Archive for July, 2014

Commentary about the Presbyterian Church affirming same-sex marriage

presbyterian-gay marriage1

by Charles Henderson

Jesus gave us one Commandment–Love one another.

John 13:34-35 (HCSB)
34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.
35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As such we should act toward all people with the Love that Christ commanded us. Gay and Lesbian people, like all people, must be treated with love and respect. Certainly equal rights.

Yet, when people demand that those rights violate God’s Law, I must stand with what God commands.

I know that God loves all of His children, and all of His children sin. That is why Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, died on the cross, taking all of the sins of mankind on His shoulders. Jesus’ death on the cross, and His resurrection fulfilled the Prophets and the Law.

Fulfilled means that Jesus did not come to destroy the Law, but paid its debt for our sins. Therefore, we who believe in Jesus, who have Repented of our sins, who proclaimed Christ our Lord and Savior, are Justified by Christ’s sacrifice. Our sins are forgiven.

When we Repented of our sins and were thus Saved by God’s Grace for our Faith in Jesus Christ, a gift from God, and not from any good deeds that we may ever perform, we in turn strive to still live according to God’s Law, His will for us. We honor God by striving to live Righteously, and we do so because it is our nature as His believers. We live to please God.

What is a sin? Anything that we do that is against God’s will.

But when we fail in our striving to live righteously, and we all do fail, we are justified by Christ. In other words, forgiven. Because Christ fulfills the Law.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-18 (HCSB)
17 “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished.”

Jesus went on during His Sermon on the Mount to reiterate God’s Law, and to amplify it, such as with adultery. If a man lusts in his heart for a woman he has thus already committed adultery. And murder, if we do things that cause injury to our brothers, hate them or hold them in contempt, it is as good as murder. We must love, forgive and not judge.

No, God’s Law still stands, but we are justified when we fall short, as Paul said in Romans 3:23 (HCSB) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But followed in Romans 3:24-26 (HCSB)
24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
25 God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed.
26 ⌊God presented Him⌋ to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.”

As Christians we continue to strive to live righteously, according to what Jesus said: Matthew 6:33 (HCSB)
33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”

Therefore our faith is not believing in Jesus and being free to go out and freely commit sins as we like, and live in sin, but that when we repented of our sins and were born again in Christ, absolved of our sins, we strive to live according to God’s will. Live righteously.

Same sex marriage is an affront to God’s will, and His will is made clear in His Word. To compromise God’s Word is to reject it.

Thus in Matthew 19, Jesus describes marriage as a union between a man and a woman, for life. God makes the man and the woman one spiritual person And what God has joined together let no man separate:

Matthew 19:4-6 (HCSB)
4 “Haven’t you read,” He replied, “that He who created them in the beginning made them male and female,”
5 and He also said: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh?
6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Jesus was talking about a man and a woman, as God planned, and according to God’s Law. For man to sleep with man or woman to sleep with woman, or man to lay down with beasts remains an “abomination” to God.

We cannot be faithful to our commitment to Christ and CHOOSE to live in sin! When we sin, we are immediately sorry; we come to God in contrition and humility and bare our sins to Him, asking His forgiveness even though we are already forgiven. For us, sin is a moment of weakness, and we are sorry for it.

What happens when we knowingly choose to embrace sin in our lives, to live in a lifestyle that we know goes against God’s Law? A godless and unrighteous lifestyle? Not a slip of the tongue or a moment of weakness, temptation getting the best of us, but knowingly making a choice that we know is against God’s will, and choosing that lifestyle.
Here is what Paul wrote to the Romans when they knew of Jesus but choose to live the Roman lifestyles that included all forms of homosexual acts and open promiscuity. Paul writes what Faith in Christ requires and gives us, and what falling from that faith to godlessness and unrighteousness brings us:

Romans 1:16-32 (HCSB)
16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek.
17 For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.
18 For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,
19 since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.
20 For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.
21 For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.
22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools
23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.
24 Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.
25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
26 This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
27 The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.
28 And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.
29 They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips,
30 slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.
32 Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.”

Paul could well be writing about America today!

Considering what Paul writes in Romans 1, and especially in verses 27-32, how can any Christian church compromise what God commands and what is written in both the Old Testament and New Testament?
I am appalled at what the Presbyterian Church (USA) has done: First they have agreed to begin ordaining openly gay pastors and church leaders, people who choose to live in violation of God’s Word. Next they have chosen to embrace Same-Sex Marriage, which is clearly in violation of Scripture in both Old and New Testaments, as shown above, and in additional Scriptures than I cite here.

They become the Church of Laodicea, that Jesus describes and chides in Revelation 3:14-22. The compromised church. Lukewarm. Fallen away.

When we embrace godlessness and unrighteousness, and choose those over God’s will, then God gives us over to those degrading and dark lives, as Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-32. Such acts reject Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for us. To reject Christ sends us to hell.

I believe that all people should have equal rights and equal protection under the law, but I will not compromise my faith in God, reject my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and compromise my faith to accommodate sinful lifestyles or endorse them.

With the changes that I see in the world today, and the compromises of long-held Christian values and ethics, and now I see the compromises of Christian churches to embrace sin, I am left believing that the Day of Our Lord comes soon. In Revelation, when Jesus spoke to John and revealed to John the coming of the Son of Man and the Tribulation and the end of times, Jesus told of the apostasy of the church. The falling away of the church, compromising God’s will and accepting sin as righteousness.

