Archives For intentional living

I always want to be a better dad.  When I finally achieve “best dad of all time” staus, I’ll still want to be a better dad.  Today’s post is meant to inspire us dads to be intentional in our dadliness.

My friend Carlos Whittaker (known in the Twittersphere as @loswhit, father of viral video star ‘lil los, and the uber-creative behind ragamuffinsoul.com) continues to be inspiring on so many levels.  But I gotta give him props for this one as a top five on the all-time greatest dad moves of the 21st Century.

I don’t have girls… I’ve got my own hockey team of boys, but no mascara, barrettes, no pink, no lip gloss.  However… if I were a dad of girls, I’d be all over this stuff.  Carlos’ daughter just turned 8.  As a Taylor Swift fan, she wanteded to host a Taylor Swift party.

But in the words of Carlos, “if you know the Whittakers, you know that did not mean Taylor Swift cups and plates from Walmart.”  No sir. They invited a pile of her friends over and produced a video, complete with make-up and hairstyling, lighting effects, plenty of dancing about and general frolicking in wee cowgirl boots.  Dads, whether your home is full of Barbies and ballet slippers or cluttered with baseball gear like our home is, we can all learn something from Carlos here…

Don’t wait for the moments.  Make the moments.  Amen.

If you want to drop Carlos a note about this, find his original post here and check out ragamuffinsoul.com often.  He will inspire your faith, fuel your creative energy, and encourage you.

May we dads be intentional in our parenting.  A little planning goes a LONG way, guys.  God bless you and of all our kiddos.

superchristian

August 11, 2011

June 5, 2011.  Living Hope Church in St. Michael-Albertville, MN.

If anyone can be considered a Superchristian, it’s the apostle Peter, right?  He was a man of action.  He was a hero.  And we need heroes, don’t we?  But we are risking a lot when we expect our heroes to be more than men.  We are risking a lot more when we set ourselves up as a Superchristian to be looked up to by… the regular Christians out there.

Even Peter was an embarrassment.

A man of action.  A hero.  An embarrassment.  And then… REDEEMED.   The world needs a hero.  Are you that hero?  I hope you know better…

Click on the tab below to stream the audio…


Creative Commons License
“superchristian” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

It’s that time again.  Once in awhile it is healthy to take a break.  Because I’m an active technology user, I need to step away once in awhile to remind myself that I use technology with a purpose, or it will use me.

This weekend is the unofficial (but recognized) kick-off to summer, and our family is heading up North for a little vacation.  We have often taken JUNE off from television/technology in the last few years.  I’m going to follow that tradition this year, too.

Also, for those of you who know me best, you have seen how much of my life has been wrapped up in late nights and early mornings studying.  My family has not seen much of me these last nine months, and I haven’t seen enough of them, either.  I’ve got a few more assignments to wrap up before next Friday, and then I’m deeply looking forward to going on more dates, playing catch and reading with my kids, and basically being present with and for them.

I’m overdue for a tech Sabbath.  It seems like the time is right.  I’m not done blogging or tweeting or Facebooking altogether (unless the Lord so leads), but for now, I’m getting off the train.  Catch up with y’all later this summer!  God bless.

You cannot control other people.  Repeat after me… “I cannot control other people.” Good.  At the going rate for professional therapy, you all owe me $175.

This may or may not seem elementary, but I’ll tell you why I’m writing about it today… We don’t really believe this.

I want to help you with something that I wrestle with myself.  When we are confronted with a conflict of some kind, the kind of conflict that requires a face-to-face let’s-talk-this-out meeting, our job is to do everything possible to steer the ship toward peace with everyone.  It’s not about proving your case, or demanding justice, or sticking it to the other guy because you are just so right this time… It’s supposed to be about relational repair.  Peace.

That’s what the Bible says, right?  Romans 12:18 says straight up:  “Live at peace with everyone.”

At least, some of us think that’s what the Biblical standard is.  Peace with everyone.  At all times.  No matter what.  Turn the other cheek.  Seventy times seven.  Logs and specks.  You, know… be a doormat for the Lord. This is the path of least resistance.  For us to be at peace with everyone, we can’t take a firm position or stand up for ourselves or confront someone if they’ve wronged us, then, right?  Because for us to be at peace with everyone, we need everyone to be at peace with us… right?

Repeat after me, “I cannot control other people.” Perfect.  That’ll be $350.

