The Catholic Church, the NCAA, and Penn State Football

Emmert Podiumh NCAA Penn State

I tend to stay away from topics I’m not involved with or have studied to some degree, but I am a follower of the greater Church Body, and an avid football fan (albeit Auburn Tigers Football not Penn State). I also try to steer away from current events as well, but in this case, it just deserves attention. While the Catholic Church has been having to deal with similar sexual sins for a while now, it is a self-governing body, while the top level of college football is governed by the NCAA, and this is basically their first large dealing with sexual sins and child abuse.

Today, the NCAA handed out the penalty it felt was justified for these horrific sexual sins against children, and it was a heck of a penalty. You can read the full pdf of the NCAA decision here, but the list of sanctions the NCAA placed on Penn State went well beyond the death penalty in my opinion, and rightfully so. The president of the NCAA made it clear that, at least Penn State, had put football, and winning football games, above all else, even the welfare of its own children. Living in a part of the country where football rises above everything, and is somewhat the religion of Saturday night, this penalty should raise awareness across the entire college football continuum. We love our football, but to what expense? Well, at least for the governing body of college football, the NCAA has made it clear, if you take football above the welfare of everything else, this is the list of what you get.

Punitive Component of the NCAA Penn State Penalty

  1. $60 Million Fine – this is the equivalent to the approximate average of one year’s gross revenue from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period to an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse
  2. Four-Year Postseason Ban – they can’t play in a bowl game from 2012-2013 season until the end of the 2015 season. Some might think this isn’t that big of a deal, but this is where athletic programs get extra money, recruiting, and will basically disband any future NFL stars.
  3. Four-Year Reduction of Grants-in-Aid – the NCAA is limiting the Grants-in-Aid monies to 15 grants where in 2017-2018 they can go to 65
  4. Five Years of Probation – they are independently monitored for five years and any violation can mean higher penalties
  5. Vacation of Wins since 1998 – this is huge! This means Coach Joe Paterno will have these wins removed from his record as well
  6. Waiver of transfer rules and grant-in-aid Retention – this will allow any returning or new football player to be able to leave Penn State without any restrictions. This will basically have the affect of mass exodus with any football players of super high talent levels
  7. Individual penalties to be determined – open door for future action against specific people involved

Corrective Component of the NCAA Penn State Penalty

  • Adoption of all recommendations presented in Chapter 10 of the Freeh Report (full PDF of Freeh report here)
  • Implementation of Athletics Integrity Agreement (which is a huge list of things)

That’s quite a list, and in my view, which is just one of a mere spectator and lover of all things college football, this is worse than the death penalty that SMU received many years ago. I’m actually not sure the NCAA could put down a penalty or sanctions that would be too severe. Penn State removed the statue of their famed coach, and will probably begin to do what all quality higher education institutions in this country should be doing, focusing on winning through education, not football.

What does this have to do with the Catholic Church? Well, it is always interesting to me to see what secular institutions do when you compare that to what the church does. Although it is very hard to compare the Catholic Church and the sexual abuse of children by priests spanning centuries with college football, these were similar sins of the flesh, and above is how the secular world of NCAA College Football handled their sexual sin problem. How does, or how did the church handle their problem? In an overview, they instituted #7 above, and then whatever the court of law said they had to do.

Paul alone has a lot to say about the sexual sins of the flesh. They are not to be tolerated, and in his day, they were indeed worthy of the death penalty, but not the one where you can’t play football anymore, the capital punishment kind (see at a minimum Colossians 3:5). How can the church of today be less forceful against sin than a secular institution? There is of course a greater element of forgiveness and repentance involved, but in this particular case today, I think the church body can learn something from the punishment of the NCAA. This will really hurt Penn State right now, but in the end their football program will be one of integrity and honor.

I say the Catholic Church in this post only because they are the most prominent, the highest profile, and some of the worse abuse from within the greater Church Body. Things like this go on in Christian Church just like it goes on in college football, but that doesn’t mean we don’t meet these challenges as a Church Body with integrity and honor, and justice. After all, our governing body may be the Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, or the United Methodist Church, but ultimately we are accountable to God, a much higher authority than even the NCAA, unless perhaps you ask someone from the state of Alabama on a Saturday night that is.

