pastors-corner

I have several dear friends who have come out in recent years, and I’m not sure how to face it without seeming prejudice. Is my opinion wrong. I don’t acknowledge their acts, but as a person they are not bad. I don’t want to turn away just because their sexuality is something I don’t support. God says He will never forsake us, yet this is the hardest question to ponder on for me. I do not want to have hate in my heart, due to someone’s actions. But I don’t want to ignore them either. How do I stay true to God? I don’t want to go against him, but I do not believe people should be kicked out of their homes or families due to it.

 The question that you are asking is one that is on the heart and mind of many believers today and there has been much controversy as to how to approach such a situation.  For me, the question is one of understanding the Lord’s heart toward all humanity.  The Bible tells us that Jesus bore all of the judgment for the sin of mankind on His cross (Jn. 1:29; Col. 2:13-14).  It is with this reality in mind that we approach all of those with whom we have dealings in the world.  Their sins are paid for, and we don’t have to see them according to their sin.  This allows us to approach those with who’s lifestyle we disagree as the apostle Paul did:

“. . . to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God, but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.  To the weak, I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.  I do all things for the sake of the Gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it” 

(I Cor. 9:21-23). 
 
Paul, like his example, Christ understood the value of His death and resurrection.  This allowed Jesus to be on the earth and relate to people, not through an attitude of judgment, but rather of being the judgment that released God’s mercy toward all who would accept it (Mt. 9:36; Phil. 2:1). 
 
With all this said, we are not saying that we accept the lifestyle that has been chosen.  We are simply removing the focus off of the act and onto the person for whom Christ died.  We can be truthful without being judgmental.  The judgment of God is not merely upon a specific choice of sexual identity, it is upon the unbelief in Him.  Only faith in Christ has the power to truly change a person within, as we know from scripture (Rom. 12:1-2; Gal. 6:15). 
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Past experiences are the hardest things for me to try to move from. When I was younger around 23 I had a miscarriage and that was painful to me because I felt I rejected my own baby. And when I got pregnant again I decided to have an abortion. These are both things I rarely like speaking about because I still cry to myself on them. I see people with happy families and healthy kids and I think wow, I literally had those chances and I blew it. My friends tell me I need to forgive myself and learn to release it, but I don’t know how. And seeing how people like to twist up this issue makes me even more isolated. How can God forgive me for something like this? When it happened all I had was the emptiness. I feel like it is still there.

 The experience that you’re so bravely sharing is one that many in our culture experience in silence and loneliness today, so I deeply appreciate your openness and transparency.  The first and most important aspect of this situation is your recognition of the responsibility for your actions.  Thank you for not deflecting this responsibility.  God does not ask us to seek penance, but rather, to accept His offer of forgiveness.  When Saul of Tarsus was reflecting on his past behavior, which was by his description, blasphemous and violent, he referred to his forgiveness through the grace and mercy of God (I Tim. 1:12-16).  For this reason he could now refer to himself by his new name, Paul the Apostle.  God’s grace and mercy, and the forgiveness it provides, is by its very nature, transformative. 

 Your friends have told you that you need to forgive yourself.  I would like to encourage you to accept God’s forgiveness through Christ.  It is this forgiveness that has the power to blot out our sins (Col. 2:14).  But it does not end here; the blood of Christ and the forgiveness it provides has the power to cleanse our conscience from dead works (motivated by guilt and condemnation) (Heb. 9:12-14). 

 What I am saying is this, WE ARE ALL SINNERS BOTH PAST, AND UNWITTINGLY (hopefully) IN THE PRESENT, AND UNDOUBTABLY IN THE FUTURE (again, hopefully ignorantly).  Christ is the object of our faith (Heb. 12:1), the goal of existence (Gal. 2:20), and the consummation of our futile attempts to right the past (Rom. 10:4). 

 You ask, “How can God forgive me?”  I would ask you to consider, “How can He not forgive you?”  His death was for all the sins of the world, even what some might consider the ugly ones (Jn. 1:29; 1Jn. 2:1-2).  We truly have a great God and Savior!

I am including in this answer a list of the sixty-eight positional truths that became yours the moment you believed in Christ.  Spend time immersing yourself in these truths.  They are yours!
 
  (clink this link)
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Lustful thoughts and disrespectful behavior are a struggle for me. Being a believer (when I was younger) was easy at first until my grandmother passed away. Then I decided in a matter of mere seconds God was to blame for all of this, simply because she believed in Him so strongly! Now that I’m older I see that I just didn’t know how to deal with it and I needed someone to blame for my confusion. During that time I acted on my lustful thoughts and didn’t respect or care much for anyone. I figured we are all going to die eventually anyway.

