FEARLESS.CULTIVATING COURAGE in an age of intolerance and religious persecution. Eric Metaxas in Melbourne - 27 April 2016.
Eric Metaxas east coast tour.
There’s no doubt it is becoming harder to be a Christian in Australia. Elite opinion mocks faith. Some activists seek to silence Christian voices. Media often scoffs at anything that has even a trace of timeless, Christian faith.
But our nation has been blessed and shaped by the transforming power of the message of Christianity.
Christianity has shaped our morals, our institutions and our laws. Everyone has benefited.
So, does faith still have a role to play in public life? In these uncertain times we can draw hope and courage from the fearless conviction of Christian heroes who have been motivated by faith in God to shape their societies for good.
By cultivating courage we can together be a voice for values and shape our nation’s future.
New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas has penned biographies on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce. His books, 7 Men and 7 Women explore the great contribution of fearless Christian heroes to their time. He brings compelling, modern insights from these examples of courage and has an urgent yet winsome message for Christians today.
Join us in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney as we unpack what it means in modern Australia for Christians to remain fearless in our time.
Sydney Melbourne Brisbane
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A new power is rising in the West. Their victory seems at hand and there will be no dawn for those who oppose them, or so they think.
The War on God and His People
By Craig Manners
19th February 2016
Whether we want it or not, war is upon us. There is a new power rising in the West and they cannot co-exist peaceably with the people of the Source of Western greatness.
There is no doubt that the moral foundations which underpinned the greatness of Western culture, economic prosperity, individual freedoms and political stability are under advanced and relentless attack from the ideological movement behind the assault on marriage and family. The assault is so advanced that there may well be no turning back. There may also be no time of earthly peace in the foreseeable future for any who oppose the new power.
The pro-homosexual movement sweeping through our society, silencing all opposition, will take no prisoners, especially Christian ones. Why? Well, the teachings of Christianity say that homosexual sex is "detestable," "unnatural" and "shameful." The pro-homosexual movement understandably don't like that, therefore the whole Christian church, their Bible, Christian schools, charities, politicians, businesses, music, public influence, etc. etc. are all in the sights of the pro-homosexual media and all the other pro-homosexual groups with a big stick.
Because of this clash of worldviews, as this emboldened new power continues to rise, a tsunami of discrimination against and persecution of Christians is forecast.
Does the Christian fear persecution? They shouldn't. Throughout the 2000 years since Jesus established His Church some of the periods of the greatest church growth and influence for good in this world, have always come about as a result of persecution. As Tertullian once said, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
The Church cannot be defeated by anyone or anything and Jesus remains on His throne whether the godly or the ungodly rule on earth. Just as God remains God whether an atheist believes in Him or not. So, God's will be done whether we live in times of peace or times of turmoil.
It is not a time for the Christian to withdraw from the public square but a time to bravely engage more fully. If we love God and our fellow people we are obliged to speak the truth, defend the weak, and help to build a society where all people, including all our fellow sinners, can live peaceable lives.
We do not know whether the West is coming under some divine judgement at present or not, although it is likely so. But we do know that we are all sinners and that the only peace available for any human heart and soul, the only rest available for our restless lives, is only to be found in trusting in Jesus Christ.
Whatever happens to marriage or anything in this life, Christians have something which cannot be taken away or defeated.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39
"One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."
- by Mary Stevenson
"I am with you ALWAYS." Jesus Christ. (Matt. 28:20). I remember walking to court by myself for my first appearance at the beginning of the Adelong trial. I did not feel overwhelmed, or scared or worried at all. I was surprised. As I walked I didn't even feel like my feet were touching the pavement, I literally felt like I was being carried. I knew then that everything would be alright. Jesus had promised me He would never leave me and as He walked with me that morning He knew my weakness and so carried me when I could no longer walk by myself.
I was reminded of this experience yesterday when a missionary friend of ours spoke at our church. He mentioned the above poem and how he and his wife had experienced the truth of having Jesus carry them through some recent trials when his wife had cancer.
