Asking for a Friend
Can Someone Be Gay and Be a Christian?
David Marvin | 07.31.18
With so many differing opinions out there, it's hard to know what the Bible actually says about homosexuality. Is it wrong? Isn’t love, love? Is the Church simply behind the times? Judge not, right? In this message, we unpack the truth of Scripture on the matter and how the Church should respond to it.
Can Someone Be Gay and Be a Christian?
With so many differing opinions out there, it's hard to know what the Bible actually says about homosexuality. Is it wrong? Isn’t love, love? Is the Church simply behind the times? Judge not, right? In this message, we unpack the truth of Scripture on the matter and how the Church should respond to it.
Welcome friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth, Houston, El Paso, Cedar Park, Spring, wherever you are joining or listening from as we continue this series, Asking for a Friend. Hey, quick PSA. Tonight's topic is mature content, so if you have children with you in the room, this would probably be a good time to head to Sonic or some other place, or if you're listening at a future date, this would be a time for you to probably hit "pause" and listen to it yourself.
I'm going to start with a little bit of a story. Recently, I have been in preparation for a talk we may give at a future date inside of this series or at least at some point in The Porch. In a number of different conversations, I've recognized, as I sit in a circle and have these conversations, a heightened sensitivity as I approach it. It's a conversation about race. Race is a huge issue inside of our culture right now, and just the conversation about, "How does the church play a role in bringing healing to an area where it seems like society is further getting divided, and how do we be a part of that?"
As I've sat in conversations in circles with people and we try to listen to one another and talk through, "How does the church play an active role in bringing this conversation about in a healthy way?" I've recognized a sensitivity around it, where I want to make sure that I'm not, by the questions I ask, even the terms I use, either being invalidating or insulting and at the same time that I recognize and care for those who are there.
I think the reason why is twofold. First, I don't know if you can tell, I'm white. Like, extra white. I get sunburned indoors. So there's that. I want to learn from different perspectives. If the body of Christ can't learn to listen and hear different perspectives and care for one another, who can? So I want to be sensitive to that. The other reason there's a sensitivity to make sure the tenderness around that topic and just the handling of that topic is done really well is because, historically, the church has not always done well about that topic.
So I want to make sure we are allowing the Spirit of God to continue to create unity and handling it really well. I say all that because, in the same way, I feel that way about tonight's topic. It's one of those really emotionally charged things that is often a part of the conversation in culture, and it's a conversation that has not always been one the church has handled well. Tonight we're going to talk about the subject of homosexuality.
Last week, we dove into, "What does the Bible say about premarital sex?" and tonight we're going to open up the conversation about, "What does the Bible say about homosexuality?" specifically addressing the question of…Can you be gay or lesbian and be a Christian? This is not some political exercise we're going to have. This is a personal issue for many people in the room. Either same-sex attraction is something you personally have wrestled with or you may know someone, a family member or a brother.
This isn't some abstract idea; this is a person who is connected to many of us inside of the room. I know I've personally sat with friends who, having once attended here or church in general, won't come back because of the issue of homosexuality. The church historically has not always handled it well. There have been things done in the name of Jesus that were evil or were ostracizing and certainly were unloving and un-Christlike.
At the same time, we live in a world that is continuing to move farther and farther away from God's Word. So how do we maintain whatever the Bible says, which we're going to explore tonight, and also where can the church continue to take ground on an issue that seems to be on the fault line of our culture or just at the forefront of so much of the conversation? This has been used in a way I don't think it was ever intended to be: to hit people.
God didn't give it to us to beat people with; he gave it to us in order that we would find life. So tonight, I'm going to do as best I can to approach this subject in a way that I hope represents God's heart and God's Word. I know I'm going to fail. This is one of those subjects where, at the end of the night, you always regret, "Man, I wish I would have said this better. I wish I would have said that more clearly."
I fully expect and am well aware of the shortcomings my communication may have, but as best we can, I want to explore alongside of you what God's Word says about the subject of what it looks like to be gay or to be lesbian. We're going to look specifically at three questions. Can you be gay and be a Christian? Why or why not? And how the church must change on this issue.
