Question 4: Is Gay Marriage really bad?
Gay marriage is becoming more normal in our culture today. Jen Hatmaker, celebrated Christian author and speaker shared her views, and how they’ve changed, on same-sex marriage. When asked if she believed a same-sex union could be holy, Hatmaker said, “I do.” She went on to say, “And my views here are tender. This is a very nuanced conversation, and it’s hard to nail down in one sitting.”
Hatmaker’s continues by talking about the pain that many of those experiencing same-sex attraction feel when it comes to being gay and the relationship with the church. Jen says,
“I’ve seen too much pain and rejection at the intersection of the gay community and the church. Every believer that witnesses that much overwhelming sorrow should be tender enough to do some hard work here,” Hatmaker said.
That pain point drove her to shift her position on the LGBT community to the point of acceptance. I will put it strongly here: She has chosen to focus on relationships over biblical truth. It’s important for me as a pastor, for other Christians and the church in general to be aware of the pain that someone who is gay and who feels rejected by their church community and their faith. To find compassion and empathy with those struggling with same-sex attraction. Jen’s position reflects a broader shift in culture on the issue of gay marriage. Over the last decade, prominent voices have departed from traditional biblical views on same-sex marriage (Tony Campolo, Rob Bell, etc.)—as well as a steady increase among Christians who’ve shifted their support in favor.
According to a Pew Research, the acceptance of same-sex marriage has been on the rise since 2001, both in the general public and within the church. Check out these statistics:
*Roughly 6 in 10 Catholics (58 percent) now support same-sex marriage, as do nearly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (64 percent).
*Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants remains lower than it is among other religious groups.
*Both groups, however, have become somewhat more accepting of same-sex marriage over the last decade
*In fact, we’ve seen a 13 percent increase in same-sex marriage approvalwithin the evangelical community since 2005.
If we can learn something from the Hatmaker, it’s that the discussion surrounding same-sex unions is not going away anytime soon, and the increasing acceptance—both in the general society and within the church—means we can’t afford to ignore the issue.
Will the church continue to hurdle over biblical truth toward cultural acceptance, in one giant leap, or will it find ways to embrace the homosexual community with truth and grace?
A story of Jesus in Mark can help bring clarity. Some religious leaders came to Jesus to ask Him about divorce. As mentioned earlier, Jesus was shaking things up for the religious community and for the greater culture at hand. The instution of marriage was coming “under attack” in Jesus day with a high demand in the spiritual community for divorce. The Pharisees were asking him some questions about divorce, when Jesus takes them back to the beginning to God’s original plan. Jesus is making a point that this plan hasn’t changed since the beginning, it hasn’t changed during the 1stCentury AD and would continue on through the centuries. Jesus responded to the Pharisees questions about marriage by saying,
“19 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. 2 Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
3 Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 19:1-6
When the Pharisees ask about divorce, Jesus points back to the Genesis account. Jesus believed that what Moses wrote, captured God’s plan for sex and marriage which is why Jesus said, “haven’t you read?” (verse 4). Jesus also quotes genesis 1 and 2:24 reminding those around Him that heterosexual marriage is permanent institution for one flesh for one lifetime. Men and woman are both made in God’s image and have infinite dignity. God blesses them to procreate and fill the earth as one flesh in marriage.
Jesus responds in an insightful way that he who created them from the beginning the two shall become one flesh. There are many ways couples can fit together. One might be extrovert, the other an introvert. Some are loud and some are more quiet. Some are good at budgets and some love to spend. They compliment each other. They “fit” together. Marriage is predicated on gender plain and simple.
On a theological level, both sexes reflect God's image. And on a biological level, both are necessary for reproduction and sustaining life. The Bible teaches, and nature demonstrates, that humans are "sexually dimorphic." What does that mean? It means that there are clear differences between male and female. Simply put, God has given us from the beginning a positive, healthy and life-affirming vision for the two sexes. Our bodies reveal the truth about the meaning of life and through our bodies make visible the love of God.
In the act of lovemaking the two become one. It’s a picture of diversity and unity. Just like the Trinity, the man and the woman are different but equal. Separate but the same person. A trinitarian expression of one flesh between man, woman and God. The only Godly alternative to a Biblical marriage is singleness. Jesus isn’t neurtral on this. The Bible only refers to marriage between a man and a woman. So much so if you don’t get married the option is celibacy.
