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The Idol As Functional Saviour

 

To read the Scriptures with high resolution and high
fidelity, you cannot miss the abundance of text where God speaks against
idolatry and witchcraft or sorcery. A close examination of what these are
reveals that the worshipper is abandoning the true God for something or someone
lesser. The lower power is elevated to be like God and ultimately to replace.

 

A definition of idolatry is “anything we serve, love, desire,
trust, fear, and worship…apart from God to give us love, joy, peace, freedom,
status, identity, control, happiness, security, fulfillment, health, pleasure,
significance, acceptance, and respect” (Gospel Transformation, pg. 59). 

Notice in
this definition the “give” and “get” transactional nature of idolatry. In
idolatry a person serves a god to gain what only the one true God can
ultimately give. To say it another way, idols are functional saviors that
people turn to for what only God can provide.
[1]

 

Whoa… functional saviors that people turn to for what only
God can provide. An example is found in Jeremiah’s message to God’s wayward
people. Listen to this message about their idolatry.

 

The infidel mistakenly believes that their fulfillment and
power is to be found in a lesser god. Repeatedly God calls His people to return
and be faithful. He will restore and he will cleanse from the stains that
lesser gods leave on our spirit, soul, and body.

 

 

Jeremiah 2: (ESV)

20 “For
long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I
will not serve.’
Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down
like a whore.
21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed.
How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?
22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much
soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord God.

23 How
can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’?
Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done— a restless young
camel running here and there,
24     a wild donkey used to the
wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind!
    Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary
themselves; in her month they will find her.

25 Keep
your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst.
But you said, ‘It is hopeless, for I have loved foreigners, and after
them I will go.’

 

 

God is saying that he had broken their bondage to slavery
and set them free. But the idolatrous heart says it will not serve the One who
has freed them. The chasing after other gods has a sexual overtone of
prostitution.

 

Instead of high fidelity toward God, the rebel practices
infidelity. There is no fidelity and no faithfulness to God. In the intense
longing for sexual fulfillment, the wayward one says that they are hopeless.
They can’t help but follow other gods.

 

Isn’t that a stunning picture of the learned helplessness
that comes from unfaithfulness? There is a fatalistic giving in to a hopeless
pursuit. There is no satisfaction to be found.

 

 

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High Resolution, High Fidelity

 

Just as a digital camera can film in 8K resolution, you can
also take grainy pictures on a cheap camera with low pixel resolution. The
low-resolution picture can give you an idea of what you’re looking at, but it
won’t give you the fullest colour and intimate details of what you are looking
at. High resolution means you are able to see much more of what is actually there.

 

The same is true in audio. If you listen to a song on an old
transistor pocket radio, you will not get the clarity of listening on a
high-fidelity system. Hifi lets you hear more of what’s actually there in the
sound mix.

 

There may be quaint uses for low resolution and low
fidelity, but life in the real world is preferable when you have twenty-twenty
vision and can hear well without a hearing aid. It is better to see and hear
things clearly. It is better to not be blind or deaf.

 

In order for God to help us understand, to see and hear most
clearly about His nature, God sends His Son Jesus as the highest resolution,
highest fidelity representation. Jesus said that if we see him, we see the
Father. You cannot get a clearer picture of who God is than by examining Jesus.

 

Fidelity is:

 

1.    
The quality or state of being faithful.

2.    
Accuracy in details: exactness
[1]

 

As we think about the sexual life of a disciple, there is a
call to fidelity. If you are single and celibate or married and faithful, we have
the same call to faithfulness. Be faithful and accurate in understanding and
applying yourself to what God is showing and telling us.

 

 

Romans 12:

Do
not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and
acceptable and perfect.

 

 

The world may get a rough representation of what is good,
acceptable, and perfect but it will always be low resolution and low fidelity.
Or the world will present an image or sound of virtue that is so blurred and
distorted as to be indecipherable from the original.

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Good News For Sexual Minorities

 

If you belong to any type of minority group, you may see
yourself as an outsider or as an elite. You can wrap yourself in shame or you
can wrap yourself in pride. But neither of these wrappings clothe you
appropriately.

 

A life surrendered to God is wrapped in the healing garment
of God’s love. The virtue that we put on in the morning is the robe of Jesus.
He was stripped of his robe when he was crucified, and it is mysteriously
wrapped around sinners that come home to God.

