Monday, October 22, 2018

Sermon: Common Trials, Uncommon Heritage (1 Cor. 10:1-13)

Here is the audio for my sermon preached on Sunday at Providence Reformed Presbyterian Church, on 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, entitled "Common Trials, Uncommon Heritage."

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The main question to professing Christians who claim to be for the repeal of S377A

[Note: S377A, or Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, criminalizes homosexual sex acts between men. The exact wording is as follows:

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

The law is a legacy of British Common Law, and passed to Singapore as Singapore was a former British colony.]

As the churches in Singapore continue to have to deal with the issue of S377A, a considerable number of liberal-minded professing Christians and at least one "Gospel-centered" church have decided to either side with the repeal camp, or to not take a stand on the issue. Given that, as I have shown, upholding S377A is a biblical justice issue, such response are extremely disappointing to say the least. But to cut through the pro-repeal rhetoric from these professing Christians, here is one question that would immediately clarify the issues involved:

Question: Does society owe God and His law anything? Yes or No?

If the answer is yes, then it means that society owes God righteousness, which is biblically defined as obedience to God's moral law as expressed in natural law. But if this is disputed, then please show from Scripture how "righteousness" can be defined without reference to God's moral law.

If the answer is no, then the person has denied the universality of God's law, which means we can question whether the person has a biblical understanding of the doctrine of Creation and the Lordship of God over ALL of creation. Such a person seem to have a view of Christianity as a faith dealing with the spiritual only, or even worse, such a person does not think creation owes the Creator God anything!

Or, such a person merely asserts the view that there is a separation between one's personal faith and how one lives in society. In other words, an anti-religious view of secularity trumps the public outworking of the Christian faith, man-centeredness trumps God-centeredness in thought. And probably the worst of the whole lot, is that one does not want to "offend" unbelievers. But the Gospel message begins with a realization of sin, and how does one bring them to faith if they are still unrepentant of their sins? Such a sentiment is what led to the "Revoice" conference in the US, where a PCA church out of misplaced "compassion" lied to those struggling with SSA that their sin is trivial and do not need to be repented of in order to enter the Kingdom of God. That is not the true Gospel, and such "Gospel-centeredness" is contrary to the Gospel message of Jesus Christ! And this is so obviously false as well, and one can easily see that if one substitutes any other sin. Does a desire to want to win child traffickers for Christ means that one should strike down laws against child trafficking? Does a desire to want to win murderers for Christ means that one should strike down laws against murder?

Unfortunately, from my experience, these professing believers who are promoting these false teachings are not willing to consider that they might be wrong. Thus, they dishonor Christ with their unbiblical stance on S377A, and promote injustice while trying to appear "compassionate" and "loving."

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Response to an article by a professing Christian on S377A

[Note: S377A, or Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, criminalizes homosexual sex acts between men. The exact wording is as follows:

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years.

The law is a legacy of British Common Law, and passed to Singapore as Singapore was a former British colony.]

On the LGBT-friendly Rice media, a person called "Joshua Tan" claims to be a Christian yet argues for the repeal of S377A. We of course are not told which church he is a member of, and it is not uncommon for people to call themselves "Christians" only because their parents are Christians. Be that as it may, without pre-judging the man, I would like to respond to this article and show how it falls short of an actual biblical response to the issue of S377A.

The first thing to take note from the beginning is how Tan has imbibed into the liberal rhetoric and somehow has gained the ability to discern the inner hearts of other Christians. According to Tan, Christians who support S377A are doing it "out of fear," and are "reactionary, fearful" and use "militant language." That they might be some who support S377A out of fear is a possibility. Just as possible are some who support the repeal of S377A out of fear of being seen as "unloving" to LGBT people. So what does this supposed observation do besides poisoning the well? This kind of rhetoric is baseless and does not serve to advance any conversation. Its only goal is to paint one's ideological opponent as an irrational person, prior to any actual discussion, so that one's opponent is "guilty until proven innocent."

Tan's first error is in misinterpreting S377A as stating that "I would like my fellow Singapore citizens to be subject to caning and jail for engaging in private sexual acts." First of all, S377A even if enforced only imposes a jail term without caning. Second, would Tan agree that some measure of legal punishment should be meted out for the extremely private sexual acts of consensual incest or beastiality? If not, why not? According to his supposed principle that ANY consensual and private sexual act should not be criminalized, then one should get the State out of the business of punishing consensual incest, consensual pedophilia, and consensual beastiality! If Tan however disagrees with any of these, then he actually thinks the State should be involved in some kinds of "private sexual acts." Will the LGBTQ+ media and supporters make up their minds? Should the State be involved in private sexual acts at all? If not, then please state clearly that the State should have no business criminalizing any form of private sexual acts as long as it is "consensual," however one gets to define the term! Please state openly and clearly that you want incest, pedophilia and beastiality decriminalized as long as they are "consensual."

