Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Homosexuality: How Should I Deal With It?

"They just can't help themselves. There is something in their genetic makeup that causes them to be that way." We've heard this excuse for alcoholism, obesity, and recently, for homosexuals.

One reason "gays" hate those who stop the practice of homosexuality is that it implies that it is a choice, and thus they are responsible for their actions. Drunks love the idea drinking is genetic for the same reason. If it is true, they can't be blamed for what they do since it is beyond their control.

A basic principle of Genetics is that the ratio of genetic traits will remain essentially equal unless some circumstance occurs to cause a change in the ratio. In the case of homosexuality, whether male or female, the practice is incapable of producing offspring, and thus would quickly cause the loss of those who carried the genes, unless they hid the tendency, and practiced heterosexual sex as well.

The percentage of homosexuals would remain stable or decline slowly in a hostile cultural environment if it were genetic. In a society where homosexuality was viewed as acceptable, Heterosexual behaviour would not be neccessary to obtain sexual gratification, or for hiding such an orientation. As a result, the percentage of homosexuals would decline rapidly, due to the sterile mating practices. The fredom to practice homosexuality has resulted in an increase, clearly revealing that it cannot be genetic.

The increase of homosexuality is a result of several factors. The focus in recent years of reducing or eliminating eating of meat has led to an increased use of soy products. Soy contains compounds closely resembling the female hormone estrogen, which has been shown to cause sexual disorientation for males which ingest those compounds. Herbivores have a somewhat different digestive system than that of humans. As a result. their body does not absorb the compounds and thus do not experience this effect, but omnivores do.

Orientals have used soy for centuries without experiencing these effects because they use fermented soy, rather than the raw soy. The fermentation process. used in producing tofu, or soy sauce, eliminates these compounds.

The unfermented soy is frequently substituted for meat as a cheaper alternative, and is prevalent in free lunch programs and among those who are short of money, making those on the poor end of the spectrum more suceptible to sexual disorientation, and thus to easily being led into homosexuality.

Sexual confusion also results from children being raised in situations where they do not have strong close relationships with both male and female role models. Studies have shown that children from single parent homes, especially when they are not close to other family are 5 times as likely to be involved in homosexual behaviour as those raised in traditional families. Both boys and girls are affected. They are also more likely to remain in abusive situations.

Sexual abuse, media coverage, pop culture, and educational programs encourage experimentation, and develop the practicing of homosexual behaviour. As a result, children are frequently involved before they are equipped to make a concious choice.

Knowing these things, and that the old Testament required the execution of those who are involved with such behaviour, how should a Christian deal with the situation? Some believe that we should kill all homosexuals. Others believe we should simply ignore such behaviour.

As Christians, our standard needs to be based on what the Bible teaches, not on our own ideas. Asking "what would Jesus do?" is only productive when we search the scripture to se what he would have done.

I Corinthians 5:9-13 gives a lot of information on this as well as other types of sin. Let's look at the passage.

"I wrote unto you in an epistle not to keep company with fornicators: yet not altogether with fornicators of this world, or with the coveteous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

But now have I written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or coveteous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person."

Clearly, it is not our place to judge or try to change the unsaved world. Avoidance will be impossible as long as we live in this world. On the other hand, We are not to ignore the problem. When a man who claims to be a christian is involved in these sins, and the word translated fornication in this passage refers particularly to homosexual sin, we are to disassociate ourselves from that person if they refuse to stop. By doing so, we emphasize that this is unacceptable behaviour.

Paul then directs us to follow up and if the disassociation results in turning from the sin, we need to forgive, and restore our relationship to help the person grow. II Corinthians 2:6-8 advises, "Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Showing Love by Gentleness

An injured dog will nearly always find a cave or hole and crawl in, staying until healed or hunger forces them out. Attempts to get them out are usually unsuccessful because he is not as well equipped to defend himself, and he doesn't want to be killed. He will fight desparately to prevent being dragged from his lair.

In nature, injured animals are the target of predators, because of their injuries. Other dogs often take advantage of weakness and attack or kill. The only defense is to withdraw to a place where the others cannot attack until strength is regained.

By making it obvious that one has no intention of causing further injury, and showing concern, one may gain the injured dog's confidence and coax him out so that one may minister to his wounds. It will not happen easily or quickly, however, and the person who caused the injury may find it almost impossible.

As the dog learns that one is only interested in helping, he becomes far more willing to allow you to see his hurt, and when fully convinced, will even allow you to do things that hurt because he trusts you to try to help.

Trying to force the dog out by prodding him with sticks, or grabbing and attempting to drag him out, on the other hand, merely reinforces his sense of vulnerability, increasing his determination to protect himself. He may well lash out at the one who is trying to help him.

