Opinion

It is not ‘character assassination’ for the church to be the church

Author and TV personality Jen Hatmaker. Screenshot from YouTube

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (RNS) Columnist Jonathan Merritt is excoriating Christians who have distanced themselves from Jen Hatmaker, the evangelical author and TV personality.

“Hatmaker’s original sin is that she broke ranks with the evangelical powers-that-be on same-sex relationships,” Merritt wrote, describing an interview he did with her last Ocober. “Hatmaker did not deny a line in the Apostles Creed. She did not promote a historical heresy. She merely claimed that after a careful study of the scriptures, she had arrived at a different understanding of same-sex relationships.”


RELATED: Why I’ll take courageous Jen Hatmaker over her cowardly critics any day


Merritt says Hatmaker has not only been “blacklisted” by conservative Christians but that her detractors have engaged in “the nastiest character assassination.” In sum, Merritt believes Hatmaker’s views should be treated as within the bounds of Christian orthodoxy and that evangelical churches and ministries are mistreating her by excluding her because of her views on sexuality.

There are more problems in Merritt’s article than I can address in a single essay, but it is worth pointing out some of the more significant mischaracterizations. The entire 2,000-year history of the Christian church has spoken univocally about homosexuality. Faithful Christians have always believed what the scriptures teach about this. Homosexuality is sexual immorality and is therefore sinful (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:10). Bible-believing Christians understand that this is an unpopular point of view today, but it is nevertheless what the church has always believed and confessed.

St. John’s Evangelical Church in Washington County, Ohio, was built in 1880. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

No doubt there are many voices within the North American evangelical movement that are turning away from what the church has always believed and confessed. Hatmaker is now among them. They are trying to tell people that sexual immorality is compatible with following Jesus. And they are asking the rest of the church to accept their point of view as within the orthodox stream.

The problem is that their teaching never has been, is not and never will be within the orthodox stream. It will always be a mark of those who have fallen away from the faith. Theirs is an ancient error — one that can be found within the pages of the New Testament itself:

“Contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4)

What is this departure from “the faith once for all delivered to the saints”? What is this teaching that amounts to a denial of “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” and that puts adherents under “condemnation”? It is the teaching that distorts the grace of God into a permission slip for sexual immorality. It is the errant notion that somehow God is OK with sexual immorality after all.

“Together 2016,” an evangelical Christian prayer rally

“Together 2016,” an evangelical Christian prayer rally, attracted throngs of people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on July 16, 2016. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

But he’s not OK with it. And neither are his people, the church. Faithful Christians are never going to accept this teaching. The true church is never going to embrace this. It may look otherwise to those who are focused on Christian organizations in the secular West. But this is not an accurate picture of the church worldwide, which is overwhelmingly with the orthodox on this question. And if we give attention to what G.K. Chesterton called the “democracy of the dead” — the faith of the church throughout the ages — it becomes very clear that American revisionists are a tiny schismatic minority. Just an ounce of historical and global perspective puts the lie to the notion that the revisionists are winning the day on this. They are not.

That is why faithful Christian ministries and churches are not going to give their platforms to teachers who have stepped outside of the healing stream of Christian truth. The spirit of Christ commands his bride to stand apart from those who are leading people astray:

“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11)

The word translated as “division” is the Greek word hairetikos, which is the basis for our English word heresy. It is clear that the divisive person in this scenario is the false teacher, not the church that is standing apart from him in faithfulness to Christ. The church is supposed to be calling people to Christ, and she dare not platform those who are leading people away from Christ.

Writer Jonathan Merritt. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Merritt

Merritt writes as if there is an underlying groundswell of evangelical support for this false teaching. He even claims that there are many well-known pastors and leaders who privately believe that homosexual immorality is compatible with following Christ. But, Merritt says, these leaders dare not say so publicly because they don’t want to lose their ministry platforms. I don’t have any way to verify this claim. But even if it were true, Merritt misconstrues the meaning of the presence of such hucksters. Their subterfuge is not evidence of where the church is going but of what the church will be casting off when their deception becomes known.

I was grieved by what I read in Merritt’s column last night. It represents a sad celebration of serious error that is completely incompatible with the Christian faith. The good news is that the New Testament does offer hope that false teachers might recognize their error and come back from the brink. Paul himself holds out some hope for his opponents:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25)

This is my prayer. It really is. I am hoping against hope that those who have embraced this error might come back from the brink. So much is at stake. Everything that matters is at stake. Our arms are open. Come back. Please come back.

(Denny Burk is professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He also serves as an associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church and as president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)

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Denny Burk

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  • Denny burk. Of course.

    “The entire 2,000-year history of the Christian church has spoken univocally about homosexuality.”

    Well, let’s see. The actual figure is closer to 1900 years. And for the last 50 years, more and more christian voices are challenging that. So, you are wrong on two counts, Mr. Burk. I could provide a very long list of the ministers, churches, and entire denominations throughout the Christian world that have changed radically on this issue,

    But let’s do a comparison. For about 1900 years, the entire history of the Christian church spoke unequivocally about the perfidy of the Jews. It began in acts, continued On in the gospel of John, when the Jews were on the losing side of the Jewish heresy that became Christianity. It was going strong for Nearly 1500 years until the ever-charming Mr. Luther made sure it was cemented into Protestant theology. We then got another 400 years of it until Christian Germany and Christian Europe began an even more systematic, Final Solution to the Jewish “problem.” In 1977, F. Bailey smith, president of the southern baptist convention, declared unequivocally that “GAWD almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” The spelling is just me being southern.

