Monday, June 26, 2006

God and the Gays: A Time to Heal (Chapter 5)

Chapter Five


Are radical gay groups or militant organizations (like Queer Nation and Act-Up) helping to heal the breaches or throw salt in the wounds? Do they help homosexuals to be further reconciled or alienated? Are they accomplishing their goals and airing their grievances, or being contentious just for the sake of being contentious? Are they actually doing more harm than good? Defeating their avowed purpose or attaining their aims? Isn't it immature to blame the government for not making us feel better? Is it always "others" fault that we haven't discovered a cure for AIDS yet? Don't we have the ways and means to do something about it ourselves? How much does it cost to abstain or practice "safe-sex?" It's in our power to save lives. Every person who's had sex ought to get tested to prevent passing AIDS on and to enable yourself to start treatment immediately if you've been infected. To do otherwise isn't only selfish, it's evil. High-risk groups ought to stop and think about what they're doing. It's not so much a lack of education, but of character. Irresponsible behavior is the cause for so many of the effects we see or suffer daily. Don't allow sin to emaciate you or separate you from your loved ones (Prov. 5:11; Ps. 38:11). Nobody gets a second chance.

Damaging stereotypes must go. Calloused misrepresentation is an injustice. Hollywood will be held responsible for its productions. But then again, in all fairness, aren't the stereotypes reinforced with every passing "Gay Pride" parade? Isn't much of the damage self-inflicted? And all of the negative publicity produced, in large part, by members of the homosexual community (Isa. 3:9)?

A Time and a Place

Are you an exhibitionist? Do you always insist on exposing your sexual preference whether it's appropriate or not? Why force the issue? We don't have to hide, but neither should we always lay everything out in the open (Prov. 13:16). It's not good to glory in our gory days or push our preference (Ephes. 5:12). And instead of having a gutter mouth, let's try and be gracious for once (Ephes. 4:29).Develop discretion. Tact, wisdom and diplomacy are wonderful attributes of a true ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20). There is a time and a place for everything, but even then we should ensure we're speaking the truth in love; facts with feelings, considering the sensitivities of others (Prov. 29:11; Ephes. 4:15; 1 Cor. 10:32). If someone's not ready yet to hear you out, or capable of appreciating what you're saying – why make it more difficult for them (Jn. 16:12)? Just getting something off your chest isn't right if it's going to adversely affect others. We are to help bear one another's burdens, but ultimately we're on our own (Ga. 6:2, 5).

I know there are those who would object to my use of the term "gay" throughout this booklet. May they try and understand that this work's been written to address the issue of homosexuality, and therefore, "becoming all things to all men," I've chosen to speak in their language. I realize the adjective's been unjustly robbed of its former innocence, and I know that it's not the word God would use to describe homosexuals. God calls the practice an abomination, the lifestyle loathsome, and the desires detestable (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:24, 26). That's some pretty strong medicine, but we'd better take it (Rev. 3:19). If someone trys to sell you on some other idea (Ga. 1:8), don't buy it! Don't be fooled by smooth-talking salesmen or swallow their snake-oil (Ephes. 5:6; Rom. 16:18)!

Before you get all riled up, notice that the same "harsh" God considers incest as wicked, bestiality as confusion, and baptized paganism as abominable (Lev. 18:17, 23; Deut. 12:30-31). Two wrongs don't make a right, but I wanted to show we've all fallen short of the mark and have failed the test (Rom. 3:23). There isn't any teacher's pet! Jesus didn't just die for straight people, He bled to death for homosexuals as well. We've all nailed Him to the cross and we all need Him as our Savior.

A Sinful Savior?

Did Jesus engage in sexual activities? Have an active love life? What does the Bible actually say? Not only have those openly critical of Christ cast aspersions, but others have leveled serious charges claiming Him as one of their own. What about Mary Magdalene? Did He have a relationship with her? Or the apostle John - were they lovers? Could He have been a bisexual? Or was it just a close friendship? Did Jesus simply exemplify male-bonding in its purest form, like King David did with his best friend, Jonathan?

