Two Errors the Church Makes with Homosexuality

Living in the first century Roman world Paul would’ve been familiar with homosexual relations.

It was widely known that many of the Roman Emperors engaged in homosexual acts and/or lifestyles. And being one who traveled around the Roman Empire preaching the gospel Paul would’ve encountered many who also engaged in homosexual behavior. And more so being raised as a Jew Paul was taught the Old Testament Scriptures. Where God’s original design in Genesis 1-2 is clear. God made man in His own image, male and female He made them. And after having Adam name all the animals, no suitable helper was found for him. So God put Adam to sleep and created woman from him, and gave her to Adam to be a helpmate, so that they’d complement one another in their God given roles. This is the foundation of marriage. And keep going, this foundational institution of marriage between one man and one woman was one reason the lusts and actions of Sodom and Gomorrah were so wicked. These Scriptures Paul was taught as a young Jew he now knew fuller and deeper from being saved by Christ. And so Paul is very clear: all homosexual activity, from homosexuality between two loving and committed men or two women, to a more violent action like homosexual rape (like what we see in Judges 19), as well as everything in between, is against God’s design for sexual relations between men and women. This is why he speaks of men and women giving up what is in accord with nature in Romans 1:26-27.

Bringing all we find in Romans 1 together, we can see the depths of sin in the heart of man. Man claims to be wise by rejecting the God known from creation. Then in this ‘wisdom’ man continues downward turning away from worshipping God our Creator to worship a god of his own making or a creature of his choosing. Where does this idolatry lead to? For this God gives man over to the sin they love. And being so unrestrained in the chase after sin, man, in his supposed wisdom (v22 is always in play), looks into the ‘mirror’, falls in love with himself, worships himself, and then engages in sexual activity with others like himself. Homosexuality then, is not only sinful. Homosexuality is not only evidence of God’s wrath being poured out from heaven here and now. Homosexuality is ultimately idolatrous false worship, where man has become smitten with his own image.[1]

We believe this. But Christians individually and churches corporately don’t always handle this in the most winsome or wise manner. Two errors are usually made at this point with how we handle the sin of homosexuality.[2]

First, some Christians and some churches in an effort to appear nice, relevant, and winsome make it very clear that they’re eager to welcome gay men and women into their lives and congregations. In many of these cases the traditional view of marriage and homosexuality is held and believed, it’s just not talked about or it’s downplayed so no one is offended. Others in this same vein not only proclaim themselves to be welcoming but entirely affirming of the gay lifestyle, either teaching that Paul doesn’t say what he plainly says here, or that the Bible is simply wrong on this matter. In these cases the traditional view of marriage and homosexuality is flat out denied. This is usually called the ‘liberal’ approach.

Second, some Christians and some churches read what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, believe it, and make the rejection of it a prominent part of their identity. They see homosexuality as the sin above all sins, the pinnacle of human depravity. In some more extreme forms of this, you often hear comments like ‘God hates fags’ or ‘God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.’ Now because they believe homosexuality to be the sin over all sins they will not seek to befriend, evangelize, or be welcoming to gay men or women at all, even though they will seek to love all kinds of heterosexual sinners. This is usually called the ‘conservative’ approach.

Paul avoids both of these unfaithful postures. And we should too.

On one hand Paul doesn’t affirm homosexuality, he plainly calls it sin here in this passage. So, we should never deny the plain teaching of Scripture in an effort to be affirming of homosexual sin. But on the other hand Paul doesn’t shake his head teaching that homosexuality is the worst sin of all. So, we should never be those who teach and believe that homosexual sin is worse than heterosexual sin? How can I draw such conclusions? Look at what comes next in v28-31, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Paul is teaching that all of these sins flow from rejecting God and running after idols of our own making. Claiming to be wise, man descends in a kind of free-fall, into a state where all manner of evil becomes possible.[3] Or, we can say man is not as bad as he could be, there is always room for ‘deprovement.’[4]

Every single man or woman in all of history finds themselves adequately represented somewhere in the list of sins in Romans 1. This should make us kind, compassionate, and patient to all sinners, however sin is displayed in their lives.

[1] J. V. Fesko, Romans (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books, 2018), 37.

[2] Tim Keller, Romans 1-7 For You, 34–35.

