In a sophisticated city like Rome, some might be embarrassed by a gospel centered on a crucified Jewish savior, embraced by the lowest classes of people - but Paul is not ashamed. For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes : This is why Paul is not ashamed of a gospel centered on a crucified savior. He knows that the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ - has inherent power. We do not give it power, we only stop hindering the power of the gospel when we present it effectively.
The gospel is certainly news , but it is more than information; it has an inherent power. It is power. It lifts them up. Paul does not say that the gospel brings power, but that it is power, and God's power at that. In particular, Rome thought it knew all about power : "Power is the one thing that Rome boasted of the most.
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Greece might have its philosophy, but Rome had its power. Despite all their power, the Romans - like all men - were powerless to make themselves righteous before God. The ancient philosopher Seneca called Rome "a cesspool of iniquity" and the ancient writer Juvenal called it a "filthy sewer into which the dregs of the empire flood. For salvation : In the Roman world of Paul's day, men looked for salvation. Philosophers knew that man was sick and needed help. Epictetus called his lecture room "the hospital for the sick soul.
The gospel's power to salvation comes to everyone who believes. God will not withhold salvation from the one who believes ; but believing is the only requirement. The message of the gospel came for the Jew first and also for the Greek the non-Jew. This was demonstrated both by the ministry of Jesus Matthew and the initial ministry of the disciples Matthew This means that the gospel was meant to go first to the ethnic and cultural Jew , and then to the cultural Greek.
It did not mean a native of the country of Greece … a Greek was one who knew the culture and the mind of Greece. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed : Simply, the gospel reveals the righteousness of God. This revelation of God's righteousness comes to those with faith , fulfilling Habakkuk : The just - that is, the justified ones - shall live by faith.
It is essential to understand exactly what the righteousness of God revealed by the gospel is. It is not speaking of the holy righteousness of God that condemns the guilty sinner, but of the God-kind of righteousness that is given to the sinner who puts their trust in Jesus Christ. Righteousness : William Barclay explains the meaning of this ancient Greek word dikaioo, which means I justify , and is the root of dikaioun righteousness : "All verbs in Greek which end in oo … always mean to treat , or account or reckon a person as something.
If God justifies a sinner, it does not mean that he finds reasons to prove that he was right - far from it. It does not even mean, at this point, that he makes the sinner a good man. It means that God treats the sinner as if he had not been a sinner at all. This declaration is even greater when we understand that this is the righteousness of God given to the believer.
It is not the righteousness of even them most holy mere man, nor is it the righteousness of innocent Adam in Eden. It is God's righteousness. It is a 'God-righteousness'. This faith trust in Jesus Christ becomes the basis of life for those who are justified declared righteous ; truly, the just shall live by faith.
They are not only saved by faith, but they live by faith. From faith to faith : The idea behind this difficult phrase is probably "by faith from beginning to end. The same attitude must govern him in his continuing experience as a child of God. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven : The idea is simple but sobering - God's wrath is revealed from heaven against the human race, and the human race deserves the wrath of God.
We sometimes object to the idea of the wrath of God because we equate it with human anger, which is motivated by selfish personal reasons or by a desire for revenge. We must not forget that the wrath of God is completely righteous in character. Wrath is the holy revulsion of God's being against that which is the contradiction of his holiness. In Romans , Paul spoke of salvation - but what are we saved from?
First and foremost, we are saved from the wrath of God that we righteously deserve. In this portion of the letter Romans , Paul's goal is not to proclaim the good news, but to demonstrate the absolute necessity of the good news of salvation from God's righteous wrath. The wrath of God is not revealed in the gospel, but in the facts of human experience. Against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man; and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Ungodliness refers to man's offenses against God; unrighteousness to the sins of man against man. Who suppress the truth in unrighteousness : Mankind does in fact suppress the truth of God.
Every truth revealed to man by God has been fought against, disregarded, and deliberately obscured. His invisible attributes are clearly seen : God has shown us something of His eternal power and divine nature through creation, by the things that are made. He has given a general revelation that is obvious both in creation and within the mind and heart of man. Clearly seen : The universal character of this revelation and the clarity of it leave man without excuse for rejecting it. Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God : The problem is not that man did not know God, but that he did know Him - yet we refused to glorify Him as God.
Therefore, mankind is without excuse. We didn't glorify God; we transformed our conception of Him into forms and images more comfortable to our corrupt and darkened hearts. We can't seem to resist the temptation to create God into his own corrupt image, or even in an image beneath us. One great tragedy in this is that we inescapably become like the God we serve. It is absolutely essential that we constantly compare our own conception of God against the reality of who God is as revealed in His Word. We can also be guilty of worshipping a self-made God.
Image in Romans is the ancient Greek word eikon. It is a dangerous thing to change the glory of the incorruptible God into an eikon image of your own choosing. Nor were thankful : Man's simple ingratitude against God is shocking. A godly preacher, finding that all that there was for dinner was a potato and a herring, thanked God that he had ransacked sea and land to find food for his children.
Such a sweet spirit breeds love to everybody, and makes a man go through the world cheerfully. Professing to be wise, they became fools : Our rejection of God's general revelation has not made us smarter or better. Instead, it makes mankind futile in their thoughts , and makes our foolish hearts darkened - and we become fools. The fact is once a man rejects the truth of God in Jesus, he will fall for anything foolish, and trust far more feeble and fanciful systems that what he rejects from God. This futility of thinking, darkening of the heart, and folly must be seen as one example of God's righteous wrath against those who have rejected His revelation.
