jeff Daniels and featuring Tiger greats Al Kaline, George Kell and Ernie Harwell.

The feature was especially heartbreaking for me as I was as guilty as most of the rest of the media that let this historic milestone pass unmarked. Don’t get me wrong – I think Comerica Park is a fantastic place to play baseball and…

View original 81 more words

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 12:18 PM  Leave a Comment  

Can You Guess These Classic Books From Their Phantom Covers?

Can You Guess These Classic Books From Their Phantom Covers? « PWxyz.

 

Last week Thursday (April 19, 2012) Publisher’s Weekly had this little challenge in their daily newsletter. I saved it and share it with you today. You have to guess the titles to these classic books by the art on the cover. Quite a challenge, I must say. Don’t feel badly, I didn’t do too well either. But I believe you will at least recognize most of these classics by their title – right? Please tell me you do. Please?!

Click on this link to view all the covers – and get the answers (But no peeking until you have done some guessing!).

 

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM  Leave a Comment  

Protesting Yog(a)urt

Just Dessert – The Sacred Sandwich.

Time for a little “Friday Fun” from the folks at Sacred Sandwich. Enjoy your laugh early today!

Published in: on April 27, 2012 at 11:48 AM  Leave a Comment  

Cultivating Love for Reading

…So learn to love reading – because it’s easier to find time to do what you love to do.

How do we cultivate that love? Start by researching and finding the very best books available. Ask your friends for recommendations. Great books can be found in every genre, from novels that grab your heart with the twists and turns of a brilliant plot, or history books that open your imagination to experience decisive moments in the world, or Christian living books that bring clarity to your soul and focus to your life. Nothing cultivates a love of reading more than a steady diet of great books.

I think the only books that should be burned – or at least banned – are mediocre ones. Find books that grab you. Read the books that make you lose sleep at night. Perhaps that’s a book that you have already read. Reread it.

Aim to become a reader who sits down late in the evening after a long day and grabs for a book to relax. This is a reader who loves to read! You may not be there yet, reading may be a chore, and television and movies and browsing the Internet might hold more sway over your leisure time. Press on. Keep searching for great books.

From the chapter “Too Busy to Read”, in Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, Tony Reinke, Crossway, 2011 (pp.132-33)

Published in: on April 26, 2012 at 12:28 PM  Leave a Comment  
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