All these things [trials, temptations, tribulations] are wonderful opportunities to confirm or deny our commitment to Christ. It's a chance to defy temptation and stand up for what's right - despite peer pressure (Mat. 10:32-33). We can make things easier or more difficult for ourselves. Either you're totally convinced God's way is right and worth living, or you're not sure and continually ride the fence and risk rupture; tormenting yourself and sending out conflicting signals and confusing signs (Mat. 6:24; 7:16). When you're at the crossroads it's either this way or that. You can't have it both ways (Rev. 3:15). You should've made up your mind at baptism.
Will you honor your decision or break your vows? For those who've chosen to follow the Noble Path, they can't afford to play with fire, flirt with death, or risk living on the edge (Jude 23; Zech. 3:2). They've got to learn to quickly say no to sin. “He who hesitates is lost. " Then they must become “stuck in their ways. " They know that it's now or never, do or die, and that nothing can compare to what God has in store for them (Heb. 11:25-26; Mat. 13:46).
God's fire will either purify or destroy you. The choice is yours. Will you become a great success or end up a miserable failure (Mal. 3:2)? You might as well lay your lust in the dust, because everything in this world's about to end and a new world begin; therefore, God expects us to take note and act accordingly (1 John 2:17; 2 Pet. 3:11). Just as God's got something in store for His saints, He's also reserved something for sinners (2 Pet. 3:7). Don't worry, everybody will get what's coming to them (Rev. 22:12).
Using Available Resources
Having a clear vision of God's Kingdom, and a sober view of things to come, we can overcome every obstacle in Christ (John 16:33). But how can we keep our head up when the whole world's falling down around us (Luke 21:28)? By realizing that we're that much closer to the time when God will pick up the pieces and start over (John 6:12; Acts 1:6). But how can we keep from “losing it" while we wait (Rev. 3:11)? By getting “baptized!" We're to be immersed in the Word and saturated by God's Spirit (Luke 3:16). That's the only way to be “in Christ. " That's an atomic statement. It's not meant to be just an empty spiritual cliche. It's packed with POWER and ENERGY!
Our growth and development depends upon how often (and to what degree) we'll take advantage of our available resources (Mat. 13:23). Only we can hold ourselves down or back (1 Thes. 5:19).
We're authorized to exercise “veto power" over any illicit thought or action. We're to wield God's Spirit (Rom. 8:13), and learn to handle our Light-Saber like an expert (Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 2:15). We're under orders to search and destroy (2 Cor. 13:5; Ga. 5:24), and follow our Leader wherever He might go (Rom. 8:14; 1 Pet. 2:21).
Jesus’ flesh and blood are our rations (John 6:47-63). God's Word can energize us and His Spirit sustain us - but it must become our daily bread. Are we utilizing what we've been given, investing our assets wisely, or are we just wasting our “time and money" (Isa. 55:2)? You've got to use it or you'll lose it (Luke 19:11-27)! We'll really need this celestial assistance to “walk on the waters, " and not let our heart sink within us, if and whenever we hear rude remarks or callous comments by Christians - people we'd hope would understand our predicament and appreciate our efforts (Ps. 41:9).
God expects us to go out of our way, to forgive and forget, when we get burnt (Col. 3:13). He doesn't want us to fall into the trap of bickering back and forth (1 Pet. 3:9). We're to share scripture, not exchange cutting remarks (1 Cor. 14:26; Ps. 50:20)! As Satan seeks to divide and conquer, may he find unity in diversity instead (1 Cor. 12:12). Since we have such a high calling, let's not act beneath ourselves.
Some Christians don't know how to deal with homosexuality. It's all new and frightening to them. That's understandable. But now they're under obligation to learn how to handle themselves when confronted with this issue. We're to be patient with them and pray that they'll be tolerant of us. We're not to force-feed them with “everything you never wanted to know about homosexuality!" They might get sick. Everybody grows at their own pace. Some “growing-pains" are to be expected along the way. We should accept and respect these facts of life and avoid sibling rivalry.
Meanwhile we can attempt to make the best of a bad situation (Rom. 12:18). Don't be judgmental, but be careful. Don't trip someone up or help them fall over their mental block (Rom. 14:13). This is the way of love: don't hold a grudge!
What about AIDS victims? Are they victims or did they knowingly endanger themselves? Should we befriend these social outcasts or leave them to lay in the bed they've made? What about compassion? Am I my brother's keeper? Can't I cry for the suffering sin causes (Jer. 9:1)? Don't these “lepers" need love? They're not necessarily any worse than others (Luke 13:1-5). Time and chance struck them down (Ecc. 9:11). They need our tender-loving prayers and care, not our cold-hearted stares. Besides, if everybody got sick who's sinned, we'd all be in intensive care! “Except for the grace of God, there go I" had better become our attitude. God showed His love toward us while we were yet sinners (Rom. 5:8).
