Monday, April 29, 2013

Liberator of Women

"Why are you helping me?” The woman said to Captain Nathan Algren, from Hollywood’s block buster film The Last Samurai.  She was carrying some items and the Captain came to help.  In her surprise she commented that “Japanese men don’t help with things like this.” 

The treatment and liberation of women around the world has taken a tremendous leap forward in the last 100 years.  And yes, there is still much work to do.  The first steps toward raising the value of women in society began nearly 2,000 years ago.  It started with Jesus Christ, who is history’s greatest liberator of women.  There are five ways in which He changed the course of history.

Defense.  Jesus had celebrity status, as He gathered crowds in the thousands around Him.  They hung on His every word.  In the midst of this platform He defended women when society tried to demean and dismiss them. 

Challenging the status quo.  Jesus put His life and reputation on the line challenging the unjust but acceptable ways in which women were treated during His day.  Through knowingly opposing cultural rules He became a voice for the voiceless.       

Equality.  Jesus demonstrated that women were as equally valuable as men.  He saw no difference in a man’s worth over a woman’s.  Both were created and loved by God.   

Compassion.   Jesus showed kindness toward women of all ranks in society.  Upper, middle and lower classes.  He showed words and deeds of peace, hope and freedom to all women who would choose to believe in Him.  

Accountability.  Even though Jesus offered promise to women, He also called them to repentance.  He realized true freedom is not just found in changing man’s laws or cultural ideals.  He offered liberation of the soul through forgiveness of sin.  When women are delivered from sin they discover real freedom.   

Jesus and those who follow His example offer a message to women around the world.  Those in abusive relationships, oppressive cultures and feeling on the fringe of society, can find worth in Christ.  While publicly standing against one woman’s accusers Jesus said to her “‘Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?’  She said, ‘No one, Lord.’  And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more’” (John 8:10-11).  Across the world, Jesus calls husbands, businesses and governments to honor the God-given value women have.  May Jesus be the hope of women today and forever.  

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Great Debate

Based on the results of an extensive survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, “a fierce debate is taking place” across America. What are they are talking about? Gay marriage.

As the movement to legalize gay marriage has gained strength in recent years it has received strong opposition from the Christian community. Arguments have been made against Christians encouraging them to acknowledge that times have changed and to change with them. Helping with that line of thinking the gay movement has utilized acceptable phrases like marriage equality, civil rights, tolerance and diversity. Their compelling and effective campaign has raised two significant issues in my mind - freedom and truth. The gay community wants freedom to practice their lifestyle and pursue measures to normalize and legalize it in our culture, while the Christian community, which is governed by biblical truth, seeks to remain faithful to its beliefs and resists any legal measures to force their compliance.

For over 3,000 years historic Judeo-Christian teaching has accepted the Bible’s position that homosexuality is a sin, just as lying and stealing are. Even though efforts are being made to re-interpret key Scriptures on this issue, modern scholars stand by the accuracy of traditional interpretations. As a result of this time-tested truth the Christian’s conscience is gripped by a conviction that the gay lifestyle and the promotion of it is a violation of God’s standard. Even so, believers do acknowledge the strong passions homosexuals feel for each other. However, this doesn’t take away from the reality of God’s Word, that He condemns all forms of sexual expression – except one. He only puts His blessing on sexual relations between a man and woman in the bonds of marriage.

Christian opposition to the gay movement is on the basis of biblical truth. Similarly, the Christian’s mandate to show kindness to homosexuals is also on the basis of this truth. As a Christian I apologize to gays who have been shunned by the church. We have a divine obligation to lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders to show nothing but love, even in the midst of disagreements. The Scriptures say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).

Ultimately, Christians have a positive and simple agenda. First, we are positively for people and against sin. Second, we simply want to share the love of God through the good news of Jesus with all. My prayer is that everyone will experience freedom through divine forgiveness. This freedom comes by repentance and simple faith in Christ no matter who someone is or what they have done. Indeed, may Christ be our nation’s hope for today.