Loving my Neighbor

The Bible commands us to love your neighbor as yourself.

What does this look like for the LGBTQUIA community?

Well the Bible points out that humans are made with body and soul.  We have a material and immaterial aspect to our existence.  God is the rightful Author of both, and desires that we look to the welfare of each.

The LGBTQUIA has joined the civil rights discussion to petition for their own concerns and desires.  With respect to gay rights, the things that Christians can help are access to healthcare, education, and housing.  What these things have in common are the concerns for the body that God has given all of us out of His common grace. Related are such things as freedom from bullying, excessive fear and hatred, and unfair treatment.

But for things such as same-sex marriage, and ability to use a bathroom according to one’s definition of personal sexuality, we cannot promote. If we did, we would be pushing the members of the community further into their iniquity against the God in whose image they were made and pushing them down a path of destruction.  The stakes are high because their very soul is in the balance.

The gay rights movement in matters pertaining to the soul is the modern expression of Jesus’ words: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36 KJV) Indeed, if the LGBTQUIA community gains everything they have on their agenda, what profit can they get at the expense of their own soul?

Christ commands us to love our neighbor.  And for our neighbors seeking sexual diversity, that commandment means that we love them with regards to their body and their souls, both of which are ultimately accountable to the God who made all of us.  We help them in regard to things that belong to God’s common grace to us all, and we help them meet Jesus as their Lord and Savior that they might encounter the special grace found in Him alone.

 

The Timelessness of God’s Standard

I have a Muslim friend who reflected on the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the legalization of same-sex marriage.

She chooses to hold back her joy, choosing to celebrate quietly.

She explains that her initial thoughts were bittersweet as she thought to celebrate would be to disobey the God for whom she keeps fasts and before whom she falls prostrate in prayer.

She initially felt a cognitive dissonance where her faith apparently stands in stark opposition to the societal beliefs she passionately wishes to advocate for.

She advocates for a deistic approach to Allah so she can be a Muslim who supports gay rights.  She desires to be progressive and so she seeks to move away from the diction of ancient manuscripts and focus on empowerment for all marginalized individuals and to silence the close-minded people who wish to limit Islam to very specific, destructive constructs and adhere only to centuries-old traditions.

I explain her situation first, because there are some parallels between her situation and the position Christianity finds itself in.

Christianity is built on the foundation of the teachings of the Bible, particularly because it is centered on the birth, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We affirm the authenticity and historicity of Genesis to Revelations because Jesus Himself affirms it.  Why Jesus is so important is because He is humanity’s rightful Creator and our God alongside the Father and the Holy Spirit.

So yes, the Bible is centuries old, but why should that have an impact on the truthfulness of its claims?  If the Bible is God’s Word to us, then would it not hold that the truths contained therein would be timeless, and thus binding for all generations in all ages?

However since the Bible is a collection of documents written in space-time human history, it is worth noting that we must take historical context into account as we derive lessons from the text.

Of particular interest of note for the LGBTQUIA community are those texts which call for the deaths of people who engage in same-sex behavior.  It is certainly true that there are texts which call for the deaths of people who exercise their sexuality in this manner, but those texts are located in a particular historical context which no longer apply to our time because of other important historical circumstances that warrant the change.

God freed the people of Israel from Egyptian slavery by the hand of Moses and through this redeemed people He wanted to show the rest of the world a glimpse of what a restored relationship with Him would look like.

He created mankind male and female and gave them a sexuality that He rightfully expects of them to exercise in accordance with His divine design.

However, Adam and Eve sinned against God by disobeying Him and putting themselves in as the new object of worship instead of the Creator they were made in the image of.

Ever since then, God has been on a rescue mission and longs to be restored in relationship to the people He made.  Fast forward to the Israel that He redeemed from Egypt.

God wanted to live among the people of Israel and bless them with His presence, but there was one problem: He is light and His people were made darkness by their sins, among them being the misuse of their God-given sexuality against His appointed order.

