Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Insanity of Overcoming


The world is becoming a crazy place.

Would you agree with that?

I know that many – both within Christ's body and out – point to other times in human history when things have seemed insane, bleak, and near the end. Those among us who see an End coming soon aren't the first to believe that Jesus or some other religious figure is about to appear and make some grand change in the world. And it's because so many before have believed themselves to be in the End Times that many Christians and non-Christians today easily discount any idea that we are now getting close to the end of this world. "People were ridiculously wrong before," they say, "and we'd be ridiculously wrong to believe it's almost the end today."

Years ago, I used to believe the same thing. There have always been incredibly devastating wars, famines, environmental disasters, political and religious tyrannies, and other kinds of widespread suffering, somewhere on the planet. Some – like Herod's slaughter of the young boys of Bethlehem, trying to kill the young Jesus – affected "only" a few hundred (as if "only" a few hundred is not just as devastating to those affected). Others, like the Black Death, affected more than 100 million. But something changed a bit more than a hundred years ago.

Within a few decades, the world saw a huge surge in the size and intensity of the crazy, bad things of the world. Before the modern industrial era, the old terrors of war, famine, disaster, tyranny, and suffering were something that most often affect hundreds, thousands, and occasionally hundreds of thousands and once in awhile millions. With our modern age, however, such terrors and sufferings now regularly and easily affects millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions, and even billions of people, all around the world.

And many people lose their faith, in the face of such horrible happenings. In just the first part of the 20th century, for example, how many Christians and Jews lost their faith, for example, just in war and in the consequences of war:
  • Colonialism (50 million soldiers and civilians dead)
  • Imperialism in World War I (16 million soldiers and civilians dead)
  • Fascism in World War II (62 million to 78 million soldiers and civilians dead, and 11 million to 17 million dead in the Holocaust, including Jews, Gays, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and more)
  • Communism, just under Stalin (43 million to 60 million dead), Mao (38 million to 78 million dead), and Pol Pot (2 million dead)
Today, we live in a world where these 200 to 300 million 20th century war deaths could easily seem like a drop in the bucket, in comparison to what could, does, and will still happen. Today we live in a world where nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and biological weapons have been perfected to such efficiency that a single "strike" (or mistake) by government, terrorist group, or individual could literally wipe out billions of people, in a very short time.

Dreadfully, we are forced to rely on the same sinful human nature that caused all the previous horrors in human history to spare us from the even greater horrors, to come.

Scary. Very scary.

But to not look at the reality of these things is a selfish act. Our hearts should break in compassion for those suffering under the evils of this world. To not look, is to not see Jesus in every suffering face.

But to look at the reality of these things is to risk being overwhelmed with fear, emotionally and even spiritually devastated by a problem too large to even imagine, much less fix. To look at what's really happening even now all over the world is to see the real world and its pain as the Ancient of Days does – as Jesus Christ does. Our puny, little human hearts alone just can't do it.

Many of us, then, turn quite rightly to Jesus, and to the Bible, for comfort and for answers. Yet too often our human religious traditions have ingrained in us orthodoxies of belief that are the height of human intellectual reasoning, but which leave not even a pinhole through which the Holy Spirit can infill and move us.
  • We believe ourselves at peace with God, simply because we have ignored our own and others' suffering and unhappiness.
  • We have convinced ourselves that God's purpose is fulfilled in our individual and family happiness in this world, and that He will remove us from this world before the really bad stuff begins.
  • We praise His Name while we cling to human doctrines like the "Left Behind" fiction series, happy to know that at least those we know and love will be saved, and leaving behind God's Gospel work for everyone else to God.
Now, I am not arguing for or against any particular tribulation "doctrine." I believe that no human doctrine will ever hold the whole truth, because only One is perfect, and that One includes none of us (those who believe otherwise have troubles beyond what can be shared here).

However, because no human being, and no human understanding, is ever perfect, I invite you to keep an open heart on this matter – one waiting on the Holy Spirit to teach and guide and reveal as He moves, even when that runs counter to what you've always been taught (or taught yourself) to believe.

Why is that important?

Because, as the crazy things continue to get worse and worse, if you only believe you will be raptured before you reach the end of your endurance, where will your faith be when your endurance fails?

If you only believe that God will allow only good things in your life, where will your faith be when you and untold others around you suffer bad things like you could never have even imagined before?

And finally, if you only believe that God will spare you great pain because He loves you, then where will your faith be when – as for so many hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people before you – He does not?

