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Culture and Christianity XV:
The Bible vs. some Sensitive Social and Political Issues

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Question #1:

Hi Robert, why does scripture say David committed adultery with Bathsheba specifically but he was committing adultery having multiple wives and concubines? If the biblical pattern is one wife then polygamy has never been approved/acceptable. Same for Solomon. Am I missing something here?

Response #1:

I think it goes to show that the issue of how the Bible treats marriage is more complicated than some people want to admit (see the link for the latest posting which will lead to other links). There is an ideal (described in Genesis chapter two and cited by our Lord), but there are also rules and regulations given in scripture to govern things that happen when we fall short of that ideal (Paul devotes a whole chapter to the subject), both in the Bible (under the Law and also in the NT), and also in secular law which of course all believers must obey. Marriage is first and foremost a civil institution which God ordained for everyone, not just believers. I have written some things about this at the links:

Polygamy 1

Polygamy 2

Husband of but one wife

There is a big difference between the regulation of cultural practices that actually exist in any country and believers saying or considering them "OK". Whenever we stray from the biblical ideal we are going to suffer for it. Even if something is legal it doesn't make it good.

"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1st Corinthians 6:12 NIV

"I have the right to do anything," you say—but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"—but not everything is constructive.
1st Corinthians 10:23 NIV

So I wouldn't take from the fact that certain practices were tolerated under the Mosaic Law (e.g., polygamy) to mean that they are good for Christians to do – any more than I would take from the fact that our secular law allows same-sex marriage to mean that it is "OK" for Christians to do. That, after all, was our Lord's whole point in rebuking the Pharisees for their legalistic interpretation of what the Law said about divorce, namely, that they were using the Word to justify bad practices so as to seem righteous when actually they were merely indulging their lusts and maltreating their former spouses.

Yours in our dear Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Understood. However Adam had only Eve and when Solomon married his second wife while still married to the first (not to mention the other 698 plus 300 concubines!) that should have been considered adultery but its not called that?!

Doesn't make sense. Just because kings may have had more than one wife at that time doesn't change Gods requirement anymore than now (homosexuality being condemned no matter what society says). If adultery is a married man having sex with another woman how is polygamy not adultery?

Blessings,

Response #2:

Scripture never defends polygamy. As far as adultery is concerned, it was not until our Lord did so that it was clearly pointed out that the act of marrying another woman after divorcing one's prior wife is, absent special circumstances (porneia), in itself an act of unfaithfulness against the first wife – the act of divorce and remarriage, that is, not the state of being remarried. So it is not surprising on that score that scripture doesn't condemn the polygamy of Solomon or David or whomever for "living in a state of adultery", since there is no such thing when a person is legally married to another person (whether by remarriage or polygamous marriage).

A marriage is a marriage in God's eyes, except when it is clearly not an actual marriage (as in some of the examples you allude to). What unbelievers do or what the law in any given society allows them to do is neither here nor there when it comes to how we as Christians are supposed to walk through this world. If we were to be perfect, we would refrain from marriage altogether (1Cor.7:1; 7:7). Paul is "trying to spare" us, but adds "if you marry, you have not sinned" (1Cor.7:28). Marriage often causes spiritual trouble, and the more of it there is (polygamy), the more trouble. So even if legal, and even though the act of entering into a polygamous marriage is not technically an act of adultery (when it is not preceded by a biblically unauthorized divorce), that doesn't mean it pleases the Lord, that doesn't mean it is wise, and that doesn't mean it won't bring tremendous trouble – as it seems to have done in all of the biblical examples. It also happens to be illegal in this country (at the moment).

In short, this is not the sort of thing scripture worries about, even if it is the sort of thing that the websites and self-styled Bible experts of the type you have run into in the past do get all worked up about. Bottom line: I don't believe that the fact of toleration by the Mosaic Law of the already existing at that time institution of polygamy can be used to draw any conclusions about the issues surrounding Christian marriage, divorce and remarriage today – any more than we should draw any such conclusions from its similar toleration of the already existing at that time institution of slavery.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Bob L.

Question #3:

Hello Doctor Luginbill,

Here is a comment from your study: " Instances in which we must disobey Man in order to obey God are, historically speaking, relatively rare, and when they do occur, the consequences of disobedience are almost always severe."

Some would say, well we can take the instance of paying income tax because our Government uses our tax money to fund abortion (murder) of unborn children. What would you say to that person? I am sure that there are some laws that some Christians are obeying that are contrary to God's law, e.g. The so-called supreme court, passing laws on abortion, gay marriage, etc. Would appreciate your comments.

Thanks very much my friend. Again, I really thoroughly enjoy your studies, they really do help me tremendously. I give Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all the praise, honor and glory for what He is doing through the ministry He has given you.

Response #3:

I'll give you some links. In a nutshell, I don't think anyone could ever point to a single nation or state in the history of the world where there weren't many things done by the government which were unethical, immoral, anti-God, anti-Christian, repugnant, evil and wrong (it's just a matter of degrees). Since that is demonstrably true, it would seem at first glance to give Christians the options of never paying taxes to any government and also to disobey whatever laws they choose whenever they choose. But consider: Rome was arguably one of the worst of the worst where believers were concerned, given that Rome persecuted Christians on many occasions and put them to death for their beliefs. But what do Peter and Paul say about this government under whose temporal authority they operated?

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable.
1st Peter 2:13-18 NASB

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
Romans 13:1-7 NASB

And here of course is what our Lord said:

And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him.
Mark 12:17 KJV

So the Bible is very clear that while we are not to do anything wrong, we are not alleviated from being good law-abiding citizens just because the government is imperfect (as is always the case):

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach."
Matthew 23:2-3 NIV

Here are those links:

Submission to authority

Political Action vs. Biblical Christianity

History, War and Politics

Christianity and Politics

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #4:

Is it me or has God allowed society to completely lose control? Homosexuality is spreading like a wildfire in the school systems and it seems as if the Holy Spirit is longer keeping sin at bay.

Response #4:

We are in this world. But we are not of this world. This world has been the devil's world since the expulsion from Eden, and so it will continue to be until the evil one is removed at our Lord's return. Christians shouldn't be surprised when things seem to be going to the devil – since it's his world in the first place. The Spirit is keeping things in check – and how much worse they will become when His restraint is removed during the Tribulation can at least be contemplated by considering how bad they have been in human history from the beginning until now. Believers have a job to do for the Lord. This life is temporary. We are here to fight the fight the Lord has given us. That fight has nothing to do per se with the society or the country in which the plan of God has placed us. It has everything to do with how we keep our balance in the midst of the shot and shell of the satanic revolt since we are the devil's prime targets. To the extent that he can get us worrying about things over which we have no control (the government, the society, the economy, the environment, the culture, etc.), to that extent he can distract us from fighting the true fight. The true fight is the one we fight inside first of all, growing up in the truth of the Word of God until we start seeing things the way God sees them – that is spiritual maturity in a nutshell. Then the task becomes how best to walk with the Lord here in the devil's world, giving a good witness in all we think and say and do, passing the tests and negotiating the trials we are given to endure in order to strengthen our faith and fix our hope on life eternal and the rewards of the New Jerusalem, not the things of this world which is passing away. Finally, when we have been battle tested, the task becomes ministering to other Christians to help them likewise to grow and progress, doing so through the implementation of the gifts we have been given. History is replete with terrible periods wherein the truth was largely thrown to the ground. But in every era of history, God provided Himself with a witness to the power of the truth, mainly Israel before the cross, and the remnant of genuine believers following Christ through fire and water after the cross. During the Tribulation, everything will be much worse. All the more reason to build up our faith now and get our perspective solidly fixed on heavenly things now so as to better able to handle the true crisis when it comes.

Regardless of what you see going on around you, keep running your good race for Jesus Christ, my friend!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you. I've read through the Satanic Rebellion twice, and the Coming Tribulation once as well as all other materials on your site, it's helped my walk immensely. You're work is a great blessing to me.

Before I ask a few questions I want you to know that I pray for you and your walk, daily. It's all I can offer in exchange for what you've done for me. Is there anything, more specifically, you would like for me to pray for?

If you are ever in town I would love to buy you a cup of coffee, take you out for dinner, or buy you a beer, whatever you prefer.

If asking more than one question per email or asking questions on multiple topics is an annoyance please advise and in future emails I will refrain.

1. I like to read, even things I know I'll disagree with, I feel that knowledge of multiple opinions strengthens my faith. I was reading John H. Walton's, The Lost World of Adam and Eve, he writes the following, "The biblical account begins with Genesis 1:1, which is not a description of any actual activity of God. Alternatively, it is widely recognized that Genesis 1:1 serves as a literary introduction to the subject matter that the chapter is going to discuss, stating the activity that God will be involved in."

I do not believe this to be true. Can you break down for me why this interpretation of the Hebrew is false?

2. I seem to always find myself surrounded by strict Calvinist brothers and hardcore young earth creationists. These are mostly acquaintances, but some are friends. I approach them with humility and love, trying to be gentle, yet truthful. Is this the best way to approach believers with unbiblical views? Should I be engaging in conversations involving these topics with them at all?

3. Finally, one of the biggest positive influences you've had on me is helping me to understand the benefits of remaining apolitical. However, sometimes I am just put in positions where I am directly questioned about these topics. Where I live the transgender issue is huge here right now. I currently hold to the belief that having a sex change is against God's will for that individual and is a sin. But that because we are country based on the freedoms of the individual, I don't think laws should be written to discriminate against those who do engage in that particular sin. Am I being hypocritical?