[3] Fesko, Romans, 37. See also Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 53.

[4] Kent R. Hughes, Romans: Righteousness From Heaven, Preaching the Word Commentary (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 1991), 44.

50 Resources For Equipping the Church on Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage

The Gospel Coalition exists to serve the church. To help fulfill this mession, TGC has joined with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention on Equip, a project to provide a broad range of resources on homosexuality and same-sex marriage issues to prepare your church for a changing culture.

If you’re looking for something to share with people in your church in order to better equip them to discuss homosexuality, same-sex attraction, same-sex marriage, or the biblical view of sexuality, consider one of the following 50 resources:

Understanding the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Explainer: What You Should Know About The Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
Joe Carter, TGC

The Supreme Court issued its ruling on the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Here is what you should know about this historic legal decision on marriage.

50 Key Quotes from the Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Ruling
Joe Carter, ERLC

In the ruling and four dissents—which total 103 pages—there are dozens of interesting and important quotes. Here are 50 key passages you should know about.

How the Supreme Court Found a Constitutional Right to Same-Sex Marriage
Joseph Williams, Canon & Culture

What exactly does the 14th Amendment protect and how did five Supreme Court justices determine that it includes same-sex marriage?

9 Things You Should Know About The Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage Cases
Joe Carter, TGC

What you should know about the Supreme Court’s historic ruling on two same-sex marriage cases.

How Christians Can Respond Right Now

Why the Church Should Neither Cave Nor Panic About the Decision on Gay Marriage
Russell Moore, The Washington Post

The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?

Can Evangelicals See Themselves in the LGBT Movement?
Alastair Roberts, TGC

As we come to realize the faults in the LGBT community, we may find we’re seeing a mirror image of the faults in ourselves.

Something Greater Than Marriage
Rosaria Butterfield and Christopher Yuan, TGC

If singleness is unfair, then it’s no wonder marriage has become a right.

Christopher Yuan on How to Engage Today’s Gay Marriage Debate
Ryan Troglin, TGC

Christopher Yuan encourages the church to see those in the LGBT community not as opponents to be defeated, but as broken sinners who need the life-giving message of Jesus.

Preparing for What Comes Next

How Christians Can Show Countercultural Resolve On Marriage
Jennifer A. Marshall, TGC

What happened between Friday and Monday is a window into the future for the issues of marriage and religious liberty. Here’s what Christians need to do next.

Same-Sex Marriage and the Future
Russell Moore, TGC

In some form or another, your church will have to address the marriage revolution. Here’s how to be prepared.

Lessons for the Marriage Debate from the Pro-Life Movement 
Russell Moore, TGC

Four years ago, our current President said he personally opposed same-sex marriage. Today, the Supreme Court has found a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage, contra all recorded sociopolitical, religious, and human history.

Same-Sex Marriage and Christian Higher Education
Albert Mohler, ERLC

We are living in the midst of an unprecedented sexual revolution, one that presents particular challenges to Christians and those committed to religious liberty.

How To Win The Public On Homosexuality
Collin Hansen, TGC

Regaining the ground Christians have lost on homosexuality will require widespread repentance, painful self-examination, and new resolve to pursue self-denying holiness.

Talking to Family and Friends

40 Questions For Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags
Kevin DeYoung, TGC

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, here are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution.

Four Appeals to Christians Embracing Gay Marriage
Gavin Ortlund, Solioquium

To my friends in the church embracing gay marriage, I offer these four “appeals.” I don’t expect those who have studied this issue thoroughly and landed squarely in that camp will necessarily find these appeals new or convincing. But I’m also seeing a lot of Christians, particularly younger millennials, whose openness to gay marriage seems to me more impulsive, emotional, uncareful.

Talking to Your Children About Sex, Marriage, and Same-Sex Marriage
Various, ERLC

A roundtable discussion with Jani Ortlund, Stephanie Goeke, Krissie Inserra, Trillia Newbell, and Jena Starke.

Sam Allberry on Ministering to Same-Sex Attracted Friends
Joe Carter, TGC

In a series of short videos, Sam Allberry explains how you can minister to your friends and church members who are same-sex attracted.

Dear Christian Friends: Remember You Are Not Home
Erik Raymond, TGC

In talking with a number of Christians last week I was struck by how the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage brought such an unsettling clarity to their perspective.

