Friday, April 11, 2014

This post is about the impasse that many Christians, myself included, are having with many in the culture concerning a wide array of issues - abortion, homosexuality, greed, parenthood, marriage,  etc....I have been thinking and praying concerning how to address this issue, and the best way I know how is to give an example. 

The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of Witchcraft in Colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693.  They are a famous example of what most would call religious hysteria and extremism.  These trials resulted with the execution of twenty people, mostly women. 

Most people look at this history as a sad, horrific, cautionary tale of religious extremism and a failure of the due process of law.  The events and historicity of the events are not what I am writing about.  What I am writing about is this - most people look at this history as a sad, horrific, cautionary tale because most people believe that these twenty people were wrongly prosecuted and put to death incorrectly.  They believe this because they do not believe the supernatural claims made by the prosecutors and witnesses.  They believe this based upon the idea that there are no such things as witches - and even if there were - these twenty did not deserve to die due to witchcraft.  Basically stated, they were wrongly put to death by overzealous religious extremists because what they believed was categorically untrue.  The prosecutors and witnesses were wrong about the facts - intentionally or unintentionally.

But let me ask this question - what if those put to death were really witches?  [Please listen here, I am not saying that I think they were.  This is a gigantic, "what if" for the sake of a point] What if there were really people in league with the Prince of Darkness and were endangering the entire town with supernatural evil?  What if the plague of the demonic was really running rampant and people were intentionally, forthrightly, in league with Satan?  What if people, in conversation with the devil, were willing participants to attempt to destroy a community?  Well, that changes things does it not?  You could hardly find a greater reason to put someone to death capitally than if they were really intentionally in league with Satan with the full-on intent of destroying people now could you? 

The point I am making here is simple - our actions and opinions are formed by what we believe is true.  If I believe you are a witch in league with the devil, I am going to avoid you.  I will warn others about you.  I will try and stop you.  I will do this because I love my neighbor and I love you.  If, however, you are not in league with the devil my warning others about you is an act of cruelty, gossip, and slander.  It all depends on if you really are a witch or not. 

Using this extreme example helps us understand the impasse many Christians and the culture are having.  I will use same-sex marriage as an example, as that is a hot-button issue at the moment.  Many Christians believe that homosexuality is a perversion of the sexual gift that God has given to humanity.  We believe this activity and persuasion is not in the best interest of the participants or the community.  These Christians consider it a loving act to attempt to persuade others that this behavior is bad.  Living in a democratic republic, Christians also have the right to attempt to persuade elected officials to formulate laws in a manner which they believe are the best interests of the people in the community.  With this in mind Christians publicly condemn homosexual acts and do not want the practice codified into law. 

Now, the contrary position is that homosexuality is as good and holy as heterosexuality - and people who practice homosexuality within monogamous relationships are to be celebrated and encouraged just as we would any other heterosexual couple.  Therefore those who believe this think that these many Christians are cruel - intolerant - and nasty because they condemn what they believe is good - indeed ought to be celebrated.  They see the fight against homosexual marriage in the same light as they see the fight against inter-racial marriage - a bigoted, cruel war of words by an intolerant minority of religious extremists. all depends on who is right about that which is true does it not?  Homosexuality is either good or it is evil.  If homosexuality is evil, then we ought to attempt to persuade people stuck in that sin to repent and believe in the forgiveness of Christ, ought we not?  If it is good than we ought to celebrate it and lift it up as one example on how we ought to behave, ought we not?  It really all depends on which side is correct about the truth.

And this leads me to this final point - where do we go to find that which is true?  In John 17:17 Jesus is praying to the Father for His disciples and He prays, "sanctify them by truth, your Word is truth."  Many Christians consider the Bible as the font of truth.  What it says is true.  Regardless of how I feel about what it says, it is true.  I, as a follower of Christ, am called to actively promote and publically proclaim that which is true.  To do other would be to violate the command, "you shall not bear false witness." 

The culture does not look to the Bible this way.  The culture looks at the Bible as a collection of myths - perhaps a book about morals.  Human reason is their font of truth.  What we reason to be true, is true. 

This is the impasse.  In this way, both sides believe they are being loving.  Both sides believe they are forwarding that which is in the best interests of the community.  It really comes down to who is right doesn't it? 

Those of you that know me know what I believe to be true.  I believe homosexuality is a sexual sin along with fornication, pornography, adultery, and many other sexual sins.  The proper place for sexual expression is between a husband and a wife in the lifelong commitment of marriage.  Because I believe this I actively attempt, in my mind, to love the person in homosexuality to repent and receive the forgiveness of Christ.  In this way I believe I am fulfilling a loving act commanded and forwarded by my Savior. 

Many think that this opinion is bigoted and cruel and that I am bigoted and cruel because I hold the position.  It all depends on who is right does it not? 

We do not like choices like this in our culture, but alas, we must choose sides.  The Bible has proven to me to be the story of God's salvation to sinners.  I must daily repent of my sins and embrace Jesus for forgiveness.  Due to this, I will throw my opinion behind the truth of the Bible.



  1. Great post, IMHO. You have promoted the conversation and raised the bar for ethical debate. But, I disagree with what appears to be one of your premises (it might not be): "You could hardly find a greater reason to put someone to death..." The rest, about "warn others about you. I will try and stop you" flow, I think, from the same premise.

    If ALL human behavior (and theology) is depraved and nothing humans can think, believe, or do is devoid of sin, then even our efforts to protect others and/or enforce the will of God is, at least suspect.

    The reason I am a follower of Jesus (not a faithful one, to be sure) is not because he is the Son of God so much as because I am convinced that humanity has tried to understand and enforce the will of god(s) for eons and have succeeded only in being the most violent, destructive, and entropic species on the planet. I follow Jesus because he said, essentially, "This I believe with all my heart... and I'm willing to die for it. But, I am not willing to kill for it." That, it seems to me, means we ought not coerce witches (or homosexuals or communists or...) to behave or believe in any way. That way, of course, leads to martyrdom for many who take the non-violent path toward converting others to their way(s) of thinking/believing/living. The other way, however, leads to witch trials and holocausts (..., Crusades, 30-Years War, slavery, Stalin, Third Reich, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Pol Pot, ...)

    Again, thank you for the thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

  2. Thanks brother for your response. I truly appreciate you reading/commenting on the post and love discussion.

    When I read the book of Acts, I precisely see Apostles and others attempting to sway others to believe in Jesus. They call people to repentance and faith in Christ. While I agree that we will never be sinless in our theology and lives, this does not preclude us from desiring to spread the Gospel to all the known world.

    I agree this is to be done non-violently. The section questioned was about protecting - if I believed someone was going to harm another - terribly - I believe I would be duty bound to attempt to stop it. Love, "always protects." Yet, I agree that our desire to stop this has often turned poor....

    God bless Craig,