Let's talk about the first one…Can you be gay and be a Christian? Well, immediately, it becomes a question of…What do you mean by "gay"? If by "gay" you mean someone who has homosexual or same-sex attraction (gay or lesbian I'm using interchangeably there)… If by that you're talking about attraction, sure.
In other words, it's not homosexuality or homosexual attraction that will stop you from being a Christian any more than heterosexual attraction makes you be a Christian. You can have temptation, and that's not a sin. Homosexual attraction is not a sin. Being tempted in a same-sex manner is not a sin, but if by being gay you mean homosexual actions, the Bible is a lot more clear.
Here's what Paul says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 9: "Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men…" Your translation may have the word homosexuality. "…nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
Paul, are you saying that being gay will keep you out of heaven? What Paul is saying is that having unrepentant sin in your life of any kind that you just embrace is not the mark of someone who's a member of the kingdom of heaven. We can zoom in on homosexuality. He really says if you look at God's Word and embrace sexual immorality, which is sleeping with anyone other than a spouse, if you embrace idolatry, which is anytime we put anything before God, and that is an unrepentant lifestyle you have, that's not the mark of someone who is a follower of Jesus.
Any unrepentant sin someone embraces and tolerates, Paul would say, is the mark of someone who doesn't know God or at least is certainly not walking with him and is very deceived. Here's the rub on this issue. Let's be honest. The biggest issue inside of the room from this list is not homosexual sin. There's a lot more heterosexual sin that's taking place inside of this room.
Paul would say, "Can you be an unrepentant person who's sleeping with your boyfriend and be a member of the kingdom of heaven?" Someone who's like, "Look, I know what God's Word says. I know that's not okay. I just don't care. It's not that big of a deal. I'm sure God will accept me." I think Paul would say, "You should be concerned." If you have homosexual sin that you're just saying, "I'm embracing; I don't care what God says," you should be concerned.
If you are a gossip and you're like, "It's not that big of a deal. We bond over it. I know God's Word says it's bad, but I really don't care," you should be concerned. If you live for the weekend, you live for the party, the next high, and you're like, "I know God really is not for that, but it's not that big of a deal; you only live once, and someday I'll get more serious," you should be concerned.
Paul would say those are not the characteristics of someone who's a member of the kingdom of heaven or, said another way, who has Jesus as the King of their heart and their life, because Jesus is the King of the kingdom of heaven. So, can someone be gay and be a Christian? If by "gay" you mean sexual orientation or attracted to the same sex, yes. They can also not be. It hinges around whether or not they have trusted in Christ as the payment for their sin and the resurrection, that he came back alive, and they've trusted in that.
But can someone live an unrepentant sinful lifestyle and embrace sin that Jesus, as the King, has said is not to be a part of the people of God, which is any type of sin? He lists out a whole bunch of them. There's nothing distinct about homosexual sin. Paul would say, "No," or they should at least be concerned, because that is not characteristic of the people who are members of the kingdom of heaven.
Homosexual behavior, not homosexual attraction is sin according to the Bible. Well, doesn't Jesus say that we're not to judge? You often hear inside of culture, "Hey, we're to judge not. Didn't Jesus say, 'Judge not'? So we shouldn't judge." Jesus didn't say not to judge; he tells us how to judge and who to judge. If you read in Matthew, chapter 7, Jesus says, "Do not judge to a standard that you don't want to be held to."
He says, basically, "To the measure that you judge someone, you're going to be held to that standard. You need to know this." Then he goes into an explanation of how we are to judge someone. He literally says, "Take the plank out of your eye. Then you can look at a speck in your brother's." The Bible doesn't teach not to judge; it tells us who to judge and how to judge.
First Corinthians, chapter 5. That's another letter Paul writes, and he says you are to judge one another. By "judge," hold one another accountable to the standards of God's Word. That's what it teaches. The Bible doesn't teach, "Judge not. Only God can judge." It says we're to hold one another accountable to the standards inside of God's Word. It would be impossible for you not to judge or make judgments on things. Here's what I mean by that. All of us come into the room, and we all hold judgments. We all hold things we believe are wrong.
