Welcome to the Pastor’s Blog. Unlike most blogs, you won’t find too many personal ramblings. Rather, I’ll be posting articles by other Christian writers that I hope will help you think through issues that are pertinent to Christians today.
Sad article on the persecution of Christians in the USA on the issue of sexuality.
From: Anthony Chew
Subject: This is How Religious Liberty Dies — The New Rules of the Secular Left
Another important article of the clear and present challenges before us…
This is How Religious Liberty Dies — The New Rules of the Secular Left
by Albert Mohler | April 7, 2015
The vast high-velocity moral revolution that is reshaping modern cultures at warp speed is leaving almost no aspect of the culture untouched and untransformed. The advocates of same-sex marriage and the more comprehensive goals of the LGBT movement assured the nation that nothing would be fundamentally changed if people of the same gender were allowed to marry one another. We knew that could not be true, and now the entire nation knows.
The latest Ground Zero for the moral revolution is the state of Indiana, where legislators passed a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Gov. Mike Pence then signed into law. The controversy that followed was a free-for-all of misrepresentation and political posturing. Within days, the governor capitulated to the controversy by calling for a revision of the law — a revision that may well make the RFRA a force for weakening religious liberty in Indiana, rather than for strengthening it.
Business, political, and civic leaders piled on in a mass act of political posturing. The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act became law in 1993 in a mass act of bipartisan cooperation. The Act passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and with 97 affirmative votes in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law, celebrating the Act as a much needed protection of religious liberty. Clinton called religious liberty the nation’s “first freedom” and went on to state: “We believe strongly that we can never, we can never be too vigilant in this work.”
But, that was then. Indiana is now.
Hillary Clinton, ready to launch her campaign for President, condemned the law as dangerous and discriminatory — even though the law in its federal form has not led to any such discrimination. Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the pages of The Washington Post to declare that the Indiana law “would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors.” For its part, The Washington Post published an editorial in which the paper’s editorial board condemned a proposed RFRA in the state of Georgia because the law would prevent the state government “from infringing on an individual’s religious beliefs unless the state can demonstrate a compelling interest in doing so.”
So, The Washington Post believes that a state should be able to infringe on a citizen’s religious liberty without a compelling interest? That is the only conclusion a reader can draw from the editorial.
The piling on continued when the governor of Connecticut, Dannel Mulloy announced that he would even forbid travel to Indiana by state officials, conveniently forgetting to mention that his own state has a similar law, as does the federal government. The NCAA piled on, as did a host of sports figures from across the country. More than one pundit pointed to the irony of the NCAA trying to posture on a question of sexual morality, but the pile-on continued.
Law professor Daniel O. Conkle of Indiana University stated the truth plainly when he said: “The reaction to this law is startling in terms of its breadth–and to my mind–the extent to which the reaction is uninformed by the actual content of the law.” Similarly, University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock, a proponent of gay marriage, stated: “The hysteria over this law is so unjustified.” He continued: “It’s not about discriminating against gays in general or across the board . . . it’s about not being involved in a ceremony that you believe is inherently religious.”
Nevertheless, the real issue here is not the RFRA in Indiana, or Arkansas, or another state. The real issue is the fact that the secular Left has decided that religious liberty must now be reduced, redefined or relegated to a back seat in the culture.
The evidence for this massive and dangerous shift is mounting.
One key indicator is found in the editorial pages of The New York Times. That influential paper has appointed itself the guardian of civil liberties, and it has championed LGBT causes for decades now. But the paper’s editorial board condemned the Indiana law as “cover for bigotry.” The most chilling statement in the editorial, however, was this:
“The freedom to exercise one’s religion is not under assault in Indiana, or anywhere else in the country. Religious people — including Christians, who continue to make up the majority of Americans — may worship however they wish and say whatever they like.”
There you see religious liberty cut down to freedom of worship. The freedom to worship is most surely part of what religious liberty protects, but religious liberty is not limited to what happens in a church, temple, mosque, or synagogue.
That editorial represents religious liberty redefined before our eyes.
But the clearest evidence of the eagerness of the secular Left to reduce and redefine religious liberty comes in the form of two columns by opinion writer Frank Bruni. The first, published in January, included Bruni’s assurance that he affirmed “the right of people to believe what they do and say what they wish — in their pews, homes, and hearts.” Religious liberty is now redefined so that it has no place outside pews, homes, and hearts. Religious liberty no longer has any public significance.
But Bruni does not really affirm religious liberty, even in churches and in the hiring of ministers. He wrote: “And churches have been allowed to adopt broad, questionable interpretations of a ‘ministerial exception’ laws that allow them to hire and fire clergy as they wish.”
The ability of churches to hire and fire ministers as they wish is “questionable.” Remember that line when you are told that your church is promised “freedom of worship.”
But Bruni’s January column was merely a prelude to what came in the aftermath of the Indiana controversy. Now, the openly-gay columnist demands that Christianity reform its doctrines as well.
He opened his column in the paper’s edition published Easter Sunday with this:
“The drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called religious freedom laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision. They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree, of what people can and cannot divine in regard to God’s will.”
Bruni issued an open demand that evangelical Christians to get over believing that homosexuality is a sin, or suffer the consequences. His language could not be more chilling:
“So our debate about religious liberty should include a conversation about freeing religions and religious people from prejudices that they needn’t cling to and can jettison, much as they’ve jettisoned other aspects of their faith’s history, rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.”
There you have it — a demand that religious liberty be debated (much less respected) only if conservative believers will get with the program and, mark his language, bow to the demands of the modern age.
Christianity and homosexuality “don’t have to be in conflict in any church anywhere,” Bruni declared.
He reduced religious conviction to a matter of choice:
“But in the end, the continued view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a decision. It’s a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing. It disregards the degree to which all writings reflect the biases and blind spots of their authors, cultures and eras.”
So the only religion Bruni respects is one that capitulates to the modern age and is found “rightly bowing to the enlightenments of modernity.”
