Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Response Regarding the Bible and Homosexuality

This is my response to a friend's request that those who believe God is against gay marriage and believe that it should be illegal would share their thoughts regarding Mark Sandlin's article

My friend added "I don't understand why being a man or woman of faith means you should oppose anyone getting married if it is not harmful to another human. Please explain. This is a very informative article."

My immediate response is this- did you read the entire article and look up, in your bible, all scriptures that were referenced? Or did you simple read through the information quickly, and believe every word and thought given by the author? If you only did the latter, is that what you will also do with my response: simply read through it, trusting my understanding and interpretations to be truth? Or will you read my response, already being set in your own opinion, and then seek the internet or other articles to find anything that will counter argue what I share?

Do you really want to hear my interpretation regarding the scriptures and homosexual behavior? Are you really open to seeing what I believe to be true or do you simply want to argue and throw beliefs and possibly even verses back and forth? I am not a lover of confrontation, and I have no desire to debate with someone simply for the sake of debate. I AM a lover of Jesus, of His Word, and of the truth however, which is why I have spent most of this beautiful day reading through this article and digging into the scriptures.

I also want to say that if you don't believe that Jesus is Lord and that the scriptures are His Words, and are infallible, then don't bother reading on, since every opinion I possess is drawn from scripture as the only truth.

Sandlin begins his article accusing "we Christians…[of]…misinterpreting the Bible then running amuck in the world because of it." This is a typical tactic of the enemy. (And yes, when I say enemy I mean Satan- the devil.) Immediately Sandlin gets his readers doubting the way Christians interpret scripture (which is ironic considering his use of we infers he is a Christian himself). He uses this 'doubt tactic' throughout the majority of the article; instilling just a hint of suspicion in the reader, then inserting his own thoughts and interpretations. Just as Satan did to Adam and Eve, from the beginning, and continues to do today: did God really say you shall not eat of every tree of the garden? Are you sure that's what He meant? Maybe He actually meant something else… what does the word 'eat' actually mean anyway? Do scholars agree on the meaning? What does the Hebrew REALLY say, Eve? Oh, God said you would DIE? You won't really die. That's not really what God meant, Eve! (Gen 3:1-5) (Yes, this is where you go look up the scriptures yourself and test me!!!) Moving on…

The Bible As A Sex Manual

Sandlin states 'So, as others have pointed out before, we use the Bible as if it is a sex manual, telling us what is and isn't acceptable in the eyes of the Lord your God' Actually, yes, we use the bible as a sex manual, a marriage manual, a how to raise your children manual, a forgiveness manual, etc...; we use the bible as a 'how the heck do I live this life Your way' manual! It contains all of life's Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Yes! It's a sex manual! I won't even address what Sandlin says a wife should be according to scriptures because this is not the issue at hand. Homosexuality is the issue. 

I'm going to inject some side notes here. Why? Well, because I just can't help myself.  Just because 'men of God' had concubines or several wives does not indicate that God endorsed or approved of it. In fact, concerning Kings (which Solomon was), God said they shall not multiply wives for themselves (Deut 17:17). But when Solomon took seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, his heart turned away from the Lord (1Kings 11:3). Yes, God blessed Solomon abundantly. This does not mean that God condoned his many wives and concubines. God also blesses those who have been divorced. However, giving guidelines and rules regarding divorce (or slavery for that matter) does not mean that God condones, or approves of it (Matt 19:7-9). (Remember, when I insert scripture reference, that means you need to go read it yourself.) God blesses sinners. He does not bless their sins.

The Clobber Verses

Sandlin says the following three verses have nothing to do with the question of homosexuality: Gen 2:21-25, Deut 23:17, and Jude 6-7. But what do you say? Go read them and decide for yourself.

