Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Answering and Challenging Non-Christian and Anti-Christian Presuppositions: Homosexuality


Note: What follows is a rough draft of role-play for presenting the gospel within the context of non-Christian challenge. This is my first attempt at this sort of writing, so please excuse any clumsiness you might encounter. I intend to make this genre a regular part of my blog. Over time, my skills should improve, I hope. Here we go!

Question

Why is there so much hate in the church toward homosexuals?

Answer 1

First, I need you to clarify for me what you mean by “the church” and then I need you to tell me what you mean by “hate.” You see, I am not here to answer or defend every action every individual who carries the “Christian” label engages in. What I am here to discuss is the formal position of the kind of Christianity expressed in the Bible. In order to answer your question to the best of my ability, I need to make sure I understand it correctly. Does this make sense?

Commentary

Asking for clarification helps you move closer to the heart-of-the-matter quicker. Secondly, you will uncover assumptions that you can challenge along the way, such as what it means to hate. Finally, it becomes clear that you are not about to defend genuinely ungodly behavior among imposters of the faith, but rather, your goal is to provide an answer for what Scripture teaches. Every attack against God eventually gets to Scripture. You may as well turn it to Scripture sooner rather than later.

Secondary Question

Fair enough. Okay, the church forbids homosexual love and teaches that homosexuals are going to be damned in eternal punishment.

Answer 2

Help me understand your point. Is your question an example of what you mean by “hate?” When you say the church hates homosexuals, do you mean they express hatred by teaching against homosexual behavior and by teaching that homosexuals are without Christ and going to hell? Is that what you mean?

Commentary

Notice that the interviewee is not allowing the questioner to introduce questions outside of a specific context. This is very important. Meaning is indelibly connected to context. Without context, meaning is virtually impossible most of the time. This method can tend to frustrate the questioner if for no other reason than you are not allowing them to manipulate the discussion. You are holding their feet to the fire and making them think. This is a very good thing.

Follow-up Question

Yes. Don’t you think it is hateful to sentence someone to hell and forbid them to marry the person they love? You are forcing homosexuals to withhold the one thing basic to all human beings: love. To say that God will send a person to hell just because they love someone of the same sex is monstrous, isn’t it?

Answer 3

Okay. I think I have it now. You think the church hates people when it teaches the doctrine of Scripture, that all men will face judgment at the end of time and many of them will be condemned to hell for their wicked behavior. Have I captured your position correctly?

Are you saying it is hateful to express one’s religious convictions?

In addition, you seem to be saying it is wrong for God to judge you for your behavior, but in the process, aren’t you judging God for His behavior? In fact, now that I think about it, aren’t you judging the church for its behavior? Why isn’t your judgment hateful as well?

Being God, doesn’t He have certain “rights” that you and I do not have? [Gospel-Point is next]

Commentary

This method moves slowly, forcing the individual to focus on their assumptions. It narrows the topic, which is essential for any good dialogue. Topic control can be quite difficult with opponents who are usually quite emotional about the subject. The reason most opponents are so emotional is that they realize they have skin in the game, so to speak. The problem for Christians is that when it comes to final judgment, everyone has skin in the game. This means emotional encounters will occur more often than not.

The Gospel-Point

Every engagement with an unbeliever is an opportunity to deliver the gospel, not engage in a debate. One of my temptations is to look for the fight, not the opportunity. This is a sinful proclivity, and we must purge it from our behavior. Often, debate is unavoidable. Scripture repeatedly instructs us to be prepared to stop the mouths of the critics. However, every debate is an opportunity to show love and give the gospel. This scenario has reached the point where we can begin giving the gospel.

Answer Continued

Jesus Christ Himself tells us that Scripture is God’s absolute truth, that it is authoritative and reliable. That Scripture informs us that over 6000 years ago, God created man in His image and His likeness so that man would honor and glorify Him in all that He does. However, Scripture tells us that Adam rejected God’s command, preferring to go his own way and indulge in fleshly lust. As a result of breaking God’s law, man fell under God’s curse. Sin, death, and suffering were the result of man’s rejection of God’s law. We all stand under that curse, not just homosexuals. However, God is a merciful God and very patient. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ into the world to pay the penalty for man’s sin. The same Scripture that Jesus said was authoritative, reliable, and holy, also says that Jesus Himself took God’s wrath, paid God’s penalty for the sin of His people. This same Jesus, God raised from the dead after His suffering exalting him to His right hand. If you believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and if you will publicly confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, repenting of your current views, you will be saved.

Summary

This dialogue is going to quickly get to the credibility of the Bible, its reliability, its authority, its nature as the very word of God. I plan to post a follow up to this little scenario and am considering putting together a variety of “role-plays” like this one to help Christians answer questions and move the conversation to a presentation of the gospel rather than an intellectual debate and one-upmanship.

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