August 19, 2019

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

tablecoffee.jpgI’ll be putting an essay in this space in a few days, but until then, check out Scot Mcknight’s blog, and especially the series of posts on “Jesus and Homosexuality.” Here are two quotes”

So, I begin right here: How would Jesus have “treated” homosexuals? The answer to that question is incredibly simple: he would have treated them as Eikons, as human beings made in God’s image who are designed to reflect God’s glory in this world by relating to God lovingly, to themselves lovingly, to others lovingly, and to the world lovingly. They would have been welcomed at the table of discussion, they would have been invited to listen to him, to interact with him, to follow him, and to fellowship with his followers. They would have been challenged to live before God as Jesus taught. In short, they would have been loved by Jesus. Not shunned; not humiliated; not ostracized; but given a seat for as long as they cared to be with him. He would have told everyone and anyone that there was a seat (or place; they didn’t use chairs) at the table for them…

If I may, I’d like to draw a significant conclusion at this point: the walls around Jesus were permeable. The walls of most churches are impermeable. Those in and those out are clear. I find the recent trend of many Christians, many of whom are “emerging” folk, to create environments where the walls are permeable to be one of the most significant features of the emerging movement and these environments have the capacity to unleash kingdom power. Jesus’ table fellowship, which is the heart of his mission, is more like coffee discussions at coffee shops or what a student calls “party evangelism” or “porch missions” than it is like “church” as we now know it and do it.

The implications of Jesus’ intentional creation of a level of community that included, rather than excluded, those outside the covenant boundaries, are significant and challenging.

Comments

  1. Yet at the same time the reason why Jesus allowed the creation of such a “community” was not an implied acceptance of their sinfulness, but rather as a means of helping them. Jesus’ acceptance of prostitutes and tax collectors into his midst was his way of reaching out and healing these people. Even the woman caught into adultery, after Jesus had saved her from the stone throwing mob (“he has no sin may cast the first stone”), was counselled to “sin no longer”.

    In this sense, then, if the church is to emulate Jesus’ behaviour here, is to remain steadfastly opposed to the sinfulness of homosexuality while, paradoxically, reaching out in love to homosexual people.

    Modern evangelicals do not understand this notion. For them, remaining steadfast to the bible’s clear teaching about homosexuality has been reduced to voting for the Republican party and political agitation through agencies like Focus on the Family. None of this is present in the scriptures. Peter, Paul and John nowhere encourage the church to rise up and take the Roman empire for Christ and make it subject to God’s laws. Instead, the message we read in the Epistles concerns a deep yet simple understanding of the Gospel, and a desire for all believers to live godly, obedient lives. In this sense, sin within the church – within the covenant community – is the focus, not sin outside the covenant community.

  2. I also need to point out that, about ten years ago, my wife and I had dinner with a lesbian woman and her partner. We even arranged to sleep over that night in their spare bedroom. They knew we were Christians who believed that homosexuality was wrong, but they enjoyed our company all the same. They made us a Thai chicken curry if my memory serves me correctly…

  3. The “church’s” stand on homosexuality is irrelevant, and by the quotes I mean those who proclaim to be part of God’s Church but clearly do not practice or are governed by the Word of God. The TRUE church’s stand on homosexuality has been and always will be that homosexuality is wrong and is a sin. If you read through Romans Paul is explicitly clear that man’s problem all along has been that he has EXCHANGED the glory of God for something else. He has saught out his own ways to please himself. In v. 23 of Rom. 1 we see they “exchanged the the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” In v. 25, we see again that they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” In v. 27 we now see that “IN THE SAME WAY also the men ABANDONED the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, MEN WITH MEN committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” God’s Word is what reigns supreme, not mans rationalizations. We cannot excuse this in any way. Does this mean we hate homosexuals? NO – in no way. I am sure Paul would have loved and cared for their souls enough to share with them the truth of what God says about homosexuality. TOLERANCE is the horrible word used in the place of LOVE. But true LOVE is pointing out to people that if they continue in their sins without repentance they will go to hell. Let’s not let the world and culture dictate how we as Christians should act, but rather hold everything up to the light of Scripture!
    In regards to communion and church membership that I saw on McKnights blog, I am appalled by the lack of conviction by these comments! No one who is a homosexual can partake in communion for the blood of Christ does not apply to them unless they repent. Let’s not forget I Cor. 11:26-30, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. BUT LET A MAN EXAMINE HIMSELF, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself, if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.

