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Anatomy, Attraction, Attitude and Appearance

October 8, 2017

There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple of years about individuals who are transgender and how society should accommodate them, specifically in regards to restrooms and locker rooms.  Although I am a pastor, I am also a philosophy instructor.  This article is not meant to be religious in nature, there will be no scriptural references, nor will I comment on the moral or religious implications, as that would limit it’s application to those who agree with me from a religious viewpoint.  I am attempting to reason with a larger audience, for the sake of social harmony.

I would like to begin with the topic of anatomy.  The vast majority of people are born with either a vagina or a penis. ( I understand that some people are indeed born with both.  This article will address that only briefly in the section on special circumstances. ) On a person’s birth certificate they are marked as either female or male on the basis of their genitalia.  This anatomical feature is a straight forward, external, physical characteristic that anyone can easily identify.

A second issue, that is completely separate from anatomy, is sexual attraction.  Some individuals are attracted to the same sex, others are attracted to the opposite sex.  Some are attracted to both and some to neither.  This is an internal characteristic of individuals that cannot be discerned from external appearance.  It also is something that can change through a person’s lifetime.  It can, at times, be confusing as a person struggles with their sexuality.

A third issue is what I am calling attitude.  By this, I am referring to personality traits.  Earlier in western culture these traits were identified as masculine or feminine traits.  In the 21st century it has been realized that personality traits are not necessarily dictated by either one’s anatomy or one’s sexual attraction.  People who have traits that have historically been identified as masculine or feminine may think that they were born in the wrong body, since their traits do not match up with historical, cultural. preconceptions.  This can be confusing and is based on the false belief that personality traits are associated with anatomy.  They are not.  People with male anatomy do not all have the same personality traits.  People with female anatomy do not have the same personality traits.  Each person is a unique combination.

Appearance is my final category.  Our culture does have certain social patterns of dress and behavior that have historically been associated with males and females.  Sometimes in today’s culture individuals with male anatomy may dress and act so as to appear female and individuals with female anatomy may seek to appear as male.  As long as they are clothed they may very well succeed in this attempt.

For the sake of public harmony people should use the restroom that is designated by their anatomy.  However, we can allow some exceptions.  As already stated some people intentionally seek to appear opposite to their actual anatomy.  Most restrooms have stalls that are private so no one is going to observe the actual anatomy of a person using the facilities.  If a male is dressed convincingly as a female and goes to use the male bathroom they will create far more commotion than if they use the one that is consistent with their appearance.  However if a male is using a female bathroom they should sit as a female would, even if it is not necessary, to keep up the appearance of being female.  Remember, the idea here is to allow people to live in peace with each other, without causing offense, if  possible.

Locker rooms are a different story.  Locker rooms should be designated by anatomy.  Anatomy is easily identified at a single glance.  Individuals with male genitalia and individuals with female genitalia should use separate locker rooms.  For those individuals who like to dress as women. but still have male anatomy, they should use the anatomically correct facilities.  In all of the locker rooms that I have been in there is no privacy.  When you undress and shower your anatomy will show.  You might like to dress as a woman, but if you have a penis you shouldn’t be changing and showering in the women’s locker room and vice a versa.

There are some special situations.  Individuals who once had male genitalia but no longer do, fall into one of two categories.  They either had some form of injury or a surgical procedure.  For those who lost their genitalia due to an injury, they should still be allowed to use the facilities that they used before the injury.  For those who have been surgically altered, they should use the facilities that match their new genitalia.   For those who were born with both, they should use the facilities with which they most closely identify.

I have intentionally not used the term gender in this article because it is a term that has so many meanings that it is now basically without meaning.  I have chosen instead to focus on anatomy, attraction, attitude and appearance.  I believe that these terms are more appropriate.

Our society should be taught not to mistreat people who are different. We should seek to live in peace and harmony, respecting each others individuality as much as possible. This does not mean that we cannot interact, seeking to bring about change in either individuals or society, but it does mean that we should do so in a courteous and respectful manner.

This article is not meant to be the final word, but only a contribution to the ongoing discussion.  It is not suggested as an ideal, but as a compromise.

 

 

 

 

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Protecting a Minority

March 13, 2014

Gay rights have come a long way.  Within my lifetime, they have gone from being an illegal activity and a psychological disorder, to a widely accepted alternative lifestyle.  In an increasing number of states, they have obtained the right to legally marry.

