Friday, June 26, 2015

Homosexuality

A dear friend mentioned once that she would like me to write a post on this topic (we have had many long discussions about this, and we disagree quite a bit, so a whole post will hopefully make my stance more clear), but I've taken a long time to get into it. With the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, I'm finally motivated to finish this (extremely long) post. (I promise, I did edit it.)

 First of all, let's address the "why are you picking on homosexuals/LGBTQ?" question. I know this is a bit "same old, same old," but I think this has to be addressed as kind of a disclaimer. I would hope I speak for the majority of true Christians when I say, we're really not. Homosexuality (and other sexual perversions) is so big because we're being forced to take a stand, or join their side. "Tolerance" is no longer enough, they are now trying to force Christians to celebrate and participate. So, we are not trying to "pick on" homosexuality, it's just being instigated by the LGBTQ community.

Now, let's get on to an argument. Possibly the most confusing argument I've struggled with is the claim that Christians aren't supposed to "judge" others. (I do believe we are called judge other Christians in the Church, but that's a different topic.) To understand the confusion, let's look at all the definitions of the word from Merriam-Webster:

judge

transitive verb
1
:  to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises
2
:  to sit in judgment on :  try
3
:  to determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation
4
:  govern, rule —used of a Hebrew tribal leader
5
:  to form an estimate or evaluation of; especially :  to form a negative opinion about "shouldn't judge him because of his accent"
6
:  to hold as an opinion :  guess, think "I judge she knew what she was doing"
intransitive verb
1
:  to form an opinion
2
:  to decide as a judge 

The first and sixth transitive and first intransitive verbs obviously, everyone does, you have to eventually come up with and hold an opinion. But if your opinion is not the politically correct one, you will be accused of "judging." This form of judgment is necessary intellectually however, we can't simply be mindless and have no thought on the subject, no matter how nice it would be if there were no disagreement. 

The fifth transitive verb here I think we should all be able to agree Christians should avoid. We should not have a negative opinion of anyone because of their sin, we should remember that we have all sinned, and God loves us all equally; He wants to save every other sinner in the world as much as He wanted to save me. Unfortunately, if you believe that homosexuality is wrong, many people will insist that this kind of judgment necessarily follows, but it doesn't.


The second and third transitive and second intransitive verbs are the meaning I believe occurs in Matthew 7, the sense of judging someone's guilt, and measuring their punishment, which I do not believe we should do either. But progressives want us to say that homosexuality is good, which I can't do without violating my first kind of judgment.

I struggled to understand the distinction for a while, and finally, God gave me this insight. Once He did I was amazed that it had never struck me before: if I tell a homosexual that they're fine the way they are, that is judging. 

 It is a pronouncement of pardon from me that I have no authority to give - saying that they deserve no punishment. I'm not pronouncing anyone guilty of homosexuality either. I'm not asking for evidence, what they have and have not done, I'm not trying to peer into their hearts, minds and lives and decide if they've committed that sin or not. That's God's job. I'm not judging any person innocent or guilty, all I'm doing is reminding everyone what the Bible says: all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23) and I believe the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin: 

 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. - Romans 1:26-27

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. - 1 Timothy 1:8-11

Now, the guilt comes from claiming the action, so I think that's what makes it so confusing. If I'm going around openly telling people I'm a thief, and someone reminds me that stealing is against the law, it may feel like they're "judging" me, but all they are doing is stating a fact - stealing is wrong. Stating that is not a wrong judgment, simply the truth. I proclaimed myself guilty of stealing by labeling myself a thief.

I hope that all makes sense. Stating that the Bible says homosexuality is a sin is not the wrong kind of judgment; it's my belief, formed by the discerning sort of judgment. As Christians, we can't distort the word of God and excuse or accept homosexuality as not sinful, because it's not the truth. It would certainly be much easier to embrace homosexuality as good than to stand against the flood of this perversion in our society. But we are called to stand on God's word, and I believe it is clear.


Now, the next argument is that calling homosexuality a sin is not loving. This is complicated because non-Christians seem to have a different definition than the Biblical definition, but it's easy to clear up. Their definition appears to go something like this:

Loving
: anything that makes me feel good, anything that induces happiness, exclusively limited to actions/words that I like, or want to hear.

Whereas the Christian definition of loving behavior is different.

Loving 
: anything that seeks the ultimate good of the recipient. 

We are to speak the truth in love. In the name of "love," homosexuals have convinced some Christians not to speak the truth, and even to compromise on what "truth" is! As Christians, I believe it's vital that we stand firm on the truth of the Bible. It's loving to be clear about sin because it's ultimately for the eternal good of every sinner if they are convicted of their sin, and turn to Jesus in repentance for salvation. I would rather make you feel sad, and say something you might not want to hear right now than stay silent and risk letting you die in your sin without knowing the truth. That may not seem loving to progressives by their definition, but it is truly loving by the Bible's definition.

