Tag Archives: gay marriage

The Christian’s Guide To Marriage and Divorce

Let me begin by stating that by writing this I am not trying to create a law for the church, and neither am I trying to state an opposing argument to the teachings of others on the subject of marriage and divorce.  Instead, I’m responding to a need.  Divorce is epidemic.  I’ve heard statistics of anywhere between 35 to 50% of marriages end in divorce (though the exact figure is actually harder to calculate than one might think).

 

Additionally, this article is not intended to bring condemnation on you, regardless of your past decisions or the situation with which you are currently in.  Likewise, this article isn’t intended to help justify getting a divorce.  After all, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:17 (All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise stated) that “each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.”  This means that you shouldn’t abandon your marriage or change your family status simply because of new information.  Instead, keep seeking the Lord and make the best of your situation.  The grace of God is sufficient for your circumstance.

 

With that being said, my audience for this piece is Christians considering divorce, Christians who have gone through a divorce in the past, and believers who are considering entering into a relationship with another previously divorced individual.  This is obviously a sensitive subject, so I encourage you to read and stay with the article all the way through to the end.  I truly believe that this message will be good news for the hurting — especially my conclusion!

 

TO THE DIVORCED AND THOSE CONSIDERING DIVORCE     

 

In Malachi 2:16, God clearly says, “I hate divorce.”  I think this is important to point out right from the beginning.  God is not for divorce.  It isn’t the best option.  If you are considering divorce, I believe that you should do whatever you can to reconcile your marriage.  Most at this point say, “I’ve tried that and it didn’t work!”  If this describes you, then perhaps you won’t like what I have to say next.  There are circumstances where scripture permits divorce, which we’ll discuss shortly, but never does scripture permit divorce for the following reasons:

 

    1. Because you aren’t happy.  It isn’t the job of your spouse to make you happy.  Happiness is a choice.  Even in prison, Paul was able to operate in the joy of the Lord.  Seek out biblical help to gain insight and principles to positively affect your marriage and restore joy in your life and relationship.
    2. Because you fell in love with someone else.  According to scripture, this is called adultery, and it’s one of the greatest enemies to marriage.  Every single one of us, at some point, must confront evil desires that try to draw us away from our mate.  James admonishes us to “resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) Likewise, Proverbs 27:20 states, “Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.”  If you just allow yourself to follow every single feeling or attraction that you have, you’ll always be blown around like the wind.  If you leave this relationship, because you “fell out of love,” you’ll leave the next one the same way.  Love is a choice and marriage is a commitment to choose to love your spouse, even when it’s hard.
    3. Because it’s challenging or difficult.  People seem to have this misconception that the problems in their marriage are the result of being with the wrong person.  This isn’t the case.  Regardless of God’s original intent, your spouse became the right person the moment you said, “I do.”  Difficulties in marriage, and all relationships, stem from self-centeredness.  Proverbs 13:10 in the KJV states that “only by pride cometh contention.”  This means that pride is the cause of the contention and strife in your relationship.  This shouldn’t condemn you; instead this understanding should encourage you and equip you with the power that you need to end strife forever in your marriage.  Get it at the root by partnering with your spouse to eradicate self-centeredness on both of your parts.
    4. When your spouse wants to stay married to you.  This is assuming that your spouse isn’t or wasn’t unfaithful and is not potentially harmful to you physically.  1 Corinthians 7:12-13 says, “If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.”  If your mate is willing to work and live with you, you shouldn’t leave or divorce him or her, even if your mate is not a believer. Obviously there are cases when the situation is unsafe due to substance abuse or violent abusive tendencies.  In these situations, it might be necessary to separate for the sake of safety, but still I believe God’s best would be to pursue your mate’s emotional well-being and to seek reconciliation and healing if possible.  Divorce in these situations should be an absolute last resort. (Please note, both parties’ physical safety in a marriage is paramount. If you are unsafe or undergoing physical abuse, seek a safe harbor immediately.  I personally don’t believe that God would ever require someone to stay in a situation defined by abuse.  Don’t wait!  Surround yourself with godly counsel and people who can help you walk through the difficult decisions related to your situation. You don’t have to go at it alone.)

