Saturday, June 16, 2012

Homosexuality-A Biblical Perspective

Ok I think it is time that I write this blog entry. For the last few years I have been trying to get my ministry blog (Mighty Fortress Ministries) up and running but due to hectic schedules etc., I have not. However, I have somewhat merged the ministry blog into this blog for the sake of simplicity. Therefore, you can read this entry here on Portugal Ponderings or you can read it here on Mighty Fortress Ministries. 

So what am I writing about? Well, I think the title pretty much lays it right out there. First, let me state that I am not a Biblical scholar or anything like that. I also don’t really consider myself any particular denomination. My beliefs are Biblically based and probably most closely resemble Baptist beliefs. However, I base everything off of Scripture. 

A few days ago, a Christian friend/colleague of mine provided  a link to a blog post by some lady that my friend said was an “amazing read”. So, I decided to read it. After finishing, I realized that the lady had some good points but was very much “off” on some important issues. I have lost the blog entry since reading it but basically her (roughly summarized) point was:  “When Jesus walked on earth, He came and upset the Jewish system. To the Pharisees, Jesus was a sinner and a blasphemer, but we know now He wasn’t. We know now that He lived a sinless life. If Jesus were to come today, I think he would come as a poor black gay girl. “

Did that shock you? I just was surprised that anyone would say that Jesus would come as a poor black gay girl. There are some important things to discuss with this, so I am going to lay them out in points below. 

Did the Pharisees think Jesus was sinning, and should we (as Christians) be compared to Pharisees in our day and age? 
Back when Jesus walked on the earth, the Pharisees did see Him as a sinner (John 9:6, Matt 12:14). They particularly thought He was blaspheming God (Luke 5:21). Truthfully, if Jesus had not been God… they would have been accurate. That is where the rubber meets the road though. The Pharisees believed Jesus was sinning because they did NOT believe He was God. As Christians today, we do believe Jesus is God.

The Pharisees also had distorted many of the “Jewish laws/scriptures” at the time.  They were what most people would call “super legalistic”. However, where does one draw the line between legalism, and rejecting the world? It seems very “hip” in this day and age to try to abandon many of the Biblical standards that were set years ago by founders of the faith. In some cases, this may be OK. I may offend some people (most undoubtedly will) here, but I am going to say it anyway. Some of the legalistic rules that have been falling away are things such as: 1) Drinking alcohol is a sin, or 2) dancing is a sin. The Bible says “Do not get drunk on wine” (Eph 5:18). It never says that drinking alcohol is a sin, but it does provide caution. (Note: there are some that try to convince others that Jesus is referring to grape juice. However, His references to “wine skins” bursting (Mark 2:22), does not lend itself to grape juice. Additionally, during that time period, wine was typically a “cleaner” alternative to water. Although it isn’t clear in scripture if Jesus himself drank alcoholic wine, he does not condemn it. In fact he provided the wine at the bridal party [John 2:1-12]). In regards to dancing, well, it isn’t a sin either. It is very clear in scripture that David danced (2 Sam 6:14, Ecc 3:4). However, as with alcohol, there is a caveat (such as “do not get drunk”). We still must apply the Philippians 4:8 which says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” If you are dancing in a way that is “inappropriate” and would cause you to lose your Christian witness (2 Peter 3:11-14) or cause someone else to stumble (Matt 18:6, Phil 1:9-10), then you may be sinning. Additionally, if you are dancing in a way with someone who is not a spouse and it is causing you to have sexual desires toward that person, you are sinning (Matt 5:28). 

So I think many Christians agree with these items. The legalistic rule was not “scripturally” founded. We did not “change” the legalistic rule because we needed to become more “current”. We did not change it because we needed to “shock” people. We changed it because it was not scripturally founded. This is where I think some of these more “hip” Christian movements start to have issues. They are trying to change certain principles because they are not “current” or “shocking” enough, and that is intolerable. So let’s talk about the issue above: homosexuality. 

Homosexuality is a sin. 
There, I said it. I feel it needed to be said. Too many Christians these days are letting society dictate what they believe. Homosexuality is not a “legalistic” rule… it is a sin, based on scripture, and it will always be a sin. That will not change. Here are some verses to defend my point:

Leviticus 18:22 “‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

Genesis 19:4-7 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom —both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’  Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”

1 Timothy 1:8-11 “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,  for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine  that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.”

