C@6 Follow-Up June 26 & July 10

Posted on: July 13th, 2016 by E-Free Lethbridge

Church at 6!
Thanks for constantly engaging in questions and answers during our services. It’ what make church at 6 great, because we’re seeking out answers TOGETHER! Here’s what came in that still needed to be addressed after the past couple Q&A sessions at church.

June 26, 2016
Can you explain the difference between control and sovereignty in the context of how God works on earth?   

At best, the definition of sovereignty (according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is “supreme excellence or an example of it; supreme power over, controlling influence”. I think the last definition is a good description of what God wants for us.  He wants to be a strong, controlling influence, but He doesn’t intend to simply control.  God has the function of master designer-controller but not operator; that is left to us as individuals and societies to direct our thoughts, words and actions.

Is there bible study material to explain what exactly the role of the father is? Or, better yet, God’s role as a father? Or the role of an “inheritance leaver” with or without children, essentially how to properly serve (with practical application)

A great intro to the fatherhood of God can be found here at Otherwise, the greatest emphasis of God the Father comes through by Jesus presentation of His Father. His Father is the one who sent Him, to usher in the kingdom of God (John 6:39). God the Father is understood as the all-knowing, leading presence of God. When Jesus prays in the garden before his crucifixion “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.” (Mark 14:36)  There is also mention that Jesus, the Son, doesn’t know everything that the Father knows (Mark 13:32) and this would lead us to believe that the role of the Father highlights the characteristics of God like his omnipresence (all-present), omnipotence (absolute power), omniscient (all-knowing).

Other verses referring to the Fatherhood of God include (please read the the full context of each verse):1 Corinthians 8:6, Ephesians 4:6, Matthew 23:9, Psalm 68:5, John 14:9-11

What are the ways that Satan tempts us and how do you overcome the temptation from Satan to believe in God?

Satan tempts in a variety of ways, depending on the personality and “wiring” of the person.  I may face different temptations than you, but each of us are equally tempted. And what tempts you, may not tempt me.  What I do see in today’s society, we are regularly tempted (or torn down) with opportunities of selfishness, arrogance, self-doubt, exclusivity and consumption.

Paul in his letter to the Ephesians makes mention of one of the best ways to combat temptation. It’s a little convoluted in today’s culture, but Paul’s direction to the “full armour of God” (Ephesians 6:13-17) is useful.  This passage points us to God’s truth, peace, righteousness, faith, salvation and the Word of God.  In my personal experience, the best ways to combat temptation are by 1) the Word of God, 2) claiming the Truths that God has claimed on your life (ie. you are a child of God, captured by the salvation of God through Jesus, etc.) 3) the community of God (ie. the Church). The Church is hard to come to when we’re in the midst of temptation, but in finding spiritual friendships, we allow ourselves to be “known” and our struggles are shared with others.  The weight of temptation is lessened when we know we’re in it together.

July 10, 2016

For these July 10 questions, I consulted with several members of our teaching team to develop the answers more fully.  I wish to give credit to their thought processes and have added their names in brackets after including their thoughts.  Thanks everyone, Josh

Are transgendered / transsexual people committing a sin?

Evidently, there is a statistically significant percentage of births each year in North America where the biological sex indicators are indeterminate (e.g., internals different from the external, a mixture of the two). As a result, the parents, in consultation with the medical experts, are normally expected/forced to make a decision on behalf of their child: one or the other. What if the choice made by the parents does not match the immaterial characteristics (e.g., emotions, psychology and other gender-related aspects) that are as influential as the physical characteristics in determining the orientation of the individual?

What if the parents refuse to make the decision for the child at that early stage and allow the child to grow up a while with these indeterminate characteristics? How should we treat such a person? What if, as one reads the unfolding drama of Scripture, the binaries that we normally placed on things like gender do not actually hold (e.g., move from simplicity in Genesis to the diversity in Revelation)?

If we do retain our binary at least as it relates to gender based on a reading of Genesis does that hold for race too (i.e., what God created in Eden is the ideal)? So, what if, in answer to the question above, the parents of intersex/trandsgendered/transexual children make the wrong choice and the child chooses to reverse that choice? Is that a sin? (Scott Currie)

My argument was that we live in a world broken by sin and that affects us physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. So, due to our broken state, we have to allow for at least a mis-match between our felt gender and our physical sex. Then the question becomes, how do we achieve wholeness? Change the physical to match the ‘mental?’  Or change our mind to come to peace with the physical? I think we’re assuming the physical is ‘right’ and we just have to come to peace with that. But what if the mental is ‘right?’

Even to make a separation between ‘physical’ and ‘mental’ is too simplistic: the ‘physical’ involves more than just the sex organs but also genes and hormones. So it’s not just about feeling mis-matched. (Jeremy Light)

The early church, in many ways, was on the outside looking in. Today, many Christians are within influential spheres such as government, business owners and leaders within the community. Are we still called to be “radically different” like the early church was?