Such is happening today. So I keep my eyes to the clouds, and I pray for my nation and our people.

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Vision of Yorktown

Cornwallis SurrenderDedication–This story is dedicated to the memory of Continental Army Drummer Alexander Milliner, who served in General George Washington’s Lifeguard Unit. He lived past the age of one-hundred four years, and stood as witness to the surrender of the British at Yorktown. Likewise, to the memory of Continental Army Private Lemuel Cook, a boy like Milliner, just a year older, in fact. He stood by Milliner and watched as the British soldiers stacked their arms on an open field. General Washington ordered the Continental Army to not laugh or jeer at the surrendering Redcoats. Washington said, “It is bad enough to surrender without being insulted.”

Vision of Yorktown

A Short Story

By Charles W. Henderson

For the soldier pitched to battle, glory does not exist. For him there is only survival, sacrifice and tribute. In truth, glory is a false ideal born in the minds of poets and politicians.

 

The sun had not yet broken over the treetops that stood distant across the broad clearing when the boy struggled to the top of the parapet. Tears filled his eyes and his throat choked with the pain of grief, knowing well what his orders meant.

A drum hung at the boy’s waist by a strap that looped over his shoulder and bore the royal crest of Major General Lord Charles Cornwallis’ army. When they had begun this fight, the strap had shown stark white across his uniform’s blue blouse; now it lay dark with black and brown stains that came from grease and soot of guns and cannons, and from tears and sweat and blood spilled in nine days of battle. Blood of soldiers who fell at the boy’s side. Good soldiers who tried to live; who the boy tried to help to live, but who died anyway. His tears, his sweat, their lives.

The drummer boy called Tom Scott, a good English name, from a family south of Kent, had accompanied Lord Cornwallis and his army of 8,300 Red Coats through much of this campaign that swept through the Carolinas, leaving a swath of destruction and death behind them, and settled in Virginia in May of 1781. By August, they had occupied the point of ground between the York and James rivers where Cornwallis hoped to establish a British naval base because of the York’s deep water and easy access to the Chesapeake Bay.

General George Washington and Lieutenant General Comte de Rochambeau, and their army of more than 17,600 French and American soldiers attacked Yorktown on October 9, after the French fleet had successfully turned away the British ships in the Chesapeake, leaving Cornwallis’ army cut off.

Washington’s Colonial Artillery bombarded Cornwallis’ forces for four days. Finally, on the night of October 14, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton led a small force of Continental soldiers on a surprise attack and began the land battle that turned the cleared farm fields below the parapet where drummer boy Tom Scott now stood into a crucible of flesh, bone and blood.

This morning of October 17, 1781, the crispness of fall in the wet air accented the sun which bled a sky filled with red that matched the crimson field below where young Tom stood. The crack of gunfire and the haunting cries of wounded and dying men stole any sense of peace that might have otherwise existed at that moment.

The lad’s uniform–a blue jacket and red trousers–which hung twisted and loose over his small, immature frame, had torn at most seams and bends, and across every panel of its woolen cloth carried dark stains from the battle. He had skinned his hide at most of his joints, and he ached as badly as any man twice his thirteen years of life. Yet as he began to rap two wooden sticks over the goat skin stretched across the head of his drum, beating out a signal that sent every British soldier’s heart sinking in final relief, he stood not as a boy but as a man. A soldier. A veteran of war. He felt what those who carried the muskets and fought the bayonet attacks and fell wounded under the exploding artillery shells felt: Beaten.

A dirty, bruised and scarred, battle-weary lad whose face had yet to show hair more coarse than a kitten’s stood at the top of the parapet, above his general and beside an officer who waived a white piece of cloth tied to his saber, and beat out the order to cease fire.

The fighting began to subside, and in the distance, as he continued to rap, rap, rap the loud but depressing signal from his drum, the boy could hear cheers shouted from the Colonial Army’s lines. For all of them knew that this battle, and this American Revolution had come to its end.

The boy stared straight out across the battlefield, his vision blurred by tears that tracked through the dirt that covered his face while the lieutenant at his side who waived the white cloth stepped down the front of the parapet and then stood at attention while two Colonial soldiers blindfolded the officer and led him away. The boy watched and continued to beat his drum as the men disappeared behind the distant trees to deliver Lord Cornwallis’ proposal to meet with Washington and discuss British surrender.

Yet despite the joy that this boy’s rap, rap, rapping on a goat-skin drum brought to the victors, and the significance that it meant, there still remains this mournful picture of a gaunt and dirty youngster, wearing a tattered uniform. He stands atop a parapet, beating his drum while below him, scattered across acres of tilled and cleared land lay the bodies of the dead and dying. Their blood filling the furrows. Their last gasps, moans and cries of pain, the music that accompanies the boy’s drum, reminds British, French and American alike that their’s is the price that has been paid for what has been gained and lost here.

As the sun turned from red to gold to yellow and the day grew bright, and the boy stepped from that parapet. As the last British soldier laid down his arms while his officers cried like school boys at the sight. As he sailed home, grew old and told of the war. And as generation after generation continued to tell of it, this vision of the last horrible moment of the last great battle of the American Revolution remains.

_____________

Copyright 1988 by Charles W. Henderson

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