Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why Can’t Christians Cut Homosexuals a Little Slack? – Part III

By falling from our God-given image as spiritual beings, we have plunged into a secular persona revealed in sexual obsession.  Americans aren’t merely interested  in sex, or passionate about sex; as was said about Sonya Heine, we are addicted to and obsessed with sex.

That obsession has given homosexuals the freedom to demand their lifestyle as equally normal and acceptable.  Though only those whose arrogant disregard of God’s authority, and the Bible as his inerrant Word, could now claim as original, acceptable behavior  what God condemns throughout the Bible as fallen, wicked behavior.  That is the dead-end thinking of the pro-homosexual lobby.  They feel they can’t be criticized, let alone judged, for their sexual choice since it came with their nativity.  Such specious thinking always occurs when we insist on finding new rules when our lifestyle contradicts the old ones.  Somerset Maugham and Oscar Wilde did it in their day to justify homosexuality.  Their heirs continue the travesty in ours.  It amounted then, and amounts now, only to colossal self-deceit, of which all humanity has an endless capacity.

Part III – The issue of tolerance.

Knowing the Russian opposition to homosexuality, President Obama appointed some openly-gay athletes to represent the U.S. in the opening and closing ceremonies in Sochi.  Obama called his decision a clarion for tolerance and diversity in America.  All it rang was a further death knell on a dying country.

The issue of tolerance is so overworked in society it mocks any attempt to impose Biblical teachings of any kind.  For what is there in our unsaved culture that desires, let alone seeks, let alone tolerates, being restrained by God’s Word?

The Corinthians thought themselves tolerant by accepting as spiritual equals a man who lived sexually with his step-mother.  But Paul censored their tolerance and called for the pair’s exclusion from the Christian assembly I Corinthians 5:1-5.

Tolerance taken to its extreme, to which it will unerringly go, will never criticize any behavior, however wicked, simply because tolerance removes limitations on expression.

If we aren’t intolerant of spiritual wrongs; if we do not speak publicly against them; if we resort to a “live and let live” philosophy, the righteous are no less wicked.  For how can wrong have rights?  Indeed, only a perverted culture can, in the same breath, demand rights for wrong while it damns right as wrong.

Do we automatically condemn homosexuals to hell?  No.  Jesus Christ alone makes those decisions, for he has all the authority to make them.  If he wants to make exceptions for anyone, he has the right.  However, he never gives his believers the right to make exceptions to his rules.  For he knows that as soon as we start making exceptions, we’ll have only exceptions and no rules.

However, and an interesting sidebar of inconsistency:  while demanding tolerance of their lifestyle, homosexuals offer none to Christians who believe God spoke clearly, emphatically and repeatedly against the practice.  What kind of tolerance is it when homosexuals demand we accept their lifestyle while they refuse to let us embrace Christ’s?  Why would they think it necessary for Christians to surrender Christ’s teachings to curry favor with fallen mortals?  Especially when we are repeatedly warned to hold firmly to our faith in Christ Matthew 10:22; I Corinthians 15:2; Ephesians 6:14; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 1:22-23.

What kind of disciples would we be to buckle under sledge-hammer blows, let alone the pin-pricks of homosexuals?  God made us oaks in the woods, not pansies in flowerpots.  As Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:13-14, God has equipped us in every way to stand for Jesus.  Having been thus equipped, and ordered to stand, we STAND for Jesus.  Finis.

 

Mistakes – not learning from

Every parent should leave a legacy, not merely wealth, to his children.  But when one desires for them what failed him, all one leaves is wealth.  And wealth will bring things, but not values.

Family members heard actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s will read two weeks after he died in a New York City hotel room.  The most interesting fact about his will wasn’t the $500,000 plus in his estate.  It wasn’t that he left most of it to his longtime live-in, with whom he had a son, now nearly 11.  The interesting fact was that he wanted his children to be reared in either New York City, Chicago or San Francisco.  Those cities have the culture, arts and architecture he wants his boys to absorb.  San Diego Union Tribune, 2/20/14

That’s very peculiar.  Despite gaining fame and wealth by his exposure to the film industry, all it bequeathed him was an anxiety he couldn’t escape, an addiction he couldn’t shake, a fear he couldn’t resolve—and it all left him dead in a New York City hotel room with a needle stuck in his arm.  And he wants more of THAT for his sons?  Why would he think an appreciation of that culture, art and architecture would give them any more purpose than it gave him?

