Are Homosexuals Going to Hell?
Janis & I spent the weekend taking care of our grandbabies last weekend. The first night I went to the grocery store with my daughter, and she told me about some frustrating conversations she'd been having with "Christians" (she doesn't profess to be a Christian) about homosexuals, the Bible, etc. We arrived back at the house about the time I started to answer, and never got back to it, so here's my answer to her.
You asked me a question that I only answered in the briefest way, about homosexuals & the Bible, etc., that I wanted to answer more fully. I can understand your frustration about all that.
The first thing I would say is that it is unfortunate that people spend their time concerning themselves about all the people in the world that they are convinced are going to hell, when in my mind, as the scriptures say, "every man shall give an account of himself before God," meaning, to me, that "salvation" is an individual thing and not found in a book or in a doctrine or in an idea or in a behavior.
What that means to me, further, is that every person on the planet individually is accountable and responsible for himself, to develop his life into a life that blesses and helps others without regard for himself, or conversely, to be what most people "naturally" are from birth, i.e. selfish to the deepest core, and looking out only for themselves, and suffering from what the Bible and many ancient writers describe as pride, envy, covetousness, wrath, strife, etc. (which is "hell.")
The characteristic of a life of pride and covetousness involves primarily my having the ascendency over others in my life, in whatever way I can manage it. That means that if I can manage to gain power and ascendency over others (for my own gain -- whether that be material, psychological, emotional, etc.) then I will do so by whatever means suits me -- whether it's being a "nice, polite" person or whether I maim and rape and kill other people. Whether I kill a person emotionally (by demeaning their humanity and making that person in bondage to me) or whether I kill their body is not all that different.
So there you have, in a nutshell, for me what life is and what the revelation of Jesus Christ is all about. Either you are for yourself, and you continue that way, (even though you might appear the nicest, coolest, most-concerned-for-others person who ever lived -- if you do it so that people will think highly of you, etc. you do it to promote yourself, it's "self-for-self"), or, you look for some solution to get off the "life-for-me" train and find "salvation" by a complete reorientation of your inner life and become turned inside out, in that life is no longer in any way lived for your own benefit, but that everything you are is for the benefit of everyone else -- even for those you don't have any natural affection for or who might be considered your "enemies." (Jesus said, "Love your enemies and pray for those who despitefully use you, and persecute you." Who but a real saint could do that? And yet He tells us to do just that. He must expect us to be saints.)
God is like sunlight. Sunlight does not exist so that we can all go, "Oh how wonderful is the sunlight." It exists to give itself, expend itself, to in a sense "disappear" and in that giving, expending, disappearing, it reappears as life -- in a plant, in the wind, in animals, in human beings.
That's why Jesus said we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. Light blesses and enlightens. It lifts up. It shows truth. It expends itself completely without regard for itself to light up everything there is. When you look around the room you see a table, chairs, walls, etc. -- but what you are really seeing is light! But the light gives itself to in a sense "become" something else so that that other thing -- a chair, desk, mountain, can be "manifest" or "visible."
Likewise Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. When you put salt in something, what happens to the salt? It dissolves, gives up its individuality, and "salts" everything in the soup. The soup or whatever dish becomes permeated with "saltiness" and yet you cannot find a grain of salt anywhere.
And those analogies are pictures of God Himself, how He is, and then how He is when He lives in us in maturity. In our "maturity," which we can only find in God and not in ourselves, we live to give life to others, period. We live to be our true selves in order for others to become their true selves.
Now that's what the revelation of Jesus Christ is all about -- that we become our true selves through God's living in us and we find the fulfillment of our lives in helping others to become their true selves. (To live in self-for-self is a false self, not who we were created to be, and is torment and unfulfillment and pain and anguish, because it's like an unquenchable fire -- to be always desiring more and especially the things that others have and to be jealous when they have and we don't, and that is the foundation of hell. To never find one's way out of that whirling wheel of perpetually unsatisfied self-tormented self is the greatest tragedy in the universe and only by Divine Grace do any of us find ourselves rescued out of that death and into the true Life of love for others. Everybody loves -- its just whether that love is turned in on itself so that, even though imperceptible to ourselves, we love ourselves more than anything -- or whether by Divine Intervention we are rescued and our love is turned first toward God and then outward toward others in a way that is free from "scratching others' backs so they'll scratch ours." Love doesn't look for somebody else to scratch its back because its fulfillment is found in giving itself.)