You probably came into the room and were like, "I think child abuse is wrong." That's a judgment. Who are you to judge? We're all fine with that type of judgment. The Bible is fine with that type of judgment, because that's evil. Many of us came into the room (I'd say most of us, hopefully) and said, "Racism is wrong. It's an evil atrocity, and it's not okay." That's a judgment. The Bible doesn't teach not to judge; it teaches us who to judge and how to judge, in love, brothers and sisters in Christ alongside of us.
Another response people will say is, "Jesus never specifically addresses this issue. Why didn't he bring it up?" The reality is Jesus does address the idea of marriage, repeatedly. He says it's between one man and one woman for life until death do they part. He says, "This is the standard of marriage." He literally says, "If you can't accept this, you should not get married, but this is what marriage is."
You may be thinking, "Yeah, but he doesn't specifically address homosexual behavior. What's the big deal?" If the standard of what is okay and not okay is what Jesus explicitly addresses, let's be honest; there are a lot of things he doesn't address. He doesn't address wife beating, but I don't think any of us are like, "I think he was pro-wife beating." He doesn't address heroin. I don't know that anyone is like, "He's a big heroin guy." I think everyone would say, "No, I don't think he'd be okay with that."
He clearly lays out that Jesus' perspective on marriage and what God's design was is between one man and one woman for life. That's what Jesus says about the conversation of what marriage is. In Romans, chapter 1, Paul makes abundantly clear that homosexual behavior is contrary to God's design for the world. God is the Creator.
You can go read it later in Romans, chapter 1, where Paul lays out in verse 25 through the end of the chapter that God created the world, he designed the world to work in a certain way, and when man chases after sin, they reject the Creator's design and say, "I know better than you," and they run toward destruction. He gives a ton of different sins that man runs to when we reject God, when we reject the Creator or the Designer and say, "You created it, but we know better."
"You don't know how to handle this life," he would say. He doesn't just cover sexuality. He says they reject the way God says they should use their words, their mouth, their relationships with one another, with their parents. He goes into a whole list of things. Paul makes clear it is a rejection of God's created design and how he created the world to work.
Anytime we abandon the inventor or creator's intent, the creator's instructions, things don't go well, generally speaking. Let me illustrate it this way. There are two types of people in this room right now. There are people who when they are doing laundry read the tags on their shirt about how to wash it and how to not, and so forth. Then there are guys. (No, I'm sure there are guys out there who read the tags.)
Here's what's going to happen for you, gentlemen. This is a public service announcement. Let me help you out here. A little marriage advice. Someday, if you get married, you're going to be in the laundry room, just trying to be hubby of the year, putting the laundry in. You're doing laundry for your wife. You're like, "Don't worry about me. It's okay. If I get nominated for husband of the year, no big deal."
Doing the laundry, taking care of it. This happened to me recently. I'm washing some clothes for my wife. She had this…I don't even know what to call it…a poncho, I'm being told. It was like an afghan blanket with a hole in it, and you put it over. It was from…I don't know. I'm just going to embarrass myself if I try to name whatever store it was from. Anyway, I'm washing them, throwing it in there. It's great.
We get the laundry done. Everything is dry. It comes out. It looks like it was made for a 7-year-old. It's this tiny thing that she had just gotten for Christmas, a very expensive item from a family member. She was like, "You ruined this cashmere…" Oh, okay. Wow! Judgmental people in here. This thing is so tiny. I'm like, "No, it'll be good." I get it soaking wet again, and I'm in the backyard just trying to stretch this thing out. It was unsuccessful.
I had failed to read… She was like, "You didn't read…? It says on the instructions, 'Do not dry. Do not dry.'" I was like, "Who reads the instructions? Why would you put it in the dirty clothes hamper if you didn't want to?" Failing to read the instructions, the creator's design, it had consequences. Now, that on a micro level is comical, but it's the same thing that happens anytime we abandon God's design for anything.
There's pain that's introduced. There are consequences. There's damage that sometimes can be worked through but oftentimes can't be undone. That's what the Bible teaches, that God created the world. He designed it to work in a certain way. This is why God is opposed to homosexual behavior. I want to talk a little bit about why that may be even further. If God is not opposed to homosexual attraction taking place in a person but homosexual behavior being acted out, why would God be opposed to that? There are a couple of reasons that come to mind quickly.
