A Time For TearsErwin W. Lutzer | June 14, 2015
Selected highlights from this sermon
Our world is broken, and many people are trying to repair the damage, to their own peril. Let’s reach out with love to those who are hurting, who are lost in this age of sexual and gender confusion.
We need to stand up for the children who aren’t able to see masculinity and femininity modeled. Let us act with compassion, even as we lovingly hold out the biblical truth. Together, let us seek Jesus, the only One who can provide true rest and salvation.
The title of my sermon today is A Time for Tears. I get this title from the book of Jeremiah, the prophet who said, “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears that I might weep day and night for the slain daughter of my people.”
In an age in which common sense no longer carries any weight, in an age in which there are many deceptions, perhaps all that we can really do is to pause to weep. We weep before God, asking Him for grace for ourselves and for our country, but we also weep because of broken hearts. What you and I have to understand is that the world is broken and people are trying to fix themselves, and oftentimes they are doing that in very destructive and wrong ways.
I preach this message for the parents so that you might know what is happening in our culture, and happening to your young people in schools, and what they are being bombarded with in the media. I also speak, of course, for the young people, who indeed are the recipients of many myths and many lies in our culture. You know, it was George Orwell who said that in a day of universal deception, speaking the truth is a revolutionary act, so I believe that in a day when there are many deceptions, by God’s grace, I hope to speak truth to the situation.
Now I need to emphasize that I don’t want you to think that I’m up here on a perch judging and condemning situations and people. I want you, rather, to think of me as coming alongside of you on the path of life and pointing out some very false paths. If you find that you are disagreeing with me, perhaps even angry with what I am saying, we want you to know that we want to be your friends because I think it is important for all of us to have friends who disagree with our position, even on this issue, because then we can understand one another better. Trust me when I say that my heart is very heavy regarding this message. It’s not the kind that I would necessarily like to preach, but feel necessary to preach to unload the burden of my heart as we think of our culture and our children.
My main text today is from the book of Genesis, chapter 1, verses 26 and 27. You already know the verse. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the heaven, over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.”
We are living in an age today of gender rebellion, the likes of which has never happened in history before. Certainly there have been times of homosexuality in ancient cultures as today, but the gender rebellion is relatively new. The message that I’m preaching was inspired by Time Magazine that had an article recently – Meet the New Generation of Gender Created Kids. In the article it speaks about a retreat for gender not conforming children. Boys get to wear girls’ clothes. These are children from ages 6 to 12. And the article says they don’t know what gender they will eventually be. Some will be transgender, others gender conforming or fluid gender, staying somewhere in the middle, so the camp has gender variant children.
Listen to this study that was done in England: “Raising children in societies that adhere to rigid gender roles with fixed ideas about what should be considered masculine or feminine can actually be detrimental to their physical and mental health.” What they did was they did a study with 14-year olds and they discovered that boys gravitate to be more rowdy. Girls don’t want to do sports because that’s a boy thing, and so this is so very destructive. “Usually we think of gender roles as natural and biological, but they are not. We actually construct gender in ways that have problematic and largely unknown health risks.” Well, yeah, I guess the health risks would be unknown. So the way you do it is you feminize the boys and you tell them that just because they are boys, they might actually be transgender and really they might be girls and then they’ll calm down. I wish I had more time in this sermon. I have more information than I can cover, but there are other ways to deal with bullying than to try to destroy gender identity.
In England there are kindergartens, as well as here (I received an email about this, this week) where no longer are children given free time to play because when they are given free time, the boys gravitate toward trucks. The girls go for the dolls and all that you have is more gender stereotypical behavior.
I will take time out to tell you about one survey where they said if you give girls trucks soon what they will do is they will become like boys. So they did that, and then a co-worker went into the room where the girls had the trucks and the girls answered the door and said, “Shhh, shhh, the trucks are sleeping.” (laughter)
Did you know that there are schools now where you can’t say boys and girls because that is just stereotyping gender? I received an article this week from someone who said that you are supposed to tell your doctor before the child is born, “Don’t tell us whether it’s a boy or girl,” because what you are doing is you are stereotyping gender right from the beginning when maybe this child will want to be reassigned a gender.
In Moody Church here there’s a couple where the wife is pregnant, and someone asked her, “Are you going to raise this child as a boy or a girl?” Friends, we are losing our minds, and we are destroying (applause) all possibility of happy marriages where the man is supposed to be a man and the woman is supposed to be a woman. This is destroying our culture and our future generations.
