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FEATURES 04 Sexual Morality: A Culture in Crisis Sam K John

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07 Sexual Purity Peter and Sally

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08 Playing With Fire Richard Masih 09 Masturbation Bob Davies 11 Entertainment And Me Ajay Jacob 12 Struggling With Internet Porn? 13 Straight Out Of Proud MNCs Som Thomas 14 Homosexuality Can It Be Biblically Justified? Ashwin Ramani

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16 A Plea For Compassion Saji K Mathai

9 17 Soul Connec t 2

17 Rescued: A Real Story Katie


Editorial... Dear Readers, It is a joy to bring out yet another issue of SOUL CONNECT magazine. Thank you for your prayers and support. Challenging or rejecting moral standards is a fashion today. Post-modernists, in general, do not like to be subdued by any law or code. They subscribe to relativism, a concept that rejects the existence and validity of absolute truths. Everything is a matter of one’s perception and consideration. This is a dangerous thought when applied to morality. Moral relativism defines ‘morality as a culturally conditioned response.’ When ‘good’ and ‘bad’ become mere relative terms and are rendered meaningless, morality becomes a mockery. No surprise, a lot of people who belong to the Post-modern era see ‘morality as nothing but bull crap.’ At the turn of the 20th century, Friedrich Nietzsche muscularly rejected the God of the Bible and Biblical morality. He defined morality as “just a fiction used by the herd of inferior human beings to hold back the few superior men.” It is a known fact that Adolf Hitler was greatly influenced by Nietzsche’s ideology and that had awful results on human history. We the people of the 21st century, sadly, are not willing to learn lessons from history. We too are treading on a dangerous path when we reject moral standards for our life here on earth. When standards given to us by Creator God are rejected, the inevitable results are confusion and disorder. I’m afraid this is what we see in Today’s world. Sexuality is the most challenged aspect of Biblical morality today. Biblical commandments of God about Sex life are rejected as out-dated and religiously oppressive. A ‘no holds barred’ sexual permissiveness is the culture of the day. Sex is still an unsayable word for most conservative old timers whereas it is one of the most typed words on search engines by internet users. At Kingdom Friends Network, we believe that the Church needs to openly address issues related to sexuality. We should not shy away from holding aloft the Biblical standards. This issue of SOUL CONNECT deals with some vital aspects of Sexual morality. I prayerfully hope and desire it would help you Rediscover Holiness. Yours in Kingdom Mission,

Sam K John. Chief Editor. meetskj@gmail.com

Editorial Board: Joseph Devadason, Shibu K Mathew,

Soul Connec t Vol. 2 No. 1, Jan - Mar 2013

Purpose:

SOUL CONNECT exists to inspire its readers to live for Christ and His Kingdom. It seeks to apply the Word of God to contemporary issues Christians face in their day to day life. Also, it aims at instilling a passion for world missions. Permissions & Disclaimer: Contents copyright © 2012 by Kingdom Friends Network. Permission should be sought before publishing any of the content in this magazine. All information is published in good faith. The publisher and the editors are not liable for inaccuracies. Publication of any item does not reflect the official stand of the magazine. How to receive: SOUL CONNECT is published quartely. If you like to recieve hard copy by post, send us your postal address. For soft copy visit www.kingdomfriends.net This magazine is financially sustained by free will contributions. Account Details: KINGDOM FRIENDS NETWORK, Union Bank of India, Bangalore-43. Current Account no.: 522701010036531 IFSC code: UBIN0552275 MICR code: 560026023 Publisher: Kingdom Friends Network (KFN) is a registered religious trust (324/12-13/IV) which exists to glorify God by being a dedicated resource team committed to the task of awakening God’s people to advance God’s redemptive purposes. Email: contactkfn@gmail.com Postal address: Kingdom Friends Network, #7 Shalom Eden Rock Layout, Byrathi, Dodda Gubbi Post, Bangalore – 560077. Layout Design: Ensign Pixels Editing Help: Debbie Sunil Photos: ShutterStock.

John Jebaraj, Ashwin Ramani & Nalini Parmar.

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Cover Story

Sexual Morality: A Culture in Crisis By Sam K John

An ever increasing number of peo-

ple today see their sex life as a personal or private affair. When 87 yr old Tiwari, a former senior politician, was put to shame for fathering a son out of wedlock and then denying it, his unwitting remark was, “This is my personal matter. The country should not waste its time on this.” Tiwari was polite in saying this while many others are blatant. A blogger writes, “The quantity and quality of any individual’s sex life is a private and personal matter, and therefore nobody else’s business. If he likes his wife in a French maids costume,…or he likes his boyfriend in chaps, or she likes tying up strangers,… or they like sex in a sling, or anal sex, or with whips and chains, or only in a bed, or with a third, or in groups, or smothered in whipped cream, or no sex at all, that is all the stuff of their private lives, and no concern of ours…”

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People who subscribe to this belief candidly tell others not to burden them with traditional or religious moral standards. The only thing they are concerned about is ‘Safe and Responsible Sex.’ A reputed music channel in its website has a guidebook titled ‘It’s Your Sex Life’ for its young music lovers. The introductory note says, “Fundamentally, it’s your body and it’s up to you what you do with it. Remember that having sex is a choice (not just the first time, but every time) and your decision is your own.” The belief that Sex is strictly a matter of one’s choice or preference is a dangerous one. It inevitably fosters sexual permissiveness. For over four decades or more, the North American society has been the laboratory where revolutionary sexual experiments have taken place thanks to this perilous conviction. The traditional approach to sexual morality which was based on the Scrip-

ture and long believed to be essential for American society was set aside as obsolete and a permissive approach to sexuality was welcomed. The outcome has been catastrophic to say the least. “The United States Census in 2000 showed that two-parent families now represent less than 25 percent of all households in America, down from 45 percent as recently as 1960. Over the same forty-year period, the percentage of single-parent families tripled, the divorce rate doubled, the percentage of people getting married at all dropped lower than ever before, cohabitation increased 1000 percent (by a factor of 10), and the rate of illegitimacy (births to unmarried women) rose by more than 500 percent (by a factor of 5). But while this rise in illegitimate births is terrible, the actual rise in illegitimate pregnancy has been at least two or three times higher, because 80 percent of abortions in America (which are not counted in the illegitimacy rate)


are performed on women who are not married. No one keeps statistics on the rate of sexual promiscuity, but indications like these show that the rise in promiscuity must be epidemic as well.” Daniel Heimbach, True Sexual Morality. Sexual permissiveness in Indian society may not be as widespread as it is in some of the western cultures, but there are ominous signs. Consider this: A majority of the voices that vented their anger following Nirbhaya’s rape and killing were in fact voices against sexual violence and discrimination of women. The protesters and media deserve our admiration for awakening our collective consciousness in condemning injustice done to women in our nation. Nevertheless, what intrigued me was the unwillingness of the majority to relate this incident as an indicator of moral deterioration in our culture. Anyone who raised the issue of sexual morality during public discussions was immediately ‘shot down.’ The unsaid words of many protesters were, “Don’t preach to us about sexual values or code of conduct. Rape is unacceptable to us. That’s it.” Not long ago, along with rape, many other sexual behaviours were considered unacceptable by the society. Now, it seems the only unacceptable sexual behaviour is rape and everything else is a matter of one’s choice or preference. Indian outlook on Sexuality and Sexual behaviour is rapidly changing. Addressing this, Dr. Shekhar Sheshadri, assistant professor at Bangalore-based NIMHANS says, “The assertion of sexuality as a personal expression by today’s youth has nothing to do with their otherwise pro-social compassionate behaviour. The whole business is about treating sexuality as just another experience like going to different restaurants.” Sample also the following statements: “Sex before wedlock or even outside of it is no aberration today. I’d be stupid if I thought virginity was some kind of a virtue. My friends would think I’m someone out of the Bible if I accused a woman of being adulterous! So what’s all this promiscuity nonsense about? Who am I to judge anyone’s sexual behaviour? Why judge others when

everyone’s into it!” says Ruchika Pandey, 20 yr old student from Mumbai. “If two persons are into something by mutual consent, I do not find anything objectionable. After all, this has to do with the very basic instincts in men and women, and artificial restraints cannot make much of a difference,” remarks Bengali litterateur Sunil Gangopadhyay (http://www.outlookindia.com/ article.aspx?204376-1). One thing is

