I was meaning to post this long comment from an outside thread anyway because I think it is one of the clearest statements I have made to date on my view of homosexuality, sin, and how the Body of Christ needs to view it. Then, this happened:
A megachurch canceled a memorial service for a Navy veteran 24 hours before it was to start because the deceased was gay.There is a lot of discussion in the article about what the church knew, when, and what the content of some of the pictures were. From my perspective, none of that matters. I will grant the church its entire argument for the sake of discussion:
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Gary Simons, said no one knew Sinclair, who was not a church member, was gay until the day before the Thursday service, when staff members putting together his video tribute saw pictures of men “engaging in clear affection, kissing and embracing.”I will grant the church did a great deal to fix the situation:
He said the church offered to pay for another site for the service, made the video and provided food for more than 100 relatives and friends.I grant this:
Simons said the church believes homosexuality is a sin, and it would have appeared to endorse that lifestyle if the service had been held there.I will not argue with one word of what they said - except that they made the wrong decision: their principles are wrong. More importantly, they have interpreted Biblical principles very wrongly. I will get back to this at the end. First, that long comment yearning to be a post. [It is best if you also go read the whole thread] [there have been some modifications/clarifications to the original comment].
“We did decline to host the service — not based on hatred, not based on discrimination, but based on principle,” Simons told The Associated Press. “Had we known it on the day they first spoke about it — yes, we would have declined then. It’s not that we didn’t love the family.”
[In answer to this comment] I think exactly some of the translations say "natural use" - and the natural use, as in nature, is for our sex organs to be used in procreation - you know "tab a" and "slot b" for the purposes of making babies. I think "natural use" and "against nature" very much have to do with our biological design and function - and the nature we were originally created for.
You and I, and the Bible, believe that the purposes for which we were originally created have become warped by the Fall - indeed all of nature was disrupted by the Fall: we now have no real gauge of what God intended our true natures to be other than scripture and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We now have a "natural" (in our own nature) inclination to turn away from God and do what feels right to us - we have our sin nature, or flesh.
I think the passage in Romans tells us that due to the general idolatry and foolishness of mankind - God has "given us over" to our internal cracked natures - the "degrading passions" and "depraved minds" that we all share - in fact I think Paul included enough items so that no one could be left out [if you think you were, please feel free to amend the list]. I read the passage as making homosexuality "natural" in that sense. I have no problem, Biblically, with believing that someone could have always felt homosexuality was natural for them - and that heterosexuality is against their very nature. We all choose who we have sex with, but none of us really choose who we are attracted to. That is a very complicated stew of our experiences, etc - earned in a broken world. It wouldn't even change my analysis if it was proven homosexuality was the result of the in utero hormone bath or a particular genetic make-up - all of nature is cracked and broken. This would be just one more broken piece.
I think Paul, in Romans, identifies a number of aspects of our "nature" that God has given us over to follow. I kinda see it as a "thorn" list - mine has settled into a desire to look at naked women not my wife. To me this is far worse than homosexuality as thorns go - but the thorn isn't any less sharp on the other side of the fence. It seems to me that Romans 1:26-32 is not a list of crimes (even though they are); but the reading out of a sentence passed by God on humankind due to our historic (if not prehistoric) idolatry.
Homosexuality is perhaps the "worst" of the group because it does involve, for committed relationships, love and not lust. How indeed can two people caring and loving each other be wrong? God is love, right? Frankly, only the Holy Spirit operating in someone's life can answer that question - it is nearly impossible for me to do so; and I think foolish to try.
It is just not my job to convict others of their sin - that is the job of scripture and the Holy Spirit; or to do the work of the Holy Spirit in transforming their lives. "God is God and I am not".This leaves the author of the diary right on the money. Are Christians going to drive gays away from Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit - the only Person that can take an effective hand in leading them out of their sin nature and toward their true nature as the human being God intended at Creation. Every single person in our churches is a sinner (probably every day) and what are a couple of guys holding hands added to the mix: just a couple of more sinners - whether homosexuality is their sin or not.
And, are we as Christians going to "question another man's servant" when gay Christians tell us that indeed they have the Holy Spirit inside of them - they are in Christ and Christ is in them; and that Spirit tells them their relationships are not wrong. Especially, when it is over - really - one or two passages in scripture; and the actions of vehemently anti-gay Christians have run against so many other important passages of scripture.
I think Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin should probably just "love their (gay) neighbor as themselves" for a very long while; and let God handle their homosexuality as He sees fit. We need to help them get to the Master Builder, and He needs to remodel their temple to His liking.
Paul caps off Romans 1 with the start of Romans 2:
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?We need to get over our fixation on homosexuality, and the "homosexual lifestyle", as some special class of sin. Even if you want to say that those who choose to have homosexual sex (as opposed to choosing that type of desire) are unrepentant and continuing in their sin - so are remarried Christians who were divorced for reasons other than the adultery of their first spouse. Nearly all of our churches have folks living in that unrepentant and continuing sin.
I am not saying the church needs to accept or ignore sin in order to accept sinners. I am saying that our unrepentant and continuing demonization of one of God's loved creatures is unseemly, un-Biblical, and is driving folks who desperately need Him (as we all do) away from Christ.
Our church is supposed to bring the spiritually sick to the Great Physician so that He can heal them - not drive them away because of our legalism and moralism. It is time for this to end; and time to remember the second greatest commandment
Love your neighbor as yourselfI sent an email to the church in Texas - which you can do but I am not advocating. Just put an end to this kind of nonsense at your church.