Sunday, February 2, 2014

"Weeping Over the Gay Community"

"Been There, Done That (Part 2)"
by Joe Dallas

Weeping Over the Gay Community
...The state of both the church and the nation should trouble us, and our concern needs to be translated into constructive, redemptive action.

In Ephesians 2:10, Paul referred to the church as God’s “workmanship,” the Greek word for which is poema, from which we get our word “poem.” I love this concept, sobering as it is. God’s the poet; we’re the poem—His earthly work of art; His visible representatives. That puts both tremendous honor and responsibility on us because, as His workmanship, we’ve been commissioned to represent Him accurately. John said as much himself, when he reminded his readers:

“He who says he abides in Him ought so to walk as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

And when describing how He walked, John mentions two of Jesus’ most noticeable qualities:

“—and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1: 14)

To represent Him properly, then, is to exhibit grace and truth. And on no issue are we more challenged to express both than on this one.

Jesus wept openly over Jerusalem, knowing all it could have been yet foreseeing its doom. Paul’s heart’s desire was to see the Jews (who at times opposed him violently) saved. But today, who weeps for homosexuals; whose heart cries out to see them brought to the truth? A lack of impassioned, Christ-like tears may be a measure of our compromised grace.

But a compromise of truth is no less atrocious. Jesus refused to soft-pedal truth for the sake of grace when referencing sexual immorality. So when extending grace to an adulteress, He also called her behavior a sin (John 8: 11). His Sermon on the Mount, an epic model of grace, also includes one of the most stringent standards for sexual purity in scripture (“Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery in his heart,” Matthew 5:28). He categorized adultery, fornication and lewdness alongside blasphemy and murder (Mark 7: 21) and when rebuke was called for, whether towards his adversaries or disciples, He never withheld it (see Matthew 23, or Matthew 16:23, for example). To walk as He walked, then, is to be as unsparing of the truth as we are of grace.

Believe me, few people recognize their need for salvation by being told how likable they are, nor are people born again by being made comfortable in their sin. Perhaps one of the greatest errors infecting modern Christian thought is the presumption that if people like us, then we’ve reached them. Yet Titus Brandsma, a Christian martyr who died at Dachau in 1942, had a more Biblical perspective on the matter:

Those who want to win the world for Jesus Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it.

To those for whom sensitivity takes precedence over truth, we’d respond with: Comfort is fine, so long as you don’t make people comfortable at the expense of telling them the truth about their condition. And if popularity and a large congregation mean more to you than sound doctrine, then drop the ministry and go into politics. A preacher’s calling is to give the full counsel of God, not to make friends.

Ultimately, then, the church’s ability to withstand the gay religious movement will be determined by our willingness to be inconvenienced. It will be inconvenient to study pro-gay theology and learn how to refute it. It will certainly be inconvenient to train up Christian spokesmen to stand for truth in our campuses, television studios, and sanctuaries. Establishing ministries in our churches to repentant homosexuals will be inconvenient and controversial. And getting involved with them, through one-on-one discipleship and relating, will no doubt be a major inconvenience as well.

Yet nothing less will stem the tide of pro-gay theology. And should we refuse to be inconvenienced, and let the tide wash over us, for whom but ourselves do we think the bell is going to toll?

I was fortunate. Loving friends took me in when I repented. Strong brothers welcomed me into their fellowship. I was forgiven, accepted, and restored. I could only wish the same for every woman or man who, by God’s grace, is also brought beyond delusion. And perhaps, with an awakening among Christians to our need for each other no matter what our background or former sins, more prodigals will find a celebration waiting for them when they, too, return to their father’s house.

It is not a pipe dream. Episcopal seminarian William Frey envisioned it some time ago, and, as he relates it, it sounds like nothing more than basic Christianity:

“One of the most attractive features of the early Christian communities was their radical sexual ethic and their deep commitment to family values. These things drew many people to them who were disillusioned by the promiscuous excesses of what proved to be a declining culture. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for our church to find such counter-cultural courage today?”

Wonderful indeed.

Wonderful, admirable, and—most important—entirely possible.


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