My goal for our session tonight is to try to answer some of the questions you all have been asking me. In addition, as pastor of the church where you attend, I believe I have a biblical responsibility to make sure you know the truth about this complex issue. Finally, I want to be clear on where we as a church stand because of our affiliation with the Church of God, Anderson, IN.
As we get started, let me quote Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Since not one of us is without sin, and likely many in this room have dealt with sexual sin or are dealing with sexual sin we must be very careful about how we approach this subject and how we treat people who are gay and lesbian. We all need some kind of healing in our lives, and there is no better place for healing from sexual sin than in the Body of Christ. We are called to love all people regardless of their sexual orientation. There is no reason for us to be hostile towards people who identify themselves as homosexual.
I know many of you have family members and friends who are homosexuals. You have shared with me. There is no easy way to deal with those situations, and there is no cookie cutter approach. How do you practically “hate the sin while loving the sinner?” It is complicated at best.
While the word “homosexual” is a word that has only been added to the English language during the last 125 years, the concept of homosexuality has been known and understood since the ancient world during which the Bible was penned.
Sexuality is a complicated subject and cannot be adequately discussed by taking just one passage of Scripture out of its context. Rather human sexuality is a topic that is so central to who we are and is discussed throughout both the Old and New Testaments that to fully understand what God intended for human sexual expression the whole of Scripture needs to be consulted. And when you look at the whole of Scripture you will see there is a uniform, clear pattern and expectation for the expression of human sexuality.
Several OT passages and NT passages deal with homosexuality. Every passage has a negative connotation associated with homosexuality. Nowhere is it commended or highlighted as an option. However, there is a pattern of sexuality that is instituted by God, created by Him, and is held up all throughout Scripture as the ideal. That pattern is the marriage between one man and one woman.
Genesis 2:18-The LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.
No one would deny that we have been created for interaction with other people. We are wired by God to crave intimacy. We become whole people as we engage in relationship with God and with others.
Genesis 2:19-20 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.
God’s answer to Adam’s aloneness and his need for a helper was answered when God created woman.
Genesis 2:21-22 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
We see in God’s design that the perfect complement for man was woman. Adam, a male created in God’s image and Eve, a female created in God’s image came together to perfectly reflect God’s image on the earth.
There are masculine parts to the image of God and feminine parts to the image of God. Men and women, being different, can reflect the image of God in different ways, and when they come together, there is a complete reflection of that image. Two people of the same gender coming together can’t reflect the complete image of God which was God’s intention. In addition to that, the plan of God for sexual intimacy included procreation. Only a man and woman, then, can accomplish this plan of God on earth. Two women cannot procreate. Two men cannot procreate. What happened in Genesis becomes a template which defines human sexual relationships throughout Scripture.
When something appears in the OT and the NT it is being reiterated for a reason. Many would argue that Jesus didn’t speak about homosexuality, which is true. Before we look at Matthew 19 let me just say there are lots of things Jesus didn’t speak about like incest, rape, or people who become swingers having sex with multiple partners, but we would all agree He wouldn’t approve of those activities. So the argument that because Jesus didn’t condemn homosexuality must mean it is ok with Him is completely flawed. Jesus didn’t address it because it was already a settled issue with the Hebrew people.
Jesus, however, did speak about marriage as being between one man and one woman.
Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
What I want to highlight here is that in his comments Jesus emphasized two genders. He talked about a man leaving his parents to take a wife. That sentence even starts with the phrase, “For this reason.” After Jesus stated that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female, he said that was the reason they should come together. He was saying, “Because there are men and there are women, those two can come together and become one flesh.” Again, Jesus highlighted that only two who are different can form one. Jesus highlighted the differences being the reason for this one flesh union. “For this reason…”
Jesus never spoke about homosexual marriage because heterosexual marriage was the only marriage ordained by God. And when Jesus referenced Genesis and the pattern for marriage, homosexual activity was going on in many places. It wasn’t that homosexuality didn’t exist until recent time as some may argue. Yet Jesus never offered homosexuality as God’s design or as a picture of Christ and his church as both He and Paul do when they talk about the church being the Bride of Christ and Jesus being the Bridegroom.
