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Entries in Homosexuality (2)

Tuesday
Jun272017

Go and Sin No More

John 8:3-11.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on June 25, 2017.

Today, as I preach this sermon, the 43rd Annual Gay Pride Parade will begin in Seattle, WA.  Over the course of the last 43 years homosexuality has taken center stage as our society wrestles over how we should move forward.  What will be the laws that we will live by and by which individuals will be punished?  Of course churches and Christians are a part of this society and should speak the truth in love.  But even with this goal, we do not always agree.  Some have responded with acceptance to the degree that they have declared their approval for homosexuality, ordaining gay ministers and performing same-sex weddings.  Others have responded with rejection to the point of advocating the re-establishment of capital punishment for any such acts.

It is important to recognize that in the middle of this culture war individuals get chewed up and spit out, whether they are gay or a conservative Christian.  Christianity Today ran an article recently from a woman named Bekah Mason.  She is a Christian who has struggled with same-sex attraction throughout her life and tells her story.  She was raised in a very legalistic environment where even the idea that you would be attracted to the same sex was an “abomination” to God.  There was no room to talk about it and so she grew up holding it in and hiding it.  Later, when she entered college, she encountered a Christian group that was progressive.  This group told her that there was nothing wrong with homosexuality.  In fact, it was a gift from God.  She should completely embrace it and follow her “true self.”  This was too enticing not to embrace.  Thus she explored her true self and same sex relationships.  Over the course of time she realized that the progressive mentality was not the answer she had hoped.  She states, “Both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.”  In one group she was rejected as an abomination before God and couldn’t even discuss it, and in the other she was encouraged to follow her “true self” rather than Jesus.  She could not resolve following self with the Gospel message.  Over time she came to embrace the gospel.  Though she was inclined to a sinful expression of sexuality, God loved her enough to help her lay it down and follow Jesus.  It didn’t matter whether her feelings ever changed.  If she needed to remain celibate then that was fine.  She was no longer under the tyranny of hiding her feelings, nor that of redefining sin.

Though the woman in this passage is not a homosexual, she too has a problem with sexual sin.  We find in it a reminder that it is not our job to sacrifice individuals in order to make a difference in society.  It is our job to be a redemptive influence in the lives of those whom we cross paths.

Love the Individual more than the Society

Do you love humans or humanity more?  I believe it was Dennis Prager who said that people who loved humanity more than humans scared him because they were capable of great evil towards the individual in the name of the group.  If we were to create an artificial intelligence (AI) how would it be different if we programmed it to work for the good of humanity rather than for the good of each person?  This mental exercise will help you to see that in order to save the system or the larger group, people are often sacrificed.  Individuals are crushed under the machinery of good for the many.  Now it is different if a person volunteers to lay down their life for the sake of others.  When our military men and women volunteer to put their lives in jeopardy in order to protect our society, it is a good thing.  But when people are forced into armies and sent to die for the sake of the empire or society of whatever size, then it is an evil. 

This is part of what we are seeing in this passage.  Only here it is not conscription into an army.  Rather a woman who has broken the law is used as an expendable tool in order to stop Jesus.  The religious leaders do not see an individual woman who has embraced sin and is lost.  They do not see someone in need of saving and help.  She doesn’t matter to them, but stopping Jesus does matter, at all costs.  He is going to mess up their society, and their position within it.  Thus the woman is merely a useful tool and this tactic is used to this day, whether in politics, business, or even in churches.  I’m reminded of Baronelle Stutzman, the florist from the Tri-Cities area of Washington State.  She would not do the floral arrangements for a same-sex wedding.  She had sold flowers to the gay individual for years.  But felt that going to the wedding venue and setting up the flowers would be too much of helping a person to sin.  Initially the man had no problem and went his way.  The two parted on friendly terms even though they disagreed.  It is when others get involved who could care less about keeping an amicable relationship that things turn to the bad.  All they see is a tool of leverage to reinterpret old laws and force social change upon others through new ones.  This was a golden opportunity to change society and send a message to all Christian business owners.  It is clear in the John 8 passage that Jesus refused to operate on that level.  If society was to be saved it would not be at the expense of a woman who was a sinner.  In fact, the heart of God displayed in Christ is very different from the heart of mankind.  Jesus would lay down his life for us rather than sacrificing any sinners.  The question for us as Christians is this, “Are we following the Pharisees' model or are we following the model of Jesus?”  We must learn to lay ourselves down in order to reach the lost and help them to reconcile to God the Father.

