As anyone awake knows, Target stores have embraced a bathroom policy that allows transgender individuals to use whatever restroom that coincides with their “gender identification.” As a pastor and as a Christian, this is obviously, deeply disturbing - - In fact, so much so that I have decided to stop shopping there. But the title of this article isn’t, “It’s a sin to shop at Target and you can say so.” So let me explain; There are many things I choose not to do out of preference or conviction that I cannot say are sin. I may only say something is sinful, if the Scriptures designate it thusly. If the Scriptures don’t allow me to classify a given behavior or association as sinful, I can say, “I think it’s unwise” or “it could be a bad testimony” or “it could lead to sin”, but none of these reasons for my personal rejection of something allow me to tell someone else they are sinning by engaging in that practice.
According to the clear example of Scripture, shopping at a store that sells goods that do not directly require the purchaser to sin in the transaction of or consumption of, those goods cannot be sinful purely because of the outside affiliations of the seller.
In the book of Nehemiah, the nation of Israel is clearly seen trading with their pagan neighbors, (Nehemiah 13:16) “Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah”. The Israelites are reprimanded in this same context for trading on the Sabbath, not for trading with outsiders. In Genesis 42:1-3, “Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, “Why are you staring at one another?” He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.” 3 Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt.” What part of Egyptian culture or religion was consistent with a Judeo/Christian ethic? They were as idolatrous and immoral as pagan cultures get. Later Jacob and his sons (Gen. 46:6) “took their livestock and their property, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and came to Egypt.” Was Canaan a Jewish nation that reflected God’s law? Think of a patriarch - - Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Nehemiah, etc., they all traded goods with wicked nations. Yet at no point did God ever rebuke or judge them for this practice. He judged them for becoming like their neighbors, not for trading with them.
In Luke 7 Jesus praises the centurion for his great faith in believing Jesus could heal his servant from a distance (vs. 9), but the centurion is never rebuked for his service to Rome. The Roman Empire sanctioned the murder of all the male children that were two years old and younger (Matt. 2:16) for fear of the coming of the prophesied Messianic King. Rome also required imperial worship (worship of emperors) of most of its subjects (although Jew’s were excluded due to their influence). The Roman government was absolutely wicked and the centurion is never commanded by Jesus to cease his role in their military.
Lydia the “seller of purple” was “a worshipper of God” from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). One of the trade guilds in Thyatira manufactured dyed clothing (trade guilds are similar to the idea of industry specific, trade unions). Every trade guild in Thyatira had a pagan, patron, god or goddess associated with the production of their respective product. But, Lydia was both “a worshipper of God” and a “seller of purple”. Even with the well-known pagan association with her industry, what she sold for income and her worship of God were not in conflict.
So am I encouraging you to shop at Target? Not at all! As I said at the beginning I have stopped shopping at Target because of their restroom policy. Than why write this? Because my concern is not where you buy your groceries, it is how you use God’s Word. However noble you may think your cause is or however noble it may actually be, you cannot say something is sinful unless Scripture does. Who defines sin? Obviously God does in His Word. Than when you say something is sin, you do so with a “thus says the Lord” authority. If God defines the term and then you use it, your use of His term better match His definition. Sin is breaking God’s moral law. God’s moral law reflects His moral character. Therefore when you say something is sinful that He doesn’t, you are saying something untrue about His character. Be very, very, careful! As a pastor there may be certain things that I would prefer my congregation not do (pastor’s often have concerns about music styles, etc.), because it would make shepherding them simpler. But, I don’t get to impose my concerns upon their theology. It is a fearful thing to misrepresent God in order to prove a point. If you shop at Target you’re not sinning. If you choose not to shop at Target you are also not sinning, but if while speaking on God’s behalf you say things that contradict His Word, you are sinning.
by Austin Hetsler
Pastor of Christ the Rock Church
Sojourners has released a witty and sarcastic video entitled "7 Reasons Men Should Not Be Pastors." You should watch this one-minute collaboration of women giving their snarky comments before you read on:
As you can see, the total message of this particular video is “Support Women in the Church.” However, did you catch what was missing from the video? Scripture! But not just from the presentation, but also from the Pastors whom these women were mocking. Let me break it down for you like this.
