Romans 2 says God’s kindness leads us to repentance.
Our sexuality is not the core of who we are. We have bought the lie that God loves us unconditionally but doesn’t want us to change. We need to realize that unconditional love is not the same thing as unconditional approval of ones behavior.
Our identity should not be defined just by our sexuality, our identity should not be grounded only in our feelings, our identity is not gay, homosexual, or even heterosexual. Our identity as children of the Living God must be in Jesus Christ alone. God says “Be holy for I am holy.” See, we seem to think the opposite of homosexuality is heterosexuality, that is not the opposite of homosexuality, the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God never said “be heterosexual for I am heterosexual”, neither did he say “Be homosexual for I am homosexual.” God said, “Be holy for I am holy.” Let us not focus upon our temptations, desires, and our sexuality but let us focus upon living a life of holiness and living a life of purity. Change is not the absence of struggles, but change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles. The ultimate issue is not what we’re struggling with, not our temptations, our fears, our sexuality. The ultimate issue is that we yearn after God, in total surrender and complete obedience.
So what is a Christian response to homosexuality? I think if we were real honest with ourselves, the Body of Christ, Christians in general, we do not have a good reputation in how we interact with people in the LGBT community. There’s a book called ‘Unchristian’ and the book looks at how young Americans view the Church. What they found was staggering. They found that the Church was viewed to be confusing, not accepting, boring, insensitive, out of touch, too political, old fashioned, hypocritical, judgmental, and at the very, very top… anti-homosexual. Not only is it at the top but 91% of those outside the Church view that Christians are anti-homosexual. How about our youth and young adults? 80%. Not much better. Let’s note what this doesn’t say, it doesn’t say anti-homosexuality…it says anti-homosexual. This is a big difference because one is the issue and the other one is the person. I would hope that we realize, that as people of the Gospel, as recipients of the grace of God, we realize that God is not against anybody. God is for people turning from their ways and turning to Him, but He is for people. And so should we be. And yet, we must realize that someones perception is their reality.
So how can we have a more redemptive Christian response to homosexuality? There are many ways we can approach this issue. Psychologically, developmentally, sociologically, politically, but perhaps we should use as our foundation the very Gospel of Jesus Christ. This Gospel should guide us in every thing that we do. So how can we have a more Gospel response to the issue of homosexuality? Let’s start with our attitudes. We need to be convicted of our brokenness. Sometimes our reputation as Christians is that we’re busy pointing the finger at other people, pointing out other people’s sin. We are giving off a message that gays and lesbians somehow deserve a hotter place in hell. That Jesus had to hang on the cross a little bit longer for gays and lesbians. But we know that is not truth! Although homosexual sex in relationships might be a sin, it IS NOT the worst sin. Homosexuality is not the worst sin. And yet often within the Church we overlook sin. Whether it’s gossiping, or jealousy, or pride. We cannot elevate one sin above the other because when we do, we become more prideful. Because the reality is, for some people, it might be uncomfortable to think about homosexuality. Some people might even get disgusted by the thought of it. And they might even, because of that feeling, justify mistreating gays and lesbians, justify homophobia. But the reality is that feeling of being uncomfortable, or maybe even disgust at the thought of homosexuality is probably a good reminder for us that it’s just a fraction of what God feels when we look at our own sin. And yet, maybe even more, because we know better and we have the Holy Spirit. Our sin is just as odious in the eyes of God as is the sin of homosexuality. Our attitude has to be right. Our hope is to show people Jesus Christ, and that is never done through a holier than thou attitude. We need to be convicted by our own sin, leading us to humility.
Second, we need to be consistent. When Jesus came to earth and ministered among us, He was so patient and compassionate towards those ‘nasty sinners’…the prostitutes, or the tax collectors. And yet Jesus was so impatient, He was hardest upon those pharisees and the hypocrites because they were living inconsistent to what they knew. When it comes to homosexuality, we have a tendency to be inconsistent in a few things. First of all, regarding relationships. Sometimes we have this imbalance between marriage and singleness. As important as marriage is, we lift it to be so important that it becomes an idol. If our message to the people in the gay community, and our Christian brothers and sisters who wrestle with same-sex attraction is you need to forego these relationships, that means they need to be single for a period in their life or for the rest of their life. Do we have a healthy place for singles to grow and thrive within the Church? Because in this culture singleness is equated to loneliness. But is that true? We teach our children this from a young age. It’s in the fairy tales, after they get married they live happily ever after. We don’t get the 10 year check up or the 20 year check up, hopefully they’re still living happily ever after. The lesson here is marriage should not bring us ultimate contentment. It should be Jesus that brings us ultimate contentment. Of course, we must lift up the beauty and gift of marriage but we have done that at the expense of singleness so that singleness has become this consolation prize. We treat singleness like cancer. Singleness is not cancer. It is not a curse, and yet we treat singleness as a curse and yet what does the Bible say? Paul says in 1 Corinthians that singleness is good. Not only is it good, but it is a gift. And yet often we struggle with that. We’ll definitely agree that marriage is a gift but on the other hand we say “Singleness?! That’s a calling! You have to be special to be called to singleness.” Marriage takes work. It takes sacrifice. It takes husbands being willing to lay down their life for their wife, and I don’t know what husband doesn’t struggle with that daily. Yet as almost as impossible a task as that is, that is still what we’re called to do. Perhaps marriage is the calling. Perhaps singleness is a gift. Godly marriage and godly singleness are two sides of the same coin and we cannot emphasize one without emphasizing the other. If we want to minister in the context of a world saturated with this issue of sexuality, we have to get singleness right. We have to reclaim godly singleness.