There is an all out attack on the traditional understanding of biblical sexuality by groups and movements which support sexual liberation and permissiveness. While outsiders are outrightly rejecting the Biblical standards of Sexuality, the insiders are busy revising and re-interpreting the Scripture to justify and foster those activities considered sinful by the Church from its inception. certain – sexual permissiveness is making inroads into our society much faster and bolder than many of us think. For the followers of Jesus Christ, the discussion above begs the question: Is Sex really a matter of personal choice or preference? Answer to this question will determine our sexual behaviour. First let me raise some more questions. Does it matter to God if I sleep around with others? Does it matter to Him whether I remain a gay or lesbian? Does it matter to Him whom I marry? Does God care about my marriage? Does it

Cover Story matter to Him whether I divorce my spouse and remarry another? Does it matter to Him whether I remain a virgin until marriage or not? The biblical answer to these questions is a resounding YES! God does care about our sexual life! He created man and woman his own image (Gen.1:26-17); Sex is God’s idea – it is a gift to us from the creator! God expects us to handle this precious gift according to His guidelines, not according to our preferences. In the OT, we clearly see God setting a moral code in matters of Sexuality (Lev.18:1-23). He strictly warned his people not to follow the sexual patterns of the ancient near eastern cultures surrounding them (Lev.18:24-29). Though we are no more under the Law, God’s sexual standards in the New Testament era remains the same (I Cor.6:12-20, 10:6-12). Biblical sexual morality has God’s holiness as its foundation and does not change with time or place. Unlike any other time in the history of the Church, Biblical sexual morality is now being challenged by people from both within and outside. There is an all out attack on the traditional understanding of biblical sexuality by groups and movements which support sexual liberation and permissiveness. While outsiders are out rightly rejecting the Biblical standards of Sexuality, the insiders are busy revising and reinterpreting the Scripture to justify and foster those activities considered sinful by the Church from its inception. I find the latter group more subtle and dangerous. Unfortunately, some of these people are in places of influence such as Church councils, theological colleges and training institutes. No wonder, many denominations across the globe are lowering their guard to accommodate several sexual behaviours which were unacceptable until now. Almost every aspect of Biblical morality is now being re-constructed to accommodate the cultural changes happening in today’s world. Sample these statements: “If two people are not thriving healthily in a situation, I say remove the marriage. Let them heal” (Amy Grant, Christian singer). “Failing to accept faithful monogamous gay and lesbian marriages, Soul Connec t 5


Cover Story many deny the work of the Spirit and put…Christians in danger of their Salvation” (Eugene Rogers, Theologian). Friends, what is at stake is not just sexual morality but also Biblical authority. Instead of the Scripture being the ultimate authority over matters of faith and conduct, standards are being changed to accommodate the world and its patterns. We have been warned! Some years ago, godly Francis Schaeffer wrote: “Accommodation, accommodation. How the mindset of accommodation grows and expands…Where is the clear voice speaking to the crucial issues of the day with distinctively biblical, Christian answers? With tears we must say it is not there and that a large segment of the evangelical world has become seduced by the world spirit of this present age. And more than this, we can expect the future to be a further disaster if the evangelical world does not take a stand for biblical truth and morality in the spectrum of life.” The Great Evangelical Disaster. Friends, do not be deceived. We are living now in a post-modern culture where every aspect of human life is seen in relative terms. We as God’s children, let us hold on to God’s unchanging truths. Here I conclude with the words of Apostle Paul, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” I Thess.4:3-8. Sam is an itinerant preacher based in Bangalore. He also coordinates Kingdom Friends Network (KFN).

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An analogy between the bonding capacity of the body and adhesive tape. Adhesive tape is not made for repetitive use. The strongest bond adhesive tape is capable of making is formed with the first surface to which it is applied. You can remove the tape and reapply it to other surfaces several times, and it will still adhere. However, with every application, some of the adhesiveness has been compromised. Finally, if you continue the practice long enough, there will not be enough adhesiveness left to make the tape stick to any surface. God intended that the bond between mates be the closest and strongest one they are capable of forming. That is why Paul makes it very clear that the body is not for fornication. Dr. Richard Dobbins, Homemade “When I was 10 or 11 years old, I told my parents I had homosexual feelings toward other boys. My parents said that they would support me in whatever I chose in life. Since then, I entered the homosexual lifestyle until age 60, when I received Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I’m 65 years old now, and the last 5 years have been the best years of my life. But I can’t help thinking about the wife I could have married, the children and grandchildren I could have had.” (The man walked away very sad.) As told to Zig Ziglar

For those of you who drive, if you must speed on the highway, please sing these...... 45 mph: God Will Take Care Of You 55 mph: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah 65 mph: Nearer My God To Thee 75 mph: Nearer Still Nearer 85 mph: This World Is Not My Home 95 mph: Lord, I’m Coming Home Over 100 mph: Precious Memories ALEXANDEE DUFF, when he attended the University of St. Andrew’s, had John Urquhart as his fellow-student, who devoted himself to the Missionary cause. The two were ever conversing on the subject of foreign missions, and were much of one mind. Session after session, as Duff returned from the winter’s study to the quiet of his Grapian home, he used to talk about John and his passion for missionary work. Duff ’s father admired the latter’s determination to be a missionary to the People of India. In 1827, when Duff returned home, to the surprise of his parents, the name of his friend John was not once mentioned during his conversations. “But what of your friend Urquhart?” at last asked his father. “Urquhart is no more,” said Duff, with the almost stern abruptness of self-restraint, and then slowly, wistfully added—“What if your son should take his cloak? You approved the motive that directed the choice of Urquhart, you commended his high purpose—the cloak is taken up.” Both mother and father were awed into silence by this declaration! Alexander came to India and served as missionary educator. Many believe that he was mainly responsible for bringing English education to India. Missionary Anecdotes.


