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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"It Can't Be Wrong When It Feels So Right"

The song, “You Light Up My Life”* proclaims, “It can’t be wrong when it feels so right.” Or, can it?

We can apply this philosophy to many areas of our lives.
        What feels good?
        What do we emotionally want?
        What sensation feels necessary?
        What gives us pleasure?
        What just feels right?

Let’s apply this to the physical world:
        Eating comfort food, junk food, lots of food
        Drinking coffee, tea, alcohol
        Taking long baths in scented water, candles lit around the tub
        A walk in nature
        Partying with friends

While the above list isn’t all bad, some of these pleasures can be used in the wrong way—even while they feel good:
        Unhealthy eating and drinking
        Sex outside of marriage, adultery
        Substance abuse
        Wild partying

Even when it feels good, it might be wrong. 
It might not please God.

Let’s address the realm of sexuality. I recently read the book, Out of a Far Country, by Angela Yuan and her son Christopher. (You can access my review here.) While both mom and son write the book in alternating chapters, in this post, I’m quoting only Christopher. He was a gay man, and now he is a Christian. Read his thoughts about sexuality (emphasis mine):
            I had learned that I could live without sex, but what about my sexuality? If I was abandoning homosexuality as the core of who I was, did I have an identity apart from my sexual orientation? I really struggled with this, especially during my first year in prison. For the longest time, I really believed that God had created me this way—gay. I had told myself over and over, I am gay. I was born this way. This is who I am. I never chose to have these feelings. But now, as I searched the Scriptures for the way I should live, I began to ask myself a different question: Who am I apart from my sexuality? I didn’t have an answer.
            As I continued to read the Bible, I realized that my identity shouldn’t be defined by my sexuality. Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Christ should be everything—my all in all. My sexual orientation didn’t have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attractions. My identity was not “gay” or “homosexual,” or even “heterosexual,” for that matter. But my identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus Christ alone.
            God says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality. But actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God never said, “Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.” He said “Be holy, for I am holy.”
            For the longest time, I could never see myself becoming straight. It was a burden, because I felt I had to somehow become straight to please God. So when I realized that heterosexuality should not be my goal, it was so freeing. The thing was, if I did become straight, I would still deal with lust. Therefore, I knew that I shouldn’t focus on homosexuality or even heterosexuality, but on the one thing that God calls everyone to: holy sexuality. Holy sexuality is not focused on orientation change—becoming straight—but on obedience. And I realized that obedience means, no matter what my situation, no matter what my feelings—gay or straight—I must obey and be faithful to God. (pages 186-187)

Christopher goes on to say,
            Holy sexuality means one of two scenarios. The first scenario is marriage. If a man is married, he must devote himself to complete faithfulness to his wife. And if a woman is married, she must devote herself to complete faithfulness to her husband. . . . The second scenario of holy sexuality is singleness. Single people must devote themselves to complete faithfulness to the Lord through celibacy. This is clearly taught through Scripture, and abstinence is not something unfair or unreasonable for God to ask of his people. Singleness is not a curse. Singleness is not a burden. As heirs of the new covenant, we know that the emphasis is not on procreation but regeneration. But singleness need not be permanent. It merely means being content in our present situation while being open to marriage—and yet not consumed by the pursuit of marriage.
            Holy sexuality doesn’t mean that I no longer have any sexual feelings or attractions. Nor is it the obliteration of my sexuality either. God created us as sexual beings with the natural desire for intimacy. And everyone is created to desire intimate, God-honoring, nonsexual relationships with the same gender. But because of the effects of original sin, this normal feeling has been distorted. I believe homosexuality (and any other sin, such as jealousy, pride, and gluttony) stems from a legitimate need fulfilled in an illegitimate way.
             . . . Change is not the absence of struggles; change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles. I realized that the ultimate issue has to be that I yearn after God in total surrender and complete obedience.” (pages 187-189)

I share Christopher’s thoughts to help you. No matter what our background might be, the call to holiness is God’s expectation of us as Christians.

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing,
being fruitful in every good work,
and increasing in the knowledge of God.
(Colossians 1:10)

* “You Light Up My Life” by Joe Brooks

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