I think the thing I miss most is being able to just talk to you. I often want to ask your advice but even more than that, I miss being able to debate things with you. You always loved to talk, usually deep into the night, often heatedly. You never shied away from issues and you were good at debating because you listened as well as argued.
You were also not afraid to change your view. I remember as a very young child when you thought all dancing was wrong, lead to temptations, was ‘worldly’. Then, when you were at Theological college, you were asked to play the music at a Barn Dance. You were shocked! I still remember you coming home afterwards, completely surprised and admitting, “It didn’t seem evil at all. It was actually rather fun.”
You changed a lot when you were studying at college. You were never afraid to stand up for what you believed, even if you were standing alone. But nor were you afraid to modify those views if you realised they were wrong. You had a good brain and you used it, you didn’t think that being a christian meant that you kissed your intelligence goodbye. You taught us to think, to listen, to read the Bible and to pray. Your views were always consistent with what the Bible taught but you also told us to read it wisely, not to pick out random texts that would support our own arguments but to read it honestly, to seek out what God wanted us to learn from the writing.
And so I want to talk to you now Dad. I want to talk to you about what God thinks about homosexuality and I so wish you could answer and join in the debate. But I can’t hear you anymore, so I’ll just explain where I’m at and maybe that will still help to clarify things a bit, to sort out a few loose threads and help me to hear a bit better what God wants to say.
It’s an odd topic for me to be battling with. More than anything else I want to see the church, the body of Christ, behaving more as one, being more unified. I want us to stop thinking about belonging to the ‘Baptist Chapel’ or ‘St. Peter’s’ and to start seeing ourselves as one church, with one head, moving in the same direction and all working together. So it seems strange that an issue which proves to be so divisive should be the one that I cannot stop thinking about. Perhaps it is important to get it sorted.
It also seems strange because it is not something that really affects me personally. None of my close family or friends are homosexual, so it should not feel personal – but it does. That’s why I am writing this as a letter rather than an article. This does not feel like an intellectual debate, this feels like something deeply important which I need to discuss.
It is only fairly recently that I have given it much thought. Growing up, our church taught that homosexuality was a sin and I thought no more about it. I don’t remember you ever really talking about it other than once, when a lecturer at your college was found to be gay and left. You respected this man’s teaching so I know you were surprised and disappointed. You were, I think, uncomfortable with effeminate men.
Homosexuality was discussed again as part of a sermon when we lived in the US. I remember the pastor preaching from the bit in Romans that lists a whole lot of sins. He made the point that Paul began by listing things that the Jewish people would find repulsive, like homosexuality, and then moved on to things that they were doing, like gossiping. His point was that we like to make homosexuality the ‘worst’ sin whereas actually God sees all wrong doing as sin, we are all guilty, even if we ‘only’ gossip. I talked about this with you and you agreed, saying that you did not think the church should be rejecting people who were homosexual but rather accepting them and helping them to change. You didn’t see it as ‘the worst’ sin, all sin is sin.
So, for a while, I guess this was my view too. I saw homosexual practice as wrong but believed we had no right to reject the people and should still be welcoming them into the church.
Then in the UK we had a big debate in parliament about whether the law should be changed to allow same sex marriage. A lot of people felt very strongly about this. The church felt that marriage was an institution set up by the church, a religious ritual, and that gay people, while being given equal rights in law, had no cause to force the church to change a basic belief, that marriage was a state for a man and a woman.
I remember walking through London one day and passing a big church. Outside was a huge sign which read “God created them man and woman. Marriage is for one woman and one man.” I stopped dead. I was, to be honest, a bit shocked. This was the only sign outside the church. If I had been gay, that church is the last building I would ever willingly have entered, that had to be wrong. Did we have the right to be so judging, so rejecting, of anyone?
So I started to think about this issue more seriously. What did the Bible actually say? It keeps nagging at me, for no apparent reason, I really want to sort this out. Now, you taught us that the Bible is the word of God, it is given to us so that we can better know God’s will for us, how to live. I recall you used to say, “Refer to the maker’s instructions.” (As an aside, if you were reading this, I would point out that if ever you really had something which came with instructions you always tried to figure it out yourself first and only looked at the instructions if you got stuck! But the theory is a good one.) You also taught us that we should understand the context in which the words were written, ask God to show us what he wanted to teach us and not always take them at face value.
