Faithfulness: The New Evangelism

I just started reading the book of Ezekiel (as you can tell by My One Sentence Bible from today) on my yearly trek to read the Bible from cover to cover. To me, the overarching principles of the book of Ezekiel speak loud and clear about what it means to live a faithful Christian life—to God, to yourself and to the life you have been put here on earth to live. The more I continue to live my life and deepen my walk with God the more I am realizing that faithfulness, no matter what the outcome, is the only way to live as close to God as possible. One of my favorite slogans recently is:

God doesn’t only work when we know what the outcome is going to be.

And the beginning of the book of Ezekiel clearly contextualizes exactly what that statement means. Four times within the first 25 verses in Chapters 2-3 the Lord says to Ezekiel:

“Whether they listen or fail to listen.”

This is showing us that the outcome is not dependent upon the messenger.I speak often about knowing our Kingdom Job Description—It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love. The messenger’s job is faithfulness to what the Lord has asked. This is the reason why I believe that a faithful Christian walk is about ‘living in relation to someone else’ and/or ‘living in relationship with someone else’ – No matter what the outcome a faithful servant has acted as a faithful servant toward what God has laid forth, not acting toward a desired outcome that has tried to be obtained. As the old saying goes, you can only control what you can control. It is so true, yet has become so cliché because our Christian culture has mixed up the understanding and expectations of what we actually can control. Let me be very clear on this,

Someone else’s outcome is not something we can control. Any other thought than that is not biblical.

God never said: It’s your job to convict, your job to judge and God’s job to love. And yet that is exactly what today’s Christian feel is their Kingdom Job Description.

God also never said:

I am sending you to a nation that is rebellious, obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, This is what the Sovereign Lord says, you will convince them they are rebellious and because they listen to you they will turn away from their evil ways. You will speak and they will listen.

Nope. Never happened. In fact, God’s commands for a ‘faithful engagement of communication’ are the exact opposite:

Ezekiel 2: 3-7

Such is the same experience for any prophet throughout Scripture. And in some way, all believers today are prophets because through faith in God through Jesus Christ we have inherited the right to live a faithful Christian life in relation to, and relationship with others. Culture today looks too much toward the action hero (biblical or otherwise) as a model of faithfulness because they are the successful ones who accomplish (or win) desired outcomes. That paradigm is backwards.

What God created as the normal trend for a Christian life is today looked at as countercultural. Strange how that works.

Ezekiel is one of the boldest people recorded in all of Scripture. Even though God told him in detail the horrific tortures he will have to endure for no other reason than repeating what God spoke, Ezekiel never acts as a martyr (as so many Christians do today in “speaking the truth”), but incarnationally lives within a people faithfully focused on his Kingdom Job Description, whether they listen or fail to listen.

This is my understanding of New Evangelism—which in actuality is only ‘new’ because the original understanding has been lost in power-hungry, outcome driven generations of Christians trying to take credit for what is not of any of their power or ownership. By today’s standards God set up Ezekiel for failure, giving him an unfairly porportioned hard life with no way out of the murderous ending set forth. And yet because Ezekiel faithfully showed us what faithfulness to God’s call means, today’s standards of understanding evangelism and faithfulness once again prove to be wrong. 

Much love.

www.themarinfoundation.org

About Andrew Marin

Andrew Marin is President and Founder of The Marin Foundation (www.themarinfoundation.org). He is author of the award winning book Love Is an Orientation (2009), its interactive DVD curriculum (2011), and recently an academic ebook titled Our Last Option: How a New Approach to Civility can Save the Public Square (2013). Andrew is a regular contributor to a variety of media outlets and frequently lectures at universities around the world. Since 2010 Andrew has been asked by the United Nations to advise their various agencies on issues of bridging opposing worldviews, civic engagement, and theological aspects of reconciliation. For twelve years he lived in the LGBT Boystown neighborhood of Chicago, and is currently based St. Andrews, Scotland, where he is teaching and researching at the University of St. Andrews earning his PhD in Constructive Theology with a focus on the Theology of Culture. Andrew's research centers on the cultural, political, and religious dynamics of reconciliation. Andrew is married to Brenda, and you can find him elsewhere on Twitter (@Andrew_Marin), Facebook (AndrewMarin01), and Instagram (@andrewmarin1).

  • holzer29

    "love is understandable, warm and fuzzy, Doctrine on the other hand, sounds cold, difficult and demanding."

    Dan, Your last comment has left me sad. "And if the Church won’t be their for people, we will turn to other places."

