Tag Archives: Bible

The Dynasty Should Be Over

20131220-004009.jpg

I will admit that I have watched Duck Dynasty on occasion, I’ve even heard Jase Robertson speak in person. The show can be somewhat humorous, just to watch the stupidity of rednecks, but it’s a lie that purports to be real. It only takes a few shows to just see how fake this family is. I have friends who live in Louisiana, and just like in Alabama where this is not always the case, there is a vast amount of ignorance in the state. My friends are all academics, with fairly liberal views, but no matter where you go in America today, ignorance abounds. Phil Robertson is just the latest example of this ignorance, but I have a particular bone to pick with him. He is giving my religion a bad name.

You see, Phil is a minister with the churches of Christ and should know better than to misquote the Bible. By the way, I had already been peeved with the Robertson family for putting on a Christmas pageant at their church. No good member of the church of Christ is going to celebrate Christmas within the church because the birth of Christ is something that we believe should be celebrated year round; however, for sheer monetary gain, the Robertson family flaunted a Christmas Pageant at their church on their “Duck Dynasty: Robertson Family Christmas.” The episode itself was so far removed from what Christmas should be about that it sickened me. The church of Christ does not frown upon its members for celebrating Christmas, but we don’t celebrate the holiday as an official church activity. My own church had a Christmas party but it was hosted by one of our members who invited us all to her house for dinner, but was not sponsored by the church.

The thing is, in the church of Christ we do not add to or take away from the New Testament. Yet, Phil did just that in his comments to GQ Magazine. In his shocking interview with GQ’s Drew Magary, Phil Robertson — the 67-year-old patriarch of the Duck Commander kingdom that earned his Louisiana family a fortune and a hit A&E series — opened up about “modern immorality” and the gay community. In the interview, he stated:

It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.

Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine. Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

The emphasized part of the above quote is a misquoted and mistranslated version of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. The King James Version (which is one of the most accurate English translations) reads:

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malokois), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (arsenokoitai)
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

The English Standard Version, which is probably the mistranslation that Phil was quoting from, reads:

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.

Phil takes an incorrect view of the Bible with this passage. In the King James Version, I have put in parentheses the two original words that have caused the most controversy. There have been 44 different interpretations in English of the word malokois. Most common through history have been weaklings, effeminates, or homosexual. I believe all of these are incorrect interpretations of the word. Greek scholars say that in first century the Greek word malaokois probably meant “effeminate call boys.” The New Revised Standard Version says “male prostitutes.” Some biblical scholars have argued that the term is used for the word catamite, which is a fairly consistent interpretation by most Biblical scholars. A catamite was a young hairless boy used for sexual pleasure by older men. This derives from the more Ancient Greek practice of pederasty (remember that Corinth is in the Greek Peloponnesus). The practice that Paul is condemning is and always has been that of pedophilia, not homosexuality.

As for arsenokoitai, Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means — and the fact that we don’t know is a big part of this tragic debate. Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to the customers of “the effeminate call boys.” We might call them “dirty old men.” Others translate the word as “sodomites,” but never explain what that means. In 1958, for the first time in history, a person translating that mysterious Greek word into English decided it meant homosexuals, even though there is, in fact, no such word in Greek or Hebrew. But that translator made the decision for all of us that placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.

The fact is, there is no clear evidence that homosexual orientation or that the love between two men or two women is a sin. The Bible is completely silent on the issue of homosexual orientation. And no wonder. Homosexual orientation wasn’t even known as a term until the 19th century.

Phil Robertson claims that he studies his Bible and carries it with him always, yet he can’t even correctly quote the Bible. He continues to use a bad translation of the Bible in order to spew his vile comments to the world. The biggest problem with Phill Robertson is that he is a hypocrite. Robertson was once a substance abuser, but in the 1970s he turned his life over to Jesus, according to the Christian publication, The Southeast Outlook. He has since been a devout Christian and strives to be a scholar of the Bible. Like most people who come to Christianity later in life, Phil has become over zealous in his beliefs in order to atone for past sins. Instead of being a loving Christian man, who shows his generosity, he uses his fame and his Bible to browbeat his brand of Christianity onto those who disagree with him.

