…sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.
And a couple of news stories occurring this week are proving that nearly true.
Pope Francis, fresh off granting plenary indulgences to 1,000s of young people just for showing up to one of his gigs (sorry, Martin Luther, all that work for nothing, I guess) and for announcing you don’t even have to believe in God to get into God’s heaven after all, has now issued a statement regarding the Catholic priesthood and homosexuality as an orientation.
Now, I’m not claiming I understand his words fully, especially some of the nuances employed, but I must say I’m not that far removed from his position. Let me explain. The Pope said this:
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge them?”
First, who am I to judge…if judge means to condemn. According to our Lord Jesus, they’re already condemned if they do not believe in Him…
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3.16–18, ESV, emphasis mine)
I do not need to judge to condemn. By their own sin and nature, they are condemned…as was I until that moment I first believed. They remain condemned until they, too, by God’s grace through faith receive Jesus as the Christ and Lord of their lives. Okay so far.
‘seeks God and has good will’––I will have to disagree quite strongly with the pontiff on this one. Good will never gets anyone through those pearly gates into the presence of the One who created them and was rejected outright by them.
He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1.11–13, ESV, emphasis mine)
‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. (Romans 9.15–16, ESV, emphasis mine)
Me thinketh the Pontiff knoweth now his Scriptures. Well, actually, he probably knows them quite well. It’s just this little doctrine Rome created wa-a-ay back when that tells everyone since that time that the Holy, Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible, Authoritative Word of God Himself doesn’t mean quite as much as the words of men in the church to whom the Word of God was given, not derived. So, no matter what God says, man says different and if he wears a large, pointy hat (well, okay, in this pope’s case, just the plain headcovering), then he has the authority to tell us what God must have really meant, instead of just what He said. Sigh!
Finally, the Pope began with these words, ‘If a gay person…’
I just reviewed a short book that addresses my concern with phrasing. If a person wants to have their entire identity sunk into their own sexuality, then so be it. Just don’t expect any sympathy from me. However, if they wish to speak about same sex attraction, then we can start there and move forward in a reasonable discussion. I’m trying to make sense of this in the article about the pope’s statement. He continues to refer to a person’s orientation. Someone brighter than I will have to help me see if this is the same as SSA or if this is an acquiescence to the whole ‘I am what I am’ issue.
The second article that’s sure to cause a hullabaloo is this:
Fascinating. First off, I’m not sure God’s afraid of anyone, let alone a homosexual. If He is, then we’ve got more problems than whether gays have rights (which they do, they absolutely do; it’s a whole different discussion if you want to start talking whether they have privileges or benefits or not).
Here’s what one person, over at the Good Book Company’s blog had to say about it yesterday (I can’t get a link to work, so sorry I can’t connect to it directly, but as Lavar Burton used to say on Reading Rainbow, ‘you don’t have to take my word for it’…or maybe you do!):
Let’s take a closer look at them. In reality, he is saying something quite like this …
Dear God, I’d like to analyse your character for a moment, if that’s alright. I don’t wish to be presumptuous but I’d like to check that your views fit with mine. You see, I live in the 21st century which might be a bit modern by your standards. We’ve worked out how the world is meant to be and it’s important that you don’t say or do anything to mess that up. In particular, I’d like to review your teaching on sexuality. It’s the issue of today and we don’t want you being all controversial…
I want you to know that my views on this subject are quite firm. There is no way I will tolerate any teachings that don’t fit with mine. Even a hint of wayward doctrine from your heavenly throne and I’m off. When you call me home, I’ll say “thanks but no thanks”. I’ll pass on the glories of heaven, bought at such a high price by your Son and offered to me through your loving grace, and opt for the eternal agonies of damnation. My life. My right to choose. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me. Just thought you’d like to know where you stand…
It’s not hard to spot the errors, the logical inconsistencies are glaring. In one simple sentence: he has forgotten the small matter of sovereignty.
And he’s not the only person to have fallen into that trap.
As humans, many of us can get so passionate about a cause – a good cause – that we forget to submit to God’s will and instead get carried away with our own rhetoric. For some it’s politics, social justice, human rights, animal rights – the list is endless. A litany of good causes about which we get so zealous that humility and submission go out of the window. And in the process God is portrayed, to a lost world, as out-dated, weak-willed and easy to over-rule.
He is not that small!
In the words of the book of Job, his response to us when we treat him like that:
“Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (Job 40:2)
We can praise God greatly that he isn’t a homophobic God who condones mob violence. All are welcome to repent and believe in his Son. But we can also praise God for those aspects of his character that we find more difficult … because if there is a difference of opinion between what God says and what we want, let’s face it – it’s unlikely to be us who are correct! We don’t get to choose what’s right and what’s wrong. And we never will …
And so, let the discussion begin!
I was born in central Iowa, raised in a godly home with two first generation Christian parents. The Evangelical Free Church of Madrid, Iowa was where I heard the teaching of the Word of God all my “growing up” years. There were some of the most dear and faithful servants of our Lord serving there, who will never be known around the world, but will hear (or, as is the case for some already, have heard) their Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your rest.”
When I was between the ages of 12 & 13, I attended Bible camp at Twin Lakesin northwest Iowa. Pastor Don Stover (another of those saints who has entered God’s rest) was telling us the story of Pilgrim’s Progress using blacklight flannel graph (really cool high-tech in 1970!). When Christian gets to the foot of the cross and his burden of sin rolls away into the empty tomb, God had me. I was gloriously converted to Jesus Christ, my Savior.
God’s call to the ministry was a long, gradual process through which He used many people to lead me and confirm within me His will to be a minister. He also used one or two key people to bring me to the doctrines of grace. I had been in ministry for about 6 years when the light of these truths were shown so brightly to me. I trust that I have grown in my understanding of them and have caused others to rejoice in the absolute free sovereign grace of our God.
I have been married for 29 years and have three children.I have earned a B.A. from Trinity College (now Trinity International University)in Biblical Studies, and later earneda MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, have served four Evangelical Free churches since 1986, and am currently the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Rochester, MN since 1997.
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