Church and Amazing Lyrics of How Deep the Father's Love for Us

Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott Band Warmup

Cornerstone Church at Lee-Scott Drummer Warmup for Worship

The shot above was one I took while the band was warming up for worship this morning. I never get tired of being around the worship band and their practices. It is just as much a part of worship to me as when the official worship time begins. This church location, our second site, has been meeting in a basketball gym since February, and I love how it forces us to look at church from a new perspective again.

One of the songs we sung today, a modern hymn called How Deep the Father’s Love For Us by Kings Kaleidoscope on their album Sin, which was original written by Stuart Townend many years ago, has become one of my favorites because of the amazing lyrics and how it was written. It was released almost 2 years ago at this point but every time I read this poem, or listen to it being sung, it just hits home why we believe what we believe.

As mere created beings we can’t possibly fathom how deep God loves us, but the part that always rests with me is when the writer says “I hear my mocking voice, call out among the scoffers.” What an incredible thought to process and ponder. You can listen to the song from a link at the top of this post, but the rest of it goes like this:

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

I guess everyone has different stretching points in words and in music that makes them emotionally tied to one work over another. This one for me brings out the beauty and sadness in sacrifice for someone who finally gets it. I love that we can worship a God this great, through these words, and do it with a basketball goal above our heads.

Though Your Sins are Like Scarlet Only Christ Can Atone :: Isaiah 1:18-20

Book of Isaiah

I am in the middle of reading three different reading plans from YouVersion (I rotate reading from one particular plan each day), and today in the Canonical Plan started the book of Isaiah. I put off starting the book for a week or two because of its depth and heaviness, but today was the day. This is one of my favorite Old Testament books, probably because it is one that I understand the least, but three verses really stuck with me, Isaiah 1:18, 19, and 20.

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.

At first I just read that above and moved on. I love that “let us reason together,” but if we stop there we miss the point. There is a decision to be made for that statement to come to pass on our lives, and it’s from verse 18, “if you are willing and obedient,” and verse 19, “but if you refuse and rebel.”

The decision is for Christ, and without Christ, verse 18 will never come to pass. The word from the Lord is a simple, yet a profound, if-then statement. Our sins will be forgiven if we trust and obey. This of course is not a full and complete exegetical look at verse 18-20, but at the start of this Holy Week, the incredible fact of Isaiah and the rest of Scripture is it all points to the saving work of Christ, done on the cross, which we traditionally observe starting on Thursday with a Maundy Thursday prayer vigil (see last year) followed by Good Friday.

Gay Dallas Judge Tonya Parker Refuses to Marry Homosexual Couples in her Court

On the surface, if you are one who stands behind Paul on Romans 1:24-27 (among many other verses of course), you would think this judge refusing gay marriage in her courtroom is a good thing (see YouTube video Judge Parker talks about LGBT issues in her court). But today of course, you can never look at something on the surface level, or by the headlines, and really get the full picture. This judge is taking her stand as a form of protest that the Texas legislature has not passed a law permitting Gay marriage, so she is refusing to marry gay couples in her court room, and instead is choosing to pass the buck down the line to her fellow judges (I’m sure they appreciate that) to wed all the gay couples coming to her courtroom. She says:

“I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away,” Parker said. “So I usually will offer them something along the lines of, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.’ And it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.”

I pick this topic up this morning briefly (this is a great post too), as I have about once a year, because of the similar nature it has to do with a post I did years ago that still resonates with the gay marriage debate, Christian Photographer Who Refused Gay Wedding Lost Lawsuit. Our culture is at such a point today where we have utterly refused to see the Truth that before long, posts like this will be considered hate speech. It is already to a point where in Colorado you can’t openly speak what the Truth of Scripture says about the homosexual lifestyle, something you haven’t been able to do in Canada in a long time.

Frankly speaking, I’m tired of this country acting like the homosexual debate is a matter of civil rights, but that’s what happens when we blend Truth with sin. Eventually when the state of Texas makes it legal for Gay couples to marry, as I am pretty sure all states eventually will, I hope as the post above stated, they will offer the same courtesy to a judge who refuses to perform Gay weddings due to their religious beliefs, though that judge will probably be sued. My point is basically this… I am for equality, free speech, and the freedoms this country were founded on, but don’t exchange one freedom for another like they seem to have already done in Canada and elsewhere. I have the right to say homosexuality is a sin according to God’s word (one that is equal with any other sin we all commit on a a daily basis, both needing of repentance), just like others have the right to say it isn’t. My question is, when does openly speaking about Romans 1 become “illegal” in America?

