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Darkness to Light - Vol. IV, No.1
Darkness to Light
Volume IV, Number 1
Presented by Darkness to
Light Web site
Director: Gary F. Zeolla
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Scripture Workbook: For Personal Bible Study and Teaching the Bible - This book contains twenty-two individual "Scripture Studies." Each study focuses on one general area of study. These studies enable individuals to do in-depth, topical studies of the Bible. They are also invaluable to the Bible study teacher preparing lessons for Sunday school or a home Bible study and can be used for group studies.
Email Exchanges on Homosexuality
The emails below are follow-ups to my articles on homosexuality posted on the Web site. The emailers' comments are in black and enclosed in greater than and lesser than signs; my comments are in red.
>Subject: "Homosexuals" in 1 Corinthians 6:9 - Article
Dear Mr. Zeolla,
I ran across your name today looking for books on the reliability of the canon of Scripture on Amazon.com. I then found your website for Darkness to Light ministries and have been very impressed. I became convinced of Reformed Christian doctrine in my college years (I'm 25 now) and was finally satisfied intellectually about my faith in contrast with my charismatic upbringing. I pray that God may continue to bless your life and work. : )
I'm writing principally because of the article cited in the subject. I have long struggled with homosexual desires and have lived an openly gay life during the past 4 or so years. All the while, I was aware of the Bible's condemnation of such behavior. For a long time, I implicitly accepted the "pro-gay theology" line regarding the interpretation of the various texts on homosexuality. I also reasoned that since God had made me that way, and he doesn't make mistakes, that I must be justified in pursuing a love life just as any other person. Of course, this doesn't, and never did, jive with my understanding that God produces trials in our lives and actually did create a world with sin in it but nonetheless commands obedience to His Law (a Law that is _meant_ to show how pitiful our sinful state is w/out Christ's redeeming work). During college, I went to a Christian "reparative" therapist but never was happy with that approach. I understand now that my sinful nature was powerfully at work. I simply wanted to retain my sins because they felt good. O! How I longed to be "normal" rather than obedient!
A couple of times in the past, I renounced my lifestyle (i.e., the sexual behavior) and turned back to God and the Church only to fall back into my sinful ways. Within the last month, I have again renounced the homosexual lifestyle and am attending a wonderful Presbyterian Church in America church. It is a profoundly difficult decision to make and maintain. But I have been compelled by the Spirit for His grace will most certainly sanctify those whom He has called. I am firmly convinced that God will keep me from temptation (Matt. 6:13; James 1:13-14).
Nonetheless, I have my cross to carry--the feelings do not just disappear overnight. This gets to why I was moved to write a word of thanks to you. Many brothers who have recently written on the subject of homosexuality from a Biblical perspective mention, as do you, that 1 Cor. 6:11 states that some Corinthian believers 'were' homosexuals but then were no longer after their conversion. Most have confounded this statement and assumed that their homosexual 'orientation,' plus the behavior, is removed. I have always been distressed that many Christians do not rightly understand that only homosexual behavior/lusts are condemned in Scripture. The orientation (or 'constitution' as some have it) is a byproduct of the Fall and is not particularly treated by Scripture. It is no less a struggle in the fleshly nature than any other sinful orientation.
Your comments clarifying this matter in the article on 1 Cor. 6:9 are right on target. I have felt that a dispassionate view toward this and other verses that deal with homosexuality (particularly 1 Cor. 6:11) leads to a cold and unhelpful pastoral approach to a homosexual sinner who may have turned from their homosexual behavior, but still struggles with the internal inclinations and passions. In fact, much in the way of sexuality is dealt with poorly in many churches today, I think. I do not mean to plead for some kind of special watchdog attention on the believer struggling with homosexuality. But misrepresenting 1 Cor. 6:11 as a message of total and complete freedom from homosexuality in this life is misleading and a stumbling block, IMO. I greatly appreciate your discussion of the fact that struggle will remain for any sinner who turns to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. As well, nothing is impossible for our great God! He may work a wonder and change the sexual inclinations of the former homosexual. Nevertheless, may His will be done.
