How Shall We Then Live?

How Then Shall We Live?
It is time to rethink what we believe and review our rationale. Do you know what and why you believe.
(Consolidated comments from previous blogs from the summer of 2013 on the topic of the Christian response to Sexual Confusion)

A poignant thought in today’s malaise is that we are trained to be relativists but are expected to act ethical. Our culture condemns those that assign any moral boundaries or state absolutes while it derides the established boundaries and decries the lack of ethics that results in the chaos in the world.
The Apostle Paul pointed this reality out to the Roman church by stating that when outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong.
The reality is that God made humanity in His image and it is the reflection of that image that expresses the moral nature of God, defining the “Absolutes” of His judgment. The only true relative issue is our relationship to the Living God and our reflection of His moral nature. This will result in an absolute outcome!

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #1—Sexual Confusion
In the next few posts I want to address the raucous media blitzes promoting same sex marriage.
I believe that we need to think biblically and respond with great grace into this confusing moral issue.
Pat answers, religious platitudes, and harsh judgments are not helpful.
There are loud and seemingly incessant pronouncements from all forms of media sources, both secular and Christian, stating the inevitability of the current tide for same-sex marriage. Even Christian leaders are stating that the “ship has sailed” and that the biblical design and instruction has been relegated to the dustbins of history. This leads to a discounting bias that “we” are on the wrong side of history, we are considered with those along the lines of bigots of past generations.
So, the intent of these comments are to confront this issue with clear biblical thinking, and graceful pro-action, not just reactions, or worse, silence. The definition of marriage does matter! Silence and retreat has allowed distortion and exaggeration to dominate the conversation. Our silence, or worse, our unloving and even hateful responses, has allowed same-sex advocates to appear to be ruling the public arena. We are not to ‘take a side of history’ but to make history. Our actions, in love, can and will touch the hearts of the confused and help bring life and clarity.

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #2—Why does the Definition of Marriage Matter?
Marriage is at the core of how we understand sexuality, human nature and the ordering of society. This is how we build culture and civilization. So, this is a matter of loving God and loving our neighbor, our civilization. This is us living according to God’s will that reflects His nature.
Supreme Court Judge Roberts stated, “When the institution of marriage developed historically, people didn’t get around and say, “Let’s have this institution, but let’s keep out homosexuals.” Roberts said, “The institution developed to serve purposes that, by their nature, didn’t include homosexual couples.”
A well stated Christian clarification we need to understand is that “Homo-sexual desire is contrary to the design of God for human sexuality. In that sense, it is rightly thought of as a fallen condition and, in general terms, a consequence of sin and brokenness.” Remember the Apostle Paul’s words in the letter to the Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #3—The Bible and Marriage
Biblical marriage was introduced and woven into the fabric of the biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation. In Genesis 1 we see God’s intention and design in the created order of humanity. This design is celebrated as a gift of companionship that leads to life in the gifts of children in Genesis 2. Jesus confirmed this design in His response to the religious leaders in Matthew 19. The Apostle Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, revealed a picture of the church with this imagery of the “Bride of Christ.” In the conclusion of the age the illustration of the final scene is that of the “Marriage supper of the Lamb” and the bride representing God’s people.
The church needs to differentiate between the teachings of Scripture and the decisions of the courts. The courts of the world will, at times, support the biblical ethic and at other times oppose it. So, the discussion of the courts that lead to the creation of new definitions for old words is NOT the issue. The purview of the Federal government is not in spiritual matters even though their decisions affect the spiritual environment of the nation. Their domain should be limited to the application of the constitution and the legitimacy of legislation passed.
When judges become legislatures we lose the balance of power. When Christians become dependent on the worlds courts to gain legitimacy and define our ethics, we have lost our way.

