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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve...the Christian response to Homosexuality

For years…since I was probably 15 years old, maybe younger…since homosexuality first began to leave the shadows and enter the mainstream, there has been a growing debate about what the position of the Church should be.
The Catholic Church was always clear in it’s rejection of homosexuality and it in its usual way; methodical, without emotion, denying the Sacraments to those who practiced the lifestyle but not actively persecuting them.
The Independent Baptist Church of the day was far more aggressive and far more harmful to gays on a personal level.  They saw homosexuality as a personal attack on their faith, and on the Faith.  They saw it only as a choice and denied the possibility that these folks didn’t choose the proclivity to be gay.  Further, they saw no discernable difference between the proclivity to be gay, and the choice to act on it and actually be a practicing homosexual.  (meanwhile lauding an alcoholic who was tempted to drink but resisted) To these myopic folks, even being tempted by homosexuality was evil and sinful itself.  And if you were to try challenging them on this, they would perceive your questioning as some sort of tacit admission of your own homosexuality, so we sat quietly and believed what they were telling us.
They found it repulsive to be gay or to even be tempted by homosexual desires.  All the while ignoring the Biblical admonitions against gluttony even thought they were morbidly obese.  Ignoring the Biblical warning against playing favoritism within the churches, even as they paid more special attention to wealthy members and ignored the moderate incomed amongst us.  They ruled their homes as tyrants ignoring Paul’s command not to wear out their children and to love their wives as Jesus loved the Church.
In other words, they were human…and as humans do, they found certain sin far more repulsive and repugnant than certain other sins and spent their substantial energies railing against those pet sins.  All this did was cause pain and separated people who were seeking, from the Jesus whom they sought.
The battle cry of the day was always “God created Adam and Eve…not Adam and Steve!”  We thought it was clever and that it summed up our position perfectly.  We spit it back at the shouting faces of the gay community every chance we could and drove them further from the God who loves them deeply and wanted them to come to Him as they were so He could show them He loved them.  By 2013, all we have to show for the battle is a chasm that might never close.
Yesterday the battle was intense and it already cost me three “friendships” on Face book.  Now normally that amounts to nothing in my world but the two people were lifelong friends who never even cared enough to ask me my position on the matter, they simply attacked for not agreeing with theirs.  Que Serra.
Very early this morning, another friend posted this clip on my FB wall.  I think it’s the most concise, loving, brilliant, logical and cogent answer I have ever heard in my life about the Christian position concerning homosexuality.  Here is the link  Ravi Zacharias speaks about Homosexuality

