Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Compromise is not always a good thing

Note: You get it three hours early this week... enjoy... probably won't happen frequently.

The Huffington Post published an article last week in which the author and one semi-famous Christian pastor came out in defense of homosexuality in the Bible. You can read it here, if you so desire, or you can keep their traffic down as well and just read my rantings and ravings as to why it's wrong.

Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Faye... if those names don't mean much to you, that's ok), has struggled with a problem for years. When he graduated from Wheaton College, many of his Christian friends came out of the closet. His response at that time was the right one: "Love them. Unconditionally, without caveats or exceptions." However, he has now decided that after thousands of years of scriptural inquiry, the translators of the Bible were wrong, and the Bible doesn't actually say that homosexuality is a sin... at least not in the New Testament.

"The simple fact is that Old Testament references in Leviticus do treat homosexuality as a sin ... a capital offense even," Bakker writes. "But before you say, 'I told you so,' consider this: Eating shellfish, cutting your sideburns and getting tattoos were equally prohibited by ancient religious law.

"The truth is that the Bible endorses all sorts of attitudes and behaviors that we find unacceptable (and illegal) today and decries others that we recognize as no big deal."
Leviticus prohibits interracial marriage, endorses slavery and forbids women to wear trousers. Deuteronomy calls for brides who are found not to be virgins to be stoned to death, and for adulterers to be summarily executed.

"The church has always been late," Bakker told me in an interview this week. "We were late on slavery. We were late on civil rights. And now we're late on this."

I met Jay Bakker at his church when I went to New York on Spring Break trip with my campus ministry from Penn State. I think to call him "seeker sensitive" would be fair. He strikes me as someone who tries to love God, but has decided that he would rather love people first. I get that, I do that a lot too. However, Bob Russell once pulled from the Bible that God's Word is perfect and true... sharper than any double-edged sword... and if we preach the truth, then people will respond. If they don't respond to the truth, it doesn't much matter because following a false doctrine isn't guaranteed to get you into heaven. However, teaching false doctrine is pretty much guaranteed to keep you out. That's where Bakker has made his fatal mistake.

I basically hate anything that HuffPo puts out there because it's usually wildly inaccurate, but based on the article, and his direct quotes, I think Bakker is the one at the most fault here. Using the logic that "Jesus didn't talk much about homosexuality" is stupid... He also didn't talk about bestiality; that's another issue where the Old Testament condemns the practice, and the New Testament doesn't... Hey! Where's the nearest goat and I'll sign Jay Bakker up!

I'd love to know which Scripture he's talking about that has been mistranslated, but of course the article writer didn't feel the need to put it in, and I don't plan on buying this book. Specifically, I'd love to see the explanation for Romans 1:25-27
25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.
BUT IT DOESN'T USE THE *WORD* HOMOSEXUAL, SO IT'S OK!!! Please. Now, let's get a few things straight. I do not hate gay people... in fact, I have friends who are gay. They like me and I like them. But when it comes down to it, I respect the Bible more than them, or any of my friends. As I said last week, I'm not perfect, I mess up, and I've sinned. I am as guilty as any gay person who walks on this earth. Both of us deserve to go to Hell. But when Jesus said "Go and sin no more," I think He meant all sin, and not just what we can rationalize as being "not sin" to our depraved minds. I like how Paul puts it in Romans 6:1,2
1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
A good, honest reading of the Bible, for those who trust God and trust his Word, shows that the Bible frames homosexuality as a sin. It's not a mistranslation, it's not an error. So for gay people who try to find excuses to remain in their sin, instead of repenting like the entirety of Christianity, nay, the world is called to, they're in trouble.

That being said, out of the two, homosexuals as a community and Bakker, I feel like the homosexuals are actually in a better place. I'd love to see Bakker respond to 2 Peter 2 (I'll just quote the first three verses)
1 But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.
I do agree with Bakker that people need to be shown the love of Christ. However, the love of Christ isn't always as lovey-dovey as we'd like it. Far and away, the most common attribute used to describe God in the Bible is "holy." We are to "Be holy, because [God] is holy." Sin is not holy, and false teaching is even less so. And so, for people like Bakker, I fear it's not the love of Christ they'll be experiencing, but the anger.