Reverent Responses

I Cannot Overlook Your Sin!
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost Responds

[Posted on March 21, 2001]

Dear Lisa:

I can tell from your letter that you are not a stranger to Whosoever. Considering all of the websites available in cyberspace, your attention to the concerns of homosexuals makes me wonder just what you want from us. You seem to be both supportive and critical, as if you can't quite resolve some issues. I hope that we can help and pray that God will reveal His truth to you.

First, let's talk about the Bible. You state "the Bible does tell us that homosexuality is wrong." I'm sure that you will not find that the Bible tells us anything about homosexuality at all, since the word was not invented till about a hundred years ago, and the concept of lifelong loving committed relationships with those of the same sex was an unidentified concept in Bible times. Yes, the Bible does talk about some specific behaviors, mostly referring to idolatry or to abuse, which God condemns. The laws of the god of love are summed up in just two: Love the Lord your God with all of your hearts, and love your neighbor as yourself. Thus, all the other laws flow from those two. All behaviors which do not honor God or in which people do not treat one another with respect are abominable to the God of Love. When we spend so much time nit picking about others or preaching expository sermons against God's children, that is sin.

In the Bible, in Levitcus 20, in addition to the phrase about men lying with men, there are many other examples that one does not hear mentioned. These include seeing your sister naked, marrying a brother's wife, having sex with a menstruating woman, etc. When was the last time you heard sermons preached against them, or fundraising campaigns to wipe such sin from our land. I tell you, there is more of the customs of our land in our churches than we would like to admit. There was a time when the Bible was used to justify removing the babies from a woman who had used any medications during labor to lessen her pain. Women have been severely abused and sent back to their abuser (and sometimes to their deaths) by pastors who told them the bible said they must submit in all things to their husbands. Slavery was once justified with Bible verses, as well as child abuse. Divorced people were treated as pariahs in my youth and were not allowed any positions in their churches. Illegitimate children were denied their rights in both civil and religious spheres based on the Bible. I'm writing all this not to confuse you, or your issues, but to encourage you to tread lightly in this arena.

A second area of your letter that concerns me, is your denial of the legitimacy of your emotions. Many evangelical churches elevate a Pseudo-rationality, teaching people to deny their legitimate feelings. Just as God gave us our marvelously complex bodies in which to live, building in pain mechanisms to tell us when something is awry, so, too, He gave us emotions. I encourage you to learn to trust your God-given feelings. They have been given you for a reason, though it may take you some time to learn to understand their language. Some church leaders have perpetrated grave injustices when people were told to ignore or deny their feelings (read Toxic Faith or Spiritual Abuse). Later, such victims will say, "I felt that there was something wrong, but the leaders told me…" There are some good Christian books on the market about learning to listen to our feelings and to discover the real needs underlying them. Then, there are life and love affirming ways of meeting those needs which honor God, ourselves, and others. Staying in community with those further along the path helps, too.

For example, if you have fallen in love, don't try to explain it away with, "it's just because you didn't get enough love from your parents," or "you were abused as a child, and now you are compensating." If you have received the gift of love, welcome it as a gift from the God of Love. If it is not leading you toward greater love for yourself, the other person, and God, ask God to reveal that to you and lead you. Don't accept someone else's diagnosis if it does not resonate with your own feelings. If the true definition of sin is separation from God, I encourage you to stay close to God as you try to work through what is, and what is not sin. John said, "in whatever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things" (I John 3: 20). God will show you the way.

So, Lisa, I am sorry that the Christian life seems to be such a struggle for you. It is my prayer that you, too, will enjoy the freedom that comes from knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and stand forth therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. If we are abiding in the vine, we should not have to work so hard. The "lifeblood" of Jesus, flowing through our spirits, should flow as freely as the blood in our veins, constantly renewing and being renewed. That is my prayer for you.

In Christ's love and peace,

Rev. Dr. Jean Orost