Homosexuals in the Church: Keep Reading in Ephesians

The progressive wing of evangelicalism seems to be ramping up its demand that Bible-believing churches accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

While homosexuality clearly involves a sub-culture in America, it is also defined by the Bible in moral terms.  The issue, then, is not whether Bible-believing Christians can accept people from a different sociological sub-culture – we can and indeed are eager to do so – but whether we can accept moral behavior that is specifically condemned in the Bible. 

 

The progressive wing of evangelicalism seems to be ramping up its demand that Bible-believing churches accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.  An example is a recent video from Nadia Bolz-Weber titled “I Am the Church.”  The video parades young men and women who briefly state why they come to church, identify themselves with one of the LGBTQ nomenclatures, and insist that they be accepted as Christians.  The basic message is, “I am a homosexual Christian and I am not an issue.”  Of course, the whole point of the video is to make their sexuality an issue and demand acceptance from Christians whose consciences forbid it.  The highlight comes at the end, when Bolz-Weber reads from Ephesians 2:14-15 as sealing the issue: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.”

Before giving reasons why this kind of presentation is not persuasive to Christians who disagree, let me say that I am personally touched by all sincere professions of faith in the grace of Jesus Christ.  The first man in the video speaks of receiving grace and forgiveness in the gospel, and I do not look on him only as a “queer,” as he put it, but as a sinner who like me has a wide range of spiritual needs that are met in Jesus Christ.  I praise the Lord for that.  A woman named Kathleen rejoices that “I don’t have to do anything that makes me worthy or deserving.”  Sinners of all varieties rejoice in the same mercy as we come to God in Christ.  As much as I know that these men and women are being spotlighted to advocate a single issue, I know they are people whose identity far transcends the matter of their sexuality and that Jesus truly is the Savior for all who come to him in faith.

Yet there are vital concerns that I cannot brush aside, given my obligation as a Christian to be faithful to Christ and as a pastor to uphold the Word of God.  Let me therefore respond to the video with three critiques.  They are: 1) Not all divisons are the same; 2) the gospel includes life transformation in a holy direction; and 3) being the Body of Christ involves moral obligations:

  1. Not all divisions are the same. When Paul spoke of “the dividing wall” in the Ephesians passage cited by Bolz-Weber, he was referring to the divide between Jews and Gentiles.  Christ tore down an ethnic/cultural divide, the point being that hostile people are made one as they are all brought near to God through the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:13-16).  While homosexuality clearly involves a sub-culture in America, it is also defined by the Bible in moral terms.  The issue, then, is not whether Bible-believing Christians can accept people from a different sociological sub-culture – we can and indeed are eager to do so – but whether we can accept moral behavior that is specifically condemned in the Bible.  This is why I ask that Nadia Bolz-Weber continue reading in Ephesians.  In Ephesians 5:5 she will find Paul writing: “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”  Comparison with other passages, like 1 Corinthians 6:9 removes any doubt that Paul is including homosexuality and its related sexual deviations.  Therefore, while we would earnestly agree that ethnicity and race are embraced by the unity of the body of Christ, we cannot admit that sexual behavior should be treated in the same way.  Here is the issue that will not go away for Bible-believing Christians, however much pressure is applied to us: the Bible forbids that Christians be homosexuals.  Therefore we cannot agree to the category of Homosexual Christian.
  2. The gospel includes life transformation in a holy direction.  One assertion made in the video was that being Christian means that we don’t have to change.  This is a simple denial of the gospel, which includes not only forgiveness but also sanctification.

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