But back to Tan's points. Tan's first point is that pluralism in a modern society means that we must empathize with people different from us and be generous to those "whose practices are different from ours." We note here that Tan has confused practical pluralism with philosophical pluralism on the one hand, and confused empathy with affirmation. On the one hand, pluralism is a practical reality in many societies like Singapore. But just because there is pluralism does not imply that all values and all practices are equally valid and equally to be affirmed, in some version of philosophical multiculturalism. Philosophical multiculturalism here is basically relativism of cultures and relativism of ethics. Tan confuses the presence of differences with relativity of differences, as if a culture that harms women should be celebrated as much as a culture that protects women! Or a culture that practices female genital mutilation is to be treated as no worse than a culture that does not have that barbaric practice! Once one see what the issue is here, then one realizes that Tan is here not in line with Scripture, and even more he is not in line with basic common sense either. For if Tan were true to his relativism, then surely he should practice what he preaches and he should empathize with the Christians he is castigating, and celebrate the fact that we are standing in support of S377A despite him not agreeing with it!

Tan also confuses empathy with affirmation. One can empathize with another person without affirming that other person, and even more so when it comes to sins. If to empathize with LGBT is to affirm their lifestyles and support repeal of S377A, does this mean that in order to empathize with murderers one must affirm the rightness of murder and advocate for repealing laws against murder? Thus we see the utter confusion in Tan's mind as he imbibes the liberal propaganda that claims that true love and empathy must begin with affirmation, a practice that would make nonsense when applied to any other sin and/or crime other people commit.

Tan's second point is in confusion over the issue of the slippery slope. The issue is not whether Christians should suddenly think the sky is falling, but rather we know what is going to come next. It is not wrong in a democracy to advocate for positions that will not result in anti-Christian discrimination and Christians being jailed for not baking a pro-LGBT cake! Being a Christian does not mean that we roll over and play dead, even though we know that God remains on the throne regardless. The exhortation to look to the eternal and not the temporal is precisely what standing for S377A is. For it is very possible, due to the lies of the LGBTQ+ lobby, that S377A will eventually be taken down in my lifetime. But we stand not just for some idyllic moral utopia but rather we stand regardless of whether S377A is held or repealed, because we stand by God's moral law in his natural law. It does not ultimately matter whether S377A is repealed or not, but Christians ought to be a witness for natural law nonetheless. If countries like Singapore want to follow the West and commit civilizational suicide, by all means do so, but we will not be silent.

Tan's third point is at best a red herring. He basically claims that Singaporean Christians' focus on "family values" is too narrow and should focus on other (leftist) causes. While there might be something to add to social advocacy on these other causes, those causes are independent of the LGBT issue. It is theoretically possible for someone to advocate for these other social causes and also for keeping S377A. I find it ironic here that someone essentially decrying Christians for focusing on the temporal is now asking Christians to focus on the temporal. Which is it, actually? But this is a typical sleight-of-hand of the Left, whereby they claim that those advocating for family values are too worldly for focusing on the LGBT threat, yet not worldly enough as they do not embrace Leftist causes. What exactly is the charge then: too worldly, or not worldly enough?

Now, should Christians deal with those issues? I believe that Christians should think about them inasmuch as they have the time to do so. However, thinking about them from a biblical perspective might not provide the type of answer Tan is looking for. But more importantly, what has that to do with whether Christians should support S377A? Tan's third point essentially boils down to "Don't fight for this cause, fight for my cause," and it is just as specious and without any real argumentation as it sounds.

We note in conclusion that Tan has yet to provide any real interaction with the argument, either from health statistics, or from natural law, for the keeping of S377A. Tan did not even deal with the issue of what secularity means in the Singapore context, and assumes that means religious relativism. Since that is the case, it must be said that Tan's article in Rice Media contributes nothing to the discussion on S377A besides poisoning the well, and should be ignored by all believing Christians.

