Remember WHAT about 9/11?

Almost without exception, the Facebook posts I read today have to do with “Never forget!” or “Always remember!” (Pessimist/Optimist views). The events of September 11, 2001 will be hard to ever forget for those of us who were adults on that day. I’ll never forget that it was a CRYSTAL clear, bright blue perfect sky in Memphis, TN that day. I was in the middle of Greek class with Dr. Allen Black at Harding School of Theology; wondering, “how can a perfect day yield such terror?” The hallway became all abuzz about the events of the morning, and we had to break from class and find a TV to see what was going on.

What is it that we remember? What is it that people want us to remember? Is it “never forget that psycho Muslim jihadists attacked and murdered our people?” or is it, “never forget that that day will live as a perpetual alteration to the ease of our travel and security” or something else?  Different people have differing motivations to remember, I suppose.

What is it we want to remember?

It occurs to me, that for disciples of Christ, our memory is so often a selective one that it would behoove us to stop and think about just WHAT we want to remember. Things like the events of 9/11 leave life-long prejudices against other people.  Sometimes, Christians jump on the National Patriotism bandwagon and wave the Stars & Stripes without reflecting on some important things.  My grandfather, for example, died at 83 believing that Japanese people were mostly traitors; devilish kamikazes who destroy innocents and have no real regard for human life. Obviously his worldview was painted in part by the events of December 7, 1941, the first day that “will live in infamy.”  He was a deeply devoted Christian.  But was his perception of all Japanese accurate?

What about Muslims?  What about Muslim Jihadists? Our world is mostly different now, post 9/11, that’s for sure.

But what about the most violent, evil day in human history? What about that day that the people of God – the Jews – took the son of God and brutally murdered him – one LESS THAN deserving of death… in fact, totally deserving worship, honor, and praise – they betrayed, murdered, and hated him. Their claims and evidence were completely thin, clouded by the red cloud of fury and hate.  If you’re reading this, you might wonder, “why the sudden change of subject, Drew?”

It’s all about perspective. BECAUSE Christ died, I can remember the world, and world events through a different lens.  Because Christ suffered, I can learn what it means to love my enemies and “pray for those who spitefully use you.”  BECAUSE Christ lived, I have hope and longing for the day that our re-creation into something better is possible. BECAUSE I remember Him, I am motivated to love, and not hate for others, even though some people may be full of ignorance, bitterness, and wrath. BECAUSE Jesus taught about humility and service as the means of achieving true greatness and “status”, I am motivated to love and serve even those who might betray me brutally, such as Judas did to Jesus. And YET, Jesus washed his feet that night (John 13). What was HE thinking? Knowing full well that his betrayer was sitting there, and he washed his feet. Was he extra rough with Judas’s feet, knowing what was about to happen in a few hours? Did he wash them extra thoroughly? Was he even more kind than usual?

9/11 was a day that forever changed the world. Much less, America. There have been brutal days in world history that probably equally deserve a “never forget” graphic. I was fortunate to be able to go to NYC about 2-1/2 weeks after the attack. I saw the rubble. I smelled the air – the burning metal, wood, materials, and flesh – most of the burnable materials had already been consumed by that point. For the love of Christ, we took 3000 care packages from Searcy, AR to NYC Fire houses, and distributed some love to those people.  Prayer was powerful, and I will never forget that experience of standing there, watching workers, seeing the despair, listening to firefighters tell me stories like, “see that guy right there?  He’s a walking miracle.”  I believe Christ motivates us to view the world in three ways:

  1. View the world as POST-Christian.  That is, we live after Jesus, and if we’re in Christ, we benefit NOW (and later) from the sacrifice of Jesus. His teaching changed it all.
  2. View the world as broken.  People make poor choices, and ultimately hurt others many times, because of this.
  3. View the world with hope.  Jesus gives us the future to experience now in part, and in its completion later.

Followers of Christ have a deeper motivation than “simply” care for loved ones or fellow Americans. It is a devotion that causes us to value THOSE relationships even more than we ordinarily would, since we value life from a different perspective. Today I encourage you to consider what it is that you’ll NEVER FORGET! What is the motivation for your life?

Consider John 12:23-35
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. 34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”

I hope you have a great day. Remember 9/11… but remember it in the light of the MOST important things. We are called to be children of light, to influence the world around us and give hope and change that lasts. I suspect most people would say “we will never forget” out of a sense of National Pride and Patriotism. They simply won’t forget it, or how they felt, or how it changed things. But what about the life-changing news of Christ? What about the world-changing, forever hope granting, “kingdom that will never be destroyed” kind of change that Christ brought to the world?  It’s more than National Pride.  It’s my total allegiance, my true citizenship, and my identity in Jesus.

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Review of “Sexuality and the Bible” – Huffington Post

The following is a review & commentary on the following article in yesterday’s Huffington Post (11/13/2011).
You can read the article HERE

Note that this Huffington Post article, “The Bible and Sexuality” was written by two scholars; with their curriculum vitae including the likes of Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Duke University, and Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen, Germany.  But whether brilliant, or merely the recipients of high-dollar theological education, I believe the authors of this article miss the mark on a number of levels.

