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Homosexuality: A Losing Battle?

Guest Blogger: Michael LeFebvre 

Dr. LeFebvre is the pastor of Christ Church on the west side on Indianapolis, IN, and editor of The Gospel and Sexual Orientation. This post was originally given as a talk in January of 2014 and has an audio link at the bottom of this article.

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The title for this morning’s workshop points our thoughts in two directions. The title is, “Homosexuality: A Losing Battle?” This question confronts us on two levels.

First, and in my view most importantly, it confronts us on the personal level. For those who personally experience this battle, it can often feel hopeless. The phrase that we hear so often today, and that captures this feeling of hopelessness, is the phrase, “You cannot pray the gay away.” That popular phrase communicates hopelessness to those who experience same-sex temptations. Furthermore, by citing prayer as the cure that fails (“you cannot pray the gay away”), that popular phrase is a direct challenge to the church—indeed, to Christ as the one who has let us down. In the face of such a message, how is a Christian caught in this battle to feel? Is this battle, faced on the personal level, a losing battle?

Secondly, this question […]

The Impact of the Upward Fall on Man’s Will

In his work Theology is for Proclamation, Lutheran theologian Gerhard Forde (pronounced fur-dy) offers an insightful perspective on the impact of the fall of man in Adam on our wills.  In so doing, he explains why man, apart from the working of the Spirit of God on his soul, always insists on having free choice in matters of salvation.

Because of the direction the word “fall” implies, we tend to think of our fall in Adam only in a downward direction. Yet Forde reminds us of what Adam was doing when he fell to the temptation of Satan:

The fall is really not what the word implies at all. It is not (Note: I would add the word “only” here) a downward plunge to some lower level in the great chain of being, some lower rung on the ladder of morality and freedom. Rather, it is an upward rebellion, an invasion of the realm of things “above,” the usurping of divine prerogative.

Man’s great problem, simply stated, is that he wants to be God.  Forde uses the term “upward fall” to describe this rebellion.

As such, man, who was created in the image of God to reflect His glory, has now directed his constitution in the completely opposite […]

Browse Worthy: Elizabeth Elliot

With sadness yet gratitude we note that Elizabeth Elliot left this world earlier this week and, in the words she made famous, passed through the gates of splendor.  Her Christ-centered love story with missionary Jim Elliot, her incredible bravery and ministry as a young mother to the Aucan tribes that murdered him and four others missionaries, her ongoing God-glorifying teaching ministry, and especially her piercing and prolific writing have been greatly used by the Lord. I add my voice to the many who acknowledge that they  have been deeply shaped by her books.

Below are several moving tributes to Elizabeth followed by a video where, in her own words, she recounts her story. Read and watch, but do not stop there.  Summer is a great time to read her “trilogy” that uses in part the diaries of Jim Elliot to tell their story: Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, and The Savage My Kinsman.  What a story of Christ’s redeeming power God wrote through their lives!

Elisabeth Elliot, Tenacious Missionary to Ecuador, Dies at 88

Missionary Pioneer Elisabeth Elliot Passes Through Gates of Splendor

Elizabeth Elliot Website

Openness, Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield

In these “trans-whatever” times, our world is so very confused about identity.  Following hot on the (high) heels of Bruce Jenner introducing himself as Caitlyn, we now have the spectacle of Rachel Dolezal.  She is the president of the local Spokane NAACP chapter who, turns out, is not the African-American-with-multiple-racial-hate-crimes-committed-against-her that she claimed to be.  As one writer asks in the title of his article, “If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?“.   One can only imagine what further jumbling of identity the next news cycle will bring.

Oh, that a voice of clarity with charity might speak into this muddled mess!

One has.

Following the great interest created by her first book, The Secret Thought of an Unlikely Convert, the autobiographical story of her journey from being a leftist lesbian professor to a follower of Christ, Rosaria Butterfield has now written Openness, Unhindered.  In a work that could not be more timely, written in her engaging and compassionate prose, Rosaria offers a clear-minded treatise on what true identity is (including but not limited to sexual identity) and how it is to be discovered and nurtured.  With great depth of insight into the inner heart battles all men and women share; interaction with a […]

What a Week!

Last week was full in more ways than one as I taught a four-day, intensive church planting course at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary to seventeen students.  Thankfully, two friends experienced in church planting helped me teach throughout the week as we emphasized together the evangelism, discipleship, and particularly the working of God’s Spirit necessary to see new works develop.  Their presence added to the joy of the time.  All of the students were special, and the possibilities and realities for their involvement in church plants are so exciting.

Yet it was made all the more special and exciting seeing those present who want to do cross cultural and across the ocean church planting!  We had present men and women from a large Asian nation who want to plant churches in North America to immigrant populations.  Also, two families participated who are planning to move to India next summer as a team to begin a work there.  These movements in our little denomination and seminary are unprecedented, and my heart is still pumping hard just remembering their hunger, intensity, and determination for what lies ahead.