    And the KKKristian Klan alt-right supporters of President Grabby are happy to continue that proud tradition. But out-right Jew hatred is generally considered by decent people to be very déclassé, so it rarely slithers out into the open in the civilized world anymore.

    It would help, Mr. burk, if you read a book some time.

  • This public and heated in-fighting over homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the role of women is wonderful! Fewer people are wanting to put up with these archaic and hateful beliefs.

  • Go for it pastor !! You are going to kill off this fundagelical beast…

    Those of us who want to see the nonsensical teachings of Evangelicals and other conservative Christians laughed off the map and forced into backwards Amish-like enclaves of hatred…We really do appreciate Denny Burk’s thinking very much. He’s leading the rubes back to dark ages. We should be thanking him!

    Until the rapture Denny…keep reading up on that Leviticus…watch out for homosexuals behind every tree! And please, take the conservative Catholics with you !!

  • Well, on a positive note, you finally referred to Mr. Grabby without specifying the exact target of your adjective. A most welcome linguistic miracle, by any measure!!

  • Sorry Damien, I was trying to think of a brief light-hearted banter like I threw at Ben there, but I couldn’t find anything left in the pantry. So please accept a rain-check for now.

    As for Burk’s article, I’ll wait a little while longer, and then start posting. But I hope Jonathan Merritt reads it now — it’s badly needed these days.

  • So hatemonger Denny Burk does exactly what Jonathan Merritt was describing about critics of Jen Hatmaker. Proving Mr. Merritt’s point.

    Burk is so beholden to bigotry that he denies Ms Hatmaker is even Christian. He argues for malice and discrimination against gays as a proud Christian tradition. This is not polite disagreement. It’s outright hostility and spite towards her.

  • Oh right.

    “It’s not really me. The Bible compels me to act like a malicious (insert favorite expletive here)”

  • IMHO, I support people, all people to have the ability/right to employment, shelter, food, safety, healthcare, legal acknowledgement, that any other person has in this country. Discrimination does nothing to solve perceived “problems” that others believe they can stop. However, secular society as well as religion have no power to change what is deemed to be sinful. Man did not determine what is sinful and what is not, because sin by definition is what is offensive to God, not Man.

    I believe that my catholic faith calls me to treat everyone with respect, kindness, love, and come to the assistance of anyone who is in need. To ostracize, marginalize, people due to their current state of sin is one that no one has the ability to determine, and is not our place to exact a punishment when that is God’s alone to decide. Our job is to pray that all sinners come to the realization that they must actively no longer want to sin and embrace the ways of God. We all fail miserably, but that is why God always gives us another chance.

  • “This is my prayer. It really is. I am hoping against hope that those who
    have embraced this error might come back from the brink. So much is at
    stake. Everything that matters is at stake. Our arms are open. Come
    back. Please come back.” Nah. No thanks.

  • Shorter Denny Burk: Jen Hatmaker, Jonathan Merritt, and anyone else who doesn’t agree that gays are damned to hell are themselves damned to hell.

  • Let’s make it simpler:
    Hatmaker & Merritt just need to read Burk’s article. And then come clean on the biblical information he’s presenting.

    Nobody’s stressing out over Hell at this time. But Christians really DO need Hatmaker & Merritt to cut out the anti-biblical cr*p right now…

    …and help multitudes of straight and gay people to see that a world full of hurts, scars, temptations, sins and “issues”, even SSA temptations and gay slavery, are no match for the saving, healing, cleansing, comforting, and deliverance power of Jesus.

  • > “…deliverance power of Jesus” ?

    Well, Jesus seems to have taken some time off…All these evangelicals down with the LGBT and dissin’ the Bible…. Hatmaker, Merritt, RH Evans, and heck, in DC, Calvary Baptist has Lesbian pastors married to each other!…Preaching Sunday morning after doing who knows what Saturday night before.

    But you, Denny Burk and Franklin Graham and Sandi are still manning the walls of Jericho, making inerrancy’s last stand…right Floyd? Keeping the gates of Hell open until Jesus ups his game?

  • D.B. “Paul himself holds out some hope for his openers.”

    ‘And the Lords servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of truth’ (2 Tim. 2:24-25)

    “This is my prayer. It really is.

    Really? Because the verse before says:

    (2 Tim. 2:23) ‘Don’t have anything to do with stupid and foolish arguements, because, you know they produce quarrels.’

    And Denny Burks opinion of the arguement/article is.

    D.B. “There are more problems in Merritt’s article than I can address in single essay, but it is worth pointing out some of the more significant mischaracterizations.”
    In light of 2 Timothy 2:23 how does someone say this then pray that? Why not just be truthful about how you feel and say Merrit’s article is stupid and foolish.

    2 Timothy 2:23 reveals your words.
    D.B. “I am hoping against hope that those who have embraced this error might come back from the brink.”
    Isn’t it an error to have something to do with stupid and foolish articles/arguements?

    D.B. “So much is at stake. Everthing[?] that matters is at stake.”

    D.B. “Our arms are open. Come back. Please come back.”

    I would not believe you.

