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Truth and Planks

November 19, 2010

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

That's from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Romans - specifically Romans 1:18-23 (this is from the English Standard Version).

Shortly after writing the article in this series called "Juice", I received the November issue of Whistleblower magazine. The title of the issue was interesting - America's Gay Obsession (culture, politics, marriage, even the military - why homosexuality is advancing).

Even more interesting was an article titled The Bible and "Vile Affections". That article started with the following -

In a March 2008 campaign speech during which Barack Obama defended key parts of the homosexual activist agenda, the candidate denigrated the following scriptural quote as an “obscure passage in Romans”. In reality, this famous passage from the opening chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans has been cited for centuries for crystallizing the biblical view of homosexuality.

The obscure passage in Romans that followed - that would be Romans 1:18-32.

Sound familiar? It should. Part of it is at the top of every article in this series.

I have to say - this passage certainly is not obscure - and it's also not used only for the purpose they stated.

Seriously, Romans is the book that Christians who study it say that it changes their lives forever. To think that the opening chapter is used largely for this purpose - or that it's obscure - is to take much away from what it means. While part 3 of the series hasn't been published yet - I can say that it isn't on this topic - so I've used this obscure little passage for three very different reasons.


Having said that - let's get back to the issue again.

Literary technique says it's good to have something to get people's attention. How's this?

I don't believe that homosexuality is the problem.

If you are happy because you think that means I don't believe it's a problem - sorry - that's not what it says.

If you're a Christian - and wonder how I can say this - read on.

If you're neither happy about it nor a Christian - but still upset - read on.

If you're not feeling anything at all about the statement - maybe you should read this first. Then see if you feel anything.


So - one of the articles is "Fear Factor", by David Kupelian. In it, he says -

Very simply, most people in today’s America, including conservatives, are afraid of “the gay issue”.

...

In fact, much of “conservatism” has morphed in recent years into “libertarianism” – which is basically conservatism minus the moral, faith-based dimension.

So far - sounds like it's on the right track - wanting a moral, faith-based view of it.

And this theme continues in a later article by the same author, this one called "America On The Brink".

Many of us, I am afraid, have lost our deep inner sense of morality God imbued us with at birth. We have been desensitized, confused, influenced – brainwashed if you will – by the non-stop subversive messaging of a smart, sophisticated, but at root godless and mocking, culture.

Among the references in the article to support this are Leviticus 18:22. I always like to look at the context whenever one verse is pulled out of the Bible - just to be sure the point is being made correctly. In this case, the entirety of Leviticus 18 has to do with what the NIV calls "Unlawful Sexual Relations". This chapter begins with the following:

Unlawful Sexual Relations

The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices. You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them. I am the LORD.

“ ‘No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the LORD.

This is followed by 17 verses of "Do not..." do various things - along with an explanation of why not. The homosexual part is but one of these 17 prohibitions.

The chapter then ends with -

“ ‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

“ ‘Everyone who does any of these detestable things—such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.’ ”

letting the people know what the punishment will be for violating any of the laws that God set up for His people.


I think it's important to note that all of the 17 forms on unlawful sexual relations were present in Egypt where the Israelites had been held captive. They were also common practice in the land of Canaan - where God was in the process of delivering His people after their release from Egypt. I'm not going to put in a copy of each of these prohibitions - but if you want to know what they were - the link is above. My only point is that there were many - and they were all in practice way before our time. And God's people were to partake in none of them.


The other reference in the article was to Leviticus 20:13. If you'd like to read the whole chapter, it is Leviticus 20. The NIV titles that chapter Punishments for Sin.

It opens with -

The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him. I will set my face against that man and I will cut him off from his people; for by giving his children to Molech, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech and they fail to put him to death, I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molech.

Yes - it really does say put them to death. The OT was like that. However - instead of getting caught up on that part of it - look at it this way. We don't kill people for these things any more - at least not by killing their bodies. But - those who do these things and don't repent - they will experience the second death - eternity in Hell - which is far worse than killing the body - when they are judged by God. You see - it's not up to us to judge and take vengeance - that's God's right that He claimed for Himself.


If you've read enough articles on this site - you know I go for the truth - the whole truth - and nothing but the truth. In the interest of the whole truth - these two articles referenced from the magazine present one of a rather large number of prohibitions.

Having said that - remember from the beginning where I said that doesn't mean I think homosexuality isn't a problem. There are a couple other articles in the magazine that present some frightening statistics.


In “Sex And Consequences", by Jill Stanek -

MSM account for nearly half of the more than one million people living with HIV in the U.S. [MSM is men who have sex with men]

While the CDC estimates that MSM account for just 4 percent of the U.S. male population aged 13 and older, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among MSM in the U.S. is more than 44 times that of other men.

