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I once was invisible, closeted you might say, but now I am not. It happened in stages, much like the grin of the Cheshire Cat. Not really invisible, of course. But part of me had yet to appear. All that anyone could see was what I cared to show. So, this is a coming out story. But not what you think. Exactly.

 Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some… don’t ever want to. ~ Cheshire Cat

This has to start back in the 1970’s for me. Back when Christianity’s poster girl, Anita Bryant, took on the Dade County, FL, anti-discrimination ordinance. She said if homosexuals were allowed to teach the children, it would be a moral disaster. And I was a new Christian, so I believed her.

Some years later, I wanted to prove that homosexuality was as bad as I had been told the Bible said it was. So, I went to the library. I checked out “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” by Scanzoni and Mollenkott. It is the seminal work on the subject.

I found the book interesting, but I didn’t quite understand it all at the time. Still, it opened the door a crack and let in some light. Especially regarding the meanings of some of the Greek words the Apostle Paul used, and the meaning of the Levitical prohibitions in the Law of Moses.

A few years later, this time questioning what all the fuss was about over homosexuality, I read a book by Mel White, “Stranger at the Gate”. This man’s story blew me away. It was so honest and so compelling. At that point I began to see that being homosexual was not an evil thing, and was most likely natural.

But of course I quickly learned to keep quiet about it. It seems the mindset of “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it” does not allow for asking if God indeed said what we think He said. Or did He possible say something altogether different, and the Bible translator’s ideas changed what God actually meant?

As the years went by, and issues like abortion overtook the concern about homosexuality, I concentrated on my own life and problems. I was so unaware of the whole issue that I didn’t even know who Harvey Milk was until the movie came out in 2008. And I didn’t see the movie until I watched DVD the summer of 2011. Needless to say, I was deeply affected. I wish I had seen it sooner.

So, the questions were there. Furthermore, I did not like the increasingly strident and hateful attitude taken by Christians toward both abortion and homosexuality. What I was seeing was not, well, very Christ like. Perhaps they were wrong…

By the turn of the new millennium, I was online and my searching became easier. One day I found a book by a woman who was a lesbian, a Christian, and who pastor of a church in California, Elaine Sundby. I contacted her and she sent me a copy of the book, “Calling the Rainbow Nation Home”.

Her testimony is beautiful and awesome. Any Christian would know immediately it was genuine, if you left out the part about being lesbian. Unfortunately, if you leave that in, most Christians would say she wasn’t really saved, since she is a practicing homosexual.

I was well on my way to total acceptance of homosexuality. When I returned to college, and got my Bachelor’s degree in 1996, my major was psychology. I learned that homosexuality was no longer considered a psychological disorder. My women’s studies course further broadened my views. As did the biology of psychology. Clearly the biology of sexuality and gender is much more complicated than most know.

Since I was online, I eventually became involved in Christian forums and groups. There, I quickly learned that I still had to keep quiet about accepting homosexuals. Most Christian forums don’t even allow you to promote the viewpoint that homosexuality is not sin. You will be warned or flat out banned, and will be called evil, unsaved, false teacher, and anything else they can think of. You will not, I assure you, feel the love.

Enter the age of Facebook. This is more to my liking. I can now finally be myself. Whereas I can’t express open support for gay Christians in forums, or in my church, I can on my Facebook page. And I have control over the content. Abusive people can be “unfriended” or blocked. It just doesn’t get any better than that!

I did eventually leave church, but not over the gay issue. My experience online and on Facebook led me to grace teaching (i.e. the finished work of Christ) and that changed my life. It also opened the way for unqualified acceptance of homosexuals, transgendered, and the intersexed.

Not that I’ve really gotten it. There will be stumbling blocks. Some things will surely still offend me. And I struggle with being judgmental about those who are judgmental. But love wins!

Now, after having read many personal testimonies of gay Christians, their horrible struggles, how they were treated by the churches, and how God brought them through it all, I am solidly a supporter.

One powerful story, and not for the easily shocked, is a book titled, “A Life of Unlearning”. It’s by Australian Anthony Venn-Brown, a former Assemblies of God evangelist. He was found out as a homosexual and was forced to confess publically. He was married with two children.
I have a few gay friends, mostly online. One is local and we have met and talked, and an awesome testimony of God’s love and acceptance was shared. All the arguments in the world can’t shake one good testimony! I could literally feel the love, the joy, the peace.

You have no idea how freeing it is to just be accepting. Judgment and condemnation sap your strength. Neither is from God. Both operated out of fear and performance and are based on laws and rules.

