Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
There has been a paradigm shift that has occurred and is occurring in the battle to end abortion. I would summarize the focus of this shift to be about three primary aspect. First, we have begun speaking the blunt and hard truths of what abortion is. Instead of speaking of it as a healthcare issue or with euphemisms, we have begun to expose this murder for what it is in all its graphic and barbaric forms. We have used graphic images and videos of abortion. We have called it murder. We have refused to talk about it as healthcare.
Two, we have refused to compromise with the slaughter of children. There can be no compromise in any way with the intentional murder of children. There are no exceptions. This means that groups that pass bills compromising on the issue are being exposed as compromisers and are called to do what is right. We do not support exceptions for rape, incest, or health issues. Abortion is murder, period. We don't support measures that regulate abortion or say its ok to murder your baby if the abortion doctor can't find a heartbeat that they really won't be looking to find.
Thirdly, we are acknowledge that there is no such thing as neutrality. You will either submit to and obey God or you will rebel against him. The Supreme Court is not neutral nor are they God. The paradigm shift is pushing the “prolife” movement to acknowledge that either Christ is our God or the Supreme Court is our God. These three things, no neutrality, no compromise, and no flinching from the truth, are enabling those who battle this evil to do so with the power of God through faithfulness to him. This is having no small effect. There are and have been many haters and many difficult battles to make this shift but God is working and will be glorified. We are seeing because of this shift a change in the conversation nationwide even among those who are still operating under the old paradigm shift. Even those who are pro-abortion are having to acknowledge that this shift is happening.
This same paradigm shift must occur in the church’s battle with sexual immorality and the protection of the family. We must realize that there is no such thing as neutrality. The LGTB alphabet soup mafia does not believe in neutrality on this issue. They want to eradicate any and all opposition to their views. They readily acknowledge that they want to indoctrinate children and are doing so in the public library, public schools, and entertainment media. We in the church must recognize that there is no neutral ground on this issue. You will either celebrate this evil or you will hate it. You will either bow to the Supreme Court on this issue or you will obey God. We cannot give pretense to neutrality. We must call men to repentance and faith in Christ on this issue.
Secondly, we must recognize that compromise is unfaithfulness to our Lord. Where we compromise on sexual immorality in our personal lives, families, or churches, we are being unfaithful to God and will find ourselves losing this battle. Compromise on this issue starts with compromising on the distinction between male and female. It starts with women usurping authority and men shirking authority. It starts with failing to raise our boys to be boys and our girls to be girls. We teach our daughters to find their identities in their careers instead of preparing them to be the kind of young women Titus 2 says they should be. We are compromising by ordaining women in the church or having them be the primary leaders of worship.
Compromise happens when we fail to see how seriously the bible takes sexuality. In the very first chapter of the Bible we learn that God made male and female. All throughout scripture, we find that God takes sexual immorality very seriously. Things like adultery, incest, sodomy, and bestiality are considered crimes in the bible and God destroys nations for tolerating them. But we compromise by failing to take things like modesty, chaste speech, and what we entertain ourselves with seriously. We compromise by our pretense to neutrality. We do this by adopting a live and let live mentality. We say “what you do in your own bedroom is none of my business. Who am I to judge?” But this filth is not staying in the bedroom and those who practice it are all too ready to judge. We will either judge rightly or be judged.
Thirdly, and perhaps the hardest for us to to today, is that we are going to have to speak about this with the same blunt and forcefulness as we speak about abortion as murder. Those supporting sexual immorality have spent years working to change the paradigm on the issue. They have couched it all in terms of relationships and love. In turn, many in the church have been put on the back foot. We have started speaking about sodomy as something that just isn’t best for human flourishing. I guess you could say that when God reigned down fire from the sky on Sodom that humans were not flourishing too well that day. But we have began to soften the biblical and historical Christian witness against the sins. We have seen this in terms of relationship instead of abomination.
We have also embraced the terminology of sexual orientation. Many talk about same-sex attraction as if it is some neutral thing. This terminology of sexual orientation is a useful tool for those pushing this sexual immorality. To give one example, it has been used to try and distinguish between men who sleep with men and men who sleep with boys. That is they have tried to argue that no gay man abuses boys. The truth is that every time a man sexually abuses a boy, he is committing a same-sex sex act. That is homosexuality at work. But we have been taught that we can never make this connection.
The use of orientation language is often used to position those who commit sexual immorality as victims. They are victims of something they never chose. It is all God’s fault they are “gay”. The hard truth is that these men and women who give into to sexual temptation are morally culpable. They are not perpetual victims. Even if some of these people have been victims of sexual abuse, they are responsible for how they respond to that abuse. The “LGBT” movement has been good at painting themselves as victims in order to garner sympathy and support for their position.
The sexually immoral have managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the culture and of the church. Our work is going to be the hard and difficult task of pulling that wool off and exposing this evil for what it truly is. The bible commands us to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness. We are going to have to get over our addiction to being liked and being nice and speak the blunt truths of sexual immorality. We are going to have to work to restore the shame to this evil. We need to speak the hard truths of scripture and call these sins what they are, abomination, perversions, attacks on nature and nature’s God, filthy and disgusting sin worthy of death. We are going to have to expose the truth about the connection between sodomy and child abuse. We are going to have expose how sodomy destroys men’s bodies, minds, and souls.
