Hey folks.  Today I’m going to start something of a blog dialogue with Michael L. Salinas’ admirable first podcast.  You can get your own copy here, and while you’re there, please check out his article here, and while you’re there read some of his other excellent posts.  I’m not sure whether or not God plans for this young man to enter the ministry, but he will certainly be a light wherever he goes as long as he continues to abide in Christ.

As far as format goes, I am going to listen to his podcast and comment as we go.  That would probably be the best way to follow along at home.

00:32 Hooray.  I look forward to more podcasts to come.

04:00 I wholeheartedly agree and it is a critical point.  Homosexual activity (I try not to say “homosexuality”) is a sin, but it is not a special or super-evil sin.  It is just one of a thousand kinds of human imperfection.  There are lists.  See: Leviticus.  I try and make the distinction always because in the culture homosexuality has come to mean the sexual attractions and not the behavior.

05:15 Homosexuality, I think, has the response that you mention for a simple reason that is going to be very difficult to change.  It is very easy for us to talk about temptations that are familiar to us.  There is a degree of comfort, if not acceptance, to the sins we have had rattle around in our brain pans for most of our lives.  But when we come across a temptation that we have not experienced, the innate compassion is not there, because it has never been one of our passions.

06:00 Talking about your desires for a different future and your daily struggles, I would be less than kind if I didn’t take a moment to remind you that there is hope and help in Christ.  Not only do you have the love and presence of Christ, but one of the (if not the) oldest ex-gay ministry in America is Lutheran, and it is called Keys Ministry.  Both the director I first met (Pastor Rodel Eberly), the current director Karen Hart, and up-and-coming sidekick Bruce Burns have all lived in homosexuality to one degree and another and found deliverance from it.  The Keys program is here to help if you want (Karen’s swamped right now but she’s given me the OK to start working through the program with people).

06:25 and later.  I love your first point that we aren’t promised an Earthly deliverance from our struggles.  Amen!  Amen!  But we can pursue fellowship with God, and we can pursue purity in the face of our struggles.  Those are perfectly achievable and available because of the grace and promise of Christ who loves us so much.

08:30 Amen again!  God saying no is not the end of the world.  He has grace.  Also, he has others who can come alongside with help, hope, and experience.

10:00 Amen!  Christ bears it with us, intercedes with us.  I loved the Hebrews reference to Christ as our perfect High Priest.  Excellent point!

10:45 Simul Justus et Peccator.  Excellent explanation of salvation through grace and our ongoing life as saint and sinner.  Very good cover of the basics on this one!

12:30.  The Christian life is not based on our not sinning.  It’s entirely based on what God has done for us.  But this is the second time that I’ve come across what sound like two alternatives, either works righteousness or the ongoing suffering under grace.  Trusting in God’s grace is the bedrock, but there is still hope for healing, help, and improvement.  The church abounds with support groups like alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, et cetera, places where fellow strugglers share what they’ve learned.  Your point is absolutely vital and valid, and relying on works righteousness as a measure of salvation leads only to despair.  But it isn’t a binary system, and more resources.

14:00 and on: Excellent review of Romans 7, following up with the simul point, but it does still sound binary.

16:25-16:30 “This isn’t something that I can control, per se.”  I really disagree with this point.  While the Christian life is not about sinning less (that’s a side effect of our Old Man’s terminal case of Holy Spirit cancer), there is a choice other than being stuck.  For decades now, solid, confessional Lutherans have found victory over their homosexual struggles, and then turned around and helped others with their own struggles.  This is exactly what Jesus prescribes in Matthew 7: 3-5

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

And again since you have been speaking of burdens and afflictions with Paul’s thorn, let us also look at what Paul says about afflictions in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

But again, I can only show you the door, and let you know that there are those out there who have overcome homosexuality and are ready and willing to help their fellow strugglers in keeping with God’s Word and the mutual pursuit of purity and steadfastness in Christ.  Simply because we cannot perfectly attain these things here on Earth before we are made perfect in Christ in heaven, neither are we condemned to mere suffering.  Christ comforts and gives us others to comfort us.

