One of the benefits of preaching through a book of the Bible (which we do at Redemption Church) is that it doesn’t allow me to skirt hard issues or cherry pick topics I want to preach. Instead, we teach what God has said the way he revealed it to his people. These past two weeks we have looked at Romans 14 which is God’s instruction on how to live free in Christ to the full, all while loving others and being in control of ourselves.
This freedom can get tricky when it comes to what we call “gray issues”–meaning issues that the Bible is silent about. There are some things that the Bible says “don’t do”. We aren’t to do them. There are other things the Bible says, “do”. We do those. But there are many issues that the Bible leaves up to the believer to engage in or not based on the Spirit’s leadership, our conscience, and our context. Examples of some of those issues are things like: alcohol, tobacco use, types of entertainment to enjoy, type of diet, and possessions to own. For a fuller explanation please see the last two sermons from our Romans series. (Find them by clicking here and here, or download the podcast from iTunes.)
In light of the political climate of our day, the questions I’m getting from the sermons, and general pastoral insight, the elders thought it would be helpful for us to post a blog on the issue of homosexuality. We actually covered this topic in the Romans series when finishing up Romans 1. You can find the full sermon here. I encourage you to listen to that and know we are on the record on this issue in the past. This isn’t a rant from a pastor. This is intended to be a pastoral encouragement to our members and friends in order to balance grace and truth biblically.
Is Homosexuality A Gray Issue?
No. While the culture in which we live treats this as a controversial and hotbed issue, the Bible is very clear on it. This is a black and white, “Don’t” from God. Let me, with as much love as I can but as clearly as I can, say: Homosexuality in any form is sin. Sex in any form outside of a covenant marriage between one man and one woman is sin. This isn’t a gray issue. I say it because God says it. Romans 1, a chapter about the universal sinfulness of everyone, says:
because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:25-32 ESV)
This isn’t a difficult interpretation. This is a very simple passage to understand. We read “dishonorable passions”, “contrary to nature”, “shameless acts”, “due penalty”, and “error”. It’s being condemned. And not on cultural terms, but on creation terms. We are made to image God by valuing him and loving him more than anything and we can demonstrate that in the use of our bodies. In Romans 1 we see that every person swaps loving him most and instead loves his stuff most. That isn’t God’s plan. It’s unnatural for us to do that. And we do that in a million different ways. All of us. One of those ways is to love homosexual activity. So again, not a gray issue. To disagree is to disagree with the Bible–to disagree with Jesus.
1. To view homosexuality as anything other than sin is to remove any hope of forgiveness or any hope of change. Christians are tempted to sin in many different ways. But God has saved us through Jesus Christ and has given us the Holy Spirit to fight sin. As Christians we are to practice ongoing repentance and a rejection of sinful desires. That is why 1 Cor. 6 says:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
Homosexuality, like any sin, can be forgiven, but forgiveness comes through repentance and faith, not a denial or rationalization of sin.
2. It is mean and inaccurate to say that God hates homosexuals. Don’t do that. Our part of the country is bad about this as it is. It’s hateful. Yes God hates sin. Yes God extends wrath toward sinners. But no more toward a homosexual than any other sinner. Homosexuality isn’t mentioned here because it’s worse than any other sin. In fact, in Romans 1 Paul is spiraling downward in his list and the last ones he mentions are things like pride, slander, and gossip. Self righteous condemnation only makes it harder on those of us who have homosexual friends and family that we are telling about Jesus.
3. If you are struggling with same sex desire or in a homosexual lifestyle, please know the people of Redemption Church love you. We are your friends. Please know that while we believe the Bible about homosexuality and we call you to repent, we do it out of love and grace and mercy toward you. Knowing that we too are sinners in need of repentance and mercy and grace. We are a church of sinners. We have folks who struggle with porn. Folks who have come out of an adulterous past. People who have had sex outside of marriage. Any number of sexual sins no better than homosexuality. This is a safe place to struggle and learn and grow. We ask you to join us in repenting of sin and turning in faith to Jesus and his cross for forgiveness and hope. What’s more we have folks who want to help. We have folks in our church who struggle with same sex attraction and have come out of a homosexual past. Join the rest of us whores and drug addicts and gossips and self righteous sinners as we repent and fight sin in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Please let us know how we can serve you further with any questions or help.
Peace and grace,