Some would say that “gay orientation” wasn’t talked about in the Bible. Sexual orentaiton doesn’t change God’s design of marriage. In my reading of Matthew 19, there is an affirmation that God designed marriage for male and female and goes out of his way to show this. Marriage is only ever talked about as heterosexual.
Jesus acknowledges that this is a hard word for some to hear. Read below what Jesus says regarding this,
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Matthew 19:8-12
Jesus is talking in the same context as earlier about marriage and divorce. He then goes broader to say that while marriage is between a man and a woman. If you have to break this covenant, it is difficult. To the point where Jesus calls it like He sees it by saying, “Not everyone can accept this word” (vs. 11). Because the fact is that marriage isn’t for everybody. Need I remind you that Jesus was a heterosexual male that chose a celibate life for 33 years as mentioned earlier. To be celibate is to be like Jesus! So to all my single friends…you are a lot more like Jesus than you think.
He then references eunichs (castrated men who work in the royal courts) and makes the claim that there are those who “live like eunichs” or in other words, live like men who will not partake of sex, for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. But Jesus also makes the stunning remark that there were even those who were “born that way (verse12). Incidently, this is the first time we can see some men are born sexually dysfunctional. While one could make an argument that being born “without equipment” is the equivalent to be “born gay” is a stretch in my opinion. But even if one does make that leap of logic, jesus answer to that is still…to be single. Jesus could have spoke to us and spoke into the future and said, if you are born that way, then find love and be happy with someone like you. Being God and knowing how culturally confused people would bein the 21stcentury in this matter and seeing how much of a debate this would bring the church. Yet he was clear that marriage is a man and woman. Done. The other beautiful way to live your life would be to be celibate and single. Be celibate for the sake of the Kingdom and NOT find a husband and tie the knot.
For the celibate human, it’s not just about resisting same sex attraction. It’s about embracing the emotional needs that those who are celibate …whether you are experiencing same sex-attraction or not. To be celibate and single, if so then that is what God is calling you to. Surely that’s a challenge. If the churches message is just resist the tempations and be celibate, who will support the single man or woman? This is the kind of stuff that we have to talk about as the church.
All of creation is broken, marred and crying out for redemption (Romans 8:22). All of creation is needing to be realigned back to God’s original best. ALL of us our out of sync in all areas of life. All of us are attracted to things we shouldn’t be: porn, alcohol, shallow beauty, drugs, etc. You could say we are all broken, bent and skewed. None of us are straight. Same sex attraction is one expression of many areas of brokenness in our lives as we are born into this world. But Christ came to make us right with the world again. Showing us that while aligning ourselves to our feelings isn’t good, but aligning ourselves to our purpose is best.
QUESTION 5: SURELY A GAY RELATIONSHIP IS OK IF IT’S FAITHFUL
Essentially, the argument is not about who you are in a relationship with, because its not about gender but about faithfulness. I’ve heard some of people in the gay community use this as an opportunity for permission to be in a gay relationship. The thought is that if two people love each other, are committed and choose to be devoted to each other, that is enough to qualify you for a gay relationship that is approved in the eyes of God. After all, being faithful and committed to your wife or husband is a virtue in the heterosexual world that is praiseworthy and deserving of praise. The same should hold true for the homosexual relationship as well.
The argument is that good virtues in a good relationships give it validity. But good virtues in a bad relationship doesn’t make it right. I’ve met couples where the boyfriend is committed to his wife but yet is abusing her physically. Good virtue of commitment. Bad relationship with abuse.
There is an example of a relationship that was Biblically forbidden in 1 Corinthians 5. It was a case of incest: a son was sleeping with his mother (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). Paul declares this sexual relationship forbidden. So much so that he even says those outside of faith consider this intolerable. Paul doesn’t pose the question, “Are they faithful to each other? Because if they are, that’s justification for a forbidden relationship to be justifiable in our community.” Of course not. The Bible doesn’t make faithfulness to the other person, as a stamp of approval. I love the commitment Neil Patrick Harris has to his husband and family. But no matter how many virtues they, and many other gay relationships exhibit in their relationship, it doesn’t make the relationship Biblically justified.
QUESTION 6: This relationship I have is the best thing that’s happened to me and now I’m asked to give it up?
Many people struggling with same-sex attraction have been feeling what they have been feeling at early ages. It’s all they’ve known. How it’s origin started, the possible conditions that forged these longings, the feelings of being alone and thinking they may never marry or have the life they were expected to have as a heterosexual, becomes something very hard to live with. So when the person confesses their same sex attraction, it becomes freeing for the person who is struggling. They are finally “themselves.” And they become part of the gay community. This community is accepting, loving and caring for them. Perhaps they eventually find a partner that they begin to love on a deeper level. This person grows to be a valuable and lifegiving relationship for them.
