Archive for July, 2015

A Christian discussion of homosexuality & sexuality

Friday, July 10th, 2015

It's Just Love

(image in public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

I have spent many years in counselling individuals and families and sometimes dealing with their sexual expressions. I retired in 2011 after 17-years full time as a counselling manager and counsellor of youth, families, relationships and marriages – most of it in a secular environment.

To raise the topic of homosexuality and sexuality from a Christian perspective, automatically raises suspicion in some quarters, especially with secularists in the mass media and in online forums. There is quite a bit of confusion in this area today because of the increasing promotion of homosexuality and homosexual marriage as an acceptable lifestyle choice.

How should evangelical Christians (including myself) respond to this kind of explanation of homosexual behaviour? On alleged Christian wrote:

For many years of my life, I also believed that all homosexual behavior was wrong — whether it consisted of anonymous hookups or committed relationships. I believed, based on what I had read in the Bible, that even the most loving and monogamous of same-sex relationships was evil in God’s eyes. But as I studied the Bible, my view on that subject changed. I now believe that homosexual behavior is appropriate within the confines of a committed, loving, monogamous, lifelong, Christ-centered relationship. Essentially, I’m arguing that a Christ-centered marriage is a good thing, regardless of the gender of the people involved….

But a growing number of Christians believes the church has made a mistake and that the church’s position ought to be reformed. In this essay, I’m going to refer to these differing Christian viewpoints as “the Traditional View” and “the Reformed View” respectively. I support the Reformed View.[1]

That was promoted by Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network. This paragraph includes his basic understanding of homosexuality:

  • He used to believe that all homosexual behaviour was wrong;
  • He gained that view from the Bible and believed that even monogamous, same-sex relationships were evil before God;
  • He changed his view after further study from the Bible and now believes that,
  • It is appropriate to have a Christ-centred homosexual relationship that is committed, loving, monogamous and lifelong. So,
  • Christ-centred marriage is a good thing whether homosexual or heterosexual.
  • The traditional view of the church needs to be reformed.

If your children and youth are exposed to that kind of approach, how will they view homosexuality? It will send them a positive message that it is possible to have a Christ-centred homosexual marriage.

That is not the assessment that will be reached in what follows. Let’s look at some definitions.

I. Definitions

A. Sexuality

How would you describe your sexuality and the expression of sex in your relationship?

Students from the University of Western Australia in 2012 provided this definition: ‘Sexuality: Is about sexual feelings (who we are emotionally and sexually attracted to), sexual behaviour (how we express our sexual feelings) and sexual identify (who we say we are to ourselves and others based on our internal beliefs)’.[2]

Andrew Comiskey, a former homosexual who has been redeemed by Jesus,[3] gave this explanation:

Sexuality involves a lot more than mere behavior. It includes a heartfelt yearning for connection with another. At the core it’s not a lustful seductive exercise. It grows from that God-inspired desire within each of us [unless you have the gift of celibacy] to break out of the walls of the lone self and merge with another human being. [Sexual] intercourse is only one expression of this merging, albeit the most obvious (Comiskey 1989:37).

B. Homosexuality

Here are some biblical explanations of what is involved from Romans 1:20-30,

Romans 1:24, calls them “the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (ESV);

Romans 1:26 as engaging in “dishonorable passions” and “exchanging natural [sexual] relations”;

Romans 1: 27, Women were “consumed with passion for one another.” “Men [were] committing shameless acts with men.”

II. A biblical view of homosexuality (based on a biblical worldview of sexuality).

 Purple Homosexuality Button

A. Sexuality involves a longing and desire for unity/union

cubed-iron-sm The body longs for human touch;

cubed-iron-sm The human soul longs for companionship to ease our aloneness [unless you have the gift of celibacy].

cubed-iron-sm BEFORE the fall into sin, God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone; ‘I will make a helper suitable for him.'” (Gen. 2:18).

This intimate desire for another happened in the pristine state of a human being, prior to the fall into sin.

cubed-iron-sm What was God’s answer? [Please understand that man had access to God, but that was not enough.]

B. God’s plan is male and female

Background understanding comes from these two passages:

Genesis 1:26-28 (NIV),

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[4] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Gen. 2:22-25 (ESV) states:

22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[5] into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

C. The origin of all depravity (incl. heterosexual  & homosexual depravity)

Sex Pit

(image courtesy ChristArt)

1. Genesis 3: the fall into sin

No matter what the sin, whether it be theft, adultery, rape, homosexual acts or genocide, the origin happened at the beginning of the human race.

Romans 5:12 explains how sin and all of its dimensions entered the human race: ‘When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned’ (NLT). Read the full fuller story of how it happened in Genesis 2 and 3.

How could a sinless human being whom God declared to be ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31) commit sin and condemn the whole human race, as our head, to depraved sinful actions? While admitting that Adam’s sin was the original sin of the human race, theologian, Henry Thiessen stated that

it still does not show how the sinful disposition found a place in Adam’s nature. We can be sure that God did not put motives before man that led him to sin. That would make God responsible and absolve man from guilt. Nor did God remove from him His sustaining grace, in which case He would likewise bear the responsibility. Nor is it sufficient to say that the power of choice with which God had endowed Adam was bound to lead to this result, for as [Augustus] Strong says, ‘The mere power of choice does not explain the fact of an unholy choice’[6]…. We cannot tell how the first unholy emotion arose in the soul of a holy being, but we know the fact that it did. The only satisfactory explanation is that man fell by a free act of revolt from God (Thiessen 1949:247-248).

All sin entered the world as a result of this disobedient action by Adam and Eve. That’s when the sin of homosexuality entered the world. Please note what I wrote. It is the sin of homosexuality and not the genetics of homosexuality that led to its being a sin that prevents one from entering the kingdom of God. But I’m jumping ahead of myself.

Here is an extended example from the Book of Romans that shows how homosexuality is one of the sinful desires that issues in sinful acts and God’s wrath is revealed against this godlessness and wickedness of human beings. Let’s take a read:

2. Romans 1:18-32 (NIV),

18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.
26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

3. The male-female relationship fell from innocence.[7]

When sin entered the human race, our sexuality was cast into disorder. Comiskey explained: “Every one of us is in turn is sexually vulnerable to some degree. People with a heterosexual orientation are no less fallen than those with homosexual tendencies.”[8]

Therefore, for anyone to experience homosexual healing, there needs to be, at the very base,

coil-gold-sm A clear understanding that brokenness comes from the fall into sin;

coil-gold-sm A humble recognition that “God never intended for man or woman to seek completion in the same sex. Thus, homosexual pursuit of erotic and emotional bonding [with a person of the same sex] violates something basic in our humanity.”[9]

coil-gold-sm The homosexual MUST accept that “homosexual pursuit of erotic and emotional bonding violates something basic to our humanity.”[10]

coil-gold-sm PLEASE also recognise that homosexuality is only one of the sinful sexual behaviours that is woven into our sinful humanity – the others include, any kind of sex outside of marriage, including pre-marital sex as singles, defacto sex as singles, prostitution (male and female), bestiality,

coil-gold-sm “The Genesis account underscores the futility of trying to become whole through a member of the same sex.”[11]

D. That is what some of you were

Who are the people who will not enter the kingdom of God? What are the possibilities of change? These verses put these issues in context and provide answers.

I Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV) reads:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous[12] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practise homosexuality,[13] nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Please note that one of the kinds of unrighteous deeds preventing a person from entering God’s kingdom is the sin of practising homosexuality. It is important to emphasise that it in only one among a number of other kinds of unrighteous actions that will prevent people from entering the kingdom of God. Those who practise homosexuality are included with idolaters, adulterers, thieves and drunkards. ALL UNFORGIVEN SINNERS will be prevented from entering God’s kingdom and that includes those who practise homosexuality. Too often the homosexuals have been singled out by Christians without emphasis on the other kinds of sinners in this passage.

