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A View from the Altar / Somewhere between chains and chaos
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Somewhere between chains and chaos

It’s customary in the Bible-belt South for churches to host bridal showers.  In the days of yore, that was easy.  Respectable people got married only once and had children no fewer than nine months later.  Somewhere about the seventh month of pregnancy, they’d host a baby shower to deal with the whole diaper scene.

Now churches have to consider whether to host a shower for the second and third marriages.  They have to consider whether to host baby showers for unwed mothers, and then they have to consider that again when the second and third children come along from as many fathers.  Then they have to consider the bridal shower again when the current heads of a family of five decide to go ahead and get married after all.

Next they’ll be deciding whether to host bridal showers when two men get married.  And after that, they’ll have to consider what to do about threesomes.

Well over a century ago, Mr. Spurgeon warned England about where English Christianity would end up if it continued on the down grade.  Once the church starts to lower its standards, there’s no place to stop it.  His contemporaries could see only that if they nudged their individual congregations a quarter inch toward accommodating an opponent, it opened up possibilities for growth, reduced controversy, made peace, and brought the smiles of their society.  Today, England might as well be officially an atheist state.  Or a Moslem one.  Or one devoted to Bacchus.

We in America are well along the same down grade.  Our compromises have taken only a wee bit longer to tell on us, but the effects are being felt.  The big issues on our agenda relate to sex, family, and marriage.  Some conservative preachers are interpreting the Gospel to mean that Christians ought to be accepting of shack-ups and homosexuals and all the rest.

It is easy to explode this kind of thinking with a well placed question or two.  To those who suggest we should smile benignly upon the homosexual in hope that a placid demeanor will bring him to repentance, what about treating the pedophile the same way?  And after that, what about the felon who was running a ranch of farm animals so his perverted friends could visit the pigs and horses?

Conservative preachers need to regain their moral vision.  (Rev 3:18)  There is no clear stopping place between surrendering this moral standard, and the next, and the next, until you have surrendered them all.  James warns us that the law stands or falls as a whole because it all stands on the same authority: God’s Word. (James 2:10-11)

No, I don’t advocate legalism.  Salvation is all of grace and none of man.  It is God’s gift, and the debt is paid in full at Calvary.  No question about that at all.

But I oppose anarchy and moral chaos, or if you prefer the fifty cent theological term, antinomianism.   What preachers need to remember is that the establishment of the Gospel did not abolish the holiness of God.  He still calls his people to lead lives that are clean and upright.  “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Cor 7:1)

I know why this doesn’t make for popular preaching.  And I fully understand that you simply cannot build a megachurch in modern America while preaching biblical standards of sexual morality.  But men of God have a higher calling than success.  They are called to be faithful to the word, in David Wells’ memorable phrase, brokers of truth.  We can’t be judged faithful if we leave off the hard parts.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. Ole Rocker

    Well done! Tricia and I were walking a beautiful trail yesterday evening and were discussing these very issues. She is teaching health and physical education at a Christian school and we were discussing how petting is the same as “playing married” as well as how young people (and this goes for all unmarried adults a well) should respect the virginity of the opposite sex.
    I hope that there is true revival in America soon or we will continue to slide into being no different than Sodom and Gomorrah.

    Posted on 22-Apr-10 at 6:19 am | Permalink
  2. Well,…hello Steve – Ole Rocker -! It’s nice to see your comment here — maybe I’ll see more folk I used to chat with since ABC has closed.

    I don’t know how you do it, Bro. Steve… these are some of the very issues that led me away from the Protestant Church toward the fullness of Orthodoxy, where doctrine has not changed in over 2000 years.

    My views are still changing, or, I should say, being set aright – take my views on women for example. I’m an outspoken gal in every facet of my life (unfortunately, sometimes) and as such have applauded equal rights for women, women pastors, women doing the jobs of men… even falling for the lie that women are somehow “giving up” a lustre career to raise the children, as if this were some menial, punishing task.

    I was so wrong.

    I embrace now more than ever St. Paul’s words of exhortation for women to respect their husbands and husbands to love their wives. I see how beautiful it is the role each plays in the sacrament of marriage…and what a tangled dry wilderness the feminist movement has taken American women into. Men no longer know how to act as men, confused about their role as head of the household.

    And women, too, do not know – do not have a clue – about the joy, the beauty, the awesome privilege of raising her children, managing her household and honoring her husband as the Proverbs 31 woman exemplifies…

    Stay the course, Bro. Steve … “popular” preaching tickles ears and weakens souls.

    Posted on 25-Apr-10 at 23:27 pm | Permalink

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