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A Love no Court, Law or Human can Give

Posted in challenging human thinking, Communion w/ God, Outreach, Politics (ugh) by Sam Hendrickson on 26 June , 2015

Supreme Court of the US

The Holy Spirit says through Saul of Tarsus: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Looking for Love?

Any kingdom-rebelling, condemnation-worthy, God-opposing person regardless of his or her forms of sinfulness, will find eternal forgiveness, an eternal Father and eternal life effected by the work of the Son and the Spirit–through the Good News. This is a freedom and acceptance which no good/bad law, or SCOTUS ruling can provide.

Additionally, the loving affectionate efforts of a good spouse in a Christian or unbelieving marriage of man and woman cannot make up for the need we all have of God’s love in Christ. Neither can the efforts that people engaging in same-sex intimacy make to show love satisfy the ultimate need we all have for the love of God in Christ.

In the text above, Paul is writing about the effects of this expression of God’s love. He changes us from who we were, to who we are.

Christ’s Love Changes our Identity

Paul’s use of “were” in 1 Cor 6:11 is as a customary stative imperfect. In other words, he means to indicate “a state that continued for some time.”[Wallace GGBTB 548]. The “you” are those in the Corinthian church who once were “the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers” (6:9-10).

Elsewhere in making “sin lists” he includes those engaging in same-sex intimacy, but also idolators,”[those who] being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful…” See Romans 1:16–31 for full paragraph.

In Galatians 5:13–26 Paul gives another “sin-list” and again shows it is not the only type or brand of sins we can commit. Here he writes “and things like these…” Again, similar to 1 Corinthians 6, the Holy Spirit makes clear that if I am living in and practicing unrepentant rebellion against my Creator, as typified by such sins, I am marked as one who will not “inherit” God’s life, family and forgiveness.

But, the Holy Spirit does not stop there: “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11

This (!) is the pathway to freedom, life and hope. This is the life Christians trust they have, and what they mean to reveal to the world. We try, but too often we are known for pointing out the “sin-lists” and not the love and the life. And that is a legacy I identify with, and if all Christians are honest, we will all own that unbalanced approach.

Christians Distort the Love of Christ

Christian, we were all “such” as these, whatever our favorite brands of sins were. Too often, we have considered ourselves somehow better than unbelieving people, with our words, attitudes and actions. Again and again, God has orchestrated life events so that we have to more and more fall back on Him for truth, guidance, humility and readdressing our lack of love for Him and for all kinds of people. One of the places we need to grow is in a proper representation of the grace and love of Christ regarding same-sex matters.

Yes, the Old Testament taught that sinners who engaged in same-sex intimacy were capitally punished in Israel under the Covenant of Sinai. But, so were adulterers, the incestuous, purposeful murderers, etc. There was no sacrifice that a Hebrew could offer that would cover this. Civil punishment in death was their punishment. Without going into details, these actions are still sinful, but there is no civil penalty to be handed down by the people of God. There are civil punishments handed down for murder and similar, but that is a matter for the magistrates to prosecute, not the church. While in regard to these and similar sins we are to disciple and discipline those within our church who profess Christ, our reach stops there. Our disciplining cannot include death, physical punishment, incarceration or similar. There is more to say, but I will stop there.

I bring up the death penalty aspect of same-sex intimacy only to point out that if we are in a conversation about this matter with a non-Christian, we should avoid statements such as “well you do understand that God used to have His people stone homosexuals” or similar. This is not to hide the past way that God dealt with His people Israel, but rather to make sure that we are able to point out to anyone that all of us are sinners, and all of us need the grace of God to escape His just punishment for our sins. In fact, all sinners through time have merited the death penalty of God. If someone asks about the OT issue, explain it, and bring out the grace of God in His New Covenant through Christ.

I learned how to mock people who acted effeminate, or who engaged in same-sex intimacy from comics and others in secular society (Eddie Murphy, etc). I also learned to do so from people who called themselves Christians. But, God has washed, justified and sanctified me, and He is slowly effecting that in my life. [Although I am going to use the pronoun “I” for a bit, anything “I” do that is growth in matters of love is solely due to God’s loving, patient work on me.] So, I am learning to more properly understand how God gifts men and women to express biblical masculinity and femininity in different ways. I am trying to learn how desires and the sense of “naturalness” of these desires drives the human heart.

Also, I am convinced that due to our Fall into sin, and sin’s curse, same-sex attraction and a desire for same-sex intimacy can feel as natural and inborn as the desires most have for the opposite sex. With this, I also believe the Scripture teaches that that “naturalness” can also be seen by the “naturalness” many people feel to move from one sexual encounter to another with the same or opposite sex. Clearly natural desires for sin and wrong are not limited to these areas only.

In other words, the wounds of the Fall affect us all, but they affect us all differently. We all “have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” We all have hearts that are “desperately sick” and “deceitful”–hearts that only God can properly know, and tell us how to overcome what our deceitful hearts lead us to.  While same-sex intimacy is a choice, just like my sinful sexual acts are a choice, the desires feel like they are not. Denny Burk has a great article on this, see under “Publications” tab. So, to speak of same-sex issues as a choice is correct, but it is not enough, see Denny’s article.

There are many (many ) other ways that we Christians are distorting the Good News. Our goal must be that others can only truly reject our message because of the “offense” of the Gospel (Romans 9:33 and 2 Corinthians 6:3). Our goal should be that if they find our message and/or lives offending, it is only because they have a mis-perception of God’s love in Christ. On that note I am reminded that Mohandas Ghandi’s complaint “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” has some traction, but it is also self-serving. To fully understand Christ and Christianity is to understand that Christ saves people as hypocritical and hypocritical as me. And technically, He is still saving me! That is the beauty of Christianity!

Now certainly, I am not off the hook if I misrepresent Christ to others, I will answer to Him for that, and I may prove to be a stumbling block to an unbeliever. But Mohandis Ghandi is not “off the hook” so to speak with God, if he rejected Christ and claims this as a reason.  He has chosen some other lesser love, not the sin-forgiving, jerk-like-me-saving love through which God saved me.

Everyone is Equal in God’s Eyes–Equally in Need of His Christ!

The acceptance that all kinds of sinful people want is best satisfied in the hope of Jesus Christ! For those not trusting Christ, you will find no other system of belief or worldview that truly treats all people the same. But I do not mean this to somehow pit Christianity against everything else. Rather, as we all look for hope, fulfillment and meaning in our relationships, everyone of us is equally in need of God to mercifully forgive us of the equally condemning sins we are all busy committing. In other words, hope, fulfillment, meaning and eternal life are only found in a loving relationship with God. We need God through His Spirit to convince us of our sinfulness and of the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ; a convincing which results in our calling to Him for forgiveness of sins, believing that Christ has borne their penalty for our sake, and trusting that He alone is the source of love, hope, truth and life!

God the Father, Son and Spirit once worked in me to believe this truth, to receive His love, to move from condemned to justified, to trust my life to Him forever. I take no credit for that. He did it all. He now looks at me as having the perfections of His Son Jesus Christ. One day that will be completed in fullness. Right now, I know He loves me, will always love me, and is continuing to save me. And I pray each day, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

He offers this new identity to you through trusting Christ. Please contact me if you would like to find this love in Christ!