Category: Theology

Somebody’s Daughter

For those who have known me for a while, you have heard of my struggles with pornography.  It is something I have fought with since I was about 12 years old, encompassing now the majority of my life.

It may surprise people to hear that my faith in Christ Jesus is not what gives me the most pause in my struggles with pornography.  I know I am saved by Christ Jesus, and no matter how much I look at pornography and lust in my heart that will never change.  All my sins, past, present, and future are forgiven.  Yes I am adding sins to that cross, but nothing can take me out of the arms of Christ Jesus.  Indeed, this situation, my continued state of struggle in my saved state is one reason why I react so negatively against antinomianism, and why one of my greater theological interests is in the theology of sanctification.

But when it comes down to that, when I am depressed against my continued sin as it relates to my struggles with pornography, what helps me the most to turn away from that evil in my life is to remember that there is a person there behind that image.   Some say that pornography is a victimless vice.  Unlike drugs or alcohol, a person sitting at home looking at a magazine or a computer screen is not bothering anyone. Lets set aside the effect that person’s action has on the people around them, especially if they are married, have kids, are in a relationship, or frankly anyone in their live.  Rather let’s look at the person on the other side of the screen.

Statistics have regularly shown that significant portions of those involved in pornography (in particular the women involved), have some kind of traumatic experience in their past.  Emotional abuse yes, but more so physical abuse at the hands of someone, whether a family member or a stranger.  This trauma sends them into a self-deprecating spiral and into a “career” which only enforces those feelings of guilt they have for something that was never their fault to begin with.

Other women get involved, at least initially, to “pay the bills”, such as struggling actresses or models trying to make ends meet.  Once in, the very structure of the industry makes it almost impossible to leave voluntarily.  They become consumable objects based on the demand of those looking at the images in magazines or online.

It is a feel good lie that those who look at pornography sometimes tell themselves, that everything is always consensual.  There even are statements by the sites and magazines that tell us this is true.  Yet how do we know?  We don’t!  Indeed there are prostitutes in this country that are all but slaves to their “pimps”, who work the streets at the command of someone else, who have no say in the matter.  In many cases all pornography is, is the filming of these prostitute encounters.

But lets say that we can guarantee beyond a shadow of a doubt that a particular website or magazine only has 100% consensual acts, that no women are coerced in anyway, and all are checked out by a psychiatrist to make sure they are not driven to this because of abuse in their past; that we can prove that that woman is doing this because they genuinely like doing pornography.  What then?

For me this comes down to one undeniable fact.  That woman is someone’s daughter; she is someone’s sister, someone’s mother, someone’s cousin, someone’s wife, and someone’s best friend.  I think how I would feel if 30 or so years in the future, after I have a family and the kids leave the house if I were to be looking at porn online and suddenly find myself looking at my own daughter!  The disgust at myself would be unbearable!  Even now, there have been times where women that I have seen on these websites have looked very much like girls I know.  Schoolmates, friends, even family.  And it bothers me!  It sickens me!  And I get worried, wondering if it really is them!  If everything is all right, or if there is some pain in their past that is driving them too this.

And then I think, does it really make a difference if I know the person or don’t?  I mean, why should my reaction be any different if I see someone I think I know (assuming it is just someone who looks like them), when those women actually have fathers, brothers, sons, cousins, friends, ect of their own!  Is it ok to look at images of other peoples daughters but not my own?  Indeed, I would not want people lusting after images of my daughter, sister, cousin, friend, even if I am not!  So why do I do it to the woman in other peoples lives?

They say that pornography is a victimless vice, but that could not be further from the truth.


Faith and Baseball

A recent interview was posted on The Gospel Coalition’s website.

Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny on Baseball, Manhood, and Faith

I admit, part of the reason I want to mention this interview is to try to goad some of my Cardinal hating friends to say or think (cause they never would actually say it) something nice about the Cardinals.  😀   However, this interview does make me think about a certain topic regarding “celebrities”, Christianity, and how we should deal with them as believers.

It is a common practice among many Christians (especially conservative Christians), to “look” for celebrities who are also Christian (and conservative).  We get some kind of giddy glee when we find one, wanting to watch their movies, listen to their music, or support their sports team.  And then that celebrity fails and falls into public sin.  Now what do we do!?  We place these people on such pedestals that when they fall, they not only hurt themselves terribly, but the shockwave of their impact destroys everything around them, including many of their “fans”.   So what should we do?

