The sweeping initiatives to win approval and acceptance for the homosexual lifestyle are making tremendous strides. All opposition is being silenced through popular opinion directed by media sitcoms, government decree and political correctness. Is this the end of Christian ministry or is it the beginning of a new era of outreach and redemption?
If it is the beginning of a new era of outreach and redemption how are we to proceed? What kind of churches will show love and compassion while at the same time standing true to the Bible’s teaching on the home, marriage and human sexuality?
The Religion of Secular Humanism
“Separation of church and state” has become the constitutional defense for those who are supportive of these sweeping initiatives, though “separation of church and state” is not a phrase found in the Constitution. The Bible, and biblical morality are out, and radical social innovation is in. But is there really a “separation of church and state” in modern America? Is Secular Humanism really a world view devoid of religion, or is it actually a religion being funded by the American taxpayer?
In order to think clearly about a possible answer, we have to first consider, “What is the definition of religion?” Religion deals with ultimate issues and seeks to answer questions about…
Origins – From whence did we come—primeval slime, or the hand of God? Evolution answers this question, quite wrongly, but the fact that it seeks to answer this question shows that evolution is a religion.
Meaning – What is life all about? Is it about “me”? Should I be the center and focus of my life, or is there something better? Once again, secular humanism addresses this question. Secular humanism is a religion.
Morality – What is right and what is wrong? Do such categories even exist? Can we know right from wrong, and if we can know, what is our source of authority? If it is not the Bible, or some kind of religious dogma, what is the source? Is it human reason and logic? This makes postmodernism a religion.
Destiny – Where will I finally end up—in a hole in the ground where I become organic dust, or an eternal place of either supreme joy or unbelievable misery? So, atheistic materialism is a religion.
It is not a question of whether or not we will have religion in the public sector—we will. The real question: What religion will we have in the public sector? Government may demonize Christians and Christianity, but it will selectively, and hypocritically, allow certain forms of religious expression. The acceptance and de-stigmatizing of homosexuality is being dramatically advanced through the religion of secular humanism.
The Rising Tide from Lobbyists, Educators and the Government
This author lived in the Florida Keys several years ago—that chain of Islands that stretches south and west from the Florida peninsula for almost 150 miles. There are numerous coral islands that are only a few feet above water level at high tide. In a hurricane, or storm surge, the islands literally disappear. Buildings and homes are built high to avoid being flooded. In a storm, the little islands disappear. The rising tide of pro-gay activism creates a similar feeling. The old and familiar landmarks are disappearing in an apparently unstoppable storm surge.
Peter Sprigg, in an informative pamphlet titled Debating Homosexuality, published by the Family Research Council, explains how those who hold to traditional marriage are facing a flood of opposition.
In recent years, activists pushing for a “gay rights” political agenda, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage and the overturning of the law against open homosexuality in the military, have become increasingly virulent in their attacks upon social conservatives who oppose that agenda. Examples of these attacks include a federal judge declaring that the passage of California’s Proposition 8 in 2008 could only have been motivated by hostility toward gay and lesbian individuals, and the 2010 announcement by the Southern Poverty Law Center that it classifies several pro-family organizations as “anti-gay hate groups”(p. 1).
It is becoming increasingly clear that while many people in America do not favor the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, or normalizing the behavior, it is happening nonetheless.
On June 24, 2011 the New York State Legislature voted to legalize same sex marriage. It became the sixth state in the Union to take this momentous step. President Obama applauded the move and stated: “What I’ve seen happen over the last several years, and what happened in New York last week, I think was a good thing. Because what you saw was the people of New York having a debate, talking through these issues” (The President’s remarks at the reception observing LGBT Pride Month, East Room, White House, June 29, 2011).
Did the people have a debate? Did the people talk through these issues, or did the legislature avoid a public debate because they knew that many people would reject legalizing same sex marriage? Marriage was in fact, hijacked by those on the left. The powerbrokers in New York and throughout the country where enjoying victory. The standard for godly morality continued to decline and by September 2013, there were thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, that allow same-sex marriage!
In the spring of 2013 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) declared their support for gay marriage (www.post-gazette.com). Pediatricians are being encouraged to place rainbow decals and other pro-homosexual imagery throughout their offices, and to make all paperwork forms gender neutral, including the elimination of the titles “mother” and “father.” Children are now the primary target of the homosexual lobby. The Homosexual Classrooms Act, the Homosexual Training Bill, and the act of banning, or severely restricting, homo-sexual therapy, are all indicators of how a radical view is sweeping the nation.
