Ashley Madison and Christians

For me this event is very interesting. Hacking isn’t a good thing, but God uses the bad for the better. We think of Romans as nasty people, and surely they were but without them we wouldn’t have roads, sewage and draining systems, education etc. Also someone could die a horrible death but their organs can be donated to help someone else. And I believe a similar thing has happened here with this.
I don’t know if the site will close down because of this or if it will continue to get users, but while ‘hacking’ is very unethical and wrong in our judgement because it is intruding onto another’s property without permission, and also theft of information, but the outcome, in a sense for us Christians, is positive. It’s positive because not only those Christians involved have ‘learnt their lesson’ and the truth has been revealed for those individuals and whoever is affected, but it has also revealed the truth of the site.
Before the scandal I did not know of this site, I had no idea such a thing was ‘available’, but now almost the entire West has been made aware of this site, the intention behind it and negative response which has been had (regret and heartbreak) hopefully this is a good lesson for the rest of us to realise how wrong this is! And how important love is! This is only one sin among many, clearly, but it’s definitely a good start for the secular West. And for us Christians in the West it is good for our knowledge to be aware of the site so that we can be cautious of what people we know can be up to and can help us prevent our brothers and sisters from getting into such a mess.

On the other hand, some of us were or still are very upset about seeing our brethren involved with this scandal. So here are some tips to help you through the aftermath of this event:

  1. Forgive and Forget
    Literally, (to be blunt) get over it. The main thing of this event was to target people and the wrong that they’ve done. It’s already been done (and possibly more names to be revealed). We don’t have to re-target fellow Christians of their sin, it’s been done. It was done when they came to Christ and now this recent event is a wake up call to them. I understand your pain and anger for their betrayal not only to God and their partners, but to the church, but the last thing we need to do is to keep these people in the spotlight. Much like my opinion towards the Duggard family right now, the church has been commanded to build each other up (1 The 5:11; Rom 14:19), keeping these people in the spotlight will not benefit them, it will only impact their spiritual growth negatively. They need time out of the limelight and a quiet, peaceful time to discuss these things with God.
  2. Encourage
    Encouraging someone requires love. Whether you’re having difficulty encouraging someone close or just even a stranger half-way across the globe here is a break down of possible ways you can check how you are treating someone, and representing God’s love.
  • Words of Affirmation – speak to the person and let them know that they are loved, that you are glad they are in your life, thank them etc. The opposite of this is either not speaking, or speaking but not with love. If we are not speaking with love we are demeaning someone and their image in God, and believe me I am just as guilty for this as anyone. Even when times are tough we must speak with concern but also with love.
  • Acts of Service – Some people view service as a big part of love (God and the church definitely does). In regards to this scandal we can offer our practical gifts to actually help the exposed in their growth. Are you a counsellor, teacher, leader or pastor? Maybe you could offer your service by giving them one or two free sessions to plan where they need to go from here. Or are you good at socialising? If everyone else is avoiding them, maybe you should be the one to step up and make them dinner one night. This leads into the next topic…
  • Receiving Gifts – Gifts are encouraging to receive and represent your kindness and thoughtfulness. You could invite someone over for dinner, or you could give them a card saying ‘I forgive you’ or a little note that quotes the lyrics of MercyMe’s New Lease On Life ‘You’re free indeed, you’re dead no more, and at your worst you’re still adored’
  • Quality Time – Sometimes people just need your time and your company. A couple of my closest friends are much like that. I could be making up some fancy Biblical lecture in my head I could give them for the particular situation they just went through, but the reality is, all they need is just my moral support of just spending time with them and not trying to force any new knowledge on them. Knowing His Grace, they probably already are learning about what they did wrong and how to prevent it in future, that’s not our job. Just give them your time and undivided attention – like Christ has given and continue to gives us #bestfriends
  • Physical Touch – This is not ‘ooh la la’ touch, this is rubbing someone on the back for comfort, this is hugging someone when you greet them, for family members kissing and longer hugging. Some people just respond better to physical bond with someone rather than just hearing someone speak all the time. [For married couples, this language does go into the more romantic and sexual aspects of physical touch, but I think even for the case at hand, after learning about one’s spouse cheating, something like intercourse I would not encourage because it may just spark confusion instead, and we’re not here to make our spiritual growth worse!]

    [What I’ve mentioned here are classified as the ‘5 Love Languages’. There are books available on them in greater detail.]

3. Live Clean and Repent Quickly
Like every preacher says, no one is perfect, and all have fallen short of the glory of God. >Insert Gospel here, yet to those who believe, receive the salvation and die with Jesus on the cross.< We were renewed when we first believed, at baptism and are constantly being worked on and renewed every day, if you allow yourself to be. We are not slaves to sin but Satan still creeps around the corner. It’s still fairly easy for us Christian to fall back into sinful habits whether it’s constant or a ‘one-off’. A big reminder to all Christians is that we have to strive to living the purist we can be, not just sexually but in other parts of life. And there’s no use in trying to hide your sinful self away because you know God sees everything 😉 What you do or don’t do, it doesn’t make it less effective if you hide it. All of us ‘play up’ every now and again and all of us are being worked on. Do not jump to conclusions on others. Be angry and do not sin. Be concerned and give that issue to the Lord. Look at yourself whilst looking unto the Lord. Ask for His cleansing and ask that He blesses other brethren with a sound mind and cleansing too.

4. Repeat (Until you meet your Maker)
Whether it’s adultery, fornication, thieving, killing, lying, disobeying etc. God has forgiven them, and we should forgive them also! Blessed are those who have faith and have not seen! Faith is the core of our love brethren! Remember the images we were created in, remember the love of Christ and how far that can take us. Our God is a Lord of second chances.

Other articles that discuss this Ashley Madison situation:
http://todaychristian.net/5-lessons-from-the-hacking-of-an-adultery-website/
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/ashley.madison.why.im.not.cheering.the.adultery.website.hack/62425.htm

Let us use this time wisely to forgive, help and encourage our brethren onto a purer path.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil;  does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;  bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

‘But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience… Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.’ ~ Romans 8:25; Romans 12:12

 

Homosexual Romance?

This post derives from a response I gave to anonymous user who asked me a question on Tumblr.
The question asked if two people of the same sex could have a romantic relationship even though they are not involved in sexual relations and if it was sinful. I admit this particular topic is difficult for me to discuss but in short I concluded that this sort of relationship should not be encouraged even if it is not sexual, because where might that romance lead? Having (sexual) relations of the same sex is sinning. I suggest that however though, affectionate friendships can exist, but it is in no way romance.

Firstly, sexual desire is not sinful (after all we are passionate beings and designed to produce families) , only when those desires are put into action before having a spouse is it a sin. What is an action? The definition is:

“the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.”

So an action in any sense is something that will lead you into something else, which includes anyone’s current actions. Where would someone go with this romance? What could it lead into?

The Bible makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:10-11, Leviticus 20:13 ), but what about romance?

“Asexuality” as the modern world calls it, or celibacy is not a bad thing. Some may argue that they are different and I understand but if you are an ‘asexual’ Christian, you would be practicing celibacy anyway because you are not sexually, thus not romantically interested in someone. What is the point of romance if you’re not going to let it lead into something else?

What about being affectionate to someone of the same sex? That is fine. That can be defined as a brotherly love (in Greek is Philia (φιλία philía)), which all brethren are encouraged to do, which is actually easier said than done, especially if you have romantic feelings, because it can distract you from the pure commandment that has been given. In my own past have been accused of lesbianism because of affection that I showed to my girl friends even though I did not have any romantic desire let alone sexual desire for them. Affection is not a bad thing between good friends.

Going back to the romance. I didn’t know the user who asked the question so I had to make some assumptions as to how one would define romance. If you define romance by that the extent of your relationship is kissing (on the lips) and holding each other for pro-longed amounts of time, that is the start of a sexual relationship. Those actions get the hormones racing and consequently travels throughout your body resulting in other passionate and sexual desires (Eros (ἔρως érōs)). Symptoms of this can be tingling in the arms or legs, heart pounding, blushing and erections. Also simply kissing and holding each other in such a fashion is allowing the bodies to share each other, which we know is only a privilege for those in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-40 ) (things like hugging are excluded).