This is what our sister in Christ, evangelist and Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom, had to say about all this in 1974:
The world is deathly ill. It is dying. The Great Physician has already signed the death certificate. Yet there is still a great work for Christians to do. They are to be streams of living water, channels of mercy to those who are still in the world. It is possible for them to do this because they are overcomers.

Christians are ambassadors for Christ. They are representatives from Heaven to this dying world. And because of our presence here, things will change.

My sister, Betsy, and I were in the Nazi concentration camp at Ravensbruck because we committed the crime of loving Jews. Seven hundred of us from Holland, France, Russia, Poland and Belgium were herded into a room built for two hundred. As far as I knew, Betsy and I were the only two representatives of Heaven in that room.

We may have been the Lord's only representatives in that place of hatred, yet because of our presence there, things changed. Jesus said, "In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." We too, are to be overcomers – bringing the light of Jesus into a world filled with darkness and hate.

Sometimes I get frightened as I read the Bible, and as I look in this world and see all of the tribulation and persecution promised by the Bible coming true. Now I can tell you, though, if you too are afraid, that I have just read the last pages. I can now come to shouting "Hallelujah! Hallelujah!" for I have found where it is written that Jesus said,

"He that overcometh shall inherit all things:
and I will be His God,
and he shall be My son."

This is the future and hope of this world. Not that the world will survive – but that we shall be overcomers in the midst of a dying world.

Betsy and I, in the concentration camp, prayed that God would heal Betsy who was so weak and sick. "Yes, the Lord will heal me," Betsy said with confidence. She died the next day and I could not understand it. They laid her thin body on the concrete floor along with all the other corpses of the women who died that day.

It was hard for me to understand, to believe that God had a purpose for all that. Yet because of Betsy's death, today I am traveling all over the world telling people about Jesus.

There are some among us teaching there will be no tribulation, that the Christians will be able to escape all this. These are the false teachers that Jesus was warning us to expect in the latter days. Most of them have little knowledge of what is already going on across the world. I have been in countries where the saints are already suffering terrible persecution.

In China, the Christians were told, "Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated – raptured." Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly,

"We have failed.
We should have made the people strong for persecution,
rather than telling them Jesus would come first.
Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution,
how to stand when the tribulation comes,
– to stand and not faint."

I feel I have a divine mandate to go and tell the people of this world that it is possible to be strong in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across the world has already entered into the tribulation. There is no way to escape it.

We are next.

Since I have already gone through prison for Jesus' sake, and since I met the Bishop in China, now every time I read a good Bible text I think, "Hey, I can use that in the time of tribulation." Then I write it down and learn it by heart.

When I was in the concentration camp, a camp where only twenty percent of the women came out alive, we tried to cheer each other up by saying, "Nothing could be any worse than today." But we would find the next day was even worse. During this time a Bible verse that I had committed to memory gave me great hope and joy.

"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye;
for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you;
on their part evil is spoken of,
but on your part He is glorified."
(I Peter 3:14)

I found myself saying, "Hallelujah! Because I am suffering, Jesus is glorified!"

In America, the churches sing, "Let the congregation escape tribulation", but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. This last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.

Several years ago I was in Africa in a nation where a new government had come into power. The first night I was there some of the Christians were commanded to come to the police station to register. When they arrived they were arrested and that same night they were executed. The next day the same thing happened with other Christians. The third day it was the same. All the Christians in the district were being systematically murdered.

The fourth day I was to speak in a little church. The people came, but they were filled with fear and tension. All during the service they were looking at each other, their eyes asking, "Will this one I am sitting beside be the next one killed? Will I be the next one?"

The room was hot and stuffy with insects that came through the screenless windows and swirled around the naked bulbs over the bare wooden benches. I told them a story out of my childhood.

"When I was a little girl, " I said, "I went to my father and said, 'Daddy, I am afraid that I will never be strong enough to be a martyr for Jesus Christ.'"
"Tell me," said Father, "When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?"
"No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train."
"That is right," my father said, "and so it is with God's strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength to be a martyr for Jesus Christ. He will supply all you need – just in time…"

My African friends were nodding and smiling. Suddenly a spirit of joy descended upon that church and the people began singing,

" In the sweet, by and by,
we shall meet on that beautiful shore."

Later that week, half the congregation of that church was executed. I heard later that the other half was killed some months ago.