The AAP’s decision was condemned by conservative organizations, including the American College of Pediatricians (ACP), whose director said that the AAP “ignores solid evidence of health risks to children in advocating for the legality and legitimacy of same-sex marriage…They base their statement on limited data acquired and accumulated in a biased fashion,” and that “most studies of the children of gay couples only deal with short periods of time.” The ACP concludes that “vast amounts of historical data show that children reared by heterosexual couples in intact families fare the best” (post-gazette.com). In his Family Talk Newsletter, for July 2011, James Dobson writes:
The implications for children in a world of decaying families are profound. Because homosexuals are rarely monogamous, children in those polyamorous (meaning “many lovers”) situations will typically be caught in a perpetual coming and going. Such instability is devastating to kids, who by their nature are inherently conservative creatures. They like things to stay just the way they are, and they hate change. Some have been known to eat the same brand of peanut butter throughout childhood. More than 10,000 studies have concluded that kids do best when they are raised by loving and committed mothers and fathers. They are less likely to be on illegal drugs, less likely to be retained (held back) in a grade, less likely to drop out of school, less likely to commit suicide, less likely to be in poverty, less likely to become juvenile delinquents, and for the girls, less likely to become teen mothers. They are healthier, both emotionally and physically, even 30 years later, than those not so blessed by traditional parents (p. 2).
Indeed, there is a big push to reach children with a new paradigm for marriage and the home. As reported by WorldNetDaily (8/23/13) “Disney Brings Lesbian Moms To TV.” It’s a move that has been described as “chasing the whims of political correctness.” What are the long-term effects of such a redesigning of society? Really, no one knows.
So much of this is like the experimentation taking place with GMO foods. These are genetically-modified foods (bio-tech foods) produced by genetically modified organisms. The European Union, Japan and several other countries will not import American GMO’s. Why? Because this is a new field and no one really knows the long-term effect on the population of the consumption of GMO foods. The same is true with social experimentation. No one knows the long-term effects of same-sex couples raising children. Dobson writes:
With the legalization of homosexual marriage, every textbook will be obsolete and every public school in the nation will be required to teach this perversion as the moral equivalent of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. Textbooks, even in conservative states, will have to depict man/man and woman/woman relationships, and stories written for children as young as elementary school, or even kindergarten, will have to give equal space and emphasis to same-sex relationships. How can a child, fresh out of toddlerhood, comprehend the meaning of adult sexuality? The answer is they can’t, and they shouldn’t, but it is happening in California and Massachusetts, already. Social propaganda to elementary school kids and beyond is already the order of the day (Dobson, p. 2).
Unacceptable Responses To Gay Activism
A natural response to this is a clenching of one’s fists—a fright or flight response. What should the Christian’s response be to the Gaying of America? Here is a short list of unacceptable responses.
1. Give up and hide. This is an unacceptable response because the New Testament never even hints that this is an appropriate response to a culture that seems at odds with the teachings of Jesus. The people of God in the first century AD faced Roman persecution. The Romans felt the Christians were pagan and atheists because they did not bow before statues and did not have a pantheon of deities, but the Christians never gave up and they never retreated.
2. Turn violent. This is an unacceptable response, too. There has been enough violence done in the name of God. The Crusades and The Salem Witch Trials are some examples, though these certainly did not represent behavior that is even suggested by Jesus Christ. The Kingdom does not come by violence on our part. In Luke 9 we read that the Samaritans rejected Jesus because He was heading to Jerusalem.
“And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them” (vss. 54-56).
Getting fire from heaven to incinerate the opposition may be appealing to some, but certainly it is not Jesus’ way of doing things. Some youth literature often prints the letters WWJD—“What Would Jesus Do?” It’s not just the youth who need to remember that.
