Reaching Out

by

Reaching Out

by

This article is the unedited version of what was prepared for The Adventist Review April 15, 2010  issue.

Growing up on the Word of God, left very little question as to what constitutes sin. It seemed pretty clear cut until I was nearing adulthood and began to have questions. I set out on explorations of my own. Largely, I could only confirm that what I had been taught from parents, Adventist schooling and regular attendance in Adventist churches, is true.

By taking incremental slices from history, I believe what we find is one modernization after another. As we examine sin in these progressive time frames, a continued lenient approach has led to an acceptance today of what would have been unacceptable many years ago.  The fact is that God’s Word has never changed, but we have.  How did this happen? Why have we strayed? Have we been tricked into the lusts of the world?

There was that shiny apple on a most beautiful tree that caught Eve’s eye. Why didn’t God want her to partake? She questioned His love for her. Surely if He fully loved her, He would forbid nothing. Did she need that apple?  Did she have a right to that apple? No. Why? Because God’s word to her was simply not to go near it.  She had anything and everything at her disposal except this. She looked and gazed and contemplated what it would be like to have this apple. Her desires grew. Feelings of desire that overwhelmed her. Eve was tantalized by the serpent within the tree, drawing her nearer and nearer to certain doom.

There was absolutely no question about God’s instructions. He had told her personally; do not partake of this tree. And so it began. The first decision to go against the divine and most holy instruction of God based on feelings, instead of abiding by what she knew as absolute truth.  Her sinful nature would be passed down through every living soul throughout time. Gathering with it along the way, more and more deceit and distorted reasoning influenced by the great deceptor.

From as early as I can remember, I was fascinated with the male gender. I will share with you some of what shaped my life. But there are many stories of what has brought countless individuals to their same-sex attraction. All of them counterfeit God’s perfect plan. This has brought much satisfaction to Satan as he has utilized clever and plausible entrapments put in place to distort God’s truth. Plans that would make truth seem like God could not be a God of love if we are not allowed to love as we feel naturally.  In possession of a sinful nature, many have adopted the unnatural as natural.

In my growing years, I was taught to take the bible literally. I was taught that a God of love has provided us a guide for the duration of life on this earth.  Jeremiah17:9 tell us “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

As a result of sin and my sinful nature, I had seemingly been trapped as a result of uncontrollable circumstances early in my life. My natural mother would meet her great disappointment of a male being born to her after her insistence that only a girl would be acceptable.  She showed me much anger and aggression long before I would ever have the wherewithal to understand her actions. Before I was two, she had already broken my arm in two places on two separate occasions.  Her disappointment and plan for my life contradicted any perfect plan the Bible had in place.

Before I was three I was running around saying; “I don’t want to be a boy, I want to be a girl!”  I began to take on the characteristics and interests more common to that of a girl. Sensitivity, creativity, dramatic feelings, femininity and so on. I was obviously no carbon copy of Adam.

School began; and so did the teasing and harassment. From the first day until the last, I could not wait to be freed from being forced to be among those who hated and found me repulsive and of no benefit to them. Even some of my teachers in high school would fuel those who would harass me. There was no solace. Not even in a Christian Adventist school system.

There was no explanation, no help, and no counsel from a denomination that I felt pretty much had laid claim to knowing it all. (The Bible)

One thing was for sure. Homosexuality is sin. Jesus ministered to the needy, the down and out, the demon-possessed, the poor and the lonely.  Today most of our ministries seem to be confined to those who come to church. Outreach ministries seem to be taken on by precious few who operate under the convictions achieved by intent study of God’s Word.

When I consider various churches and their teaching or lack thereof of discipleship and commitment programs, I have to wonder if we don’t have a Laodicean approach.  As a result, how many sad, lonely and confused souls have not found love and acceptance in their sinful condition?  For so long now, some sins seem so much easier to minister to than others. The sin of homosexuality has been high on the shelf gathering dust and by ignoring it, Satan has creatively and with certainty developed it into a somewhat natural existence for many. While the church has ignored it, yet proclaimed great disdain for it, those affected have run to the open arms of the gay community who are lying in wait with the merciless deceit of the devil?   By acknowledging sin alone and not embracing the sinner, we give an impression of personal rejection. We create an atmosphere of a sinner being too sinful to be loved.  Is that what Jesus would do?

I am decades late. However, God has called me to wake up those who have been sleeping. To give hope to those who have lost it. To educate those who feel helpless. But those afflicted with homosexuality and those who don’t understand it need to grasp God’s Word and seek His truth and His love and redemption for every sinner.  We are in the most trying and final days of this earth. We can not afford not to know and share the truth about The Jesus Christ we love and how He so dearly loves us. A red alert should be flashing above every church door proclaiming God’s welcome for the sick, suffering and deceived sinner.

We are called to demonstrate His love to all. Standing on street corners with “God Hates Fags” signs is a far far cry from demonstrating the compassionate, heart wrenching love Jesus promises to reflect through us. The drawing love that calls all sinners to Him. 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

It is time we wake up and minister to those who have not been welcome in our comfortable congregations. Many Christians wonder today what the secret to such a ministry is. Some of you have already been practicing it. Some have only displayed prejudice.  The secret is no different than showing love and acceptance to a heterosexual sinner.

Regardless of the sin, we are called to repent. The ground at the foot of the cross is level. In our declaration of our sin and our acceptance of Jesus, we are called to self-denial and taking up our cross and following Him.

In my recent reading, I found that the reason we as Christians are not persecuted today for our beliefs is because we do not stand apart enough from the rest of the world that would draw attention.  That’s a pretty sad thought. It is a privilege to suffer for Jesus. We are to be apart from the world, not a part of the world.

In October last year, I had the privilege of attending the conference on Marriage, Homosexuality and the Church at Andrews University and sharing what God has done for me. The secret my dear brothers and sisters for escaping any sinful inclination is to abide in Jesus. Not just during your devotion in the morning and evening, but constantly. Anytime we are not abiding in Him, we are open turf for the devil or one of his messengers.

The discussion of homosexuality is gaining rapid momentum throughout church communities today. There are those steadfast in this sin who would like to gain a foothold and control in God’s house of worship. I strongly urge you to be knowledgeable and grounded in the love of Jesus regarding homosexuality.  The sin is in the practice, not the orientation*. God reached out and spoke to me when I was silent and listening to Him and led me to Him through a web ministry.   I was so overwhelmed to find someone within my denominational beliefs, reaching out to those who have lived in such pain and confusion. We cannot afford to be ignorant of God’s teachings. Where there is correction given by God, there is always love.

When I gave my heart and my life to Jesus, I did not go under the water gay and come up straight. I asked Jesus to drown my sinful flesh, put it to death and awaken His spirit in me to live according to His will, not mine.  The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, it is holiness. This is what we are all called to. Romans 6 and in 1Peter 1. Many seek additional insight and influence from sources outside of God’s word to draw themselves and you to a new truth, but not God’s truth.  We can live and die by His truth and know that it is just.

God is victorious in my life. I am met with temptation as all of us will be until He comes to take us from this world. But as long as I choose Him and abide in Him, I am safe in the arms of Jesus.

*”orientation”  –  Since the printing of this article I grow in Christ daily.  It should be of particular note that holding down in an “orientation,”  can prevent growth. If I lay claim to an orientation and become self-complacent, I will eventually believe that that orientation provides me with certain disclaimers. God asks us to forsake all sin. My orientation should be directed by the cross of Jesus Himself. Orientation has to do with direction. Where we are headed. I want my orientation to be guided by my Lord Jesus Christ, not by an earthly condition.

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