Musings on the Clash between homosexuality and Christianity

This article will quickly be the most controversial article published on the blog. It will be controversial because what this article is reflecting on is highly controversial, that being the ongoing clash between the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) community and Christianity. The reason for this article is because the clash has been in the news recently, particularly in the Twin Cities. This month of June is now nationally recognized as GLBT pride month.  This weekend the Twin Cities holds an annual Pride Festival.  So the topic is a central one to what is currently transpiring culturally.

The impetus of this article comes from two recent local news items.  One is about evangelist Brian Johnson being allowed by court to give away Bibles at the Twin Cities Pride Festival.  Brian Johnson had run a booth and passed out Bibles and discussed with individuals matters of faith. He had been a vendor at the festival for ten years but last year they no longer let him have a booth because he talked about folks repenting from Homosexuality. He distributed literature instead; an action that they tried to block via court but court indicated was allowed.  Now Brian Johnson did attend the festival and talked to others in a non-disruptive manner. The Star Tribune quoted him as saying “We’re not interested in preaching, and we never were,” Johnson said. “We’re not here for all that stuff in the news. We’re the ones that meet and have honest conversations with people, and we have our own rules that we go by as far as conduct is concerned.” Now there was a person at the Pride Festival that was more disruptive and typical of the kind of actions that can occur in the clash between homosexuality and Christianity.

Another news story is about Pastor Tom Brock of Hope Lutheran Church being outed in the magazine LAVENDER as having same-sex attraction and reporting to a twelve step group that he “fell into temptation in Solvakia.” This again highlights the clash as the Pastor has repeatedly spoken against homosexuality and the ELCA recent decision to allow active homosexual clergy. In order to obtain the information, the magazine reporter joined the twelve step group Pastor Brock was a part of and then wrote about what was said in the confines of the group in a very un-flattering article. Varied articles say that the action was justified because Pastor Brock teaches against homosexuality yet is someone who has same-sex attraction. The response seems to be that the reason Pastor Brock preached about homosexuality as being sinful was because of his own issues as a reaction of his own same sex attraction.  This again highlights the severity of the clash and the divergent views to the point where unethical behavior is justified because of one mans teaching from a Biblical perspective.

In the past couple months Jennifer Knapp made the news as outing herself as a lesbian.  Ray Boltz did the same a few years ago. Recently http://www.downthelinezine.com/  printed a periodical interviewing dUg Pinnock, Sean Doty, and Rick Alba related to matters of homosexuality, God, and the Church.  The articles (note:article is a download) are an interesting read and demonstrate how the clash exists within the church.

Now there are several issues that can be examined here but the point of this article is to really examine essential elements of the clash and how it applies as a whole.  This article is not going to really focus on the development of same-sex attraction nor will it focus on similar controversial issues.  However, before examining the clash it is important to note that this author believes homosexuality to be a sin and immoral.  However, the sin is not rated more sinful then other areas humans fall short of God’s standards. The sin in particular is one of a sexual nature of which there is many other types of sexual immorality that Christians battle daily. In understanding how to love and be salt and light to others, it is important to get an idea of what are the layers of the clash. What really is in conflict?  Why is the issue of homosexuality such a hot issue? The answers to these questions really come down to understanding the heart of the clash.

In examining the issue, the clash between Christianity and homosexuality really has four key components: will, desire, love, and identity. These issues of this clash are not just about this one issue but really are reflective to all clashes of the world and God’s kingdom. So when read the examination of the four components, please recognize that it also reflects other conflicts and areas of immorality. Homosexuality is used to highlight the essential elements of the conflicts in the four key component areas because the clash and conflicts are clearly observable.

The first key component to examine is that of will which really becomes a conflict between self and surrender.  It is about doing what self wants or surrendering to God and His ways.  Jesus stated in Luke 17:33 Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. In reading articles and trying to understand the clash, it is clear that there is an element of seeking after what is good for self and holding on to it. This stands in contrast to surrendering every part of life to God.  It is a choice to seek after what makes self feel better or being able to give all to God no matter what the apparent cost to self.  In dealing with temptation, including all forms of sexual immorality, Hebrews 12:4 states In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. This suggests that no only is there a battle of the will but that battle is tough and can even be painful. It is often far easier to choose that which feels good or is beneficial to self verses walking in faith and trust and enduring the battle at all costs.  Ultimately it is a matter of looking out for own good or trusting God and following His ways. This clash is very evident with homosexuality for ultimately there is an act of the will to embrace the same-sex attraction or reject it and then choices to act on the attraction or reject it. Now many point to the fact that the attraction is not voluntary or asked for as a reason to minimize the elements of the dynamic of will, but yet ultimately there comes many points of choice, there comes acts of the will. 

