Editor’s Note: Originally published on Crosswalk.com
Writing in the On Faith blog for the Washington Post, Orthodox rabbi Shmuley Boteach claimed that evangelical Christians have “utterly marginalized themselves with their obsession over homosexuality.” Is this true? To be sure, in the aftermath of the elections, a lively debate is taking place as to whether evangelicals have been marginalized politically or, to the contrary, have actually increased in influence. But what about our alleged obsession with homosexuality?
When Rabbi Shmuley made this accusation in a November 1st debate we had on the subject of homosexuality, I conducted an impromptu survey of the audience, which was almost exclusively evangelical, asking them to respond to four questions: How many of them heard a sermon in the last year on the importance of marriage? Virtually every hand went up. The importance of devoting time and energy to the raising of their children? Same response. The dangers of sexual sin (and/or pornography)? The same response again. A sermon about gay activism? Not a single hand.
This, however, did not impress psychologist and professor Warren Throckmorton, who wrote on his blog, “While I mean no disrespect to his audience, I am not going to trust that they are a representative sample. I certainly disagree with Brown about the obsession of some evangelicals with homosexuality,” citing other examples that allegedly backed his claim.
Are the rabbi and the psychologist correct? Was my audience not representative of evangelicals as a whole? (Bear in mind that the audience consisted of people who were interested enough in the subject of homosexuality to come to the debate, yet somehow, if Throckmorton is correct, they were less exposed to the subject than those who were not there. Go figure.)
Let’s step back and think about this in terms of day to day, evangelical life. Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of sermons preached in evangelical pulpits across America, and there are thousands of evangelical books that are published, from novels to devotionals to commentaries to sermon collections to testimonies to books on doctrine, theology, prayer, discipleship, marriage, family, childrearing, worship, education, politics, missions, abortion, social action, and more. There is an almost endless stream of evangelical radio and TV shows, with millions of hours of programming, and there are hundreds of evangelical Bible schools, ministry training centers, colleges, universities and seminaries, offering thousands of courses between them.
Of all those sermons, books, radio and TV shows, and college and seminary classes, how many are focused on homosexual issues? Less than 1% would be a fairly good estimate; less than 10% could be absolutely guaranteed. (I invite Rabbi Shmuley or Prof. Throckmorton to challenge this estimate based on a survey of any of the data just mentioned, some of which is readily available.)
What about pro-family organizations like Focus on Family? Haven’t they been obsessed with homosexuality? Actually, under the leadership of Dr. James Dobson, who stressed the importance of evangelicals being involved in the political process, less than 3% of the Focus budget was devoted to homosexual issues, including funds that were designated to help people overcome same-sex attraction. So, out of a budget that reached $130 million, less than $4 million was devoted to homosexual issues. Contrast this with the budget of an organization like the Human Rights Campaign, devoted entirely to promoting gay activism, and topping $35 million in 2010. Yet it is evangelicals who are allegedly obsessed with the issue?
As for evangelical voting in the elections, it is true that certain moral issues are important to evangelicals, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, but for better or worse, issues like the economy or the reach of the government play a much more dominant role, as seen in the recent elections. Plus, how much of our time and energy is spent voting or politicking?
The truth be told, it is actually gay activists who are obsessed with homosexuality (which is no surprise, since from their perspective, this is who they are and they are fighting a battle for equality and civil rights), and they are often joined in their obsession by an all too-willing media, which is also obsessively focused on anyone who takes a public stand against gay activism. And so, virtually every day, we hear about the move to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, or about gay teen suicides, or about the fight for same-sex marriage in the courts, or about gay-focused legislation like the Hate Crimes Bill or ENDA, or about some other gay-related story. And from another angle, as noted by Time Magazine‘s Michael Kinsley, “Kids are also exposed constantly to an entertainment culture in which gays are not merely accepted but in some ways dominant. You rarely see a reality show without a gay cast member, while Rosie O’Donnell is a coveted free agent and Ellen DeGeneres is America’s sweetheart.”
For the last two years, our president has officially recognized June as Gay Pride Month, and in 2009, he welcomed 300 gay activists to the White House to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots (“This is your house,” he said to them). In the business world, 300 of the nation’s biggest companies earned perfect scores from the Human Rights Campaign by kowtowing to their demands, while on our campuses, college professors have been fired and students expelled for expressing differences with homosexual practice. Yet the moment we draw attention to today’s pervasive obsession with homosexuality or raise an objection to the queering of America, we are immediately accused of being obsessed. How convenient!
So let the truth be told. It is gay activists and their allies, not evangelicals, who are obsessed with homosexuality. We evangelicals are simply holding our moral ground.
Dr. Michael Brown is the host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, “The Line of Fire,” and author of the forthcoming book A Queer Thing Happened to America
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The Western nations again need to witness a community of a unique kind, a community possessed by a King and His Kingdom – a demonstration that God is fashioning something here on earth for His eternal glory and the ages to come. Consider the impact – a Holy Sprit possessed generation, living out His life on the earth, for God’s ultimate glory.
