The First Big Lesson

I’m going to ask you to think for a minute – of the first big lesson God taught you as a Christian. Maybe you became a Christian so long ago you can’t remember, but I’d love to hear from you if you can. Mine was this: Homosexuality is wrong.

Why would God choose to focus on that? Well, before I was a Christian, I was very into Queen – the rock group, for anyone who doesn’t know. By ‘Very into Queen’ I mean in the Queen Fan Club, went to conventions every year etc. In fact, I was so into Queen, it seemed almost criminal to disagree with anything its members said or did.

Freddie Mercury was publicly bisexual, so when a friend told me on the phone one night that homosexuality was wrong, I didn’t want to grasp it. I said: “You tell me where it says in the Bible and I’ll believe you”. I was sincere in this. As a new Christian, I hungered to know more about God, and I knew His Word (the Bible) was true.

“I think it’s in Romans,” she told me, but that wasn’t enough; I wanted to know exactly where.

Still living with my parents at this point, we went and bought a concordance from our local Christian bookshop. (A concordance is like a dictionary; you can look up a particular word or phrase, and it’ll tell you where to find it in the Bible.) I asked Mum to look up “Homosexual”. There are other passages that talk about homosexual behaviour, but for the actual word homosexual, she only found one reference. It was in 1 Corinthians, and it was the phrase: “Wicked homosexual offenders”.

Wicked … homosexual … offenders. I repeated it to myself. Then I thought: Hang on. If that’s what God thinks, then homosexuality really is wrong!

Even in those early days, God was asking me to make a choice: Carry on, as in my old life – putting Freddie Mercury first, or change and put Him first?

If there are any homosexuals reading, please remember this: God loves you. Deeply. But, as one of my friends would regularly say when praying out-loud: “You love us as we are, but You love us too much to leave us as we are, so You choose to change us”.

Very wise words.

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4 thoughts on “The First Big Lesson

  1. So…because one line, taken blatantly out of the context of the culture it was written and poorly translated using a word that did not even have an equivalent at the time of it’s writings (Homosexual was coined in the 19th century). In a book written by Paul, as a letter to a church, which Paul never claimed was inspired by God. God didn’t tell him what to write in those letters, he was interpreting Christianity through the lens of his own experiences and culture.
    (The concept that ALL the books of the Bible, including Paul’s letters to the churches, such as the church in Corinth, were divinely inspired by God was a concept not created until the council of Nicaea in the 4th century.)

    That’s why your going to claim homosexuality is wrong?

    Yeah, that makes sense.

    Are you aware that most Biblical scholars, real scholars who have doctorates and have devoted their entire career to understanding the text of the Bible, have concluded that those verses (among hundreds of others that have nothing to do with homosexuality) need to be interpreted through the understanding of the culture and time that they were written in. As well as understanding that not all of these verses, however much they respect Paul, were divinely inspired.

    There is a very good documentary about this. “Fish Out Of Water” (2009 by Ky Dickens) where the verses that address homosexuality are addressed by respected Biblical scholars and the verses are shown to not be applicable to homosexuality or our current time period.

    Do yourself a favor. Educate yourself. The Bible is far more complex than most Christians understand and they love to pretend that they can just open the Bible and read a verse, without understanding of history or context, and say “this is what God says, this is how this is” when that just isn’t the case.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment. As I read it, 2 things came to mind. You say that Paul never claimed his letter was inspired by God – well, what about when he wrote later (in 2 Timothy 3:16): “All Scripture is God-breathed”?

      And you tell me to do myself a favour and educate myself. To that I would say: Have you thought that Jesus chose ordinary fishermen? When Peter and John were on trial for healing a lame man in Jesus’ name, it says (in Acts 4:13) that those trying them saw their boldness; they saw that they were “unlearned and ignorant men”, and they realised they had been with Jesus. His Spirit had given Peter the words to say.

