Can You Be Gay and Christian?

Westboro Protest

Michael Chiavone is correct in his assertion that the ecclesiology of the 21st century looks much different than centuries of past, largely in part due to the success and increase of alternative church’s arrangements. Through the use of technology, specifically multi-site and streaming churches, it is now extremely challenging to offer an all-encompassing universal definition of the church. At the forefront of controversial topics regarding the church’s relationship to the state is homosexual marriage, which continues to be an area of much debate. This topic leaves many people with a poor perception of the church, and in many settings serves to demonstrate more what the church is against than what she is for. As the boundaries of religious freedom continue to be tested, Michael Brown offers perhaps the most appropriate response to the question, “Whether one can truly follow Jesus and practice homosexuality at one and the same time” (Brown 2014, xi).

In chapter ten, Brown attempts to balance grace with the truth of God’s Word, illustrating, for “gay Christians,” there is often an experiential claim associated with their argument, which attempts to justify the homosexual practice being perfectly acceptable because a committed relationship exists between two individuals. The biblical response recognizes it is possible to be a devoted follower of Christ, while also having same-sex attractions, as long as those thoughts and attractions are not affirmed. The problem arises when those attractions are acted upon making it then impossible to live a holy life.

To God, sin is sin, but humanity takes the process one step further and ranks various sins, much like crimes and classifies them as misdemeanors or felonies, with each having various degrees of offense and penalties or judgments. For many Christians, the very thought of being gay or acting upon those attractions would be equated to a crime of premeditated murder, but to God, homosexuality is no different than idolatry. Idolatry, by definition is anything placed before God in one’s life, and this can be a person, place, or thing that comes before God. In the Old Testament, certain sins required specific sacrifices and some sins affected the individual and/or the community. To advance this thought, a few of the texts that speak of homosexuality use the term תּוֹעֵבָ֖ה (tôʿēbâ) to mean abomination, which indicates, “That these sins are not simply something that God peevishly objects to, but that produces revulsion in Him” (Erickson 2013, 526). The result of any sin is separation from God, but Erickson furthers this thought and illuminates, “We are not simply sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners [and] sin is any lack of conformity, active or passive, to the moral law of God. This may be a matter of act, of thought, or of inner disposition or state. [Ultimately,] sin is failure to live up to what God expects of us in act, thought, and being” (Erickson 2013, 528-529). Jesus, in Matthew 5:28 clearly establishes the mere thought of a sinful act is the same as committing it, which demonstrates the effect desires have over the propensity to sin.

In recent years and through various human rights groups, the paradigm now perpetuated is God versus gays, meaning homosexuals must either be condemned or affirmed. Currently, as this assignment is being written, members of the Westboro Baptist Church are across the street waving “God hates fags” posters in the air as the people are gathering in the church for Sunday morning service. A much more accurate sign should read, “God hates sin.” Just as sinners should not be defined by his or her past/present sin, the universal church should not be defined by the actions of extremists like those outside telling homosexuals a fiery-hell awaits them. Brown demonstrates, “The problem is many gay-affirmative people will say their sexuality is ‘who they are’ and ‘essential to their being’ and ‘very core’” (Brown 2014, 205-206). Humanity’s fallen nature leads to one’s inclination to sin, so as Brown suggests, “Rather than saying, ‘I am gay, and Jesus died to help me fulfill my sexual identity,’ they should say, ‘I struggle with the sin of homosexuality, but by God’s grace I will not be defined by it or ruled by it’” (Brown 2014, 209).