That means giving up the inerrancy of Scripture, for one thing. The Bible, according to Bruni, reflects the biases and blind spots of the human authors and their times. When it comes to homosexuality, he insists, we now know better.
This is the anthem of liberal Protestantism, and the so-called mainline Protestant churches have been devoted to this project for the better part of a century now. Bruni applauds the liberal churches for getting with the program and for revising the faith in light of the demands of the modern age — demands that started with the denial of truths such as the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Christ, miracles, the verbal inspiration of Scripture, and other vital doctrines. The liberal churches capitulated on the sexuality issues only after capitulating on a host of central Christian doctrines. Almost nothing is left for them to deny or reformulate.
It is interesting to see how quickly some can get with the program and earn the respect of the secular gatekeepers. Bruni cites David Gushee of Mercer University as an example of one who has seen the light. “Human understanding of what is sinful has changed over time,” Bruni quotes Gushee. Bruni then stated that Gushee “openly challenges his faith’s censure of same-sex relationships, to which he no longer subscribes.”
But David Gushee agreed with the church’s historic condemnation of same-sex relationships, even in a major work on Christian ethics he co-authored, until he released a book stating otherwise just months ago. Once a public figure gets with the program, whether that person is David Gushee or Barack Obama, all is quickly forgiven.
Bruni also notes that “Christians have moved far beyond Scripture when it comes to gender roles.” He is right to understand that some Christians have indeed done so, and in so doing they have made it very difficult to stop with redefining the Bible on gender roles. Once that is done, there is every reason to expect that a revisionist reading of sexuality is close behind. Bruni knows this, and celebrates it.
Taken together, Frank Bruni’s two columns represent a full-throttle demand for theological capitulation and a fully developed reduction of religious liberty. In his view, stated now in full public view in the pages of The New York Times, the only faiths that deserve religious liberty are those that bow their knees to the ever most costly demands of the modern age.
It is incredibly revealing that the verb he chose was “bowing.” One of the earliest lessons Christians had to learn was that we cannot simultaneously bow the knee to Caesar and to Christ. We must choose one or the other. Frank Bruni, whether he intended to do so or not, helps us to see that truth with new clarity.
9 Apr 2015
Just to let you know that the 3rd service has finished studying the book of Mark.
We are starting on the book of Romans this Sunday.
We have also had Bilingual translation over the last few Sundays for someone’s parents as well. If you are interested in having Bilingual sermons, please let me know so that we can continue the translation.
Please invite your friends to come along.
7 Apr 2015
The Project Timothy talks begin at the end of this month.
In order to allow you to attend, there are no Bible studies planned for the week.
Topics will be talks on
· the book of Acts;
Please sign up. Early bird has been extended. (Sorry I didn’t send you earlier, but I didn’t want to distract from the Good Friday and Easter events).
6 Apr 2015
Lee Kuan Yew passed away last week.
How should we respond as Christians? What does the Bible say about our reaction to his death?
To answer these very important questions, I wrote a Christian reflection on his death.
Please take time to read it and I hope that it is helpful in guiding you in your Christian living.
3 Apr 2015
Ian from OMF will be sharing on the work in Vietnam next Sunday, 29 Mar, after the 1st service.
Ian’s role in Vietnam is to lead the 20 OMF missionaries there, who are involved in a variety of different things (university teaching, language teaching, business, hospice care, ministry training, etc.) all with a vision to see the church multiply in this very needy country (particularly in the North where there are less than 0.1% Christians among 30 million people).
See also the attached brochure for more information on the work in Vietnam.
Do stay back / come early to hear more from Ian! 🙂
26 Mar 2015
I read recently that just as we are sad when someone we know loses their memories due to old age, dementia or Alzheimers, so it should sadden us when we don’t remember our Christian past.
In light of this, I have attached 2 articles on the life and ministry of George Whitefield, whom many regard as the greatest English preacher in history.
Please have a read when you have time. I am sure you will be very encouraged both by his life, doctrine and ministry.
12 Feb 2015
Stories about self-control and longing, and a four-week plan to protecting your family online.
From Critical Steps to Online Purity, Pure Minds Online, January 2015
30 Jan 2015
We just had our monthly prayer meeting last Sunday and Meng Kit shared about the dangers of prayerlessness.
Here is a good article if you are struggling with your prayer life.
I found it very helpful.
27 Jan 2015
Further to the theme of this year to “read the Bible profitably”, I came across this very insightful article.
It highlights how many Christians and churches would much prefer to hear application instead of the Bible.
Please read it when you have time.
26 Jan 2015
Happy new year to everyone. May God continue to watch over you and keep you
strong in Christ Jesus our Lord and Saviour.
Someone sent me this interesting article from the newspaper on how science
is increasingly making the case for God.
Please have a read if you are interested.
1 Jan 2015
Someone just sent me this excellent article from John Piper’s website. It is quite helpful especially in light of Philippians (even if you haven’t watched the Hobbit movie). 🙂
Really hope we can all be committed to loving one another, and helping each other to do so – even when things get tough and tense.
31 Dec 2014
We recently had 2 talks on God’s view on sex and sexuality.
Here are two good articles for your reading.
Traditional Sexuality, Radical Community – Many churches are committed to a biblical sexual ethic but few, I’m afraid, make living out that ethic possible for the average person dealing with same-sex attraction.
Sex and the Single Woman
Nothing makes God look as beautiful as when we, who have tasted his goodness, would use our lives to testify that we will forego any momentary joy in order to taste more of him.
10 Nov 2014
As we have been learning from God’s word in Philippians recently, we must continue to serve God in preaching the gospel and conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly…The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Philippians 1 12-14
In light of this, I would like to draw your attention to this letter sent by the National Council of Churches in Singapore. It is sent out on behalf of the Bible society of Singapore to help the vulnerable and weak affected from the war in Syria and Iraq and also in spreading God’s word.
Warm greetings in Christ!