Here are three truths Jesus affirmed:
- Heterosexual gender is a divine creation.
- Heterosexual marriage is a divine institution.
- Heterosexual fidelity is the divine intention.
Homosexual liaisons are a breach of all three of these divine purposes. (John R. W. Stott)
Leviticus 18:20-23 20 “‘Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her. 21 “‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD. 22 “‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable. 23 “‘Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.
This passage is tucked into a passage of Scripture called the “Holiness Code.” Through the keeping of this code, the Hebrews would live differently from the pagan people around them. They were supposed to stand out as God’s chosen people. The pagans thought nothing of having sex with each other’s wives. They didn’t see anything wrong with killing their children as a sacrifice to their false gods. Homosexuality was considered fine, perhaps even bisexuality. And apparently having sex with animals was part of the life of the pagans around them.
Through this code in Leviticus 18, God was telling His people they weren’t to behave in those ways. God was making a statement that the way His people expressed their sexuality mattered. God set some pretty detailed sexual boundaries in these verses which are clear. God was saying there is a different sexual ethic for Christians than for non-Christians. So one dramatic difference between people who followed God and the rest of the world was the way they expressed themselves sexually.
Now some people argue that the NT does away with the OT laws. Let’s go with that argument for a minute. Are sex with animals and adultery now ok since these “laws” are outdated and supposedly done away with? Obviously not. While it is true that there were ceremonial laws which God established that have been done away with like what kinds of food to eat and not eat, the MORAL LAW, the way we relate with God and other people is still completely intact. People who use the argument that the NT does away with the OT laws also don’t know what to do with the fact that Jesus affirmed what marriage was in two places in the NT. He didn’t reaffirm things like animal sacrifices, but He did reaffirm heterosexual marriage.
Homosexuality is mentioned again just two chapters later in Leviticus.
Leviticus 20:13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies 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.” That is very straight forward language and the penalty is very steep.
Some liberal Bible interpreters say Leviticus 18 and 20 only involve the practices listed because they were part of cultic worship, insinuating that apart from idol, pagan worship, they would be fine. Yet, I don’t know anyone who would say having sex with animals, committing adultery, or incest were morally okay.
What about Sodom? Why was that city destroyed? Was it really because of the sin of homosexuality?
Genesis 19:1-7 1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.” “No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.” 3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old–surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.
Some liberal theologians would argue that the word translated as “sex” in verses 5, “yada” (Hebrew for “to know”) didn’t really mean sex, but that it meant the men of Sodom wanted to “get to know” the two strangers. If that was the case, why would Lot call what they wanted to do “wicked?” I mean, there is nothing wrong with just being social, right? And why would Lot offer his virgin daughters to them instead to try to spare these visiting “men?” Surely the men of the town already knew his daughters socially.
Genesis 19:7-8 (Lot) said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
The same English words “have never slept with a man” come from the Hebrew “yada” which had been used by the men of Sodom when making their demands to have the two strangers given over to them. It was clear that Lot was offering his daughters to the men of Sodom for sex.
Other liberal interpreters say Sodom was condemned for attempted gang rape and not for homosexual behavior. It was customary during those times when pagan armies would capture prisoners, they would rape them through homosexual acts in order to shame and humiliate them. The same thing often occurs today in all-male prisons. Many scholars conclude the men of Sodom wanted to express their dominance over these male visitors through gang rape.
Now, I ask you, if gang rape was even in the minds of the Sodomites, homosexual actions would have had to have already been somewhat the norm in Sodom, otherwise why would “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old–surrounded the house” (verse 4) with the intention of raping these men who had come to their town? Yes, it was homosexual acts that were being condemned and not merely the idea of gang rape.