Cover Story

SEXUAL PURITY By Peter and Sally

Sex is an area that many of us struggle

with quite a bit in our Christian walk. Well, God our creator who made us in His image (Genesis 1:27) is quite clear on how He wants us to live. What does the Bible say about sex and purity? 1. God is the one who created two different sexes (male and female), designed the sex organs and the act of sex. When He made them, He said it is “very good.” Nothing to be coarse joked or laughed about. He does not close His eyes when husband and wife make love. There is no shame in sexual nakedness in marriage (Gen. 2:25). If God didn’t want us to enjoy sexual relations, He would not have made sex pleasurable. The reason for this is because God wants what is best and pure for us. 2. Sex is a gift exclusively for married couples. It is one of the ways of love communicated physically to the spouse. The KJV version of the Bible uses the word ‘Benevolence’ which means, “It is a gift to bless or a gift that blesses” (1 Cor. 7:3). A gift can be given only one time to one person. It is not recyclable or gifted again and again to many people. 3. God says that marriage and sex is ‘Holy.’ That is why God compares marriage to His holy and unique Covenantal relationship with Israel and Jesus’ relationship with the Church (Hosea 2:14-23; Ephesians 5:31, 32). Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

The meaning of ‘Honour’ is valuable, esteemed, beloved, costly and dear. The Gk word ‘Amiantos’ is used for the word ‘pure’, which also means ‘unsoiled’, or ‘undefiled.’ This particular word ‘Amiantos’ is only used four times in the Bible. Thrice it is used for the pure and holy attributes of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father; the fourth is used for pure sex between husband and wife. What a great blessing the heavenly father has bestowed on us. Keep it pure and holy. 4. To keep us pure, protected, faithful and holy; Paul warns and exhorts us in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5. Note the words ‘own,’ ‘wife’ and ‘husband’ and not ‘rented’ or ‘hired’ or ‘leased’. According to the creation order in the Bible, God created only one madam, Eve for Adam. Even the kings of Israel were not given concession. Deuteronomy 17:17 says, a king must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. ‘Many’ means more than ‘one.’ God’s command for marriage is to become ‘One flesh.’ By becoming one with prostitutes or having extramarital affairs, we disobey God’s

command to become ‘One flesh.’ For Adam God created Eve and not Steve! 5. We who are made in His image worship a Holy God who says, “Be holy for I am Holy” (Lev. 11:44, 45; 1 Peter 1:16). We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 16:19). Every sin that we do is outside the body but sexual sins destroy our body and God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:13b; 18). It is God’s will for us to be sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) and there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity (Ephesians 5:3). 6. God gives sexual relations His blessing only when it occurs between a husband and a wife (Genesis 1:28). So drink water from your own cistern and enjoy God’s blessings and gift (Proverbs 5:15; 18, 19). Peter and Sally are trained Family Counsellors based in Pondicherry. They are part of FACT ministries.

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Cover Story

The word of God says, “Can a man

scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife...” (Prov 6:27-29). Yet there are hundreds and thousands of young people today who are thoughtlessly indulging in premarital sex. Kissing, licking, holding, embracing, playing with each other’s ‘private parts’ is a common thing. Some do not stop with that. They involve in intercourse, giving full vent to their sexual lust. The world, deceitfully, calls it lovemaking. There is

nothing of genuine love in it, however we may like to believe. It is sheer lust and sinful immorality. Some are wise. They go for safe sex. Men use condom and women take contraceptive pills. Others are foolish, careless or just rebellious. They end up with unwanted pregnancy. The boy escapes. The girl is left with a slowly bulging tummy. She is frightened of forthcoming public shame and humiliation. She is reduced to a bundle of tears and to a personification of total misery. She is panicstricken. If the girl happens to be a believer, the case is complicated. She is guilt ridden and conscience stricken. The father of the unborn child is nowhere to be seen. He has disappeared from the scene. She has to face the unsympathetic and condemning world all alone. There are people ready

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PLAYING WITH FIRE ! ByRichard Masih to throw stones at her, once they come to know (Jn 8:1-11). There are people who would like her to be burned publicly even if they themselves are guilty of the same sin (Gen 38:24). Worst of all, even God seems to be silent at such times. Or, at least this is what seems to her.

him names and make fun of him. She will undergo a lifetime of shame, guilt and loneliness, dying a slow death. For some girls all these options are unbearably painful. They opt for suicide, bringing further shame to their family. By killing themselves, they kill their child also.

Meanwhile, she is wallowing in the mire of self-pity and self-condemnation. She is confused, perplexed, worried and anxious. The joy of romance has gone out of the sexual bonanza in which she had willingly and repeatedly indulged. As a believer she cannot go for an abortion. If she does so under family pressure, then she is left to live a lifetime with guilt. If she gets married to someone else, she is confronted with haunting questions. Should she tell her husband of her sexual exploits before marriage? Should she tell him that she is not a mother but a murderer of an innocent, unborn child? Should she inform him that she has undergone an abortion? If she does not, she is keeping him in the dark and herself living in darkness. And, where there is darkness there is no fellowship (1Jn 1:6,7). If she tells the truth, her husband might dislike her, despise her, distrust her and even divorce her. Or he may still love and forgive her as he has been loved and forgiven by God…..but what is the guarantee?

The boy has escaped here. But will he escape everywhere? Forever? Never. The Bible says, “Be sure that your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23). If he has played the fool with one, he might have played with others too. Or, since this is his habit he will play the fool with others in future. Someday or the other, he will find out to his sorrow and shame, and his undoing that ‘blows and disgrace are his lot’ (Prov 6:33). His shame will never be wiped out. Even if he or she escapes from the judgment of men (because they have employed the worldly wise method of safe sex) they cannot escape the judgment of God. The Bible says, ‘For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly” (Prov 5:21-23). The same thing can be said of women as well. Today’s young men and women should read Prov 5:1-23; 6:20-7:27.

If she decides not to abort her child, she will be a single mother, forced to bring up her child all alone. The child will grow up without a father in this cruel world. He will grow up with lots of psychological complications and unhappiness. Other children will call

True, “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious” (Prov 9:17). True, “food gained by fraud is sweet to a man” but “he ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (Prov 20:17). Beware! “Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife” (Prov 5:20)? She is a future wife of someone. He is a future husband of someone. Don’t play fools. It is playing with fire. You will only hurt yourself permanently. Even if God forgives, you will still have to live with the consequences. Richard serves with the UESI as a minister at large, based in Delhi.


Youth

By Bob Davies

The

stimulation of sexual organs to orgasm usually done by self is called Masturbation. First of all, let’s destroy a few common myths about the subject. Myth #1. “Masturbation will cause harmful physical effects.” There is absolutely no medical proof that sexual self-stimulation causes any adverse physical symptoms, such as disease, blindness, etc. Parents sometimes use these threats to provide motivation to stop, a tactic which never works. Myth #2. “Masturbation is an uncommon problem, and most Christians don’t have to struggle with it.” Wrong! It is an issue most people have to deal with at some time in their own life, whether they like to admit it or not. My personal experience proves that Christians do have problems with it — conversion is no magical solution to any problem, including this one Myth #3. “Masturbation is mentioned in the Bible as a sin.” Usually, this idea is connected with the story of Onan in Genesis 38. Onan’s story has nothing to do with masturbation — he was killed for his willful refusal to impregnate his deceased brother’s wife, as God commanded him to. He was practicing “coitus interruptus”, a method of birth control. Some have suggested that “abusers of themselves” (I Cor. 6:9) and those who “dishonour their own bodies” (Rom. 1:24, KJV) are those who masturbate. However, a careful study of these verses shows that they are referring in context to those who practice homosexuality, not self-stimulation of the private parts. Myth 4. “Masturbation is my biggest problem.” This is a common reaction, and is totally untrue. Masturbation is only the outward act which is prompted by inward conflicts and desires. The things going on inside

you that result in the outward act are what you must try to deal with. Masturbation shows that there are inward needs not being met, especially when its practice is frequent and compulsive.

agement on our part. It’s just the way that God created our bodies as men. With women, there is no such need for physical release, and the desire for sexual expression is more psychological.

