Homosexuality, Gay Marriage & The Church
(by Chris Long)

If there was ever an issue that society as a whole and churches specifically are wrestling with right now, it would be the subject of homosexuality and "gay marriage". And things are moving fast. Just using California as a barometer, in the year 2000, 61% of people voted to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. A court struck that down so another vote was held in 2008 (the infamous "Prop 8"), which also passed but by a much narrower margin (52% instead of 61%). Just 2 years later in 2010, polls showed that if the same vote was held again, it wouldn't have passed. The point is that the landscape has changed rapidly even in a very short period of time.

Seemingly every corner of our society now is pushing the narrative that homosexuality not only isn't wrong, but is to be celebrated. Literally, it is everywhere, from pretty much every primetime t.v. show in the last 15 years to news outlets to movies to schools to companies and their "diversity training" - this certain narrative is heavily pushed all over society. It has actually become "cool" to say that you are gay. You are now in the "in crowd" and to be looked up to and celebrated if you say you are gay. Just as an example of how prevalent this narrative has become, hardly a day goes by where Yahoo's homepage doesn't feature a major news story or opinion piece in some way discussing or promoting the gay lifestyle / "gay marriage". That's just one example of course, and Yahoo's certainly not alone. It's everywhere in our society.

The issue has also infiltrated our churches and many denominations have been battling this very issue and have been, or are in process of, being ripped down the middle over this. There are already major prominent denominations that held to a certain view for their entire history that in the last decade have done a 180-degree shift. This is a real issue that the Body of Christ has to grapple with in this culture.

Thus, what I hope to accomplish with this article is to take an honest look at what God's Word, the Bible, says about this as well as provide a fuller understanding of the issue across-the-board. I'm not going to hold back - this will be a straight-forward, honest, practical look at the subject. And it may seem "intense" - but whatever you do, make sure you don't miss the end where I shift gears a bit and discuss how we as a Church really need to be handling this issue (and where we've failed in the past).

I'm going to start though by just jumping in and sharing an "intense" Scripture. I love to talk about God's love as much as the next person, but the Bible also talks of God's wrath. Yes, wrath.

Romans 1:18-32 says:

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (NIV 1984)

And now, the bonus text just 1 verse later in Romans 2:2:

"Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth." (NIV 1984)

There is a whole lot in that passage, but we are explicitly told that God judges based on HIS standard of truth. This text as shown above clearly shows that God actually allows people to be given over to wickedness in their unbelief. God honors the choice of men and women that reject Him and His truth and He allows them to do the evil they desire.

This passage tells us a bunch of things that are shown as evil/wicked/wrong/sin. Homosexuality is one of these. Notice that homosexuality is discussed with words such as: "unnatural", "shameful", "indecent". And it specifically spells it out as applying to both male and female homosexuality. It doesn't get much clearer than this. And this is from the New Testament...

But homosexuality, and by extension gay marriage, is not only mentioned in one or two places in the Bible. It is in the Old Testament. And it is in the New Testament. It is in the beginning of the Bible in Genesis. And it is at the end of the Bible in Revelation. And it is in places in-between, such as in the Romans passage above.

Here is just a brief rundown of some pertinent Scriptures that affect homosexuality and the gay marriage issue:

