I linked to the three blog posts you will read about in this post by hopping over to Twenty-Two Words. I was intrigued by Piper’s title: Imagine What it’s Like to be Both Homosexual and Christian Before Offering a Fix. Well, most of us will probably say: I’ve never thought of it that way. I don’t think Piper is saying we should sit back on our comfortably Christian couches and fantasize about homosexual acts. I do think what he is saying is: How do you live, knowing you are a sinner who struggles with your own pet issue, and a Christian too? How do you live with the contradiction? How do you live as a hyphenated Christian? How do you live with the paradox? At minimum, Piper is suggesting that such a paradox is possible in the church. On this point, I believe he is correct.

Do you ask people for solutions to your voyeurism? Do you ask people for solutions to your alcoholism? Do you ask people for solutions to your pride? Do you ask people for solutions to your lust? Do you ask people for solutions to your anger? Your hatred? Your racism? Your greed? Your gluttony? And when you get answers, do you take offense at the happy, Sunday-School, answers that sound something like: “Oh, just look to Jesus and it will all go away. Then you will be all better.” If you don’t, I think you should. The struggle goes much deeper and oftentimes we are ‘out in the wilderness’ facing the devil. The nights are long; the food scarce; the temptations great. Jesus is the right direction, but sometimes we cry, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachtani.” Sometimes we are frightfully alone.

_______________________________

Imagine what it’s like to be both racist and a Christian before offering a fix to a racist. Imagine what it’s like to be both greedy and a Christian before offering a fix to a greedy person. Imagine what it’s like to be both egomaniac and Christian before offering a fix to an arrogant person. Imagine, if you dare, replacing the word ‘homosexual’ with ‘adulterer’ or ‘drug addict’ or ‘compulsive gambler.’ However, this may not do. Misty Irons writes:

But the downside of “homosexuality is just like any other sin” is that this naturally leads people to say to someone like Wesley, “Well then, why can’t you deal with your sin the way I do? Pray for victory, seek God’s face, put off the old man and put on the new. And why do you ‘need’ love from the church body over this? Isn’t the love of God in Christ sufficient for you? And aren’t you being defeatist by calling yourself a Homosexual Christian? I don’t identify with my sin by calling myself an Angry Christian or a Lying Christian.”

For this reason, I have never completely agreed with the “homosexuality is like any other sin” approach. Among those desires and compusions [sic.] that we call sin, I believe homosexuality belongs in a unique category of its own. And while it often helps to understand the involuntary nature of homosexual attraction by comparing it with lust, anger, covetousness, and so forth, at the same time it is critical to understand homosexuality as more a condition than merely a desire or compulsion. “Condition” as in: we are all born into this world in a fallen condition in Adam, which no human effort is going to alter prior to the bodily resurrection [sic.] (Misty Irons)

Do the patented, thoroughly biblical answers work? Is it enough to pray? Is it enough to seek God’s face? Is it enough to be caught up in worship? Does this make all the cares, worries, struggles, and fears go away? Does it end your loneliness? You know as well as I do that it ends them for a day or two or less and then you are right back at it again: lusting, drinking, watching; sinning. Tell me, how do we live in victory when we know we are habitual failures? Her solution?

If every straight person were to stop for five minutes and truly consider the extent to which their own heterosexual orientation has permeated every aspect of the way they have been thinking, feeling and relating to the world since the second grade, and then imagine what it would be like to struggle to suppress every aspect of their heterosexuality all day, every day for years on end, no one would be asking homosexuals questions like, “Why can’t you get a grip on your loneliness?” “Can’t you ever get over labeling yourself ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’?” “Why can’t you just turn to God for love?”

Instead more people would be saying, “Tell me what it’s like to be you.” “What can I do to help you make it through today?” “Do you have a free evening to go grab a burger with me?” (Misty Irons)

Yes, I wonder. As a heterosexual man, I find it terribly difficult to do the very thing she is saying we should do–the very thing ‘we’ ask homosexuals to do. (Confessional: Turn back now if you are into judgment.) I work-out at the gym and let me say that it is terribly difficult to suppress heterosexual feelings sometimes when certain women walk through or work-out. I love my wife passionately. We have a great sex life. Sometimes the eyes wander and the mind slips into neutral. And I am not living a celibate life; and I do not engage in extra-marital relationships (I don’t even talk to other women unless there are people around to participate and witness it). Nevertheless, I fail. Not physically, but I fail. Imagine the struggle, then, of the homosexual who is trying to do that very thing, that is, live celibate. Imagine that constant struggle, the constant temptation; and not the comfort of knowing the blessedness of marriage. I can’t imagine it. I have no solution.**

Irons wrote her piece either in response to a piece by Wesley Hill which was posted at Ransom Fellowship. Hill,* an admitted homosexual-Christian frankly tells of his ongoing struggle with homosexuality. He wrote:

I am drawn to these haunting confessions of Auden’s because I, too, am a homosexual Christian. Since puberty, I’ve been conscious of an exclusive attraction to persons of my own sex. Though I have never been in a gay relationship as Auden was, I have also never experienced the “healing” or transformation of my sexual orientation that some formerly gay Christians profess to have received. But I remain a Christian, a follower of Jesus. And, like Auden, I accept the Christian teaching that homosexuality is a tragic sign that things are “not the way they’re supposed to be.” Reading New Testament texts like Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 through the lens of time-honored Christian reflection on the meaning and purpose of marriage between a man and a woman, I find myself—much as I might wish things to be otherwise—compelled to abstain from homosexual practice.