Some liberal interpreters say the real sins of Sodom, according to
Ez. 16:49 were “pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.”
That is partially true. When Sodom was destroyed homosexuality was one aspect of its wickedness.
In Ez. 16:50 it says of Sodom, “They were haughty and did an abomination before me.”
When we read Jude 7 we learn that the “abomination” included sexual misconduct.
Some liberal interpreters say David and Jonathan were homosexual lovers. They base that on two scriptures.
I Samuel 19:1 “Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David.”
2 Samuel 1:25-26 25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. 26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women”.
For starters, the word “love” is much more sexually charged in Western culture than in the East. For the Hebrew culture, love and sex were not interchangeable terms. Saying “I love you” didn’t mean, “I love you romantically or sexually” as is often the case in our culture. When interpreting the Bible it is important that we not impose our worldview on its contents. The language David used to speak about Jonathan was right in line with the language other men used during that time to discuss their feelings for one another as friends. In addition, both David and Jonathan were married.
I also would argue that God never overlooked David’s sin with Bathsheba. If he had been engaged in homosexual sin with Jonathan, God would have certainly called him out on that as well.
Now, fast forward again to the NT times. The Ancient Greek and Roman cultures were just as sexually charged as the pagan cultures that existed during the times in which the OT was taking place. Nothing had changed regarding the non-Christian view of acceptable sexuality. Homosexuality was still a practice known and active during Jesus’ time. Yet it was marriage as one man and one woman that Jesus taught about. The Jewish people would have understood what He meant by holding it up as the standard. They knew the laws and understood why the expression of their sexuality mattered. Nothing had changed for them either.
Not only did Jesus highlight the one man/one woman principle, but so did Paul. Everywhere Paul talked about marriage he affirmed it as a one man, one woman relationship. For example, he didn’t say in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your husbands.” It was “Husbands, love your wives.”
1 Corinthians 7:1-4 1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.
Paul didn’t leave an opening for anything other than a man to marry a woman and vice versa. As I said in the beginning, several passages in both the Old and New Testament deal with homosexual behavior, and not one of them affirms it or suggests it as an acceptable way to express your sexuality. God is not silent on this issue as some would have us believe.
1 Corinthians 6:9-119 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Here again, Paul highlights sexuality in a list of sinful practices, much like the holiness code of Leviticus 18. Paul was talking specifically to the young Christians in Corinth who were coming out of the “anythings goes” sexually speaking Greek culture. Paul was saying, “Now that you are one of us, sexual expression matters.” Corinth was known for its sexual promiscuity. If you were looking for a “good time” you found your way to Corinth. Corinth was devoted to the worship of the Greek goddess of love and sexuality, Aphrodite. The Romans named that god, Venus. Cult prostitution was part of the worship of the goddess Aphrodite. Random hookups and all kinds of sexual perversions were seen as worship to the goddess. There was straight sex. There was gay sex. It was all good in Corinth. At the temple of Aphrodite you had your pick from 1,000 prostitutes. There were even rites of passage between adolescent boys and young men in their twenties that involved sexual acts. That practice, which I will refer to later, is known as pederasty.
No wonder Paul felt a need to do some discipleship with these new Christian converts about the expectations for a Christian regarding sexuality. They needed to understand that there was a standard of holiness for Christians that involved a sexual component. Sex for Christ-followers was different from what they had been used to. Sexual immorality of any kind, committing adultery, prostitution and homosexuality were clearly not part of the life of a believer. This was new revelation for these new believers who had chosen a new way of life in Christ. This wasn’t how they were raised at all. So, Paul emphatically told them the expectations for sexual expression. In doing so, he highlighted that some of the new converts were the things he listed, but now because they have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Spirit (verse 11) they are not and cannot be those things anymore. The way they viewed and practiced sexuality was to be different from what they had previously known and experienced.
