How Should the Church Love a Gay Couple (or anyone in sexual sin)?

Several weeks ago Pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga. preached part of a sermon series entitled “Christian.” To put it mildly, it generated quite a bit of controversy within the evangelical community. My colleague  at The Christian Post, Stoyan Zaimov, described the chain of events in a recent article on the CP website (Pastor Andy Stanley Responds to Questions Over Homosexuality Stance).

The sermon in question was delivered on April 15, titled “When Gracie Met Truthy.” While preaching on the tension between grace and truth (“the truth is ‘you’re a sinner,’ and the grace is ‘I don’t condemn you'”), Stanley told the story of a divorced couple who formerly attended North Point together. They separated after the woman’s husband began a same-sex relationship with another man, who was still married to a woman.

The man and his partner wanted to serve as volunteers at the church, but Stanley explained that the two men were committing adultery since one of them did not finalize his divorce yet and thus could not serve as volunteers.

The “messy” story, as Stanley described it, ends with the gay couple, the first man’s ex-wife and their child, as well as her new boyfriend and his child from another relationship, all coming together to worship together at a big service at North Point Church. The pastor refers to them as an example of a modern day family. Christians, he said, are called not only to hold on to the truth, but also to grace which includes forgiveness and love.

Pastors and bloggers with a variety of views and opinions found it necessary to weigh-in, which prompted the editors at The Christian Post to suggest a series about how the church should treat a gay couple. I wrote article in a three-part series titled, How Should the Church Love a Gay Couple.

In reality, it is about the larger issue of sexual sin. To me that includes (but is not limited to) adultery, homosexuality and basically any sex outside of marriage. There are two points that I find interesting as we engage in this discussion. First, that some people, including many who say they are Christians, don’t think sex with someone of the same sex is not a sin. I read the first chapter of Romans several times and to me the issue of sexual sin is more than clear. Next, most of us are guilty of elevating some sins above or below others.

The example I use often is when a couple of guys are standing around the water cooler at work, it’s disingenuous for one to make fun of the homosexual guy walking down the hall and then turn to his single friend and congratulate him for “making it” with the new married secretary down the hall (homosexuality, adultery & fornication).

I hope this series challenges people to examine the issue of all sexual sin more closely, specifically what scripture says about the issue. I have several homosexual friends and I like and respect them all as individuals, but I disagree with their lifestyle. But that will never impact the way I treat or react to them – ever.

I encourage you to read the articles above and if you have questions, discuss them with your pastor or someone you know is a Bible-believing Christian. Remember, in John:8 Jesus forgave the woman who was caught in adultery and throw at this feet by the Pharisees when they tried to “trick” him into saying something wrong. But after forgiving her, do you recall what Jesus said to her?

“Go, and sin no more.”

Reasons for Reinstating School Superintendent Rest on Foundation of Sand

Below is an op-ed I wrote for my hometown paper over the county board of education’s decision to reinstate the local superintendent of schools after suspending him with pay because of a felony indictment for carrying a firearm on school grounds.

By a vote of 8-2, the Hardin County Board of Education rescinded a previous
decision to temporarily suspend Superintendent John Thomas after his
indictment on a single felony charge of carrying a weapon on school

In an earlier admission to the board and in a telephone conversation taped
by local citizen Jerry Fowler, Thomas admitted to carrying the weapon on
school grounds and said he has done so for the last several years. The issue
only came to light when a school security officer noticed the weapon on
Thomas and notified authorities.

The board voted 6-4 to temporary suspend Thomas on March 22 with pay when a
temporary replacement was found. Until then, Thomas would remain on the job.
During that same meeting the board appointed a committee to find and name
the interim and that is exactly what they did.

But in some behind the scenes maneuvering, several members of the board
apparently got together and decided instead to rescind Thomas’ suspension
and not act on a replacement from a neighboring county who was willing and
able to serve.

I hope that didn’t happen because that would have violated the state’s open
meeting rule, commonly known as the “sunshine law.”

