Transgenderism: The Politically Correct Mental Disorder

The following article (here) on transgenderism is a must read. As a witness to the increasing transgenerism societal trend in Asia with even dear people I know, it is good to read professional, lucid voices on this issue. The article highlights a position of mental sanity that is all to often ignored in our politically correct world–wherein to affirm every proclivity and deny every fundamental axiom is the new cardinal virtue.

It is troubling when so many well meaning people today can be so complicit in pushing forward an approach to life that is part and parcel of an unparalleled level of suicidal behavior–after the sex “change” (20x higher)! When we absolve and expunge the distinctions that natural order has given humanity we are not adding to people’s lives in a supportive way–we are ultimately taking away.

We live in a day where there is monumental concern over the genetic altering of crops and the general manipulation of a fragile environment to benefit our needs. “Don’t mess with nature” is the often repeated warning. And when an environmental disaster of some type occurs due to man’s reckless miscalculation of nature’s ways, we are reminded, “You can’t ignore nature.” What I find most odd is that many of the individuals who seek to warn us of the negative implications of manipulating and ignoring nature are the same individuals who advocate that human gender and natural biology can be manipulated without a word of caution or warning given to those who try.

At some point we are going to need to admit to our collective selves that some things just aren’t up for questioning. And when they are, it is a sign of disorder not a signal to RE-order. Peace out!

UPDATE: Another great article that supports the one linked above can be read here. In short the mental health professional argues (with research) that transgenderism is a mental disorder called a “disorder of assumption” similar to other assumption disorders like “anorexia” or “bulimia” in which the individual assumes they are overweight when they are not. Other assumption disorders, like “body-dismorphic” disorder convinces the individual he or she is ugly against all evidence to the contrary. 

 

 

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Jesus Only– An Arrogant Claim?

It is usually not too long into a discussion about the merits of Christianity with a skeptic that he or she trumps out their favorite rebuttal: “So you believe Jesus is the only way people can be saved, huh? That is the most arrogant religious claim I have ever heard.”

This is a serious charge and we need to be considerate to those who ask it. Because at first blush it does seem to be personally arrogant for someone to consider their faith as the “only way.”

Firstly in answering this charge it is critical we qualify who said what. If I were to say, “Jesus is the only way because that is my way,” then that would be an arrogant claim because I would be excluding “other ways” on the basis that they are not “my way.” But that would be a gross misunderstanding of the Christian claim. Jesus is not the only way because he happens to be my way; rather Jesus said he was the “only way” and that no individual can come to the Father except through him (Jn 14:6). *

So the question we need to ask the skeptic is, “Do you think Jesus is being arrogant? Ultimately these discussions will always goes back to the critical point: “What do you do with Jesus? Who is Jesus to you? What claims upon your life does his life make?”

Secondly we need to turn the charge of arrogance back around on the skeptic and ask him to consider the following. If it is true that Jesus is the Son of God who came and died for our sins to restore us to fellowship with God, wouldn’t it be of the utmost arrogance to dismiss his life and claims as irrelevant to our lives?

I like the way the author Rick Joyner once put it: “Those who say that Christianity is an arrogant religion because it claims that Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God are, in fact, the arrogant ones. What could be greater pride than to have the Son of God come and make atonement for us, suffering as He did for our sin, and then say that we do not need His provision and that we can be reconciled to God on our own? Pride led to the first fall of Satan, and it is pride that keeps us under the power of the Fall. By humbling ourselves and acknowledging our need for the cross, we begin to be delivered from the power of sin.”

Thirdly we need to help the skeptic to understand that every worldview has its own points of exclusivity. Buddhism was birthed out of a rejection of three cardinal doctrines absolutely fundamental to Hinduism– 1) the authority of the Vedas (Hindu scriptures), 2) the cast system and 3) an eternal soul or independent self (atman). And of course Hinduism excludes the Buddhist worldview since it affirms the very points Buddhism rejects! Moreover Buddhism excludes Christian, Islamic and Jewish worldviews wholesale on the basis that it dogmatically insists belief in a Creator God is irrelevant if not utterly false.

Fourthly atheism is exclusivistic by its very nature. Atheism denies the absolute claims to reality that all religions make and seeks to substitute in its own brand of fundamental humanism that it claims apprehends the world aright. Even New-Age spiritism and Unitarianism are exclusivistic. Their attempts to meld and blend together all religious ways into one “tolerant” uniformity can only be done at the cost of offending and excluding certain core doctrines inherent to the very religious expressions they are borrowing from.

The point is ultimate truth should never be dismissed on the basis that it happens to be exclusive. The very nature of truth excludes other claims that are false. Just because a particular way is “narrow” does not mean it is arrogant. I’m sure every open-minded skeptic is grateful his airline pilot is willing to be “narrow-minded” when he lands his plane on a narrow runaway as opposed to the open cow pasture nearby. Every worldview, whether or not one can admit it, has its particular points of departure and exclusivity that define it in contrast to other worldviews. Furthermore each worldview lays claim to ultimate reality (“this is the way the world is”) according to their own interpretive paradigm.

Whenever I hear people say, “All religions are the same” I want to (gently) scream out, “REALLY!! Are you freakin’ serious?” Such a claim can only be made in gross ignorance. I have never heard any religious claimant say anything close to the central message of Christianity. Consider the following point of departure: Most religions try to pump up their God, inflating his transcendence in order to disassociate him from the crud of our world. But Christianity is God bending low, stooping down into our miserable, rebellious earth to take upon himself all our filthy sin and crud and be executed for us! 

Now one can certainly choose to dismiss that story line as the greatest hoax in history. Even the apostle Paul conceded if Christ did not die and rise from the dead our beliefs are pitiful and worthless. But if it’s true, the one thing you cannot do is dismiss it all as irrelevant to your life. If Jesus was needed for my sin, he is needed for the sin of all. To deem him irrelevant to your life is to reject your only source of rescue and freedom from sin’s enslavement. It would be no different than a shipwrecked survivor rejecting a life preserver thrown to him as irrelevant because he misjudges it as being nothing more than floating seaweed.

