Freedom from Freedom: Theological Freedom (Part 2 – Does everybody want to be God?)

As we mentioned last post, Jesus Christ wants you to be His slave. Do you like that? Or do you dislike that? Why?

 

We’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s get to the meat of this post.

 

Everybody wants to be God…or do they?

Christians believe and teach this: Everybody has, as part of their sinful nature, a desire to be like God. We want to be God.

However, if you walk up to an atheist or an agnostic and you say “You, sir, want to be God!” then they will say “No, I don’t.” And then the appropriate response is “Yes, you do,” followed by “no, I don’t.”

Now, for us in the first place to make assumptions as to what is in someone else’s head is the height of arrogance, and one of the fastest ways to lose any sort of credibility in the topic we are teaching about. When Liberals say “Conservatives think blah blah blah” and when Conservatives say “Liberals think blah blah blah,” they lose their ability to persuade. Words like these only incite people who already agree with them anyway.

However, if God says it, that is a different story. Because…

Prov 15:11 (NLT)

Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the LORD. How much more does he know the human heart!

And even if someone is not a Christian…I personally don’t know anyone who believes in God, but doesn’t believe that God is all-knowing.

So let’s go back to the scenario with the unthinking, tactless Christian and the Atheist.

Christian says “You want to be God!” The Atheist says “No, I don’t!” How can this be? As I see it, the following are the only options.

  1. The Atheist is lying.
  2. The Christian knows God said it, but God is wrong (not likely. Again, if God exists, then it’s safe to assume He is all-knowing.)
  3. The Christian thinks God said it, but God didn’t (This actually happens a lot).
  4. The Atheist does want to be God, but he doesn’t think he does. He misunderstands what the Christian is saying. (Which I blame on the Christian for not explaining his point)

 

And personally, I believe the answer is option D, although I do need to explore option C for a little bit.

 

Did God really say that everyone wants to be God?

For you Bible nerds out there who like long words that no one would ever use except for Bible scholars, we get to jump into some hamartiology (the study of sin) for a little bit.

Scripturally, I know of no time where God all out says “Every single one of you wants to be God.” So here’s where we get this idea from.

  1. Eve, when she went for the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (when sin first entered humanity, Genesis chapter 3). One of the primary temptations was the desire to become like God. The serpent (Satan) repeated what God had already told her, but Scripture also tells us that the desire to become like God was part of the equation for her.
  2. The following Scripture is written for the King of Babylon during the time of Isaiah, but many Christians believe it to be talking about Satan himself.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (NIV)

How you have fallen from heaven,

O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth,

you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne

above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.”
Christians believe that Satan tempts us to sin.

(Side-tangent: I believe that this can be true, sometimes, but it’s not something to be dwelt upon. Usually, I am perfectly capable of messing up all on my own, with no help from Satan. I also believe that Satan is not omni-present, and therefore he can only be in one place at once. So, he’s not going to be tempting me and then tempting someone else at the same time. Now, he’s got spiritual forces that do his bidding, however, He who is in me, Jesus Christ, is greater that Satan Himself. So how much more true with Satan’s workforce? The end point: When I mess up, there is no one to blame but myself.)

If Satan tempts us to sin, and if this is what motivates our sinful side, then one might assume that our sinful side wants this for ourselves. If Satan wants to be God, then our sinful side wants to be God.

  1. c) Throughout history, the desire to be worshipped like God has been seen. Consider Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. Consider the Roman emperors. And man, am I only naming a few.
  2. d) There is an interesting word in Hebrew to watch out for…the word “Hillel”. Hillel means to exalt, to lift up. The word Hillel always appears in a negative context when talking about people or idols, but it has two positive contexts. 1) Exalting God (Consider “Hallelujah”, “Hallel” exalt, “lu” = a suffix meaning that the subject is “we”, and “jah” = short for Yahweh ,God’s covenant name. “Hallelujah” means “We exalt Yahweh.”), and 2) When God “hillels”/lifts up/exalts people who serve Him.

So the Old Testament sets itself against those who exalt themselves, but praises those who exalt God, promising that God will also exalt them.

 

So this is another area where although God doesn’t explicitly say that every single person wants to be like God, it certainly seems strongly implied that this desire is a notable component of the sinful nature.

 

So why do I think the answer is D?

 

The Atheist, the Agnostic, and by the way, the Christian, too, all have a desire to be God. But they often fail to identify it. Observe:

 

Tactless Christian: “You want to be God!”