I hope my rambling hasn't taken up much of your time. I am simply overjoyed that someone has realistically approached this subject (and is in agreement with my assessment:). I would also like to suggest Olliff and Hodges articles on homosexuality at http://www.reformed.org/social/. This article deals with some of the translation issues that you do in yours. It has been a key work of grace in my life, helping me to realize the powerful delusion of "pro-gay theology." Their words always haunted me in my rebellion. The Word of God is most definitely sharper than a double-edged sword! Once again, I pray God may continue to bless your life and work. Thank you for allowing me to share with you!
Grace and peace,
Thank you for the kind comments about my site. I am heartened to hear that I was on target with my evaluation of the situation. Thank you for sharing so openly. I can only pray that He continues to give you the strength to continue to refrain from homosexual behavior.
>Subject: Bible integrity
Hello. You may or may not know the following. Rev. 22, verses 18 & 19. There it states the penalties for adding to, or subtracting from, Scripture. Do you think God makes up penalties for things that God knows won't happen? That the penalties are in place says to me, man has altered the word of God. It is our job to use the commandments, all 11 of them, and rational thinking to tell us what has been altered by men.
If you're talking about textual criticism, determining the original text of the Scriptures, that is being done. And the vast majority of the text is certain, with only debates left on isolated passages.
Yes there were some attempts in the early centuries AD to alter the text, but these alterations are easily discovered by today's textual critical methods, and thus are not a part of published Greek texts. I discuss this in the chapter on this subject in my Bible versions book.
>Subject: Re: Bible integrity
Anything controversial, like the erroneous condemning of the homosexual sexual orientation. Must be proved to be from God or from men or you are taking other people's word that what is supposed to be true Scripture is the truth.
Just so you know I am a man that is sexually turned on by women.
Yet as soon as I asked myself the question: Did I choose my sexual orientation? And I came back with a resounding no; I knew that anything in the Bible against homosexuals is from men. If no one chooses their sexual orientation, then one orientation is as good, or bad, as any other. To call homosexuals sinners just because of their sexual orientation, is the same as calling a person a sinner because of the skin color he or she was born with. It is the same non-choice by the person. All such non-choices are not sins of and by themselves.
Now I understand where you are coming from. This is a complex subject on many fronts, but I will say this, there are no textual variants for any of the passages about homosexuality in the Bible. What this means is, there is not doubt that they are genuine, that they are part of the original texts as they were originally written by the original authors. And either these authors were inspired by God or they were not. There is no basis for saying some passages are not the Word of God while others are.
Otherwise, I will refer you to my articles on homosexuality and the authority and reliability of the Bible posted on the Web site and in my Scripture Workbook.
>Subject: Re: Bible integrity
I do not attack you. Please understand that.
But, if you can honestly say that you chose your sexual orientation, no matter what it is, and that people in general, also choose their sexual orientation, then, and only then, will I consider the text in the Bible against homosexuality from God instead of from men.
I ask you if your definition of sin differs substantially from mine? Mine is: Sin is someone making a wrong choice, even if it is the choice to do nothing.
Now if your definition is basically the same, cannot you see, that if you don't choose your sexual orientation it cannot be a sin no matter what that orientation is. Isn't that why a person's natural skin color cannot be a sin? They had no input in choosing it?
Back to the Bible. Man has had at least 4000 to 5000 years to alter the text that is there, and you seem to agree that men at least can, alter the text of the Bible, because the text of revelation says it can be done. Therefore the multitude of Scriptures on a subject alone should not constitute proof that it has to be from God. Also few, if any, of the old documents the present Bible is based on are originals from the person who first wrote the text. Another thing, why would the Bereans be particularly mentioned as worthy of note for checking if they had been told the truth, if it wasn't generally necessary to do so, then and now?
Sorry, but my definition of sin is the Bible's definition, "sin is the transgression of the law" (1John 3:4; KJV), or, as most versions put it, "sin is lawlessness" (e.g. NKJV, ALT). Sin is not about our choices per se, it is the breaking of God's commandments or living apart from the Law of God. Where choice comes in is when we choose to follow or not to follow God's Law.
