Dialogue with Charlotte
Howard: Hi, Charlotte.
Charlotte: Hey, Howard. How’re you doing?
Howard: Oh, fine. I was hoping we could talk some more about this homosexual issue. I know you think you have all the answers, but I still don’t get how you can believe the Bible yet accept homosexuality like there’s nothing wrong with it. The whole Bible condemns homosexuality, Old Testament and New Testament.
Charlotte: Okay, and you’re willing to quote the Old Testament Law even though it doesn’t apply anymore?
Howard: Of course it applies, except for dietary laws and a few odd laws that don’t apply.
Charlotte: So you don’t follow the dietary laws, well, that’s good. I really wouldn’t like to give up ham and shrimp to be a Christian. And why is that you can apply some laws and ignore others?
Howard: From what I’ve read, it’s because the Law is divided into three sections, the Moral Law, the Civil Law, and the Ceremonial Law. God cancelled the Ceremonial Law. For example, the New Testament specifically says that the dietary laws don’t apply to us. Peter had a vision of all the unclean animals, and God tells him to eat. That’s in Acts 10.
Charlotte: Yeah, I’ve read that, too. And God tells Peter not to call unclean anything that he has called clean. So then, the Moral Law is more important than the Ceremonial Law?
Howard: Yes. The Moral Law, like the Ten Commandments, still apply. And no where in the Bible, Old Testament or New Testament, does it say that homosexuality is okay.
Charlotte: Well, I’m not sure that’s true, but what does the Old Testament say about homosexuality? You’ve got your Bible there.
Howard: Oh, I know that one. If a man lays with man, as he lays with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon their own heads.
Charlotte: So the dietary laws don’t apply to us, but this verse does apply to us, right?
Howard: Of course.
Charlotte: Well, have you talked with your friends at church about doing your part? You need to stone Derrick and Mark to death, right? They’re gay, and this verse says “they shall surely be put to death.” The Iran actually execute homosexuals, so it really is an option in this day and age, right? Lots of Christians in Uganda want to imprison them for life, if not execute them. There are Christians in America who think we should put them to death.
Howard: Who believes that?! Nobody believes that.
Charlotte: The main main guy I’ve heard of is R.J. Rushdoony.
Howard: Don’t know him.
Charlotte: R.J. Rushdoony. He’s a Dominionist. He believes that we need to apply the entire Bible, including the Old Testament death penalty for blasphemy and working on the Sabbath, to our government.
Howard: Yeah, but you can’t take him to represent Christians. I never even heard of him.
Charlotte: If you’re going to be a pastor, you should look into this. I read about him on the internet, and there’s a whole bunch of people who bought into his Christians-taking-over-the-government idea: James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Randall Terry, Pat Robertson, Charles Colson, and a bunch of others.
Even today there are tons of people who want to impose their religious values on others. Jesus never imposed his message on anybody. People were totally free to follow him or reject him. Remember how the Jewish people wanted their Messiah to come as a king, and force his will on the governments of the world? But that wasn’t his plan. How is it that we are supposed to take the exact opposite approach that Jesus took? To me, people who want to use politics to accomplish God’s still don’t understand Jesus’ way.
Howard: Charlotte, you can’t hold me responsible for what other Christians believe. I’m sure that James Dobson doesn’t believe in the death penalty for blasphemy. There are lots of Christians I disagree with about a whole lot of issues and beliefs. I would never vote for executing gays and lesbians.
Charlotte: I know that Howard, but don’t you see how if you impose one half of a verse on someone else, you are obligated to follow the other half yourself?
Howard: You’re being silly, Charlotte.
Charlotte: I don’t think so, Howard. Do you really think we can take one half of a verse and say it applies today, but the second half of the verse doesn’t apply? I know you don’t believe that! (smiles and laughs) Are you ready to execute Derrick and Mark?
Howard: (rolls eyes) Obviously not.But there’s a principal here. Homosexuals must not be tolerated among God’s People. Homosexual acts are vile. The Bible calls them abominations.
Charlotte: Howard, may I ask you a personal question?
Charlotte: Howard, I know this is a really personal question, but do you masturbate?
Howard: (laughs) What?!
Charlotte: Do you masturbate?
Charlotte: How often?
Howard: Charlotte! Give me a break!
Charlotte: Seriously. How often?
Howard: Well–I can’t believe you’re asking me about that–it depends. Gee whiz–sometimes once or twice a week, sometimes once or twice a day. But I can go for weeks or months without doing it. What’s this about? What about you? Do you masturbate?
Charlotte: Yes, I do.I don’t have a problem with it. Do you?
Howard: Well, yes–I do have a problem with it. It’s wrong; it’s impure.
Charlotte: Why do you say it’s wrong and impure? Is that in the Bible?
Howard: Well, not exactly, but it is. Jesus said that if we lust after a woman in our hearts, it’s just the same as actually committing adultery, because we committed adultery in our hearts.
Charlotte: You’re single though, right?So for you I guess masturbating isn’t adultery, but fornication?
Howard: What’s this about?
Charlotte: Howard, I’m sorry this is so personal, but how many times would you say you’ve fornicated?
Howard: Well, you mean literally fornicated? Never. Although I came close once. But if you mean the other, I dunno, I guess . . . hundreds?
Howard: Is this necessary?
Charlotte: I’m sorry, Howard, but it really is. So you’re thinking about being a pastor someday, but you have masturbated hundreds of times. When was the last time?
Howard: Okay, that’s it. I don’t have to answer these questions. (Turns to leave.)
Charlotte: Too personal?
Howard: Absolutely! I don’t even talk about this with my guy friends.
