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Archive for July 3rd, 2015

bruce_jenner

Can A Leopard Change His Spots?

Jeremiah 13:23

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin

Or the leopard his spots?

Then you also can do good

Who are accustomed to doing evil.”

Here is a pastor’s perspective that Pastor Edward, a graduate from TMS and a pastor from Southern CA (www.anaheimcommunitychurch.org), wrote concerning the LGBT movement.  We pray that this piece will help stimulate your mind and encourage you to be Christ’s witnesses to a dark world.

We as humans are used to change. We find change to be both positive and negative. Often change is sought to modify a situation of dissatisfaction. For instance…

We have gained weight…we change our diet and exercise.

Our automobiles begin to wear out…we sell the old and buy a new car.

Our family grows and our house is cramped…we sell the old smaller house and buy a newer larger house.

If we do not like our physical appearance…we alter it (hairstyle, make-up, new clothes, dental work, plastic surgery).

Somehow, we believe that an external or situational change will put and end to the old and begin a new, more pleasant situation.

We look for new opportunities to “start again” to “start over” to make a “fresh start” or a “clean break”.

The truth is, most situational and external changes do not change anything at all (not fundamentally).

I usually keep politics and social issues out of the pulpit (I just want to preach the Word book by book and address the issues that Scripture addresses).

But this morning (because of a major social issue that “came out” (pun intended) this week), I want to spend some time looking at the Bruce Jenner fiasco. While many people would disagree with my word choice, I believe that fiasco is appropriate in this situation. What Bruce Jenner (and those who are singing his praises) calls a victory and a success and an act of bravery and courage, I call a sad attempt to mask the true issues that have made Bruce so confused and miserable.

In case you are not aware of what took place this week, Bruce Jenner was revealed on the cover of Vanity Fair as Caitlyn Jenner — in Bruce’s mind (and in the minds of millions of his supporters), Bruce Jenner no longer exists; Bruce has transformed into Caitlyn. A man has ceased to exist and a woman has taken his place in this world.

The sexual / gender perversions and confusion in society are not going away anytime soon; they will almost certainly be an issue until Jesus returns (whenever that takes place).

The LGBT community is making progress in promoting its agenda and is becoming ever more aggressive in its attacks against anyone or any group who or which disagrees with their warped world views. The “transformation” of Bruce to Caitlyn is being praised as a breakthrough for the LGBT community.

Many supporters are thrilled that Bruce’s transformation was a “success” and that the initial response to his gender reassignment (as they call the process of mutilating one’s body from one gender to another through a series of drug treatments and surgical removal and construction of sexual organs) was widely embraced.

As soon as the Vanity Fair cover went viral, Bruce’s Twitter account took just four hours and three minutes to hit the 1,000,000 follower mark (as of Wednesday the follower count was 2.32 million).

It is clear that many people in our world are in support of this situation; which is a sad and eyeopening commentary on society’s opposition to God and His Word.

Often, as Christians, we think “That’s horrible, but it really has no impact on my life.” That simply is not true. All areas of our society will be impacted by this event and others like it that will certainly follow.

It is not just LGBT supporters who are and will be impacted by this situation. The fallout from this situation will permeate all areas of society and culture. This type of perversion and distortion of mankind’s natural and God-determined sexual identity (male or female) will be taught to school children (at all grade levels) as the new norm. Children who are still learning how to read and spell and write will be told that they are whatever they feel and think they are (because after all, in the fallen minds of Jenner’s supporters, it is your feelings that determine the reality of your identity and existence not your physiological, biological, and genetic make up). I am afraid that in the not so distant future, whether or not a baby is born with male or female anatomy, the proud parents really won’t be able to declare that their new bundle of joy is male or female. What parents will have to do is wait until that child grows up and is able to verbally and physically determine which gender it (it will come to the point where we cannot even refer to a baby / young child as he or she until that child reveals their preferred gender) wants to pursue. Human sexuality will cease to be determined by one’s genetic make-up and will be replaced with a subjective perception of sexual identity.

