Thursday, August 16, 2012

Father of Lies

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."-Jesus, from the Gospel of John 8:44

We live in a world that would rather believe in lies than believe in the truth. We do so because if we live the lie then we don't have to change who we are. Because if we have to change who we are then that means we have made mistakes and there is something wrong with us or we are doing the wrong thing or have the wrong ideas. And no one wants to admit that. We are satisfied living in darkness. We feel we know better than God. We feel gray areas are fine. This is why Jesus said some are of the devil. The world throws away righteousness and takes on evil masquerading as good. Paul says that satan masquerades as an angel of light. Many times the world calls good evil and evil good. They do not know the difference anymore. Listen to these lies that the accuser has given to us and that we believe:

He turns love into lust.
He turns a baby into a fetus.
He turns a bad day into depression.
He turns depression into suicide.
He turns pain into doubt.
He turns doubt into atheism.
He turns a bad habit into an addiction.
He turns a disagreement into hate.
He turns pornography into freedom of speech.
He turns a condition into an excuse.
He turns knowledge into rationalization.
He turns self-awareness into pride.
He turns humanitarianism into liberalism.
He turns your past into the present.
He turns discipline into abuse.
He turns fossils into evolutionary fact.
He turns civil rights into racism.
He turns community leaders into politicians.
He makes "being good" into "good enough".
He turns women into objects.
He turns children into punching bags.
He turns fathers into one-night stands.
He turns a marriage into a definition.
He turns tolerance into apathy.
He turns moral standards into a joke.
He turns a family into a village.
He turns faith into a religion.
He turns worship into an argument.
And worst of all he turns Christians into lazy, lukewarm, twice-a-year-pew-sitting hypocrites who listen to these lies.

Funny, though, because a couple of verses before the scripture above tells us how to get out of this mess. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”- Jesus, from the Gospel of John 8:32. But unfortunately, no one wants to live in the truth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Response to Homosexuality


I know this is a sensitive and weighty issue. With all the humility, love, and sincerity I have (which I know is insufficient), I affirm that homosexuality is sinful, and government should not recognize ‘homosexual marriage’ in its legislation. I find this poster emotionally intimidating because we subconsciously feel that if we assent to the 'logical' conclusions, we must also assent to the emotion behind the poster.
I want to ensure people deal with the real issues in this whole debate – partly by dismantling the abundance of straw men in this poster, and partly by highlighting true conflict where it exists. My main hope (and prayer) is that the Holy Spirit will work with my words – not to be logical, but to address the emotion and spirit, so that people will see Christ’s glory as surprisingly beautiful.
This is a relatively quick post, so it will be full of words and I will have missed a lot of pertinent verses. By all means research it yourself! And comment/question at the end!
If you don’t want to read the whole thing, skip to point 7) and the conclusion :)

1) The Bible defines marriage as 1 man + 1 woman, for life.

This is easy to defend from Scripture (Gen 2:24, Mar 10:1-12), and the purposes God designed marriage for: the raising of Godly children (Mal 2:15), and the demonstration of the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph 5:21-32). Also nature, and the history and tradition of most of humanity for most of history, testify that this is a reasonable point of view.
Polygamy (and rape) are against God’s design for marriage (1Ti 3:2, 1Co 7:2, Deut 17:17). God commanded marriage in the instances of rape or female slaves/prisoners of war, to protect women in an environment of male leadership (which He knew sinful men would abuse). It was enforcing the natural/traditional order for the good of those involved.

2) Jesus uttered many words relevant to same-sex relationships.

Its not hard to figure out Jesus’ point of view on it. He taught God's view of marriage (Mat 19:5-6), how to apply the Old Testament today (Mat 5:17, Mat 12:8, Joh 4:23-24, Mat 23:23), the importance of humility and selflessness, and ultimately finding more purpose and pleasure in God than sex (or any other earthly pleasure – Luk 18:22, Mat 19:29).
Under these principles, even the following are sinful to God: lust (Mat 5:28), adultery/fornication, polygamy, selfishness in 'traditional/natural' marriage, idolizing your spouse higher than God and His purposes. He raised the standard so high that we all need his grace - even pious 'naturally/traditionally' married people.

3) There is clear guidance in the New Testament (especially from Jesus) on how to apply the OT views of homosexuality to our lives today.

The specifics laws in the OT fulfilled several functions: to keep Israel safe and separated from surrounding nations (God's mission has shifted - for now - to be global), to point toward Christ (Heb 10:1 – we now aim to reflect Christ more directly), and to teach the character of God (intended to direct us to God rather than being a rigid legalistic program). Even the less relevant of these purposes are useful to show us what God is like. And it is easy (especially with the help of the NT) to tell which functions the various laws served.
One aspect to God's character described in the OT is that He is very holy, and jealous about his holiness. He defines good, not us (1Pe 1:16, Psa 16:2, Jas 1:17, Mat 19:16-17). Anything which clouds or muddies or opposes that 'good', is by definition bad for us and God - evil. So there really are no 'grey' zones. Natural/traditional marriage is clearly described for multiple reasons as being 'good' (Pro 18:22, Pro 19:24, Gen 2:18, 1Co 7:9) – anything which confuses this (including homosexuality) is ‘evil’.