16:38  Amen!  Homosexual attractions are not a choice any more than heterosexual attractions are a choice.  Amen!

17 and on.  I really shudder at the comment that God can make some people homosexual.  It may seem that we’re being kind and gentle allowing for that possibility, but we are in effect contradicting scripture in James 1:13-15, because if God “made me gay” then my temptations are his doing.  More than that, the science just isn’t there, which NARTH covers in some depth here.  This goes against Sola Scriptura for me.

17:14 AMEN!  It bears re-typing.  1] IT (homosexual activity) is still a sin.  2] Christ still died for that sin.

18:45.  “The Christian life is not about sinning less.  The Christian life is about daily repentance.”  Yes, but by this repetition of the excellent point, I think it’s fair to point out the difference between what addiction counselors would call transitory guilt and true repentance.  Transitory guilt is the stereotypical image of a drunk hugging a toilet bowl, violently ill and calling out to Jesus to help him, but when God gets him through his alcohol poisoning, he does nothing to turn the behavior around.  He does not avoid the bar.  He does not seek help. He simply stands there in the same place in his life, and is in effect perfectly set up for whatever drove him to the sin of drunkenness to take him out all over again.  But our identity and relationship in Christ are based solely on grace, the inevitable fruit of that grace is progress.  Romans 3-5 paints us a beautiful picture of points you know and make so well, that our identity and position in Christ is entirely by his grace attained through our faith.

But we must not forget Romans 6, the crystal call to stop sinning, Romans 7, the admission that we won’t get it perfectly right, but that does not nullify the rectitude of the call to repentance, and Romans 8 the hope we have in the grace that sustains us in the love of Christ.  I won’t quote the entire chapter here though I cite it all.

Again in 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 simul is the perpetual struggle upward, the redefinition of our selves in Christ is followed by a call to action.  The action is not our identity in Christ, as works righteousness would dictate.  But neither can a truly faithful heart keep itself from attempting to obey.

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15.

21:00 Exellent, you got to Romans 6.

23:30  I appreciate your point and following explanations in your third point.  The lists in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and in Revelation 22:15 include many other sins along with sexual immorality, both hetero- and homosexual.

26:30 Amen!  A pastor I worked with constantly cited Romans 3:23-24.  That is ultimately the key to compassion and love, because the more we acknowledge our own need of the cross, the more we are able to extend that grace to other sinners who need the same cross.

27:10  Excellent and brutally honest point that “Your sin is worse” is a faith killer.  Whoever sins transgresses against the entire law.

28:30 You talk about struggling with homosexuality, and have commented before about how terrible it is that you can’t discuss your temptations or battles.  There are people who can offer hope with homosexuality, and places where you can discuss your temptations and battles.  Not every parish is ready to handle homosexuality.  But there are ministries like Keys Ministry and others.

I love your points around 30 minutes in.  But do you believe them enough to act on them?  I feel like you’re sort of demanding one of two options, that your immediate church suddenly is able to handle this well (beautiful ideal but impractical in the short term) or that God give you a magic whammy fix-it.  If it is something that involves hard work, vulnerability, accountability, and a long time, would that not be an answer to those prayers?  I’ve been working with Keys for myself for 10 years off an on, and steady for the past 4 years now.  It has been amazing, and a true blessing.  There is not time here to tell you some of the victories that I have experienced.

32:30 If people are afraid to tell you their sins, yeah, that’s deadly.  Aren’t we glad that the Lutheran Church still has the option of private confession when society or our own situations mean that we can’t discuss openly what we wish we could?  And isn’t it a great blessing that the Holy Spirit interprets our prayers with groans deeper than words, so that if we simply tell a fellow believer we stand in need of prayer, the Lord to who they pray knows exactly what their prayer, offered in ignorance of our details, pertains to and can apply it with great effect?!  SO COOL.  I love being a Lutheran, and I love my Lord who works marvelously.

I’m sorry, Michael, but I only got this far before I ran out of time.  I’ve spent about an hour working on this feedback so far, but I have to vote and another 10-hour shift tomorrow.  I really need to get some sleep.  If you will indulge me I will try and get the rest of my feedback to you tomorrow.