Started drafting from 20120127
I have a colleague who asked me for my views as the church in Philippines condemned homosexuality straight-on. That time, I told him, ‘Homosexuality comes from not being able to love other kinds of people.”
The book of Romans is Paul’s exposition of the fully-equipped gospel <Ro 1:11,16>. It starts with the claim that God’s divinity can be seen and all men are without excuse <Ro 1:20>. All men knew God, but they compromised about the absoluteness of God, choosing to believe what deemed more logical to their ears, and their thoughts became darkened <Ro 1:21>. Therefore, men became flesh to seek to contain their self-identity, i.e. they start to love themselves. They compromise themselves to and chase after the world, thinking it wise, in order to add value to an unbalanced and inferiority complex, i.e. they cannot find completeness in themselves <Ro 1:23>. All these happen because they cannot find the love of God.
The passage then continues on to <Ro 1:24-1:27>, which talks about homosexuality, Paul then ended the chapter with men’s depravity of the heart and all wickedness done to men. Some people may deny that the above passage ever says this, but let me explain why the start of Romans has to talk about men loving men, and why this has to be part of Romans, a book that explains the gospel undeniably to a wonder and great extent. So, please hear me out.
Why does God convict Paul to write about this homosexual depravity immediately after the spiritual problem of <Ro 1:23>? After having spiritual problems, the first thing they compromise is to try to exalt the love of loving their own body. Homosexuality, a touchy topic, in spiritual essence, is actually about trying to unite with another same person (same gender) to complete himself. In fact, the love between homosexuals can be actually more committed than that between man and woman. It is the direct consequence of religion.
There are 4 kinds of love in the Greek dictionary, and 3 kinds of love used in the bible. They are agape, phileo, storge, and eros. Eros is a kind of sexual / passionate love that is based on the desires of the flesh. It is very strong too, as people can die for someone they eros. Phileo is an affectionate love for someone, strong liking, association that goes to much sharing woes and joys. Phileo is not limited to just friends. Sometimes, I feel I could want to really sit down and talk to my wife, share all my troubles and happiness, and her the same to me; Phileo is very personal, and people can also heroically die for his friend; it can happen in a family or between siblings too. Storge is not found in the bible by itself, but it is the love and affection that occurs naturally between parents, children and siblings; yes, it can be died for too. The compound word storge and phileo called philostorgos only appears in Romans 12:10, which tell us to show love that is personal and family-affectionate between brothers and sisters in church. Agape love is unconditional love, a kind of love that does not act on impulse generated based on feelings. It is a love that acts based on will – God’s will in the bible. It can happen between spouses, friends, family, and between brothers/sisters in Christ. It happens in John 3:16 “God so “loved” (agape) that He gave His Son”.
In my contacts with self-proclaimed homosexuals, I do not find them perverted in their thoughts – they are normal people. In fact, they love to share their thoughts, and they have a lot of affection. Frankly speaking, who will not like to talk all night about soccer if your interest is in soccer? Or who will not like to talk over a cup of tea sharing your heart out all night long? In church and in office, I also longed to have fellowship in terms of sitting down and sharing deep thoughts, voicing out what is in me. It is a natural instinct in humans made by God. However, as I grow in faith, I discover that this is really temporary. There is biasness. Friends will have to leave one day. Phileo has to leave one day. Recently, my wife went karaoke with her friends as a form of recreation, and she told me (she found it strange but in great joy) she didn’t really find it as enjoyable as in the past already. The kind of affectionate love really cannot last. This is common grace, and is given by God to lead people to understand agape love. Because phileo is a natural instinct, Romans 12:10 is actually used by God to show them to Christ, not to exalt it. If you truly think about it, the spirit of homosexuality acts on phileo and exalts phileo. The Nephilim were giants on earth; Esau was a warrior loved by his men; Alexander the Great – all these great people show very great phileo love, but they are the depravity of men shown immediately after the fall of men. From here, all problems result – hard work, to earn, to battle, to accomplish, to protect, etc, all based on common grace.
Even though we might not be able to realize the extent of God’s agape love while we are on earth now, when I continue to learn the Spirit of agape between spouses, family, coworkers, and brethrens in church, I realize the vessel of my heart in me broadens in love, joy, peace, endurance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I have a pastor whom I loved very much – reason when I think of – is because he has saved me out from “abyss” and gave me true healing; but one day, I discover it is still phileo. Yes, phileo is also used to encourage love between brethrens in church, and God also shows phileo love to us. However, phileo and all kinds of love have to go towards agape love, and agape love can only happen through seeking and following God’s perfect will. Therefore, this week, I made a prayer to restore all my love towards agape love.
As a conclusion, I hope to make a point that all people trapped in phileo love come from “not knowing where agape love can be found”. May we have compassion on all who have the problem but are confirmed to be chosen as children of God. The problem is not being able to “find love”; the answer is in “already being loved by God Who died for them”. It is not only unconditionally being loved by God, but a Father loves His children the weaker they are. Therefore, Christ came to demonstrate His love while we were yet sinners. Through only Christ, one can love God, affirm his identity, and love all neighbors as himself <Ro 2-16>. This is agape love, the love that a disciple of Christ shows.