Christians Might Be Crazy #4 – Equality

Christians Might Be Crazy #4 – Equality

– All right, this is gonna be fun. So what we’re doing, here’s the project, you ready? For some of you, you’re new, lemme catch you up. My big question was, what are the primary objections to and questions of the Christian faith? So, we commissioned a large research survey, got a bunch of people involved, more degrees than Fahrenheit, they put together a formal survey called 913,000 people. Not me, another group of people. They called 913,000 people, boiled it down to a sample size of 1000 people who were interviewed regarding their questions and objections regarding Christian faith. I address all of the top seven in the book, you can get a free copy on the way out. The number one issue was intolerance. The number six issue we’re hitting this week, equality, and this quote is from one of the focus groups. We did eight focus groups, male and female in four major US cities, groups came together with a facilitator and they just had a free flowing conversation for about two hours. This is one of their quotes in the transcripts, “Christians believe that all people are not created equal”. That’s the objection to Christian belief. And as I read the focus group transcripts, 400 plus pages, they use words like repressive and unprogressive. This reminds me when you’re a kid at the playground, right? You’re like, “You’re mean, you’re stupid.” “You’re unprogressive.” It’s just name calling, big name calling. And here’s what some of the people in the focus group said, one of the males said, “Since its very conception, “people have never been equal in Christianity, “it’s never been about equality. “You don’t belong to my community “therefore you are lesser than I am.” Another Austin male says, quote, “The Christian Church “has consistently been on the wrong side of history “in things like civil rights,” big statement. In additional, I’ll quote Elton John because we can and it’s fun. Okay, here’s what Sir Elton John says, “I would ban religion completely”. I would ban sequence, he would ban religion. “I would ban religion completely.” He says, “I love the teachings of Jesus Christ “and the beautiful stories which I loved in Sunday school “and I collected all the little stickers “and put them in my book, “but organized religion doesn’t seem to work, “it turns people into hateful lemmings “and it’s not really compassionate.” So welcome to our hateful lemmings recovery group. We’re gonna talk today about equality, amen? And this is gonna be fun, and I want you to have some fun with me, okay? ‘Cause this is all I’m gonna be doing for the next few hours. Okay, so, that being said, lemme start with this preface and premise, to be for Jesus is to be against whatever is against Jesus. If you’re gonna be for something, you need to be against things that are against whatever you’re for. This is God’s word and this is God’s word to leaders and this is God’s word to me, “He must hold firmly.” And so what we like to say is that there are open handed issues and there are closed handed issues. Open handed issues are secondary matters that Bible believing Jesus loving Christians can dialogue, debate, discuss, but need not divide over. There are what I will call closed handed primary issues that all Christians throughout history across the nations of the earth agree these are important. This would be like the Bible is God’s word, people are sinners, Jesus is God who lived without sin, who died for our sin, who rose as our Savior, and He is the only one that has the authority to forgive sin. What he’s talking about here is, gotta figure out what goes in the closed hand and you gotta hold to it firmly. Can’t let go of this, this is unchanging. And it is something that he says is a trustworthy message and to keep the message of Christianity consistently as it has been taught. And so, the message of Christianity is like math, math does not change, amen? What’s two plus two? Not a trick question.

– [Man] Four.

– Good job. Okay, yesterday was four, tomorrow it will be four, math does not change. The message of Jesus does not change. It does not change. It’s a trustworthy message that we have received and we don’t wanna be God’s editors, we wanna be God’s messengers, we wanna take that truth, believe it, communicate it as it has been taught so that he can encourage others. And so what I wanna do today, I wanna encourage you. And to encourage you literally means to put courage in you, that Jesus is amazing and that everybody needs Jesus and everything needs Jesus and everything is better with Jesus and nothing is better without Jesus, amen?

– [Congregation] Amen.