However, God’s view of sinners from 1 Cor. 6:9-11 is, ‘Such were some of you’. It is not, ‘Such ARE some of you’. It is in the past tense which means that these sinners have changed and that includes homosexuals – thanks to God’s redemption through Christ. Jesus changes all sinners if they confess their sins, repent and receive Christ alone for salvation. And that includes homosexual sinners. Yes, homosexual SINNERS. God’s assessment is that homosexuality is a sin that can be changed through Christ.

E. Accept/Receive one another

#

(image courtesy openclipart)

There is an important verse to help the church deal with recovering homosexuals in the church. Romans 15:7: “Accept [or receive] one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

When I preached this message at a local church, I said: I could have brought a redeemed homosexual along to share his testimony, but I resisted UNTIL we know the truth of Rom. 15:7 in the Christian fellowship. I know of redeemed homosexuals who have been so hurt by Christians in the church that they may never return to the church – and that is tragic.

When I shared this verse in a devotional at a ministers’ association meeting with a group of pastors, one pastor shouted me down before I finished the devotional – objecting strongly to the biblical view that I was sharing that we ought to accept ALL believers, including redeemed homosexuals, redeemed paedophiles, redeemed prostitutes, etc. Please understand that I am talking about redeemed sinners who are being discipled and growing in grace. We are seeing the fruit of change in their lives. It is always wise to have others supervising redeemed sinners who have come from a dangerous, reprobate lifestyle. However, we need to remember that ‘there but for the grace of God, go I’.[14]

III. The genetic hypothesis for homosexuality has some holes in it.

Ribbon Homosexuality ButtonThe basic root is sin, as has been explained above.

A. Hasn’t it been proven that people are born homosexual?

There have been a number of examples of those who try to prove homosexuality has a biological cause. These are only two examples.

1. Simon LeVay[15]

This neuroscientist, Simon LeVay, has admitted he is gay.[16] He published research in 1991 (see LeVay 1991), indicating that there was an area of the hypothalamus in the brain that allegedly governs sexual activity and this is supposed to be smaller in homosexual men than heterosexual men.

LeVay has admitted that his findings do not prove “cause and effect,” but the media have reported it differently.

Zetlan’s assessment of LeVay’s research was:

‘as far as I can tell, LeVay has not found a biological substrate for sexual orientation. All LeVay has reported is that in groups of people

with unknown medical and sexual histories there is a significant difference in the size of a structure whose function is not known’

(Zetlan n d).

For a pro-homosexual expose, see Richard Horton’s article from Frontline, ‘Is homosexuality inherited?’ (1995)

2. Bailey and Pillard

Shortly after LeVay’s research, Michael Bailey, a gay-rights’ activist, together with psychiatrist, Richard Pillard, who is a homosexual, showed research on identical twins versus fraternal twins. They suggest there is a link between homosexuality and genetics. However, this research has many questions needing answers. We need to ask:

Was the research conducted in an unbiased and fair way?

What are the true implications?

Are they accepted universally by the scientific and medical community?

Are they compatible with biblical truth?

We do know this: The media were quick to jump on this bandwagon and promote homosexuality’s supposed biological cause, when the research did not prove that. There are too many questions about this research. Don’t let anybody convince you the biological cause of homosexuality is proven. Not so!

Even if at some point in the future it is proven that there is a biological association with homosexuality, we need to conclude as the Bible concludes: genetic origins do not justify sinful behaviour.

The Bible praises sexuality and sexual enjoyment within the boundaries of marriage. Homosexual behaviour is consistently condemned in both Old and New Testaments and there is no exception in this condemnation.

[I recommend the article, “Born Gay?”, by a redeemed homosexual, Joe Dallas, in Christianity Today, June 22, 1992, in which he assesses this research and comes to some thoughtful conclusions.][17]

3. Frank Worthen’s view

A lot of money has been spent on research to try to link genetics with homosexuality, but Frank Worthen stated in 1991 that “no concrete proof has been found” (Worthen 1991:6). In their book, Human Sexuality, Masters and Johnson say, “The genetic theory of homosexuality has generally been discarded today.”[18] However, as indicated below, more research has been done on this topic since Masters and Johnson.

Elsewhere they say, “Despite the interest in possible hormone mechanisms in the origin of homosexuality, no serious scientist today suggests that a simple cause-effect relationship applies.”[19]

Why are homosexuals so determined to believe they are born gay? Frank Worthen, a redeemed homosexual, gives two reasons:

a. “The idea that a choice exists as to whether or not they remain homosexual is both frightening and threatening. The gay person has a real investment in his/her identity.”[20]

b. “Most gay people cannot remember a time when they did not have homosexual feelings. They actually believe they were born gay. What research has proven is that the paths we take in life are laid down at a very early age.”[21]

4. A 2012 study put the cat among the pigeons

A new study (published in 2012) by William R. Rice, Urban Friberg, and Sergey Gavrilets of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California Santa Barbara, California, has an interesting twist to this genetic view. The abstract of their article states:

Male and female homosexuality have substantial prevalence in humans. Pedigree and twin studies indicate that homosexuality has substantial heritability in both sexes, yet concordance between identical twins is low and molecular studies have failed to find associated DNA markers. This paradoxical pattern calls for an explanation. We use published data on fetal androgen signaling and gene regulation via nongenetic changes in DNA packaging (epigenetics) to develop a new model for homosexuality…. Our model predicts that homosexuality is part of a wider phenomenon in which recently evolved androgen-influenced traits commonly display gonad-trait discordances at substantial frequency, and that the molecular feature underlying most homosexuality is not DNA polymorphism(s), but epi-marks that evolved to canalize sexual dimorphic development that sometimes carryover across generations and contribute to gonad-trait discordances in opposite-sex descendants (Rice et al 2012).

This research concludes that

A major strength of our epigenetic model of homosexuality is that it makes two unambiguous predictions that are testable with current technology. Therefore, if our model is wrong, it can be rapidly falsified and discarded.

First, future, larger-scale genetic association studies will fail to identify genetic markers associated with most homosexuality.

Second, future genome-wide epigenetic profiles will find differences between homosexuals and nonhomosexuals, but only at genes associated with androgen signaling in the later parts of the pathway (e.g., AR cofactors or miRNAs that regulate them) or be restricted to brain regions controlling sexual orientation, i.e., not affecting sexually dimorphic traits like genitalia or sexual identity (Rice et al 2012).

While this is not a definitive study, it does progress the scientific evaluation of the origin of homosexuality beyond concluding that genetics is the cause of homosexuality.

5. What about the identical twin studies?

I highly recommend that you read Dr N E Whitehead’s research, MY GENES MADE ME DO IT! Homosexuality and the Scientific Evidence (2013). Neil Whitehead (PhD biochemistry) has worked for 40 years as a research scientist in New Zealand and around the world. The book is written in association with his son, Briar Whitehead, who is a journalist, writer and editor.

Dr Whitehead wrote:

Over the last decade, studies of twins have provided some of the strongest numerical evidence that “Our genes do not make us do it”…. Results from twin studies are quantitative, so they greatly focus and sharpen the results of many other studies we’ve mentioned so far. In a nutshell, if you take pairs of identical twins in which one twin is homosexual, the identical co-twin (a monozygotic (MZ) twin) is usually not homosexual. That means, given that identical twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be genetically dictated. No-one is born gay. The predominant things that create homosexuality in one identical twin and not in the other have to be post-birth factors’ (Whitehead 2013:175).

His continued assessment was:

These very complex comparisons of identical twins and non-identical twins definitively rule out genetic determinism. Identical twins with identical genes are about 11-14% concordant for SSA [same-sex attraction]. If homosexuality were “genetic,” identical co-twins of homosexual men and women would also be homosexual 100% of the time. In classic twin studies the genetic fraction is less than 22% for men and 37% for women, and may be as low as 10%. Twin studies continue to find steadily lower genetic fractions for homosexuality as methodology improves and samples become larger’ (Whitehead 2013:267).

IV. What causes gender confusion?[22]

How secure we feel in our maleness and femaleness can significantly affect how we relate to those of the opposite sex. A major study in 1981 (Bell, Weinberg & Hammersmith) found that one consistent theme among homosexuals studied was gender confusion. Looking back as adults, homosexuals have sensed a number of factors that influenced them to have a sense of being different from their same-sex peers in childhood. This confusion seems to be linked later in life with an erotic preference for the same sex.

