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Posts Tagged ‘Homosexuality’

“How do you respond to non-believers who accuse Christians of being hateful to people who support lifestyles that are not according to the precepts of our faith?”

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Genesis 3:1 informs us that “the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” Crafty, indeed. God had commanded Adam that, while he “may surely eat of every tree of the garden,” there was only one exception: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).

The serpent, possessed by Satan, deftly twisted God’s words: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1). The serpent went from making God’s gracious provision of all but one tree to none at all.

The Satanic tactic of twisting God’s words continues. Though unsurprising, it has nevertheless been disheartening to witness our culture’s increasingly rapid moral decline. A United States President is caught in a public lie, members of his political party justifies the lie, a supportive media observes that nothing unusual has taken place, and the general public yawns. The yawning public reveals the position of our culture.

Our culture’s open-armed embracing of Sodom and Gomorrah has been most telling. The notion of same-sex marriage would have been laughable only two or three decades ago. It’s now difficult to see how it will not become the law of the land in all fifty states within another decade.

As disheartening as such things are, particularly distressing is the way many “evangelicals” are looking for a way out of the same-sex marriage debate. Standing against same-sex marriage will require paying a price, and evangelicals can be quite a weak-kneed lot. If only we could find some biblical justification for homosexuality and same-sex marriage, then we could save face as we raise the white flag of surrender and move on to “important” matters.

Enter Matthew Vines. Vines is a winsome twenty-four-year-old self-described homosexual evangelical Christian. He claims to believe that the Bible is fully authoritative but does not contradict homosexuality and same-sex marriage. To prove his case, Vines authored the recently-released God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.” He argues that “Christians who affirm the full authority of Scripture can also affirm committed, monogamous same-sex relationships.”

What Vines does is reinterpret six biblical texts (Genesis 19:5; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; and 1 Timothy 1:10) which have throughout history been understood as condemning homosexual relationships. Well, that was then, and this is now. Following the lead of theological liberals, Vines claims that the church has just gotten these texts wrong. The writers of the Bible, he claims, had no understanding of monogamous same-sex relationships. What they condemned was unrestrained homosexual relationships, and the same-sex marriage debate is something entirely different.

In essence, though, what Vines has done is reawaken Satan’s question to Eve: “Did God actually say?” How convenient it is to reinterpret the Bible so that it does not condemn the lifestyle you live. You can keep your lifestyle and the Bible. You can claim to believe the Bible while continuing to live the way you desire.

Unfortunately, what Vines has done is the way Christians too often live. The Bible condemns gossip, but we’re just sharing. The Bible condemns theft, but surely failing to report cash income is not what the biblical writers had in mind. The Bible commands us to engage in corporate worship, but it can’t mean every Sunday.

We rightly condemn instances where professing Christians relativize Scripture in order to justify their sinful choices. We must seriously examine ourselves, though, asking whether we excuse in ourselves what we condemn in others: “For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things” (Romans 2:1).

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The Associated Press welcomed us to January 9 with this bit of news: “The Washington National Cathedral, where the nation gathers to mourn tragedies and celebrate new presidents, will soon begin performing same-sex marriages.”

We aren’t surprised. Its denomination, the Episcopal Church (the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America) has been a leading voice for decades for professing Christians who reject the Scriptures. In 2003, for instance, the Diocese of New Hampshire elected the Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual priest lauded for his “long-term committed relationship,” as Bishop.

What is particularly disheartening is the scriptural justification put forth for performing same-sex marriage. The Very Reverend Gary Hall, the dean of the cathedral, maintained that “performing same-sex marriages is an opportunity to break down barriers and build a more inclusive community ‘that reflects the diversity of God’s world.'” The article goes on to say: “‘I read the Bible as seriously as fundamentalists do,’ Hall told the AP. ‘And my reading of the Bible leads me to want to do this because I think it’s being faithful to the kind of community that Jesus would have us be.'”

The Rev. Hall lives in a state of self-delusion. He doesn’t read the Bible seriously at all. A serious reading of the Bible reveals homosexuality as the height of human rebellion against God and as a judgment from God:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:24-27)

The only sexual relationship which God condones is between a man and a woman within the bond of marriage (Matthew 5:27-28; Matthew 19:4-6; Hebrews 13:4). And the only homosexual whom God receives is akin to the only thief, the only liar, the only adulterer, the only murderer (or whatever sinner one may be) whom God receive: the one who repents of his sin and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is Christ who voluntarily suffered divine justice on behalf of those who would repent and believe upon him (2 Corinthians 5:21). To bless homosexuality is to scoff at the cross of Christ.

The AP story closes with this: “‘For us to be able to say we embrace same-sex marriage as a tool for faithful people to live their lives as Christian people,’ [Hall] said, ‘for us to be able to say that at a moment when so many other barriers toward full equality and full inclusion for gay and lesbian people are falling, I think it is an important symbolic moment.'” Rev. Hall will find himself applauded by millions of Americans for his bold declaration seeking to aid homosexuals “to live their lives as Christian people.” The general public usually applauds those who condone what God condemns. The world loves apostates.

