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HOW DO WE DISCERN THE VOICE OF WISDOM IN THIS SAME-SEX MARRIAGE DEBATE OR IN LIFE IN GENERAL? (Proverbs and Parables # 5)


Creación_de_Adán_(Miguel_Ángel)

WHO IS THE WOMAN IN MICHELANGELO’S PORTRAIT

WHOM GOD HAS ENCIRCLED WITH HIS FREE ARM?

Dr. Ellen Davis, in her Westminister Commentary, believes it is “the woman wisdom who was at his side in creation.”

We are coming to the close of the first part of Proverbs,

the introduction that keeps contrasting

the call of the woman folly with the call of the woman wisdom.

wisdom_and_folly_by_bstrgncragus-d327a3i

Many believe that it is Jesus who is described in Proverbs 8.

Others believe it is the wisdom of the Lord personified.

Either way, it is the voice of the Lord.

But how do we hear His voice?

How do we discern if He is really speaking to us

or if we are imagining it? I see two very important principles.

1. It must agree with God’s Word. (And we must know how to interpret Scripture — in this latest debate on gay marriage, we see so much twisting or genuine misunderstanding of how to interpret Scripture, such as looking at the polygamy in the Old Testament and seeing that as an endorsement from God on “rainbow” marriages.)

2. Those who fear Him and are intimate with Him, are more likely to discern His voice in areas where Scripture is silent. (Such as, “Do I marry this man?” “Do I take this job?” “Where should I give the money with which God has entrusted me?”)

 

Last month my dear friend Linda Strom was with me,

and she always inspires me.

LINDA STROM  IN DOOR COUNTY'S PENINSULA PARK
LINDA STROM IN DOOR COUNTY’S PENINSULA PARK

She often hears His voice in a way that consternates others. She is intimate with Him, she knows His Word, keeps it in context, and begins with it instead of her own opinion. She also hears His still small voice in areas where Scripture is silent, but where decisions must be made.

She runs the helm of Discipleship Unlimited in a way that would make most businessmen crazy. If the funds are not there, yet she has heard from God to begin another faith dorm, or to bless the women in some way, she asks the board to step out in faith. She’s confident, because she has heard His voice, that He will also supply their need.

And for decades, He has done exactly that.

What is her secret?

I think it is this:

Proverbs 8-17

We know, and keep saying, that proverbs are general principles and not promises. So there are times when You seek Him diligently and cannot find Him, cannot discern His voice. But generally speaking, the ones who are most likely to hear Him, are those who are intimate with Him, those who love Him. The psalmist puts it like this, and this is a promise, though it will be on His timetable!

He confides in those who fear him…

Psalm 25:14

Many of you are still reeling from the Supreme Court decision. I don’t think it is wise to initiate the discussion with unbelievers, for it is a side issue and Satan loves to distract from the gospel. But they may initiate it, or believers who are now embracing this may want to talk about it. I do think we have a responsibility to be prepared to listen and to speak the truth in love. (We also must not assume that everyone who speaks against the Supreme Court decision is wise, or that there is no wisdom in those who speak for it.) So this week there is an optional activity to read an article from The Gospel Coalition that has gone viral and is getting both kind and unkind rebuttals. You will read both the article, then the rebuttal, and then write a paragraph with your own view, expressed in love, that might help you when discussing this with those you love.

Also, you’ll have a chance to hear from Wesley Hill, an Anglican brother who tells how he heard from God about his own same sex attraction. I hope you’ll listen, not only because I think Dr. Hill is a helpful voice in these times, but because he is a model of how to hear from God and how to speak the truth in love.

Sunday Icebreaker

1. What stood out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Wednesday Bible Study

Read Proverbs 8:11 and then prepare your heart for study with this.

There is None Like You

2. Read Proverbs 8:1-9 and find the repeated quality of wisdom.

 

E. F. Davis writes: “The connection between wisdom and wealth is occasional, what is invariable is the link between wisdom and righteousness (20). In other words, wisdom is not a commodity or a technique that can be manipulated toward whatever end we choose, it has an essential connection with goodness.

Sara Groves might put it like this: it always “Adds to the Beauty”  Prepare your heart with this:

3. What is one way James 3:17 helps us to identify the Wisdom that is from above? How might you apply this?

4. Read Proverbs 8:10-21 and share anything that quickens you and why. 

5. According to Proverbs 8:22-31, what part did wisdom play in creation?

6. How is Proverbs 9:1-6 similar to the parable we studied last week of the call to the wedding banquet?

7. How does a wise man and a scoffer respond to rebuke? (9:7-9) How do you respond to rebuke?

8. How is the voice of folly different from the voice of wisdom? (Proverbs 9:13-18) What does heeding her voice lead to?

In this latest debate on same-sex marriage, the voice of folly is crying out. The other day one of the new Christians in our church brought me a folder of articles he had collected on this. He is trying to discern the truth, and admits it is challenging for a new Christian. I want you to read first an article he had from The Gospel Coalition. Then I want you to read one of the many rebuttals. I’ve chosen one of the kinder ones for I think she has some legitimate points but also some points that are based on a misunderstanding of Scripture. 

9. Read this article from The Gospel Coalition and share your thoughts. These questions are addressed to those who proclaim faith yet agree with the Supreme Court Decision. Be discerning — which questions are particularly good and which might you skip and why?  Our own Lizzy helped me to see this article is not constructive, but seems like “gotcha!” Not the way of wisdom James describes: peaceable, gentle. But I’m showing it to you and the response to help you  formulate a response that is in line with the wisdom James describes. I think Keller’s response does — but you see what you think. We’re looking for discernment, love, and truth! If you want to skip the “rainbow articles,” do. Lizzy found one I will also post that has discernment, love and truth. I know some of you are weary with all of this, and I understand, yet I feel compelled, for I believe God’s heart is broken over the brokenness of our world and the way His children are failing to respond to their broken brothers and sisters with wisdom.

40 QUESTIONS FOR RAINBOW WAVING FRIENDS

10. There are some terrible rebuttals — caustic and so obviously filled with a foolish distorting of Scripture, but instead I want to present one of the better rebuttals and ask you to find some of her legitimate points (for this will prepare you to hear what they are hearing — the lack of love) but also her misunderstanding or neglect of Scripture. Tim Keller suggests listening to the other side very carefully, and then articulating their argument so they know they have been heard. So read, summarize, and only then de-construct her argument. 

40 Answers to Christians Fearing Rainbow Waving Friends

Article Lizzy found — I thought, perhaps instead of preparing questions we should be preparing to answer questions from our broken-hearted friends who struggle with SSA.

Gospel for a Gay Friend

Also, Tim Keller’s brief response to this issue provides a model. Watch this and comment:

Tim Keller on Homosexuality (less than 3 minutes)

11. Write a paragraph about what you believe, and why, with empathy and love.

Message: Wesley Hill

Wesley Hill: Washed and Waiting

 

12. Share your thoughts and comments. How did Wesley Hill go about hearing from God?

Saturday

13. What is your take-a-way and why?

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  1. 4. Read Proverbs 8:10-21 and share anything that quickens you and why.    Well, a LOT of things stood out here.  But this is what came back to my mind.  All the way from 2 days ago, (which is pretty good, given my short term memory issues).   I’ve been trying to navigate the AM radio dial lately and trying to re-connect with Christian radio by finding some teaching programs.  (I can hardly get an AM signal though).  I came across the program ‘ChristopherCloseup’ with Father Jonathan Morris.  (had never heard of him until I went to the Patterns of Evidence movie in theatres last winter.  And he was a part of the panel discussion which the film-maker had been required to have at his NYC film release).  Anyway, I really liked his manner on that panel, so was glad to run into him on AM radio.    He was teaching on the historic four cardinal virtues that were taught by Plato and Aristotle and others since, which have become the bedrock of a good society.  They are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude.    As I read through this portion, I realize that in one way or another, they are all here.  Prudence:  can be another word for wisdom or as the NIV puts it,  I wisdom, dwell together with prudence.    Justice:  By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just.   Temperance:  I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.  All of these seem to me, the antithesis of someone who is being temperate in their behaviors.  And Fortitude:  I think the whole section alludes to fortitude, because it takes discipline and continuation to navigate through this life with wisdom.  To press on when it would be easier to give up.  And this verse:  I love those who love me and those who seek me find me.   To find wisdom and love wisdom and let wisdom find us, takes a lot of perseverance.   Timely message for me to tie into this portion of Proverbs.

  2. 5. According to Proverbs 8:22-31, what part did wisdom play in creation?   My first thought was that we are so blessed to know that all of creation was made with God’s innate wisdom.  That this wisdom was there before the beginning,  before his deeds of old, appointed from eternity, before the world began.  This passage gives credence to the unsurpassed wisdom that God had when He created the world.  Every aspect of creation being fearfully and wonderfully made.  No mistakes!
     
    But I also remember  discussing this portion in another lesson, awhile ago.  And when I read it then, I could so clearly see Jesus.  Jesus, the craftsman at His side.  Jesus who rejoices in God’s presence.   Psalm 16 says that God will not abandon him to the grave or let His Holy One see decay and then verse 11 says that in His presence there is fullness of joy.   This always sounds to me like Jesus rejoicing in His Fathers’ presence.  And also, Jesus rejoices in mankind as this portion says.  This brings me to John 17 and the prayer he prayed before He left his disciples.  His love for them was so clear.  And yet there was joy that he could go back to share with His Father, the glory that they had had together from before the beginning.    

  3. Sunday Icebreaker 
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why? – Dee I want to thank you for stepping out and bringing this to the blog. This is such a hard topic and sometimes no matter what we say we are accused of being judgemental or hypocrites.
    When I first saw the picture of the woman being embraced by Jesus’ arm I thought first of the woman caught in adultery, how Jesus protected her and everyone else left because they were without sin he wrapped his arms around her even though she sinned against him.
    I also love how your friend Linda has so much trust in the Lord that she steps out in faith knowing that He will be right there by her side. To know the more that we are intimate with Jesus the more we will hear his voice and know that He is leading us on his timetable is just a refreshing thought. It continues to amaze me how much love Jesus has for all of us if we would just open our hearts to Him.

  4. As I ate some chips and salsa for supper, I started wondering about Michelangelo again and googled, “Why did Michelangelo paint fat women?”  Obviously, I wasn’t the first to ask this question.  Interesting or thought-provoking quotes:
    From http://www.femininebeauty.info/medieval-body-size-preferences

    Certainly, one should be careful about inferring public preferences from medieval paintings, but speaking of the influence of Christianity, guess what Christianity has to say about gluttony?  It is a sin.  So why would a largely Christian population have a favorable view of the most obvious sign of gluttony, namely excess body weight?  A careful examination reveals that excess body fat was stigmatized in medieval Europe.
     