  • D.B. “The spirit of Christ commands his bride to stand apart from those who are leading people astray:”

    ‘As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned’ (Titus 3:10-11)

    But the verse before says:

    (Titus 3:9) ‘But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguements and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.’

    And Denny Burk said:

    D.B. “And if we give attention to what G.K. Chesterton called ‘democracy of the dead’-the faith of the church throughout the ages-it becomes very clear that American revisionist are a tiny schismatic minority. Just an ounce of historical and global perspective puts the lie to the notion that the revisionists are winning the day on this. They are not.”

    But Chesterton actually said:

    G.K. Chesterton-The quote actually reads:
    “Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, OUR ANCESTORS. It is the democracy of the dead.

    Titus 3:9 to preface Titus 3:10-11 with Chesterton quoted fully and correctly. Titus says don’t make these kinds of arguements.

    D.B. “There are more problems in Merrit’s article than I can address in a single essay, but it is worth pointing out some of the more significant mischaracterizations”
    WOW, just wow.

  • Yes Damien, the “deliverance power of Jesus.” Right there in 1 Cor 6:9-11. Some of the Corinthians in that text, were flat-out, practicing homosexuals.

    But NOT after Jesus got done with ’em. And it didn’t take a million years, either. Homosexual no more. Astonishing, impossible, overwhelming power.

    “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (6:11)

    And me? I’ve seen 6:11 happen. No joke. Seeing that thing happen to a man, altered my own life permanently. “An explosive blast of power”, the man called it. He said the blast “somehow neutralized” all his SSA and all his previous gay experiences. The “feelings” simply were not there, he said.

    Now I understand that everybody’s different, we all got stuff Christ needs to unpack, remove and heal up, and it can be a process that takes time. That’s okay, no problem. But Damien, trust me, Jesus absolutely AIN’T on vacation.

  • It seems contradictory to me for non-affirming Christians to claim their views about LGBTQ people are the ones who are being held by the majority of the church around the world while at the same time claim they’re being horribly persecuted for holding to that view. There was also once a time where most Christians supported slavery and believed the bible sanctioned it. But most Christians nowadays would hopefully condemn slavery and agree that Christians should not practice it. Yet no one today would argue that it is against Christian teachings to preach against slavery even though there are many passages in the bible that were used to support slavery. Whether Christians believe homosexuality is a sin or not, using the argument that “the church has always believed this, therefore we are justified in treating LGBTQ people horribly” is a terrible argument. I also find the author’s supposed sadness to be totally fake and I doubt they really care one about LGBTQ people and their allies.

  • Mr. Burk seriously underestimates the value of Hatmaker. Thanks to her, and apostates like her, the rest of us can be “holier than’. And ‘holier than’ is what makes life worth living.

  • True Jim. One day we will return to helping homosexuals to go to Heaven….women will once again be secure in their roles of women, and they won’t want to be men, and s/s marriage will just be one of those errors some made and repented of.

  • Unless a 40-year trend reverses itself, those churches that hold hardcore fundamentalist beliefs will see their membership continue to drop and their churches divide.

  • Exactly as scripture foretold. It isn’t a punishment for standing up for Jesus, Jim.

  • It is real easy to take scripture pretty literally when we make a point about someone else. A very literal interpretation of the verse that precedes the verses given contradicts the need to make the arguments.
    People like Jen Hatmaker are faithful to follow God like a modern day Abraham. Other people are faithful to doubt the faith of the Jen Hatmakers of this day.

  • Ah — the 40-year “trend.” Surely that will stand against 4,000 years of biblical revelation on homosexuality.

  • LOL! You nailed it.

    How many HUNDREDS of years did Israel indulge in Ba’al worship on the hills overlooking the Temple? Hmmmm…

  • As long as it is senseless not to.
    You know Ben, if this God I claim is real, and his spirit is real, then with that kind of help you should be able to read people as well as His word.

    “So much is at stake. Everything that matters is at stake. Our arms are open. Come back. Please come back”
    Be carefull, I puked a little bit right there while I typed that.

  • I think it interesting that aparently Hatmaker’s interpretation of Scripture was orthodox on this point until the issue entered her home. When confronted with what she believed to be clear teaching opposed to a loved one’s chosen lifestyle, she chose to modify what she believes rather than stand firm.

    This process is fine to a point, however in this particular case she could not have used a sound hermeneutic to end where she did. To me at least it seems her change of heart is purly self serving as she has a lot of emotional baggage invested. I have seen this time and time again when someone is confronted with a loved one in sexual immorality; they, under the banner of love, say nothing or seek justification for it. So in her case it seems her reality (ever changing) was used to judge Scripture rather than the Scripture (never changing) being used to judge her reality.

  • From the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with homosexuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”

    “Most scientists who study human sexuality agree that gay people are born that way. But that consensus raises an evolutionary puzzle: How do genes associated with homosexuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”
    http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/Gay-gene-deconstructed.html

    And if gay people are born gay, Christians, Jews and Muslims must by faith believe their God created them gay in his image and likeness. So indeed, where is the rub??

  • There is no god so your point is moot.

    Regarding your Catholic faith, an update of your Apostles’ Creed::

    The Apostles’ Creed 2017: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus’ story was embellished and “mythicized” by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

  • Thanks for those good words. It means something to me.

    What burk meant is obvious, at least to me.

