Saturday, May 21, 2005

Love & Choice

Love & Rape

The political arm of the Fundamentalists has boiled Christianity down to two issues; Abortion and Homosexuality. The truth is that those running these campaigns couldn’t care less about either issue, but see these as Hot button issues to polarize and mobilize voters. They presume to pretend they are of such high moral ground; as though they are not guilty of having had sex outside the marriage bond, and then they go around condemning others. "Know ye not that by what measure you judge you will be judged?" Are you going to tell us that the things they are accusing those others of, they themselves are not guilty of? Too bad these were not in the crowd with Jesus when the harlot was brought to Him for he truly would have found his men. The harlot surely would have been stoned. Hypocrites! Woe unto you, "the harlots shall go into the kingdom of God before you." Mt: 21:31. Who made them the judge over anyone's life choices? It was God who gave us a choice; it is Antichrist that would like to take it away. God would guide us into truth and He gave us a conscience so that we hopefully will make the right choice. Would you declare that we don't need the ability to choose anymore, because your righteousness has made that choice for us? I am not saying I believe in abortion, (as much as they want to frame it that way with right wing spin) but we know that life has many different turns and circumstances. Some have been raped or abused, or are in poverty. I agree that perhaps it is taken far too lightly and may be occurring far too often; but the answer to that would be counseling and teaching. We should help people care more about the sanctity of their own bodies. If it is outlawed, it will go underground and women will be butchered in back alleys. Who am I to tell anyone what is the right choice in their circumstance. I would just pray that they would make the right choice. Ah but you would say they are murdering babies, because they are making the wrong choice. That would be for God to decide. Let me remind you that God foreknowing the choice we would make in the garden, knowing that the wrong choice would bring the fall of man, with all its suffering; Knowing we would make the wrong choice, still allowed us the choice. It is man making himself God (antichrist) that would take away choice. To say that life begins at conception is a theological belief. It follows a line of thinking that conception if left to its natural path would result in a baby. That is true, but that doesn't mean that if interrupted at some early point, that it is at that point a baby with a soul. The belief that we should not interfere comes from a few scriptures like Mt: 19:6: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” The problem is that these scriptures are dealing with marriage or being born again. On the other hand some would say that a child becomes a living soul with its first breath. Gen: 2:7: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” It is amazing to me that anyone would be so adamant over a questionable soul, and have no regard over those that are unquestionable. The Bush's have killed hundreds of thousands so far. There is no shadowy theological question about that.
The other lie that has been spread to purely play on people’s prejudices is the Gay issue. The idea is that a gay person is automatically in sin and separated from God. This bigotry is preached from the pulpit of the Religious Right. You are lead to believe that homosexuality is a choice. That idea is completely unsubstantiated. Ask any gay person what they think. Yet these people automatically discount what gays say as unreliable and their word is reliable, even though they have not experienced what a gay person goes through. I would ask, “When did you choose to be straight?” I think that is an excellent question. Who in their right mind would choose a life of discrimination and persecution? If the homosexual has a promiscuous life, I would ask whose fault is that? I would give the blame to the Church. If you have been taught that you are condemned already, then why not just go and indulge all your lusts. There is a difference between love and lust, straight or gay. Mt: 23:13: “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Christ died for Gay people also. As a result of the rejection they have experienced, many seek for a spiritual life in all kinds of places, from cults to Eastern religions. We as Christians are called to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and lift up the glory of Jesus. Any cleaning up of our lives is done in the presence of God as we come boldly before His throne that we may receive grace to help. Heb: 4:16: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” In other words we should not put the cart before the horse, we do not clean up our lives first in order to come before God; we come before God as we are and he cleans us up. To tell a gay person that he must stop being gay is the same as telling a straight person to stop being straight. To most of us that would seem just impossible. It is a part of your very fabric. Again in Matthew in the same passage dealing with shutting up the Kingdom we see this; Mt: 23:4: “For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” I know that with God all things are possible, but it would appear that this is not an issue to God. Jesus never mentions it.
Even if it were important, where would you get that kind of grace to change? Only because you were in love with the Most High God, and to be in love you would need to be able to come as you are so you could know Him; not turned away before you are even getting started.
I think it would be important to look at exactly what the Bible does say about this subject, which is amazingly little. As Al Franken put it “if you took out of the Bible everything that has to do with homosexuality, you would wouldn’t even notice a difference; but if you took out everything that has to do with looking out for the down trodden and the sick and the poor, you would have a box just about the right size to smuggle Rush Limbaugh’s drugs in”. There is no question that Gods creation was meant to be for Man to desire a Woman. What most over look is that we are living in a fallen creation. There are all kinds of things that are not quite in the perfection that God intended. If a person is born with an abnormality would you say they are going to hell for it? No, and yet if the world were in Gods perfect order, there would be no imperfections.