So, our second idea of why God would be opposed to homosexual behavior. If it's two consenting adults…love is love…what's the big deal? The first reason is, as it relates to marriage, the idea that a man and man, if it's love together, could be defined as a marriage is an offense to what God says all throughout the Bible marriage is, which is not just a man and a woman together, though it is that; it's ultimately a metaphor for Christ and his unending, unstoppable love for his bride, the church.
Ultimately, in other words, marriage is a picture not just of a man and woman on earth together, but that man and woman married together on earth is to reflect what ultimately marriage is all about, which is Christ and his love for his bride, the church. To attack that is to attack what marriage is all about, which is Jesus and his bride.
Paul says this in Ephesians 5:31-32. I read it this past weekend in a wedding I was doing. I read it in every single wedding I do, and it always jumps out to me. Here's what Paul says: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…" This reason being marriage. "…and the two will become one flesh." That's crazy. Two become one? Wow! That's shocking. Paul says, "This is a profound mystery…" Yeah, two becoming one. For sure. "…but I am talking about Christ and the church."
Paul says as mysterious as man and woman, two becoming one together is, ultimately, the more profound and greater mystery is not how two become one but is ultimately about how this thing called marriage is ultimately about Christ and his bride, the church. Man doesn't get to decide what it is and what it's not, because it's ultimately not about man. It's about Jesus.
The second reason I think God is opposed to homosexuality and homosexual behavior is because of the unbelievable consequences that come as a result of that lifestyle, consequences in the realm of mental health, of life expectancy, of disease, and of divorce. Here's what we know. There have been studies that have shown this, and I'm going to list out some of the statistics and the sources that come from them.
People who live in a homosexual lifestyle are 50 percent more likely to suffer from depression and abuse. They're 200 percent more likely to commit suicide. That comes from a recent study in the medical journal of BMC Psychiatry. Often suicide is blamed on religious people or the church and societal pressure that makes them feel ostracized, so if only society would be more tolerant and accepting, then those types of behaviors…depression, suicide, substance abuse…would all go away. It's just not true.
There was a study done in Sweden, a country that legalized same-sex relationships in 1944, a country that was named by the International Lesbian Gay Association the most friendly country in Europe, if not the world; a country that in 2003 legalized that to talk negatively about someone's sexual orientation was a hate speech, punishable by fine or by jail. To even suggest, like I'm doing right now, that God's design was for man and for woman, I could be put in jail.
It's a country that has gone as far as it can, pushed the agenda to make sure that we create a tolerant environment, and they don't have lower suicide rates; they have higher. The suicide rates that were found in this study by the European Journal of Epidemiology, May 11, 2016, was that suicide rates in Sweden are 300 percent among the homosexual community.
There are consequences not just in that arena; there are consequences in life expectancy. I'm not here to beat down with stats. There's a God who loves you who doesn't want this for anyone, any more than you would want it for someone if it's going to dramatically impact their life and their life expectancy. The average life expectancy is diminished by between 20 and 24 years.
The Eastern Psychological Association found that regardless of how tolerant the society is, the average is the same. They did further studies in European nations that have gone to great lengths for many years to normalize homosexual activity, and they found that, still, the numbers were consistent with the United States, on average between 20 and 24.
The study cites Denmark, where heterosexual males live to an age of 74 compared to homosexual males who live to an age of 51. They studied Norway, where heterosexual males live to an age of 77, homosexual males to 52, and among lesbian couples, 78 among heterosexual women compared to 56 among homosexual.
A study found that only 1 percent of homosexual men will die of old age. One percent. The study concluded that the homosexual lifestyle is significantly more dangerous than even smoking. The God who's there is not angry. He's not a God who hates people in the homosexual lifestyle. He's a God who loves you who doesn't want that for you.
It not only impacts mental health and life expectancy. One of the reasons life expectancy is impacted is because of the prevalence of disease. The United States Centers for Disease Control in 2013 found that while only 3 percent of the United States population is homosexual, the group is responsible for 50 percent of the cases of syphilis, 60 percent of the cases of gonorrhea, and over 75 percent of the HIV cases in the last five years.