He gave them sacrificial rites so they could have an opportunity to enjoy His holy presence without dying in their iniquities.  He also gave them rules to hold them accountable to His holy character.  If they disobeyed His moral laws, they may have been punished by death because the punishment reflects the high value God has in His holiness.  At the same time, if people sinned against God in the context of the Mosaic covenant, His holy presence would break out against them until they made appropriate steps to appease Him.

At the same time, God was looking forward to a day in which He would be able to provide a Savior for mankind so that He could be completely and totally be reconciled with mankind.  Instead of the covenant He made with Israel through Moses, He would inaugurate a new covenant that truly brought His alienated people back in full measure.

That promised Savior would later be revealed as the man Jesus Christ, God the Son in the flesh.

The situation our God faced was this: He created people in His own image that He longed to be in relationship with.  Those people disobeyed Him and inverted the created order and thus deserve a punishment in accordance to the magnitude of the crime they committed. Even though they stand condemned, God did not desire their deaths but longs that some might live instead.  To this end, He sent His own Son to die on their behalf, so justice might be met and His people could live.

In other words, God needs to punish people for their sins because that is what His justice demands, but He so does not want to exercise that rightful prerogative, that He gave His own Son so that His people could live and be brought back to Himself.

Within this framework, the issue of our sexuality stands.  When we use our God-given sexuality in ways that God has not ordained or approved, we incur the same judgment as other sinners.  The penalty is death, but the people who enforce that penalty would not be the people of God as it once was under the Mosaic covenant, but the Lord Jesus Himself under the new covenant He ushers in through His death and resurrection.

What changed between the Mosaic covenant and the New covenant was not the standard, but the person who enforces the death penalty, and the means by which one can be forgiven.

The Lord Jesus, although He rightfully holds the power to enforce judgment on mankind for their sins, so does not want to exercise that right, that He has already given up His life on our behalf and rose from the dead so that we might see newness of life instead.

That being said, anyone who continues to use their sexuality in rebellion against God after so great a sacrifice has been made for their behalf would be profaning the Son’s sacrifice and would incur greater judgment unless they repent by means of the very sacrifice they scorn.

The death penalty should no longer be enforced by the people of God, but because it is enforced by the Lord himself, we would do well to pay attention to not continuing in our rebellion against Him, but rather pledge our faithful loyalty to Him in spirit and in truth.

God was the one who made each and every one of us.  He alone knows what is best for us.  So if He says that our sexuality is meant to be used in certain ways for His glory and our good, then He is right.  If He has committed those truths in writing and passed them down throughout human history, then it follows that we have no right to change what has already been said and still holds true today.  More than that, He desires that we see that obedience to His revealed will brings not death, pain, and displeasure, but joy that increases to overflowing abundance.

 

 

 

 

To Bring Truth out of Error.

So I came across this post on my Facebook feed and the theme that speaks out to me from this post is that of violence done in the name of religion.

From some ways in which Islam may be practiced, citizens who violate sharia law can be thrown off of rooftops blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs for violating sharia law.  Crowds may stone these men who fell if they move after hitting the ground.

From some ways in which Christianity is preached (rather wrongly I would say), pastors may describe hell as a lake of fire that God wants people in.

The Orlando shooter left many dead on the dance floor, believing he was honoring God with his crime.

The narrator’s father called a transgender waitress a ‘faggot’ and refused to be served by her because he considered her ‘dirty.’

The narrator feels many people hate ‘them,’ ‘them’ referring, presumably, to the LGBTQUIA community.  The narrator also believes that many wish they did not exist.

The narrator wants to be married like everyone else or use the correct restroom like everyone else.

The narrator mentions “same old values” that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year.

The narrator also mentions speaking with the maker directly and thinks “he sounds a lot like myself.”

The narrator ends with mentioning the “insane” and the “indoctrinated.”

So at this point, let me do my best to speak the truth in love.

The narrator heard that we are all God’s children.  That is true.  We are God’s offspring (Acts 17:29).  He made us in His image, and therefore has a right to tell us how to live our lives.  Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.  In other words, God is not a man-made invention, but rather we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27).