Part of His judgment against us is allowing us to suffer the damage our sinful course leads to. Rom The tragic result of human guilt before God. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
Therefore God also gave them up : In His righteous wrath and judgment, God gives man up to the sin our evil hearts desire, allowing us to experience the self-destructive result of sin. This phrase is so important Paul repeats it three times in this passage. Hosea expresses the judgmental aspects of God "giving us up," leaving us to our own sin: Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone. We err when we think that it is God's mercy or kindness that allows man to continue in sin.
It is actually His wrath that allows us to go on destroying ourselves with sin. Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie : In every rebellion and disobedience against God we exchange the truth of God for the lie of our own choosing, and set the creature before the Creator. Paul uses the definite article; it is not a lie , but the lie. The lie is essentially idolatry - which puts us in the place of God; it is the lie you will be like God. Genesis For this reason God gave them up to vile passions : Paul wrote this letter from the city of Corinth, were every sort of sexual immorality and ritualistic prostitution was practiced freely.
The terminology of Romans refers to this combination of sexual immorality and idolatrous worship. This begins a passage where Paul describes the sin and corruption of the pagan world with an amazing directness - so direct that Spurgeon thought this passage unfit for public reading. I should hardly like to read it all through aloud; it is not intended to be so used. Read it at home, and be startled at the awful vices of the Gentile world. Paul uses homosexuality - both female and male - as an example of God giving them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves.
Some say that the Bible nowhere condemns lesbian homosexuality, but the likewise of Romans makes it clear that the sin of homosexuality condemned in Romans is connected to the sin of women mentioned in Romans Paul doesn't even use the normal words for men and women here; he uses the words for male and female , using categories that describe sexuality outside of human terms, because the type of sexual sin he describes is outside of human dignity.
Paul categorizes the whole section under the idea of vile passions - unhealthy, unholy. Nevertheless, Paul lived in a culture that openly approved of homosexuality.
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Paul didn't write this to a culture that agreed with him. Paul wrote to a culture where homosexuality was accepted as a part of life for both men and women. For some years, men who openly practiced homosexuality, often with young boys, ruled the Roman Empire. At times, the Roman Empire specifically taxed approved homosexual prostitution and gave boy prostitutes a legal holiday. Legal marriage between same gender couples was recognized, and even some of the emperors married other men. At the very time Paul was writing, Nero was emperor. He took a boy named Sporus and had him castrated, then married him with a full ceremony , brought him to the palace with a great procession, and made the boy his "wife.
Homosexual practice truly is an abomination in our present culture. Homosexuals often seem to specialize in anonymous sex with no emotional commitment. At one time, London AIDS clinics defined a woman as promiscuous if she had more than six partners in her lifetime. They gave up trying to apply a workable definition to male homosexuals when it became clear that they saw almost no homosexual men who had less than six sexual partners a year.
Receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due : Paul speaks of a penalty for homosexual conduct; Homosexuality has within itself a penalty. This speaks of the self-destructive nature of sin; it often carries within itself it's own penalty. Sometimes it is the penalty of disease, which is the consequence of violating nature's order. Sometimes it is the penalty of rebellion, resulting in spiritual emptiness and all it's ramifications. The term "gay" is wishful thinking; it sends a message that there is something essentially happy and carefree about the homosexual lifestyle - which there is not.
Again, this "freedom" to disobey should be seen as God's judgment , not His kindness; those who engage in such acts are receiving in themselves the penalty of their error. As further judgment, God gives man over to a debased mind , so that things that are disgraceful and sickening are readily accepted and approved. The word debased or, reprobate in the KJV meant originally 'that which has not stood the test'. It was used of coins that were substandard and therefore rejected. The idea is that since man did not "approve" to know God, men came to have an "unapproved" mind.
A debased mind : Our rebellion against God is not only displayed in our actions , but in our thinking. We are genuinely "spiritually insane" in our rebellion against God. The list in Romans gives concrete examples of the kind of things which are not fitting. Notice how "socially acceptable" sins such as covetousness , envy and pride are included right along with "socially unacceptable" sins such as murder and being unloving.
Covetousness is literally the itch for more. Whisperers : "Secret detractors; those who, under pretended secrecy, carry about accusations against their neighbours, whether true or false; blasting their reputation by clandestine tittle-tattle. Is envy a small sin? Envy put Jesus on the cross. Pilate knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. Matthew Proud : "They who are continually exalting themselves and depressing others; magnifying themselves at the expense of their neighbours; and wishing all men to receive their sayings as oracles.
Those who either practice or approve of these things are worthy of death ; they are the worth objects of the wrath of God. Where does all this violence, immorality, cruelty and degradation come from? Men have abandoned the true knowledge of God, and the state of society is a reflection of God's judgment upon them for this. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry. Blue Letter Bible study tools make reading, searching and studying the Bible easy and rewarding.
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Let's Connect x. Subscribe to our Newsletter. I ask because to call out someone as a heretic you sight the former Pope of the same Church that at one time declared Protest-ants to be heretical even as Luther et. If you are Catholic you are out of step with the current Catechism regardless of what one Pope speaking as a man and not ex cathedra may have said. Show me where in the Bible God confirms same-sex marriage.
