What is all the talk about an Almighty God Who is all-knowing, present everywhere, all-powerful and Who indicates, through His word, the written form known as the Bible and the living form many know as Jesus Christ, that He loves us inclusively and unconditionally and considers all, who believe in Him, to be His children?
How can anyone believe in a God of love or His word, let alone make Him the center of one’s life, when all the while we are surrounded by evil every where we turn and every where we look and it doesn’t appear He cares to intervene to protect us from it?
Where does all that evil come from, anyhow? Is it His doing? Is it the Devil, as so many claim, or is it we humans who have created the evil we experience on a daily basis? If it is we who create our own evil, isn’t it still God’s fault because He created the Devil and us to begin with?
If so, who wants to make and keep that kind of God the center of one’s life anyhow? Is that really a God of Love?
Where does one begin to find answers to those questions?
Stan struggled to find answers to those questions. This is a fictional story based on real life experiences of those I have worked with or read about who are gay and struggling to find peace with a God they can believe loves them. This is Stan’s journey and his thoughts written as if he is speaking to the reader.
I talked to some religious folk in the Church about all the questions I had from time to time and their redundant, almost rehearsed answer, was always the same. They said read your Bible. It has all the answers and states God had a Son called Jesus Christ and He is the answer to all of our problems. They professed to follow the Son’s teachings because He is the role model for knowing how to love people and relate to God.
However, when they found out I was sexually attracted to people my own gender, that didn’t set very well with them. They ended up kicking me out of their church after I had faithfully participated with them for nearly two years seeking answers to my questions. That particular day, they said I had to change my sexual preference and my life style, beliefs and values before they would let me come back.
I ask what lifestyle? I told them it was not my preference, it is just who I am and the way I have always been as far as I can remember just like they have always been sexually oriented the way they are. They didn’t buy that and told me so, in no uncertain terms, with hateful comments, backed up with about five or six passages from the Bible. To me it only appeared they were emphasizing those passages while ignoring the ones that applied to them. They also ignored many passages that spoke about God’s love for all, not just them. But who was I to dispute such godly and knowledgeable people? They had been in church a lot longer than I had. Over and over they tried to prove to me I was a degenerate, abominable in God’s eyes, and doomed for Hell if I didn’t change because God would turn me over to a reprobate mind, whatever that meant.
I didn’t detect much love or understanding on their part. It didn’t appear that their Jesus was a very good role model for how to love people if they were following His example.
I began to think if that is following Jesus’ teachings, I really didn’t want to know much more about what Jesus taught or what the Bible had to say, but I didn’t want to end up in Hell, either.
I asked them: “how do you expect me to change?” not really wanting an answer. I just wanted them to understand what I have been through and that I am still the same in spite of all my attempts to change before I had joined their church.
I began telling them my life’s story indicating that because I felt different from an early age, I did try to change, several times, so I could fit in and be accepted by society and the church. I even went to see a shrink. He helped me understand it wasn’t a big deal. But these church folk sure think it is a really big deal. I told them I tried to hide it for a long time. I even got married and had kids, but the feelings didn’t go away. It got so bad I ended up cheating on my wife and ended up with terrible feelings of guilt.
I went out to a gay bar one night looking for someone I could feel comfortable with who was my own gender. As I left the bar, some guys hanging around outside followed me in their cars and blocked me so I was trapped. Then they came over to my car, pulled me out, while calling me fag, homo, queer, and other descriptive, vulgar names as they proceeded to beat the crap out of me. I ended up in the hospital not expected to live, but finally pulled through. When my wife found out about it she wasn’t too happy. We divorced. My kids don’t care much for me now because of what others have told them about people like me.
“After that experience, I tried to change again. Eventually I ended up in your church and joined it and became involved and suppressed my feelings for a long time, but they never went away,” I told them, “You taught me to be honest and that if I would trust in Jesus everything would be ok. I did and got baptized here and now that I am being honest, you want to kick me out?” I told them I didn’t know what else to do.
