Hebrews 4:12 (KJV): "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Should believers go to church? That is a good question worth having a look at. One could surmise rightly that you do not go to church to be saved. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV
However, there are very many good reasons that we should go to church. For when we do we learn more about God, we are drawn closer to God, We enjoy the fellowship of other fellow believers, we learn from one another, we build up one another to name but a few good reasons to go to church.
The Bible itself is clear also and speaks to us on why we as believers should go to gather together in fellowship to worship by way of songs and praise to our God who is worthy of our praises.
Let us look at some scriptural passages which speak of fellowshipping together and why we should gather together.
It is God’s will
“Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.“ Malachi 3:16 NKJV
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 KJV
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:20-21 KJV
When we gather together, God is in the midst of us
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3 KJV
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.“ Hebrews 12:22-24 KJV
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
1 John 1:7 KJV
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”
Psalm 34:3 KJV
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 KJV
When we gather together we are exhorted
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16 KJV
We are comforted & edified when we gather together
“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 KJV
God is delighted when we gather together
“But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.” Psalms 16:3 KJV
“When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.” Psalms 42:4 KJV
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.“ Psalms 133:1-3 KJV
I could go on, but these are all very good reasons why we should go to church and fellowship together. To not gather together is to miss out on the many blessing by God upon those who do fellowship together.
Again, you do not need to go to church to be saved, but then again, God commands us to for our benefit in many ways. To abstain is to miss on so many blessings and learning and to be uplifted, encouraged etc.
The choice to stay away is your own but………….. !
No time for God (An Email to a Christian Online-Group)
As I have pondering my spiritual life these last few days, I am reminded of the below poem written by someone else, but which aptly describes my own walk with God lately. Though I do not watch regular TV, as I am unable to receive regular TV signals where I live, I still watch videos regularly every night. Never-the-less I am no better than the TV couch potato who watches the tube every night, but seems to have little time for time in God's Word and little if any time reading His Word and time in prayer, and meditating upon His Word.
I wake up in the morning and what do I do? I find myself opening up my laptop to read the latest news and catch up on e-mails. Even though I feel guilty in so doing, I squash away the warning, the Holy Spirit and go online anyways.
It is said, we are what we eat. Likewise, we are what we do. If being a baseball or soccer fan to the hilt is our fix, then that is what we do. We push aside our kids, our wives, our pets and friends to get our daily fix of that sport. If our fix is the TV, the computer, our cars, boats, etc. Then that is what we do. It consumes us and we eat sleep, drink, dream all things whatever it is that is our fix. We are no better than the junkie who pokes his arms with the needle. we need to get our fix.
Whatever is our fix displaces time with God to our shame, to our detriment. Is it no wonder then that when we are consumed with things other than God, that we find ourselves falling away in our faith? Is it no wonder then that when we are consumed with things other than God that we find ourselves slipping back into old bad habits, old sins? Is it a wonder then when we are consumed with things other than the things of God that we gradually begin to eventually find excuses to not go to church, to stop praying, to stop being involved with certain church functions that we used to be a regular at, to stop reading the Bible every day, to neglect praying for the persecuted of the world, to stop praying for your lost friends and family members? Is it a wonder when we are consumed with things other than the things of God that we find ourselves being consumed by the things of the world?
Is it a wonder then that when we are consumed by the things of the world and no longer the things of God that the unbelievers are pointing their fingers at us and saying "Look, there goes so and so. He is a so called Christian. Hmmmmmmmm He is no different than us. He swears, watches porn, never reads the Bible, tells dirty jokes, passes them around on the internet etc. Why should I become a Christian if they are no different than us?"
The above is not me exactly, but not far from the truth neither lately. Why, because I have found excuses to stop reading the scriptures daily as I once did. I have gradually stopped my daily prayer life, stopped meditating in God's Word daily as I once did, stopped putting Him at the forefront of my mind in all things at all times.
This falling away was not a sudden fall in one day. No it was a gradual fall down a slight decline in my daily walk with Him all because I began to slowly replace God with reading secular books and even some good Christian books. Not that there is anything wrong with reading secular books, but these books became more important to me than the reading of God's Word. They began to become my daily fix. And then again, the nightly necessity to watch a video every night took away my evening time of devotions in reading scripture, in prayer etc.
