The Posture of Christians to Homosexuality and Homosexuals

Last week I had the privilege of teaching on the subject of homosexuality and how Christians should think about and respond to it Biblically. If you haven’t read The Gospel and Sexual Orientation (the study committee report of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America) or The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert (the conversion story of Rosaria Butterfield) or God and the Gay Christian? (Al Mohler’s response to Matthew Vines’ book claiming one can be a Christian and believe in/be in same sex relationships), I highly recommend you do so. There are other good resources out there, but these are a great place to start.

In this post, I want to think briefly about what the posture of Christians should be toward homosexuality and avowed homosexuals. Four things come to mind:

1. Humility – Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:9-11, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” This passage reminds us that homosexuality is a sin, but also that it is not the unforgivable sin – nor is it the only sin! To be sure, Paul in Romans 1 is clear that homosexuality is unnatural – that is, contrary to the way God designed humans to have sex by nature, one man and one woman. But all sin is unnatural in that it is contrary to the way God created us to live. All of us have sinned and continue to fall short of the glory of God. The Christian is one who has been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus and in the Spirit of God. We were enslaved to sin just like the unrepentant homosexual is enslaved to sin, just like the unrepentant greedy man or drunkard is enslaved to sin. And God rescued us by His grace. Of what do we have to boast, if salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone? It is so easy for Christians to fall into the trap of the prideful Pharisee in Luke 18 – “At least I’m not as bad as those homosexuals.” Yet we were, Paul is saying, and it’s only by the grace of God that we are no longer found in the category of the “unrighteous.” The Scriptures are also clear that even as Christians, though we are forgiven and justified and regenerated, we continue to struggle with sin. By nature we are as bad as the worst sinner; the seeds of every sin are found in our heart, and it is only by the grace of God that we do not commit as much sin as we might. The temptations homosexuals face and embrace, though perhaps different than ours, are not foreign to our heart. So we take a posture of humility, not pride; apprehension, not condescension.

2. Compassion and Love – In Mark 10:21, we read that Jesus looked at the rich young ruler in all his sinful, idolatrous pride, and loved him – even though He knew the man would reject His call to sell all he had, give it to the poor, and follow Him. In Matthew 9:36-37, Jesus looked at the crowds, harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd, and He had compassion for them. Ought not this same love and compassion mark the followers of Christ, as we see people rejecting Him, as we see people enslaved and damaged by their sin and the misery it brings into their lives? It is easy to grow belligerent and hostile toward homosexuals, especially when one sees the cultural conquest the homosexual community has achieved. Christians feel attacked, and tend to lash out on the defensive. Yet even when we are called to defend the truth as it is found in Scripture, we must do it with gentleness and reverence/respect (I Peter. 3:15). We must speak loving words, perform loving actions, think loving thoughts, feel compassion for those who might even hate us. Certainly it is how our Savior would treat them.

3. Fearlessness – Even as we humbly and lovingly approach those who believe that sex between two men or two women (or even between more than two people, or with animals, etc.), we must fearlessly and boldly proclaim the truth of God’s word and the standard of sexuality that He has declared there and placed into our very humanity. Too often Christians equate humility with docility, compassion with fear or quietness. But we must not be afraid to speak the truth in love. We must not fear to be persecuted for standing up for the Bible. We must boldly engage in conversations, relationships, discussions, arguments for the sake of Christ and the salvation of the lost. How many Christians even have a homosexual friend? Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty in ministry, even if it takes time and effort and costs you much. Jesus is with you, fear not!

4. Distress and Torment – One passage that is often unknown or overlooked in this whole discussion is II Peter 2:6-10, “If He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),  then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.” We increasingly live in the world righteous Lot inhabited, and we ought to take a cue from righteous Lot’s response to the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah: oppressed/distressed and torment. I think sometimes we believe such responses are not right or good or worthy of a Christian. Yet Peter tells us that being distressed and feeling oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men, feeling our soul tormented by lawless deeds, is a mark of the righteous man or woman. If/as homosexuality becomes the norm in America, and the Christian stance becomes unwelcome and blameworthy and even punishable by law, we should feel much distress and torment. Yet we must also know and believe what Peter teaches, that God knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment. Judgment belongs to the Lord. “What do I have to do with judging outsiders?…God judges those outside” (I Corinthians 5:12).

This fourfold posture is an awkward one to be sure – humility, love, boldness, torment. We are to hold ourselves in different directions, it seems. Yet by the grace of Christ we will be able to maintain this posture, as individuals, as families, and as the church, for His glory, the salvation of the lost, and the edification of His people.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: