Tag Archives: homosexuality

The Trouble with Ted Haggard

I don’t know Ted Haggard. I know about him, at least what I’ve read and heard about him, which is not good. Haggard, a nationally recognized pastor, lost his pastorate after it was revealed that he was using illegal drugs while also participating in a homosexual affair.

This was heartbreaking and destructive enough. What troubles me even more, however, is the unnoticed root that nourished these more obvious destructive behaviors: hiddenness.

I’m not sure anyone really knew or knows Ted Haggard–not his colleagues, not his ex-congregation, not his wife, maybe even not Ted himself. This distance from others, this invisibility from himself created an alternate universe in which he could live disconnected from what he told himself and others he believed and lived for.

Unfortunately Haggard is not the first nor the last who will struggle with a self imposed and self deceiving hiddenness.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

2 Chronicles 6:12-8:10

Romans 7:14-8:8

Psalm 18:1-15

Proverbs 19:24-25

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

We all wear masks. We all play roles and have secrets. This is part of the human condition. The danger comes when our masks grow permanently attached to our faces and we no longer recognize ourselves in the mirror, or when we award ourselves the Oscar for a role deceptively played.

I believe this was (is) at the heart of the Haggard ordeal. He compartmentalized himself and no one, except God, knew the real Ted. I don’t mean that only in the negative sense. It’s like being trapped too long in one of those halls of mirrors at an amusement park. Soon you can’t discern the real you. Am I the angry one? The sad one? The kind one? The evil one? You turn circles frantically. You lose yourself. You fall to the floor exhausted. You need help.

In that moment you need someone who knows you intimately, someone with a foundation in reality, someone who can take you by the hand and lead you out to truth.

Facing the possibility of losing himself Paul cries out, “I do not do the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep doing. . . . Who will rescue me?”

Notice how public Paul is about his continual failure. He knows how dangerous it is believe your own good and bad press. He knows it is not enough to admit our faults secretly to ourselves or ostensibly to God alone. Paul is honest with himself, his trusted friends in his faith community, and with his God. All three points of contact bring focused truth and freedom into our lives. This authenticity is the antidote to our destructive tendency toward hiddenness.

I know I lean toward that dark and deadly hiddenness I believe Ted Haggard fell into. And I believe with all my heart that when you and I and Ted Haggard let God and those he calls to walk our night roads with us into those dark places, the light of truth comes on and we can discover that, though we are good and evil all wrapped together, there is rescue and redemption in Christ.

  1. How does the Ted Haggard story make you feel?
  2. Which reading spoke most clearly to you?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

17 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Is Homosexuality the Unforgivable Sin? (Warning: You May Not Like this Blog Entry)

A small group of people in Topeka, Kansas have become infamous for their hate of homosexuals. They call themselves a church but consist mainly of the members of the founder’s family (I am torn here between naming the offenders to expose them and not naming them so as to not give them more publicity. I chose the latter.) These misguided, twisted sinners* travel the country and protest all things homosexual by holding up signs reading, “God Hates Fags,” and screaming vile slogans.

Romans 1:18-32 is one of the biblical passages they use to justify their hate. After reading  it myself, I wonder: if they feel these verses give them permission to protest homosexuality, why don’t they also attend church prayer meetings with signs reading, “God Hates Gossips,” or protest outside of their own meeting hall with signs saying, “God Hates Slanderers,” and “God Hates the Heartless and the Senseless”?

If I haven’t made you too angry or nervous, read on and ask with me, “Is homosexuality the unforgivable sin?”

(*Note: I too am a misguided, twisted sinner in need of God’s undeserving mercy.)

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING(click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36

Romans 1:18-32

Psalm 10:1-15

Proverbs 19:6-7

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Chronicles 15:1-16:36: When we last saw David, he was angry with God over (1 Chron. 14:11) the death of Uzzah. It seems David has reconsidered and has actually asked God about the ark and it’s treatment. David shows once again he is a “man after God’s own heart” by repenting of his actions and learning from his mistakes. Yet he still exhibits very human behavior in that he seems to blame the  Levites for “not bringing it up the first time.” I wonder if this is the first time the phrase “ignorance of the Law is no excuse.”

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Still with me? I hope so.

“Hate” is a strong word and in humans an even stronger emotion. The word “hate” occurs about 128 times in the English Bible, and only a dozen or so times in reference to God hating (The word “love” crops up nearly 700 times). And most often “hate” doesn’t describe an emotion but rather an enemy. The sense is that God generally “hates” things that are destructive to us humans, but not an emotion God feels toward humans. God views them as our enemies. The list of destructive actions God hates includes “robbery and iniquity,” “wrong doing,” “violence,” “idol worship,” and “religious feasts.”   Proverb 6:16-19 says,

“There are six things the Lord hates,
seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,

a false witness who pours out lies
and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”

In short, because God loves us so much, God hates sin, which means any minor or major human action that hurts or destroys us spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, socially, or physically. We could spend 24/7 protesting such things and not exhaust the list.

And God seems to hate all of this self–and others–destructive behavior equally. No one enemy to humanity rises above the other.

