Word from the Pastor

A Prayer for the Nation and the Mission

O God eternal and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Sovereign Creator,

May You, the One who sits in the Heaven, Master of all You survey, who laughs at the vain schemes and devices of the wicked, frustrate their designs on the right and the left and turn their malicious intentions back on themselves;

May you, Supreme Ruler of all in Heaven above and on earth below, restrain the wicked powers now openly afoot in places high and low;

May you, the invisible Architect of the universe and the course of human history bend the non-compliant spirits of both the mighty and the mean, despite themselves, to accomplish Your hidden ends;

May Your all-empowering Spirit, who indwells Your people, steel our courage to face this alien world in the confidence of the truth, whatever You may allow to come against us

May Your Spirit of grace steel our hearts to thwart this onrushing tide of godlessness and demonic influences now emerging on every side;

May your Spirit of holiness purge the dross in our churches, awaken the sleeping and move the remnant to honest repentance for our lax and often too Laodicean ways;

May the Spirit of Christ stir up our resolve in these darkening days to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God;

May Your all-knowing Spirit expose hypocrites hiding in our ranks who work among us with the hands of Esau while speaking with the deceptive voice of Jacob;

May you, the Lord of armies, drop a hard and heavy hand on those who “call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

May you, O God our Helper, be pleased in your mercy to hinder the malice of the Evil One and his human agents and instruments so that your servants may find sufficient space and peace for sowing the Word that the truth may flourish in the land;

May you, O God of truth and all wisdom, keep us, Your holy people, from succumbing to fear and panic and scandalizing the Name of Christ by fighting folly with more folly and resisting evil with more evil.

May you, God of truth, sift us, chasten us, and change us so that at His appearing we may shine forth in white garments of truth, holiness and faithfulness, deemed worthy by Your grace to enter as your royal family, into the glory of the eternal Kingdom of Christ, our Savior and Lord.

And may we meanwhile through the support and guidance of Your Spirit working through Your infallible Word, stand forth, safely grounded on the Rock of Christ, immoveable, unshaken, as light in the world and the salt of the earth.

In the Name of Jesus, the Name above all names, we pray.

Jim Andrews
Senior Pastor

A Biblical Prescription for Peace of Mind

Unfortunately anxiety is not an emotion that one can dismiss at will. It is like acid reflux. We cannot say to ourselves,” Be gone!” and all is suddenly good in the alimentary tract. Relief calls for counteractive measures. Same with anxiety.

These strange days we (believers especially) have ample reasons for anxiety. A stubborn pandemic with ‘experts’ forecasting a whole sickly train of the same to follow. Who knows how many, when and what frightening effects? A very shaky economy overall and a devastating one for many sectors.

Then even more ominously the hateful political left wing taking over the reins of government. Already this frightening crew owns (in every sense) the mainstream media and social media platforms. Its devotees dominate our colleges and universities. They infest the influential entertainment industry.

And through the canons of political correctness its high priests and acolytes pretty much rule the culture these days, dictating what can and cannot be allowed. They have managed to put in place a merciless ‘cancel culture’ that in a heartbeat can ruin the reputation of any fine person or group that does not accede to its standards. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion no longer exists as they once did.

That picture is not extreme. And any who are informed (as I happen to be) know it all too well.

For us believers these things are beyond concerning. What probably lies down the road is deeply troubling, if not downright scary. Many have chosen to stop their ears, shut their eyes, and pretend it’s all just politics as usual. However, there is little reason to think it’s just going to blow over.

I could go on and on about the stimulants to anxiety (and anger—the two often go together). I have only said this much to say that feelings of high anxiety are not some form of neurosis, fears concocted out of thin air. It stems from being in touch with reality, not from demons made up in our over-active imagination.

Thankfully, however, there is a biblical palliative for the anxiety-ridden heart.

The biblical prescription is tucked away at the end of the Epistle to the Philippians (4:6-7)

The results are guaranteed. For in verse 7 the Apostle assures us who take the cure that “the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

So, what is the divine prescription for alleviating anxiety? There are four compounds.

First, be anxious for nothing.

Here this is an appeal to resist it, It is like insomnia. Don’t just lie there helplessly counting sheep. Resist sleeplessness by doing something to combat it.

Victory over anxiety starts with resistance. Recall when David fought Goliath? He was overmatched. Smartly David took him on and down the right way, not in Saul’s armor. This emotional condition one must combat the right way or all efforts are doomed to failure. Otherwise, we are like an ant blustering against an elephant.

Like having a heart condition. One is not always to blame for its existence, but one can be faulted if one does not apply the medical means and measures to deal with it. So, with anxiety and anger. Through the Spirit, the apostle exhorts us to challenge its domination by actively applying the means and measures prescribed.

Don’t give in to it. Don’t let it have its way. Don’t let it beat you into submission day after day. Fight back!

Fight back? How? The Apostle did not say, take a cruise. Did not say, Call your doctor and get a pill. He did not say, Buy a new house or a new car. Resign your job or dump your spouse. Resist the anxiety attacks. How?

The second element of the cure is “by prayer and supplication…let your requests be made known to God.”

Storm the gates of Anxiety with a battering ram of prayer and supplication. Day after day approach the throne of grace boldly in faith in God’s promises and His power, asking for grace and mercy to help you in time of need. My time of need is “round the clock,” so to speak.

“Supplication” connotes concrete and specific petitions. That is important, for when the Lord answers those specific petitions, it is obvious to us that He has heard us. Those answers recharge a flagging faith, sometimes supercharge it and dissipate the anxieties troubling our hearts. Regular prayer and supplication (in faith) tend to subdue bouts of anxiety.

Way too often believers allow themselves to be paralyzed by attacks when more application of God’s remedy would subdue the depression.

Let me put it on pause a moment. It is impossible to sustain “prayer and supplication” (with faith) when one is not working with a full ‘spiritual deck’. By that deficit I mean a heart not fully committed to Christ or the baggage of a troubled conscience needing seriously to off load some guilt. We must lift up clean hands to God. In fact, lack of peace can stem from unresolved guilt (for sin unrepented of). In that case, square the books first and then pray.