In his book, What Love Is This? Dave Hunt cites Will Durant’s massive multi-volume tome, The Story of Civilization, to show how Calvin tried to impose Christianity on Geneva. There is certainly no warrant in the New Testament for what Calvin did:
Jewelry and lace were frowned upon. A woman was jailed for arranging her hair to an immoral height…To speak disrespectfully of Calvin or the clergy was a crime. A first violation of these ordinances was punished with a reprimand, further violation with fines, persistent violation with imprisonment or banishment. Fornication was to be punished with exile or drowning: adultery, blasphemy, or idolatry, with death…a child was beheaded for striking its parents. In the years 1558-59 there were 414 prosecutions for moral offenses; between 1542 and 1564 there were seventy-six banishments and fifty-eight executions; the total population of Geneva was then about 20,000.
This cannot be justified from the Bible, and no Christian today, no matter how irked and threatened by the radical gay agenda, ought to even think such would be pleasing to God. Physical coercion is not the kind of persuasion employed by the Holy Spirit.
3. Become harsh, critical, sarcastic and pessimistic. Are there some of us who think we are correctly dealing with this issue by vitriolic attacks against homosexuals? Unfortunately, yes, yes, yes—a thousand times yes! Some of the brethren believe this is the way to handle the “problem.”
For those Christians who are tempted to handle homosexuality in a bombastic and pugilistic manner it is instructive to remember that when Paul addressed homosexuality he spoke about it to Christians. Though homosexual practice was common in certain quarters of the Greco-Roman world, we never find the Apostle Paul, or any other inspired apostle of Jesus Christ, harshly addressing this issue. The New Testament kerygma – the focus and central theme of apostolic preaching– was Jesus Christ, and His death, burial and glorious resurrection. Gay bashing was never a part of the kerygma.
There are some strong words—perhaps seeming harsh to some—from the lips of Jesus and Paul, but they are not addressed to gays, prostitutes, or Roman soldiers.
In Matthew chapter 23 Jesus unleashed a withering barrage of words—“Woe unto you!” “Ye fools and blind,” “Woe unto you…hypocrites!” “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers!”—not against the pagans of the day, but against the religious leaders of Israel.
Paul’s words in Galatians 2:11ff were also stinging, but they were not addressed to lost people but to Simon Peter! – “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” Peter’s hypocrisy was even confusing Barnabas. Peter would normally eat with the Gentiles, until some of the brethren came from James, “but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”
Why These Wrong Responses Are Appealing
The above are a few of the unacceptable responses to gay activism that Christians must avoid. Sadly, unacceptable responses such as these are becoming increasingly acceptable in many quarters of the Christian community. The reason for this is four-fold.
1. Fear. Christians see the aggressive nature of homosexual activism—and it cannot be denied, it is aggressive—and see how the de-stigmatizing of the gay lifestyle is catching on, and many Christians, and social conservatives, experience fear. They read of angry gays storming churches, shouting down speakers at public meetings, and infiltrating local, state and national governments and they see what they believe is a takeover by homosexuals. Christians and social conservatives even see that the gay community is working hard to change the message of Scripture. Gay Bibles with gay-friendly notes and comments, along with a gay denomination, is now part of the 21st-century scene.
We cannot deny that there is a takeover taking place. However, should we be surprised? Should we be shocked as if this were something totally unexpected? We should really be surprised if this were not taking place. Jesus did say,
“And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-29).
So, we shouldn’t be surprised; furthermore Scripture reminds us: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
This doesn’t mean that we should expect life to be easy. Indeed, we may go down fighting, but we are going up shouting! Gay activism should not be regarded as a problem, but as an opportunity. (The pessimist sees problems in opportunities, but we should be seeing opportunities in problems!) That is Scriptural. The Lord had opened the door of ministry and effective outreach to the Apostle Paul, and he added: “and there are many adversaries” (1 Cor. 16:9).
2. An erroneous belief is that homosexuals are beyond redemption. It may be shocking to some, but homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. What is the unpardonable sin? It is attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. “And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils…But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: Because they said, He hath an unclean spirit” (Mark 3:22, 30).
For many it feels better to slam homosexuals than to seek to redeem homosexuals. How does God feel about redemption, forgiveness and life change? What makes God really happy—slamming sinners or saving them? Jesus said: “But I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance” (Lk. 15:5). And again Jesus said: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (Jn. 3:17).
Is God perhaps daring each one of us to unconditionally love those who make us uncomfortable, and maybe even angry?
With all of the pent up anger, and even rage, it has a purging effect to slam homosexuals, sort of “blowing off steam to relieve stress.” Of course, the very effect of “blowing off steam” may produce far more stress in the long run. Angry words are like birds let out of a cage—they are hard to retrieve.