– I wanna put that courage in you, by sound doctrine. Doctrine is the Bible’s word for the big ideas and the concepts and the categories. And this was originally written in the language of Greek and that little word, sound, it means healthy, flourishing, right? We wanna be healthy, you wanna be physically healthy, emotionally healthy, relationally healthy, spiritually healthy. You wanna be healthy so that your life can flourish, so that your legacy can flourish. For that to happen, you need sound doctrine. You need to think biblically so you can live in a way that is a blessing to others in relationship to God. And not only teach sound doctrine, but refute those who oppose it. Take those objections to that which is sound and to refute those things. So my goal today is twofold, I’ll spend a lot of time refuting and also a lot of time encouraging, amen? Around this issue regarding this matter of equality. So what I wanna do is before we delve into what the word of God says, let’s survey the options, let’s look at what the options are for life, humanity, human flourishing. I’ll give you a few. Number one, many religions believe in something called karma. Are you familiar with this? Karma is very prevalent and popular in many Eastern religions. One example would be Hinduism. I’ve been to India. I’ve seen the result firsthand of this belief in karma. And the belief in karma is this, that you and I live our life and we have certain failures. And there’s an account out there. And that account is keeping record of all of our failures. Well, to pay off that debt, that account to karma, we need to reincarnate oftentimes as a lower life form and we need to suffer and through suffering, we pay off our debt to karma. What this leads to is something called the caste system in India. There are certain people that are literally at the top of the food chart. At the bottom are groups of people that are called the untouchables. In addition, this eradicates any concept of charity, social justice, humanity, mercy or compassion. Why? Because if you did something bad and you’re paying it back, if I help you and alleviate your suffering, I am ruining your repayment of your karmic debt. Therefore, people suffer and no one serves them. Because to serve them would be to harm them. That’s the thinking of karma and that creates the caste system. There is no equality in that. How about Islam? Does Islam give people a vision of human equality? No. In Islam, strict fundamental Islam, there is something called Sharia law, that is that there is no separation or distinction between church and state. So it is the Quran, the prophet, and the interpretation of the scholars that rules over all of society. Christianity is a religion of proposition like marriage. Islam is the religion of imposition, not proposition. You are to give yourself to Allah and the state, and if not, you will be punished, there are consequences. As a result, in strict Islamic countries… And I have been in many. I have spent time in Turkey. I’ve spent time in many of these countries. Here’s what I observed. Number one, I’ll ask it in the form of a question, are women and men treated equally under the law? No. And those who do not practice Islam are not given the same legal status or treatment. I interviewed a scholar for the book project and he rightly said that on certain occasions, they will actually refer to Christians and Jews as monkeys and pigs. Subhuman, not equal. Subhuman, not equal. What about atheism? Fast growing, very popular, sort of faddish and fashionable. Does atheism provide an ideology by which people can understand equality? No. Furthermore, if I come from no one, I am here for no reason and I give an account to no one, then why should I treat you in any way that has mercy, compassion, or love? If all that I am is the product of random chance and I don’t have a soul and you don’t have a soul and God doesn’t judge me for how I treat you, then you should sleep with one eye open, amen? ‘Cause I’m gonna do some nefarious things to you. Now, what has happened in the last century, 170 million people have been killed at the hands of other people through such things as war. 130 million of those 170 deaths came at the hands of atheism that was enforced by the sword through the state. Stalin killed 40 million, Hitler killed 6 million Jews, plus nine, 10 million more, many of them Christians. In addition, Mao killed 70 million Chinese. And that does not even include the more than 1 billion abortions. What I am saying is that there are people who have professed Christian faith and done acts of violence but those are against the teachings and example of Christ. Nonetheless, history records that if you believe in human life, dignity, value and flourishing, atheism is the greatest enemy that you could potentially have because it does not value human life. Number four, let us consider evolutionary theory. I could see it right now, some of you are like, “I thought I graduated, oh, this is so much.” This is what they should have told you in high school, okay? We’re gonna cover a lot. At some point, it’s gonna feel like you drank a big Slurpee and you got a brain freeze, okay? This is just gonna happen. So at any point, just rub your temples, take a deep breath, and come back up, it’s only gonna be a few hours, we’ll get there my friend, okay? Hang in there. So let’s consider evolution. Before we look at Christianity, let’s look at those opposing claims for human flourishing. Who is the great godfather, the seminal thinker and writer regarding evolutionary theory? Charles Darwin. What was the name of his seminal work? “The Origin of Species,” that’s what you were told. That’s not all that was said. Here is the actual title, “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection “or the Preservation of Favored Races “in the Struggle for Life.” Lemme read that last part again, “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. Darwin said, and I quote, “At some future period, “not very distant as measured by centuries, “the civilized races of man “will almost certainly exterminate “and replace the savage races throughout the world.” Evolutionary theory teaches that we were animals and we have evolved, but there’s a continuum, and that some of us are more evolved than others. As a result, some of our races should be favored. This led to something tragically in American history called the Three-fifths Compromise, it stood legally from 1787 to 1865. And it said that those who are non white, particularly black, counted as 3/5 human, 60%. What that means is there are animals and there are white people and some people are on the continuum, 60% human, 40% animal. When I was debating Deepak Chopra on ABC Nightline, he said that myself and those who think like me are “primitive”. That’s what he was getting at. That means I have a slow forehead and I drag my knuckles on the way into church. I’m somewhere back on the evolutionary chart. This does not lead to human flourishing. Lemme just summarize this. Karma says you’re not equal. Islam says only people like us are equal. Evolution says the strongest, the might makes right, the survival of the fittest, those people are superior. Even within atheism, there is an attempt to withhold or rather to hold a vestige of some sort of decency. But these ideologies, these philosophies, they do not provide any basis for human dignity. I’ll quote to you one atheistic philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, he’s well known for his statement that God is dead. He came up with the concept of the superman which was in large part the vision of Nazi Germany. He says this, and I quote, “In the will to power, another Christian concept “has passed even more deeply into the tissue of modernity, “the concept of the equality of souls before God”. Nietzsche says there is no other ideology that provides an understanding of equality. Nietzsche lost his mind at the end of his life, he went crazy. And his Christian mother loved him and cared for him and tended to him. More recently, I think he died in 2007, there was a philosopher named Richard Rorty. He’s one of the most famous atheists of more present years. He was one of the fathers and founders of something