As a result, I feel, more often than not, desperately lonely.

Imagine living in that tension. Imagine that struggle. Imagine it. Imagine that sort of loneliness. I can’t. I struggle with loneliness and I am married to the best girl on the planet. I cannot imagine it. In a rather poignant paragraph in his post, Hill wrote:

When I graduated from college, I had talked with no one else my age about my sexuality. One night shortly after graduation, sitting on the dirty carpeted floor of the bedroom of a dingy bachelor pad in a circle of guy friends, I came so close to breaking down and asking them for help and for prayer. A black light was glowing, incense was burning on a shelf, one of the guys was strumming a guitar, and we were shooting the breeze after a spaghetti dinner. Knees tucked under my chin, I listened as someone brought up the topic of homosexuality. I felt my heart start to pound and my palms grow sweaty. “Have any of you ever had a gay or lesbian friend?” he asked. Another one of the guys, Charlie, said yes, he had had a close friend in college who had wrestled with homosexuality. “He and I would go climbing together and talk about it,” Charlie said. “Mainly I listened. We would get excited when he hadn’t looked at porn for a day or two—or even just for several hours. And we would talk about the grace that God always held out to us because of Jesus.”

Imagine two things. One, imagine you belong to a church where there is enough love, compassion, and humility that such frank and honest discussions about one’s sins can be discussed (Paul said something about that in Galatians 6 and ‘bearing one another’s burdens.’) Two, imagine that you belonged to such a place where even the smallest victory was a reason to rejoice together in the Lord and the greatest failure was not enough to bring about judgment and condemnation (but did perhaps bring about more love and compassion and grace). OK, add a third, imagine you belonged to a church strong enough to delight in nothing more than the grace of God over all this. The church has forgotten that we rejoice together, we fail together, we are one Body. We have a long way to go as the church. Hill concludes:

In a recent reflection on contemporary society, novelist Marilynne Robinson posed the simple question: “will people shelter and nourish and humanize one another?” Read in light of the Christian Church’s relationship to its gay members, her question takes on an added poignancy. Will the Church shelter and nourish and humanize those who are deeply lonely and struggling desperately to remain faithful? (Wesley Hill)

Yes, will we?

______________________________

I’d like to offer a couple of concluding questions that will hopefully stimulate some healthy conversation about this particular topic.

First, what are we supposed to do as Christians? Can we change people? Is it our job to change people? Can the blind lead the blind? Can the sinner cure the sin? Or can we, or shouldn’t we, love people and let Jesus do the curing and healing? Isn’t it better to recognize that we are all sinners, all in the same boat, all helpless without Jesus? What becomes of me when I think that I can solve the sins of others with the same tactics that were used to solve mine (as if they are solved!)? Do we not all take different paths in Jesus before we are fully healed? Truth of the matter is this: We won’t be like him, no matter how healed we are in this life, until we see him (1 John 3:2).

Second, yes, the Bible says ‘repent’ and ‘leave your life of sin.’ (The Bible even says that ‘that is what some of you were’ with the meaning that ‘that is not what you are now.’) But ironically, or not, these commands are never rescinded. We are called to them over and over again every day. We are called to abandon the flesh every day: take up your cross, deny yourself, follow me. We win. We lose. We succeed. We fail.  Jesus is not so naive to think we will not fail. If he was, I suppose there would be no need for grace, would there? If Jesus commands me and you, people who are incapable of forgiving once, to forgive 70*7, do we think he does any less for the person who struggles to live in the paradox that is Romans 7:14-25? We are not Christian perfectionists if we believe in the Bible’s teachings about grace. I don’t believe Jesus expects us to be.

Third, can a person be a homosexual-Christian? Well, ask yourself: Can a person be a (___)-Christian? It’s not a matter of practice, but a matter of identifying our weakness and living by faith that God’s grace is sufficient even when we fail, and continue to fail over and over again, and precisely because we fail. The question is not ‘How much can I sin before I am no longer considered by God to be a Christian?’ The question is, ‘Will I continue to trust in Jesus, put my faith in Jesus, trust that His grace is sufficient even when I fail? Will I trust God to forgive me? Will I continue to seek His face?’ Frankly, I think it takes a great deal of courage to confess our sins and live by faith. It takes a great deal of honesty to come before the Lord day in and day out confessing sins. But you see, this is what Jesus said too, isn’t it? It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick (Mark 2:17). It was the man who hid his face and beat his breast that went home justified before God when he prayed (Luke 18:9-14). It was the blind man who had his eyes opened (John 9:41). I think if we are not hyphenated Christians then perhaps we are not Christians at all.

