My blog pertains to speaking compassionately yet forthrightly about the pressing issues and events of our day. The recent decision by the Supreme Court to legalize same sex marriage for all 50 states changes the cultural fabric of our country in significant ways. As a pastor who must walk the tightrope with grace and truth, I must address the spiritual aspects of this decision and its impact on, not only the culture, but the church of Jesus Christ. Let me say that significant people who have chosen to practice the gay lifestyle are in my life. I love them with Christ’s love, yet I don’t condone nor celebrate the practice any more than I would for violating any of God’s instructions on how to live life. I also pastorally oversaw a wonderful ministry in the mid 90’s which ministered to men who suffered from AIDS. News flash! No one is perfect, yet God is looking for people who are impoverished and needy knowing they are distressed and downcast. For He is our Good Shepherd! The $64,000 question (actually the inestimable price was paid by Jesus) is if people are willing to repent and be forgiven for all of their sins and desire for the Holy Spirit to bring forth transformational change. My hope is that the reader both gay and straight would be willing to have God straighten out what is bent in all of us.
In this past month there have been various reactions anywhere from rejoicing and celebrating to melancholy and dread that the world will end. Jesus, of course, who is the Highest Judge fulfilled the law and the prophets. He didn’t cancel the Bible’s ethical code. It really doesn’t matter what my opinions are. What is paramount is what God’s Word says. Jesus, who is the Word of God, still has something to say to humanity. Many in the LGBT community want to justify their lifestyle as they point out that Jesus didn’t address homosexuality. So it must be okay! True, Jesus didn’t specifically speak about homosexuality. Yet He also didn’t speak about pedophilia, bestiality, rape, incest or a host of other sins. A variety of sins have plagued humanity for millennium however, in the context that Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, the sermon was directed toward those to whom he initially came to…the Jewish community. Particular transgressions, like homosexuality, were not rampant in the Jewish community of Jesus’ day, thus the reason it was unnecessary to include it to his initial audience. However, pride, divorce, hatred, lack of compassion and hypocrisy were. The Word of God has enough to say about the practice of homosexuality so that an honest reader of Holy Scripture can’t hold to a position that God sanctions it. To do so is intellectually and spiritually dishonest. Paul, the Apostle, who was the evangelist and apostle to the Gentile-pagan world, would directly confront the sin of homosexuality in Romans and I Corinthians because it was more accepted and widespread in the Greco-Roman pagan world. It was a practice that must be recognized as sin and be repented of or, as Paul clearly writes in I Corinthians 6:9, one will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The Scripture isn’t condemning those humble in heart who know it is wrong and may still unfortunately struggle, it condemns the unrepentant, proud and those who have no regard about what God has to say about not only their sexuality, but their lives in general. In Jude 1:7 it is clear that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah wasn’t a lack of hospitality, that some proponents of homosexuality have incredibly asserted, rather is consistently about fornication and going after, Jude writes, “strange or different flesh” (from numerous translations). Nothing about hospitality there! The NIV translators use “sexual immorality and perversion”, ESV uses “sexual immorality and unnatural desire” and the ISV uses “sexual sins and homosexual activities”
Let’s just be honest. God is not schizophrenic despite those who want to add their voice to homosexuality’s allowance, in what they believe are incredible “gotcha’s” arguing about head coverings, tattoos, prohibitions of shell fish etc., so as to hopefully silence their critics. There are reasonable explanations for those for the student of Scripture. One is that homosexuality is forbidden for all times and for all people and the issue of not eating shell fish was a temporary dietary law for Jews. Yet God has not changed his view on morality including our sexuality, gender or marriage. Sad to say western culture has swiftly changed its views. For example, recently a Gallop poll indicated that Americans believe up to 25% of the U.S. population is gay, lesbian, transgendered or bi-sexual. Yet Gallop showed that just 3.8% were. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate just 3% are inclined in this category. The media, powerful lobby and a radical small minority are winning the perception game.