For some people struggling with same sex attraction though, this may not be the case. I’m going to go back to celibacy now.
What do we understand about celibacy? To be celibate means to not have a desire to be with someone else. You are pursuing a life that is the single life. You do not want to commit to someone else. I ask again, what is the purpose for a romantic relationship if these actions will not subsequently lead into something more? Even if you don’t want to be sexual, the fact you are in a relationship does not make you celibate because the relationship you are pursuing is one that should lead to marriage.

For the most important part, God’s plan and intentions for us. What has God shared with us so that we may follow His plan? Are we doing our best to follow the commandments and expectations God has given us? Would someone in this situation be making the right choice?
Where are they going with this romance? What is it leading them into?

I interpret this situation that even despite no sexual relations it could very well distract someone deeply into sin/s.
If you are not going marry, then what is the purpose of the romance?
Remember affectionate friendships can exist.

Looking at this situation, I do not encourage it. I do not mean to blaspheme here, but if God does not encourage homosexual relations, He would not encourage homosexual romance – because it would lead to nowhere and can be of distraction.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. – Jeremiah 29:11-14

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.1 Corinthians 10:13

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.James 1:12-16

And give no opportunity to the devilEphesians 4:27

I hope that whoever is reading this finds it useful. It may not be practicing homosexuality as such, but it is encouraging that kind of lifestyle. God knows that we are not perfect so do not be anxious if fighting this or anything else takes time. He understands our suffering and that’s why He gave Himself in human form.

Another user later made some arguments, to quote:

Celibacy is the choice not to have sex with anyone because you don’t want to, not because you aren’t attracted to anyone – it IS a choice… Whether or not the Bible condemns homosexuality, no matter what a religious text claims about who you naturally love or like, you are you, and THAT IS NOT WRONG. Nowhere in the Bible is romantic attraction to anyone, regardless of their gender, a sin. The word “homosexual” in the Bible did not appear until 1946 and is a mistranslation of the word “male bed” from Greek and Hebrew, which don’t even have a word for “homosexual.” …Responses like these are what can lead queer kids to try to become straight and fail because their queerness is natural, hate themselves, and believe that God hates them. If you cannot help bring straight, you cannot help being gay, bi, poly, pan, ace, etc. You are not wrong and you are not disgusting or hated for who you are.

Here is some information on the history of the term homosexual.

We have to realise that not everything “natural” is a good thing or “normal” thing. As humans because of Adam and Eve we are born into sin. Our “natural” self is a sinful nature. God asks us not to sin, but to follow the design which He intended us for.

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” –Psalm 51:5

 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,  in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,  not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:1-10

Also I must re-iterate the point of what the purpose of the romance would be.
Following God or not is the choice here. So as Christians are we gonna take up your cross and follow the footsteps and teachings of Jesus?

Talk to Jesus and rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you in the right direction.

Dear Merciful Lord,
Please help those who are currently in suffering or confusion
May you please give them patience and teach them to understand Your word
Please reveal Your plan to them but by Your will
Helper, move through them to accept Your Way. guide them through these trials and distractions, whether they be big or small
By Your time
By Your will
Which is only Right
Amen Jesus

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. – 1 John 5:4

May the Lord Bless you and keep you.
Soli Deo Gloria.

You’ve Got the Love

Welcome to the first post on this blog. Future accounts will have a less personal approach but today’s blog is inspired by recent events in my life, although from studying what I need to do, I hope others will learn something out of this too.

Last week I lost a friend. And the strange thing is this isn’t the first time this has happened with this person. I’m not going to into great personal detail, but I don’t want you also thinking the other party is a terrible person. We both played roles in the lead up to this and in the end there was confusion and lying, I lost my temper and they removed contact from me. The bottom line is, the relationship has been lost and hurts to deal with.

I am quite older than I was when this happened the first time, also my knowledge in Christ is much deeper therefore my approach is not going to be similar to that of the past. I need to find a way to get over this hurt and confusion but to do it in a way that leads me back to Christ. Inspired by a post here http://simplyheavenlyfood.tumblr.com/post/23155767773/if-love-never-fails-does-that-mean-isnt-possible I need to understand what love is, how it was used, how it was abused or even if it was there at all?
My next step is to understand and apply forgiveness; why should I forgive, am I forgiven, how do we carry out that action. This then relates back to what we’re doing for Christ in our actions. Is it possible to make amends? Do I have fellowship? And lastly where am I going to go with this experience.

