The boy…treats girls like girls

A while back, I came across a series of articles written by Al Mohler (President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY).  In conservative Christian circles, he is known as a cultural commentator.  He usually asks provocative questions about timely topics.

When he wrote on this topic: a high boy wrestling a high school girl in a state wrestling competition, he wrote of things that we as a culture have now raced right by.  The issue from 2011 is more timely now than ever.

He wrote a wonderful article about a recent wrestling event  (here’s one from 2005).

A Boy In Iowa Won’t Wrestle A Girl

A Female Reporter Completely Misses the Point

A Reporter Misses the Point

It’s Not Fair: Part 2

The rub for many people on the issue of same sex attraction (SSA) or homosexual activity isn’t personal.  In other words, in some places and circumstances, folks don’t understand all the fuss.  The statistics indicate those living in homosexuality is between 2-4%.  Most people aren’t personally or directly living with this issue.  They are confronted with the cable news reports and “front page” (if you can call it that….) news websites.  These kinds of “confrontations” are usually met with either distant disapproval or distant approval.  They turn the TV off a little more anxious (or joyous) about our culture.  No biggie.

Many, however, know people who do have to personally or directly live with this issue.  To be numbered among this crowd means you have to make a choice.  Because the openness of many lesbians and gays to flaunt and glory in their practice or demand approval (even tacit), the rest of us are required to decide how to think about their activities and how to live with them.

Few issues cause as much angst as this.  Few seem so personal, even intimate.  If I was a drunk and I demanded that others accept my drunkenness most of you would say, “No.  You will kill yourself and ruin your family.”  And you’d be correct.  If I was a gambler and I regularly spent my wages at the slots and kept coming to you for money, you’d say, “No.  You have responsibilities to your family and you’re wrecking their lives and I won’t be a part of it.”  In our cultural moment, however, a son or daughter or friend or co-worker or mother or father emerges as a lesbian or gay person and makes the same demand.  And often the answer is “Yes.  What courage!  What happiness!”

Why?  Well, confusion is one reason – we just don’t know what to think.  But often we give approval to homosexual activities because we think to do otherwise isn’t fair.  “I get to sleep with my wife; how can I tell someone he can’t sleep with his male partner?”

We come to this fairness doctrine by several paths.  We hear homosexuals say things like, “I was born this way.  I deserve to be happy.”  Or, in Christian circles, “God doesn’t want me to be miserable.”  Let’s look at each one.

First, “I was born this way.  It’s not fair for you to tell me to live differently.”  Most of the time, we could restate this by saying, “This attraction is so strong and easy in coming that I must’ve been born this way.”  If I wanted to speak to someone who made this claim, I wouldn’t try to deny the strength and ease of the attraction – I know the pull of attractions all too well.  As I’ve said in another post, I have my own attraction-issue (OSA: opposite sex attraction) and I know its strength and its ease.  Yet, to claim SSA or homosexual lusts are an inherent and created part of who I am (such that God would call them “good” and so must I) is a leap.  Neither faith nor science can legitimately make that one.  In fact, science has no evidence to confirm that a person is born a homosexual.  Science has proven without a doubt, the opposite: that we are created male and female, only.  (Physiological exceptions are just that, exceptions.)

No one should deny the power of temptations but the strength of temptation isn’t the same as the inevitability of what it’s calling for. Our temptations are fallen and therefore not the pristine original intention.  Christians cannot justifiably make this claim.  The Bible is clear on how God makes us (Genesis 1:26-27; 9:6).  The Bible is clear on homosexual activities (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  The Bible is also very clear on how each of those who claim to follow Christ must live: holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).

So, do we believe, “I was born this way and it is unfair for you to tell me I have to reject it”?  The “coming-out” stories carry weight – especially among those we dearly love.  No, we don’t buy it – not in the way it’s usually offered.  No one is “born this way” in the sense that homosexuality is inevitable because it is inborn.  The same is true for those with OSA: I wasn’t “born this way” in the sense that lust, fornication and adultery are inevitable.  This objection assumes too much with too little data and ignores too much conflicting data.

Second, “God doesn’t want me to be miserable so why deny who I am?”  This is a very American thing to say: “God doesn’t want me to be miserable.”  There’s no proof in the one place there should be: the Bible.  It is more accurate to say, “I don’t want to be miserable so I won’t deny who I am.”  Which person alive doesn’t agree with that?  Which of us wants to be miserable?  Very few, I suspect.  But when does “I don’t want to be miserable” turn into “It is wrong for me to be miserable?”  Do we realize how much destructive behavior follows from that “law”?