Christian ideals are very important, but it is often easier to fight for our ideals than to live up to them. Yes, we have to defend and maintain the Biblical paradigm for marriage and the family. Marriage is union of one man and one woman for life. The Christian home is to be a place of peace, love and acceptance, not a battleground. That is God’s ideal. Are we living up to that ideal? Do some of us need to take the beams, planks, and rafters out of our own eyes before we work on someone else’s eye? (see Matt. 7:4-5).
3. Another erroneous belief is that homosexuals choose to be gay. So, if homosexuals choose to be gay, as the popular thinking goes, they are “that way” because of a malicious, devilish, and demonic choice on their part. Their passions are inflamed with people of the same sex because they want it that way. But is that really true? Is it true that homosexuals choose gayness?
Like the fuzzy math in some of the new curricula, fuzzy thinking gives us the wrong answer. Homosexuals do not choose same sex attractions. What is chosen is how they will respond to those same sex attractions. “…while people do not ‘choose’ to experience same-sex attractions, they do choose whether or not to engage in homosexual conduct (and also choose whether or not to publicly self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual” (Sprigg, p. 8).
Mike Haley, a former practicing homosexual, has written an excellent book titled, 101 Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality (Harvest House, 2004). The following is somewhat of a lengthy quote to show how a number of experiences over which an individual has no control, and did not personally choose, can affect the outworking of that individual’s behavior.
My story is not that different from the story of many homosexuals. My family includes men and women of faith on both sides, and as a young boy I asked Christ to be my Savior. But I was the only son of a father who owned a chain of sporting goods stores—the ultimate “man’s man.” I was expected to be the best football player, the best basketball player, the best baseball player, and the best of everything my father could possibly make me. But I could not live up to those expectations.
Instead of identifying with my father and emulating him, I gravitated to the security and acceptance my mother and sisters provided, and soon my father began to angrily label me as “sissy” and “worthless” in front of his macho friends. Sometimes he would ask me, “Why don’t you just go in the house and be with your mom and sisters? That’s where you’d rather be anyway!”
Before long, one of my dad’s employees began to show me some much needed attention. The man took me to Disneyland and to the beach. He affirmed who I was and provided the male attention I so desperately craved. When I was 11 years old, that attention turned sexual. My need to be affirmed by a man was met in the most inappropriate way imaginable.
I was too young to recognize this misguided attention for what it really was—sexual abuse. The relationship continued through junior high and high school, and by the time I graduated, I’d jumped head-first into the homosexual lifestyle. But realizing that my same-sex attractions and relationships didn’t jibe with the things I heard at church, I confided my homosexual struggle to a high school counselor. Her response? You must need to realize that you were born gay. Get rid of your internalized homophobia and embrace your homosexuality (p. 15ff).
In this account we have to ask: Was the author responsible for being called a “sissy”? Was he responsible for the attention given to him by one of his dad’s male employees and the way this employee affirmed the author? Was he responsible, at age 11, for the way the relationship went? Was he responsible for the bad advice the high school counselor gave him? Did he maliciously and deliberately choose all of this?
So, then, what now? Right Responses
1. Pray. When the government, the leaders of the nation, psychology, the intellectual elite, the public schools, media and many others institutions and individuals are attacking, criticizing, and jettisoning Bible morality, you know that this is spiritual warfare. Satan is up to something and he is working out his strategy. Such warfare is likened to wrestling and takes great effort. It is sometimes hand-to-hand combat. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,” we read in Ephesians 6:12, “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
2. Study the culture. The current drive to legitimize same sex relationships has not occurred in a cultural vacuum:
· There have been repeated, multiple attacks on the Bible. Therefore, we need to emphasize the reasons why the Bible is completely reliable. In a compassionate ministry to gays we must focus on Biblical authority, not on homosexuality. Quoting Scripture will have little value. They will say, “Yes, that’s what the Bible says, but I don’t believe the Bible.” If the Bible is accepted and trusted, as it should be, it will have credibility. Our ultimate appeal ought to be “thus saith the Lord.”
· The institutional church is weak, formal and lifeless. Therefore, we need to recapture and apply the New Testament concept of the church. The church is not an institution, but an organism, with a head and a body. Life is infused into this organism by the Holy Spirit. Do we believe that with all of our hearts, or do we just give lip service to this key truth.