Your brother in Christ,

Response #5:

It's very good to make your acquaintance, my friend! And I have to say that your email has been of great encouragement to me – better than a free dinner . . . or even a beer. Thanks also so much for your prayers on my behalf and on behalf of this work; they are greatly appreciated as well. This is precisely what the Body of Christ does for each other. At present, after a very long time of various troubles, things are in a very peaceful mode for me here. If you would like to put one thing on your list for me it would be for my mom (going on 96) who is having a great many difficulties with her health and trying to keep up her morale under the onslaught of troubles.

As to your questions (this is not an unreasonable lot at all):

1) Genesis 1:1 is very straightforward. Here is my translation:

Before all else, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:1

John is given by the Spirit to parallel this verse at the beginning of his gospel:

The Word [Jesus Christ] existed at the very beginning . . .
John 1:1

In phrases highlighted above, we have a Greek direct equivalent of the Hebrew words, both containing a preposition and a noun without any definite article (and in fact, the Greek phrase is the one used by LXX translators to render the Hebrew as well). The point of the phrase in Hebrew or Greek is to represent a start time out of time, that is to say, to commence a chronology without at the same time suggesting that time or the universe existed before the clock began (it did not). This is very careful language and generally under-appreciated, but it makes quite clear that God (the Son as the Builder in the power of the Spirit according the Father's architecture) existed before He began to create the universe of time and space.

On the other hand, there is absolutely nothing in the language in Genesis 1:1 to suggest that it does not mean what it says, namely, that God created the heavens and the earth as His first act of creation before which nothing existed. Furthermore, verse two presents the earth as already existing. How could this be the case if it were not previously created? If we take verse one to mean what it says, this makes sense; if we take it to means something some "scholar" said, then it is in conflict with verse two, and materially so.

I have heard this argument before. It's sometimes claimed that, "based on parallels in Ugaritic", verse one could be a sort of title or pre-summary. However, not only doesn't that work for the reasons stated, and not only does the language itself and what it plainly means on its face not lend itself to any such thing, but I have also not found these supposed parallels to be valid ones. This is just another way "scholars" (who are unbelievers) have of trying to diminish scripture. I'm all for scholarship. When it comes to ancient history and the classics, I can tell you that it is rigorous. But interestingly enough wherever the Bible is concerned, all manner of nonsense is given credence, garbage that would never pass muster if the subject were Aeschylus or the Peloponnesian War (e.g.). In other words, this is a lot of "hooey".  For more, please see the link: "Ex Nihilo Creation"

2) That all depends, as we can easily conclude from Ecclesiastes chapter three: there is "a time to be silent and a time to speak". For on the one hand, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" (Prov.25:11 NKJV). On the other hand, "Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace" (Prov.17:28 NKJV). This falls into the area of application of truth, and here one needs spiritual discernment, that quality of distinguishing "what God's will is" for us at any given juncture (Rom.12:1-2; cf. Phil.1:9-11; Heb.5:14). In general terms, at the start of such a project (should you give it thought and decide that engaging in such discussions is a part of the ministry to which the Lord is calling you), less is probably better than more but complete silence is probably insufficient. Rely on the Lord and walk close to the guidance of the Spirit in all humility and it will be made clear when and where to engage or not to engage.

3) The answer here is similar to the one above. It is fine to have opinions – we all have them, certainly. When it comes to acting on those opinions in a political way, even if the cause seems just, more often than not in the actual conduct of activities necessary to implement some change or resist it, things will become blurred spiritually very quickly. As long as it remains an opinion, especially one that is not expressed, then it doesn't really matter. After all, anyone involved on either side of a cause, any proponent or detractor, anyone who is "benefitted" or "disadvantaged" by the change being fought over will not have his/her spiritual status improved thereby. No action in the political sphere will lead anyone to salvation nor will it contribute to spiritual growth. The Tribulation will arrive precisely on time and Babylon will be destroyed according to prophecy. If we really care about people, we will pray for them, give them the gospel (if there is any chance they will respond positively) or point them in the direction of spiritual growth (if they are willing to receive it). Additionally, if we are growing, then we are contributing to the blessing of our country in a far more effective way than if we devoted all of our time and energy and resources to some political cause. In the former case we are "salt", and more potent in our saltiness as we grow; but if the salt loses its savor, it's not of much use in this regard (or for any purpose whatsoever), and there is no surer way in my experience and observation for a Christian to get off the track and lose spiritual potency than by allowing him/herself to become overly agitated about political events. We all face this temptation; and we are all happier if we keep our eyes on the big picture – that is the true essence of godliness, namely, seeing things from God's point of view. If it were me, I hope that if questioned on the topic I would have a biblical answer, such as God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tim.2:4); for them to do so requires submitting to His will in receiving the truth about Jesus Christ, however. Putting such matter in these spiritual terms not only has a tendency to diffuse rancor but it also remind believers who are listening what is really important.

I hope these responses will at least get you started. Do feel free to write me back about any of the above . . . and thanks again so much for this encouraging email.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill

Question #6:

Dr. Luginbill,

I would like your advice again. You may remember I asked for your input to a reply to an editorial column written by James Haught, Editor Emeritus of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, WV’s largest newspaper and you graciously replied with good information. I am now responding to another of Haught’s editorials, this one concerning the decline of religion. I will attach the column and my response. My question concerns the harsh at times actual capital punishment for wrongdoing in the OT and how those actions fit in with the love based attitude in the NT. Lev. 18 and 20 requires execution for homosexuals and there are similar actions required for lesser offenses. How do you view the harsh punishment in the OT vs. the more lenient position of the NT? Does it have to do with the culture of that day? Did God need to use the harsh methods to accomplish His purpose with that culture of that day? Haught’s reply to my response to his editorial was quoting Lev. 18, 20 and asking, "would pastors of today really believe this ought to be done?’'. I would appreciate your comments.

Thanks and God bless your ministry,

Response #6:

It's good to hear from you again, my friend! On your particular question, one thing I always like to point out about the perfect Law of Moses is that, as far as we can tell from scripture, it was never carried out. After all, before the Babylonian captivity there was rampant paganism within Israel – although we know that this was punishable with death. Had sentence been properly carried out, the entire nation would have had to stone itself to death many times (with a few small exceptions). There is not, as far as I know, a single instance of someone being stoned to death for homosexual activity. I'm not saying it didn't happen (the OT is not meant to be a complete record, after all), but a quick read through of just the book of Judges, for example, shows how quickly the people of Israel forgot about the Law almost in its entirety (cf. Jdg.17:6; 21:25). This changed somewhat after the Babylonian captivity, but in that case the spiritual state of the nation quickly devolved into a superficial legalism of mammoth proportions where people played at the keeping the Law while their hearts (and hidden deeds) were far from it.

Secondly, as I also always like to point out, Israel was supposed to be a theocratic state in the etymological sense of the word. God Himself was their King (until they rejected Him in that role: 1Sam.8:7). The Law is a code for a godly nations composed entirely of believers and ruled by God Himself through priests acting as intermediaries. Under that system – if it were correctly carried out – it would be virtually impossible to be an unbeliever (or else a person would have to be of great moral fortitude and very careful to follow everything dictated by the Law even if not believing the truth behind it). But the Law was never carried out in full. In fact, it was never carried out in anything like "full" from start to finish. What the Law does is to demonstrate the sinfulness of mankind (Rom.3:20). Anyone considering its perfect standards – and even everything which we may find onerous or not particularly spiritual did have perfect spiritual application, rightly understood – will see if honest just how far short he/she falls from perfection. And only perfect people don't need to be saved.

Thirdly, the people who find fault with the Law on their way to finding fault with the Bible on their way to rejecting the truth should be of no great concern to us. For things are really the other way around. Anyone interested in the truth will be led to the Bible and then also led to a place where the truth of it can be properly explained (including whatever "problems" a person may have with any scriptures, including in the Law). Mr. H and his ilk take things in the reverse of the correct order of things. And if the attitude of heart is negative, looking for a reason to reject the truth and not really being open to it in any meaningful way, finding fault (with the Law or anything else) is merely for show. After all, who is mister H or anyone else to find fault with the Bible? To find fault with the truth? To find fault with God? Whenever a person does this, their understanding of the facts is always askew, but we know very well that what we have here is not a lack of information. What we have is a lack of a willingness to seek and accept the truth. What we have is a deliberate erecting of smokescreens and blinds and walls so as not to have to consider the actual truth, but to make all truth that comes through those barriers seem wrong because it doesn't match the framework of lies the person has adopted in place of the truth. This falls very far short of any sort of attitude from which we may expect repentance.

Still, God works miracles all the time. I wish you much success in your efforts to stick up for the truth. If they do not impress Mr. H, perhaps they will reassure some waffling believers out there that all is not as Mr. H assumes it to be.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Dear Brother Bob,

I fully concur with your view that politics is not profitable to a Christian's pursuit of spiritual growth. This came to mind again when I learned of Manny Pacquiao (who is running for senator here in the Philippines) making a stand against same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, members of the LGBT community signify that they will not vote for him and also campaign against him. Casting pearls before swine really. Political correctness over biblical truth. A politician who needs votes will have to compromise one way or another.

Your teaching about this matter made it so much easier for me to avoid pinning false hopes on political solutions. I admit to having done so before engaging in Bible study in Ichthys.

I pray that God continue to protect, bless and prosper you and your ministry.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

n.b. Please continue to pray for me. I am not in a very good place spiritually. Thank you brother.

Response #7:

I'll be praying for you, my friend (I've also updated the prayer request for you on Ichthys). Please remember that spiritual growth is the answer to all spiritual troubles. Just stay consistent in your approach and things will improve. I can tell you from experience, observation and scripture, that it's much better to know when you're getting "hit" that it's the evil one whose doing the hitting, not some divine discipline for some spiritual failure. So please keep on fighting the good fight of faith, my friend.

