Header Image: Jars of Clay in Toronto, by Ian Muttoo (https://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/)

By now, most people (in Christian circles, at least) will have heard about the Jars of Clay controversy. For those that are thinking "how on earth could there be controversy over some jars?" let me clarify: they are a contemporary Christian music band. The controversy is because the frontman, Dan Haseltine, tweeted some thoughts on the topic of gay marriage.

Shocking, I know.

 

Advertisement

This is what started it all:

 

Advertisement

 

 

Plus many, many, more tweets as time went on, with the whole twitter/blogosphere alight with this madness. Apparently even some radio stations had pulled Jars of Clay's music because of this assumed support of gay marriage by Dan, and by association, the band too. Dan has since issued an apology on his blog, and expanded on his thoughts in ways which the twitter character limitations wouldn't allow him to previously.

Advertisement

But as much of a hot-button topic as gay rights within the Church is, it is not what I want to talk about now. No, what got me was the way in which the Christians reacted to this news about JoC and the tweets, and how all the bloggers etc. exploded with articles with some hints of condemnation.

jars_of_clay.jpg
Jars of Clay at Toronto, Canada. Photo: Ian Muttoo

Though I do agree that twitter probably wasn't the best place to voice such questions and thoughts, which I do think were genuine and not merely provocative, that doesn't excuse the way in which people responded.

 

It all comes across as very judgemental, mean and downright nasty in some comments. Completely Christ-like behaviour. Obviously.

Advertisement

 

The whole things just comes across very much with the tone of "you can't question this belief or that doctrine"; but which beliefs and doctrines — well that's entirely up to whoever you speak to! Though in recent times, questioning issues relating to homosexuality — whether secular or Christian related thoughts, can get you in some hot water with certain groups and people.

Which is exactly what happened with Jars of Clay. Just take a browse through Dan's twitter feed or the Jars of Clay Facebook page to see the reactions to his thinking out loud.

I can't embed Facebook comments, but to give an idea of some responses I'll post a few screenshots which I've taken, and some which Patheos also took when they covered the story:

Advertisement

It all comes across as very judgemental, mean and downright nasty in some comments.

_jars_of_clay_fb_1.png

_jars_of_clay_fb_3.png

_jars_of_clay_fb_4.png

_jars_of_clay_fb_5.png

jars_of_clay_fb_6.png

And my "favourite" has got to be the call to go and basically commit suicide using a veiled reference to Luke 17:2 –

_jars_of_clay_fb_2.png

Advertisement

Since writing this will probably come across to some as though I'm not "toeing the party line" on the issue, this comment pretty much sums up my sentiments on the "gay issue" as far as this post will go:

nailed_it.png

Whether you agree, disagree, call it sin or not – the fact of the matter is is that the laws of the land (whichever land you happen to be in) are not based on our beliefs. You may say the Bible is your ultimate authority in and for life, but that doesn't make it so for everyone else, and especially not for those in government who dictate the laws. Sometimes I think the sooner we realise that, the better off the Church as a whole would be.

 

Advertisement

It was only last week I was writing a similar post about the online actions of Christians and how unloving they were in regards to Google not posting an Easter themed "doodle". This week it's the similarly unloving actions and attitudes towards someone who dared to question. It's not like it was asking or seeking heretical doctrine, but simply trying to get to the root of an issue. As a friend of mine also blogged last week, "Could your Evangelical Church be Unhealthy?" he addressed the issue of cult-like mindsets that can creep into some churches. Point 5 especially comes to mind now: "SACRED SCIENCE - The ideology is given special/sacred status and cannot be critiqued."

If no one is allowed to question and seek, then how can anyone come to the Faith fully and completely? Christianity is not "blind faith" (as much as some would try to say otherwise), but is based on the teachings and actions of a real man and was spread by the testimonies and accounts of eye-witnesses. Even before Jesus, the Psalmist declared, "O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him" (Ps 34:8) — that's a challenge right there to do something, to actually try your faith and see that God is there and real. This faith is a demonstrable one.

But I digress. As to the title of this post:

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things that the Lord hates,
    seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
    and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
    feet that hurry to run to evil,
a lying witness who testifies falsely,
    and one who sows discord in a family.

From the way Christians are reacting to things like this, whether online or not, I'm sure their attitudes will fall into at least three of these "things that the Lord hates."

