Jeff Iorg Blog
Ministry in the New Marriage Culture
Jul 06 2015
About two years ago, Golden Gate Seminary sponsored a conference entitled “Ministry in the New Marriage Culture.” Since we have been dealing with same-sex marriage as a daily reality for more than 10 years in the Bay Area, we thought our faculty had some perspective to offer on this issue. The conference attracted a standing-room-only crowd.
Dr. Ben Skaug, our Vice President for Institutional Advancement suggested we expand the conference into a book by the same title. Over the past year, several faculty members and a few other guests have contributed chapters and I have served as the general editor. The book will be released soon. You can pre-order the book at www.lifeway.com or www.amazon.com. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled same-sex marriage is legal in the United States, the book is needed more than ever. Here is an excerpt:
“This book rests on the conviction same-sex marriage is wrong – on every level, in every way - but also acknowledges it is a growing cultural reality demanding a ministry response from Christian leaders and churches. Orthodox Christian leaders have clearly articulated our moral position and engaged in political activism opposing this movement, but the culture changed anyway. We are now, like it or not, in a new marriage culture. The question this book attempts to answer is simple, “Now what?”
Same-sex marriage is here – and there’s ample evidence it’s here to stay. Every writer who contributed to this book agrees same-sex marriage is wrong. Every writer agrees the biblical model for marriage is one man joined with one woman for life. Nothing in this book contradicts or softens those convictions. Up until now, communicating those standards and advocating for traditional marriage has been the Church’s primary message. We are not minimizing or denying the importance of those efforts. We are not advocating political activism or legal action to preserve traditional marriage be stopped. We are, however, insisting the Church accept the reality of our present situation and address ministry issues emerging from this cultural change.
If same-sex marriage is really as bad for our culture as we claim – and it is – then the negative fallout will soon show up on our ministry doorsteps. Broken families, disillusioned parents, confused children, and disheartened believers who do not know how to relate to their child, parent, friend, or colleague will turn to us for help. This book is a first, and we admit limited attempt, to provide resources for answering the “now what” questions people are asking or soon will be asking ministry leaders.”
Jun 29 2015
The Supreme Court has discovered “equal dignity” in the Constitution. It was an amazing bit of detective work, uncovering something hidden for about 240 years. Now that equal dignity has been cited to grant gays and lesbians the legal right to same sex marriage, it will be interesting to see who comes forward next demanding equal dignity.
What is being overlooked in the current decision is it only applies to the L and G in the LGBT acronym. Lesbians and gays are now recognized as a protected class, given rights based on the assumption their sexual orientation is genetic and its expression is protected behavior. When will the “B’s” in the acronym get the same recognition by the Court?
The B’s are bisexuals, meaning their sexual orientation is toward both men and women. Following the same logic just used by the Court, bisexuals should come forward soon and demand plural marriage. The polygamists, not currently part of the alphabet acronym describing sexual identity, should support them wholeheartedly. Again, following the reasoning of the Court, these groups have a valid case for further redefining marriage to assure their “equal dignity.”
There is no question legalizing same sex marriage is a crescendo moment in American history. Only naïve people believe this crested wave will now ebb, that this was all the LGBT community really wanted. It’s only the first wave, with many more social changes on the way. People who choose to advocate biblical morality and traditional marriage are in for some serious challenges in the next few years.
Over the weekend, media repeatedly referred to us as “right wing extremists.” That’s an interesting label. Until last Friday, we represented the same position held by the Church for centuries and U. S. law since our country’s founding. In two generations, we have moved from community pillars supporting moral standards to extremists threatening the newly established social order.
We have also been accused of being “on the wrong side of history.” Every society that has abandoned moral standards has declined precipitously or disappeared from history. It’s hard to believe our culture can be so arrogant as to ignore such a clear historical record – but we are, and we will pay the price for our hubris.
Right now, we are on the wrong side of the polling – but not the wrong side of history. Truth has not changed. Laws do not determine morality. Our responsibility to help people find fulfillment through obedience to God’s standards has not abated. We press on!
Racism is wrong. That’s as direct as I can be. But why? Those of us with a biblical worldview have a theological answer – the best source for a timeless answer. Every person is created in the image of God. Every person deserves respect – because they bear God’s image, not because of or in spite of any external image they bear.
The recent racially-motivated church shooting in South Carolina is deplorable. The response from the victims has been the polar opposite – a powerful example of grace beyond understanding. Their response is rooted in their profound commitment to respecting God’s image in another human being – even one who committed horrible crimes against them. Their witness of God’s love is humbling and inspiring.
Among the political commentary surrounding this issue was one observation so out-of-touch it shocked me it would come from a supposed expert on world events. He said, “It’s shocking something like this could still happen in the 21st century.” Friend – what world are you living in? Racism is pervasive in every culture, in every country, and on every continent. It is a primary source of civil war, economic oppression, human trafficking, and tribal conflict around the world. Failure to recognize that, particularly by a supposedly urbane news commentator, is amazing.
Why is racism so insidious? Again, a theological answer. Humans are sinful creatures, created in the image of God but broken by sin. We consistently live out our fallen nature – that’s one of the only absolutes in this world you can count on every time! While political solutions are helpful in managing the problem, real change comes when individuals acknowledge their sin, change their behavior, and make better choices.
Christians are responsible to lead in this area – both by personal example and through influencing public policy. Make sure you do both – overcome your prejudices and support public policy that recognizes the value of every person.
Gateway Seminary Closer to Reality
Jun 16 2015
The Southern Baptist Convention, meeting in Columbus, Ohio, approved our request for a name change to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday, June 17, 2015. Because this is a by-law change by the SBC, it requires an affirmative vote in two consecutive conventions. So, while the vote was overwhelmingly positive, it was not the final decision. That won’t come until June 2016.
In the meantime, we are now tasked with getting ready for the change. This is a monumental undertaking! We have to change everything from the business cards to the signage at all our campuses. We will also be developing an entirely new website – ready to launch as soon as the final vote is taken next summer. For now, we are still proudly Golden Gate Seminary – while at the same time getting ready to launch as Gateway Seminary in less than a year.
When an organization changes its name, it runs the risk of losing its identity. We are doing several things to keep that from happening. We are celebrating our history and carrying it forward in the form of artifacts, historical records, and public displays. We are keeping our tagline – biblical, missional, global – which summarizes our three foundational commitments. We will retain many of our employees – including our core faculty. We will also keep living out our commitment to multicultural and intercultural ministry.
These are exciting days to be at Golden Gate. If you were not able to hear my report to the SBC in Columbus, go online at www.sbc.net and listen to the archived version. God is at work through our school in dramatic and humbling ways. We have a front row seat to history being made!