Thoughts on #Pridemonth
This is a tough one. Tough because it says things I know people are not going to like. And, I don't like it when you don't like me. Haha. Selfish, perhaps? Yes. Sooooo, I am writing this post because I can't keep quiet about it. I have seen this everywhere. Posts, ads, commercials, articles, news feeds, memes- you name it. It's everywhere. Because it's that month. You know..? If you don't know, well, I'm telling you. It's #pridemonth.
Pride month? Yes. Pride month. Meaning that all those who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community are celebrating and promoting their orientations (whatever those may be) in a month long celebration of their personal sexual choices and identities as they have personally defined them or are discovering them to be at this time.
Now, part of me just wants to say nothing or do nothing because people don't understand nor do they want to understand where I am coming from in what I am going to say. I make excuses in my brain that "it's so-and-so's choice; I can't change them; I am going to say the wrong things; people won't like me"... and so on. You get the point. But, the truth of the matter is that I need to say something and I am going to say something because this whole things makes me sad. And, because as I learn more about these situations as well as learning more about myself and my own tendencies and desires, I want other people to know where I am actually coming from when it comes to a response to the LGBTQIA+ community.
In the last couple weeks, I have seen the following comments or criticisms:
Christians needs to stop thinking they know what God says about how people are born. Didn't God make everyone? And doesn't God not make mistakes? So, leave trans people alone. If they are born that way and God made them that way, why are you saying that's wrong?
It's my choice. I can still be a person of faith and be transgender.
God loves everyone. So, you should, too.
Jesus didn't judge people, so you should stop playing God and let me live my life.
Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality. That was only in the Old Testament. Stop creating an issue where there isn't one. Jesus loves everyone.
Doesn't everyone make bad choices? So, why are you focusing on gender issues when there's bigger sins out there? I'm not hurting you by living this way.
God wants us to be happy. So, if this makes me happy, then you should be happy for me.
Identity is defined by how I think about myself and my relationships. You can't choose that for me. That's my personal choice. Stop trying to run my life or to tell me how to live.
These are just a few of the comments I have noticed recently. After I read them, my heart, really, just hurts. Why? Because when you accuse me of things that are not true, it makes me sad. You want me to understand where you are coming from, yet you don't want to hear where I am coming from on this issue. You just accuse me of being intolerant or insensitive or narrow-minded, or a bigot. And, I am not. I am a person, just like you. I was created the same way you were- by God. I have struggles just like you. I am a person who has struggled with identity and belonging and finding out who I am. And, in these struggles, I have learned a lot about the human mind, the human heart (meaning the emotions and desires by which we often make decisions or choices), and the body and how God has created them to function together for a purpose. So, here I want to tackle a few of these issues and try to lovingly share with you what God really does say about you, about LGBTQIA+, and how I actually view you and your choices. In this, I can't necessarily speak for everyone in the Christian community (I will use that term very loosely), but this is what I have learned from the Word of God and this has changed, shaped, and transformed my thinking and beliefs about this issue. .
First, we want to start with how God actually created things. If you say that "God created you this way", how do you actually know that he did? And, in that, are you actually admitting God is real and in control? Let's say, "Yes". Because then, we can start on the same launching point together. The basis for all these issues will come directly from the Word of God. I am not taking comments or criteria from other people, but simply using the Word of God, itself, unmasked and uncut. So, the very beginning. Genesis 1. God created everything. He created light, darkness, night, day, earth, sky, water, trees, plants, fish, birds, animals. In verse 26, we read, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth', So God created man in his own image in the image of God he created him; male and female, and he blessed them. ...And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good." Then, in chapter 2, we read that God formed a man out of the dust of the ground, breathed life into his nostrils, and then placed him in the good garden he had created to keep it and care for it. God observed the man was alone and created a helper for him, perfectly compatible and to complement him in this task he had been given to care for the earth. To do this, God took a rib from the man's side and formed a woman and brought her to the man. In chapter one, we see God had given the animals gender and identity (male and female) and had given them the command to be fruitful and multiply. This command was also in reference to the man and woman. The plan, in this good, perfect garden was to work, to live, to enjoy abundance and prosperity and fruitfulness. To live in harmony with one another, a delicate balance that was good and perfect and right. It all sounds so wonderful. There was nothing to hinder this perfect process and design. It was good, and God declared it be so, because that was the way he had created it. No mistakes.
But, then... something happened to distort this balance of goodness and perfection. We read in chapter three of the fall of man. Fall from what? Fall from perfection and goodness and God's design. What happened, exactly? The Bible tells us the serpent was crafty, Who was the serpent? I mean, just a serpent? Later on, we discover that this serpent embodied evil, intending to destroy what God had made. Throughout the Bible we discover more about evil and we read (primarily in the New Testament) of Satan. or the devil, who is subtle as a serpent, is a trickster, a destroyer, a deceiver who will stop at nothing to destroy God's ways and plan and people. Where did he come from? God created him (as he did everything). He was an angel of light. Yet, he chose to defy God's plan for him, instead, boasting himself to be God. And, of course, this was not true. Because he couldn't create himself or create the world or anything like what God had created. So because of this boastful, prideful claim, God cast him out of heaven and out a right relationship with himself. And, the angel of light became the angel of darkness. Opposed in every way to God and what was good. Evil vs. good. And, in this the man and woman were given a choice. God had created them perfectly. God made no mistakes. He had created them male and female with no fault or imperfection in them. They were good. But, then, this good plan was distorted. How? By someone else? No. By the man and woman themselves. The serpent didn't make them do it. Evil didn't make them do it. It was a choice. And, because of a distortion of what was true, the man and woman chose to replace what God said with a subtle twist of truth, and in that moment, God's perfect world was no longer perfect. It was distorted. How? Because the man and woman did the one thing God told them not to do. They ate of the tree God told them not to eat. Why did they do it? Because they had an identity crisis. Literally. The serpent told them what God said wasn't true; that they deserved what God was denying them. And, they believed it. They rejected the identity, purpose, and design God gave them for a lie. And this changed the course of the world. "For as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." (Romans 5:19)
Wait, what? So, the reason there's death and evil is because Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent instead of God? Essentially, yes. And, just as that was their choice, so we are given choices every single day- to either believe what God says or to believe lies.
Okay. "But, I didn't choose to be born in evil," you might say. I know. Me neither. And, that's not the way God wanted it to be either. So, God told Adam and Eve, after their choice, that there would be an escape, eventually, from the lies of the Serpent. We read in Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." This doesn't sound very promising, especially as we read later on that God forbade Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden. Why? "Lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever." (Genesis 3:22) Why wouldn't God want the man and the woman to live forever now? Because they had tasted of evil and of good and should they live forever with that choice, God, in his wisdom knew that there would constantly be war between what was good and what was evil, so God gave them no option to eternally live with THAT power, knowing that it would be distorted (thankfully, God DID have a plan for eternal life, but man would die physically, and eternal life could be only granted on God's terms). So, he gave them no choice on eternal life. Rather, man would die. This is all very discouraging, I know. But, the point here is that God did make everything. He did make everything perfect. And, he doesn't make mistakes.
Who does make mistakes? We do. Wait.. .no, no, no. That can't be right. Um. yes, actually that is right. We are the ones that make the choices. After Adam and Eve leave the Garden and we continue reading through the Bible, we see this in Genesis 4:26: "At that time, people began to call upon the name of the LORD." Why is this verse significant? This verse reminds me that people are given a longing, a desire, an innate sense that they are responsible to, accountable to, and dependent on something stronger, wiser, more powerful than themselves. Some people call this "destiny" or "the powers in the universe" or just, "the universe". Mankind innately worships something. Our bodies and minds and hearts yearn to be devoted to something. So, we attempt to create things, do things, even worship things, with the thought that those things will satisfy us and make us better people. These are all choices. The focus, then of what we worship determines how we will live. If we worship ourselves, we will make choices that benefit ourselves. Makes sense, right? Think about your kids (or yourself as a kid). When your child is given a choice between two things, what do they typically choose? Typically, they choose that thing that benefits them- when they are younger, it's the thing that appeals most strongly to them in that present moment. As they get older and mature, it may be that "thing" or "person" they understand or feel will benefit them long term. Even philanthropic efforts are made with an effort to benefit ourselves. (Perhaps we believe that if we are good to people here on earth, the after-life or "death" won't be as grim a prospect as for one who is cruel or unkind).