Charlotte: Howard, I don’t get it. You feel perfectly willing to talk publicly about other people’s sexual habits, condemn other people’s sexuality as vile, but you aren’t willing to talk about your own.
Howard, you habitually masturbate, which you think is fornication. You don’t have victory over this habit that bothers you, yet you are thinking about being a pastor? How does that work?
Howard: I repent. I feel bad about my sin, I’m sorry. Repent, and God forgives you.
Charlotte: Does the same go for a believer who is gay or lesbian? That they feel sorry and repent whenever they have sex, but have gay sex once or twice a week, once or twice a day, but have weeks or months where they can abstain? Do you think that a sexually active gay Christian should be allowed into ministry on those terms?
Howard: No. It’s, it’s different.
Charlotte: Howard, I’m sorry, but it really isn’t. According to you, God has forgiven you of fornication hundreds of times, yet you are qualified for ministry. But a gay who fornicates is not eligible for ministry.
Howard: There’s a difference between sins of the mind and actual sins.
Charlotte: You’re serious.
Howard: Yes. Murdering someone in my heart is different from actually murdering them.
Charlotte: Paul said that people who commit the sins of the depraved mind are worthy of death. Doesn’t sound all that different to me.
Howard: (shakes head) No, no. It’s not the same. They’re not the same.
Charlotte: Okay, that’s fine. Explain to me how they’re different, Howard.
Howard: They just are. God specifically condemns homosexuality, in no uncertain terms. Homosexuality is a sin, a vile sin.
Charlotte: And how is that different from fornication? You know Victor? He’s gay, but he’s never even had sex. He wouldn’t be allowed to sing in your church choir or teach Sunday school, but you can, right?
Howard: God gives me seasons of victory over sin. I struggle against it, and sometimes I have victory for weeks or even months. It’s not the same!
Charlotte: Howard, easy. I don’t condemn you for masturbation. I don’t think God really cares that much about it. I think he cares a lot more about school shootings and government corruption and corporate greed, don’t you? Things that actually hurt people? Do you really think God wants you feeling condemned over a wet dream? About some random impulse?
Howard: It says in the Old Testament that it’s a sin to spill your seed on the ground.
Charlotte: Is that like it’s wrong to let the flag touch the ground? Is your sperm sacred or something? Are we talking about sperm worship? Howard, that’s just weird.
I’m sorry, Howard. I’m a female. Maybe things are different for women and men. That could be. But if I had to choose between never having a stray sexual thought and preventing kids from committing suicide, I’d save the kids. My salvation doesn’t depend on me being 100% pure anyway. My salvation is secure in Christ. He is my advocate. He defends me against my accusers.
Howard: Doesn’t matter. I stand by the word of God.
Charlotte: Howard, if you stand by the word of God, then you can’t divide up a single verse, and pick and choose what you like and what you don’t like. I’m sorry, but you divide the Old Testament Law into three sections, but the Bible itself doesn’t do that. There is only one Law.
Remember in James? Whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. And in Galatians where Paul quotes the Law, Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law. And where God urged the Israelites to be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them. And take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses. The Bible doesn’t separate the Law into different sections.
Howard, as long as you are wallowing in condemnation over spilling your seed, you’ll keep on condemning gays and lesbians for their sexuality. It’s called projection. You’re projecting your sense of worthlessness and disgust on somebody else. It’s the whole scapegoat thing.
God has already forgiven your sins, Howard. He has separated your sin from you, as far as the east is from the west. He has cast the memory of your sin into the deepest sea. The things that torment you don’t even matter to God. He’s already forgiven the sins you’re going to commit tomorrow. When you stumble into sin, God won’t even notice, because it’s already covered. So why are you tormented by something that God doesn’t worry about?
Howard: So I can just indulge my sinful nature whenever I want, and it’s okay? I don’t think so.
Charlotte: Howard, there are people who need your ministry and your love, just like people needed Jesus. The more you’re paying attention to people who need your love, the less time and energy you’ll have for petty distractions. And that’s all this is–a petty distraction. Satan is using this to distract you from people who need your kindness and love. But you have to meet them first, and know them, before God can love them through you. But you’re too busy feeling guilty and condemned.
Howard: Charlotte, are you saying it’s okay to ignore sin?
Charlotte: Howard, I don’t think it’s a sin. But if it is for you, then it’s in that area of the conscience. God isn’t bothered by your sin, because that’s all been taken care of on the cross. Unless your salvation depends on never masturbating, which I really doubt. When you really grasp God’s forgiveness of your sin, and understand that God forgives their sin the same way, then you’ll understand what your attitude towards them should be, too. Then you’ll have the mind of Christ.
Howard: I dunno, Charlotte. I feel like there’s something wrong with your reasoning, but I can’t put my finger on it.
Charlotte: Howard, you might be right. Maybe there is something wrong with my reasoning. But isn’t this a situation of straining at gnats and swallowing camels? You’re mired up in guilt over something so small, and ignoring more serious problems like your friends’ loneliness and despair and cruelty and suicide?
Howard: Doesn’t sanctification mean anything to you?
Charlotte: Of course it does. I want to be set apart for God, but to me that means I am set apart to love people the way Jesus did, not set apart from petty bad habits.
Howard: I need to go. See you around.
Charlotte: El Shaddai, give Howard clarity on this. Help him to see the people around him who need his love, his kindness, and his companionship. Deliver him from the chains of condemnation that interfere with his ability to love. He has a lot to offer, God. Make him an instrument of thy peace.
Exactly! Well dialogued. Thank you for this.
A FB friend of mine, Vicki Cook, told me last week that she actually asked her anti-gay pastor if he masturbated. He didn’t answer her. It takes a woman to ask that question, I think.