Wrestling

So, this blog may be premature, or perhaps the beginning of a series, but I want to share my process through this struggle I am in. I have been really affected by the issues that have erupted since the Chick-fil-A owner made his statement that he was for the traditional definition of marriage…a statement that was already openly being made by his choice to give to organizations that support those beliefs. Many on both sides of the issue had a lot to say. Personally, my husband stated on Facebook that he was going to Chick-fil-A on their appreciation day, and I was surprised at the 40+ comments that ranged from rational (whether I agreed or not) to quite ridiculous.

The good thing that came out of it for me was that I found a couple of people I could have a humble, loving conversation with…and these conversations are with people who do not stand on the same side of this issue as I do. I’m really thankful and excited about what will come from finding out what they believe and why they believe it. I am most thankful and excited to find out (hopefully) how I can have a stance that is true to my convictions, but also not hurtful to others.

This blog/book (haha) is really meant for Christians who are struggling with how to feel, where to stand, on this issue. I will try to keep these points short, and keep in mind that as I write them, they are points to go back to and think through. They are not conclusions. They are things that have come up in articles and conversations and Scripture that I am thinking and praying through. If you choose to give feedback to this blog, please only do so if you are also in a seeking, humble, and prayerful attitude. This is what I’m wrestling with:

1) For those of us that still view homosexuality as a sin, it’s important that not just in our words but in our hearts, we know that it is not a greater sin than anything else. When Jennifer Knapp came out two years ago, stating she was a gay Christian, I wrote her off. But what if she had come out saying she got a divorce and remarried? I doubt that would keep me from her concerts. But Jesus Himself had something to say about getting divorced (except under certain circumstances) and remarried, and it was not what we would want to hear. He condemned it. He said that’s adultery, in red letters. Ouch. Why are we quicker to condemn certain things than others?

2) Our motives matter. Are Christians who think homosexuality is a sin taking that stance because of personal prejudice? Hear me out. There is a stigma. Some guys who are gay act differently, and I think some of us are embarrassed by it. It makes me uncomfortable to see lesbians kiss. It’s got a serious shock factor to me. We don’t like it. Are we sure that we don’t like it simply because we believe God calls it a sin?

3) In other areas we consider sin, we tend to separate the people from the behavior. Even a hardened criminal who plans to go back out and steal again after he gets out of prison, we will show love and compassion to. We might even form a relationship in hopes of bringing him to Christ. We see this person as more than just a sinner. We might invite them into our home for dinner, but would we do the same for a gay couple? I don’t know what I would do, and I’m uncomfortable with my own point, because I have kids and I do not want to bring this issue to the light right now. But I must continue wrestling. With gays, some of us tend to think of them as if all they are is their sexual status…That in itself is sometimes enough to make us think, “There’s no way I have common ground with you.” (Please don’t twist this point to think I’m saying homosexuality is a crime.)

4) There are Christians who believe homosexuality is wrong based on Scripture, but that a homosexual relationship that is committed and monogamous is not wrong. In what I’ve read, there are several reasons. But the three that stick out to me, and again, this is just me, you can research for yourself because I’m not covering it all and may not be doing their points justice, are:

a. They state that we are no longer under the law but are free in Christ to just love. As long as what you do is loving (I’m assuming they mean 1 Cor. 13 definition of love), that is your only law.

b. They state that we can’t pick and choose which laws we’re going to live by. If women are going to be allowed to speak in church, and if it’s cool with God to get a tattoo (both spoken against in the Bible), or even that killing someone in self defense is not a sin, then we have to consider that there are laws that were cultural, meant something different than what we assume, or meant to be eventually amended. And they say that when homosexual actions were spoken against as a bad thing, they were talking about extramarital or even men with youth, not committed, monogamous relationships. The bottom line about this point is that if some laws from the Bible have been changed, ignored, labeled “cultural”, etc, then why can’t the Biblical stance on homosexuality get the same treatment?

c. They state that many people have gender anomalies. They didn’t state any percentage of this in the main article I read. Because of this, they state that since God didn’t make everyone 100% male OR female, that gender shouldn’t be the point in marriage, instead, for Christians, finding someone you can serve God and bear fruit together with should be the point in marriage. This is just one guy’s opinion, and you can find it under Justin’s View at gaychristian.net. I found his article to be extremely well written and we had common ground, at least in that he really knew the Word of God. While I don’t agree at this time with his interpretation of these points (a, b, or c) it was something to ponder and pray through.

5) There were a lot of people saying Chick-fil-A’s money was going to organizations doing hateful things. I looked these orgs up, and am still researching,  but so far all I’m seeing is groups investing in the family unit and reaching out to homosexuals who want to consider a life change, because some of these orgs believe that same-sex attraction is something that can be cured. I do see how that is offensive to homosexuals, but I am not sure that it’s hateful. If nothing else, they could say these organizations are wrong or ignorant in their belief that same-sex attraction can be cured, but I still am not seeing how it’s hurtful. These orgs are guilty of lobbying to keep marriage, by law, between a man and a woman.  There are plenty of orgs lobbying to change the law, too. I think this is just how law making and law changing happens…No one on either side is wrong for adding their 2 cents to our democracy. The wrestle in this for me is: I care about how homosexuals feel. That’s not enough for me to back down on this issue, but I sympathize, and I don’t know how to show it. If I wanted a law to change to benefit me, I’d be mad at the people opposing it, too.