What factors contributed to this gender confusion?

A follow-up study was conducted by Blanchard & Zucker with these results:

The authors compared parental age, birth order, and sex ratio of siblings for 575 homosexual men and 284 heterosexual men, matched on age and education. They were originally part of Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith’s large-scale study of male and female homosexuality. The results confirmed the previous findings that homosexual men have older fathers and later births than do heterosexual men but not the finding that homosexual men have larger proportions of brothers. The collective findings suggest that birth order is perhaps the single most reliable demographic difference between homosexual and heterosexual men (Blanchard & Zucker 1994).

A. The role of parents

Parents have a powerful influence on a child’s acquisition of gender identity. This is natural, since Mum and Dad are our first and most influential models in life of a man and a woman.

1. Perhaps the most powerful influence on our gender identity comes from our relationship with the same-sex parent. The nature of the relationship is very important (see George Rekers, Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Identity). That parent will influence your views of intimacy and how you identify with the same sex positively or negatively. If it was an affirming relationship, you will be approved in your gender role.

a. If that relationship is broken (e.g. physical or sexual abuse, personal victimisation, emotional detachment, death, illness, neglect, etc.) it can block the lifeline of intimacy and identification. Secure gender development may be obstructed.

b. The child responds to this breach by moving away from (detachment) the same-sex parent, the need for healthy same-sex love is repressed.

c. This detachment may limit the child’s ability to take on the characteristics of the same-sex parent. More than that, the child may develop a tendency to shy away from a person of the same sex.

d. But in adolescence, when one is aroused erotically, this repressed need for same-sex love may be expressed homosexually.

2. The parent of the opposite sex may play a vital role in affirming or hindering your sexual identity. If you do not see the parent of the opposite sex as a caring individual with whom you want to identify, you may be repulsed by that parent. How you relate to your opposite-sex parent will convey your `adequacy’ with the opposite sex.

a. Male example:

A dominant mother who is usually intense and emotionally smothering, may breed a fear of women. Gender confusion may develop along with perfectionism and contempt. A young man who detaches from his mother may generalise this contempt to other women.

b. Female example:

An abusive, erratic father fosters fears of the possibility of being violated. In future relationships with men, the woman may close down emotionally. Because the mother is most often the main nurturer in the family, the female child may develop a neurotic tie to mother’s love with no bonding with the masculine.

3. What impact does marriage have? How parents relate as a heterosexual couple will impact children. The children will be either attracted to how they see Mum and Dad interact or they may be repelled by it. Will the children want to repeat what they see in the parents’ response to each other, or will they be attracted to a same-sex model? This may be influenced by:

a. Evidence of abuse in marriage.

Does one partner seem to be victimised by the other? With which one does the child identify? This becomes somewhat complicated when there is a separation and/or divorce.

b. Siding with one parent against the other.

c. Inner vows that a child makes —

swearing never to be like him/her/them. This vow may handicap prospects for marital intimacy.

The child’s relationship with his/her family will determine many of the attitudes to life later. It is the seedbed in which attitudes grow: co-operation, competition, perception of self and one’s body, submission or domination. It is in the family that we nurture our hopes, fears and feelings about sex.

B. Some other contributors to gender confusion

1. Early sexual experiences.

By whom have you been erotically stimulated?

a. Heterosexual:

For young girls and women, sexual abuse by men can easily create a fear of, hostility and a repulsion towards men.

b. Homosexual:

Especially for boys, if there have been sexual advances by men and these have affirmed the boys, this can create a perversion of same-sex intimacy.

2. Peer rejection because of gender confusion.

a. This may alienate one from the peer group.

There is ambivalence—a yearning to be accepted, but there may be rejection by both the peer group and the same-sex parent.

b. There may be an over-identification with opposite-sex peer group.

c. You sense there is a difference about you, the peer group rejects you, you are labelled as ‘homosexual.’

So you experience a profound sense of inadequacy.

d. High anxiety linked with gender identity in your peer relationships.

So gender identity becomes a point of conflict (Satan the accuser).

3. Gender alienation:

a. If you are secure in your gender identity and it is being positively affirmed,

You relate reasonably well with males and females. However, insecurity leads to your being rigid and maybe fearful. So, in such circumstances one feels a need to work on trying to be ‘normal.’ One feels cramped and anxious.

b. The alienation leads one to suppress opposite-sex attraction.

c. A self-fulfilling prophecy, especially in adolescence.

4. What gets lost?

a. A clear and realistic picture of the opposite sex.

b. Legitimate needs for same-sex intimacy and identification.

c. The realisation that our need to have same-sex associations without being erotic.

d. The grace to allow God to separate sinful lust from legitimate desire.

The result of this gender confusion is often loneliness and fear. We have a fear of our sexuality—gender, bodies, ourselves—so we launch into homosexual expression in spite of the guilt that we experience.

IV. The steps that lead to healing for the homosexual.

Books by redeemed homosexuals:

  • Andrew Comiskey, Pursuing Sexual Wholeness: How Jesus Heals the Homosexual (1989).
  • Jeanette Howard, Out of Egypt: Leaving Lesbianism Behind (1991).
  • Frank Worthen, Helping People Step Out of Homosexuality (1991).

A. Summary of Steps out of Homosexuality[23]

https://i1.wp.com/www.christart.com/IMAGES-art9ab/clipart/114/b3-homosexuality.png

1. Making the decision

This is not a decision to be made lightly. Weigh the costs. Note Luke 14:25-35.

2. Brokenness

Change comes out of brokenness. Homosexuality is sin and you have grieved God. Deep sorrow is needed for your actions. Please take seriously this Scripture:

James 4:7-10, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up” (NIV).

Before you find peace, there may be a time of grief.

3. Your need of a Saviour

“Brokenness must be so complete, that we no longer have any desire to regain control of our lives, but allow the Holy Spirit to lead. Victory is dependence on Jesus.”[24] (John 3:16)

4. Doing the ordinary with other believers

designBlue-sma Join with a group of Christian believers. You need the love and support of God’s people.

designBlue-sma There may be difficulties in fitting in with a church.

designBlue-sma Need to spur one another on to love & good deeds.

designBlue-sma Intercessory prayer is vital for victorious Christian living (with Christians). (Heb. 10:23-25)

5. Spiritual Warfare

Every step out of homosexuality will be challenged. (Eph. 6:10-20). Do not expect the secular world to be favourable towards the steps you are taking to be healed of the sexual sin of homosexuality. The mass media will be hostile towards your change if journalists hear about it.

6. Holding a correct view of God

His majesty, His unlimited power and His everlasting love. (Jer. 29:12-14: ‘Call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” and will bring you back from captivity”)

7. Hold a correct view of others

Part of brokenness is that you realise how selfishly you have used others for your own gratification. They may have hurt us; we may have hurt them, but we need to respond to them as people made in the image of God.

8. You must have God’s view of you

designBlue-sma You are made in the image of God;

designBlue-sma You are fallen;

designBlue-sma In spite of your sinful, wicked condition, God loves you enough to die for you.

designBlue-sma God loves you too much to leave you that way; he wants you to change.

9. The belief principle

Walk by faith. Christ lives within you. He is alive in you. This is not blind faith, but faith build on the evidence of Jesus revealed in Scripture.

10. Submission

For the person seeking salvation and healing from homosexuality, accountability is part of the healing process. You need to submit to God, but you must also submit to one another. “Submission is death to self-interest and birth to God’s interests.”[25]

11. Fruitfulness

You must bear fruit consistent with repentance. Your old life, its attitudes,

associations, the ties that held you to that sinful lifestyle must be broken. Growing in grace (sanctification) is clearly God and us working together. (James. 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”)

12. Walking in the light

designQuiltsmall I John 1:5-7, walk in the light;

designQuiltsmall I Thess 5:17, pray continually;

designQuiltsmall 1 John 4:4, Live daily in the light of God’s presence; “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world”.

