The Bible affirms the importance of human relationship and provides wise guidance on how to we can be healthy and happy people here and in eternity. God as our creator made us as we are, knows what is best for us under all circumstances, and made the guidelines clear in his Word. He also knows what will wreck our lives and bring destruction of body, soul and society.
Was there ever a country taken over as quickly in our lifetime as Crimea was? So quickly did that annexation come that the world could not even get its diplomats in place when for all practical purposes it was over. I cannot recall anything happening as fast as that since studying the sinking of that great ship, the Titanic. Down she went to the bottom in a matter of hours.
We in the Christian Reformed Church have neatly tucked away a very fine denominational position statement on homosexuality, affirming that love, support, and encouragement should be given to those who experience same-sex attractions while maintaining that homosexual practices are “incompatible with obedience to the will of God” as is all other sinful practices. Our statement is clear, but what are we as a Church body and as individuals in that body doing to address the cataclysmic shift taking place in our culture on these matters and actually embracing for ourselves the responsibilities that our statement calls us to, namely addressing with the life changing gospel those overtaken in “explicit and overt homosexual practices.”
One might wonder just how fast is our culture changing? So quickly is this wave overcoming us that only two years ago no major national candidate could win an election who endorsed the gay agenda, [New York Times for 4/6/14] and now the reverse is true. The church as a body and we as individuals have a scriptural obligation to speak to the world on moral issues and not give our silent consent to evil.
I write this simply wanting to begin another denominational conversation, for I have read a great deal, thought and prayed long and hard on this and still do not see clearly either the biblical norms and how they actually apply, nor the way to really reach out in love and effectiveness to those caught within these sinful practices. Pastors have training in handling the other sexual sins, but the sexual sins becoming so dominant today bring in their wake very little counsel so far for helpers and many undiscussed problems to work out. Yet we are biblically commanded to “to speak out to warn the wicked to turn from their wicked deeds and lifestyle so that they may live” (NET, Ezek. 3:1). We also hopefully can follow in the steps of Jesus who was able to treat first the heart and then tell his listeners to go and sin no more.
May the following seven things begin to move us to thinking and action. The Lord seems to say in his word to all sinners, and that includes those in the LGBT community:
- I love you because I created you and came to save you! (Ps. 86:15; Jo. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; I Jo. 4:8-10). The God of the Bible from ancient times is known as being a loving and compassionate God who is full mercy and love, especially for those who will come to him. Christ, the Son of God, was sent to win the hearts of sinners to God so that they could have a full and free relationship with the Lord for eternity. The reality is that God sent Christ into this world even though all had rebelled against God and no one really on their own sought God’s friendship. When all peoples were still rebels Christ died to save those who would receive Him as their Savior. Christ came to save the lost no matter what they have done or who they are. When that happens, God is both our creator and savior.
- I understand rejection for I was rejected (Isa. 53:3; Ezek. 18:21-23; Mt. 26:55-56; Mt. 27; Mk. 3:20-21). Christ Jesus, who came to earth to save sinners, was rejected. He was rejected by his own nation and people. He was rejected by his personal followers, the disciples. He was rejected by the leaders of his country. He was even rejected most of his ministry life by his own family. It was not until he arose from the grave that any of his brothers and sisters believed in him. In fact, the most familiar Old Testament title for him which was carried over into the N.T. was “Man of Sorrows.” Rejection is a horrible and tragic thing to endure, but Jesus said, “Anyone who comes to Me, I will not send away/reject!” (John. 6:37).
- I also understand temptation for I was tempted (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:15-16; 12:2-3 7-11). The New Testament book of Hebrews makes a rather strong point that Christ Jesus was seriously tempted in every way just as everyone else is tempted, yet without sin. The Gospels tell the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness when he was at his weakest physical condition. To be tempted is not a sin, but the yielding to the temptation is. God’s promise is good for you also: “God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear, but will with the temptation also provide a way to escape that you may be able to bear up under it” (I Cor. 10:13).