Responding to Questions About Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage

Why Not Gay Marriage?
Kevin DeYoung, TGC

The challenge before the church is to convince ourselves as much as anyone that believing the Bible does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant.

Why Can’t the Church Just Agree to Disagree on Homosexuality?
Kevin DeYoung, TGC

When the Bible uniformly and unequivocally says the same thing about a serious sin, it seems unwise to find a third way which allows for some people (in a church, organization, or denomination) to be for the sin and other people to be against the sin.

Isn’t the Christian View of Sexuality Dangerous and Harmful?
Sam Allberry, TGC

The gospel shows us there is forgiveness for all who have sinned sexually, and it liberates us from the mindset that sex is intrinsic to human fulfillment.

On The Wrong Side of History?
Matt Smethurst, TGC

In this video, Tim Keller, John Piper, and Don Carson consider an increasingly aggressive line of questions.

Is Sexual Orientation Analogous To Race?
Joe Carter, TGC

An examination of the question of whether whether race and sexual orientation are similar and equally deserving of legal protections.

Answering Four Street-Level Arguments for Sexual Immorality 
Matt Chandler, TGC

As fallen human beings, we tend to explain away or excuse our sin. It’s part of our desires to justify ourselves apart from the blood of Christ.

How Can Homosexuality Be Wrong If It Doesn’t Harm Anyone?
Matt Smethurst, TGC

In this video, Russell Moore, J. D. Greear, and Voddie Baucham tackle this complex and critical topic.

How Can the Gospel Be Good News to Gays?
Sam Allberry, TGC

What we give up for Jesus does not compare to what he gives back. If the costs are great, the rewards are even greater, even in this life.

Why Do They Always Ask If Homosexuality Is a Sin?
Erik Raymond, TGC

Recently my teenage son came home telling me of a conversation with an unbelieving friend about the gospel. He was encouraged to have been able to talk through specifics of what the truth of the gospel is and how someone becomes a Christian.

Legal and Religious Liberty Implications

What Your Church Needs to Know—and Do—About the Court’s Marriage Ruling
Erik Stanley, TGC

The threat from these non-discrimination laws will materialize in numerous ways as same-sex couples marry. But there are proactive steps your church can take to protect itself.

The Supreme Court and Religious Liberty: Reason for Concern
Andrew Walker, ERLC

In the aftermath of today’s Supreme Court ruling, attention is turning to how the Court’s ruling will affect the religious liberty of those who disagree with its redefinition of marriage.

How Same-Sex Marriage Threatens Christian Schools
Joe Carter, TGC

With seven words—“It is going to be an issue”—the U.S. government signaled to orthodox Christian colleges and universities that if they don’t drop their opposition to same-sex marriage they will lose their tax exempt status.

Providing a Pastoral Response

The Bible and Same-Sex Relationships: A Review Article
Tim Keller, TGC

Tim Keller engages five common arguments in gay-affirming literature.

Audio FAQ with D. A. Carson on the Supreme Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision
Justin Taylor, TGC

On the Desiring God Ask Pastor John podcast, Tony Reinke asks New Testament scholar and TGC president Don Carson about same-sex marriage.

A Note to Pastors in Light of the Scotus Decision on Same-Sex Marriage 
Russell Moore, Moore to the Point

How to preach in light of the SCOTUS decision.

Ministering in the New Normal
Dean Inserra, ERLC

This has gotten complicated, and the Supreme Court ruling just made things worse. Being a pastor in 2015—a world in which whatever you feel, you are—makes communicating a biblical sexual ethic difficult.

Five Commitments to Those Struggling with Same-Sex Attraction in Our Midst
Kevin DeYoung, TGC

Those of us who believe in biblical marriage must also be careful to speak in a way that acknowledges the growing number of men and women in evangelical churches who have desires for persons of the same sex and know that God does not want them to act on those desires.

“Will I Be Fully Accepted at Your Church as a Gay Man?”
David Prince, ERLC

Below is my response to an e-mail I received that asked the following question: “I believe church should be for all of God’s children. No exceptions. I am a gay man. My question is, would I be fully accepted with no judgment and fully welcome and able to serve at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church?”

The Gospel for a Gay Friend
Garrett Kell, TGC

In the end, we aren’t trying to make people straight, we want people to be saved.