Thanks for your prayers, my friend! And thanks for this insightful email as well.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Dear Brother Bob,

Thank you for the usual prompt and encouraging email Brother. I will keep your advice in mind. Thanks also for updating my prayer request. It is comforting to have a dedicated Bible teacher taking time from his hectic schedule to minister to a brother such as myself.

Take care always. You are a blessing to me and our brothers and sisters in Christ.

With you in the good fight of faith in the Person and Saving Work of Our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #8:

You're most welcome.

We are all fellow soldiers of the Lord – it's a pleasure to serve with you.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

Hi Robert,

Hope you are well. Quick question for you, what is your take on the difference between a carnal believer and an unbeliever as it relates to 1 John 1:5-8 and 2:3-6.

Thank you. I had a conversation around this and wanted to know your thoughts?

In Christ Our Lord

Response #9:

1st John 1:5-10 make it clear that everyone has a sin nature, everyone sins, and everyone needs to confess – and also that if we claim we have no sin nature or no need to confess because we do not sin we are making God a liar. 1st John 2:1-2 also tells us that there is divine provision for sin when we do err and stumble. Having made that point, in the next verses John provides the "Christian job description" so as to make sure that his recipients understand that grace is not a license to sin; rather, grace is a license to respond to the Lord with all our hearts and do all that He asks us to do. If that is our approach and the true response of our heart, then "we know we are in Him" (v.5). The tension between the perfection to which we are called and the reality of our imperfection is solved by grace when we are responding to the Lord: actually moving forward in spiritual growth, drawing closer to the Lord with a better and more sanctified walk day by day, and coming into ministry whereby we help others do the same. If we are going "the right way", then we are not "making God out as a liar" but instead are honoring Him with our lives.

1st John is, for the reasons engaged with above, a difficult book for many to interpret. Here is a link that may prove helpful: 1st John: Text and Interpretation

Do feel free to write back about any of this.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #10:

Thanks for the quick response Dr. I hope you don't mind but I need to rephrase the question. Apart from knowing an individual's heart, how can one know if a person is a carnal believer or really a non-believer as it relates to Christ's command in 1 Jn 2:4 where if a person is not keeping His commandments is not of him (my paraphrase)? For instance, take a believer who practices adultery but says he/she is a Christian and follows Christ. Are they truly believers? I am bringing this up because my wife works with someone who is an outward gay person and engages in that lifestyle but claims he believes Christ died for his sin. At what point does someone become just a carnal believer who is on the verge of apostasy or sin unto death versus a non-believer? I believe the two are very similar and many people will realize that when they meet the Lord, he will eloquently state in Luke 13:27 where He states he never knew them. I believe based on our Lord's word that there are less people who die due to sin unto death than we realize because being Christ like is pro-actively trying to follow's His command with the help of the Spirit and I believe many people say they are Christian's because they think it is a free ticket to Heaven without any sort of discipline or life changing course on their end. It doesn't work in the human system, so why would this principle work with a righteous creator.

Galatians 6:7 "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows"

Your thoughts on this is greatly appreciated.

In Christ our Lord

p.s., It is funny. As soon as I finished email you, I continued reading this week email and in response #79, you mentioned the link below from your Hamartiology study which I have read but need to review as I go through your studies again. I believe this makes my point about. Am I correct?

http://ichthys.com/3B-Hamartio.htm#2. Sinning Arrogantly:

Response #10:

These can be complicated issues for us to figure out here on earth, but God knows the hearts of all. We are told to "judge not" that we may not come into judgment, but obviously we are not supposed to give a blanket acceptance to those whose conduct is scurrilous – instead we are supposed to avoid fellowshiping with them (even as we refrain from judging them). So believers are supposed to walk in a sanctified manner, humbly refraining from casting aspersions on others but also prudently avoiding those whose walk with the Lord is dangerously flawed.

As to the status/situation of believers who are "backsliding", it's one thing to make a mistake (we all sin), another thing to fall into a pattern of gross sin (that is incredibly dangerous, spiritually speaking), but worst of all is to justify our choosing of sin over God's will and then to proclaim that it is not sin at all. In the first instance, we have all believers (honestly assessed); in the second we have a problem that at one time or another besets most believers (if not all at some time, hopefully early on but then learning from our mistakes and, after coming back from that "far country" like the prodigal son, vowing to "never do it again"); in the third instance we have believers who are on the cusp of apostasy or the sin unto death (see the link). In this third instance, the difference between falling into apostasy on the one hand or being given over to the sin unto death on the other is all a question of what is going on in the heart of the Christian in question. If that person really does come to resent God's "interference" in what they want to do, then God becomes less and less to the point where faith begins to die out and eventually does. If faith dies, and the person in question no longer believers in or accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior (regardless of the person "says" – people can say anything: antichrist will claim to be Christ but that obviously won't make him Christ), the person is an apostate, that is, no longer a believer. And only believers are saved. If, on the other hand, the person in question really does still accept Jesus as their Lord and Master, but continues to be unwilling to give up their sinful conduct, it will get to the point where the disgrace brought on Christ and believers in general is more than the Lord is willing to bear. At that point, the believer is removed from this world in the most frightening and painful way, the sin unto death, the "destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord" (1Cor.5:5). Said person, however, remained a believer, and all believers are saved. Said person will have a reward next to zero for all eternity, but being in the New Jerusalem in resurrection will be wonderful beyond comprehension. So even though the end of the latter is for all the world to see much worse than the end of the former (apostates are no longer believers so no longer any concern of the Lord's), it is infinitely much better to be and remain a believer, no matter what.

So it really is a matter of what is going on in the heart of the person in question. That can often be impossible for us to know. Scripture does tell us all we need to know as far as what we are supposed to do, however, namely, refrain from either judgment or close association in such cases:

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Jude 1:22-23 NIV

I think the above is completely in consonance with the link in your other email, so if this is also your understanding of these matters, we are certainly on the same page.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my friend!

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi again Robert -

Leviticus 18:8 The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness.

Leviticus 20:11 The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 20:17 ‘If a man takes his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter, and sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a wicked thing. And they shall be cut off in the sight of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness. He shall bear his guilt.

Ezekiel 22:10 In you men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity.

1 Samuel 20:30 Then Saul’s anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother's nakedness (referring to himself)?

Genesis 9:20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

I sent you an email about this a while ago but never followed up with biblical support. Unless there are translation issues with these verses (and these are only a sampling, there are others), it seems pretty clear to me that there was no homosexual behavior going on with Ham and his father, as seems to be commonly supposed. Rather, Ham either raped his mother or there was consensual sex. Furthermore, it would be a bit odd for two sons to have to back into the room so carefully and cover his naked body with averted faces. They are all male, not really a big deal to see another man nude. But it makes perfect sense if, as the preceding verses indicate, it was their mother laying there naked.

My question to you is this: could Canaan have been cursed because he was the product of this union?

Response #11:

Good to hear from you again.

I agree with you that there is nothing sexual going on here between Ham and his father Noah. However, in Genesis 9:20-23 there is also no mention of Noah's wife. The first four passages you cite all have the word "uncover" and are symbolic (i.e., "doing this is equivalent to . . . "). It may be of no great moment in our time and culture to see one's father unclad, but this was an authority issue in the ancient world. That explains why the two other brothers walked in backwards – so as not to see when they covered Noah. The fact of the covering and very clear verb "saw" in verse twenty-two – along with all of the other details here – make it impossible in my view to see this as anything other but a literal viewing by Ham of an uncovered Noah. The offense was, in essence, despising his father's authority, and that disrespect for authority will later be a primary characteristic of the Canaanites, a group of people who were blasphemously disrespectful of divine authority of any kind – and of course the authority of the parents in the family (and father before mother) is the essential element of all divinely instituted authority in the human race (the fifth of the ten commandments; see the link); as such it directly parallels the proper respect we are to give our heavenly Father.

Here are two links where this issue is discussed further at Ichthys:

Ham and Noah

Ham, Noah and Canaan

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

[details omitted]

Response #12:

I get loads of emails from men (not just young men, not just single men) who are plagued by this problem. I think a man would have to be happily married or have a deficient testosterone level not to have to be very tough on himself so as to avoid it. I am certainly not going to tell you not to get married. Marriage is Paul's solution, after all, to porneia of all kinds, and it is true that a godly person such as yourself will, once married to a believing spouse, probably cease to be seriously challenged by lust at all, as long as pains are taken to avoid anything that looks like trouble. Marriage, however, requires the right person to marry, and, as you sketch out, that is a harder thing today than in previous generations and centuries. The culture is also at odds with forming and maintaining a good marriage. The fact that the Lord has kept you not only single but also chaste for so long is something that should also be considered. The good news for you as single or while single is that you can say no to sin. You have to really mean it, however. It's not easy to deny any sort of chronic sin. The first step is to stop rationalizing the problem and "own" it. The second step, after taking full responsibility, is to accept that you do have the power over your own free will and therefore over your body. The third step is execution – always the hardest part. I think part of the difficulty with this one is that on the one hand it can seem a trivial offense, and on the other hand if too much is made of the sinfulness of it a person may be sent into a spiritual tailspin when in cases of failure. What helps? Seeing the big picture helps. The more committed we get to the mission, the more we come to see anything that sullies our witness (the angels, at least, see us, the Lord certainly sees us, and we know what we have done – and hypocrisy lies heavy on the shoulders of people like yourself who really do love the truth). Spitting out guilt helps too, even if counter-intuitively so. We have to realize that we are in a war. If we do something tactically stupid, blood will flow unnecessarily. However, the war doesn't stop just because we made a mistake and feel bad about it. We don't have the time or the luxury to do anything but repent, confess, move on and forget – except for determining not to be so stupid again. But if in our heart of hearts we really aren't that committed or really don't believe the truth as deeply as we profess to or otherwise think we have time to play around, well, we'll never get victory that way. But we can win this fight.