1 Corinthians 6:8-10 “ No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!  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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Romans 1:24-32 “Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless. Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die,  they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.”

So, in response to that woman’s blog that Jesus would have come into the world as a “poor, black, gay girl”. I strongly disagree, since Jesus never sinned. Yes, the Pharisees definitely didn’t think Jesus was “without sin” at the time He was alive on earth, but He was. The problem is that they were basing their “sin” determination off of legalistic rules. Homosexuality is not a legalistic rule that needs to be broken. It is fully supported as a “SIN” in Scripture. 

I am very upset that so many Christians have started to just waver on this issue, or, they just keep their mouths shut, because they don’t want to “upset the masses”. Well, I think it is time to upset the masses. I am so tired of the Christians trying to keep up with these “hip” Christian sects. The scripture is scripture, God is God, sin is sin, and Jesus is Jesus. 
New “Hip” churches
Here is what I find (in theory) the “hip” churches base their theological views off of: 1) Does it make me happy? 2) Does it hurt anyone? 3) Is it loving? If all three are “yes” then it must be good to go. Then they push that belief on others. When it doesn’t agree to traditional Christian beliefs, they spout off that what they believe is more correct because it is “new, fresh, and shocking” and not based on “archaic ideology”. Sadly, people desire change, and crave “new opinions”. The problem is that for the Christian, any “new opinions” must (not just “should”) be fully supported by scripture. Let me break down each one down for you:

1) Does it make me happy? 
This one is actually used to defend homosexuality. It says “Why would God make someone like that if it would make them unhappy all their lives, isn’t God loving?” Well, first off, do I believe people are born homosexual? No, however, do I think people can be born with homosexual tendencies… or basically a weakness toward that type of sin? Yes. (For example: You probably struggle with some sin more than your fellow Christian, and your fellow Christian probably struggles with something more than you do. We each have our own strengths and weaknesses).  Here is the deal. God did not make us to be “happy”. Whaaaaattt??? You heard me…. God did not make us to be “happy”! We are here for the glory of Him (Isaiah 43:7, 1Cor 10:31, Eph 1:3-7)! We are not here for our own self-gratification. When did that become the biggest issue in life and in Christianity… are we happy? I am pretty sure that Paul wasn’t happy with the “thorn in his flesh”, yet he bore it knowing that God’s grace is sufficient and His will is perfect (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Matt 5:29-30). I am also pretty sure that many of the disciples weren’t always “happy” as they were being persecuted for Christ’s name. People justify homosexuality in terms of happiness. However, there are many people who probably have a weakness towards other sins such as: murder, lying, stealing, getting drunk, etc. It would make these people “happy” to do these sins. If they don’t get to do this sin, they are “unhappy”. However, we don’t say “well God is a loving God, so therefore, he wants them to be happy, so therefore, go ahead and murder, steal, etc”. No, because it is wrong…. It is sin! Again, we are born to glorify God… period.

2) Does it hurt anyone? 
Just because it doesn’t hurt anyone, doesn’t make it right. Should we try to be compassionate and loving towards others? Yes, as Christians we should (Eph 4:32). Should we put “not hurting anyone” above “what is scripturally right”? No. Jesus offended a lot of people, and He would probably offend just as many people today, if not more, as He did back then. Scripture is a double edged sword… it cuts (which is painful) and it heals (Heb 4:12, 2 Tim 3:16). 

3) Is it loving? 
This in general, is scripturally based. However, taken alone as a stance for determining whether something is right or wrong, it can really cause a mess. We must love God first, and then love others. We cannot put others and their “feelings” and their “situations” above God and His word. That is when it becomes a problem. Additionally, we need to also look at what God’s version of love is. Love is not just this “feel good” emotion. For example, when a mother disciplines her child, the child does not like it at that moment. Does this mean the mother does not love her child? No, we would all agree that the mother loves her child… that is the reason why she is disciplining. In the same sense, if we do not speak biblical truths to those in sin, we are actually NOT being loving.
So anyway, I am sure I offended a few people here, and I am sorry that I had to… but it needed to be said. Scripture is scripture, God is God, Jesus is Jesus and I am so happy for that! I thank the Lord that He loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us. I just pray that as Christians, we put on our full armor of God and start “being in the world” and not “conforming to the world” (Romans 12:2, 1 John 2:15). 

