God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. Romans 5:20 NLT
A story of hypocrisy confronted with overwhelming love and grace…deeply moving.
Amazing grace How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me I once was lost, but now I’m found Was blind, but now I see ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear And grace my fears relieved How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed My chains are gone I’ve been set free My God, my Savior has ransomed me And like a flood His mercy rains Unending love, Amazing grace
The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow The sun forbear to shine But God, Who called me here below Will be forever mine Will be forever mine You are forever mine
Thanks my friend for your understanding and encouragement. As as an individual who was raised in Catholic orthodoxy and later studied in a conservative Protestant college and seminary, I too am wrestling with the default orthodox and/or Evangelical theological position that the underlying philosophy and practice of the LGBQT community is erroneous (hamartia derived from the Greek ἁμαρτία, from ἁμαρτάνειν hamartánein, which means “to miss the mark” or “to err”) versus tolerance, inclusivity and acceptance of the aforementioned community in the Church.
As a follower of Christ, I am still learning to be tolerant, inclusive, accepting and loving of people from all walks of life, including my friends and associates in the LGBTQ community. At the same time, I endeavour to develop a deeper theological understanding of what Church history and the Bible has to say comprehensively on the aforementioned subject area. This is no easy or simple task to approach without an open heart and mind, continually trusting for guidance under the direction of the Holy Spirit. I have an innate desire to be a on-going learner or seeker of truth, a Berean, and not merely jump on the band wagon of the accepted norms or the status quo of the institutionalized Church or contemporary society for that matter.
In my life experience, I have come to recognize that there is considerable tension and animosity between the aforementioned orthodoxy and the LGBTQ community. Both sides seem to be “at war” with each other. This troubles me deeply.
As a follower of Christ, I have suffered and endured many things, often for no other reason than identifying with Jesus. As one who has been called to be a peacemaker, I have been deeply hurt and offended by individuals representative of both groups. My only recourse is to forgive, yet only time can ease the sting of misguided animosity perpetrated by less-than-perfect people. As humans, we really are fragile creatures, prone to missing the mark that God intends for our lives.
You are quite right, my friend. We should not require nor desire a Christian culture to dominate society in order to moralistically strong-arm people into certain behaviour. People are free to make their own decisions in this life, for better or worse. Isn’t that what the theological construct of being a free moral agent (free will) is all about?
It is my understanding that our witness to Christ and His influence comes precisely from NOT coercing and enforcing as the world does (regardless of the end behaviour we seek to bring about ) but by demonstrating genuine love and vulnerability to all.
We are not at liberty to be repulsed by contemporary culture. Instead we are to engage with and transform culture – to love and serve all people by seeing everyone as God actually sees them – created in His moral image.
In a previous post I touched on the subject of the human heart or soul as being the source of our actions, whether for good or evil. I also mentioned the theological concept that all of humanity has been separated from God through sin, i.e. we have all missed the mark of God’s highest standards for our lives, as individuals and as nations. Finally, I referred to the historical life and death of Jesus Christ as God’s way of reconciling Himself to all of humanity.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV
Exactly one year ago, I was confronted by a rather likeable young man (a Pastor) concerning some of my posts on FaceBook about specific individuals and their relatively novel theological positions on traditional Christian teaching or doctrine concerning the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, and the positive role of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel in both the past and the future.
We had a long and somewhat stimulating conversation concerning our very different points of view on Eschatology (final events of human history). I think part of this stimulation simply was the result of drinking too much coffee! Nevertheless, we came away from the conversation with an agreement to disagree with each other’s point(s) of view, yet agreed to demonstrate tolerance and acceptance for one another regardless of our somewhat polarized positions, different perspectives, and life experiences.
Now, I wish I could end this story by saying everything was just peachy, however, it was not. Many young people can reason and formulate an opinion very quickly. Sometimes, for no other reason than having less life experience to incorporate before making an opinion. As a middle-aged adult, sometimes one has to ponder and think about things a little longer before we can formulate an opinion and/or come to some sort of conclusion.
The gist of this story is that I had felt, somehow, I had conceded and/or given up my constitutional right to freely adhere to my own beliefs, and practice of my Christian Faith without interference or coercion from another group and/or individual’s idea(s) of what I should believe, who I can or cannot disagree with on matters of theology, and whether or not I will be accepted into this particular group if I do not “submit” to their particular authority(s).
Been there, done that. I have experienced for many years what it is like to be truly free to worship God, as I understand Him, without some organized group or individual attempting to control or dominate my personal life with their particular ideas of God, the Bible, and the inevitable system of rules and regulations so prevalent to religious groups.
And yet, I still felt somewhat insecure in my position. Even now, I marvel at the aforementioned statement. After all, I was a trained Pastor with an undergraduate degree in Biblical Studies, and a graduate education in ministry, with a life experience that literally dwarfed that of this young man. Yet, the need for acceptance was dominating my common sense and experience.
It took my loving companion of 35 years, my wife, to remind me that I was indeed free to choose to follow my own conscience without interference. And I am continually grateful for her kind and insightful advice.
“Aim at Heaven and you get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.” — C.S. Lewis
The sound of the band next door filled the room. The small bar served cocktails named after different literary figures and the usual party drinks. All of Sydney’s literati, fine arts students, and writers were there. I remembered some of the faces from political meetings on campus. One of them was an artist I had dated who obligingly avoided eye contact. Everyone’s eccentric outfits blended with the music and people started dancing. This was Oxford Street, the central strip of the Sydney gay scene and I was at one of the alternative clubs. I used to carry a small journal with me for occasions like these. I would write a philosophical question in the journal and then pass it around to everyone to collect answers. I had my Charlie Chaplin pen…
This post is dedicated to the Caregiver – life would be cruel without you.
In another post, I began my journey of writing about the most difficult experience I have gone through in my life. The crisis was two years long and we, as a family, waited over ten years for my wife to be finally pronounced as “healed” by the numerous medical doctors involved.
I wanted to write openly about how I felt as a long-term caregiver to my spouse, as she lay there dying in the hospital. The stress that my three girls and myself went through was unbearable and almost unspeakable, I could only but imagine what my beautiful wife was going through.
After discussing some of the details of my intended post with my beloved sidekick, I agreed with her that I would respect her privacy and “leave things in the past where they lay“. That alone was a difficult agreement for me to make. But, because I love her deeply, I will respect her wishes.
I can say this though, sometimes the trials and tribulations that we go through, especially if they are chronic and long term in nature, can take a big chunk out of our hearts and lives. We are never the same afterwards. Granted, one discovers who their true friends and family members really are. We become intimately acquainted with suffering and learn the important elements of patience, persistence, long-suffering, hope, faith, and so forth. We draw close to God, and He draws close to us in a very real and tangible way.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. James 4:8a NLT
Yet, our heart still cries out in agonizing pain over the tragedy we are experiencing. We need someone to pour our heart out to, but nobody is really listening or even appears to care. We need “God with skin on“. A healing balm of tender human companionship and a listening ear. Tears continue to well up as I write this…
As a male in North American society, it is often implicitly expected, at least culturally, that we be strong and silent when we face the aforementioned. Taking care of business, trying to be emotionally detached or compartmentalized until the necessary job is finished. When the crisis extends over a multiple year period, we simply get worn out.
A part of us is gone now, perhaps never to return.
It is with this in mind that I want to extend my friendship and a listening ear to all those who have literally carried the weight of being a caregiver over the long-term. I deeply respect your commitment and your heart felt love to care for someone you cherish.
If I can be of any help to you, through my many life experiences, both good and not-so-good, please feel free to contact me. You are an intelligent person – you will figure out how to do that.