After asking permission to make a motion to reverse Thomas’ suspension in
last week’s meeting, board member Olga Turnbow gave two reasons for keeping

First, the board could not afford to pay the salaries of two superintendents
and Thomas’ name was already on a couple hundred diplomas for graduating

I doubt you have the slightest notion where your high school diploma is, but
nonetheless, do you have any idea who signatures are at the bottom of your
sheepskin? And what difference has it made in your ability to ever find a

Here are the issues still facing the board. First, Thomas knowingly violated
a state law. Second and more importantly, he’s under indictment for a

Tennessee state law prohibits anyone from carrying a weapon on school
property and there is no exemption for teachers or administrators. In
addition, the school system has what is known as a “zero tolerance” policy
for students carrying weapons on school grounds.

What type of example are we setting for the graduates on whose diplomas
Thomas’ signature will reside if the board allows him to stay on the job?
That it’s okay to break the law if you are in a position of authority?

I’ve never met Mr. Thomas but from what I’ve heard, he’s a kind and
well-qualified leader. While he came into the position under controversial
circumstances, many teachers and administrators appear to like him.

From a political perspective, Thomas’ indictment left the board with little
choice but to take action on the issue, but you would have never known it
from the initial 6-4 vote.

A $27 million dollar budget can be challenging, but if the system is
dependent upon one person to navigate it through such fiscal decisions, then
they have much bigger problems. In fact, isn’t that what other
administrators are hired to do with the board’s oversight?

Neither the board nor the citizens of this county asked for this issue and
the responsibility lies completely with Mr. Thomas. In the meantime, the
suspension should have remained intact until the legal system has run its

If a jury finds Mr. Thomas not guilty or if his case is downgraded to a
misdemeanor (which is what I predict will happen), then he could have
returned to his job.

If convicted, the board would have had no choice but to permanently remove
Thomas from his position and find another replacement.

Board member Jeanell Dennis made a wise, but misguided observation in her
defense of Thomas when she said there is a difference between teachers and
students; and she is right.

Teachers should know better. So should elected board members.


Remembering Gabrielle ‘Elle’ Devenish: Anorexia Steals Life of Colleague, Friend

Sara Gabrielle Devenish, better known to her colleagues and friends as “Elle,” was taken home by her Lord and Savior last Thursday in the early morning hours. She died peacefully in her sleep, just the way she had imagined she would.

For those of you who have read Elle’s column, Dying to Meet Him, and have followed the story of her 18-year battle with anorexia, you saw how a young 30-year-old woman in the prime of her life was tasked with preparing her journey to heaven instead of starting a family or climbing a career ladder.

Elle started working for The Christian Post in early fall of 2011 and soon became a favorite among our group. Initially hired as a copyeditor, her talents as a reporter and writer soon became evident. Her ability to capture controversial and emotional topics, such as in Pornography In The PewChristianity and Cults, and in her in-depth reporting on Mormonism, gave readers a personal insight into worlds they may have never seen before.

Like most of my colleagues, her announcement that she had only months to live was shocking. Sure, I had noticed how thin she was when I had seen a few of her pictures on Facebook, but I had no idea she suffered from anorexia.

The fact was I had never known anyone who battled this awful condition. I guess I just didn’t know what to look for.

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Tribute to Chuck Colson: Founder of Prison Fellowship Dies at 80

Hardily anyone who follows national evangelicals doesn’t know the story of Chuck Colson. He was a lawyer who joined the administration of former President Richard Nixon in 1969. He quickly gained a reputation has the president’s “hatchet” man. Colson resigned from the Nixon administration in 1973 and was indicted a year later on charges related to the Watergate break in. He served seven months in a federal prison, but before his sentence he gave his life to Jesus after reading C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity.

But Colson’s most significant contributions came after his release when he founded Prison Fellowship, a ministry devoted to bringing the word of Christ to tens of thousands of inmates.

Colson died today from complications from a blood clot in his brain. His wife and family had been with him the last several days.

Will Nance, who along with his wife Penny worked for Colson in the 1990’s wrote a magnificent tribute to his former boss and friend in Saturday’s edition of The Christian Post. It’s a worthy read and here is the link.

A 1973 editorial in the Boston Globe had the follow quote:

“If Mr. Colson can repent of his sins, there has to be hope for everybody.”