The extreme and logical conclusion of this type of thinking will result in a society where there are no objective norms or boundaries. It will be a society where everyone does what is right in its own eyes. When natural, God-determined physical / sexual identities and roles are erased from society’s vocabulary, there will be no way of enforcing laws or standards as we know them today. Homosexuality, lesbianism, pedophelia, beastiality, marriages between multiple spouses, and many more perversions will simply be the new norm. If we as a people continue down this path, we will undoubtedly become the new Sodom and Gomorrah.

I wish that I could say that this support and praise for Bruce’s transformation (and the homosexual agenda in general) was limited to the secular and non-Christian world. Unfortunately it is not.

Episcopal Church…

This excerpt from the Episcopal Church’s Webpage describes its position on the issue…

In 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church declared that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church” (1976-A069). Since then, faithful Episcopalians have been working toward a greater understanding and radical inclusion of all of God’s children.

Along the way, The Episcopal Church has garnered a lot of attention, but with the help of organizations such as Integrity USA, the church has continued its work toward full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Episcopalians. In 2003, the first openly gay bishop was consecrated; in 2009, General Convention resolved that God’s call is open to all; and in 2012, a provisional rite of blessing for same-gender relationships was authorized, and discrimination against transgender persons in the ordination process was officially prohibited. To our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender brothers and sisters: “The Episcopal Church welcomes you!”

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/lgbt-church

Presbyterian Church USA…

Likewise, in March 2015, the PCUSA modified it’s statement on marriage.

“Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the wellbeing of the entire human family. Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives. The sacrificial love that unites the couple sustains them as faithful and responsible members of the church and the wider community.”

http://www.pcusa.org/news/2015/3/17/presbyterian-church-us-approves-marriage-amendment/

The change is subtle but it kicks the door wide open for any and all non-traditional marriages to be accepted and encouraged by the PCUSA.

Every day, more and more professing Christians are abandoning God’s Word and embracing man’s so called wisdom and progressive thinking.

Any and all lines that used to demonstrate a distinct difference in worldview and practices between Christianity and the rest of the world, are being systematically erased. At this rate, there will be more tares filing places of worship than will be wheat.

This is why I have chosen to address this issue today. My goals in addressing this issue are to answer the following questions…

What was Bruce trying to accomplish through this transformation?

How has the secular world responded to Bruce’s transformation?

What does the Bible say about Bruce’s transformation?

How should you as a Christian Biblically respond to this transformation?

What was Bruce trying to accomplish through this transformation?

Bruce Jenner, in an extreme and saddening attempt, was and is trying to “change his spots”. In recent statements, Bruce (Caitlyn) said the following…

“I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I am very much looking forward to that.”

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/caitlyn-jenner-bruce-poses-vanity-fair/story?id=31447196

“Bruce always had to tell a lie. He was always living a lie. Every day, he always had a secret. From morning till night. Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets.”

“I’m so happy after such a long struggle to be living my true self. Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.”

“[As] soon as the Vanity Fair cover comes out, I’m free.”

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/bruce-jenner-makes-debut-as-woman-on-vanity-fair-callme-caitlyn/ar-BBkuOdn?ocid=iehp

In Bruce’s mind, his goal in all of this is to…

1) Become a better person

2) Become a truthful person

3) Become a happy person

4) Become a free person

It is very clear, by Bruce’s own admission, that he was (and I believe is still) very miserable as the man Bruce Jenner. Bruce was so dissatisfied and fed-up with being his natural born self that he went to the greatest extreme he could imagine in an attempt not to simply change Bruce, but to exterminate Bruce altogether. The world believes that Bruce’s transformation was a success…but did he really succeed?