Masturbation: is it right or wrong? It's the lesser of two evils, but it's still evil. Didn't Jesus say that if you've lusted after someone you've already had “sex" with them? Sex is mental, not just physical. Isn't masturbation usually accompanied by explicit fantasies? What's the difference between them and dirty movies or smut magazines? Don't they all throw fuel on the fire? Doesn't it entice you to fulfill them? Doesn't it weaken your will, surrender your resolve, and screw-up your spiritual day? Isn't lust just like a drug: intoxicating and addictive? There's no “time-out" for a Christian. Ask God for help in this area and know you'll receive it. Learn to resist sin, not God.
Same Person, Different Perception
Homosexuality is here whether we like it or not. I've been all around the world and have see that it's everywhere. We can't just wish it away because it won't go. Pretending it doesn't exist isn't fooling anyone but yourself. We have to face up to the facts, regardless of how uncomfortable they might make us feel.
As stated in the “Family Network" section of “Better Homes and Gardens" (when they published my letter/Nov. ‘92 issue): Perhaps you're the parent or friend of a lesbian or gay. Don't faint if you have; just remember that nothing has changed about that person except your perception of him or her. Treat them according to their personality, not their sexuality. Maybe you'd deny that it could ever occur in your family or intrude into your circle of friends. Don't faint if it does. It's not the end of the world. The sun will still rise and life will go on. Maybe you're unsure of your own sexuality. This much is sure: everything that you've loved or enjoyed about their friendship or company remains the same. Don't get upset if they hadn't told you. Such anger would only warrant their fears of being “found-out. " Maybe they didn't want to risk losing your friendship. Obviously it means a lot to them. Express your disapproval of their practice, if you must. But reject it - not them. Is that asking too much? Life's too short to allow misunderstandings to come between us. We're encouraged to be reasonable; not to engage in emotional debates or heated arguments (Isa. 1:18). Let's avoid such ringside distractions. Remain cool, calm and collect (2 Tim. 2:23-25). Build bridges, not walls. Make your point and drop it.
One Big Happy Family
So there, now you have it. What the Bible really says about homosexuality. I guess I've done something right since I get complaints from both sides: the Christian and gay communities. It just goes to show you can't please everybody! Some say I'm too harsh; others say I'm too lenient. May everybody at least glean something. Others are initially discouraged, but then become encouraged to make necessary changes in their lives (2 Chron. 7:8-11).
A few might even sniff, “I told you so. " If so, they've missed the point. Those prejudiced preachers might deliver the same basic message, but their style and tone of voice isn't like the Father's (John 10:1-5). This little booklet's a “love-letter, " not hate-mail! Not everyone who speaks the truth has the right attitude or motivation. “A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent. " We're to help gather, not scatter; to encourage people to come to Christ, not dig in their heels; to make it easier, not more difficult to repent (Acts 16:16-18; Philip. 1:15-18).
"Only he deserves his life and freedom who conquer them anew every day" (Goethe). May we grow ever stronger and more deeply appreciate our deliverance, making sure we never take it for granted (Deut. 5:15). Caution can't be stressed enough. We've got to be so careful not to fall back into our old rut, going nowhere (Ga. 5:1). We can't afford a relapse into sin that would only put us into a tail-spin (John 5:14). We must be recovering homosexuals, getting better and gaining strength (2 Tim. 2:26).
It's a daily struggle
If Christ gave it all, His everything for this relationship, can't we at least sacrifice a little? Is sex really so important or worth dying for? I know it feels good, but it won't feel too good in the Lake of Fire! May your love for God become greater than your lust for men (Isa. 56:4-5).
The Jewish proverb that “all beginnings are hard" is true. But that old saying doesn't just state a fact, it offers us the hope that things will get better with time. They do. We just have to hang in there. Climb Jacob's Ladder one rung at a time. Don't give up on yourself when God hasn't! I know from personal experience how difficult it can be, but I also know it's well worth it. I wouldn't have given up John, my ex-lover, for God if I didn't believe in what I've written! I went through hell, at first, really wondering if there is an afterlife, a resurrection, if Jesus is the Christ, if homosexuality is incompatible with the scriptures; what if I was all wrong, how would I ever find such another lover, etc. ? But I have survived - and grown stronger. I don't take my beliefs for granted, I know they're true!
Old habits and ways of thinking can be replaced. New habits and ways of doing things can become ingrained. The divine nature can begin to replace our human nature, because God can and does heal minds and bodies! He's familiar with broken hearts and unhappy lives, and can mend them (Mat. 11:28). We can be made whole in Christ. He wants us all to become “One Big Happy Family" - the Kingdom of God .
David Ben-Ariel is a Christian-Zionist writer and author of Beyond Babylon: Europe's Rise and Fall. With a focus on the Middle East and Jerusalem, his analytical articles help others improve their understanding of that troubled region. Check out the Beyond Babylon blog.