- Romans 1:18-32 (homosexuality called "unnatural" and "indecent" and discussed in the context of God's wrath)
- 1 Corinthians 6:9 (homosexuality is clearly listed in a list of other sins committed by those who are "unrighteous" and "will not inherit the kingdom of God")
- 1 Timothy 1:9-11 (homosexuality is clearly listed in a list of other sins committed by sinners - those who are described as "lawless", "disobedient", and "ungodly")
- Revelation 21:8 & Revelation 22:14-15 (reminiscent of the 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy lists above, but addresses the encompassing "sexually immoral" and "detestable")
- Leviticus 18:22 (homosexuality clearly called an "abomination" / "detestable")
- Leviticus 20:13 (homosexuality clearly called an "abomination" / "detestable")
- Genesis 19 (story of Sodom & Gomorrah - where homosexuality is listed clearly in the context of acting "wickedly" - though this is in the context of rape)
- Jude 1:7 (offers a commentary on Sodom & Gomorrah and references the indulgence in sexual immorality and the pursuing of "unnatural desire" - the account of S&G in Genesis 19 clearly shows this unnatural desire as homosexuality and the Romans passage above uses similar language in reference to homosexuality)
- Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6-8 (In Genesis, we see God establishing marriage between a man and a woman, and Jesus affirms this in Matthew & Mark. God never sanctioned marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. If marriage is more than just a civil act, but is an act as the Bible shows that includes God and His sanctioning, there is no support for "gay marriage" where it's not even an assumed option anywhere in Scripture).
- 1 Corinthians 7:1-3 (notice homosexuality or "gay marriage" isn't even assumed as a viable option, all other Scriptures on marriage are similar)

Don't take my word for it - feel free to go ahead and look these up in any translation you like (i.e. KJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, etc.) Some of the wording might be slightly different from translation to translation, but they are all pretty clear. [I used the ESV and/or NIV 1984 to look up the Scriptures above].

And if you let Scripture interpret Scripture, then there's LOADS more passages as well because the 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9-11 passages which showcase homosexuality as an immoral act, means that many of the myriad other passages referencing the more generic "sexually immoral" also could be taken to encompass homosexuality.

The point is that you have to work REALLY hard to explain it away from the Bible. But that is exactly what many in our churches that try to merge Christianity with homosexuality do. They somehow manage to "explain away" the several clear references to homosexuality in the Bible, including the Romans one from the New Testament, where homosexuality is clearly called "unnatural". They claim that God didn't really mean that homosexuality was an "abomination" when He declared it in the Mosaic law, even though it is referenced right between infanticide and beastiality! Or they claim that it doesn't matter any more because that was the time of law, even though the Bible also tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever - see Hebrews 13:8. If God thought something was an abomination to Him then, I don't think He's changed His mind. It's not like He thinks "Oh well homosexuality is an abomination to me now for the people of Israel, but 2000 years from now I won't care if people commit homosexuality." To counter this, people try to say it was translated incorrectly, etc. When it comes to Sodom & Gomorrah, they explain that homosexuality wasn't really a major sin of Sodom and Gomorrah - even though it is quite clear from reading the text at face value - that it is. They instead claim that the sin was only rape and not being loving or caring for their fellow man, etc. In other words, one by one, a case is given for why we can't just take what God's Word says about homosexuality at face value.

Another common issue that comes up when talking about homosexuality or gay marriage is the "born that way" issue as many people believe that people are born as homosexuals. We've seen above that numerous Scriptures, if you take them at face value, clearly show homosexuality as being a sin. So, in order for a person to claim that God made them a homosexual, they in essence are saying that God made them to sin against Him. Since we know lying and murder are also sins, this would be the same as a person claiming that God made them to be a liar or a murderer. If a person is going to say that God made them gay, that only logically leaves one option: you must reject the Bible by either stating that it isn't really God's Word, wasn't translated right, or in some way isn't really saying what it clearly says. Because you can't, with any intellectual honesty, have it both ways.

I don't think there's any denying that it is clearly true that some people are more prone to 'homosexual feelings' then others. I myself can tell you that as a young teen I had some of these feelings myself. Whether you want to point to your genetic makeup, societal effects (your family environment/those around you), or however you want to explain the "why" for why a person has these feelings - at the end of the day they are just feelings! Whether a person acts on those feelings or not is the issue! I do believe that people may be born with traits that in certain environments could definitely lend towards a person having homosexual desires, and I understand why this could be confusing for the individual because to them they just see it as "who they are" and "how they were made" and so they might think they just need to embrace it. I understand this and since usually these feelings surface in early adolescence (already a confusing time where people are trying to figure out their identity), I understand why it can easily seem like "this is just who I am". But it's not true - The lie that is so commonplace right now is that a person needs to embrace these feelings to "embrace themselves" because that is "how God made them" and thus God approves of those feelings. That they need to embrace themselves as a "homosexual" - to find their identity in being a "homosexual".

