For the next few days, I'll be responding to an article on the Foucs on the Family website. The article in question is Responding to Pro-gay Theology: General Religious Arguments, by Joe Dallas. Today we'll be looking at the introduction.
Mr. Dallas starts out by listing several statistics about how Americans feel about "absolute truth". Not surprisingly, the majority of Americans don't believe in the concept of absolute truth. After all, whose absolute truth would we believe in? Mr. Dallas's interpretation of the bible? Our own? Declaring something to be absolute is incredibly dangerous. Example: someone (Dobson) says that abortion is wrong, absolutely. What if the woman would kill herself (and, it follows, her unborn child) if she couldn't have an abortion? What if the woman would die (either from being unable to have chemo treatments, the strain of carrying a baby, etc., which is not so terribly uncommon) without an abortion? What if the baby would be born with so much congenital disease that his life on earth would be short, yet fraught with pain and suffering? Yes, these are extreme examples, but they go to show that making an absolute statement is almost always ignorant.
In addition, the concept of absolute truth is unbiblical. Those who think they know something do net yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God. (1 Corinthians 8:2-3) So I guess I don't find the lack of belief in absolute truth to be such a disastrous sign, as Mr. Dallas seems to.
He goes onto say that: "In short, self-identified Christians in the twenty-first century are Biblically ignorant." Which I find almost amusing, considering what comes next. Mr. Dallas goes onto list three passages of scripture, supposedly to show that "...there is a place for gentleness. But never at the expense of truth." Let's examine the scriptures he chose.
1) Matthew 3:7-8 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. Mr. Dallas ends it there, but let's continue on. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
I'll try to explain why I find this a rather ironic choice for Mr. Dallas to use. John was a revolutionary. He was speaking something that none of the people had heard before. He was drawing large crowds, who were suddenly not going through the religious leaders (read: the Pharisees and Sadducees) but directly to God. They were finding repentance without all the rules and regulations attached. The Pharisees and the Sadducees, who thought of their religion/rules as "absolute", didn't get that it wasn't about them. It was about the work that God was doing. God wasn't acting like they thought He/She should, God was doing what needed to be done to reach the people of that age.
Mr. Dallas, and other anti-gay religious leaders, see a movement beginning. They see people finding God without them, without the establishment. They see gay and lesbians who are Christians, who are serving God, and still living their lives with dignity and integrity. No longer are gay and lesbian (and bisexual, and transgendered) Christians hiding their true selves, or attempting to change them, in order to "fit in." And just like the Pharisees and Sadducees, they're angry (and scared to death). And just like John told them, God is greater than your traditions. God is greater than your preconceived notions of Him/Her.
2) Matthew 16:22-23 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but human concerns."
It's interesting that Mr. Dallas chooses this scripture, as in it, Jesus is rebuking Peter for believing that he knows more than Jesus (God himself). Mr. Dallas, here, in setting himself up as Jesus (uncompromising and ungentle in regards to truth) has really made himself Peter, and has set himself up for a heavenly smackdown. Who is Mr. Dallas to say to God, "These are not your children! They don't look like a 'Christian' should."
3) Galations 2:11-14 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For certain people came from James, he used to eat with Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
And Mr. Dallas uses this as an example? Talk about Biblically ignorant! Cepahs (Peter) was excluding people from the Gospel, telling them that they had to change themselves (become circumcised) before they could be accepted. Paul told him in no uncertain terms that it was NOT ABOUT HUMAN RULES. That was not the truth of the Gospel. In addition, Cephas used to live like a Gentile (hello Joe, former MCC member and supporter of Pro-gay theology!). He drew back because he was afraid of the religious leaders, and movement, advocating conformity and exclusion.
Moving on, Mr. Dallas quotes J. Stephan Lang in an attempt to salvage his point: "Love is understandable--warm and fuzzy. Doctrine, on the other hand, sounds cold, difficult, and demanding." What both these men have failed to realize, of course, is that love is the ultimate doctrine. For example:
Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."
"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
"This is my command: Love each other."
1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. If we say we love God yet hate a brother or sister, we are liars. For if we do not love a fellow believer, whom we have seen, we cannot love God, whom we have not seen. And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love one another.
Tomorrow (hopefully), we'll get to Mr. Dallas's first argument.
*Note* All scripture came from the TNIV.