 

When is it Permissible to Divorce?

 

Under the Old Covenant, Deuteronomy 24:1-4 gives specific instructions on divorce and remarriage under the law:

 

 “If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled.”

 

Jesus provided further commentary on this passage in Matthew 19:8, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.

 

Jesus’ teaching was so strong on this topic that it caused his disciples to say (in verse 10), “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”  Jesus’ disciples seemed to think, if the rules are this tough, it’s better to never get married!

 

Regarding this, John MacArthur states, “The rabbis had taken these laws and broadened them to permit divorce for virtually any reason.  Under the rabbinical laws, if a wife displeased her husband in any way, he was entitled to divorce her.  Jesus stated that this was never the purpose of Moses’ Law.  In fact, Jesus’ teaching on divorce was given specifically to refute the rabbinical loopholes.”

 

Jesus strategically used the law to expose the sinfulness of the self-righteous Jews of his day.  As Paul says, in 1st Timothy 1:8-9, “We know that the law is good if one uses it properly.  We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels…”  Jesus took the Law to the extreme and used it to expose those that were trying to use the Mosaic Law to promote their own selfishness and agenda.  The teaching of Jesus stopped them in their tracks.

 

Paul later clarifies the doctrine of the church regarding marriage and divorce in 1St Corinthians 7:10, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord):  A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife.”  Some might be surprised to find that the commands for marriage and divorce actually appear stricter under the New Covenant.  Paul agrees with Moses by stating that divorce isn’t permissible (except for marital unfaithfulness), but both Paul and Jesus added to the Mosaic law by teaching that if you DO get a divorce, you should remain unmarried.  This instruction, in my opinion, is addressed specifically to the spouse seeking divorce, in order to expose their motives.

 

But what about the finished work of the Cross?  Didn’t Christ die to free us from our sin?

 

Absolutely, but Christ didn’t free us so that we could sin, but rather so that we could be freed from sin.

 

So does this mean that if I get a divorce, God won’t have grace for me?

 

If only I could answer this question that easily, but, ultimately, I believe it comes down to the condition of the heart.  If you are simply looking for a spiritual excuse to divorce your spouse, how can God bless that?  But if you go through a divorce, despite your best efforts to seek the Lord and make things work, why would you think that God’s grace is not present in your life? Many times over the years people have come to me for counsel wanting to divorce their spouse, but they’re afraid of the spiritual ramifications of divorce.  At this point, they’ve already divorced their spouse in their heart, but think that by maintaining the marriage from a legal standpoint that their righteousness is intact.  This is sort of thinking is steeped in self-righteousness, and carries an inherent misunderstanding of law and grace.

 

On the flip side, too often churches have made divorcees feel like second-class citizens in the kingdom of God — this shouldn’t be either. Is divorce greater than any other sin a man might commit? Are couples living in continuous strife and grief any better? Is it better to remain unmarried post-divorce and become riddled with depression, lust, or even sexual sin?  The real question is what’s in your heart? Why do you want to get a divorce? Why do you want to remarry? These issues aren’t as black and white as some might prefer, but I believe being honest with our hearts is the only way that we can really live in confidence before God and man and find wisdom to walk through our present circumstances.

 

Many times people seem to want me to answer their question, “Can I get a divorce or not?” It is so hard to make blanket statements about this though, because situations do vary considerably.  Those looking for a “rule” in the New Testament won’t find it; much like the rich young ruler, Jesus will simply answer, “There’s one thing you lack.”

 

Even in writing this, I’m well aware that someone might try to twist certain liberties or permissions to justify doing what they want to do.  At the end of the day, I can’t be responsible for that; neither can the Word.  This is just one of many reasons I believe aspects of Paul’s writings are vague on the subject — the new covenant was never intended to become law, but rather principles based upon love.  My intention in writing this is to speak to those who are trying to do the right thing, to follow God’s word, and to break free from the guilt and condemnation associated with their past.