When discussing the "born that way" issue, people like to throw out the rare aberrant cases of people born with both male and female genitalia (though for the record, they are not two complete sets). The logic goes that if a person can be born with parts of both sets of genitalia and we don't really know if they are male or female then a person's sexual orientation can be decided at birth also. There certainly are those extremely unusual cases out there of aberrant physical situations which ultimately gets traced back to the Fall back in the Garden of Eden - but that doesn't really affect the underlying homosexuality question. Throughout Scripture, we see that all sin is of the heart. If a person is born with physical characteristics that resemble both male and female and let's say they see themselves and identify as a male, and then have sex with other males even though they know the Bible says homosexuality is wrong - I don't see any difference - it's just as much sin as it would be for someone that didn't have the female components. Even if, just for a crazy argument, they ACTUALLY were female - if they saw themselves male and had sex with men, sin has been committed because sin is a heart issue.

To use cases like this though to say that a person's homosexual attraction and behavior is fixed at birth is quite a stretch. Again, I do definitely believe that people can be born with characteristics that, in concert with certain environmental situations, could absolutely lend more towards them experiencing homosexual attraction and desire. But that doesn't mean they are actually "born gay". But that is what people want to believe because it absolves people of any responsibility. It's a lot easier to just embrace homosexual feelings as "how I was made" than to face the possibility that those feelings are not right before God and may have been spurred on in our lives by (1) our own choices, (2) the choices of others - including our parents and other environmental factors, and (3) the devil - who the Bible says is out to destroy us and has been lying to us about what's true and not since the beginning of time (go read Genesis 3). It's a lot easier for people to just embrace the feelings as "who I am" - to make it their identity. And once that has been done, then the next logical extension is to insist that OTHERS accept their identity and approve of their homosexuality as well - and if they don't, then they are being "haters".

This is the crux of the homosexual issue we see in society right now. The homosexual community finds their identity as human beings in their sexuality rather than God! (read that again!!) Their whole identity is based around that they are a "homosexual". Thus when someone such as myself dares to talk about what God has clearly said about homosexuality, they see it as an attack on them PERSONALLY! They've bought the lie - they've embraced it - rationalized it however they needed to - and made it their identity. That is why they are very passionate on issues such as "gay marriage". They believe that it is their fundamental right because they in the core of who they are, are "homosexuals", and thus they should have the same marriage rights as everyone else who is not a homosexual.

This is WHY they see things like gay marriage as a "civil right." It is because they truly do believe that they are homosexuals just like African-American people are black, etc. They believe they were "born gay" and thus should be a protected group just like an ethnic group is. They don't see homosexuality as a behavior, but as an identity.

Thus, their identity as a person is intertwined with their sin. Because they reject God's word (or rationalize/explain it away) and thus reject God as He has revealed Himself to be, they are obsessed with their "sin identity" of rebellion to God. They want everyone else to affirm them that it is okay that they do this and agree with them that they were born that way. And indeed, they often seem very proud of their sin (which they don't call sin of course) and can get very up-in-arms, almost "militant-like", against anyone who would say that homosexuality (and thus gay marriage) is wrong. Those that do so are labeled "haters."

Look, we all want to believe that sin isn't sin. We can all explain stuff away to fit what we want to believe. You can try to explain away most of the Bible if you want (and many people do) using arguments such as "it wasn't translated right", "God didn't really mean THAT", etc. We can all try to explain away things we don't like!

How foolish for the creation to try to tell the Creator what is right or wrong. We have no place. It is utterly ludicrous. We can think whatever we want. We can have any opinions we want. God gave us the ability to have choice and decide what we want to believe. We can have any opinions that we want. But all that REALLY matters is what God's opinions are. The smartest thing that we can do is align our thinking with what God has revealed about what He thinks. And if people want to label us as backwards-thinking, intolerant, bigoted people, because in simple belief we accept what God says, then so be it. In the end, God will be proven true.