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #4—Sexual Revolution
G.K. Chesterton has said “There are many ways to fall down; there is only one way to stand up straight.”
The sexual revolution of the past 50 years has turned Judeo/Christian ethical culture and Biblical morality on its head. That which has historically been considered unnatural and unhealthy is now being normalized in today’s radical culture. The sexual preferences of a few are being imposed as normative on our guilt ridden entitlement systems and the propagandized public education of our children. Our demoralizing political systems are reinforced by the media and an ungodly, relativistic, and educratic bureaucracy. Our self-absorbed hedonism has born a harvest of destruction.
The opposition to Scriptural instruction has been formed into an anti-intellectual rant of presumed motives and hypocritical impositions. Those who follow Scriptural wisdom are deemed backward and ignorant. The foundations of our great nation and the blessings that flow from those ancient stones and the Godly systems established upon them are now being thrown down in derision. Be aware! Stay awake!
The Apostle Paul wrote the church in Philippi to awaken them to such a threat. In Philippians 3:17-21 he writes; “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform four lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #5–Unrestrained
Genesis 1:27; 2:24 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
Today our society is sexually overactive—hyper-stimulated as a result of the past generation’s so-called sexual revolutions and its exploitation by the media for profit. That which was once deemed holy, privately restrained in the marriage bed, has now become a wide open arena for self-satisfaction and abuse.
The carnal man is like an 800 pound gorilla that demands its way. The weak willed restraint of today’s encouraged self-gratification is like a miniature cartoon character trying to stand up to the monsters desires. But sex is not a tool for self-gratification! When pursued for this purpose it is like a drug that demands more and more. God’s design for the sexual relationship between a husband and wife is an expression of intimacy, of physical and spiritual oneness, of self-giving love required in a lifelong marital relationship.
The abused, selfish, sexual activities of the modern era are a perversion of God’s original design. This has resulted in a driving dissatisfaction that is expressed and pursued in many various perversions of the original. Like a drug that ravages the body and mind, never satisfied, so the self-serving sexual gratification also devalues and destroys the mind and the body.
God’s wonderful promise is grace for those desiring help to control the beast. If you will pursue His will He will help you, but if you do not He will allow you to go your way as defined by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:24 “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.”

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #6—Design and Purpose
Genesis 1:27; 2:24 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
The Genesis of humanity reveals God’s intention in design and purpose. Humanity was designed and created for God’s pleasure, for God’s purpose. One of the key attributes in this creation is the free moral will of each individual that allows them to willfully fulfill their design or to reject it. The sad human story is the reality of this rejection. When humanity demanded its own way, rejecting God’s will, it resulted in “The Fall.” This is a separation from the original intent. This also had amplified consequences. The fallen creature produced a fallen creature.
God, in His great mercy was not surprised at this poor choice nor the consequences that followed. He had already provided for the need of redemption while allowing the free will of humanity to continue. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Now, in the perversion of language and truth of today’s willfulness we need to be wise as Jesus said in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” When the willfulness of man’s fallen nature, reflected in acts contrary to God’s moral nature is construed as a natural and right, we must be alert. The only natural reality is in the sense that a cancer cell will produce another cancer cell. With this in mind, the primary assertion of the homosexual agenda is exposed which I will address in the next post on this subject, “Are homosexuals born that way?”, or more relevant to the Christian; “Did God make them that way”?

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #7—The Christian Statement
This week the media is buzzing with a confused hope. Since the general media bias supports the homosexual agenda they have latched onto the idea that the largest Christian denomination, the Catholic Church, has changed its position on homosexuality. They have placed words in the pope’s mouth with a hope for a more radical affirmation. They hope that this comment by Pope Francis was a softening of the church’s stance on gays. Though last Monday mornings comment sent ripples around the world, Catholics and gay rights advocates are still struggling to interpret the pontiff’s statement. However, the pope’s comment does not infer any shift in Catholic policy on the topic.
Here are his comments; “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society.”
Because of previous statements from Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who signed a document in 2005 saying homosexuals should not be priests, they assumed that this is now reversed. Pope Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. He did not say that they should continue in their sin!
This is an important statement for us to acknowledge. Regardless of our Christian denomination we are all placed in the same category by the culture and especially the media.
This is a blatant Christian statement! We love the sinner but not the sin. “For God so loved the world,” all sinners, “He gave His only begotten Son.” We are not to judge and exclude but to love and to forgive. The comment could have gone on to include adulterers, child-molesters, thieves, liars, gossips, etc. God loves us so much that He sent His Son and He accepts us as we are. But He loves us so much that He won’t leave us that way. We, the church, should also walk in love, not condoning sin but loving the sinner.

