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Straight Talk about Homosexuality
In the mid 90's, a Presbyterian minister named Steve Brown conducted an interview with the lesbian Pastor from the largest Gay Church in America. Steve had already laid the ground rules for their dialogue regarding the expected, conservative, fundamentalist stance on homosexuality. Essentially, he agreed not to state the obvious and refused to "go there." Instead, Steve displayed one of the most loving, concerned examples of a Christian that I've ever seen as he interviewed this woman. In so doing, I heard her say, softly and sincerely, that gay people sin just as any other Christians sin. She explained that when a person becomes convicted of their sins, godly sorrow leads to repentence from those sins. She admitted that, as a Christian homosexual herself, she simply has not been convicted...condemned, yes, by other believers...but not convicted by the Holy Spirit. Steve replied, "You realize you sound somewhat like a heretic in the gay community by saying these things...." She nodded, "Well, it's the truth."
The presentation was so touching, so inspirational, that the station later re-ran the program by popular demand. Brown had remained aware throughout the interview that although the apostle Peter told us, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have," he also said, "But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).
Was this woman speaking for all homosexuals everywhere? Doubtful. No more than yours truly speaks for everyone presently reading this article. The point is, just as this lesbian minister alluded, how many of us are knowlingly, secretly, doing that which is sinful, yet we persist? We may even pray fervently, quietly, that God would help us. I've been there. Especially in matters of forgiveness, knowing what was required of me but wanting to have a few moments alone in which to hate somebody's guts.
Is homosexuality a sin? According to Scripture, I believe it's very clear that it is. As I read Genesis 19:4-5; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; I Timothy 1:9-10, it seems clear. Lest we forget, homosexuality is no worse a sin than over-eating, hatred, gossip, doubt, unbelief, rage, rebellion and theft. My own sins are no worse and, as result of the Cross of Christ, are forgiven and forgotten forever. Because His mercy is new every morning, we literally have no past every day! That's great news! The best news is that this forgiveness and mercy is available to ALL. Now THAT is the loving, hope-filled message that Christians should be sharing with those trapped in gay lifestyles. Not to mention those trapped in adultery, substance abuse, unforgiveness or any other sin. Rather than pointing the unfeeling finger of accusation, we must ask ourselves if we qualify for throwing out that first stone.
Do we care? I was preaching one Sunday years ago and announced that I was considering placing a banner on the street that said, "This Sunday is Gay Day!" A hush came over the group. Some nervously laughed. Very telling. On the love-meter, I'm afraid we weren't where I thought we were as a group.
Too often, as a whole, the Body of Christ seems more concerned with outward appearances than we are with the bondages an individual may be saddled with. We go through our spiritual check-lists: Was he baptized? Does he attend church? Is he regularly in Sunday School? We may never know what another person is struggling with deep inside - and we won't, as long as we continue in our prescribed methods of what we typicaly refer to as "ministry." Homosexuality, a life as an abused child, addiction to everything from porn to pot, thoughts of suicide...any one we know may be wrestling with these issues. Too often, we settle for church attendance as our gauge of how well an individual is doing. We're so impressed by outward appearances, aren't we? In contrast, God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).
But I digress.
Tolerance at all costs!
Tolerance has become the sole absolute of our society, the queen mother of all social values. Kids are hearing it preached every day in Secular Indoctrination Centers (excuse me...Public Schools) and in the media. Unbeknowst to most Christians, tolerance is a threat to our very faith.
Some might say that tolerance merely means to recognize and respect all beliefs, practices, and so forth regardless of whether we agree with them or not. After all, we all have a right to our own opinion, right?
Today, tolerance means to consider every individual's beliefs, values, lifestyle and claims about truth as being equally valid. So, not only do we have equal rights to our own beliefs - which we DO - but these days, all beliefs are being seen as equal. It's no longer enough to merely respect another person's rights; we're expected to endorse their beliefs, values and lifestyles as well.
That is, of course, unless those beliefs are Christian in nature. Then it's open season.
When one openly discusses the diety of Christ, His sinless lifestyle, His resurrection, how He is the ONLY way to salvation, people get up in arms. We hear such things as, "How dare you say that?" Wearing a T-Shirt that reads "Jesus is Lord" is to imply that no one else CAN be and it makes people mad. As Christian speaker Josh McDowell states, "The issue is no longer the truth of the message, but the right to proclaim it. In the new cultural climate, any unpopular message can be labeled "intolerant" and therefore be repressed."