I agree with Frank Worthen’s assessment: “In our ministry, we are frequently asked: ‘Do you make homosexuals into heterosexuals?’ Our answer is, ‘No, we only point the way to wholeness in Christ”’ (Worthen 1991:137). Why take this approach? It is because God’s design for heterosexuality has been so distorted by this worldly system in which we live.

V. God’s design

A. There is a deep spiritual factor involved in the sexual relationship – worship.

First Corinthians 6:16-17 says: “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit” (NIV).

Young people, if you forget everything else I have written here, please remember this: sex is a spiritual issue. It is impossible for you to commit sexual immorality and still be one with God. Sex has a strong spiritual dimension, as I Cor. 6:13 says: “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body.”

The infamous Jim Bakker of PTL Television Network fame, USA, commented as his ministry lay in tatters: “It’s amazing how fifteen minutes can ruin your life” (Comiskey 1988:31). What he didn’t say was: Not just any fifteen minutes, but fifteen minutes of sexual immorality.

While Paul, the apostle, speaks of becoming one with a prostitute in I Cor 6:16, he expands it to general immorality in I Cor 6:18, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

B. DO YOU WANT SEX AT ITS BEST?

#

(image courtesy openclipart)

Surrender your rights to Jesus Christ. You must choose with your actions (not just words) to follow Jesus as Lord. This means refusing to yield to sexual temptation and fleeing sexual immorality. Does your walk match your talk? You will find it impossible to “flee sexual immorality” if you are in the back seat of a car at midnight in Queens Park.

God says through Paul, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work” (Titus 1:16).

But, you might ask:

C. ISN’T A FAITHFUL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE OK?

A little while ago, a man in his seventies said to me: “The young ones these days have sure cottoned onto a great idea. They are very progressive. It makes sense to try her out before you marry her.” He was thinking of living with her first and sampling each other sexually.

But is living together before you marry very smart? Back in November 1977 the American edition of Seventeen magazine included an article, “The Case Against Living Together” (in Remsberg 1977). It included an interview with Dr Nancy Moore Clatworthy, a sociologist at Ohio State University.

For about 10 years, she had been studying unmarried couples who had been living together. When she began, she was like the elderly man with whom I spoke. She thought it was a good idea. The young had told her it was wonderful and she believed them. It seemed a sensible, practical arrangement. Then, as now, it seemed to have a reasonable ring to it.

But her research led to a change of mind. She said, “The things people say living together is doing for them, it’s not doing.” She found that this was especially so for girls who were uptight, fearful and looking past the talk ‘to the possible pain and agony.’

She stressed two points. First, “In the areas of adjustment, happiness and respect,” couples who lived together before marriage had more problems than those who had married first. They argued more about money, friends and sex.

“In every area the couples who had lived together before marriage disagreed more often than the couples who had not.” It was evident to this researcher that living together first did not solve problems. In fact it created difficulties.

Second, Dr Clatworthy discovered that defacto relationships had an impact on commitment. She believed that “commitment is what makes marriage, living together or any human relationship work.”

But “knowing that something is temporary affects the degree of commitment to it.”

So, unmarried couples living together are not wholehearted in working at and protecting the relationship. She found that 75% of them break up. And girls are badly hurt.

Nancy Clatworthy concluded: “Statistically, you’re much better off marrying than living together. For people who are in love, anything less than a full commitment is a cop-out.”

More recent studies have similar results. Newsweek magazine (1983) reported that 16% of college students thought that it was harmful “for a man and woman to live together before marriage” while 61% said it would be “helpful.”

But a study in the same year (1983) by the National Council on Family Relations (USA) found that those who lived defacto first were less happy in marriage. Women complained about the quality of communication after the wedding.

Yale University sociologist, Neil Bennett, discovered that defacto women were 80% more likely to separate or divorce than women who had not lived with their spouses before marriage.[26]

It is startling to realise that one study discovered that those who shacked up before marriage were almost twice as likely to dissolve within 10 years compared to all first marriages.

What does all of this say? Marriage is one shoe you cannot try on before you wear it. When it comes to marriage, try before you buy is not a smart idea.

This confirms what the Author of marriage commanded: “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” (Hebrews 13:4).

This is a puzzle many people grapple with–not just the young. Why should sex with a permanent partner outside of marriage (in a defacto relationship) be any different than marriage to one woman for life? Many think the essential elements of both are identical.

The government thinks so and has given legal status to this kind of immorality (according to the Bible). The government treats the defacto couple like marriage.

The difference is this: God designed marriage; human beings designed the live-in, look-alike, defacto relationship.

I am indebted to Al Haffner for this illustration:

“Consider this: `It is possible to analyze an apple and ascertain its chemical constituents; but all the chemists in the world cannot make an apple, nor anything that can substitute for it.’ Neither can the world make any relationship do what marriage does, not even a monogamous love affair” (Haffner 1989:34).

In our way of thinking, there is a vast separation between a faithful lover and one who sleeps around. From God’s point of view, He lumps all sex outside of marriage into the same heap because sex makes a spiritual statement.

In Al Haffner’s words: “Inside marriage it is the melodious beauty of spiritual serenity; outside of marriage, even in a monogamous relationship, sex cries out a cacophony of spiritual chaos.”[27]

When you indulge in “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed” this amounts to idolatry, according to Col 3:5-6 because it is self-serving selfishness, opposed to serving God and “because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

I refer you to these links for further details:

flamin-arrow-small 5 (Secular) Reasons Not to Live Together Before Marriage (Jennifer Fulwiler 2013);

flamin-arrow-small Seven Reasons Why Living Together Before Marriage is not a Good Idea (Pastor Arron Chambers 2009);

flamin-arrow-small 5 Great Reasons to Live Together Before Marriage & 1 Better One Not To (Pastor James Hein 2010);

flamin-arrow-small 20 good reasons not to cohabit before marriage (Don Weston 1998).

D. WHAT ARE GOD’S REASONS FOR INSTRUCTIONS ABOUT SEX?

We must begin by understanding the character of God.

flamin-arrow-small He is not a killjoy wanting to ruin your fun.

flamin-arrow-small He didn’t make us to enjoy sex and then frustrate us.

flamin-arrow-small God made and designed us.

flamin-arrow-small He knows everything.

Only God knows what is best for us. Deuteronomy 10:13 says, “Observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good.”

Those last four words are critical: for your own good. All of God’s commands to us, all of his requirements are not to break us and kill our joy, but they are for our own good.

Psalm 84:11, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God knows how you are wired–body, mind and spirit. God knows how human relationships function most fully and joyfully. God is not trying to stop us from having a wonderful sex life. He is giving us the positive instruction to have the most wonderful sex life possible.

I have found many Christians ignorant of this perspective.

If you look on God’s commands, such as, “You shall not commit adultery, flee sexual immorality, etc.,” as negative and designed to frustrate your enjoyment, you will miss what God wants for your sexual enjoyment. Remember, these negatives are given for positive reasons.

When my children were young, I warned them: do not touch a hot plate on the stove. That was very negative and it looked like I might have been stopping them from having fun. But it was really a positive command. If my Paul, Wendy and Jeff had burned themselves, it would have prevented them from enjoying life for a while–maybe permanently.

That’s how it is with God: Whenever he gives a command, there are at least two positive reasons behind it:

1. He’s trying to protect us from some harm, and

2. He’s trying to provide something good for us.

If you abstain from sex now, it is because God wants you to experience greater intimacy later–in marriage. But God is also calling you before marriage to greater intimacy with Himself.

E. CONCLUSION

There are many valid reasons for you to say “NO” to premarital sex. God really is acting in love when He commands that sex be enjoyed in the bonds of marriage only.

This is a message of prevention for those who are virgins. God loves you and wants to protect you from entering into the damaging consequences of illicit sex.

On the other hand, I know there may be some for whom this message is too late–you have lost your virginity, you are loaded down with guilt, you know what I have been saying is true. What can you do? You do as I had to do because the message I’m sharing with you was too late for me also.

Run to Jesus! You cannot undo what you have done, but you can be forgiven. God will lay down all charges against you if you repent and seek his forgiveness. The biblical message for all Christians who sin is I John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”.

