An “Evangelical Minister” Just Gets It Wrong

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I believe that it was Mitt Romney, in the 2012 presidential debate, that popularized the statement, “You are entitled to your opinion, you’re just not entitled to the facts.” Sadly, our cultural embrace of relativism has seemed to have erased the line between them. And no clearer evidence of that fact is presented in a column on The Huffington Post.

Pastor Adam Phillips has written a column titled, “An Evangelical Minister Explains Marriage to Rick Santorum, Dr. (Russell) Moore, and Mike Huckabee“. I have to pause for a moment because two of the people named in the title are fellow Southern Baptists, the former is the current head of the denomination’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, and the later is a former pastor and governor, and the Southern Baptist Convention often portrays itself as the largest evangelical Christian denomination, so the fact that Pastor Phillips believes that he needs to “explain” something to them should immediately raise eyebrows, and cause one to consider how much of what is to come after is possible ad hominem or other fallacious assertions. But let’s check it out for, giving him the benefit of the doubt.
He begins,
With its historic ruling on Marriage Equality Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court finally caught up to the movement of the Holy Spirit.
Whoa mule! The “marriage equality” movement is of the Holy Spirit?!
Jesus, the incarnate God, spoke of the Holy Spirit that he would send to his people, saying,
[When] (the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11, ESV)
And when I read Scripture, I’m not seeing a “movement” of the Spirit toward that which God has clearly defined in his Word as “an abomination (Leviticus 18:22)”. Unless Pastor Phillips believes that the Old Testament isn’t inspired, but then he’d have to deal with the Apostle Paul, who has said that “all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16)”, and the “Scripture” that he had primarily in mind was the Tanak, the Old Testament. Moving on.
Skipping down a few paragraphs, Pastor Phillips continues,
I am an evangelical Christian pastor (and proud of it) and I believe that the freedom bell of love and justice just pealed a little louder and the arc of history is bent a little closer to justice.
The “freedom bell of love and justice“? Pastor Phillips, if indeed you are an “evangelical” as you claim, the message that you have to proclaim is freedom from sin through repentance of sins and faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Can you define sin, sir? Can you define repentance? What is “love”, pastor? When Jesus spoke of love, commanding his people to “love their neighbors as theirselves” he was quoting from Leviticus 19:18, which is a command to call people to holiness and righteousness, and is right in the middle of his command to not engage in a variety of sexual sins, which includes homosexual behavior, and his righteous decree of death to those who willfully and stubbornly engaged in it. To quote Jesus, “Have you not read what God spoke to you? (Matthew 22:31)” Maybe you have, but somehow do not believe that it applies.
In the next paragraph, he launches an attack,
When it comes to marriage equality in the United States, the church too often has been woefully behind and on the wrong side of history.
It is a serious charge to say that the church is “on the wrong side of history“. But which history? Paul makes a clear statement in his first epistle to the Corinthians that we are not,
[to] be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (6:9-10, ESV)
The end of history is the kingdom of God, so to be on the “wrong side of history” is to be defiantly opposed to what God has clearly defined, in his Word, as acceptable to him.
After criticizing presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee’s legitimate criticism of the decision (which I have criticized as well, here) as being “lawless”, both being familiar with law and constitutional issues from their previous experience and the ERLC’s Moore’s criticism as echoing mine, Phillips says,
My conviction is that we have nothing to fear except for not catching up to the winds of change. Wind — what the Greeks called pneuma or breath  –  is what many of us believe is led by the Holy Spirit itself.
Pastor Phillips, God has spoken, clearly and has not changed.
For I the LORD do not change…(Malachi 3:6, ESV)
The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind…(Psalm 110:4, ESV)
God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind. (Numbers 23:19, ESV)
You are free to believe whatever you want, but God has spoken, which makes me wonder if you have followed the Apostle John’s command,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, ESV)
And we are supposed to test them against that clear revelation that has been made.
This statement is then made,
Too often, religious conservatives will claim that marriage equality not only redefines holy matrimony, but is against biblical marriage. But the Bible has curiously malleable, sometimes contradictory, dramatically heterodox definitions of marriage.
I really like the words that he chooses: “holy matrimony”. Holy’s 2nd definition, fits with the New Testament usage,
dedicated or devoted to the service of God, the church, or religion
Phillips continues,

There is the traditional understanding of marriage between one man and one wife, as gleaned from Genesis 2:24: “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (NIV)

This traditional view of marriage is rooted in the story of Adam and Eve, with an invitation to all their spiritual descendants to cling together and become one flesh.

