This is the third installment in a five-part blog series on how homosexuality can legitimately exist within the confines of Christianity. I believe that as Christians, we are not only called to accept the LGBTQ individuals who cross our paths, but also, in the true form of Jesus, to embrace them. I believe we are to seek and welcome them, both into our hearts and homes with no expectations… no going on record as to their ‘questionable spiritual standing’… no coming at them with judgments disguised as concern… but instead, only with our pure unadulterated love. And through this series, my hope is that by providing a scriptural basis for this kind of love and acceptance, we can all finally feel free to love all people just as Jesus commanded of us.
But before I can get us there, I need to provide some backstory on God’s chosen people, the Israelites, during their exodus out of Egypt.
The children of Israel were held in captivity as slaves for hundreds of years until God sent a man named Moses to rescue them from the oppressive rule of the Pharaoh and lead them to the fertile farmland He promised their forefathers. Seems easy enough, but it wasn’t. Why? Because just as it oftentimes does today, free will and the accompanying sin nature of the people interfered with the perfect plan of God.
The outcome for the Israelites was forty years of wandering through rough wilderness. Forty years that, had their hearts been full of faith and thanksgiving, could have taken just eleven days.
You may be asking yourself, what could have possibly gone wrong that could turn an eleven-day journey into one that took forty years? You might be trying to envision what the same predicament could look like in your own life. You see yourself stepping onto a cruise ship holding a suitcase packed for a seven-day tropical adventure, only to discover once inside that there was no exiting the boat until that baby had made it fully around the world four times. Just crazy, right?!?
For those of you who might be thinking, hogwash, this sort of thing just doesn’t happen… I’m here to tell you, you’re wrong. It can happen to any of us if we’re not aware of the subtle price of entry: putting our faith in the things that can be seen instead of the limitless potential of God.
You see, God had been moving mightily in the lives of the Israelites long before they had even left the land of Egypt. Because the Pharaoh was unwilling to free the people, God was able to perform a great number of signs and wonders that were not only intended to persuade the Pharaoh to contend with Moses’s repeated requests to release the people, but also to display His awesome presence and undeniable power to those, who had up to that point, had no personal experiences with Him.
The children of Israel had heard all the stories that had been passed down through the generations that spoke of a very engaged God, a God who had made a covenant with their forefather, Abraham. They knew that God had intimately known them by name… advised, protected and directed their steps. But over the years, Israel had gotten so consumed by doing life their way, that they stopped calling out to God. They stopped asking for direction and listening for His voice to guide them. And so eventually He stopped speaking to them. For this reason they found themselves in a foreign country, living as slaves, badly beaten and abused.
But when things finally got so unbearable in Egypt that they couldn’t take it anymore, they remembered their God. They called out to Him and God heard and set into action a plan of rescue that included a series of mind-blowing miracles. These supernatural phenomena were intended to serve as abundant proof that He was who they had heard He was… and that He was, despite their own failings, trustworthy and true to deliver on the promise He had given them through their forefather, Abraham hundreds of years prior: the promise of a homeland that possessed goodness beyond their wildest dreams.
But in order to make good on that promise, God had to get His people out of the clutches of a Pharaoh. So, He brought a series of ten plagues on the Egyptian people that made it clear to the Pharaoh that He meant business. But prior to each plague, God told the Pharaoh of what disaster was to come if he didn’t contend. He warned through His servant Moses; if you don’t let my people go, (for example) I will bombard your land with frogs. And when the Pharaoh said oh, but heck no… Behold! Millions of frogs invaded his land. This scenario played out ten separate times. And each time, Moses predicted different outcomes that came to fruition… all evidence (to Israel) of the One very real and powerful God who was fighting for them.
After the plagues, Israel left Egypt whole-heartedly trusting the God who had just saved their badly beaten behinds… thanking Him all the way to the Promised Land. And, they lived happily ever after, right? I mean, after ten rounds of realized predictions, they should have had all the faith they needed to trust God for the journey ahead, wouldn’t you think?
The simple answer is… no. So… God didn’t stop there. He wanted to give them even more proof to fuel their faith: He made His presence visible as they walked; as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire in the sky by night… He provided for them nutritious sustenance everyday that fell, like edible snow, from the sky and their clothes and sandals never wore out. But as if all that just wasn’t enough, as they were leaving Egypt He gave them an experience with Himself so monumental that it should have instantly rendered their trust in Him unshakable: experiencing the impossible made possible.
After the Pharaoh finally allowed Moses to lead the 6,000 men plus women and children out of his land, he had a change of heart and sent an army of men, horses and chariots after them. And when the children of Israel saw them they panicked. In a moment of fear they forgot about all the things they had seen the Lord do to get them out of bondage with the plagues. And they reverted to rebellion saying to Moses, what have you done??? Why have you lead us out of Egypt to die at the hands of Pharaoh’s men??? – Exodus 14:10-14
As if having a thundering army of avengers behind them, Israel had yet another impossible circumstance before them... a Red Sea, which they believed if they kept advancing into, would surely kill them if the army of men didn’t first.
But that was not what happened at all. In one of the most spectacular moments in all of human history, the unthinkable happened. When Moses stretched out his staff over the sea at the Lord’s command, the water parted just long enough to allow His people to pass through, before crashing back down and drowning every one of their enemies.
