Premise number four is that the Bible may condemn lustful, indiscriminate homosexuality but not loving, committed homosexual practice. This has been the position of a lot of mainline churches and is moving in to more evangelical circles.
And what I want to do is just go through some very clear, direct, what’s the Bible actually say?
You see from creation the intent of God, “Let us make man in our own image,” “male and female.” The inferred, clear design is heterosexuality. When God wants to solve the aloneness problem of mankind, those deep needs that everyone has to be connected, and loved, and affirmed, and understood, Chapter 2 verse 18 says He creates Eve – a heterosexual relationship.
There are certain things that only a woman can bring out of a man and there are certain things that only a man can bring to a woman. And that’s by God’s design.
In Genesis 19, we have the first experience of homosexuality being endorsed in a whole culture. And you have the judgment of Sodom. In the literature by people who say, “I’m gay and Christian” and there’s a movement to revamp some biblical views they would say, “No, that’s not homosexuality. That’s an issue of inhospitality.”
But as you study the passage very clearly you see Jesus quoting this passage. The issue there is wickedness as evidenced, in one way, not exclusively but in one way by sodomy or homosexual practice.
When you get to the Old Testament you have the Levitical Law. But the Levitical Law is more than just ceremonies. In the Old Testament, in Leviticus, you have ceremonial law, you have dietary law, you have laws for the priests, and then you have just moral laws.
God says certain things. He took this people who were living in Egypt, with all these vile practices, and He takes them into this place called Canaan and in Canaan these people are worshipping in ways that are just unbelievable with all kind of sexual practice, offering their kids to idols.
And so in Leviticus God’s going to lay down some laws about, “I don’t want you to be like these nations that I’m going to kick out.” And He goes through a number of very specific things that has to do with a violation of character. Not just ceremonial law, but it’s moral law, that’s taken into the New Testament.
And I’m going to read through Leviticus 18:21 to 25 because often when I hear Christians quote this they just pull out one verse. And what I want you to get is the context. I want you to hear, “Homosexuality is egregious sin that’s very serious but it’s not just because it’s in the Old Testament.”
It says, “Do not give,” verse 21, “do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of the Lord your God. I am the Lord. Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
“Do not defile yourself in any of these ways because this is how the nations that I’m going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin and the land vomited out its inhabitants.”
All I want you to see is that God’s really strong on this because of what it does. It’s detestable. Leviticus is about, “I want you to be holy. I want you to be pure the way I am.”
In chapter 20, He’ll list yet another consequence of these kind of behaviors and all I want you to see is adultery is in there. God is saying to the people, “I don’t want you living the way these other nations are. It is unholy. It’s destructive.”
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” That’s pretty strong. “If a man sleeps with his father’s wife he has dishonored his father, both the man and the woman must be put to death. Their blood will be on their own heads.
“If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death. What they have done is a perversion. Their blood is on their own heads. If a man lies with another man as one would lie with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable, they must be put to death, their blood will be on their own heads.
“If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it’s wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire so wickedness should not be among you. If a man has sexual relations with an animal he must be put to death and you must also kill the animal.”
Now you need to understand, God sets up a nation, it’s a theocracy, these laws and these punishments are for the nation of Israel during that time, and there is a New Testament era that is different. But what I want you to get is how serious this is, in terms of the moral standard, for God.
By the way, that’s how serious adultery is. That’s how serious other sins are.
Finally, the unequivocal and clear passage in Romans chapter 1, and as I read this, what I want you to notice is that homosexuality is one of the issues.
What I’d like you to do, to be fair, is to read this and as I read it think about the sins that you used to be most guilty of. He writes to this church giving them hope but laying this bar of righteousness. That’s the apostle Paul does, that’s what the Bible does. There is a bar of righteousness for our good, and for our welfare, that’s out of the love of God to provide for us and protect for us.
But that bar of righteousness is covered in the velvet kindness of His love and compassion. And so the apostle Paul would write, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither sexually immoral, nor idolaters, or adulterers, or male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy or drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
So he’s just saying, “Look. The bar doesn’t change.” But you know, I wondered what would happen if instead of homosexuality being, like, “Oh, the most terrible sin someone could ever get involved in.” And Christians are super uptight and really afraid. What if we just made it fornicators?
Or people that have been divorced? Or, how about, some of us, idolaters. If you worship work, or worship money, or worship your kids, God says that’s idolatry. What about people that are sex offenders? What about people who log onto internet sites? Heterosexual sites?
The apostle Paul is saying those things. Guess what? Those are in the same category. Those things will harm you, bring death to you. They will crush your soul, alienate you from God, alienate you from yourself, bring death into your relationships and into your body.
And what he says is all those, as well as homosexuality, are things that He can’t condone. That’s the bar of righteousness. Notice the next premise.
Emotional feelings and attractions to the same sex must mean that I’m a homosexual. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As you study developmental psychology, as you study how little boys and little girls grow up and how there’s this period of time when we don’t like the opposite sex and then puberty kicks in.
There’s a developmental period where we have this attachment to the same sex and there are role models and when certain things happen and whether it’s abuse or whether it’s an absent father, or dad’s away at war, or mother is afraid, or someone else has been abused, there are all kind of reasons.
But for some little boys and some little girls, during that season, they have a same sex attraction. They didn’t sign up for it. They don’t know why. But for most of them, in the Church, they’re scared to death. And they don’t know what to do with it.
And especially if they’ve been in a church where, “Homosexuals! You want to talk about a big sin, that’s the big one!” Of course, we don’t talk about a lot of the other ones.
We’ve gotta create a place where boys and girls, not so old and not so young, can say, “I know different people are tempted and struggle with different things.” Some young men are tempted with pornography. Others with same sex attraction.
