With camp having come to a close it is evident that God was speaking to all of us about our sexuality. So many questions about sex and sexuality that amazingly enough God raised up a panel of speakers to address. Kids need to understand that God did create us with a plan in mind with regards to our sex, because the world is continually preaching to us that he did not. God has spoken clearly on this and that is why there is such push back from a culture that does not want his comment.
A couple weeks back Eugene Peterson the writer of the Message version of the Bible had come out of the closet of false teaching, it seems, but then he went back in. He has condoned homosexuality as viable for the Christian experience saying he would do such a wedding, but then when seeing the fire spreading he retracted that same statement. Hopefully by this point he has decided on what he believes, he seems like a nice enough guy but how does one make that mistake? This is what happens a lot with public figures, they share what they really believe and when there are social consequences they “clarify” that yes means no, but if you were to look at his rendition of Romans 1 you can see the slippery slope of loving monogamous same sex relationship versus the other bad kind.
He said he sees them and they seem decent enough people, well of course they do! Any person struggling with sin does not by necessity look extremely sinful, conniving, filthy. This is why Jesus for example called the Pharisees white washed tombs. Sin has a way of working out in our lives that we grow accustomed too, we live with, even make peace with, especially so if we desire it to stay. It doesn’t make us grow horns. Sin is not bad because the way we measure it socially and inter-personally-externally, sin is wrong because God says so. Unrepentant sin results with us not inheriting the kingdom of God because God says so. (1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 5:5, Galatians 5:19-21)
It is the same reason that dying on the cross and the shedding of blood results in the forgiveness of sins: Because God who spoke the universe into existence says so. His edicts carry weight. You can rationalize and justify any sin away if you are committed to something other than the testimony of God himself. This should be known to any Christian let alone a Bible interpreter.
The fact that many churches have decided to follow the LGBT is revealing a central failing in their religion. A central failing in their understanding of God. It is not that the church should not minister to LGBT. They absolutely should, and compassion is key, but the ministry is of such that there is calling away from something (sin) and drawing to someone (Jesus). It may not be that blunt but there is a play book to consult. Imagine a rehab center normalizing and excusing addiction because they were operating on a policy of compassion instead of help, would they be very effective?
If you don’t understand Biblical love you will get this one wrong. If you don’t understand God’s creative orders nor his authority you will get this wrong. If you mistake correction for hate you will get this one wrong. If you value personal experiences and choice over humility then you will get this one wrong. I only say wrong because the Bible has spoken on this. The fact of the irony infused in the symbol of the LGBT-the rainbow, is not lost on the church and certainly not God. People seem to be changing their position because they sit with people who struggle, they see the tears, they see the pain and they decide well…the Bible must be wrong. The fact is you will see just as many tears, just as much pain, and just as much hopelessness when dealing with someone struggling with pornography, or in a failing marriage, or with divorced people trying to move forward, or in addiction, or in people who have lost a child questioning God. Should we decide abortion is OK because so many women struggle with that problem?
You can see this kind of pain in all types of ministry, when someone loses someone and cannot come to terms with the loss, there will always be a temptation to say that God must not be in control. This is the same quandary with the problem of evil. God must not be able, or perhaps he is not good, or perhaps he didn’t really say, as the serpent tempted Eve? Some sinful urges may strike more at home then others but if we are not calling people home then we have exchanged the truth for a lie. We are simply revealing that we do not know how to minister in areas of the heart. We were warned many times about people using Christian freedom for sensuality. But the further argument is the people I met with were not malicious, they were not hell-bent-degenerates refusing to change. They were struggling and they needed help! They were not:
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Romans 1)
But let’s look at this, it seems that many are looking at the list of sin as a progression of degeneration in Romans 1:18-31 and saying I don’t see my friends who struggle with same sex attraction as the very worst sinner possible, so Romans is wrong. In other words these people are not people operating in seared consciousness, that list is largely absent from their lives, this is not true of them so therefore the conclusion must not true of them either. However we must understand and communicate that the Romans list isn’t the resume of a homosexual’s heart, it is a resume of a society that will bring about and seek to normalize homosexuality. Paul communicates the way he does to show that both unbelievers and believers both are responsible and accountable for its truth. Now I will be the first to admit that if and when the church has communicated that homosexuality is the worst sin and must encapsulate this list then they have been wrong. This may be part of the reason we are in this mess because we didn’t minister well when this sin was still mostly creeping in the closet and our society was merely toying with rebellion.