Jesus reply to His accusers: "I have kept my Father's commandments" (John 15:10). Those commandments include instructions against all immorality. If Jesus broke even one link of this gold chain, He wouldn't have only tarnished His good reputation, He would have disqualified Himself as our sinless Savior (1 John 3:5). But Jesus is our pure Passover Lamb (not Easter rabbit!), without any defect of character; accepted, approved, and received by Heaven.

Christ commands everyone, everywhere, to confess and forsake their sins (Acts 17:30; 1 John 1:9). We're to leave our sinful pasts behind and get out of compromising situations fast (1 Cor. 6:18). Don't be fooled: what you do will come back to you (Ga. 6:7)!

We're not free to flagrantly flout God's law (Jer. 7:8-10). We haven't been delivered to disobey, despite appeals for "liberty" (2 Pet. 2:19; Rom. 6:1-6). When God set our forefathers free from Egypt, it wasn't for the sake of freedom alone! We weren't left to just go our own way or do our own thing. No longer the slaves of men, we were to become the servants of God. We were expected to follow His clear-cut directions to make it to another land. A Land of Promise. A Sanctuary where we would be free to do as He instructed. God declared war on Egypt and took a slave-people to make them into His Servant-Nation!

Don't believe the popular fairy-tales of serpentine ministers (2 Tim. 4:3-4)! They're so confused they'd even accept brazen sinners and assure them everything's "kosher" (Jer. 23:14, 17), when it's clearly not. They're professing Christians, but their lewd lives contradict their claims (Titus 1:16; 1 John 2:4). Such pornographic priests had better heed God's Word and listen to His Law (Isa. 1:10). They're warned to stop justifying themselves and abusing God's grace (Jude 4).

Previous Lives & Experiences

God calls people from all walks of life and performs a miracle in their minds: they're offered a fresh perspective, given a new outlook, and enabled to try a different approach (Philip. 2:5). Their former "records" aren't held against them and they're started out with a new attitude and identity (2 Cor. 5:17). God lists a litany of former lifestyles His people once practiced, and ends by emphasizing: "And such were some of you..." (2 Cor. 6:9-11). He acknowledges, thereby, they've sinced cleaned up their act and stand apart from the rest. All made possible by their Advocate who's expunged their past, gives them room to grow, a chance to change, and every encouragement to lead new lives.

But those who've refused to change, don't even attempt to get up and get over it, and have given up trying - are nothing more than the living dead facing a bleak future (Rev. 21:8; Heb. 10:27). God doesn't accept cop outs or drop outs (Luke 14:18), but expects us to keep plugging away and stay in the race (1 Cor. 9:24; Philip. 3:14). We're to do whatever's necessary to hang on to God and let go of sin, invigorated by the cheering examples of those who've already crossed the finishing line (Heb. 11; 12:1).

Recovering homosexuals haven't denied who and what they are; they've owned up to it and now seek atonement. They've honestly admitted to themselves their problem, have sought help, and are struggling to overcome and improve. They've accepted Christ's command and challenge to "...go and sin no more" (John 8:11). They're not denying that they're horny, human, and homosexual. They haven't gone back into the "closet" - but they have gone back, time and again, into the "prayer closet" to find the necessary strength to withstand temptation and continue their conversion (Acts 13:43). Those flying accusations are nothing more than shrapnel from that lying snake and murderer of mankind (Rev. 12:10). And besides, everybody must "come out" from under Satan's influence, and avoid him like the plague (Rev. 18:4; 2 Cor. 6:17)!

Sodom and Gomorrha

There is HOPE for homosexuals! Jesus even blasted certain cities of His day as worse than Sodom and Gomorrha, and indicated they would've repented given half a chance. He did state their "day in court" would be better than those who had seen the Light and yet chose to remain in religious darkness (Mat. 10:15; 11:2-24). God condemns their spiritual preference as inexcusable. Their lust for man-made traditions was greater than their love for God's truth.