So - no - HIV isn't a gay only problem - but the numbers are so disproportionately high - it's hard to not notice.

She goes on to say -

But where are the health warnings?

We get warnings about the consequences of every other destructive behavior. Smoking cigarettes leads to cancer; alcoholism annihilates livers; driving drunk makes mothers MADD; texting while driving kills friends; drugs damage brain cells; failure to wear motorcycle helmets splatters brain cells; not paying taxes sends the IRS; sugar is bad; fat is bad; those and overeating lead to obesity, which Michelle Obama is currently crusading as very bad.

This is a really good question. Some people want to ban Happy Meals - but this is OK?


In fact - it's not being banned - it's actually being promoted - with some other harmful consequences as pointed out in "What's Causing All The Gay Teen Suicides", by Linda Harvey.

Recent trends in public schools might provide some clues. “Gay” advocacy is growing, now aimed at kids at younger and younger ages. Over 4,000 homosexual clubs have been formed in the past decade, some now at the middle-school level. New, often sexually graphic fiction urges children to explore alternate sexual behavior and gender norms.

Kids are urged to “come out” early. That’s exactly what several of these young victims did, and such actions are often associated with subsequent early suicide attempts.


Interested yet? There's more.


There's also "The End Of Civilization Question", by Brian Fitzpatrick. He looks at what causes civilizations to end from two different points of view.

First - the Biblical view -

In the traditional Christian view, the Apostle Paul warns that societies perish when they depart from devotion and obedience to God. The further they turn away from God, he writes, the more vile their sins become. Eventually they become so wicked that God judges them and they are destroyed.

And from the historical view -

Depending in the reader’s worldview, the preceding resonates either as strongly worded truth, or as an ancient fairy tale. But religious skeptics might be surprised to discover that the findings of the greatest researchers of cultural decline are strikingly similar to Paul’s.

So - what to do? Should it be banned like riding motorcycles without helmets?

Fitzpatrick suggests the following -

What America really needs is a Fourth Great Awakening. But while everyone’s waiting for God to move, the first step in getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Americans might take a step in the right direction by casting off their “moral schizophrenia” and acknowledging what everybody already knows to be true about homosexuality: that it is not an immutable characteristic like race or sex, but a behavior symptomatic of an underlying emotional disorder.

Excuse me? This just seems wrong on at least a couple of counts.

To label it is simply an emotional disorder - I don't think that's a very Christian way to talk about it - and I have to say he's gone way past credibility when he says that "everybody" already knows this. They don't - plain and simple.

To suggest that we humans stop waiting for God to do something and take matters into our own hands doesn't seem like a very Christian thing to do either.


And - while I'm at it - what happened to the other 16 prohibitions from Leviticus 18? All of these things are going on today in the world - just as they were back in Moses' time. Why are we singling out this one issue?

Let me bring in some quotes from one more article in the magazine - this one called "The Gay Deathstyle", by Matt Barber. He says -

It’s tragic when people yield to disordered sexual temptations that can literally kill them spiritually, emotionally and physically. Nobody with any compassion enjoys watching others “[receive] in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” But a corollary to free will is living – or dying – with the choices we’ve made.

...

Another problem lies in the fact that far too many Christians have contributed to the dilemma by failing to speak truth, in love, on the issue of homosexuality (pastors with “gay” congregants and family members, I’m talking to you.) Nobody likes to be unfairly labeled a hater, “homophobe” or bigot, but fear of such attacks offers no justification for failing to speak truth in love.

He also talks about but one of the 17 items in Leviticus - but at least he finally brings out the concept of speaking in love.


When I read the part about killing someone spiritually, it reminds me of Matthew 10:26-33 where Jesus was instructing His disciples before sending them out to preach The Gospel -

“So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.

So yes - as much as anything in this entire issue may get people upset - it's relatively speaking - small potatoes compared to the real issue.


And what is the real issue? Let's take a look at the whole section of Romans that's being talked about - Romans 1:18-32 -

God’s Wrath Against Mankind

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.


So - in a sense - let's give "credit" where credit is due.

Like I said at the beginning - homosexuality is not the problem. It's a symptom. A symptom that we are ignoring God - that we aren't giving Him credit and we aren't following His commands. On top of that - it isn't even the first symptom!

So - why aren't Christians addressing the real problem? I leave that for each of us to examine our own hearts for the answers.


In the interest - again - of the whole truth - here comes another part that many of us probably don't want to hear. That would be from Romans again - chapter 2 - right after the section titled God's Wrath Against Mankind. It's Romans 2:1-11 -

God’s Righteous Judgment

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath , when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.

This part is directed at us - the Christians and Jews who pass judgment on others.

