Thursday, 31 March 2016

The Bible and Homosexuality

What I want to make apparent from the start is that I love everyone (as does God.  He hates the sin, not the sinner).  I have friends who are gay, and I want to stay friends with them, and although I may say things that are offensive, I need people to understand that it is said out of love and concern.

The last thing I want to do is to get in the way of love.

I don’t just say that homosexuality is wrong because the sight of it makes my stomach uneasy.  Honestly, I want people to be happy, and to do things that make them happy.  It makes me smile when others are doing so.  If I wasn’t fully convinced that God had a problem with homosexuality, then I wouldn’t even bring it up.

Now to the part where I use the Bible to show that homosexuality is wrong…

Romans 1:21-27 (NIV)

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.

This passage makes a number of weighty pronouncements, but I want to highlight one phrase in particular:

“God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts”

I often hear that “homosexuality isn’t a choice, it’s natural.”  I would respond by saying that doesn’t mean much.  After all, it’s natural for someone to want to lie to save their skin.  As the passage states, the heart has sinful desires.  Elsewhere in the Bible it says that we are born evil (Romans 7:5; Psalm 51:5; Proverbs 22:15; Genesis 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9).  Saying that something is natural is not saying that it is therefor moral or right.  It’s natural for me to be lazy and a glutton.

But giving over to our bodily desires isn’t evil in and of itself.  It’s choosing our bodily desires over obedience to God that makes it a sin (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

God not only created us, but he also established the definition of marriage from the very beginning:

Genesis 2:20-24 (NIV)

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

There is one more Bible passage that I want to bring to your attention in regards to the immorality of homosexuality:

1 Corinthians 6:7-11 (ESV)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

In my original blog post on homosexuality, I didn’t include this passage.  I believe the reason for my exclusion was that I was scared people would use it as excuse to believe that I was one of those hateful bible thumpers that believe homosexuals are going to Hell.  I’ve even been personally asked if I thought that gay people were going to Hell.

Look at verse 11 (the only superscripted number, I left it in there on purpose).  It says these sins are no longer condemning Christians because they are made pure in the sight of God because of the actions of Jesus.

…So, are homosexuals going to Hell or not?

The Bible makes it very clear that all who believe in Jesus will be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9,13).  Christians don’t go to Hell.  So the question now becomes “can a Christian be a homosexual?”

The question is no different than the question “can a Christian be a liar?” or “can a Christian be a drunkard?”

I don’t like these questions because it makes the negative traits appear to be part of one’s identity, like stealing something makes someone a thief.  If the thief gives back what they stole, and never steals again, are they still a thief?  For those who answer “yes,” remember that Christians stand justified before God, pure in his sight because of what Jesus has done (Romans 3:24).

To state things simply:  yes, technically a person can practice homosexuality, even as a Christian, and still go to Heaven, according to the Bible.  But, a legitimate Christian won’t want to sin in this way (Romans 7:21-26; Romans 8:5).

I want to finish by stating that it is not my wish to be unloving, discriminatory, or disrespectful in any way.  I recognize that not everyone believes the same thing as I do.  However, if one is as convinced as I am that Bible is the actual word of God, then one needs to admit that it applies to everyone, not just to those who believe or like it.  It is because I care others and want them to be right with God that I have written this article.  

Let love win:  God’s love for you that is.

Friday, 4 March 2016

The Meaning of Life, Put Simply

The best way for you to truly understand the meaning of life is for you approach it, step by step, until you’ve reached the answer, should you dare to approach it.  I will eventually explain the meaning of life, but first, I’m going to give you the tools needed to figure it out for yourself.  You ready? 

Do you think that it is scientifically possible to discover the meaning of life?  Human life, with all its complexities… a proven meaning to life seems a bit hard to believe, doesn’t it?  Okay, let’s start with something easier. 

I’m a grocery man, so I’ll use a grocery example.  Imagine you came across a jar of raspberry jam, but it had no label on it and you had no idea what it was.  Imagine you didn’t even know what jam (or raspberries) was.  How would you go about figuring out what it was meant to be used for? 

You could open up the jar, pull out some of the gooey substance, and put it in your mouth to taste it.  There’s a couple things wrong with that:
If you don’t know what something is, don’t put it in your mouth, silly.
Even if it ends up tasting good (and it will, it’s raspberry jam, after all) and doesn’t end up killing you, how could you be sure that it really is meant to be eaten?

What would be the best way to figure out what the mystery goop was?  Well, it had to come from somewhere, right?  So the best thing to do would be to find out where it came from.

The meaning of the raspberry jam can be traced to the manufacturers of the stuff.  They could tell you both how it was made, and why it was made; the makers of raspberry jam could tell you it’s purpose.

That concept can be applied to anything:  the meaning of something can be traced to its origin.  Humanity is no exception.

There are two popular system of beliefs about the origin of humanity:
A completely secular evolution where the Big Bang started things off and we eventually by chance came to be.
We came about via the will of some sort of deity, by means including but not exclusive to a spontaneous Creation, or an evolution.

So, for you to figure out what the meaning to life is, all you need to do is to figure out where we came from. 

If there were no God or gods (or aliens, don’t forget aliens!) involved, and we simply evolved, then people would be right to be confused about the meaning of life.  Evolution is survival of the fittest – but the very definition of “fittest” has changed in the course human evolution as it is commonly accepted.  So the meaning of life would constantly be changing.  It wouldn’t be unreasonable to then assume that the meaning of life would be whatever you want it to be, since in this case there’s no definite, unchanging answer.

If there were some sort of higher power involved in our origin, the best thing to do to figure out the meaning of life would be to inquire of the higher power.  If you are convinced that there was an intelligent being involved in the formation of humankind, then it would be your responsibility to figure out who this being was, and what was their intention with us.  The answer to this inquiry would give us our answer to the meaning of life.

That’s it, you have the tools needed to figure out the meaning of life for yourself!

“Okay Stephen, so what do you think the meaning of life is?”  I’m so very glad that you asked!

My own investigation of the evidence (click here to gain a good idea of what this investigation consists of) has led me to believe that since the supernatural is real, a higher being (or, at least, a metaphysical being not limited by the same dimensions as we are) must be real.  The highest of these beings would be the logical one to go to for the answer to the meaning of life.  In ancient days, the God of Israel proved to be superior to all other deities through His miracles.  Today, through science and reasoning (in addition to what many would say are miracles) that same God has proven Himself to be real, and the very one who is responsible for our origin.  The Bible is our best resource to finding out what He says the meaning of life is.

According to the Bible, the meaning of life is to worship God.

That’s it, worship God, and you’re fulfilling the meaning of life.  This means that anyone’s life can have meaning, regardless of who they are or what they have done.  The first act of worship must be giving your life over to Jesus – one can’t simultaneously worship God and be disobedient to Him (Romans 8:8).  True worship isn’t what you say with your mouth, but what you believe in your heart and practice in your life.

Meaning of life, even more simply...

Our origin…  

Genesis 1:27 - So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

How we complete our purpose…

Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Figuring out more on the specifics…

Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths.