same sex marriage and the words we use

originally posted:  Wednesday, December 03, 2008.  
revised: Thursday, December 28, 2016.

 

first off, i want to apologize as a christian, for the horrible ways i (and we as christians) have interacted with (or ignored) the lgbtq community in such shamefully unloving and ignorant ways.  i am grieved how we have elevated particular areas of societal brokeness and minimized other areas of our own brokeness as it happens to suit us.  i am working on this and invite folks to call me out on my stuff in love.

i’d just like to speak, if you would grant me that grace, to the following terms that have been thrown around so loosely in recent days:

1) LOVE
unfortunately, the english language has made a mess of this word. yes, the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself.  the greek word for “love” used here is agape, or unconditional, love.  yes, this challenge is considerable for it means loving ALL people even those who sin against us.  yes, a man can and should love other men.  but this does not mean that men ought to enter into sexual union with other men. the greek word for that form of love is eros or sexual love. i ought to love (agape) my mother but this does not mean that it is in the same way right and proper for me to love (eros) my mother. eros love can not and should not be applied to any and all people. we cannot throw this term “love” around loosely for it means something and we must mean what we say.

2) EQUAL RIGHTS / JUDGING
true, we ought to treat people equally, or fairly, as all have been made in the image of God. but this taken without context and qualification is ludicrous and is not indeed how we live.  we do not treat our parents as we do our friends as we do our co-workers as we do our children as we do our elders. i do not speak to my parents as i do to a co-worker. i do not allow a child to drive a car as i do an adult. also treating people “equally” does not mean we treat all actions and decisions equally.  The California Constitution (the basis for the judges overturning prop 22, a decision that i feel is a misreading of the constitution) states:

“SEC. 31. (a) The State shall not discriminate against, or grant
preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

yes, all citizens of a human government should have equal civil rights in the sense of access to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.   all people should be treated with dignity and decency.  a person has the civil right to enter into a consensual civil union with any person of their choosing. however, if there is separation of church and state then civil rights do not translate to moral rights in the same way.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” he did not say we must do away with all judgment in how we treat one another; he was speaking to the evil of judging someone by their outward person.  it is important to note that the categories listed in that section of the constitution above are physical and usually visible qualities of a person, not qualities of a person’s interpersonal relationships.  Jesus himself talks about the dangers of judging someone in the oft quoted Matthew 7:1.  The spirit of that passage, however, is to warn of the brokeness of judging others at the expense of seeing ones own issues (and it is certainly not in the damning sense of eternal condemnation). we must not throw out the baby (judgment) with the bath water (judging in the hypocritical sense). the inward person must be discerned. marriage speaks much of one’s character and values.  marriage is about a person’s interpersonal relationships.  marriage of the same-sex is not an equal right spiritually as it is civilly.  let me attempt to explain why in the next term.

3) MARRIAGE
to God, who alone gets to set the standard of marriage, eros love is only in the context of a faithful marriage between one man and one women.  judging from the dismal divorce rates even amongst believers in the u.s. alone, this is a serious challenge for heterosexuals too (even just by sheer numbers).  God meant something quite particular when he decreed marriage.

then man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘for she was taken out of man.”  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Gen 2:23-24

Jesus even goes back to THIS passage to ground the discussion of marriage.  in eros there is a sexual union of two different parts. especially since one was taken from the other the two come together in a unique way; a way that is not the same as joining two of the same pieces. now we all know that marriage is not limited to eros but eros is something specific to marriage.

please understand, marriage of man and woman is not the end nor goal, for not all are married or have physical sexual union. no, marriage is only a pointer, or a shadow, to something greater…union with God. this is why God uses the analogy of the faithful lover as well as Christ as groom. marriage and eros are ways we can understand God’s special faithful love for us.  this is why sex and marriage is SUCH a big deal.  this is why to alter God’s design is so offensive and subtractive not additive.

this does not mean that those who are not married or have not had sex can not understand God’s love. for Jesus himself was not married and Paul, the great missionary of the faith, was not married and it’s hard to say our understanding of love is greater than them.  earthly marriage is just one means of understanding God’s love…if, however, we can directly experience God’s love in this manner and devote our hearts solely to Him, this indeed would be the greatest love. Those who can experience this without the trappings/burnings for human eros love are blessed.

