And the shrewd and cunning serpent, evil in every way, slithered close enough to whisper, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . . “
And they died.
Today, the serpent still whispers lies in the ears of willing listeners, offering sin-poisonous fruit that entices their god-like egos. Though already defeated, he will be silenced soon by a final crushing from the bruised heel of the Righteous King.
Until that day, we must tend to the garden we have, marred as it is, and be ever watchful of the enemy who is as cunning as a serpent and as destructive as a rogue lion.
Yesterday, what the enemy whispered in the ears of the governing leaders of the United States House of Representatives has now been loudly boasted throughout the garden of our nation. A new bill, called The Equality Act, was passed by the House Democrats and three Republicans, which would, according to the legislation, eliminate the legal definition of biological sex, acquiesce to non-scientific gender ideology, and vilify defending the unborn as pregnancy discrimination.
Dr. Susan Berry identified seven “radical demands” that can be ascertained from The Equality Act, that I want to share with you and comment on.
“Discrimination based on sexual orientation includes discrimination based on an individual’s actual or perceived romantic, emotional, physical, or sexual attraction to other persons, or lack thereof, on the basis of gender. LGBTQ people, including gender nonbinary people, also commonly experience discrimination because of sex-based stereotypes. Many people are subjected to discrimination because of others’ perceptions or beliefs regarding their sexual orientation. Even if these perceptions are incorrect, the identity imputed by others forms the basis of discrimination.”
In other words, to hold to the biblical worldview of God’s created order, that being biological sex of male and female exclusively, will not only be discriminatory but also can, and will, be deemed illegal and punishable according to the law if fully enacted. Regardless of a person’s religious belief, there is no “legal” justification for not adhering to the new legislation. If you find that hard to believe, here is an excerpt from The Equality Act: “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.” (http://uscode.house.gov/quicksearch/get.plx?title=42§ion=2000bb
There are numerous implications for people of faith, whether it be in social settings, as an employer or employee, and in other spheres of life and culture. Even the Church is not exempt from the consequences of such legislation. Here’s what that means specifically for pastors who still preach the whole counsel of God’s word, and are willing to be courageous enough to preach the truth of Scripture: to preach Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” or any other biblical text that speaks to God’s created order of the biological sex of male and female, would subject pastors and churches to the penalty levied by the federal government for discrimination against those who identify other than male or female.
In addition, because there is no protection under “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993,” a same-sex, transgendered, binary, non-binary, gender fluid, genderqueer, cisgender, gender nonconforming, or agender couple seeking to be married by a pastor in a church, cannot legally be denied the “right” to do so, according to The Equality Act. To deny such a request would be punishable according to the legislation. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with all of these “gender terms,” which seem to transition daily, you might want to get up to speed. Fortunately, Cosmopolitan is woke enough to offer their counsel in their article, “12 Gender-Related Terms You Should Know and Understand.” And don’t forget that YOU SHOULD KNOW AND UNDERSTAND these, lest you be unenlightened.
Although that last sentence was a little tongue-in-cheek, this is serious. If the Church, and the pastors who shepherd, do not begin to address this from the pulpits, the people who fill your pews (or chairs) will continue to move their tents further from Eden. What I mean by that is that they will be drawn and seduced by the cultural “truths” they are presented (which are, in fact, not truth) and find themselves, as the apostle Paul writes, being taken “captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
As a matter of fact, such ideology is already in your church. You may not visibly see it, or even hear it expressed, but it’s there. For too long, the Church has embraced a dangerous practice of allowing anyone and anything into the community of believers. But when you look at the Church in the book of Acts, there is something that seems to be often overlooked. Luke records this in Acts 2, “And they (followers of Christ), devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:42-44
In reading the text, the word “together” is often overly emphasized to the detriment of another word that is imperative in the life of a faith community, “believed.” The word “believed” carries with it the implication that this was a belief in Jesus Christ, and the full message of the gospel which is not only His death, burial, and resurrection, but also His teachings and His ways. Before a people can live in true community together as it relates to faith in Christ, there must be a common belief. Apart from believing the essential doctrines of faith and holding to a biblical worldview expressly revealed in God’s word, any sense of community or of being together becomes impossible. In being together, as Luke writes regarding the Church, the meaning of the word speaks to unity, or having the same mind concerning Christ and His gospel. Such a belief was the impetus to their practices of attending the temple together, breaking bread in their homes, receiving their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God, and having favor with all the people. They experienced this, not by capitulating to those who did not believe in Christ and their cultural beliefs, but by holding fast to what they knew was true according to Christ. As a result, God added to their number day by day those who were being saved. In other words, people were coming to faith in Christ and being transformed because of the work of the Spirit through the lives of true believers. Compromising the truth doesn’t lead others to Christ; quite the opposite is true.
