Thursday, May 31, 2012

Harmonica in Carnegie

This has nothing to do with anything serious, but I liked it. It's not often that you hear of a harmonica concert in Carnegie Hall. While this music style is a little dated, I was blessed by it. I have a vivid memory of my father taking us to a Gaither concert in Lake Charles LA when I was a boy. This brought back some of that good time. Enjoy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gay Marriage

To be honest, I hate addressing this issue. Judi and I have family members that we dearly love who are gay. We also have dear friends who are wonderful, loving, precious people . . .who are also gay. Years ago, several gay couples started attending my church. They sat in the front and faithfully attended every service, taking notes and learning the Word. But one year, I preached a series entitled "Things We Don't Talk About." The idea was to hit head-on topics churches typically avoid because of the fear of people. The titles included politics, other religions, and, you guessed it, homosexuality. A speaker and friend of mine who is an expert in the field of homosexuality asked if he could preach that week. Since he had done much ministry among homosexuals, I agreed. But his sermon was not well received. The gay couples were outraged by the message. This prompted me to invite them all over to our home. My wife, mother, and children served these friends homemade gumbo and we enjoyed a great meal together. We later retired to the living room and discussed their feelings. The evening was loving, civil, and very helpful to us all. They shared with me their stories and the pain they had received at the hands of Evangelicals. I was deeply grieved, to the point of tears. And I shared with them my firm belief that the Bible is a gift from God that teaches us how to live an optimal life. The restriction of sex within the covenant of biblical marriage between a man and a woman is not designed to hurt us but to bless us. And I affirmed that I will teach this principle to both gays and straights out of my belief that it leads to the best life. In addition, I shared my conviction to live up to to the vows I'd taken as a Minister of the Gospel. I simply will not break my vows to the Bible for political correctness. But, I also affirmed that I loved them all and considered it an honor to be their Pastor. And, because they knew me and had sat under my ministry for some time, they believed me. They knew that I really loved them. All but one stayed at our church and continued to enjoy it immensely.
So, before I give my thoughts on gay marriage, let's get something straight. I'm not a bigot and I don't hate homosexuals. I'm also not an isolationist who has refused to befriend gay people. My guess is that I have more homosexual friends and have done more ministry to homosexuals than the average person. These opinions are not forged from a fear of gays or a desire to assault freedom. On the contrary, my views come from a deep conviction that following the Bible helps everyone, gay or straight, Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal.
Now, on to a quick statement of why I'm against gay marriage.
1. Gay marriage is not biblical. The Bible does not recognize the concept. Marriage is always between a man and a woman in the Bible. Since I have vowed to uphold the Bible in all of its teachings and believe it outlines God's principles for life, I will never perform or endorse a gay marriage. God has spoken and I will revere His Word.
2. Sex outside of the marriage covenant is not ideal. Since the Bible defines marriage as between a man and woman, and gives married couples the gift of sex exclusively, I also affirm that the purest form of sex is reserved for marriage. If a man or woman is engaged in sex outside of this covenant, it is not blessed of God and is not, therefore, ideal. I, therefore, do not encourage sex outside of marriage for anyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
3. The marriage covenant is crucial for children. Since marriage is the foundation of the family and society, there are repercussions for what we as a society endorse. For example, it is an established fact that children do better when they have both a father and a mother. This is beyond dispute from both a scientific and, more importantly, a biblical standpoint. Therefore, to endorse same sex marriage in any way as an ideal will undoubtedly promote family units where either a father or a mother is absent in the lives of children. Some will say, "well, isn't it better to have two loving mothers or two loving fathers than to have a traditional family that's dysfunctional?" But such an argument is irrelevant to the point. The ideals we endorse become our realities. The existence of poor traditional families does not mean that a healthy traditional family is impossible or should not be emphasized as THE goal.
4. To not promote THE ideal is to lower the bar and, therefore, hurt society. Since President Obama and other prominent leaders have now promoted redefining marriage to include gay couples (even celebrating this as an alternative ideal), he has added to the demise of the actual ideal scenario for children and, therefore, contributed to a further weakening of our society. As much as I admire about our President, I believe he made a terrible mistake in his recent "evolution."

Two final points: 1. The gay couples of our church mentioned above agreed with me on much of this. They did not support gay marriage. Many gays do not agree with this agenda. 2. Many in the black community are offended by the argument that marriage is a civil rights issue. Marriage is a gift, not a right. If a man asks a woman to marry him and she says no, he does not have a right to marry her. If a six year old asks a thirty year old to marry him, he does not have a right to that marriage. Marriage is a blessing not a right. The following debate between two African American pastors on this issue may be of interest. While I didn't like some of its volatility, I found it to be a fascinating discussion.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is Jesus Misquoted?

A very popular book today about the Bible is Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. I saw it recently prominently displayed at Barnes and Noble. Dr. Ehrman is a former Evangelical who claims the Bible that we have today is significantly not the original Bible of the Apostles. After studying his arguments, from my perspective, his greatest point is that there are variant readings in the manuscripts behind our translations that suggest some doctoring has happened. Here's the problem: even he suggests that the cardinal truths of our faith are not affected by these variants (most of them are spelling errors and the like). Another issue that is worth mentioning is that our current New Testament has more corroborating manuscript evidence than any other form of ancient Greco Roman literature by far. In other words, we have more evidence supporting our New Testament's reliability than any scholar on the planet has for the writings of Plato, Homer, or the Caesars.The following link is a 10 minute discussion of Ehrman's claims given by Dr. Dan Wallace (my former Greek Prof.-Go Dallas Seminary!) and Dr. Darrell Bock. It is moderated by John Ankerberg. I found it fascinating.