March 15, 2011

Are We Really BORN This Way?

The last few days I can't stop listening to the new Passion album, "Here For You". It's amazing! But this morning I started thinking about the last album, "Awakening", remembering that Steve Fee was part of that conference and project. My heart broke last year when I found out that Steve confessed to having an affair. This led to his stepping down from leadership at North Point (in Atlanta), being removed from conferences and youth camps everywhere, and seemingly falling off the proverbial radar. And for the record, I support anyone who has fallen in the area of purity and breaking their marriage covenant being removed from leadership. Sin has to be taken seriously! (But so does restoration.) I also for some strange reason began thinking about another significant event in the life of "Christian music" last year. Long-time CCM star Jennifer Knapp had literally disappeared. She went from touring with Third Day and others to "No one knows where Jennifer Knapp went!" Until 2010 went she suddenly reappeared, only to shock the world - or at least the Christian world - with the headlining news, "I'm gay. And I've been living with my lover in Australia." [And this is where the disconnect enters the picture.]

What I find very confusing and disturbing about these 2 scenarios is that Steve Fee confessed sin, was removed from leadership - status revoked - and (I can only hope and pray) helped onto a path of spiritual restoration. Jennifer Knapp, on the other hand, confessed sin - only it wasn't confessed as "sin", but as a "lifestyle choice" - was reinserted into the public, and thereafter affirmed and encouraged by many artists who profess Christianity, "Way to go Jennifer! You're so brave and courageous." Is there not a gross misunderstanding of scripture, admonition, and sin in this scenario? Was anyone saying, "Way to go, Steve!"? 

These are symptoms of a much bigger issue. The issue is that war is being waged on our souls to contort scripture so we can conform to sin. It's the antithesis of Romans 12:1-2. It's the proof of Romans 1:18-32. It's the evidence of 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Let me explain.

If I began having an affair and a friend of mine found out about it, hopefully he would sit down with me, lovingly and compassionately confront me, and boldly exhort me to "turn from my sin!" (I know a couple of my friends who would threaten my life!) But what if I listened to what he had to say, paused for a few moments of awkward and painful silence, only to let him in on the secret I've been carrying and hiding all these years now: "I was born an adulterer. That's right. I've spent years hiding it, trying to convince myself it's not true. But it actually took me getting married, having 2 children, and spending years in the ministry before I could come to grips with it. It's genetic. It's biological. I was born this way!" Anyone in their right mind, after holding back the laughter, shock, and disbelief, would look me in the face and explain to me, "No. You evidently were born an idiot!" Before you cave in to or push back from my absurdity, please understand: this is the same logic and self-gratifying ideal and worldview allows or causes a person struggling with homosexuality to say, "I was born this way." 

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the Apostle Paul tells us that "...those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers - none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God." (Further affirmed in Gal. 5:19-21, Eph. 5:5, Rev. 22:15) Use the same lens with any of these other sins. Would someone have the audacity to say, "Sorry man, I was born a drunk!" Or "This is just the way I was born - a greedy, swindling prostitute." No! You aren't BORN a drunk, an abuser, an adulterer, a liar, an idol worshiper, or a homosexual. You were born a SINNER! I came into this world depraved. ["Rooted is the seed of death in life's first breath."] "When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam's sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned." (Romans 5:12) A person can argue all they want that the particular sin they wrestle with was given to them at birth like a gift. This is self-centered and unbiblical. It's an unfounded lie. It's the Enemy's way of persuading us to contort the truth so we can conform to sin. I had to confess to my church family this past Sunday that before I began walking with Christ I struggled severely with lust. It was constantly defeating! But as a Christ-follower, I have gained more and more victory over this in the past 20 years than I can begin to explain. I wasn't born a professional agent of lust: I was born a sinner. Thankfully at age 19, I stopped buying the lie!

The GOOD news is that when I choose to follow Christ - the GREAT High Priest who "...offered Himself to God as one sacrifice for sins, good for all time" - He makes me "a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." On our own, we have no capacity, ability, or desire to overcome or walk away from sin. But when we come to know Jesus Christ - when the Spirit of the One, True, Living God inhabits our lives - we CAN overcome! 1 John 3:6 tells us that "No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him." This doesn't mean that when I begin to follow Christ that I'm done sinning. Hardly! But it does mean that I become more and more aware of my sin and my heart becomes more and more grieved over it and I confess and repent of it more and more, coming back to the path of holiness and righteousness that Christ died so that I could walk. "Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil." (1 John 3:7-8, italics mine)

I believe that many people are apprehensive and afraid of calling sin what it is because we are recovering from decades of the "church" losing sight of biblical and compassionate confrontation. Somewhere along the line, for some reason - fear, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, bad theology - Christians became angry. Righteous indignation is one thing. Venomous hate and condemnation is another! [And if you want to use Christ as your example, remember the only time He got seriously angry it had to do with corruption, greed, and money.] Christ loved. He loved the woman who was drug to Him by the Pharisees. He told them, "Whoever of you is without sin, you can be the first to stone (judge) her." And yes, they all crawled away with their tails between their legs. But do NOT forget the words of exhortation and love that Christ spoke to her as she began to walk away: "Go; and from now on...sin no more."