The third compound in the prescription is “with thanksgiving.”

The late missionary martyr, Jim Elliot, once wrote in his journal, “If we were thankful for more, we would have more to be thankful for more.” So true!

If you tend to be paralyzed by worries, fretfulness, nagging anxieties, I ask you: When you pray and offer up your urgent petitions to God, how much of your prayer time focuses on giving thanks?

Way back in the early days of my pastoral ministry one morning I was praying, walking the aisles of my empty church, riddled with pastoral cares and anxiety and, no other honest way to put it, generally whining about all my trials and troubles when in a moment of self-consciousness (induced by the Spirit, I am sure) I became acutely aware that my petitions and supplications were all about my problems and pains and zero about His abundant blessings and provisions.

Take this black cloud hanging over our world and our culture. Recently I heard some TV talking head whine that there has never been a worse year (2020). Right there I knew that person was way too inexperienced in real life to be trusted as a sage. Let me just itemize some of the many things we have to be grateful for.

In Christ we have assurance of eternal life. Of all the lost souls on this dark planet, we are among the minority God has chosen to comprise His family in everlasting glory. Talk about ‘winning the lottery.’

In Christ we enjoy abundant life, the daily presence, power and provision of the Holy Spirit to help us navigate this life and every situation the vagaries of life this world, the flesh and the devil may throw at us.

In Christ we enjoy in the Spirit the right of access to Almighty God to find grace and help in time of need. Hey, sadly everybody else is out there in deep water, in a leaky boat, without a paddle, without hope, without help, and no matter what they may have going for them here, have one terrible destination—Hell.

In Christ we have the provision of everything necessary for life and godliness. Even if we are alone, we are never alone. Even if we are inadequate for the challenges of life, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We are never powerless.

In Christ we have a sure compass in the darkness, the revelation of God (the Scriptures) to guide us when we don’t know up from down.

In Christ the vast majority of us enjoy ample incomes, food, health, shelter, transportation, clean water, safe keeping, and a still relatively free country where we mostly live unmolested from hostile and unfriendly authorities. For all the threats on the horizon, we still enjoy the best and freest country on the planet, to my knowledge.

In God’s providence, when we are sick and ailing, the majority of us have access to fine physicians and medical facilities and technology to sustain or restore our well-being.

Think about all the billions of suffering people on this planet. How many of them would gladly trade places with you if they could only enjoy the ‘hateful’ life we complain about? I think about that.

Do we have any idea of how many otherwise wealthy and privileged individuals would in a heartbeat give everything they own just to have once again the good health and physical strength and good society that you and I enjoy?

I have hardly scratched the surface of blessings to be thankful for. Yeah, many of us do have much to be anxious about, but must not forget to thank God profusely and daily for the multitude of His routine blessings we do enjoy (instead of fretting all the time in fear and frustration about the ones we don’t).

Ah, lest we forget — the fourth element: [with thanksgiving] “in everything.”

There’s a biggie.

In thanksgiving there may be a tendency to focus primarily on the obvious. We should always take note of God’s hidden blessings in our burdens. I always say, in every blessing one can find a burden and in every burden a blessing.

That is why we “boast in our tribulations.” The Spirit causes our tribulations to produce perseverance (in faith) and perseverance in turn to produce godly character and godly character intensifies our hope or sense of expectation in Christ.

There is a terrific example in the story of Corrie Ten Boom when she and her sister, Betsy, were, along with many others, more or less rotting away in a cruel Nazi concentration camp. As is well known, the conditions in those camps were ghastly and the camp guards were cruel. None of those poor women quartered in those dorms ever wanted a surprise ‘visit’ by the guards stationed outside the doors. Bad things were bound to happen.

Despite all that cruelty and daily anxiety, Corrie and Betsy would pray together nightly. On this particular night, as I recall, when Betsy was praying, she thanked God even for the omnipresent fleas that infested their quarters and upped the misery quotient.

Well, Corrie thought that was over the top. She questioned Betsy about propriety of thanking God for those miserable fleas.” Betsy however reminded her sister that God told us to give thanks to Him ‘in everything.” Fleas came under the heading of ‘everything.”

A short time later somebody was standing by the door and overheard a guard outside explaining why he was so reluctant to enter that particular dorm. “I hate going in that place because of the fleas!”

That burden was a left-handed blessing! There were things worse than an infestation of noxious fleas, believe it or not. One was an invasion of cruel human insects in the form of nasty German prison guards.

In thanksgiving remember to thank God for our burdens as well as His obvious blessings. We never know the hidden good some of those hardships may be doing us. All things He works together for good, even if it in no way seems obvious or possible to us.

Growing up I experienced a lot of pain, deep pain, that I have to this day never shared with anyone except my wife. Yet today, as I reflect, a lot of those ‘fleas’ God used to prepare me for the work to which He called me.

Of course at the time I was not grateful. Yet eventually in my maturity I learned better the wisdom of “in everything” give thanks.

You cannot live without anxiety any more than I or anyone else. But if we take to heart the cure, we can much more easily live with and rule over it without it ruling over us.

We have a prescription. Take it regularly. God promises peace of mind to those who take the cure.

Jim Andrews
Senior Pastor

Going Forward in a World Going Backward

Now that the fateful election is behind us, the pandemic is still with us and surging, the economy is seriously lagging with little promise of any imminent relief, with people everywhere still hunkering down in fear and suffocating in social isolation (at last count Olsie and I alone have 11 extended family members recovering from COVID), with the ugly specter of aggressive socialism unleashed on a deaf and dumb nation, along with militant atheism breathing down our necks, with sexual anarchy accelerating all over the place, with the abortion industry ratcheting up its slaughterhouses with devilish delight, with unsettling civil unrest percolating on all fronts, (and the prospect of more sleepless nights perhaps in the offing), one asks:

How are we believers to cope with this bizarre (and demonic) new world that 2020 dumped so unceremoniously on us?

As a country I suspect we have gotten a bitter foretaste of what we have been asking for. I personally fear that the worst is yet to come. (My wife reminds me, “Jimmy, you are a Jeremiah.” I quite agree and unapologetically own his temperament.) So, let’s get real.

