Since same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States, thoughts on the topic have seemed to move away from truly assessing whether homosexuality is a sin to now endeavoring to understand how the gay community and mainstream society will continue to intersect – especially among the faith community. I’ve always suspected this progression was coming so I’m not surprised, and I’m certain that our all-knowing God isn’t either. As homosexuality and same-sex marriage are embraced in the mainstream, the question is decreasingly whether either is wrong. Instead, there is growing concern over when Christians will finally, en masse, get with the times and open the Church’s doors to same-sex wedding ceremonies and gay pastors.
In a previous post ,“Questions from my Gay Friends: Do You Eat Shellfish”, I attempted to answer one of the most most prevalent, albeit scornful, questions posed by those seeking to challenge the Christian belief that homosexuality is a sin. Thus, as a Christian AND a loud, proud shellfish connoisseur, I felt it my duty - nay, my OBLIGATION - to address that question with the utmost urgency!
I honestly enjoyed writing that piece and believe, by the grace of God, I was able to offer a thoughtful answer to one of the most infamous trump cards used in the "Homosexuality vs Christianity" debate.
But I'm also aware that some questions truly do come from a sincere place, and I believe those inquiries deserve to be directly addressed. There are LGBT-identifying men and women who also self-identify as "Christian". As they attempt to reconcile this apparent conflict in their identity, they may feel overlooked as each side attempts to trump the other with its ideologies/beliefs. I’ve decided to dedicate this post to them.
Inspired by continuous headlines and debates on the topic, I’ve gleaned some of the most compelling questions I've encountered regarding homosexuality and the Christian faith. But I urge you to continue reading this with an open heart and at your own risk. Those familiar with my writing style know I’m not going to sugarcoat anything to pander to what is popular - I may even get "too deep" in my response to ensure all spiritual implications are conveyed. But I do pray the responses offer a gentle, loving and soul-stirring nudge to anyone who may be struggling with this topic. Moreover, I pray that this piece not lead to offense, feelings of rejection, or a desire to "come for me", but to instead compel and send readers directly after God.
How can being gay be a sin when I was born this way?!
Certainly, I’m no expert on what it means to be homosexual, and I’ve heard conflicting assertions from those who identify as homosexual whether it is truly predisposed at birth or a choice. Granted, there's no "gay gene" nor is sexual orientation/preference hereditary, but I won't argue here whether the “born this way” claim is or isn’t true. What I do know is that WE WERE ALL BORN INTO SIN as a result of the original sin. Every human being is born predisposed to sin as a result of our flesh being blemished by Adam’s willful disobedience to God’s directive. I secretly used to think that it isn’t fair that we all have to deal with sin because of the sin of one man. But I’ve come to learn that God’s love and grace trump “fair” everyday of the week…including the Sabbath! His ability to overwrite what is “fair” and do what is loving and just is the very reason He sent Christ into the world to die for our sins (Romans 5:8). But, just as Adam was given the right to choose God’s will, so were we. Through Christ, God offers us a "get out of jail free card", but we have to accept the offer. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). While we were born sinners, we also have a choice of whether we want to remain in bondage to sin or to be freed from it. To be freed from it, we must choose Christ so that, by grace through faith in Him, we are BORN AGAIN (John 3; Ephesians 2:8-9). To be born again is to die to our sin nature and be born again of the Holy Spirit, Who guides us to all truth, convicts us of sin and corrects us, and sanctifies (progressively perfects) us. That is the grace Jesus Christ brings. It is not a grace that gives us license to sin, but to grace us to stop sinning. We become a new creature with a new nature and a new mind (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:16-25). Old things pass away and, as such, in Christ, there is no such thing as a "gay Christian".
Can a gay person be a leader in the church?
Anyone who is sincerely seeking God is welcomed to visit church. Anyone who loves God, as God desires to be loved, through Jesus Christ, should certainly be a member of a church (Mark 12:29-30; John 14:15; John 15:9-10). And, yes, church members should serve and can even be a leader in their local church, bearing the role is available, applicable, and one for which they qualify (1 Timothy 3:1-13). But NO ONE actively operating in willful sin can be a leader in the Church – even if they identify as "straight". Unrepentant sin separates us from God. It blocks His ability to hear and commune with us (Isaiah 59:2; Psalm 66:18). So why and/or how would one suppose he can shepherd others to God when his own relationship with Him is fractured or in an unfruitful state?