The church has in the past used the Bible to justify the oppression of women, the right to own slaves and all sorts of other things which are not in line with the meaning of the words. If I took the words literally I would wear a hat to church, never plait my hair nor wear gold or nice clothes. Some religions believe that their holy book was dictated, word for word, by God to man. Christians do not believe that, so we have to work a little harder to understand what God is saying.
It is further complicated because unless we read ancient Hebrew and Greek, we are reading a translation and these can never be literal. I can read Mandarin, I know that I cannot translate a sentence word for word from Mandarin to English or I will be in a right muddle! I have to understand the sentence in Mandarin and then write the meaning of that sentence in English. Which means that the Bible, even those which are translations, will have some human interpretations included. So I have been reading some commentaries and trying to understand just what the relevant passages are saying.
When you read the Bible, you cannot ignore that it seems to be completely condemning of homosexuality. For a while, I decided that my original belief was correct, that whilst we must love and accept people who are gay, as indeed God loves them and us, yet the actual practice was wrong. We can ‘reject the sin without rejecting the sinner’. But is that right? I felt the need to explore this a bit further. The church has very few people who are gay and this cannot be right. We accept murderers, liars, thieves – why was this issue one which so many people find difficult? Is it because people who are gay do not accept that it is a sin? Even a murderer usually accepts they have done wrong, so why do people who are gay reject that they are? And could they be right?
It is also heartbreaking to hear of so much pain that is caused by this issue, families breaking up, young people killing themselves because they feel rejected, other people using it as an excuse for hatred. That cannot be right.
So what actually is homosexuality? If you read scientific and psychological studies, it is a biological state, not something which people choose. Now, I am not ignoring the studies (but I am a middle child and somewhat contrary, I do not accept anything at face value) I do wonder if this is always true. Our society values masculinity very highly. It had to in ages gone past, physical strength and endurance was essential for the survival of our species and we seem to have retained some of this in our psyche. So, marines who show weakness are called “a bunch of girls” (this is not meant as a compliment!) Boys who cry are called “sissies”. We do not like effeminate males. This therefore makes it quite hard for a male who is effeminate. Maybe they feel rejected by their peers and therefore ‘decide’ that they are gay. If they are gay, there will be a reason for their ‘failure’ to behave like a tough male. They feel more comfortable in the gay role, even though it is not what they naturally are, and so they adopt it. The same might be true of a girl who felt ugly or inadequate in the stereotypical roles that society has manufactured. Surely sex, at its most basic, is a physical response to stimulus and if you shut your eyes or imagine yourself into a persona, maybe it doesn’t matter too much who does that stimulating.
But, if I am honest, this view seems to ignore an awful lot of research. I do not believe that scientists are always right (many of them seem to have missed the whole existence of God) but neither should respected research be ignored lightly. Not if you have a brain. So maybe some people are born gay. This doesn’t mean my theory above is not right for some people, but maybe it is also a biological condition.
Does that mean that it is not a sin? Well, not necessarily. Some people are naturally kleptomaniacs, that does not make stealing okay. It might be natural for them but it’s still wrong. I think that some people are naturally attracted to children and yet this is clearly wrong. Children should never be used for sexual gratification. Those people have to just accept that they can never be fulfilled in the way they feel is natural for them and remain celibate. No question, their feelings are wrong.
I should also admit that I find seeing gay people kiss or show affection weird. It feels wrong. I don’t like it, it makes me uncomfortable. But is this because it is wrong and my conscience is kicking me, or is it because it is unusual, not something which is seen very often. It is also something which I, as a heterosexual woman, cannot really relate to. I should also say that I find the thought of my parents having sex also feels distasteful. Does anyone like to think about their parents in that way? We know it happens, on a certain level we’re glad they find each other attractive, but do we want to think about them doing it? Ugh, yuk, no!
Some people argue that homosexuality is “unnatural”. I am not quite sure what they mean by this but if they mean it is not seen in the natural world, they should visit a farm! We often have a herd of cows in the field next to our house and without a doubt they indulge in homosexual activity! So do male ducks every Springtime. However, people are not animals, we were created to be higher than the animals, so is it morally wrong?