What greatly concerns me with the Church today is how easy it is to become part of the faith community or church family . . . or whatever term may be used. I commend those churches that take steps to not only communicate what they believe through whatever process they have in place, but also take the time to get to know those who are desiring to be identified as part of the body of Christ within their local faith family. To do so exemplifies shepherding the flock among you (1 Peter 5), as well as providing accountability and a willingness to be held accountable as those who believe and desire to be together in community.
I know there are those who will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. But there is a popular phrase that exists in many church cultures that I believe may be well intended, but may also be misconstrued by those who seek to belong to a faith community. It’s the phrase, “You can belong before you believe.” The intention may well be to communicate that any person is welcome to come to church and feel like they belong. I get that to a degree. We certainly want those who do not know Christ, or those who are questioning their faith, to come and hear the truth of the gospel. Regardless of their beliefs culturally, politically, theologically, as well as lifestyle choices, we should desire that all people are welcomed to “come and see,” as Philip did when He met Jesus and told Nathanael. But when it comes to identifying with the body of Christ within a community of faith, there needs to be a common belief, which includes a confession of faith in Christ and all the gospel speaks and demands.
As a pastor, the question you must answer is this: “Will I preach the truth?” And, please, don’t quickly state the obvious that we must be loving. The truth is always loving. How we speak truth is another important issue, but what is not loving is preaching feel-good messages that are merely injecting a false and toxic-theology that is nothing more than a slow time-release of theological poison. If you’re needing insight, wisdom, and counsel as to how you need to lead today as a pastor, it would be wise to spend time pouring over Paul’s counsel and admonition to Timothy written in 2 Timothy 3 and 4.
If truth is not spoken, then the lies of the enemy will continue to be perpetuated and believed. As a matter of fact, someone once said, “If you tell a big enough lie, and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” That’s a true statement.
And just so you know, that someone was Adolph Hitler, and we know what came as a result of his lies.
Who, in their right mind, thinks this is a good idea? The key phrase there is “right mind.” As a dad of three kids (all grown now, mind you), one of whom is my daughter, there is no way in . . . well, there is NO way, I would have ever allowed them to go into a restroom by themselves knowing that a biological man could be in the same bathroom as my daughter, and a biological woman be in the same bathroom as my sons. Even when they were younger, when common sense still had some traction regarding biological sex and scientific reality, they often (not always) did not go in a bathroom without me being with my sons, or my wife being with my daughter when we were in public. And now, having a granddaughter, and two grandsons, there is absolutely not a chance that they will be going into a public restroom while they are with me, knowing that it is not only legal but even celebrated, that biological males and females can use whichever public facility they would like. And remember, even if you are opposed to this, based on this legislation, you have no legal argument on which to stand.
And if, by chance, there are some parents who are reading this, or listening to the podcast, who think that eliminating this type of privacy for women and girls, and even boys, is somehow safe and acceptable, and will allow your children the opportunity to grow and be accepting of the feelings and beliefs of others, you are not only a special kind of ignorant but are contributing to the harm of your children. I know, I can already hear some shouting, “How dare you!” No, how dare you.