 Now the second key component is that of desire which results in a clash between following the heart or following truth. In this day and age there is an increasing focus on that which restrains passion or desire is immoral. The desires of the heart are primary and anyone that would hold back any pleasure from another is evil.  Society is fixated on suffering being the greatest evil and our desires for pleasure are the greatest good.  It is becoming the way of the world but is not the way of truth. When it comes to the things we are attracted to and attach ourselves, this is the function of the heart. The problem with the heart is that it is twisted and not interested in what is true, only in satisfaction. Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) states The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?  This verses shows that the core each of us is twisted and polluted and that we can desire things that are not for our benefit. This clearly is the case within homosexuality but is seen in other facets of life including an abused spouse. It is a difficult to break from that which is harmful and is often connected to issues of the heart. So this clash becomes a matter of people who say they did not ask for the desire but it is there and there is pleasure in seeking the desire and pain in resisting. The heart often wins out over the truth.  When the heart does not want what is in line with truth, there is a significant clash.  Going against the desires of the heart is painful. Why the heart desires what it desires is complicated because there are several factors that go into developing attachment and varied desires. The fact is our desires are not truth but sometimes are treated as such.  Now with regards to homosexuality that desire is a loving relationship and attraction to same sex or pleasure obtain from same-sex relationships but that very desire is a twist and leads to distorted views and a clash in perspectives on love.

The third key component of the clash between homosexuality and Christianity is that between perspectives of love.  On one hand is the view of “romantic love” and that everyone should be able to experience love as they see fit. Those teaching the immorality of homosexuality are seen as folks who present an unreasonable barrier to people who simply want to love someone else. Some might even argue that part of the definition of God is that God is love than opposing expressions of love is going contrary to God. Yet, the Bible is quite clear regarding same sex relations as being immoral and against his design, such that He refers to it is called an abomination. However, society today elevates the romantic relational love. It is the be all and end all of society. It serves two purposes that of facilitating pleasure and that of establishing a legacy through children, or in other words pleasing self and creating extensions of self.  The love of the Bible is of a different sort. It is love that gives of self even at great cost. It is a love that would die in the place of another.  It is love that touches the lives of others to build them up and point them to walking in truth. The love of God in fact is not about love without limits and just doing what feels good. The love of God is a perfect balance of caring for others to build them up and pointing them to the path of truth. It is a love that is able to set and point toward limits to keep others from danger. What happens if a parent does not set limits with a child?  The clash here then becomes focus on the Christian perspective one of depriving others do to pointing out behavior that is harmful. And yes, there are indeed harmful consequences in bodily, relational, and spiritual ways yet, even pointing out those consequences becomes a matter of restraining from desire to love.

The last component is that of identity. The clash escalates to the point where it is more than just about will, desire, and love. The clash escalates because the matter has become one of identity. Being gay has become an identity and being all about who you are as a person. It has a complete culture even to go along with the identity. The thing is once it take on a matter of identity, once it become who you are rather than a matter of sexual attraction and behavior it takes on a tone that it is something that is unchangeable.  Now undoing twisted attachment and attraction is not easy and takes deep healing, it is possible. However, if it becomes a matter of identity then it becomes important to not resist, for you are resisting who you are, or some would say who you were created to be. This is part of the negative comments directed at Pastor Tom Brock. He is tempted with same sex attraction, yet he does not accept this as his identity. He works to stand against his temptation, and yes sometimes falters. However, folks comment and engaging in outing him to say a “ha ha you are speaking against who you are and therefore a hypocrite.” It really points to a focus on believing there is an unchangeable matter of identity and rejecting it is rejecting self and you cannot change who you are. Yet, the bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:6-11(ESV) 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.  In Jesus, through sanctification it is possible to change. Christianity does teach that change is possible even for the hardest, most vile of people if one dies to self and surrenders to Jesus completely.  It is then that we become a 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  Once we are surrender to Jesus, we have a new identity and we become a new creation. And yes, in the process all of us still walk with day by day choices and have an ongoing process of cleansing and sanctification. It is a completely different mindset than surrendering to an identity because identity cannot change. In Jesus, identity does change.

Now all that being said, there are sincere and true followers of Jesus lost in this clash and fully embracing homosexuality. There are a multiple reasons and really getting down to the heart of the matter is difficult. Yet, there is clear pointing out in scripture that embracing homosexuality is equivalent of exchanging the truth of God for a lie. (Romans 1:25) It is an example of what is to come, people setting aside truth for deception. Now by saying this, not all who are lost in the sin have fully crossed the line of complete exchange but only God knows the heart and whether an exchange of truth for a lie has occurred. Ultimately it will come down to who and what you surrender to and what you honor and uphold: God’s truth or the way of self.  This is true in all battles of sin and self.  Now for people who find themselves like Tom Brock and others, and seeking to grow in truth and overcome sexual sin of any sort, there is a good resource to pursue at www.harvestusa.org.  But know well for each of us there exists a fight and a battle to stand firm and not cross over to the flames of hell.  Recently a good brother stated the enemy is patient and will look for an opportune time. This is a good picture of a roaring lion seeking to devour. A roaring line is one protecting territory, so in order to be devoured you have to enter the place of danger. This fits with proverbs and directions to not even go down the street of one that will seek to seduce you. Homosexuality is no different than any other trap of the devil. Change is possible but above all whoever and wherever you are surrender to the King of Kings, true, deep change is possible to be altered from any identity.

