Tag Archives: Evangelical Christianity

God’s Representative On Earth

I’m about to get controversial again, y’all. ¬†ūüėČ

I’ve actually been percolating on this since before Thanksgiving, but hadn’t really known how to frame my thoughts until this week.¬† I want to organize my argument, my discussion around a concept that has been with the Church for ages: God’s representative on earth.

I guarantee you I just made some ex-Catholic Evangelical cringe a little bit, because one of the older forms God’s representative on earth has taken is¬†the Pope.¬†¬†For the benefit of non-Catholics or people who have been ill- or under-exposed to Catholicism, the Catholic Church believes the Popes are spiritual descendants of Peter, the rock upon whom Christ promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18).¬† Until the Reformation, it was widely accepted that the Popes spoke for God.¬† Then King Henry VIII formed a popular opinion that a monarchy of a given nation was God’s representative on earth to that nation.

And we Evangelical Christians might get a little high and mighty, because we’ve been enlightened, and haven’t believed Popes and monarchs are God’s representatives on earth for hundreds of years. (Especially not here in the U.S.A. where we are all about no authority but ourselves).¬† We don’t put mere men on such pedestals.

I’m here to tell you, in case you were not already aware, that this issue of putting men on pedestals is alive and well in Evangelical Christendom.¬† Among those who are aware that this is indeed an issue, it is popular practice to blame the men on the pedestals, especially when they fall into sin and are not held accountable for it.¬† After all, being on a pedestal, they’re just asking for it, aren’t they?

I want to invite us all to take a look at ourselves as we look at God’s representation on earth.

“Now then, we are ambassadors [or representatives] for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (1 Corinthians 5:20).

In Christ, we are ALL new creatures, and all representatives for Christ.¬† But is the position¬†one where we are to assume authority in the lives of others, telling them how to live, forcing issues that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things? NO! The only message¬†I’ve been given from God to deliver on God’s behalf, the only message any human has been given from God on God’s behalf, is to implore, to beseech, to beg people to be reconciled, restored, brought back into a right relationship with God!

How is it then¬†that we have so many men and women on pedestals in Evangelical Christendom today? And how is it that we place sole blame for these pedestals on the people¬†who are on them as if we their worshippers haven’t put them there?

I’ve seen a lot of disappointment on the internet over the past few months concerning two leaders in Evangelical Christendom who have committed sin and been dealt with publicly.¬† I’ve never idolized either man, although I had more respect for one than I had for the other; no, I’ve always recognized them as being human just like me, and being equal representatives for Christ, even though both have far greater influence than I ever hope or desire to have.¬† I’m not reeling from the revelation of these sins, but other people are. And in their understandable pain, they tack all of the blame onto these two men.

While these men are most definitely responsible for their sin, they are not responsible for the places others have given them in their hearts and lives.

I have been reminded a number of Sundays in the past couple of months that all humans are created to worship something: if we don’t make THE God our God, we will make something else our god.¬† And isn’t that what we have done with so many of these men and women in Evangelical Christendom? Haven’t we exalted them, their teachings, their methods without considering the One who calls and enables them? Isn’t HE the one who deserves the praise, the adoration? Don’t put that on these men, that is on us and our treacherous hearts, ever looking to someone or something besides God!

Let me break it down: I grew up in the church.¬† I have seen the failures of its leaders up close and personal since I was a very little girl, and for many years I was incredibly resentful.¬† Although it has been nearly ten years, I remember very clearly the day I gave up on the church, I remember how angry I was over deceit from the pulpit, and how I told my mom that if that person named names and lied again from the pulpit I would walk out the door of that church and never go back.¬† I remember my mom calling my dad and having him talk to me because of how upset I was.¬† And I remember my dad telling me that God would deal with this person and hold him accountable, but I would also be held accountable for my response.¬† And frustrating though it was for many years, this was always and continues to be my dad’s counsel concerning me and any issues I have with the church. And hard as it was for me to admit when I realized it, my dad is right.