But I must tell you something. I was so happy that the Lord used me to encourage these people, for unlike many of their leaders, I had the word of God. I had been to the Bible and discovered that Jesus said He had not only overcome the world, but to all those who remained faithful to the end, He would give a crown of life.

How can we get ready for the persecution?

First we need to feed on the Word of God, digest it, make it a part of our being. This will mean disciplined Bible study each day as we not only memorize long passages of scripture, but put the principles to work in our lives.

Next we need to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Not just the Jesus of yesterday, the Jesus of History, but the life-changing Jesus of today who is still alive and sitting at the right hand of God.

We must be filled with the Holy Spirit. This is no optional command of the Bible, it is absolutely necessary. Those earthly disciples could never have stood up under the persecution of the Jews and Romans had they not waited for Pentecost. Each of us needs our own personal Pentecost, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will never be able to stand in the tribulation without it.

In the coming persecution we must be ready to help each other and encourage each other. But we must not wait until the tribulation comes before starting. The fruit of the Spirit should be the dominant force of every Christian's life.

Many are fearful of the coming tribulation, they want to run. I, too, am a little bit afraid when I think that after all my eighty years, including the horrible Nazi concentration camp, that I might have to go through the tribulation also. But then I read the Bible and I am glad.

When I am weak, then I shall be strong, the Bible says. Betsy and I were prisoners for the Lord, we were so weak, but we got power because the Holy Spirit was on us. That mighty inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit helped us through. No, you will not be strong in yourself when the tribulation comes. Rather, you will be strong in the power of Him who will not forsake you. For seventy-six years I have known the Lord Jesus and not once has He ever left me, or let me down.

"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him", (Job 13:15)
for I know that to all who overcome, He shall give the crown of life. Hallelujah!"

- Corrie Ten Boom – 1974
Amen, dear sister Corrie! Amen!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Q: "If it's ok to be Gay, it's still wrong to have Gay sex, right?"

This is an argument put out by those who push the whole "celibate Gay" idea.
 
It's supposed to be a more "enlightened" and even "compassionate" way of dealing with Gay people -- admitting, for example, that we are indeed "born this way" and aren't making a conscious, willful choice to be Gay, but still "saving" us from our "bad inclinations".

Some even say that being Gay is like being an alcoholic -- somehow not our "fault", and something we'll have to "struggle" against all our lives, but still something we have to "stop acting on".

Unfortunately for the Gay people who fall for this idea, it's simply false, all the way around. And despite the good intentions (one hopes) of those who push this idea, it's still intensely damaging to Gay people -- just in a more subtle (and therefore perhaps even worse) way.

Let's look at all this more closely.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "Thou shalt not be Gay" 

In fact, the Bible just doesn't mention Gay people very often at all, as compared to straight people.
Now, some use that to "prove" that God doesn't care for or approve of Gay people -- that we aren't somehow considered part of His "norm". But think about that: the Bible doesn't talk about women or Gentiles as often, either. And it doesn't mention many other cultural and tribal groups (like the Native Americans, for example, or the Indonesians) at all. In fact, most of the Bible is only talking about the lives and doings of ancient straight Hebrew/Jewish men.

Does that mean that modern people, women, Gentiles, Gay people, Native Americans, Indonesians, and any other kind of people not specifically talked about (or talked about a lot) in the Bible aren't part of God's "norm" or His plan? Or that we only have some kind of "secondary" or "lesser" role to play?

Ridiculous! And NOT supported in Scripture, as GOD gave it to us in its original languages and contexts. Yet it's certainly an idea that unrepentant human hearts would invent to set themselves above others, and made worse because they act as if it's all the Lord's idea!

But you see, most of what's described in the Bible is not a glory-story about a certain kind of human being. Instead, it's a long, repetitious tale of wickedness, of God-rejection pretending to be God-living, of self-centeredness and greed and lust and murder and oppression, all meant to illustrate for all the world that no human being (even among the spiritual, economic, and political "elite") saves even himself, much less anyone else. 