All of this begs the question, “Can a society be saved, and if so, in what way?”  When an individual is saved it can be in one of two ways.  Jesus saves this woman from dying that day.  However she would eventually die of old age.  The more important “saving” is that of her soul.  We don’t know what becomes of this woman’s life despite the speculation that has occurred throughout history.  But, Jesus is clearly concerned about her soul.  She is a sinner who is lost.  If she died that day then she would be without hope.  Salvation for her is the possibility of having eternal life.  Now when we look at a society, it can never be eternally saved.  Our founding fathers stated in many different ways that the constitution and laws they established would not be enough.  Each generation would have to engage the fight for freedom for themselves.  Societies can only be “saved” for a temporary time.  History bears this out.  Should people who can be saved eternally be sacrificed for the sake of a society, which can only be saved temporarily?  I think the answer is obvious.  No society will survive the Second Coming of Christ, or the White Throne Judgment.  So why would we sacrifice people to save them?  Society is important, but it is of secondary concern.  Individuals should always be our primary concern.  A Society that sacrifices individuals for its own sake is poor indeed.  If such a society is worthy then individuals will voluntarily lay down their lives in order to save it (whether they are judging rightly or wrongly).

Though the religious leaders are correct in their understanding of the Law of Moses and its punishment, they do not understand the heart of the God who gave it.  This woman was caught in the act of adultery.  There is no question about her guilt and the punishment.  But Jesus does not respond to them on that level.  He knows that they are correct in her guilt and the matter of the Law.  Yet, Jesus clarifies the problem by issuing the challenge for them to declare publically that they are without sin.  He who is without sin among you, should throw the first stone.  Of course, none of them are willing to make such a public statement.  Clearly only a sinless being can truly hold a sinner accountable for their sin.  One of the mistakes of modern thinking is that we think judging sin is bad.  No, sin itself is bad.  But it is bad form for a sinful person to carry out judgment on another sinful person.  Jesus takes time to remind them and us just who is the Judge of sinners and just when punishment should be given.  In Romans 2:16 Paul states, “God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel.”  You see the Pharisees had unwittingly brought the woman before the only one who could carry out punishment upon her.  Now, don’t be deceived, there is a day of judgment and the Lord Jesus will preside over that judgment.  However, it was not that day yet.  They have prematurely brought her before the heavenly court in order for punishment to be carried out.  Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed unto men to die once, but after this the judgment.”  Notice judgment before God follows death.  Yes, we do have to have some laws within this society of sinners so that we can live our lives.  But the punishment of sin is to be left to God once a person has died. 

When our focus is on condemning people and punishing them, we elevate the law over the top of the Grace of God.  Yes, God gave the law.  But He is not willing that any should perish.  He would even go to the extent of becoming a man himself and dying in our place in order to save us.  Or, as John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whosoever would believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  This includes those who sin sexually.  As long as a person is a living breathing soul, they can still change.  It doesn’t matter how long this woman has been a slave to her sin of adultery.  She can change and Jesus knows that.  He is more concerned about her continuing to have a chance to change than he is about perfecting society by getting rid of her.  Notice his words to her at the end, “Go and sin no more.”  What she does with those words is an eternal decision that she will have a chance to make as long as she is alive.  For the rest of her life she would remember that strange man who saved her life physically and wonder if He could actually save her life spiritually.

Now this leads to my last point.  Jesus defends her physical life, without defending her morality.  He does not give some speech filled with moral pablum such as, “This woman has done nothing wrong.  Come into the First Century!”  He merely challenges their right to carry out such a punishment.  Christians should not advocate or give aid to the mentality that homosexuals should all be killed or jailed.  But we should neither give our aid to promote it.  Jesus is not promoting her adultery.  Rather, he is promoting her salvation.  He did it so that she would have a chance at redemption, whether that was immediately seized upon or later.  She would never be able to forget the man from Nazareth who saved her life and then told her to sin no more.  I would say that we clearly see Jesus defending her from her external attackers.  But, we may miss him coming to her defense against her internal attackers.  The inner life of our flesh and its sinful desires continually assail our mind and will.  This inner assault is even more insidious than that of the religious leaders.  When you tell someone that their sin is okay, you are refusing to help them against that inner onslaught.  You have actually left them to their worst enemy.  We cannot save people by protecting them to just keep on sinning.