Of course Romans 12:18 has more to say than “Live at peace with everyone.”  And while I’m certainly not discounting Jesus’ commands to radical forgiveness, cheek-turning, and humility, let’s be clear on what we are and what we are NOT called to do in cases of relational tension.

Roman’s 12:18 in it’s ENTIRETY reads like this:  “IF it is possible, and AS FAR AS IT DEPENDS ON YOU, live at peace with everyone.

In other words, it might not always be possible.  Paul understands.  God understands.  Why is this the case?  “You cannot control other people.” Plain and simple.  God doesn’t hold you accountable for the other person’s behavior OR for their REACTION to your attempts at relational reconcilliation.  That’s why this verse is more of a comfort to me than a command.  The phrase that liberates me from religious striving for the impossible standard is this: “…as far as it depends on you…”

Some of you need to take that good news to heart.  Some of you are locked right now in a relational conflict that you cannot control.  Some of you are experiencing deep pain, or are feeling that your inner sense of justice has been violated again and again, because there is someone in your life who refuses to treat you with respect.  Some of you are shouldering  a heavy weight of guilt because you feel like you can’t fix it. And you’re not at peace.  And you’re supposed to be at peace with people.

Once again, and I won’t even bill you for it… “I cannot control other people.”

Jesus wants you to lay that guilt down.  And I don’t mean to put words in His mouth… that’s dangerous ground.  But I can be confident in this case, because we are not called to shoulder the responsibility for other people’s sinful behavior.  If you are weighed down by a broken relationship, I have good news.

First Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)  You are not called to take responsibility for other people’s relational baggage.  Lay it down.

Second, Paul says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you…”  You re not called to take responsibility for other people’s relational baggage.  Lay it down.

Our part is hard enough.  In fact, our part is impossible.  Seventy times seven is an idiom meaning “forever, without end.” How often should we go on forgiving people according to Matthew 18:22?  Forever. And if you’re in a broken relationship with another person who is continuing to wound you or treat you with disrespect or disregard, neverending forgiveness might sound impossible all on it’s own, to say nothing of restoring that relationship to peace.  But that is where Jesus strength is made perfect in you – when you are weak.  And that is where, abiding in Christ, we are being transformed into His likeness with ever increasing glory.  Neverending forgiveness may seem impossible.  But it’s not intended to be something that you give and give and give to the OTHER person…  It is something that you RELEASE from yourself again and again.

Release the need to control the situation.  Release the need to see justice come down on the offending other party.  Release the feeling that your reputation – or more significant, your identity –  is dictated by this other person.  Forgiveness is a command of God because He wants to protect your heart. From bitterness and self-centeredness and self-pity and from sin.

So, with God’s help, let go of the need to hold the other guy accountable.  Your mom may never change.  That coworker or classmate may continue to treat you badly.  Your spouse may not be the person you dreamed they would become if only you loved them enough.  Forgive them – and let God be their judge.  Over and over.  Forever.  As far as it depends on you.

But that is as far as you can go.  As far as it depends on you.  Because you cannot control other people.

This does NOT mean you forget.  This does NOT mean you continue to put yourself in a position to be wounded.  This does NOT mean you don’t stand up for yourself when necessary.  This does NOT mean you have to be a doormat for the Lord.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

If peace is not possible, it is NOT your fault.  If you have forgiven and extended kindness and it is rejected or met with contempt, it is NOT your fault.  As far as it depends on you.

Lay it down.

Creative Commons License
“i know you’re right, but you still can’t pray that he gets trampled by a herd of rabid wildebeast” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Hello. Um, is this thing on?  I’m Joshua…. and I’m an adrenaline addict. (Hi Joshua.)

I remember the day  in vocal pedagogy class at Northwestern College we discussed a very real issue plaguing many performing artists… adrenaline addiction.  The basic idea here is that those of us who spend time as artists performing in front of crowds of people get “hooked” on the rush of adrenaline that goes along with the risk of performance.  It’s a bit of a chickens and eggs deal here, meaning, do the adrenaline-addicted seek out performance opportunities to feed their habit, or do performers get hooked on adrenaline in part because of the spotlight?  Either way, Mr. Sawyer discussed the way this “need for the rush” can manifest itself in daily life…

Procrastination. Risky behavior.  Perpetually running late. Trying to beat deadlines in the nick of time.  Relational drama and emotional instability. All of these are almost stereotypical problems among really artistic people – especially those who are often “in the spotlight” as performing artists.

