Vulnerable Heart

imagesMoments that catch us off-guard seem to casually walk unwelcome into our unexpecting radar.   It amazes me how much this simple heart of mine falls victim to the trespasses of empathy that beckon my attention, my thoughts, and eventually my prayers.  One such moment hit me as I was clicking through the channels aimlessly searching to distract me from the luggage of migraines and another long day in the books.  My thumb somehow got the signal to stop clicking as I landed on a show that portrayed a homosexual couple planning their wedding. Despite my core belief that marriage is more than a vow, but a profound sacramental pledge towards God and family, it was not my assumed righteousness that gave pause to my attention, my thought, and eventual prayer. As one male parter who clearly took upon all the excitement of combing the guest list while his overly supportive mother ooohed and aaahed, the other young male was sadly quiet.   As the final rsvp was read, the sad and quiet male began to cry since it was immediately apparent that the last ooh and aah was not for his parents.  I knew in my deepest empathy that “those” tears were not the first journey down that young man’s cheeks.  His depth of loneliness and disapproval by his family despite being surrounded now by those who loved him was now finding my vulnerable heart. Although I’m for some reason prone to an experiential intimacy with God that runs the gamut of my emotions, my global understanding of what God expects us to honor is not swayed by emotions.  Yet…that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a shelling from understanding this gift we ALL share called love.  So there, sitting with a remote frozen in my hand, my heart sank as this young man tried to wipe the fresh trail of tears from his face.  It has been nearly a week since my attention, my thoughts, and prayers have continue to follow the sad and quiet soul created to find joy, laughter and a fearless love for God and neighbor.  Life is truly complicated, yet somewhere in the mess of understanding love of God and neighbor, all hearts will find a welcomed refuge.  I wish I could tell that sad and quiet man, he not only has my newfound and unexpected prayers but a real sense of my love too.  After all, it is not only my faith that dictates that everyone of God’s creatures find that indescribable and eternal joy that removes the heavy residue of loneliness and disapproval – it is also found in my simple, predictable, and vulnerable heart.

His Peace,

Chris

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32 thoughts on “Vulnerable Heart

  1. The Bible defines it perfectly – “God IS love” (1 John 4:8,16). Without God, you can’t have that Agape love that comes only from Him. On one hand, I refuse to embrace the militant rebuking nature of Westboro Baptist “Church” who pickets funerals, however, like you, Chris, I refuse to be swayed by emotion. We all make choices in life, & although we don’t choose the bodies we are born into, we can choose whether to worship the God of the Bible, or a personal ‘god’ that doesn’t exist, other than in our own mind. Part of the sorrow this young man is having, as you said it’s strictly because his parents aren’t attending his ‘wedding,’ but because he chose to reject the Biblical God for the ‘god’ that doesn’t exist, rather than ‘deny himself’ that way the rest of us did when we accepted Jesus not only as our Savior, but also our Master (Lord) over EVERY aspect of our lives. Jesus told us that if we want to follow Him, we will have to carry our own crosses in life, & that HE came to divide households. That is what happened in this man’s life. Even if his parents aren’t Christian, they still chose GOD’S definition of marriage (one man & one woman), while he rejected it. We all have personal desires that we have to give up if we want to follow our Savior Who gave up His life for US, so when we don’t, there are consequences to our actions & decisions. We have to ask ourselves – ‘Who is our authority – God or us?” I pray this young man finds Him, & if he does, Jesus WILL wipe away his tears.

    In Christ,
    Steve.

    • Thanks for your perspective Steve and I agree with your line thought. However, in learning to personally discern another’s lifestyle I have become a bit more cautious in jumping to the assumption that this young, homosexual male has rejected God. In fact, nowhere in my description of the event have I indicated his belief or personal struggle with faith (if there was one). Would you have assumed this man’s “relationship” with God if he was an adulterer, a drunkard, or a gossiper? The confusion to what is “Christian” and what God honors is at times in great disagreement and in serious need of prayer. Surely, I agree with you that the Bible gives us much to consider, much to interpret, and much to react to – assuming we have been humble enough to the Holy Spirit to lead us in ways of of compassion, encouragement, and ultimately what brings honor to God. Yes – it seems clear to me that my understanding of a sacramental marriage, bonding man and woman as one flesh in the ambient grace of God is not also defined for same sex couples in the Bible. Yet, somehow the divorced Christian, for example, finds solace and refuge and continued marriage to another woman within the acceptable bounds of Christendom. Sin is sin which leaves me with the inevitable humble task to encourage, to pray, and hope that refuge finds all in the arms of God. Therefore, my prayers join yours in that regard. Thanks for your thoughts my friend. C

