The past few weeks have been rather stormy at Biola University to say the least.
Everyone who attends this university is aware of the situation at hand, but for those who don’t know what happened, I’ll briefly cover the situation before going into this blog.
A few weeks ago, a group came forward anonymously, calling themselves “Biola Underground.” While claiming that they are students, staff, and faculty from Biola, they also state that the group is not claiming affiliation with the university itself.
They have come forward, as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers, desiring to have acceptance and to some degree, equality amongst students. They want the freedom to be open about their lifestyles and choice of sexuality.
Until Friday, Biola had no official announcement other than claiming that it is a serious matter and they wanted to think through all aspects before making a statement.
On Friday, Dr. Barry Corey, our university president, spoke at chapel. While I wasn’t there personally, I heard he openly defended the school’s stance against homosexuality, as our school’s beliefs with the Bible align with a position against it.
I commend DBC for his words, and I look forward to watching the video myself – I will post it as soon as it is made available.
As a person who grew up in the ultra-liberal city of Portland, Ore., I was exposed to the issues of homosexuality early, know many homosexuals personally, and have witnessed the churches in Portland handle the issue both with grace, conviction, and truth as well as bitterness, hate, and shame.
This has provided insight and perspective, and I hope this blog provides both to you, the reader, as we wrestle through this issue together.
When it comes to any controversial issue of society, I believe that as Christians, we must ask three vital questions in order to properly evaluate where we should stand with our opinions on it.
1. What does the Bible, and subsequently the creator God and his son, Jesus, say?
2. How do we react in light of biblical-truth as Christians, as a church, and as people living in the world but not of it?
3. What should our actions be towards those who do not agree?
These questions are baseline, pivotal, and should lead us in our processing and decision making over hot topics within the church. If we don’t start here, we don’t start anywhere. It starts with God, his Word, and the church, and ends with Jesus, the cross, and the Gospel message.
I will divide this into two portions, first talking to homosexuals and about homosexuality, and secondly to Christians, my peers at Biola, and what I think we should do as believers.
To the Underground
First, I commend you for bravery for writing, posting, and stepping out with a convicted voice over this issue. You’re right – as a church, university, and believers, we have failed to make your voice known and have failed to be open to conversations over this controversial and heavy topic.
Being taught in Psychology and haven taken many steps in readings of research, I want to first say that I agree with you on some crucial points: God does not make mistakes, there is evidence homosexuality is part of humanity and not as much of a choice as believers argue, and that although many have tried, sometimes you can’t change your desires.
I hope that those reading understand that I’m very open when it comes to this discussion – I want all people to be pushed towards Jesus, the Cross, and His gospel message. I desire all to be freed in Christ, to spend eternity with Him, and to live a life that allows them to flourish for the Kingdom.
Many people are arguing that the fundamental issue is that the Underground has not admitted wrong or come forward with repentance and that it needs to be addressed as a sin issue (more on this later). This too, is true.
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
The Bible is littered with passages on homosexuality including many passages from the Old Testament (Gen 19:5, Lev. 18:22, 20:13) and how it led to destruction (Sodom and Gomorrah). Genesis 2:24 explicitly states that God created man to be with woman,that he would leave home and his family to be joined with her.
In the New Testament, Paul writes explicitly in Romans about homosexuality, stating “For this reason 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” (Rom. 1:26-27).
These are arguments in scripture that very openly state that homosexuality is not natural, that God considers it an abomination and sin, and that if we are to believe and follow Christ we must “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).
The Bible, and God, very openly states that homosexuality is a sin. So, what do we do with that knowledge?
First, if you truly want to be in communion with Christ, you must first admit that homosexual desires are not natural, and actions because of the desires are sinful. Just like premarital sex, lust, pride (more on this later), and legalism, it’s a sin we must put to death in order to live with Christ.
I’m not stating that if you become a believer, you’re biological DNA will morph and you will be a heterosexual. Albeit, there are cases and stories where individuals found Christ, put their sins to death, and move on to become married and have a family – but I’m not saying that you must follow the same path.
Much like a man who needs to die to his lustful desires everyday, or someone who struggles with judgmental pride, sin is sin, and we must die to it. God didn’t necessarily intend for you to be homosexual, as he doesn’t intend people to be prone to pornography and lust, but yes, part of who you are may be that your DNA is wired for homosexuality.