[See also: Miscellaneous Questions concerning S377A and Christian witness]

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Miscellaneous questions concerning S377A and Christian witness

In light of the furor over S377A, here are some miscellaneous questions that I would like to address about the issue, from a factual and then a Christian perspective.

Factual Overview

Q1: What is S377A?

A: S377A, or Section 377A of the Singapore Penal Code, criminalizes homosexual sex acts between men in Singapore.

Q2: What does it say?

A: "Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or abets the commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross indecency with another male person, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 2 years."

Q3: Does it criminalizes homosexuality, or LGBT persons?

A: No, it extends only to homosexual sex acts, not to homosexuals. And it also pertains only to men, not women.

Q4: Does it give license for the government to discriminate against homosexuals?

A: No, it does not, because it pertains only to the sex acts, and in order for anyone to be prosecuted under it, there must be proof beyond reasonable doubt that the "commission" of "any act of gross indecency" has happened (i.e. innocent until proven guilty). And since the Singapore government has said it would not enforce it, the charge of discrimination is baseless. No police is going to break down someone's door in the middle of the night, check to see if two LGBT people are in bed with each other, then arrest them under S377A. Do the proponents of repeal actually think the police have nothing better to do with their time?

Q5: Whence did the law originate?

A: The law originated from British common law. As Singapore was a former British colony, we inherited her legal system when Singapore became independent in 1965.

Q6: Isn't the law a relic from the Victorian era?

A: The law did not originate from the Victorian era. But even if it were, to criticize the law based upon its time of origin is chronological snobbery and a commitment of the genetic fallacy.

Q7: Isn't the law archaic and regressive?

A: Just because any law had an ancient pedigree does not make it "archaic." Laws against murder go back all the way to the Code of Hammurabi and probably even earlier, so does this make laws against murder "archaic"? Most certainly not.

The charge of "archaic" and "regressive" are biased terms reflecting the conclusions of progressivism, without even the semblance of any argument that seeks to prove why any one law is either "archaic," "regressive," or "progressive." They are vacuous clichés that aim for maximum emotional impact without the necessary hard work of arguing that their position is right.

Q8: OK, but given what we know about human rights, isn't it a violation of human rights to deny sexual expression of LGBT individuals?

A: No, there is no human right to sexual expression or even sexual orientation, as law professor Thio Li-An has shown.

Q9: But despite what the global bodies might or might not say, objectively isn't it a human rights violation to deny LGBT people sexual expression?

A: It depends on how one defines "human rights." We can all definitely agree that human rights are not unlimited. For example, there is no human right to murder. Since human rights are not unlimited, therefore we must discuss the topic of human rights in conjunction with other topics like ethics and societal values. After all, how are "human rights" to be defined? Countries like the Netherlands think that there is a human right to suicide, as seen in their endorsement of euthanasia, but is suicide really a "human right"?

The issue of "human rights" boils down to the worldview of a society. It is not some "objective" thing out there, springing forth from the tabula rasa of pure human reason, for that is a mirage. The historic UN definition of "human rights" stems from old liberal secular humanism. If we use that as a basis for discussing "human rights," then we are back at question 8. Otherwise, then we need to discuss questions of ethics. To ignore the UN historic definition of "human rights," while sidestepping the issue of ethics altogether, then throwing accusations of "human right" violations at S377A, is logically fallacious and an act of pure ad-hominem argumentation.

Q10: Isn't S377A, and especially the supporters of S377A, "homophobic" and "bigoted"?

Such is mere character assassination, and cheap rhetoric from people who likely have little of substance in argumentation. The dictionary definition of "bigotry," according to Merriam-Webster, is "obstinate or intolerant devotion to one's own opinions and prejudices." So, if those who support S377A are willing to consider other opinions, while proponents of repealing S377A are unwilling to consider other opinions but rely on shouting down their opponents with slurs like "homophobia" and "bigotry," guess who are the real bigots? Yes, it is those arguing for repeal that are the real intolerant bigots.

Q11: Doesn't the removal of homosexuality from the APA diagnostic manual give us an objective measure of progress, and the fact that LGBTQ+ are normal and shouldn't be criminalized?

A: The reasons for removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders was not done objectively but due to intimidation by homosexuals. Any action done under duress is questionable, just as any "confession" achieved under torture is questionable as to its veracity. Therefore, the removal of homosexuality from the APA diagnostic manual holds absolutely no weight at all as to whether homosexuality is indeed a mental disorder or not.

Q12: If S377A is not going to be enforced, then shouldn't it be removed?