Why must we do this?
1. We love God. And we want to be faithful to his word and his created order.
2. We love the church. We don’t want to see the church compromise and be stained with impurity. We don’t want it to lose its saltiness. Nor do we want to see future generations of the church facing the consequences of our inaction.
3. We love our children. We do not want to see them assaulted with lies and sexual perversion. We don’t want to see them fall into the destructive patterns of these sins. Nor do we want them to be a part of a nation that experiences the full wrath of God.
4. We love our country. God has placed us here and we are to be salt and light to it. We want to see it fall on its knees before Christ and honor him in the culture and the laws it enacts. We also don’t want to see it continued to be destroyed. We don’t want to see God wipe it from the earth as he has done with other nations that have followed this path.
5. We love those who are caught in these sins. We love those who practice these sins that destroy their minds, bodies, and souls and therefore we warn them truthfully, without compromise, and without neutrality. For their sake we cannot pretend there is some neutral ground where God is not to be obeyed, where Christ is not king. We cannot pretend as if the gospel cannot save them if they will humble themselves. For their sake we don’t compromise letting them continue in their pride. For their sake we speak the hard blunt truths that put the shame on what they are doing so that they may be humbled by the demands of God’s law and look to the only hope of forgiveness, Jesus Christ.
It is love that demands we refuse neutrality, refuse compromise, and refuse to speak soft words of peace when there is no peace. Love demands that we have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Church its time for a paradigm shift.
This past Sunday, JD Greear, the current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, preached this sermon entitle “How the Fall Affects Us All” to his megachurch in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Click the link here to see if for yourself.) He is going through the book of Romans and was covering chapter one. While he had some good points to make especially when it came to the issue of abortion, when it came to dealing with the issue of sexual immorality addressed in the chapter, Greear went off the rails. To be fair, He did not come right out and affirm homosexuality and lesbianism. He still said enough that he could point to a critic and say “I said it was sin.” What he did do though was soft-pedal the truth. He did everything in his power to make sure that people sitting in his congregation who are tired of hearing about these sins, would walk away feeling justified for their apathy. What he did was preach “peace, peace, when there was no peace.” He did this while at the same time making it look like those who are committed to the complete biblical truth on this issue should ashamed.
How so, you might ask. Didn’t he say that it is a sin? What he did was spend a lot of time downplaying the sin and spinning half truths and slippery lies. I am going to point out a few of these half truths and lies while still trying to be fair to Greear. To be honest, I don't particularly like having to be critical of those who claim the name of Christ but if I am going to be a faithful shepherd, I must do so.
The first thing he does when addressing this issue is “acknowledge upfront that… that historically, we in the church have not done a great job of talking about this and maybe even a worse job of caring for those going through this.” What he does here and elsewhere is to paint himself as caring and passionate while throwing the church under the bus. It is this classic move to ingratiate yourself with an audience by trying to position yourself as not as extreme as others. By doing this, he is already foreshadowing what he is about to do, which is to soften the biblical and historical teaching on homosexuality. He is abandoning the over 2000-year historical witness of the church on this issue. Let me give you an example of what faithful men in the past have said about this issue before moving on:
"Those offences which be contrary to nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detestation and punished; such were those of the Sodomites, which should all nations commit, they should all be held guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which hath not so made men that they should in that way abuse one another. For even that fellowship which should be between God and us is violated, when that same nature of which He is author is polluted by the perversity of lust." -Augustine
Sodomy is a “monstrous insanity,” “clear proof of the ultimate degree of corruption,” and “lusts after monstrous things.” – John Chrysostom
"Truly, this vice is never to be compared with any other vice because it surpasses the enormity of all vices.... It defiles everything, stains everything, pollutes everything. And as for itself, it permits nothing pure, nothing clean, nothing other than filth....The miserable flesh burns with the heat of lust; the cold mind trembles with the rancor of suspicion; and in the heart of the miserable man chaos boils like Tartarus [Hell].... In fact, after this most poisonous serpent once sinks its fangs into the unhappy soul, sense is snatched away, memory is borne off, the sharpness of the mind is obscured. It becomes unmindful of God and even forgetful of itself. This plague undermines the foundation of faith, weakens the strength of hope, destroys the bond of charity; it takes away justice, subverts fortitude, banishes temperance, blunts the keenness of prudence. And what more should I say since it expels the whole host of the virtues from the chamber of the human heart and introduces every barbarous vice as if the bolts of the doors were pulled out." - Peter Damian
"But all the other frenzies of passions–impious both toward the bodies and toward the sexes–beyond the laws of nature, we banish not only from the threshold, but from all shelter of the Church, because they are not sins, but monstrosities." – Tertullian
“the fearful crime of unnatural lust is worse than bestial desires since [it reverses] the whole order of nature”- John Calvin
“The unnatural lusts of sodomy and bestiality (sins not to be mentioned without horror) were to be punished with death, as they are at this day by our law”- Matthew Henry
“It is abomination; it is so to God, as the above instance of his vengeance shows(referring to Sodom), and ought to be abominable to men, as being not only contrary to the law of God, but even contrary to nature itself, and what is never to be observed among brute creatures.”- John Gill
“Shall the bestial vice of which Sodom was guilty never be checked? Why, if this should spread amongst the sons of men, it would bring in its infernal train ten thousand times more damage than the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sin itself is infinitely worse than the fire which burned it up.”- Charles Spurgeon
Faithful pastors throughout history have spoken clearly the truth from God’s word. They recoiled at the thought of this sin. The Bible says "the fear of the Lord is to hate evil." The church for 2000 + years has hated this evil. They have hated it because it dishonors God, makes a mockery of the created order, destroys the bodies and minds of those who practice it, and it endangers nations who tolerate it. It was love of God and love of neighbor that led these men to thoroughly condemn this sin, warn those who practice it of the wrath of God, and point all people to the only hope, Jesus Christ.