Question #13:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I'm still here. Things are just different for me now. I wouldn't say that I've been struggling spiritually necessarily, but I have kind of tried to put religion out of my mind lately. It doesn't occupy my thoughts to the extent that it used to. In the last few emails that we exchanged, I think I mentioned that I'm gay. I didn't know or accept it at the time. I know it now though. I'm having trouble reconciling my faith with my sexuality. It's just hard because my faith was such a big part of my life, and how do I reconcile that with another part of me that I know to be fundamentally true? It's like trying to put a square peg into a circle. It just won't go. I thought about emailing you, and seeing if you could make it fit. I never did though because I felt like there was nothing that could really be done. I feel separated from my faith in a sense. I think a lot about whether it is possible to be gay and a Christian. I still read my Bible. I still pray. I still believe in God. I guess my problem arises in my worry that He doesn't find me acceptable. I even worry if I'm about to get struck down for living the way I do. So, you can probably see why I've been trying to put religion to the back burner. It's not that I don't want it anymore, it's just that it causes me a great deal of emotional turmoil to think about it.

I know that the Bible say's homosexuality is a sin. I also know that I am gay, and that's an immutable fact about me. It's not that I want to be in "rebellion." This is the way I am though. You know, there are certain things I understand about the Bible, and other things I just can't understand. I can see how it's wrong to lie, or commit adultery, or steal, etc. I can see how sins like those hurt others. But me loving a woman? I don't see the harm in that. I don't see what could be wrong about me choosing to spend my life with someone of the same gender. If we're a loving family, then what does it matter that we're both women?

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers. You don't know how much it means to know that you're still thinking of me.

Thanks,

Response #13:

I am sorry to hear that you find yourself in this spiritual angst. I will say a few words to you here. Please keep in mind that these are offered from someone who values Christ's will and opinion over anything in this world – to one I hope feels exactly the same way as I do.

It is irrefutable that the only sexuality authorized by the Lord is that between a husband and wife. That puts many people into a quandary, not just those attracted to the same sex. I am sure that the apostle Paul had to battle with lust. He notes that he did have "the right" to get married, but was also gifted with the ability to refrain and did so for the sake of the Church of Jesus Christ – which I'm certain didn't mean that being single wasn't a struggle for him at times. Many young people are under all sorts of pressures to become involved in extra-marital sex, but of course that is wrong, regardless of the type. Put simply, your quandary is nothing unique, even if it is wearing and difficult to bear. The problem I have with the way this issue is often dealt with in our society is to see sexuality as entering onto some sort of different plane just because it's "same-sex sex". Some see it as worse than other sexual sins (and scripture does have some chilling things to say about the topic); some see it as not as bad as other sexual sin (and the Bible does have some chilling things to say about adultery and fornication). The main point is that wrong is wrong regardless of the type of wrong.

It's not a sin to be tempted. And we are all tempted in different ways. It's wrong to look down on a brother or sister who is being tempted in a way we ourselves are not tempted; it's also wrong to assume that because we are not interested in behavior X ourselves that therefore behavior X is not sinful. Being "gay" is not a sin, if by that we mean being naturally attracted through our sin nature to someone of the same sex. Having "gay sex" is sinful just as having non-marital hetero-sexual sex is sinful. All such behavior is very dangerous spiritually, especially if we get to the point of ever trying to justify our behavior out of reaction for political reasons or anything else (Rom.1:32b).

In other words, celibacy is the option God has provided for every believer who is unwilling or unable to marry one, single, believing member of the opposite sex and to be faithful to that person no matter what. But all who refrain from marriage are happier by far, provided they can stay away from sexual sin:

But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this. What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away. I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
1st Corinthians 7:28b-35 NIV

I promise to continue to keep you in my prayers.

Wishing you a truly merry Christmas in Jesus Christ the Lord who bought us and saved us from our sins.

Bob L.

Question #14:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Merry Christmas to you to. Thank you for your response. I get what you're saying. It's more complicated than that though. I feel like whenever people hear the words "homosexuality" or "gay" their minds automatically think "sex." It's actually not like that though, at least not for me. Me being gay isn't based in sex or lust. I mean, that obviously comes along with liking someone. It's not the primary reason though. In the same way that a woman likes a man and wants to have a family etc, I'm the same way but with women. I want to fall in love, get married, have her kids, and grow old together. But people want to boil it down to being about what I do in the bedroom. I want what most other women want, I just want it with a woman. So, it's not so easy as just "don't have sex", because it's not primarily about sex in the first place. If it we're about sex, it would be easy for me to just be celibate. So, when you tell me to be "celibate", you might think you're saying "don't have sex with women." But what I hear is, "you can't go down the aisle, you can't get married or have a family, you don't ever get to be in love."

Could you tell me what is it about being gay that makes it a sin? I don't think it's about sex. If I were with a woman, and we just didn't have sex, I think that would still be considered "homosexual." It would still be considered sinful, even if we weren't having sex. I'm not trying to justify anything, I just want to know. Is it that we can't have biological children together? Is it that the household needs a "head", and a woman can't be the head? Is it that we can't have sex the "right" way? Is it that gay people couldn't previously get married and be a recognized family? I really want to know what it is that's sinful. Maybe it would help me to understand. It's hard to follow a rule that seems meaningless, like it has no purpose. I just want to see the substance, if any, behind it.

This has made me appreciate my faith though. Of course, I was always appreciative of Jesus Christ and what he did, at least in theory. I'm realizing it in a whole new way though. Back then, even though I know you can't earn your way to salvation, a small part of me felt like I didn't ever do anything seriously wrong. Not wrong enough to justify needing Jesus Christ's death on the cross. I'm aware that any sin is enough to separate us from God no matter how small. I just felt like the things I did we're such small things. When I would read about things like God's forgiveness, grace, mercy and it's abundance in the Bible, I would understand they were good things, but they wouldn't really resonate. I felt like, since I only had small sins, all I needed was small mercies. Like, yes God's grace is never ending, and that's great, but I don't need never ending grace I just need a little. I guess I felt like I didn't need forgiveness. And since I felt like I hadn't done anything worthy of the sacrifice, I didn't understand or comprehend the magnitude of the gift I'd been given.

But now, I feel more in God's grace, not less. It sounds backwards, but it's how I feel. Sometimes I'm suddenly gripped with fear at the thought of going to hell because I'm gay. But then I remember that you can't earn your way to heaven. I remember that salvation is a gift. And I remember why my religion is the best in the world. Me being gay, this sin, threatens to separate me from my faith. I go to open my Bible, or pray, but I think about how I'm gay, and I stop. But then I do it anyway, because I remember that I can go to God exactly as I am and it'll be enough. I remember how big God is, and how little my sin is compared to him. And I'm amazed at what's been done for us.

I know people often fall away when they accept that they're gay. I don't think it's the homosexuality that causes it though. We read in the Bible about how homosexuality is sinful, and this is the way we are. So this distance opens up between us and our faith and we think nothing can be done, but Jesus can span the gap. Sometimes I feel like there's no point in going to God in the state I'm in. But I know with all my shortcomings and failings, God is big enough to reach me through it all. In that sense, God is bigger than he has ever been in my life. I know my life isn't what it should be. I've accepted that I'm weak, and I'm not strong enough to live up to everything we're called to be as Christians. I take care of my portion, which is my belief, and I give the rest to God.

Thanks,

Response #14:

Thanks for your Christmas wishes.

As to what you say here, it's not my place to tell other believers what to do or give them advice as to how to do it. I probably do too much of that as it is. My job is to answer questions about the Bible for those who ask them, even when they don't like the answers scripture demands I give.

So as to questions such as what it means to be "gay", or how much is destiny, how much cultural, how much choice, it's not profitable to go beyond what the Bible has to say. I do think it is fair to point out that the answers to these questions have varied with time and cultures. The ways the ancient Greeks and Romans thought about these issues, for example, are very different from what is taken for "scientific" today. I only mention all this to help you remember that the politically correct lens with which people see these things today is not necessarily the only way to see them as if that view were "the absolute truth" – it's certainly not the biblical one.

I would also like to point out that some of the things you say here about how you feel I am viewing this matter are not only not the case but in some instances exactly the opposite of what I actually said. For example, when you say "Could you tell me what is it about being gay that makes it a sin?", first, I never said this; second, there is no biblical definition of "being gay", and as indicated above I'm not sure I would be persuaded to accept such a definition in accordance with the contemporary template as being absolutely true; and third, "being" anything is not a sin – "doing" something prohibited by scripture is what constitutes sin.

Many people, even (sadly) most Christians, are of the opinion that we are in this world to enjoy ourselves, pursue our dreams, and have a "good life". But that perspective is false for those who have committed themselves to follow the Lord wherever He leads. We are here to serve Him in whatever ways He wants us do so (there is great happiness in doing so, but not necessarily according to the world's canons). Fulfilling that mission entails in general for all Christians spiritual growth, progress in the testing and trials of life, and then helping other Christians grow and progress through the deployment of these gifts when we have grown to the point necessary.

Most Christians today, however, are merely spinning their wheels. They aren't growing, they aren't passing tests (they are spiritually unprepared to do so), and they certainly aren't ministering – not the way the Lord wants. They are substituting "works" for true service, "nodding to God" by going to church (where there is no substantive teaching), and living their lives pretty much as unbelievers would (though perhaps in a moral and generally upstanding way), throwing out some choice phrases like "Praise the Lord" from time to time as if this validates their course. And instead of doing what Christ wants them to do, they are really mostly only pursuing their own selfish interest. This pursuit of "myth happiness" is sad (please see the link), because there is no lasting happiness apart from following Christ the right way, no true satisfaction, no true peace, regardless of how "successful" a person may be in pursuit of false substitutes which the world proclaims. Just because we "want it", doesn't make it right or good, and just because we "get it" won't make us truly happy – not like the uncompromising, true inner-happiness that comes when we have no doubts about being what Jesus wants us to be and doing what He wants us to do. It's all about what we choose.