A representative from A&E released the following statement from Phil Roberston in response to the controversy:

I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

To be fair, I completely agree with the last three sentences of Phil’s statement; however, how much of it is true considering the statements he made in GQ and statements he’s made in past sermons and speeches. This isn’t the first time that Phil has spoken about against homosexuality, but this was the most public of his statements.

GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said it best when he released the following statement:

Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans –- and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples. Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.

In the backlash to Phil’s statements, A&E suspended Phil Robertson “indefinitely” from the reality series due to his comments about the LGBT community. How much will A&E stand by their suspension, especially with the rest of the Robertson clan standing firmly behind their patriarch? There is just too much money at stake for both A&E and the Robertsons. “Duck Dynasty” is on hiatus until Jan. 15, and a network spokesman said Thursday that nine of next season’s 10 episodes have already been filmed. That means Robertson likely isn’t needed in front of the camera before next March, by which time this whole crisis may have blown over. And blow over it will, eventually, says veteran Hollywood crisis publicist Howard Bragman, who added that Robertson will likely return to the show as well, perhaps after making a heartfelt apology.


Proverbial Giving

20131214-203817.jpg

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.
Proverbs 19:17

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.
Proverbs 14:31

I have to admit that when I was looking up some commentaries on giving and the Bible, too many of the sources I found focused on giving to the church. I give what I can to church, which is what I think of when the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:12 “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” Many churches though use this as a means of forcing a true tithe of 10 percent. However, even though we are in the season of giving, we should be giving and helping year round to those who need assistance.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commands us to give to the needy:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:1-4

Giving is not all about what you give to your local congregation, but what you give to those who are in need. We are to love our fellow man and not judge them. If we look down on the poor, the how can we look up to God. Some people blame God for the misfortunes of the world, I blame those who do not follow the teachings of love and charity. Do you have to be a Christian to have love for your fellow man or to be charitable to the less fortunate? Of course you don’t. But I will say this, too many people who call themselves Christian often follow the proverb “God helps those who help themselves.” The phrase is often mistaken as scriptural, but it appears nowhere in the Bible.

Political commentator Bill O’Reilly employed the phrase, in responding to Jim McDermott, the Democratic U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district, who argued, “This is Christmas time. We talk about Good Samaritans, the poor, the little baby Jesus in the cradle and all this stuff. And then we say to the unemployed we won’t give you a check to feed your family. That’s simply wrong.” O’Reilly argued for a more selective approach to unemployment benefits, and the importance of individual responsibility, concluding “while Jesus promoted charity at the highest level, he was not self-destructive. The Lord helps those who help themselves. Does he not?” Political comedian Stephen Colbert parodied him in response, concluding in character, “if this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we’ve got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition; and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.” Colbert may be a comedian who is often irreverent, but he makes a good point.

For the vast majority of us, misfortune finds us at one point or another. Various people have helped me during those unfortunate times, and I do my best to help those in need when I am able to help. Giving is not just for the red buckets of the Salvation Army during Christmastime bit for all year round. It is also not about gifts and money, because not all of us are able to do so, but it is about giving our love to those around us. Love is the greatest gift we can give.

Peace, love, and charity!


Agape and Optimism

20131207-233741.jpg

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Philippians 4:8

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

There are many people in this world who only look at the negatives of religion. They consider religion to be exclusive, not inclusive. They dwell on what not to do, instead of what should be done. Some of these same people are religious, others are not. However, this view of Christianity is as far from my belief as possible. This is a pessimistic view of religion, and as someone who decided years ago that a positive attitude is far greater than a negative attitude, I look to a far more optimistic view of Christianity.

The two verses above are just two of many examples in the Bible that shows the optimistic view of Christianity. More than anything, I believe in the inclusiveness of Christianity. God loves us all, and we are told that we should love all. This type of love is called agape. Agape often translated “unconditional love”, is one of the Koine Greek words translated into English as love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for humankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the covenant love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term necessarily extends to the love of one’s fellow man.

Although the word agape does not have specific religious connotation, the word has been used by a variety of contemporary and ancient sources, including biblical authors and Christian authors. Greek philosophers at the time of Plato and other ancient authors have used forms of the word to denote love of a spouse or family, or affection for a particular activity, in contrast to philia (an affection that could denote friendship, brotherhood or generally non-sexual affection) and eros, an affection of a sexual nature. The term agape is rarely used in ancient manuscripts, but was used by the early Christians to refer to the self-sacrificing love of God for humanity, which they were committed to reciprocating and practicing towards God and among one another (also see kenosis). When 1 John 4:8 says “God is love,” the Greek New Testament uses the word agape to describe God’s love.