      • I agree with you, Chris, that none of us can look into another person’s heart & ‘know’ if someone is a Christian (ie: child of God) or not, & that we have ‘all’ sinned (Romans 3:23). However, both Jesus & James tell us that we can know them by the fruits, & if their faith is genuine, it is ‘evidenced’ BY their works (Matthew 7:16-20; James 2:18). Jesus, John, & the writer of Hebrews also discerns between the kind of sinning that all of us do everyday (including Christians) verses ‘sinning willfully’ (Hebrews 10:26)/’practicing lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:23; 1 John 3:4). If a person gets divorced as the result of their spouse being unfaithful, & gets remarried, Jesus states that person’s remarriage is not considered adultery, & therefore not a sin ‘on their part.’ Likewise, if a person is abandoned by their spouse, that person is no longer ‘under bondage’ & is also free to remarry, without it being a sin ‘on their part.’ Even those who have gotten divorces that are not ‘Biblical exceptions,’ although it IS a sin, with GENUINE repentance before God, He WILL forgive that sin as well, despite the damage it has done between the couple & God. However, in the case of same-sex marriage, Jesus is very clear that He does NOT support same-sex marriage (Matthew 19:4-5), or homosexuality for that matter (Luke 17:29). If a person engages in this kind of ‘union,’ & calls it ‘marriage’ they ARE rejecting GOD’S definition of marriage & thus rejecting God. Plus, there is no repentance for this ‘practicing sin’ which is ‘ongoing,’ because they see nothing wrong with it, which is why Paul states that those who ‘practice’ homosexuality (as well as practicing ANY kind of sin), “will NOT enter the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). The most loving thing we can do for ANYONE – homosexual, heterosexual, man, woman, Christian, non-christian, etc – is point out their sin to them, but with ‘gentleness & reverence’ (1 Peter 3:15), as well as pray for them. But, simply being ‘silently empathetic’ towards them, & allowing them to drift further away from God, is neither loving, nor what Jesus would do. He would tell them the same thing He told the woman caught in the act of adultery: ‘Go. From now on sin no more’ (John 8:11). In Him, Steve.

  2. In our culture and in cultures past we all search for acceptance and love. The complexity of our human sexuality is forefront as a result of open agenda and tolerance where societal and secular mainstreams afford a pathway for lifestyles which are contrary and alternate of divine and procreative design. My personal hush is reserved for deep prayer and spritual guidance to love ALL despite my personal understanding. I cannot imagine the sadness that profoundly encapsulates God’s children who vere from what we know and believe as Divine Design. But, yet I can only respond in one way and that way is with His love which directs my heart. With united prayer and compassion, I sing All Are Welcome. His challenge for me is not judge but to be His Disciple on my humble journey. I too will pray for all involved…………

    • Beautifully said my friend. We must all see ourselves in need of rescue and join in one effort to encourage and inspire our souls to the One that makes all things new. Truly your words need to be heard and our precious to those who struggle in loneliness, I pray God affords you the opportunity to speak those words to waiting ears. Peace I leave…C

    • Tim, I agree with you 100% about the praying part. Secular society doesn’t realize (or accept) that Christians DO pray for those trapped in homosexual lifestyles, just as we pray for those trapped in pre-marital & extra-marital heterosexual affairs – both sins in God’s eyes. However, when Jesus says “don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1), He goes on & makes it clear that once we have examined ourselves, then we “can” see clearly to judge others based on HIS standards. If society suddenly began embracing polygamy, incestual marriages, & adult/older-teenager marriages (which in many states it’s been legal for much longer than same-sex marriages), how many of us would ‘silently empathize’ with them, including same-sex marriage advocates? Prayer – yes! Compassion – definitely! But our understanding of this sensitive issue shouldn’t be personal, but like everything else, our understanding should be of God’s. And, in addition to prayer & compassion, when asked what our position is on this, we should be as brave as the CEO of Chick-Fil’-A & explain HIS view boldly, honestly, & directly, just as the public ‘preacher-teacher’ Paul did (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), but with ‘gentleness & reverence’ (1 Peter 3:15). In Him, Steve.

  3. Well stated Steve. Recently, I have been debating with friends regarding our place int God’s vision for us in how we should discern- and more importantly, is our judgment of a situation unjust. In this specific case I am left with one option, to be silently empathetic in prayer since I have no clue who and where (or when for that matter) I am dealing with. I do believe n the power of prayer which should spur all seeking God’s will to act if the opportunity arises. Gently “pointing out” what you “understand” what does not honor God is well stated and beautiful. I pray we all have that blend of courage and humility in presenting our belief and compassion to those we discern missing God’s mark. Forgiveness is worth the prize of our self- denial. Thank you again Steve! In Him we rise, Chris

    • I’ll keep you in my prayers, Chris, that when the opportunity rises when you are asked by those debating with you over same-sex marriage, that the Lord will give you the words to speak empathetically, but also boldly, honestly, & directly. I was watching the ‘updated’ version of the “10 Commandments” that came out a few years ago, & every time the character who played Moses was confronted with a decision he made or a belief he had, he made it a point to remind people, “Because GOD says so.” Reminds people that unlike secular society, ‘our’ views don’t original from ourselves, but FROM GOD Himself, through the pages of Holy Scripture, which was one of many reasons He gave them to us – ‘beneficial for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness’ (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Ironically, when Paul penned this, he also called the Gospel of Luke ‘Scripture,’ where Jesus reminds us that God destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah (& it wasn’t because of a ‘lack of hospitality). In Christ, Steve.