Why Can’t Christians Cut Homosexuals a Little Slack? Part II

Recapitulating Part I – Whatever ancient Greek tradition supposed, or contemporary mores claim, God himself distinguished male from female and didn’t want the lines between them blurred, let alone crossed.  As a theological/spiritual, not a political or medical or social issue, God authored the precept he wanted observed.  Fallen humanity has become his enemy by adopting a differing view. But in a powerful warning:  in any contest between God’s Word, and human opinion, who inevitably wins?  See Acts 5:33-39.

 Part II. 

God made the creatures to live by instinct.  Therefore, whatever they instinctively need to do, we accept it as part of their limitations as “creatures of instinct.”  When, by his will,  he created humanity in his image, he intended them to be spiritual, rational beings who lived by God’s own precepts, rules and expectations.

Adam’s sin violated humanity’s God-given nature.  It began a distancing of humanity from God:  from a life controlled by, even if not submitted to, divine authority, into a complete secularization of humanity subject only to its own wits, opinions and rules.

Where obedience would have led Adam into an exalted state, disobedience led him into a fallen state.  The secularization Adam unintentionally began became his son Cain’s intentional lifestyle, typified by his arrogance in offering God what he chose to give, then brutally murdering his brother for simply being the better man.

The polar opposites between our initial and fallen natures are illustrated in two statements God made.  One, “in his image”—our original state; “dust we are and to dust we return”—our fallen state.

That secularization continued into bigamy, murder as a policy of settling disagreements and the plummet of sexuality from men and women within marriage into aberrant fornication, adultery, bestiality and homosexuality—living according to instincts, drives and impulses—NOT according to the Holy Spirit’s Presence.  The loss of the Spirit’s presence turned us from spiritual into sexual beings:  meaning, instead of being directed by spiritual principles we became victims of sexual passions.  While the entire Bible didache warns us against the change, and calls us from our lost to our original state through repentance and baptism, we decide, by our response to God’s call, to live either as spiritual or sexual beings.

The call to repentance and baptism remains strong in both testaments, despite God’s knowledge that from most it will receive no positive response, with Jeremiah’s preaching an example.  Many will perish…but none because God withheld his directions for life; or because he maliciously established impossibly high standards, so no one could reach them, and he could damn right and left because God delights in sending as many as possible to Hell and saving as few as possible for Heaven.  As I Timothy 2:4 says, “God our Savior…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Still, as Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:3, our folly ruins life, then we rage against God for letting us choose wrongly.  But God isn’t fazed by our attacks or fooled by our excuses or impressed by our explanations.

Thank God for his Word:  against which we sin; over which we can never gain ascendance; and which fairly and graciously judges.  Thank God for his nature:  which always has compassion on the penitent; always judges behavior as generously as possible; which makes exceptions wherever possible and only punishes as severely as necessary where it isn’t possible; which never seeks reasons in Law to condemn us; which always ransacks Grace for an excuse to exonerate.

Indeed, he will graciously forgive any repented sin.  But we must accept it as sin.  There’s no need for us to justify what we call normal habits, attitudes, behavior or sexuality when God has labeled it a perversion of his original intent for us.  Let us not be mistaken; and let us not deceive ourselves.  He judges us according to his original intent for us and our original state with him.  He will NOT use a standard by which WE feel comfortable, can accept and agree by compromise to be fair.  That isn’t going to happen.    – End Part II.

Adversity – we determine its impact

When the Northeaster hit Paul’s ship off Crete, Acts 27, the sailors dropped anchor to slow the ship’s southwest drift, knowing they would be driven to the dreaded quick sands along the Libyan coast.  However, strange as it seems, the Northeaster drove them nearly westward, not southwest as the sailors supposed and feared.  The disaster drove them closer to their destination—less than 100 miles south of Sicily, just west of the Italian toe.