There is nothing wrong with liking and supporting celebrities who profess Christ Jesus as their savior.  What we must avoid is idol worshiping those people.  We also have to remember this when we “follow” pastors, whether they are our own or are “popular”.  The fact is we all fail at some point or another.  Some fail in big ways, some in small ways, but we all fail. And when you are on a pedestal, all your failure are “big” as they are there for everyone to see.  Hearing Coach Mike Matheny’s testimony is wonderful, but whether you are a Cardinals fan or not, we must be avoid idol worship of someone who in the end, is a flawed, sinful human just like everyone else.

What we as Christians should do, is prayerfully support “celebrity” Christians, just as we pray and support believers in our own families, churches, and communities.  Many of us don’t know what it is like to live under a microscope.  For good or bad, these celebrities are under constant observation.  Believers do this in their idol worship.  Unbelievers do this to try and find something to tarnish the testimony of these men and women.  When that something is found, believers then jump ship out of fear of what those unbelievers would say about supporters of that “fallen” celebrity.

It is great that Coach Matheny is a believer and trying to live his live for Christ.  But as believers we cannot fall into the trap of making this man something more than he is.  He, just like us, is a flawed, sinful human being.  Our praise should not be on him, but rather God.  We should be thankful that the Lord has placed a believer in that position, and pray that the Lord will use that person to glorify His Holy name.  That is prayer we should be saying about all those who accept Christ Jesus as their savior.  Soli Deo Gloria!  To God alone be the glory!

God knows I have not always been good at this in the past.  If you were to poll those who knew me about my attributes, I would wager most would have some form of “hot blooded” near the top.  One of my favorite quotes is from Braveheart where Wallace says, “I’m going to go pick a fight!”  Yea, you get the picture.  That, is the (occasionally not so) old me.  I endeavor to get better.  Not getting rid of the passions that I have, but rather I strive to demonstrate civility, even with tough issues, in a manner similar to Christ.  As should we all.
For indeed it is hard to accomplish.  There are many issues of various natures that are very important.  Some of which others would judge us as hate filled for simply believing, beyond any of our actions.  I personally believe that homosexuality is a sin.  I a complementarian, and believe that women should not serve as pastor/elder in a church.  I believe what is known as the Word of Faith movement is directly inspired by and lead by Satan.  I also believe state sponsored socialism (aka Communism) is demonic as well.  There are many more that I could list.  And in most of these, when I say that I believe in them, those listening quickly label me as someone who hates.

Indeed a post-modernism breeds this response.  If everyone is right in their own way, than it is wrong to judge other’s for their beliefs and actions.  Never mind that the whole construction of that argument is hypocritical, it is a reality that we deal with today anytime we open our mouths.  Someone usually will not like what we say, regardless of the issue.

Jesus and the New Testament warn us that this will be the case.  That no matter how nice we are, people will hate us for presenting Christ Jesus as savior.  That is a reality we cannot avoid.  It is a reality that transfers in to other areas and issues that we may express our opinion on.  However, and here is the key, we should not throw out civility just because there are some who will always reject us.

I believe that we can express certain opinions, some of which may be exclude other views (like the belief homosexuality is a sin), yet be civil about it.  Again, we know that some views may not be received with civility, but that should not change the way we act.  For everything we do and say should be flowing out of Christ’s love in us.  Christ Jesus ate with the sinners; He regularly interacted with those who were completely and spectacularly wrong about everything.  The same goes for Paul going and interacting with pagans and unbelieving Jews.  We should strive to demonstrate the same love, care, and compassion in our actions, in our speech, that Christ Jesus our savior did.  Of course we will never reach that level of responsibility for our words/actions, so long as we are tied to this sinful flesh, but that still should be our goal.

Now you might say, “What about Jesus’s words calling Pharisees vipers! Or Paul’s use of garbage/refuge!”  Indeed, I do not deny that even Jesus and Paul used strong aggressive language against others.  But here are some things to consider.  First, we are not Jesus and Paul.  They had (have) authority that we never will.  Jesus walked on water, but we never will.  Second, looking at all of the words of Jesus and Paul, their “aggressive” statements against others are infrequent.  Indeed, there are appropriate times when such statements are necessary against those who oppose us and our views.  But those times are few and far between.  They should be reserved for the most dire of situations, in places where they would have the most effect.  If not, than they become nothing more than a intellectual version of Chicken Little.  If we are always being aggressively confrontational with others, we risk alienating the larger pool of listeners, so when something of clear and great importance arises, no body will still be listening.  Aggressive confrontations are sometimes necessary but should be kept rare.

