10 Theses About Christianity and Homosexuality

I was recently asked to present a short talk about Christianity and homosexuality at The Nines. Below is a summary of that talk. You can view the video here. Make sure to watch Dustin’s video below as well for a powerful testimony.

Here are the 10 theses I presented about Christianity and homosexuality:

1.     The point is really not homosexuality; the point is the Lordship of Jesus.

We’re not the first generation to be offended by some biblical teaching. If you had been alive in Charleston in 1851, you’d find the Bible’s teaching on the equality of the races offensive. Muslims today find the Bible’s teaching on forgiveness for adulterers abhorrent. The Bible is an “equal opportunity offender.” The question we have to ask is, “Do we get to judge the word of God does it judge us?” Jesus wasn’t a politician who gave us a platform to ratify; he was a Lord who commanded us to obey. 

2.     Our stance on this issue may be one of the most important tests of faithfulness in our generation.

Martin Luther said that the courage of the soldier is tested in how well he stands where the battle is the hottest, not in how brave he postures where the battle is no longer being fought. It takes little courage to decry the evils of racism or the greed of Wall Street. Almost anyone would say “Amen” to decrying those. Our faithfulness to Jesus is tested in whether we maintain His decrees in things our culture finds offensive.

3.     The loss of gender identity has devastating consequences for society.

For more information on this, see Kathy Keller in The Meaning of Marriage or Wayne Grudem in Politics According to the Bible, or books by Mark Yarhouse. They explain why homosexuality is harmful to the individual, children, and society. 

4.     God loves the homosexual.

I don’t know too many people who would object to this, but is this what people “carry away” from our teaching? Remember, error is often just truth out of proportion. Do people leave our talks on this issue thinking more about the sinfulness of homosexuality or more about the love of God for the homosexual?

5.     God doesn’t send people to hell for homosexuality.

Here’s how I know that: He doesn’t send people to heaven for heterosexuality. He sends people to hell for self-rule and self-righteousness. This includes both the homosexual who rejects God’s words for his own preferences, and the self-righteous churchgoer who thinks he’s fundamentally better than the homosexual. God gives the gospel to people who recognize their sinfulness and fall upon His mercy in repentance and faith. When we treat homosexuals as beyond redemption, we lie about the gospel.

 6.     We speak as redeemed sinners, not saints.

The gospel leads us to speak with deep humility and without a drop of hostility. We are not waging a war against homosexuals; Jesus fought and won the only war that matters—the war against sin and death. And he fought it for all of us, homosexual or not. This means that judgmentalism, hatred, and exclusion have no place in our demeanor. The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and that includes our gay neighbors.

7.     Just because you’re ticking people off doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong.

People got so mad at John the Baptist for preaching against open marriage that they cut his head off. Jesus didn’t say, “John, you are putting obstacles in my way. If you’d just stick with poverty, corporate greed, and the need to recycle, you’d make it easy for me.” No, he said that John was the greatest prophet ever to live. 

8.     Avoid pat answers or simplistic statements.

A lot of harm has been done by Christian leaders who speak from ignorance, saying things like, “All homosexuals have been abused.” This sort of thing brings shame on our testimony. Again, Mark Yarhouse has a lot of helpful resources here.We should also recognize that sexual struggles are not limited to men—women struggle with homosexuality and pornography too. We tend to talk about these issues as if it only had to do with guys, and when we do we make a lot of women feel like their struggles make them completely irregular and unclean.

9.     We can and should be friends with people who are homosexuals.

Jesus befriended sinners, starting with us. So we welcome people to our church—and into our lives—who are homosexuals. Homosexuals are made in the image of God, and they honor us by being willing to be friends with us! While we can’t stand in “Christian fellowship” with someone who openly embraces what we believe put Him on the cross (1 Cor 5:1-13), we can love and befriend them.

We recognize that many homosexuals are hurting, and if you are involved at all in your community you know that. Many of them need the touch of grace that Jesus extended to us. When our homosexual neighbors are in pain, we are to be the first to befriend them, protect them, and to lay down our lives for them.

 10.  Sexual ethics are not the center of Christianity. 

The gospel is. C.S. Lewis said that if they stumbled over the sexual teaching of the Bible, they should “punt” them for a while. Instead, study Jesus. If you conclude, as I have, that He is Lord, then you can and should surrender to Him in all things, whether you agree with Him or not. Take time to consider that first. Don’t be distracted by secondary issues.

Sexual mores were not the center of Jesus’ message, and they are not the center of ours. Start with what Jesus did for you on the cross, and then move your way out from that to the less important matters. Jesus welcomed into His presence all manner of people struggling to figure out who He is, and we welcome them to our church as well.

  5Comments

  1. Adam Shields   •  

    Your explanation of point one seems to be historically wrong. While I believe, and I am sure you do as well, that slavery is wrong. In 1851, almost all Christians believed that the bible said that slavery, as ideally practiced was acceptable. There were some that said that slavery as practices in the US was wrong. But very few Christians rejected slavery because of scripture. The vast majority of Christian that rejected slavery had to see scripture differently then the ‘plain reading’ that had been traditionally taught.

    For more detail about this read Mark Noll’s (evangelical, top ranked historian, not someone that is anti christian) The Civil War as Theological Crisis.

    I had been taught that we do not have slavery today because of good evangelicals that read their bibles and fought against slavery. However, Noll suggests that that is a revision of history.

    And on number 7, the exact opposite is also true. Just because you are ticking someone off does not mean you are dealing with scripture appropriately or doing the right thing.

    But Number 10 I completely agree with. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts a person of sin, not you or me. If someone doesn’t think that that people who have been Christians for a long time do not get new conviction about sin that they have been unaware of (or unable to deal with) previously then we are just not paying attention.

  2. cb scott   •  

    Well stated. Thank you for posting this piece.

  3. Ben Thorp   •  

    re: Adam’s point – I think that the slavery issue is a lot more nuanced than simply that “evangelicals” were on one side or the other. Whilst it is true that many Christians defended slavery from a Biblical point of view, I would suggest that it is equally true that the abolition of slavery was also spearheaded by Christians (particular the Quakers, AIUI). In the US, this was also aided by the 2nd Great Awakening in the early 19th century, which inspired many groups to call for abolition.

  4. James Horton   •  

    Good article but #4 is problematic for me. To say God loves us without redemption in Jesus Christ is misleading. It is true that God is love and that God offers (Romans 5:8)all unrepentant sinners an opportunity to be loved through redemption (John 3:16 – tells us how God loves and how we receive it). But to say God loves us in an unrepentant, unredeemed condition is misleading. Telling someone God loves them and at the same time revealing there is God’s judgment, the lake of fire and eternal torment, God’s wrath against sin/sinners conflict.
    We should welcome homosexuals, adulterous heterosexuals, alcoholics, liars, thieves yes all sinners to our churches. But we must be clear that anyone who has not received forgiveness and redemption in and by Christ Jesus the Lord is in danger of God’s soon coming wrath against sin from which Jesus came to rescue all who believe and call upon His name. The love of God is the gift of salvation in Christ Jesus the Lord and in no other.

  5. Adam shields   •  

    @Ben Thorp, my point isn’t that Christians didn’t work to end slavery, it is that most Christians did not believe that the bible condemned slavery as an institution. Which is what most Christians now believe and what most Christians in 1851 did not. Christians did fight against slavery, but because they thought the particular form of slavery in the US was injust.

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