In a recent episode of Preachers of Atlanta, one of the cast members shared her belief that homosexuals can be leaders in the Church “if a liar can”. But I wonder if she realized she managed to undermine her own point, as liars shouldn’t be church leaders, either! One living in unrepentant sin isn't even to be embraced as a fellow Believer in Christ, let alone oversee His people (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). Just because we’ve had the unfortunate experience of witnessing unqualified and/or uncalled individuals in church leadership doesn’t mean they have a right to, or should, be there. This is why we have the Word of God in the first place. It offers direction and clarity in the areas we, in our fallen state, are capable of distorting when left to our own carnal devices. So, ultimately, this isn’t an issue of whether "gay" individuals can be leaders in the Church. It’s a question of whether individuals seeking to oversee and teach God's people are first sincere in their own faith in God through Christ and fully accept His Word as truth.
Can God use homosexuals in ministry?
This questions is a version of the previous inquiry, but it’s important to highlight that it deals not with one choosing to be a Church leader, but whether one is capable of being used by God in general. With that said: Yes, God can certainly use homosexuals in ministry. I’ve come to realize that God can use whomever or whatever situation He wants to minister to His people and to see that His will is done. He'll get ALL of the glory anyway. The real question, however, is whether being used in ministry implies God's approval of one's sin. That would be a "no". Being used in ministry and being blameless before God are two separate concepts.
In the book of Numbers we see that God used Balaam, a soothsayer (or unrighteous prophet) to speak blessings over the Children of Israel, though it was Balaam's intention to curse them (Numbers ch. 22-24). From this we learn that God can use someone who doesn’t even know Him to bless His chosen flock. In the four Gospels we know Judas Iscariot, one of the original 12 disciples, famously betrayed Jesus but his actions played an integral role in Jesus’ eventual trip to the Cross to die for the sins of the entire world! From this we learn that even one who appears to follow Christ isn’t necessarily a friend and follower of Christ in his heart…and even still, God can use that person to fulfill that which is ultimately beneficial for His people.
No matter what, God’s Will SHALL be done and He can use ANYONE to help fulfill it! Anyone can do works for God, even a willful sinner -"gay" or "straight". But that person will ultimately be judged by what is in his heart - and if God finds that it is unrepentant, that's a major "woe unto thee" issue. Both Judas and Balaam were condemned (Matthew 26:24, Jude 1:11), even though they were each used during their respective lifetimes to set something good in motion for God's people.
If homosexuality is (still) a sin, why didn’t Jesus Christ ever speak on it?
This is an interesting question because in the midst of discussions with those in support of homosexuality, I’ve often heard it argued, “Jesus said, ‘judge not lest ye be judged’ and ‘he who is without sin cast the first stone’ because 'no sin is greater than another.'” Despite the fact that these scriptures are often quoted out of context, I rather enjoy hearing them thrown out because they get the other side to at least acknowledge that homosexuality is, indeed, a sin. (Check!)
Second, by virtue of even noting what “Jesus said…”about sin in the midst of these debates implies that we know in our hearts that Jesus also acknowledges homosexuality as a sin. (Check, Check!)
Third, homosexuality is but a category among the collective of sexual sins (Leviticus chs. 18 and 20), which Jesus addresses in Mark 7:18. (Chizzzeeeck!)
Finally, and most importantly, contrary to popular understanding, Jesus Christ most certainly did speak on homosexuality. To know this, though, one has to know who Jesus Christ is in the first place. Please understand that Jesus didn’t just appear on the scene beginning with the New Testament in the Book of Matthew. Jesus IS the Word (John 1:14)! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made...And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3, 14, emphasis mine). Anything God declared, uttered, or in any way spoke forth with His word IS so… and it will not return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11).
Jesus said that He and the Father are One (John 10:30). Jesus came to do the will the His Father. He didn't contradict Him - ever. In fact, He often referred His contenders back to the Law of Moses and Old Testament prophecies that they might understand that God's truth and standards for righteousness have not changed (Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 5:17; 19:4-5; ). God gave us a mind to reason and the gift of logic. But I praise Him – especially in moments like these - for being wiser than we. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are God. It is futile to attempt to outsmart God about what Jesus (a.k.a. ‘the Word’, a.k.a. ‘God Himself in the Flesh’) did or didn’t say. Homosexuality, fornication, adultery, incest, pedeophilia – ANY sex outside of a God-ordained marriage is a sexual sin, and said sins ARE explicitly addressed by God, in God’s Word – in the Old Testament and the New.