  • A lying tongue – As far as I could see online, the Jars of Clay frontman hadn't expressly stated whether he supported SSM (Same Sex Marriage) or not, but was just asking about the arguments surrounding the topic, yet many posts that I did see were saying that he'd come out as supporting and/or advocating for gay marriage!
  • Haughty eyes– Now, I had to look up this word to make sense of it. It is defined as "arrogantly superior and disdainful." A quick skimming over the comments on Facebook and Twitter will show you the amount of arrogance and disdain on display.
  • One who sows discord in a family – If we are meant to be all brothers and sisters together in Christ, then it follows that we are all one big family united by Spirit and not blood. The malicious attacks against someone for asking questions is definitely not uniting and is sowing plenty of discord.

Yes, Dan is a public figure and a Christian, so what he says and does has more far-reaching consequences than maybe our own non-celebrity lives do, but that doesn't mean we ought to verbally crucify the man, rightly or wrongly (plus it's not the first time things like this have happened, even on a smaller scale). While I do think that public figures should probably be answered publicly if they are acting against the Body of Christ on a public platform – there are better and more loving ways to do it. 

We need to be more aware of our actions as Christians, and "abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thess 5:22). As Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruits" and if you have love for one another, "everyone will know that you are my disciples" (Matt 7:16; Jn 13:35).

Advertisement

There are ways to discuss and correct people who have wronged you (cf. Matt 18:15; Galatians 6:1), or who you think are saying/teaching the wrong things (cf. Acts 18:26), or times to just listen and wait (cf. James 1:19-20; Proverbs 18:13).

“Jars of Clay: Cracked!” by nakedpastor David Hayward
"Jars of Clay: Cracked!" by nakedpastor David Hayward

 

The Kingdom of God is counter-culture. That means the ethics and morals often go against what secular culture says and approves of. Just look at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Everything Jesus says to do it practically the opposite of what you'd expect or want to do!

 

Advertisement

You've got no food – don't worry and trust God.

Someone slaps you in the face  offer them another go.

Forced to do something for another carry on beyond expectations.

Persecuted and hated by people go and pray for them instead of retaliating.

Advertisement

 

And of course, above all, love your neighbourThat sums it all up. Laws and politics may (and probably often) do disagree with our Christian ethics, and while there could be some noble causes to change certain laws which do oppress, endanger and strip people of equality and justice, as followers of Jesus; as those who claim to be born-again, Spirit-filled, as having the mind of Christ – the only laws we should fight to change are those which go against justice and equality for all.

Our lives, as those lived out by following the teachings and examples of Jesus, by making the Kingdom of Heaven a reality on Earth, should influence and change our immediate environment and surroundings – through the power of the Spirit in us and by love.

I've said what the Lord hates, but what does He love? "For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing" (Isa. 61:8)

Isa. 1:16-17

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your doings
    from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
    learn to do good;
seek justice,
    rescue the oppressed,
defend the orphan,
    plead for the widow.

Deut. 10:17-18

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing.

James 1:27

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

This is the nature of God. If our actions don't match those which Jesus taught and displayed, if they don't match up with this sense of equal justice for all, then can those actions really come from the Spirit of God who is meant to motivate and move us?

And before your thoughts are dragged back to the issue of Same Sex Marriage...

1 Cor 5:12

For what have I to do with judging those outside? Is it not those who are inside that you are to judge?

So I don't care what cause you lobby for or against, if it isn't something which will ultimately display the love and justice of Christ to others, then of what use is it?

Subscribe to Updates
Subscribe to:

Have something to say? Leave a comment below.

Leave a comment   Like   Back to Top   Seen 1166 times   Liked 0 times

Subscribe to Updates

If you enjoyed this, why not subscribe to free email updates ?

Subscribe today and get a 10% discount code for the online shop!

Subscribe to Blog updates

Enter your email address to be notified of new posts:

Subscribe to:

Alternatively, you can subscribe via RSS

‹ Return to Blog

We never share or sell your email address to anyone.

I've already subscribed / don't show me this again

Recent Posts

My Upcoming Book

| 09th August 2017 | My Books

It's been a little quiet from me over here, but not for lack of things to write! I have been busy putting together a book based on the Lenten series I recently did this Easter just gone. It has been reformatted for paperback and soon to follow, eBook/Kindle too, as a daily reading plan not just to be read during Lent but can be read as your own personal reading plan over a forty day period of your choosing. The book will also be released with a companion book which will contain all of the full, original texts from the relevant Church Fathers that are included within the forty day plan. You can read more about it, and follow any updates here on this promo page: 40-days-with-the-fathers.html  ...

