Ware Farms

Speaking truth to prejudice

Sunday, April 09, 2006

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The Man in the Ditch

Braveheart,

You seem rather enamored of Paul's letters while paying less attention to what Jesus taught us.

When the lawyer asked Jesus, "Who is our neighbor?" Christ responded with the story of the Samaritan, or as the Living Bible says, the despised Samaritan. He wanted to point out that the neighbor could be anyone who had compassion for the one who had fallen among thieves. Yet we could also look at this situation the other way and ask, "Who is the man in the ditch?"

Here in Rhea County we have our own bigot in residence, I call her "Ms. June." She doesn't think too highly of blacks, gays, Jews, Catholics or foreigners (I'm OK so far) or people who don't take the Bible literally (oops, she got me on that one.) When Gore chose his running mate in 2000, the sign in front of her little store read, "GORE CHOOSES ANTI-CHRIST." Apparently it slipped her mind that Jesus was Jewish.

So I'm driving down Toestring Valley Road one evening after dark and I see an old car by the side of the road and a man standing there, arms akimbo, looking down at a flat tire. Who was this man standing there by the ditch? Would it matter to me (or to you) if I saw he were black or knew he was gay, Catholic or Jewish. What if he were a Mexican here picking tomatoes?

He doesn't have a spare, it turns out, so we remove the tire and head to town where we get the flat fixed and I return him to his car afterward. He offers me a few dollars, but I told him no need since I was heading to town and back anyway. I ask if he has children waiting for him at home and he tells me three, so I remind him he's late, that they will have been worried, so I ask him to give them each an extra long hug when he gets there and that will be thanks enough for my efforts.

So who was this man standing there by the ditch? Why it was Jesus, of course. Remember the part about "the least of these, my brethren?" Some day when I meet Him face to face, He'll smile and say, "Oh, you were the fellow who stopped and helped me that night when I had the flat tire. Please stand over here on my right with the rest of the people who were good neighbors to others."

So we see, understanding what the Bible teaches is really quite simple:

STEP 1: Love God without reservation.
STEP 2: Love our neighbors as Jesus taught us.
STEP 3: Repeat over and over.

One doesn't have to remember every verse, jot or tittle. Living God's word is a matter of applying these principles as each new situation arises. So when Ms. June and others make nasty misstatements about the gays and lesbians here in Rhea County, I respond with letters to the editor speaking truth to these prejudices. That's what the Bible tells me being a good neighbor is all about.

5 Comments:

At 4/11/2006 12:01 PM, Blogger GaryDavisonJr. said...

How dare God tell us who or what we are suppose to do sexually (or otherwise for that matter)... right--? That seems to be the most prevalent problem for mankind.


The author of the article is talking about Romans 1:26-28. Anyway here is the text from the article, again I hope it is read and I hope it helps.

" What in the text allows us to distinguish between constitutional homosexuals and others? Only one word: "natural." A close look at this word and what it modifies, though, leads to the most devastating critique of all.

Paul was not unclear about what he meant by "natural." Homosexuals do not abandon natural desires; they abandon natural functions: "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another..." (1:26-27)

The Greek word kreesis, translated "function" in this text, is used only these two times in the New Testament, but is found frequently in other literature of the time. According to the standard Greek language reference A Greek/English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,[4] the word means "use, relations, function, especially of sexual intercourse."

Paul is not talking about natural desires here, but natural functions. He is not talking about what one wants sexually, but how one is built to operate sexually. The body is built to function in a specific way. Men were not built to function sexually with men, but with women.

This conclusion becomes unmistakable when one notes what men abandon in verse 27, according to Paul. The modern argument depends on the text teaching that men abandoned their own natural desire for woman and burned toward one another. Men whose natural desire was for other men would then be exempted from Paul's condemnation. Paul says nothing of the kind, though.

Paul says men forsake not their own natural desire (their constitutional make-up), but rather the "natural function of the woman.." They abandoned the female, who was built by God to be man's sexual compliment.

The error has nothing to do with anything in the male's own constitution that he's denying. It is in the rejection of the proper sexual companion God has made for him--a woman: "The men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts...." (v. 27)

Natural desires go with natural functions. The passion that exchanges the natural function of sex between a man and a woman for the unnatural function of sex between a man and a man is what Paul calls a degrading passion.

Jesus clarified the natural, normal relationship: "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh [sexual intercourse].'?" (Matthew 19:4-5)

Homosexual desire is unnatural because it causes a man to abandon the natural sexual compliment God has ordained for him: a woman. That was Paul's view. If it was Paul's view recorded in the inspired text, then it is God's view. And if it is God's view, it should be ours if we call ourselves Christian."

[4]Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich (University of Chicago Press)

 
At 4/11/2006 12:02 PM, Blogger GaryDavisonJr. said...

I will leave with this comment, it is from this article:

Courage is far too rare in many Christian circles. This explains the surrender of so many denominations, seminaries, and churches to the homosexual agenda. But no surrender on this issue would have been possible, if the authority of Scripture had not already been undermined.

And yet, even as courage is required, the times call for another Christian virtue as well--compassion. The tragic fact is that every congregation is almost certain to include persons struggling with homosexual desire or even involved in homosexual acts. Outside the walls of the church, homosexuals are waiting to see if the Christian church has anything more to say, after we declare that homosexuality is a sin.

Liberal churches have redefined compassion to mean that the church changes its message to meet modern demands. They argue that to tell a homosexual he is a sinner is uncompassionate and intolerant. This is like arguing that a physician is intolerant because he tells a patient she has cancer. But, in the culture of political correctness, this argument holds a powerful attraction.