As usual, they said go home and read the Bible and they would pray for me to be healed from this sin and sickness, then I could come back and be friends with them. By then I had really gotten to where I loved many in that church and thought they really loved me, too, but now those same people are rejecting me. It feels like they only loved who they thought I was and that they really don’t understand me or even want to.
I went to a group they said would help me. It was called an ex-gay ministry. They had more Bible study than I had ever been involved in. They taught me how awful a person I was and the only way I could get right with God was to trust in Jesus, pray, and read the Bible until I wasn’t attracted to the same gender. They had all kinds of things I had to do. Sort of brainwashing things to get me to be attracted to the opposite gender like they claimed to be. It wasn’t working to well for me. Later I found out it wasn’t working for some of the other people in the group, either. Even the leader of my group left because he said he had to be honest and admit it didn’t work for him and that he was tired of lying about it while trying to get the rest of us to change what he couldn’t change.
I didn’t give up, though, because I really wanted to find peace and know more about this loving God Who so many said they knew and Who had this wonderful Son called Jesus that was supposed to help me find peace. If only I could know Him like they claimed they did, maybe I would be at peace like they appeared to be and this fear of going to hell would leave me.
I asked myself, does the historical record and the Bible provide enough evidence to justify that there is a God Who is really worthy of being made and kept the center of anyone’s life like the folk at the church assured me He was?
What have I got to lose at this point? Life wasn’t to great so far and I began to bury myself in many different books, psychological, historical and spiritual books from different faiths. I eventually began my own Bible research and study. I went off on this tangent by myself this time since no one I had talked to or been involved with thus far seemed to have any satisfying answers that would give me any sense of peace for what I felt about myself as far back as I can remember.
As I read the Bible, starting at the beginning, so as not to skip over anything that might be really important, things were not looking good. It was really beginning to look like the God of the Old Testament is an angry God and out to get you if you don’t do exactly what He expected. He had indicated specifically what he expected of man on some stone tablets that He personally gave to a man named Moses. There were only ten things, but it seemed like no one could do all ten all the time, but that is what God expected, anyhow. Later I found some other rules recorded in the Bible to help people know how to keep those ten commands which some of the religious leaders, back then, came up with, except that they provided a lot more detail. Some seemed really strange like it was ok to kill disobedient kids. If we did that today, there wouldn’t be a human race, I thought. I did discover abomination really only meant unclean and was not necessarily related to sin. What the church people said I was guilty of, because I liked people of my gender, and which they called sin and said it was an abomination to God was not an abomination at all, as it was used here. Very confusing, I thought. How could the church people apply that to me?
I remember early in the book, God created Adam and Eve with a freewill and that they were actually created in His image. Yeah. Right. As soon as they picked some fruit, God got mad and sent them out of the beautiful garden He said was theirs to enjoy except for that one tree. Well they reasoned, with the help of some dude who was later referred to as Satan, if we have a freewill then why can’t we choose to pick the fruit? After all, this new friend of theirs said they would end up knowing everything and they would be like God. So they exercised their freewill and picked the fruit. Of course when God found out, they said the Devil made them do it, much like everyone blames the Devil for everything today. God got mad at all of them. Not to convincing that God is worthy of being the center of one’s life so far.
Then there was this very rich man who God allowed to lose every thing, including some of his family, only to prove a point to the dude who lied to Adam and Eve. It was some sort of test of the guy’s faith. The guy even ended up very ill with boils all over his body and people made fun of him for believing in God. Some test, I thought. How could a loving God allow that to happen without intervening to prevent it? The Bible said that man feared God and hated evil. No wonder, I thought, the guy was probably scared out of his wits by now afraid of what God might do to him next if he didn’t. Fortunately, the man, who was called Job, was able to pull it off and pass the test and continued to believe in God in spite of what God allowed to happen to Him. That sounded really cruel of God to do that to him, but God did end up giving everything back to the man and a whole lot more just because of the man’s faith in God. I thought if God knows everything and is all-powerful, why did He have to test the man to prove something to the Devil to begin with, but I didn’t dwell on it much. I also learned fear God meant to have respect for Him, not to be afraid of Him, but how could you have respect for a God like that?
