What do we say to those in Church who feel we as Christians should not be involved in politics?
Eric Metaxas has some very hard truths for these people, and also brings insights into how proponents for the so-caled 'Safe Schools' program and same-sex marriage are the same groups.
ERIC METAXAS ON VOICE FOR VALUES
TUESDAY 24TH MAY 2016
Lyle Shelton: Well hello and welcome to Voice for Values. It’s Lyle Shelton from the Australian Christian Lobby. It’s great to have your company. This week’s edition is a special one where I pick up my conversation with the New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas. Regular listeners will know that Eric was visiting Australia last month as a guest of the Australian Christian Lobby and I sat down with him at our conference in Sydney and interviewed him. It was a fascinating discussion. Today’s episode picks up on the discussion we were having on the issue of marriage and whether it should be re-defined, this issue of Safe Schools which teaches our children that their gender is fluid and this is very topical in the midst of this election period where we’ve had Bill Shorten and the Labor Party just last week announcing that they will be funding the Safe Schools program if they win the election. They’ve also said that they will scrap the marriage plebiscite which takes away the ability of you and I to have a say in whether marriage is re-defined in Australia. It’s a crucial issue. Eric’s insights are fascinating and very important at this time. We also discuss in the interview what it means to be a real Christian and that which animated some of the heroes of the faith that Eric writes about in his books. Have a listen. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this week’s discussion with Eric Metaxas.
We’ve talked about the fact that our government is giving us a say on this issue of marriage. There will be a national vote, a plebiscite, where people can resolve this issue. In your country, it was resolved by the Supreme Court. It overrode the democracy but here we have a say, and since you’re cutting the chase, I’ll cut to the chase too. It bothers me that there’s many voices in the church, even in the evangelical church, that say well we don’t really need to get involved in this fight. It’s a second order issue and it’s inevitable and yet we see today, particularly again bought into sharp focus in Wendy’s presentation that the marriage issue is a proxy for other things and it’s the same people who are pushing the redefinition of marriage, that are pushing these Safe Schools…
Eric Metaxas: That’s the point.
Lyle Shelton: So we have people in the church saying look, you know we don’t need to get involved here.
Eric Metaxas: Look, there will always be people like that and they will always be wrong and God will judge them. There’s nothing to say.
Lyle Shelton: You really do cut to the chase.
Eric Metaxas: Yeah. I mean I guess the point is when you’re talking about children, what? Am I going to be polite? You’re going to talk about sexual things to my child or my grandchild? The hell you are. That’s not appropriate. That’s absolutely not appropriate so to pretend, well it’s a minor issue, they want blue drapes, we want red you know, let’s not make a big issue. What is a bigger issue than people that you have not given the authority to, trying to talk to your children about things that you would barely talk to your children about? It’s inappropriate. People should be up in arms. I mean this is a case where you have to be careful about the politics. You don’t want to look like maniacs but the point is I promise you there are people all over this country that if you make the case to them, they will go yes, that’s crazy. I hadn’t heard about that and the reason they hadn’t heard about it is that they’re working really hard to support their families. They don’t have time to you know, read the literature so you’re doing them a favour by being their voice basically. But I think that what I would say is that you have to challenge the other side. Let’s face it. I mean, when people call you a bigot, they don’t have the argument, they know they don’t have the facts of the argument on their side. They have power. They’ve got the side guys blowing like a wind on their back and they just want to roll you over before the conversation happens because if that conversation happens and they have to answer these questions, they might look bad. So they don’t want to have that conversation. They want it to happen really quickly and in the United States, that’s what happened. It happened fairly quickly. I mean, I’ll say what I said yesterday at the Christian Media Association that what about the fifteen year old boy? He’s struggling with his sexuality, right? If you care about that boy, if you really care about that boy which the gay activists do not, you would say, what do you want, fifteen year old boy? And there’s a good chance he’ll say, well I’d really like to have a family and marry a woman and have kids but I have these flickers of same-sex attraction and I’m being told that means I am gay, it’s a fatalistic thing, and I must go in that direction and I must be happy about it, that I have no real choice. Now I say, if you really love that boy, you would at least say to him, of course you have a choice. You can do what you like. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are. You know, this cuts both ways, right? You can choose your gender but you can’t choose, you know, if I have a flicker of same-sex attraction then I must go with that. Who says? Again it’s part of this narrative that once you question it, it falls apart. But nobody has the time to question it. It keeps moving forward. It’s the same logic as if I say well, I had an adulteress longing this week and somebody says, it proves you’re an adulterer. You need to find that woman and sleep with her. Don’t you understand you’re oppressing your sexuality if you don’t? You’ve got to do something here. Don’t let society tell you to stick with your wife. You’re not going to be happy. You must act on your adulteress desires. Isn’t that the same thing? It’s to say that you are your instinct, whatever your instinct, your desire is, no matter how sinful it is, you’ve got to go with it. When has society ever said that? But that is what our society is saying today. Then of course you have to ask the question, if I have a sincere desire to sleep with somebody who’s eight years old, who are you to tell me that’s wrong? It’s a real desire, so you’re telling me to stuff my desire and you can have a happy life? I mean, this argument has to be taken all the way in every direction…
Lyle Shelton: Yep.