So from my perspective, the road you are turning onto is only superficially different from the road most Christians are taking these days when they choose what pleases themselves instead of what pleases their Master. We all do this whenever we sin or act out of selfishness of course, but what I am talking about here is not a momentary lapse but a conscious choice of life-direction. Some of these bad choices are worse than others (depending upon the degree to which they involve a person in gross sin); all of them have the same net effect of reducing the chances of any serious eternal reward for having accomplished the missions our Lord has for us all. In the New Jerusalem, the vast majority of believers will apparently lack any of the three crowns, as most of our brothers and sisters will have "just gotten through" this life with their faith intact through having chosen lives that were self-absorbed instead of Christ-focused – filled with weeds. That is a victory – though not nearly the best of what could have been. The danger with being marginal, however, is that it flirts with spiritual disaster and loss of faith in apostasy (see the link), and that danger is going to be exponentially greater in the soon-to-come Tribulation, where many believers of marginal faith who are pursuing their own happiness instead of God's Will will find the pressures put on by antichrist too much to bear in faith (see the link: the Great Apostasy).

I will continue to keep you in my prayers, and I really do wish you well, along with all the happiness that comes through Jesus Christ.

Your brother in Him,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

I know it can be hard to convey tone in an e-mail. It seems like something about my last email upset you though. I'm not really sure what it is. If it's the part about me asking you what makes being gay a sin, I wasn't saying that you said that. That's just how I put the question to you. I usually don't make a distinction between being gay and doing gay things. So, if I say I'm gay, I mean both things.

I know the situation I'm in right now isn't ideal, but it's the best I can do at this time. Beating myself up for not being where I'm "supposed" to be or doing what I think I should be doing didn't work for me in the past.

Thanks,

Response #15:

Following Christ is about what we choose – to think, to say, and to do. I don't know any Christian who has ever come close to being perfect in this, but it's important not to give up.

I'm certainly not giving up on you – and you can bet the Lord isn't. He loves you more than you can ever understand.

I'll continue to be keeping you in my prayers day by day, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Bob,

I had a very disturbed feeling when I discovered that Matthew Vines, the leading Christian (although I am not sure how it is possible for someone to practice gay sex and still confess that Jesus Christ is God and that he was resurrected, without any visible divine discipline) who fully practices gay sex and made his mission to teach conservative Christians that the Bible does not condemn gay sex, was a zealous fan of Harry Potter, proven by the fact that he ran a Harry Potter fan page when he was young.

The previous, compounded by the near universal feeling among all conservative Christians that Harry Potter is of the devil, made me question whether or not being a fan of Harry Potter was a reliable diagnostic for whether an individual would be in full rebellion against God.

But then, isn't J. K. Rowling Christian, and didn't she get out of soul-crushing poverty through those books?

Sincerely,

Response #16:

Hitler was a vegetarian; that doesn't mean that all vegetarians are raving anti-Semites. So I wouldn't want to denigrate any work of literature because someone unsavory liked it.

All fiction and all art is mimesis and so "not true" to some degree or another. That includes history too, by the way, since of necessity it's an interpretation of what happened rather than "the truth" – which may vary substantially, depending on the different witnesses who experienced the actual events in question. And I suppose we can add translations of the Bible in there too, since no translation can be an absolutely faithful representation of the original (pace KJV "onlyists").

Clearly, there is a big difference between the KJV and Harry Potter – but also a big difference between Harry and fiction of the nature of ___ (fill in the blank with any highly objectionable genre you may imagine – of which there are many). Clearly, there are some things which are bad for almost anyone, some things which are going to be worse for some people than others, and some things which will hardly be capable of harming anyone (and may even be encouraging and inspirational in a good way – just as long as the reader/viewer understands completely that the fiction is, well, "fictional").

I don't think it's possible to categorize or label or pigeon-hole any type or general category of art or literature. It has to be taken one piece at a time. Christians should be savvy about this issue and wary too. Even art which almost everyone glorifies is going to be problematic from one point of view or another. Homer and Vergil are probably the two greatest literary and artistic works of western civilization, and they are filled with paganism and have plenty of magic. Few Christians will be tempted to be led astray in any way by reading them, however (at least in my opinion and observation), whereas many worry about Harry Potter – for the obvious reason that it is chock-full of magic. People tend to be less incensed about Tolkien, but I think they would be hard pressed to explain the qualitative difference in a convincing way. And what about Mary Poppins? Maybe if Harry Potter were a musical with catchy tunes it'd be less objectionable.

So I think this has to remain an individual issue and decision. Clearly, if a Christian finds him or herself (or the children) being negatively influenced, spiritually speaking, by too much of this sort of thing, then less would be advisable. On the other hand, I don't think prohibition is workable since there is not an aspect of society which is not infused with art (can't even go the grocery store without being bombarded by music, e.g., and many questionable lyrics at that). Even Muslim non-human-figure art is art; even the Amish make carvings. It's all a matter of degrees. There is a line, and it is a good idea from time to time to consider what that line is as you are doing. On the one hand we don't want to legalistically try to hermetically seal ourselves off from the world to avoid any such thing (impossible); on the other hand we don't want to be like the frog who was gradually cooked because the temperature rise was gradual (possible). This is an area of the personal application of spiritual common sense. There are no litmus tests.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

What we concluded in our Sunday School class today is that the SCOTUS ruling is another huge political distraction to our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and while it is unfortunate, it is the way of the world. We must focus upon our thoughts and actions toward others in our immediate sphere. We are to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love one another. If we love Him, we will obey His commands. It serves no useful purpose for us to jump on the band wagon over something for which we have no control. Judgment remains His alone. Love one another as He loved us, no matter what. He will take care of the details.

Response #17:

I think that's exactly right!

Question #18:

Dear Dr. Bob,

It has been quite awhile since I have written to you and I wanted to give you an update on my daughter. I've attached the previous letters to refresh your memory.

Last fall, she came to visit my son who lives nearby. Her son is now four years old, and she brought him as well. We all went to a church service together, where my son and his wife dedicated their newborn daughter to the Lord. My daughter was very uncomfortable, and it was the first time her son had ever been in a church (her son is was conceived through artificial insemination, and his only parents are my daughter and her female partner.)

I was hopeful that possibly that experience would soften her heart.

Yesterday, when the Supreme Court issued its order declaring homosexual marriage a right, I was devastated. I had hoped that things like this would wait until my daughter and her partner had turned to Jesus, repented, and received salvation. Alas, that is not what happened. She was ecstatic, as many other people were, while my heart crumbled. My sister posted an encouraging blog post on her Facebook page, and I commented, "Thanks, I needed that today." My daughter went insane. She was so angry at me and my sister, it seemed fire was burning off the page. To make a long story short, she cut me out of her life and said that I would never see my grandson until I respected her marriage. She brought up my past, and said that she had always supported me, and that I surrounded myself with hateful people and they had made me hateful. She even said that her grandfather, a former Baptist minister, accepted her marriage and said God was all right with it. I told her that I loved her, but that I had to be true to God. As for my sins, I am forgiven and that my greatest hope is that when the day of judgment comes, I pray that she will be as well. I don't know what to do. It appears pretty obvious to me that she is firmly entrenched in her sin. Yet, it also seems as though she is feeling some conviction or she wouldn't be as defensive as she is. I am going to continue to pray for her, her partner and for my precious grandson. I pray she hasn't hardened her heart to the point of no return, but I fear she may have. When that point comes, do I stop praying for her? Will I know for sure?

With a broken heart and eternal hope,

Response #18:

I have been praying for you and your daughter daily, and I intend to continue. Where there is life, there is hope of repentance (Eccl.9:4), and nothing is impossible for God.

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
Romans 11:22-23 NIV

We often don't know everything is going on in the hearts even of those closest too us. But God does . . . and He knows our hearts too. He knows how important the salvation of those we love is to us, and He is not doing nothing about it. Our part is to hang in there in faith, do what is right (like praying), and waiting on Him for deliverance in His own good time. Terrible times are coming to the entire world, and there is no telling how individuals will react, some for ill, but also some for good.

I am committed to fighting this fight with you in prayer day by day.

In our dear Lord Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

1) In the context of 1 Corinthians 13:7 specifically: (bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things), what does the phrase "all things" represent?

2) Is love in this description (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) the personification of GOD?

I have been in much conversation with those whom I would call "confused believers" and I could use your insight and perspective on the following topics. Please bear with me in regards to the length.