I don’t happen to believe we will ever escape the duel identity of sinner/saint until the day when Christ comes and renews all things. We will always be hyphenated Christians until we see Christ in his fullness and He changes us. So I don’t think the point is that we need to try to imagine what the other person is like before we try to offer up solutions or ‘fix’ them because I don’t happen to think we have the necessary skill set required (i.e. miraculous powers) to fix anyone in the first place. What we have is love. (Only love?) What we have is grace. So we don’t need to imagine anything at all; we shouldn’t offer up any short or long term fixes. What we must do is consider Christ crucified and what we, each one of us, struggles with on our own sin before the hyphen. Piper’s isn’t the worst idea, but I don’t think it is the best idea. Then again, he only had 22 words.

Self-examination goes a long way towards not only being able to love others, but also towards practicing continuously loving others. Jesus didn’t tell us to fix people. He told us to love people. We can point in the right direction, but it seems awfully presumptuous to think that we have the solution to anyone’s problems. Living with a hyphen is the Christian’s way of visibly living in and trusting in God’s all sufficient grace.

“Mainly I listened. We would get excited when he hadn’t looked at porn for a day or two—or even just for several hours. And we would talk about the grace that God always held out to us because of Jesus.”

jerry

lusting-christian

Between Two Worlds conversation thread. (I have not read this thread, so I have not referred to it in the post.)

HT: 22 Words

*I appreciate Wesley’s post very much. He has given me much to think about. Perhaps I have treated people in such a way that has been less than helpful. He has helped me realize how much I have yet to learn about how terribly difficult the world of following Jesus can be. It’s not as easy as some would have us think.

**Let’s not try to imagine how terrible jerry is for confessing this sin. I’m only using myself as an example. I have many other sins I could have included before the hyphen. You can imagine why I chose this one.

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This entry was posted on Monday, March 16th, 2009 at 5:05 pm and is filed under Theology, grace, sexuality. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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59 Comments(+Add)

1   nc    
March 16th, 2009 at 5:47 pm

Yikes…can’t wait to see if the self-appointed magisterium will try to crucify Piper along with Jesus…

2   nc    
March 16th, 2009 at 5:49 pm

yes, I know it’s “Abraham”…

“Happy” Camp already went after him for his “immaturity” a while ago…

3   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 16th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

To many so-called “mature” Christians, there is a huge disconnect between their ideals and faith in their theology and the reality that is out there in the real world.

Somehow I see that theology is not to be worshipped with the sacrifice of people… but that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling knowing that it is God doing the work in and through us.

The fear is the awe that somehow God still loves us and accepts us in spite of our sins… the trembling is the acknowledgement of God working in us to cleans us in spite of what we see in ourselves.

If many did not have the banner of sinner held over their head as they start living as New Creations, I think the Holy Spirit can do many miracles. WHen one finds their new identity lives are changed.

Yet, I see that at times the struggles we face, are often there to remind us of our humble state and dire need of a savior. Sometimes by falling, if we do not let condemnation attach itself to us, we can grow… the sad thing is that many Christians will condemn other when God states He does not.

iggy

4   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 16th, 2009 at 10:37 pm

Please present me with a Biblical list of the sins that must be totally forsaken beforee salvation, and which sins must be forsaken after salvation.

Greed, doublemindedness, doubt, hedonism, unforgiveness, etc., etc.. Oh, and homosexuality? No one is saved according to these “rules”.

5   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 4:43 am

The church continues to be doctrinally arrogant concerning certain sins, and being blind to their own litany of practicing transgressions many use homsexuality as a self righteous piñata. Paul’s self description as the “greatest of sinners” seems to fly in the face of the hierachy of sins theology (unless Paul was gay).

And without a shred of sympathy or understanding many “fundamentalists” revel in lashing out at the gay community. Showing a redemptive spirit to a homosexual seems to strike fear in the hearts of some saints who are both insecure in their own grace and worried about the judgment of others.

People who are born with same sex attractions are obviously conflicted about Christ since the church has so often presented Him as a wall rather than the Door. If a person cannot be saved unless he both recognizes every sin as sin and stops practicing those sins, then no one is saved. Every person who comments on this blog is blind to some of their own sins and continues to practice sin both unknowingly and knowingly.

If the gate called “Grace” is not wide enough for gay people who may never achieve victory then that gate must be called “Law”. If we must give up sins to gain grace then it countermands the core definition of grace. And if a professing believer must show signs of forsaking sins to be called genuine, please tell me how many and which sins can be identified as “threshold”. And also tell me who has the insight to accurately identify who is in and who is out.

It must really irritate the orthodox community when the offspring (Abraham Piper) of one of their heroes gets out of the theological barn and will not return. :cool:

6   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 7:41 am

QUESTIONS

1. Can a person with greed, believe on Jesus through the health and wealth movement, and make doctrinal room for his greed, and practice it and still be a Christian?

2. Can a sinner come to Christ while being a speeding driver and still speed and be a Christian?

3. Can a person who overeats and is overweight, come to Christ and still overeat and be a Christian?

4. Can a person who is lazy come to Christ and still be somewhat lazy and be a Christian?

5. Can a judgmental person come to Christ and still be judgmental and be a Christian?

And please note that in all 5 questions I presume the person still practices those things without any real spiritual disturbance or conviction.