Atheist/Agnostic: “No, I don’t. I’m not really interested in controlling what’s going on in someone else’s life or being everywhere at once or any of that stuff that I think God does. I mainly just want to be in control of my own life and make my own decisions about what is right and what is wrong.

 

We desire, as individuals and as a collective society, to be the masters of our own destiny. Most of us do not want to be everybody else’s God…(although a few throughout history, and a few today, do.) We mainly want to be our own God, and be in charge of our own lives.

 

In fact, if you aren’t a Christian, I suspect that you aren’t too offended by my words right now. I suspect that you are thinking, “Yes. That’s exactly what I want.” Am I right? Am I wrong?

 

If you are a Christian, however, I suspect that you are struggling. You desire to be God, but you know you aren’t supposed to. Either that, or you love the idea of God as presented to you, but the idea of Him calling you to let go of the wheel is pretty unnerving, and rather arrogant of Him.

 

God is calling you to give up your freedom and be His slave. Is that desirable or undesirable to you?

The Art of Apologetics: Homosexuality (Part 4) – Is it really a choice?

I was going to move into a post about “freedom to choose” until I realized that the very concept of “freedom” was going to become less of a single post and more of a series. So guess what series is coming next?

Regardless, a critical question that is often brought up in the homosexuality debate is whether a homosexual chooses to be homosexual. Because if homosexuality is something that happens to you or something that you are born with, rather than being a choice that you make, then a homosexual has done nothing wrong (they didn’t choose it, so you can’t hold them accountable.

This usually leads to a debate that sounds like this:

Pro-homosexuality person: It’s not a choice!

Anti-homosexuality person: It is too a choice, and it’s wrong!

Pro-homosexuality person: It’s not wrong, because it’s not even a choice!

And then there’s some discussion about psychology or animal nature or whether the “gay gene” actually exists and this and that.

 

My position, (which I, of course, plan on defending in this post) is this: The homosexual temptation is not a choice, the homosexual action is.

Furthermore, I want to place a demand on everyone: Whatever your position is, be consistent with it.

 

First of all: Is homosexuality a choice?

I believe that to say “yes” or to say “no” is to oversimplify the issue entirely. Remember…in order to communicate with anyone, both sender and receiver have to agree on the meanings of words…or else a miscommunication occurs. One says “homosexuality is not a choice!” and he means that the inclination and desire towards same-sex intercourse is not a choice…and he’s right. The other person says “It is too a choice!” and he means that the action itself is a choice, and he is right.

I believe that both parties will agree that the action itself is a choice (you have to in order to be consistent). Some might not agree over whether the inclination is a choice or not. I, personally, do NOT believe that the inclination is a choice.

 

The desire is NOT a choice

In fact, if you remember the Romans passage, you will notice that homosexuality was not the root issue, but in the given example, it was a manifestation of the real issue: rejection of God. There is a rule in Bible interpretation that says “Whenever you see a therefore, you must ask what it’s there for.” Well…pay attention…

Romans 1:21-27 (NIV)

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator — who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

 

I am not firing off a blanket statement…I am not saying that every single gay person is gay because they rejected God. There is such a thing as a Christian who grows up in the church, loves God, wants to serve God, but finds themselves tempted by a member of the same sex. This temptation doesn’t mean that this person has done anything wrong or bad…it’s simply a temptation.

Rather, this example that Romans gives shows God rejecting those who rejected Him first, and letting their own desires take them over. Christians believe that God gives us strength to overcome temptation, strength that we wouldn’t have on our own (Non-Christians despise the idea of being powerless). God doesn’t reject us unless we reject Him first (remember, we haven’t even started talking about Jesus yet), but when He rejects us, we are cut off from the power that allows us to have control over our desires.

(“But if we don’t have the power to overcome sin by ourselves, why would God require us to? How could He hold us accountable to something we can’t do?” I believe that this question is answered with this post.)

 

But the action is a choice. Always.

 

To those who say “homosexuality is not a choice” and say that in order to say “we/they don’t have any control over it!”, this next part is intended to debunk that idea. Remember where I am coming from…experiencing the temptation is not right or wrong, however, if my previous posts are right (if God is real, if He is truthful and right, if the Bible is actually His word), then the homosexual action (which is a choice) is wrong.