Most people want, even need, a relationship that they can love like their own soul. For some gay people, they lacked healthy affection from an appropriate same sex relationship. That lack of affection, combined with their brokenness from their sinful nature, creates a fractured longing that wasn’t met by a father, mother, sibling, friend, etc. Now that desire is still there but is being fulfilled by someone who is meeting that need emotionally, intellectually, physically and sexually. Basically, for the gay individual, they desired a healthy relationship with the same sex but it has become bent over time because of circumstances, our sinful condition, etc. But they will never be fully content because the desire is being met from the wrong source. When the source is Jesus, the relationship takes on a healthy meaning and a fulfilling purpose.
Look at David and Johnathan. Many in the gay community try to typecast this as a gay love affair. Of course many try to imply that but of course that isn’t present. But there is something in that story that compels the broken man, for example, that he can have affection from another man that doesn’t involve sex and marriage with another man. Look at their exchange,
“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” 1 Samuel 18:3
The Bible makes it clear that Jonathan loved David “as himself” (1 Sam. 18:3). Jonathan’s love was selfless and heroic. Even though he was in line to be the next king of Israel, he recognized David would step into that role—and Jonathan not only celebrated his friend as the rightful king but also protected him from his father’s spear-throwing episodes. Jonathan’s love was not lust but a love bound in sacrifice. He laid down his rights so his friend could be promoted. He opposed his father’s self-willed ambition and instead affirmed that David should be the true king. Jonathan showed us all how to be a true friend. David’s comment that his friend’s love was “more wonderful than the love of women” was not sexual; he was praising Jonathan’s loyalty and brotherly devotion to him while in one of the most difficult times in his life.
To be honest I find a homosexual interpretation of this text to be offensive. There is no sexual expression used in this text. And too assume that two men cannot deeply and affectionately love each other without it being a homosexual relationship is a sign of how over-sexed and over-politicized our culture has become
One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in 1 Peter 2:17,
“Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
This is the only time in the Bible you will find the phrase, “love the brotherhood.” There is something in the heart of God that He puts in this Scripture that compels you to build healthy relationships with those of the same sex. I realize the term is “brotherhood” but put the word, “sisterhood” in there and it holds the same conviction. But I do want to speak to men in this paragraph specifically. God wired men to need close friends, but few of us are willing to build those kinds of relationships because of insecurity, inferiority or pride. Many guys are lonely, isolated and afraid to admit they need help. Some may even struggle with sexual confusion, yet they could find healing through a combination of the Holy Spirit’s power and healthy male bonding. The church today should do everything possible to encourage male friendships.
You can’t hijack the contextual meaning of what was really happening in the Scriptures here in the greater context to promote an agenda or an ideology. It is flat-out wrong to suggest that anything sexual was going on between David and Jonathan. Yet many leaders in the gay-affirming communities tend to “twist” this Scripture in order to promote their personal convictions.
I lay out these Scriptures to say, when a gay person is confronted with the truth that their relationship and lifestyle might be completely wrong, there is a hard reality that they might be asked to walk away…and that is a massive cost to those who have found belonging and acceptance by a community that affirms their inner feelings and desires so strongly. Yet when it comes to walking away from relationships that matter for the sake of Christ, Jesus says,
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. Matthew 19:29
Jesus assumes the greatest cost is relational. And may you will lose relationships that are very valuable to you when you follow Christ. But you will receive back far more than leave in this life. Jesus said the hardest thing to walk away from is relationships. That’s why the reward is 100 times more in return from Jesus because that reflects the cost of what you have to give up relationally to follow Christ.
If you leave a loved one, Jesus promises you will have more family and not less. And for that promise to be true, we have to be doing church in the right kind of way. Getting this issue right is a team effort. Church is a team effort. Our Christian communities must be places that whatever people have to leave behind, they find a net increase in family and intimacy in the local church.
The Gosple puts us on a level playing field. We are all in need of grace. We are all broken people in need of being healed and whole. Paul describes himself as the “chief sinner” (1 Timothy 1:15). And if that’s the case, we should view all sins and brokenness in the context of our own sinful condition. When you’ve truly seen the sin in your own heart, you don’t find other’s sins “disgusting” or “repulsive” due to the gravity of your own.