6)Another point about CFA: I don’t understand it, but those of us who went to CFA on Aug. 1st thought we were standing for free speech and casting our vote publicly, saying, “Yes, we agree that we want marriage to stay between a man and woman, and we don’t think it’s fair that Cathy’s business is being discriminated against by the mayors of 3 prominent cities.” I truly think that’s what most people showed up to say. However, it was viewed as something ugly, even by some Christians who agree with Cathy, they just felt like it was uncalled for, rubbing our beliefs in homosexuals’ faces, kinda just snarky. I consider it unwise to assume we know everyone’s motives for doing something! But on the other hand, communication is a two way street, and the “communication” on Aug. 1st was received differently than it was sent out. I don’t blame anyone on either side, just commenting and mulling over it all.

7) So…we’re a democracy. Not a Theocracy. We say we’re one nation under God. I wonder exactly what this means to most Americans. Are we a Christian nation? Is that in the same way that Iraq is a Muslim nation (where both the government and the majority of the people themselves are Muslims)? Do we really want the beliefs of one group controlling the laws of everyone? My point that I’m wrestling with is: Should we even expect our nation to use the Bible as a moral and law making standard? Especially if most of the people that make up our nation are not Bible-believing Christians, why do we expect it? I saw we should make our voice clear about what we want the laws to be, but know as nominal Christianity grows, the breakdown of what we believe being the generally accepted norm will also grow.  Is this what the separation of church and state is all about? More wrestling.

8) In the New Testament, Paul brings up church discipline. He says if someone IN the church is in sin, you are to try to restore them back to the truth…there’s a whole series, in order, of what to do in these cases. We’ve all been there…in sin, in need of someone to turn us around, an intervention if you will. Shying away from this doesn’t help anyone grow in their faith, it only brings confusion and more sin and therefore more distance between us and God. But the use of church discipline (either done in the correct way or not) has brought such offense and division, and people leaving the church and never going back. They may still claim to cling to Christ, but not His church. I’m saddened by this, but I’m not sure that means we are to throw it out!? I’m stuck on this–What if that believer “in sin” has reasons (such as the ones stated in #4) why they believe their actions are not sinful? What if they say the Lord has not convicted them and they genuinely do not believe they are in willful sin? This really is the situation right now, and I’m wrestling with what to do. Nobody likes calling out habitual and willful sin in each other’s lives (and if you do, you are NOT the one who should be doing the discipline!), and some sins are more grey/debatable than others, but even with these two hinderances to following Paul’s commands to the church for discipline and separation, Christians have to figure out what to do with it.

9) Ever seen The Princess Bride? If you’ve seen it as many times as I have, you’ll remember this line, in that great Inego Montoya accent: “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”And I’m talking about LOVE. Love isn’t just being nice. It also isn’t JUST being patient, kind, forgiving, gentle, etc. It IS those things, but it’s more. Jesus showed love in several ways in the passage about the woman found in sin who was about to be stoned to death. He told the crowd to stop being judgmental and only throw a stone if you were perfect yourself. That was a loving chastisement for the crowd, it spoke volumes of truth to them and to me. And it was loving for the woman as well, in the form of protection for her life! But also He showed love by saying to her, “Go, and leave your life of sin.” He called it what it was, and He forgave her, and He told her to not go back into it again. Love is more than just being sweet and keeping the peace. Jesus is the most offensive person I’ve ever met. He rubs me the wrong way in so much of what He said. If people are going to say Christ’s message is all about love and acceptance, I recommend some reading…The Jesus I know died for my forgiveness from sin, not so I have freedom to continue in it. But, at the same time, I am still wrestling with how to lovingly confront someone who will most definitely be hurt and offended by my view of their choices. I don’t think telling someone how to live their life is the definition of love, by any means…but I do think its loving when someone points me to truth and gets me out of what God says is a pit.

10) Short but important point: I am not wrestling with this. Same-sex attraction in itself is no more of a sin than me feeling an attraction to someone who is not my husband. This is what the Bible calls the flesh, and we are commanded to crucify it.

11) So, if you are a person who believes that the Bible is supposed to at the least be a Christian’s moral standard, you might be wrestling with me about this…The issue of “the Law” in itself. While we do not enter God’s family through perfectly keeping the law, thank God, He did give us the laws for certain purposes. Some of the purposes were for the Israelites to be kept separate from surrounding peoples. Some of the purposes were for the health and well-being of people, giving wisdom and discernment.  Paul’s words were for the church, trying to keep people’s eyes on the prize of holiness and good community and perseverance. How DO we know which laws are unchangeable or up for interpretation? My ministry is to speak/sing in churches…but Paul says women should be silent. I was pretty offended when a student in my Bible class in college wanted to “go there.” Was I wrong to shut that down so quickly? While we aren’t saved by the law, and while we don’t have to keep it in order to get into Heaven, because obviously all of us haven’t kept it, if God gave it maybe we should be calling ALL of it standards for living (not enforcing on everyone, but I mean, in the Christian community.) I am open to this. Paul said basically, “Don’t tell people they have to follow the law of being circumcised in order to be a Christ follower, because that would negate everything we believe about it being Jesus’s blood that makes you a Christ follower.” But we aren’t talking about salvation being gained through the law…we’re talking about finding out why God’s (what I believe to be perfect) Word has commands and rules in it that we just aren’t interested in keeping to a T, and others we are.

Whoa. That was long. But I may be able to sleep a little better having all that out of my head. I am positive that this blog only uncovered my massive ignorance of so many topics, but I hope that there are nuggets in there that you will consider along with me. Also, the reason I don’t state specific Scriptures throughout this blog and most others that I write, is because my points are not drawing out one-time commands (except the women speaking in church example). You should be able to find the things that I said, or at least the point behind them, in the Bible in multiple places.

If we are in Christ, we have the Holy Spirit to bring wisdom and conviction. I am humbled by this discussion, because I have thought too many times that things were more black and white than perhaps they really are. Again, this “processing” was meant for believers who are wrestling with how to feel and where to stand…I hope my rambling brings some good.

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