Thinking Through Scripture

"but the word of the Lord remains forever"

Tag: marriage

If You Want To Be Taken Seriously About Homosexuality…

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Christians talk a lot about same sex marriage.  As such an important discussion in our culture and in the church; Christians should be engaged in it.  Especially today and for the next few weeks, there is going to be a lot of heated debate.  There is a lot of anger and heartbreak surfacing right now.  There are a lot of important things that Christians need to be saying, and will be saying. But there is a difference between saying true things, and being taken seriously while you do it.  Before writing all over Facebook about this issue, make sure you provide some incentive for others to take you seriously.

Get the log out of your own eye.  Now, I believe that Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged” is one of the most over quoted and misused passages in Scripture.  But I think there is some pretty good application when it comes to the way many conservatives address homosexuality.

If you are not willing to follow the Lord’s teaching on divorce and remarriage, you don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to addressing homosexuality.  If you are having sex outside of marriage, even heterosexually, you better focus on your own purity before anyone else’s.  It makes me cringe when I read about the “sanctity of marriage” or the “Biblical definition of marriage” from someone who is, through divorce and remarriage, fornication, or adultery, rejecting the Biblical definition of marriage.  Hypocrisy kills your credibility and influence.

Don’t make this your only sermon.  This seems to be the primary hobby-horse of many.  If we cannot get through a sermon, blog, conversation, or tweet, without harping on this one sin, we eventually begin to lose some credibility.  Our motives look artificial.  It looks like you sincerely care about degrading one group of people rather than sincerely care about souls.

So ask yourself the question, who are you attempting to help by this?  Is it a soul, person, or community you care about?  Or is it some political ideology?  Or are you just angry and want to be heard?  That’s understandable, but not always helpful.  There are plenty of sins in the world to rebuke and plenty of groups to chastise.  There is also much encouragement to be given in a world as lost as ours.  The Bible covers a whole host of topics, not just modern political issues.

Have some compassion.  Please try not to demonize people with whom you disagree; especially not people that we are supposed to love and try to save.  I know of no conversation where this is helpful.  Think about what you are asking another human being to do.  You are asking them to deny their feelings.  You are asking them to deny a critical part of who they are.  You are asking them to deny any foreseeable future happiness in marriage or family.  You are asking for radical self-denial.  This is not wrong; Jesus demands radical self-denial.  He requires us to pick up our crosses and follow Him.  But let us never lose compassion or respect for those who sacrifice much for the cause of Christ.

I have had heart wrenching Bible studies with heterosexuals who have come to realize that because of their divorce, they have no right to be married again (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11).  I hate these discussions.  They hurt me and they hurt others.  But sometimes Jesus asks us to do extremely difficult things for the kingdom (Matthew 19:10-12).  So teach the truth, but teach with compassion and remember you are talking to a fellow human being, not the incarnation of evil.

Make a better stand.  This is not an argument that will be won with anecdotes, insults, or slurs.  To those who make their stand against homosexuals by withholding tips, refusing to hire, bullying, insulting, or persecuting; shame on you.  Not allowing them in church buildings, making rules that we will allow funerals for anyone except homosexuals, and general cruelty, will not only hurt us, but will give ammunition to everyone else.  Even if they are your enemies, “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27-28).

Persecuting them does not help anyone or anything.  It makes them the victims, and us the aggressors.  It makes us look prejudiced and ignorant.  And it certainly doesn’t make us look like Jesus.  While He never approved of sin, you will be hard pressed to find Him advocate cruelty or mistreatment of the sinner.  Let persecution be our burden and no one else’s.

Be honest about your worldview.  If we are honest, our primary stand against homosexuality derives from Scripture.  Sure, we have some social studies and historical arguments that we put forward.  Plus there are some blindingly obvious inconsistencies in the arguments of those in favor of same-sex marriage.  But really, if the Bible was in favor of same-sex marriage, we probably wouldn’t stand so firm against it.

