Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beenie Man, President Obama, and the Bible

This issue of same sex marriages, elevated to new levels of public discourse by President Obama's pronouncements last week, is gathering momentum. Clearly mindful of the changing tide of public opinion in the USA, this week, Internationally acclaimed Dance Hall Artiste Beenie Man, in the language of the popular culture in Jamaica, had to " bow' to the pressure exerted on his career by the gay lobby. Of course the local cartoonists had a field day, with one portraying him grovelling before a " gay" man ", asking forgiveness. Also of interest have been the results of surveys done in the USA which indicated that many Americans are in favor of gay marriages, a change from what obtained many years ago. And further, that the public perception is that President Obama's evolving position on this issue was heavily influenced by that constituency. In other words, forget the high sounding rhetoric of four years ago, forget about, " Yes we can " Obama, and simply accept him as just another pol trying to maintain power at any cost. Notwithstanding all of the above, many religious leaders including our own recently elected and enthroned Diocesan Bishop of Jamaica, Bishop Howard Gregory, have come out against this recent development, indicating that Christian marriage, according to our understanding of God, is a sacred act between a man and a woman. The problem as pointed out by one of our leading journalists Ian Boyne, writing in the IN Focus section of The Daily Gleaner today, in his usual well reseached and nuanced but forthright style of writing, is that the Christian lifestyle, as practiced by some members of that faith community, remains the only , at least for the time being, viable argument against the full acceptance of same sex marriages. And therefore a whole host of legislative, economic and cultural pressures are being brought to bear on the " remnant" of the Christian faith, who hold such a " archaic, oppressive, homophobic and scientifically ill informed" , worldview. Have you ever heard about the Yogyakarta Principles? Unlikely! Well listen out for that one which was sent to me by a concerned Christian who is also a Professor at a local University, and which principles are gaining attention Internationally, and even cites a case of, what we thought was an unsolved murder of a gay man in Jamaica, as evidence of our nation's " homophobic" culture. Listen out also for other initiatives as well, as this issue of gay marriage is clearly developing into open warfare against the Apostolic tradition of the Christian faith - that passed on to the church throughout the ages by disciples of Christ in the New Testament, and the Prophets of the Lord in the Old Testament. I am quite sure in my mind that fairly soon, perhaps not in my lifetime, but maybe, those who claim Christ will be required to made modern day choices like Joshua of old had to , " Choose ye this day whom you will follow, but as for me and my house we will choose the Lord". What do I have in mind? It is not far fetched to imagine a scenario, given the current trends, where if you wish to obtain a visa to travel to the USA or Europe, or obtain a " green card", or to gain citizenship, you may have to declare where you stand on the issue of gay rights and marriage! Not whether or not you have acted violently against anyone, or discriminated against anyone - the prohibition of which we can all agree - but whether you accept that such a lifestyle is sinful before the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob and of Jesus Christ. Many Christians, who now out of sympathy and compassion for gay and lesbian persons, support gay marriage, and perhaps for trans-genders too, who find these assertions preposterous and unwarranted, should at least begin to watch the situation very carefully, as these are not ordinary times! In the midst of this " open rebellion" then, against the Word of God by secular forces, the Lord led me, through my own experiences with many trials in life, back to reflect on, and to share with my church, a passage of Scripture which has been of tremendous help in my battle with forces of evil. The Bible is very clear. " Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; Do not fret it leads only to evil". Psalm 37:8 NIV So when concerned about family members in particular - for whatever reason; or folks in your circle of friends or associates; or national issues, wage war, but first and foremost, in prayer. " For though we live in this world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2. Cor. 10:3-16 NIV So let us turn from every thought of malice and anger and wrath: let us demolish every fretful thought, every thought about disaster, every thought that tells us that this situation cannot change. As to do so is unworthy of a God who worked a great miracle when He raised Jesus from the dead, and continues to work miracles in the lives of those who believe in His Son Jesus. Amen The very powers of darkness are paralyzed by prayer. No wonder Satan tries to keep our minds fussy ( and addition) in active work 'till we cannot think to pray. Oswald Chambers - The Complete Works: Run Today's Race; May 17th. LWJ This kind