City Harvest Church – the largest Charismatic evangelical church in Singapore, recently conducted a series a very strong messages concerning the 10 commandments and the need for Christians to follow this commandments. Even in the Gay Christian community, many subscribe to this teaching. This issue was actually settled 1950 years ago in Jerusalem when the decision was made that the Christian community need not abide by the Torah Law which includes the 10 commandments. But the church have since drifted into apostasy over two thousand years and praise the lord in the last 10 years there came a return to the core central message of Grace in the bible.
In AD 50, the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) was held in Jerusalem. The council was convened as the result of the cleavage within the early Christian community between those who believed the church must observe the rules of traditional Judaism and those, such as the Apostles Paul, who believed there was no such necessity. The council resolved that most Jewish law, including the requirement forcircumsicion, was not obligatory for gentile followers. The Council of Jerusalem was a major turning point in Christendom bacause it sets the stage for a revival into Europe and Asia minor. But the decision of the council and the supremacy of Grace over law, of Jesus over Moses, was largely forgotten until recently.
For Gay Christian, this is not just an issue between the two pillars of Christian church in Singapore but an issue Gay Christians will need to address and be in the right camp. The law will ultimately bring condemnation upon them as Gays, whilst in the Grace of God they are able to accept and embrace their Gay identity as a blessing and to live and experience God. To Gays, there is not much of a choice to choose which side. God did not remove the torn from Paul, but he said that His grace is sufficient. So in order to truly embrace ourselves as gays, we must embrace the Grace of God.
Paul was never married and in many ways he was a picture of a Christian Gay. Growing up in self denial, perhaps he plunged and totally dedicated himself to the study and adherence of the Jew law, as a Pharisee. Similarly many Gay Christians grew up in shock and horror that they are Gays, they tried hard to change and in the process they came to embrace strong fundamentalist and zealous form of Christianity. For Paul, his zeal to persecute Christians in order to honor God ultimately led him to know God. It was a 180 degree change in the road of Damascus when he realized that all his good and godly intentions were opposite to the truth. Our message today is set at a stage 14 years later possibly during Paul's 3 rd missionary trip where Paul talked for the first time about the torn in his flesh. Could Paul be talking about his gayness?. Let’s go to 2 Cor 12.
In 2 Cor 12:1-3, Paul is saying that he can boast if he wanted to of the many visions and revelations that he had of Jesus, but it would not be profitable to us. He reminded them of the incident that happened 14 years ago, where Paul (then Saul) was caught up whether physically or in Spirit to heaven and heard revelation from the resurrected Jesus himself. Paul saw God face to face which was not permitted under the Torah law. (2 Cor 12:4) For Paul, it would be so easy for him to boast about such incidents and the many revelations of God thereafter but that would be foolish even though what he would say will be totally factual.
In 2 Cor 12:7,8, Paul said that he could have been so proud and arrogant to boast of the many visions and revelations that he received, but he had been humbled by the weakness that he constantly had. He was constantly aware of this weakness for it was like a torn at his side, the legalistic word of condemnation from the Law on this weakness that Satan constantly reminded him. Therefore, Paul sought God on numerous occasions that this weakness may leave him. But God’s did not that the weakness away. Instead, God’s answer was that
"My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for My [God’s] strength is made perfect in weakness."
The reply from God in 2 Cor 12:9 was that His grace totally undeserving was all that was needed. God will use what Paul considered a weakness to be an area of strength, the avenue for God to do a complete work in Paul’s life. When we are self exalting with a very high opinion of ourselves and standing before God, God cannot use us effectively. We will minister from a foundation of our strength, our capabilities, experience, and intellect. But when we are humbled, we will come to the point of Grace when we realized our limitations that we need God, we need His grace and mercy, His strength to succeed. In that way the strength of God, the work of God through us will be much more effective hence perfected being totally filled by the presence and power of God. Therefore Paul will rather boast out of a position of humility such that the work of God, and not Paul’s, with the demonstration of power will be effective in his life giving all glory and honor to God. Therefore, in 2 Cor 2:10, when Paul was weak then he became strong because it was no longer His strength but God’s.
Paul never did mention his exact weakness. We know that it was a torn, one of the laws and regulations pertaining to it from the torah that Paul would be keenly aware of. The laws of the Torah pertains to outward actions, for example, lying, murder, not keeping Sabbath, worshiping idols, and stealing. With Paul’s strong discipline and self control, this was no problem. Even if Paul was a Gay, he was still not breaking the laws of Lev 20:13 as long as he remains celibate which he did. So being Gay itself is not a sin under the Torah. But sex between men is a sin as the interpretation is literal with no respect to the context or reasons. Therefore many Christian Church such as the Anglican Church comes to a position of requiring celibacy for Gays especially for their clergy.
