A Post-Seminar Commentary by Presenter Dan Kersey
Dan Kersey was one of the two seminar speakers.
Last year’s Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage is the candy sprinkles on the icing on the cake of American culture’s ever-increasing acceptance and “celebration” of those living openly gay lifestyles. Christians are ever increasingly finding themselves on the outside and on the defensive; having to justify their beliefs to a society which, by the day, grows further from those beliefs. It may seem that this has brought about a crisis within the church, with Christians being forced to ask themselves, and then answer, some tough questions about their stance on homosexuality.
Some of the issues you yourself may be working through may be as follows…
· Should I stand for Godliness in an ungodly world even if it means being left out?
· Should I “celebrate” homosexuality so that I won’t be rejected as a hater or a bigot?
· Is homosexuality even a sin in today’s day and age or is it an Old Testament thing?
· Can all the “good” people who support gays be wrong?
· Many people would say I am the one “in the wrong” for opposing gays; maybe they're right?
· What does it matter who someone “loves”?
· They aren’t hurting anybody, let them do what they want; they are consenting adults.
The list could go on much further.
Certainly the church is being pressed in ways that it never has been before as culture changes and new challenges arise, but Christians need to be prepared to answer these challenges, both to remain actively engaged and relevant to the world around them and to simply resolve unsettled issues within their own hearts, minds, and spirits. It is to help prepare the individual believer to face this dual outward and inward challenge, that on January 23, Advance Ministries is presenting “The new homosexuality and gay marriage” to kick off its Big Idea Seminar Series for 2016. (Click on the event tab above to register for discounted admission.)
One task of this seminar is to take a step back and take a long hard look at how the church lost the “gay debate”. We will examine many common arguments that Christians have used in their efforts at preventing the legalization of gay marriage and how those arguments failed. Also, we will go through several key Biblical texts on homosexuality to both re-ground ourselves on the Bibles clear teaching against gay sex, but also to understand how we, the individual Christians, should best interact with gays in our culture, in our families, and amongst our friends.
It seems unavoidable that in preparing such a presentation I always over research and over prepare then have to cut a lot out. So here is a “mini lesson” created from salvaged snippets from the cutting room floor to give you a preview of the vibe of the seminar.
“God loves the sinner but hates the sin”
This oft used cliché makes sense to many Christians because we know what we mean by it and we have certainty of our intentions when saying it. Most Christians can differentiate between the sinner and the sin. This quip is just a pithy way of communicating core gospel truths in a way appropriate for a bumper sticker. We say this, not realizing that those to whom we are speaking hear something very different. Active lifestyle homosexuals are, by and large, especially chaffed by this.
In order to be openly gay, they have had to muster the gumption to “come out of the closet”, to face possible pushback from family members, to possibly lose friends, lose jobs, etc. In order to overcome and power through so much, they had to completely embrace, own, and commit to being gay. They had to be so confident that gay is what they wanted that they were willing to put up with the headwinds to live it out. As such, few active lifestyle gays are casually gay, they are committedly gay. They have embraced gay as their identity and gay is who they are. This then is the rub; though the Christian differentiates the sinner from the sin, the lifestyle gay generally does not; “they are their sin”. Thus, in calling homosexual lifestyles sinful, Christians are forever portrayed as condemning people and being against or hating people.
Christians encountering this pushback may then begin to question themselves and their position or be tempted to give ground, “So-and-so is gay, but they are still a good person, so maybe I should be accepting of their lifestyle?” However, this type of moral compromise is not only theologically unsound, it isn’t even logical; just because a gay person you know is a “good person” does not mean “gay is good” just like an otherwise “good person” lying to you about something does not make lying good. Instead, Christians need to better enable themselves to maintain the distinction between sinner and sin and to communicate that distinction in a way that is palatable to their wider society.
So, I have already said that the phrase “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” is a pithy slogan form of the gospel; but what gospel truths does it communicate? What does a Christian mean by this? Well, as I see it, this slogan is attempting to “shock” you into a deeper thought process by presenting you with two contrasting sets, love/hate and sinner/sin. The shock part comes from the idea of God hating something. These tensions then “invite” you to resolve them by thinking it through. The resolution, the unifying principle, is found in the cross of Christ. God hates sin to the extent that he was willing to personally pay the penalty for sin to be rid of it. God loves the sinner so much that he was willing to personally pay the penalty for sin to reconcile the sinner to himself.
I feel the idea of “Jesus dying for your sin” may seem unintelligible to most non-Christians. For example, Islamic theology says that God forgives by forgiving, no strings attached and no gyrations required. Therefore, many Muslims find the gospel overly complex, incomprehensible, and a turn off. (Not to mention that Islam fundamentally misunderstands what the word “Gospel” even means!)
In Christian theology, human mortality; death; is the product of our sinfulness. Before Adam rebelled against God, he was not subject to aging and death, but as punishment upon his sin, he was cursed with mortality:
“17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19 NIV 1984)
As Paul explains…
“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12 NIV 1984)
Understanding that sin and death have this causal relationship is crucial to understanding Christianity; after all, ifdeath had nothing to do with sin, why would Christianity be based on Jesus Christ dying for our sin? Or more to the point, how could one very special and unique person’s death solve the sin problem for everyone?
As Paul further explains…
“15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”
“18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”(Romans 5:15-19 NIV 2011)
So there you go! An awful lot was left out but hopefully you were able to glean something useful from this “scrap” that can help better nuance and “season” your conversations with gays and non-gays on this admittedly emotionally charged topic. If your interest is piqued and you want the full Monty, come out and join us on January 23, 2016 when Advance Ministries kicks off its Big Idea Seminar Series with “The new homosexuality and gay marriage”.
The NEW Advance Institute of E-pologetics and Lifelong Learning
Presenting the 2016 schedule of monthly seminars on Christian Apologetics. This is the combination of theology and biblical studies, philosophy, science. and archaeology. We also call it "E-pologetics". This is our term for Evangelistic Apologetics with a missional and relational aspect. (Here “missional” refers to Jesus's Great Commission in Matthew 28:19). The seminars come in two broad categories that rotate by month:
1) "Big Idea" seminars focus on a broad range of general apologetics taking place, in the odd months.
2) "Legacy" seminars focus on the teachings of Islam and related apologetics, in the even months.
All seminars are on the 3rd or 4th Saturday from 1-4:30pm. Each seminar features two or more presenters who are knowledgeable in their chosen subject and exceptional communicators—sometimes scholars and/or pastors but often ordinary Christians like you and me who are up for the challenge and aspire to serve the Lord in this way. We believe apologetics is biblical, really interesting, and essential for evangelism in today’s culture, as well as for developing a confident faith within a robust Christian worldview. However, you do not have to be a Christian to attend and participate. Please plan to participate and invite a friend as well.
1. To provide a consistent supply of intellectually and culturally relevant topics for the community.
2. To offer regular opportunities for both expert and amateur Christian thinkers to present ideas.
3. To stimulate interest and competence in e-pologetics and theology in Detroit-area churches.
4. To create intellectual “watering holes” that will attract thinking people into conversation.
*Pre-register in Events for $12 or $8 for student. Cost at the door (unregistered) = $25/$20