called postmodernism. And he says, and I quote, “The idea of universal human rights “was a completely novel concept in history, “resting on the biblical teaching, “that all human beings are created in the image of God.” Atheism says, “We really have no right to value life.” Rorty says, “Well, Christianity has that value. “So we’ll reject Christianity, “but we wanna keep that value.” So Rorty calls himself and I quote, “A freeloading atheist.” Something in us, if we are honest, says, “I like the idea of dominating and destroying you, “but I am fearful that you will do the same to me.” So at some point, because God made us with a conscience, we want to appeal to right and wrong, some standard apart from force. But I am telling you that apart from the message of Christianity, and the teaching of the Scriptures, there is no basis. Karma, Islam, atheism, and evolution do not provide an opportunity for dignity of human life, and equality among races and nations. Now, let me pick this up. Working from some of the presuppositions of atheism, some of the presuppositions of Darwinism, historically, there was a philosopher named Thomas Malthus. He created something that is codified, his Malthusian eugenics. What he determined was, that not only are certain races more fit, that also there is a scarcity of resources. This is the myth of overpopulation. This has become something that is debunked in recent years, but for a lengthy period of time, the prevailing ideology that was incorrect was, there’s a scarcity of resources on planet Earth. As more human beings, are born into the world, we’re going to overpopulate the world. We will exterminate the human race by consuming all the resources. How many of you’ve heard something like that? I believe that for a season. I’ll never forget. I know this will shock you. I was an odd kid. You didn’t see that coming. I was an odd kid. I like sports, baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and an Xbox a little bit in college and also liked the arts, I would sketch and draw and interior design architecture. And I really was curious trying to figure out how ideas lead to consequences and actions. So I remember as a pretty young boy, I’d get on my bike, and I biked miles repeatedly to the library. And I would check out magazines, looking at nations, cultures, things like National Geographic. I grew up under the flight path next to an airport. And we were poor so we never got to go on an airplane. I always wondered, “I wonder where they’re going. “I wonder what the people are like there. “I wonder how they live.” So I started studying, and I’d go to the library, and I’d study and I’d study, and I’d study. and I’d check out books, and I would read them. And somewhere in my studies, I came across the myth of overpopulation. And I thought, “Oh, no, humanity is gonna die.” And then I started looking at evolutionary theory, some people are more fit than others. Well, it only makes sense that the better people would get the lion’s share of the resources. And then we should have less of the less fit people and more of the more fit people. We should have sterilization, force population controls, abortion and birth control. And of course, I thought I was higher up the evolutionary chart. Isn’t it always weird how it works that way? Oh, there are more evolved people. How about me? In high school, I was arguing for force population controls, mandatory abortion, some of the things that happened in China today. Atheistic, Darwinistic, all of that. I’ll never forget I was in a high school class, and I was debating a Christian who is arguing a pro life position that were made an image the likes of God, and that people have dignity value and worth and I eviscerated them. Destroyed them. I left them in tears. I was wrong, but I was strong. I went to college. I was in a class there was four or 500 students. A Marxist Professor wanted to have a debate on this issue, overpopulation, human dignity, forced sterilization, less fit races. I raised my hand, “Put me in coach.” They put me up against this really nice Christian kid. And if you’re watching, I apologize for what I did you. I eviscerated, I melted that kid to the ground. That Christian ran out of the classroom in tears. I understand this thinking. Lemme just tell you this, ideas have consequences. What you think informs how you live and how others live. What happened with Thomas Malthus is, Nazi Germany was the result of his ideology. A bit of atheism, a bit of evolutionary theory, overpopulation myth, that led to Nazi Germany. Before all of Nazi Germany was taken down with World War, someone brought that thinking, that ideology to America. Her name was Margaret Sanger. She funded and founded an organization you may have heard of called Planned Parenthood. Rather than killing less fit races in a concentration camp, she thought it would be less controversial to do it in a clinic. She was a fan of Robert Malthus. In 1933, in her magazine birth control review, she published an article called and I quote, “Eugenic sterilization and urgent need. “It was penned by Ernst Rutan, “Hitler’s director of genetic sterilization, “and founder of the Nazi society for racial hygiene. Later that same year, she also published another article by E.A. Whitney called selective sterilization, and praised and defended Nazi racial programs. The reason that she put her clinics in poor neighborhoods with racial minorities, is because she felt that they were less fit, therefore less deserving of life. This continues to this day. 55% of abortions are to black and Hispanic women. And black and Hispanic people only comprise 29% of the population. Poor people, single mothers, less fit races, they do not have the same dignity, value, and worth. She says, and I quote, “Birth control appeals to the advanced radicals “because it is calculated “to undermine the authority of the Christian churches. “I look forward to seeing humanity free someday “of the tyranny of Christianity, no less than capitalism.” There is an agenda. It is driven by an ideology. If you care about humanity, if you care about human flourishing, if you care about human suffering, if you care about human dignity, if you care about justice, then you should read the Bible. Because apart from the Word of God, there is no love, justice, mercy, or equality for the world. For me, I thought completely along these lines, until God saved me in college and I started reading the Word of God. And God started changing my mind on literally everything. So what I wanna share with you my friend, and I now wanna transition to the Bible, we have refuted the alternatives. Let us redirect our attention to the hope. The Bible is the basis for equality. And in the first chapter of the Bible, God created man. You’re not evolved. You’re not here from no one, you’re here from someone. You’re not here for nothing, you’re here for something. You’re not gonna die and cease to exist. You will die and stand before God. Your genesis determines your revelation. Your beginning determines your ending. You were made by God. I don’t care if you’re rich, poor, black, white, young, old, I don’t care, you’re made in the image and likeness of God. He knows you. He values you. He loves you. He gives dignity to you.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– He just does. He just does. “God created man in his own image.” That is a particular bestowing of dignity and value and worth that does not exist for any other created being. “In the image of God He created him, “male and female, he created them.” That’s also very unpopular today. Because the world in its wisdom does not know God. God made you male and female. So lemme tell you this, men and women are not superior one to the other. Chauvinism says that men are superior, feminism says that women are superior, God says, you’re equally baring my image and likeness, equally created by me, equally loved by me, equally sinful and fallen before me, equally in needing of my Son, Jesus Christ. And God what? Blessed them. I love that. God starts with blessing because God wants to see human flourishing. And God said to them, what? “Make babies, “be fruitful, “multiply, fill the earth,” That’s lots of kids, amen?