Here’s my concern with articles like this; aside from a clear agenda, many of them pick and choose what they want to quote, and how much of it to include.  And hey, THIS is our modern world and it feeds modern agendas, and immoral apathy.  For example, my biggest concerns in this article came in reading the 3rd approach – where they exegeted Ezekiel and Genesis.  (skip the 1st and 2nd approaches…)  They conveniently left out the part about, “and committed an abomination in my sight” from Ezekiel’s passage in chapter 16, verse 49.  Debate can rage over just what that abomination is, but it’s clear to anyone who wants to read it, that Sodom’s problem was not a heterosexual HYPER-sexual violent rape.  In that particular case, the city was completely consumed with sexual fulfillment… well, read it for yourself:

4But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”  (Genesis 19:4-5)

To “know” them was clearly to have sex with them.  Whether hetero, or homo, it was completely NOT what God designed for mankind according to the Bible.  I agree with the writers that the main problem was violent sexuality/rape.  I do not agree with them, that their soft take from Ezekiel 16:49 is the problem there in Sodom.  If that were the case, would sitting back, taking their ease, and not caring for their neighbor result in fire and brimstone raining down from Heaven annihilating the inhabitants of the city?  Violent and harsh for a lack of hospitality, ain’t it?

Also, “It is not good for man to be alone” is in the context of the creation in Genesis 2, when he specifically created a woman for the man; complimentary, equal, perfect.  Different roles and responsibilities to be sure; but perfectly equal and correlative to the man.  Their ability to procreate showed a natural relationship that God created there, in addition to the statement that “there was not found a suitable companion/helper for him”.  Whether we like it or not in our 21st Century, American society, their society was a patriarchal one, and men had a more authoritative role than today.  Part of that is the failure of men… not to be chauvinistic or woman-haters, but leaders the way we should be.  Another part of that is the evolution of society.

I am by no means a screaming conservative, or one of those idiots that holds signs saying, “God hates gays” (or fags).  It makes me sick, frankly, to hear of those people who continue to make those of us who also have conviction look like blabbering fools.  Let’s be clear about this:  God loves everybody without exception.  While I do have personal convictions about sexuality and what the standard is for right and wrong, I don’t bang it over people’s heads at all.

I do hold a traditional Bible believer’s stance on sexuality.  But those convictions lead me to minister to homosexuals, porn addicts, adulterers, fornicators, and even men and women (with the help of my bride) who’ve bit into the internet’s cloak of privacy, that makes it easy to cheat on your spouse emotionally, lustfully, or even potentially physically.  But I still have lots of questions, and any honest student of the Bible should.  What do you do with 700 wives?  Seriously, Solomon.  Why the polygamous allowance for Biblical men of 2000-5000 years ago?  I’m not totally sure, but I also know many of those guys messed things up intended for simplicity.  Why is it that a king (a “man after God’s own heart”) would murder one of his own “mighty men” – covering up for stealing and impregnating that man’s wife and cover up his own adultery and sin?  A KING!  That was never God’s plan… but yes, even God worked through that imperfect, terrible, stupid, and immoral situation to achieve his glorious means, and the Messiah was born through that woman’s (and man’s) descendants.

Another issue I have with the article is that it almost assumes that the Bible times, laws, and writers were closed minded imbeciles, clueless about real love or relationships.  It takes on an apologetic for equality and human rights in the modern culture of sexual freedom and choice.  I just can’t accept that, being a Christian.  That doesn’t mean gays are evil; it means homosexuality is sinful according to Hebrew/Christian scripture.  In no way is it allotted for, and that’s clear to me from the Greek in 1 Corinthians – when Paul condemns so many flavors of sexual immorality, specifically the more blanket “homosexuals” and also “male prostitutes” – the givers, and takers, of immoral sexual conduct.  David/Jonathan doesn’t cut it as a Biblical example of homosexual love and affection.  Read it all.  Ruth doesn’t cut it for approved and blessed pre-marital sex.  Even if laying at his feet was sexual (in the Hebrew) as some scholars say, it falls into the same category as the David/Bathsheba situation.  Approved of, no.

The final thing I take issue with in this article, is the statement, “Fourth, we do well to recognize that biblical standards are not always our standards, and nor should they be.”  This statement is especially troubling.  If Biblical standards are not our standards, what are our standards?  Societal consensus?  If that is the case, who is to say that child pornography, rape, or any other thing that we still currently deem (societally) is evil?  What if the natural evolution of things goes to that point where sex with your mother is totally acceptable, since she nursed you, and there’s already an intimate fleshly connection with her?  Or pedophilia is acceptable?  Or perish the thought, beastiality?  Waiting for Society to determine its own standards for right and wrong is suicide.  Among other things, it was the demise of the Romans and Greeks.  The Bible’s standards are universal in the sense that they apply cross-culturally and across time; we just need to understand what they are and why.

If you’ve read this far… and hopefully you have!   I HAD to write this.  Not because of any one person, or need to vent my seething vitriol, but because I NEED to understand how Christians counter the very loud, vocal pleas of the American Human Rights agenda.  If you are reading this and are gay, I beg of you not to be personally offended by my convictions or statements.  I realize people make their own choices, and have a God-given right to that.  I am one of those who is actually a Christian minister trying to be relevant, real, authentic, and Biblical all at the same time.  But I’m sick of – hate it frankly – people making Christianity the punching bag because of some people who wield it like a flailing stick in ignorance, or enthusiastic venom to defend truth.  I believe Christianity was meant to save lives, to give it meaning and real fulfillment; not to propel an agenda.  I believe Christ died to give people who live hopelessly empty lives a chance for fulfillment.  I believe that’s how God intended man and woman to live; in holiness, and in true love and compassion to those around them; not to divide, destroy, hate, and bully-whip people who live contrary to the way the Bible says to live.

Christ died so that at the right time – the plank, the chair, the injection table, or whatever capital means of punishment you can imagine – so that we didn’t have to die that death.  He did is FOR us.  That love, that selflessness demands my soul, my life, my all.  And it demands I find a way to make the gospel real and relatable to those who least want to hear it.