 

If you are married and considering divorce, seek solid biblical counsel, and more importantly, seek God for strength and hope.  Remember, it took time and effort to create the hurts in your relationship and in the same way, it’ll take time and effort to bring healing and to regain intimacy.  Don’t give up early, don’t rush the process.  Give it time and healing will come in your life — regardless of the final state of your marriage.  God is faithful!

 

 

 

When is it Better to Remarry?

 

First Corinthians 7:8-9 provides additional insight into the question, “I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.  But if they cannot contain, let them marry:  for it is better to marry than to burn.

 

Paul says that if you’re unmarried or a widow, it’s best to remain that way, but if you cannot, it is much better to marry than to be bogged down by feelings of lust, loneliness, and dissatisfaction.  The word for “unmarried” in the Greek, means simply that – unmarried.  It’s different from the word for “a virgin,” and doesn’t seem to take into account the person’s history or past.  Essentially, Paul is stating that regardless of your past, it is better to marry, than burn with lust and passion.

 

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

 

First off, if you haven’t yet, read the section above, as I believe it will give some biblical insight into the nature of divorce and God’s perspective on the issue.  Beyond this, it’s important to note that divorce in most cases (almost always) is the result of two people’s shortcomings and failings and not just one party.  More often, when one party has an affair or files for divorce first, they typically are seen as the “bad guy” (or gal).  But in divorce, everyone loses; no one leaves unscathed.

 

Also, let’s be honest — no one really knows what goes on inside of a relationship between two people and we need to be careful of making quick judgment-calls as to fault, etc.  As the saying goes, “It does take two to tango.”  Often one’s behavior is simply a response to the other’s behavior.  You treated me like this, therefore, I’ll do this, and so on it goes.  As marriage counselor Emerson Eggerichs calls it, couples enter the “crazy cycle,” spiraling downward until someone eventually can’t take it anymore and the relationship is inevitably dissolved.

 

You need to be honest with yourself and with your spouse or significant other.  If you’re divorced, it’s okay to take ownership of your short comings and your mistakes in the relationship.  You’re human – and we all make mistakes.  Some mistakes have greater impact and consequences in our lives, but as Paul shares with the Roman church, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Take ownership and learn from the mistakes of your past.  In fact, simply blaming the entirety of your divorce on your ex does little to help your new husband or wife.  They would be much better off knowing realistically what caused the problems in the relationship.  If they really love you, they’ll want to understand and work with you through these struggles or past tendencies.

 

Except in extreme cases, there are most likely things that both parties could have done differently to salvage the relationship.  The exception would be in extremely abusive relationships, either physically or emotionally, where one party is being victimized.  As tragic as these situations are, many of them (note not all) could have been avoided all together by not rushing into a relationship without taking time to really know the other person and their past.  In no way though does this excuse the abusive person from their behavior.  Rather, it should serve as a warning as to the danger of rushing into relationships or just naively assuming that “once we get married they’ll change.”  In entering marriage, you should assume that the person will never change and in fact, their problems are likely to get worse.  After all, while dating we are all on our best behavior.

 

Often times, I’m asked if as a Christian, it’s okay to marry someone who has been divorced. (Earlier I dealt with if it’s okay as a divorced Christian to get remarried, which in some ways is the same answer.)  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV), “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord):  A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled from her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife.”  For obvious reasons this teaching isn’t very popular.

 

Paul starts off in this passage and tells the church, as a charge from God, that husbands and wives should not separate from each other.  This is God’s best.  Marriage is supposed to be a picture of God’s love towards us.  He never leaves us nor forsakes us.  Unfortunately, in today’s world, many have ignored this charge or been unable to live under it.  But Paul (and the Lord) anticipates this, and states, “But if she does”.  And then he goes on to give instruction that if someone does divorce, that she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.

