Saturday, January 23, 2016

Same-sex Relationships & My God

I've mentioned in the past that I'm part of a secret FaceBook group comprised of approx 1000 Christian moms of LGBT kids (and the "kids" range from young to adults).   A woman in the group shared what Wendy Gritter wrote to a commenter on this blog post:

For years, I've tried to put into words my thoughts on homosexuality, same-sex marriage, Christianity, the Bible, God, etc.   I had very briefly summed it up the other day to someone by saying that I believe my God is a loving God.  That it would not be loving to set someone up for failure by making them homosexual yet making that part of their being "sinful."  And that I will choose to love and support my LGBT friends and family - if it turns out that I'm wrong, I'd rather ask God for forgiveness for choosing to love, when I approach heaven, versus having to beg him for mercy for turning my back on these important people.

At any rate, I really liked Wendy's response and thought I'd share it because she far more eloquently expresses many of my thoughts on this.


By Wendy Gritter:

So I just spent some time composing a response to an earnest comment on my latest blog - and thought it might be worthwhile to post it here too:

If I am hearing you correctly, you believe that same-sex sexual acts are sinful and "like any sin, are a path that takes us from God and, unchecked, to Hell." Your interpretation of my perspective is that I view this as a "minor disagreement - that ultimately doesn't matter." You indicate that you think this debate is consequential but I do not.

It seems to me that what differentiates us is not the degree to which sin, in this case your certainty that same-sex sexual acts are rebellious sin against God, is consequential but the cross and resurrection's dealing with sin. You indicate that same-sex sexual activity is like any sin - and that sin takes us away from God and, unchecked, to Hell. This is the crux of our difference. I don't believe that it is our sin that takes us from God and, unchecked, to Hell. I believe that it is our receptivity or lack of receptivity to live in the reality that the cross and the resurrection has ALREADY reconciled us to God. In other words, belief or unbelief is the crux of the matter for me. At the cross, all sin - past, present, and future in our understanding of time - has been accounted for and forgiven. God does not need our confession to forgive us. We need confession to reconnect us to the reality of God's forgiveness. The tragedy of sin is that it prevents us from living in the reality that is already true - we are joined with Christ, adopted heirs, made right with the Father, and called to participate in God's kingdom right now as we join the work of setting things right. The tragedy of sin is that it can so blind us that we never acknowledge our need of a Saviour.

LGBTQ+ Christians who know and love Jesus Christ, who eagerly receive the free gift of atonement through the cross and resurrection, cannot be separated from the love of God that is theirs in Christ Jesus. If after prayerfully agonizing over the text and being still and submitted before the Spirit of God, they discern that the interpretive perspectives that would make room for God's grace in their covenant of marriage with their same-sex partner are true and they go ahead with their marriage ...... but is actually in error .... and that marrying their same-sex partner and consummating that sexually is sinful ..... that sin has been dealt with at the cross. This was not willful rebellion, it was not merely twisting Scripture to make it say what they wanted it to say - this was two same-sex orientated Christians seeking to work out their salvation with fear and trembling as they trusted that God would work within them to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Phil. 2:12-13) I even know of one same-sex couple who literally prayed the night before their wedding for God to kill them in their sleep if they had discerned wrongly - so committed were they to following God's will and not wanting to sin against God. They determined that if they woke the next morning, they would make their covenant before God. (in Scripture, God honors the request for a sign) 

Scripture reminds us that if our conscience tells us something is sin - and we do it anyway, we have sinned. But if our conscience is clear, then we should act in accordance with our conscience. Paul says, "I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean." (Rom. 14: 14) 

You have indicated that you "know that indulging in homosexuality is rebellion against God." If I were to ask how you know this, my guess would be that you would cite Romans 1 and perhaps the Levitical texts and the vice lists from Corinthians and Timothy as well. Based on your interpretation of Romans 1, it seems you have come to that clear conclusion. I can honour that and I would absolutely trust that your intentions are primarily to be faithful and obedient to God's Word in Scripture. My point is that every single reading of Scripture is interpretive. Every single reader of Scripture sees through a glass dimly to some extent, no matter how many PhD's might be behind their name. And in these matters, there are people who are deeply committed to Christ and to the Scriptures with multiple PhD's in Biblical Studies behind their names who come to opposite conclusions on whether or not covenanted same-sex relationships are sinful. It would seem that some of those good folks, despite their best intentions to be faithful and obedient to the Scriptures are in error - and because of those errors there will be people who either discern that something that is sinful is NOT sinful - or that something that is not sinful IS sinful. Thanks be to God, all of this has already been addressed at the cross. When God looks at those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as the one who has made the way for them to be made right with God, God sees Christ. God doesn't see our theological failings, our interpretive errors, our numb conscience, our selfish hearts.... and I could go on. What God sees is the righteousness of Christ - praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ! Does this seem too good to be true? Does it seem too easy? I think that is the biggest lie - and the pride of our own hearts - that prevents us from receiving this as the truth - despite it being spelled out for us in Scripture! (1 Cor. 1:30 as just one powerful example)

How dare we say something is not sinful when Scripture says it is sinful? Greed is sinful - scripture is pretty clear. But how do we discern what is greedy when we live in one of wealthiest nations in the world? Is having more than one pair of shoes greedy? Is purchasing a car that has better features even though it costs more greedy? What if we don't discern what is greedy rightly? Will it take us away from God and unchecked, to Hell? (I could offer many different examples here).

My point is not to convince you to believe differently than you do. My point is to challenge your assumption that you and those who believe like you are the only ones who know the truth, the only ones who are discerning, the only ones who know how to interpret rightly, and the only ones who are safe from Hell. To be very honest, such certainty smacks of arrogance and pride to me (even if that isn't your intention) and Scripture has a lot to say about the sin of pride. The difference between you and me is that it would seem that you believe that this sin of pride is a path that will take you away from God and if unchecked, to Hell. I believe that the sin of pride, including the inadvertent pride that pervades the human experience, has already been addressed, forgiven, and its power broken at the cross and through the resurrection. 

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" (Rom. 6:1) By no means! answers Paul. When we receive the outrageous news of grace, we die to sin. When we truly believe and live like people of the resurrection, those joined with Christ, those confident in being reconciled to God and knowing that absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God - we don't run to sin - we rest in Christ. Jesus said, "But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13) and again, "If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent." (Matt. 12:17)

The LGBTQ+ Christians that I know who have entered the covenant of marriage with their same-sex partner have thrown themselves on the mercy of God. I believe, that even if they are in error, their lives are hid with Christ in God. You may not believe this - and I will not try to convince you otherwise. I will simply ask you to humble yourself enough to acknowledge that Christ may indeed make room for such in the Body of Christ. If you will not, that, I believe is consequential for a true representation of the gospel.

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