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Thursday, July 24, 2003

Edifier du Jour-2 Peter 2:17-21
17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
Peter spends chapter 2 giving both barrels to false teachers. What comes to mind as modern versions of these are the liberal Episcopal leaders who may well both confirm the ordaining an openly-homosexual bishop but also approving of same-sex marriage in their General Convention that starts next week. The Episcopal leaders aren't the only ones that, when given a choice of affirming modern sexual amorality and sticking with the Bible, will choose the world over the Bible, but their the ones with the binoculars on them at the moment; the PC-USA was in the opera glasses back in May and dodged a bullet by sending some radioactive stuff on sexual issues back to committee. People are going to want to have their desires fulfilled; telling someone that premarital and extra-marital sex is wrong, immoral and unhealthy will often fall on hormone-deafened ears. They don't want to hear that God has something better for them that may take time to develop. That's why Peter was talking about self-control and perseverance in chapter 1; it takes extra care not to fall prey to the flesh. That self-control and perseverance takes on extra urgency when there isn't an honorable or legal outlet for one's desires. While heterosexual urges have an honorable outlet in marriage, other desires do not. This isn't just the troubled gay who thinks he can't change his desires and has trouble believing in a God who'd think those cravings are wrong; drug addicts, gamblers and other people with deep-seated vices have trouble allowing the Holy Spirit to first keep them from acting on their cravings and eventually taking those cravings away (or minimizing them). The church needs to both nurture the person fighting off those vices and fight the vices as well. In an NPR piece on the Episcopal Church's internal fight I heard yesterday morning, a pro-gay lady priest invoked the end of the baptism service text, where the church is supposed to support the sprinklee in their life in Christ; her take was that the church was to support the person regardless. However, we're supposed to support their life in Christ. That doesn't mean to accept sinful behavior as normal, and stuff that runs counter to what God's laid down needs to be rebuked. Ephesians 5 comes to mind here
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. 3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; 4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
This is tough love here, but Paul and Peter aren't saying "As long as it isn't politically incorrect, be imitators of God. As long as it isn't out of step with modern culture, be imitators of God. As long as it feels good, be imitators of God." However, that seems to be what far too many church leaders are saying today. Those people are defiling the Church and sapping it of what power it has left. Calling them on it will mean some ugly times, as the people who support turning the Church into a free-love zone will keep the buildings and bank accounts while the supporters of God will wind up meeting in middle-school gyms for a season. However, better to go to a church with folding chairs than a whorehouse with nicely-cushioned pews and stained-glass windows. As I read that, that's 180-proof firewater, but it's far closer to what needs to be done in a lot of left-listing denominations. Unity for the sake of unity isn't good for the Body of Christ, for if that unity comes at the cost of taking your faith on an al-a-carte basis and throwing out the un-PC parts, what's left isn't the Church.

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