"'For his letters,' they say, 'are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.' Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present." 2 Corinthians 10:7-11
"God gave us these laws so we knew what was right and what was wrong. They are to be guides for our lives as Christians and they do not change because the world's views change."
"...the 10 Commandments, transcend[s] time and culture as a witness to God's plan for His children..."
The first post of this little series was an attempt to point out some of the historical references regarding the Christian understanding of sexual immorality. It is an attempt, no matter, in some people's eyes, a pretty simple one, that showed the early church adopting the important part of the Jewish law that spanned across all time and culture as a witness to God's plan for His children. There have been some more discussions about morality and differences in definitions throughout the centuries that does not necessarily mean that what was considered sexually immoral thousands of years ago, may not be today. I am not one to ever give in to a form of moral relativism that says it is ok to have pre-marital sex or homo-sexual sex because it has become more acceptable in today's culture than it was in the past or because of some debate about a specific definition used in the past as opposed to today. That is all semantics. Until God came and gave the laws and commandments to man, they were not aware that their practice of men being with men and women being with women was immoral. God told them otherwise and, to me, that is not a cultural thing, but a moral thing. There are some very straightforward cultural issues that occur within the OT and NT, but sexual immorality, as it stems from the 10 Commandments, transcends time and culture as a witness to God's plan for His children, just as I have stated above regarding the OT laws of morality. Rich Atchley in his book "Sinai Summit: Meeting God with Our Character Crisis," he makes the following point:
"Character is important. And the quest for character will be frustrated as long as we continue to use ourselves as the standard for right and wrong. That is why we need to return to the Sinai Summit. There, as we encounter the holy presence of God, we begin to understand that he alone is the moral center. God is the only eternal standard of good, the only source of real values. And in his instruction to Moses we find the ethic we need to become people of character." p. 31, emphasis added
I have point this out before, and Jesus said it Himself, that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-20). Jesus himself was a good Jew that followed the law, but tempered His dedication to it and taught in His ministry that the law was a guide from God to understand His will. It was important, but was not to become a god in and of itself, like is had for the Pharisees. But fear of the law becoming an idol should not cause us to abandon it. (Just like fear of Church traditions becoming the main focus of our faith should not keep us from continuing them.) God gave us these laws so we knew what was right and what was wrong. They are to be guides for our lives as Christians and they do not change because the world's views change. Remember, in all this, for those that fight for Orthodoxy and Truth, Jesus himself told us that we are to live in the world and we will not be of it:
"If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, 'They hated Me without a cause.'
"But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning." John 15:18-27 (NKJV)
With that comment, Part 2 will be posted shortly.
"Anything - anything - can be an idol. Religion can be an idol. Religion is not God but the worship of God; idolizing religion means worshipping worship....Every divine attribute, separated from the divine person, becomes an idol."
In all that I read, I came across this post, by Jonathan Marlowe bringing up the "Theological Irony" of some of the debates that we have been having on things. The one thing that I will give Jonathan a great deal of praise for is that he has taken everything at face value when it comes to the Church Discipline. No matter what the discussion, homosexuality to pacificism, he sticks with his arguments in support of the Church Discipline (although I still don't understand the whole pacifisim thing, church driven or not, but I digress).
Along the lines of Jonathan, I really do not understand the huge debate about homosexuality in the Methodist Church either. With each posting comes the usual comments, but when I really look at each comment and the posting, they are more politically motivated than anything else.
Homosexuality is a tough subject, I admit that, but why is it any tougher than talking about adultery or fornication? Simple reason: society at this time has been less accepting of homosexuality than they are of adultery and fornication. You cannot watch TV today without a show about infidelity or teenagers having sex. While the main stream media has taken homosexuality as a less complex issue and continues to bring it to the forefront in our lives, many Christians still disagree with it as a whole. The Christian Church is so appaled at homosexuality as a whole, they have trouble addressing the needs of the homosexual community and push them away.
I am tired of this worn out debate. I want to say my peace and move on to more pressing matters in life (like what the heck are I getting my wife for Valentine's Day). Here is a list of possibly not so insightful insights into this issue without dragging political correctness, folkways and mores, church doctrine, and societal acceptance into this. Let's just address it from the point of view of the Bible.
First off, to warn you, I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. I believe in the greater "meta-narrative" (as described by Mark Driscoll here). I believe God meant what He said and said what He meant in the overall writing of the bible. I do not take the Bible literally, i.e., 1 day in creation was 24 of our hours, but I understand that no matter how "silly" some things in the Bible may seem to you, God inspired those words to be written for a reason. With that, here it goes.
1.) Homosexuality is wrong - Here is where the problem starts. If I, as a Christian, am going to say that homosexuality is wrong and I dispise it, then I should be jumping on the anti-adultery bandwagon, the no sex before marriage bandwagon, the anti-pornography bandwagon, the do not divorce your wife for anything but infidelity bandwagon. Homosexuality falls under that umbrella defined in Leviticus 18 under the Laws of Morality. It is a sexual immoral act, just as all the others that I mentioned above.
Some of you are already arguing as to following the laws of the Old Testament...Well here are a few reasons:
Acts 15 - Council at Jerusalem - The apostles and the elders are debating what laws the Jews and the Gentiles should follow when they become Christian. Since most of you reading this are now Jewish, I will skip to the Gentile part of this.
It was at this time in the early church that the distinction that we are no longer bond by the law, but we were all saved by Christ's death, resurrection, and grace is defined. Peter understood that ALL MEN, Gentile or Jew, have been saved in the same manner and have been touched by the Holy Spirit. With this understanding, he asked in Acts 15:10:
"Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?" (NKJV)
Peter questions why the Apostles and Elders were telling the Gentiles they must fall under the Old Law when even the Jewish forefathers failed at compliance, thus the need for Christ Jesus. A compromise is made when Paul, Barnabas, Judas named Barnabas, and Silas send this letter to the council:
"They wrote this, letter by them:
The apostles, the elders, and the brethren,
To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:
Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised and keep the law" -to whom we gave no such commandment - it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.
Farewell. " Acts 15:23-29 (NKJV)