I know exactly what you’re asking me, but let me throw this one out first: Everyone is created by God in His image, with no less dignity than the Jesus who saves us, and so we’re to treat anyone and everyone with the same dignity, no exceptions. There’s no special type of love for anyone: just the one love that God throws on all of us despite our dirty disobedience.
So the church holds the unpopular view about sexuality. We (by “we” I mean the public view of the church) are easily demonized for it: that God made marriage between only one man and one woman. The liberal-minded mainstream calls that an intolerant bigotry, as if that in itself is not bigoted. But it’s also true the church has demonized same-sex attraction as some kind of horrifying, worst-of-all, child-kidnapping monstrosity. We forgot the whole image of God thing.
I’ve had at least one friend tell me about his same-sex attraction. I treated him the same way I would any fellow sinner: with grace, love, truth, and constant presence. He was a bit surprised I was open to talk about it, since up until then he had been shamed. The church should be blamed for that one; we’re not good at handling it, as if we could be “infected. It’s funny the church doesn’t also say that about hatred, gossip, laziness, pride, arrogance: as if those sins are more acceptable.
I’m aware it’s also unpopular to say that homosexuality is like “any other sin,” like alcoholism or gambling or lust, but the Bible gives it neither special attention nor neglect in its list of disobedience against God. It really is one sin in a list of many, and you’ll need to let your friend know about it. God does not make this an opinion or put it to vote. Just speak that truth in love with a motive to build. Some will receive the gospel, some will not, just like every other sinner.
Bottom line: We do not capitulate to homosexuality as the “norm,” nor can we approach a person with homosexual feelings as some kind of aberrant grotesque subhuman. That person, no matter their brokenness, needs Jesus.
Be open to talk about it but don’t treat it lightly. Be there for them but do not condone sin. Show love, but love cannot exist without keeping it real. Jesus after his miracles often said in grace, “You are forgiven.” But in truth he would also say, “Go and sin no more.” We need both.
Thanks for encouraging. I understand your struggle, trust me on that. I’ve read stories of guys sent to those prison-therapy ranches with no access to anything and they still found ways to indulge themselves. Dudes can get off on tractors because there’s no end to the depravity of man.
One thing we get from the Bible is that God doesn’t just change what you do, he changes what you want to do. Your thought-life, your motives, the loop of self-talk you play over and over, your mood and desires and passions. Some of us can easily quit porn, but it’s never been about the porn. Some of us can even quit masturbating, but still aggressively seek pleasure in illegitimate ways. There’s the tip of your iceberg, and then there’s the iceberg.
So we’re talking about symptoms and the central issue. It’s good that a hospital can treat the car accidents from the hole on the street, but eventually someone needs to fix that hole. I don’t mean to get metaphorical on you, but there’s a reason you’re afraid to let go of masturbation — you’re still treating it like an option.
That’s not to say you need to get microscopic on your life and drag out every terrible trauma from your past. It’s also not to say there’s something horribly unfixable about you. I’ll suggest the opposite: that it’s not so much there’s a reason you’re afraid to let go, but that there is no reason to let go.
God not only saves you from sin, but toward something better. If we define ourselves by what we quit, we’ll never quite climb the hill to who we can be in Christ. You have a gift, you have a calling, God has purposed you for better.
That’s not some empty cliche I’m spouting here. If we’re made to love God and love people, then God has put a unique way in you to do that — a gift to unleash on the face of the world for His name. You can move from negative one to zero, but eventually you’ll need to get to positive one.
That’s where church, ministry, serving, worship, and all the venues of God come into play. And there is no sacred/secular division — God comes into play at work, school, family, and all your hobbies. These days, even when I’m idle and on Sabbath, I’m on a mission way bigger than temporary pleasures. I pray you’ll get on that and run with it.
Just know: what you’re called to sacrifice when you follow God will eventually not feel like sacrifice but will be desirable, because God never calls you to sacrifice something you didn’t need anyway. Your flesh may fight it, but run with all strength at God and you’ll find Him in joyful obedience. It’s scary to follow God, but more scary to follow myself.
but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” —
Don’t give up, brothers and sisters. Stand firm. Persevere.
oceansofgrace asked: Hi Unka Glen- If you’ve seen the recent “Why I Love Jesus but Hate Religion” video, what do you think of it/all the controversy over it?
Unka Glen answered: I have seen it, and for those of you who haven’t, you can see it here.
Here’s the thing, if you see someone has put their heart and soul into a poem, or song, or painting, and you think you see something wrong with that, and you get the urge to pick it apart and say something rude and ugly… don’t. Okay? Just don’t. Nobody likes you when you do that, and if you think that wrapping yourself in the “greater good”, or the Bible, or you name it, is going to make it legit, it isn’t. So just let it be. I’ve said it before: a man of God acts, he doesn’t react.
I was definitely guilty of this too. Despite my disagreement with some of the video, I really did overreact.
Thanks Pastor Glen. Going to delete some posts now and do some good old-fashioned repentance.
Sometimes when I ask what I can pray for, I hear, “Things have been good for a while. Just for them to stay that way.”
I nod, but I don’t ever pray that for them.
The problem of pleasure is a much more imprisoning epidemic than the problem of pain. With pain there’s at least relief or compassion or community; with pleasure there is addiction, endless emptiness, a slavery to false emotion, no limit to satisfaction until you’re dead or dying or have used up everyone around you.
I believe our need for God is an objective reality. Pain might take us there or embitter us, but pleasure always blinds us until it’s too late.
So no, I won’t keep praying for your comfort and safety and temporary happiness. I don’t mean that with malice. But by the grace of God you’ll be afflicted with some horrible wake-up call and that will be a kindness. That will be God’s mercy on your smug, disingenuous, bubble-wrapped life.
I pray God will wreck you afresh. Wreck me for You, Lord.
Thank you for answering my previous questions. I enjoy hearing what you have to say about these topics! So I was wondering…what do you think of the end of times? Personally, it’s a subject that is of extreme fascination to me. What do you think of the book of Revelations? Do you think we’ll see the end of the Earth as we know it in our life time? How do you think it will happen? I would love to hear your thoughts. I’m actually taking an English class on the subject, and I’m really looking forward to learning all about the topic, as it has interested me for so long yet I never got a chance to study it. God Bless and keep on preaching the Good News!
Thanks for the encouragement!
Over a year ago, I wrote a pretty long, detailed, boring post on the End Times. I was really dissatisfied with how seminary taught it, though I’m grateful, so I shared some of the scholarly stuff while sharing my own thoughts.
I’ll simplify it the best I can for you here. The End Times — not just Revelation, but throughout the entire Bible — can be divided into two categories: What we know and what we don’t know.
What we know:
1) Jesus is coming back, this time a King instead of a servant.
2) There will be a global, catastrophic, awe-inducing judgment on the world.
3) There is a “rapture,” in which Christian believers will either be taken to Heaven, set aside from judgment, or be given their heavenly bodies. Some would say all three.
4) The earth will be transformed somehow by both total devastation and restoration.
5) Jesus will reign on earth.
What we don’t know:
2) The judgment is often coupled with a period called the “tribulation,” in which people “left behind” will have a time to decide if they want to believe. The tribulation will be marked with wars, disease, disasters, and political conflicts. What scholars disagree on is how long, whether believers will or will not experience it, or if it has already happened.
3) Jesus will institute a thousand year reign of peace where Satan is locked away. Unbelievers will continue to grow because of sinful hearts. Satan will be released one last time for one last judgment, and then finally an Eternal Kingdom will reign. Some scholars say this is all metaphorical.
4) Most of the symbols — the dragon, the mark of the beast, the birthing woman, the humanoid locusts, the seven bowls, seals, trumpets, scrolls — are open for debate. Many read Revelation as literally as possible, while others recognize poetic structures and allegories. Some say Revelation is chronological, while others say it is mostly flashbacks and flashforwards.
Apostle John wrote about 2000 years ago that he was living in the last hour. But both Moses and Peter said that in the mind of God, a day is a thousand years and vice versa. I believe we may be living in the last few minutes of that last hour, but I make no special claims. We can only be ready and stand guard, just like Jesus said.
One last thing here: When Jesus comes back, it’ll be awesome. Every knee will bow, every tongue confess, Jesus is Lord, finally. For some this will be terrifying, for others the moment we’ve been waiting for.
So there are two discussions here. The first is the good old-fashioned battle of Faith versus Works, where Christians unwittingly pit one against the other. I believe it’s a hot issue again since the “I Hate Religion” video, but the answer has always been the same. It’s never faith versus works, but as I’ve said before, true faith is a faith that works. James 2 says it all.
Some of us get confused by Ephesians 2:8-9, where it appears we only need faith, but we forget to read verse ten (and the rest of Ephesians). Of course works by themselves do not save us, or else we’ve hit Pharisee-land, but you know the rest: works must flow from the wellspring of true belief.
Now a little theology lesson on lukewarm: The word lukewarm is only used once in the Bible, the famous Revelation 3:16, where Jesus tells the church at Laodicea that their deeds are neither hot nor cold so he will spit (literally vomit) them out of his mouth. The Greek work for lukewarm is chliaros, which is actually more like “wildly fluctuating between extremes,” or unstable.
Jesus is rebuking these rich, lazy, luxury-dependent Laodiceans for their inconsistency. Since Jesus is referring to their works, he’s most likely saying that their works are routine practice at best, and dead lifeless religion at worst.
Think of what being filthy rich can do to a Christian: you depend less on God for anything, focus on your empire, and lose the desperation for God. Which is why Jesus after this rebuke tells them, You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
Yet these Laodiceans still put the Jesus-label on their works since they couldn’t cut him completely out of the picture; if they couldn’t be hot, they didn’t want to be cold. They went to church, gave a little offering, paid lip service, and looked like Christians when it was convenient or beneficial. But who would do that now, right? Right.
Today’s problem is certainly that we have too much money, but add to that daily distractions like smartphones, tablets, ambitions, blogs, shopping, five-second celebrity status, and first world problems. All this squeezes the hunger for God and causes us to be lukewarm for Him, adding Him as one more part of our schedule. So while lukewarm Christians may do Christian things now and then, there’s no heart of faith behind them. It’s an unstable go-to flirtation where we run to God when we need Him and stay put when we don’t.
Simple definition: A lukewarm Christian forgets his all-consuming need for God but doesn’t want to completely leave Him, so goes about routinely making Him part of the daily regimen. The functional word is hypocrite. Jesus says choose hot or cold, because at least there’s integrity in that. Only the coward would be lukewarm.