God's View of Sex
By Billy Graham
From the very beginning, God has given us moral laws governing the subject of sex that are absolute and unchangeable. Nowhere does the Bible teach that sex in itself is a sin. But from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible condemns the wrong use of sex.
The Bible teaches that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
We allow our magazine shelves to be filled with obscene literature. Our young people have very little restraint placed on them. In many universities religion is frowned on and sexual freedom is idolized.
In the midst of this darkness, the Word of God stands as a beacon. It speaks either to assure us of the right or to condemn us when wrong.
According to the Bible, morals are not relative. They are absolute. When Moses stood on Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, which are the basis of all moral law, God said to him, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5).
There is nothing in the Bible that would lead us to believe that God has ever lowered His standards. The seventh commandment says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14).
This commandment has never been revoked or changed in the slightest degree.
Jesus went further and said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:27-28).
All the way through the Bible, immorality is listed along with murder and idolatry. In the Old Testament God demanded the death penalty for this sin. God hated it to such an extent that if persons were proved to be guilty, they were to be stoned. Jesus hated this sin so much that He said it is the only thing that can break a sacred marriage contract.
The Bible teaches that this sin leads to hell. “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell” (Proverbs 5:3-5).
In 1 Corinthians 6, the Bible says that no immoral person can inherit the kingdom of God. There are hundreds of passages that indicate the wrath of God is being stored up against those who commit such sins. God destroyed whole cities because of immorality, and He ordered Israel to destroy nations because of their perversions.
God has not changed. What was wrong from the beginning is still wrong today in God’s sight. There is no variableness nor shadow of turning with God. He is absolute. And I warn you that His wrath is going to explode upon those who are immoral and upon those who encourage others to indulge in immoral practices.
While it is true that “by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20), God will judge men and women by the Law. The Bible says, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1).
Romans 1 not only exposes moral sin, but it sets forth the basis upon which God will judge such sin. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:28-32).
Three times this chapter says that God “gave them up” or “gave them over.” Men and women became so immoral that even God “gave up.” In other words, they hardened their heart and deadened their conscience to such an extent that they could no longer hear the voice of God. They were blinded, hardened and deadened to conscience.
You may continue in your sins and evade the social consequences in this life, but you will never evade God’s Law. Even as the Bible says, “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins” (Leviticus 26:14-18).
Many people say, “But we are not under law—we are under grace.”
Jesus did teach a new theology. The real truth is that now, Christ having died for our sins, God views them more seriously than ever. The Bible says, “Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:28-31).
We flaunt our evil and corruption into the face of Almighty God as though God were completely indifferent. We glorify the twin crimes of sexual perversion and drunkenness, which have spelled doom for other nations. Men and women openly condemn immorality but secretly get a vicarious thrill out of reading in the newspapers the moral deviations of movie stars, socialites and public figures.
Such times of moral degradation have taken place before in the history of the nations. There have been few that have survived the deadening effect. The truth that is often overlooked is that while we become deeply concerned and rightly take steps to curb the evil, legislation cannot work a cure in these things.
Many people are confident that legislation will solve our problem. Our problem is deeper than that. It is the constant problem of the individual sinner before God. Whether the sin is privately or publicly expressed, it is still the individual who stands guilty before God. It is the individual who must cry out to God for salvation from his or her personal sin.
While we have an obligation to take steps to curb the outbreak of sin, we have a higher responsibility for the protection of our youth. Young people must be brought before God’s answer to the problem. The temptation to sin, and the evil that results from yielding to temptation, is more than an unaided man or woman can overcome. The disposition to sin is so overpowering that apart from the grace and power of God we cannot solve our problems. Unless God lifts us out of our sin, we will forever remain in it.
Perhaps you have been confronted with temptations to sin and have found yourself unable to rise above them. The law has condemned you before God and has done its rightful work. Paul said, “By the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20), and you, hearing the standards set forth in God’s law, have said within yourself, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:18-24).
Many have tried with all sincerity to live according to these requirements of the law, and have been plunged into despair, being unable to fulfill them. And all the requirements must be fulfilled, for the Bible says that “whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10).
What a horrible condemnation this is, and yet this is the Scripture.