    1) his antigay base of support is shrinking, much as the racist base did two generations ago for the Jim Crow lovers. I think that is frightening to him– that people he knows, likes, and respects are rethinking their positions.

    2) he is staking everything on being anti-gay as being a central point of his type of Christianity, as so many seem to. If they are wrong about this– and they are– what else can they be wrong about. By defining Christianity so narrowly, he is taking the chance that that will be how Christianity is defined.

    This then becomes The real issue. If the religious antigay industry left it at “we believe homosexuality is a sin” they wouldn’t find so much opposition. But then, there would be any power or money in it. When they link the sin issue to overt discrimination and oppression, decent people don’t necessarily go along with it.

  • You know Burk makes a reference to the book of Jude to describe people like Merrit and Hatmaker. For the people who are interested they should read the book of Jude, only one chapter, about a page and a half. If a guy like Denny Burk is going to equate someone to the people in verse 4 you can’t just stop there you need to accuse them of the rest of the book. Jude is not talking about characteristics, he’s talking about specific people. There is a reference to Sodom and Gomorrah and the people described are said to pollute their bodies in the same way. Ben you have said you were in law enforcement, I have a close friend in law enforcement who works undercover in the sex trade. He knows the human trafficking business, he knows it too well. There is sex for sale out there, any kind of sex with anyone, any age. Every major city in the US probably has a Sodom and Gomorrah within it. That, is what Burk is actually accusing Jen Hatmaker and Jonathon Merrit of supporting. Not just supporting, but engaging in as either a trafficker or a consumer. The Denny Burks of the world may never come out of their ivory towers and pull their heads out of their ivory asses, but If Christianity is going to impact the real world it will have to stop listening to their echos. Nothing but hot air. Big winds.
    Is homosexuality a sin? I don’t know. If it is it ain’t my struggle, I’ve got my own bag of dirty laundry. Is a Jen Hatmaker a Sodom and Gomorrah supporter? Jonathan Merrit? Ben in Oakland? By proxy Denny Burk says they are.
    Is Denny Burk a supporter of Sodom and Gomorrah? I say he is by proxy. By accusing others, and by doing so drawing attention away from what the reality of a six, seven, eight year old virgin girl getting raped by an older man for profit, or a young boy being sodomised. Dealing with these things, taking on these kinds of people, that ain’t Denny Burk’s idea of “contending for the faith”. Too much at stake there Denny to deal with that issue? What with EVERYTHING at stake who has time! There is not enough time in the day to write all the essays needed to correct the foulness of the Hatmakers and the Merrit’s.

    “They are godless men who change the grace of our God into a liscense for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude :4b)

    I wish Jen Hatmaker would whip Denny Burks ass. Now that, I would consider contending for the faith!
    Sorry for the essay.
    Sorry for the rant.
    Sorry to anyone making an honest living in a white tower.

  • Wow!!!! And by Wow!!!! I mean the highest possible praise I can give you.

    I think you have it exactly right. Burk is saying that if “if you’re not my type of Christian, especially around my sexual obsessions, then there is no limit to your evil and what you will do.” Motes, meet a forest of logs. Slander and reviling will also win a place for one on the eternal Barbie, but that simply doesn’t occur to them, because they are on the warpath about other people’s sins.

    It’s very much like when anti-marriage Christianssay that if gay people are allowed to marry, then “we” “have to” allow father daughter marriage, woman pig marriage, polygamy, child marriage– multiple quotes intentional. We, of course, being the apparently immoral, thoughtless heterosexual majority. No, “we” don’t have to do anything of the sort, because “we” have a moral sense, and “we” do not engage in sin-leveling, which is an abandonment of any moral sense whatsoever. Personally, what I see is a great deal of projection of their own dark hearts on to other people. As for sin leveling? “We’re all sinners” is a way of lowering one’s own sins down to the level of others’, not of raising theirs to be equivalent to ours.

    You have to wonder about people who are perfectly happy to blame gay men for our child molestation problem, because it fits their narrative, but refuse to see the obvious– fully half the time, according to just about every reputable source, the molestation Occurs within the Holy Heterosexual Family, not by strange gay men. (I knew man who had been repeated raped by his thoroughly hetero father who wanted to show his sissy son what happens to ‘f*gs’.) Just like those who wish to blame the Roman problem on homosexual priests, pointing out that the majority of children molested are boys. And yet, in their very next sentence, will admit that most parents would not leave their girl children in the care of ANY unsupervised man, priest or not. THe issue is access– well, that, and the sheer number of men who flee to the priesthood to escape their sexuality. Are there some men who might be described as gay, but who like underage boys? absolutely, but I have met only THREE– two in jail!– such in my life, and I have met an awful lot of gay men.

    And what does all of this accomplish? Innocent people are blamed for the sins of others, while the real perps escape scot-free. And nothing is done about the real problem. ALL so that the antigays can get on their favorite bandwagon. children continue to be molested. And the enabling church leaders do what they have done for 1000 years– project, deflect, and enable.

    What Burk and his ilk are incapable of are many things: seeing gay people as people.distinguishing between people who harm people from people who don’t harm people. They will always take the wide gate and the high road: caring about sex trafficking is difficult, and brings little in the way of power, money, and dominion. Attacking gay people is easy– or it used to be. But seeing their own sins– not so easy, or least, seeeing the easy ones is still easy.

    Thanks for writing.