A junkie likewise does not become a junkie overnight. No, the junkie becomes a junkie gradually by getting involved in mild drugs, then he decides at one point in time to experiment in other drugs. His daily desire for another kind of high, another kind of fix is soon met by a stronger fix to get the ultimate high. Unfortunately, the junkie has been deceived. His desire for a better and greater high has led to his daily fix of junk and for many, sadly to death.
It is no different for the Christian who begins a gradual wandering away from the true God, the true Word, the true daily feeding of God's Word. The daily desire for something different leads to a gradual falling away from God towards the things of this world and eventually being led instead of by the True God, being led by the god of this world, Satan. For if we are not following God, we are following Satan.
I have chosen tonight to firstly confess my sin and be cleansed. For if we confess our sins, He is willing to forgive and cleanse us from our sins. 1 Jn 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV)
Confession of sins leads to a cleansing and then we must repent and turn around and follow and obey the will and things of God.
This is but an example, albeit a true example of how easy it is to fall away from God and find ourselves in darkness and in sin. A falling away begins with small steps doing our own thing, rather than the things of God. No matter where you are in your life tonight, today, God knows exactly where you are, what you are doing and is willing to forgive and cleanse you from all and any sin.
There are many who have joined this group whom have not shown their faces in a long while. Perhaps it is that you have started off with good intentions to change, to follow after God, but instead have with small steps walked away from God gradually. Perhaps you feel too ashamed to go back to Him. Perhaps you think that once you have fallen away, that He will no longer accept you back into the fold. You could be no further from the truth. If God is true to His Word then 1 John 1:9 is a verse you might need to take to heart and remember. 1 Jn 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (NKJV) God is faithful and just and will never, ever, renege on His Word. If He says that He will forgive you and cleanse you of all of your sins if you confess them to Him, then you can be sure that He will.
Turn to Him all who are weary and lost. Turn to Him all whom have fallen away and He will cleanse you and forgive you of any and all your sins. For just as the father forgave and welcomed home the prodigal son, our Father in Heaven, likewise is waiting and wanting greatly to welcome you back home and to clothe you in raiment's of sparkling white clothing and rejoice in heaven with all His angels, and with a feast especially for you.
How about it? Are you wanting to come home?
The 23 Channel
The T.V. set is my shepherd. My spiritual growth shall want.
It maketh me to sit down and do nothing for His names sake,
Because it requireth all my spare time.
It keepeth me from doing my duty as a Christian,
Because it presenteth so may good shows that I must see.
It restoreth my knowledge of things of the world,
and keepeth me from the study of God's Word.
It leadeth me away from the path of planning to attend the evening worship services, and doing nothing in the Kingdom of God.
Yea though I live to be a hundred, I shall keep on viewing my T.V.
as long as it will work, for it is my closest companion.
Its sound and its pictures, they comfort me.
It presenteth entertainment before me, and keepeth me
from doing important things with my family.
It fills my head with ideas which differ from those set forth in the Word of God.
Surely, no good thing will come of my life, because my T.V. offereth me
no good time to do the will of God;
thus will I dwell in the place of the Devil and his angels forever.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Is Sin Worth It?
This morning driving down the highway on my way to church I noticed that the highway department had very recently painted the center line anew with its bright yellow markings. What caught my attention was not the newly painted center line, but the evidence of where drivers had crossed the center line (allegedly) passing other vehicles. Funny how fresh paint leaves evidence of misdeeds. It was quite apparent that both 4 wheel vehicles and transport drivers alike crossed the center line passing others on the double solid line and on curves.
I recently read where someone said that these markings and the posted speed limit signs are suggested speeds and suggested places to pass or not pass. Well although I might laugh at such a remark, it is no laughing matter at all. These markings and signs are there not for a suggestion, but for our safety. They are also unspoken laws for which we are to obey. Where there are solid double lines painted on the road, it is not a suggestion, it is the law. Why, because to pass another in these places is to take the risk of having a head on collision with another vehicle. They are there because there is not sufficient visibility to pass another especially near curves and or hills.
I do not know how many times I have seen folks disobeying and taking a chance passing at unsafe places. I have come close many times to getting involved in an accident because someone else was too impatient to wait to pass at another area where it was safe to do so.
