Right, I need to get this out of my head before I settle to writing my novel. (That sounds so much more impressive than it is!)
After my post on Tuesday about confidence knockers - there's something very Carry On about that sentence - it was apt that in the bible study we looked at a section from John's letter where he is assuring believers they can have confidence. (In Christ and their eternal future rather than in their own abilities in this case obviously.)
One of the reasons for John's letter was the inaccuracies and untruths being put about by the newly-rising sect, the Gnostics who had some interesting beliefs. For example they believed that all spirit was good and all flesh evil and therefore it didn't matter what you did with your physical body as it was evil and destined for hell anyway, thus giving approval to all types of immoral behaviour.
But they also denied the deity of Jesus and John seeks to reassure followers of Christ that he was there, he saw it happen and that they can believe the truth of what he and the other apostles are teaching. Those that believe in the name of the Son of God can know that they have eternal life.
Which brought a sudden clarity to my mind about another issue that has been troubling me. Not troubling exactly but concerning.
I've been following and occasionally joining in a debate, mainly on Facebook, about gays in the church.
If you read the bible passages that particularly refer to homosexuality there's no doubt it's considered a sin. And, naturally, it's to these passages that the anti-gays refer. When I say anti-gays I don't mean that they are anti the people involved but that they insist it's a sin and needs to be dealt with. I hope in their dealings with gays they are compassionate and I'm certain that one person in particular, JT, the one I know best, is. He taught me a lot when I first became a Christian and I'm happy to acknowledge that.
But when John quotes the references and puts forward his very accurate and carefully-researched evidence all I can think is, what would Jesus say?
What did Jesus say? Oh, yes, nothing. Nothing that is recorded in the bible anyway. But we can know what he would have thought about homosexuality, JT says, because he grew up learning from the old testament and as the bible tells us he knew it thoroughly and was able to debate with senior teachers and leaders when he was only a 12-year-old. And they were impressed.
But it's not just the fact that he said nothing that makes me wonder. It's his unfortunate habit of inclusion that upset the pharisees and leaders of the day - and also that we try to emulate at Zac's. Everyone that was considered an outcast from prostitute to tax collector to thief on the cross to leper to bleeding woman, Jesus made straight for and brought into his circle.
Ah but, JT says, he tells the sinners to go and sin no more. Yes, he does, which doesn't bode well for me, a practising sinner. And now I could go into the repentance and wanting forgiveness bit but that will all get a bit complicated. So instead I'll go back to whether homosexuality is a sin.
If it is, it is not for me to judge my neighbour. When we become Christians we should change. God working in our lives brings to our attention things we do that perhaps we shouldn't. And we want to change. And sometimes we try. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail but the point is that it is God who nudges us, if you like, and says, 'Hm, dodgy maybe? Someone's going to get hurt by your action?'
And that's another thing: promiscuous homosexual behaviour is bad as is heterosexual promiscuity. But two people in a stable relationship loving each other? How can that be bad?
All sin is sin in God's eyes but the church seems to overlook that and focus on specifics, such as what it sees as human immorality.
Gosh, I'm rabbiting on here and not in scholarly researched way. I'm not wise; my arguments could be torn to shreds by ... most anybody really.
But to get back to Tuesday and the sudden seeing of the light. John the apostle at the end of his first letter says, 'I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know you have eternal life.' Suddenly so simple. No addendum that says unless you're gay.
God works on us in his time. We are growing into the people he made us to be and he will sort us out; whatever he thinks needs correcting in our lives he'll let us know. Gently, lovingly, patiently.