The primary opposition to gay marriage stems from religious people that continue to accept certain biblical values.  Of course, not everyone shares the same  values.  How should we react when there is a conflict of values?  When a gay couple is planning their wedding, and they contact a church, a florist, a caterer, a photographer and so forth: do those businesses have a right to refuse their services?  Are we not willing to allow people to live out their own values in this area?  Are we going to force the will of the majority upon the minority?  Or will we allow people to continue to live by their personal convictions in this matter?

There is an increasing number of people who will gladly accept the business generated by gay weddings.  People who feel strongly that gay marriages are wrong should be allowed to refuse service.  They should be able to live by their moral convictions.  They should however, be required to suggest a business that is open, to providing that service.

Any advertisements that accompany this blog are placed there by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

My Apologies

June 4, 2013

I was recently on vacation and did not get on my blog site.  I apologize to those readers whose comments were held for longer than usual before being posted.  In addition, some comments had been erroneously sent to spam.

Mary: An Ordinary Mom?

May 13, 2013

This is the 23rd Mothers’ Day message that I have preached.  I am a little surprised to recognize that I have never used the most famous mother of all to preach a message on Mothers’ Day.  That is, until today.

I.   The News:  Luke 1:30-31

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.

Now, obviously Mary received this news from an angel, not from a doctor or pregnancy test.  Even more important, she was a virgin and so there was certainly no reason for her to suspect that she might be pregnant.  Nonetheless, I suspect that her reaction to the news, would be similar to women everywhere.  She was undoubtedly both frightened and excited.  She was likely feeling both joy, and concern.  These are ordinary responses to the very human news that one is with child.  Mary’s world, like any other mother, was about to change forever.  Mary’s circumstances were extraordinary, but her feelings were probably normal human feelings.

II.  Common Bonds:  Luke 1:39-45

Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”

Obviously, I am a man and so have never experienced being pregnant, or being a mother, so all of my observations are subject to being corrupted by the male perspective, but I have consulted with experts (ordinary moms) and I have been told my thoughts are reasonably accurate.

Mary and Elizabeth were both pregnant under extraordinary circumstances.  Elizabeth was older, and had been barren.  Mary was to be the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth was to be the mother of John the Baptist.  Still, there is a common experience here of pregnant women everywhere.  Pregnant women like to get together and compare notes.  They like to talk about the changes that are taking place in their bodies, their experiences, feelings, their hopes and dreams and so forth.  If they don’t have a friend that is pregnant, then a friend who has been there already works just as well, maybe even better.  Frankly, women like to talk with other women.  That is pretty ordinary.

The Birth:  Luke 2:6&7, 19

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

I rather doubt that as Mary was envisioning the day of birth that she had thought that she would be in a strange town, giving birth in a barn.  For most women, the birth day does not go quite like they had expected.

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

Mary’s experiences were unique and she remembered every detail.  Ordinary women also remember all the details of the birth of their children.  It is an ordinary event that is extraordinary in the sense that it is always remembered.  The day of birth is an ordinary thing, and yet very special day.

IV.  They Grow Up Fast:  Luke 2:40

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.

Jesus grew up just like other children grow up.  Parents everywhere recognize that it seems that their children are infants one day, and young adults the next.  This is an ordinary experience.

V. Children Sometimes Give Us Fits:  Luke 2:41-46

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His motherdid not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.

At age twelve, Jesus may have already been accepted as a young adult in the Jewish community.  While His family was in Jerusalem, He went to the temple.  He probably didn’t think anything about it.  His parents, trusting Him as a young adult, assumed that He would be with the group.  Can you imagine their concern when they realized that He was not with them.  One day out, one day back, and the third day they find Him in the temple.  Can you imagine how worried Mary was about her twelve-year-old son?  It is a very ordinary thing for our children to give us a few fits as they grow up.  Even Jesus was apparently not except from the typical behavior.

VI.  Still Involved:  John 2:1-5

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.

I just have to smile as I read this passage.  Mary believed in her child and knew what He was capable of doing.  She encouraged Him to act in a way that only mothers seem to know how to do.  It wasn’t yet His time, but He ended up helping out anyway.  Ordinary mothers believe in their children, and continue to offer guidance, even after they are grown.  Mary was no different.

VII.  A Broken Heart:  John 19:25

 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Mary was with Jesus during His ministry and she was there at His death.  How awful that had to be.  Sometimes a mother’s heart is broken by the things that her child has to suffer.  This too, is a common experience in the history of mankind.