 

I think it’s important to point out that these instructions were given to Christians within the church.  Personally, I believe that if divorce or remarriage happened prior to a person coming to Christ, then Paul’s instruction aren’t applicable.  It is also important to note that Paul was not writing to the person whose spouse divorced them, but rather to the Christian person who filed for divorce and decided to leave.  If they are leaving for reasons other than physical abuse or marital unfaithfulness, then they should remain unmarried.  Marriage should be treated with the highest level of respect and not abandoned lightly.  This charge should make someone considering leaving their marriage for superficial reasons think twice and should be a motivation to try to make it work.  Unfortunately, many ignore this and leave anyway.

 

Throughout scripture, marriage is used as the closet analogy of Christ’s relationship with the church.  Scripture tells us that even when we are unfaithful, that He will remain faithful to us.  We would do well to learn from Christ as to how to love our spouse and have a successful marriage.

God’s Grace in Marriage and Divorce

 Some of you might ask, so where is God’s grace in all of this?  Obviously, as with anything, it is ever present and is sufficient towards us in all ways!  First off, if this is the first time you’ve heard any of this teaching or you’ve recently became a Christian, or you’ve been divorced before and are now remarried, engaged to be married, or are wanting to get remarried someday, I don’t believe Paul’s words are meant to condemn you or to restrict you from enjoying your life as a Christian.

 

Beyond all of this, the Bible teaches that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  Were you divorced and later became remarried?  Stay as you are, there is grace for you.  Did your spouse divorce you?  You are free to remarry.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:15, “A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstance.

 

As a Christian, did you divorce your spouse for reasons other than abuse or their unfaithfulness?  Repent and realize your mistake, God’s grace is sufficient for you.  Of course, the best case scenario would be to restore your failed marriage (assuming they haven’t yet remarried).  If you divorced your spouse prior to becoming a Christian, you are not bound to your previous life, God’s grace is sufficient for you.  Personally, I believe, you are free to marry.

 

Are you considering marrying someone who is divorced?  If, as a Christian, they divorced their spouse for reasons other than what scripture provides, how do you know that they will not do the same to you?  This is not a situation to enter into lightly.  Seek the Lord for wisdom in what you should do.

 

As I think about this, really the only person who might be offended by this teaching is the believer who is currently thinking of divorcing their spouse for ungodly reasons.  And for that, should you not be offended?  If that is you, repent, change your heart, and seek counsel on how to restore your marriage.

 

But if you do get divorced, I tell you the same as Paul states, you are not to get remarried; for you are making that choice now with full knowledge and with rebellion towards the truth.  As James reminds us in 4:6, “But he gives us more grace.  That is why scripture says:  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Chick-fil-A, the Church, and Gay Marriage

Ironically, the Chick-fil-A controversy arose just a couple weeks after I posted the video, “Grace and the Homosexual Community” and the corresponding article (If you didn’t get a chance to read my article, click here http://lucasmiles.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/the-sign-of-the-rainbow-grace-and-the-homosexual-community/).

Regarding the whole Chick-fil-A mess – here is my breakdown in under a page.

Although I agree with the “Chick-fil-A values”, I don’t agree with their theology.  In one of the statements that got Chick-fil-A COO, Dan Cathy, in trouble, he said, I think we are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’ I pray God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think we can try to define what marriage is all about.”  Statements like this are common among conservatives, but they just aren’t Biblical.  Now don’t get me wrong, our nation will continue to experience difficulties based upon what we believe and propagate, but it isn’t a result of God’s judgment.  When we as people decide to live outside of the realm of wisdom and righteousness, pain results, but this isn’t judgment.  God placed every ounce of his judgment on Jesus Christ, so that all who believe in him might receive his righteousness.  God’s judgment against sin was finished on the cross.  But we still maintain a personal responsibility to walk in his truth in order to experience his blessing.  This isn’t works – it’s wisdom.  When I choose to stay under my umbrella, I stay dry. When I fall to walk under it, I vulnerable to the downpour.  Dan Cathy IS right that ignoring God’s word (His guide and prescription for life) will lead to hardship for our nation (and already has in many ways), but he would do well to state that, as opposed to haphazardly referencing God’s judgment.