None of this changes Paul’s words in Romans. Nothing ever will. No matter how much we debate the topic in this country of whether homosexuality is a sin or not, God’s words in Romans (and many other places) will never change. You can change the laws in the country, you can even put people in jail or sue them for speaking the Truth or taking a stand for their beliefs, but even if Heaven and Earth pass away, God’s words will never pass away (Luke 21:33).

I AM Lenten Reader, Confession :: Lent Day 3

So today is day three of Lent and the topic is once again a hard-hitting subject. Today’s text was on the subject of confession. This is something we evangelicals want to leave up to the Catholics to do, but no where in the bible does it say this is not of the utmost importance in the life of every Christian. The text for today is as follows:

Day 3 :: Friday, March 11, 2011, Confession

Confession is the practice of owning up to our sin. When we confess our sin, we are agreeing with God about the gravity of sin and acknowledging that our sin has crippled our relationship with Him.

1 John 1:9 says, If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Not confessing our sins causes us to deceive ourselves into thinking we are right with God. But, when we come clean about our sin before God, He will always forgive us.

Confessing the sin in our lives not only restores our relationship with God, but also reminds us of our brokenness and shows to us the power of Christ’s sacrifice in covering our sin. We have been rescued from sin, and the practice of confession reveals to us the cost of our sin.

  1. Have you made the practice of confession a priority in your life?
  2. What sins have you been holding on to that you need to come clean to God about?

Begin the practice of confession in your life today.

Contemplation Over Day 3

I took a quick look at this day and thought what in the world am I going to write for this day on my blog (I am keeping two separate journals for Lent by the way). I think it’s human nature to look at another person’s sin, or wonder about another person’s sin, speaking of my own (see Luke 6:42 for one). When I am sitting in a service or listening to a sermon podcast and a pastor talks about the sin in his life, the first thing I think is, “I wonder what that sin is?, he’s such a ‘good’ person”.

That’s what I’m going to do here today. I’m reminded of Matthew 6:6 (when you pray, go into a room and shut the door) where we are taught how some prayer is private, and although some sins do need confession before the Church body, today’s reading talks about our need for daily confession before God. I do think confession largely lost in our evangelical churches today. We rarely talk about it on Sunday mornings.

I know in my own life God is constantly refining my heart’s desires. Every day is a battle that started a long time ago, one where God continues to remove the blackness of my heart to replace it with clean tissue. A huge part of that comes from acknowledging our sin, repentantly confessing that sin to God, and knowing, God will forgive us when we ask.

Are There Different Degrees of Sin? The Greater Sin of John 19:11

Do you think there are varying degrees of sin? Isn’t all sin equal in God’s eyes? Lying is the same as stealing, it’s all sin to God, right? I was always under the assumption that all sin was created equal, having this drilled into my thought process for almost 40 years until I came to John 19:11. I have even argued that point in previous blog posts (see “Prop 8” article for one), but if that’s the case, what do we do with John 19:11?

Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” John 19:11 (ESV)

On Wednesday and Friday I try to dive deeper into scripture, and it is amazing what is revealed to you from God’s Word when you read for knowledge and understanding. Today, after reading over John 19:11 it was revealed to me that clearly the answer to this question is yes, there are greater and lesser sins. But that led of course to the most natural question, why does it matter? Perhaps there are varying degrees of sin for those within Christ, and for those without Christ? If we are saved by grace, our sins are forgiven, and if we aren’t, well, they aren’t, so what difference does it make at all then?

The Greater Sin: Are There Degrees of Sin?

I would argue it matters simply because Jesus himself made the distinction, possibly as a warning to both parties. His words in John 19:11 clearly indicate if the sin of Caiaphas, the High Priest at the time (or possibly Judas Iscariot), was greater than Pilate’s sin, there must be lesser sins. The best essay I found on making the various distinctions between levels of sin came from the Reformed Theological Seminary blog titled “‘The Greater Sin’: Are There Degrees of Sin?” and it is well worth reading. It covers this topic far more in depth than I ever could here and to keep from just repeating all the text from that article I would ask the question here, why does this matter to us?