My pastor once said it best when he said, “Heaven and Hell is not a separation between the good and bad. It is ultimately a separation between the humble and the prideful. The humble recognize they are in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy, whereas the arrogant deem God’s provision through Christ to be beneath them and irrelevant to their lives.

 

* The question as to whether it is possible certain individuals who are ignorant of the gospel can still come “through” Christ and be saved is a separate matter of discussion. In short I would say yes. The N.T. makes it clear the blood of bulls and goats did not take away sin from the O.T. saints. Therefore in some way the atonement of Christ was applied to O.T. persons despite their ignorance of Christ. Personally I believe the N.T. makes clear God’s judgement and our accountability is based on a 1 to 1 ratio in relation to the amount of revelation we receive.

 

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God’s Exploitation of the Devil’s “Thorns”

God’s sovereignty should never be seen as unilaterally determining or decreeing the evil actions or intentions of free agents (human or demonic) before the foundation of the world. Rather God’s sovereignty is best understood as exploiting the evil actions and intentions of free agents.

The following is a good example of how this can break down. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 we read: “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself!”

A couple of critical points emerge from this text. Paul said a “thorn in the flesh” was “given” to him to keep him from falling into pride and conceit. He qualifies it as a “messenger of Satan.” Now the question that presents itself is, did Satan not want Paul to be conceited? No. Satan would have loved to have seen Paul become conceited. But his hatred of Paul had blinded him in seeing how his evil desire and intention to hurt Paul through a “thorn in the flesh” was being used and exploited by God to actually love Paul and keep him from pride.

Scholars differ on what exactly the “thorn in the flesh” refers to, but it is irrelevant to the point I want to make, which is that God’s sovereign allowance for affliction to come to Paul was not evidence that God hated Paul, but loved Paul and did not want him to become disqualified by pride–which is no doubt what the devil wanted. So God gives, through a sovereign allowance, a “thorn” that the devil intended to use to hurt Paul because he hated Paul. But God will exploit the devil’s hatred and usurp it for his own purposes. Sovereignty by exploitation is a critical facet of God’s providential power and grace. When we choose to trust God during affliction, like Paul, rather than become embittered against God, like Cain, we release ourselves into God’s sovereign wisdom in allowing us to go through disappointment and hard times. In part it is one way God can “cause all things to work together for the good to those that love God” (Rom. 8:28).

Moreover this little snippet of a window into Paul’s life reveals that sometimes in allowing affliction God may not be giving what we want, but what he knows is best. The scriptures do indeed teach us that God “gives good gifts” to his children (Mt. 7:11), but we also discover that what is “good” in God’s sight may not always be to our personal liking or preference. Sometimes God gives, through his sovereign permission, “thorns,” not because he hates us, but rather because he loves us and knows what is best.*

This does not mean every affliction of life can be so categorized, for indeed many afflictions and agonies in life are self-afflicted and stem from our own rebellion against God. But it is worth considering that some troubles and disappointment in life may be God’s means to preserve us and protect us, rather than torment us and oppress us. So the next time an irritation or an affliction comes your way, instead of immediately entrenching oneself in faith-quenching bitterness and resentment, first go before the Lord and ask, “Lord what does this mean? What must I do?”

*I am indebted to my pastor, Craig Mclaughlin, for this insight.

 

 

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Dealing with Disappointment, Anger and Cynicism

GriefSometimes when we are mad we have many raw and honest emotions we want to voice. Part of growing up is learning how to contain our honest reactions over events and deliberate over them to consider a right response. Sometimes our relationship with God is the same. We find ourselves to be in situations where our honest emotions and honest thoughts are that perhaps God is not good or does not even exist. And we think it is noble to go with what is honest– otherwise we are faking it. So if we feel God is not good because we find ourselves floundering in the wake of another painful disappointment that God should have saved us from– if indeed he exists– than why try to argue against what we honestly feel? Why continue to cling to a belief that is counter intuitive to our emotions? Isn’t that the very definition of fooling yourself?

No it is not. It is a mark of growth. For again part of growing up is learning how to deliberate over our honest reactions to negative stimuli and and weigh the pros and cons before actualizing them as choices or decisions. A crying baby cries honestly whenever it doesn’t get what it wants. But when the baby becomes older we we teach the child to suppress its honest emotions and learn how to objectively consider them and maybe not give voice to them at all. But this doesn’t mean we are teaching the child to live a lie. Rather we are teaching the child that emotions–even honest ones– are poor custodians of truth.

Moreover when our children continue to grow into their teen years and want to throw in the towel on a friendship or quit a school project or give up on a dream, all because their honest thinking is that XYZ is not worth it, we try to encourage them to see their frustration and disappointment in a different light that doesn’t make forfeiture, quitting or accusatory blame a default response to difficulty.

Even as adults we recognize ourselves that sometimes situations offend our honest sensibilities and a right response on our part may require generous amounts of patience, forgiveness and tenacious perseverance. To take this path is not easy because it goes against the grain of honest feelings and thoughts. Yet to those who are mature recognize there is often a difference between honest reactions and right reactions and between what feels right and what is really right.

Someone once said we cant see the frame when we are stuck in the picture, which I take to mean we are often incapable of evaluating external events objectively when our emotions–honest though they may be– are sucking us ever so inward that our response to such circumstances becomes overly reactionary, defensive, lazy and self-centered rather than measured, thoughtful and purposeful.

Now lets plug all this back into our initial discussion about God and disappointment. There is no escaping the fact that at times God’s promises will seem to run completely counter to our life experience. To continue to exercise faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness in the face of delayed or unanswered prayers is not easy. But is it worth it in the end? God’s greatest promise to us is, “Yes–in the end it is supremely worth it.” In fact the scriptures seem to suggest that God distinguishes between the unfaithful and the faithful on the basis of people’s response to the storms of life, calling the former “double-minded” who cannot receive anything from God and the latter “over-comers” who will inherit the earth and rule and reign in the age to come.

The greatest lie of the enemy that has infiltrated the Church is that following Christ is a deliverance from all trouble and evil days. Quite the opposite. Christ assures us “In this world you will have trouble but be courageous– for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The scriptures tell us we are in war of attrition and hell will do all it can to bring us into faith quenching despair.

