Mike Cope's blog

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Sorry my posts have been so sporadic for the past couple weeks.  And they probably will be until AUGUST 9.  Then it's time to get back to business! Our country is bound to continue to struggle with issues related to homosexuality--especially in a pluralistic society.  But as those discussions are taking place, it's essential that the church be clear about what it believes, honest about where it is uncertain, and compassionate toward all.  More on this later . . . .  But here is a wonderful piece from Ed Fudge:   gracEmail (SEXUAL INTIMACY AND HOLINESS) EDWARD FUDGE Jul 27, 2004 A gracEmail subscriber writes: "I am a devout Christian. I am also a lesbian. For several years I have been celibate but very lonely. I have been studying some material that reconciles faith with gay sexual orientation. It notes that Jesus himself was notably silent on the subject, that the Greek and Hebrew words translated as 'homosexual' roughly mean a male prostitute, and that Paul's comments may have been addressing pagan religious rituals and practices rather than monogamous homosexual relationships. I'm really feeling confused." I commend you for seeking the Lord's will about sexual activity in a time when most people give little if any thought to God's wishes. Our culture thinks nothing of sexual intercourse between heterosexual singles. Modern society regards divorce as an easy escape from discomfort or as a means to self-fulfillment when one's spouse loses that "special" aura or appeal. There is also a great move afoot today to legitimatize homosexual intimacy. Such attitudes and opinions result from worldly thinking not informed by the Holy Spirit. We need to renew our minds based on biblical revelation so that we are not deceived. God's plan for sexual relations calls for joyful and self-giving intimacy between one man and one woman who are married to each other for life. This excludes sexual relations between singles, between a married person and anyone other than a spouse and between people of the same sex. Jesus did not specifically address every form of sexual immorality. Instead he condemned impurity in general and reaffirmed God's positive plan (Matt. 19:4-6). Paul's language in Romans 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 6:9-11 and 1 Tim. 1:9-10 clearly prohibits homosexual relations by either women or men. These prohibitions and warnings certainly include pagan practices, prostitution and promiscuity, but there is no biblical or linguistic basis for limiting them to that. Contrary to common assertions, the ancient world also was familiar with loving, long-term homosexual relationships (as documented by Dr. James DeYoung in Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law, published by Kregel.) Such relationships are no exception to blanket biblical condemnations of homosexual intimacy. Homosexual orientation is a "brokenness" in our fallen world but a person is not sinning merely because they have such an orientation. Many heterosexual people also have "broken" cravings to which they too must say "No" for Christ's sake. God can heal sexual brokenness of all kinds and he can supernaturally enable a holy life. This applies to homosexually-oriented persons as well as to the far greater number of unmarried heterosexual persons. Meanwhile, those of us who have truly experienced God's love and forgiveness regarding our own sins need to come alongside our struggling brothers and sisters to encourage them in holiness and to offer godly friendship and spiritual intimacy. For a pastorally-sensitive presentation of the larger biblical perspective on this subject, I recommend "The Gay Debate", a little booklet by Stanton Jones, published by IVP, Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515.  © 2004 by Edward Fudge. Unlimited permission to copy without altering text or profiteering is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

24 Comments:

  • Great post Mike! Good balance and openness in approach. We have to land somewhere between witch hunt and complete avoidance of what the Word has to say on this topic. It's hard, no doubt. I just cannot stand the email forwards and other things people send bashing people who live in that lifestyle. There's a way to lovingly speak truth into people's lives without distancing them even further from us. Imagine if Jesus had encountered the woman at the well and instead of engaging her in conversation, stood across from her with a picket sign? Jesus was so good at speaking real truth to people's hearts while still showing them love. I want to be more like that.

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 7/28/2004 07:32:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    I agree with Brandon. Good post. I appreciate your willingness to examine this issue with slinging mud, and preaching condemnation to the homo-sexual community.

    Christians have an amazing message of reconciliation between God and man, and ministering to people where they are versus condemning sinners to hell is far more effective.

