Ron is good about writing to the newspapers. I have done so a couple times and am committed to doing so more regularly. Here is a piece I wrote back in November, 2009. It was printed and there was no editorial follow-up from anyone. There were a few in the community (besides members of the church) who spoke favorably of it. Randal had an opportunity to read it recently and encouraged me to post it on TFR. Here goes…
I am writing in regards to Ms. Janeen Burkholder’s commentary from Tuesday’s edition (Nov. 10th) in which she wrote about her son, the Laramie Project, Matthew Shepard, Fred Phelps, homosexuality, and her understanding of God.
There is much I would like to express regarding the above topics, but spatial restrictions require brevity.
All of my comments are predicated upon the belief that there is one true God and that He has communicated His expectations for mankind via the Bible. As our Creator, He has the privilege of telling us how to live; He defines what is right and what is wrong. God has given us free will, but all humans will one day be held accountable for their actions.
God expects His followers to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Although Fred Phelps does communicate some things that are true, the manner is which he does so is not loving or helpful. I am a firm believer that homosexuality is wrong. Why? Because I hate homosexuals? No. Homosexuality is wrong simply because God has condemned the behavior (e.g., Lev. 18:22; I Cor. 6:9-11). The same could be said for those involved in premarital sex or extramarital affairs. God’s desire is that all who are sexually immoral would repent and seek to do His will and be saved. Those who commit acts of fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are lost unless they change. That is what the New Testament teaches, and I believe God’s word.
The murder of Matthew Shepard was a tragedy, as is the murder of anyone. Those who committed the heinous acts against Mr. Shepard behaved immorally. Let it be noted, however, that God did not create them as murderers. They chose to become such, despite the risk of being ostracized socially and imprisoned (or even executed in certain states). Perhaps their upbringing encouraged them to be violent and they were nurtured to hate. Nevertheless, such is not an excuse for what they did. We expect people to control themselves and not take the life of another—no matter how much they are oriented toward violence or how strongly they desire to murder. Likewise with Mr. Shepard. God did not create him as a homosexual. He chose to become such and was certainly influenced in that direction by his experiences. Despite these inclinations, however, Mr. Shepard should have controlled himself and avoided immoral behavior. We expect those who are inclined to steal to control themselves and deny their illicit desire. We expect those who are inclined toward murder to control themselves and pursue the way of love. God says these behaviors are wrong, just like sexual immorality. I do not deny that some may have sexual feelings toward those of the same gender, but since God says this behavior is wrong it must not be pursued.
God does not make people thieves, murderers, homosexuals, adulterers, drunkards, child molesters, etc. Certain sins tempt some people in ways they may not tempt others, but ultimately people chose to behave in these immoral ways. But, there is a better way—the Lord’s way, as the New Testament explains for us today. Some in the first century who were enslaved to these wicked behaviors were saved through faith, repentance, and baptism in the name of Jesus (cf. I Cor. 6:9-11; Acts 2:37,38). Their sins were washed away and they had a fresh start. Such is still possible today in the twenty-first century.
It would be my pleasure to respectfully discuss any of the above matters in greater depth with any interested party. There is an abundance of evidence for the matters touched on above that simply cannot be squeezed into an editorial.
Stephen R. Bradd
Preacher for the Clinton Church of Christ