– [Congregation] Amen.

– Lots of kids. And subdue it, “Have dominion over the fish in the sea, “the birds of the heaven, “over every living thing that moves on the earth.” There is God, there are animals. You are not a God, you are not an animal. You are an image bearer of God, created by God to rule over the animals. It’s very crucial that we understand our place. Otherwise, we think we’re God or we think we’re animals. We’re neither. We’re image bearers of God that have dominion over animals. And in this is something called the cultural mandate, that God created us, blessed us to multiply, to fill the earth, so that culture and human flourishing would go forth with the people that God made in His image and likeness. That’s why cultures come with value laden judgments about God and people and human life. Lemme tell you this, you will not hear this in atheism. You will not hear this in Islam. You will not hear this in Darwinian evolution. You will not hear this in karmic religion. This is exclusively the domain of God and the Word of God. This is where even as I quoted, the atheist will say, “That is a Christian concept. “And if we want it, we need to steal it, “because it is not inherent within our belief system.” Lemme just read to you a little bit of what God’s word says, Leviticus 19:15, “Do not show partiality to the poor, “or favoritism to the great.” In that day, if you were rich, you ruled, and if you were poor, you were persecuted. And God says, “Not among my people. “I don’t care if you’re rich, you’re poor. “You’re equal because I made you and I love yah. “And rich people don’t get away with things “that poor people don’t get away with.” Proverbs 28:21, “Showing partiality is never good.” What about in the church? Because in the culture, there are always us versus them. Colossians 3:11, “Here,” in the church, “There is not Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, “barbarian, Scythian, slavery, “but Christ is all, in it all.” These were the groups, “Were better than them.” “No, no, we’re better than you.” And God says, “You’re now a new people. “You’re a new humanity. “You’re a new third way. “You’re a family. “You’re the children of God.” Whatever was your primary distinction is no longer the definition of who you are. You belong to Christ, your Christ people, your brothers and sisters. James 2:1 Jesus brother says, “My brothers…” He’s writing to the church. It’s comprised of Jews and Gentiles and slaves and free various cultural groupings. And that concept of brothers, it was potentially illegal to call someone a brother or a sister who was not a biological relative, because it could confuse the inheritance rights. But once God is your father, you are adopted into the family, Jesus is your big brother, Your sins are forgiven. Your brothers and sisters, your family, amen?

