We live in a world, nation, and culture that is divided, and this moral divide seems to be increasing at an increasing rate. One such division is around the homosexuality issue. There is a large spectrum of belief and positions held with one extreme occupied by the gay activists that protest, publicly criticize the church and blaspheme God. Beyond asking for tolerance of the homosexual lifestyle they rather demand a whole-hearted endorsement that never seems to be enough to satisfy them.
At the other end of the spectrum are the social conservatives, many who profess Christianity who attend the parades and wave banners proclaiming that “God hates gays.” Their social media postings consistently portray homosexuals as less than human and not deserving of our love and certainly not God’s love. Both sides are passionate, and determined to make their points heard. Unfortunately, what emerges is anger and hatred.
Where does Rice Temple Baptist Church stand on this challenging and complex issue? I believe that we could agree that homosexuality is a sin. Not because political pundits say so or because it just seems wrong, but because our authority for life, the Bible tells us so.
That being said, what should our response be to this issue?
There are many passages that we can cite to support this view, perhaps the strongest comes from the creation story found in Genesis 1-2. Additionally, when Jesus was asked about divorce, He reminded those asking about God’s purposes in Matthew 19:4-6.
The intentions of God could be determined by the way that God created things. The creation story is foundational in our understanding the manner in which sort out the issues surrounding homosexuality.
From the creation account we learn the following:
Scripture reveals that God designed us for only heterosexual relationships. God’s sovereign and beautiful creation of human beings in His image, male and female, indicates that homosexual activity is a use of our bodies in a way that God never intended.
Genesis is not the only portion of Scripture that affirms that God’s plan for marriage and sexual fulfillment is to be only within the context of heterosexual marriage. The Song of Solomon tells a beautiful story of love between a man and woman.
In the New Testament, in Mark 10:1-12 and Ephesians 5:21-33, and in the description of the church as the bride and Christ as the groom there is a consistent presentation of marriage as between a man and a woman. Several times, Jesus speaks of marriage and it is always in the context of a man and a women, and a number of passages clearly mention homosexual activity as among those behaviors that pervert God’s plan (1 Corinthians 6:9, Romans 1:26-27, Genesis 19, Leviticus 18).
As a church we must acknowledges that there are those professing Christ who have come to a different conclusion, but the Biblical evidence is overwhelming that God’s plan for marriage and sexual relationship is one man and one woman for life. As a church and as individuals we must not take this position based on hate, anger, or narrow-minded bigotry. We must hold our position based on the same truth upon which we base all that we believe, the Bible. We are not to bend to the cry from the culture whether it comes from the left or the right of society.
We as believers are called to understand and remember daily that the sin of homosexuality is similar to others in that the behavior, not the temptation is the sin. We all have a sexual orientation and it is the desires associated with that orientation that lead to temptation. We are also tempted daily in many other ways such as pride, envy, greed, gossip, and self-righteousness. Our very Savior was tempted just as we are.
The temptation is not the sin. Sin comes when we yield in our actions or attitudes (James 1:13-15 and 1 Corinthians 10:13). With God’s help, we can stop sinful behaviors and he can even remove the desire for the sin from our hearts.
But we can also testify that sometimes the temptation for sin stays with us and is a daily challenge and we must be obedient to Christ and not give in to it.
As a church we should seek to respond to the homosexual issue and to the homosexual individual as Christ would. He is our example for life. When He responded to the case of the woman caught in the act of adultery he told us, “. . . then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11). Just as Christ responded to you and to me with unlimited compassion and grace, we must also do so to the homosexual community and all those living outside of biblical standards.
Just as we do not, cannot, and never will endorse homosexual activity as an acceptable lifestyle, we will not endorse any other behavior that displeases God. This includes hate-filled, self-righteous attitudes towards not only the homosexual community but towards any and all sinners ourselves including.
These attitudes are all too prevalent in the Christian community. We are Christ followers and Christ was known as a “friend to sinners” (Luke 7:34), and so I ask all of us to reflect the heart of Christ to all persons who are far from God including those in the gay community.
We must never compromise biblical truth and never endorse sin, but we must love and introduce everyone to the love of Christ. Our lives as individuals and our life as a church must reflect the redemptive love of Christ to all who need it. And we all need it.
Rice Temple Baptist Church is full of sinners who have by the grace of God acknowledged our need of God’s redeeming love and we are being transformed by Him. May we remember that we are to welcome into our lives all others who are also called to that transforming grace.