God's purpose in the Bible is to show us how to get and stay right with Him. And that most often involves NOT living and thinking like most of the straight Hebrew/Jewish men described in the His Word -- nearly all of whom were considered (by themselves if not also others) to be God's spiritual "elite", yet who were continually guilty of, among other things:
  1. worshiping other gods;
  2. combining God-worship with pagan worship;
  3. pretending to love and live for God while loving and living first and foremost for themselves;
  4. willful disobedience of God's direct commands;
  5. being disrespectful to and abusive towards God and neighbor;
  6. ripping off and economically abusing their neighbors;
  7. pretending to follow God's law but re-inventing His meaning, adding to His commands, and ignoring what they didn't want to hear;
  8. murdering those who spoke God's truth, those who had what they wanted, those who were vulnerable to them in some way, and just those they didn't like;
  9. having sex with each others' wives and their own family members;
  10. having sex with and making their wives sleep with animals;
  11. rape (of both men and women);
  12. burning their own children alive for (hoped for) material gains;
  13. making war for profit;
  14. political intrigue;
  15. bearing false witness against and lying to others;
  16. obsessing after material wealth, control of others, and worldly "success"...
...And so on and so forth until one has to wonder about people who use a few isolated scriptures to supposedly "prove" how "evil" Gay people are – but then completely ignore the thousands upon thousands of scriptures that by the same ridiculous logic would "prove" how much more evil straight people are!

The point of the Bible is to help us see how much we need God – NOT to get us to reverence a certain kind of human being over another.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, "Thou shalt not have Gay sex" 

There are a few passages that, when interpreted falsely, or twisted completely out of context, or just plain re-written, make it "appear" as if Gay sex is condemned. 

But there just aren't any real passages (meaning, passages as GOD gave them to us) that condemn Gay sex (or straight sex) per se. 

Does that mean "Anything goes"? Absolutely not! See, the Bible does have condemnations of sex – but only when that sexual activity is tainted by lust, or by idolatry, or by both. 

Think about it this way, through this short, imaginary exchange:
Are strawberries bad?
No, of course not.
How about chocolate covered strawberries?
No.
Maybe white-chocolate covered strawberries?
Nope, nothing wrong with any of that.
Well, what about if someone becomes so obsessed with strawberries that they can only eat, think, and breathe strawberries all the time, so that things start to go wrong with their physical, emotional, and even spiritual health? Or what if someone becomes obsessed with NOT eating strawberries, so that they spend their lives in fearful avoidance of any situation that might even mention strawberries?
Or, what about if someone is actually allergic to strawberries, but they keep eating them anyway because it's "cool" and "empowering" to be a "rebel" and do things they aren't supposed to do?
Or, what about if someone uses strawberries to hurt people -- throwing and even mashing them all over people to ruin their clothes and humiliate them, just because it makes the person feel good to cause other people emotional and even physical pain?
Or, what about if someone starts to use strawberries as part of their religious worship, setting strawberries up on alters, praying to and bowing down to them?

I think we would ALL agree that these last four things are all VERY wrong.

But I don't think any of us would say the answer or "fix" for any of these things is to rid the world of one or more kinds of strawberries!

Yet that's what some people do with sex -- and what even more people do with Gay sex. 

They are like people who like strawberries, but don't like chocolate-covered strawberries. And in response to their particular "produce orientation", most people would just say, "Then don't have chocolate-covered strawberries!"

But these strawberry-only folks believe people are only right when they are just like themselves -- even though nothing in God's creation really says anything even close to that. So they invent political and religious movements to convince the world that those who like chocolate-covered strawberries are "perverse", "unnatural", and even "evil". And they even invent medical and psychological "therapies" that claim to "heal" people who like chocolate-covered strawberries and make them "strawberry-only" people, instead.

Truly, if such people weren't causing such horrendous and completely irresponsible spiritual, emotional, and even physical damage to the "chocolate-strawberry" people of the world, we'd just write them off as people with a silly, self-centered, control-freak problem!

But then there's the other side -- the side of people that can be perverse, unnatural, and evil:
  • Some people – both straight and Gaydo become obsessed with sex, so that sex is all they can think about, and all they live for (some people have the same problem, but express it in being obsessive about not having sex -- but it's still sexual obsession). And it's not a surprise when their physical, emotional, and spiritual health suffers. Sex and the pursuit of sex becomes their main identity.

  • And there are other people – again, both straight and Gay – who willfully engage in sexual acts that are counter to their natural sexual orientation because they feel "good" by intentionally being "bad" – even though it hurts or dishonors them now and in the future. These people may also do drugs, rape (men, women, and even children), participate in pornography, and break the law, all just for the "thrill" of doing things "counter" to what's "normal" or "acceptable" to decent society. Living evil becomes their main identity.

  • And finally there are some people – once again both straight and Gay – who make sex a part of their "magic" spirituality, just as the pagans did thousands of years ago. Being more "powerful", "wise", "wealthy", and so on through using supernatural means becomes their main identity.