I was looking to the wrong people, to the wrong things even, for things only God could give me.  Being a jealous God, He made sure I could not get what He wanted to give me anywhere else. 

I can now love the church better, even love its leaders better, accepting their humanity, making room for when they fall.¬† I’m not saying their sin is any less sinful, but it doesn’t leave me reeling anymore, because I’ve come to see them the way I’m supposed to. It’s true for you, too, however little you want to accept it: if you have been completely disoriented by the failures of men, you have placed them in too high a position in your heart.

I close with a snippet from Martin Luther:

“[Idolatry]¬†consists not merely in erecting an image and worshiping it, but rather in the heart, which stands gaping at something else, and seeks help and consolation from creatures, saints, or devils, and [does not] care for God.”

 

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Victory and Redemption

Today is where the subject of broken sexuality gets sticky.  Like, really sticky.  I know what I believe about this topic, but I also know what others (on both sides of the debate) believe. Like everything else I write about, I want to handle this with grace and compassion AND truth and authority.

I believe broken sexuality was introduced to the world because of the fall, like every other form of brokenness.¬† (Examples of broken sexuality can include, but are not limited to sexual abuse of children, rape, adultery, sexual immorality, homosexuality,¬†feminism, manosphere, viewing pornography, and masturbation in that they fall outside of God’s original design for sexual relationships being shared¬†between one man and one woman).¬† We know that sin produces a distance from God, and I think rampant broken sexuality in our culture is the direct result of our collective distance from God as human beings.

After the fall, God introduced the law to His people, the Israelites.¬† The law can be viewed as God’s code of expected behavior for His people, and it contains MANY laws concerning sexual conduct. I believe the purpose of the law was to¬†keep His people close to Him.¬† The problem was that nobody could obey the entire law, and they were stuck in a cycle of punishment and animal sacrifice.¬† Keeping the law was impossible for broken people. So God sent His Son, Jesus to bear the punishment for the sin of the human race.¬† He was perfect in that He did not sin and was able to keep God’s law perfectly.¬† His death and resurrection opened the door to a relationship with God for broken people who accept His work on their behalf: it was a redemptive act, an act of buying back, or restoring something to its intended position. Not only that, but¬† Jesus took away the power and the penalty of sin for those who believe in Him (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).

How does this good news about Jesus apply to the broken sexuality we see all around us?

Let me be clear: as a believer in Jesus Christ as my Savior from sin, I am not sinless.  Not even close.  However, I am no longer obligated, or enslaved to sin (see Romans 6, I truly cannot pick one verse from that chapter).  Since I am a believer, I have the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17, 16:7-11), I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and His indwelling presence (Galatians 2:20), and I have at my disposal everything needed for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

This means as a believing single woman, I do not have to seek to satisfy my sexual needs outside of a covenant relationship, although I may be tempted to.  It means that a Christian lesbian does not have to enter a relationship (committed or otherwise) with another woman, although she may struggle with same sex attraction. It means that a Christian man married to a woman who for whatever reason is not meeting his sexual needs does not have to take his needs to another woman, although he may be tempted to.

You see, temptation is not a sin.  It is when we act on our temptation that we sin.  Acting on temptation is usually a result of either dwelling too much on the temptation or trying to deal with it ourselves.  We need to go to God with our temptation!  I think there are places and situations that make us more vulnerable to temptation, and we should know our own triggers and avoid them, but temptation is going to come whether we make ourselves vulnerable or not. The good news is we can have victory over temptation because of the resources we have in Christ.

Knowing Jesus has changed A LOT in my life over the course of MANY years, but nothing has changed about the fact that I am a sexual being and that I desire sexual intimacy. (Too much information?)¬† I pray (pretty much every day, haha) for God to bring me a husband or to minimize this desire.¬† Two years in, He hasn’t answered either prayer in the affirmative, and He’s certainly not obligated to any time in the future.¬† I talk to God in great detail about this desire, and even if He never satisfies it the way I want it satisfied, it still will have drawn me closer to and made me far more dependent on Him.¬† In no way am I to take this matter into my own hands.

