Chapter 4 – Uncomfortable Truths

From the book: “Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community” by Brett McCracken

A common claim today is that there is no actual Truth, that Truth is something purely subjective and personal, little more than a matter of an individual insisting that what they would like to be true IS true, simply because they wish it so. We are told to consider every person’s proclaimed Truth as equally true, tolerated, and even celebrated.

Actually, there is only THE Truth, not “my Truth,” “your Truth,” “his Truth,” or “her Truth.” 

The Apostle John speaks frequently about truth in his Gospel and his three Epistles.

In this chapter, we will address three uncomfortable truths:  1. The Supernatural, 2. Christian Exclusivity and God’s Wrath, and 3. Sexual Ethics.

  • The Supernatural

In today’s modern scientific world, there is little place for the supernatural. In fact, many feel that the supernatural is more akin to superstition.

It is uncomfortable to believe in the supernatural. However, if there is no supernatural God, no virgin birth, no death and resurrection, and no Holy Spirit, there is nothing. With no supernatural, you cannot have Christianity.

Some people will accept the supernatural nature of God and even Jesus, but then reject the supernatural concepts of the soul, angels, or demons. They dismiss the miraculous and supernatural within the scriptures as metaphor, hyperbole, or just plain fiction.

C.S. Lewis, in his book Miracles, addresses whether miracles are incompatible with natural law or science. He argues that rather than being mutually exclusive, miracles are definite interventions that go beyond natural laws. Miracles are consistent with nature but beyond natural law.

  • Christian Exclusivity and God’s Wrath

The idea of exclusivity and wrath really comes down to one question:

“Why wouldn’t God save us all if He has the power and desire to do so?” (pg. 74)

Well, this really gets down to whether God has given us the free will to make our own choices. Isn’t this really what love is? Love is a relationship where each party has the choice to do things that enhance the relationship or to do things that destroy it. Because God is love (1 John 4:8), He can only do what enhances the relationship. However, since the first sin in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), all humans have done things to destroy the relationship. This is called original sin or human depravity (Romans 5:12, Genesis:6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, John 3:19).

It is God who does everything within His self-appointed creation to bring humans back to him. This is what the New Testament is all about. The Apostle John clearly lays this out.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:17-18, ESV)

We can see here that we have condemned ourselves through disbelief and disobedience. God is still reaching out to us to bring us back. God’s reaching out was very costly to Him.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)

This has been the challenge for humans since the Garden; we want to do it our way rather than the way we are told is the right way.

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become  capable of believing in anything.”  – G.K. Chesterton

  • Sexual Ethics

On just about any subject, the Christian sexual ethic will seem to be the most exclusive. But why does it seem this way? Rather than rehash the 10 uncomfortable truths our author presents, let’s look at what the ideal Christian ethic provides.

From Genesis, we learn:

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:21-24, ESV)

Watch: “Women Are NOT Subordinate to Men”

In contrast to becoming one flesh, there are hosts of negative things that accompany sexual relationships outside of monogamous marriage.

  • Diseases resulting from promiscuous heterosexual and homosexual relationships, and bestiality.
  • Broken relationships because of envy and jealousy.
  • Broken homes because of failure properly to raise children.

These are just some of the horizontally related issues with non-Christian ethics.

Beyond this are the vertically related issues of violating the sexual ethics prescribed by God for our benefit. Our unwillingness to adhere to the biblical sexual ethic shows our lack of trust in what God desires for us. Through our actions, we are telling God that we don’t trust His sexual ethic and prefer to go our own way. This is just another version of Adam’s and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit in the garden because of the serpent’s lie.

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5, ESV)

The modern-day approach is reinterpreting scripture from what it clearly says to what one wants it to say. This is known as eisegesis (imposing one’s own opinions into the text) rather than exegesis (being led to conclusions by following the text).

As an additional resource on this topic, I suggest reading Seeing Black and White in a Gray World – The Need for Theological Reasoning in the Church’s Debate Over Sexuality by Bill T. Arnold. Dr. Arnold is an ordained elder in the Kentucky Conference of the UMC, lives here in Lexington, and teaches at Asbury Theological Seminary.

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