6. Can a homosexual come to Christ and still practice homosexuality and be a Christian?

I have a one word answer for all those questions and that applies personally to all of us.

G R A C E

I would love to have rules and laws for everyone, and I would love to judge all who fall short of my template, and I would love to divide the sheep from the goats by my own perspective, I would love to do those things because it would satify my self righteous flesh. But everytime I begin to construct such a framework, grace tears it down.

7   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 7:55 am

As you can tell the gay issue is one about which the Holy Spirit has invaded my heart. But after reading my comments, I’ve discovered my problem.

“I need to find a more diluted definition of grace”.

Rick Frueh circa A.D. 2009

8   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 10:34 am

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig! If you are Irish you know what I mean.

9   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 17th, 2009 at 10:55 am

RF: Please present me with a Biblical list of the sins that must be totally forsaken beforee salvation, and which sins must be forsaken after salvation.

RA: Sins you must renounce before being accepted as a true, Bible-believing Christian:

1. You believe that Rick Warren is neither a heretic, nor a deceiver;

2. You think that the P.E.A.C.E. Plan by Warren might actually do some good in the world, and it’s not so horrific of a thing to feed some starving kid with someone who isn’t a Christian.

3. You voted for Barack Obama.

4. You said anything supportive of Obama.

5. You accept as godly various methods for teaching Biblical truth that are non-traditional, non-verse-by-verse methods.

That’s a good start, although I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention listening to the “devil’s music” (feel free to define that any way you like with whatever genre happens to make you uncomfortable).

Richard Abanes

10   John Hughes    
March 17th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Rick,

I agree with the tenor of your posts on this topic, but what do we do with these Scriptures. Serious question. These have to mean **something**.

1 Cor 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

1 John 3:7-9 – Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

What do they mean and what do they not mean?

Who is deceiving and what is the content of their deceit?

Again, serious questions and I am open to discussion.

11   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 1:48 pm

John – I am suggesting that some gay sinners have their lives changed by CHrist in many substantive ways, but remain deceived concerning their undeniable attraction to the same sex. I believe those verses suggest that anyone who is not changed in some way, have a suspicious salvation experience.

Almost all American Christians are covetous in some way, and everyone sins every day which would qualify as “practicing”. I believe that verse illustrates a sinner who sins with abandon and lives a life absent of righteousness.

12   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 17th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

1 John was written as a polemic against gnosticism, so when the author says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him” it’s refuting the gnostic claim that all flesh is inherently evil anything done in the flesh basically doesn’t matter. John is warning people to not be deceived by these lies.

If he was saying that Christians can’t sin or struggle with sin after their conversion, that would actually be contradicting what he wrote earlier in the book:

1 John 2:1-2
1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

As far as the list of vices in 1 Corinthians, I would say those all are people who make a willful choice to continue in a sinful lifestyle, not Christians struggling with sins in any of those areas. Or at least I hope, because I don’t know about you, but I certainly know plenty of Christians who struggle with things on that list.

13   thetemplate (Chris P)    
March 17th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Paul was accused of preaching licentiousness’ but in actualiity never did.
All of you however preach licentiousness.

You know neither the Word nor the power of it’s author. It is painfully obvious that the Holy Spirit is in short supply here.
But hey continue to “talmuddy” the waters.

As a rule of thumb,anyone who disagrees with RA is saved.

14   John Hughes    
March 17th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Phil: As far as the list of vices in 1 Corinthians, I would say those all are people who make a willful choice to continue in a sinful lifestyle, not Christians struggling with sins in any of those areas.

Interesting interpretation (in a sincere and good way — it’s hard to discern sarcasm sometimes). I will certainly think on that.

I pretty much agree with your 1 John assesment, but I want to key in on: “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; ”

I see this meaning there is a very real (i.e., not just symbolic) change in someone who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. If we can get away from the surface perfectionism argument the passage makes on face value can we agree there should be some change evident in a believer?

15   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
March 17th, 2009 at 2:12 pm

As far as the list of vices in 1 Corinthians, I would say those all are people who make a willful choice to continue in a sinful lifestyle, not Christians struggling with sins in any of those areas. Or at least I hope, because I don’t know about you, but I certainly know plenty of Christians who struggle with things on that list.

I think this is fair, and an accurate interpretation of what Paul wrote, and what I echoed in my post. Not to mention that Romans 7 plays an important role here too.

There is no denying that some remain in contradictory practice and there is no doubt that some misunderstand grace not being a license to sin, but rather being that which sustains us while we struggle to work it out with fear and trembling. I don’t think Wesley Hill falls into the category of belligerent rebel and I wrote my post thinking of his point of view.

jerry

16   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
March 17th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

John,

I think you are confusing the argument. No one here, and especially not my post, concerns those who live in open rebellion and refuse to submit to Scripture’s demands. If you read Hill’s post, you will see that he lives in submission to Christ. It is he that I am thinking of when I wrote my post. I think there is a difference and that is what Phil talks about in his reply.