    One because it sounds like you have been really let down by believers, and for that i am sorry. We as a whole can be judgemental and I in my past was so very harsh towards those who i was supposed to really be there for. That is my sin past.

    God has given me a new understanding of His truths…and at times, i may come out "guns a blazin" it's only derived from my passion for Christ.

    And i do let that show.

    The fact that you can so easily dismiss the who new testiment is quite disturbing to me. and knowlege tends to make us feel like we have it all figured out.

    I'm not sure how you can be "so sure" but i would like to hear more.

    Alot of the old testiment were laws before Christ came, but the one defining factor that i have heard is to base the laws to be abided based on their punishment. Things that were punishable with death were usually sexual sins. A commonsense approach to the Bible shows that certain ceremonial and dietary laws in the Old T. Christians are not under mosaic law, (gal 3:17-25) But the biblical commandments against homsexualty conduct do not appear in the same sections as the dietary and ceremonial laws, they appear alongside other sexual sins forbidden in both the old and new T. Why do hererosexual concervitives still preach against heterosexual sins? why don't we just ignore all references to hetorsexual lusts, adultry and fornication? zFor that matter, why do we still preach against lying and stealing since since we are to some degree still tempted torwards those sins? This is adressing the issue of "ignoring, picking and choosing which which sins to adress."

    I'm not completely sure on the bible being outdated so to speak, not having a modern understanding of homosexuality..but i do it's odd to assume a behavior is legitimate just because a person is naturally inlcined to it.

    It does seem ludicous to believe that the creator of the universe in guiding the biblical authors was ignorant concerning the things we now know about homosexuality through modern biology, physicology, socialgy and so forth. To deny scriptural statements about homsexuality on these grounds is to completely deny God's superintendence in the authorship of scripture.

    Anyways, those are thoughts, some mine, some the author of the book " A strong Delusion" by Joe Dallas.

    He covers alot of the issues you just spoke of Dan, you might want to pick up a copy and read it for youself…i found in full of information.

    Either way Sir, We are all faced with so many desires of the flesh, to try and avoid them all on our own is impossible. I found this out myself.

    But don't close the door the possiblity that the beliefs that you were brought up on are now wrong. God can speak to your heart. Ask HIm. Seek Him with a will heart friend and He will, answer.

  • holzer29

    There are those who like to say that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Various verses are cited (out of context) and the verses that people use to show that homosexuality is wrong are explained away. The world wants to change God’s words and meanings into something more suitable to its sinful desires. Nevertheless, the truth stands: The Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. Let’s look at what it says.

    Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”1

    Lev. 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltness is upon them”

    1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

    Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and 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. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

    Homosexuality is clearly condemned by the Bible. It goes against the created order of God. He created Adam and then made a woman. This is what God has ordained and it is what is right. Unlike other sins, homosexuality has a severe judgment administered by God Himself. This judgment is simple: They are given over to their passions. That means that their hearts are allowed to be hardened by their sins (Romans 1:18ff). As a result, they can no longer see the error of what they are doing. Without an awareness of their sinfulness, there will be no repentance and trusting in Jesus. Without Jesus, they will have no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no salvation.

    What should be the Christian’s Response to the Homosexual?
    Just because someone is a homosexual does not mean that we cannot love him (or her) or pray for him (her). Homosexuality is a sin and like any other sin, it needs to be dealt with in the only way possible. It needs to be laid at the cross, repented of, and never done again.

    As a Christian, you should pray for the salvation of the homosexual the same as you would for any other person in sin. The homosexual is still made in the image of God — even though he is in grave sin. Therefore, you should show him the same dignity as anyone else with whom you come in contact. However, this does not mean that you are to approve of their sin. Don’t compromise your witness for a socially-acceptable opinion that is void of godliness.
    Just some thoughts that i have here. Are we in agreement with this?