Just in case you are unaware or uncertain of just what took place during Bruce’s transformation, consider the following…

“Caitlyn Jenner did not want to look like a pretend woman when she transitioned from a man to a woman. Caitlyn told Vanity Fair it was extremely important that she presented herself as feminine.” – TMZ

Read more: http://www.tmz.com/2015/06/02/caitlyn-jenner-vanity-fair-video-look-like-man-indress/#ixzz3bwDRy8u2

“Jenner tells Bissinger about how she suffered a panic attack the day after undergoing 10-hour facial-feminization surgery on March 15—a procedure she believed would take 5 hours. (Bissinger reveals that Jenner has not had genital surgery.) She recalls thinking, ‘What did I just do? What did I just do to myself?’ A counselor from the Los Angeles Gender Center came to the house so Jenner could talk to a professional, and assured her that such reactions were often induced by pain medication, and that second-guessing was human and temporary.”

http://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2015/06/caitlyn-jenner-bruce-cover-annie-leibovitz

“It’s been a busy couple of months for Caitlyn Jenner. Vanity Fair was by her side as she underwent her initial facial feminization and breast implant surgery in March, but RadarOnline.com has learned that there’s still one procedure she didn’t want to discuss until her docuseries: According to an insider, Caitlyn scheduled her gender reassignment surgery for after completing the Vanity Fair feature story documenting her transition to becoming a woman. According to the Vanity Fair blockbuster feature with a stunning Caitlyn on the cover, the journalist completed the bulk of their interview in March and April. The article states that she had not yet had a full sex change at that time.”

http://radaronline.com/celebrity-news/caitlyn-jenner-sex-change-vanity-fair-interview/

So what actually happened to Bruce during the procedure?

1) Feminization of his facial features (a 10 hour process)

2) Panic attack (as he realized the magnitude of his extreme actions)

3) Breast implants

4) A sex change (the mutilation of his male organ to “create” a female organ)

What has happened to Bruce Jenner? Simply put, a false front has been built in order the hide the true and unchangeable interior design; HE IS STILL A MAN. As TMZ reported, Bruce (Caitlyn) did not want to look like a “pretend woman”. No matter how many procedures Bruce has and no matter how many drugs Bruce takes and no matter how many dresses Bruce wears and no matter how much make up Bruce applies, HE IS A PRETEND WOMAN.

For all of Bruce’s time, money, and discomfort…he has accomplished absolutely nothing. He has not achieved his goals.

How has the secular world responded to Bruce’s transformation?

It is clearly obvious that many millions of people all over the world support, embrace, and stand with Bruce’s decision to become Caitlyn. Here are just a few quotes from some of his most famous supporters.

Laverne Cox (Transgender / Orange is the New Black)

Laverne Cox (who was born and still is a man, was the first Transgender person on the cover of Time magazine, is a star in the hugely popular Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and until Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover, was the “poster child” for the Transgender community) had this to say about Jenner’s transformation…

“I am so moved by all the love and support Caitlyn is receiving. It feels like a new day, indeed, when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time and be celebrated for it so universally.”

“Yes, Caitlyn looks amazing and is beautiful but what I think is most beautiful about her is her heart and soul, the ways she has allowed the world into her vulnerabilities,”

“I hope, as I know Caitlyn [Jenner] does, that the love she is receiving can translate into changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well being of all of us.”

Laverne Cox – https://www.facebook.com/topic/Laverne-Cox/226167757491563? source=wtfrt&position=7&trqid=6155871773453517806

On a recent Good Morning America piece, Jenner’s step-daughters had this to say about their newly transformed parental figure…

Kim Kardashian – “How beautiful, how proud, live life your way.”

Kendall Kardashian – “Be free now pretty bird.”

It has also been announced (the day after the Vanity Fair cover was revealed) that during the next month’s annual ESPYS (ESPN Annual Award Show) Jenner will receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

So according to the secular world, Bruce is / will or has accomplish(ed)…

1) Authentic (Cox)

2) Amazing, beautiful (physically and heart and soul) (Cox)

3) Change hearts, minds, and shift public policies (Cox)

4) Living (his) way (Kim K)

5) Free (Kendall K)

6) Courageous (ESPN)

Despite all the support that is pouring in throughout the world, there are many who disagree with the process and success of Jenner’s transformation. Here is one such person who represents many in the medical world.