Even though you are trying to ‘get away from the surface perfectionism’ you are actually not getting away from it at all. Experience teaches us that even those with the seed sin. So either our understanding of that passage is wrong, or no one is a Christian at all.

jerry

17   John Hughes    
March 17th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Rick: I believe those verses suggest that anyone who is not changed in some way, have a suspicious salvation experience.

I can go with that.

I have no problem with professed Christians who stumble and sin (even frequently) but who acknowledge their sin and at least experience an inner conflict. (I consider myself in this camp).

I have serious problems with professed Christians who participate in a clearly Biblical sin saying their particular sin is not sin and have no inner conviction or conflict. I again go back to the 1 John passage which descibes the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer.

To lie and expereince guilt and conviction is one thing. To say **my** lying is not sin is another. Fill in the blank with your besetting sin.

18   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 17th, 2009 at 2:27 pm

If we can get away from the surface perfectionism argument the passage makes on face value can we agree there should be some change evident in a believer?

Well, yes, I think that change naturally comes, but the issue is it is not really my place to demand this change in others. Whenever I see a biblical mandate about sin, my first thought should be “I need God to help me line my life up with this”, not “boy, these people sure need to change”. Making it about someone else always leads to hypocrisy.

I was actually just reading Brennan Manning again this morning, and he was talking about this very thing. The moment we start thinking we have reached a certain point or have confidence in ourselves, is the moment that we are ready for failure. We all have to remember how helpless we really are.

19   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I see the difference is between:

1. I have grace so therefor I can live how I want do do what I want.

2. Though I still sin, I see God’s grace sufficient for me.

It is the attitude that to me makes the difference.

Though I have great compassion for those in the gay lifestyle, I do not see it as an alternative “CHristian” lifestyle.

The verse in 1 John about the “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; ” to me has the other aspect most miss. As He abides in us and us in Him… meaning that as He lives in us, we are also placed in the Body of Jesus. Though the “Body” can mean “Church” I also see it literally in the sense we are immersed (baptised but not necessarily in water but by fire) in Christ Jesus who has no sin in Him… so if we are placed in Him… either then Jesus has sin in Him or as I believe… we also are then without sin as He is.

My heart does go out to those in the gay lifestyle… yet I also see that there is a sad thing happening. Instead of the truth of our new identity being taught and allowing the Holy Spirit, grow and teach the person… we use pastors, theological systems, self righteousness, ignorance, prejudice and on and on and in the end we all lose…

iggy

20   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

What would be the difference between a Christian who practices greed (sin) through the prosperity teaching and the Christian who practices homosexuality (sin) by being deceived about his attractions? How about the Christian who practices idolatry (sin) by elevating men like Calvin/Luther etc. to idolatrous status?

When a sinner becomes a believer his inside is inhabited by God’s Spirit. The sanctification process begins, but never reaches the end until death. If all that is required for salvation is to believe on Christ, a gay man can do that without any prerequisites concerning his future sanctification.

Paul makes it clear that their will be some believers whose lives have so little outward change that their works will be burned, however their souls will be saved if genuine.

21   John Hughes    
March 17th, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Phil: Well, yes, I think that change naturally comes, but the issue is it is not really my place to demand this change in others.

I can agree with that. And actually try to live that out. Again, it’s all in the balance. I know I come back to that but it is extremely important in my personal world view to keep all Scripture in balanced tension as best I can. Therefore discernment is to be tempered by self introspection. Judgement is to be tempered by the Biblical law of reciprocity (e.g., as you judge you will be judged, as you forgive you will be forgiven, as you show mercy etc, etc.). I am to take the log out of my own eye before I address the spec in the others and so on.

My discernment of and comments on others sins should always be redemptive in nature, but all to often it is only to make myself feel better in comparion as so many have pointed out. The best place to start is with oneself. Most of us will find that takes up most of our time. :-) .

I agree with Rick in that to re-publish the sins of others, especially those of unrepentant sinners is purient and futile and does much damage to the cause of Christ.

22   John Hughes    
March 17th, 2009 at 6:23 pm

RA. Welcome back after your long absence. I hadn’t even thought of Rick Warren in days! Weeks! I guess his internets hits were getting too low.

Rick Warren
Rick Warren
Rick Warren
Rick Warren
Rick Warren

Just tell me when to stop.

Rick Warren
Rick Warren
Rick . . .

23   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 17th, 2009 at 6:29 pm

John,

I think you might need assistance of some kind…….you seem a bit……obsessed. That’s not healthy.

RA

24   wilson    
March 17th, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Rick F said: “People who are born with same sex attractions are obviously conflicted about Christ since the church has so often presented Him as a wall rather than the Door. ”

John Hughes quoting Paul said:

“1 Cor 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. ”

I ask:
How do we reconcile the two? Did God make them that way? And if so, did He make them gay and then say you can’t join the kingdom unless you repent of something that He made them, or allowed them to be born thus. Or is it that people turn to certain sins to be their functional savior, to save them from some perceived hell, to meet some need, due to conditions etc that exist in their life?

