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Singing Despite the Court’s Decision

June 28, 2015

No Sore Losers on Sunday

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. (Psalm 30:11–12)

We head to church this weekend with heavy hearts. The cloud of the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision hangs over our corporate worship — and we don’t even yet know or feel all the consequences of the historic decision. The sense of sadness over a political decision is unlike many of us in the Christian community have experienced in our young lifetimes — the nationwide legalization of so-called same-sex marriage in the highest, most powerful court of our land.

Sadness and grief are unavoidable, even critical, to the Christian life (Romans 8:17, 35–37). But in Christ, they never need be the dominant or prevailing condition of our souls. The emotions may be overwhelming for a time — disappointment, depression, or disgust. However, for all who have been rescued from sin and promised an eternity of sinless safety and satisfaction, sadness will not ultimately win the day.

The Eyes of Faith in the Face of Defeat

David knew nights of intense terror and grief, and he knew the relentless, reliable, and irresistible power of our joy in God.

I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. (Psalm 30:1–3)

David looked in every direction and saw defeat. His opponents were bigger, stronger, and more in number. His circumstances suggested all was lost. But God. God rushes to offer help to the helpless, to bring healing to the broken, to restore life to the dying, despairing, and defeated.

In fact, God never left. For those who are his, he is never far off. His help, his healing, his life, and his joy are ever-present, however dark our days may be.

Joy in the Mourning

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:4–5)

Where sin is tolerated and even legislated, we will see the wrath of God. God’s holiness and justice cannot coexist with proud (though pitiful) marches against his name and his will. The world will taste the consequences of its iniquity, and God will be vindicated — every decision judged, every sin punished.

But God’s wrath and judgment are not the only word for our sin-sick world. We all deserve his anger for millennia and more (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Left alone in our sin, we’d all weep every morning, noon, and night for the rest of our lives. But the God of infinite justice is also a God of immeasurable mercy. Therefore: “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).

For those with faith in God, no setback, no misery, no loss can be lasting. Christ conquers our greatest fears and pains, not always swiftly, but surely. The suffering and loss cannot outlast the life he purchased for us on the cross. For the Christian, joy comes with the morning, after the morning, and in the mourning. And so we sing (Psalm 30:4), even in the midst of severe sadness.

Real Pain, Real Opposition

As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed. To you, O Lord, I cry, and to the Lord I plead for mercy. (Psalm 30:6–8)

As the American soil underneath our feet trembles, threatening to crack and crumble, we know where we stand.

For the rest of the post…

“Prayer can never be in excess.”

~ C. H. Spurgeon

One of the reasons: the Reformed Church in America’s wavering approach to same-sex marriages.The URC believes marriage is limited to a man and a woman. But denominations toeing the line on traditional marriage face a new problem: the growing number of pastors performing same-sex ceremonies despite rules and the ambivalent responses from denominational leadership.According to URC pastor Kevin DeYoung, his congregation has wrestled for three years with the decision to leave the RCA. The RCA has been debating sexual ethics for much longer. Since the late 1970s, the denomination has been affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman. In 2005, the General Synod took action against a pastor who performed a wedding ceremony for his daughter and her partner, deposing him as a Professor of Theology and suspending him as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.

And in 2012, the General Synod approved their strongest statement yet in favor of traditional marriage, calling homosexual behavior “a sin according to the Holy Scriptures” and making performing same-sex marriages “a disciplinable offense.”

But those actions were short-lived. The pastor was reinstated by his classis in 2011, and the 2012 statement was softened by the 2013 Synod, which left the language calling homosexual behavior sinful but acknowledged that they had “usurped the constitutional authority reserved for the classes.”

And when asked to repeal the ordination of RCA’s first openly gay clergy, the 2013 Synod passed the case back to the regional synod, which has since upheld the 2011 ordination.

