And so the new year begins!

Wow, it’s already almost three weeks into 2014!

Like I’d mentioned some time ago, for a few hours every Friday, I spend time at church, volunteering in the little bit that I can right now: I put together and print the bulletins for our weekend services. It’s not exciting work, and sometimes I can feel a bit “shut in” away from the liveliness of the church on Fridays, but I try to do what I can.

During some down time, I stumbled onto another blog post about “same-sex attraction” and to my surprise it was by a staff member at Desiring God. Perhaps it’s a shift in the right direction, perhaps it’s an omen of things to come, but being a gay Christian embracing the traditional sexual ethic is slowly becoming “post-evangelically mainstream” if I may try to coin a phrase.

While it is somewhat refreshing in some respects, I also flet discouraged in a way as well. For a topic like homosexuality, whether one is discussing the orientation or the act, people are always going to be polarized. I’m concerned about a double standard that still seems to lurk in the shadows here.

One thread that I keep seeing, that was again brought to the fore, was that if you “struggle with SSA” then you probably have a problem with idolatry. I don’t really dismiss the idea completely – the unredeemed human heart is an idol factory, constantly trying to craft ways to dethrone the True God in some way or another.

What I do take issue with, or find myself concerned about, however, are the broad stroked that some are wont to take regarding human relationships and how idolatrous they have the potential to be.

Everyone wants to be loved, and everyone want to have that kind of mutual and exclusive love that makes one’s heart race. When viewed in the context of heterosexual couple, Christians are often not will praise the loving affections as God’s gift.

Unless there’s some abuse, codependency or overt spiritual deficiency going on. Then the charge of idolatry makes its way to the front.

However, it seems that if you’re a guy and there’s a guy whose companionship you love, admire and respect, even if physical affections never come into view, then it’s “obviously” a heart issue that needs to be rooted out and given over to Christ – like pride or jealousy.

I’m not sure if I’m more frustrated with this stance or the constant conflating of attraction with lust.

I understand that Jesus is all we truly need, the staple of our lives and the one from whom we ought to draw on for joy and fulfillment in life. But the discussion seems to go back to “If you’re gay, then you need to have Jesus instead of any human companionship.” Or worse yet, the implication that I don’t love Christ enought or don’t have enough faith.

What I don’t understand though is why isn’t that the “go-to” position for everyone generally? Why isn’t the church seriously telling young men and women – not just those who are gay – that all they need is Christ for companionship and love?

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Mid-Holiday update

I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m still alive, still fighting the good fight of trusting Christ and putting sin to death. I’ve “become interested” in true holiness again and have been trying to draw closer to God, despite my own laziness and internal objections.

I’ve also reconnected with some past friends of mine. It really just makes me want to sit and ponder just how much of a gift it is from God that I still believe and trust Him. It blows me away.

There’s been a big project I’ve been working on as well. Like, really really big and life altering in the best and possibly worst ways possible… Maybe even to the point of outing myself and my perspectives to the world at large.

You can probably expect another dearth of posts until the new year begins. If the holiday season wasn’t already hectic enough, I always slow down emotionally during this time of year. Sometimes it’s full depression, other times it’s a flight of melancholic fancy that occupies my times, thoughts and heart until the sun comes back.

So if you could all pray for me, just as I pray for you, my readers, I think we’ll be in pretty good spot.

The internet is tubes… of blessing

If it’s one thing that really demonstrates how much of a “humanist” Christian I am, it’s my fascination with technological and scientific progress.

Only the Gospel strikes me as more mysterious and awe inspiring as the realization that ultimately, the internet is the result of human beings manipulating invisible wave-functions to store and retrieve information. Do you know how a cell phone works? Or even just the simple application of physics that goes into an ordinary chair? The fact that we are immersed in an entirely physical but invisible world just blows my mind! (My bachelors degree, which is frustratingly still on hiatus, is in physics.)

The fact that God’s Image Bearers are even able to exercise such dominion and (natural) wisdom over the Creation and, for most, without the blessing of redemption, strikes me as another one of God’s subtle blessings.

But why am I exulting in technology and the internet right now? Continue reading The internet is tubes… of blessing

National Coming Out Day 2013

So it seems that today has the distinction of being National Coming Out Day. Perhaps it stems from me being a “bad homosexual” but these sorts of days of celebration or remembrance really don’t mean much to me. Normally the day passes for me without much of a fanfare, but I decided to check out facebook earlier and saw to some admixed dismay that someone I consider an ex was offering his support – if that support had not included a rousing (though implied) cheer to cast off the burdens of “traditional” Christian faith, I’d have been a lot happier to be reminded about today. I really miss Martin and the man of God he once was, especially given that we were wanting to walk with God together.