This is not to disagree with anything else that may be said but I don’t believe the Bible doesn’t give any indication that people are born with same sex attractions (no, it’s not a sociology/genetics textbook either).

One argument I’ve heard is that it’s not the attractions that are the problem but what goes on in the mind and what you act on in the body.

All that said, I agree with most of the other things you have written in this post Rick F, and we as member of the body of Christ should reach out to everyone, yet if we just say ‘they were born that way’, then maybe we should appreciate them for who they are and not bother doing anything. I don’t currently think people are born with a homosexual tendency any more than people are born with a tendency to steal, disobey parents, hate, seek self, lust, murder etc. (that said, sexual sin is particularly dangerous for one’s self as one is sinning against one’s own body, which is a temple for the Holy Spirit. I guess the other sins are against other people)

What do you think?

25   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 17th, 2009 at 8:55 pm

When we say “God made us that way” we misrepresent the issue. In a real sense God made everything, but many are born as Siamese twins, having both male and female genetalia, and many horrible disfigurements. Why? The effects of the curse cannot be overestimated, and in fact, we are all born sinners.

Is that God’s desire, that we all are sinners? No, but the curse continues. Some people are born with addictive personalities and even some with overt violent tendencies. It is obvious that some boys are attracted to other boys at a young age and it is not a choice or rebellion. Some battle it and some even take their own lives to end the inward torture.

To say God made us is both yes and no, a paradox. We are all born in sin and some have certain sins more prominent than others. Why would anyone, especially someone born into a Christian family, choose to be attracted to the same sex and be persecuted?

26   John Hughes    
March 17th, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Richard,

I do need help. I readily admit that. But who is obsessed.? There hasn’t been nary a negative word or any word for that matter about RW on this blog since the innaguration. Can you contribute here without bringing RW in to the conversation?

It’s Lent. Perhaps you could give up promoting RW for 40 days. (There’s a pun in there somewhere).

27   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 17th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

JOHN: There hasn’t been nary a negative word or any word for that matter about RW on this blog since the innaguration. Can you contribute here without bringing RW in to the conversation?

RA: Interesting take on reality.

First, you might want to go back and see that I have been contributing with a variety of comments, dating back most recently with my return, to March 8th, 2009 at 10:23 pm. That was nine days ago.

Second, as for your own posts, you mentioned Saddleback here in a post of February 28th, 2009 at 9:06 pm — that’s barely 2 weeks ago. So, it seems that it hasn’t been all THAT long since Warren/Saddleback was on YOUR mind.

Third, this OP deals with the unbiblical aspects of conditions of salvation — and whether certain conditions need to be met before salvation is possible (or justification is accepted as valid). My response was in close to connection to a variety of conditions now apparently being put on the pure Gospel by ODMs — so blame them, not me.

Moreover, this entire website is devoted to discussing ODMs (who are actually the ones obsessed with Warren) and the issue of discernment. I quote a statement from the .INFO purpose statement page:

“3. For all of its advances, the internet has enabled the spirits of gossip, slander, deception and divisiveness to enter the sheepfold under the guise of “discernment”, attacking those whom are already saved in a dying world. This spirit of “discernment” elevates personal piety to new heights while completely missing the greater gifts of justice, mercy and faithfulness. This “discernment” is of the same spirit of the Pharisees of old” . . . . And so, it is with this tool, the internet, that we believe that God has given us the time, the tools and the talents to battle this spirit within this present darkness. It is with this tool that we believe God has empowered us to focus on the lowliest of the tasks listed here.”

My remark, clearly, was also in line with this statement about the purpose of .INFO.

So, save it. Talk to the ODM fan-base. Warren is their fixation, IMHO. And if they’ve made his condemnation a condition of salvation, which they’ve practically done, then I would hope you’d be more concerned about raising that terribly destructive view — not so focused on whether I brought up their sin and unbiblical stand.

But if you are bothered by the mere mention of his name (sort of like Voldemort in harry Potter, I suppose), then here, allow me to re-state my SIX POINTS, only two of which had anything to do with Warren:

1. You believe that Erwin McManus is neither a heretic, nor a deceiver, nor a hater of Christianity;

2. You think that Kerry Shook’s creative & artistic illustrations in his sermons are completely biblical and make for an interesting way of presenting biblical truths.

3. You voted for Barack Obama.

4. You said anything supportive of Obama.

5. You accept as godly various methods for teaching Biblical truth that are non-traditional, non-verse-by-verse methods.

That’s a good start, although I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention listening to the “devil’s music” (feel free to define that any way you like with whatever genre happens to make you uncomfortable).

There. Feel better? Same point made. Now what?

JOHN: It’s Lent. Perhaps you could give up promoting RW for 40 days. (There’s a pun in there somewhere).

RA: You call that “promoting”? Hmm. That’s got to be the oddest definition of that word I’ve ever seen.

Richard Abanes

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 7:04 am

Richard – just so you know I did not think your words were very apologetic for Rick Warren. No harm – no foul. You and I butt heads some time, but such is the nature of iron sharpens iron. I have benefited from your participation.