Former President Bill Clinton linked so-called "hate crimes" to intolerance when he was in office and said, "The No. 1 security threat to [our nation] is the persistence of old, even primitive hatreds.'' Since when does intolerance equal hatred? It does in today's version of tolerance. Where homosexuality is concerned, the Bible, fundamentalist, conservative Christians and Jesus Himself are taking quite a beating. Across the globe, more and more nations are embracing the gay agenda.
Tolerance at all costs? Romans 6:23 says, "...the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." William Barclay paraphrases the verse in this way, "If we got the pay we had earned it would be death; but out of His grace God has given us life." The word "wages" (opsonia) in the original Greek language means, "provision money," or supplies paid to an army. The soldiers earned their wages and were paid in daily provisions of food. Sin pays wages in full, without any deductions.
Another Greek word we should learn is metanoia, or "Repent." It literally means "to change one's mind."
It's not too late. But just as the "straight" Christian world is loaded with sins of its own, we must remain cognizant of the fact that there are people out there who love the Lord despite being gay. We, too, may be in need of repentance, i.e., changing our minds, too. All Christians must teach new disciples, as well as our own children, to embrace all people, but notALL their beliefs. We can listen and learn from everyone without necessarily agreeing with them. We can courageously but humbly speak the truth, even if it makes us the object of scorn. Jesus said all men would hate us because of Him. Make certain that, if anyone hates you, it's ONLy because of Jesus and NOt because you hate them, too.
Legal Gay Marriage around the World:
Belgium: Legalized gay marriage in 2002.
Britain: Plans to introduce legislation soon authorizing civil unions giving gay couples legal recognition with most of the rights enjoyed by married partners.
Canada: Legalized gay marriage July 2005.
Denmark: The first country to legalize same-sex unions in 1989, later giving couples adoption rights. Other Nordic countries followed in 1990s.
France: Allows civil unions since 2000.
Germany: Introduced civil unions in 2001.
The Netherlands: Became the first country to legalize gay marriages outright in 2001.
Portugal: Lesbian and gay couples who live together acquire the same rights as heterosexuals in common-law marriages.
Spain: Gay marriages made legal, June 2005.
South Africa: Recognized gay rights in its constitution after apartheid ended in 1994. Activists are preparing litigation to have the common law definition of marriage extended to include same-sex couples.
Switzerland: Its largest city, Zurich, started recognizing registered gay couples in July 2005. Geneva also recognizes same-sex couples, although grants them fewer rights.
In the United States, Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay marriages; Vermont and Connecticut have approved same-sex civil unions. California is feeling the pressure.
In Jim Nelson Black's book "When Nations Die," as he describes the fall of all the world's great empires, he writes, "Sexual promiscuity led to the downfall of these nations...." Although he also mentions that homosexuality was prevelant within each fallen empire, so was immorality among those we would refer to as being "straight." Abortion, infanticide and strangulation of children were commonplace in these "advanced" cultures as unwanted children were seen as a burden in an atmosphere of hedonism.
The shedding of innocent blood really does bring a curse upon the land. It wasn't just homosexuality that caused each empire's demise. It was the perverse hedonism of those who were straight and "normal," too.
What God requires of us
Do we stop speaking the Truth? No, not when Jesus said, 'If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'" (John 8:31,32). That Truth is Jesus Himself for he declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,"(John 14:6). He was either a liar, a lunatic or He really was - and IS -Lord of all things.
But when we speak the truth, let us be sure that we are speaking the truth in love for, as the Bible says in Ephesians 4:15, by doing so, we will "grow up into Christ." Lord knows we could use some growing up. Do we love those who say they are gay? If you were/are gay, would you/do you love those Christians who are straight whose lifestyles are loaded with sin?
One final thought regarding the Tolerance vs. Love issue. Josh McDowell says:
"Tolerance says, "You must approve of what I do." Love responds, "I must do something harder; I will love you, even when your behavior offends me."
Tolerance says, "You must agree with me." Love responds, "I must do something harder; I will tell you the truth, because I am convinced 'the truth will set you free.' "
Tolerance says, "You must allow me to have my way." Love responds, "I must do something harder; I will plead with you to follow the right way, because I believe you are worth the risk."
Tolerance seeks to be inoffensive; love takes risks.
Tolerance glorifies division; love seeks unity.
Tolerance costs nothing; love costs everything.
Jesus is proof of that.
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Pastor Michael has been broadcasting his eMail messages of Discipleship and encouragement to Christians of all denominations since 1999. These messages are literally reaching millions each week and the messages are being re-posted on other Christian sites,used as Bible studies for groups, and are being used by those in ministry as a preaching guide.
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