But I digress.

Yes, that momentous time in one’s life when courage reaches its peak and trust is evaluated as strong enough to weather what could veritably be startling and relationship ending news is a big deal. But what I don’t understand is why the vocal gay community seems to take something that is as close to “sacred” as a non-religious crowd will really ever consider and run with it all over the philosophical and ideological worlds into places it never was supposed to go.

I mean, even when one is running the Christian race without any encumbrances it is still hard work to keep the pace. But then being gay has its own sort of weights that aren’t easily removed. I want to be in a place where I feel safe, but the gay community (that is, the overt, vocal community that seems to be entirely composed of activists, models and free-thinkers), for all it’s posturing, never really was a safe place for a me, a Christian who wanted to live a holy life before God. I’ll never understand why all the various Pride gatherings I’ve had the “pleasure” of witnessing always gave the impression that the orgy would be starting soon. I mean seriously. What does wearing spandex and grinding next to some stranger,  or making out with shameless abandon in public have to do with garnering acceptance or securing equal rights?

If you’re coming out of the closet today, good for you! Be wise and remember to have thick skin. Do all you must, but do it all for the glory of Christ.

Fear

My main spiritual problem right now is that I don’t believe that Jesus is good.

Yes, I know he’s good, and I know that everything He does and allows in our lives is out of His loving care and passion to see His people happy in His holiness.

But for me, somewhere along the line, I lost that sense of God’s being there for me, that his goodness extends even to my circumstances.

As a result I’ve become afraid of almost everything to some regard, unable to take real risks (since that would involve confidence and trust and faith). In addition, I’ve developed green eyes of jealousy, since there’s nothing more delicious to a coveting heart than comparing one situation with another and complaining about the contrast.

Continue reading Fear

Wandering Lambs, of sorts…

I was reminded about how different I am from my other friends the other day.

While he strongly denies that he believes that he has to work for to maintain his salvation, my friend Rob has seriously brought up the concern of future “Falls” along the line of what the devil experienced. Simply put, that sometime in the future Eternal state, what would prevent any creature – glorified human or angel – from staging another rebellion against the Creator and bringing sin into the world if it could happen to the being who became Satan?

I quickly had to remind him of the promise of Revelation 21.4 and other places that point to a complete removal of sin from the immediate created existence.

“But that would mean we’d all be puppets!”

Needless to say, instead of completely disregarding the Arminian viewpoint I can say that Rob has a gross misunderstanding of what ought to be his perspectives on free will, sin and salvation. I’m a person who feels that if someone does not have a grasp on their own worldview, it’s not fair and not proper to try to convince them otherwise.

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, it got me thinking about how one’s theology develops after they become keenly aware of their struggle with SSA or full blown homosexuality.

Rob dove headfirst into his Pentecostal, Charismatic faith. Speaking in tongues, “second-tier” Christianity, words of faith… all the stuff that makes me uneasy. But his “second deposit” of grace has only seemed to make him graceless or a victim depending on the situation. Regardless, I do see that he loves Jesus and wants to do everything he can for Him. So even with our differences in theological viewpoint, and even though he can be a rather blatant butthead, I do consider him a friend still.

Glen, another friend of mine, became part of the Holiness Movement through the books of Bryan Davis, shortly after “discovering himself.” In case you don’t know, the HM is a distinctly American offshoot of the Christian faith, having its start in the early days of Pentecostalism. From what Glen has told me (read: argued about) the basic idea is that once a person becomes a Christian, they are completely unable to sin, at all. From what I’ve seen, though, it involves adopting a really weak definition of “sin.” I consider the HM to be “spiritual” version of the Prosperity Gospel that’s so popular now, where struggle and pain are sign that one is “doing it wrong,” where there isn’t any room for mistakes, and all one needs is more faith.

But Glen is happy not to be dealing with SSA any longer, though I’ve been praying about other sins that I can see that he cannot.

Another friend married someone who wasn’t a Christian in a half-hearted attempted to get away from feeling gay. Someone else went the completely other direction and had an affair.

And this doesn’t even begin to examine those friends of mine who’ve left the faith entirely or deigned to adopt a view that gives them whatever spirituality they want with the relationships they want. (Maybe I’ll get into that later.)

I’ve found a home in the Reformed camp after years of mulling about the edges without realizing it. Finding comfort in a God who’s in control even when the events of the world and of people would apparently indicate otherwise has been my anchor in the turmoil of life. But lest I turn this into a “see how awesome being Reformed is” post, I humbly admit I  struggle with pride of all sorts (pun not intended). Though clearly present my entire life, the way Calvinist theology tends to manifest as head-knowledge before heart-emotions has only made it clearer to myself how much more I have to work with the Lord about this Pride.

