This week, Pastor J.D. continues our Ask Me Anything series based on his new book, Essential Christianity. The fifth question is, “Is downplaying the sinfulness of homosexuality necessary to reach the next generation?”
- I had one good friend tell me I should leave the topic of homosexuality out of the book, since it can be so hard for some people to swallow. I recognize that sometimes, there are issues that you want to time when you bring them up when you’re sharing the gospel with someone.
- In the end, I decided to put in a small chapter about what Christians have historically believed on this. First, because that’s a pretty significant part of the book of Romans (which the book is based on), when Paul talks about the evidence of our rebellion against God. If anyone is reading along in the book of Romans as I go through this, they’d have a big, glaring question about this topic. That’s a big reason why I don’t think downplaying homosexuality is something we can do anymore.
- When trying to reach the next generation, this is one of the top things they come into an evangelical church thinking about. The world says there are only two options: affirmation and alienation. Because of that, they don’t give any moral authority to those who they believe are “alienating,” and because of that, I believe I have to show them that the Bible offers a third option: you don’t affirm the behavior but you do affirm the individual as made in the image of God and worthy of love and respect and protection.
- Leaving the subject out was going to be counterproductive in my book, and I believe it’s the same situation with our churches: the next generation is coming in with their own narrative about what I believe, so I have to address it head-on.
- There are also a couple of biblical problems that lead me to believe downplaying this topic is not helpful (which I wrote about in an article posted on The Gospel Coalition). First, removing the offense of the cross will also divest it of its power. Repentance, properly understood, is offensive—but repentance has always been at the center of the gospel message.
- Second, we know from the Bible that Jesus was full of both grace and truth… not just one or the other. Truth without grace leads to fundamentalism and judgment. Grace without truth leads to acceptance amongst people, but not to repentance before the Father. Jesus was full of both, and the two together are the power of God.
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