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Our Anabaptist Thread Pt. 2

• Bruxy Cavey

As we finish up our study of Tapestry, Bruxy Cavey teaches us the importance of visible Kingdom community and separation of church and state. These two aspects of the Kingdom were best lived out by the Anabaptists.

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Last week, we began studying the Anabaptist tradition. We learned about the believer’s baptism, that salvation involves discipleship, we are called to live simply, and we should love our enemies and refrain from violence against them. These week, Bruxy shares with us the other two teachings from the Anabaptist traditions—Church as visible, Kingdom community and Separation of church and state.

The church is a visible, Kingdom community in that we view our faith as a window, and not a painting. When the Reformation began, they believed in sola fida, or “faith alone.” This was a strong difference between the Reformation and the Catholic Church. However, the Anabaptists felt that faith alone was not enough. When we stop at faith, our lives can become stagnant with Christ as our savior. And while Christ is our savior, he is also our Lord, and that requires us to live our lives in obedience to him. When we live in obedience to Jesus, we show the visible, Kingdom community.

Faith is not enough, we need to follow Jesus. When people put faith at the center of their world, then their lives can become centered on their beliefs. This can lead to their beliefs being their foundation, instead of Jesus. When Jesus is the center of our world, we depend on Jesus for our beliefs and our actions. He is our Lord who we want to obey. But it’s not just about the commands of Jesus. Jesus shows us God’s love and the power of the Holy Spirit more than our beliefs ever could.

Jesus is our Lord. While Jesus was also our savior, his savior-ness doesn’t sum up Jesus’ work. Jesus was a great teacher, but his teacher-ness doesn’t sum up Jesus’ work. Only when we view Jesus as our Lord do we truly see our purpose in this world. When we choose Jesus as our Lord, he becomes our teacher, savior, and the commander of the Kingdom and its people. We follow Jesus imperfectly, but our lives are always pointed towards following him.

When we follow Jesus, we manifest the church as visible, Kingdom community. Instead of simply believing something and living our lives separate from our beliefs, following Jesus requires us to live in a different and holy way from the ways of this world. However, we shouldn’t flee from this world or hide away from our culture. Rather, we should live in the world but remember that our true citizenship is in the Kingdom. When we do this, we can be free from trying to change the kingdoms of this world into God’s Kingdom.

The separation of Church and State is critical to the Anabaptists. In Romans 13, the state uses the sword, takes revenge on God’s behalf, represents God’s judgment and wrath, maintains social order, and demands taxes and obedience. In Romans 12, the church rejects the sword, leaves vengeance to God, represents God’s infinite compassion, spreads radical love for all, and offers taxes and submission. These distinctions were important in the 1st century, and they remain important today. When the Anabaptists first formed, the church was deeply mired in political problems of Europe, and this separation by the Anabaptists was important in order to live in the way that Jesus called us.

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Topics: Anabaptism, Community, Non-Violence, Politics

Sermon Series: Tapestry

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Focus Scripture:

  • John 18:33

    Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

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40 thoughts on “Our Anabaptist Thread Pt. 2

  1. Lori says:

    Well said! If only all churches preached love instead of judgement….

  2. charlene says:

    I LIKE…thanks

  3. Michelle says:

    Thanks so much. You just get it 🙂

  4. Gina says:

    Wow this is something,never heard it explained like that before

  5. DJ says:

    wow very powerful! can a human talk any faster? lol

  6. Manny Cumplido says:

    Genuine Question: Pastor Boyd has said that the civil rights movement was a kingdom movement, but MLK, after sparking a mass movement, saw that he had the opportunity to transform the law, THROUGH, a populous, kingdom-infused movement.

    So, would the more kingdom-like movement be one which never tried to pass a law? Would it theoretically just eventually become irrelevant whether the law was changed? That doesn’t seem right, unless there’s something about Pastor Boyd’s eschatology that solves this.

  7. kbh says:

    good thoughts Manny!