“Statements from the General Synod should have some weight to them, especially if they’re stated over and over again,” DeYoung said. “But that’s not been the way they’ve been handled. Now it’s clear that there’s no teeth to them or authority behind them. Individual classes will do what they want to do.”

Familiar Situation

It’s a situation that sounds familiar to Bill Arnold, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and lifelong member of the United Methodist Church (UMC).

The 2012 UMC General Conference held that same-sex practices are incompatible with Christian teaching. The United Methodist position has remained unchanged since 1972. What has changed is the behavior of pastors and bishops, Arnold said. Pastors are conducting homosexual weddings, and bishops have begun to refuse to bring them to trial, he said.

“Essentially we have different factions in the church living out their convictions in ways that result in miniature denominations,” he said. “It’s a fragmentation of our church.”

And with the General Conference meeting only every four years, there’s no mechanism to deal with crises that arise in the meantime, he said.

“We essentially deteriorate into a screaming match,” Arnold said. “My friend says we’re more like a bad Jerry Springer act than a church.”

The conflict has been amplified by the rapidly changing opinions of the American public. In 2001, 57 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage and 35 percent were in favor, according to Pew Research Center. Twelve years later, 43 percent were opposed and 50 percent were in favor.

And while white evangelical Protestants are most likely to oppose gay marriage—only 23 percent approved in 2013—that figure has risen 10 percentage points from the 13 percent that favored same-sex marriage in 2001.

Same Limbo

Though different in structure from American denominations, the Church of England is also in limbo over the same subject, said Rod Thomas, vicar of St. Matthew’s Church in southern England.

For the rest of the article…

SARAH EEKHOFF ZYLSTRA

SARAH EEKHOFF ZYLSTRA

by

In 2011, the Pentagon issued an order to all military chaplains instructing them that they were to perform same-sex marriages and to make their facilities available for same-sex ceremonies.  Failure to comply with the order could result in a court-martial.

In 2012, the Pentagon instructed chaplains to stop preaching against a number sins including homosexuality.  If they continued to preach against these things, they could face charges of sedition and treason.

Now, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is planning on taking on the Pentagon by ordering all of their military chaplains to not perform same-sex marriages and from being involved in counseling sessions or couples retreats for same-sex couples.  Since the Southern Baptist Convention provides more military chaplains than any other Protestant denomination, this has all the makings of an old fashioned showdown between them and the Obama’s Pentagon.

Maj. Gen. Doug Carver, Retired, heads up the North American Mission Board (NAMB) chaplain services and spoke about the new SBC guidelines, saying:

“Our chaplains want to uphold the authority and relevancy of Scripture while continuing to serve in a very diverse setting.  We believe these updated guidelines will help them do that while still sharing the love and the hope of Christ with everyone.”

A spokesman for the NAMB said that the SBC met with officials from the Defense Department while working up the new guidelines for their chaplains and that the DOD is in agreement with them.  Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, DOD spokesman stated:

“Further, a chaplain is not required to participate in or officiate a private ceremony if doing so would be in variance with the tenets of his or her religion or personal beliefs.”

This is a complete contradiction to orders the DOD previously sent out all of their chaplains in the past couple of years.  I can’t help but wonder if the DOD just provided lip service to the Southern Baptist Convention in order to get them to instruct their chaplains to defy previous orders issued by the DOD.  Once enough chaplains obey the SBC guidelines and refuse to conduct same-sex marriages, the DOD will start to clamp down and enforce those pervious orders.  The motive would be to force Christian chaplains out of the military and thus opening the military up for more Muslim and atheist chaplains.

Islam looks down on homosexuality just as much as Christians do, but I’ve yet to hear of any Muslim chaplains getting in the same troubles as Christian chaplains.