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #8–Origination
Genesis 1:27; 2:24 “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
As a Christian, the answer to the question of origination is found in the Scripture. These verses from Genesis answer the question as to “How we were made.” Therefore, the natural progression and procreation of humanity was specifically designed to reflect the life and nature of God.
So, when a statement is made that some people are born with certain bents, tendencies, or weakness, it is a deception and becomes an accusation as to God’s initial intent. To state that “homosexuals are born that way,” or more relevant to the Christian; “God made them that way” is a false assertion. This is the primary assertion of the homosexual agenda. It ignores, even rejects, the fallen nature of man. It denies man’s fearful and self-absorbed view of life.
It is a misleading assumption that human weakness and their developed bents are a result of heritage rather than sin, of DNA rather than choice. The idea that sexual preference is not a result of social imposition and formation from a corrupt immoral environment but a natural human trait is merely a form of blame-shifting and selfishness. Mankind is broken! We need a Savior. Jesus is the only answer.
Now this approach has proven foundational for the ability of the homosexual agenda to convince a majority of Americans that homosexuality is no longer a moral issue involving behavioral choices but rather a civil rights issue involving someone that is simply born “different.” This has resulted in their lobbies (public schools, liberal media and legal formations) successfully elevating so-called “sexual orientation” to the same category as other inherent human characteristics such as race and gender. This one issue alone seems central to the current false and misleading teaching plaguing our churches today. Given the pervasive influence of the homosexual agenda on our culture and now even the church itself, it is absolutely essential that we know and be equipped to respond with the facts. Therefore, our ethics are drawn from reflecting on the Genesis account and Jesus affirmation in Matthew 19:5.

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #9—Gender Identity
Given the pervasive influence of the homosexual agenda on our culture and now even the church itself, it is absolutely essential that we know and be equipped to respond with the facts.
Let’s consider the imposed confusion of gender identity. Today, some are attempting to alter their physical appearance to “be” something that they are not, either by cross-dressing or surgical and hormonal alterations. This perverted and lustful expression reflects a sexual preference and an unnatural desire that has developed in the confused psyche of a tormented soul. We grieve for those that have been encouraged and mentored into this unnatural physical expression. Promoting and supporting this behavior as natural is a deception that multiplies the pain. They are opposed by their own body and must callous their conscience to pursue this behavior. They can never be satisfied nor will they be whole in this life if they continue in this lifestyle.
The natural identification was clearly designed by our Creator in Genesis and is observed by every birth. In Genesis 1:27 we see that “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” When children are born, they are male or female.
Other than the rare birth defect known as ambiguous or atypical genitalia when a child is born with undeveloped or malformed sex organs that makes it unclear whether an affected newborn is a girl or boy, it is without question. This condition occurs approximately once in every 4,500 births. This defect is rare, a malformation, not a gender identity.
If a child is brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord with their birth parents also growing in their godly identities and His Divine Order, then a child will be less likely to be sexually confused or misdirected. A perverted sexual preference of a confused adult is a powerful influence on the development of a child. This is the motive for legislative boundaries, legal influence and cultural formation. Please understand the natural outworking of a confused unbalanced family results in a confused unbalanced society and eventual breakdown of the family and humanity. The demise of the Divine design for procreation leads to a eugenics of the arrogant, an unnatural design of “fallen” people by “fallen” humanity.