Now, if you add sexual training to the mix, the fact that children are taught and given sexual instruction in school, what you have are children who are sexualized. They are introduced to sexuality very early, and it will be very destructive.
Tammy Bruce is not in our camp. I could say more about that. She was the head of NOW in Los Angeles, but she has turned against the left and has really exposed it. And she says that the sexualization of children guarantees control of future generations. Now listen to what she says: “It also promises sex-addicted future customers on which the porn industry relies. By destroying those lives they strike the final blow to family, to faith, to tradition, to decency and to judgment. It is God who said, ‘I create them male and female,’ and to do anything to try to dilute that, to destroy it, to introduce children to the idea that they could be the opposite gender and allow all that to play on their minds, I cannot over-exaggerate the destruction that this is for our families.”
Now let’s go on to transgender reassignment surgery. A recent issue of our Chicago Magazine tells the story of a doctor who helps transgender kids switch sexes. His clients are age 18 to 4, but all of them feel as if they are trapped in the wrong body. The doctor says he’s helping them become their authentic selves. And I read the entire article and you must realize that the doctor actually believes very deeply he’s helping these children. There’s no doubt about it. His motives are good. He says when the kids are young he uses drugs to stop the children’s natural maturation process so that they can make the switch more easily. He has three psychiatrists, of course, to help the children to overcome anxiety and depression, but he is troubled by whether or not teenagers are in a position to make this irreversible surgery because most of them want it to be irreversible – the irreversible cure.
All of this now leads me to Bruce Jenner. What can we say about Bruce Jenner? First of all, what we have to say is a word of genuine compassion. Do you realize what it must be like? Apparently at the age of nine he feels as if he’s a girl but he has to keep this secret. We, as a congregation, and we as Christians need to be sensitive to people like this because today I could be speaking to people who are transgender. Maybe you’ve even had transgender surgery, and if you have, we want you to know that you are welcome here.
On at least two occasions, those who have had transgender surgery have talked to me after the service to get my opinion and some counsel, and there may be young people here who are struggling just like Bruce Jenner struggled, but they feel as if they cannot share their secret with anyone. I want Moody Church to be a safe place where you can share your secrets and know that you will not be condemned and shamed, for we want to help you along the path of life. (applause) Thank you.
Having said that, what can we say about Bruce Jenner? Well one thing we can say with authority is Bruce Jenner is a man. He is a man. (applause) His biology remains unchanged. He neurologically remains unchanged. His gender composition remains unchanged. Someone has rightly pointed this out. “No amount of wishing to be, claiming to be, feeling like, identifying as, using opposite sex pronouns, demanding that others call you by another name, or self-mutilation by hormones or surgery can ever change this biological fact that if you have a male DNA you are a man. (applause) The problem,” he says, “is that stating this biological fact is now considered to be hate speech. You’re not supposed to say this.”
I have an article before me and I’ll simply have to summarize it, but there is a man by the name of Walt Heyer, who wrote an article entitled I Was a Transgendered Woman. He talks about being brought up in a good home, but he went to his grandmother’s, and she always wanted him to be a girl, so she dressed him up in this purple chiffon dress. And that idea began to play on his mind until, as he grew older, he thought he was transgender. So, of course, the answer is surgery. But he says, “I knew I wasn’t a real woman no matter what my identification document said. Changing my gender was a masquerade.”
In another article someone says, “I was a synthetic woman. I was told I just had to give Laura more time.” Feeling depressed he turned to alcohol and drink and considered suicide, and then after that, his confusion worsened. Thankfully, he was able to make the trek back to manhood. He actually fell in love with a woman, and is happily married today. At the age of 56 he finally found himself and his true identity.
By the way, you know you learn things as you go along in life. Have you ever heard of transableism. Transableism is a new word that I hadn’t heard of but I’ve been introduced to now. Transableism is you are born with body parts that you don’t really think belong to you. So in Canada, for example, a man taught himself, and did a study on how he could amputate his arm without bleeding to death because he said that he always felt that his arm was really not a part of his body. It was not a part of who he was.
Now the transabled people are starting to come out of the woodwork now that we have transgenderism. And so I read that there are those who want to be made deaf. There are those who want to be made blind – amputees and so forth – because these body parts don’t really represent who they are. You say, “Well, that’s absurd.” Well, of course it’s absurd, but we live in a culture in which absurdity is no longer an argument against anything. There are all kinds of things that are absurd that are normalized on television no matter how absurd they are. You know, what we should really do is honor these people – transabled people – because they have the courage to become who they really are and to be true to themselves, which is really the last act of courage that you can do here in America – to be true to yourself. And if you are anorexic you can starve yourself to death because you want a body that is really true to who you really are.
