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Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Homosexuality: Can Christians agree to disagree?

Mentors are awesome!!!!

As a pastor, sometimes it’s tough to ask questions because I’m supposed to be the guy that has the answers to the questions.  That’s part of why I started this blog.  Sometimes I need the dialogue and unfortunately I sometimes have to resort to anonymity in order to get that honest dialogue.

My mentor though, is another great resource.  He lets me use him as a sounding board.  He’s somebody that I can ask questions without being judged.  Somebody that I can ask questions that other people would be offended by.

This is a conversation that he and I had last week via text message.  I tried to clean up the text language a bit but it’s still kinda rough.  You should be able to get the idea though.

Me: Okay so I’m trying to figure out where the line is.  Romans 14 says don’t judge one another, especially when it comes to Christian Freedom.  1Cor 5 Paul calls out a guy in sin and says kick him out.  Where’s the line, we are allowed to disagree on the Ten Commandments (sabbath) and on clean food but not on other things.  I’m struggling to see the difference.  Could homosexuality by a “Christian Freedom”? If not… Why?

Him: I think the line is where there is clear do’s and don’ts in the Bible.  Don’t murder is pretty clear.  But no clear teaching on smoking for instance.  Of course, some see the sexuality passages as nebulous but they really aren’t.

Me: So Christians can disagree on food and the Sabbath but can Christians disagree on hermeneutics?  Cause I think that’s what a lot of the sexuality stuff is.

Him: Hmmmm.  How is it hermeneutics?  Do you think it’s a matter of interpretation?  Or do you think that it is an issue of bibliology/authority of Scripture?  Trying to understand.

Me: I think there is a growing group within the church that holds to the authority of scripture but doesn’t see the bible condemning monogamous homosexual relationships.  They are reading the same Bible as me but they are reading it differently.

Him: Well I agree those folks are growing in number.  The issue is what is causing them to read it differently?  What commitments do u/they have that are different?  Those differences are not necessarily just hermeneutic in nature.  Could be value of scripture, theory of inspiration, etc. See what I mean?

Me:  I get what you mean but I don’t know that I see them making a different decision related to inspiration, or authority, it’s cultural context, that is debated.  Namely that orientation wasn’t a thing first century and that homosexuality then was predominantly homosexual rape.  If that’s the case, which I’m not yet convinced of, then I can see how they can argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn same sex monogamy but rather same sex rape.  At the end of the day I’m not convinced by their arguments but I’m also not convinced by Calvinism or Complementarianism.

Him: Hmmmm Interesting but nothing in the Biblical passages speaks of coercion or forced sex.  I think you have to eisegete that into the text.  The OT condemns rape and then separately condemns homosexuality.  It would then follow that prohibitions against homosexuality in the OT don’t assume non consesual sex.  First century Jews were more shaped by the OT than Greco Roman categories.  So as Paul writes he is more likely to be thinking OT than cultural practices.  Their argument requires eisegesis and special pleading and is just thin – nearly an argument from silence.

Me: I agree that the argument is thin but how do we deal with those that don’t agree.  Romans 14 principle seems to say don’t judge, let God deal with them.  1 Cor 5 principle seems to say kick them out.

Him: Well don’t judge doesn’t mean don’t condemn sin.  We are supposed to correct those who don’t repent of sin (Matt 18) even to the point of denying them fellowship (1 Cor 5).  Condemnation/judging seems to be final declaration of eternal death sentence with no intent to further encouragement to repent and return to God.

Me: Any possibility that the issue of homosexuality is the modern equivalent of first century circumcision?  I don’t want to be the foolish Galatian that adds being straight to the gospel of faith alone in Christ alone.  Matthew 18 seems to be someone who has offended and refuses to strive for unity intentionally dividing the body.  Modern homosexual Christians seem to be fighting for unity while conservatives push them away.  Maybe I’m off track but it seems different.

Him: Different categories.  Jesus and Paul base their sexual ethics on creation order.  That is the standard and basis they continually go back to.  This isn’t a unity issue.  My citation of Matt 18 was simply to show that sin is to be confronted.  There is no doubt in my mind that homosexual behavior is sin based upon my exegesis and consideration of the other interpretations as well.  You know me.  I am always open to revisit positions. I have on this issue and I have just not been convinced by the new understanding.

Me:  That’s why I process with you and not somebody else.  1st century Jews were pretty convinced that circumcision was significant.  Also pretty passionate about their view of the Sabbath.  Paul said that neither issue was as important as they thought.

Him:  Because they had been fulfilled by Jesus – not because they weren’t initially important.  Jesus met the requirement of the ritual law.  All believers were still called to recognize the morality of God’s values.  Plus in the circumcision debate at the Jerusalem council gentiles were still asked to abstain from sexual immorality (according to Jewish preconceptions of that category) in acts 15.