How does this manifest in my life?  Confession:  I never leave enough time to drive from wherever I am to wherever I need to be.  I’m 6 minutes late to everything. (Which is an improvement.  I used to be 8 minutes late to everything.)  I’m not proud of this, by any stretch, but confession is good for the soul, so I’m getting it out there.  I still remember Mr. Sawyer talking about the adrenaline-junkie tendency to leave a few minutes late for their appointments… and then get exasperated by the 80 year old woman in her beige Oldsmobile who is simply driving the speed limit… in front of you.  (Yeah.  Bulls-eye.  Guilty as charged.)

What about you, artistic people? Do you suffer from adrenaline addiction?  How does it raise its ugly head in your life?  Maybe you just need a new hobby. Meet Jeb Corliss…


“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  -Helen Keller

OK then!  I’m buying what you’re selling Helen! Either you and Jeb are enabling me to remain in the co-dependent grip of a raging toxic adrenaline addiction, or life really IS mean to be lived out loud.  YES.  From now on, my suburban reality will be punctuated by more car chases, and my Friday evening strolls by the lake will look much more like Mountain Dew commercials, full of rugged outdoorsmanry and encounters with dangerous carnivores.  Bring ’em on.

I was so close to kicking the habit.  What was I thinking?!  I can manage this. It’s  not that big a deal.  At least I pledge, from this day forward, to leave ample time to drive for my appointments.  Adrenaline addiction?  Nah.  I can quit any time I want.


Creative Commons License
“helen keller is an enabler :: adrenaline addiction, the artistic temperament, and my new wingsuit habit” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Here’s my theory:  At some point on the parenting path with each child, you must give up control to gain influence.  Let’s discuss…

My oldest son has that look on his face again.  Wide eyes.  Forced blank stare.  Trying not to convey anything.  Underneath he’s angry, but he’s trying to look unruffled.  Unchallenging.  He’s trying to avoid hearing his parents say, “Don’t look at me that way.”

But Seth is tenderhearted, so the forced nonchalance doesn’t suit his face.  There’s still that anger around the edges, in his posture and his hands.  And there’s hurt in his glazed eyes.

We’ve been here before, but not often.  Seth is a deeply good kid, and I’m so very proud of who he is becoming.  I can’t even type this without tears coming up, just under the surface.  I’m so proud and grateful he’s mine.

But he’s a normal kid with an independant streak a mile deep, and we, his parents, are actual people with attitudes and character struggles, too, so we’re bound to butt heads once in awhile.  In those times, I’m shifting my parental strategery.  I’ve begun to have these conversations differently…

From “The Silence of Adam” by Dr. Larry Crabb:

“Manly men release others from their control and encourage them with their influence…  Manly men nudge their family and friends to the same crossroads where they, as men, have found that trust [in God] or unbelief must be chosen.  Unmanly men require their friends and family to meet their demands.”

Do we require obedience from our kids, then?  Yes, we do.  And we don’t always have the time to answer the “why?” questions, so we require our kids to verbally agree with an “OK, Mom” or an “OK, Dad” after a directive is given.  This has been a VERY helpful piece of our parenting tool kit.  This assures that our boy is making eye contact and acknowledging that the directive has been heard.  Further, it reinforces the understanding that obedience is the expected norm.

But when kids grow, they gain complexity as they become more independant.  We still expect obedience, and we will not allow disrespect even when our boys disagree with our decisions.  But there is no question that parenting Seth requires a different kind of nuance.  And this is where being a manly dad means leading more by example and clear expectations , and less by demand.

So I’m trying to park my pride in my parenting.  I’m trying to be clear with expectations, and I still give PLENTY of directives.  But when I see that blank/hurt/angry/stubborn/conflicted/growing/complex/young/old/forced calm/frustrated face, I’m shifting my parenting gears.  I’m doing more nudging, and letting him choose.

Instead of, “Go apologize to your mom,” I’m encouraging Seth to choose the honorable way. “When you settle down and think it through, I think you should consider talking to Mom.  I think you owe her an apology.  And real apologies don’t come with any ‘but’ connected.  You think about your part of this, and you decide what to do.”

Seth will be a teenager in a month.  He has a living faith in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit feeds his conscience with a steady data stream.  He’s becoming a young man, and he’s not blindly falling into moral traps at this point… he is choosing.