When J.D. Greear apologizes for the church historically doing a bad job on this issue, he is carefully distancing himself from this teaching. Why? Because our culture hates it. And because he wants to sound reasonable to our culture. As we work through the rest of what he says, keep in mind the above quotes from the history of the church and compare it to what Greear is saying.
Continuing on from this apology, Greear says that the Apostle Paul is not picking on homosexuality as if it is any worse sin than any other. Instead, Paul highlights it because it is easy to see as an abandonment of God’s design for “human flourishing.” He will come back to this notion that it is just the same as all other sin again in the sermon. But first he does do a decent job of addressing whether Romans 1 is only dealing with something like temple prostitution. There are some who have tried to differentiate between "monogamous homosexual relationships" (as if there really is a such thing in practice) and temple prostitution. They argue that the second is what is forbidden. Pastor Greear correctly says Romans is dealing with all homosexuality. However even in in the midst of this, Greear keeps making sure to point out that the Apostle Paul “isn’t picking on homosexuals.” It is just one example among many of how we move away from what the Creator designed for our flourishing. When you listen to the sermon, you will see how very careful Greear is to handle this with kid’s gloves. He is saying “Yeah, it’s a sin but don’t get your panties in wad because there are other sins too.”
Greear moves ahead through the passage talking about the other sins mentioned (he didn't spend much time on those who give hearty approval to this sin) before coming back to the issue of sexual immorality by saying we don’t get to pick and choose our afflictions. He says, “you can think of homosexuality as an affliction, and not just a sinful choice.” Now Greear is making a move towards adoption of sexual orientation language and of making a victim out of those who practice homosexuality. They are born this way. They didn’t choose it. This removes their moral agency from them. The bible does teach we are born with a sinful nature, but it nowhere uses this teaching to remove moral agency from people. It nowhere uses our sinful nature as a way to remove our guilt for our sin. The truth is no one would use this language for any other sin. We would not say that “you can think of murder as an affliction and not just a sinful choice.” Ultimately. what this language does is do what James 1 tells us not to do. James 1: 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. By calling it an affliction and making those who practice sodomy into victims, we are in effect placing the blame of sin on God.
Greear says after two decades of counseling that people “struggling with same-sex attraction” are dealing with an “unanswered prayer.” “Why didn’t God change them when they asked him to?” This is victimizing language. Instead of being sinners with sinful lusts that need to be repented of and fought against even daily, they are victims of something they don’t want. They aren’t responsible. Why would you repent and seek forgiveness for something you are not responsible for?
In the midst of all this, he does make a good point that just because something seems like an innate feeling or desire does not make it right. This is true because sinful desires come from our sinful heart. As Greear says, the Gospel is the answer to this. Jesus Christ came to set us free from the power of sin. He came that we might be declared righteous and that we might grow in holiness. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we repent of our sin and mortify the desires of the flesh.
But again as Greear says truth, he mixes it with error. He uses a false dichotomy that has become popular among the gospel coalition types. “It is not gay to straight but lost to found.” This is a false dichotomy that leads people to believe that one can continue to be “gay” while being found. Pastor Tim Bayly has written about this error on his blog here.
Having said with all kinds of careful and precious caveats that God is concerned about homosexuality, Greear than says one way we go wrong about homosexuality is to think that it is a worse sin than others. He says it is the same as other sins. This is a lie. All sin deserves the wrath of God but there are degrees of sin in the Bible. There are some so wicked that God declares to be crimes to be punished by the civil magistrate. Some are so wicked he destroys cities off the map for practicing.
The Westminster Larger Catechism says it this way:
Q. 150. Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God? A. All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
Now why does it says this? Question 151 gives several reasons why sins might be more heinous than others. Pay careful attention to number 3.
Q. 151. What are those aggravations that make some sins more heinous than others?
A. Sins receive their aggravations,
1. From the persons offending if they be of riper age, greater experience or grace, eminent for profession, gifts, place, office, guides to others, and whose example is likely to be followed by others.
2. From the parties offended: if immediately against God, his attributes, and worship; against Christ, and his grace; the Holy Spirit, his witness, and workings against superiors, men of eminency, and such as we stand especially related and engaged unto; against any of the saints, particularly weak brethren, the souls of them, or any other, and the common good of all or many.