A great throng of us sense that 2020 marks an unhappy departure, a great divide in our nation’s history from which there is likely no coming back. There is a sinking feeling that we as a nation have suddenly left the Old World behind, and are now adrift, utterly oarless like lost mariners on violent waves of stormy high seas, aboard a leaky ship of state with nothing but besotted pilots in the wheelhouse, and drifting and driven further and further into some dark, uncharted direction. We sense that where we are headed, wherever it is, a totally different and undesirable shore.

In retrospect many of us at least have seen all too clearly how in His providence our Sovereign God set up the outcomes we have seen ominously taking shape. Its evolution has been kind of stunning actually; only the rapidity has surprised. We have marveled at the human assistance and incredible blindness of those (including a host of professing Christians), who, blundering along, have played naÏve handmaids to Satan, failing to see their complicitly in the sinister shape things have taken, the full impact of which we can’t even begin to reckon at the present time.

So, it is what it is.

As believers, what is, is what we must come to grips with, not the world as it used to be or still wish it would be.

How do we deal with a country gone mad ‘guided’ obvious mental cases at the helm egged on by their supremely foolish counselors who are giving every sign that they are going to take our country in directions that will surely destroy any residue of good that remains in it? They show every promise of ‘rescuing’ utter defeat from any thin prospect of moral victory. (“Amen and awoman,” anybody? Oh boy. Did any of you ever imagine in your lifetime that you would hear such utter nonsense from anyone but a drunk or deranged congressman?)

Here are my thoughts about going forward:

  • Let us remember that our Sovereign God is in control of all matters in Heaven above and on earth below. God never slips on a banana peel. He is firmly in charge of human history and all the little piss ants who think they are.
  • Let us remember that His control of history does not mean He is directing its course into channels we would prefer. God is a gracious God, but He is also a holy God. He will not continuously permit humans who forget Him to disregard His law and trample on His will a minute beyond His self-imposed limits. When the time is right, He will speak for Himself. Eventually, bills come due. His patience has its limits. In His time God will send people a message. It is His habit to start His messaging with His unfaithful family. I suspect that is happening. Our churches could use a good housecleaning.
  • Let us remember that in ordering His world, God makes no mistakes. There is never an “Oops! In what He ordains. He gets it right the first time and the last. ‘Right’ may be a fright from our perspective, but whatever God wants is what is wisest in the big scheme of things.
  • Let remember that when God sets in motion His interim retributions for the wicked, His corollary purpose is to refine His saints. These judicial strokes are not intended to beat up the righteous but to simultaneously stir us up and to shape us up.
  • Let us remember that in the end God causes all things to work together (pain and pleasure, good and evil, heavy and light) for the (spiritual) good of those who love God and are called according to His purposes.
  • Let us remember that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared to the glory God has in store for us.
  • Let us remember this world is not our home, but Heaven is our destiny. Our reward is not here, but there with Christ. Forget that ‘your best life now’ nonsense.
  • Let us remember that the things this hostile world may throw at us, while He may allow them to injure us, can never in the end harm us. God loves His own and in all the chaos is always looking out for us in the end.
  • Let us remember that we are not here to save America, to redeem its founding ideals from those who do not share them, to rescue our traditional culture from those determined to overthrow it, but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever in all things.
  • Let us remember not to pitch our tents on the right or the left, but to drive our stakes firmly in the kingdom where Christ rules. Belong to no person or party but Christ. Align with His interests, His law and His will and shun any alliance that may cause us to deviate.
  • Let us remember not to get caught up in fear of or anger over subversive forces or influences in such a way as to go to battle with them in the armaments of the flesh. Let us resist the world only the weapons of light (i.e., joyfully keeping His commandments and walking in an indomitable faith in Christ and in our ultimate triumph in Him). Let us refuse to let our passion for the truth and the glory of God get us sidetracked into actions and agendas of those who prefer to do combat with arms of men rather than the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
  • Let us remember that in the end we win, we win big, and in the interim, we have the grace and help of the Spirit of God to sustain us. In Christ He gives us everything necessary for life and godliness.
  • Let us remember to prepare our minds by investing more time in prayer and in the Word than sulking and seething at the latest flush of bad news from the media toilet.
  • Let us remember our mission as well as our manners. We are not here to stir the political pot or to vent our rage against the secular Machine but left here by Christ to damn the devil’s torpedoes and make disciples for Christ.
  • Finally, in pursuit of that project, let us abandon grandiose ideas of taking over the wheels of the culture that invariably corrupt those who seek influence and power. Let us leave the big picture to God and concentrate simply on what James Davidson Hunter calls “being a faithful presence” in this God-forsaken climate. Let us focus on just being salt and light in a dark and perverse world, headed, as always, straight to Hell in the devil’s handbasket.

That’s my pastoral advice for going forward. It is biblical to the bone. Follow that track and all will be well in the end.

Jim Andrews
Senior Pastor

The Bible and Homosexuals

Rescuing the Biblical Teaching from Gay Propaganda

Of all the arguments the homosexual community attempts to marshal in behalf of its lifestyle, none is more blatantly dishonest and deceitful than its efforts to disarm biblical testimony against it.

One notorious example of that type of intellectual fraud is a pamphlet someone handed me entitled “The Bible and the Homosexual,” by someone named “Merrill.” (I think it says something suspicious that the author would hide his full name from scrutiny).

The author’s agenda is to present gays as victims of centuries of gross misunderstanding about the biblical teachings regarding homosexuality. According to the writer, the problem took root with a misleading misinterpretation of the sin of Sodom.

Alas, we learn, contrary to popular conception, the defining sin of Sodom was not homosexuality at all. Actually it was nothing more than a radical case of inhospitality. In other words, the crowning wickedness of Sodom was not a sexual sin, but actually a social sin—one being replicated against gays by churches yet today.

By a stroke of Merrill’s literary magic wand the lesson of the narrative is ingeniously turned on its ear. It is the Christians, not the homosexuals, who are the modern counterparts of the sinners of Sodom and Gomorrah!

And guess who equates in this wild spin on the story of Lot to his oppressed house guests? The gays.

