Monthly Archives: August 2014

Children of God

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And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

1 John 2:28-3:3

We come first to a section on the privileges of the children of God. Quite simply, those who are children of God have confidence with God, a theme that is repeated often in the First Epistle of John. Such repetition suggests that the readers may well have lacked this confidence, and John wishes to instill in them a vibrant conviction of their salvation. At the least, the return again and again to the theme of assurance points to the beliefs and experience of the author himself. He affirms that in Christ we can indeed have confidence with God, and he has experienced this in his own life.

If God’s blessings are sure and secure, why must believers be commanded to “remain” and to continue in their faith? Do these commands suggest that these readers can lose their status as God’s children? Are they in danger of facing God’s judgment? These various commands, which urge continued steadfastness, are not intended to frighten the readers or to suggest their inadequacies or failures to abide in Christ. Quite the contrary, these words encourage them to continue faithfully in the direction that they have been heading all along. The command admonishes them, but it does so by affirming them in their present course. They have abided; they must continue to do so. Encouragement and exhortation are joined together.

When we continue faithfully in relationship with God, we can be confident and unashamed before God when Christ comes. These two adjectives suggest opposing positions: one will either come into God’s presence confident or one will come in shame. The shame of which the elder speaks is not the shame that believers sometimes imagine that they will or ought to feel in the presence of one who is righteous and pure. It is not embarrassment for those things which we have done wrong. In fact, it is not something that believers are expected to experience at all. Rather, the “shame” that is spoken of here is the disgrace or rejection that unbelievers will experience when they come into judgment. And, in context, those who come into such “disgrace” are those who do not “abide.”

The command (“abide in Christ”) functions in two ways. On the one hand, it exhorts readers to continued faithfulness to God as God is made known in Christ. Yet, on the other hand, it is a promise. For it promises to those who continue in their commitment to God that nothing will bring them to shame at the judgment. In this light, the statement you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of God seems both out of place and possibly even at odds with the promise of confidence before God. For who truly “does right” just as Christ is righteous?

Two points must be noted. First, the statement serves to remind readers that righteousness is not simply an intention or feeling, but is manifested in deed and truth, in the moral quality of one’s life. Righteousness is the responsibility of those privileged to be God’s children. Second, righteous behavior provides confirmation of our relationship with God. Righteous conduct does not make us God’s children. Rather, such conduct is the consequence or expression of a relationship that already exists. Privilege carries with it responsibility. This leads directly to reflections on the designation children of God.

Three important ideas are inherent in the assertion that we are God’s children: First, it is by God’s initiative and power that we are born as the children of God. We do not bring about this relationship any more than a newborn baby caused its own birth and gave itself life. Second, that God calls us children of God inaugurates a reality that will be brought to its fruition at a future time. Again, as a newborn baby lies in its parents’ arms, they see it with eyes of hope, possibility and promise. A newborn’s birth is not the goal of its existence; its growth and maturity are. Third, that we are God’s children is evidence of God’s active and creative love for us.

The world’s failure to recognize Christians as God’s children could refer to a general lack of understanding on the part of unbelievers as to what Christian life and claims are all about. In the historical context it may also refer specifically to the failure of the dissidents to accept the claims of the early Christians. But John reminds his readers that such lack of recognition should not surprise them, for the world did not recognize Jesus’ relationship to God either. But even as there will come a time of public manifestation and recognition of Jesus, so there will be a full revelation of what the children of God will be. If we are God’s children now, even though the world does not recognize us, what we shall be someday is not known even to us. But since God’s children are to reflect God, and since we are promised that when we see God we shall be like God, we can assume that what we shall be someday brings to fullness and completion the identity that we now cherish as God’s own children.

As GLBT Christians, we are often not recognized as Children of God by many who call themselves Christians, but that does not lessen our faith. We must continue to follow God’s word and strengthen our relationship with God. God gives us the promise of eternal life in exchange for eternal faith. These promises give us hope. My most fervent hope is that one day all Christians will recognize the faith of GLBT Christians. Christianity will be a true rainbow faith that encompasses all who believe, and we will cease judging others, since only God may judge. I know it is not something that will happen quickly, but we must become more accepting of everyone for Christianity to be what Jesus established.

