Monthly Archives: November 2015

Spreading the Word

A few months ago I noticed a well-placed billboard on a well-travelled highway leading into Kansas City. The sign was simple. It said, “God’s Word Romans 1:24-28: Homosexuality is Sinful Behavior Not an Identity.” While I heartily concur with the veracity of the message I believe the setting was misplaced. We have been called to spread the Word. But if we do not approach our task with love, we can do more harm than good. Spreading the gospel is a singular responsibility, and we must approach it with the utmost care.

In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan is sent by the Lord to convict David of wrong concerning his behavior with Bathsheba and Uriah. But Nathan does not bluntly accuse David of wrong. Rather, he tells a parable and David convicts himself. In Acts 16:3, Paul encounters a young man named Timothy. Timothy has a Jewish mother and a Greek father. But we find that Paul circumcised Timothy. He did not do this because it was required by the gospel but rather because it enabled Timothy to speak with and to unbelieving Jews. Paul could have used Timothy’s uncircumcision to point out the differences between the Old Law and the New Law. Instead he set the issue aside to enable him to reach more unbelieving Jews. This does not mean that he bent the truth or that he did not stand up for the gospel. In fact, we read in the next verse that Paul is carrying the letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem refuting the doctrine that the Gentiles must be circumcised. So, we know that Paul was still preaching the whole truth of the Gospel. But, he was also making allowance for the weaknesses in his audience. Paul could have used the letter from Jerusalem in concert with refusing to circumcise Timothy, who was half Jewish, to make the point that “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing” (1 Corinthians 7:19). But rather, Paul chose not to throw the gospel in the face of unbelieving Jews and attempt to smash their beliefs with the Word of the Lord. Likewise, we too must understand our audience and approach them with care.

As we are discussing the scriptures with a friend, we typically approach many subjects with the utmost tact. And with good reason –the revelation of our sins is a painful process. Paul tells us, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Likewise, David writes, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51: 17). It is with good reason that the Word of God is described as a sword,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

The three thousand souls in Acts chapter 2 were “cut to the heart” by the Word (Acts 2:37). The truth presented in the word of God will be hard enough for many to receive. But we can easily poison the Word if we are not sensitive to their weaknesses. Paul addresses this aspect of spreading the word in 1 Corinthians 9:

“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19 -22).

Paul is not telling us he changed the gospel. But rather, he varied his conduct, as much as he could, to remove barriers that might have prevented him from preaching the gospel.

Jesus told the eleven, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Jesus tells us that we “are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) and that we should let our “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Paul also told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). There is no doubt that we are called to preach the gospel in word and deed. However, the manner in which the message is delivered matters. In fact, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:15 that we should be “speaking the truth in love.” We cannot brow beat our neighbors into repentance. Attempting to do so will, in most cases, have the opposite effect. When it does, we have done more harm than good. In fact, Jesus tells us that we should use discretion when preaching the Word, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). We must take stock of our audience before sharing the gospel. In some cases, this may mean not sharing the gospel at all. In others it may mean choosing a different starting place in the scriptures. But, in every case we must share the gospel in such a way that it demonstrates love for our neighbors (Matthew 5:44, Matthew 19:19).

Paul, quoting Isaiah the prophet, says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). The gospel is a story of how we can have peace with the Creator of the universe. It is a beautiful story! We have the privilege of conveying the gospel to the world. Let us make sure we spread the gospel with love and care.

~ Richard Garbi

Pigments of Our Imagination

I grew up on the fuzzy, flapping fringe of the color line in the United States. My paternal grandmother had five generations of Cherokees behind her, and before that it was several of the “First nations people” of Canada who got together with my Scottish and French ancestors on my grandmother’s side, which makes me, according to the Canadian constitution, a Métis (I am “Aboriginal under section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act 1982”–it says so on the back of my official registry card with the Eastern Woodlands Métis Nation Nova Scotia). Additionally, there is also knowledge in my family of some Osage heritage in my paternal grandfather’s line as well as more Cherokee. My adoptive maternal grandfather was Cajun. My closest cultural associations growing up were with Melungeons, Lumbees, “half-breeds, “and Creoles. Because of this and because of my own certain awareness, I really do not consider myself as “white” and I never really have. When I have to mark that little box, I write in my own line that simply says “human.” “White” is what it says on my birth certificate. “White” is what you would think to call me when you look at me. But “White” doesn’t account for everything and “White” seeks to disguise so much. I do not like the term “white” because as a designation for ethnicity it is a really modern invention and actually a part of a great big lie.