    • http://loveisanorientation kathleen wood

      Yes. And no. If that’s OK with everyone… If our choice to follow Christ (the incarnate word of God) is a heart (attitude) issue, loving others same or different is an attitude issue. It’s also a decision based in the truth of what Jesus requires of us as his disciples. Other commands are identically managed. He says. I decide to do. I agree with Him. I submit to His better way of doing, thinking, understanding. Am I finding it easy to obey? Of course not! The carnal nature which I still am subject to is opposed to God. But through HIs Spirit and that alone, I can live as a Christian. Obedience then, becomes the fruit of what God in me lives out. It’s not about being born one way or the other. It’s about how we live after we are born. We all have tendencies toward sin. I don’t have to follow that. I want to follow Christ.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    This post is not talking about if homosexuality is sin or not sin – it’s talking about faithfulness and the medium of engagement with others. The only thing I can think of as to why you would post such a comment is because you believe that the approach you just showed is the proper medium of engagement? Personally, I don’t agree with the blatant ‘listing medium of engagement’ because others who don’t agree with you can list other verses just the same. Just because this is your Truth doesn’t mean that any gay or lesbian person (or anyone else) will listen to it if you first haven’t earned the right to speak your beliefs [towards/against] others. But here’s the main point – whether people listen to your belief or not is not the point, hence the importance of Ezekiel’s faithful model. He didn’t speak from the outside, he did so from the incarnational inside. I believe that people can hold on to what they believe, but as Ezekiel shows, it’s not up to us to convince others we’re right and they’re wrong. That is not the point of belief!

    The main lesson to be learned from this post is that faithful comittment is success, concerning ourselves with our own relationship with God; letting that inward relationship permeate other relationships on the outside.

  • holzer29

    It just is not clear to me if we are living to serve the same faithfull comittment source. (namely the Christ who’s truth is unchangeable)
    The reason i posted these thoughts and verses, here is because i cannot tell what way you call up and what way is down for you. My life is devoted to serving my Father in heaven. My desire is that all I do display His love. but i don’t understand the idea of “earning my right” to speak His truths?
    I understand earning someones trust, relationship evangelism. that sort of thing. however, i see you on this blog talk of how it is just our job to love, but the love you display feels alot like condonement. That is why i posted what i did. I do share the belief on what i posted, but the notion that i should not say what i said because others will have verses to argue what i just say, does not make me want to speak less truth..
    i know that the homsexual community, just like any other group of people living in ourtright sin, will try and bend and sway scripture to say anything. My faithful comittment to Christ is what makes me say what i say. He is my success, especially concerning non-believers. I would not go around blasting people with scripture. My words were a question for you really. Not to beef up some arguments with any unsuspecting individual.
    I love on anyone who Christ puts in my path, that is how i can be faithful to Him, but i do not back down from speaking His truth or seeking it either.
    With someone as infultential as you, you are really putting a loud message out there. But still after all this time, i cannot find a place where you really speak bold, solid truth. What you say feels really good. but it does not answer the hard truths. I am only looking for honest asnwers because those answers greatly affect many many people.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    I guess it just depends on what your understanding of “bold, solid truth” is. I actually think I speak it all the time – just not in the same recognizable (trigger) fashion as it has always been done. I do not hide the fact (here, in my book, on any media thing I’ve done) that I believe in a traditional evangelical interpretation of Scripture. I just live out that belief differently from most – and because I don’t ever write the “trigger” sentences or say the “trigger” statements, that must make my message less than.

    If anyone wants to hear conservative figures speak traditional means of engagement or repeat the same “ok-you’re-safe-now-and-I’ll-agree-with-everything-you-say-because-you-just-said-something-familiar-to-me” statements, I’m not that guy, even though I fit the mold from a conservative point of view. I am here to ‘elevate the conversation’. My definition of that is to ‘change the conversation’. As Scot McKnight says, changing the conversation is not to replace tradition, but it is to find a new common ground starting point to relate on new levels in new contexts to build bridges for the Kingdom between two diametrically opposed communities.

    I’m tired of people talking past each other. I’m tired of trying to ‘win’ the battle with both sides seeing themselves as David and the other as Goliath. I’m tired to going around and around in cirlces about the same questions/ideologies/modes of engagement. And I’m tired of people from both communities not believing there can be peaceful and productive bridges built. I believe it can happen, and this blog/my book/my organization is how I go about accomplishing it.

    And as for ‘earning the right to speak’ – yes, I do beleive that. Christians think way to highly of our own opinions more so than anyone else in this world does. In fact, mainstream could care less about us or our opinions – except the things we’re against, which is why Christians today are known more for what we’re against than what we’re for. Therefore I will live my life in relationship with God and others (biblical reconcilation) and let my life permeate to those on the outside my belief. And when I’ve earned the right to speak, when I know the other person is comitted to me and I to them no matter what, then I will speak my Truth. Whether or not anyone listens is not the point from a ‘calling’ persepctive – it’s the wholistic faithful living process that is the point and what God laid out for us in our medium of engagement.

  • J.Random

    “Someone else’s outcome is not something we can control.”

