The Week That Dramatically Altered the Culture Conflict and the Future of the Church

th-1Response to the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage has been all over the map, to say the least. We have seen some amazing celebrations and all the expected denunciations from many Christians. At First Baptist Church in Dallas the pulpit was adorned with red, white and blue last weekend. The pastor called the ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.” Robert Jeffress, pastor at First Baptist Dallas, said the court had acted in a way that represented “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion.” The White House, in contrast, was bathed in the rainbow colors of the LGBT movement. Many other churches, mostly Protestant mainline congregations, called attention to the decision with prayer and joy.

The pastor at First Baptist in Dallas said he was not discouraged at all. He added, “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.” Now, if ever there was a line I personally agreed

How Should Christians Respond to the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Marriage?

Readers of this blog range across a wide-spectrum of Christian believers. Some readers favor same-sex marriage and (very likely) most do not. While I do not advocate for same-sex marriage, based upon my understanding of marriage primarily (not sexuality), I believe the church has lost its way in regard to mission and purpose. This is why the Christian response to this court decision reveals the deep divisions within our ranks. My friend Dr. David Lescalleet offers us a balanced perspective from the position held by the vast majority of Christian churches around the world. I offer it as a helpful reflection for all of us to ponder prayerfully.

Lescalleet (Dave)What Now?  A Response to the SCOTUS Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

The decision by the United States Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage is now about a few days old. During that time I have read through different articles, commentaries, op-eds, along with a whole host of Facebook posts and twitter feeds. In response, I initially thought it best to refrain from adding to the noise that is, at

Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (A Review)

DanToday’s guest writer is Dan Brennan, author of the important book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women.

Where was I to find love? Where was I to give love?

If Scripture and the Christian tradition were right that I shouldn’t

try to find a husband, surely the apparent corollary couldn’t also be

right—that I was therefore cut off from any deep, meaningful

form of intimacy and communion. Could it?”

Wesley Hill


As an evangelical who has significant interest in the connection between sexuality and friendship, I was eagerly awaiting the delivery of Wesley Hill’s Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian. He did not disappoint.

Although Hill writes from the perspective of a gay celibate, he writes as an evangelical who seeks to integrate a post-Freudian view of sexuality with friendship. To be clear, Hill doesn’t use that phrase. That comes from take. In my own language, some of the distinctive features of a post-Freudian sexuality are that it 1) affirms we are all spiritual-sexual beings, 2) expands the meaning of sexuality beyond

Same-Sex Marriage Dividing a Local Parish

On the same day that I read the Associated Press report that I referenced yesterday regarding the new Pew Research about same-sex marriage there was another report from Great Falls, Montana. This story struck me as one filled with profound pain and difficulty.

Church PictureRoman Catholic Bishop Michael Warfel of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings conducted a meeting with about 300 parishioners from St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown on Saturday, September 20. There is a huge controversy inside the St. Leo congregation. Fr. Samuel Spiering, the priest at St. Leo’s, has decided to prohibit a gay couple from receiving the Eucharist unless they take three steps. First, they must legally divorce. Second, they must live separately. And third, they must write a statement affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman. The 300 people from the parish who met with their bishop were said to be evenly divided about the counsel of their priest. (Note: This is not an urban center where large numbers of gays might live in communities.)

The same-sex couple, in

The Abuse of Women and Our Response (Part Two)

Unknown-1The case of Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice’s assault on his fiancé in February of this year underscores a major problem in the NFL and our culture in general – women are still being abused and many institutions (mostly those led by men) cover it up or deny its importance. They do this by being “tone deaf” to the deeper issues involved in this problem. I suggested yesterday that the NFL represents a larger problem in our society, a problem that extends into the leadership of our churches. Let me explain.