Isn’t it crazy that holiness ever came to be about whether Christians could dance or play cards or wear makeup and neckties or go to the movies when God’s focus has always been on moral conduct of which a huge part is sexual expression? Now let’s get a bit scholarly for a minute. The word “homosexual” in I Cor. 6:9 in the Greek is a combination of two words which literally mean: “male, to lie with sexually, have intercourse.” So people who say that since “homosexual” is a more modern word and that it was unknown during the time in which the Bible was written that it’s possible that it was incorrectly translated don’t have an argument that holds any weight. The Greeks understood what Paul meant when he said what he did.
Recently now some argue that Paul was speaking about homosexuality in terms of the temple prostitution or the occultic worship practice which involved sex or that maybe he was just referring to the sexual activity that took place during the rite of passage acts committed between adolescent boys and young 20 something males. Some argue that when Paul referenced homosexual offenders he wasn’t talking about two homosexuals in a long-term, loving and committed relationship, but he was talking about promiscuous homosexuality; that it was just excessive, lusty, promiscuous homosexuality that was off limits.
I cannot be persuaded. For nearly 20 centuries academics and theological scholars have not questioned what Paul meant. It is only in recent times, during the last ten to fifteen years that people have started to even question or argue this idea that Paul wasn’t referring to committed homosexuals, but only homosexuals that were promiscuous or tied to pagan cultic worship or the rites of passage I have referred to.
The thread all throughout Scripture is sexual monogamy inside a one man/one woman marriage. To interpret just even this one passage loosely or to open the door that Paul was okay with committed homosexuality would mean an undoing of an established pattern all throughout Scripture.
In the book of Romans Paul “describes a world in which people have abandoned God in the pursuit of their own will and way, believing that their own understanding trumps, the revealed Word.” (Lyon, pg. 168)
Romans 1:26-27 26 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 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.”
Some liberal interpreters say these verses aren’t condemning homosexual behavior, but that they condemn the changing from one sexuality to another, that Paul was speaking about heterosexuals who became homosexuals which means they forsook what was “natural” to them. They contend it is the changing of your natural inclination that Paul was condemning. That it would be wrong or sinful if you were a heterosexual to try to become a homosexual or vise versa.
No way. Paul’s wording isn’t wishy washy. In fact, the Greek words he used are words that emphasize biology, not an orientation. Paul was saying that homosexuality is biologically unnatural, not just for heterosexuals, but for anyone. (He wasn’t referring to how a person feels, but the function of biology and how we were meant to sexually interact with an opposite sex partner.)
Other liberal interpreters of this passage say you have to pay attention to the verses which precede it. They make the argument again that Paul wasn’t speaking about committed homosexuals, but homosexuality in the midst of idol worship.
Romans 1:21-23 21 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. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
People who subscribe to this interpretation say the focus of Paul’s concern is not the homosexual acts per se, but rather the idolatry within which the homosexual acts were performed.
Some liberal interpreters of Bible passages like this and others by Paul say Paul again wasn’t commenting on committed homosexual relationships, but pederasty which was a regular part of the Roman-Grecco world. Pederasty was a practice that was two-fold. It involved adolescent boys being used for sex by young adult males in exchange for like mentoring, I guess you could say. The other involved adolescent boys offering themselves in prostitution, and these liberal interpreters say it was these practices Paul was condemning since according to them there “weren’t any other kind of homosexual relationships at that time.” In other words, liberal interpreters of these Bible passages say committed homosexual relationships didn’t exist in Paul’s time, and if they didn’t, how could Paul condemn them?
Go back, however, to Romans 1:26 where it is evident that Paul had other forms of homosexuality in mind when he refers to women who “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” Yes, the Bible has something to say about lesbianism as well as gay sex. Paul clearly believed it was against God’s natural order for women and men to have sexual relationships with the same gender. Paul isn’t just condemning pederasty. He isn’t just condemning prostitution. He is condemning all forms of homosexual practices for both men and women.
