Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia

Showing God’s Love to Homosexuals

December 5th, 2012

This summer, a website popped up entitled Queer at Patrick Henry College which is purportedly by Patrick Henry College students and alumni who talk about their struggles as a homosexual in the christianhomeschooling, and PHC communities.  When I originally saw the website a month ago, I thought it was part of an SEO attack similar to the SEO attack on Rick Santorum because of the large number of posts celebrating LGBT history.  After the website created a facebook page the school administration responded by trying to force the website to shut down, and blocking the website on the school’s network.

My initial thought is that this is an ironic response from a school which prides itself in teaching a Classical Liberal Arts education, one where students read books by people with whom they disagree in order to better understand and engage them.  Responding to criticisms of being narrow-minded by censoring a website seems to contradict PHC’s typical approach to teaching students to think for themselves.

The administration’s response also raises an issue that my generation is going to have to figure out as a result of the increasing size of the homosexual community.  How do we as the church interact with the homosexual community?

One camp says homosexuality is a sin and must be condemned.  This approach can quickly condemn the sinner for their sin.  Supporters of this view point to verses like I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10 for support pointing out the seriousness with which God takes this sin.

We should not condone or excuse homosexuality.  However, as Christians we should show God’s love and grace to everyone, including homosexuals.  The idea of loving the sinner but not the sin should apply to everyone.  While Paul does say that homosexuals (along with people who commit a number of other sins) won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven, two verses later he goes on to show the beauty of the gospel.

And such were some of you. 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.

This is the beauty of the gospel.  The gospel saves those of whom it could once be said “they will not inherit the kingdom.”  The cross is the great leveler, and all who have faith in Christ can come to faith.

Following the I Timothy 1 passage where Paul condemns homosexuality, comes one of the most beautiful descriptions of the power of the gospel to redeem the chief of sinners.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful,appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (I Timothy 1:12-14)

If the gospel is powerful enough to save anyone, do our interactions with the homosexual community reflect that?  Wouldn’t that require us to show God’s love and grace to them as we interact with them?

Would a homosexual feel welcome in one of our churches? Probably not.  Can we blame them? Tragically not.  But how can we reach those who, as a result of our actions, expected to be condemned instead of loved when they came to our church?  I am not suggesting we should accept sin, but we should be willing to show God’s love to sinners.

Ironically, we understand the necessity of this much more readily when it comes to the other important social issue for evangelicals: abortion.  Murder is regularly condemned in the same breath as homosexuality, and sacrificing infants is vehemently condemned in the Bible.  Yet the pro-life movement has learned the importance of showing love to those who have abortions, and even those who perform abortions.  We understand that we must love those who have abortions, and seek to show them that God’s love can forgive them even for aborting their child.  We understand that we must love those who perform abortions, so they too will understand the love of God and be open to listening to us. We understand this…in the abortion context.  For some reason we don’t understand the importance of doing the same thing to those struggling with homosexuality.

Imagine if we believed in loving homosexuals like we do the mothers who have abortions.

In closing I would encourage you to read the stories of two prominent Christians who chose to love homosexuals without condoning their lifestyle.  The first tells how the head of the SBC in Oklahoma overwhelmed Soulforce with love when they decided to picket his church.  The second tells the story of a gay person giving Rich Mullins a lift.  I would encourage you to read these articles and ask yourself what would a gay person think if they interact with you?  Would they see God’s love through you, or would the be condemned by you?

______________________________________

This article is not written as a condemnation of my Alma Mater, or those involved in the situation there.  I learned a lot through my time at Patrick Henry College, and I deeply appreciate Dr. Farris and the school leadership for the investment they continue to pour into students at the school, as well as their activism on many important issues.  The recent situation simply presented an opportunity to address an issue that Christian conservatives should continue thinking about.

 

A Biblical Case for Women to Have Careers

July 24th, 2012

Many conservative evangelicals believe the Bible teaches a woman’s responsibilities in the home must be so consuming that it is her only sphere of action.  They indicate that a woman’s worth ought to be so related to the roles of “wife” and “mother” caring for husband and children it is wrong for her to have a career (except possibly if she has no children or after all the children are out of the house).  There are many variants on this perspective-some more restrictive and some less restrictive.  While the question of a woman having a career could could be viewed as an issue of Christian liberty, some would want a clear command or example for women to be “permitted” to do this.  I believe a biblical case can be made for this from at least two passages.

The first passage to examine is Paul’s command to Timothy concerning widows. (I Timothy 5:3-8)  Here Paul commands children and grandchildren of widows to provide for their widowed older family members v.4 .  This command is not gender specific, but rather is a universal command to all children and grandchildren.  If Paul meant that only males should provide for their widowed parents or grandparents he could have made the command to sons and grandsons.  He chose to make this a gender neutral command.