Or even show me where God affirms homosexuality. Nor the US Constitution, but the Constitution can be amended. That is ok too, for some who feel more comfortable in life feeling tucked in by someone greater with authority.
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For those who are truth seekers and those who need knowledge over authority understand that the venom that the Baptists have released on marriage rights is really all about their attitudes regarding sex. So for an example of a ever changing complex issue not being mentioned in the Bible , I leave you with a choice. Even pork is listed as an abomination. Dog meat is not. Parts of Asia eat dog meat. Chester Wenger continues to bear fruit as this Lancaster Conference Mennonite article articulates. It is strange, to say the least, for someone in the Anabaptist heritage to bring the charge of heresy.
We look at scripture through the lens we are wearing and we all have different colored lenses that cause us to see it differently. The Bible was used to support slavery less than two hundred years ago. The church does need to be culturally relevant if it is ever going to be a witness to the Gospel of Christ. Scripture is very important but Christians need to understand that Jesus is the WORD, and He trumps the Bible so if scripture seems to contradict Christ, we need to choose Christ every time.
Martin Luther once said that the Bible is the cradle that holds the Christ child. We open the Bible and in it we are allowing ourselves to be led to Christ. The letter of the law kills, the Spirit gives life…. We are killing people with the letter of the law and we are doing it in the name of Christ. I am a student at the University of Oklahoma who has found comfort in your words and the words of Chester Wenger.
I would love to contact you and discuss further. My email address is eeallen ou. Please let me know. Eric, a shortened version of this letter will appear in the letters section of the December issue. Thank you for this testimony. You are right — there is a desperate need for the Light to shine. Love supersedes issues, as it should.
Thank you for taking off the bushel and letting your personal Light shine. Thank you so much for your letter. May more Anabaptist leaders find the courage within themselves to also speak this truth. Too often Anabaptist leaders follow the authority of homophobic public opinion from the pews rather than take the courageous steps of reading the radical message of hospitality and love. Too often leaders protect their positions and create an idolatry of Mennonite institutions rather than be true to what most of them already know… the church has been guided by secular homophobia rather than real Biblical interpretation and understanding.
Should we love and welcome LBGT person? Should we allow people living in unrepentant sin access to the Eucarist, leadership or teaching positions, access to the pulpit? I fear in the next half decade or so, the mennonite church is going to collapse on itself and splinter even further over all these issues. I feel I must ask the question … when did the Eucharist become the property of the church?
Where does the church draw its authority from to deny the Eucharist to anyone. Christ did not set out any policy of who should receive and who should not. I am sorry my dear brother.. Secondly … God and only God has the right to judge! If you do not agree, sleep outside tonight. No pillow, no blanket. Just you and the ground. By morning, you should have a new perspective on change and controversy. As a catholic-in-exile, it pains me to see others unable to continue on their communities of faith. Yet, it seems as though the christian church as a whole across the world has reached a cross road.
There are many possible reasons for hardening of hearts within your beloved church, but your willingness to speak out to give witness to the Light that dwells in your soul is magnificent testimony to Unconditional Love.
This is truely heart breaking. I agree with Sarah Gingrich. This is going to split the church, and rightly so. Eph kJB so very sad indeed. Thank you so much for your thoughtful, loving letter. Much respect and love to you and your family. One day, the church will treat LGBT people as equals and will not divide families, as it has here. That day is coming. Thank you for your incredible, courageous, thoughtful truth. Thank you! Chester, I am moved deeply and humbled by your eloquent witness here.
I was a classmate of your son Chet and while I do not claim to have known him well I believe that I knew him well enough to say that he would have been very proud of you at this moment. I understand the deep need that LGBT people have to be loved and accepted by people outside of their group. It is the same need people in any other outcast group in society has, such as: the homeless, ex-convicts, drug addicts, people who were abused as children, refugees, etc.
I truly am glad to have a faith background, such as the Mennonite one, which seeks to love these and bring them in to the Kingdom of God. Yet sometimes this zeal also can go overboard. While seeing the brokenness, the imperfection caused by sin, traditionally it has meant we reach out in love to bring them to God, who is truth, but never denying that which is true for example: God does not desire people to be addicted to drugs, or be homeless. And we know these things based on that which has been revealed Bible , and seeing the devastation that the contrary brings.
Though it is not a highly discussed topic in the Bible, I cannot see how one could ignore this topic. It is as if Romans does not exist anymore?! If Mr. Having a clear conscience is not necessarily a sign that is the will of God. People who have adopted certain lifestyles such as stealing, lying, etc. I mean this in the sense that we are not for the condemnation of people who consider themselves LGBT, but believe that God is stronger than those desires, and can heal.
God is a healer. Being that He has healed people of other unnatural mindsets such as believing that the need for sex is greater than being faithful to ones spouse, that alcohol is a greater comforter than the Holy Spirit, etc. Now, it took willing and extremely loving people to work with many of these outcast groups. And that is still what we need. And one must admit, people who have worked with outcast have also learned many a thing from these people. And that still is the case with the LGBT group. We can learn many a thing from them. But we must be clear: it does not validate the erroneous mindset and actions.