3. From the nature and quality of the offense: if it be against the express letter of the law, break many commandments, contain in it many sins: if not only conceived in the heart, but breaks forth in words and actions, scandalize others, and admit of no reparation: if against means, mercies, judgments, light of nature, conviction of conscience, public or private admonition, censures of the church, civil punishments; and our prayers, purposes, promises, vows, covenants, and engagements to God or men: if done deliberately, wilfully, presumptuously, impudently, boastingly, maliciously, frequently, obstinately, with delight, continuance, or relapsing after repentance.
4. From circumstances of time and place: if on the Lord’s day, or other times of divine worship; or immediately before or after these, or other helps to prevent or remedy such miscarriages; if in public, or in the presence of others, who are thereby likely to be provoked or defiled.
There are different reasons why some sins are more heinous. Greear says that homosexuality is just one of a bunch of sins that are equally depraved. In doing this, is his objective to raise in our mind the seriousness of all the other sins or is it to soften the seriousness in which we think about sodomy? The whole time Greear speaks about homosexuality the effect is to minimize its seriousness. Over and over again he speaks in a way that apologizes for having to say it is a sin. Go back and compare this with what faithful men of God throughout church history have said. Compare it with scripture.
It is a tactic of those seeking to push for the normalization of sodomy to minimize its sinfulness by comparing it to all other sins that they also consider minuscule. They compare it to gluttony or telling a little lie. Notice that they don’t compare it to bestiality, pedophilia, incest, and murder. What does scripture do?
“Lev 18:21-23 You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.
What JD Greear does here is soften our view of this sin. He removes the shame and disgust we have for it. Now imagine him doing the same for pedophilia. Imagine him speaking the same way about it. Sex with children is just one among many ways we do what is not best for human flourishing. Paul wouldn’t pick on it.
The truth is the reason Paul brought up sodomy was because it is so vile. He made a point to bring up one of the most wicked sins. He knew his readers would see it as such. Why would he do this? Because in chapter 2, he points to the hypocrisy of those who have the law of God and don’t obey it. He uses it to then show that the Jews also had no excuse and were sinners in need of Christ.
At a first glance and if you are not careful, you might accuse the Apostle Paul of doing what J.D. Greear was doing. When Paul transitions in chapter two and accuses those who have the law, you might say “see Paul is saying that sodomy is just as bad as their sin.” But that is backwards. Paul is not using the sins of those who have the law to diminish sodomy’s sinfulness. Instead he is using how wicked sodomy is to highlight the hypocrisy of those who judge and do the same things. He has pointed to something everyone agrees is an abomination and then uses their agreement to highlight their own sinfulness. In doing this, Paul doesn’t diminish the sinfulness of sodomy. He isn’t soft pedaling it. It is the fact that it is considered so wicked to even those who only have the light of nature, that his tactic works to convict those who have been given God’s written law.
What JD Greear is doing is lowering the standard, not raising it. Furthermore, Greear goes on to make a big point that those who are judgmental are as equally depraved. Why say that? It is to shift the shame of sodomy onto those who would stand strongly against. It is as if to say “ yeah sodomy is bad but you better not get that upset about it because that is just as bad if not more.”
He goes on to quotes Jen Wilkin, a woman whom he says is one of their favorite bible teachers. (I won’t mention what the bible says about women teaching men.) She says:
“We ought to whisper about what the Bible whispers about, and we ought to shout about what the Bible shouts about. And the Bible appears to whisper when it comes to sexual sin compared to it shouts about materialism and religious pride.”
Is this true? Does the bible whisper about sexual sin?
Two of the Ten Commandments address sexual sin. The Bible calls sodomy an abomination and a crime to be punished by death. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is a shout if there ever was one. The book of Jude shouts it this way: “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” The Apostle Paul says of sexual sin in 1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. In fact in that same chapter, we are given one of the only examples of church discipline carried out in scripture. It concerned sexual immorality. The church when it gathered in Acts 15 also thought sexual immorality was a big enough deal to shout about. They declared that all the churches should refrain from sexual immorality. Again, the Apostle Paul declares it is the very will of God that we abstain from sexual immorality. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God.
To say that the bible whispers on sexuality is a lie. Greear is changing Christian witness against such sins and placing the shame that belongs on that sin on those who are “judgemental” enough to stand strongly and boldly against them. There has become this movement today which seems to think that the only thing Jesus preached against was being a “pharisee.” And to be a pharisee according to this movement is to be someone who is concerned to obey the word of God and to see his law obeyed in all of society. You are a pharisee if you strongly oppose sodomy being legalized and celebrated. You are a pharisee if you care about the ten commandments. You are a pharisee if you are religious. If you go to church and try to obey God and you are troubled by what is happening in the world, you are a pharisee and don’t you know Jesus hated the pharisees.
Pharisees, however, were those who replaced the law of God with men’s law. They were hypocrites who did not worship God. They were people in power who pushed their law over God’s. You know who the pharisees are today? The LGBT political groups and politicians pushing their law and forcing those who want to obey God to submit to their wicked decrees. If you want to really be like Jesus, oppose the powers that be who are pushing their law over Gods. In addition, be opposed to those false prophets who proclaim “peace, peace” and soften the word of God against sin. Be opposed to people who want to shame you for being concerned about the wrath of God coming against your community because of its rebellion. Be opposed to those who whisper the truths of scripture that the world doesn’t want to hear while shouting what the world loves.
