Ask David Bennett (April 8-12, 2019)

davidbennett
(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends, @Interested_In_Ask_RZIM,

My dear colleague @DavidACBennett is available to answer your toughest questions this week!

If you have ever spent time with David, you have a fond memory of laughing together, being encouraged to love Jesus more, and a desire to be nicer to other people.

I know his enthusiastic love for Christ and careful study of the Scriptures will be a blessing to you and all of us. Please ask your question - it will help hundreds of others who are wondering the same thing!

Carson

David Bennett’s bio:

David Bennett is a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA) from Sydney, Australia. He studied both journalism and international relations in Australia and France respectively, before attending the OCCA (2013-14). He has recently completed his postgraduate degree in theology at the University of Oxford and is now pursuing a Masters in Analytical and Exegetical Theology with the Logos Institute at the University of St Andrews.

David is a passionate Christian apologist who speaks and writes on a wide range of topics including sexuality and faith. He is frequently asked to appear and speak in a variety of settings including national radio and TV, most recently BBC 1’s The Big Questions. As a gay celibate Christian, he is seeking to be a fresh voice on the topics of love, desire, and sexuality in order to show how people can live in accordance with Christ’s teaching. David recently released his book A War of Loves (Zondervan, 2018). It describes his own story from agnostic gay activist to follower of Jesus, in which he advocates for a positive moral vision of biblical sexuality and discipleship. His other interests include writing, cooking, and living in Christian community.

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(Bill Brander) #2

Welcome back David. Your book was very informative, thank you.
Question I have is based upon recent events (One was the “Skeptic’s Night”. An RZIM event.).

If I understood the speaker correctly (Abdu I think) he said that God created male and female. Not male or female. However, something happened and the person did not leave the womb as one or the other which was God’s plan.

The hang up that I have is that we have an athlete who is transgender competing in women’s events. This does not sit well with me, but am I wrong to call it unfair?
Thanks
Bill

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(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi David,

Can you help us understand whether or not the laws of Leviticus 18-20 are applicable to us today?

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(Kathleen) #4

David!
Hello. :slight_smile: Thanks for being on the forum this week. It’s so great to have you here!

I was intrigued to learn from your book that, in your early years, you were heavily influenced by the writings of existential philosophers. Do their writings still resonate with you in any way today? Presumably you read them through a different filter nowadays, but given how their ideas are so influential in our modern western world, as Christians, where are some good dialoging points with them?

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(Daniel) #5

Hello David, when I had read your biography I quickly realized that you were the right person for my question :smiley: Dealing with homosexual sentient people has been a hot topic in our church for a long time. Now the church leadership has cleared the way for the blessing of homosexual couples. Do you think this is in line with the Bible?

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(David Bennett) #6

Dear Bill,

Thank you for your question and for reading my book, Bill! If I understand your paraphrase of Abdu, he may have been referring to the passage in Matthew 19:12: “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” In this case, Jesus refers to those of us who are born intersex (that’s the “I” in the acronym LGBTQ(I)+). Intersex people are born with genitalia that isn’t easily identified as male-or-female. Abdu may have been arguing that because of the presence of sin and death in God’s creation, what God originally intended for us - namely that we would be embodied as male and female - has been affected.

However, we see that God’s response to this reality is that any of us who are embodied in this way are promised a “name better than having sons and daughters” (Isaiah 56) and have been grafted into God’s covenant through Jesus (Acts 8 - Ethiopian eunuch), and that being made in the image of God is not dependent on expressing our embodiment as male or female, but was originally intended to be this way to reflect God’s glory in the covenant of marriage, and a differentiated humanity that could love the other (patterned according to the Trinity which involves eternal three-in-one communion). The Gospel is therefore good news for LGBTQI+ people, and calls us to live according God’s “statutes and commands” (Isaiah 56), given a name of high honour.

I personally think the question of whether it’s unfair for a transgender person competing in women’s events is best left to the sports profession to ascertain. I personally think it may be insensitive to that individual to say it’s unfair if the relative authorities have deemed it fair. As Christians, we are called to extend grace, and to support those on their journey, even if our opinion may differ or we disagree on the nature of human embodiment and gender. God doesn’t look on the outside of a person but rather, on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Many thanks for your question!
David.