Letter to a Struggling Gay Christian
Augustus Nicodemus Lopes, TGC

Conversion doesn’t mean perfection, and it doesn’t mean the absence of temptation—including homosexual desire.

But What Does the Bible Say?
Kevin DeYoung, TGC

The Bible says the Lord alone is God and we should have no other gods before him. Not the state, not the Supreme Court, not our families, not our friends, not our favorite authors, not our cultural cache. No gods but God.

Practical Advice for Loving Your Homosexual Neighbors

Should I Attend a Same-Sex Wedding?
Matthew Hosier, TGC

Probably sooner than later, every Christian must decide whether or not you will attend a same-sex wedding.

Should a Christian Photographer Work at a Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony?
Russell Moore, TGC

I would argue that the situation is very different from photographing some other event, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the clients’ sexual or marital context. The fact that this is a wedding means there’s a different moral question for you.

“We Are All Messy”: Rosaria Butterfield on Loving Our Gay and Lesbian Friends
Matt Smethurst, TGC

Watch Rosaria Butterfield discuss how to understand and love our gay and lesbian friends.

Background on Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage

9 Things You Should Know About Same-Sex Marriage
Joe Carter, TGC

Here are nine things you should know about this controversial topic.

The New Purpose of Marriage
Collin Hansen, TGC

Marriage based on needs and affection will struggle to endure when the needs change and the affection fades.

What You Should Know About “Monogamish” Relationships
Joe Carter, TGC

What you should know about the redefinition of monogamy and same-sex relationships.

The Roots of Marriage’s Redefinition: How We Got Where We Are Today
Andrew Walker, ERLC

How did we reach a point where an institution older than recorded history could be redefined and altered by an idea unknown before the year 2000?

Gay Is Not the New Black
Voddie Baucham, TGC

There is no legal, logical, moral, biblical, or historical reason to support same-sex ‘marriage.’

How I Wish the Homosexuality Debate Would Go
Trevin Wax, TGC

Just once, I’d like to see a TV interview go more like this.

How Denominations Come To Tolerate, Accept, and Then Endorse Homosexuality
Kevin DeYoung, TGC

Tom Oden, writing in his book Requiem way back in 1995, explains how it happens.

Sexual Freedom Always Curtails Other Freedoms
Trevin Wax, TGC

Interact with people in our society about issues related to sex, and you’ll quickly discover how everyone seems to be a libertarian.

Same Sex ‘Marriage’ Now Legal in Florida – 3 Thoughts for Florida Christians

This just in.  Last night as of midnight the call was clear and the call was loud.  Same sex ‘marriage’ is now legal in the state of Florida.  I am a citizen of this great state and my heart is grieved.  But really this should come as no surprise to anyone.  If it does surprise you I presume you’ve been living under a rock.  Our country has been heading in this direction for some time now, and I don’t think it’s out-of-bounds to say that eventually all of the states will follow suit.  For those of us who claim the name of Christ living in Florida we must be reminded of a few things.  Here are 3 thoughts to help guide our thinking and response to this new law.

Same Sex ‘Marriage’ is Sin

Let’s just call it what it is.  Can we do that?  Could we be honest enough to do so?  Homosexuality is sin.  After creating the animals and the man Adam, God brought all the animals to Adam so he could exercise authority and dominion over them by naming them.  God mentioned directly before this naming scene in Genesis 2:18-20 that it was not good for man to be alone.  And after naming all the animals it was clear that a suitable helper was not found for Adam, so God created something to be suitable to man.  What did he create?  Woman.  In Genesis 2:21-25 we see it.  Taken by God, from man, for man, is woman.  Finally a suitable helper for the man God had made.  From this point on in the Biblical text we see one man and one woman as the rule and all homosexual activity judged as sinful and unnatural.  Homosexuality is sin primarily because it goes directly against what God has ordained to be the norm.  Can we not say a general blanket statement here that anytime man goes against God’s pattern/norm/rule/law it is sin?  Indeed we can.  Such is the case here.

This is not only put on display for us in vivid clarity in scenes like Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), but it is all over the New Testament as well.  I could give many examples from a lot of New Testament letters (Romans 1 and Jude are strong on this point) but let’s use Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Notice here how Paul refers to those who practice homosexuality as those who will not inherit the kingdom of God?  It really cannot be clearer.

