Joshua: Part 3 (Do we value what God values?)

PART THREE

So God probably knows stuff that we don’t know. But if we knew what He knew…would we come out to the same conclusion?

Perhaps…but perhaps not. Which leads to the next section…

DO WE VALUE WHAT GOD VALUES? IF NOT, WHY?

Let’s start with the center of all my theology…but this is where I get cautious, because this is where the lines are drawn. How someone reacts to this statement reveals something about our spiritual disposition…

God is self-centered.

But let me explain…God IS ACTUALLY THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. When we say “Jimmy over there is self-centered,” we are criticizing. Jimmy is not actually the center of the universe, and therefore, for him to be self-centered is bad. But God is actually the center of the universe, so for Him to be self-centered is good. EVERYBODY SHOULD BE GOD-CENTERED…including God.

Does that mean that God is selfish? I guess that depends on how you define selfish…but no. Because the concept of “good” and “morality” is not something that God wrote into existence, but more like something that God IS. So when we are God-centered, we also happen to be centered on the paragon of morality and goodness…because He is. As Jesus put it…”Why do you call me good? There is only One who is good…” (was Jesus denying that He was God? Or rather saying “Are you calling me good because you know that I am God?”)

So is God self-centered? Yes…and what I mean is that since God is the most important being in the universe, He knows it. He doesn’t bashfully pretend that He isn’t important. Therefore, the most important thing in the universe to God is Himself and His glory.

Most people get mad at a statement like that. But the reason they get mad at that statement is because they think that God prioritizes Himself AT THE EXPENSE OF people. But no. WHEN GOD IS THE CENTER, EVERYBODY WINS.

God created your digestive system, your taste buds, and food for His glory. When you enjoy how food tastes, you use them the way God wanted you to use them. God gets glory as the inventor of this neat system. You enjoy food. Everybody wins.

God created my reproductive system, and my wife’s reproductive system. I will spare you the details that you don’t want to hear about, but we enjoyed what God created of ourselves. Then, she conceived. I am convinced that Abrielle has her mom’s nose, but my eyes and ears. I’ve never reproduced a child before. I have now. It is really freaking awesome. But since God created our reproductive systems, we glorify Him when we use them for what they are for. He gets the glory, we get to enjoy the benefits. Everybody wins.

When sin entered into humanity, part of the temptation was “you will be like God.” Therefore, sin involves us being “self-centered” instead of “God-centered.” This hits us on multiple levels, both macro and micro…

Micro: The individual. Sin’s presence in me makes me inclined to want to glorify myself and make decisions for myself (about actions or what I think is right and wrong), rather than glorify God and let Him make decisions for me.

Macro: Mankind as a whole. We judge things “Right” or “Wrong” based on how they benefit or harm mankind. Sin inclines us to want to have authority…we want mankind to be the decision maker on what is “Right” or “Wrong.”

So most of us have a MAN-CENTERED framework of morality, rather than a GOD-CENTERED framework of morality. And then…get this…we measure God to OUR standard of morality (implying that these are rules that God has to play by…implying that the rules are ABOVE Him).

Even good Christians do this. Here’s a test…you believe that God is good. Why do you believe that?

Most of the Christians I ask this question answer with the following: “Because God gave me His son, so that I wouldn’t go to hell but so that I would live with Him forever!” BUT DO YOU SEE THE PROBLEM? I believe that God is good BECAUSE He gave His son for me. I measure God’s goodness or badness on whether He serves mankind or not. What He does for ME is what makes Him good. What He does for US is what makes Him good. Do you see the problem here? Are we willing to say that if God didn’t give us Jesus Christ, that He would be bad? Like He owed it to us? Like the higher power of morality demanded that it’s underling, God, obeyed it by sending His son?

God is good because good is who He is.

So does this mean that someone should be God-centered at the expense of mankind? No. Mankind is important to God…mankind is close to His heart. He values us. Therefore, when someone is God-centered, they treat mankind better. But I have noticed that when someone is man-centered…they always deteriorate to valuing someone based on what benefit they are to mankind. A God-centered person treats each person with the same value that God holds for them. A man-centered person views the doctor as more valuable than the retard or the handicapped because of how much they benefit society. A man-centered person might start out valuing mankind…but societies like this degenerate until they view the elderly and disabled as WORTHLESS.

So to put this long side-tangent aside, ALL MORALITY IS BASED ON THIS: Are we God-centered or man-centered? Do we treat God the way He wants to be treated? If God is the center of the universe, and if God is perfect, then He has the right to require this.

