Proclaiming Justice at Cru

I spoke at the Cru conference in Ft. Collins on July 20 on the topic of Proclaiming Justice. It was an amazing experience for me to share with people who were powerfully committed to going with Jesus into the hardest places – beginning with the Campuses of the world.

The notes from the meeting are here, and the power point I used is here. A very helpful chart is here. I will be glad to send you any of these or converse about other resources. My email address is Gbreshears@westernseminary.edu

 

Equal Marriage should be even more equal

I am intrigued — but not at all surprised — to see Slate seriously supporting polygyny. At least I hope they are not going to be sexist and limit it only to polygamy. The article is here

Ironically, in a backward way I am sorta kinda supportive — IF it is marriage which is to publicly proclaimed life long faithful covenant partnership. I do have to say the status of women in polygamy (which is far more common than polyandry) in the world does not give me much expectation that it will be good for women or children. But the rising number of children in single parent homes or shifting partner homes is a very damaging place for children. The research is not ambiguous.

This is from the report of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia and the Institute for American Values in New York City:

According to numerous studies, children born or raised outside of marriage are more likely to suffer from a range of emotional and social problems – including drug use, depression, attempted suicide and dropping out of high school – compared to children in intact, married families, as summarized in past reports such as “Why Marriage Matters” from the same team. While debates over same-sex marriage have filled the headlines, the rapid hollowing out of marriage in Middle America – more than half of births among women under 30 now occur outside of marriage – has received scant attention from national leaders, the report notes.

Their full report here

I do suspect that equal marriage expanded will be quite different than marriage. I suspect that it will devolve into a temporary living arrangement with one person working and the rest getting health benefits.

Poor children.

Why Does Religion Survive?

Today’s NY Times opinion piece, The Moral Animal, asks the question of the survival of religion: Why does religion survive — thrive in fact — when it is persistently attacked and ridiculed by naturalism and has been predicted to disappear since the Enlightenment? In a neo-Darwinian world, what makes religion so fit? Rabbi Sacks suggests it because community has higher survivability than individuals. Altruism is fitter than egoism and therefore survives. He notes there is now neurological evidence that we are hard wired for empathy. He argues that religion survives because it binds individuals into groups.

He cites Robert Putnam whose Bowling Alone showed the rising individualism was destroying our ability to form community. More recently his American Grace has chronicled the fact that religious communities still exist. His research showed that frequent church- or synagogue-goers were more likely to give money to charity, do volunteer work, help the homeless, donate blood, help a neighbor with housework, spend time with someone who was feeling depressed, offer a seat to a stranger or help someone find a job. Religiosity as measured by church or synagogue attendance is, he found, a better predictor of altruism than education, age, income, gender or race.

But that doesn’t explain why religion survives. It only shows that it results in altruistic community. Community may be a necessary thing, Darwinistically speaking, but religion isn’t.

It seems to me that religion survives because of what Psalm 19 says:

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

     Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

     There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

     Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

There is an innate sense of divinity, of justice, beauty, and of community put there by the Living Loving Lord of Advent. It morphs into many different religions which have more or less of the truth. The Word became flesh to reveal the Father (John 1:14, 18), die for our sins and rise to bring newness of life, was exalted above the hostile powers and poured out the Spirit on His Church. We who repent and accept His message and join Him by faith receive forgiveness, new life, join His new community and its mission to bring true shalom to this world.

So at Christmas time, I confidently predict that the worship of the Lord of Creation, the Lord of Advent, the Lord of the community of the Spirit will continue to be worshiped. That worship will be most authentic when it follows the words of our Savior: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. and Love your neighbor as yourself.

This was demonstrated dramatically in Kristina Shevchenko, the 15 year old who was shot at Clackamas Town Center. She “irrationally” forgave the man who shot her and two others. You had to listen carefully to find the reason: she and her Ukrainian immigrant family are strong Christians.

So you will continue to see churches proclaiming Jesus as Lord and doing irrational works of service in our communities . . . and loving, wrestling with, and laughing with atheists who can’t join our worship [yet]

Resources on Sexual Minorities

I will be participating in a panel on “Faith, Sexuality, and Identity” at George Fox University Wednesday, November 7, 2012. This is part of an ongoing dialogue with OneGeorgeFox, (http://www.onegeorgefox.org/), a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and allied alumni of George Fox University. The official Fox statement on the movement is at www.georgefox.edu/onegeorgefox. I will be dialoguing with Nathan Meckley, Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church here in Portland. The other two panelists are Erica Tan, a licensed clinical psychologist who often collaborates on research projects with Mark Yarhouse, and Judge Darleen Ortega, current Oregon Court of Appeals judge. This is a list of resources related to the issue.