Now with all of this I want to ask you a question in a moment. First of all, Julie Slattery wrote a very good article in which she quotes legendary Coach John Wooden as saying, “Being true to ourselves doesn’t make us people of integrity. Charles Manson was true to himself and as a result, he is rightly spending the rest of his life in prison.” Get the wisdom here of Coach. “Ultimately, being true to our creator give us the purest form of integrity.” (applause) Julie goes on to say, “You do your children a great disservice if you raise your child around their chosen form of identity.” Wow! Look at this statement. “The most important thing about your child is not who they are but who God is.” That’s a powerful statement.
Are we ready now for a statement from a famous psychiatrist? His name, by the way, is Paul McCue, the former Psychiatrist in Chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital, and who is the current distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry. Now I want you to understand this man’s credentials. He has written six books and 125 peer-reviewed articles. Imagine that! He has written 125 peer-reviewed articles, and he says this: “Transgenderism is a mental disorder that merits treatment. Sex change is biologically impossible, and the people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.”
By the way, as a word of encouragement, he also said that 80% of the time children who feel that they are transgender get over it and their feelings dissipate and they fall into the traditional role. I should also mention, and this is very, very sad, but I’ll mention it to you. According to him, those who have been transgendered by surgery have twenty times more possibility of committing suicide.
We ought to stop and we ought to weep. No wonder I entitled this sermon A Time to Weep. Can we just stop for a moment and realize the kind of confusion that is going on in the minds of people? And so, by no means am I saying that those of you who are struggling with this are mentally ill, but according to this doctor, it is something that he refers to as a mental disorder.
Now you have all of this enthusiasm regarding Bruce Jenner, and he is hailed for being true to himself because, as I mentioned, that is the very last act of courage we can do here in America, no matter what that means.
If I might throw in a verse of Scripture here, it says in the book of 2 Peter, speaking of false teachers, “These are waterless springs for speaking loud boasts of folly. They entice by sensual passions of the flesh, those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” Yes, well might we weep for people in brokenness, seeking an answer.
Now all of this leads me to same-sex marriage because that’s where all this really began. And so I’m going to tell you that a week or so ago I saw on television a very well-dressed man, a very articulate man, obviously well-educated, and he made a statement regarding those of us who are opposed to same-sex marriage. He said, “They can keep their bigotry to themselves but they have no right to impose their bigotry on the rest of us.” That’s an amazing statement. It’s absolutely amazing to think that this educated man would accept the cultural myths of the day and basically drink Kool-Aid.
Let’s take his statement just for a moment, and the whole idea is that we are opposed because we are bigots. Really! Have you ever heard of something like natural law? You know, there was a time in America when people who didn’t accept the Bible did accept natural law, which is natural all over the world. I hate to be so specific, but I will. What is more natural - a man and a woman cohabiting together, or two men? If you’ve ever read where that goes, you understand my question. And what is more natural? And furthermore, each of the people in same-sex relationships needed both a mother and a father. They needed both. The children that they want to adopt have had a mother and a father, so I have to ask you which is more natural in accordance to what is natural law that has been accepted all over the world for thousands of years? What is more natural?
And by the way, have you bought the myth, and it is a myth, that children adopted by same-sex couples do just as well and are just as well adjusted as those who have a mother and a father? Do you believe that myth? Let me ask you something? Doesn’t common sense itself tell you that, of course, it’s better for a child to have a father and a mother to model masculinity and femininity? Well, just in case you need a study to help you prove it, well, we have one for you.
There’s an article written by Loren Marks – there’s that study - and then Richard Regners at the University of Texas in Austin. Loren Marks is from Louisiana State University. And they’ve done extensive research, and they have proven that children brought up in same-sex relationships struggle more with depression, there’s more possibility of sexual abuse, and we put this entire article on our website. If you go to http://www.moodychurch.org/news/reports-family-structures-cited-june-14-message/, you can read it there for yourself. Of course, the article is going to be spoken against, because there are people who are very upset with it because the mythology that it doesn’t matter has to continue.