Jesus Himself was consumed and possessed!
Proverbs 8: 22 – The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. (KJV)
John 2: 17 – Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
Consider this, that the Son of God was consumed and possessed with the Spirit of God and with the zeal of the Lord! At the age of twelve He was sitting with the scribes discussing the things of Old Testament scripture. Then at the beginning of His ministry He is charged by the Holy Spirit and led into a season of fasting. He said that His food was to do the will of His Father. Yes, Christ was the Son of God and yet He came as a man. Not only that but Jesus was a young man who was tempted in every point as we, and is now a high priest who knows our weaknesses. In all this He perfectly carried out the will of the Father with passion. Why? Because He was possessed by the Spirit of God constantly and completely.
In this generation of secularism within the Church where young men and women no longer have ‘heroes in the faith’ to imitate, then I say look unto Jesus Christ! – a young man who carried out His Father’s will and is now exalted! He carried out all of this, for He was a man consumed, possessed and saturated by the Spirit of God and the will of His Father! Young people, imitate Him! Don’t be consumed with passion for the things of this world which rob us of true identity and purpose but be possessed with Him! Let zeal for His house, His will and His Life consume you.
The surface level of merely acknowledging Christ can become a deep consuming knowledge of Him.
There must be countless thousands of people who went through their younger years in a mere state of acknowledgment, yet regret the wasted years that God could have used in impacting their generation. I am convinced among today‘s present young generation that there are still those seemingly going through the motions of ‘Christian life as they know it’, without ever knowing the inner reality of God in their lives. I was one of those until God took a hold of me and led me and others through a time of deep disturbance from Him. During the Brownsville Revival, God took thousands of us young people and broke up the hard ground of our hearts and gave us hearts of flesh and a love for God beyond anything we had ever known. Even now, those of us touched by that revival should still evaluate our lives, and ask God if He still gloriously possesses us in a way that dominates our thinking and passion.
The very thing I am attempting to convey to you is best described in the following scriptures. In John 20 we read the powerful account of Mary’s encounter with the risen Christ. I had always wondered about this story and meaning until the Lord spoke to me regarding it one day. Below are some notes I wrote of my own and collated from what I had read from others at that time:
i. His command, “Touch Me not,” is used in the present continuous tense, that is, it is to be understood as meaning “Do not hold Me” or “Do not cling to Me” (Jesus is not telling her not to touch Him per se, for we read the disciples had to touch Him later for proof of His resurrection.)
ii. He diverts her from the desire for previous relationship and conversation with Him at that moment of time. (Maybe she thinks Christ is risen in the similar state to Lazarus and will remain with them.)
iii. ‘For I am not yet ascended,’ He says, “unto the Father.” The former sporadic interaction is to be replaced by the new and continuous relationship in the heart that takes place in a deeper sense than before, but this cannot be until He is with the Father.
iv. Christ is not there for restoring external things but for reconciling men to God. He says, “Touch me not.” Or – “Don’t hold on to your previous limited knowledge of me. A new day has dawned!” (My words.) “For, though I am not yet ascended, go to my brethren, and tell them, I am to ascend.’’ Jesus wants His disciples to look higher than his bodily presence, and look further than the present state of things and to now know HIM by His Spirit.
In other words, at Christ’s resurrection a deeper form of communion with Him could begin to be known. Now the possibility exists of a relationship beyond the mere external knowledge about Him, to a consuming union with Him. Awesome, glorious work of the Christ and Spirit! Young Christian you are called to know this!
Is this the kind of relationship you presently have with the Lord? Leader, is this the kind of discipleship you seek to instill in the young people you lead? I speak from personal experience that the young people you disciple will only become what you yourself are. This is Christian discipleship of the unique kind, where the Spirit of Christ within forms and fashions His vessels of honour. This is the Jesus way – the way in which He Himself was possessed and consumed, so He now calls us to such a union. For a true move of God of revolutionary proportions, this is the only kind of discipleship – where Christ‘s nature is possessing our hearts, and we determine to follow! I finish with the words of C.T. Studd:
What a life the Spirit lives out in us when He possesses us. It is so simple too: just to remember ‘I have been crucified with Christ,’ I am dead. ‘It is no longer I that live, but Christ that liveth in me.’ My part is just to let Him live in me.
Ibid. P424 – 425. Not directly quoted but was blessed as God spoke to my heart about this story, that Henry had compiled thoughts of a similar kind.
C.T. Studd – Cricketer and Pioneer, Norman Grubb (Lutterworth Press 1933) Quote taken from Chapter 6: P48
For more on this topic, see Andrew Yeoman’s book Jesus Ministry
, available at Amazon.com by clicking here
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