I posted a draft recording of my presentation here. The Power Point is here.

Books

Stanley J. Grenz, Welcoming but Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality, Westminster John Knox Press, 1998

Mark A. Yarhouse, PsyD, Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors, and Friends, Bethany House Publishers, 2010

Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan, Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope, WaterBrook Press, 2011

Robert A. J. Gagnon and Dan O. Via, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views Fortress Press, 2009

 

Robert Gagnon, has an excellent summary of his major book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, Abingdon Press, 2002 here. There is a good video presentation called, “What Does the Bible Teach About Homosexuality?” here. Matthew Vines has an hour long teaching on the Bible and homosexuality from the perspective of a Gay Christian here. Gagnon’s website is here.

Mark Yarhouse is the executive director of The Institute for the Study of Sexual Identity (http://www.sexualidentityinstitute.org/) at Regent University. The mission of ISSI is to further our understanding of sexual identity, its development and synthesis, and to be a resource to students in training and those in the community who are stakeholders in these discussions. “At the Intersection of Religious and Sexual Identities: A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality” is a helpful article here. His blog is here

Stanton Jones, Provost & Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College, and Mark Yarhouse authored Ex-Gays?: A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation IVP Academic, 2007. Jones summarizes five major failures of the Evangelical Church in approaching the contentious issues of homosexuality and sexual identity in a chapel talk at Dallas Seminary. Video and full text is here. He has an article summarizing the current state of same-sex attraction in social and biological scientific perspectives here

Rick McKinley preached an outstanding sermon on the question of homosexuality at Imago Dei here in Portland. It is here. Chris Dolson of Blackhawk Church also has an excellent sermon here.

Al Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, confessed the sins of the church in relation to homosexuality before the SBC National Convention here.

Peter Ould, http://www.peter-ould.net/ is post gay. He refuses the ontological polarities of straight, gay or bisexual or whatever desires one may have. The biblical categories are chaste or sexually immoral. With God’s help, one can be chaste and have any kind of sexual desires. Your desires do not define a person, no matter how many people say they do. Ould believes human personhood is defined by relation with God, our choice of lifestyle, and the direction of our journey not our sexual attractions. He has a great video “Post Gay – A Lecture at St John’s Nottingham, 6 Nov 2008” here. His blog on being post gay is here. It includes posts by many who come from the LGBTQ perspective.

One example of this is Wesley Hill, author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality Zondervan, 2010. Author’s video is here. Dr. Hill is open about his sexual attraction to men but lives a very successful life as a chaste man. He is on faculty at Trinity School for Ministry, an evangelical Anglican seminary. His faculty profile is here

“I, Josh Weed, am homosexual.” He is also LDS (Mormon), married, the father of three children, and a marriage and family therapist. In his blog he and his wife, Lolly, tell their story here. Their Nightline story is here.

Christopher Yuan http://www.christopheryuan.com is the author along with his mother of Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God. A Broken Mother’s Search for Hope, WaterBrook Multnomah Press, 2011, The book is a very personal account of their journey from atheism, his homosexuality, and her sucidiality to their conversion to Christianity and him becoming a celibate man with homosexual attractions who is a follower of Jesus.

Portland Fellowship is local ministry https://www.portlandfellowship.com/ for those who have been wounded by past hurts and taken captive by the desire to fulfill unmet needs for love and affirmation through (unwanted) same-sex desires and relationships. They have an excellent program for people struggling with unwanted homosexuality called taking back ground at https://www.reachtruth.com/

If you really want to be in an embattled minority, try being an ex-gay man! That challenge is recounted in the Op Ed in the New York times here.

Sy Rogers (http://www.syrogers.com) and Joe Dallas (http://www.joedallas.com) are two of many who have changed their life style and identity but not their attractions and are engaged in ministry to help people struggling with sexual addiction, homosexuality and other sexual/relational problems.

The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (http://narth.com) is an association of psychiatrists and psychologists who believe that if a person comes to them wanting change in sexual orientation, they are ethically committed to try for that change. Although they are not a “religious” organization, there are Christian, Jewish and Moslem resources and links on this site. NARTH’s whole site is full of resources and research. Other useful resources include http://www.desertstream.org/ and http://www.newdirection.ca/

I would be deeply grateful for other resources or suggestions.

Here is one dialogue from William Jessup University suggested by a friend. Another friend suggested this older but well thought out report from the Christian Reformed Church which is  here. There are others in the comments. The NY Times article on “My Ex-Gay Friend” about Michael Glatze is particularly intriguing.  His recent statement on the power of the gospel to heal is here.