As I was saying earlier, there is a rock star mentality in the Church now days, where church leaders are almost like celebrities. Jesus is the Rock Star, however you would not know that to go to many of the churches today. Often the pastor is the object of all the adoration. I have much respect and reverence for men and women of God. I like nothing more than to sit at the foot of someone who can dispense Godly wisdom. However we are to worship God, not the pastor. We always brag about our religion. We aren’t like the others, we don’t worship wooden or golden idols, we have a LIVING God. It sounds good, but human nature is human nature. We like to have an object of focus, so often the pastor has become the idol. God will not share His Glory, so it will never last long, but this is a common occurrence.
To the saints: this is yet ANOTHER wake up call. Worship God not man. Do not go into despair, do not say to yourselves, “if a man as great as Bishop Long cannot follow the precepts of God, what hope is there for me?” This isn’t about Bishop Long’s relationship to God, it is about your own. If your spiritual stability is dependent on the spiritually stability of anyone but you and God, then you have problems. Men cannot solve these problems, seek God.
Likewise, do not be proudhearted and look down on Bishop Long. Just because you do not have a problem in a certain area, does not mean you do not have other strongholds. ANYONE can sin. In fact, it’s just a matter of when and under what circumstances. You do not know anyone else’s history, or weaknesses or how they were tempted.
Now, this is the part where I get hate mail and accused of blasphemy.
Yes, I believe homosexuality is a sin. However, I do not believe it is any greater or lesser than any other sin. Do you lie, cheat on your spouse, have sex outside of marriage? Well, congratulations! Sin-wise you’re in the same boat as homosexuals.
While I do not believe a homosexual lifestyle should be encouraged or promoted, I also do not believe that those individuals should be singled out, discriminated against, marched against, violently attacked, stoned, or kicked out the church, etc.. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but politically I can support civil unions. I don’t discount their love for one another. I’m not going to belittle them and tell them what they feel isn’t “real” because it isn’t love for someone of the opposite sex. I understand the reasoning that love is love, regardless of gender. I understand the confusion, despair and desire for approval when people ask, “If God is a God of love, how can He be against this?” The bible says, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to destruction.” I don’t know the reason it is sin, but it is, and I trust God enough to believe that it is sin for my benefit and not to keep me from experiencing something really good.
I think that the Church’s answer to homosexuality is to shame the individual. To get them to renounce what they see as a natural part of themselves, and if they can’t do that, then they ostracize them. After all, if they TRULY believed in God, REALLY had a heart after God, then they could put that part of themselves away, right? All they have to do is read the right scriptures, say the right prayers. If they can’t overcome it, then they are weak, it is THEIR fault. They just aren’t trying hard enough. How come the Church can understand, and often even condone, other forms of sin, but not the sin of homosexuality? Easy: its not their weakness, not their poison.
Now, here is where the blasphemy comes in, or the calls for a padded room, depending on if you are a believer or not. I believe I had a revelation though, so I’m going to share it. I have no scriptural basis for this, just my own thoughts/opinion/personal revelation.
The first time I ever heard God speak, actually the second but the first time I realized Who it was, was several years ago. I was going through a very hard time. I had lost my job. I was depressed. I was preparing to leave the next day to go to Switzerland, as my sister had sent for me to get me out the States for a month or so. I was very emotional, and stopped at the store for a few things. Browsing the books I came across God.com by James Alexander Lanteaux. I read the cover liner and started crying. Driving home, God spoke a promise and a blessing to me. My first thought was, “Where did THAT come from? It wasn’t my thought, it was transposed over my thoughts. In my mind, but not my mind. Once I realized Who it was, my spirits lifted and gave me encouragement. I couldn’t stop smiling. I finally understood what the bible meant by the “still, small voice”. I really needed that word to keep me going. It did and still does encourage me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but the book was about James’ relationship with God, hearing God speak and obeying God. Had I not had that experience of hearing from God at the time I bought the book, I would have dismissed it. You always hear people say, “God told me this, God told me that”. Not having experienced it, I would always be like yeah…um…ok…as I back away a little, or if I believed them, I just couldn’t relate. I just figured I wasn’t spiritual enough. It hasn’t happened since, but it made my heart open to hearing and receiving the message of the book on a level I would not have appreciated otherwise.
Anyway, James was gay, and the book is about his struggle with obeying God and coming to terms with his sexuality. At one point in the book, he basically says, Jesus was tempted in all ways, so he knows Jesus will be with him. If the bible says He was tempted in all ways, then it was ALL ways. That stopped me right there. Did I believe that or not? I mean I’ve quoted the scripture before, but did I BELIEVE that Jesus understood MY temptations, let alone someone’s else’s homosexual ones? Also, I’m not a bible scholar by any means, but I was pretty sure I hadn’t heard about Jesus and the apostles getting extra cozy. I expected Him to be tempted sexually by women, after all he hung out with prostitutes, but tempted by men? I pondered this over and over again, trying to figure out where in the bible it says that Jesus was tempted by a man. I couldn’t get past that part of the book. So after a while, I pulled out the bible, and sat down, opened up the book, and my eyes fell on the passage: “John, the disciple whom Jesus loved.” I kid you not when I say the passage was practically highlighted.
Then things clicked.
I had heard a teaching from Joyce Meyer before about Peter and John, and Peter’s temper and how he angrily questioned Jesus about John when Jesus had foretold Peter about his (Peter’s) future death. “Lord, but what of him?’ (meaning John) Jesus replied: “If I want him to wait until I come, what is that to you? Your business is to follow me” (John 21:17-23) Peter’s question and his anger now made sense to me, if in fact John was a temptation to Jesus. Now, I’m not saying that Jesus was a closet homosexual, and obviously Jesus DID NOT SIN with John or anyone else, otherwise he would not have been the perfect sacrifice for our sins. I understand how people in close working relationships can get into a emotional muddle, especially when spiritual things are involved and if people could understand that JESUS UNDERSTANDS the temptation, then that can make a huge difference to people struggling with homosexuality and other sins. Instead of hiding from Him, they would seek Him out.
The problem with the Church and homosexuality is that the CHURCH does not “understand” this temptation. For most, its not their weakness, not their poison. When it does come to light, in cases such as the catholic church and other prominent leaders, instead of shedding light on the situation, cleansing wounds, we go into denial and act like it doesn’t exist. Shame and sin continues to fester in the darkness. I don’t know the answer for how to resolve this. I do know there are many people hurting, rejected, condemned because of the treatment they have received at the hands of the CHURCH, the place they are supposed to get healed, not condemned and destroyed. We need to stop doing further damage to the people we are supposed to save. We can still embrace them as brothers and sisters in Christ while God works with them to bring about any changes needed in their lives, changes to be honest which may never happen, or at least be evident to outsiders. Salvation is the main thing, but keep in mind issues people are struggling with do not magically go away once they get saved. We do, however, now have help in dealing with and working through them. I had Issues of sexual sin that God did not address right away when I started taking my faith seriously. Eventually though, the situation became uncomfortable to the point I ended the relationship, but this was a decision between me and God, not me and whomever wanted to condemn my actions. I’m a strong advocate of minding your own business and not speaking to people’s person sin when you have no personal relationship and trust between you to earn that privilege. Even then, our job is to love and support people, and point them toward the love of God, not condemn their actions and take on the mantle of Holy Ghost Jr.. Stay in your lane. God can handle this. Jesus brings freedom, not condemnation.