But again, that does not mean we stop with what we are saying in the first place.  That does not mean we stop calling sin for what it is, sin!  It comes back to how we handle ourselves, our actions, and our speech.  One can call out a sinner in a civil matter.  One does not need to be aggressive with everything.

Once again, I know, more than maybe anyone else under God, that I have not always achieved what I speak of here.  I usually am good at the “Do as I say, not as I do!”  But I do strive to be better, to conduct myself better, to do it in a manner worthy of Christ Jesus who is the Lord of my life.  I will not always succeed, indeed not one of us will, but that does not excuse our lack of trying.

God’s Creation

Yesterday, there was a “Debate” between Ken Ham (CEO of Answers in Genesis) and Bill Nye (the Science Guy).  I really don’t want to hash out the debate itself, but rather make some statements on what Christians should/should not think in regards to Creation/evolution.

First, how God created the universe is NOT a first tier issue.  That is, a particular belief is not required for salvation, as compared to say correct doctrine on the Trinity.  It is not even a second tier issue in my opinion.  That is, a belief that is required for like fellowship, as compared to say baptism or church polity.  It is a third tier issue, one that is fun to debate, but not serious enough to divide over.

Now that said, the second thing we need to remember is that God created the universe.  Period, end of statement.  There is no room for any Christian to believe in a non-theistic cause of the development of the universe.  Whether God started everything then stepped back and let billions of years of development take place free from His hand, OR God was intricately involved over billions of years guiding everything Himself, OR God created everything in 6 solar days; whatever way you believe, God did it.  If you say that God was NEVER involved in making the universe, then you don’t believe in God, not in any way, shape, or form.  This is why I am dumbfounded by “Christians” who oppose the concept of Intelligent Design.  People, who profess to be people of faith, argue against the idea that everything we see, all of creation, has a designer behind it.  Unfortunately, part of that may be due to flat out LIES told about Intelligent Design, arguing that ID is “just” Young Earth Creationism in different clothes.  That is a flat out lie.

Third, regardless of how you believe they got there, I do believe that belief in a literal Adam and Eve is a primary tier issue.  Maybe not as it relates to actually salvation, but definitely as it relates to “right” theology and avoidance of heresy.  Look at Romans 5.  Paul clearly believes that Adam was a literal person.  Further, Paul demonstrates the functional effectual nature of Christ’s work on the Cross.  This illustration becomes meaningless if Adam was not a literal person.  Even further, Luke shows Jesus’ lineage back to Adam.  That is hard to do if there as not a real Adam.  If there was not a real Adam, than Luke is wrong.  If Luke is wrong, then the concepts of inerrancy and infallibility are out the window.  And then, there is no solid foundation to base any religion off of.  Some things in scripture leave room for interpretation between two groups that both believe in inerrancy.  Some things do not leave such room.  A literal Adam is one of the latter.

Most liberals tying themselves to the issue of abortion rely in using the argument that it is a “woman’s choice”.  The false reasoning behind that stance aside, there is a greater, in my opinion even greater evil surrounding abortion.  If having abortion because you simply don’t want a child is bad, how evil is it to abort a child because there is something “wrong” with it?

Statistics vary, but by some estimates nearly 90% of children in the womb who are diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are aborted.  That is just the tip of the iceberg.  Other disorders, able to be diagnosed while the child is in utero, are also used to justify abortions.  And it does not stop there, as some people who want a child, actually abort because their child is not the gender that they want.  There have also been cases where parents who are having twins abort just one of the children because they only want one child.

While I believe abortion itself is an evil that invites the wrath of God, I honestly don’t think I can find words in the English language that are severe enough for my detest for these types of abortion.  No argument is able to justify taking these actions.  Those arguments that are used, in my opinion, only highlight the completely evil nature of these abortions.

People would say that such children (those with disorders), would only have a poor life, and be a burden upon their families and society.  But just who makes the decision on what defines the quality of ones life?  Quality of life is relative.  The arrogance of someone believing that they have a right to determine that a person’s life will be horrible, enough to the point that they should be aborted, before it even happens, is beyond me.  This is to say nothing of abortion child because of its gender, or taking only one of a pair of twins.