Otherwise, as I said, the text of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments is solid. There are only isolated verses on which there is still debate, but none of these are ones that concern homosexuality. So again, you have no textual basis for denying the God-breathed nature of those passages. I again refer you to the chapter on this subject tin my book.
Otherwise, I also again refer you to the articles on homosexuality on my site that address the issues you raise. You'll note that the issue is not orientation but behavior, and that is a world of difference. You might be correct that one does not chose their orientation, but one can choose whether to act on those desires or not.
>Subject: The Truth/Holy Spirit
In the Gospel of John he wrote that Jesus did so much more but the whole world couldn't contain the Scriptures. Also, back then when Jesus was in His ministry, the people only had the Old Testament...the New was written many years later. So, the people in Jesus' day only had what He said either directly from Him or from word of mouth. For example, like when Jesus stayed in the town for a few days where He met the woman at the well. He revealed the Word of God to them, but was gone in a few days. The people had that personal experience but could not possibly have had the chance to know all the Bible (like we do today). So, the Holy Spirit guides us into truth. Remember the seed is planted, someone else waters it, but the Holy Spirit makes it grow. You can never know how the Holy Spirit will work in someone's life. Jesus may be preparing a person's day, even a sinner's day, and be there at 2:00 pm waiting for them. Sometimes certain steps are needed; obstacles to be removed before a person 'sees' Christ. God has his own timetable.
Also, I was in a ministry that reached out to 'street' people. I had a hard time helping them because it was painful to see them in their condition. I met one woman who told me she was gay. I was mildly shocked since I had heard and seen it all at that church. She committed suicide. I am very sad by this, and I miss her. Although she was seeking God, the Christians in that church refused to accept her "just as I am."
The thief on the cross could not make any amends. He could not pay anyone back. However, he was forgiven and taken to paradise that very day. That's the love of Christ in action. It's not big surprise to God that gay people are gay and thieves are thieves. He still came down to be our sacrifice because he knew we needed salvation. Something which we can't do for ourselves. He has become our righteousness.
We can't judge any gay person. I have seen firsthand the way gay people are treated. By Christians who say they love, but don't love in action. They always condemned her; they never loved her. They never allowed the Holy Spirit to minister....He is the only one who can move a person. People get in the way. Let go and let God be the one to work. His glory could have been revealed in her, if she had lived. But, Christians pushed her...beat her with the gospel instead of "presenting" the Gospel in love and truth and then allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work.
Since there is little love in this world, people are dying for lack of it. They are dying because love doesn't compliment the words. Street people, sinners, sometimes need lots of love, milk…then the meat. Christians need to minister in love and remember that they once too lived in fear and hatred. Simply present the Gospel and then allow the Holy Spirit to minister. God may use one person to share a Scripture, another person to hug a gay person (such as I did, I hugged her, I wasn't afraid to reach out to the unclean), and so on.
We still struggle with our human nature...the spirit against the flesh. Would Jesus still save us if we happened to be "sinning" at the moment of our death? Think about it. If a born again Christian were sinning at the time of his death, would he still be saved? If not, then the cross of Christ is of no value. We are secure in Him. Just as the gay person who is struggling to understand it all...he/she is still accepted by Christ if they have accepted His free gift of salvation. The Holy Spirit then comes in to do His work. The person may struggle with the new concept...it may take years. Let God love. Let Him have the glory.
I'm not sure what your point is. Yes, Christian should reach out to homosexuals in love. But at the same time, they cannot give them the false notions that their behavior is acceptable to God, no more than a thief's is, to use your example. Jesus freely forgave people but He also told them to "sin no more" (John 8:11). So Christians should help homosexuals to overcome their temptations, but they are not to excuse their sin or to accept the world's notion that homosexual behavior is not wrong.
>Subject: Re: The Truth/Holy Spirit
Yes I understand this. However, if someone who is 'introduced' to Jesus, accepts Him and His sacrifice, is forgiven and saved, sealed etc., but stumbles in his walk, then is he saved?
We all know as Christians what it takes to overcome--the temptations etc., are really strong, and sometimes do ensnare us. Sometimes, it takes the alcoholic many times to quit, the drug user to quit, the jealous, envious neighbor to quit (not all our sins are BIG or readily seen), does that mean the Christian who falls, is unsaved?