Lastly (thank you for bearing with me if you stayed this long) but not necessarily most important to clarify (true, this is a little non sequiter…its just one of the things that have come up in my conversations with people on this topic):

4) COMPARING SINS
people sometimes use the argument that “well all sin is the same, so why the big deal with this one?”  now although i totally agree that NONE of us are really in a place to cast any stones and that by committing ANY sin we are lawbreakers all the same, this notion of all sin being the same is suspect.   we understand, even in our corrupt humanity with our court system, that there are degrees of a crime.  we do well to consider that this notion came from somewhere.  when Jesus himself was being falsely accused of crimes through the state, pilate tries to use a power a play to get Jesus to comply to which “Jesus answered,  

‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.'” (John 19:11)

from this scripture I can at least infer that those with power over people have weightier responsibility and consequence (uncle ben was inspired).  now, i am not and cannot dogmatically lay out levels of sin (maybe romans 1 gives us a clue?  but even in this case, idolatry of self would be the worst).   but to say all sin is the same is simply not true.

we should be wary of justification or tolerance of ANY of our sin, especially sin (like lust…man, thats hard for me to hear) that the Lord warns may put us in the dangers of the fires of hell – so dangerous that it it warrants the analogy of plucking off a part of the body to save the whole.  so, in the end, we are ALL in need of God’s grace and as we grow in our understanding of just how wretched we are in not giving the Most Worthy his due, so it sheds light on how great is His love to bring us to Himself in spite of this.

as their are varying degrees of sin, the good news is that there are also varying degrees of love.  jesus’ beloved disciple, john, quotes Jesus’ in their last supper before His betrayal as saying this:

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Considering our transgression and disregard of an infinite God, how great then is the love that God demonstrates to us in laying down His life for us?

memorial stones or “how i know God is real…from my life” PART I

originally posted (on facebook) Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 11:04pm

there’s this one message I still remember from high school that was on setting up altars of God. what the people did back in the day was when God moved in a powerful way among them they set up a memorial of stones. they did this to help them REMEMBER Him. so when somebody came along that didn’t know what happened they would point at the stones and ask “what does this mean?” then they would tell of what He had done.

So I’m gonna be setting up some
Memorial Stones of God’s Works Witnessed in My Life

1. In Japan, my grandmother became the first Christian in my family, after a neighbor invited her to bible study. This was amidst persecution from others, namely from my grandfather who tore up her bible at some point.

2. My mother accepted Christ, in college in Japan through a Christmas presentation of the Navigators…a ministry that would have a great impact on my brother and I. I didn’t learn about how my mother had accepted till almost the end of my college experience.

3. My father accepted Christ after attending a church in LA for some time…his roommate got him to go b/c he told my dad there would be girls, music, and Japanese food! Go dad!

4. before I was born my parents gave me a name…the meaning of which, unbeknown to them, matched up with what they wanted me to be. i guess my mother asked my father what kind of child he wanted me to be and he said something like “one who is loved by God and by men.” David means “beloved.”

5. about the time I was in 5th grade I got a kidney illness that hospitalized me for days (my entire body was swollen) and put me on medication for years afterward (which by the way was supposed to stunt my growth but now im the tallest in my family). there’s a lot that God triggered through this event but the biggest lessons i learned through it was that humans are weak and that He is a personal God. My first clear memories of praying begin around here.

6. the day I went into the hospital was the first day my soon-to-be youth pastor came to visit our church. Jason Zahairiades (half greek-half Korean. once again I didn’t know how much Koreans would impact my life till college) talked with God like He was a real person. He taught me through example that Christianity is not about rituals and rules but about a living relationship with a powerful God.

7. Although, growing up in the church, I must have said words a bunch of times, I believe I sincerely accepted Christ in 7th grade at Mt. Hermon youth camp.

8. One time, I can’t remember exactly when, I fell off a small cliff. I cried out to God as I was falling. next thing I know I was on the dirt ground with nothing but a scratch on my hand.

9. My freshman year of high school I went to this revival event and as I was praying to experience his Spirit’s movement in me somebody began to pray for me. I can’t really explain it, but soon after my body began to shake uncontrollably. His work at that time was more significant than that, like experiencing God’s peace, but I guess it was the first time I experienced God physically moving in me.

10. In the winter of my freshman year in high school I went to Winter Vision (a youth camp for our conference) in Santa Cruz. on the final morning of the camp the speaker gave a message on the power of God’s movement in the early church and the potential for power in this generation. He focused on ACTS 4:31 where the place the believers were praying was shaken. After the message we received news that So. California had been rocked by an earthquake that same morning. it was what we now refer to as the Northridge earthquake. the earthquake struck at 4:31 a.m.

11. One morning in high school i witnessed a demon manifest in my friend. it was scary. We prayed hard. Then my youth pastor came and prayed and the demon left.

12. I contemplated suicide my junior year. Nothing dramatic had happened. I just found myself in a place where I felt so much pressure that I felt like I was caving in and all I could do was ball. while my face was buried in my pillow my stereo was playing the song “Come Let Us Return” by Kevin Prosch. I heard these lines: “For He has torn us but he will heal us, for He has wounded us but He will bandage us, and He will come.” He did. He saved me, my soul as well as that night.

13. During that anxious time of waiting my senior year for college letters, I found I did not hear at all from UCLA. A while after everyone got their acceptance/rejection letter my acceptance arrived on the day of my 18th birthday. It seemed a confirmation that I would go to the only school that I knew people at…who all happened to be Christians.