  8. How is gay marriage missing Gods ideal? I would argue that all marriage or civil unions which is an article of the state follow Gods ideal. In the kingdom of God how can anyone find fault in someone based on the way they were created? It is as normal or “sinless” as marriage between a man or woman. So if it is missing Gods Ideal and a so called sin because it goes against said ideal than what is Gods ideal? His ideal must be solely based on the evolutionary secular process of evolution to reproduce. I find it hard to believe that God would value such a loveless practice yet still preach love. I can only speculate that Gods ideal would be to unite people together in love in so far as love is present not to try and tear that love apart. So Gods ideal is simply marriage, all marriage nothing more and nothing less. This leads me to believe that gay marriage is right in line with Gods ideal, love, family and companionship. Calling it a sin is in fact a sin in and of itself.

  9. Greg Boyd says:

    Thanks for the feedback Bryan. I hear your concern and fully appreciate your compassion toward gay couples. I personally grieve over the way the Church has often singled out homosexuality as though it was worse than other sins, when the truth is there are dozens sins that are mentioned far more frequently and emphatically than this one that Christians are typically guilty of! If we want to go on a political crusade, I say we start by crusading against GREED!

    Anyway, to respond to your point: the reason Bruxy and I feel we have no choice but to say that homosexual relationships miss he bull’s eye of God’s ideal (which is the biblical definition of “sin”) is that we believe the Bible is God’s Word. From beginning to end, the Bible holds up heterosexual marriage as God’s ideal. Also,there are three passages in the NT that most scholars agree teach that homoerotic behavior is not appropriate for Jesus followers (Rom. 1:26-28; I Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:10).

    Bryan, I don’t dispute that a person’s sexual orientation is something they are born with (as well as being influenced by other social factors). But the Bible also teaches that ALL of us are born in a fallen world and in a fallen condition. Whether we’re heterosexual or homosexual, ALL of us are born with a “natural” inclination to “miss the mark.” The fact that something comes “natural” for us DOESN’T mean its God’s ideal. This is the cross we bear.

    Having said this, I’ll end by simply reiterating Bruxy’s point that, its one thing to say that a behavior falls short of God’s ideal, and quite a different thing to say that Christians should try to impose a law preventing that behavior.

    I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons prostitutes and other sinners were always wanting to hang out with Jesus is because HE DIDN’T SPEND ALL HIS TIME TRYING TO PASS LAWS AGAINST THEM.


  10. You have great points. Thanks for the feedback. I have another question now. Humans have a need to reproduce to continue our race, so I get that God would want sex to be within the confines of marriage. What doesn’t make sense to me is that besides the need for one member of the opposite sex each to produce offspring, I don’t feel like that is enough to say that it is sinful for two men to pledge their love to one another just because two men or two woman can not breed. After all God did give us free will. Didn’t he? It kind of sounds like he is setting high expectations for ourselves, kind of setting us up to fail. I mean for some people it is not in their biological make up to be heterosexual. If I was gay this would be enough to invoke fear in me. This fear would be enough to cause me to pretend to be straight. I would feel guilt and shame, always wondering why I wasn’t good enough for my creator and all I really ever wanted was to be normal. So why does god have to take this route? There are other aspects of gay marriage that meet Gods idealism, right? When I think of marriage and proposing, I don’t think of having a family with little Bryan’s running around, lol. I think of marriage as a commitment to another human being whom you share the rest of your life with. I think of two people appreciating and sharing their love with one another. Is that not what Gods ideal is? And if it’s not than what’s the point of even getting married if you don’t want or can’t have children. I see myself getting married someday but I don’t see myself having babies. Maybe a cat and a dog. If I dont have kids, is this missing gods ideal? Sorry about the long comment. I hate this one answer always leads to many more questions. Maybe I should just stop thinking, lol.

    1. Hilde says:

      I agree with you, Bryan. It comes down to how scripture is viewed and interpreted. I don’t think everything in scripture is ” on the mark”. I think scripture reflects the the attitudes of the writer and the culture of their day. Some of it is deeply inspired and some of it not so much. Jesus never mentions homosexuality.