That is precisely the message Chuck Colson gave to millions of people.

How the Resurrection Undoes Our Need to Be Proven Right

This post was taken from an op-ed written by Dr. Russell Moore, the Dean of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I’ve been reading his blog and columns for a number of months and have become a big fan of his writing.

You can visit his website here. Here is his post.

As Jesus drowned in his own blood, the spectators yelled words quite similar to those of Satan in the wilderness: “Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe” (Mk. 15:32).

But Jesus didn’t jump down. He didn’t ascend to the skies. He just writhed there.

The bloated corpse of Jesus hit the ground as he was pulled off that stake, spattering warm blood and water on the faces of the crowd.

That night, the religious leaders probably read Deuteronomy 21 to their families, warning them about the curse of God on those who are “hanged on a tree.” Fathers probably told their sons, “Watch out that you don’t ever wind up like him.”

Those Roman soldiers probably went home and washed the blood of Jesus from under their fingernails and played with their children in front of the fire before dozing off. This was just one more insurrectionist they had pulled off a cross, one in a line of them dotting the roadside. And this one (what was his name? Joshua?) was just decaying meat now, no threat to the Empire at all.

The corpse of Jesus just lay there in the silence of that cave. By all appearances it had been tested and tried, and found wanting.

If you had been there to pull open his bruised eyelids, matted there together with mottled blood, you would have looked into blank holes. If you had lifted his arm, you would have felt no resistance. You would have heard only the thud as it hit the table when you let it go. You might have walked away from that morbid scene muttering to yourself, “The wages of sin is death.”

But sometime before dawn on Sunday morning, a spike-torn hand twitched. A blood-crusted eyelid opened. The breath of God came blowing down into that cave, and a new creation flashed into reality.

God was not simply delivering Jesus (and with him all of us) from death. He was also vindicating him (and with him all of us). By resurrecting Jesus from the dead, God was affirming what he had said over the Jordan waters. He was declaring Jesus “to be the Son of God in power” (Rom. 1:4).

This was done, the Bible says, by “the Spirit of holiness.” This is the same Spirit who rested on Jesus at his baptism “like a dove” (Matt. 3:16). I wonder if, as the dovish Spirit alighted on him in the water and in the tomb,  Jesus might have thought of the words of the Psalm the Devil would quote in the wilderness: “He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge” (Ps. 91:4).

With that kind of rescue, who needs to be proven right in any other way?

Like Jesus, Rick Santorum Struggles with Acceptance in His Home State

Rick Santorum is undergoing in his home state of Pennsylvania an experience similar to what Jesus encountered in his hometown of Nazareth. Both found it easier to win support in areas further away and more difficult to win over those who they grew up with.

Jesus was raised the son of a carpenter and most likely knew everyone is his small hometown. After leaving home as a young man to begin his earthly ministry, he returned to Nazareth to preach in the synagogue only to find doubt and little support from those who supposedly knew him best.

Pennsylvania native Rick Santorum may now understand how Jesus felt as a new poll shows the former senator now losing his home state to former Massachusetts governor and GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney.

In the latest Public Policy Poll in Pennsylvania, Romney is now leading Santorum 42 to 37 percent, however the margin of error is +/- 4.9%, thus making the race a virtual dead heat.

Nonetheless, Santorum’s struggles in Pennsylvania may be magnifying the core issue that many GOP voters doubt that he could defeat President Obama in a general election and that Romney has a much better chance.

“The momentum in Pennsylvania is moving completely against Rick Santorum,” said Dean Debnam, PPP’s president in a written statement. “Mitt Romney has a great chance to deliver a final crushing blow to his campaign on April 24. A home state loss would be incredibly embarrassing for Santorum.”

According to the poll, only 36% of GOP voters think Santorum has a realistic chance at the nomination to 54% who believe he does not. And when it comes to matching up against Barack Obama in the fall only 24% of Republicans think Santorum would provide their best chance for a victory while 49% think that designation belongs to Romney.

Political analyst view a Romney win in Pennsylvania as not only a setback, but also a huge blow for Santorum if he wanted to run for any office in the future. Although Santorum served a total of sixteen years in Congress, his devastating, 16-point loss in 2006 left some wondering if he was the right person to take on Obama in 2012.

