Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Homosexuality, The Dutch Reformed Church, and Religious Liberty

By Pastor Mark Christopher

(The following was written for the congregation of Everglen Baptist Church to inform them about the recent court ruling regarding the Dutch Reformed Church's vacillations on homosexuality and same-sex marriage and the consequence of imperiled religious liberty for all Christians.)

In October 2015, as I prepared to write the conclusion for a dissertation on homosexuality and biblical interpretation, the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) General Synod made a landmark ruling regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Essentially, the DRC agreed that individual ministers (dominees) could now solemnize same-sex marriages based on conscience. Beyond this, the General Synod concluded that non-celibate gays and lesbians could now be ordained as dominees. Given its pertinence, this ruling served as the backdrop for my eight-page conclusion, as it perfectly illustrated all that I had argued for the prior 230 pages.

But in 2016, due to extreme backlash from the DRC membership, the DRC reversed its 2015 ruling regarding homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Unhappy with this reversal, the small, but very vocal, LGBT minority in the DRC took the DRC to court. This set up the recent ruling (March 8, 2019) in the North Gauteng High Court, which favored the DRC LGBT contingent.

The High Court ruled on two fronts: First, the court ruled that the DRC’s 2016 reversal of the 2015 General Synod decision failed to follow the church’s own rules of procedure and is, therefore, invalid. If the High Court’s ruling had only addressed the DRC’s procedural irregularities, there would be no cause for concern from outside the DRC. Secondly, and more importantly, the court ruled that the DRC is guilty of discriminating against homosexuals based on sexual orientation and has, therefore, violated section 9(3) of the Constitution. With this new judicial precedent, the rest of Christendom in South Africa is now in jeopardy of losing precious religious liberties, with sexual orientation now trumping the right to religious freedom. In Orwellian fashion, all rights are equal, but some rights are now more equal than others.

Given that my legal expertise on this very concerning matter is vastly limited, I would like to make a few random biblical and personal observations that will hopefully help some to think through this new development more clearly while giving us all something to seriously pray about: 

1. It was a fool’s errand for the DRC to think they could ever appease both sides of the homosexual issue. This is a very black and white biblical issue with no ambiguity. There is no third-way position one can take. It is an either-or issue, not both-and. As a wise man once said, “If you try to walk down both sides of the street and the same time, you will get hit from both sides.” Once the LGBT camel gets its head in the ecclesiastical tent, the occupants had better be looking for the nearest emergency exit. The DRC has learned the hard way that the LGBT camel now owns their tent. 

2. The DRC’s LGBT demise was a long time in the making. They did not arrive at their current trajectory overnight. On the contrary, their accommodation of all thing’s LGBT began the day their seminaries, like Tukkies and Stellenbosch, abandoned biblical authority and scriptural sufficiency. All of which promoted a more subjective and culturally driven method of biblical interpretation. In short, the DRC has long since exchanged the creed of the Reformation Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) for the worldly creed of Sola cultura. Hence, for the DRC, culture is now supreme, not God’s word. As Jeremiah warned, “… he who has my word, let him speak it faithfully …” (Jer. 23:28). Churches and denominations that sellout to the LGBT agenda first abandon biblical authority and scriptural sufficiency long before they arrive at the LGBT destination. The DRC is no exception.

3. The word of God is unambiguous on the matter of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. It is God, in His word, who defines gender, marriage, and human sexuality, not man or man-made institutions. It is simply man’s duty to recognize what is, not arbitrarily redefine and revise what God ordained. God’s creation ordinance details three non-negotiables required for marriage and human sexuality: gender distinction, the numerical requirement of only two people, and life-long monogamy wrapped in a covenantal commitment between God and the two marriage partners. God has never amended or appended this divine recipe, even in light of the fall (Gen. 1;27; 2:23-24; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 6:18; Eph. 5:22-32). Any deviation or distortion of God’s boundaries whether it be fornication, adultery, incest, bestiality, or homosexuality is a sin that needs to be repented of (Lev. 18:6-30; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Heb. 13:4). 

4. The assumption of “sexual orientation” figured prominently in the High Court’s decision. Sexual orientation has become a catchphrase that is commonly used but seldom defined. Sexual orientation is as philosophical as it is subjective in its meaning, because it is rooted in fallen human emotions, passions, and desires, not empirical science. For an expanded treatment of this aspect of the LGBT debate please go the Everglen Baptist's website (Here) and look under seminars for my seven-part series on homosexuality and the church, which has two sessions on the slippery definition of “sexual orientation” and its relation to the biblical category of lust.  

5. The Bible, not secular society, serves as the determiner of who qualifies for church leadership (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-11). Church leadership is a privilege, not a human right. As such, it is a divine privilege that can be easily forfeited through any number of disqualifying sins and unbiblical attitudes, of which homosexuality is only one. 

