Monday, March 13, 2006

Hanky Panky and the New Testament/Covenant – Part 2

Yesterday’s posting was just an introduction to the New Testament and sexual ethics—it needed more specifics. So here goes…

Jesus hates the sin, yet loves the sinner. An excellent example of this is found in John 8 where the teachers of the law and the Pharisees bring a woman before Jesus. The woman was caught committing adultery. How embarrassing—to the woman, her family and friends. Public humiliation! Scorn. Death. Jesus knew that the woman deserved death; yet, he told the crowd, “Let any one of you who is without in be the first to throw a stone at her.” (vs. 7, TNIV) No stones were thrown. Does Jesus let her off the hook? No! He tells her that he does not condemn her and that she is to “go now and leave your life of sin.” (vs. 11, TNIV) Jesus gave her life. Jesus told her to stop sinning! Purity… what a concept. The TTF could learn from this example of our Lord Jesus.

The Apostle Paul wrote very clearly about “sin” in general. He wrote specifically about sexual sin. Romans 1 spells out what the Holy Spirit told him concerning sin, and more specifically, sexual sin. He talks about people knowing God, but not glorifying him or thanking him. People are so fickle—we turn to God when we need help but we seek after things that displease him. We are foolish to seek after things that God forbids. Oh how wise we think we are.

The Holy Spirit begins this section on sin by talking about “sexual impurity.” Imagine that—there are some things about sex that are not pure! Paul says that we “exchange the truth of God for a lie.” We lie to ourselves. We lie to others. We lie to God. But what do we lie about? The lie is that we would rather fulfill our sexual desires than follow what God’s Word says. We justify our desires. We justify our fantasies. Paul goes on to mention “shameful lusts.” Notice… this applies to all people, not just GLBT persons. All persons are open to sexual sin. Jesus said that to look at a person lustfully was to commit adultery with that person. I digress, lets get back to Paul… Paul gets very specific. He starts with lesbian sex and then moves to gay sex. He calls them “unnatural,” “indecent” and “perversion.” Those are strong words! They are words that transcend time and cultures. The meaning of this section of scripture is clear—sexual intercourse between persons of the same gender is SIN.

To be true to the text, Paul doesn’t stop there. Our human disobedience goes way beyond sexual sin. People gossip, lie, cheat, steal, are arrogant. Paul says that we not only do these things but we also approve of those who practice them.

So what should we do? We all sin. Period. End of story? Wrong! It is the beginning of a new story called repentance and forgiveness. God wants us to be broken before him and then experience his grace. Will we sin in the future? Yes. Does that make it right? No. So, since we are going to sin should we approve of sinful behavior? No.

But what about people who are born with a sexual attraction for those of the same gender? What about those who are bisexual? What about those who feel trapped in the body that is of the wrong gender? First, let me say that my heart goes out to those folks. It is never easy when people have to reject their natural desires. As a teenage male I “desired” to have sex. Fellow male athletes were regularly having sex with females. Was it easy for me to not act on my desires? Heavens no! I felt left out and different. Here’s the key—I knew what the Bible said about sex outside of marriage. I knew what God demanded. I had a choice… my way or God’s way.

The Reformed Tradition has a doctrine call “total depravity.” We have to remember that the doctrine of “total depravity” says that every aspect of our lives is affected by sin. Our morals are affected by sin. Our desires are affected by sin. Our sexuality is affected by sin. Our reason is affected by sin. “Total depravity” is why we need to hold fast to God’s Word. It is trustworthy. It is dependable.

The great news of the Gospel is that we can find forgiveness in Jesus Christ. He spares our life like he did the lady who was caught while committing adultery. Jesus gives us new life. But it doesn’t stop there. He told the lady to leave her life of sin. He demands the same of us.


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