QUESTION 7: Can you be gay and be a Christian?
The short version: yes…but not for long.
Let me explain.
You are made of three parts: body, soul and spirit.
According to the Bible, mankind is distinct from all the rest of creation, including the animals, in that he is made in the image of God. As God is a tripartite -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit -- so are also made in three parts -- body, soul and spirit. We know this from the Bible from the book of Thessalonians,
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spiritand soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NASB).
The body of course is our physical body that we receive at birth that becomes God’s body at our salvation experience,
Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Our soul is the Greek word, "psyche", which consists of the mind, the conscience, our will to make choices and our emotions. Genesis 2:7 says that Man was created as a "living soul." Some of the Scriptures can also refer to this as the heart.
Our spirit is our “pneuma” or in other word, it’s God’s “breath” into us that gives us life. God says this about the spirit is critical. The Scriptures defines pneuma as this,
And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. Ecclesiastes 12:7
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. James 2:26
We live in a congruent union with all three of these parts of our humanity working together. When you experience salvation, your Spirit becomes instantly transformed. Before salvation, your spirit is not redeemed but looking to make connection. That’s why many are drawn to spiritual things, there is a curiosity in what happens after you die, etc. After salvation, it becomes your connection to God. This transformation is instant and nothing can separate you from this connection to God.
Your soul becomes slowly transformed over time. Your choices begin to change. Your thinking begins to change as you learn who Jesus is what He wants for your life. That’s why Romans 12:1-2 speaks about not being conformed but transformed. That word transformed is the word we use for the metamorphosis from cocoon to butterfly. It’s a growing transformation that isn’t instant but progressive. You slowly understand the mind and heart of God as you read His word and experience His truth on a regular basis.
Your body is under the effects of the fall of humanity with Adam. For most of us our bodies will grow up to be healthy and strong. Eventually these bodies will experience slow decay and eventually death. Even at your salvation experience, your body may experience a miracle of healing in your lifetime but your body won’t be healed and whole till you get to heaven.
When you experience salvation, Your spirit becomes transformed instantly to be connected to God. Your previously unredeemed spirit becomes new and you can commune with God regularly. Your body is redeemed, it doesn’t instantly transform into a new body but you will receive a new body when you enter heaven. At salvation, your soul (mind, will, choices, emotions, etc) begins to make new decisions and you begin thinking differently. It goes against “what you’ve always known” but you now have choices to make on a daily basis to choose God’s will or your own. Each choice transforms your soul until you get to heaven.
Now put this in context to the person experiencing same-sex attraction. At salvation, their spirit transformation occurs and they have their new connection with God. They are praying, hearing God’s voice, loving worship, reading the Bible, etc. Their body is redeemed. They may receive a miracle of healing throughout their life, but their body will be physically whole when they get to heaven. At salvation, the gay person’s soul doesn’t become conformed but transformed by their mind being renewed on a daily basis. They begin to see their attitude of unforgiveness towards their co-worker begin to be highlighted and they start making moves towards reconciliation. They may also begin to see their desire to get drunk regularly become something that isn’t healthy or right in the eyes of God and they will start drinking less. They may stop using substances and begin to go to church regularly instead of sporadically. The more this gay individual attends worship services and hears the Scriptures, the next conviction begins to surface which involves his sexual identity and relationship choices. That conviction begins to grow and slowly they start asking questions. They start praying for God to “take the feelings away” and they start re-evaluating their gay lifestyle.
This was a hypothetical scenario.
But it is real to many gay Christians.
It is real also to straight Christians.
When I became a Christian, I still drank, smoked and had the wrong mindset towards dating girls due to cultures “rules and regulations” that I followed. But once I became a follower of Jesus, I stopped getting drunk. And then I slowly stopped drinking. I quit smoking six months after finding Christ. I got rid of the bad movies and music that was making me feel depressed, bad and simply not good a year after I was a Christian. I slowly stopped saying “that’s f**king nuts” and started saying “that’s freaking nuts” (sorry for the jarring explanation but I can do another blog about “Christian swearing at my convenience).
You get my point.
My transformation into the likeness of Christ takes time.
So it will for the gay Christian.
