Tag Archives: homosexuality

The Twisted Message

Linked to the article in which the question of whether gay Christians can go to Heaven was another article that gave the “Scriptural” explanation of why they cannot.  I confess that this is the kind of thing that gets me riled.  It is one thing to reveal your prejudices.  It is quite another to use Scripture to support them.

The key passage this person used was from 1 Corinthians:

“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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

I find it fascinating that a person could read this passage and come out with a judgment against gay people.  Of course, the passage, shortened to the pertinent words, does say, “…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God… nor men who practice homosexuality.”  So there it is, right?

There are two things that must be pointed out (which the author of the linked article apparently could not see).  First, whatever applies to gay people in this passage also applies to a lot of others.  Anyone who is sexually immoral.  Anyone who is an idolator (and how do we apply that today?)  Anyone who steals.  Anyone who wants what others have (greedy or covetous).  Anyone who drinks to excess.  Anyone who is a mischief maker (reviler—gossip, dissenter, backtalker, spreader of lies or half-truths, etc.)  Anyone who extorts money from others (perhaps by suggesting that the tithe is still binding on Christians?)  (And, while we are still in this part of the text, any young boy slave used by a wealthy Roman citizen for sexual purposes.  That word is left out of the NIV, which this person quotes, but it is in the original text.)

So, there you go.  Have you met any of these folks in church?  Well, none of them will go to Heaven, according to this interpretation.  I would guess that we could add another whole list of things that Paul forgot also.

But what about the rest of the passage?  This writer seems to completely miss the point.  “Such were some of you.”  That means that they are not that now.  They were thieves, or immoral, or homosexual, or greedy but they are no longer.  Why?  Was it because they stopped doing the things associated with these labels?  Was it because they conquered their sins and lived perfect lives?  Was it because they never again allowed their feelings to dictate their behavior?  What was it that took them from what they were to what they are?

But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

This passage is not a judgment on gay people!  It is a celebration of what Jesus has done for His people.  He has changed us.  He has taken our sins away.  He has re-created us.  He did it . . . and it had nothing to do with us changing our behavior.

It grieves me to think that this condemnation is the only message many will hear from the church.  Guilt, shame, rejection.  That is not the gospel and it is not the heart of God.  He loves us and He does for us what we could never do for ourselves.  And listen: even if we still can’t seem to change, at least not yet, He still loves us and He still brings us to Himself.

It isn’t about what you do.  It’s about what He did and continues to do.

 

Your thoughts?

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Filed under grace, Grace definition, Legalism

Jesus or Nothing

I see it and I recognize it, but I’m going to step in it anyway.  There is a serious debate going on about the connection between behavior and salvation.  The particular question is whether practicing homosexuals can go to Heaven.  Recently the leader of a group known as “Exodus” has made some statements that disturb the system.  In an interview with Lisa Ling, and in reference to people who continue to live in a homosexual lifestyle, Alan Chambers said, “I do believe they will be in heaven with me … if they have a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

This perspective has gotten Chambers into trouble.  People are saying that he should step down from his leadership position.  People are saying that he is a heretic.

But notice what he did not say.  He did not say that a homosexual lifestyle was good or even “acceptable” for a Christian.  He did not say that homosexual behavior was without negative consequences or that it was not sin.  He did not say that homosexuals should not seek to change.  He also did not say that homosexuals were “good enough” to get into Heaven.  He said nothing positive about homosexuality.

What he said was that anyone who has a relationship with Jesus, and I take that to mean a saving relationship based on accepting the love of God in the life and sacrifice of Jesus, will be in Heaven.  His idea of salvation appears to be centered on Jesus, rather than the behavior of people, even people who claim to know Jesus.

So now the question is: Can a gay Christian go to Heaven?  Good grief!

Two things:  First, the gay lifestyle is a search for love.   Yes, it is broken and aberrant and, from the perspective of most of us, disturbing.  But the feelings within the hearts of gay people are usually very deep reactions to the world in which they grew up.  The flesh of the gay person is just as confused and just as wrongly wired as that of the rest of us.

For some people, acceptance and love are found in food.  Some find it in buying things.  Others find it in serving people or recognition at work or in pets or in collecting things.  We do these things because they make us feel what we want to feel.  This is what the flesh is all about—finding ways to feel the way we want.  Some feel much better about themselves in fantasies and indulge in p-rn or romance fiction.  Some go from partner to partner seeking that special feeling.  And some feel better in a close relationship with someone of the same gender.

Feelings lead to actions.  A person addicted to buying things in order to feel good might be tempted to do wrong things to get enough money to continue buying.  A person who eats to feel good can damage his health and become a glutton.  Wrong thinking leads to wrong doing.  Whether it is homosexual behavior or a critical spirit, it comes from wrong thinking.

And, whether we like to admit it or not, we carry a bunch of wrong thinking into our Christian life.  And wrong doing.  I know that I didn’t think and act in the way I thought I should or in the way I wanted when I became a believer.  I still don’t.  And, I’d be willing to bet, neither do you.  It is certainly possible to overcome our feelings, to not let them dictate our actions—but it is hard work and we all know it.  The simple truth is that we didn’t come to Christ by perfect behavior and we don’t have to behave perfectly to remain in Christ.  The only behavior that brings and keeps salvation is Jesus’ behavior.

So is it possible for practicing homosexual Christians to go to Heaven?  Here’s my second point, and it’s important: Christians go to Heaven.  The one requirement for Heaven is eternal life in Jesus.  Those who come to Jesus and place their hope and trust in Him will find Him faithful—even when they are not.  Christians go to Heaven.  Imperfect in this world, broken and struggling and hurting and confused and compromised and sad and wrong and burdened, but Christians.  Just like you and me.

Let’s be honest.  If people who still practice homosexuality, but have a relationship with Jesus, cannot go to Heaven because of their behavior, then there is no hope for any of us.  It is either Jesus, and Jesus alone, or we have nothing.

More tomorrow…

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Filed under grace, Grace definition, Legalism, Relationship