Gen 2:21-25- This reference in Genesis is the first mention of marriage- 'A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.' Yes, like it or not, these verses tell of the first marriage. When questioned about divorce, Jesus quoted this verse along with Gen 1:27, and Gen 5:2. "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them 'male and female.' And said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" Remember, the issue here is homosexuality and marriage. In the beginning God made clear what a marriage was, and Jesus later reaffirms marriage- between a male and a female. This has nothing to do with homosexuality but everything to do with how God and Jesus define marriage. I know of no verses in scripture where God blesses or even acknowledges a homosexual relationship. Ignore it if you like, and you are ignoring the Words of God.

Deut 23:17- This verse seems to simply forbid harlots and perverted/sodomites in the temple. It forbids temple prostitution of either sex.  

Jude 6-7- Now this one opens up a whole can of worms that I dare not go down. Double dog dare me? Ok. Let's start in Gen 6:4, which talks of giants and of the 'sons of God' going into the daughters of men and having children with them. Children that became mighty men-men of renown-giants! Sons of God? We find them again in Job 1:6, and 2:1. The sons of God and Satan present themselves before the Lord. These sons of God appear to be angels- more specifically fallen angels or demons in Gen 6:4. 2Peter 2:4 assures us that angels can and have sinned and Jude 5-6 references these angels- angels who did not keep their proper domain but left their own abode. Angels having sex with women and creating giant offspring? Farfetched and completely bizarre? Absolutely. But not any more farfetched than Mary conceiving Jesus by the Holy Spirit and giving birth as a virgin- and I believe in this virgin birth with every part of my being! Are angels sleeping with women and producing giants, or whatever it was they produced, any more bizarre? I think not.   Verse 6 of Jude goes on to say that Sodom and Gomorrah "in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." It's clearly regarding sexual sin and it's clearly punishable by 'eternal fire.' You go read Jude and decipher your own conclusion.

Genesis 19:1-11

Before you read Sandlin's opinion, or mine, go read these eleven verses.

Now, what do you conclude after reading this passage? Was the issue an issue of 'hospitality' as Sandlin fails to persuade? No. Looking back at my previous paragraph in which Jude 5-6 refers to angels and those of Sodom and Gomorrah having 'given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh' answers the question. Yes, Lot was protecting the visitors from the men of Sodom who wanted to 'know them carnally' (vs5). He begged these men 'Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!' (vs7).

Sandlin also states that 'Sodom is referenced multiple times in the bible as an example of great sinning. And what might that sin be?' he asks. He attempts to answer his own question with other scriptures (Isa 1:10-17, Ez 16:48-49, Zeph 2:8-11). However, two of the three scriptures reference Sodom as an example of what the destruction will be like, not what the sin was that led to destruction. Sodom is being used as a warning of coming destruction. The exception here are the verses in Ezekiel which speak of Jerusalem committing adultery against the Lord by worshipping other gods. The Lord says their sins were more abominable than Sodom's. God takes idol worship very seriously. However, this does not lessen the sin of Sodom. I am a sinner whether I commit a 'small' sin (as if there were such a thing) or a 'large' sin (is there  any other?).

Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13

Do you just love how Sandlin does you such a big favor by reading the Levitical Law for you? What a nice guy he is- telling exactly what it says so you don't have to think for yourself. As a self thinker- as I desperately hope you are- I went through Leviticus 18 on my own. Nope, I didn't use Sandlin's ideas, and I didn't search the web for what this chapter says or means; I simply read it. And you know what? It wasn't all that bad. In fact, it had some pretty important information in there! Wow, what a surprise, the Bible actually has important information! (Sandlin, your sarcasm and haughty attitude are having its effect. Ugh.)  Anyway, if you happen to get brave and open the chapter up for yourself you will find laws pertaining to sexual immorality: You shall not-
approach anyone who is near of kin to you, to uncover his nakedness (v6)
uncover the nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother (v7)
- uncover the nakedness of your father's wife (v8)
- uncover the nakedness of your sister (v9)
- uncover the nakedness of your grandchildren (v10)
- uncover the nakedness of your step/half sister (v11)
- uncover the nakedness of your aunt or uncle (v12-14)
- uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law (v15)
- uncover the nakedness of your sister-in-law (c16)
- uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter and her grandchild (v17)
- uncover the nakedness of a woman's sister as a rival (v18)
- uncover the nakedness of a woman while she in menstruating (v19)
- lie carnally with your neighbor's wife (v20)
- burn any of your descendants through the fire of Molech (v21)
- lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination (v22)
- mate with any animal to defile yourself with it. It is perversion (v23)

So I pose this questions- which of these 'You shall not's' do you disagree with exactly? I'll let you ponder the list for a while. I won't say anymore about it.

