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Some things learned at the Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding 25th Anniversary and the Global Faith Forum (sponsored by Northwood Church, Keller, TX), November 10-13, 2010:

-Lifetime effort in Bible study “to rescue truth from familiarity” ~ Dr. Kenneth E. Bailey.

-Any current interpretation of the text must be held “tentatively final,” meaning we’re always open to learning more ~ Dr. Kenneth E. Bailey.

-Being “Pro-Palestinian” is not the same as being “Anti-Israeli”—Evangelical Christians need to be visible and supportive on both sides of this national-ethnic divide.

-We need to include in the dialogue the whole family of Abraham.

-We need to create a non-polarizing language about being “Pro-Jesus,” “Pro-Palestinian” or “Pro-Arab,” “Pro-Jewish,” “Pro-Nonviolence,” and “Pro-Peace.”

-Some suggested that American Christians need a primer on the Middle East – we don’t get it.

-Or we need a “Pastors’ Toolkit” for leading discussions about the Middle East.

-There are 15 million Latino Evangelicals in the United States – their issue is immigration.

-We live in the “golden age of advocacy” in that one person can reach one million instantly online.

-It’s easy for internationals to become dependent upon the West for help, but this is not always best for them or the West. Need to help develop leadership in the Church in the Middle East.

-Jesus must be the center of all our work. He means more than conversion. He is hope for the hopeless. He is the only one who can create a future for humanity that’s worth living. He can bring real justice, real peace.

-Christians need to speak up more often and more pointedly challenging fellow-Christians who advocate violence or other negative responses to people in the Middle East and elsewhere.

-God said, “Love your enemy,” so we must not ever reinforce violence in any form.

-The media focuses upon the loudest and often the most extreme voices within a movement, thus creating and perpetuating stereotypes, which can create grossly inaccurate perspectives within the public.

-Negative stereotypes foster a toxicity across divisions.

-WASP = "White Anglo-Saxon Protestant" or "Wealthy, Alienated, Separated, Protected"?

-Young people want authenticity, faith reality, living-out faith, service…they want to see real faith in action.

-“The right to believe anything does not mean anything people believe is right” ~ Os Guinness.

-“The art of after-dinner speaking is the act of speaking in someone else’s sleep” ~ Os Guinness.

-Os Guinness: Key question—“How will we live with the deep differences in the world?” – 3 corollary questions”-

1--Will Islam modernize peacefully and be a force for peace?

2--Which faith will replace Marxism/Communism?

3--Will the West recover its foundations?

-Guinness: There will never be one way fits all for relating religion to public life. Each country and culture has to figure it out, but there are three types--

--Sacred Public Square – Established churches or dominating religious participation…Religious Right, England and Anglican Church, Europe.

--Naked Public Square – Secular, all religions excluded as private or as a problem…France, Soviets, Communist Countries, Ataturk in Turkey, US leaning toward French model.

--Civil Public Square – Public life where everyone of every faith free to engage on basis of faith with clear understanding of rights, respect, and responsibility toward all faiths…Guinness’s view.

-Civil Public Square not a way to compromise faith, very different from “inter-faith dialogue,” which promotes unity over all religious differences. But there is no common denominator. There never will be; there are irreducible religious differences in beliefs and these need not be compromised in a free society in free discourse.

-Freedom of Speech is a right of believers, not a right of certain beliefs that must be protected above all others with special political correctness or tolerance measures or hate speech legislation. Freedom of conscience protects believers, not all ideas as sacrosanct or untouchable. Ironically, the Left supports restrictive, protective legislation that undermine the freedom of conscience they believe in. The Right argue in ways that do not align with the Founding Fathers and also tend to undermine a truly free society.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

News from France this week is a noticeable increase in advertisements offering home repair or other similar services in return for “hugs.” What this really means, of course, is trading or bartering work for sex.

The idea is that because of the global recession people have less discretionary income to care for necessary home or related upgrades. So enterprising skilled workers are offering home fixes for “tender moments,” “saucy evenings,” etc. Why wouldn’t women jump at this great deal? Apparently some do.

Pundits are debating whether this new online trend is a form of prostitution or just an old practice made more widely available and openly evident over the Internet. Others consider it simply another form of entrepreneurship, tapping into ones “sexual capital” in order to “purchase” what one needs.

