The Way of Self-Denial

At the beginning of 2018, the church I (Brenna Kate Simonds) attend invited us to read through the Bible in a year, using the Message paraphrase. I didn’t have a copy, so I decided to use The Living Bible (TLB) instead.

Alive in Christ leader Hugh used to read from this Bible at our weekly support group. We would say, “Hugh, what does the ‘Way Out’ bible say?” because of the cover name and because sometimes the paraphrase was kind of out there!
After reading The Message, The Living Bible sounds pretty normal! Reading the whole of Scripture in TLB really gave me fresh eyes for some verses I previously read over and over.

During this time, I was preparing to speak at an international conference on issues of sexual identity. The following verses seemed to jump off the page at me.

“But there were false prophets, too, in those days, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly tell their lies about God, turning against even their Master who bought them; but theirs will be a swift and terrible end. Many will follow their evil teaching that there’s nothing wrong with sexual sin. And because of them Christ and his way will be scoffed at” (2 Peter 2:1-2 TLB, emphasis mine).

The way of obedience and self-denial (as is the way of Christ referred to in 2 Peter 2:2) is often scoffed at, especially as it pertains to God’s design for sexuality. The objections are many. Isn’t it unreasonable to expect same-sex attracted Christians to remain single and celibate? How could that possibly be fair? If God is love, why is love between two consenting adults wrong? If people believe they were born gay, then God must have created them that way – right?

Several people have sent me an article posted on the “United Methodist Insight” website (not an official UMC publication) entitled “Has ‘Homosexual’ Always Been in the Bible?” Friends wanted to hear my thoughts on how the author attempts to disprove the 6 “clobber passages” that relate to same-sex sexual activity. Of course, biblical interpretation is about more than proving or disproving certain passages, and God’s design for sexuality goes far beyond what might seem fair or unfair to some. At Alive in Christ, we believe the Bible teaches that God created sexual intimacy to be shared only between a man and a woman who have committed to each other for a lifetime in marriage. That said, these common objections to a biblical sexual ethic are ones we must be able to answer.

There is another passage that speaks to these challenges:
“To preach the Word of God urgently at all times, whenever you get the chance, in season and out, when it is convenient and when it is not. Correct and rebuke your people when they need it, encourage them to do right, and all the time be feeding them patiently with God’s Word. For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas. Stand steady, and don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord” (2 Timothy 4:2-5a TLB, emphasis mine).

We are to be patient as we share God’s Word, but we are not to shrink back from the truth just because it might not be convenient. And we are to be loving as we do share.

“Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are the children of God, and that they are getting to know him better. But if a person isn’t loving and kind, it shows that he doesn’t know God—for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8 TLB, emphasis mine).

If you do not feel equipped to love well the LGBTQ-identified people in your life or to answer these common objections, attend our training “Same-Sex Attraction & the Church: Compassion without Compromise.” Contact us to find out when one will be held in your area or to schedule one at your church.

This is an excerpt from the July/August 2020 newsletter.