First let’s deal with the passage in Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 ““Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” The code of Laws and customs in Leviticus were not intended for Christians. We are not under the Law but under Grace. The Old Testament Law was meant to convict all of sin so that we would know we needed a savior. No Christian group would demand that we obey all the rules that are laid down in these verses. If we did we would have to keep the kosher laws as well. We don’t demand compliance with the other sexual rules in Leviticus. If we did, we could not touch our wives during her monthly cycle and we would allow polygamy, which is lawful in Leviticus. Unless you are willing and able to obey all the rules in Leviticus, you cannot blame the homosexual for not feeling bound to obey them. To point to these two verses and demand that kind of selective compliance is ludicrous and wrong.
I use in my discussion mostly the King James Version; it seems to have less of an axe to grind than many modern day translations.
Now what about Sodom? Genesis 19:1-29 If you read this passage you will see that it says in vs. 4 “All the men young and old” It is highly unlikely that a whole city was homosexual, the whole city may have been self indulgent and lustful, but not that they would have an orientation to homosexuality. It is also apparent that these men were not looking for a consensual good time; they wanted to rape the angels. It is also clear that these men were not just homosexual but looking to fulfill their lust, or Lot would not have offered them his daughters The true sin of Sodom is revealed to us in Ezekiel:16:49: Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, (it seems that one of the main accusers of the homosexual is guilty of this sin of Gluttony, Have a look at those cheeks on Jerry Falwell) and abundance of idleness (this is what our entire society is caught up in idolizing movie and sports stars) was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy (tax cuts for the rich and no health care for the poor). 50: And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. This society had become completely self indulgent.
Now let us look at the New Testament. The one passage that is seemingly the most damning is Romans 1:18-29. This scripture is not what it appears to be on the surface. This is a condemnation of ungodly ritual indulgence, which worked up into a frenzy of all manner of sexual lust. This was not a condemnation of Love between two men or between two women. If you think it is, then it carries the same condemnation of “fornication”; but for some reason these modern day Pharisees seem to skip over that part. Because they are not looking for a way to redeem those whom Christ died for but rather to condemn in order to better justify their own self-righteousness. They fail to notice what it says just a few verses down. Romans 2: 1: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”
This brings us to the passage in 1 Corinthians 6: 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, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (I know that some new translations incorrectly have in this place the words “male prostitutes and homosexuals) 10: Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” Before I get into the break down of those words, I would call your attention to the other words that I have in bold letters. These carry equal weight. The word translated in the KJV as “effeminate” would have been better translated the “self-indulgent” Does this remind you of Sodom? That word could not have anything to do with being a homosexual, because although there are effeminate homosexuals, there are plenty of effeminate straight men as well. The reason the KJV writers used that word was because they were referring to the Kings of France as being self-indulgent prancing about in their frills and “girly-man” wigs. They were what were brought to the English’s mind when you used the word effeminate. The next words “abusers of themselves with mankind” would have been better translated as “exploitation” It may have had to do with male prostitutes, but also any kind of prostitution. It was actually directed at those that used the prostitutes more so then those that were being used. They are more the victims of abuse. In our society we are surrounded with all kinds of exploitation; from the Rich to the Corporations. Anytime you do something for your advantage or pleasure that uses another, or takes advantage of their situation is to exploit them.
Unfortunately there many gay men that perhaps because of guilt or being told they must be straight end up marrying and then sneak around behind their wives back. They deny there true identity to themselves and others and as a result have a secret life. When and if they are exposed it is often disastrous to them and their families. Some even committing suicide. What a shame. Then there are those that try to combat it within themselves buy becoming “homophobic homosexuals” or “self-loathing.” Then some become just plain hypocrites. Here are a few examples. This is from the New York Times on April 9, 2005 The Article “G.O.P. Consultant Weds His Male Partner” “Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel over the last 25 years, said Friday that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.”He was actively anti-gay. Or how about this “Two men have told a Spokane, Washington, newspaper that Mayor Jim West offered them jobs after meeting in a gay Internet chat room.” Article says how he fought against any gay equality issues.
Another good site on the subject is The Real Live Preacher.
By this discussion I am not saying that the homosexual or anyone else is not called to righteousness. They are responsible for moral behavior that is not destructive to themselves or others just like everyone else that wants to know a walk with God.
I am saying though that a committed relationship based in Love can be blessed by God. It says in Hebrews 13:4: "Marriage is honorable in ALL, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." (It does not say in that passage the marriage is only honorable between a man and a woman) Gal: 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."
I realize that many are coming from a position that has been held since the middle ages. Perhaps it is time that these issues are reexamined. I believe that the truth of Gods word is being progressively restored to His Church. No question that Gods perfect order is for one man and one woman to be in a loyal blissful marriage, but unfortunately that is rare. There is a 1.Good and 2.Acceptable and 3.Perfect will of God. Rom.12.1. or none of us would marry for that is what Paul thought would be best. I am fully aware that many will disagree with this post, but my intent is not to convince everyone, but to win those that may be alienated from the Lord to "Come unto Him" Eph:1:6: To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Let each person come before God and seek what is Gods will for their life according to His Word and their conscience. Titus:1:15: "Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."
Lastly George W Bush may be guilty of both these things he has fought against. Abortion and Gay Rights. Now isn’t that just like the Antichrist.
We are taught by Gods word that “The truth will make you free” Jn:8:32 This teaching has liberated many to come to the Love of Christ.

