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Friday, August 7, 2015

Another Road Paved With Good Intentions

John Piper is very sincere when frantically writing against homosexuality. The concern expressed in his blog's article on sodomy was that people will fall into the hands of Satan if they believe Satan's lies which Piper has identified and listed in his article (click here to see the article). And what both the Christian and nonChristian as well as the heterosexual and homosexual must distinguish is what Scriptures actually say from Piper's trying too hard to warn people.

First, we need to note that engaging in homosexual acts is a serious sin according to the Scriptures. We see that in both Romans 1:24-27 and I Corinthians 6:9-11. One cannot practice sound exegesis and come to some other conclusion. Those who disagree often look for the tiniest detail to justify the biggest straying from the intent of the Scriptures. 

Having said that, what we have to note that it is still possible to try too hard to prosecute a particular sin like homosexuality. And that has recently happened quite often as conservative Christians have searched high and low to convince the general public to oppose same-sex marriage. 

One sign that Piper tried too hard to make his case is in the associations he makes. Note the first paragraph of his article. The same Satan who has inspired people to deal in drugs and extreme violence misleads people to engage in homosexual acts. Scripturally speaking, that is true. But it is also true that the same demonic being who has lead many down the dark paths of drugs and violence has also led people to commit  petty sins as well--it isn't until later that Piper will compare the significance of homosexual sins with theft. So why is Piper trying to associate homosexuality with drugs and violence in that way? He is trying too hard to make his case.

But we could also see how Piper wants homosexuals to be treated by society. He wants society to associate shame with homosexual practices and thus stigmatize homosexuals. To be fair, he wants society to stigmatize other sins as well such as kidnapping, adultery, stealing and fornication. In other words, he wants society to act as a supplemental disciplinary arm of the Church. He wants society to start punishing sinners where the Church leaves off. And here is another example of Piper trying too hard for he is expecting too much from society. In addition, he wants it to punish both personal sins and sins that are criminal acts as well. For society to do that, it would have to be dominated by Christian moral values. But if it was, where would be the religious freedom of those who are not Christians. Where would be the freedom of those whose values allow for sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage? And finally, how could Piper biblically expect that from society if the Apostle Paul didn't (see I Corinthians 5:12-13)?

Yes, Piper has legitimate concerns regarding  the spiritual dangers of homosexual practices. But perhaps Piper is too old school, that is he comes from a time when Christianity did dominate parts of society, to recognize the dangers of his try too hard approach.

Society, according to the old school approach, is not a place where homosexuals and Christians with a Biblical view of sex can live as equals. In fact, it is not a place where people who could not be church members in good standing because of their behaviors and Christians exist as equals. And this is where Piper's approach to challenging homosexual practices shows that he is trying to hard. In addition, Piper's appreoach causes unnecessary blowback. For it seems that in a society that is built on religious freedom, we should be able to have a  reasoned discussion about sexual morals in society. But that cannot occur when we call on all outside of the discussion to punish our opponent by marginalizing them. Furthermore, such will not fly in a society where there is more diversity and where the significant personal and public contributions of those from the LGBT community to both us individuals and our society are too great to ignore. And it cannot happen when the rest in society see some conservative Christians sorely persecute others because of certain personal sins while remaining silent about or supportive of our nation's wars and its economic system that relies on human and environmental exploitation to survive, 

In contrast to Piper's old school approach against treating homosexuals as equals comes two verses from Paul's Epistle to the Romans. In Romans 2:1ff, Paul warns us against judging others just a few verses after condemning homosexuality in the previous chapter. Why does he warn us against judging others? He does so because when we look down on others for their sin, we condemn ourselves because we commit sins and sometimes they are the same sins we are condemning others for.

In addition, we have Romans 3:9 that tells us that neither the gentiles with the sins listed in Romans 1 that include homosexuality nor the religious people of his time who also sin are superior to the other. Why? Because we all sin. 

Piper's old school approach simply tries too hard. And because of its attempted overreach, which has been going on for decades, those who believe in fairness will be pressured by Piper's approach to reject his claim that homosexual acts are sinful regardless of what the Scriptures say. In addition, because of  Piper and others practice and promote an old school approach to public morality, there will eventually be a pendulum swing that goes the other way. And the energy used to push the pendulum in the direction preferred by old school approach to society and morality will be the same energy with which the pendulum is returning. And while many of us conservative Christians will cry foul at the changing of the pendulum's direction, we really have no right to complain considering how we have insisted that those with a different sexual orientation than our own be sorely punished publicly.




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