Yes. That’s correct, but then he says,

But upon closer examination of the Scriptures, the very notion of “Biblical marriage” becomes a thorny mess.

He then goes on to complain about “Levirate marriage” and that if a man was caught fornicating with a virgin that was not engaged could be forced to marry her, as well as other straw man arguments that all have one thing in common: a male/female prerequisite. 

What has Jesus said on this? In the context of the the question of divorce, Jesus made this statement,

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6, ESV)

Jesus didn’t go to the Mosaic law, he went to the creation account in Genesis 1:27. That was the text he drew from. That was the ideal he pointed to, then he drew from Genesis 2,

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. (Mark 10:7-8, ESV)

The stark point that Jesus points to is that other stuff that happened between the establishment and the question, was due to the “hardness of men’s hearts (Mark 10:5)”

He then proceeds to tell a story and to ask a question,

A dozen years ago, I was a seminarian at North Park University, part of the Evangelical Covenant Church, on Chicago’s North Side. The University had just fired an out-lesbian professor for being in a committed, long-term relationship.

Her alleged sin? Being born gay.

I’ve got to interrupt, because Pastor Phillips has apparently bought into a lie himself: NO ONE IS “BORN GAY”. Behaviors are not a genetic. (see here) He continues,

That’s when I began to rethink my own long-held, traditional views on same-sex marriage and orientation.

Why would we single out a faithful, monogamous woman and not single out others for perhaps more deadly sins such as greed, avarice or gluttony?

Faithful to who, pastor? To her husband? No, because she was, as the Apostle Paul demonstrated in Romans 1,

For this reason (their embrace of a lie) God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27, ESV)

There are plenty of faithful, monogamous women and men who have closed their eyes on this life to open them in the torment that the rich man in Luke 16 did. Faithful and monogamous men and women can be guilty of the very sins that he seems to think are more important, and even more so, rebellion against their Creator who gave them their sexuality. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

He later says,

As I explored Scripture, had many late-night and early-morning conversations with friends and neighbors (many of whom also happened to be gay) and leaned into prayer, I heard the Holy Spirit’s call loud and clear: I am doing a new thing in your midst. Come. Taste and see.

These, of course, are the words of the Psalmist, who writes: “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”

I have to wonder exactly what pastor Phillips “explored” in Scripture. I have to wonder, because I read Scripture and I’m not seeing or hearing anything that he claims to see and hear. I doubt that he has seriously considered the Psalmist’s admonition to “Depart from evil (Psalm 34:14)” and that it is God who declares what is good and what is evil.

Then we come to the key of his reasoning, it was,

Because we are in dire straights as a country and society when it comes to marriage.

A 2014 Baylor University study found that nearly 17 percent of white conservative Protestants (read: evangelicals) are divorced, which is 3 percent higher than the average rate for Americans.

Talk about a clear non-sequitur. Because divorce rates among Protestants (not all of which are “evangelicals” as he insists) is high we should open marriage to those who can, in no clear sense, marry? No. Sorry. What we should do is stress the principles of marriage, encourage faithfulness, not throw it open willy-nilly. 

In his closing paragraph, Phillips writes,

As Justice Kennedy wrote in his opinion accompanying the decision: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

As I wrote in my response to the Obergfell decision, I questioned why “two” is so important now that the element that defined what “two” is. In fact, “two” is now a meaningless figure in the question of marriage, and is in fact biased against those who self-indentify as bi-sexual, or those who identify as “poly”. So much for being inclusive.

Pastor Phillips, I seriously doubt that you gave much consideration to this issue because you would rather have the approval of men than God, and as Paul had to call out Peter, I call you out, sir, because you prefer the approval of men above the approval of God and Christ Jesus.

 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:3-4, ESV)

And he tests them by the standard that he reveals in his Word.

Other related posts

A  Homosexual Walks Away from the LifestyleIs Love Love

As the Tide of Culture ShiftsLogic and Marriage Equality 

Same-Sex Attracted Writer and Unanswered Prayer

An Egalitarian View of Sin

and my response to John Pavlovitz

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