Physical Motivations: There are many possible incentives to masturbate. Part of the frustration for men is that, from a medical point of view, there is a legitimate need for release in the male. There is a continual production of semen in the male gonads, which is stored in two internal “storage tanks”, called the seminal vesicles. When these are filled, the sexual drive comes alive and the desire for some sort of release becomes conscious.

Emotional Motivations: In the past, God has shown me that at different times, an increasing problem with masturbation arose from a deeper cause: Loneliness. If you are not willing to be real with other Christians, you may succeed in appearing “together”, but you will be lonely inside. If we have a lack of self-confidence, the desire to be liked by others may bring us into bondage. It will cause us to act in ways which are not a true expression of who we really are. We may act out a role for the sake of acceptance by others. Even if they then like us, they are responding to the person they think we are, rather than to the individual we really are. This results in a feeling of isolation and loneliness. These emotions will encourage masturbation, to make ourselves “feel good”, to assure ourselves that we’re really OK and nice to be around.

We have to be truthful here. Some men are able to depend solely on “wet dream” night emissions for their release, so that ejaculation occurs during sleep with no sexual self-stimulation occurring. Other men find it very difficult to always wait for this automatic release to occur, especially when they know from past experience that it is still several days away and their sexual drive is strong. Due to the male physiological make-up, the desire for a sexual release can arise strongly in our mind without any sinful encour-

The problem is, masturbation does nothing to cure loneliness. It only worsens it, due to the fact that you are looking to yourself to satisfy your de-

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Youth sires. God wants you to look to Him first of all, and also to relate to others in the body of Christ in an open, loving way (no matter how frightening or impossible that may seem) to satisfy the deepest needs of your heart. Another possible motivation for masturbations is Frustration. If life is not as satisfying or as exciting as you wish it was, a sexual climax is obviously no permanent solution. Sex is an experience that God designed to be shared with your married partner. So, even though your flesh is being satisfied, masturbation is ultimately increasing your frustration, not decreasing it. Right Or Wrong? Is it always wrong to masturbate? This is a most difficult question to answer, and one that causes strong opinions on both sides. Perhaps the following summary will be helpful: 1. Masturbation is always wrong when it is accompanied by lustful thoughts. “Every one who looks on a woman (or another man) to lust for her (him) has committed adultery with her (him) already in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) This also applies to day-dreaming about an attractive person who you have previously seen somewhere. Job said, “I have made a covenant (agreement) with my eyes . . .” (Job 31:1) and we must do the same thing, to control what (or who) our eyes linger on. Anything which encourages lust must be forsaken — porn books, questionable movies, even TV programs and conversations which we know we can’t honestly handle. “I will set no worthless thing before my eyes ...” (Psalm 101:3) applies here. 2. Masturbation is always wrong when you are enslaved to it, and have lost your free choice. “Our old self was crucified with Him that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6: 6) Masturbation can definitely cause problems. For example, many think that marriage is the solution, although the truth is that the problem (lack of self-control) will arise again after marriage if it is not dealt with before. The way that you satisfy your sexual appetite in masturbation tends Soul Connec t 10

to “program” your sexual responses.

God created sex to be more than a release of tension. He wanted it to promote love, commitment and permanence in a marriage relationship. Masturbation lacks any of these things. 3. Masturbation is always wrong if you have heard from God personally that is sinful for you to do it... “To (the) one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) It may be that God is simply working on other areas of your life first, and will get those taken care of before speaking to you about masturbation. Don’t let your freedom in this area become a stumbling block for other Christians. For some, masturbation is the last habit of the old lifestyle that they stubbornly hold on to. They have stopped sex outside of marriage, but refuse to give up the old memories and fantasies that are nurtured during masturbation. If this is true for you, God is being blocked from doing further healing in this area of your life (your sexuality). You must put your hand to the plough, and do not look back any longer (Luke 9:62). 4. Masturbation is always wrong when you feel separated from God afterwards. There is only one thing that can separate us from God: sin. “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.” (Isaiah 59:2) Feelings are a hard thing to be honest about: you may be separated from God without admitting that you feel it. Ask God to help you to be honest and discerning about this. Conclusion: God created sex to be more than a release of tension. He

wanted it to promote love, commitment and permanence in a marriage relationship. Masturbation lacks any of these things. Refuse to be satisfied with less than the best. But don’t make rash promises about stopping forever. Live one day at a time and remember that God doesn’t intend for us to fight our battles without His help. Refuse any condemnation and despair — such things do not come from a loving Father. Keep your eyes on Jesus alone, for “if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).

Bob Davies, Former Executive Di-

rector of Exodus International, North America.

“I’d like to tell you about this ring I’m wearing. It is a promise ring, and when my parents gave it to me, they said it was to symbolize my commitment to wait until marriage to have sex. I can tell you right now, I will be waiting for that special person God has planned for me.” Rebecca St. James, Christian Singer.

Imagination is a God-given gift; but if it is fed dirt by the eye, it will be dirty. All sin, not least sexual sin, begins with the imagination. Therefore what feeds the imagination is of maximum importance in the pursuit of kingdom righteousness. D. A. Carson.


Reflection

ENTERTAINMENT AND ME! By Ajay Jacob

In 2012, two women in the enter-

tainment industry seemed to have dominated the perceptions of our sub continent… and boost the TRPs of any media content that discussed them – one in her ‘untimely’ death and the other in her ‘timely’ introduction. We are talking about Whitney Houston and Sunny Leone. None, they say, had a voice like Whitney. A person who clocked many first in the singing and entertainment industry and yet collapsed into inconsolable loneliness and was found dead in her bath tub. Her obituaries spoke high of her Christian commitment and much of her careless way of life with multiple addictions. In her legendary interview with Diane Sawyer, she was unashamed in saying “Jesus loves me, this I know” and yet spoke of her one single biggest addiction as “sex”. The fallacy of a generation of Baby boomers who thought that they got it right when Christendom assimilated the rejection of the Judeo Christian continuity of values and felt it convenient to say a one time prayer of repentance for a permanent multi point entry visa to heaven, that justified all indulgence, present and future, with the world. A wave of Indians suddenly had one destination in following the acts and words of Sunny Leone. Sunny Who? An Indo-Canadian adult entertainer. Adult What? Yes, a pioneer in a brand new industry that hopes to be socially accepted and respected – the Adult Entertainment Industry. Indians have turned the corner – the post Big Boss season 4-generation says. So what if a bunch of Karnataka MLAs were found ‘reviewing’ porn in the state legislature?

