There are many voices talking about this issue of homosexuality: secular, so-called Christian, and biblical. How do you know what is right and what is wrong?
We are living in a world that continues to spiral out of control when it comes to morality, especially in the area of homosexuality and transgender issues.
As I said in the first post in this series, what was once condemned is now celebrated as good and right and anyone who disagrees is attacked and condemned.
In that post I, also, talked about the changes that took place to set the stage for the moral revolution we are now experiencing. If you missed it you can read it here.
Much of the information for this series comes from a conference I attended recently put on by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors where homosexuality and transgender were the main themes. But the bigger theme of the conference was how to minister to people who are struggling with these issues in ways that are biblically appropriate and full of God’s grace. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can.
In this post I’ll be talking about the battleground of ideas and what is at stake. This is an issue that is not going away and each of us needs to learn what the Bible says, what other voices are saying, and how to minister the truth as God gives us opportunities.
All kinds of explanations:
The world offers all kinds of explanations for why someone might experience gender issues. Denny Burk said one of the current ones is the idea that people are born with “brain-characteristics” that are different from their physical/biological characteristics.
As in so many areas of life, so-called science trumps God Word. The Bible is called outdated, if it’s considered at all. Christians aren’t just wrong; we’re haters and mean to ask people to be something they aren’t. What people think and feel about themselves is more important than what God says and how He created them.
We must respond with the truth spoken in love.
But we are not just contending with a secular culture, some of the voices are from people who call themselves Christians. Some of them are:
Mark Yarhouse who wrote a book Understanding Gender Dysphoria. In it he leaves the door open for children to cross dress, take hormones, even have sex reassignment surgery.
Matthew Vine’s book God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships has gotten a lot of attention. Dr. Albert Mohler Jr., one of the conference speakers has written a response to Vine’s unbiblical book called God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines.
You can download the book free at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Press website.
Rob Bell has said the church is moments away from embracing same sex marriage. As someone at the conference said, “Not evangelical churches. We could be moments away from being shut down or killed, but not of giving up the faith.”
It’s a matter of whether we will preach the gospel or some other gospel.
Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Christianity at Boyce College says:
The Battle is a Battle for:
- Biblical Authority (2 Tim. 3.16-17)
It is sufficient for ALL your needs. It’s always right. Always good for us.
Dr. Burk went on to say the Bible says everything God created was good and “part of everything God created is the sexual difference between a man and woman. God blessed them and said be fruitful and multiply. There is a sexual and gender complementarianism to God’s good creation. Adam’s role as leader and protector is linked to his sex. We aren’t being loving when we diminish Scripture. We must take people to the cross. We have to stay true even if the whole world goes the other way.”
- Also a test of biblical relevance (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
Dr. Burk, “Do we really believe that God left us without the answers until the DSM-V? Or that we are the only generation to deal with sexual identity?”
2 Peter 1.2-4:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
7 Voices that Threaten to Lead Us Astray
Dr. Heath Lambert shared these in the opening session:
- There are voices that are tempting us to speak Grace without Repentance. This is the loudest. This is what the culture sounds like. It says accept homosexuality and gay marriage, get on board, quit calling it sinful, quit calling people made in the image of God sinful, even people who call themselves gay Christians.
“It’s not wrong to be gay any more. It’s wrong to say it’s wrong. It’s appealing. It sounds so right. No one wants to say things people hate. So why do we keep saying what people say is so mean. It’s because we cannot get over the conviction to believe God’s Word which doesn’t change. The only thing that changes is what the world is saying.”
“Where is the grace in making people comfy on the way to hell? It violates the standards of Ephesians 4.15.”
- Change without Jesus. This voice commends secular repairative therapy. It says homosexuality has a cause. It has to do with relationships with their parents. It requires a relationship with a same sex therapist that is not sexual in nature. It has a goal: to get you to be heterosexual. Be straight.
For decades Christians have co-opted that approach and used it. But it is unbiblical. We sold something as Christian that wasn’t.
Christians are body and soul living in a broken world. And for some that brokenness will result in their being drawn to homosexuality.
The answer is the gospel.
The goal is holiness, not to be heterosexual. Not go be attracted to the opposite sex. That it is often called lust in the bible.
“Jesus Christ will not abide being pushed aside. That’s why it’s a good thing that all of this is blowing up. The problem is that we started making homosexuality a different kind of sin. Each of us is profoundly sinful and our lust is not more righteous than our homosexual brothers.”
- Truth without the Bible. These are traditionalists. They believe there is a certain way that life works best. That is heterosexual. They argue that what is happening will destroy the fabric of society.
“This is the primacy of reason. It’s not about revelation or religion, but reason. There is some truth here. One of the most obvious things is that men and women were meant to go together. Destruction does flow from violating that principle.”
But we cannot ground our call for change in this, because there is no power in it. There’s power in the gospel and the Word of God. We must speak the truth—God’s truth.
- Conviction without Care. These are the culture warriors. They know it’s sinful and believe it’s destroying the culture. They are warring against the homosexual sin they believe is destroying it.
“The Supreme Court did what they did. It’s not our job to fight for our freedom, not that we should give it away, but it’s not about our rights.”
“Our job is to fight for a lost and dying world, not the first amendment. We tend to fight for lessor kingdoms. The Kingdom of God is so much better than 1950s America.”
“We get the freedom to love those who need Christ.”
- Speaking to Behavior without Addressing the Desire. Saying homosexual behavior is sinful, but homosexual desire is not sinful.
The bible teaches that behavior flows from desires. You do what you do because you want what you want. Real change needs to address desires.
Saying, don’t engage in homosexual behavior, but don’t worry about your desires will backfire because if people don’t repent, they will fail sooner or later.
Instead, we need to remind them, and remember ourselves, that struggle brings us all face to face with the need for Jesus Christ. We are all changing from the inside out and that’s the real path to change.
- Voices Tempting us to Speak Ethics without Ministry. Ethics is what’s right and wrong. Ministry is how you get from what’s wrong to what’s right.
This is the easiest voice to fall into. It’s important to teach that homosexuality is sin. It’s important to defend the Bible against attack. But if we miss ministry, we will violate Ephesians 4.15. It is true that homosexuality is sin, but it’s not true enough.
The Bible also teaches that the Bible helps people change. If we only tell people it’s wrong, they will fall into despair. If we say it’s sin but don’t help them change, we will make a mockery of the grace of God.
- To speak Jesus without Change. These are nervous Christians. Some wonder, is it really possible for a homosexual to change?
We need to listen to the Bible. Ephesians 1.4 says we should be holy and blameless. And Ephesians 2.10 says we were created for good works.
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
And Ephesians 4.14-15:
14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,
It’s through faith working in love that people will change (Gal. 5.6).
One of Dr. Lambert’s final thoughts was this, “We must push back against the voices that say you cannot change. That says more about what we believe about Jesus!”
In upcoming posts I’ll be talking about how to minister to people who want to change, how to help hurting families, how to love our homosexual and transgender friends, and more. Be sure to sign up to receive email reminders below.
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