Anyone who proclaims that Christianity is a negative religion and focuses only on what not to do, need look only at the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3-7:27) to be proven wrong. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) are enough in themselves to show the positive nature of what Christianity should be:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

If more people would follow the teachings of Jesus Christ instead of focusing on the negatives, then I honestly and wholeheartedly believe that the world would be a better place.


Thanksgiving

20131123-222237.jpg

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100

Thankfulness in God’s Word is a major theme throughout the Bible. But, the actual first official ceremony of Thanksgiving in the Bible is listed in Leviticus 7:11-15. “And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings that one may offer to the LORD. If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thanksgiving sacrifice unleavened loaves mixed with oil, unleavened wafers smeared with oil, and loaves of fine flour well mixed with oil. With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with loaves of leavened bread. And from it he shall offer one loaf from each offering, as a gift to the LORD. It shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering. He shall not leave any of it until the morning.” God ordained a practice of specific instructions to show gratitude. Clearly, gratitude is the door that opens peace in our hearts. God’s design for mankind is that giving thanks means receiving peace. Giving thanks in the Bible is the formula to peace because when we are truly thankful to God, we are expressing our trust in Him.

The theme of thanks in the Bible continues from the commanded thanksgiving sacrifices to the beautifully written Psalms of praise and thanks to our Lord. “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 106:1) And, Thanksgiving in the Bible continues to be practiced with Christ, giving thanks at the Lord’s supper. Paul wrote many times of his gratitude to Christ and for his gratitude to the followers of Christ. “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” (Philemon 1:4)

To celebrate a day of thanks is to take a day and clearly honor God in praise for the enormous blessings He has bestowed upon us. As Thanksgiving facts reveal a Biblical foundation, we know that this holiday must have more to do with honoring God than any other fact. When we look back at history, thanksgiving in the Bible, and the celebration that first took place in this country, we find that God’s people are to turn their hearts to Him, thanking Him for all things in all circumstances. Perhaps one of the most quoted scriptures in the New Testament says it best. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

Let us not only be thankful only one day a year but celebrate the greatness of our God with thanks everyday! I have realized in the last months or so, just how thankful I am to God for all that he has done for me. I thank Him for my family. I thank Him for my friends, new and old. I thank Him for my wonderful neighbors. I thank Him for this blog and the many people he has brought into my life because of it. I’m thankful to those people for sharing with me their hopes and dreams and allowing me to share mine. I thank Him for the many blessings he has bestowed on me. I thank God for his wisdom and for showing me, and all of us, His infinite love. I feel truly blessed, and I thank God for His bounty of blessings. It’s not just one day of the year, I am thankful to God each and every day.


A Good Foundation

20131116-233850.jpg

<blockquote>”Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
Luke 6:46-49

Sunday two weeks ago (I was sick last weekend), we looked at two of the problems that face us as people who have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The first problem is that even though we are “like God” in our ability to know right from wrong, we don’t always know what the best thing is to do. Sometimes we simply do bad things, knowing they’re bad. But, more often, we try to do good, and it turns out for evil, because our perspective is too small.

In the above passage of scripture, Jesus tells us how he can help us with that problem. The earliest disciples gathered around Jesus because they recognized him as a teacher of God’s wisdom. In the Gospel of John, we are told they thought of him as God’s Word made flesh–Holy Wisdom in human form.

Today, we can read Jesus’ teachings and find the same wisdom in them that his earliest followers did. Thanks to the writers of the Gospels, we can be Jesus’ disciples and he can be our teacher, even in the 21st century. This is how Jesus helps us with one of the big dilemmas of having eaten for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Instead of being stuck with our own small wisdom, we can build on the foundations of Jesus’ teachings. We can become wise people, who build our houses on rock. A house built on rock is more likely to be built well, and the same is true of our lives. If we build our lives on the rock of Christ’s teachings, we will more consistently do good instead of evil, and our lives will be sturdier.

I’m not implying that studying Jesus’ teachings is the only way to know how to do good more consistently. There are other teachers who taught us right from wrong. The Gospels are only 4 of the 66 books of the Bible, and God has given us other wise people to whom we should pay attention. However, listening to Jesus gives us a good foundation to build upon.

