Monthly Archives: June 2016

Such Were Some of You

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting the union of same-sex couples were un-Constitutional.  Justice Anthony Kennedy, the author of the majority opinion in the case of Obergerfell v. Hodges, tucked this caveat into the ruling, “Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here” (  Though Justice Kennedy and the like-minded judges acknowledged both religious and philosophical grounds for dissent, they went on to argue that homosexual unions cannot be outlawed under the liberties all Americans are guaranteed in the Constitution.

I know that many who read this publication feel besieged by the swift changes in modern America.  Many believe that Christian values are under attack and that the ultimate objective is the silencing of truth by government fiat.  For a moment, allow me to suggest to you that indeed the truth has already been silenced, but in an unexpected way.  Faceless agendas and the cares of this world work to harden our hearts, tempting us to overlook the brokenness of the homosexual community.  We are so anxious to defend marriage and define the sinfulness of homosexuality that our preaching stops with Leviticus 18:22 or Romans 1:26-29.  In my estimation, this fails to declare the whole counsel of God.  A person with same-sex attraction must understand that they can serve God if they choose not to act upon their desires.  Like all of us, those with same-sex attraction need hope, and we need to communicate that hope to them.

There are Christians in the church struggling with same-sex attraction.  I realize that statement may shock some readers.  Yes, there are some Christians among us who find homosexuality tempting.  The Christian with same-sex attraction is no different than anyone else in their struggle with sin following baptism.  Our desires do not leave at the surface of baptism. Although Christ liberates us from the bondage of sin, we are continuously faced with the choice of serving God or serving our desires (see Romans 6:1-14). The answer for the one with same-sex attraction is the answer for me: “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Like the rest of us who struggle with desires, the Christian who battles same-sex attraction understands that their desire will lead to sin and therefore must be resisted because they are a new creation.

When Paul listed the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21, he warned “that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Leading the list is sexual immorality, a term that takes in all manner of sexual activity outside the bounds of male-female marriage.  Homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality.  But notice that Paul warns those who “practice such things.”  In other words, one is disqualified from heaven only if they unceasingly participate in these sins.  What if the one tempted by drunkenness successfully battles against their desire for the remainder of their lives? Can he or she be saved?  What if the porn addict manages to resist the desire for licentious entertainment?  Can he or she be saved?  Or, what about the woman who has struggled to remain faithful to her husband?  If she repents and resists the temptation to cheat on her husband until her death, can she inherit the kingdom of God?  We all have desires that must be confronted and resisted.  How are the people with same-sex attraction any different?  If they choose to not act upon their desires out of a longing to serve God, can they be saved?  The answer must be yes.  Only the one who practices sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke to a congregation of people who used to be sexually immoral or covetous or idolaters or practicing homosexuals.  “And such were some of you,” the apostle states in 6:11. “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  When they were clothed with Christ, the Christians in Corinth changed.  Among them were those who formerly practiced homosexuality.

The homosexual community and those who sympathize with their plight are swayed by a mountain of misinformation.  Some say homosexuals are “born that way,” that same-sex attraction has a genetic origin.  Please do your research:  no credible scientific study has drawn this conclusion.  Others take a more deterministic approach and say that homosexuals have no choice but to act on their desires.  The Bible teaches that we all have free will.  Though we may be inclined toward a variety of temptations, we all have the power to choose right and resist evil.  Still others will argue, “God wants me to be happy,” therefore homosexuality is an acceptable choice.  No my friends, God wants you to be holy.  We find joy submitting to the will of God regardless of our desires.  Rising above all of these rationalizations is the persuasive cry, “Love wins!”  The love claimed by this slogan is not a biblical love.  Please remember, love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).  Do not buy into the lies and the propaganda.

My dear readers, the church needs to minister to those with same-sex attraction and the urgency to do so is very real.  This is a most dangerous time to be a Christian who finds homosexuality tempting.  Our culture applauds and incentivizes the fulfillment of same-sex desire.  Words cannot express my admiration for those who struggle with same-sex attraction out of their desire to serve God.  They are persuaded that it is a sin to practice homosexuality, and they want to go to heaven. They remain among us by resisting their temptation, practicing righteousness, and trusting in the grace of God.  These precious souls have denied themselves to take up the cross of Jesus Christ.  Their life is indeed a living sacrifice!