    Another site discusses sexual imagery in Michelangelo’s work.  At first I included the link, but then looked at the page more closely.  Quotes would have been okay, but the overall page was not edifying.  The author did say that Michelangelo used male anatomical models for most females he painted; he also indicated that wherever the [female] body was draped, the face was female.  Also, the devil was represented as a woman.  The author also discussed the degradation of the female body.  An art history book suggested that male bodies were considered superior to female bodies; by making females more masculine, Michelangelo de-emphasized women’s inferiority.
    I also read a NYTimes article about him, describing how RICH he was, but CHEAP!Here’s a virtual visit to the Sistine Chapel.  Pretty cool!  http://www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html

     

    1. My daughter was surprised by the Sistine chapel.  I can’t remember what she said was so much different than she imagined.  I think I will take the virtual tour!
      (Also:  my default for not getting too frustrated with my body size and shape is that Michelangelo painted fat women!  I affectionately call myself a ‘Renaissance woman’ and am happy to live in oblivion about why he chose that particular body type!    Ha! )

      1. Wanda, lol! Love your outlook!! :))

        1. 🙂    

  5. 2. Read Proverbs 8:1-9 and find the repeated quality of wisdom. – Wisdom is constantly around us. No matter where we are in life it is there. Will our eyes be open enough, will our minds be susceptible to it. If we are yearning to do right, wisdom and guidance are there. We have to set our minds to seek it out, and when we do, we will find it waiting for us. 

  6. 3. What is one way James 3:17 helps us to identify the Wisdom that is from above? How might you apply this? – “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (‭James‬ ‭3‬:‭17‬ NIV); As I was reading this verse I saw and realized that these are all qualities that Jesus has. If we follow Him, and live our lives like Him, we will be able to identify the Wisdom from above. We will be able to live pure lives, find peace in all situations, be considerate, submit to those in authority, be full of mercy toward others and bear good fruit so non-believers will see Jesus in us. We will not have favoritism with one person over another, we will be sincere in all we do and others will know that there is something different in us.

  7.  
    Sunday Icebreaker
     
    1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
    Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who diligently seek me will find me.
    This really spoke to me as I have experienced finding Him and finding wisdom in some of the hardest decisions I have ever made. Yet, I feel like I do not function consistently in wisdom. There is a tendency in me to rely on my own wisdom rather than on His. Diligently is a key word. With diligence comes work, perseverance, time of which I often am lacking of. I want it now, Lord operating unconsciously on the genie mentality of God.
    I appreciate the testimony of Linda Strom. It made me think of George Mueller, of his faith and complete reliance on God for the supporting of the orphanage that he ran.
    Those who fear Him and are intimate with Him, are more likely to discern His voice in areas where Scripture is silent.
    Lately, my husband and I have been talking about financial matters. Although I wouldn’t say I know his every thought after 27 years of marriage, I can almost always predict how he would decide on particular money matters. And I realize it is because we have an intimate relationship and he has confided in me this many years. So can it be with my relationship with the Lord-if I know Him intimately I will be discerning of His will regardless of the complexity of the situation at hand. And this intimacy is an ongoing process of which I often fall short of. I need to continually fan this into flame.
     
     

    1. I like your comparison of your relationship with your husband and knowing his heart about finances to knowing God so well that we can ‘hear’ His voice.  That is a good way for me to take up the challenge of being more intimate with God.  Thanks, Bing.

  8. 10&11.
    I like the notion that it not only violates Gods will but His design. I never thought about the second half but can see how this is true. With my own parents divorce i see that our family missed out on potential blessings that we could have experienced if my dad had not left. So I like how he also talks about other ways ppl have sexual sin like infidelity and marrying multiple people. It shows homosexuals that Christians are not attacking a specific sin but in fact want those other lifestyles to be avoided in order for all to live the life He intended for us.
    I feel same sex marriage is wrong. I think we tend to think because I feel a certain way it must be right. “I feel” is one reason they say its ok. But we all have feelings, and all feelings are not from God. I think of it this way…. We all have temptations, but just because I feel like eating an entire box of  glazed donuts which would satisfy my pregnancy cravings doesn’t mean I should or its right. Even if I want to, which I do many days!!! I can pray for God to take that desire away and give me strength to resist.They can pray for God to help them with their earthly desires too. Replace the sin with truth 🙂

    1. Natalie, you articulated your thoughts so well, and I so agree with you..As difficult as it is in relationships we can still make the choice not to scratch that itch.

  9. 6. How is Proverbs 9:1-6 similar to the parable we studied last week of the call to the wedding banquet?
    Lots of similarities in the setting.  Feast prepared, servants sent out to call in the guests etc.  Here’s what stands out to me.   In Luke 14:15,  one of the men at table said, ‘Blessed are those who eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’     Now, this could mean heaven.  Or it could mean God’s kingdom here in this life.  Following His ways, His Word, His will.   (I haven’t listened to Keller from last week, yet, to find out what he found ironic about that verse.)   But I’m thinking of it now, as feasting in God’s kingdom here on earth.  Because that is a feasting that isn’t literal, but spiritual.   In the Proverbs passage, the woman, Wisdom calls out to invite people in to her feast.  And she calls the simple.  Those who lack judgement.  The feast she prepared must be what they need in a spiritual sense to gain wisdom and understanding.   Those who reject the feast in Luke 14, do not get to eat of any of it.  No gain for them.  In Proverbs, the instruction is to leave your simple life  and the benefit is that you:  LIVE and walk in the way of understanding.  This seems like the same call that Jesus makes to us.    Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.  (Matt. 11:28)    I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.  (John 8:12)    If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink,  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.  (John 7:37-39)     I think the pattern is clear.  Rest.  Light. Understanding.  Life.  Living Water.  All blessings of the kingdom of God.  And this is just skimming the surface, really. A lot of similarities to the Beatitudes too.  

  10. 7. How does a wise man and a scoffer respond to rebuke? (9:7-9) The scoffer or mocker gives insults and abuse and hates the one who rebukes.  The wise person becomes wiser and loves the one who rebukes.
     
    How do you respond to rebuke?  both ways. It seems to depend on the person doing the rebuking– my history with him or her, whether I trust the one who rebukes — and the integrity of the one doing the rebuking.  This question helps me see that I could become wiser if I have a different attitude toward being rebuked, particularly when the person doing the rebuking is a scoffer or a jerk.
     
    8. How is the voice of folly different from the voice of wisdom? (Proverbs 9:13-18)  What does heeding her voice lead to?Folly might sound sweet, flattering, easy but it leads to death.

  11. 9. Read this article from The Gospel Coalition and share your thoughts.  (40 Questions article)
     
    I did become frustrated reading the questions  — and I’m not sure that some who were lamenting the Supreme Court decision could answer the questions better than those who supported it.  Although I may not ask direct questions, there are a couple of things I would like to understand — that it would be crucial for me to understand before asking any questions. I would want to better understand their definition of marriage (and reason they support the Supreme Court decision) and their views of/beliefs about  Scripture.  Perhaps a couple of the introductory sentences, which I re-read after scanning the questions, help me understand why I am uncomfortable with the article — and inform discussions I would have.  Although I don’t support same sex marriage, I am a little closer to neutral about the Supreme Court decision (still need more info to understand the Constitution & states’ rights, because that is a bigger issue to me than legalizing same sex marriage).

    There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. (emphasis added)

    DeYoung is addressing fears and worries of believers.  Rather than addressing these fears and worries by putting others on the defense, I would prefer that he address what the Bible says about fear and worry.  In essence, excess fear and worry point to idolatry.  Is my ultimate (or even current) well-being determined by this decision?  When my hope is in my own control, comfort, wealth, power etc., I do feel afraid and worried.  Yeah, I could get bent out of shape about social ostracism and cultural marginalization; however, I’ve seen those who have been perceived to be gay ostracized, bullied, and marginalized for as long as I can remember.  I am not fighting for the right for believers to be a comfortable part of surrounding society — when God has given us something much better.  I Pt 2:9   “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  There’s something wrong when we are not culturally marginalized.  
     
    One of the reasons this issue isn’t a big trigger for my idolatry also is reflected in the sentences above:  DeYoung referred to our friends, family members, and fellow church members who supported the SCOTUS decisions.  These are people I know and love.  I already knew their opinions and their experiences.  When the issue is personalized to my own circle, I’m not surprised by the rainbows, rants, compassion, or snarkiness.  People stayed in character:  the ranters ranted or were snarky, depending on their viewpoints; a couple people who have been up close and personal with the “social ostracism and cultural marginalization” of people who are LGBT seemed relieved.  When I viewed one of the rainbow FB pics, I was more concerned that the person who posted it would be further marginalized from her church, driven away from the Gospel, than I was that she rainbowed her profile pic.  The SCOTUS decision primarily illustrates to me the importance of not just understanding but responding.  I tend to tune out when people on either side sound too extreme; some of the questions give me a better framework for thinking about their world views and how I might better engage.  But the decision doesn’t light a fire under me because I have been involved in discussions about this for 30+ years. 
     
    My beliefs about truth regarding same sex marriage come from the same Source that emphasizes compassion and mercy.  When considering both the law and gospel, sin and grace, there are some questions I definitely would not ask:
    I absolutely would not ask a question that points to research as support for beliefs (though I’d love to discuss it). First, I wouldn’t want to argue research and only could dig deeply into it with someone who has a relatively sophisticated understanding of statistics and research design.  It is not ethically feasible to design a study to test whether opposite-sex or same-sex parents cause better child outcomes.  In addition, if this is like other areas of family relationships, outcomes for children (and adults) will improve as social stigma decreases.  I am not threatened by research results which are not consistent with my beliefs about right and wrong.  A conversation about research results associated with same sex marriage would be best set in the context of philosophy of science, role of science, and finally research methods, reliability, and validity.  Then we are getting into the types of sessions I participate in at conferences. From what I’ve observed, those who are waving rainbow flags either are LGBT or know/have known people with SSA well.  I’d also delete questions that seem obviously offensive, irrelevant, are annoying, or point away from the Gospel.  Some questions would be better if they were tweaked.Perhaps a good guideline for any of the questions would be to “use them” on myself first.  Many of these questions also are appropriate for examining “traditional marriages.” I do like that many of the questions would be good for me to answer.  There are some that make me curious.  I also might use (and rewrite) some of the questions for a different purpose:  class! 
     
    Although I don’t particularly love the questions, I have a bigger problem if I’m just figuring out now that my friends and family support or are likely to support same-sex marriage.  If they are waving rainbow flags and I am surprised or frightened, I probably wouldn’t even call them friends.  It’s a little late to walk in with 40 questions about same-sex marriage; I need to get to know them first.  

    1. Renee – thoughtful post …..your paragraph about believers’ fear and worries about being marginalized….ending with the 1 Peter 2:9 quote is EXCELLENT.  Like, like, like!!  “There’s something wrong when we are NOT culturally marginalized.”  Amen to that.  And yes, I still cringe when someone describes me as “religious” – ugh.  Heart check time.  🙂  
       
      One thing though – maybe I’m reading this incorrectly, but isn’t there a huge difference between what we are hoping for from those who are fellow BELIEVERS and those who make no claim to believing the God of the Scriptures??  I do think that when those we sit next to in the church are celebrating this decision wholeheartedly, it might be time for a question or two!!  🙂  When my unbelieving friends and relatives cheer and maybe even gloat a little….well, I do understand.  My neighbor posted a picture of a lovely rainbow here a night or two ago…..and he begged others to celebrate with him and see that the whole universe was rejoicing in this decision!  My stomach actually felt sick when I observed the mocking of God….the incredible sign he gave to Noah……twisted and used to celebrate something quite different than God’s promise to mankind.  🙁  BUT…..I didn’t expect anything different from David…..and I was not “disappointed” in him!  If that same post had been made by my friend Karin (who I did, in fact, sit next to in church last night!)….well.  Different story indeed.  I WOULD have questions for Karin and a discussion of the Scriptures.  Does that make sense?  

      1. I see your point Jackie, and I agree about believers versus non-believers. 

      2. Jackie, I agree with you.  I should have explained my context better.  One of the reasons I want to know about the person’s view of Scripture, as well as the definition of marriage, is to understand if they are believers, if the Gospel has captured their heart.  That gets back to the issue of expecting something different from believers vs unbelievers.

        Also, I didn’t see much response at all to the SCOTUS decision (in comparison to what I’ve seen throughout the years among nonbelievers) —  I didn’t see anything that surprised me because I already knew the positions of those few who might support same sex marriage & also called themselves believers.  I wasn’t in church the Sunday following the decision; I primarily have attended churches where people in the pews are more likely to defend their rights in society than to wave rainbow flags. I’m not sure about the church I attend now, but I have attended/belonged to two churches in which people were vocal about ostracizing and culturally marginalizing gays — even when they were dying and open to the gospel.  That was a long time ago.  I was shell-shocked by the fear and what came across as hatred, and it has shaped my perspective since then.  I don’t want the responsibility of dividing people into categories of moral and immoral; if anything, I am intrigued by the “immoral” who have the guts to show up in the conservative churches I primarily attend.
         
        The rainbow flags make me uncomfortable, too;  my stomach turns when I drive past a church that has a rainbow flag on its front (but that was there before the SCOTUS decision). Among my friends and family (and if there were any in the church pews) who would wave a rainbow flag, I’ve been having those conversations for a long time.  I’m not that uncomfortable because I understand the bigger picture of their lives — and I already know the areas on which we disagree.  If I were surprised to see someone waving a rainbow flag & I sat next to them in church, I might be a combination of angry, disappointed, and/or  intensely curious — depending on how well I knew the person and positions they have taken in the past.  Although I may have a question or two or 40, I would hope I would realize that I didn’t know the person as well as I thought I did and begin by understanding/listening.  Depending on the relationship, I might use some of the questions on the list — including those that I thought were offensive, because that’s how we talk to each other anyway.  (This discussion is motivating me to pick up the phone and call someone who just might have waved a rainbow flag — I could ask her if she did! If she did, what on earth was she doing??). 

        I’ve seen raunchy celebrations by non-believers (years ago), read other perspectives of believers (years ago) and live a relatively sheltered life now.  20 to 30 years ago, I was part of discussion groups — wondering how we can minister to those with AIDS, an IVCF grad student group hosting a respectful conversation/evening with gay students on campus.  Ten years ago, I checked into a hotel in Rio (with my niece!) when there was a gay pride event with wall to wall people on the Copacabana beach (I was a little freaked, but we couldn’t leave the hotel without walking through the mass of people — and HAD to ask people for directions because the crowd was so thick we only could see beyond the bodies by looking up at the hotels).  I’ve stayed with gay couples through AirBnB, have friends who are in long term, committed same sex relationships  — and have had conversations with (almost) strangers about their church experiences.  THEY usually are the ones who bring it up, especially if I even hint at faith.  I dunno — I guess it seems more like relationship building than question-asking, either with believers or unbelievers, partly because I don’t always know who the believers are.  For me, the SCOTUS decision only confirmed what I already knew about people — all over the continuum of opinions — though my media perspective was limited to the Internet and radio, and I didn’t go looking (wasn’t able to or I might have!) for controversy.  So reactions to the SCOTUS decision seemed like old news to me, just another boring day at the “office” — and the questions? If the relationship is close enough to ask questions, I’ve probably already asked them — I HOPE I would ask them in the situations that were appropriate, but I didn’t see ANYONE who surprised me celebrating the decision.  The closest thing to celebration I saw at all was on the Internet — by strangers (because I slept most of the week!)

      3. Jackie:    I chuckled at your statement about cringing.  (I hope that’s okay!)  Was remembering the day I connected with my next door neighbor after her husband died unexpectedly.  Her words were all over the map, in her grief and shock and I just let her ramble.  At one point she started talking about her husband’s beliefs and how they differed from hers.  And somehow she squeezed in; ‘I know you’re super religious’ .  It took me a few seconds to realize she was talking about me!  Inside I smiled AND cringed.  At least she noticed something.  And I am sure that’s why people say that about you too!  They see a difference.

    2. oh Renee…..also so much agree with you about pointing to research……slippery slope indeed!  “…..outcomes for children (and adults) will improve as social stigma decreases…” .  Great point and common sense.  and so much more.  helpful to think through this.  

      1. Dee-I really liked Mike Murphy’s pastors article. I have had that thought..among many others. This has been so good for me. 

      2. Dee – thanks for sharing that FANTASTIC quote from the article your friend sent you!  “Instead, Jesus used moments of conflict as an opportunity to define in word and deed the character of God’s greater Kingdom.”  Oh, how I need that !!  My own pastor had said to me just a few weeks ago the simple words “study Jesus” and those words have been constantly pinging around in my soul.  Your example here is PERFECT – as is our Jesus!  🙂  

      3. Dee, I love that quote.  Any chance we can see the whole article? (maybe upload into FB group??)

        1. Agree!  Would love to read this whole article too.  Thanks for the great quote, Dee!

  12. 10.  Rebuttals: (40 Answers) So read, summarize, and only then de-construct her argument.
    SummarizeThe author first quoted DeYoung and then responded to his questions.  She grew up in conservative Christian environment, was homeschooled, and attended a conservative Christian college.  When she was 18, a friend of hers from a very similar background came out as gay.  She couldn’t accept that God would allow that to happen to her friend; the stereotypes she had heard about gay people didn’t fit him; and she had difficulty reconciling her experience with the Bible as she had learned/read/heard it.  Her friend’s goodness, his testimony, led her to find Scripture passages which seemed to more accurately fit him and affirm him.  She also considered the broader picture provided by science and common in society with definitions of sex and marriage.  She was against abuse in any form, and several of her responses demonstrated a sense of justice and fairness. 

    She synthesized her experiences (care for her friend), background in Scripture, and personal values were pulled together into the foundational beliefs of loving others and doing good.  Her sense of fairness allowed her to recognize questions which sounded insulting to LGBT community since the same issues occur in heterosexual relationships.  Her emotions were demonstrated after she became annoyed with some of the questions that either seemed degrading or requested information that anyone could obtain with a google search.  She responded to all 40 questions!

    Will deconstruct tomorrow night.  Definitely helps to summarize before inserting my opinion.   Note to self: go back to her definition of marriage – consistent with her other answers. (editing — I think I did a little deconstructing above, but I HAVE TO QUIT FOR THE NIGHT. No more 3 am bedtimes!)
     
     

    1. Whoa Dee..LOVED this. Loved how you agreed we must love our neighbor and also that God designed marriage to be between a man and a woman for it is a picture of an eternal mystery-we are so alike yet so different..“Adam’s rejoicing at Eve being bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, yet so OTHER, is akin to our relationship with Christ. He left heaven to become flesh — bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh — to save us — yet He is so Other. This is the mystery to which marriage points. “

    2. This helped me Dee.  Especially the incarnation of Jesus and significance of Jesus and His bride.
       

    3. Dee, This is good.  I’ve been thinking about SSA in light of Song of Songs for much of the day.  Because that study was SO powerful for me (started bawling today when I was telling someone about the impact the study had on me) , I’m pondering how that might fit with this discussion, especially with believers.

        1. I will pray about this, Dee  — regularly.  This will be (is) near the surface of my brain (ok, that might not be anatomically correct), partly because I am selfish — and want the book, also want to share it!

  13. Here is a question that keeps circling around in my mind with regard to God’s Wisdom and all we have been looking at here…..is it possible to be truly hearing from God and following His lead and YET be misunderstood and have our closest relationships marred and scarred and battered?  I’m referring of course to my experience this week with my daughter that I shared on the FB prayer page.  Even though in this particular case there was quick reconciliation……that is not always so.  And in the heat of the conversation I WAS praying fervently and saying VERY LITTLE!!!  I guess what I’m saying is that I truly DID believe that the Lord was intimately guiding my words or lack of words.  And STILL there was a blowup!  Now after the blowup I went on mowing and had a LOT of words with Jesus…..I hope they were respectful, but they were most surely blunt!  When looking at James 3:17 and the word “purity” as the starting point, I had been led to pray over Psalm 51 that very day….so I KNOW that my own repentance MUST come first!  I don’t want to minimize my constant, daily need for repentance……but I do believe that we can be smack in the center of God’s will and hearing and following His Wisdom….and still see waves in our relationships!  Agree?  Disagree?  If I’m getting us way far off track I apologize!  But this is just a snippet of how this week’s study has been woven into my daily experience!  

    1. Jackie, Totally agree with you on this.  🙂

    2. wow, Jackie.  TOTALLY agree…  I’ve been caught off guard sometimes when I’ve felt attacked when I thought I was seeking the Lord — felt as if the rug were pulled out from under me.  Other times, my beliefs may have been “right,” but my attitude was arrogant and condescending — no more a reflection of the Lord than those who are openly promoting sexually immoral behaviors.  During the past months, I’ve had discussions with a counselor about being wise as serpents, harmless/innocent as doves.  I do believe we increasingly will be right in the middle of those conflicts — and it is painful, even when seeking the Lord.  Think of Jesus’ relationship with His Father, especially during and preceding His crucifixion.  The counselor told me that those who are harmless as doves but not wise end up dead! Yeah, I do need to add wisdom to the mix.  But ultimately, if we look at Jesus and his disciples, the combination of wisdom and innocence still was associated with conflict/persecution — even though the disciples were refined through the process.This seems SO complicated.  On the one hand, I start to think that maybe we should spend more time seeking the Lord, preparing for persecution, than defending ourselves.  Still, we are called to defend the gospel.  And the bigger picture is that He loves us, is drawing us closer to Himself, and is preparing us — allowing us to go through the fire — to be with Him forever.  The hard part for me is remembering the big picture of God’s love for me and for the person with whom I am in conflict at the same time I am responding to the pain of conflict in a relationship, particularly when the conflict is related to Him.     ???????????????????????

