Saturday, August 17, 2013

Push Back - Part Eight

Joseph Herrin (08-17-2013)

Colossians 2:8
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

One of the errors I perceive in many Christians’ approach to the subject of homosexuality is that they are viewing the issue through a humanistic lens. Many counselors and ministries offering homosexual conversion therapy are employing methods developed by the American Psychiatric Association. They have embraced the teachings of godless men and women, and are attempting to bring deliverance to people gripped by the bondage of sin by treating homosexuality as a sickness. The very word “therapy” used by many Christian counselors to describe their work with homosexuals reveals that they have wrongly identified the root issue. The problem is sin, not mental illness.

Alan Chambers, the founder and former president of Exodus International, one of the largest and oldest Christian ministries to work with homosexuals, had adopted the methods and principles of psychiatry in dealing with his clients. He had embraced the teachings of the APA prior to 1973 (the year the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was altered to no longer define homosexuality as a mental illness). Up until that time, psychiatry had proposed numerous theories to answer the question of what caused people to deviate from a normal heterosexual orientation to same-sex attraction. The prevailing theory was that homosexuality was caused by "close-binding" mothers, which are over-protective women who made their children weak and feminine, and "detached, rejecting fathers."

Much therapy today consists of seeking to identify past experiences, or influences that have led a person to adopt thoughts or behaviors that are undesirable. Therapists have employed hypnotism, role playing, and an array of other practices, in an attempt to identify experiences from a patient’s past that have led to their current condition. One effect of this approach is that the patient is viewed as a victim of past experiences, of the actions of others, or of their environment. This portrayal of perpetrators of socio-pathic, or immoral behavior as victims inevitably made its way over into the judicial system. It is common for a defense lawyer to call forth some “expert” witness who will testify that a person committed a crime because they were abused as a child, were raised in poverty, were subjected to gang influences, or deprived of acceptable educational experiences and opportunities to succeed in society. The reason that lawyers portray the clients they are defending as victims of their past experiences is to lessen their culpability in the eyes of a judge or jury. The blame is shifted away from the criminal onto someone else, such as an abusive parent, or upon society itself. In essence, the perpetrator is re-cast as a victim who deserves sympathy rather than punishment.

Modern psychiatry, whether intentionally or not, accomplishes this absolution of guilt when it treats sinful men and women as if their problems are the result of their past experiences. Psychiatric counseling dulls the voice of conscience within the individual, effectively removing the chief restraint upon mankind against sinful, selfish, and immoral behavior.

This portrayal of people who commit crimes against humanity, or sins against God, as victims of their past experiences, is contrary to the manner in which Yahweh relates to man. The Bible does not present man as a victim to be pitied, but rather as a transgressor who needs to accept responsibility for his actions. The church, embracing the erroneous philosophy of the world, has begun to treat sinners as victims of their environment and past experiences. This misguided sympathy becomes a stumbling block. Even as the lawyer seeks to diminish the perception of his client as evil by painting him as a victim of his past experiences, the church is diminishing people’s recognition of the fact that they are sinners as they adopt the practices of modern counseling and psychiatry.

How will people repent of their sins if the church treats them as victims instead of sinners? At the same time the Spirit of Christ is “convicting the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment,” the church is mollifying sinners by refusing to call sin what it really is. People of God, do not be deceived. The homosexual needs to understand that they are responsible for their choices and actions before the eyes of God. Do not be swayed by the propaganda of the medical profession, the government, and the media. Yahweh gave mankind His holy Law that they might recognize themselves as sinners.

Romans 7:12-13
Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. Has then what is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful.

I Timothy 1:8-10
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching...

The entire world is set upon making the homosexual feel comfortable about his/her behavior. The influence of society is exerting tremendous force to assure homosexuals that they need not experience any shame or guilt at their behavior. Instead, they are told to celebrate their immoral choices and lifestyle. This is what the gay pride parades are about. These debauched spectacles are an opportunity for men and women who are practicing deviant sexual behavior to affirm to themselves and others that they are rejecting guilt and shame and replacing it with pride.

The church must hold forth the truth. They must tell those who practice sin that they are sinners. Those who are light must expose the darkness. Sin must be made to appear exceedingly sinful that men and women might repent. The attitude manifested by the modern “seeker sensitive” church is to offend no one. Rather than being a channel of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, the church has adopted the pattern of modern psychiatry by urging its members to avoid moralizing, and to affirm all people no matter how sick, or depraved their behavior and thoughts might be.

