fbpx

Even Satan Believes in Jesus!

“Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” — 1 Peter 3:15

Note: All letters are posted as they were received. No spelling or grammar errors have been corrected. Links to responses are at the end of the letter.

Editor:

I stumbled upon your web page today. I was deeply saddened by what I read. Every human being enjoys the privilege of being loved by a kind Heavenly Father. He does not care who we are, or what we do, he loves us unconditionally. That much is very true.

To take it a step further and assert that he will save people “in sin” is mocking his very word. Satan believes in Jesus Christ! Will he be saved as well? I doubt it.

It is wrong to merely tell people what they wish to here and not have them take responsibility for their own actions. I have several friends who are gay. They are great people. They also admit that they are gay because it is most comfortable for them, not because they were “born that way”. They experimented at an early age, or were molested by an adult, and never gave it a second thought. They just kept seeking similar experiences going forward.

If belief only precipitates salvation, the devil and all of his angels will enjoy the same benefits of all “believers”. Being a believer involves more than just “believing”. Those who hear the word must be doers of the word as well. It may be your belief that initiates or encourages the doing, but to believe only, profits you nothing.

Phil


Neil Ellis Orts responds: Dear Phil,

I’m sorry what you read saddened you. I hope you can come back to Whosoever and read some more and experience the struggles and the joys that are there as just another part of the human story.

Every human being enjoys the privilege of being loved by a kind Heavenly Father. He does not care who we are, or what we do, he loves us unconditionally. That much is very true.

It is good that we begin on some common ground!

To take it a step further and assert that he will save people “in sin” is mocking his very word. Satan believes in Jesus Christ! Will he be saved as well? I doubt it.

Who then can be saved? Just ignoring for the moment that we are in disagreement if homosexual orientation (and the acting upon it) is in itself a sin, I have to wonder who dies “outside sin.” Does the man who dies while being an unrepentant gossip not get saved? Does the woman who dies holding a grudge not get saved? Does the person who has not sold everything, given it to the poor, and followed Jesus not saved. (I throw in that last one because that is what Jesus told the rich young man it took to be perfect. I personally know no one w ho has sold everything to follow Jesus.)

If anything, the Good News of Jesus is that even while we are in sin, Jesus comes to save us. Rather than mocking Jesus, I believe it is Jesus’ message.

Whew. All that and I’m not even getting into the basic assumption we disagree about: That homosexuality is intrinsically sinful.

It is wrong to merely tell people what they wish to here and not have them take responsibility for their own actions.

Let me ask you this: Are all the preachers who are saying that homosexuality is wrong telling you that because that is what you want to hear? On the issue of homosexuality, I can go to any number of places to hear a variety of opinions and what I hear may or may not be what I want to hear. To say we flock to Whosoever to hear what we want to hear is to disregard a lot of serious struggle and pain and soul-searching. It also assumes that all glbt folk want to hear something uniform in its message. I’ve read a few things in Whosoever that I strongly disagree with. If I understand Candace correctly, she’s purposefully published a few things that she disagrees with, just to display the spectrum of thought within the gay Christian community. We are not single-minded in all things, there is no unified gay agenda, and we differ on a variety of issues.

Believe me, I’m all for people taking responsibility for their actions. It’s one of my pet peeves of the current culture that everything that happens is someone else’s fault. I’ve more than once stopped a friend in his or her tirade and asked them, “Okay, so what was your part in this mess?” Usually they can find their part.

So, all I’m asking is that you not presume to know what I want to hear or what my sense of responsibility is.

I have several friends who are gay. They are great people. They also admit that they are gay because it is most comfortable for them, not because they were “born that way”. They experimented at an early age, or were molested by an adult, and never gave it a second thought. They just kept seeking similar experiences going forward.

I can’t speak for your friends. Their story is their own. What I do know from my life experience is that of the three boys with whom I experimented as a pre-teen, two are married to women and the third is inconclusive as to his sexuality. I also know men who experimented with women at an early age and are gay. (I only know one person who experienced molestation as a young girl and that wasn’t by an adult. I therefore feel inadequate to comment on situations of molestations.) In other words, I don’t believe early experimentation has that great of an impact on adult sexuality. It is what it is: experimentation.

I’m curious to know how many are “several” and if your several friends aren’t just telling you what you want to hear — or even if you’re simply hearing what you want to hear. That sounds more accusatory than I mean it to. I’m just saying that when we have made up our minds about something, we don’t always listen with the ear of discovery but with an ear to prove our own point. We all do it, from time to time. I’m doing it even now as I project my experience on a few words of what you’ve told us about your friends.