Some people have argued that when it refers in the Bible to an ‘unnatural’ act, it means homosexual activity between people who are NOT homosexual, between people who are just experimenting, who naturally are heterosexual.
The only way to decide if something is wrong, morally wrong, against what God wants for us, is to look at the Bible and to ask God to teach us. This is what I have found out:
I find the references in the Old Testament easier to deal with because so many other issues are clearly meant to refer only to the Jews at that time. In Leviticus, homosexual behaviour is called “an abomination” or “detestable”, depending on which translation you read. My understanding is that the word which we have translated (to mean “an abomination” ) is one which is used for issues which affected the Jewish people of that time, it is about being separate, not a moral issue. When Leviticus was written, the Jewish race was relatively small and God wanted them to be separate, different to the surrounding nations. The physical expression of this separateness was certain rituals that they observed and certain things which they abstained from. Homosexual practice was listed as an abomination. So was eating prawns. I cannot see any reason for taking one part and not the other.
So is it irrelevant? Can we just ignore that bit of the Bible? You always told me that was a dangerous thing to do, that we might miss something important. I think God does still want his people to be different, separate from how other people in the world live. We are meant to be loving and morally upright and generous. I just think the examples (no homosexuality and no prawn sandwiches) are no longer relevant. We do not think that eating pork is a moral issue today, it is about the Jewish people being separate.
Another Bible text which is often quoted is at the very beginning, when Adam and Eve were created and told their purpose was to have children. Now, when the Jewish race first began, increasing in size would be hugely important. There are rules in the Old Testament which say that if a man has sexual contact with a woman and spills his seed on the ground, that is a sin. However, we do not follow this teaching today. We do not consider that single people or couples who do not have children have ‘failed’, are sinning.
Sometimes the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is used as evidence against homosexuality. However, it seems that God was planning to destroy those cities because “their sin was very grave” and not specifically homosexual. True, the men later wanted to gang rape the men of God and so are destroyed, but gang rape of any kind seems wrong to me and very far removed from homosexuality.
If we look at the New Testament, it also seems unclear. St Paul wrote about homosexuality, for example in 1 Corinthians and seemed to be clearly condemning it. However, the word that he uses, “arsenokites” does not seem to have been used anywhere else previously and scholars think that maybe Paul made it up. It cannot be properly translated from Greek to English as “homosexual” and so the meaning is not as clear as it seems.
At the time when Paul was writing, homosexual practice tended to be centred around idol worship or being with several partners or to involve young boys (which is child abuse.) He would not have used a word to describe a loving monogamous relationship between two adults of the same sex because quite simply, it did not exist. (Or, if it did exist, it wasn’t seen to be a problem so wouldn’t have been discussed.) It seems to me that God makes rules to protect us. If people are living a promiscuous lifestyle, they are stunting their ability to have a loving relationship, they risk spreading disease and they are using another person as an object. This is harmful and therefore I would argue is not what God intended. The problem today is that much of what we perceive to be homosexual practice is actually promiscuity.
Is it possible that at the beginning of time, people were intended to be heterosexual but due to their rejection of God, he allowed homosexual ‘genes’ to develop? A bit like we are told that feeling pain in childbirth is due to the world going wrong, due to man’s original sin. Maybe, but that does not change that to be homosexual is not wrong, anymore than feeling pain is sinful. I have three children, it hurt, if someone had told me that I was sinning because I felt pain I would have punched them on the nose!
What does this mean in practice? Should we start telling people in the church with established views that they are wrong? I fear that this will lead to church splits and a lot of hurt. More wrong wont solve anything. But nor should we continue. I think that maybe God is very angry with how difficult we have made it for gay people to come to him. I think we need to develop our teaching on this, challenging views which are clearly wrong. We need to encourage an openness, an acceptance and be prepared to discipline actions which cause someone else to stumble.