6. Any church or denomination that embraces the LGBT platform, as the DRC has, is apostate and not worthy of the name church. Why? Because as stated in the first observation, long before a church or denomination arrives at the LGBT destination, they first had to abandon biblical authority and scriptural sufficiency while adopting a new hermeneutic (method of interpretation). This results in a truncated gospel, redefined gender, a distortion of marriage, and perverted sexuality that unintentionally promotes the sexual revolution. In this, the DRC has unwittingly exchanged a theology of sex for sexualized theology. The centrality of Christ is thus eclipsed by man-centered concerns instead of a Christ-centered emphasis. 

In accordance with the above, all true believers still in the DRC need to put 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 into practice by separating from this apostate denomination (as difficult as this may be) and find a biblical church that boldly and unashamedly preaches the whole council of God’s word without compromise or apology. Or, they should breakaway and start a biblical branch of the DRC. They should also know that the LGBT train does not find its terminus at homosexuality, for it keeps moving onto the next deviancy — transgenderism and all points beyond. 

7. Finally, in all of this we must remember that homosexuals are not the enemy, they are the mission field! Their biggest problem is not their homosexuality, but that they are headed for a Christ-less eternity (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Therefore, we are called upon reach out to them with the unadulterated gospel in an equal measure of truth and grace like our Lord (John 1:14). In so doing, we are to inform them that Jesus is a much better Savior than they are a sinner!

In conclusion, we must not kid ourselves into thinking the High Court’s ruling is innocuous. Quite the contrary, the militants within the LGBT are now emboldened and will seek to test this new judicial precedent on other churches and denominations. So, we must pray that this ruling will be appealed and eventually overturned while asking God to prepare us for intensified persecution. As well, we need to pray that God might use us to reach those who are enslaved to homosexuality with the sin-liberating gospel of Jesus Christ. If someone struggling with the sin of homosexuality should walk through the doors of Everglen Baptist, let us see it as an opportunity to advance gospel truth and gospel behavior like our Lord before us, who came seek and save that which is lost! 

Note: As a postscript, it was announced yesterday that the DRC will not appeal the High Court's decision. This, though, does not prevent outside parties of interest from seeking an appeal. Let us pray that an appeal is filed! 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Charlottesville: Parallels Between The White Supremacists and Antifa 
By Rev. Mark Christopher

The events of Charlottesville last Saturday have weighed heavy on my heart this week as I reflect on what was, but never should have been. Last Saturday cast a long dark shadow over the whole of the country, as it sent reverberations around the world. As if the bellicose actions of the white supremacists, Antifa (Antifascist), and Black Lives Matter weren’t bad enough, the ongoing misinterpretations and manipulated narrative of the media is adding further fuel to the fire. This is just as grievous and shameful as the tragic events of Saturday past. 

As various “progressive” entities posture to modulate the storyline for the sake of political advantage, one aspect of the story has been virtually eclipsed — the parallels between the two primary warring factions: Antifa and the white supremacists. There is as much that unites them as divides them. So, as I wade into these contentious waters it is for the purpose of highlighting some of these ironic similarities and then recounting the real solution for the racial disharmony that prevails. Thus, the following is a partial list of the common ground that these two opposing hate groups share:   

1.    Both groups loath the US Constitution and seek to undermine and flout it whenever it suits their agenda driven purposes. Antifa demonstrated its utter contempt for the 1st Amendment in Charlottesville by denying the white supremacists their legal right to march on Saturday, even though the supremacists had a properly attained permit. In turn, the white supremacists would be quick to deny people of other races their equal rights as guaranteed under the constitution.

2.    Both evil scourges adhere to the utter mindlessness of identity politics. So, rather than promoting the unity of Americanism — E Plurbis Unum (out of many, one), both deranged groups seek to polarize and sow discord through the error of their satanic doctrines of anarchy and racism.

3.    Both groups claim membership in the ever-burgeoning club of victimhood. Antifa think they are “victims” of capitalism, economic inequalities, and draconian patriarchal structures. Meanwhile, the white supremacists claim that the current social justice diatribe against “white privilege” has sidelined them because of their pale pigment. They both sound like a whiny toddler in mom’s grocery cart at the store, squalling like a brat because mom wouldn’t buy gummy bears. The real victims here are those in the public who are subjected to their juvenile rants and murderous intentions.

4.    Both groups find their roots and identity in the soil of left-wing thinking and ideology. The KKK and white supremacists locate their genesis in the Democratic Party after the civil war. And even up through the civil rights era, many prominent Democratic US congressmen and senators, like Robert Byrd, were, or had been, members in good standing with the KKK. The Antifa movement on the other hand, is lionized by many mainstream left-wing voices today because of their emphasis on globalism and wealth redistribution. All of which explains the left’s refusal to place any blame on Antifa and Black Lives Matter for Saturday’s melee. This despite video footage that clearly shows Antifa charging the marching supremacists from the sidelines. Of course, a strong police presence would have done much to prevent the brawl that ensued.