Of course the basic idea of people trading or leveraging sex in return for something, or vice versa, is as old as humanity. It’s not new. Online ads are just a new application of an old transaction, whether fully willing or not on the part of both parties involved.

Morally and socially, though, there’s much to critique. Nothing in religious let alone Christian teaching would suggest sex bartering is acceptable or wise. Socially, the practice indicates once again the degree to which particularly Western culture has turned sex into a commodity. The human body and its sexual capacity are merely things to be used for personal gain. Relationships aren’t relationships at all, just encounters. And another worry: whether moral turpitude or social shallowness or both these transactions open the door to more STDs.

Morally speaking from a Christian perspective, whether monetized or bartered, sex for hire or compensation cannot be justified. It makes no difference how sex is traded or sold, if it’s outside the bounds of monogamous marriage, it violates God’s moral will.

One is tempted to say something like, “Well, it’s the French. Enough said." But this isn’t fair to the French or accurate regarding the rest of the world. Sexual commodification is now a global problem. Witness huge worldwide increases, including in the United States, of sex trafficking. Bartering sex for services is just another way for contemporary culture to commit sexual suicide.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


University of Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl admitted that not only did he knowingly violate NCAA recruitment rules in 2008 but last June he lied to the NCAA about these incidents. He lied repeatedly. He even denied responsibility when shown pictures of a recruit at his home. In addition, he and his staff made numerous impermissible phone calls to recruits, some 34 by Pearl alone.

Later, Pearl approached university officials, admitted he lied, and asked for another meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in order to inform them. Now he’s been suspended from recruitment activity, moved out of his coaching office, and is awaiting a verdict on whether he will suffer longer lasting sanctions from the NCAA or lose his job entirely at the university. Now he’s hoping for leniency.

What makes a highly successful person do things like this? The UT Athletic Director, Mike Hamilton, said, “I believe it is more a result of a significant error of judgment than the character of the person involved.” Maybe.

Both students and the coach have referred to his “error of judgment” as “mistakes.” This is the currently acceptable term for acknowledging wrong moral choices. A politician fathers a child with a woman not his wife, gets caught, denies it, eventually admits it and says, “Mistakes were made.” Mistakes? This is not a math problem. He didn’t sleep with the woman accidentally. It wasn’t happenstance gone awry. He made a choice.

The problem with “I made mistakes” is that it’s not the same as saying “I did something wrong.” In the former, you’re saying you’re a victim of human frailty. You couldn’t help it after all. In the latter, you're saying you acted; you’re owning responsibility.

Coach Pearl made conscious choices again and again, knowing the NCAA rules as well as anyone. And if he really somehow didn’t know the rules, than his leadership is even more suspect because the head coach is the one charged with assuring the program doesn’t inadvertently violate the rules.

Coach Pearl didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t commit other heinous crimes. But he did violate a trust placed in him as leader of the basketball program. He’s shamed himself and, by ripple effect, the university.

I’m for forgiveness and second chances, but I don’t think Coach Pearl should be maintained in his multi-million dollar position at UT. He didn’t just make a mistake. He acted unprofessionally with knowledge aforethought. If the university ever again expects to discipline wayward student athletes it better act responsibly now.

I’m not saying Coach Pearl is done, without worth, or should never coach again. I actually think he should and will coach again, just not at UT.

Leaders are given higher levels of opportunity, responsibility, and reward. They’re also given higher levels of expectation and accountability because their behavior influences more people, for good or for ill.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


Homosexuality is, according to the Bible, a sin. So are premarital or extramarital heterosexual sexual relationships. So is idolatry, anger, gossip, and using God’s name in vain. While some sins are more heinous than others from a human perspective, morally speaking, sin is sin. There's no hierarchy of "badness."

The mistake Christians and/or conservatives have made is either to consider homosexuality worse than other sins, including heterosexual sin, or to equate LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) individuals with homosexuality. Yet a human being's identity cannot be reduced to an individual moral choice, including sexual sin. In other words, a thief is a person who steals, but is a thief always and only a thief?

So, while I believe a Christian cannot embrace or condone homosexual behavior, I also believe we must not reject, run from, disrespect, or worse, ignore LGBT people.