    By Blogger Jason Retherford, at 7/28/2004 07:52:00 AM  

  • This is another discussion that all too often gets brushed under the rug, hiding behind polemical arguments while forgetting there are real, live people involved. The church's primary concern isn't about the legalization of homosexual marriage -- at least it shouldn't be. The concern of the body of Christ is what do we do with the people whom God is sending to us?

    When did the church become political? I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't be involved in politics -- far from it. But when did it become the identity and earmark of every Christian believer? I'm not anti-political, I just have little faith in talk of legislation to achieve the goals of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God does not depend on talk, after all, but on power (1 Corinthians 4:20). If we go about doing what we're supposed to be doing as the body of Christ, our message will be more than clear. If we just go around shouting slogans and passing petitions, the world gets a very different view of what's important to us, where our focus lies.

    So beyond legislation, which may or may not be at all useful, what do we do with those whom God is sending to us? How does the church effectively encounter, minister to and aid the seeker struggling with this lifestyle? Most churches are woefully ill-equipped and sadly uninformed.

    By Blogger Q, at 7/28/2004 08:03:00 AM  

  • Ah, what a wonderful relief to actually read something thoughtful on this topic...

    By Blogger Matt Elliott, at 7/28/2004 08:09:00 AM  

  • I also found Edward Fudge's thoughts to be very insightful. I included his column in my blog as well. It is a tough issue, but we are being forced to deal with it. I shudder everytime I see that guy (I think his name is Fred Phelps) who always protests with that sign that says "God Hates Fags." Many people look at that and think that this is the view of all Christians. And the mainstream media helps to further this terrible mischaracterization by constantly showing this guy with no disclaimer (like "Fred Phelps does not represent the views of most Christians").

    By Blogger Jeff Slater, at 7/28/2004 08:38:00 AM  

  • Time for a bit of exegesis. In the account of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus asks "where are your accusers?" In the original language the word is categor (from which we get the word category). In other words "where are those who lumped you into a category so they didn't have to deal with you as a person?"

    I agree wholeheartedly with Fudge's take on this. Very biblical in its condemnation of homosexuality and in its loving approach to homosexuals. Jesus didn't allow for the woman's adultery, in fact he called her to "sin no more". Ed has been very Christlike in his response, and I wish more of us in the church would do the same. I appreciate his bringing sex among singles into the equation. Our stance on these two issues should be virtually identical. The elder's son should get the same correction, forgiveness, and guidance that the homosexual receives. Unfortunately, we often take a "what can you do?" attitude to the 18 year old on prom night (unless, of course, he gets someone pregnant) and close our doors to the person who even hints at a struggle with homosexuality.

    The fact is that we need to be sensitive to both, encouraging to both, challenging to both, and keep both accountable. The church needs to remember 3 important things: people sin, the church does not accept people's sin, the church does accept people who do sin.

    I know that "love the sinner, hate the sin" has become cliche, but I wish we'd remember and practice it. Too often our love of sinner gets confused with tolerance ("we all make mistakes, live and let live") or our hate of sin gets confused with condemnation. Both condoning and condemning lead straight to hell. Christ offers a better way.

    By Blogger chrismith, at 7/28/2004 08:54:00 AM  

  • Thank you so much for this article.
    Several years ago one of my good friends in tears confided in me that her sister is gay. It has torn her family apart. So sad, so hard to deal with.
    Since then I have been on the lookout for firm (but not bashing)christian perspective on this issue. I have to say that it is very hard to find an article like this. Why is that?

    By Blogger SG, at 7/28/2004 09:30:00 AM  

  • What a loving manner to address what can be a very throny issue. As a whole, I fear the Church is sadly uneducated regarding homosexuality, or programs such as Exodus, and how we can be openly supportive of those that look to us for Godly answers and inclusion.