5.    Based on their common heritage and lineage, both are really two peas of the same fascist pod. Even though Antifa stands for “Antifascists”, they hold to the same essential dogma and strategies of the fascists of old. Their tactics resemble the tactics of the Nazis prior to WW2 in their aggressive attempts to silence all dissent, by any means necessary. As an anonymous sage from the WW2 era predicted, “The fascists of the future will be called antifascists.” Ironically, the white supremacists have a similar Nazi-like modus oporendi. In fact, the confrontation in Charlottesville was reminiscent of the street battles between the communists and the fascists of Hitler, prior to Hitler’s ascension to power. Then, as now, both radical ideologies were simply a variant of one another resembling an intra-tribal conflict.

6. Given their shared lineage and the close similarities in dogma, it is not surprising that both groups must rely on Big Government to intervene on behalf of their respective platforms to ensure full compliance to their half-baked ideas. Whereas true conservativism and right-wing thinking, ardently promotes a smaller, decentralized form of government with limited powers that provide liberty and justice for all.

7.    Both miscreant groups are anti-Semitic and have little time for those of Jewish persuasion. The white supremacists were chanting anti-Semitic epithets as they marched in Charlottesville. Antifa claims to be the champion of Semitic bigotry, yet they denigrate the Jewish state of Israel.

8.  Both groups share the same fatally flawed view of sin (hamartiology). They both see sin as external and structural rather than inherent, individual, and personal. The social justice mantra of Antifa construes the free market structures of the west as prime evil. Conversely, the white supremacists view racial equality as original sin, because it supplants white dominance. Neither group has any sense of “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

9.  Both Antifa and the white supremacists have a similar external view of salvation (soteriology). If sin is structural, then salvation includes replacing said evil structures with more equitably perceived structures through revolution, to include anarchy and para-military actions. Antifa illustrates this well with their new website entitled “Redneck Revolution”, which espouses violent revolutionary means to accomplish their diabolical ends of ridding the world of white supremacists and free market values.

 10. In sum, both Antifa and the white supremacists look pathetically alike in their goals, methods, ideology, theology, and genealogy. This is not to say there aren’t any differences between them, or that they are identical in every way, but the similarities are uncanny and unmistakable. They are like proverbial birds of a feather. They are like long-lost twins that just haven’t found one another yet.  They are so blinded by hatred and the violence that is bound up in their hearts, that they haven’t figured out they are actually kissing cousins who are presently estranged. They probably never will. Each is as bad as the other. For this reason, they deserve each other more than most realize.

What is doubtlessly clear is that both of these subversive groups exacerbate the problem without having anything to offer in way of a solution. Of course, this applies to many others from the media to academics and politicians as well. There are any number of people who are ready to opportunistically use such a travesty for the furtherance of an agenda or ideology.

The haunting events of last Saturday indicate that there is a tremendous amount of hatred and bitterness about the past, surrounding Charlottesville, and concerning the way forward from here. And trying to lump one political party with all the blame will do little to quell the emotionally charged climate. We certainly can’t erase the past with its dark pastels, nor should we. Let us learn from the halls of history, but not live in those same halls, as some would have us do. Further, let us be weary of those, like the media and expedient politicians, who exploit this tragedy for their own evil purposes and the sake of personal gain.

 Instead, Bible-believing Christians should capitalize on this present darkness and point the confused and bewildered to the light of Christ. Make Christ the object of the rallying cry, not politics or some secular notion of social justice. After all, this is a spiritual and theological problem before it is a political or social problem. The church of Jesus Christ has an opportunity in this dark hour to be both light and salt — light that illumines the way to the only one who broke down that wall of partition that stood between us; and salt that arrests the creeping decay and rancor that contentious issues like this emit. It is up to the church, the blood-bought church, to remind those around us that God has made of all nations one blood, and that salvation does not come by revolution, legislation, or coercive polices, but by the blood of the Lamb! Therefore, if there is to be a revolution, may it be a redemptive revolution that is led by the redeemed on behalf of the Redeemer — Jesus Christ! 

Note: As a postscript to this article, I came across a headline today that highlights the real meaning of the oft used term "alt-right". It is a term coined by Richard Spencer who leads a white nationalist socialist supremacist group. His use of the term means "alternative to the right", which underscores the arguments above that the white supremacists have far more in common with left-wing ideology and thinking than they do with those on the right. Spencer admits that he is a socialist, abortionist, and white supremacist. His goal is to hijack the Republican Party and morph it into his way of thinking. For this reason, he has been reviled and rejected by the right even though he insists on hitching his wagon to the right-wing train.