So a Quaker, an atheist, and an academic take a car ride

Sounds like a set up to a bad joke (and if you know it, share it), but for our purposes today it is the actual circumstances in which I found myself over the weekend when the studio version of this song came on the iPod:

The atheist had heard me playing it on his new audiophilic speakers (Bowers and Wilkins, if you’re keeping score at home), and had declared straight away that “I’d go to church if they played music like this.” Then later, the atheist suggested we share it with the Quaker, who was delivered is descended from the old timey deep south Church of Christers, and with whom we were sharing a car to dinner later that evening.

And so, about halfway into that transporting second verse - when the emotional curve of the song arcs plaintively across that aching line about tasting all the things that sin could think to offer me, and then levitates heavenward to claim the promise of manna from above - about that time, the quaker leaned up from the back between the two front seats, raised her left hand, and said, “I think I feel a little of the speaking in tongues within me.”

Indeed.

It took a while for this song to grow on me listening to it off the album. Partly, I’m sure, it’s because I’d come to know it in the arrangement the Talleys used, most memorably in A Night to Remember (the song, of course, was written by Kirk Talley in the early 1990s). Particularly in this GVB arrangement, the metronomic piano line bugged me at first, and I still can’t abide that treacly children’s choir at the end of the studio recording, which makes the track unnecessarily long and drags the otherwise powerful sentiment of the song down into mawkish sentimentality. So I just stop listening at that point.

Nevertheless, I came back to the song last week after having been away from it since its initial release, and at the moment, I’m finding it difficult to walk away from. Different songs, of course, resonate with people for different reasons, but in this case, for me, I think part of what has drawn me back is some kind of self-recognition that this music, by this writer, arouses in me - some sort of powerful articulation of a dilemma that I suspect almost all closeted Christians have known at one point or another: the feeling that grace seems simultaneously extended to and withheld from you by the people and institutions who claim the cause of Christ.

I listen to this song and recall lo those many years of feeling the pull of what I considered to be sin, a deeply felt tug on the very soul of me just as alluring and haunting and painfully real as the melody and lyrics conspire to render all the things that sin could think to offer. And I remember all the times I looked hard and long and hoped to find the countenance of graciousness resting on the faces of the faithful around me, among those whose community and affection meant everything to me. And most of all, there were all those long long seasons of wanting to be able to experience what this song achieves so gloriously and gracefully: to summon the presence of a life-changing redemption and self-transforming salvation by naming it with incantatory clarity: he is here, hallelujah, he is here, amen. … He is here, you can touch him, you will never be the same.

Well, in any event, I’m certainly not the same person I was when I first heard that song (and perhaps, neither is Kirk Talley), and it remains one of the abiding good fortunes of my life that gospel music continues to speak across the vast distance that separates me-now from me-then - the Southern Baptist sissy who seemed to sense an awesome moving of the holy spirit right along with this song. To hear it reimagined now in the voice of Wes Hampton, in the mind of the great Gaither machine, it’s almost as if the song has been carefully recalibrated to the changed circumstances of life now vs then, without losing any of the immediate vitality that made the original so stirring upon its first appearing.

Just to be clear, I’m not claiming the song was recorded to pacify unrepentant sodomites, nor is my aim to slur orthodox belief as homophobia, two of the common reactions this type of post ordinarily receives. So, if you will, hear me … well, out. I come not to put down piety but rather to unpack the knot of pious responses bound up in this music for me, and so to perhaps glimpse the greater glory it bespeaks for people as varied as my two companions and me in that car the other night.  My point, then, is not that you have to be gay to get this song. Far from it. In fact, my point is exactly the opposite: after all, the song wouldn’t have succeeded and endured as it has if its appeal were as narrow as all that. Yet if it’s true that this song has spoken to many believers as a powerful statement of orthodox doctrine, it’s equally true that the song’s appeal derives in no small part the truths of decidedly unorthodox experience.

I sent a draft of this post to a friend of mine, and her response to that last bit was something along the lines of: hmmm, aren’t you kinda suggesting that it’s ok to go through what Kirk Talley experienced if it produces great music? Notwithstanding the history of the tortured artist, it’s a fair point. So for the record: emphatically no, I am not. I know far too well from personal experience some of the more expensive emotional and spiritual costs of the ordeal that Talley lived for years, including, by his own account, the era from which this song dates. And I don’t wish that on anyone. But my wishing won’t make much of a difference, and if you’ve got to suffer, boy howdy, if this isn’t a masterful way to repurpose that plight.

And so I find myself returning over and over to so many moments in this song: to the vision of holy presence in the eyes of everyone the singer sees; to the unflinching evocation of all the things that allure my sight (as an even older and more famous gospel song would have it); to the tremulous, tentative, expectant effort to claim the promise  of making contact with the divine. In such moments, even my best angels are surreptitiously grateful for whatever grievous gestalt of suffering and penitence it was that forged these insights and brought forth this balefully beautiful meditation on the soul’s search for some personal peace in the places and faces of our daily habitation.

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Comments

  1. no, no, no! wrote:

    What a beautiful post regarding the way music can affect lives.