The answer for a homosexual as well as anybody else is the same. People don't "go to hell" because of where they put their genitals, or whether they use cuss words, or for any other deeds. Hell IS self-for-self. Period. According to scripture, it's a condition that can continue after leaving this life. "Self-for-self" is the most subtle thing in the world, because we can easily convince ourselves we are loving or kind or helpful, especially if we can find others to compare ourselves to who plainly are for themselves, and we can comfort ourselves that we are not like them. That's probably why the Jerry Springer show is so popular. If there ever was a picture of hell (self-for-self), the Jerry Springer show is it, and it may be that people like it so much because those people look so awful on the show that they can look back at themselves and say, "Well, we're not THAT bad!" But scripture says "a little leaven leavens the whole lump," meaning that even just a little-bitty-bit of self-for-self taints everything.
But that's why scripture says "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." It's not just the things we do or don't do. We all have acted or continue to act in "self-for-self." It's in the deepest part of ourselves, where we are locked in to ourselves, to protect ourselves, to defend ourselves, to "stand up for our rights," to keep ourselves in the ascendency by putting others down. We live Hell daily but gloss it over with all sorts of platitudes and cliches and self-justifications.
So, to get back to the original questions, about homosexuality and about "believing the Bible," it seems to me that EVERYBODY experiences hell until they are rescued from above out of it. Nobody can free himself from the bondage of self-for-self. People do strive to get out of it, because many people do somewhat recognize this deep virus in the heart of humanity. But they mistakenly think that they can rescue themselves by whatever means, (good behavior, right thinking, etc.) and through their own efforts become godlike. And that's why Paul said salvation is a "gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast."
It's an affront to our prideful selves to say to it that it cannot improve itself or rescue itself. That's why we reject it. If you tell me I can find salvation by dragging my naked body over ground-up glass and walking on hot coals and if I am disposed to believe you, then if I can manage to do that I can be right proud of myself for having "attained" and pity all the poor unfortunates who didn't have my strength and fortitude to attain salvation like I did.
But the offense, and everybody is offended by this because we want to do it ourselves, is that salvation is the free Gift of the Spirit of Jesus coming into us and being in us that complete reorientation inwardly that we cannot in a million years do for ourselves. It doesn't show up overnight (one has to live possibly for years in "faith" trusting something "invisible" and suffer being a ridicule for others because of it), and unfortunately many who are called Christians never understand their own faith and what has happened to them -- so that they think it's solely about good behavior and acting churchy and going to glory when you die.
But the answer to your original question is that homosexuals need that complete reorientation in their inner selves by having the Spirit of Christ come into them by Grace and fill them with a heavenly life that is not of this world nor can be attained by anything whatsoever in this world, and to deliver them from the bondage of self-for-self. And it is also the answer for heterosexuals, too. Same problem, same answer.
You also asked about the Bible, and I know you question these people who seem to have this almost catatonic relationship with it, and intellectually it makes no sense whatsoever to you that any book, including the Bible, could be some "holy" message from above, anymore than any other book might be.
All I can tell you about that is how it has been with me. It was a book like any other to me for the first 20 yrs or so of my life. Maybe not like any other, but at least not to me as "special" as it was to others. I had grown up knowing the Bible "stories," but had not really read it too much.
When I first started reading it in earnest, during my Zen/Yoga days, I did it because the books on Zen & Yoga I was reading, which were directed at western-minded people, would constantly quote the Bible to "prove" that the Bible said many of the same things. And it does.
However, in reading it, I was struck by the fact that it also said things not said in other places, and made claims (including Jesus himself), that in honesty I knew either had to be true or false. People might have said to me and I might have thought that the Bible was not wholly reliable because it might have been manipulated over the centuries, etc., and all that is certainly true and possible, but it didn't quiet the questioning I had in myself about it. There was just something about it. Can't explain it any other way. And that "something" about it made it different, to me, from any other spiritual literature that I was reading at the time -- which included everything you can think of from Buddhist thought, Hindu thought, and even esoteric "Christian" thought (e.g., the gospel according to the Essenes). All those things I liked and got something out of, but they weren't the same as the Bible, even though at the time I was very adamantly intellectually opposed to believing it was "the" book over all the other books.
The day after I received Jesus into me, which for me was a going out of "myself" and a "death" to my intellect and pride, in a way I cannot explain to you, the Bible simply suddenly became understandable to me and began to "speak" to me with God's voice. Light came through the words. That's my story, and the only explanation about it I can give you.
I will add this. The Bible, like "salvation" as I said above, is individually known. Not that it doesn't have definite meanings, because it does. But the "Word" within the "words" comes from the Spirit of God, and only He can give understanding. I could never "understand" it, even though it challenged me, made me mad, sometimes enthralled me, until the Spirit of the Author lived in me. He is the only one who gives understanding, because HE IS understanding, and Wisdom, and Light, and Love -- and wonderfully over thirty years of time He has proven Himself over and over and over to be just what He says He is.
Ok, that'll teach you to ask your dad questions.
All my love,