This week's thort is one that has been in my
head for a long time, but because we all got caught up in the relationship
thort and that morphed into a series, which I think was really
good and helpful and I know touched and challenged a lot of people,
I have put it on hold for a while. I want to encourage you to really
try and see what I am trying to say and then see if perhaps you
need to adjust or adopt your thorts or feelings or attitudes or
maybe even behaviour on the issue.
I think with a lot of us, there are a number of beliefs we have,
in various areas of our lives (not just spirituality/Christianity),
that we hold to because we've always known them rather than because
they are necessarily true. This can be quite dangerous as we can
be found to believe something just because our parents or teachers
or friends or church said so, and maybe some of those beliefs/understandings
can be found to be untrue and even harmful.
I think often the sign/indication that
you are involved in a cult or sect is if you are encouraged not
to think for yourself, but just to accept everything as you receive
it from those in the know. Yet the Bible clearly teaches us in
1 John 1 to "test the
spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets
have gone out in the world." 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 adds, "Do
not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.
Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."
Thus, I always try to encourage people, when it comes to 'Thort
for the Week' or your pastor's teaching or Christian books that
you read, always go back to the Word of God and see if it agrees
with that. And if it doesn't then let go of it and forget it because
the Word of God, the Bible, is meant to be the foundation of everything
that we accept and believe. Preachers are helpful and there are
a lot of really good Christian books out there and I really think
that God is using Thort for the Week as well to reach and challenge
a lot of people in a lot of different areas, but ALWAYS take it
back to the Word of God and check that it is legit, no matter who
is giving the message.
WHOSE PROBLEM IS IT ANYWAY?
One area where I think a lot of people have preconceived ideas
is in the area of homosexuality (which has been a topical issue
recently in the wider church) where you grow up (and I'm speaking
for myself here, but I'm sure a lot of people will identify) 'knowing'
that 'homosexuals can't be Christian' and that's 'just the way
it is' and they must 'turn from it to be saved' so that God can
'make them normal' or something like that.
But in the last little while, I've actually been thinking a lot
about that and I have kindova different stance or perspective on
the whole thing (and not AS different a stance as some of you are
now very worried I might have, so like I said, be open!) and I
want to share this with you as something to think about (hence
the term 'thort').
BEHAVE - BELIEVE - BELONG
So the question I asked myself is, 'Can a Christian be homosexual?'
and the answer is obviously 'No!'... BUT, having thort about it
a little bit, my thorts at the moment are that in one sense, a
Christian CAN be homosexual...
Now I'm dealing specifically with homosexuality as a sin because
I think that it is a topical issue in the church, but the points
that I am trying to get you to think about this week, relate to
all areas of sin and I am just using homosexuality as an example.
Another reason for using it is that so often the church has had
almost a separate stance when it comes to homosexuality that it
doesn't always have with other sin, as if it is far worse, or something!
So the thinking that goes along with the original question and
answer statement of 'Can a Christian be homosexual? No!' goes something
like this if played out to it's logical extreme:
Firstly you must stop being homosexual, then you must become a
Christian and then you can come to my church. [Behave - Believe
In that sense, using that equation/formula, you can never have
a Christian who is homosexual, which is what a lot of churches
and christians believe and live out.
BELONG - BELIEVE - BEHAVE?
In John 8, Jesus encounters this woman who has been caught in
the act of adultery and the Pharisees and teachers of the law try
to use her situation to trap Jesus by referring to the law of Moses
that commanded that the woman should be stoned.
How does Jesus react?
Firstly he turns the situation back on
the accusers by stating, "If
any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone." The
accusers gradually disappear and no-one is left accusing her.
What is Jesus' response to the woman?
Firstly, He forgives her sin (as the
only one justified by His own statement and having the right
to stone her if He chooses to) saying, "Woman, where are
they? Has no one condemned you?... then neither do I condemn
Then He sends her off with a command
related to her sin, "Go
now and leave your life of sin."
So in essence, how does He treat the woman?