Human beings exhibit similar behaviour, withdrawing from others when they are hurt. Emotional injuries result in an emotional withdrawing, and physical injuriesw result in physical avoidance. Trying to force them out tends to make them withdraw even more. Counselors and apparent friends who try to rush things increase anxiety, resulting in further withdrawal, and occasionally attacks on or injury even to those who are trying top help.

In my years as a pastor and husband, I have seen this happen many times. One of the most frequent areas is in the marriage. Most men appear to instinctively defend themselves physically. As a result, they tend to fight physically first. They also know how to respond to physical injury. In recent years, this instinctive behaviour has become increassingly frowned upon, leaving the male more and more defenceless.

Women on the other hand, are more likely to use verbal attacks initially, resorting to physical actions only if the verbal attack is unsuccessful. As a result, the woman is better equipped, in most cases, to deal with verbal injuries than the man is. Unfortunately, verbal attacks are held as acceptable, and in some cases even encouraged. After all the old saying is, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".

In a marriage, disagreements arise. Love always desires to put the other person above ones own interests. Most people have seen little or no example of love and the common idea of love is they give me what I want. Both sides want things their way. A fight results, and one is hurt.

Some men physically assault their wives, and some women physically attack their husbands. In these cases it is most often the wife who gets hurt, and begins to withdraw. The uninjured, the winner, becomes progressively more aggressive, as it gives him the advantage. Because physical abuse is taken very seriously, he will frequently apologise, and promise to not do it again, to overcome the withdrawal. If that is not successful, he may become more abusive to force the other out. He then adds insult to injury by blaming her for her injury. If she had just done as he told her, it wouldn't have happened. Now she is both physically and emotionally injured.

Some people attack their mate verbally. The horrible things that may be said are shocking. Unfortunately, society rarely views these verbal attacks as seriously as the physical attacks. The person making the attack thus may view themselves as not ahving done anything wrong. When their mate suddenly refuses to talk further, or walks out, they become quite angry and press the attack, accusing the other of not caring or lacking courage, or refusing to face the problem. They fail to understand or care that the withdrawal indicates that the other person is hurt.

It is easy to ignore the statement about the tongue in James 3:5-9. "Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents and of things in the sea is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."

Hurts caused by the tongue are often more harmful than physical blows. A better version of the old saying would be "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words may kill my spirit." They are actually more dangerous than the blows of a physically abusive person. To let them go is more wicked than ignoring physical damage we have caused.

When the person we are in conflict with suddenly withdraws, it implies that we have inflicted serious injury. We need to stop inflicting more pain and begin to make it clear that the injury was unintentional. We also need to recognize that the conflict is an indication of an unspiritual condition according to I Corinthians 3:3 and repent of our sin. We have allowed Satan to control our tongue. We need to stop attacking and begin immediately to reduce the hurt persons stress.

Our human nature will encourage us to take advantage of the injury, but a spiritual nature will, as a result of the love the spirit produces, be more concerned with the others welfare than our victory. Frequently, we will not even understand how they were hurt by our comments.

If we are sincerely seeking what is best for them, we will be genuinely sorry for hurting them, and try to correct the hurt. Fake love will not admit doing wrong, trying to place the blame on the victim. The hurt indicates that we have gone too far. To continue to accuse or attack implies we do not really care. We need to heal the damage already done.

A charge that is frequently made against Christians is that we are the only army that shoots its wounded. All to often it is true, in direct contradiction to Gods command. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, or a deliberate effort not to do harm. We are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. Our point can be made without hurting others if we are led by the Spirit.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

His, Hers, and Ours

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wive and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matthew 19:3-6)

On a farm in Kansas, a man had a serious heart attack. His coworkers carried him to the house to wait for the ambulance. His wife refused to allow them to bring him in, demanding that they take him to the barn and bathe him first. The man nearly died as a result.

The coworkers were upset and followed up after the ambulance arrived. They learned that the wife refused to allow the man to enter her house until he had taken a shower and changed clothes. After all it was her house, and she didn't want to have to clean up after him.

How many times have you heard similar possessive comments by those you know. A man or woman who speaks of their money and refuses to use theirs to help pay bills. The wife who doesn't allow her husband to have his friends in the home, or the husband who refuses to allow his wife to do the shopping all fail to live in accord with the description of marriage Jesus has given.

The term one flesh is the same as saying both your arms are one flesh. Most people use one hand to do certain things, and the other for others. For example, the right may be used to write, and the left holds the paper still. The right may be used for throwing and the left for catching.

Such specialization makes the body more adept at many jobs. Fortunately, the body doesn't separate itself. It continues to function as a unit. Rarely does a person leavew one hand outside while the other goes into the house. What belongs to one belongs to the other.

People rarely chop one hand off or put out one eye deliberately, simply because the hand or eye does not have any right to what the other hand has.