In fact, Paul’s word choice in the Greek is much more broad than it could have been if he had just been referring to pederasty. There were actual Greek words and phrases that specifically meant “pederasty” in that Hellenistic culture, but Paul didn’t use those specific words.
For me, this Romans passage is probably the clearest passage in the Bible on the subject. There are huge consequences for people who operate outside of God’s sexual boundaries. The verses speak about God distancing himself from those kinds of people. He also talks about a penalty.
Paul’s point in the verses that lead up to the verses here on homosexuality was that idolatry and the rejection of God as Supreme lead to a downward spiral in other areas of a person’s life.
Another Scripture just for reference is:
1 Timothy 1:9-10 9 “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers–and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.”
Now the word translated here in the NIV as “pervert” is translated in other translations as “homosexual” or as “men who practice homosexuality.”
Allow me some additional commentary on liberal “revisionist” interpretations of the Bible.
Some liberal interpreters claim that since the Bible story took place during a patriarchal society where there was pressure on the males to produce children that, that is what made homosexuality in the Hebrew understanding be a condemned act. Men couldn’t produce children with other men, and spilling a man’s “seed” or wasting his “seed” was considered the destruction of a human life. (There is a story about that in Genesis 38.)
It is true that one of God’s commands was to be “fruitful and multiply.” There were even laws and practices put into place to ensure that a man’s descendant line would carry on, that his name would carry on even if he passed away. (Deut. 22:5-6) But liberal interpreters of the Bible who say that the rationale for Hebrew heterosexual expression was only for the enhancement of the Jews’ full reproductive abilities are absurd.
As I have already stated, the union between a man and woman was by divine design and sexual faithfulness in marriage was one of the ways they reflected their holiness as a people belonging to God alone. Even as Leviticus 19 opens, the chapter that is tucked between Leviticus 18:22 and chapter 20:13, it is clear that sexuality is tied to our holiness, and this is the overriding principle:
“Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2).
We don’t practice homosexuality because God is holy, and He says it is unholy. Abstaining from homosexual activity was not because the Hebrews needed to increase their patriarchal tribe. It was tied to a reflection of the holiness God had prescribed.
Some other liberals argue for homosexuality to be permissible for Christians and use the issue of slavery as part of their defense. The Bible doesn’t condemn the practice of slavery. The Bible was even used for years by the established church to subdue slaves and continue the detestable practice. Just as it is clear to all Christians today that slavery should never have been acceptable, that putting someone in bondage because of the color of their skin wasn’t God’s design, why now would we do something similar by “discriminating” against persons who can’t “help” their sexual preference? If the Gospel is about love, then why aren’t all forms of committed love ok? Just as we “changed with the times” where slavery was concerned, shouldn’t we “change with the times” on the issue of homosexuality?
“It is true that historical changes and deeper insight into issues have led the church to reexamine its traditional moral teachings, sometimes leading to significant changes. But the church can do so and be faithful to its calling only when it maintains the authority of the Bible as the revelation of God’s norms for His people.” (http://www.phc.edu/gj_haas_hermen.php)
Having homosexual desires is not a sin. Practicing homosexuality is. Based on my understanding of Scripture, I believe God has said people who practice homosexuality stand apart from Christ and are outside of the Kingdom of God.
But how could a loving God allow someone to be born gay and then expect them to live celibate their entire lives? I am not convinced one way or the other, personally, whether people are born “gay” or are born with tendencies that are nurtured by environment and life circumstances. But for someone who professes to be homosexual, the thought of remaining celibate for a lifetime is a huge cross to bear. This is not an easy topic. We can’t just expect people to simply choose not to feel what they feel. And homophobia, name calling, and bullying are wrong . . . sinful, in my opinion. Deciding you will have nothing to do with a homosexual, to me, is the same as saying you will have nothing to do with a leper, a hooker, or a drug addict. Oh, how that would grieve the heart of God.