  4. Thank you, Chris. I think I am where you are on this complex and painful subject. Your insight is both helpful and profound. Thank you for experiencing and expressing God as ‘global’, universal, catholic.
    Yours in Christ,
    Clif

    • Thanks for your words friend. As I continue to trod that dusty path towards Calvary, it is becoming more and more apparent that humility is my school teacher to approaching and encouraging another regardless of what I perceive as sin. I know my Savior has freed me to share His compassion, His mercy, and most of all the healing touch of forgiveness which has graciously – yet ever so slowly perfects me. Although I may not carry another brother or sister’s sin, be assured that I carry empathy and hope of our rescue. May the road rise up to meet you Clif – His Peace, Chris

      • Chris, although I know you have read this before, I encourage you to re-read Matthew Ch.23 in light of everything that has been discussed. Although Jesus is the One Who said all this, Jesus reminds us that honesty, in addition to love, empathy, compassion, & prayer, is necessary, as it would be to prevent a loved one from being hit by an on-coming car. I’m currently reading a book called “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” by John MacArthur. He addresses his concerns over the ‘non-judgmental’ views of religion & social issues of the present-day evangelical & post-evangelical churches. As a former Catholic, I am really enjoying it, as I believe you would also. Shine on, Chris. I pray we can be more like Stephen in Acts, & less like Peter during Passion week.

  5. Are you sure you meant Matthew 23? Dare we make comparisons to those whitewashed tombs neglecting such matters of justice, mercy and faith? Certainly, we Christians love our bad guys to distract our view from the very stains covering ourselves. No doubt, the laws of the Bible are good for reproof, correction, and in training to grasp the beatific vision God has planned for our lives – yet, as history to the present proves time and time again, scripture has been quickly interpreted as what compassion sees impossible to determine as mere black and white. It is an abuse of “authority” to dance upon the whitewashed bubble of Christianity as if the understanding of its very own forgiveness has purified the obvious residue that pervades all our lives. Your following statement to Tim, ” However, when Jesus says “don’t judge” (Matthew 7:1), He goes on & makes it clear that once we have examined ourselves, then we “can” see clearly to judge others based on HIS standards.” -is only “clear” when we remove the plank from our eyes (and…what’s that removal method?). Sorta like how many times do we forgive another – 70 x 7… according to the warnings of us being judged by the same measures we forgive/judge another — it seems prudent to error on the safe side of forgiveness. If we dare to “examine” ourselves, which you should expand upon, then you are willing to humbly go where your flesh crawls and your heart aches. The deeper we dare to dive into the darkness of our desperate need, the more clear our understanding of why forgiveness is our only infused virtue – not judgment. If we are willing to open our heart, mind, body and soul to the lamp of the Spirit’s jealous ways, then we will gain discernment, but even more so, compassion for those struggling against powers leading our brothers and sisters astray and ultimately to their destruction.
    Interestingly, God designed us to become one communal body which seemingly takes multiple understanding, compassionate, and forgiving relationships. I have no hesitation in telling another homosexual friend that I believe his/her homosexual activity dishonors God – yet it is the passing of some sentence or conclusion to one’s eternal fate and relationship with God that over-reaches the forgiving bounds of our humble authority.
    Personally, since I carry no man’s sins but my own, I am truly free to speak clearly, humbly, and (like you previously mentioned) gently – all in hopes of continuing and broadening the relationship at hand. If we could glimpse through wounds of Christ, we would see we are all hurting, all lonely, and all sad without the hope Christ can provide and perfect us with. Conceptually speaking, until we stand blameless and perfected before the Father via the work of Christ, we won’t have the capacity to understand the realm of God’s judgment. However, the precious gift of awe will keep us compassionate and forgiving until then. Isn’t it remarkable, that Christians are quick to claim a relationship with Christ, yet not one hidden behind the sin in the ones we choose to judge. In the words of Dorothy Day, “We love Jesus as much as those we love the least.”
    Just my two mites 😉
    Shine on,
    C