So, I leave you to take your friends’ stories at their words. Just be aware that not every gay person’s story is the same as theirs and we all ask a fair hearing.

If belief only precipitates salvation, the devil and all of his angels will enjoy the same benefits of all “believers”. Being a believer involves more than just “believing”. Those who hear the word must be doers of the word as well. It may be your belief that initiates or encourages the doing, but to believe only, profits you nothing.

I cannot argue with you there. I’m a poor Lutheran, but I disagree with Martin Luther on the letter of James, especially after reading a commentary on James by Elsa Tamez. There is an active component to faith.

Where we obviously disagree is on whether or not one’s sexual orientation has anything to do with that active faith. From my point of view (and I’ve not always held it), sexual orientation is just another way of being. One straight friend of mine has called it “another type of normal.” It’s not a matter of morality in and of itself. All of my moral issues seem pretty common to all humanity, gay and straight.

I have little more to say to your letter. There are obviously some places where we share common ground. I suppose we’ll have to trust in Jesus’ grace to be sufficient to cover our differences.

Peace,
Neil


Rev. Vera I. Bourne responds: Dear Phil,

Yes, we are all loved unconditionally “by a kind Heavenly Father.” And you are correct in stating that God cares for us no matter who we are or what we do. Every person is included in the “Whosoever” of Jesus’ promise.

Whereas you state that “Satan believes in Jesus Christ!” I rather think Satan acknowledges Jesus Christ and knows who Jesus is, but I don’t think he believes in Jesus. In John 3:16 we hear Jesus state that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” As there are no reservations nor conditions contained in this statement, if Satan truly believed that Jesus’ death at Calvary atoned for the sins of all people, reconciling us again with our Creator and accepted this gift of salvation, I am sure that Satan too would be saved. I believe that Satan, with his demonstrated lust for power, can not grasp the concept of love so great that God died for us.

We each take responsibility for our choices. Satan and his followers chose to rebel against God, and until they repent, as you and I need to repent, they will be alienated from God’s dominion. Being a believer is just that – one who believes – and the Apostle Paul points out that it is not by our deeds that we are saved, lest we boast of our accomplishments. But belief in Jesus, together with an ever increasing knowledge of our Saviour which we acquire by spending time with him in prayer and study of Scripture, does create the desire and the power for changes in our own lives. In fact, we become more like Jesus in our attitudes, thoughts, words and actions.

As for your gay friends, since I don’t know them I cannot comment on your perception of their lifestyles. The most important choice in my life was to believe in and accept Jesus as my Saviour, not whether I was a lesbian or not. That decision was made in my genetic script, or DNA, and since none of God’s creation is flawed, my sexuality is, I believe, part of God’s perfect plan. Thank you for your affirmation of God’s love for all human beings.

Shalom,
Vera


Maarten van den Driest responds: Dear brother in Christ,

Thank you very much for your kind letter. Although we will probably not agree on all issues, I am warmed by the respect in your words. It can be most vexing when you honestly want to help people, reach out to them only to be turned down on the grounds of “we don’t need it.” Still, this is what happens in the gay Christiandebate and what will happen again now.

I don’t agree fully with your first line. God loves us unconditionally – the Bible has it “for naught” – but I do not agree He doesn’t care what we do. Oh, maybe it’s just a slight difference in the meaning of the words we use. Mistakes can easily be made. What it boils down to is that we agree that God loves us unconditionally but that there are still things that are simply good – not only pleasant – and simply bad – however alluring.

The ‘rules’ a religion gives us can be split in two parts: 1) the ‘mores’ and 2) the morals. Mores are those dictates that are purely cultural, like eating with a knife and fork or having curtains or not. It is clear that this is ultimately not important. God doesn’t care about table manners. The moral load of a religion is important. Certain things are just plain not acceptable. We will find that those are largely the same for all religions.

Where our opinions will go their separate ways is whether homosexuality is bad in a cultural or in a moral way. I say it’s only bad in a cultural way, sadly in most cultures. I hesitate to discuss the lives of your friends with you, obviously I can’t deny this happens. Then again, I have loads of gay friends. They all tell me that they were born that way. I believe them, I was born that way, too. So who is right? It is a difficult question.