"Okay, I get that, but what does this have to do with LGBTQ issues?" Good question. As I mentioned, we are all choosers. We choose, choose, choose every day. We are all given a free will to decide, to choose, to live how we want. In a perfect world, those choices would only benefit us, right? But, since we live in a broken world (remember Adam and Eve?) our choices are often met with criticisms, hurt, negative consequences, and pain. Why? Because choices made apart from an understanding of God are a distortion of the perfect world we so desperately want and crave. This is called sin or unrighteousness. And, we all experience it. The Bible tells us, "The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one" (Psalm 14: 2-3, see also Psalm 53:1-3 and Romans 3:10-12). The Bible further tells us that any good deeds or acts we attempt to do on our own are like "filthy rags" and that there are no righteous deeds we can do that will please or reconcile us to God (see Isaiah 64:6 and Titus 3:5-7). In this imperfect world, we make imperfect choices that lead us to live imperfect lives with no possibility of attaining perfection in and of ourselves. It just isn't possible. No amount of good I could do could ever match up to the perfection God has or the goodness God possesses. He is infinitely all the things we wish we could be and more- how do we know this? Because we go back to Adam and Eve. God declared everything to be good- and one little choice distorted that whole perfect balance. So, God could not be perfectly holy or good if he allowed one sinful, wrong choice to exist in his presence. He could not be perfectly just if he allowed that one sinful choice to be "okay" and not without consequence. He could not be perfectly in control or perfectly wise if he allowed man's decision to go against God's design to be allowable.
So, what do we do? How can we get back to the perfection God wants so we can live the life he wants us to have?
Well, the short answer is: "You need a new life."
"That's not possible", you retort.
Actually, it is.
When God promised to the serpent that the seed of the woman would crush his head, this foretold the coming of a Redeemer who would crush evil and restore righteousness for all mankind. We see the thread of this redemptive theme throughout the entire Old Testament as God promises his people a Redeemer, a Righteous Servant who will deliver his people and bring them back to God. This was the plan, from the very beginning. Planned by God the Father, executed by God the Son (Jesus), and manifested in the lives of those who believe by the power of God the Spirit.
As we continue through the Bible, we come to the end of the Old Testament and, in the New Testament we find the "story of Jesus". Who was Jesus? Spoiler: Jesus was THE REDEEMER!! He was THE ONE! The One God had been promising for years and years and years to reconcile all mankind to himself back to the beauty of perfection and righteousness and goodness.
"Oh, good," you're thinking. "Finally some good news."
YES! This is good news. But God's people didn't believe Jesus.
Yes. Because Jesus didn't come and redeem how they thought he would redeem. You see, people still didn't understand that their greatest need was not deliverance from their present circumstances. No, what they needed most was redemption from sin. Redemption from the distortion of God's design to restoration of that relationship. And, the problem was people couldn't make that restoration possible in and of themselves, so God himself had to come and complete the rescue. God himself would have to take on all the evil in the world and pay for it with his own righteous self. This was the only way evil could be defeated.
So, Jesus came. He was virgin-born, not conceived in sin (meaning a man-derived conception), like you and me. He lived a sinless life- meaning he never made a wrong decision or said a wrong word or thought a wrong thought. How can this be? Because he was God- we read many times throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) of Jesus declaring himself to be one with the Father (God).
"I and the Father are one..." (John 10:22-30)
"If you have seen me, you have seen the Father..." (John 14:9)
The book of John further records that Jesus (the Word) was God and that he was in the beginning with God (when everything was created as recorded in Genesis). See John 1
This means that Jesus was present, with God, at creation when the marriage relationship was designed. He was present when God gave all the rules about to his people about how to live. Jesus and God and the Spirit exist together in a Triune Godhead to create unity. And creation, specifically the marriage relationship, existed and was created to be a representation of the perfect relationship. So, why did God and Jesus and the Spirit make this plan where Jesus would have to come; why didn't people believe in him; and how did he atone for all unrighteousness?