In scriptures, God also has given us His laws to live by. These are not suggestions. These are laws. And likewise as above, they are there for our protection, for our safety.
Since the days of Adam and Eve, man has disregarded Gods laws and gone his own way as if God was only suggesting that we do as He says. Proverbs 14:12 spells it straight for us. It says: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”. NKJ When we disobey highway markings and road signs we are risking not only our own lives, but also the lives of others. Likewise when we disobey the ways and laws of God, we also risk our lives and the lives of others.
However, there is also one major difference between man’s highway laws and God’s laws. Whereas we can disobey the road signs, and perhaps get away with it because the law is not watching, when we disobey God, He sees all. You cannot get away with your sins. He may not punish you immediately or even within a year. But be sure you sins shall catch up to you.
“Behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure, your sins will find you out.” Numbers 32:23 b KJV
God will indeed visit your sins some day and you will indeed pay the price.
When we disobey the road laws we may get caught, perhaps pay a fine, perhaps do jail time. This is only a temporary punishment. But if you disobey God, the punishment depending on the situation could be eternal. Is it worth the risk of disobeying God? Eternal punishment is obviously not a temporary punishment. It is forever and forever and forever. That is a very, very, very long time.
Tell me, is it worth the risk of disobeying God only to face the possibility of eternal punishment, of eternal banishment from His presence in the furnace of hell, forever being tormented with no chance of relief from pain and torment? Is it worth the risk of facing God and having Him say to you; “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” Matt.25:41 KJV We shall, to be sure, one day stand before God and give an account of our lives.
Perhaps your sins are not so severe. But still. If you continue in your sins, you will one day be punished and God will take away your portion of rewards. Is it worth the risk?
Which of the following will hear Jesus say of you?
Luke 6:22-26 King James Version (KJV):
“22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.
24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep.
26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets”
Perhaps we shall be of those if we obey to whom it is said:
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:1-2 (KJV)
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” Heb. 12:28
As for me I would like to be receiving the good reward.
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” Rev. 22:12 KJV
So think about it. Is it really worth continuing on in your sins only to be found out and punished by a fearful God?
Hebrews 10 (KJV):
“10 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.
3 But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.
7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God.
8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;
9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins:
12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.
14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,
16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.
19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
21 And having an high priest over the house of God;
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
King James Version (KJV)
"24 And Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
3 And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
4 And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
5 I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
6 And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
7 And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
8 And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other side Jordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
9 Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
10 But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
11 And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
13 And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
14 Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the Lord, to serve other gods;
17 For the Lord our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the Lord drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the Lord; for he is our God.
19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20 If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the Lord.
22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the Lord, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and set them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
26 And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God, and took a great stone, and set it up there under an oak, that was by the sanctuary of the Lord.
27 And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us: it shall be therefore a witness unto you, lest ye deny your God.
28 So Joshua let the people depart, every man unto his inheritance.
29 And it came to pass after these things, that Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died, being an hundred and ten years old.
30 And they buried him in the border of his inheritance in Timnathserah, which is in mount Ephraim, on the north side of the hill of Gaash.
31 And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord, that he had done for Israel.”
32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.
33 And Eleazar the son of Aaron died; and they buried him in a hill that pertained to Phinehas his son, which was given him in mount Ephraim."
St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology
The Christian Post
Peter Horrobin - Sex & the Demonic
David Kyle Foster: The Importance of Repentance
David Kyle Foster: Deliverance & the Demonic
David Kyle Foster: The Part Played in Freedom by the Cross of Jesus
We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) March 24, 2013
Dr. Michael Brown: Leviticus Laws & Homosexuality
The Hearts of the Fathers
What Are the Saints Saying?