If homosexuality is not wrong, then we should encourage people who are homosexual to have loving monogamous relationships. We should not be driving them into an underworld of promiscuity in a search for acceptance. Does this mean marriage? To be honest, I don’t know but my feeling is no. Marriage was a sacrament devised by the church within a very specific area. The vows and traditions are not in the Bible, they are just church religion. Why would gay people want to force this to change for any reason other than to be perverse, to make a point? Christians have behaved appallingly towards gay people but that does not mean that gay people should now sweep away all the traditions which have stood for centuries. That is just rude. They have the same right in law as any heterosexual couple and perhaps they should devise a church ceremony for the time when a couple commit to each other before God, when they enter into a life long monogamous relationship. But why call it marriage? I think that will just offend people unnecessarily.
Should we allow gay priests and ministers? Undoubtedly yes if (as in the case of a heterosexual person) their calling has been well tested. However, should they practice sexually is a more difficult one. Personally, I think this is a step too far for many people. I wonder if it is a similar case to the one in the new testament when the early christians were trying to decide if they should eat meat offered to idols. There was nothing intrinsically wrong with the food, just as I believe there is nothing intrinsically wrong with two people of the same sex having a monogamous physical relationship, but if it will cause injury to others, they should abstain. Not an easy thing to do, but not so different to the catholic priest who denies his sexuality and remains celibate because that is what he is feels it is right to do. Let’s try to take people slowly, to minimise the hurts, there have been enough already.
I find it hard to write these things because I know they fly in the face of teaching from many christians who I hold in deep respect. However, more and more prominent christian leaders are beginning to change their views. I think my own view mirrors that of Archbishop Desmond Tutu who said, “I do not believe that God would look at a black man and say, ‘It would have been better if you had been white’. I do not believe God would look at a woman and say, ‘It would have been better if you had been a man’. And I do not believe that God would look at a homosexual person and say, ‘It would have been better if you had been heterosexual’.”
I wonder if my grandchildren will look at the church of today and be appalled by how we treat homosexual people. Just as I am appalled when I look back at history and see christians who quoted from the Bible and justified owning slaves in England.
Am I right? It is so hard to know and I pray that God will show me if I have still got it wrong.
Thanks to: Elizabeth Longhurst 2011
Peter Gomes and Desmond Tutu interviewed in ‘For the Bible Tells Me So’ 2007
See also : https://anneethompson.com/how-to/378-2/
2020. I need to add to this post, because my views have changed. After extensive research of the Bible, and reading books by Christian authors — both those who believe homosexuality is a sin, and those who believe that it it not, my own views are now clear. I do not think it is wrong to be gay, nor do I think monogamous gay relationships/marriage are wrong.
I believe the passages in the Bible relating to homosexuality are akin to the passages that relate to slavery. It clearly says that slaves may be bought and sold (Lev 25:44) and that an owner may beat his slave as long as he doesn’t kill him (Ex 21: 21). For centuries the church believed the Bible sanctioned the owning of slaves. I think they were wrong. Today, the church (at least, some churches) teach that being gay is sinful, and I think this is also wrong. I believe that God never intended/desired for humans to own other humans as slaves. I believe that God accepts and loves people who are gay, and if their loving monogamous relationships are no more wrong than heterosexual marriages.
I have written two novels which help to illustrate my views. They are available from Amazon, and I hope you enjoy them and find them helpful, especially if you are struggling with this issue, as I was.
A very interesting and thought-provoking read, Anne. A couple of points have prompted my comment. Firstly, if a heterosexual couple decides only on a civil ceremony, theirs is still called a marriage, so should it be any different for a gay couple? As to whether a gay couple should be allowed to marry in church, I can see your point of view. Why should anyone have the right to change centuries of tradition? Not Kings, nor other men, that’s for sure ;-) However, since we do now have many denominations of Christianity, maybe the decision should be with the local church? My other thought concerns gay ministers. I applaud all men and women the choice to respond to their calling. However, expecting them to be celebate when their heterosexual counterparts are free to practice sexually seems incongruous. Perhaps, instead, celibacy should apply to all priests and ministers.
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My point with ministers was not that gay ministers should not marry due to a moral issue, but more that I think this might be too much for the church to accept at this point in time. I believe the church needs to change, I also think that this will take time and perhaps it would be Godly for ministers in this position to wait, to allow the church time to adjust, to not be an issue that people cannot cope with. A minister’s first calling is surely to bring people closer to God, if the present climate means that his/her homosexuality would be a stumbling block for people (like the early church eating food that had been offered to idols) then perhaps this is something they need to be sensitive about.