VIII.  New Hope:  Acts 1:14

These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.

After Jesus death, resurrection, and ascension, Mary is with the disciples.  She has experienced the heights and depths of Jesus’ ministry on earth.  At this time she is expectant for what comes next.  For mothers who have suffered heartbreak, after heartbreak, there can be new hope.

Conclusion:  Obviously, Mary was a very special mother, but many of her experiences are ordinary experiences, common to mothers everywhere.  God can use ordinary mothers to do extraordinary things.  Actually, you don’t have to be a mother, God can use ordinary people, both men and women, to do extraordinary things.

 

 

 

An Active Role

May 6, 2013

These are the sermon notes from April 28.  Yes, I know, I am a week behind.

The message today is from a famous parable, the parable of the sower and the seed.

Mark 4:1-9

And again He began to teach by the sea. And a great multitude was gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat in it on the sea; and the whole multitude was on the land facing the sea. Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching:

“Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

 

We are blessed that Jesus himself gives the basic interpretation of this parable.

I.  The Sower: v14

The sower sows the word.

The sower can be anyone.  We are all called to be witnesses of the gospel, to share the message of salvation.  We should look for whatever opportunity comes our way to share the good news of Jesus Christ.  The word is the message of salvation offered to all.  The message is scattered liberally, without regard to the soil type.

II.  The Wayside: v15

And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts.

Some reject the word when they first hear it.  We should not be discouraged by this result.  Sometimes seed may lay dormant for a long time.  God is able to break up fallow ground.  He is able to soften hardened hearts.  Sometimes it takes a long time before a person will respond with faith, but it may still happen.

III.  The Stoney Ground: vv16-17

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.

We all know of people who were saved and served God for a while.  However, for some it is like a passing fad that they embrace for a while before turning to something else.  This is where we should all use this parable as a warning to our own Christian walk.  We are able to take an active part in our faith development.  Let us put down roots through consistent Bible study, prayer, worship, and fellowship with other believers.

IV.  Among Thorns:  vv18-19

Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

We need to be careful!  The blessings that God gives to us in this world can become a hindrance to our faith.  It is acceptable to enjoy the things that God has given to us, but they should never replace our love for God.  God is to be first in our lives, not just a part of our lives.  Again, we should use the lesson of this parable to take an active part in our faith development, and be careful to “Seek first the kingdom of God”.

IV.  Good Ground:  v20

But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”

What does it mean to bear fruit?  The first response is to think of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galations 5: 22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

If we are believers in Christ, our lives should be changed.  If the Spirit of Christ is within us, then that Spirit should be having an impact on our lives.  The fruit of the Spirit should be present, and increasing in any true believer’s life.

There is another aspect of bearing fruit.  In the natural world, fruit contains the seeds of new life.  It is the means of reproduction.  In the spiritual realm, we also, should be reproducing.  We should be sharing the word, planting the seed, if you will, of new believers.

Conclusion:  We can use the parable of the sower, not to resign ourselves to our lot in life, but to break up fallow ground, to send down roots, to weed out the distractions in our lives, and to produce fruit for the kingdom of God.

Author’s Note

February 28, 2013

First,  I would like to thank all of you who have begun following my blog in the last few months.  It seems as though the posting of sermon notes has been well received.  However, this blog was originally intended to include posts about a wide variety of topics.  It has only been in the last year that I started posted my sermon notes, which was done primarily for those in my congregation.  Then I stopped writing other posts, primarily because of time constraints.  It is my intention to continue posting sermon notes, normally on Mondays, and a different post, on random topics, normally on Thursdays.  I hope that this will not be a problem for those of you who have been following the post strictly for the sermon notes.

I appreciate comments made on articles, or on sermon notes for that matter.  They do have to be moderated so there is a delay in their being posted.

Thank you.

Warning!

January 10, 2013

Here are the sermon notes from January 6, 2013.

Introduction:  I had an interesting dream last night that I believe was from the Lord.  It will serve as both the introduction to the message and the conclusion.