Are homosexuals alone branded as Sodomites? Was that Sodom and Gomorrha's only claim to fame? Actually their sins ranged from downright snobbery to a lack of compassion; full bank accounts but empty lives. Obviously there was a great divide between the rich and the poor, but they all shared sin in common (Ezek. 16:49-50).

Their "anything goes" attitude and "do your own thing" atmosphere, reveals how low you can go. Their descent into depravity was undoubtedly hailed as a new era of "understanding," and their tolerance level for perversion praised as being "open-minded." So open-minded their brains fell out! Yet their DESTRUCTION is intended to dramatize the end result of living the wrong way. That warning message isn't only directed towards homosexuals (2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7). God even refers to today's RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENT as "Sodom and Egypt..." - too PROUD AND STUBBORN to change (Rev. 11:8)! We're reminded that this affliction affects both young and old, high and low, rich and poor (Gen. 19:4, 11). Sin doesn't discriminate. Iniquity accepts all.

Regardless of our sexual orientation, we're to get as far away as possible from our old haunts and tired ways. We shouldn't look back upon those days (daze) with longing. Don't linger in the past or you'll forfeit your future (Gen. 19:15-17). God's prepared something far better for us: a sparkling City that's "out of this world," a wonderfully warm and loving Home, and a Country that really does care (Rev. 21:2). Jesus has promised to personally insure our part and parcel in God's Kingdom (John 14:1-2). He should be interested: He staked His life on us! Jesus became human so we could become divine (Heb. 2:10)! We're assured that even as we're presently human-beings, we're capable of becoming God-Beings (John 3:3-7; Ps. 82:6). These are bold claims and astonishing statements, but it's past time that you've been told the plain truth and given a fair chance to consider it (Luke 4:32; Isa. 52:15; John 16:29).

A Change For the Better

Only by a resurrection can our conversion be made complete; our miraculous transformation from matter to spirit, from mortal to immortal, from human to divine (1 Cor. 15:49-53). Could it be any other way? As members of the Royal Family of God it's only befitting that we should be glorified. The gospel - THE GOOD NEWS - of the Kingdom of God is a true rags to riches, dust to divinity story (Ps. 113:7-8)! Pardon the analogy, but would Cinderella have gone to her ball inappropriately dressed? Neither shall we be presented to Christ in any other manner: only the best will do (Rev. 19:8).

As prominent Priest-Kings, reigning with but under Christ (Rev. 5:10; Dan. 7:27), our clothing and appearance must be immaculate (Mat. 17:2; 1 Jn. 3:2). Understand, therefore, that even as we'll reside in splendor and rule in glory (Mat. 19:28; Rev. 3:21), so too must our very bodies become brilliant (Philip. 3:21); the last Trump heralds our change of clothing and composition (1 Cor. 15:52; 2 Cor. 5:1-5; Ps. 17:15). The resurrection invests us with this power and affords us this hope (Rev. 2:26; Acts 26:6-8)! If we're ever going to make it, we've got to keep this VISION of God's Kingdom-Family clear to us, careful not to let it dim or lose its luster (Prov. 29:18). It must become our driving force and motivation (Mat. 6:33).

Vision inspires motivation which encourages discipline. Some restrain themselves - not because of character, but fear of the consequences. That's a beginning, but God hopes we pass that starting point (Prov. 1:7). As we grow more spiritually mature, love is to gradually replace fear as our reason for obeying God (John 4:18).

