I was listening to the news last night and the lead story was that Florida law has changed with regard to same-sex marriage. The courts have overruled the attorney general’s position that same-sex marriage was illegal in Florida and after many appeals the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples.
Now I made a decision some time ago that my blogs were no longer going to soft-peddle the tough issues for the sake of risking offending someone, or to satisfy anyone but myself; that I would be writing based on what I believe to be true to myself, true to God, and if it offends the politically correct sensibilities of society so be it and this is going to be one of those blogs. The thing that prompted me to write this particular blog was the statement made by the Pastor of the First United Church of Tampa during a local TV interview that First United Church of Tampa will begin forming same sex marriages after more than six years of refusing to wed anyone because of the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
According to Pastor Bernice Powell Jackson, the decision to stop all civil marriages was based on the progressive church's philosophy of equality. "Our policy was that until we could do weddings for everyone, we won't do them for anyone," said Powell Jackson, who adds that the church does perform marriage commitment ceremonies for all couples regardless of sexual orientation.
Now that the state is lifting its ban on same-sex marriage, Powell Jackson said it will begin allowing couples to get married again starting later this month.
"We changed [the policy] on Friday once the final, final word came down, and yes, we will be doing weddings again," she said.
I suppose the thing that troubled me most was Powell’s reference to Scripture as justification for this decision. In fact, the reporter covering the story said words to the effect that “conservative Christians have long used the Scriptures to justify their stand against same-sex marriage. Now the same Scriptures are being used to turn the tables against them.”
"There's nowhere in the bible where Jesus says anything about homosexuality," said Powell Jackson. "I have lived long enough to see civil rights for African-Americans in this country, to see a Black president. I have lived long enough to see Nelson Mandela be president of South Africa, I've lived long enough to see the Berlin Wall fall, so I knew this one was going to fall, too."
I’m concerned about this because it shows an absolutely deplorable lack of knowledge of Scripture on the part of one who is charged with the task of teaching Scripture to her flock. Ultimately, in can mean only one of two things. Either the pastor of this particular congregation is herself not a true Christ Follower, or she uses something that I like to tongue-in-cheek call the Revised Standard Redacted Version of the Bible. By that I mean it’s a Bible that you pick and choose the parts of it that you want to believe in you just take a black marker and redact the parts that you don’t find comfortable; that the parts that you’re not happy with; the parts that aren’t politically correct.
Sadly I suspect that it is a combination of the two.
The problem here is that Powell is defending proceeds from a false premise that is that marriage is a civil institution rather than an institution created by and blessed by almighty God thousands of years before civil institutions developed. It is an institution begun in the Garden of Eden when God took Adam and said is not good that man should be alone let us create for him a helper good for him and he created Eve, saying:
And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.
And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28; and despite the troubling trend today of genderless or unisex Bibles, something any decent manuscript scholar will tell you is contrary to the early Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek manuscripts, they are certainly not gender free the Old Testament was written with genders in mind Adam is Adam and Eve is Eve or God would’ve said perhaps Adam and Steve. He created a very specific male and female a man and a woman and the first marriage was it was blessed by God as a holy union not a civic union long before there ever were any such things as civil unions and judgeships and justices of the peace and churches or synagogues or temples to bless those unions. Marriage was a union ordained by God as an institution between a man and a woman. Pastor Powell fells to understand this, whether by choice or by ignorance.
Second, that pastor Power Powell’s claims that Jesus doesn’t speak about the subject of homosexuality attests to her Biblical ignorance, or desire to please.
The very first verse of the Bible says “in the beginning God”. The word for God is Elohim. It’s a Hebrew plural that means three or more, and it is this plural form from which we get the concept of the Trinity. It includes God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
When Moses went up Mount Sinai and he convened with Elohim before descending from the mountain top carrying the stone tablets of that contained the 10 Commandments, Moses, understanding his people, his leaders and how they would react, asked of Elohim, “look God, I know those people down there aren’t just gonna take my word on this “Hey guys, you’ll never believe who I was with up on the mountain” thing mostly because they know me. When I get down there they a say “yeah, yeah. You go away, catch a few rays, play Indiana Jones, you don’t call, you don’t write, and you come trotting down the mountain with yet another “Had a little talk with Yahweh” story? Not this time, Moses. Not buying it dude.” What do I tell them? Who shall I say sent me?”
God’s answer was very specific and very important. His Answer was “I AM. Tell them that I AM has sent you.” Both significant and historically important. I AM is one of the Hebrew names for God. I AM.
Now by limiting herself to the Gospels pastor Power Powell is correct in that Jesus never uttered the words in the Gospels which apart from a few spoken words in the book of Acts and the book of Revelation are the only record we have of Jesus speaking, he does not personally verbally condemn homosexuality, but the Gospels are not the limit of Christ’s words in the Bible.