I recommend that everyone should study the history of the eugenics movement, in the world and in America, and its relation to the rise of the Abortion movement.  Margret Sanger’s goal in founding Planned Parenthood was to provide low cost abortions (and forced sterilizations) to the “undesirables” of society, namely blacks and the poor.  The eugenics movement as a whole in America disappeared with the revelation of what the Nazi’s did, and yet Planned Parenthood remained.  It is a sad testament to a time of great evil in this country.  An evil that continues to exist and perpetrate itself to the numbers of nearly 1.5 million abortions a year.

“Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.  Wherefore it is necessary to e in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.  Render to al what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” – Romans 13:1-7

“Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.” – Titus 3:1-2

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution whether to a king a one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.” – 1st Peter 3:13-15

These two texts are the core of what the bible speaks to in terms of submission to human governments.  Yet I fear many times they are misused and misunderstood used to excuse tyranny, and avoid responsibility for personal action.

Consider these words from the United States Declaration of Independence:

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed.  But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evidences a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their Future Security.”

Is there a point where, as the founders of the United States believed, that we have the duty and responsibility to rebel against authorities?  Were the founders wrong and in error?

First, consider that in Paul’s letter to the Romans and Peter’s letter, both talk about the government’s job is to punish evil and protect the good.  And yet in many places throughout history and even to this very day, Christians are being persecuted for simply being Christians.  This hardly can be considered good.  Is there a point when a government gets so evil, so repulsive that Christians have a duty and obligation to openly oppose such a government?  The founders of this country believed there was a point in which that should happen.  I am inclined to believe as such.

Please note, that none of these texts say anything like, “Unless these governments violate the word of God”.  Because of this we must ask the question, what happens when governments state that you cant worship the Christian God.  Indeed may places did and are saying that.  Most Christians I know would say, you must submit to God first, then the government.  If the two conflict with one another, of course you must submit to God and face the consequences from the government.  And yet that is not stated in any of these texts.  We must read into these texts that position.  Why cant we do the same with rebellion against unrighteous, wholly evil governments?

However, for most Americans, that is the past.  Consider now something about the present and future.  At the time of its founding, the United States was unique.  Some called it the “Great American Experiment.”  It was called as such because at the time, no other nation had truly tried a representative democracy free of a monarchy.  Citizens of the United States were given the unique (then, and to a degree still to this day) ability to participate in the functioning of our government.  It truly is, as Lincoln stated, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

If we are to take seriously the words of Paul and Timothy, if we are to truly submit to the government, then it stands to reason that we must then participate in a government when we are able to do so.  I submit, that Christians in America, if they are to follow Paul and Peter’s words, need to be active in our governments.  Simply put, they must vote.  Not just in “big” elections like ones for the Presidency, but for primaries, state, and local elections as well.  Far too many Christians avoid participation in our government.  To them, there are “other” things that are more important.  Most use sharing the gospel, and that indeed is a worthy endeavor.  But again, if we are to submit to the government, and in the United States, we are the government, does that not mean we should be active?

Consider that maybe, God gave us the opportunity to be involved in this government for a reason.  Indeed, Paul stated that governments are established by God.  Perhaps, the United States, and the freedoms we enjoy are for a reason.

“But what of oppressive governments?  Are they not instituted by God?” You might ask?  I point you back then to my first point.  Paul tells us that governments are instituted by God to punish evil and protect good.  Without getting involved in a debate over degrees of determinism, perhaps, evil governments are merely allowed (and occasionally used) by God but that Christians have no obligation to submit and follow after such governments.   Further I point to the fact that there are many governments in the world.  Are we to submit to just our own or to all?  What would happen when world governments oppose each other, how should the Christian respond?

I propose that Christians today have the duty to support good governments, and oppose oppressive evil governments.  When possible, we are to do so peacefully; and when necessary (and after all serious considerations to the consequences), to do so with force.  Such force should not be used neglectfully unless such a government risks becoming that which it opposes.

If Christians were to be active in government, either through service or through their votes, imagine what could happen!  The problem today, is that participation in elections is pathetically minor, especially in non-presidential elections.  That is what I believe must change.  I truly fear that if Christians do not start participating in this government, one day it will become something that is completely oppressive and resistant to the Christian faith.  This is something that has happened in other nations and countries in the past.  To believe that it cannot happen here is short sighted.  To believe that Christians should not do anything to prevent that from happening is dangerous.