The Left wants us to make this about homosexuality and gay marriage, but it’s not.  The more they can get the church and others to stand on a soapbox regarding one sin (in particular), the more they can tout remarks like “biggots” and “homophobic”, etc.  I don’t see Jesus and Paul going around trying to stop gay marriage – instead they went about sharing the gospel and healing the sick.  My personal opinion is that if we follow their example (by making the gospel our focus), people might be a little more interested in our stance on holy matrimony.  (Now I would encourage people to utilize their rights as US citizens to oppose laws and regulations that don’t conform to what they believe, but do so because you have that right as a citizen, and not simply because your a Christian.)

Regarding freedom of speech, I don’t understand what the big deal is.  Cathy’s words were a far cry from hate speech.  He has a right to say and believe what he said.  If you don’t like that, and you don’t want to support him, don’t eat his chicken.  Office Depot is now supporting Lady Gaga’s charity, “Born This Way”.  I haven’t seen any Christians calling for a nation wide boycott on copy paper from the liberal chain.  They have a right to give their money where they want and to say what they want.  This is America and this is capitalism and it’s a beautiful thing.  The more we attack others for speaking their minds, the more others will attack you when you do.  (I think the bigger issue is that his chicken tastes so dang good that his opponents are really ticked off that they are going to have to fast from it for awhile.)

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Sign of the Rainbow: Grace and the Homosexual Community

I regularly receive questions regarding issues of what I call “practical” grace.  Lately some of the most common questions have dealt with grace and homosexuality.  Many pastors have chosen to shy away from answering similar questions, due to the immense controversy, but I personally believe that as this issue continues to gain increased attention both socially and politically, it is likewise important that churches and individual believers know how to respond to such questions.  More specifically, I believe that it’s important to know what the Bible teaches regarding faith and sexual orientation/sexual identity, no matter how controversial the answers may be.

Additionally, I think this topic is important to address, because many homosexuals are in fact seeking a relationship with God, but have been isolated and segregated in the past, or simply made to feel this way, from the church due to hate speech, bigotry, and religious thinking.  My hope is that by addressing properly and clearly what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, sin, and most of all God’s grace, that the church might once again be restored as a place of refuge and healing for all who are seeking a Savior.

With that being said, I would like to acknowledge from the start that issues of gender, sexuality, and identity are quite complex and usually trigger strong emotions on either side of the debate.  In no way, especially in so few words, am I able to adequately answer all questions related to sexual orientation, but hopefully the below questions and answers will serve to give initial insight into what we teach and also provide much needed biblical perspective to readers wanting to understand a gospel oriented view of grace and homosexuality, etc.  I trust not all will agree with my responses, but I very much hope that all will at least see this as a positive step in furthering the discussion.

Q: Are homosexuals welcome at your church?

Assuming they aren’t coming for nefarious reasons, absolutely everyone is welcome at any one of our Oasis’ churches.  At Oasis, we aren’t focused on sin management or trying to uncover everyone’s deep, dark secrets, rather we focus on love and identity in Christ.  People are very safe at Oasis to engage, learn, grow, and ask questions relevant to their lives.  Our assumption is that every single person who attends one of our churches has “issues” to some degree; shortcomings, secret sins, or character flaws.  It isn’t that we look at these struggles as if they don’t matter or aren’t important to God.  Our character matters deeply to God, because it affects the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.  The difference though at Oasis is not in what we believe about sin or character, but rather in what we believe about God’s grace.  Titus 2:12 says that grace “teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”.  At Oasis, we understand that the secret to life transformation and healing is experiencing God’s love and grace, and doesn’t come through finger pointing, fault finding, or condemning words – what unfortunately many people are used to finding at church.  Grace doesn’t mean that we approve of homosexuality, but simply that we believe that every person, regardless of their behavior, has value and worth.  Sometimes people hearing this will ask, “So you believe in going easy on sin?”  My response is always the same, “No, I just believe God went hard on Jesus.”  Make no doubt about it, sin can kill you, but Jesus is greater than our sin.  The Bible teaches that Jesus became sin at the cross and received in himself the full payment and penalty for our sin through his death on the cross (Isaiah 53:11, 54:9-10).  This is what we call the “Great Exchange”; that he took our sin and exchanged it for his righteousness.  As a result, we now have peace with God and walk in his grace.  In this way, we extend this grace to others, regardless of their struggles, because we trust God’s grace to lead people into truth and godliness.

