People have to understand that anyone can do evil things. Some people might think that only German Nazis in the 2nd World War could be bad, or Russians under Stalin. The fact is that evil is part of human nature. When bad things happen to us, we can say we’ll never do that ourselves or we can go down the other path and repeat what we have experienced. No one is above good or evil, and we all have the capacity for good and evil. I know myself, I’ve done things I am ashamed of; I hasten to add I’ve not killed anyone or done anything bad to any human being, but I know that I have the capacity for evil and I also have the capacity for good. Most of us aren’t going to commit the atrocities of Hitler or Stalin, but as we are two steps away from good, we are also two steps away from evil.
I bore grudges, heavy grudges, against women I perceived had rejected me in some way, especially after chatting to them in pubs and nightclubs, really hating them and being deeply resentful; and really, I was supposed to be a Christian. Supposed to be at any rate. I hasten to add, I never beat a woman or anything like that, but often I was filled with hatred for the opposite sex. It has clouded my judgement about women for a long time. I am slowly learning to see that women, like men, are just human beings; some women are no doubt unpleasant and treat men appallingly, but some men are also unpleasant and treat women appallingly too. And of course, many men and women are decent people; in the last ten years of my life I have valued simple friendships, of both men and women, and come to understand that all people are complex, we have complex relationships, we are complex emotionally and we live in a fallen world full of unhappiness and certainly full of misunderstandings. We need love, all of us, but because we’ve been hurt, especially in this area, we become prickly and over cautious, we stop trusting people, and often men learn to hate women and women learn to hate men, because of the occasional unhappy experiences we all get now and again. Most of us aren’t evil, we are just hurting somewhat; with the love of Jesus we can get over the worst of experiences and have a healthy and balanced outlook on the opposite sex, and indeed towards all the people in our lives. I have made some great female friends, as well as male friends, in the blogosphere, women who are Godly and decent and whose opinions and judgements I both need and highly respect.
Being obedient to God’s will means we please Him, we won’t come to any real harm and we are being good. It was disobedience in the very first instance that set God against man, and caused a rift thereafter between most of humankind and God. The sin we do that displeases God merely follows on from being disobedient. People must remember this. Like many people, I have a struggle in my life. My struggle involves the idea that I must be celibate as a Christian. I struggle with this, as often I see women all around me who I like, all different types of women, tall, short, red haired, brunettes, blondes, green eyed, brown eyed, black women, white women, American women, British women, Irish women, Italian women… well you get the picture; there are indeed lots of lovely women everywhere; and so little time!!! Hey, I’m joking! But my joke is getting at a serious point. God I believe implicitly and explicitly wants us to be married, to one partner, of the opposite sex, for life; one sexual partner, for life. For many people, this seems almost an impossibility; the rich, the powerful and the famous, often have multiple marriages, simply because they can afford to quite frankly. The rest of us, who live in that stark reality called the real world, often have little option. But what is God telling us through all this; firstly, He is to be obeyed quite simply. Secondly, marriage is an institution that in no way is meant to be taken lightly; you marry someone, you marry someone you love in all ways, someone you like and someone who is also your ‘best mate’, as we say in England. Thirdly, love is more than marriage, much more than sex, it is holistic, that is, it is all-encompassing; we love completely the person we want to marry, not just because they are a good match or because they are wealthy.
I am still single, with no girlfriend on the horizon, but I am confident that when the right time comes, when God is also ready, He has prepared for me the perfect person, even if I have to go on a few dates; well such is life. I’m in no hurry though.
The Gay Issue
You may say as a gay person ‘I don’t believe in God anyway so why does being gay matter to Him, if He exists?’ Well, God might have a calling on your life, He might have called you specifically to be His servant, to live as a Christian. If this is so, sooner or later, your life will unravel like the ancient Israelites lives unravelled when they refused to take God at His Word, and you might wonder why. I wish to say this is the first time I have written about the gay issue, and I think that even some good Christians go on about it too much, when all sin is abhorrent to God, not just the gay lifestyle. I don’t particularly have an axe to grind here either, because two people living together in a gay or lesbian relationship is not going to harm me one way or the other, but I wanted to make a point. Living in any kind of sin, especially if God has a calling on your life, is going to catch up with you; sooner or perhaps later. We should never be smug about our own perceived ‘perfection’, and other people’s imperfect sinful lives; sometimes we need to examine ourselves first before pointing fingers at others. Sin isn’t just the thing we do that is wrong, it is more importantly because we disobey God in the first place. If you are struggling in any way with this particular issue, or any other issue for that matter, then you are not alone. As I explained, I struggle with the idea of celibacy a whole lot, as a straight guy incidentally, and like most men I think about sex often. I’m not married and so remain celibate, but I sometimes feel like I am missing out. Yet I found, in my wild days, that loveless sexual encounters left me feeling empty and never fulfilled. I have learnt a lesson.
If we are to condemn sin as genuinely concerned Christians, then we must focus on all sin, and focus on disobedience as the beginning of all sin. Also, we might understand that no matter how perfect a Christian we think we are, we are all capable of sinning and doing something wrong. It is just when we think that we have no sin, that this is exactly the time when we might need to examine ourselves more closely. ‘Do you not realise that people who do evil will never inherit the kingdom of God? Make no mistake -- the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, the self-indulgent, sodomites, thieves, misers, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers, none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you used to be of that kind: but you have been washed clean, you have been sanctified, and you have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and through the Spirit of our God.’ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NJB)
The society we live in, the graded hierarchical ones like Britain and America, and many others besides, are often also highly judgemental; the poor, the marginalised, those living in rundown areas, the chronically long-term unemployed are there not because of a skewed social system or double standards, but because they deserve it! I hope you detect my irony?! It seems one of the ways those who exploit other people 'get away with it', is by blaming those they exploit for their own poverty. It’s a neat trick that enables people with little conscience to get away with injustice whilst they make themselves wealthy. ‘Listen, my dear brothers: it was those who were poor according to the world that God chose, to be rich in faith and to be the heirs to the kingdom which he promised to those who love him. You, on the other hand, have dishonoured the poor. Is it not the rich who lord it over you? Are not they the ones who drag you into court, who insult the honourable name which has been pronounced over you? Well, the right thing to do is to keep the supreme Law of scripture: you will love your neighbour as yourself; but as soon as you make class distinctions, you are committing sin and under condemnation for breaking the Law.’ (James 2:5-9 NJB) So it’s right there, in black and white; those who make class distinctions, far from being the great and the good, are adding more sin and injustice to the world. Yes, every poor and oppressed person wants to see that. Yet again, God is bringing to book the system many of us live under and showing it up for the illusion that it really is. What is the answer to those who exploit others, or just look down their noses on other people? ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; because the judgements you give are the judgements you will get, and the standard you use will be the standard used for you.’ (Matthew 7:1-2 NJB) The world, and many people in it, often make all sorts of unjust distinctions between people, for their own selfish reasons. It is to be understood that what goes around, may very well come around. Christians should not judge other people for any reason.
Finally, each day God wants us to choose Him. ‘'Look, today I am offering you life and prosperity, death and disaster. If you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I am laying down for you today, if you love Yahweh your God and follow his ways, if you keep his commandments, his laws and his customs, you will live and grow numerous, and Yahweh your God will bless you in the country which you are about to enter and make your own. But if your heart turns away, if you refuse to listen, if you let yourself be drawn into worshipping other gods and serving them, I tell you today, you will most certainly perish; you will not live for long in the country which you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. Today, I call heaven and earth to witness against you: I am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life…'’ (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 NJB)