Third, we need to be consistent regarding sexuality. We think the standard for God is heterosexuality. Well let’s think about that term. Heterosexuality is a really broad term that includes things that the Bible clearly condemns. Adultery, fornication, lust, it’s a man made, modern term. So if heterosexuality isn’t our goal, and it’s not homosexuality either, then what is it that should be our standard, our goal as Christians?
Holy sexuality. What is holy sexuality? In reading through the whole council of God there’s only two options for us to act upon in our sexuality. First, if you’re married, complete faithfulness to your spouse of the opposite gender. Or, if you’re single, complete faithfulness through abstinence. Holy sexuality. This applies to every person. Young or old, man or woman, whether you have heterosexual feelings or homosexual feelings, we all need to pursue holiness.
We also need to be consistent on change. Because change does not mean going from gay to straight, or no longer having those feelings anymore. Is that how we apply that definition of change to other issues? Let’s say we have a friend who has an issue with drinking. He comes to Christ, stops drinking, many years without a drop of liquor but tells us that he still wrestles with picking up a beer but doesn’t. Would we then say, “you have not been changed”? Of course not. I think the manifestation of God’s grace is more evident in his life because he has to say no to his flesh and say yes to God. Change is not the absence of struggles. God never promises us that we won’t struggle with flesh, but change is the freedom to CHOOSE holiness in the midst of our struggles. God’s faithfulness is not proven by plucking us out of our temptations and struggles. God’s faithfulness is shown by carrying us through it. That’s God.
We need to be compassionate. We have dear brothers and sisters, who for whatever reason, are struggling with homosexuality all alone and feel like they can’t share this with the rest of us. And for some, this is an issue between life and death. So how can we as the body of Christ become a safer, more compassionate place? First of all, we need to expect that this is present here. That we have brothers and sisters who may be personally wrestling with this issue, struggling with same-sex attraction. We have people within the body of Christ that have loved ones who have embraced being gay or being lesbian. This shouldn’t surprise us. I don’t know why we’re surprised when we think, “how did this happen? They were raised in a christian home, they had Christian parents…”. What we’re saying is, if children are raised in a christian home and have wonderful parents, somehow they’re exempt from struggling with sin. Of course not. What is the body of Christ after all? Is the body of Christ a group of people who have it all together or is the body of Christ a group of people who are broken and needy and need Jesus? The reality is, let us hand in hand walk to Him, not because we can fix each other, but because we know someone who has all the answers and His name is Jesus. Second, we need to know our position. Are we able to articulate what we believe on this issue? I don’t mean just saying, “it’s a sin, don’t do it.” Because that doesn’t really minister to someone in their time of need. I’m talking about our desire to draw people to Christ in the midst of the situation, whatever it might be, so that they’re willing to surrender all that they are to Him, including their sexuality. That is our position.
Lastly, we need to be complete in our message. Our message needs to be grounded in the truth because the truth sets us free. So what is the truth? What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Many people will go, “I got that. The Bible says it’s a sin.” And though that might be true, we often put a period at the end of the sentence and say nothing more. That is equivalent to giving some the one spiritual law tract. We’ve probably heard of the 4 spiritual law tract but the one spiritual law tract says, “You’re a sinner and you’re going to hell. Sorry,” There’s nothing good about that news. That’s bad news. And yet, that is the message we are giving to the gay community: “You’re a sinner, you’re going to hell, there’s no hope for you.” And we wonder why people in the gay community want nothing to do with the Church. That message that we’re giving is not the whole truth. It’s not the full Gospel. It’s an incomplete truth. And telling someone an incomplete truth is just as harmful as telling someone a lie. So what is the complete truth? Well, Paul says in 1 Corinthians verses 9 & 10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Paul goes on to list ten sins and we’ll look at that and say, “Look! Gays and lesbians won’t inherit the kingdom of God.” Funny how we forget the 8 other sins. And if we look at all of them we’ll realize that most of us won’t inherit the kingdom of God. That’s bad news. Praise God Paul did not stop there. He goes on to say, “such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” That is not only good news, that is amazing news. That is news we can declare from the rooftops to the gay and straight communities, any community that needs to know about Jesus Christ. We have to be redemptive in our message. People in the gay community, their main issue is not that they wrestle with same-sex attraction, their main issue is to know Jesus and fully surrender to Him. And we all struggle with this daily.
“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” – Romans 2:4