We are also taught buy our Lord in Mathew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16: Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Now when you look at this passage, we can understand several things, one thing that would be clear is that a false prophet would teach false doctrine and false doctrine would bring forth bad fruit, as good doctrine would bring forth good fruit. Also notice that they are in sheep's clothing, which would say they are seemingly gentle and perhaps well meaning and as a sheep, maybe part of the “Flock”; but their motives are not Godly. They want to divide and concur, which is the tactic that the Republican, religious right power hungry leaders have as their intent.

Finally I would point out that Jesus tells us that we will know them not by their doctrine, but buy the end result of their doctrine “the fruit”. We are many times confused by doctrine, and men have disagreed through the ages. The smartest of men are still dumb when we look at the Wisdom of God. So Jesus made it more simple for us. He was saying here that you are not smart enough to always know the correct doctrine, so look at the end result. The “Fruit” We know what the fruit of the spirit is from Gal:5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Now look at the fruit of the teaching of the fundamentalists on this subject. Young kids kill themselves, or bullies beat them up. Parents reject their own children, Men or women get married trying to hide who they are, and end up sneaking around behind their spouses backs, and not only ruin their own lives but also ruin the lives of the wife or husband they may take. These things are just “the tip of the ice berg”

These people know what it means to be despised and rejected of men.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Why Does God Hate Sin?

