The Hot Button

Yes, this is the Hot Button of the times. But the more I think about it and praying for God’s understanding, I am beginning to see that this is one of the many lessons He is teaching me as He leads me into a better understanding of and living in His grace.

Homosexuality.

There. I said it. I am going to tell you what I think about it.

Now, let me start by saying that I believe the Bible 100%. And the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. ~1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

[U]nderstanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. ~ 1 Timothy 1:9-11

I believe what those verses say. It is wrong and it is a sin against God. I also do not believe that you can be a true Christian and be in a homosexual relationship. If you are willingly living in sin, you cannot be a child of God. And I am not talking about struggling and falling into a sin. I mean living a lifestyle that is clearly against God’s word, and still believe that you are in fellowship with Him. There is a difference.

But here is what I am learning. Some people like to treat homosexuality like it is in it’s own special category, right next to the unforgivable sin. But in these verses, I see it grouped in with many other sins. And many of those sins are ones that Christians today don’t even bat an eye at.

Now, I know what some people are going to say. “What about this verse?” And the one they will reference is Leviticus 18:22.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

Another one is Leviticus 20:13

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.

I think the word that people get stuck on is “abomination”. There are only a few other times in the Law that this word is used. But what is the definition of abomination.

According to Wikipedia, an abomination:

may signify that which is forbidden or unclean according to the religion (especially sheqets). Linguistically in this case, it may be closer in meaning to the Polynesian term taboo or tapu, signifying that which is forbidden, and should not be eaten, and or not touched, and which sometimes was a capital crime. The word most often translated “abomination” to denote grave moral offenses is Tōʻēḇā. ~http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abomination_(Bible)

Homosexuality is an abomination because it takes God’s design for sex between a husband and wife and His design of the human body and perverts it into something He never designed for it to be. Men are not sexually compatible with other men. Women are not sexually compatible with other women. They may be able to get sexual pleasure from a member of the same sex, but physically, they are not designed to be sexually compatible. In God’s eyes, and by the very definition of sin, this is a perversion of what God made good and therefore the perversion is detestable, or an abomination, in His eyes.

(Now, concerning if a homosexual couple really love each other, that is not for anyone to say. I don’t feel like it is within my right to look at a person in a homosexual relationship and try to tell them they don’t love each other. That is between them and God.)

Here is what I am getting at. Many Christians want to always quote the OT verses about homosexuality to prove that it is somehow a worse sin than any other. But if you look at the context of the OT verses, you see that homosexuality is included in a list of sins that are detestable to God. Things like fornication and adultery. Many times you don’t see the same outcry against these sins as you do against homosexuality. But, if I am reading the Bible correctly, all these sins had the same consequence. Death.
But then again, the punishment for all sin is death. For. All. Sin.

One of the greatest examples of Christ living out grace that I see in the Gospel is when the woman was brought to him who had been caught in the very act of adultery. By OT Law, she should have been stoned right then, as well as the man with whom she had committed adultery. But what did Jesus do?
Here is what John records in his gospel. (A pretty reliable source, since he was probably right there. 😛 )

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said,“Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ~John 8:3-11

Here was a women who had been caught in a sin for which she should have been stoned. Living in Israel, I am sure she knew this. But Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself, the Word and the Giver of the Law, not only spared her, but forgave her. Remember, this is God Himself who has just overstepped His own Law and spared a women from a punishment she did indeed deserve. This is the same God who let a prostitute wash His feet. Another woman, caught in a sin worthy of stoning, and the Savior forgives her.

I cannot help but see this as an example of how we are supposed to treat people. If God can forgive adultery and fornication, how can He not forgive homosexuality? The Greeks, who He sent Paul too, were a culture where homosexuality was rampant. Homosexuality between males was accepted by the Greeks as a normal, healthy relationship. I won’t go into it here, but there are sites that explain that part of Greek culture without getting too graphic.
If God holds homosexuality in it’s own special category of almost-unforgivable sin, why did He send missionaries to Greece? Why did He not just wipe them out like He did Sodom & Gomorrah?

The only way I can answer that question is one word. Grace. Just as God extends grace to all sinners, He extends it to people caught in homosexuality. When Jesus gave these commands:

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~Matthew 22:35-41

And:

 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. ~Mark 16:15

I don’t see an exception. No footnote saying “Unless they are gay.” Pretty sure He says all.