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(David Bennett) #7

Hi Kathleen,

Thank you for the nature of your question being on something different to sexuality or gender, and for responding to my book! I think I still resonate with the writings of existential philosophers. I think it’s helpful to understand their context, the prejudices of 1960s/70s France, colonialism etc. Especially when reading L’etranger from Camus, or Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism, what has struck me is the political importance of their thinking as a critique of the oppression of the colonial “other” in the French consciousness of the time. The second thing is that Sartre became very critical of ‘humanism’, a kind of easy optimism of living without God. For Sartre, it wasn’t that he could know there was no God, but that it simply didn’t change the prejudices and problems of humanity - he wanted to find something deeper that could solve that issue. That is where I find the conversation with those who are yet to place their trust in Christ can get very interesting. You may be interested in looking at Kate Kirkpatrick’s work on Sartre and theology, with a short introduction here: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/theforum/sartre-does-god/

Blessings,
David.

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(Bill Brander) #8

Thank you David.
Bill

(David Bennett) #9

Dear IDan,

To give you the short reply, I recommend Preston Sprinkle’s work on these pastoral issues for the Church. There is a resource on his website Centre for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: 09. Guidance for Churches on Membership, Baptism, Communion, Leadership and Service for Gay and Lesbian People. You can also check out my own article on the Scottish Scottish Episcopal Church’s affirmation of gay marriage within the Church and why I disagreed with the decision.

My personal view is that it is wrong to enshrine gay marriage in the Church, simply because the final revelation of what marriage is, given to us through God’s act of creating us male and female and instituting marriage in the beginning between the sexes, as well as Jesus’ ratification of this, and the New Testament’s strong denial of same-sex activity, means I do not see a sound case that can be made for the Church to accept a gay union as a marriage. I think, however, we should be compassionate with gay couples, and be inviting them to know Jesus Christ, and seek His Word on this question. We must not condemn but accept, and love in truth. You can see my reflections here.

With warmest regards,
David.

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(David Bennett) #10

Dear Carson,

Thank you for this question. There is a tension in the New Testament about how we should consider the Law of Moses for the lives of Christians today. What we do know from Paul’s revelation of Jewish-Gentile relations, is that salvation through faith in the Messiah of God does not require Gentiles to obey the Law of Moses. On the other hand, we also know the the Law of Moses was perfect and spiritual, and taught what sin was, just not how to overcome it. There seems to be a biblical delineation between purity and moral laws to some degree. Laws which were creational (from pre-Moses, such as sexual immorality and oppression of the foreigner etc) which are carried in the Mosaic Law, and laws which were for the purposes of setting the people of Israel apart from the Gentile nations as an expression of covenant faithfulness until the time the Messiah would come.

For instance, circumcision became a big issue for Paul as he did not want the Gentiles to be circumcised, as this invalidated the inbreaking Kingdom-reality where finally the Gentile nations would were being reached and brought under God’s lordship through Jesus. At the Jerusalem Council, the Church rules that circumcision was unnecessary for Gentiles as a covenant marker, as this was specifically for the Jews, and various cultural customs (wearing fibres, eating clean foods etc) were invalidated for Peter so that he could relate to the new Gentiles who were being saved and brought into the New Covenant through Jesus (Acts). This was obviously generating difficulties for Paul’s Gospel of salvation through faith in the Messiah for Gentiles, as it contradicted older Jewish teaching on God-fearing Gentiles, and their need to become Israelites or obey the Law. However, at the Jerusalem Council, the early church rules on this problem, and concludes that Gentiles must abstain from sexual immorality (sins of the heart, creational sins), but are free not to be circumcised or obey kosher food laws (covenant signifiers). The New Covenant meant that they were no longer under this Law as a new covenant had been instituted, but the Law still had use in demarcating these immoral sexual acts for the Gentiles that represented clear departure from the true worship of God in Christ (Romas 1). The Law had no power to declare righteous, but it still existed to guide the early church in its discipling of the Gentiles into righteousness before God. In this sense, Leviticus 18-20 still has weight morally for the New Covenant Gentile follow of Jesus, but it isn’t their source of saving righteousness and they cannot perform it or fulfill it but by the power of the Holy Spirit within them who procures obedience through faith, by grace. We cannot come to it simply as a code that we attempt to obey, but when we live in the Messiah, we will end up living in obedience that is in accordance with Leviticus 18-20. If we fail and repent, none of its condemnation applies to the Christian as has been taken by Jesus on the cross, who fulfilled the Law in perfect love of God and neighbour - nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God: “When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross!” Collossians 2:14.