Bottom line, if someone is coming to Oasis to hear the message and to explore their faith – that person is always welcome.  If someone else, gay or not, is coming simply to cause problems, that’s a different story and a person like this, assuming they refused to stop whatever issue they were causing, would be asked to leave until their attitude or agenda changes.

Q:  Nature versus Nurture?  How does grace respond to this debate?

First off, the homosexual agenda needs for the answer to this question to be nature.  If the answer is nurture, then homosexuality becomes a result of abuse, pain, and distorted emotions and thus something that can and should be healed.  The temptation here is to make homosexuality about this debate, but it isn’t.  Personally, I do believe that the primary cause of homosexuality is nurture, or lack thereof, (i.e. abuse, emasculation, bullying, etc.) but because of how pervasive I believe sin to be, I have no issue conceding perhaps some causality to nature, with the understanding that science is finding, and I believe the Bible confirms this, that our genes pass down programming and emotions on levels that we are just beginning to realize.  (Please note – this is NOT generational curse teaching, which is unscriptural, and something altogether different.)  So, if the answer is nurture, then certainly there is restoration and freedom in Christ.  But if the answer is nature or both nature and nurture, what should this matter?  If Lady Gaga is right, and we were all “born this way”, this still should not be an obstacle, for in Christ we can all be born again into newness of life.  Our nature, that was once dead to God, can be made alive to God and filled with the fruit of righteousness (i.e. God’s kind of life – life as it should be).

As the church, we need to be aware that to many in the homosexual community, talk like this simply sounds like Christians are trying to change people.  In order to be truly effective in reaching people with the gospel, especially reaching a group like homosexuals that have been subjected to decades of hate speech by the religious, we need to demonstrate and carefully clarify that our intentions in preaching the message go far beyond trying to make converts, and that our main goal is to see people renewed, restored, and full of the life of God.  Grace and sincerity, not debate, are perhaps the greatest tools that we possess in reaching this community.

Q:  Is homosexuality worse than other sins?

The short answer here is, yes and no.  From God’s vantage point, sin is sin.  People mistakenly think that the Bible teaches in James 2:10 that all sins are equal, and although this is true in some ways, this is only part of the picture. What it actually states is that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”  This doesn’t mean that all sin is equal exactly, but that to commit one sin is to be found guilty of all sin.  Obviously, without Christ, the consequencesof this are dreadful.  So in this sense,to commit any sin, makes even a heterosexual man guilty of homosexuality.  Because of this, homosexuality is no worse than any other sin.  This should hopefully wake up some of the legalists out there who see homosexuality as the worst sin imaginable, since in the absence of Christ, they themselves, according to the law, are guilty of the same offense.

On the other hand, it would be foolish to think that horizontally, that is on earth, all sins are equal or that the consequences are the same.  The consequences of lying are typically less than the consequences of sexual sin, but likewise, the ramifications of murder far outweigh those of both deceit and any sexual sin.  In this way, homosexuality does have detrimental effects to one’s emotions, sense of self-worth, and at times, health.

All considering, I think it’s important that we keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to manage sin, rather to lead people into true,unhindered relationship with God.  Sin management is shortsighted and stems from a performance driven view of sin that does little to actually restore and heal those who are hurting.  To truly restore people, at a heart level, regardless of the sin, we must focus on identity in Christ, grace as God’s power for change, and most importantly the love of God.