You can be forgiven today. If the Lord has convicted you about sexual sin in your life, respond to him.

1. Do you want sex at its best?

blue-arrow-small Wait for the sexual relationship until marriage.

blue-arrow-small  If that is too late, confess your sin and abstain from sexual relationships until marriage.

blue-arrow-small Be faithful in marriage.

blue-arrow-small Homosexual thoughts and practice are not consistent with biblical revelation of sex in Scripture.

The story is told of Alexander the Great who was reviewing his troops after a fierce battle. He encountered one of his captains disciplining a soldier for being a coward. Alexander approached.

“What is your name, soldier?” he asked.

“Alexander,” replied the soldier.

“What?” exclaimed Alexander the Great.

“Sir, my name is Alexander!” said the soldier.

Trembling with rage, Alexander the Great yelled, “Soldier, either change your ways, or change your name” (Haffner 1989:91).

As soldiers in Christ’s army, we must stop acting cowardly in the face of sexual temptation, or we should change our name—which will have eternal consequences. In this sexually perverted generation, the words of I Corinthians 4:20: come thundering through: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Change your ways or change your name.

As noted in this article, there is a radical difference between a secular approach to the research of homosexuality and the biblical diagnosis of the condition and its treatment.

See also: Why is the Mass Media Promoting ‘Gay Rights’? – YouTube

Works consulted

Bell, A P, Weinberg M S & Hammersmith, S K 1981. Sexual preference: Its development in men and women. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Blanchard, R & Zucker K J 1994. Reanalysis of Bell, Weinberg, and Hammersmith’s data on birth order, sibling sex ratio, and parental age in homosexual men. American Journal of Psychiatry, September 15(9), 1375-1376. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8067496 (Accessed 10 July 2015).[28]

Comiskey, A 1988. Pursuing sexual wholeness (Guide). Santa Monica, California: Desert Stream Ministries. [You can read Andrew Comiskey’s blog at: http://andrewcomiskey.com/].

Comiskey, A 1989. Pursuing sexual wholeness: How Jesus heals the homosexual. Lake Mary, Florida: Creation House.

Haffner, A 1989. The high cost of free love. San Bernardino, CA: Here’s Life Publishers.

Howard, J 1991. Out of Egypt: Leaving lesbianism behind. Eastbourne: Monarch.

LeVay, S 1991. A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men. Science 253, August 30: 1034-1037.

Malcohn, E 2014. Review of Gay, straight, and the reason why: The science of sexual orientation by Simon LeVay (online). PsychCentral, available at: http://psychcentral.com/lib/gay-straight-and-the-reason-why-the-science-of-sexual-orientation/0005404 (Accessed 17 April 2014).

Remsberg, C & B 1977. The case against living together. Seventeen, November, 132-3, 162-3.[29]

Rice, W R, Friberg, U, & Gavrilets, S 2012. Homosexuality as a consequence of epigenetically canalized sexual development. The Quarterly Review of Biology (online), 87(4), December, 343-368.[30] The University of Chicago Press. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/668167 (Accessed 10 July 2015).

Strong, A 1907. Systematic theology, 3 vols in 1. Philadelphia: The Judson Press.

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Whitehead, N E & B K 2013. My genes made me do it! Homosexuality and the scientific evidence (online), 3rd ed. New Zealand: Whitehead Associates. Available at: http://www.mygenes.co.nz/ (Accessed 10 July 2015)

Worthen, F 1991. Helping people step out of homosexuality. Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature Inc.

Zetlan, S n d. LeVay critique: Neuroscience or nonsense (online). Women’s Studies Program. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin. Available at: http://mith.umd.edu/WomensStudies/ReadingRoom/AcademicPapers/levay-critique (Accessed 17 April 2014).

Notes:


[1] Justin Lee 2014. Justin’s view, Homosexuality & Christianity, The Gay Christian Network (online). Available at: https://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php (Accessed 17 April 2014, emphasis in original).

[2] Current students, University of Western Australia 2012. Sexuality definitions (online), 15 May. Available at: http://www.student.uwa.edu.au/life/health/fit/share/sexuality/definitions (Accessed 17 April 2014).

[3] See The 700 Club 2014. Ex-gay encourages the church to welcome the sexually broken, The Christian Broadcasting Network (online), Available at: http://www.cbn.com/700club/guests/bios/andrew_comiskey_082504.aspx (Accessed 17 April 2014).

[4] The NIV footnote here was, ‘Probable reading of the original Hebrew text (see Syriac); Masoretic Text the earth’.

[5] The ESV footnote here was, ‘Hebrew built’.

[6] This citation is from Strong (1907:585).

[7] The following is based on Comiskey (1989:43).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid., p. 44.

[12] Or ‘wrongdoers’ (ESV footnote).

[13] ‘The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts’ (ESV footnote).

[14] For discussion on the origin of this phrase, see The Phrase Finder, available at: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/there-but-for-the-grace-of-god.html (Accessed 16 April 2014).

[15] For an assessment of the research, see Zetlan (n.d.)

[16] Malcohn stated, ‘LeVay, who is gay himself’ (Malcohn 2014).

[17] I was not able to locate the article online on 16 April 2014.

[18] p. 319, in Worthen (1991:7).

[19] Ibid. p. 320, in Worthen (1991:7).

[20] Worthen (1991:8).

[21] Ibid.

[22] This section is based on Comiskey (1988).

[23] This is based on Worthen (1991:142-147).

[24] Worthen (1991:143).

[25] Ibid., p. 146.

[26] Psychology Today, July/August 1988. Also available at, ‘Sociological reasons not to live together ‘, from All About Cohabiting Before Marriage. Available at: http://www.leaderu.com/critical/cohabitation-socio.html (Accessed 16 April 2014).

[27]Ibid., 34.

[28] This online reference only provides an abstract of this research.

[29] Some of this material is available online at the University of Alberta, in Paul Flaman’s ‘Chapter 7: Some contemporary arguments for premarital sexual intercourse and responses’, 1999. Available at: http://www.ualberta.ca/~pflaman/PSAL/Ch7.pdf (Accessed 16 April 2014).

[30] The online edition of the article had no pages indicated.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

Cakes, lesbians and Christianity

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Image result for wedding cake public domain

(courtesy public domain)

By Spencer D Gear

This article has nothing to do with the constitutional rights of USA citizens but is to address whether the ‘Sweet Cakes’ case presents the only Christian response.

The battle over cakes for lesbian weddings

There has been a long running battle in Gresham, Oregon (with implications across the USA) over a cake shop that refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding. The couple who own ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa’, Aaron & Melissa Klein, are Christians and cited their Christian convictions to support what they did in refusing to make thecake.

This is the outcome, as reported in The Oregonian, July 02, 2015:

The owners of a shuttered Gresham bakery must pay $135,000 in damages to a lesbian couple for refusing to make them a wedding cake, the state’s top labor official said Thursday.

State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian ordered Aaron and Melissa Klein to pay the women for emotional and mental suffering that resulted from the denial of service. The Kleins had cited their Christian beliefs against same-sex marriage in refusing to make the cake.

Avakian’s ruling upheld a preliminary finding earlier this year that the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, had discriminated against the Portland couple on the basis of their sexual orientation.

The case ignited a long-running skirmish in the nation’s culture wars, pitting civil rights advocates against religious freedom proponents who argued business owners should have the right to refuse services for gay and lesbian weddings.

Avakian’s final order makes clear that serving potential customers equally trumps the Kleins’ religious beliefs. Under Oregon law, businesses cannot discriminate or refuse service based on sexual orientation, just as they cannot turn customers away because of race, sex, disability, age or religion, the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said in a news release.

“This case is not about a wedding cake or a marriage,” Avakian wrote. “It is about a business’s refusal to serve someone because of their sexual orientation. Under Oregon law, that is illegal.

“Within Oregon’s public accommodations law is the basic principle of human decency that every person, regardless of their sexual orientation, has the freedom to fully participate in society. The ability to enter public places, to shop, to dine, to move about unfettered by bigotry” (Rede 2015).