 

The prodigal is given a new robe and welcomed back into the
family with forgiveness and reconciliation. Like the prodigal son, a
sober-minded disciple of Jesus returns from his ruination with an apology and a
self-judgment of unworthiness.

 

But how does the Father respond to the returnee? How does
God treat the child who makes their way back home after experiencing the fruit
of their rebellion? He runs to us and clothes us with affection. He celebrates
that we are alive again.

 

 

Isaiah 56:

Suppose
an outsider wants to follow the Lord.
    Then that person shouldn’t say,
    “The Lord won’t accept me as one of his people.”
And a eunuch shouldn’t say,
    “I’m like a dry tree
    that doesn’t bear any fruit.”

The
Lord says,

“Suppose some eunuchs
keep my Sabbath days.
    They choose to do what pleases me.
    And they are faithful in keeping my covenant.
Then I will set up a monument in the area of my temple.
    Their names will be written on it.
    That will be better for them than having sons and
daughters.
The names of the eunuchs will be remembered forever.
    They will never be forgotten.

“Suppose
outsiders want to follow me

    and
serve me.

They want to love me
    and
worship me.

They keep the Sabbath day and do not misuse it.
    And
they are faithful in keeping my covenant.

Then I will bring them to my holy mountain
of Zion.

    I
will give them joy in my house.

They can pray there.
    I will
accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices on my altar.

My house will be called
    a
house where people from all nations can pray.”

The Lord and King
will gather

    those
who were taken away from their homes in Israel.

He announces, “I will gather them to myself.
    And
I will gather others to join them.”

 

 

Can we see ourselves in the eunuch that
wants to please God? Can we see the love that the Father has for the outsider
and the minority? God proclaims a place in His House for every child to be
loved and remembered.

 

Let your Kingdom come, and your will be
done on earth as it is in Heaven. Every sin is forgiven in the Father’s House
when the prodigal comes home with a humble heart and wants to be restored.

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The Eunuch As An LGBTQ2+ Metaphor

 


Some religious teachers came to Jesus wanting clarification
on when and if it was okay to get a divorce. And if you do divorce and remarry
another, are you committing adultery? After listening to Jesus’ opinion, his
disciples questioned whether getting married even had value. Perhaps it is
better to remain single.

 

Jesus then goes into a teaching on eunuchs that may crack
open a door of understanding for seeing how a person that is, same sex
attracted or gender dysphoric can live a life that is pleasing to God. Jesus
talks about the eunuch and the call to live a celibate life.

 

Eunuchs are castrated males. They are a sexual minority.
They cannot function sexually the same as other men. The world knew and
identified them as being different.

 

From remote antiquity, eunuchs were employed in the
Middle East and in China in two main functions: as guards and servants in
harems or other women’s quarters, and as chamberlains to kings. Eunuchs were
considered the most suitable guards for the many wives or concubines a ruler
might have in his palace, and the eunuchs’ confidential position in the harems
of princes frequently enabled them to exercise an important influence over
their royal masters and even to raise themselves to stations of great trust and
power.
[1]

 

So, what is the disciple’s path for someone who’s starting
point is as a sexual minority? Is the eunuch a metaphor for LGBTQ2+?

 

 

Matthew 19:

11 But He said to them, “All cannot
accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For
there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there
are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made
themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it,
let him accept it.”

 

 

1.    
Jesus acknowledges that you cannot accept this
teaching unless you receive it from God. We should not expect anyone to be
agreeable to celibacy or singleness just because Jesus spelled it out. We
should not expect people to choose a path that denies the fleshly desire unless
they see that it is a gift, and a surrender to a better way.


 

2.    
Some eunuchs were born that way. We cannot rule
out the rare occasions when someone has a genetic code that causes them to have
both male and female chromosomes and sex organs. We cannot discount that some
people have an attraction to the same sex that moves from friendship bonding to
sexual attraction during puberty and adolescence. In this regard, there is
sexual desire framework established.

