Thursday morning marked my third trip to the gay village. John B., Ian C. and I prayed beforehand. I had not talked to anyone on my first two trips and was feeling nervous (yet eager). We prayed for the Lord to open doors and he answered our prayers. Now these were very interesting doors which opened! I was at a coffee shop and sat down near a man who was getting some shelter from the rain. I talked to him about the weather and his roller blades (which he was wearing) . . . I am currently planning on buying a pair. However, it became apparent that he thought I was a guy blogging about life in the gay village with some kind of political agenda (in conjunction with some television program and events going on in South America). The more I told him I was not that guy, the more he was convinced I was, so I stopped talking. Surprisingly, he started asking me questions (even my first and last name . . . he had some suspicion about me) and naturally we ended up talking for over an hour and a half or so! Indeed, the Lord opened doors.
Once he was convinced that I am not that guy (whoever he is), we began to talk about other things, including his life . . . but what he shared was mainly by his own initiative. I felt awkward asking him personal questions in light of the fact that he had already rebuked me for asking him too many questions and he thought I may be some kind of undercover reporter for some TV program. Whatever the case, I am thankful for the opportunity to meet this man who is created in the image of God.
Though we talked about many things, when he found out that I was training to be a Baptist pastor, he had some questions for me. Now, at first, he thought I was gay, but later he learned that I am not. I explained how the Bible is my authority and that it is the Word of God. He responded by suggesting that it must be polluted and altered since it has come into the hands of men. I had the pleasure of informing him that this simply is not the case. I was thankful for the opportunity to tell him about the reliability of the Scriptures (at least from a historical standpoint) and the quality of many current English translations. He knows a couple of languages himself. I was able to help him to see that though subtle nuances often get lost in translation, the central meaning is definitely translatable. This is the presupposition upon which all translation work rests.
I explained to him that though I am not a scholar in the original languages, three years of Greek and two years of Hebrew has taught me that we have some really good English translations. He was very interested in the reliability of the Scriptures and in the quality of current English translations. He seemed to believe the things I shared with him, for he said, “I have never really looked into these things, but you have, you are my authority on this right now until I look into it further, that is, if I do.”
Since I have some experience of working from the original languages, he wanted to know about the way I interpret the “natural and unnatural relations” spoken of in Romans 1. He told me that this passage is interpreted differently in the gay village and that it is an area of debate. Now, keep in mind, this man grew up Protestant, he is biblically literate, and enjoys conversing about these things. How would I respond? I felt nervous, but by the grace of God, I told him that most of the English translations do a good job here. I told him that this passage contains a list of sins which display God’s judgement. In other words, homosexuality is not the only sin in the list. He found this interesting and expressed his frustrations with the “demonizing” of one sin over the others in the list. I agreed that it is wrong to be selective about these things, and to ignore the other sins listed, such as envy, pride, etc.
By the grace of God, I explained that Scripture condemns everything in that list, and that the list shows us that the world is messed up. We are all messed up. I explained that I have my sins too (which are also stated in that list) and that I feel shame for my sin. However, these sins are all wrong (that is, they are all offensive to God). He understood what I was saying and was glad that I was consistent and not selectively bashing the sin of homosexuality. I explained that I am not gay but that I enjoyed meeting him.
At the end of our conversation I told him that the Bible is the authority for all people, in all places in all times. However, I am still unsure if he really understood what I was saying. May the Lord help me to learn how to do a better job of interacting with his worldview and talking about absolute truth and how the Bible can be understood and interpreted objectively and accurately as the revelation of God and thus our rule for life. May the Lord help me.
Though I was not able to preach the cross, I am thankful for the opportunity to meet this man who is created in the image of God and to speak the truth in love. I hope to see him again. I am thankful for John Bell’s continued encouragement not to give up. I am thankful to God for opening these doors.