What the Saints say about the sin of WANTED and ACTED UPON homosexuality:
The Code of Canon Law undertaken at the initiative and encouragement of Saint Pius X, and published in 1917 by his successor Pope Benedict XV, says this: “So far as laymen are concerned, the sin of sodomy is punished ipso facto with the pain of infamy and other sanctions to be applied according to the prudent judgment of the Bishop depending on the gravity of each case (Can. 2357). As for ecclesiastics and religious, if they are clerici minoris [that is, of the degree lower than deacon], let them be punished with various measures, proportional to the gravity of the fault, that can even include dismissal from the clerical state (Can. 2358); if they are clerici maiores [that is, deacons, priests or bishops], let them ‘be declared infamous and suspended from every post, benefit, dignity, deprived of their eventual stipend and, in the gravest cases, let them be deposed’ (Can. 2359, par. 2)”
Tertullian, the great apologist of the Church in the second century, writes: “All other frenzies of lusts which exceed the laws of nature and are impious toward both bodies and the sexes we banish … from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.” (Tertullian, De pudicitia, IV, in J. McNeil, op. cit., p. 89)
Saint Basil of Caesarea, the fourth century Church Father who wrote the principal rule of the monks of the East, establishes this: “The cleric or monk who molests youths or boys or is caught kissing or committing some turpitude, let him be whipped in public, deprived of his crown [tonsure] and, after having his head shaved, let his face be covered with spittle; and [let him be] bound in iron chains, condemned to six months in prison, reduced to eating rye bread once a day in the evening three times per week. After these six months living in a separate cell under the custody of a wise elder with great spiritual experience, let him be subjected to prayers, vigils and manual work, always under the guard of two spiritual brothers, without being allowed to have any relationship … with young people.” (St. Basil of Caesarea, in St. Peter Damien, Liber Gomorrhianus, op. cit. cols. 174f.)
Saint Augustine is categorical in the combat against sodomy and similar vices. The great Bishop of Hippo writes: “Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed. If all nations committed them, all alike would be held guilty of the same charge in God’s law, for our Maker did not prescribe that we should use each other in this way. In fact, the relationship that we ought to have with God is itself violated when our nature, of which He is Author, is desecrated by perverted lust.” Further on he reiterates: “Your punishments are for sins which men commit against themselves, because, although they sin against You, they do wrong in their own souls and their malice is self-betrayed. They corrupt and pervert their own nature, which You made and for which You shaped the rules, either by making wrong use of the things which You allow, or by becoming inflamed with passion to make unnatural use of things which You do not allow” (Rom. 1:26). (St. Augustine, Confessions, Book III, chap.
Saint John Chrysostom denounces homosexual acts as being contrary to nature. Commenting on the Epistle to the Romans (1: 26-27), he says that the pleasures of sodomy are an unpardonable offense to nature and are doubly destructive, since they threaten the species by deviating the sexual organs away from their primary procreative end and they sow disharmony between men and women, who no longer are inclined by physical desire to live together in peace.
The brilliant Patriarch of Constantinople employs most severe words for the vice we are analyzing. Saint John Chrysostom makes this strong argument: “All passions are dishonorable, for the soul is even more prejudiced and degraded by sin than is the body by disease; but the worst of all passions is lust between men…. The sins against nature are more difficult and less rewarding, since true pleasure is only the one according to nature. But when God abandons a man, everything is turned upside down! Therefore, not only are their passions [of the homosexuals] satanic, but their lives are diabolic….. So I say to you that these are even worse than murderers, and that it would be better to die than to live in such dishonor. A murderer only separates the soul from the body, whereas these destroy the soul inside the body….. There is nothing, absolutely nothing more mad or damaging than this perversity.” (St. John Chrysostom, In Epistulam ad Romanos IV, in J. McNeill, op. cit., pp. 89-90)
Saint Gregory the Great delves deeper into the symbolism of the fire and brimstone that God used to punish the sodomites: “Brimstone calls to mind the foul odors of the flesh, as Sacred Scripture itself confirms when it speaks of the rain of fire and brimstone poured by the Lord upon Sodom. He had decided to punish in it the crimes of the flesh, and the very type of punishment emphasized the shame of that crime, since brimstone exhales stench and fire burns. It was, therefore, just that the sodomites, burning with perverse desires that originated from the foul odor of flesh, should perish at the same time by fire and brimstone so that through this just chastisement they might realize the evil perpetrated under the impulse of a perverse desire.” (St. Gregory the Great, Commento morale a Giobbe, XIV, 23, vol. II, p. 371, Ibid., p. 7)