The difficulty is that Biblical arguments are not going to work well at changing American laws.  A politician who argues all his positions Sola Scriptura will not be taken seriously.  But remember, our primary concern is not modern American law.  God’s kingdom is infinitely more important than the temporal American kingdom.

Same-sex marriage is now legal in this country.  Well, that is wrong and unscriptural.  Just as wrong as any homosexual practice.  Whether it is legal or not, whether “married” or not, the Bible condemns the sin.  The world will do what the world will do.  American law is not our priority; the gospel of Jesus Christ is our priority.  Regardless of what laws our country passes, we can still practice Christianity and Biblical morality (even if under persecution).

Christianity did not originate as a world power, but as a persecuted religion.  Yet it managed to change the world.  The divine mandates of Christianity were not given to govern countries but to govern lives.  Rome did not follow Christian morality and neither does America.  But our responsibility does not change.  If every law is against you, do not fear as long as God is with you.  We change lives, countries, and the world by living and teaching Jesus.  It’s not hopeless, and we don’t need government approval of our message.  We need conviction, zeal, perspective, sincerity, patience, faith, hope, and love.

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A Tradition to Help your Marriage

marriage

Since I have been married, every night before going to sleep, I take my wife (Lauren) by the hand, I say a prayer, then give her a kiss.  We always mention several things during this prayer.  We always thank God for our marriage and pray that we continue to grow in our love for each other.  We thank God for the church that we work with and pray for growth and strength in the congregation.  We always pray for Lauren’s sisters and their spiritual wellbeing.  We pray for several by name who have fallen away. And we thank God for the hope and salvation we have through Jesus.  These are staples in every nightly prayer.

We also add various things as they come up, prayer requests, concerns, blessings to give thanks for, etc.  But this is one of the most important traditions in our marriage.  It has helped our marriage in many ways and I would encourage any married couple to do this.  Especially the husbands.  Take the initiative.  Take your wife’s hand. And lead her in prayer.  Here are a few reasons why:

It Reminds You of Your Priorities

This reminds us every single night what is most important.  Sometimes we are tired.  Sometimes we are busy.  And believe it or not sometimes we have arguments.  But we always make this a priority.  Do you know what helps solve an argument faster than anything else?  Taking your wife by the hand, thanking God for her, your marriage, your common salvation, and then giving her a kiss.

Do you know what the important things are?  Your faith, your relationship, your marriage, your family, your hope, and your salvation.  These things are far more important than some point you are trying to prove.  We don’t go to bed angry (Ephesians 4:26).  We go to bed thankful.

It Strengthens your Marriage

Not only does this prayer help in conflict resolution, but it will strengthen your marriage in many other ways.  Because of this prayer, we go to bed at the same time (nearly) every single night.  We also communicate, both with God and each other about the most important happenings in our lives.  From what I have been told once or twice, communication is somewhat important in a marriage.  The best form of communication in a marriage is when you talk with each other, and then talk with God.

My wife sees me praying for her and her family every night.  She sees me praying for our marriage, our faith, and our church family.  She loves me because of that.  And I love being able to lead her in that prayer.  I know that she supports everything I am saying and is praying to God through my words.  That is a big responsibility, but it makes our marriage strong.

It Solidifies your Faith

Prayer has a lot of benefits. It is encouraging and relationship building when I know someone is praying for me. It relieves stress to be able to formulate into words my thoughts and struggles and offer them to God.  But the greatest benefit of prayer is not what we do while praying, but what God does while answering. God answers prayers.  One of the best ways to test that is with a consistent and persistent prayer life.

He often does so in ways that we could never predict or imagine.  Sometimes even while He is answering them, we don’t see it.  Then years later, we look back and realize, “Oh, I see what happened there.”  If you are not a Christian, that might sound extremely cliché or corny.  But if you are a Christian, you know what I am talking about. We have had prayers answered. It has strengthened our faith and our confidence in God.  God really does listen and really does care.  Taking advantage of that fact alone will help any marriage.

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