Monday, June 27, 2011

Homophobia, Choice, and Baptists

I am very happy to see Dr. Mohler clarify his remarks around homophobia. Coming back to my earlier post, the Church, by the standard definition of that word, is institutionalized homophobia. Just in case you didn't realize this, allow me to iillustrate the point further. The minute you exclude a practicing homosexual from church membership or refuse to marry a gay couple because of their homosexual choice, you are, by definition comitting homophobia. Hence, it follows that the way secular culture defines the word, the church is ipso facto guilty of homophobia. Therefore, when Dr. Mohler said we needed to repent of homophobia, I knew he did not intend to say that we need to begin accepting those who make the homosexual choice into our congregations. Anyone who knows Al Mohler knows better than this. Here is a excellent opportunity for a lesson in hermeneutics. You see, the text is not all we have to interpret in this life. We sometimes have to interpret one another. And just as context is important in interpreting the biblical text, it is also important in interpreting one another's statements. The context of Al Mohler's life is antithetical to interpreting him as saying that the homosexual choice is now biblically acceptable.

This being said, I wish I could say that I am entirely satisfied with how Dr. Mohler left things, but I cannot. The interpretation of Dr. Mohler's comment around the homosexual choice remains open and up for grabs. I pray that the men who are closest to Dr. Mohler (Phil Johnson, John MacArthuer, etc) will encourage him to provide clarity around that statement. What does he mean when he says homosexuality is more than just a choice. Moreover, what is the evidence that has compelled Dr. Mohler to change his view if indeed he has changed his view. Perhaps there is more to this statement than we can understand from our vantage point. We should exercise grace and kindness and resist the urge to assume that Dr. Mohler has moved over to the "homosexuality is genetic" side of the argument. That may not be at all what he means. In fact, I doubt that it is. One thing is certain: Dr. Mohler's comment is too vague for anyone to draw a sound conclusion without engaging in considerable speculation at this point. And doing so would be unkind and unfair to a man who has spent decades preaching, proclaiming, and defending the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3 comments:

  1. What he is getting at, I assume, is that no choice is ever just a choice. While I reject any deterministic view of human will, either Calvinistic predestination or Materialistic determinism, one cannot reject the thousand, thousand other influences on every decision. I am not a Christian just because I decided to be. My parents were before me and raised me in such a way. I am a product of a culture that, while it is not now and never was "Christian," is influenced by Christianity. It is the same with homosexuals. There are, certainly, a host of influences which propel one towards choosing homosexuality, to the point where it may not even seem to be a choice.

    I offer as a historic example ancient Greece. Although they were not "homosexuals" in the way we think of them today, almost every male in Athens and Sparta regularly performed homosexual acts and, indeed, considered their relationships with other males to be the highest form of love. Given any random boy in the Greek culture, one cannot say it was just a "choice." It is far, far more complicated.

    Recognizing that complication is just being honest, not denying God intends for couples to be heterosexual.

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  2. The idea that all ideas are the product of cultural conditioning is self-negating and requires its opposite to be true in order to actually maintain coherence. First, if it is true that all views are merely the product of the culture, then so too is that view and we cannot take it seriously. Therefore, we should reject it as a viable alternative to understanding cultural influences. Secondly, it is only possible to make objective observations about the culture if one has the ability to step outside of its influence to observe. I believe we possess this ability. We make these observations all the time, taking for granted the fact that they are meaningful.

    No Calvinist, and Dr. Mohler is one, would hold that personal sin not never a choice. I am a Calvinist theologian myself, and I understand reformed thinking in this area quite well. The Calvinist grid would reject any inference that predestination removes choice from the act of sin. If that is your understanding of Calvinism, I would say you are terribly misinformed.

    Now, I don’t believe anyone is a Christian because they decided to be. Ultimately, I do think they decided to be a Christian, but that is not what caused them to be one. People are Christians because God chose them to be Christians. He do not do so contrary to their will. What He did was graciously change their nature. He took out the stony heart, the closed mind and He replaced it. When God changes the nature of a human, they immediately place their faith in Christ.

    If I accept your example of homosexuality in ancient Greece and the alleged complexity that it introduces, I step onto the slippery slope of antinomianism. All behavior becomes a product of the culture and therefore not a choice. If behavior is nothing more than cultural conditioning, then there is no ought in that scheme. We could excuse all behavior as “non-choice” behavior. If that is the case, the Scripture has no rational basis for condemning these behaviors. Ancient Greece was filled adultery, murder, lying, and a number of sins. The culture accepted many of these behaviors while Christianity condemned them. Sinful behavior is nowhere ever excused as the result of cultural conditioning in Scripture. The message of the gospel is counter-culture! Repent! Change the way you think! And when the Christian community engaged in sinful behavior, the writings of the apostles rebuked them directly and lovingly instructed them toward a better and higher standard of living.

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  3. I write and maintain a spiritual blog which I have titled “AccordingtotheBook” and I’d like to invite you to follow it.

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