We also know instinctively that certain things are wrong and certain things are right. For instance, we know instinctively that marriage is not to be between a man and a man, a woman and a woman, etc. We know this. This is not rocket science. We know that a woman is not physically made to reproduce with another woman and nor a man with a man. Let's just get blatantly honest here: We know instinctively that the place where a man poops is not made to have another man's sexual organ put up inside of it. We know this innately. We know that all cultures throughout history have been based on marriage between a man and a woman. We know that God himself ordained marriage between a man and a woman. And we know that God Himself has spoken out regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality. We know it is not His plan. We know He did not make us that way. We've just chosen to reject this knowledge so we can claim we are "loving" and "non-judgemental" because, after all, wasn't Jesus loving and non-judgemental? Who wants to deny two people who love each other the RIGHT to be married to each other? You see how easy it is for people who name the name of Jesus to be taken in by such incorrect thinking? But we can't do that any more.

The "pro-homosexual" crowd love to talk about Jesus being loving and non-judgemental. Quite honestly, they don't know the Jesus of which they speak. Any reading of the Gospels will make quite clear that Jesus made all sorts of judgements BECAUSE of His love. He even got a whip and ran everyone out and overturned the tables of those who were selling merchandise in the temple court. (see Matthew 21:12-13). He frequently 'judged' the religious leaders that were misleading the people - calling them among other things, "snakes", "hypocrites", and "blind guides." He talked often of the need for repentance, faith, watching out for false teachers, the "narrow" gate to Heaven, etc.

God most definitely is Love (see 1 John 4:8-9). His heart is one of absolute love for all. He is merciful and He is compassionate. He wants all to come to Him. 2 Peter 3:9 says "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

But He is also righteous. He is just. He is holy. He has standards on what is right and what is not. In order to come to Him, we must acknowledge that we are sinners who have fallen short of His righteous standards. We must acknowledge who we are and what we've done, and then who He is and what He's done for us! He loves us so much that He suffered for us by coming to earth as a man and dying for us as a sinless sacrifice, so all our sin - including homosexuality - could be paid for and we could be with Him forever! He loves you and me that much.

God does love you. He loves you and me more than any person EVER could. And for those that come to Him and accept Him as He is (and not as they think they want Him to be!), He will not only save them for all eternity, but will also give them a new nature now by which they, with His help, are able to live rightly. There are many testimonies of people who originally bought the lie that people are born homosexuals and can't change and need to just embrace it, only to have their eyes opened - realize that it was indeed sin - come to Christ - and find that Christ has the power to help them overcome any homosexual feelings!

We come to God on His terms, or we don't come at all. We don't get to negotiate terms upon which we come to Him. He made the terms. We either believe and accept those terms or we don't. We either believe that there's such a thing as sin or we don't. We either believe that we are sinners or we don't. We either believe that He loved us so much that He paid the penalty for our sin, or we don't. We either believe that the way He provided is the only way for us to be right with Him, or we don't. We either believe that those who choose Him go to Heaven and those who don't choose Him go to hell by their own choice, or we don't. It all comes down to simple belief...simple faith in what God says is so.

Our society is only a drop away from a society where people like me will be put in prison for even writing things like this article. People that speak up for what God says in His word will be convicted of "hate crimes". Mark my words. If a course reversal doesn't happen soon and mass repentance occur, this will be coming (it's already starting!).

The truth of course is that it is my LOVE for people that is prompting me to write this article today. I don't just spend hours on a Saturday afternoon writing about sin and homosexuality because I'm out to hate someone. I am doing it because, as the Scriptures mentioned earlier, God is love and He loves all people and wants all to come to repentance.

Lest anyone reading this start thinking that the guy that is writing all this is setting himself all up as "high and mighty" trying to condemn others, I feel I must share a few things. I certainly am not without sin. Those that know me know that I myself struggled much in the area of sexual purity for many years, and there still is a battle in my mind. I sometimes find myself having a lustful thought that I need to repent of. Given the mercy and grace shown to me, I most certainly am not out to condemn others.