OK, if that’s true, to borrow from the late Francis A. Schaeffer, “How shall we then live?” Here’s my latest effort to answer that question in terms of homosexuality: "Homosexuality Goes Mainstream--What Now?"


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at


The Republican Party euphoria following the comeuppance it gave the Democrat Party in last week’s national elections is understandable. Everyone likes to win and winning big is even more fun.

But a week later, wiser, cooler, more far-seeing heads should prevail. Yet there’s little evidence this is taking place and only minimal evidence it might.

Both Republicans and Democrats need only return to 1994 for worthwhile lessons of what to do and not to do in the wake of lopsided partisan victory versus the party of the incumbent President. That was the year of Newt Gingrich’s “Revolution.”

The problem was, while the Revolution seemed to some like a great leap forward for the republic it soon deteriorated into partisan pugnaciousness. A few months later, President Clinton got the upper hand over Gingrich and the Republicans in the infamous government shutdown showdown. Worse, even though President Clinton later nearly lost his presidency in the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment, Republican leaders fared little better because of their own inordinate number of ethics and sex scandals.

Republicans need to learn from the foibles of Gingrich era partisanship. Democrats need to learn from the foibles of Clinton era hubris. Partisanship and hubris, it seems, too often go hand in hand and get the better of politicians, personally and politically. John Boehner and Barack Obama take note.

It’s a bit much to quote oneself, but I’ll risk it here because it fits so well. At the beginning of the Gingrich era in a column published January 8, 1995 in the “Grand Rapids Press” I said:

“Newly elected Republicans will make a major mistake if they think that Americans became tired of Democrats. They did not. Americans became tired of political tribalism masquerading as congressional law making. They became tired of business as usual. Americans want statesmanship. The jury is out on whether the Republicans have the character to provide it.”

I think the same is true today. I’m glad for gains by conservatives more than I’m glad for Republican gains. But either way, I’m not ready to celebrate just because more people with my view of government seem to have control of the teeter totter. I wish them well and I hope they have the character the moment calls for. I’m looking for leaders capable of statesmanship.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at

More than 7.5 million opposite-sex couples are living together in the United States, an increase of 13% from 2009 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Theoretically, the economy is the primary factor in this increase. This idea suggests the job market has made meeting living expenses more difficult so pooling unmarried couples’ expenses makes financial sense.

Cohabitation is much higher in the South (38 percent) than the West (23.2 percent), Midwest (15.8 percent), or Northeast (15.8 percent). Education as well as income comes into play, as do local cultural values.

Cohabitation, the act of living together without benefit of marriage, is not something Christians can embrace, even in the face of economic pressures.

Churches understandably haven’t been pleased. Some mega-churches, like Trinity Fellowship Church, Amarillo, Texas organized an event called “The Big Summer Wedding” for cohabiting couples. Some 32 couples were married in this event.

Cohabitation has grown in recent years among older retired adults in their 60s or 70s. The argument is made at times that it’s about keeping family finances cleanly divided for the children’s sake. Or the argument is made that “We’re older so it doesn’t matter that we’re living together”—in other words, sex is something for the young so the older aren’t acting in an immoral fashion. But of course older adults still engage in sexual activity and whether or not they do, Scripture still speaks clearly about male-female relationships.

Cohabitation is not the financial common sense it may seem. It can be demonstrated that by circumventing or delaying marriage cohabiting couples pay a greater price in the long run in the loss of marriage-related tax benefits, insurance coverage, or estate planning advantages. This is aside from any moral considerations.

Cohabitation may sound harmless but it’s a dead-end street, even if it takes place in a seniors retirement and healthcare home. Because people are older or even elderly doesn’t remove moral considerations in their relationships. There’s nothing in Scripture that suggests this.

The other disadvantage of cohabitation, and a significant one, is that it’s a terrible model for young people. In other words, if older adults can cohabit what’s the big deal about young adults cohabiting? Increasing numbers of unmarried couples is already a major social phenomenon with growing impact upon family health in Western countries. Encouraging it isn’t going to help the next generation because it magnifies the number of households in which children are maturing without benefit of family stability. Youth need examples of adult long-term commitment.

Cohabitation is not historically new, but it’s not any more valid or wise than it’s ever been.


© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at or follow Dr. Rogers at