It stirred me to think more about the position we have always held.  More specifically, it stirred me to think about why we hold that position.  And about how we defend that position to the world.  It got me thinking again about “Adam and Eve…not Adam and Steve”
There is enormous truth to that trite, clichéd statement but we have missed it all along.  It was a brilliant, logical, concise theological defense of our position, but we missed that point, turned it into a battle cry, and made it sound stupid.  It became a slogan that Westboro Baptist hijacked and stuck on placards and shoved in front of TV cameras and in the faces of grieving military families.  It made people hate the phrase.  And that’s a shame.  It’s a shame because in reality, maybe nothing reveals our position more perfectly than this simplistic, jingoistic, bumper-stickerish phrase.  Let me try my best to explain…
At the risk of stating the obvious, the phrase is a reference to the Creation of mankind.  It states the truth, that God created a man, and then He created a woman and set them to work populating the Garden of Eden and subsequently the world.  It seems simple, and when fired from one side of a police barricade during a gay rights rally…it is an angry rant.  But it’s so much more.  Here is why…
First of all, to follow my thought line you will need to accept some presuppositions.  Otherwise you can stop reading right here and save yourself some anguish.
The first presupposition is that the Bible is both inerrant (accurate without fault) and it is inspired.  (The actual word that God gave to the writer, stylistically influenced, but not altered by the men who wrote it.)
This leads to the second presupposition, that the Biblical account of Creation is accurate and literal.  This is what I believe and what most Evangelicals / Orthodox / and Catholics believe for the most part.  Adam and Eve were literal, not figurative.
Third is that God is infinite.  He exists outside of time and has no limits.  There is no thought He has not known, no resource he did not create.  Whatever exists…exists within Him, but He exists outside of everything else.
Fourth, God is Omniscient.  That’s a 50-cent word for “All Knowing.”  He is more than all knowing…He is all knowledge.  Anything we have ever known, or ever will learn in the future is merely a speck of the infinite inventory of knowledge God holds.
With these four positions clarified we can proceed.  If you disagree with these positions, again…stop reading.  We simply can’t agree.
So on the Sixth day.  God made man.  Man was the only thing in all of Creation that God made by touch…by hand.  He spoke everything else into existence except us.  That’s very important…especially to a world who is more and more convinced that if God does exist, He hates us and gnashes on us regularly.  But God lovingly hand-made man and named him Adam.  Adam lived in the only absolutely perfect place on earth and was—until that point—the only human to be physically in the presence of God and live.  God visited Adam daily in the garden and Adam looked at Him directly and knew his voice.
After some time…maybe days, or weeks or even years…God noticed that Adam was alone.  He wasn’t lonely necessarily, but he was alone.  All the animals had mates.  They had an opposite gender and more than one of their kind.  But Adam was uniquely alone.
God knew Adam.  Knew him the way a father knows his son.  He knew from Adam’s countenance that it was not good for Adam to be alone.  (Genesis 2:18)
This is the critical moment in our discussion…
Adam was perfect.  He was without sin.  He lived in a perfect place.  Perfect temperature, perfect existence, perfect relationship with God Himself.  God doted on Adam and hung out with him and was his companion.  But Adam was alone.  Adam was the only thing in the garden like himself and it was not good.  God saw it as a problem (“It is not good for him to be alone…) and he recognized it as a need.  So He decided it needed to be solved.
Remember presupposition numbers three and four…God is Infinite and Omniscient.  Now they become vital.
God looked at the problem and the need of this very unique and alone Adam, and in His Infinite Omniscience, he solved them both.  How?  With the unlimited potential of infinity, and the limitless wisdom of omniscience at his disposal…with a universe of possible solutions and combinations of solutions available for God to provide for Adam’s aloneness what did He do?  And why does it matter?
I’ll answer the second question first.  It matters because it reveals to us God’s design.  And not just His overall, general design, but also His specific, purposeful, intimate design in a specific situation that only involved one man.  This was not a creative action as Creation had been.  He didn’t speak a whole universe into existence here.  This was God, one-on-one with the crown of His creation.  God taking care of a specific singular need of his friend Adam.  With all the vastness of the Universe and beyond that; the infinite creative ability of a limitless, all-knowing self-existence at His disposal what did God do?
He made Adam another companion.  But he didn’t make another one like him…he made one different from him.  God, after evaluating the situation, and knowing that anything He wanted to do he could have done, put Adam into a coma, took one of his ribs, and made a woman.  The word used here for woman is “Ishi” it means “Pierced one” It describes the anatomical and spiritual differences between a man and a woman.  Had God felt that Adam would have been better served with another man, he could have done it right there at that critical moment.  He could have made men capable of progeny or he could have made babies grow in seedpods.  But in His wisdom, His infinite power, and his love for Adam, he made his companion a woman.
That was God’s design.  That was God’s plan.  That was God’s loving response to the jewel of his creative crown.  God could have done it any way He wanted and we would have been no worse off for the not knowing.  But He designed it this way.  Adam and Eve.  No other options.
We joke about being wired different, about not speaking each other’s language.  That was God’s design.  That was the sum of His infinite wisdom and limitless creative power.  He could have done it any way He saw fit…He did it this way.
What does it matter?
Well as Ravi Zacharias so brilliantly stated in the video clip, because God designed it this way, that renders our sexuality sacred.  It’s God breathed…God ordained.  It is how God wanted it.  At a moment in history when it could have gone in any number of directions, God took it in this one…and only in this one.  Our sexuality is a choice.  It was God’s choice.  When we say otherwise we decide we know better than God. That is folly.
This view makes it far more personal and far less combative.  I learned this today too.  Had we thought about it from this perspective 30 years ago maybe we wouldn’t be here now.  The Levitical laws we bash over the heads of gay people are not the real issue here.  They only tell us that sexual proclivity matters…they never revealed why.  All this time, we’ve been basically throwing the Levitical law in the face of the gay community and effectively saying, “Because I said so…that’s why!”  When there was a more loving, more tender, more personal answer.  The answer to “Why is homosexuality wrong?” is not “Because Leviticus 18 says so!” it’s  “Listen…when God was faced with providing Adam with a companion…with someone to love him and who would provide the love in physical form that God wanted to make sure Adam received…He didn’t just send Adam  out to find whomever he could find.  And he didn’t create another Adam.  He made someone special, someone who was exactly what Adam needed and yet someone different in gender from Adam.  And he stopped there.  That was the only solution to the problem that God provided” 
When we refuse to make it an act of hate and rather explain it as an act of love…perfect, wise, infinite, love…they still might not like it but, they can’t respond in anger.
Why haven’t we?  We want to remind them how God calls homosexuality an abomination but we never bothered finding out why.  Well it’s because God built our souls for someone similar to us but not the same.  He made our hearts so that a man needs a woman to be a finished work.  And vice versa. Quite simply it’s because God knows better.
God didn’t just make a man and a woman and throw them into the garden to see what would happen.  And when he noticed that his friend Adam was alone…when He saw the look in Adam’s eyes as Adam began to notice that everything else living in this wonderful place had a companion except him…God –the all-knowing and all-loving Creator— set about creating the perfect answer to Adam’s situation.  That was a woman.  It wasn’t a decision he made to wound gay people, it wasn’t something He did to trap those with desires outside the realm of acceptability.  It was a loving, thoughtful, infinitely wise act of benevolence.  And because He loves us, and is infinite, and omniscient we know that this way was the best way for Adam.  Otherwise, He would have done it some other way…or multiple ways.
So the proper answer…after all these years of anger and fighting and driving each other away from each other…the answer to the question of “What does a Christian say about Homosexuality?” is “It was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!” but with a caveat.  In love…when Adam was alone in this world and needing the perfect solution to the problem of his aloneness…God lovingly made Eve.  That was wise, that was best, that is how God designed it and how He wants it.  For a Christian to hold any other position is in direct disagreement with God’s plan.
Does this have any effect on the laws of the land?  No.  It won’t and I didn’t write this for that purpose.  I wrote this in the hopes that this explanation removes the walls of anger and what folks perceive as “intolerance.”  Our sexuality is sacred…because it was designed by God.  And because it was only designed one way by God.
My personal position on the matter is that I will love and accept my gay friends and family members.  And really love them not just “act loving” while secretly wanting to stick my finger down my throat.  I will love them.  Them and any others I meet.  But when asked what my personal position on the matter is…and what the position of the Church or of God is, I will answer as I did here.  I hope they will understand the love with which God did His work and hopefully with which I will speak my words.

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