Several weeks ago, I posted about a discussion I’d had with a friend—whom I’m going to call “Bob”, though that’s not his real name (to protect the innocent—or guilty, as the case may be!)—on the subject of how my blogging appeared on Facebook, how little eyes might be reading, and how I’d possibly been offensive with some of my wording.  As I reflected, I had to agree with him on at least some points, and I posted a response that I hope many of my readers…read.  At any rate, one of “Bob’s” questions involved homosexuality, and my statement to the effect that I considered the contemporary push, by the “gay lobby”, to “normalize” homosexuality to be one of the most troubling events going on in society today.  I stand by that statement, though of course, I say “one of”, not “the”, most bothersome things—we could point to many.  But rather than just leaving that hanging out there without explanation, I want to amplify significantly on this, and thus I begin a several-part series on the subject.  I’m going to use “Bob’s” own words—modified as need be, particularly if he writes anything that would give away his identity, because I want to guard that—and respond to them as I see appropriate, in informal “letter” fashion.  I begin this evening, though, with an overview of where I’m coming from.

Bob,

To set the stage for this discussion, I need to give you just a quick flyover of where I come from—not that I ever perfectly live up to what I’m about to say, but to give you the framework for how I try to approach life.  I don’t ask that you agree with everything I say, but if I do this well, it should help to make sense of what I’m going to say.

As a follower of Jesus, I place myself under His authority, and I believe that His Word is true.  I remember a  conversation we had in which you asked about the term “Evangelical Free”, and when I broke it down a bit, one thing you mentioned was your understanding that evangelicals take Scripture literally.  That’s true—generally speaking, and understood properly—but that deals with the interpretation of Scripture and is perhaps the “second question”, when the first question to consider is the very nature of Scripture: what is the Bible?  Is it God’s Word to man, or is it man’s ideas about God?  There are people who call themselves “Christians” who come down on both sides of that question; I would suggest that one’s answer to that question is truly a watershed, that those who begin on different sides of that question will ultimately end up a million miles apart as to their conclusions, etc.  So you know, I come down on the side that the Bible is God’s Word to us—mediated through men, to be sure—but as such, is authoritative—and this is critical.  Now, this whole field of discussion cannot be easily broken down into a 20-page treatise, much less a paragraph or two, and so perhaps there are plenty of questions that my words raise—and of course I’d be happy in time to answer any/all you might have as best I can—but for now, suffice it to say that I hold the Bible, in its totality, to be my authority for faith and living.  It’s on that basis that I proceed to tackle this very thorny and complex subject.

Before I proceed, I need to make clear that there are at least two intertwined issues in the questions you raise.  First is what we might call the “theological” issue: what is the Bible’s stance on homosexuality?  Second is what I might term the “socio-political” issue: how ought we deal with this subject (and with the people who profess to be homosexuals) in a pluralistic society?  I will suggest that the two certainly are intertwined at points, but not necessarily, as I hope you’ll see, in the way that certain folks in the “Religious Right” would have them be (summarized as, “anything that can in any way be seen as beneficial to homosexuals ought to be opposed”.  I’ve seen that attitude, and don’t find it to be in keeping with the spirit of Christian faith.). I don’t want to give away too much in this opening, because I’ll deal with these issues in due course, but suffice it to say that if/when a professing Christian ever gives the impression that any person is beyond the reach of the grace of God, we err big-time.  Big-time.  I owe my standing before God to God, completely; it is only by the grace of God that I am what, and who, I am.  By nature, I am no better than anyone else; I have my besetting sins and foibles, and while they don’t happen to include homosexual temptations or tendencies, they are ugly enough in their own right.  I submit the following posts in a spirit of friendship with you, of love for others regardless of their particular circumstances and predilections, and of humility before the Word of God and its teachings.

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