Then there was another man God had made a promise to that had something to do with making him the father of many nations by blessing him with children and grandchildren for many generations. But God ended up making the guy wait until his wife was to old to have kids. The wife convinced him to have a kid with another woman. Not too much different from today’s morals, would you say? Finally through some magic, God caused his wife to be able to have a kid by the guy. That didn’t go over well with the two stepbrothers when they got older because the oldest usually got all the inheritance from the father. However, by then, the guy wanted his kid born by his wife to get it all because he loved him more and it was according to what God wanted anyhow. What a mess that turned out to be and still seems to be going on as a result.
As if that wasn’t enough, God told him if you really want to please me, you have to take the son I was going to make you the Father of many nations through and sacrifice Him to Me on an alter of Fire according to my covenant with your people. Can you believe that? How can anyone say that is a God of love? According to a covenant tradition God had established as a way of forgiving people who had sinned, once a year God allowed them to make sacrifices and then they would be forgiven, but it was a lamb that was sacrificed, not a person, up until then. It did appear God had a change of heart, though. At the very last minute, when the guy was about to stab his son to death and offer him as a burnt offering, God had one of His angels stop the guy, just in the nick of time, else the kid would have been burnt toast. The boy, whose name was Isaac, was very obedient, unlike a lot of kids today, and went along with all that traditional stuff. He apparently was a little puzzled, though, at the whole ordeal and asked his father, who was now called Abraham, after God said He would make him the Father of many nations: “If I am not going to be the sacrifice, then how will our sins be forgiven?” About that time they looked up and saw a lamb and his dad said God has provided the lamb to be sacrificed instead. The boy was quite relieved. Wouldn’t you be if a lamb was going to be sacrificed in your place so your sins would be forgiving?
Oh, and by the way, God did eventually keep his promise and blessed Abraham and said because of his faith He would consider him righteous from then on and he had lots of grand kids and great grand kids right down to this day. So Abraham ended up being the father of many nations after all. Sarcastically, I thought: Oh that was mighty good of God, after all God had put the poor guy through.
One of the great grand kids became a great king called David. Funny thing about David, though. He was sold by his brothers into slavery to the Pharaoh of Egypt. The Pharaoh was so impressed with his honesty and abilities that he put David in charge of everything he owned in Egypt and eventually David became king himself. David abused his power, though, and had an affair with one of his general’s wives. While the general was involved in a war for King David, the king had him put on the front lines to be killed so it wouldn’t look to bad for the King to be messing around. Yet after all that, God said David was the apple of his eye just because David put so much trust in Him. Talk about favoritism. And this is supposed to be a just God.
History isn’t doing very much to convince anyone God has his head on straight and is a loving God. But you have to give Him credit. He did forgive a lot of His favorites when they messed up just because they believed in Him.
I decided to jump on over to the New Testament to see if it did any better job of making God out to be a God of love, worthy of being the center of one’s life. After all, that is where those church folk said I would find out a lot about Jesus.
Sure enough, a writer named John declared Jesus had actually been around as long as God had, but it didn’t appear He had a body. In fact Jesus was God according to John 1:1. Jesus was also called the Son of God. That was pretty confusing. How could He be both? Several people tried to explain it to me, but it is still difficult to understand.
At any rate, it looked like God still wasn’t very happy with His creation He called man. In fact in one place in the Bible, God even admitted He wished He had never created man. That really didn’t surprise me. Since He did, though, He seemed to think they had some worth left and He had this plan that was going to take a long time to change man back to the way He originally conceived they should be, instead of the way man was turning out to be.