· Many professing Christians are more in love with the world than with Christ and His work. Our priorities are wrong and we can become self-centered rather than Christ-centered. Therefore, we need to rekindle the flames of our first love (see Rev. 2:4). All of our preaching and pontificating will have little effect unless we allow Christ to live out His life through us as we yield to Him as Lord in every aspect of our lives. It is easier to fight for our ideals than live up to them; but we effectively fight for our ideals by living up to them.
3. Study the Scripture. This may sound like a redundancy and something that we already know but, sadly, there is still much ignorance in even Bible-believing churches.
· A knowledge of Scripture will help us to avoid overstating the issue (“Homosexuality is the unpardonable sin”) or understating the issue (“It really doesn’t matter”). Any time a moral issue threatens to undermine the family, violate the precepts of Scripture, use the force of the law to cause people with sincerely-held beliefs to violate those beliefs—it really DOES matter!
· A knowledge of Scripture will establish balance in our approach to this issue. It’s common in many Christian circles to equate Sodom with homosexuality, but, in fact, some Scriptures equate Sodom with many different sins. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Ezek. 16:49-50).
Sodom’s real problem—and it is the problem today—was pride.
An interesting question arises: does “abomination” always mean homosexual practices? Many Christian writers think so, but let’s look at the biblical data.
Leviticus 18:22 states: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” The word has an awesome growl to it and is often flung from pulpits with a sanctimonious roar; yet in Scripture homosexuality is not the only thing referred to as an abomination: covetousness (Deut. 7:25), idolatry (Deut. 12:31), dishonest dealings (Deut. 25:16), and several others. Proverbs 6:16 states: “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him.” Interesting, isn’t it, that same sex relations are not even included in the list of abominations.
Do we Bible-believing Christians have some kind of a crazy fixation that invariably connects Sodom with sodomy? Might it be that we are trying to avoid the real sin, one which grips us all in some measure—pride?
4. Study human nature.
· There is an old proverb that is told in India: “Don’t give a man a rose after you have cut off his nose.” If you have destroyed his organ of smell, what good would the gift of a sweet-smelling flower do but make him angry? For this present discussion this means “You can’t speak of the love of God in an unloving way and expect a positive response. You won’t get it.”
· Christian parents who go through the shock of having a son or daughter “come out” because they have faithfully raised their kids in church and Sunday school often ask: “Pastor, please give me a verse that will help me win the argument with my son or daughter that what he or she is doing is not right.” In many cases this is the wrong thing to do. They have already read the Bible and know what it says about homosexuality. They don’t need more arguments, more Scriptures, better translations of the Bible, more books and articles on the subject of homosexuality and anything else that people often think of. They need acceptance and love—something that they haven’t found at home but have found in abundance with their gay companions. In trying to marshal more arguments such parents are driving their kids further away!
Most of us have friends or relatives who smoke. They already know the dangers of smoking. Yet, their concerned friends and loved ones try to unload more facts and figures, statistics and sob stories, so that they can show the smoker the danger he’s in and persuade him to give up that nasty habit—but most likely, the hacking cough, high blood pressure, the stale taste left in the mouth, the surgeon general’s warning, the anti-tobacco campaigns have been giving many loud and clear messages. The smoker is virtually buried in an avalanche of arguments against smoking—yet the smoker still smokes. He doesn’t need more data.
· We need to study human nature because reaction to anti-gay violence is deep-rooted in the human heart. On October 7, 1998 two motorcyclists in Wyoming passed what they thought was a scarecrow tied to a fence to frighten off crows. But it was no scarecrow. It was the battered body of 22-year old Matthew Shepherd lashed to a fence in frigid weather and left to die. He was brought to a hospital, where he remained in critical condition until he succumbed five days later. The night before he was found, he had left a local bar with Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson. McKinney’s defense attorney initially laid out the claim that Shepherd had sexually propositioned the defendant and McKinney’s anti-homosexual reaction was uncontrollable. Of course, the left-wing media played this up; but it did have an effect on homosexuals: “Straight people are on a rampage and we need protection.”
What was the effect of all this, and how did it create a climate where gays were portrayed as victims of mean-spirited Christians who would resort to violence and even murder?
