What breaks YOUR heart? I want what breaks my heart to always be centered on the glory of God…
It’s sometimes more difficult than we might think to actually know what should cause us to be heartbroken. Typically, our heart breaks without much thinking about it. It’s a natural response to a burden or sorrow. But I’m convinced there should be some things in the life of a Jesus person that would drive us to pray for and pursue a broken heart. That is, intentionally pursuing to possess a passion and compassion about something so much that our hearts are crushed by the weight of it. And the only way I know to discover what those passions should be is to study what the Bible says they should be. Ultimately, it’s a desire above all things for the glory of God. But day to day, it’s much more difficult to prioritize what should burden me the most.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been weighed down (to a fault) by the latest online discussion/debate.
It feels way too loud and proud. It’s the present “bake-a-cake debate”. And I was recently sucked in … deeply sucked in. I succumbed to social media pressure (yes, it was self-induced) and I have spent way too much mental and emotional energy on the words and attitudes demonstrated through comments and opinions. Recognizing my angst, my most wonderful person both gently and firmly urged me to take a break from this self-inflicted torture. So I made efforts to turn it all off… and I prayed … and I paused for a bit.
First of all, I don’t want to be “Lot’s wife” – a nameless character known only for her disobedience (Gen. 19, Luke 17). I don’t have any desire to be so enamored with causes, or even relationships, that I’m unable to passionately run forward toward holiness and run fast and far away from blatant unrighteousness. Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17 regarding how we deal with those who refuse to repent is serious business. So as my heart is broken for sinful humanity, my prayer is for myself to really want His glory in the world most of all.
I realize that in the grand scheme of things, I’m kind of not a big deal. A few people follow my blog and are interested in my thoughts, but when I weigh in on any issue it has little impact on this great big world. I’m writing this particular post more for myself than for anyone else. That’s probably best because it’s really wordy and way too lengthy, and I’ll lose even my most loyal fans after a paragraph or two. More than anything, I’m providing for myself a reference point. On this day, as I’m talking to my soul to remind myself what I’ve concluded as of today, my thoughts are documented on this page so I can find them and reread them.
I realize that there’s WAY more to this debate than covered in these paragraphs, especially within the Christian community of bible students. My most recent mind dialogue is more about how Christians should respond than the actual hermeneutics of certain passages. (You will notice, however, that my presupposition is to believe the Bible is clear on sexual sin, specifically homosexual sin. And yes, I realize that many people do not have that same presupposition).
In this particular post, I’m borrowing many words from others who are studied and in the trenches much more than I. In fact, I’ve actually been on a search for days to find someone to verbalize my thoughts for me because I have been at a loss to find the way to communicate my feelings. So as I share my thoughts, it’s a mix of my words and the words of others who have influenced my thinking and have worded it in such a way that I just can’t improve it. I’ve tried to put quotes where necessary as to not plagiarize.
The subject of homosexuality has become the most recent lightning rod of conversation and is unfortunately bringing out the worst in some Christian bloggers, tweeters, and such. Years ago, abortion was a hot topic in politics and the Church. Before social media, it was discussed in magazine articles and tv interviews. Bible-believers tried to find the balance of ministering to and serving mothers in difficult situations, while hoping to communicate the possible devastation that often accompanies making the immoral choice of abortion. It got out of hand … people were killing people in the name of God and righteousness. People claiming to value life carried gory signs and shouted cruel things at women and doctors going in and out of clinics. I remember how heartsick I was sitting across from young girls who walked into the Crisis Pregnancy Center where I volunteered, wondering how they would face what was next in their lives. Whether they chose to give life to their babies or whether they chose abortion, it was going to be life altering for them either way.
Now we are here: And with this more prevalent and ongoing debate surfacing, again many are left broken and bruised. The Church has most certainly taken a hit, as has the gay community. I continue to be deeply disturbed and even distraught at times at how some ‘Christians’ have publicly interacted with those within, or supportive of, the gay community. It has become a source of extreme burden for me. “As fellow believers, we may share theology, but the application of that truth has become a disconnecting point with many of my fellow sojourners who also claim to be striving for holiness. While Scripture does command us as believers to ‘speak the truth in love’ (and social media is, in my opinion, the worst place to exercise that practice), that is not the end of our biblical responsibility.” In fact, I have tried to practice refraining from comments if I can’t speak both love and truth in the same sentence. One without the other falls short of God’s standard in our relationships and communication.
Although there are lots of Christians who treat the gay community with respect, in a few of my Christian circles (mostly I am referring to the electronic social community), way too many speak truth without much love and come across as harsh and even ignorant of the Jesus of the Bible. We must remember that within the homosexual community, there exists real people with fragile hearts. If our only response is to speak some sort of truth to the exclusion of grace, then we should exercise that practice with every single sin. Otherwise obedience has no integrity. I think that I would respect the viewpoint of the believer “who calls out every sinner and sin around him in equal measure over one who selectively applies Scripture to certain categories.” I might avoid them, but I’d have more respect for their consistency. 🙂
It is important to also distinguish between personally engaging in conversation with and publicly/corporately ‘calling out’ someone in sin. There is a place for church discipline in the case of members (notice I didn’t say attenders) who refuse to repent and willfully persist in any sin. “When this happens, it must be exercised in a spirit of humility and gentleness (Gal 6), and there must be no discrimination between men and women, or between homosexual and heterosexual offenses. I do not think there is any need to encourage a person struggling with homosexuality to disclose their sexual orientation to everybody, any more than a person struggling with pornography needs to confess it before the entire congregation. But people who are attempting to overcome sexual sin do need at least one confidant to whom they can unburden themselves, who will not despise or reject them but will support them with friendship and prayer.”