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was given to the church, Peter spoke to those gathered in Jerusalem for the feast. With the power of the Spirit guiding him, Peter confronted the crowds with their sins. He told them that Yahweh had sent His Son, the promised Messiah, and that the Jews had crucified Him. The blood of the Son of God was upon their hands. When Peter spoke, we are told that those listening were “pierced to the heart.” They fell under conviction and cried out, “What must we do?”

This should be the response of sinners in the world when they meet the presence of the Holy Spirit inside of the child of God. They should be stricken with conviction in order that we might point them to Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah, who is the Savior of all mankind. The Son of God is the Savior of the homosexual, even as He is the Savior of the adulterer, the liar, or the thief. It serves no beneficial purpose to tell the homosexual that he/she is the way they are because their parents failed them, or some past experience traumatized them, predisposing them to embrace a sinful lifestyle. Sinners need to feel the weight of the responsibility for their choices and actions that they might cry out to God in repentance and be healed.

When Alan Chambers announced that he was ending his work among homosexuals, he apologized for laying the blame for homosexuality on parents. In blaming parents, he had been following the guidelines of the APA prior to 1973. It is little wonder that he met with so little success in the years he counseled homosexual men and women, for he was employing humanistic philosophies to treat as an illness that which Yahweh has declared to be sin. In a misguided attempt to make the homosexual feel welcomed and accepted, he was diminishing their perception of themselves as guilty sinners standing before a holy God. The responsibility for their choices and actions were shifted to their parents, or to others. Diminishing a person’s sense of guilt and shame is counter-productive to getting them to change their behavior.

Jennifer Keeton

Recently, here in my home state of Georgia, there was a story in the news about a graduate student at Augusta State University who was enrolled in a counseling program. Jennifer Keeton was a Christian young woman seeking to be trained to work as a licensed counselor. Inevitably, the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity came up in her course work. This young woman held strong Christian convictions on the subject. She stated openly to her instructors that she would inform her clients that homosexuality is morally wrong. She would offer conversion therapy to individuals who desired to overcome their same-sex attraction.

Augusta State University trains many of their students to serve in the public school systems as counselors. In this role it must train its counselors to provide government approved counseling that is consistent with the policies and practices of the American Counseling Association. This professional certifying body, following in the footsteps of the APA, has embraced a pro-homosexual agenda that encourages counselors to affirm homosexuals as normal and wholesome. The university objected to Ms. Keeton’s Christian moral views, insisting that she attend several diversity workshops, gain a greater exposure to homosexuals, including a suggestion that she attend a gay pride parade. Failing to do these things, and continuing to refuse to affirm homosexual behavior as normal, she was threatened with expulsion from the program.

Such experiences are becoming commonplace for Christian students enrolled in counseling programs. The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal organization whose goal is to guard against discrimination of Christians and their Biblical views, has faced a couple of challenges on this issue recently, losing them both. The courts have ruled in favor of the universities and colleges that have required students enrolled in their programs to affirm homosexual behavior as part of their course curriculum.

Rather than seeing such rulings as a defeat for Christianity, I view them as one way in which Yahweh is calling His sons and daughters to come out of Babylon. Why would Christians seek to be trained by the godless professors of secular colleges and universities to provide counseling? From a spiritual perspective, doing so is folly. What fellowship has light with darkness? What does a temple of God have in common with the temple of demons?

I understand the motive for attending these secular schools. It is a practical one. If a person wants to get a certain job, such as a school counselor, they need training and certification. They can only obtain these things at approved schools. As a line is being drawn, and Christians are being required to affirm homosexual behavior to participate in training programs, or to hold certain jobs, they will find that they must choose between a job, a good salary, and the opportunities that go with it, or to walk faithfully with God. I am glad that Jennifer Keeton chose to remain faithful to her convictions.

II Timothy 3:12
And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted.

This separation of light and darkness is a positive occurrence. For too long Christians have been compromising with the world. They have been cooperating with the godless, and even with the anti-Christ members of society. The ways of man are antagonistic to the ways of God. Yahweh’s thoughts are not man’s thoughts. Christians need to return to dealing with homosexuality as sin, which is how Yahweh defines it, rather than as a mental illness, or as a behavior problem that calls for therapy.

One comment I have repeatedly come across as I have reviewed books, online articles, and have received correspondence from various individuals, is that homosexuality is a complicated issue. It is often brought up that there are a whole range of issues that contribute to a person embracing homosexual behavior and identity. As we have seen, the APA attributed some homosexual behavior to the influence of one’s parents. Some Christians attribute homosexual desires to demonic spirits. Other counselors point to experiences of sexual abuse an individual experienced as a child. Some make mention of other childhood traumas, such as violence, or bullying, that have influenced a person to gravitate toward same sex attraction. In the past two decades the prevalence of deceptive propaganda from the government, and in the media, has also influenced many to begin to view homosexuality as normal, desirable, and even something to be celebrated.