 There are a number of elements involved with the statement above.  The first one being, “Is the death of a believer a bad thing?”  To this question the Bible tells us that our God (and the believer who dies, I might add) does not see this as such.  In His word, God tells us that the death of His saints is something He places great value upon (Ps. 116:15), has spent time preparing for (Jn. 14:1-3), and is instantaneous bliss (II Cor. 5:8). 

 The second question may be, “How do I deal with the loss and separation from the one I love?”  The answer to this question is the understanding that loss is a matter of perception.  We have not lost them, nor their love or attention.  The Bible tells us that we run our race before a great host, some of them being “the spirit of the just made perfect” (Heb. 12:1-2, 23).  They are as much a part of your life as Abraham was to Isaac and Jacob in Jesus’ day (Mt. 8:11).  In other words, family doesn’t fade away in heaven; if anything, it becomes clearer and more real!  Your grandmother has been cheering for you from her seat in heaven watching through the crystal sea before the throne of God (Rev. 4:6).  This is part of our hope and sure conviction . . . we will see them again.

 The last question is, “Considering what’s been said, what do I do with the years of bad behavior?”  To this we might well say, “We will revenge all disobedience with obedience to Christ.  We will cast down the empty thoughts that do not coincide with the truth of God’s word regarding my world, others, or me.  We will exalt the knowledge of Christ’s accomplishments in their place” (my version) (II Cor. 10:4-6).  We can’t relive the past, but Christ has provided for us the opportunity to add eternal value to the present and future.  What a privilege!  And, when we blow it, get up, wipe off the dust of this world’s grime, confess it, and go on (I Jn. 1:9). 

 You’re right when you say, “We are all going to die.”  We are. But for you and I, and a host of others, who are merely “sinners save by God’s great grace,” we can accept this death now and live with meaning a purpose in life today (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:1-6). 

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Having sexual desires is really embarrassing to admit, but there is a real issue there. My fiancé and I have talked about it time and time again how we want to honor God and wait to have sex, but we don’t honestly know how to go about it. We both have already done too much before. Reading about courtship is a bit confusing. Do you have any advice on how we should protect ourselves?

 The Bible is explicit in the fact that God has commended the union of a man and woman in the marital union (Gen. 2:22-24; Mt. 19:4-6).  Yet, this truth has been challenged almost since its very inception.  The question we must ask ourselves is, “How can the same God who created us with the desire (both psychologically and biologically) to be joined to another, expect that desire to be tamed until such time when it is consummated within the marriage union?”  

 The answer to this question is to be answered on two levels.  The first is the psychological and physical level.  Psychologically, we think of sexual gratification, physically, we are designed to both engage in the sexual act and to enjoy it.  Yet, this mental and physical element is balanced by the knowledge and understanding that, as a believer, gratifying these demands will only be truly satisfying when consummated in right relationship to the One who created the institution of marriage itself (Heb. 13:4).  Apart from God’s blessing, sexual gratification outside of marriage is coupled with the guilt and condemnation that can only be imposed by God Himself (I Thes. 4:3-8). 

 The second aspect is one of trust.  This element is the bedrock of any relationship.  Can I truly trust the one that says he/she loves me to be mine exclusively?  Relationships typically deteriorate rapidly when this element is missing or damaged through unfaithfulness.  You might say, “We’re in love and the whole of society is having sex outside of marriage, why not us too?  The answer to this question has to do with the One to whom we look to for an example of love, Christ.  His love is both respectful and eternally unconditional.  It would be impossible to conceive of a person expressing unconditional love as an act of self-gratification.  To indulge our sexual desires outside of the marriage union isn’t a love consistent with God’s love, and therefore cannot be trusted.  It brings a troubling sense of distrust with it and elicits thoughts such as, what if something happens to me and I’m no longer as acceptable as I am now, will he/she love me then?  Or, what if someone else is appealing to him/her, will they fall to their desires then also?  This is why the apostle Paul said, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman

in a sexual way” (this is what the euphemism “touch” means).  

 
You ask how you can protect yourselves.  I would encourage you to express your love as a couple in the midst of those with whom your testimony for Christ means something.  This would be church, loved ones and believers who are friends and have clear convictions in this area.  Bringing your relationship into the light of these environments will help you greatly in bringing your desires under control.  Also, continue to talk reasonably about the respect you have for each other in Christ and the desire to hold each other in honor before others and Christ. 
 