 To the Corinthian Church Paul specifically says, “…and such were some of you…” in the beginning of 6:11.  This means that God is at work among the world saving sinners, drawing them towards the gospel and out of lives of sin and immorality.  One example of sin and immorality that God is drawing men and women out of was then (and still is today) homosexuality.  Some of us used to be this way, but now because of the Gospel we are not.  Most of the arguments claiming that homosexuality is not sinful in God’s eyes center around a reconfiguration of the Biblical text to falsely show that God never condemns this action.  This is wrong.  He does condemn it, often.  Why?  Because it is sin, plain and simple, going directly against God’s created order of marriage between one man and one woman.

Same Sex ‘Marriage’ is not ‘Marriage’

Speaking of marriage, lets talk about that.  This pronouncement over the news last night and still this morning is that homosexual ‘marriage’ is now legal.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  ‘Marriage’ should not be the term used here.  Call it whatever you want, when two people of the same gender who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together it is not a ‘marriage.’  Why?  God created marriage, man did not.  God defined marriage and gave meaning to marriage.  He gave away the first bride (Eve) to the first groom (Adam).  Therefore marriage according to God, is only between one man and one woman.  It is not between two women, two men, or any other hybrid or combination.  Mankind has no place to redefine what marriage is and what marriage is not.

To call a homosexual ‘union’ a ‘marriage’ is wicked.  Some may say what I am saying here is evil, old-fashioned, hateful, unloving, and even unChristlike.  Shame on you if you say such things.  Anyone who reads the Bible with any credibility at all will find that God does not look favorably on homosexuality or homosexuals.  This is no news to anyone really, because most of the people who want homosexuality to be legal could care less about what God has to say about the matter.

Same Sex ‘Marriage’ is no different from ‘heterosexual adultery.’

Now before you write me off as a fundamentalist worm and vow to rid the earth of vile people such as myself I want to ensure you hear one final note in this post.

Did you notice how in the last sentence of the previous paragraph I said “most” of the people who want homosexuality to be legal could care less about what God has to say?  I intentionally used the word “most” and did not use the word “all” for a reason.  I know, and am friends with homosexual men, who really struggle with this issue.  Does that surprise you?  These friends of mine read the Bible with credibility, honesty, and care.  They give weight to what God says about all things, and do not try to re-write what God has already said.  These friends of mine are fully aware of the fact that God is not ‘for’ the homosexual lifestyle and therefore they have a real fight with it.

Everything they feel by nature would incline them to sin against God, and if I’m honest I’m in the same boat as they are.  I do not have any temptation towards homosexuality, but I am tempted by my natural heart in many ways too.  If I naturally desire to commit adultery on my wife with another woman who looks attractive to me, should I?  NO!  Do I conclude that any feeling I have that draws me toward something, in any way, is a good thing and should be embraced?  Absolutely not.  It doesn’t matter what my evil heart wants because it’s always going to want evil things.  This is precisely why the man or woman who is drawn toward a homosexual relationship is no different from the man or woman drawn to the adulterous relationship.  Both homosexuality and adultery are grievous sins in the eyes of God – and both will receive judgment for these actions.

But the good news of the Gospel is that in the Gospel God is for the adulterer just as it is for the homosexual, the criminal, the scandalous, and the wayward.  The Gospel calls every sinner out of their life of sin (regardless of what that sin is) into a life of grace and godliness.  We are called by Christ to come as we are – dirty, rotten, stinking, adulterous, homosexual, nasty, people.  And when we come to Christ ‘as we are’ God loves us enough to not leave us ‘as we are.’  He changes us from the inside out, so deep down into the nooks and crannies of our souls, that even what we naturally desire begins to change.  What does this mean?

This means there is hope for all sinners, homosexuals included.  Far be it from us (or any church) to withhold the Gospel of Jesus Christ from an individual because they are a homosexual.  They need it, just as you and I do.  The more we see this and embrace this, the more our lives and our ministries will look like Christ.

Same-Sex Attraction and the Wait for Change

A very helpful blog post from Nick Roen over at the Desiring God Blog.

Same-Sex Attraction and the Wait for Change

Few concepts are more foreign to our culture than waiting. Now you can take a picture of a check with your phone and deposit it instantly into your bank account without even leaving your Lay-Z-Boy. “Instant,” it seems, has become the new “relatively quick.”