Homosexuals should not be defined by their actions, nor should their desires enslave them to feeling as though change is impossible. Brown asserts, “You can [abstain from sex,] be single, but you cannot live without God” (Brown 2014, 221). Instead of focusing on one’s sexuality or allowing sin to define someone, the emphasis must always be trying to redirect the individual’s focus back to Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior. Some churches shun people for being gay, while others make it known gay people are not welcome, but acting on homosexual desires, in God’s eyes, is no different than gossipers who gossip or thieves who continue to steal. The right does not belong to humans to say homosexuals are not welcome in the house of God and it surely does not instruct followers of Christ to treat homosexuals with disdain and demoralizing insults. When God says something is wrong, and despite His warning and commandment, the individual still chooses to sin, the body of Christ should come alongside and stake themselves next to the lost sheep until Jesus Christ, through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit produces such a radical encounter, that the person repents and turns away from a life of sin. This “God, and by default the church versus homosexuals” rhetoric must stop. We all are children of the Most High God, and Jesus Christ gave His life for everyone, regardless of what sin someone struggles with.

Another major issue that must be addressed is whether homosexuals should be ordained or serve in a ministerial capacity. Millard Erickson asserts, “While a homosexual orientation combine with a celibate lifestyle, does not seem to be sinful, the consistent biblical proscriptions of homosexual practice (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:27-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) seem to disqualify practicing homosexuals from holding such positions” (Erickson 2013, 1007-1008). Reading about Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, and home of the largest “gay Christian” denomination was bizarre. This lifestyle choice was very reminiscent of the book of Judges, where each person did what was right in his or her own eyes. Perry’s early homosexual childhood encounter was surely traumatizing, but as Brown proposes, “Could you imagine a heterosexual Christian leader describing his first youthful sexual encounter with a little girl as being an ‘innocent time of religious and sexual discovery’” (Brown 2014, 215). While the Bible does say, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” this does not justify homosexual relationships. God promises to neither leave nor forsake His children, just as He promises in Him one will find escape from the corruption of the world and everything needed to live a life of godliness. Brown rightly concludes, “[God] will either satisfy you with His presence, He will provide you with godly friends and companions, or He will help to bring change in your attractions, so you can marry a fitting, lifelong companion” (Brown 2014, 219). The message of the gospel must not be watered down, but the church needs to embrace people despite the presence of sin. If church were only for those without sin in their life, the chairs or pews would be empty, so to cast judgment on homosexuals, and not others living in sin is hypocritical and ungodly. So, can you be gay and be a Christian? In this writer’s opinion, yes, but only by recognizing those attractions being contrary to God’s design and resisting them as sinful” (Brown 2014, 213). Being a disciple of Christ begins with dying to oneself daily and denying sinful desires because being gay and a Christian does not work when those sinful attractions are acted upon. God loves us just the way we are, but He loves us too much to leave this way, regardless of what area of sin attempts to sever the relationship between God and His children. If we, the church, the body of Christ are not a part of the solution, then we are a part of the problem and this is not a place anyone wants to find themselves when he or she must give an account to God during final judgment. Love, acceptance, and forgiveness must be the motivation to reach those in need of God’s grace, mercy, and truth.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brown, Michael L. Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding With LOVE & TRUTH to Questions About HOMOSEXUALITY. Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine Publishing, 2014.

Elwell, Walter A. ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2001.

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing Group, 2013.

Point Of No Return

Point of No Return
During my morning run, I ran eight miles: four miles out and four miles back. At the turn around, I had an epiphany of the significance of that point in my endeavor. To pilots, they refer to this area as the point of no return because to go on would mean there would not be enough fuel to turn around and return safely to where they took off, so crossing this threshold could mean life or death.

By no way am I comparing my running to embarking on any dangerous endeavor like flying combat missions, but the feeling you get as you pass the half-way point is palatable as you envision the end result. This feeling is only outdone by actually completing what you set out to do. As soon as you cross the finish line,

Editable vector illustration of a man winning a race

Editable vector illustration of a man winning a race

all the preparation, blood, sweat, and tears are realized, but only once you cross it. There are no medals or awards for making it halfway and there are no participation ribbons to hand out to those who fail. The question I began to ponder was how many Christians have started the race, but have lost sight of the end goal.