A Christian who has lost his faith in God is a neutered Christian who is so turned inward that he poses no threat. Yet not satisfied with just that the Enemy often seeks to turn them against the Good by underhandedly nurturing their loathing and negativity with the goal of totally replacing their neutered faith with accusatory blame, cynicism and bitterness. In this way he succeeds in taking what used to be a sharpened spear of faith opposing him and turning it into a blunt and crude weapon of bitterness, accusation, cynicism and anger. Such a person has immense influence to then stab and sow similar attitudes in others and in time sour every meaningful relationship they have.

If your first response to reading this section is to say, “Well why doesn’t God do something!What’s wrong with him! Doesn’t he care about us?” Know that you have already begun to succumb to the deceiver’s schemes and lies. And know that you are not fighting “the good fight of faith” or “wielding your mighty weapons for pulling down strongholds” or “casting down imaginations” or “taking captive every thought that sets itself up against God” as clearly laid out for you in Scripture. What we don’t take captive will take us captive. Your mind and heart are in a very perilous place.

If we ever find ourselves in such a place our only way out is to repent and reckon as truth that the fault never lies with God no matter what evidence we’ve been amassing and carting around for years like an attorney ready to prosecute our Heavenly Father whenever the need arises, such as when others get to naively “Christianeezy” around us. All of this must be forcibly renounced daily until we begin to sense our anger and cynicism dissipating and becoming less of a default mindset. Then we must begin to praise God for every conceivable good thing we can think of– recognizing that “every good gift comes down from the Father of lights.” Let the blind man thank God for his hearing. Let the deaf man thank God for his sight.

Once again if your first thought to that last statement was, “Well what is a deaf and blind person supposed to be thankful for?” Know that you truly are perilously close to instinctual cynicism. And once cynicism and negative thought processes become our instinctual default mode, we stop thinking, processing and contemplating. We begin to react reflexively and angrily to situations that require even a modicum of faith or hope. “What’s the use?” becomes our un-spoken mantra we live by. As a result, the world shrinks before us. Innumerable possibilities become closed to us as we seek to play it safe and risk nothing. We become increasingly entrenched in un-teachableness as a spirit of cynicism slowly assimilates us like the Borg. The Bible calls this a spirit of unbelief and it is ruinous to our souls and those around us.

Christ often said “let him who has ears let him hear” right before he said something of great import he knew would be difficult to stomach. Those word are appropriate here. If we value whatever is left our faith and love of the Lord we must be militant in renouncing a cynical spirit daily until we begin to sense our anger and cynicism dissipating and becoming less of a instinctual response. Jesus mysteriously said, “The Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force” (Mt. 11:12). Renouncing, repenting and thanksgiving are our weapons and they are powerful. Eventually the atmosphere of repentance, thanksgiving becomes so toxic and choking to the enemy that he releases his hold and goes off to find easier prey– ones who have the “fight” all out of them. It is critical that we put up a fight when we least want to! This is better understood as “resisting the Enemy and he will flee (James 4:7).”

Let him who has ears let him hear.

The next stage of our warfare, that not only regains lost ground but takes ground from the enemy, is our resolute praise and worship. Praise and worship not only gives to God what he is due, but it also disarms our negativity and carries our spirit man into a place of rest and recharging. I used to play an old Nintendo game where your character had to run around killing the enemy, but when his life-power meter became dangerously low, he had to run into a circle and stay there long enough to recharge his life meter bar. I can’t remember the name of the game, but I can still remember the sound it would make as your little character gets recharged for the fight ahead. I have often have this visual memory return to me in moments of great trial and exhaustion. Like my digital character, we too need to withdraw into the “secret place” (Mt. 6:6) and recharge ourselves for the battles we are in and those still ahead– we do this through praise and worship.

But a little disclaimer, or at minimum a clarification is in order because some have been robbed of an incentive to praise God due to some confusion as to what the scriptures are admonishing us to do. When the scriptures say to “rejoice in The Lord at all times” (Phil. 4:4) it doesn’t necessarily mean we are called to praise the circumstances or praise what happened– or even necessarily praise God for what happened (Though at times that may be appropriate). Rather we are called at all times to praise God– period. In other words we are called to praise and offer thanksgiving to God in spite of what happened, not necessarily because of what happened. Why? Because we recognize that God’s praise worthiness does not rise or fall on the basis of events taking place on earth– or on Proximal Centauri, in the Andromeda galaxy, or anywhere in the universe. His praise worthiness is world independent. This is critical, praise 101 stuff we need to be grounded in. Otherwise our habits of praise become situationally dependent and never transcendent and transformative. Pure praise recognizes that God, in virtue of being God, is simply so awesome that he is deserving of our praise independent of the circumstances taking place around us– whether good or bad.

In numerous places the Bible talks about a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving” (Psalm 116:17, Heb. 13:15). The idea of sacrifice revolves around the idea of giving something up, losing something or surrendering something of value for the sake of something greater. King David once had the option of offering a sacrifice to God with animals that were given to him by another without cost. But King David rightly recognized that such a sacrifice would be no sacrifice at all, saying, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24).

The question before us today is, how much does our sacrifice of praise cost us? Do we only praise God when it costs us nothing, when there is nothing taxing our hearts? Do we only offer praise and thanksgiving when it is emotionally convenient for us? Sometimes a sacrifice of worshipping God will cost us surrendering up the “why” question and needing to fully understand all that is taking place. At other times the cost may be to our comfort such as sleeping in. Rather than shun them, we ought to intentionally look for opportunities to offer up sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving that cost us something. Sadly we all too often forfeit these opportunities because we are too turned inward with bitterness, anger or depression to recognize them.

Lastly love of God is the ultimate goal, the ultimate pursuit of our lives. Someone once said the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but the love of the Lord is wisdom completed. To love God more than loving our need to understand and have an answer is the greatest test of faith. For me trust is love and love is trust. The Lord graced my life with wise, impactful parents, and recently they reminded me, “Matt, the scriptures say trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. You can’t have both. You are either trusting the Lord through difficulty, disappointment and pain OR you are trusting your own understanding of that difficulty.”