1 Timothy 2:12, 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9 teaches clearly that the elders, pastors, overseers, bishops, or whatever each congregation may choose to call them, are to be male. In the formal gathering of a local assembly, regular biblical instruction, mentoring, spiritual oversight, shepherding, and the like, are to be accomplished by men. This does not mean that women do not have supporting roles to the Eldership or that women are incapable or forbidden to teach in the church at all. Although the previous sentence would need more clarification, and its practical application is often debated by even the most experienced men of God within complementarian and reformed circles, by and large, the most foundational agreement is that men are the leaders, pastors, and formal shepherds in the life of the local church. If Sojourners Magazine would depart from pragmatic and cultural paradigm shifts, and stick to the sufficiency of Scripture, such a video would not need to be published.
Having said all that, there is something all too familiar about the mockery these women are scripted to say. Here are the 7 reasons listed out:
1. Men can be involved in the church, they just don't need to be ordained. The children's ministry is always in need of male leadership.
2. Some men are handsome. They could be too distracting for us on Sunday.
3. They're too emotional to be priests or pastors. Go to a March Madness game and tell me I'm wrong.
4. Male pastors who have children might be distracted by the responsibility of being a parent.
5. Jesus was betrayed by a man, how can men be trusted to lead?
6. About once a month, male pastors get really cranky.
7. Men are still vitally important to the life of the church, I mean, they could sweep the sidewalks, or repair the church roof. they could even lead the worship on Father's Day.
And then the video ends with: "So yea, we hear stuff like this all the time." And sadly, I have to agree. I don't agree that it is "2016" therefore we must bow the knee to the ever changing god of cultural relativity. Nor do I agree that all these points provide sufficient conversation concerning the roles of women in the church. However, the totality of what is being said makes for a great point concerning preachers and their failure to uphold Sola Scripture and the sufficiency of Scripture.
I have personally heard some of the moronic things that preachers/Christians say concerning women's role in the local church, and sadly, they are not too far off from this video. Points 1, 3, and 7 are some of the satirical remarks that remind me of the subpar attempts to justify their correct complementarian view in an unbiblcal way. To say that women don't "need" to be ordained rather than just stating Scripture forbids it, is an attempt to soften the blow, yet on the contrary, may harden the hearer. What does it mean to "not need"? How does necessity overthrow plain application from prescriptive principles? Furthermore, so what if women can be too emotional. I can be pretty emotional myself. Keeping emotions in check is just a basic discipline within Christendom. Not saying emotional stability is not important, but it's not only applicable to women. Lastly, I also agree that women are vitally important to the life of the church. But we should never offer alternatives as to how they can serve without first laying out from Scripture what God says where their roles are indeed vital!
Pragmatism can go both ways. And I think we are not aware of it at times. Some can be pragmatic against those who disagree with the idea that women are not to be pastors or ordained ministers within the local church, and others can be equally as pragmatic, if not more so, against those who believe that women can and should be pastors.
The only way to stop this pragmatic wheel from spinning is by affirming the sufficiency of Scripture, and lifting up God's word to a level of prescriptive preeminence. In other words, saying, "It may offend you, but that is what God's word teaches" is enough. So even though I may have brought to light some of the terrible reasons that some preachers have used to prohibit women from being ordained, this most certainly doesn't excuse the women in this video and Sojourners Magazine from their responsibility to obey what the Bible teaches and to preach what it says faithfully. Each local church may have to discuss nuances and varying practices as to how they will implement differing roles within the church (no matter what the gender), but hands down, the eldership are men. And unless with begin and end with Scripture, we will find ourselves in a pragmatic/relativistic nightmare. May the light of Scripture awake us from our slumber.
- Until we go home
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