How am I supposed to treat those who mock or slander me? At my job I feel isolated sometimes, because there’s always someone who has something negative to say about me. Normally I don’t really pay it any mind, but I’m not sure how to be in denial of it. Psalms helps for the most part on this, but what David experience is far worst than what I’m going through. I’m not sure if I should be this upset over it. I don’t even know fully of everything they say about me. Just whispers I hear.
 

There are many lessons to learn from the circumstances you are experiencing.  There are also social elements we, as believers, must learn to accept sometimes in this world in which we live. 

The first lesson is,

life is not necessarily always fair . . . but our God is and He will ultimately judge us equitably.

  We live in a time (probably not unlike any other time though we are more sensitive to it because we are vested in it) that is hostile to those who choose to disagree.  Tolerance has become tolerant to anything but intolerance.  Now, intolerance is not just the inability to allow for a contrary position, rather it has been redefined to mean anyone who doesn’t accept the current social position on a subject.  So, as a believer, if we choose to live out our convictions regarding certain social issues (such as sexual promiscuity, gender identity and/or LGBT) we are considered “intolerant.” This label is not because we are hateful, condemning, or mean spirited toward these individuals (attitudes that should never be a part of a believer’s life) but rather because we disagree.  My point here is, this is not fair but it is the result of the social world in which we live (Eph. 2:1-3).  In the midst of this type of environment, it is good to suffer for the RIGHT reason and not because we have reacted to the environment and, in so doing, tarnished our testimony in Christ (I Pet. 13-18). 
The second lesson that we should come to realize is,
familiarity is the bane of human relationships. 
Now, I don’t mean the fact that we come to know and rely upon those we are close to or love.  Rather, I mean the fact that we become insensitive to the ones we should respect and care for most, placing our needs and concerns above theirs.  Yet, the reality of this mindset is that we are truly familiar with the God we serve and the mission He has called us to in Christ (I Jn. 3:16-18; 4:20-21).  We see this in some of the relationships described in the Bible.  The disciples rebuked those that brought children to Jesus to be blessed (Mt. 19:13-14).  The crowd following Jesus told the two blind men crying out for God’s mercy to be quiet, but the Lord’s heart was to show compassion and heal (Mt. 20:34).  James tells us that if we diminish the value of another person we have indicted the One who created him (James 3:8-10).  Paul tells us that the showing of love to another who is not like us is the fulfilling of all the law (Rom. 13:8-10).  As a believer offsetting the callus and hurtful statement others say with words and acts of kindness will go a long way to overcoming the verbal atmosphere with God’s presence (cf. Rom. 12:20-21). 
This leads to the last lesson for those who find themselves in a similar social environment,
the light of God’s presence, though challenged, will ultimately prove victorious over the darkness of this world.  What I mean by this is, your attitude and fellowship with the Lord through His Word and the Holy Spirit will ultimately be victorious over the environment (I Cor. 15:57-58; Col. 3:14-17).  You have a hope within you, others can only dream of (I Pet. 3:15).  You have a reason for thankfulness that supersedes the conditions and circumstances that affect those who do not know the Lord (I Thes. 5:18).  This thanksgiving spirit is born in us the moment we received Christ and finds its greatest purpose in times of adversity (Phil. 1:12-18: I Pet. 1:6-9).    
 
 
What does transforming really mean? Becoming a new? How do I become what God needs me to be? Though I do not understand everything I do feel my heart is open and willing to know God. I just don’t know what I’m doing that’s making me so confused.

 

This is the question of the ages for the believer.  How do I move this process along and become more Christ-like?  The answer to this is as varied as the individuals themselves.  Each of us is uniquely a part of His workmanship and not merely our own (Eph. 2:9-10).  What I can say to this is there are certain mental habits we can form that will aid in our spiritual development.  First, we can recognize that we are not naturally inclined toward the things or mind of God (I Cor. 2:12-16).  We are dependent on the Spirit’s guidance that He provides through His word and fellowship.  Second, we recognize that the best thing we can offer to our Lord is ourselves (Rom. 12:1-3).  He, not I, know what is best for me and best serves His purpose.  He is good and has my best interest in mind with all that I experience (Ps. 34:8; Rom. 8:28-29).  Third, we need other believers for encouragement and prayer support.  We were never meant to stand for Christ alone, this is why He gave us the community of the church (Heb. 10:25).  Last, our Lord seeks purity not perfection.  We understand that we will never be perfect in our actions, thoughts, or attitudes.  We will not perfectly portray His mind and heart, but we can seek to do so by faith.  This faith is not only recognized by our Lord, but rewarded (Heb. 11:6).  It is the means by which others get a glimpse of the kingdom we are citizens of and the King we serve (Heb. 11:1-4; Phil. 1:27-30; 2:12-16).