The Blog: Pastor Parsley's Personal Blog

Responding to the Darkness as Children of Light

7/10/2015 1:00:00 PM — We’re starting to see some of the fallout from last month’s egregious Supreme Court decision changing the definition of marriage in the United States to include the union of same-sex couples. And it’s not pretty.

A family bakery in Oregon has been fined $135,000 and slapped with a gag order (what First Amendment?) because it declined to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple that the family knew, liked, and considered valuable customers. I agree with David French who noted in National Review Online that two people who claim to suffer mental anguish because they had to use their second choice of a bakery for a wedding cake need counseling rather than damages.

In our home state of Ohio, a municipal court judge is facing calls for his impeachment because he declined to officiate a same-sex wedding. Never mind that another judge officiated their wedding – the “offending” judge must pay for his slight to the couple with his job, in the minds of some.

What you’re seeing in both of the above situations and countless others is an effort by people of faith to opt out of a situation they can’t support, and the culture imposing their views of morality on them. It’s almost exactly what the secular left has long (falsely) accused values voters of doing for many years. It’s natural for fair-minded Christian believers, and values voters of all faiths, to get angry over this turn of events.

It’s tempting to fight back. I’m not suggesting we don’t respond with efforts to preserve the rights of religious freedom the Constitution grants to us. But how we fight makes a great deal of difference to the God we claim to know and serve. If we’re His, let’s act like it. Read More

Grace and Truth in a Post-Marriage Culture

7/2/2015 5:00:00 PM — Even many people who believe same-sex marriage is a good idea – and I’m not among them – scratch their head over the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. You don’t have to be a legal scholar to realize the majority is guilty of a classic example of judicial activism, devoid of sound reasoning. The members of the court’s majority – the liberal wing of Steven Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, joined by moderate Anthony Kennedy – didn’t have a valid constitutional argument to validate same-sex marriage, so they simply made one up. It’s a power play, pure and simple, and you have every right to be angry about that.

Every instance of judicial activism reaps adverse consequences that can’t be adequately estimated at the time it’s committed. The Roe v. Wade decision, which invented a right to abortion in 1973 and made it legal throughout of pregnancy, has resulted in an estimated 50 million lives lost in the past 42 years. So what happens when five judges, accountable to nobody, invent a right to same-sex marriage that can’t be found in the Constitution? There’s no way to know today what ill effects we’ll experience as a result of Obergefell v. Hodges. We can only surmise that in 40 years the state of the family and the nation will be vastly different than it is today, and not for the better.

So what are we, meaning the Church, to do in the face of such a grievous decision? I think the answer lies in the words grace and truth. We must balance both while overemphasizing neither in the days and weeks ahead. Our challenge is to find a way to champion orthodox Christian belief without ruining our witness. Read More

Charleston’s Best Lesson

6/25/2015 11:00:00 AM — It’s hard not to have been horrified by Dylann Roof’s terror attack last week in Charleston – an assault against both the African-American and Christian communities of that great city. It’s also hard not to be repulsed by the politicians of every ideological flavor who have rushed to take advantage of the situation.

I’m sure there will be ample opportunity to discuss the proper response to gun violence, the appropriateness of the death penalty and the presence of the Confederate flag in what used to be the Confederacy. There always is. I’m just not sure that doing so before the victims of the terror attack are buried is the smartest approach. A quote from Aesop, the philosopher of ancient Greece, comes to mind here: “When all is said and done, more is said than done.”

For me the indelible image and sounds of Charleston came as Roof was arraigned. A parade of family members spoke with him via a video hookup, urging him to seek God and forgiving him for taking their loved ones from them. Their actions were widely praised as remarkable – and that is to the Church’s shame, because that type of forgiveness should be commonplace for men and women of faith. Read More

The Freedom We Dare Not Ignore

6/5/2015 11:00:00 AM — My public involvement in moral issues has varied considerably over the years. It has never been more important to me than proclaiming the truth of the Gospel and the power of the Holy Ghost, but there have been times when I have been relatively prominent in the public square and times when I have seen less need to be there.

