There’s many examples of openness in the Gospels. Many of absolutes as well. Certain things that had been “sinful” behaviour in the Old Covenant were redeemed by Jesus’ actions in creating the New Covenant we commonly refer to as Christianity.
The problem is that what today is touted as “Christianity” is a far cry from what Peter preached on the day of Pentecost when thousands became Christians. It’s removed from the Grace shown to all and by all in that first century movement that terrified the Roman Empire.
The wake of the horrific shootings at the nightclub in Florida have caused an outpouring of “You are in our prayers” statements from denominations that would rail against the individuals lifestyle if they pitched up at the church on Sunday morning. The hypocrisy stinks.
But there’s elements in Christianity that always get pulled out by atheists and especially by “enlightened” ex-Christians when something like this happens.
So I want to be open.
There are certain things which had been considered sinful in the Old Covenant – the one the ex-Christians and Atheists love to quote – which are overturned by the New Covenant.
Lets look at Pork and Lobster. Both are declared “unclean” foods in the Old Testament in the same books that say homosexuality is a sin (I’ll come back to this in a moment, so bear with me). Jesus teaches that what enters a man through his mouth passes through his body and is expelled. Peter has a vision:
The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “Not at all, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is common (unholy) and [ceremonially] unclean.” And the voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, no longer consider common (unholy).” This happened three times, and then immediately the object was taken up into heaven.
Acts 10:9-16 Amplified Translation
All kinds of animals, wild and domestic. Another translation includes reptiles in the description. Peter initially balks at the call, yet the voice is clear, God has made these things clean. So there goes the anti-bacon and anti-lobster crowd’s argument.
Paul refers to food and sex in 1 Corinthians:
Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me]. Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will do away with both of them. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again because of the sacrifice of the cross].
1 Corinthians 6:12-13 AMP
He goes on:
Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 AMP
The word used for “Run away from” literally means to “flee in terror”. Paul never held back in his letters. When he says our own righteousness without Christ is as “filthy rags” the 21st Century equivalent would be “used tampons”. This was not a man afraid to speak whole truth.
Yet he still stands by and says homosexuality is a sin.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:24-32 NIV
There’s no room for interpretation here. Sexual immorality – ALL sexual immorality is repugnant to God, not only same-gender sex, but any sexual activity outside the bounds of Marriage. God created sex to be immensely pleasurable – and it is. We wouldn’t want it and do it so much if it wasn’t!
But as with everything in this world, the Enemy got hold and twisted the action. God doesn’t say accumulating wealth is sinful, He says greed and making that wealth accumulation is sin – because money and material possessions become your god. He doesn’t say sex is sinful, just the twisted, lust induced instead of the love-induced He designed.
A dear friend of mine who I love and care about immensely was badly hurt by the church. He was sick with an illness the church he moved to told him he should be able to overcome by prayer.
It’s not that simple. His wife had an amazing gift for worship. Within a few months of moving to this new church where they had been invited to be leaders in a Worship setting, they had been undermined and lambasted to the point that they left the church, hurt by the hypocrisy and judgemental attitudes of the leadership. Without a strong Christian support network round them their marriage failed and both he and his wife now actively campaign against Christianity.
God-haters. Arrogant and boastful. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
How does this post support the victims of the Orlando shootings?
I’m being open.
But many readers will only see hate and “homophobia” in my words.
I’m not afraid of homosexuals. I have a number of dear friends who know where I stand on the issue and love me back anyway.
You see, God doesn’t hate Homosexuals. Quite the opposite. He endured flogging, humiliation, torture and the most excruciating death imaginable for homosexuals just as much as he did for everyone else. When the woman caught in the act of adultery is brought before Him, Jesus doesn’t ask who she was with. He doesn’t care. It is not specified that it was a man, just that she was sexually involved with the other person.
