• Culture,  Theology

    Are All Cultures Equal? A Biblical Paradigm

    There is a growing belief today that all cultures are equal and that differences between groups are cultural, but not moral. In other words, no culture can claim moral superiority over another because it is just cultural expression. Although this is a common idea, it has met resistance from some who have demonstrated that, on a pragmatic level, productivity and the standard of living are better in some cultures than in others. Although that is undoubtedly true, that in and of itself does not necessarily mean a certain culture is better than another. As Christians, I think it is important to be in the habit of using Scripture to inform any kind of comparison—including culture. Speaking from a biblical standpoint, there are cultures that are better than others. The cultures which are better are the cultures that are more closely aligned with God’s standard for living, and these cultures thereby…

  • Ethics,  Old Testament

    Does the Bible Support Polygamy?

    Anyone familiar with the Bible has had to wrestle with the question of polygamy in the Old Testament. There are numerous examples of polygamy. Some of these polygamous relationships are even practiced by those whom we would consider important people in Scripture. For example, Jacob (a patriarch of Israel) had two wives, Leah and Rachel (Gen 29). Similarly, David, a man after God’s own heart, had multiple wives. These stories give us pause. Why are there faithful Israelites who have multiple wives? Although many would reject polygamy today, some are willing to say the Bible still supports polygamy today. The First Mention of Polygamy Although the Old Testament has concrete examples of polygamy, these are not looked upon favorably in the Old Testament. Where polygamy exists, family strife and difficulty follows. The strife and rivalry between Rachel and Leah is well known to students of Scripture (cf. Gen 29-30). The…

  • Christian Living,  Ethics

    Does the Bible Say Same Sex Attraction is Sin?

    Although some would argue that any same sex relationship is a good thing if it doesn’t harm anyone, in Christian circles there is usually a more clandestine approach to encourage acceptance of the gay lifestyle. This approach says that same sex attraction itself is not a sin, it is following through on the attraction that is the sin. In other words, to be attracted to the same sex is not a sin as long as one does not act on those impulses. In one sense, there is a difference between the gravity and consequences of following through on the attraction, but the real question is whether desires themselves can be sinful? People will often differentiate the issue between orientation and behavior. Some people will say that it is not sinful to be a “gay Christian.” It is only necessary to live celibate. However, there are two significant reasons that same…

  • Ethics,  Old Testament

    Why is Incest Wrong According to the Bible?

    Although incest is specifically prohibited by Leviticus 18, we often (unfortunately) isolate this text from its foundation. In biblical law it is important to understand the relationship between Law and creation to aid the process of application. In the case of incest, we need to understand that incest is prohibited because of its connection to Genesis 2:24. Tracing the Language of Incest to Genesis 2:24 Leviticus 18:6–18 begins with the introductory phrase, “None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness” (אִישׁ אִישׁ אֶל־כָּל־שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו לֹא תִקְרְבוּ לְגַלּוֹת עֶרְוָה). This verse functions as an introductory phrase which relates to the entire section on incest. The pertinent phrase we need to consider is “blood relative,” which can be literally translated, “flesh of his flesh” (שְׁאֵר בְּשָׂרֹו). This phrase invokes repetition of a concept which is first mentioned in Genesis 2:24 in the description of the “one flesh”…

  • Ethics,  New Testament,  Old Testament

    Homosexuality was Added to the Bible in 1946

    It is becoming more and more popular to argue that the Bible speaking against homosexuality is a recent innovation that was added to the Bible to make Scripture anti-gay. One very common iteration of the argument is that the word “homosexual” was not in any Bible prior to 1946. The implication of such argumentation is that the Bible does not speak against homosexuality, and that the church should therefore accept a gay lifestyle as being compatible with biblical teaching. Those who put forward such argumentation typically point to Luther’s German translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9, which uses the word Knabenschänder, or “boy molester” rather than the typical idea of homosexual found in modern translations. Additionally, proponents point to the KJV translation, done in 1611, which translated 1 Corinthians 6:9 as, “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.” It was not until 1946 with the translation of the RSV that…

  • Culture,  Ethics

    Should Christians Use Preferred Gender Pronouns?