So here is what I believe. Homosexuality is a sin. But God extends grace to all sinners. He can, and will save anyone.

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~Acts 20:21

I don’t see an “Unless they are gay” clause attached to that verse either. Just as I can be saved from my sins, I believe a gay person can be saved from homosexuality. And because grace has been extended to me, I must extend grace to all. How can I be a witness to the grace and saving power of God if I keep those who need it at arm’s length because “their sin is worse”? Will they see the goodness of God then, or just see a judgmental deity who is out to ruin their life? I am inclined to think the latter.

Everyone is my neighbor, including those in homosexuality. If I am a true follower of Christ, then I extend grace and love to them just like anyone else.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. ~1 Timothy 1:15

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Reminders

Today I was reading something that brought back so many memories for me. And not really good ones. I have started to think about this more as July gets closer and I am thinking about how me and my husband are going to raise our baby.

In my first post, I mentioned a struggle that I have dealt with throughout my adult life and how God is using it to help me understand His grace and how to extend grace to others. But the truth is, this struggle did not suddenly pop up one day when I was a teenager and I have been struggling how to deal with it since then. The truth is, this is a struggle that I have had since I was a child.

It would take too long to go into it all, so please just believe me when I say that even as a child, I knew that what I allowed myself to hear and think about was wrong. And for most of my childhood, I believed myself to be a dirty, sinful human who God would never use. I believed that I had to earn His favor, or He would never even look my way.

Looking back, I can see where, even then, God was teaching me about His grace. And sometimes, I believed it. But there is one thing that sticks out to me, even to this day, that put a halt to that belief and served only to plunge me into further self-loathing, anger, and hopelessness. I was in my Wednesday night class. I think I was about 14 or 15. I feel like, at that point, I had been growing as a Christian. I had been becoming more involved at church, and doing what I believed I needed to in order to serve God. And what I felt like was helping was I felt like I could look up to my teachers in Sunday School and my Wednesday night group. I believed that they were truly helping me and guiding me.
But on this particular night, we were talking about grace and I made the comment that I was thankful that God loved me and was working in me, despite all the wrong in my life. And here is where it all shattered. My teacher, a women who I trusted and looked up too, looked at me and said, “You can’t have done anything that bad.”  Now, I am not sure how she meant that, but here is what it said to a 14yo girl, trying to deal with something she had struggled with since childhood. “You can’t truly be thankful for God’s grace because you haven’t done anything that bad.”

Ok, in comparison, no, what I was struggling with wasn’t “that bad”. But from what I knew from reading the Bible, ALL sin grieved and offended God, whether it be big or little.

That comment, no matter how it was meant, made me feel  horrible. And I believed it. I believed that I was too small, too young, for God to bother with. I wasn’t mature enough to understand.

I also got angry at this teacher. How could she say something like that? She had no idea what I was dealing with or how I felt about it.

 

That may not seem like a big thing, but my point is this. All people need God’s grace. There is no point in our lives where we don’t need it. Also, there is no point in our Christian lives that we are incapable of coming to an awareness of the grace of God and being truly thankful for it.

Please, please, please never treat a child or a teenager like they cannot be thankful for God’s grace or that they are too young to come to an awareness of it. The things they are struggling with may be small in comparison to what you are struggling with or what they will encounter as adults. But at that point in their life, that may be the biggest thing they have struggled with so far. Just because it is small to you, doesn’t mean it is small to them. They may be feeling like I did. Small, dirty, and worthless. Thinking that God could not possible take time out of His busy, adult-centered schedule to worry about them, a small, lowly child. Why not take that time to help them understand God’s grace, rather then treating them like they are too little to really know what they are talking about. No one will ever fully understand God’s grace. It is unfathomable and completely overwhelming. Why not guide them in learning more about God and showing grace to others, instead of treating them like they don’t know what they are talking about. Children and teens need guidance, not a pat on the head and “oh you are so cute.” God doesn’t treat us like that. Why should we treat the children He has entrusted to us that way? Children are going to learn on their own that life is hard and the struggles only going to get worse. Instead of treating them like they don’t know what they are talking about, take the time to guide them through the little struggles, so they can be better equipped to meet the big struggles.

Anyway, that is my rambling post for now.