    I not only cringe at the sign-holder, but also at the general open condemnation of homosexuals by "christians." I know there are many loving people that do not hold to the belief that homosexuality is not only to be condemned, but also that it is one of the "unforgiveable" sins. Therefore, we desperately need to begin educating our congregations about how to be accepting of everyone that is searching for God, and I wonder if we'll ever come to the point of abandoning our habit of insisting that the unsaved change their wordly habits and sins before they have the gift of strength that comes only from the Holy Spirit.

    As said above, if we would get about obeying Jesus' "new commandment" of loving each other, expressing gentle, godly love toward all the lost, we will have taken a first huge step toward all the lost, be they hetero- or homosexual.

    In my opinion, following what we have come to call "The Great Commission" - in the order which Jesus stated it, would help us. Go out along your way; preach the Good News of salvation through Jesus to everyone; make disciples/followers of Jesus; baptising them in the name of God [the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit]; and THEN teach them all that Jesus taught about obedience in our daily lives, which includes sexual purity, no matter our marital status or sexual drives.

    Many times when we are faced with an issue in the lives of others with which we have had no personal experience, we find ourselves forgettting that the Gospel is GOD's power to salvation. We don't have to change anyone - God's word will do it - the Holy Spirit will convict - we need only to be sensitive to the difficulties othes may be facing, love them, encourage and teach them, bathe them in prayer, offering our arm to them as they take those difficult steps toward the Cross of Jesus, away from a previous lifestyle that does not glorify their God and Savior.

    I so admire the deep thinkers all of you all are, and could wish to have a tad bit of your gift - but mine has been more the haul 'em [other congregation members]into working with a support ministry, getting into lives that need support and encouragement to accept the guidance of the Holy Spirit. How to do this? Educate ourselves about the issue; look for successful programs other churches have implemented; adapt them to our congregation's needs and get to prayerful work.

    the world's way doesn't work, but God's does, we just need to be ready to get into areas we've never been acquainted with, be it homosexuality (sexual impurity), addictions, results of poor decisions that can cause single parented families to multipy in our churches, health issues (HIV and AIDS, for instance) - I'm sure you all have others to add to this short list.

    My vision is of a day when anyone with whatever problem or sin battle can open the doors to our churches, come in and when they say "I have a problem" - the whole church envelopes them in love and support without any recriminations - just an offering of loving inclusion through teaching and encouragement, in short, to do what Jesus wants us to do.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 7/28/2004 09:38:00 AM  

  • btw Mike - you return the 9th of August, I'll begin a short absence - not going out of town, but am going into Hendricks for cardiac cath. procedure and probably stents being placed, possible even bypass surgery, so will probably miss your first Sunday back in harness, and definitely will miss the first Oasis of your return. You've been missed, but Highland has fed us well with guest speakers and the Youth Ministry's presentation this past Sunday.

    Since I'll probably not see you to say so in person, I'll use your blog to say, "Welcome Home!!"

    By Blogger Kathy, at 7/28/2004 09:48:00 AM  

  • Thank you so much for sharing this with us all. I am in contact with some folks who are caught up in the gay lifestyle. I inadvertantly met them through a musical theater job last year. (First rehearsal was actually in a gay bar, much to my surprise when I got there!)
    Anyway, at Otter Creek we're doing a children's musical soon, and some of the ones I mentioned are planning to come to see my daughter perform. I don't know that they're interested in seeking God just yet, but the fact that they're willing to consider attending a church production is exciting to me -- I'm hopeful that will open the door to faith conversations. Your blog today was very encouraging to me as I prayerfully attempt to reach out to these fellows with God's love; thank you.

    By Blogger Clarissa, at 7/28/2004 11:15:00 AM  

  • Thanks, Mike for this helpful little reminder.

    I've had these discussions with people before, often as a result of an experience here at the Grad School. The most common argument used is the linguistic one, in which people take 5 or 6 "proof texts" against homosexuality, and disarm the argument by arguing for the "male prostitute" angle. They also use the "God is happy that we have found each other, and are in a committed, monogamous relationship."