The AIDS epidemic was so closely associated with the homosexual lifestyle that when it was originally coined in 1982 it was called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency). There was a prevalence of this disease among this community. The God who's there is not angry. He's not looking to rip you off. He loves heterosexual and homosexual alike, and he doesn't want us to live in a way that's contrary to his design in any way, whether it's sleeping with your boyfriend right now, whether it's abusing alcohol right now, or whether it's living in a homosexual lifestyle right now.
Why is disease so rampant? There are two reasons. I don't want to be too graphic. The first is because the human body is not made for anal sex. The tissues and the things that are involved are more likely to create complications when sexual activity takes place. The second is because monogamy is the extreme minority. In other words, the likelihood of a gay married couple being committed exclusively to one another…
It's not impossible and it's not that it has never happened, but studies have shown it is a promiscuous environment, often tolerated, and even openly it's fine to go after. There was a study published in the Journal of Sex Research. They surveyed 2,583 couples who were married together. They found that not a single couple was able to sustain a monogamous sexual relationship. The average number of sexual partners among those 2,583 was between 100 and 500 in their life.
Furthermore, the likelihood of divorce inside of a same-sex marriage is 50 percent if it's among gay men and 167 percent more among lesbians. Why would God be opposed to this lifestyle? Jesus summarized the great commandments and, really, the whole Bible for all of us. He was asked, "What's the greatest commandment?" Jesus said in Matthew 22 you can sum up all of the Law and the Prophets by two things: love God and love your neighbor as yourself.
The reason God would be opposed to this is he knows it's hurting people of life. Said another way, the reason we, as the church, feel the burden to shepherd through this issue and to talk about it and share what God's Word says is we believe it would be unloving to not do so. People in the room are going to say, "It's so bigoted. I can't believe you. Love is love is love."
If someone in your community or someone in your life, a friend, maybe a family member, said, "Hey, I'm going to make a decision. I'm going to move to a city, and in this city I'm going to be more likely to be suicidal. I'm going to be more likely to be anxious. I'm going to almost certainly have a sexually transmitted disease, and on and on from there, where I'm going to have to have a lot of time spent in hospitals. Not only that, I am guaranteed as a statistical fact, almost (as close as you could get if the average is 51 years old), to die 24 years earlier, and God clearly says that's not an okay city to live in," would it be loving for you to say, "Yeah, dude. Go live there. You do you. Come on"? Of course it wouldn't be.
They may respond with, "Oh, come on. Love is love. If you loved me, if you cared about me, you would encourage the fact that I'm going to go live in this city." As followers of Jesus, any more than we could encourage divorce, which we will not (and that's an entirely other issue we can touch), or any more than we would encourage someone to participate in a polygamous marriage or participate in raising children in a way that is abusive, we cannot encourage someone to make decisions or to move to a city or to choose a lifestyle that not only God's Word says he commands and calls us not to, but even society.
Go look all of those stats up. You can re-listen to it again. These are not like, "Oh yeah, I made these up earlier today." They're clearly known things, and the consequences are huge. If you're sitting there in the room and thinking, "Gosh, this place is so bigoted; I can't believe it," I think we love them more than you do, because if someone is going to choose a path that's going to have unbelievably painful consequences, including leading to death, and you're like, "I don't care. You do you, man. It makes me feel good inside to give you that approval…" Body of Christ. We love them more than you do.
Sadly, this is an issue that for Christians, increasingly more, you're going to be called bigoted, hateful, and homophobic if you hold to these things. Recently, someone had come and spray-painted outside of Watermark's building… It's not the first time; it's not the last time. It has actually happened since then. It said, "Dallas tribe," Whatever that means. "You're racist, sexist, transphobic, biphobic." This has happened multiple times since.
On this particular occasion, it was a Sunday evening, and someone had gone out there and spray-painted. The reason they say that…I get it…is because of talking about it like this and attempting to in a loving way. Do you know what the gospel irony about that was? That night, do you know who went out there and cleaned that up?
One of the members who's plugged in here who has had his life changed, a black same-sex-attracted-struggle male, and a Middle-Eastern man, both plugged in here, went out, got down, and began to clean it off, saying, "This is my church home. People can call us bigoted. They can call me racist, homophobic, transphobic as a black person who struggles with same-sex attractions, but my life has been changed. I'll go out here and clean this up and get on my hands and knees."
