Sunday, July 18, 2010

"Not Funny 'ha-ha'; Funny Queer?"

The "Innovation Station" Facebook page asked the following question.
Homosexuality and Christianity can be a polarizing topic. Some churches choose to ignore scriptural references to homosexuality because they feel it promotes hatred and prejudice toward praticing homosexuals and that a loving God would never condemn such practices. Somes churches have no problem with homosexuals attending their churches but draw the line when it comes to ordaining homosexuals or allowing them in leadership. If pushed to state their policy, they indicate that they believe homosexuality is a sin. Still other churches are openly hostile to gays and feel it is their divine duty to point out their sin publicly with little or no grace. 
In what ways is your church being challenged on this topic? How are you handling it?
I simply wish to post how I answered the question.

How and where does God begin his transforming work in a person's life that leads them to salvation? The woman caught in the act of adultery has what appears as an ambiguous resolution: "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." The woman at the well has what appears to be no resolution. Yet a transformation process seems to have started to take place in her life as she goes to find people so they can meet the person of Jesus. Nichodemus doesn't make "a decision for Christ" in John 3. Jesus never extends an "invitation" - yet we still see him in John 7, and then once again in John 19.

The homosexual issue is very challenging to the church today. Some seem to be more selective in pointing out this issue and making self-righteous pronouncements, than other manifestations of "missing the mark." Jesus indicates a surprise characterization of those who will gather at the "feast" in God's Kingdom in Luke 13:22-28. He also says elsewhere that you will know people by their "fruits" (no pun).

Is this an excuse for us to look at others to make a determination of their eternal destiny - or is it a caveat for our own lives to be living in obedience to his character. Again - the woman "caught" has a penetrating principle that involve the joints and marrow of our souls.

This present challenge is illustrated quite well in the popular 1996 movie "Sling Blade." The main character struggles to understand God's scriptural principles in many ways - including parents who used a facade of Christianity as an abusive and brutal governing tool. He articulates his perplexity with the issue of homosexuality through the character played by the late John Ritter (Vaughan Cunningham). Vaughan is a conscientious person who is upfront about his struggles with attraction to the same sex. Near the end of the movie, Karl asks Vaughan to assume parental responsibility for Karl's young friend, Frank.

Karl's final words to Vaughan correlate with Jesus' words to the woman about to be stoned to death: "I don't reckon you have to go with women to be a good daddy to a boy. You been real square-dealin' with me. The Bible says two men ought not lay together. But I don't reckon the Good Lord would send anybody like you to Hades."

The church needs to not dilute God's truth by ignoring what has clearly been characterized as one manifestation wrong-doing among many. Likewise, the church should not create a hierarchy where homosexuality is worse than heterosexual lust, or any other manifestation of wrong-doing (even manipulating numbers on a 1040 that benefits self).

Another teaching of Jesus is profoundly personal. It's the metaphor of the 2 men praying in Luke 18:9-14. We need to keep this teaching in our personal pipes and smoke it as often as we can. 

"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:' Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.' "