In his excellent book, The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible (Harvest House, 2007), pp. 90-93, Joe Dallas summarizes how this incident was played up by the media. He speaks of Katie Couric, host of The Today Show, and her interview with Wyoming’s then governor Jim Geringer. At the end of the interview she revealed her real agenda:
And finally, Governor, some gay-rights activists have said that some conservative political organizations like the Christian Coalition, the Family Research Council, and Focus on the Family are contributing to this anti-homosexual atmosphere by having an ad campaign saying, “If you’re a homosexual, you can change your orientation.” That prompts people to say, “If I meet someone who is homosexual, I am going to take action and try to convince them or try to harm them.” Do you believe that such groups are contributing to this climate?
Katie Couric wasn’t the only one sounding this note. NBC’s David Gregory was harping on the same song. “The ads were controversial for portraying gays and lesbians as sinners who had made poor choices, despite the growing belief that homosexuality may be genetic. Have the ads fostered a climate of anti-gay hate that leads to incidents like the killing of Matthew Shepherd?”
What will a study of human nature do for us? It will help us to explain the gay hostility and anger toward us and why they feel we are dangerous. Bible-believing Christians who are disciples of Jesus are certainly NOT dangerous. But we can understand why they perceive us to be. This should serve as a warning to those conservative, fundamental Christian ministries that think they are serving the Lord, and upholding the faith, by angry verbal attacks against gays. IT MUST STOP! If it is not done willingly, there will be more hate-crimes legislation and more restrictions on Christian broadcasting.
But was Christian teaching really to blame for the murder of Matthew Shepherd? Joe Dallas answers this question:
First, the ads in question by no means suggested anyone should, as Couric rather wildly implied, “Take action and try to convince” a homosexual or “harm” him. They were testimonials, not instructions in violence…When weight-loss ads feature testimonials of people who’ve shed 30 pounds, do people read them and then get the idea to take action and try to convince an overweight person to diet or harm them if they don’t….Secondly, McKinney and Henderson didn’t go straight from church to the bar where they met and targeted Shepherd. Nor had they just left a Focus on the Family meeting…Nothing in their trial, in fact, indicated they’d been aware of, much less influenced by, any Christian material…Finally, in a later twist to the story, after being sentenced and having begun their life terms in prison, the killers themselves have denied anti-gay hatred had anything to do with their actions that night (pp. 93-94).
Yet, of course, the media found a powerful ally in their crusade against family values that would be used to bludgeon pro-family supporters. Dallas concludes by observing:
The gay-rights movement had now turned a significant corner. Shifting from the rallying cry of “Treat homosexuals fairly” in the ‘60s to “Homosexuality is normal” in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, a new theme was added in the late ‘90s, in the shadow of a horrendous crime: “Opposition to homosexuality must be stopped.” That theme would be amplified, and continues to this day, as a focal point of gay rights (pp. 93-94).
These words should be a wake-up call to all who stand for biblical family values. It is to our detriment that we cripple our efforts at making Christ known by senseless quips that serve no good —like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”—and by hateful rhetoric.
The Pattern of Christian Growth
The bible teaches that regeneration produces a sharp break with the old life. It is called the “new birth.” Justification is instantaneous, and once-for-all. A person who has been a Christian, and who has been growing in the faith for the last fifty years, is no more justified today than fifty years ago.
However, while God loves us just as we are He loves us too much to keep us that way. We are justified by faith once-and-for-all, but sanctification—Christian growth—is a continuing, life-long process whereby we become more like Christ.
A Short Quiz
1. Can a person be saved who struggles with a same sex attraction? (Y/N)
2. Can a person biblically consider him/herself a Christian who struggles with a same sex attraction? (Y/N)
3. Is it possible for a person who harbors hatred in their heart to be a Christian? (Y/N)
4. Is it possible for a person who is living in a same-sex relationship to be a Christian? (Y/N)
5. Should our evangelistic invitation be: “Stop sinning and come to Jesus”? (Y/N)
Another Short Quiz
1. Is it possible for a person to be a Christian who makes the following statement? “I know that the law of God is holy, and the commandment holy, fair and good.” (Y/N)
2. Is it possible for a person to be a Christian who makes the following statement? “We know that the law of God is spiritual, but I am fleshly and sold under sin.” (Y/N)
3. Is it possible for a person to be a Christian who makes the following statements? “Oh, horrible man that I am! Who is going to rescue me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Y/N)
The above statements are essentially quotes, in modern language, from Romans 7:12, 14, 24-25. Some claim that Paul was speaking as a non-Christian; yet in response to this we ought to note that these statements are in the present tense. Paul also acknowledges Jesus Christ as his Lord.