 

 

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Boko Haram, Human Tribalism and Our Sole Hope

Nigeria has been in the news quite frequently due to the kidnapping of over 200 girls by an Islamic militant group called “Boko Haram” which literally means means “Western Education is Sin.” I recently asked my grandfather about the roots of Nigeria’s current ethnic and religious strife. My grandfather worked for the State department for over 30 years and spent much of his time in Africa.

I’ll start by quoting him on Nigeria’s present crisis being rooted in ill-conceived borders established through colonialism, and then I’ll proceed to make some comments in regards to how the gospel of the Kingdom is Africa’s sole hope for tribalism and strife.

My grandfather explained that, “In the case of Nigeria, the continent’s most populous land, the political problem has its roots in colonialism. The British colonized ‘all the lands drained by the Niger River’. Not really but almost, and made them into a single colony for administrative purposes. They really represent three separate countries. Islamic North, Christian South and Christian East. On Independence African countries faced this problem, and jointly decided too much blood would need to be spilled if they tried to reset borders, so they kept the colonial, unreal, borders.”

Interestingly, Nigeria’s current issues related to imposed borders from colonial times almost seems to mirror some current Middle East issues that stem from how the land was carved up and allotted. I don’t think the Kurds and the Sunnis (or the Shiites) will ever see themselves as a homogenized Iraqi citizenry no matter what map lumps them together.

This touches on a critical fact endemic to human nature. The stiffest borders are in the heart and it is where our hatred for all things different stews. I think this is why the “Kingdom of God” as Jesus preached it (and as Christians often fail to live it) is the only hope for a world that habitually seeks to dig the trenches between ourselves deeper and wider. In that sense I’m of the opinion that one of the most powerful verses in the Bible is Colossians 3:10-12:

“And put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him–a renewal in which there is no distinction between Gentile and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Only the Creator and Lord of life can take a heart of stone and infuse it with compassion, kindness and gentleness towards one’s perceived “enemy.” I almost find it amusing that Paul mentions the “Scythians” who in the 1st century were the most hated of all the Barbarians threatening the Roman empire. It is almost as if Paul was trying to think of the most extreme example a skeptic could come up with: “Surely not the Scythians? Surely we have a right to hate them! Surely we have a right to harbor animosity towards them?”

“Nope–not even the Scythians,” Paul would say.

Of course in my opinion having a Jesus-inspired Kingdom ethic founded on self-sacrificial love rather than swords and treating former enemies as one’s “neighbor” is impossible in the natural. It is just not in our “DNA.” As Paul implies it requires a “new self renewed in knowledge according to the One who created him.” In that sense it goes back to why Jesus said, “Unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom” (John 3:3). It is not easy seek the Kingdom above all else, but it is worth it. Yet whenever the Church considers it not worth it to “pray for your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those that hate you” (Mt. 5:44) simply because it’s not easy, we stop mirroring our professed Savior and start manifesting Caesar. We end up with Crusades and Inquisitions instead of Christ crucified.

The way of the cross or the way of Caesar, it was a choice Christ made that surprised the first disciples and still surprises us today. Every generation desperately needs to head the words of 1 John 1:1, “Whoever claims to live in him, must walk as Jesus walked.”

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Re-examining the O.T. Sacrificial System

Sacrifice

What’s the deal with the Bible and blood? What was the point of all that animal sacrifice? Why does the N.T., in referencing Christ’s death, often focus on the blood of Jesus? If Christ’s death was needed for our freedom from sin’s enslavement, why couldn’t Jesus just die at childbirth or die from pneumonia as an adult? Why is their an emphasis on his blood being spilled for our sins?

I hope to deal with some of these questions in the following post.

I was reading in Leviticus 17:10-11 today where God thoroughly condemned the eating of blood, the consequence being the possibility of death (i.e. “cut off”). The only reason given is that life is in the blood and God ordained blood for atonement, saying, “the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls.”

However I found myself still scratching my head and desiring a greater reason why the consequence for eating blood could be so severe as to possibly warrant the death penalty.

The following is what I have come up with. To begin it is noteworthy that in repeated places throughout the Scriptures God declares that he does not desire the blood of bulls and goats but rather a contrite, obedient, steadfast, thankful heart (1 Sam. 15:22, Isaiah 1:10-11, Hosea 6:6-8, 8:11, Mt. 9:13, 12:7, Ps. 51:16-17, Ps. 50:7-15). In fact when Israel lapsed into sacrificing animals out of tradition, without accompanying repentance, God condemned their animal sacrifice as being empty and meaningless. That is critical to note. Clearly God has always been most concerned with the conversion of the heart towards righteousness.

As such I believe sacrifice and specifically blood-letting was meant to remind through demonstration the severe consequences of sin (enslavement leading to death) and be a motivating factor not to continue in sin. But what happens when people stop considering the consequences of sin in their own lives? What happens when people stop reflecting on the high cost for sin’s atonement? What happens when sacrifices are done out of empty tradition and habitual ritual? What happens when people start viewing the blood of sacrifices as a common, ordinary thing? (More on this specific point at the end).

Apparently God realized the propensity for his people to lose sight of the costly consequences of their sin, so God was very intentional about establishing strict boundaries around one’s treatment of blood. Given that even science affirms that “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Lev. 17:11) and that to date no laboratory has been able to create or reproduce what the body makes naturally, then it is no exaggeration to assert that blood is the most valuable resource or commodity on the earth. God apparently thought the same and in Lev 17 God institutes a strict policy that blood is not to be eaten on the basis that it was given to men to atone for their sins.

Therein is the key. If blood is perceived as “life itself” and the most valuable commodity on the planet, and if God intended the shedding of blood to signify to all the high cost of one’s sin, then obviously its value would be greatly diminished in the eyes of everyone if it could be served up on a dinner plate like fried chicken!