If something seems bizarre about this twist (and it is indeed a twist), it should.

This gross distortion of the biblical text illustrates how the homosexual lifestyle so assaults the human conscience and our innate moral sensibilities that it drives the transgressor to perfect the art of lying as a psychological defense mechanism.

This Johnny-come-lately interpretation of the moral condition of Sodom flies in the face of centuries of biblical scholarship (such late entries, by the way, are usually a sign of nuts and cults at work). The narrative is reinterpreted to serve the gay agenda aimed at changing the traditional perception of their unnatural sin. Putting aside gay propagandists who hide behind the respectability of biblical scholarship to mask their purpose, namely, to distort the Scriptures in rationalizing their sin, one would be hard put to find a Bible-respecting scholar who sees nothing more serious in the Sodom narratives than an infraction of the law of hospitality.

True, a strong historical consensus about an issue does not prove that the view shared by the overwhelming majority is necessarily right. On the other hand, that fact is by no means irrelevant if it is simply a question of a preliminary judgment about where the truth probably lies. However one is hardly compelled to leave the case to the mercy of that argument.

That the biblical authors themselves view the destruction of Sodom as related to a moral deficiency far more serious than bad social manners appears in passages like 2 Peter 2:6-7 and Jude 7. Consider, for instance, Jude’s comment on the judgment of Sodom.

“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”

Let’s be serious—who do you suppose misconstrued the Sodom account—Jude or this fellow Merrill?

To get some impression of the hatchet-job these gay propagandists do on the Scriptures, let’s go back to the Sodom narrative and see for ourselves what the evidence is. At this point it is important to actually read the narrative in Genesis 19:1-8 lest one gets snookered through unfamiliarity.

Bear in mind Merrill’s initial premise: the defining sin of Sodom was social, not sexual. That is, it is really an indictment of inhospitality, not homosexuality.

His case rests largely on the meaning of a Hebrew verb. Merrill alleges that in verse 5 the Hebrew verb yadah, traditionally understood (in this particular context) as a sexual euphemism, has been misunderstood.

To follow his argument (and mine) we need the benefit of a little linguistic background. Bear with me. It is necessary to follow closely here. The root meaning of this verb is simply “to know (experientially),” “to be acquainted with.” Several spin off connotations (a phenomenon familiar in all languages) derive from those senses. One of those spin off connotations was “to have sexual relations with.” From the idea of knowing someone in an experiential way it was a natural jump to employ this verb as a polite euphemism for sexual intercourse.

That semantic “jump” is not my theory; that is established linguistic fact and one that is true (of the concept of “knowing”) not only in the Hebrew language but other Oriental and Occidental languages as well. (see, for instance, Gesenius/Tregelles, Hebrew and English Lexicon, p. 334) Even Merrill concedes this.

So then, on what grounds does he cry “foul” and set aside the whole tradition of biblical scholarship in rejecting yadah as a sexual euphemism in this place?

Ah, here he’s tricky. On the face of it, his argument has plausibility—provided one doesn’t spot the fallacy and falls innocently into his trap.

Merrill tries to snare the unwary with a statistical fallacy. Since in only ten out of its 943 uses in the OT is yadah used as a sexual euphemism, Merrill argues the odds are greatly against its being used in that sense in Gen. 19.

Sounds reasonable—if the brain is on idle. Actually his seductive logic is fallacious to the max.

Let me illustrate just how illogical that is. I think you’ll see the problem with this line of reasoning (if you don’t already).

Let’s say that of all the people in the world, only 1 % qualify as rich (by some arbitrary standard). Using logic analogous to Merrill’s, I would then infer that that the odds are greatly against encountering the rich among the people I meet. I mean, if only 1% of all the world’s billions of denizens qualify as rich, man, that’s like finding a needle in wrecking yard.

But, whoa!

The problem with that logic is that, while the poor may vastly outnumber the rich overall, in specific socio-demographic areas the rich may actually greatly exceed the poor. For example, if one happens to live in a wealthy suburban enclave like Beverly Hills, the odds of one meeting a rich person improve dramatically.

Likewise with encountering the sexual connotation of yadah. Even though in the wider OT corpus yadah is used preponderantly in the sense of “to know” or “to be acquainted with” someone or something, in certain literary “suburbs” (e.g. in a context tinged with sexual overtones) one would expect to meet that semantic nuance far more frequently than normal as euphemism of coitus.

You see, the percentage of time a word is used in one sense as opposed to another is quite irrelevant as a predictor meaning. The meaning of a word in a given context is settled 1) by its semantic range (the totality of its possible senses 2) by whatever sense within that semantic range the context and its literary “codes” seem to require.

For instance, “bed” in a greenhouse context will most predictably be the soil in which plants are rooted, not the more familiar sense of a resting place.

On Merrill’s linguistic logic, one would contend that since in the vast majority of cases nationally the word “house” is used in the ordinary sense of a domicile or place of residence, it is therefore statistically improbable that on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. speakers would use that term in any sense other than its customary usage in Peoria. This reasoning is clearly wrong.

Now let’s give this fellow everything the text will allow.

Sodom and environs would win no hospitality awards. Unquestionably the Sodomites trashed the then sacred law of hospitality. This town was not a nice place. It was Perverse City. These people were scofflaws and outlaws. This isn’t a new insight.

However, to narrow the guilt of Sodom to a social rather than a sexual sin is a half-truth. In other words, on this score, Merrill’s argument is 50 per cent correct and 100 percent worthless. To flag inhospitality as the burden of the author is a literary analysis as superficial and off-target as charging a street gang of inhospitality for attempted sexual assault on a tourist!

The truth is, anytime one takes advantage of another’s vulnerability on one’s own turf, that is an inhospitable act. Muggers, thieves, extortionists, rapists and the whole host of evil doers all offend the laws of civility and hospitality.

However, should some local citizens or neighbors surround my home and demand sexual access to one of my guests, we can be reasonably certain when I call 911 that I won’t report that someone is behaving inhospitably! Nor would the police come upon such a scene and book the aggressors at my doors of bad manners. Nobody I know of would dumb down such sexual aggression as a mere lack of hospitability.