Many in the LGBT community, turn away from God because their congregation or people claiming to be Christians rejected them. I think one of the greatest things my parents did was to raise me in a loving church community. Not all churches of Christ are as loving and as accepting as mine was. I’m really not for sure how accepting they would be if they knew I am gay; however, with the love I have seen in my church, I think most members of my church would accept it. They certainly would not ask for me to leave the church. I was taught a good foundation for my faith, and I believe that it is that foundation that has kept my faith strong and unwavering.


Healing

20131109-190231.jpg

And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you knew, will he inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.
Deuteronomy 7:15

You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you.
Exodus 23:25

I still have a bad cold, though it is getting better. I had planned to write a post continuing the topic of temptation, but I just haven’t felt like typing much. Since the time in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God there has been sickness on earth. Sometimes we suffer from a common cold virus (as I do now) or maybe we are sick with a more serious disease. Regardless of the type of sickness; there are many Bible verses for the sick. I have included two such verses above. I hope that you are all doing well, and may God bless each of you.


Eating from the Tree

20131102-211349.jpg

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Genesis 3:1-7

Most of us probably think we know this story. God says, “Don’t eat the apple.” Adam and Eve disobey god and eat the apple — and sin comes into the world. The story has depicted in so many paintings and children’s books that it has become part of our subconscious. We know this story even if we weren’t raised in a church or never opened a Bible in our lives. However, I’d like for us to take a fresh perspective on this passage.

Before I go any further, I should probably say something about myth, which is the type of story this is. Being a myth doesn’t tell us anything about a story’s factuality, but it does mean that people who first told it thought it was true of every human. This is a story that happened, that happens, and that will always happen. As a myth, this passage says as much about us today as it does about Adam and Eve. Just like those earliest humans, each of us has eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Reading the story carefully, what are the consequences of eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil? God says if we eat of it, then we will surely die. The serpent says we will be like God, knowing good from evil. I believe both God and the serpent told the truth.

Unlike the rest of God’s creations, humans have the ability to know moral good from moral bad. We usually begin to gain this knowledge around the age of four. So eating from the Tree of Knowledge means that each of us is like God in that we know good from evil, but it also means that we will die. This causes profound problems for us.

The first problem is that, while we know good from evil, we don’t always do good. Although we are “like God” in our ability to differentiate between good and evil, we don’t have God’s perspective, so even when we think we are doing good, we make mistakes. This can paralyze us when we need to make decisions about what to do.

The second problem is that we fear death. The fear is not always strong, but the fact of our mortality is always with us, just under the surface. Sometimes the realization that we are mortal can paralyze us. We are afraid to things we know we should, because we don’t want to risk death.

I believe Jesus helps us to overcome these two problems. In the next week or so, we will look at how Jesus counteracts the effects from eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.


Fear Not!

20131012-215945.jpg

But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

Isaiah 43:1-7

In the Bible, the command “fear not” appears 65 times and another 200 times in different variations, such as “do not fear.” Of everything that commands us in the Bible, “fear not” might be the command that shows up most often.

This communicates two very important things. First, fear is probably the most common human condition. Second, it is the reaction to life least warranted by followers of Christ.

What do we fear? It might be, if you are in the closet, that we fear that someone will find out we are gay? We might fear how people will react to finding out we are gay. There may be other fears in our lives. We might fear that a financial setback will threaten our future. Or, maybe we fear the health of ourselves or loved ones. We might have anxiety over our future and what it may hold. There are many things in life we might fear, if we don’t trust in God.

Whatever our fear may be, we have an answer, and it’s right above in the scripture for today. The question we must ask ourselves is how much do we want to overcome our fears? Following Christ gives us a way.

Israel’s long history of oppression, captivity, and discrimination would seem to warrant a natural inclination to be fearful. Even with all of the wonderful, amazing miracles and moments of Israel’s deliverance from God, the prophet now delivers (verses 1, 5a, 6b, 7) one of the most beautiful and hopeful messages recorded. Yet it is not just for the nation of Israel; as children of God, we feel it resonates in our own hearts too.