When an animal was sacrificed on behalf of a sinner, the sinner was meant to see that blood and realize that because of their selfish actions, the debt owed had to be paid with the most valuable commodity on the planet: life. Something needed to die. It is somewhat a mystery to me, but sin exposes us in a manner that must be covered. To atone actually means “to cover.” But not just anything can be used to cover or atone for sin. Adam realized this early on. When Adam and Eve sinned everything changed about their self-awareness and world-awareness. We often hear a lot about the forbidden fruit taken but not about the name of the tree it came from: the “tree of knowledge of good an evil.”

Think of it as the tree of lost innocence. Immediately they began to feel self-conscious of their exposed nakedness. As a result they attempted to cover themselves with leaves. But it was not sufficient. God steps into the picture and atones or covers their nakedness with the hide of animal, implying two things: 1) an animal had to die in order that their exposure to a new, changed world could be covered, 2) sin always exposes us to a greater loss of innocence if left uncovered or unaddressed and 3) God’s motivation behind covering is our protection from being further violated by an evil world.

By way of example: think of two children growing up all alone on a remote island. They possess no clothes and thus wear no clothes. The entirety of their lives has been spent blissfully unaware of the greater world around them– that is until one day everything changes. They are picked up by a fishing vessel and dropped off at the harbor of New York city–still naked. Now keep in mind they have never been exposed to a racy magazine, a T.V. show or even a lewd joke. The distinction between nakedness and being clothed is somewhat lost on them. They begin to walk down the dark alley ways of New York City uncovered and nakedly exposed to the eyes, thoughts and imaginations of all those around them. What do you think will happen to them in time? They will no doubt be preyed upon and violated in ways that never would have occurred had their naked innocence been covered up and hence protected. Moreover being used and victimized will become their “new normal” since they have no point of reference telling them such violations of their innocence are wrong and destructive.

All that to say sin uncovers us and God seeks to recover us. Sin removes pieces of our “original clothing” (i.e. the image of God) and causes us to be further exposed to the “image of the world” in a defenseless manner. It could be God’s institution of animal sacrifice was a way for the remaining purity of his people, the “image of God,” to be protected by covering their exposure due to sin.

I need to say a short word on covenant. In the ANE culture when covenants were established it was customary for an animal to be sacrificed and split down the middle with both parties walking down the middle, symbolizing, “If I break covenant with you, let it be so done to me.” Now what is interesting to note is that when God first established a covenant with Abraham, the scriptures record only God walking between the split sacrifice. This in turn tells us God knew the day would come when he alone would absorb into himself the consequences of covenant-breaking sin and walk through the middle of death on behalf of a people who broke covenant with him. In the Hebrew language covenant literally meant “to cut a covenant” and therefore could not occur without sacrifice. That is why when Christ lifted up the wine glass and split the bread in two pieces, he declares, “This is a new covenant I give to you.” He knew he was about to walk through the split pieces, right through the middle of death just as he did with his Father years before when the Triune God made covenant with Abraham and walked through the split sacrifice– but this time he will be the sacrifice. 

With covenant now in view, we can better understand that life can be reduced to one of two spiritual realities. We are either offering ourselves to God in faithful covenant and becoming enslaved to righteousness and life, or we are divorcing ourselves from covenant life and becoming enslaved to sin and death. This is why Paul warns, “Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16).

Sin is a progressive violation–like a parasitical infection. It is never dormant and never content. It wants to consume, grow and enslave. James made this point when he essentially said sin conceived will grow up and eventually bring forth death (James 1:15). But perhaps that is a clue. If death is the final consequence of sin, then perhaps death is also the answer to sin.  Perhaps there are two kinds of “death.” There is death due to sin, and then there is death to deal with sin. If the power of sin introduced death to humanity, then perhaps death can also banish the power of sin from the sinner and the one holding the power of death over that sinner–i.e. Satan. This seems to be suggested in Hebrews where the writer declares that the central mission behind Christ’s death on the cross was to “destroy the one who had the power of death –the devil” (Heb. 2:14).

In the N.T. Christ’s death and resurrection dealt with the consequence of sin (i.e. death) and the power sin itself. That is to say Christ’s death and resurrection brought death to death, and essentially neutered its power over our lives. “Where O, death is your sting, where O, death is your victory” is the declaration of triumph we have in Christ according to 1 Cor. 15:55.

But since Christ’s coming and death occurred after the O.T. sacrifices at a time referred to as the “fullness of time,” the question that presents itself is, what to do in the run-up to that time? The writer of Hebrews speaks of the O.T. sacrificial system as foreshadowing what was to come, or a temporary copy of things to come. The O.T. sacrificial system could not conquer the power of sin and death as Christ’s sacrifice later did, but it was instituted as a means to temporarily forestall the death of the sinner who broke covenant with God, by substituting in the death of an animal. These are deep mysteries we cannot fully plumb.

What is clear is the Mosaic law establishing that the cost or the “wages of sin” is death just like the Scriptures will declare years later in Romans. But we need to be careful here. It is not a cost paid to God. We are wrong if we think God established animal sacrifice as a means for us to pay God back for our sin. The sacrificial system was not instituted as a means to buy God off with blood. That was the pagan viewpoint of animal sacrifice. Rather the sacrificial system and the bloody death of an animal was what it cost for one to recognize he or she was a sinner who broke covenant with God! It was always about the heart being driven towards righteousness and faithfulness and away from wickedness and evil. The Mosaic sacrificial system departs from other ANE pagan sacrifices on this point. The ANE pagan notion of animal sacrifice was rife with the notion that one could manipulate one’s god for good fortune. It had no ethical overtones whatsoever and it certainly had nothing at all to do with forgiveness or atoning for one’s sins.

But for the Hebrews the costly lesson that needed to be learned was that sin is a contagion and when left to its own devices it kills life by polluting, profaning and defiling life and ultimately cutting us off from the source of life. We become like a branch cut from a nutrient rich tree and replanted into plastic rubbish and garbage. Or as stated earlier, the “image of God” becomes increasingly lost to us as we pick up the “image of the world.” As one moves towards the profane and the unclean one is consequently moving away from God who is holy and set apart from the profane.