  11. Loren Haas says:

    My parents were raised Brethren in Christ in PA and attended Messiah College and looked just like the photos Bruxey showed. They left the B in C church because of the legalism he spoke about. My dad started a TV business in the early 50’s and caught nothing but flack from the elders (until he installed TVs in their own basements!) They moved on to CA and attended a Baptist church for many years. It is encouraging to hear that the B in C Church repented of their leagalism and have returned to their roots. Thanks for this series

  12. Clare Nuth says:

    Many Christians and denominations do not believe in the degree of separation of church and state that was preached in this sermon and many Christians are ok with serving in the armed forces of the country they are legal citizens of. Many Christians are also ok with using necessary force to protect themselves and others from physical harm. Does this mean they are not Christ followers?

  13. Scott Schneider says:

    I love the theological positions and hearts of both Bruxy and Greg as in their messages I have received confirmation in many of my convictions that I have had for quite some time. I love the separation of church and state in both directions as Bruxy pointed out. As a pastor I saw that the institutional church is an institution that closely resembles the institution of the state, and thus many of American Christians are as instiutionalized as the inmates that I have worked with the last decade. The power that Greg and Bruxy pointed out in the context of the state is seen in the context of the institution of the church in the boards and the pastoral staff. It is very scary. It is one of control. I gues no question just big concerns.

  14. Pamela says:

    How could a gay person believe that you love them, if, at the same time, you are saying that you believe that the very thing that the gay person believes to be an essential part of their being is in fact an abomination before God?
    That is like telling me, as a female person, that we love you, but according to the Bible you must submit to the will of your husband, i.e. you cannot own land in your own name, you cannot vote, you cannot become a doctor or lawyer, you cannot leave your husband even if there is domestic violence.
    At the time these laws were in place, people felt that change would be an affront to God, against the Bible, an assault on decent society and cause fraying of the foundational family unit and other such things. But here we are in a society that has abandoned all these laws, and embraced women’s basic social equality before the civil law and I think most people think that, on balance, we are all better off for these changes.
    I am confident that in a short time, this whole issue of gay marriage will be a non-issue, just like it is now for women to have equal rights before the civil law. In the meantime, I think that people who consider themselves Christians should examine their own souls, and invest in truly loving a gay person. That would be an act consistent with Jesus’ teachings.

  15. N. James says:

    Pamela – I would direct your attention to a video by Bishop N.T. Wright on this subject. It may not answer all of these questions, but I believe it adds much to the discussion.

    He says it better than I could so here it is…

  16. Greg Boyd says:

    Thanks for the great question Manny. I believe MLK’s movement was distinctly “kingdom” in three ways.

    First, King not only forbid those who participated in his marches to ever resort to violence; he forbid anyone from participating who didn’t love their oppressors. In fact, he told participants that they had to march on BEHALF of their oppressors as much as for themselves. While the oppressed were dehumanized by being oppressed, the oppressors were dehumanized by oppressing others. The conviction that change must happen by refraining from violence while loving enemies is distinctly kingdom.

    Second, King called on people to enter into solidarity with the oppressed and to share in their suffering. This is what Christ did for us and what he calls us to do with others. We are to side with all who are having their “image of God” nature being squashed and join their collective cry. This highlights the injustice being done and thus brings about change.

    Third, while King led marches with the goal of bringing national attention to a grotesque injustice and thereby bring about change, he didn’t try to bring about change by weighing in on partisan politics. One need not pretend to have superior wisdom on how Caesar should resolve problems that divide the polis (which is what “politics” is all about ) to side with the hurting, call attention to injustice and join their cry.

    Finally, there is nothing wrong with using whatever voice you have to speak to governing authorities. Paul did in this in the book of Acts. And certainly, when there is unambiguous evil being perpetrated against people, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to protect them so long we do it out of love for those perpetrating the evil as well as the victims and so long as our behavior is consistent with the teaching and example of Jesus (that is, is not violent). But the main point of stressing the distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world is that we must always keep the kingdom of God “holy” (separate) by not inviting divisive political issues, about which good and godly people disagree, into the church.

