Monday, April 25, 2016

News From Flathead County

The Police Blotter column from the Flathead County Beacon in Kalispell, Montana is always entertaining. My favorite 'report' is in bold italics.

Unwanted Visitor

9:25 a.m. A local woman saw someone in a beat-up Gremlin drive down a swampy road near the river. The Gremlin, she felt, was cause for concern.
11:28 a.m. A Kila woman reported that employees of the Internal Revenue Service were at her house harassing her for money.
12:21 p.m. A black lab in Evergreen jumped a tall fence and ran behind the Town Pump.
2:43 p.m. Someone from a Kalispell business complained that customers keep driving over their rock displays.
3:02 p.m. A Whitefish resident claimed that her neighbor was in his driveway shooting at old appliances with his shotgun. The caller worried about passers by and wayward bird shot.
6:01 p.m. A Whitefish woman reported that a shepherd wearing a bandana frequently visits her at home and she’s tired of it.
7:04 p.m. A man with brown hair ran a stop sign on Lion Mountain Road.

Having shepherds visit is daunting enough. When they have headgear, it's intimidating. And what are the sheep doing while this guy is at her house? Are they in the yard? Hard to say. Shepherding can be lonely business, but I'm sure they explained that at the job interview.

The Clobber Passages

Yesterday in adult Sunday school we continued our discussion of the book, "Messy Grace", by Caleb Kaltenbach. We were in chapter 6, entitled, "No Compromise". Up to this point, Caleb has discussed the need for Christians to behave with grace and love toward members of the LGBT community, building relationships with them and creating peaceful discussion. In chapter 6 Caleb outlines the truth of the scriptures regarding same sex sexual activity and God's will in this regard.

In the chapter, Caleb comes up with an almost systematic approach in two parts. First he establishes what God intended for humanity and how this divine intention seems to be universal throughout scripture - that men and women are to marry, to become one flesh in lifetime commitment to each other. It is in the creation account, Jesus affirms this and Paul continues the pattern in the Church Age. For background see the following:

Genesis 2:20-24
Matthew 19:4-6
Ephesians 5:21-33

Then, after establishing what God intended for humanity in terms of sex and family life, Caleb searches the scriptures for the things that ought not be done in human sexuality, what is sin and in opposition to God's will. Some gay Christians have referred to these as the "clobber passages" because they are used by straight Christians to hammer the LGBT community as well as gay Christians into submission. Generally, this approach will fail because the scriptures get used as clubs out of context and with no love, no relationship building and against people rather than behavior.

They are however, still God's truth. If you are a believer, it does not matter what your inclinations are sexually, what you or I think about them or even what the world thinks about them. The only thing that matters is what God thinks and His will about these things is consistent throughout scripture.
Here are a few of those passages.

Leviticus 18:22
Leviticus 20:13
Deuteronomy 22:5
Romans 1:24-27 
I Corinthians 6:9-11
I Timothy 1:8-11

Many will say that the Old Testament passages do not apply because we Christians do not live under the law. Others will say that the 'no homo' thing was Paul's problem and that Jesus never spoke to it.

Neither of these objections pass my smell test and I will tell you why. First, much of what was the law has in fact been passed to us as Christians. What has not been passed is the condemnation from failing to keep it. The New Testament is clear on what these things are. One of them is a prohibition on homosexual behavior. We cannot sin the more that grace may abound however. We have an obligation to walk in the way of the Spirit and sexual immorality is not the direction in which the Spirit walks. If you are a believer, you have an obligation to do these things. If you are not a believer, I will not judge you for what you do. That will be up to the Lord.

Secondly, Jesus did not speak directly to the issue of homosexuality because is was not a major problem in Judea and among the Jews of His time. They knew from the law that such practices were opposed to God's will. He did speak about marriage though, affirming Gods original intent and how anything outside of that paradigm was sexual immorality.

It is Truth.

Truth can separate people or unite them or allow them to coexist in peace despite disagreement over God's Truth.

God wants everyone to know His Truth. He also loves everyone and pursues them as one would pursue a lost child. He wants ALL of US to be in His Family. What believers need to recognize is that we cannot marginalize people with this Truth. Instead, it needs to be used in a way that will help those far from God come to embrace Him and His Truth as we do. We must not clobber them.

Jesus loved. He built relationships. He spent His time here with the worst of us and He stilled loved us enough to do for us what we could not do for ourselves - become righteous before God. All of us have sinned and have fallen short of His glory. We need to recognize this so we can ALL approach the throne of grace humbly and together and share that gift with others that do not presently have that privilege.

It's true that the Bible is the sword of the Spirit used to combat evil and convict us of sin, but is can also be used as a shepherd's crook to gently lead errant sheep and train them to walk in the way of their Master. Clobbering sheep is counterproductive.

Grace and truth people. Live in the tension between them and let the Lord take the sheep as they come into the fold.

I love y'all. Hope to see you in church.