No Need to Hide (#531)
Wayne and Brad follow up last week's podcast with some further dialog about sexuality, sexual temptations, and how we can let God into that space to bring wholeness to the precious gift of sexuality that he gave us. It's amazing how much sexuality governs our lives and how little we talk about it as part of our spiritual journey. It is often hidden in shame and the lie that no one is struggling with it who really loves God. They discuss whether attraction or even arousal is by definition the lust Jesus talked about in Matthew 5 and if self-gratification is always sinful. But sexual brokenness is rampant and the consequences of misplaced sexual expression so damaging to our own souls as well as those we take advantage of, that we dare not ignore it. But the love of God means we don't have to hide anymore. Finding a gracious space in the Father's heart to discuss our sexual struggles with him as well as with close friends is critical to making any progress against the temptations and religious shame that dominates this arena.
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A very interesting discussion as usual. So many things that were said were questions and comments that I have personally had to come to terms with. As someone who has struggled with same sex attraction for most of my life (and still lives in a heterosexual relationship) the journey that has brought me to where I am today has been anything but easy.
I discovered a group of believers in a program called Living Waters (now called the Journey here in Canada) that were not afraid to talk about sexual struggle. I was part of this program for many years both as a participant and a leader. I discovered a completely different Jesus and He was the non-condemning, patiently embracing, and with there were vulnerable people in this space that allowed me to look at myself, my sexual brokenness in light of the grace of God, and begin to discover a Father than really truly loved me and did not look away because of my struggle with sexual sin. It was in the midst of this space that The Shack came along, and I read He Loves Me, further developing what I was already discovering.
Why is sex such a struggle? I think you touched on it and I thought to add a bit more thought to it.
Sexuality is what defines us first and foremost. When we are born, our sexuality (girl or boy) is the first identifier that is looked for. This defines who we are for the rest of lives.
In Genesis 1:27 is states:
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
From this scripture, I get that our sexuality is important in God’s image bearing here on earth. The expression of male and female together is an expression of God’s own image, a reflection of who He is. If you think about it, what is the enemy really doing? He wants to mar, destroy and distort God’s image. And what better way than to destroy the image expression that is born by male and female. Destroying marriages, destroying gender security, homosexuality that misses half the image, misogyny, abortion, pornography, the list goes on. Everything to destroy the image that reminds him of his own doom and judgement.
In our Living Waters program, I have been in settings of as many as 100 people who have all come with varying degrees of their own sexual brokenness, all to the foot of the cross, in fellowship with one another. I have seen the subject presented and discussed in a place of great freedom and purity, all the while with many still struggling deeply. Personally stories abounded. But it was a safe place. A safe place is not one or two only, but is a place where we step into the light in the presence of Christ with no condemnation. With a recognition that we cannot change ourselves and that it is only Christ that offers us hope, so let us got to Him.
There is no demand for behaviour modification because that can only come through the work of Christ in us and if he desires it to be so. Jesus amazed me by working through one thing at a time, and not all at once, and even now He is still chipping away and shaping and moulding. I am not complete. I am not perfect.
The church of today demands behaviour modification without Christ. While they profess that we need Christ to help us, self reliance runs rampant. You only have to be struggling with same sex attraction to realize how futile it is to change. Today, I have been empowered (and I use that word loosely since I cannot find a better word) to choose to not follow that path even though my mind still struggles with thoughts. But I know that I am not rejected by Christ, and that whatever has brought me to this place and why I struggle with it is not beyond his grace or his purpose. He desires freedom for me and He continues to lead me there in His time, and completion will perhaps only occur when He takes me home.
Phil. 2:13 is one of my favourite scriptures:
For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Thank you for sharing this, God bless you!
Hello Wayne and Brad.
It’s been argued that there was once instance of masturbation in the Bible, Genesis 38, when Onan ‘spilled his seed’ and God killed him. Of course, some scholars and teachers twist this passage to mean masturbation is a sin which leads to death.
I read a letter to a pastor published in a book that was banned from several national Christian bookstore chains, in which he says that on occasion he dresses up in women’s clothing and masturbates. The pastor’s response…it may be the one thing that keeps him sane the rest of the time. He then uses the acronym M.I.S. (masturbation, imagination, sublimation) to describe a method of dealing with sexual temptation.
The internet has made pornography more easily accessible, but I believe the seeds have already been planted in one’s mind when they decide to make that first click. I side with Ron Paul, when he mentioned in one of the presidential debates last go-around, that legalizing heroin doesn’t mean that suddenly everyone is going to try it. I believe the same for pornography. Sexual brokenness isn’t something one just stumbles upon…it is fostered and nurtured in the family unit by sexually broken people, and perpetuated by segments of society. And like you say John, only the work of Christ can fix it.
