If you’re like me, you know homosexuality and Christianity are being mixed . . . somewhere. But, it’s time for a wakeup call. And this wakeup call might come in the form of an article that appeared in the Tennessean on October 19, 2011. We need to wake up to the issue of homosexuality and our need as FWB leaders to address it, or be prepared to address it. The article is about Holy Trinity Community Church, a community in Nashville, TN. Holy Trinity claims to have a more “conservative” doctrine than other members of the UCC. “Holy Trinity teaches members to believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth and the Resurrection” (The Tennessean). At 600 members, they are the largest gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual religious organization in the southeast.
You saw their location. Nashville, TN. Charlotte Avenue. My old stomping grounds from when I studied at FWBBC. What you didn’t know is their building is the former home of a Free Will Baptist Church.
You might also be surprised to know I can think of 4 people I had classes with even at my alma mater who are now out of the closet.
The issue of homosexuality has arrived in our circles.
We must be prepared to address this issue in our churches. And by address, I do not mean scream from the pulpit that it’s a sin and that these people are going to hell. Yes, we must preach truth, even if people don’t like it. But phrases like, “Whatever happened to a country that stood for what’s right!?” or “I still believe the Bible teaches homosexuality is WRONG!!” aren’t going to get through.
Now, relax for a moment. Don’t let your blood pressure go up. It is not my primary intention in this post to state my position on the sin of homosexual behavior or whether or not someone can be a practicing homosexual and still be a Christian. (No, you can’t live in any blatant sin, refusing to repent, and call yourself right with God, and that certainly includes homosexuality.) I am assuming the large majority of regular readers here at FWB21 agree on the Bible’s position on this. But it is part of my intention that simply loudly stating that homosexual behavior is a sin doesn’t accomplish much.
I’m not in much of a position to influence the way my church handles this issue, and you may not be either, but we need to be prepared now for when we might be. You need to be ready to talk to your youth group about this. I need to be ready to talk to a small group about this. And those of you who are pastors now need to be ready to engage this issue in a thoughtful, biblical, gracious way (if you haven’t already).
Here are a few suggestions for us all:
- We need careful, thoughtful, faithful, biblical support that homosexual behavior is sin. The support is there. We just need to be able to articulate it well and accurately.
- We need a gracious spirit while we discuss these things. This is a volatile issue that is difficult for many (especially younger people) to comprehend. It is not popular to say homosexual behavior is sin. We are the minority, and the way we present this could be a barrier for some hearing the truth of sin and the gospel.
- We need to get over being uncomfortable around people who are different. Does homosexual behavior have a “that’s just not right” impact on me? Yes, it does. I had never seen a lesbian couple in person until maybe 2 months ago, and I was shocked. “This isn’t New York,” I thought. Well, it’s time for me (and maybe some of you) to understand that New York is now in the Bible belt. The sooner we get over being uncomfortable with this, the sooner we can actually address the issue biblically, and the sooner we can actually counsel with people who are struggling with it, or try to share the gospel with others who do not claim to be Christians.
- We need to remind ourselves and others that we, too, are sinners, saved by grace. I am not justified because of my sexual orientation. I am justified by God’s grace, through faith. God loved me even when I was still a sinner. And that grace leads me to a fuller life found in Him, empowered by Him to live holy and pleasing to Him. Being a disciple of Jesus does require me to obey Him, but Jesus did not wait until I had my life figured out before He died for me. For this, I am grateful.
- We need to be able to answer the “I was born this way” issue. Although I don’t see how you can prove that anyone is born with homosexual tendencies, if we understand sin, the “born this way” argument still doesn’t justify the behavior. Why? Because we are all born into sin. So we can expect born sinners to do just that–sin (Psalm 51:5). Saying homosexuality is OK because people are born that way is akin to saying any sin is OK. This is an important answer, and as far as I can tell, one of the main arguments used in support of homosexual behavior.