Saturday, May 4, 2013

Another view on LGBT rights & the church

The following is a guest post by Sherry:

Maybe I shouldn't have titled this "another view" so much as an expansion on Bill's last two posts and an answer to some of the comments on the first.  I should also add that this is for Christians who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.  Non-Christians don't base their views about LGBT rights on the Bible and Christians with a more liberal theology don't interpret the Biblical passages on homosexuality the same way.

After reading Bill's last three posts and the comments, I have been thinking about God's ideal for marriage (sexual purity with no divorce) vs. the laws He gave regulating divorce.  These laws did not mean God had decided "oh they're going to do it anyway so I guess it's okay" but that God knew we were fallen and He wanted the rights of the societal lesser (ie, women in this case) to be protected. (See Deut. 24:1-4; Mt. 5:31, 32; 19:1-12; Mk. 10:2-12).  I think this is an example of how those who believe in the inspiration of all the Bible should view LGBT rights.

Laws protecting the rights of others do not mean all of their sins are okay, just that others shouldn't be able to take advantage of them. There have been two recent instances in the news that show just how much is denied to them solely becuz they cannot get married; it's CRUEL and it certainly isn't Christian or Godly or Christ-like or following the Golden Rule (given in at least 22 religions that I know of) to treat people like that strictly becuz of their sexual orientation.

My main thought though is that if we're going to deny America's civil rights AND basic human rights to sinners, then we need to deny them to ALL sinners. 
Which is everyone according to the Bible. 
Including me. 
Including all the religious folks out there screaming about homosexuality. 

But no one is proposing that; they just want to deny these rights to a particular group.  This time because of their sin.  Last time because of the color of their skin.  You see, the church has a long tradition of turning a blind eye to the sins committed by those within and focusing on the sins of those without.  Then once that sin is as prevelant within the church as outside (for instance divorce as mentioned in my previous comment) they shut up.

Jesus and Paul never did that.  They never lambasted non-believers about their sin.  Yes, on occasion they mentioned the sins of their unbelieving audience but with kindness and only to point out their need for salvation (see the story of the woman at the well - John 4:4-42).  Jesus and Paul talked the most and the harshest about sin to religious people - either saying that their hypocricy kept others from God or reminding them what God had saved them from.  Jesus made it clear in word and deed that He came to save those who are lost.  And He paid a mighty high price for it.

I thank God that He is willing to forgive my sin.
And I pray that His people will start looking at sinners as God does:
    as people in need of love and grace,
    as people He was willing to DIE for,
    as people who He LOVES. 
If we're all sinners as the Bible says, if He loved us all so much He would die for us as the Bible says, then maybe I should treat someone who practices a different sin than I do with that same love and compassion as the Bible says instead of sinning myself by showing hate toward another.   If instead we choose hate, then perhaps we need to reread the new testament.  First John chapter 4 is a pretty good place to start: "Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen." (I John 4:20).  And of course there's the story of the good samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)

And make no mistake about it, denying other human beings their rights as humans and as citizens, let alone as bearers of the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28) is not love. 
It's not treating your neighbor as yourself. 
It's not following the Golden Rule. 
It's hate.  If you're going to practice, acknowledge it.
And leave the name of my loving God out of it.

This isn't my first post here and some of what I've talked about relates to some of what I talked about in the previous post.  You see, I believe if we loved people as much as God does, we wouldn't marginalize whole groups (in that post it was single moms & the poor, in this post (and the two posts this refers to), it's the LGBT community) but would bring them into our churches, our homes and our hearts.  And until we love them that way, we are worrying about the speck in our neighbor's eye while ignoring the 2x4 in our own eye (Matthew 7:3).

Think that about covers that!  Unlike Bill, I don't normally open up the scriptures to others -- apparently about once a year and only on his blog LOL.  Thanks for the forum.

Now, to the person who accused Bill of teetering of the edge of apostasy, I have to say this:
Ever since I can remember, Bill has spent hours in the word on a daily basis, whether he was teaching or not. Since he moved up here, I’ve observed a real humble spirit towards learning what God wants him to learn, both from God's word and other sources (he probably had this spirit before, but now he's here for me to see it). While I know there is always the possiblity he could misunderstand something in the scriptures, I feel that it would be difficult due to the amount of time he spends studying and praying. The fact that he is willing to (1) apologize for his earlier legalism and/or judgmentalism and (2) fine-tune or even change his thoughts about subjects makes me believe God is answering him, not that he's falling into apostasy. 