That’s a symbol of all adversity that’s yielded to God.  He promises to use it to push us closer to our destination in life—Christ-likeness and Heaven—if we let it achieve God’s purpose in us.

Unlike the ship, at the mercy of the typhoon-like winds, we determine what effect suffering has on us.  Where the ship had no will, we do; where it could only be driven as the wind dictated, we decide the direction we’ll go when life turns mean and unjust.

All the storms of life, that could destroy us if we simply give up, will drive us closer to our final destination, if we give them up to God.

Revenge –was it worth it?

A 19th year old girl came to San Diego, California, during WWII, following her boyfriend, who had shipped out before she arrived.  She worked at Rohr in Chula Vista and met a man who “treated me like a brother.”  They went to the beach, to dinner, to his parents, to a sexual relationship.  On the cajoling of her fellow-workers, she married him.

Within a year they had a baby and returned to Colorado, where she intended to stay.  Though she couldn’t forget her boyfriend, she wrote him a Dear John letter. with the usual explanation of:  separated too long, war lasting too long, she met someone else, etc.  Since he came from her hometown, however, she kept tabs on him, though she never saw him again.

Until 1973, when she visited Colorado from California and discovered from his mother that he was single again and living in Idaho. With fond memories echoing in her mind, she wrote him, shared her single status and asked him to come to San Diego for a visit.

He phoned after receiving the letter.  They talked.  He laughed about her voice being the same after 30 years.  He flew to San Diego.  They recognized each other instantly.  They had “the best time together.” They made arrangements to take a vacation together, all details specified.  She couldn’t wait.

He could.  When the time came, he didn’t show.

Worried at his failure to communicate, she called his mother in Colorado.  He had talked with her after his weekend in San Diego. Then he dropped the bombshell.  He had no intention of ever returning to San Diego. It had been enough for him to see the lady once more and raise her hopes of a renewed friendship and maybe love.

The lady later explained that he had been so angry when getting the Dear John letter that he “waited to do the same thing to me.”  Rousing her hope in a continued relationship fulfilled his purpose.

He wanted to hurt her as she had him.  She felt he loved her so much during the war that love turned to hate when being victimized by her.  He had obviously become obsessed with revenge.  The Homefront, 201-202.

Was it worth carrying hate all those years, to glut it in revenge?

 

Why Can’t Christians Cut Homosexuals a Little Slack? Part I

David Wilmot’s Proviso demanded the exclusion of slavery from any territory acquired from Mexico.  The House tied that as an amendment to President Polk’s legislation asking for $2 million to help settle boundary disputes with Mexico.

The bill and amendment enraged Senator Benton since it served no purpose but to surface the slavery issue.  It divided the Whigs for the Democrats and the House from the Senate.  Benton scathingly denounced it as an issue over which two parties disagreed so much about nothing.  A Country of Vast Designs, p.288

Is the conflict over homosexuality a lot of noise over nothing?  Or is there basic Biblical truth about humanity in the differences that makes it worth all the conflict it engenders?

Consider the theological basis of the conflict as the defining explanation.  Genesis 1-3 contains the ultimate authority on acceptable human sexuality, morality, cultural values and family lines of authority.  Since this is a study of sexuality, we’ll confine our remarks to references to it in Genesis 1-3.

First, Genesis 1:26-28 noted an entirely different concept in God’s mind when he created Adam—man; with the following evidences as proof.  One, God made only mankind in his own image.  Nothing even remotely similar to that fact occurred in God’s previous creative acts.  Two, God made humanity the ruler of all that he made.  Three, only to humanity did God speak personally—“to them” in blessing and command.

Second, Genesis 2:20 reinforced Genesis 1:26-27.  After Adam had named all the creatures God made, he saw NOTHING like him.  Whatever else God made, Adam remained separate.  In that biblical perspective God condemned all evolutionary speculation as baseless hypothesis.

Thus…Adam’s rib as Eve’s provenance.  I don’t know how far back into history our traditional explanation of it goes.  It was common currency when Matthew Henry popularized it in his Commentary.  It was the view my preacher Leon Appel held  when marrying couples:  God used Adam’s rib so Eve would always be the beloved he held near his heart.