Mindful of all that God's done for us, we're to develop an attitude of gratitude that expresses itself in loving obedience (Luke 7:47). This all-important love strengthens our resolve to do the right thing, to grace the Gospel, and compliment.the Kingdom (1 Thes. 2:12; Titus 2:10). Even this loving desire to fulfill God's Will is his gift (Rom. 2:4; 5:5). God initiates our relationship with Him, but we must continue it (John 6:44; 15:14). After our favorable response, God then supplies the strength of character, the courage of conviction, and an extraordinary will-power to secure our friendship as a lasting one (Philip. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:7).

Everyone Has Problems

The Christian life isn't exempt from the trials and tribulations that everyone experiences. the difference is that God promises to pull us through. If He doesn't deliver us from some circumstance or situation, He will help us to hold up. Remember: diamonds are nothing more than coal that's been put under a lot of pressure!

God will never forget or forsake us, and He'll never allow anything to come between us (Rom. 8:35-39). He promises to impart sufficient grace to enable us to survive whatever might come our way (2 Cor. 12:9; 1 Cor.10:13). All of these problems can help produce God's character in us and contribute considerably to our cause (1 Pet. 1:7).

When the weight of worldly cares start to get you down, and seems too overwhelming, don't get discouraged! Be encouraged to go to God for help. That's how recognizing your own weaknesses can become your strength. Once we accept that sometimes we'll have to go through "hell" before Heaven is established on earth, we'll be better prepared for the "unexpected" by knowing that there is a method to this madness and a purpose for this pain (2 Cor. 4:17).

Such an understanding helps us to put everything into perspective and enjoy a clearer focus, reassured that there is a happy ending to it all (Rom. 18:28; Ecc. 7:8). We don't always know what's going on or why God does (or doesn't do) this or that, but our faith comforts us that "Father knows best" and is in control of events that might appear out-of-control (John 13:7; Mat. 27:53); therefore, refuse to get upset with God's way of handling things or bother second-guessing Him (Mat.11:6).

One of the most difficult things to accept is God's apparent inaction. Especially when you're convinced of His ability to do something. We've just got to calm down and rest in the fact that He's obviously working out something that we can't see now, but will understand later.

Why didn't He set John the Baptist free? Wouldn't that have glorified God, revealing His power to over-rule the Romans? Instead He left him to "rot" in jail and later lose his head. Why didn't He save Lazarus from his terminal illness? Or come down off the cross? Faith and patience....

Make Up Your Mind

All these things are wonderful opportunities to confirm or deny our commitment to Christ. It's a chance to defy temptation and stand up for what's right - despite peer pressure (Mat. 10:32-33). We can make things easier or more difficult for ourselves. Either you're totally convinced God's way is right and worth living, or you're not sure and continually ride the fence and risk rupture; tormenting yourself and sending out conflicting signals and confusing signs (Mat. 6:24; 7:16). When you're at the crossroads it's either this way or that. You can't have it both ways (Rev. 3:15). You should've made up your mind at baptism.

Will you honor your decision or break your vows? For those who've chosen to follow the Noble Path, they can't afford to play with fire, flirt with death, or risk living on the edge (Jude 23; Zech. 3:2). They've got to learn to quickly say no to sin. "He who hesitates is lost." Then they must become "stuck in their ways." They know that it's now or never, do or die, and that nothing can compare to what God has in store for them (Heb. 11:25-26; Mat. 13:46).

God's fire will either purify or destroy you. The choice is yours. Will you become a great success or end up a miserable failure (Mal. 3:2)? You might as well lay your lust in the dust, because everything in this world's about to end and a new world begin; therefore, God expects us to take note and act accordingly (1 John 2:17; 2 Pet. 3:11). Just as God's got something in store for His saints, He's also reserved something for sinners (2 Pet. 3:7). Don't worry, everybody will get what's coming to them (Rev. 22:12).

