Openly Celibate Gay Christians?

There is a growing movement within the Church of Christians who openly identify as gay, but who are also openly committed to celibacy. Some of you have never met anyone like this and maybe never will, but I guarantee that the Church will have to make a place for them. In fact, they may the key to help us establish a more robust theology of singleness that the evangelical arm (in particular) of the Church sadly lacks. I believe that this will not only enhance our understanding of spiritual intimacy and fellowship within the Church, but in turn will strengthen our understanding of biblical marriage (man and woman).

My blog is called Just a Thought for a reason. I want to have you think deeply with me about the Bible and Theology as it relates to life. And thinking through the issues of celibacy and singleness, especially as it relates to our brothers and sisters who are same-sex attracted will require some pretty hard work. Let me begin by giving you the link to an article that was written last year in the Washington Post. It deals with the celibacy issue but pay special attention to whether you believe the Bible teaches that sexual attraction is in itself sinful or whether the sin is found in the lust and behavior that follows.–celibate-the-changing-face-of-the-homosexuality-debate/2014/08/04/65a73d6c-1c1a-11e4-9b6c-12e30cbe86a3_story.html

A Victim of Fraud…

I was almost scammed this week; here is how it happened… I have a pool table that I wanted to sell on Craig’s List. When I listed it, complete with pictures, I immediately got a text from a person saying he wanted to buy it and would pay me $50 extra to hold it until he sent me a check a few days later. He said he was on a business trip and couldn’t come and see the table but knew he wanted it because it was a good price ($250). I thought it was a little strange, but then again thought it was plausible. The next text I got said that his secretary had made a mistake and added the price for shipping the table onto the purchase price, so I would be getting a bank check for the whole amount- over $1500. Hmmm. He then texted that when I got the check, I was to immediately wire the amount for shipping to an address he would give to me. Obviously red flags were going off all over the place at this point.

When I got the check he told me to wire the money to a guy in Alabama, who was supposed to be the shipping agent of a company in Illinois. I told him to forget the whole deal and that I wasn’t wiring any funds to anyone and was, in fact, going to take the check to my bank and refuse it. He told me to stop the foolishness and just deposit the check- nothing could go wrong! My bank examined the check and though it looked legit, they told me that in order to refuse the check I had to take it to the bank that issued it. So I went there and they did a little research and found it was fraudulent and destroyed it. They told me that if I had deposited the check in my account and then wired the $1200, my money would have been gone without a trace and I would have been left with a bunch of fees when the bank found out that it was a bad check. I was a victim of fraud; “a deliberate deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, which is both a civil and criminal wrong.”

The Bible talks alot about the sin of defrauding our neighbors, our spouse, and the poor. It is easy to recognize fraud when we are victimized by it, but I wonder if we recognize it when we deceive or rob or oppress the people in our lives of what is rightfully due to them? I wonder if God could indict us like he did Israel in Malachi’s day of defrauding Him of our tithes and offerings?

Anyway, my last text message to this person who tried to defraud me was “You are a fraud and have been found out, but Jesus loves you.” An appropriate word to preach everyday to the scam artist in me.

By the way– anyone want to buy a pool table? Such a deal!

Something Greater Than Marriage

The following statement was written by Rosaria Butterfield and Christopher Yuan in response to the recent decision by SCOTUS on gay marriage. Rosaria was a tenured professor at Syracuse and is now a writer, speaker, and mother. She was a lesbian who became a Christian and shares her story in “The Secret Thoughts of An Unlikely Convert.” I am proud to say that Christopher is a friend of mine who teaches at Moody and speaks internationally. He is a gay Christian who tells his story in “Out of a Far Country.” I hope you find what they say helpful:

The Supreme Court of the United States of America has made gay marriage legal in all 50 states, and much of our country celebrates. The world with its rainbow flags waving proudly and plentifully was our world. We locked arms with our LGBT loved ones and friends and believed they were truly and honestly our family of choice.This is the world that we, Christopher and Rosaria, helped build—a world pursuing dignity and equality. The people you see celebrating the recent SCOTUS decision to redefine marriage (and with marriage, personhood) would have been us, not very long ago.

In 1999, when Jesus Christ revealed his saving grace and love to each of us, we learned that our unbelief, and the idolatrous sexual lusts that flowed from it, were no longer matters of personal choice. We accepted that following Jesus meant giving up everything. We understood that repentance meant fleeing from anything that embodied the temptations we knew best and loved most. But even prior to our conversion to Christ, God provided the love and care of Christians, people who became for us a new family, new brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers in Christ—who knew and loved us before we were safe to love. Christians loved, accepted, included, and surrounded us with biblical truth while we were still sinners, thus modeling the Lord himself. Therefore, when the Holy Spirit changed our hearts, we came to know this: the gospel is costly and worth it.

The days after the Supreme Court’s ruling are like the days before it: God is seated on his throne in power and majesty—and one day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess him.
We affirm that God has ordained marriage to be the union of a husband and a wife, which Jesus himself restated in Mark 10:6–8 and Matthew 19:4–5. But even though some in our culture believe, as Justice Kennedy wrote, that marriage “embodies the highest ideals of love,” we disagree. Earthly marriage does not have a monopoly on love. God is love (1 John 4:7–19). The pinnacle of love is his love for us in Christ. Nothing is greater.

Mystery and Reflection
In actuality, marriage is a mystery and a reflection of a greater reality. The highest ideal of love is Christ’s love for his bride, the church. In Ephesians 5 and Revelation 21, marriage is revealed to be analogous to Christ’s redemption: the marriage consummation between the bride (redeemed sinners) and the groom (Christ) shows all redeemed people are married to Christ. Only in Christ can anyone experience the full definition of love and acceptance. As important as earthly marriage and family are, they are both fleetingly temporary, while Christ and the family of God (the church) are wondrously eternal.