God, just between you and me, seems to have known man was going to mess up all along even before He created man. It was because of that thing He gave to man called a freewill. He hadn’t given that to the other creatures He had created like His angel and a few others. Somehow, He wanted man to be a little different and special, like Him. He had a freewill and he wanted man to be like Him. It looks like it was that freewill idea that sort of backfired in God’s face. God had a plan like what we sometimes call plan “B” to fix that, too, just in case something went wrong and man ended up being different from what God wanted them to be.
Plan “B” wasn’t very good for His Son though. God was still hung up on this sacrificial thing. He and His Son had a talk. Probably a pretty long one based upon what the Son ended up having to do in order to satisfy the father. God doesn’t seem to give up and is a very strict father. I don’t know how Jesus could stand it, but He did. The Son, being very obedient, agreed with the plan. The Father admitted He had the plan all along, but didn’t want to use it except in case of an emergency. Looks like man created the emergency and God told His Son it was time to implement the plan if they wanted to keep man from completely destroying themselves.
As it turned out, according to John 1:14 God decided to become flesh just like man was and it was that flesh person that is referred to as the Son, but it was really God Himself. I am starting to have a little respect for God now. At least He is taking responsibility for the mess man has gotten himself into. After all, shouldn’t He? He is the one who created man to begin with. What I don’t get is why didn’t God step in earlier before things got to be such a mess? I had to keep reading. Things were getting interesting now.
God said if man didn’t do what he wanted He would have to kill him as a consequence for being disobedient. Wow! God doesn’t fool around. Still can’t understand how people can say He is a loving God. It doesn’t sound like it to me, so far.
What I didn’t get is why did God create man with this freewill thing knowing full well man was going to mess up and at the same time make death the consequence for not doing God’s will. Seems like a catch 22 and that God is some sort of saddest. If He creates man, knowing man is going to mess up and if man messes up, God is going to kill them all. Isn’t that a waste of God’s time? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me at this time. Maybe because God is eternal. He has a lot of time on His hands to kill (no pun intended) and this was entertainment for Him. I don’t know.
God seems to have this thing about sacrificing and He is only happy when things are sacrificed. It sets the record straight, some how, in God’ mind, because every time a sacrifice is made, God forgives man. Well, isn’t that a plus? In the Old Testament He allowed that to happen once a year by sacrificing spotless lambs on an altar and letting a spotted lamb or goat go free. It was called the black sheep and sent out into the wilderness after the spotless lamb was sacrificed as a symbol mans sins had been taken away. That is where we get our “black sheep of the family” or “scapegoat” from today. Then the people were considered righteous until they messed up again and next year it was repeated. That could go on forever the way man is. So what’s God’s plan “B?”
Plan B was to send His Son to earth in the form of a man to live there about 33 years. The Son gets Himself into a little bit of trouble though, because He starts disagreeing with the religious leaders and the layers. Not a good thing I have learned.
Those dudes can really come down hard on you. My church kicked me out, just because I am gay. The lawyers, influenced by religious people, wrote some laws that would put me in jail if I was ever caught having sex with a person of my gender, but many states don’t enforce it like they use to and some states have done away with those laws.
Anyhow, getting back to Jesus, He eventually made them so mad because He rebelled against their laws and religious practices and even had the gall to go into their temple and throw some people out saying they were defiling God’s house. It appeared to me that they were only trying to make money like the banks do today. Maybe since it was God’s house, Jesus threw them out because they had gotten behind on the rent.
That really upset the religious leaders and the lawyers. Consequently, they plotted to have Jesus killed. I bet that is really going to make God mad. God sent His only Son to earth to straighten everything out for man and now man is going to kill God’s only Son. What is going to Happen to Plan “B”? Does God have a Plan “C”?
