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Friday, February 27, 2009

Love Your Neighbors, Except the Homosexual Ones?


Bug Love, originally uploaded by use2blost.



     Update: This was a piece crafted to encourage the reader to take a hands-off approach to the issue of homosexual matrimony. I no longer feel this way... Today, I believe a follower of Jesus should take an actively encouraging stance toward homosexual equality. I just can't help it. I read my Bible, I think, and I have known too damn many homos with the fruit of the spirit within them. Also... it occurs to me, that Paul never got 'saved'. If we want to be honest, Paul's conversion as documented in Acts was one of duress. Can you freely choose Christ when you've had your ass kicked off your ass (LOL) and been struck blind?
Just sayin...
Chris 6/7/11


Disclaimer:


     Dang, y'all. In the last year, This has become the busiest post on this lil' ol' blog. Whodda thunkit! I'm a little bit nervous, I notice many of you arrive here after Googling Andy Stanley+Homosexual. Hopefully, if he's noticed this (I've seen a hit or three from North Georgia.), he is amused. At no time/place/dream have I ever read/heard/been told about Andy's position on homosexual marriage ect. He is just one of my favorite speakers. I have heard him imply that homosexuality is a sin in an old sermon. This was a critical thinking exercise for an English class, Never met Andy, don't own an Ipod. Been to NPC twice... I like to catch a service on my way home from hiking.
Chris, 2/22/2010

     I have not posted since last year. A couple apparently manageable situations swelled up, grew fangs, and broke free of their restraints, suddenly my daily routine was anything but ... I let a lot of stuff go: blogging, commenting, photography, sleep. This is a paper I was told to write... one where I attempt to persuade the audience to accept my viewpoint (fat chance! :D), and one where passive voice was obsessively avoided, under the red-inked lash of Mrs. Wilcox's correcting pen. This is why it possibly sounds nothing like me, is choppy (I had a space limit), and many of my points are not fleshed out. The issue is interesting, though it seems to only break the headline barrier when election looms on the horizon. Working through my opinions, and the reasons behind them, was an eye-opener for me, and made me remember with embarrassment an earlier time, when I would take words from the pulpit, slap a few out of context verses underneath them as a foundation, and adopt it as my personal doctrine. I practice a LOT more critical thinking now, I hope.


BTW... I found myself completely out of my depth in Mrs. Wilcox's eng 101 class. I could not have explained the difference between active and passive voice to save my life, but passive voice sure does come easier. One of the things we were taught to look for was the use of passive voice signal words, i.e.-


Have, has, had, do, does, did, be, am, is, are, were, being, been, can, could, may, might, must, shall, will, would, ought to. These counted off...16 of them would get you an F. It's really harder than it sounds... you should give it a try.


Also, a few words about Andy Stanely: I've noticed if you google "Andy Stanely and Gay rights" this post is on the fourth page, and someone from south carolina googled " Andy Stanley Homosexual" and this post is the first entry...Go figure.
     