    3. Yes.  Yes.   I totally agree also.  I remember spending days and weeks praying 2 specific things for my oldest and then setting a time to spend with him.  We went for a long walk and talked for hours and I was praying and being calm and respectful the whole time.  The conversation still became very difficult and intense.  And I realized that the 2 very specific things I had prayed for (one was that he would be open to reading Keller’s  ‘The Reason for God’ because I knew he had received it from his in-laws earlier) were very definitely answered with a resounding NO.   I became very discouraged and stopped praying specifics for a long time.  I decided my only prayer would be,  “Lord, take them safely to heaven.  I have no idea how that will happen.”    After reading Yancey’s PRAYER and other things, I have begun to pray specifics again.  But I totally believe that many conversations and relationships will just always be intense.  And may blow up in our faces.  (part of it is personality.  Both my son and I are very passionate people). And one GOOD thing about his angst over Christianity,  is that it means it is still VERY important to him.  He is anything but apathetic about Christianity.  Now, I am praying that his anger would be directed toward God instead of toward the Church.  Because I do believe God is waiting to hear from him again.  

  14. I actually liked this from Piper, it was one of the earlier articles (6/26): http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/so-called-same-sex-marriage
    Exerpt: “Christians know what is coming, not only because we see it in the Bible, but because we have tasted the sorrowful fruit of our own sins. We do not escape the truth that we reap what we sow. Our marriages, our children, our churches, our institutions — they are all troubled because of our sins.
     
    The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
     
    And in our best moments, we weep for the world, and for our own nation. In the days of Ezekiel, God put a mark of hope “on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 9:4).
     
    This is what I am writing for. Not political action, but love for the name of God and compassion for the city of destruction.”

    1. Thanks, Lizzy.  This is particularly thought provoking for me right now, in the context of this discussion:

      The difference is: We weep over our sins. We don’t celebrate them. We don’t institutionalize them. We turn to Jesus for forgiveness and help. We cry to Jesus, “who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

      I’m wondering how we decide which sins we do/do not institutionalize  — and for whom? Avoid institutionalization in the church or for society as a whole?   For example, some countries have very strict rules about divorce.  Have we institutionalized divorce when we allow divorces which do not fit a Biblical definition?  Or do we institutionalize adultery and fornication if we allow individuals/couples to “keep” children conceived outside of marriage?  I’m really wrestling why the church fights against the institutionalization of some sins & not others?  Is it just a matter of time & context?  I vaguely remember that there was resistance to having a broader legalization of divorce — and when most young women who became pregnant outside of marriage were hidden away to give birth and put child up for adoption.  Do we only weep over the sins that don’t fit the current church culture?  Why not weep corporately over all sins?  Why not un- institutionalize all sexual sins?  It’s not that I favor institutionalization of sin, but I now am wondering if we have the cart before the horse if we are not weeping for our own sins, consistently repenting and seeking forgiveness, individually and corporately before getting hung up on what unbelievers’ (majority?) beliefs about institutionalization.  (also still wrestling with this in light of church/gov’t issues)

    2. Interested in the Ezekiel passage.  So much to learn!  I just looked up the article.  thanks.

  15. 2. Read Proverbs 8:1-9 and find the repeated quality of wisdom. It is repeated that wisdom will speak truth, straight and right. This implies absolute truth, as well. Not a changing wisdom that ebbs and flows. I also see repeated a command to hear which reveals another quality of wisdom: that it can be heard. It is always there for the seeking and the hearing. Though I know sometimes God hides wisdom for us to seek out (Prov 25:2). In order to hear I must stop talking and listen.
     
    3. What is one way James 3:17 helps us to identify the Wisdom that is from above? How might you apply this? It may be helpful in discerning those who are arguing religion (either religion that supports or does not) and those that are operating in Love and gospel. I am thinking agin of Keller who shared his opinion without anger or insecurity, but instead presented it in a way that will give depth to the meaning of God’s “no” rather than identifying it as just “another rule to follow that limits my freedom in what I want”. Also, if a discussion starts to embody the opposite of this verse (anger, no mercy, not open to reason) in  myself or the other speaking then it is time to abandon the conversation, or to regroup. Another application is to be ready to listen to reason, this goes back to listen, listen, listen, before trying to dismantle if at all. I MUST remember that a heart cannot be won by changing an opinion, it must be won through the Holy Spirit’s work on their heart. I also must be impartial to myself. To lay down the idol of approval and let the conversation go where it may instead of focussing on my “oral performance.” 
     
    4. Read Proverbs 8:10-21 and share anything that quickens you and why. Wisdom has both discernment and strength. The two things I pray most for in regards to speaking to others. my strength and discretion fail, but by seeking His Wisdom (and if we apply Christ is that wisdom then seeking Chriet) I will gain both strength and discernment.
     
     I am also struck by verse 13, “The fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil…” Seems more and more  our discernment comes through what we CAN do rather than trusting God for what we should do. And though we need to hate evil, I must not let this become a rift in relationships. In a sense to become comfortable with it so that I don’t get squeamish and yet hate it? I just see so many have a shield of self-righteousness with “obvious” sins that it inhibits any real conversation. But if I remember that we all have sin, this humbles and softens me, and perhaps moves me forward to ask questions about the others point of view, not to lead them to THE answer but to understand more and be able to appreciate the context of therr life, etc. I still think asking questions is good but not with the motive to win, instead with a genuine interest to know more.

    1. Hey there, jillwithaj 🙂     Love your #4. And #3 You said it better than I could have. (outta time now, but would like to discuss some of these more with you.  these answers are so good and help me clarify my own thinking)

    2. Jill,   I think you just nailed it.  This is so key.  
       

       I still think asking questions is good but not with the motive to win, instead with a genuine interest to know more.

  16. I commented early on that I wasn’t a fan of the “40 questions”–but I agree with Renee, a good one is ‘how do you define marriage?’–but even before that, one question I have had swirling in my head lately,–‘what does “one nation under God” mean to you?  I feel like that is where we (as a nation) have really gotten off path. If we are truly “under God”, we are submitting to His Word, His laws, His plans…just thinking out loud again 😉

    1. Unfortunately Lizzie, the “under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance, was inserted in the 1950’s I believe. So, your nonbelievers would say that it doesn’t count. They believe it should be taken out.

    2. Lizzy,  Good thinking out loud…  I don’t fully understand this idea myself — in terms of Constitution, Declaration of Independence — and then throw in some of the horrible sins that also went along with the development of this country.  I just plain lack unbiased knowledge.

  17. Listened to the Wesley Hill sermon last night. I liked his “style.” I also liked how he tried to debunk his own argument. Quite “sciencey” if you ask me. His debunking led him to these verses:
     
     
    “He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” “(‭Matthew‬ ‭19‬:‭4-6‬ ESV)
     
     
    From that point on he knew that his SSA was not biblically supported. Unfortunately for him (I suppose), that meant a life of celibacy. He equates a life of celibacy with being single your whole life or being married your whole life. They are just all different scenarios God designed for us.
     
    He, like Christopher Yuan (Out of a Far Country), is a strong man.  I admire him for his viewpoint and his strong Christian faith. He is trying to live as God wants us to live, and not as he wants to live.

  18. I’ve been thinking about the painting still. The woman (Eve?) seems to come out of God’s side, just as she came from Adam. 

    1. Oh yeah, Laura — that’s a good insight.  She’s at God’s side even before she came from Adam’s side.  I guess woman was in God’s mind/knowledge before she was created, even if she didn’t physically exist.  That elevates women.  And it is interesting that the woman in the painting is a “real one” rather than a man with more breast tissue!  SO, God’s idea of women was different than Michelangelo’s 😉

  19. Thoughts about number 9.      Such a GOOD discussion going here this morning.  The blog was so quiet yesterday, I was really surprised at how much all of you early risers (or night owls) have added!  I am so grateful, Dee for how you have led us this week and for your flexibility in adapting the ‘assignment’  regarding the 40 question article and response.

     I am not fighting for the right for believers to be a comfortable part of surrounding society — when God has given us something much better.  I Pt 2:9   “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  There’s something wrong when we are not culturally marginalized.  

     
    Like others, I agree that Renee’s passage (quoted above) about believers fears and worries is really profoundly articulated.  Renee, your essay just went to the top of my file of best things I’ve read after the SCOTUS decision.
     
    As in almost every cultural/social issue, fear and fear mongering is what I see as the LOUDEST response from believers.    I don’t believe this is the response of the majority, especially those who are really grounded in the gospel, but it is definitely the loudest message.   And I believe strongly, that it is this kind of message that turns unbelievers and doubting believers away.  And adds to the opposite response on the other end of the continuum.  
     
    Perhaps, the scientific maxim,  For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.  fits here.    It is the extremes that I avoid listening to, as well.   Yesterday, I saw  the headline,   Oregon declares WAR on Christianity! in regard to the Klein’s bakery situation and part of the point of the article was in essence.   Let’s get organized.  Let’s react. Let’s fight back.   And I thought,  Is this the gospel response?     To drum up as much anger and incensed behavior by those who claim the gospel?    These are the kinds of reactions that make me shrink back from being identified with evangelical?  believers on a large scale.  And even though I disagree completely on how that case has been handled in Oregon, I think this kind of viral reactions by those who are angry will not help the matter.  And what is the point of sounding off on facebook about it if that is all one plans to do?   
     
     
     I have been so drawn to the emphasis on our own hearts, our own views of Scripture and relationship building.  And there have been many articles posted here in the past two weeks that have helped me see things more clearly. I have to hold my husband in high regard here.   He supervises LGBT students in internships and also a straight student who are working in an LGBT environment.   He works with several LGBT colleagues and because of his calm and kind demeanor and treating everyone exactly the same, he has built bridges that could have easily been walls.  He’s so busy working, I doubt he’s read or made many conclusions about the news.  Just carries on with life and the people God puts in his path.  The respect and honor he receives from those in his field speaks much.  I agree with Renee that relationships have to be the bedrock for forming and/or asking questions.  
     
    I have failed miserably at this in the past.   My oldest’s words still haunt me, when I came down hard on him for something he was involved in.  After my shameless rant, he looked at me with sorrowful eyes and said,  But you never even asked me why?.      I hold that as a hallmark moment and try to remember it now, before I engage.  
     
    I also wasn’t in church the Sunday after the decision but I watched the sermon from our new pastor online.  He said two things.  That the denomination was having a forum to discuss these issues at an upcoming date and encouraged everyone to go to it.  And that, now more than ever we need to be gracious and loving. This came with a quote from Jim Daly.   And then he went on to his sermon, which was as planned.  Not a reaction.    My husband and I just looked at each other and grinned when we saw this.  The grace was so refreshing.  AND the opportunity to discuss it with other believers in the denomination.  This is very different from past church experience in issues like this.

