PART 2 of Questions and Comments from Sunday, Sept 3
Caveat to Church Pastors and leaders who may read this: If you are not having [or making room for] these types of conversations with your people you are, in my opinion, ill equipping them to navigate the very realities that they encounter everyday in the culture we live. My experience, a combination of theology in churches and realities in an urban culture, is that most Christians have very little idea on how to engage in reasonable and winsome conversations while holding the truth of God’s Word. If that is the case- the shame is to us, the leaders/pastors in the Church – and it causes the Gospel witness (the Goodnews of Jesus Christ), entrusted to us, to be silent or to be ignorant. But I don’t want to sabotage this PART 2 QandC so I’ll leave this rant for my own personal blog East Coast Veritas which needs a good meaty topic of late.
The following question (s) comes out of our kickoff sermon in the pastoral epistle of I Timothy. A series we have entitled God’s Design for the Church.
I Timothy 1:1-11 God Designed the Church for Gospel Clarity
God uses the struggles of a young church plant in Ephesus to help us see what are the most important concerns for the church’s conduct as they live out spiritual life together I Timothy 3:14,15. The very first thing he addresses, which sets the stage for the rest of the letter, is Gospel clarity.
Another question that came out of our Questions and Comments time after the sermon focus, along with several others, might be even more ‘thorny’ then the last ones addressed in Prt 1 [law, slavery, hypocrisy] – after you read this you should say something like, “You guys talked about those things in an open forum on a Sunday morning as part of your worship service?!… whoa.”
Question #2 “Emphasis on homosexuality seems odd to me (I Timothy 1:8-11)– there is nothing in the Gospels about homosexuality being wrong- so how is condemning it ‘in accordance with the gospel’?
GREAT QUESTION! Here are some of the excellent answers that were shared that might help us see where people are coming from or help us navigate through this.
“When it comes to the Bible’s addressing of homosexuality does it really come right out and say it is wrong in the New Testament? I know that in Leviticus it talks about all kinds of sexual relationships that are forbidden under the law (Leviticus 18). But I am not so sure that it means the kind of loving relationships that some of my same sex friends have with each other. I really struggle with the condemning of these kinds of relationships. I am not sure how I should react to the thought that it’s not accepted by God or His Church?”
“Saying that God is silent on homosexuality is not entirely true. Jesus addressed sinful sexual relationships and broken thinking about what the law did or did not allow more then once.” [See how he lovingly but firmly points out to the woman at the well the real struggle of her heart’s worship by pointing her back to her failed relationships and her current relationship. John 4:4-26. Essentially he points out to her the place where she is trying to quench an inner thirst by physical and sexual relationships; Also see how he handles the Teachers of the law regarding their lack of understanding on the heart issues behind how easily they could turn to divorce Matthew 19:3-9. The human tendency to put the passions of the heart above the intentions of the Creator are no surprise to Jesus; Jesus also addresses sexual sins using the phrase ‘porneia’ which is a bit of a ‘junk-drawer’ type word and includes all kinds of sexual relationships, Mark 7:21. Its the same word Paul picks up to be in step with Christ’s and the O.T. stance on sexual boundaries, Romans 1:26-32].
“I think when you start using arguments based on a particular section of scripture, separating them from the whole of scripture, then you’re not basing your argument on a broader Biblical Theology and you begin to get in trouble. The Bible is clear in both the Old and the New Testament that sexual relationships outside of marriage between a husband and wife is an act of sin or rebellion against His intended design for marriage. The truth is He has made us all for relationship. We do feel loneliness, or passion, or desire or joy in relationships in all kinds of degrees, in all kinds of ways. It is how God designed us, it is a good design and these are essentially good desires. The intensions of such a make up is so that we might discover their fulfillment in God first and most, then we might enjoy these things in each other. So the Maker of our hearts certainly must know how they will be best filled up and has the right to declare the boundaries of what will be for our best good and His greatest joy.”
A further point from the Sermon text (I Tim. 1:8-11) is that this is a short list, a highlight list of teaching, thinking and behaviour that is contrary to sound doctrine. “Well what is sound doctrine?” we ask. Paul qualifies sound doctrine here as “that which is in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” The point being these things listed, and others, are NOT in keeping with those who claim to know and live the Gospel.
Here’s an article and a video that may help to clarify the conversation a bit more –
Jesus never addressed homosexuality so neither should his followers right?
Jesus and homosexuality
Here’s a video discussion:
How can homosexuality be wrong if it doesn’t hurt anyone?
I recognize that writing out these questions and comments can result in an over simplified response. We however as a church need to continue to make space for the hard conversations as we submit our hearts to God’s clear Word.
GET IN ON THE CONVERSATION but remember:
We don’t purpose to be able to solve all the mysteries and difficulties of faith lived out. But we are willing to wrestle through them openly and honestly. Saying that, we expect respectful answers and comments (we won’t repost disrespect) and we don’t post anonymous comments. Being in community, as a church demands both that we are known by each other and that we err on the side of respectful conversation (grace).
We had a couple more Questions and Comments on this Sunday. We may get a few more up before the end of the week.