But God, knowing our inability because of sin, has graciously made provision for all our need, great as it is. While we are unable in ourselves to live up to the law, and while in our weakened condition through sin we can only acknowledge its correctness, yet there is mercy with the Lord. To the desperate soul, fully aware of all his or her sin and failure, there comes the joyful assurance: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! … There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 7:25-8:1).
Turn from sin and temptation today. Ask Christ to come into your life, and surrender yourself to Him.
Source: ©1953 (renewed 1981), 1998 BGEA
Here are a few interesting links from Summit Ministries this week:
1. AXIS released an interview with Lee Strobel on evangelism this week.
2. Michael Liccione wrote at Intellectual Takeout about why the culture wars are philosophy wars.
3. At First Things, David Blankenhorn examines how the idea of marriage has shifted and the accompanying consequences.
4. ICYMI: Christian thinker James K.A. Smith gave a great 30-minute explanation of the Bible's view of freedom & flourishing at City Church in 2014.
Christian Colleges & Gender Identity. The Next Assault on Religious Freedom?
By John Stonestreet 18th Feb 2016
According to some, including a few folks in government, religious liberty is code for religious bigotry.
You’ve probably heard of Title IX, the federal law signed by President Nixon in 1972 “that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.” Title IX is probably best known for its effect on women’s athletics by mandating equitable treatment with men’s teams.
Of course, discrimination against women and girls on the basis of their sex is a bad thing, and so Title IX—though not a perfect piece of legislation—has done a lot of good. But the federal government has a habit of extending legislation beyond its intended reach, and that’s what is happening right now with Title IX.
The Department of Education, under pressure from LGBT groups such as the Human Rights Campaign and some legislators, has agreed to create a public, searchable database of Christian colleges and universities that obtained Title IX waivers based on claims of religious freedom.
These exemptions—which, for example, allow religious schools to provide male-only or female-only dorms—have been granted routinely since the law’s passage, but all that may be beginning to change. According to a report in WORLD magazine, the HRC has “accused Christian institutions of ‘hidden discrimination’ for obtaining Title IX waivers.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden and several other Democratic senators have asked the department to increase transparency around the waivers because, they charge, the waivers “allow for discrimination under the guise of religious liberty.”
To what are these senators referring and why is the nation’s largest LGBT group getting involved? Well back in 2014, the Department of Education quietly expanded its interpretation of the word “sex” to include “gender identity.” So, absent a religious exemption, schools that want to honor Christ in their teaching and lifestyle standards could be vulnerable to charges of Title IX discrimination if, for example, they tried to deny a male who “identifies as a female” from living in a women’s dorm, or participating on a female sports team, or using a woman’s public restroom.
Now perhaps I’m being suspicious, but it seems that a public, searchable database like this really has no real purpose other than to “out” those institutions that wish to stand for biblical values. The database would allow people who disagree with their Christian mission to target these colleges for harassment and possible legal challenge. With WORLD, I wonder whether this database is basically just “a hit list of Christian colleges.”
Efforts like this undermine our First Amendment rights to freedom of religion, association, and speech—much like we’ve seen in the ongoing efforts to punish and shut down Christian business owners who refuse to participate in so-called “same-sex” marriages. We’ve also seen this Administration attempt to force religious institutions, such as the Little Sisters of the Poor and Wheaton College, to provide health insurance in ways that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and others, are speaking out. “Institutions that have received an exemption are simply following the law,” the CCCU told WORLD. “What is unfortunate in this recent development is not that the list of schools that received an exemption is being made public, rather that the exemptions are being portrayed as something nefarious.”
What’s really nefarious in my book is the attempt to intimidate religious schools for doing nothing other than living up to their own beliefs. As one critic has said, it’s shameful.
There is no question that our liberties are under intentional, systematic assault. The question is how the Church and those who value our freedoms will respond: will we defend them? And will we model Christ as we do?