After an extensive search I found almost no sermons preached on John 19:11, so maybe it doesn’t matter, so I would not want to add emphasis to scripture where there is none. Simply put, if our salvation rests in Jesus Christ and he has called us to himself (John 15:16), our sins have been forgiven and the distinction in degree of sin makes no difference to the salvation of our souls. If we are living outside the grace and forgiveness of our sins, we are condemned already (John 3:17-18).

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (emphasis mine)

Is it For Eternal Reward in Heaven or Punishment in Hell?

So, if we know it doesn’t make a difference to our salvation, does it make a difference to our judgement or call to bear fruit? If we examine John 3:17-18 above, we are either condemned (without eternal salvation) or not (with eternal salvation), so the difference in level or degree of sin could be associated with our eternal reward, punishment, or judgement.

This topic is sprinkled throughout scripture, and while both sides (the condemned and the saved) don’t really want to discuss it much, scripture says we are to be judged according the fruit we bear in this life. If we look at John 19:11, Jesus is referring to the punishment or judgement of Caiaphas (or Judas Iscariot) being greater than that of Pilate, because both Caiaphas and/or Judas both knew far more of the Gospel message (or light) than Pilate, but all men here were likely “condemned already”.

Scripture of course never specifically says what a greater or lesser reward looks like in heaven (and honestly, will we really care at that point), but it does specifically say there are those called greater (Matthew 5:19 and Luke 9:46) and points back to the fact that we are to live a life that produces fruit. [For other references to degree of reward or punishment see also Leviticus 4:2, 13; 5:17; Numbers 15:30; Ezekiel 8:6, 13; and Matthew 23:34.]

19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19

For Believers, this is more a matter of bearing fruit, but it’s also a warning that God takes our sin much more seriously than those who have not received as much of the Gospel light as we have. The article by RBS puts it like this:

This is a warning to those of us who preach the gospel. Brothers, God takes our sin more seriously than the man who has received little biblical truth. We have been entrusted with much gospel light… And it is a sobering thought to know that the Lord views all of our sins in relation to the degree of light with which He has entrusted to us.

A Relavant Conclusion to Why it Matters

Studying this particular verse has actually left me with more questions than answers. Does the revelation that sin has differing levels or degrees matter? I think ultimately it does because, one, it leads to larger discussions throughout all of scripture about sin, judgement, and bearing fruit. Two, it reinforces many truths of Scripture about sin, and three, it puts more personal responsibility on those who have been given the knowledge of the Gospel message (not necessarily those who have received salvation), which should be important to all of us. Some other concluding points that come to mind are:

  • It shows that God takes the sin of the condemned and saved very seriously
  • John 19:11 is just one piece of an overall greater picture of grace and judgement
  • It shows that God has entrusted some with more revelation than others
  • There are differences of sin and judgement
  • A lesser sin does not exonerate the guilty, they are still guilty
  • Authority, even from the condemned comes from God alone

These are just some conclusions I came to, each could be expanded upon in greater detail.  What does the truth of John 19:11 reveal to you?

It's a Cop-Out to Blame God for Human Irresponsibility

I have been slowly going through Dave Earley’s book called 21 Reasons Bad Things Happen to Good People, and today I re-read his original premise for the book that he states as “The Reason No One Wants to Hear”, which basically covers original sin in the human condition.

Ultimately God gave Adam and Eve a choice to follow evil or good, and they chose evil, resulting in a blood line of sin for all of humanity. Yet we still continually ask the same question, just phrased in a million different ways, “why does God ‘allow’ this or that bad thing to happen”? As Earley puts it, what we really should be asking if we are honest with ourselves is “why do so many good things happen to bad people”. Even Jesus made the statement in Luke 18:19 (and Mark 10:18), “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone”.  Clearly we are not God, but many of us still strive to better understand God’s will, and that includes questions about evil, suffering, and sin.