“Dr. Neufeld, who has helped rehabilitate many teens from their addictions, explains that when you understand the nature of relationships, you see that sexual liberation is a myth, as there is no such thing as sexual freedom. The desire for sexual interaction automatically brings the desire for fusion and union. It’s meant to create an exclusive relationship because this connection involves incredible vulnerability.”
“As Dr. Neufeld puts it, “Sex is ‘super glue’ and is meant to bind two people together.” With greater understanding of the reactions of the brain, science is coming to a very conservative approach towards sex, concurring with the ancient wisdom about creating the right context for sexual relationships.”
The problems with teaching sex ed to teens, is they focus on safe sex, but there is no condom for the human heart.
What teens need during these years, are safe, nurturing relationships with adults who deeply care for them, When the needs of attachment are satiated by the caring adults in their life, the teens are freed from their hunger for connect and closeness, and then there isn’t the drive to seek to fill it, through shallow sexual expressions.
Hi Hannah, I wholeheartedly agree.
Good Podcast. Just for clarification, you said you didn’t know where people got the ‘God does not look on sin’ from. Hab 1:13a – Habakkuk’s second complaint to the Lord says, (NIV) ‘Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.’ Older versions have iniquity instead of evil in this verse. This verse echoes the prophet’s first complaint in verse 3 that God had made him to look at injustice. It is interesting in this book that the emphasis on the sins of the people does not concentrate on their sexual misdemeanours, but instead on injustice, avarice, violence, drunkenness and idolatry. Christians would be be more credible on sexual mores if they paid more attention to other serious sins. However, to our shame as a community our lives are often no different to those around us and in my experience, where believers repress their sexuality and become legalistic and judgemental this often hides the most egregious of sexual sins.
You are quite right that our sexuality is a large part of our identity, not only creationally but also redemptively. In 1 Cor 6:13-15 Paul says, “The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” In my experience, this is just not preached on in churches with the result that our young people do not know why they should abstain from sex outside marriage. Therefore, it is no wonder that with a prohibition that they shouldn’t but with no reason not to, they succumb to the world’s approach to sex. Not only must we talk about sex (in non personal terms) but we must also teach what the New Testament says about it. This isn’t helped by hip pastors re-interpreting Song of Songs as a love manual for today.
Anyway, with that off my chest, keep up the good work.
The fully-developed idea that God cannot tolerate sin, or the presence of sinful people, comes primarily from Anselm in 1098. The second Norman Archbishop of Canterbury, Anselm wrote a book to prove by logic alone (without using any New Testament revelation) that the incarnation and crucifixion were necessary to redeem man to God. He created the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. (It is sad how the church seems to have a desire to hold onto and celebrate the worst doctrines – for example, Augustine, Constantine, Calvin, etc.)
Anselm’s logic was impeccable, but founded on a flawed presupposition of God’s nature. Anselm pictured God in his own culture – as a Viking feudal lord who was bound by law and honor to punish any offense rather than as a father desiring justice through restoration.
Jeremy, I’m sorry if you thought I was being polemical in what I said. I wasn’t. I was responding to Wayne and Brad’s wondering where preachers got the ‘God does not look on sin’ from. Well, it is from the Scriptures (albeit in older versions) and it isn’t being taken out of context. It flows from God’s holiness and his intolerance of injustice, and it emphasises the NT doctrine that the Law was given ‘so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful’ (Rom 7:13). Our modern age seems to dismiss sin too quickly in the light of NT revelation; we shouldn’t follow them in that.
I have never gotten my doctrine from reading Anselm or any other theologian, but I would say that I believe that the vicarious nature of the death of Christ is clearly taught in Scripture. Isa 53 supports the idea of a penal substitute whilst in other parts of the OT the Heb word, avon renders both iniquity and punishment e.g. Gen 4:13; 1 Sam 2:10 and Lev 26:14. Similarly, the Heb word, nasa can mean bear and forgive, illustrating the concept that there is a cost to forgiveness e.g. Gen 4:13; Micah 7:18. In the NT the Lord also alluded to sin as a debt in a parable he taught more than once of the lender who forgave the debtor when it was clear the debt could not be repaid (Matt 18:21-35; Lu 7:36-50). Only the injured party can forgive the injury; only the creditor can forgive the debt. So also with our sin. Our rebellion against God, our transgression of His Law, our resistance to His Spirit; our defiance of His grace, could be forgiven only when He who had been so deeply offended had Himself become the bearer of our sins, when in the person of His Son He had endured what we should have. In the language of the apostle ‘God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.’ He didn’t count our sins against us, but bore them himself so that we might be forgiven. And in that image the twin thoughts of sin’s punishment and forgiveness offered by the injured party bearing the injury Himself complete the OT picture of the shadows of redemption. There is to me no difference or conflict between the beautiful doctrines of sin meriting just punishment and reconciliation to a gracious God who bore my sin ‘in his own body on the tree’.