Why are Christians so closed-minded and out of touch? Times have changed!
Closed minds are those unwilling or unable to embrace new concepts or ideas. This definition closely resembles that of reprobate minds, which are minds God eventually closes to receiving His truth after it has been willfully and repeatedly rejected (Romans 1:28). Those with reprobate minds are so enslaved to sin that that it is impossible for them to break free or change their minds. Not everyone reading this will understand this concept, but know that if you have a mind that has always and continues to see absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality, despite God explicitly telling us it is a sin, your mind may be reprobate. If your mind is reprobate, you are beyond the ability to repent - and if you are beyond repentance, you are already condemned (Romans 1:18).
Nevertheless, if you profess to be a Christian, you must know that you should "not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2, emphasis mine). Anyone truly in Christ has a mind that has been renewed and can see and understand clearly the things of God. So, if one must argue that Christians are "closed-minded", perhaps we could yield that our minds are, indeed, closed to anything that counters the truth (truth = everything God says).
While times - cultural norms and customs - may change, God's Word remains the same (Isaiah 55:11). He remains the same (Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). There are people who have never even seen a Bible who know where Christians stand on controversial topics such as pre-marital sex, same-sex marriage, abortion, etc. It’s not because Christians are out of touch, but because we honor the knowledge we have of the eternal truth of God. The entire reason one can even adjust their lips to accuse Christianity of being “out of touch” with these changing times is because they already know where we STILL stand on such issues. I find this to be a good thing because it’s proof that no one has a legitimate excuse for not having at least some knowledge of the ways of God. If you get annoyed that our continued response to pre-marital sex is STILL “abstinence” – even in this day and age – it is proof that we’ve been good at sticking to our talking points and the world already knows what they are. These points never change because they are from God, who can ONLY speak the truth and the truth, unlike facts, never changes. Anything "true" ALWAYS applies, thus it is impossible for the truth to be "out of touch". As such, while it may be unpopular, it is impossible for the truth to ever be irrelevant.
I SAID ALL OF THIS TO SAY...
Let's get to the root of your concerns behind these questions, Loves. I know these inquiries come from a sincere place, as each question points to an attempt to determine not only whether God loves you, but accepts you. Please know that God certainly does love you. He desperately WANTS to abide in you and you in Him. If you sincerely come to Him, He WILL accept you just as you are, yet He promises to transform you to look more like Him (Isaiah 1:18). He truly wants to do this! Before any of us ever heard of God, He loved us first! That is evidenced by His sending Christ into the world to undo the damage that Adam had done. So never doubt His love and desire for you.
God's love for the world has never been the theological quandary. The challenge we face is whether we love Him back. His Word clearly states that to love Him is to keep His commandments - to walk in His ways, to treat people how He calls you to treat them, to value yourself as He calls you to value yourself, to live this life as His Wisdom directs is best. I can't claim to know your specific struggles, but I do know I've had my own battles with sin that I spent YEARS trying to overcome on my own. But it wasn't until I finally made the decision to yield to God that I was finally delivered. I decided that if I was going to really do this Christian thing, I needn't be half-hearted about it. If God says He has all of this power and can do all of these things for me, I wanted to see it for myself! The more I got into God's Word, I learned He's a good God and a God of principles and promises. You follow His principles (repentance), His promises will follow (deliverance). It's really that simple. You can be delivered. Believe that.
So, let's pump the brakes on any more questions about whether God can use you, speak through you or loves you. The answer is yes, He can and yes, He does. But before any of us becomes overly concerned about being a vessel for God, we need to first determine if we are even willing to love and to LIVE for God. The only way being a church member and/or minister for God makes sense and is profitable to you is if YOU also have a true, loving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Again, God loved us first. So set your mind at ease and instead look into what matters most to Him. If you are a professed Christian, you profess your agreement to practice what it truly means to love God back.
So start loving Him by seeking Him in His Word. And if there are any more questions to be asked, I pray the following are among them:
- Do you agree that you are a sinner in need of Jesus Christ?
- Do you agree that homosexuality is a sin?
- Are you sincerely repentant of sin, including homosexuality?
- Are you willing and ready to fully surrender to Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit may deliver you?
I pray you respond to these questions in a manner that pleases God.
With all of the peace and love God intends,
*This post was updated on 9/5/17 to add pull quotes of relevant scriptures, and to more clearly articulate the Gospel of Jesus Christ.*