English seems to be a language that changes the meanings of some words as generations pass. Meaning that one would need to have some sort of understanding of the historical time to know what meanings are being conveyed. For example, if I were new to the English language and came across a sign that said (" No drinking and driving it's the law!"), it would be easy for me to drive and be afraid to drink water, orange juice, or coffee, even though most from our time would understand that this sign is not so literal, but indicating no alcohol. Just as I'm sure "love your enemies" does not mean love Satan. As I go back and forth between translations that are literal and phrase for phrase, it seems hard to grasp some expressions in a literal sense. Greek seems more specific than English and Hebrew seems more poetic naturally. Hence my stumbling with the "all things" part of this phrase in question. I know we can not believe "all things" for example, because simply put, all things are not true. Leading me to believe love would have to involve truth in some aspect. Correct me if I am wrong, but this further leads me to believe love can not be based on a lie and that therefore love is a choice not an emotion. What I have been trying to explain to the "confused believers" is that, homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and has no business in a church. Their argument is that people are born homosexuals. My response to them and this statement is that what they are really saying is that God created them that way and that he will later judge them for it, which would make God arbitrary, and this makes absolutely no sense to me! I have a hard time believing that God would have the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed and turn around and change his mind. So to continue my argument, the "truth" is that God designed Man to be with woman and within this relationship love can be demonstrated. Their second argument is that Christians need to be more loving and open the doors wider to the group in question. I tried explaining to them that opening the doors wide to a group of people that have no intention on changing their lifestyle is not offering them love, but is called compromising (or lukewarm if you will). My argument is that God will and may choose to be patient with a generation so that they have the opportunity to change their ways and repent. But that tolerating a lifestyle that is not biblical is not love. The summary of what I am trying to explain to them is that God = love, love leads to truth and that truth would have to lead to sanctification not inclusion. Through my studies this is what I come to and your advice would be appreciated on how I can explain this to these "confused believers"

Thanks once again

Response #19:

Hello Friend,

You're very welcome. It's a good point about language. I think many people underestimate the importance for any exegete of knowing Greek and Hebrew well because they don't understand basic linguistic considerations such as this. To the point, "all things" here means "all things . . . which ought to be born, believed, hoped and endured – and all things [of this type]". Greek very often practices the ellipsis of the direct object when what is meant can easily be supplied by the reader/listener; that is essentially what we have here, but we don't do this in English so that this type of thing can be a problem for readers who don't "get" the idiom (a good translation might do something to fill in the blank).

On love in the face of social upheaval, it has long been my opinion that Christians should steer clear of all things political. If one does that, this is largely a moot question. Someone who is not really a Christian but only pretending to be (and there are plenty of denominations where they will fit in just fine with that), is unlikely to want to be part of a fellowship which puts the Bible first and foremost, diligently seeking the deep truths of the Word. After all, it takes a good deal of rebellion from the Lord to get to the point not only of practicing gross sin as a matter of course, but of justifying it and then trying to destroy people who are unwilling to participate in such justification. I suppose it is hypothetically possible for someone doing all that to still be a Christian, but I would imagine it very rare and very short term if so (with either apostasy or the sin unto death waiting in the wings). So if what we are talking about here is unbelievers who play church with other unbelievers and very marginal believers who are also playing church, well, that's not something I feel I need to get very excited about. It's not a question of tolerating anything or not tolerating something. It's a matter of teaching the truth, believing the truth, and walking in the truth. We believers are not required to pass judgment on unbelievers and their sins; for our fellow believers, we owe them the truth when they ask for it. But as I say, the cases where anyone who has gone down that spiritually negative road that far being a believer are so small as to be practically nil (without, as I say, being on the verge of apostasy or the sin unto death), and the chances of anyone who is really a believer not understanding that such conduct is dangerously sinful are even less than nil, and the chances of someone violently and aggressively advocating for the acceptance of their sinful behavior as not sinful in a church setting being a believer are less than negative nil . . . in my humble opinion. If I were teaching a Bible study and any unbeliever wanted to attend, I would have no problem with that – God works in all manner of ways beyond our understanding. I am quite confident that teaching the truth always drives away those who don't really want it – and quite quickly too, in my personal experience (which goes a long way to explaining why this ministry is on the internet as opposed to being "brick and mortar").

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Can you enlighten me as to how churches (I assume of G-D) can be divided over gay marriage?

Response #20:

Be careful what you assume, my friend. There is no accounting for what passes for "church" these days (see the link: "Finding a Church – or Something Better? II").

In a very short time, once the Tribulation commences, most churches will race after antichrist as their "Messiah". What we are seeing now is only prologue.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior, the Head of the one true Church, those who believe in and follow Him.

Bob L.

Question #21:

If this was sent to you how would you respond to it ? Thanks

Still Against Gay Marriage? Read This! It's been a great week for America. History was made on Friday as The Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states. While this great victory has been met with so much joy and elation for most, unfortunately there are still some people that will never be able to accept it. To those people, I offer you these thoughts: If you want to make it a religious argument, then ask yourself this question: What would Jesus think? Would the Prince of Peace really endorse this behavior? While he might not necessarily agree with the Supreme Court's ruling to legalize gay marriage, and while he might not agree with the LGBT lifestyle, ultimately he would still extend his hand in friendship to his fellow man. That is the point that so many Christians are missing. Feel free to disagree all you want, but stop putting people down and spewing your homophobia. There are bigger issues in the world that desperately need our attention. Look at how many people are homeless and living on the street. Look at how many children are literally dying from starvation or are severely malnourished. Look at the radical terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Queda killing so many innocent people. The point is the world is full of real problems that desperately need to be solved, so does it really matter that a man and another man want to live together? Does it really matter that two women want to start a family and raise children and provide them a loving home? If someone's beliefs tell them that gay marriage is wrong, that's fine because that's what you believe and after all, this is America and you have the freedom to believe what you want. But leave it at that. We should all be allowed the opportunity and freedom to live life on our own terms as long as we aren't hurting anyone else in the process. There's no reason to go on a hate parade and start slamming other people with bigotry, hatred and discrimination. It's wrong and won't be tolerated. Have we not learned our lesson from the past? America has a long history of discrimination that includes blacks, Native Americans, and women. Lincoln freed the slaves and it still took another 100+ years for blacks to be treated like equals. Some people claim racism is still alive and well in modern day America. For all of our country's claims of exceptionalism, we have some pretty shoddy history as it relates to human rights. Remember not too long ago when blacks and whites couldn't live in harmony? Gay rights will be the same way. While it's legal now, and while some people still refuse to accept it, 50 years from now it won't even be an issue. The Supreme Court decision and legalizing gay marriage everywhere is a huge step for America. It shows there are enough independent thinkers out there. If we're truly going to evolve on these important social issues, we can't be a nation of drones programmed to believe everything in The Bible or take the word of anyone no matter who they are or what kind of power they hold. Just like the airplane has evolved from the time of The Wright Brothers, or mail has evolved into email, it's no different with gay rights. In time things are supposed to get better, not worse, and the only way that will happen is if enough free thinkers push back and question the old ways of doing things. To all my LGBT friends and Americans, this is your time. Congratulations! The bullies and bigots will kick and scream like the small minded manipulators they are, but it hasn't been enough to prevent Americans from doing the right thing.

Response #21:

What would I respond? I don't think I would respond necessarily; it would depend who sent it to me, whether they were worthy of a response. My response? "Read the Bible!" As you know, I think it is folly for Christians to get involved in politics or "cultural warfare". This is the devil's world at present and things are going to get much worse before they get even worse . . . especially once the Tribulation begins. Christians who have trouble controlling themselves regarding all the negative things happening in society now will likely go out of their minds in the near future . . . you haven't seen anything yet. As our Lord told Jeremiah:

"If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?
Jeremiah 12:5 NIV

If this sort of thing ought to mean anything it ought to get true Christians more determined than ever to be in the Word of God, learning, believing, applying, growing . . . and spiritually preparing for what comes next. One thing we can say for certain is that these developments are very clear "signs of the times" . . . and of the times soon to come.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Thanks, I'll pass this to my friend who passed it to me to help him understand some things; he is young in the word and growing. I walk lightly with him when he ask a lot about things like this. I simply told him not to be concerned about things like that. And this has been going on since sin came alive so to speak and God dealt with it His own way as we can see in the Bible. I told him God will deal with it His own way again and maybe we could bear witness to it in the days to come and that God defies sin and that is plain and simple and that no matter how many laws are passed by man that defy God's law sin is sin and He will bring judgment on all sin. Peace, thanks take care,

Response #22:

Very good!

I couldn't agree more.

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Are you willing to agree that God created two genders for certain reasons, and that He commands them to maintain that distinction? If so, with regard to OT scriptures like De. 22:5, are you willing to take a position on this one?, as to its-- or its essential/equivalent NT principle's-- binding nature on spiritual Israelites (i.e. Christians or Messianists) today, even as it was binding on ethnic/national Israelites BC and during Jesus' own and His Apostles' times? If so, are you willing to agree that it prohibits cross-dressing or any other kind of transgenderism? If so, are you willing to agree that a reasonable contemporary application thereof would prohibit girls and women from wearing pants in public? If so, are you willing to agree that He created one gender to be hairless on the face and-- in the overwhelming majority of cases-- hairy in the other gender? If so, are you willing to agree that if a man causes his (normally hairy) face to be hairless, by shaving it, he is, in essence, desiring to appear (to that extent) as the other gender, which is a transgender abomination in the eyes of God? If not (with regard to any of these questions), why?

Response #23:

Here is what I read in the Bible:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 NIV

I don't get from this that men have to grow their beards until they are tripping over them (or sport beards at all).  With regard to actual scriptures such as the one you ask about, Deut.22:5, the "rule" I gave last time would certainly seem to apply: when evaluating one's own conduct, it would be very dangerous to dismiss this passage on the grounds that "I am no longer under the Law"; everything in the Law has a spiritual element that will never pass away, even if the specific regulations were meant for Israel under the Old Covenant which has now been replaced by the New (e.g., Heb.8:13). On the other hand, any Christian today ought also to be very careful about drawing conclusions based on regulations found only in the Mosaic Law and not repeated in the New Testament, and especially so if their purpose is mandating behavior for other people – or what is even worse, trying to enforce some kind of rule with legal effect society-wide. My advice to any Christian would be to ask him/herself what the Spirit is telling them vis-à-vis such a passage before doing whatever he/she may want to do which may seem to (and may actually) conflict with what the verse says. But that personal application is very different from mounting a cultural or political crusade.

I hope you will agree that the Bible overall is very clear about how a Christian ought to behave in regard to all such things (e.g., Rom.1:24-28). However, the contemporary political and cultural uproar and fascination with these matters is something a wise Christian ought to avoid entirely. True biblical Christianity is about our individual walk with Jesus Christ – and how we help our brothers and sisters in Christ learn the truth and walk closely to Him as well. It is most definitely not about how we might answer questions on pundit-based talk shows, or what rules or regulations we might like to push through some political process, or about politics at all. In fact all such things are incredibly dangerous distractions for the true Church (those who are actually born again believers in Christ regardless of affiliation), and the fact that so many are not only involved in such things but have actually come to be defined by them is part and parcel of the Laodicean age of lukewarmness in which we find ourselves in these final days (see the link).