Here is another big question: Can we trust the Bible? It is the biggest selling, most rigorously tested, most influential book of all time, responsible for the greatest periods of human freedoms and flourishing in history. Have you read it yet? Why not have a read this year. Just start with one of the gospels, maybe Mark and then maybe try Ecclesiastes and then go to Matthew and keep reading, or start a methodical reading plan. God wants to speak to you directly, so ask God to help you, to reveal Himself to you and speak to you. Read it honestly with an open mind with the goal of making up your own mind, rather than being prejudiced by our culture or media. The stakes are high so take it seriously. There is a good online resource at Bible Gateway too. Take your questions to any Bible believing church on any Sunday morning and they will willingly answer them for you.
Looking for answers to life's big questions? Go to the source. To help your investigation here is an answer to the question: What is Christianity all about?
Our Intolerant and Christophobic Media
By Craig Manners – 4th February 2016
Veteran journalist Kerry O’Brien recently said, "The health of the democracy can partly be measured by the health of its media and I don't think the health of our government, of our democracy, is great right now… I don't think our politics is in a great state and I don't think our media is in a great state." I fully agree.
Like Hydra infiltrating Shield in “Captain America - The Winter Soldier,” the enemies of freedom have infiltrated our media and political elite in Australia. This infiltration has reached such a critical mass that the boldness in the political interference, pro-social-engineering, left-wing bias, disregard for democracy, and fully bigoted anti-Christian hate-mongering is no less than what one would expect from an intolerant, authoritarian ideological movement out to remove all those who oppose them.
The pro-homosexual media cannot seem to co-exist with anyone who holds to what is after-all the position long held throughout human history, that homosexual sex acts are unnatural, unhealthy and basically should not be widely encouraged, especially to children, as is currently happening.
They especially will not co-exist with Christianity, their main target in the West. The reason for this is simply because Christians know homosexual sex is not good for people or good for society and they are not afraid to speak the truth about it. Therefore they are the main targets of the media and any other pro-homosexual with a big stick.
This persecution of Christians by the pro-homosexual movement is forecast to reach new heights if they manage to undermine Australia’s marriage laws. As with all extreme movements, along with persecuting Christians they will throw out all the good that has come from Australia’s Christian influenced foundations. I shudder to think of what we will get in its place.
The war of world views is upon us and is dividing Australian society as if we were in a civil war without guns. So far the infiltrators are winning and are increasing their positions of influence throughout Australia, not just in the media, along with a correlating increase in the number and size of big sticks they control, and are anxious to use.
This ideological coup in Australia has the potential to take away the hard won freedoms we have grown complacent in taking for granted, with one change of one law, the marriage law. The stakes really are that high. People never give up their freedom willingly do they? It has to be taken from them by deceit or force. Our freedom is under imminent threat of being taken by deceit.
A new power is arising. Their victory seems at hand and there will be no dawn for those who oppose them, or so they think. We have at present one opportunity left to protect our young and free society, through a plebiscite on defending marriage, but the media and other pro-homosexual groups will do everything in their power to stop a plebiscite from happening. They rightly fear that this is the only thing standing between them and total victory.
Malcolm Turnbull is busy making sure that homosexual and pro-homosexual candidates are given safe seats to get them into parliament; the Australian of the Year award in 2016 has gone to a person, David Morrison, who will spend his year basically promoting homosexual sex acts to our nation’s youth; government funded programs are indoctrinating Australia’s school children to believe that homosexual sex acts are happy and colorful; laws are being introduced and planned to crack down on anyone who continues to hold the view of marriage which until just a few years ago was held by humanity since the beginning; public companies have been infiltrated and are being used without shareholder permission to effectively promote homosexual sex acts; and of course the media are growing in their intolerance of anyone who gets in their way.
(This is a part of a bigger article which can be read HERE)
Contact federal politicians. Encourage them to defend the promised plebiscite. Marriage must be decided on by the people.
The same-sex proponents, those against preserving marriage as it has always been, are actively putting extreme and persistent pressure on Australian politicians to avoid a plebiscite and to take the democratic power out of the hands of the people.
They want a stacked, intimidated and pressured parliament to make the decision because they rightly fear that the Australian people will not be hoodwinked by this movement to normalize unnatural, unhealthy and risky homosexual sex acts and promote them to our nation's children. If the politicians cannot defend our children, insist that they allow the people to do so in a plebiscite.