My job, as I see it, is to help him become the man who will choose what is right because his character won’t allow him to do otherwise.  And that means prayer, trusting in God to shape him, and letting go of control in favor of influence.

Seth, and all of our boys, are miraculously wonderful kids.  Lord, help me not mess this up.

Creative Commons License
“being a manly dad :: control vs. influence” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Here’s my theory:  God created people like this to reveal His genius.  When we create, and what we create is beautiful and real, we honor God by reflecting His nature.  So go CREATE.  🙂  Enjoy this…

Thankfully, the majority of the five boys under my roof still think, at least to some degree, that girls have cooties.  I’m all for it.

The day will soon be upon me when their vision will be transformed.  Girls will no longer be mystifying, unexplainable… weirdos.  They will soon become equally mystifying and unexplainable… yet irresistibly appealing.  Such is the way of the world, I suppose.

Achhh!  The world! Culture and the flesh… partnering up again to infect the innocent.  My boys’ upcoming hormonal hurricane is just another stroke in the case against this world and all of its carnality and rottenness.  Wouldn’t it just be EASIER if my boys thought girls had cooties… right up until they say “I Do”?

There is a growing movement in the Christian community… a sub-culture within the sub-culture. It is family focused, protectionist, and isolationist.  And it tends to view the world around us as if it has cooties.  Only these cooties have real spiritual power, and once they take root in a believer, they spread like a cancer.  Sucking the spiritual life out of a person with small temptations that lead to moderate indiscretions and overlooked compromises, which easily turn into large scale sin problems, which will eventually grow into full blown apostasy.  Beware the power of this cultural leaven, which is sure to tarnish the whole loaf.  Beware the corruption of culture. The world has cooties, and these bad boys are Ebola to the soul.

So, for protection of the family, Christians don a HAZMAT suit of their own construction, finding support in the Bible for keeping the culture at arm’s length.

What does this cultural HAZMAT suit look like? Kids are home schooled.  Kids are often not allowed to attend a church Sunday School or Youth Group because of the influence of the unregenerate hooligans who attend.  Besides, the spiritual instruction of the children is a PARENT’S responsibility, anyway…  not to be left in the hands of another believer who may or may not share the same scriptural convictions.  In fact, many families are actually deciding against participation in an organized congregation with traditional pastoral leadership, opting instead for home church, led by dad… or maybe shared leadership with a few other like-minded families.  TV, movies, music, etc. are closely monitored for signs of cultural cootie-ness.  And life centers on and revolves around the godly home – the family. Children are “trained up in the way they should go,” and a healthy concern for cultural contamination is modeled and reinforced.

Here’s an honest moment for you… that sounds AWESOME.  We actually DO home-school our kids (for a number of reasons), and I LOVE my family.  So I would love to hunker down with them and make my boys and my bride our primary platform for Christian fellowship.  I hate the effect of sin on our culture, and it breaks my heart to see my boys’ innocence lost as we have to help them understand murder, lust, greed, perversion…  My kids light my world – and so does Amy.  If I could pull it off somehow, I recognize the draw of the HAZMAT suit. I wish… often… that I could more adequately shield my family from the cooties of the world.

Can you understand, from a Christian point of view, why this isolationism has appeal and is gaining steam?  Doesn’t it make sense in this perverse culture not to “conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2) and to “go out from their midst and be separate from them?”  (2 Corinthians 6:17)

In other words… to be OUT OF the world, and NOT OF it.

BUT...  (and this is a BIG “but…”)

Honest question:  is the culture our enemy?

Should we circle the wagons and don the HAZMAT suit and protect our kids from a case of the cancerous culture cooties at the cost of cultural engagement?

I can’t answer that question for you.  I have good friends who have gone the isolationist way.  I know families – good families – who love the Lord and are doing their best to honor him by reflecting a DIFFERENT way of life – a separate and distinct, transformed life with their family.  BUT…

I have some significant concern as I see this trend growing – gaining strength – a movement away from not only culture, but even from organized church fellowship in many cases.  I see intentional disengagement from the world we live in, with all of its hurt and need.  And lost people.  Dying people.  Damned people.