The truth is, the experiences and influences that turn individuals toward homosexual identification and behavior are numerous and varied. Yet, it is a deception of the enemy that leads many to conclude that homosexual behavior, and consequently deliverance from the same, is a complex, and exceedingly difficult matter to understand. Any type of sinful behavior could be complicated by similar arguments.

Take for example the behavior of stealing. One of the ten commandments is “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” If you had a child who was manifesting this behavior, stealing money from a parent’s wallet or purse, or shoplifting items from a store, you could spend lots of time trying to identify what experiences or influences in his/her life contributed to this behavior. Perhaps the child was raised in poverty, and did not have the financial resources to purchase the nice clothes that his peers wore to school. Maybe they were influenced by a constant barrage of advertising that suggested that one needs to dress a certain way, or own specific items, to be fulfilled in life. Maybe they were influenced by an older youth to shoplift, or they fell into a group of youth who glamorized the act of stealing. Maybe stealing was presented as an “us” against “them” sort of experience, and the behavior was bolstered by the thought that society was intrinsically unfair and that the downtrodden members of society have a right to take what others will not give them.

Then there is the media. Television and the movies have saturated the culture with images that glorify stealing. From Robin Hood to Ocean’s Eleven (Twelve, Thirteen, etc..), stealing is glamorized and the intelligent and successful thief is portrayed as heroic.

Video games such as Grand Theft Auto glorify what Yahweh describes as sinful behavior. It is not surprising that America’s jails and prisons are filled with tens of thousands of individuals who have violated Yahweh’s commandment “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” Many of those who engage in theft come from broken homes. There is no father present in many instances. Gang influences are often a factor. The experiences and influences that contribute to a person engaging in the criminal, sinful behavior of stealing, embezzlement, or robbery are varied and complex. Yet the behavior itself is not difficult to understand, nor are Yahweh’s instructions to mankind relating to this subject difficult to describe.

We do a disservice to people struggling with homosexual desires when we portray their struggles as exceptional. They are no more exceptional than the person struggling with an attraction to pornography, or inordinate heterosexual desires such as fornication or adultery. The solution is no different than for the person who is a compulsive liar, thief, or those who struggle with anger and violence. A person can be delivered from homosexual behavior as surely as they can be set free of any other activity that Yahweh describes as sinful.

Following are a couple of foundational principles that are true of the sin of homosexuality, as well as every other sin:

•    Homosexual behavior must be confessed as sin.

This is the starting point for dealing with any sinful behavior. We must agree with Yahweh that sin is sin. This is not a point to be glossed over, for not only is society denying homosexuality to be a sin, but the church has begun to do so as well.

There can be no turning away from sin as long as a person denies that their behavior is sinful. Nor can there be deliverance and restoration to God until a person quits making excuses for their sins. This was a failing of King Saul. When he was confronted by the prophet Samuel with his disobedience to the commandment of Yahweh, Saul first denied, then made excuses. In the Old Testament we read of a time when Yahweh determined to execute judgment upon the people of Amalek. He sent Samuel the prophet with words of instruction to King Saul.

I Samuel 15:1-3
Listen to the words of Yahweh. Thus says Yahweh of hosts, “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he set himself against him on the way while he was coming up from Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him; but put to death both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

King Saul attacked the people of Amalek, and Yahweh delivered all the people and their possessions into the hands of the people of Israel. Yet, Saul did not carry out the instructions of God. He kept the king of Amalek alive, as well as the best animals of the flocks and herds.

I Samuel 15:9
But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were not willing to destroy them utterly; but everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.

When Samuel confronted Saul, asking him why he did not carry out Yahweh’s commandments, Saul prevaricated.

I Samuel 15:13-15
And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of Yahweh! I have carried out the command of Yahweh." But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" And Saul said, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to Yahweh your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed."

Note that in none of his words did King Saul acknowledge that HE had transgressed. He first claimed to have done God’s will. When called on the point, Saul shifts blame to the people, while also offering a rationale to explain their behavior with the intent of making it appear acceptable. Samuel then pressed the issue further, and once again Saul dissembled.

I Samuel 15:18-21
“Yahweh sent you on a mission, and said, ‘Go and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are exterminated.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of Yahweh, but rushed upon the spoil and did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh?” Then Saul said to Samuel, “I did obey the voice of Yahweh, and went on the mission on which Yahweh sent me, and have brought back Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took some of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the choicest of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to Yahweh your God at Gilgal.”