There’s a lot more to it, but the Savior of the world explained the kingdom of God by boiling it down to such a simple formula (in Luke 10): ‘Love God and love people. Do this and you will live.‘ But to justify ourselves, just like the lawyer standing there that day, we need to know just who ‘the people’ are that we are to love … “What is the morality clause? Who can we omit? Who gets to stay in? Who are the outsiders and insiders here? What are the categories?”
We’ve all been affected in this sin war.That’s the way sin works …
Just like the poor man on the side of the road in Jesus’ story, “there’s no doubt that the gay community has been spiritually beaten, stripped of dignity, robbed of humanity, and left for dead by much of the church.” (Let’s not argue about the innocence or guilt of the victim at this point, although I’m sure some would say it’s a valid inclusion in the argument.)
Lying next to them, also bloodied and bruised, are believers whose theology affirms homosexuality and allows them to stand alongside their gay friends. (You may not agree with them, but there are tens of thousands of thinking, studied people who hold this conviction.)
Also wounded on the side of the road, are misrepresented and misquoted Christians who sincerely love God and people and believe homosexuality is a sin, but have been lumped unfairly with the mean-spirited folks. Painted as hateful and intolerant, they are actually kind and loving and are simply trying to be faithful to their conviction and commitment.
As a faith community, it is time we relearn what ‘speaking the truth in love’ means. Something that actually feels like love is a start. “If the beginning and end of love is simply pointing out sin, then we are doomed. When people are broken and cast off, Jesus notices who stops and who walks on by unmoved, unaffected, and without compassion or concern. This is so direct and specific a point, that anyone who identifies as Christian should take sober heed. No mention is made of this wounded man’s character. All Jesus tells us is that he is wounded and alone and that not just one, but two religious leaders left him in the gutter.”
It’s time for those who possess a real religion (James 1:22-27) to stand up and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. To speak kinder words and to act justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with God and before others. It’s time to pick up our bloodied and beaten community (damaged by pornography, sexual promiscuity, divorce, homosexuality) and bind up their wounds. If it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance, we should start offering His kindness to a hurting world.
For all of us, at the heart of our sinful condition is a deep loneliness and a natural human hunger for mutual love. We are all searching for significance. We desire to discover our identity, and we all long for completeness and community. “For those trapped in sexual sin, there’s an especially growing need to find a place they can express with honesty what they are feeling. If homosexual people cannot find these things in the local ‘church family’, we have no business using the expression ‘family’. The answer is not a warm physical relationship of homosexual intercourse nor is it the pain of cold isolation. All relationships, both same-sex and opposite-sex, need to be developed within the family of God. Each local church should be a warm, accepting, and supportive community. By ‘accepting’ the people, I do not mean we should acquiesce to an unbiblical viewpoint or stance. And by rejecting homophobia, I am not rejecting appropriate Christian disapproval of homosexual behavior.” And regarding this present debate, neither am I condoning an unbiblical/sinful event (e.g., homosexual marriage). In our attempts not to compromise truth, the church has often failed to show God’s mercy to the people enslaved to sexual sins.
The bible says that Jesus came for the sick and the lost. He led with mercy and He often made religious people uncomfortable. He came near so that we could be redeemed and transformed into His likeness. I desire for my worldview to be biblically based – I want the lens in which I understand God, and others, and myself to be based on His whole word.
I don’t believe that genuine Christ-like love is “incompatible with the maintenance of moral standards.” We actually all agree with this on some level. We all draw lines we deem appropriate, or we would be left with an immoral or amoral non-functioning society.
Well, if you stuck it out to the end, I give you this final personal thought. If I was a baker and my friend asked me to bake a cake for her to serve at her wedding, a wedding that I didn’t condone, I’d probably choose to bake it for her. And if I was a politician and my friend wanted me to vote yes to a law that would force me – and others – to bake a cake for a wedding I didn’t condone, I’d probably choose to deny him that vote. As my DH said recently: Willingly serving a person who may live a life contrary to my personal convictions isn’t the same as being forced to serve at an event that’s very purpose is contrary to my personal conviction.
“Perplexing and painful as the homosexual Christian’s dilemma is, Jesus Christ offers us all the same faith, hope, and love – the faith to accept His standards and His grace to maintain them; the hope to look beyond present suffering to future glory; and the love to care for and support one another.”
<sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-30441Y" data-link="(Y)”>To Him belong glory and <sup class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-30441Z" data-link="(Z)”>dominion forever and ever. Amen