Hope can’t be hurried. Hope is like a baseball game. Once a runner gets on base, it may take several other hitters before the runner can make it home. The next hitter my strike out or be called out on first. The next may get on base and the first hitter will advance to second. And so it goes. We want a home run every time, but sometimes we must be patient. We want a grand slam every time the bases are loaded, but sometimes we are only able to hit one runner in. Hope can progress slowly. It can take time, but if you’re a fan of baseball, you know to never lose hope. God wants us to be like good baseball fans, no matter how slowly things progress, we must keep hope alive. As Children of God, hope is what abides our faith.


Moment of Zen: College Football

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SMTTT!

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Roll Tide!

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War Eagle!

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Jason Mraz

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I was watching this week’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” and Jason Mraz was the musical guest. I love Jason Mraz. His voice is so sexy and smooth, and he’s so damn cute. I said that to a friend of mine, and he said Jason had to be gay or bisexual. He said, “Jason Mraz has a cock tattoo tramp stamp. What straight man gets a tattoo like that?” I have to agree with him there, even though Mraz identifies as straight.

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Mraz is a social activist whose philanthropic efforts span wide-ranging issues, including the environment, human rights and LGBT equality. In 2012, he was featured as the first-ever straight man on the cover of Instinct magazine in recognition of his efforts in support of LGBT rights. The Jason Mraz Foundation was established in 2011, with a mission to support charities in the areas of human equality, environment preservation and education. Organizations supported by the foundation include VH1’s Save The Music Foundation, MusiCares, Surfrider Foundation, Free the Children, Life Rolls On, the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the True Colors Fund, which promotes LGBT equality.

In May 2010, Mraz attended the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast, a 1000 person event to acknowledge the late Harvey Milk, and was so moved that he took to his myspace blog to talk about the importance of equality.

When I was in high school, I experienced being bullied. For whatever reason, there were a few students that enjoyed calling me ‘f****t’ as I walked thru the lunchroom. On one occasion, just before graduation, I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and picked up a few punches, kicks and scrapes to add to my story. I never knew why the handsome lads called me names or felt the need to bully me, but it happened and I let their actions contribute a great deal to my moving away from that community.

Shortly after the row, my best friend came out, sharing with his friends and family that he was gay. In my small town, this was uncommon and since then I’ve considered my friend to be the bravest man in the world. Aware of the hate within our community, I was afraid my friend might be inviting trouble to his door – but that never stopped him from being fully expressed.

This is why I am actively seeking equality for the whole. When all of us are acknowledged as the human equals that we really are, there will be no space left for bullying. It will no longer be wrong to choose one thing over another. Equality and Separation cannot exist in the same space.

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Jason has always been vocal about feeling like part of the GLBT community. He told British gay magazine Attitude back in July 2003 on his first interview that he knew “this gay guy who I became really good friends with. We really enjoyed each other’s company. I mean, I’d do everything with this guy- I’d sleep on his bed, drive his car, share every moment of the day with him. On Valentine’s Day we ended up in this really nice French restaurant and we looked like a couple. All of the sudden it dawned on me that I had been dating him for the last two months!”

When asked if he had a sexual relationship with this gay friend, Mraz added “He was a gentleman, though, he never crossed the line.” When the interviewer asked if he wished the guy had crossed the line, he answered “Mmm, I don’t know, maybe. The thing with me is that I can fall in love with anyone, man or woman, it’s what is their head that counts!”

Mraz is truly phenomenal. I’ve mentioned the book The Return before, and Mraz’s statement remind me of a passage from the book. One of the characters has a theory that sexuality is becoming increasingly fluid and in several generations sexual orientation will no longer exist as people fall in love with people regardless of gender. I don’t know if I agree with that theory, but sexuality is definitely becoming more accepted, and I do believe a day will come when sexuality is not an issue and we can all be as open and free as we want to be.

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By the way, if you have been watching “So You Think You Can Dance,” I hope that you are pulling for the amazing dancer Ricky Ubeda. He is incredibly sexy and, of course, talented. I’m really rooting for him to win.


Still Yucky

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Though I do feel some better, I had a bad migraine last night and decided to go to bed early. So I’m taking another day off from blogging. Hopefully, I will feel much better by tonight and be able to actually write a decent post for tomorrow.


Feeling Yucky

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I think it’s my allergies acting up. I woke up (well wake up is not the right word because without coffee, in not really awake) yesterday just feeling yucky. Just tired and achy all over, but not fever or flu-like, just achy. I went on to school, and it was an okay day at school, in fact some classes went exceptionally well, but I never did shake the yucky feeling. I’m hoping today will be better. I don’t want to be coming down with anything.