And I'm not going spend a lot of time on the issue of eating shellfish. In Acts 10:9-33 God makes unclean foods clean and tells Peter "What God has cleansed you must not call common." Col 2:16 encourages us not to let anyone judge us in food, drink, festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. The issue brought up by Sandlin regarding shellfish and pork have nothing to do with our focus here, which is homosexuality.

Romans 1:26-28

This is where we find the author instilling doubt and then laying the burden of proof on the reader to disprove his opinion. Good one, Sandlin. Way to work that deception. You are almost as good as the father of lies himself (Jn 8:44). Sandlin declares that these verses are 'not about homosexual people having consenting homosexual relationships.' They're not? Does the passage say they're not? 'one of the most prevalent forms of same-sex sex in the Greco-Roman world was male prostitution which frequently involved boys.' Okay, so…? Regardless, do these verses say that? No, they don't. Therefore, the burden of proof lies back on you Mr. Sandlin. Prove from the scriptures that this passage refers to 'a condemnation of pederasty and prostitution.' What do I read them to say? That these things are vile; that women were doing with women that which is against nature, and men were leaving the natural use of a woman, burning in lust for other men and committing what is shameful. You can include 'male prostitution which frequently involved boys' in this passage if you insist, but cannot limit it to that alone simply because these scriptures don't say it. Paul says nothing here regarding consenting homosexual relationships or prostitution. He doesn't even hint at it. The only hint I hear is that of Sandlin. How about you?

Now his issue with the word 'natural.'

'The analysis that I find the most convincing concerns itself with the word “natural.” It is the word that has led many to speak of LGBTQ behavior as “unnatural” acts even though they occur throughout nature (in one study they were found in more than fifteen-hundred species).' According to this logic, because a behavior is found in more than fifteen-hundred species, it must be 'natural.' Ok, how about we use the same logic regarding babies and cleft palates. In the US, 1 in 700 babies are born with cleft palates. If approximately 4 million babies are born each year, this would mean that almost six-thousand babies are born in the US with cleft palates. (Um, gently correct me if my math is off, please. I'm no mathematician.) So, following Sandlin's line of reasoning, cleft palates MUST be 'natural.' Ask anyone about a cleft palate and I doubt their definition would be 'natural' but more on the lines of having a deformation, which is why most cleft palates are medically corrected.  

Going on about this word, he indicates that 'As it turns out, the word is actually not “natural.” It doesn't mean “natural” or “nature” so much as it means “produced by nature."' Here he seems to be implying that Paul is talking about that which is 'produced by nature.' 'That is to say, Paul is concerned with how God created something or someone to be. He is concerned with people going against their nature or in the words of Lady GaGa herself, if they are “born that way” he's concerned with them behaving as if they were not.' If you are a reader of the scriptures, then this should be drawing some serious red flags. Paul concerned that the church of Rome were not behaving according to their nature? This sounds contrary to the letters I read from Paul. In fact, Paul says TO THE SAME GROUP OF PEOPLE IN THE SAME LETTER that they are to fight against their very nature. He shares his own conflict in this area stating "For what am I doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate that I do" and he goes on to say "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Rom 7:15,18).  Psalm 51:5 says we were sinful at birth. Paul of all people knew the nature of sin in every human being, specifically that of sexual immorality when he addressed the Corinthians:"Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1Cor 6:18-19). Nowhere in Paul's letters or the Bible itself do we find a warning not to go against our nature. Rather, we are instructed to do just the opposite- to fight against that nature because the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him (1Cor 2:14).