    1. Wanda, Excellent point about the LOUDEST vs the majority.  One challenge I’ve seen is the majority may “get” and embrace the Gospel, but the loudest are LOUD — and that gives the impression that a whole congregation might be that way.  To a certain extent, I experienced this growing up. For a long time, I believed  ___ is what the church taught.  Over time, I learned that a substantial # of people disagreed, but challenging some people is asking for trouble!  I have to remind myself of that now, too, when someone is particularly outspoken about issues in a church.  That person doesn’t necessarily speak for the whole congregation.Glad you heard grace from the sermon in your new church.

  20. ” he has built bridges that could have easily been walls” Wanda–THIS is exactly where I feel God is gently, but also strongly, nudging me! I love this about your husband. I am hesitant to share my thoughts here, because God is still working in me, I’m still trying to hear Him on all of this. But I can’t stop asking myself how, honestly, would Jesus interact with the LGBT community today? Are we really, as Christians, modeling it? We have a very liberal, but not Biblical, Church in town and their sign says “LGBT welcome here”. Normally it would’ve just made me angry, but I felt overwhelmingly sad. If that’s the only kind of “church” willing to welcome “them”, how will they ever hear the Gospel? I know businesses should not be forced by the government whom they will serve, but still–if we all slam the doors in “their” faces, how will we ever build relationship–and hope to share the Gospel? The goal still, is to win hearts for Christ, to show them who He is so they fall in love with Him and are transformed…I feel like the only thing they are really hearing right now, from Christians as a whole, is “go away”. 

    1. Thanks, Lizzy.  It’s also sad that such signs in front of churches need to exist at all.  It shouldn’t be a question of who is welcome. The gospel is for sinners of all kinds.  I must confess that I am better at musing about ‘a perfect Christian world’ instead of taking steps of obedience.    

      1. And you’re right Wanda, sad that such need to exist–yet, I fear that the LGBT community does NOT feel welcomed in Christian, gospel-based churches. But it’s not just in churches that there is such division. What does it look like to be willing to build relationship for the sake of the Gospel? So much of what has gone on lately just fueled such a fiery war between “us and them”. It’s hard to see how ministry can still happen.  I’m trying to hear what it looks like to not forget the truth, and yet engage in ministry with the opposing side. As Dee has taught so many times here, the balance of truth and grace. I’m tired of thinking of all the political aspects, and the projections of what is next on the agenda (though it IS concerning, I know He is not surprised!) It all has just become heart-level for me. I know it GRIEVES HIM. And I can’t shake that. The first step for me is my own heart–whether I have direct contact or not (I live in a real bubble). I knew when I first read the GC questions, something didn’t feel right within about them–but then Beth’s questions she posted early in the week really convicted me. This is an issue I have been able to comfortably avoid for the most part. But I think He is taking my anger at the SC decision to fuel greater compassion for the lost hearts involved. And lots of prayer! Rambled, sorry to any who read this ;0

        1. Lizzy- again and again I come back to Rosaria Butterfield’s testimony of how Pastor Ken and his wife Floy….and their CHURCH….welcomed her in….just exactly as she was!  I sometimes think we are much TOO hard on our local churches.  I would feel little angst at all about bringing along a gay person to my little church.  I truly am confident they would find a warm welcome there.  Perhaps for some of us that is the real question….are WE the ones keeping our gay and lesbian neighbors from even being invited into the church?  I think in my case it is ME and NOT my local church!  I simply haven’t taken the TIME to go deeper in some of these frienships ….to where my gay friends might WANT to go with me to my church!  Again, back to Ken and Floy and their willingness to spend

        2. A LONG time in friendship building, talking and eating together… Before ever inviting Rosaria to church!!  ( sorry I posted the earlier post before finishing….).  

        3. Here’s my issue with the “inviting the gay community into church;” why do I need to know you are gay? You don’t have to know I am straight, right? Come as you are! If we are truly Christians then they would come to church with an expectation of being accepted there. Or, are they judging us before they even walk in the door? That we wouldn’t accept them? In the past I didn’t know and I didn’t care. I will always treat people the same either way. What they do in the privacy of their own homes is their business, not mine. What is their reason for going to church? Is it like Wesley Hill? Raised in church and knowing/believing the bible, and wanting to honor God and understand from God’s perspective, do they want to learn about God, or do they want approval (idolatry)? I would expect most gays to be non believers anyway; at least the ones I know and have known are, so I’m not sure there are really that many Wesley Hills out there. I have worked with gays, I have had friends who are gay, even some who died. I never treated them differently. They are people who God created, just like me. I don’t agree with their decision to be gay (no “gay gene” as of today), but I don’t agree with my husband or friends on every issue either. Regarding Jackie’s post below, I’m not very good at inviting anyone to church these days, gay, straight, or otherwise 🙁

  21. Quick observation from Number 10:     I spent quite awhile earlier in the week, reading DeYoung’s article, then the long rebuttal, then looking up the blog writer who wrote it, perusing his facebook page and reading some other rebuttals, which led me to a couple other blogs.  Whew.  The surprising thing for me, that it wasn’t long before I figured out that a close friend of a young friend of ours (our friend is sorta like a family member) was doing a lot of the talking. both on the facebook page and in the rebuttals.  Wow.   That was eye opening. While I don’t know the writer personally, knowing that it was that close really made me think.   Seeing these young people (30ish) who, like my kids were raised in conservative Christian churches, most spending some time at conservative Christian colleges, and how strong their feelings and views are; fueled by their experiences.   While I usually don’t agree with many of their conclusions, I must say, I sympathize deeply with their quest.  This is the same quest some of my own have traveled.   And a long time ago, long before this debate heated up to where it has been in recent years, my oldest told me that the church was ‘going to have to change because this WAS going to come about.’  As I’m thinking about that rather prophetic statement, I see that while the church can’t and won’t change the truth of the Word,  hopefully we are changing how we interact with these issues.  

    1. yes Wanda….two of my three kids have been saying much the same for years now….however, they DEFINE this necessary change as this:  the church recognizing and blessing gay marraige in every way equally as marraige between a man and a woman.  In other words, Metropolitan Community Churches.  Here is where Scripture simply does not go.  Truth is truth.  Welcoming SSA fellow believers completely….and being open hearted to unbelieving people in the gay lifestyle is where we HAVE to go.  But blessing and performing gay marraige?  How could it be?  Oh my.  It’s a hard and steep road we walk sometimes…..how much I’ve been reminded of that this very week! I’m simply not political (I know I should be!!)….but I do think that I HAVE to care about the church, the body of Christ.  But I need to constantly take care that my passions don’t mute the love of Christ that He desires to show through my life. ….  ok…..time to get back to cleaning my tack room!!  It’s SO emotional, isn’t it?   

      1. Oh yes, I agree, Jackie.   Those ARE the changes my unbelieving loved ones want to see, now too.   However, when the conversation first began for us, he was still reeling from the mentality that he had heard in our church youth group that AIDS was God’s judgement on gays.  Also, we live in what I would guess is a much more conservative area that you maybe do.  We’re still by and large white, rural and traditional in my little part of the world.  The big city is not far away, but as for the church when my kids were growing up, this was not an open subject. It was black and white and only one position was addressed.  I was happy to stay out of it.  I wish now I had been much better informed.  But the speakers I was listening to then, made no room for any questioning either.  Thus, so much pain for those who, of course, sat amongst us with SSA struggles.  And when my oldest made the statement, he was attending conservative Christian college where he was, at times, bullied for not conforming to the cookie cutter model of Christianity.  Those were the early days of his dissent.  Much has changed.   I have seen tremendous changes in the Church (capitol C) at large, but I also see a huge barrier in the rural area (even more conservative than here where I live now) where I grew up.  By and large, I still see more judgement than mercy from believers I know in those areas. So, I guess my point is that it is good that many churches that were once very hostile have begun to be welcoming.  And that is a good thing.  Though I personally think we have a long ways to go.  I feel like my kids grew up in some tough cross fire when things were beginning to turn.   I still look back at how hostile my home church was toward divorced people in the years that I was growing up.  That has definitely changed for the better. Though the official stance and biblical message they teach,  is likely much the same, divorced persons are now welcomed and participating.  
         
        Sidenote:   My husband, just this moment texted to me to say he just landed in Baltimore!  🙂   He even gets to go to a game at Camden Yards tomorrow or Sat.  (my daughter is quite chagrined that she wasn’t able to go along.)   

        1. Wanda – I can’t help wishing that you had been on that plane that landed in Baltimore last night!  🙂  It does look like your husband may even get a lovely summer day here today (we’ve had a kind yucky summer, weather wise…..steamy, cloudy, rainy….ugh).  He will love Camden Yards – I hope…..of course he probably would have loved it all the more Mon-Wed when the Twins were in town and swept the Orioles!!  Will he be attending the game with people he is with on business?  If not, let me know…..I know lots of fun people who have season tickets and are at “The Yard” whenever the doors are open (which I personally cannot quite imagine….:)  ).  I do remember you saying that Lydia hopes to visit all of the ball parks…..Camden Yards is a goodie.  
           
          As for the more serious part of your entry…..I do get that.   Such sorrow for your son and so many others…..but God can yet bring good from it all.  🙂  

      2. Agreed on all counts Jackie! Even that you should become more political…(!).

        1. Ha!  Laura I don’t think I”ll EVER be a political animal!!  However, I do vote religiously and try to research the candidates and issues to some degree before voting!  

  22. out of replies, but Jackie–100% agree. I had meant to add Rosaria’s story in my post, because that has greatly influenced where God has me (but I got distracted and then decided I’ve said enough for a bit!) I love all you said–my little Church, though very conservative in teaching, would also be VERY welcoming–the problem is with me, as you said. And my safe bubble I’ve let myself live in. One of the good things I see in all this “mess”, at least for me, is that it is forcing me to look at my own prejudices and fears. In some ways it’s been “easier” for me to be a part of our homeless ministry and I am convicted of how I have neglected/avoided this issue. 

    1. Ah Lizzy…..I would never call homeless ministry “easy”!!  You are so nurturing and tender that I’m not surprised that God has drawn your heart to that place.  🙂  And for now, that’s probably EXACTLY where you are supposed to be!  But who knows?  Perhaps one day a “Rosaria” will walk into your life……and that would be a “kairos moment” for which all of this wrestling through the Scriptures with the issues at hand would be the Lord’s preparation for you!  🙂  Just like Colossians 4:6!  I can really see that Lizzy……

    2. I agree with Jackie, Lizzy.   You are so effective in the ministries you’re involved in!  I JUST heard that very thing on the radio; being used WHERE God puts us.  And Jackie, you are doing jail ministry.  Both amazing and sacrificial ministries.   I think I am the one lacking here.  I am hoping to get involved at our new church (but as you know, I have had to take it slow because of my husband’s need for some grieving of the prior church and still being involved in a few ways there, even though we don’t attend on Sundays.)  But right now, I’m just coasting and have been for far too long.  All this wonderful teaching and discussion needs to be foundational for me to be DOING more.  My bubble has been WAY TOO safe.   