So based on this alone, even without all the other things that could go wrong, if God said that idolatry was deserving of death, isn’t this good and right?

And if we disagree…why do we disagree? On what basis shall we say that “Murder is deserving of death, but idolatry is only deserving of a stern warning or perhaps a five-minute time out”? Do offenses against man make us angrier than offenses against God? Why?

God is for Himself (which is good!) and along with that, God is for anyone who chooses to be on His side. He has made being on His side very easy (the only requirement is faith in Jesus Christ), although it is very hard for our prideful nature to prioritize Him over us.

SO DO WE VALUE WHAT GOD VALUES? If not, why not?

The Art of Apologetics: Homosexuality (Part 3) – Theological, NOT sociological reasons

On our little trip through this topic, we took a big detour. That detour had five stops…

  1. If God, the perfect being, is real, then He is smarter and more “moral” than we are, and therefore, what we think of His rules is irrelevant. Will a two-year-old tell his parents how to parent?
  2. We tend to view everything from the perspective of a man-centered concept of morality (mankind decides whether they approve or disapprove of certain morals and values, and mankind approves or disapproves based on how much mankind benefits). However, God views everything from God-centered morality (God decides whether He approves or disapproves of certain morals or values, and He approves based on how much He benefits.) However remember: When God benefits, everybody benefits…unless somebody has decided to be His enemy.
  3. The overall, end-all-be-all purpose of all created things is to glorify their Creator. They glorify their Creator when they do what their Creator intended them to do.
  4. Whatever somebody believes the purpose of sex to be, that belief will lead them to their views on sexual morality and immorality.
  5. The God-given purpose of sex is unity between a man and a woman.

 

So finally, after this detour, we are now back on our main road. And our main road is intending to do this. Let me copy and paste my goals from the first homosexuality post:

 

Goals for this series:

  1. Explain to Christians why God says this, and where in the Bible God says it.
  2. Demonstrate a respectful attitude towards the opposing viewpoint, without compromising my position or watering it down.
  3. Demonstrate how to find the merits of the opposing viewpoint. Demonstrate an attempt to understand where they are coming from. Demonstrate how to totally disagree with a viewpoint without diminishing it. Demonstrate how to take that viewpoint seriously.
    • I have a request to opponents of my view…this is where I need your feedback. If you feel I am succeeding in my goal, let me know. If you feel I am disrespectful, let me know. I NEED your feedback here!
  4. Along with number three, my goal is to show an example of finding the presupposed values that result in the differing viewpoints.

Why does God say that homosexuality is wrong?

Let me repeat my earlier statement…

IF God exists, and IF the Bible is 100% the Word of God, and IF we are interpreting it correctly, THEN homosexuality is morally wrong.

I don’t think you can really get around that statement. But if you will accept that statement, and if you believe the first three parts of that sentence (God exists, Bible is His word, we are interpreting it correctly), then the next question is, why? God prohibits homosexuality in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Why?

 

Inadequate reasons – the “sociological” ones

I have heard Christians defend this belief in so many different ways, and it’s usually using sociological reasons. For example, “homosexuality is wrong because it’s bad for the children involved. Since children need both a male parent and a female parent, same-sex marriages are bad for children. That’s why it’s wrong.”

The problem with this reasoning is twofold:

  1. Consistency: If “bad for children” is a reason that it’s wrong, anything that is bad for children should be equally wrong.
  2. The rule of “if” (to be covered in a later blog): If “bad for children” is the reason that homosexuality is wrong, the question should be asked: If it weren’t bad for children, would it be alright? If not…there must be another reason.

 

Insert all sorts of other reasons here. “The homosexual life is naturally promiscuous.” Same goes for heterosexuals. “Homosexual relationships often don’t last.” Same goes for heterosexuals.

 

And by the way, I believe that sometimes somebody (both Christians and non-Christians) will totally ignore the world around them in order to be right…but it makes them look foolish or naïve. If somebody came up to me and said “homosexuals make lousy parents,” I would immediately discount their credibility. I have gotten to know and work with same-sex couples who make great parents (three different same-sex couples come to the top of my head). Their kids love them and respond well to them.

Because when somebody says this to me, the world around me tells me otherwise. Therefore, if I am told that this is the reason that homosexuality is wrong, not only am I unconvinced, but the person talking to me looks like a fool. They look prejudiced.

 

So why do I believe that homosexuality is wrong? For one reason, and one reason only.

You remember how we talked about how one’s beliefs are resultant of other beliefs? Here’s how this one works.