Have you ever heard of Heather Barwick? She wrote an article entitled Dear Gay Community, Your Kids Are Hurting. Now she’s a child advocate that you should get to know. She tells the story of being raised by two women – two mothers. She commends them for their love, for their care for her, and she says that growing up, even into her twenties, she supported gay marriage. But as she matured she began to see more clearly the effect that same-sex partnering had on her. Now as a married woman with children, she can see the beauty and the wisdom of traditional parenting. And then she continues, and let us read this with tears: “Same sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or a father from the child while telling him that it doesn’t matter, that it’s all the same. But it is not. A lot of us kids are hurting. My father’s absence created a hole in me. I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mother and her partner, but another woman (another mother) could have never replaced the father that I lost. I grew up with women who said they didn’t need a man, yet as a little girl I so desperately wanted a daddy. It’s strange and confusing to walk around with this deep unquenchable ache for a father in a community that says that men are unnecessary. Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. We are told that we will be okay, but we are not. We are hurting. Children of same-sex couples are not given a voice. It’s not just me. It’s so many of us who are too scared to speak up and tell about our experience, our hurt and our pain because for whatever reason it feels like you’re not listening. If we say that we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater. Isn’t it amazing that no matter how often society tells us it doesn’t matter, God created the male and female, and in the heart of every little boy and every little girl is the desire to have a mommy and a daddy.”
Now, of course, because of brokenness in heterosexual marriages you find single moms and you see all kinds of relationships, but for us to think that we should institutionalize (Let’s use her words), to normalize the family structure with two men or two women, as the case may be, deprives them, she says, of something very foundational.
Can we weep for our nation, and weep for our nation’s children? I tell you this hurts me very, very deeply.
Now let’s go to the other part of what the man said. “You are the folks who are promoting your bigotry, and imposing it on the rest of us.” Really! I mean, that’s amazing that a man can make a statement like that.
Have you heard about Arlene’s Flower Shop in Washington, and all that this old woman has endured simply because she refused to have some flowers for a same-sex wedding? Have you heard of Elaine’s Photography? Have you heard of these kinds of situations? But that’s just the tip of an iceberg. That’s just neither here nor there in comparison to the larger picture of imposing their agenda on the rest of us.
I think, for example, of Angela McCaskill. She was suspended from Gallaudet University for signing a petition to put Maryland’s same-sex legislation on the November ballot. She never even said whether or not she was for same-sex marriage or against it, but just for the idea that it should be even on the ballot, she was suspended. And here’s what makes us smile. The university said this because they said, “We only accept tolerance.” (laughter) So this is all done in the name of tolerance.
Do you remember CEO Brendan Eich who resigned from Mozilla under pressure, because eight years earlier he had given a thousand dollars to Proposition Eight, even though throughout his career he had never discriminated in terms of hiring practices? Well, that’s not good enough. He had to be pestered, shouted out of his position. So what we have today is what we are seeing.
Look at what happened in Indiana. We don’t have time to go into it in detail, but the governor just signed a bill, which gave a crumb to religious freedom. It never said that the people could discriminate. It’s just that it enabled religious people and guaranteed their ability to make sure that they could go to court if they felt that their religious rights were being violated. And that was shouted down – all of the propaganda regarding what it was going to do to the states. And businesses chimed in. And so what you have is the governor coming up with a bill that is really going to make it much more difficult for churches and all the rest. The idea is, and I don’t want to be too blunt here, to simply shout down any possible opposition regarding same-sex marriage, to shout it down. And articles are being written (I don’t have time to quote them all) in which they say that when the conflict happens between religious rights and same-sex rights, the religious community needs to bend all in the name of tolerance.
I told you that I think that before Illinois instituted same-sex marriage, several of us (actually about 20 African American pastors and I) met on the south side with the legislators – the two who were promoting it. And the original bill (and now I know it was changed) gave no protection to churches in the sense that if a worker here were to marry a same-sex partner, and you were to terminate them, you’d have a lawsuit on your hands. This was very clear. If you rent out your facilities to marriages, you have to rent them out to same-sex couples all in the name of tolerance. And we are the ones who are imposing our agenda on the nation. And he can say that with a straight face, and nobody rebukes him.
You know, there are some real dark things on the horizon that I will not go into – certainly the question of churches that are intolerant to lose their tax-exempt status, and all that is coming down the pike. And then even more personal intervention in the lives of those who do not accept same-sex marriage.
I want to say simply this, my brothers and sisters: This is what the Word of God says. Romans 1:21: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their imaginations. Their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man. Therefore God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts, to impurity, the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator who is God blessed forever. Amen.”
I want you to know today that I am not angry. I think that we as Christians have to simply accept the fact that, of course, we’re going to be called bigots. And we have to get over this foolishness of political correctness, which is destroying us and keeping us silent at a moment when we should be lovingly representing the Bible and God’s truth. Do I have a witness on that? (applause) We have to realize that when it comes to offending people that Jesus is the rock of offense. And we have to bear that badge and take it as a badge of honor. Of course we’re going to be misunderstood.