Me: Okay that makes sense, so what do I do with someone like Rachel Evans.  Evangelical, holds to biblical authority but is convinced by the new pro homosexual arguments.  Is she still a Christian, is she still evangelical, can I treat her and those that agree with her as brothers and sisters or do I call out sin and then distance myself from those who refuse to repent?

Him: Well her interpretation is wrong and you can recognize that as such.  Is she a Christian?  I would think so.  She is just in error.  And we are called to reprove, rebuke and admonish etc.. (2 Tim 3:16-17).  But here’s reality, she is probably not going to agree with you.  I read lots of authors I disagree with.  But honestly with her I think her doctrine of inspiration might not be just like mine so I recognize that when I read and spit out the bones as I digest what she wants me to hear.

Me: Cause for break of fellowship if it’s somebody in my church?

Him: I need to ponder that.  I would probably preclude them from teaching and sit down and study the issue with them.

So here are my takeaways.

The categorical stuff makes sense to me now but hadn’t been explained before.

Homosexuality is in a different category than circumcision or Sabbath rules because it falls under sexual ethics rather than OT law.  If we put it in the OT law category, then maybe we can throw it out when we throw out the no bacon rule.  But if we put it in the sexual ethics category, which both Paul and Jesus link to the creation order, it’s something that sticks around.

What I loved most about my mentors responses is something that I’ve always respected about him.  When I asked if this issue was a cause for break of fellowship his response was not yes or no.  It was let’s sit down and talk about it.  I think that’s the thing that is missing most in this debate.  There are lots of people talking AT each other or worse hurling insults, but there are very few people that are publicly discussing it and in love, working through the issues.  I’m not saying that it will be easy but I think hearts on both sides need to soften a bit and fight for unity in an attempt to understand and support one another.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2015 in Bible, church, Religion, Sex

 

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Pointing Fingers in the Right Place

Does anybody have the courage to ask themselves the hard questions in life?  Presently I have gone back and forth in my own mind if I am even asking myself the hard questions that would truly improve my walk with the Lord. For example, all people have issues with different areas of their life and can choose certain ways to handle these issues.  One issue that many individuals are having when it comes to the Christian culture is the church.  Instead of church being a place of community, fellowship, and worship it has become a place that individuals make themselves feel better for being a Christian at least one day a week.  All of a sudden church has become a check on our to-do list instead of a group of people coming together to love one another and live life together, which Jesus has called us to do.

I was recently involved in a debate between friends and new acquaintances. It really got me thinking about the real truth behind people seeing what church is to them. A few of the people around the table were bible college students, pastors, and people hurt by the church growing up that lead them elsewhere in their beliefs.  Of course the topic of religion and Christianity came up and the conversation was heated.  From this debate I learned more about the church and the different ways church has made an impact on people.  Anytime people are involved in a church, individuals are going to get hurt, it’s just inevitable.  I found myself stuck in-between two sides of the debate.  There was the “on fire” Christians who are highly involved in the church and the non-churchgoers who have been hurt by the church early on in life.  I am familiar with both side of the debate (not just knowledgeable about both sides but experienced both sides) but really listening to the context of the conversation I came to a conclusion.

Nobody is asking the hard questions!  The debate was continually going in circles because nobody wanted to offend anyone on a personal level.  The only personal question that sparked a thought in my mind was asked by the individuals who were hurt by the church, “Do you really live the way Jesus wants you to live?”  Now to the Christians at the table the answer was textbook.  It sounded something like this; “I strive everyday to glorify God but will never be perfect because of the presence of sin in our lives”.  Good answer, but it really doesn’t help our cause as Christians.  The people who are hurt by the church or dislike the church still think we are hypocrites. This brings me to the question that should have been asked by the “on fire” Christians. Instead of turning away from the church, why didn’t you take on the challenge of showing others in the church that the life they are living is not honouring to God? Instead of turning away from the church, why join all the people who live to the world’s standards?  If you are hurt so badly by a group of people than why did you let them win?

There is a passage in the Bible that comes to mind when I need to get my thoughts back on track.  Proverbs 4:4-5: “Then he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; Acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth’”. Sometimes we come up with our own opinions and understanding about the way we should live our life, instead of focusing on the true understanding and wisdom of God.  The hard question that I need to ask is “Have I been in a daily walk with the Lord, or am I foolishly leaning on my own understanding?”

No matter where you are at in your life, please take a step back and ask the hard questions.  Even if it has nothing to do with religion, we always take the easy way out in life and just blame others for things that happened to us.  Who cares if others hurt you or me, if you truly want to take the next step in life, do something about it!  Stop pointing fingers at others and point it at you first.  You may find the answer you are looking for and it might just change your life.

~K.R.Morris

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Bible, church, Doubt, Failure, Religion

 

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