Christian, as a matter of fact, the Bible says that all who claim to be Christ-followers will have to deal with misery.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, [Jesus] has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death in order to present you holy and blameless

Now, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions…

It is interesting how we are fine with Jesus being miserable so we can be saved but not fine with being miserable so He can be glorified.  Paul wasn’t morbid.  He simply understood Jesus’ words that if the world hated him, it would hate all who follow Him (e.g., Luke 21:17).

Any Christian who would suggest that God approves sin so that a person won’t be miserable has lost his mind.  In fact, God forbids sin so that a person won’t be miserable.

There is unfairness in the world: that any who are spared the penalty of their disobedience to God would then turn to that God and make claims the He is unjust in denying their sins.  To cry, “Not Fair!” when we urge people to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Christ is to betray that what a person really wants is to live in any way he wants no matter what.

I am….lost?

“I am [insert abbreviation or acronym].”  How we fill in that blank has radically changed over the years.  Two hundred plus years ago it was, “I am an American.”  One hundred and fifty years ago it was, “I am from the South.”  Less than fifty years ago it was, “I am having free sex.”  If you were to study how our country’s consciousness has evolved on this since our founding, I think we’d see a  balkanization, that is, a rapid dividing and sub-dividing ourselves into smaller and smaller special interest (or behavior) groups.  Most popularly, today, many answer “I am a homosexual” or “I am a lesbian.”  The rest of us don’t know with what to fill the blank and we certainly don’t know how to handle those who fill it with a rainbow word.  The cultural stream has been moving us down its length in our little rubber inner tubes until now the Christian finds himself in an unfamiliar and scary land.

In a series of posts, I want to discuss this phenomenon.   Not balkanization per se, but how in our cultural moment, our identity – the way we describe ourselves – has been reduced to our sexual practices.  At issue today is that there are people (Christians and non) who believe it is correct and morally praiseworthy to fill in the blank with their sexual practices.  The line between identity (“I am”) and practice (“I do”) has been painted over.  What I believe we cannot do, is turn to the Bible in moments of proof-texting weakness and try to use that as a map and compass to get our bearings.  Indeed, the Scriptures are the light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet (Psalm 119:105) when used rightly.  There is no other way out of this but we must be circumspect.

This issue, like no other in my lifetime, will explode with the slightest agitation.  But in the hands of Christ, the fragility is hardened and dialogue and redemptive action is possible.

First, then, “who am I?”  I am a male person made in God’s image.  It is very simple: a non-chaotic God fashioned me male in my mother’s womb.  As a male, I am in His image.  My wife, a woman, is also equally and indelibly in His image, too.  Genesis 1:26-27 lays this out clearly

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness….So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Once conceived and then born, there’s no going back.  My Mom and Pop looked and, yep, “He’s a boy!”  I could’ve been a boy or a girl and it was God’s choice that I am male.  My fate was sealed!  There is more, however.  Genesis 3 narrates a cataclysmic event in the life of mankind.  Christians call it the “Fall.”  What is described is our forebears’ decision to follow their own dictates rather than God’s.  He warned them what would happen if they did; they did it anyway.  So, fast-forward to me in my born maleness.  This Fall leaned into my life and from the first moment of conception, as I was being made in the image of God, I was also utterly corrupted.  Not totally but utterly.

The proof is in the pudding: once when I was young, I threw a potato at my Mom as she was driving down the highway.  I was a very little boy and yet I was a very bad boy!  I sinned because I was born a sinner.  The Bible tells us in Genesis 9:6 that in this Fallen Age at conception of all humans two things are woven together: God’s image and our corruption.  Corruption.  I am still male but a corrupt one: like a cup of water after a drop of red dye has been added.  The red dye is everywhere in me but I’m still the made-in-God’s-image-me.  I’m not the red dye.

For me, the difficultly in living as a male takes many forms.  In my soul is mingled a love for Christ and love for His competitors, that is, things that will captivate me such that I will want them more than Christ.  One of those I call “OSA” or opposite sex attraction.  My whole life I have been beset with it: gazing, fantasizing, plotting, hoping…even after I married my dear wife, the battle rages on.  I don’t have SSA (same sex attraction).  Why?  I don’t know.  I know two things from the Bible, however.  As a single man and as a married man, my battle with OSA (and other things) rages as much as any other human battles a first-tier attraction.  As a pastor, though, I know men (and women) who battle these things and more and the instruction to us all is the same:

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15)

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

I also know for me to say, “I am heterosexual” isn’t a statement of identity, it is one of practice.  Remember: I am not the red dye.  Unless we recover an understanding that separates out statements of identity from those of practice, many who self-identify based on their sexual practices will be in the darkness of chaos and confusion.  There is a better way: John 14:6.

Heaven soon,

Pastor Gabe