Firstly, He lets her know that she belongs - He shows her love
and pity and compassion and refuses to join the crowd in making
a spectacle of her.
Secondly He makes a statement of faith, giving her something to
believe in. When He says that He does not condemn her, she has
to make a call on that in terms of who she sees Him as, as to whether
she will accept that or not and whether it's valid or not.
Lastly, He challenges her behaviour - "Go
now and leave your life of sin."
When it comes to homosexuality in particular (although as I said
before, this relates to all other sin) we as the church have too
often got it upside down. What is the homosexual person's greatest
need? To not be homosexual or to know Jesus? Obviously it is to
know Jesus, because He is the One who has the capacity to forgive
sins, of which homosexuality is one.
So when there is a homosexual person around, we as the body of
Christ, should be giving them a sense of belonging - showing them
love and compassion and treating them as Jesus would have. Then
we introduce them to Jesus (well actually in showing the love and
compassion we are doing that already) and at some stage they will
hopefully come to the point of believing...
At that point in the equation/formula the person is still a homosexual
hence my earlier statement of 'Homosexuals can be Christian'
Because THEN, once they are Christian, it is up to God (which
may mean through us because God works through people) to deal with
the sin of homosexuality. And that is when the behaviour is challenged
as Jesus says, 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'
[Please let's not enter into the debate of what exactly is homosexuality
and throw terms around like 'practising homosexual' and 'orientation'
and whether or not God made them that way or not... because there
is a lot of stuff I don't know or understand in that regard...
buthe bottom line for me is if you do not believe that God is able
to change any kind of person around or does not have the power
to heal/restore/rebuild whatever is needed in a person, then I'm
afraid we're talking about a different God. Let's please focus
on the issue at hand.]
WHAT AREN'T I SAYING?
So when I talk about a Christian being homosexual, I am saying
that it is up to God to deal with the sin of homosexuality (yes,
I believe it's a sin because the Bible clearly states it to be
such in a number of places and in the whole concept and pattern
and design of the male/female connection and marriage description)
- I am saying that a person who is a homosexual can become a Christian
before they stop being homosexual. I am not saying that it is okay
for that person to remain homosexual once they are a Christian.
As they grow and walk in their relationship with Jesus, I fully
believe that the Holy Spirit will target that and other sin in
their lives and lead them to repentence in terms of 'turning away
from' as they journey with Christ.
You know, sometimes this issue really gets me a little bit mad.
I think homosexuality is often an easy one to pinpoint because
it's usually so blatant or easily defined. So we can have special
opinions and even rules about whether or not a homosexual can do
this and that in our church.
What about the people in our church who gossip? Who talk destructively
behind other people's backs? Pull down the pastor and the leadership
because they are too scared to approach someone face to face and
voice their concerns? When do we put some special laws or rules
in place for them?
What about the guys on our leadership teams who blatantly are
involved in dodgy underhanded practices at work? Or who verbally
abuse their wives and kids? That's where I'd like to see some rules
in place. What about those who are dishonest? The lukewarm, going
through the motions of church but staying in a leadership position
because of the pride/fame/prestige/spirituality associated with
'Why do you look at the speck of sawdust
in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your
own eye? How can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when
all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first
take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly
to remove the speck from your brother's eye.' [Matthew 7:3-5] "Do
not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge
others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will
be measured to you." [1-2]
I think a more apt question to pose than this week's subject line
is 'What does God think about the people that think the things
they do about homosexuality?' and I bet if God was human, there'd
be a lot of shaking His head and sighing as He watched us live
it out. It is not our job to save the world from homosexuality
or to burn down abortion clinics or keep our distance from those
who have gone through divorce or who are involved in questionable
sexual practices and so on... Our job is to love God (with all
our heart, mind, soul and strength) and to love people, and in
so doing to introduce people to God so that HE can save them from
their hurt and pain and sin and destructive practices and loneliness
Take a look at your life and the people in and around your immediate
world and see if there is any place where the principle of BELONG
- BELIEVE - BEHAVE needs to apply. Apply it!