Since we are made in God’s image, God left in us a desire to glorify Him.  But then there is this thing called sin which distorts that good desire.  We were created to glorify God, but what sin does is hijack that desire so that we may end up thinking falsely that we are glorifying God when we are doing precisely the opposite.  Sin may also replace the proper object of worship with something not proper.  If we are not worshiping the Creator, we are worshiping the creation.

Practitioners of Islam and Christianity may think they are honoring God when really they are doing the opposite.

Jesus already foretold such event would happen when He said nearly 2000 years ago: “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.”  (John 16:2)

The practitioners of Islam are right in perceiving that transgressions deserve the death penalty, but they are wrong for thinking they are the ones to enforce the death penalty on transgressors of God’s holy law.  If they knew better, they would know that the very standard they enforce on others should rightfully fall upon themselves as well.  The person who enforces the death penalty for sins would be the Lord Jesus Himself, and even then, He became a human for the express purpose of saving us from the due penalty of our sins.  In other words, Jesus has the right to met out the death penalty, but He desires that we be reconciled to Him instead, and He has already demonstrated that commitment by dying in our place on the cross.

Following on that note, the pastor that claims that God wants the narrator to be in a lake of fire is just plain wrong.  The historical facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection give a resounding rebuttal to that pastor’s claim.  God so does NOT want the narrator to go to the lake of fire that He gave His own Son to die in the narrator’s place so the narrator can be reconciled to Him.

The Orlando shooter is in the same camp as the practitioners of Islam mentioned earlier.  He thought that killing all those in the dance club would bring glory to God, but he was dead wrong.

The narrator’s father has a gross ignorance about his own standing before God.  How can he be in any position to call someone else a ‘fag’ and ‘dirty’ when his own sins warrant a just condemnation from Almighty God?  And how much more when that same God desires the salvation of all sinners, no matter how great or small they may be?

When the narrator talks about being married like everyone else or use the correct restroom like everyone else, there’s some confusion in those phrases, particularly the “everyone else”.  No one, to my knowledge, stopped the LGBTQUIA community from having the right to marry someone of the opposite sex, which was what “everyone else” was doing.  Rather, what happened was that they willingly rejected that option which was available to them and expected the rest of society to conform to their redefinition of marriage.

A similar argument can be made for the restroom issue.  No one is stopping a male from using a male’s restroom or a female from using a female’s restroom, which is what “everyone else” should be doing.  Those who identify as transgender are actively rejecting this societal expectation in favor of their own personal preferences and expect the rest of society to do the same.

The whole issue is that sin is being committed against God although not in the same way as the practitioners of Islam and Christianity mentioned earlier have done.  The former sinned by thinking they have glorify God when they have done the opposite, while the latter have committed idolatry and pride.

The LGBTQUIA community are rejecting the proper sexual moral standards that our God gave us when He made us male and female.  It is arrogant to think and act like we know better with regards to our sexuality when our God has already laid down expectations that should be respected.  More than that, obedience to God tends to true freedom and happiness while disobedience leads to slavery and death.

The “same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year” most likely represents religion that is devoid of the Gospel and of grace.  It is true that religion when taken this way can lead to such lamentable results, but that should not be an excuse to write off religion altogether.  Medicine, too, can be abused by patients, but does that automatically mean we should do away with the profession and the drugs altogether as well?  By no means! But rather, we take the time to address the abuses and encourage people to see the proper use of such noble enterprises.

The narrator mentions hearing God as “a lot like myself,” which carries a half-truth.  Since we are made in His image, there are bound to be similarities between us, but those similarities should not be taken to mean that God is made in our image, and that He is really just a reflection of ourselves.

The reality is that there is a God, who made us in His image, and who holds us accountable to that fact.  He made us, so we owe Him our lives.  He made us male and female, so we are to honor Him with our sexuality. He made us, so we are to glorify Him in spirit and in truth that lead to life, not in falsehoods that lead to destruction, death, and pain for others.  There may be the “insane” and the “indoctrinated” who mishear His voice, but that should give us all the more reason to take the time to really make sure that we are truly listening to God’s voice and taking steps accordingly.  The voice of God can be distorted, but it is still there to be heard in accuracy and truth.  We must fight error with truth.