Sandlin (not surprisingly) tells us not to judge others. Let's look at the issue of judging

Sandlin writes, 'Immediately following verse 28, Paul provides an extensive list of sins. It is so extensive that we all fall into at least one of the categories. “Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things."' There you have it. The truth according to Sandlin: since we're all sinners, sinning day after day, no one can judge anyone else. This is the furthest thing from the truth. WHAT DO THE SCRITURES SAY ABOUT JUDGING OTHERS????? 

Let's start with Sandlin's quoted verse in Romans chapter two. Notice verse 3 says  "And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, AND DOING THE SAME, that you will escape the judgment of God?" What does that mean? If you habitually yell at your kids, you better not be judging others who yell at their kids. If you constantly get road rage and cut people off in traffic, don't judge others who do the same. Stuck in the sin of homosexuality or sexual immorality? Don't judge others stuck in that sin also. Jesus said in Matt 7:1-2 to "Judge not lest you be judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." Again, what does Jesus mean? However you judge another, you will be judged also. Period.

Let's take a long look at 1 Corinthians chapter 5. Paul (gotta love Paul) declares that he is actually hearing of sexual immorality among them- a man with his father's wife! Yes, God takes all sexual immorality seriously and acknowledges it as sin. He goes on to say that he (Paul) has already judged him who has done this deed and tells that body of believers to "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Why such harsh action? So that the man in sin may repent and be reconciled to God because a little leaven (sin) leavens the whole lump (the church). Gal 6:1 says that if a brother is overtaken in a sin to restore him, and 1Cor 2:15 says that those who are spiritual judges/examines all things. Finally, Paul rebukes the Christians of Corinth for taking each other to court rather than judging the matters themselves. He reminds them that someday they will judge the world and even angels, how much more things that pertain to this life? (1Cor 6:1-6). Who are we commanded NOT to judge? Unbelievers. Those who do not call themselves Christians, God will judge them (1Cor 5:13).

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 & 1 Timothy 1:9-10

Examining Greek words, Sandlin has forced me to reference my Strong's Exhaustive Concordance (which, by the way, Wikipedia says is the most widely used concordance for the King James Bible. Impressive reference, I know). Gotta say, I love my concordance. He addresses the word arsenokoites. You can find a link to this word here which will tell you what this word means in the original Greek: "One who lies with a male as with a female, sodomite, homosexual; abuser of (one's) self with mankind, defile (one's) self with mankind." Male prostitute? I don't see that as part of the definition. Customer of a male prostitute? Boy molester? Using sexual manipulation to acquire money? No, no, and no. This is not 'clearly only a word referring to men.' Referring to men, yes, but not just any man, a man practicing homosexual behaviors. Not practicing homosexual behaviors by molesting a boy and abusing/defiling that boy, but rather abusing/defiling one's self with another. 'What most biblical Greek scholars can agree on is that it is not meant to be a blanket statement about a male-male sex act.' Really? And which scholars are those? Because when I read these passages, I am unable to conclude anything than that which they clearly state- "Don't be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (Rom 6:9-10). Regarding the meaning of the Greek word malakos, please follow this link. "Soft" is one of the many definitions you will find. 

In conclusion I will address my friend's original statement: "I don't understand why being a man or woman of faith means you should oppose anyone getting married if it is not harmful to another human. Please explain."