– [Congregation] Amen

– It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white or young or old or rich or poor, or sick or healthy, you’re family. “My brothers show no partiality as you hold to the faith “of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” The Lord of Glory. My point is this, anyone who would say, “I don’t believe in Jesus, but I believe in equality,” has no basis for their conviction. Anyone who says, “I reject the Bible,” and that takes all the values of the Bible, is stealing. So lemme share with you the words of Jesus. And that is that Christ and Christianity bring life. How many of you this is your experience? You really started living when you met Jesus. Okay? And you started pouring life into other people after Jesus poured life into you. The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Who’s the thief? It’s Satan, its demons. The Bible tells us that there is a personal force at work in the world, to do harm and evil to God’s image bearers. That God has an enemy and he is also an enemy, and an adversary to God’s image bearers. Our war, the Bible says is not just against flesh and blood, but powers, principalities, and spirits. I’m telling you, the demons teaching colleges, the demon set up religions, the demons and force ideologies, the demons get involved in political campaigns, the demons raise money. And you know that they’re work when you see these things, stealing, killing, and destroying. It’s demonic. It’s evil. Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” God wants you to flourish emotionally and physically and spiritually and relationally. God wants your family to flourish. God wants our community to flourish. God wants our nation to flourish. God wants the nations to flourish. Jesus comes to give abundant life, to give full life. And I wanna go from the statements of Jesus, the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus, the launching of Christianity. I wanna look historically. Has Jesus made a difference? Lemme look at this categorically with you. This is gonna get a little complicated, hang in there. Well, firstly, thanks to the Bible, we have law. In antiquity as well as places around the world globally, there isn’t a law to appeal to you. You say, “You broke the law,” ’cause there is no law. Instead it’s my makes right and the golden rule is, he with the golden rule? Christianity is based on a concept of law. The first five books of the Bible are called the books of the law. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. They contain there in 613 laws. God governs by law. What that means is, it doesn’t matter what your race is, it doesn’t matter what your age is, it doesn’t matter what your intellect is, it doesn’t matter what your gender is, it doesn’t matter what your income is, everybody’s under the same law and that brings justice. What happened as Christianity spread, particularly in the early Roman Empire, which was the largest empire in the known world in its day, an emperor named Constantine legalized Christianity, and his Christianity spread they appointed bishops throughout the Roman Empire. They needed to have a place to adjudicate legal conflict. And so they chose the Christian bishops, to basically run the local courts, because it was the Christians who understood the rule of law and justice under the law. Later on, the Christian Emperor Justinian established the legal basis for the Roman empire that became the foundation for the American Declaration of Independence, and the European Charter of Human Rights. What about race and slavery? Well, as I showed you, if you only believe in evolutionary theory, there are people that are more like animals than others. But if you read the Bible, and you trace the family history of every single person back, who are our first parents? Adam and Eve. That means we’re all one big, dysfunctional family. That’s what we are. That means that whatever your nation or your race or your class, you’re ultimately one human family descended from one man and one woman. Furthermore, Jesus comes as the fulfillment of the Abrahamic blessing to be a blessing to the nations of the earth. Jesus was Jewish. The most despised people group that the Jews held in contempt, were the Samaritans. And Jesus went to Samaria. And he befriended a Samaritan woman. And a revival broke out, because Jesus loves Samaritans. And the moral of the story is, we’re all Samaritans. Furthermore, if you believe that some people are more evolved than others, you can arrive at this conclusion of slavery. And in the ancient world, there were many slaves. In our history, there was slavery. And that means that you’re not a free person made by God under the law, that your property. That your master can abuse you and mistreat you or even kill you. Anything you own belongs to your master. Furthermore, if you have a child, that child is not free and not yours, they are just additional part of the portfolio of the entire estate of the master. For them, it was like we have a cow and another cow and they have a baby cow. That’s all that it is. It’s just ownership, it’s not humanity. Jesus comes along says that he’s a servant or a slave. Paul, other New Testament writers, says that they are slaves of God. This might shock you, but early Christianity was very popular with the slaves. You know why? Because out in the culture, they were used and abused, but in the church, they were regarded according to character. Not according to skin color, or ethnicity or heritage. So many slaves and women became Christians and became leaders in the church, that if you read the New Testament you may wonder, “Why does it keep talking about slaves?” Because many of them were Christian leaders and pastors. So in the culture, you’re a slave, but you meet Jesus, you go into the church, and now the slave becomes the pastor of the master. So the New Testament is addressing these kinds of complicated issues. Furthermore, some of the first advocates for the abolition of slavery were Christians. One was a man named St. Patrick, you heard him? Please don’t drink green beer to honor him. That’s not what he was about. Okay? He was a slave who loved Jesus. Once he got freed, he felt God called him back to be a missionary to the people who enslaved him. He worked for the abolition of slavery. Rodney Stark historian says, “This slavery in medieval Europe ended, “only because the church extended its sacraments “to all slaves, and then managed to impose a ban “on the enslavement of Christians and Jews.” Historically, it is Christians who have fought for equality of races and abolition of slavery. William Wilberforce was a strong advocate against slavery. Furthermore, I interviewed Dr. Wayne Grudem, a scholar, and for this project, he said that two thirds of the American abolitionists were Christians motivated by biblical conviction. Rosa Parks, Christian. Jackie Robinson, Christian. Martin Luther King Jr., Christian. And let me say this, and this is good news, the most diverse movement of any sort or kind in the history of the world is the Church of Jesus Christ. That Jesus is worshiped in more nations, more languages, more tribes, more tongues, more kinds of people, historically and globally, than any movement, political, religious, moral or social in the history of the world. If you’re into diversity, you need to get to know Jesus, because the nations have met him, the nations worship Him, the nations belong to Him. And the great grand glorious vision of Revelation is that in the kingdom will be people from every tribe and tongue and nation and language. And as God’s people we cannot allow our preferences to become our prejudices. That ultimately there’s nothing as diverse as the Church of Jesus Christ. What about children in the ancient world, children were not highly regarded. They would be left out with the trash, especially if they were sick or infirmed, or had some sort of medical or health complication. In many cultures in that day, as well as nations like China in our day, the boys were favored over the girls. The boys can work on the farm, the boys can take care of you when you’re old. So the girls would be put out with the trash. Children would be literally taken as slaves, gladiators, and prostitutes. Children were not highly regarded in Jesus’ day. Jesus dignified the unborn by entering the world through the womb of his mother, Mary. Jesus dignified childhood by being a child. And kids love Jesus, amen? Right, some of the greatest pictures in the whole Bible, Jesus is teaching all the kids, run to hang out with him ’cause he’s awesome. And he loves kids. And the religious people say, “Get rid of these kids.” And Jesus says, “No, the kingdom of heaven was made for such as these.” We overcomplicated sometimes. We tell this little song to the kids. Jesus loves the little children. Which children? All the children of the world. Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. That’s true. Sometimes we overcomplicate it. But Jesus dignifies childhood and children and life. And it was because the body Bible says that God is our father, Jesus is our big brother, and that salvation is being adopted into the family of God. What do you think the first Christian started doing? Adopting all the throwaway kids. Adopting all the throwaway kids. We’re still doing today, amen? Foster care, adoption. What about education? Some of you say, “I went to college.” Well, thank Jesus that there was a school, amen? Didymus the Blind invented Braille in the fourth century. God’s people have always been about educating people, and translating the Bible into the known language of the people so that people could read the Word of God for themselves. In the ancient world, education was only for the rich, not for the poor. In fact, if you’re poor, I don’t want you to be educated. You might start thinking about laws or defending yourself or organizing. That doesn’t benefit me. So if I own land, and I can vote and I’m educated, I don’t want you to own land, I don’t want you to learn how to read and write, ’cause I don’t want you to vote, because I own you, and that benefits me. Yet it was Christians starting in 797, they were sent out to open schools. And the parents were told, “Pay whatever you can, and if you can’t pay, “the church will pay,” and that is the beginning of free education. In addition, the printing press was created invented by the Christian Johannes Gutenberg, so that the Bible and Bible teaching could go forth. We would not have written books and languages were it not for the Christians. Furthermore, Christians have done more for language creation and translation than anyone. We want everybody to hear about Jesus. So it is the Christians that are learning the languages of other cultures, and taking the cultures that only have a spoken, not a written language, and creating written languages. So that then the Word of God can be translated, so that the people can hear from God for themselves. Literacy and education is spread wherever Christianity has spread. Furthermore, it was the reformer John Calvin, who opened one of the first free schools of higher education, it became a university and the beginning of higher education. This might shock you, but Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, we’re all started by Christians. Public education in America was almost exclusively Christian up until very recent years. Furthermore, almost all of the first 123 universities in America were Christian at their founding. That would include Harvard, Yale, William & Mary, Brown, Princeton, NYU, and Northwestern. Christianity is about education. Christianity is about literacy. Christianity is about the academy. In addition, what about economics? Well, we have something called private property rights, because the Bible says, “Thou shalt not steal.” In some countries, the land all belongs to the government. In other places, it is the most ruling and reigning royal family that owns all the land. Well, in the Bible, it has private property rights, and you’re not allowed to steal. That sets in motion the possibility of economic opportunity for all. What about justice and mercy for the people who are suffering and hurting and sick? In the ancient world, in the days of Jesus, any medical care was only available to the rich who could afford it. The poor didn’t have any sort of care system. But Jesus is the great physician. Jesus healed people physically. The primary author of The New Testament is a medical doctor named Luke. So what happens is, Christians start doing medical care. 325 AD, Christians met at something called the Council of Nicaea. From it, we get something called the Nicene Creed, and they decreed that we’re churches are planted, hospitals should be open, because God loves all people, and he cares for them body and soul. Therefore, the church will heal their soul by telling them about Jesus and the hospital will minister to their body because God loves them. So today, how many of you have noticed, many of the hospitals are Baptist, Presbyterian or Catholic? And have you seen the Red Cross? Little hint, the cross is about Jesus and it was founded by a Christian. Here’s what I’m saying, atheism doesn’t lead to this human flourishing. Karma doesn’t lead to this human flourishing. Evolution doesn’t lead to this human flourishing. What about the poor? Does Jesus care about the poor? Yes, he was poor. God bestows honor on the poor because the Bible says, “Though he was rich, for our sake he became poor.” See, in that day, the rich ruled over the poor. In our day, the rich can still rule over the poor, but Jesus was poor. It was the Christian Bishop, Basil the Great, he opened some of the first soup kitchens, homeless shelters, care facilities, for the poor. Food banks, that came out of a conviction that God wants us to minister to the body and the soul. Jesus fed people, he healed them, and he saved them, he ministered to the whole person. How many of you didn’t know a lot of this? How many of you were told, like I was told when I first went to college that, the worst thing that’s ever happened to planet earth is the Christian faith? There were shots taken at Christianity in my anthropology class, my sociology class, my psychology class, my history class, my world religions class, my philosophy class. I’ll tell you this, survey the evidence. I’ll just tell you my conclusion, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– This world has a lot of problems and it needs some power. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God. I am not ashamed of who Jesus is. I am not ashamed of what Jesus says. I am not ashamed of what Jesus does. Everyone needs Jesus. Everything needs Jesus. No one is better without Jesus, and nothing is better without Jesus. In the focus groups, two major issues came up. I’ll deal with them for the sake of honesty and integrity. The first is, the Christianity is oppressive toward women. I’ll read some of the quotes. A woman in Austin says, “I think that the overbearing patriarchy of the Bible “has inadvertently put women in the position “that they’re not much respected, “and that they don’t have much equality.” Another woman in Austin says, “Men are always supposed to be above women. “Women can’t be above a man. “It’s basically almost this thing that worships men.” Lemme deal with this. Firstly, if you’ve traveled the world, you will see that where there is less Christianity there is not more equality. In India, for example, it was said that the wife had no reason to live apart from her husband. So when her husband would die, there was a practice it’s called Suttee. And that is the when the husband died, the wife would burn herself alive because she had no use and living without a husband. Now in the ancient world, as I said, infanticide was common. Do you think it was primarily boys or girls that were set aside? It was girls, as it is in China today. It was William Carey, Amy Carmichael, Christian missionaries who fought against infanticide of girls, sex trafficking, prostitution for girls. Jesus did some controversial things. He included women in his leadership. He taught women. He had a very dear friendship with two sisters, Mary and Martha. That was very unusual. He sat down to disciple and to invest in women like the Samaritan woman, which was radically controversial. The first people to arrive at Jesus empty tomb were women. And this may shock you, early Christianity was flooded by women. You know why? Because the Bible gave them more dignity, value, worth and honor than the culture. That being said, today, 60% of church goers are female. There’s between 11 and 13 million more women than men in church because women love Jesus. And I would say if we believe in tolerance, diversity of choice, let the ladies make up their own mind and worship Jesus, amen?