And obviously none of these ways of being are ok. To be spiritually, emotionally, and physically healthy, our main identity must be in Jesus Christ – and not in what feels good to do or not do with our bodies, or in what pleases our worst sin-nature, or in what gratifies our desire to control and acquire in the material world.

But again, here's the important point: in all these sinful ways of being, sex itself is no more the "bad guy" than strawberries were in our imaginary example.

Rather, it's what we DO with sex, how we understand it within the larger context of our lives and God-created human nature, and whether we control our (sexual and other) desires or they control us, that truly matters. 

Everywhere in the Bible it says you are responsible to God -- to produce good fruit for Him in the field He's assigned you to work 

Neither Paul nor anyone else in the Bible ever wrote to condemn Gay people living full, whole, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and yes, even sexually healthy Gay lives. The shackles that other sinful human beings want to burden us with belong to those other human beings – not to God.

But all people – straight and Gay alike – are responsible to conform every part of our lives to God's way – including our sexual lives. Nothing in the Bible says, "The rules against adultery, fornication, and so on only apply to straight people." And – despite what some Gay and Gay-friendly straight people may argue - the sinful and anti-Holy-Spirit exclusion of Gay Christians from so many straight "churches" and fellowships does NOT excuse us from living godly lives.

So, what does all this mean?

It means that every ideal put forward in God's Word is to be our ideal – whether we are straight or Gay; male or female or intersexed; masculine or feminine or inter-gendered; of any racial identity; of any cultural identity; of any tribal identity. GOD's ideals are truly to be OUR ideals! [Matthew 5:48]

And among those ideals are:
  1. Recognize that since Pentecost, God no longer lives in places built by human beings, but within our bodies. Therefore, honor God with how you use and treat your body [Acts 17:24-25; 1 Corinthians 6:17-20]

  2. If you are truly called to live a single life, then live your life in a joyful, celibate manner, giving the time and energies you would otherwise spend on family to showing other people the Gospel, helping the needy, and so on [Matthew 19:11-12; Luke 2:36-37; 1 Corinthians 7:32-35]. However, keep in mind that simply being so emotionally unhealthy that you are afraid of getting involved with others, or avoiding intimacy because "the church" says you "have" to, are NOT the same as truly being called to a single life (instead, those things mean you're being called to find emotional and spiritual healing and growth!).

  3. If you believe you are called to a single, celibate life, but are continually "pestered" by sexual desires that lead (or seriously might lead) you beyond your self-control, then prayerfully and seriously consider that God may not have given you the gift of celibacy after all. In that case, it would be more pleasing to God for you to be in a committed, sexual relationship than to "burn with passion". [1 Corinthians 7:7-9]

  4. If you are in a committed relationship, take it as seriously as God does! Stick with it, share yourselves with each other because you belong to your partner just as s/he belongs to you. Don't sexually deprive one another except for short periods of time when you've both decided to give yourself to extra work for the Lord [Matthew 5:32; Romans 7:2; 1 Corinthians 7:3-5, 10-16]
And finally, whatever the life-circumstances you find yourself in, work the mission-field God's assigned to you. Being single or married, straight or Gay, Jew or Gentile – none of those things means anything towards what really counts (though there are plenty of confused and falsely-religious people who want to waste your spiritual time and energy worrying over them!)

No matter who you are, or what God's created you to be, what really counts is keeping God's commands, ministering to and evangelizing those around you, and being filled (and remaining filled) with God's Holy Spirit! [Acts 10:1-11:18, 15:1-31; 1 Corinthians 7:17-40; Galatians 5:6; Colossians 3:1-17]

Q: “But aren’t Gay people immoral – just because they’re Gay?”

That’s an argument thrown around relentlessly by those who hate Gay people — even by those who hate us “out of love”.

They point to immoral things done (or supposedly done) by some parts of the Gay population, and then use them as “proof” that Gay itself is immoral.

Is that true?

Well, let’s take a look at it. 

There’s nothing immoral that Gay people do that straight people don’t also do – just as often, just as much, and sometimes more. 

For example, sure, there are some Gay people who get drunk, high, naked, even sexual, and otherwise stupid at bars and Pride Parades and such.

