Tribulation Saint

Historic Christianity in the Twenty First Century

Tag: John Wesley

THE CHURCH AND THE LGBT ISSUE

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Historic Methodist Church Bldg., Mentz, NY

 

Last week the United Methodist Church voted to uphold the church’s traditional ban on same-sex marriages and LGBT ordinations.  The denomination is said to be deeply divided over the issue, and many of its more liberal members are likely to leave over it.  “I will not participate in your bigotry, sin & violence,” tweeted one liberal pastor, while a conservative delegate from Liberia in Africa said “We can’t do anything but to support the Traditional Plan – it is the biblical plan.”

The delegate from Liberia is correct – the “Traditional Plan,” (the resolution upholding the bans on same sex marriage and LGBT ordination) is in fact, the biblical plan.  The Bible clearly condemns homosexual behavior.  The problem, we fear, is that the mainline Protestant denominations have long since abandoned the authority of Scripture, and in the process have lost sight of the biblical concepts of sin and redemption.  Yes, God did so love the world.  But that does not mean that He simply accepts us as we are, sin and all.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8; NKJV).  God’s plan and purpose is not to accept us in our sin, but to save us from our sin.  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:9-11).

But what exactly is it that makes homosexuality sinful?  It should be noted that homosexuality is, in fact, a moral and not a biological issue.  Unlike race, which is purely physical and biological, a person’s sexual activity is a matter of behavior and choice.  While we may feel a strong physical urge in one direction or another, as thinking, rational human beings we can discern between right and wrong and make morally responsible choices.  This is why our sexual behavior falls under the purview of the 7th Commandment: “Thou shalt con commit adultery.”  We may feel an urge or a desire, but whether or not we act on it is a decision we consciously make.  Thus homosexual activity becomes a matter of morality and ethics.

Human sexuality is something that was created by God, and it has a specific, God-ordained purpose.  The primary purpose of sex is heterosexual reproduction, and the primary purpose of marriage is to create a stable home environment in which to raise children.  Anything other than a permanent heterosexual relationship within the bond of marriage, or complete celibacy, is a deviation from the norm and is therefore consistently condemned in Scripture.  This includes fornication (sex before marriage), adultery, pornography, prostitution, and divorce, as well as the grosser forms of sexual activity.

The Bible portrays homosexuality as a sign of advanced decadence.  In Rom. 1:18-32 the apostle Paul traces the course of social disintegration.  Significantly homosexuality is said to be a consequence of religious apostasy, and it represents a judicial act on God’s part: “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness . . .” (v. 24).  “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions . . .” (v. 26).  It is also significant that homosexuality is described as an expression of extreme lust.  It is marked by “the lusts of their hearts” (v. 24) and “vile passions,” and male homosexuals are said to “burn in their lust for one another” (v. 27).  It is a picture of men enslaved to their uncontrolled lusts – hardly a noble and uplifting scene.

The transgender issue raises other questions.  Can a person change his gender?  Can he be “gender non-conforming”?  Gender is something that is biological – it is written into our chromosomes, and ultimately determined by God himself.  “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27).  How, then, did we get the idea that we can change our gender?  Is it not because of an underlying philosophical assumption that we exist as autonomous beings, not accountable to any Creator?  But what if God actually does exist?  Are we not then engaged in a colossal act of self-delusion?  The plain fact of the matter is that human society functions on a male – female dynamic, and indeed has to in order to survive.  If we try to deny the existence of gender roles, and try to deny our own biological gender, all we have done is to create dysfunctional relationships with our fellow human beings.  And if we try to raise our children in a gender non-conforming way, we have probably made it difficult for them to achieve happy, well-adjusted lives as adults.  How will they ever make marriage work, and raise children of their own?  Where is the compassion in that?

The United Methodist Church is likely to split over the issue.  But what the liberals need to understand is that we live in a rationally ordered universe created by an intelligent Supreme Being, and that everything in the created world has a divinely ordained purpose.  The human race, on the other hand, is in a state of sin and rebellion against God, and has twisted and perverted the things that God had originally created for a good and noble purpose.  Human sexual love is one of the things that God has created, but we have perverted it to serve our own selfish lusts.  And the end result is pain and misery for all – wrecked relationships and children growing up in unstable, poverty-stricken single-parent households.  In the end no one wins in a climate of sexual license.

What the liberal, mainstream denominations have done, in effect, is to ignore what God has revealed in Scripture and invented their own standards of morality.  What usually happens in actual practice is that they end up conforming to standards of the surrounding culture which is increasingly secular (i.e., implicitly atheistic) and licentious.  The end result is to lose anything like a distinctively Christian testimony to the world.

The just and humane thing to do, the compassionate thing to do, is to uphold the institution of marriage as God originally intended it to be – a permanent, binding and loving relationship between one man and one woman.  We hope and pray, for the sake of American society as a whole, that the United Methodist Church will return to biblical standards of morality and once again preach the Christian gospel once so forcibly proclaimed by John and Charles Wesley.