    Fudge reminds us that God's prime interest is not necessarily in our happiness, but our holiness. This way of thinking takes the linguistic argument, places it aside, and instead of choosing to focus on a few verses that condemn homosexual lifestyles, helps us to focud on the entire scope of Scripture, one in which God reveals his plan for His creation.

    Thanks again, and thanks for the boldness the not shy away from tricky subjects.

    By Blogger Greg Kendall-Ball, at 7/28/2004 11:27:00 AM  

  • Pot-Stirer!

    I guess the "instrumental/women's role/Calvinism/Foxnews" debate was getting a bit boring for you Mike?

    You're awesome. I praise God for your boldness. Or is that "blogness?"

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 7/28/2004 12:26:00 PM  

  • Mike, by the way, check out the advertisment header (above your header) on your blog today. It seems they are "watching" us. Pretty interesting.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 7/28/2004 12:29:00 PM  

  • Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Mike. I have become uneasy, not with homosexuality itself, but with a growing tolerance among believers. Jesus truly was full of grace and truth. It’s hard sometimes, as believers, to consistently balance grace and truth. We either become so full of grace that we accept or at least become tolerant of things that are outside of God’s plan, and accept the lies of the Enemy, OR we lean so far to the side of “truth” that we fall off the scales with an arrogant, judgmental attitude.

    When issues like this arise, I believe that scripture makes God’s heart known. I also believe that sometimes, our decisions/conclusions shouldn’t be about the end to our desires/questions, but must go beyond us. Not to get all John Piper on everyone, but our heart’s desire should be bringing pleasure to God and recognizing his holiness. If that is true, then nothing is this world matters to us.

    Imagine one giving up not only unholy behaviors, but also surrendering the gifts God has given us for our enjoyment in order to truly fulfill His pleasure. It’s an absurd thought that people would give up their own gifts (such as a heterosexual marriage, that God gave us) to pursue nothing but pointing others to the glory of God. But that’s what Paul did. It’s not for everyone, but what a powerful testimony to anyone who gives up their dreams, wealth, high position, relationships or whatever, so that their lives will truly be in pursuit of making God’s glory known. We all know people like that, Rich Mullens, Mother Teresa, people in our churches, on and on.

    While I’m all for approaching this issue or any other with a balance between grace and truth, I also believe that homosexuality, instrumental music, women’s roles, and yes even the Fox News debate, or whatever else we tend to blog discuss, should all be examined with less “me” and more under the context of what will delight Almighty God and take His holiness, glory, and renown to the nations. A different twist, but I hope it makes sense. The issue is never about us, but it’s always about God.

    May the body of Christ be like our head, may we be full of grace and truth as we deal with a broken world.

    By Blogger Jon, at 7/28/2004 07:02:00 PM  

  • Might this be one of those books waiting to burst out of you Mike?

    For reasons I cannot explain, God has brought to my wife and me men and women who call themselves homosexual since the beginning of our marriage 9 years ago. Some of them have been on staff at brotherhood universities, some sons and daughters of elders, some deeply involved in church missions and some without a clue of God's love for them. To a person, we've tried to live the "love the sinner, not the sin" mandate while challenging them to seek freedom in Christ.

    Where we have struggled is in the practical steps of helping them find freedom. Knowing a few men ourselves who have overcome this in their lives, we've connected the seekers together with the overcomers. Sometimes this has been extremely helpful and sometimes not. Dennis Jernigan's story has helped many. Neil Anderson's "Bondage Breaker" has helped some. Prayer and fasting have helped others. We ache though that more who have come to us have not been freed than have.

    If anyone has had particular "success" in ministering within this realm, I'd love to hear from you. Like I said, we've not asked for it but for all of the first 9 years of our marriage, we've always had a direct relationship with someone seeking freedom in this area.

    May they (and we) all find the freedom we seek...