  23. Wow, all the discussions here are sooo good I would have to go back and re-read! I did like what Dee shared from her friend’s pastor’s article.
    know that much of the conversation within the evangelical church is about how we can protect ourselves from all these changes, but it is difficult for me to imagine Jesus making that his primary focus. When the secular government or religious establishment targeted Jesus, he did not retreat, bunker down, or lash out. Instead, Jesus used moments of conflict as an opportunity to define in word and deed the character of God’s greater Kingdom. I should make a poster of this and use it as a checklist whenever there is conflict. Use conflict as an opportunity to define in word and deed the character of God’s greater kingdom. Jesus-no words for now to describe you.

  24. 12. Share your thoughts and comments. How did Wesley Hill go about hearing from God?
    Wow, this was an EXCELLENT testimony of Wesley Hill.  I have thought (for years now) that very likely some homosexuality is genetic, but that this is irrelevant to the fact that it is still not God’s will for us.  Just like there is much to suggest that alcoholism is genetic, but we don’t tell an alcoholic “oh well, you can’t help it, you have no choice but to live a life of alcoholism and all that results in.”  We all have our issues, our falseness and we are all in need of redemption.  Sadly, we (as the Body of Christ) have treated this issue differently.  I can tell a group of Believers that I have stage 4 cancer and people come out of the woodwork to rally around me and pray over me (and for me) and I feel so incredibly loved and supported (like here,on this blog, among you all!!!) but Believers who struggle with this issue have to suffer mostly alone, in isolation, and that is precisely where the enemy wants us…isolated.  Much easier to pick off a lamb that is off by itself, away from the fold, than one in the midst of the fold.  I wish I knew what I could do to help change this.  Maybe just sharing our thoughts here will be a step?
    Since some of us don’t do FB, I just also want to also take this opportunity to say how grateful I am for all of your prayers.  These past three weeks have been AMAZING for me.  I feel nearly “normal.”  I have been on the new cancer pill for almost 8 weeks now and so far have had none of the joint aches and flu-like symptoms that I was having so severely on the other one, praise God!  My stomach has also settled down and I’m just living in this moment and thanking Him for every day of this wonderful season.  

    1. Hi Mary E, I am so glad to see you on the blog and that you are doing well. I have been working a lot lately with long crazy hours and a 45 minute ride home afterwards and to save my sanity have deleted my Facebook from my IPad so I do not get to it as easlly anymore, but I am so happy to see the good news. I continue to pray for all of you even when I’m not on here. I will stand in agreement with you for complete healing.

    2. Mary, I think I’ve seen what must be genetic, too… or sometimes maybe related to teratogens?  Though I haven’t had all that much experience, I also suspect this with transgender, too:  For some, there definitely is something going on physically — and within families.  Not sure why, but I’ve known more males than females who have known, at least since adolescence, that they were gay.  Could just be my limited experience, but most of the women I’ve met who identify as lesbian (unless they are college age) have come out of marriages.

    3. Oops — Mary, I initially was going to respond by saying that I am so thankful you are feeling better.  (and then started pondering the first part of your post).  Glad you posted:)

    4. Mary – wonderful comments and food for thought here!  I so agree with your comparison with alcoholism and every other temptation/besetting sin…..but I have used that logic with those close to me who champion gay marraige…..and have been Soooooo shot down!  THEY BELIEVE IT IS DIFFERENT!!!!  So it is not only believers and those in the church who treat it “differently”, but also those “on the other side”……their point being of course, the lonliness and the need to choose a life of chastity, etc….
       
      Your words here:  “Much easier to pick off a lamb that is off by itself, away from the fold, than one in the midst of the fold.”   This brought tears to my eyes.  Such a graphic illustration of the suffering and isolation SSA people may be experiencing.  May it never be.  No true believer should ever walk this path alone….we are the body of Christ and we so need one another.
       
      Rejoicing with you Mary in your exuberant season of “nearly normal”……what a GIFT along the way!  🙂

    5. Awesome news Mary!

    6. Such a good analogy of how the church embraces the hurting in other areas and how isolating SSA can be.   With your experience and perspective, especially.  THRILLED that you have felt so much better.  It brought a huge SMILE when Lizzy told us that last week 😀     Always glad to see you here too!

    7. Mary, so happy to hear the good news that you’re feeling well on this new medication!

  25. 4. Read Proverbs 8:10-21 and share anything that quickens you and why. – Wisdom is so freely out there for us. Nothing is better than it. No precious jewels nothing. Those can all be lost, given away, I had those things and had to give mine all away in order to pay my bills when I was a single mom. They came and were gone in an instant. I wasn’t given the true value, but with Wisdom freely given to us will always be with us if we take it. A free gift from God that can only lead us down a path of righteousness that ends at the feet of Jesus.
    5. According to Proverbs 8:22-31, what part did wisdom play in creation? – It seems to me that wisdom is creation. It was there when God first started creating this world that we live in. It sounds to me from these verses that Wisdom is Jesus.
     

  26. 10.  Rebuttals: (40 Answers) So read, summarize, and only then de-construct her argument.The deconstruction part:  I don’t really want to do this so I’m not going to re-read the response before I post 🙂  

    She was guided by her experience — and chose Scripture passages that fit her experience or interpreted them using her experience to inform Scripture.  I didn’t agree with her view of Scripture, picking and choosing.  And I thought her comment about Saul of Tarsus was rude.  Otherwise, I could see why she would be offended by some of the questions. 

    The author’s friend was a good person — and didn’t fit what the author had heard about Christianity or read in the Bible.  So here’s what I’m wondering now:  Maybe what’s being rejected (either by believers or unbelievers) isn’t “real” Christianity??  I’m wondering if people are rejecting moralism?  And the Gospel just hasn’t soaked in? (That’s how/why I started thinking about Song of Songs.)   Though I appreciate moral behaviors (!), I REJECT MORALISM, too (sometimes).  I also wonder if discomfort with people who are LGBT or support same-sex marriage implies that we somehow think that heterosexuality makes us better in God’s eyes.  I’m thinking that prior to any discussion about the topic, I need to remind myself of the Gospel over and over and over again:  WHY and how I am justified.
     
    I also am thinking of Paul in Athens at the Areopagus, how he began by recognizing that his audience was very religious.  I commend the author’s thoughtfulness and efforts to weave together her experience and the Bible.  And I can understand her frustration with some of the questions.

    1. Renee,   The author of the rebuttal is actually a man (unless he uses a psuedo picture)  I looked up his facebook page and other stuff he wrote which then led me to discover that a friend of a friend/family member of ours interacts with him regularly.  Contributes to his blog.  That was eye opening.  To see how close some of these circles are.   Our friend and her friend were all at the same Chrsitian college.  I see them, as so many, trying so hard to grapple with their culture and the faith they grew up with.   Not coming to the conclusions that I would,  but intensely struggling, just the same.

  27. 6. How is Proverbs 9:1-6 similar to the parable we studied last week of the call to the wedding banquet? – The invitation has been given, we need to make up our minds if we are going to accept. Everything has been prepared for us, everything is free, all we have to do is show up and take it all in. Will we be wise enough to do that, or will we think that we can handle our lives on our own.
    7. How does a wise man and a scoffer respond to rebuke? (9:7-9) How do you respond to rebuke? – A wise man accepts the rebuke and learns from it. He accepts it in love. A scoffer doesn’t heed the warning and only insults the rebuker and causes abuse. I don’t like to make mistakes and when I do I get mad at myself. I tell myself all the time to not fall prey to the scoffer, to let God handle and judge the circumstance. Unfortunately I don’t always listen to myself and fall in to the trap. I can usually handle being rebuked, I don’t like it sometimes at first but I sit back and realize it was only for my own good. I will take what people say to me and learn from it and try to put it in to my daily life if it lines up with the Word of God. 
    8. How is the voice of folly different from the voice of wisdom? (Proverbs 9:13-18) What does heeding her voice lead to? – Folly is trying to lead you away from a righteous life and a relationship with Jesus. It makes you think that all is good but it is only a life of sin and turmoil. It leads you to a life of doom where satan is waiting in the wings.

  28. Just thinking more… I remember a few years ago when a group of believers (students) marched in a gay pride parade.  They had begun to develop friendships with women who were lesbian.  I was told about this but didn’t talk with those who were in the parade.

    Many years ago, I attended an educational event put on by a group on campus that served as a support group for LGBT faculty and students.  One of the faculty members involved was “unusual” — in many ways.  He had a Bible College background, had been kicked out of his church, and was somewhat flamboyant.  I also remember the student president of the organization who served as emcee; her attire/appearance fit the stereotypes. 

    About a month later, I attended an IVCF meeting — and the student president was there.  She had become a believer between the two meetings.  I don’t want to make assumptions too quickly — either about those waving rainbow flags or about those who are in same sex marriages.  God may be working in ways I cannot fathom.  Listening rather than jumping to conclusions is crucial.

    1. Renee, what is IVCF and did she become a believer in Christ?

      1. Laura – Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship.  

      2. yup, converted to Christ.  Later, I can post a little more about my experiences/observations with campus groups over time — but will do it on FB. 

  29. I got educated yesterday.  Someone told me that SSA was a phrase used primarily by Christians so that they wouldn’t have to use the term homosexual, since that might imply acting on the attraction.  I just liked the phrase because it sounded “baggage-free” or descriptive without being emotional.  -> Google (actually, duck duck go):  Sure enough, the phrase is used primarily by Christians, Mormons.  One site summary said something about “academic.”  But a couple sites associated with LGBT communities indicated that they view it as offensive/judgmental because religious people use it to avoid saying gay.  SO, back to LGBT… or use SSA only after the person/people with whom I am talking use the phrase first. When in Rome…

      1. yes Dee…much the same for Sam Allberry and others….I so love that their struggles with SSA are to our gain in re-evaluating WHERE our identity truly lies- in Christ.  🙂  

  30. Been avoiding my paragraph assignment. My head hurts. But my heart hurts worse. I do not have my thoughts “neat” yet and this is probably way to raw to share here, but we’re leaving town! God created male and female. His plan for marriage was that the 2, unique and different, would together, reflect His beauty (I realize this falls way short of saying enough here). All of God’s laws are for our best and His glory. There is a reason behind His laws–it’s not a power trip for Him, it is what IS best–for US. When any of us distort His laws and purpose, there is chaos that ultimately leads to destruction. I do think in some ways other addictions agree similar, alcoholism–not God’s design, and leads to pain for more than just the one individual. But I feel like this is a different issue. I do not know enough about the temptations the LGBT community faces. I had 2 “Rosaria’s” come into my life–once at 12, another at 15, and I was fearful. I pray I would be more compassionate, patient now.I so appreciate Wesley Hill’s courage and faith. I feel anger and deep grief at what the culture has done against God, and yet I do feel deep sadness for those who are just so lost (whether they claim Christianity or not) that they have convinced themselves it’s OK. And I think that is where I end up. Our government beyond disappointed me. My thoughts on the judicial system is a tangent I’ll stay away from. Because I don’t want to allow the political piece (and all the new agendas) distract me from what has been true since the Garden. We are sinners, all of us. There is awful, sick, judgmental-ism in me (and much more) that grieves Him. But we also know the Truth, and I do not want to hide in my bubble–I feel more inspired than ever to share the truth–with whoever is lost, whether the LGBT community or my dream of going to Africa…my takeaway from all this mess is a renewed sense of urgency that He has called me to share Him with the lost. 