    Hope this helps. Blessings.

  17. Hi Greg et al,

    Great message! Now I need a little more help with my thinking.

    Can you clarify the meaning of violence in light of the gospel? Are we talking about violence as a symbol of our animosity toward our enemies? Or are we talking about violence in general? Let me clarify. When do our sports like hockey (I’m Canadian) or football (a religion-like for many) which engage in violent behaviour become unchristian? Or is violent sports (sports that can directly cause injuries) always wrong for Followers of Jesus to participate in?

    Another example: When I yank my child out of the harm on the street from an oncoming car and she ends up injured, is that form of violence wrong for me as a parent? I have not heard a message on violence contextualized in those instances.

  18. Clare — great question! In our way of thinking, someone’s perspective on the “dogma” of the faith is what determines whether or not they are a Christ-follower. (Greg talked about dogma, doctrine and opinion in the first Tapestry message here:

    We feel very passionately about the separation of church and state and about non-violence, but we don’t put those topics in the category of dogma… they would be more like doctrine for us.

    So we certainly wouldn’t say that others who don’t share these convictions are not following Christ. We have always wanted to play our part in the wider community of Christ-followers, realizing that we’ll never agree 100% on some of these issues. At the same time, we certainly want to influence others to live in a certain way, since we passionately believe these things are very close to God’s heart.

  19. Hey Denley — more great questions! Greg and Paul actually “tackled” (pun intended 🙂 the sports question during the Tapestry Q&A that we held recently. You can download the audio and video files here:

    I think the question about sports is at about 33:20 into the Q&A portion of the evening.

    Hope that helps!

  20. Thanks Charley that help with my thinking.

  21. I agree with what Pamela said. You can’t truly love someone when you make statements comdemning their very identity as a human. To say that gay marriage deviates from Gods plan and a so called sin invites division and seclusion from both kingdom worlds including the kingdom of god. I don’t think that is something God would have wanted. I can only speculate that a loving God would not condemn his followers simply cuz he made them different. He would not tell them that who they are as a person is wrong and bring guilt upon them. These are just a few of many reasons that I think sexual relations within marriage is all a part of Gods plan. Jesus loved all people. Homosexuality fits gods ideology perfectly. If you say not producing offspring is missing Gods ideal than it is not important enough to label as sin. Reproduction is of the kingdom of the world. Its only place is within the evolutionary need to defeat death. It’s not perfect neither is this world. This is to Greg boyd, I can concede that homosexuality misses the ideal of the worldly kingdom, but it is still very much inline with th kingdom of God. It is not a sin.

  22. Everyone is missing Gods ideal. If you say that gay people are missing Gods ideal because a gay couple can not produce life than a person with aspergers or autism is also missing Gods ideal because they can’t do things that most people can do. Homosexuality is just as natural as autism. God created everyone different for a reason. Jesus never once said anything about homosexuality in the bible, so if it was not important enough for him to mention than it shouldn’t be a judgment that we should make. I don’t need to pull up random quotes from Leviticus and Genesis. These are not coming from the lips of Jesus. It was coming from the mouths of men who are born missing Gods ideal. It makes sense they would lie and distort things to fit their selfish needs. It seems very unchristian to even make such judgments about anyone of gods people. Btw, I have aspergers syndrome, so I know the effects of people saying its a disease that needs to be cured just like how people say homosexuality can be cured. Of course there are people in these groups who are sinners just like every other group in the world, but when you condemn them it brings you further away from Jesus.