This has been highlighted in my own life as I have wrestled with the issue of change in regard to my same-sex attraction (SSA). When I began counseling several years ago, I thought that if I followed a set of prescribed steps, then my attractions would switch from males to females. However, after seven months of hard work, I began to become disillusioned and depressed because that didn’t happen. Why wasn’t change happening like I thought it would?

Then one day it hit me. I realized that heterosexuality is not my ultimate goal — holiness is. And my holiness is not ultimately contingent on the reversal of my attractions. Once this became clear, I began to view change differently.

Change Not Promised

The reversal of my orientation is a type of change that is not guaranteed in this life. God never promised me that he would remove my SSA. I am reminded of Paul praying three times to the Lord in 2 Corinthians 12 that the thorn in his flesh would be taken away. And what did God say? “My grace is enough” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God decides which thorns stay and which thorns he will remove, for his glory. Even though SSA is a particularly painful thorn to bear, I have no guarantee one way or the other.

In fact, promising orientation change can be quite harmful. In reality, there is no set of prescribed steps that will definitively lead to a reversal in attraction, and this type of thinking can make orientation change into an idol that must be achieved or all is lost. If my hope rested in becoming straight, then I would have no ground for hope at all.

This Change Guaranteed

However, make no mistake, change is guaranteed. What happens when I dethrone heterosexuality as my ultimate goal and replace it with holiness? What happens when I cling to Jesus, trust the promises in his word, and fight the fight of faith by his Spirit? I change! This (often painfully) slow process is called sanctification, and sanctification is a type of change that is inevitable for all true Christians.

And here’s the thing: my sanctification here on earth may or may not include a change in my attractions. In conforming me into the image of Christ, God may see fit to leave my orientation unchanged until the day I die, for the purpose of my ultimate holiness. My SSA might be one of the “thorns” that he leaves to increase my faith and display his power and grace in my life.

Groaning, Waiting, Hoping

This is where waiting comes in. I want to be “fixed” now, to stop warring against my flesh and become like Christ. The waiting is so hard! Thankfully, the Bible tells me how to deal with the waiting. As I experience the groanings in this body, I have great grounds for hope.

I hope in my full, final, ultimate adoption as a son of God, which will include the redemption of my body (Romans 8:23). And I need to hope because it isn’t here yet. After all, “hope that is seen [present right now, immediately, instantly) is no hope at all. For who hopes for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24).

Indeed, instead of “fix me now,” the Bible gives me this: “But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25). No matter how acutely I feel the brokenness of my body, and my already-but-not-yet adoption as a son of God through Christ, I must wait for my full redemption with patience — even when I can deposit a check from my La-Z-Boy.

In discussing the hollow promise of orientation change, Wesley Hill, who experiences SSA, says this: “Suffice it to say, I think the real spiritual and theological danger of this kind of ‘victorious Christian living’ talk is an avoidance of the ‘state of being on the way.’ It’s an expectation that the kingdom of God should be here fully now, without our having to endure its slow, mysterious, paradoxical unfolding until the return of Christ.”

So instead of snapping a picture of my check, I need to be content with being in the car “on the way” to the bank.

Worth the Wait

Believe me, it is really hard. But the reality is that “on the way” is where I experience God. For now, it’s in the pain and the groaning and the fighting for contentment that God reveals himself, and changes me, and strips away my idols, and gives me more of him, and prepares me for an eternity of enjoying him without the pain.

It’s on the ride in the car that I see the beautiful countryside, and the majestic mountains, and the stunning sunset that I wouldn’t have seen if I were magically transported to my final destination, breathtaking as that final destination will be. The waiting is where I am sanctified, conformed into the image of Jesus, and readied for delighting in him when I see him face to face (2 Corinthians 3:18).

My orientation may not change in this life, but complete sanctification is coming (1 Thessalonians 5:23–24). It isn’t here yet. But that, I think, I can wait for.

Is God Homophobic?

Question: Is God Homophobic?

Answer: Really?

A few months ago Demond Tutu made a statement indicating his belief that God is not homophobic.  To which I respond with a clearer and more pressing question for us, is God for or against homosexuals?  That answer is an astounding yes and no.  Why?  Let me explain using a TV interview model of Q & A from blogger Trevin Wax.