During the thirty some years Jesus was around on Earth, He seemed like a really nice guy, unlike His father, who has a really bad temper and gets upset every time man messes up. Jesus on the other hand really seemed to like the people who were messing up. The church says I am really messing up and if I don’t change God is going to send me to Hell. Jesus never once talked about people like me. He loved everyone equally and didn’t have favorites like His dad did. I keep thinking why can’t His Father, God, be more like Jesus? Sometimes I get really afraid of Jesus’ dad. Jesus really liked little kids and protected them and said it would be better if adults would be more like kids. Not sure Jesus would say that about some of the kids today, but He loved them all and the little one’s today aren’t bad until they start acting like the adults. Jesus said the only way we could ever know what His father was really like was through knowing Jesus. That seems a bit contradictory. They don’t seem to be anything alike. Jesus hung out with prostitutes, and tax collectors and all kinds of people the rest of the people didn’t like and said He should stay away from. Jesus even liked being around those that others rejected, like the prostitutes and thieves, more than other people. He probably wouldn’t mind hanging out with me either. He never acted like any of those people, though. He just loved them and tried to teach them how to love others. As a result Jesus created quite a following and even selected 12 of them to teach the same things he taught. This was becoming a problem for the Roman rulers of that time and concerned them because Jesus seemed to be causing those that followed Him to not always do what the religious leaders wanted and what the government wanted. The religious leaders and lawyers were always trying to trick Jesus with questions, but he always had a satisfactory answer or one that baffled them.
Eventually, one of the twelve Jesus had chosen to teach how to love and accept others was persuaded by the leaders to turn against Jesus. As it turned out, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tortured severely, made fun of and beaten. It reminded me of the night those guys beat the crap out of me. Finally, after He was so weak he could hardly walk, He was made to carry a large log on His back up a hill to a place where He was going to be crucified in the Roman fashion of the day used to punish criminals. Unlike some of the other criminals, Jesus’ hands were nailed to the log He was forced to carry. Other criminals were usually tied to the beam. The beam was then hoisted up on a tall pole, forming a cross and then his feet were nailed to the pole. The weight of the body of those crucified caused the individuals to eventually suffocate with agonizing pain until they had no strength to pull themselves up to take in air and they finally gave up and died. So it was with Jesus, also, but with the nails through His feet, He could lift His body a little to gasp some air in once in a while. To speed up Jesus’ death, one of the guards pushed his spear into the side of Jesus. While still alive Jesus cried out to His dad and called him Ababa Father and asked why have you done this to me and left me all alone after all I have done in total obedience to Your will. God didn’t reply. He had forsaken His only Son who was perfect in every way. That didn’t surprise me either. What a cruel God I reasoned. How could any father in his right mind allow even less to happen to one of his sons let alone a loving Son like Jesus who had done no wrong yet suffered more than any man can possibly comprehend, physically, psychologically and spiritually.
I was beginning to lose respect for God again. How could He be so mean and demanding and then forsake such a Son as Jesus was. I don’t want anything to do with a God like that let alone make Him and keep Him the center of my life. I don’t want anything to do with those church people who condemn me, either. I have had it. My emotions reached the depth of hopelessness. I decided to take my own life to escape the pain I felt. It wasn’t worth it any more.
But I didn’t want to die, not really. I paced and grew angrier and angrier at God and all those hypocrites in the church with their sugar coated smiles and words, but, when it came down to walking their talk about love and acceptance, they became mean, not loving at all … and, and … and I was mad at my parents who refused to accept me and my sister who use to love me until she got involved with those religious bigots who claim they follow the teachings of Jesus. None of them are anything like Jesus. I began yelling out loud: “I hate them.” “I hate myself for ever trying to be something I’m not.” “Screw them all and especially that evil God.” “It’s all His fault.” “I wish I had never been born.” I figured God would surly send bolts of lightening to strike me dead right there on the spot. But He didn’t. “Damn Him,” I cried. “He let me live, the Bastard!” “Now I have to kill myself.” “He won’t even intercede to help me do that even after I cursed Him.” “He really is a cruel God.”