  2. CG wrote:

    Speaking of insight to a poet’s heart and soul… DH, you have NO clue how YOU just moved me…bravo !

  3. Paul wrote:

    You are truly a gifted writer who can eloquently express his feelings and insights.

  4. Jason wrote:

    What a beautiful piece of writing, and so very true. I know exactly what you mean.

  5. quartet-man wrote:

    This was one of my favorites the first time I heard the CD. That hasn’t changed. I hadn’t heard the Talleys version to my knowledge,so this was a new song to me although it sounds like one one has heard before (in a good way).

  6. Janet B wrote:

    Out of the greatest pain and suffering come the most powerful - and enduring - songs…It Is Well With My Soul and Please Forgive Me come to mind, among many others. Perhaps that’s just another way that the Father turns our sorrow into joy…

    Bravo, Doug. Well done.

    Btw, I actually prefer the live version of this song (from the Count Your Blessings dvd)…it’s purer in its emotion and Wes has never sounded better. Plus, I’m starting to suspect that Michael, David, & Wes were born just to sing together.
    :)

  7. quartet-man wrote:

    #6 I don’t think Michael is live there unless they overdubbed his live vocals. He wasn’t able to sing then (after his surgery) and lipsynced. But, I know what you mean. :)

  8. Judi wrote:

    Amen. And give my regards to the atheist and the Quaker.

  9. Judi wrote:

    Unfortunately, I can’t enjoy the video because although your icon installed perfectly on the iPad, the YouTube clip stopped after 3 seconds…a common problem some of us Macophiles have with such. So I’ll just have to take your word for it.

  10. CVH wrote:

    Bravo, my friend. Needful thoughts, well expressed.

    Great suffering can produce great art. True introspection allows freedom for the soul. The struggle of living in the ‘not yet’ is a privilege. Gifts from God, all.

  11. JM wrote:

    Doug,

    As we say out on the farm, “It’s better felt, than telt!” I always value and appreciate reflections of when a soul discovers something precious and meaningful. Thanks for sharing your wonderful words.

  12. Bud Alexander wrote:

    Great post. Find a rabbi or a lawyer and you’ve got your quartet.

  13. SG_Obzerver wrote:

    Eloquent indeed. From the heart - no doubt. If I may wax a bit myself…There was a certain situation I once found myself in that felt so very right…so very needed. It was satisfying on every level and I even went so far to claim that it made me a better Christian/singer/minister. I felt it with every fiber of my being. I was the afore-mentioned and aptly named tortured soul who by means of this situation felt that at last something…someone had heard my heart’s cry and reached through the bars of my plight and nourished me in a way that I knew beyond all doubt was good and right. I just knew that those of a lesser estate….those well meaning but overtly simplistic beings who were perfectly content with a pie in the sky way of life could not possibly fathom my needs. I thought what I had was as essential to me as air, water and food. I romanticized it and burned for it mentally as well as physically. I felt inclined toward it…predestined it seemed. It was perfect…but in all the wrong ways. All the while Jer 17:9 had me figured out. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” There are some “situations” that are not easily remedied by our own prescriptions. I have no stones to throw dear readers…I am just a weary life-worn traveller who has been down a few roads of realization that perhaps many will never trod… but then again I suspect there are more fellow-travellers than admit as such. To all of those who count themslves among the tortured souls - my heart goes out to you and I pray you find the peace and love of God that your tender heart aches for.

  14. Ode wrote:

    Beatiful written piece, as always, Doug, and what a song!

    as proverbial comparison of spiritual growth to a bikeride has it,if its hard and difficult to move ahead we are ascending, and when its easy, we are going down. As it was already noted in posts before, big pain brings big gain

  15. Wade wrote:

    Great Writing!!!

    I heard a homophobic minister get up and PRAISE, I KNOW A MAN WHO CAN by Kirk because it had just been sang before the message and then proceed to RIP on the gays for 45 minutes!!!

    I could not wait to get up in line to shake his hand… As I was doing it I reconfirmed he liked the song, “OH YEAH I LOVE IT” he said… I then ask him if he liked STEP into the WATER??? “Oh yeah love how George sings his verse.”

    Then I told him… “Hate to break to to ya but both of them were written by a gay guy and I PROMISE YOU if he COULD HELP IT he would choose differently!!!”

    Shook my head in disgust and walked off to the preacher about to loose his dentures!!

  16. Videoguy wrote:

    Just FWIW, there’s another song on that same project, “You Are My All In All”, written by Dennis Jernigan, whose testimony is that he is an ex-homosexual.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Jernigan

  17. art wrote:

    Posts like this make AVFL worth coming back to. I’d like to see more posts like it if you have it in you.

  18. joe wrote:

    15 Wade: Although “I Know a Man Who Can” is certainly one of Kirk’s most popular recordings, it was not written by him. It was written by Jack Campbell back in the 1960’s and originally published and recorded by Jimmie Davis.

    Great story, though!

  19. Hector Luna wrote:

    Well done, sir. It was a pleasure reading. Having always been a friend and fan of Talley’s, I’m genuinely interested in sincere talk that relates to him. In my mind, I’ve raced all around in a subtle pursuit of what he was going through as he was writing various songs. One that has always come in mind is, Lonely People. Of course, I’m sure that’s an obvious pick. I wasn’t trying to figure it out because I wanted to simply understand or discover more deeply anything about his sexuality, but because knowing his struggles with it, I wanted to know how this outlet had become so effective for him in dealing with it and what triggered the very words. And my, how intimate his relationship w/ Christ was or is. Thank you for writing.

    #15 - Wade. Well done my friend. I like your style.

  20. Wade wrote:

    joe…thanks for the heads up… I was always under the impression that Kirk wrote it too!!! Talk about making a song your own!!!

  21. JLL wrote:

    You perfectly captured how I feel listening to southern gospel (or any good spiritual music, for that matter). Well done!

  22. irishlad wrote:

    16 Ex-homosexual, WT….?? That’s like saying ex-alcoholic.There’s no such thing.Recovering?…perhaps, but surely all that’s doing is putting natural urges on the back burner.Take Kirk out of the Bible-belt and put him in San Fran or New York and sit back….tell you what i’d be one fella keeping my back to the wall! :)

  23. ah... wrote:

    :) 16, praying gay out of someone, that’s so yesterday. Old news. How about trying to  pray gay into SG artists – that would bring artistry, quality and spirit that’s so lacking      Willing yourself to live a straight life is NOT the same as being straight. Sorry, Dennis

  24. Blackstone wrote:

    Appears dangerous to be such a gifted writer.

  25. wanderer wrote:

    #22 and #23. So are you saying God’s power is limited and a person can’t be delivered from a sinful lifestyle? I’m sorry, I believe God can work a miracle in anyone’s life.

  26. cynical one wrote:

    2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

  27. Joe wrote:

    Wanderer- agree with you totally. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from ALL sin. Yet, one of the more sadly common things today is that many take upon themselves the name “Christian”, yet they persist in lifestyles, practices, habits, and life-characteristics that are, in a word, just plain sinful. What does God’s Word say about this?
    All references from the NCV.

    2 Cor. 5:17- “If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new.”

    Rom. 6:1-2 “So do you think we should continue sinning so that God will give us even more grace? No! We died to our old sinful selves, so how can we continue living with sin?”

    Gal. 2:20- “I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live any more- it is Christ who lives in me.”

    1 Cor. 6:18-20 “So run away from sexual sin. Every other sin people do is outside their bodies, but those who sin sexually, sin against their own bodies. You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves, because you were bought by God, for a price. So honor God with your bodies.”

    These are just a few of the many dozens of verses, that all say the very same thing. When God saves a soul, they are changed from the inside out. But to many, our standards are no higher than ourselves. God’s Word is laughed at, ridiculed, ignored, and explained away. And there really is “no new thing under the sun…” for proof, see Judges 21:25b.

  28. Wade wrote:

    Oh Lord Help US!!!

    So anybody that has any faults and FALLS OFF the WAGON no matter what the SIN is is not saved because they FELL OFF???

    Women & Wine are my weakness… I am happy to share those weaknesses with many great men… David, Noah & evidently Adam!!!

  29. irishlad wrote:

    25-27 Listen fellas,in this life the Devil or Sin or the Human Condition or natural human urges or whatever you want to call it always win…sad but true. Unless one follows an ascetic lifestyle,which certain branches of the R.C. faith excell at, then you’re sure to succumb.Southern Baps et al don’t do ascetics too well.

  30. irishlad wrote:

    ..excel that would be.

  31. DMP wrote:

    God always builds on ashes…

  32. quartet-man wrote:

    God can use us in spite of our sin. The Bible has tons of examples of imperfect people who God used greatly. So, Kirk wrote some great songs even though he was not where he should be. However, that doesn’t make the sins right, that God condones them or that we are to stay there. Laddy, God is bigger than our temptations. Of course we fail, but we can overcome with his help.

  33. JD wrote:

    Hmmmm..me thinks that those who profess salvation without any falling may not have been on a bus for weeks at a time, no wife in sight and dozens of sweet things lined up to tell you how wonderful you are. I believe the Word says something about those that overcome not about those who never fall. Just sayin…

  34. wanderer wrote:

    #28 and #29
    Yes I know we all sin and come short of the Glory of God. But there is a huge difference in studying the Bible and knowing what displeases God and being sorry for your actions or saying “This is accetable now in our world/society, so I am going to do it” and not being aware about how God feels about or caring. David did some terrible things, but his attitude about his actions afterward is what God took into account.
    Anyways this will be my last response to this. I’ve stated what I believe and I’m well aware it’s not popular.

  35. Wade wrote:

    wanderer… I FEEL BAD EVERY DAY because I am not what God wants me to be…. if I never felt bad about it I would WONDER about my WANDERINGS!!!

    ALL of the verses that ppl take to condemn the gays amazingly ALL have a LONG LIST of sins that God Hates and says these ppl will not enter the kingdom…. just amazes me that THE OTHER people never seemed to be as condemned as the gays… WHY???