    I’ve often heard this used as an excuse for being a confrontational jerk. We can’t control the outcomes — so if the crowds turn in disgust from my narrow, tactless, judgmental presentation of the “gospel,” well, it’s not *my* fault. They’re just resisting the Holy Spirit.

  • holzer29

    bridge a gap. this is something that i do want, but, i just cannot feel comfortable with what your def. of this is. When i saw the interview with “Jess” that you displayed on your blog, i was so disturbed. here is why.
    It felt like you by displaying her “testimony” of coming out did in fact support her descision to find a “man or “woman” that made her “happy..” and stamping His seal of approval on it. Todays “homsexaul Christians” are fooled into believe the lie that they can be following, no, chasing, after Christ while practicing homosexuality.
    SO when i see those types of things, and then i hear what you just said above, i am still very confused.
    I know what you say sounds and looks quite different from many of today’s traditional preachers. That does not mean that they are wrong, some are harsh, some are overly judgemental. But what is “loving” homsexuals? Because i do love on my gay friends, some of whom want to call Christ their shepherd while they are his “gay sheep”.
    yes, He does love them. Yes, he does want them, but they must first LAY DOWN their cross to follow Him. I could not be saying that living my life for myself, and living my life for Christ were in agreement. This is essentially what the “gay christian” community is doing. ( in my understand of truth)
    because bold and solid truth feels like it should be just that, “bold and “solid” and most of all “Christ’s idea of truth.”
    BUT THOSE WHO LIVE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE SPIRIT HAVE THEIR MINDS SET ON WHAT THE SPIRIT DESIRES. 1 Tim.8:5b
    so when we are called to throw away our sinful desires, my sin, their sin, all of our sin falls into that catagory.
    And all this truth, derived from the Bible.
    I know also, i am a sinner as well, and i do have grace as Christ so amazingly had grace on me with my sins.
    I am, Sir, wanting to understand you, your understand of Christ and really if you really believe what you really believe is real.
    Because in the end, what we believe about Christ to be true, either begins or ends our enternity.
    Thank you for dialoging with me. I greatly appreciate it.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    I must not be explaining this well enough, so let me use an example J.Random:

    The acceptable mode of engagement between conservative Christians (CC) and the gays and lesbians (GL) goes something like the following:

    CC: You’re sinning because homosexuality is a sin.

    GL: No I’m not.

    CC: Yes you are. You need to change your behavior.

    GL: No I don’t.

    CC: Yes you are. Well, the blood is off of my head anyway because I told my Truth. Phew.

    GL: You’re an idiot.

    CC: No, you’re an idiot. You’re just resisting the Holy Spirit – I’m free and clean. Phew.

    It can go on and on like this forever. You get the point.

    Now, what I (Andrew) am saying is that this traditional means of scapegoating by Christians who think that just speaking their truth is good enough, well, that’s not good enough. Please quickly read Matthew 7:21-23

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%207:21-23&version=NIV

    Christians tend to focus so heavily on the result (e.g. ‘blood is off of my head’). That is focusing on the wrong thing. What makes the book of Ezekiel unique is that God tells Ezekiel the results, when in many other situations throughout the Bible God does not tell others. So people tend to focus on the result in Ezekiel instead of the faithfulness to live in a calling. The point of this post (especially shown in Ezekiel’s life) is that it’s not about the speaking that causes results so much as it is about the living that is nothing more than being faithful to what God asks us to do.

    Here is where things get really messed up, because the traditional mode of engagement from a Christian persepctive also falls within the understanding that we Christians have the ability/power to influence change – change anything, I don’t care what it is – behavior modification or whatever else. But we don’t have that power.

    “Someone else’s outcome is not something we can control” is based off of the Christian understanding that if we say ‘homosexuality is a sin’ enough and can prove that, then the gay community will eventually listen…and if they don’t, oh well, we said it anyway.

    That mode of engagement and the paradigm of understanding what communication is, is all wrong. That is what I am trying to get across. As with the majority population, you both are reading this post through the eyes of vocal communication (the actual “speaking”) rather than the broader Kingdom Principle of what it means for faithful living (take out the “speaking” and focus on the action of what is faithfulness in relation to God, not in relation to “speaking” or “convincing” others).

  • Dan

    If I could clarify that theological statement, I was trying to avoid using masculine pronouns to define a God and Creator (one in the same being) who does not have a sex. I do not believe in multiple Gods. I do believe in the Trinity (although I cannot comprehend how it works). I realized I may have created some confusion, though, in trying to avoid standard use of the masculine identification of God.

    I know some people who have experienced abuse at the hands of their fathers and other men in their life, and saying God is a "He" is hard to accept. We use "He" because our language is so limited to describe something so much greater.