But part of addressing this is recognizing that Romans one is describing homosexual activity as a capstone symptom of a society that has abandoned God. It comes about because the populace are operating with a seared conscious collectively, it creates a vacuum of morality where the sin normalizes. The people will seem normal but this is the process of iniquity. Romans is talking about a society, all men, all unrighteousness, all who chose not to honor God, but chose to ignore him. This is key: we have a society that largely knew God, but we have largely chosen to not honor him or give him thanks. We created the necessary conditions for this to spread. We uniquely had a country that sought to honor God and now uniquely are seeking to get rid of him. We have clearly exchanged the glory of God for the glory of mortal mankind that is why sex is so caught up in all this. Because the society has so fallen and disregarded God, homosexuality will rise, but it won’t stop there; asexuality will rise. It is rising. This doesn’t mean that homosexuals are the worst kind of sinners, but this sin is a byproduct of iniquity that develops from a hardening of a heart towards God. Our society continues to stir the sin cauldron gently sipping in approval and adding whatever makes it a bit more spicy. This comes from a society that has willfully suppressed the truth, it takes root because a society has lost their moral center. The individuals trapped in this kind of sin might be decent enough people as many pastors are finding and thus struggling with.
But the conclusion is not to acquiesce to the surrounding culture pressuring us too. God hasn’t changed his mind. What God wants is brokenness over our sin, repentance over whatever our sins might be, hetero or homo, but brokenness that we lift up to God and say I can’t master this, help. It is not brokenness that insists it must be everyone else who is at fault, that is brazenness. We should never say “This is too hard, so I won’t believe this is wrong!” Jesus pointed out to the woman at the well that she had had five husbands while still continuing to live out this pattern but she found hope because she did not start fighting him over whether or not she had legitimate feelings and a loving monogamous relationship in each affair. The woman caught in adultery was equally told to go and sin no more even though she was put through hell in order for the charge to come to light. Paul castigated the Corinthians for allowing a man to have his father’s wife, a sexual sin that is from the same list that homosexuality is condemned from in Leviticus.
When the first church struggled over what to do with new gentile converts they agreed in Acts 15 that sexual immorality was still something that the gentiles had to adhere to. If a gentile were to ask where those rules for sexual immorality were found, guess where the Jew would point them? It doesn’t mean that the person is the worst kind of sinner but his sins are symptoms of a world, or dare I say it, a church that has gone soft on the Word of God. It doesn’t matter how loving and monogamous the relationship is, in fact it is partly the Message’s interpretation of Romans that supplies this slippery slope its grease. The leaven has worked its way into the lump. It is people worshiping the creatures rather than the creator. It is rebellion. This is sexual sin’s sin.
Rather then recognize our bodies were created to be temples for the dwelling of God we have declared them to be temples where we worship flesh. We sacrifice to our own sexual desires because no one is going to tell us otherwise! But this is what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; sexual sin has a pernicious affect on the body and must be tempered.
It seems that some churches have got so caught up with wanting to be accepted by the world that they have mistakenly equivocated that with the goal. This is the church now suppressing the truth, and this is why this is spreading. They have pursued peace with the world that they had to reinterpret hard passages of the Bible in order to allow for their versions of love. But does not God teach us that friendship with the world is enmity with God? (James 4:4) The purpose is not to get more people into the door of a church, but to get them to die to their old lives and be reborn unto a new life with God. To a life of belief. This is why Jesus wants disciples not simply converts or numbers to fill up a sanctuary.
Do we really want to build bodies that are openly hostile to the head who is Christ when he puts his finger on sexual sin? Do we want to build sanctuaries that are lying to themselves about God’s nature and morals? Do we want the Gospel to be so wide in its interpretations, its standards of holiness so low, that we might as well be a social club? Well that is what we do when we do not take seriously the teaching of the word of God. When we instead teach that God condones the things that caused his Son to go to the cross in the first place. The new testament is replete with warning after warning about turning grace into licence and especially so for sexual sins.
I wonder if as Americans we are so happily comfortable in our congregations that we have lost sight of our true ends? Are we so happy with our lives that we don’t want to engage? So distracted that we don’t respond? So entertained that why would we want to get serious about God? Or do we water down the good news so that somehow the offense of the Gospel is not so offensive and we get both?
Jesus said if you attempt to live a righteous life you will be persecuted. If you share the true Gospel you will be mocked. If you stand for Jesus you will be hated. He wasn’t simply commenting on the pulse of his day and that perhaps one day people will be cool with them being told they are completely estranged from God. No, people will always respond that way. People will always respond with outrage when hearing that they need a savior. This implies a losing and their souls are in question. Now some will not have rage, they will humbly respond and be converted to faith in Jesus, but many will not.
The two roads do not have the same amount of lanes in them. I would rather be in a slow moving single lane byway on the way to life, then on a free moving open ten lane highway to hell. This is not failed market strategy but the reality of a sinful world. We never subvert the Gospel to make traffic flow easier. This is a confusing of the goals, a confusing of the gospel, and a confusing of the Word of God.
We do love, we do show compassion, we help, we minister, we weep, we comfort, we share, and then we pick up our Bibles and once again tell the truth. It is the truth that sets us free. We will not be set free without the truth.
But the truth must always come from God and not from what we feel it should be.