    By Blogger Rob, at 7/28/2004 09:10:00 PM  

  • There is an unmistakable "seriousness level" to sin these days among faith groups. So many myths are floating around about homosexuality because everyday men and women of faith don't know anyone struggling with the sin, and therefore are ignorant of it.
    This humorous cartoon dispells one of the myths: http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0407/fiore.php

    On a more serious note, I haven't lived as long as many of the other bloggers here, but I have realized this: In every dealing with another human being, whether over a controversial topic, a sin in someone's life, a scripture, church politics, or whatever, the other person is ALWAYS the most important consideration. At the end of the talk, whether we both agree or not, we are called to love that person as a creation of the Almighty. We see that all the way through Jesus' life, but so many of us have not adopted that belief into our lives.

    What does this conviction look like? Well, it means inviting the openly gay couple to the neighborhood block party at your house (my parents did this when we lived in New England...very powerful lesson to my brother and me), intentionally putting yourself in situations to better understand the power of homosexuality, and most importantly, being a genuine friend to those who deal with that lifestyle every day. The more Christians who truly befriend persons who are "living alternatively", the more Christians will be trusted by gays and lesbians. As it is, the consensus in the American homosexual community is that all Christians not only disprove of their lifestyle, but believe that they are less of a person and not worth getting to know because of their choices.

    Hate to say it, but Jesus would be in the gay bars of today befriending and loving on these people, wanting desparately for them to know Him as one who can wash them, even them, anew.

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 7/29/2004 07:16:00 AM  

  • I appreciate the reminder that Jesus will always be with people who are marginalized. Postings for the most part reflect this spirit.

    A couple of reactions to Fudge's letter. He writes:

    "Modern society regards divorce as an easy escape from discomfort or as a means to self-fulfillment when one's spouse loses that "special" aura or appeal."

    While I'm not sure what is meant by "modern society," it seems to me that populist measures to extend marriage rights to homosexuals is exactly opposite to those who treat marriage as a disposible matter. The fact that gays and lesbians want to get married is a sign that the institution of marriage is still highly respected, contrary to pop sociological predictions that marriage would be a non-issue by now.

    Secondly, many theological responses to homosexuality are more sophisticated than linguistic approaches. The church has stuggled in the past with divorce and remarriage issues, using terminology such as "married in the eyes of God." Polygomy has been addressed in sevearal ways by CoC missionaries.

    Perhaps we would be more comfortable if relationships were more normative than they are in our world? Perhaps we want to believe that homosexuality can be dealt with in a brief, kind letter?

    By Blogger Kevin Wells, at 7/29/2004 09:23:00 AM  

  • Hmmm ... How should I comment? I appreciate Kevin's comment. Great to hear from you! I always admire your willingness to offer the other side of the discussion in a humble and informed way. Stop by my blog and say hello. I want to know how things are going.

    Let’s get back to the discussion. I got Edward's article as well a few days ago and was not completely thrilled with it, perhaps because I have witness the struggle with friends over being gay. To me, the issue is much more complicated than denying yourself or fighting over linguistic arguments. We have some real complicated issues to work through here. What if science proves to us that homosexuality is genetic, then what? There are people I've known personally who can remember having these feelings as a young child. What if it is not simply a choice as we often say it is?

    In Edward's article he says that Christians who are becoming more tolerant of Homosexuality are being led by the world not the Holy Spirit. Yet, I have heard church leaders who are studying and exploring the issue trying their hardest to decipher the way the Holy Spirit is moving in this issue. If we truly believe that the Holy Spirit indwells and inspires more than the writers of the Bible, then we must do our best to see what the Spirit is doing in the church today. Offering a blanket condemnation of all Christians who are exploring tolerance on this issue, saying it is conforming to the world, seems to be a bit of an overstatement. Serious, devout, and holy Christians are exploring the issue with as much Spiritual sensitivity as a Christian could muster. Just because they come down on a different side of the issue than others doesn't mean they are simply giving into the world’s leading.

