Friday, February 24, 2012

Does God Change Lives Today?

This is the issue at stake between Evangelical and Liberal Protestantism. In my last post I suggested that Liberal Protestantism is in schism by virtue of its endorsement of homosexual sin as acceptable. But not only does Liberal Protestantism accept and endorse homosexual sin as morally acceptable, it does so for a very specific reason and that reason is that it accepts the argument that homosexuals cannot change.

Now, this whole idea of a "homosexual orientation" that people supposedly have from birth and have no conscious control over is contradicted by the facts all around us. Just look at what the pro-homosexual movement is called "LGBT:" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered. All these are "orientations," but what does "orientation" mean here?

Very few people, if any, are exclusively homosexual throughout their lifetimes in the sense that they cannot be sexually aroused by member of the opposite sex. Yet many people can be sexually aroused by members of both sexes. Others go from one to the other and some go back and forth.

Gene Robinson left his wife and children to shack up with another man and the Episcopal Church made him a bishop! Why? Because we have to recognize free choice with regard to sexual lifestyles. But I thought "homosexual orientations" left no room for "choice" and that is precisely why they had to be recognized. Apparently, Gene Robinson could have a homosexual "orientation" that he supposedly had no choice about from birth and, yet, could also get married to a woman and father children by her. Then he exercised his choice to leave his lawfully married wife to take up with a man. So was he inexorably driven by his "orientation" when he was married to a woman? Or when he left her and took up with a man? Or did he have both an "orientation" and choice at the same time?

All this is very contradictory and leads one to suspect that the term "orientation" is basically meaningless. The term "orientation" basically functions in our society as a fig leaf for individual choice based on strong habits. The sexual revolution teaches that sexual behaviour is amoral and every individual should create his or her own values by his or her own personal choices. Since that seems immoral, hedonistic and selfish to most people, there has to be a way of fudging the real issues when operating in the public realms of politics, education and religion. The idea of "orientation" has a superficial veneer of (1) a scientific basis, (2) compassion and (3) tolerance, all of which make it useful as a propaganda tool to use on those who aren't paying close attention to the arguments.

The pagan world says to the Church: "The homosexual inclinations of some people are so deeply embedded, so fundamental to their identity and so hard to fight that we must accept them as they are. They cannot change and it is cruel to say that they must do so."

Conservative Christianity (Catholic and Evangelical) says in reply: "We understand that it is difficult because we all struggle against sinful desires and frequently give in to temptation. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it means two things: (1) forgiveness for sin and (2) power to change. The indwelling Holy Spirit can change your life by giving you freedom from guilt instantly and then gradually increasing victory over the power of sin. The hope of the Gospel is that one day we will experience total liberation from sin in our glorified, resurrected bodies. Therefore, believe the Gospel and be saved!"

Liberal Protestantism says: "We understand that you can't overcome these strong desires and our message is essentially a therapeutic one that stresses becoming better adjusted to the realities of the natural world and the limitations of our moral powers. So we welcome you into the Church as you are and want you to know that you are accepted by us and by whatever God may be up there."

The problem is that Liberal Protestantism has no message of forgiveness and power to change. Evangelical Protestantism preaches a Gospel of forgiveness and power to change. Evangelicals are not better people than anyone else, but we have the greatest message the world could ever hear. And Liberal Protestants, as people, are no better than us, so is it any wonder that without a Gospel to proclaim their churches are dying out?

The tragedy is that an immature teen, struggling with homosexual temptation, who goes to a Liberal Protestant Church will hear no hope for change or overcoming temptation. The spouse teetering on the verge of breaking up his or her family to follow the inclinations of the flesh will hear only a justification for acting on the most base and selfish of impulses. The homosexual who is tempted to commit suicide because of his struggles with low self-esteem and guilt over his lifestyle will hear no message of forgiveness, cleansing and hope. This is the tragedy of Liberal Protestantism. People, at a very deep level, do not want "tolerance" or "acceptance." They want to be clean and free. This is the cruelty of having no real Gospel to proclaim.

The Reformers taught that the true Church exists where the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed and the sacraments rightly administered. The true Church does not exist where there is no proclamation of forgiveness through the cross of Christ and power to change through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." (II Tim. 3:1-5)

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