However, I know that it won’t be an easy journey. We do need to be open as a campus to this discussion. For homosexuals, be filled with grace and love that you may discover truth through scriptures and know Jesus. Be willing to talk about truth from a biblical standpoint, and be willing to accept what God says as truth. That’s your responsibility as an individual within the homosexual community-seeking acceptance from the church.
After reading through you’re website, there are no biblical claims to why you think homosexuality is not a sin. I would love to read your thoughts and have subsequent biblical proof. My fear is that, like many issues in the church, we as humans are prone to manipulate scripture into something we want it to be, instead of taking it is as truth for what it says.
Now onto the “fun” stuff.
To Biola University Students (and some staff and faculty):
How do we react in light of biblical-truth as Christians, as a church, and as people living in the world but not of it?
Answer: not as most of you have.
The past few weeks have become a mudslinging battle. When uncomfortable topics are brought up, the worst comes out in Christians. We tend to either run and hide (sins of omission) or go on the offensive and belittle, destroy, and condemn those living with sins (sins of commission). To say that I am embarrassed, hurt, and disappointed in fellow Biola students is an understatement.
Yes, homosexuality is a sin as I just stated above. Yes, The Underground did not come out with a heart of repentance. Yes, Biola University stands on Bible and it’s doctrines. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The immediate scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 12:34 when Jesus lashes out against the scribes and the Pharisees, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
The hearts of many were exposed the past few weeks, and those hearts are full of ignorance, hate, and anger.
How can we expect to take a progressive lead in discussions on homosexuality when we are condemning them to hell, as if it is our job and not God’s?
Refresh my memory, but if you’re story is anything like mine and those in the church, Christ met you where you were, not where you are now.
By God’s grace, I was brought into salvation when I was 14 as a young man who was suicidal, addicted to pain medications, and whose pride and lust reeked from my soul. It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but it’s been a beautiful one of sanctification and God’s grace.
If you forget this, you forget and reject the message of the Gospel – Christ came to save sinners like us and bring us into redemption (1 Tim. 1:15).
We cannot expect homosexuals to be willing to talk if we are taking the role of the Creator to condemn His creation.
Yes, stand upon moral and scriptural convictions.
Yes, the homosexual community (if they want to live in communion with Christ) must recognize homosexuality as a sin.
Yes, God hates all sin.
But most importantly, God loves His people and His creation so much so that He sent his Son to die on a cross (Jn. 3:16 if anyone needs it…).
So, what should our actions be towards those who do not agree?
1. Be loving. Don’t condemn sinners to hell because that’s not your job. You’re calling is to passionately pursue Jesus, seek the Kingdom, and make disciples and plant churches.
2. Be grace filled. Don’t come out lashing in anger and hate, or even blunt truth, conviction, and correction if you’re heart isn’t first filled with a burning passion, love, and sadness over the sin of our student body (all sins, not just homosexuality). A hard heart with soft answers does more damage than good. A soft heart with hard answers is accepted as genuine, because it comes from a source of love and care.
3. Be willing to talk, and do you’re homework. Don’t blindly argue with stale old biblical points and cliché sayings, “It’s a choice not the way you are born!” – Read up on psych articles, including articles by Christians who are smarter and wiser than you, before you make a stand.
Finally, reflect Jesus. Our goal, mission, and passion should be that we push people to Jesus and the Gospel message of the cross. Are you doing this by ridiculing or making fun of The Underground?
Realize that this is a conversation that is going to take place whether we like it or not and we have two options: make it better or make it bitter (Pastor Mark shout out.)
Just as with all sins, we need discipleship, training, love, grace, and Jesus to overcome it. We can not just sweep it under the rug anymore.
I have one more challenge, and that’s that you pray. Pray unceasing, pray for homosexuals, pray for the sins of our university and our churches, and most importantly, pray God takes charge of your heart. You may find, that you too do not know Jesus or are not walking with him.
Matthew is a senior at Biola University. Originally from Portland, Ore., he has resided in Los Angeles for the past three years. For more information or for questions, you can contact him via email and you can follow him on Twitter (@mattfier).
The purpose, mission, and goal of this blog is to provide perspective to Christians and push people towards Jesus and the Gospel message of the cross.
Never Say Never – Why Jesus Agrees With Justin Bieber
Bible schools are stereotyped to be places to become pastors and places to become pastors’ wives.