By now I was drained and depressed, to weak or motivated to kill myself. I thought about going and getting the drugs I use to take to ease my pain or the alcohol I drank until I passed out and couldn’t feel my pain any more, maybe I could overdose, but I was to weak to move. The raging fit I ended up throwing took it all out of me. The Bible lay on the floor. As I fell into an overstuffed chair, I kicked it’s haunting pages away with what little strength I had left, open, face up, but I hated what I had read in it.
Even though I felt that way, I just couldn’t stop believing this just can’t be the way things are. There has to be more than what I have read. What was missing? I fell asleep in the chair after some calming seem to come over me from physical and emotional exhaustion. When I woke up the Bible glared at me with temptation to pick it up and read more. There has to be more to this nightmare of a life, no hell I had experienced. And it was all God’s fault. But if it is all God’s fault, then why are so many so dedicated to such an evil God. Surely they were worshiping evil and didn’t know it. I had to find out for my self. No one else was able to give me even a clue.
The Bible was open to the Book of John that I had read before. I read again what I had read before. This time, however, it seemed different. It dawned on me finally. Jesus was in the beginning with God and in fact was God and then took on the body of a man, while retaining all of His Devin power and glory. He chose not to use it as the Man Jesus, however, and He had veiled His glory from man so as not to condemn man and in order to be an example of how to please God as man. It was then God Himself that died in my place to pay the consequence for all my sins and everyone else’s sins, also. He had sacrificed Himself. All of my sins were in the future of that event when Jesus died on the cross, as are all of my sins I haven’t committed yet. And yet, He, God, had forgiven me and everyone else. So the consequence of sin, which God demanded had to be paid for with a sacrificial death, He paid Himself. And since He, being a just God and could not lie, and could not go back on His word, it left Him no option except that He had to pay the price Himself. He did so because of His infinite, unconditional, inclusive love for what He had created and called man. He did so because He refused to take back man’s gift of a freewill, which was given because of His love to begin with, and because He wanted man to love Him voluntarily not be forced to love Him like some robot. He could have avoided all that had He not given man a freewill. But because He is a loving and just God, He refused to step in and take over.
Thus, it was man, ever since the fall started with Adam and Eve, when man lost the gift of eternal life, that man became progressively evil. Unless there was some way man could be reconciled back to God, man was doomed. Man continued to fall and his rebellion towards God increased. Rebellion against God is all that sin is, not to lessen the significance of one rebelling against their Creator, Who could have easily annihilated man with a thought. God didn’t, though, because of His love for man. However, God’s standards for righteousness, which He expects man to live up to, are so high that He demands the death penalty for anyone who cannot live up to them. Because man did rebel and couldn’t live up to the God’s expectations, God had no choice but to solve the problem by paying the price Himself. It was the only way man could be reconciled and saved from being punished or annihilated by God. Thus, God did it willingly because of His infinite, unconditional and inclusive love for all of mankind.
I realized the death penalty God demands requires a life. Since man had no life and still has no life to give and die, being born of man, dead to begin with, ever since the fall, according to the Bible, God had to send Jesus. Jesus is the only one, being born of God, not man, who has a life to give. He is Life and Truth and the only Way to be reconciled to God, therefor. He was the only One Who had and has life to give and He gave and gives it willingly as a gift in order for us to have eternal life. “What a deal?” I thought. How could anyone not want a deal like that?
I remember reading where Jesus said I, and my Father, are One and no one can know the Father except through Him (Jesus). Of course, it makes perfect sense now. Since they are one and the same in essence, whereby Jesus is the manifestation of God’s Holy Spirit in a human body form, we can only know God and be reconciled to Him by knowing and trusting in Jesus, the Christ to insure we will inherit eternal life. Since it was God, in essence, Who was saying, through His inspired writers like Paul and John, that WHOSOEVER shall call upon Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, that means everyone inclusively including me, a gay person, can have eternal life as a gift merely by trusting in Christ. Wow!