Further to Bishop Dr Wee’s letter on 12 September 2014 to the churches regarding the crisis in Iraq and Syria, we are pleased to inform you that the Bible Society of Singapore has applied and received a permit from the Commissioner of Charities in Singapore to raise funds for the people suffering under the crisis through the Bible Society of Lebanon. The fund raising exercise will terminate on 12 Dec 2014.
Attached is the appeal letter from the Bible Society of Singapore. Please communicate the needs of the people suffering under the crisis in Iraq and Syria to your members.
Please pray and help those organisations who are actively providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq and Syria with your generous financial support.
Serving with you,
Elder Richard Chong
Executive Secretary , NCCS
2015 is just around the corner!
In order to help the leaders with planning for next year, we need your help.
Could you please suggest:
What books of the Bible you would like to study?
Any topics you would like to study?
Any areas in which our church can improve in helping each other grow in Christ and in fellowship and care for one another?
Any activities you might think would be helpful?
I would be grateful if you would reply to me by the end of October latest.
8 Oct 2014
Just a reminder that we are starting our 3rd service at 4:30pm this Sunday.
30 Sep 2014
I recommend this conference very highly.
Please pass this on to anyone who you know is studying in Australia or intending to.
Dear brother/ sister-in-Christ
Do you have students in your church who are studying in Australia? If so, we would like to tell you of a conference that is specially tailored for them!
What is Impact Australia?
It is a conference for Christian Singaporeans studying in Australia; to
- Challenge them to live for the gospel in Australia
- Connect them with good student groups and churches in Australia
A student’s university stint is often a unique time to grow, as it brings along big questions and decisions. This is even more so for overseas students entering a season of change and excitement. We want to grab this opportunity and help students use this time to grow in Christ. So Impact is about challenging and connecting them, for the purpose of building them up to serve God better in Singapore and beyond after graduation.
Who should come?
Students heading to Australia in 2015, already studying in Australia, or even graduating from Australia!
When: 8-9 Jan 2015
Where: The Diocesan Center at St Andrew’s Village
Speaker: Ben Ho, Pastor at Chinese Christian Church Brisbane
Program: Gospel-charged talks on 2 Timothy; small-group time with others from your campus; workshops on ‘Guidance’, ‘Choosing a church’, ‘Gospel and time management’, ‘How to listen to sermons’; time to chill out and play games with mates and new friends; time to hear and share experiences of studying in Australia.
Day Rate – SGD $40
Cost: Early Bird Price (till 30 Nov) – SGD $50; Normal Price – SGD $60;
Registration: Opens 20 Aug 2014. Link is:
* Promotional video, which can be found at http://www.impactconference.info/australia.html
* Facebook page, which can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/events/814566381897717/?context=create&ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming&source=49
We hope that many of your students heading to Australia will be helped by this conference and that in building them up, we will be also helping to build up local churches in Singapore. So it will be great if you could forward this information to your students, or advertise this in church, and encourage them to come! We have attached our flyer for this purpose.
Thank you, and if you have questions about Impact, please do email us back at
Impact 2015 Committee
3 Sep 2014
I wrote these articles for the EP express that are helpful: Protecting our congregations from the lure of Gambling, Why bother with Expository preaching?, Husbands and Wives: Avoid promiscuous people, love your spouse, Why I gave up on Facebook.
We had a good time praying for Christians in Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt yesterday.
18 Aug 2014
Pray for persecuted Christians in Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt
Someone suggested that it would be helpful if there was an outline of what to pray for.
Please pray for:
- Lasting and permanent peace to come to these troubled lands.
- Physical protection for God’s people during these times of trial. That they will not face violence, bloodshed and intimidation.
- Pray especially that believers will continue to be strong in their faith and continue to trust in God.
- Pray for aid and help to those who do not have food, water, shelter and are in need of clothing.
- Pray for the wisdom for the leaders of these countries and global leaders to seek a solution to the various crisis facing these lands.
- Pray for impartiality and fairness by the police, army and courts in their treatment of Christians in these lands. Pray that justice may come on those who perpetrate crimes and evil.
- Give thanks for the muslim neighbours who have helped, supported and sheltered Christians during these times.
- Pray that many of those who are persecuting Christians will repent and be saved in Christ Jesus.
18 Aug 2014
Following the sharing at church some Sundays ago, this is a follow up which we can be praying for.
The House of Islam has many rooms (regions). On this last week of Ramadan we zoom in on the Arab world. Before the Gospel was expressed in English, French, or Spanish it was in Arabic, yet today the Arab world is known as the world’s most oppressive region. Waves of protests recently swept 19 of its 22 nations, toppling governments and bringing this region to the boiling point. As violence and terrorism intensify, many are searching for truth. Countless numbers are turning to Christ, even at great cost.
Join us this last week of Ramadan in praying for these nations and the hundreds of millions of Muslims who live there.
* Monday – Egypt
* Tuesday – Gaza Strip & West Bank
* Wednesday – Jordan
* Thursday – Saudi Arabia
* Friday – Yemen
* Saturday – United Arab Emirates
* Sunday -Lebanon
Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and/or simply visit us at prayercast.com to continue with us on this prayer journey across the Muslim world.
Together let’s watch and pray,
The Prayercast Team
a ministry of OneWay
28 Jul 2014
This is another issue that has been making its rounds in the newspapers – the decision by the Church of England to ordain Women Bishops.
I have attached another article which examines the decision.
This fits into our study of Amos where God’s people choose to compromise obedience to His word and follow the practice of the people around it instead.
‘Get with the Program’ — The Church of England Votes to Ordain Women Bishops. By Albert Mohler
Writing about the age of John Milton, the British author A. N. Wilson once tried to explain to modern secular readers that there had once been a time when bishops of the Church of England were titanic figures of conviction who were ready to stand against the culture. “It needs an act of supreme historical imagination to be able to recapture an atmosphere in which Anglican bishops might be taken seriously,” he wrote, “still more, one in which they might be thought threatening.”