    • Chris, for clarification, yes, I did mean Matthew Ch.23, which paints the ‘other side’ of Jesus – not just as a loving, sacrificial, merciful, gracious Savior who died as ‘a ransom for many’ – but also as a rebuking, correcting, directly-honest Judge Who told us that once we ‘have’ examined ourselves & repented our sins before God (v.3-5a), that we CAN JUDGE others, because “you WILL see clearly TO TAKE THE SPECK OUT of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). Too many times, people, including Christians, won’t get past the words of our Lord from v.1 through 4, & totally skip v.5, which says that once we TAKE OUT our log, THEN we CAN take out our brother’s speck. Anotherward, we CAN judge others, but we must FIRST examine ourselves, based on God’s standards, & THEN we can judge others – again – God’s standards. And God’s standards ‘clearly’ states – without any room for interpretation – that ‘PRACTICING’ sinning is lawlessness, even our Lord in the SAME chapter states: “”Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter…And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:21-23). And according to the apostle Paul ‘practicing’ homosexuality will prevent a person from entering Heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) – of course a REPENTANT homosexual who has ‘turned away’ from their sinful ‘lifestyle’ & turned ‘towards’ God (which is what ‘repent’ means), which includes HIS lifestyle & definition of marriage, CAN enter Heaven, which is why we need to pray for them. In regards to Matthew 18, which Peter asks Jesus how many times should he forgive his BROTHER, Jesus states later that a person’s ‘brother’ are those who do the WILL of Father (Matthew 12:50). Scripture aside for a moment, Christians have to ask ourselves two things: 1) What is our authority not only on how we believe, but also how we act & profess our faith? & 2) What is our view of marriage, & how can we make sure that our view isn’t originating or being based on ‘our’ opinion? The Christian would be quick to say their Authority is Jesus Christ, but where they may differ is whether they think Jesus would approve of same-sex marriage or not. That is why when we as Christians say that our Authority is Jesus Christ, we need to specify to others that it is the Jesus of ‘Scripture’ – which is the Jesus of the 1st Century Who died on the cross for ‘many.’ This is reason why so many self-professed ‘Christians’ condone same-sex marriage, because they DON’T base their authority on the Jesus of “Scripture,” Who AVOIDS the problem of ‘religious’ & ‘personal’ interpretation, because Jesus is clear, plain, & direct that He is AGAINST same-sex marriage. So, not only do we need to pray for homosexuals who are hurting because they ‘have’ rejected the ‘Biblical’ Jesus, but also those who condone their ‘practicing, sinful’ lifestyle, & realize how important our faith on the Jesus of “Scripture” SHOULD be. In Him, Steve.

    • BTW, beautiful words by Dorothy Day, but I would ask her, ‘which’ Jesus is she talking about? – the ‘Jesus’ of the Mormonism?, the ‘Jesus’ of the Jehovah Witnesses Watchtower?, the ‘Jesus’ of Islam?, the ‘Jesus’ of Buddhism?, the ‘Jesus’ of Hinduism?, the ‘Jesus’ of Christian Science, or the Jesus of ‘Scripture’? Reminiscent of the apostle Paul’s first chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. And with all due respect to beautiful words of Ms. Day, one of the ways we ‘love the least’ is by correcting them when they drift from God & His Inspired Word, just as a loving parent loves their children by correcting ‘them.’

      • Good morning Steve! God has given us another beautiful day! Although this is “one” of those conversations that deserve a coffee and thoughtful give-and-take, I will blog my way through this. Although I may perceive your tone as rigid and unbending and at times totally perplexing, I truly believe your love of scripture and your want to be true to its meanings are at your best interests for all involved. Ideally, we are to love God and neighbor with all of our heart, our soul, our mind, and our body. The sacred scriptures combine to form a seed that is to mystically take root and grow so as to blossom with fruit by the merits of Christ, the tireless workings of the Spirit, in gratitude of the Father. The inspired words written in scripture, the very seeds of our intellectual and spiritual love for the Trinity have the capacity to illuminate the mercy, grace, and abundant love to us through steadfast faith. Ultimately, Jesus Himself transcends our understanding of the words inspired and written in red, so much so, that He alone is the source of light in Heaven’s unspeakable joy. Therefore, we fellow Christian’s have a job of allowing scriptural roots to dive deep within sorrow and broken soil, so as to blossom through our hearts, soul, body and mind. What I hear in your tone is we are to worship God with all our bible, our bible, our bible and our bible. Yes we clearly agree on the capacity scripture has for our lives and the saving gift Christ was to our human history. Yet the Word made flesh continues to exceed and baffle our limited knowledge of what God-breathed into text. Where we differ, I believe, is your black and white approach to scripture which conveniently has left out stoning of homosexuals. It is , in my opinion, a less courageous approach to Christian living to identify only with what transgresses the laws found in the text and especially the table turning Jesus then entering into the beautiful, broken mess of relationships with the same understanding of hurt in need of rescue. I must admit, your comments regarding Dorothy day are not only unique but the first to question her inspired words. In a sense, you as well as I should have a limited capacity when it comes to understanding love just as Pilot had in understanding “Truth”. Yet, what our minds cannot comprehend surely our hearts can. Your comments reflect the amazing gift with tremendous and unknown capacity to be sown deep within our humility, but I am not hearing the fruit of love but rather the structure of law. This is just an inkling, a rudimentary discernment and not a judgment meant to insult, but I believe there is more depth and more love you have yet to share in your relationship with both God and neighbor. Peace my friend, Chris

