Please take a moment to enjoy the following article. Here in the U.S., one of the latest controversies is over the government sanction of the redefinition of marriage by the courts. Although no actual laws have been created to force the recognition of these “marriages”, Christians like Kim Davis of Tennessee (an elected court official, sworn to uphold local laws) have paid a huge price for remaining faithful to local laws that specifically prohibit such things. So, we can see a glimpse of what lays in store for us who take a stand for righteousness!
SEPTEMBER 9, 2015 by John Cosmides
SOME 2,000 YEARS AGO, God the Father gave all authority in Heaven and on Earth to His Son, Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:18-20). That act empowered Christ to invite humanity back into a Covenant relationship with God (II Cor. 5:18), a relationship that is offered freely to all who believe in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection as full payment for their sins (Gen. 15:6; John 3:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
Though Covenant membership is bought and paid for by Jesus Christ, Christians are called to wholeheartedly surrender their lives to God’s authority (Luke 9:23-24; Mark 8:36-37, Mark 12:30, Romans 12:1-2). Christ echoed the words of Moses when He defined the life of surrender as living “by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Matt. 5:17-19).
The change in one’s worldview that accompanies their conversion is so complete that Christ defines it as being “born again” (John 3:3). St. Paul describes Christians as a “new creation” (II Cor. 5:17) and reminds us that our bodies are no longer our own to do with as we please (I Cor. 6-19-20). Christ is so transparent about the demands of the New Covenant life that He warns us not to accept His offer until we’ve carefully considered its cost to our life (Luke 14:26-33).
So, though God loves sinners (Romans 5:8) He nevertheless commands us to leave our lives of sin (John 8:9-11, Acts 3:19-20; I John 1:9). Obedience to the Bible is so inseparably linked to the Covenant life that the Apostle Paul describes Christ as washing the Church “with water through the Word, to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25-27). In fact, I John 1:10 warns us that when we deny that we’re sinning we’re actually calling God a liar.
The eradication of willful sin within the Church is so imperative that Christ and the apostles commanded the Church to confront, to judge, and if necessary to expel members who are living in serious, unrepentant sin (Matt. 18:15-17; I Cor. 5:12-13).
This, of course, is not the Jesus Christ most people want to follow. So, despite these mandates, many of today’s congregations have abandoned the holy prescription of church discipline.
One of the most pervasive examples of this breakdown in church discipline may be the practice of allowing Christian couples to divorce and marry others when neither spouse has been the victim of unfaithfulness (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; I Cor. 7:15). It’s a sin the LGBT community has been calling us out on for years, and rightly so.
However, a more sinister rebellion against Christ comes from the many false prophets and false teachers who have infiltrated the Church over the millennia. Christ describes them as ferocious wolves disguised as sheep (Matt. 7:15-23). They don’t merely disobey God’s word; they try to bend its meaning to justify their worldview.
For example, the Judaizers told early Christians that covenant membership required circumcision. A prophet in Thyatira led her congregation into sexual sin. Arians claimed that God created Jesus Christ. Pelagians taught that people could achieve moral perfection through their own efforts. And the Gnostics denied that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. The Church eradicated those teachings through apostolic letters and ecumenical creeds.
In the 1970s, a San Francisco preacher led his congregation into mass suicide. More recently, one of America’s most respected Christian broadcasters falsely predicted the return of Christ — twice (Matt. 24:36).
Today a fresh pack of sheep has appeared, gentle in nature and affirming in speech. They’re approaching God-fearing Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction, and they’re telling them that God actually permits same-sex relations. They dismiss Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-11 and I Timothy 1:8-11 the way so many churches dismiss Christ’s commands against divorce and remarriage. They claim that Leviticus only applies to Jews or male prostitutes, and that the New Testament passages are either mistranslated or only apply to heterosexuals who engage in same-sex acts.
These pastors, evangelists and authors assert that God has always accepted same-sex marriage, yet they cannot point to a single example performed anywhere in the Bible, or legalized by Moses, or anointed by the Levitical priests, arranged by the Old Testament kings, foretold by the Prophets, consecrated by Jesus Christ, loosed by the Apostles, exegeted by the early church Fathers, written into a Creed, exposited by the great Talmud scholars, or practiced historically in the Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant traditions. Some interpret David and Jonathan’s love as sexual, which if true would be forbidden, as was David and Bathsheba’s love.
And, when confronted with the bankruptcy of their own teaching, some of these leaders react by accusing Christ’s church of hate, intolerance and bigotry, all because God requires gays and lesbians to turn from their sins, just like everyone else.
These false teachers complain that singleness and sexual abstinence are unfair burdens placed on Christians who have homosexual orientation, when in fact Christ requires the same of unmarried (I Cor. 7:1-8) and divorced heterosexual Christians, who far outnumber gays. They argue that God doesn’t want anyone to be alone (Gen. 2:18), but they leave out God’s promised 100-fold blessings to all who give up marriage for Him (Mark 10:28-30). They defy God’s prohibition against asking, “Why did you make me like this?” (Romans 9:20), and they ignore the fact that the Apostle Paul (I Cor. 7:7-8) — and Jesus Christ, himself — were single and abstinent (I Peter 2:22).
The Bible says this about them:
“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (II Cor. 11:13-15).
So, what then shall we say? That God’s all-inclusive kingdom is growing, despite the feeble attempts of Christ’s enemies! Today nearly one-third of humanity identifies as Christian, far more than any other religion. And God’s kingdom is rapidly expanding into Asia and Africa. History is advancing toward the day when, willing or not, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).
And all who sacrificed personal relationships for Christ will receive back many times what they lost, in this life and in the one to come (Mark 10:28-30).
So, whether LGBT or straight, let’s embrace God’s love, grace and forgiveness by allowing the Holy Spirit to conform us into the Image of Christ (II Cor. 3:18) as we boldly admit and turn from our sins, and join in the very real expansion of God’s very real kingdom.
John Cosmides has been living in Benicia for 25 years.