Prostitution is pejorative. We need to call this ‘oldest profession of mankind’ - Sex Work. Sex indeed works. Her career profile defines her as an adult entertainer, businesswoman and model. Well, sex as a recognized GDP supporting business has taken off full fledged in India – Why, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I recently met a group of women who were engaged in professional sex work, who were proud to say that they had their own PAN cards and fulfilled their

tax related obligations by paying taxes from their income through sex work... and they did this to make it a point that theirs was as honorable a ‘profession’ as any other. Heart wrenchingly I listened as one of them said “earlier I used to feel bad about what I was doing… but now I know that there is nothing wrong with this”. We have educated ourselves to listen to the spirit of the age and have forgotten that sex is something that God ordained to be enjoyed within the covenant relationship of marriage with our spouse. These bring us to an understanding of our times – a generation who find it convenient to do away with any need for moral absolutes (and in this for the absolute moral law giver) as long as the

triune God of our times – money, pleasure and identity takes center stage. We are a generation who has made it profitable for those who make it business to cater to the voyeuristic and immoral proclivities in us. We watch, get influenced, entertained and do that which occupies our imaginations and in these violate the spirit of God planted in man who was made in the image of God. Desecration?! Leone’s web page goes – ‘bisexual, although she prefers men’. We challenge the very basis of what we called knowledge about sexuality. Her achievements – ‘She was named Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2003 and was a contract star for Vivid Entertainment. Named by Maxim as one of the 12 top adult film stars in 2010, she has also played roles in independent mainstream films and television shows’. There is an entire industry bent on showing what she does, suggesting where you can get entertained by others like her, discuss other softer things like her hobbies, her favorite food, drink, and what not. But she also is a woman made in God’s own image – who ‘enjoys abstract paintings, horse riding, reading, watching The Simpson’s and the Discovery Channel.’ Each of these is woman – and He made her. And yet we do not recognize this. Because we want to be entertained. In Houston, we see this dichotomy reaching its ultimate end – loneliness and death. And yet as we read it, we see our humanness reaching out to Google and search Leone’s web page and search for Houston’s sexual exploits… cause that ‘entertains’ us. I did it! Ajay serves with a NGO, based in Chennai.

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Guidance

When things are out of control and you feel your normal life is being affected by your obsession with pornography, it is better to seek help through a trained Christian counsellor or psychiatrist.

It is seldom that one escapes the snare

of porn during the growing up years of life. A decade or two ago, porn had to be sought out in book stalls in the form of sleazy story books or erotic picture collections. Today, with the web invading our lives, porn has found an easy way to reach us. Sincere followers of Christ know that pornography is sinful and deceptive. It corrupts one’s mind and leads to addiction. Porn addicts constantly wallow in the ocean of guilt, hurting themselves and their loved ones. Nevertheless, they lack power to break the stronghold. Many say, “I have vowed a thousand times not to yield, I have fasted several times, prayed over it, but nothing seems to work. I fall again and again.” Many ask, “What must be done to overcome porn addiction?” There are no easy solutions. The following are some suggestions to help you in your battle against the flesh.

away sinful darkness from our lives. Identify root causes and take precautions. You need to identify the situations that lead you to porn. Some seek comfort through porn when feeling lonely. Some look for porn as a way of relaxation after a hard day’s work or study. Some take the porn route to drive away boredom or monotony. Ask yourself: “When do I feel like watching porn?” Identify your vulnerability and take precautions. Find alternative ways of relaxation. Find new stress busters. Keep yourself occupied and avoid being lonely. Channelize your creative energy into something useful. At times, you may need to be harsh on yourself. For instance, if your private net connection is making you vulnerable, disconnect it.

Pray continually. You need divine help to break the stronghold. You need more of his grace and strength. So don’t lose heart. Keep praying for deliverance. Claim God’s promises when you pray (John 8:36).

Talk to someone about it. Tell your struggle to someone who knows you well (and has the ability to keep it confidential). Struggling alone is tough. Open yourself to another believing friend. We don’t have to fool each other. We are all co-strugglers in one thing or the other. Share your struggle with someone and pray together regularly. It will help each other to grow and mature in Christ.

Fill you mind with pure thoughts. Your mind matters. Fill your mind with God’s word and pure thoughts (Phil.4:8). The more your mind gets renewed by His word (Rom.12:1-2), you stand a better chance to overcome porn addiction. Remember: only God’s light can drive

Seek Professional Help. There are times when a porn addict needs professional help. When things are out of control and you feel your normal life is being affected by your obsession with pornography, it is better to seek help through a trained

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Christian counsellor or psychiatrist. If you think you are not comfortable meeting counsellors in person, help is available for you online. www. exodusasiapacific.org, www.settingcaptivesfree.com, www.pornfree.org Prepare yourself for lifelong battle. Perhaps, you wish that one day you will overcome porn addiction once for all and become a ‘porn-proof ’ person. I have come across people who were instantly delivered by God from certain addictive habits. I believe in such experiences. Nevertheless, the experience of many sincere followers of Christ has been different. Porn continues to trouble many despite their longing for deliverance. Such need to depend on God on a daily basis and be cautious all the time. The struggle with pornography may be a lifelong one for you too. But the good news is, with God’s help you can experience victory day by day! Did U Know?

•12 % of websites on internet are porn •Every second, 28256 people are viewing porn •Every second, $ 3076 are spent on Porn •Entire world-wide porn industry is worth 4.9 billion US dollars. •2.5 billion emails per day are pornographic •25% of all search requests are porn related. •35% of all internet downloads are porn •There are 116,000 searches for child pornography every day •The average porn site visit lasts for 6 minutes and 29 seconds. •In the US, the least popular day of the year for viewing porn is Thanksgiving day and the most popular day of the week for viewing porn is Sunday! Courtesy: United Families International, 2010.


Cover Story

Straight Out of Proud MNCs By Som Thomas

A Christian executive left his job with

the Indian arm of a major US multinational as he was uncomfortable with the frequent celebration of public events for employees who claimed to be lesbian, gay or bisexual. He moved on to an Indian firm. At two other Indian companies, senior executives were similarly taken aback when I told them that my employer, another US multinational, was encouraging staff to join the its LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) employee network’s Indian chapter that had been inaugurated with guidance from the Indian branches of even more US multinationals. However, in future, Indian companies may no longer be safe havens for Indians who believe that sex has no place at work. In January 2013, the NASSCOM Diversity and Inclusion Summit at Bangalore provided a platform for homosexual IT workers and their supporting NGOs to present their case. This event, perhaps, had overtones similar to the ‘Out and Equal Workplace Summit’ in Baltimore, USA, in 2012. ‘Out’ means that one is public about one’s homosexuality. ‘Equal’ implies affirmative action for a minority who practice homosexual behaviour. An important word in the LGBT vocabulary is ‘pride’, to counter the shame that various societies, sadly, inflicted on homosexuals while turning a blind eye to heterosexual sins like adultery. Only Jewish-Christian scriptures speak clearly against same-sex intercourse. While Saul the persecutor became the Paul of peace through genuine conversion, the opposite seems to have taken place in Christian cultures: shallow conversions turned a few ‘Christians’ into persecutors, who have been blamed over the decades for violence against gays who were experimenting prematurely with sex just like the boy-girl friends around them were doing. The reaction from the gay rights movement has moved, over

many painful years, in the direction of an assertive, ‘Gay is good’, as activist Frank Kameny put it. With sophisticated story-telling about victimhood (suicides, even murder) through the media and movies, the Christian faith’s love theme has been exploited to enlist what is gradually becoming majority support, to the point of obsession, for minority sexuality. In India, persecution was by corrupt policemen using section 377 of the IPC, not by Christians who, today, stand unnecessarily confused by the Western narrative.