You can be sure, however, that I will speak out when issues that impact the fundamental role of the Church are at stake. I cherish the First Amendment freedoms we all enjoy as Americans, and will do whatever I can to defend and uphold them.

That is, in part, because I exercise those freedoms myself. But like the Founding Fathers, I am convinced our life as a nation requires the free expression of ideas, without government interference. Read More

A Perpetual Pentecost

5/22/2015 3:00:00 PM — This Sunday, May 24, most of the Church celebrates Pentecost, the day when a small group of believers in Jerusalem became the first to receive the Holy Spirit. The account in Acts 2 is widely considered the founding event of the early Church.

To observe such a monumental event is the right thing for us to do. Without the Holy Ghost, the life of Jesus becomes just an historical event. But the arrival of the Spirit, to fill and empower believers on that day and every day since, is a fulfillment of prophecy that gives believers confidence that Jesus will return. The Holy Ghost provides “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,” in the words of the classic hymn.

But He also does much more than that, and that’s the reason Pentecost should be celebrated every day by all believers. Read More

Still ‘Living on our Heads’

4/3/2015 2:00:00 PM — Every now and then I’m handed a newspaper story that warms my heart. This week, two stories got me angry, and reminded me of how much work the Church has to do if it wants to make an impact on the culture in which it’s called to be salt and light.

One of the stories this one in The Washington Post by “social change reporter” Sandhya Somashekhar. It highlights a clinic in the well-to-do Friendship Heights neighborhood of Washington that looks like a spa, but is actually a place where you can get your unborn baby killed.

The ads the Carafem clinic prepared for the city’s transit system proclaimed, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.” It’s part of an effort to “destigmatize” abortion – something that, quite frankly, shouldn’t happen on the Church’s watch. Read More

Should Churches Be ‘Safe Spaces?’

3/27/2015 10:00:00 AM — Few articles I’ve read recently have been as revealing of the current state of our higher education culture than this one in The New York Times March 21.

The author, Judith Shulevitz, deserves credit for exploring a dynamic that even the nation’s unofficial journal of political correctness finds disturbing. Normally I read the Times strictly for comic relief or opposition research, but I’m glad they published this illuminating piece.

Shulevitz describes in great detail how many of today’s college students become easily traumatized by points of view that contradict their own. Increasingly, though, many students are making unusual demands on their institutions. They are calling upon their colleges to go to indulgent extremes to protect them from those points of view. That got me thinking about whether the Church does something similar – and, if it does, whether it should. Read More

Recovering Christian Manhood

2/19/2015 3:00:00 PM — I am blessed to have three strong women in my immediate family: my mother, Mrs. Ellen Parsley: my wife, Joni; and our daughter, Ashton. All of them are incredibly gifted for ministry, and they enrich my life more than I could ever hope to express in words. I’m a better man and a better minister of the Gospel because of the influence each of them has brought to my life.

But there are things my mother, my wife and my daughter should not be expected to do, or even attempt, because they are not men. Your Bible says that God created us male and female, clearly implying that He intended each gender to fulfill different functions. If we were all intended to be interchangeable, why did He bother to create two radically different types of humans?

That is expressly not to say that a man’s role is less important than a woman’s – far from it! But Christian men in particular should ignore the feminist lie that there is no functional difference between men and women, and intentionally fulfill the role for their families that God intended.Read More

To Lead, You Must Follow

2/12/2015 3:00:00 PM — One of the most misunderstood aspects of leadership is that you can only lead from a position of power. But that doesn’t make sense when you really think about it, because the number of positions of power is extremely limited. The trend in business is toward flatter organizations, with fewer levels of management, not more.

Fortunately it’s possible – and vital – for people to lead at all levels of an organization. Most of us will lead and follow in our lifetimes. So it’s important to know how to follow if you really want to be an effective Christian leader. Read More

What it Takes to Lead

1/30/2015 3:00:00 PM — For me, the best thing about teaching is that the teacher always learns more than the students. So during my current [Influential Leadership 120] lecture series, and in the [Effective Leadership 300] series before that, I’ve learned a lot about leadership – especially what the Bible says about it. Read More