A: First of all, S377A is in the Constitution, which is slightly different from just any law. While I am unsure about the Singapore legal system, generally speaking, the constitution dictates the framework of a country. Thus, anything in the constitution does not necessarily have to be specific laws but about general principles of what is right or wrong.

One such utility of law is in its value of signposting, to indicate what should be the norm in society.

Q13: In discussions concerning S377A, many supporters of S377A argue that repealing it would lead to gay marriage and boys being allowed to go into girls' bathroom if they identify as a girl. Aren't such arguments slippery slope arguments and should be rejected?

A: They would be slippery slope arguments, EXCEPT such has already happened all around the Western world. Since we can actually see such a progression of events all around the world happening now, it is no more a slippery slope.

Q14: Isn't the campaign to support S377A driven by Christians and Muslims, and hence religious? But Singapore is a secular state, and thus we must respect the separation between religion and state.

A: First of all, even if only religious people (Christians and Muslims) support S377A, that does not necessarily mean that support for S377A is merely a religious issue. One actually has to look at and evaluate the arguments in support of S377A. If arguments based upon natural law and other issues of fact are presented, then to attack S377A merely because its supporters are (mostly perhaps) people of particular religions is to commit the genetic fallacy, not to mention to betray an anti-religious bigotry.

Secondly, it is false that the secular nature of Singapore implies a total separation of religion and state. A total separation of religion and state is found in the French republic, which in its doctrine of laïcité removes all religions from the public square. However, Singapore in article 15(1) of the Constitution grants freedom of religion and religious expressions, only qualified by one thing: public order (Article 15(4) of the Singapore Constitution). Therefore, the nature of Singapore's secularity is the separation of religious institutions from the state, but one's personal religion and religiously-informed opinions are free to participate in the public square.

Q15: So we should take note of non-religious arguments while rejecting religious arguments?

A: Not exactly. The non-religious arguments are the ones that could be discussed and debated in the public square with everyone. But religious arguments are there for followers of those religions to have their own internal discussions. And religious arguments have a utility in that religious people ARE part of society, and as part of society, they should not be ignored. If for example 80% of citizens are not for repeal of S377A, regardless of the merits of their arguments religious or otherwise, then one should not just deride and insult their religiosity and over-ride their objections just because one thinks one is on the "right side of history" (a Hegelian/ Marxist phrase at that). It must be reminded that one lives IN a society, and part of life in society is that one has to pay heed to other fellow citizens even if you believe they are absolute morons.

Q16: Are all arguments for or against S377A equally helpful for discussion?

A: No, not all arguments either for or against S377A are equally helpful. Some are dumb arguments. But everyone has a freedom to speak no matter how smart or stupid their arguments are. Do not assume anyone necessarily agrees with certain bad arguments you might have previously encountered.

Q17: You have mentioned many times about the "public square." What is it?

A: The "public square" is the space, online or offline, where people are supposed to be free to float ideas and arguments for the general public to read, dissect and discuss. It functions much like how the ancient public square, the Greek agora, was supposed to function.

Christian perspective

Q18: What is the Christian perspective on homosexuality and LGBT issues?

A: All of those are sin (c.f. Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:24-27).

Q19: Is sexual orientation not sin if there is no sexual act?

A: The language of "sexual orientation" is that of the world, not of Scripture. Furthermore, in Scripture sin is not limited to actions but also to thoughts and inclinations (Gen. 6:5, Ps. 51:5). So "sexual orientation" is still sin to be confessed and repented of, even though it is not on the same level as actually acting out in homosexual sex acts, in the same way as anger is a sin even though it is not on the same level as murder (c.f. Mt. 5:21-26).

Q20: What is the nature of the sin of homosexuality?

A: The sin of homosexuality and all other LGBT issues, is a sin in violation of the seventh commandment (c.f. Westminster Larger Catechism Q.139), a violation of God's moral law.

Q21: What is natural law?

A: Natural law (lex naturalis), or the law of nature, is the moral law of God inscribed onto the consciences of all humanity (Rom. 2:14-15). It is part of General Revelation, and upon it God will hold sinners who do not believe in God accountable for all their sins.

Q22: Is Natural law just the Old Testament Law, and thus just a short form for religious law?

A: No. Natural law is the general equity of revealed law, of which the Mosaic Law was an inspired application peculiar to the geopolitical entity known as Israel. As we can see in societies around the world, there is a general sense of law, for example against murder, that all societies hold to. That is because, as Scripture has stated, the natural law is written on the hearts of all Man, and impossible to erase, though it can be temporarily suppressed.