So how can we maintain a faithful conviction regarding sin and also show love toward those who do not?  I guess my point is that we do so by keeping our focus on the soul of each individual we meet.  It is not my job to stop the Gay Pride Parade in Seattle next year.  But it is my job to care about the soul of each homosexual that I come in contact with, each and every day.  The gospel is that freedom which God gives to us, freedom from the self life and tyranny of our flesh.  We can embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior and know that regardless of our sins, He will accept us as we repent and follow Him.

Let’s love people more than we love America, or whatever society of which you are a part.

Go and Sin No More audio

Tuesday
Oct162012

Same-Sex Marriage: Is It Really About Fairness & Equality?

We continue this week talking about the issue of “same-sex marriage.”  Today we are going to deal with the issue that is often raised concerning fairness and equality.  “You get to marry who you want.  So keeping us from marrying is unfair.”  Or another way this may be approached is to say, “Marriage is a good thing that you are keeping homosexuals from experiencing.  It isn’t fair to keep such a good thing from us.”

Being how marriage is an institution of God and not mankind or government, it is important for believers to not be drawn into emotional arguments that sound good.  Thus we all would agree that it would be wrong to keep people from a good thing.  However, in this case, it is not the good that they seek that is being objected.  Rather, it is the changing of that good thing, marriage, into something different then it was made to be.

Today I am going to take some time to walk through Romans 1 and 2 in order to deal with this charge that Christians (and therefore also God) are not being fair or treating homosexuals as equal.  Clearly, God rejects homosexuality as a good and proper expression of sexuality.  Thus the argument is not about fairness.  It truly is about propriety and the definition of what is “good” sexually.  For Christians this is defined by God, not the passions and desires of an individual or a majority of society.  Let’s go to Romans 1:18.

God Has Judged Homosexual Relations To Be Immoral

Now Romans 1 is going to make some clear statements about the perversion of homosexuality.  However, it doesn’t begin there.  In verse 18 Paul points out that God’s wrath is made clear against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.  So homosexuality is not the only thing that God judges to be sin.  Notice that those who pursue ungodliness (both homosexual and heterosexual) unrighteously suppress the truth.  Obviously if you want to pursue your own passions against God’s Word then you will not like the Truth of God.  Thus there is a clear attempt to restrain and hold truth down.  This happens to both the special revelation we are given in the Bible and in the general revelation that we are given through nature.  This is what Paul points to next.

In verses 19-20 Paul points to the general knowledge we can obtain from nature.  It is obvious, unless you have an ulterior motive, that there is a great intelligence behind the design and system of the universe.  It is also obvious that this intellect is extremely powerful.  Lastly this intellect is divine, that is, beyond creation.  He is God.  God has left his signature all over His creation so that men who do not recognize His existence, power, and divinity, are without excuse.
Now verses 22-23 show that the rejection and suppression of Truth has a negative effect upon the heart and mind of any person.  First of all their thoughts become empty or futile.  This isn’t intended to mean that they can’t accomplish anything and are stupid.  The idea of futile is being used of where their thinking will lead in the end.  So their thinking may build towers greater than Nimrod, but their rebellion and rejection of God will come to nothing in the end.  Thus their thinking is futile.  Also, their hearts will be darkened.  This is a picture of no internal light.  Without truth we are left to operate on lies, phantoms, myths, unrealities, in short, insanity.

This leads to verses 24-25.  When a person or society reaches this point of a darkened heart led by futile thinking as a result of suppressing Truth, God hands them over to the vile passions that are pent up in their flesh and heart.   Notice that they exchange truth for a lie.  Instead of embracing the God who created them, they embrace a lie.  “God’s judgments are wrong and not fair.  Thus he is either evil, or he doesn’t really exist.”  Whichever direction you go you are embracing a lie.  Many religious people have embraced a lie instead of embracing the Truth of God.  Also, many atheists and secular humanists have embraced a lie as well.  It all boils down to rejection of God and embrace of “not god.”