“We have to win here, and we plan on winning here,” Santorum said on Wednesday while campaigning in Pennsylvania. “People in Pennsylvania know me. All of the negative attacks, I think, are going to fall on a lot of deaf ears here, and we’ve got a strong base of support here.”

Meanwhile, the Romney campaign is sensing an opportunity to upstage Santorum in his home state and they are showcasing a list of Keystone GOP Leaders who have endorsed the former Massachusetts governor.

The list includes former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, former Gov. Mark Schweiker, Rep. Jim Gerlach, Rep. Bill Shuster, Rep. Charlie Dent and Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick to name a few.

Romney made a campaign swing through Pennsylvania on Wednesday and stopped in Broomall to rally a group of suburban GOP moderates who have made up the base of his support thus far. Romney is campaigning in Scranton and Harrisburg today.

Sen. Santorum has chosen to take Easter weekend off to rest, worship and spent time with his family prior resuming his campaign schedule in his home state on Monday.

He’ll also be trying to figure out how to win Nazareth, PA.

Jesus Would Not Approve of Abortion, Says Jimmy Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter told The Christian Post that he believes Jesus would not approve of abortion with the exception of a few cases. He also criticized the Democratic Party for taking such a strong stance on supporting abortion for all women and encouraged them to soften their language in the party’s platform.

I never found any incompatibilities though between my religious faith and my duties as a politician except in the case of abortion,” Carter told CP in an interview. ” I don’t believe that Jesus would approve abortion except in the case of incest, rape or the mother’s life in danger.”

“But I had to enforce the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade so I tried to do everything I could to minimize the need for abortions, making it easy to adopt children and by caring for women and infant children in the so-called WIC program,” Carter continued. “So, that was an incompatibility that I had, to maintain peace and to put my basic Christian moral values into practice, were the things that were most challenging for me.”

Outside of his personal belief that abortion is wrong, the former one-term president maintains that if Democrats moderate the party’s platform on abortion that they may be able to win back some Republicans who left over the party’s full support of abortion rights.

“I’ve signed a public letter calling for the Democratic Party at the next convention to espouse my position on abortion which is to minimize the need, requirement for abortion and limit it only to women whose life are in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest,” Carter said Thursday on Laura Ingraham’s radio program.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Tiger’s Back and So Am I

In August of 2010 I posted a short article on this site titled Tiger’s Fall and Rise (Click here to read my original post). It addressed with the public’s fascination with high profile sex scandals, specifically that of Tiger Woods. After winning last weekend’s PGA tournament, Tiger appears to be back on top of his game and I too feel the same.

To my amazement, my initial article was picked up by the Tennessean and run as an editorial in their Sunday paper. They characterized it as my taking up for Woods since I too had an affair publically exposed after a failed extortion attempt. Some of my other “detractors” at the time also commented, criticizing my reference to Woods infidelity, saying I was defending his actions. Apparently didn’t read or fully comprehend the article.

The rhetorical question I asked in the original post is why are we so infatuated with someone’s downfall or the details of their personal lives? The reality is because we are all broken people and want to relish in the fact that someone else’s brokenness may be worst than our own.

When The Christian Post covered Amy Winehouse’s death from a drug overdose, it was one of the most highly read stories on our site. I found that amazing, especially since I had no idea who she was until her death. The same was true when former Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned over inappropriate tweets and text messages he sent to other women (btw, I wrote most of the Weiner stories including one today on Andrew Breitbart’s latest chapter on how he uncovered the scandal).

“No, it’s not the details of the story or even of the affairs themselves, but rather the fall from Mount Everest that holds our fascination for such long periods of time,” I wrote in my original column.

A year and seven months has passed since I penned that post and last weekend Tiger won his first tournament since 2009 by capturing the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Before Tiger stumbled by succumbing to sexual temptation, he was considered the best golfer in the world – maybe of all time. He’s been through a difficult period, losing his marriage and several major sponsorships. But through the peaks and valley’s he has pulled his game back together and is now poised to compete in next week’s Master’s.