In a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, Dr. Paul McHugh (former psychiatrist in chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital) had this to say about the transgender issue (though not directly addressing Jenner’s transformation, the transgender issue and procedure is the same)…

“At the heart of the problem is confusion over the nature of the transgendered. ‘Sex change’ is biologically impossible. People who undergo sex-reassignment surgery do not change from men to women or vice versa. Rather, they become feminized men or masculinized women. Claiming that this is civil-rights matter and encouraging surgical intervention is in reality to collaborate with and promote a mental disorder.

We at Johns Hopkins University—which in the 1960s was the first American medical center to venture into ‘sex-reassignment surgery’—launched a study in the 1970s comparing the outcomes of transgendered people who had the surgery with the outcomes of those who did not. Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as ‘satisfied’ by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery. And so at Hopkins we stopped doing sex-reassignment surgery, since producing a ‘satisfied’ but still troubled patient seemed an inadequate reason for surgically amputating normal organs.

It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause. The long-term study—up to 30 years—followed 324 people who had sex-reassignment surgery. The study revealed that beginning about 10 years after having the surgery, the transgendered began to experience increasing mental difficulties. Most shockingly, their suicide mortality rose almost 20-fold above the comparable nontransgender population. This disturbing result has as yet no explanation but probably reflects the growing sense of isolation reported by the aging transgendered after surgery. The high suicide rate certainly challenges the surgery prescription.”

Dr. Paul McHugh – http://www.wsj.com/articles/paul-mchugh-transgender-surgery-isnt-thesolution-1402615120 (June 12, 2014)

Despite all the supporters that Bruce has in his corner, medically, physically, biologically, genetically, Bruce has failed in his attempts at creating a new person. And make no mistake, that is what Bruce and many others like him have tried, are trying, and desire to do. The idea that one’s mental perception of oneself (along with pharmaceutical and surgical procedures) can reverse or evolve one’s physical identity is simply impossible. What makes matters worse is the fact that many who undergo this procedure are no better off mentally than before the radical mutilation process. So if gender reassignment is not the answer, what is?

What Does the Bible Say About Bruce’s Transformation?

So does the Bible specifically address the transgender issue? If you are looking for a specific mention of the word “Transgender” in Scripture, you will never find it. The reason being, the term transgender did not exist and the transgender process was not possible when Scripture was written. However, this does not mean that the Bible does not address the fundamental issues at the core of human sexuality and gender.

Whether you choose to use the term transgender, Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or gender dysphoria (which is the choice of the DSM V), what is being described is a desire to change one’s sex (physical traits through hormone therapy and / or surgical procedures) or to fulfill the role of the opposite gender. Transgenders usually describe themselves as “trapped” in a body that does not match their gender. As we have already seen, the desire is that the transgender person will become the person they believe is their true identity but which has been trapped inside the physical prison of their assigned gender at birth.

Contrary to secular opinion, the Bible has quite a bit to say about human sexuality. From the earliest pages of Scripture, God makes it very clear that He created mankind “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). And and all variations / deviations from God’s intended plan for His creation are unbiblical.

One of the key issues that transgenders bring up when asked about their decision to become another gender is one of dissatisfaction with what they call their assigned birth gender (being born male or female). Transgenders believe that because they mentally and emotionally desire to be the opposite gender, their birth identity (male or female) is a mistake that needs correction. However, in Psalm 139, we are told that God specifically fashions each and every individual, “For You formed my inward parts;You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth…” (139:13-16).

The Bible makes it clear that God does not make mistakes. God never has a “Plan B”, there are no contingencies with God, He never second guesses what He has done and because He is omniscient, He knows all things past, present, and future (including our maleness or femaleness at birth and throughout our lives). His wonderful work leaves no room for mistakes; therefore, no one is born with the “wrong body.”

The Bible also has much to say concerning the sinfulness of distorting God’s created order. Once sin entered the Garden of Eden and man was cast out, the depravity began to grow at a rapid pace. Consider the following statements that Scripture makes about sexual sins…

Genesis 19:1-7 – “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, ‘Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ They said however, ‘No, but we shall spend the night in the square.’ Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.’ But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly…’”

Deuteronomy 22:5 – “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.”

Jude 7 – “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.”

