contentment, experience, friendship, insecurity, loneliness, Martin Luther, relationships, repentance, sanctification, sexuality, temptation
Sometimes I fear how God will teach me this lesson.
Today, a friend expressed a desire to move on to the next phase of life and ministry, saying he was tired of being a student and couldn’t wait to be done. I was frustrated because seminary is where God has called us. Why would we want to hurry God’s work? I sure don’t. And when I tried to point that out, it wasn’t well received. Maybe I said something wrongly.
I was sitting at a coffee shop a few days ago and really struggled to keep my mind on my work. Will temptation always be this strong? I wondered. I was sitting at another coffee shop today and thought, Yeah…if today is any indication, it will be.
I invited some friends to have coffee with me or study alongside me tonight. Unfortunately, there is a basketball game between KU and UK tonight. But no one wanted to hang or even invite me to watch the game with them.
Hell…I’d have even paid for the beer.
None of these people don’t love me…in fact, all of the “no” answers I got came from very good friends who care about me deeply.
And, considering what I’ve read, discussed, and observed, being married doesn’t sound one iota less lonely. Sounds like you have one person to be bitter towards, instead of fifteen. It may simplify things, but it doesn’t sound better.
How do I gain contentment? Trust, I suppose. Trust that Christ has not only shared my loneliness, but bore it on Himself, on the cross.
Seems so abstract sometimes. And it hurts to be by myself.
A friend asked me the other day: “Are you afraid of being alone?”
I answered, “Yeah…scared to death.” And it’s true…I fear being alone more than just about anything. The one greater fear I have is that one particular friend of mine would die in his sin and never turn back to Christ. But the fear of being alone is a close second.
So how do I gain contentment? I’ve forgotten.
When Luther said that all of life is repentance, he wasn’t kidding.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Gerin St. Claire said:
I would totally watch the game with you, except that I don’t care which team wins… or won… not sure if it already happened. I’m down to watch a movie or drink beer though!
Curt Allison said:
Dear brother in Christ. I hope you publish this reply, but I understand if you choose not to publish it. My heart is breaking for you as I read your blog. I see so much of myself in you and I am grieving. I grew up fundamentalist Christian. Rejecting much of fundamentalism, I became more solidlly evangelical, graduated seminary, became ordained, and worked at a church on pastoral staff. I too struggled with same sex attractions and for a while was bothered by them. I was deeply involved in an Exodus ministry to help me in my journey to live faithfully to Christ while working through my same sex attractions. Without going into all the details of my journey, I now have been freed from the lie that says living as a Christian and as an openly gay person are mutually exclusive. God has been so faithful to lead me – step by gentle step – out of bondage and into God’s wonderful light. Such freedom and joy and relief and peace like never before. I have been with my partner now for 17 years – legally married 7 years ago when Canada legalized same sex marriage. I own a business and serve on the ministerial staff team at my church working with the young adults, leading a gay and lesbian spirituality discussion group, directing a gospel choir, and involvement in worship through preaching, worship leadership, etc. I just wish I could hug you and let you know that same sex attractions are not sinful. They are not contrary to God’s plan. Just as the Bible was used in the past to justify or not justify many things, the same is the case with homosexuality. We’re now living in this chapter of the church’s history. And generations down the road, people will look back at this time, scratch their head, and wonder how people could have gotten from the Bible that same sex attractions are not in keeping with God’s plan. And there will be apologies issued as there has been for the many issues in the past in which Christians got it wrong. My biggest concern for you is the private grief you are living now by not living into your full “fearfully and wonderfully made” personhood. I grieve for you because your life could possibly involve meeting a man, falling in love, establishing a family, and living together in faithful discipleship to Jesus Christ. I am so heavy-hearted for you. I’ve been there. I would present to others in a way that wasn’t always consistent with what was going on inside my heart. There were moments of joy, but just an overall dull ache in the depths of my being. I just want you to know that I know what you’re going through and I am here for you if you ever want to talk with me. My door is always open and confidentiality will always be honoured. You have my email below – please write me if you wish. In the meantime, I speak words of blessing and peace over your precious life.
Don Hartness said:
I’ve been following Dave’s blog for a little while now. Since I am a heterosexual, I dare not venture an opinion in the debate over whether homosexuality is a sin or not, preferring to offer comments and insight on those posts that everybody can relate too, whether heterosexual or homosexual.
However, although I have seen similar opinions such as the one you stated above, I have a hard time seeing how this stance is biblical. There seems to be a number of passages that are clear in this regard (I pulled a quick list from Google on this site: http://www.religioustolerance.org/homglance.htm). Could you share the foundation for your stance? If you know of a good link that makes a persuasive argument, could you share this?
“Biblical” is a concept that has no real definition and as such can be appealed to in countless ways. A library of sixty-six books comprising almost 800,000 words, reflecting centuries of experience and thousands of miles of geography enclosing numerous cultures is, of course, a treasure-trove of phrase and parable. The way those phrases and parables are applied, then, is up to the applier. “Biblical” necessarily becomes almost the same as “What my Bible teachers say” — but then that does not have as much of a superstitious potency to it, does it?
Thanks for blogging about this! And thanks even more for making it about God and His word.