But you see, it is one thing to struggle with sin as a believer, recognize that it is sin, and desire to stop that sin in your life with God's help. As Christians, we have a new nature (spirit) but we still have fleshly patterns we've learned that can produce a struggle. This happens with all believers (myself included!). It is another thing entirely though to claim to be a believer and yet be steeped in sin that you won't even recognize as sin, and worse, even become "proud" of and convince yourself that God approves of. I always take the claims of anyone that says they are a believer seriously, because I don't know the heart and only God REALLY knows and so I need to be careful not to pass the judgement that only God can pass. But it is also true that the fruit of a person's life always eventually shows itself. If someone is claiming to be a follower of Jesus and yet they practice homosexuality or other sin where they won't acknowledge it as sin, are proud of their sin, and defend their sin, then how much of Jesus is really showing in their life? What's the fruit? A life of disobedience to God's Word?

When someone is flaunting sin that God specifically says is wrong, well, it is fair to question just what their relationship really is with Him. Because more likely than not, what has happened is someone is really just using Christianity as a veil so they can still claim they are right with God while doing their sin. Many people that claim to be Christians in actuality have a "smorgasboard religion" of a little of this, a little of that - where they have chosen to embrace things they want to hear but discard things that actually set boundaries for their lives or tell them things they should not do.

God loves you very very much. But He also hates sin very very much. He hates what it brings about in people's lives - which is death (spiritual, physical, eternal). In fact, it is partly BECAUSE He loves you that he hates so much that which would destroy you. All sin, regardless of the sin, brings forth death in its various forms.

Because God does love you and me so much, He provided a way whereby we can all be restored to Him and where as we live in obedience to Him, LIFE will conquer death in all its forms. God is really big on LIFE. He wants you to have life - and life to its fullest (John 10:10).

The main purpose of life here is for each person to choose Life for all eternity. Everything else is secondary to that. Our identity as a person is meant to be found in Him! (not in our sexuality!)

Rather than trying to explain away sin, we need to acknowledge sin as sin, and then turn to the One who paid the penalty for that sin, Jesus Christ.

May we never rationalize sin and try to explain away what God says to try to fit our own agenda. Going back to the Scripture from Romans at the beginning of this article, may we never "exchange the truth of God for a lie" (from Romans 1:25). And, most certainly, may this verse of Romans 1:32 never describe us:

"Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but ALSO APPROVE OF those who practice them." (emphasis mine)

May we instead acknowledge sin as sin both in our own lives and in all humanity. And may we turn to the One who loved us so much that He paid the penalty for those sins on our behalf. This is the Good News - and it is called the Good News because it IS good news.

The reality is that a person can think they are being "open minded" and "tolerant" all day long - convincing themselves that they are "enlightened" and that all who believe what God says are "haters", "bigoted", "closed-minded", "intolerant", and the like. A person can do this if they want - and many do. A person can reject God and His truth in unbelief.

But if He is the standard of truth and we reject that standard because we want to make our own standard of truth and what is right or wrong, we can foolishly do so. He loves us so much that He gives us the choice to choose Him and His truth or not. And if we don't want Him, He, in sadness, will honor that choice. But He loves us and wants what is best for us. We are to simply believe God for what He says. It is that simple. And yet, simple belief - and the obedience that follows - is the hardest thing for humanity to do.

Why? Because we are full of pride and want to do things our way. We want to be "in control" - in control of our bodies; in control of what we do or do not do. We don't like someone telling us that we can't do something. It offends us. We want to be the "master's of our fate"; the determiners of right and wrong. We take offense when someone suggests that we really aren't in control - that there is a standard of right and wrong that is NOT determined by us, but rather by the One that made us. This offends people! It may even be offending you right now!