- I understand wanting a different identity (Mt. 26:39; Phil. 2:6-11). All of us at one time or another go through times when either we wish we were someone else, or not who we are. Does it surprise you that Jesus did also? In the reference in Matthew Jesus was in such grief over what was ahead for him that he fell to the ground and begged his Father to make this cup pass from him. The cup was becoming the sacrifice of death for you and me. It seems he would have done anything to switch places and bypass becoming our sin. But he did not! In the verses in Philippians there is a partial description of what Jesus left behind in heaven. I am sure that in a certain sense Jesus experienced some sort of regret as he was leaving heaven for this sinful and mixed-up world to spend 33 1/2 years in a sort of exile. In human terms we would say that a person in such a situation would wish to switch places and let another go in his stead.
- I want more for you than just temporary, physical satisfaction—find your joy and satisfaction in Me, your Savior! (Mt. 19:4-6; Eph. 3:17-21; I Tim. 2:4). Neither the Bible nor Jesus do deny the physical pleasures of life. They do tell us that physical pleasures are fleeting and temporary and must be under the control of the laws that God has set up, or the warmth of pleasure will become the fire that burns the house down. The Scriptures also at every turn tell us that the spiritual is eternal and the physical is temporal. That is why Jesus taught and the apostles passed on things like, “Set your affections on things that are above/in the heavens and not on things that are below/only here on this earth” (Col. 3:2). And “The one who sows to the flesh shall reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit shall reap everlasting life” (Gal. 6:8).
- The sexual sin you are committing is ruining your body and condemning your soul (Gen. 19:1-28; Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Ezek. 16:46-50; Mk. 10:6; Jo. 10:35; Rom. 1:18-27; I Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 7-8). This article is not about tendencies or attractions but rather explicit and overt homosexual relations. The Scripture teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that the sexual relationship is to be expressed within this relationship. Biblical teaching confirms this truth by pointing to the creation ordinance where God made man and woman and declared the two were to become one flesh. All other joining of flesh is looked upon by Scripture and hence the universal church (up until very recent times), as being unnatural (“against nature;” Rom. 1:26-27) and sinful. The Bible affirms the importance of human relationship and provides wise guidance on how to we can be healthy and happy people here and in eternity. God as our creator made us as we are, knows what is best for us under all circumstances, and made the guidelines clear in his Word. He also knows what will wreck our lives and bring destruction of body, soul and society. Paul said in Romans 1 that sexual sins are “the seeds of destruction and their own ruin to those involved.”
- I want the eternal best for you and when you too want that, I will be here for you! (Hos. 14, Rom. 2:4; I Pet. 5:7; 2 Pet. 3:9). The pleading passages of Scripture are too many to list. God is pictured as the one who is asking the question of the nation Israel, “Why will you die in your sins?” Jesus is the Savior who says, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden down with your sins, and I will give you rest for your soul.” Then as he enters Jerusalem for the last time he weeps over the hard-hearted people of that city, crying loudly: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you. How many times would I have gathered you as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wing, and you would not! Your house is left unto you desolate!” (Mt. 23:37-38).
Many people speak up for the rights of the LGBT community, and they should have the same rights as anyone else. But who speaks for God? He warns all of us that we can destroy ourselves through sinful forms of behavior and living. This is true for all forms of addictions and behavior: to alcohol, to drugs, to work, and to sexual vices in all their forms. What does Jesus say to all of us no matter how sin has taken hold of us:
- repent (first a change of mind then a turning, a change of actions) from all sin and wrong
- believe and trust/rest in Me as your Savior
- receive the free gift of eternal life and live forever
An important word: When we do come to Christ he does not promise to take away every thorn, scar and maladjustment that our sinful world, sinful nature and sinful acts leave behind as long as we are in this body of flesh. But he does promise earthly and eternal peace of heart and mind as he gives us his grace to bear up under any and all trials (II Cor. 12:7-10). Over time, through the process of Christian growth, believers come to understand that they are called to be conformed to Christ and they fix their eyes on this wonderful goal. As someone once said: “When you give God your heart, he will comb the kinks out of your life in due time.”
George M. McGuire is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.