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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Five Points Friday, April 24, 2009: "What does the gospel say about homosexuals?"

"What does the gospel say about homosexuals?"

I was just finishing a conversation with a doctor at the Fountain in Five Points when I noticed two young ladies and a young man walking up to the Fountain. Though I was shaking hands and closing off my conversation with the doctor, I could not take my eyes off the girls and the guy for some reason, and one girl would not take her eyes off me. They sat down very close to us and I could almost feel a gravitational pull toward them.

I pulled out three Million Dollar Bill tracts from my pocket and offered them to the girls and the guy. One girl only looked at it and would not take it. She told me so. The other girl took one, and so did the guy. Just as sure as I felt drawn toward them, I quickly felt pushed away. I told them to read the back because there was an important message they should pay close attention to and I sort of drifted back toward the street where I met another young man who stopped to talk when I offered him a Million Dollar Bill.

As I talked with the young man near the street, I could feel the eyes of the two girls and guy as they watched me talk with this newer passerby about the soul, death, life, the law, judgment, hell, repentance and salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ. This young man reached a point he was more eager to cross the street and I thanked him for stopping to talk with me.

I told him to think about what he heard and turn from his sin. While I was encouraging him with these things, the first young girl who refused the gospel tract came and sat right behind me on the wall and lit up a cigarrette. The newer passerby finally crossed the street and I turned to meet her again. She said nothing and looked away, but it was evident the gravity switch had been flipped again, so I took a step back (she was that close) and said bluntly, "Ok, what's on your mind?"

"What are you doing out here?" she asked looking away, taking a drag on her cigarrette.

"Sharing the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hanging out. You know." I replied. "What are you guys up to tonight?"

"Nothing, just hanging out, I guess," she answered, looking around.

"Ok," I answered. "Can I ask you a question? What do you think will happen to you after you die?"

She thought for a moment and said, "I dunno. Nothing, I guess." A breath later she said, "I gotta question for you. What does the gospel say about homosexuals?" She said it more like a statement than a question. This was the burning issue. I think this little band recognized we were sharing the gospel and had an agenda.

I repeated her question a couple of times, finally sitting down next to her on the wall with the second repetition. I lifted a quick prayer to the Heavenly Father, asking Him to guide the conversation. "That's a very good question," I said and suddenly realized she wanted a fight, not an answer. I saw her female and male companions watching me from the Fountain.

I repeated the question one more time and said something like, "well, based the way you worded the question," (it was rather odd the way she put it), "I would have to say the gospel says the same thing about homosexuals that it does to liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, sorcerers, immoral person, sabbath-breakers, and people who are disobedient to parents."

She nodded her head, but I don't think she understood why because she suddenly stopped, looked at her friends and her eyes got huge--a signal? She took a drag on her cigarrette and I waited--I don't think that was the answer she was expecting.

"What does the gospel say?" she asked again.

"Well, the gospel says that all men everywhere should repent and put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ." I replied.

"So do you think that homosexuals will go to hell?" She asked, looking right at me, trying to stoke the fire for the fight.

"Yes," I replied, "right there alongside liars, thieves, adultereres, murderers, sorcerers, immoral persons, sabbath-breakers, etc. But that's not what I think," I clarified, "that's what God's Word says. Can I ask you a question?" She gave me permission.

"Have you ever told a lie?" I asked.

"Yes." She answered.

"What do you call people who tell lies?" I asked.

"People who don't tell the truth," was the reply.

"What would you call me if I told a lie?" I pressed.

"A person who does not tell the truth." I knew she was going to be difficult, so I moved on.

"Ever stolen anything?" I asked. She admitted she had. "What do you call people who steal things?" I asked.

"People who steal things." She replied, matter-of-factly, being intentionally difficult

"If I walked into that store over there, what word would law enforcement use to describe me?" I tried for clarification. She would not say "thief" no matter how I tried, but I did not want to upset her and give her the fight she wanted. Instead I asked, "why are you concerned about what the gospel says about homosexuals?"

At this point, her two companions came over. "We were wondering," the other girl chimed in, "because there are people out there who cannot help but be what they are." The newer girl began to lecture me about the biological tendencies of people to reject the way they were made to be. I answered her, but affirmed her statement that she was right but only in that we were made a certain way and there is a rebellion against what The Maker had planned. This threw her off and she thought about it for a moment. The three exchanged glances.

The first girl came back to the conversation, "so if liars, theives, adulterers and homosexuals are basically all the same in God's eyes, and homosexuals are going to hell, then everybody must be going to hell!" She laughed and her friends joined in celebrating that all humanity is going to hell and they would see me there too!

I smiled (I could not laugh) and said, "once again, you confirm scripture. The Bible says, 'there is none righteous, not even one' and 'all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.' All humanity does deserve hell for breaking God's moral law," I paused and repeated, "you are right. We're sunk." The laughter quickly died. "But you are not going to see me in hell and I will tell you why." I added.

I started to show them from scripture that God created man to be in relationship with Him and man broke God's moral law and the relationship is broken. Man not only lives in sin, but is also going to receive the wages of sin, which is death. God's will is that He does not want anyone to perish, but men love their sin too much to do the one thing God asks to avoid the punishment--repent and put faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I told them how I have put my faith and trust in Him and am walking in a restored relationship with the Father in Christ Jesus, delivered from the penalty and power of sin, looking forward to being delivered from the presence of sin.