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine….Fear not, for I am with you…bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Pay close attention to verse 4: “…you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…”

How is it possible when we recognize just how valued and loved we are, and when we see the hand of God in our life’s journey, we continue to struggle with fear? It may be because as LGBT Christians we are often told by congregations that we are not wanted and that God does not love us. However, go back and read the scripture again. Is there any mention of who God loves and who he doesn’t love? No, and that is because God loves all of us and we are all worthy of His love.

The dangers, afflictions, and challenges we face will not destroy us. Instead, God tells us “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2). This what God tells us, and God cannot lie.

So, fear not,because God has redeemed us, and because we are God’s children.


Laboring in God’s Word

20130831-150346.jpg

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 14:1-14

When you read what Philip said in verse 8 of John 14 does it seem like an unreasonable request? To the contrary, one might conclude that it was commendable. After all, what could be wrong with expressing a desire to see the Father whom Jesus often spoke about? Furthermore, Jesus had just mentioned that He would soon depart to go to the Father’s house and would come back for the disciples to take them there (John 14:1-3). No doubt this peaked the natural curiosity of Philip. What is the Father like? Yet, when we look at the reply of the Lord to Philip it is troubling. Philip was not commended, he was rebuked for his ignorance.

The end of the Lord’s public ministry was near and he did not fully grasp the most vital truth concerning Jesus – the manifestation of His Divine nature, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” Jesus had given proof of His Divine power throughout His ministry. Was it not Philip who said, “we have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write” (John 1:45). This led me to question how well the disciples of Jesus in our day know him? Do they understand all of the necessary truths that reveal the person and work of Christ revealed in God’s Word.

The early church father Jerome said, “to be ignorant of the Scripture is to be ignorant of Christ”. What I learn from the inquiry of Philip and Thomas (John 14:5) is that the duration of our exposure to truth does not guarantee that we are mature in the faith.

Last Sunday I mentioned that we must be hearers and doers of the Word. In Jesus we have the opportunity to overcome the nature of man. We can have the victory over the flesh by learning and applying the words of the truth. The path we are to follow is not the traditions of man, but the truth of the gospel of Christ. Seek His ways and you will find a path where there is no defilement. We must give ourselves to the “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

As far as I can tell the problem of Biblical ignorance is not due to a lack of resources. We have Bible dictionaries, systematic theology books, commentaries, lexicons, study Bibles, Christian internet web sites, books and more books from gifted authors. There is no end to the study aids at our disposal. However, all of these are of no use if we do not utilize them. They are tools to Bible understanding, but tools perform no work unless they are in the hands of the workman.

To study means to labor to discover the correct interpretation of a text. The problem is not ignorance, the problem is laziness and misplaced priorities. Some are like little babes who cannot feed themselves. This crowd is dependent on the spiritual food that comes only from the study others have done. The voice of their favorite Bible teacher has replaced the voice of the Holy Spirit who bears witness to the truth of His inspired Word through diligent personal study. Others are like Martha who was “troubled with many things (Luke 10:41).”

The maddening pace of the modern age is taking a toll on our lives, not only physically, but spiritually. We must learn from the great example set by Mary who “sat at Jesus feet and heard His word” (Luke 10:39). Take time today to sit alone at Jesus feet with your Bible and learn from Him. Consider this thought from the pen of William Whitaker, “God willed to have His truth, so sublime, so heavenly, sought and found with so much labor, the more esteemed by us on that account. For we generally despise and scorn whatever is easily acquired, near at hand, and costs small or no labor. But these things which we find with great toil and much exertion, those, when once we have found them out, we esteem highly and consider their value proportionally greater” – Disputations on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker 1588.


Questions and Answers

20130817-144142.jpg

A church of Christ minister emailed me a few weeks ago with some question regarding my posts about gay Christians and my views about the Church of Christ. In his comment, he stated:

I found your site interesting to come across. There certainly should be a place of discourse about homosexuality. I am a minister in the Church of Christ, and I do find that all sexual behavior outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and contrary to Christ’s words. I do know that many Christians can struggle with difficulties that make them feel on the edges of their church and faith to which I can relate. I think we can help each other. I do have some questions that I hope you can consider and respond.

