1/27/14: What We Were

#HeartForTheWord

My husband and I just watched the 2014 Grammy award ceremony. This is the ceremony that acknowledges the previous year’s best and most popular songs and musicians. Like with last year’s program, the show introduced us to singers we’d never heard of and songs we didn’t know. We couldn’t understand the words of lots of the songs either, but that’s okay. The shows are always an education for us because popular music tends to mirror emerging cultural trends, and we need to keep up. If we can figure out what’s being said, we gain an understanding of the pulse of society.

Well, this year’s check-up included more than a glimpse at singers and songs. Something else showed up on the x-ray. Toward the end of the show, Queen Latifa presided over a mass wedding ceremony of about 33 couples, intentionally focusing on the homosexual couples in the mix. The Grammy show moved from celebrating just the music and the musicians to endorsing the message to celebrate same-sex unions.

The televised gospel music segment of the Grammys was cut from the show some years ago. Is it any wonder that this is where we’ve come since God has been kicked out of the show? Although homosexual sympathizers call it a “clobber” passage, First Corinthians 6:9-11 (NKJ) is still in the Bible and speaks to this issue:

  • Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

It is Biblical homiletically gymnastics to suggest this passage means anything other than what it actually says. The group on the show singing before the “marriage ceremony” sang of being gay with the lyrics, “I can’t change even if I wanted to;” however, this passage disputes that claim. The list of the unrighteous—fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners—is said to name what some of the readers used to be. “And such were some of you.” The word “were” is in the past tense indicating that those who had once been identified by any of the names on the list no longer could be identified in those ways. They were not those things any longer. They changed. How did the change occur? They “were washed… sanctified… [and] justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”

              The lyric “I can’t change even if I wanted to” must be reconsidered in light of the above passage. It is possible to surrender what we think “can’t” be done, and submit our desires to Him so He can transform what we don’t want to do into what He wants us to do. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Our job is to submit to Him; God makes the changes in us. Worship God who is our washer, sanctifier, and justifier; our transformer.

____________________________

©2014 Sharon Norris Elliott. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail at www.sanewriter.wordpress.com. Also, periodically check in at www.LifeThatMatters.net to see what’s going on in the ministry.

Pick up a copy of Sharon’s newest release,

Boomerangs to Arrows: A Godly Guide for Launching Young Adult Children

available from Judson Press (http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=17387),

 at bookstores, and on all major online book buying sites.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2JH_gbinMk

Also still available:

Power Suit: The Armor of God Fit for the Feminine Frame

from New Hope Publishers (http://www.newhopedigital.com/2010/08/power-suit/)

~ by sanewriter on January 27, 2014.

6 Responses to “1/27/14: What We Were”

  1. First off, you’re incorrect about the marriage ceremony – it was not 33 homosexual couples, there were straight couples wed too, many of them inter-racial – something that was illegal 50 years ago and talked about much the same way gay marriage is spoken of today; as an affront to the Gospel and something that would require “Biblical homiletically gymnastics” to defend.

    Secondly, I find it so frustrating when Christians take the 2 Corinthians verse out of context, and try to apply it to something it was never intended to speak of – sexual orientation. Being a “new creation” in Christ has nothing to do with our gender, sexual orientation, race, or any other intrinsic quality we were born with and cannot change. And yes, I mean this for transgender people who were born with the brain of a female yet the body of a male and vice-versa. “All things being made new” does not refer to something the writers of the Bible had no understanding of – something as hard-wired and unchangeable as sexual orientation.

    Being a new creation means being fully covered in the grace and love of Christ, and being freed from the bondage of sin. It does not mean we will never sin again, nor does it mean we can change things about ourselves that are.not.sinful. It also does not mean that, once we’re new creations, we can look at others who interpret parts of the Bible differently than we do, and determine that they haven’t “changed” the way we’d like them to. This is a misuse of scripture, and a complete miscarriage of Jesus exhortation in the greatest commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    • Granted, there were both heterosexual and homosexual couples in the Grammy ceremony. Anyone who watched the program, though, clearly understood the intent of the segment was to focus attention on the same sex unions. I didn’t realize there were heterosexual couples involved until hearing of it the next morning. The segment would not have happened if only heterosexual couples were involved.