People of God, here is a hopeless case. Yahweh can do nothing with a man or woman who will not agree with Him about what constitutes obedience and disobedience. Similarly, there can be no healing, no restoration of the man or woman who is engaging in homosexual behavior unless they agree with God that their behavior is sin. It matters not if all the people of the nation urge them to sin. It does not matter if “experts” and “professionals” assure them that they were born homosexuals, while telling them that it is normal, wholesome behavior. Let God be true and all men be liars. Forgiveness and restoration can only occur when men agree with their Creator about the identity of sin.

Here then is a starting point. You must share with those who are engaged in homosexual behavior that Yahweh has declared it to be sin. Familiarize yourself with Yahweh’s testimony on this matter.

Leviticus 18:22
You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13
If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act...

Romans 1:26-27
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

I Corinthians 6:9-10
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Jude 7
Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of age-during fire.

There are other Scriptures that reveal Yahweh’s condemnation of homosexuality, and the punishment that He has, and will again mete out to those who participate in such deeds. These, however, are some of the more brief and direct passages. If a man or woman will not agree with God that this behavior is abnormal, aberrant, and sinful, they can neither receive forgiveness nor be restored to the Father. Yahweh rejected Saul because he refused to agree with Him regarding the definition of sin.

I Samuel 15:23
For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you...

It is a serious matter to reject the word of the Lord. His word includes His declaration of righteous and unrighteous behavior. The apostle John described two different conditions of mankind. One is the person who agrees with God and confesses his/her sin. This person is able to receive forgiveness and be cleansed of all unrighteousness. The other is the person who denies that they have sinned when Yahweh says they have committed sin. These ones profess God to be a liar, and the truth is not in them.

I John 1:9-10
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

This then, must be the point at which restoration to God begins. The individual must agree with Yahweh’s declaration of righteous and unrighteous behavior. They must profess that homosexual intercourse is unnatural, immoral, and sinful behavior.

•    The lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individual must then turn away from their sinful behavior.

II Chronicles 7:14
If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin...

Isaiah 1:16-20
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good... Come now, and let us reason together,” says Yahweh, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.

Isaiah 55:7
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to Yahweh, and He will have compassion on him; And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Ezekiel 18:21-23
“But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live. Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares Yahweh God, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?”

People of God, it is not necessary to identify all the influences and experiences that led a person to embrace a false gender identity, or to engage in homosexual behavior. The influences in a person’s life are varied, and many, and it is unlikely that they could all be properly identified. Do not be deterred by this fact. What is important is that the individual agree with Yahweh that their behavior is sinful, that they confess it, and turn away from it. Yahweh will accept those who confess and repent (turn away from their sin).

I am sure that to some, these words appear naive, and too simplistic. Yet, Yahshua said that all would have to come to Him as a little child.

Matthew 18:2-4
Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
[New Living Translation]

Walking in continuous victory over sinful desires is a process, and there is more to be shared on this matter. Yet, we need not over-complicate the subject of homosexual desires, and deliverance from them, by imitating the pattern of the godless. Psychiatry claims to be based upon scientific principles. Like other sciences, it is focused upon classifying, measuring, and developing hypothesis and theories. Yet psychiatry is highly subjective, and like the DSM that is used as a reference for practitioners, it is subject to great fluctuations, and reversals, of thought and opinion. Psychiatry is a pseudo-science that oftentimes is more driven by political correctness than scientific principle.

Many Christians seek legitimacy for their counseling by imitating the practices, and embracing the teachings, of psychiatry. The world is in awe of men and women who have credentials after their name. Being a graduate of an accredited school, and being a licensed practitioner bearing the imprimatur of the American Psychiatric Association, or the American Counseling Association, lends an air of respectability to many who covet the approval of men. Yet, those who seek after such accreditation are blind followers of the blind.

Is it not evident that a group that forbids its members to offer sexual orientation change efforts as a service, but that requires all members to affirm the normality of homosexual behavior, does not have anything to offer the Christian counselor? Why should those who are members of God’s kingdom seek after the ways of the kingdom of darkness? The most common modality resorted to among the APA is to prescribe powerful, mind altering drugs to an individual that at best will mask the symptoms of their problems, and dull their conscience, while failing to address the root cause.

Christ, on the other hand, goes to the root of man’s problem. Man is sinful. The heart of man is always going astray. Sinful man is bereft of the life of God in his being and needs to become a partaker of the divine nature. Christ made a way for this to occur. Yahshua took the sins of all mankind upon His body on the cross, paying the penalty for sin. Christ then sent forth His Spirit that men who were spiritually dead might be made alive.

The process of deliverance and transformation is the same for every person. It is no different for the homosexual. Christ came to set the captives free. Those whom the Son sets free are free indeed.

To be continued...

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

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