Keep that in mind as you read the news that the General Synod of the Church of England voted yesterday to approve the consecration of women as bishops of the church.
The votes came less than two years after a similar measure failed to gain the necessary two-thirds vote before the same synod. The election of women as bishops had sailed through the bishops and the clergy, but opposition from lay members of the synod had blocked the measure late in 2012.
What few even in the British media are now mentioning is the massive pressure brought upon the church by the larger British culture and, most specifically, from the British government.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday was “a great day for the Church and for equality.” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said that the vote was a “big moment” and Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition Labor Party said that the vote was “wonderful news.”
As for the Archbishop of Canterbury, the church’s chief cleric, Archbishop Justin Welby said that the measure adopted Monday would mark “the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases, disagreeing. The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds.”
That “adventure” will leave conservative evangelicals in the Church of England increasingly out in the cold, despite all the talk of “mutual flourishing.” The measure approved by the synod means that women bishops will be bishops in full, with mandatory recognition of their episcopal status by all within the Church of England. This will leave conservative ministers under the authority of bishops they do not actually believe to be bishops in fact. It is hard to imagine “mutual flourishing” in that circumstance. The measure also called for the appointment of one conservative evangelical male bishop in coming months — which means that the church has just committed itself to appoint a bishop who does not believe that at least some of his colleague bishops will meet the biblical requirements.
This is the kind of “compromise” that pervades mainline liberal Protestantism. It shifts the church decisively to the left and calls for mutual respect. Conservatives are to be kindly shown the door. Ruth Gledhill of The Guardian [London], one of the most insightful observers of religion in Great Britain, recognized the plight of the evangelicals, though she celebrated the vote: “In the last 69 episcopal appointments, there have been evangelicals but not a single conservative one.” In this context, “conservative” means more concerned with doctrinal matters and opposed to a change in the church’s teachings on gender and human sexuality. But, as Gledhill recognized, “This wing of the church is where so much of the energy is, giving rise not just to growth, but also that necessary resource, cash.”
Yes, there is another pattern to recognize — evangelicals have the growth and the cash, just not the votes. The talk about mutual flourishing is really an argument to remain in the church and keep paying the bills.
Ruth Gledhill is profoundly right about another aspect of Monday’s vote as well. It won’t stop with women bishops. “Now the church can move into the 20th century, although perhaps not the 21st,” she wrote. “A change on gay marriage would be needed to do that.” Well, stay tuned, as they say. The same church now has bishops living and teaching in open defiance of the church’s law on sexuality as well.
There is a very real sense in which Monday’s vote was inevitable. Once the church had decided to ordain women as priests, the elevation of women to bishop was only a matter of time. But the Church of England explicitly claims apostolic succession back to the earliest years of the church, traced through bishops. That is why virtually every major media outlet in Britain acknowledged, at least, that the vote reversed 2,000 years of Christian tradition. They also tended to note that the vote came after 20 years of controversy.
Evidently, 2,000 of years of tradition was no match for 20 years of controversy.
And much of that controversy was driven by cultural and political forces. Back in November 2012, when laity in the General Synod defeated a similar measure, Britain’s head of government pitched a fit. Prime Minister Cameron told Parliament that the Church of England needed “to get with the program.” He added, “You have to respect the individual institutions and the way they work, while giving them a sharp prod.” A sharp prod, indeed.
Cameron told Parliament, “I think it’s important for the Church of England to be a modern church in touch with society as it is today and this was a key step it needed to take.” There is the modern secular imperative with its teeth bared: Be a modern church in touch with society as it is today, or look out.
Archbishop Rowan Williams, then the Archbishop of Canterbury, responded like a chastened child, acknowledging the Prime Minister’s point and stating that “it seems that we are willfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that larger society.” There was no mention of obedience to Scripture.
Maria Miller, the British government’s minister for equalities openly threatened the church. In a rather contradictory statement, she provided a “prod” of her own: “Obviously, it’s for the Church of England to run its own procedures and processes, but I hope that they have heard, loud and clear, the strength of feeling on this, and that it acts quickly.”
Some members of Parliament threatened to disestablish the church and to remove its bishops from the House of Lords. There can be no doubt that the refusal to elect women as bishops put the church far out of line with Britain’s secular culture — now one of the most secular societies on the planet.
There are a great many issues of importance in this situation. These include the very idea of a state church (much less, a state church in a hyper-secular society), the definition and role of bishops, the role of women in the church, the importance of doctrinal tradition, and, most of all, the authority of Scripture and the integrity of the Christian Faith.
But the public conversation about Monday’s vote reveals issues of urgency and importance that go far beyond Britain and the Church of England. The Prime Minister’s command that the church “get with the program” and “be a modern church in touch with society as it is today” is a command that is now addressed in every modern culture to every church.
One key question is that raised by A. N. Wilson. Can we even envision a day when Christian leaders might be taken seriously as committed to biblical Christianity? Or, to use his very words, “still more, one in which they might be thought threatening?” If not, Christianity in the West will continue its slide into compromise and eventual surrender.
The Rt. Rev. William Ralph Inge, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in the early 20th century, once famously remarked: “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.” Now, that is a word from an Anglican we all need to hear.
22 Jul 2014
There has been a lot attention given recently in the media about the national library board’s decision to withdraw 3 books with homosexual content as well as the censorship of the Archie comics which celebrates gay marriage. The popular media seems to be pushing against these measures and calling for a greater inclusiveness and acceptance of same sex relationships.
The article below is a good summary of why and how Christians should approach this issue.
I hope you find it useful. It is quite long but that is because it is trying to be thorough.
LOVE AND THE INHUMANITY OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE
by Jonathan Leeman – July 1, 2014
More and more commentators are saying that we have passed the tipping point on same-sex marriage in the United States. Almost daily another politician or public figure stands before a microphone to declare his or her support. It feels like the dam has burst; the paradigm shifted. Whether or not same sex marriage is a political fait accompli, I don’t know. What concerns me in the present hour is the temptation among Christians to go with the flow. The assumption is that the nation no longer shares our morality, and that we must not impose our views on others and blur the line between church and state. Besides, we don’t want to let any political cantankerousness get in the way of sharing the gospel, right? So we might as well throw in our lot. So the thinking goes.