Eric Metaxas: …and you have to begin to understand that some desires are unhelpful and to pretend that that’s not the case is incredibly destructive to all of society but we don’t have those kinds of conversations so I would say, make the other side or let the other side acknowledge that they don’t want to have the conversation, that they prefer to call you names and protest but if you have a real conversation where you have to respect each other, it’s not going to go very well for their side.
Lyle Shelton: So Eric, just on that, and I don’t want to stay on this issue too much longer, but the Sydney Morning Herald last week – you had some press coverage before you even got here in our major papers – so I’m suspecting that you said something very similar to what you’ve told us there now about you know, a young person who wants to get some help and is struggling, so the headline is that you believe in gay reparative therapy.
Eric Metaxas: Right but this is the point is that it’s all about smearing people, right, because if you talk to people who’ve been involved in gay reparative therapy, they will tell you it’s a mixed bag. They’re not going to say, oh it’s 100 per cent evil or it’s 100 per cent whatever. It’s kind of complicated, right, but we now live in a culture where unless you say it’s all bad, you’re crazy. Well the fact of the matter is, it’s simply not that simple. We can’t talk about the facts. We have to grab on to these big narratives and ride them off the cliff and so to me, the idea that you can’t even suggest that it might work or that it has worked or whatever, you can’t even bring it up. Now I never did bring that up but I guess my point is, I wasn’t even talking about reparative therapy. I’m talking about the idea that there are people who have conflicted sexuality, right, you know listen. Anybody who’s sensitive to themselves understands we are all screwed up. I mean, that’s the heart of Christian doctrine, right? So it’s not that he’s screwed up, we are all screwed up and we’re all broken sexually. We start there and then the Lord allows us to direct our sexuality in healthy ways and helps us by the power of the Holy Spirit to do what is good and right. Now if everybody’s in that bag, doesn’t it make sense that there are people who have some decisions to make? Some people who have, you know, same-sex attraction mixed in with other sex attraction and the culture says, you’re gay. Now I think, okay where do you get that from? Clearly they get it from nowhere. They get it from wishful thinking because they have a narrative. In other words, this is called ideology. Ideology trumps facts. Ideology trumps discussion and I really think they have to be called out on it and that’s basically what happened to me is that I was, I mean it wasn’t just that they twisted what I said, they out and out made stuff up and you made it clear to me that it was posted in a major newspaper. I have to ask, what is the state of journalism in this country that, that’s something extraordinary. Somebody who writes lies should lose their job.
Lyle Shelton: You’re listening to my interview with Eric Metaxas at the recent Australian Christian Lobby national conference in Sydney. I hope you’re enjoying it. We’ll be right back after this break.
Welcome back to part two of my interview with Eric Metaxas recorded at the recent Australian Christian Lobby national conference in Sydney.
I really appreciate being able to have this conversation and this is the genius, I think, of what you do on your radio program, what you’ve done through your books. You help us to be able to say, have these sort of talks that we’re all too afraid to have. I can’t imagine any Australian minister even, oh there are some, I need to be careful, but these are not easy conversations to have because we’re all fearful of political correctness. Just moving on Eric, your books have been incredibly inspiring and I love the fact that in the Wilberforce and Bonheoffer books and in your 7 Women and 7 Men books, you write about these heroes of the faith but a common denominator in them all, whether they’re Roman Catholic or some Anglican or some other non-conformist faith, there’s a living faith behind these people that animated their ability to do exploits and you know, we tend to look at these figures and not realise this is at the heart of it. So you look at a guy like Bonheoffer, you know, captured by perhaps liberal theologians but this guy had a genuine, living faith in Jesus.