Can’t Help Falling In Love

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“Can’t Help Falling In Love”
written by Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore and George David Weiss

Wise men say only fools rush in
but I can’t help falling in love with you
Shall I stay
would it be a sin
If I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can’t help falling in love with you

Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
some things are meant to be
take my hand, take my whole life too
for I can’t help falling in love with you
for I can’t help falling in love with you

I can’t help falling in love with this song. It is such a beautiful love song, which basically says that we can’t choose who we love. Even if it’s a sin to fall in love and stay, you have no choice but to love the person you fall for. Some things really are meant to be. One day I hope to find that love that is meant to be. I’ve fallen in love, without a doubt there are two men that I am in love with, but in each case (and I will always love them, no matter what), there was something that got in the way, and it was not meant to be. Someday, though it will be meant to be. I refuse to give up hope.


A/S/L: Let’s Give This A Try

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I saw this on Wicked Gay Blog and since I needed a quick post for today, I thought I’d copy it. I hope Dave won’t mind. I’ve followed his blog for about five or six years and always love what I find there.

Age, Sex, Location….and if you would be so kind, how long have you been reading The Closet Professor and how did you hear about my blog? And maybe even a little about you. I think it would be really neat to get to know some of you better.

I will get us started!!!

My name is Joe, I am a male, I live in Alabama, and I have been following this blog from the first day I started it a little over 4 years ago. Oh, and I am a 36 years, high school social studies and English teacher and occasional part-time college instructor looking for full time employment as a college instructor.


The New, Old Commandment

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Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

1 John 2:7-14

In 1 John 2:3-6, the apostle gives a test by which you can know that you truly know Jesus Christ, namely, if you walk in obedience to His word. In 2:6, he states, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Then, in 2:7-11, John goes on to apply this test of obedience more specifically to the area of love. If Jesus’ life and especially His death epitomized love, then those who claim to follow Him are obligated to live in love.

In the Upper Room, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus demonstrated His great love for the disciples by taking a towel and a basin of water and washing the disciples’ feet. After that unforgettable object lesson, He drove the point home (John 13:14-15), “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.” He was not instituting a ceremonial foot-washing service, where everyone comes with clean feet to be washed! He was saying something much more difficult to practice, that we who follow Jesus must set aside our rights and serve one another out of love.

In that same chapter (John 13:34-35), Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Obviously, those words of Jesus were behind John’s words about the old, new commandment. It may be that the heretics against whom John was writing claimed to have some “new” truths. Using an obvious play on words, John counters them by saying that we don’t need new truth, but rather the old truth that his readers learned early in their Christian experience. On the other hand, if you want “new” truth, John says that the old commandment is the new commandment, which Jesus gave to us. In short,

Loving one another is an essential mark of a true Christian.

John never specifically identifies the old, new commandment in these verses, and he only mentions love once in this entire section (2:10). But his reference to the new commandment makes it obvious that he is referring to Jesus’ command to love one another.

This commandment was old in two senses. First, it was old in that Moses taught it in the Law, “… you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Jesus identified this as the second greatest commandment, after the command to love God with all your being (Matt. 22:37-40). So in that sense, this command had been with God’s people for 1,400 years.

But the main sense in which this was an old commandment is that these believers had heard it from the very earliest days of their Christian experience (2:7): “… which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard.” John uses the phrase, “from the beginning,” in the same way in 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

The “New Commandment”, the Wycliffe Bible Commentary states, “was new in that the love was to be exercised toward others not because they belonged to the same nation, but because they belonged to Christ…and the love of Christ which the disciples had seen…would be a testimony to the world”.

One of the novelties introduced by this commandment – perhaps justifying its designation as New – is that Jesus “introduces himself as a standard for love”. The usual criterion had been “as you love yourself”. However, the New Commandmant goes beyond “as you love yourself” as found in the ethic of reciprocity and states “as I have loved you”, using the Love of Christ for his disciples as the new model.

The First Epistle of John reflects the theme of love being an imitation of Christ, with 1 John 4:19 stating: “We love, because he first loved us.”

John tells his readers that they have had this commandment “from the beginning,” and then identifies it as “the word which you have heard” (2:7). It was part and parcel with the gospel that they had believed at the outset of their Christian experience. When we hear and respond to the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners, at that point the love of God is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). The first fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:22). As I mentioned, the entire Bible may be summed up by the two great commandments, to love God and to love one another. So learning how to establish and maintain loving relationships is not “graduate level” Christianity. It is basic, beginning Christianity.