But there are also some straight people who get drunk, high, naked, even sexual, and otherwise stupid at bars and events like Mardi Gras (if you don’t believe me, type “Naked Mardi Gras” or something similar in Google Images — but be prepared for some very immoral images, mostly straight but also some Gay. I found the one to the left here even with the standard Google “SafeSearch” turned on supposedly to block such images). There are even whole web sites and film studios that sell images of straight people getting drunk, high, naked, sexual, and otherwise stupid, all for the viewing entertainment of other straight people who think getting drunk, high, naked, sexual, and otherwise stupid is very cool.

And — there are some Gay people who molest children.

But there are also some straight people who molest children. In fact, one study found that “..[A] child’s risk of being molested by his or her relative’s heterosexual partner is 100 times greater than by someone who might be identified as a homosexual.” [from Carole Jenny, MD, Head of the Division of Child Maltreatment at Brown University, 1994, "Are Children at Risk for Sexual Abuse by Homosexuals?"]

And there are also some Gay people (mostly Gay men) who sleep around a lot, and don’t commit (or stay committed) in a relationship.

But the same is true of some straight people, as well. Divorce rates among straight people — including supposedly Bible-based evangelicals — is completely out of control. But also not often counted is the number of straight people who go in and out of sexual relationships with no thought for marriage whatsoever, or who are “testing” the relationship sexually and otherwise first, sometimes for years, before ever (if ever) committing to actual marriage.

So there just isn’t anything we as Gay people can be accused of that straight people can’t ALSO be accused of! That doesn’t mean it’s right when Gay people do these things — but it also doesn’t mean we’re any worse than anyone else, either. 

But isn’t it interesting how some people will only look at all this one way — the way that just happens to make them look good, and us look bad?  

That’s called “prejudice” — “affective prejudice“, to be exact.

And the idea that Gay people all behave in or live certain bad ways are called “stereotypes“.

Of course, people who are prejudiced against Gay people rarely admit to that. They say they’re just trying to “protect children” or other vulnerable innocents, and to “save society” and (their version of) their religion from an evil enemy or conspiracy that’s trying to harm or eradicate “decent” values (which only they hold) and “decent” people (which includes only people just like them).

But that’s just another part of their prejudice. It’s no different than prejudiced whites claiming to “defend” white women and “decent society” from black men, and no different than prejudiced European Gentiles claiming to “defend” their race from Jews.

It’s also just another part of their sin.

Take a good, long, real-Bible-as-GOD-gave-it-to-the-world look at the behavior (fruit) and character (hearts) of people who are prejudiced against Gay people. Truth be told, they are no more “good Christians” than the Pharisees were “good Jews”. They can claim all they want to be the only or best “real” Christians in the world today, and to be clinging only to “Bible-truth” — and they are often willing to push their claim at the point of a gun and the end of a fist. But their lives tell an entirely different story — just like Jesus said they would.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ [Matthew 7:15-23]
So, what are the fruits of those who condemn Gay people?
  • Claiming to cling to God’s literal truth, yet doing the same things they accuse others of doing: picking and choosing among scriptures, mistranslating scriptures, and taking scripture out of context, so that God’s truth as HE gave it to the world is lost.
  • Arrogantly re-defining God, God’s truth, and God’s creation according to what pleases and fits their own natures and their own bodies and ideologies, to the exclusion of everything else (including other sexual and gender orientations, other racial and community cultures, and more).
  • Twisting the Gospel message into a false one that glorifies and justifies war, violence, greed, materialism, political ideologies, domination, hierarchy, exploitation, hatred, and more all in the “name of God” — in other words, that seems to make the worst of their sin-nature “ok” by God.
  • Turning more people AWAY from Christ than to Him, even as they themselves are truly turned away from Christ.
  • Promoting more and more wicked, violent, self-worshipping, and just plain weird doctrines as time comes closer and closer to Christ’s return and the devil ramps up what delusion and damage he can do until then.
  • Living “good Christian” lives on the outside while living vile, spiritually filthy lives in the inside, so that they claim to be living according to God’s Word while they are actually cheering on and helping the devil.
  • Being a proud, unrepentant, and even joyful part of the False Prophet of the End Times.
“I want you to just let a wave of intolerance wash over you. I want you to let a wave of hatred wash over you. Yes, hate is good…Our goal is a Christian nation. We have a Biblical duty, we are called by God, to conquer this country. We don’t want equal time. We don’t want pluralism.” [Randall Terry, Founder of Operation Rescue, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Indiana, 8-16-93]
“I want to be invisible. I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don’t know it’s over until you’re in a body bag.” [Ralph Reed, Christian Coalition, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot (November 9, 1991]
“I don’t know. Just get me a f*cking faith-based thing. Got it?” [Karl Rove, President George W Bush's top advisor, to the (unnamed) volunteer head of the Bush Administration's Faith-Based Initiative office, who had asked Rove how to set the office up in one week, without a staff or a budget, according to David Kuo, former special assistant to the President and the Number Two man in Bush's Faith-Based Office in his book, Tempting Faith (September, 2007)]