Yes!!! We have an amazing and awesome God, you’re probably thinking. But how does any of this relate to our series on homosexuality? And how does this story answer the hard questions we Christians often don’t know how to answer related to the LGBTQ community? Like… is it our duty to communicate God’s dissatisfaction of the lifestyle choices of every homosexual we encounter? And if we don’t, are we doing them a grave disservice by not encouraging them to change their ways to save their precious souls?
The short answer, I believe, is no (unless they come to you asking for Godly wisdom and advice). And the reason, my friends, is because just like the children of Israel, who had never had a personal experience with God, the majority of the people who comprise the LGBTQ community haven’t had one (yet) either. And how can we expect anyone to change course without first having that? Especially when scripture seems to support that God doesn’t?
Think about this… God very generously gave His people, not one... not two… but 10 show-stopping and unforgettable experiences with Himself, with every plague, before He ever asked them to follow Him anywhere. Each plague gave them an opportunity to see Him in action… to start to know and trust Him. But more graciously, it allowed them time… much needed time to accept the reality that He was likely leading them into an unknown future. Because after over 400 years in Egypt, He would soon be asking them to leave behind everything they had ever known to follow Him.
Yes, they were living as slaves. But I hope you can agree, my friends, that change is always hard. For this very reason many of us are guilty of staying in jobs we hate for years, decades and even lifetimes, because staying unhappy is always easier than the risk and effort required to make a major change in life.
While we know that God’s way is always a better way to live, I think we need to allow those still in Egypt time. We need to let the Lord reveal the necessity of their change of direction… or their departing from Egypt. And we need to trust God’s timing as this plays out in the lives of all of God’s people, including the LGBTs and Qs.
I can further support this truth with scripture from the book of Hebrews (and Psalms) that speak of the exodus and God’s dissatisfaction with the Israelite’s failings of faith.
“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“1. Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
2. on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”
3. Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 4. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” – Hebrews 3:7-15 ESV
There are four aspects of this scripture that supports the claims of this message.
1. God speaks. If you speak to Him and listen to hear His response, a heavenly word will come! Our God is not just some invisible, intangible, and inaudible essence in the distance. He is with us and can be felt, sensed and heard from… all the things His children require in order to develop a very real relationship with Him. And just as He illuminates the sin in our lives, and moves us to repent, He can be trusted to do the same in the lives of all others… including those in the LBGTQ community.
2. God is patient. He provided ample time and experiences with Himself for the Israelites to change their ways and fully follow Him in faith. The Israelite's time in the wilderness was considered a rebellion because even after 40 years, their hearts were still hardened to Him. For this reason (indicated by the word “therefore”) He was very disappointed and angered by them… and rightfully so. That said, let’s trust God’s timing related to the LGBTQ community.
3. God wants us to be careful when engaging with others. Because the sin of others can create a stumbling block for us… causing us to blindly sin ourselves (by judging the sin of others). On the flip side, we must also be careful not to cause others to stumble with our sin (in the case of with homosexuals, with our judgments), further perpetuating a snowball effect that can drive them further away from finding Jesus (than they were before). Just as Jesus spoke to His disciples, to those who have been given more (wisdom), more is expected. (Luke 12:48) So, as Christians, when we fall into this sin trap, I believe it is even more of an infraction against God than when those who aren’t as far along in their journeys with Him do. That said; let’s stop inadvertently creating a barrier between God and the LGBTQ community by falling victim to sin ourselves.
4. God’s call for us is to encourage everyone, always, because every day is called today!!! My friends, we must remember that the enemy of our souls is a liar! And He is always going to try to get our focus on the sin of others because by doing so that slippery serpent accomplishes two things. First, he causes us to sin against our God by judging others unrighteously (and by not loving as Jesus commanded). And second, when he directs our focus onto the sin of others, we are not able to focus on overcoming our own. Jesus also spoke of this truth when He warned His disciples they should concern themselves with removing the log from of their own eye, before worrying about a splinter in the eye of another. (Matthew 7:3-4)
Dear friends, I know this life is not easy and can be confusing at times. But I want to encourage and commend you today. If you have made it all the way through this blog post it shows me that while you (like me) are nowhere near perfect, you realize that and you are trying. Trying to honor God more fully. Trying to accept those who are not like you more fully. And trying to love everyone… as Jesus commanded us to… fully and sacrificially.
I am here to tell you He is at work in us and through us, brothers and sisters. Sometimes it’s not a fast as we’d like, but let me assure you that you are in the process of being transformed by the hand of God. And whether you’re a person of different nationality, skin color, sexual orientation, gender, transitioning or questioning… scripture says God’s invitation is open to everyone, His plans cannot be thwarted, and He will finish the good work He’s begun in everyone who places their faith, not in this world, but in name of His son… Jesus.
“Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them. And I will love them and reveal myself to each of them.” – John 14:21 NLT
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6 ESV
“I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” – Job 42:2 NKJV
Thank you for joining me for today’s blog and I welcome you to meet me back here next week where I will explain the law (and God’s purpose for it), how Jesus fulfilled it… as well as how justification, salvation and obedience are all at work in the lives of all Christians today.