In his comment and his subsequent email, he asked a number of questions which I will endeavor to answer. In my first email to him, I wrote:

I have struggled for many years to try and understand why God created me in a way that I do not have an attraction to the opposite sex, but an attraction to my own sex. I once asked myself if God made a mistake, but God does not make mistakes, therefore he had a purpose in the way he created me and those like me. I prayed and meditated. I read the Bible, searching for meanings of passages that were difficult to understand, even though some stated that their meaning was very clear and simple. God guided me in that study, as he guides me throughout life. I came to understand and believe that God created me the way I am, that the verses about homosexuality do not pertain to true love between human beings of the same sex, but as perverse sexual acts that are contrary to the teachings of Christ and the worship of Christ.

In what I have read of your views on homosexuality, which I plan to take a closer look to, you equate homosexuality with sexual practices only. Homosexuality is not all about sex. I can be a homosexual and still not engage in sexual practices. There are many who do. However, we are judged by our perceived sexual lifestyle. I am not denying that I have never fornicated, but I have also sought forgiveness for my prior indiscretions.

In his response, he asked how I knew I was born homosexual. While it is true that most people do not develop sexual attraction until puberty, there is more to being homosexual than sex. Though I won’t claim that I was always aware of my homosexuality, it is more because I did not understand. I had no concept of homosexuality, but I certainly knew that I was different. Most homosexuals felt the same way growing up. Most of us did not have the same interests as other boys. I preferred to play with the girls when growing up. I never enjoyed playing sports, though my parents forced me to. So you might ask, how I came to understand my sexuality. It was not easy. When sexual interests began in puberty, it was an attraction to boys not girls. My dreams and fantasies were about boys. Though I tried to think of girls in the same way, it did not arouse me. It took a lot of internal wrestling to come to terms with my sexuality.

Some of the other questions my commenter had that I would like to address:

What do you think it would be like to be a Christian without the desires of homosexuality? How would life be any better?

If I were not homosexual, then I would not have struggled with coming to terms with being gay and Christian. My parents would not worry about me because their concept of Christianity believes that I am damned to hell. In ways, life would be better, but I am the way God created me. I firmly believe that God created me as a homosexual and guided my strong Christian faith because he had a purpose for me. We all have trials and temptations. God tests our faith, as he did Job and Abraham, and so many others. James 1:2-4 says “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” However, being homosexual strengthens my faith, not lessens it, and I take joy in that, just as God commands.

With many Christians struggling with temptations of sexual immorality, did you ever see yourself as enslaved your homosexual desires as sin?

Before I studied the scriptures and understood the true meanings of its words, yes, I did feel that I was enslaved by my homosexuality and sin. However, when I studied the true meanings of the words, with faith that God was guiding my study, I came to believe differently. I will not repeat this journey, but instead I urge you to go back and read my post “Abusus Non Tollit Usum.”

Do you still think that sexual desires can be deceptive and entice someone to sin (Jas. 1:14-15, 1 John 2:15-17)?

Yes, I do believe that sexual desire, as well as all other desires of this world, can entice someone to sin. However, this is universal, and does not pertain to homosexuals alone, but to all Christians regardless of their sexuality. When we take verses and place a sexual meaning to them, especially when it has such a wider meaning, then we are perverting the Word of God.

Regarding Jesus, what do you think Jesus means concerning sexual immorality defiling the heart in Mark 7:20-23? What sexual immorality would He have in mind and how would we know what He meant?

This was the last of the questions asked, and I think I deserves a post of its own, so I will continue this next Sunday.

Thank you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and may God bless us to live in His love.


Consider Faith: A Blog on Christian Social Justice

A blog on Social Justice from the Christian Perspective

A Gay Christian Life

Love is Love <3

BosGuy

The life and interests of a gay, urban professional from Boston

myhusband&i

two guys making out & trying to make it

NAKd.life Opus

Real men. Really NAKd.

Jamie Fessenden's Blog

The musings of a gay fiction author

Stumbling Through Life

the struggles of a Pansexual Christian

jackiperrette

exploring life, writing & alternative romance

gaygeeks.wordpress.com/

Authors, Artists, Geeks, Husbands

A Queens' Queen in Exile

Memoirs on the death of camp

Kade Boehme

Southern boy...hold the charm...extra sass.

The Amazon Iowan

Blog of Author Heidi Cullinan • full website at heidicullinan.com

Mia Kerick

Love is What I See

The Novel Approach Reviews

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

badass theology

very reformed. very christian. very gay.

Get It Write

Perseverance Press authors' blog

Lane Hayes

Starting From Scratch

skylarmcates

Close to the Heart Romances