Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Will homosexuality exclude someone from heaven?

Now that I’ve caught up on sleep a little bit, I want to get started on these incredible questions you folks have asked. I’m going to answer every one, even though it may take me into next week after yesterday’s events. I'll announce the winner after I've answered all the questions. Thanks again to those of you that expressed your concern. You’ll be glad to know that Wifey’s feeling a little better today, and even went into work for a couple of hours this afternoon before her night class.

Our first question is from rsfnat, who I eventually figured out is my dad. (Wait. That didn’t sound right. I knew who my dad was. I just didn’t know he was rfsnat. There were no blood tests or anything.) Here’s the question:

“…please reconcile the prevailing Christian opinion that gays will not go to heaven with John 3:16 and 17. This is not a "stumper" merely a question.”

This is particularly relevant today. In case you haven’t heard, today was a big news day in California, as the state Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. In case you’re not familiar with the situation, let me give you a little history. (If you know all this, just skip down.)

1999: California institutes domestic partnerships as recognized legal unions open to homosexual couples.

March 7, 2000: California Proposition 22 passes by a 61.4% majority in a statewide vote. The proposition defined marriage as being between a man and a woman. (Marriage is generally understood as distinct from domestic partnership.)

May 15, 2008: The California Supreme Court rules that Proposition 22 is unconstitutional (per the state constitution—not the national one). Proposition 22 is overturned.

November 4, 2008: Proposition 8 passes a simple majority vote among registered California voters. The proposition amends the state constitution to read, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” That language was taken directly from Proposition 22.

November 5, 2008: Opponents of Proposition 8 file suit with the California Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8 on the basis of the “Equal Protection Clause,” and argue that Prop 8 should have been a constitutional revision, as opposed to a constitutional amendment, and should require a 2/3 majority vote as opposed to a simple majority.

Today (May 26, 2009): The California Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8, precluding the possibility of future same-sex marriages in California, but recognizing those same-sex marriages performed prior to the passage of Proposition 8.

So California won’t be doing any same-sex marriages for a while, but still allows for domestic partnerships. This really isn’t about people getting in to see their partners in hospital rooms. They can already do that. It’s more about the word and the idea. It does, however, have a few important ramifications. Most importantly to me, I don’t have to worry that my pastor will be accused of discrimination if he refuses to perform a same-sex marriage.

The scripture passage Dad mentions is John 3:16-17. I’ll hit you with it in the KJV. Why not.

3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

And while we’re at it, we should probably read at least one of the passages that deals with homosexuality. Here’s Romans 1:26-27, again from the KJV:

1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Of all the verses on this subject, I think this one is the most clear. We don’t have to debate the meaning of effeminate or sodomy or anything. Verse 27 talks about men lusting after other men, and…doing stuff, and Paul identifies that as error. I think that at least is pretty clear.

John 3:16 is telling us that everyone who believes in Jesus gets everlasting life, and verse 17 says that God’s motive in sending Jesus was to save the world and not condemn it.

Dad asked me to reconcile the idea that “gays” won’t go to heaven with that passage. And I think it can be done. The first step is to stop identifying them as “gays” or “homosexuals” or a bunch of other words I won’t say here. (There are more words all the time, and they’re owned by the homosexual community. The Gay Student Organization [GSO] at most universities became the Gay Bi Lesbian Student Organization [GLBSO] and expanded from there. These days they’re sometimes referred to as “Alphabet Groups” because of all the letters in their group names [GLBQUX$#SO, or whatever].)

I don’t like to call someone a gay or a homosexual. It’s like that’s all they are or something. And I think it’s helpful, especially in an environment of fear, misunderstanding, and prejudice, to see the person first. So I prefer “homosexual person” to “homosexual.”

That’s important here, because I don’t want to identify a person by something Paul calls error. I believe my words have power. I believe naming has power. And so I exercise that belief here.

Let’s look at John 3:16-17 again, this time in a new version called The Expanded Bible:

If we were to really narrow down what this passage is saying, I think it might be something like, “God gave his son to save everyone who believes in him, not to condemn the world.” Is that fair? Because if that’s the message here, our response should be to do likewise.

I’m not saying Christians can’t speak up in moral matters. I’m just saying that if we’re focusing on condemnation of the homosexual community rather than the salvation of homosexual people, we’re really missing the point.

Will we see some people in heaven that identified themselves in life as homosexual? I think so. I like the Roman Catholic position on salvation. There are a few people we’re sure of, but for most people we can only guess. Only God knows.

For me, the most educated guess I can make is based on choices in life. Heaven is a place where God’s will is done, where we experience God in full measure, as God is rather than how we’d like God to be. Hell is the alternative. Hell is God’s way of saying, “Ok. If you want things your way, I’m sad, but that’s fine.”

As for me, I’m gonna do my best to love homosexual people enough to give them everything I’ve got, like God did (and does).

There ya go. Reconciled.

Love you Dad,


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