When corporates, who should be focussing on business, are pressured to say that gay sex (which almost invariably begins with casual sex) is good, and as the media and movies market sexual content, it is no surprise that morality in India, based on tradition rather than scripture, races towards a confused rape revolution. At the Baltimore summit, there was a workshop on ‘A Multinational Company’s Approach to LGBT Issues in Challenging Countries’. Another workshop was on ‘LGBT in Asian Outsourcing Centers: Growing Networks & Offering Benefits’. Both workshops had conservative India as an important target. It is an example of the power that the gay rights movement has over Western corporate thinking that an officer posted in Hong Kong and another in Bangalore – both Westerners, family people – were used to push a global LGBT agenda into the Indian arm of my company, when no senior Indian executive volunteered. To be named among the most ethical

companies in the world by the Ethisphere Institute, companies can gain points by complying with the LGBT friendliness criteria set by Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. When corporates, who should be focussing on business, are pressured to say that gay sex (which almost invariably begins with casual sex) is good, and as the media and movies market sexual content, it is no surprise that morality in India, based on tradition rather than scripture, races towards a confused rape revolution. ‘Diversity and inclusion’ is a major theme in many multinational organisations today. Such believe new ideas and profitability depends on having variety in the employee (‘talent’) populace. Initially, it was about people with disability needing special facilities. It was also about flexible working or other facilities that allowed women employees to fulfil their natural roles as mothers. Agreeably, these are welcome changes. Nevertheless, today, homosexuals are staking a claim under the inclusion label, superseding in India the myriad exclusions (and deaths) based on caste, colour, religion, region and dowry. It is an irony that at a time when Obama is challenging the Americans to learn from India about the sanctity of a man-woman marriage (though he has been supportive of same-sex relationships), many Indians are shedding their conservative attitudes to openly embrace Western approach to sexuality. My experience is that media and the authorities listen if Christians explain (nobody else will), in secular terms, how homosexuality is unnatural, and how India’s conservative attitudes to sex have been the foundation of its eminence as a knowledge powerhouse. So, let us raise our voices! Som Thomas is working for a multinational company as a Technology Manager, based in Bangalore. Soul Connec t 13


Quest

There are numerous voices in the

modern world which speak for and against homosexuality. But the Christian point of view is based solely upon the Bible, the word of God. A truly Christian standard of ethics is the conduct of divine revelation, neither of statistical research nor of public opinion. Thus Bible is the final authority based upon which Christian convictions are built. There are four main biblical passages which refer to the homosexual debate. Each of these Scriptural passages requires a detailed examination. Incidents at Sodom and Gibeah: The first reference to homosexuality in the Bible is found in Genesis 19:1-11. The outcry of wickedness in Sodom and Gomorrah had reached God. So God sent two angels to investigate the two wicked cities. Lot entertained those two angels in his house. In the evening the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and make demands to see the visitors. The important verse here is Gen 19:5 when the men question Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out that we may know them?” The traditional Christian view has been that the men of Sodom were guilty of homosexual practices. But D.S. Bailey argues that the demand to ‘know’ the strangers was just to be better acquainted with them and not a

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HOMOSEXUALITY: CAN IT BE BIBLICALLY JUSTIFIED? By Ashwin Ramani sexual desire. So the sin of Sodom was breach of hospitality. Norman Geisler points out, “While it is true that the Hebrew word ‘know’ (yadha) does not necessarily mean ‘to have sex with’ nonetheless in the context of the text on Sodom and Gomorrah it clearly has this meaning.” From the context here in which references to the wickedness of the city is made and Lot offering his daughters (Gen 19:8) to appease the men’s sexual passion, the sexual motive in the minds of the men is obvious. While twelve references to the word ‘yadha’ is made in Genesis, ten of those instances denote sexual intercourse. John Davis Jefferson says that Lot’s offering of his virgin daughters as a substitute to the men of Sodom is very clear that they were demanding homosexual intercourse with his guests. The second argument of D.S. Bailey was that the rest of the Old Testament does not suggest Sodom’s offence was homosexuality. References in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak of different sins of Sodom but never accuse them of homosexuality. The term Ezekiel uses to accuse Sodom in Eze 16:49 is ‘selfishness’ but yet it does not exclude homosexuality since sexual sins are a form of selfishness to satisfy fleshly desires. Eze 16:50 accuses them of committing abomination and indicates their sin was sexual. Jude 7 also clearly points out that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is sexual immorality. It is one of the main reasons why God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Similarly, the story at Gibeah in the book of Judges 19 is handled in the same manner. Here, a Levite and his concubine while travelling decide to rest in a house of an old man in Gibeah. Some perverted men of the city

demand the old man to bring out the visitors so that they may ‘know’ him (Jud 19:22). Again Bailey uses the same interpretation and says that the sin was not homosexuality but violation of hospitality. John Stott uses convincing arguments to prove Bailey wrong. He says that the adjective ‘wicked’, ‘vile’ and ‘disgraceful’ (Gen 18:7, Jud 19:23) do not refer to a breach of hospitality and the offer of women as substitute has sexual connotations. Thus in both Sodom and Gibeah, the men were guilty of homosexuality. On both occasions the sin resulted in God’s severe judgement upon the guilty people. The Levitical Texts: There are two references in the Mosaic law which strongly condemn homosexuality. It is seen in Lev 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman.” Again in Lev 20:13 God warns, “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” The offence of homosexuality as per the Mosaic law carried the penalty of capital punishment. But critics say that a strict adherence to Mosaic ceremonial laws will mean prohibition of eating shell fish or rabbit, against cutting hair, mixing different fabrics in clothing or having sex during the menstrual period. So they conclude that one need not take the condemnation of homosexuality in the Mosaic law seriously. Geisler argues that if we think homosexuality has passed away as a ceremonial law and is not a moral issue, then even rape, incest and bestiality will neither be morally wrong as they are condemned in the same chapter. Furthermore, homosexual sins among Gentiles who did not have a ceremonial law was condemned by God too (Lev 18:24,25). Also, one has


to keep in mind the severity of punishment for homosexuality which was not the same for eating pork or shrimp. The teaching on homosexuality repeated in the New Testament is another proof that it is still not done away. It is clear from the strong words used in Mosaic Law with capital punishment awarded as penalty for the guilty that God viewed homosexuality very seriously. Paul’s Statements in Romans: Romans Chapter One contains the most descriptive passages on homosexuality in the Bible. In Rom 1:26,27 Paul clearly speaks about homosexuality and lesbianism. Paul argues that God’s invisible attributes are manifested through creation. The people had suppressed the truth and started practising idolatry and indulged in the wicked deeds of the flesh. Because the people turned away from God, He gave them over to their shameful lusts which resulted in men and women having sex with the same gender. Two noteworthy terms used by Paul in v.26 and 27 are ‘exchanged’ and ‘abandoned’ indicating that a free and wilful choice was made towards the sinful practice. Thereby, adherents who say homosexuals are not responsible for their condition should think twice as they are contradicting the Bible. However serious arguments are raised by theologians who support homosexuality. They say what Paul is describing here is about a heterosexual sinning against his own nature by practising homosexuality. So they conclude that Paul’s limited world view and perspective made him to assume every person is a heterosexual. In reality, there are two categories of homosexuals – inverts and perverts. The inverts are those who always have a homosexual disposition and attraction towards the same sex. The perverts are those who are heterosexually inclined but still practice homosexual acts. The critics conclude that it is a sin to have sexual relationships against one’s orientation. So when an invert who is born with a homosexual orientation tries to change, he is guilty of committing sin. Secondly, another argument to these

verses are that Paul is condemning shameless, promiscuous behaviour of people and not a committed, loving homosexual partnership. But a closer look at the passage makes it clear that God is condemning homosexuality per se and not just the promiscuous acts alone. Above all, the wrath of God is kindled by not just the sin of homosexuality but the defiant attitude of glorifying in their shame which calls forth divine judgement. This is the same attitude which characterises many homosexuals even today. The origin of homosexual practices is not the social environment but the human heart which has turned away from the living God. When human beings walk away from God, the direct result is seen in the rise

