Context & Hope

Here’s another guest post from the anonymous writer. It has some excellent points:

I believe that many of the New Testament verses used by the church to condemn homosexuality as a sin are not being used with their full context and message. I actually believe this radical statement I have just made; which hopefully by the end of this post, you will not find to be as radical as you do now.

Before I continue, let me first make a quick disclaimer; I am not a historian, nor a Bible scholar. I am simply a student who enjoys research, and I try my best to purse God’s truth in the research that I do. I would encourage you not to simply take my word, but to take what I say and investigate and research the claims I make for yourself.

I will begin with a brief, broad overview of the letters. They were written by Paul to the early church in different cities regarding Christian ethics and theology. In these letters, there are many verses on sexual purity; in which Paul warns and rebukes members of those churches (1 Corinthians 7:2, 1 Timothy 1:10, 1 Corinthians 6:9, etc.). Homosexuality is a sin; it is laid out pretty clearly in those verses. The evangelical right has this part down pretty well; not many people would say we a problem with not rebuking people for homosexual behaviors. This analysis, while correct on this facet, falls short of capturing the bigger picture though.

Now this is where it gets interesting; I will examine the historical context present when Paul’s epistles were written. In the Greco-Roman culture he was writing to, homosexual practices were rampant. Homosexual relationships in that time were much different than they are now however. In the cities Paul was writing to most homosexual encounters were between an autonomous adult and someone who “worked” as a prostitute. When I say worked, they didn’t have a choice in the matter; they were slaves essentially.

Sexual slavery, not an overly popular topic in the church now is it? (But given that it still has a presence in our world today, maybe it should be). Those in the church to whom Paul was writing to weren’t looking to marry a partner of the same sex, but rather they were seeking fleeting sinful acts to satisfy their lust.

So where do we miss the mark? I believe we miss the implicit message of hope contained in the verses condemning homosexual behavior. Hope? Hope for whom? Hope for those living as slaves to the lustful whims of these societies. Through the spreading of the gospel and the disciplining of new believers, it would be inevitable that these slaves would be set free as Christianity spread.

How is this relevant to today? The homosexual practices and debates in America today do not involve one party in a state of slavery to the temple of a false religion, but the underlying concepts of hope for the lost still apply.

“Love the sinner, but hate the sin,” is just our nicer way of saying, “Come to Jesus and renounce homosexuality.” Don’t get me wrong, this statement is correct, but I believe it is incomplete. When you apply the implicit message of hope, the message also includes; “Come to Jesus and renounce despair,” and, “Come to Jesus and renounce loneliness.”

Let’s stop using legislation as our primary offensive against homosexuality, and start using Christ’s love. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”(ESV)


I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag?

Ladies and gentlemen, my blog’s first ever guest post! The author wished to remain anonymous.

I recently attended a conference of a stereotypical evangelical right group; the opening ceremonies began with a prayer, per standard, followed by a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. This chain of events would hardly surprise anyone acquainted with this community. While reciting this pledge with the hundreds in attendance however, I began to think about what exactly I was saying. More specifically, is pledging allegiance to a post-Christian nation without stopping to contemplate the gravity of what we are saying something we should regularly engage in?

Now, before you label me a traitor, I love my country; there is no other nation on earth I would rather be a citizen of, and I thank God for the many blessings and freedoms I have received as a member of our great nation. Rather, the question I am posing to you is this; why must we always associate our nation with our God?

In our demographic, we love to associate the two; it makes us feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. We cling to phrases like, “One nation under God.” Well I would propose to you that all nations are under God. Believe it or not, God is still in control of nations like North Korea, and He has a plan for them. America and Jesus are two different things; America is a creation of man, Jesus came to save man.

So how is this relevant? In the context of recent cultural debates, our focus should not be to make laws that align with our beliefs, but rather make our “enemies” align with our beliefs. With that being said, having laws that do align with our beliefs to a degree is an enormous blessing, but it should not be our ultimate goal.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard “America was founded on Christian principles.” My response is simply, so what? Nations change their principles; America is not the church, nor has it ever been so. As a Christian, your first allegiance should be to your God, before any institution of man regardless of the intentions that institution was founded with.

The conclusions I want to derive from this are simple, I believe you should put what is best for the church ahead of what you believe is best for America. With a heavily bureaucratic, sometimes corrupt, and often unpopular government, is it best for the American church to claim a strong relation to this government?

Based on the aforementioned augments, I believe that we need to separate our love of God from love of country. Furthermore, just imagine if we took all the time and effort we put into declaring our political beliefs, and instead put that time and effort into sharing the gospel?