Saint Peter Damian’s Liber Gomorrhianus [Book of Gomorrha], addressed to Pope Leo IX in the year 1051, is considered the principal work against homosexuality. It reads: “Just as Saint Basil establishes that those who incur sins [against nature] … should be subjected not only to a hard penance but a public one, and Pope Siricius prohibits penitents from entering clerical orders, one can clearly deduce that he who corrupts himself with a man through the ignominious squalor of a filthy union does not deserve to exercise ecclesiastical functions, since those who were formerly given to vices … become unfit to administer the Sacraments.” (St. Peter Damian, op. cit., cols. 174f)
St. Peter Damian also writes:
“This vice strives to destroy the walls of one’s heavenly motherland and rebuild those of devastated Sodom. Indeed, it violates temperance, kills purity, stifles chastity and annihilates virginity ... with the sword of a most infamous union. It infects, stains and pollutes everything; it leaves nothing pure, there is nothing but filth ... This vice expels one from the choir of the ecclesiastical host and obliges one to join the energumens and those who work in league with the devil; it separates the soul from God and links it with the demons. This most pestiferous queen of the Sodomites [which is homosexuality] makes those who obey her tyrannical laws repugnant to men and hateful to God ... It humiliates at church, condemns at court, defiles in secret, dishonors in public, gnaws at the person’s conscience like a worm and burns his flesh like fire... “The miserable flesh burns with the fire of lust, the cold intelligence trembles under the rancor of suspicion, and the unfortunate man’s heart is possessed by hellish chaos, and his pains of conscience are as great as the tortures in punishment he will suffer ... Indeed, this scourge destroys the foundations of faith, weakens the force of hope, dissipates the bonds of charity, annihilates justice, undermines fortitude, ... and dulls the edge of prudence. “What else shall I say? It expels all the forces of virtue from the temple of the human heart and, pulling the door from its hinges, introduces into it all the barbarity of vice ... In effect, the one whom ... this atrocious beast [of homosexuality] has swallowed down its bloody throat is prevented, by the weight of his chains, from practicing all good works and is precipitated into the very abysses of its uttermost wickedness. Thus, as soon as someone has fallen into this chasm of extreme perdition, he is exiled from the heavenly motherland, separated from the Body of Christ, confounded by the authority of the whole Church, condemned by the judgment of all the Holy Fathers, despised by men on earth, and reproved by the society of heavenly citizens. He creates for himself an earth of iron and a sky of bronze ... He cannot be happy while he lives nor have hope when he dies, because in life he is obliged to suffer the ignominy of men’s derision and later, the torment of eternal condemnation” (Liber Gomorrhianus, in PL 145, col. 159-178).
Saint Albert the Great gives four reasons why he considers homosexual acts as the most detestable ones: They are born from an ardent frenzy; they are disgustingly foul; those who become addicted to them are seldom freed from that vice; they are as contagious as disease, passing quickly from one person to another. (St. Albert the Great, In Evangelium Lucae XVII, 29, in J. McNeill, op. cit., p. 95)
Saint Thomas Aquinas, writing about sins against nature, explains: “However, they are called passions of ignominy because they are not worthy of being named, according to that passage in Ephesians (5:12): ‘For the things that are done by them in secret, it is a shame even to speak of.’ For if the sins of the flesh are commonly censurable because they lead man to that which is bestial in him, much more so is the sin against nature, by which man debases himself lower than even his animal nature.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Super Epistulas Sancti Pauli Ad Romanum I, 26, pp. 27f)
Saint Bonaventure, speaking in a sermon at the church of Saint Mary of Portiuncula about the miracles that took place simultaneously with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, narrates this: “Seventh prodigy: All sodomites—men and women—died all over the earth, as Saint Jerome said in his commentary on the psalm ‘The light was born for the just.’ This made it clear that He was born to reform nature and promote chastity.” (St. Bonaventure, Sermon XXI—In Nativitate Domini, in Catolicismo (Campos/Sao Paulo), December 1987, p. 3; F. Bernardei, op. cit., p. 11)
