Homosexual vs. Heterosexual Monogamy: Faithfulness is not the Issue

The question is asked by some, “If two people of the same gender are faithful to each other why should they not be able to get married?  What could be wrong with that? Who does it hurt?”

The problem with this line of thinking is that it equates faithfulness with righteousness.   Faithfulness, however, is not a brute virtue.  Faithfulness to something or someone provides no indication of the morality of that fidelity.   There are people who are faithful to the pro-life movement and there are people who are faithful to the pro-abortion movement.  Both of these people cannot be right:  though each be equally faithful.

The issue is not whether two people of the same gender are faithful to each other.  The issue is what they are being faithful to.  A sinner’s faithfulness to sin does nothing to legitimize sin.

Legalized or not.

 

John Calvin: Mind Numbingly Incongruous on Baptism

With this being the 500th anniversary of his birth, I have been reading through John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion. I have enjoyed the journey thoroughly.  One thing in particular is the pastoral tone throughout the work.   It has alerted me that anyone who tries to pass off Calvin as the dour dictator of Geneva has obviously spent little time actually reading the man.  Not too surprising I suppose.

Another aspect that has been particularly edifying is Calvin’s repeated statement that we must depend on Scripture alone for faith and practice.  His constant  embrace of the text of Scripture and persistent reluctance to go beyond the clear teaching of Scripture is very instructive.  About 250 pages in I told a fellow-reader that I needed to start keeping track of all such statements.  Alas, I never started keeping the list and the statements just kept on coming.

So it was particularly dissapointing to me when I read the following:

Whether the person baptised is to be wholly immersed, and that whether once or thrice, or whether he is only to be sprinkled with water, is not of the least consequence: churches should be at liberty to adopt either, according to the diversity of climates, although it is evident that the term baptise means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church. (Institutes 4.15.19)

I have no problem at all with the last phrase, “although it is evident that the term baptise means to immerse, and that this was the form used by the primitive Church.”  I have no problem with this because pretty much anyone who is honest with the evidence admits the same thing.  As Phillip Schaff has written, “Respecting the form of baptism, the impartial historian is compelled by exegesis and history substantially to yield the point to the Baptists.”  The word “baptism” means immersion.  Immersion was the practice of the NT church and the entire church for the next several centuries.

So after 1100 pages with multiple injunctions to rely wholly on Scripture for faith and practice; after stating the biblical word means immersion; after conceding that the church for centuries actually did immerse; we are told, “Whether the person baptised is to be wholly immersed, and that whether once or thrice, or whether he is only to be sprinkled with water, is not of the least consequence: churches should be at liberty to adopt either…”

In other words, throw out the clear meaning of Scripture; disregard centuries of church practice (20+ centuries if you consider the Orthodox witness); every church is free to practice whatever is convenient.  Sobering.

I praise God for the impact John Calvin had and continues to have on the kingdom of Christ.  I am unworthy to unlatch his shoe.  But I pray that God’s Spirit would graciously continue to convict me of all my beliefs that are theological instead of Scriptural.

The Sting of Death–On the mixed blessing of modern medicine.

“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

I am 35 years old and relatively sting-free from that old nemesis, Death. Had I been born even 20 years earlier this would probably not be so.

At the age of 3 months our first daughter developed Pyloric Stenosis. While a relatively common ailment, and now relatively quick to remedy, had she not had the needed surgery she would have starved to death.

Our second daughter was born 7 weeks early and unable to breathe on her own. Without NICU treatment she would have suffocated herself.

Last year my dad had a heart attack caused by a 90% blockage in one of his arteries. He was treated at the cardiac center and had the artery cleared.

Last week my father-in-law was in a serious accident that led to a large blood clot in the brain that required immediate surgical attention. He (and we) are now in the very lengthy process of recovery from such an injury. An injury that the neurosurgeon told us ended the life of 40% of those who have it.

I am 35 years old and relatively untouched by the sting of death.

But I cannot help but wonder what might have been. What if I had been born in 1954 instead of 1974? I would be 35 years old and would have already “lost” to death two daughters, my father, and father-in-law. I cannot help but wonder what these stings might have done in my life. Would they have embittered me toward the Lord and giver of life? Or would they have opened up grand vistas of God’s goodness I could not otherwise have known?

At a recent conference Carl Trueman remarked that he is often asked what age of history he could live in if he had his choice. He gave a very practical answer: this one. Can you imagine living in a day when catching a cold could be fatal? When epidemics actually killed millions instead of just scaring them? Dying from an infection from a splinter?

We indeed live in blessed times. But I pray that somehow I never forget that it is Christ that has removed death’s sting. Not the anesthesiologist.

Glory be to God.