It all begins with how you think about others. Instead of thinking first about yourself, your feelings, your rights, and your needs, you must learn to think first about others. How can I show this difficult person the love of Jesus Christ? How can I serve this person in love? Rather than thinking angry thoughts about how he wronged you and how you’ll get even, you begin to think about how Jesus wants you to think about the one who mistreated you. You begin to pray for this person, that he would come to know Jesus. You look for opportunities to return good instead of evil. I recommend that you write out Paul’s description of love (1 Cor. 13:4-7) on a card and read it over several times each morning, until you have in your mind how a loving person acts.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I have often written about people who profess to know Christ, but their relationships are marked by anger, abusive speech, bitterness, and self-centeredness. Invariably, they don’t have a clue as to why they keep experiencing such hate. While I do not know their hearts (only God does), their lives do not give evidence that they have experienced the love of God in Jesus Christ. Rather, they seem to be in spiritual darkness, blindly colliding from one profession of hate to the next. They do not practice biblical love, which is an essential mark of every true Christian.

Again, none of us loves perfectly. When we fail, we need to repent and ask forgiveness of the one we wronged. It is a lifelong process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. But those who have met Him at the cross will be growing in love for others.

Also, note that love for others is a commandment, not a warm, gushy feeling. That should give you hope, because God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) and God’s Spirit gives us the grace and power to obey His commands, which are for our good. Biblical love is a self-sacrificing, caring commitment that shows itself in seeking the highest good of the one loved. You can obey the commandment to love others!

So if you’re thinking, “But I don’t love my mate any more,” or, “I just don’t like that difficult person,” the Bible is clear: Get to work obeying God’s commandment to love him or her. It’s not optional for the follower of Christ. It’s essential!


Moment of Zen: Ryan Kelley

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Ryan Kelley, aka Deputy Jordan Parrish on MTV’s Teen Wolf, is without a doubt my moment of zen this week. Not only is he, in my humble opinion, one of the hottest men on television right now, he’s also a model (see photo below) and if his Instagram is any indication, an animal lover (see photo above). Ryan Kelley is just so damn hot.

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It’s Time: SCOTUS and Marriage Equality

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The U.S. Supreme Court has stepped in to block a federal appeals court ruling that would have allowed gay marriages to begin in Virginia on Thursday. The decision was widely expected and tells little about how the high court will ultimately rule on the issue. It merely preserves the status quo. Now, it’s up to the Supreme Court. It’s unlikely they will continue a perpetual stay on the issue. The federal courts have been moving quickly on the issue, and the Utah and Virginia cases have passed through the appellate courts and await the Supreme Court. Virginia asked the justices to decide the gay marriage constitutional question “as quickly as possible.”

The first opportunity for the court to take action would be when it meets Sept. 29 for its first conference of the new term. But even if the court decides to go ahead and take the Utah case, which likely will be the first one there, the timetable for filing briefs would put the argument at mid- to late January at the earliest. If this timetable occurs, the Supreme Court could issue a ruling by late spring 2015.

Many court specialists believe the justices will go ahead and take either the Utah or Virginia case early in the term. Other experts think the justices may want to wait for a decision from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, where the panel at argument this month sounded as though it would uphold the ban on gay marriage. That would provide a conflict in the lower courts for the Supreme Court to resolve.

To date there have been 37 pro-gay marriage rulings in state and federal courts since the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law barred federal recognition of marriages performed in states where such unions are legal, and set the stage for a nearly unanimous set of rulings in the lower courts issued by both Republican and Democratic appointees.

While the nations lower courts have consistently overturned gay marriage bans, the Supreme Court will likely be forced to make a final decision on the matter. This is a risky proposition. Equal protection should give the Supreme Court no choice but to say that all states must recognize same sex marriages from states where it is legal. Will they go a step further and make it legal in all states, or issue a partial ruling such as in the case of the Defense of Marriage Act? However, if the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals does uphold the ban, the Supreme Court could do the same, and marriage equality will take a step backwards, or at the very least remain static. Federal recognition could remain, and state recognition could continue to be a state issue.

Nineteen of the 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, currently allow same-sex marriage. How likely do you think it is that the United States will have nationwide marriage equality by the summer of 2015?


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