Example: A person who was abused as a child comes into an erroneous mindset, sets up defense mechanisms which protect them to a degree, but are harmful in the long run. We can learn a lot through experiences that in an ideal world would not happen. But God is calling us to not settle and become complacent in this imperfection. Thankfully EI no longer tries to do this but others will take encouragement from comments such as yours here. In reading this article It fills me with hope! I am not a Mennonite but raised in an area of Eastern Kentucky with a very large Mennonite population.
I became saved by the lord when I was in high school and began my lifelong journey to try to find the path up the mountain like many others. For a very long time I prayed daily to remove the stain of being a gay male from my life. I finally after years realized that the reason GOD was not removing this stain from me was because he had made me in his image and exactly how he wanted me to be from the start. I realized GOD did not want me to lie to myself and the world by saying I am someone I was never meant to be, he expected me to be myself fully BUT hold to the same values.
No lusting, unlawful relations and the like. Gay people are not some minority freaks of nature or unnatural, homosexuality occurs throughout the vast makeup of creatures who GOD chose to populate the planet he created for us. It is not unnatural or wrong. No heterosexual person can tell you they day they picked being heterosexual. An individual made by GOD to be just the person he wanted you to be.
Throughout this comment I really hope you understand I am trying my best not to be judgmental, but simply stating with I cannot deny to be true in the Word of God. I know I do not have all the answers on exactly how to go about it. We are learning. Just as we have learned to help abuse victims. There are many personality aspects which I find very admirable in such people. I have no problem having a person of the LGBT persuasion as part of the church.
Do we believe it when God says he is never-changing Mal ? If not, then we just pick and choose what we think is right, or? We as Mennonites many times accuse other Brethren of picking and choosing, especially when it comes to our non-violence stance. Why is it wrong when they do it, but right when we do it? None of us are born perfect. All of us sinned before we knew it was wrong, because all us were conceived sin Psalm Yes, there are things we come to live with because of this condition, and cannot change.
But I still believe God holds us accountable to the degree to which we can decide. My view after hours of Bible study, time spent with gay people, going as far as I can into psychology, and in my connection with God through the Holy Spirit : Gay people can be in the church. Let their personality shine through!
Yet, just as someone who has struggled with alcohol almost invariably needs to abstain from it, I believe a gay person with the Holy Spirit as their guide needs to learn what they need to abstain from, as to keep in concordance with the Word of God, and I believe God will help them with the transforming of their minds.
I know it sounds ridiculous to some. But I cannot change the Bible. And there are a fair amount of people who consider themselves gay who have the same conviction. I hope it helps. Once again, please take this with as much respect as you possibly can. I am not trying to point fingers, but just express my thoughts and help us all respectfully and truthfully dialogue about this.
I think it is entirely unclear that those verses are addressing committed same sex relationships. Daniel, you mentioned or quoted Romans 1 a couple of times, and seek call others to take it seriously. I do, and so from my humble understanding of sexual orientation, I understand that you can take this verse exactly as stated to mean what it says—if, and its a big if, you understand sexual orientation from a scientific perspective.
Gay men never were attracted to women, they did not leave a natural attraction to women. Their natural attraction was always, and always will be to men. Hope this opens a new window as you seek to understand where all people are coming from. Steve and Jonathan, Thank you for your response. Good questions. The problem I see is, that such a distinction what is natural for a heterosexual vs.
And if so, you would most likely call it a sin. I believe that the way you interpret that verse creates a double standard: For heterosexual men, it is a sin to have sex with a man; but for homosexual men, it is not. I have not known for God to have double standards. Again, for me, it is the act itself which God considers destructive, which I think is what Romans 1 is getting at. And just because something seems natural from a very young age on, does not mean it is good. There are many things which at that age seem natural and right lying, crying to get attention, hitting others, etc.
Never made it right though. There are things which are good that seem natural early on already. It is shaky ground and questionable logic. With all this, I keep on trying to be as respectful of such people as possible. And we cannot simple talk about it solely from a emotional or biblical or scientific or psychological or spiritual standpoint.
I am moved and encouraged, Daniel, by your desire to be respectful and loving in your response to me, or anyone else. I am disappointed that you jumped onto a limb that I did not address directly. My whole point was that Paul seems to be talking about something other than homosexuality here because he talks about men leaving their natural inclinations, pretending to be something they are not. Like I said at the first of my first post. My community are the friendly people.
In the area where I live we have had people killed for being who GOD made them. GOD makes you a wondrous creation and then expects you to follow him and allow him to make you all you can be and ever would aspire to be. Out of everything he loved us most to give us this wondrous gift. I grew up on a rural farm where we earn what we have by the sweat of your brow. The lusting, longing and unlawful relations however is wrong, BUT, it is also wrong to do these things if you are heterosexual as well.
I have a gay Mennonite best friend that I have grown up with and known all my life I went to a Mennonite school until high school level , we both know that we do indeed love each other. We would love to stop committing a daily sin by not admitting the truth and be who GOD made us. Instead, we work at the same job together side by side and never say a word.
How would you feel? How hard would it be to lie to yourself and GOD about who you really were. We are all human with feelings and comparing people to some horrid drug addicts, pedophiles, rapists and the like for something they did not choose nor can they change is wrong. Besides in the end, only GOD can sit in judgement of his children. Telling your personal journey takes time and lots of commitment to truth as you have lived it — Thank you!
