The Big Lie!

old new clothes

Yesterday afternoon I was at the Opening Session for our Tribe’s thing called “Annual Conference”.  It was my 43rd consecutive Conference.  For “outsiders”, Annual Conference is this thing that when all is said and done, more is said than done.  Bishop Sharma Lewis preached for our opening Worship, and normally I would have considered it a great and powerful message.  She chose the passage from Colossians 3, verse 12 and it was about putting on the new clothes of love and she presented us with a great question:  What are you wearing?

Normally, I know there’s nothing normal about me in many folks eyes, but that’s their problem, I would have really been inspired by the message.  I mean, what’s better than wearing the new clothes of love.  Or, as The Message puts it:

Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. 

But this crisis that the United Methodist Tribe is facing, has caused me to have this deep-seated thought that Bishop Lewis was only telling half of the story–literally a half-truth.  And a half-truth is at its root and core, a lie!  As I was talking to God about this “disappointment” in my heart, it hit me.  She, like so many in our culture today, didn’t talk about the first part of Paul’s letter.  Yes, be clothed in God’s love–after all, it’s His personal label.  But….

But these new clothes don’t fit or look well as long as you keep wearing the “old” clothes underneath them.  He starts off in Verses 1-2

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.

It’s one of the few things I remember from my cemetery, excuse me, seminary days–that a text without its context is only a pretext.  Bishop Lewis never mentioned verses 1 and 2.  And there’s more to the context, and it’s summed up in verse 5

And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.

Our Tribe is being asked to change our church polity and order to accommodate what is now called “Progressive” theology.  We are being asked to give up the traditional view of human sexuality in order to not only accommodate our culture–but here’s the BIG LIE–but because of God’s love, it’s OK to be “gay”.  Progressive theology on human sexuality says that God created some people “gay”, ergo, it’s no longer a sin.  Just wear love!

Yet how can anyone put on God’s love, wear these perfectly fitting clothes, IF we continue to wearing the old clothes?  The truth is, the painful truth is, you can’t!  In the south we would say it like this, and for you poor unfortunate souls who aren’t in the south, I will help translate this for you:  Put a silk dress on a sow (NOUN: a female pig) and she’s still a sow, and she’ll get that silk dress muddy.  And we cannot wear God’s New Designer Label of Love until we get rid of the old clothes of sin.

I say this not from the “high ground” of being morally superior to others, but from the “low ground” of realizing that I still have sin in me.  I admit that I’m broken and am always turning back to God to help put shed off the old clothes so that I can be fitted with the right clothes.  Those who insist that sexuality outside of the husband (man) and wife (woman), in other words, being “gay”, is their identity.  There is no offer of personal transformation into the identity that has nothing to do with sex–but everything to do with The Creator.

Progressives offer no hope for a new identity–just put on the new clothes of love without ever taking off the old clothes of, as The Message puts it, “doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.”  I am wondering now, could it be that the suicide rate is above average in the LBGTQI community, especially among teens who feel or believe they are gay, because they are not offered Hope–hope for not just a new identity–but their TRUE identity.  A person’s true identity is found in their relationship with God–NOT with whom they are having sex.

And my heart breaks for the LBGTQI community because they have been told to believe that there is no way to shed their old clothes for the new designer clothes.  As long as we try to wear the Divine Designer Clothes of Love OVER the old clothes doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy you will never be able to wear them as they are designed.

I’m not saying homosexuality is the worst sin.  And it certainly isn’t the only thing that can be called an abomination.  Proverbs 6:16-19 (NLT) describes those things this way:

17 There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.

One time I was asked, “Bro. Randy, what do you think is the worst sin?  Rejecting Jesus?”  I think my response shocked her.  I said, “No, even that’s not the worst sin.  I believe that the worst sin is the one that makes God want to vomit–and that is being lukewarm (Revelation 3:16).  No other condition, no other sin that I can find in the Bible makes God want to puke.  I just noticed something–3:16.  One 3:16 tells us we can have eternal life (John 3:16).  This other 3:16 says we make God want to puke, and thus, be eternally separated from Him.

I am smart enough, wise enough, and humble enough to know that I still have times when I try to wear God’s Designer Jeans over my filthy yard clothes.  They don’t fit, they don’t look good because that’s not the way these “Designer Jeans” are “DESIGNED” to be worn.  We have to put off the old in order to wear the new.  So I pray, pray hard first for me to be sure I’m not trying to wear the new over the old.  Second, I pray hard for the LBGTQI community to stop believing the Great Lie.  And third, I pray for those who are deceiving the LBGTQI community WITH the Great Lie.

Before new life happens–before we can experience the Resurrection Life–there are things that need to, MUST die in all of us.  Otherwise, we’re just an old sow wearing a silk dress.  That’s not how this works!

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11 thoughts on “The Big Lie!

  1. Heart breaking.

    I am not Methodist, never have been, and don’t come from that Spiritual DNA line at all. Nevertheless, if I wasn’t what I am, Methodist is what I would have wished. The heritage, even to this outsider, is strong and has given us much to rely on as Christians.

    I am sad at the “progressive” nature of things.

    Gay.

    I don’t think there is a way to say what needs to be said about this and it not hurt, offend, mislead. Such is the nature of the discourse these days.

    I want to be clear, but I fear that will not be the case. Nevertheless, let me try.

    I believe God loves gays. I believe he wants gays in our church. I believe that some people dealing with gay inclinations were called Saints among the Corinthians by St Paul the Apostle. But I do not believe God, Paul, or the original church ever endorsed that kind of sex.