I love Jennifer Knapp. And I love Steve Fee. But I believe they have both been deceived into believing - at some point - that sin was (and is) something other than sin. We are warned that this temptation will come. It's been here from the beginning! "...they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator..." As Christ-followers, we are to live in constant victory over sin. Victory that we have to claim, embrace, and take hold of. Paul exhorts us in Romans 6:13, "Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness." There are people close to me - people that I love dearly - who are struggling with the sin of homosexuality. There are also people I love who wrestle with lying, cheating, jealousy, bitterness, and pride. Man, do I wrestle with pride! But I'm praying that we understand we have to keep wrestling! We are called to overcome! We are set free to "abide in Christ" and "go and sin no more". The question is, will we see sin for what it truly is: SIN. Will we realize that while we were born in sin, we are REBORN to overcome it? Or will we contort, distort, and ignore scripture so we can continue to conform to sin?

Dig Deeper:
1 John 1:5-9, 3:4-10
Romans 1:18-32, 6:1-23
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Genesis 18:1-19:29
Hebrews 10:29-31
2 Peter 2:4-10


Jennifer said...

I love your passion and the fact that there are still Christ followers out there that are not succumbing to society's lies! Thank you for being such a great voice for the truth, straight from the Bible!

journey runner said...

Thanks Brian for posting this. I, too have friends who struggle with homosexuality and have really wondered at times if they WERE born that way- since we are all born with a sin nature. But I knew in my heart that it didn't line up with Scripture. Your comments just made the light bulb come on for me, and helped me see the absurdity in that particular argument. May we boldly and humbly dispense both grace and truth to those brothers and sisters around us for the purpose of exposing the lies and traps that the enemy sets up for us. When I see it in that light, Biblical confrontation is a gift! Thanks for the good word, buddy!!

Sidney said...

Like the other responder I have friends and family who are gay and in fact are not struggling. They have accepted that, yes, this is who they are. Their families have accepted them and love them for who they are.
If you have never witnessed the suffering of young gay men and women who try so hard not to be who they are in order to please people who (they fear) could not love the "real" them then maybe you need to do a bit more research.
Being gay is not just a lifestyle choice. It is who they are. And, perhaps I am naive, but the God I pray to knows what is in the hearts of his children and loves them unconditionally.

Alice said...

Romans 9:1
[ Paul’s Anguish Over Israel ] I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—

Hebrews 10:22
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
2 Corinthians 4:2
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

Thank you Brian for telling the truth, when I became a Christian I remember clearly that suddenly I had a conscience and realized that was the Holy Spirit revealing to me when I was not in accord with God's will for me.

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Anonymous said...

I have about five people in my family who are homosexuals. They don't struggle with it (homosexuality) they thrive in it. However when I witness to them I do not allow them to use the argument I was born this way.

I use the analogy that a person can be born with a predisposition for anti-social behavior, however when he murders someone he is still sent to jail. Sin is still a crime against God’s law.

I'm not sure why the Christian community has stop making sin exceedingly sinful, and taken the worldly approach to many type of sin.

GaGodChaser said...

I agree that those who are gay have a genetic disposition to a certain extent. I beleive we are all born with a disposition toward sin. That is where the power of God comes in. When we claim the name of Christ, we are also given the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome anything, even if it a genetic defect or predisposition. Even though environments does a lot to shape who we become and the choices we make, there are still those who overcome "the way they were raised". It could be said that Jeffrey Dahmer couldn't control his actions because of his abusive childhood yet we see examples everyday (myself included) that have overcome their pasts and their genetic dispositions or weaknesses and grown to be fuctional adults who do not murder and eat their victims. The problem lies in the fact that disciplship is not really modeled. Paul Washer uses the example of having an encounter with a train. Having an encounter with a train is a life-changing, life-altering experience. It is not something you forget. It changes your life. God is much bigger than a train. How can we have an experience with a train and not be changed? Maybe we only dreamed we had an experience. Being a believer means that you are different. Even though you are prone and suseptable to the same sins as everyone else, you are not taken captive by them. Putting a lable on something and saying we are "Struggling" with a particular sin is nothing more than saying, "I don't believe God has the power to cleanse me of this sin".
Being a believer doesn't mean you are immune to sin. If you were gay before you were a believer, chances are, you will be gay afterwards. If all about the choices. God doesn't say that you have to be attracted to members of the opposite sex to serve Him. All we have to do is love the Lord our God, with all our heart, soul and mind and our neighbor as ourself. Since I am a human, I have a genetic disposition that makes me a muderer, adulterer and all manner of horrible things. Marrying and having offspring is not what makes you righteous before God. Christ does. Thank you for your post.