I was reading 1 Corinthians a few mornings ago, and I came to some scary verses.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
And a weird thing happened…
I thought about what it says there.
Of course I’ve thought about it before, but I’ve never found a way to reconcile it in my head.
Because homosexuality and the church is a can of worms I try not to open.
When I work with students on reading comprehension, the first thing we do is cover what the text actually says.
I think it says that men who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The next thing we do is figure out if it’s literal or figurative, and what it means.
I think it’s literal and it means that we are deceived if we believe men who practice homosexuality will inherit the kingdom of God.
My current manuscript deals with homosexuality, which is really terrifying, because I can’t think of a more inflamed wound I could have written about…
and yet, it’s the story I wanted to tell. The one worth telling.
My main character is a kid who believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
But he’s also gay.
Which makes it seem like I’m writing a story about right-winged homophobes versus the gay parade.
And I think that’s one of the problems with the way the world views those scary verses from 1 Corinthians. We read them and think they’re about people condemning people…
and of course there is some of that. I can’t think of any way people try to justify themselves that doesn’t involve a comparison and judgment of others… and homosexuals are a common target.
Yet, the thing I’m up against right now, isn’t a need to feel better about myself by saying that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. And I don’t think Paul wrote those verses out of self-justification – seeing as a ton of his writing is about salvation from grace alone.
The thing I’m up against and the thing my character is up against, and the thing we’re all up against…
is whether our belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is stronger than any sense of self living within.
My sense of self and my character’s and everyone’s eventually comes into conflict with God, because His ways are not our ways nor are His thoughts our thoughts.
For me, the only time this has ever mattered very much is when I had to admit that the Bible says there are certain vessels made for destruction.
I can’t think of a single thing that’s more offensive than that.
But I still believe it’s true.
Because I had to choose between my belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and my sense of self.
I had to face Romans 9
I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy…
Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction…
I think that means God makes some people for destruction. I think it means a ton of other things too, but in their most basic message, I think those verses say that God creates some of us to be destroyed, and that He does no wrong in that.
If I’m honest, I’m not always okay with it saying that.
I talk to myself about predestination and freewill being a paradox.
I talk to myself about mercy and justice existing simultaneously.
But that’s not always enough.
Sometimes, I have to rely on my belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and I have to deny myself.
Because I refuse to deny what the Bible says.
For Weston (he’s my main character), he has to admit that the Bible says men who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God.
And I wish I had the capability of writing a blog post right now that explains why it says that and how it’s okay.
But I don’t.
I’m not knowledgeable or wise enough for that.
All I’ve got is my hatred of falsehood, and it would be incredibly false of me to pretend that it says something other than what it says, regardless of all the affection I hold for vessels that very well may be made for destruction and for the Westons of this world.
I do harbor great affection for them; it just isn’t greater than my affection for my Creator.