And so I have to come back to homosexuality for a minute.¬†¬†I don’t think homosexuality is any more broken or sinful than any other expression of fallen sexuality.¬† I really don’t.¬† (If I did think of one on my list as most broken, it would undoubtedly be sexual abuse of children, but I can’t say authoritatively that God sees that the way I do).

I hear many stories in evangelical Christianity of homosexuals coming to Christ, and how¬†He transforms their sexuality, and I love hearing those stories.¬† I think, however, as evangelical Christians, we¬†need to acknowledge that this is not every gay person’s¬†testimony. Some¬†gay people come to Christ, and still¬†deal day in and day out with same sex attraction, and because of this, they may fall into sin.¬†Some¬†people were Christians before they realized/acknowledged they¬†struggled with same sex attraction and/or homosexual expression.

These people have my sympathy and compassion, but I cannot condone homosexual marriages or relationships, just as I cannot condone a pornography or masturbation habit, sexual immorality, or¬†adultery.¬†All of these things fall outside of God’s original design for sexuality, regardless of where our feelings, desires, or temptations lie. ¬†It goes back to my earlier point: no matter how much we surrender to God, sometimes He does not take our desires away.¬† It’s not because He is okay with us acting on our desires, but because not acting on our desires draws us closer to Him, makes us depend on Him in times of great weakness.

I want to tell you and I want to tell myself that hey, it’s okay:¬† God doesn’t really expect us to live according to His standards for sexuality.¬† He doesn’t really think we can, because we’re all just broken people anyway.¬† But that wouldn’t be truthful, because He is clear that in Him we have everything we need. We cannot sacrifice His standards for our¬†feelings, desires, or temptations.

I acknowledge it is not easy; in fact, most days, it’s very hard.¬† I acknowledge that these are legitimate struggles, not to be squashed down and ignored.¬† I get it, and I’m with you (all of you)¬†on this journey.¬† I want us all to have safe people with whom to talk and pray about our sexual brokenness, people who won’t make us feel bad about ourselves, but I also acknowledge that in God’s presence is the safest place to be in this struggle.

If you’re a believer in Jesus as Savior from sin, your identity is not founded in brokenness anymore, it’s founded in redemption and victory.¬† God wants to use your brokenness for His glory, and don’t ever let anyone trick you into thinking He can’t or He won’t.¬† And God gives you everything you need for victory over sin; just haul those feelings, desires and temptations before Him every single time, and great things will happen.

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re All Broken

Yesterday I posed a question: What are some examples of broken or fallen sexuality you see in our culture today? (Read: how is sexuality misused or has fallen away from God’s design since the fall?)

This is a question I’ve been pondering lately because of two things: a news article about a child sex offender and the testimony of a gay Christian man.

I read this article two days ago: “John Burbine, 50, was arrested in September 2012, and faces 100 criminal counts related to sexual assault of children, ranging in age from 8 days to 3-1/2 years, to whom he gained access through his wife’s unlicensed day-care business” (MSN).¬† To be sure, this is disturbing by itself, but I was most unsettled by this comment from his lawyer: “His inability to conform his desires, or his behavior, is all oriented towards sex, and so what we said is: ‘What about treatment?’ We would put forth a bilateral orchiectomy.”¬† That’s right, this man cannot change his desires, which in turn affect his behavior, and so his lawyer has proposed castration in order to lessen his prison time.¬† I was disgusted by this man’s excuse that he simply can’t rewire his desires, his refusal to take responsibility for his own actions.¬† What kind of pervert desires children sexually?

