When God Says Something I Totally Dislike

genericrandomusername asked a question:

I know that homosexuality is a sin. But one thing I’ve learned is that everything labeled “sin” is something God is protecting us from. Like any good father, his rules are there for a good reason. I understand why casual sex, lying, and gluttony are dangerous, but what are the dangers of homosexuality? What is God protecting us from? The reasons I’ve gotten from Christians have were either stupid or totally convoluted. I need to know why I oppose something. Something beyond a weak apologetic.

Hey my dear friend, please allow me the grace to offer just a few challenges to consider from very opposite angles.

– I’ve written about homosexuality before and I no longer talk about it much because everyone starts yelling at each other as loud as dang possible, and the people actually inside the issues get lost in the mix.  Whenever issues get trumped over people, I’m out, because I love people more.

I’ve realized long ago that no one’s actually interested in having a real conversation over this one, and I haven’t had a single rational discussion about it, not once.  It doesn’t matter how polite I am, someone is going to rage-cuss and I’m just too jaded for it now.

I’m not pro or anti anything, I’m just pro-people.  I tend to anger both “sides” with that answer because it’s apparently too soft (sort of like “Give to God’s what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”). But if that makes me a cop-out, I think it’s actually more of a cop-out to reduce a person to his or her sexuality; it’s too simplistic to reduce the abortion issue to a nine-month window of time; I think it’s reductionistic to get angry at the President or to legislate morality on Capitol Hill or to dichotomize people into binary oppositions.

Let’s see it this way. If I’m caught in a current about to head off a waterfall and you throw me a lifesaver, it would be weird if I said, “What color and texture and material is this thing?”  In other words, I need to get saved before I work out the details.  I know the analogy breaks down somewhere (they all do), but the doctrine of faith is prioritized over the doctrine of sexuality.  Both are important, but there’s an order.  If we’re not getting to Jesus first, then who cares what I think about sex?  I can’t put the caboose before the engine.

So I’m done with that.  I’m a simple guy.  My job isn’t to persuade anyone of anything.  I love people like Jesus does, with grace and truth: end of story.

I’m going to leave behind that topic to back up over the larger picture.

– The thing is, if I tried to convince you of why you should believe any particular thing about the Bible, it won’t work that way.  If you or I presume that God has to make a convincing case for His Word, then 1) we’ll keep our arms crossed and never be convinced enough, 2) we can be persuaded right out of it, or 3) we’ll follow Him with begrudging drudgery.

While I absolutely believe there’s a logical rationale behind all of God’s commands, if we don’t believe they’re for our good, then it doesn’t matter how logical they sound: I still won’t believe them.

Adam and Eve had a really strange rule in the Garden.  Don’t eat the fruit off the tree.  Was there any tactical advantage or practical benefit?  Did it somehow profit the human race or create positive energy?  Did the fruit have mystical evil properties?  Maybe.  But it’s more likely that God was saying, You have the entire Garden for you by grace, because I love you. Now please don’t eat the fruit off this one tree, simply because you love me.

That’s it.  No hocus pocus or diagram or flow chart.  No list of seven reasons why it’s a good idea to follow God.  This is called a covenant, in which both parties love each other out of mutual trust instead of functional pragmatism.  It’s for the essence of, not for what it can do.

Here’s what I’m not saying: I’m not saying we don’t ever question God. Believe me, I’ve questioned Him about a billion times at every painful step of faith. I grew up an atheist and I still default to doubt and skepticism very quickly.  Some of God’s commands seem ridiculous at first glance.

But the more I learned about the particulars of the Old Testament (they’re an unfolding narrative and not a prescription) and grasped the idea of God’s commands (they’re not to restrict us, but to show us what’s best and give us abundant life), the more I was able to settle with God one-by-one on what He says.

It’s not that I flip a switch and trust Him overnight; I know some Christians who can do this, and God bless them.  But I’ve eventually found that the heart of God is His love for me, and even His law is about touching upon His heart.  My bias used to be that I distrusted God at every word; now my bias is slowly coming around to trust Him at His Word, and when I obey, it always makes sense later.

There’s also no place I need to look much further than the cross and resurrection.  The Gospel is primarily an invitation into the True Story of the world; without this, then none of His commands matter anyway.  All this will only make sense when we see the man on that tree who died for me, that savior who released me from the grip of sin by conquering its terrible grip.  Without faith in Jesus, then it doesn’t matter what else we believe about what he says.  God rescued His people from the slavery of Egypt before giving them the Ten Commandments. Rescue comes before internal renovation.  I can’t put doctrine ahead of the Gospel, or else we have no doctrine.

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What I’ve Learned About Sundays.


What I’ve learned about Sundays is that everyone mentally agrees with the pastor and has no problem with values like love, peace, joy, and forgiveness. But on the way home, back into the world on our phones and Facebook, that three-point sermon doesn’t work in the heat of the moment. We can amen a sermon on loving others, but rush hour traffic turns us all into demon-possessed pagans. Because we’re human. That’s why every Sunday has to point to the Savior, who didn’t just save us once, but is also the daily grace we need to make it a day at a time. He’s our hope in traffic, in our jobs, with our spouses, with raising children, and choosing better when we most want to explode and give up. He gives us humanity when we least want it.

— J.S.