I’ve been busy on mission trips the past two weeks, so my ability to follow the news was greatly lessened. However, I am back, just in time for the media explosion and social media outrage over the killing of Cecil the Lion, a majestic, 13 year old male lion who was a popular attraction for Zimbabwe. Evidently, an American dentist paid over $50,000 (!) to a local company that is supposed to guide hunters to legal game, but here, they baited Cecil away from the national park with a carcass and then the dentist shot Cecil with a crossbow. The lion, however, did not die immediately, and ran away wounded. The hunting party tracked him for 40 hours before finally shooting him to death. He was decapitated and skinned for trophies before his body was simply left to rot. The dentist claims that he did not know that he shot a protected lion that was used for research until after he killed it, but even if that were true, it does not help that he and the people with him tried to destroy the tracking collar on the lion when they found it.
A few weeks ago, I went to New York City for a family vacation, and we primarily stayed in Manhattan. Two weeks after that, I was back in New York City, but this time in a predominantly Chinese area in Brooklyn. It was a more down to earth setting than the glitz and glamour of Times Square and Broadway, which was just fine with me since I am not a big fan of the hustle and bustle of the city. It also seemed to be a more fitting setting for the reason I was there, which was to help out at a children’s Bible program for the local kids. Truth be told, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go on this trip, having schoolwork to do as well as another mission trip right after in Tulsa, OK (which I am at right now). Also, while I have some experience teaching English to young kids, I have very little teaching Bible stuff to them because my primary audience is normally college students and older. Speaking in a way that kids understand was a daunting task. However, God was working during the trip and I was very blessed by the experience. I have no regrets about going and wished we had more time with both the kids and the youth workers.
I was browsing the Internet and came across Matthew Paul Turner’s response to the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage (“Do you disagree with SCOTUS’s decision about marriage? I have questions, so many questions…”). Turner is a so-called progressive Christian; he’s written some good things before, but unfortunately, one readily notices his complete lack of interacting seriously with any biblical texts and his over-reliance on emotional rhetoric on many topics, ranging from church membership, church discipline, and theology in general. In this particular article, these traits were especially egregious, and not only that, as someone allegedly defending tolerance, he came off as extraordinarily haughty and spiteful. For example, here is how he prefaces his questions:
I have a few questions for those people—those Jesus-loving folks who seemingly believe that they own the copyright on what God thinks about marriage. While I doubt my questions will change anybody’s mind on the matter at hand, I do hope my inquiries will at least cause some people to pause long enough to think about their actions, their words, their posture, their faith…
Yep, “those Jesus-loving folks who seemingly believe that they own the copyright on what God thinks about marriage.” That sounds like you want liberal dialogue. While such an attitude is rarely useful, it would at least be understandable if he presented a plethora of razor sharp arguments; instead, he builds strawman after strawman and asks a bunch of condescending, presumptuous questions. It is amusing that such progressive Christians want to be the face of tolerance and social justice for the church and then go ahead and rely on such tactics.
It would be easy to dismantle Turner’s article; in this case, it may be even more helpful to show him and other Christians like him how exactly they are arguing (it will be helpful to give his a read first). So in the spirit of his own article, I have a few long-winded questions for him and others–you know, those Jesus-loving folks who seemingly believe that they can ignore the Bible and make up what God thinks about marriage.
After almost three years, I put in some minor revisions in my articles on interpretive efforts to make the Bible come out positive or neutral on gay relationships (Part I and Part II). I primarily interacted with Matthew Vines, who is a modern example of decades-old arguments that try to use Scripture to justify or excuse gay relationships, and I showed how they are exceptionally poor. I removed one section from Part II to make into a new article in order to shorten Part II and to add some more content. To his credit, Vines did not resort to using these especially atrocious arguments in his original presentation, but they are still worth talking about because they are unfortunately still used by uninformed Christians and non-Christians.