    JUST an Old Sinner Saved by Grace… The only person who ever lived without Sin was the Son of God who came here to dies for our sins cause he KNEW we could not be perfect.

    But I pray and ask forgiveness EVERYDAY and THANK him for not striking me dead because of my sin!!!

    I am weak but I am his child and just like I have a son and I do not like some of the things he does… I even laugh about some of the bad things he does. I can’t help but feel God is like that with US!! I DESPISE every time he goes and plays in the mud after being dressed up for a family or important function!!!

    But when I know he is sorry and feels bad too after the fact I am not going to CONDEMN HIM to Hell because a Stream and a Mud Hole are just more than an 8 year old boy can resist!!

  36. joe wrote:

    Well it looks like it took this refreshing thread about 24 or 25 posts before it fell back into the same ol’ same ol’.

  37. Ode wrote:

    25, It was me at 23, posting from Lollapalooza and my IToy was acting up, so I’ll reply. Noone claims that ex-gay artist is still sleeping with men, but that his orientation, as it usually happens, is still “gay”. Kirk also didn’t get the “miracle of straightness”;)

  38. Ode wrote:

    34, David repented of sin with Bathsheva,but continued as a polygamist with at least 8 wives too many and a score of concubines.
    God didn’t held this against him! Doesn’t give us the license to sin,I am with you on this.but like it or not, societal rules will always be affecting christian viewpoints on sin.

    Having multiple wives was acceptable behaivor for believers in King Solomon times, slavery and racism just recently.
    Remarriage after divorce is, by God’s Word, *continuous* adultery, it’d get your great-grandparents kicked out of church momentarily. Now it’s common in society, so the church promptly bended their previous theology to accomodate;)

    Nobody dares to bash it -most elderly SG fans I talked to are part of such remarriages, or have kids that are, kids who sleep with their boy-or girlfriends. They shut up about it, wanting to see their grandkids, be friendly with coworkers/co-churchers and function in a society where such biblical adultery is the norm.

    Trust me, same will happen with gay-ness. You might be too old to see it, but your grandkids will be treating actively gay christians as you treat christian adulterers - accept them as brethren.

    You or I are not lesser sinners then Avery or Kirk, even if they are active gays, you know Bible good to realise that, dont you ?

  39. irishlad wrote:

    38 Yip Ode, sometime down the line the Gay Christian will be the norm and not an eyelid will be batted…well ole Joe, he’ll be a spinnin’ :)

  40. Joe wrote:

    Ode- it does not matter a gnat’s fart in a hurricane, what, as you say, “societal rules will affect ‘christian’ viewpoints on sin.” That is a specious and temporal argument at very best, and an anti-God statement at worst.

    You have bragged to all of us here that you know the Tanakh better than any of us. If so, then you SHOULD have known what Psalm 119:89 states. “Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in Heaven.”

    No matter what societal “norms” may be, no matter how Hollywood shapes the moral “standards” of a wicked world, God’s Word does not change. Nor do His holy standards. You should know, better than any, what the Tanakh teaches about homosexuality. Your defense of it is Scripturally indefensible, and you are standing on sinking sand.

    You do make a valid point though- we are ALL sinners. I just happen to be a sinner saved by grace. A Christian is not one who sets out to break God’s Law day in and day out, and have pride in doing so. Sin for us is a constant battle (Romans 7), because the sin-nature will be in us until the rapture. However, also within the true believer, lives God’s Holy Spirit- the greatest deterrant in the universe to continuing a life of sin. Sin, for the believer, should be the exception, and not the rule. Romans 8 clearly states the triumphant victory available to every true child of God, living under the total control of the Holy Spirit.

    And to my dear friend Wade- I hear you. So let me let you in on a little pearl. You do NOT need to ask God, over and over and over, for forgiveness when you sin. If you have been saved, you have been once-and-forever forgiven. When true salvation happens, a believer NEVER has to ask the Lord for forgiveness again. When we sin, all we have to do is to confess, repent, and forsake. and He is faithful and just to forgive us. See 1 John 1:9.

  41. Ode wrote:

    40, Joe, You seem to be confusing God’s views on sin with christians’ views on sin. It’s a sad mistake that many seem to make, thinking that their opinions and views are actually God’s, which is blasphemous and prideful. Try reading my post again, keeping in mind that difference.

    I was analyzing the history and evolution of believers and ,later, Christians views on sin, not claiming that God’s views have changed.

  42. Ode wrote:

    40, I didn’t claim to know Tanach better then all of you, you are being a liar ! I said I knew it better then my opponent does or ever will, for he said he’ll never study it further, literal meanings are enough for him.
    Don’t lie and bash people just to strengthen your case, you know what God says about the lying tongue?

  43. Butch wrote:

    My 2 cents is simply having the “natural” bent to sin does not justify its participation. Some struggle with stealing-trust me I am surrounded by city kids who have learned well from their parents; this doesn’t not give them the right to steal simply because of the inclination or propensity. The same would go for our sexuality whether it be to be in a gay relationship, messing around with our neighbors wife, or even acting as a pedophile. Given the previous justifications, is messing with kids okay? Will it be acceptable in our church Sunday school’s someday?