    1. Lizzy, I think your thoughts on this are right on target!  It is somewhat complicated and confusing on one hand, and on the other had, it is as straight forward as we all have a bent toward sinning but God has provided a way to get a new “bent” placed in our hearts…actually, to give us a whole new heart!  

  31. I have also dreaded ‘the paragraph’ and I have clearly said way too much already this week so this may be more of a take-away of the whole week than a focused statement. Sorry, DEE.  🙁  

    First:  THANKS to Dee for daring to go here.  And THANKS to everyone for sharing honest thoughts.  I realize, without question, that my pondering is often shaped by the things my loved ones experience and over the years, it has caused me to re-think way more than I ever wanted to re-think.  Much more readily, I see stuff through the lens of those who left the faith, in part because of issues like this.   I also realize that though I read and study a lot, I do not have many, first hand interactions with those in the gay community. When I have had conversations, it has never been about their sexual preference.   AND I’ve mostly chosen to stay away from the discussion with Christians too.  So, this week has been hugely challenging for me.   Actually, all that said, I see that I HAVE needed to know what I believe and get back to the nuts and bolts of this issue.  I LOVE Renee’s words when she said that her beliefs about the truth regarding SS marriage come from the same SOURCE that emphasizes compassion and mercy.    Bottom line:  I DO believe that marriage is sanctified by God, only when it is between a man and a woman.  I find Dee’s words about the mystery of our differences and the marriage of Jesus and His bride so thoughtful here.   I have a hard time with the catch phrase; One Man. One Woman.  For Life.  Even though that is God’s ideal,  clearly, our culture, government AND our Christian churches bless and provide benefits for heterosexual marriages whether it is the first, second, third etc.  And, one isn’t denied marriage benefits if one is unfaithful in those marriages either.  AND there are good, biblical exclusions to the ‘FOR LIFE’ part of that phrase too.  (think Leslie Vernick’s message here).   So, there are certain popular arguments against gay marriage in the church, that I think have to be re-examined in this light.  What also helped me tremendously this week was this, from the article that Lael Arrington shared, in regard to separation of church and state:  ‘Christians have received favor in the secular USA yet Uncle Sam is not our spiritual father.”   I think this is a great point to remember.  I don’t want to act or react in a way that puts people on the defensive and I don’t want to have a better than attitude. When I push back against Christians, it is when they demand that the culture recognize and agree with them when really the gospel has always been counter-cultural.  My other best takeaway was the John Newton quote that Lizzy shared.   “A man, truly illuminated, will no more despise others, then Bartimeus, after his own eyes were opened, would take a stick, and beat every blind man he met.” ~John Newton~  I think this kind of empathy, knowing we are all sinners, realizing redemption is only by His amazing grace, HAS to be the lens through which any kind of interactions happen.   And after this week, I hope that I will be a better listener.  I also see my need to put Scripture before what I think is my already decided opinion.  

    1. Amen, Wanda! Really wishing I hadn’t posted at all and had just soaked in and listened–especially my last one–I missed the edit time and really hate how I worded things–so incredibly sorry if I was at all offensive to anyone. I emailed Dee to delete but, oh well, humbling lesson and reminder I need to LISTEN more and speak way less. Maybe that’s my big take away this week, and I’m glad you reminded me of the Newton quote too–I need to read it daily! It is only by His grace that I can see at all–and my job is only to point others to Him, not point at them. 

    2. EDIT:    I should have said ….popular arguments in the church, against gay marriage.   (rather than what I did say which was…..popular arguments against gay marriage in the church.)     Punctuation and sequence matters!   Different connotations with different wording.

      1. It was very understandable. 🙂  And insightful comments

  32. 11.  Like others have said, this is complex and I’m not entirely sure that I can express all that I feel/think clearly and neatly.  I echo what so many others have said:  it boils down to the fact that we are all fallen.  We all have a bent toward sin, so having a bent towards a particular sin is really not shocking/surprising in any way and should not be treated any differently than how we would handle any sin.  I guess what I would say to someone (in the case of homosexuality) would depend on if that person knows Jesus or not.  If they do, I’d say just that, we all struggle with a bent towards sin…no one is unique in that, which I think could make a person feel less isolated.  We need to stay in the Word and yield to the Spirit and the Lord, rather than our idols.  In walking humbly with Him there is hope.  He may bring total healing to that place where we struggle, or He may use us to be a light in this dark world to others who are struggling in the same area, while never experiencing total healing from it until heaven.  If talking to a non-Christian I guess I would say it is mostly irrelevant.  it would be like talking to a non-Christian about the importance of not lying.  You can tell them how they should live, but if they don’t have Jesus as Savior then they are ultimately heading for eternal separation from God, even if they change their actions.  But, I guess if pressed to “give an account” for what I believe, I’d say what others have said, marriage was created by God, so He gets to define it, and it is between and man and a woman, by His choosing.  He did not create it this way to make us miserable or limit our lives in anyway, but because it it what is best for us and it glorifies Him.  I choose to believe He is Who He says He is… good, loving, kind, tender-hearted, compassionate, long-suffering, so trusting His nature means that I can follow His laws completely apart from the need to fully understand them.  There is MUCH I do not understand, but I know Him and if you would like me to introduce you to Him, one day will you find that knowing Him is enough.  
    Just an additional comment for consideration on the political nature of this, though. While it is fairly true that government has never been a big supporter of Christianity, none-the-less God does judge nations at times.  Mostly I see this in the Old testament, so not sure how it applies in the age of grace, but this age of grace is temporary as well.  I just had (in my chronologic Scripture reading today) the verses from Isaiah 5, which say the following (which I found to be very applicable to where we are today, government-wise!):
    Isaiah 5:  20-23
    “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;Who [n]substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;Who [o]substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyesAnd clever in their own sight!22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wineAnd valiant men in mixing strong drink,23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,And take away the [p]rights of the ones who are in the right!”
    On some level, it seems that there is a place for giving warnings…being a “watchman on the wall.”

    1. Oh Mary, I’m SO GLAD that your #11 finally showed up!!!!  You have spoken my heart all throughout your entry – I’ve yet to get my words together, but yours are GOLDEN.  I just see the Spirit’s fingerprints all over your sharing here…..thank you, thank you!!  

    2. Mary – just wanted to add that your entry is going into my journal…..this has been a week of SEVERAL journal entries from our discussion, but yours is yet another that I don’t want to “lose”!  🙂

      1. Jackie, this means a lot to me because you (among others here) are a very mature Believer and I value your thoughts on things and after it disappeared I felt like maybe it was meant to be that it not be seen!!! 😀  I wondered if maybe I had said something not Scripturally sound or just something that is not helpful or could hurt.

  33. I just posted this huge paragraph, in answer to #11 and it appeared to post when I hit submit but then when I logged back in, it was gone!  I don’t have it in my to retype it all but will just say that what others have shared here (i have read several) really, pretty much covers it all.  

  34. okay, this is crazy, when I posted that second comment, then the original one reappeared!!!  

  35. And now it is gone again!!! 

    1. So bummed that you lost your comments, Mary!   I hope they mysteriously appear tomorrow.  I remember this happening to someone before.  

  36. 9. 40 QUESTIONS FOR RAINBOW WAVING FRIENDS – These are good questions. I think #3 is the best that would make a true Christian search themselves. They need to be able to support their stand with scripture. If you can’t I feel you are just jumping on the bandwagon so you don’t offend others.
    10. 40 Answers to Christians Fearing Rainbow Waving Friends – She definitely made some good points that would make you stop and ponder. I tend to agree we may be coming across as unloving. I somewhat agree on the raising of children, would it really hurt their upbringing if raised by parents of the same sex. There are times when kids have a mom and dad and it is not a loving home. Will they have struggle in todays society possibly with some, but the way the world is turning on this subject they may not any worse off then not having a dad or mom around. I’m not sure why she said she was getting offended by the questions, perhaps they were convicting?
     

  37. 10. Continued Gospel for a Gay Friend – This article was helpful for me. It gave some good points on how to respond or act when you have this situation come up. I’m going to try and save it somehow to refer back to if that is allowed.
     
    Also, Tim Keller’s brief response to this issue provides a model. Watch this and comment: – I love everything Tim Keller has to say on any topic. My Pastor has had the privilege to be around him and will even quote him at times in his sermons. Any rate the people in the group made me laugh, some looked like they could have cared less about being there. I love the reminder that we are to love everyone no matter where they are on the spectrum of Christianity or even if they aren’t a Christian. I wonder though if the part where he talked about our design if those who favor SSA would take that as God designed me this way? There is so much being said on this topic that it starts to fog my mind.

  38. 11. Write a paragraph about what you believe, and why, with empathy and love. – I will start with thanks to you Dee! Such a hard, upside down topic that you stepped out to tackle. I love your diligence to God’s voice to go and lead us where He wants you to take us and not down your own path. I appreciate your godliness. What I believe is that marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman which God created from the beginning. I did not change my avatar to the rainbow just because it “was the thing to do”. I stand firm to what I believe but do not hate those who do not believe as I do. I don’t agree with the sin that they are committing against God but it is no worse than the sins I commit against God. Sin is sin there are no differences in God’s eyes. What does bother me and what I don’t understand is why I am referred to as a bigot because I don’t agree with there lifestyle. I don’t understand and I don’t like how our judicial system is closing their eyes to our rights as Christians but throwing themselves down at the feet of those who are fighting for their rights as a gay or lesbian person. Why are Christian businesses not allowed to stand firm in their beliefs without being threatened or having to close because “they” start the hate against them that others jump on the bandwagon to show support. But in the eyes of the world that is ok. I feel there are double standards and no one wants to hurt the feelings of the gay and lesbian communities that they will allow their minds to be clouded. I have a friend that was so torn over the rainbow avatars that she didn’t want to be thought of as a hater just because she didn’t change her picture. I told her about this blog and not sure if she is following along or not but she loves the Lord and is kind to everyone she meets. My Pastor tells us a lot that it is ok to agree to disagree. We are all made up different yet the same as far as creation goes. I have so much more to learn on this subject but the main thing is for me to Love the sinner but hate the sin. One of our Pastors talked about this subject in our Rooted class and had some books that he recommend, the one I bought is called Love Into Light, The Gospel, The Homosexual and the Church by Peter Hubbard. I started reading it but got lost in other books, but I will be starting back up as this would be good timing to follow up the blog with the book.