Please make a stand today to preserve our democracy and the people's right to be heard on this major issue. Take the time now, and then on an ongoing regular basis, until this attack on marriage is dealt with by the people's vote, to email as many federal politicians as you can. Tell them you support them standing up for marriage and children and insist that they insist that the government maintain the promised plebiscite so the people can decide this important issue.
Please read the following alert from ACL and then act:
"The cost of the promised people’s vote on marriage is a reasonable price to pay to settle what has been a long running campaign by activists, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
“Given the relentlessness of those pushing for change, $160 million is a reasonable and necessary price to pay to settle the issue,” ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said.
“If marriage is changed there will be profound consequences for children required to miss out on their mother or father and millions of Australians will have to give up rights to freedom of speech, association and religion.
“And anyone who thinks that changing the definition of marriage will be the end of rainbow politics, they should think again.
“Next will be a push for commercial surrogacy and mandatory homosexual sex education in schools, something that is already creeping in through the so-called Safe Schools Coalition Australia.
“Ever since the peoples’ vote was announced, activists for redefining marriage have worked hard to take the say off the people.”
Mr Shelton said during the past 10 years there has been 16 failed attempts to legislate same-sex marriage in the federal parliament as well as numerous failed attempts at state level.
“While I respect people’s absolute right to argue for a cause in a democracy, it is now proper that the people resolve this issue given the enormous amount time parliaments have spent on it.\
“Activists have had 10 years of relentless but failed parliamentary manoeuvring and it is now right and proper that the matter be given to the people.
“I am aware of the extreme pressure many parliamentarians have been put under to change their mind on marriage.
“No one wants to be considered a bigot or homophobe but this is how people have been type-cast who support marriage and the rights of children to be loved by both their parents wherever possible.
“The pressure has been too much for many MPs, some of whom have capitulated in recent times.”
Mr Shelton said redefining marriage activists should stop undermining the plebiscite.
“They keep claiming overwhelming support yet don’t want to take the issue to the people. This doesn’t make sense.
“We need a free and fair debate so Australians can assess the claims of both sides and then make their decision in the privacy of the ballot box free from intimidation and pressure.”
How to talk to young people about the same-sex steam-roller as the debate continues to divide and confuse Australia.
Jesus Himself referred back to the beginning when talking about marriage; about God’s beautiful plan for men and women, for marriage, and for families. Sometimes, governments make bad laws and get things very wrong. But that is no reason to abandon the truth about marriage and family, it just means we need to understand it more and live it out in the midst of a hostile society as best we can. Remaining faithful to God is always the best thing for us to do and as happened with Daniel, this has earthly rewards as well as heavenly ones.
In the year ahead we will be bombarded with more of the same persistent arguments to change our marriage laws. Burying ones head in the sand and hoping this will go away is no longer an option for parents. If you are not talking to your children about this they will be doing so in their school playground or getting their answers from the media. It is better it comes from you than from the culture.
Marriage was founded by God as being for one man and one woman, Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve as the old joke goes. It is not something men have authority to change. The move to undermine marriage is another step in the attempt to normalize homosexual sex acts. God makes it clear that homosexual sex acts are abhorrent and damaging for people. His reaction to widespread homosexual behavior when it was rampant in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah should be enough to convince Christians that going down this path will have devastating consequences for our nation.
Christians are to show love to all people, including those trapped in sexual immorality such as homosexual situations. We are, like God does with His people when He saves them, to love the sinner but hate the sin. We show zero love to someone by encouraging them in their damaging behavior. This requires us to speak up and act to defend marriage and family this year but to try to make it clear that it is the homosexual sex acts we are against, not the people.
Normalizing unnatural and unhealthy homosexual sex acts in our society, with the mental, emotional and potentially physical damage this normalization process is doing to our nation's children, is a very clear form of child abuse. Children need protection from dangerous behavior not encouragement. Defending marriage and family therefore becomes one of defending and protecting children. So don't be intimidated, silenced or afraid to join in the defense of marriage and family in 2016, as it is a just and noble cause.