      • Good morning, Chris! Upon leaving work, I was delighted to see the absence of rain, & I found myself embracing just the touch of humidity, which I prefer over the cold we have been having. Bring on summer! Chris, I doubt either one of us want to get into a ‘sola scriptura’ debate again, since based on our previous conversations you don’t believe Scripture supports the concept, despite the concept being repeated numerous times from the Torah to the final lines of Revelation. I would love to share a cup of coffee with you, but, again, based on our previous conversations, I don’t see how it would be productive. But, the issue isn’t really about the God’s written Inspired Word, or even the fact that when Jesus was at odds with the Jewish ‘elite’ who were entrusted with the oracles of God, Jesus repeatedly referenced ‘Scripture,’ ‘Scripture,’ ‘Scripture,’ & ‘Scripture,’ which is ‘how’ Jesus wanted them base their worship of God on, rather than their ‘own style’ of worship, which is the reason their didn’t recognize their Savior & rejected Him. The real issue is: “If a person practices a homosexual lifestyle, including engaging in a same-sex marriage, are they children of God, & what, or who, do we base this answer on?” Too often, Christians try to make the Bible so mysterious, even to the point that because we can’t completely understand the mind of God, that we can’t understand His Word either. And, yet, although we will all be students of His Word until we are glorified in Heaven, there are a many things that God makes simple, clear, direct, & literal enough in it, where even the simplest of us can understand it. How else are we to understand what God approves of & what He doesn’t, if not by HIS Word? If we place our understanding in the people we trust, then what ‘rod’ do we measure to know if what they are telling us is true – about anything? In Acts, there were 2 groups of people – Thessalonians & the Bereans, who were ‘more noble minded than those in Thessalonica… examining the SCRIPTURES daily to see whether these things were so.” Logically, if a Christian doesn’t embrace the sufficiently of the authority of the Word of God for ‘doctrine, correction, reproof, & training in righteousness,’ then they are saying that their understanding of God is based on something, or someone, in ADDITION to that, or that God is not knowable. I can’t speak for other Christians, but as for me, I have a better understanding of God’s expectations for me, based on what He has revealed to me in His Word, & He loved me enough to communicate it to me in a way I could understand – literally, & in parables, which are later explained by Christ Himself. Unlike Pilate, I KNOW what the Truth is, because our Savior tells us that HE IS the Truth, & Truth is not confusing nor mysterious beyond comprehension nor a fuzzy shade of gray, but rather clear, intimate, & knowable. Too many times, Christians tend to either ‘overallegorize’ Jesus’ messages or become so poetic, they completely miss what Jesus is actually trying to communicate to us. So, Chris, I ask you: “Does God find homosexuality wrong, including same-sex marriage? Are they doing the ‘will’ of God with their ‘practicing lifestyle?’ Are they ‘children of God?’ by engaging in it. And what, or who, do you base your answer on?” If you have ever seen the Christian movie ‘Time Changer’ with Gavin McLeod (the captain of ‘Love Boat’), to paraphrase him, “It’s not enough to tell a child that what they are doing is wrong, but that the ‘JESUS’ of SCRIPTURE said it is wrong.” A child needs to know ‘Who’ the Authority is in determining the difference between right & wrong, otherwise, we allow right & wrong to be determined by the individual, which can be disastrous, since many people have their ‘own’ understanding of right & wrong, as well as their ‘own’ understanding of Jesus (which is why I made the comment about Dorothy Day’s quote – “WHICH Jesus?”) In Christ, Steve.

  6. One quick thought regarding “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore” by John MacArthur… Consider the woman caught in adultery, the very action Jesus hates, yet spares her from stoning because of the INABILITY of members of the angry mob to remove the plank from their eyes so they may act in just judgment and stone her to death according to the Law. This incident does not compromise the Law, Jesus has not gone “soft” towards the will of His Father, rather this is a huge learning moment for all who are fortunate to gain understanding from reading this event. Jesus came not to condemn but rather to save while He was human… so then should we. Be brave and love like Him, Chris