    It is one thing to struggle with/against such feelings and another to endorse the practice. And this is true of really any sin. I struggle with sin in my life, but I dare not endorse it just because I FEEL like committing it, no matter how central the feeling might be.

    I even think it is possible that many people (definitely not all) are born with such inclinations, and I shudder to imagine their struggle. I would not want to kick such a person when they fail or shame them for falling into its clutches. I hope I will be a source of friendship and help in such instances. And I hope I learn to do better at it as I grow.

    And for me, I find the answer to this not so much in the denouncements or prohibitions as in image bearing theology. God created humans to bear his image and thus rule the world. He created them male and female to bear his image.

    This does not mean that a man missing an arm cannot bear the image. It does not mean that just any and all heterosexuals bear the image, and in fact I would suggest that we all fall short of the Glory of God – especially here. My divorce has forever tarnished my image bearing capacity, I think. But that has not changed the standard, the MARK at which the aim is made.

    Thanx for spelling this out. I sense rather strongly that the tide has already changed across the scope of Christendom. Those of us who resist are the new outsiders, the new minority. And even those of us who resist gracefully are so easily abused by the majority and lumped in with Rev. Phelps and his Westboro Baptist crusaders who so passionately, vocally, and vehemently pronounce that “God hates fags”. This means we live between big lies and the lies are storming all around us.

    I think it is ironic that the word “Gay” got hijacked. My grandpa was a gay man, but he was not queer. I find this ironic because when he claimed to be gay he meant he was happy. But by far most of the gays I know today are deeply unhappy people. (Actually, so are most of the straights too, but they aren’t using the word to describe themselves… thus the irony.)

    Thanx for the post. I hope it proves to bless, but I haven’t figured out how to do that with these thoughts. But our world surely needs the blessing somehow.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow Agent X! Very well said and am in agreement with your thoughts. You’re right, being “gay” is not a reason to exclude from being in a church. The keys are:
      1. Confess–that is like you and I, admit we are sinners
      2. Repent–turn away from sin towards God, then stop doing that sin. In the case of divorce, in the eyes of some the Image may be tarnished, but not in God’s eyes
      3. Follow–follow Jesus and listen to the Holy Spirit.

      Like

  2. I am very sorry to hear that your tribe is succumbing to this pernicious lie.

    Personally, I think that the worst sin is to call what God has clearly called sin, “not-sin”. How can one repent of, and BE FORGIVEN FOR, “not-sin”?

    Homosexuals are no more outside of God’s grace than the rest of us. Unless, of course, His grace is rejected. To create a lie that basically tells people, “this is not sin, therefore you need not repent of it” is itself an agregious sin. Jesus has strong words for those who would lead His children astray!

    And to cloak it in terms of “love”…I’m sorry, but that’s not at all loving. Love COVERS a multitude of sins but it does not pretend that the sin itself does not exist.

    Sin simply cannot be “loved” away; it can only be put to death, nailed to the Cross and crucified with the Saviour.

    To be a homosexual and a Christian is really no different than to be straight and Christian. We all have our sins to struggle with – we were ALL “born this way”.

    I know exactly ONE gay Christian. She chooses to be celibate and I admire her for her choice. I don’t know that I would have the same strength of character to resist the temptation to love and be loved by another. That’s such a primal instinct, one that we all have, and I have nothing but compassion for those who are unable to resist it. I seriously doubt that I would be able to make a lifelong commitment to living my whole without a love partner. So I have a hard time condemning those who, in weakness, succumb to temptation. I would be no better.

    But I would not lie to them. Love demands that we tell the truth that we are ALL fallen and our fallen-ness takes on miriad different forms. I can’t pretend to know what it’s like to be gay, but I sure know what it’s like to be a sinner! And we can walk together in that truth – “Your sins are forgiven”.

    Jesus didn’t just give us a new set of clothes to wear over the old ones, He TOOK our filthy rags upon Himself and EXCHANGED them for His own robes of purest white. Christ’s righteousness has become OUR righteousness and therefore we need not fear when we soil our own clothes, for we have BETTER clothes, the umblemished robes of Christ, whose righteousness we wear as our own.

    Unless, of course, we refuse them, insisting that our own clothes are fine, thank you very much.

    Like the Emperor who was lied to and told that he was wearing the finest of clothes, your tribe wants to send sinners to stand in judgement before the Lord FULLY NAKED AND EXPOSED. And who do you think the Lord will hold responsible? The one who believed the lie, or the one who told it? I suspect God will reserve harsher judgement for the one who knew better but lied to spare the Emperor’s feelings.

    To be honest, I can’t think of a more UNloving thing to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Randy, I have always appreciated that you call out the issues of the day. I have a friend in your “tribe” in Virginia who is fed up and looking to affiliate with another denomination. For the reasons you have mentioned, I abhor committees and “big government” church because toilet paper can’t be purchased without people “praying about it”, discussing it for 5 years, and then doing something about it after the church lost 150 people because of the toilet paper split. My previous denominational affiliation recently had a major issue come up. Its convention is coming up soon, and I’m praying that it will become less political and a lot more Christ-centered. Pardon the sermon, but you got a fire going in me on this Monday afternoon.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful and well said, Pastor Randy. My kids used to do this thing where they would just lay a paper towel over a mess and call it good. It used to make me laugh, because you haven’t actually cleaned up anything. It might even be worse to just shove things in the sofa cushions, rather than just leaving the mess in plain sight. That’s kind of what our march towards a wishy washy faith feels like to me. It’s a big lie.

    .

    Liked by 2 people

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