  • Why did you puke a lititle bit? I don’t see anything in Burk’s heartfelt plea that would make a rational person puke.

  • Oh wait a minute. I read your rant further down. I get it now.

    Your friend is to be commended for the hard and life-risking work he is doing, and you are to be equally commended for sharing his painful burden to see the enslaved and abused children/adults rescued from the demonic pimps and slavers. No joke on that.

    Other than that, I don’t see anybody — repeat, anybody — taking the time to refute the specific biblical explanations that Denny Burk is offering here.

    And accusing Burk of being in any ivory tower, without offering the slightest “facts, logic, and evidence” (Ben’s favorite phrase) to back it up, does NOT make any sense.

  • You’re atheist? You pretty much summarized half of the second chapter of Romans.
    Burk trots out, among other verses, Romans 1:26-27. If you want the full gist I would say start reading at verse 24. Burk probably wants his “Bible believing” buddies to stop reading at verse 27 though. Because verse 28 says that if the things he is saying are true of Merritt Hatmaker and company then the next list is true also. It’s a long list. So this is Paul talking about the same people Burk says he talking about:
    These people are:1. Filled with all unrighteousness 2.filled with sexual immorality 3.filled with wickedness 4.filled with covetousness 5.filled with maliciousness 6.full of envy 7.full of murder 8.full of strive 9.full of deceit 10.full of evil mindedness 11.they are whispers 12.they are backbiters 13.they are haters of God 14.they are violent 15.they are proud 16.they are boasters 17.they are inventors of evil things 18.they are disobedient to parents 19.they are undiscerning 20.they are untrustworthy 21.they are unloving 22.they are unforgiving 23.they are unmerciful.
    They are people who, knowing the righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do they do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
    (Romans 1:29-32)
    So if I’m “Bible believing” like Burk and buddies I say, let’s not sugar coat what we believe about Hatmaker, Merrit, Ben in Oakland, ect.

    I’m Bible believing, but mine has verses before, after, and in between the ones we quote and believe about others. So Burk says what he says about Hatmaker Merrit and anyone else who might want to disagree with him. Here is what Paul says about Denny Burk in the next verse-for those who are faithful, Bible believers.

    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)

    People who say ‘love the sinner hate the sin,’ they tend to focus on the sins they hate. The sins we hate aren’t the ones we usually have. The sins we love are the sins we usually have but don’t focus on. That is pretty much what you’re saying, and I agree. I believe that old, ancient, homosexual hating Paul would agree with you also. If Paul could write about the phrase love the sinner hate the sin today, I think he would say don’t. Instead love the sinner, hate the sins you love in you’re own life. And this is just me, but I would add-if we did THAT, more often when our judgement of other people came back to bite us in the ass we would not end up with such massive neck wounds.

  • I’m not attempting to refute the verses that Denny Burk uses, firstly the ones from 1 Timothy and Titus. My question is if the verses he quotes are true of the people he speaks of, how in each case. Is the preceding verse not applicable to him?
    Paul tells Timothy not to get involved in, foolish and stupid arguments, good advice I say. If you’re going to live that verse out in your life don’t respond to what you describe as an article full of “more problems than you can address in a single essay.” Ben if it is really that bad why in the world would you use the next two verses that followed the verse giving you instructions not to argue with articles that are poorly reasoned?

    Ivory tower, the man’s bio says he is professor of biblical studies. He throws a few comments out there in an essay, throws a few verses out there to go along with them, puts his phd stamp on it and expects everyone to take it as gospel. I’m wondering if he even read the verses he quoted? I expect more out of some one like that. I made a career out of fixing flat tires, when you pull a nail out of a tire you at least spit on the hole before you assume you found the problem. Would you not agree?

  • How come no one in Exodus International has been found to have changed in their feelings? Alan Chambers said he didn’t. YES, people can “leave the lifestyle,” but that doesn’t mean people aren’t basically attracted to the same gender still. Even some gay men can marry and have children. But usually they will have to think about men in order to do that.

  • This is what I hear you saying. Love the sinner, hate the sin ain’t happened much in the circles you’re in. You’re probably right too often, and that is my complaint about too many of us outside those other circles.
    Love the sinner can become love the sinner who loves to hate the same sins as me, too often does. As Christians we have to unlearn the love the sinner who loves to hate the same sins as me dance. I don’t think we begin to do that until we start to hate the sins we love in our own lives first.
    I think that is good advice, for me first, for you second, and anybody else third. I think that is good advice for anyone no matter what other differences they might have. Me, or anybody else should be getting any medals for saying ‘there are some things I got wrong about you, so wrong in fact I saw nothing of value in you.’ And the person who says “you shouldn’t say those kinds of things, ‘get me your Bible I’ll show you why,” we need to look at the detail in those broad strokes. Let’s see if the opinion can stand the scrutiny of all the words of all the verses that make up the paragraphs we get some of our reasoning from.
    Thanks for the thanks, but you really should not have had to say it.