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

~ Wade Stanley

The Mystery of Suffering

Trauma is part of the human experience.  We all endure some degree of unpleasantness, and we may even live through some of the same bad experiences.  Interestingly, a shared event might destroy one person and leave another completely unmoved…while maybe strengthening someone else beyond imagination.  Sometimes, how a thing affects you depends on your outlook.  Sometimes it depends on your support structure.

Sometimes, it depends on the mercies of God.

During the late ‘50s and into the early ‘60s, doctors routinely prescribed a medicine to expectant mothers experiencing morning sickness.  Studies had shown that it was extremely effective, with nominal side effects to the recipients.  For years and through many thousands of first trimesters, Thalidomide provided desperately needed relief in countering the nausea associated with early pregnancy.  It wasn’t until the tragic reports came trickling—then pouring—in from around the globe that medical experts realized the true hazards of the drug.

The mothers seemed fine.  But some of the children?  Foreshortened limbs, missing fingers, extra toes, entire leg bones—gone.  Before the drug’s global ban in 1961, an estimated 15,000 “congenital amputees” had been born broken into the world.  As with any shared experience, though, not every Thalidomide newborn was as badly mutated as the next.  In fact, some children seemed to have entirely escaped any ill effects.

With morning sickness still prevalent and no wonder drug to combat it, manufacturers hurriedly developed and marketed a few replacement remedies.  My own mother received one of these while pregnant with me.  As it turned out, the replacement drug was withdrawn several years after my birth for similar reasons as those that shelved Thalidomide.  Arguably, I suffered no ill effect; but as I grew up, I was reminded any time I met someone suffering debilitating deformity: this could be me.

It is with this perspective that I recently ran across a documentary on my local PBS station entitled, “Get Off Your Knees: The John Robinson Story.”  The irony is that John Robinson was born without any knees.  A congenital amputee, John has arm stumps that terminate at his elbows, partially-fused hip sockets, and foot appendages connecting to the underside of his foreshortened upper leg bones.  He’s 3’ 9”.  Nothing comes easy.  His greatest concern in preparing for college was just learning to dress himself.  But despite the obvious and daunting obstacles, he has wonderfully succeeded in ways that most could only imagine.  (He has a left-handed golf swing).

What would drive a man to overcome in such a herculean manner, when no one would blame him if he wanted to just sit life out?  Upon his birth, while John cried (as newborns do), his own father lamented the injustice of his fate: “You go right ahead and just scream.  You have a right to scream.  It’s not fair.”  As the PBS program wound down, several acquaintances shared their admiration for John’s accomplishments and how he had inspired them through the years.  Again, John’s father spoke…and he struck me by what he said.  He said this…“John’s story is emblematic of why the cross is central to the Christian faith.  The mystery of suffering is that it leads to joy.” Having a supportive father with such an outlook, it’s no wonder why John Robinson has been such a success.

The mystery of suffering is that it leads to joy.

When we look to Jesus, we see an inspirational figure.  When we see His sufferings, the crushing weight of our sins on Him, we are met with a sobering reality: that could be me.  That should be me.

After the mother of all living swallowed the bitter pill of Knowledge in the Garden, none of us was left unchanged.  The trauma of sin became every child’s experience, and there was no escaping the effect of its debilitating deformities.  We are broken people in a broken world.  Any hope of Life success comes not by way of cheery outlook, nor by the affirming support of others, but only by the mercies of God:  mercies which are precious, mercies which have a price.

Who among us is whole, who has not been made whole by the sufferings of Jesus?

When He cried out to His Father in anguish as He hung, any human father might well have said, “You go right ahead and just scream.  You have a right to scream.  It’s not fair.”  Because it wasn’t fair.  And He had a right.  But The Father had purposed that His Son get off His prayer-worn knees and go to the cross for our sins’ cure.

When we look to Jesus, He is more than an inspirational figure. He is

“the Author and Perfecter of faith, itself, Who—for the joy set before Him—endured the cross, despising its shame and has sat down on the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

Before His suffering, Jesus very clearly saw the joy it would bring to us, to His Father, to Himself.

We also have the satisfaction of knowing that, “to the degree we share the sufferings of Christ, we should keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, we may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:13).  Unbelievably, Jesus has granted us access to infinite joy by sharing in His sufferings, counting us worthy of serving alongside of Him.

Many misfortunes will happen in this life—just count on it.  But understand that there is sense in enduring its trauma.  See the joyous end through the trial.  Jesus has suffered to make you whole and renew you from sin’s damage.  Know that suffering is no longer a mystery to solve…rather, it is the pathway to joy.

~ Eric Owens