– [Man] Amen.

– In addition, there can be confusion, I understand this, regarding roles of men and women. Now lemme say this, deposited in the form of a question. Does the Bible say that men are over women? No. No. Does the Bible say that women should do whatever men tell them? No. I have two daughters. Here’s what I will never say, “Just do what men tell you.” Right? Write that down, sweetheart. Okay, write that down right? The Bible doesn’t talk about men and women, it talks about husbands and wives. And what it’s trying to set up is a loving, harmonious, intact family system which we could use in this culture. And the Bible establishes what I will call singular headship and plural leadership. In the home, the husband and the wife are leaders. They’re both leaders. That’s why the Bible tells the children to Honor your father and mother. ‘Cause they’re co leaders. They’re both leaders. The Bible believes in leadership and equality. Our culture struggles with this. Our culture doesn’t understand this, because our culture only understands rebellion. Now, it does say in the Bible, that the marriage relationship is something called a covenant. That’s very unique, non-Christians don’t understand it. It’s the kind of relationship that we have with God. In any covenant, and a Christian family is a covenant family, the head is not the boss, not the dominator, not the dictator. They are the servant who is firstly responsible in the sight of God to bless and benefit those who are in the covenant. So, if you read the Bible, when it comes to marriage and parenting, it says a little bit to the wives and mothers, it says more to the husbands and fathers. I’ll just tell you this, if anybody was to be upset with what the Bible said, you think it’d be the men? Because it tells us crazy stuff like, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. Really? That’s a lot. That’s a lot. That feels like I’m gonna serve. Oh, no. And it goes on to say, that Christ lay down his life, to bless His Bride, the church. What this means is that when a wife looks at her husband, she should say, “He’s starting to remind me a little bit of Jesus. “Because he treats me the way Jesus treats me.” And the kids should say, “When I look at my dad, “it reminds me a little bit of Jesus, “because the way he loves, protects, “and provides for our family is a little bit like Jesus.” Okay? I can understand why outside of the church, this could be misunderstood. But what God is doing is he is saying that the men are oftentimes the ones who make babies and don’t raise those babies. That the men are oftentimes the ones who use their physical force to dominate, use, and abuse women and children. That ultimately, many of the social problems and ales are to be laid at the feet of the men. And those men need to bow before the feet of Jesus and become new men. That’s the big idea of the Bible. It is changing men for the blessing and benefit of women and children. That’s the big idea. The men are not as enthusiastic as I was anticipating.

– [Man] Amen. Amen. And when it comes to issues of church leadership, there’s a whole continuum of thought. I don’t wanna debate it here. It’s a secondary issue. The primary issue is that everyone is made in the image and likeness of God, and you can find a church that fits your convictions. Number two, the other issue that comes up, what do you think it was? On this issue of equality. Same sex marriage. I have nothing else to do, so we’ll talk about this.

– Now, give you a story, it’s in the book. There was a friend of ours they had a kid, I think they were in like elementary or middle school, in public school, supposed to be getting an education, but to me it was more of an indoctrination, on marriage and gender in the spectrum and the whole thing. Got in the car, I think it his mom driving. Driving the kid home from school. There’s a big bumper sticker that says, “I promote marriage equality.” The child asked the Christian mother, “How come we don’t believe in equality?” So lemme just say that this is a controversial cultural issue, amen? I know I didn’t shock you with that one, you probably saw this coming. Now, let me say this, that Christians and non Christians come from completely different places, not just on this issue, but every issue. The Bible does teach that God made us male and female, and that God made marriage for one man and one woman. Now, this has been the definition of marriage for thousands of years. We are now in the process of redefining marriage or arguing over what the definition of marriage is. The third point I’d like to make is this. We’re not arguing if there is a line, we’re arguing where the best place to draw the line is. I was arguing with a friend of mine, non Christian, they said, “You just need to lighten up “on gender and marriage.” I said, “Well, what is your definition of marriage?” I said, “‘Cause I’ve got one from the Bible “that we’ve been using for a few 1000 years. “What do you got?” He said, “Marriage should be between two consenting adults.” I said, “Why two? “There are other people that wanna redraw the line. “Three, four. “Two is a good start. “Polygamy will be an issue in our lifetime. “I promise you that. “Why two?” He’s like, “I don’t know.” “At least I got a verse, you gotta a I don’t know.” And I said, “Why adults? “Historically, 11 year old girls “have been married to 51 year old guys.” He’s like, “That’s wrong.” I said, “I know. Again, I got a verse so I’m asking, “what do you got?” “Well just wrong?” “Oh, sounds like God made you with a conscience. “All of a sudden you found it. “That’s amazing.” “It’s ’cause you have an 11 year old daughter, “now you have a nervous eye twitch into conscience, “you are like, ‘Oh, no it’s wrong'” So I ask him, “Does he just do this every week?” “That’s why we come.” So I asked him, I said, “So adults?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “What age is an adult?” He said?

– [Man] “I don’t know.”