Biblical Christians know that compassion requires telling the truthand refusing to call sin something sinless. To hide or deny the sinfulness of sin is to lie, and there is no compassion in such a deadly deception. True compassion demands speaking the truth in love--and there is the problem. Far too often, our courage is more evident than our compassion.

In far too many cases, the options seem reduced to these--liberal churches preaching love without truth, and conservative churches preaching truth without love. Evangelical Christians must ask ourselves some very hard questions, but the hardest may be this: Why is it that we have been so ineffective in reaching persons trapped in this particular pattern of sin? The Gospel is for sinners--and for homosexual sinners just as much as for heterosexual sinners. As Paul explained to the Corinthian church, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" [1 Corinthians 5:11].

I believe that we are failing the test of compassion. If the first requirement of compassion is that we tell the truth, the second requirement must surely be that we reach out to homosexuals with the Gospel. This means that we must develop caring ministries to make that concern concrete, and learn how to help homosexuals escape the powerful bonds of that sin--even as we help others to escape their own bonds by grace.

If we are really a Gospel people; if we really love homosexuals as other sinners; then we must reach out to them with a sincerity that makes that love tangible. We have not even approached that requirement until we are ready to say to homosexuals, "We want you to know the fullness of God's plan for you, to know the forgiveness of sins and the mercy of God, to receive the salvation that comes by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to know the healing God works in sinners saved by grace, and to join us as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, living out our obedience and growing in grace together."

Such were some of you . . . The church is not a place where sinners are welcomed to remain in their sin. To the contrary, it is the Body of Christ, made up of sinners transformed by grace. Not one of us deserves to be accepted within the beloved. It is all of grace, and each one of us has come out of sin. We sin if we call homosexuality something other than sin. We also sin if we act as if this sin cannot be forgiven.

We cannot settle for truth without love nor love without truth. The Gospel settles the issue once and for all. This great moral crisis is a Gospel crisis. The genuine Body of Christ will reveal itself by courageous compassion, and compassionate courage. We will see this realized only when men and women freed by God's grace from bondage to homosexuality feel free to stand up in our churches and declare their testimony--and when we are ready to welcome them as fellow disciples. Millions of hurting people are waiting to see if we mean what we preach.

 
At 4/11/2006 1:49 PM, Anonymous CPT_Doom said...

Mr. Davis - I actually appreciate what you are saying, but you are not taking your understanding and compassion far enough. I was taught, in the Roman Catholic faith, that there must also be humility in being a Christian, and that must include the humility to understand we may be wrong about our religious beliefs.

You state that the "liberal churches" have redefined their theology rather than preach the "truth." Isn't it possible they have found the truth? Isn't it possible that, after years of being confronted with the reality of gay and lesbian lives; after getting to know happy, healthy and whole gay and lesbian people; after seeing the families that gay and lesbian people are creating, these churches realized their theology, at least on gay and lesbian people, was wrong?

You do not have to agree with the theology to understand it is still a valid moral basis for its adherents to live by. I, for instance, reject the evangelical form of "Christianity" because I believe it is a perversion of the teachings of a rabbi named Jesus of Nazareth, who, whether he was divine or not, had a lot of good ideas for how the vast variety of humanity can live in harmony. IMHO, too much of modern "Christianity" is a worship of the man/God Christ rather than the teachings of Jesus (you yourself quote Paul, not Jesus, in your post, and I am not prepared to believe Paul was infallible).

Yet I also know evangelicals in my own life (relatives), who have built good and decent and productive lives based on this theology. I can respect their achievements, and their First Amendment rights to live by their beliefs, even if I reject those beliefs for my own life.

For the evangelical church to truly demonstrate compassion, it must do more than simply make room for those who want to live by its moral teachings with regard to sexuality. Certainly those gay and lesbian people who, for religious reasons, choose to remain celibate should be welcome in any conservative church, but what about those of us who reject those teachings? The evangelical church, primarily in its leadership, is far too willing to demonize all of us as threats to our civilization and society, rejecting all the good and productive gay and lesbian people out there.

The evangelical church must also have compassion, and respect, for those who believe same-sex relationships are not inherently immoral, and judge us not by stereotypes but by our actual lives. The church must be humble enough to say "I may be wrong, but that is for God to decide," which would actually be a return to its roots - the belief that anyone can have a relationship with God.

Until we can all agree to respect the basic humanity, and rights, of even those with whom we completely disagree, we will never reach the kind of society that Jesus of Nazareth envisioned.

 
At 4/11/2006 3:21 PM, Blogger Bill Ware said...

CPT_Doom,

Thanks for your comment. As to this:

You state that the "liberal churches" have redefined their theology rather than preach the "truth." Isn't it possible they have found the truth? Isn't it possible that, after years of being confronted with the reality of gay and lesbian lives; after getting to know happy, healthy and whole gay and lesbian people; after seeing the families that gay and lesbian people are creating, these churches realized their theology, at least on gay and lesbian people, was wrong?

I would have to say, "In God, all things are possible."

 
At 4/18/2006 5:54 PM, Blogger DuWayne Brayton said...

I yet again stopped by the "thread" as it were. in answer to the attitude there and more directly, Mr. Davison, How dare you suppose to speak for God? How dare you suppose to supplant God as the judge of the heart? I would not dare to say that something is a sin, that is between a person and God. I encourage people to find Jesus, as they are, he accepts them like that. Then to develope that relationship, learn to listen to the Holy Spirit and accept the changes in their lives that the Holy Spirit puts upon their heart. God has his own timing, when he decides one needs to make this change or that in their lives he lets them know. When people rant and rave about the sin people are living in and rant about their direct descent into hell they are pushing them away from the love of Christ. Why don't you consider that we should draw people to Christ as they are and trust God to touch their lives and bring them into compliance with his law?

 

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