There’s no way around the fact. But wait, before you roll your eyes and think that I’m about to strum on the same old six-string chords of love, I’ll ruin the suspense: it’s not about dating. (Editor’s note: we’re aware that about half our readers just exited the page and logged back into Facebook.)
However, there is a slightly new and upcoming trend – and perhaps I’m just seeing it for the first time, perhaps it comes with age, or whatever the case – to revolt from that pattern and declare independence.
While the number is still few compared to those who are dying to date and get married, and after all, it is (ring by) spring time, there is a faint scream from people who don’t want to get married, or at least claim they don’t want to date.
Though I tend to fall into the “hopeless romantic” spectrum of feelings, intellectually and selfishly I catapult back over to the “bachelor to the rapture” side of the conversation.
As I’ve wrestled through this conversation with quite a few people, these are generally the responses and reasoning behind staying single:
“Marriage just seems difficult, and come on, I can do more for the kingdom as a single loving Jesus.”
“I like having my friends and freedom – marriage seems like an old ball and chain.”
“I’ve kept my standards and lived up to them – most people haven’t – so I don’t think I can ever find someone who can live up to the same standard.”
“I dated seriously, it didn’t work out, and it really hurt. Why go through that again when I have Jesus?”
“Girls are confusing.”
“Men are confusing.”
“It would be a financial burden on me.”
The list goes on and on. The striking thing about these responses, is that it always start off with an I statement, usually about how good that individual is, followed by a they statement, explaining what a burden the other person would be.
While I’m going to attack this ideal of the word never, I want to be clear about something – it goes much farther than dating and marriage. How many of us have heard the following:
“I’m never going to be a missionary. Period.”
“I’ll never watch porn.”
“I’ll never have sex outside of marriage.”
“I’ll never get drunk.”
“I’ll never watch The Bachelor.” (Guilty.)
There are some fundamental root issues within “Never” statements that all relate to identity issues and sin issues in a person’s heart. I’ll cover a few.
1. Pride: With all of these examples, the root of the sentence is all about the individual: Who I am, what I can do, where I will go, what I have done, my strengths, my abilities, my desires.
As I mentioned before, the justification of the reasoning is blamed on other: Who they are, what they do, where they are going, what they have done, theirweaknesses, their faults, their (evil) desires.
These statements are usually said with a demeaning and condescending heart towards others.
2. Insecurities/Worry: The second thing that jumps out about these “never” statements is the insecurities. Usually, after placing blame on someone or something else, they start to justify themselves by using excuses.
“I would be a pastor, but what about money?”
“I wouldn’t have gotten drunk, but I was tired.”
Ultimately, many of these “never” ideologies are really cover ups for fears and insecurities about the unknown. Sure, you actually do want to get married, but the fears of learning to be selfless, not knowing if you will be a good husband or wife, worrying that you will become another statistic, all lead you to the reactionary response of “I’m never getting married.”
You would go work for a nonprofit, you know that’s what God is calling you to, but ultimately $60,000 of debt is a lot of money and being in ministry won’t exactly pay it off quickly.
On the flip side, you could say, “I wanted to be a photographer, but I’ll never be as good as her” or “I wanted to be a business major, but I’m not as competitive or experienced as others!”
This is all simply worry and anxiety!
3. Idol Worship: We sing a song at church that proclaims, “Turn from your statues and idols made of gold. Rise from your knees, stop worshipping, the splinters of broken gods, turn and see your King!”
I love that imagery because it’s first scriptural and second it addresses one of the very roots of our sinful nature. “Never” statements are really revelations about the idols in our heart.
We would do ________, but really, we love our situation or ourselves more. Move out of state for college? Sure, but my girlfriend can’t move with me. Go to seminary? Sure, but being a psychologist pays more. Give up Starbucks every day for a month and give that extra money to a couple in my community group? No thanks, coffee is what I need to get through the day.
Idols of people, idols of money, idols of “needs”, idols of self.
At the end of the day, idol worship leads to “Never” statements, because “Never” statements are about us – what we can or can’t be, what we will or will not do, what we want or don’t want, and not about Jesus. Idol worship is all about us, and trying to make the created greater than the creator.
So, as with everything, let’s look at Jesus and the Cross and see what the Bible has to say.