How hard Christians should actively fight against same-sex marriage is a matter for wisdom. But that we must not support it, I would like to persuade you, is a matter of biblical principle. To vote for it, to legislate it, to rule in favor of it, to tell your friends at the office that you think it’s just fine—all this is sin. To support it publicly or privately is to “give approval to those who practice” the very things that God promises to judge—exactly what we’re told not to do in Romans 1:32. Further, same-sex marriage embraces a definition of humanity that is less than human and a definition of love that is less than love. And it is not freedom from religion that the advocates of same-sex marriage want; they want to repress one religion in favor of another. Christians must not go with the flow. They must instead love the advocates of same-sex marriage better than they love themselves precisely by refusing to endorse it. I am saying this for the sake of you who are Christians, who affirm the authority of Scripture, who believe that homosexual activity is wrong, and who believe in the final judgment. I don’t mean here to persuade anyone who does not share these convictions. My goal in all of this is to encourage the church to be the church. What good is salt that loses it saltiness? Or what use is light under a bowl? Rather, blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Deeper Understanding of Humanity
I believe Voddie Baucham is exactly right to say that “gay is not the new black,” and that we should not formally equate sexual orientation to ethnicity or sex as an essential component of personal identity. It is amazing to me that recent legal battles simply take this equation for granted without holding it up to the light and looking at it. There are several assumptions behind the idea that a person with same-sex attraction might say “I am a homosexual” in the same way someone might say “I am a male” or “I am black.” First, one assumes that homosexual desires are rooted in biology and therefore a natural part of being human. Second, one assumes that our natural desires are basically good, so long as they don’t hurt others. Third, one assumes that fulfilling such basic and good desires are part of being fully human. All the talk about “equality” depends upon these foundational assumptions about what it means to be human. Marriage then becomes an important prize to be won for people with same-sex attraction because, as the oldest and most human of institutions, marriage publicly affirms these deep desires. Everybody who participates in a wedding—from the father who walks a bride down an aisle, to the company of friends, to the pastor leading the ceremony, to the state who licenses the certificate—participates in a positive and formal affirmation of a couple’s union. It is hard to think of a better way to affirm same-sex desire as good and part of being fully human than to leverage the celebratory power of a wedding ceremony and a marriage. Make no mistake: The fundamental issue at stake in the same-sex marriage debate is not visitation rights, adoption rights, inheritance laws, or all the stuff of “civil unions.” Those are derivative. It is fundamentally about being publicly recognized as fully human.
Biblically minded Christians, of course, have no problem recognizing people with same-sex attraction as fully human. There are members of my church who experience same-sex attraction. We worship with them, vacation with them, love them. What Christianity does not do, however, is grant that fulfilling every natural desire is what makes us human. Christianity in fact offers a more mature and deeper concept of humanity, more mature and deep than the person engaged in a homosexual lifestyle has of him or herself. It is more mature because Christianity begins with the frank admission that fallen human beings are corrupted all the way down, all the way in. A child assumes that all of his or her desires are legitimate. Adults, hopefully, know better. And a mature understanding of fallen humanity recognizes that our fallenness affects everything from our biology and body chemistry to our ambitions and life loves. Same-sex attraction is but one manifestation. This is why Christ commands us to go and die, and why we must be born again. We must become new creations, a process that begins at conversion and will be completed with his coming. Also, the fact that Jesus is Lord means his authoritative claim on our lives reaches all the way down, all the way in. We have no right to stand before him and insist upon our definitions of masculinity, femininity, marriage, love, and sexuality. He gets to write the definitions, even when they go against our deepest desires and sense of self. Rooted in biology or not, there is a difference between gender, ethnicity, and “orientation.” Orientation consists primarily of—is lived out through—desire. And the fact that it involves desire means it is subject to moral evaluation in a way that “being male” or “being Asian” are not.
Here is what’s often missed: neither the fact of the desire, nor its possible biological basis, gives it moral legitimacy. Don’t mistake is for ought. We understand this quite well, for instance, when it comes to the behaviors associated with some forms of substance addiction or bipolar disorder. The biological component of these maladies certainly calls for compassion and reams of patience, but it does not make their attendant behaviors morally legitimate. To assume they do means treating human beings as just one more animal. No one morally condemns a leopard for acting instinctually. Yet shouldn’t our moral calculations for human beings involve something more than assent to the biochemistry of desire? We are more than animals. We are souls and bodies. We are created in God’s image. To legitimize homosexual desire simply because it’s natural or biological, ironically, is to treat a person as less than human.
All of this is to say, Christianity not only offers a more mature concept of humanity, it offers a deeper concept. It says we are more than a composite of our desires, some of which are fallen, some of which are not. Remarkably, Jesus says that our humanity goes deeper even than marriage and sex, and certainly deeper than fallen versions of them. He says that, in the resurrection, there will be no marriage or giving in marriage. Marriage and sex, it appears, are two-dimensional shadows that point to the three-dimensional realities to come. A person’s humanity and identity in no way finally depends on the shadows of marriage. Dare we deny the full humanity of Christ because he neither consummated a marriage nor fathered natural children? Indeed, wasn’t the full humanity of this second Adam demonstrated through begetting a new humanity? There is something inhumane about the homosexual lobby’s version of the human being. It is inhumane to morally evaluate people as if they are animals whose instincts define them. And there is something inhumane about the homosexual lobby’s quest for same-sex marriage. It is inhumane to call bad good, or wrong desires right. It is inhumane to equate a person with the fallen version of that person, as if God created us to be the fallen versions of ourselves. But this is exactly what same-sex marriage asks us to do. It asks us to publicly affirm the bad as good—to institutionalize the wrong as right. Christianity says that we are not finally determined by ethnicity, sex, marriage, or even sinful desire. We are God-imagers and vice-rulers, tasked with showing the cosmos what God’s triune justice, righteousness, and love are like. The Christian message to the person engaged in a homosexual lifestyle is that we believe they are even more human than they believe.
