Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Special Column - The Christian Church & Gay Movement

It was 1991, I was in my early twenties and landed my dream job. I was a route driver for a big-time potato chip company. One day I received word a new customer was added to my route, a local bar. Never had I been in a bar, let alone tasted alcohol. Needless to say, my first service call to the bar was a bit uncomfortable. In time, as I grew more familiar with the surroundings I was more at ease. Eventually, I learned that it was not like other drinking establishments in town, but was known as a gay bar. My first thought was, “What was a gay bar?” let alone “What did it mean to be gay?” Yes, I was na├»ve.

Much has changed in my life and in our world since then. Both of us have grown up a lot. Nowadays TV shows feature gay characters. Gay public figures are emerging. Various pro-gay legal and workplace measures have been enacted. Some churches have adopted new doctrinal statements allowing homosexuals into their clergy or membership. The gay label has broadened encompassing lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender individuals (LGBT). These advancements have come with a price. Sadly, there have been cases of bullying, discrimination or hate crimes simply because someone was gay.

The Christian church has experienced much division through expansion of the gay movement. Clergy are holding opposite positions, long-time members are walking away from their churches and local congregations are separating from their denomination. Some Clergy have re-visited the Bible’s stance on homosexuality and teach people can now be practicing homosexuals and a Christian. All this has caused chaos in the church. Additionally, some Christians who have opposed actions of the gay movement have been labeled homophobes, pressured to change their views or faced legal action.

The tension in our culture and especially in the church is off the charts when it comes to gay issues. Despite modern changes to some church doctrinal statements, historic Christian teaching has affirmed homosexuality is a sin, just as lying and stealing are. However, it has gone beyond a sin issue. Now the church is facing a highly organized and well funded effort to normalize and legalize the gay lifestyle in America. These efforts are putting immense cultural pressure on the Christian community forcing them into a moral and theological dilemma. The pressure goes beyond the church. Christians in business, education, media and other arenas are feeling it too. How should one who affirms the biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality respond?

The Bible has been the worldwide textbook for Christian living and teaching for millenniums. Christians believe it is the very words of God. During Bible times homosexuality was already in practice. However, God spoke prohibiting His people from engaging in the lifestyle. He considered it sexual immorality just as adultery, fornication and other forms of sexual behavior were. He condemned all forms of sexual expression – except one. He only put His blessing on sexual relations between a man and woman in the bonds of marriage.

The organized gay movement and Christian church are two groups holding firmly to their positions. May I offer a word of understanding to the gay community about Christians? Understand when most believers oppose actions that advance your movement it springs from their commitment to the historic Christian faith not prejudice. In such cases they must be silent and go along, change their beliefs or object. This puts them in a moral quandary. Christians respectfully ask for understanding in consideration of their beliefs. Their disagreement is not rooted in bias but commitment to the Bible’s teaching on marriage and sexuality. In the same way, let me offer a word to the Christian community. Owe lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals and transgenders nothing but love. As you stand for truth in the public square, have disagreements and engage in debate, follow the example of Jesus. Do not shun, speak evil or slander, rather, show kindness, compassion and mercy. The Scriptures say, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). As Christ has loved you, love. As Christ has forgiven you, forgive. Additionally, reach out to the gay community and build friendships. Learn their names, where they are from and the stories of their lives. Invest your life in theirs.

As a Christian writer and speaker I have a positive and simple agenda. First, I positively am for people and against sin. Second, I simply want to share the love of God through the good news of Jesus with all. I want everyone no matter who they are, what they have done or how they live, to experience divine forgiveness through repentance and faith in Christ. Then as people turn towards Him and walk in His ways I believe God’s blessing will cover our nation.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Searching for Love

I coached myself saying, “If I make this basket then she loves me.” After the ball slammed against the rim and bounced to the asphalt I said, “Ok, the best out of 10”. Just like when I was a teenager, every one of us is in search for love. Experts say more than 2 billion minutes a month are logged online by people searching for love. Additionally, many of the top songs on the Billboard Charts deal with love and the most successful movies each year always feature a romance between the leading man and woman.

Where does this universal desire for love come from? Observe the myriad of relationships around us. From birth, a baby needs the love of a father and mother. As a child grows, they develop friendships often finding a best friend. Then when our son or daughter enters into middle and high school they discover “boys” and “girls”. This begins their search for that special guy or gal.

In most cases, whether we are young or old, our search for love is pretty one sided. It is more about our needs and our dreams than the other persons’. Even so, we can still manage to find someone and experience true love . . . at least for a moment. But then disillusionment shows its heart-breaking face and we find ourselves standing speechless as our dreams for true love fall to the floor shattering into thousands of pieces. When emptiness, disillusionment and shattered dreams become the symbols of our search for love it is because we have missed the mark.

God our Creator placed the desire for love within us. Why? To drive us home. In other words, to drive us back to Himself. When we try to find perfect love anywhere else we miss the mark. It is written that “love is from God” (1 John 4:7) because “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Ultimately, it is not the perfect man or woman we are searching for it is God. Mistakenly however, we exchange the pursuit of something heavenly for something earthly, something eternal for something temporal.

True love ultimately finds its fulfillment in knowing God. He embodies all that the human heart, soul and mind longs for. When we find God and follow Him we find love. May God through His Son, Jesus Christ, be your hope for today.