The Baltimore Ravens consider Ray Rice an important leader on their team and to their organization. Their response to this assault has been to address the whole nightmare as a public relations problem. They had Janay Rice sit beside her husband in front of a Ravens backdrop for a press conference after his arrest. This strikes me as major “damage control.” They were attempting, suggested Phil Taylor in the August 4 issue of Sports Illustrated, “to repair their star running back’s image.” This press conference even included

The Shameful Story of Judah

UnknownOn Saturday, July 12, I preached the evening vespers service at Lutheran Church of the Master in Carol Stream. My given text was Genesis 38. I think I would never have picked such a story had it not been assigned to me in advance. You can hear my twenty-minute sermon below.

As I grow older I enjoy narrative preaching more than ever. This chapter in Genesis is so obviously narrative, with a clear dose of midrash going on, that it begs for the human imagination to work overtime putting various things together. It also begs another pressing question: “How or why do such lewd and bodacious stories get included in the biblical Canon?” Maybe our views of such things are far too prudish. If some Christians I know oversaw the arrangement of the Canon they would have left a great deal out I feel sure. This story would likely be at the top of their list. In very clear and offensive ways it is perverse to the extreme. I know of nothing else to say about that but it really does beg a

Sex Trafficking in the United States: Do You Know The Problem?

I confess that I knew something about global sex-trafficking. I did not realize that this problem was an issue within the United States. This video stunned me and makes me want to see the whole movie when it is released. It challenges us to pray, get involved, get more information and do something to save lives wherever possible. I will not be the same after watching this trailer/presentation. I hope the same will be true for you as well.

Philomena – A Film That Reveals Gospel Grace and Forgiveness

220px-Philomena_posterI saw the new movie Philomena last week. I was unprepared for how much this film would move me to the depths of my spirit. It is my “sleeper” film for 2013! I noted this weekend, with great joy, that it was nominated for the Golden Globe as “Best Picture.” (There are only five nominees. The Academy now has ten nominees and if Philomena is not nominated someone should investigate the process!)

Philomena is a 2013 British film based upon the book The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, written by Martin Sixsmith. (Martin Sixsmith was the reporter who helped Philomena search for her lost son.) The film tells the true story of Philomena Lee’s 50-year-long search. The book focuses more, as the title suggests, on the life of Michael/Anthony (Philomena’s son) after his adoption in Ireland. The film focuses more on Philomena herself yet it gives us a clear picture of what transpired in Michael/Anthony’s life over the years since he was taken from the convent in Ireland.

As the film begins Martin Sixsmith has just lost his job

Why the Institution of Marriage is Failing and What We Can Do About It

imagesMarriage is in a very sad state in modern secular culture. I am not, in stating it this way, specifically responding to the same-sex marriage debate that I addressed last week. I am referring to marriage as a social and religious institution that brings a man and woman together in a promise to live together in love until death separates them.

For all of the couples who get divorced, a number which reveals just how troubled the institution really is, there are still a considerable number of couples who remain married, many of them in unhappy marriages where they are trying to make the best of it. Honestly, I have encountered all too few truly happy and healthy marriages in my days on this earth. At best, most marriages seem to get by but very few thrive in a deeply satisfying way.

If half of America’s businesses failed we would be in the worst depression ever. If half of the students in my class failed I would quite likely fall into complete despair. My point is that individuals who

My Sisters the Saints (6) – An Inspiring Journey in Faith

images-1Colleen Carroll Campbell’s journey to femininity did not lead her to embrace a kind of Catholic “fundamentalism” with regard to the social, professional and economic gains that she had previously experienced because of feminism. John and Carroll Campbell clearly share a marriage of mutuality. They have just as clearly learned how to sacrifice and give up their personal agendas, one for the other. For those on the far right, who think the only way to respond to modern feminism is to throw “the baby out with the dirty bathwater” her conclusion will not satisfy you. At the same time if you want a radical feminist perspective that leads to a profound fear and loathing of men and motherhood then you must look elsewhere.

As Colleen read Edith Stein, and Pope John Paul II, she concluded that men are called to loving communion with others just as much as women. But Edith Stein believed that a man was called, more than a woman, to “action, work, and objective accomplishments. A man is less concerned with problems of being, whether


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