IV. WHAT SHOULD THE ATTITUDE OF THE SUMMIT CHURCH BE TOWARD HOMOSEXUALITY AND HOMOSEXUALS?

This is the last in a four-part series about homosexuality. Be sure to read Part 1 (“What Does The Bible Say About Homosexuality?”), Part 2 (“Frequently Asked Questions”), and Part 3 (“Politically, Should the Church Just Stay Out of This Issue?”). This series is modified from my notes from our March Equip forum, whose videos—with a personal testimony from a friend of mine—you can view below. 

1) The point is not homosexuality; the point is the Lordship of Jesus.

The point is not that homosexuality is a fundamentally worse sin than the others—it isn’t. The point is that Jesus is Lord and is our authority in all areas. We cannot pick and choose which parts of Jesus we surrender to. To follow Jesus means total surrender to His Lordship. Jesus may offend us in this area; He offended previous generations in other areas. Either He is Lord and gets to correct us, or we are Lord and we get to correct Him. Those who say that they believe Jesus is Lord but will only consent to Him when they are in agreement don’t really understand the concept of “Lordship.”

2) Our stance on this issue may be one of the most important tests of faithfulness in our generation.

As the Reformer Martin Luther, said, the courage of the soldier is tested in how well he stands at the place where the battle is the hottest, not in how brave he postures himself where the battle is no longer being fought. It takes very little courage, relatively speaking, to decry the evils of racism, the exploitation of women, the greed of Wall Street, or the abuses of power in our culture today. Almost anyone would say “Amen” to that, and you would be praised in the Academy, media, and church alike. Our faithfulness to Jesus is tested by whether we maintain His decrees in things our culture finds offensive. It took courage for Martin Luther King to stand against the status quo in the 1960s; it takes that same courage to stand against the status quo today.

3) The loss of gender identity has devastating consequences for society.

God designed male and female, and society flourishes only as it lives according to His design. As I noted above, studies consistently show that the mother/father unit is the best environment for the rearing of children (Wayne Grudem notes 6 such secular studies[1]). Grudem writes, “Every human nation on earth, every society of any size or permanence at all, has recognized and protected the institution of heterosexual marriage.” He cites a leading anthropologist who studied 86 failed societies, noting that no society was able to flourish after 3 generations once “strict marital monogamy” was abandoned as the standard. [2]

4) God loves the homosexual.

Jesus died for sinners like you and me. He died to free us from sin’s penalty and power. You do not die for those you hate (Romans 5:8). The reason He is against sin is precisely because He loves us.

5) God doesn’t send people to hell for homosexuality.

Here’s how I know that: He doesn’t send people to heaven for heterosexuality. He sends people to hell for self-righteousness, for thinking that they can save themselves or that they don’t need God. This includes the homosexual who rejects God’s words for his own viewpoint, or the greedy religious person who rejects a life of discipleship to hang onto his riches and reputation (Remember, the Bible talks about greed ten times more than sexual sin!). God takes people to heaven for recognizing their sinfulness and falling upon His mercy in repentance and faith. Repentance means acknowledging that He is Lord and you are not, and that you are a mess and only He can save you. [3]

There are many faithful disciples of Jesus who will never escape same-sex attraction in this life. What we believe about the gospel is shown most by what we do when we fall. Our belief in the gospel is not demonstrated by the fact that we never fall, but by what we do when we fall. Do we wallow in guilt? Do we justify our disobedience? Or do we cast ourselves in hope upon the mercy of God and re-embrace Christ’s gift righteousness? Proverbs 24:16 says, “A righteous man falls seven times and gets back up again.” I would have guessed that the writer would say “a righteous man never falls.” Those who understand the gift righteousness of Christ demonstrate it by what they do when they fall.

6) We should avoid pat, simplistic answers for the “causes” of homosexuality.