…in which I talk about my thoughts on marriage

When it comes to gay marriage, I’m somewhat reluctant to say I’m progressive(ly conservative). Or even that I’m conservative(ly progressive).

To put it simply, I’d support civil “gay marriage” but couldn’t support religious “gay marriage.” It may seem like a cop out or double speak, but it’s not. Here’s a basic rundown of where I stand.

A few years ago, I woke to the reality that what the government calls “marriage” is a different monster than what God calls marriage. Since (apart from the Creation mandate and the general call to salvation and repentance) only God’s people are “obligated” to follow God’s intention for God’s people. In other words, the traditional Christian ethic for marriage only applies to followers of Christ (or Old Testament believers when applicable).

Now, come on, you remember high school, right? There was only that one couple who claimed that they didn’t need a piece of paper to tell them that they were married (or in love, or husband and wife, etc) before God or whatever higher power they believed in.  I realized they were right in a sense.

At least from the Christian perspective (one that is mimicked in various ways through means of God’s Common Grace in almost every culture in the world), marriage is promise covenant of fidelity and commitment – whether or not love is involved – between a man and a woman that is witnessed by God, by their respective families and by the community at large. The witnesses are there to remind the couple that their of their vows are of the uttermost importance. And should the marriage come to an end they have to face the shame of breaking their word.  In many ways this is a picture of the sort of relationship that Christians enter into with Jesus (Ephesian 5).

In this way, a couple could have a ceremony and festivities and be witnessed by God, family and friends as exchanging vows, without ever having to bring the civil authorities into it.

What we call marriage today, then, is a merging of two distinct entities. The religious “marriage” which I just described, and the “civil union” or “domestic partnership” which amounts to a governmental and private means of bookkeeping. If the government sees you as “married” (in a civil union, whereby you’ve pledged to go through life together – sharing expenses, responsibilities, etc) you get certain privileges and perks, typically reflected in taxes and through whatever social policies exist (like a hospital counting a spouse as family) or being able to make decisions in lieu of your partner’s absence.

One way that clearly demonstrates the distinction is the fact that Common Law marriage hasn’t yet disappeared from the Western world. Essentially live together with your partner for long enough, acting and encountering life as if you were “legally” married, and the civil authority puts you on their books as being married as such. No “pesky” clergyman needed! (Common Law marriage is slowly going away from the US, however. Though I’m somewhat shocked that the “smaller government” spokespeople are willing to allow its death as an acceptable casualty.).

Another way that comes to mind is that a couple needn’t even have to have a religious minister sign the marriage license paperwork. Eloping is common enough to need a word to describe it.

So all this being the case where does that leave us?  Religious faiths and worldviews have the right (at least in the US) to practice their way of life and morality with huges amounts of freedom.  If one’s sincerely held belief that exercising the sexual priveleges of marriage while not fulfilling whatever held requirements is morally wrong, then it’s just as wrong to force someone to act against that. Christians have a long-standing view and hermenuetic that limits Marriage to one man one woman before God, family and community that has only come into question because people have stopped taking the time and effort to dig and discover where those boundary markers come from. (It’s so much easier just to claim that it’s a history-wide case of “the Man” keeping a thumb on gay individuals.)

However, when it comes to the sphere of civil life, “marriage” (here, really domestic unions) is a bookkeeping matter and a measure of convenience and courtesy extended to citizens. If one is choosing to legally bind oneself to another, I don’t think the government or anyone should stand in their way. I mean we step back and let corporations and non-profits do it all the time. And it’s legally possible to do so in almost any situation.

All that being said, I hope it’s a bit clearer why I find the gay marriage issue somewhat unfortunate. It’s clear to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear, that we’ve reached a point where the GLBT activists are pushing for cultural acceptance not just, what really amounts to, tax relief. How is this? Well, it’s pretty much always been possible to form a legal entity that contracts two (or more) individuals together in “marriage-like” ways.

If someone wants to go to a courthouse and become domestically partnered, I wouldn’t stop them. There are clear benefits (financial and otherwise) to doing so, and most everyone should have the privilege.

But if someone wants to go to a church and demand that the church explicitly change their views on what its marriage roles, requirements and responsibilities are just to fulfill some personal emotional need, then that’s a different situation – a situation more akin to a toddler throwing a tantrum because he can’t get his way and won’t accept what his parents are telling him. (Now if a church does happily agree to marry you, then go there instead. Don’t try to bulldoze your way through.)

Of course, I’d expect there to be some friction and frustration. The Church, as the body of Christ, has always lived under different obligations, duties and privileges from where the World generally operates.  One of the reasons why God allowed life on earth to progress to this point is so that we can better learn to love and understand each other, and better learn how to call others to new life in Jesus.