 

3.    
There are eunuchs that were made that way by
other men. Early sexual experiences can shape your desires for a lifetime. I
have rarely met someone with a same-sex attraction that didn’t have an older
person introduce them to the sexual landscape first. Early experiences have a
profound mapping effect on the human psyche. We should not assume that it’s a
choice if there is a deep, inner compulsion introduced by trauma, abuse, or
experimentation.

 

4.    
Some people have chosen to be celibate in their
desire to please God.

 

Eunuchs who were emasculated
voluntarily for the avoidance of sexual sin or temptation—the Christian
theologian Origen (c. ad 185–c. 254) being the
most celebrated example—have appeared in several Christian periods.
[2]

 

Jesus rounds out the short teaching, by again stating that
not everyone can accept this idea of the celibate life, but if you can, embrace
it.

 

 

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The Christ Given Identity

 


We pray for God’s Kingdom to come and His will to be done on
earth as it is in Heaven. It is an open invitation for God to have the upper
hand and fill the world with His best intentions for Creation.

 

The truth is we do not enter God’s Kingdom and it does not
come to us because of our merit, entitlement, or feeble presentation skills.
The Kingdom comes to earth in the form of a Divine ruler named Jesus Christ. He
is Lord and those who are humble and meek receive their King.

 

Paul clearly states that there are no earthly or religious
descriptions that bind us to the King of Heaven.

 

Galatians 3:

26 So
in Christ Jesus you are all children of God by believing in Christ. 27 This
is because all of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. You
have put him on as if he were your clothes. 28 There is no Jew
or Gentile. There is no slave or free person. There is no male or female.
That’s because you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 You who
belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed. So, you will receive what God has
promised.

 

 

All these identifiers fall short of God’s plan to open his
new, wild country to us. In fact, we cannot see ourselves as saints unless we
burn the old passport and receive the new one. What is sin? It is a failure to
live in the better way that God has for his children. It is when we settle for
the orphan identity instead of the adopted child. Sin is personal and it keeps
you from becoming more like Jesus.

 

 

1 Corinthians 6:

Don’t
you know that people who do wrong will not receive God’s kingdom? Don’t be
fooled. Those who commit sexual sins will not receive the kingdom. Neither will
those who worship statues of gods or commit adultery. Neither will men who
sleep with other men. 10 Neither will thieves or those who
always want more and more. Neither will those who are often drunk or tell lies
or cheat. People who live like that will not receive God’s kingdom. 11 Some
of you used to do those things. But your sins were washed away. You were made
holy. You were made right with God. All of this was done in the name of the
Lord Jesus Christ. It was also done by the Spirit of our God.

 

 

So, it’s clear that how you are can hold you back from God.
Don’t settle for being less than a child of God. If you are same sex attracted,
if you are gender dysphoric, if you are having affairs  and if you are trapped in behaviours you
cannot seem to stop; bring it all to Jesus and become his disciple. None of the
desires of your flesh or the names you give yourself will ever stand up to the
new name that God gives to His children.

 

You used to do those things, but your sins were washed away,
and you were made holy because God’s Spirit is changing you from the inside
out. God has made the way of escape through Jesus. Are you there yet? The
destination is set in your GPS, you just have stay on the road to the end of
the journey.

 

I know you will get lost along the way and have to retrace
your route, but the Holy Spirit is an auto-correct that will constantly monitor
where you are at and direct you back to the straight road.

 

 

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Reading The Canadian Sex Stats

 


Statistics can be used in many ways to make observations.
While there can be a margin of error, numbers help us to organize, prioritize
and identify trends, anomalies, and patterns. In Canada, we have a census that
gathers many kinds of data on Canadians. The Statistics Canada website is
available for those of us who want to know what the number is and possible
changes over time.

 

For instance, did you know that Canada surpassed forty
million inhabitants in 2023? October 1st has an estimate of
40,528,396?
[1]

 

The Windsor CMA (Census Metropolitan Area) which extends
downriver to Amherstburg and communities along the 401 until Tilbury has a
population of 359,672 as of 2022.
[2]

 

Did you know?