As I've spent more time the last couple years doing Bible studies - writing this site - I come to appreciate more and more that the things we judge people for are not the real problems. The real problems come from the war between Good and Evil - and I'm not talking about some movie or thriller book. This is the real thing - God Versus Satan.


We shouldn't be enabling people to sin against God. But neither should we be condemning them for it. We should be an example to them - a light in the darkness, as Jesus said.

In the Old Testament days - when people were killed in the physical sense for disobedience to God - the Ten Commandments had a lot of "thou shalt not" in them. Now - in New Testament days - the way Jesus tells us to live is from the Sermon on the Mount - as in Matthew 5:1-16 -

The Beatitudes

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.


There's nothing in there about killing people as in the OT days.

There's nothing in there about condemning people - at least not by us.

We are to be merciful - pure in heart - and peacemakers.

We are not to take other action while we "wait for God". We are to do what He told us to do. We are to be an example to others - to be light and salt.

If we do that - and bring them to God - not just the homosexuals, and not just the people doing the other 16 forbidden sexual acts - but the people who have turned away from God for whatever reason - if we bring all of these people to God - the rest is up to Him, not up to us.


Ultimately - in the war of God versus Satan - if we try to fight it on our own - we lose, as in Acts 19:13-16 -

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

Oops.

If we follow the roles God has set for us and let Him do what only He can do - we win - because He wins, as it is written in Revelation 20:7-10 -

Satan’s Doom

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The thing is - God's going to win. Our choice is which side do we want to be on.

Choice 1 - as in the Apostle Paul's letter, Philippians 3:12-16 -

Pressing on Toward the Goal

Phil 3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Choice 2 - as in Revelation 20:11-15

The Dead Are Judged

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


Funny thing about free will - we have the choice. We can accept Jesus as our Saviour - or not. We can follow God's commands - or not. What we don't get to choose - the rules - or the outcome. We are allowed to think we can choose them - but in the end - we can't.


There are all sorts of rules that we can point to - and tell other people they are wrong. Then we condemn them for breaking those rules.

Two problems with that - at least two.

The first problem - if we were to take the worst person who ever lived (whoever that may be) - and the best person who ever lived (Jesus) - and put ourselves in the middle along a scale of really bad to perfectly good - we'd be so much closer to the really bad than to Jesus. Do we even want to go there? Not a single one of us has a claim to being so good that we don't need God's grace - because if we go by the rules - we're all condemned - by the only One that really matters. Except for Jesus and the gift of salvation He offers us - we all go to the second death.

The second problem - Romans 2:1-11 - don't pass judgment on someone else. That is SO hard to do - but it's what we are told to do.

Be a light - yes.

Be salt - yes.

Be an example - yes.

Pray for people - yes.

Lead them to God - yes.

Save them ourselves - no.

Condemn them ourselves - no.


And that pretty much sums up my problems with the message in this issue of Whistleblower. It doesn't give credit where credit is due. It says that we - human beings - can do something about the homosexual issue. It ignores all of the other warnings given to us in the Bible - seeming to call out this one thing as the problem.


In our society - we tend to think of winners and losers - we tend to look for someone to blame when things go wrong (someone else) - we tend to think everyone should be just like us - because we're "right". In a letter to the Christians in Corinth, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 -

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

For anyone who has turned away from God - for whatever the reason is - this is how we should react. Our goal is to win them over - not to turn them off and drive them even further from God.


We want others to see God - to know what He wants - but don't always look at what He wants from us. It's easier to look at others. It's harder to look at ourselves.

For all the times that something related to God and the Bible is mentioned in this issue of the magazine - there was far too little of God in the proposed solutions. That would have forced one to consider the words of Jesus in Luke 6:37-42 -

Judging Others

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Writing this site has caused me to look at lot more at my own eye - and this series especially. When considering giving credit where credit is due - it's natural to want all / most / at least some of it to go to us. Coming to the realization that none of the credit for the good stuff comes to us - that's hard. Once we start to get past that - then we have to face the consequences of what that means. And that's even harder.

But somewhere along the line - we start to realize what we've been given - by Jesus dying on the cross for us - and we can't help but want to share that.

So - for the people who are stuck in one of the lifestyles that are talked about in Leviticus - my prayers go out for you - that you may be freed from them - that you see the light and return to God. Because God does love you - as He loves everyone - but He also loves you too much to leave you where you are.

For the people who wrote the articles in the magazine and didn't look to God for the answers - my prayers go out to you - that you may see that He is the only way out - that you see the light and look to Him. Because God loves you too - as He loves everyone - but He loves you too much to leave you where you are.

And now - for myself - I pray that God will continue to help me take the plank out of my own eye - because He loves me too - but He loves me too much to leave me where I am.