    As for my position, I'm still in the questioning stage. Life circumstances have forced me to dwell in the ambiguity of this issue a bit. I desire to hear Christians seriously think about this issue, without reciting the same Romans texts we have grown to love. I want Christians to listen to the other side of the issue, ask science what they are discovering, and try to decipher what the Holy Spirit is doing in our world today. For me, desiring truth means I'm willing to question, debate, and listen to others. Maybe I'm sounding too "truth is all relative" and "be tolerant of everyone" (I am what they call a “postmodern”, whatever that means). That is not what I'm trying to communicate. I'm simply saying I don't appreciate letters like Fudge’s who seem to have it all figured out. Humanity is complicated. Sin is complicated. God is complicated. And the fact that God has given the Church His Spirit to dwell among complicates the complicated even more.

    I want to ask the hard questions. I want to ask what it is like to have a same-sex attraction since you are a young child. I want to ask what it is like to be repeatedly told that your deepest desires, if acted on, will condemn you forever to hell. I want to ask what it is like to hear Christians joke from the pulpit and in classes about your struggle. I want to ask what it is like to spend years listening to success stories from Dennis Jernigan and Exodus Ministries, reading books by Neil Anderson that are suppose to help you overcome, and spending hours in counseling sessions and support groups only to find that God doesn't take your desires away but, instead, they seem to intensify. I want to ask what it is like to desire so badly to have someone to love for the rest of your life and whom you can have children with, but knowing that your dreams will never happen. If we start asking harder questions, I think we will become a bit more sensitive and Christ-like when dealing with this issue, no matter what side of the discussion we come down on.

    I’m sure my response will not be popular to all, but I wanted to add my voice to the discussion. I’m not trying to be controversial or “liberal for liberal’s sake”. All I desire is for the church to seriously and compassionately listen to all sides of the issue and make an informed judgment based on all the voices. If this is what you’ve done, praise God. Unfortunately, most of the debate about homosexuality seems to come from married heterosexual fathers who have never been personally involved with someone who is gay. It is easy to condone the gay lifestyle when we are happily married, with kids (or have the possibility of kids), having the whole world in front of us. It is easy for those of us who have never had this struggle to simply say, “Deny your passions”. (Do we really do this ourselves?) Before we condemn, we must live with people and put ourselves in their shoes and try to understand what our condemnation may sound like to them. Thanks for listening and I welcome the feedback.

    By Blogger Travis, at 7/30/2004 09:27:00 AM  

  • Travis, those really are good questions. And you're right about the too flippant attitude often evidenced even in those we look to as leaders. They're important questions and it is more complex than arguing over words. But questions aren't answers.

    What if science does prove homosexuality is a genetic tendency? Isn't there a genetic bias toward alcoholism as well? And before someone says that desiring a drink is very different from the desires Travis has described here, I have to say that I've seen entirely too many families ripped apart by it and too many lives destroyed because of it.

    Does a genetic pre-disposition give one a right to opt out of responsibility?

    I'm not discounting what you've said here; your heart is really in this and you've said it very well. I've known people who struggle with this, too, and one who decided that a transgender operation was the best answer.

    I believe it was you who brought up (a book about?) the existance of hermaphrodites. It's a good question, too; how does the existence of those situations impact our understanding?

    I don't know. There are a lot of questions for which I haven't yet found answers. I hope you keep asking, though.

    By Blogger Q, at 7/30/2004 10:14:00 AM  

  • And in the same way I believe we can and do have brothers and sisters in the body of Christ who struggle with alcoholism, I believe we have brothers and sisters who struggle with this. I thank God that a struggle doesn't negate our identity in Christ as children of God.