Next, Greear says something quite outrageous. He says when you understand like Paul that you are chief of sinners “you will stop being a judgmental Pharisaical dispenser of the law and you will suddenly become a gospel witness”. He says that “your life will no longer be filled with judgmentalism and fundamentalism but with compassion.” "When you fully understand the gospel, you will stand up and be among the fiercest advocates for the dignity and rights of LGBT." Now this is all couched in terms of acknowledging our own sins and recognizing that we need the gospel as much as others. That much is true. The gospel should humble us and if we have been forgiven, we should forgive other. But how do we get from showing grace and mercy to others to being a fierce advocate for the rights of LGBT? And this is not just a slip of the tongue by Greear. When you watch the video, you see him read that phrase from his notes. He was deliberate and exact on purpose.
Just replace LGBT with the any other sin in his statement and you will see how outrageous it is. When you understand the gospel, you will be among the fiercest advocates of the rights of pedaphiles. Christians should be the biggest defenders of the rights of adulterers. Christians should be the biggest defenders of the rights of thieves. Christians should be among the biggest advocates of the rights of murderers. Christians should be the biggest defenders of the rights of people attracted to pigs.
It does not work. No one is saying that we should not treat people with respect and dignity. But there is something more being implied here. In particular when we start talking about the rights of LGBT people, we are dealing with all kinds of assumptions.
First of all, this statement along with others Greear has made indicates an unbiblical view of identity. To talk about LGBT people is to adopt an unbiblical view of sexual orientation. The bible calls them sodomites or homosexuals in the same way it calls someone who steals a thieve. It is not a badge to be worn in pride. It is not an unchangeable inherit identity.
Secondly, what kind of rights do these “LGBT” people have? What rights are we supposed to be advocating for? Do people who practice homosexuality have a right to redefine marriage? Our Supreme Court thinks so. What about Christians who are supposed to be among the fiercest advocates of the rights of homosexuals, are they supposed to be fighting for this redefinition? What about the right to adopt children? What about the right to cakes and wedding photos?
And are there any rights they give up by practicing the sin of sodomy? Murderers for example have a right to a fair trial but according to the biblical standard they also forfeit their right to live. The Bible teaches that sodomy is not only a sin but a crime to be punished by the civil magistrates. This was the law in the west for years. Should Christians have been pushing back against those laws? What about in countries that still have laws against sodomy, should Christians be fighting fiercely to repeal those?
The problem with this statement by JD Greear is that at the very least it is too vague and leads to misunderstanding. At worst, it is a complete capitulation. This vagueness which I am saying is a bug might actually have been a feature for Greear. He has been downplaying the sin of sodomy while still wanting to sound like he is holding the line. It is unfaithfulness to the word of God masquerading as faithfulness.
He goes on to say more which I won’t spend much time on. He doubles down on the false dichotomy that heterosexuality is not holiness. He says its not about being set free from homosexuality, its about be forgiven of your sin. He says homosexuality won’t send you to hell. The Bible literally says the opposite. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is very clear. It is a mess mixed with half-truths.
Now, why am I bothering to write about this? I don’t usually take the time to work through a sermon of someone else and critique it. As a pastor, I realize that any sermon anyone preaches, could be nitpicked to death. I am sure there are sermons of mine, you could find something to quibble about. Is that what I am doing here, am I just nitpicking? I don’t think so. This is the President of the Southern Baptist convention compromising the truth of scripture. I am not a Southern Baptist anymore in part because I have seen that the leaders in the SBC are pushing compromise on the issue of homosexuality and are jumping on a social justice kick void of biblical justice. But I did go to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have friends and family still in the SBC. It pains me to see what is happening among the leadership on this issue.
And it is not just the leadership who are caving. I served in several SBC churches over the years. Southern Baptist churches and especially mega churches are already filled with people struggling to hold the line on this issue. The cultural wind is blowing against them. Many have coworkers or family members who are embracing this wickedness. These people need bold leadership to help them stay strong and to be faithful especially because of many of them just want the issue to go away. They just want the permission to resort to an apathetic “you do you and I’ll do me, live and let live” mentality. They want a way to not make a big deal about it. Rather than to have to face persecution for refusing to bake a cake or call a man a woman, they want a way to cave and still be spiritual. They want to avoid being hated. They want to avoid persecution. I know this because I have worked inside SBC churches with people just like this. To them, the biggest sin was to be “judgmental.” The worst thing they could ever do was to tell their cousin who is practicing homosexuality to repent. I have also seen this play out over and over again while street preaching. “Judge Not” is America’s favorite bible verse. This sermon just tickled all of those ears. It just gave permission to all those people to compromise the truth.
This is heartbreaking on several fronts. God’ bride is being slandered by pastors who apologize for the historical witness of the church on this issue. God’s word is being mishandled by pastors who soft pedal the hard truths. God’s glory is being attacked by a world that hates God as creator. They are rebelling against the created order. Pastors who soften the biblical teaching are participating in this assault on the glory of God. The Gospel is being diminished when we act as if this sin is an identity that Christ cannot overcome.