      Paul, the writer of 2 Corinthians 6:9 had clearly heard of homosexuals to have mentioned them, and the intention and meaning of this verse is clear. “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” It’s interesting that fornicators, idolaters, thieves, covetous people, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners don’t take it as “hateful” when this verse is clearly understood to apply to them. It is not hate speech to inform someone of the truth, even if that person doesn’t like the truth he or she hears.

      And it is accurate to apply the verse about being a new creature in Christ to the homosexual question. Each and every one of us are born hard-wired to sin. And each and every one of us is responsible to Christ to live “not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” When we’re in Christ, we become aware of our sin, and must surrender that sin nature in exchange for the new nature only He can give. And with the new nature within comes changes without.
      ** Fornicators stop having sex outside of marriage,
      ** Idolaters stop worshiping idols and start worshiping only the true God through Jesus Christ,
      ** Adulterers stop having sex with those who are not their spouse,
      ** Homosexuals stop desiring same sex intimate relationships (there is nothing wrong with friendship),
      ** Sodomites stop participating in the sexual acts covered under this heading,
      ** Thieves stop stealing, etc.
      How are any of us supposed to stop these hard-wired leanings? We can’t stop on our own. We can only stop with a radical transformation that only the Spirit of God can bring about. But as the third person of the Trinity, He’s not going to force the change. We must first desire to please God fully and then surrender our right to ourselves, presenting our “bodies a living sacrifice.” That’s our BODIES as a sacrifice, which includes the brain and the heart.

      Every mention of homosexuality in Scripture means same-sex attraction and is spoken of negatively. Homosexuality is never celebrated in Scripture, nor is it ever held up as an example of what marriage and the family ought to be like. (David and Jonathan were best friends, not intimate homosexual lovers. Just do an honest study of the life of David and you’ll see he was exclusively sexually attracted to women.)

      The representation of the meaning of the Scriptures on this subject is indeed accurate here.

      • It really bothers me when people who oppose the rights of minorities say that “the Bible is clear….” that those rights should be denied. Obviously, this is not the first time this argument has been raised. I’d highly suggest you read this post, from evangelical writer Rachel Held Evans: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/bible-clear

        Also, I find your comparisons of homosexuality to thieves, adulterers, and idolaters really lacking. Mainly because I don’t see Christians taking a huge stance against divorce (which Jesus spoke against and is legal adultery if the spouses re-marry), or writing posts and organizing rallies against shows like American Idol, which “glamorize” worshipping and lifting up “idols.” I get that a lot of Christians who think the Bible is “clear” are talking about homosexuality because that’s what’s in the media now, and that’s something people are taking stances on, but can you really not see the difference between someone who is gay, through no choice of their own, and someone who steals money from another person?

        There are many gay people in my life who I care about. Many who are Christians. When I am around these gay Christians, I don’t feel darkness or evil or the uneasiness of my spirit letting me know something isn’t right, which I’ve felt countless times in my life when the Lord was pushing me towards fleeing something wrong. On the contrary – when I’ve worshipped the Lord with these Christians, I’ve experienced the Holy Spirit in a more intense way than most Sundays at church. But you’re probably doubting me. Why though? Why are so many Christians reluctant to even listen to stories like this? Why do so many Christians ignore the literally millions of gay people who have sworn that they don’t choose to be gay and can’t change their orientation? Why do they ignore the science behind sexual orientation being immovable? And why, WHY, do so many Christians ignore the fruit that is blossoming from the gay Christians who are being told they aren’t welcome in the church? Jesus said we will know one another by our love, and by our fruit. I’ve seen both from gay Christians. If you’d look around, I’m sure you would too.