HILLARY CLINTON AS PRESIDENT?

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            Last night Hillary Clinton became the first woman in U.S. history to be nominated by a major party for President.  Her formal qualifications for the job are impressive: a graduate of Yale Law School, she has previously served as both a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State, giving her experience in both the legislative and executive branches of government.  She is the consummate Washington “insider,” which in this election cycle may or may not be an advantage.

Mrs. Clinton has devoted her life to the pursuit of social justice.  Reflecting her Methodist upbringing she quoted in her acceptance speech John Wesley’s rule of life:

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

And yet in the same speech she expressed support for a woman’s right to make her own healthcare choices (which we take as a reference to legalized abortion), and for LGBT rights.  In so doing she certainly thinks she is “doing all the good she can . . .to all the people you can.”  But is she really?

The problem is that the liberal, progressive” agenda on some of these issues puts the Democratic Part in direct conflict with the 6th and 7th Commandments: “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”  Abortion violates the sanctity of human life.  The gay lifestyle undermines marriage as a committed, complementary relationship between a man and a woman.  The Ten Commandments, in turn, reflect God’s order for human society.

As human beings we have a moral obligation to obey the will of our Creator, no matter what we may think our individual self-interest may be.  But is it really in our self-interest to disobey God?  Are we really “doing all the good we can” by helping others to sin?  John Wesley certainly would not have thought so.  Neither should we.

A former Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, quoted Micah 6:8 in one of his speeches:

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the Lord require of you

But to do justly,

To love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God?”

(NKJV)

Significantly this exhortation is directed toward the entire human race: “He has shown you, O man.”  The word translated “man” is “adam,” the name of our common ancestor, and in this context includes all of his descendants, i.e. the entire human race.

The verse goes on to tell us “what is good,” and what “the Lord requires” of us.  It is a matter of a moral obligation that we to our Creator, and it is “good” – it is right and proper and beneficial to all concerned.

A part of that obligation is that we “do justly,” and that, in turn, means that the civil magistrate has a duty to

“Defend the poor and fatherless;

Do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Deliver the poor and needy;

Free them from the hand of the wicked.”

(Psalm 82:3,4)

The underlying assumption here is that the strong and powerful will take advantage of the weak and vulnerable, and therefore the role of government is to “deliver” or “free” the poor from the rich and powerful.  Thus it is unconscionable that we would have a political and economic system that would leave a large segment of the population destitute and without access to healthcare.  As God judged ancient Israel, so will He judge us. On this point Mrs. Clinton is certainly well-intentioned.

We are also to “love mercy.”  It is a little hard to find an exact English equivalent for the word translated “mercy” (Hebrew: chesed), and scholars have long debated its exact meaning.  But it certainly includes the idea of kindness shown toward others and also carries along with it a kind of faithful and devoted love.  It is “mercy” in the sense of compassion shown toward those in need, and the word is sometimes translated “lovingkindness.”  Not only are we do display this quality; we are to “love” it.  So here again Mrs. Clinton is quite right to be concerned about the welfare of children, minorities, and those suffering from discrimination and injustice.

But the text also says that we are to “walk humbly with your God,” or as it might be more literally translated, “to behave humbly to walk with your God.”  We must be sufficiently humble to recognize that God’s ways are best, and bring our lives into conformity with His will.

The problem with the modern Democratic Party is that it wants to take a secular approach to social justice, and this raises the question of where our standard of justice comes from.  We tend to err on the side of individual autonomy – each individual should be allowed to decide for himself how he wants to live his life.  But when we ignore God’s will our efforts at social justice can be self-defeating.  By promoting “LGBT rights” we may think that we are creating a more inclusive and tolerant society.  But if in the process we create the impression that there are no rules, that any and every kind of sexual behavior can be tolerated, we wind up undermining family stability.  In the long run we create more social problems than we solve.  Lyndon Johnson famously “declared war on poverty.”  Today there is more poverty than ever, and the “Sexual Revolution” is a major reason why.  Pat Moynihan, an Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Johnson Administration and later Mrs. Clinton’s predecessor in the U.S. Senate, pointed out the obvious fact that single parent families have to struggle to survive.  Why is there so much crime in the inner cities?  Because too many young men are growing up in single parent homes without good male role models.  What goes around comes around.

We do not help others by helping them to sin.  We help them by showing them the path toward redemption and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.  All of us live in a universe created by God; all of us are ultimately accountable to Him.  We can find happiness and fulfilment only when we come in line with His purposes for our lives – and His purposes are wise and good.  To love the sinner is to seek to free him from his sin.  Abortion and sodomy are unspeakable sins and are bringing down God’s wrath upon the nation.

Christians, pray for our country!