People who are tempted to these sins are harmed when we do not speak truthfully about how shameful these sins are. They are harming their bodies by the sexual activity. Men are doing lasting physical damage to their bodies. Women are harming their bodies by suppressing their femininity. Not only are they harming their bodies, they are harming their minds. How many people giving into these temptations are guilt ridden and suicidal? Some might argue that by shaming this sin, we are contributing to the suicide rate. But the suicide rate is extremely high in countries that have been tolerant of this sin for years. Lastly, the people who are giving in to this temptation are harming their souls. The Bible is clear, those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God. Contrary to Greear, homosexuality does send people to hell. If we are truly going to respect the dignity of these people as image-bearers, we are going to speak truthfully about how shameful and wicked this sin is. We will not give them excuses or call them victims. Instead, we will point them to the only medicine for their soul, the grace of God through Jesus Christ. We will give them the hope of victory over this sin that is found in him.
When we do not speak the truth on sodomy, we are not only attacking God’s glory and hurting those tempted to these sins. We are harming our neighbors who are not attempted to these sins. We harm them by helping them give hearty approval to this wickedness. We are encouraging them in their rebellion. And when we do not deal faithfully with God’s word, we are putting entire communities, states, and nations at the danger of God’s wrath. Do we honestly think God’s dealing with Sodom was the only time God dealt with a people for practicing this? There are other examples in history. God told the Israelites he was kicking the people out of Canaan for their tolerance of these sins. These examples are for our benefit. God will deal with our nation for this. God will also deal with churches who tolerate this sin. God will deal with pastors who tolerate it. God will deal with shepherds who leave the gate open for thieves and wolves.
I pray that JD Greear repents of his cowardice and compromise in this sermon. I pray the faithful shepherds in the SBC step up and bring discipline to the convention. This should be a wake up call for all Southern Baptists.
Revelation 2: 13-17‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’
Yesterday, we published an article by Ben Carmack called “Speaking Frankly on Sodomy” dealing with the response of Presbyterian elder Mike Pompeo to Sen Booker asking “if being Gay is a perversion” You can read for yourself the whole article here.
A few people online took issue with Mr. Carmack’s statement that “we have ceased using the term “sodomite” or “sodomy” when speaking of those tempted to same-sex intimacy and of the indecent acts they are tempted to perform.” The complaints ranged from the use of the word “sodomy” is unnecessarily inflammatory to arguing that the word “homosexual” predates the LGBT movement. The main thing that all the complaints had in common was that they did not see how the change from “sodomy” to “homosexuality” to "same-sex attraction" was all that big of a deal.
One person sent me a google books ngram viewer tracing the word sodomy and homosexual over the 20th century as proof that the word sodomy wasn’t used. Notwithstanding the fact that the google books ngram viewer has some legitimate accuracy problems that Wire has documented here, I decided to expand the graph to the 1600s. I think the discerning reader will see that this graph rather than disproving Ben’s theory highlights it.
The Huffington Post wrote this article about the man who coined the term “Homosexual.” This is what they said “Kertbeny’s role in fighting for gay rights is rarely mentioned. His one lasting legacy was that he was the man who invented homosexuality, or to be more precise, the one who coined the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual.” Kertbeny felt that the common phrases of the day were unfairly pejorative and wanted more neutral terms.”
Notice that the reason for the new word is to provide a neutral term that softens the blow of pejoratives like “sodomy.” Now why is “sodomy” a pejorative? Because it shows the end result of the act. If we are completely honest, the reason people don’t like the word is precisely why we should be using it. They don’t like the fact that it contains within it the idea of God’s judgment. Everyone knows what happened to Sodom because of their abominable and perverse acts. That is why they hate the word and consider it a pejorative. It has the sting of shame and judgment right within the word. The two things our sinful nature hates more than anything is shame and judgment. Yet both shame and judgment are the precise thing that those tempted to this sin need to hear about it. They need to know that this crime of Sodom brings with it shame and the judgment of God. The most loving thing they can hear is "stay away from this shameful act that brings the judgment of God. Flee the shame and judgment and look to Christ who can forgive." They don’t need a clinical and neutral term.
Nor do they need a term that can become their identity. Historian and philosopher Michel Foucault argued in his book “The history of Sexuality” that homosexual and heterosexual identities didn't emerge until the 19th century. Prior to that time, the terms described practices and not identity. The word “sodomy” and “sodomite” describe shameful practices and a label for those who practice them. It is similar to the word theft and thief. One is a thief when he commits theft. Thief is not an identity however to latch onto. You can search high and low in your Bible but you will not find the idea of sexual orientation. You will see the use of terms to describe those who practice indecent acts and are given to unnatural desire.
Even Wikipedia understands that the use of the term Sodomy has been the regular practice of the church for years. This is what it says “The term is derived from the Biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Christian churches have referred to the crimen sodomitae (crime of the Sodomites) for centuries.” For example, “in the early 5th century, Jerome, a priest, historian, and theologian used the forms Sodoman, in Sodomis, Sodomorum, Sodomæ, Sodomitæ.”