     The opposition of gay rights by Christians undermines Christian credibility and the spreading of the gospel. Popular culture uses the word “marriage” to refer to two different things. The institution ordained by God,[1] and the civil contract, often of short duration, facilitated by secular authorities. Mainstream Christian religion struggles to prevent homosexuals from acquiring the benefits of the civil union, and where that has failed, to fight for a prohibition against using the term marriage to legally define long term cohabitative arrangements between members of the same sex. This hinders the dissemination and acceptance of the gospel, as well as the goodwill of a significant slice of the population that needs to hear it. Additionally, the legitimacy of Christian culture as salt and light suffers a negative impact in a world sorely lacking in clarity and palatable flavor. This mindset also conflicts with the examples of Jesus, and God the Father. The evangelical community best serves the agenda behind the Great Commission (Holy Bible, New International Version "Matthew 22.36") by keeping a healthy distance from a movement espousing political aggression against the homosexual population’s attempt to grasp equality. 
     Sadly, in a society of overwhelming literacy, busyness leaves the typical modern layman relatively unfamiliar with scripture, in contrast to the new testament Jew, who walked in a world where ninety-five to ninety-seven percent of his peers lacked the ability to read or write (Ortberg), but shared a rich oral tradition with his community, and was required to memorize the Pentateuch prior to being granted the privileges of adulthood. This twenty-first century failing effectively handicaps critical thinking in the majority of Church attendees, encouraging a herd mentality/mob rule approach to the selective legislating of morality, targeting the Equal Rights for Gays issue. For a segment of the population with a divorce rate virtually indistinguishable from the rest of western culture, to draw a line in the sand over the sanctity of marriage, while remaining conspicuously silent on the issue of heterosexual cohabitation showcases a terrible arrogance.  
     The critical thinking Christian, a grateful recipient of grace, should rejoice with love that gay people may, through legal commitment, obtain things that a heterosexual partner in marriage takes for granted: A more attractive tax status, the ability to provide affordable family health insurance, public acknowledgement of love for a spouse, and an environment that discourages promiscuous eroticism (Boteach).The ongoing attempts to deny these benefits to homosexuals contradict the doctrine of “love your neighbor as yourself” (Holy Bible, New International Version "Matthew 28.18-20"). It places the participant in the company of bigots and hypocrites, and flies in the face of the example of relational evangelism modeled in scripture by Jesus. In Mark 2:13 Jesus approaches Levi at the tax collection booth, and says simply: 
     “Follow Me.” (Holy Bible, New International Version "Mark 2.14").  
     Today’s reader tends to overlook the significance of this invitation. Israel, at this time a conquered nation, reserved its deepest contempt for the tax collector, a man employed by Roman authorities. This man made the choice to grow rich from the subjugation of his countrymen. The tax collector warranted his own category, demonstrated by the biblical cliché “tax collectors and sinners” (Stanley, Simple "Follow"). Jesus commits the faux pas to end all faux pas, equivalent to inviting a known pedophile to tag along while he goes to pick up the kids. This shows bible readers ( not sermon listeners) the first step in evangelism according to Christ, the establishment of relationship. In the war of personal conflict, there exist two fronts: The battle of the heart, and the disagreement . Lasting peace necessitates harmony in both. Human selfishness tends to prioritize the argument, and having won, will from time to time magnanimously condescend to make overtures toward the vanquished heart. The wisdom of this method remains questionable. Remember, the victor deals with another selfish human, and human hearts can break upon losing an argument. They become scarred, hardened, closed. They begin to malfunction. The loyalty of the defeated seldom manifests itself, and bitter tears provide excellent nourishment for the seeds of future discord. The opportunity for lasting peace withers away, choked out by the weeds of resentment. The issue arises again, and who knows the outcome? Victory in the matter of the disagreement decreases the probability of winning the battle of the heart. By winning the heart first, Jesus neatly sidesteps the problem of acrimony, and opens the door to win the argument, with reason and loving example in the near future.This rationale lies behind his unconditional invitation to “Follow me”. (Stanley, "Life Rules")
     Jesus’ logic follows a precedent, not a radical departure from God’s previous treatment of humanity. After all, he did only the will of the Father. For example, Israel receives the Ten Commandments only after a dramatic rescue and three months divine babysitting during a walk through the desert (Holy Bible, New International Version "Exodus 19.1-8"). Three months after trying God’s patience time and again. Three months after God says: “Follow me.” Three months after God makes an impression. When the Church takes an aggressive stance against gay marriage, it communicates a message diametrically opposed to “Follow me”. It communicates a message that undermines Christian credibility and the spreading of the gospel. It communicates someone else’s message. The critically thinking believer asks himself: 
     “Whose message is that? Why would the average man or women spare the time necessary for aggressive intolerance?”  
     The difficulties of life demand the bulk of the average person’s attention. Western humanity rushes about at a frantic pace, driven to wallow in it’s prosperity, often thoughtless as to the source of the blessings. The Christian that gives credence to scripture understands that a loving God, allows himself to be opposed. God permits the existence of evil for the sake of good, and a desire for voluntary faithfulness. Free will, seldom swayed by power, makes love possible. Phillip Yancy explains this with compelling clarity:
“In a concentration camp, as so many witnesses have told us, the guards possess nearly unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, Work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and then bury your closest friend or even your own mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not: they cannot force you to love them.


The fact that love does not operate according to the rules of power may help explain why God sometimes seems shy to use his power. He created us to love him, but his most impressive displays of miracle—the kinds we may secretly long for—do nothing to foster that love.”
  Mr. Yancy goes on to quote Douglas John Hall, author of God and Human Suffering: “God’s problem is not that God is not able to do certain things. God’s problem is that God loves. Love complicates the life of God as it complicates every life.” (Yancey)
The questions remain: “Whose message is that? Why would the average man or women spare the time necessary for aggressive intolerance?” 
Seventy years in the past, as God watches from a timeless eternity, people in Germany, a supposedly Christian nation decide the Jews, a minority population that believes the wrong thing threatens the way of life they desire to recapture. Their world falls apart, the different ones the source of their problems. They hear another message, that it’s okay to treat the wrong people the wrong way. It’s okay to give them less than the right people, the good people. Less privileges, less rights, less space, less freedom, less food, and less air. Seventy years spans less than the blink of the divine eye. God watches, with omnipotence held in check, unlimited power in voluntary restraint. He desires the love of humanity, toward himself and each other (Holy Bible, New International Version "Matthew 22.36"), and waits in divine abdication for humanity to get off this familiar path. He waits for his people to exercise the free will bestowed in love, for the sake of love, to foster that love. He waits for the Church to realize that the opposition of gay rights by Christians undermines Christian credibility and the spreading of the gospel. I wish we would hurry up.
Works Cited
Holy Bible, New International Version "Mark 2.14". Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.
Holy Bible, New International Version "Matthew 22.36". Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.
Holy Bible, New International Version "Matthew 28.18-20". Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.
Life rules. By Andy Stanley. Perf. Andy Stanley. Northpoint Community Church, Alpharetta.
Simple "Follow". By Andy Stanley. Perf. Andy Stanley. Northpoint Community Church, Alpharetta .
Yancey, Phillip. Disappointment With God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988.
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[1] God, in this post, refers to Elohim/Yaweh, God the Father. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, acknowledged as the creator of reality by Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Religion refers to Christianity. Though exceptions exist, Christianity in general, and this author acknowledge in Yeshua, or Jesus Christ, a paradoxically divine nature. One with God, yet separate… different, yet the same.
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