Thinking clearly, acting gracefully #10—Opposition
John 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”
These past ten articles have been aimed at addressing the issue of the sexual confusion that is rampant in our culture. I have no intention of standing in judgment of others but of proclaiming the truth. The truth that I proclaim is reality from God’s perspective. This truth is revealed in His Word. This truth stands in opposition to the ‘conventional wisdom’ of the day. As a result, that opposition has lashed out at the light shining in the darkness and called the light ‘hate.’
We should receive Jesus’ words with grace and humility. When we believe and proclaim Jesus’ words we will be opposing the kingdoms of this world. We will be opposed, rejected and ridiculed. So, our lives should reflect His, in word and deed. Remember, God so loved the world that He gave His Son. We are not those filled with hate that desire judgment to fall on the wicked. We thank God for His grace that has restrained that judgment. We are included in the beloved due to this grace. We want that grace increased so that our loved ones can also hear the good news of the Father’s love and provision.
We may be accused of “hate crimes” because we do not accept the majority ruling. We may be called a bigot because we do not accept the wisdom of the world. Our culture would not say that they hate Jesus, but His words were strong and are the source of what is accused as “hate speech.” Jesus said that He was the only way, which infuriates some. He said that if His words were not received then they were deceived. Jesus said that He did not come to judge for the world was under judgment already. He came to seek and save the lost.
In conclusion, we should also have love as our aim. We are not to stand in judgment or point the finger, but to walk in love. The light of the truth should light our path, should direct our steps, and should give us clear direction. As we walk in the truth, we will be reviled as Jesus was reviled. We must also lay down our lives as He laid down His life. The contemporary Message translation of Matthew 10:38 states “If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”

Conclusion
Conspiracies of God and Men
We are daily bombarded with fearful reports of the conspiracies of men grasping for power, many of these are true and many more are the results of paranoid imaginations. The fearful victims of this world’s systems exponentially multiply their fears in response. As Christians, we have the revelation and a responsibility to live in faith and obedience to God and His Word as we promote the expansion of His Kingdom through the conspiracy of love. The conspiracy of the Kingdom has been at work since the beginning and was ultimately consummated in the life of Jesus, the Messiah. His words clarify this reality when He said that “all authority in heaven and on earth have been given to me.”
The word “conspire” has developed a negative connotation in its recent use. However, it means to act in harmony, of the same breath, for a common goal. When the conspiracies of men that oppose God are exposed, Christians are to act in harmony with the values, principles and commands of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are to “obey God rather than man.”
The current “secularist socialist” attempts to redefine our constitutional right from the “freedom of religion” to a “freedom of worship” is a good example of the conspiracies of men. Their goal is to exclude the faith of Christians from being expressed in any public arena. Their deception lies in the attempt to redefine this freedom and limit the expression of faith to a private act rather than a faith lived out in public. When our government establishes laws that require us to violate our conscience and oppose our Christian principles and values, we must respond with a civil disobedience, to obey God rather than man!
Compared With Whom?
We live in a culture that is just as carnal, just as self-absorbed and just as fearful as at any previous time. The ‘Jesus follower’ is challenged to live “in the world” but not be “of the world”, that is, this world system. It is obvious that this world system is built on the values of money, sex, and power. Now, the greatest of these is money, with it men purchase sex and power! Oh, but the value system of the Kingdom of God is faith, hope, and love, the greatest of these is love!
The Apostle Paul reminds us through his letter to the Corinthian church in II Corinthians 10:12:
“For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.”
Paul is responding to the carnal attempts of those who seem to be competing with him for influence. He is not, understand, putting himself in a league with those who boast that they’re his superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point!
Many in the church are “of the world”, worldly, but not “in the world.” That is, acting like the world while condemning it from a distance. We must be cautious in our holiness, our separateness, from exempting ourselves from the ministry God places in our lives while separating from the sin.
The only one we have a reason to compare ourselves with is Jesus. When we do this we will bow humbly before Him with Whom we have to do. So be careful in this worldly process of envy, greed, and selfish ambition. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord!
The American poet and humorist, Strickland Gillian, hit the nail on the head when he wrote, “Egotism is the opiate that nature administers to deaden the pain of mediocrity.” If we are not careful, our ego will blind us to the purposes of God as we get entangled in the spirit of this world. Let’s live by faith and walk in obedience to the light that we have received.

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