Having said all of that, are we arguing that you must always use the word “sodomy” and never the word “homosexuality?” No. That was not even the main point of Mr. Carmack’s article. His point was that we need to be able to say clearly that homosexuality/sodomy is wicked, perverse, shameful, and harmful. We better not speak about it in precious words. Nor should we be ashamed to say the truth. The lives of people caught in this abominable act are at stake and they don’t need Christians especially elders and pastors to be ashamed of the truth. They don’t need us to soft-peddle this. No matter how much you try to put on a smile and use the word “gospel”, you are not helping anyone nor honoring the Lord when you soften the blow of sin. Our Lord and Savior died a bloody and shameful death for sin, sin like this. We are not honoring him by talking about sin in precious ways, no matter how many times we say the word "gospel." So whatever word you use, make sure that you convey the shamefulness that this sin brings. It harms the bodies and souls of people tempted to it. People’s souls are at stake. Furthermore, this sin is not only a sign of God’s judgment but it brings God’s judgment upon churches and nations that tolerate it.
Leviticus 20:22-23 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.
Pastors, seminary professors, and denomination leaders who are helping to remove the shame from this sin are hastening the judgment of God upon this nation. They may not be long for this world, but our children and grandchildren will be here and they will suffer as God pours out his judgment. As a pastor, I have no patience for pastors who are ashamed to speak to this issue with the blunt truth.
I want to leave you with this excerpt from a sermon by John Chrysostom. He was one of the most well know Christian preachers during the late 300s AD. Compare this with how precious our modern teachers speak. May God raise up more men with the golden tongue of John Chrysostom.
"(T)hese I say are even worse than murderers: since to die even is better than to live under such insolency. For the murderer dissevers the soul from the body, but this man ruins the soul with the body. And name what sin you will, none will you mention equal to this lawlessness. And if they that suffer such things perceived them, they would accept ten thousand deaths so they might not suffer this evil. For there is not, there surely is not, a more grievous evil than this insolent dealing. For if when discoursing about fornication Paul said, that "Every sin which a man does is without the body, but he that commits fornication sins against his own body" 1 Corinthians 6:18; what shall we say of this madness, which is so much worse than fornication as cannot even be expressed?
For I should not only say that you have become a woman, but that you have lost your manhood, and hast neither changed into that nature nor kept that which you had, but you have been a traitor to both of them at once, and deserving both of men and women to be driven out and stoned, as having wronged either sex.
And that you may learn what the real force of this is, if any one were to come and assure you that he would make you a dog instead of being a man, would you not flee from him as a plague? But, lo! You have not made yourself a dog out of a man, but an animal more disgraceful than this. For this is useful unto service, but he that has thus given himself up is serviceable for nothing. Or again, if any one threatened to make men travail and be brought to bed, should we not be filled with indignation? But lo! now they that have run into this fury have done more grievously by themselves.
For it is not the same thing to change into the nature of women, as to continue a man and yet to have become a woman; or rather neither this nor that. But if you would know the enormity of the evil from other grounds, ask on what account the lawgivers punish them that make men eunuchs, and you will see that it is absolutely for no other reason than because they mutilate nature. And yet the injustice they do is nothing to this. For there have been those that were mutilated and were in many cases useful after their mutilation. But nothing can there be more worthless than a man who has pandered himself. For not the soul only, but the body also of one who has been so treated, is disgraced, and deserves to be driven out everywhere. How many hells shall be enough for such?
But if you scoff at hearing of hell and believest not that fire, remember Sodom. For we have seen, surely we have seen, even in this present life, a semblance of hell. For since many would utterly disbelieve the things to come after the resurrection, hearing now of an unquenchable fire, God brings them to a right mind by things present. For such is the burning of Sodom, and that conflagration! And they know it well that have been at the place, and have seen with their eyes that scourge divinely sent, and the effect of the lightnings from above."
Written by Joseph Spurgeon
Disclaimer: This post is not for young readers.
Last Thursday, Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo was grilled by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker about his view of the sex act of sodomy.
Senator Booker asked, “Do you believe gay sex is a perversion, yes or no? Yes or no, sir? Yes or no, do you believe gay sex is a perversion?”[i]
Mr. Pompeo, according to Wikipedia, is a Presbyterian deacon who teaches Sunday School. His local congregation is affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, one of many breakaway evangelical Reformed denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Not only is Mr. Pompeo an evangelical, he is Reformed. Not only is he Reformed, he is a Reformed church officer. Not only is he a Reformed church officer, he is a civil magistrate of high position, a deacon of God to do good for We the People of these United States. How did he respond to Senator Booker’s question?
He avoided directly answering the question, promising Senator Booker that he earnestly believes in the dignity of all people, and that he would be scrupulous, as he is now as CIA Director, to defend the marriage rights of the gays and lesbians under his command.
While this answer will ensure that Mr. Pompeo will continue to serve in government, was his answer faithful? Did our brother in Christ Mike Pompeo faithfully witness to Jesus Christ before the U.S. Senate, or did he hide his light under a bushel?
Mike Pompeo did not faithfully represent Jesus Christ before Senator Booker, but chose to hide his light under a bushel for the sake of his hopeful confirmation as Secretary of State. We, as Reformed evangelicals, or even as Presbyterians (some of us), shouldn’t look down on Mike Pompeo for his faithlessness. All of us have learned well how to avoid suffering for Jesus’ sake. We learn from Mike Pompeo’s poor example that we must mortify our desire for acceptance, and be willing to bear our Savior’s reproach by faith.