We could turn to the Bible and find a number of verses against homosexual temple prostitution and maybe two verses about homosexual rape. This is bad, very bad, the Bible is right to point it out. However, would you believe all homosexuals are bad by nature just because homosexual rape is outlawed? Heterosexual rape is also strictly forbidden in the Bible, along with any number of other straight sex acts and I still don’t hear people going on about how bad heterosexuality is. Surprising.

Let me tell you about myself. I am 24 years old, white male and I live in The Netherlands. (Yes, that’s our country that just opened the civil marriage to people of the same gender.) I have just completed university here with a major in Slavic languages and lit. I work in a local shop as well. Nice to meet you, it feels strange to talk “gay man vs. straight man.” I’d rather just meet you on a personal level in writing.

I was never abused. I have two straight parents who are still married, who raised me the best way they could. I have never in my life seen anything in the world except heterosexual role models. All through my youth I was taught that I was a boy and later I would marry a girl and have kids. Well, it still didn’t happen.

Recruiting doesn’t work. What would we offer? Come on, be gay with us and get spit upon by everyone else. When your lover is dying you will be denied entrance to the hospital to comfort him. You can lose your house or your job the second people find out (in some states of the US). People will picket the funerals of your loved ones, screaming hatred. You will have a three times higher chance of suicide than other youths. Your high school years will be one long hell of loneliness and despair…

Shall I go on? Being gay isn’t nice, it’s disastrous. Still, we try to make the best of it. Still we try to fill our lives with meaning, with God’s presence. Still, against all possible odds, we survive and try to make the world a little better than when we were born. We won’t be recognised, the papers will continue to write about sex scandals when we work to build churches, schools and refuge shelters. We won’t be recognised but we still do it.

It isn’t easy to “just go on being gay after some accident.” Being gay is extremely hard, every day of your life. If I could have turned straight when I was in puberty, I’d have done it in a second. Without thinking. But it isn’t possible and I am still gay. I’ve found a way to fill my life with meaning and am now happy I am what I am. Maybe God can use us to show the rest of Christianity that you don’t have to conform to cultural rules to still follow Christ. It will be a powerful lesson, one that humanity will need to learn.

To set the record “straight” (bad pun!), Whosoever does not tell people what they want to hear. Whosoever is a Christian organisation and you wouldn’t expect us to tell people everything is okay. If you doubt me, join our mailing list. The members are serious, dedicated people, committed to a life in Christ. It is a sad fact that their societies outlaw them and deny them the Grace that was given to them. It is a sad fact that they have to find refuge in their own organisations but what else? Just die lonely? We’ve had stories from teenagers who came out to their parents and then found out when they returned from school that the locks were changed. Forever. Is this the love of Christ? Be heterosexual or I won’t love you?

God is not a father. We may call Him Father but He is not a man, not a person. He is God. I believe that God is above petty things like I just described. His love for us is fierce and transcends boundaries of every kind, including the sexual. I believe that God wants us to change, yes! He wants us to change into the best people we can possibly be. For you to be the best straight person you can be and for me to be the absolute best gay person I can be.

Another record-matter, the love is the same. Whatever your friends tell you, most gay people seek love. The real thing. It doesn’t matter that it’s hard to find for us, this has a variety of causes. We still are the same. Why are you so disturbed by a few technical differences when the vast majority of things is absolutely the same?

We at Whosoever have the firm belief that Christ’s sacrifice was for all people, not only for the heterosexuals. It says “that whosoever that in Him believeth …” That’s clear! We are told that in Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew, neither slave nor master, neither man nor woman. For we all are the same in Christ Jesus. Why do you make an expection for us? Do you think the Bible has forgotten that and it’s your duty to correct the word of God?

I haven’t really quoted much individual verses but if you are in some way interested in a biblical discussion over seperate texts, please mail me. It will be done. Alternatively, there is much to be found on the Internet.

Being a believer involves more than just adhering to a set of ‘truths’. I agree with you. It involves acts. Do you think that your attitude towards us is what Christ would have done? When you read the Gospel stories, do you get the idea that Jesus would have done to us what you do to us now? I am saddened when people use the cultural inertia of a belief system to force people to join their agenda.

I believe in Christ Jesus, Lord over heaven and earth, my Saviour.

May your life be blessed beyond measure,
Maarten


Rev. Dr. Jean Orost responds: Dear Phil,

I’m sorry to hear that reading our online magazine has caused you sadness, but I want to share with you some of the joy of our salvation that you, too, can share. Those who work so hard to earn their salvation often do not understand those whose joy is so full. I’d like to address three issues about which you appear to have some confusion: the nature of salvation, the nature of homosexuality, and the nature of wholeness.