Just to show the hypocrisy and how fragile the failed argument has been that men and women, boys and girls, are the same, you might recall the rhetoric that has been championed for quite some time that women should be allowed to compete in men’s sports. As recent as this past Fall, a young lady was celebrated as being the place kicker for Vanderbilt University. Now, however, there is a backlash occurring over the acceptance of allowing transgendered athletes, specifically biological males who have transitioned to female, to compete against women. The reasoning is that there is an unfair advantage. As a matter of fact, according to a report by Duke Law, “there is an average 10-12% performance gap between elite males and elite females.” Why? Well, because biologically it is evident that men and women are different. That’s a scientific fact; a phrase we have heard thrown out a lot over the past year which is only employed when it is politically and culturally expedient regarding proper appropriation. If you’d like to see data on this, check out the report done by Duke University School of Law, here: https://law.duke.edu/sports/sex-sport/comparative-athletic-performance/
For years there has been an effort to not only blur the lines between men and women, but to literally obliterate the lines as we have seen in The Equality Act. As a culture, there has been a failure to distinguish the difference between equality and sameness. Equality simply means that men and women are equal in regard to value and dignity. We are both, men and women, created in the image of God. As people, men are not superior to women, nor are women to men. But equality does not assume sameness. We are not the same biologically; we are not the same physiologically; we process things different emotionally as well. We are different. And that’s a good thing.
If this isn’t further evidence of how public education is seeking to indoctrinate your children, I don’t know what is. Without question, we have many public school teachers who are followers of Christ and strong in their faith. For those who are, you truly are on the front lines, and the cultural war is intensifying. That being said, however, teachers aren’t the ones who set policy nor choose the core curricula that is taught in public schools. In light of The Equality Act, schools would be mandated to teach a distorted ideology that, once again, defies the design of God and His created order.
In all seriousness, at what point should a teacher voice his or her concerns to the administration and school board, and take a stand against a mandate that is harmful to children? Regardless of whether or not you hold to a biblical worldview regarding God’s biological design, research has shown that depression, anxiety, suicide rates, and other mental health issues are greatly increased as a result of this issue. And for those who are willing to look at the evidence, it is not because those who are confused regarding gender are being unaccepted by culture. Culture is applauding, encouraging, and celebrating this; just look at all forms of media, and in the marketplace. And now, federally, it is legislation. This is a spiritual issue because all of us have been created according to God’s design and order. When cultural disorder replaces God’s order, chaos and confusion ensue.
I understand the desire to not abandon the public schools, and to maintain a Christian witness in Babylon. For teachers who have such a calling, remain steadfast in your convictions. Let the light of Christ shine in dark places. But as in other professions, at some point there may come a time where you will have to choose between acquiescing to the mandates that violate biblical truth or compromising your convictions. If, and when, that comes, are you willing to lose your job for the sake of what is right and true?
According to Melanie Israel of the Heritage Foundation, “The Equality Act could lead to changes in school curricula, such as texts that affirm and promote controversial sexual orientation and gender identity viewpoints. The Equality Act could also be used to override states that have prohibited sexual orientation and gender identity curricula. Where states have conversely mandated sexual orientation and gender identity curricula, parents and schools do not have access to “opt-out” options.
She goes on to say, “If the Equality Act were to become federal law and public school curricula become further entwined with sexual orientation and gender identity ideology, Planned Parenthood is well-positioned to further its presence in public schools and take advantage of an additional avenue to promote both sexual orientation and gender identity ideology as well as the organization’s hormone treatment services. In other words, additional sexual orientation and gender identity curricula could become yet another marketing tool for America’s abortion giant.”
Although The Equality Act does not explicitly say that these things will occur, it would make illegal any attempt to deny schools what the legislation affords. Looking at recent history regarding gender equality ideology that is already pervasive in schools, this would encourage public schools to do so due to the legal protection that would be enforced.
For educators who believe this curricula mandate would never come to their small-town school, or their district that is led by predominantly Christian administrators would refuse to implement such a mandate, it would only take one complaint from a parent who feels their child is being discriminated against, or that the current curricula taught is non-inclusive, to legally force the school to comply. That’s where we are in our culture.
For parents who have kids in school, at what point will you make the sacrifice necessary in order for you to educate your students without the fear of them being indoctrinated by curriculum that is destructive and counter to your biblical worldview? As parents, we are the primary disciple-makers of our children. It’s not the Church’s primary role. It certainly isn’t public education’s role. Yet when you calculate the number of hours your child sits in a classroom at school, versus the concentrated time you spend with your child reading God’s word, in prayer, and day-to-day discipleship, the disparity is massive.