We often here the phrase, “sin separates us from God,” but the breach is not primarily caused by God cleaving the ground between us and him, stating you stand there and I’ll stand over here. Rather the separation is a direct result of walking toward the antithesis of good, of whom God is the paradigm. It takes no genius to see that the further you walk towards the left, the further away you are from the right. Similarly the closer you walk towards the profane and unholy, the further you are walking away from the sacred and holy. Sin is always a matter of adultery with the world leading to self-chosen divorce from God.

In the context of covenantal relationship and restored communion, reconstituting a severed relationship due to broken trust requires genuine contrition and repentance. However because covenant and communion with God is primarily a heart matter, it means contrition, repentance and purification is something that must take place on the inside not the outside. That is what the Pharisees and scribes missed and why Jesus called them whitewashed tombs on the outside filled with dead men’s bones in the inside. Moreover this is why the Mosaic sacrificial system as a whole was limited in what it could achieve in terms of man’s greatest need—i.e. presenting an internal, perfect conscience before God.

The O.T. sacrificial system was instituted as a means to drive man away from sources of defilement and back towards the Lord. But it was limited in that it was only an outward act, an outward gesture and therefore could not by itself achieve inward cleansing and purity of conscience. At best it could only hope to motivate someone to reflect upon their life and recognize that sin was inwardly ravaging their souls and only repentance and obedience could restore them to life and communion with God.

So we can sum up the ultimate intentions of the Mosaic sacrificial system as an incomplete means to bring distant hearts near to their creator. Sin had caused a breach between God and man. The O.T. sacrificial system would temporarily cover over sin and allow man to continue to live without fear of impending judgment. Bloody as it may be, it was rooted in mercy towards sinners. But sacrifices for sins could not deal with sin itself. It could not “take sins away” (Heb. 10:4; 9:26)! And it could not perfect or cleanse the inner conscience (Heb. 9:9,14).

However what the old the covenant could not do the new covenant came to address. Through Christ’s shed blood our sins have not just been covered and atoned for, they have been buried (Rom. 6:4)! The charges brought against us due to sin have been “nailed to the cross” and are no more (Col. 2:4). Through Christ’s shed blood we have obtained an eternal redemption that not only sets us right temporarily but declares us to be in the right eternally (Heb. 9:12; 10:14). That is why the writer of Hebrews emphatically says:

[Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[b] I will remember no more It [Mosaic covenant] was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscienceFor if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?(Heb. 8:6-8, 10, 12; 9:9, 13-14).

With that said, let’s return to our initial question as to why God was so adamant that blood be off the diet menu for Israelites (Lev. 17:10-11). It has already been noted that if God was trying to set apart the value of blood as being the costliest element on earth, with the intention being that the heart of man would be pierced through and gripped by the enormity of his sin, then the last thing you are going to do is allow your people to treat blood as a common, ordinary substance to be taken in and pooped out.

In the West we don’t particularly eat congealed blood, so it is no big loss in our minds. But in many cultures today eating congealed blood is considered delicious. And in the ANE culture of biblical times the eating of blood was a common practice in the pagan world, often done in concert with their blood sacrifices. But God says to his people, “It is not to be so with you.”

Now if God were to have said, “Thou shalt never drink milk, for the milk of a cow’s utter has been ordained to atone for your sins,” well then I would have real heartache because I love me some milk! Now just imagine if the cost of your sin was to bring your cow to the temple wherein a priest would fill up a pail of milk and then pour it over the alter to represent the high cost of your sin. Then imagine going home and milking your cow again by your own hand and pouring the milk down your gullet along with some manna bread and maize nuggets.

To treat the cost of sin on equal terms with food that is taken in and eliminated by the body is to treat the price of your atonement as a common, ordinary thing. If the entire sacrificial system was meant to demonstrate the enormity of one’s sin and bring conviction, contrition and conversion to the human heart, then it makes sense why God would enact such a stiff penalty on those that ate blood and treated it as a common element.

This in turn can help us make greater sense out of Hebrews 10:28-29 wherein the writers states that if the death penalty was handed down on those who “rejected the law of Moses”, of which the proper handling of blood was paramount, then:

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

What does it mean to treat Christ’s shed blood as a “common, ordinary thing?” Other translations opt for stronger wordage such as “profane, unclean or unholy.” But the overall sense is that the blood of Christ is being judged to be without special merit and as such belongs to general commonality rather specificity.

That is dangerous.

It is like radiation therapy. It is the only treatment for some forms of cancer, but if it not handled properly, if it is treated without special consideration, or if it treated as a “common thing”– no different or stronger than sun-tanning– then it’s mishandling is often it’s own death sentence. In other words, when we view the blood of Christ as being irrelevant to our lives and judge it as having no special place in our lives and having no special claim over our lives of sin, it is not only the greatest insult to heaven, but it also carries with it its own death penalty. We have removed from our lives the only means for our sins to be taken away.

It is like a prisoner rejecting a presidential pardon on the basis that it is an irrelevant piece of paper on par with toilet paper. Because he judges it as possessing no real or special value to his life, he is consequently choosing to reject the only means for his life to have a clean slate and a clean conscience. Such a person would be locking himself up from the inside and tossing the key away.

Consider another helpful illustration. Imagine being shipwrecked on the high seas and hoping for rescue as you struggle to tread water and keep your head from going under. All of a sudden a rescue boat appears and tosses you a life preserver to pull you in. But instead of receiving it you reject it as being irrelevant, common and ordinary like floating seaweed. You are rejecting your only source of rescue because you judge it wrongly. You judge it as common and ordinary.

To judge the blood of Christ, the most valuable commodity in the universe, as being inconsequential, irrelevant to your soul and belonging to the commonality of other religious claims is to rob yourself of your only hope and lay upon yourself your own debt of sin and a terrifying expectation of future judgment when the universe is audited, heaven and earth merge into one, and all that is still attached to sin becomes undone and vanquished forever.