The Resurrection as a historical event

| 29th April 2017 | Easter

Table of Contents Jesus was raised bodily – and historically The resurrection is what makes Christianity unique! Evidence from Paul The mystery of the resurrection The nature of the resurrection The resurrection is more than physical What with Easter still ringing in our ears, I thought it would be a good time to revisit the topic of resurrection, but from a historical standpoint and why we can trust it as a real, world-changing event. So, what really is the resurrection? How will we be resurrected, and what does it mean for us that Jesus rose again? Let’s explore what this means for us as Christians, and see what the Scriptures say. Jesus was raised bodily – and historically Let’s look at the way Jesus was resurrected first, since he is the “firstfruits” of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-23). The historical, bodily resurrection of Christ is central to our faith. Without it, we may as well pack up and go home, which Paul makes clear to the Corinthian church: 1 Corinthians 15:12-15 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. I saw a survey recently about this very topic, which suggested that a worrying amount of self-identifying Christians in Britain don’t believe that the resurrection of Jesus happened at all! Fewer than one-in-three Christians in Britain believe “word-for-word” the Biblical story of Jesus rising from the dead … A survey for the BBC carried out to mark Palm Sunday found that 23 per cent of those calling themselves Christians “do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead” at all. [Source: telegraph.co.uk] The resurrection is what makes Christianity unique! Despite the misinformation that circulates on the internet, Jesus isn’t just a carbon-copy of previous “dying and rising gods” from Egypt and Greece – mainly because none pre-date Christianity! The consensus among modern scholars — nearly universal — is that there were no dying and rising gods that preceded Christianity. They all post-dated the first century. [Source: y-jesus.com] It’s this uniqueness and reality which impacts our lives and changes us from within, because the “Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells” in us (Rom 8:11)! Think about that for a moment. The power that raised Christ from the dead – that incredible force of God; the very life giving Spirit of the universe, dwells in US! Christians might do all those [good works], but that is not the core of their faith. It is the result of their faith. They do those things as the musician plays music or the athlete plays his sport. They do those things because they are talented and it gives them joy. So the Christian does these good things because he has been filled with the Spirit of the risen Jesus Christ and he does those things with joy because he wants to. [Source: patheos.com] Recently, the Shroud of Turin has been in the news again, as it has been recently authenticated again, which shows that it may not be a medieval forgery or piece of art! If you’ve not heard of this “Shroud of Turin”, it’s an ancient burial cloth which bears the image of a man who has been crucified, obviously meaning to be of Jesus. It attracts attention because of its unique nature and that it appears to be a negative image somehow imprinted on the cloth in an inexplicable way: Giulio Fanti of Padua University ... In 2012 … concluded that an electrical charge in the form of radiation is what likely caused the man’s image to be imprinted on the Shroud. He has also dated the Shroud to th...

Lent Day 40: Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII: ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION, II

| 15th April 2017 | Lent

Day Forty: St. Leo the Great: Sermon LXXII: ON THE LORD'S RESURRECTION, II Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the Gospel, incarnation and resurrection of our Lord. Why: To encourage the Church in the power of the incarnation and the true faith and the nature of Christ and to give a new meaning to Passover in light of Jesus When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 195 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Here we are, at the final day of Lent. I hope you've found it an interesting journey through Church History, covering various authors and topics from the first four centuries of the Church. And what better way to end this series than with a sermon on the resurrection! “The whole of the Easter mystery, dearly-beloved, has been brought before us in the Gospel narrative”, Leo declares as the opening statement of this sermon. What is this Easter mystery? “The cross of Christ, which was set up for the salvation of mortals” which is both a “mystery and an example” for us to follow. It's “a sacrament where by the Divine power takes effect” and “an example whereby man's devotion is excited” to be “inseparably united to” Christ, who is “the Way that is of holy living, the Truth of Divine doctrine, and the Life of eternal happiness (Jn 14:6). Christ took our nature upon Him for our salvation In the beginning, when the “whole body of mankind had fallen”, our merciful God had purposed in himself to make a way to reconcile “His creatures made after His image [...] through His only-begotten Jesus Christ”. Leo goes on to say that if we had not fallen from how God made us, we'd have been happy; but now we can be happier if we remain in what he has remade us to be through his Spirit. Jesus was “excluded [from] all taint of the sin which has passed upon all men”, that taint being “weakness and mortality, which were not sin, but the penalty of sin”. The “Redeemer of the World” suffered these things for our sake, “that they might be reckoned as the price of redemption”. In us is the “heritage of condemnation”, but in Christ is the “mystery of godliness” (1 Tim 3:16) Through the enemy, Jesus had “His spotless flesh” tortured. Because of this, because Jesus willingly went to die for us, now “believers in Him might find neither persecution intolerable, nor death terrible, by the remembrance that there was no more doubt about their sharing His glory than there was about His sharing their nature”. Set your minds on things that are above Following on with the previous thought, Leo goes on to explain that, “in Christ we are crucified, we are dead, we are buried; on the very third day, too, we are raised”; which is why Paul writes to the Colossians, Colossians 3:1-4So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. We achieve this raising by the power of Christ with us, who lifts us up, because he is with us, as he promised: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20). This in itself fulfills the promise that his own name means, prophesied by Isaiah when he said, they “ ... shall name him Immanuel” (Isa 7:14), which means “God with us”. But even in Christ's ascending, he has not forsaken us, because even though he sits at “the right hand of God” (Acts 2:32-33), he...

