Things I read that made me think: 9/1/2013

I figured I would start doing a weekly post on things I’ve read during the week that you should check out because they made me think. I’m not good at ranking things so this list is purely in the random order that they came to mind.

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What is the burden of proof in the #Methodist #homosexuality debate?

Gay-Symbol-WallpaperIn the American justice system, all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt. Defense attorneys do not have to prove their client’s innocence; they just have to find enough holes in the prosecution’s argument to establish that they have not been proven guilty. But in the debate over Biblical interpretation on homosexuality, the burden of proof falls entirely on the defendants to prove their innocence. What if my fellow Methodists who are anti-gay had to provide not only isolated proof-texts and speculative translations of obscure Greek words but a coherent Biblical ethical explanation of why chaste monogamous homosexual partnerships are “incompatible with Christian teaching”? I think that would be a much more just and legitimate burden of proof. Continue reading

My wife is not a rotisserie chicken or a leaky faucet

Complementarian megachurch pastors are like pitchers who only throw 40 mile an hour change-ups. It feels cheap and dirty to swing at their pitches, but I’m genuinely bothered by what I’ve been hearing lately from that strange foreign land where Christians believe that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands. First I learned that it’s trendy for pastors in that world to tweet out photos and commentary to their congregations about their “smoking hot wives.” And then Mark Driscoll busts out his latest gaffe (transcript here) about how nagging wives who refuse to submit to their husbands are like leaky faucets that keep you awake at night with their dripping. So I just needed to say that my wife is not a rotisserie chicken or a leaky faucet. Continue reading

Looking Back on 2012: Aug-Sept

August and September were busy months for my blog. There was the Chik-Fil-A drama and other culture war nonsense. Both political parties held their conventions. Then the Benghazi attack happened. In September, our church did a sermon series called “Jesus is My Candidate” that I tried and spectacularly failed to turn into some kind of bigger “movement.” The idea was to transcend partisanship and avoid saying and doing things that would dishonor Jesus’ name. So here are 10 posts on culture wars, morality, marriage, American Pelagianism, holy war, the fear of God, and other matters. Continue reading

Submission As Leadership, Marriage As Mutual Servanthood

Few verses in the Bible have been more damaging historically to women in Western civilization than Ephesians 5:22 — “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” This has been a go-to verse in the argument against giving the women the right to vote or letting them have careers outside the home; more drastically it has been used to counsel women in abusive relationships not to leave their husbands since they should submit to them even if they’re violent. It was because of this history that my wife Cheryl and I decided to tackle this verse in the first sermon that we preached together seven years ago at our wedding, also because the passage from which it’s taken — Ephesians 5:21-33 — has beautiful wisdom to share about marriage when the social and Biblical context for the passage is properly understood. This past weekend at Burke United Methodist Church, we preached together on this passage again, washing each others’ feet while the other one spoke in order to model our understanding that submission is the form that Christian leadership takes. Continue reading

Worship not performance

In contemporary Christian worship, a distinction is often made between worship that is “really worship” versus “just a performance.” For example, does the music invite authentic congregational participation or is it filled with guitar solos, pyrotechnics, and fog machines that make the service a concert that gives people goose bumps for cheap manufactured reasons? I want to look at a different contrast between worship and performance that I see at the heart of the gospel. I believe we were created to worship every moment of every day. The purpose of gathering to sing and pray and learn each weekend is merely to retune ourselves for a week of worship. The problem is that we misunderstand what worship means: we think it’s performing for God, putting on a show to prove to Him that we really believe in Him so that He won’t throw us in hell. But performance is actually the greatest obstacle to true worship, the definition of which is summarized in a single verse — Psalm 37:4: “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” It’s not hard to learn how to worship; my three year old son knows perfectly how. The impossible challenge that Jesus died on the cross to make possible is unlearning performance. Continue reading

Why gender hierarchy makes no Biblical sense to me

My wife and I decided to do something bold for our wedding. Each of us preached while the other person washed our feet, rotating halfway through the sermon. The text we preached on was the controversial Ephesians 5:22-33 passage which says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord.” I’ve been thinking of our sermon lately as I’ve encountered the reviews of megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll’s new book Real Marriage, which apparently takes his views on the divinely ordained inferiority of women to a new level. Rachel Held Evans is gentler in her review than conservative evangelical blogger David Moore. I’m not going to talk about a book that I don’t have time to read, but I thought I would share some of what my wife and I preached about as my contribution to this week’s blogosphere conversation about marriage. Continue reading