It has historically been a role of government to restrain such damaging behavior, but if our governments fail in their duty to protect children, family and our nation's moral foundations, then it is incumbent on the citizens of Australia to act.
So, speak to children about this, and engage all the politicians you can engage with, and do whatever else you can do in the coming year or so until the plebiscite puts an end to this distressing part of Australia's young and so far free history.
The following has been collated to be of some assistance in speaking to children:
Talking to children, teens and young adults about same-sex marriage.
From John Stonestreet
Younger Children: We don’t always get to choose what topics we talk about. Sometimes events force our hands - just like 9/11 forced discussions on things like terrorism and war. And now, (with this debate on same-sex "marriage") we find ourselves in the ongoing war of ideas. Which means that our kids are seeing and hearing things about same sex marriage and homosexuality. If not from us first, then they are in their schools, and certainly on TV. In other words, the culture is having the conversation with them. We need to as well, and we need to do it first. Silence is no longer an option.
One thing my wife I focused on with our younger kids is God’s design for marriage from the beginning. This is such an important topic. We need to help our children understand why God created families and marriage in the first place. And we need to be prepared when they start to notice the difference between boys and girls and start asking questions like “Where do babies come from?”
So when we talked with our kids Sunday night, we started with Matthew 19—when the Pharisees came to Jesus, and asked Him whether it were lawful for a man to divorce his wife. Jesus responded by pointing them back not to the Law, but to the creation—long before the Law was given. “Have you not read” He asked, “that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female” and “that for this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?”
So Jesus takes the Pharisees back to the book of Genesis. And that’s where we picked up the story from there, reminding our girls that God said it was not good for Adam to be alone, and that Adam needed a helper.
Animals were not a suitable helper, the text says. And actually, another man wouldn’t have been a suitable helper either, because what Adam needed help with had to do with having a family. And a family comes when moms and dads get married and get together, and so on.
So we discussed the brilliance of God’s plan for man and woman, the brilliance of His design for the family.
We talked about how in this fallen world, governments sometimes make bad decisions. We talked about the disastrous consequences of no-fault divorce laws.
Now, I didn’t want to downplay the fact that there are obviously significant differences of opinion on this. But I did want to reinforce what Nancy Pearcey calls our kids’ “bologna detectors.”
Our children naturally understand the importance of family. Of moms and dads. It’s built into them. The only way they stop believing in the family is if they have had a traumatic experience, or if they are talked out of it—which is exactly what our culture is doing.
Teens and Young Adults: It’s more difficult because young adults today are much more likely than us older folks to support same-sex marriage, or to be confused by it. But "more difficult" is not the same as impossible—that’s because, no matter what the media is telling you, intelligent thoughtful young people are still much less likely to support same-sex marriage when they are offered all the facts.
I think a great starting point for young adults is exactly what Jesus did with the Pharisees who questioned Him about marriage and divorce, we should refer our young adults back to the Garden of Eden, to God’s created intent. Marriage is not something that human beings invented—so it is not an institution that we are free to re-invent. As Christians, we believe marriage was given to us by God for the benefit of man (that is, Adam) and woman (Eve). That plan is written into the moral fabric of the universe, which is why marriage between man and woman is known in every human society throughout history. That is certainly what Jesus Himself thought. And as followers of Christ, we have to care about what He said about marriage, not what the culture says.
Now, don’t be surprised if your teen or young adult then asks, “Well, how is it right for heterosexuals to be married, but not for those who are same-sex attracted? What about their rights?”
And here is where we have to help them understand the source of human rights. As atheist Friedrich Nietzsche and the postmodern philosopher Richard Rorty admitted, we owe the concept of human rights to Christianity. It was Christianity that taught the world that every human being is made in the image of God and that, therefore, humans have innate dignity and certain rights just because they are human. Therefore, governments do not create or grant human rights. God does. Government can at most recognize those rights, and of course, should defend them. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote about this brilliantly in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
So we can make this point: It’s inconsistent to say, well, we want to give same-sex couples the “right to marriage,” but we don’t care about what the God who made those rights says about marriage.