  • Canada is home to
    approximately 1 million people who are LGBTQ2+.
  • An estimated 1 million
    people in Canada are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or of another sexual
    orientation than heterosexual – representing 4% of the Canadian population
    aged 15 years and older. Among this population, about 52% are women, 44%
    are men, and 3% are non-binary.
  • Looking specifically at
    gender diversity, about 100,815 people in Canada are transgender (59,460)
    or non-binary (41,355), accounting for 0.33% of the population aged 15
    years and over. Among transgender people, 53% were women and 47% were men.
    [3]

 

Percentages are how we establish majority and minority
designations. The truth of the Canadian numbers is that 4% of people identify
as someone other than a heterosexual man or woman and 1/3 of 1% identify as
transgender and/or non-binary.

 

Without making any derogatory inference, 4% is a minority
group. LGBTQ2+ altogether are sexual minorities. That also means that 96% of
the population over age 15 identify as male and female heterosexuals.

 

Characteristically, minority populations are outnumbered and
have a different experience from the majority. How the majority acts and feels
toward the minority is as varied as how the minority acts and feels toward the
majority.

 

So, moving beyond numbers, what is the vision for the
Kingdom of God and how does that shape the relationship that Christians are to
have with the rest of the world?

 

 

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Dancing In The Minefields

 


Before I talk about theology and its impact on sexual
identity and sexual behaviours, I would qualify what I have to start with an
explanation of what I’m trying to do.

 

1.    
I am a sexual being with sexual desires and take
my responsibilities around that seriously. I am trying to love God by
submitting myself to the way of Jesus and learning to live each day in
surrender to God’s will.

2.    
No-one’s sin is worse than mine. I am called by
God to turn away from it and be sexually whole.

3.    
I am trying to love my neighbour(s) as myself. That
means I want the same thing for my neighbour that I have received from God. I
want my neighbour to discover the deeper identity that supersedes all others.

4.    
I am letting the Scriptures teach me about my
truest identity, not as a heterosexual male or any other identity, but as a
child of God.

5.    
I am inviting others to follow Jesus as the
Supreme person and guide for their life. I cannot mandate or demand that, but I
can share what I’m experiencing.

6.    
I am determined to love each person that I come
in contact with. I am not LGBTQ-phobic and am not excluded from sharing
thoughts because I am a white, heterosexual male. I don’t believe in racial
superiority. The patriarchy is not my operating system, the Kingdom of God is.

 

And now let us dance in a minefield…

 

 

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When The Good Thing Becomes An Idol

 


If God made a good world and created us to be very good, we
need to understand that there is an order to goodness. If any good thing is
elevated from good to replace God, it becomes an idol of worship. It becomes a
dead representation made of wood or stone that has no life in itself.

 

As we continue to deep dive into Scripture, we will find
that good things can leave their rightful place and be established as
substitute gods to be worshipped. We will explore that idea further as we go
along.

 

Without the saving work of Jesus and the change empowerment
by the Holy Spirit, we will wander astray from intimacy with God and worship
distorted ideas of what is good. It is so vital that a disciple of Jesus
worship and serve God above their own loneliness, longings, and feelings of
entitlement. Married or single people following Jesus are called to a
surrendered sexuality.

 

David Hazzard said,

 

As followers of Jesus, we recognize and appreciate the
gift of sexuality. We are aware that we are sexual beings. But we also
recognize that we are so much more than that. When we are alive with Christ,
our core identity is not established by our inner impulses or by cultural
categories. It is established when we embrace the profound message of Easter
and when we allow the Spirit to empower us to live out our real identity
.
[1]

 

We are just scratching the surface here. So many questions
to unpack. Are you willing to receive the grace that Jesus has for you in your
situation?  God is beyond very good. He
knows what you are dealing with and wants to love you into holiness.

 

 

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The Mystery Of Marriage

 


Coming back to my original question, “What does following
Jesus have to do with my sex life?”

 

There are many variations throughout history on what a
marriage is, but the disciple of Jesus is looking for God’s best intentions. If
the underlying premise is the need for a man to have helper/companion, it
follows suit that a woman needs someone to embrace her strengths and let her
shine a light into that which needs to be developed in him.

 

There is a mutuality built into a godly marriage that makes
two stronger together than one alone.

 

 

Genesis 2:25b
    Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and
embraces his wife. They become one flesh.
    The two of them, the Man, and his Wife, were naked, but
they felt no shame.

 

 

What starts as the intimate acceptance of one another leads
to embrace. Embracing will lead to sexual union and unashamed nakedness. The
sexual life of a disciple in this context is centred in intimate acceptance and
sexual activity without shame.