The conclusion of this passage is a very famous verse which is very often read and applied out of context.  Verse eight says, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  People often read this verse as proof that men must be the sole providers for their immediate family.  This interpretation disregards the critical hermeneutical duty to interpret a verse in context.  Only by reading a passage for the author’s meaning can we avoid the temptation to use it to justify the beliefs we already have rather than allowing it to shape our beliefs.

In context I Timothy 5:8 concludes Paul’s command to children and grandchildren to provide for their elderly parents and grandparents.  In this context a child or grandchild refusing to provide for their widowed relations “has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  The verse five carrots of this being a way “to show piety” and something that “is good and acceptable before God,” combined with the substantial stick in verse eight make this a command to take seriously.

Now if women are to provide for their elder widowed female relations, how are they going to do that without money?  You could argue well they can just get their husbands to provide for them. Does passage say that? The initial command does not distinguish between male in female in their duty or in how they will fulfill that command.  The passage could have said men should provide, and women should get their husbands to provide.  It doesn’t.  Instead it makes an equal command to men and women by using the gender neutral term “children and grandchildren”.  Now if a woman has a duty to provide in the same way or at least a similar way men do, how will they do this without money and a job to earn that money?

This analysis is not meant to say that husbands should not help their wives fulfill this command, or that women are breaking this command if they do it through the support of their husbands.  This is simply an effort to point out that this command from Paul does not distinguish between the genders.  As Paul does not distinguish between the genders in issuing this command, there can not be a problem if the genders fulfill it similarly-with money they earned in the normal course of their careers.

I am also not denying that women should get married and raise children.  Paul very clearly commands young widows to do this in an effort to keep them from being idle a few verses later in verse 14.  However, the command to become wives and mothers does not exclude working in or out of the home for income.

Maybe I am forcing my interpretation on the text, and finding gender neutral language to prove what I want to prove.  I admit this would be an understandable response to my interpretation.  Twisting scripture to make it fit a desired interpretation is wrong.  So, does the scripture ever praise and lift up a woman who works hard providing financially for her family?

The Book of Wisdom concludes with the king’s mother’s description of a “virtuous wife” whose “worth is far above rubies.”  (Proverbs 31:10)  ” Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.'” (Proverbs 31:28-29) Clearly this is a woman we should take note of and examine as a model.  (Proverbs 31:10-31)  If the Christian conservative view of what a woman should be is true, this woman should be one who stays home and spends her days taking care of the children, cleaning house, and submissively obeying her husband.  Interestingly the description does not describe the work she does training and raising her children.  Yes, there are a couple references to her doing domestic things like “holding the spindle” (v.19), and “making tapestry for herself.” (v.22)  She even “makes linen garments” (v.24).  However, the purpose of this sewing is to sell them and profit.  (v.24)

The concept of the woman as a hard worker engaged in economic activity comes through more than any other idea.  She engages in at least ten different types of economic activity.  This woman is a business manager with servants under her who tirelessly runs a well oiled economic engine that provides the bulk of the financial revenue and material needs for the household.  “She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands.  She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar.  She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants.” (Proverbs 31:13-15) Interestingly she doesn’t just cook food for her household, but actually provides it.  This woman earns enough money and has enough business knowledge to purchase property and have a vineyard planted.  (v.16)  She makes sure she her “merchandise is good.” (v.18)  “She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants.”  (v.24)  This woman exudes independence and takes initiative.  She works harder and is just as profitable as any modern business owner.  Interestingly the only references to her husband are that he trusts her (v.11), and “he sits among the elders of the land” (v.23), and as one who praises her (v.28).  He is not described as the breadwinner and she does not seem financially dependent on him in any way.  While I am not arguing that this must be normative, the passage seems to describe the relationship of this exemplary husband and wife as one where the wife runs the economic engine of the household while the husband is involved in the affairs of the community.

You have to work to read Proverbs 31 without seeing a woman who runs a financial enterprise with workers under her that is independent of her husband and provides a substantial amount of the revenue for the household.  How can this be held up as the virtuous wife, while the idea of a woman with a career or business violates scripture?  The Bible contains both a command and example that seem to support rather than condemn the idea of women being productive members of the workforce.  A Biblical view of scripture supports rather than opposes the idea of women having careers.

This article is simply meant to push back against the idea that it is wrong and unbiblical for a woman to have a highly successful career.  It is not meant to say they must have a career or that they shouldn’t be a homemaker.  They should be free to choose to do what is best for them and their families without feeling condemned or questioned by scripture for having a highly successful job or career outside the home.

Willie Deutsch.com

Religion and Politics from a Young Christian in Northern Virginia