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It seems that evangelicals are falling all over themselves to become accepted by mainstream American society. Discussions about creation in the first two chapters of the book of Genesis are deemed “distractions.” The plight of the unborn is considered “yesterday’s battle.” It is considered fashionable to support a United States President who pontificates about the need to defend the weak but turns his back upon the most defenseless of humanity–the unborn.

It is encouraging to see concerted efforts to recover the biblical gospel and to emphasize a biblical view of doctrines such as justification. It is discouraging to see that many of those rightly concerned about the gospel accept the tenets of old-earth creationism and are deafeningly silent about the slaughter of the unborn.

Many rightly see that evangelicalism has been more concerned about culture wars than about the gospel. Far too many pro-life evangelical church members are relatively clueless about the gospel. They may be staunchly anti-homosexual while remaining quite fuzzy about salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

That said, it is wrong to neglect what has been emphasized in order to emphasize what has been neglected. Conceding creationism today will result in conceding the atonement tomorrow. Forgetting the unborn today will result in forgetting justification tomorrow.

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Gene Robinson, homosexual activist and Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, has been tapped to offer a prayer at a Lincoln Memorial inauguration event for president-elect Barack Obama. According to the Associated Press, Robinson said that he would not be using the Bible or offering a Christian prayer.

Concerning the Bible, Robinson said, “While that is a holy and sacred text to me, it is not for many Americans.” It seems that the “holiness” and “sacredness” of the text of the Scriptures excludes the stark warnings in both the Old Testament and New Testament which roundly condemn the practice of homosexuality.

Not surprisingly, Robinson will be offering a generic prayer: “I will be careful not to be especially Christian in my prayer. This is a prayer for the whole nation.”

Such a position initially strikes me as sheer nonsense. You would think that a professing Christian who prays would be offering his prayer to the God whom Christians worship.

Then again, perhaps it makes perfect sense for Robinson to be offering a generic prayer to a generic god. Only a Christian would be offering a prayer to the triune God of the Bible. And whatever Gene Robinson is, for all his theological degrees and ecclesiastical position, the one thing he is not is a Christian.

While none of us is without sin, one cannot explicitly condone that which the Scriptures explicitly condemn and be a true follower of the God of that sacred writing. To sin and then confess that one is wrong and seek forgiveness is one thing. To practice an activity which the Bible condemns and yet claim that that practice is not a sin but is an activity blessed by God is certainly another. Words from Lord Jesus himself should cause all of us to examine our lives: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matthew 7:21-23 [ESV]).

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In a June 28 Associated Press story entitled “Presbyterian Assembly votes to drop homosexual clergy ban,” Ed Gorski reports that

The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., voted 54 percent to 46 percent Friday to drop the requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in ‘fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.’ The proposed change to the church constitution requires approval from a majority the nation’s 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies — a yearlong process that has proven to be a barrier to similar efforts in the past.

As if that were not enough, a second vote entrenched the denomination in its depravity:

Of equal importance to advocates on both side[s] of the debate, the assembly also voted to allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object to the existing standard. Local presbyteries and church councils that approve ordinations would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis. That vote was an ‘an authoritative interpretation’ of the church constitution rather than a change to it, so it goes into effect immediately. The interpretation supersedes a ruling from the church’s high court, issued in February, that said there were no exceptions to the so-called ‘fidelity and chastity’ requirement.

Surely the time for Christians to separate from the PCUSA has come. By its actions, the PCUSA has shown that, as a national body, it is no longer a Christian denomination. Indeed, it is apostate. While Christians may differ over doctrine and the interpretation of portions of Scripture, Christians do not reject that which is clear in the Bible. No Christian will support homosexuality as a union blessed by God because the Scriptures are clear. Homosexuality represents the bottom of human depravity: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27, ESV).

Those who claim to follow Christ and yet practice homosexuality worship a Christ of their imagination, a Christ fashioned by the deception of their own hearts. And yes, those of us who call attention to their rebellion against God will be castigated as “unloving” and “uncaring” and “pharisaical” and other such less-than-charitable epithets. The bottom line is this: One cannot be a Christian while condoning that which the Scriptures condemn.

Homosexuality is a sin, just as a host of others are. The apostle Paul provides quite a list: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV).

None of us is without sin, and all of us who are indeed Christians are followers of Christ by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nevertheless, a true Christian will not endorse the practice of that which the Bible prohibits.

This is indeed a sad day for Bible-believing congregations which have remained in the PCUSA. The PCUSA has shown itself to be an apostate denomination, and it is time for local churches comprised of true believers to separate from it. May God give them the discernment and the courage to do so.

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