He's not the bigot in that situation. Whoever spray-painted that is. Do you know what the definition of bigot is? Someone who doesn't tolerate other people's views. If you get called a bigot for holding to the Bible, you're not the bigot; they are. That's a fact. We can clap all day long for it, but think about it. If someone is saying, "I know you hold to this book 2,000 years old. It's been around a long time, but I just think you're wrong. You're a bigot…" "You're an idiot. That's what you are, because my opinion tells me I'm right and you're wrong."
If that's what you hold inside this room… I know we're going to get some emails on this one, but we are striving to love every type of person, every sexual orientation that can be there. God's Word is clear on this one, just like he's clear, candidly (I'm going to come back to it), on the heterosexual sin taking place in this room that is much more prevalent than any homosexual sin.
What if they find a gay gene? What if it comes out and they find that there was a gay gene? To this point, studies have shown there has been nothing conclusively, but here's the deal: even if they did, that would fit well within what the Bible says is total depravity or man having a sin nature that was born. I was born with a propensity where I want to have sex with every beautiful woman I see, but I don't know that anyone thinks that's a good thing.
TIME magazine in 2010 did an article that was called "Adultery: It's In Our Genes," that men have a propensity toward polygamy, and they think there's a genetic passing that has taken place, but I don't hear anyone being like, "You know what? Just let boys be boys. They can go sleep with whoever they want." I think people would say, "No, that's probably not good for society, even if it's in our genes."
"Why would God make me this way?" God did not make someone in their sinful nature. We were all born with a broken sin nature. He did not make any of us sinful. He didn't make me polygamous. He didn't make you any way. We were all born broken, and in that brokenness it manifests itself in all kinds of ways that go from there. God is not the originator of your sin or mine; he's the solution for it, and he provided that solution by sending his Son to be a Savior.
So how should we, as the church, change or how must we, as the body of Christ, change our response? I want to give just a few things, and then we're going to close down in a few minutes. The first is we have to change the approach we have with nonbelievers. The church has to stop beating people with a Bible that they don't believe in. If someone is not a follower of Jesus, you don't point them to change their sexuality; you point them to their Savior, to Jesus.
Let me say it this way: God's biggest concern for someone who is in a homosexual relationship is not their sexuality; it's them knowing their Savior, Jesus. None of us have to change our sexuality before we can become a Christian. "Hey, stop doing that, and then you can become a part of our group." We invite people to come to know Jesus, and we trust that he will work at their hearts and he'll begin to work inside of their lives.
Just like you didn't change your behavior before you came. You didn't stop a pornography addiction before you trusted in Christ. The church has to be a place that stops pointing out people's sin who don't claim the name of Jesus. We point them to their Savior. At the end of the day, God's desire for people is not calling them to be heterosexual; it's calling them to be holy.
The second way we have to change is that we cannot be people who fold on truth and the truth from God's Word, and we cannot beat people down with it. We cannot be people who just say, "You know what? Society has changed. It's fine. No big deal. Who cares? I don't really read this thing anyways." We have to be people who hold to the truth found in God's Word. Sadly, there are entire denominations that are saying, "It's fine. Maybe we just missed it on this one. Maybe society has changed."
The homosexual activity in the first century far outweighs anything that takes place today. Go do any sort of historical research and you'll see that. So to argue that society has changed… Are you kidding me? Pederasty was embraced and accepted. In other words, pedophilia was embraced and accepted. There were all types of sexual engagements that all of us would say are not okay. Prostitutes were a normal part of society. The sexual norms of that day were not way behind ours, like, "Oh, Grandma is back there." They were way past anything we see today.
So to think the Bible has to catch up with the times… Are you kidding me? They make Las Vegas look tame. That's true. Do any sort of historical study on that. So we can't be people who are like, "You know what? Things have changed. Throw the towel in." Thankfully, those denominations are crippling and shutting down, because people aren't hungry for, "You know what? This book doesn't really matter that much. You do you, man. Just show up and pay the tithe." That's embarrassing and an affront to God and is not the church.
The second way we cannot respond is not just unfolding on truth but also on beating people down. Examples like this. This is offensive. This is disgusting, not only because it uses an offensive term, which I'm not even going to justify by using, but because it's not true. In order for that sign even to be true you'd have to put love in there, because God loves people in a gay lifestyle, people in a straight lifestyle, people of every lifestyle.