Lent Day 39: Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI)

| 14th April 2017 | Lent

Day Thirty-nine: St. Leo the Great: Sermon XLIX (On Lent XI) Who: Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I (the Great), was Pope from 440-61 AD. Place and date of birth unknown; died 10 November, 461. Leo's pontificate, next to that of St. Gregory I, is the most significant and important in Christian antiquity, as he tried to  combat the heresies which seriously threatened church unity even in the West, such as Pelagianism. What: A sermon on the season of Lent as the Easter festival approached. Why: To encourage the Church to fast during this season in order than they may put away temptations and overcome their vices, to be guided by God in all things. When: Between 440 and 461 AD You can find today’s reading on page 191 here: lentfatherscomplete.pdf   Today's reading is a Lenten sermon from Pope Leo I that he preached in the run up to the Easter festival, in which “the greatest and most binding of fasts is kept, and its observance is imposed on all the faithful without exception; because no one is so holy that he ought not to be holier, nor so devout that he might not be devouter.” Lent is a time of self-reflection and discipline, a time where we look at the life of Jesus and mourn his death as the disciples did, before we realise the reality of the resurrection which comes in a few short days. “Who is there who would not wish for additions to his virtue, or removal of his vice?” Leo asks rhetorically, referring to the benefits of the Lenten fast and discipline. “Blessed, therefore, is the mind that passes the time of its pilgrimage in chaste sobriety, and loiters not in the things through which it has to walk”. Leo refers this back to what Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 as a way of living in such a way that we don't get too caught up in this life and this world that we forget about the divine promise and the life we are called to live. Matthew 7:14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. “...although that which [the flesh] desires is short-lived and uncertain, yet men endure toil more willingly for the lust of pleasure than for love of virtue”, which leads to the why the wide road is filled with unnumbered people who chase after the visible. But the narrow path, for those who prefer the eternal, unseen things, is few and far between, but by hope we will be saved (2 Cor 4:18; Rom 8:24). Satan robbed of all his tyrannic power It is during this season, Leo goes on to say, that Satan is “consumed with the strongest jealousy and now tortured with the greatest vexation” due to the great number of people fasting to renew their faith and discipline in following Christ. Even those who had slipped into worldly cares, become lukewarm or were just weak in faith, “furnished [themselves] with spiritual armour” and renewed their enthusiasm! Through Jesus's victory on the cross, many people turned to faith, and so Satan was “driven from the hearts of those he once possessed” and was stripped of his power over such people. But as James wrote, “all of us make many mistakes” (James 3:2), so we must all be willing to forgive one another, in order that we don't violate the holy command in the Lord's prayer which we bind ourselves to, where it says, “forgive those who sin against us” (Luke 11:4); if during this time, Satan brings temptations or divisions amongst the Church. Our duties during Lent Leo goes on to say that we must strive to be peacemakers because they will be blessed and “called children of God” (Matt 5:9), so especially now, any discord or enmity between other believers should be rectified and reconciled; otherwise, “let no one think to have a share in the Paschal feast that has neglected to restore brotherly peace”! Aside from forgiveness and reconciliation amongst ourselves, Leo also says that our fast-times should be “fat and abound” with regards to almsgiving and care of the poor. “Let...