Thank you very much for your personal story and your courage. You are be commended for your attitude and have every right to be who you are with full respect by all of us. I wish you well. Daniel, It took as much courage for you to share as it did for this reverend.
Thank you for sharing! We are to have the mind of Christ, not of this earth. The Lord wants to show Himself to all those who are humble and contrite of heart. MCUSA needs this testimony and these responses right now that we might better see where we are on this issue. Of course I have not read nearly all of them. Women in leadership was the issue then. Now technology offers another avenue. Daniel, my heart was growing very heavy after reading all these posts going against plain Biblical instruction.
It seemed like a 2 Timothy convention. Then, I read your posts and I was encouraged. Thank you for presenting the truth in a respectful and intelligent way! Keep on striving to honor God above all else. William Craig has written some great books and one I have been especially encouraged by is found here. Wenger will do the same. If this is accepted, then every sin that is listed in the Bible must also be accepted. I agree that you must be living to all sinners but you must not endorse the sin. Yes we should follow the law of the Bible by not being gay, not wearing poly-cotton blends, forcing women who were sexually assaulted to marry their rapist, never eating shellfish, etc.
I am not a member of the Mennonite Church. This is a beautiful letter. Thank you for your thoughtful and inspiring testimony. I hope it encourages other respected leaders in the Mennonite church to carefully consider their own position on the issue. As a biology major, it well known that there is homosexuality throughout nature. So it is natural that it also exists in humans.
Our youngest son is gay, not by choice, but something he was endowed with from birth. He has said that he is not hiding the fact that he is homosexual, but that there is no reason why he would choose to be gay. It is the way he is created. I love my son and will always support him. Thank you, dear brother Chester. Your letter is beautiful and generous and loving.
You and your family are a gift to us all. God bless you as you continue to minister to our Mennonite Church. And may the Holy Spirit grace you with peace as you keep on bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. I cannot call myself a Christian when we treat our gay brothers and sisters so badly. And I am lost. Every time I read something like this, I think maybe possibly maybe I will someday find my way home.
You, dear sir, know how to give good gifts to your children, like our Father above. What a beautiful encouraging note to the author! It is easy to SAY your a christian. But living as a Christian is another. Chester and Sarah Jane are shining examples of true Christian spirit. Jesus said to love everyone. I feel something became lost.
We are told to live as Jesus would to love everyone no matter what. Chester and Sarah Jane have embraced this concept. May we all follow their example in spreading the light of God! God bless you for loving your son so much. I pray for the day that all churches are welcoming of All people. A blessed statement from a wonderful couple with the history in ministry to give integrity to all they say. You say so well what others of us have also felt. It is a tribute to your faith, your service to God and the church.
It was beautifully written. It is my prayer that the church which we love will be inundated with letters written with equal grace inviting us to be the presence of God via Jesus and our own lives to those who are hurting today. Thank you so very much. The Mennonite Church USA could have use a whole lot more of Chester Wenger, his humility, integrity and compassion, and now he has been stripped of his credentials.
Thank you Chester. Your actions and words humble this observer. God bless you! Thank you for bearing witness to the gospel in such a powerful and Christlike manner. You are light and salt. Thank you. Thank you, Brother Wenger. I pray that our church will continue to hear prophetic voices like yours. The courage in marrying your sons and writing this letter is the courage of saints. I long for the day when congregations can each discern this issue and respect one another for their decision. I long for a day when congregations are not dismissed nor choose to leave over this.
Thank you for the integrity and compassion you have shown in the way you live your life, both then and now. You have spent years judging, ignoring, condemning and hating us. I no longer need your support, your acceptance, or your love. I certainly do not need to be tolerated by you or your groups. What I need is civil protections from you and your organizations. Please just go away and leave me and my family alone.
Phyllis, I totally agree — having gay relatives and friends can make all the difference in the world. I have a dear gay friend who lives in The Netherlands, married to his partner of almost 30 years. My understanding of the law there is that everyone, gay and straight, must be married in a civil ceremony and are all then granted the same legal, civil rights of marriage. Sounds like a common sense approach to me. Thanks again, Chester. You made my day! I, too, have struggled with the biblical view of this matter, given all the people I have known and worked with who are gay, and having been most hurt by the judgmental Christians who have imposed harsh edicts on the behaviors of others…..
Loneliness is bad. The rule about who a Hebrew could marry clearly was inconsequential in light of the man that Moses was and the work that Moses did. Miriam and Aaron were chastised, Moses, never. The Christian paradigm for love is set down in the text of scripture and embodied in the life of Christ. The commonality of emotions we share within the human experience is good and comforting, but it is imperfect. All through scripture, love is opposition to sin; not cruel or vindictive opposition, but kind and direct opposition.
The first 13 years were due solely to profound illness. The 10 years since have been due solely and soulfully to profound healing. The conversation-dialog-debate-destruction-healing within MCUSA that I have witnessed and participated in at SMC in recurring cycles for these past 10 years is too intense for me to continue in that aspect of our Church Life. When I said this during Worship last Summer to my dear congregation, I was filled with the Holy Spirit and embraced by the Love of my Spiritual Family that my non-religious birth family has never provided since I came out gay in , age I said that I was blessed to have straight members of our Family who continue our Struggles-With-God on my behalf.
