04 September 2008

Homosexuality and the Church

Tonight on CovenantRadio.com we begin a four part series on the topic of homosexuality. The series was launched based on various chapter topics in this book, "The Homosexual Debate and the Church" which is a series of articles compiled by the fine people at Harvest USA. You can hear tonights show live at 8:00PM at live.covenantradio.com or listen to the archive if you miss the live show.

Right on the heels of this broadcast, I received news (just yesterday) of an acquaintance of mine that has now officially announced his "coming out" of the closet. He is a professing Christian who has a music ministry he is active in. I wish to now interact with his comments in the announcement he posted about his "news."

His announcement starts with an image of two men on a wedding cake, and the announcement that he is getting "married." This photo is followed by:
I'm sure I will be judged and will lose many "friends" from my page once they find this. Many people will never want to know any more about me and they will think the worst of me. I've been gay my whole life and have known since the first grade. The only difference about me now is that now you know I'm gay. Knowledge has changed...I haven't.
He tries to push blame over onto us, his "friends" by stating nothing has changed about him from how we knew him before, so if we change our attitude, it is basically our problem. This is ridiculous logic, to say the least. Let me put it in another scenario. A man's best friend of twenty years tells him "hey, I have been sleeping with your wife regularly for the past 15 years." So, how should the man feel? Well, I guess fine, since they have been the best of friends all of that time, so now the only thing that has changed is knowledge, not the friend. Pretty silly to say the least.

Knowledge changes a lot of situations. People can hide a multitude of sins all of their life, and many do, even from those closest to them, such as family, spouses, etc. The sin is there, it is not hiding from God, but as humans, we are unaware of it, and therefore have no reaction to it. What if a church member stood up in church one day and said "I have been a faithful member of this congregation for 10 years, serving the church as an elder, serving on various committees, counseling many, and working for the good and glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. But I must now confess, during all my years here, I have been secretly an active terrorist, and responsible for over 50 bombings and the death of thousands worldwide. But remember, I am still the same guy you all love, nothing has changed but knowledge." Oh, OK, then let us continue life as usual. Come on!!
Being a Christian and believing with all my heart in Jesus as my Savior & Lord still comes first. The one thing that Scripture and prayer has been teaching me over the last 4 years is that I am to let no man tell me how I can or can't love Jesus. There are many that try to tell me I can't be a servant because of being gay.
Now he seeks to find refuge in condemning man for their treatment of his issue. True, you can't always let man tell you how to love Jesus, but you darn sure better let Jesus tell you how to love him. And Jesus plainly tells us in His Word, that no matter how much we claim to follow or love him, we can judge our sincerity by one thing...following his commandments:
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2)
Likewise, the Gospel of John is filled with similar "If you love me, keep my commandments" type teachings, and he knows it. The Bible is clear in the condemnation of homosexuality, and regardless of how the liberal homosexuals try to spin things, the Bible is still clear, so I won't waste time defending the position. To opening and unrepentantly live in an active sodomite lifestyle is to openly deny the very love and relationship you claim with Christ.
I've prayed for years and years and years, I've confessed my sins to others and Jesus has taken away so many of my sins; yet I'm still gay and that hasn't changed no matter how much I've prayed or confessed. I even spent 6 years being abstinent, single, no dating and being completely devoted to serving Christ. Still I'm gay.
More silly logic. So, if we struggle with a sin for many years, and don't overcome it, we should give up, and give in to the sin? Is that what the Bible says? Poor Paul had a thorn in the flesh for most of his ministry, yet he didn't give in and give up. Let me see if I can apply this to another situation. I have been married for over twenty years, I love my wife, I have never cheated on her, I have regular relations with her...yet I have for the life of our marriage I have had a problem with lust a desire of pretty women. No matter how much I pray against it, no matter how I fight it, I still have that lust. I guess I should give up and admit I like women and just start cheating on my wife. This same lame excuse could be equally applied to any single heterosexual male follower of Christ. Since they have normal lust for women, should they just give in to their lust and start sleeping around? I hope you can see the utter foolishness of such a claim.

We all have struggles with sin, we all have issues we deal with daily and we seek to overcome. How long is long enough before we give in and stop fighting and just go with our sin? Well, the Bible is clear that the answer is...never. We do not let ourselves become a slave to any sin, but are to constantly fight to keep it under check.
I've let people and the church for too long make me feel like I'm not worthy to serve the same God that saved me 14 years ago. Jesus said that "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." I'm a whosoever and He as taken me just as I am. I am gay and I love Jesus. I will go through the doors that He opens and minister to those that He puts in my path. I will still sing of His great name and share the Good News with those that will listen.
To come to a place in one's life where they openly admit a struggle with sin, yet seek to just live in it, without a heart of repentance, is a true sign that their conscience has been seared. Romans 6 makes it very clear:
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
And of course, do we really need to even breech the contents of Romans 1?
I will continue to believe with all of my heart that Jesus wants us just as we are; not a made up image of Christianity or man made religion that tells us what to wear, what to watch, what to listen to, who to associate with, who to love or who not to love. It is the job of discernment from the Holy Spirit through reading of the Bible that will change people as God would have them changed for His service. It is not the job of the church to make people change before coming to Christ or fit their image and mold as a church. Looking at the Bible it's easy to see that Jesus would not be welcomed in many churches today because He always put the will of His Father first. He didn't change to fit in. He loved His Father and He loved us...all of us. He didn't let others tell Him how He could serve the will of His Father. He associated with those that the religious people would never minister to...they would instead stand back and cast their judgment and stones. Really, not a lot has changed. Finally I hope and pray that others like me will not let Satan speak through the church any longer to make them feel like they can not serve the God they love.
And he ends with a real kicker. An all out attack on the church. Sure, the local churches have issues, sure they don't always act or work as Christ would have them do so, but that doesn't mean you dismiss the whole system. Nor does it mean you chalk it all up to just allowing "Satan to speak through the church."

As he states, it is not the church's job to make people change before coming to church, and that is true. Sinners are invited to come as they are. But that in no way is to be considered an invitation to stay as they were. Christianity requires change and conformity to the ways of Christ. Christ gave the church the keys and the Spirit to guide and shepherd the people into the truth. While going to church doesn't necessarily make you a Christian, forsaking, or rebelling against the church sure says a lot about the true nature of your relationship with Christ. Churches can stray, churches can become legalistic, and yes, it is always up to us to study the scriptures ourselves and to be in line with them. But how does this help his case, it is not only the church that condemns his sin, it is the very Word of God that the church uses to condemn it. There is no refuge outside of the church for his sin, it is the Word, not the church, that laid the condemnation against his sin.

Sure, Jesus ministered to those that the church often overlooked...so what, how does that apply to his case? Jesus didn't bring drunks and sinners into the church and tell them to stay drunks and sinners. Christianity requires repentance from our old sinful natures, not an open acceptance and flaunting of it. To come to this kind of irrational conclusions shows just how far off the deep end people can go to justify their sin.