Read more at http://politicaloutcast.com/2013/09/southern-baptists-take-pentagon-rules-chaplains/#L6PDZJ0eo9RE1hqY.99

We Hate to Say We Told You So”’

Same-Sex Marriage & Polygamy

By: John Stonestreet|Published: April 25, 2013
Claims that legalizing same-sex “marriage” is a slippery slope to polygamy have been met with scoffs. We really hate to say “we told you so…” Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

John Stonestreet

In a scene from Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm, the mathematician skeptical about whether the park is a good idea, watches the T-Rex burst out of its enclosure and says, “I hate being right all the time.”

Princeton Professor Robert George and other defenders of traditional marriage understand these sentiments. For years, they’ve warned that redefining marriage beyond the union of one man and one woman wouldn’t—indeed couldn’t—stop with same-sex unions. The same reasoning that extends marriage to same-sex couples would easily be applied to polygamy and polyamory also.

The standard response to these concerns was scoffing and accusations of fear mongering.

Well, the fences are down and the beast is loose.

On Valentines’s Day, the Scientific American published an article claiming that polyamorists could “teach us a thing or two about love,” and the only reason to oppose it was bigotry because of outdated views about love and sexuality. As I said on my Point commentary about the article, the flow of the argument sounded far too familiar.

And now, as if on cue, Slate magazine published an article on April 15 by Jillian Keenan arguing that polygamy should be legalized. As Keenan notes, the arguments about gay marriage being a “slippery slope” that will lead to legalized polygamy is something “we’ve been hearing about for years.” To which she adds, “We can only hope.”

She continues: “While the Supreme Court and the rest of us are all focused on the human right of marriage equality, let’s not forget that the fight doesn’t end with same-sex marriage. We need to legalize polygamy, too. Legalized polygamy in the United States is the constitutional, feminist, and sex-positive choice.”Daily_Commentary_4_25_13

Keenan adds that legalizing polygamy would help to “protect, empower, and strengthen women, children, and families.” How? By ending the “isolation” where “crime and abuse can flourish unimpeded.” That is, if polygamy is legal, she says, victims of abuse would be more likely to report abuses to the authorities.

Finally, she argues that respect for religious freedom requires legalizing polygamy. It isn’t only fundamentalist Mormons she’s concerned about: she cites “academics” who “suggest” that there may be between 50 and 100,000 Muslims in the U.S. who practice polygamy.

What’s most significant here isn’t the quality of Keenan’s arguments. The quality is poor. The treatment of women in countries where polygamy is legal makes her optimism about the impact of legalizing it seem dangerously naive. And her appeal to religious freedom is—shall we say—selective. There are plenty of law-abiding Americans whose religious freedom is under genuine threat who could benefit from this kind of solicitude.

No, the most significant thing about Keenan’s argument is not, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, that it’s made well, but that it’s made openly.

As Dr. George pointed out in “First Things,” when Christians pointed out the logical link between same-sex marriage and polygamy, proponents of same-sex marriage rejected the connection. They insisted that “no one is arguing for the legal recognition of polygamous or polyamorous relationships as marriages!”

For the rest of the article…

By Dr. Russell D. Moore

— SUNDAY, MARCH 25TH, 2012 —

A respected pro-family organization announced this week a boycott of Starbucks coffee. The group, which supports legal protection for traditional marriage, launched the “Dump Starbucks” campaign after a national board meeting in which the Seattle-based coffee company mentioned support for same-sex marriage as a core value of the company. Some Christians are wondering whether we ought to join in the boycott. I say no.

It’s not that I’m saying a boycott in and of itself is always evil or wrong. It’s just that, in this case (and in many like it) a boycott exposes us to all of our worst tendencies. Christians are tempted, again and again, to fight like the devil to please the Lord.

A boycott is a display of power, particularly of economic power. The boycott shows a corporation (or government or service provider) that the aggrieved party can hurt the company, by depriving it of revenue. The boycott, if it’s successful, eventually causes the powers-that-be to yield, conceding that they need the money of the boycott participants more than they need whatever cause they were supporting. It is a contest of who has more buying power, and thus is of more value to the company.

We lose that argument.

For the rest of the post…

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