Jesus equates anger with murder and declares calling someone a fool an eternally punishable offense (Mtt. 5:22). This confuses us because, to us, there are obviously sins worse than others. But Jesus is simply pointing out that anger eventually kills a relationship and possibly even a life, though in a less drastic way than murder. The destruction of the relationship and life are what seem to matter to God not the severity of the destruction. The earth-bound consequences differ, but both kill.

God views homosexuality and idol worship through the same loving eyes. To God worshiping a tree, money, success, or a god that does not exist is as “unnatural” (something we were not created to do) and soul-destroying as is misuse of the great gift of our sexuality. One is a fatal misunderstanding of who God is and the other a misunderstanding of who we are. Both may be love misapplied.

Is homosexuality an unforgivable sin? Some seem to act so. But Scripture, and God’s nature, belie that view.

  1. Do these readings connect in any way?
  2. If so, in what way?
  3. What enemies of God do you still harbor in your heart and life?

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

DOES FACEBOOK BEST DEFINE FRIENDSHIPS?

Facebook states the average user has 130 Facebook friends.  I know people who boast of more than 1000 friends on the social networking site.  Some people challenge each other to see who can “friend” the most people. Quantity often trumps quality.

I enjoy and utilize Facebook. Through it I have engaged in theological conversations with people as far away from my native Colorado as Australia. Reconnecting with long lost friends has been rewarding. And social networking sites allow us to keep up-to-date and communicate with many people we would not otherwise be able to.  A Daily Bible Conversation is just such a site.

To name each of the 493 people listed on my Facebook page as friends, however, stretches the definition of friendship out of recognition. Many of them are acquaintances or contacts at best. Can anyone really be friends with 1000 people or even 130?  I suppose it depends on your definition of friendship.

In today’s reading we see that Jonathan and David’s definition of friendship may challenge many of our modern assumptions about relationships.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

1 Samuel 20-21:15

John 9:1-41

Psalm 113:1-114:8

Proverbs 15:15-17

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

1 Samuel 20-21:15: We catch a candid glimpse of the life of the court of Israel’s first king. Saul is grooming Jonathan as heir apparent and has given him much authority. But everyone, including Jonathan, knows that God has decreed the crown will go to David. The tension and intrigue are high. David must hide from a murderous Saul, who is hiding his hatred for David from Jonathan. The issue comes to a head at the New Moon Festival which was a festival the first of each month celebrating God’s constant provision. Jonathan and David meet secretly so that David will not be killed and Jonathan cannot be accused of treason by his father.

Knowing how common it was for those aspiring to a throne to kill anyone who may be in the way, it is remarkable that Jonathan does not betray and kill his friend. Rather he preserves his life and ensures he will not inherit the throne.

John 9:1-41: The religious leaders of Jesus’ day rightly see him as a threat to their power. And he is, though not through Jesus wresting their power from them but rather by transforming what it meant to walk with God. Once again Jesus heals on the Sabbath. This is not coincidence. The Sabbath laws were fiercely debated and enforced. Jesus consistently chose to heal on the Sabbath and “disobey” their pet law to prove who he was and to provoke them. Though Jesus was not political in the way we view it today, he did spend a great deal of time and energy working against established religion. This angered the religious leaders.

Today many Christians are tireless in their critique of governments and political parties they view as wrong. I do not necessarily disagree with this. But following Jesus, I believe, also calls us to evaluate and reform the religious establishment in areas it has lost sight of Jesus‘ mission and where it is as confused and oppressive as any government is and as the Pharisees of old were.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Jonathan and David would have scoffed at what many of us today define as friendship, especially the Facebook kind. We shouldn’t castigate ourselves, however. Because we can learn from them. What made their friendship so exceptional?

Close friends often share common interests.  More than that, David and Jonathan shared a deep, living faith in God. They made at least three covenants to one another that they based on their common Hebrew faith.

This covenant also shows they were both intentional about their friendship. They did not just meet in a bar and “hang out.” They chose to walk with one another through some very difficult times.

Giving not taking was foundational. Both were willing to give up their promised future crowns for one another. Jonathan gave up his relationship with his father. David refused to fight back against Saul and gave up his safety for Jonathan.

They were incredibly loyal to one another. Jonathan kept his promise even though his father threatened to kill him. And David kept his promise to Jonathan’s family long after Jonathan’s death.

They shared their passions and emotions, and even affection.

They were not utilitarian. They did not use one another. Each loved the other as he loved himself.

Several hundred years later Jesus would say this trait–loving others as oneself–was second only to loving God.

In the end what made their friendship uncommon was that they held their relationship sacred. They knew it was from God, holy, living, life-sustaining, worth sacrificing career, standing, and fame for. They weren’t “just” friends.

According to a 2004 Gallup article the average American has nine “close friends.” I probably could count that many myself. But as I look at what these two ancient warriors had, I have some work to do in order to have many of those go as deep as did Jonathan and David.

  1. How do you define friendship?
  2. How many close friends do you have?
  3. Is there anyone in your life with whom you have a friendship similar to Jonathan and David’s?
  4. What issues/practices in modern religious life do you believe Jesus would make a point of resisting

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized