Justin Lee (author of Torn) and James White had a “debate” last Spring about the question, “Can you be a Christian homosexual?” James White says no, and Justin Lee says yes. In a candid moment, Lee says that his position on the morality of the question has changed and that he is now more open to consider entering a relationship with a person of the same sex (at about 1:37). AlphaOmega Ministries has made the audio available for free, and you can download it here or listen to it below.[audio:http://aomin.org/podcasts/GayChristianityDebated.mp3]
J O E B L A C K M O N
Q-Can you be a Christian homosexual?
A-No, and all Christians recognize that to be true.
Would you say it’s the case that no Christian is proud of having someone in his congregation who’s in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife? Paul didn’t.
James White commented more on that “debate” in a Dividing Line after it: http://confessingbaptist.com/debate-homosexuality-can-you-be-gay-and-christian-james-white-justin-lee-audio/
So… morality defines our ststus before God. Not what the gospels and the rest of the New Testament teach. Sounds more like Pharisees’ Theology.
Kathryn Elliott Stegall
Sorry to hear Justin Lee wavering.
I wouldn’t be proud of it either. Though Paul in Corinthians establishes the procedure/order of church discipline to help our struggling brothers/sisters and what to do if they are willingly unrepentant.
Vegas has nothing on what Corinth was like. Even the pagans were disgusted with some things that went on.
Thank you for making my point. Corinth = worse than Vegas. And yet Paul doesn’t treat the Corinthian church as a bunch of non-believers, which is what Joe seems to want to with folks who are mistaken about the sinfulness of homosexual acts.
That is: “…seems to want to do with folks…”
I would say that one can be a Christian and have same-sex attraction…if that is the definition of “homosexual”, then yes. If “homosexual” means to have this attraction, AND acting upon this attraction with sexual activity with the same sex, you can STILL be a Christian–just like any other sinner saved by grace.
However, the major distinction is this: if you believe that acting upon homosexual urges–even in the context of a monogamous same-sex “marriage”–is not sinful, then no, you cannot be a Christian. Christians will not be sinless; but they need to recognize sin as sin, Not recognizing sin as sin, and ignoring the Biblical understanding of what is sin and what is not sin, puts you outside the pale, defining God’s authority and setting yourself up as your own authority.
I would go further, and say anyone who rejects the Bible’s condemnation of any sin is not a Christian…even if you don’t indulge in that sin itself. One who rejects the Bible’s condemnation of fornication, adultery, tale barring, bearing false witness, hatred, etc–is rejecting Christ’s Lordship and therefore is not a Christian.
You make great points & I agree almost entirely with everything you say Daniel. The only place I differ is on this idea that heterosexual Christians who believe otherwise will go to Hell. If a heterosexual, saved Christian happens to believe that homosexuality is not a sin, its not obvious to me based on what the Bible says that God will send them to Hell.
As I recollect the only sin “of the mind” is lust–all other sins require some overt act. So if they don’t engage in homosexual behavior where’s the sin? The rule you suggest would imply that anyone who doesn’t agree with our doctrine is going to Hell b/cs they oppose Christ’s lordship.Pentecostals might say–and I’ve heard Pentecostal theologians say this–that anyone who doesn’t speak in tongues is going to Hell. Other Christians might say no one who believes the Earth is more than 6,000 years old is going to Hell.
I think abt the closest Biblical basis we have for such belief is if that person goes out & tells homosexuals that homosexuality is ok. At that point you can make the argument a la Luke 17:2 that they’re false prophets or bearing false witness, etc.
It’s those that struggle who show signs of life.
Thanks for posting this Denny! I hope many people listen carefully to the whole “debate”/ dialogue.
Except that obviously not “all Christians” believe this one iota. And it isn’t up for Some Christians (i.e., Evangelical Christians) to put others to that “real Christian” litmus test. To do so is an act of transcendent hubris.
Amen to that.
Lauren, is it possible that there is a definition of Christianity that can be universally accepted, and it NOT be considered ‘transcendent hubris’? If so, what standard would that be?
Daniel – I won’t speak for Lauren, however, my take on this is that it becomes ‘transcendent hubris’ whenever we become dogmatic about non-essentials of the faith. Of course, what is and is not essential to being a Christian has been discussed for thousands of years and certainly won’t be decided right here. Obviously, many folks commenting here would put ‘proper views on homosexuality’ in the essentials bucket. I would not put this in the essentials bucket. In my opinion, the Apostles Creed is a statement / definition of Christianity that focuses nicely on the essentials of the faith.
Micah Terry, remember from the Apostles Creed:
“I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.”
If one denies Jesus Christ’s Lordship, then I don’t think it’s a sign of hubris–let alone “transcendent hubris” (not sure what exactly that means and how it is different from regular, run-of-the-mill hubris)–to state that that individual is not a Christian.
Now, here’s the kicker: did Jesus forbid His followers from homosexual acts or not? A “red letter” Christian might point out that He didn’t specifically do so during His three year ministry, but historically, the church has held that the Bible has preserved the Triune’s God’s commands accurately (whether or not Jesus specifically addressed it in the Gospels). But there are approaches that some take that would negate this:
(1) The Bible, in fact, does NOT forbid homosexual acts categorically, but only in specific circumstances (a re-interpretation of Paul’s words in Romans, for example);
(2) The Bible in fact DOES forbid homosexual acts, but the Triune God does not…in other words, the Bible is NOT “God-breathed” in the sense of being accurate in (at least some) matters of Christian practice (and maybe in doctrine, too.)
Now, the first approach is nothing new, in the sense that many people throughout the ages have offered interpretations of the Bible outside of the mainstream, some of which may be deemed heretical by many, others just misguided. I would say the re-interpretation of Paul is based on faulty exegesis; certainly not a sin in and of itself, unless it’s merely a fig leaf for justifying what you want to justify.
The second approach has become common over the last few centuries, but one of the difficulties here is that there becomes very little, outside of one’s own subjective judgment, for saying what Jesus or the Apostles REALLY taught or what God REALLY wants. We might think the Bible is “unfair” in certain things or “not holy” in others; but compared to what? Our own “God-breathed” standard? (If that is not hubris, I am not sure what is.)
So, is someone’s rejection of Biblical commands against homosexual acts denying Christ’s Lordship, or not? I don’t think that anyone would say “I reject Christ’s Lordship” explicitly if they are claiming to be a Christian; but remember Christ’s words regarding His Lordship:
“21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many [n]miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’–Matt 7:21-23
Now, one might point out this is in the same chapter as Matthew 7:1-5; to which I would reply that Matthew 7:1-5 is in the same chapter as Matthew 7:21-23. The passages are not dueling alternative views of Christ, but both flow from His lips. The standard of absolute Holiness is God’s only standard; and the only remedy for falling short of that standard is the grace of Jesus Christ.
Any way, I’m rambling.
Just an honest question cause I’m genuinely curious: How is different interpretations by Christians of the homosexuality issue different from different interpretations of other “You can’t be Christian and ____” things like “have tattoos, believe in evolution, believe in old-age earth, dance, go to movies, let women talk in church, not tithe 10%, let women not wear headcoverings, be a complementarian…” etc etc. I’ve been to churches or know people who’ve been to churches who’ve taught some of those. They would each say that these are all “clearly taught by the Bible” and “clear Biblical principles of being a true Christian”, or conversely, “these are clearly non-essentials” or “this is clearly not relevant still today” etc. and all over, there are churches who do and don’t hold to these various things and we seem to live and let live with most of these kinds of issues (well, some churches maybe more than others), but how is reinterpreting what the Bible says about head-coverings or the age of the earth or women talking in church different from reinterpreting what the Bible says about homosexuality?
Hannah, a fair question.
Let me put it this way: in so far as exegesis, each of these issues need to be discussed based on their own merits. I would even add such things that most would consider “essentials” needing to be addressed on their merits as well–the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Incarnation–they, too should be subject to the same exegetical rules.
The problem lies in trying to extrapolate a general principal–such as “the Bible is unclear about the ‘proper’ subject for baptism (pedo vs, believers), therefore x is likewise unclear.” Just because the Bible (in some people’s view) is unclear about ‘x’, it does not follow that some other ‘y’ is likewise ‘covered’ by some kind of general principal of the Bible being unclear. Fuzziness in one area does not mean fuzziness in all areas.
But not all of these issues are of equal consequence. Let’s use a different idea: what if someone postulated that the Bible really is ok with the idea of polygamy. This would obviously have a potentially enormous impact on the praxis of the church. But a particular position on the age of the earth? Well, it may be important, but in the end, the praxis of the Church is largely unaffected.
But praxis is not the only thing affect–so is the credo. Some might argue the whole Arian controversy was merely the difference of an iota, and besides, Arians and Trinitarians could use the same Bible and even have the same liturgy. But the very heart of the gospel was affected.
Does homosexual acts being not considered sinful affect the credo of the faith? Not directly, although depending how one justifies this position, it could have enormous implications (such as “Paul was a homophobe and should not be listened to” obviously is much different than “Paul has been misunderstood for 2,000 years”). Of course, there is the whole question of Ephesians 5 and if a same-sex union offers the same imagery of Christ and the Church. If it does, then it certainly has an effect on our ecclesiology. It also affects our anthropology and our understanding of human sexuality, and what ‘one flesh’ means.
However, not considering homosexual acts as sinful–or recognizing same-sex unions as blessed by God–most certainly affects the praxis of the church in a very material way.
I need to sign off now, more later…
I agree that such dogmatism does undermine the authority of scripture, but there is a qualitative difference between head covering, age of the earth, women speaking in church (none of them sexual)and homosexuality.
Scripture is the authority on sin. Not you, not me. And Scripture is clear. Romans 1. 1 Corinthians 6:9. 1 Timothy 1:10. Leviticus 18. Leviticus 20. Genesis 19. Judges 19. Take your pick. You may claim to know Christ apart from His Word; I challenge your claim. Everything you could possibly know of Christ is rooted in His Word, and it is authoritative.