The origin of homosexual practices is not the social environment but the human heart which has turned away from the living God. When human beings walk away from God, the direct result is seen in the rise of gross immorality. The very prevalence of homosexuality in our culture is proof enough that we are walking away from God. of gross immorality. The very prevalence of homosexuality in our culture is proof enough that we are walking away from God. Romans Chapter one views homosexuality as not just the violation of some Jewish code but the transgression of the moral law of God which transcends all cultures. Other Pauline Texts: There are two different occasions where Paul explicitly condemns homosexuality in his letters. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be de-

Quest ceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” The word translated in NIV as male prostitutes is malakoi in Greek and the word homosexual offenders is arsenokoitai. It is unfortunately combined together and translated as ‘homosexuals’ in the Revised Standard Version. A pro-homosexual scholar named John Boswell argues that neither term referred to homosexuality in the time of Paul. He translated the word malakos as general moral weakness and arsenokoitai as male prostitutes. John Stott agrees to the fact that the two words should not be combined as they have their own precise meaning. He suggests that the word Malakoi meant ‘soft to the touch’ and referred to males who played the passive role in homosexual intercourse. The word arsenokoitai means ‘male in a bed’ and the Greeks used this expression to denote the person playing the active role. It is very clear that Paul indeed is condemning homosexuality in all forms to the extent of being barred from entering the kingdom of God. Even if Paul may actually be referring to male cult prostitutes of those times in this verse, still the moral prohibition applies to everybody. The second passage where Paul mentions about homosexuality is 1 Timothy 1:9,10 where he says, “We also know that law is made not for good men but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God.” The word translated as ‘perverts’ in NIV is again arsenokoitai in Greek. The NKJV translates it as ‘sodomites’ and the NASB as ‘homosexuals’. The entire list of sins mentioned here is referred contrary to sound doctrine and the gospel of Jesus Christ. From the beginning the Bible uses very Soul Connec t 15


Real Life harsh terms in condemning homosexuality at every instance. Jefferson concludes very strongly by saying, “The Old and New Testament are unequivocal in their teaching that homosexuality is contrary to the moral law of God, and only the most forced and arbitrary modes of biblical interpretation can conclude otherwise.” The Bible can be twisted and hermeneutical principles can be flouted to force the text to convey anything under the sun. But if one has to be faithful to the Biblical teaching on homosexuality, it is obvious that it is very heavily condemned and there is no basis to claim that homosexuality is an accepted alternative lifestyle. Books for further reading: John Stott, Issues Facing Christians Today. John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing the Church Today. Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues. John White, Eros Defiled.

Ashwin is an associate pastor of the Centre Street Church, Calgary, Canada.

A touching story is told about an expatriate missionary priest who lived for a long time in a remote part of Tanzania. He lived alone, a single white man among his African flock. One day a British government official arrived on a tour of the area. All the African children ran out to welcome the visitor. They clapped and danced. After the official left, the children excitedly told the missionary priest, “We saw a white man! We saw a white man!” A few children said that the visitor was the first foreigner they had ever seen. The priest was amazed and exclaimed, “But I’m a white man. I’m a foreigner. I’ve been living here with you all these years.” One of the children said, “You’re not a white man; you’re our Father.”

Kumar, a 28 year-old young man who was born and brought up in a Hindu

family, came to know the Lord just a year ago. Fascinated by the warmth and love of the Church, Kumar started to grow in his faith. However, he always felt that he was not honest enough to his Christian friends and to the church. There was something that he had been hiding from them. Since his childhood, Kumar had been attracted to other boys and men. As a child he never understood this attraction, however as he grew up he started feeling confused and felt ashamed about his secret. Later he was able to connect with a few friends who shared a similar kind of attraction and as a result these friendships developed further. When he became a Christian, the feelings of guilt he experienced earlier in his life grew, given his belief that his sexuality represented one of the worst possible sins. This was despite the fact that he was not involving in a sexual relationship with any one, but continued to struggle with an attraction towards members of the same sex. One day Kumar decided to share about his struggles with one of his Christian friends. Kumar made the decision to share his story, believing that his friend would support him and journey with him in his struggles. Kumar and another church friend were walking along the street one evening when they encountered a transgender who was trying to collect money from people. This Christian friend passed a comment communicating how much he hated gays and transgenders. He also mentioned that God hated them too!! This friend then proceeded to remind Kumar of the Bible passages that explain how homosexuality is one of the worst sins. The friend’s comments shocked Kumar. He felt completely hopeless, and decided from that point on that he would never tell anyone about his struggle knowing that he was going to be hated, judged and discriminated against. Thoughts of him losing his Christian friends continue to haunt him to this day and hence he declines from sharing to his Christian friends. Kumar’s story is only one of the many stories that I hear from young Christian men and women from around India. The issue of homosexuality had been rarely addressed across Churches in India until the Delhi high court judgment, Section 377 of the Penal Code, brought into the spotlight the decriminalization of “consensual sexual acts of adults in Private,” including two persons of the same sex in 2009. Following this high court decision a few churches and Christian organizations started speaking about the subject of homosexuality. Sadly however, conversation about the subject was largely dominated by ‘hate speech”, discrimination and stigmatization of the LGBT community. I must confess that our churches have much to learn when it comes to dealing with the issue of homosexuality. As Christians, we too often believe that it is the problem of the “world out there”, or the problem of the Western culture. But the truth Continued on Page 18...

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Real life

The five girls on our team prayed

together before we left our home that afternoon. We were going into the red light district in Pune, where Joy has been talking and praying with the girls at a certain brothel once a week. About fifty women and girls live and work at this brothel. In that area of Pune alone, there are 15,000 prostitutes. I learned that 80% of the prostitutes are sold into the trade against their will. And 95% of their children also become prostitutes. And what about the remaining 20%? They are there out of desperation. Life on the streets is full of starvation, drug addiction, and violence. The surrounding area felt dark and depressing. My heart raced as we wove our way from our parking spot through the markets. I didn’t know what to expect that afternoon. I stopped when I saw seven girls sitting outside of a dark stairway. We had arrived. We greeted the girls and followed Joy up the narrow, old stairway. The edges of concrete steps crumbled and small stones bounced down the steps behind us. We slowly made our way to the top floor, passing doors on both sides of each landing. At the top was a tiny room where several young women sat waiting for us. The room was open on the sides and covered with a tin roof. Two of the walls were part of the building and the other two were made up of railings, draped clothes, and stacked suitcases. We took off our shoes to enter the room.

“As we walked back down the crooked stairs, men kept coming and going from the brothel. It was a wake-up call to me to see the lives that so many women are forced to live. Many of them come from their villages to the city in search of work. But all they find is chaos and destitution.”