Of course someone will object that I am begging the question, that I am assuming a sexual advance—an interpretation of events that Merrill denies.

So let’s look at the literary context and see if Merrill’s proposal makes any sense.

We need to back up a little in Genesis for some background. [Read the passage and previous context. This is vital.] Earlier in Gen. 13:13 and Genesis 18:20 the Sodomites are excoriated as “wicked and sinners exceedingly” and guilty of sin “exceedingly grave.” I think you will agree that such language is a pretty heavy-handed indictment for a simple case of xenophobia.

This is not to minimize the sinfulness of inhospitality; we take it too lightly. On the other hand, the biblical accounts make it perfectly evident that the guilt of Sodom extended well beyond the sin of inhospitality. In fact in later biblical allusions (get out a biblical concordance and check for yourself) ‘Sodom’ becomes a veritable benchmark or symbol for wickedness. In short, it epitomizes moral corruption and spiritual rebellion.

In the face of all these allusions is Merrill going to persuade us that inhospitality or social discrimination is all that drove the wrath of God?

What would make that even stranger is that their social intolerance of outsiders clearly was far from uniform. Obviously the Sodomites permitted Lot and his family to settle and even prosper there. Lot and his family seem to be in no great hurry to get out of town. Apparently they didn’t feel that isolated and friendless in Sodom.

The ultimate proof, however, of Merrill’s literary ineptitude (or is it just plain duplicity) is the way he passes over the literary indications (see verse 8) that refute his thesis.

To see this, let’s follow the story line a minute.

Lot receives some angelic visitors disguised in human form (what we call a theophany). You might say the report of Sodom’s corruption had reached to high heaven and this was an on-site inspection tour. The angels arrived to take the pulse of Sodom… to measure first hand the extent of its outrages. In short, this is an attitude check… for both Lot and his fellow citizens.

Lot responds to them in the manner of the righteous, hospitably receiving the strangers. They assay his sincerity and it stands the test. When they offered to spend the night in the streets rather than trouble Lot, Lot insisted on taking them in.

And here is where the vileness of Sodom begins to expose itself. It is obvious that Lot knows the town… and its long-standing corruption. He anticipates very well what will happen if the outsiders linger in the streets after dark. That Lot knew the dangers of allowing his guests to roam loose in the city streets at night is apparent when he vehemently insists that they take shelter under his roof. Shortly thereafter the wisdom of this precaution is vindicated when a crowd besieged and surrounded his house and demanded “to know” the strangers.

What unbiased and intelligent reader would ever imagine from the context that the Sodomites were simply demanding Lot to bring them out so they could get acquainted and relieve their xenophobic fears. Clearly (from the dialogue that follows) what Lot feared (rightly) was a rape-out.

Now we have already shown that it is linguistic nonsense to argue that it foists an unnatural meaning upon the verb yadah to construe the Sodomites’ demand euphemistically of sexual relations. That sense is not only within the semantic range of the verb (as even Merrill admits) but more importantly, I will show, is precisely the sense that the literary clues demand.

Note, for example, that in verse 8 we encounter exactly the same Hebrew verb when Lot offers his two virgin daughters to the ravishing designs of the Sodomites in lieu of their violating the strangers to whom he had given shelter.

Whether Lot should have made such a choice is another issue entirely and not relevant to the one at hand. The fact is, I repeat, we are dealing with exactly the same verb in verse 5 and verse 8. I think all but the willfully obtuse can see that in verse 8 at least Lot was not suggesting that instead of his guests, he would instead sent out his two virgin daughters so that his townsmen might “get acquainted” with them. That alternative makes no sense whatever.

Clearly the point is that in a tension of evil choices, Lot proposes a painful alternative, namely, to allow his daughters to be ravished rather than transgress the sacred law of hospitality for strangers under the protection of his roof. Any other reading is so at variance with the plain sense of the context that one wonders how anyone can be so intellectually obtuse (or dishonest) as to put it forward.

To deny this is shows the lengths to which intellectual dishonesty can go. Merrill’s argument has about the same credibility as President Clinton denying that his behaviors with Monica Lewinsky did not constitute “sexual relations.” It goes to show how otherwise intelligent people, when they have an agenda, can do an intellectual by-pass of reason and with a straight face, look the facts in the eye, and deny them without blushing.

That the writer of the Book of Judges saw sodomy in the actions of the Sodomites seems clear when he relates an event that later transpired in Gibeah reminiscent of the wickedness in Sodom. (Read Judges 19:22-25)

In verse 25 the same verb yadah is used when the men of Gibeah insist on “knowing” a man whom one of their citizens had taken under his roof. Again, this demand turns out to be totally sexual in intent. Just as in Lot’s case, the head of the house offers his virgin daughter and his guest’s concubine up to the lust of his townsmen rather than the stranger.

From a literary point of view, the intent of the writer is to suggest the depths of depravity to which Israel during this period had sunk. It reminds one of the condition of Sodom and that is precisely the point of the anecdote.

The parallel is obvious;

“Gibeah had imbibed the morals of Canaan” and reduced itself to another Sodom. Inhospitality is just the tip; sexual perversion, ravenous lust is the iceberg.

What I have seen is what virtually every scholar has seen in this narrative (except gay advocates). Among the Bible versions in my library, I just pulled off the shelf The New Oxford Annotated Bible (Revised Standard Version) to see what note, if any, it might have on this passage. On page 23 where we find the text of Genesis 19:1-8 Bernhard Anderson, the annotating Old Testament scholar (and no fundamentalist by any stretch) makes this comment, which is representative of the consensus of historical biblical scholarship:

“4-11: Compare the crime of Gibeah (Judg 19.22-30). The episode is told to illustrate the sexual excesses of Canaanites. 5: Know refers to sexual relations (v.8), here homosexual (“sodomy”).

Merrill presses his case beyond the boundaries of the Genesis narrative. It is not my purpose to expose his specious arguments point for point, but simply to track down a few to illustrate the kind of devious reasoning “religious” homosexuals put forward under the guise of biblical “scholarship” and seduce the uninformed. They have an agenda and they will not let truth stand in their way. They will force, bend, and twist even the sacred to make it speak their language.