With humility, I submit we take our cue from Jesus Himself on this issue.  He did not come to condemn the world (John 3:17) – and his harshest words were not for the culture around him.  Christ came as a transformer of culture.  He came as a Redeemer – literally to “buy back” from the tyranny of slavery the souls of dying men and women in His culture and in ours.  Jesus didn’t endorse or participate in a separatist lifestyle.  Instead he used positive illustrations from culture as parables.  He participated in His culture, engaging it, and shining a light into its dark corners.  In His last hour of freedom before being captured and taken to his death, Jesus prayed in John 17 for ALL believers… both then and now.  And what was that prayer?

“Not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.”

Like I said before, it is not my place to choose for you how to live out your faith.  But I submit this for consideration… CULTURE is not our enemy. Sin is.  Satan is.  I see culture as a theater in which God’s glory can be displayed – to both the redeemed and the resistant.  Instead of being OUT OF and NOT OF the world, maybe we are called to be IN, but NOT OF…  Maybe in order to be salt and light, we need to rub shoulders with the needy people in dark places.  If not us, who will go? Culture is a minefield.  It is dangerous, without question.

I submit that we need to embrace the danger inherent in engaging our culture, for the sake of the Gospel.  And instead of relying on the safety of a subculture to protect us or our children, let’s echo and trust Jesus’ prayer on our behalf.  No more HAZMAT suit.  No more cooties.  Our family will be a redemptive force in the lives of those we rub shoulders with on purpose.


Creative Commons License
“the world’s got cooties! get it off! get it off!” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

I was sitting here with my Lucky Charms. 11:07PM.  Just between an assignment and studying for a Greek quiz in the morning.  Study break.

Then I watched this video. I will literally never forget what I feel right now.  My mind has been changed.  Probably my life.  Do you have 9 minutes?

First of all, I’m guilty. I have read John 12:8 and always thought it to be kind of a hopeless proclamation of ongoing poverty.  I’m done with that.  Jesus, forgive me.

Secondly, I love prompting ideas and discussion.  I love encouraging people to worship God because of His worthiness and beauty and mind-wrecking love for us.  But I don’t like to get on this soapbox and scold. Can you bare with me today?  Know that I speak this in love, and I’m preaching to myself, but it has to be said.

You and me… church people… we have let people die because of our indifference. It’s time to change your mind about the poor.  Especially in this awesome, God-blessed country, where even in the toughest of times, we are surrounded by abundance.  We can do this, Church, because God has given us EVERY RESOURCE needed to share our wealth and the love of Jesus with the world.  The whole world.

Sell stuff.  You’ve got more than you need.

Thirdly, I know that we don’t earn favor with God by doing more.  I know that our hope is built upon the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and Him risen again.  Grace alone, through faith in Jesus alone…  That is the beginning and end of our hope.  Don’t point a “works-righteousness” finger unless you’re convinced this challenge is somehow corrupting the gospel.  Because it’s not.  Serving the poor does not secure our favor with God, but it MUST be a result of it.  “Faith without works is dead.”

I Timothy 2:14 has this to say:  “Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ…  gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

Zealous? I haven’t been that word.  I’ve been lazy, overwhelmed and faithless.  I’ve been passive about people in extreme poverty.  Passive. What’s wrong with me?  Well, today I’m taking the NEXT verse in Titus seriously…

“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”

So I’m on this soapbox.  Exhorting you, and maybe rebuking those who need it.  We must not remain passive. Let’s go Church!  Let’s break the bondage of extreme poverty – across the globe – in our generation.

If you wan to join forces with 58:,the organization that produced this video, click here to choose your fast.

But it doesn’t matter which organization we align with to fight poverty.  What matters is that we actually do it.

Creative Commons License
“our passivity is killing people :: i’ll never forget this” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

I’ve been hurting and praying for the family of Tyler Clementi.  His death is deeply tragic.  And I believe that bullying is a big deal.  We ought to treat each other in civil society with respect, and we need to raise our children to treat other people with respect.  Even those we disagree with.  Especially those we disagree with.

This post will take a little time to develop, so I want to be clear about my purposes for writing it up front.

FIRST:  If you’re a student somewhere being bullied because you are gay, and you are considering checking out – just to escape the pain of it – please don’t.  You are loved.  I know that to my very core.  God didn’t screw up when he made you.  He wants to fill your life with purpose.  There are hundreds of voices on YouTube and everywhere right now sending you the message that “IT GETS BETTER.”  And if you can make it through this tough season of life, where you’re surrounded by jerks, you’ll soon come out the other side and enter a new phase of life – free from that kind of intense bullying that cuts you down.  So my first message to you is this:  HANG IN THERE, because you’re deeply valuable.  And I’m a Christian guy who believes that being gay is not God’s plan for you – I’ve written about this stuff before.  But listen, you are more than your sexual nature, and you matter to us and to God, no matter what your sexual orientation.  I hope you’re willing to keep reading this, and keep thinking.