 

 

P.S. One issue that still gnaws at my mind is the Mosaic law commands the death penalty for so many sins. So it is not sufficient to say the sacrificial system was a means for God to forgive sinners of their sin, because the Mosaic law is filled with examples and commands to enact the death penalty on those who transgress the law in other areas—such as human-child sacrifice and sexual perversion. Why could sacrifices atone for some sins but not others? What exactly is going on there? I’m not entirely sure. It could be that some sins needed to have a no tolerance policy so that the Israelites would not use God’s mercy and grace to renegotiate ethical or moral boundaries. It could be that God knew that the Israelites would rapidly cease to exist and be consequently subsumed into the pagan “Borg collective” if clear demarcations of holy and unholy, clean and unclean were not laid down with strict consequences enforced to serve as serious reminders. Thoughts?

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Was World Vision Rightly Rebuked?

Was World Vision rightly rebuked for their bizarre and contradictory public affirmation of same-sex marriage?[1] The answer to the question is both “Yes” and “No.” Yes, they needed to be rebuked, but that doesn’t therefore mean all those that took it upon themselves to do the rebuking, did so with the right motives or in the Spirit of Christ. As I have read various responses on the blogosphere from across the spectrum, I have been struck by the viciousness of people’s remarks towards World Vision. It is indeed sad. However I have also been struck by the indifference and subdued reaction by leading Christians who felt World Vision should have been given a pass simply because of the nature of their work. Though I am a big fan of Scott McNight I believe his critique and response falls in this category.

He writes:

When I think of World Vision and the monies Kris and I send to World Vision (and still will send should you care to know and we are thinking of adding to our support — and believe when I say I despise the culture wars and our support of WV has nothing to do with that), I think of words from the brother of Jesus at James 1:27, words that many of the critics of World Vision’s recent decision need to read with some integrity- and soul-searching:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

… The critics of World Vision, if the numbers are right, may be right in their own minds about what to believe, but they won’t be right before God if they lift those donations and don’t sink them into compassionate donations toward those in need in our world. And they are surely not right if they have merely taken an opportunity to pounce on brothers and sisters though they do not care about orphans and widows (this is not just about children, folks, it is about widows, the most neglected segment in the church today — read Miriam Neff’s book about widows, please).

Yes, many critics of World Vision will appeal to the last clause, a clause that says the kind of religion that stands before God the Father is about keeping “oneself from being polluted by the world.” But this clause does not sanctify what many think it sanctifies.

What is the world? In James that word will refer most especially to power-mongering, violence, and verbal assaults on one’s brothers and sisters. Notice James 1:19-21 and then 2:5 and 4:4 and especially James 3:13-15. James, as always, has much to say.

A good-before-God religion cares for the needy and eschews violence against one’s brothers and sisters [2].

Now I do like what McNight does here with James in addressing the vicious vitriol that World Vision has received by alleged Christians. He is quite right about that. But he is wrong if he thinks James’s statement to “keep oneself unpolluted from the world” is primarily a reference to uncharitable, vicious, mean-spirited attacks on our brothers and sisters. This just isn’t correct. In James 1:14-22 he clearly has in mind sinful passions, moral filth and disobedience to God’s moral commandments and mandates (which would necessarily include prohibitions to engage in homosexual acts, making marriage out of the question.)

Moreover McNight is profoundly mistaken if he thinks World Vision’s near decision to approve of same-sex marriage (and thereby jettison God’s sacred vision of family) is less significant or secondary to World Vision’s humanitarian efforts on behalf of widows and orphans. On the surface it is understandable why one might think that if  “widows and orphans” are being helped, then everything else must necessarily become secondary by default.

But this is not so–especially because of World Vision’s unique claim to be a para-church ministry. It is misnomer that “all sin is equal” in the eyes of God. Though we all may be equally in need of forgiveness and a Savior, there are certain sins and behaviors that are more of a threat to God’s created order than others. In particular God instituted both sex and marriage to exist in a sacred context for the betterment of humanity. We live in a day wherein that sacred context is not just being questioned but undermined from multiple directions.  There exists a concerted attack by the enemy to subvert the very foundation of God’s creative genius in encapsulating the fragility of human life within the strong cords of marriage and family. To overthrow God’s genius and replace it with “what seems good to us” can only result in discord where there was once order. 

As such this discord will spread and create more victims out of the most vulnerable–like the very orphans and widows World Vision seeks to aid. Sin is nothing less than behaviors and attitudes that lie outside God’s moral intuitions for the betterment of humanity. God in his wisdom informs us that the virus of sin can only be contained by repentance not redefinition.

Since World Vision’s decision would have made women and children even more vulnerable to a discordant, fallen world, then it matters little that their end goal is to ultimately alleviate the suffering of widows and orphans. Like a doctor with tuberculosis coughing all over his patients as he makes his rounds to treat them, World Vision would unwittingly be spreading a destabilizing, secular anthropology in the name of Christ. That’s the crucial point not to be missed. We cannot forget that World Vision markets itself as being the premier humanitarian arm of the Church. This is not an article that is trying to put that assessment in doubt. On the contrary, there is abundant evidence they do excellent work around the globe. But to intentionally subvert a core pillar of Christian anthropology through redefinition is to become a carrier of the very infection that creates scores of orphans and widows in the first place!

And that is the central thesis I am making. I believe many well-intentioned individuals have grossly miscalculated and underestimated what was truly at stake with World Vision’s decision (prior to its retraction) to affirm gay marriage as being within the scope of their biblically informed policy concerning marriage, fidelity and family.

Let us note that the ruin of any nation begins with the family.

Nothing less than a return to God’s glorious vision of family can heal the open wounds of a culture wherein orphans and widows are the collateral damage time and again. The Church has the only true anthropology for humanity and as such is its only hope. The social ills of our world are a result of successive generations willfully departing from God’s creational intention and sacred anthropology.

As someone who has worked with both orphans and widows in South East Asia for 6 years I can assure you that the majority of orphans and widows are a direct result of the systemic breakdown of the family– namely sexual promiscuity and fathers jettisoning their parental responsibilities and putting their wives and kids on life support. This in turn creates desperate poverty and greases the wheels for child-human trafficking.

I fully recognize that individuals like Scott McNight are opposed in principle to gay marriage on biblical grounds. Yet they seem to imply if people were to lift their donations due to World Vision’s seeming disregard of (biblically informed) sexual morality, that itself would be wrong. 