  • I just figured out some arguments against this. I would go by the Bible OVER tradition. The Bible is NOT univocal AT ALL that all sex must be confined to a “one man, one woman” marriage. NO where in the Old Testament does it say that it was a sin for a man to have sex with any unmarried woman. It was a sin for him if the woman was married (Leviticus 20:10). There was not any punishment on an unbetrothed, unmarried woman who had sex with a man (Exodus 22:15). Even in the New Testament, Rahab the Harlot was commended for her faith in Hebrews 11:31 and was considered justified AS a harlot in James 2:25. The Bible never talks about Lesbianism. Perhaps Romans 1:26 does, BUT it doesn’t have to mean that, because it doesn’t say that they had unnatural relations *with other women.* There were even some Church Fathers who understood this in a different way from Lesbianism. I would read what it says about male homosexual acts (Leviticus 20:13 and 18:22) as only about anal sex, not other forms- most Jewish authorities WILL tell you this. The word αρσενοκοιταις or arsenokoitis in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 literally means coitus between males, which would mean only anal sex, and since it was between males, it would preclude Lesbians. Using this word is an additional argument against Romans 1:26 as meaning Lesbianism. There is absolutely no word that means Lesbian used in either Testament. This word also does NOT mean same sex attraction, so there is also no word that means a homosexually oriented man. Arsenokoitus only refers to acts. And, it seems, judging by the context that Paul only would condemn it when it was compounded by other sins, such as idol worship. We know that heterosexual marriage IS condemned when combined with idol worship as well (Deuteronomy 13:6-9 and 1 Kings 16:31) Burk uses Jude 4 as an argument against homosexuality. Jude 4 says that they turn the grace or χαριτα (charita) into ασελγεια (aselgeia). Aselgeia means “unbridled lust.” It also means “excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness and insolence.” It would be passions run amuck. It doesn’t mean all passions are bad, but when there is no restraint placed on them at all, then they can be destructive. For instance we need an appetite to eat. We need to eat to live, but we shouldn’t live to eat and become grossly obese. Is aselgeia a sin that is completely unique to gay people? A lot of gay people are arguing for responsible relationships where lust is not unbridled. And also, I think the two schools of thought the New Testament opposes are the “Judaizers” and the “Libertines.” The Judaizers, which Paul opposed in Galatians were the persons who insisted that Christians had to keep ALL of the Law of Moses in order to be saved. Many anti gay activists DO sound a bit like the Judaizers. At the opposite pole were the “libertines” described in Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:1-2 who believed that Christians could just act without applying any restraint at all to their passions and that they could do anything they felt like doing. Most LGBT activists are NOT arguing that there should be no restraints or limits on sexual behavior. Of course we oppose sex with children and rape. It is also much better to be in a committed relationship and really get to know our partner and not have wild anonymous sex as well as being committed to our partner through sickness and death.

  • Great comment. If there is going to be a public social conversation on sexual immorality and it starts with orientation that will be a short conversation. If the conversation starts at a place where there is a consensus about what would not be considered moral concerning sex, the conversation can move into the areas you are mentioning. Most LGBT activists may be making the arguments you are talking about but the one that is being heard is the defense of orientation. I think at this time people are ready to listen to LGBT activist, many of those people are not ready to agree about orientation though. As long as that is the case the conversation stays at the beginning, the orientation stage. If activist reframe the conversation and talk about things that no one will want to argue against they can take the conversation to the places where their best message is.

  • Yes, please provide references. And please respond to these questions:

    Imagine a pie infographic; the pie represents all of the knowledge in the universe; divide it into slices according to the following questions:

    1. How much of that knowledge is apprehended by our current science community? [Answer – _____ %]

    2. How much of that knowledge do you actually comprehend?
    [Answer – _____%]

  • Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord

    Stand in the ways and see,
    and ask for the old paths
    where the good way is and walk in it,
    and you shall find rest for your souls.
    But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
    17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying,
    “Listen to the sound of the trumpet.”
    But they said, “We will not listen.”
    18 Therefore hear, O nations,
    and know, O congregation,
    what is among them.
    19 Hear, O earth.
    I will bring calamity on this people,
    even the fruit of their thoughts,
    because they have not listened to My words,
    nor to My law, but rejected it.

  • 1. 90% – dark energy and dark matter still being major unknowns along with a unifying equation in Physics.

    2. 100%, keep in mind I have a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and an M.S and PhD in Polymer Science plus access to high speed internet i.e. rapid reviews of all that is scientific to include on-line courses in astro-physics and computer programming et. al.

    I assume you are trying to compare science to faith. Not much faith required these days just ask Watson and other forms of artificial intelligence. I assume IBM has asked Watson if there is a god. Might want to ask them about that.

    And keep in mind the following:

    Your Heaven is a Spirit State as per Aquinas and JPII i.e. no bodies to include glorified bodies allowed.

    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Physical Resurrection, Ascension and Assumption therefore did not take place. (This is also taught in graduate theology classes at many major Catholic e.g. Catholic U, Notre Dame)

    A good read although somewhat outdated:

    A Short History of Nearly Everything, Paperback – September 14, 2004

    by

    Bill Bryson

  • Fornification and sex/marriage between one man and one woman-1 Corinthians 7:2-3

    2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband

    a few verses down he says

    To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single, as I am. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion

    same sex attraction:
    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were CONSUMED WITH PASSION FOR ONE ANOTHER(same sex attraction), men committing shameless acts (homosexual acts) with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    To sum up:

    Homosexual Acts are sins, Homosexual attraction is a sin. Marriage is between a man and woman only. If a man or woman is consumed with passion they should marry rather than commit fornification.

    Also Romans 1 is clearly talking about lesbian sexual relations and male homosexual relations.