Christians might not commit a sin that is physical, but may commit a sin in his mind, even after he has accepted Jesus and has walked many years. Not only that, some Christians get "stuck" on that one sin which they still carry, some get divorced. Some entertain evil thoughts, just as sinful and detestable (in the Lord's eyes) as homosexuality, for if we sin in one point, we sin in all points. There is no "degree" of sin; there are degrees of consequences, but Jesus died for all sins and none are too big or little to forgive.
Therefore, in the ministry in helping the homosexual, he needs to see that everyone has sinned and everyone needs God's forgiveness. Even after the Christian who has been born again, needs an advocate...Jesus....we will always have this battle in the flesh and in the spirit. Just because a Christian does not commit a sin which is seen in the public eye, does not mean that he is now perfect and no longer needs to confess that sin which seems to haggle him. The sin may
be as subtle as doubt, cursing the rude driver on the road, overlooking a need etc. We can't judge the homosexual; we can't judge the alcoholic, we can't judge the murderer. Only God can judge.
We can walk with these sinners but only God can save them. It is not a sin for us to walk with sinners; Jesus ate and drank with sinners. The homosexual's nature is flawed just as much as the little old lady down the street. Even Christians sin after receiving Christ. If we did not sin, after receiving Him, then we would be perfect. Our realization that we have been forgiven and given eternal life brings us much joy, especially knowing that He did it for us...in our filthy state...in our dirty rags. We are washed in his blood because HE cleansed us, not our trying to be perfect. We are made perfect IN HIM, not in our works after salvation.
Please, when you minister to anyone, remember, they need to have a friend. Like the leper, no one would touch them, Jesus did. The homosexual needs to be touched by God's love, not by a righteous Christian, but by a Christian who sees his own need in other sinners. The homosexual may protest against the word, but they need someone to love them just like Christ loved us while we were yet sinners.
Sinners won't see their need when they are attacked. Sinners would see their need when no one condemns them. Remember, the Holy Spirit can minister to them in their darkest hour. They might not know it, but He is at work. So, minister in love.
First off, I believe in eternal security. So a genuinely saved person does not lose their salvation if they sin after being saved. But I do believe that God will convict them and lead them to repentance. And Christians "cannot sin" in the sense of committing a sin without feeling guilt and remorse over it.
Consider the following two scenarios.
Person #1: Enjoys going out and getting drunk. Sees nothing wrong with doing so. Looks forward to getting drunk at "happy hour" each week and fully intends on continuing to "party" as long as possible. He does not see a need to repent of his drinking because he does not consider it to be a sin. And so he sees no need for forgiveness and a Savior.
Person #2: Knows and has admitted that he is an alcoholic. Has joined AA or some other support group in an effort to stop drinking. Has acknowledged that getting drunk is a sin, has confessed this sin to God, and has trusted in Christ for his salvation. However, he still struggles with drinking, and "falls" and gets drunk on occasion.
On the outside, these two persons are committing the same sin. Both are getting drunk. However, their heart attitudes are completely different. The first person is a defiant, unsaved person. He needs to have the Gospel presented to him, and at some point told "Repent or you shall perish" (Luke 13:3).
The second person is saved, but needs comfort and help in his struggle. This person needs to be told that Jesus is saying to them, "Come to Me, all the ones laboring and having been burdened, and I will give you* rest." (Matt 11:28; ALT).
Just substitute "engaging in homosexual sex" for "getting drunk" in the above two scenarios, and that expresses what I believe to be a proper attitude towards those who engage in homosexual behavior.
I'd like to wish all readers of this newsletter a Blessed New Year!
The picture of yours truly on the Who am I? page has been updated.
Between Bible Versions
Discusses translation principles, Greek text-types, and KJV Onlyism.
Advocates a literal or formal equivalence translation method.
Advocates the use of the Textus Receptus or Majority Greek Text for translating the New Testament.
Over thirty Bible versions are compared and evaluated.
Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Fitness for One and All Web site and FitTips for One and All newsletter.
Helping people to attain their health, fitness, and performance goals.
All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2006 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.