Host: You are a Christian pastor, and you say you believe the Bible, which means you are supposed to love all people.

Pastor: That’s right.

Host: But it appears to me that you and your church take a rather unloving position when it comes to gay people. Are homosexuals welcome to come to your church?

Pastor: Of course. We believe that the gospel is a message relevant for every person on the planet, and we want everyone to hear the gospel and find salvation in Jesus Christ. So at our church, our arms are outstretched to people from every background, every race, every ethnicity and culture. We’re a place for all kinds of sinners and people with all kinds of problems.

Host: But you said there, “We’re a place for sinners.” So you do believe that homosexuality is sinful, right?

Pastor: Yes, I do.

Host: So how do you reconcile the command to love all people with a position on homosexuality that some would say is radically intolerant?

Pastor: (smiling) If you think my position on homosexuality is radical, just wait until you hear what else I believe! I believe that a teenage guy and girl who have sex in the backseat of a pick-up are sinning. The unmarried heterosexual couple living down the street from me is sinning. In fact, any sexual activity that takes place outside of themarriage covenant between a husband and wife is sinful. What’s more, Jesus takes this sexual ethic a step further and goes to the heart of the matter. That means that any time I even lust after someone else, I am sinning. Jesus’ radical view of sexuality shows all of us up as sexual sinners, and that’s why He came to die. Jesus died to save lustful, homo-and heterosexual sinners and transform our hearts and minds and behavior. Because He died for me, I owe Him my all. And as a follower of Jesus, I’m bound to what He says about sex and morality.

Host: But Jesus didn’t condemn homosexuality outright, did He?

Pastor: He didn’t have to. He went to the heart issue and intensified the commands against immoral behavior in the Old Testament. So Jesus doesn’t just condemn adultery, for example, as does one of the Ten Commandments. Jesus condemns even the lust that leads to adultery, all with the purpose of offering us transformed hearts that begin beating in step with His radical demands.

Host: You say he condemned adultery, but he chose not to condemn the woman caught in adultery.

Pastor: That’s right, but He did tell her to “go and sin no more.”

Host: But who are you to condemn someone who doesn’t line up with your personal beliefs about sexuality?

Pastor: Who am I? No one. It’s not all that important what I think about these things. This conversation about homosexuality isn’t really about my personal beliefs. They’re about Jesus and what He says. I have no right to condemn or judge the world. That right belongs to Jesus. My hope is to follow Him faithfully. That means that whatever He says in regard to sexual practices is what I believe to be true, loving, and ultimately best for human flourishing – even when it seems out of step with the whims of contemporary culture.

Host: But you are judging. You are telling all the gay people watching this broadcast that they are sinners.

Pastor: I’m not singling out gay people. I’m pointing to Jesus as the answer to all sexual sinfulness.

Host: But you are referring to gay people. Why are you so focused on homosexuality?

Pastor: (smiling) With all due respect, you are the one who brought up this subject.

Host: Are you saying that you can’t be gay and Christian?

Pastor: No. I’m saying that you can’t be a genuine Christian without repentance. Everyone – including me – is guilty of sin, but Christianity hinges on repentance. We agree with God about our sin, and we turn from it and turn toward Jesus. When it comes to Christianity, this debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.

Host: But do you see why a homosexual watching this might think you are attacking them personally? You’re saying that something is wrong with them.

Pastor: I think Jesus’ teaching on sexuality shows us that there is something wrong with all of us – something that can only be fixed by what Jesus did for us on the cross and in His resurrection. That said, I understand why people might think I am attacking them personally. Most people with same-sex desires believe they were born with these tendencies. That’s why they often see their attraction as going to the very core of who they are, and so they identify themselves with the “gay” label. So whenever someone questions their behavior or desires, they take it as an attack on the very core of their being. That’s usually not the intent of the person who disagrees with homosexual behavior. But that’s the way it is perceived. I understand that.

Host: If it’s true that a person is born with one sexual orientation or another, then how can it possibly be loving to condemn one person’s orientation?