4) Its fairly obvious what Paul’s view of homosexuality was.

Paul deliberately focuses not on the lack of commitment in a relationship, but on a lack of adherence and submission to God's character (Rom 1).
The Biblical understanding of sexual complementariansm is extremely protective of women, and challenges husbands to be the most humble, gracious, serving, sensitive, protective men on the planet (Eph 5:25). Marriage is meant to demonstrate two roles - the role of Christ (in loving leadership) and the Church (in loving submission). Both are challenging, sacrificial, and rewarding to do as Christ intends – and easy to abuse or refuse.

5) There is, in fact, an undeniable natural order of things.

The world has not evolved beyond the need for God's purposes. Especially one He thought was important enough to ingrain in our very DNA – male and female design. The only time God overrules his general purposes, is when he calls some (few) people do it out of necessity (not want!) for the sake of focusing on other areas of God’s mission. That’s why God allows people to remain single (1Co 7:34-35).

The fact that some animals commit homosexuality does not make it any more natural. They are usually showing signs of mental disturbance, and are obviously aberrant. There is also a clear natural selection disadvantage. Nothing natural about it. Besides, even truly 'natural' behaviors (such as many male animals eating their young) are grotesque when applied to humans. When you consider humans without a clear gender (e.g. with chromosomal abnormalities or ambiguous genitalia), applying the term 'homosexual' to them is nonsensical anyway. I'm only discussing committed homosexual relationships, as opposed to traditional/natural marriage.
History teaches us that accepting homosexuality as a way of ‘moving forward’ and defining ‘civilized society’, is probably a bad idea. All civilizations in history, no matter how glorious, have fallen into pride and moral and financial strife just prior to their dramatic (often shameful) decline. The hallmark feature of such decline has always been an excessive and increasing focus on experimenting outside traditional/natural sexual behavior. The Bible also predicts this progression (Rom 1).

6) God is the most tolerant and loving being in the universe.

We all deserve punishment for our sins, but God is being patient and continues to show common grace to all, which is meant to draw us to repentance and trust in Him (Rom 2:4). Don't trample Him underfoot by defending the sin He died to save us from. If we fail to understand God’s ways in fullness, at least trust that He knows what’s best for us, others, and Himself. Ultimately you will only find lasting delight in the display of God’s character to you and through you.

7) The Bible does not deny homosexuals the ability to choose.

There is a difference between allowing, and condoning or defending. Government may not have the right to force morality (unless it is harming others) – we have a responsibility to let people choose. But we also have a responsibility to encourage the best (God’s character on display in traditional/natural marriage), and to NOT condone anything which muddies, confuses, or opposes this.
Legal backing cannot be given to a nonsensical entity. Marriage has a meaning – two men cannot be married to each other, just like two bachelors cannot be married to each other. Gays are welcome to marry - find one member of the opposite sex and commit yourself to them for life in love and faithfulness. There are several stories of people with continuing homosexual tendencies (some of which were at one point openly 'gay'), living well in a loving, Christ-honouring, natural/traditional marriage.
People can add legal backing to marriage if they like, but ultimately marriage is spiritual – God designed it from the beginning, and He defines, defends, and rejoices in it. The basis for opposing gays living sinfully together, is not that society or the legal system – or even Christians – think its sinful. Its that God thinks its sinful.

Finally, some notes about the emotion behind the poster.

Maybe some Christians are self-righteous, hateful, unsympathetic, and prideful. But the Bible encourages humility, grace, bearing eachother’s burdens, and respect. We are all sinners before God – we are all sexually broken in some way, and fail to delight in, pursue, or express the character of God as we ought (and need, for our satisfaction).
I don’t know where homosexual people come, what their experience of delight and struggle is, how they tick, or how broken they are. And I don’t pretend to. God alone knows that, and He cares. I just know my own struggles. But one thing I know – we will all only find true delight in God and His glory.
God alone knows ultimate outcomes, how characters will change, and what areas in life we will discover ourselves to be completely wrong about. He along has the ability to know what is ‘good’ for us. He made us so that we would find ultimate purpose and meaning and satisfaction and life and power, when we delight in the full display of His character to and through us. Marriage does this when performed God’s way – part of which means being traditional/natural.

Ultimately, homosexuality only matters because it is a sign of how we treasure Christ. To pridefully integrate homosexuality into your very identity, instead of agreeing with God about it, is evidence of (at best) a serious distraction from this, or (at worst) heartfelt prideful hatred toward Christ. Both of which condemn you like all sin outside of Christ, but both of which Christ can forgive and overcome if you will let Him!
I want God to enable Christians to come alongside homosexuals as fellow strugglers in the battle against sin and for our perfect delight in God’s glory. May we battle together with humility and love and uncompromising devotion to God.