    I apologize for any confusion.

  • http://www.loveisanorientation.com Andrew Marin

    Holzer29 – I am going to assume that your gay friends know exactly what you think and believe about homosexuality. So the question becomes, do you need to continue to repeat your sin stance to them, or will they forget what you believe unless you continue to say your sin stance over and over again?

    As for “laying down” – you can’t cause them to lay down anything. That’s not your job – it’s not of your ability or choice. It’s theirs. So now you have 2 opions: 1) Accept that and continue to live in relation to and relationship with, or 2) Continue to reiturate your point because you think that if you say it enough they will one day wake up and believe you.

    In regards to questioning my belief in Christ as real and what I really believe, I made it abundently clear in my second response. Oh, and InterVarsity Press published my book, and I went to seminary at Moody. Doesn’t get much more tradtional evangelical than that. I guess I get tired of people continuing to question what I believe just because I don’t say what people want me to say, how they want me to say it.

    As for Jess – that video is a very important part to what it means to live out your belief in God in a 21st Century context. I did not put that up on this blog to use it as a theological statement, but rather as an example that most of the over 12,000 readers of this blog will never have a personal experience to personally experience involving themselves in a life like Jess’ life.

    HERE IS A LETTER I WROTE TO A FEW FOLKS AT MOODY after they were up in arms about Jess and a few other gays and lesbians who spoke that night:

    First off, I want to thank all of you for attending class last night. As I was reflecting from what happened in light of some of the emails I got, I would like to make a few points more clear:

    1. Moody Theological Seminary, The Marin Foundation and myself all believe the Bible is fully inspired (2 Tim 3:16), and is also the unchanging inerrant Word of God. Let there be no mistaking our theological belief system as we all wholeheartedly believe in a traditional interpretation of Scripture.

    2. The theme of last night, started off by the talk I gave, was about what it means to understand the GLBT community through their perspective and filtration system. My experience over the last decade immersed in the community is that the mindset of ‘right from the gate you can’t relate’ is the only place to start for peaceful and productive bridge building. With that in mind, the four people to speak after myself were a cross-section of real life GLBT people with religious backgrounds who are struggling to figure out, and desperately wrestling with, what faith and sexuality mean in light of their same-sex attractions. These are some of the types of people that you will [more importantly] be encountering in your everyday ministries after you leave Moody. Two of the GLBT speakers last night go to very large, well known conservative evangelical churches, so this is not an issue only for the liberal factions of our faith. As Dr. Fuder always communicates, “Chicago is our lab! Let’s explore it.” Last night was a small piece of that lab as we had the privilege of hearing people first hand who are coming from completely different places, worldviews, theological beliefs and experiences than our own. You are getting an education at Moody that is truly preparing you for real ministry, and that includes not just taking the World Religions course, but experiencing it as well.

    3. To me, one of the most important parts of our Christian walk is to not just ‘preach to the converted’ but to get outside our comfort zones to show our Christ in the midst of the places that by no other means would hear our Truth. Life, and tangibly walking out our faith is not easy, nor is it pretty, nor does it always align or fit our preexisting paradigms of engagement. Rather walking out our faith is about a true conviction of what we believe theologically, and yet living it out differently (1 Cor 9:19-23). I am so convinced that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God that hearing what I did last night doesn’t scare me or make me question what I believe, it excites me as a blessed opportunity to continue moving in the challenge that God has set forth before all of us in today’s socially driven, secular (and even liberal religious) culture.

    4. Some of what happened last night might have been a shock – maybe a little too much. Dr. Fuder and I always, always, want to respect each of you, respect Moody, respect ourselves, and most importantly, respect God. If in any way what happened last night did not accomplish any of those goals in light of last night’s theme, then I [Andy] am the one to be held accountable for that. My intent was to never offend anyone, it was to present (in a safe environment for all of us) a group of people willing to put themselves out there in the face of fear, to share their lives with you. Agree or disagree with what they said, the main point is to know what it means to humbly listen and learn. Our conviction of Scripture is clear, and that provides power and strength, even when there are others around us who don’t feel the same.

  • Mrs T

    Andrew: I don’t think a lot of folks quite undeerstand what you are doing. There are many demographic groups that have lifestyles that have things that are very opposed to scripture, yet when missionaries go into those cultures, they don’t start with hammering away at them. They make friends, learn the language & general culture, earning the ‘right’ to be heard. Andrew knows that Christians haven’t ‘earned’ the right to be heard & that the average Christian knows little about what the average GLBT goes through. They see the radicals on TV & put up a wall. We need to lovingly break down the wall & build a bridge! Keep going Andrew!
    You have many supporters.