14. Sometime in high school I was at another revival meeting. One of the leaders was praying for me and they said that they sensed a call of Joshua over my life (you know the guy that had to lead the Israelites into the promised land when Moses passed away) and something about an iron scepter. now I don’t really know what that all means (will mean) but my 5th and final year at UCLA I was reading through the book of Joshua. what God spoke to me during that time of my life, not only was it the freest time I felt in my life, but it was a time that ultimately led to my decision to go to summer missions to Japan and into the graduate program of education for teaching.

So what has God done in your life?
Won’t you set up some memorial stones too? Let’s remember what He has done and who He is. Let it be a witness to us as well as for all to see.

We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. – Psalm 78:4

if somebody made up Jesus please introduce me to him…

originally posted Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at 11:18pm

“no one has ever yet discovered the words ‘jesus ought to have said.’ read the accounts. you try to come up with better lines. do you realize what kind of person you’d have to be to even make this up? if somebody made this up we would have to be sitting here having the same kind of discussion over who is this incredible person who made it up? what kind of person would this be? no one has ever yet discovered the words ‘jesus ought to have said’ or ‘the deity ought to have done.’ nothing he does falls short, in fact, he is always surprising you and taking your breath away because he is better than you can imagine. why? they are the surprises of perfection. he combined virtues never seen together: tenderness without weakness, strength without harshness, humility without the slightest lack of confidence, holiness and unbending convictions without the slightest lack of approachability, power without insensitivity, passion without prejudice, the harshest judgment on the self-satisfied yet the most winsome kindness to the broken and the marginal, never inconsistent, never a false step, never a jarring note.” – tim keller

why the existence of God is reasonable

originally posted (on facebook) Sunday, June 29, 2008 at 2:37am

this is just what ive gathered over the years and is by no means an exhaustive or exemplary list…in fact, as you probably know, many have articulated such thoughts much better and i have cited them. please correct me if i am wrong. here is my humble summation thus far summed up in the acronym TIMES-P

1. time (aka cosmological arguments…see thomas aquinas and william lane craig)
a) whatever begins to exist has a cause. (all things in time begin to exist)
b) the universe began to exist.(einsteins theories and red-shift in the universe)
c) therefore, the universe had a cause.
d*) since the begining of the universe is as far back in time as you can go (time began here…time can’t keep on going back or else we would never reach this time) the cause had to be outside of time or something that never began to exist…i.e. God

2. intelligent design (aka teleological argument…see aristotle)
a) complexity/systems imply design or intention (formulas, computers, watches)
b) the universe is complex or seems like a system (properties of physics, dna)
c) therefore it is reasonable to think there is a designer or intender (since the universe consists of all things designed..that we know of…this designer or intender must be the ultimate designer or intender from which all designs and intentions come) i.e. God

3. morality (c.s. lewis offers a compelling argument)
a) there is morality (we have notions of what we ought to do for some reason, even when it might not be evolutionarily advantageous…and its not just social convention b/c how then could we judge social conventions…like the societal conventions of the nazi’s?)
b) if there is morality then there must be a moral law giver
c) therefore there must be a moral law giver who did not recieve it from anyone else but is the author and epitome of morality itself…i.e. God

4. existence (i guess this is a broader sense of #1..for a different kind of argument see the ontological argument of anslem or alivin plantinga)
a) something doesn’t come out of nothing (no spontaneous generation)
b) something exists
c) then it came from somewhere
d*) one can go back until, eventually, it is possible to reach a something that always existed or did not have a beginning from which all things derive there existence…this is not “nothing” nor is it just “something” but rather it is The Thing/Entity of which all somethings are a part and of which all something are but a shadow…i.e God

5. supernatural (c.s. lewis’ miracles)

a) if supernatural things happen there is something outside of the natural world
b) supernatural things happen
c) therefore there is something outside of the natural world and it must have a source…i.e God

6. presuppositions (see Greg Bahnsen)
a) all arguments rely on logic, principles, reason, etc. or “presuppostions”
b) these “presuppositions” don’t just come from nowhere
c) therefore they must come from somewhere, someone who does not rely on anything else but is the author, epitome, and unchanging sustainer of these constants…i.e. God

looking for a better blog site…

ok this is my actual first post.  the one before this was some automatic dealy.

here goes another networking/expression experiment.  ever since xanga has pretty much died (well at least in my circle of friends) ive been hankering for another venue of blogging.  xangas got the most old connections for me to my other friends (who dont blog anymore…boo!  i think cuz of media obsessed facebook and myspace.  they’re cool but where is the CONTENT?!).  also i’ve been looking for a weblog site that might allow the following options (well, that will allow them easily, since im still not so tech savy):

1) to easily read bloggers that i’ve subscribed too (like the recieving email option or the all in one view like xanga)

2) to catergorize (like this wordpress site) and rank topics (like some japanese blog sites…i think “ni-channel”?)

3) a permanent space on the blog for quick links to important/interersting/favorite/useful blog entries

4) to track readers without having to install some funky do-hickey thing

5) to sync with or send updates to facebook (cuz some people just still wont visit a blog site without that)

any suggestions out there for sites that have most of this?    just wondering.