In John chapter 14, most of the focus is on who He is to his disciples. Most of us are familiar with the discussion with Thomas were Thomas says to him “Lord we do not know where you’re going and how can we know the way and Jesus said to him” (now this is the beginning of something very significant because it is going to be repeated several times in this chapter) “Jesus said to him verse six I AM the way I AM the truth I AM the life no one comes to the father except through me”. Jesus continues in verse 10 where he says “do you not believe that I AM in the father and the father in me the words that I speak to you I do I do not speak on my own authority but the father who dwells in me does the works believe me that I AM in the father and the father in me or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves.” Jesus repeats this enough here and a few other places in this chapter but the point is this you have to understand the Gospels not only in their fluid state, and by that I mean the Bible is written as a book that has application for every time in history. There is something timeless and eternal in that passage that has meaning to all of us now as it did to the disciples in the first century. To those first century Jews when Jesus said I AM to his disciples, they understood that he was claiming to be the same person who told Moses “Tell them I AM has sent you”. He was claiming to be the I AM who sent Moses down the mountain with the stone tablets containing the 10 Commandments. The present day application is that we are to understand as well that Jesus is claiming to be God! We are to understand it the way that they understand because that’s how Christ intended for us to understand it!
Now we proceed to the next step. John 1:1 says in the beginning was the word. there’s that Genesis connection again, and the near word for word repetition of genesis of Genesis 1:1 is not a coincidence. They both start the same way in the beginning and the word was with God and go word was God just as I am is a name for God that Christ claimed for himself though word is a name for Christ now that’s John 1:1 continuing their all things are he was in the beginning with God all things were made through him without him nothing was made that was made in him was life and life was the light of all men and the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. This is Scripture interpreting Scripture – the most accurate interpretive tool we have at our disposal.
In second Timothy chapter 3 verse 16 Paul writes all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction for the instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped to every good work. The key points of this these two verses second Timothy 3:16 and 17 are in the first sentence of verse 16 “all Scripture” that means every bit of the Bible is given by inspiration of God that word “inspiration” means breathed by God. It’s the Greek equivalent of the word that’s used in Genesis to say that God breathed into man the breath of life.
Now let’s put all these pieces together. You have Jesus Christ, who by declaration of Scripture is God who spoke creation into being. He is God by God’s declaration and by His own and He is the author of the infallible Word of God; in fact He IS the Word of God. Every word of Scripture is verbally inspired by Jesus Christ. In other words there is not a word of the Bible that Jesus Christ did not inspire verbally the author of that Scripture to write.
Imagine that you are dictating your memoirs and your secretary is taking down your thoughts word for word. Just because your secretary physically penned them for you, much like, for example a machine is doing for me right now I’m using a microphone and Nuance Dragon Naturally Speaking software to transcribe my writing because I have a semi-crippled left hand and can’t type them very easily does not make this body of work any less my words, the Bible is the written spoken words of Jesus Christ: every word, every thought, every punctuation mark in the original manuscripts. Every sentence every thought every idea. This divine inspiration does not carry forward to include subsequent translations, but of the manuscripts, where Paul wrote homosexuality is sin, he speaks on the authority of Jesus!
Now you will no doubt note, if you’re from the Tampa area that pastor Power Powell did not comment on the Old Testament Scriptures because she knows that the Levitical law is jam-packed full of instructions regarding the sin of homosexuality, and, of course, the Revised Standard Redacted Version lets you delete those passages anyway. But the New Testament is not silent, and as its author, it follows that neither is Jesus. The positions stated in the New Testament are without question, to any true student of Scripture who accepts the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible, the words, chapter and verse of Jesus.
So where does Jesus, through his spokesman, Paul, speak most prolifically about the sin of homosexuality? Romans
The very first chapter of the book of Romans which is considered by Bible scholars everywhere to be the most deeply theological doctrinal book of the New Testament. In the first chapter, Paul gets right down to business:
starting at verse 24:
“and therefore God gave them up to uncleanness and the lusts of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves who exchanged the truth of God for the lie they worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator bless them forever amen for this reason God gave them up to vile passions catch that word about homosexuality vile passions for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature likewise the men leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust for one another men with men committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge God gave them over to a debased mind to do things which are not fitting and being filled with all unrighteousness sexual immorality wickedness covetousness maliciousness for love and the murderous strife to see evil mindedness they are whisperers backbiters haters of God violent proud boasters inventors of evil things disobedient to parents on discerning on trustworthy on loving unforgiving unmerciful who knowing the righteous judgment of God that those who practice such things are worthy of death not only do the same but also approve those who approve of those who practice them.”
While Paul penned those words make no mistake, it was Jesus who spoke them because the Bible cover to cover Genesis 1:1 to the last word in Revelation was written by an spoken by and breathed into the mind thoughts and pens of the authors of the original manuscripts by Jesus Christ and the only way you can come to any other conclusion but that one is to deny the Biblical authority of the Bible to deny that Jesus Christ is the author of and the inerrancy of Scripture and to deny the inerrancy of the Christ authored Scripture means to deny Christ himself and to deny Christ himself is to be something far less than a child of Christ matter what church you belong to.
But that’s not all Jesus says. He makes a clear line of demarcation between the sin and the sinner. And that’s the thought I want to leave you with. No matter what your sin, Jesus loves you. He dies to vanquish your sins because He hates sin, but he love you. You can be a recipient of that love, but it comes at a cost. Give your life to Jesus. Repent – that means turn away from your sin, confess your sin to Jesus, ask him to forgive you and be your Lord and Savior. The Bible says that God so lived the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. It says elsewhere that Jesus loved us so much that even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins – whatever they may be. Homosexuality is a sin. So is lying, cheating, adultery, speeding, getting drunk, gluttony, knowingly misleading people about the Bible. There’s a long list. Jesus died for each and every one of us, but we have to repent, confess, ask and receive.