Romans 1:18-32 (26-27 cited) – “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

I could go on and on citing passages that explain and condemn various sexual sins but the point is this, no matter if the gender distortion has a genetic, hormonal, physiological, or psychological cause, the Bible clearly and consistently labels any sexual activity outside of marriage or not between a man and a woman as sin and as rebellion against God’s ordained plan. The punishment of such sins being not only physical death (which all sinners suffer, heterosexual or homosexual, or other-sexual, for “the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23a) but spiritual death.

The things that Bruce Jenner and others like him are seeking will never be found by mutilating their bodies and parading around as the opposite sex. Their desires can only be satisfied when an internal change takes place because…a leopard cannot change his spots.

No matter how hard and passionately a sinner tries to better himself, he simply cannot change his nature (sin nature that is). No matter how many people approve of others’ perversions and call them natural, authentic, heroic, or any other positive and encouraging terms, God still calls their actions sin and sin must be punished by God or He will cease to be God (because a judge who does not punish a criminal is not just but corrupt).

However, with all this bad news comes some good news, sin can be forgiven and lives can be changed through faith in Christ. Earlier we looked at Jeremiah 13:23 which says… “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” The understanding here is that man cannot change his sinful nature; man is unable to change himself from the inside. All of man’s external attempts to transform himself are merely external and ultimately futile.

All the desires of man (acceptance, love, freedom, purpose, etc.), are satisfied only in Jesus Christ. When a sinner repents and embraces the good news of Jesus Christ, an internal transformation takes place. The believers in Corinth are an example of such a change: “And [effeminate, homosexual, etc.] is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). There is hope for every sinner, homosexual, transgenders, and all sinners included, because of God’s forgiveness available exclusively through Jesus Christ.

How should you as a Christian biblically respond to this transformation?

1) Pray that people will accept the transforming gospel

Luke 13:34 – “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!”

Romans 10:1 – “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.”

2) Remember that you were transformed by the gospel

Ephesians 2:1-5 – “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

3) Live a life that is an example that you were transformed by the gospel

Ephesians 4:1 – “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called…”

Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

4) Share about the transforming power of the gospel

1 Peter 3:15 – “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…”

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

We as Christians must never compromise the divine truths of God’s Word. We must always call sin sin. But we must do so with compassion and passion. Compassion for the lost and passion for the souls of men to be truly transformed by the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Matthew vines

Introduction

Matthew Vines has written a book titled God and the Gay Christian in which he argues that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationship” (Page 3).   Al Mohler and the faculty at Southern Seminary has published a book-length response titled God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, which they have made available as a free e-book.  In their responses Al Mohler, James Hamilton, Denny Burk, Owen Strachan, and Heath Lambert addressed the biblical, theological, historical, and pastoral issues raised by Vines’s best-selling book.  

Matthew Vines’ research for his book was not done in a vaccum.  Throughout the book Vines reveal the precommitments he had before he began his research.  It is important to address the core arguments that Vines has presented (and Christians have already done so such as the faculty in Southern Seminary) but I also think there is an important role in considering Vines’ problematic pre-commitments since these pre-commitments shapes his theological method which then lead to his conclusion that “Scripture affirm same-sex relationships.”

Here in this post I want to address Vines’ pre-commitment concerning his meta-ethics.  Specifically I want to argue that Vines holds on to a humanistic consequentialist view of ethics that is seriously deficient.

Vines In His Own Words

Unlike other gay theology literature Vines professes to have a high view of the Scriptures:

In my view, the Bible can’t be reduced to a collection of great literature, stories, and poetry  It’s God’s written revelation to humanity, as the accounts of Jesus’s life and ministry in the Gospel make clearer to me than anything else.  Jesus said that ‘Scripture cannot be set aside’ (John 10:35), and since childhood, I’ve made discerning God’s will through prayerful study of Scripture a priority” (Page 11).

But when it comes to his view of the foundation of ethics, even God’s revealed rules within Scripture is not as highly regarded by Vines as much as his ethical theory.  In fact, the Bible’s ethical norm is subject to the scrutiny of the higher court of his meta-ethics and we see that with how he approached the Bible’s condemnation of same-sex relationship on page 12 :

I had a second reason for losing confidence in the belief that same-sex relationship are sinful: it no longer made sense to me.