While not untrue, it fails to appreciate the more basic meaning of the rib.  In creating woman from the man, God used enough of Adam to produce someone exactly like him while reserving the right to make her a different kind of someone exactly like him.

No one can doubt that men and women are different.  Let three humorous examples illustrate.  Sigmund Freud reputedly once said that he had a few words with his wife—then his wife had a few paragraphs with him.  Nearly any married couple can understand the difference.

Actress Rita Moreno was to be honored for her movie work.  And she would have but five minutes for an acceptance speech.  She retorted that, as a Puerto Rican, it would take her five minutes to say hello!  As a Puerto Rican or a woman?

In the comic strip Baby Blues (San Diego Union, 2/4/14), Zoe says she had to prepare a five-minute report for school.  Which she couldn’t understand since that would be only enough time for her opening remarks.  Her brother Hammie, standing by, contributed a different perspective; he would polish off five minutes in ten seconds.

The point all this makes:  God fashioned distance between Adam and Eve he wanted preserved and never lost; observed and never crossed.  Men would always retain their masculinity and women their femininity.  And no violation of either gender would be acceptable to him and no cross-gender would be tolerated.

This poses a troubling truth to all who promote homosexuality.  If, as they say, homosexuality is a birthright, why did God pronounce creation very good with only a heterosexual couple as husband and wife?  And they, uniformly and without exception, the only model God’s Word affirms?  With Whyany diversion—homosexuality, polygamy, adultery—constituting a perversion.

Do advocates of homosexuality want to accuse God of contradicting himself, when he claims to be perfectly consistent?  Do they insist on establishing their preferences over his commands?  End – Part I

Christ – riches of to be shared with, not divided among, heirs

Martin Luther King carried and preached from his personal Bible.  He also received and cherished the Nobel Peace Prize.  Now, in 2014, his children dispute ownership of both.  Two sons claim them as items to be sold; a daughter claims them as permanent reminders of her father’s legacy.  San Diego Union Tribune, 2/7/14

If only Dr. King had owned and carried and preached from two or three Bibles.  Or two or three Peace prizes could have been sent him   That’s the problem with human possessions:  even the wealthiest lack endless resources.  Bill Gates may have added 15.8 billion to his fortune in 2013, but investment stops when an end comes to those billions.  And even the wealthiest find their bequests being divided by their heirs.

Christ’s wealth, meanwhile, measured in spiritual glories and benefits, remains so immeasurably deep and wide and high that all believers can SHARE equally in all of it without fear of anyone exhausting it to the penury of some.  Who would satisfy himself with a divided when he can have an equal share in God’s eternal wealth?

Bible – someone, not just something, in it

In the opening scene of Young Mister Lincoln, starring Henry Fonda, a family needing dry goods passed through New Salem, Illinois.  They had no money, and all they had to offer in payment were some books in a barrel.  Lincoln quickly agreed to make the exchange.

The first book he noticed was a Blackstone Commentary on the Law.  When he looked at, then read a paragraph or two, the lady commented in surprise that she knew it was a book about something.  TCM – TV – 1/26/14

Many people know the Bible is about something, though they have no clear idea what.  What God wants them to know is that it’s about SOMEONE, about God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Spirit. Satan doesn’t fear something being revealed in the Bible.  But he’s insanely furious when people learn to know and love the SOMEONE revealed there.

Individuality – the ultimate insult to

On a cool December, 2005 day in Los Angeles, California, a minister stood before an open grave and intoned Psalm 23.  But not over a person who died, with loved ones at hand to notice and mourn.

Repeating what has been customary for 80 years previously, and periodically since, the grave held the comingled ashes of 1619 people who died unknown and unclaimed…or more commonly known but unclaimed … people who lived on the periphery of society, and died penniless and friendless.

Being buried as a nobody is the ultimate insult to personhood in this world.  One greater insult remains in the next:  to be known by God, as everyone is, and be judged unworthy of entering his presence, as everyone is without Christ’s saving blood.

Let us live here with anonymity if necessary   But, please, God Almighty, let us be a named someone in particular when we stand before you to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of your Lord.”