Dear Anne, I found your letter very thought-provoking and it lead me to write a response. I doubt it will fit in this box and so have posted it in an attachment to a message on your facebook page. Thank you for posting this and I too see it as quite a challenging issue but one that may have the potential to ‘wake up’ the church again a little to examine what really lies behind the teachings and where our priorities should be. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking we understand and everything is sorted. Perhaps this conflict is a blessing, to help us to get back to the heart of what Jesus is calling us to do?
Anne, thanks for writing this it is very interesting to read this from someone who openly admits having no inside interest. As someone who lived in the gay lifestyle for many years before coming to faith I think you argue well about the Bible but here’s my challenge. Did God want the Bible to be something that the man in the street could understand or something that we have to look to Bible scholars to interpret? If I read the Bible I want to understand what God means, I pray and I ask for his revelation, In this he revealed to me that my homosexual practices were wrong and in order to be obedient to him I had to change. Let’s not disect the Bible looking for a way out, let’s not look for reasons to ignore his word the New Testament could not be clearer – Romans 1: 26-28 – Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
1 Timothy 1: 8-11 – We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Corinthians 7:2 – But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband
1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 – Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
We are called to speak the truth in love. Truth without love is judgemental, love without truth offers permissiveness. Why are there so few gays in church? Maybe there are more than you think but I would hazard a guess more are receiving truth without love and therefore feeling judged. My prayer is that more Churches will embrace love and truth when receiving LGBT members into the congregation and let God do the rest.
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Thank you for your thoughts – I will consider them carefully. I would certainly not want to hurt someone who was trying to avoid something they felt was wrong, or to belittle something that had been sacrificed for God. If you have decided that God wanted you to leave a gay lifestyle, I would not dispute that – you must, absolutely, live as you feel God is calling you.
However, I would challenge your view that we should take the Bible at face value – that we should accept what it ‘appears’ to be saying. The New Testament plainly says for example, that women should not speak. This is because the English translation is misleading. You are absolutely correct in saying that God speaks to us, whatever our level of education and mental ability. This does not mean that every single one of us has the knowledge needed to teach others about scripture – and sometimes we do need to be taught if we are to develop our understanding of the things of God. Sometimes if we are wise, we will listen to those who know more than us.
I do agree that we should not dissect the Bible, looking for a ‘way out’ of the bits we dislike. (Though I might be tempted to try and do that with eating prawns, which is clearly banned, as I rather enjoy them!) However, nor should we take passages out of context and quote them so they fit what we believe. In all your quotes above, are they actually referring to loving homosexual relationships, or to the promiscuous relationships typical of the time? Remember, the word ‘homosexual’ which you quote is an ENGLISH word, it does not appear in the original passages – which is why we need to decide what is meant.
I hope we can concentrate on your last sentence – that all Christians will embrace love and truth, so that everyone can be welcomed into God’s family.
Hi Anne – I agree not all should be taken at face value however I have looked at this in some detail myself and I am sure we could have many long drawn out discussions on this (you can take a look at my Blog for a lot of my conclusions. https://transformedtotransform.wordpress.com/)
I would also point to the New Covenant (so you are fine to eat prawns!!), it’s also why I confined my quotes above to New Testament scripture although OT scripture is equally as clear.
What I would say though to all who blog on this matter is that I am sure we all share a desire for all to be saved and all to be given the opportunity to come to know God and his will for their lives themselves. To this end love and truth combined are essential. I will say that coming into a church and having that wrestle with God is tough and it is essential that Christians do not make it tougher by:
1. being judgmental
2. trivialising the subject
I would suggest that each and every homosexual struggling with this should be supported and loved but allowed to deal with God directly without excess noise from others. To clarify “noise” I have lost count of the number of church goers who have trivialised my choices by saying “surely God doesn’t care about that anymore”. My answer – yes surely God does, he loves me and wants the best for me, and his best for me is Salvation :) x
Again many thanks for your post and response
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I would disagree that we cannot translate the New Testament passages about sexual immorality clearly. A very good resource to use is “bible hub” where you can look at the interlinear version of every verse in the bible and study each Greek (or Hebrew in the OT) word. Here is the link for the Greek word arsenokoites http://biblehub.com/greek/733.htm for anyone who is interested.