      It’s interesting that sometimes when people disagree, they tell me what Bible-scholars think, or about a documentary, or an article they’ve read. Can I ask you: Do you know God? Have you felt His love for you personally? Because before I felt that love, I knew nothing. I’d been to church; I’d heard the Bible read and sermons preached, but I knew nothing.

  2. First the point about Paul. Yes, he said that all scripture was God-breathed. However he said that in a letter, a letter which he was writing to someone else which he probably never even considered might someday be a part of that “scripture”. Paul would have been speaking about the old testament books, written by Moses, at that time. Do you honestly think he was arrogant enough to think that his letters to little house churches in Corinth would be considered holy scripture 2000 years later?

    Besides that. If he wrote that, while considering his own words to be scripture, then he’s turned his entire work into a self-aggrandizing story.

    Whether the words were divinely inspired or not, they were clearly interpreted through the eyes of the “unlearned and ignorant” men that wrote them down. Making it all the more important to remember the historical context and world view that they were writing from. Nothing in those books hints at some great understanding of the world over all, certainly nothing that would make me believe than an all-powerful being gave them the words. So, if it was divinely inspired, I’m pretty sure it lost something in translation.

    Your experiences with God and my experiences with God are irrelevant to this conversation. I will say that I grew up in the church, didn’t see a whole lot of love there…mostly because people were so busy using the Bible to justify their judgmental behavior towards people they didn’t like.
    All because they weren’t reading the Bible the way it was meant to be read. They were twisting scripture to fit their purpose instead of actually reading what the book said.

    History and context is important, whether the book is a religious text or not. It’s so important because of all the times it’s been translated and had words added* and books have been added and subtracted from the Bible to decide what shape Christianity would take. Men were killed, blood flowed in the streets over disagreements at the Council of Nicaea. They couldn’t decide which books were truly scripture and which were apocryphal. History is important. The books in your Bible are only a fraction of the books that were originally written, many were destroyed by the council.

    *(like “homosexual” which there was no equivalent word for in Greek or Hebrew as I mentioned before. The word used in that 1 Corinthians passage “Arsenokoites” is a very difficult word that certain people interpreted as meaning homosexual, but there is no proof that is actually what it referred too…at least not in the context of loving relatioships. It very well could have referred to male temple prostitutes or any number of other immoral activities that were taking place in Rome at the time. Historical context remember.)

    • My experiences and relationship with God are never irrelevant, because they’ve shaped who I am. I don’t think yours are irrelevant to the conversation either, because I think they’re shaping what you’re saying. If you haven’t felt loved by the church – by us who should be showing you what God is like, then I guess you are going to be critical of us and of what we believe. But I approved your comments because people are very important to me, and I think you have every right to express your point-of-view, whether I agree with it or not. I’m sorry if we, as church, haven’t shown you the love that we should have, but love doesn’t mean accepting everything that everyone says and does without question. When I was little, my mum used to say to me: “I’ll always love you, but I won’t always like what you do”. I don’t know whether this is the case with the church you grew up in, because I don’t know you and your situation, but have you perhaps come across them not liking what you were doing, and thought that actually they didn’t love you? I have some wonderful Christian friends, and when they’ve pulled me up on my wrong attitudes in the past, I’ve felt defensive, but they were only challenging me for my good.

      And just a little bit about arrogance, because I was interested in what you said: Do you think, then, that everyone who says God has inspired or helped them is arrogant? I’ll give you an example. I couldn’t write songs before I was a Christian. I even listened to a radio-series on song-writing, but I still couldn’t do it. I could write words to somebody else’s tune, or put a tune to a set of lyrics, but never both. When somebody prayed for me though, I wrote my first song 3 days later. So now, every time I go into a room, stand at a microphone and sing the songs I write, thanking God for the gift He’s given me, am I arrogant? I actually don’t think it’s arrogant to say your words have been inspired by God; I think it’s attractive, because what you’re actually saying is: “These words would be nothing if they were just written by me, but God is in them, and He’s made something of them”.

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