God is so incredibly liberal with His grace and what I see in Bill's theological progression is a move toward a more liberal grace as well. This is totally in keeping with Scripture.


Bill Ball said...

Thanks Sherry

KenMullins said...

Thanks Sherry, first I want to agree with you 100% that homosexuality is sin. I think the crucial passage on how the church should deal with sin is found in 1 Cor 5:9-12

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. (NIV)

Allow me to generalize when I say that often/usually we Christians do the exact opposite – we judge (read condemn) those outside the church, while giving our fellow “Christians” a pass (Just like the church at Corinth was doing).

However I do see a major difference in what benefits we as a society “give” to our members. For example: “Should I be denied welfare and food stamps just because I have a good paying job?” Shouldn’t welfare checks be distributed to all Americans equally? I don’t want to go very far down this path, but my point is that we as a society give benefits to some members while denying them to others.

If you define/declare marriage as a “right” would you place restrictions on how many other humans, you could marry? How about the guy that wants to marry his pet(s)? Would there be age restrictions?

I suggest that the traditional one-man, one-woman marriage benefits society and as such should be encouraged by society with benefits. I want to be clear that any sinner or Christian should have the same rights to a fair trial and legal counsel, innocent until proven guilty, etc...

Bill Ball said...

Ken, I appreciate your comments but most are red herrings. I don't understand what welfare and food stamps have to do with the issues under discussion. There appears to be an implication that those receiving welfare and/or food stamps are somehow being given superior benefits/rights to others. Since you brought the matter up, I'd just like to make two comments.

First, many of those who "have a good paying job" are already recipients of government aid, whether they are employed in direct government jobs, or for the military, or by companies with government contracts, or whose companies received bailout money.

Secondly, many - probably most - of those on welfare and/or food stamps feel that they are the ones being "denied" a "good paying job" and would make the trade.

As far as "the guy who wants to marry his pet(s)," he might as well. Many respectable people in this country take better care of their pets than their spouses or children.

Your last paragraph seems to make a distinction between "benefits" and "rights" Who defines which are which? Is it okay to grant "rights" but not "benefits" to those whose behavior we find morally unacceptable? It seems that this is what the moral police of American society have been doing or trying to do throughout our history.

Constance Walden said...

No sin is justified. Jesus died because of our sins. Why should we then continue to willfully keep sinning?

Jesus made it clear in Matthew 19:4-6 when He quoted Genesis 2:24, that marriage, from Adam and Eve, was to be between one male and one female. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus says:

"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."

Anonymous said...

Great post by Sherry – she put everything so well, I’m glad you made it part of your post. How would people at the church treat me if I suddenly proclaimed I was a lesbian? Instead of loving me as Christ loves me, I really think they would immediately try to change me to be more like them. I get so angry when I read the self-righteous comments by others. Thanks to both of you for stepping out with good, honest, though not popular, thinking and attacking this subject with God’s word. I think it’s so refreshing!!!

Are you this honest at your own church? Pray that I will be at mine, ok? Of course, I will then be alienated.

Trent said...

I think the answer is to get the Government OUT of the marriage business. Much of the fears of letting Gays marry is that in states that have done it, lawsuits have followed to force churches to marry them that don't want to, instead of going to ones that do, as well as the educational material in schools changing. I say that if 2 willing guys.. or girls or 3 or 4, or a mixture or animals, want to find someone to do that, It is their choice. I disagree, and as Ken says, so does the Bible, but as also is pointed out none of us are sin free and for Unbelievers thats God's job to handle. If they are believers, that's a different issue. The government is to involved with church's IMO, and that includes the whole nonprofit thing. Personally, since the definition of Marriage is a man and woman, if the government is going to stay involved.. which they probably will, why not have a different domestic partnership with a different name with the same benefits? Also, include with any "law" that they want to pass (again only because the gov is involved in Marriage) should be protection of those who would have to compromise their beliefs and actually do the marrying or allow it in their church. Like many things, a lot of the fight is not for the issue, but wanting to force others to accept it as right. I agree in your right to have a relationship with other willing adults, but I disagree that it is right. Being adults, we should be able to disagree and still be friends. Sorry for the rambling, this is a very large topic.

So My suggestions that will probably never happen?
1) get the government out of the marriage business. Now there is no "Law" that needs to be changed, as it will be up to individuals.

2) Create a different Civil union with the same "rights" and call it something different. (as one homosexual activist said, "If I want a peanut butter and Peanut butter sandwich, why would I want to force people to call it peanut butter ane jelly?" (now we have adoption as a concern but other then that.. )

Grace and Truth