I agree with you when you state that we have a Loving God who loves each and every one of us unconditionally. Then, immediately you try to take away that wonderful trait by implying that God’s love really is conditional. God’s wonderful grace and God’s free gift of salvation seem like too much for you to believe. Yet we read “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” and “We love Him, because he first loved us.” Yes, we “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But the God who created us, in His lovingkindness, offers to give salvation to all who believe.

You seem to have problems about believing. Perhaps a negative and a positive example will help. In James 2:19, the verse you quoted stated that the demons also believe, and shudder or tremble. The reference there is to the concept that God is One. Now for my example, I believe that there was a Hitler who, with the complicity of many others, killed millions of Jews, and I shudder at the thought. This is a belief I share with many people, but I don’t take any conscious action based on those ideas. So far, I agree with you and the scripture that even Satan believes that God has great and awesome power, which terrifies him.

Also, you have rightly described belief in Jesus Christ as one step toward salvation. I have a spouse, who I believe in, and I have 5 children, and I believe in each one of them. I trust them and believe that each one of them will grow to be the people God created them to be. When they go astray, and each of my children have done so in one way or another, I do not stop loving them, or believing in them, or trusting God to lead and protect them. And you’re right, when we believe in someone, we act like it. I don’t ask suspicious questions, I treat them with love and respect, and I don’t gossip about them, even when they are obviously doing wrong. Just as God is described in the parable of the Prodigal son, my love continues and holds out no restrictions.

You see, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we do so in our hearts and minds and confess with our mouths (Rom. 10: 9-10). When I fall in love with someone, almost everyone around me can tell that something has changed about me. And when I speak about it, then they know. It’s hard to keep a relationship with someone a secret. It’s not a concept (belief) but a relationship with our Living Lord that will show up in our actions. You’re right about that. But don’t forget the role of the Holy Spirit here. It is the Spirit who transforms our hearts and minds, resulting in changed behaviors. For we are no longer our own, but have been swept off our feet by the power of God’s love, and our actions will flow from that love. Paul spoke of the Fruit of the Spirit, which will flow as we rest in the perfect provision of salvation. It is not by our own striving that we attain, lest Christ has died in vain.

Now to shift to the subject of homosexuality, it seems that you have included it within the category of sin and made it a reason why salvation will be excluded. Even if it were “a sin”, I can’t find any example in scripture of any sin, except blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven, which is not covered by the blood of Christ. Even Abraham, who sold his wife into a harem twice, and slept with his wife’s servant girl; and even Rahab, the prostitute, are not excluded from being called righteous (without having to repent or change). They were saved because they took a step of faith based on their belief in God’s promises, period.

However, the word and the concept of homosexuality do not appear in the scriptures. The word homosexuality did not even exist until just before 1900. Yes, there are a few verses that speak against certain types of behaviors, just as there are many verses regulating sexual activities between men and women, and between adults and children. But people are not put into categories and then categorically denounced. In fact, Jesus went out of his way to minister to just those people who had been categorically rejected in his day: children, women, Samaritans, disabled, eunuchs, slaves, gentiles. He even healed the boy sex-slave of a gentile centurion without requiring any changes in behavior (Luke 7).

Finally, I’d like to address the topic of your gay friends. It is true that sometimes people are sexually molested during their formative years. Sometimes this can be disastrous to a person’s sense of self and wellbeing. I’m sure you know that one out of four girls and one out of seven boys are sexually abused before they reach adulthood. I would advise any of your friends, gay or straight, to seek counseling to heal these deep wounds.

It is also true, that most young people spend some time experimenting to discover who they are, and not just sexually. If your friends are men, it is likely that they knew pretty early in their lives who they were attracted to, whether they acted on it or not. As for women, research has shown that their sense of sexuality is formed more slowly and tends to be more flexible. Their attractions are not so clearly genital as they are with men, but more relational. Some women do know as youngsters that they are attracted to women and not men, and later they may or may not act on that. Youthful sexual experimentation is common, and by that, people who are trying out different roles can have their “suspicions” confirmed or denied. There are young people who have experimented with all kinds of things. Hopefully, they have learned from those experiences what fits them and what doesn’t. The experiences do not “make them gay,” any more than acting like a jock makes them an athlete, or acting like a nerd gets them into college.

May the Lord lift up your countenance and give you peace.

Rev. Dr. Jean Orost


 
 

Whosoever banner