SECOND:  Gene Robinson is an enemy of God.  He is one of the voices proclaiming the “it gets better message,” and I have posted his video below.  While I believe he means well, and many gay young people have been encouraged by his message, he is misrepresenting God, and God’s Church.  I do not hate Gene Robinson, and I do not oppose his message because he is gay.  Rather, I oppose his message because he is wrong.  More on that below…

You’ve maybe never read this blog before, so I want to help you put what I’m about to write into context.  Everybody has a foundational set of beliefs building the framework of their life story, even those of us who never think it through or put it into words.  Here are a few of mine:

With regards to Faith and Life:

(1)  I believe that God is sovereign, and His Word (the Bible) is perfect and authoritative on all issues pertaining to faith and life.

(2)  I believe that every single person on earth (myself included) has been born with a sinful nature, and is therefore condemned to an eternity apart from God.  We can’t fix it through anything we do. Period.

(3)  Jesus Christ died on a cross to save us from that sin.  He is the only road to forgiveness and a restored relationship with God.  Yes, that message is exclusive.  Jesus alone is our only hope.  That’s basic Christian doctrine.

(4)  God is a God of love and justice.  His standards are not flexible, because He is holy, and that means He is pure and “other than us.”  Our human minds cannot contain or explain Him in this regard.  But He also loves us with a fierce, protective, all-consuming, life-changing love that is not bound by the limits of even the deepest love of man.  Our human minds cannot contain or explain Him in this regard. 

With regards to homosexuality:

(1)  I believe that God’s Word makes it clear that homosexual activity is sin.  I know many believe they can explain away the several passages in scripture that make this clear.  But those arguments do not stand up to sound standards of Biblical interpretation.  Therefore, I reject the argument that “God didn’t really say that.”  He did say that.  People have the free will to choose to live set against His Word.  But it is simply not true that the Bible is in any way unclear on this matter.

(2)  I’m not sure what my Christian brothers and sisters would say to me in this one, but here goes…  I believe that the evidence of nature, personal witness, and common sense makes it clear that some people are born with a homosexual proclivity.  I am making a clear distinction here between homosexual nature and homosexual behavior.  The clear testimony of many homosexuals, including some of my friends, is that their very earliest memories of a sexual nature involved same-sex attraction.

So, now what…?

The two statements above create tension.  On the one hand, God is saying that acting on one’s homosexual feelings is sin, and a violation of His relationship with us – enough of a violation (actually, EVERY sin is enough) to separate us from God forever.  No heaven.  No hope.  Just regret, guilt, pain, fear and darkness.  On the other hand, some people seem to grow up with an attraction to people of their own gender.  How can this be?  How can God allow this?  It isn’t fair.  It is too much to ask…

I have a lot of empathy for those with a homosexual predisposition.  Some fight it.  Others embrace it.  Still others live in the middle ground somewhere.  At some point, to come to a degree of mental peace about this issue, a person with a homosexual nature has to examine what they believe about the morality of homosexual behavior.  If you’re gay, and have looked at the Bible and agree that it seems clear that homosexuality (expressed through lifestyle) is wrong, you must be either full of conflict, or you have chosen to reject the Bible as a valid authority in today’s culture.  If, on the other hand, you simply discount the Bible, being a homosexual today is much easier.

But easy does not equal right.  It’s often the hard road that is the best one.  And doing the right thing comes at a cost.  That’s true in every area of life, and it really matters.  It’s easier to cheat on tests and papers in school.  It’s easier to follow the crowd into all kinds of bad moral choices than it is to humbly go the right direction.  It’s easier for any man, gay or straight, to chase his sinful sexual nature into multiple relationships, but committing to one for life through marriage is so much better – and it is the only moral choice, with the authority of the Bible making that clear.

Unfortunately, the evangelical Christian community has often handled our relationships with gay people clumsily – or with venom.  A mean-spirited approach to people with a homosexual predisposition destroys our ability to share the life-giving message of Jesus.  We have not, in general, loved gay people very well as a community, because (to some degree) we don’t know how.  But we do know that the Bible says “don’t do it,” so we point our fingers and feel justified in doing so.  It is possible, Church, to be clear on moral lines, and still love people well.  In his way, Gene Robinson is trying to tell gay young people that we (evangelical Christians) have failed to show love, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t loving.  In as far as that goes, I agree with Gene.