Blessings and the Peace of Christ be with your son and his partner and on their loving parents. God bless you both. It did strike a very familiar chord of pain in my life and I feel called to respond to that shared longing. I want to add the following to my testimony by first thanking the other Replier for that sensitive witness. I now use a much lower maintenance dose in tablet form. I was too pre-occupied with my journey with-In to try to manage my In-curable diseases to even think about relationships or loneliness.
I was busy around the clock. I still am. But since my first exposure to Mennonites at Seattle Mennonite Church SMC on December 12, , I have returned to my teen-age ideals of saving myself for one person after we marry, in my case to someone of the same gender. I wanted then and have chosen since my radical healing in to hold myself to the same standard held to heterosexual Mennonites. No sex outside a monogamous marriage. That was a catastrophe that shocked me in my mis-reading of how my friends and family would react in It turned my already wounded and traumatized emotional life inside out.
Those are my personal beliefs. I am not evangelical and have no interest in trying to convert others to my beliefs based on what God has been revealing to me throughout my life. My history is a litany of not being able to discern who I could trust and who would betray me in such spectacular ways, before and since HIV, as to change my life on earth.
May the Peace of Christ stay my hand of anger from turning on my surviving family members and specific other individuals to rub their faces in their crimes against nature. It has always been an option and a temptation. It took me 51 years and AIDS to find my natural Family and the majority shun and punish me just as my ex-Mennonite, ex-Christian family continues to do. It is so hard not to drop verbal or written bombs on the lot of us. I invite and challenge people who claim to be Mennonite Anabaptist Christians and Followers of Jesus to leave the judging to God and get on with the Love of Christ.
And using gasoline engines and electricity and smartphones. And divorce and remarrying. And the ordination of women. We know what quoting Scripture does to all sides on all issues. Let us try refraining from quoting Scripture on this hugely divisive issue. I am deeply touched by your testimony. I found myself repeatedly moved to tears as I read it aloud to my wife. This struck such a deep cord in me.
Thank you for being such an example of courage and compassion. Marvin, I was touched by your openness to reexamine your beliefs. On this issue, and many others that we hold dear, there is an extreme lack of openness to consider other perspectives. I am often reminded that I need to remain open to hearing from those with whom I disagree. We all need its love and grace as demonstrated by Jesus. What a gift you have given us, Brother Wenger, in sharing publicly your personal position!
Thank you for taking the risk of speaking with honesty, integrity and love. Yes, we need to love all people. Please read Leviticus incest, homosexual behavior, and sex with animals are all described as sin in this context. If homosexual behavior is OK, then is incest OK? As a young adult, I would be grieved to see the Mennonite Church endorse homosexual behavior. Should we eliminate certain parts from the Bible simply because they are difficult or make us feel uncomfortable?
I certainly hope not! Sadly, it appears the homosexual-agenda-pushers seek to cause a split in the Mennonite Church. Usually, folks like me keep silent because we are afraid of all the judgment and intolerance from those who disagree with us. Even if you disagree with me, please think! And please read Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 before, arriving at emotional conclusions. Please read the whole book of Leviticus and see how much of it you are following before quoting it to others. Herb Reed. Oh yes, Mr. Some are inconsistent with others, some are outdated since the the new covenant of Jesus Christ.
You are obviously wise and caring people and parents. You have likely seen and experienced many changes over the course of your lifetimes thus far. Some people resist and fight change, some embrace our growing understanding of the world and the people within, and use it to enhance their lives, and the lives of others. You clearly fall into the second category. You are a courageous man, Mr. Wenger, however age does not always mean wisdom. You have made an unwise choice and have thrown those you love in turmoil. Pastor Wenger, thank you so, so much—though I and my family were raised Catholic, I grew up surrounded by a loving Mennonite community and am forever grateful for that.
I have many close friends who are LGBT, and know the deep and spiritual struggles they face. Many blessings to you and your family. There are reference to God condemning fleshly lust and sexual unions other than between a man and a woman who have joined in marrage. With out a revival organizations that seek to be part in The Church are but a sounding brass and clanging simble.
Scripture should always be taken in context. There is a good case to be made that Paul was speaking of pederasty so prevalent in his day just like is common in places like Afghanistan today. Perhaps you should find out what pederasty really is before you go on. Take care. I agree that you need to read the red letters of the New Testament a few more times before you throw out your judgment on the topic.
God will not be mocked by this wicked tolerance of sin. We may not be led by our emotions. Churches are changing all right, but God is not. Count the time that the New Testament mentions love and compassion, Then count the 3 times it mentions homosexuality. I try to treat and love others like I would like to be treated and loved. Just my thoughts. Have a blessed evening. Congratulations, Phil and Steve!
Congratulations, Chester and Sara Jane! Obviously you get that trait from your parents. So Pastor Wenger is now the authority on this issue? I think not! It is true, he has made an unwise choice as someone previously stated. So sad that a person who so many people have been and still are influenced by can be dragged along and warped by popular culture into the belief that the homosexual sin is to be tolerated. I was raised in the Mennonite Church and taught our sons values of the church.
But my gay son has declared that he is atheist and with attitudes like yours, there is no welcoming in the church for my son. Martha Maust, my heart grieves for you and your son. Know that you both are loved and beautiful to God, and that the church who rejected your son did not speak for God, for God is love! I see you have your blinders fully in place. I pray you come to a better understanding of love, empathy, and compassion.