But apart from those passages which speak directly about immoral sexual practices including what we now term homosexuality, we can see God’s design for man and woman in creation. Firstly we need to ask ourselves why God created male and female? Was it purely for procreation? I believe the answer is “No” – there are plenty of hermaphodite species which reproduce very well. No, God created the two separate sexes because sexual union between man and woman within marriage represents something much more profound- the deeply intimate relationship Jesus wants to have with the church, His bride. Let me explain…
Genesis 1:26-27 says:
26Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
The word translated “mankind” in both verses 26 and 27 is “Adam” http://biblehub.com/hebrew/120.htm so Adam was initially both male and female, a hermaphrodite if you like, of which there are many examples in nature (eg the earthworm). Genesis says “Adam” was created to rule over every other creature. He would have been able to reproduce on his own just as other hermaphrodites do had God decided not to separate his male and female parts. But God had a purpose in creating Eve that was not just for procreation. So we know that some time later on the 6th day after Adam was created, the Lord separated the female part of Adam from the male part and created a woman, Eve and theirs was the first marriage:
23The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam’s flesh was whole before Eve was taken out of “him” but afterwards they could only become one flesh again when they were “united” with each other once again by sexual (re)union. This is why two men or indeed two women cannot become one flesh in the same way as a man and a woman can – maleness and femaleness become reunited in marriage and the two once again become one flesh. Now the apostle Paul actually quotes Genesis 2:24 referring to this union twice in the New Testament – in Ephesians 5:31 and also in 1 Corinthians 6:16
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31“FOR THIS REASON A MAN WILL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE UNITED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO WILL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
In Eph 5:32 he says the marriage union in which husband and wife become one flesh is a PROFOUND MYSTERY- symbolic of the union between Christ and the church. Marriage in its deepest form represents the union we have with Jesus Christ in which we become Christ’s flesh (his body) but in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul also speaks of our spiritual union with Him:
1 Corinthians 6:16-17
16Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17BUT WHOEVER IS UNITED WITH THE LORD IS ONE WITH HIM IN SPIRIT.
So the marriage union is symbolic of our fleshly union with Christ (as His body) AND our spiritual union with Him (one with Him in Spirit). We literally become a part of Jesus, physically and spiritually when we come into relationship with Him- it is extremely intimate! This is why Paul so clearly commands husbands, who represent Christ in this symbolism, to love and care for their wives just as Christ loves the church. And this is why adultery and fornication are so abominable to God – they represent idolatry. God said in Exodus 34:14 not to worship any other god because He is a jealous God. Similarly in John 14:6 Jesus said He was the exclusive way to the Father: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In Mosaic Law God even demanded the death penalty for adultery (and fornication)! Thankfully in Christ Jesus we are now freed from the penalty of the Law but Jesus still holds male-female marriage as extremely sacred: He invites us to come into an exclusive intimate union with Him and the male-female marriage relationship is a picture of this sacred union. Jesus Himself quoted Genesis 2:24 when he was speaking about divorce:
6“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Jesus has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Heb 13:5, Deut 31:6) and this is why He only permitted divorce on the grounds of marital unfaithfulness. He himself will never divorce us or be separated from us- thank God our union with Him is permanent!
This is why sexuality, gender identity and marriage are under such fierce attack- because He has made us distinctly male and female in God’s image and because the husband-wife union is so profound and deeply symbolic of our relationship with Jesus!
Now for those of us who are single, it does not mean that we are somehow not whole – union with Christ completes us whether we are single or married, male or female. And for those of us who struggle with homosexual desires, gender identity issues and any type of sexuality issue, freedom and redemption can be found in union with Christ – as we behold the Lord’s glory we are transformed with ever-increasing glory into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18) and this transformation involves our whole being including our sexuality.
Jesus is beautiful and He has wonderfully created us in His image, male and female. He designed the husband-wife relationship to be a profound mystery which He has revealed in His word to symbolise the intimacy between Him and us, His beloved bride!
Thank you for taking the time to write in such detail. I will consider your words carefully.
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