Inside were a gas stove, some shelves, a bed, and a small shrine of Hindu gods beside a picture of Jesus. We did our best to make friends with the women and introduced ourselves in our broken Marathi. While Joy translated, Areli and I taught the women about how they are incredibly valuable to God. We told them they had infinite worth because God had created them. At the end of the evening, Joy had some news for us. “There is an eleven-year-old girl who has lived here all her life,” he said. “Her name is Monica. Her mother was a prostitute, but she has died. An older woman here has taken care of her since then.” Joy explained that this is very rare. If a mother dies – or is even gone for only a day – her children could be sold for that day or for the rest of their lives. “We get to take Monica from here to live at the children’s home,” Joy said, with a big smile. He had been praying for several years that the lady who ran the house would have mercy on Monica and give her a chance at life. I was so excited. There we were, about to witness a rescue from one of the worst situations on earth! But as we left that night, we discovered we couldn’t take Monica with us just yet. She still had to pack her bags. It was such a disappointment that we couldn’t re-

move her from that desperate situation right away. As we walked back down the crooked stairs, men kept coming and going from the brothel. It was a wakeup call to me to see the lives that so many women are forced to live. Many of them come from their villages to the city in search of work. But all they find is chaos and destitution. Tomorrow, we will return. We prayed that night that we would leave the next day with Monica. Today felt entirely different from yesterday. Today was the day when we would bring eleven-year old Monica out of the brothel, and into a new life at the Hope of Glory children’s home. In our bags, we carried snacks and treats for Monica, her friends, and the other women at the brothel. We wanted to have fun with them and show them that their lives were meant to be celebrated! We did our best to create a joyful, party atmosphere. Today was Monica’s going away party and the beginning of her new life! We sang a few songs and had a great time joking with the ladies and trying to learn new words. A little bit removed from us stood a mother with her three-year old son. She went over to talk to Joy for a long. Joy took out a pen and paper and wrote. “What’s happening?” I wondered. “I have some more news for you,” Joy told us. “Today, Monica isn’t

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Real Life the only one who will come home with us. We will also bring this boy, Akshay, as well.” It was Akshay’s mother who had been talking to Joy all this time. She had been in jail for a couple of days. She couldn’t even tell Joy what had happened to her son in her absence. She feared for his life. Giving her son to be raised at the children’s home was difficult. Tears formed in her eyes as she said goodbye. But this was the best thing for him, and she knew it. When the children were released to us, the woman who owned the brothel said, “this is the only good thing I have done in my life.” The rest of the night was such a celebration. We had a great time. Our feet were basically walking on clouds as we escorted the two children from their old life to the children’s home. Monica would not stop talking and smiling, even though none of us girls could understand her! It is really hard for these children to adjust to normal childhood. They need to learn how to be nice, share, play, relax, and love. Monica has a lot of school to make up as well. Thankfully, the few days we got to spend with them after they came to the home they seemed to be doing well. Praise God for redeeming the lives of Monica and Akshay! Our whole team was blessed as well by the experience and getting to witness the Protector, Father, and Redeemer characteristics of our God among many other awesome traits He exemplifies. Narrated by Katie, YWAM Madison DTS. Article republished from Ethne, Jul.- Sept., 2009.

As conscience grows more passive and the evil spirit supplies his guidance, some Christians begin to lower their moral standard - thinking they henceforth live according to a higher life principle, and therefore treat immoral matters as not quite so immoral any more. Watchman Nee.

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A Plea for Compassion...

Continued from page 16...

is that many adults and young people in India struggle with homosexuality. For many individuals, it is an internal struggle and such people may never act out on the attraction. However, these individuals are just as confused as the ones who actively pursue interactions with members of the same sex. You might never encounter this “invisible minority” in your church and in your own family. They may be part of your worship team, an active member in your prayer cell, and they may even be preaching from the pulpit! Whether Indian Christian’s like it or not, whether they accept it or not, there are brothers, sisters and even children who struggle with same sex attraction. They are often unidentified, because they fear that their Christian community will judge them as the “worst of sinners”. Some of you reading this information may not agree with the presented perspective, however, this does not discount the experiences of the many who struggle on a daily basis with homosexuality. Many individuals manage to lead a life without falling into sexual sin, while others succumb to leading a secret “gay life style”. One of the significant issues for Christians struggling with homosexual attraction is the risk of falling into temptation. This becomes even more significant when the person struggles in isolation, without the support of a trusted, accepting friend who is able to journey with the individual as they face some of the complex issues associated with living with homosexuality. There are small minorities who develop the courage to speak about their struggles to a pastor or fellow believer, out of desperation to get help. However, for some the struggle becomes more intense due to the judgmental attitudes of those whose support they were attempting to receive. Once the individual has shared their struggle they are being looked down upon, discriminated against and treated as the “worst sinner”. I know someone personally who shared about his struggle to someone else in the church and he was finally told to leave the church by the church elders!! Why is it that we tend to extend grace and help to someone who struggles with the “sin” of adultery, pornography, jealousy, hatred or bitterness and yet treat differently someone who struggles with homosexuality? What would you think and how would you feel if you came to know that your own son, daughter, brother, sister, cousin, or best friend struggled with homosexuality? Would you reject them or would you consider them worse than animals? Homosexuality is a complex issue, particularly for Christians. The focus of this discussion centers upon the attitude of Jesus and “how Jesus would react to someone who is in search of help to deal with homosexuality”? If the church is throwing stones at people from the LGBT community, then such an approach reflects the attitudes and behavior of the biblical Pharisees, a population of holy men whose responses to “sinners” came under the scrutiny of Jesus’ teaching time and again. Remember the story of the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8 and how the scribes and Pharisees reacted to the situation. Jesus’ response was motivated by an act of love and compassion, not of judgment or condemnation! He hated sin but loved the sinners. In our case, sometimes we hate the sinners more than we hate the Sin. My parting challenge to the church and the Christian Community is that we respond to the LGBT community in the true spirit of Christ, who gave himself as a sacrifice for all people- gay and straight! If the church continues to reject and discriminate against people from the LGBT community who are searching for help and love, to whom will they turn to? Where will our own children, brothers and sisters turn for help if we give them the message that they are the worst of sinners and have no place in the Church? The love of Jesus is the true answer for both the church and the individual living with such daily struggles. With God’s help, the community of faith can reach out to give hope to men and women who wrestle with homosexuality. Saji is the Founder-Director, JEEVANAM Trust, Hyderabad. saji4theovercomers@gmail.com


Every day, every hour there is some one crying From mental agony or emotional pain or physical distress Age no bar social status no bar The profound cry reaches deep and far Murder, rape has become such a commonality Exposing human wretchedness and fragility Heart wrenches as we hear even toddlers a victim Future beckons us with hopelessness grim Depraved minds, enslaved body, a life lost to lust un-bridled No fear of God, no love for humanity, a life that is messed Victimized they make others victims, Unsure of consequences they’re spoilt to brim Is illiteracy a problem or up-bringing I ask? Or is law and order in society that’s at stake What makes their moral compass so dis-oriented? What dampens their senses and hearts so hardened? The core of the problem is at one’s heart It could be a wellspring of life or where wickedness start Created and redeemed it belongs to God twice Why not offer it to Him to experience freedom without a price ‘Fear not’ the news that brings great joy has been proclaimed The world is full of trouble yet be of good cheer, He said, The Bethlehem babe offers peace on earth and good will to all That’s beyond any caste, creed, color or any religion. May we be instruments of God’s peace and care His forgiveness and love lets live and share To a hurting neighbour or a total stranger Coz’ that’s the message from the Bethlehem manger. Nalini Parmar New Delhi (Nalini, an IT professional, is married to Jonathan and they are blessed with three daughters.)

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SOUL CONNECT