The Holy Spirit, Who is fully God and fully one with the Father and the Son, inspired every word of Holy Scripture. That means that those “Red-Letter Christians” who claim Jesus, the Son, never spoke against homosexuality are wrong, and implicitly Unitarian and/or Arian.[ii] Rather, we Christians confess that all of Scripture is God-breathed, and that what was inspired by the Holy Spirit is affirmed by the Father and the Son. What the Holy Spirit inspired is what Jesus says also. Defending Scripture is defending Jesus.
Jesus says that men who lie with men have committed an abomination (Lev. 18:22). Jesus recorded for us the terrible judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and before that judgment, the attempt of all the men of Sodom (both young and old) to have relations with the angels who visited Lot’s house (Genesis 19). The Church has historically referred to the sexual penetrative act common among homosexual men has “sodomy.” This word reminds us of the “degrading passions” (Romans 1:26) that led to God’s fearful judgment of fire and brimstone on the Cities of the Plain, and that this judgment will fall on us also if we do not repent of our sexual perversion.
Note my term, “sexual perversion.” All Christians with even a tiny bit of biblical literacy know that sodomy, gay sex, is a perversion, just as Senator Booker asked. Why didn’t Mike Pompeo answer an emphatic “Yes”? I can think of two reasons.
The first is that in the Church over the last several decades, we have ceased using the term “sodomite” or “sodomy” when speaking of those tempted to same-sex intimacy and of the indecent acts they are tempted to perform. As a result, sodomy and sodomites have become mainstream in our society, but as that has happened, little is said about what sodomy actually is: men buggering one another up the poop chute.[iii] We fail to speak frankly, which is to say manfully, about what sodomy is. In doing so, we have removed the shame from sodomy, and so the sodomites have eagerly reassigned the shame to those who oppose their sin. Modern sodomites, just like their forebears in Genesis 19, detest anyone who judges what they do with righteous judgment (Gen. 19:9).
God designed the sexual act to be mutually pleasurable for both man and wife. Sodomy inverts this order: only one, the initiator, receives pleasure. The recipient experiences pain and humiliation. According to Dr. Robert Oscar Lopez, a former homosexual, drug and alcohol use are indispensable in the gay community, for they make the sex acts bearable.[iv]
The natural sex act of man and wife brings forth life, both literally and figuratively; sodomy brings forth pain and disease. Sodomy is incredibly unsanitary and dangerous. The Apostle Paul referred to this when he wrote that those who engage in un-natural degrading passions receive in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Romans 1:27). The Apostle Paul was not ignorant of precisely what sodomy was and he did not shrink from condemning it.
The old Common Prayer book marriage liturgy contained a vow from husband to wife: With my body, I thee worship. This vow contains a potent truth: just as our worship practice shapes our theology, how we think about God, so our sexual practice informs how we think about others. The natural sexual union of marriage commending by Scripture spurs us on to mutual self-giving love and fruitfulness. Sodomy spurs us on to an unspeakable selfishness that seeks to gratify our lusts no matter the cost. It forms in us callousness to the suffering of others, while we think only of ourselves. Thus, it is inevitable that a society that celebrates sodomy will also tolerate or even promote gross injustice and selfishness, e.g. the killing of the unborn, the aged and the sick.
The selfishness of sodomy isn’t limited to sodomites only, but extends to the rest of us. That brings me to the second reason Mike Pompeo failed to call sodomy a perversion--it’s because he--and us--have a guilty conscience.
The aim of the sexual revolution is to turn all of us into perverts. When all of us have been corrupted by our pornography, by our liaisons in high school or college, or by the sexual abuse and incest we endured--or perpetrated-- in our younger years, none of us have the heart to condemn the sodomite in his perversion. Even if we have avoided the aforementioned perversions, our association with a corrupt society implicates us in the corruption, just as the corruption of Sodom corrupted Lot and his family. None of us are clean or guiltless.
The warning of Sodom and Gomorrah is a warning for all of us. Like sodomites, we must flee our sin and corruption and turn to Jesus, for it is by His blood that our perversions can be paid for and removed from our account. Only by standing in Christ’s righteousness--not our righteousness, but Christ’s righteousness--may we declare that sodomy is a perversion, and that all perverts, including us first and foremost, must repent.
Faithlessly remaining silent and allowing ourselves and those we love to suffer the same fate as that of Sodom is intolerable for a Christian. We must have the faith to answer men like Senator Cory Booker: Yes, Senator, sodomy is a perversion, and while I’m no better than the sodomites, I know a God Who can save sexual perverts.
[i] Steven Nelson, “Cory Booker presses Mike Pompeo: ‘Do you think gay sex is a perversion?’” Washington Examiner April 12, 2018. Accessed April 14, 2018. www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/white-house/cory-booker-presses-mike-pompeo-do-you-think-gay-sex-is-a-perversion
[ii] Unitarian - Someone who denies the Trinity, saying God is only singular, not Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Arian -- Someone who denies Jesus was fully God, but was instead a created being.
[iii] I’m indebted to the late columnist Joseph Sobran for this phrasing.
[iv] Dr. Lopez describes his experience here: www.englishmanif.blogspot.com/2018/01/mapping-the-swamp-charting-sodom-in-2018.html His whole series on “Charting Sodom” is excellent and worth reading.
Written by Benjamin Carmack
Sunday 10:30 AM