Reverent Responses

Even Satan Believes in Jesus!
Rev. Dr. Jean Orost Responds

[Posted on October 1, 2000]

Dear Phil:

I'm sorry to hear that reading our online magazine has caused you sadness, but I want to share with you some of the joy of our salvation that you, too, can share. Those who work so hard to earn their salvation often do not understand those whose joy is so full. I'd like to address three issues about which you appear to have some confusion: the nature of salvation, the nature of homosexuality, and the nature of wholeness.

I agree with you when you state that we have a Loving God who loves each and every one of us unconditionally. Then, immediately you try to take away that wonderful trait by implying that God's love really is conditional. God's wonderful grace and God's free gift of salvation seem like too much for you to believe. Yet we read "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us," and "We love Him, because he first loved us." Yes, we "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). But the God who created us, in His lovingkindness, offers to give salvation to all who believe.

You seem to have problems about believing. Perhaps a negative and a positive example will help. In James 2:19, the verse you quoted stated that the demons also believe, and shudder or tremble. The reference there is to the concept that God is One. Now for my example, I believe that there was a Hitler who, with the complicity of many others, killed millions of Jews, and I shudder at the thought. This is a belief I share with many people, but I don't take any conscious action based on those ideas. So far, I agree with you and the scripture that even Satan believes that God has great and awesome power, which terrifies him.

Also, you have rightly described belief in Jesus Christ as one step toward salvation. I have a spouse, who I believe in, and I have 5 children, and I believe in each one of them. I trust them and believe that each one of them will grow to be the people God created them to be. When they go astray, and each of my children have done so in one way or another, I do not stop loving them, or believing in them, or trusting God to lead and protect them. And you're right, when we believe in someone, we act like it. I don't ask suspicious questions, I treat them with love and respect, and I don't gossip about them, even when they are obviously doing wrong. Just as God is described in the parable of the Prodigal son, my love continues and holds out no restrictions.

You see, when we believe in Jesus Christ, we do so in our hearts and minds and confess with our mouths (Rom. 10: 9-10). When I fall in love with someone, almost everyone around me can tell that something has changed about me. And when I speak about it, then they know. It's hard to keep a relationship with someone a secret. It's not a concept (belief) but a relationship with our Living Lord that will show up in our actions. You're right about that. But don't forget the role of the Holy Spirit here. It is the Spirit who transforms our hearts and minds, resulting in changed behaviors. For we are no longer our own, but have been swept off our feet by the power of God's love, and our actions will flow from that love. Paul spoke of the Fruit of the Spirit, which will flow as we rest in the perfect provision of salvation. It is not by our own striving that we attain, lest Christ has died in vain.

Now to shift to the subject of homosexuality, it seems that you have included it within the category of sin and made it a reason why salvation will be excluded. Even if it were "a sin", I can't find any example in scripture of any sin, except blaspheming the Holy Spirit, which will not be forgiven, which is not covered by the blood of Christ. Even Abraham, who sold his wife into a harem twice, and slept with his wife's servant girl; and even Rahab, the prostitute, are not excluded from being called righteous (without having to repent or change). They were saved because they took a step of faith based on their belief in God's promises, period.

However, the word and the concept of homosexuality do not appear in the scriptures. The word homosexuality did not even exist until just before 1900. Yes, there are a few verses that speak against certain types of behaviors, just as there are many verses regulating sexual activities between men and women, and between adults and children. But people are not put into categories and then categorically denounced. In fact, Jesus went out of his way to minister to just those people who had been categorically rejected in his day: children, women, Samaritans, disabled, eunuchs, slaves, gentiles. He even healed the boy sex-slave of a gentile centurion without requiring any changes in behavior (Luke 7).

Finally, I'd like to address the topic of your gay friends. It is true that sometimes people are sexually molested during their formative years. Sometimes this can be disastrous to a person's sense of self and wellbeing. I'm sure you know that one out of four girls and one out of seven boys are sexually abused before they reach adulthood. I would advise any of your friends, gay or straight, to seek counseling to heal these deep wounds.

It is also true, that most young people spend some time experimenting to discover who they are, and not just sexually. If your friends are men, it is likely that they knew pretty early in their lives who they were attracted to, whether they acted on it or not. As for women, research has shown that their sense of sexuality is formed more slowly and tends to be more flexible. Their attractions are not so clearly genital as they are with men, but more relational. Some women do know as youngsters that they are attracted to women and not men, and later they may or may not act on that. Youthful sexual experimentation is common, and by that, people who are trying out different roles can have their "suspicions" confirmed or denied. There are young people who have experimented with all kinds of things. Hopefully, they have learned from those experiences what fits them and what doesn't. The experiences do not "make them gay," any more than acting like a jock makes them an athlete, or acting like a nerd gets them into college.

May the Lord lift up your countenance and give you peace.

Rev. Dr. Jean Orost