People who are spiritually immoral are NOT the ones anyone should listen to to find out if being Gay is immoral

Gay people can certainly BE immoral. But so can straight people, and no one (I think!) is saying “Straight people are immoral just because they’re straight!” (or “Asians are immoral just because they are Asian”, or “Australians are immoral just because they are Australian”, and so on) — that would be just as ridiculous and illogical.

But also ridiculous and illogical is to let people who aren’t themselves even close to “expert” at morality define for us whether we’re moral or not. It’s like letting someone who’s getting a failing grade in English tutor us in how to write an essay. If we do it we’re just setting ourselves up to ALSO fail!

So, why do we listen to them anyway?

Most often it’s because they’re pushy, and most of us don’t struggle back against bullies and people with domineering or controlling personalities if we can accommodate them, instead. We falsely assume — just as did most Jews 2,000 years ago — that the ones who are loudest, most demanding, most glitzy, most financially and politically powerful, and most “Scripture-educated” MUST be right. Otherwise they wouldn’t BE loudest, most demanding, most glitzy, most financially and politically powerful, and most “Scripture-educated”, right?

But that’s just our weak human nature leading us astray. Jesus and the rest of the Bible tells us NOT to go along with the false shepherds, no matter how “right” it might seem at the time.

We’re told to AVOID being eaten by the wolves of the world, not “go along to not make trouble”.

And we’re warned that in the End Times, it will become more and more important to stick ONLY with Jesus and the real Gospel that shows real fruit (as HE defines real fruit), and to avoid the anti-Christs and False Prophet that hope to deceive us and turn us away before He returns again to get us. 

Be yourself — AND be moral. God commands it! 

If God hadn’t wanted Gentiles to be among His people, He wouldn’t have filled them with His Spirit even when it bugged prejudiced Jews no end.

In the same way, if God hadn’t wanted Gay people to be among His people, He wouldn’t have filled US with His Spirit either, even though it bugs prejudiced straight people no end.

Be the Gay testimony to God’s love and God’s Gospel, everywhere God takes you in your life!

You need to be it — and other people, both Gay and straight, need to see it!

Q: “Does God really condemn Gay people?”

In a word: Sometimes. 

But then, sometimes God condemns straight people, too.

In fact, God condemns everyone – regardless of sexual orientation, gender orientation, racial characteristics, culture and subculture, and so on – who reject God’s Holiness because they prefer the ugliness of sin. The Bible says that “..all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” [2 Thessalonians 2:12].
So we can say with certainty that God condemns Gay people who enjoy being evil. They will be cast into the fire along with their straight fellows, at the Judgment. 

But then the question becomes, “Does being Gay automatically make someone a lover of evil?”

And now we can say, in a word: No.

Being Gay doesn’t automatically make someone a lover of evil anymore than being Gentile does – and yet, 2,000 years ago, the majority of those who believed themselves to be God’s people believed just that about Gentiles.

Why did they believe that?

Because the Scriptures, as they understood them, said so!

The Scriptures, as they understood them, said that only Gentiles who became as Jewish as they were could be saved. And these Jewish believers were stunned when God proclaimed through His Spirit that what they understood of His Word was incorrect. Even Peter came to understand that “God shows no favoritism”, but accepts people of every kind who live His way. [Acts 10:1-11:18] Then, everyone who was more interested in what God was saying, than in what their translations and interpretations said He was saying, looked anew at His Scriptures, and discovered that God had never put a blanket condemnation of God-fearing Gentiles in His Scripture, at all [e.g., Galatians 3:8]. 

Today more than ever, God has poured out His Spirit on Gay people all over the world.

And where He has done so, Gay people have demonstrated His Spirit in their lives just as the Gentiles did 2,000 years ago: speaking in tongues, praising God, and growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control [Acts 10:45-46; Galatians 5:22-23].