As for Anselm (or any other theologian), we should not judge him by our standards, but by the standards of his time. After all, he may not be the only one to interpret God through the eyes of his own flawed culture.
And I didn’t get it from Anselm or Habakuk, though they may have influenced the thought. I was taught it from the cross and the mistaken idea that God turned his back on his Son because he can’t bear to look on sin. They had God rejecting us in our sin not redeeming us from it. If God can’t bear to look on sin then the Incarnation could never have happened… Habakuk’s words clearly imply not that God can’t see evil, but that he will not countenance it.
Yes, it’s amazing how many doctrines and interpretations I grew up with in the church that I assumed were always agreed to be straight from Scripture right from the first century onward, yet now I”m learning how much of our doctrines are indebted to uncredited theologians and traditions from the last two millennia for good or ill.
Certainly the popular idea of God needing a pure sacrifice to stand in for us “filthy beings” comes from the 12th century theologian Anselm as Jeremy points out above. This was the first theory of the atonement (among many earlier ones) which postulated the idea that Jesus was a substitute for us. Reformation theologian John Calvin built on Anselm’s Satisfaction Theory to bring us the theory of Penal Substitutionary Atonement based on his background as a lawyer in Geneva.
However, I also see this theme of being “clean for God” as one of the major threads throughout the Old Testament. The “Holiness Code” of Leviticus is the most striking example, but the general idea of being cleansed to be in God’s presence is certainly there. The interpretation and application of this varied though. Some priests taught that it was about ritual purity through sacrifices. Others focused on physical cleanliness through bathing and washing. A number of the prophets insisted that God only looked at our actions on behalf of the poor as being clean/unclean (Isaiah 1:12-20).
You can see much of this in the New Testament as well, but here there is a much greater and clearer confrontation with tradition led by Jesus on the harmful outcomes of “pure-based teachings”. Jesus was known not as the pure unstained one, but as the one who identified with the outcasts and unclean. He was labeled a drunkard, a partier, one who hung out with prostitutes and betrayers of Jewish moral codes. In the end he became one with the the worst of society, executed as a threat to the stability of the political and religious control of the population. By being hung on a “tree” his mission was declared to be cursed by God according to Scripture (Deut. 21:23, quoted by Paul in Gal. 3:13).
God in Christ entered fully into the most outcast of society and experienced the worst of our humanity without flinching or condemning. It is in Jesus that we see a God who is always reaching out for us past the barriers we put up (“no one could love me/them”).
The two theories of the atonement which speak most to me today are the 1st century Moral Exemplar (prominently supported by Peter Abelard in opposition to Ansolm), and the 20th century Last Scapegoat (formulated by René Girard). They are some of the ideas grouped under “non-violent theories of the atonement.” These give us quite a different picture of God than the substitution systems. A God who loves us unconditionally and forgives us without requiring payment (forgiveness and paying debts are mutually exclusive concepts). A God who saves through accepting violence from us rather than dealing out violence against us (or our substitute). We are saved (“healed, made whole”) and transformed into the image of Christ by accepting this unconditional love for who we are created to be, in spite of our failings, which then allows this love to pour through us out into the world around us.
Hi Wayne, can you please elaborate a little more on what you mean by your quote He won’t countenance it?” Do you mean he refuses to look on it? Is that what happened at the cross? Thank you, just trying to understand. 🙂
Hi Tricia, no I didn’t mean he won’t look on it. God can look on sin, if not the Incarnation could never have happened. Jesus came among sinners, even partied with them. So God can look on sin. By countenancing it, I meant looking on it with approval or acceptance. God abhors evil and how it disfigures his creation (us). He can see it, but he doesn’t look on it with favor or acceptance. He wants to rid the world of it.
And I don’t believe God ever forsook his Son on the cross. I deal with this in HE LOVES ME. The Son felt forsaken when he was overrun with our sin and shame, but God was still right there with him. It was a perception problem from the Son, not a forsaking problem on the part of the Father. That’s what Psalm 22 is all about, which Jesus is quoting. In that Psalm David feels forsaken, but also recognizes that it isn’t true, that God never forsakes his own…
Ok, I get it!!! Yea! Thank you Wayne! That helps a lot!