A lot of heterosexual Christians think Christianity is the worst sin so God must want to work on that sin first. God is a God of order. He knows the right process and the right order of healing and restoring someone. God could and my start highlighting that conviction right away or their may be “more important business to attend to” before God starts convicting the area of same-sex attraction. They gay lifestyle is just that…a “lifestyle.” If you are gay, your sexual choices affects who you love, who your friends are, what you talk about, what you celebrate, what you live for, how you think, how you act, how you talk, how you see the world, how you interact with others, etc. A lifestyle isn’t just a “feeling” or a “choice” but it’s essentially “a life.” To those I have encountered that have come out of the gay lifestyle, it takes a tremendous amount of patience and time. And then it takes a tremendous about of grace to place those feelings and desire under the cross regularly.
It’s important to understand this “trinitarian design” because i helps us to understand our sexuality as well. You can interpret Scripture through the lense of sexuality or you can interpret sexuality through the lens of Scripture. The Word of God is living and active it says in Hebrews,
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NIV
The Bible is making a distinction here between the soul and the spirit. It’s saying that your spirit will make distinctions about what is right and wrong because of your connection with God that you have as a Christian. But your feelings, your attitudes, your thoughts and cultural ideas will confuse you at times. Your feelings can lead you astray. I have cried watching movies before but that story wasn’t true, it was a fictitious story brought to life! And it convinced my soul to evoke an emotion that was very real about a narrative that wasn’t true.
My point, our thoughts can be deceptive. Our emotions can lead us astray. Our feelings can convince us something is real that isn’t. That’s why God uses the words “it judges” what you are experiencing in your soul. Judges gives you a verdict of truth an innocence after looking at the facts. Judges can also prove guilt and false narratives. As Christians, we use the Scriptures to affirm what God is speaking to our soul and spirit to show us the way of a Godly life.
There is not a single positive reference to homosexual relationships in the Bible. I’m sorry there just isn’t. Every single reference is negative in the strongest possible terms. It’s plain. Now, some would say that the Bible is misused to sanction slavery, segregation, oppression of women. Some would say to sanction ant-homosexual prejudice.
Listen, if you are quoting bible to have bad behavior-that’s wrong. We know that, But yes, in regards to slave trade, William Wilberforce used Scriptures to end slave trade. Slavery in Scripture was a different order back in the history. The laws and customs were different. They were indentured servants. More importantly, the Bible is a book of liberation. The Bible is about setting slaves free! It doesn’t speak in praise of slavery. Like indentured servant paying off debt. It was Christian leaders coming out churches leading the anti-segregation movement. There is not a single verse in the Bible that says one race is superior than others. In regards to women, they were praised and raised up. They were praised by Jesus and liberated by Jesus. Woman playing esteemed roles in the Scriptures. So, to use the Bible to oppress women is a misuse of the Bible. The Bible is a book of liberation.
Jesus could have looked into the 21stcentury. He knew that humanity would need to address this issue. He looked directly into future Christianity. He could have been clear as he was with EVERYTHING else in the Bible. He was clear on Marriage, loving others, generosity, sexual behavior, different , etc. If homosexuality was as “cut and dry” as those in culture are trying to make it, Jesus would have made it clear. He would have looked into 2018 and said, “let’s not make them guess, homosexuality is permitted.”
But Jesus didn’t say that.
He was perfectly clear.
Homosexuality is wrong in the Old Testament.
Homosexuality was wrong in the New Testament.
Homosexuality was wrong by Jesus.
Even writing this, hurts my heart for my gay friends, my gay students and others whom I love. That doesn’t change the fact that I love them! Never will! They will always be ACCEPTED by me and my family. I am here as a pastor, my congregation is here as a church and I am here as a friend and as someone who loves the gay relationships in my life and will be there for them no matter what.
David Kinneman wrote in his book, Unchristian, this quote about the church and homosexuality,
“Outsiders say[church’s] hostility toward gays—not just opposition to homosexual politics and behaviors but disdain for gay individuals—has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.”
Christians need to be less hostile and more graceful. I think of the woman caught in the act of adultery. It was the crowd vs the woman. The religious community was sitting in judgment against the woman. Jesus response to crowd is you are so focused on the sin when you have your own sins to deal with. Like divorce, while it’s a sin people are in pain, the church talks about how bad divorce is. Like porn, while it’s a sin and you are in pain the church talks about how bad porn is. Then Jesus says to the woman,” I don’t condemn you. Go and sin no more” (John 8:10). We need to shift our position of telling those who are in sin and dealing with pain, how bad they are, and start to reveal to them how good they can be with the grace and love of Jesus. This is the ultimate grace. Grace is the answer. We have to show grace to our gay friends and family members. May gay people are in pain. If people are in pain the church is there to bring healing and
QUESTION 8: Do homosexuals go to hell?