HOWEVER, Gene Robinson is not just a random dude on the street.  Gene Robinson is a Bishop – a “representative” of God and God’s people.  He is influential, and many outside the church see him as a representative of those of us who identify ourselves as a part of Jesus’ family.  For this reason, when he speaks on behalf of God, and boldly proclaims lies as the truth, he becomes an enemy of the truth.  He is working against God.  And he is working against you, too.

Here is Bishop Gene Robinson’s “It Gets Better” message:

Gene Robinson, I’m sure, wants to help and encourage you if you are gay and are facing hostility, bullying, or just differing points of view.  I respect people’s freedom to live as they please in this country, and I am grateful for free speech.  But that door swings both ways.  Gene is free to proclaim things about God and about His people that are not true, and I am free to publicly oppose that message as not just a little bit off base, but actually demonic heresy.  Gene Robinson is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  He may be a nice man, but I will take a stand today against his message.

When he says that your Baptist parents’ message  that God does not accept a homosexual lifestyle is “flat out not true,” he is wrong.  God won’t stop loving you, but his moral standards do not endorse homosexuality.  That is a hard truth, but being hard doesn’t make it wrong.

Mr Robinson goes on to say that God wants you to “be the way you are,” and that God made you that way… that He doesn’t want you to change.  The hard truth is, sin in the world has corrupted men – every one – so that we want things that we should not desire, and we long for things that go against God’s will for us.  In fact, all of us have sinned and have a broken relationship with God.  That’s why Jesus came and died for us.  So that if we trust Him, he cleanses us from our sin and buys us back from the kindgom of darkness.

Gene Robinson is a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ by TITLE, but he is serving the wrong team.  If he were truly serving Jesus, he would tell the truth – that Jesus Christ died to save everyone because we all desperately NEED him to save us from our depravity.  Every sinner.  Gay and straight.  And Gene would tell you that God’s laws aren’t rewritten when they are hard to understand or seem too hard for us to live by.  God’s justice (His law) and His love (Jesus’ rescue) never change, even when the culture does.

So, if you are gay, and wondering what to do with it all, I want to tell you the truth in love.  Most Christians don’t hate you.  They (and I) may do a lousy job of loving you, but don’t write off Jesus for the failures of his kids.  We are all broken people.  We may not understand your struggles and desires, because straight people just haven’t been there.  But God does set a clear standard.  Homosexual behavior is sin.  And many, many, many people born with a homosexual inclination or nature have learned to fight that fight for love of God and the truth.  The message of the gay community right now is “It Gets Better,” and they are right.  This culture is making more and more efforts to affirm the gay lifestyle as a normal, healthy choice.  If you choose not to wrestle with the moral implications of a gay lifestyle, it will only get easier for you the older you get.  But there is grave danger in that choice.  Your life on earth is only a blink.  And then you face eternity. 

You need Jesus, because it is too hard for you without Him.  So do I, because in my way, resisting sin and earning heaven by living the perfect lifestyle is too hard for me, too.  Only in Jesus do we have any hope.  If you want to talk with me more about this, use my contact info and shoot me an email or call me up.  God does love you like crazy, and there is great hope in that truth.  But that isn’t to say we can do anything we want, and God will simply endorse it as a “no big deal” decision.  Love and justice.  Moral boundaries BECAUSE He wants the best for us.

Gene Robinson gets it ALMOST right when he says, “God wants you to live in the light of His love, and that light will take away all of this darkness…”

Unfortunately Gene is implying that we Christians, speaking the truth about God’s clear Biblical guidelines, we are the darkness.  He would seek to put a dividing wall between God’s love and “religious people.”  Gene is wrong.  SIN is the darkness.  He is on the wrong team.  One day Gene will answer to God for his life.  So will I.  So will you.  And on that day, the light WILL take away all darkness – all sin, of every kind will be eradicated.  Between that day and this one, we all need Jesus.  Thankfully,God DOES love us beyond our wildest imagining.  He loves us enough to show us the hard truth in His Word, and to send Jesus to do the impossible on our behalf.

Creative Commons License
“it will get better, but that’s not the point :: a response to gene robinson, with my gay friends and the church listening in” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.