He loved them so much he would give his life for them if there were just them on the planet. That's an offense, and that's disgusting. I know inside of this room the church probably goes, "Yeah, amen, for sure," but anytime we ostracize, alienate, or treat this sin as though it's something different than all of the other ones, we are, in a minor degree, participating in the same way. There's no difference. All of us are broken, in need of a Savior.
The third thing is around how we approach fellow believers who have same-sex attraction. I'll move quickly through this. How do we do that? How do we approach our fellow believers who struggle with same-sex attraction? We do what we do with people with non-same-sex attraction. We point them to truth. We hope that they point us to truth. We walk alongside them in community with one another, and we bear one another's burdens.
The church has to create safe environments for people to be able to talk about this, where people can come and know, "Hey, I can bring forward same-sex attraction, and I'm not going to be judged any more than if I bring forward heterosexual attraction." We come alongside one another and we care and we lock arms and fight against sin together. This is what the body of Christ does. We live in community.
The fourth thing (at least I can speak for myself) is I think we could do a better job of acknowledging the extent to which the gospel and picking up your cross daily is calling people who have same-sex attraction to. In other words, I think even some sort of recognition that, at the end of the day, all of us to follow Jesus, Jesus says, "Pick up your cross and follow me," but not all crosses are the same weight.
The reality that in doing that… If you have same-sex attraction in a way that you're like, "I've prayed for God to take it away. He has not taken it away, and I've come to the reality that I am choosing to follow Jesus and choosing that I may have a life of celibacy ahead of me…" We need to, as a body of Christ, look at that and say what is true. That's amazing. Your faith inspires me. The fact that you say, "Though none go with me, I'm going to follow you. If it costs me my sexuality, I surrender it all to you, Jesus." You are an inspiration to me. You strengthen my faith.
There are people of you in the room right now, listening in Fort Worth, listening in Houston. You strengthen my faith. You make me want to be more like Jesus. I think some of the strongest faiths at Watermark are men and women who choose to be celibate for the kingdom of God. That's what you're doing: choosing to say, "God, even my sexuality, it's yours. You're the Lord of my life."
Maybe the most Christlike people in the church today are the people who say, "God, I would choose to be celibate for the kingdom of God, just like my Savior was." You are an inspiration to me. Not all crosses are the same weight, but the way you allow the one who is in you, who is greater than the temptation you feel, greater than the world around you, to be strong in the midst of weakness is an inspiration. May God multiply your kind.
What I know is that in eternity, as hard as it may feel in this moment… For those of you who are not same-sex attracted, think about the crushing weight many of us feel as singles in the room, wondering, "Am I going to be single for forever?" Think about that. If you are going, "Unless God changes something here, I'm never going to have that type of relationship where I wake up next to someone, where we raise children together…" God can change something. We're going to come back to that in a second.
That's amazing. You inspire me. You make me want to know Jesus more, follow him more. I'm confident that in eternity everything that you experience in stewarding this, that you may miss out on marriage, kids, all of that stuff, will pale in comparison to what God has waiting for you. Here's what the Scripture says. It almost speaks of in multiple places… It's almost as though when we get to eternity there are going to be people who were not celibate, who were not same-sex attracted, who look at you like, "Dude, oh my gosh! Unbelievable. The way God rewarded you, I wish that on earth I would have walked through that."
It says this in Isaiah 56:4-5: "For this is what the Lord says: 'To the eunuchs [those who are same-sex attracted, those who keep celibate for my sake, for the kingdom of God] …who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant—to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will endure forever.'"
Those who choose to be celibate for the sake of God, he says, "For all of eternity, I will give you a reward that makes anything in this life that you missed out on pale to what's ahead." I know that doesn't ease the burden or lighten it, but at the same time, know that God has not forgotten you. He sees you, loves you, and you are an inspiration to us.
The final thing we need to do is that we have to put change firmly in the hands of the Holy Spirit. People are not projects. Someone today asked, "Does Watermark do the gay conversion therapy?" No. The Holy Spirit does change. Watermark doesn't do any change, honestly. The Spirit of God either moves in and begins to change people's lives or he doesn't. As the body of Christ, we put change firmly in the hands of the Holy Spirit. We come alongside to encourage and walk alongside.