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News Commentary: Hilton Sex Scandal

Today the Star Tribune posted another article regarding sexual impropriety and scandal. This time it involves Hilton Executives who reportedly had an orgy in a Hilton banquet room that ultimately led to two employees leaving or being terminated from employment. Unlike the recent Metrodome incident, this incident involves people in positions of corporate power engaging in recreational sex but also using their power to dismiss those that had a problem with the event or refused to go along with the event.  The event would be considered similar to the infamous Vikings “Love Boat” the difference being the location.  This is a another example of folks who ultimately have deep emptiness turning to sexuality and substances to satisfy themselves with momentary pleasure.  It also displays what can happen when positions of power give individuals perhaps a sense of entitlement and invulnerability. 

       In terms of entitlement, it seems that when people attain levels of power it is often followed by several indulgences that often accompany the increase in power.  The more money and more you have, you have more access to whatever you want.  At some point, individuals can reach a point where they believe they have the right to do whatever they want.  In terms of this Hilton executive scandal, it can be viewed as they run the Hotel, they can do what they want within the privacy of their Hotel. If they want to use one of their banquet rooms for a party that devolves into a drunken orgy, they have that right.  Ultimately it becomes a viewpoint that these people in power view the power as giving them the right to do whatever they want and whatever anyone else thinks is irrelevant because they have the power and authority.  This kind of mindset can be seen here or anywhere any type of scandal rises to the surface.

      These people in power can also exhibit a sense of invulnerability.  It is a matter not only that they can do what they want, but that no matter what they do they can overcome any consequences.  Some people reach a level of influence, money, and power that they reach a point where there is no fear of consequences.  Perhaps years have gone by doing the exact same thing and no one complained or had any problems.  The longer a person goes without facing consequences or only receiving minimal consequences, the concern over consequences diminish.  However, there is a Biblical principle based on Numbers 32:23 that your sins will find you out.  Ultimately, no one is invulnerable to consequences.   Each of us sooner or later will face consequences to what we do. 

       And in reality, it is not just people in power who exhibit tendencies toward entitlement and invulnerability. Each of us in our own self focus exhibit both.  Anything that happens or reported we all have the capacity to do.   We all have selfish pursuits and things we feel we have a right to have and often do things thinking that we won’t face consequences.  Often times we do not, but ultimately there comes a time when the consequences occur.  If not in this life, then certainly in what comes after death.

      There is only one answer that gets us away from self centered pursuit.  There is only one way for ultimate freedom from the eternal consequences of our selfishness.  The answer is the Gospel. The answer is accepting Jesus sacrifice as taking on the consequences of our own selfish actions.  Only in Jesus is there freedom and true peace.  Yet, in this day and age not only is there a lack of regard for the temporary consequences of this life, but no consideration for the eternal.   Where are you today?  Are you caught up in your own pleasures and distractions.  Are you any different then the people being reported on in the article?  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  Please consider your eternal position and let Jesus pay the price for you.  Turn from your selfish pursuits and turn to Jesus.  It is worth it.

The Hooked Goose: A picture with spiritual signifigance

Take a moment and prayerfully consider this picture.  Ask God to reveal to you the spiritual significance of this picture, then come back and read my thoughts.  Please feel free to share your thoughts and what God speaks to you in the comment section. 
Notice the lure

Notice the lure

 

 

 

 

Okay, hopefully you have taken time to prayerfully consider the picture.  My first reaction to the picture was first it being a symbol of being yoked. Yet, with the lure being stuck in the goose it didn’t seem to quite fully fit.   Then my attention shifted to the nature of sin being a trap and that the Enemy has many for of bait sitting there to trap and entangle people.  There is no shortage of ways a person can get ensnared including the range of sexuality, drugs, entertainment, food, money, power, and so on.  Once we get drawn and hooked by a particular lure, there is always temptation to return.  The variety of sins are much like this lure.  We get used to them, not even notice, but every once and while feel the pull and get led off course.  This picture to me represents a typical Christian.  We are infilled with the Holy Spirit (goose is a symbol of Holy Spirit in Celtic Christianity) yet we have various sins that we have been hooked by that pull on us to lead us astray. We can have those hooks removed.  We can be delivered from the snares but there are specific steps, just as there would be steps to remove the lure in this picture.   Biblically the steps involve repentance, submission, forgiveness, reconciliation, and faith and probably others. At some point on this blog further examination on the steps to freedom over the snares of sin while occur.  Take some time to think for yourself about the snares you have that may pull at you, what keeps you from moving in the direction God has for you.