If someone believes that this is justified because it is not a choice, then I believe it would be very hard to be consistent across the board. I believe that in this debate, heterosexuals and homosexuals need to play by the same rules. If a homosexual gets to say “it’s not a choice, I didn’t choose to be this way” in order to justify their actions, then I have to ask…does a married man who finds himself attracted to someone who isn’t his wife get to say “it’s not a choice, I didn’t choose to be attracted to her, therefore I can’t be held accountable to my actions!” If an adult man finds himself attracted to a 15 year old girl (please don’t freak out, ladies, but men do not outgrow attraction to young ladies. It’s not like a bad guy is attracted to a teenage girl and a good guy isn’t. More like a bad guy lets his attraction lead him into bad decisions, and a good guy realizes his attraction, and chooses to focus on something else), can he say “I didn’t choose to be attracted to her, therefore I cannot be held accountable to my actions!”

 

No. If the “it’s not a choice” card is pulled, then I must counter with this…whatever rules you play by, you have to let everybody play by those same rules. If “it’s not a choice that I’m attracted to the same sex” is true and justifies the action, then in order to be consistent, you have to justify cheating on somebody you made a commitment to, because you didn’t choose to be attracted to them.

 

Again, it’s my hope that we all can agree on this: The temptation, the inclination, the desire is not a choice. But the action is.

 

So if somebody says “homosexuality isn’t wrong because it’s not a choice!”, then I believe that it’s too difficult to be consistent. They’ll need to find another reason that it’s okay.

 

(We’ll uncover that reason later…my theory is that it has to do with how highly they place the value of “freedom.” For now, remember that the only reason I believe that homosexuality is wrong is because it hinders the worship of God that is supposed to happen via male/female sexual relations within the marriage relationship as designed by God.)

 

Coming next…where to from here? If homosexuality is wrong, how should Bible-believing Christians respond?

Partners in the Kingdom

This blog post starts out with the world inside the mind of “Mr. Clews” the taekwondo instructor.

 

As I have mentioned in the about me section…if you want to understand me, you must first understand that I am a Christian. In the past sold unto slavery to sin, I have been redeemed by the blood of Christ…purchased despite how much value I would actually bring (Imagine paying two thousand dollars for a crappy computer that doesn’t do what you want it to). Because of this, I want to attempt to be valuable for the kingdom, despite my brokenness. Yet that “brokenness” seems to be what God finds pleasure in working with, so I will do that with gladness. I will serve Him, somehow. My humanity, my imperfections, my weaknesses often get in the way…but let me do my best. As I think of my crappy computer metaphor…he purchased me for way more than I was worth…let me at least run at 2 gigahertz instead of 1.

 

But that’s a side tangent. I remember struggling with the question of “How do I actually serve God at work, while teaching taekwondo?” I got my Bible degree…so I always feel eager to share the little bit I know about the Greek or the Hebrew (I have only one year of each under my belt but gosh crappit, I will show you what I learned in one year!). So I would enjoy teaching and preaching in a private context…however, I have concluded that this is not the most effective way for me to serve Christ. In fact…it feels a little bit manipulative. The students and parents did not trust me as an authority as a preacher or teacher or bible scholar or whatever. They trusted me for my authority on Songahm Taekwondo. This doesn’t mean that I never talk about Jesus Christ at work…far from it. This simply means that I do not try to force opportunities.

 

So the mindset that I approach with is this. This is how I serve Jesus at work.

  1. Be the best freakin’ taekwondo instructor I can possibly be.
  2. Don’t work harder if offered a bonus. Work equally hard if it is for my benefit or for the school’s benefit, or for another staff member’s benefit.
  3. Never treat “well-off” families better than poorer families.

 

But what I get pretty excited about is when I get glimpses of students or families being partners in the kingdom. And I’ve gotten to see that several times this last month or so. Parents who have told me that teaching their child to love and serve Jesus Christ is their highest priority. Teenagers that are helping to run Vacation Bible School or going on church camps or mission trips.

 

I can promise that I am not putting on a face at work…I am paid to accomplish a certain task, and therefore integrity requires that I accomplish the task. If someone pays me to teach them taekwondo, and I talk about Jesus instead of teaching, that’s a lack of integrity. But for any of my taekwondo students who serve Jesus Christ in whatever way He calls you to do it, know that I get really, really excited when I hear about it. I like knowing that we’re partners. I like knowing that we’re on the same team.

 

Serve Him always…He could do it Himself, but it fascinates me that He’d rather give us the opportunity to serve Him rather than doing it Himself. And I am thankful for that opportunity to be on His team…and I am thankful that I get to see others take that opportunity as well.