    For their WOMEN EXCHANGED NATURAL RELATIONS FOR THOSE CONTRARY TO NATURE; 27 AND THE MEN LIKEWISE GAVE UP NATURAL RELATIONS WITH WOMAN and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
    Rahab is mentioned because of her faith, it does not say she continued as a prostitute after she was justified

  • What about people who chose to identify as transgender? Are they born that way?…….Anyways, whether someone is born with that inclination or not is insignificant. We are all sinful from the womb since the fall of Adam (God made man good but that was defiled when the first man sinned). That’s why there is death in the world and people are born with many problems and sinful inclinations.

  • Well, it isn’t perfectly clear in 1 Corinthians 7:2 that πορνεια (porneia) means ALL sex outside of marriage. For instance, right before this, 1 Corinthians 6:18 states that πορνεια means being joined to a prostitute. This could be figurative for idol worship or anything that breaks people down in community. And Paul there doesn’t state that the highest norm is marriage, but being joined or cleave to the Lord in the Spirit- verse 17. Lord means both Christ and the community. Whatever builds up community in the Lord is the norm. Heterosexual marriage does NOT necessarily build up community and that is one reason Paul is so lukewarm about heterosexual marriage in 1 Corinthians 7. Clearly “Cleaving to the Lord” is far more important than heterosexual marriage. Πορνεια is also a term for idol worship as well, such as in Revelation 14:8. AND, even if 1 Corinthians 7:2 does means all sex outside of marriage is wrong, it would clearly NOT be a consistent teaching of scripture, which is no where to be found in the Old Testament, such as in Deuteronomy 22 which only condemns BETROTHED women having sex with other men and men having sex with women betrothed or married to another man. Romans 1 doesn’t necessarily mean homosexual orientation. It says that gave up ACTS with females, it doesn’t say they CHANGED their feelings. Perhaps they had SO much lust, or excess lust that the excess lust was expressed with other men. The word used there is ορεξις or orexis which is also the word used for “appetite.” Having an excess appetite could be like being a glutton. You can certainly see such in prisons, where otherwise heterosexually oriented men will rape other men. But it must be repeated that αρσενοκοιτης (arsenokoitus) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 ONLY refers to acts, NOT to Orientation. The context in Romans 1 IS idol worship, a context in which even heterosexual marriages are strongly condemned. For instance, Revelation 14:4 states that HETEROSEXUAL relations can be polluting- this would also include heterosexual marriage. This verse states “There are those who have not defiled (μολυνω- molyno- pollute, stain, contaminate, defile) with women, for they are virgins, for they follow the lamb wherever he goes.” This does NOT mean that they waited until they were married. It means they didn’t MARRY women who would lead them astray from the faith, as Jezebel led Ahab in their heterosexual marriage (1 Kings 16:31 and Revelation 2:20) Also, “unnatural” (παρα φυσιν- para physin) ALSO refers to long hair in men in 1 Corinthians 11:14. But this text doesn’t say being “unnatural” is something that condemns people to hell. Sexual acts combined with idol worship, including idolatrous heterosexual marriages are what lead persons to condemnation. And also, Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25 give no indication whatsoever that Rahab gave up being a harlot, since both texts refer to her as a harlot. It WOULD be a sin to be a prostitute if the woman was betrothed to a man or if she worshiped idols and was a sacred prostitute (Deuteronomy 23:18-19).

  • Let’s say he is talking about Hatmaker and Merritt. Titus gives pretty clear instructions. Warn them once, warn them twice, then have nothing to do with them they are self condemned. At what point does it become willful disobedience if you know what scripture has to say about this? If heresy and division has the same meaning in the Greek at what point do you become a heretic for carrying on the arguement. Isn’t this what scripture teaches about arguements, they produce division, nothing of value coming from them.

    Personally I think that there are some things about God that Hatmaker, Merritt, myself, and you don’t understand. I’ll trust my conviction to know more of Him. I don’t want to put trust into the opinions of others. But when thoughts tend to come together out of honest convictions, then I want smart people to look at scripture to see if scripture can reconcile the thoughts. I do not have a spirit of fear when it comes to following my convictions. On the other hand I don’t change convictions on a whim, they’re convictions after all.

    So no I guess I’m not 100% sure Titus isn’t talking about Merritt and Hatfield. I am 100% sure about how to act if he is though. Knowing that doesn’t give me confidence in the opinion of the guy who says he is in this case.

  • So disagreeing with someone makes you hate that someone? As someone who disagrees with Burk and Christian teaching for 2000 years, what does that make you?

  • It’s always great to see the tolerance of the pro-gay activists come out. Let’s see if any Christian said we should round up all the gays and send them to “enclaves” where they can be left alone, what would they rightly be called?

    You have no right to attack Christians for being hateful when you yourself exhibit the very thing you claim to condemn.

  • Move to Africa, Asia or South America and you’ll understand that we are still the majority. But even if we aren’t, Jesus warns us the world will hate us when we follow Him. Does the world hate Jen Hatmaker and Merritt for taking a stance that they agree with?

  • Hating someone, denying their humanity and engaging in bigotry is hate. Burk does such things.

    When the point of contention is whether to treat certain people as human beings, simple disagreement is understating the issue. It is a conversation about who one hates and what they want to justify that with.