  23. caucazhin says:

    Is that all u can come up with is ” that its not Gods best “. I guess we should just offer our childrens minds up on the alter of tolerance & political correctness ??
    What about the fact that its just plain wrong because God said it is, like pedofelia, beastiality and incest.
    Leviticus and Deuteronomy explain quite clearly Gods views about these behaviors. Forgiveness & repentance go together. Jesus didnt say ” go and sin some more “.
    This is where God sets HIS boundries so we dont destroy ourselves. They are ultimately for our own protection.
    God did destroy Sodom & Gomorrah and the 5 cities of the plain for this behavior at the top of the list of many other perversions. Scripture says God left it as an example of what would happen to nations that follow in its ways.
    America the pitiful and the whole western world is following in their footsteps.
    Even in Russia & China what most people would call Godless nations they understand instinctively that homosexuality is wrong. But guess what theyre slowly being influenced and enlightened by the very so wise west.
    In God we trust..NOT. In ourselves we trust, we the sheeple…of enlightenment.

  24. Denley says:

    Hi Bryan, could I suggest this thought?

    All of us are born with some challenge(s) whether be physical, psychological, emotional etc. When Christ met me, he accepted me where he found me and died for this me with all of it challenges and blemishes. However, I now must pursue the new me (or renewed me). In Colossians 3, it mentions this new me is found in Christ – a “me” that it is right with God as Christ is right with God. That is why Jesus says in Matthew 16 that I must lose my life to FIND my life. The undiscovered life is my hidden life or the hidden “me” in Jesus. This is to say, using the creation terminology, in Adam we are good but in Jesus we are VERY good. Jesus is the last Adam.

    Our aim as Christ followers is to recognize that we are “good” before we are saved. In the sense, that we are good because of the image of God in us, despite clothed in sin. However, God is calling us to be very good as Christ is very good – pleasing before the Father. This being very good is accomplished by having our image of God, clothed with Christ. It is interesting that God accepts us and loves us just the way we are. But then He asks us to change! The change – or better said transformation – is into Christ likeness.

    All of us long for the day as mentioned in Revelation 21 where God will wipe every tear from our eyes from the pain we endured with our challenges and being misunderstood. Until then, we wait for that promise of the final transformation, while we work on transforming ourselves right now by His grace. The paradox continues…

    I hope that helps.

  25. Pamela says:

    I think that the root of our disagreement about homosexuality is that I believe that being gay is like being heterosexual or being female, i.e. it is something innate and not chosen. Therefore, we can’t just tell the person that they should change. In addition, because I have real relationships with gay people I know that people are people are people. We really are all fundamentally the same. Sexual behavior that is based on harmful motivations can arise from either heterosexuality or homosexuality. Human relationships that are based on loving and healthy motivations can be expressed in homosexual or heterosexual behaviors. I have disagreed with my gay friends (just like I have my heterosexual friends) when I believe that their sexual behavior is not based on healthy thinking. For example, promiscuity is not healthy behavior for anyone. Focusing on loving and committed relationships of stable social value is healthy behavior for everyone and should be supported.

  26. Bryan,

    I like to take the analogy that both Greg and Bruxy teach in terms of God’s ideal being a “bulls eye,” one step further and visualize a number of concentric circles labeled ‘Good,’ ‘Better,’ and ‘Best.’ There are elements in homosexual relationships that are defended as good, but they are so because they contain elements of the God-created ideal. But you don’t “miss the mark” if you don’t know the “bulls eye” exists, but I believe once you are informed as to God’s ideal, then certain responsibility comes with that awareness.

    I use the Good-Better-Best language because it avoids the Right-Wrong dichotomy which often shuts down further discussion.

  27. caucazhin says:

    all this politically correct modern psychological dribble about “being born this way” is exactly that….DRIBBLE !
    its sounds like most of the cookie cutter, generic, homogenized, so called believers on this blog listen more to Lady Gag me ( Born this Way ) than the true and living God….” they have a form of Godliness with no power there of “

  28. Hey Caucazhin,

    I can speak for myself…I think our sin nature manifests in different ways (see Romans 7:7-25; Galatians 5:16-18), which leads to various of struggles that all of us will face sometime or another. Nevertheless, God asks us to ask him to resist through Spirit and grace (Galatians 5:18, James 4:7), so all of us are accountable for our behavior. Saying that… The Father knows our hearts.