Why? Once again the implied narrative is that humanitarian efforts trump sexual mores imbedded in Scripture. Well that may be true if one is already dealing with a secular organization that has no affinity to the Church and does not claim to speak for her. For example I would have no problem giving a donation to the Red Cross for tsunami relief no matter their standing on gay marriage. It just isn’t an issue. But again the Red Cross doesn’t proclaim to be the Church in action. 

However World Vision does. And that’s the difference.

The Church and it’s para-church ministries are not only called to alleviate human suffering. They are called to be carriers of a Christian anthropology that recognizes that people are held captive to the lies of the Enemy from which many of the world’s social ills arise. They are called to bring a message of hope and healing in Christ that redeems, restores and realigns people as they are ushered into truth, light, justice and love. This is the Kingdom of God.

And sexual identity and conduct is not an issue on the peripheral fringe of the Kingdom. It lies at the core of the Christian ethos on what it means to be human and how we are to relate to each other. The Kingdom of God is identified by what it forbids just as much as by what it approves. We often forget that.

Furthermore we ought to clear up the misconception that someone’s sponsorship of a child goes directly to that child. That is not how it works. It goes into a pool. I don’t believe any child was actually dropped. Secondly those that I have read who did withdraw their support from World Vision did not subsequently pocket it. They reinstated it into organizations believed to be more consistent with biblical teaching. After all if World Vision is going to distinguish itself as being an extension of the Church in action, then they ought not take a position so clearly at odds with Scripture. 

But the larger point is that money in the form of child sponsorships IS NOT the cure and never will be. Rather it is modeling God’s Kingdom revelation of how men and woman come together and stay together. It is reaching into broken lives and introducing them to a vision of what God intended FAMILY to be– for the sake of the next generation. I cant stress that enough.

As good as World Vision is on the humanitarian front, there is no denying they attempted to trade in God’s vision of family for one concocted and fabricated by un-renewed minds and self-centered hearts– earthly, worldly wisdom as James would no doubt put it. Any organization or church that does so will cease to be God’s agent of transformation. Instead they will enter into a work solely of rehabilitation. They will attempt to rehabilitate what is wrong, rather than transforming what is wrong into God’s Kingdom likeness.

People we cant rehabilitate what the Bible clearly tells us needs to be crucified– our passions, desires and natures that miss the mark of God’s ideal [3]. World Vision wanted to make it easier for those outside the orbit of what God accepts as a family to be part of their worldly informed idea of what it means to a family. In turn they would be importing and disseminating a worldly-wise definition of family around the globe, but not a Godly wise one. As a friend once stated to me: “Things either promote the kingdom or they resist it.” 

World Vision would have unwittingly become part of the very problem they are trying to alleviate. They were right to be called out for it. Does McNight not think James would have called them out too? Notice I said “called out.” I am not judging anyone for departing from them or sticking with them– that is not my place. But they definitely needed to be rebuked. As a fan of Scott McNight I am a little disappointed that he does not appear to discern how World Vision was almost co-opted by the Deceiver to subtlety attack the family as God intended it for the health of our world– and in so doing put at risk an even greater number of widows and orphans.

Same-sex marriage is nothing less than a deceptively subtle attack on the sacredness of family as God intended. We are talking i-beams people! Not wallpaper and trim. Let the secular world go about its way redefining and recasting humanity into its own image. But let it not be so with us the Church! 

 

 

UPDATE: On the one hand I applaud World Visions president Richard Stearns for wanting to take a position that is fair and equal to all. But on the other hand, as a professed, evangelical Christian representing a Christian charity, he ought to know that not all actions and behaviors are equally endorsed in Scripture. This is not to say that World Vision or any Christian organization can’t hire persons who admit to same-sex attraction. Same-sex attraction is a state or an orientation. An individual can be a homosexual and still be a born-again Christian. The Bible only condemns homosexual acts. So whether it be genetic, developmental or a combination of both, homosexual attraction or orientation by itself is not sinful. However it is a defect and tells us something is amiss. The mere fact that it is impossible for any homosexual union to reproduce life should be the first tip-off that something is awry and ought not to be considered normative or healthy for human flourishing and family. All that to say the Church desperately needs to distinguish between homosexuality as a state or orientation and homosexual acts. To better understand the difference see the following article: www.reasonablefaith.org/a-christian-perspective-on-homosexuality 

World Vision would have been better served if they simply released a statement saying they will hire homosexuals who choose not to act on their orientation for the sake of Christ. Such people do exist and see it as their present cross to carry. They ought to have an equal place of service in God’s Kingdom work. I would have applauded World Vision big time had they made such a policy qualification. But to approve of same-sex marriage is to endorse homosexual acts– acts that scripture clearly condemns. 

Lastly I wholeheartedly welcome Richard Stearn’s humble retraction of World Vision’s short-lived policy mistake and applaud the genuine spirit of teachableness and humility he demonstrated in allowing their core values to be realigned by their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. [4] It is my hope that God would use this experience to grow and expand World Vision’s capacity to be a torchbearer of the light of the Kingdom around the world. 

 

[1] In an interview with Christianity Today in March 2014 Richard Stearns, World Vision’s president, declared: “Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues. It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.” Stearns then bizarrely added that their decision was not an official endorsement of gay marriage, saying, “It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there. This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.” To say there exists a contrariety within his statements is an understatement. He says they are not taking a position on same-sex marriage either way and then takes a position! He endorses same-sex behavior and marriage as being within the scope of their policy (which is itself informed by Scripture) and to say that is not an endorsement of gay marriage is sophistry of the highest form. 
[2]http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2014/04/07/world-vision-and-the-brother-of-jesus/#disqus_thread 
[3] We all know sin is any attitude or behavior that lies outside God’s Kingdom ideal–that includes both gay marriage and bigoted hatred of gay people. It is the unfortunate belief of our world today that anything less than approval of gay marriage is by definition bigoted and hateful. But that just isn’t true. People can tolerate both gay marriage and their supporters by simply disagreeing with them agreeably. For that is the definition of tolerance– otherwise you would not tolerate the views of others, you would agree with them!
[4] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html 
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