The way we interpret the issue of ethics can only be undertaken in the Light of Word of God, who being the eternal God with the Father, becoming flesh is now dwelling amongst us. It is the Eternal God joining and uniting Himself with the fallen human race and making Himself ‘One” with us. We must not take the narrow view of focussing on the Passion and the events immediately surrounding it. We end up with theology that is grossly truncated and a tendency to be full of legalism far from the context of the true nature of the whole of the life of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is the impassible God who dressed Himself in passible human flesh and allowed Himself to experience the true nature of humanities passions, sufferings and then death. The resurrection speaks far more about what happened in the period leading up to the Cross. What is so startling is the way the True God who is the One who created all things and the One in whom all things consist came to have intimate fellowship with His creatures. He did this not by just appearing out of the blue in a blaze of fire, thunder in razzle and dazzle. He was born of a woman and placed Himself in the hands of a very young girl by modern standards. He went through youth, into adolescence and then into adulthood. Even through these periods in His life, there was a gradual turning of the entire human race back towards God in the growth and development into adulthood of Jesus Christ. Even in His infancy, Athanasius would say that Jesus Christ held all creation underfoot. The atonement is not an event that is centred around the Passion. It is the wholeness of His humanity from birth, His life, His death and resurrection as well as His ascension.
Ethics is to be understood in the manner in which Jesus Christ engaged with the people He came into contact with. He came with His own power to forgive sins. He partied with the prostitutes, tax collectors and all manner of people who were considered unclean by the establishment. Time and time again, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, Saduccees and the Teachers of the Law. How He acted towards the reprobates and outcasts of society is an example of how God behaves towards people without any partiality. In fact, the way Jesus behaved was considered immoral by the establishment and was eventually used against Him at His trial.
Throughout human history there was an eclipse over the truth of God that was blocking out the true nature of who He was. As with an eclipse of the sun by the moon, there is some light shining through but not enough to see our way clearly into the being of God. In the Incarnation, the Word of God, Jesus Christ, gradually pushed the eclipse and allowed the true Light of God to appear in Himself. Even when this Light was fully disclosed, His very own people failed to recognise Him. The True nature of the Light of Jesus Christ sent a huge short circuit throughout the Jewish establishment. So unique and so unusual was the manifestation of the Light of Jesus Christ, they hated the Light and preferred the darkness. The Light of Jesus Christ exposes everything. However, this Light came with the hand of friendship and endeavoured to show that the Triune God was a Lover of humanity, so much so, that He gave Himself into their hands so they could have their way with Him.
In this country we are in the middle of a marriage equality debate. It is an issue that is very personal to me because my daughter is gay. It has forced me to look long and very hard about how I feel this issue should be handled in the true Light of Jesus Christ. Since my daughter courageously disclosed to us she is gay, I have been involved in her community in such a way that I had never thought possible only 10 years ago. Surprisingly, I have not weakened my position on the gospel. In fact, I believe my position is all the more strengthened. The more clearly I see the Light, the more ridiculous I find the moral arguments that are raging in this marriage equality debate. It is a postal vote and my vote has been cast and return posted.
Some of you might be asking how I cast my vote. I will not disclose how I voted because I do not want to lead anyone into sin. Here is why. We know the Scripture, “All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.” This means we are all in the same boat. All are sinners and are trapped in the legal structure of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is this Tree that has been cut down at the root and is now replaced by the Tree of Life. Now this Tree of Life is not a new set of morally established rules. This Tree of Life is a Person, Jesus Christ. The Incarnation means the Tree of Life steps into the boat of all who have fallen short of the glory of God and dwells in us. It means humanity has been recast in the image of God in Jesus Christ. Let’s just say for arguments sake there is someone who opposes marriage equality is sitting in the boat with me and Jesus Christ. The Tree of Life says to both of us, “Your sin is forgiven, trust Me.” If I say I voted, “Yes,” then the person who opposes me will judge that what I did is bad and therefore wrong. The Tree of Life says, “Your sin is forgiven, trust Me” to both of us. If the person who opposes me tries to appeal to Jesus Christ, then He will say, “Your sin is forgiven, trust Me.” There is no other Tree (of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) from which to judge me on how I vote and therefore there is nothing to justify such judgment. To judge me because I voted yes is to turn away from Jesus Christ, deem Him not worthy to be trusted, and to place one’s trust in a Tree (of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) that does not even exist.
Now if I voted, “No,” then the person who opposes marriage equality might deem that what I have done is right and good. The Tree of Life says, “Your sin is forgiven, trust Me.” The person who opposes marriage equality turns to Jesus Christ for affirmation of their judgment. Tree of Life says, “Your sin is forgiven, trust Me.” To reach the conclusion that what I have done is good and right is to turn away from Jesus Christ, deem Him not worthy to be trusted and to place one’s trust in a Tree (of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) that does not even exist. All I can say to either party is, “Forgive them Father for they do not understand what they are doing.” I can be silent on this issue because the only one I am answerable to is Jesus Christ. At the same time, I am fully aware that in my own marriage I commit adultery almost every day. My wife commits adultery almost everyday. I see a gorgeous woman and I cannot help but react that might be considered inappropriate according to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. My wife sees a fireman in a singlet in our local shopping centre selling calendars for charity and reacts to their physical appearance. While she says her ovaries are jiggled, I likewise say that something else is being jiggled. We laugh about this all the time. We are both so weak and we put the sanctity of marriage severely into disrepute. At least we are honest about it and that is why our relationship is strong.