Christianity offers a more mature and deeper concept of love, too. Love is not fundamentally about a narrative of self-expression and self-realization. It is not about finding someone who “completes me,” in which I assume that who “I am” is a given, and that you love “me” authentically only if you respect me exactly as I am, as if “I” is somehow sacred. Christian love is not so naïve. It’s much more mature (see 1 Cor. 13:11). It recognizes how broken people are, and it loves them in their very brokenness. It is given contrary to what people deserve. We feed and clothe and befriend them, even when they attack us. But then Christian love maturely invites people toward holiness. Through prayer and disciple-making, Christian love calls people to change—to repent. Christian love recognizes that our loved ones will know true joy only as they increasingly conform to the image of God, because God is love. This is why Jesus tells us that, if we love him, we will obey his commands, just like he loves the Father and so obeys the Father’s commands. Christian love is also deeper than love in our culture. It knows that true love was demonstrated best when Christ laid down his life for the church to make her holy, an act which the apostle Paul analogizes to the love of a husband and wife and the husband’s call to wash his wife with the word (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 5:22-32). The Bible’s central picture of gospel love is lost in same-sex marriage, just like it’s lost when a husband cheats on his wife. The progressive position might call the orthodox Christian position on gay marriage intolerant. But Christians must recognize that the progressive position is unloving and inhumane. And so we must love them more truly than they love themselves.
Public Square and Idolatrous Religion
What then shall we say about the public square? Shouldn’t our understanding of the separation between church and state and religious freedom keep us from “imposing” our ideas upon others? Why would the church being the church affect our stance in the public square among the non-church? What people can miss is the distinction between laws that criminalize an activity and laws that promote or incentivize an activity. The laws surrounding marriage belong to the latter category. The government gets involved in the marriage business—to the chagrin of libertarians—because it thinks it has some interest in protecting and promoting marriage. It sees that marriage contributes to the order, peace, and good of society at large. Therefore, it offers financial incentives for marriage, such as tax breaks or inheritance rights. In other words, institutionalizing same-sex marriage does not merely make government neutral toward unrighteousness; it means the government is promoting and incentivizing unrighteousness. The 2003 Supreme Court decision to overturn laws that criminalized homosexual behavior, by contrast, need not be construed as a promotion or affirmation of homosexual behavior. The irony of the progressive position on same-sex marriage is that it cloaks its cause in the language of political neutrality, when really it is just the opposite. It is a positive affirmation of a brand of morality and the whole set of theological assumptions behind that morality. To put this in biblical terms, institutionalizing same-sex marriage is nothing other than to “give approval to those who practice” the things that God’s word condemns (Rom. 1:32). And behind this moral affirmation, Paul tells us, is the religious “exchanging of the immortal God for images” (Rom. 1:23). To establish same-sex marriage, in other words, is an utterly religious act, by virtue of being idolatrous. For the Christian, therefore, the argument is pretty simple: God will judge all unrighteousness and idolatry. Therefore Christians should not publicly or privately endorse, incentivize, or promote unrighteousness and idolatry, which same-sex marriage does. God will judge such idolatry—even among those who don’t believe in him.
God Will Judge the Nations
Let me explain further. Both the Old Testament and the New promise that God will judge the nations and their governments for departing from his own standard of righteousness and justice. The presidents and parliaments, voters and judges of the world are comprehensively accountable to him. There is no area of life somehow quarantined off from his evaluation. Hence, he judged the people of Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh in Egypt, Sennacherib in Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, and the list goes on. Just read of his judgments against the nations in passages like Isaiah 13-19 or Jeremiah 46-52. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Psalm 96 and many other passages make the transnational, omni-partisan nature of God’s judgment clear: “Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns.’ . . . he will judge the peoples with equity” (Ps. 96:10; also Ps. 2; Jer. 10:6-10). Does the same principle apply in the New Testament era? Yes. The governors of the world derive their authority from God and will be judged by God for how they use their authority: Caesar no less than Nebuchadnezzar; presidents no less than Pharaoh:
• Jesus tells Pilate that Pilate’s authority comes from God (John 19).
• Paul describes the government as “God’s servant” and an “agent” to bring God’s justice (Rom. 13).
• Jesus is described as the “ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5).
• Kings, princes, and generals fear the wrath of the Lamb and hide from it (Rev. 6:15).
• The kings of the earth are indicted for committing adultery with Babylon the Great (Rev. 18:3).
• Christ will come with a sword “to strike down the nations” (Rev.19:13), leaving the birds “to eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty” (v. 18).
God will judge all nations and governors. They are politically accountable to his standard of justice and righteousness, not to their own standards. To depart from God’s righteousness and justice—for every government in the world, Old Testament and New—is to incur God’s wrath. The fact that we live in a pluralistic nation in which many do not acknowledge the God of the Bible makes no difference to God. “Who is the Lord that I should obey him?” Pharaoh asked. The Lord demonstrated in short order precisely who he is. The fact that Americans believe a government governs “by the will of the people” makes no difference either. A Christian knows that true authority comes from God, and so he or she must never promote and incentivize unrighteousness, even if 99 percent of the electorate asks for it. This does not mean that Christians should enact God’s judgment against all forms of unrighteousness now, but it does mean that we Christians should not publicly or privately put our hands to anything God will judge on the last day. Yes, politics often involves compromise, and there are times when Christian voters or politicians will be forced to decide between a lesser of two evils. And for such occasions we trust God is merciful and understanding. Still, so far as we can help it, we must not vote for, rule for, or tell our friends at the office that we support unrighteousness. Does this mean we can impose our faith upon non-Christians? No, but endorsing same-sex marriage is another kind of thing. To endorse it is to involve yourself in unrighteousness and false religion, and an unrighteousness that God promises to judge. In fact, same-sex marriage itself is the act of wrongful governmental imposition. Martin Luther wrote, “For when any man does that for which he has not the previous authority or sanction of the Word of God, such conduct is not acceptable to God, and may be considered as either vain or useless.” And God has never given human governments the authority to define marriage. He defined it in Genesis 2 and has not authorized anyone to redefine it. Any government that does is guilty of usurpation. Since same-sex marriage is effectively grounded in idolatrous religion (see Rom.1:23, 32), its institutionalization represents nothing more or less than the progressive position’s imposition of idolatrous religion upon the rest of us. I am not telling Christians how many resources they should expend in fighting false gods in the public square, but I am saying that you must not join together with those gods. There is no neutral ground here.