Saint Catherine of Siena, a religious mystic of the 14 th century, relays words of Our Lord Jesus Christ about the vice against nature, which contaminated part of the clergy in her time. Referring to sacred ministers, He says: “They not only fail from resisting this frailty [of fallen human nature] … but do even worse as they commit the cursed sin against nature. Like the blind and stupid, having dimmed the light of their understanding, they do not recognize the disease and misery in which they find themselves. For this not only causes Me nausea, but displeases even the demons themselves, whom these miserable creatures have chosen as their lords. For Me, this sin against nature is so abominable that, for it alone, five cities were submersed, by virtue of the judgment of My Divine Justice, which could no longer bear them…. It is disagreeable to the demons, not because evil displeases them and they find pleasure in good, but because their nature is angelic and thus is repulsed upon seeing such an enormous sin being committed. It is true that it is the demon who hits the sinner with the poisoned arrow of lust, but when a man carries out such a sinful act, the demon leaves.” (St. Catherine of Siena, El diálogo, in Obras de Santa Catarina de Siena (Madrid: BAC, 1991), p. 292)
Saint Bernardine of Siena, a preacher of the fifteenth century, makes an accurate psychological analysis of the consequences of the homosexual vice. The illustrious Franciscan writes: “No sin has greater power over the soul than the one of cursed sodomy, which was always detested by all those who lived according to God….. Such passion for undue forms borders on madness. This vice disturbs the intellect, breaks an elevated and generous state of soul, drags great thoughts to petty ones, makes [men] pusillanimous and irascible, obstinate and hardened, servilely soft and incapable of anything. Furthermore, the will, being agitated by the insatiable drive for pleasure, no longer follows reason, but furor…. Someone who lived practicing the vice of sodomy will suffer more pains in Hell than any one else, because this is the worst sin that there is.” (St. Bernardine of Siena, Predica XXXIX, in Le prediche volgari (Milan: Rizzoli, 1936), pp. 869ff., 915, in F. Bernadei, op. cit., pp. 11f)
How Should the Church (Re-)Act When It Comes to Same-Sex Attractions?
When it comes to same-sex attractions, churches tend to (re-)act in completely different and mostly opposing ways:
1) There are churches who completely affirm all kind of same-sex behavior and relationships (usually referred to as “gay marriage”). Their theology goes somewhat like this: God gave those people same-sex attractions and this is why it also is alright with Him to live that way. Besides, Jesus is all about love and when people (no matter what sex they belong to) love one another, then this is fine with Him. Love can’t be wrong. Basically, those folks ground their theology on their personal experiences and emotions and interpret the Bible from that standpoint – instead of studying the Bible and living our lives according to the written and the living Word of God. God knew how deceitful our hearts and emotions can be and this is why He left us His written Word and also the Holy Spirit to guide His Church in order to give us something to hold on and to live by. Love as God sees it is not just a fuzzy feeling, but a life-giving, life-long, heterosexual & monogamous covenant where people give themselves (as opposed to a contract where people exchange property). A covenant that reflects the covenant of Christ with His Church.
2) Then you have churches that just don’t deal with same-sex attractions at all. Their view goes somewhat like this: We don’t have “that problem” and so we don’t need to talk about it. Also we don’t want to shy away people from our church services. The problem with that: First, every church that has a certain size is very likely to have “that problem”. Second, the church is not a hotel for saints, but a hospital for sinners. Obviously, it has greatly missed her job & vocation – else there wouldn’t be a need for ex-gay and purity ministries. Finally: Not talking about “the problem” does not make it go away. It does not help those concerned and also you will be very surprised when gay activists come breaking into your church doors someday, forcing you by law to hold same-sex “wedding ceremonies”.
3) Thirdly there are churches that seem have all the truth, but no grace at all. “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”, “We love the sinner, but hate the sin!”, “It’s wrong because the Bible says so!” and statements like that might characterize those churches. The problem here: We cannot start reaching out to people in need by telling them what not to do, even more so when this is done from a standpoint that makes the person who issues those statements look like he or she does not belong to that group of “poor little sinners”, that just need to be told they are wrong and just need to “say no”. That has little to nothing to do with the Christian faith the way Jesus taught it. First, we need to understand about God’s love and grace at first place –and if we do we can – and should! – pass it on to others the way Jesus did. Everything else flows out of this. Remember the prostitute that Jesus saved from being stoned? He did not tell her, “Haven’t you read the Thora? What you are doing is wrong! Beat it!”. No, Jesus saved her from certain death before she could even say beep. Only then did He tell her to go and sin no more. Love comes before everything else – a love without any conditions (“I love you, but…”).
4) Finally, you have the churches that do not only welcome people with open arms and a loving heart, but also go out to look for those in need before they even think about knocking on church doors. They do not only re-act, but act. They love those that others look down upon and they do this because Jesus loved us first.