  44. irishlad wrote:

    43 Whoa there Butch, gay sexual activity is(usually)consenting,paedophilla is not, and never will be in any modern society,never mind attempting to extrapolate it to a Sunday school setting.

  45. Ode wrote:

    43,What ILad said.
    To expand… As history proves, if its legal by the Law, then it’s usually the norm for church folk too- just like currently criminalized pedophilia was the norm in christianity even a few centuries ago.

    Polygamist leader of a fundie church in TX was just given life in prison for having sex with 15 y old “wives”, so Joseph that married Jesus’ mother, would be called a pedophile and locked up just like him if marriage happened today…As well as the man after God’s own heart/successful harem owner David, ages of girls in harems at that time were 4 - 22. I’d be collecting retirement benefits for 3 years already, have I had a harem career ;) Cultural environment affects people’s views on sin, as I tried to explain to Joe,regardless how ungodly it might appear.

    See, you older people like to whine that morality is in decline! Look, sometimes it improves, Christians outgrew legalised pedophilia already!

  46. Joe wrote:

    Ode- here is exactly what you wrote in a prior post.

    “Your camp’s knowledge of NT vastly exceeds mine , i am totally self-taught- just recently, BUICK explained for me few metaphors, I was very grateful. But dont even try to argue Tanach, my left foot knows more on the subject than your entire head ever will.”

    Explain this now, how you will. The way I stated it is how you stated this, and meant it.

  47. Butch wrote:

    I will add that I have sympathy to those who are gay. The desire is certainly not their choice. Obviously to act on them is a choice-and is wrong. I have several good friends who are wired that way and would pay lots to change, but can’t, and have chosen to struggle against just because they know the truth-that it is sin; just like adultery and all the other sexual sins. BTW amen to the commenter who pointed out the hypocrisy in Christianity turning our heads away from adulterous relationships.

  48. Auke wrote:

    What a wonderful insightful piece of this song. He is here…for everyone,all the time..even for Doug, and yes even for moi.
    Job Doug!

  49. EnoughAlready wrote:

    I sometimes feel that this is the all homosexual, all the time chat room. Surely there is more to discuss.

  50. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    If this is a blog about southern gospel, why is everyone talking incessantly about homosexuality, adultery, and justification by behavior modification, while simultaeously spouting some seriously atrocious theology?

    Oh, right…

  51. Ode wrote:

    46 Joe,i honestly meant just you alone, for not all here believe in biblical literalism. “Your entire head”- we own one head per man, right? At least only “one at a time can function”, as my pastor claims when raving against porn to our menfolk.

    But lo, sweet people, I sincerely apologize to Joe, charge is cancelled, he said no lie. Lost in translation, my fault entirely. I ran it by my officemates, all said you were right, they understood it the same way.

    i am one bilingual mess. See in Hebrew “you” (singular),”you” (plural feminine) and “you” (plural masculine) are 3 different words :D

  52. Ode wrote:

    50 (raises hand) Pick me, Sir!
    Because SG, adultery, homosexuality, justification by behaiv. mod. and atrocious theology are inseparable parts of the same package.

    49, “Be the change you want to see in others”. Come up with something else, dont whine. here is great piano playing, i was just send that ( i teach religious dance in church)

  53. Ode wrote:

    oops, here is link, add it to prev. plz :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8BvJaDfvv1A

  54. Just Thinking wrote:

    Beautiful writing–you are so gifted! And having that sweet, pensive music playing in the background as we read it was a stroke of genius! Best regards to you!

  55. KermitTheHermit wrote:

    I grew up in a Christian home and was never taught that Jesus’s blood covered all my past, present, and future sins. At age 15, I finally learned that my acceptance of salvation freed me from the bondage of the sin of the world. Now, I have free will and choose to act responsibly in alignment with what I believe Jesus would have me do. Thank God that a pastor finally shared that tid-bit of knowledge with me. (and no it wasn’t a Southern Baptist)
    Because we are all obviously so righteous here, I gather that we will never reach a consensus as to what Jesus taught about this particular subject. I don’t recall exactly what his words were on the subject. However, I do recall his command to follow him. I recall his love for the outsiders and castaways. That is the exact reason I choose to be a Christian, the love of the underdog and compassion for humanity.
    It is sad to say that a selection of Christians (etc) represented here is precisely what I abhor about my chosen religion and alignment. Kirk Talley wrote some of the most spiritually poignant and soul-stirring songs of the last 50 years. His struggle was exposed 7 years ago. Yet, here we (well, some of us) are, arguing over something I believe Christ would find so trivial. Lets fight about Bill Clinton, Benedict Arnold, Sarah Palin, Rock Hudson, Shirley Temple, or Charles Heston. The man has done well and done much; and, I appreciate him for it.
    I’m not much for Bible thumping, but… Love your neighbor and honor God. That’s good enough for me.
    **now I am going back under my rock til this dead horse’s stink finally drives you all away**

  56. Wade wrote:

    Yeah #55… I will second that Motion!!!

    Thanks Kirk!!