This article, ‘Sweet Cakes owners respond to firestorm over wedding cake decision’ (Kopta 2013), indicated that the Klein’s business, ‘Sweet cakes by Melissa’, has closed its shop in Gresham OR and is operating from the couple’s house. The website indicates it is now called, ‘Sweet Cakes’.

Image result for wedding public domain

(public domain)

A different Christian approach

I am sympathetic to the stand that the Kleins have taken, based on the media evidence available to me. I think I understand why they did it (even though I’m an Aussie, my family and I have lived for 7 years in the USA and Canada). I take a different perspective to that of the Kleins of ‘Sweet Cakes’ in my response. Here is my thinking.

If I were running an automotive and industrial spare parts’ business and a lesbian couple came in and wanted parts for their motor vehicle, I would be faced with a normal sales pitch. I would sell them the parts. Before I sold them, I would not ask about their sexual relationship because helping with the fixing of the vehicle is not an endorsement of the homosexual relationship. To be honest, my asking about the sexuality of the relationship is irrelevant when selling car parts to them. I would not be checking if the car was being used for their lesbian wedding. Even if I knew that were the case, I would still sell them the spare parts because that would be a business decision that had nothing to do with sexual behaviour.

The cake shop, just like a florist business, that sells all kinds of items to all kinds of people for a wedding should not be dealing with the sexual relationship. The cake shop is selling cakes to whomever – all people in the community – including homosexuals, adulterers, promiscuous sex addicts, murderers, thieves, good living people, etc. The cake shop’s business is to sell cakes, without asking about their morality. That’s a non-issue when selling cakes, is my view.

Marrying them is another issue

When it comes to marrying the couple, we are in a different league as homosexual marriage is clearly endorsing homosexuality if the celebrant marries such people. It then does become a moral issue. As a marriage celebrant, I would refuse to marry them because of my being convinced from Scripture that homosexuality is wrong and I should not be sanctioning it through celebrating a homosexual marriage.

I see a difference between doing business with homosexuals – which all businesses should want to do – and advocating for homosexuality through a church minister or civil celebrant conducting a homosexual marriage.

Biblical reasons against homosexual marriage

Image result for wedding public domain

(public domain)

These are the biblical reasons against homosexuality that flow on to homosexual marriage:

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Take a read of Leviticus 18:22 (NLT): ‘Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin’. So the Old Testament law identifies the practice of homosexuality as committing a detestable sin. No genuine Christian should want to promote such a view.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Romans 1:26-27 (NLT) puts homosexual actions into the category of shameful desires and those who practised them suffered the penalty before God that they deserved. They were the actions of men and women who burned with lustful desires: ‘That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved’.

blue-corrosion-arrow-small Where will these unrighteous sinners be with God at death? The sin of homosexuality is among a list of other sins. First Corinthians 6:9-10 (NLT) is very clear: ‘Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God’. Those who practice homosexuality and these other sins will not inherit God’s kingdom. By inference, they will go to the other kingdom – of darkness and of Satan.

So the Bible is crystal clear that those who have homosexual, lustful desires and who practise homosexual acts, practise detestable sin, have shameful desires, and will not inherit God’s kingdom. There does not have to be a statement in the Bible, ‘Thou shalt not practise homosexual marriage’, because Scripture is clear that homosexual desires and practice involve practising sin that, if not forgiven, prevent one from entering God’s kingdom. Thus, homosexual marriage is always against God’s will because it involves sinful thoughts and actions of homosexual sin.

There’s a further reason: God’s view of marriage

God’s view is in support of heterosexual relationships that lead to marriage. This is seen in the ‘one flesh’ heterosexual relationship that is stated in the Old and New Testaments:

designBlue-small Genesis 2:24 (NLT): ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one’. Thus, the one flesh relationship (probably referring to sexual intercourse) is between a man and his wife, i.e. between a man and a woman. Heterosexuality is God’s order and not homosexuality or bisexuality.

designBlue-small Jesus repeated the same teaching in Matthew 19:5 (NLT), ‘And he said, “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one”’.

designBlue-small The apostle Paul affirmed the same message in Ephesians 5:31 (NLT, ‘As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one”’.

I recommend the article from the Got Questions? site, What is a Christian definition of when marriage begins?

See my articles:

Conclusion

Image result for wedding public domain

(public domain)

These are just some thoughts from a Christian who is in the process of growing in Christ and who does not endorse the Christian view taken by the ‘Sweet Cakes’ owners.

The view adopted here is that Christians in business sell to whoever wants to purchase their products. No business that seeks to make a profit from sales needs to ask questions such as: Are you an adulterer, paedophile, homosexual, prostitute or promiscuous sexual addict? That question does not relate to selling car parts, burgers, furniture or cakes.

However, it does become an issue when a marriage celebrant or Christian minister is required to perform weddings of homosexuals. That would be endorsing sinful homosexual behaviour (from a biblical perspective) and should not be promoted – as I, a Christian, understand the Christian view from Scripture and conscience. It would be a matter of conscience and Christian conviction at that point and I would refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony for homosexual marriage.

Works consulted

Kopta, C 2013. Sweet Cakes owners respond to firestorm over wedding cake decision. Investigators 2, KATU News, September 2. Available at: http://www.katu.com/news/investigators/Sweet-Cakes-responds-to–222094901.html (Accessed 9 July 2015).

Rede, G 2015. Sweet Cakes: State orders Oregon bakery owners to pay $135,000 for denying service to same-sex couple. The Oregonian (OregonLive), 02 July. Available at: http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2015/07/sweet_cakes_state_orders_orego.html#comments (Accessed 9 July 2015).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Is the house church a better alternative?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

clip_image002
Frank Viola & George Barna
(courtesy ‘Beyond Evangelical‘)

clip_image003

(courtesy TOUCH)

By Spencer D Gear

Some people are growing tired of the traditional church – even the evangelical church. It doesn’t matter how contemporary or traditional it may be, there is something wrong with how the church functions. How do I know? Take a read of what happened with the first century church. These are some samples:

designRed-small  According to the Book of Acts, church gatherings were held in people’s houses. See: Acts 2:42; 5:42; 20:20.

designRed-small We know that there were church gatherings in the houses of John’s mother (Acts 12:12), Lydia (Acts 16:40), Priscilla and Aquilla (Rom 16:3-5; 1 Cor 16:19), Gaius (Rom 16:23), Nympha (Col 4:15), and Philemon (Philem 2).

designRed-small  How to better care for one another (John 13:34-35; 15:12; Gal 5:22; 6:2; Phil 2:4; 1 Thess 5:11; 1 John 4:7-10; 2 Pet 1:5-7);

designRed-small  Everyone is a minister (1 Cor 14:26). All Bible references above are from the New Living Translation.

You do not need to be a genius

You do not need to be a whiz kid to know that the above emphasis is not what is happening in the contemporary church. It may be a:

Image result for traditional church public domain(public domain)

golden foward button Traditional church;

golden foward button Contemporary church;

golden foward button Seeker-sensitive church;

golden foward button Millennials[1] and church.

golden foward button Crawling and barking like a dog. See the ‘Crazy dog man’ behaviour of the Toronto Blessing on YouTube.

Something is going wrong that is causing the church to not function like the first century church. Have you ever stopped to compare the function of a 21st century pastor with a pastor in the first century church? What causes the distinct difference? ‘What has gone wrong with my church?’ is the very question asked in an article in Perspective magazine. But that was back in 1999. It is no better in 2015.

Expositions on the house church

There is a way to get back on track through a return to the church in the house, open fellowship, and all believers encouraged to minister when the group gathers.

There are four authors I’d recommend, the most structured being a former Southern Baptist, Ralph Neighbour, who has written extensively on the cell church movement. He has been active in cell church planting and helping traditional churches transition to the cell church. See his book, Where Do We Go From Here? This is the best material I’ve read for a more organised cell church. His organisation is TOUCH Ministries International.  You can interact with Ralph on this website.

Some more radical house church leaders are:

snowflake-red-smallGene Edwards, How To Meet. Sargent, GA: Message Ministry. See: ‘Gene Edwards – The Organic Church‘;

snowflake-red-small Frank Viola. His blog is called, ‘Beyond Evangelical‘.

snowflake-red-small Jon Zens, ‘Building Up the Body – One Man or One Another?

snowflake-red-small Why don’t you take a listen to the YouTube video, ‘The Cell Church – a Revolution in Ministry‘?

