EFCA Theology Conference Session 3 – Robert Gagnon

Jesus and Marriage – Robert Gagnon

Key Jesus Sex Text: Mark 10:2-12 (parallel is Matthew 19:3-9)

Learning from Jesus: A Back-to-Creation Model

  • Jesus declared Gen 1:27 and 2:24 to be the model for marriage
  • For Jesus, marriage isn’t something for humans to tinker with
  • Jesus emphasizes the “twoness” of a sexual bond
  • Prohibits both a revolving door of divorce/remarriage, implicitly polygamy
  • Where does Jesus get this number “two”
  • Gen 1:27, Gen 2:24, what do these 2 verses share in common: the union consists of a man and a women. Two sexes designed by God for a sexual union.
  • Twoness of the sexes is the foundation for the twoness of the sexual bond
  • Confirmation: Qumran’s basis for rejecting polygamy
  • S the twoness of the sexes is the basis for the twoness of the sexual bond

Three Corollaries to Jesus’ Back to Creation Model

  1. OT Law does not always reflect God’s perfect will
  • Many people think Jesus is increasing the permissions of marriage, Jesus is doing the opposite and actually making it more rigid
  • Jesus unilaterally amended the constitution of Israel
  • Moses made a concession to male “hardness of heart”
  • Jesus worked toward a more rigorous sexual ethic, closing off remaining loopholes
  1. Jesus repudiated inequities toward women, but in which direction?
  • In early Judaism, a man could commit adultery only against another woman’s husband
  • What Jesus did not do is give women the same sexual license that men had
  • Instead, he bound men to the same high standard as women
  1. A homosexual relationship is worse than a polygamous one
  • Jesus regarded a male-female prerequisite as foundational for sexual ethics
  • That obviously precludes a homosexual relationship

Further evidence of Jesus’ rejection of Homosexual Practice

  1. Nine other arguments
  • Jesus’ retention of the Law of Moses (Scripture) generally
  • Jesus’ intensification of the Law’s sex ethic (adultery of the heart, divorce)
  • John the Baptist’s strong stance on sex laws
  • Early Judaism united opposition
  • The early church’s united opposition
  • Jesus saying about the defiling effect of desires for porneia (Mark 7:21-23)
  • Jesus on the Decalogue adultery prohibition (Mark 10:17-22)
  • Jesus’ saying about Sodom (Matt 10:14-15; Luke 10:10-12)
  • The “born eunuchs” statement (Matt 19:10-12)
  1. Why then did Jesus not speak directly against homosexual practice?
  • No need to, the Hebrew Scriptures already clearly established man-male intercourse as a grave offense
  • No Jew is known to have engaged in homosexual practice in the period, it wasn’t happening. It would have been a waste of Jesus’ time
  • What then is the meaning of Jesus’ silence on homosexual practice? Same thing as his silence on bestiality

Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage

  1. Prohibiting remarriage after divorce
  • Matt 5:32, Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
  • If a man divorces his wife on invalid grounds would mean that the marriage is still intact in God’s eyes, so if the man remarries he is committing adultery by having sex with a woman other than his wife
  1. The hardest case: A woman invalidly divorced
  • She’s the victim of a divorce, yet if she remarries she is committing adultery, again the main part is if the marriage is still intact

Learning from Jesus: Other Principles

  1. Sex ethic distinct from love command
  • If these are the same, if we truly loved everyone we should be having sex with everyone. Jesus said to love everyone, but have sex with only 1 person
  1. A strong interior component to sexual ethics
  • He wants not only external but internal obedience
  1. Sexual ethics as a life-and-death matter (Matt 5:29-30, John 8:3-11)
  2. A heightened ethical demand coupled with a loving outreach to violators
  • Jesus is asking us to do both
  • The parallel of tax collectors and sexual sinners – Jesus reached out to both of these groups – outreach to those in greatest danger
  1. Jesus on the love commandment, rebuke and forgiveness, the Good Samaritan
  • Love your neighbor as yourself, a true understanding of love is not about you, it’s about correcting a friend who is straying
  • Rebuking and forgiveness Luke 17:3-4
  1. The ends of marriage
  • Procreation (Gen 1:27-28)
  • Companionship and sexual enjoyment (Gen 2:18_
  • The highest objective of marriage is not even companionship, but Jesus’ insistence on marital indissolubility, based on the 2 becoming 1, is the key
  • Marriage is God’s instrument for reuniting male and female into an integrated sexual whole
  • God designed marriage for shaping two into one
  • Sexual activity sets in motion a reality beyond the individual’s control