Using Available Resources

Having a clear vision of God's Kingdom, and a sober view of things to come, we can overcome every obstacle in Christ (John 16:33). But how can we keep our head up when the whole world's falling down around us (Luke 21:28)? By realizing that we're that much closer to the time when God will pick up the pieces and start over (John 6:12; Acts 1:6). But how can we keep from "losing it" while we wait (Rev. 3:11)? By getting "baptized!" We're to be immersed in the Word and saturated by God's Spirit (Luke 3:16). That's the only way to be "in Christ." That's an atomic statement. It's not meant to be just an empty spiritual cliche. It's packed with POWER and ENERGY!

Our growth and development depends upon how often (and to what degree) we'll take advantage of our available resources (Mat. 13:23). Only we can hold ourselves down or back (1 Thes. 5:19).

We're authorized to exercise "veto power" over any illicit thought or action. We're to wield God's Spirit (Rom. 8:13), and learn to handle our Light-Saber like an expert (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 2:15). We're under orders to search and destroy (2 Cor. 13:5; Ga. 5:24), and follow our Leader wherever He might go (Rom. 8:14; 1 Pet. 2:21).

Jesus flesh and blood are our rations (John 6:47-63). God's Word can energize us and His Spirit sustain us - but it must become our daily bread. Are we utilizing what we've been given, investing our assets wisely, or are we just wasting our "time and money" (Isa. 55:2)? You've got to use it or you'll lose it (Luke 19:11-27)! We'll really need this celestial assistance to "walk on the waters," and not let our heart sink within us, if and whenever we hear rude remarks or callous comments by Christians - people we'd hope would understand our predicament and appreciate our efforts (Ps. 41:9).

God expects us to go out of our way, to forgive and forget, when we get burnt (Col. 3:13). He doesn't want us to fall into the trap of bickering back and forth (1 Pet. 3:9). We're to share scripture, not exchange cutting remarks (1 Cor. 14:26; Ps. 50:20)! As Satan seeks to divide and conquer, may he find unity in diversity instead (1 Cor. 12:12). Since we have such a high calling, let's not act beneath ourselves.

Growing Pains

Some Christians don't know how to deal with homosexuality. It's all new and frightening to them. That's understandable. But now they're under obligation to learn how to handle themselves when confronted with this issue. We're to be patient with them and pray that they'll be tolerant of us. We're not to force-feed them with "everything you never wanted to know about homosexuality!" They might get sick. Everybody grows at their own pace. Some "growing-pains" are to be expected along the way. We should accept and respect these facts of life and avoid sibling rivalry.

Meanwhile we can attempt to make the best of a bad situation (Rom. 12:18). Don't be judgmental, but be careful. Don't trip someone up or help them fall over their mental block (Rom. 14:13). This is the way of love: don't hold a grudge!

What about AIDS victims? Are they victims or did they knowingly endanger themselves? Should we befriend these social outcasts or leave them to lay in the bed they've made? What about compassion? Am I my brother's keeper? Can't I cry for the suffering sin causes (Jer. 9:1)? Don't these "lepers" need love? They're not necessarily any worse than others (Luke 13:1-5). Time and chance struck them down (Ecc. 9:11). They need our tender-loving prayers and care, not our cold-hearted stares. Besides, if everybody got sick who's sinned, we'd all be in intensive care! "Except for the grace of God, there go I" had better become our attitude. God showed His love toward us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8).

Masturbation: is it right or wrong? It's the lesser of two evils, but it's still evil. Didn't Jesus say that if you've lusted after someone you've already had "sex" with them? Sex is mental, not just physical. Isn't masturbation usually accompanied by explicit fantasies? What's the difference between them and dirty movies or smut magazines? Don't they all throw fuel on the fire? Doesn't it entice you to fulfill them? Doesn't it weaken your will, surrender your resolve, and screw-up your spiritual day? Isn't lust just like a drug: intoxicating and addictive? There's no "time-out" for a Christian. Ask God for help in this area and know you'll receive it. Learn to resist sin, not God.