Therefore, to call for adherence to natural law is not the same as Theonomy, and definitely is not particular to any religion(s).

Q23: So what is the Christian's responsibility to natural law?

A: The Christian's responsibility is to obey the law of God, and thus to call people to obedience to God's laws. Since the moral law is given for the good of Man and thus of society, the Christian's responsibility in the civil sphere is to put forward the natural law as the basis for the laws of a nation.

Q24: Upon what biblical basis is a Christian to "impose" the natural law upon society?

A: Micah 6:8 states: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." The call for believers to do biblical justice, as a good work unto the Lord, is not optional. God's justice is not divorced from God Himself, and thus the justice of God stems from His Law. Therefore, as natural law is essentially God's moral law inscribed onto the consciences of Man, one aspect of doing justice is to call society to build her laws upon natural law.

Q25: Are you claiming that S377A is a justice issue?

A: Yes, I am claiming that supporting S377A is a justice issue, biblical justice in the social sphere.

Q26: Is there no room for legitimate Christian disagreement over S377A?

A: There might be, since obviously supporting S377A is an application of Scripture, not Scripture itself. But the onus is on those who reject my application of Scripture to refute it, not to ignore it or to engage in straw-men rebuttals.

Q27: Could any Christian possibly reject any of the answers to the Factual Overview (Questions 1-17), and therefore this whole exercise is highly partisan and not actually factual from the start?

A: It is of course possible. But is it probable? I doubt it. Anyone is welcome to attempt to dispute the facts in questions 1-17.

Q28: What about the topic of "human rights" for a Christian?

A: As mentioned in Question 9, if we want to discuss "human rights" in an objective manner, then we must discuss the topic of ethics. For a Christian, the primary source of ethics should be the Bible. More specifically for society, it is God's moral law as seen in natural law. For a Christian, "human rights" are dependent on God who gives these rights. God-given human rights are rights of human dignity based upon the Image of God in Man (Imago Dei) and what that entails, and it is a right to do good, not a right to do evil. One can look in vain, but there are no God-given rights to sin. Therefore, from a Christian perspective, there are no human rights for LGBTQ+, in the same way as there are no human rights for murder.

Q29: What is the role of the Church on issues of public morality?

The main role of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel, which means good news. Therefore, the Church as an institution should be totally apolitical. However, since S377A is a moral issue as well, the Church ought to speak to this issue in obedience to Scripture (c.f. Micah. 6:8). Given the potential for misunderstanding, the Church ought to be circumspect over how she speaks to the issue to make clear she is speaking to the morality of the issue, and attempt inasmuch as it is possible to steer clear of the political. Also, as part of the Church's corporate witness to the world, this issue should not enter into the preaching of the Gospel on any Lord's Day, but it can be in the teaching and CG sessions. The Church, in striving to honor her spirituality, is to be diligent in not letting even issues of moral concern to crowd into the Lord's Day preaching, but likewise, she should be diligent in maintaining a witness to society on issues of great moral concern.

Q30: What should be the Church's witness to the LGBT+ "community"?

A: The Church's witness to the LGBT+ "community" should be the same as to all other sinners: Repent and believe the Gospel. We are not to sugar-coat their sins or allow them to smother their consciences. We are not to soften the Law so that they *might* believe the Gospel, for that is the way to false conversions. It is not loving to say "peace, peace" when there is no peace (Jer. 8:11).

On the one hand, we are not to blunt the Law just so that we can appear more attractive, for that is not the way to true biblical conviction of sin. On the other hand, we are not to withhold the Gospel out of perhaps self-righteousness. The offer of the Gospel must be made known clearly, and who knows if God will one day convict them and grant them repentance unto faith. The problem with much of our Christian witness is that we swing to the extremes: some dull the Law out of a misplaced idea of "love," while others withhold the Gospel and make the Christian religion into a joyless soul-destroying legalism. Both extremes are wrong, and it no good for one side to point out how much better they are than the other side.

The Christian witness to the LGBT+ "community" should be loving yet firm. She is to witness to God's righteousness and the righteousness of God in Christ, missing neither.

Q31: Ought the church to teach her congregants of the rationale behind support for S377A?