My reasoning is simple. God is God and we are not. He is Righteous, Perfect, Holy, All Knowing, All Understanding, and His ways are not our ways. This God has set guidelines for us to live by and implemented consequences for not living by them. The consequence of sin- any sin- is death and eternal separation from Him. I do not wish this on anyone; neither on homosexuals, drunkards, murderers, thieves, my friends, my family, my children, or my grandchildren to come. When the ways of man move toward corruption and against the ways of God, ALL SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. All of Egypt suffered because of Pharaoh's hard heart and sin of unbelief. All of Israel suffered because of a King's failure to seek God before going into battle. All of our nation will suffer as we willingly allow corruption and blatant sin to become a part of our society. Homosexual marriage will, without a doubt, be harmful to others. This is why men and women of faith are taking a stand on the issue. Homosexuals need only go to the Lord in repentance and turn from their sin. Jesus will forgive them just as He forgave the adulteress woman saying, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (Jn 8:11). Christ did not come to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (Jn 3:17). However, He didn't come to bring peace either, but a sword- to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's enemies will be those of his own household (Matt 10:34-39). This sword is demonstrated with the issue of homosexuality. Families and friends are against one another. We are a fool to think any sort of division is not of God. He divides. But, He does all out of Love because He desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pt 3:9). And this is my desire as well. I desire a Godly country for my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I pray that even just one person would read this, be convicted of sin, and turn in repentance to God, receiving eternal life with Him.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Five Minute Friday- Rest

His word promises that if I seek Him first, if I seek His kingdom first, the rest will be taken care of.

I begin my day with the One who always was. He never wasn't and He always will be and He chooses to sit with me and encourage me in His Word daily. I think on the hard things. I reread and read again because my feeble mind can't comprehend His greatness. I move into prayer and I am speechless. What does a wretched wife and mom say to this just and powerful Being? Words and thoughts could never be enough. Yet, I know He wants to hear from me.

I have a million, trillion, gazillion things to ask for: requests for friends and friends of friends, for missionaries, for the persecuted, for those closest to my heart, and for the one with possibly the most need- myself. Because as I gaze into the mirror, I see the stuff that shouldn't be there. But He reminds me to simply seek Him first.

And that is what I've been attempting to do. Why is it so difficult? Shouldn't it be simple to dwell on the Creator of the grandest galaxies and the smallest cells? He is amazing. Why is this so hard?

And so I am forced to rush through my 'time' with Him because the day ahead is full and I am already running behind. Get the kids up, make their lunches, hope you don't have to leave the house too messy, and don't forget you have to get gas on the way.

This is when the 'rest' that I somehow thought would be painless and perfect begins to look awful and oh so unholy. But Lord, I spent time with you this morning. I was in your Word, mediating on Your goodness. I asked you to bless my day and to help me be an example of You to these! What happened? Why am I yelling at my son? Why am I so full of frustration? You said You would take care of it!

Do I sound like a lost child? I had a huge pity party and cried the whole way to school. My son simply said he was sorry and thanked me for making his lunch. I cried even more because I know that a soft answer turns away wrath, yet my gracious God took my failure and used even that to mold the heart of my son. And the heart of this mom. And I fought back tears throughout the day because I want to simply enter His rest. I want to be done with the striving and the hurt. I cannot bear the pain of that knife in my chest being twisted and turned. I can't bear the failure of this whole mom thing.

I see that reflection and know even more so how much I am in need of my Savior. And I am so grateful that He would even have me; that my son would even hug me and apologize to a mama that needs to be rebuked. I hope that someday my children know the pain of a parent; the reason we do what we do and look so crazy and out of sorts. I hope they can understand that as I correct them and reproof them, I am twisted up inside because my own sin is so unbearable. They think I'm attempting to remove their plank, but really it's just a speck compared to my own.

But seek Him first. That is what I continue to do. Despite my shortcomings and my sins. Despite my words of wrath and my harsh reactions. Despite my inability to see Him as He truly is, I seek Him and He faithfully responds.

Yes, even in the yuck of life, He offers me rest for my soul. I accept!

(Five minutes? This took me twenty!)

Lisa-Jo offers the challenge week after week: take a measly five minutes (or half an hour, whatever get's us typing!) and write. No over thinking, no backtracking, no ‘wait, that’s not spiritual enough, and I can’t share that in cyber city’ mentality. Only writing. Writing for five minutes and risking the outcome. This week’s prompt- REST

{and don’t forget to spend some time commenting on the post of the person who linked up just before you}

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