Now what do we do from here? First of all, I want to emphasize one more time the need for compassion, and I want to say to those of you who may be in this state of transgender (Perhaps you’ve had the surgery, struggling with homosexual desires.), you are welcome here, and this is a safe place to tell us your struggles so you don’t have to bear these struggles alone. We are here committed to help you on your journey. (applause) But the question is, where do we ask people to turn?
I want you to visualize for a moment the fact that Jesus Christ’s back is not toward you. Rather I want you to visualize Jesus with outstretched arms saying this, and please accept this as the words of our Lord: “Come unto Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls.” Jesus was talking about those who laid burdens upon one another religiously. The Pharisees had all these rules that you had to keep. “Oh, you don’t have enough rules yet? Well, here are some more for you.” And they couldn’t bear those rules themselves, and yet they were imposing those rules on others. I’m not asking you to impose some new rules upon yourself. I’m asking you to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ, to come to Him as you are, but to know that when you do come to Him, He’ll not leave you the way you came because He is the One who finally, in the midst of our guilt and our confusion and our wondering, gives us rest. (applause)
You know that doctor who I referenced earlier who does same-sex surgery on children? He said this in the article: “Sometimes I feel broken and I’m not sure I know how to put those pieces back together. I feel like all of this transgender work is trying to fill gaps or repair wounds, but I’m not sure that they are repairable.” And I say to him, “Come to Jesus to get rest.” (applause)
Something else to keep in mind is that all-transforming change begins with the human heart. And the Bible says this very clearly. It says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Behold all things have passed away. Behold all things have become new.” You see, that’s why we are not advocating that you just live up to some new rules. We’re talking about an inner transformation of the heart made by Jesus whereby when you were born again, there is something within you that wasn’t there before you were born again. There is a new nature, with new desires. It certainly doesn’t make us perfect but what it does do is give us hope on our journey so that we might stay on the path. And Jesus offers that.
Now here at Moody Church we have a lot of broken people, and that certainly is the case, and we welcome them, and we are glad that they are here. And one of the things they have discovered is that as they come to know Christ as Savior and begin to understand their personal relationship with Him, their identity is to be in Christ, as the verse says, and that means a whole new sense of purpose, a whole new sense of value because you belong to Jesus, because no matter who you are, you are created in God’s image, and you are valuable to God. But imagine being welcomed and received and cleansed by God.
People say, “Well, does homosexuality send me to hell?” Like Tim Keller says, “Homosexuality no more sends you to hell than heterosexuality puts you into heaven.” So we have to understand that that’s not the ultimate issue at all. The ultimate issue is your relationship with Jesus Christ. But what is it that stands in the way of that relationship?
Let me tell you a true story. About three weeks ago I flew from Washington D.C. to Chicago. Sitting beside me was a young man. I’d say he was thirty. His name was Joshua, a good biblical name. So of course I picked up a conversation with him and asked him where he was on his spiritual journey. And because he was brought up in a Christian home I said, “Are you a Christian?” He just laughed. He said, “I’m as far away from being a Christian as you could possibly be.” Why? Two things! First, his father was abusive and hateful under the name of being a Christian. Second, he began to have intellectual doubts as to whether Jesus was the only way to God.
Well, of course, I helped him with the intellectual doubts because they were not the main problem. I’ve explained to this congregation many times before that Jesus is the only Savior. That distinguishes Him from all the gurus and all the prophets of the world, and He had the credentials to prove it. So that could be taken care of. What I couldn’t take care of was the hatred toward his dad. It’s an old story. “I hate my dad. I hate his God.” And if the truth were known, there are many of you here with broken relationships, broken childhoods, and you find it so difficult to come to Jesus because you’ve met some people who want to lead you to Jesus but who don’t look a whole lot like Him. They are condemnatory, full of shame! Could I encourage you to overcome those barriers and come to the One who said these words: “Come to Me, and I will give you rest. And he who comes to me I will not cast out?” We actually have a Savior for people just like you, and for people just like me, and I commend Him to you in this very confused and hurting world.
Let us pray.
Father, we ask today that You will help us to be agents of mercy, of understanding. We ask, oh Lord God, that in the midst of this world You might help us as parents to shield our children from destructive lies in our culture. But at the same time help us to be involved in our culture, and to give you glory for the privilege of being able to assure people that Christ has found us, and He can find them too if they let Him. We ask in Jesus’ blessed name, Amen.