  29. caucazhin says:

    DENLEY SAID:Our aim as Christ followers is to recognize that we are “good” before we are saved. In the sense, that we are good because of the image of God in us, despite clothed in sin. However, God is calling us to be very good as Christ is very good.

    The bible says there is no good thing in us and that only God is good. We have only a ( reflection ) of God in us thats why we need to be born again so Gods spirit can come live in us. Otherwise we are ” ( DEAD ) in sins and trespasses “.
    We dont come to Christ just to get our sins taken away so we can continue walking in the flesh.
    And Christs death at calvary alone cant save us. Thats just the beginning. ( LIFE ) is what we need and the cross doesnt give us life it only cleanses our spiritual temple so God can come live inside us.
    “If Christ is not risen our faith is vain”
    ROMANS 5
    10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, (( shall we be saved by his life ))
    We come to Him for ( LIFE ) because we are spiritually dead. Even though we feel very alive we are only alive we are dead to the things of God.
    So theres nothing about us being good and then becoming ” gooder “………………

  30. caucazhin says:

    sorry I meant to say..
    We come to Him for ( LIFE ) because we are spiritually dead. Even though we feel very alive we are dead to the things of God until such time we are made aware of our spiritual state and think about needing to make a change.

  31. caucazhin says:

    pretty self explanatory………
    The cross reconciles God toward us but not us toward God until we repent of our unbelief and recognize our spiritual state of death.
    We have to make that choice of life otherwise we remain spritually dead and “enemies” of God under His potential and coming wrath.

    Romans 5:9–11
    Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 ) For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
    11 ) And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

  32. Hello everyone,

    I’d like to take a moment here and ask everyone to relax and practice a lot more patience when you’re responding to comments on our web site. Some of what’s gone on in this thread is not okay! A few things we’d like to ask everyone to remember:

    1. When you disagree with someone, do it politely! When using online formats like this, it’s far too easy to forget to be kind to one another. There’s another real human being on the other end of the line, and chances are very good they’re your “kingdom” brother or sister. Let’s not be a dysfunctional family.

    2. At Woodland, we have always wanted to grant people space to have different theological opinions. Instead of jumping to argue with one another about topics here, try to learn about a different perspective than your own. You don’t have to adopt it, but remember to keep an open mind. One of our main responsibilities as a Christ-follower is to be loving. That may sometimes mean that winning an argument shouldn’t be your first priority.

    3. Hold your views loosely! Theological “rightness” is a terrible idol in our Christian culture — tragically for many of us, our beliefs become even more important to us than God. Pretty sure that none of us has it all figured out. Remember to interact here with humility and grace.

    All that being said, we hope our site can continue to be a place where people can discuss topics, learn from each other, and try to understand God and our world a little better.

    Charley Swanson
    Communications, Woodland Hills

  33. caucazhin says:

    go along to get along baby that what the pharisees did

  34. Paul Eddy says:

    Pamela and Bryan, you raise some very good questions. Here is our take, at Woodland Hills, on these difficult questions. We always try to begin where Jesus did – by rooting ourselves and our beliefs in the radical agape-love of the Triune God and in God’s revelation found in the inspired writings of the Bible.

    To take Pamela’s question: If we hold that the Bible teaches that homo-erotic behavior is missing the mark of God’s ideal, don’t we also have to hold to all of the Bible’s patriarchal teachings about women? Our answer would be “No, we don’t!” Here’s why. One of the most important questions when interpreting the Bible is: “How do we discern whether a teaching in the Bible is a timeless, trans-cultural principle, or whether it is a contingent, culturally-specific teaching?” There are several “tests” one can use to help discern a contingent, culturally-specific teaching, and one of them is this: “When the Bible talks about the issue under consideration, does it ever give inconsistent teaching on the issue?”

    In the case of women, for example, the Bible seems to give inconsistent instruction, and in fact points toward a Kingdom ideal where, in Christ, “there is no male or female” (Gal 3:28). However, when it comes to the issue of the expression of our sexuality, the Bible maintains a consistent teaching that human sexual intimacy/union has been designed by God to function as the unalterable “covenant sign” of the male-female marriage covenant. Unlike the issue of women and patriarchy, the Bible never wavers in this teaching.