Thank you so much for your honesty and compassion. I have shared your article with a number of friends, including a priest whose gay daughter has recently married, with her blessing. If the church worldwide spent as much energy on addressing real issues such as poverty, war, domestic violence, abuse of women and children, pollution, corruption, drug addiction etc , as it does on the making gays feel unloved, we would see huge growth in those coming to know the love of Jesus. All strength to you and your family from South Africa where, at least constitutionally, we protect the rights of gay folk, although we have a long way to go in practice.
While Mennonites have seen the judgemental side of shunning and shaming in the past, it is clear the church has allowed the pendulum to swing too far to the other side, right along with the ultra PC nature of our society. No longer is sin treated as sin. Where does it stop? When do we acknowledge the need for repentance? Living a holy, Godly life does not come natural to us! My husband and I left the Mennonite church 20 years ago because we saw this on the horizon. Thank you Chester and Sarah Jane for your courage, wisdom, and deep love for the church and her Lord. May the grace and peace of God be with you.
The comments reveal efforts to characterize Rev. As we honor Rev. Wenger with our words, let us also pay close attention to his. Instead, Rev. Wenger is speaking the language of the Bible into the brokenness of the world. Obviously, Rev. Wenger is asking the Mennonite church to make changes. But he does so within the discourse of the Bible, not the discourse of the empire.
As we laud Rev. Wenger, let us also pay attention to what he says. Thank you for this beautiful, graceful letter filled with the wisdom of one who has spent 96 years on this earth with an open mind, heart and soul. May our vision come from eyes wide open to see all who have been created in this colorful, complicated and wonderful world. The story of a father seeking out his already messed up and lost son which after finding him brought him in, clean him up and dressed him up in royal attires.
A doctor is useless without sick people so the son of God came to save the lost. The contradiction I found these days has to do with the church loosing sight of her purpose on earth — Jesus was friend of sinners, He made room for them not their way of lives. In other words, He will show them love, address the issue of sin and get them converted from their perverted path. While I do not hate any homosexual person, the scripture is abundantly clear that it is ungodly Romans1: 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Kenny, thank you for quoting from Romans 1, which provides an excellent example of biblical text that refers to same-sex relations, but in the context of wanton abandonment of God and adherence to a hedonistic, evil lifestyle…not a context of love between two people.
I agree that the bible is abundantly clear that lustful behavior, sexual immorality, and degrading of the human body is not of God; I do not find it at all clear that homosexual love between two people is not of God. As hard as it may be for heterosexuals myself included to fully understand, it has become abundantly clear to me through study, prayer, and listening to my brothers and sisters, that alternate sexual orientation is part of that image. God is our creator and sustainer.
God is love. God is all. We understand only a tiny part of God. We see dimly now, but one day, we will understand. Out of a spirit of love and empathy for my friends with other sexual preferences, I sincerely want to come to similar conclusions as yours. Your comments help identify my inner tensions. How do we actually know what God condemns, for real? Christ said that the most important laws are: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two laws hang all the law and the prophets. Christ really gave us plenty on the love side of the ledger. In fact, he said it twice. Christ chose to spend his time with the shunned, the unpopular, and the disenfranchised. Is homosexual activity sin? However if people at least can agree to open their hearts and minds to just consider, for a moment, that perhaps what they always have believed to be true is in fact not entirely true, we have a chance for survival as One Body. Because I fear that this dichotomy is such that the two sides have a fairly large chasm between them, and that schism within the Mennonite Church may be inevitable.
I would like to speak for a moment longer on just one aspect of this debate: the extremely important issue of what the bible says and does not say regarding homosexuality. There is no doubt that passages speak to same-sex sexual behavior in a negative light, as sin, but in the context of wanton promiscuity and hedonism of people who have fallen from God…not a loving relationship between two committed people.
I think this is very important. Dear Chester and Sarah Jane: What a heartfelt and deeply sincere response to the issue of homosexuality and how the Mennonite Church is struggling to deal lovingly with homosexual mbers. I have only known you both for a short period of time, but this relationship has enriched my life and made it very clear that your positions are well defined and supported by Scripture. I stand proudly by your side in the position you have taken.
May more of our Mennonite brethren come to accept our homosexual members; and not only accept, but welcome them with open arms, as would Jesus. Blessings and love to you both and to your family. I am glad to see someone approach this subject with objectivity and who is scripturally defined. What does it matter who censors or approves of that which we think? God only has that power and I believe when we are truly seeking His will for us, he has our backs.
I am not a gay person but I do have friends that are gay and I also have Christian gay friends. The idea of being married to each other is a municipal question, not a spiritual question at all. There is nothing here that suggests this as being a biblical question. Bretheren, let us love one another for love is of God and he that loveth, knoweth God for God is Love. When we went to a wedding last December and when my daughter asked what would I do when she finally marries her partner, I cried.
I believe He will tell them if He is happy with them and they will continue to seek to do His will. Thank you for your encouraging open letter. Bless you. Thank you for sharing your story and calling for your community of faith to rethink their approach. I have a private Facebook support group for moms of lgbt kids who love their lgbt kids unconditionally and want to make the world a kinder, safer, more loving place for their kids and family to live. There are more than moms in the group and we continue to grow.