We all wrestle with something. We all face temptation. Perhaps it isn’t a sexual one for some, but for many, if not the majority of teens and young adults today, the idea that you will wait to finish college, get a job, and then get married before you have sex is a seemingly impossible feat. Teenagers are wired to desire sex as early as fourteen. I am sure that feels unfair to them. To tell a boy growing up today that he has to wait ten years to have sex when he is dating someone he has feelings for can sound harsh and impossible. Why would a loving God allow these young people to have such strong sexual urges and then expect them to act on them?
Heterosexual young men and perhaps even young teen girls understand what I am talking about. Their tendency is to crave sex, and perhaps this “tendency” is the strongest during the part of their life when it is “not allowed” even though it would be the most natural thing for them to do. How is that fair? Remaining sexually pure until marriage takes supernatural strength. Perhaps it is a weak comparison to make with homosexuality because the young heterosexual person will eventually likely marry and have the opportunity to express themselves sexually within a biblical marriage. For the young adult in that situation it’s not that they can’t ever have sex, it is that they just can’t right now.
Let me offer another example of a tendency. Men are created by God to be visually stimulated. They are much more visually oriented than women. You could say that looking at things which are sexually stimulating is a tendency many men have, many if not most, all of their lives. Therefore, the temptation to view pornography is always there. You could argue it would be natural for men, in their flesh, to give in to the temptation to view pornography. For many men, resisting the urge to view pornography takes supernatural strength. Just because they are wired with the tendency to want to view pornography doesn’t mean they can and remain faithful to Christ.
And what about the Christian single who longs to be married in order to experience sexual intimacy. What about their struggle? They have to deny those urges in order to remain sexually pure as well. So it isn’t just people with homosexual tendencies who have to manage, resist, and overcome the temptation of sexual sin. Given the lifelong nature of their struggle, for many, it does seem like a heavier load to bear than the aforementioned examples, but at least you can see I am making the case that each one of us has areas of our lives we must turn over to the Lord in order to faithfully follow Christ. Whether it is eating too much, resisting the urge to gamble, or an addiction to computer games, we are all broken. We all need redeemed. We all need repaired. We all need restored. We all need regenerated.
And don’t we believe Christ can make all things new? Don’t we still believe we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds? Don’t we still embrace that we are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us?” Don’t we still believe we “can do all things through Christ” who strengthens us? Don’t we believe Paul when he says, “That’s what some of you WERE, but you aren’t those things anymore?” Isn’t that the point of the Gospel? Change is possible!
Even the Apostle Paul wrestled with something he didn’t want in his life. In Romans 7. Basically when he gets to verse 20 he says, “I have this tendency, and I don’t like it and I don’t know what to do with it.” Then when he gets to verse 24 he asks the question, “Who will rescue me from this thing I don’t want in my life?” The answer comes in verse
25 when he declares, “Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ!” There is a Rescuer, Redeemer, and Renovator who can change us.
One of the central challenges of the Gospel is that we deny ourselves, pick up our cross and follow daily after Christ. (Luke 9:23) There is a cost to being a disciple of Jesus.
I should also say the Church of God has already taken the conservative positions I have described. We are a Church of God. Therefore, this issue isn’t an issue that is up for debate. Our position here at Teays Valley Church of God will not change. We are not open to the liberal or revisionist interpretations of these Scriptural passages.
All people are welcome here and will be accepted and loved. However, those who practice homosexuality will not be able to serve in leadership positions in the church as our bylaws and leadership covenant state persons in leadership must live in harmony with the doctrines of the Church of God as set forth in the Bible. It is my hope to bring to you a personal testimony of someone who once engaged in homosexual practices that has come out of that lifestyle after an encounter with Christ. Prayer changes things. Love changes things. Truth changes things. The Holy Spirit changes people. May God help us to pray, love, and speak the truth and trust the Holy Spirit to bring the transformation needed in people’s lives. Amen.
- · The sources below were heavily used in the development of this presentation.
Go Ahead, Ask Anything by Jim Lyon
Sermon notes from Rev. Tom Bates