But Jesus interpreted the Torah not literally but the intentions and desires of the heart. According to Jesus, it is sin already when the desire is born in our hearts. This is far more stringent requirement than that of the Law, i.e., if you hate someone, you are guilty of breaking the law of murder!. Christians who insists that we need to follow the 10 commandments missed the entire centrality of Jesus message, that sin is a matter of the heart and as such all have sinned against the law and fall short of the glory of God. By this very broad definition, every Christian can be said to be living in a lifestyle of sin. When we appreciated the impossibility of following the law, we come to appreciate what Jesus did at the cross to fulfill it. If we still as Christians are so adamant that today after 2000 years of the cross, we still need to follow the law, then we do not honor the cross, we show utter disregard and disrespect of Jesus death at the cross to fulfill its requirements that we need not be condemned by the law and need not fulfill it ourselves because it is simply impossible. To still insist despite the cross, would display even a greater degree of self righteousness than the Pharisees. It just takes one occasion to break the law, and you will have broken all the law. Only one strike and you are out. You have sinned.
If Paul was a Gay, he would be ‘clean’ under the Torah, as he would be able to physically refrained himself from a sexual relationship. But if sin as defined by Jesus broad and sweeping definition, then Paul would have sinned. I.e. you need not have sex with men to have sinned but just to be attracted to men you have actually broken the law. I.e. all Gays are sinners. Paul knew that as long he has the desire for guys, he can be considered as living in sin notwitstanding Jesus death to fulfill the requirements of the law.
As Christians though, Paul would have understood that because of God’s love that even when we sin, God still loved us, and does not impute upon us the sin, would result in a natural inward change in our hearts not to sin but to seek after God. I.e. the laws are now written in our hearts. We do not sin because we do not have any desire in our hearts to sin, not that we do not act it out. But Paul never had victory over his desire of men. Hence this was constant torn in his side, a torn from the Torah laws that Satan could constantly used to remind him to hinder his ministry.
Paul must have begged God to take this Gay desire of men away from him. He was in ministry, yet he was by his own account living under sin. But how could God take away what God created him as. Paul was a Gay not because he chose to, but because God created him as such. And God’s reply was that His Grace was sufficient for him. Why?
The amount and the depth and measure of Grace given to Paul was so great that it overflowed into his ministry and he wrote almost the entirety of the New Testament and became one of the greatest apostle and the apostle of grace to the gentiles that God considered them not because they deserved it as they are not part of God’s people but that God loved them so much.
Even if God could, he did not take away Paul’s gayness, because being gay is such a humbling experience. You would have the lowest standing in the community, despised and rejected, an outcast, and a minority. It is when we reach this point of Grace that we can be used mightily because we realized our weakness and we depend on God’s grace. If we think that we are deserving then it is self and not of God. But when we are weak then we are strong.
Paul's ministry in Damascus started in AD 37 where he met Jesus the resurrected Lord on the way to Damascus. He reached Rome in AD 61 (24 years later). He preached the Gosepl until AD 68. He wrote 14 books in the new testament out of 27 books. His last book was 2 Timothy. His final word to the church was:-
Paul walked every day of his life until the end of his life keenly aware that he is a Gay and having to depend on the abundant measure of God's Grace.
Father God, I pray that you will raise up many Pauls in the Gay Christian community in Singapore who will embrace their gayness and depend solely on your Grace. Paul understood that there is one Gospel and that is the Gospel of Grace. Therefore today, Father God, bless your church in Singapore. Bless the Gay Christian community. Let your glory goes forth in their midst. Sent them revival, revival to know your grace and not to live in the condemnation of the Law. Set them free father God to know your Grace just as Paul was set free in AD 63 to preach your gospel in Rome, may we be set free to be your ambassadors in Asia. We are weak father God. We have nothing to offer. The rest of the community speaks ill will of us and we dare not show our face. But today Father God, we raise our hands towards heaven, and bring Jesus your son, his death and resurrection, that through your son Jesus and not by our strenght, we will find favor and blessings by your grace. Sent your revival O Lord to Gays in Singapore. We need you Lord. We need you Lord more than ever.
Thus saith the Lord, Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentile Gays, and they will hear it and they will accept it. No longer shall they say I am a dry tree. For they will have a new family, where they will not be despise nor condemned. I the Lord am the Alpha and Omega. My Grace shall be sufficient for you to the very end. You shall be a blessing not only in Singapore but to the ends of the World because you have known me and my love for you is everlasting.
Grace be with you