But what I think produced the most turmoil within me was the fact that I use this argument frequently when speaking on behalf of gay people, particularly those gay people within the church: they cannot help what they are attracted to.¬† And I use this argument because I know I cannot help what I am attracted to (speaking on a purely physical level here).¬† I don’t remember a time when I sat down and had a conversation with myself where I said, “Okay, Lydia, you are attracted to men, and not just any men, but men who exhibit these physical qualities.”¬† Some girls look at what physically attracts me, and they raise their eyebrows, because it’s not the same as what attracts them.

For a separate research project, later that evening I began to do some research on testimonies of Christians who struggle or have struggled with same sex attraction, and I came across Matthew Vines’ testimony and exegesis on Bible passages concerning homosexuality.¬†¬†Although I disagree greatly with his interpretation of the New Testament passages, I greatly sympathize with his struggle as a gay man in the Church.¬† Well, I say I sympathize, but I’m reasonably certain I can’t even begin to imagine, although I’m trying to – I really am.

In his argument, he brings up the term “broken sexuality,” and by it I believe he refers to what evangelical Christians see as anything outside of God’s design before sin entered the world; that is, anything outside of the one-man-one-woman¬†sexual design.¬† Even the most sympathetic evangelical Christian sees homosexuality as broken or fallen sexuality – sexuality directly related to the entrance of sin into the world, a fact that causes Mr. Vines and other gay brothers and sisters in Christ a great deal of pain.¬† Understandably so: none of us like to¬†acknowledge the brokenness and fallenness in ourselves.

I would agree with the prevailing evangelical Christian view that homosexuality is one example of¬†broken or fallen sexuality, but it is not the only example of broken or fallen sexuality, nor would I say it is the most broken or most fallen example.¬† I think that to some degree or another, all of us have something broken in our sexuality, and none of us are 100% living out God’s intended design.

So what are some other examples of broken or fallen sexuality?¬† And you know what, yesterday I asked about our culture, but I’m going to narrow it down to the Church.

  • Sexual abuse of children.¬† Something is broken or fallen¬†in a person who sexually abuses a child.
  • Rape.¬† Something is broken or fallen in a person who sexually forces themselves on another.
  • Adultery.¬† Something is broken or fallen in¬†people who fulfill their sexual desires outside of their covenant relationship with their spouses and God.
  • Feminism and the Manosphere.¬† Something is broken or fallen in people who think it is their role to dominate in a relationship.

It’s not exclusive to gay people: brokenness and fallenness exist in all of us.

So what is the answer?¬† Stick with me and you’ll find out!

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I Want To Have a Conversation

I want to have a conversation.

It’s about something I feel we either oversimplify or mischaracterize or ignore altogether in Evangelical Christendom. It’s making¬†evangelical Christians (with whom I mostly identify)¬†woefully unprepared not just to engage the lost, but to address the issue with brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with it.¬† I think as believers in general and evangelical Christians we ought to be informed about the issue especially as it relates to the Church, and compassionate towards those who struggle with it, especially other believers AND we need to balance our information and compassion with the truth and authority of God’s Word.

I don’t want to be the one to facilitate this conversation.¬† I am afraid it will end up into little more than a debate, with each side painting the other with some pretty broad strokes.¬† It’s a passion-fueled topic no matter where you find yourself along its spectrum.¬† And I feel unqualified.

And yet, I want to have this conversation.¬† I can’t write a post like I did yesterday and announce that I’m sick of the arguments over things that don’t matter, while completely ignoring the things that do.

Y’all, I want to talk about sexuality as it relates to the fall; broken, or fallen sexuality. I primarily want to talk about it with evangelical Christians, but anyone is welcome to weigh in with their thoughts.¬† This conversation will be heavily moderated. I won’t hesitate to remove broad generalizations and less than gracious comments/responses.¬† I want to have a productive conversation here.

So here is my question for today: What are some examples of broken or fallen sexuality you see in our culture today? (read: how is sexuality misused or has fallen away from God’s design since the fall?) Feel free to comment on whatever comes to mind! (But, you know, do it in a way that complies with my guidelines above).

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