Furthermore, what Jesus meant when he drew His last breath on the cross and cried out “IT IS FINISHED” was that there is nothing else left to be done. He did it all. There are no more sacrifices to be made by man to appease a righteous and Holy God, Who expects and demands that all He creates to be righteous and holy, also. He (Jesus/God) was the only sacrifice that could satisfy God and put an end to the need for sacrifices by making man righteous in His eyes just by placing their trust in Him, by faith alone. He was the only one, being born of God, Who was worthy and had a life to Give because He was sinless and perfect and always will be.
Thus, when He (Jesus the Man) died and was separated from His Holy Spirit (God the Father, Righteous and Holy), Jesus, the sinless man, Who did not deserve to die, was the only One Who was worthy to turn right around, with full authority, and march right back into the Holy Presence of God (the Spirit) to be reunited with His Holy Spirit because He had proven, even as a man without using His Devin power, He was worthy to be God Almighty, being the Creator, Who was able to do away with the sin and death issue, regarding man, once and for all persons.
John 1:3 Colossians 1:16 and 17, Ephesians 3:9 and Revelation 4:11 confirm Jesus’ authority and worthiness as the Creator. Compare John 1:14 with John 3:16 noting “only begotten.”
It was all beginning to make sense to me now, even the Old Testament. The sacrificial system God established with Abraham, in which a spotless lamb was sacrificed while a spotted lamb was allowed to go free and the example of Isaac (being Abraham’s only real son) going to be sacrificed and in stead a lamb was made available in place of Isaac just like Jesus (God’s only begotten Son) is our Spotless Lamb that was sacrificed in our (a spotted lamb’s) place. They all were revealing God’s plan for saving mankind.
Abraham’s faith was counted for righteousness. We who believe in Christ are also considered the seed of Abraham, as promised by God, because of our faith and there is no difference, therefor, between Jew and Gentile (Galatians 3:6,7and 29). Our faith, like Abraham’s, is also counted for righteousness (Romans 4:5).
Now when I look at it from that point of view, God was manifesting His loving nature all the way through the entire Bible pointing towards Jesus in the Old Covenant and back to Jesus in the New Covenant. Some people just don’t understand that, like I didn’t understand it.
That is why Paul wrote in Romans 6:23: “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal Life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Unfortunately the church focuses, wrongly, on the first part of that verse, But God wants us to focus on the second part because He has already done away with the first part of that verse 2000 years ago for all who believe in Him. The first part is only applicable to nonbelievers. There is nothing I can do or have to do as a believer. Wow! God’s plan to save mankind was FINISHED 2000 years ago and I just now realized that. I also realized all are forgiven, but not all have eternal life until they place their trust in Christ and receive it as a gift.
He is not done with me yet. He is still evolving me towards perfection, but it is He that is doing it. I don’t have to do anything and I can’t do anything. God became flesh in order to relate to man and so man could relate to Him. I cannot become God, but I can evolve and grow closer and closer towards perfection by letting God have His way with me although I’ll never be able to attain perfection. Only God is perfect.
However, in appreciation for what God has done and is doing for me, I can express love to God by indicating how much He means to me. I can do that by telling Him so in prayers of praise and worship. I can show my love for Him by treating others with the same kind of love, kindness, forgiveness and acceptance He shows. I can show my love for Him by sharing this truly good news with anyone who is willing to listen. It is important that I never impose it on others, however, in an effort to convict their hearts. That is God’s role (through the Holy Spirit) and only God’s role, not mine. Finally, I can try not to sin and be willing not to sin, which is what repentance is, but when I am unable to resist sin, I do not have to beat myself up, or anyone else up, with guilt trips because we are already forgiven.