Next they worship the created things instead of the Creator.  Man has been designed with the need and desire to worship.  Thus those who rebel religiously create God in their own image or after things of the material world.  Those who rebel secularly generally worship themselves or at best an image of what they can become without God/Truth. Ultimately, all of this is the same path that Satan took millennia ago.  Whether they are a Satanist or not, those who exalt their own will above that of God’s, walk in his footsteps.  “I will do what I will!!!!”

The word that is used twice “God gave them over” is the picture of a transfer of a person.  They are handed over to vile passions in the way that a prisoner would be handed over in extradition.  A boundary has been crossed.  By stepping away, God hands them over to a tyrant that cannot be satisfied, their own vile passions.  Thus starting in verse 26 we find that the rise of homosexuality in a society is increased to the degree that God has handed it over.  It is a red-flag sin.  It speaks to a level of depravity that ought to shock us into turning back to God.  It is the ultimate rejection of God because it rejects the obvious design and intent of nature.  It screams, “I will not be defined by anything, not even the reality of the material world.  I will be what I want to be!!!”

Let me point out that in verse 32, Paul points to not just the existence of these evil, self-driven things in society, but also the approval of them as a problem.  Here in Washington State we have moved past the point of the existence of homosexuality.  We have even moved past the point of an overall social acceptance of it.  Now we have reached a point where society at large is being challenged to approve of it.  This will not end until the Church embraces homosexuality, our society repents and turns back, or God judges us.  This is where we are.

Just Who Is Being Unfair?

This leads us to Romans 2.  Here Paul talks about people who judge others breaking those same laws.  This is what is happening in those who actually dare to judge God himself.  Those who accuse God and his people of being unfair are unfair themselves.  They use political ploys to have laws struck down and others passed.  And then they use strong-arm techniques both politically and socially to silence the opposition and enforce acceptance.  Three years ago, in our own state, we had the passing of civil union legislation that was billed as “everything except marriage.”  How many people voted for that law because they wanted to be fair and yet now find themselves trying to defend making a line at calling it “marriage.”  Who is forcing whom?  The current same-sex marriage law was encouraged by a Governor who knew they wouldn’t be up for re-election.  The law itself pretends to protect clergy and churches, however, adds several legal avenues of later prosecution.  You cannot continue to offer marriage as a service to the public without putting yourself in jeopardy.  Also, the definition of discrimination is added to same-sex couples.  Thus they leave the door open for pursuing legal action down the road upon the basis that it is wrong for clergy and churches to discriminate.

At issue here is a warped sense of fairness.  Typically what is meant in this argument is fairness of outcome rather than fairness of judgment.  Thus the social enforcers try to make all have the same outcome.  Everyone can marry any way they want to whomever they want and everyone should accept it as Fair (at least as an outcome).  However, you will notice that many of the judgments that lead up to enforcing such fairness of outcome will be anything but fair or just.  A case in point, is socialism.  In order to achieve a desired goal of fair income/wealth for all they support redistribution schemes that trash fairness at all possible points.  So you will find those who work hard and are rewarded with income and wealth will be penalized and some who refuse to work will benefit from the penalty of the previous.  I know this an oversimplification.  But to say it doesn’t happen is an injustice itself.  In the name of fairness we will FORCE society to accept a perverse sexuality as normal and acceptable.

Final Thoughts

Paul says in 11-12 of chapter 2 that God does not play favorites.  In other words in the true sense of the term he is fair and just.  He is righteous and good in his judgments.  He holds us accountable for what we have known.  Thus some trapped in homosexuality may have a better chance of being saved then some hypocritical Christians opposing it.

Christian brothers and sisters, we can stand for Truth without losing sight of people’s need for the Gospel.  Homosexuals need to understand that it is not just that sin that is under judgment.  It is all sin.  And God’s judgment is coming.  We ALL need to admit our sins and flee to Jesus Christ for salvation.

Lastly, we need to operate out of love for the lost and not fear of what we might lose.  If this law passes, I do not have to fear.  The faith that has been passed down to us by godly people and the relationship we have with the Father has passed the test of many wicked and depraved generations.  Maranatha!

Same Sex Marriage: Fairness audio