As Christians, achieving half of what God wants us to do is not living up to our full potential. One of the greatest examples of not turning back comes from Captain Cortés first act after he landed in Veracruz in 1519 and gave the order to his men to burn the ships. Burn the Ships What Cortés did was force himself and his men to either succeed or die. There are ships in everyone’s lives that need to be burned so they will leave the shore and begin doing what God has called them to do. For some, they have already left the shore and encountered hard times and have begun daydreaming about home and the ships left at port, which could take you there. Remember, it is never too late to burn the ships because anything that stands in the way of you accomplishing your God-given destiny needs to be burned!

I will say this to those of you who have acknowledged your calling and are engaged actively in pursuing what God has called you to do – at least you are in the race because many Christians experience a failure to launch and, “Houston we have a problem” is not going to help you get back on track. This failure to launch can be the result of many things like poor instruction at the point of salvation or allowing one’s own need for significance to outweigh the sacrifice Jesus paid for Christians to have abundant life.Failed-Rocket-Launch_Fotor

There is victory and there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain that attempts to anchor us as captives to fear or doubt. There is a term in running called “DNF.” It means did not finish; this can be the result of injury, physical or mental breakdown, poor preparation, or simply giving up by lacking the will to go on. There has been a lot of articles and books recently about simply enjoying the journey of life and for very few that may be possible, because for the majority, they are left with the realization of how much life sucks the life out of you. Life is ultimately one of the cruelest teachers as death, disease, and addiction and countless other afflictions lead to painful detours in our so-called journey, as the destination and finish line are dangled in front of us like a carrot. Just when you think you see some light at the end of the tunnel, you find out it is a speeding train headed right for you.

If we are not careful, these detours and trials can easily become rest stations as we set up camp becoming content in our circumstances, all the while forgetting that Christ came to set us free. Everything Changes C.S. Lewis As believers, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. It is not by our power, but by the power of the Lord that we can fight through the trials and battles of this temporal world. In Christ, we are more than conquerors, so why have so many Christians allowed their circumstances to conquer them and why do they allow their mistakes to define them? I believe the primary reason is because they have forgotten, discounted, or ignored who they are in Christ; in His eyes we are precious and priceless.Christ_Died_for_Us

God does not promise we will not go through trials or persecution; in fact, He tells us as believers we will experience even more by following Christ, but God also promises we will never experience more than we can take as long as we look to Him as our source of strength because it is in the Lord where our help comes from. There are many possible reasons God may allow us to bear more than we can handle on our own.Let Go of Your Junk Ron Edmonson provides some great examples like: so you will rely on Him, so you will call on Him, so you will have no choice but Him, so He can tell us things we would not know otherwise, so He can be gracious to you, so He can show His kindness and compassion, so He can restore your soul, so He can demonstrate His strength, so you will trust in Jesus – and the Father, so you can produce character and hope, so He can keep you from being self-reliant, so He can discipline His children, so God’s power may be revealed, so He can show our need for salvation and forgiveness, so He can comfort us, so we can learn to comfort others, so He can reveal His unseen workings, so He can demonstrate how all things work for an eventual good, so the Gospel might be proclaimed, and so He can draw prodigal children home.
Goodness and Mercy of GodIf any of these hit home with you, I encourage you to not let fear, depression, pain, anger, or resentment to paralyze you anymore. Right now, simply acknowledge the goodness and mercy of God and praise Him regardless of your situation. So many times we pray for God to change our circumstances, all the while, He is trying to change us. God does not want us to stop halfway and He does not want detours to derail our God-given destiny. Never settle for less than God’s best and never let the fire and passion for serving the Lord to go out in your life because just as John wrote in Revelation 3:16 to the church at Laodicea, “So because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” We must stop thinking our ways and thoughts are higher than the Lord’s and instead begin trusting God again because His word is true and He swears by His own name because there is no name higher. The healing, miracle, or breakthrough you are waiting on is right around the corner, so never forget your purpose and the power that resides in the name of Jesus!Walk with God