    Should Christians use the preferred gender pronouns for transgendered individuals? This is a question which has a variety of answers in the Christian community. Some individuals, like Preston Sprinkle or JD Greear have espoused an approach called Pronoun Hospitality, where the Christian refers to the transgendered individual by their preferred gender pronouns in an effort to show love and kindness. Others have argued Christians ought to use pronouns that match with God’s created intent. How should a Christian think through this issue biblically? At the outset, it should be noted that this is not just a theoretical question. Many individuals have already suffered consequences for deciding they cannot in good conscience use preferred gender pronouns and thus call a female a male or vice versa. There are many examples of this, whether it be a Christian doctor in the UK who was fired for refusing to call a male “madam”,…

  • Culture

    Responding to Your Friends about Homosexuality

    Unless you have been living somewhere without a computer, lights, electricity, or people, you have no doubt noticed the massive cultural shift within the last few years on the issue of homosexuality. In 2008, the majority of California’s voters passed Proposition 8, a stipulation that defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. Now, years later, the culture has turned and it is considered not only politically incorrect to oppose gay marriage, but downright evil. One clear example from 2014 is the Mozilla co-founder and CEO Brendan Eich, who was forced from his position simply because six years ago he did the popular thing and supported Proposition 8. This example is just one of the numerous cultural examples that show that the homosexual culture is far-reaching and will impact everyone in the future. It is necessary for a Christian to be able to interact with a culture that believes homosexuality is…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    God’s Design for Sexual Purity in the Law

    The seventh commandment is a well known part of the Ten Commandments, partially due to its brevity, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exod 20:14). Sexual purity is often viewed by the culture as an outdated ethic, but the concept of purity has an even greater significance today as the culture fails model any semblance of purity, duty, or devotion. If there was ever an appropriate discussion for the current generation of Americans it has to do with the seventh commandment. The theological reality behind the seventh commandment is purity. Purity has the idea of being unmixed. In the case of adultery, a husband or wife is not completely devoted to his or her spouse. Adultery is the absence of complete devotion. In adultery there is a mixing of different desires and lusts. The absence of purity (i.e., unmixed devotion) is why Israel is commonly condemned in the prophets. Israel is…

  • Ethics,  Review

    Book Review: Understanding Transgender Identities

    I know I am not the only one who has had a heightened interest in assessing the cultural revolution over the last 10 years. Over that short time, the culture has moved from a negative view of the sexual revolution to a full embrace. And today, although the cultural battle is essentially over, the battle of defining sexuality continues to rage in the church. Case in point, one of the most important conversations today is the issue of transgenderism. To help with this conversation, Baker Academic has published a four-views book (2019). James K. Beilby and Paul Rhodes Eddy have edited the book which is entitled, Understanding Transgender Identities. Beilby is professor of systematic and philosophical theology at Bethel University. Eddy is professor of biblical and theological studies also at Bethel University. They have co-edited six multiview volumes together, and this is the latest one. There are five contributing authors…

  • Church,  Culture

    A Biblical View of Gender and Why it Matters

    LGBT and gender issues continue to be on the cultural forefront. Each day the headlines bring us arguments for gender-neutral bathrooms, news about transgender athletes, or a doctor who loses his job because he holds to a biblical view of gender. The biblical view of gender is antiquated according to some, labeled as outdated, non-essential, and a relic of a bygone patriarchal era. In a secular worldview, gender has no value and the differences must be minimized. Despite obvious physical differences between men and women, these distinctions are minimized or ignored. According to the secular worldview, if someone wants to behave with masculine or feminine gender characteristics that is their choice. For many today, gender is a social construct and not related to anything inherent in either sex. Sadly, many churches are embracing a secular worldview and rejecting the biblical view of gender. It is rather common for Christians to…