    • In order to understand the woman caught in the act of adultery, we have to understand what is going on. First, the Pharisees said that she was CAUGHT IN THE VERY ACT of adultery, which means that she was caught WITH the man she was committing adultery with. So, where were the man??? Like you said, Jesus hadn’t gone ‘soft’ on her or ‘compromised the Law’ by not having her stoned, but rather the Pharisees who were trying to trap Him (John 8:6) were being hypocritical, because when Jesus said ‘He who is without sin, cast first stone’ (v.7), He was quoting Old Testament SCRIPTURE which state that the witnesses of a crime are to start the execution (Deuteronomy 13:9; 17:7), & the only ones who were not guilty of the same sin could participate, which is why they walked away (John 8:9). So, this is a good example of understanding the words of Jesus by using SCRIPTURE from the Old Testament, which demonstrates that Jesus was calling out their hypocrisy, rather than this being a case of merely Jesus’ compassion. Where His love & compassion enter is when He tells the adulteress, “Go. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11). However, a person who continues to ‘practice’ a homosexual lifestyle, especially engaging in a same-sex marriage, has not ‘stopped sinning,’ but ‘practicing’ it. Plus, Chris, with all due respect, you really didn’t answer my questions: “Does God find homosexuality wrong, including same-sex marriage? Are they doing the ‘will’ of God with their ‘practicing lifestyle?’ Are they ‘children of God’ by engaging in it? And what, or who, do you base your answer on?” I would be very interested in your answers to these questions. Too many times, even Christians don’t really appreciate what the “Word of God” (the Bible) really is – it’s HIS WORD communicated TO US, which couldn’t be more blatantly honest:

      “Or do you not know that the UNRIGHTEOUS will NOT INHERIT the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, NOT HOMOSEXUALS, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, WILL INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Sounds pretty ‘black & white’ to me. How about you? God bless, Steve.

      • Hey Stevo! Actually in my first response to your first comment I wrote: “”Yes – it seems clear to me that my understanding of a sacramental marriage, bonding man and woman as one flesh in the ambient grace of God is not also defined for same sex couples in the Bible.” Do I need to follow suit with capitalizing that? Let’s try losing the capitalization and try stretching your narrow view of Christianity to include others not existing in your black and white understanding, which was taught to you through your obvious Calvinistic compass. The mere fact that you were influenced in many ways including the teachings by your favorite Pastor MacArthur (and now Gavin McCloud-wow!), makes your premise of what is “clearly” defined pertaining to solo scriptura as an unstable conclusion. Like Phillip teaching the Ethiopian we all must be taught. My schoolmaster spans 1500 years which offers me a true sense of credibility to bse my understandings despite fallen nature of some grasping for pride and power. There is mystery in the Bible as well as graspable concepts that enhance our journeys in many ways. Often times it is semantics that separates people like you and me in understanding individual perspectives that moor our faith in Christ. Although you tend to orbit out on these conversations in hopes of proving Steve’s faith perspective, I believe you missed the boat of my intentions in the blog. Yes, sin is sin, and the unrighteous defined by some of the descriptions I have fallen under in regrettable moments, yet you my friend seem to feel empowered to capitalize that condemnation. It is a warning for sure that must be taken seriously, yet it is not a license to judge. If you have fallen under anyone of those descriptions regarding disinheritance, would it be hypocritical to shame another. The only authority we have is forgiveness which allows us to partake in our very salvation and hopefully encourage the forgiven towards the same end.
        All and all, I’m glad your spirituality is unique and different from mine, since as a body, we may be able to strengthen one another and reflect the hope of Christ more brilliantly…yet I may not forgive you for making me hum the love boat theme for the rest of the day! Peace, Chris

      • Chris, I guess I’m left a little confused by your response. On one had you said your “understanding of a sacramental marriage, bonding man and woman as one flesh in the ambient grace of God is not also defined for same sex couples in the Bible.” But then in the next breath, you accuse me of my “narrow view of Christianity to include others not existing in your black and white understanding.” Time & again, I make it a point to make clear that it’s not ‘my view,’ ‘my understanding,’ or ‘my interpretation’ of Biblical issues, but rather a direct understanding from the ‘Bible,’ by studying the text from the original Inspired languages, rather than the uninspired English or Latin, taking it into context with surrounding passage (like the woman caught in the act of adultery, & Jesus’ ‘whole’ message beyond Matthew 7:1), & compare it the Bible’s message as a ‘whole,’ but also without ‘quote mining’ the Bible either. In order for it to be ‘my understanding,’ I would have to ‘add’ to Scripture ‘my understanding’ to fit my personal or religious opinion of Jesus’ message of the text. Rather, I don’t do that, but go ‘strictly’ by what He actually says, without allowing my personal views to get in the way. Regarding Calvinism, I understand that it conflicts with your Catholic worldview, but after studying relevant Biblical passages (and, again, in the Inspired languages) & comparing Calvinism to the Bible’s message a whole, it is a Biblically-based.understanding, rather than a religious or personal one: People can’t come to a knowledge of Jesus on their own unless the Father draws Him; Jesus didn’t die of the cross for ‘everybody’ because that would mean the Lamb of God took away the sins of ‘everybody’ & ‘everybody’ would go to Heaven which contradicts the words of Jesus (Matthew 7:13-14) Who came as a ‘ransom for many’ (not ‘everybody’), etc. So, unlike a lot of Christians, my devotion isn’t ‘towards’ MacArthur, MacLeod, Augustine, or anyone else, but rather ‘God & His written Inspired Word’ which their messages are supported ‘by.’ Again, like the Bereans, whatever message I hear, I use the ‘canon’ of Scripture as the ‘rod’ to compare them ‘to,’ which as you know are the messages ‘of’ Jesus, His disciples, & the 1st Century Church, which far exceed 1,500 years of teaching. So, although we must be like the Ethiopian eunuch & be taught, we have to be careful ‘who’ we are taught by. So, the most Biblically Christian learning experience is to be a ‘Berean Ethiopian eunuch’ – be taught by learned godly men like Philip, but then compare what they are teaching ‘to’ Scripture. Jesus told His disciples, ‘Follow me.’ That is what a Christian is – a ‘follower of Christ.’ So, I ask you, how can a person engage in a ‘practicing’ homosexual lifestyle, including same-sex marriage, & be a ‘follower of Christ’ at the same time, when Jesus, as well as Paul, made it so blatantly obvious that that ‘practicing’ lifestyle is wrong? I didn’t come to accept this Truth, until I examined my own sins & allowed God through ‘His’ Word to help me take the plank out of my own eye ‘first,’ before I could see clearly to remove the speck out of anyone else’s eye. In the meantime, I agree we should pray for not only practicing homosexuals, but also ‘all’ those who are engaging in ‘practicing’ sinful lifestyles, who believe that God is ‘okay’ with it, because as Jesus reminds us, that “gate that leads to life is ‘narrow, while the gate that leads to destruction is wide & broad.”