Jesus showed mercy when it came to the fulfillment of the law. Shouldn’t we do the same?
Such arguments are sometimes brought up by Christians when it comes to divorce between a man and a woman or also living out one’s same-sex attractions.
So how about it? Should we?
In short: If you open that door, you will not be able to shut it anymore. That leaves room for all sorts of moral relativism. Basically what we are doing here is putting ourselves on the throne that only belongs to God.
Didn’t Jesus see the bigger meaning behind keeping the laws? Didn’t He blame the Pharisees for keeping the Sabbath at all costs when other things – like saving a human life – might be more important? Yes, He most certainly did. So why can’t we do the same? In some sense, we can and we should. Jesus told us the deeper meaning behind the Ten Commandments – which in a sense even made it harder for us. We are not simply a “good person” anymore for not killing anybody, we messed it up with God for not having protected human lives and stood up against abortion for instance. When Jesus was asked if it was lawful for a man to divorce from his wife under certain circumstances, He did not simply answer with “yes” or “no” – He went all the way back to quote the standard from Genesis. That ought to teach us something about the validity of certain laws and whether or not to go away from them. He did so not to show that He could also be unmerciful, but because He loves us and knows that everything else that is not in line with that standard is not what our loving Father wants for His children. It is not approved by God and will have consequences for us.
So what if a couple just cannot live together anymore or the husband beats up his wife? Under certain circumstances it is necessary for them to separate for a limited period of time – to prevent further physical or emotional hurts. This is to be done with the prospect of getting back together again. If this does not work out – maybe because the husband fails to repent and would beat up his wife again – a permanent separation might be needed. However, this does not put an end to the marriage. Marriage is not a contract where we exchange properties, it is a life-giving covenant that reflects the covenant Jesus made with His bride the Church – He gave His life so we could live! There are no two covenants like that. This is not un-merciful – quite on the contrary. God does this because He loves us and knows what is best for us. Even if a second marriage is out of question, we can still have a fulfilled life following Jesus Christ!
So what about same-sex acts or couples? If they absolutely cannot change, would it not be appropriate to apply the same rules on those couples (fidelity, staying monogamous and the like)?
Where on earth do we get such ideas from? That is the way humans think, but certainly not God. Yes, we need to show mercy, but that means giving people with same-sex attractions (or heterosexual couples who are about to break up) unconditional love and support IN ORDER TO WALK ON THE RIGHT PATH AGAIN! God did not tell us THOU SHALT NOT DO THIS OR THAT – UNLESS YOU HAVE AN INCLINATION FOR IT OR YOU MISS TO MEET MY STANDARD – THEN YOU JUST SETTLE FOR LESS! What kind of theology is that? Shouldn’t sheperds who are responsible for their flock do everything to get them safely back home? God never gave us a standard that we cannot fulfill and there is no temptation that is big enough that we cannot resist it. Jesus died on the Cross for that.
You do not show “mercy” if you show people a back door in case they don’t meet God’s laws. I am sure everyone would have a good excuse why he or she needs to take the easy way out. It wasn’t “unmerciful” of God either to give His own Son to die for us on the Cross – how do we dare to settle with less then?
Remember when Jesus saved the prostitute’s life who was about to be stoned? When He told her accusers that the one who has no sins should throw the first stone? This is an excellent example: First, Jesus showed unconditional love: He saved the woman’s life before she could even say beep. But the story does not end here. He did not tell her well, in case you think this is the way you need to go and you just don’t get along with a life as I set it out for you, then go ahead. No, loving Jesus told her to go and sin no more. The same loving Jesus that spoke about hell like no other before.
So how about we see God’s laws as the manual of a loving Father that shows us how to get safely through the storms in life? God did not give us those laws because He likes to boss us around. They are not simply a long list of dos and don’ts. The Ten Commandments for example where given to the people of Israel in the context of their liberation from Egypt. Also those commandments are not simple a list of “negatives”, a list of things not to do. Each commandment of God has two sides – much like a coin. Think about “Thou shalt not kill” – that also means we should preserve life. He will not only hold us responsible for the bad things we did, but also for the good things we failed to do.
To cut a long story short: Mercy? Yes, but mercy God’s way. No back-doors anymore by watering down God’s Word.