  • holzer29

    Andrew i agree with you on all of that. And I am not trying to make you frustrated.
    i know that my words alone to do not have the power to change any individual. i don’t want that kind of power anyways. That is Gods. But what you just spoke, living the faithful life, and being faithful to Christ is speaking His truth, and yes, speaking it in love. Existing among those who are not yet won over. What else can we do? but our words must always line up with scripture, they must always be consistant and they must always examplify what Christ lives for, Truth not distorted.
    Jesus dined with the sinners, (we are all sinners so that is not what i’m getting at) but the fact that he did socialize with them is more what sticks out to me…but He did call them to leave their ways. I KNOW i am not God, but i can challenge people..just as i like it when people challenge me, because as iron sharpens iron, challenging allows a person to examine their hearts. that is all i am trying to do with my friends who are not yet ready to call their sin what it is.
    You have made yourself more clear to me. God’s timing is God’s timing. He will reach hearts when that heart is reachable within His timline. I trust Him in this, but speaking His truth is what I do. I am not better than any other human out there…and i am not claiming to be perfect, that alone puts me on the same playing field as all others out there. I admit my sins when i commit them, He offers me His forgivness. I suppose it all boils down to what is sin? and that seems to be negotiable in this day and age. there’s another topic i guess.
    I suppose it all goes back to it’s not what you say but how you say it. Obviousely i am not going to pelt non-believers with scriptures that will hopefully convict them, i come along side them and love on them. My only dilema is when one claims Christ, and claims their life of sin to be in agreement. ie…man cheats on wife, but it’s ok cuz he’s happy…(gods fine with this he states to friends)
    woman steals…(God wants me to be happy…i need that item to be happy, therefore God is ok with my sin)
    That is my issue i guess.
    I apologize if my “get it out there” scripture quoting at the beginning was to harsh, i do get intense on this because this subject hits close to home. But the truth remains, His truth that is undeniably there.

  • Dan

    Andrew: thank you for what you are doing.

    Holzer29: I understand your point and where you are coming from. I was raised in a conservative family, in a conservative Lutheran church, and I believed the literal reading of our *modern English translations* of *ancient Greek texts.*

    Oh, and I am gay.

    I have fought it since I was 13. I’m in my 20′s now. And I am done fighting. That decision is between God and me. And I now, having read more into the issues of translation – and I am not saying I am anywhere near a scholar, have the right answer, or can even read Greek, for that matter – believe that we have mistranslated those Scriptures.

    1)You can’t use the Old Testament as proof against homosexuality, unless you are also going to believe that all brides who are not virgins should be stoned (Deuteronomy 22:13-21).

    2) Paul and the writers of the New Testament did not have a modern understanding of the notion of homosexuality. The word homosexuality did not appear in a Bible translation until the 1900′s (I do not have an official or academic reference on that point, if anyone does, please post, I am looking for it). The Greek words that Paul uses are not entirely clear and some scholars believe that they better translate into essentially male prostitution and pederasty – again, not modern understandings of homosexuality.

    I do have problems with the gay community. The level of substance abuse and promiscuity is staggering, but is that because we are all ungodly heathens who have turned from God? That leaves me out. I would argue instead that it is the Church community who has through misinterpretation and dangerous dogmatism left an entire group of God’s children out in the cold. And if the Church won’t be their for people, we will turn to other places.

  • http://darrencalhoun.com heyDarren

    Hey Andy,
    Just wanted to say great post and lots of food for thought for me. Keep it up (as always).

    Love you bro!
    –Darren

  • http://jontrouten.blogspot.com/ Jon Trouten

    Nice blog entry and message, Andrew.

    Holzer29: I seem to remember that you have a gay sister or something similar. I must imagine that family gatherings are a hoot.

    Gotta run, pick up the kids, and see the hubby! -Jon

  • Dan

    Holzer29, thanks for your perspective. I know we are straying far from what Andrew is discussing in this blog to begin with, but if it at least starts a conversation then I guess that is good…

    I definitely would not begin to argue from the stand-point of having the answers. The only thing I know, in part, is my struggle. A struggle that I have kept silent about for too long because of the fear of being an outcast. A struggle that I – willingly, I must emphasize – went through reparative therapy to fix. A fight that kept me at odds with everything else I believed. I won’t pretend to understand God’s design in it all. What I do know is that I have come to the point that I cannot believe in a God who would reject me on the basis of what makes me, well, me.