So many secular and religious people have written all kinds of things wanting to appear sophisticated, uber-nuanced and provocative in one direction or the other. Many champion grace and minimize truth and vice versa. Some have side-stepped it altogether while others are rather mean-hearted (on both sides). Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun. So let’s be sober and alert, but not totally freaked out. The church, despite its internal problems and outside pressures is always, no matter what, called to love, to be light and to be salty. This is the instruction of Jesus Christ himself. We get love right? Or do we? The world says true love is letting people do what they want. Yet, the Bible has a different ethic. Loving someone doesn’t just grant licenses for people to practice their sin without challenge and the call to repent. Love also isn’t being hurtfully mean and hateful. Unfortunately those who try to be Biblically truthful and loving will be lumped in with the scant amount of numbskulls who raise posters and placards that say “Die queer” or God hates fags.” Jesus just didn’t do it quite that way. Yet He did say, “If you do not repent you will likewise perish.” Why? Because God so loved the world! God gives directives and instructions on how to live life. When we violate those we short circuit His original intentions on how to use what He created. The result is that we hurt others and hurt ourselves. The sad and confusing thing is that you can challenge someone in their sin (an alcoholic, adulterer, homosexual, etc.) in the most loving/caring way and still be labeled some kind of phobic person, a bigot and a hater. Indeed, we all need to become better lovers. Without it, we go nowhere fast! However, we also need to become brighter lights and more potent salt. Light wasn’t to be hidden under a bushel. It ought to shine! So go tell it on the mountain! Salt, by the way, wasn’t only a flavor enhancer in the days of Jesus, but was a major way to preserve food from rotting. We are to be salty in a culture to not allow the culture to decay. If we don’t, Jesus says that we will not only lose our saltiness, but many will end up rotting for eternity in great torment.
The Bible equally condemns all fornication (sexual acts no matter what they are if they are outside an intended life-long committed heterosexual monogamous marital relationship). Further, the Bible tells us adultery and divorce are hated by God. Is God a hater? God, being love, knows it is actually loving to not hate someone but to hate something that is harmful and wrong (love the sinner-hate the sin kind of thing). There are millions of divorced people. For those who have sinned in this area and for the spouse who didn’t sin yet is dramatically affected, millions have been helped by divorce care ministries. There are millions of those who have had porn addictions who have been helped by 12-step programs and sexual wholeness groups. While a couple million gays and lesbians have come out of the closet in the last 25 years, tens of thousands have come out of the homosexual life style to align themselves with God’s view on sexuality. Not all, but most porn addicts, divorcees and homosexuals feel shame and guilt. God designed us that way. Some people stuff down their guilt and shame and find sources legitimizing their choices at coffee shops, therapists’ offices, liberal churches and of course the internet that applaud their behavior as totally normal. Many have become numb to God’s conviction. However there is forgiveness, restoration and another chance to do it God’s way. Oh but for the grace of God!
Two reasons why Christians ought not roll over and give up on this issue. One, the LGBT lobby is powerful. They have influenced companies, Wall Street and Hollywood, to name a few. The church is often lambasted for focusing on homosexuality. Why don’t we give as much attention to issues of divorce and adultery the homosexual community argue? We should and we do, however, divorced people, adulterers and those struggling in porn addiction are not strenuously advocating for their particular sin to be legally and socially accepted by boycotting and even attacking small businesses, lobbying and assembling on state house steps so as to redefine a social institution that has been the foundation of society. To be crystal clear, people who practice seriously negative behavior like adultery and drunkenness, aren’t incessantly fighting for his/her right to be an adulterer or a drunkard. Why is western culture so easily giving in on this? The answer is essentially western culture is becoming increasingly secular and pays little attention to God (at least the one defined in the Bible). So we must speak out heralding God’s Word in wisdom, love, grace and boldness. Two, and equally important, it is imperative that we call people to confession and repentance of their sins (any sins) and receive Jesus the Messiah. If people do not know the severity of the penalty of unforgiven sins, they will never know the magnificence of Christ’s forgiveness, mercy, grace and love.
This decision will open a Pandora’s Box which will lead to advocacy and the fight for legalization for not only homosexual marriage, but polygamy, child love (pedophilia) and, yes, animal love (beastiality) which are all currently gaining some steam all set up by the legal precedent of this recent Supreme Court decision. A ridiculous assertion? Watch and see!
Keep the faith. Followers of Christ will be persecuted and punished in various ways if we make our views known; especially if we hold to the truth that homosexuality is sin. After all, it is not our own opinion it is the clear teaching of Holy Scripture. The pressure to not only shut up but to give in will increase. We will be the odd persons out if we do not acquiesce, support and even celebrate what God calls sin. As the LGBT community have adopted the rainbow, don’t forget it was God’s original design. The rainbow was created by God and used by God as a sign that he would not judge the world with another flooding of the planet. Why? Because the book of Genesis tells us that humanity was involved in all that was wicked and evil. He didn’t say he wouldn’t judge it again; just not by that method. Please pray for your brother’s and sister’s voice, the power of love, our care for each other and the confession and repentance for our own sinfulness. Additionally, pray for the LGBT community that they would be loved as we are led to urge, in various ways, for them to repent, find forgiveness and the power to change brought on by the glorious three in one, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May God bring hope and peace in times of pressure, trial, persecution and opportunity as we share the good news.
Pastor John Moriarty