    • One more thing regarding Christians who rely solely on the sufficiency & authority of Scripture, if the Pharisees, Sadducees, & scribes would have based their faith on ‘Who’ their coming Messiah would be, basing their understanding strictly on the Old Testament (‘sola scriptura’), rather than ‘their’ personal & religious understanding of ‘who’ He would be, they would have recognized Jesus as their Messiah, & not crucified Him. (Please ponder on that for a moment.)

  7. Steve, in sum, Christianity is at its best when it is inclusive not exclusive for we are meant to be drawn together as a bride; a restless, waiting, forgiving communityit waiting axiously for its groom. Therefore, it may be best to put our conversation aside regarding your Calvinistic perspective vs. any other Christian perspective since it seems to rear its divisive nature. Surely you are not only fluent in the original languages but further grasp the context without any slippage in dialectal meanings giving you the advantage to bypass the rest of Christendom so as to enjoy direct biblical translation. Truly, you are most blessed. The answer you seek regarding whether practicing homosexuals can be a child of God is a great question which was not the intent of this blog. I agreed that the bible makes it clear what God abhors that which not only includes homosexual activity but also.. thieves, the covetous, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers – hence the road is narrow to salvation. My consistent answer to this has been to gently share what God reveals yet without judgment since I ultimately (nor you) can fairly judge another heart for redemption. Your check the box approach to salvation is probably at odds with faith and reason for you seem to guarantee salvation with complete assurance as if you can read your own heart despite knowing even the devout can only see themselves dimly. I am simply asking you not to compromise your faith towards sinfulness but rather humbly join all of us as sinners. Believe it or not I understand and can appreciate your zealousness to every jot and tiddle for it brings your unique gifts together with other children of God to become more like Christ. Please know you are consistent in quoting unlawfulness in geniune hope of preventing other sinners from ruin – which is probably why MacArthur’s book appeals to your literal palate. Christ’s stinging accusations to the Pharisees did happen as was necessary when push came to shove, yet His patience, compassion, and an amazing humility that led Him to the cross was and should be our will for the Father. Yes, even “Jesus of the Bible” brought in a time of grace and peace to promote saving and forgiveness – not condemnation. So to be fair, you still have still one unanswered question: “How did you remove that big ol’ plank?” If you are a confessed sinner, and possibly a wretched one in the Calvinistic sense only, then continual removal via “examination” like St. Paul who continued to do wrong despite his efforts, will you then admit you are practicing lawlessness not unlike your judgment of the homosexual? Peace, Chris

    • Chris, out of respect for you & since this is ‘your’ blog, & I recognize that this discussion wasn’t obviously the purpose of your post, despite our conversation morphing into it, I agree that we should put our conversation aside regarding the Biblical view of Calvinism, which is even partially sung during Catholic masses, verses personal & religious views of the rest of Christendom that are not necessarily supported by Holy Scripture. I also agree in the inclusiveness of the Father uniting His Church together, even though Jesus makes it clear that that doesn’t include ‘all’ of Christendom (Matthew 7:21-23), but only those who do the ‘will’ of the Father, which are those who ‘believe’ in His Son (John 6:38-40). I agree that much of Christendom doesn’t ‘know’ if their eternal salvation is secure, despite the words of our Savior ensuring us (John 3:16; 10:27-29), as well as the NT writers, such as the apostle John:

      “These things I have ‘written’ to you who ‘believe’ in the name of the Son of God, so that you may ‘know’ that you have ‘eternal’ life.” (1 John 5:13)

      I am concerned about your occasional use of the word ‘your’ in addressing what & why I believe, despite numerous attempts to assure you that it’s not ‘my’ view of salvation, but rather trusting in ‘God’s’ view of salvation. I also couldn’t help notice your comment “I ultimately (nor you) can fairly judge another heart for redemption,” but then you rebuke me for judging others using God’s Holy Scripture. That sounds pretty ‘judgmental’ to me, especially since that judgment is directed towards me, despite me saying consistently, that what I believe is based on God-breathed ‘Scripture.’ So, you may want to ask yourself ‘Who’ is your issue really with?