Wish I had more time to comment but I do want to share an interview I saw this week on youtube called “Gay Christian? Willy Torrensin is interviewed by Steve McVey.” It was very touching. Willy shares his story of trying so hard to please God (reading and memorizing lots of scripture, passing out tracts, “saving” people, mission work,…) and being involved in a Christian organization who rejected him when he confessed his sexual struggle. He said this happened to him four times and taught him he could not be transparent with those in the church but found the love and acceptance he longed for in the gay community. Eventually God spoke to Willy very lovingly and clearly and it was God’s love and acceptance that transformed Willy. Very moving!
Thanks Amy for sharing this. Seems that “sin” is across the board the same (ie. my struggle with performing to win Father’s love) is the same as Willy and his story of Father nurturing him has been such a source of encouragement. Blessings, Sue
This is almost exactly what I have thought and believed for years.
Thanks for saying these things… It’s been very encouraging to see that Fathers has been guiding others to the same things.
I really liked what Wayne and Brad shared about our relationship with God being the first and foremost thing and our sexual behavior flows out of it. The idea that our sexual life “gets fixed” in the context of love relationships is elaborated in Nikolai Berdyaev’s (Russian philosopher) book “The Meaning of the Creative Act”.
He would argue that the sexual act in its basic nature is not a thing that unites people but a thing that disunites them. If we are honest with ourselves, even the best sex with the person you love has the aftertaste of “Is this all there is to it?” It promises more than it delivers, if you take my meaning. You can’t help feeling shortchanged.
So Berdyaev would point out that for the sexual act to be “what it promises to be or more than it promises to be” it has to flow out of your union with Sophia (personification of God’s wisdom as a lady). When one is united to Sophia, one can be united with Eve (wife in the world) without the disuniting effect of the sexual act.
In other words, for the person who’s not in union with God sex becomes a point of separation and alienation. It doesn’t deliver – no matter how much you get. For a person who is united with God sex becomes an expression of his union with Sophia, the Higher Love, which is what the Song of Songs seems to prefigure.
It also seems that all the shame and humiliation connected to sex has to do with this “low view” of sex as being merely the gratification of the appetite. If your sex flows out of your union with God, it is sheer poetry, worthy of all the songs in the world. There’s nothing base or profane about it. We are not a bit ashamed of high poetry and this is what the “true sex” is.
Late in commenting here but I wanted to point out a very insightful free ebook with a Christian perspective on sexuality and particularly about masturbation. I know the M-topic is not easily discussed, which is why this book is such a valuable resource. It’s written by James Fowler of Fallbrook, CA, a pastor for over 25 years and author of many books. I have met the man in person and he is thoughtful, very well-informed on theological topics, and also laughs more than anyone I know.
His ebook is a short read and lays out a useful grid for exploring a Christ-centered perspective on our sexuality in general and masturbation in particular. The website is http://www.christinyou.net Here is the link to the PDF: http://christinyou.net/pdfs/Ebook%20Complete%20Master%20Bates%206×9.pdf
With all that I’m learning about development, maturation, and attachment. Things are becoming so much clearer. Like with how do we address the LGBT community. If a person from that group approaches us and asks us what we think the bible says about their life style, it reveals that they have inner conflict about the way they are living. Because if they were truly certain and sure of themselves, they wouldn’t need our approval or validation. My thoughts on answering them, is that I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t share what I believe the bible says about it, because what I believe is irreverent. What matters is what Papa reveals to them. If Papa sees it as brokenness, then He will show them that in a ways that is filled with tenderness and caring.
I realize that, of course would be very frustrating to the person asking the question, because they want a right or wrong answer. They want to be told what is good behavior and what is bad behavior, so that they can be good.
They want to be told what to do and I can’t do that, because I would be robbing them of space for their emergent energy to come forth. I would SEE(Supporting Emergent Energy) listen. It’s the Spirit’s responsibility to guide them through this, and Spirit does a way better job, then I could ever do. What my heart calls me to do, is provide that safe place for them to wrestle and figure out what Papa is whispering to their hearts. By giving them the invitation(delight, warmth and enjoyment) to exist in my presence.
It’s when the person makes the conscious choice that they don’t want to act on their thoughts, feelings and impulses, then we can come alongside and support them with their integrative functioning. As well as giving them that safe place to weep about all the things they can not change.