He came to show his great love for us and that he wants us to return back to righteousness. He did this by showing us and explaining to us how to live- (insert passages on "not judging" and "loving God and your neighbor" as well as marriage and sexual relationships see Matthew 5-7; Matthew 19; Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:30-31; and Luke 10:27).
The problem with showing us and explaining to us how to live is that we couldn't, we can't, we never will be able to live these out the way Jesus did. So, in order for righteousness to be ours Jesus had to atone for our sin and unrighteousness. And he did this by dying. Dying a cruel, inhumane, painful death on a cross. Beaten, humiliated and bearing all kinds of evil falsely for our sakes. Why? Why did he do this and why did God allow it?
"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 (meaning show us even more how we can't be righteous!), but in order that the world might be saved through him." (John 3:16-17, emphasis mine)
Our greatest need is not to be delivered from our present situation or circumstance. Our greatest need is a Savior. One who can reconcile our sin and unrighteousness to God- and Jesus did this by "bearing our sins in his body on the tree (the cross)", that we who were unrighteous before God "might be made the righteousness of God in him". Remember how I mentioned we need a new life? This is what Jesus came and died to give us. In John 14:6, Jesus declared, "I am the way, the truth, and the life..." This was the Redemptive rescue. And, we all need it. We all need our unrighteousness replaced with the righteousness of Jesus. But, it's our choice. We either choose the righteousness of Christ to be imputed to us or we don't. It's pretty simple- yet, so hard at the same time. Because, remember Adam and Eve? We want so badly to be in control and to distort God's plan because of that free will God gave us. So, we choose. We choose every day how we will live, and essentially who and what we will worship. It's either God and his ways or me and my ways.
This affects everything. It affects marriage. It affects sex. It affects abortion. It affects government. It affects relationships. It affects how we speak (lies, gossip, criticism, complaining, and so on). It affects how we act (stealing, corruption, looking at stuff we shouldn't, hurting people physically, murder and so on). It affects how we think (selfish thoughts, cruel thoughts, perverted sexual thoughts, hateful thoughts). All these stem from our unrighteous state to produce all sorts of unrighteous thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions. And, we are all in this together.
Whether your choice is a blatant distortion of God's plan (meaning murder: killing a life God has created for your own benefit or engaging in a sexual act that perverts God's original design and purpose) or is a more secretive, subtle distortion (meaning "a little white lie" or "just a quick look" at porn or violence disguised as entertainment)- all these and more pervert the goodness, the holiness, the God who makes no mistakes, the righteousness, and the beauty God had originally designed. And, it's all wrong. Every bit.
That's why we all need Jesus. We all need something to worship. To believe. To which we devote our lives. We need the Truth. And we need the Life. And, Jesus is all these.
So, to answer your questions and criticisms, you must first come from the basis that we are all sinners. We are all unrighteous and all make unrighteous choices. That's a non-negotiable. Then, all choices stem from what you will do with that knowledge. Will you choose righteousness and restoration and new life to God? Or will you choose your present life of unrighteousness and separation from God?
Choosing one (righteousness) means you will then live by God's terms and for his glory.
Choosing the other (unrighteousness) means you live by your own terms and for your glory.
Both are hard and both have eternal repercussions.
Righteous living bears great responsibility as we then choose to live like Jesus. Bearing the imputed righteousness of Christ, knowing our eternal destiny is sealed in heaven, yet fumbling because we still wrestle with the pull and allure of unrighteousness.
Unrighteous living means there is no struggle with right and wrong. You will always make the wrong choice because you have no righteousness. So, essentially, there's no struggle because it is easy to live your way, how you want, and at your own whims. But, the eternal weight of the choice will cost you.
Because in the end, you can't control "destiny" or "fate" or "the universe". Only God does and will. And how you choose to worship here on earth will determine how you will worship in eternity: either with God forever in perfection or without God forever in eternal separation from him.
And, what you choose determines how you worship.
Okay, but what about all those so-called-Christians who still live however they want or are so judgmental and mean?
There's a lot of weight in that question and a lot of hard things we can't always explain or understand. The point is that those who choose the imputation of Christ's righteousness to their lives are given a great weight of responsibility to declare Jesus and live him out in this world. And this is very hard to do, because we don't always say it the way we should or live it the way we should. This is why there's grace. Grace not to live however we want, but grace to recognize that without Jesus we are condemned to eternal loss, eternal separation, and eternal distortion. And, so we live, making mistakes, yet going back to God and to his word to discover how to answer the questions so prevalent in our unrighteous society.
Without grace, we can't live to please God. Without the true love of God and without grace to make the change to be like Jesus, every choice we make is purely in self-worship.
I understand the weight of these choices. I lived a long time, not recognizing continued grace. I took of the imputation of Jesus, but kept trying to make it all about me. Trying to fabricate the words and righteousness of God to fit my agenda because I wanted to make everyone happy. And, it doesn't work. It causes pain. It causes hurt. And it causes confusion. A lot. So, unrighteous people were confused because I was living the way I wanted, essentially destroying my body by living an anorexic lifestyle. I was distorting the love and beauty God had designed for my life by still worshiping myself and my control. And righteous people were hurt because they understood I was twisting my view of God to make life all about me. I was making a mess of grace. I was following "my desires"; "what made me happy"; "what I wanted" (e.g. to be thin, accepted for how I looked, etc).
This is not what God has designed. You can't live however you want and still please God. It's not possible-ever. It's not possible as an unrighteous person and it's not possible of one who has the righteousness of Jesus. Yet, the amazing thing is that when you accept the grace of God in your life (in salvation and in continued living for him), you suddenly find that the desires you once had or thought were so important or thought that you needed so badly become less and less of a pull as you immerse yourself in what Jesus has to offer you. I am so grateful, every day, for grace. And, I cannot begin to tell you the changes it has wrought in the way I now view God, myself, my desires, other people, my life. He has changed everything. For good. For his glory. To exalt himself. This is bliss, dear ones! And the truth of God, of his creation, of Jesus, of his death and resurrection and the salvation and new life he offers you; of the Spirit and the work he does to bring change in our lives- all this is TRUE. And non-negotiable. Truth cannot change. It always remains true. It doesn't change based on culture or what people need to appeal to them in their current life.
This post is written in love. Love without the truth is not love at all. I want you to know, to understand, to consider the weight of the choices you are making. Whether that is to engage in the LGBTQIA+ lifestyle or to engage in whatever other lifestyle choice you are making- all of these choices must be weighed and will be weighed one day against the righteousness of Jesus.
And in this choice, you have either lived to please yourself or God.
And God wants so much for you to choose him. He loves you so much that he gave his son to die so you can be righteous! How can you reject so great a salvation? And, Christian, how can you so live that you cause others to be confused by the grace of God in your own life- not to be living however you want, not to judge, but to point people to Jesus?
There is so much more I could say, so many "nitty-gritties" in this I could point out or elaborate, but I won't. I will let God take this and use it however he will in your heart. In the end, he does the work- all of it! Praise be to him!
I want to end with this passage from I John 4:
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest (or shown) among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God (or could do anything to please him!) but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (or complete payment) for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." (verses 7-11, parentheses mine)
May we choose love. Not love we have made up or fabricated to please ourselves and our own agenda, but the love of God. The love that so loves that it gives everything up for the sake of righteousness. This is a hard thing, but God alone is worthy of this. Worthy of our praise, our adoration, and all our worship. He is worthy of having his way; it is the only way to truth and life. "Oh, Father- bind our wandering hearts to you, and may your Word grant light to us who so desperately need to know your truth in these days."
Additional Video Clips on LGBTQIA+ lifestyle:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87SWyTXSojY&t=328s (short clip by Voddie Baucham)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJG9CtaBXeM (short clip by Voddie Baucham)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zGdTvyg3HM (This clip is a testimony of a former gay man and prostitute. Very good!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anLxU9riiqA (This clip is of a former lesbian; long, but worth the watch: disclaimer- be careful listening to this around kiddos as she experienced a bit of trauma as a child.)
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mike+winger+homosexuality (This series of videos answers a lot of homosexual approaches and questions with a lot of Scripture.)