    That is the “warm, fuzzy love” I guess you were talking about. I know it does not fit into nice little square theological boxes. I remember when Rob Bell was talking about something similar to this – not homosexuality specifically, but theological arguments – in his talk “Everything is Spiritual.” He basically talks about how our perspective is so very limited that we cannot comprehend exactly how the theology fits together. It as if it is a three dimensional object (imagine a cylinder) when we can only see two dimensionally. So one side is of the argument is saying that “the object is a rectangle” while the other side is saying “it is a circle”, and what if God is beyond it all and saying “it is both?” He said it much better, but perhaps you get my point. What if for all this divisiveness within the church, the answer all along was “yes”? Not “you are wrong and you are right,” but “you both missed the bigger picture.”

    I would never argue for relativism, but perhaps the answer is beyond us. Does that mean we do nothing? Far from it. But does it not mean that our focus should be on building our personal relationship with God? Is the Bible meant to be set of rules? In a certain sense, perhaps, but legalism becomes a huge issue. I believe in a God who personally convicts. We are not here to be Christ’s personal ambassadors to convict all the others around us. We are all supposed to be pursuing God. And the Church is supposed to be a community of imperfect people who are not focused on each other and the possible or perceived faults we see in others, but on a God above us all. A God who seems, as best as I can tell in my limited understanding, to be saying “it’s okay.” And that may sound heretical to you, holzer29, but here is the point. That point of freedom has allowed me to pursue God with all my heart and not have this overwhelming guilt that I have put on myself. Not conviction from the Holy Spirit, but guilt created by myself and the church culture I have lived within.

    I would never argue that the sex, drug, porn, alcohol-addict is completely free to do whatever he wishes. I believe those things are sin because they hinder our relationship with God and reverse our focus to satisfying ourselves. We would never tell the straight man that he is sinning because he is attracted to women and thus is not putting his focus on God. So how can we say that the gay man is sinning because he is attracted to men? Because we don’t think it is natural? Is the Bible meant to be a science book? Galileo was jailed because he was a heretic according to the Church’s interpretation of Scripture at the time. Does that mean Scripture is wrong or that we mistranslated and missed the point? What if a gay man is in a committed relationship with another man and they are both pursuing God? Are they sinning, or are they just sinners just like the committed heterosexual couple (i.e. we are all sinners)?

    I do not want to dismiss entire passages of Scripture for my own benefit. That is wrong. I do not want to misinterpret entire passages of Scripture just to fit into my current understanding of the world and pop culture. But when we dogmatically fight for our interpretation of Scripture we get into trouble. As I recall, the Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, the Southern plantation owners all used Scripture to justify their positions. I don’t want to get divisive here, but I will point out that misinterpretation goes both ways. The problem is that we miss the bigger picture, the greater point, the overall message.

    “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12 (New Living Translation)

    What is our innermost thoughts and desires? If one desires another to get personal pleasure, does it matter whether it is straight or gay? If a straight man cannot stay committed to a woman, is that not wrong? In other words, is the issue sexuality or what we are seeking after?

    Do I have the answers? No. These are not answers, per se, but my commentary on my journey towards God. May I look back on what I have said here ten years and see things from a completely different perspective? Assuredly.

    Can I judge your heart or you mine? No. But we can encourage one another to seek after God with all our heart, soul, and mind. To dwell on his Word as often as possible. To pray without ceasing.

    And if we stop putting labels on people; if we truly allowed the poor, smelly homeless person the same rights in the church as the generously-tithing, rich person; if we allowed the gay couple the same rights as the heterosexual couple; if we stopped putting up dogmatic barriers between the “straight and righteous” group and the gay community and instead opened our doors, realizing that we are not the moral police but the examples of Christ to hurting, lost people, then we will finally have gotten the bigger picture. If we realize that our job – and our ONLY job – is to point them in the direction of God, a personal God who changes, convicts, and guides us *all* as we develop our *own relationship* to our Creator, then we will stop focusing on getting outward results. We are all imperfect beings, living in an imperfect world, reaching for a perfect Creator.

    The only theological truth that I will fight to the death for is a God who loved us enough that somehow, in some way I do not understand, made himself the ultimate sacrifice and the link between us and our Creator, and that the way to God is to believe that Jesus, somehow, some way, is God and the link to our forgiveness and our ultimate reconnection to an amazingly personal relationship with a Creator beyond our understanding or comprehension.

    Now if we could all just start fresh from there.