Same Person, Different Perception

Homosexuality is here whether we like it or not. I've been all around the world and have see that it's everywhere. We can't just wish it away because it won't go. Pretending it doesn't exist isn't fooling anyone but yourself. We have to face up to the facts, regardless of how uncomfortable they might make us feel.

As stated in the "Family Network" section of "Better Homes and Gardens" (when they published my letter/Nov. '92 issue): Perhaps you're the parent or friend of a lesbian or gay. Don't faint if you have; just remember that nothing has changed about that person except your perception of him or her. Treat them according to their personality, not their sexuality. Maybe you'd deny that it could ever occur in your family or intrude into your circle of friends. Don't faint if it does. It's not the end of the world. The sun will still rise and life will go on. Maybe you're unsure of your own sexuality. This much is sure: everything that you've loved or enjoyed about their friendship or company remains the same. Don't get upset if they hadn't told you. Such anger would only warrant their fears of being "found-out." Maybe they didn't want to risk losing your friendship. Obviously it means a lot to them. Express your disapproval of their practice, if you must. But reject it - not them. Is that asking too much? Life's too short to allow misunderstandings to come between us. We're encouraged to be reasonable; not to engage in emotional debates or heated arguments (Isa. 1:18). Let's avoid such ringside distractions. Remain cool, calm and collect (2 Tim. 2:23-25). Build bridges, not walls. Make your point and drop it.

One Big Happy Family

So there, now you have it. What the Bible really says about homosexuality. I guess I've done something right since I get complaints from both sides: the Christian and gay communities. It just goes to show you can't please everybody! Some say I'm too harsh; others say I'm too lenient. May everybody at least glean something. Others are initially discouraged, but then become encouraged to make necessary changes in their lives (2 Chron. 7:8-11).

A few might even sniff, "I told you so." If so, they've missed the point. Those prejudiced preachers might deliver the same basic message, but their style and tone of voice isn't like the Father's (John 10:1-5). This little booklet's a "love-letter," not hate-mail! Not everyone who speaks the truth has the right attitude or motivation. "A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent." We're to help gather, not scatter; to encourage people to come to Christ, not dig in their heels; to make it easier, not more difficult to repent (Acts 16:16-18; Philip. 1:15-18).

"Only he deserves his life and freedom who conquer them anew every day" (Goethe). May we grow ever stronger and more deeply appreciate our deliverance, making sure we never take it for granted (Deut. 5:15). Caution can't be stressed enough. We've got to be so careful not to fall back into our old rut, going nowhere (Ga. 5:1). We can't afford a relapse into sin that would only put us into a tail-spin (John 5:14). We must be recovering homosexuals, getting better and gaining strength (2 Tim. 2:26).

It's a daily struggle

If Christ gave it all, His everything for this relationship, can't we at least sacrifice a little? Is sex really so important or worth dying for? I know it feels good, but it won't feel too good in the Lake of Fire! May your love for God become greater than your lust for men (Isa. 56:4-5).

The Jewish proverb that "all beginnings are hard" is true. But that old saying doesn't just state a fact, it offers us the hope that things will get better with time. They do. We just have to hang in there. Climb Jacob's Ladder one rung at a time. Don't give up on yourself when God hasn't! I know from personal experience how difficult it can be, but I also know it's well worth it. I wouldn't have given up John, my ex-lover, for God if I didn't believe in what I've written! I went through hell, at first, really wondering if there is an afterlife, a resurrection, if Jesus is the Christ, if homosexuality is incompatible with the scriptures; what if I was all wrong, how would I ever find such another lover, etc.? But I have survived - and grown stronger. I don't take my beliefs for granted, I know they're true!

Old habits and ways of thinking can be replaced. New habits and ways of doing things can become ingrained. The divine nature can begin to replace our human nature, because God can and does heal minds and bodies! He's familiar with broken hearts and unhappy lives, and can mend them (Mat. 11:28). We can be made whole in Christ. He wants us all to become "One Big Happy Family" - the Kingdom of God.

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