New moral trend: heteroflexible

I recently came across this column on what is and it really gives evidence to the slippery slope the morality of our society. The article basically discusses a trend of girls kissing girls to attract men. This practice is being called being hetero-flexible.  It displays the trend toward focus on sexuality and sex as recreation. And yes, men find women kissing women attractive, there is something about it that is alluring.  Perhaps the visual stimulation that triggers arousal.  This trend is a symptom of doing what want and need to do to get what you want, which in this case is sexual interactions and arousal.  There maybe some who engage in practice simply to tease. 

     Regardless, we live in a world that engages in recreational sex. We live in  a world where people exchange physical intimacy for true intimacy.  We live in a world where the lines of what is publically acceptable keep being crossed. It is the world we live in. It is a sad thing.  It is sad to see what  should be the culmination of intimacy between two people and what results in two becoming one, relegated to recreation and a focus on seeking after physical pleasure. 

    The behavior being called hetroflexible simply relegates women to being objectified.  For the women who engage in the practice, they perhaps feel power in being able to trigger arousal and attention, but it is fleeting. 

    So the final question is how does a Christian respond? While the behavior is a sign of moral decay, it is a sign of people really longing to be loved. It is a sign of someone chasing after temporary pleasures and power.  It is a sign of someone deep down needs to be shown the true love of Jesus that is unconditional and gets beyond the woundedness that stems from the sexual pursuits. A Christian, if aware of someone engaging in such practice can point out the negatives of the behavior but should never do so in a condeming way. It is simply unhealthy behavior that will it may bring a temporary pleasure, in the end just leads to emptiness.

Evaluating the “Fruits” of the so-called Lakeland Outpouring:

There is a lot of good information throughout the World Wide Web about Mr. Bentley and what has been proclaim as the “Lakeland Outpouring.” There is much conversation about how he is deceiving, glorifying self and angels, espousing and imparting New Age and occult teachings, and the probable source of the experience and healings (Kundalini). These are important things for a believer to know and spend some time at sites like http://www.deceptionbytes.com and you can learn much. However, I have yet to see a simple evaluation of what is actually occurring at Lakeland.
For me the question is simple. Is what is going on at Lakeland of the God and of the world. The things that are of the world are described in 1 John 2:16: “16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” So for me it is worth examining the Lakeland outpouring to see if what is promoted there consists of what is described as “from the world.”
First let’s look at “lust of the flesh.” When I think of the category of lust of the flesh to me it all comes down to craving an experience or pleasure. It is about what stimulates the senses. When I think about this, the immediate things my mind places into this category are things such as gluttony and sexual immorality. In essence, the core of this category is all about the “experience.” When I examine what is going on at Lakeland, essentially it is all about “the experience.” The ongoing declaration at each session is always “Come an’ get some!” The experience is explained as being of God and being filled with the Holy Spirit, yet really comes down to experiencing the ecstatic. So when I examine the Lakeland outpouring I find part of the nature of the “outpouring” to be “lust of the flesh.”
Next let’s look at “lust of the eyes.” When I think about this, the immediate things my mind places into this category are things such as riches and possessions. In essence, the core of this category is all about the “wants.” When I examine what is going on at Lakeland, I find that it is essentially all about wants. The focus on healing alone is about “wants.” It is about wanting and expecting an “outpouring” that will result in “healing” of the physical. The fact that on the surface people seem to get there ‘wants’ addressed is even offered as ‘proof’ that God is at work. Ultimately to me it is about stimulating and feeding the “lust of the eyes.”
The third category is “the pride of life.” When I think about this, the immediate things my mind places into this category are things such as success, purpose, and self-evaluation. In essence, the core of this category is all about the promotion of self. When I examine what is going on at Lakeland, I find that ultimately self is promoted. I tuned into Mr. Bentley speaking one night for about ten minutes and he seemed to be trying to teach from Acts 2. However, what he emphasized was “great grace.” He challenged all to want to be brought into the “extraordinary.” I have witnessed Mr. Bentley emphasizing the “miraculous” and even fishing for connections of testified miracles. It is all about “the show” and what is happening at “Lakeland.” The message is that what is happening is so extraordinary that not only should you experience it, but you should receive an impartation so that you too can do the “extraordinary. In essence, you can become “special.” It is the essence of “the pride of life.”
So when I look at what is going on at Lakeland, in spite of things being claimed to be done in Jesus name, biblical examination to me results in declaring the “Lakeland outpouring” to be “of the world” and not “of the Father.” Lakeland outpouring is all about experience, wants, and elevation of self. True revival is about denial, surrender, and elevation of Jesus the Son of God come in the flesh.