If God really is God, and God really does have standards on what's right and wrong, and what's good for us and what's not, that's something we really need to pay attention to. It sometimes amazes me just how vehemently someone will defend their unbelief because they want to come to God on their terms. They want God to be who THEY want Him to be, rather than what He clearly has revealed Himself to be.

Really when you get down to it, God is a good God that loves us deeply and wants what is best for us. And men having sex with men, and women having sex with women is not what is best for us and was not God's intention for humanity.

*AN IMPORTANT FINAL WORD*

I am writing this article because of the high-prevalence of this issue in our society that has also deeply been affecting our churches. All of the above straight-forwardly addresses the subject in a no-nonsense kind of way, but the challenge whenever a specific sin is highlighted (in this case, homosexuality) is to not lose proper perspective. Homosexuality is only one of many sins. Yes, I've made the case today that according to God's Word, it is a sin. But, you know what? So are lots of other things. Gossip, according to God's Word, is a sin. Lying, according to God's Word, is a sin. Lusting, according to God's Word, is a sin. And while some of us maybe haven't committed homosexuality, we've certainly committed other sins! And we need to realize this so that we don't get too myopic in our vision in only focusing on a specific sin. ALL sin is wrong, and is the reason why EVERYONE needs Jesus! Homosexuality doesn't condemn anyone to hell any more than lying or lusting or any number of other sins. We have ALL sinned, and thus we ALL need a Savior. The good news is that we have such a Savior! Praise God!

And honestly, we in the church that believe that homosexuality is wrong have done a TERRIBLE job in engaging people and the culture on this issue. This article's target audience is Christians and so it has been written in a very matter-of-fact, let's look at God's Word, style. But this is not necessarily the approach that would win over someone outside the church. In other words, as a general rule, I would not recommend you send this article to someone that does NOT consider themselves a Christian.

We really need to watch our attitude on this issue!

As believers in Jesus Christ, we are called to first love God and secondly to love others. Many people like to use their idea that Christians are "so judgemental" and "unloving" and also that God is unloving as a means of rejecting the Christian's message and Christ himself. This is all fuel that they use to further the hardness of their heart and to remain far from God and His truth. They incorrectly, but understandably, use the love or non-love of Christians to judge Jesus. As we love on them and show them Christ's love as we are called to do in Scripture by Jesus Himself, we lessen their ability to have this as a perceived valid argument in their mind. Or at least it makes it harder for them to hold on to such excuses.

Loving someone doesn't mean you don't share the truth with them, but it does mean that truth is proclaimed in love (see Ephesians 4:14-15) and I would also add that there needs to great wisdom used as to timing both of when to share truth and how to share it. People want to know you love them and care about them FIRST, and then you may have an opening to speak into their lives. I can honestly say that I don't believe I hate anyone. I want to love all and want all to be in a right standing with God. May that be the desire of all who name the name of Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Love, according to Jesus Himself, is supposed to be the trademark of Christians. And sadly, in the world, that is NOT what Christians are known for. And to be honest, that's largely our fault. We are too often seen as exclusive, holier-than-thou's, that are anything but loving. We are known more for what we are against than what we are for. And that's a problem.

We really need to re-think our strategy as a Church. I'm not saying we compromise on the truth. But I am saying we need to give serious examination to our attitudes and approach as we engage on not only this issue, but quite bluntly, a whole host of other issues as well.

You know, all people just want to be loved and to "belong". It's a common denominator that everyone wants. If the church isn't providing an environment that oozes the love of Jesus and where people are welcomed in to an immersive loving environment where they will be loved and valued and find true belonging, they will look for that love and place of belonging elsewhere. And our culture right now is heavily pushing a narrative whereby those that identify as homosexuals are seen as being a "special group" that is really to be celebrated (i.e. "gay pride" etc.). And that's a very powerful draw to people because they can then feel like they are valuable and worth something and cherished and can "belong"; thus it is very easy for people to wrap their identity up in "being gay". The gay lifestyle provides an alternate means of trying to meet these basic needs that really we as the church should be providing a welcoming environment to meet. Again, I'm definitely not saying we should approve of sin - obviously I believe we need to maintain the Biblical standard - this is where many churches have recently been making their mistake as they've basically dismissed the Word of God in favor of being "inclusive". That's wrong and a mistake. But we do need some serious examination as to how we are coming across and ways that we can foster a more loving and inviting atmosphere, both personally and corporately. Again, love needs to be our trademark, rather than only being known for "what we are against". The world should know we are Christians by our love.

