‘God and the Gay Christian’ conversation: 2

Rough draft: April 2014

Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian book promises to “radically change the conversation about being gay in the church. It offers a thoughtful examination of Scripture on the topic of same-sex relationships.” Well, it has certainly prompted some, shall we say, “lively” discussion!

Since my first books for teens on sexuality came out in 1987 and 1991, I’ve been working on a “rough draft” dealing with homosexuality and the Christian faith. (My latest chapter on this is in The Why Files: When Can I Start Dating?, which came out in 2000.) It’s a very complicated issue. So, after 27 years of writing about the issue, this is still a rough draft in 2014. (This actual post is reaching nearly 20 revisions!)

Here are some thoughts on the issue:

I believe that God loves every human being unconditionally.

      For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:16-17).

God’s love for humankind is symbolized by the marriage relationship between a man and woman.

      So God created human beings in his own image.
      In the image of God he created them;
      male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27).

      “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one'” (Matthew 19:4-5).

      As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. ” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one (Ephesians 5:31-32).

Because our relationship with God is to be symbolized by faithful relationships between a husband and wife, he provides rules to keep that relationship holy.

I believe God’s rules for sexual behavior extend universally to every human being . . .

. . . whether they are gay, straight, married, single, divorced or widowed.

Much of the debate is based on what exactly constitutes “sexual immorality.” Gay advocates argue that the prohibitions against homosexual behavior are actually prohibitions against prostitution and do not apply to committed same-sex relationships.

The Greek word for immorality, porneia, can be translated as “illicit sexual intercourse,” but has also been translated “adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.,” “sexual intercourse with close relatives”, “sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman” and “metaphorically, the worship of idols.”

Here are just a few passages from Scripture in the New Living Translation:

      Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

      Because [humans rejected God, he] gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error (Romans 1:26-27).

      God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-6).

Some argue that Jesus never condemned homosexual unions, so why should we? It’s possible a) his teaching on the subject was simply not included in the gospels or b) more likely, he didn’t need to convince his listeners that God did not approve of homosexual behavior since his Jewish audience would be familiar with this Old Testament passage:

      If a man practices homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman, both men have committed a detestable act. They must both be put to death, for they are guilty of a capital offense (Leviticus 20:13).

I believe the good news of the gospel applies as much to homosexuals as it does to heterosexuals!

Sexual orientation is shaped by our role models, how we are treated—or mistreated—sexually in our formative years, and possibly even bio-chemical disruptions in our gestation. So, I believe that we will not be judged for our orientation but our behaviors. So, for many, making godly choices is going to be much more difficult. But, the apostle Paul writes:

      No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

In three short verses, Paul provides both a warning and a promise:

      Neither the sexually immoral . . . nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men . . . will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

The church in Corinth was filled with people who had acted immorally, but their behaviors had been changed through a relationship with Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit.

In all honestly, I believe some believers will forever struggle with what nature and nurture have unfortunately dealt them. (There are things from my childhood that continue to challenge me.) But I believe in the power of Christ to completely change our attitudes and actions—if not sexual orientations or genetic predispositions. I believe God looks at our obedience rather than our orientation.

Eugene Peterson, in his paraphrase of Colossians 3, writes about holy actions.

      So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.

      And that means killing off everything connected with that way of death: sexual promiscuity, impurity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like it, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. That’s a life shaped by things and feelings instead of by God.

      So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.

So while controversy rages over the causes of homosexual orientation and if there is a “cure” for it . . .

5. I believe God can give homosexuals and heterosexuals the power to live holy lives.

And since this is still a rough draft, I’d love your comments, but before you do that, please read the first post in this series. Thanks!

Copyright © 2014 James N. Watkins

Related post:
This is one of the most biblical and compassionate comments I’ve read on the issue of being a Christian with same-sex attraction.

      We’re born with a sin nature that bends us away from God (Romans 3:9–18), and we cannot please God without being reborn with a new nature (Romans 8:8; John 3:3). If we embrace our fallen condition and promote the effects of it (e.g., same-sex attraction), we’re idolizing ourselves. We’re saying that our sinfulness is more important than our obedience to God.

      Sam Allberry, a pastor who has long suffered the impact of the Curse in his own same-sex attraction, realizes that Christ is greater than our struggles. The difference between him and Beeching is in his willful surrender:

      “Yet this is not to say that it is not possible to be a Christian and experience homosexual feelings. We should expect a number of Christians to experience forms of same-sex attraction. We live in a fallen world. Creation has been subjected to frustration (Rom. 8:20), and so there is sickness and disorder. Christians succumb to the ravages of this fallen order as much as anyone. It is not unchristian to experience same-sex attraction any more than it is unchristian to get sick. What marks us out as Christian is not that we never experience such things, but how we respond to them when we do.”

      In other words, we’re all sinners, but we must not elevate our desire to sin above our submission to God.

      John UpChurch at CrossWalk.com

More related posts
A “civil” debate on same-sex unions
“Coming out” My sexual self-identity crisis
God hates godhatesfags.com
Speaking with truth . . . and grace
Why are some people so bent out of shape about homosexuality?

6 Responses

  • Deb Evans says:

    Well said.

  • John Knapp says:

    I appreciate the tone and direction of your posts. I especially like your #4 (above). The Bible is pretty clear on what God expects on this as well as many other behavioral issues that can, and should, upset us if we take our faith seriously. You allude to some of these in the post that precedes this one. I could add a lot more, but not now. Rest assured I face some common concerns in my producing 3 posts a week on adozenseconds.com, which is self-explanatory at what I’m up to if you take a look at it (which I’d like). We, by the way, have both been presenters at writing workshops at the Montrose Bible Conference. If you’d like, drop me an email. I wish you well.

  • Katie Robles says:

    Thank you for making a distinction between orientation and behavior and for approaching this subject with compassion, clarity, and courage.

    • Thanks. Yes, I believe the orientation/behavior distinction is so important.

    • Carol Bradfield says:

      Jim, I like how you are addressing this with compassion and reminding us to do so. I think at times we make homosexuality out to be awful while ignoring or diminishing other sexual sins like adultery and fornication which have become so commonplace in our society. I especially appreciate your reminder to look at the Bible using good exegesis and to see what the original writers were inspired to write and what they originally meant. It is easy to find verses to support what we think or want it to say, but that is not handling with word accurately (2 Timothy 2:15). And I agree with John Upchurch’s article above. If we are Christians, we are to submit to His authority. While the word “immorality” may be ambiguous in meaning without defining the Greek, the end of Romans 1 is pretty clear on the subject. Other verses that give clear instructions to us are “Let us love one another” (1 John 4:7) and to not be quarrelsome and gently correct so they can come to the truth (2 Timothy 2:24-26).

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