My mom taught her Sunday school students that sin was ‘missing the mark’ of God’s will for our lives. But while the Bible helps us understand God’s will, neither my parents nor my church referred only to the Bible when I asked questions about morality.  They also explained why something was right or wrong, and why the Bible said what it did.  By understanding the reasons behind Scripture’s teachings, I could apply its principles to all circumstances in my life, including those it didn’t directly addressed.

But as I became more aware of same-sex relationships, I couldn’t understand why they were supposed to be sinful, or why the Bible apparently condemned them.  With most sins, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint the damage they cause.  Adultery violates a commitment to your spouse.  Lust objectifies others.  Gossip degrades people.  But committed same-sex relationships didn’t fit this pattern.  Not only were they not harmful to anyone, they were characterized by positive motives and traits instead, like faithfulness, commitment, mutual love, and self-sacrifice.  What other sin look like that?”

It is important to keep in mind that according to the previous page before this block quote (page 11) Vines described how his ethical outlook led to his struggle with the case against same-sex relations before he came out as gay and before he started researching for his book.  His evaluation of Scripture according to his ethical theory fundamentally tipped the scale of his research towards the direction that same sex relationship ought not to be condemned.  Seeing how important his ethical theory is, we should analyze more closely his ethical theory as it is expressed above.

Vines’ Ethical theory Humanistic and Consequentialist

Is Vines’ Ethical theory Humanistic?

Vines’ ethical theory is certainly humanistic, that is, it is man-centered.  As seen in the above quote, Vines’ rejection of traditional view on same sex relationship is because “it no longer made sense to me.”  There is a sense in which Biblical Christianity will not be fully grasped by finite man; we expect some aspect of mystery with true Christian doctrines if it is genuinely from the Word of God.  Ultimately what determines truth for the God-centered Christian is not how much it “makes sense to me” (that is, conforming to one’s previous pattern of thought) but whether or not the doctrines are genuinely taught in Scripture even if one might have unanswered questions.

A man-centered or humanistic theological approach on the other hand is very different.  It would have man as the final arbitration of what is right and wrong and according to what makes “sense to me.”  The fundamental question being asked is not whether the teaching is in the Bible; even if there is a teaching from the Bible the crucial question is whether it makes “sense to me.”  Therefore what one cannot make sense of according to one’s finite mind and presuppositions ought to be rejected.

The man-centered nature of Vines’ ethical system is further evidenced above when Vines talked about “reasons behind Scripture’s teachings.”  Of course there are times one can see that there are good reasons for Scripture’s moral teaching.  However Vines goes further when he explains the pattern of his mother and church that it’s not enough to be satisfied with going “only to the Bible when I asked questions about morality.”  Vines goes on to say “They also explained why something was right or wrong, and why the Bible said what it did” with the implication that one ought to know why the Bible said what it said.   So when one doesn’t know the reason behind the Bible’s command and prohibition Vines then find that there are then good “reason for losing confidence” in that belief as it was with the case of prohibiting same-sex relationship: “I couldn’t understand why they were supposed to be sinful, or why the Bible apparently condemned them.”

Is Vines’ Ethical theory Consequentialist?

Vines’ ethical theory is not only humanistic, it is a humanistic consequentialism.  That is, for Vines knowing the consequences of one’s conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct.  Vines believed that something is wrong and sinful only when it causes damage.  So if it doesn’t cause any damages that a human being can know of, it is not sinful.  Vines presupposes this when he said “With most sins, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint the damage they cause.”  He followed this with some examples and then concluded “But committed same-sex relationships didn’t fit this pattern.”