        I fully believe in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. I know how He’s transformed my life, through the grace of God. I also know how He’s inspired me to take a much closer look at those verses in the Bible that mention homosexuality, closer than I ever did before, when I was sure they were “clearly” condemning homosexuality. No, there’s not any verses that paint gay relationships in a positive light. But there also is no evidence that Paul, or any of the Biblical writers had any understanding of what sexual orientation is, and how it is different than people engaging in same-sex acts because they were worshipping idols or inflamed with lust.

        But most importantly, I know that what matters most is how I follow the greatest commandment to Love the Lord and love others. And I know, from talking to my gay friends and loved ones, that posts like this do not make them feel loved, or welcome in the church, nor do they fill them with the same sense of self-worth that Jesus did whenever he spoke to sinners. I know that the LGBT kids killing themselves because their parents kick them out for being gay, or insist that they can “change” are NOT being loved the way Jesus would love them. Love is not love because we say it is. And the most important thing we should be doing as Christians is figuring out the best way we can love LGBT people. I think there’s plenty of evidence that the way the church has done it in the past, has failed.

      • Once again, you have side-stepped the Scripture and my point. You said, “I find your comparisons of homosexuality to thieves, adulterers, and idolaters really lacking. Mainly because I don’t see Christians taking a huge stance against divorce…” These are not “my” comparisons. The Scripture puts these categories of people together. Read 2 Corinthians 6:9. It is Biblically dishonest to accept what this scripture says as true for thieves and adulterers, and not accept it as equally true for homosexuals.

        And I made it very clear in my first response that Christians should take a huge stance about all sin in the same way. Telling the truth is not equivalent with hate and non-acceptance. Any sinner can come to church, and every sinner should feel uncomfortable when the truth is shone on our dirt. There’s a purpose in that. The purpose of the Law was to show us our sin so we would want something to be done about it. That’s when grace pours in. But as Paul says through the Holy Spirit, should we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Heaven forbid. The possible reason why adulterers and thieves and the like are not driven to suicide when they hear the truth is because they are not trying to say that their sin is okay. Our warm-fuzzy feelings, cultural/societal changes, and yes even science, must take a back seat to Scripture, not the other way around. Science has caught up with Scripture many times over the years.

        Science once thought the world was flat, but the Bible knew it was an orb.
        Science once thought the world was the center of the universe, but the Bible knew it wasn’t.
        Science once thought the oceans were just some vast thing, but the Bible knew there were “paths in the sea” and now we know those paths as the jet stream.
        Etc.

        Our feelings, our friendships, and our favoritisms must bow to the truth of Scripture. I too know and love Christians who are gay, who are gossipers, who are adulterers, who are fornicators, etc., all born with those tendencies, and none of those tendencies are to be celebrated as okay because Scripture does not celebrate them. All of us in any category described as contrary to what God wants us to be or how God wants us to live are called upon to call on God’s grace for deliverance.

        Satan would like us to believe it’s the Church that’s driving people to suicide over this issue. His tactics are revealed in Scripture too. He’s the one who steals, KILLS, and destroys. If he can get us to blame someone else, he has succeeded. Satan is foisting the same trick he pulled off in Eden. He’s getting folks to question God’s word. He’s asking, “Did God really say…?” And we’re falling the same way Eve fell. “Well, someone of the same sex looks good to the eye, it seems logical to be able to love the same sex as we love the opposite sex, and that love is desired by my body, so we take the “forbidden fruit.” Trust and believe, God is still going to come walking and He’ll want to know why we are still falling to that ploy.

        It is not love to celebrate someone’s sin with them. It is love to love them out of their sin and into true freedom in Christ, freed from the bondage of sin.

      • I am not side-stepping scripture. I used scripture in my response to you. I have a feeling though, that we view the scriptures very differently.