Some of my brief articles

I sit in my traditional church week after week and am not allowed to function in my gifts because of the non-interactive, traditional format. I’ve written a little on this topic on ‘Truth Challenge’, my homepage. Here are a few articles (there will be some overlap) and each has a bibliography at the end of the article or in the endnotes.

There’s considerable criticisms of Gene Edwards’ approach on the Internet. You can search for them.

In my region, an evangelical friend has been to a local house church where there was no structure and people were not very committed. They would not show up on time. The other one I visited is the one I wrote about in ‘Charismatic chaos in a Brisbane house church‘.

Husband and wife united in purpose

I would love to start a house church in our house but the house is too small. My wife loves the Lord deeply but she is not ready to leave the traditional church where she plays piano in the musical team. Even though I’m not a TULIP Calvinist, we attend a local evangelical – and very traditional – Presbyterian church where there is outstanding expository preaching. Sadly, the every-member ministry gifts are suppressed.

I live in tension between what I would like to do according to the biblical mandate and what is currently available in my region.

Notes


[1] Millennials were born after 1980.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Spiritual gifts sign of Christian maturity

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Image result for question marks public domain

By Spencer D Gear

Have you ever heard Christians say things like: (1) I’m not interested in those Pentecostal-charismatics because all I hear when I enter their meetings is that hokus pokus of raving on in that tongues nonsense. (2) Those Pentecostals are into gibberish and I want nothing to do with that subjective garbage. (3) I’ve moved beyond that immature stuff to grown-up Christianity.

As John MacArthur began his exposition of 1 Corinthians 14, he stated:

I was listening to a well-known charismatic preacher this week who was saying that to receive the Spirit of God, you must receive, you must receive tongues. And he was saying, “It isn’t like you’re seeking tongues. It’s that you’re seeking this fullness of the Spirit, and tongues comes with it.” And he said, “The way to illustrate this,” and it was interesting because he didn’t really use Scripture, but he said is, “When you go to a shoe store, and you look in the window, you don’t say, ‘I’d like to buy those tongues.’ You just want to buy those shoes, and the tongues come with them.” And so he was saying that, “What you really want is to buy or to purchase or to gain the power of the Spirit of God, your spiritual walking shoes, and tongues come along with them” (MacArthur 1977).

John MacArthur (public domain)

MacArthur then gets into what he thinks is an elevation of spiritual superiority among charismatics. He wrote (remember that this is back in 1977 when he preached on this):

‘Well, what happens in this thing is you divide the church into the spiritual haves and the spiritual have-nots.  And this is the tragedy of the thing; the haves cannot help but feel a sense of superiority over the have-nots.  It’s just kind of built in.  And even though they may resist it and fight it and some may succeed, the vast majority of folks cannot help but feel that everybody else is missing something that they’re not missing.  I guess I would have to say that I’m among the have-nots, and even once in a while, I get a little intimidated about that.  But I’ve wondered if the intimidation doesn’t even reach right into the charismatic ranks.  I’m afraid that maybe some of them are intimidated.  Some of them perhaps tempted to exaggerate or dramatize or fabricate miracles because of peer pressure or the desire to also belong in the group that’s sharing rather strange and bizarre things’ (MacArthur 1977).

Miracles, tongues and spiritual maturity

Image result for charismatic worship public domain

Rev Frank Hughes Jr (public domain)

I met some of MacArthur’s kind of sentiments on a Christian forum in 2015. I had been defending a continuation of gifts of the Spirit for today and stated that in church gatherings I have heard the genuine gift of tongues with the required accompanying gift of interpretation. I have been edified and to call it ‘mad raving babbling’ is insulting to those whom God uses to manifest the genuine gifts of tongues and interpretation.

The biblical mandate is: (1) ‘Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy’ (1 Cor 14:5 ESV). (2) ‘So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order’ (1 Cor 14:39-49 ESV).[1]

I asked another person, ‘So was Paul contradicting himself because he also said: ‘Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy’ (1 Cor 14:5 ESV)?’[2] His response was, ‘Not at all. He was speaking to the Corinthians. He said, “I want you all’.[3] Then he went on to say that ‘Not at all. He was speaking to the Corinthians. He said, “I want you all”’.[4]

After this kind of interaction I encountered the reaction regarding

The test of spiritual maturity

He wrote:

It was not my intention to say that miracles indicate poor spiritual maturity.  It is my intention to say that miracles or tongues are not a test of strong spiritual maturity.  My point is that there is nothing in the Scriptures that indicate these gifts have anything to do with maturity.  If anything, Paul says these gifts do not aid in the maturity or building up of others.  This is why he encouraged prophesy.  So again, I am not saying these gifts are a sign of immaturity (if they are legitimately taking place today), but I just don’t see any evidence that they have anything to do with maturity.  That is the claim many Charismatics often make and I find it to be entirely baseless.  This brings me to a couple thoughts about these gifts:[5]

My retort[6] was that I did not know why he placed this emphasis on maturity vs immaturity when God has clearly told us this about the spiritual gifts: ‘All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills’ (1 Cor 12:11 ESV). Are we open to the Holy Spirit giving us the full range of charismata that the Spirit gives? His general emphasis in his post indicates that he is not interested in the gift of tongues being manifest by the Spirit in his life. Have I gained a correct understanding of your view?

It’s not a matter of maturity vs immaturity. It’s based on a biblical, spiritual answer to this question: Am I open to the Holy Spirit apportioning to me whatever gifts he chooses, including tongues and interpretation? I’m not hearing that he is open to the latter. He continued:

There is no indication in the NT that miracles or tongues were gifts that were given for those who sought them passionately enough.  In fact, we see tongues simply falling on people without any coaching, expectation or desire for this gift.  To say that someone does not have the gift because they don’t seek it enough tor because they do not have enough faith (which is a constant theme in charismatic circles I am aware of) finds no validation in Scripture whatsoever.  Yes, Paul wished that they all spoke in tongues, but he preferred they all prophesy.  So why are we so focused on tongues as such a meaningful gift when Paul not only indicates that not all would have this gift, but that there are other gifts to be much preferred.  Again, Paul makes it clear that not all have the gift of tongues.  And we see from the issues in the Corinthian church, that tongues is certainly not a barometer for  one’s spiritual maturity.  If anything, it has nothing to do whatsoever with maturity or faith.  I find no basis in the argument that all Christians should have a “prayer language” or should seek to speak in tongues.[7]

This is not so.[8] First Corinthians 14:1 (ESV) makes it very clear that spiritual gifts (a range has been given in 1 Cor 12-14) must be desired: ‘Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophecy’.

I am not here to validate what he considers is ‘a constant theme in charismatic circles’. When does he visit charismatic churches? How many has he attended in the last 12 months?

I’m here to discuss what the Scriptures state and I’m hearing from him a denigration of the scriptural gifts, especially of tongues. Tongues fell on people on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) but we have a different manner of manifestation given in 1 Cor 12-14 where there ‘are varieties of gifts’ (1 Cor 12:4 ESV) manifest in the local church. Speaking of the range of the gifts of the Spirit (including tongues and interpretation), Paul stated, ‘All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills’ (1 Cor 12:11 ESV). Someone does not have the gift because God has not given it to that person. However, his opposition to these supernatural gifts is a fair indication that he is providing a block in his own life that prevents such manifestations coming through him. Paul’s command to us is: ‘Earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues‘ (1 Cor 14:39 ESV).

There is no such coaching for spiritual gifts but I tell you what is needed more and that is careful exegesis of the text and exposition of passages such as 1 Cor 12-14.