The Problem with Vines’ Ethical Theory

Here is my response:

  • Vines stresses more than once in the book that he has a high view of God’s Word like any other Evangelical including those not affirming of Same-sex relationships.  If he does believes in a high view of Scripture then he must have his humanistic ethical consequentialism be subject to the scrutiny of God’s Word rather than vice versa as he has done.
  • If Vines operate with the theological method that a proposition must be rejected when “it no longer made sense to me” what would remain of his Christianity?
    • Our study of every largely-accepted true doctrine in the Bible will always run into some aspect of mystery in which we don’t have an answer for.  Does that mean we must reject every Christian doctrines?
    • For instance, 1 Timothy 3:16 admits there is mystery of godliness does that mean that one should reject godliness?
  • While at times Scripture does discuss how certain sinful behavior causes damages to oneself and others, Vines have become reductionistic to think this is the only criteria of measuring whether something is right and wrong.
    • Nowhere in Scripture does the Bible say that what is sinful is only measured by whether something causes damages to others.
    • If consequences is the only way to measure what’s right and wrong in God’s eyes then it is surprising that Scripture doesn’t always give a cause-and-effect explanation for why everything that is a sin is wrong.
    • Scripture doesn’t exclusively present a purpose or result driven measure of right and wrong conduct.  Scripture’s discussion of ethics also acknowledges the deontological aspect of ethics (good acts include those as a proper response to duty for the sake of the duty even against one’s own and others well being) and existential aspect of ethics (focus on the internal character of a person that determines what is good).  A good resource on this is John Frame’s discussion of Triperspectivalism in his Doctrine of the Christian Life.
  • Surprisingly Vines himself is inconsistent with his belief that damages to oneself or others is the only basis to measure right and wrong when it comes to his view on Self-sacrifice.
    • Self-sacrifice (putting duty first before one’s well being) is a dentological virtue that goes against the grain that damages to a person per se is sinful.  According to Vines ethical system, self-sacrifice ought to be a sin.
    • We expect Vines to be against self-sacrifice and yet in the block quote above Vines listed “self-sacrifice” among the virtues of those in committed same-sex relationships.
    • If Vines see self-sacrifice as a virtue then it is not merely something that he sees is personally good for himself alone but this is a character trait that is good for others to have.  Thus by believing its a virtue Vines invite others to follow one’s duty even if it is “damaging” to oneself, an act that involves “damaging” others.
  • For the sake of the argument even if there is always a consequentialist reason behind all of God’s prohibition and command that doesn’t mean as Bible believing Christians one can disregard these rules when it is “hard to pinpoint the damage they cause.”
    • In all things, don’t forget we are finite and God is infinite!
    • The Lesson from the Garden of Eden
      • Remember: “God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:3b)
      • Adam and Eve might not be able to pinpoint exactly the damage disobedience to this might cause yet that doesn’t mean they should disobey God’s Law!
      • Furthermore, people today might still not know or discern the reasons why that tree was in the Garden in the first place but that doesn’t mean Adam and Eve or us can disobey God.
    • An illustration: A toddler might find it hard to pinpoint the damage that disobeying his father’s prohibition not to run on the streets might cause.  But that doesn’t mean it is right nor rational for the toddler to disobey his loving father’s prohibition!
      • This illustration is fitting for our context given that we are like the toddler in our finite knowledge compared to God’s vastly superior wisdom and knowledge.
  • Vines believe same-sex relationship is “not harmful to anyone” but fail to consider God in his belief that same-sex relationship is not harmful.
    • First, it is negatively against God.
      • Remember Vines’ examples of the damages of sins: “Adultery violates a commitment to your spouse.  Lust objectifies others.  Gossip degrades people.”
      • If violating a commitment, objectifying others and degrading a person is bad because it is “harmful to others,” what are those advocating same-sex relationships doing when they are violating God’s prohibition of same-sex relationship,  degrading God as less than God in their disobedience to His Divine prohibitions and objectifying God as something less than God when they go against His Word?
    • Secondly, it is negative against the participants of same-sex relationships.
      • Remember the way of a Sinner is hard!
      • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 reveal the eternal consequences for such sinners: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor[a]effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Vines believe same-sex relationship is “not harmful to anyone” but fail to consider studies considering the negative impact of same-sex relationships
    • Time doesn’t allow me to go into more details as it’s worth being another message.
    • Remember, we are not dependent upon the statistics to make our case in light of all our discussion above concerning consequentialists ethics.

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