EFCA Theology Conference 2013

Just so those who are reading are aware, I’m simply posting the notes I’ve taken from the various sessions. I’ll do my best to keep it succinct and edited, but I’m sure there will be typos and errors. I’m doing my best to keep up with the speakers and track the main content. I hope you find it helpful!

EFCA Theology Conference Session 2 – Stanton Jones

Science and the Morality of Homosexual Conduct – Stanton L. Jones

Major challenges to traditional view

  • Call to love and acceptance
  • Supposed silence of Scripture
  • “New ethical truth” (e.g. Gentiles, divorce)
  • Spirituality among gays
  • New truth from Science

Why engage science? Two divergent Christian Motivations

  • As an exercise in Natural Theology or Natural Ethics

Presumes: Reason can lead to a consensus ethic apart from Revelation

Method: Inductive

Goal: Establish homosexual conduct as wrong (or right) via reason

  • As an Apologetic Defense of Revealed Ethic.

Presumes: Science and Ethics are not disconnected but relationship is complex

Method: Review science on science’s terms; examine logic of application of science to moral question

  • Does science prove (or validate) natural ethics?
  • Does science disprove (or invalidate) natural ethics?

Challenging “Scientific” Assertions

  • Being gay is as healthy as being straight
  • Sexual orientations is a biological determined variable, no moral issue
  • Sexual orientation cannot be changes
  • Homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual
  • Identity is properly rounded in sexual orientation

To respond to claims of “Science says…” we must

  • Ascertain the real finding of science and critique with great care
  • Examine carefully the logic by which the findings of science are applied to the moral question.

Quote from “Gay Fruit Flies” 6/05

  • “Science is closing the door on right-wing distortions” they go from fruit flies to social policy.
  • Critique: well, humans aren’t fruit fly, their reproductive pattern is very influenced by their genetics, but has no application to human sexual reproduction. When the gay fruit flies were placed with heterosexual fruit flies they all started basically a conga line of gay fruit fly sex, showing it is more environmental than genetic

Great Weakness of Homosexuality Research

  • Inability to identify a representative sample of GLB persons
  • Statistical infrequency contributes to this problem
  • Further compounded by definitional issues “who counts?”
  • Leads to severe problems with “volunteer bias”

Etiology of Homosexuality: Biologically-Determined, right?!?

  • Newsweek article: Is This Child Gay? Focused on 2 studies: A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men: compared the brain structures of gay and straight men.

Background on Brain Studies:

  • There ahs been a pattern of publicized findings that have never been replicated
  • Brain differences may or may not be genetic
  • Brain differences may be either cause or effect of behavioral/psychological differences
  • Hypothalamus regulates some sexual behavior
  • LeVay reported that the INAH3 of heterosexual females was significantly smaller


  • Classification: subjects presumed heterosexual unless explicitly noted in medical files
  • Many subjects, heterosexual, and homosexual died of AIDS
  • Many had been treated with adrenergic drugs: influence on brains? (testosterone like drugs)
  • Reports circulated for years of failures to replicate.