    By Blogger Q, at 7/30/2004 11:49:00 AM  

  • Q,

    I don't think you are discounting what I've said at all. You are doing the very thing I long for us to do in the body of Christ--struggle with the issue. I'm not willing to say that genetics negates responsibility, but I do believe genetics complicates things a whole lot. It raises questions of God's nature and goodness, as well as the nature of sin itself. If science proves a genetic link to homosexuality, then we will have to struggle with questions of God's nature (How could he make someone genetically disposed to sin?) and even our views on original sin. But, science is not there yet and may never be. I'm not a scientist, so I don't know. All I am advocating is that Christians be willing to find the work of God in science and not simply discount everything beyond exegesis as "worldly." If God is creator of all, then it seems there are other places that might profess truth other than the pages of the Bible.

    About the use of "sin". This is something I'm thinking through right now. Often we think of "sin" as individual, isolated actions. "I sinned when I had that evil thought." "You sinned when you said that bad word." "I sin everyday." Or, "I sinned last Tuesday." Is sin individual, isolated actions or is it a state of being? Yes, "all have sinned..." But Paul seems to go on to describe sin as a state of being outside of Christ. Once we were slaves to sin, but now we are slaves to righteousness. We are "in the world" or we are "in the Spirit." Perhaps sin is more than what we do, maybe sin is where we are, a state be being before entering into the Kingdom of God. Becoming a Christian means we have be transferred to a new state of being, in Christ. Yes, we may still live in ways contrary to the Spirit, but that doesn't mean that we are still "in sin."

    I say all that to say this: What if a devout Christian, committed to imitating Christ in their life, has, through their study of scripture and the movement of the Holy Spirit, decided that their gay lifestyle is both acceptable and blessed by God? Even if it is a sin and they are mistaken about this, does not their "in Christ-ness" still count them as one who is saved? Be careful how you answer this question. If you say no, then that means that all Christians, regardless of their sexual orientation, must understand God's will perfectly and never live in a contrary way to His order. That would mean Christians who justify not helping the poor are, well, going to hell, no matter how committed they are to Christ. Or, Christians who justify their continual gossip are going to hell.

    We must remember that there are sincere, God-fearing people who have wrestled with scripture and God and have come down on the side in favor of the gay lifestyle. They are not Christians who say, "I could care less about what God thinks. I'm going to do what I want and let grace cover my sins." They are Christians who have wrestled for years with being gay, fighting it, studying it, praying to overcome it, and have come out on the other side feeling that God has blessed it. Yes, some may not agree with this position, and I'm not saying I do or don't, but please do not discount their sincerity and desire to follow Christ. Perhaps we should struggle with our "issues" as seriously as my friends who are gay have struggled instead of so flippantly accepting our issues while criticizing and demonizing the issues of others.

    By Blogger Travis, at 7/30/2004 01:16:00 PM  

  • I think my addendum to my previous comment was actually anticipating your question of the "in Christ-ness." And that's the only answer I've got.

    I think, though, that at some point I'll finish out in the e-mail conversation my thoughts on sin as a state of being v. sin as a verb. (It'll have to be early next week, though, as I'm about to be net-less till Tuesday. Silly cable company...)

    By Blogger Q, at 7/30/2004 01:24:00 PM  

  • I look forward to a Tuesday conversation. That's my anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Travis. Thanks.

    By Blogger Travis, at 7/30/2004 01:36:00 PM  

  • In a post-modern society, we often boast a tolerance that states no one should have to deny their passions. But somehow, that all goes out the window when we talk about homosexual or heterosexual pedophiles.

    Having been acquainted with a man through counseling who was overwhelmed with these tendencies, I assure you, those passions were very real to him and even seemed normal.


    I know a person who aches to come out of the closet but he hasn't found a group yet -- inside or outside the church -- whom he could trust. He doesn't believe that scripture teaches the practice is permissible, but he struggles with his passion and wishes he could find a group who would "love him whole".

    But that may not happen. And if it doesn't, I pray that he will find that God is big enough to care for him even when the support of others is missing.

    And, sometimes, for whatever reason, when we find ourselves alone with God because we can't trust humans or because they simply don't understand, we experience His Presence in a profound way.

    By Blogger Serena Voss, at 7/31/2004 03:34:00 PM  

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