Another problem you may encounter with teens or young adults is that they are very good at repeating the slogans and hashtags they see every day. When they tell you that holding to traditional marriage is discrimination, take a lesson from Jesus. Respond with a question. You might ask, “What do you mean by discrimination?” Help them go deeper. If they’re convinced that “love is love” and that “love won” thanks to the Supreme Court, ask them what they mean by love. Is it possible that some kinds of “love” should be excluded from marriage? Should a brother and sister or a group of people be able to marry? In other words, do we just green light incest and polyamory?
Yes, these kinds of discussions are really uncomfortable, but our kids are already having them. It’s time we joined in.
3 Ways Parents Can Respond
From Megan Briggs
Things are getting confusing. Here are 3 ways parents can respond and help their children navigate this confusing time.
1. Talk to your kids about homosexuality. If you haven’t explained homosexuality (and the health dangers of it) to your children and they are at an age where they are starting to key into all the hype in the media (and possibly among their peer groups), now is the time. (We warn children about the dangers of smoking, likewise we should warn them about the dangers of homosexual sex acts) This is your opportunity to communicate what God’s word says about homosexuality. Our kids need to hear the truth from God’s word about this lifestyle. Some key verses to start with include Leviticus 18:22, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28. Another point you might consider making with your children is that governments and rulers don’t always make the right choices. Finally, tell your children the truth about the differences between men and women and why God designed a family to be a man, a woman, and children. It helps children to know this truth from a young age given all the press in our media trying to convince them of the virtues of alternative lifestyles.
2. Show your children how to show the love of Christ to gay people (by praying for them and reinforcing that it is the behavior God hates not necessarily the people.) We should take a lot of comfort in the fact that it’s not our job to judge people. We need to approach friendships carefully (whether they be with homosexuals or heterosexuals) and who we allow to spend time (especially time alone) with our kids. But please don’t let fear steal a chance to show a homosexual Christ’s love. The truth is, homosexuals are hurting people who need the truth of the Gospel. They are living a lifestyle of sexual immorality – the consequences of which are devastating. At the same time, I know many heterosexual Christians who are living in a similar state of sexual immorality. And as the church we embrace them.
3. Don’t be intimidated. Like I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of emotional hype in the media right now concerning this. Don’t let it take you for a ride. Keep calm and parent on. The truth is, God is on His throne and He still calls the shots. A couple months ago I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Michael Brown speak in Singapore. He had a great insight about the LGBT agenda in the U.S. As a way of paraphrase, he said we shouldn’t fear the separation that will come between the people who interpret the scripture (about homosexuality) through the lens of culture and those who will follow God’s word in spirit and in truth. There is some separation happening in the church right now. Which side do you want your family to end up on? Help your children to know the truth of God’s word and what He has to say about homosexuality. Let them know the truth and let the truth set them free from all the confusion encapsulating this issue.
To quote Rick Warren, “truth, is still truth, no matter how many people doubt it. I may deny the law of gravity, but it doesn’t change gravity. And just because we break God’s laws, does not invalidate them.” Don’t be afraid to share the truth with your kids. Kingdoms will fall and rulings will be forgotten, but the word of God will stand.
One final thought: be prayerful as you address this issue with your children. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and answers. Ask Him how your family should respond to this.
Below are some articles and books which may be helpful in discussing the issue of homosexuality in light of our current culture. I hope you find them helpful and some further resources and a brief video series on marriage, gender, sexuality and the Bible which tackles a lot of the questions young people come up with—and I think it will help you discuss these matters with your children.
Resources Gender, Marriage, and the Bible: Understanding God's Plan
John Stonestreet | Axis | July 2015
Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage by Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet
God’s Design for Sex Series by Stan and Brenna Jones (Book 3 – What’s the Big Deal – has a chapter specifically about homosexuality)
Focus on the Family’s How to Talk to Your Kids about Homosexuality
Interview with John Stonestreet webinar by Generations of Virtue
Short video with Dr. Michael Brown explaining the context of the Levitical scriptures
– Megan Briggs
The above has been extracted from two sources as follows:
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