Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Top 3 Reasons to Believe Christianity

If you're a Christian, what kinds of evidence do you use when sharing the gospel with non-Christians? We all have our subjective experience of how we came to faith, but those may not convince others that Christianity is objectively true. Here are 3 objective lines of evidence that every believer should be able to share with others. These are the biggest reasons we SHOULD be Christians and why they should too.

1. The God of the Bible is consistent with the cause of the universe

Science has shown us that the universe is not eternal and must have had an absolute beginning. Because time, matter, and space are all parts of this universe, the cause of the universe must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. It must also be extremely powerful and highly intelligent in order to have designed this universe. This begins to sound very much like the God of the Bible. There is much more that could be said here and many lines of evidence to back up these statements, but this is the very quick intro.

2. The evidence for the actual, historical resurrection of Jesus proves Christianity is true

This is the number one evidence for Christianity. If you give your children nothing else, this is vital. Even the Apostle Paul said that if Christ is not raised, our faith is in vain. They must know and understand the evidence for the resurrection. It is on this one historical event that Christianity rests.
We have 4 separate eyewitness accounts in the 4 gospels that verify the resurrection event. We also have independent attestation from non-Christian sources as to the major claims of Christianity very early on and we have the writings of the early church fathers to show that Christian claims have not changed over time.
There are several historical facts that even non-Christian historians agree are true based on these lines of evidence:
  • Jesus really did die on the cross
  • The tomb was empty
  • The disciples really believed Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them
  • Christianity exploded out of early 1st century Israel based on the testimony of the apostles

The best explanation for these 4 historical facts is that Jesus did actually rise from the dead. People may die for a story they believe to be true, but people don't die for a story they made up and know to be false. The apostles were in the position to know whether the resurrection actually happened and they went to their deaths without recanting. Again, there is much more to be said here, but this is the core of the issue.

3. The morality given in the Bible is consistent with natural law

This is a very neglected line of evidence, but very useful in helping young people see that Christian morality is not unreasonable and helping them stand against the ridicule of the culture. This one is more difficult to explain in a nutshell, but we see over and over again that immorality violates our design, not just a set of arbitrary laws.
For example, God commands us to abstain from sex before or outside marriage. That's not an arbitrary command. Premarital sex produces heartache, disease, poverty, abortion, and children who are raised in broken homes without a mother or father and thus are more likely to commit crimes, be promiscuous, drop out of school, and have emotional problems. Adultery produces many of the same effects, breaking up homes and harming men, women, and children in the process. These kinds of results show that extramarital sex isn't just immoral because of God's law, but because it deeply harms us by violating the way we were designed to live. We weren't meant to treat our bodies as playthings to be used as we please. Sex means more than just rubbing body parts together for fun.
Our design as humans involves not only our physical design, but our emotional and spiritual design as well and immoral sex violates that design. We can see from nature that extramarital sex is harmful and that shows us that God knew what He was doing when He gave us His laws.

There are many more lines of evidence and much more detail that could be covered for each of these, but these are the big main points every Christian should be able to explain.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Husband as Head of the Wife does NOT mean Source

It is a common egalitarian argument to claim the husband being the head over the wife doesn't mean he's the leader or authority, but only source. That's simply not true. Some have apparently noticed that the word head is used for the source of a river and thought they could explain away the Biblical teaching that husbands are head over their wives by claiming it just means the husband is a head in the sense of a river's head is its source. There are multiple problems with this line of argument.

First, the original word in Greek, kephale, actually means a head, like the part of your body where your face and brain are. Figurative meanings like the head of a river are secondary and derive from the literal meaning of a head on a body.

Second, the Biblical passages in question clearly use head and body metaphors for the relationship between husband and wife, not river metaphors.

Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Note here that the analogy given is that the husband and wife are like Christ and the church. Just as Christ is the head and the church is the body of Christ, so husband is to be the head over his wife and treat her as his own body by cherishing her. So this is clearly a head/body comparison, not talking about the head of a river. Just read the context. It's clear.