I’ve been having similar feelings in recent days. It’s hurt to be by myself; this week anyway. I really want a wife as I’m desiring someone who is consistently involved in my life. I feel like I have friends all over the place, but no one who is there to share in intricate details of daily life and then can say to me, ‘hey, three months ago this…’ etc. I also want someone who has to go on holiday with me.
At the same time I’ve been a little discouraged in friendships. I always feel like I’m the one at a loose end with people to hang out with and other people have these busy, exciting lives. (This is probably doubly untrue. I hang out and chat with friends quite frequently and I also keep more free time available than most people in the hope that I will have someone to hang out with.
A wife is not on the horizon and I don’t want to force a relationship without emotion on my part.
So, yeah, thanks for voicing similar things and making it about God.
In my opinion, this young guy knocks it out of the park when it comes to understanding the Biblical “clobber” passages. Have a listen.
What I would tell Dave and any others who are trying to resolve the supposed conflict of their sexuality and the Bible, is to not forget your own truth. I see (myself included some 15+ years ago) so many gay Christians trying so hard to follow the truths of what they think the Bible says on the topic while completely ignoring what they know to be true about themselves. I was a gay person, and that wasn’t going to change. If the God of the Bible would allow me to be gay but then refuse me to develop my own family, then I want nothing to do with that kind of god. The God I read from the Bible would never do anything so vindictive and cruel. I had to reevaluate my approach to the Bible. I am no longer a literal interpreter of the Bible. If you are, please watch the video in the link below:
Don Hartness said:
@daemon – “Biblical” is an expression that I was using to refer to what seems to be clear statements on homosexuality (more on that in a moment). “Biblical” is, indeed, a concept that has lost meaning, precisely because of the reasons you mentioned; namely, either what followers have mindlessly swallowed from “Bible teachers”, or what followers interpret by applying it themselves. Both are fallacies.
Allow another to apply Scripture for you and you are just a sheep being led to any slaughter prepared for you. Apply Scripture yourself and you are guaranteed to fail, no matter how wise and sagacious you might be.
Scripture is not meant to be “applied”, either by outside teachers, or by the reader/listener. Rather, Scripture is meant to be applied by the One whom you have given your life too, all for His work and His good will. The former is the way of the law; the latter, the way of grace. The latter is often dismissed as superstition and illusion, thus giving more rise to the former and, subsequently, more division and strife. What I admire most about Dave is his persistent pursuit of the latter in the face of the former.
The false teacher interprets for you; the good teacher points you to the One that can not only interpret, but apply it in the way that benefits you and others…
@james – Thank you for that link! A well articulated argument, and even though I’m not sure I agree with all of the premises advanced by this young man, he does raise a number of troubling questions that are not easily dismissed. I’m going to take what he said, along with the questions he raises, and ponder them for a while. This was precisely what I was looking for!
Curt Allison said:
Hi Don! First off – I apologize for the length of time between your posting and my response. Life is full for all of us, and my plate has been particularly full these past few days. Thanks for your patience. 🙂 I think the best way to show you my stance on the Bible and homosexuality is to offer the link below by a fellow minister. His explanation – more than any other I have read – best summarizes my view on this subject. He gives a very detailed analysis, he takes the Bible seriously, and IMO rightly divides the Word of Truth on this important issue. Would love to chat with you after reading this. I have to say Don that I LOVE your comments above regarding Scripture. In particular your statements “Scripture is not meant to be “applied”, either by outside teachers, or by the reader/listener. Rather, Scripture is meant to be applied by the One whom you have given your life too, all for His work and His good will. The former is the way of the law; the latter, the way of grace.” and “The false teacher interprets for you; the good teacher points you to the One that can not only interpret, but apply it in the way that benefits you and others…”. LOVE that!! Your words are a beautiful poem summarizing a solid exegetical method. Thanks for sharing that. Blessings to you Don!
Don Hartness said:
Thanks for the compliments Curt, although I wouldn’t consider myself a poet. If poetry escapes through my words, it is purely accidental. 🙂
And there is no need to apologize. The only important thing is that you made it.
I read the article you shared and the roots are essentially the same as the link shared by James, posted above (although the author has a very different and distinct style, to be sure). I’m still pondering the arguments presented and I want to give this due attention. I have set Saturday aside for reading, writing, prayer, and mediation, and I’ll put this topic as the first order of the day. I sent you a message on FB. Email me back and I’ll send you some thoughts on the subject later in the day on Saturday.
Steve Marshall said:
I’ve read a few of your posts and can really relate to your struggles. My fears of being lonely and dying as such have compromised me to venture down roads I know, deep down, I should not be walking along. But why do I keep it up? You used the word contentment. I feel content for a fleeting minute but utterly lost thereafter…
Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that I’ll pray for you. What for? Finding contentment in our Lord and understanding what it is he has called you to do and why he decided to use you as you are. Maybe his answer to you is what Paul got in 2 Cor 12 – only time will tell. 🙂
Curt Allison said:
Sounds great Don. And I never received a FB message, so maybe re-send? Blessings to you on your day apart this Saturday. May the Spirit of wisdom, love, and peace guide you and bless you my friend.