It would be a disservice if I told you right now that if you just read your Bible enough God will change your sexual orientation. It would also be a disservice to God if I told you that he could not change your sexual orientation. I have friends in my life, and they may be the rare exception, but if God can bring dead people to life, he can bring change about, yet he may just call you to steward that, to show the world that Jesus is enough and to be an example to a community that only needs more and more examples.
Paul even says it is possible that change does, at times, take place. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, we read earlier where he said, "Do not be deceived. Wrongdoers won't inherit the kingdom of God. Neither will sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who have sex with men, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers…none of these will inherit the kingdom of God." "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed…" Were. "…you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
There are times that God, for whatever reason, chooses to move in and bring change, and other times, despite asking over and over, he doesn't. I want to show a video now to be an encouragement if you're finding yourself walking through some of the valley of the shadow of wrestling with that, and where you can find encouragement and hopefully hope in the midst of that.
I hesitated to show that video because I know it could paint the picture that that's what will happen and that's what God does, and I know that's not true. I know it is possible, and I know he does and he has and I've seen it in close friend's lives, but I know he often doesn't. He allows you to shout to the world, "Jesus is enough."
What's amazing is there's such an amazing, beautiful purity in following Jesus when you surrender that. Really, when you surrender anything and you surrender your life. It's a lot easier to hide when heterosexuality is a part of your struggle or pornography is eating you alive or you're sleeping with your boyfriend, but when you have to say, "I'm going to surrender publicly," you can't hide, and that's amazing. There are many of you inside of this room who strengthen this church and the church.
I have a son named Crew. He's 2-1/2 years old. He's the best thing ever next to his mom and sister. If there came a day where he came to me and said, "Dad, I'm attracted to guys…" He's 12 or 16. I don't know when. Thinking about this this week, I was going, I hope I would respond in a loving way that would point him to the truth of God's Word, because if I didn't, if I was like, "Throw this out the window, because now it's different," I would not be loving him.
At the same time, it would be something I would never wish on him, just like I don't think anyone in the room would wish it or wishes if that's a part of your story. If he chose to honor God in his singleness and said, "I'm going to choose to be celibate for the kingdom of heaven," I would be so proud of him.
I would be so much more proud than if he was the quarterback of the football team who was dating the cheerleader captain and had everything going on but he didn't know Jesus. I would be heartbroken for him at that stage, but if he was someone who said, "God, despite the fact that was I born this way? Was I not? I don't really know. For whatever reason, this is what is a part of my wiring, and I'm choosing to honor you, God, with even that," I would be so proud of him.
If you're inside of the room and you're choosing right now, "God, above my desires, above my sexuality, above anything else, I surrender it to you, and I'm going to choose to honor you. You're the God, you're the King of my heart, the King of my life, and I'll honor you with even that," I am so proud of you, and you have a heavenly Father, just like I would be with my son, who is so proud of you. Keep going. Don't lose heart.
The Scriptures say this life is like a vapor and it will end. Today, I know the burden and the weight of that is heavy. You are not alone, and the body of Christ and the Spirit of Christ are there and want to be there in increasingly better ways. You strengthen us. You make us better. May God multiply your kind and make us better ministers to every sexually oriented person out there of every different kind. Let me pray.
Father, I just want to pray first for men and women inside of this room who, for whatever reason, you have allowed to experience an orientation that may not align with God's Word, and I pray that you would strengthen their faith, you would multiply their kind of people who say, "God, above my sexuality, regardless if I'm homosexual or heterosexual, you're the King, and I surrender it to you. Help me."
I want to pray specifically for friends in the room who struggle with same-sex attraction, God, that you would fill them with hope and that you would be so big inside of their life that everything else would be moved to the side. Father, I want to pray for all of us who can be tempted every single day to make something or someone else sit on the throne of our hearts and of our lives, that you would win and you would take ground.
We all walked into this room sexually broken in one way or another, and we all walked into this room sinfully broken in many ways, and we need your help, God. Would you help us to bear one another's burdens, to walk alongside of one another, and to be an example to a watching world that Jesus is enough and he's King and he's good? We worship you now in song, amen.