The Cup of Sin

How is it that people have such a perverse understanding of the nature of God? Do we think He is some kind of dummy? This shows us how little we know about Him and His nature. The religious world has painted a picture of God as this big mean angry old man stomping around heaven with a big stick telling us not to have a good time; ready to strike you if you are doing something wrong. People have this image of God being all pissed off all the time. This is not the case at all. At least not yet, that day will come at Judgment. First let me remind you of my post about why God made man. He made mankind for love. Our self centered little lives can’t comprehend the degree in which God loves us. Eph: 3: 17: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18: May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19: And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Why am I talking about the love of God in relation to sin? I was kind of hoping a light bulb would go on in your head. Did it?
It is because of His Love that God hates sin. Sin hurts the object of His love, therefore He HATES it. Sin doesn’t hurt God anymore. It hurt Him on the Cross, but now it hurts us and keeps us from Him because it destroys faith, and our lives.
I wonder how many parents out there when disciplining their children don’t explain the reason for the discipline. The child asks “Why?” and the reply comes back “Because!!!” When we understand the reason for the correction, it becomes much more effective. It helps us to see the wisdom in following the will of our parents or Gods word.
Some sin only affects us, but in most cases it affects others as well; usually many others. Some is willful, some is from habit, some is from deception and some is because we don’t understand or know any better. We sin because it is our nature, Rom: 7: 21: I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22: For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24: O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? In Romans: 6:23: it tells us “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Bible banger types use that scripture as a threat, but it was just meant as instruction, declaring what happens as a result of sin. It works death in your members.
Man in himself is incapable of pleasing God, so no matter how hard we try, we can not. That issue was paid at the cross. God is able to embrace us because we have been washed by the blood of Jesus. So the issue of sin as an obstacle to come before God is no longer the case. The reason to flee from sin now is not because it hurts God but because it hurts us the object of His Love. Most sin comes from pride at the root, and pride is the result of separation form God. Ultimately we are all insecure, so we try to escape from that insecurity through many different paths. We were told by the Devil in the Garden that we are “Gods” but for some strange reason the rest of creation hasn’t noticed that you are really all that wonderful; so you set about to prove it. People do this by many different means. They try to impress you with their talent or their wealth and show off how ever they think they can impress. Sometimes we even resort to embellishing how wonderful we are with lies. Why do we do this? What we really want is to be loved. When we try to impress, and exult ourselves, all we do is create resentment and/or stir in others the same deception; a competition to be better than you or a struggle to keep up. That won’t get you love, but it will get you resented. I have wonderful news. If you want to be loved, give Love. You will reap what you sow. Francis of Assisi prayed; Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
You don’t have to be rich and famous to give love. Others will lap it up like a sponge.
You can spend your life striving to be rich or famous, but without love, you are nothing 1Cor:13.
I believe God would have us know why sin is wrong and bad for us. For example: Sex is inferred to be so sinful, but why? We tell our young people to abstain from sex but hardly ever give them any real reasons why. I have preached that; many times the good can be the enemy of the best. God gave us sex as a type of the ecstasy we can experience with God. We are the bride of Christ. It is an expression of love and oneness. The marriage is a picture of the Bride and Bridegroom, the relation between God and man. Just as we are to have no other God and be loyal to God we are to be loyal to one another in marriage. This helps us to understand the fullness of what God has given; but sex can be destructive in many ways. It can become as a lust that will consume you, never able to get enough, which then becomes all about self gratification. If you feed a fire it becomes bigger, it does not satisfy the fire, the more you feed it the bigger it gets. It can break the heart of another, not to mention that a child my result. Then of course there are STDs to be concerned with. I bring this up because sexual sins seem to be the one of main focus of the Religious Right. It is something they can convict most of, yet it is the one that the Lord seemed to have the most mercy for. I could go on and on about the various traps that can be associated with sex, love and self gratification. My main point is to have a look at yourself and see if your life is on a self destructive path, or if it is exploiting another, because therein lays the evils of sex, what it can do to you and others.
John boiled sin down into three categories. 1Jn:2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, (sex and gluttony) and the lust of the eyes (covetousness), and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” It is important to truly believe in Gods forgiveness. Otherwise when we try to pray we feel guilt. Then you begin to believe a lie and fall away. God wants to save us and bring us into the fullness of what he has for us. If our heart is to please God we come boldly before the throne of grace Heb: 4:16 and our attention will go from our wretchedness to His wondrous splendor. He is like a refiner’s fire and it is in his presence that we will be conformed into his image.
So far in this post I have been discussing the kind of sin that the humble heart realizes he is guilty of as he tries to draw near to God. In a scene it is a good thing to feel your unworthiness and that you question your own heart; but it is of utmost importance that we trust in Gods forgiveness. I believe we understand more of Gods forgiveness as we forgive others. In fact God forgives us in the same proportion as we forgive others. Remember what Jesus says in the Lords Prayer? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us.” Thus Forgiving builds our faith to truly receive and trust in the forgiveness of God. 1Pt:5:6: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:”
I would have to say that the worst kind of Sin is that which most are blind to; The Pride of Life. It is pride that is the most destructive to the world. It is the haughtiness of the Religious Right that turns them into Pharisees; looking to take the speck out of everyone else’s eyes, while ignoring the log in there own. Trying to convict others of sin and lay heavy burdens on them, to keep people oppressed with guilt. They strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. What was really the true sin of Sodom? Ezekiel tells us. Ezek: 16:49: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, PRIDE, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness (wealth) was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50: And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” (For you Rapture people out there, again it was the wicked that were taken). I believe this is a sin against the Holy Ghost. It is unforgivable because it is unrepentant. It is unrepentant because they are blind to it; they are blind to it because they know not the Father nor the Son, regardless of what their doctrine may be.
When Jesus was in the Garden and prayed that “this cup” be removed and He sweat blood, it was not that he was afraid of the suffering and the death on the cross. What do you suppose was so repulsive to him? It was what was in the cup, and what would happen when he took it. It was the Sin and Iniquity of all mankind. This Holy Body that had never known sin was now to become sin for us. When he took the cup of sin it separated him from the Father; A separation that had never occurred before. Now we can begin to understand why he was repulsed to have to take this cup; “but not as I will but as Thou willeth”. This is why when he was dying on the cross he cried “Father why hast thou forsaken me?” Not that God had forsaken Him, but it appeared to Jesus that He had; because He was now like us, blinded by sin. Oh what Great LOVE He has for us to have laid down His life and experience separation from the Glorious Light of the Father.