Merrill even tries to bring Jesus to their defense.

For example, he claims that Jesus in Luke 10:10-13 confirms that inhospitality was the real sin of Sodom.

In this context Jesus was sending seventy hand-picked disciples on an advance mission to the cities he intended to visit. He anticipates that in some cities their message will fall upon hostile ears and his disciples will not be welcomed. About those who refuse to welcome them, Jesus warns:

“…it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city [which is inhospitable to you].”

Now at the surface level inhospitality is here alright.

But, as in the case of Sodom, it is merely the tip of the offending iceberg. Merrill misses the point by 100 miles.

Jesus was rebuking the Galilean cities for something much deeper than a want of social grace. What they were rejecting at bottom was not the person of the disciples, but the revelation from heaven. In rejecting the disciples’ proclamation, they were refusing the in-breaking of the Kingdom (or sovereign rule) of God. In that respect they replicated the wickedness of Sodom. For the Sodomites also rejected a visitation from God. Instead of recognizing and welcoming their heavenly visitors-in-disguise, they plotted a gang rape! Jesus is pointing out that the cities of Israel have less excuse for their rejection than the Sodomites did for theirs and will therefore receive a greater judgment.

The form that rejection took was unquestionably anti-social. But to confine the offense to that level is a pathetically superficial analysis. It is akin to locating the offense of the Cross in a lack of social affability.

In a rare burst of honesty Merrill does concede that 2 Peter 2:6-7 and Jude 7 do identify the sin of Sodom as sexual in nature. But this concession, he makes out, is not as costly to his cause as it might at first appear to you and me. You see, when he (and his constituency) can no longer twist the language of Scripture to serve his own agenda, then he has the ultimate weapon, that is, the option of rejecting the authority of the offending Scripture.

In this respect he argues somewhat (and almost as amusingly) like the farmer I once heard about whose dog was accused to killing livestock. His first line of defense was to present evidence that his dog was a supremely gentle animal whose nature was contrary to such habits. Just in case the Justice of the Peace wasn’t sufficiently impressed with that defense, he climaxed his case with the argument that he didn’t even own a dog. He was covered!

That is the hypocritical way Merrill argues. Whenever the language of Scripture will not bend to his purpose, all of a sudden with a sweep of that magic dismissive wand he absolves himself of the difficulty by exorcising the demon. He simply casts out the embarrassing texts.

On what ground? Here he comes out of the closet. No longer posturing as a devout scholar bent on rescuing truth from tradition, he now dons a skeptics’ mantle and summarily waives 2 Peter and Jude out of the corpus of canonical Scripture! They, he announces in cavalier fashion, are spurious writings and can be righteously dismissed as the product of a homophobic tradition that grew up later.

Of course he is not the first to take that liberty. But it should be noted in passing that the prior existence of such views are simply a convenient expedient that he adopts to help his case out of an extreme difficulty. The truth is, such skeptical pronouncements have more to do with anti-supernatural worldviews than any supporting evidence.

It is a telling commentary on the integrity of polemicists like Merrill that on one hand they posture as those for whom the authority of Scripture is meaningful and give the appearance of wanting its authority in their corner. But whenever its plain teaching outruns all their ingenious attempts to distort it, then all of a sudden they turn on the canonical writings and dismiss their authority with a wave of the hand. The patent dishonesty is striking.

Another example of this voice-of-Jacob, hands-of-Esau duplicity is the tired old homosexual retort to prohibitions against sodomy from the so-called Holiness Code in Leviticus. When, for instance, one cites Mosaic legislation against homosexuality from passages like Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, gays love to come back derisively with an apparently “silly” statute from the same code:

“You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.” [Leviticus 19:19]

Their implication is that we surely cannot take seriously the legislation based on the Holiness Code; it is full of all kinds of such nonsensical bans related to ancient cultural traditions and taboos. If you want to stick with one, you have to take the whole package. That appears to be their reasoning.

The argument has superficial plausibility… until one understands the nature of the legislation and the underlying rationales.

First of all, any alert reader of this code will observe that the vast majority of the things prohibited fall into two categories: 1) timeless proscriptions of immoral behaviors that are still repugnant to the conscience of decent people the world over (including homosexuality) and 2) situationally inappropriate practices outlawed because they carried in that era idolatrous connotations. Any of them that might strike us today as peculiar or silly were all very sensible in terms of Israel’s cultural context and divine mission. In short, some holiness ordinances were situational and some were timeless moral prescriptions.

Many practices of the former kind (i.e., situationally inappropriate) scholars are familiar with and can explain the religious function they served. Others however we are still in the dark about. In that category fall the proscriptions of Leviticus 19:19 and similar ones reiterated in Deuteronomy 22:9-11. Their rationale is uncertain. It may eventually turn out that practices of this kind were connected, like others we know about, to obscure pagan customs and were therefore declared verboten.

That makes sense. If argyle socks take on idolatrous associations in our culture, then it would be appropriate for Christians to wear other hosiery. We call it “sending a message.” However Christians 3000 years hence, without the benefit of a context, might find such a prohibition weird. So gay mockery of Leviticus 19:19 is wildly premature and presumptuous.

Another theory with respect to these specific injunctions in 19:19 would discover in these statutes an implicit indictment of unnatural things like homosexuality. And that theory, I suspect, is the more probable rationale for them. It is that suggested in a footnote on Deuteronomy 22:9-11 in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 246 where similar codes are found. Such statutes where intended to underscore differences God had built into the order of creation. These regulations were a form of legal pedagogy designed to impress on the Israelites that God had created differences, set boundaries in the natural order that ought to be respected. Even if some were arbitrary, they still served notice that God has established lines that ought not be crossed and helped sensitize the nation to those limits.

We see similar laws in Israel’s religious rituals. Emphasis on external uncleanness conditioned Israel’s conscience for the idea of inward holiness. It was form of pedagogy not unlike what one sees in military discipline where soldiers are subjected to arbitrary rules and regulations which have no timeless value, but do serve to inculcate the kind of mental discipline and obedience required of a soldier.