I heard a story of a woman who had been in a severely abusive marriage for many years. Such was the internal pressure to stay in the marriage by her Christian upbringing that she felt that her vows to God had to be kept no matter the cost to her and her children. Finally, her husband had an affair and she felt she had the legal means of escaping her horrific situation. She and her children paid a huge cost for hanging onto the sanctity of marriage. Multiply this story many times over and here we have a cancerous, insidious and repulsive situation happening in many families all over our country. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in marriage. But it is an ideal. In this debate, the issue of marriage has become an idol and for many many people it is a terrible one indeed!
I have worked for the child protection system for 16 years and I have seen and heard the terrible physical and sexual abuses at the hands of traditional marriages perpetrated against children by parents of traditional marriages. In many cases, it is the woman and the children who are the victims. Yet, generally speaking, the Christian community often get high and mighty about the issue of anything ‘same sex.’ There are many gay couples who are also foster parents. Not to say that it has never happened, but I have never heard of any children suffering abuse of any sort at the hands of gay couples within and outside the foster care system. Their passion for the welfare of children is as great as ours. Yet, we look at cases in traditional family networks and the figures are frighteningly horrific and we are easily complacent.
However, it has been pointed out that homosexuality has not even made it to the top ten commandments! We can be so strong on opposing the homosexual sin but so light on anything to to do with the Ten Commandments. We condone most other sins and allow it gloss over us but as soon as any issue to do with the LGBTI ect community is raised, there is outrageous outcry. We turn a blind eye to the many victims in our society but we victimise this community. Jesus Christ is ALWAYS on the side of the victim. We are quick to turn away from the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ, and lead people to death by our turning to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and demanding the gay community to abide by it. In a nutshell, we reject the gospel and embrace the Law! We reject the freedom offered to us in Jesus Christ and to ALL our fellow human beings and embrace bondage to the Law. On this issue, the loudest protest within in the Church are the blind leading the blind.
If we are not to carry on the way we are, what is it that we do? If we accept that if there is no hope for the gay community then there is no hope for us. I have found many Christians are so easily prepared to stand on a moral platform and point out the faults of those within and outside their community but recoil at the opportunity to preach the gospel. When we cling to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil then we are blinded to the Tree of Life and find it extraordinarily difficult to preach the gospel, which points to the Tree of Life, Jesus Christ. Life is not followed by death and you cannot begin with death and then try to introduce life. To preach the gospel is to preach the love of God that is seated within our hearts and within the hearts of the LGBTQI community. It is to begin with the Author of Life, Jesus Christ and let them know the Philanthropic love of God towards them. What happens in most cases is we want to preach life according to the Rule of Faith, which is the union of humanity in Jesus Christ with the Father on the narrow road of life, then we fall back on the law of faith and try to use the Law and lead them back down the wide road of death. The old gospel will train us to preach death and then introduce life. Even though we understand union with Christ, there is a tendency to preach life and then introduce death.
Jesus Christ went amongst sinners and showed His allegiance to them by eating and fellowshipping with them. He blatantly showed the establishment that He had the power to forgive sins by forgiving sins, and thereby showing all that He was indeed God among them. Those who were blinded by the Tree of Life of Life were outraged. This is how we tell from which Tree Christian draw from. If I say, “According to the Tree of Life, the sins of the LGBTQI community are forgiven and God does not condemn them in the past, present and into the future,” as soon as anyone says, “But!” there is a turning away from the Tree of Life, and the free gift of grace that goes with it, and they have climbed back up the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and are preaching death.
When it comes to moral issues and we decide to engage in ethical activities, then we have forsaken our Christian duty. Our Christian duty falls into the New Commandment, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Our Christian duty is to love like we are loved. Does this mean we condone sin? Well, God has forgiven our sin paying a huge cost and placed His very Being at stake for our sake. Thus in Jesus Christ the sin of the world has indeed been taken away. We do not concern ourselves with the way people are behaving as to whether or not they meet our moral high bar. Rather, we preach the Gospel to them, the good news of Jesus Christ. We preach Christ in us, Christ in them and then let Christ teach them by the Spirit of Christ within them. Let them know the Good News first.
Let us imagine we are in that very same place where the sinner and the Pharisee in the temple where we intend to pray. This time we have a Christian and a transvestite. The Christian calls out to Jesus and declares, “I go to church every Sunday, read my Bible, attend Bible study, pay my tithes and confess my sins everyday. I thank you Jesus and to show my love, I am not like all the other people who sin against you like that transvestite over there.” Now the transvestite had tears running down their face unable to look to heaven and says, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” The divide and contention that is created by the many Christian and denomination have the very same attitude as the Pharisee in this story in Luke 18. If this was a real life scenario, who would go home justified? I believe the parable fits so we should listen.
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World John 1.29 – This is life, the Tree of Life.
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws into their minds,
And I will write them on their hearts.
And I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.
“And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen,
And everyone his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
For all will know Me,
From the least to the greatest of them.
“For I will be merciful to their iniquities,
And I will remember their sins no more.” – This is life, the Tree of Life.
If you are reading this and are saying, “But . . . . . . ” then you have turned from the Tree of Life and are clinging to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.