Pastor: Well, we really don’t know for certain about sexual attraction being innate and set from birth. All we have is the testimony of people who say that they’ve experienced same-sex desires since childhood. Christianity teaches that all people are born with a bent toward sin. It’s possible that some people will have a propensity toward alcohol abuse or angry outbursts, while others may have a propensity toward other sins. Regardless, Christians believe people are more than their sexual urges. We believe that human dignity is diminished whenever we define ourselves by sexual urges and behaviors. Consider this: married men are sometimes attracted to multiple women who are not their wives. Does this mean they should self-identify as polygamists? Not at all. And surely you wouldn’t consider it hateful for Christians to encourage married men notto act on their desires in an effort to remain faithful to their spouses. It is the Christian way, after all.

Host: No, but it still seems like you are telling people not to be true to who they are.

Pastor: It only seems that way because you believe sexual desire reflects the core of one’s identity. It would help if you and others who agree with you would understand that in your putting pressure on me to accept homosexual behavior as normal and virtuous, you are going to the very core of my identity as a follower of Jesus. The label most important to me is “Christian.” My identity – in Christ – is central to who I am. So I could say the same thing and call you intolerant, bigoted, and hateful for trying to change a conviction that goes to the core of who I am as a Christian. I don’t say that because I don’t believe that’s your intention. But neither should you think it’s my intention to attack a homosexual person or cause them harm merely because I disagree.

Host: But the problem is, your position fosters hate and encourages bullying.

Pastor: I recognize that some people have mistreated homosexuals in the past. It’s a shame that anyone anywhere would mock, taunt, or bully another human being made in God’s image. That said, I think we need to make one thing clear in regard to civil discourse: To differ is not to hate. I hope we can still have a real conversation in this country about different points of view without casting one another in the worst possible light. The idea that disagreeing with homosexual behavior necessarily results in harm to gay people is designed to shut down conversation and immediately rule one point of view (in this case, the Christian one) out of bounds. As a Christian, I am to love my neighbor and seek his good, even when I don’t see eye to eye with my neighbor. Furthermore, the picture of Christ on the cross dying for His enemies necessarily affects the way I think about this and other issues.

An Open Lesbian Letter to the Church

From Hunter Baker’s blog:

(You must make it to the third paragraph in order to understand.)

To the churches concerning homosexuals and lesbians:

Many of you believe that we do not exist within your walls, your schools, your neighborhoods. You believe that we are few and easily recognized. I tell you we are many. We are your teachers, doctors, accountants, high school athletes. We are all colors, shapes, sizes. We are single, married, mothers, fathers. We are your sons, your daughters, your nieces, your nephews, your grandchildren. We are in your Sunday School classes, pews, choirs, and pulpits. You choose not to see us out of ignorance or because it might upset your congregation. We ARE your congregation. We enter your doors weekly seeking guidance and some glimmer of hope that we can change. Like you, we have invited Jesus into our hearts. Like you, we want to be all that Christ wants us to be. Like you, we pray daily for guidance. Like you, we often fail.

When the word “homosexual” is mentioned in the church, we hold our breaths and sit in fear. Most often this word is followed with condemnation, laughter, hatred, or jokes. Rarely do we hear any words of hope. At least we recognize our sin. Does the church as a whole see theirs? Do you see the sin of pride, that you are better than or more acceptable to Jesus than we are? Have you been Christ-like in your relationships with us? Would you meet us at the well, or restaurant, for a cup of water, or coffee? Would you touch us even if we showed signs of leprosy, or aids? Would you call us down from our trees, as Christ did Zacchaeus, and invite yourself to be our guest? Would you allow us to sit at your table and break bread? Can you love us unconditionally and support us as Christ works in our lives, as He works in yours, to help us all to overcome?

To those of you who would change the church to accept the gay community and its lifestyle: you give us no hope at all. To those of us who know God’s word and will not dilute it to fit our desires, we ask you to read John’s letter to the church in Pergamum. “I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” You are willing to compromise the word of God to be politically correct. We are not deceived. If we accept your willingness to compromise, then we must also compromise. We must therefore accept your lying, your adultery, your lust, your idolatry, your addictions, YOUR sins. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

We do not ask for your acceptance of our sins any more than we accept yours. We simply ask for the same support, love, guidance, and most of all hope that is given to the rest of your congregation. We are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are not what we shall be, but thank God, we are not what we were. Let us work together to see that we all arrive safely home.

A Sister in Christ