So the bottom line is this: if our theory is correct, the lesson about “differences” only reinforces the prohibition against homosexuality which, like bestiality, is contrary to the natural order, as even human anatomy and reproduction bear emphatic witness.

If our theory is wrong, however, it still doesn’t help the homosexual apologetic one iota, for all we have is a series of prohibitions, the cultural rationale of which is still obscure to us. We can’t dismiss the whole code as silly just because scholars in their present state of ignorance cannot establish the underlying reason for a few of its parts. From the knowledge we do possess, we know enough to be certain that whatever the rationale was, it made perfect sense in their situation and offers no relief to those who want to set aside Leviticus 19:19 and other OT passages which condemn the practice of homosexuality.

Another important point: the fact that some of Israel’s statutes applied only to conditions then extant, is no ground for writing off the rest as time-bound legal relics no longer of any moral force in modern society. Not all her laws were created equal in that respect.

Ritual and moral laws are found side by side.

How do we know which are timeless? It’s really rather simple. Follow the progress of revelation past its theocratic stage into birth of the Church and the apostolic era. Note what the Apostles bring forward and what is left behind.

Animal sacrifice is left behind, for example. It was just a form of ceremonial pedagogy. (Read Hebrews 9) Yet one indictment persists into the NT for sure—and loud and clear. The NT roundly condemns homosexual behavior. For example, Paul in Romans 1:26-27 cites the practice as one of the symptoms of on-going divine judgment on a race that refuses the light of revelation. God punishes sin with its own fruit—deeper sin. It takes the form of degrading passions and a depraved mind and homosexuality is one (by no means however the only one) of the sins which is most characteristic of that judicial action of God upon a race that loves darkness more than light.

The same apostle makes it crystal clear in 1 Corinthians 6:9 that practicing homosexuals (among others) must not deceive themselves; their lifestyles confirm their unregenerate and unrepentant state. Such will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

That he does not include in that category repentant homosexuals is obvious from verse 11:

“Such were some of you; but you are washed… sanctified…justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…”

God welcomes repentant sinners of all kinds, including homosexuals, into His family.

With that note let me clarify in closing our Christian attitude about homosexuals.

Historic Christianity acknowledges the Scripture as the supreme court on issues of faith and practice. We believe in God and in the reality of divine revelation. The one repository of special or propositional revelation, we believe, is the Scriptures. Whatever they teach, we believe God teaches. The only outstanding question is what do they really teach? Whatever that is, that is binding upon the minds and consciences of all men.

We are convinced that beyond any reasonable question the Bible condemns, among other evils, homosexual behavior repeatedly and emphatically. The Christian therefore is obliged to make the call as God calls it. God is love and it is of the essence of love to loathe evil. Any posturing about love that winks at what God calls evil is just that—posturing. No one loves without loving what is good and hating what is evil.

Homosexuality is evil. It destroys those who practice it and it breaks down those boundaries that God has created for the good of society. It is personally and socially destructive. So without apology we condemn it and hate it…just as we hate adultery, thievery, promiscuity, lying, etc. We do not however hate the sinner just as good parents love their wayward children, but hate the reprehensible things they do. So too, God loves the sinner, but hates the sin. He judged the sin at the Cross, yet at the very same time His grace provided a way for forgiveness and salvation.

That is our message for the homosexual. They (as we once were) are lost in sin and need God’s pardon through Jesus Christ who died for their sins and stands ready to receive those who will in faith repent and turn to Him for salvation.

Nothing is asked of the homosexual that isn’t also required of us. We too were sinners in rebellion against God… each of us in our own way. Some among us were once homosexuals, murderers, thieves, drug dealers, adulterers, etc. The church is a congregation of forgiven sinners endowed with new life in Christ.

One day we all had to admit that there was none righteous, no, not one. From the pastor on down we had to come to terms with our sin and call a spade a spade. We came to the Cross, so to speak, with the whole messy bag of our sins and threw them down at the feet of the Savior who died to atone for our sins. In faith we asked for His forgiveness and in return He extended to us a complete pardon and unqualified acceptance.

We don’t want to keep the homosexual out; we want to invite them in to join us at the foot of the Cross where they will ask for and receive the same forgiveness we applied for. We want them to share with us the same Savior, the same pardon, the same freedom of the power of sin, the same fellowship of the Spirit and the same future with Christ in presence of God.

The sticking point in the case of homosexuals is that they more vehemently deny their sin than almost any other class. Yet their shrill, methinks-the-lady-doeth-protest-too-much” rage betrays their heavy sense of guilt.

Their fury tells on them like nothing else.

Yet we cannot and must not pander to their sensitivities. For there is no way homosexuals (or murderers or thieves or liars or adulterers or any other sinner) can find God apart from acknowledgment of their guilt. That is why we press the issue of repentance so hard. Many homosexuals still want God, but like ancient Israel, they want to have a relationship with Him on their own self-righteous terms. It won’t fly. It’s God’s way or no way… the narrow way… the way of repentance and the way of faith in Christ.

If that’s intolerance, it’s a Godly kind and we own up to it. If seeking out sinners and inviting them to repent and share in our own forgiveness and the fellowship of the people of God is hate, we cheerfully plead guilty. It is just love under another label in that case. May such “bigots” (if you call that bigotry) be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. If that’s bigotry, then Jesus and the apostles and prophets were world class bigots and we are proud to be numbered among them.

Homosexuality and the Fallacy of the Genetic Determinism Defense

In trying to gain acceptance of their perverse lifestyle and convince the public that their “problem” is not a problem, homosexuals have appealed to Science for exculpation and admission to moral acceptability in the public opinion. Armed with the premise that their homosexuality is a matter of genetic coding, and reinforced with their political clout in the media and the arts and entertainment, not to mention business and government, they have gone far to gaining their ends and framing the issues in their own faulty terms.

I want to speak only to what I call the “genetic bondage” aspect of the debate. I am neither a geneticist nor the son or friend of one. Nor have I studied genetics. So what qualifies me to speak to a subject that I know so little about? Logic … common sense. And I will confine my argument to that sphere—which I think is sufficient to explode any notion that a homosexuality lifestyle is genetically fixed and that to attempt to bend the tree against nature is unreasonable and probably an unhealthy imposition on the individual affected.