At the end of class, the folks from India sang Psalm 67 in a beautiful Hindi arrangement one of them […]

Browse Worthy: Bruce Jenner’s Vanity Fair

With the explosion in print and social media of “the picture” (which I refuse to post here), one cannot escape the discussion about Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner.  Without offering a critique of each approach, here are ten trending articles in alphabetical order with insightful viewpoints regarding this matter.

Bruce Jenner, the Transgender Revolution, and Loving Our Neighbors – Denny Burk

Bruce Jenner is Not Brave – Nicole Russell

Calling Bruce Jenner a Woman is an Insult to Women – Matt Walsh

Caitlyn Jenner and Love in the Future Tense – Alex Duke

Fifty Shades of Gender Insanity – Walt Heyer

Franklin Graham on Facebook

I am Ryland – The Story of a Male-Identifying Little Girl Who Didn’t Transition – Lindsay Leigh Bentley

Jenner’s Vanity Fair – R.C. Sproul Jr.

John Hopkins Psychiatrist: Transgender is ‘Mental Disorder;’ Sex Change ‘Biologically Impossible’ – Michael W. Chapman

Triple D Demented – Douglas Wilson

In case those ten are not enough, here’s my offering.   A few months ago I wrote about Jenner in a post entitled The Plastic Man.

Sacrifices by Fire

I knew the day would come.

My life like yours is becoming increasingly a digital one.  I am moving more and more away from filing papers to storing items electronically.  I knew one day those three big, rusting, steel filing cabinets in our basement, sitting there like artifacts in a museum in that they remind you of the past but are rarely visited, would be emptied and removed. Sure, important documents would still be kept in a small filing cabinet or security box. But why keep paper files of items already stored on multiple devices and backed up in the cloud?

The past few days it finally happened.  A desire to declutter our basement drove me to do it.  What satisfaction it was to haul those cabinets out to the curb and, literally within minutes and without any summons, have a guy named Dan stop by in a pickup truck and haul them away to be scrapped.

Yet the joy of being free of the cabinets’ bulkiness turned into a bit of unexpected melancholy as I pulled the wagon filled with their contents over to the fire pit.  Now it was time to burn these papers, which mostly meant for me watching over two decades of […]

The Badness of Our Good

A year after the posting of his Ninety-five Theses, Martin Luther was called before the German congregation of his Augustinian order to give an accounting of his teachings.  In what became known as his Heidelberg Disputation, Luther laid out with precision a series of twenty-eight statements he referred to as “theological paradoxes” to contrast the growing Protestant understanding of the gospel with the reigning Catholic theology of the day.  The importance of this presentation is seen in that a number of the early reformers, men such as Martin Bucer, were in attendance and were greatly influenced by Luther’s teaching.

Without seeing Luther’s deeply Biblical underpinnings set against the theological context of the times, these paradoxes can read more like unsatisfying contradictions at points.  Nowhere is this more evident than when he treats the subject of good works.  For instance, Thesis 6 states this:

The works of God (we speak of those that he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

On the surface, this statement can appear to be saying that the perfect, holy God can take actions which have no merit in them and even have sin in them somehow. Yet this is to miss Luther’s point and the brilliancy that is actually shining through […]

If I Were to Sin

John said the Bible was written so that “you may not sin.”

But what if I were to sin?

If I were to sin, I would not want to have a god other than the Trinity or worship idols.
For I would become like the false god or the idol I worshipped.
I don’t want to be angry like Allah or blind like a Buddha.
(Psalm 115:1-8)

If I were to sin, I would not want to use the Lord’s name wrongly.
He takes it personally and how could I hurt the One whose very name gives me salvation?
(Exodus 20:7; Acts 4:12)

If I were to sin, I would not want to forget the Sabbath Day.
I would miss too many blessings and ultimately forget the Lord Himself.
(Isaiah 58:13-14)

If I were to sin, I would not dishonor my parents or even roll my eyes at them.
For that is to invite the birds of the valley to peck out those eyes.
(Proverbs 30:17)

If I were to sin, I would not want to mess around with another man’s wife.
For that would be like lighting a fire on my […]

Keep Your Line in the Water

Recently in several contexts I have had discussions with others about evangelism. In particular, the question that has been raised is, “Why do Presbyterian churches seem to have fewer records of adult conversions than Baptist churches?” The actual numbers would substantiate this claim, I believe, but certainly the general perception is that this is indeed the case. Why is this so?

In this debate, you commonly hear Baptists point out such things as the practice of infant baptism or the coldness produced by predestination dulls Presbyterian resolve in evangelism; likewise, Presbyterians would counter that the use of church growth techniques or the looseness in Arminian theology found in a great number of Baptist churches inflate the true numbers.  Though each of these matters have some truth to them more or less, yet this is not the full story.  For, on the one hand, not all Presbyterians fall into hyper-Calvinism and, on the other hand, many Baptists are Reformed and still seem to see more fruit in evangelism.  So may there be another reason?

I would suggest that on a more practical level it has to do with the culture of certain branches of the church.  In the kingdom of God, can we not acknowledge that different […]