A person's embracing of homosexuality is merely a symptom of deeper issues with God, the Bible (i.e. whether it's really "God's Word" or not), and the "Good News" Gospel message. We don't want to make the easy mistake of focusing only on the external sin and getting caught up in trying to deal with this issue on a purely moral plane by just telling people "it's wrong". If the root issues are dealt with, the external manifestations (i.e. homosexuality or other sin) will be taken care of.

Finally, I need to address one other quick angle: How to handle family members or close friends that are in the "gay lifestyle". I know that this is a very real struggle for many believers that DO understand what God's Word says but feel conflicting emotions because of their close relationship with someone in the homosexual lifestyle. I get this and know that it can be a hard and difficult tight-rope to walk, and I don't think there's anything anyone can say that will really make it much easier. As long as we believe what the Word says and also have a loved one in the lifestyle, there will be some unavoidable tension - and that will hurt. They will think we are old-fashioned and narrow-minded and bigoted, and we will think they are only hurting themselves by living in disobedience to God. That will produce some tension no matter what way you look at it.

But I think, again, that love needs to rule the day. We adopt the same attitude that God adopts for us, and that Jesus modeled for us in His association with "sinners". We need to speak the truth in love to them so that they know that we disagree with the lifestyle and why - why we don't think it's best for them (though I also don't think this is something we need to continually bring up or harp on). We don't stop loving them or cast them aside. We still love them; we still do our part to maintain our relationship with them (we can't do their part though); we understand that we are not their judge, but we also don't compromise on our beliefs. We just keep adopting a posture of love and acceptance of them as an individual (not acceptance of their sin - which can be a real challenge because as discussed earlier, they see them as one and the same). So, for instance, if I have a daughter in the lifestyle, I might say something like: "I will always love you simply because you are my daughter and nothing you can do or say will change the fact that I love you." We see beyond the sin to the person that God loves and died for and wants in a right relationship with Him. We need to realize that the homosexuality really isn't the issue, but that it is just a symptom of a deeper issue. Again, that doesn't mean we excuse the sin or "accept it" or in any way lower the Biblical standard, but love needs to pour out of our speech and actions.

This entire article today can be boiled down to two statements:

1. Let's maintain the Biblical standard that the Church, for good reason, has always held.
2. But let's also show & share a heart of love.

Chris Long
Laugh & Lift ministries

P.S. - In the article, I mentioned that views on homosexuality are merely a symptom of deeper issues. There is an absolutely fascinating follow-up to this article (actually an earlier article of mine called "Rationalizing Sin" which has very similar content to this one) that really showcases one of these core deeper issues and really gets into the meat of why some of our churches view homosexuality differently than I do. In the follow-up, you will get to see a real-life showcase as you'll see a pastor from one of these churches respond to my writing, and my response. You can view this follow-up at: http://www.laughandlift.com/personalarticles/rationalizingsinfollowup.html

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This article is Copyright by Chris Long 2014-2017. You may use this article for free for any purpose, whether commercial or non-commercial, as long as you use the entire text and that all text, including this notice, is not modified or removed in any fashion. For any other usage, you must obtain written permission from the author. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

This is version 1.5 of this document (May 14, 2017).
Previous versions: 1.4 (January 5, 2015), 1.3 (July 14, 2014), 1.2 (July 13, 2014), 1.1 (July 13, 2014), 1.0 (July 12, 2014).
Based on several earlier articles, predominantly "Rationalizing Sin" from 2009-2011.
This document is provided as a ministry outreach via Laugh & Lift. http://www.laughandlift.com

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