Embrace and Stand Fast
Churches should embrace their brothers and sisters who struggle with same-sex attraction, just like they should embrace all repentant sinners. And churches should stand fast on deeper, more biblical conceptions of love by loving the advocates of same-sex marriage more truly than they love themselves. We do this by insisting on the sweet and life-giving nature of God’s truth and holiness. In our present cultural context, Christian love will prove costly to Christians and churches. Even if you recognize the Bible calls homosexuality sin, but you (wrongly) support same-sex marriage, your stance on homosexuality will offend. A people’s strongest desires—the desires they refuse to let go of—reveals their worship. To condemn sexual freedom in America today is to condemn one of the nation’s favorite altars of worship. And will they not fight for their gods? Will they not excommunicate all heretics? But even while Scripture promises short-term persecution for the church, it also, strangely and simultaneously, points to long-term praise: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12). I’m not sure how to explain that, but I trust it.
Jonathan Leeman is a member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., editorial director of 9Marks, and author of The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love, Reverberation, Church Membership, and Church Discipline. His PhD work is in the area of political theology.
22 Jul 2014
Just in case you came across some news articles reporting on the recognition of same-sex marriage by the Presbyterian church in America, here is a helpful clarification sent by a friend.
From: Anthony Chew
Subject: How to Tell the Difference Between the PCA and PCUSA
May be helpful…
HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PCA AND PCUSA
Last week NBC news reported that the “top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church in America” voted to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian in their church constitution. The news report, which was quickly corrected, was confusing the Presbyterian Church of the USA—whose general assembly was meeting in Detroit, Michigan—for the Presbyterian Church in America—whose general assembly was meeting in Houston, Texas.
With two Presbyterian denominations with similar names meeting on the same dates it’s easy to understand how a reporter could get them mixed up. So what exactly are the differences between the two? Here are several key differences between these two distinctive Presbyterian denominations.
Throughout the twentieth century, various Presbyterian denominations arose, merged, and split into various break-away groups.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (often abbreviated as PCUSA) was established by the 1983 merger of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, whose churches were located mainly in the South and in border states, with the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, whose congregations could be found in every state.
In 1973, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States in “opposition to the long-developing theological liberalism which denied the deity of Jesus Christ and the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.” In 1982, theReformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod, joined the Presbyterian Church in America.
The PCUSA is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S.PCUSA has approximately 10,038 congregations, 1,760,200 members, and 20,562 ministers. The denomination has been steadily losing members and churches since 1983, and has lost 37 percent of its membership since 1992.
The PCA is the second largest Presbyterian denomination in the U.S. The PCA has approximately 1,808 congregations, 367,033 members, and 4,416 ministers. The denomination has been one of the faster growing denominations in the United States, growing tenfold since 1983.
PCUSA: The Bible and the Book of Confessions, which includes the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed, the Scots Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Shorter Catechism, the Larger Catechism, the Theological Declaration of Barmen, the Confession of 1967, and the Brief Statement of Faith.
PCA: The Bible, the Westminster Confession of Faith, together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, and the Book of Church Order.
The PCUSA maintains affiliations with ten seminaries in the United States: Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Columbia Theological Seminary, Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, McCormick Theological Seminary. Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, San Francisco Theological Seminary, Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia and Charlotte, North Carolina, and University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.
The PCA maintains affiliations with one seminary in the United States: Covenant Theological Seminary.
PCUSA: Allows for the ordination of both men and women, including non-celibate homosexuals.
PCA: Only ordains men in “obedience to the New Testament standard for those who rule the church and teach doctrine.”
PCUSA: Does not teach that Scripture is inerrant.
PCA: Teaches that Scripture is inerrant.
PCUSA: Church property belongs to the denomination.
PCA: Church property belongs to the local congregation without any right of reversion whatsoever to any Presbytery or General Assembly.
PCUSA: Teaches that abortion can be “morally acceptable” though it “ought to be an option of last resort.”
PCA: Teaches that all abortions are wrong. (e.g., “Abortion would terminate the life of an individual, a bearer of God’s image, who is being divinely formed and prepared for a God-given role in the world.”)
PCUSA: In 1952 the PCUSA General Assembly moved to amend sections of the Westminster Confession, eliminating “innocent parties” language, broadening the grounds to include no-fault divorce.
PCA: Teaches that divorce is a sin except in cases of adultery or desertion.
PCUSA: In 2010, the General Assembly expressed that “The PCUSA has no consensus in the interpretation of Scripture on issues of same-sex practice.” Currently, homosexuals (both celibate and non-celibate) can serve as ministers and the churches endorses same-sex “blessing” ceremonies. Recently, the General Assembly amended the Book of Order to redefine marriage as between “two people”rather than between a man and a woman and allows ministers to perform any legal marriage between two people. That amendment will require the approval of a majority of the presbyteries before it will take effect.
PCA: Teaches that homosexual practice is sin.
24 Jun 2014
Fathers have a profound impact on how children grow up in the faith. This Sunday, we will be having a time to celebrate Father’s day at church to thank fathers for the great job they are doing in raising their kids.
Please bring your children to the main service for the first half of the service.
1 Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
pay attention and gain understanding.