William Byne (2000, 2001)

  • Careful sampling
  • Replicated that the INHA3 of heterosexual females is smaller than heterosexual males
  • Homosexual males to be intermediate between heterosexual males in INAH3, not significantly different than either
  • Found homosexual and heterosexual males to have the same number of neurons in INAH3
  • “Sexual orientation cannot be reliably predicted by size of INAH3 alone

Behavioral Genetics

  • The closer genetic relationship the closer psychologically they will be

Bailey and Pillard (1991) found males

  • Identical Twins – 52% concordance (29/56)
  • Fraternal twins – 22% concordance
  • Nontwin brothers – 9% concordance
  • Adopted brothers – 11 % concordance
  • Bailey actually found 56 gay individuals
  • He got a volunteer bias sample
  • Refuted study in 2000 in Australian twin registry
  • Of 27 twin pairs total, 3 pairs of twins were gay
  • His subsequent study got not public media

Direct hormonal effect on gender characteristics model

XY -> SRY -> testes -> Hi T -> Masculinization

XX -> no SRY -> ovaries -> Lo T -> Feminization

Been argued that this idea is too simplistic

/ epi-marks = T hypersens \

XY -> SRY -> testes -> Hi T -> Masculinization

/ epi-marks = T hypersens \

XX -> no SRY -> ovaries -> Lo T -> Feminization


  • No direct evidence for it
  • Directly reliant on assumption that male homosexuality is transmitted through mother and female homosexuality transmitted through the male, neither solidly proven
  • Counts on corroboration from data showing greater fecundity of relatives of Gays & Lesbians actual data quite mixed
  • Assumes pure biological programming of sexual preference

Etiology of Homosexuality: no evidence of non-biological causes, right?!?

  • Bearman & Bruckner (2002)
    • Group with highest rate of homosexual boys is one who was born with a twin sister. Condition that wiped this effect out was when there was an older brother in the family.
    • Frisch & Hviid (October 2006)
    • “Childhood family correlates of heterosexual and homosexual marriages: A national cohort study of two million Danes”

You find in conservative Christian circles that biology does not contribute: it does, everything contributes to this.

We always have to ask moral questions about the human condition

The Question of Change: Unchangeable, right?!?

  • “Change of behavior is always possible. God holds people responsible for their actions (which they choose) not their proclivities (many of which they do not choose)”
  • Dozens of studies have been published that change is possible.
  • Jones and Yarhouse (2007, 2011) Ex-Gays?

Two Key Issues:

  • Is change possible?
  • Is it harmful?

So: some people can change and the change is not intrinsically harmful

What are we do to?

  • Manifest Love
  • Live the truth

EFCA Theology Conference 2013 Session 1, Ben Mitchell

Human Sexuality – The Cultural and Ecclesiological Landscape – Dr. Ben Mitchell

A Few Caveats

  • Our anthropology requires charity
  • Our language anticipates double entendres
  • Our calling demands compassion
  • Our experience requires humility
  • Our task calls for courage
  • Our responsibility requires us to contextualize the question

Traditional Teaching on Sexuality and Marriage

  • One should refrain from sexual activity until marriage (i.e. the wedding)
  • An essential and normal (thought not the only) purpose of marriage is to produce marriage
  • One should refrain from sexual activity with anyone but one’s spouse
  • One should choose a spouse from the opposite sex
  • The marital estate is intended to be a permanent love relationship

All of these planks are being challenged today, and has happened within the past 60 years – a short period of time.

Today – many things within the scheme of sexuality are problematic

  • Courtship is dying
  • Cohabitation is growing
  • Marriage is disintegrating
  • Pornography is pandemic
  • Sexual abuse by clergy in daily news
  • “Adult toys” industry is mainstream
  • Shades of Grey popularizes “mommy porn”
  • Promiscuous procreation – there are 38 ways to make a baby
  • De-population is becoming problematic – especially in Europe
  • No-fault divorce is rampant
  • Children are suffering
  • Polyamory is becoming increasingly acceptable

How did we get here?