IF God created sex, and IF God’s intended purpose for sex was unity between a man and a woman, and IF sex accomplishing that purpose glorifies God, then homosexuality is wrong because it is a rejection of the way God created sex, therefore it does not glorify Him as it should. There is no other reason that it is wrong. None. It is wrong for theological (God-related) reasons, not sociological reasons.

 

We’re going to get a little graphic for a moment…but it’s for a good reason, I promise.

See, as we talked about, something glorifies the Creator when it does what it was supposed to do. So let’s talk about vaginas.

The vagina is an accommodating organ. It starts out with a hymen, which is broken usually upon first intercourse. Starting out small, it actually conforms itself to whatever penis size the husband has. In fact, if someone saves their virginity until marriage, then a man’s penis size (whether big or small) has no impact on the woman’s sexual pleasure. If a man has a small penis, the vagina will conform itself.

However, if a woman is promiscuous, she will feel a difference between bigger penises and smaller penises. This is not how it was intended to be.

Let us also note that when a woman is sexually aroused (as I covered in the sex blogs, “sexually attracted” doesn’t mean the same thing as “sexually aroused”. See here for more detail), the vagina actually self-lubricates to prepare for intercourse.

As for penises, they are made out of a spongy material (hence the term “boner” is actually kinda misleading) that becomes solid when blood runs through it. The penis has perhaps the most complex network of mini veins and arteries in the human body for that very reason. So, I know this isn’t rocket science, but I’m doing to surprise you with new information. Did you know that when a man gets sexually aroused, his penis becomes hard and long? Amazing, right? I’m sure you’ve never heard that before.

The point of all this graphic-ness is that the male reproductive system and the female reproductive system go together perfectly, like a lock and key. The vagina readies itself for the penis. The penis readies itself for the vagina. And this is glorifying to God because it is so readily obvious that He made them for each other. Something so amazing is obviously His handiwork, and He is proud of what He has crafted, and He should well be.

And I only freaking scratched the surface. I didn’t even talk about what was going on inside the human body…I only talked about the outside genital activity. We didn’t even talk about tubes, or hormones, or gametes, or anything like that. We didn’t even talk about how the uterus is a muscle that pushes the baby out, and then shrinks back to its regular size. Crazy.

 

I do not mean to be crude, but the vagina was not made for the vagina. And the penis was not made for anywhere else. The penis and the vagina were made by God with a purpose in mind, and when this purpose is accomplished, God is glorified.

 

So I repeat…Homosexuality is wrong for one reason, and one reason only. It is a rejection of the way God made sex for the way so that someone could remake sex how they like it. In fact, in the “homosexuality passage” in Romans, notice what comes right before Paul talks about homosexuality…

 

Rom 1:20-27 (NIV)

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

 

The problem is not homosexuality. The problem is a failure to glorify the One who deserves to be glorified.

 

And in my belief set, this totally fits the rules that I stated above…

  1. Consistency – I believe that homosexuality is wrong because it fails to glorify God. Therefore, I hold it as equally wrong with anything that fails to glorify God (which includes things that I do or don’t do).
  2. The “if” rule – If homosexuality did glorify God, then I would have see nothing wrong with it.

 

Homosexuality is not wrong because of sociological reasons…it is wrong because of theological reasons. God gave me my genitals…therefore He has the right to decide what their purpose is. The purpose of my genitals is to glorify God, so let me use my genitals the way He wants me to use them.

 

 

 

 

That is officially the best ending sentence of a blog post that I have ever written. In my life.

The Art of Apologetics: A different view of right & wrong – Part 2 (man-centered morality vs. God-centered morality)

Remember the statement that I am defending…

The most important thing to God is His own glory.

Some of us don’t like that. But we’ll get there.

As covered last post, Christians often teach “everybody wants to be God.” What they mean is not that everybody wants to be worshipped, but that nobody wants to be subservient to anyone’s authority/judgment/standards. They want to decide their own standards.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s not always “they” as in “the individuals.” I am really talking about humanity. In fact, a worldview called “humanism” started to make headways in the past century. The “humanist manifesto,” written in 1933, explains their position. This manifesto was revised in 1973.

Humanism is the best example, perhaps the most extreme example I can think of to illustrate the following…most of us have a humanity-centered framework of right and wrong, rather than a God-centered framework of right and wrong. I am not just talking about non-Christians, I am talking about Christians, as well. We judge right and wrong based on how mankind is treated…not on how God is treated. We view man as a) the basis of morality (we decide), and b) the object of morality (morality is meant to benefit us).