of instruction from the Lord requires very little comment, except to remind the faithful and those who have an interest in the faith, that throughout history the church has been preserved, sustained and protected by prayer - believing prayer based on God's unchanging and faithful nature. There is indeed, according to the song writer, "...... No shadow of turning with thee". Secondly this week, the Lord led me to preach a sermon, today in fact, on one of the most powerful "Words", in the entire Bible. Words that are sure to trigger even more persecution from forces that wish to eliminate the influence of the Bible from the hearts of men. As this kind of message goes like a dagger into the hearts and minds who think they have power, by virtue of their ability to galvanize and enlist the help of Presidents and Prime Ministers. But fail to recognize like Herod, as he was taught by Jesus, that, " you would have no power except the Lord granted it". " He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life". 1 John 5:12 NIV The reality is, whether we like it or not, or whether we accept it or not, in the final analysis, the only thing that matters in this world as we prepare for the next - and this preparation for the next life, the eternal life and the judgment which is promised by Christ, " who will come again to judge the living and the dead", is what really separates those who hold a worldview different, everybody, from what the Bible teaches - is whether or not Christ lives in us by faith. Full stop. Argument done, according to one of our more colorful and eloquent in speech, former Prime Minister. So whether or not the gay lobby forgives Moses Davis a.k.a Beenie man, and his career resumes its upward trajectory, thus filling his pockets with US dollars, is of little moment in the grand scheme of things. What matters more is whether or not he has received forgiveness for his sins in and through Christ. And whether or not President Obama wins the next election because he has managed to galvanize the democratic base, and more significantly tap into the tremendous financial clout of the gay lobby - it is estimated that gays and lesbian contributions amount to a sixth of his of his political "war chest" - is of little significance in respect of whether or not he loses his soul. And what shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul. What will happen to Him is a matter only God can pronounce on. The only reason why I, or any faithful Christians can express views like this, lies in the fact that Christ died on the Cross for the sins of all mankind, to set us free from the power of Satan and bring us into a new relationship with our Creator God. And therefore the kind of love which made Christ decide to leave His heavenly Crown and come to earth, and to suffer immeasurably and die an awful death, must make us realize, or at the very least stop and think, that something went wrong, very, wrong with the entire human race, why Christ had to die to redeem us. And the very same Bible which reveals the full extent of God's love, in Christ, for all mankind who He Created, and who went astray by virtue of Adam's Sin, and which therefore teaches us that Sin is at the heart of the reason why Christ died, is now the subject of attack by evil forces. This is the heart of the matter. Is the gay lifestyle sinful before God? Not whether or not anyone should discriminate against them! Clearly not. But to now equate the truth as revealed in the Bible, as a basis for vilifying and persecuting Christians and to pass laws, or even contemplate it, that no one can teach and speak the truth about the gay lifestyle, as revealed in Scripture is Satanic. In the same way that to teach or speak in anyway that gays, or trans-genders for that matter, should beaten or killed or harmed in any way is equally Satanic and not of the God of Abraham. But the God whose Son died on the Cross for the Sin of all mankind, out of a kind of love that passes all human understanding, and who calls us to be holy, in the same way that he is holy, in and through Christ, and who is full of compassion and patient with all of us, will, in due course, reveal His will to all mankind, with power and and with love. Until then we are called to be faithful, to warn everyone of Sin, to minister to the "least of our neighbours" - the poor, the destitute, the marginalized, those subject to a life of prostitution by the economic forces, and those who cry our night and day for God's help and mercy - to live a life of engagement with all who we meet, so that like St. Paul, we can one day declare that, " I am innocent of any man's blood". So may the peace that God grants us in and through Christ, rest and abide with all those who believe in His Son, the Crucified and Risen and soon coming Christ. As those who believe in His great act of Atonement and love on the Cross of Calvary have life, and those who do not believe that his Blood was shed for them and the sins of all mankind, have no life. That's what the immutable Word of God teaches. But, thank God for Jesus, there is always room for repentance and for forgiveness. For even the thief on the Cross - at the last minute. For everyone, whilst there is time. For who knows what tomorrow will bring! Amen