Galatians 3:10-14 from the New Living Translation (NLT)
10 But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.”
13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
I have struggled for days now trying to wrestle with this notion that somehow in order to be saved, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people have to essentially or fundamentally stop being who they are and conform to something they are not. As if the only way to pass into the kingdom of God is to be basically the most pious, most Orthodox Jew of the Mosaic Law possible. How can one force or impose heterosexual relations or Biblically defined traditional marriage or Biblical lifestyle expectations against a person’s nature or honest, sincerely held essence of self? How do you transform human nature which is inclined to sin anyway, into something as close to divine? It would take monumental effort for sure, but it would involve stripping away everything that makes us uniquely human as well as humane if we are guided by love and told we are no longer allowed to love according to our natures. Then there is the whole, “Do this or else!” cloud which seems to loom over anyone who can’t live up to these higher standards. How could a 21st century person (gay, straight, or otherwise) ever hope to live up to the level of perfection expected of anyone instructed or commanded to live up to all the Laws and restrictions spelled out in the Old Testament?
Then along comes the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians…
I feel like I have found my clarification. It is one of those “Eureka! Halleluiah!!” moments.
The simple message that I get from just this passage alone is this:
We as Gentiles, (non-Jews), we as Christians, are now led by the Holy Spirit, now that Jesus has declared that he is the fulfillment of the Law–and the Law is fulfilled by love. The Law points out how flawed and sinful we have been but Jesus paid for our sins with his ultimate sacrifice at his crucifixion. No matter how hard we may struggle to live up to the Law, our expectations now are to have faith in Jesus, believe in him, and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide us closer to living more loving, God obedient lives. If we live with love in our hearts and act out of love for others as we would love ourselves, we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives to guide us closer to where we need to be.
The Holy Spirit may or may not change us fundamentally– if anything, I’ve only experienced the Holy Spirit taking who I am as a person, and making that person more loving, more compassionate, and infinitely more honest because I am actively seeking to do the best that I possibly and reasonably can with who I am inside. The Holy Spirit may inspire us to be more responsible about how we express intimacy with our loved ones, more safer about how we explore sexuality, and more aware that all our actions can have very real consequences.