        I’m not a fundamentalist, or someone who believes that we are supposed to read the Bible and take every single word literally, without applying context, or trying to further understand the writers intent. I read the Bible not as a book of separate verses, but as a whole. It has a beginning, where people struggled with the weight of sin and the burden of sacrifice, longing and needing a savior, a middle, where that savior Jesus Christ came, and an end, where he died for our sins, freeing us from the burden, and ascended to heaven, leaving us to do His will on Earth. Jesus gave His followers instructions on how to follow Him, and believe me, I take those instructions seriously. I take the entire Bible seriously. But I also know, from my study and life-long experience with scripture, how often it’s misused by religious people, who claim that they know what it says and that’s why everyone who doesn’t believe as they do is wrong. It’s interesting you bring up the world being flat and the sun revolving around the Earth – two things you say the Bible was correct on, yet the church, for hundreds of years, was wrong about. People who tried to point out that the Earth wasn’t flat or revolved around by the sun were called heretics and blasphemers, and thrown out of the church.

        I know what the verses about homosexuality say because I’ve studied them in depth. I’ve learned everything there is to learn about the Greek, Hebrew, and the culture during which they were written. I learned about how sexuality was viewed then, and the “traditional” marriage of the culture that had wives and children included in the household codes, one notch above slaves. And after all my study of scripture, of exactly what those words were written as before they were translated to English and interpreted by the church, who has showed itself to be flawed many times, I am unconvinced that they condemn two people who love each other and want to be committed to each other in a life-long kinship relationship. I didn’t just come to that conclusion on my own of course, but with the Holy Spirits guidance, which I prayed for all along.

        This isn’t about “warm fuzzies” or me wanting to see what I want to in scripture. It’s about me taking the scriptures commanding me to love my neighbor as myself seriously. And I don’t see how you truly could believe that the way the church has been “loving” LGBT people is working, considering the suicides, the depression, and the lack of “change” – NOT from gay Christians who are “accepting” their sin as you would say, but the hundreds of thousands who tried, for years, to flee their sexuality. Every single gay Christian I know tried for years, through prayer, biblical study, even therapy, to be “healed.” And not a single one was. Why do Christians like you refuse to believe them? Why are there experiences, when weighed with scripture, something it’s OK to ignore?

        The church has failed LGBT people by trying to stick to a reading of the Bible that has no room for grace or the redemptive movement within scripture. The same way, hundreds of years ago, they failed slaves by opposing abolition, or sixty years ago, they failed African-Americans by opposing civil rights, or how fifty years ago they failed the country by opposing inter-racial marriage.

        When the Bible is viewed as absolute, without being read with the influence of the Holy Spirit, or love for the people around you, it will be misused and people who we were commanded to love will instead be hated.

      • You are not the only one who has looked to the Greek, the Hebrew, and the context when considering all the verses in the Bible pertaining to homosexuality. You have studied in depth, so have I. In every case, the meaning of homosexuality deals with same-sex relations – there is no contextual evidence to the contrary, and no contextual evidence that the Biblical writers were confused about that. The argument that any kind of “loving, monogamous relationships” are okay is an invented definition designed to inaccurately replace the consistent definition of homosexuality being clearly understood even by the Bible writers as same-sex relationships.

        Some churches have dealt with LGBT people wrongly, and those congregations need to search for much better solutions in reaching out and, yes, showing love. However, love does not mean that the definition of words changes, or the church needs to be called upon to call wrong right. Scripture no where affirms homosexuality nor monogamous same-sex relationships. Every time marriage is discussed in Scripture, it is in the context of a man and a woman. Even when people got that wrong and married more than one spouse, the marriages paired men with women.

        The Bible is not here being viewed apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit when its words are simply being portrayed for what they say. The Bible is indeed full of absolute truth and telling people the truth – which is what this blog does – is an act of love. Telling people that the Bible doesn’t say what it does say amounts to leading people astray, and wide is that path. It is love that tells the truth because it’s the truth — not a misrepresenting of it — that sets people free. The lust of our flesh, the lust of our eyes, and the pride of life may be satisfied by what we comfortably allow, but that does not mean that God approves. It is our lust and our pride that says, “I am this way, I feel comfortable this way, and I refuse to surrender to Your will.” This answer and attitude is not of the Father, but of the world. I John 2:6 states, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

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