Let's not get stuck on the merry-go-round anymore. We can go in circles arguing about homosexuality, what's loving, what's judging, but none of that is the really important part. It doesn't matter what your sins are, it only matters that, wherever you are searching for completion, whatever you do to try and satisfy that deep longing of your heart - nothing will fill it but the love of Jesus. He loves you so much that He paid your debt, and made pardon freely available for you. You can do nothing to earn it, you simply must confess and believe. (Romans 10:9-10). 

Stealing, homosexuality, lying, murder, adultery, child molestation, covetousness, alcoholism, hypocrisy, whatever your sins, no matter how dark, it doesn't matter how strong the chains are holding you, Jesus died to break them, and you can be free! I have been forgiven, redeemed, and all the gross sin that polluted my heart has been washed away by the blood of Jesus. I know what this glorious, exhilarating freedom feels like, and I know the wonderful, vast, indescribable love of my risen Savior, and I want everyone in the world to experience this matchless grace.

22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. - Romans 3:22-25

In the end, if I managed to convince anyone that homosexuality was wrong, but didn't show them Jesus, they would just find something else to try and fill the void. Brothers and sisters, we should not be distracted by any topic. The Bruce Jenner/Caitlyn transgender situation was popular recently too, but that should be just another introduction to sharing the gospel, not an argument we need to win. Bruce wants a "new self" and he hopes that living as a woman will give him the chance to live a new life. It won't work; it's still the same heart, and no one can escape the chains of their past sins on their own. The only way we become a new person is by taking Jesus.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." - 2 Corinthians 5:17

" I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

Speak the word of life, and don't let it be hampered and buried by useless arguments. There is power in His name. There is power in the gospel. Whatever the argument, our focal point and conclusion should always be Jesus Christ.

"Yes, _______ is a sin, BUT! Jesus saves!"

Monday, June 8, 2015

10 Favorite Screen Characters Tag

My lovely sister Sarah at How To Watch a Movie tagged me. Be sure to check out her post, because she really knows how to pick characters, and articulate why she likes them!

I'm not so great at explaining why I like characters, and I'm afraid most of my choices will be a bit predictable and cliche, but all the same I'm looking forward to thinking about some of my favorites for my own amusement, and maybe you'll enjoy it too! 

(This is not actually my top 10, just some of my favorite characters off the top of my head, and they are in no particular order, really)



Miss Elizabeth Bennet
Jane Austen wrote what is arguably her best novel, and the main character just happens to share my first name... how could she not be the first that comes to my mind? Of course, as a Pride and Prejudice 1995 fan, this strictly applies to Jennifer Ehle's Lizzy; cultured but playful, enthusiastic and passionate, sparkling eyes, sophistication but no superficiality, honest and sincere, although a little prejudiced and too quick to judge. She laughs off Mr. Darcy's "not handsome enough to tempt me" comment so much more easily than I should be able to do.

Miss Elinor Dashwood
Okay, this whole list won't be Austen characters, I promise, but I have to include Hattie Morahan's Elinor from Sense and Sensibility (2008) as well, because I would wish for myself to be the perfect mix of her and Lizzy, they have many similar characteristics in my opinion (sophistication without superficiality, honesty and sincerity) but Elinor is more calm and serene, more sensible and steady, and has more control over her thoughts and emotions than Lizzy. To keep Lucy's secret so steadfastly, even though the knowledge of it caused her immense pain, and to have such control over herself that not even those closest to her could discover her heartbreak? So inspiring... I don't think I could do it. Especially for someone like Lucy, I don't think I would be able to refrain from telling my sister, especially when the confidence was forced on me like that!

Gilbert Blythe
Everybody is supposed to likes Anne, right? And I'm a redhead, so she should be my favorite from Anne of Green Gables, right? But I have three major qualms with Anne: 1) she doesn't appreciate her red hair, like I do, 2) she berates the spelling of Ann with no 'e,' which is how my middle name is spelled, and 3) she doesn't appreciate Gil nearly enough! He is my favorite character, and as a younger girl, I always wished and dreamed that I could have that kind of growing-up-with-the-man-you-eventually-marry experience. (Unfortunately, I am now 24 and none of the potential candidates from my childhood stuck around to my adult life. Oh well!) He's so sweet, and very determined, even though Anne rebuffs him over and over! I just don't understand why it takes her so long to realize how wonderful he is. (Very sad that the actor died recently, but that did not influence his standing as one of my favorite characters.)