It is perhaps one of my great regrets that I did not take any (Christian) Education classes while at Seminary.  To be fair, for sure, I was not sure on where God was leading me while I was there, so I simply earned a “basic” M.Div, and did not venture into any of the more specialized concentrations.  I defiantly now believe that is a mistake.  I have been afforded the great opportunity to lead two Sunday School classes while at my current church.  During this time I have gained a stronger and stronger passion for proper biblical education in our churches.

To be sure, the first and primary means of biblical education is, and should always be, the sermons.  Expository exegesis from the Word of God is the best and foremost means to educate the people about biblical principles.  Who can forget 2nd Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work”

However, I also believe that Churches are doing a disservice at leaving things at that, and treating Sunday School as some kind anathema.  Not all churches do this to be sure, many utilize this time Sunday mornings for true biblical education and nourishment.  But far too many churches do not.

Some churches use Sunday School as a social club.  Classes that have been together for 20, 30, 40+ years continue to stay together for no other reason but that.  “Leaders” with little discernment are allowed to bring in heretical and unbiblical “celebrities” to discuss in class (in particular I am thinking of people using people such as Rob Bell, in a positive way, in these classes).  Many churches have Sunday School participation rate that are statistically insignificant compared to attendance during the Worship Service.  Some classes contain no serious examination of biblical principles, and have superficial observations that contain no depth, no substance.  All of this (and more) is a really sad indicator of the state of Sunday School’s in our churches.

I wish I could go back and take a few classes in Christian Education, enabling me to know more about the state of affairs, and be better equipped to take a more active role in, one day God willing, leading a church down a more biblical path in its biblical education, and Sunday Schools.

Here is an article written about something that happened recently.

Bigots Slam Tamera Mowry for Marrying White

As the article points out, this is not the first time something like this has happened.  However, it seems to me, that attacks like this only happen when the interracial couple happens to be, or is assumed to be Conservative.  Interracial couples who are liberal are praised!  Indeed just look at how Barack Obama and his parents were viewed by liberals in this country.  But the second you are “outed” as conservative, then that interracial relationship is suddenly anathema!  Frankly, being “black” and Conservative is on its own something hated and despised by liberals in this country.

January 15th, is the actual birthday of Martin Luther King Jr.  In his most famous speech, he uttered the line, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”  Apparently for some, that does not apply.  Apparently, for many liberals, if you are conservative and black, you are a traitor!  Was not one of the things the Civil Rights movement fought for was for Interracial marriage to be made legal?  And yet now they spit in the face of those who make that choice, that is, they do so if there is any hint that the couple might be Conservative.

How disgusting can you get?  Racism whatever its form, is disgusting.  To the liberals out there I say this, where is your condemnation?  Where is Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton?  Where is the President Himself who was born to interracial parents?  The silence is deafening!  To the Conservatives out there I add this.  Racism is wrong!  Interracial marriage is wrong!  Unfortunately there are still “Conservatives” out there who do not think so.  Time to realize that such beliefs are demonic!  Repent of your hate and learn to accept the fact that God created ONE man and ONE woman, Adam and Eve.  We are all related, and ALL brought to salvation and repentance by the Blood of Christ Jesus (who BTW was not white)!!!  I condemn equally both sides who view race as a division in society.  I condemn equally those who hold racism in their hearts.  Have the guts to do a little bit of work, and disagree with a person because of what they believe or what they do.  Don’t be a coward and resort to hating people for the simple color of their skin!

Southern Baptists hate alcohol.  There is no other way to put it. They hate it, and in many eyes, anyone who consumes alcohol, is at best, a bad Christian.  But can scripture support such a position?

Much of the argument goes around the translation of the Greek word οἶνος.  Abstinence/Prohibitionists like to play games with this nice little word.  They claim, that this word can mean both fermented wine, and grape juice.  Convinenently, everytime something positive is said about this word, it means grape juice.  Everytime it is used negatively, it means fermented wine.  What a terrible way to interpret scripture.

I would like to highlight a particular verse that, in my opinion, tears apart the idea that οἶνος has a dual meaning.

Please consider Luke 7:33-34.

“For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’  The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’”

Now the word “wine” there is the word οἶνος.  Further, the word “drunkard” is the word οἰνοπότης, literally “wine-drinker”.  The clear context being, they were accusing Jesus of being a drunkard.  You cant get drunk off of grape juice.