So what should be the response of those straight Christians who witness God’s Spirit within Gay Christians? It should be the same as those Jewish Christians who witnessed it within Gentile Christians 2,000 years ago:
  • Understand that God is truly sovereign, and He acts exactly as He wants to. When God’s Spirit fills Gay people, and though now growing in the fruit of the Spirit they forever remain just as Gay as they were before they were saved, that’s a big “hint” that those who are seeing automatic condemnation of Gay people in the Bible are missing something – not seeing or interpreting something as God put it there.

So what about those Scriptures that seem to condemn Gay people?

You can find discussion about the more God-focused, and less human-focused, ways to understand God’s Word in many books and websites these days, including this blog.

The sum of it all, though, is that God doesn’t automatically condemn Gay people, but He does automatically condemn:
  • worship of anything but God,
  • engaging in “magical” practices to increase one’s bounty or prosperity
  • rape,
  • murder,
  • hate,
  • paranoia,
  • domination,
  • love of evil,
  • being arrogant, overfed, and underconcerned,
  • not helping the poor and needy,
  • living a “soft” life above others, and,
  • having sex with animals or angels
And it doesn’t take a whole lot of contemplation to figure out who benefits most when God’s real condemnation of all of these things is instead turned into a false “God condemns Gay people”! Satan began by beguiling the human race with his own “interpretation” and “translation” of God’s Word – and he hasn’t stopped doing it, even today. 

So what does this mean for Gay Christians who still feel or fear being condemned? 

2,000 years ago, many Gentile Christians feared that unless they stopped being Gentiles, and instead became Jews, they could not be saved. That’s what they had been taught, and that was the message they had internalized. But one thing was certain:

The intensity of their fear had nothing to do with the reality of God’s truth!

We Gay Christians today often act based on our fears, just as the early Gentile Christians did.
They submitted to circumcision knives and priestly dominations and cultural rituals that had no place in God’s way any longer.

Yet we submit to psychological mumbo-jumbo and peer pressure and Scripture twisting that was never part of God’s way in the first place.

And in doing so, we are submitting to other people’s sin.
  • They have willfully ignored God’s Spirit at work in Gay Christians.
  • And we have then turned off the peace and joy God gives to bless and enliven us for His work, to accommodate them!
Do we sin in doing so? Some would say yes, because we become like the fearful servant who eventually had to stand before His master, only to say, “I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” [Matthew 25:14-30].

I would say that at the very minimum we are tormenting ourselves for no useful purpose. And there is no godly reward for that.

Even worse is that we also cause very real damage to our faith, trust, and love of God, when we fail to cling to God’s sovereignty to create us as He sees fit, and instead cling to other people’s ideas of what should exist. We can say all we want that we love and trust the Lord, but if we believe He despises what we are and will soon cast us into eternal fire if we don’t “behave”, we will love Him in the same way that abused children love yet also fear and hate an earthly father who threatens to murder them violently if they don’t stop making him angry. Just like those children, we may cling, but we will never truly adore. We may reach out, but we will also inwardly shrink away.

There is also the damage that can be done to our very character, if we stick with religious bigotry rather than God’s sovereignty. How many Gay people end up being dominating “control freaks”, for example, or bitter neurotics, or perverse rejoicers in evil, having been emotionally warped by the controlling, neurotic, evil of their “church” leaders, friends, and family?

Yearning to be straight when God has made us Gay also makes us covetous. It makes us turn away from the blessing we’ve been given, and long instead for the blessing someone else has been given. Coveting can easily become obsessing, and obsessing leads down to all sorts of dark, painful roads.
No one but the devil himself benefits when people – straight or Gay – wrongly believe that the Bible condemns Gay people and then won’t let go of that belief even in the face of proof otherwise. 

So what is the answer for us, then? 

The answer for us is the same answer for every person on the planet:

Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]

So, hand over your burden of worry and fear to Him. He is far, far bigger and better than anything you’ve been taught and internalized through over people’s opinions and bigotries, and He wants you to understand that.

Accept the peace and joy He offers you through His Holy Spirit. Pray for His help in no longer blocking His action in your heart, mind, and soul. He longs for you to stop shrinking back from Him as if He were no better than those who hurt others in His name.

Kneel before His sovereignty – His decision to make you Gay. Accept that there is a lesson in it for you, and for those around you, once you begin to explore it. Know that His greatest blessing on your life was to make you someone who doesn’t automatically fit into mainstream Christianity – because He doesn’t either.
Live the life of a Gay, Bible-believing, holy-living Christian that He’s assigned you to. And live that life well, and to the fullest!