Thursday, September 4, 2014

LGBT Support in the Church

   Over the past year we have seen an immense increase in the support of LGBT ideologies and their place within the "church". There have been many people who have joined the side that claims that we need to just love everyone. There have been many people who have joined the position of saying that those who are LGBT are not in sin, and therefore should be accepted into the "Christian" community and given the same rights and privileges as those who are heterosexual. And there has been a decline in the number of people who hold to the position that those who are LGBT are in sin and need to repent. We even have seen this within the "Christian" music scene. Over the past year it has come out that Vicky Beeching has declared that she herself is a lesbian and therefore believes that it is possible to be a LGBT and yet still be a Christian. She has written several blog posts on the topic. Stating that she wants discussion and conversations to be started to help the Church to gain a better understanding of the issues that surround LGBT ideologies. However, in asking for these discussions to happen, she asks Christians to set aside the Bible, to leave it out of the conversation so that lines are not drawn in the sand. She provides links and videos to all of these other people who think along the same lines that she does, and yet she does not provide any scriptural reference to anything about the issue.
   In a section that she labels "So… WHAT DOES the Bible say about sexuality?" she talks about everything but what the Bible actually says about sexuality. She states,

   "The Bible is a complex book. A beautiful, holy and authoritative one. But one requiring illumination from both mindful study and the Holy Spirit (our God-given guide as we read it). There is no such thing as one ‘plain, obvious reading of the Bible’. Everyone reads through a lens. Everyone interprets. Many people argued that the Bible supported slavery until they put time into prayerful study and realised they were wrong. Many used to (and some still do) argue the Bible says women should have no place within the priesthood, and should never preach or teach in church. Lots of people have realised from prayerful study that this is not what the Bible actually says. Superficial readings of texts should never be the foundation of our arguments. Nor should parroting off the things we’ve simply been told by others in church. What’s the Bible’s model for figuring out truth? To study, pray and question! Just look at the Book of Acts where it describes the Christians who lived in the city of Berea: “Now the Berean people were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness andexamined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:110). That’s right – even the teaching that came from Paul himself was something they put to the test. They questioned it. They studied the Scriptures “to see if it was true”. And as a result the Book of Acts says that behaviour made them “of more noble character“. It didn’t make them ‘less spiritual’ as they questioned and studied. It didn’t make them less full of faith. It was an approach that is praised by the New Testament itself! So we have that model as our guide. We should never be afraid to question what we are taught in church. Follow the example of the Bereans and dig into this topic and re-examine it.
It takes work to assess the historical context of verses – like when Paul said ‘women should be silent in Church’. When we look at their historical context, and assess the original language they were written in, some of these verses they make sense in a completely different way than they do from a first scan. The deeply entrenched views of the church on any topic are unlikely to change overnight. They have changed regarding slavery. They have changed, in many places, regarding the role of women. But it requires work to get there; to prayerfully examine the Bible. If you’re willing to do that, I’m going to recommend great places to start reading."

   This is the total extent of her discussion of what the Bible says on sexuality. The only part that even remotely comes close is her brief mention of a scriptural foundation that men are supposed to be the leaders in the home as well as the church, which is an idea that she scoffs at. She uses the argument that people believed that slavery was supported by the Bible for a long time. Yes, some people believed that, but it was not a universal belief nor one that was right. It is reasoning like this, one where you take something that people claimed the Bible stated and yet it does not, that causes people to become dualistic. You cannot take something that the Bible declares to be wrong, even though certain people twisted scripture to believe that it was right (slavery) and use it as a basis for claiming why something else should be viewed differently even though scripture is very clear on the issue. Vicky claims that there "is no such thing as one plain obvious reading of the Bible", and while I would agree with her on a whole. Meaning that the Bible is not something that you can completely understand without the guiding of the Holy Spirit to open your eyes. However, this issue is not one of those times.

   In I Corinthians 6:9-11 we see Paul very clearly lay out what God thinks about LGBT people. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."  (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV) If a sentence that says "nor men" (meaning all mankind) "who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God" is not clear, plain, obvious reading of the Bible then I am afraid nothing and no one will ever be able to actually have a discussion with Vicky about this issue.

   She not only refuses to provide a reference within scripture to back up the claims that she is making, but she also fails to use the Bible as the "places to start reading". For her, it is not about the mysteries that are contained within scripture and the glory of God that explodes from it's pages, but rather she finds her comfort in recommending others to read the works of men as a starting point for this issue. I would also like to point out that so many like her would like you to read works by other mere men and use their views and thoughts as the background to reading scripture. This goes directly against the one verse that she does mention. That of Acts 17. The Berean people searched scripture to find out if what Paul had to say was true. This wasn't because there was no one else to ask or to read their work, but because scripture is the basis for all things that we know to be true. If we do not first start with scripture, then we have nothing to stand on and are reliant on what mere human beings have to say about an issue.

   This sadly is where so many people have gone over the past year or so. They have given in to the idea that mere man has the answer instead of Holy Scripture. That a "reinterpretation" of scripture is needed to "actually" understand it's meaning in our present time. I would argue that this is absolute heresy. God has kept scripture so pure and exact over the years that it constantly amazes scholars around the world. Not only has God protected it and kept it from changing, but there are hundreds of other old books that this has not happened with. And with the immense amount of Bibles that have been printed over the years and in so many languages, to see that much consistency is absolutely amazing. Instead of forsaking the gospel to try to incorporate a group of people into our congregations, why don't we first examine what scripture actually says and rely on God and not men to be the foundation upon which we stand.

   "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them."

(Romans 1:16-32 ESV)