Third, we see that the very text using this head metaphor clearly states that wives are to submit to their husbands. So again, we have clear contextual evidence to show us this is about submission to authority. It doesn't make any sense for Paul to be commanding wives to be sure they originate from their husbands because he's the head and she's the river. That's not what it says. The Bible says submit. This is about authority.

Fourth, the husband is not the source of his wife. My source is my parents, not my husband. The ONLY case where the husband was actually the source of his wife was Adam and Eve, but that doesn't apply to any other marriage. So it doesn't make sense for Paul to tell people in his day (or people in our day) that the husband is the source of his wife. If anything, that's way weirder than teaching that the husband is in authority over his wife. I mean, think about how weird it would be if Paul was really telling us that the husband is the origin and source of his wife in some way, like that she doesn't exist as a person until she marries and somehow originates from her husband. Creepy. I think I'll stick with the Biblical teaching, thanks.

This line of argument that head only means source and not authority is just a really bad attempt to get around the clear teaching of scripture. It has been repeated so often that people just keep passing it around, but it doesn't take a scholar to see that it doesn't fit the Biblical text.

The Bible does actually teach that husbands have authority over their wives to which the wives have a responsibility to submit. It's not an unlimited authority, obviously. Only God has unlimited authority. But an authority structure in marriage where the husband leads and the wife submits is taught in scripture.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Homosexuality Violates the Design of our Bodies

Homosexuality, at its root, says that my body tells me nothing about how I should function sexually, and that I can do what I feel like rather than fulfilling the design of my sexuality which is rooted in the biology of the human body. This treats the body as if it is inconsequential and pointless - just a shell of meat that we wear rather than part of who we are. The "true self" in this view is the soul or mind or some non-physical entity that is inhabiting our bodies. The body is viewed as separate and unconnected to the true self, to be used as we please.

This mind/body dualism is actually a very low view of the body compared to the traditional Christian view, which says the body is inherently good, created by God, and part of who we are, not just a shell we inhabit. A lot of Christians today have lost this understanding, but this has been the historic Christian view since the beginning.

This presents a powerful way to reach those struggling with homosexual desires or similar issues (like transgenderism) with a positive message that their bodies are not irrelevant to who they are, but are good and integral parts of their being. Our bodies do have a lot to show us about who we are because they exhibit features that have a design. Behaviors that fit with our design are good and behaviors that violate our design are bad - not just morally bad, but bad for us as well.

Rather than a negative message that they are evil and twisted for having same-sex desires, we can present a positive message that their bodies are good. Our design tells us how we should live.

For example, we can study the digestive system to see what it is for and how it works. But that study also shows us good ways and bad ways of treating our bodies. If we eat nutritious food, then our bodies are helped. If we eat junk food or overeat or binge and purge or starve ourselves, these violate the way our bodies are supposed to work and cause harm. We can see that anorexia and bulimia are disorders precisely because they violate the way the body is designed to work.

It is exactly the same with the sexual organs. Our bodies have a way they were designed to work. They are designed as either male or female and the sexes are designed for their sexual organs to fit together and through that action to create new life. Our desires or attractions do not trump the design of our bodies. If we treat our bodies incorrectly, it causes harm.

This is a high view of the body that treats the body as an important part of who we are and which gives us valuable clues about how we should live so that we can flourish. Note that we do not have to rely on Christian moral teaching at this point. This is an argument from natural law, which is accessible to anyone, even if they don't believe the Bible. And that makes it easier to reach those who are not Christians.

It is worth noting at this point that Christian teaching, not coincidentally, is in line with what we can see in nature. This is good evidence for the truth of Christianity. Christian morality doesn't violate our design. It fits perfectly.

For more arguments like this about the design of human bodies and human sexuality, check out my new book The Bible and Science on Gender, Sex, and Marriage.