At least you are consistent with your comment style.

RF: I hope I’ve been clear.

RA: Rick, your wisdom is profound.

:cool:

29   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 8:50 am

RA: Second, as for your own posts, you mentioned Saddleback here in a post of February 28th, 2009 at 9:06 pm — that’s barely 2 weeks ago.

Yes, but I’m over 50 and slept since then so I get a pass.

30   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 9:00 am

devil’s music. (feel free to define that any way you like with whatever genre happens to make you uncomfortable

– “You’re All I Want” – Sung by manly men everywhere. Saccrine, absolutely no mention of the Deity anywhere + easy to dance to. I’ll give it a 6! (My wife likes me to sing it to her though).

All together now!

Hold me close to youuuuooooo.
Never let me goooOOOOoooo.
I’d lay it all down again. To hear you say that I’m your friend.
You are my desirrrrreeeee. No one else will do . . .

31   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 9:13 am

Jerry,

Your thoughts have expressed a part of my journey over the past several years. Like Rick, God has really been working with me on these issues. I have learned that we cannot necessarily rate sins. That struggles, be they lying, gluttany, adultery or homosexulity do not often have easy fixes and that I need I am often guilty of overlooking my own habitual sins but freely condemn others.

God has time and again brought this forcefully home as a bible study teacher through my study of Romans “Do you who teach other do the same things yourself?”. Yikes! Guilty. That realization really frightened me.

I’ve shared this before, but I have really tried to make it my life approach to live by the Golden Rule, to treat, judge and show mercy to others as I would like to receive the same. (Of course I probably just broke that with my interaction with RA :-) )

Anyway, bottom line, I now try to be very sympathetic with any one who is struggling with ANY issue. I will say, however, I still remain adamantly opposed to any peson or movement who denies sin is sin and calls what God has called bad, good.

Good though provoking article Jerry.

32   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 9:14 am

Hillsong is great – my absolute favorite worship music.

33   nc    
March 18th, 2009 at 9:24 am

“Draw me close to you”…

huh.
does every song we sing at a worship gathering have to mention Jesus or God explicitly?

I mean, isn’t it apparent and obvious that we’re there to worship God?

Does anyone know of any person who in the middle of a musical worship set honestly turned their mind to their spouse or partner in seriousness and sung that song as if it was meant for them?

Trust me, I think worship songs can get smarmy at times, but capturing some sense of personal and intimate devotion to God is not the dreaded boogey-man (woman?) of feminization.

34   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 9:47 am

Every worship song must include every aspect of systematic theology and must be a musical treatise in reformed doctrine.

Or not. :cool:

35   chris    
March 18th, 2009 at 10:08 am

Ah…nothing like discussion of acceptable worship music to make me wanna…kinda…turn off my computer and stay away.

36   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 10:33 am

NC,

I was bascially kidding. I do, do that from time to time.

But since you asked:

does every song we sing at a worship gathering have to mention Jesus or God explicitly?

Finish your sentence . . .

. . . in order to be acceptable to God? – No. God reads the heart.

. . .in order to please John? Yes. ;-)

But when in doubt I find the MTV test works for me. If played on MTV as a stand alone song how would it be preceived?

And NC sing that song to your earthly father with a straight face and get back with me on how that went.

Now where is my “Robinhood Men In Tights” video?

“We are men! We’re men in tights . . .”

37   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 10:39 am

Chris: Ah…nothing like discussion of acceptable worship music to make me wanna…kinda…turn off my computer and stay away.

I blame RA. :-)

I know, it’s personal preference.

38   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 11:26 am

Acceptable worship music = music used to worship God.

Fairly simple.

RAbanes

39   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Acceptable (to God) worship music = music used to worship God. (with the right attitute and motive of the worshiper).

Psalm 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.

Everything out of my mouth professing to be worship is not necessarily.

Heb 12:28-29 – Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.

Motive matters.

40   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Planning a worship service is never simple – J Hughes 2009

:-)

41   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 12:34 pm

There is a paradox in “planning” a worship service, which is why I always planned a skeleton and hopefully let the Spirit fill in as we went.

I have often felt the structure of our gatherings seem to be counterproductive to worship.

Now we sing.
Now we greet.
Now we announce.
Now we sing.
Now we sing a special.
Now we have the offering.
Etc. ad infinitum.

Some of the most meaningful experiences of God’s presence in a “service” were on the mission field with no electricity and only one guitar.

42   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Some of the most meaningful experiences of God’s presence in a “service” were on the mission field with no electricity and only one guitar.

That’s really cool, Rick. I too have had similar experiences. But I have also seen tremendous moves of the Spirit in highly orchestrated and practiced performances where the memorized and highly practiced pieces transcended human effort by a very powerfully felt presence of the Holy Spirit.

Is worship reserved for the lowly hut or can the catherdral be visited by God? Is there not room for both? Is either experience superior to the other?

Structure is not instrinsically counter-productive to a meaningful worship experience. Indeed, in the context of establishing Christian worship services and it’s various parts Paul writes:

1 Cor 14:33 – for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

and

40 -But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Said “order” is not meant to stiffle the Spirit but to corral the flesh and channel it into acceptable parameters.

