Friday, May 16, 2008

A Tumor May Be a Part of the Body, But....!

But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves; they are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. --- Jude 1:5-13

There was a great multitude of comments following a "witness" at the United Methodist General Conference on May 1 by those who practice sodomy and lesbianism along with their supporters. Certain votes related to the issue of human sexuality did not sit well with those who want the UMC to place its "blessing" on the practice of sodomy and lesbianism, accept such persons into the ordained ministry of the UMC, accept "unions" of such persons until such time as legal marriage for them is established, acknowledge the legitimacy of such "couples" raising children and their being identified as "family" in the same sense as a heterosexual couple which is married and raising children whom they have conceived in their marriage.

Hence, the protesting which of course disrupted the proceedings of the conference. But it appears to have been quite acceptable due to the "demonstration" having been negotiated with the Council of Bishops. We have long since learned, have we not, that what the bishops do, singly or collectively, is to be considered the "right thing" and if we march in lock step as we are expected to do, then that is the final word on the matter. But as pointed out elsewhere in this blog, there are times when the bishops choose to remain silent on very critical moral issues that impact our culture.

It was stressed that this was a moment of the body "hurting" in this struggle -- and on basis of the Corinthian reference that when one part "hurts" then all the parts "hurt" together, etc.

We have fast progressed (or is it more accurate to say, "regressed") to the point that sexual immorality is no longer considered to be "immorality" -- therefore, one can overstep God's boundary lines on sexual activity and it is no longer considered offensive to God, because we have reestablished those boundary lines by human edict and what formerly was an abomination no longer is so!

We now say simply that we have some disagreement on these matters and efforts have been made to "adjust" the UMC Book of Discipline to reflect this view. But as one reads the many laments on how the votes turned out, we then try to make the best of a bad situation -- the body is hurting!

Medical history shows us that sometimes the body can be afflicted with a tumor that is destructive -- it has cells and is living in the body, but its effect on the body is extremely harmful.

Jesus, as well as authors of New Testament writings, warned of those who would bring false teachings and have a malignant influence within the church that is called by Him to advance His Kingdom and proclaim His eternal truth.

Peter made a statement which clearly identifies the situation we are facing:

We also have the prophetic word made more sure, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. --- 2 Peter 1:19 - 2:3

I am fully aware to speak of these things in such a manner I will instantly be labeled as being "homophobic" and "mean-spirited" -- a hater of those who are practicing a same-gender coupling way of life!

I presently am pastor of a small church. Those who live as described above are welcome to my church anytime and the members of the congregation will also welcome those individuals. Never will we ever say, "You are not welcome in this place!"

But, on the other hand, do not expect us to condone your way of life if you engage in sexual activity with a person who is the same sex as you. And when it comes to the serving of the Lord's Supper, the condition is the same for you as it is for all of us, pastor included -- we are to repent of all sins before receiving the symbols which represent the broken body and shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Does not the ritual in the United Methodist Church mention something about persons earnestly repenting of their sins before partaking of the elements? Here is how it is worded in one of the rituals:

Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbors, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in His holy ways: draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort, and make your humble confession to Almighty God.

As mentioned in another posting or so, if I had to repent of my sins (including those sexual in nature) why do those who engage in same-sex sin not have to repent? Then again, maybe the above paragraph has been conveniently omitted and is considered no longer relevant when it comes to observance of the Lord's Supper!

What's that? It's not sin when a "couple" is in a committed monogamous "relationship?" Since when did God move that boundary?

Now then -- think on this -- you go to the doctor -- some tests are done -- the results are in, and you have a tumor growing rapidly in your abdomen. It's in your body and in a sense, it's part of your body -- but do you want it to remain there? If the doctor says, "We need to do surgery and remove the tumor." What would your response be?

The church is a spiritual body -- what should be done about the tumors?

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters," says the LORD Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. --- 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1

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