Q:  If all sins are equal, and we all sin, should homosexuality disqualify you for ministry?

In regards to homosexuality disqualifying a person for ministry, part of the problem here is that the question is flawed.  The question begins by isolating homosexuality as a special class of sin, and thus makes it nearly impossible to answer the question in such a way that doesn’t trap Christians into saying that homosexuality is worse than all other sins. With this in mind, the better question is, does sin disqualify a person for ministry?

To answer that, let me remind us that in the New Covenant we understand that Jesus took upon himself the sins of the entire world and removed the dividing wall of hostility between God and man.   As a result, when approaching God, sin is no longer our problem.  With this in mind, we see that it isn’t sin that disqualifies a person for ministry; rather it is his belief about his sin that does.  If sin disqualified us for ministry or Christian service, then we would all be disqualified, for all have sinned.  To make sense of this, let’s look at 1 John 1:8-10 where it says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make himout to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”  This means that a man or woman who has homosexual thoughts or feelings, but acknowledges these tendencies as sin or desires of the flesh, chooses to honor the word of God and takes responsibility for their own heart.   This person, with time and grace, will find freedom and wholeness and I believe the church should model God’s grace towards them, by embracing them, as they would any other brother.  On the contrary, to deny homosexuality (or gluttony for that matter) as sin and to embrace it as part of one’s nature is rebellion and as John states, “makes him (God) out to be a liar.”  In this case, it is a man’s belief about his sin that disqualifies him, not sin itself.  Referring back to the previous passage, John illustrates this in verse 8, where he states, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

On the other hand, in verses 9 and 10, John reminds us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all righteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make himout to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”  The Greek word used here for “confess” literally means “to say the same thing”.  Commonly, people think of the word confession as having to do with rehashing all of your secret sins to a priest or even to God, but biblical confession really has little to do with this. Biblical confession actually entails agreeing with God about our sin; saying the same thing about it that he does.  Yes, we do this when we acknowledge that our sins are in fact truly sins, but we only fulfill the true definition of confession when we agree with God that our sin has also been covered by God’s grace and is no longer counted against us.  One who either fails to acknowledge sin as sin or fails to confess their sin as forgiven in Christ, both fail to “say the same thing” as God and really have no business ministering to others, when they themselves are still not walking in God’s grace.

So to the person struggling with sin, but who desires to live for God, I would say:  Simply agree with God that your sin was covered and paid for on the cross and receive his grace in your life.  Jesus is your qualification, both now and forever.

Q:  If you could share one thing with the Homosexual or LGBT community, what would it be?

To those in the homosexual and LGBT communities, I want you to know that at Oasis, our message is simple – God loves you and he’s better than we think he is.  I also want you to know that God’s not mad at you, but crazy about you.  In the book of Genesis, God gave Noah the sign of the rainbow in the sky, as a testimony of his promise and faithfulness towards all of creation.  Isaiah, the prophet, takes this a step further in Isaiah 54:9-10, where God says, “To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.  So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”  In all of this hopefully it’s clear, God wants a relationship with you – with all of us.  He wants to fulfill your hopes and your dreams.  He wants to give you wisdom, truth, and his abundant grace.  He wants to show you the real you.  Not the person you see when you look in the mirror, but the real you; the deep reality and beauty that is in your spirit, beyond the sum of your sexuality and your outward behavior – the person you’ve been searching for all these years.  He wants to show you who you were created to be.  God is extending to you the greatest offer that there ever could be – to be made truly alive.  But understand this, he won’t force himself on you, he won’t make you receive him.  That is your choice – you must invite him into your life.

Let me close by leaving you with the words of John in John 3:16-21:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

If you are interested in ordering more life giving resources from the Oasis Network For Churches or to receive additional information about starting a relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit www.oasnet.org or call 574.247.9800.

4 Comments

Filed under Articles, Grace, grace teaching, Leadership, Lucas' World, OasNet, Teachings, Uncategorized, Videos