  • A cultural revolution took place
  • A cultural revolution, whatever the political ambitions of its architects, result first of all in metamorphosis in values and the conduct of life (see The Long March)
  • Both drugs and sexual liberation are expressions of the narcissistic hedonism that was an important ingredient of the counterculture from its development in the 1950s. The culture at large has taken the adolescent virtues and values from the sixties.
  • See Souls in Transition by Christian Smith sociologist believer at Notre Dame: Emerging adults are: soft ontological anti-realists, epistemological skeptics and perspectivalists. They believe that what’s good for you is good for you, but may not be good for me, it’s all up to personal preference.
  • “When young people want to praise themselves, they describe themselves as ‘non-judgmental.’ For them, the highest form of morality is amorality.” From Our Culture. What’s Left of It

The Great Divide – between conjugal marriage view and revisionist marriage view

  • The revolution has been nearly completed, President Obama has supported same-sex marriage

The Main View of Marriage within Evangelical Christianity

The Cultural Context/Accomadationist Approach

  • Jack Rogers, author of Slaves, Women & Homosexual
  • Overall idea: what the Bible is speaking against is a completely different context, very different than the monogamous homosexual relationships we are supposed to embrace today so we need to accommodate the culture.
  • Yes, we need to contextualize the text, but the biblical writers knew and what the Bible repudiates is very, very close and in some case identical to what we are being asked to accept and legitimize in our culture.

Natural Law-Consequentialist Approach

  • The Case for Marriage and What Is Marriage? Books
  • Marriage is the foundation for human civilization, if you can’t embrace that you can’t embrace true marriage. BUT there are also negative consequences for not embracing this view of marriage – looking at cohabitation, effects of dissolution of marriage on a culture, how it affects children, etc.

Separationist/Let’s Get On With It Approach

  • We’ve already lost the battle for traditional marriage, we are alienating the people we want to reach with the Gospel, so let’s back away from the public debate and entrench ourselves in the churches, protecting marriage there, letting us evangelize those we haven’t yet alienated.

Prophetic/Pastoral Witness Approach

  • We cannot give away marriage, we have to do all we can to preserve traditional marriage within the church, but also do all we can in appropriate ways to defend our ideas in the public square just like the prophets called out the sins of the people of God and the judgment of those who do not believe, in an attempt to show people the truth of Scripture. (Matthew 19:4-6)

EFCA Theology Conference 2013

Today I will be traveling down to Denver for the 2013 EFCA Theology Conference on the topic of Human Sexuality. The denomination always tries to do hot topic issues that are going on in the culture and this year is sexuality. I’ll be doing my best to live blog the speakers as they finish for those who are not able to go to the conference themselves. I’m very much looking forward to hearing all these issues and as always, I love being able to connect with other pastors in the free church. Be praying as it begins today at 1:10 Mountain Time – a couple of the speakers have already had to cancel their trip out to Denver with health issues, thankfully they’ll be able to Skype in.

A funny, but good take on the story of Jonah. If the God we worship is the God who created the place we are living, do we live like that?

The Responsible Puppet

I think one of the funniest verses in the Bible is Jonah 1:10b. Not for what it says, but for what it implies.

Here it is:

For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Because – When did he mention this? Was it when he came on board? Did the first mate ask him in his brief interview when Jonah came on board as a passenger?

First mate: Name.

Jonah: Jonah.

First mate: Occupation.

Jonah: Prophet.

First mate: Reason for travel.

Jonah: Running away from my God, because I don’t feel like doing what he commanded.

First mate: <shrugs> Whatevs*. Come on up.

I mean, who knows what kind of other weird motivations to cross a sea this sailor has heard from would be passengers.

Or did Jonah mention it in the galley after dinner during a game of…

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Preaching From an iPad Part 2 – How To

One of my friends asked me to show him how to set up your sermon on an iPad so here is a guide for how to set up your sermon from Word to ultimately working in iBooks on your iPad.
The first thing you need to do is actually write your sermon! I use Microsoft Word for all my typing. I’ve tried using Pages and NeoOffice and just found Word to be the easiest and most versatile. Once you’re done and ready to send it to the iPad you need to save it so you’d click File -> Save As

1That will take you to this screen:


Name it whatever you want to name it, and make sure you save it to a place you can easily find. I always save it to my desktop. Then click in the Format box.