Some young people in their twenties have struggled in lots of different areas and met someone who has been nice and kind and nurturing and began to introduce them to thoughts they’d never had. And then pretty soon they reframe their background and where will people get help and get loved if they don’t get it at the church?
The sixth premise is: once a homosexual, always a homosexual. You can just write, “Not true.” Not true. Remember the I Corinthians passage? I want to read it one more time. I just want to get some ramp. Because I love this passage.
I love this passage for me, and I love this passage for people that are struggling, and I love this passage for brothers and sisters in Christ who have come out of homosexuality.
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Paul, I got that one. “Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, or homosexuals, nor thieves, nor coveters, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
I got it. You can’t habitually practice that. I love the next line: “Such were some of you.” Such were some of you. Such were some of me. “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God.”
Once a homosexual, always a homosexual simply isn’t true anymore than once a sex addict or once an alcoholic, or once a workaholic you always stay there. It’s a sin. It’s a serious sin, like all the others in this list.
And such were some of us, right?
A young man who was with us last night, his name was Tim, he said I could use his name and I was just walking up and down the aisles before the service and saying hi to people and I said, “Hi, how are you doing?” He goes, “Hey!” And he just stood right up and he took the notes and he goes, “See this?” It was “The Truth About Homosexuality.”
He says, “That used to be me.” I said, “Really?” “Yeah,” he goes, “I’m glad I’m here. This is my sponsor and, you know, I came out of a drug situation as well. That used to be me but I’ve been washed and freed by the blood of Christ.”
And then listen very carefully. He said, “But I’m on a journey.” And he said, “You know where it says, ‘Take up your cross and follow Jesus,’” he goes, “I take up my cross and I follow Him, and my cross is the homosexual temptations and thoughts, that still come to my mind. I’m not acting on them. But it doesn’t mean I still don’t struggle.”
I’m a workaholic. Okay? I’ve been there, done that. I mean, I’ve done crazy work. And I had to realize something deeply was broken inside of me from my alcoholic dad and my family. You know what? I’ve overcome that. Under pressure I’m tempted to be a workaholic. I’ve seen that in my family. I’m afraid to go to any of those places. I run from those places.
But those thoughts, now, if you’re honest don’t some of you have some of those? Does anybody here struggle with what you used to struggle with? Don’t we all?
Well, would someone who has come out of a homosexual lifestyle be safe to tell you, “Hey, I just want you to know, I’ve been washed like you. But I’m still struggling with some same sex attraction.”
And you know what all the research says? You know what brings deliverance? Same sex, non-sexual, deep, loving relationships where that nurture, where that broken part gets healed and loved.
But you know what average people in the Church do? You hear something like that and your body language, whoo. What if that happened to us idolaters, and us fornicators, before we came to Christ? And swindlers?
God is calling us, as a church, to a new day.
The Masters and Johnson study talks about a remarkable success rate among homosexuals. 79.1% have immediate success. 71% stay celibate out of their homosexual lifestyle.
The research and the Bible both say, “This is not a life sentence that cannot change.” Interestingly enough, my experience with the homosexual community and most of my research comes from people coming out of the lifestyle.
I mean, in Santa Cruz, that wasn’t hard to find. We had a church full of people that used to be in the lifestyle. And it’s interesting, here’s what they say, “You know what? When you’re in the lifestyle, when you say, ‘I don’t want to be this anymore.’” You talk about non-tolerance. Other gays come down, whoo.
And you know what? What do you do, if you come, if God speaks to you and you say, “You know what? This is wrong. This is the bar. It’s true.” But it’s out of love. And you want to step out of that and you come to a church and now you’re alienating yourself from the community and the people that did care about you.
And you come to a church. Here’s what I want to ask you, are you willing to love the people that God will bring? In fact, are you willing to love the people that are already in our church, that are already in this service, that either struggle, or have come out of, or presently in, the homosexual lifestyle?
Because what I’m telling you is that we will never be God’s Church until we address this one, first, with our own sexual purity and secondly, with a heart that says, “You know what? We’re not changing the bar of righteousness.” God’s Word says it’s a sin just like all these other things are a sin and we’re going to hold ourselves accountable.
But this will be a safe, loving place not just for adulterers, and fornicators, and liars, and swindlers. This will be a safe place for people coming out of the homosexual lifestyle.
And my question is: are you willing to go there? Because we’re going there. We’re going to love everybody here. We’re going to love everybody here. And will that make you uncomfortable? Of course. Of course. Duh. Makes me uncomfortable. It makes you uncomfortable until you get those stereotypes out of your head, until you see God’s grace, until you see people grow. I can’t tell you the most delightful conversation I had with Tim last night afterwards.
In fact, when he did that before the service and I told him when I got done, I said, “Tim, when you, when I get done I’m going to preach on this and I’m hoping it’s going to go well. I’m trying to balance this truth and love and I know I can’t do it but I think God can. So I’m going to give it my best shot. When I’m done, will you come right down afterwards and would you tell me, because this is so recent, would you tell me what was clear, what was honest, what was helpful, what did I miss, what should I change?”
And I took notes. He said, “The turning point for me was a man looked at me and said, ‘God doesn’t hate you, He loves you. And don’t you think, if this was something He would want for you, that somewhere in Genesis when He talked about how relationships work, this would be there? And it’s not there. He hates the sin but He really loves you.’ And a light came on. And I quit fighting it. And I began to investigate what it means to follow Christ.”
The final premise is one that I’ve touched on. It’s that all Christians are homophobic and could never fully accept me if they knew I struggled with homosexual feelings, fantasies, or practice. And what I can tell you is that we have a very poor track record here but it’s going to change. It’s going to change in one church and, by God’s grace, we pray it will change in many churches as He allows us to partner with them.