As a good friend recently remarked with considerable insight, morality and Christianity are not the same thing. The Communists in China were quite moral in closing down gambling, prostitution and opium dens – but then they began slaughtering missionaries. Christians should be careful whom they support. It is entirely possible that antichrist will be "socially conservative" in the extreme; that will not make him any less the son of Satan, nor will it mitigate the Great Persecution of the Church which he will launch in the Tribulation's second half.

I don't think I've ever met a born-again Christian who was confused about what the Bible teaches on matters of sexuality (unless said person was close to apostasy or the sin unto death). The Spirit working with our conscience always convicts us of wrong behavior in this regard with the result that we will be miserable in the extreme unless and until we come around to the right way of thinking and behaving (in case we are in error in any way). However I have seen plenty of putative "Christians" (one doubts their salvation) who seek to justify their clearly sinful conduct (more and more of that nowadays – a definite sign of the times).

The only real solution to these problems is the individual one of personal spiritual growth through learning and believing the truth; there is no peace or spiritual progress in prescribing and proscribing the behavior of non-believers, whether from the pulpit or from the statehouse.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dear Bob,

It's been quite awhile since I last emailed you, but I wanted to get your point of view on a couple of matters, though they are both related to one another: gay marriage. The main source of confusion coming from Romans 13, and Acts... 5, I believe? In Romans 13 we are told to respect authority, submit to authority and to follow the laws of the land, for all governmental authority is in-place by God. They are servants of God. In Acts 5, though, when the Apostles are arrested and brought before the High Priest, it was soldiers which were sent, right? Implying government? I guess a better example would be Paul spreading the word of the Lord at a time when, in the Roman Empire, Christians were being persecuted and it was considered illegal, unless I am getting my time frame mixed up.

Anyway, I know that we do not submit to laws which directly conflict with the word of the Lord, but we don't want to rebel either, so I am not entirely sure what to make of this situation. I guess my general question was about if whether or not there is a point in which a government becomes unlawful, and we are to not follow their laws which conflict with the word of the Lord, or what we do in such a scenario? This may seem like an extreme, and I may just be being paranoid, but I do see this as the beginning – signs of the tribulation to come. I am not particularly good, yet, at remembering everything that I've read. I feel as though there comes a point when a government is becoming unlawful, but then I think we've discussed this in-part before, right? I do save all of our emails.

The second matter I wished to ask about was the new trend of homosexual couples suing privately-owned bakeries, and them winning. The latest case of this is even worse, in which the Christian owners of the bakery were told to be silent about their faith, if what the article said is true. Obvious breach of the First Amendment aside, are the bakers partially at fault? We are told to love our neighbors, which does include non-Christians, maybe even 'especially' non-Christians. What I've learned a lot of, so far, is that we are instructed to keep ourselves in check, get the specks out of our own eyes... but at the same time, marriage is between a man and a woman, and then marriages done by the state are lawful in the eyes of the Lord, right? I must admit that this issue is complex, and does go just a little bit over my head. It is hard to grasp the entirety of it, but to bring things back to the bakers, who is in the wrong here? I do feel as though, for sure, the judgment is at fault because they shouldn't be told not to remain silent, and even from a purely secular point of view, they are a privately-owned business. Spiritually speaking, were they in the wrong, or is the entire idea of homosexual marriage enough where we should have no part in it at all?

And to make the title relevant, I am getting this sense that these are the beginning signs of the tribulation to come, as I mentioned earlier. What do you think? Am I jumping the gun, or being overly-cautious? I just get this feeling that, it starts with cakes, but in a few generations (or sooner?) it ends with beheadings.

I hope to hear from you soon, and I hope you are doing well.

Response #24:

Always good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you are doing well, and that things have worked out for you regarding your living situation, your family, your fiancé, and your intended move. I keep you in my prayers day by day.

To take your second question first, the speed and rapidity of social, political, economic and cultural change we are witnessing do seem to make it very clear to any spiritual observer that things cannot keep proceeding along this track at this rate for very much longer. However, this is not reading the "signs" per se (there is no unfulfilled prophecy before the Tribulation commences), but rather recognizing the trends that any Christian with spiritual common sense has always been able to do in era of history – and they are pretty hard to miss today for any Christian who is even minimally spiritually awake. When the Tribulation begins, no believer who has paid any attention to scripture will fail to realize it. For one thing, there will be unmistakable heavenly signs given when the seventh seal is opened and the Tribulation commences six months later (Rev.8:5; see the link).

As to how believers should comport themselves under current political conditions, here are a few scriptures it would be good to keep in mind:

The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
Psalm 12:8 NIV85

Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
Isaiah 59:15a NIV

Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.
Amos 5:13 NIV

Like the midwives who lied to Pharaoh but were honored by God for using that ruse to avoid putting Hebrew male children to death (Ex.1:19-21), when evil is in control, prudent believers with a modicum of spiritual common sense will recognize the "signs of the times" and take refuge from the storm where possible:

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
Proverbs 22:3 NIV

The point is not to be a coward but to recognize what is an appropriate spiritual fight to have and what is not. If the state requires you to marry someone of the same sex, that would be the time to refuse; I suppose if a pastor is required to perform such marriages, it would also be the time to refuse. However, 1) nobody as far as I know is requiring that yet either, and 2) the biblical position is that marriage is a divine institution for everyone, not just believers; therefore it is a civil institution (like government) and thus its dictates and details are to be left to the secular state. The R.C. church got totally involved in marriage for all manner of ulterior motives (the better to control its communicants), but in my opinion it is not necessary for believers who are pastors/teachers to be marrying others at all (even if it is traditional), so part of the problem here is allowing oneself to be put into that position of weakness in the first place. My personal response: "I am not licensed and do not perform marriage ceremonies". What about the "butcher, baker and candlestick-maker"? If they are wise, in my opinion, they will just be grateful for the business. Paul made tents in Corinth. No doubt most of the people who bought them were not only unbelievers but involved in all manner of sinfulness, including all manner of outright pagan religious activities – and the tents may have been used therein. That had nothing to do with Paul making the tent.

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
1st Corinthians 5:9-10 NKJV

This is the world – not a "godly country" (there is no such thing). In my opinion this false controversy is all part and parcel of the very weak spiritual state of lukewarm Laodicea which wants to make issues out of things which are not spiritual issues (political things) and yet neglects the important spiritual things: learning, believing, applying, and ministering the truth of the Word of God. How selling someone you don't agree with a cake compromises that I cannot honestly see.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Ah, I finally see the 'missing piece' of my logic: I had forgotten than marriage is for all, not just believers, as odd as that may sound. What I mean is that I knew that all could get married, believer and non-believer alike, but didn't make the connection that because it's a civil union, the state can 'set the terms' as to who can get married. I think this has to do with my tendency to separate 'civil union' and 'marriage' into two different things, which I need to remember is not the case.

As for the bakers, that was always my mindset as well: I don't see why it would offend them, and think they would welcome the business, but at the same time I do believe they should not get forced; but then, even though it is a privately-owned business, it is still a business, which is a form of public service. I guess my mindset is "encourage, don't punish", which goes for the bakers, as well as those whom seek to purchase from them. What comes to mind is "settle your matters outside of the court, if you can."

Maybe these matters are simply too big for me, which is why I have no interest in seeking a job in politics to begin with. I am glad to have gotten your perspective on this, because I find I often am just 'on the precipice' of wisdom or a realization in matters like this, but I always lack a 'piece of the puzzle', or forget to take one detail into account which sets the whole issue back into perspective. This sort of thing comes with experience and understanding over time, though, if I am right?

Response #25:

I think you are seeing things clearly enough (the "outside of court" part is a good application in my opinion). It's not a problem to want to get tricky things confirmed, especially when there is so much divisiveness and controversy about "disputable matters" such as this. When it comes to this sort of thing, Christians should keep the law of love in mind. That means, among other things, not doing anything personally that is done not out of faith (Rom.14:23; cf. Jas.4:17); not doing anything that even looks like it might be wrong (1Thes.5:22); and not using scripture either as a justification to allow us to do what we want to do regardless of scripture, or a club to beat over the head of those with whom we disagree (Rom.14:1; 15:1-2). If we do all these things we will steer a safe path between the rocks and shoals of questionable matters, avoid controversy, and come close to treating others as we would wish to be treated. After all, we are here to make our own choices (not judge others about theirs) and the best ones are drawing closer to the Lord day by day through reading scripture, listening to good Bible teaching, and believing the truth, applying that truth in the tests that come, and helping others do these things through the ministries and gifts we have been given. There is no law against such things.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

This is probably the idea which I've tried to ingrain in myself the most, other than the Lord forgives all. I remember us discussing before that one of the most common themes throughout all of scripture is the idea of monitoring oneself, and keeping oneself in check, rather than telling others what to do. This is the idea I keep in mind the most, and it has really helped me. I find myself remembering the scripture about "see to the log in your own eye, before offering to help your brother with the speck in his" more easily. Thank you for helping me out in this, and all of my matters.

Response #26:

You're most welcome.

Keep running a good race – it's a pleasure to see your spiritual progress.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #27:

I trust the Lord that He is keeping you and that you are in good health. It has been long time, well there are many reason that made to failed to correspond which I cannot begin to explain but the Lord will always remain faithful. I have two question that needs urgent answers. (1) Is it good to use punishment or corporal punishments to discipline a worker in the church? such as kneeling down, caning, and forcefully subjecting the worker to hunger strike in the name of fasting. (2) What is your take on this issue of Gay Right that has just been passed in the US?