My line of argument will for the sake of argument assume that there is some genetic basis for homosexuality. In a precautionary way, I myself entertain suspicions about the validity of the premise. Why? It’s pretty simple. Do you implicitly trust the objectivity and the disinterestedness of the conclusions reached by the scientists on the payroll of tobacco companies? I certainly don’t. The same goes for ‘science’ practiced in behalf of other vested interests. I do not trust scientists with an agenda anymore than I trusted the impartiality of the O.J. Simpson jury or the sincerity of his defense team in their protest of his innocence. I think science and scientists are not above prostituting themselves for monetary gain, or tweaking the evidence or their methodology to maintain alignment with the canons of political correctness.

Who knows if the studies that support the genetic determinism theory are really valid? Who knows whether or not the scientists involved may not have been gay or their work urged by gays and their methodology tricked up a bit to support an agenda? I don’t say this happened. I just know it does happen and there is no group that would be more likely to make it happen than gays whom, I believe, will perpetrate any intellectual fraud necessary to advance their cause. So before I would ever subscribe to the premise I have stipulated for the sake of argument, I for one would have to have better assurance than I possess about the integrity of the personnel and the methodology involved.

Even if that were established beyond any reasonable doubt, there is another question that any thoughtful layman would ask: Is genetic coding malleable? This is, can exogenous factors ‘impose’ change upon genetics and reprogram them? I think I read a discussion about this in one of the news magazines a few years ago and there was, if I recall, some evidence of genetic adaptability to outside influences. Though I do not subscribe to the evolutionary hypothesis at the macro level, the whole theory presupposes genetic mutation, does it not? Is it possible that genetic programming may in some cases follow or be the consequence of behaviors? I mean, we can cause a tree to grow contrary to its original bent by external conditioning, can’t we?

Again, I confess I don’t really know the answer.

I suspect however this is perhaps an issue that geneticists may not know for sure themselves. If so, it’s back to square one.

But let me tell you what I do know. All human being are ‘wired’ up in such a way that they are predisposed to do what the Bible calls evil rather than good. Let a child alone and it will go bad on auto pilot. I personally—like everyone else—have inherited genes that predispose me, just as they disposed some of my relatives in the same gene pool—to certain family excesses. If I let nature have its way, I could have been Rambo (not to mention other things). By the grace of God I am not what my genes set me up to be and occasionally beg me to be.

The fact is genes do not predetermine our conduct. Yes, they may predispose us in certain directions, but in the moral area anyway, there is a genetic override in the will. As moral free agents, we are obliged to recognize through the conscience what is right and wrong and deny genetic predisposition its wants.

So there is no determinism. Disposition perhaps, not determinism. If it were otherwise, then it would be impossible for a genetically determined individual to change. Yet many do—and happily so. Gays would like to hide this fact (or deny it all together), but that is a fact, as some of know very well. One unaccounted for exception raises questions. Many are the death of a theory. The fact is there are many, many fugitives from the homosexual lifestyle.

Besides, how do we explain heterosexuals who at some points experiment with homosexuality and go both ways or become gays altogether? Did genetics have some sort of delay mechanism or is the whole premise just propaganda disguised as scientific?

Why I am Posting This (Long) Paper

As your pastor I feel the pressure always to try to keep on top of what is going on ‘out there,’ to not live in an intellectual cocoon, but to be more or less on top issues (moral, social, political) that have a bearing on our Christian life, witness, mission and worldview. Some things I have addressed before, but changing times and circumstances move me to think it is time for a re-run to make sure our people, if they are not already, are informed.

For example, an interest behind and driving so many of these political far left issues, including the BLM movement, is, of all things, the quest for unbounded sexual ‘freedom.” I call it the desire for sexual anarchy.

Several decades ago, when I was reading Paul Johnson, British historian (Intellectuals), it dawned on me. Virtually every modern figure he sketched in that wonderful work, though it was not his intention to call attention to this fact, was behind the scenes a sexual deviate. Then it hit me forcefully: whatever these folks are widely known for and are supposed to be all about, disguises the fact that underneath, almost to a person (as I recall), they were sexually twisted and driven.

In the decades since nothing has changed that perception. Even this BLM movement, when one reads their formal statement of purpose, (which I have) is not really about saving black lives. Actually, the movement is pretty much a cover for their Marxist philosophy and their broader agenda is dismantling all our traditional norms related to the nuclear family and sexual boundaries. What these folks say publicly is one thing; what their agenda is privately is to tear down those traditional norms, which of course were derived from a biblical worldview.

The only other person I know of who also made this connection was the late D. James Kennedy. That link gets overlooked regularly, so it is so important to understand it as a significant root of all the turmoil taking place today.

Of course, when we talk about the drive and pressure to create space for sexual anarchy (complete freedom from all boundaries, biblical or otherwise), it evokes the determination to morally normalize the practice of homosexuality (and putting God’s Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the whole alphabet of sexual perversities).

And in the process, knowing that our Christian worldview stands out like the Empire State Building in opposition to that whole deviant lifestyle, they then go into Scripture twisting mode to make it appear (to the ignorant and those just wanting an excuse to buy their propaganda) that actually the supposed biblical testimony against this sin is either sketchy or distorted. And the confusion begins.

Recently a lady told me that she has heard comments that homosexuality is only mentioned “in one place in the Bible,” as if only one condemnation lessens its moral force. However, that statement is flat out wrong. Then you will hear that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality at all, but inhospitality! Oh, my goodness. And the favorite, the claim of genetic determinism or “God made me this way!” Evidently, God’s words and works were not on the same page.

So, if you want to know the impetus for me posting this particular paper, there you have the context. I will not allow this sort of deceit to go uncontested, at least in our church. So many pastors and churches are giving in, afraid of the backlash, wanting to conform to the cultural drift and avoid getting marginalized and seen as social pariahs. To cave and live outside the boundaries to the truth is the surest way to irrelevance and extinction that I know.

Read The Bible and Homosexuals: Rescuing the Biblical Teaching from Gay Propaganda.

Jim Andrews
Senior Pastor

Previous Posts