So the answer lines not in cutting out and removing the gay/lesbian/transgender thoughts, feelings and impulses. It lines in helping them having a relationship with their feelings, thoughts and impulses, integration. And giving them the safe place to sob deeply, because they can’t be a “normal” man or a “normal” woman. Whatever the reason for the attractions, feelings, desires, thoughts and impulses, whether it was trauma or neglect, shallow ways of attaching and etc. They can be transformed by the things they can not change, and or the alarming things that happened to them. They can be whole and healthy. Yes, they aren’t “normal” but what’s so great about being “normal” anyway. Papa loves them, He loves them fully, every part of them, and that’s all that matters.
Here is a list of the 6 virtues of a mature temperament(Integrative functioning):
Limitations & Caring enough to make something work = Sacrifice
Fear of the dragon & Caring about the treasure = Courage
Impulse to react & Caring about impact = Self-Control
Impulses to get even & Caring feelings = Forgiveness
Concern for self & Caring for another = Consideration
Frustration & Caring feelings = Patience
(Info from Neufeld Intensive I: Making sense of kids course)
My response..the practice of homosexuality is a sin, BUT…
1) It is not the unpardonable sin.
2) We are ALL sinners, except on different subjects. Romans 1: 29-31 provides a good list of others sins, along with practicing homosexuality, which unbelievers engage in.
3) Separate the sin from the sinner, by simply loving them as they are.
I wouldn’t say that to a person seeking what the Bible says, unless the Spirit gave me permission. It reveal that they already have a unease with acting on the the feelings, thoughts and impulses, if they are seeking to know what the Bible says.
If a person is confident and sure that their life style is fine, good and etc. And we tell them it’s sin, we are more likely to drive them farther in, instead of drawing them out. Because we would have provoked the counterwill instincts.
I do think we need to speak the truth in love. If they are seeking our thoughts about the inerrent Word of God, truly, we need to be honest. Maybe first, I would ask them why they are asking the question, before or instead of giving them the answer.
I don’t feel I need to defend God from His truth from anyone, even from those unready or unwilling to receive it. It doesn’t mean though, I go around telling everyone to repent or die, just because the Bible says it is true.
If you are not ready to them the truth contained in the Bible about their sin, I agree with you, you shouldn’t tell them. Pray for courage ….there are no second editions of the Bible going to press.
What if, maybe, we have something to learn from LGBT Christians ourselves? What if we cared more about encouraging them in the fruit of the Spirit rather than insisting that they accept the doctrines we grew up with? What if the questions they ask us are at least as important as the answers we want to give them?
What if they, the outcasts from religious society, can be Jesus in our lives (if we let them) in the same way that Jesus claimed we’d find him through encountering the imprisoned, the poor, the hungry and the thirsty?
Maybe if we focused less on intellectual theories like inerrancy and instead looked for Christ in the world, we might find ourselves become less confident that we know everything and become more open to the Spirit opening our eyes in new ways of love and acceptance rather than judgement. Just a thought. I know I’m grateful for my LGBT friends inviting me on that journey from “knowledge” to love (1 Cor 13—knowledge fades, love remains).
(By the way, you’re right: we’re way past the second edition of the Bible translated into English, and translation from foreign languages, distant lands, and ancient contexts automatically contains speculation, interpretation and bias.)
This podcast was about creating a gracious space. Truth alone is not gracious. Love and compassion creates the gracious space in which truth can be shared. Jesus seemed very aware of the moments when truth ahead of love would drive people further from him. His passion was to invite people into truth, not confront them with it at the outset. Affection wins the space where truth won’t damage the “bruised reed”, but offer them a path to life.
Agreed Wayne. Sometimes I use truth as a shield of protection from another’s sin, generally the ones I’m tempted to commit myself. Given the context of Hannah’s post, maybe I was a bit dogmatic, without knowing all the facts, like, is this a real or hypothetical situation, the nature of the relationship, etc. Of course we are free to share as we want, and are able.
I happened to think of Jesus interchange with the rich young ruler, and how he went away sad after Jesus reply to him. We never did find out the end of the story.
I agree we have a lot to learn from those that are different than us. And there is a difference between closed-mindedness and simply lack of exposure. God convicts me of my sins as much as anyone else, in no way do I feel I can use the Bible like I would a gun, because I would have to point it at myself as well. And to incite feelings of anger was not my intention.
Thank you for clarifying again our Father’s involvement at the cross. I have talked with an elder in the church I am in (yes, I work daily to unwind the false teachings of religious obligation to those I care for.) and the stance accepted is based on Jesus comment of being forsaken as being being true both emotionally and spiritually otherwise he is a liar. Guilt runs deep within the ranks and fear of our Father causes a life of failure instead of quiet trust. A life of walking up the steps to the altar but never drawing near to him for fear of punishment holds many captive, but I am determined. It sometimes feels very lonely but am starting to see the fruits of it in the hearts of those who listen.