by Kennan B.
Acts has had the tendency to mitigate frustrations I have in my life, when it comes to inter-faith issues and the bottom line. When someone is new to the faith, there's a period of rest and sanctuary, but soon one discovers faith is tested over and over. We have that Joyce Meyer "Battlefield of the Mind" concept, where worldly concepts and thoughts, and even inter-faith ideas just don't make sense. How we approach and respond to that is critical as it has the propensity to deeply damage one's faith in destructive ways if not handled correctly.
There are two cases in which this could happen. Either one will "give-up" the faith, as is the tragic story with many of our brothers and sisters. Or sometimes more destructively, they can become an instrument of helping to destroy others' faith. When we don't agree on doctrine or the minutia of the "dos and don'ts" of Christian faith, we can become almost militant about it -- to the point where we start telling people things like, "You're going to hell...you're not being moral....you're dishonoring God...you're choosing death..." -- All of those little "isms" that we as gay people are accustomed to hearing, and have to put up with (at times) daily.
Acts 5 has been a comforting response to this drama.
Acts 5:35-39 (NIV)
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored
by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put
outside for a little while.
35 Then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.
36 Sometime ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.
37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.
39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
We oftentimes are so wrapped up in our own understanding, that we expect every believer who is truly a believer to conform to our understanding. Otherwise, we all too often judge them and see their life as "trouble ahead." Gamaliel, to me, is really the only non-Christian man of true faith in this whole book who really "gets it" (Maybe he was a closet Christian, who knows). The point is, his faith was so grounded and his heart so sound that he didn't freak out and cry "rape" when something didn't resonate with his understanding (or in today's sense "rape on traditional marriage"). Instead, he plainly let the people and other "men of the law" know that God's will is supreme and his purpose will precipitate no matter what.
Sadly, I don't think a lot of Christians understand this concept. "If Jesus were alive today, he'd be furious over gay-marriage!"
And that's just the point.
There's a lack of faith in invoking brash assertions such as this. It seems as if many Christians think Jesus was somebody who lived a long time ago and is far away preparing a place for our arrival. He's not really here in our daily lives pulling the strings of his divine plan. Of course that maybe professed, but do people really claim that and live it out? Taking matters into their own hands seems to be what's selling well today.
Those who don't see our understanding as in accordance with "sound doctrine," don't follow Gamaliel's example and peacefully say, "If your cause is not from God, you will fail and be disbanded." Instead holy wars are raged at the expense of something more significant than marriage or any other issues of contention in contemporary Christianity...that of the human soul and the eternal fellowship with Christ. How many gay believers do you know who "quit the faith" because of the disparaging and slanderous remarks made by "Bible believing Christians" on something close to their core?
"Hate the sin, love the sinner." I am so sick and tired of that little gem thrown around so casually and "lovingly." It is nothing more the a canard to put a pretty facade on the fact that many fundamentalists really don't put bringing someone into a personal relationship with Christ first. Or even deeper -- they really don't know how to respond, so instead of trusting God, they lean on their set of "facts" and understanding to guide their response. In fact, if it weren't for scripture, I would almost be 100% positive that we all have to "clean up our acts" before coming to Christ. None of this, "Come as you are, friend!" B.S. Of course maybe it's "Come as you are...unless you're gay."
Because it's just so blatantly evident that gays are undermining the church.
I belong to a very loving, albeit non-affirming, church in Colorado. The men and woman of faith in that church are some of the finest people to ever walk with. I've grown so much in faith, and truly do hold them in the highest regard. However, I have been told that were I to ever "enter into the lifestyle" (i.e. make a lifetime God-centered commitment to someone of the same gender), I would be asked to leave the church. A classic example of how a follower of Christ, who professes with their mouth that "Christ is Lord" and who is guiltless of breaking up unity in the church, is merely kicked out on the street, and told that they need to "clean up their act" before being part of the body of Christ. This in essence sending the message that a Bible believing Christian who takes up their cross daily and lives a life dedicated to Christ is not welcome when their non-destructive interpretation of scripture does not resonate with the status-quo.
I suppose the point I want to make is that as Christians, we're just as susceptible to the mentality of the Pharisees and the Jews in the New Testament. We get so grounded in our legalistic "safe" mentality, that we forget things like how Jesus works all things for good for those who believe. That means Christ is on the side of gay believers, too. I think many fundamentalists (conveniently) forget that.
If something in your life is from God, it will survive -- that is a promise to claim in Acts. If not, it will fail. We need to be cognizant of both of these ideas as we pursue the Lord.
I like to remember that God has a path and a will for all of us. Yes there is absolute truth...but sometimes it isn't the absolute truth we think it is. We are all called to something special that only we can fulfill in this life. This is why I have to be tolerant of differing doctrines and convictions. God has put certain people on a path where particular things are just not an option for them. I do, for example, believe that some people who used to be gay can become straight; however, I don't believe that it's an "absolute truth" that applies to us all. There are too many homosexual men and women of faith in this world who have proven that fighting against the hand God dealt them in this life is pointless. We are called to be "one in Christ" and to dedicate ourselves to Christ's purpose. There are times when it is appropriate for a church body to ask a member to leave -- but this is only in the circumstance where unity breaks down and the mission of spreading the gospel and walking with the Lord could potentially be compromised.
Homosexuals who attend churches in no way compromise this ultimatum...no matter how opponents may spin the argument. Telling an earnest Christian in honest pursuit of the Lord to leave a church is unacceptable. It demonstrates a complete disregard for their immortal soul, and rages assault on that person's faith.
Courage UK (www.courage.org.uk) recently re-evaluated their mission and purpose in light of over a decade of cases that could be called anything but a success. "We never saw the fruit we longed for," states Jeremy Marks, founder of Courage. And in contrast he writes about how those who had focused on Christ while finding their mate, began to live fruitful and joyful lives.
The bottom line.
But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
© 2005 Kennan B.
|Main Menu||Back to Articles|