  57. Joe wrote:

    Well Kermit….not sure how much of the Bible you have actually read, so I will try to help you on this subject. Christ’s teaching was crystal-clear. In fact, He used the precise and exact same words while He was here to eventually die for the sins of mankind, that God the Father, and our Creator, said after He had created the first man and woman.

    “…a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5)

    Jesus ratified God’s one and ONLY prescription for sexual activity between human beings; one MAN, married to one WOMAN, and by the way, no other way.

    You may talk about love all you wish. But true love of God is keeping His commandments, not trying to change them to suit our whims. Remember- His original commands were inscribed on stone tablets. You try to bend them, you break them.

    One man. One woman. God’s order for marriage, echoed and endorsed by the Lord Jesus Christ.

  58. KermitTheHermit wrote:

    Joe- I abhor that I had to crawl back from under my rock to reply. My rock does have a few bibles lying around. Don’t fret about my lack of knowledge of the bible, dear Joe.

    I don’t see anything in what you wrote to me that gives me any biblical proof that Jesus Christ said anything on the subject at hand. You claimed he echoed Genesis. In fact, if you want to dial back a couple of scriptures, you will see his words were in reply to the Pharisees (btw, I smell one near here) question about divorce, not homosexuality. We cannot claim to have his unequivocal words on the matter, as he never addressed the topic outright. We do have his exact words on the first and greatest commandments, which we can argue about in heaven. You can have the first half of eternity. I’ll go last.

    Joe, my biggest concern with what you have said is in your equation: obedience to God = Love of God. “But true love of God is keeping His commandments, not trying to change them to suit our whims.” If your dog obeys you, does that mean he loves you? If your employees obey you, does that mean that they love you? Love does equal obedience. Obedience equals fear. The God of Fear doesn’t sit well with my comprehension of free will after the death of Jesus. He set us free from the fear of sin.

    However, I believe (and take it for what it is worth… 17 cents) that having a love of God means that: a.) We seek to serve others in the manner that Jesus served others. b.) We will honor and live by the last dispensation of Christ (which supersedes the prior dispensation of the Old Testament, i.e. a woman doesn’t have to sacrifice a pigeon before entering the temple after childbirth) - meaning: We will love God and our neighbor with all that is within us. c.) We should go out into all nations proclaiming the story and sacrifice of Christ, baptizing them into the fold. d.) Give compassion to those who most or few would consider lowly.

    These are also the 4 reasons I shudder when having to lump myself in with the rest of Christianity. We gladly accept a saved sinner, but rarely accept the unsaved. Truly, Jesus showed us an example of compassion and brotherhood.

    Man. Woman. People. Brothers. Sisters. God’s order for compassion, echoed and endorsed by the Lord Jesus Christ’s example.

  59. Joe wrote:

    Thanks for coming out from under your rock, Kermit- appreciate it.

    What Jesus said in the words I quoted have EVERYTHING to do with the subject at hand. Everything. After God instituted marriage, He ratified that it was between a husband and his wife. One man, one woman, and by the way, He hates divorce. That is also in Scripture.

    When Christ echoed His words, they were both saying clearly that the ONLY heaven-authorized sexual relations between any 2 humans was to be only between a husband and his wife.

    That leaves out everything else. Adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbiansim, rape, orgies, pedophilia, bestiality, and Clinton/Lewinski (and for the sake of common decency, I stopped the list here.)
    ALL others are against the law of God.

    And if you think obedience to God is not directly in the equation of love, then you really do need to read your Bible.

    “IF you love Me, keep My commandments.” I didn’t say it. He did. John 14:13-15.

  60. Kliska wrote:

    I feel compelled to respond to this, though I’ve never responded to any article on this blog before; why the feeling to add my 2 cents? The discussion of love and commandment-keeping; yes, I’m about to aid in the derailment of this blog post. John and Jesus both clearly taught a new take on the commandments; Love God, love your fellow man. That was the two commandments discussed in 1 John, further giving voice to the apostle of love’s opinion on it.

    1 John 3:23 And THIS is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. (emphasis mine)

    I’ve heard John’s words mangled enough by those legalists in sheep’s clothing to last a lifetime. Examples? No I shouldn’t. (*cough*ToddFriel*cough*) The commandments here are not the Noahide laws, they are not the Mosaic law, etc… the new commandments center around love and grace… Paul teaches us that everything is permissible but not everything is profitable, and John tells us that Christians cannot sin. That is not John misspeaking, that is literally the truth; we are now incapable of sinning in the strict sense because we are not held up to the law (doesn’t mean we should sin so grace can abound, but that does not negate the truth of our new state in Christ).

    For someone to try to toss out a fellow believer’s music because of a particular sin is ludicrous to me, and hypocritical (and self-righteous). If we tossed out the contributions of sinners, there would be nothing left to read, listen to, or watch. Outside of Christ, we are ALL homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators, glutton, gossips, etc… because if we break one law, we are held guilty of breaking them all. In Christ, we are all righteous because of HIM, that is why there is no condemnation in Christ.