Now how can that happen unless Jesus was actually drinking wine?  Surely, if he was not, He would have said “Look, this is not wine!”  But rather, He uses the reaction to John the Baptist, and the reaction to Him, which was done by the same people, to prove a point.  It is exactly as Jesus says.  John the Baptist did not drink any wine, and for that he was ridiculed; and yet Jesus is drinking wine, and He too is being ridiculed.  Jesus was pointing out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.  They rejected John for one reason, and then use the exact opposite reason to reject Jesus.  Thus the in these two verses, it becomes clear that the use of οἶνος, clearly is in reference to an alcoholic beverage.  Thus, Jesus Himself drank alcohol.

Another way of looking at the parallell between John B. and Jesus is that John was “fasting” in preparation for the coming of God’s kingdom.  Jesus on the other hand was “celebrating” because God’s kingdom has arrived.[1]

Let us look at another issue.  The case of Jesus’ first recorded miracle, the wedding in Cana, found in John 2:1-12.  I will let you read it for yourself but again, οἶνος is used here for the word translated in most bibles as “wine”.  New wine, cannot mean “grape juice” as some argue.  Look at the context.  You had a wedding where wine was being served.  Towards the end of the wedding, the wine was running out, and Jesus created some more from water.  The waiter comes and reacts harshly to the servants because this wine was saved for last, it was better than what was already being served.  Now if the “old” stuff was alcoholic, and the “new” stuff was grape juice this text would make no sense.  Why would people care what got served first?  The reason the “new” wine was served first, was because you could get away with using less of it.  Why?  Because as people drank and their senses became dulled due to the wine, they would not notice the “lesser” standard of wine being served.  They would not care.  The waiter was upset because he assumed that the “new” wine that Jesus just created was being wasted now that it was well into the wedding feast.  Indeed in John 2:10, the Greek word that is translated, “people having drunk freely”, is one word μεθύω, that is “to drink to a point of intoxication, to be drunk”.

The reason why abstinence/prohibitionists jump over themselves to argue that οἶνος, has to have a meaning of “grape juice” is because of the misplaced idea that they have to “protect” Jesus.  After if that word truly means alcoholic wine, than Jesus was getting people drunk!  Indeed there are several scripture passages that warn against being drunk.  And I will be honest, how to explain this, I do not know.  What I do know, is translating and interpreting words to avoid having to deal with “sticky” situations like this is wrong. οἶνος means alcoholic wine.  The Greek does not allow it to be otherwise.

However, we do have another verse that is important here.  1st Timothy 5:23, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”  This verse is important for several reasons.  First, earlier in 1st Timothy 3, Paul is giving the qualifications for elders and deacons.  One of those is the line “not addicted to wine”.  Many Baptists jump to use this verse to say pastors/deacons in the church cannot drink any alcohol.  But then Paul tells Timothy to drink wine.  Both words are οἶνος here.  So this is (as some argue) a case of sometimes it means “wine” and other times it means “grape juice”; hopefully you can now see how silly that argument is.  So clearly, ALL consumption of wine is not wrong, otherwise Timothy now, per Paul’s instruction, is prohibited from ever serving as an elder/deacon.  Again, kind of silly.

This verse is also interesting in light of many modern day studies that show moderate consumption of some alcoholic products (usually red wine), can be beneficial to peoples health.  Considering the Greeks and Romans were expert wine producers, it is not surprising that they would have figured this out back then, i.e. “Hey if I drink a little wine every day, I don’t get sick as often!”  Wine also would serve as an antiseptic, killing off the microbes, viruses, and bacteria that were in water of that time.  Sometimes people today forget that the “clear” water that they get from the tap or from bottles is a relatively “new” thing historically.  Unless you were healthy, drinking straight water was not a good idea.  Grape juice, would not serve as an antiseptic.  Have you watched old westerns or such shows, and sometimes after someone gets injured/wounded, they ask for some type of alcoholic beverage, usually something like whiskey, and then (usually after the “doctor” takes a quick swig as a gag) they poor it on the wound and the instruments?  You ever wonder why they do that?  Alcohol = antiseptic.  Paul is giving some good medical advise!

In the Greek, words have specific meanings.  Just because you don’t like what the words mean, does not give you the right to invent new interpretations of those words.  I demonstrated something similar in my post regarding homosexuality.  Words may change over time, but the meaning of a word at a specific point in time does not change.