Loving those who struggle with Homosexuality
I wanted to put this as a caveat at the bottom though. Jesus did call us to love our neighbor. We are called to “love others” because “Christ loved us” (1 John 4:19). I am sure most people have heard the phrase “love the sinner not the sin”. It is a cheesy phrase but it does hold true. We can love the people, but hate the sin. Truly, it is the love of Christ that can bring them to repentance. Homosexuality is a sin…like any other sin. It is not a special sin. People are falling into sin all the time. We need to pray for repentance, and pray for salvation for those people trapped in this sin. We also need to pray for Christians who are trapped in this sin. Just because you are a Christian not struggling with homosexuality does not make you better than a Christian who is. If you are a Christian who is sleeping with your boyfriend, fiancĂ© (or anyone you are not married to),  getting drunk every night, lying, gossiping,  etc then you are sinning too. 

I would recommend anyone who is struggling with homosexuality and considers themselves a true Christian (who trusts in Jesus and wants His will above even your own human desires), to check out Sy Rogers ministry. Order his DVD “one of the boys”. It truly is an amazing testimony of what God can do!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm an Aunt! (Ya I know this post is late!)

As many of you know, this January my sister had a baby (cue the "awww"s). Anyway, his name is Travis Jr. or TJ as we call him. He is super duper cute! I was really lucky to get to be there for the whole thing. I will just give you a short snip it of how the whole thing happened. Yes, I promise this post will be full of pictures of cute little TJ. (Also, for a more "in-depth" story... head to my sister's blog at T.A.B.L.E Talk.

Anyway, since I had a week before I started my new job. I moved my flight to be a week later than planned. I was originally supposed to fly back right after the cruise.. to prepare for audit busy season ... yuk! However, my plans changed when I got a new job offer. Then I pushed my flight to the following Saturday (yay for Southwest and no change fees! and no bag fees! ... I just love Southwest!). I basically just stayed at a hotel with my mom and dad in Florida, and waiting for Brittany (my sister) to ... pop. We were walking every day and just keeping active to hopefully help the baby come faster. We all wanted him to come before I had to leave on Saturday. His due date was on Thursday though, so we were hoping he wouldn't be any later than that. Of course, all bets are off with your first kid.

Anyway, Monday night, we went to the hospital. Brittany was having some light contractions (nothing that painful) so we wanted to check. TJ was not ready to come at that point. We all went home. The next day, we just spent the day "chilling". It was mostly a waiting game. Skip to Wednesday. Wednesday morning Brittany had a doctors appt. The doctor/midwife told her that she thought TJ would come before Saturday. That was good news to hear, but we were still hoping he would come sooner than Saturday.

At around 11am on Wednesday, Brittany started having hard contractions (double over in pain contractions). We didn't want to go to the hospital again until we were SURE SURE SURE she was in labor. It was about this point that my mom said "Brittany, you are going to have this baby at 1am". We all laughed it off (except for Brittany who was gripping someone's arm... anyone's arm..) :).  Sure enough... later that evening, we all decided it would be a good idea to go to the doctor's office again... just to "check". We got there, and the doctor/midwife Dorothy told Brittany to go to the hospital and that she would be there in about an hour to put in the epidural request. YAY! This was such exciting news!!

Basically from here on out it is pretty straightforward, so I will just summarize: Brittany in pain, Brittany REALLY in pain, Brittany REALLY contracting, Brittany get epidural, Brittany relaxes for awhile, Brittany gets some petosin, Brittany sleeps a bit more, Brittany is ready for labor, Mom and Lindsey hold Brittanys legs as she gets ready to push, Brittany pushes, and pushes and pushes and pushes, TJ comes out, Lindsey almost passes out in delivery room.... the end.....

Just kidding. Well, I am kidding about it being the "end", I am not kidding about me almost passing out/vomiting. I was there for the "whole thing". I mean, heck I was holding one of her legs yelling "push"! Brittany was such a trooper. I mean, I don't think I have ever seen her work at something so hard! I was impressed (and scared that I would have to do that someday... eesh!). I was really surprised that I almost lost it. I used to watch C-sections on those surgery TV shows when I was a child. I definitely can handle blood, etc. I don't know what happened but as soon as I caught site of the umbilical cord... that was it! Anyway, on to the baby....

(cue "awwww"s again)

He is so cute. I got to hold him a lot in the hospital since I had to leave to come back home to Texas. He is just so cuddly and has the cutest fingers and toes! He is a bit older now... so here are some updated pics :)