Matt Murdock
Tall, dark and melancholy... hmm, maybe I do agree with Anne a little. Although I think I'd pick Gil first, Matt Murdock certainly has some first rate qualities, and is an extremely interesting character with his nearly conflicting day job and night activities. When he talks about the "devil inside" it's a little frightening, but the mild, quiet and kind lawyer of the day makes up for the dark and dangerous nighttime vigilante. Charlie Cox has some awesome facial expressions, especially since he doesn't really get to use his eyes. A new favorite character, and I'm looking forward to more from Daredevil!

Captain America
Yes, I like Captain America best of all the Avengers. Maybe he's a little old-fashioned... I don't care, I like old-fashioned, and he is from the past after all! He's also gentlemanly, chivalrous, kind, courageous and generally awesome. It makes me so sad that he didn't get to have his dance with Peggy, and I want him to find another girl, but at the same time, I don't. I've heard he might die in one of the films coming up in the next couple of years (depending on how closely they mimic the comics) and that is just heart-breaking to me! I hope they don't do it. But shh, I have to keep it a secret that I like him so much, my little brother likes to rant about how much he dislikes Cap... more stabs to my heart. No matter how hard we try, we can't get him to appreciate that Cap's strength of character is what TRULY makes him a superhero, and far outweighs the genetic modification that makes him LOOK like a superhero and gives him physical strength to match his character.

Arthur Clennam
 Little Dorrit is my favorite Dickens story so far, and while I love Amy, Arthur has to be my favorite character from the story. He's so gentle and kind-hearted, and the only thing I don't like about him is how much he likes Pet at first! How he could fall in love with her instead of Amy in the first place, I'll never understand. But at least he comes around finally... but then he won't marry Amy when he's stuck in the Marshalsea! Okay, so there's two things I don't like about him... but at least he refuses to marry Amy for what he thinks is her good. And spoiler, it all works out in the end, you know I can't stand unhappy endings. He's thoughtful, considerate, quiet and so heart-wrenchingly adorable, played amazingly by Matthew MacFadyen (who redeemed himself completely in my opinion through this role). 


Mr. John Thornton
I know, I know, too many leading men, right? Maybe I'll do some favorite annoying characters next. But I couldn't leave out Mr. Thornton, his voice is like rich dark chocolate, and he has a great accent, plus the "Mr. Darcy" effect of being a bit cold and unlikeable at first, but then showing that his heart really is capable of deep, sincere affection. Some of his lines aren't great, but that's not his fault. I love how he keeps Margaret's secret, even after she rejects him, and how his face completely softens when he sees her after visiting Helstone. He's another great example of a tall, dark, melancholy character. Hmm, we need to watch North and South again.

Miss Bates
I know I promised that I wouldn't make the whole list Austen, but if I'm going to do favorite annoying characters, I've got to put at least one of Austen's amazing irritating characters, right? Miss Bates really isn't too bad since, unlike Mrs. Bennet, she has her likeable moments. Miss Bates may be a bit annoying at times, with her prattling on, and dull topics, but she is good-natured and harmless. I always feel very sorry for her when Emma slights her, and appreciate Mr. Knightley's stern "badly done, Emma!" as being exactly as forceful as I would personally like (hehe, yes, I just snuck in a little compliment to an Austen hero... I really feel bad for leaving out all her wonderful men, since they are certainly favorites as well!) She is played particularly well by Sophie Thompson in the 1996 Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Katniss Everdeen
Yep, she's one of my favorite annoying characters. She's a very realistic character, but she gets on my nerves in many ways... her coldness towards everyone but Prim, her wishy-washy indecision between Peeta and Gale, her hesitation at being the Mockingjay, disliking Buttercup, and I could go on. They're all perfectly suited to her character, but they still annoy me, and yet I still really like Katniss. Jennifer Lawrence does a great job making me feel more sympathetic towards her than I did in the book. And besides her flaws, she is loyal (once one breaks into her heart) and pretty smart. I'm both looking forward to and dreading the last installment of the movie franchise!

Captain James T. Kirk
Okay, I don't know if I'd say he's one of my favorite annoying characters, because he really doesn't annoy me as much as he should, considering how arrogant and stupid he is at the beginning! Chris Pine is incredible in the reboot of Star Trek (2009) and even though he's a bit annoying occasionally, he's not nearly as annoying as I found William Shater's character to be! I never cared much for the old Star Trek, but Chris Pine's Kirk (and the other amazing characters, like Spock, Bones and Chekov) all made me love Star Trek! Even though Kirk is a playboy, rebellious, cocky guy, he made me like him. And he does have good think-outside-the-box smarts, courage and some selfless moments. (Those eyebrows, though..)

There you are, 10 of my favorite screen characters! I know I took forever on this, so I'm not going to try and tag anyone, but feel free to participate if you haven't yet! Also, let me know what you think of my choices in the comments!