  61. Joe wrote:

    Kliska- You, of course, are correct…but only so far. You have not presented the whole story. The NT makes it crystal-clear that a professing Christian who continues to live a life of wilful sin, is moat likely not a Christian at all. Considering the specific sin that so often finds its way onto these pages, for obvious reason, you may wish to re-read 1 Cor. 6:9-11. There, are listed a whole bunch of “lifestyle” sins, and those who live such lives, will never see the kingdom of God. Harsh? yes- but only so far as He is holy, and no abomination(s) will ever enter His home (Rev. 21:27).

    It is most noteworthy to read that Paul tells the Corinthians “and such WERE some of you- but you have been washed…” They had been; they were no longer. The precious blood of Christ cleanses every sin, changes the heart. life. and soul from the inside out, and that person does not live a wilful life of sin ever again.

  62. Kliska wrote:

    You are reading into the text something that isn’t there; Paul does not say that they ceased their former actions… in fact from the whole discourse in Corinthians we see that these people he calls brethren (direct evidence they are saved) are acting so bad as to be noticed for their bad behavior and it is worse than the notorious pagans of Corinth! He makes the point that they are no longer under those labels as they are free in Christ, AND they don’t have to be under the power of anything through Christ. He says nothing of losing the salvation he so clearly admits they have. The just are saved by faith and live by faith, not any work of man can save, not any work of man can separate us from Christ. That’s the whole point.

    He then exhorts them to think about how their actions appear to others and their spiritual ramifications. No one here disputes that; however, they are still Christians. Further, we are ALL walking abominations unless we are in Christ. Once in Christ, it is again HIS righteousness that is imputed to us. We may lose rewards for building wood, hay and stubble structures on the foundation that is Christ and faith in His work, but salvation remains.

    This shoots down any idea that there cannot be carnal Christians as incorrectly taught by preachers like Paul Washer and his ilk. A Christian can’t slip into a life of “willful” sin again? Well, it may be news to the prodigal son that while he burned through his inheritance, and then lusted after hog-food he was no longer a son (if I may borrow a parable). Woe to the sheep who wanders from the flock? No, it is the Shepherd’s love and job to go fetch the sheep back no matter how far away or in what thorn thicket the sheep wanders (and I may add sometimes all the other sheep baa-ing and bleating make it a bit hard to actually hear the shepherd’s voice). And, while I’m going nuts with the parables… people forget that while a tare resembles wheat… it is equally true that wheat resembles a tare. Since salvation comes from faith, not works, it is impossible to judge another person’s salvation, that is between them and the Lord.

    All that to say; I know beyond any doubt that we have complete freedom in Christ. Now, what we do with that freedom is tempered by love and responsibility, and we are shaped by the Holy Spirit. Each of us still sins; Paul called himself the chief of sinners (notice the present tense of his words), we sin everyday in thought, word, and deed. Sin is no longer the issue and has no power over us and we become hypocrites the moment we single a certain sin out and try to invalidate a person, their salvation, their very lives, and their work for the Lord. Yeah, that’s showing love for a brother or sister… I’m with Christ, tax-collectors and prostitutes will surely inherit the kingdom before the self-righteous, judgmental religious elite.

  63. Joe wrote:

    Kliska- you are DEAD wrong, to say that the “standard in Corinth” is to be our standard today… practicing homosexuals, adulterers, fornicators etc. happily enjoying fellowship in the Corinthian assembly with other non-sinning believers. That is totally foreign to Scripture. In fact, a man guilty of having sexual relations with his father’s wife (step-mother) in 1 Cor. 5, was to be banished from the fellowship, delivered into the realm of Satan, so that he could learn not to “blaspheme”. In chapter 11, some in the church, who were turning the Lord’s Supper into a drunken orgy, were stricken dead by the Lord, or given physical illnesses by Him. God will not tolerate a professing Christian living a life of public, blatant, wilful sin.

    The prodigal son was a Jewish boy. No hint he was ever saved. And His father did not go searching for him. He waited, until the boy had fully repented, then welcomed him home.

    Paul says of those who were in the Corinthian church, who HAD BEEN homosexuals, “…such WERE some of you.” The verb tense is in the past. They no longer were. Salvation through the precious blood of Christ cures not only homosexuality, but every life of wilful sin.

    To say otherwise is putting a totally unscriptural slant on scriptural truth.

  64. Kliska wrote:

    You’re wrong in all your specific interpretations, fortunately everyone reading this can see that you misinterpret both me and scripture on their own if they read for themselves, which all should do. Nowhere did I say that the standard in Corinth should be our standard… however, these carnal believers (our brethren, BTW, you never showed where they weren’t) were also full of love and forgiveness, and gave so generously that Paul crowed about them to other churches. Maybe not such a bad standard after all. They WERE those things outside of Christ, as soon as they put their faith in Christ they were pardoned of those titles, and those titles will never apply again even if they fall into sin again!

    The saved believer in question was kicked out of the fellowship for potentially causing others to stumble and for his own good; Paul is clear he’s still a brother and ultimately no matter how far he strays, he’s still a sheep. You’re right on one point; God will take care of His own if they need corrected. However, those whom He corrects are still His even if He has to take them out of this world. Let God deal with His children, HE sanctifies us, corrects us, loves us, and knows us better than everyone else. We are now free to listen to Him and Him alone, in scripture and in our own everyday lives. Instead, all the other sheep don’t think they are sheep and their judgmental legalism and fearful bleating and baa-ing gets off-putting and distracting.