A marriage based on God's standard connot focus on individual desires to the exclusion of those of the other person. Such a focus definitely reveals an ungodly selfishness. It also indicates a rejection of God's plan. The house belongs to both of them. The money and otherbelongings also belong to both.

Just as chopping a hand off to prevent it sharing the other hands belongings would hurt the body, rejection of the mate hurts the one doing the rejection. As Ephesians 5:28 tells us, "... He that loveth his wife loveth himself." Verse 33 commands "Nevertheless let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband."

That selfishness is clearly in direct disobedience to God, and as such, is sin. It is a major factor in many marriage problems, frequently resulting in divorce. As Matthew tells us, divorce is deliberately destroying what God has done. Divorce is not pleasing to God.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pie Melon Spirituality

When I was a child, my Grandad grew a kind of melon he called a Pie Melon. It looked like a large watermelon, but the skin was much tougher. The flesh was white and had almost no flavor of its own. He planted them closer to the road than his watermelons, and one day a bunch of guys stopped and stole several melons.

Several weeks later, a man asked what kind of melons those by the road were. Since they looked like regular melons, only the thieves could know that they were not. Confronted, he admitted to having heled steal the melons, and said they had had a difficult time breaking the melon open, then were shocked to realize it didn't taste very good.

Fruit was scarce in the area, and pie melons were used to extend fruit in pies. Its texture and lack of flavor made it a very good filler. chopped in apple slice sized pieced, and baked in an apple pie, it would absorb the spices and apple flavor, and taste almost like an apple.

Chopping it more finely, and mixed with pineapple, it tasted almost like piuneapple and could be used to extend pineapple in pies or cakes. Boiled a little before being mixed with peaches, it would make a fair extender for peaches. It could also be used for making pickles.

While the taste was only slightly different thatn that of the fruit it replaced. the food value was very different. In fact, almost all the value came from the fruit and spices just as the taste did.

People who had never had a genuine apple pie would accept the pie melon as actual apples, and never realize it was a fake. The same is true of people who have never experienced or seen genuine spirituallity. Several years ago, on the tv program "Survivor", the show was set in Africa. A woman on the show made the statement thet just being there was such a Spiritual experience. Like many others, she had been decieved into believing that intense emotional experiences are spiritual.

In the same way, I have heard religious leaders advise people to go to Israel because it would benefit them so much Spiritually. This is exactly why many religions believe a pilgrimage to some holy site is neccessary. II Timothy 2:15 Makes it clear that simply studying the scripture is sufficient.

Such incorrect beliefs cause people to accept many things that, according to the scriptures, are in fact evidence of unspirituallity, and in some cases, even Satanic. The following are some examples Paul mentions in the book of I Corinthians. Unlike mistaking pie melon for apples, the consequences are severe for mistaking unspirituality for spirituality.

It is not uncommon for those who have been trained by one program or person to believe they ar esuperior to those who have not gone therough the same program, or been taught by the same teacher, reulting in conflicts in the church. I Corinthians 1:10-12 describes this very situation, instructing us not to get involved. I Corinthians 3:3 tells us that divisions between Christians are evidence of a carnal condition.

I Corinthians 5:1-2 teaches us that ignoring overt sin is not spiritual, but rather proves a prideful attitude. Many believe that toleration of such sin is evidence of spiritual maturity. Dealing with it in any way other than as the Bible instructs is also evidence of an unspiritual attitude.

I Corinthians 11: 1-15 discusses the subject of a man wearing long hair, or a woman wearing short hair. This issue became a standard that many used as indicating a spiritual or un spiritual condition. Verse 16 says " but if any man be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God. The verse makes it clear that the Apostles did not demand such a standard, nor do God's churches. Those who hold such standards are not under God's control. Paul goes on to condemn the church for their stance in verse 17.

Many believe that speaking in tongues is evidence of spirituallity. Paul gives guidelines for speaking in tongues in the church in ! Corinthians 14:26-28. Everything done in the Church is to be for the purpose of building up others. Thus, no more than 2 or 3 are to speak in tongues during a single service. They are to speak one at a time, and if no interpreter is available, they are not to speak at all. I Corinthians 14:37 tells us that a spiritual person will recognize these commands as coming from God. One who does not is ignorant of spiritual matters.

Mistaking these or other imitations for spirituality exposes the church, and the individual to serious risks. "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: ..." (John 6:63). Without the spirit, there is no life, no power. Defeat is inevitable.

This is probably the primary reason the church has such a small impact in today's world. Learn to identify true spirituality. Jesus tells us "by their fruit ye shall know them." Galatians 5:22-23 describes the fruit of the spirit. "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." The Spirit will produce all of these if he is in control.

The passages dealing with qualifications for bishops in I Timothy 3:1-9 and Titus 1:5-9 are written to help the church determine who are spiritual men and who are not. It is critical, if the church is to please God, that leaders be spiritual. It is impossible to teach othere what one does not know himself.