A: Yes. Along with the corporate witness, the church ought to teach her congregants concerning why it is Christian to support S377A. If the church does not teach her members how to think biblically, the thought patterns of the world will rush in and undermine their faith. After all, we are told to renew our minds (Rom. 12:2), and God has given teachers to his church (1 Cor. 12:29; Eph. 4:11).

Q32: Why fixate on homosexuality and S377A?

A: We don't fixate on the issue except only in response to current events. The Church ought to teach her congregants how to think biblically on all matters, not just on homosexuality.

Q33: How is the Christian to view activism for and against S377A?

A: The Christian as an individual is free to partake (or not partake) in activism for S377A, and is not free to partake in activism against S377A (as homosexuality is against natural law). However, if a Christian can come up with some remotely plausible reason(s) for rejecting S377A, he is welcome to put forward his view without censure from the Church, as long as he can justify it while stating his clear and unambiguous adherence to the sinfulness of homosexuality. This is the Christian doctrine of the freedom of the Christian conscience (c.f. Westminster Confession of Faith 20.2-3), where believers are free where Scripture is silent and bound where Scripture is explicit.

From a corporate standpoint, since the Church ought to witness on the basis of morality, the Church must stand firm on the keeping of S377A as an expression of natural law. While individual members can disagree due to competing social values, the Church ought to prioritize the Law of God and therefore that should be her focus.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Rebekah and the consequences of doing God's things our way

[This is based upon my Bible reading for today]

The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”

(Gen. 25:23)

Isaac loved Esau because she ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. (Gen. 25:28)

But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” (Gen. 27:11-13)

The story of Isaac's favoritism and Rebekah's deception is a sad story about division within the covenant family of God. Isaac was given a prophecy from God at the birth of the twins Isaac and Esau, and if he had heeded God's Word he would have given God's blessings to Jacob when the time was right. However, Isaac favored Esau over his brother Jacob and in his favoritism he was willing to defy God and give Esau God's blessings instead. We note also in Genesis 26:34-35 that Esau had taken unbelieving women to be his wives, which were a source of sorrow to both Isaac and Rebekah. That action by Esau should in and of itself invalidated his claim to the blessings of God, if Isaac had actually paid attention. But in his spiritual blindness, Isaac overlooked all the many circumstances that disqualified Esau, and moved to pass God's blessings to Esau nonetheless.

In God's providence, Isaac's spiritual blindness was reflected in his near physical blindness. Rebekah stepped in to prevent the looming catastrophe of Isaac's folly and so preserve the covenant promises of God to His people. To do that, she schemed a devious plan to deceive Isaac such that Isaac would bless Jacob while thinking he was blessing Esau. We stop to note that what Rebekah desired was good— that Isaac blessed Jacob in accordance with the prophecy from God. But instead of asking God for intervention and/or remonstrating with Isaac, Rebekah came up with a pack of lies to execute the plan of God. Knowing the sins involved in the deception, Jacob feared for God's curses only to have Rebekah claimed the curses to fall upon her instead. Rebekah's deception succeeded! Jacob took the blessing and the covenant lineage was preserved. But it came about through a pack of lies! Does the means justify the ends? Well, God's redemptive plan is not thwarted, but should it have come about through sin, for indeed Rebekah's scheming is sin?!

We note that Rebekah called for the curse of God to fall upon her for her scheming, if any. The question we should ask then is: what subsequently happened to Rebekah? Here we note that the last scene where Rebekah was present is Genesis 27:46, and then we do not see her anymore. In Genesis 27:43-45, we see Rebekah stating that she will send for Jacob when Esau's temper has cooled, and we know that that obviously did not happen. Given that the next time Jacob met Esau was twenty years later (c.f. Gen. 31:38, 32:6), we can deduce that Rebekah must have passed away sometime within that twenty years. Rebekah passed away early in life, and from the time of her deception to her death she could not see her favorite son Jacob. Thus, we note that the curse of God did indeed fall upon Rebekah. For although she desired what was right, yet she went about it through sin. Taking on the curse of God on behalf of Jacob, her life was cut short earlier and she suffered maternal anguish in being separated from her favorite son. So God had indeed punished her for her sin, despite the fact that what she did put God's redemptive plan on the right track.

Thus, we see that the means does not justify the ends. Pragmatism as a ministry philosophy is spiritually bankrupt. To appeal to pragmatic reasons apart from Scripture and biblical exegesis is sin. While God might not cut short our lives or separate us from our loved ones until our deaths now, there are still consequences for sin, even if our sin practically advances the kingdom of God. God's things must be done in God's way, or not at all.