In an Associated Press article on Monday, former champion golfer turned commentator Johnny Miller described what he called the “two careers” each golfer experiences. I believe the same can be said for other careers.

“Every golfer has two careers,” Miller said at the end of NBC’s telecast on Sunday. “You have the first burst, and then sometimes you have a lull, and then you have a second career. Some guys have a pretty darn good second career. If I was coaching him, I’d say, ‘OK, you made the mistakes you made. Let’s just start over. This is the second career. You’ve got a new swing. Let’s see what you can do with this one.’ “It wouldn’t totally surprise me if he were to win 35 to 40 times from now,” he said. “He could do it. The way he is playing right now, he is going to kick butt.”

Is Tiger back on top for good? Only time will tell. But no one can argue that he is once again a force to be reckoned with. I ended my original Tiger post with this last paragraph.

“I remind my eleven-year old son that it’s not what happens to you, but more importantly, how you handle what happens to you.  At such a young age he’s watched his Dad achieve success and fall flat on his face.  He’s made the cut on a competitive baseball team only to log onto the team website the next season to discover his name missing from the roster.  I think that had more to do with me than my son’s athletic ability. Falling is not fun and it leaves us cut and bruised and sometimes broken.  But getting up and dusting ourselves off sure does feel better than wallowing in the mud.  After all, a sponge can only take on so much water. Let’s all pull for Tiger to reach the top once more in both his professional and personal life.  That would be a story worth reading about.”

Last night my son and I were dining at a local pizza restaurant before his baseball practice. As we ate our supper we watched an ESPN story on Tiger’s latest victory. When the story ended, my now 12 year-old son looked up and said, “I’m glad Tiger won last week.”

“Why,” I asked.

“Because like you, he’s had a rough couple of years,” he said, smiling as he looked up at me. “Now you’re both back.”

Unlike Tiger, I haven’t won a major golf tournament but I have more than I can say grace over. Two great kids, a challenging job as a journalist and a two-book deal in the works. And my son is right. Tiger I are both back and it feels good.

Paul Stanley is a freelance writer who lives in Tennessee. He is writing a memoir about his own life in business and politics.  He can be reached at [email protected]

Fla. ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Under Microscope in Wake of Trayvon Martin Shooting

The shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin has created an outcry over the state’s self-defense statute, commonly known as “Stand Your Ground.” What is being debated is whether the law could be used as a viable defense in Martin’s death.

Gov. Jeb Bush signed Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law after the State Legislature passed it in 2005. The part of the statute that may apply in cases such as Martin’s reads:

“Title XLVI, Chapter 776.012 Use of force in defense of person. – A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or

“And 776.013 Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm –

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

It is not entirely clear since details of the shooting death remain sketchy, however, Bush is backing away from the law, saying that it should not be used as a defense in Martin’s shooting death and calling the shooting a “tragedy.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

‘Stand Up for Religious Freedom’ Rallies Draw Attention to Obama’s Contraceptive Mandate

Tens of thousands of people are estimated to gather Friday in 131 cities across the nation to rally around the mantra of religious liberty brought on by President Obama’s mandate on birth control.

“We are honored to be hosting a ‘Stand Up for Religious Freedom’ rally here in Washington, D.C. at the HHS building,” the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Fund, told The Christian Post. “When the president issued the HHS mandate, what he failed to understand is this is not an issue about health care – it is one of religious freedom.”

The rallies will take place at noon on Friday and will feature prominent religious leaders and elected officials at each location. What began as an effort to plan rallies in 40 to 50 cities has now grown to over 130.

More than any other policy issue that has come before the American public, President Obama’s directive to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that religious institutions must cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization in their employees’ health insurance even if it violates their conscience has brought the debate to the point of personal attacks from both sides.

Even before the mandate was issued by President Obama in late January, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led now by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, encouraged the White House not to overreach and put religious institutions in the position of having to publicly oppose the White House.

However, the mandate extended far beyond the Catholic community, touching other Christian groups and denominations who felt the government had over-stepped its boundaries by forcing Christians to compromise on their beliefs.

Click here to read the entire article.

Page 10 of 19« First...«89101112»...Last »