Factors that contribute to homosexuality are numerous and complex. Many, if not most, homosexuals cannot recall a time when they “chose” such an attraction. If anything, “it” seemed to choose them. And while sexual abuse is often a significant contributor to homosexual desires, studies show that it cannot be used to explain the majority of homosexual cases.

On the other hand, merely saying that a homosexual was “born this way” is not sufficient either, and furthermore, as I argued above, being born with a propensity toward something does not establish its morality. For more on this, see Laumann, et al. or Sam Williams’ excellent talk given at SEBTS, entitled “A Christian Psychology of and Response to Homosexuality.”[4]

Homosexuality is not a “worse” sin than other sins. It is a manifestation of the fallen nature that affects us all. We are born with propensities toward different spiritual maladies and distortions due to our rejection of God. Our natural dispositions, environment, and personal choices make us into the people we become.

This is an issue we should approach with humility, listening, compassion, and understanding.

7) We speak as redeemed sinners, not saints.

We speak as those who have been rescued from sin’s captivity and condemnation by Jesus. When we understand this we speak with deep humility and without a drop of hostility or triumphalism. We are not waging a war against homosexuals; Jesus fought and won a war against sin and death for homosexuals, and for us, and we now testify to His victory. Jesus lived the life we all should have lived but didn’t, and died the death we were condemned to die. He now offers salvation to all who will believe and receive: to the religious and irreligious; to the homosexual and the straight; to you, and to me.

Christian fellowship is, by definition, a group of redeemed sinners who still struggle with the power of sin in their lives. (As Luther loved to say, simultaneously “declared righteous” in Christ and “sinfully weak” in our flesh.) We have lots of people in leadership in our church who are struggling with selfishness and lusts of various kinds—including me!—as well as many who are struggling with same sex attraction. Jesus receives broken sinners. He built His church upon them. The only ones He turns away are those who insist on being Lord in His place. They are turned away not because of their homosexuality, but because of their defiance of Him.

8 ) Judgmentalism, hatred, and exclusion have no place in our demeanor.

We are to speak with the humility that comes from those who have been themselves saved from God’s rightful judgment, and we are to extend the same love and inclusion toward homosexuals that Jesus has extended to us.  The Bible tells us to “love our neighbors.” That includes loving our gay neighbors. When they are the ones in pain, we are to be the first to befriend, protect, and serve them (Luke 10:25–37).

9) We can and should be friends with people who are homosexuals.

Jesus befriended sinners, starting with us. Thus, we welcome people to our church, and into our lives, who are homosexuals. They are made in the image of God, and they honor us by being willing to be friends with us! While we can’t stand in “Christian fellowship” with someone who openly embraces what we believe put Jesus on the cross (1 Cor 5:1-13), we can love and befriend them. We recognize that many homosexuals are hurting, and many need the touch of grace that Jesus extended to us. The gospel produces a united, loving, others-serving society, not a divided, condemning, hateful one.

10) Sexual ethics are not the center of Christianity. 

The gospel is. If our teaching on this really bothers you, let me encourage you to punt it for a while. Jesus’ central message was not instruction in sexual ethics; it was saving us from ourselves. Study Jesus. And if you conclude, as I have, that He is Lord, then you can and should surrender to Him in all things He teaches, whether you agree with Him or not. Take time to consider that first. Don’t be diverted by secondary issues.

Sexual mores were not the center of Jesus’ message, and so they are not the center of our ministry, either. The cross and crown of Jesus are the center. Start with His cross, borne for you, and then move your way out from that to the less important matters. Jesus of Nazareth welcomed into His presence all manner of people struggling to figure out who He is, and we welcome you to our church, as well.

 


[1] Wayne Grudem, Politics–According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2010), 224.

[2] Ibid., 216–17.

[3] Tim Keller, interview on The Meaning of Marriage at Google.

[4] Edward O. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); Sam Williams’ talk can be accessed online at http://apps.sebts.edu/multimedia/?p=2669.