So, the Cheshire Cat’s grin has been followed by his tail and his body. Is he complete? Most likely not. I think he is changing even as I write. He is perhaps rainbow hued…..

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Is the saying, that we should love the sinner but hate their sin, scriptural?

Do you know who said it? It was Mahatma Gandhi. Does that make it wrong? Not really, unless you think it was God who said it. Gandhi also said he loved our Christ but not our Christians. Hard to argue with that!

In my Christian life, which covers about 36 years, I have seen divorce viewed as the “unforgiveable sin”, then homosexuality, with abortion thrown in for good measure. Of course, the “unforgiveable” sin is none of these.

How did Jesus deal with “sinners”?

Luke 18:9-14: (Easy To Read Version)9 There were some people that thought that they were very good. These people acted like they were better than other people. Jesus used this story to teach them: 10 “One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the temple to pray. 11 The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men that steal, cheat, or do the sin of adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. 12 {I am good;} I fast twice a week, and I give one-tenth of everything I earn!’

13 “The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. The tax collector felt very humble before God. He said, ‘O God, have mercy on me. I am a *sinner!’ 14 I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than other people, was not right with God. Every person that makes himself important will be made humble. But the person that makes himself humble will be made important.” *(the word translated “sinner” can also mean tax collector.)

Well, seems like Jesus was a bit harder on the Pharisee than on the tax collector. He said the tax collector was justified. Maybe it’s not the actions, but the attitude of repentance that justifies….do you think?

39 The Pharisee that asked Jesus to come to his house saw this. He thought to himself, “If this man (Jesus) were a prophet, he would know that the woman who is touching him is a sinner!”……  47 I tell you that her many sins are forgiven. This is clear, because she showed great love. But the person that feels only a little need to be forgiven will feel only a little love when he is forgiven.” 48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 The people sitting at the table began to think to themselves, “Who does this man (Jesus) think he is? How can he forgive sins?” 50 Jesus said to the woman, “Because you believed, you are saved {from your sins}. Go in peace.”

Jesus did not accuse the woman taken in adultery. He did not judge the woman at the well who had been married a few times and was not married to the man she was living with.

If this is Jesus’ example, who are we to judge a “sinner”? Who are we to say we love someone but hate what they are doing? It all seems to be one and the same to Jesus. It is western, classical, thought that separates who we are and what we do. Jesus saw people as an integrated whole, and treated them as such.

When we say we love the sinner, but hate the sin, we are really judging that person by what he does. It fools no one but the one speaking. That is not love. That is judgment. They don’t mix. Jesus didn’t do it. His harsh words were directed at the hypocritical religious leaders. Mercy triumphs over judgment, love covers a multitude of sins, and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds.

If we don’t get this, we don’t get why Jesus died.

All the emphasis on sin is not productive. It turns away many that need to hear the gospel of grace and freedom, but those who love them and are closed to Jesus because of all the condemnation. And it turns away any number of those you label as sinners. You know, that’s not the way to present Jesus!

The goodness of God leads to repentance.

I personally have stopped debating over things like abortion or homosexuality (but I have only begun to speak out). Jesus didn’t address either one.

Grace alone would compel acceptance without judgment. How do we know sin but by the law? And we are dead to the law.

Will not the God of all the earth do right? Can we stop judging others and just let them be who they are called to be in Christ? If gay Christians, for instance, make you uncomfortable, then just shut the church door. There are churches where the doors are open, without hypocrisy. But don’t patronize people for whom Christ died by saying you love them, and only hate their “sin”.

Don’t tell them you love them, even though they are naughty children. You are telling them they don’t measure up – that they are lacking in some way. It is not true. Besides, we are all naughty children – we shouldn’t throw stones.

We are all accepted in Jesus. None measure up against any standard. In Him we are perfect, but not in any measure we can devise.

Stop trying to free those who are already free.  Such nonsense!

Stop talking grace, and then putting people back under religious rules that you wouldn’t be able to follow yourself, like the Pharisees did.

I understand that this is a hard post to read. I didn’t come to this view overnight. It took a few years of study. To those who vehemently disagree, I say I would have too. I was in that place too,  about 15 years ago. Loving friends and a most loving God have revealed what is hidden to much of the church, and has been for centuries.

But love wins. God has already won it. He will win it for you, too, it you let Him.

Instead of getting disturbed,  go and heal the sick and raise the dead and set the captives free. Show the love of Christ to the world. Let the One who always does right work it out.

Food for thought: ‎”A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.” – Dresden James

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