The moms group is such a help and comfort for them because they realize they are not alone. We share a lot of info with one another, tell our stories, pray for each other and learn and grow together. If anyone is interested in more info about the group they can email me at lizdyer55 gmail. Thank you so much for this open letter, and for your faithfulness to Jesus Christ.
The modern American Christian machine is turning many away from our beloved Savior by their exclusion, demonization of their fellow man, and their self-righteous pride. It is so refreshing on those rare occasions when I encounter the teaching of a true follower of Jesus. As an atheist, I must say that you are a wonderful father and a terrible mennonite. Perhaps you should visit an Episcopal Church as well. More people who truly love their neighbor are there than anywhere else. I bare to disagree with you. They are exactly the kind of Mennonites that all Mennonites should be and should be deeply respected.
They are the kind of people that help keep people like me in the Mennonite Church and not become the atheist or agonist that I could have become. Even atheists and agnostics have potential to eventually become Mennonites with new reflections of the universe that has existed now for I am not a Christian, and feel no need to hold such beliefs. But I value above all else truthful ethics, and see in this letter a rare example of what should be the common character of all people. The bushel is to hold and carry the harvest.
Hiding beneath it denies the harvest, and thus starves the people. To those of you who are condemning of the lgbt lifestyle let me, as a gay person, ask you a few questions:. Do you think I chose this orientation? Believe me, I would give anything to not face the persecution I feel. Do you have a problem with heterosexuals getting butterflies in their gut when they see someone of the opposite sex who is attractive? Or holding hands before marriage?
If not, you are accepting of their sexuality as a part of their personality, only you expect them to restrain themselves from full sexual involvement until after marriage — right? If I hold hands with another woman? Where are you going to draw the line for me, or am I to totally deny a very essential part of who I am and how God has created me? How can you love me, yet deny a very essential part of my being? No one is asexual. You can choose to stay single or to be celibate until you get married — your choice.
You are leaving me no choice if I find someone I believe is my soul mate. I believe in monogamous, for-life commitment, something not seen much today in the heterosexual world. I know very few gay Christians particularly here in the South and I am not surprised. I agree with what you have to say! I was raised in A Pentecostal Family. I knew how our church feels about this same topic. I as well has been gay since I was very young.
I earnestly seek to serve God as best as I know how. Some people will never understand what its like to be on the other side of the fence and know how it feels to be ridiculed and oppressed for being what God made us! Thanks for your thoughtful and loving letter. Thank you for sharing Mr. Your letter was so touching and moved me to tears. The love and forgiveness that you show gives me hope that we live in a world that may be able to someday show the same love and peace to all regardless of our many differences.
May God bless you and your family. Yes the new website is working but I would suggest limiting the number of lines in responses — some responses are very long — if people want to post large amounts of text verbatim they should have to use a link or in the case of scripture, the citation.
Also I think full names which correspond to an email address should be required — no pseudonyms or just first names. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Thank you so much for sharing your story — a journey of faith and integrity. May we learn as you have to follow the spirit of the Scriptures instead of the letter of the law. Thank you for following truth that is beyond the simplistic interpretation of scripture that we have grown up with. The four verses in the Bible that bring up homosexuality need to be read and studied in their context and with the intent that they were written.
What was God really talking about? God has so much more to say about promiscuity, gossip, stealing etc. God is so holy and loving. He will direct our understanding when we prayerfully and humbly seek His truth. Thank you for opening this crack to let the light shine a little brighter. It has been such a previlage to get to know you these last few years. Amen and Amen! God grant us all light and love for these days. To Mr. Chester Wenger. I watched the news then read what you wrote.
Thank You. I wish more parents were as understanding as you were. The world would be a better place. A son could not have a better mom and dad then yourself and your wife. Bless you and your family. Penguins etc…. Thank you so much for telling your story and offering these words. As it seems, it has served you well over the years, teaching you love and compassion and a great respect for family and humanity.
I know there are plenty of things in the Bible you continually guilty of. Just start in Leviticus and start reading and if you follow all these rules then start casting stones. Be honest. If you are not yet among the more than No matter what your view of homosexuality the compassionate letter from this 96 year old brother […]. Degradation and hate by the church as a whole is a huge injustice displayed by the church!
As such whether you are someone who cheats on their spouse, murders, lies or lives a homosexual life style the Bible refers to them as sin. When we promote these sins within the church through marriage or giving them places of authority are we not promoting the sinful behavior. For example if a pastor who cheats on his wife and is allowed to remain the head of his church are we not saying this is acceptable behavior. Are we not called to repent of our sins and strive to be like Christ. There is room for healing and change though the help of the Holy Spirit.
Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. The wide gate and broad way in this world is to embrace the ways of the world and the values of the sin-filled world. The world at least in Western culture is telling us that practicing homosexuality should be tolerated…out of love, out of respect, out of mutuality.
Surrendering to sinful desires of this flesh is sin…repent and turn away and sin no more. Laying aside interpretation of scripture — lying, stealing, murder, unforgiveness, hatred, strife, fear, faithlessness, fornication, adultery, deception, worry…….. Why is it that so many people set themselves up as judges and are so quick to condemn. Is your world so cut and dried, so black and white. If you are going to follow old testament law, then you better do so. That would put all hog farmers in the US out of business because that meat was unclean.
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