Do you know that when the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white” people there? There were “English” people there. There were “European-Americans” there, but they did not think of themselves as, or call each other “white.” In fact “white” as a term of social status appears in no records in the American colonies until 1691. “White” as an identity had to be carefully taught for six decades before such a term could be on the books. In the Genesis creation account, every living thing, including human beings, is made according to its “kind.” The Hebrew word translated here is the word “miyn.” This word means species. In terms of human kind, there is but one species. The apostle Paul (a Jew) confirmed this truth when speaking to an audience of Gentiles on Mar’s Hill when he said, “we are of one blood/one man.” According to the Bible, in these and other passages, there is no such thing as the concept of “race,” that is, unless all we are talking about is one race, which is to say, the human race; and, the whole concept of “mixture” is predicated on purity and what can any human possibly purely be except human? We must avoid the erroneous teachings of men, brethren! Racism, in any form, is erroneous teaching. And dividing up the human race according to skin color? Not Biblical either!

You cannot tell from a person’s DNA whether he or she is black, red, yellow or white. I would not expect you to think in terms of the social constructs of “race” in the way that a citizen of Japan would think, or like someone in Brazil, or India. Do you think of an “Irishman” as being of another “race?” Prior to the civil war, that is exactly what people in this country thought! But the “color line” soon took care of that with the appearance of “Jim Crow” and the “One Drop” laws, “quantum blood requirements” for Native American citizenship, the use of terms such as “Caucasian” and “Negroid,” the invention of the “white race,” and other such Satan-infused poison darts of our shared cultural heritage. We have been taught to accept that there are “races” and that the basis for race is skin color. But it is not true! “Race” is not real; ethnicity is! But ethnicity has no genetic basis in reality but is rather something that is imposed by social experience.

Skin color is determined by the interaction of so many different genes working together; the same interactions that are present in every ethnic group, with such a wide degree of variation that it is impossible to attribute skin color to race. There are the components of our D.N.A which have been termed “genetic markers,” but these are not unique to ethnic populations either. You might be much surprised to learn what genetic “markers” are present within your genome. There is a greater and deeper technical discussion which could be entered into here, but suffice it to say, there certainly are no “race” genes, and there are “black people” living in these United States with overwhelming distribution of “Caucasian” genetic markers, and, conversely, “white people” sharing a significance of shared markers with populations of people who have never left Africa. We are about truth brethren, not lies (1 Timothy 3:15, 6:20)!

Satan has already induced our culture to swallow one poison pill. Now he is trying to get us to swallow another. The same misrepresentations of the facts of genetic science that gave rise to the social construct called “race,” have for some time been applied to what the world calls “sexual orientation and preference.” It’s the same old story, the same old flawed reasoning that men use to endeavor to prove or advance their own willfulness. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois, divulges the results of a study done on 400 homosexual men. The study looked at a region of the X chromosome called Xq28. Although reports soon followed this study with bold claims about how science had vindicated the “born that way” crowd, a careful and honest examination of this study, gives no such certainty. In point of fact, the study was inconclusive as the words of the scientists indicate. Please consider this: “The gene or genes in the Xq28 region that influence sexual orientation have a limited and variable impact. Not all of the gay men in Bailey’s study inherited the same Xq28 region. The genes were neither sufficient, nor necessary, to make any of the men gay.” Another study involved the examination of identical twins. If sexual orientation is genetically determined, then the concordance rate among identical twins should be 100%. If one twin is gay, so should be the other. Alas, the concordance rate, according to researchers Peter Bearman from Columbia and Hannah Bruckner from Yale, is somewhere between 5% and 7%. The publication The Guardian swallows hard, but has this to say about that study: “The flawed thinking behind a genetic test for sexual orientation is clear from studies of twins, which show that the identical twin of a gay man, who carries an exact replica of his brother’s DNA, is more likely to be straight than gay. That means even a perfect genetic test that picked up every gene linked to sexual orientation would still be less effective than flipping a coin.”

In other words, brethren, the genetic evidence for biological causation is so poor you’d have better luck predicting sexual orientation by throwing darts blindfolded. In truth, the only sure thing about saying that there is a genetic component for homosexuality is the certainty that people will continue to say that there is. Satan is very clever at what he does.

It has never been about what is “in your blood” as far as God is concerned! God only makes humans and he does not make them to sin. And the only blood that matters is the blood of God’s dear son. Are you washed in THAT blood?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

~ Steve Wright