Earley quoted Knechtle’s Give Me an Answer, on the matter of evil and human nature, who stated:

How can you blame God for starving babies in Ethiopia when the best-selling books in the United States are on dieting, on how to take the extra fat off? It is not God’s fault people are starving today. The earth produces enough right now to give every person 3,000 calories a day. The problem is that some of us hoard so others go to bed hungry. It is a cop-out to blame God for human irresponsibility. If a person gets drunk, drives his car across the median, and sends your friend to an early grave, will you blame God? Do you blame God for Hitler’s seven million murders?  That would be escapism. The vast majority of human and evil suffering is the direct result of human irresponsibility.

I haven’t made it all the way through yet but I’m working on it, and I’m grateful to a fellow brother who mailed it to me a month or so ago, thanks Hershel.

Poisoning Toomer's Live Oaks in Auburn Senseless but Requires Forgiveness

I was quite saddened yesterday when I found out  (who we now allegedly know as) Harvey Updyke from Dadeville (here on Facebook) had deliberately poisoned the Toomer’s Oaks in Auburn with a Dow Agroscience called Spike 80 DF (PDF of what this chemical is and does) “in retaliation for a 1983 event when Auburn students rolled the trees to celebrate the death of Alabama coaching legend Paul “Bear” Bryant.”

According to the Paul Finebaum show, (audio of caller is here) he had deliberately poisoned the Toomer’s Live Oaks in Auburn some time prior to the January 27th phone call.  The OANews is now reporting on Updyke’s arrest, but the reaction across the Internet from Facebook and Twitter has been almost incalculable (see 16,000+ Toomer’s Tree Hug Saturday Ralley on Facebook for starters).

At the time I heard about this I couldn’t think of a more senseless and baseless act of vandalism that could never be punished to the extent of the damaged caused, especially when you count the hundreds of thousands of Auburn fans that love the Toomer’s Live Oaks.  But, once again we can see this is nothing new under the sun.  This very same thing happened to the University of Texas in Austin to their Treaty Oak in 1989.  While I can’t say it’s the same, it makes me wonder if we at Auburn were destined to repeat this history?

I have a special tree here on my property I sit under and read during the summer, and have blogged about over and over again.  If someone purposely had killed that tree it would have been quite upsetting.  But for Auburn fans, how do you process something like this, the killing of something so special, something that has such key symbolic significance to Auburn itself?  Auburn released a statement yesterday, where the president addressed this question.

We will take every step we can to save the Toomer’s oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community,” said University President Jay Gogue.

Gogue asked members of the Auburn Family to “continue to be ‘All In’ in upholding its reputation for class” and not allow anger to be expressed inappropriately or undeservedly.

“It is understandable to feel outrage in reaction to a malicious act of vandalism,” Gogue said. “However, we should live up to the example we set in becoming national champions and the beliefs expressed in our Auburn Creed. Individuals act alone, not on behalf of anyone or any place, and all universities are vulnerable to and condemn such reprehensible acts.

I know some crazy fan somewhere is not going to take that to heart but the example, rooted in Auburn’s Creed from 1945 says many great things about class and dignity of fellow people. Of course it doesn’t directly address the issue of forgiveness, (mainly because this is a creed for a secular, publicly funded university, not a religious organization) which is really what is needed here. This could be a huge, long, drawn out, post on the sinful nature of man, how we go about showing forgiveness, and why someone would do such a thing, but in the end, we as Christians are called to love one another as Christ loved the church, and this includes Harvey Updyke of Dadeville.

That means forgiving, without malice in our hearts, knowing all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, not just one man but all of us. We are now given the opportunity to show how a forgiving heart acts and reacts when hurt, even if Updyke is not remorseful or repentant himself.

I assume that now here in Auburn anyway, we can move away from the who done it aspect of the trees and focus more on the preservation or the Toomer’s Oaks or what to do if and when they do die. Here are some photos below I took of the Toomer’s Oaks as they sit today, bathed in bright February sunshine, on a gorgeous day in the south.

I will say that these are just trees. Very special trees When I went down to Toomer’s Corner today it was a zoo. The perspective on what happened in some respect has been totally lost. These are beloved trees that symbolize much of what is great about Auburn, but if we could channel this money, effort, and energy into something productive it would be amazing. Just a thought.


Additional current information related to the post above.