    You read right past all the good stuff in scripture apparently. The whole point of the prodigal son is that he was a son, just as much as the one that stayed home. The Father never gave up on him or wrote him off. God is our Father when we put our faith in Christ. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone, and once we are His, He is our Abba. He no longer looks on us as anything but His own Son. Why do you think we need to be in Christ? Now, are you calling Christ an adulterer, liar, gossip, etc…? No? Then why are you calling fellow believers that whilst they are in Christ? To do that, you’d have to think a sin is stronger than Jesus’ blood, stronger than His sacrifice, and stronger than Him. Sorry, that’s not how it works; a fact this sinner saved by grace is thankful for each and every day.

    The fact is that Jesus’ sacrifice wipes out ALL sin in a believers life, but that does not mean we will not sin. From what you say here, you put yourself above liars, adulterers, thieves, gluttons, gossips, homosexuals, murderers, the proud, etc… that would mean you don’t sin. At all. In thought, word or deed. Hm. Again, there is a reason that the tax collectors and prostitutes will enter in before the self-righteous. Notice that they are not former prostitutes or tax collectors in Jesus’ own words… but prostitutes and publicans in the present tense; they have no doubt about their need for grace. It makes me sad that you are missing the point of Grace and Faith, or that you take if for your own, but choose other humans to whom grace and faith don’t apply. Has the message ever been abused? Sure, that’s why Paul had to teach that we shouldn’t sin so grace can abound.

    Like it or not, the message is clear; Jesus brings freedom from the law. He brings literal freedom from sin. He brings peace with the Father, and change flowing from the Spirit for any and all who trust in Jesus. Where Jesus, faith, and grace are preached, there is radical love and change. Where legalism and fruit inspecting are prized there is back-biting, fear, doubt, and self-righteous judgment. Jesus is our model, and Paul was one of His foremost apostles; in this age of grace, preach Christ and Him crucified, preach freedom with responsibility, love, grace, faith, and the power of God. And please, to those reading, pay close attention to scripture taken out of context esp. those tossed out by Joe, and go read them yourselves in the whole book context they were meant to be taken in.

  65. Joe wrote:

    Kliska- I agree literally with about 95% of all you have written. But you seem to think that after one is saved, they can live any lifestyle, commit any sin, and all is OK. I firmly believe in “once saved, always saved”, as there is not a single Scriptural reference to one person who was truly saved, then truly lost. But Paul says “shall we then continue in sin, so that grace might abound? GOD FORBID!”

    Let’s just take this one sin that got us started on this thread- the sin so often written about here. Not only does Scripture repeatedly call it sin, it calls it abomination. Rev. 21:27 clearly states that “no person who works abomination” will ever be allowed in Heaven. A person can say all they want about being a Christian…if their lifestyle and the choices they make continue to present abomination, then they give every evidence that they have never been saved at all. This is exactly what Paul is saying in 1 Cor. 6:9-10. See also Luke 13:25-28.

    The prodigal’s father never went after him. But, as soon as the boy had FULLY repented, and promised a changed life, the dad was there to welcome him home. Repentance signifies a changed life. A person who says he is saved, but continues in a lifestyle of sin, has never repented, and therefore, proves that he has never been saved in the first place.

  66. Kliska wrote:

    The Dead Horse odor will never leave this place now, but I can’t help it; please read the list of everything in scripture God considered to be an abomination. If you don’t fall into one of those labels explicitly you STILL fall into all of those labels because if you break one bit of the law, you break it all. That’s the part you are missing.

    Sin of any type, even thought, ensures you continue to be an abomination outside of Christ; if you place your faith in Christ, you are no longer an abomination but an adopted son of the King. You continue to sin just as much as any other, if you claim not to, then you don’t have a grasp on how fallen and hopeless we humans are.

    You say, “Rev. 21:27 clearly states that “no person who works abomination” will ever be allowed in Heaven.” You’ve never worked an abomination? How do you suppose you get into the Lamb’s book of life, or into Heaven? Works? Your own righteousness? Nope. Grace through faith, and you are no longer an abomination in Christ, though you still sin.

    Why do you think Paul had to make it clear that you are not to sin in order to make grace abound? Because that is how it works. You are NOT to sin with that in mind, or to “help” God spread the grace, because that is abusing your freedom in Christ, that doesn’t separate you from Him, but it is a big no-no. Still doesn’t change the fact of freedom in Christ and that fact that a believer (one who faiths on Christ) now cannot sin, and labels no longer apply.

    Again, the son was still a son even when he was actively engaged in sin after sin after sin; he never ceased to be a son. Repentance is about a change of mind, and a Biblical change of mind that results in salvation is a change of mind about God and our need for Him. Again, we are all abominations outside of Christ, so we need His Righteousness. How does ANYone get His righteousness? By grace through faith. What is grace? Unmerited favor. What is faith? Trusting with great confidence. That’s for everyone and every type of sinner, including this sinner.

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