    Let’s not fool ourselves. We as Christians are called to love the unrighteous, for at one point we were as well. However, let’s call homosexuality for what it is: SIN. And no that no homosexual will enter the kingdom of heaven. Let’s love them by telling them that rather than rationalizing it for them and deceiving them right into hell.

  4. jAmes: good point, and I agree we need to remember all the time that same-sex thoughts and deeds in all their manifestations are a sin. I also appreciate that although we all know this, it still needs to be said, cos there are a lot of people who are scared to say it sometimes (myself included!).

    But one question: I struggle against – and sometimes don’t even bother to struggle against – pride, anger, straight lust, self-pity, selfishness and a few other things I won’t name in a public forum. Does the fact that, as it were, I don’t hate my sin as much as I wish I did mean that I can’t take communion? Surely it’s only the fact that I *can* take communion that gives me any hope in the battle against sin at all!

    Now don’t misunderstand me: I get what you mean – that if someone’s deliberately in unrepentant sin, choosing to live a gay lifestyle or be in a gay relationship or whatever, they cannot take communion in all honesty because they’re unrepentant. That’s absolutely true and I completely agree with you. But I think what I take issue with is your saying, “No-one who is a homosexual can partake in communion.” What about a person who, for instance, struggles with gay thoughts? Is my straight lust forgiveable and their gay lust not?

    I wonder if you could rephrase that so that it doesn’t condemn people who *are* on the road of repentance but still – like all of us – find themselves trying to breathe life into the old, dead self that they had before they met Jesus.

    All the best,

    N

  5. I think you’ve answered the question yourself. You said “that if someone’s deliberately in unrepentant sin, choosing to live a gay lifestyle.” I believe that being a homosexual is a choice, you are not born that way. Therefore, to live in a homosexual lifestyle is unrepentant rebellion towards God. The person you spoke of, “struggles with gay thoughts” would be the same as me dealing with anger. A homosexual would be one who acts upon those thoughts, embraces the homosexual movement, lives a lifestyle with no regard for what God’s Word has to say. To me, you have created two different people.

    Can a person struggle with lust and still be a Christian? Yes, of course. However, a Christian will have the desire to repent and turn, not because they feel guilty, but because they know that it does not glorify God and they are sinning against him. Their way of life is bent towards honoring and serving God because he has given them a new heart. An unrepentant homosexual who lives the lifestyle, cannot take communion because Christ’s blood and body does not apply to him at that point. If he were to repent and give His life to Christ, he would then be able to participate in communion, even if he were to “struggle” w/ his old lifestyle.

    Paul was addressing the people in Corinth who were abusing the Lord’s Supper. Men and women who had not accepted Christ and were flippantly partaking in communion because everyone else was. He did not want them associating w/ the body of Christ because he did not know them. Paul was giving a warning to these people to examine themselves and make sure you are partaking of things you know of and live by, if not….some died because of the judgment of God.

    I think we need to be firm from the pulpit in explaining what communion is to the congregation, and obviously chruch’s that accept homosexuals as deacons, elders, pastors, etc in their church cannot do this because they are in complete rejection of God’s Word. We need to explain how seriously we should take communion. I believe if the church preaches a true gospel to its people and explained the seriousness of communion that a homosexual would either 1) not want any part of communion, or 2) repent from their sins that they may partake in the forgiveness of Christ. However, because church’s today sugar coat the gospel and only preach easy-beliefism, you have homosexuals thinking they are completely fine w/ taking communion and that should be a huge rebuke to that “church”.

    In Christ

  6. jAmes:

    “The person you spoke of, “struggles with gay thoughts” would be the same as me dealing with anger. A homosexual would be one who acts upon those thoughts, embraces the homosexual movement, lives a lifestyle with no regard for what God’s Word has to say. To me, you have created two different people.”

    Ah, good stuff! Then we’re cool. Thanks for the clarification. I’m especially encouraged by:

    “If he were to repent and give His life to Christ, he would then be able to participate in communion, even if he were to “struggle” w/ his old lifestyle.”

    which is exactly what I was hoping to say.

    Thanks, fella.

  7. Actually, while I think we probably still disagree on a couple of things, and it’ll be interesting to see what we both think to the eventual iMonk post, I’d just like to say that your whole second paragraph in that last comment is brilliant and, actually, kind of inspiring.

    “a Christian will have the desire to repent and turn, not because they feel guilty, but because they know that it does not glorify God and they are sinning against him”

    Beautiful, glorious distinction of grace.

    Have a good, God-filled day.