A Few News Reports on the Topic

  1. Toomer’s Corner tree poisoning a ‘new low’ in rivalry, national media say
  2. Toomer’s Corner trees poisoning: Auburn working against odds to save 130-year-old live oaks
  3. Arrest made in Toomer’s Corner poisoning
  4. Toomer’s Corner trees poisoning: An arrest reported, a sports world appalled at vandalism
  5. Despite rivalry, many Bama fans sickened by news of Toomer’s Corner poisoned trees
  6. Toomers Corner explodes in ecstacy with Auburn national championship win
  7. Toomer’s Corner rolling celebrates victory (in photos)
  8. The complete Toomer’s Corner files
  9. Man arrested for poisoning Toomer’s Corner oaks
  10. Is This The Alleged Toomer’s Corner Tree Poisoner?
  11. Man arrested in poisoning of oaks at Toomer’s Corner

Prop 8 Proves Homosexual Lifestyle Acceptable to God

Of course this is utter ridiculousness, but, that severely flawed logic seems to be what is prevailing in our culture today. This topic, which I usually just tend to leave alone, is overpowering the news, blogs, and culture lately (and is certainly nothing new under the sun, gay’s have been trying to justify their actions for millennia, see Why is Being Gay a Sin? for a civil discussion, Does Romans 1:26 Condemn Lesbians? for the absurd justification, and then an honest “Christian Perspective”, not forgetting to throw in Anne Rice who recently “quit” Christianity on Facebook [comments in pdf,] with Mark Driscoll’s response for the Washington Post, because she didn’t want to be “anti-gay anymore”, and the countless trash talk about Proposition 8 in California).

With Proposition 8 being overturned by the California courts, this seems destined for the Supreme Court (where they probably don’t want to deal with it either). The Boston Globe did a huge photo spread called Same Sex Marriage about a week ago and the responses to that article show why this, unfortunately, is THE topic of our day for Christians and the church.  This discussion really wasn’t intended to launch into whether being gay is a sin or not, but to show the absurd arguments on both sides, which lack any careful thought.

This comment below is typical when reading trash talk on the news sites, and was made by someone who used the title “I Feel Drawn Towards Christianity, But I’m Gay”, which then received very complimentary responses, with little question for the lifestyle itself, or with sound argument for or against Christians and the homosexual lifestyle, and what scripture has to say about it’s effects and consequences.

I was surprised in a few ways, one by how openly acceptable the Christian responses were to this person.  Not that they were accepting of the person, that’s great, but accepting of all aspects of the persons lifestyle, with not much need for contemplation (although some did suggest the person generically seek God’s direction). The other surprise was how utterly weak the reasoning and arguments were that were used on both sides.

I am certainly no expert on this topic whatsoever, and there are many who can soundly argue, on both sides, but those seem to be few and far between.  No gay person I talk to (and many Christians for that matter) can give a sound theological argument, backed and based on scripture (since this person “feels drawn to Christianity”).  The majority of the arguments put forth are emotional arguments, which are impossible to argue against in a rational manner.  This is the argument that was given in this particular case:

The Bible also condemns divorce, the eating of pork and shrimp, and says that men shouldn’t sit on the same chairs as women who are menstruating.

The argument seems to lack even a surface level study of scripture, but most Christians responded with nothing other than an emotional response.  As with much of Scripture in our culture today, these verses are taken so much out of context for the use of the argument for a homosexual lifestyle I am surprised they were made? I am not being mean or hateful in spirit here, but seriously, if you are gay, this is your argument?

  • The Bible condemns the eating of pork.
  • We eat pork today.
  • Therefore, homosexuality is ok in the sight of the Lord.

There are so many things that could be addressed but at the basic level, in Mark 7:18-19 Jesus declared all foods to be clean, he didn’t declare all forms of sex to be clean. A better argument that perhaps shows a little more clearly why scripture says that the homosexual lifestyle is sinful in God’s eyes (and there are many things that are actually still seen as sinful in God’s eyes today, besides homosexuality), would be:

Point 1 on Sin:

  • The Bible says sin is detestable in God’s eye’s.
  • Therefore any continuous sinful act is not honoring to God.