– “I don’t know.” Okay. Rock Paper, scissors, I don’t know. I don’t know never wins, okay? So people would say 16. Some would say 18. Some would say 21. We’re not arguing, is there a line? we’re arguing, where’s the best place to draw the line? Amen? That’s all we’re arguing about. So you can argue for your position, I’ll argue for my position. I’ll give you my verse. You give me your, “I don’t know,” and we’ll just roll with that. Okay? So let me tell you what happened in the conversations in the focus groups. Lemme just say this, what I’m about to say is controversial. I do have friends that disagree with me. Pray for them. Literally this friend of mine, this was some years ago he said, “You need to approve of my relationship.” I said, “Look, I love you. “But if your well being is contingent on my approval, “your convictions are weak.” I said, “Cause you don’t approve of me “and it doesn’t bother me.” Let you in on a little secret. My guilt is broken, okay? I don’t wake up every day look in the mirror and say, “I hope he likes me today.” I wake up every day and say, “I like him. He likes me.” I am not living for approval ratings. Right? At the end, I’m gonna stand before one guy, and he’s gonna be the umpire.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– And in the meantime, nobody gets to wear a striped shirt and blow a whistle in my life. Now that being said, in the focus groups, it was interesting how the conversation regarding equality and life turned. It came to the issue of abortion. Here are some guys at Mels in San Francisco. They’re just having a question, total strangers focus group. He paused this question, “What should I do “if I know my kid is going to have Down syndrome?” “Do I abort them and wait for the next one?” Here’s the responses from the men, total strangers in the focus group. “There’s too many kids being born that shouldn’t be born.” Where do we draw that line? These kids should live, these kids should die? What are we? God? Another says, “Maybe society is better off with abortion.” He can say that because he made it. “Maybe people’s individual rights “aren’t particularly invaded upon with abortion.” Another says, “If abortion wasn’t legal, “then you’d have all these people “that shouldn’t be having kids having kids.” Which people do you think they were talking about? Poor people. single mothers, like Jesus’ mother, Mary. I worship a guy who was born to an unmarried peasant girl. I’m glad He was born.

– [Congregation] Amen.

– And He didn’t come to kill us, He came to die for us. If Mary was alive today, imagine what the school counselor would tell her. “Sweetheart, you’re maybe 14 and poor and not married.” These kinds of kids shouldn’t be brought into the world. Kids like Jesus. Down syndrome? Down syndrome. We’re not arguing, is there a line? We’re arguing, who has the right to draw the line? And where’s the line drawn? And lemme tell you this, the world has lost its mind. The world in its wisdom does not know God. Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world. be transformed by the renewing of your mind. I started thinking exactly this way. And now I’m teaching the Bible and my five kids are taking notes, right? And I like all of them. Right? Because the Bible is not just to go to heaven when you die, but to change long before you get there. And the Bible is not just for your soul, it’s for your life and your family and your legacy. It’s for the flourishing of humanity. It’s the treating of others with love and dignity and equality. I’ll close with this, maybe. There’s a great verse in the Old Testament, Isaiah 28:16, “The Lord God said, ‘Look, I have laid a stone “‘in Zion, a tested stone a precious Cornerstone.'” In the ancient world when you start to construct any type of building, you would start with a cornerstone. You had to get that set right. That’s gonna carry all the weight. It’s gonna set the plumb line. Everything is gonna rise or fall with the security of the cornerstone. How many of you have been to an old building and the cornerstone has an engraving on it, a marking? It’s tributed to someone. It’s got a date on it. What God is saying is, “I lay the cornerstone.” Any Cornerstone that you lay is doomed and destined to fail, and that life is destined to fall. Atheism, karma, evolution, arrogance, philosophy. It’s not a good cornerstone. Those are cornerstones laid by faulty, flawed, frail, men and women.

– [Man] Amen.

– God laid a cornerstone. His name is Jesus Christ.

– [Man] Amen.

– “A precious Cornerstone a sure foundation, “the one who believes will be unshakable.” The world is shaking. Families are toppling. Lives are crumbling. Society is dying. People are killing. And those who trust in the Lord their foundation is secure. Their cornerstone is unshakable. What this means my friend is this, and Peter quotes this verse and Paul quotes this verse, and they say that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone. Here’s what I wanna tell you, your life start with Jesus. Your marriage, start with Jesus. Your family, start with Jesus. Your business, start with Jesus. Your relationships, start with Jesus. Your schedule, start with Jesus. Your budget, start with Jesus. Your day, start with Jesus. Your week, start with Jesus. Your life, start with Jesus. Your eternal life, start with Jesus. Get the cornerstone laid. We are here to say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “It is the power of God. “It is the cornerstone of life. “And there is no life. “There is no love. “There is no flourishing. “There is no joy, apart from Jesus,” amen?

– [Congregation] Amen.

– That’s what we believe.

– Oh, this is fun. Hey, I think we should bring the band up. This is cause for a little party. If you have not given your life to Jesus, give it to Jesus. If you’ve not received forgiveness of sin, receive it from Jesus. If you have built your life, your family, your marriage, your business, your legacy, your eternity, on anything other than Jesus, jack hammer that up. Let Jesus said for you, a brand new Cornerstone, amen? We’re gonna take communion. We’re gonna celebrate the broken body, shed blood of Jesus. Here’s the good news, in a world where people are killing one another, our God came to die for us that we might live, amen?

– [Congregation] Amen.

– I’m gonna pray. We’re gonna party. Jesus, we don’t have words to say how awesome you are. Jesus, you’re amazing. It’s not just about dying and going to heaven, it’s about heaven coming down long before we die. We rebuke you, Satan. Stealing what Jesus is giving. Killing people that Jesus is made. Destroying, where God wants flourishing. Jesus, we have no hope apart from you. We have no joy apart from you. We have no life apart from you. We have no peace apart from you. Lord Jesus, thank you that you are our cornerstone. Thank you for being the cornerstone in our life, our marriage, our family, and our church. And I pray God that these people would not shake, that they would not fall, that they would not crumble. And that one day when they see you face to face, they would hear, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Amen.

Mark Driscoll
hello@markdriscoll.org

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