Pastor C was preaching this week’s sermon and it was a little difficult towards the end to practice what he said, about being true to God and trusting that he will deliver us from potential persecutions, and if not, trust that there is salvation in death. How can we act like Abednego and friends, who defied King N (who built his empire on complete obedience and liked to threaten to tear people from limb to limb) by refusing to worship the golden statue?
It was written that the three men were thrown into flames seven times hotter than the usual temperature in the furnace, and strong men tied them up so that it would be humanly impossible for them to escape. But escape they did, and God delivered them in their persecution. Pastor C made a distinction between delivering from and delivering in- delivering from their ordeal would mean changing the king’s orders before they were even near the furnace, but delivering in would mean saving them while they were in the midst of getting burned. I am scared of pain and I will be the first to recant my faith if someone threatens to cut off my arm. I will not be of much use to God without an arm, because I think it will throw me back into depression and then I’ll choose to die.
But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?
Pastor C also said that the state demands total allegiance and there are invisible icons to reveal our worship- words like relativism, pluralism and democracy, tolerance for everyone and everything. That in today’s world of failing moral standards, we have an increasingly difficult task to follow God and also to encourage other people to follow God and his ways. I think he wants us, as people who practice the Christian faith, to make a firm stand for what we believe in because we cannot afford to be lukewarm (Rev 3:16).
He specifically read from this article:
Some of the country’s biggest businesses have upped the ante in the crusade for marriage equality by asking Australians to wear a specially designed “acceptance ring” until same-sex marriage is legalised.
But the thing is, even though I don’t think it’s a good idea to wear an ‘incomplete ring’ (a ring that was newly invented, it is black and has a gap- it is not a full band to symbolize marriage inequality), I also don’t think I can look at my gay friends in the face and answer them, if they ask, that I disapprove of their relationship and I think they are sinning against my God. Yet that is what is asked of a Christian- that if you are asked, you will approach the situation with discretion and understanding, but still make your stand known.
It is not the pressure to conform that I am succumbing to, I just genuinely believe that that is how God intended my friends to be, and that they do not need to give up their love in order to practice the Christian faith, even though they are supposed to control it and cut off their sin completely. I know the arguments against homosexuality, that it is a disordered impulse and that in every relationship God should be at the forefront and it is possible to live a meaningful life without a partner etc. However, I also know my friends are not going to change regardless of whichever religion is popular in the world right now, because being a homosexual is something that they see as part of their identity, it is the one experience which gives them joy every morning.
Just because I rationally know something doesn’t mean that I will ever want to take the first step to make the rest of my life essentially a grey and bleak experience (in the partnership department). To remove that joy from their lives- I wouldn’t say it is cruelty, because pastors always use the argument of setting rules for two-year-olds to not touch the heated stove, which they will understand when they are older, the same principle applies to people in homosexual relationships- I would say that it is something that keeps them away from the church.
We sin every day, yet homosexuality is something that is singled out whenever failing moral standards are mentioned. Can they find greater joy in God? I would say yes. But can you guarantee that? No, you can’t. There will just be plenty of prayer sessions and the knowledge that people we care for are deeply unhappy, almost all the time. For what? To be made into his likeness. A very convincing argument, but I am not sure if the interlocutors are genuinely concerned or just feeling grateful that they aren’t homosexual themselves. There are many forms of persecution and sometimes I think the church itself also makes things unbearable for the minority.
If someone told me that I would never write again because their God forbade it so and that I can live a meaningful life without writing- both statements can be true, and it is also true that I will ignore the person. How do you let others see the eternity beyond the current moment that they are experiencing? Can’t the pastor talk about something else, like the greed of men and the attitude that fellow church-goers have every week where service starts at 5pm, and they trickle in at 5.30pm, and leave before the final prayer is said? Can’t we pray that while we know it is a sin, however we would still like to invite these couples to the church, even though we know that they will not change, because after all we cannot see the futures of those men/women and what God will do with them.
The very first slide was ‘signs and images reveal our worship’. Would I dare to wear that incomplete ring to church? I don’t think I would. Not because it would change anything in my heart, but because I would probably get stared at by everyone else. The pressure to conform is still strong, ironically. Dominion and power and might and glory are given by God, and humility and honesty and kindness are what we strive for to be pleasing to God. But the in-betweens, even though it is an absolute truth written in the Bible, I still do not have it in me to agree. If I was in a gay relationship and sitting in front of the podium, I think I would feel like a fermented cow.
Edit:/ I saw a comment that got few upvotes haha. The commentator wanted a ring for single people, so they do not feel left out of marriage.
Edit:/ I think I understand why I am not aligned. It is because I am still exploring the faith, I do not believe in everything yet. I know rationally that I have to take the bible as God’s word, which includes everything cover to cover, but some things require a lot more time.