Monday, February 16, 2015

A Chapter Concluded ... For Now

The train has come into the station, the curtains have closed, we've reached the end of the road at the end of the line, and the final finale is upon us in the culmination of a last and closing conclusion of accomplishment. Well maybe. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

But I did finish a period of study that began last year of the LGBT movement and what a Christian response ought to be. Some years ago, I read through Michael Brown's A Queer Thing Happened to America: And what a long, strange trip it's been, which is a wonderful book explaining the history and impact of gay activism in American society.

Recently, I finished reading three additional books. First, I purposefully read James Brownson's Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church's Debate on Same-Sex Relationships so that I could hear the arguments of the religious-liberal and political Left. I wanted to see their best arguments attempting to explain how one can be a true Christian and practice homosexuality. Brownson ultimately fails to prove his point from the Scriptures, but was oh-so-valuable to see his arguments firsthand, rather than just see liberals cited by conservative scholars. Read this book, but read with discernment.

Second, I read Robert Gagnon's The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. I would simply say that if you want the end-all-be-all book regarding LGBT issues and a Biblical response to them, this is the book you will want to have on your shelf (or Android-based tablet). Gagnon does a masterful job discussing the history of homosexuality in the ancient world, and debunks the claim that the Biblical authors could not have been familiar with the concept we see today of monogamous, loving, committed same-sex relationships. History proves this revisionist claim to be utterly false. He also discusses every relevant Biblical text involving homosexuality, both in the Old and New Testaments. Most important is the time spent responding to liberal attempts to change the plain meaning of the Bible - in fact, he mentions Brownson on more than one occasion. Still, what stuck with me most of all was his interaction with and discussion of the Holiness Code found in Leviticus 18-20.

Third, Michael Brown's new book Can You be Gay and Christian? Responding with Love & Truth to Questions about Homosexuality. Michael Brown did it again, he really did. The overall impression I was left with at the end of this book is this: Christians need to lovingly and patiently explain what we believe about human sexuality, and offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to the LGBT. I was impressed with the passion and the heartfelt love that Brown has for this group of people. You can tell that he genuinely cares about them, and I am going to strive to have the same measure of love towards this segment of our society.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Brown's book:

Of course, Christians are quick to say to homosexual men and women, "We love you, but we hate your sin," to which they reply, "That means you hate me. This is not what I do. This is who I am." Well, I want to challenge that. You are more than your romantic attractions or sexual desires. You are more than someone attracted to the opposite sex or the same sex ... and it is Jesus who tells us that the first step we must take in following Him is not to affirm ourselves but rather to deny ourselves. (Brown, 23).

I wrote in the margins next to this quote: "Yes! Amen!" Our message to the LGBT community must be centered entirely on the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must not succumb to the temptation that we are the sum of our genes, or that we are defined by our romantic attractions. Human Beings are so much more than the product of random chance having evolved from animals over hundreds of millions of years. We are created in the image of God Himself, and that carries along with it inherent value and purpose in how we are to live. People were made to worship and to serve God, and when we willingly rebel against His guardrails of the road to life - found in the Scriptures - we produce pain, difficulties, and death. The gospel of Christ requires that we turn away from sin, and from our own desires, and turn to Christ who can alone provide the way of salvation.

When we abandon our true purpose for living, the void that is left will be filled with something. Our culture has filled it with utter confusion. For example, Brown lists a few terms the LGBT community use to describe themselves:

Androgeny, Androgenous, Bigendered, Bi-Dyke, Boi, Boidyke, Bro-sis, Butch, ButchDyke, Camp, Cross Dresser, Cross-Living, Drag, Drag King, Drag Queen, Dyke, FTM (Female to Male), Femme, Femme Dyke, Female Bodied, Female Impersonator, Fetishistic, Transvestite, Gender Illusionist , Gender Neutral, Gender-Bender, Gender-Blender, Genderqueer, Genetic Boy, Genetic Male/Man, Genetic Female/Woman, Genetic Girl, Grrl, Half-dyke, Heteroflexible, Hir, Intersex, MTF (Male to Female), Male Impersonator, Metamorph, Monogendered, Multigendered, Neuter, No-gendered, Non-op, Omnisexual, Pansexual, Pre-operative Transexual, Polygendered, Post-operative Transsexual, Queer, Queerboi, Shape Shifter, Stem, Stud, Trannyboi, Trannydyke, Trannyfag, Transboi, Transgendered, Transgenderist, Transitioning, Transmale, Transexual, Transvestite, Transidentified, Trisexual, Two-Spirit, Ze. (Brown, 41).

If this isn't confusion I don't know what is. But again, our response to this needs to be that even gender is a gift from God! If you are created physically male, then you are a man, regardless of how you feel. And the appropriate sexual relationship for you is one woman within the covenant of marriage.

The beautiful thing about the truth of the gospel is that when you speak God's truth to other people, you are speaking to fellow image-bearers of God, and therefore the truth will resonate with them even if they don't acknowledge it as truth. Fallen mankind will go to great lengths to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), but they already know of God's existence, attributes and moral requirements (Romans 1:18-21). It isn't our job to convince people of the truth, only that we try to with a faithful proclamation of the good news of Christ. We can plant and water the seeds of truth, but God causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3).

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