He says, ‘So why are we so focused on tongues as such a meaningful gift when Paul not only indicates that not all would have this gift, but that there are other gifts to be much preferred’. Simply put, ‘One who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God’, uttering ‘mysteries in the Spirit’ (1 Cor 14:2 ESV). Surely everyone should want to speak to God in the Spirit? Well, I do. I praise God using the gift of tongues when he gives it to me. Non-charismatic churches will not allow me to do that, so I do it in my prayer time at home. ‘The one who prophecies [another spiritual gift given by the Spirit] speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation’ (1 Cor 14:3 ESV). So the gift of prophecy is clearly a manifestation among the people of God for spiritual edification. This is surely not to call such people immature but is to ‘build up the church’ (1 Cor 14:4 ESV). What does the person do who speaks in tongues? He or she ‘builds up himself/herself’ (1 Cor 14:4), which is not an egotistical ministry but one that is perfectly legitimate according to Paul.

He states, ‘And we see from the issues in the Corinthian church, that tongues is certainly not a barometer for  one’s spiritual maturity.  If anything, it has nothing to do whatsoever with maturity or faith.’ That’s his perspective. It’s not what 1 Corinthians teaches. It teaches that what was happening in Corinth was disorder (which is also in some charismatic-Pentecostal churches in my region) and they needed to get back to this emphasis: ‘But all things should be done decently and in order’ (1 Cor 14:40 ESV). That emphasis is one that should be taught to many in the charismatic-Pentecostal ranks. But the problem is not with the nature of tongues and interpretation, but with how they are being exercised in the church. Extreme examples should not deter us from biblical emphases. I don’t allow the Mormon view of prophecy to interfere with a biblical understanding of prophecy.

He said of the gift of tongues: ‘If anything, it has nothing to do whatsoever with maturity or faith.  I find no basis in the argument that all Christians should have a “prayer language” or should seek to speak in tongues’. His is not a biblical emphasis. Speaking in tongues has everything to do with maturity or faith because when a person has the genuine gift of tongues, he or she ‘speaks not to men but to God’ (1 Cor 14:2 ESV). Is that what he wants to do – speak to God?

He could possibly respond, ‘But I can do that in English’. He can, but the Holy Spirit comes upon people with the gift of tongues so that they speak to God through ‘mysteries in the Spirit’ (1 Cor 14:2). I never knew anything about such an understanding when I was a cessationist Baptist who did not believe in the charismata, including tongues and interpretation. That changed drastically for me in the early 1970s when God came upon me through a genuine manifestation of the gift of tongues where I was able to speak to God in a way that brought edification that I previously did not know.

Why are tongues and miracles not in every church?

He continues:

You still did not answer the question about your view on tongues and miracles.  If these gifts exist for the purpose of building up the local body, as you assert, why do we not see them in every local body?  Does God not want most churches to be edified?  Isn’t it the Spirit who gives these gifts freely?  Why is it that only those congregations that are coached to expect and desire these manifestations have them when this is not what we see in the NT?  Again, I am not going to try to discount any supposed prophet and his miracles.  I don’t know the man and I am not in a position to claim you or this prophet are being false.  I just simply think that if these gifts are for the purpose of the body being built up and not functional (they have a very specific function and should not be expected as a regular part of the Christian experience) then we should see them in most churches…and not just hear about them in remote places as very unusual circumstances.[9]

I think he should now have some understanding of my view on tongues. However, why are these gifts not in every local body? Simply put, if tongues were to be manifest in the evangelical Presbyterian Church my wife and I currently attend, the person would be quickly ushered out of this cessationist church by the elders. It would cause such a ruckus that the person would be told never ever to engage in that kind of thing again. Frankly, it is NOT WANTED so it is never likely to happen in that church. I’m of the view that the Holy Spirit’s ministry is frustrated, even grieved or blasphemed, when something like this happens. So, people who are open to the full range of gifts of the Spirit go to charismatic-Pentecostal churches where they will have the opportunity for the Spirit’s manifestation through the gifts.

(public domain)

I think he is excessively harsh with his statement: ‘Why is it that only those congregations that are coached to expect and desire these manifestations have them when this is not what we see in the NT’? That might be what he has seen or heard about in his region, but I have never ever been part of a charismatic-Pentecostal church that has engaged in ‘coaching’ (I find that to be pejorative language). I have been part of churches that have pursued the biblical mandate, ‘Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts…. Do not forbid speaking in tongues’ (1 Cor 14:1, 40 ESV).

He will not see the gifts in churches that are denying that these supernatural charismata should be happening. I know from personal experience that cessationist churches would censor a person who wants the supernatural gifts to function. I attend a mid-week Bible study of another denomination and the pastor has come from a South African Pentecostal denomination. He has been told by the denominational leaders here in Australia that he MUST NOT ALLOW THE SPIRITUAL GIFTS – especially tongues – TO HAPPEN IN THAT CHURCH.

Tongues as ‘ecstatic utterances’

This forum poster wanted to place tongues with ‘ecstatic utterances’.

You also did not answer my question as to your Scriptural validation that tongues is merely an ecstatic utterance and not a miraculous speaking in another human language. If tongues does exist today, I am still not convinced that what is happening in most charismatic circles meets the NT definition of this gift.[10]

I’ll start with his last comment. What I have seen in some charismatic-Pentecostal churches (not all of them that I have attended) is not consistent with the biblical manifestation of tongues and interpretation. For example, if tongues are manifest (aloud so all can hear) in a congregation, there MUST BE the accompanying gift of interpretation. Otherwise, ‘I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me’ (1 Cor 14:11 ESV). The biblical emphasis with the gifts is to ‘strive to excel in building up the church’ (1 Cor 14:12 ESV). That means there must be intelligibility – English in Australia, Spanish in Spain, Arabic in Saudi Arabia, etc. ‘Building up the church’ is a ministry of edification. Surely that cannot be described as an immature ministry!!!

I would not use the language that tongues is ‘an ecstatic utterance’ because that is not a biblical emphasis. Tongues is a divine gift of the Spirit that needs the accompanying gift of interpretation.

Tongues may be a miraculous gift in another human language, but who am I to tell God what he should do when he gives the gift of tongues? He has told us what he does: The one speaking with the Spirit’s gift of tongues – given in love – ‘utters mysteries in the Spirit’. I would never ever be so brazen as to tell God that he MUST DO IT with human languages that are spoken on this earth? I would be foolish to tell the omnipotent Trinitarian God what he must do to satisfy my inability to understand all he does through ‘mysteries in the Spirit’.

For this I pray that it will happen in more and more churches: ‘When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up’ (I Cor 14:26 ESV). One of the great tragedies of the contemporary church is that the people of God are convinced that only a handful of people – pastors, elders, teachers, etc – have gifts and most of God’s people are not allowed to function when the church gathers.

‘Crazy dog’ behaviour

I can understand some of the objections to charismatic excesses. See an example of the ‘Crazy dog man’ behaviour of the Toronto Blessing on YouTube. This pandemonium is not only shameful, but in direct conflict with the exhortation of Scripture – in the context of teaching on the gifts: ‘But be sure that everything is done properly and in order’ (1 Cor 14:40 NLT).

Further assistance

designQuiltsmall You might be interested in my explanation of a bad experience I had in a charismatic house church. See: Charismatic chaos in a Brisbane house church.

designQuiltsmall Gift of tongues is gibberish?

designQuiltsmall Does the superiority of New Testament revelation exclude the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit? Is cessationism biblical?

designQuiltsmall Can cessationism be supported by Scripture and church history?

 

Works consulted

MacArthur, J 1977. Where does the Bible end? Part 1, February 13. Grace to You. Available at: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/1364/where-does-the-bible-end-part-1 (Accessed 1 July 2015).

Notes


[1] OzSpen#9, Christianity Board, Christian Theology Forum, ‘The Administration of Tongues’, 19 June 2015. Available at: http://www.christianityboard.com/topic/21597-the-administration-of-tongues/ (Accessed 1 July 2015).

[2] Ibid., OzSpen#10.

[3] Ibid., Butch5#12

[4] Ibid., Butch5#13.

[5] Ibid., Wormwood#59.

[6] Ibid., OzSpen#61.

[7] Ibid., Wormwood #59.

[8] Ibid., OzSpen#61.

[9] Ibid., Wormwood#59.

[10] Ibid., Wormwood#59.

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 8 June 2016.