  39. Recently things I have read/heard have caused me to wonder at the binary understanding we have of sexual identity and gender identity. It’s not as easy as I previously thought to decide who is male and who is female. Or who SHOULD be male and who SHOULD be female.
    One was a book by journalist Jenny Nordberg. The Underground Girls of Kabul: The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys. It’s about a traditional but rarely discussed practice of dressing and raising a girl as a boy because culturally it’s necessary for families to have at least one boy. Then as these children approach puberty, they are expected to become girls. Only that can be difficult. Which raised questions for me about how gender identity is created in the first place – the old nurture/nature debate.
    Then I came across an intersex case at work, and did some research. More questions raised. This is not the rarity I assumed. Some estimates are as high as 4% population, but currently the most widely accepted estimate is 1.7% population. Which makes it likely that we all know someone who is intersex, but don’t necessarily know. These include babies born with indeterminate genitalia, but also people where internal organs, hormones or chromosomes don’t match their external appearance. Many don’t know until much later in life – puberty, or when investigating infertility for example. In one case, a female athlete was found to be intersex when a sporting body required testing for hormones.
    So who can intersex people marry? Or can’t they marry? What if they are already married when they discover they are intersex? Does that make their marriage invalid? At one stage, sporting authorities treated intersex as a disorder, and if intersex people wanted to compete as females they had to be ‘treated’. Only the treatment was often detrimental to their overall health. So how can we understand intersex theologically? This seems to be relevant to the discussion, because many theological arguments are based on a male/female binary. Only that doesn’t quite match the facts. We assume it is easy to know who is male and who is female. It isn’t quite that clear cut.

    1. Wow Kerryn, you have done a lot of research on this!  The book you mentioned sounds quite fascinating and make me feel heart heavy to even contemplate how terribly wrenching on the minds and souls of the children such a practice would be.  I might recommend this book to my daughter, as this is an issue she is keenly interested in.  I do believe that transgender issues are the next “biggie” in terms of political action, at least in this country……as well as polyamorous marraiges, etc.  In other words it will be something we will all have to wrestle through and come to biblical terms with!  
       
      Your questions are amazing.  I guess I’m just a simple person, but I keep going back to Genesis…..that God created us male and female – regardless of our nurturing, HE gives us our identity.  But here’s what your questions do remind me powerfully of:  Creation is BROKEN by sin.  And in this “already, not yet” gospel living, we do have to consider hard, broken places in people’s lives.  Thanks for being bold enough to share what’s on you heart in this regard.  

    2. Have been thinking about your post all morning, Kerryn.  Not a topic I have any familiarity with, but very interesting and it does fit in this discussion.  I would have to read a lot to understand more.   I’m so glad you popped back in though!  I have missed you and hoped you are doing well.

  40. OH I ABSOLUTELY LOVE KELLER’S RESPONSE!! TRUTH IN LOVE DISPLAYED!  He started with the truth in how gay people have suffered because of how we have responded to them. He dismantled their bias toward us which we have caused and blocks their hearing of the Gospel..so by the time he ended giving an explanation of God’s design for marriage-they were all ears. He lumped adultery, sex before marriage etc. in with it and said God’s just saying that when we violate his design for us we are missing out on His best for us.

  41. 5. According to Proverbs 8:22-31, what part did wisdom play in creation?   Wisdom came before creation and “was beside Him, like a master workman.” Wisdom also rejoiced before Him in His inhabited world and in the children of men.
     
    6. How is Proverbs 9:1-6 similar to the parable we studied last week of the call to the wedding banquet? Wisdom has gone through pains and effort to set a feast and she sends her workers with invitations. At first I was going to say that the invitation “skipped” those in “higher” positions because she calls the simple. But each human is simple regardless of their position, and those that are to the simple are already at this feast.
     
    7. How does a wise man and a scoffer respond to rebuke? A scoffer responds with abuse, injury, and hate. A wise man will love you. How do you respond to rebuke? Rebuke from fellow humans usually incites defense. I would like to think I am open to God’s’ rebuke, and I can see softening in my heart there, but there is an element of resistance, too. I do see times when I accept rebuke, and this is God’s hand in me, but to be honest I rarely “step out” in a place where I know people will not understand.
     
    8. How is the voice of folly different from the voice of wisdom? What does heeding her voice lead to? Wisdom and folly both have voices that call out to the simple. The voice of folly, however, is seductive (how is this different from winsome?) and instructs off the straight path and gives advice that leads to death.

  42. I also enjoyed the article Lizzy gave us called Gospel for a Gay Friend. Truly a breath of fresh air, and where I am at right now.  If any of my Gay friends asks me questions, I want to sincerely answer but need to have thought through this first. It is good to think through how to answer-but the only way I can be sincere like what I saw in Keller is if the Gospel is melting my heart first.

  43. I’ve been quiet here this week but have read through the comments…RENEE’s posts very insightful-scholarly! I have trouble being scholarly:)) I don’t have any personal friends who are gay, but interacted with someone at work who is a believer and experiencing the heartache of her lesbian daughter getting married to her partner. A big issue seems to be how do you continue to love without it meaning that you approve or condone? In the “40 Answers” article, I was curious as to why she referred to the apostle Paul as Saul of  Tarsus – same man, but two very different people, in terms of how Saul behaved towards people before he became a follower of Jesus and then was called Paul. She seemed to view Paul’s writings in Romans 1 as hostile and in conflict with what Jesus Himself would say. She supported her answers with Scripture, but seemed to use Scripture to support her views. On both sides of the argument, there does, at times, appear to be an undercurrent of hostility.

    1. Susan, I agree!! I do have several friends who are gay and a niece on my side and a nephew on my husband’s side. I have never had a problem loving them but I wonder if they know I do?  That said, I have really been convicted this week how I responded to one of my sons in regard to one if his sin issues and when he started asking hard questions about God..I responded harshly with him because I knew he wasn’t really sincerely thinking through it but just believing what he heard from others. Yet when my oldest son asked these questions God helped me to listen and ask questions and let him know God loves him and likes that he is asking questions. I felt he was sincerely struggling and honestly thinking through what he was hearing in the world vs. what he has heard through us and the church. 

      Actually, this week led me to repentance in these areas and I asked my oldest if he felt safe and loved in our home in sharing his honest thoughts and struggles about God. He said yes, whereas my other son said no. 🙁 I asked him what I was doing that made him feel like he couldn’t share these struggles with me. He said I push my beliefs on him and I won’t give him the room to discover these things himself. My concern with him is that he has autism and is very gullible and has a hard time restraining himself from his impulses, so anyone who agrees with him-he will be drawn to. Whereas my oldest son sincerely seeks the truth by listening to others who have a different view and as a result as of now is strengthened in his faith. I have been praying God would give him more of a heart that is tender to God desiring Him, than a heart that is more bound by his intellect and reason first. 

      1. Susan-anyway, all this to say I have repented before God and my boys for I haven’t loved well but God loves me and my boys well: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed for His compassions NEVER fail.” & “The Lord’s Lovingkindness’ indeed NEVER CEASE for His Compassions NEVER fail. They are NEW EVERY MORNING, GREAT is thy faithfulness!” :))))) This gives me the freedom to fail and the freedom to be honest with God and other believers who I trust about my sins and my struggles because He is for me, regardless of whether or not anyone else is. As Wes Hill said, He has drawn me into Himself, and I have His name!

  44. 12. Share your thoughts and comments. How did Wesley Hill go about hearing from God?
    He had a heart that thirsts after God firstly, and is honest with himself and with God like David. He started with asking how does his story fit in with the ‘bigger story’. He went through the process asking honest questions..really seeking out what being gay means in the bigger story. In his journey with this very important question He took huge steps of faith entrusting his story to believers who he found trustworthy and as a result God spoke to him through them and through Scripture. I absolutely LOVE how his professor had the ‘gift of not being surprised’ when Wes told him he was gay-but I also love how wes discerned that this Professor would be a good person to go to. It is clear God has given Wes discernment and Wisdom. He didn’t go to people who would agree or disagree with him, but was drawn toward believers who would speak the truth in love focused on Jesus. I love how he quoted C.S. Lewis saying basically…we are called to be content with ignorance about the cause of our thorns and that the purpose of our ‘thorns’ is not to figure out how or why we have them, but how the works of God can be displayed through them. He gave the example of Jesus healing the blind man. 
     
    Another thing I loved is when he said, “Every disability contains a calling. A calling to give and receive Love..A call to community and hospitality..” BEAUTIFUL.  This rings true in so many areas! Wes’ friends depression, my issue with depression, my son’s autism and my other son’s aspergers..and in how I will see the disabled teens I will be working with this year.  Also, if one of my boys ever ‘comes out’ which clearly could happen and I am prepared and I won’t be surprised-I want to be one that they come to, that they can trust. I want to say to them like Wes’ professor that in this journey God loves you and is on your side. 
     
    This really impacted me this morning. THANK YOU DEE for this post and the videos of Keller and Hill, and THANK YOU LIZZY for bringing the articles to us. 
     
     

  45. Another thing that impacted me this morning was when Wes Hill’s friend who struggles with depression said, “Ignoring it doesn’t bring redemption.” WOW. I think that is what helped Him to break out of ignoring it and start his honest journey with God and other trusted believers in it.

  46. Rebecca – love your gleanings from Wes Hill!  I also was terrifically impacted by the idea of “story” and the way he looked at it.  Finding how my story fits into the big story, rather than trying to force the big story to conform to my story!  For in that we come back around to what Linda Strom and Dee and others are teaching us by their lives….”Scripture (the big story!) first”.  It was a moving take away for me this week.  

  47. So much to ponder here. So much to pray about. I am so grateful I came into a church with the mess that I was just as I was and heard the truth and knew the Lord loved me where I was at. It was in this process my addiction  l was in to alcohol was broken and I was brought to true repentance and freedom from the sin of abortion from my past. I continue on my journey and need to always remember from where I came and all the Lord has done and know that the Lord has that for everyone. God Word is truth and it cannot be altered by no man. I had this scripture leap off the page and wanted to share. I miss being here but get here when I can love you all.
    Christ Crucified
    2 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony[a] of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human[b] wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
    1 Corinthians 2:1-5
    http://youtu.be/PE6QXWFL6jY