So then what why am I arguing this?  Some would say I am trying to justify a reason to go drinking!  Indeed, I would say that fear of that accusation, is the primary reason why I have chosen not to drink alcohol since I was called to seminary.  But that, is not a good reason to do or not to do something.  I still do not know for sure if submission to this unbiblical position is truly being lifted.  Until I know that without a doubt, I still wont drink.  But that does not mean that I will be silent on what I view is a gross misinterpretation of scripture.

[1] Robert H. Stein, Luke. The New American Commentary. Vol. 24. (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 1992); 233.

A ME Centered World

If one were to take an honest assessment of the world, one would have to conclude that we live in a self centered society.  The trouble is, when one looks at one’s own life separate from society, most people would come to the conclusion that they themselves are not self centered.  Obviously both cannot be true.

For most, in nearly every aspect of our lives, we are selfish.  We want people to serve us, but don’t want to serve others.  We want people to give us help, but we don’t want to help others.  We want things our way, or we get mad, upset, and in many cases we even sue!  This effects our politics and even our religion.

Consider the many souls who are on some type of welfare program here in these United States.  While some to be sure are honest people, who are struggling and just hope to get enough help to get on their feet, there are others who believe that everyone else “owes” them.  In how many cities are there people on welfare, food stamps, and other programs, and yet drive nice cars, have the newest phones, and always seem to have the latest fashions?  When asked about why they spend money on these things, many will argue that it is only “fair” as “everyone else” gets to so why not them as well.  How many people use food stamps or other cash aid programs to try and buy alcohol and cigarettes rather than give their kids food, placing themselves over their own children.  Similarly, how many spend what little money they have to buy drugs, go to the casinos, or one of a hundred other things rather than spend that money where it is really needed.  And in most cases, these people then complain that they don’t get enough to keep their families fed.

Or let us turn to our religion!

For most people, we want to be entertained.  We want our pastors to say positive words of encouragement and tell us what we want to hear.  We don’t want to hear about sin, and repentance, and sacrifice.  We want to be uplifted!  We choose our churches based on what WE want.  We want a church that plays certain types of music, that wears certain types of clothes.  Many want to go to the churches that are the “popular” churches as if the number of people attending is the only way to tell if it is godly or not.  We put our desires for the “perfect” church over all else.  We base our theology over what benefits us with the least amount of work or action taken by us.

And in the end what does that get us?  The simple answer is nothing.  If the whole world is focused on themselves individually, there never is anyone helping others.  But consider, that if everyone helps someone else, odds are, somewhere down the line, you will be helped in return.  If you focus on others rather than yourself, your life is richer as a result.  Ultimately, people who refuse to do anything but to focus on themselves and themselves alone need to be ignored and forgotten.  Selfishness is not a godly attribute and will not do well with the rest of society.

I encourage you to examine yourselves.  Are you selfish?  Selfishness takes its form in many ways, and we often don’t recognize it.  We call them “preferences” and say things like “well that’s not my cup of tea”.  And then we go on to complain that pastor did not give a good enough sermon, or that the government simply is not giving us enough money to make it “fair”.  And the whole cycle of selfishness starts over again.

One more thing.

In my opinion, one of the most selfish things we as humans can do is make the assumption that if we pray, God will respond and answer those prayers.  My friends, God does not respond to us.  He does not need our prayers, and He most certainly is not bound by those prayers.  Consider, two very spiritual very dedicated Christian baseball players are on opposing teams in game 7 of the World Series.  Both pray to God to help them win the game.  Whose prayers does God answer?  The one who prays the longest?  The one who has stronger faith?  The one with better team colors?  NO!  If God Himself controls the outcome of such a game (and as a fatalist I would tend to side with He does just that), the outcome will be the result in which, in some way, He gets the most glory, whether we can see such results or not.

So you are sick, just because you pray does not mean God WILL make you well.  Yes He MAY heal you, but it is not FOR you, but it is to give Him glory.  So you pray that your finances are fixed and you can pay all your bills.  Yes He MAY bring you new wealth, but he MAY keep you poor to learn to trust Him, knowing that He will provide for you even in poverty.  It is in our prayers that we are the most selfish, asking God to serve us, rather than asking how we may serve Him!  And that is a dangerous game to play.  For we might make such a prayer, and then God sends us on a lifetime missionary calling into the wilds of Africa and we don’t speak a lick of the language, and all we have is our bible, our family, and our God to keep us safe and to do His will.