Point 2 on Marriage:

  • The Bible defines sex outside of marriage as sin.
  • The Bible defines marriage as a monogamous union between a man and a woman.
  • Therefore any nonrepentant sexual relationship of any kind outside marriage is sin in God’s eyes.
  • Therefore a nonrepentant homosexual lifestyle is sin.
  • Therefore a nonrepentant adulterous relationship is sin.
  • Therefore any sexual relationship before marriage is sin.

I rarely see those “hateful” Christians everyone seems to refer to today that will acknowledge that the last three are equally sin, and equally condemned by scripture, but, that doesn’t mean that either is less or more acceptable to God as a way to live that honor’s God. I do not say that in a hateful manner but in an examination of scripture.  I also recognize that many, or most, “gay Christians” will take issues with my argument above and defend it away in some manner.  The statements above are all based on scripture and can all be backed theologically with sound argument.

Our culture as a whole is continually refusing to see objective truths in the Bible today. Whether we like to ignore them in our day or not, they still exist, there are still things that God says are good, and those things God says are bad, we just seem to have so much knowledge in everything that we have no knowledge in the actual truth anymore.

Pastor Fred Winters Shot to Death, So Where's God?

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Today Pastor Fred Winters of First Baptist Church of Maryville was shot to death by a single gunman during their worship service.  Once the gunman started shooting he was “arrested” by the congregation who surrounded him and detained him until the police arrived.  As soon as horrific and evil events like this happen it tends to bring out all the Atheists and Agnostics that scream and yell about how God lets bad things happen, in some sort of “I told you so” way.

One blogger I consider to be much more intelligent on the issues than some normal Atheistic or Agnostic rant who doesn’t really understand the issues of the Christian faith is Unreasonable Faith.  He wrote this post about the shooting, Illinois Pastor Shot to Death at Church, which brought up some very good questions.  Questions I couldn’t possibly address in one blog post, but I love reading Daniel’s blog, it keeps me on my toes and sharpens me more than many Christians I know, even if his ultimate conclusions are wrong.

Why Does God Allow This to Happen?

They pose the typical questions like who would want a God that allows things like this to happen and they try to point out that God doesn’t exist or wasn’t involved because He let this happen (and one can quote scripture totally out of context to prove any point).  Asking these questions is not wrong, or even bad.  As I told a pastor Fred Winters today he reminded me that John Wesley once said, when you go to work, be prepared to preach, pray, and die [for the Truth].

God does listen, He does care, and He does answer all prayer, but the answer could be yes, no, or not right now.  Trying to say we know and understand the mind of God is dangerous, and saying that because evil exists in the world means God doesn’t is just not a good argument.  The Christian antagonist would have you believe that where evil exists, God does not, and therefore God was not with the people in Maryville.  Quite the opposite.

I can not offer intelligent reasons (because I do not have the mind of God) why things like this happen any more than I can really understand why there are those who are so antagonistic to the Christian faith that they themselves bring people away from faith in Christ.  It is one thing to not believe.  I have many friends and family members who do not believe.  They do not take the position of Paul before his conversion on the road to Damascus to purposely bring people away from their own faith in God, but according to scripture, Saul (Paul) did just that.

In the end, you either hold the scriptures to be the inspired Word of God with Jesus as the risen Messiah, or you don’t.  If you do, it doesn’t mean that we as Christians are supposed to sit around in a circle and hold hands and “pray” while we watch someone mow people down in a thunder of bullets and do nothing at all.  It doesn’t mean that we have to understand the ways of God either.

Luke 17:20 says:

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

So does that mean that if I can’t move the Rocky Mountains I have no faith.  Not at all, but some will try to tell you that is certainly the case.  Arguments like these have gone on for thousands of years and I can’t even start to say I am smart enough to understand the why’s about it all.  I can see that I am very much like the flip side of Daniel when I say “Now I’m figuring out what it means to be a Believer and a person of faith.”.

Daniel credits himself as being a skeptic much like Pyrrho who is credited as being the first Skeptic philosopher, and the inspiration for the school known as Pyrrhonism in the 1st century BC.  As there will always be skeptics, there will always be people of faith in Christ.  One thing we can both agree on is that it was a terrible tragedy for Winters to be gunned down in his place of worship in front of his family.  My heart goes out to their family and their church.  God is with you, He loves you, and yes, His will (though we may not understand), will be done.