What Jesus says about pride:
In Luke 9, the disciples are arguing about who the greatest among them is. Sidenote, if you and your friends are ever wondering the same thing, it doesn’t really matter, because all of are terrible in light of Jesus.
Jesus’ response? “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is one who is great.” (9:46-48).
While I want to stray away from the topic of how becoming last doesn’t mean becoming some person hell-bent on making sure “he is the least of these,” I do want to point out Jesus is making this point to direct us towards Him and being servant hearts. In the majesty of who He is, we are all last. None of us compare. But, there is hope. By modeling our lives after His servant-hearted life, together, we can enter the Kingdom redeemed, justified, and in that sense, first!
Also see Mark 7:14-23 and Proverbs for more on pride – specifically Proverbs 16.
What Jesus says about insecurities and worry:
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25.
What I love about this passage is that it actually connects to idols – pleasures, image, and monetary items – but more on that in a minute. Jesus calls us to live in the here and now. I tell my football players that all the time, that we need to be, “right here, right now.”
If we start living parenthetically (Dr. Thoennes alert), we start missing things. If all we do is focus on Easter Break, we will miss Good Friday, some key notes in class, and probably start zoning out from our quality friendships. If we only focus on frozen yogurt, then we could miss the wonderful strawberries at The Caf. If all we do is focus on the resurrection, and not Jesus’ birth and humanity, we miss one of the most crucial parts of the gospel. If we only think about eternity, we will miss the opportunity to bring people to Christ to celebrate with us in eternity.
So, as Jesus says, stop! Continue to seek Jesus, expand the kingdom, and look to what He is calling you to right this very moment. If you’re a student, then study. If you’re a husband or wife, then don’t just be a good husband or wife, but flourish in doing so and make your spouse see Jesus in a deeper way. if you’re a barista, make the best latte for the worst customer for the glory of God. Get the point? Good.
What Jesus says about idols:
“And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “…You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” And Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. (Luke 18:18-23).
Most pastors use this passage as way to show how difficult it is to give up money for Jesus. Yes, this is true. However, there is more. This man has an identity issue wrapped up in what he did, does, and can do. He is wealthy, probably respected, and he knows it.
His idol is himself.
Jesus calls us to lay down our idols, pick up our cross, and follow him (Luke 9:23). The earthly cost can be extremely painful.
For those that are well off, giving up a large portion of your income, shrinking down on your lifestyle, and doing it cheerfully can be hard. For those that are popular but don’t talk about Jesus to your friends because of losing their stature, then yes, being persecuted isn’t exactly a fun thing.
Picking up cross isn’t painless. Ask Jesus. But it’s worth the cost here on earth in order that we may hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
So instead of claiming that you need that Mocha Frap and a few hours of sleep instead of church, I challenge you to rethink your heart and your identity.
As my pastor once told me, we should be thankful Jesus didn’t look at the sun on the day of crucifixion and say, “You know what, I think I’ll pass on this. I could use some more time in the garden instead of this whole crucified thing.”
Jesus calls us to live sacrificially, not comfortably, he calls us to serve, not consume, and he calls us to flourish, not just live life contently.
So, instead of claiming you’ll be celibate, sober, rich, and comfortable, try to adapt to the idea that God calls us to uncomfortable situations in the least to stretch us, mold us, grow us, and help us flourish.
Stop claiming what you can do, and start proclaiming what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do.
To those who think marriage will be hard: Yes. Duh. No kidding. But after witnessing my parents and couples at church grow together, reflect Jesus to each other, and serve the Kingdom, it certainly can portray Jesus’ marriage to the church and to us in a new light.
To those who don’t want to go into ministry because you have debt will provide. Yeah, you’re going to have debt. Have faith too.
To those who think they have abilities, talents, and control: you don’t. Jesus does. We’re all warped and tainted – more like consumed – by our sinful and depraved nature. Jesus came to claim us from that.
Jesus redeems us. Jesus loves us. Jesus saves.
It’s all about Jesus.
Editors Note: For more on these subjects check out the following podcasts from Reality L.A and Solid Rock Church (Portland, Ore.).
Tim Chaddick, The Help We Need
John Mark Comer, The Art of Yes + No
Solid Rock Church (Guest Pastor, Acts 29): Missional Living in Community
The purpose of this blog is to push people towards the cross, to see and seek Jesus more passionately, and to encourage people to push the Kingdom. For contact information, check out the links on the right.