A leader is to lead. That is his appointment. That is his job. Although God can do anything, He works in the human experience through means. Some of those means He has ordained are study and preparation. But at the same time, He has also provided a loose fitting framework for worship in which He has graceously left room for human innovation. He graceously allows us to participate, and to use a favorate word around here, to co-create. But that participation is still bounded and He has proscribed an acceptable framework (a safe bounded area so to speak) in which we children are to “play”.

You indicate that you often just go into a worship service you lead with just a skeletion outline and find that very effective. But can I remind you that this approach is within the context of your YEARS of experience and untold hours of practice on said guitar?

The Spirit can indeed be quenched by excesses of organization and God is sovereign and often graceously “fixes” our untoward affections and overrides them for His sovereign purposes. But more often than not He moves on vessels who are prepared to receive. Just some thoughts here at lunch.

P.S. Announcements greatly annoy me and take me right out of a worship exerience when they are sandwitched between worship sets. Yuck!

43   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Good points, John. I am very basic on the guitar, but I lead from the piano and singing.

44   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

Announcement at Worship Services:

USA – All interested in signing up for Thursday night bowling please see Bro. John in the foyer after church.

Please bring your favorite ice-cream to the church wide social Wednesday night. Church will provide the cups and toppings.

China: Please pray for Bro. Wang and his who was arrested last night during the raid on their unauthorized prayer meeting.

All those interested in smuggling bibles to our brothers in the Hunan province plase see Bro. Hu after the service.

USA: Please pray that the money will come in for the new weight room in the family life center.

Micronisia: Please pray for our sister church which was burned down last night by Muslim extremist with many parishoners still inside.

45   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Rick: I would love to attend one of your worship services. Be in Houston any time soon?

46   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Rick,

I didn’t know you were a worship leader. me too. Cool.

JHughes,

“Motive matters…”

I agree. Of course. That sentiment was a given in my words, “music used to worship God.” If your motive is anything else but worship, then it’s not worship.

RA

47   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 2:17 pm

My mother was an off Broadway actress (South Pacific, Kiss Me Kate, The Fantastiks, etc.) and played the violin and piano. I write and sing worship songs and my oldest son played the drums for me as well.

Someday we’ll all have to get together and have a worship time. My travel is restricted, but Florida is a great place to visit. Maybe in the winter.

48   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Are you serious about your mother? Goodness, you know I was in new York for many years on Broadway as well. Maybe she and I knew some of the same people. It’s a small world, after all (hey, speaking of Florida)…….

RA

49   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Hey I met Carol Channing backstage at “Hello Dolly”. She was (is?) a fine lady. I like musicals. OMG does that make me . . .?

50   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

I didn’t know you were a worship leader. me too. Cool.

Me three. Gosh Richard we have something in common. Who knew? :-)

51   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

JH: Me three. Gosh Richard we have something in common. Who knew?

RA: I rejoice. I’ve also done a couple Christian CDs of original tunes. I’ll probably be posting them on my website for free in the near future. I hope they are a blessing.

RA

52   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Hey maybe you guys should all get together as we can all do a few Ken Silva songs!

He is looking for people to sing the songs he feels are not as doctrinally sound as they could be… so they should be great for all of us… and Ken can make money if we sell anything!

Whoowee! isn’t that exciting?

iggy

53   John Hughes    
March 18th, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Jerry,

Sorry dude. Hey we did stay on topic for a large portion of the comments on your serious subject.

But I have come up with a new law which I have just copy righted today.

John’s Law of Inverse Commenting: The more serious the subject matter of any given post the quicker comments will degenerate into basically a defacto ichat session.

54   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
March 18th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

He is looking for people to sing the songs he feels are not as doctrinally sound as they could be… so they should be great for all of us… and Ken can make money if we sell anything!

Yes! Ken Silva’s Ultimate Heresy Collection! It could be like one of those Time-Life infomercials…

55   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Now, for just $9.99, you get such classic, all-time favorite hits as:

“Heresy Lights Up My Life”

“The Contemplative Blues”

“Onward Christian Discerners”

“When the Watchmen Go Marching In”

“A Mighty Fortress Is My Blog”

……and many more!

Plus, if you order now, you can get the decoder heresy ring that will be able to decode any secret messages hidden in Ken Silva’s first-rate, research articles on the Internet. Order NOW NOW NOW NOW!

RA

56   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

Richard,

That is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time! Have you ever thought of writing satire under a pseudonym?

If so, I know a great blog looking for satirists… hint hint…

iggy

57   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Oh, Iggy, don’t temp me, brother, do NOT tempt me………..LoL.

RA

58   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
March 18th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

For RA

59   richard abanes    http://abanes.com
March 18th, 2009 at 8:49 pm

Rick & John,

Talking here about music inspired me to take some time and start devoting my days to getting some of my music online for people.

I posted my first song today at my blog. I hope you are blessed.

Here’s where my music ministry heart lies — i.e., with the hurting, hopeless, and helpless.

peace in him,

Richard Abanes

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