Saturday, September 22, 2007

I have a question about "tongues"

This time I've got a question for folks reading this. So far I haven't found any good source of information, although I haven't exhausted all possibilities.

The question is: What Biblical support is there for the "prayer language" form of "tongues?"

First, let me tell you what I've heard and don't find adequate.

The biggest support I've heard is found in 1 Corinthians 13:1: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gone or a clanging cymbal." (emphasis mine) The phrase bridges a discourse Paul gives about spiritual gifts, specifically speaking in tongues or unknown languages, and the famous definition of love. The Corinthian church had focused all too heavily on the spiritual gifts (not to mention following the teachings of men), and not enough on Christ.

The problem I have with using this as "proof" of the gift of tongues including a private "prayer language" that does not correspond to any existing language (and, therefore, does not require an interpreter, as seen in 1 Corinthians 12) is that the notion of "tongues of angels" just pops up out of the clear blue, and really isn't supported elsewhere in context. I see this as more of a form of exaggeration, as though Paul is saying, "hey, look. I don't care what you think about speaking in languages you haven't learned. That's not important. Even if somebody were to claim to speak some language direct from Heaven, if that person doesn't have love, it's no good!"

I've also heard all the supposition about the "unknown prayer language" being a sort of "code" between your spirit and the Holy Spirit that allows communication that Satan cannot intercept or interpret. Sorry, but if Satan was one of the highest angels who still has free contact with God (as seen in the book of Job), I cannot see how this is supported by Scripture. Even if Satan does hear our prayers, God is greater and still in charge ... who cares if he hears or not?

Sometimes peole will refer to this "prayer language" as being the "groanings that cannot be uttered" mentioned in Romans 8:26. Sorry, but what I hear referred to as "prayer language" has more sounds than mere groans. Besides, prayer language is uttered, or spoken.

For the record, I do accept the notion of speaking in tongues, and the interpretation thereof. I witnessed one lady doing this, and while I could not interpret, I did recognize a grammatical structure. I also accept the story, published in Guideposts several years ago, about the woman who ministered to a German widow, all the time speaking and hearing German, even though she did not know German, nor realized she was doing it at the time. Although I've studied French, it came to me fairly quickly, and I can still hold my own, even when out of practice (although my vocabulary fails at times ... as I tell people, "je me souviens un peu des mots Français"). I do not accept the notion that one is not saved or has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them unless they "speak in tongues" of either type.

I would appreciate any references folks can supply.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why did God make homosexuals?

One question I've seen in numerous places is "why did God make homosexuals?" The question often presumes that (a) homosexuals are "made" that way, so (b) God must have made them that way, so (c) why does He hold that against them?

It's a legitimate question from that point of view. Let's start with the last one first, or at least some form of it. Does God consider homosexuality a sin? Yes. Nave's Topical Bible lists numerous verses for "Sodomy," which is what "Homosexuality" links to. Obviously one of those verses is Genesis 19:5-8, which deals with Lot in Sodom. The men of the town wanted to come in and "know" (in the proverbial "Biblical sense") Lot's visitors, who were angels sent to get Lot and his family to safety before God destroyed the whole place. Other verses include Leviticus 18:22-23; 20:13, 15-16; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, and many, many more.

So, if God made them that way, then He's not fair, right? Isn't that the whole point of the question?

Consider this: God made each and every one of us the way we are. We are all sinners in one way or another (Romans 3:23). God didn't so much "make us that way" as He made us with the right and responsibility to choose. Like it or not, we are given the ability to choose whether to follow His commands or not; we are also given the responsibility to choose correctly.

Is God being cruel? Give me a break! If God sent His only Son to die for you (John 3:16-18), why do you think he'd be cruel? Because He doesn't let you do what you want? Actually, He does let you do what you want, even if it's the worst, most stupid thing you could do to yourself. He tells us what to do and what not to do to warn us not to do the stuff that would harm us.

That includes homosexual behavior. In one sense it's not that much different from being "straight." It's not best for me or my wife for me to get the hots for another woman, or to follow through with that desire. Why would it be any different if I had the hots for another man, or she for another woman?

We still keep thinking that there are "heavy" sins and "light" sins, sins that aren't quite as bad as another. Consider this: the whole world was cursed with death simply because Adam ate a fruit from a tree he wasn't allowed to. That's it! How much "lighter" is that than murder? Then again, he murdered himself, his family, and every single person ever to live on this accursed planet! His decision was indirectly responsible for the death of Jesus, the Christ! (Don't give old Adam much grief, though; you and I are just as responsible.)

God "made" homosexuals, perverts, murderers, smugglers, lyers, cheats, theives, politicians ... and you and me. All of us have a choice.

So what choice are you going to make? Are you going to choose the wrong way, and keep damaging yourself and people you may never meet? Or are you going to choose God's way, and surrender your life to Christ? Yeah, you may have to give up some stuff, but it's like giving up poison ... it really is a good idea.
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