Yes, we are still called to live “radically different” when the application is directly pulled from Jesus teachings & God’s Truth. No matter where our place in society is (on the margins or at the centre) when the teachings of Jesus oppose the societal norm, the difference we live out should be in stark contrast to it (or, what could be defined as radical –though the connotations of being “radical” is rapidly changing in a society where “radicals” now act out in violence — which is counter to the teachings of Jesus) (Josh)

There is a massive assumption made. The assumption is that if a person is a Christian and if that person holds a position of influence, that person will automatically use her influence for Christian ideals. We still must  hear the call of Romans 12:1,2 to resist any and all pressures exerted by secular culture to fit its mould. Christians can use their roles in society for good at any level, it just can’t be assumed which means that YES, we are still called to live with the Gospel at the ROOT of our lives.(Scott Currie)

I would recommend The Lost History of Christianity as a historical example of what this could look like. (Jeremy Light)

Is there possibility for sexual immorality inside heterosexual marriage?

Yes! Just because we have entered into a marital covenant, this does not mean we are protected from sin inside that marriage.  Whether it has to do with respect to your marital partner, your attitudes or behaviours towards them or your habits in addition to your marital covenant (the use of porn or lustful practices), immorality is something to consistently guard against. (Josh)

In addition to the active sin (e.g., sexual abuse) there is also the passive sin (e.g., withholding sex as a tool). (Scott Currie)

Many would argue that we are becoming more sexually impure now than ever before (gay rights, transsexual, asexual, agendered) Is our culture comparable to the pagan culture? Or are we truly going further and further away from some idea of sexual purity. And if so, how do we continue to stand firm?

The state of society’s sexual purity, or lack there of it, is highly subjective. From what I’ve been exposed to, with regards to historical sexual practices (across numerous societies and ages), the sexual practices can be equally as shocking or confounding.  To say that our culture is comparable to pagan culture is to say that we understand the fallenness of humanity, no matter the time or space in history.

To stand firm, we must hold firmly to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus taught the hard things. So much so that his disciples, with regards to Jesus’ teaching on marriage, said “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10).  To stand firm, with regards to purity, means to be clinging to practices that help Jesus followers to stay pure; guard your heart and how you share yourself with others, guard your mind and the things you place there or think about and guard your body and how you use it in physical and sexual ways.

If all religions teach the same thing about sex, why should one choose Christianity over any other?

Because if Jesus is who He says He is, then He is THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life. These are absolute statements that direct us beyond what other religions promise and reveal the inheritance of the kingdom of God through Jesus. Furthermore, what I found this week as I researched, is that many religions teach on the destructiveness of delinquent sexual behaviour in western culture but they do not teach the EXACT same approach to sexual ethic that Jesus and the scriptures teach.  See examples here:

Buddhism: Link 1 / Link 2

Hinduism: recommended self-research given the graphic nature of some Hindu pictures depicting gods and goddesses. Overview: Hinduism acknowledges bi-sexual attributes in creation and condemns the selfish use of sexual practices.

Any worldview must provide answers to the questions that humanity is asking and must accurately account for truth (or whatever position it takes on the reality of truth).  The most important question is what a religion says about our origin, our destiny, and our situation. This is where we see crucial difference which is what you pointed out. In general, we must understand that our sexuality is just one aspect of our lives that plays a part in who we are. (Scott Currie)

What of the people who were taken advantage of sexually? Have they sinned? Is it possible to sin against your will?

In my understanding of Jesus teachings, they have not sinned. They have been sinned against by the actions of a perpetrator. Isaiah 1:23 and James 1:27 both refer to God’s disdain for the vulnerable being taken advantage of and His call on us to protect and provide for those being sinned against.

One of the questions that came up in discussions with peers was “what does it mean to be taken advantage of sexually?” This question arises because if someone feels pressure from their partner sexually and gives in rather than standing up for their values, I would push back and say that is not “being taken advantage of”. We need to make sure we are emphasizing standing up for Jesus in all our life regardless of how hard it is and just because it is hard doesn’t mean it is not possible. If, however, being taken advantage of means that there is no consent given, or sexual advantages are forcibly taken, then we understand that the victim cannot. (combined Josh Raine & Scott Currie)

If we teach on purity/holiness, does the E-Free church teach modesty in dress code?

Modest dressing is an aspect of Romans 14 (what is right to someone might not be right to someone else). This is one area that can lead to legalism if one is not careful. Romans 14 gives room for us in these sorts of matters but ultimately each of us must hold our convictions as before God. There is room, however, for those of us who would view ourselves as mature in the faith to make our choices not based on our freedom but based on what might cause the weaker ones to stumble. That is a spiritually mature orientation. To be clear, it is NOT telling others that they should dress with weaker believers in mind but rather choosing to dress ourselves with weaker believers in mind. (Scott Currie)

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