The Apostle’s struggles are clearly evident. Vs. 15: “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” Vs. 19: “For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that do I.”
The Church At Corinth In The First Century
There are many Christians who suffer from “the-good-old-days syndrome.” We remember the good old days and long for those good old days. But were they really that good? How about the church at Corinth? Surely, it existed in the apostolic period, “the good old days.” So, let’s see how good the Church at Corinth really was.
1. People were carnal – “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ” (3:1).
2. Behavior was more scandalous than that of pagans – Incest – “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife” (5:1).
3. Disorder at the Lord’s Table – “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep (1 Cor. 11:30).
4. Denial of the resurrection – “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:12).
So, then, was this gathering of people in Corinth a church, or was it a den of snakes?
It is significant to note how the Apostle addresses this group: “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints…” (1Cor. 1:1-2). The Apostle never, in the introduction of the letter, or anywhere else in the letter, ever hinted that they were unsaved. He never made any qualification, or carefully guarded his words by saying something like “unto the true church of God which is at Corinth,” or “unto the true and faithful believers in the church of God which is at Corinth.”
The Apostle was quite unhappy with the things that were going on there. He did point out that they were carnal, disobedient, and doctrinally confused. His goal was to encourage them to walk in the ways of truth, to respect one another, and to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. Our goal, like Paul’s, should always be obedience and conformity to the example of Christ. That was Paul’s goal. Why? Because Christians often fall far short of that goal!
This raises some very important questions. What happens to the old desires and sinful proclivities after a person is saved? Do they completely vanish? Does the saved alcoholic lose all desire for booze? And what about a converted homosexual—does the same sex attraction disappear?
“Ex gay” or “Post gay?”
Peter Ould, an Anglican priest, is a former practicing homosexual who now is married and has children. He prefers to be known as a “post gay” rather than as an “ex gay.” He writes: “A dispassionate reading of the Scriptures shows very clearly that God didn’t intend for us to have sex outside of the marriage relationship, with male and female. So I could see very clearly that that life option (same-sex activity) and those things that celebrated it (‘gay’) were not the direction God wanted me to take.” Ould develops this thought.
I think the main problem with ex-gay is that it is an ontological statement. It presents, intentionally or not, the one who calls himself as ex-gay as one whose sexual orientation has changed from gay to straight. He/she is claiming to have gone from one state of being (gay) to another (straight). And while that is the case for many who are ex-gay, for others it isn’t so clear. For some sexual desires move more towards those of the opposite sex but not to a point where they are exclusively heterosexual in their attractions…The alternative is ‘post-gay.’ Post-gay isn’t an ontological statement, it’s a vectorial statement. For those uninitiated in the deeper arcane magicks (sic) of mathematics a vector is simply an expression of a direction and magnitude. It describes a movement, not a position (which is ontology). Post-gay then is less about being straight or gay and rather about a choice of a journey.
Perhaps a personal example to clarify. I’m post-gay because I chose to leave ‘gay’ behind. I chose to no longer accept ‘gay’ as an explanation of who I was and instead to begin a journey away from it. I chose to do so because I was convinced from the Scriptures that ‘gay’ wasn’t a suitable way to describe myself, that it wasn’t a valid way for a Christian to establish identity. I was compelled not just by reading the normal passages on the subject but also from the story in John 8:1-11 of the woman caught in adultery. In particular Jesus’ last words to her are, “Go now, leave your life of sin” (www.peter-ould.net).
It would appear that, in view of Romans 7 and the considerations brought forth from
1 Corinthians, that Ould’s comments are very much in line with the Bible.
What Kind Of An Assembly Can Lovingly Reach Out
To People With Same-sex Issues?
When speaking on this topic in conferences, youth groups, and in informal table-talk settings with pastors, questions often come up such as: “What should I do if a gay couple starts coming to our church?” “What should I do if a lesbian couple enrolls their little boy in Vacation Bible School?”
