Wednesday, April 20, 2011

4/20/11- Jon Acuff

For those who are unaware of who Jon Acuff is, I hope you take some time to check him out. I am hoping this link works properly, it should be a quick profile on him. He is absolutely hilarious, ridiculously honest about the issues that come about when we take Christianity too seriously.

As we are working though the study "Compelled by Love" on Sunday mornings, and we learn more about the love of Christ and what it should mean to us, I am constantly reminded of what Jon talks about in this video. In reference to the rock that everyone is holding, how true is that? How often do we run into a person who is clearly clenching a rock, looking for an excuse to unleash it through the window of our Christian life? Why are we so willing to give them this excuse? Why don't we focus more on the love of Christ flowing out of us to those we come in contact with? Why not be transparent in our relationships, understanding that to do so will make us vulnerable?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

4/6/2011- Homosexuality and Christianity

I want to preface this by saying something... I have friends who practice homosexuality and they are some of the best people I know. They are truthful, loving, nurturing, and absolutely beautiful people. Some of them attend church and are very active in the Body of Christ. My hope is to write this without judgment. I firmly believe that God loves these people just as much as He does me, and do not make any claims to know anything beyond that. I sincerely hope that any who read this will consider it as simple discussion on what is a very big topic in Christianity today...

I want to start by saying that I can't stand the fact that I have to put that kind of disclaimer on this. It just goes to show the harm done by "Christians" who long ago forgot that Christ came to love everyone. We as Christians today need to understand that it is not up to us to judge sinners. We are called to judge and support fellow believers and to confront them on their sins, and we are called to do so in a spirit of gentleness and humility. We are to understand our our shortcomings and weaknesses, and are to be prayerful in our pursuit of Christlike-ness. I want to start by apologizing to those who have been hurt by the actions and treatment given to some people (such as homosexuals) in the name of Christ.

That being said, here are my thoughts and convictions concerning homosexuality in Christianity:

A study was published several years ago (forgive me for forgetting where and when it was) in a scientific journal concerning the anatomical structure of the brain. They were comparing the brains of male and female humans to decipher the difference between the two in hopes of figuring out why men and women think and act differently. They were looking for structural deviations that would explain why our minds do not work the same way. While doing this research, they discovered that the brains of some men were much more feminine than others. It appeared that there were a few male brains that looked not fully female and yet not male. They inferred from this that these male brains would have belonged to someone who was more likely to have actions and thought processes that were much more effeminate than normal. They touted this discovery as proof that a person is born homosexual and that it is not a choice.

I remembered first hearing this information about 8 years ago in an Abnormal Psychology class. I was a Christian, but hadn't exactly been close to God for a little while. I was living with a guy who was a practicing homosexual, and as such had been bombarded with the idea of being born this way, etc. When I heard this lecture, I came out of it thinking that there was proof that my roommate was telling the truth. Ever since then, I have had this recurring conversation in my mind about the validity of these claims. Here in the last year or so, I feel like I am finally coming to a conclusion...

We are more than willing to accept, as Christians, that we are born sinners. We are born with two natures, as Paul says, the nature of God and our sin nature. We accept that we are born with certain tendencies and attributes that cause specific problems for us. Yet, we reject that a person could be born with a homosexual tendency. Why? The research here clearly shows that there are men born whose brains are much more female than male. Does that not prove that they have no choice to be gay?

No, it doesn't. Here are my convictions on this matter...
Homosexuality is a sin, plain and simple, the Bible is pretty explicit on this topic. It is listed right along side lying, cheating, slander, murder, stealing, jealousy, pride, and the list goes on and on. The argument that it is not a choice to engage in the sin of homosexuality can be substantiated by saying that none of us have a choice but to engage in whatever our sin of choice may be (to be clear, we have the choice, what we lack is the strength of faith to choose to abstain). This does not make it right or ok! I have heard some argue that it can't be a sin because they have felt this way since they were 6... yes, and I have been able to decode a person, manipulate them, and cause them harm with my words since I was somewhere around 6 also... still a sin. We are all born sinners, no matter the sin, they have been there since birth.

Other findings in the previously mentioned study were that in some brains, there were larger numbers of synapses in the pleasure centers of the brain, and in some, larger amygdalas, and so on... what this tells me is that there are anatomical differences in each of our brains that lead to our tendency towards different kinds of actions and thought processes. When we pervert these processes and actions, and when we choose to act on them in ways that are directly against the Word of God, they become sinful. The fact that we are wired a certain way does not dismiss our sin, it simply shows why were are more prone to certain types of sin.

We are called to admit these sins, recognize them, and repent of them. Salvation hinges on our acceptance that Christ died for our sins. He tells us to lay them down, turn from them, and run to Him. Even following salvation, we will continue to sin, God does not require perfection. He requires repentant souls. So, can a homosexual have salvation? I believe they can, but they have to be willing to admit that their actions are sinful, and truthfully turn away from them. They must ask forgiveness for their actions and attempt to live the life that Christ called us to... just like all the rest of us. There is no difference when it comes to salvation, sin is sin...    

Late Night in the ICU- Death

I was going to write this the other day when I got home from work, but I ended up letting it ramble around in my head for awhile to figure out what the point of writing about it would be... I think I got a better handle on it now, so here goes...

I lost a patient one day last week. That is something that, sadly, is not a rare occurrence for us, but it was the first one I have had in awhile. It is always interesting to watch family members as they try to decipher and deal with what is happening in their world when something like this happens. There is the expected tears and anger, sometimes there is celebration and gladness. This time, though, something different happened...

As is fairly normal, the family was in our small consultation room, speaking with the Chaplin. The Chaplin soon came and grabbed me out of doing the post-mortem care and said that the family wanted to speak to me so they could get a better idea of what happened. I am more than happy to have this dreadful conversation, it often allows people to cope better and can help with grieving. After I explained the rapid decline and subsequent departure of their loved one, the patient's child said something that floored me...

To paraphrase, "At least he knows the truth about death now"

After the family left, I talked more with the Chaplin and found that this father and child had talked recently about God. Neither of them knew for sure what they believed, and had come to the agreement that they wouldn't really know until they were dead, so they decided they'd just wait til then to decide. My heart broke for this family. It made me realize how very real this type of thinking is. And I just want to say something...

I envy the fact that this patient now knows, without a hint of a doubt, the truth about God. My beliefs and faith are strongly rooted in my convictions and in my day to day relationship with Christ, but I still have days when the doubts circle from the back of my mind to front and center. But lets take that further... The only thing we will ever truly know at death is if Christianity is true.

What do I mean? If there is no God, if my living as a Christian, if all of this is a lie and none of it is real... I'll never know, because at the moment of death, there will be nothingness and I will have no realization of anything. I will just fade to black and be gone forever. I will have lived a joyous life, and lived feeling as though I had a purpose. I will head to my death feeling happy and content that I will be entering the Kingdom of Heaven... and if it does not exist, I'll never know.
If it is true though, at that moment of death, my faith shall become sight! If Christianity is true, then I will head to death with the same joy and contentment, and I will pass from this earth to an eternity with the Creator!
 If Christianity is true, those who wait until they die to make a decision will realize that it is too late. Their realization that the Bible is true will end with an eternity separated from the God that loves them. They will not get to enter the peaceful darkness of death, because if Christianity is true, there is no such thing... there is eternity spent if Heaven or Hell.

I envy those who already know the truth about the moment of death, and my heart breaks for those who have waited that long to decide what to believe. I hurt for those who head towards death with fear of the unknown and am glad that I head to mine with joy and confidence that my faith shall become sight.