    What it makes me is honest about the conversation. Using tradition to justify bigotry just means one is lazy in their hate. Following along in how others have done it.

    Christian teachings are wide in scope. Many don’t preach such bigotry. You and Burk chose the ones that do, out of all the sects and variations out there. To make it worse, you engage in the hateful denial of the very existence of Christians who do not follow such ideas. You defined your Christian belief by your bigotry.

  • no one will warn them and if they did it still wouldn’t matter because no words can be said regarding hatmaker and merrit’s personal relationship with God. And since that’s what matters,there is no true orthodoxy, God is what i want him or her to be. Christ is what i want him or her or it to be.

  • Hmm….. Just stumbled onto RNS. Seems to be a shill for the progressive hard left.

    Just my opinion, dudes.

  • Dear Ben in Oakland,
    Actually the history of believer’s opposition to homosexual activity is closer to 3500 years, beginning with the opposition in the Jewish Torah. The ancient Jews recognized that homosexual intercourse was a perversion because it differed dramatically from the observed intent of sexual intercourse: Child bearing. Intercourse without meaning or ‘telos’ was unthinkable to them and to be childless was a catastrophe.

    Honestly though, my heart does goes out to homosexuals because I do believe the inability to be attracted to the opposite sex is, in most cases, an inherited trait. The burden is difficult indeed for those seeking to being faithful to their Maker in a sex saturated culture. However, every person faces their own struggles and remaking the World in my own image to fit my own impulses is always a losing enterprise. Millions do live their lives without sex and many do so with full rich lives.

    But Ben in Oakland, if you were to convert every Christian and Jew in the world to become a seething advocate for homosexual intercourse, would it matter?? Oh sure, you would get what some want in the current social milieu but would you change the Mind of God? But then who cares about the “Mind of God”? He doesn’t really exist, does He?, or if He does He is a lousy communicator. Consequently, all the flap right now is really just about POWER and getting one’s way, not Truth.

    I trust you would agree.
    I don’t.

  • “Burk is so beholden to bigotry that he denies Ms Hatmaker is even Christian………”
    “This is not polite disagreement. It’s outright hostility and spite towards her.”

    It is my working assumption that ‘Spuddie’ and ‘Ben in Oakland’ are not particularly worked up about what the truth of Christianity actually is or whether or not it actually reflects the Will and Mind of God. It is also my further working assumption that you are not of the persuasion that there is a God or, if He does exist, that He has failed to communicate clearly to the World.

    If my assumptions are correct and all that is really in play here is not Truth but Power, on what plausible grounds do you make your argument? If we are really just two ‘bio-chemical machines’ who have different programming, why do you try to persuade using Moral Arguments that are supposedly based on universal truths that none of us wrote but to which we are all supposed to comply? Why accuse your opponents of ‘bigotry’ or ‘hostility’ or ‘spite’? These things bear weight if and only if they are rooted in Something that has the authority to proscribe how we all are to live.

    If the authority of God is blown off, don’t moral arguments like yours make absolutely no sense whatsoever? Aren’t they really just equivalent to saying “I don’t like the way you think.” Period. End of story.

  • “Fewer people are wanting to put up with these archaic and hateful beliefs.”

    Well Jim, please tell us what beliefs we are to have and why they carry authority over me if I disagree with them.

    Please tell is how to live, Jim and why. Tell me why Hate is wrong. Is it always wrong? If not, what are the exemptions and why do those exemptions bear authority? Who decides what is permissible behavior and what gives them authority over those who disagree with them?

    Important questions I think.

  • So who died and made you the living embodiment of Jesus incarnate?

    Despite your narcissistic bloviating, your interpretation as to “the authority of God” has no more credible weight to it as any other.
    Including Jen Hatmaker.Nobody has to take your assertions as to what is god’s authority at face value.

    The major difference between her and you being the malice and arrogance in yours where you deny any other interpretation possible and likely heretical. You are too enamored with self styled authority to realize it’s just another opinion like any other. The difference being Ms. Hatmaker was far more polite, civil and well intentioned than her detractors.

    “Aren’t they really just equivalent to saying “I don’t like the way you think.”

    Ironically that is your position as well. But you add the more offensive part of “their beliefs have no reason to exist and I deny their religion. Because I know better”.

    Denny Burk is a bigot regardless. The man uses religion to add an immoral level of acceptability to the idea, “certain classes of people are unworthy of existence. I should not treat them as human beings”

    The fact you chose to define your Christianity by who you hate is atrocious. But I am not as spiteful or arrogant to claim your repugnant views don’t also represent Christianity. As much so as Ms. Hatmaker’S views to the contrary.

  • The only seething advocates I have seen are those who advocate against he lives of gay people.

    You believe that what you believe you read in your bible you believe tag you understand and you is god’s word on the subject. I don’t.

    Interesting that you believe that not bring heterosexual is inherited. Genetic isps the better word, but it doesn’t matter. So your god creates people to be a certain way, and then says, “hey! Too bad for you I did what I did!” If. Hyman did that, we’d call him a sadistic bastard. But if your god does it? Well, he is is beyond our moral standards. Well, you say it. Not me.

    But you are right about one thing. It’s all about power: the people who believe that they speak for god, and believe that they should have power over other people’s lives…

    And the people who just wish you would mind your own goddam and goddaming business, follow your faith if it appeals to you, and keep the hell out of everyone else’s lives.

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