 

In this context sex is very good and very holy. There is a
mystery about this that goes deeper than two people having a pleasurable
experience and/or endeavouring to have a baby.

 


 

Ephesians 5:

25 Husbands,
love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that
he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the
word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in
splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and
without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their
wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For
no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ
does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore
a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two
shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am
saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let
each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she
respects her husband.

 

 

The Orthodox Study Bible has this to say about this
mysterious way that two become one flesh.

 

God, not man, established the law of marriage; therefore,
marriage is holy. In the marriage union, the husband and wife become one
flesh
, which St. Paul calls “a great mystery”. This mystery is so great and
wonderful that a man will leave his father and mother with their blessing and
be joined to a woman in marriage. In this joining, he will be devoted to her
with sacrificial love and devotion, and she to him.

This great mystery points to the greater mystery: the
marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church. For He left His Father and became
Man to seek a Bride. He loved His Bride and gave Himself for her. And in his
divine vision of the new heaven and earth, the apostle John saw this Bride, the
“New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband”.
[1]

 



[1] Orthodox Study Bible ©2008 by St. Athanasius Academy
of Orthodox Theology

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Whole Lot Different, Whole Lot The Same

 


When God made a helper/companion for Adam, he did not simply
clone him to replicate every thought, emotion, and idea. He created someone
that was a whole lot different at the core, but also a whole lot the same.

 

In the King James Version of the Bible, Genesis 2:18 says, And the Lord God said, It is not good that
the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”

 

We can understand this to mean that God gave Adam a helper
that will meet the need for his intimacy; that is his need for the right kind
of companion to partner with.

 

Digging into the original Hebrew text we find two words that
are used here to describe this. The word used for help is ezer. Bible
scholar David Freedman says this:

 

Ezer – This word is a combination of two roots, one
meaning “to rescue”, “to save,” and the other meaning “to be strong.” Just as
the roots merged into one word, so did their meanings. At first ezer meant
either “to save” or “to be strong,” but in time, said Freedman, ezer “was
always interpreted as ‘to help’ a mixture of both nuances.”
[1]

 

God’s idea is that the woman will help the man by being
strong and rescue or save him. This has no connotation of codependency or
imbalance in the relationship. A man’s suitable companion is the one who brings
her strength to bear and who has the Jesus-like quality of a saviour.

 

She reflects the image of God to him.

 

The other Hebrew word used for the idea of ‘meeting his
need
’ is k’enegdo. It contains another important aspect of what is
suitable according to God for meeting the man’s companionship need. K’enegdo
is only used once in the Bible, so it is a little hard to know exactly what
the word means, but in her book
‘Forgotten Women of God’[2],
Diana Webb said this:

 

“Neged, a related word which means “against”, was one of
the first words I learned in Hebrew. I thought it was very strange that God
would create a companion for Adam that was “against” him! Later, I learned that
k’enegdo could also mean “in front of” or “opposite.” This still didn’t help
much. Finally, I heard it explained as being “exactly corresponding to,” like
when you look at yourself in a mirror.”

 

Combining these two words for one who helps meet the need,
we get this idea that a man needs a woman that is not just at his side but also
opposite to him. In the ways, that an insecure man feels that the woman is
against him, he is actually facing the weakness that is in himself. She is
showing him something that needs strength applied and how he needs to be saved.

 

If you think that marriage is about finding the person who
won’t expose your weakness, you may have the wrong idea. God wants to
strengthen and save you and will use your partner to help you see yourself more
clearly.

 

The Creation story goes on to describe what God does and how
man reacts.

 

Genesis 2:

21-22 God put the Man into a deep sleep. As
he slept, he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with
flesh. God then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make
Woman and presented her to the Man.

23-25a     The Man said,
“Finally! Bone of my bone,
    flesh of my flesh!
Name her Woman
    for she was made from Man.”

 

 

Adam immediately recognizes that God has made a companion
that is a whole lot different and a whole lot the same.

 



[1] Beverly Campbell, Eve And The Choice Made In Eden,
Bookcraft Pubs ©2002.

[2] Diana Webb, Forgotten Women of God, Bonneville;
Illustrated Edition ©2010.

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