Although teachers have the ability to make a choice regarding whether or not they stay and seek to be a witness in the workplace and among their students, children most often do not have the emotional or mental fortitude to be able to withstand and process the onslaught of such a destructive ideology. The time may be coming soon when a choice will need to be made to do whatever is necessary to provide a better environment for your children to learn without the fear of them being fed lies from the enemy who loves to whisper in their ears.
This isn’t what could happen, it is already happening but would present a legal framework for it to become more frequent. In 2018, a couple in Ohio who had a 17-year-old girl lost custody of their daughter for opposing her wish for transgender medical treatments. The presiding judge, Sylvia Sieve Hendon, gave custody to the girl’s grandparents, who fully supported their 17-year-old granddaughter’s desire to medically transition to a male. One attorney stated, “We think the grandparents are the ones who have an open mind and will … make this sort of decision best for the child. The parents have clearly indicated that they’re not open to it.”
So rather than the parents knowing best, the government would be able to circumvent the God-given responsibility and rights of the parents. That, my friends, is Totalitarianism at the core. You don’t know what’s best for your children, we do.
And just who are those who think they know what’s best for your children? Well, one example is the Biden Administration’s pick for Health and Human Services, Rachel Levine, a biological man who considers himself a transgender woman, who is a proponent of and has supported both allowing minors to be given hormone blockers to prevent them from going through puberty, as well as surgical procedures for minors who wish to transition.
Doesn’t it say something that “hormone blockers” have to be administered in order for the body of a child to stop developing as it was naturally intended to do? And what about removing parts of a child’s body that are the result of their “X” or “Y” chromosome? How is that healthy for a child mentally? Emotionally? Physically? The answer is that it is not healthy. It’s destructive; and the scientific evidence reveals as much.
According to Dr. Michelle Cretella, president of the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds), “Over 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental disorder, and there is no evidence that gender-dysphoric children who commit suicide are any different. Many gender dysphoric children simply need therapy to get to the root of their depression, which very well may be the same problem triggering the gender dysphoria.” She went on to say, “Even in Sweden, which is among the countries most accepting of LGBT individuals, adults who undergo sex change surgeries have a suicide rate nearly 20 times greater than that of the general population.” Twenty times greater than the suicide rate of the general public, which is in and of itself too high. Obviously hormone blockers, and sex reassignment is not the answer to gender dysphoria.
When humanity seeks to become like God, the result is utter destruction.
The legislation reads, “Discrimination can occur on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes. Each of these factors alone can serve as the basis for discrimination, and each is a form of sex discrimination.”
In short, it is another legal avenue that will be used against those who refuse to perform abortions by claiming it to be discrimination on the basis of sex.
So, not only is there an assault on the sanctity of life within the womb, but also on the dignity and God-given biological design of an individual.
What was true in Eden, is true now: Satan is still whispering in the ears of God’s most precious creation. And for all who give him a willing ear and listen to his ego-seducing lie, “you will be like God,” a rude awakening is in store.
No matter how hard man tries, he cannot uncreate God’s created order. It is a futile attempt that leads to more confusion, chaos, pain and suffering; the same results that happened when Eden was lost.
The writer of Proverbs said it well when he wrote, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 16:25
I believe God is grieved over what He is witnessing in this world, and not just with the evil that exists. I believe God is also grieving over His bride, the Church, for burying her head in the sand and in silence choosing to ignore what is clearly before her, or for embracing a distorted theology and godless ideology as being the loving and accepting thing to do.
Navigating rightly the culture in which we live will never happen if we, as followers of Christ, do not hold to a high view of Scripture and a biblical worldview that is clearly revealed in God’s word. To not know His word is to not know His ways, and how we are to live in such a time as this.
Pastors, again, I beg of you to preach the truth of God’s word with conviction and passion; with brokenness and lament; with lovingkindness and mercy; with humility, yet boldness; and a confidence that God’s sustaining grace will cover you, and His faithfulness will go before you in these days.
Church, be the Church God has ordained you to be; make much of Christ and His word, and in doing so point people to the Truth; and be the Bride who loves the Bridegroom, Jesus, and readies herself for our soon coming King.
Until that day, tend the Garden he has given us. And be watchful and alert.
(Note: I highly recommend you and your church watch a great documentary entitled “In His Image,” that the American Family Association has produced. You can watch here: https://inhisimage.movie/ )