First Corinthians 13:4-7 explains

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Already I have my failed my friend (or ex friend) because I selfishly tried to remove myself from the suffering and with my words I was not kind. I was proud (puffed up), I was rude and gave in to a lack of self-control. While I may have been speaking of true things, it was in an attitude that was not acceptable and by no means loving. After promises I had made as a friend, doing this I became a hypocrite. The love which I had promise, I abused, and in the end I also abused God’s own creation.

So what about the other party? Were they acting in a loving manner? I pray that they are too learning from this experience and the main reason behind my irrational behaviour was because they did not seem loving. I will spare the details but it is only fair to say we both had done wrongs here. But despite the dishonesty (and whatever lacking virtue) I should have remained gracious and gave rather than take and abuse. What else is love? Well we know God is love (1 John 4:8) and what is the greatest act He did for us? He died to forgive our sins. So in forgiveness we also show and give love.
I have forgiven my friend. Has my friend forgiven me? I am not sure, but even so, it doesn’t matter, because Christ has already given me forgiveness and a gift from God triumphs anything that any other human can provide. I may not be on good terms with them right now but even if I don’t receive graciousness from them, I still have God to cling to. In the link above it also discusses whether the love you have for someone is temporary (infatuation or selfishness) or is actual love (maybe even unconditional love). During my breakup I was not showing acts of love, but when the Spirit moved through me days later I realised I do in fact still love this person – and I don’t necessarily mean romantic here but just in a friendship/sisterly way. That even though despite the confusion and hurt I can still see how great this person is and has been to me. For a little extra (not a long read) on forgiveness visit here http://www.simplyheavenlyfood.com/2014/07/word-of-day-july-19-2014.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=tumblr

So usually without a religious perspective when someone has a friendship breakup one of their first ideas is to make amends with someone, which I guess usually just means asking for another chance in order to try to be a better friend, but let’s look at what amends actually means. It means:

               “Compensate or make up for a wrongdoing.”

Let’s back it up a little. Does that mean to make amends we will be partaking in actions in order to earn forgiveness of another or to give something to satisfy them? As Christians can we do that? Well in my perspective you shouldn’t and can’t. Because what’s the first thing we know about forgiveness? It’s a gift! We don’t earn forgiveness, and we can’t win someone else’s heart onto our side. We work through faith. Our actions can help but in the case of forgiveness and faith, they do not work (Ephesians 2:4-10). But you also can’t promise anyone anything good that is 100%. Sometimes I will tell my best friend I love them unconditionally, but only 98% of the time because as a human I am incapable of giving such an abundant gift, only God can. We can’t promise an amends and live up to it 100%, I can’t. So here I start another smaller walk within my large journey with Christ, I take up another challenge that tests my faith. But just because I cannot make it up to them, does not mean I do not encourage fellowship.

As followers of Christ our best friendships should have a strong foundation in fellowship, it helps us not be distracted. That is a basic understanding. This other blog goes into further detail of fellowship and examples from the early church http://redeeminglamb.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/fellowship.html. This step I right now unfortunately cannot complete due to the other party not speaking, but I have experiences from other friendships, where we may not have agreed on things, even doctrinal/spiritual matters but after forgiving we were still able to keep our fellowship. After all it is what we share as a church for the glory of God. Even I, sharing this blog now is a means of fellowship because I am communicating and discussing with you about lessons to learn as a Christian. If you have fellowship and have a God-based relationship rather than an emotional one, there are high chances your friendship will heal and thoroughly. And even though you cannot make great promises you can still show good actions and act lovingly towards each other.

With God, I can get through this storm. Despite the hurt (and even regret that I’m battling with) I can still see ahead. With my faith in God and asking Him to take control of my emotions and put me on the path where He wants me to be, I do not live in fear, despite the lack of my close friend. I am going to take this experience and remember what I learnt, so that Christ shall help me strengthen my self-control and understand how to be gracious towards friends in future. My focus now is to be more like Christ with my actions in regards to love. I’m not perfect but I must do my best, this event has been a wakeup call to me. I definitely had faith, but through conversation and the words I was saying, I was dead. But Christ has made me alive. I may have lost a friend but with Christ I will always have a loving relationship. I must focus my sights on Him.

“My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ.” — Billy Graham

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Soli Deo Gloria.