This author does not pretend to have all the answers. However, there are certain characteristics of a church, or assembly of believers, that are essential in lovingly reaching out to people with same-sex issues.
1. An assembly that proclaims the whole counsel of God as revealed in Scripture; an assembly that teaches, and also defends, the integrity, reliability and full authority of the Bible on everything that it addresses.
While we want to reach out to gays we want to reach out with the unadulterated Word of God. Political correctness will not change a life. However, we must also defend the Scripture against the many attacks that are leveled against it. Defending creationism against the supporters of evolution will go a long way in establishing the credibility of Scripture on every subject, including what it says about human sexuality. There is so much good material written by credentialed scientists on the integrity and truthfulness of the Bible that lends credence to the validity of the Bible on gender issues—even though you don’t talk about gender issues.
Moreover, in proclaiming the whole counsel of God we must remember that Bible prophecy is an important aspect of the Biblical revelation. Rapture and resurrection, the Great Tribulation, mark-of-the-beast technology and God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel all serve to heighten the compelling power of God’s revelation.
2. An assembly where the leadership thinks biblically and independently of circumstance.
Some in conservative theological circles are reactionary in their theology. They don’t think independently of circumstances, but simply react to circumstances. Often their preaching is reactionary, bouncing from one extreme to the other. You often hear them preaching on what they are against. It is this kind of thinking that leads to gay bashing in the pulpit.
It is far better to form our theology on the basis of a clear exegesis of the Word of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit. This is the way to avoid hysterical distortions of Scripture, sloppy hermeneutics that promote eisegesis (reading one’s pet theories and biases into Scripture) rather than exegesis (basing one’s views on a careful study of the Word of God.
3. An assembly where the leadership is always open to the Spirit of God and is willing to repent of biblical distortions and misguided zeal.
In 1981 Professor Richard Lovelace at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary made a comment in Christianity Today: “Most of the repenting that needs to be done on the issue of homosexuality needs to be done by straight people, including straight Christians. By far the greater sin in our church is the sin of neglect, fear, hatred.”
4. An assembly that views God and His Word as change agents.
True change comes from God. However, God doesn’t always work on our timetable. We often grow impatient.
One pastor who has gay couples in his church said this: “If I stand in the pulpit and say: ‘God loves you just as you are, and he’s going to help you change,’ will they really change right then? I think there’s a desire in us to control the time and way in which people grow in God.”
This pastor went on to point out that it is essential for Christian leaders who stand on the Bible as the Word of God to trust God “to work out his will in the lives of people as he wants.”
5. An assembly that guards its language and avoids demonizing slurs and “homophobic-cute” slurs and phrases.
As the conflict between radical gays and conservatives grows in intensity, there is the tendency to make jokes, and to develop slurs and phrases. These are counter-productive. Our goal should be to win people, not insult them.
6. An assembly that doesn’t expect quick fixes and that is committed to long-term ministry to reach out to people with gender identity issues.
God can completely change a person’s heart and provide a “quick fix,” but he may choose not to do so. Gender identity issues and the resultant problems may have been taking root since childhood and may have been reinforced by misinformation, sexual abuse, confused friends and companions, and a host of other issues. They are often deep seated and reach into every corner of the human heart.
7. An assembly where the leadership is building a network of Christian professionals who have the gifts to tailor their counseling to a person’s needs and profile.
Sometimes denominational churches, or churches with a distinctive theological stance, are reluctant to step out of their own particular group. They don’t want to be considered “disloyal,” or “liberal.” They may be restricted from stepping across denominational lines because of the secret fear that “we might lose our people to their church.” It is important to admit, however, that not everyone has the same gifts. Some individuals and ministries may be more effective than others in counseling, and dealing with issues of this nature.
As we close, it is necessary to stress that this paper is by no means “the last word” on this important issue. Indeed, the person who claims to have “the last word” is revealing that he really has “no word.”
In one way, homosexual sin is just like any other sin. It is not God’s best for that person, but there is transforming power and grace available for that person. Neither should it be singled out as a more egregious, serious sin, than other sins.
But in order to be fair, we should point out that it is an issue that is being used by big government liberals to fashion a new world order devoid of Christian truth and Biblical morality. Almost every day courts and legislatures are penalizing Christians who take a Biblical stance on this issue. “Gay rights” often has come to mean “no rights” for others.