Response #27:

It's very good to hear from you, my friend. I hope you are doing well. I remember you and your family in my prayers day by day.

As to your questions, first, I would suggest that anyone who sees this sort of activity going on in any "church" should get as far away as possible just as quickly as possible. Not only is nothing like this permitted by the Bible, but it is fair to say that it is antithetical to everything to be read in the Bible.

As to your second question, this is a sure sign of the coming of the end times, I would think, and also a demonstration that the suggestion in the studies at Ichthys that this country is the one which will become the mystery Babylon of the Tribulation is probably right on the mark. As to what Christians should do about it, however, I always try to remind my brothers and sisters in whatever country they find themselves that our true citizenship is in heaven (Phil.3:20), that we are here to serve Jesus Christ, not any particular nation or political agenda. Our Christian witness does require that we obey the law and respect authority – just as long as we can do so without violating any Christian tenets ourselves. What other people choose to do or are allowed to do is not our chief concern (1Cor.5:10), and if we let it bother us too much we will be distracted from our true Christian mission of growing spiritually, progressing in our walk with Jesus, and helping others do the same. Major events like this tend to get people thinking of political solutions, but as I have said repeatedly to anyone who will listen, politics of any kind is the devil's game. As long as we as Christians are allowed to worship the Lord and pursue our spiritual growth without any serious interference, we should praise the Lord and move forward, regardless of whatever silliness or madness is going on around us.

Keep fighting the good fight of faith, my friend! That is the way to great reward, and the only way to please our Master Jesus Christ.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Dear Bob,

Given recent politics, which while I do try to stay out of them, and this is a rather big topic to ask you about, I wanted to see if my current line of thinking is correct, or if I'm erring in some way. We did touch on this a little bit when I asked you about marriage a little while ago, but wanted to gauge to see if my line of thinking is in-line with Christ.

Scripture does say that homosexuality is an abomination, to my knowledge, but I can't recall the exact wording as of this moment, so it is to be viewed as evil. I've always held this view: that a state of 'being' homosexual isn't in and of itself a sin, since it is the equivalent of facing temptation, right? If I interpreted what scripture says correctly, then it is homosexual actions that are deemed evil. I recall back to Sodom and Gomorrah whereby am I right in assuming that many of the men weren't actually homosexual, but had simply given in to their desires? Either way, they were doing the actions.

Is this line of thinking right? The Lord taught us to love our neighbors: friends AND enemies, so I think this means to love homosexuals with Christian love, just like we would anyone else, right? Typing this out and thinking about it now, it sounds and feels right, but I would like to verify to make sure it is in-line with Christ.

Response #28:

I agree with you entirely. 1) It's best to stay away from politics. 2) Christians should treat everyone with love; that doesn't mean approving of what they do but desiring their salvation (and consequent spiritual growth). 3) We are all sinners and we all have sin natures; each has his/her own set of temptations. Being tempted is not a sin. Sinning is a sin. Justifying sin and claiming it is not sin is the essence of evil. Focusing on the sins of others and ignoring our own is the worst sort of hypocrisy. 4) We don't have all the details about Sodom, but we do know that when the angels visited Lot the men of the city tried to kidnap and rape them, threatening to kill Lot for opposing them – and continued to try even after having been struck with blindness! Any place sunk that deep in degeneracy is likely to destroy itself . . . unless God acts first as in that case. 5) In a short time, Babylon will be destroyed, not precisely in the manner or Sodom and Gomorrah, and not precisely for the same reasons, but the principle is the same. So it's good not to be self-righteous, unloving and hypocritical on the one hand, and also not to turn a blind eye to sin, evil, and the consequences of them on the other.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Hello Robert

Please tell me, can homosexual Christians go to heaven?

Response #29:

What is a "homosexual Christian"? If this is a person who is tempted to same-sex sex but abstains, that is not even an issue in spiritual growth and progress (we are all tempted but not all in the same ways). If this is a person who is tempted and succumbs, he/she will have the trouble that all erring Christians have when they sin in grave ways, namely, divine discipline and the necessity of repentance and restoration through rebuilding their relationship with the Lord. If you mean someone who claims sin is not sin and indulges in it without guilt and even justifies his/her actions, such a person is either not a Christian or is not going to be one very long (such attitudes and behaviors lead to apostasy, whatever the brand of sin) . . . or is going to be taken out of this life by the Lord via the sin unto death if he/she refuses to give up either their faith or their sinful behavior.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Hi Bob,

Read what I have to say on reddit regarding this:

Oregon judge refuses to perform same-sex marriages

Response #30:

Any believer who is not aware of which way things are going in this society is in for some rough sledding ahead, particularly if he/she imagines that there is some political salvation coming. To the contrary, it is highly likely as we have discussed that antichrist will make use of traditional backlash as part of the impetus for his ascendency to power. Is it hypocritical to enforce the law with glee against one person who claims to be acting from conscience in what is really a minor matter (because it's not as if such a license cannot be easily obtained elsewhere and this is merely a punitive expedition)? Of course. But that is the nature of the times we live in. As Christians, we are not here to reform society or to crusade for what we see as "the right thing" politically. We are here to serve Jesus Christ by growing up spiritually, drawing closer to Him day by day, and helping others do likewise through ministry. If this process ever becomes illegal, and it may well, then we are to keep doing it anyway and be willing to suffer the consequences. Until then, a low profile is biblically recommended.

Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey.
Isaiah 59:15 NIV

The wicked strut about on every side when vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
Psalm 12:8 NASB

When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding.
Proverbs 28:12 NIV

When the wicked arise, men hide themselves; But when they perish, the righteous increase.
Proverbs 28:28 NKJV

For I know that your transgressions are many and your sins are numerous. You oppress the righteous man, you take bribes, and you turn the innocent away [from justice] at the gate. So the prudent man keeps quiet at [such a] time [as] this, for it is an evil time.
Amos 5:12-13

Keep running your good race, my friend. In this there is great reward.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #31:

I am still grateful to you for serving and of course I understand you are very busy man and I can only imagine the time and effort it takes to put together all of the bible study work on Ichthys and it is so appreciated by myself and I am sure all those who benefit from your teaching. I have a ? regarding my brother who is gay and planning to marry his partner in the near future. I try not to judge him or his lifestyle but I know what the Word of God teaches and find myself having mixed feelings about this. My brother is a Christian and a wonderful person. He is gorgeous and you would never know that he is gay. I love him so much but do not feel it is appropriate to attend his wedding ceremony but I do not in any way wish to hurt him or have him think I am judging as only God knows I have done numerous sinful things in the course of my life especially in my younger years. Do you have any suggestions as I always appreciate your opinion. It is an honor to pray for members of the Ichthys ministry. I was thinking maybe some day I will have you add the emails we have exchanged so maybe it can help others in some way.

Have a lovely weekend my friend!

Yours in Christ,

Response #31:

To take last things first, whenever I post emails that contain sensitive or possibly identifying information, I always take pains to extract that. So without your permission, anything I would post would take out anything specific to your personal situation, et al.

As to your brother, I think living in this country at this particular time makes it harder for people with that tendency, because the society's message is "it's OK!" (or even good and wholesome!). We all were born with a sin nature, and we are all sinners by trade as well as by birth. Only through spiritual growth and progress do believers ever get to the point of keeping serious sin seriously in check – and even then it is a dam that must be kept under constant guard – especially when it's raining. We also all have our own tendencies toward sin which are different from other peoples in a kaleidoscopic way. So even though there are large categories of sin-tendency-types – roughly analogous to the variety of specific spiritual gift combinations so that just as there are myriad combinations of spiritual gifts so that no two believers are identically gifted for the good, so too they are myriad combinations of sinful tendencies in our physical bodies which must be combated to avoid the bad.

I understand well the temptations that relate to my own types; I only know by analogy the temptations that don't plague me personally. So it is with us all. Depending upon what sort of person we are, we may have a tendency to be too hard on others where we don't understand their particular temptation type – or we may be too lenient because we don't understand; similarly, we may be too hard on others because we do understand (since we are similarly plagued) or too soft for the same reason, depending on us. But when it comes to what other people are doing in their lives we have to resist being anything but objective in our observations; not judging (as if it were ours to judge – that prerogative belongs to the Lord alone); and not forgiving (as if it were ours to forgive – that prerogative belongs to the Lord alone). We want what the Lord wants: repentance and salvation, and only truth which is both non-judgmental and non-permissive can further that objective. I believe that is what Jude is saying in this passage:

(22) Have compassion on those who are struggling [with their consciences] (i.e., wavering in their faith in regard to sinful behavior). (23) Rescue those you can by snatching them from the fire [of temptation and its consequences]; but exercise [such] compassion in [godly] fear, hating even the smallest part of sin's contamination (i.e., stay clear of, lit., "even the garment tainted by the flesh").
Jude 1:22-23

This is the proper attitude: to keep our attitude towards sin unchanged; to sympathize with the struggles our brothers and sisters are going through; to help them escape if we can; but to keep ourselves a safe distance away, lest we too be compromised or defiled.

If a genuine believer sins in a serious way, that child of God will rue their behavior – and God will help them do so with divine discipline. Embracing our sinfulness instead of repenting of it, however, regardless of the pressures involved, is the height of spiritual danger. The Lord will not allow such a situation to continue forever, not in the case of a genuinely born-again believer. We who know these things should have mercy on those who are struggling in such a way, not withdrawing our love, but not condoning their conduct as if it were safe, and making the most of whatever opportunity we might have to help them escape the fire, if and when they show a willingness to try and do so.

I'll try to keep your brother and his situation in my prayers as well.

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has paid for the sins of us all that we might live with Him forever.

Bob L.

 

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