  • JoshMars

    this post has been a blessing to me, as with your whole ministry. i have been reading ezekiel for about a week now pretty much just flicking through until something stands out to me, so i guess i havent noticed little things like this which can change someones view on faith and evangelism completely around; i have now started breaking the book down so that i can read it more thoroughly and be smart about it rather than just hoping things pop up.

    doing what God calls us to do and sticking to it regardless the outcome really does take real faith. in my youth group as leaders we have goals set for next year to grow, and God has given our youth pastor specific ways to do so. i would be interested to see if we barely grew at all while doing everything we were told to do, whether or not we could stand strong and know God’s will had been done.

    thankyou for sharing this, i have been trying to look at your website and facebook regularly since i heard your podcasts from cornerstone festival this year. God bless

  • holzer29

    Dan,

    Thanks for taking the time to write all of that out Sir. The cylinder example a supposed idea, and although every piece of me wants to say YES! I agree! I know that God is very very orderly. His design is not "suppose this or that" type of theology.. This IS why He gave all of us His word in which to read. He wanted it all layed out for us.

    I am sorry for the struggles you face. The difficult thing to understand is why we have the feelings we have, whatever they are, as long as they are seemingly contrary to God, the guilt remains.

    Listen dear Sir, I had the notion in my own mind that I could live my life for me, doing whatever made myself happy, and somehow in my mind, i could still be a faithful follower of Christ. Although i had good intentions, i was doing on for one, on my own accord, and two with a worldly mindset that giveing him what i wanted to give Him, was good enough. Now i am not a theologin. But i do the love of my Savior. I am not claiming that you do not know this love, but the Spirit gently convicts us of the thing that the Lord tells us No to.

    It really is not about telling a man strait or gay that he needs to put his focus on the Lord only, and therefore not be with another person. No, marriages can be very edifying to the Lord, but the main difference to me is the way the the marriage examplifies the relationship that God has with the church. The people are forever called His "bride" and He the suiter.

    God's marriage to us is pure, and He treats us as His beautiful bride.

    Christ's design for the marriage between man and woman is His example of His relationship with church, and it is selfless. Not to say that every heterosexual marriage is completely selfless, unfortunately our world is rapidly declining to a more and more selfish state. But the woman is to honor her husband and the man the head of the household. just as Christ is the head of the church. In same gender marriages, these roles get scewed. One man cannot honor a man as his husband and the other his wife, because there is not distinction is God's first designed roles.

    Sir what you are selling here is a really nice picture but to me it seems contrary to scripture. yes, some of the hate clans that you mentioned did use scripture to back up there terrible acts, but i believe it has been proven that their interpretation of scripture is false just by what has taken place with their cults. The darkness is soon made known among those who stand for truth because all area's do not portray Christ. If Christ and what He stands for is not in all area's, then we are living a lie. I do not know you in your daily doings, and you sound like a man who has a tender heart.

    And if our dialog does nothing more than spark thoughts on either end, then this has been worthwhile. But We both are claiming Christ, and we both are saying this is right, or no, that is right.

    A question i asked myself this morning that all followers of Christ need to ask, is, "all i do edifying to my maker." Thoughts? Words? Actions?

    No, we are not Jesus type perfection, but are striving for our default to be righteousness and what we have to do is sin?

    It's a goal my friend. And here is the golden nugget i found for myself, that the more i seek, the more He reveals to me of my choices. If i am righteouse, it will be made known to me. In the area's that i am not, He reveals those things to me. I tell you, not a day goes by that there is not something that He doesen't say, "I'm not real crazy about that thing you are holding onto, maybe it's time to lay thing down too…"

    So if in fact, the life you life is "okay with God.." seek Him Sir, and He will show you great and unsearchable things that you do not know…

    Because if for a moment, you thought, life could be better, (not better in the sense that your gonna have it all) but better in the way that peace will abound and joy will overtake you, wouldn't you want to explore that?

    You are right when you say that God alone knows your heart. Maybe you feel as though you've done all you can, but because something is a hard battle and your tierd of fighting it, does that mean that it's okay to give in to it? Again, not claiming to know, just food for thought.

    My prayers are yours and thanks for the great dialog.

  • holzer29

    OH and i wasn't confused by the absence of He in your statements.

    God is not as earthly man understand Him to be..

    He truly is Dan, the only man that will not hurt you. Humans by nature fail. and not that we right it off as ok. no never. but we can rest assured in His hands that His hands are pure, righteouse and most of all, safe.

    May you feel His safety today.


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