If you do view this as a good measure or morality, I have to ask: Why is that a good measurement of morality? Many say “it is self-evident.” Expressing my opinion…that’s a cop-out. You might as well say “because I said so, so there.” If I were to argue that how someone treats kittens was a good measure of morality (or cows, for a believer in Hinduism), and if someone had to choose between saving a human life, or a kitten, they should choose the kitten, on what basis would you disagree? Don’t you sound a little biased, saying “human life and happiness is the measure of morality. Oh, by the way, I am a human…but ignore that. It’s coincidence.”?

For example…imagine this:

You are asked this question…”Why do you believe that God is good?”

If you are anything like I was, you answer by saying stuff like “Well, He gives me breath and life and He sent His son to die for my sins.” I always felt this was a good answer…how could someone who sacrifices so much for us not be good?

However, answer this: What if God didn’t send His son to die for you? Would He still be good?

See, the fallacy is found here…we still measure “good” by how mankind is treated. If something serves God, but doesn’t serve mankind, we couldn’t care less about it and we certainly don’t hold it as good. In fact, many believe that is bad. A waste.

But if God did create the entire universe, if He is God, then He is the most important being in the universe. If God exists, and by God I mean “the perfect being, perfect in power/wisdom/love/morality/justice/etc,” doesn’t it make sense that He is worthy of all praise and glory?

And if this is true, then God KNOWS He is worthy of praise and glory. God is NOT that really pretty girl who tells everybody “oh, I’m so ugly” in order to look modest. The worship and glorification of God is the most important thing in the universe. Therefore, the worship and glorification of God is the most important thing to Himself.

I repeat, the most important thing to God is His own glory. Now, somebody might think “Isn’t that bad? Isn’t that self-centered?” Yes. In fact, God is the only being in the universe who SHOULD be self-centered, and therefore, He is.

The good news for us is this: When God is self-centered, everybody wins (except those who want to be His enemies). God created the universe for His own glory. I benefit because I was created (this benefit glorifies Him).  God gave me breath and life for His own glory. I benefit because breathing is good for me. God filled this planet with flora and fauna and programmed the planet to have an automatic watering system and an automatic heating and cooling system for His own glory. I benefit. God loves me because His love glorifies Him. I benefit.

God gave His only begotten Son so that I could be saved and reconciled to Him…because of that, I could remove my “enemy of God” status and become a son of God. Why did God do this? His own glory. But I benefit.

So God created everything in order to bring Him glory. Whenever something does what God made it to do, it glorifies Him. If I build a car, and it works, you all would think I was pretty awesome. If I build a car, and it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, then you all wouldn’t be very impressed.

So here is the main point…here is what I’m getting at. The center of morality is God. Whether someone is “good” or not is based on this: Do they treat God the way God wants to be treated? If someone treat mankind the way mankind wants to be treated, but does NOT treat God the way God wants to be treated…this is not “good.”

If God exists, then He is the center of morality.

Side-tangent:Now at this point, you might view my argument as devaluing humanity. You might get mad at Christianity for devaluing humanity. But real, authentic Christianity (where Christians are acting like Christ) never devalues humans, because humans are a) created in God’s image, and b) immensely cared for and loved by God. You see, I am not saying that humans in not valuable. I believe that Christianity teaches that humans find their value in the eyes of their Creator and Caretaker. A Christ-following Christian learns to treat others with immense value, whether a CEO of a company or a down-syndrome child.

In fact, let me take a shot at humanism…it sounds nice in theory, but observations I have made in history have shown that since humanism holds anything that serves humanity as good, humanism results in a lesser value of humanity than Christianity holds.Since something is good or bad based on how it serves humanity, then a down-syndrome child holds lesser value than a doctor because a down-syndrome child benefits us less and requires more of us. I know that a humanist would never say this out loud (I certainly don’t enjoy talking about the Crusades, although if you want my opinion on them, I wouldn’t mind sharing), but humanist philosophies can often lead this direction. Of course a humanist wouldn’t view abortion as wrong…the unborn child is taking more than they are benefitting…especially from the mother. Why shouldn’t the mother have the right to abort based on those grounds?

But if someone’s value is not based on their benefit to humanity but based on the One who created them, then it changes. Christianity says “I value them because God values them.”

End side tangent

Next post…we talk about the purpose of sex. Get ready for it, because if I didn’t use the words “penis” and “vagina,” you all would be disappointed. I’ve got a reputation of frankness to uphold concerning the topic of sex. The point of the next post: Your beliefs about homosexuality are a direct result of your beliefs about the purpose of sex.