      Lastly, to answer your question, “How did you remove that big ol’ plank?” It started by God regenerating my wretched heart of stone, & replacing it with a heart of flesh, which opened me up to freely & ‘willfully’ receive the ‘free gift of faith,’ which ‘comes from hearing the word of Christ’ (ie: ‘Scripture’), so that I could ‘call upon the Name of the Lord & be saved.’ Prior to that moment, even when Christ’s Gospel of salvation was preached to me (many, many times) i “couldn’t” accept it, because I was totally depraved, since ‘no one comes to Jesus ‘unless’ the Father draws him.’ This ‘plank removal’ is the “I” in TULIP, which GotQuestions.org has a very Biblical explanation for with Scripture verses for support:

      http://www.gotquestions.org/irresistible-grace.html

      So, again, although we all sin, we don’t all ‘practice sinning,’ otherwise ‘no one’ would end up in Heaven, which contradicts the words of Jesus. Those who ‘practice sinning’ are like the Pharisees, who rejected the power of Jesus & attributed it to Satan, in favor of ‘their’ view of salvation. Those who reject the Jesus of ‘Scripture’ in favor of a Jesus Who doesn’t exist, & attribute ‘their’ understanding of salvation, like the Pharisees, are guilty of the ‘unpardonable’ sin. So, the ‘born-again’ Christian who although is a ‘new creature’ & has ‘genuinely’ repented, which is ‘evidenced by’ his works (but not ‘saved’ by them)(James 2:18) still sins, but no longer has a desire to ‘practice’ sinning, unlike those whose fruit demonstrates to others, like it did Paul, that they are have rejected God’s ways for their own. So, like, Paul, the ‘genuinely’ repentant Christian will still sin, but not desire to ‘practice’ sinning or ‘practice’ lawlessness. That is the difference.

      As we conclude this conversation, I pray that those who read our dialogue realize that it is not my desire for people to simply believe what I, or you, are saying, but be like the Bereans & compare what we have said to ‘what is written,’ including the Scripture verses provided, & allow the Holy Spirit to help them spiritually discern the difference between unrepentant ‘practicing’ sinning that leads through the ‘broad gate’ verses the ‘everyday’ sinning that is still not ‘okay’ but something every ‘genuinely’ repentant Christian does from time-to-time, but is ‘convicted’ of it & asks our Lord for repentance, but they still never have to worry about missing the ‘narrow gate that leads to life,’ because Jesus wiped away those sins too by having them nailed to the cross, when He ‘became sin.’ Peace & prayers to you. In Christ, Steve.

      • Thank you Steve, I am truly grateful for your prayers! Although our approach to Christianity may be at odds, I do learn from you and know your best intentions for bringing God’s revelation to others is your geniune focus. You are always a gracious and informative guest which any blogger would (should) be grateful to respond to. I mean that. Peace and prayers to you my friend. Chris

      • Ditto. And may God bless you in our Savior’s Name. Your friend & brother in Christ, Steve.

  8. I agree that it is not our call to judge. We ALL sinners, we ALL fall short. Our righteousness and rightness is found only in Christ. I disagree with homesexuality only on the basis of what the Bible says, but I feel the same way about murder, lying, and stealing. So for this young man’s pain and brokenness, I feel sadness. I know what it like to feel lonely and left out. I will pray that God holds his heart, brings him peace, and showers him with REAL love. Thanks for your post it was thought provoking and a real demonstration of God’s love.

    • Thank you for your thoughts Isgrir. I believe loneliness is truly the fruit of another’s insecurity towards what is different from themselves. I believe and adhere the best I can to partake in holiness and in my choice for salvation through this generous gift of faith in God’s begotten. However, as humanity is being perfected through this wonder of expressing and interpreting Christianity and the will of the Father, it is simply a mess of love, forgiveness, and sadly pious judgment. I approach the will of the Father drawn by the light of Christ via faith and reason. Reason does not compromise my faith – it makes application of the Christian expression not simply practical but doable. Because we have the luxury of reading what God condemns does not infuse the right of judgment into one sinner towards another. Our only chance of following God’s will is through humility to love and forgive as he did to us. Judgment is for the insecure heart who refuses to mingle with the taxpayers, prostitutes, and whoever else society deems as marginalized. My opinion, is that you won’t find Jesus in a book by John MacArthur, but rather in the slums providing mercy for those who need it most. Peace my friend, Chris

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