Wow! So that is how I keep God the center of my life. By trusting in Jesus Christ, by faith alone, as the Creator of all that is created, including me, with a willingness to praise Him and worship Him and share His love with others. That is all I have to do. Wow! I think I can finally keep God the center of my life through Christ regardless of what others think of me or say about me because God considers me righteous based only upon my faith (Romans 4:5) that He, alone, is the One Who created me in His image and then died in my place in order to keep His word. It is because of His freewill gift to man that He could not step in and interfere in all those cases where I thought He should have because to do so He would have had to take back the freewill He has given to man. It was that gift that caused Jesus to persevere until it was finished.
Now when I read Romans One, and other biblical passages used against homosexuals, I understand God only gives up on those who CONTINUE to have a reprobate mind until they die. A reprobate mind, as biblically used, is refusing to acknowledge that only God’s Son Jesus is the Creator, worthy of being worshiped instead of worshiping idols like money, each other, and statues made in the likeness of man, birds and beasts, and so forth.
I finally realize Paul was only using those kinds of people he described in Romans One because they were well known examples, during his time, of the ones who were guilty of denying who God ( Jesus) is and who refused to worship Him. People are no different today.
BOTH homosexuals and heterosexuals who had sex with each other in UNCOMMITTED relationships OR as a form of WORSHIPING FALSE GODS were described by Paul as not pleasing to God. Others in the list included people guilty of fornication, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, whisperers, backbiters, despiteful, proud, boasters, disobedient to parents, those without understanding, covenant-breakers, those without NATURAL affection, implacable (inflexible), UNMERCIFUL and so forth. Accurate application of his list includes every person whoever lived, not just the ones some churches say are guilty. All in the Church are guilty of most of these.
Furthermore, the attraction to the same gender is just as NATURAL for homosexuals as attraction to the opposite gender is for heterosexuals. Thus, it would be just as unnatural ( and therefore sinful) for a gay person to have sex with a person of opposite gender as it would be for a straight person to have sex with the same gender. Paul addressed this, unfortunately in a round about way, as it appears he had no understanding of committed gay relationships. Notice his use of natural, however, that many heterosexuals ignore.
Paul was only saying idol worshipers (those who deny who Jesus/God is and who refuse, therefore, to worship Him) are the only ones who would be turned over to a reprobate mind and nothing more. Yet, many in the Church have read more into that chapter then is there while denying some things that are there. They imply natural is only between a man and a woman because that is what is natural for them, thus trying to force it to say something that agrees with them that simply just isn’t there. They focus on some sexual sins while ignoring their own sexual sins. They deny their own sins, while condemning others, in order to justify their false teachings and beliefs. Have they not gone on to read Romans 2:1-3 or Matthew 7:1-5, where it indicates don’t judge else you will be judged accordingly?
Later, by implication, Paul reassures all those people, heterosexual and homosexual alike, including those who have taught falsely, that if they acknowledged who Jesus is and consider Him worthy of being worshiped by believing in Him and by placing their trust in Him, and not idols, then they would NOT be turned over to a reprobate mind, as so many in the church try to preach and teach will happen to homosexuals only, while ignoring their own inclusion in Paul’s list.
Paul went to great lengths to explain God’s love and grace for anyone who desires eternal life and calls on His name (places their trust in Christ) by faith alone, not works or feelings or what others say. Likewise so did John by stating it in John 3:16 using a Greek word that means “whosoever” which is 100% inclusive. It took me a long time, while I suffered needlessly, to understand that. It is so obvious to me now that I can’t understand why they can’t understand. Now that I do understand, I can’t help but share it with others.
Having realized all of that, it will be easier to keep God the center of my life from now on and I hope it will be easier for you to do the same. I am at peace now. I have not returned to that church. Jesus is in my life and I am assured I will spend eternity with Him regardless of what others may say about me.
It is my prayer that everyone who reads this article will be blessed with new insight and peace for having read it.