Eric Metaxas: Oh absolutely and he was not liberal theologian. This is another one of these ridiculous things the academics kind of kidnapped him for fifty years and I unwittingly rescued him, I would say, because I just writing my book and I thought, how strange? I had no idea what a robust Christian he was. I got the idea that toward the end of his life he kind of skidded over into agnostic humanism. Nothing of the kind ever happened. It’s unbelievable but he had a robust faith. In fact at the heart of his faith, because this gets to what you were saying, is the idea that unless you live your faith, you do not believe. Now let’s think about that for a second. The problem with evangelicalism is we’ve gone and bought into this enlightenment idea of it’s all what I believe, these rational tenets. You know, I believe in predestination. I believe in this, I believe in that and I think the devil and God both say, who cares what you say? I can see how you live your life, what you actually believe and if you believe Jesus rose from the dead and died for you, you will behave differently. And if you’re not behaving differently, you don’t really, really believe it. You can say you believe it but you don’t really believe it because it’s not about intellectual belief; it’s about, it’s the difference between faith and trust, right, now I think the word is mistranslated that we think of faith as something I believe in my mind to trust in something. I mean, the example I always like to give is, maybe you’ve heard of it, but the guy who says, you know, he puts a tightrope across Niagara Falls right and he has a wheelbarrow and he says, how many people here believe that I can wheel this wheelbarrow across the other side you know with a hundred pounds inside? How many people believe I could do it? Everybody raises their hand right? And he says to one guy, ok get in. Isn’t that the difference? It’s very easy to say, oh I believe it but it’s like do you really believe it? We’ll find out how much you believe it. Are you going to get in the wheelbarrow? That’s our job. Do we really believe these things or do we simply say it? If you believe it, you’ve got to live it and I think that somehow these people have modelled that for us to say that God calls us to live our faith in one way or the other.
Lyle Shelton: We think of Wilberforce as this heroic parliamentarian. We knew he’s a Christian but one of his real concerns was the fact that Christians in quote quote Christians in England weren’t living out their faith. He actually wrote a book called Real Christianity, I think that’s the short version, but he made a comment and it’s in your book, he says: Christianity has always thrived under persecution for there it has no lukewarm professors.
Eric Metaxas: I love that phrase. No lukewarm professors.
Lyle Shelton: It’s not professors like Steve Sciwora was.
Eric Metaxas: No, no, no. Those who profess. Yeah. Lukewarm professors. Well I think it’s a fact that none of us asked to be born when he is born but here we are and things are where they are and really we ought to count it a high privilege. Jesus appointed you for this hour. You’re not supposed to living in a safer time. You’re supposed to be living right now and it is a high privilege for us to get to live out our faith right now. When we got to glory, it’s all over. You don’t get to go back and be heroic. It’s over. This is it. This is it right here and I think of David Wilkerson, my former pastor in New York City, wrote the Cross and the Switchblade…
Lyle Shelton: You are a Pentecostal.
Eric Metaxas: What’s that?
Lyle Shelton: You are a Pentecostal.
Eric Metaxas: Oh I’m a hothead. I’m crazy.
Lyle Shelton: The chairman of my board is Baptist so…
Eric Metaxas: Right, right. You know Isaiah was actually Methodist. I don’t know if you know that, yeah.
But what I was going to say was that David Wilkerson and his church, he preached this sermon called ‘Right Song, Wrong Side’ and it was this, that the Israelites when they were up against the Red Sea, you know they’re freaking out basically and you know crying out to God and of course God parts the Red Sea and they go through and then they sing this song on the other side, you know, this song of praise, God you’re so great and he says well, really they ought to have sung that song before God parted the Red Sea. Isn’t that true? In other words, God says, what do you think? I’m good now because I parted the Red Sea? I’m the same God before I parted the Red Sea but you didn’t worship me as such. You’re worshipping the results. We need to worship God for the victory now and we will not get a chance. Once God does the thing, it’s like you don’t get that extra credit anymore. Now like any fool will praise God, right? So think about it. As parents, you know, if somebody trusts you before you give them what they’re looking for, that’s faith. We have an opportunity now to trust God and to live that kind of faith, not sort of checking your watch, has God done it yet? Has God done it yet? Live as though He is the God of scripture, the victorious Lord of Hosts. Worship Him now before He does these things. You don’t get the opportunity once He does it and once we get the glory. As I say, it’s game over. This is it so it’s a high privilege for us right now to serve Him with everything we have. Right now. We won’t have this opportunity forever. We have it this minute and this day and this week and this year and we need to live in that. That’s what God is calling His church to do and that’s the difference between a living church and a dead church.