2 I give you sound learning,
so do not forsake my teaching.
3 When I was a boy in my father’s house,
still tender, and an only child of my mother,
4 he taught me and said,
“Lay hold of my words with all your heart;
keep my commands and you will live. Proverbs 4
11 Jun 2014
Hi to all alumni of the UNSW FOCUS (Fellowship of Overseas Christian University Students),
I believe that there are a quite a number of ex-UNSW FOCUS members at BTPC.
Pastor Joshua Ng from UNSW FOCUS is having a day conference and gathering at BTPC this Sat 31 May. It will start at 9am and go on till past dinner.
I have attached his outline for the day for your information. FOCUS Day Work Rest Play
I would really encourage you to do your best to come. Please email him or me if you are able to attend.
24 May 2014
You may have read in today’s newspapers that the CEO of a prominent silicon valley IT company, Mozilla was forced to step down because he did not support same sex marriage.
Why is this happening? What is the direction in which society is moving in? How should we respond as Christians?
This was actually taken up just last Saturday by Professor Don Carson in his talk at Project Timothy.
If you are interested, I have attached a recording of his talks. I would recommend them as highly as possible.
Please take the time to have a listen. It really helps us understand the direction of society and how to prepare ourselves as Christians.
The talks are the last three talks on 29 March –
AM2 – the intolerance of tolerance
AM3 – the gay movement
AM4 – question and answer time
5 April 2014
Further to our Faith@home session last Sunday, I would like to highly recommend the following book on parenting.
I have been reading it and have learnt a lot.
Please let me know if you would like me to order it for you.
It costs 4.24 pounds or about S$10 for hardcopy.
Otherwise you can buy the ebook for 3.99 pounds from the website below.
I have attached some details and reviews from the net for your information.
2 April 2014
As some of you may know, Hollywood has recently released a big budget movie called “Noah”. It will open in theatres in Singapore this Thursday 3 April.
As with reading any book, listening to music or watching any movie, we should always use our renewed mind and view them with God given wisdom and discernment. (Rom 12) But this is especially so with subjects which draw inspiration from Biblical material and content.
The movie Noah falls into this category as it is based on the book of Genesis.
After trawling through the internet this morning, here are some of reviews which I feel might be helpful for you to read before you watch the movie. (Be warned, I came across a lot of mindless ranting in cyberspace so helpfully this saves you a lot of time.)
In this way, you can decide if you would want to watch the movie and if you do, to be biblically discerning. Obviously some of the reviews might involve spoilers. Sorry!
Summary of reviews by major Christian commentators
Things you should watch out for theologically so that you do not get confused or misled
Some good points about the film
For parents whose kids go to watch Noah(with or without you), it would also be very good if you could discuss the movie with your child. The movie is rated PG-13 in America.
1 April 2014
After this Sunday’s sermon on Hebrews 10:26-39, we will be taking a short break from the book of Hebrews for 4 weeks.
This because the 4 weeks before Easter are really very important in our church calendar as Easter is probably the best time of the year to share the good news of Jesus and save souls for eternity.
As such, a team of 7 students and a lecturer and his wife from Trinity Theological College, Perth Australia are joining us shortly. They will partner with us to evangelise and reach out to our friends during the week leading to Easter.
This is the program over the next 4 weeks:
Week 1) beginning Monday 24 March
No official Bible study. Everyone is encouraged to attend the Project Timothy Talks from Wed-Sat.
Faith@home activities for parents in children’s church and youth groups on Sunday 30 March.
Sermon on Sunday 30 March on Topical talk – respectable sins
Week 2) beginning Monday 31 March
Bible study groups to meet to prepare for and pray over evangelistic events on the following week.
Trinity Theological college, Perth, Australia arriving on weekend – Sat 5 April.
Mission sermon on Sunday 6 April by visiting Trinity Theological College lecturer from Perth Australia. Sharing by OMF missionary.
Prayer meeting on Sunday 6 April afternoon to pray for Easter and evangelistic activities.
Week 3) beginning Monday 7 April
Bible study groups to host evangelistic events with BTPC pastors and Trinity Team.
Other evangelistic events by other ministry groups.
Evangelistic sermon on Sunday 13 April
Week 4) beginning Monday 14 April
Good Friday service on Friday 18 April with sermon by David Jackman
Easter Sunday evangelistic sermon.
I hope that you are as excited over these events as I am. Please continue to pray for your friends and relatives to come to Christ our Lord and Saviour.
19 March 2014
In line with encouraging faithful and biblical parenting at home, I would like to encourage you to use a bible reading plan that I have been using. I find it a helpful reminder every day on how to be a better and more faithful parent. Every day you read a passage and the suggest how to apply it to being a better parent.
It is called parenting by design bible reading plan. You can find it on most bible apps on your mobile phone and tablet devices. They also have a website www.parentingbydesign.com.
I would encourage you to check it out and use the plan.
24 February 2014
I gave a talk at the IMPACT Australian graduates fellowship on Saturday about how to choose a church upon their return to Singapore after finishing their studies.
The feedback was good so I thought I would share with you:
1) The Powerpoint from the talk which basically summarised what I said – choose a church which will persevere you in Christ till you die or Jesus comes. Choose faithful teaching and faithful living.
2) 2 articles below on when to leave church and how to leave church which I also used for my talks which people found helpful.
20 January 2014
As part of BTPC’s focus in 2014 on building faith@home, I have attached this very helpful article I came across last year.
Please have a read.
13 January 2014
Just came back from listening to my old lecturer Keith Condie and his wife Sarah teach us how to build safe and strong marriages. We learnt so much from the Friday and Saturday talks. If you wish to listen to them, you can borrow the CD that was recorded from me.
Here’s a sample of the YouTube videos that they showed:
You’ll find them really funny.
14 September 2013
I was challenged by Wai’s sermon yesterday on 2 Corinthians 13 to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
I found 2 excellent articles which I hope are helpful for you:
5 August 2013