The Gospel is that good!
David.

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(Bill Brander) #11

Thank you for both these urls David,
Bill

(Leigh Ann Coudriet) #12

Hi David,

I am new on here and honestly, have never read your book(s) or heard of you. I am SO SORRY! But I am so GLAD that you are here because after reading your bio and personal choices to follow and obey Christ in celibacy because you love him is so refreshing to hear.

I have two lesbian nieces…one a catholic, and the other has no faith that I am aware of. I also know a young man who recently “came out” who says he really loves Jesus, yet he is living proudly as a gay man in relationship.

Most of us are not equipped to handle these sensitive situations with individuals in the lgbqt community and we often just ignore them because we are uncomfortable or we come across as judge-mental when we speak to them or about this issue. Working at a very liberal college I see MANY males and females in same sex relationships and men and women cross dressing. Though I also am polite and show interest in them, (some really do appear to be hurting, others don’t) I struggle on how to even ask them anything related to their lifestyle…I am very careful because I don’t want to hurt them. But I want them also to know that they are loved by God and that He cares about them, yet I sense they would quickly run if I said those words.

Would you suggest I give your book to any of these individuals ? Or that I should read it to help myself to learn how to engage in conversation with them.

Do you think there should be a different approach to a professed/baptized christian who is actively engaging in same sex relationships than those who have no faith at all?
( I was thinking of how Paul said to address the man that committed adultery in the church but I am not sure this is the right approach for situations like this.)

Also what do you say to someone who insists that gay/lesbian behaviors and transsexual individuals have psychological/mental illness or insists that their behaviors are due to something developed out of a traumatic experience in their lives or exposed to pornography at a young age which has caused them confusion of their sexual nature?

I’m sorry if you have answered these questions before or have the answers in your book. Like I mentioned earlier I am new here and have not read your book yet.

Thank you for being here and for being a light to others.

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(Daniel) #13

Thank you very much for your answer, David and the links. Thank you for taking the time, even if it is a topic that often catches up with you. Your remarks really helped me, they are clear and concise. Above all, I was impressed by this sentence: “I am interested in the truth of the unchanging, holy God, our Father in Heaven”. And that it’s not about condemning people. God bless you for your ministry.

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(Tara Pauls) #14

Hi David. Thank you so much for making yourself available to answer questions in this forum. I have watched YouTube videos of previous Reboot conferences and have appreciated what you have had to say, and how you have said it.

My question has to do with discerning the question behind the questioner. I am fairly new to sharing my faith. This morning God gave me the opportunity to meet a gentleman in his 90s who very definitely does not believe Jesus to be the son of God. He does not even seem to be convinced that there is a God. I tried to ask him questions and was able to get more of an idea who he is and where he’s coming from. However, I feel like there were better questions I could have asked.

He seems very entrenched in his views and quite embittered towards the church. He was adamant that the “Bible was written by men” and therefore untrue. He also seems quite embittered towards the human race, stating on many occasions that he is “different”. He says that he prays to God/god to finish his life but this seems not to be out of depression, but simply out of fatigue of living. He feels he has lived a fulfilled life.

Are there any guidelines you could provide with respect to figuring out the bigger question behind a person’s upfront questions/statements regarding faith and worldview?

Thanks again.

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(Tara Pauls) #15

Sorry David, one more question. I am ministering to 2 high school girls through my church’s youth group, one of whom identifies herself as bisexual, the other as pansexual. It took one of them one year to trust me with this information and to the other almost two years. Do you have any advice about how I can lead them in both truth and Grace? I want to be able to communicate to them Jesus’ unconditional love for them but also to encourage them to seek hard after Him. Both were brought up in the church and know all of the Bible stories, but neither one of them appears that interested in pursuing Jesus. Do you have any idea where I can start?

Thanks again?

(Carson Weitnauer) closed #16

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