We have failed to show the LGBT community another option to marriage—which is singleness—lived out in the fruitful and full context of God’s community, the family of God. This does not mean, as Justice Kennedy wrote, that singles are “condemned to live in loneliness,” but that singles can have intimate and fulfilling relationships full of love. This is not a consolation prize. It can be just as rewarding and fulfilling as marriage.

Defining marriage as being between a husband and a wife appears unfair to the LGBT community, in part because a life of singleness is seen to be crushingly lonely. Have we in the church inadvertently played into that lie with our idolatry of marriage while being pejorative and silent toward singleness? If singleness is unfair, then it’s no wonder marriage has become a right. Just as the LGBT community appealed to the rest of the world for dignity and respect, it’s time for the church to fight for the dignity and respect of single women and single men.

Defining Moment
Some are now comparing the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage with the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on abortion. Indeed, there is an important lesson for us to learn from the pro-life movement. Today, there are more pro-life young adults than others from previous generations who champion pro-life. When pro-life people, made up of more than just evangelical Christians, began fighting less and caring more for unborn babies and for women with unplanned pregnancies just as they were, a shift in focus brought about an important change. So the question now stands: will we begin caring for the LGBT community just as they are?

This is a defining moment in history. We have a faithful opportunity to shine for the gospel. Will we point people to marriage as the “highest ideal of love”? Or will we point people—whether married or single—to a life of costly discipleship pursuing the embodiment of love, Jesus Christ himself?
The decision is ours to make.

Beware of “Old Clawfoot”

I have updated and reblogged the following under a new title because my general readership did not get it for some reason. Thus it is not de ja vu if it sounds familair to some of you:

The temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 is fascinating especially as we compare it to the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. I say Adam and Eve because Adam wasn’t off playing golf somewhere while Eve was being tempted, but was right there in all of his masculine silence (Gen 3:6). In Rom 5, Paul actually lays blame for sin entering the world upon the man and not the woman. Thus you have a sense that in Matt 4 Jesus is the “Second Adam” ; he is God’s Champion fighting to win back the territory lost to Satan by sinful humanity.

What is striking is the contrast between the two temptation scenes. Genesis 3 occurs in the midst of a garden of plenty; the only place in human history where the phrase “it doesn’t get any better than this” would have been an accurate description. The two humans were fat, full, and free. Jesus, on the other hand was in a desert wilderness not a garden; he was alone and hungry after fasting for 40 days. This contrast shows us that Old Clawfoot (I’m not talking about bathtubs) can come at  us whether we are in plenty or in want, happy or suffering, married or single.

Where the two scenes converge is with the temptation itself. In both cases, Satan attacks the goodness and trustworthiness of God. To Adam and Eve: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” Satan implied, “What kind of God would put you in a beautiful place of abundance and then tell you that you can’t have what you see? Go ahead and help yourselves to what you desire; it won’t hurt you, in fact, it will be empowering and fulfilling; it’s not wrong, it will give dignity and equality.” To Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” Satan implied, “Didn’t God just tell you that you were his beloved son? And now look at you; alone, hungry, desolate- is that anyway to treat your son? What kind of Father is he? Take things into your own hands and make these stones into bread. You have the power.”

In both cases old Claw-foot sought to insinuate that God didn’t care for his sons and daughter by calling into question the Word of God. Satan did the same thing in the Book of Job, where he questioned the Word which God spoke about his servant Job by insinuating that the only reason why Job was faithful was because he knew where his bread was buttered. In other words, God is not worthy to be worshiped for who He is unless He pays off His worshipers with benefits. “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:11). Satan said virtually the same thing in Job 2:5.

One thing you can always bank on is that Satan hates God and is jealous of His position. His deepest desire is to be worshiped and this was made abundantly clear in the third temptation of Jesus in Matt 4. Thus while Satan’s strategy changes from person to person and situation to situation, what remains the same are his lies and insinuations about God and His goodness. He will always tempt us to doubt God’s Word and to act independently of God’s provision. Remember that he is a liar (the father of lies) and will offer you anything because he never has  to make good  on those promises. He is incapable of speaking the truth; truth gets stuck in his throat. He may promise you the moon but in the end you will have nothing but moldy cheese.

So are you in a good place in your life right now? Beware lest you be tempted to believe that you have  gained “all these good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (Deut 6:11, 12). Give Him thanks and do not cease in your worship and praise to Him for His goodness and provision. “We give Thee but thine own, what ‘ere the gift may be; all that we have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from Thee.”

Perhaps you are in a place of pain or suffering some kind of deprivation; beware lest you be tempted to believe that God does not care what you are facing or that you are being punished for your sins so that you are on your own to find relief. I am reminded of how Solomon Northrup (Twelve Years a Slave) hung on to his identity as a beloved son of God in spite of the horrors of his being kidnapped and enslaved during the Civil War.  

We must never forget that the way of the cross is often a way of pain because our discipleship calls us to submit to the Lordship of Jesus rather than succumb to the pressures of prevailing culture, which has been usurped by the god of this world. “We are all summoned to various forms of self denial. The struggle against disordered desires, or the misdirection of innocent desires, is part of every Christian’s life,  consciously undertaken in baptism.” (John Stott) 

Let us not lapse into self-pity or listen to the plausible arguments of Old Clawfoot. Let us instead, like our Savior,  listen to the Word of God: “Fear not little flock for it is your Father’s good will to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me (Jesus)” (John 14:1). Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).

[Happy 4th! My dad would have been 109 today if he had lived past 59.]