    This also speaks to Bryan’s point that it is understandable why God would want sexual union to take place within a marriage context because of the procreation of children, but what about other purposes for sexual intimacy? From our perspective at Woodland Hills, through much of its history, the church has put such a strong emphasis on the “procreational” purposes of sexual union, that it has usually missed the equally important “covenantal” purpose. Once again, when one reads the Bible through the lens of covenant relationship, God’s specific covenantal purpose for sexual union is quite consistent. From a biblical perspective, sexual intimacy (which is purely “biological” and “desire” driven in other animal species) has been “set apart” by God in the human realm as the distinctive covenant sign of the male-female marriage covenant. And this covenant sign is an end-in-itself, it is not merely for the purpose of procreation.

    At this point, we see another important implication of the “two different Kingdoms” teaching that Greg and Bruxy emphasized. In the “kingdom of this world,” we are given various “identities” that serve to separate us from others and give us a sense of personal worth and validation. These “identities” separate us according to our place of birth (“nationality”), our family line (“ethnicity”), our skin color (“race”), our masculinity or femininity (“gender”), our economic standing (“class”), our sexual desire (“sexual orientation”), etc., etc. But from a Kingdom of God perspective, these “identities” do NOT ultimately define us or give us life as Christ followers. Rather one “identity” alone does that – our shared identity “in Jesus Christ.” That is why Paul can say “In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus!” (Gal 3:28). We are to submit every other worldly “identity” to the lordship of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.

    This relates to the question of how we can truly love a gay person if we consider homo-erotic relations to be sinful (i.e., “missing the mark” of God’s ideal). It is understandable why someone would have this question, for the sad truth is that, through much of its history, the church has scapegoated gay people and placed homo-erotic relations at the top of a falsely constructed hierarchical “sin list” – as though they were intrinsically worse than any number of other ways that humans “miss the mark” of God’s ideal. Many Christians treat this issue as though it was worse than (say) greed or gossip or 100 other sins that Christians tend to be guilty of and to minimize (despite the fact that most of these supposedly more “minimal” sins are stressed much more frequently in the Bible than is homosexuality). The New Testament doesn’t rate sins on a scale. In fact, it forbids it. And so, at Woodland Hills, we make it a point not to place homo-erotic relations (or any other form of biblical “mark missing”) in a special category. The truth is that our love for gay people who miss the mark is no different from our love for other people who miss the mark in other ways – including ourselves, for we ALL miss the mark in some way or another!

    Having said all this, it is important to emphasize that this sort of Kingdom conversation is best done in the context of personal, agape-love relationship, and should never be done out of a legalistic paradigm. When it comes to God’s ideal for sexuality, all of us are broken people in one way or another. And that gives us a place from which to enter into mutually loving, encouraging, and challenging dialogue together as Christ followers on how to live out our sexuality in a counter-cultural, covenantally faithful manner.

    (Teaching Pastor)

  35. Jason says:

    Pastor Boyd writes above, “I’ll end by simply reiterating Bruxy’s point that, its one thing to say that a behavior falls short of God’s ideal, and quite a different thing to say that Christians should try to impose a law preventing that behavior.”

    I’m glad voting Christians didn’t follow this horribly faulty logic when it came to murder (a behavior that falls short of God’s ideal), theft (a behavior that falls short of God’s ideal) or incest (a behavior that falls short of God’s ideal).

    Unfortunately, many Christians have followed this illogic with regards to abortion (a behavior that falls short of God’s ideal), divorce (a behavior that falls short of God’s ideal) and now, apparently, sodomy (a behavior that fall’s short of God’s ideal).

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"We have been podrishioners for several months. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids moved back to California after living in MN for 10 years. They attended Woodland Hills for about a year before they moved. Now we all go to the beach together on Thursdays, come home and have dinner together, then we watch last Sunday’s sermon together. It is a special day for our family."

– Dale and Patricia, from California