The second girl stepped up to bat. "You are just quoting the Bible. You can't trust the Bible. It wasn't written by God but by sinful men. Beside, there are other religions out there."

I looked at her and asked, "how did you come to that conclusion?" No response, so I continued saying, "I don't see why that's a problem for you anyway. You read stuff written by sinful men all the time . . ."

She tried to explain how it was different, but I compared her statement with some examples from daily living as to how we do trust what others have written. "Besides," I went one, "you still did not tell me how you concluded that God did not write the Bible." The argument died right there as they exchanged glances. I went on to talk about inspiration and authority. They tried to argue textual variances, but I showed them through internal and external evidence (archaology) how God protects His Word. I brought out the heart of the matter, "Be honest. You've read it and don't like what is says so you would rather believe in what is agreeable to you." No answer.

By now the second girl (Alex) was becoming more conversational, while the first girl sat silent. They guy never said a word through this entire conversation, only listened with growing interest.

As I was talking about how God protects His Word, Alex noticed the tattoo on my left forearm. She said, "well, I'm Catholic and I know the Bible says about not marking your body up with tattoos."

I told her she, once again, was right. The Bible does have some things to say about tattoos, "But," I brought to her attention, "you did not ask me WHEN or HOW I got the tattoo."

I told them how I was brought up in a Christian home and thought I was a Christian. I told them of going off to college and, while wearing the name of Christ totally blasphemed His name (breaking the 3rd commandment) by drinking, drug use and immorality. All three listened intently as I told them (and showed them) how I came to do the tattoo myself. Then I told them about my overdoses and how I came to understand how God saw my heart and repentance. Then I addressed another issue she brought up about other religions.

Using the airplane analogy, I showed them how world religions fail: Hinduism is like jumping from a doomed plane only to be sucked in again as another passenger; Islam and others is like flapping your arms to keep from hitting the ground. All world religions seem spiritual, but do not address the sin problem nor it's consequences. I told them of the parachute and how it must be put on.

Alex tried, bless her, she tried. She said she felt that she could do more good than bad, that her good deeds could overcome her sins. I showed her that time never erases a crime, and using good deeds to outweigh the bad would be like bribing a judge, who, in turn can never let a wicked person go without becoming worse than the criminal himself.

Then something came to mind that surprised even me, at first. I told them, the real problem is not homosexuality, per se. The real problem that needs to be addressed is what causes homosexuality--homosexuality is only a symptom. I can show you what the real problem is. The real problem is lack of love for God.

Alex asked me, apologetically, if I had a lighter for her cigarrette. I told her I did not, but I knew where she could find fire and if she stuck with me long enough I was sure she could avoid going there. She laughed! I gave a breath of thanks to God.

As I brought out and taught from the scripture, the first girl left in a rage, causing Alex great distress. I told Alex that this was the most vital part of what she needed to hear and please, don't be distracted. She and the guy stayed with me until the end. I opened the Bible and taught them (foot trafffic was increasing all around us) from Romans 1 about breaking the First Commandment and how God turns a person over to their own lust. Homosexuality is only one way this rebellion manifests itself because those who see fit not to acknowledge God any longer do many things that are not proper, being unrighteous, wicked, greedy, evil, full of envy, murder (hatred = murder), strife, deceit, malice, gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, knowing the ordinances of God and practicing things worthy of death. Mankind is in the same boat and must repent, turn from sin and be made righteous in Christ Jesus.

As I read through Romans 1, Alex's eyes got huge. She seemed to no longer care about her friend. The guy sat quiet and listened. I looked at Alex and said, "I am about to ask you the hardest question you may ever have to answer, and I am doing it because I love you enough with God's love to do this: the first commandment says to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Can you honestly say you have done this your entire life? Or do you love yourself and what makes you feel good more?" She could not answer, but I knew her answer.

I looked at her male friend and asked him the same thing. He hung his head.

I then explained how God stepped into time and space and lived the perfect life and gave His life's blood on the cross. I begged, pleaded with them to repent, place their faith and trust in Christ. Die to sin and live in Christ. I told them how God loved them enough to provide the way of escape so that, like me, they too could miss hell and find healing and be reconciled to God.

Alex and her male friend were clearly affected by the gospel, and thanked me for taking the time to talk with them. I hated to end the conversation, but could only trust that they would cry out to God for salvation. When we finally parted, I felt stunned. Unplugged. I had a hard time sleeping.

Today, I had an hour to kill so I took my two boys with me on a side trip to Five Points. Jonathan skateboarded and William and I walked. As we were leaving, we passed one of the restaruants that serve out on their porches. The waitress attending the only couple on the sidewalk was girl #1. She saw me coming up the sidewalk (I saw her, too) and she got so agitated, I could see her face turn to stone. She had clearly switched off her customers, too. I made a small wave, though she tried hard not to look at me. I kept walking up the sidewalk. When I was sure she snapped out of it, I turned around quickly and made a bigger wave. She stormed off into the restaraunt.

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