3Change the format to PDF, then click Save. Now is when it’s important to remember where you saved it! E-mail it to yourself as at attachment to the e-mail you can access on your iPad. I typically use this e-mail as a chance for some encouragement! Open the e-mail on your iPad and it should look like this:

4Click on the attachment to download the file, it will open in a new window like this:

5Once you have that open, click the arrow in the top right corner which will give you a list of available apps to open the file with.

6Click ‘Open in iBooks’ and it may take a little bit to load depending on the size of your sermon, but you’ll finally have your sermon on your iPad looking like this:

7One of the best things about this is you can also see what time it is and how quickly you need to wrap up your sermon! A couple thing to remember about this is typically people have their display set to go to sleep after a couple minutes. I shut mine off for this. I also turned the brightness up all the way and made sure there weren’t any lights behind me that put a bad glare on the screen. I found this very easy to use and preach from without having to shuffle through what would have been 18 pages. My iPad has a smart cover on it too which has magnets in it so when I placed it on the music stand to preach from the smart cover held it in place really well. Feel free to ask me any questions about putting your sermons on your iPad!






Preaching From an iPad

One of the things I really enjoy is technology. I love learning how to use new technological advances to make my life easier and find ways to do the things I am doing better. I love finding new recipes on Pinterest, following people on Twitter and staying in touch with friends on Facebook. This past week for the first time, I used my iPad to preach, and I loved it! I thought it was much easier than trying to shuffle through paper, and having my Bible app easily accessible was great! We also have almost our whole Sunday service automated so I can control the background music, the slides and the sound board now all through my iPad. We’ve been using a newer presentation program Proclaim for all our services and I’ve found it great to use!

So this past week I wrote out my manuscript and tried to stick to it very carefully as I was dealing with a weighty issue (worship through music). I had it all typed in Word and highlighted the main points I needed to remember, then exported it as a pdf and then preached from it using the iBooks app that apple makes. It was incredible easy. All I had to do was tap on the right side of the screen and the next screen would pop up. If you have an iPad, I highly recommend using it to preach. I even have all my music in it so I lead music for church on my iPad. It really amazes me how easy it is to use and have everything I need in one centralized location.

Worship Through Music

I was given the opportunity to preach this past week and began a series on worship, looking specifically at worship through music. My main text was Ephesians 5:19-21 and ended with this point:

“This leads us to the final point from this Ephesians 5 passage “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” Brothers and sisters this continues to be one of the biggest issues in our church today. That first word, submit is something that is not attractive to our generation at all! Everyone wants to be in control of everything they do instead of being accountable to someone. We have convinced ourselves that we can be our own little gods who sit on our own little thrones and control our own destiny. Yet reading through Job we see just how small and insignificant we truly are. We come to church, not to encourage or support each other, but to get what we can from the church. We just looked at why we come together to sing corporate songs of worship together, it’s not for our sake, it’s for God’s sake!

One of the most disheartening things for me about where we are now is that before we sing every song I can look out at you and know who’s going to refuse to sing this specific song because it’s not one you like. Once again, I hate to be the bad guy, but it’s not about you. This is the very reason we had the “worship wars” during the past couple decades, too many have refused to submit to one another and have chosen instead to focus on themselves, their wants and their desires. Believe it or not there’s even some songs we do that I don’t like at all! Wait, you might say, you get to pick the songs. That’s exactly my point! Would you like it if every time we sang a song that I don’t really like I put down my guitar and refused to sing? Besides not keeping my job here very long, that would take the focus off of God and onto myself.”

You can listen to the message in its entirety here.

Children’s Bible Reading

Sorry I’ve been gone for a while! December was a crazy month.

I found a fantastic guide today for children’s Bible readings here. This is something I was always told to do growing up, and even saw it modeling in my parents but wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. This breaks the Bible down into very manageable portions (just a few verses at a time) and then asks a specific question about the text and includes room for prayer items. This would be a great way to give kids opportunities to practice writing as well!