She may have been with the wife, not the husband. Jesus doesn’t care because she is repentant. He cares about the hypocrites with the stones in their hands and murder in their hearts. He is the one person there who is Perfect and therefore eligible to throw the first stone. When He challenges the hypocrites, calling them out on their own sin, they all walk away, the thud, thud, thud of falling rocks as their guilt over their own sin overcomes them and they walk away leaving only Jesus and the woman.
He doesn’t ask her about the affair. He doesn’t ask her about her life. He asks if nobody condemned her. Then He tells her He doesn’t either, but to go and leave her sin behind.
Why do we get so worked up about homosexuality? Personally I’m way more bothered by the obvious greed and misogyny of Trump and Clinton clawing their way to gain power and wealth, yet nobody seems to call out those sins. Probably because they aren’t gay.
I can’t refer to myself as a “Conservative” Christian any more. The description understood by the World would likely get me lynched in many circles. “Conservative” christians would have a problem with my marriage – my wife and I have different levels of melanin in our skins. What a ludicrous reason to reject someone. It’s like saying “oh, your blood type is AB+? You’re not as good as me, I’m O-“. How pathetic a reason to launch hate at someone.
Be open enough to admit, please I invite the KKK to do this, that your hate is based on fear of someone who simply looks different than you. How pathetic you are for that attitude.
But Jesus did die for you as well, just not exclusively as you seem to think.
I love the joke where the KKK Grand Wizard dies and goes to the Pearly Gates where St Peter meets him and says “God wants a word with you. Your work has been noted and pointed out for special attention from the Lord, but there’s something you should know going in.” The Grand Wizard pulls himself up and says “What is it I should know?”. Peter responds “It’s about God… She’s Black…”
In “Boston Legal”, Alan Shore (played amazingly by James Spader) has to defend a family of White Supremacists, and despite despising their beliefs he does so – successfully. The family begin to sing “Michael Row The Boat Ashore” to thank him and he turns to them and says “You do know Michael was a gay Jew from Mexico I assume?” and walks out, leaving them shell-shocked, and the audience (in my house anyway) in stitches of laughter, the comedy making a very serious point – we’re all equal in God’s eyes.
The character’s open nature about himself and his flaws draws me to him in the same way another of Spader’s characters, Red Reddington in The Blacklist, draws me. They are very different men, but their common theme is that they recognise their own flaws.
So here are mine. I endure physical pain constantly. I found out why this week, I have a condition that has weakened my spine over the years (physically) and left me in constant pain as a result. Consequently I can be very short-tempered. People don’t get that. All they see is a bad tempered man weighing 200 pounds, often riding a motorcycle.
I carry emotional scars, more than I care to share today, but many which have been open wounds for decades. Raw nerves in my mind that trigger a short-temper when touched. Most of my friends have seen it and distanced themselves from me for a time, some of them years. It makes me lonely.
I have 3 people I consider close friends. They are all young women in their 20s. I get judged for this because I am a married man in my 40s. It bugs me more than I like to admit. My closest friend and I worked together for a while and had lunch together every day for a year. My family – especially my wife – knew about this and were cool with it. But I had comments made that were thinly veiled accusations of impropriety. Partly to bug them I pressed close and as a result this lady is my closest and most trusted friend. But I still wanted to show up the hypocrisy of the accusers.
I’m sarcastic and cynical, not qualities usually admitted to by Christian writers.
I find the practice in Africa, where I currently live, of referring to yourself as “Brother” or “Prophet”, “Apostle”, “Bishop”, “Pastor” or whatever before their name ridiculous. If you have to state it, you’re not living it right. I prefer people just call me David and be done with that. God will not call me by a title, but will recognise me by a testimony. Heck, I don’t even like to be “Mr”. I treat everyone the same. Some people are offended by this. Others are enthralled. Dignity and respect – but don’t take me for a fool because you interpret this as weakness.
So I try to be open
I wish more Christians would, just for a moment. Maybe then there would be fewer ex-Christians.