In my dream I was in a small town set in a valley.  When the dream began I was a little ways up the hill looking down on the town.  I walked down the hill and through a few blocks to the home of some people that I knew.  I walked into the house and called out to the people who live there.  There was no answer so I walked further into the house.  I passed by the stove in the kitchen and noticed that there was a very large frying pan filled with grease to the very top on the stove, which was lit.  There  was additional bacon floating and sizzling on top of the grease.  The oven also was on.  I looked at that and thought that it was a definite fire hazard.  Then I heard someone finally answer my call.  They were in the shower, so I left.  I walked back up the hill and looked back and the house was on fire.  

First let me say that I never walk into people’s homes without being invited in.  Second, I would have shut off the stove and oven before I left, but this was a dream and I believe there was a reason for it.

I.  Something to Boast About:  Jeremiah 9:23-24

 Thus says the Lord:

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

We are not to glory, or boast, in our wisdom, strength or riches, but we can glory, rejoice in, even boast about, the fact that we have the opportunity to know God.

God exercises lovingkindness, judgement, and righteousness.  We serve a God who inspires us to be more like Him.

II.  The Wrong Thing: Jeremiah 13:1-11

Thus the Lord said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” So I got a sash according to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist.

And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, “Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates,[a] and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

Now it came to pass after many days that the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there.” Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. 10 This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. 11 For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the Lord, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’

The sash was perfectly fine while it was worn around the waist of the prophet.  Once it was separated however, it became ruined and worthless.

The people had refused to listen to God’s Word.  They had followed instead, the dictates of their own hearts.  They chose the to follow the wrong thing.  

As long as we remain in a right relationship with God everything will be fine.  If we leave God, or are willfully disobedient to His word, we can expect our lives to deteriorate.

III.  Our Hearts’ Choice Jeremiah 17:5-10 

Thus says the Lord:

“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.
For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes,
But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear[a] when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.

Those who chose to trust in the flesh will be under a curse. 

Those who trust in God will be blessed.

God sees our hearts and will not be fooled by outward compliance that is not consistent with an internal commitment.

Conclusion: There is a clear distinction between clinging to, and serving God: and rejecting God, or God’s Word to do our own thing.  If we see people who have rejected God or His Word, we have a responsibility to do something.  We should warn them.  We should pray for them.  We should live our own lives as an example to them.  

To do nothing, would be like walking away from a fire hazard that could be easily addressed.

Feed My Sheep

September 22, 2011

My starting point for this message is a portion of scripture that I always thought would make an excellent message to preach to pastors.  However, I believe that it can be applied to all who love the Lord.

I.  Care for the Sheep  Ezekiel 34:1-6

The job of a shepherd is to care for the sheep, not just to benefit from the sheep.  We are not talking however, about sheep, but about people.

We are to strengthen the weak.  Those whose faith is faltering need to be encouraged.

We should bring healing to the sick.  We can pray, and if possible, provide medical assistance to those who are in need.

We should bind up the broken.  There are Christians who have been broken by what they have experienced in life.  God offers healing.  We can be made whole again.

We should bring back those who have been driven away.  Some Christians have left the church because of  negative experiences.  We should seek to restore them to fellowship.  Christians are not meant to be alone, but to be a part of a community of believers.

We should seek the lost.  We need to be actively witnessing to the those who do not have a relationship with Christ.

II.  God is the True Shepherd  Ezekiel 34:11-15

Ultimately, it is God Himself who will care for His people.  However, He works through us.

III.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd  John 10:11, 27&28

The image of shepherd continues to be used by Christ.  He will take care of His people, even to the point of laying his life down for His sheep.

IV.  Those Who Love God, Will Feed His Sheep  John 21:15-17

Three times Peter is asked if he loves Christ.  Three times he is told to feed,or tend, “my sheep”.  As Christians we are to love God, and to love people.  If we love people, we will seek to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the broken, bring back those who are driven away and to seek the lost.

Summer Session

July 15, 2011

I am currently teaching a summer session that runs for five weeks.  It meets Monday-Thursday for three hours a day.  It is making it difficult to get my other work done since it takes up more time than the normal semester schedule.  I will hopefully return to blogging regularly when this session in over.

There is lots of old posts you can look through if you are interested.

What are YOU Looking At?

June 21, 2011

The other day I was feeling a little blue.  There was no particular reason.  I am healthy,  life is going reasonably well, everything is fine, but I was feeling a little down.

Then I turned my thoughts back to the goodness of God.  I thought about His love for me, His plan for me and about the wonders of His grace, power and nature.  As I thought about God, my mood picked up and the rest of the day went well.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”  Hebrews 12:1-2

What are you looking at?