Lauren. you are correct that it’s not up to us to put each other to the test. That being said, we are to hold our brothers and sisters accountable. To say a line is crooked, one must first know what a straight line is. If truths on matters are revealed to us in Scripture, and scripture is not reshaped/decontexted to fit secular movement/opinion/feelings, then we know the difference between a crooked line and a straight line. And that’s what we hold our brothers/sisters accountable with to encourage them.
Truth, by definition, excludes.
There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t agree with what/who the scriptures declare God to be. (example-celebrities galore making statments like, “I won’t believe in a God who allows suffering”, or starts statements off like “I believe God is….”). Scripture clearly states “God is…”. Once we allow our fallen human feeling/emotions/pop-culture opinions (rather than sola scriptura) to form who God is, making statements of “I believe God is…”, you’ve done nothing but create a god of your own mind (idolatry) and not the God of the Bible.
You raise a good question though.
Did he treat them like non-believers? Well, the church there had so many issues, Paul had to make more than 1 trip to Corinth to help set them straight. He gave the orders for church discipline, due to people being unrepentant with issues and how to properly (in a loving way), tell them they need to change their behavior by going thru numerous people in the church or ultimately show them the door.
Won’t we know who’s a follower of Christ by their fruits? Scripture indicates, it’s wrong. Will I try to help my brother, of course I will. But at some point, you also must look at Matthew 7 and while we need to make sure and pull the plank out before we help our brother with his speck, Christ also said stop giving what is precious to dogs and stop throwing pearls to swine for they will trample on those gifts and turn on you.
To be sure, the church in Corinth had problems. And Paul wasn’t shy to address them. But as I read those two letters I really don’t get the sense that he deemed them outside the body of Christ.
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–not at all meaning the people of the world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you.”(1 Cor 5:9-13). “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1Cor 6:9-10).
I get the feeling you’ve quoted these verses to contradict what I just wrote, but I don’t see how they do. My point isn’t that those who “claim to be a brother but are sexually immoral” are in fact believers, but that those who approved of such persons are. That is to say the “rest” of the Corinthian church, i.e. the group of folks Paul instructed to disassociate from the guy who was sleeping with his father’s wife. Their incorrect view concerning the sinfulness of this guy’s behavior didn’t render them “not Christians”.
It did, however, render them wrong and in need of repentance.
Absolutely. But I refer you back to what Joe Blackmon wrote, with the relevant portion bolded:
Q-Can you be a Christian homosexual?
A-No, and all Christians recognize that to be true.
In other words, if you don’t recognize that to be true then you’re not a Christian, since all Christians recognize that to be true.
That’s why I asked, “Would you say it’s the case that no Christian is proud of having someone in his congregation who’s in a sexual relationship with his father’s wife?”
If the answer is “yes” then that means the Corinthian “church” was actually a big group of non-believers, given they were corporately proud of this fellow who was sleeping with his father’s wife.
But the rest of 1 Corinthians seems to clearly portray them as believers, so the answer to my question must be “no”. I’d say that renders Joe’s statement incorrect. That is to say there are some in the body of Christ who don’t recognize the fact that one can’t be both a Christian and a homosexual. They may be in error, as was the Corinthian church, but they’re still Christians.
So to practice such things would evidence that one is lost, but to approve of such behavior would not? And I have in mind, not approval out of ignorance, but approval in the face of clear apostolic teaching. If some in the church continued to approve of such things despite Paul’s clear correction, would it not indicate hearts no different from those continuing to practice them? In the same manner, do not modern day approvers of homosexual practice show themselves in the same spiritual boat with those who engage in it? In both cases there is a willful rejection of the truth and embrace of a lie.
How about this: approval of the sort demonstrated by the Corinthian church does not disqualify one from membership in the body. That seems to contradict Joe Blackmon’s claim on this thread and Ken Temple’s claim on the Chris Christie thread that anyone who approves of homosexual practice cannot also be a believer. They’ve promoted correct thinking on the sin of homosexual practice to a “primary” doctrinal issue with respect to salvation.
*scripture indicates homosexuality is wrong*, not the prior question.
Ian, glad we’re on agreement in disingenuousness of a Christian litmus test. But then, if we all must learn what a straight line is, why don’t you hold other sinners to that same standard? Where is the accountability for gluttons, for fornicating heterosexuals, for those who divorce under non-Biblical conditions? It still seems to most of us non-Evangelicals that homosexuality is the sin du jour, and all of us (both Christian and non-Christian) have become so immune to the sin of gluttony that we not only refuse to condemn it–we openly accommodate it. It is from this ethical standpoint that outsiders like me observe both the hubris and the hypocrisy.
This is a good article on the homosexual and so called “gay marriage” issue: (by Thabiti Anayabwile)
“The Gospel Doesn’t Have A Gag Reflex” by Kyle Keating
“The church does not need to add any more stigma to homosexuality. We must preach the gospel to this issue, the same as any issue. But we must also take time to consider how we might make the church a place where people who are attracted to the same sex can flourish. What place do celibate, single people have in our communities? In our leadership? What vision can we cast for deep and abiding friendships? For marriages that honestly acknowledge the ongoing struggles of one spouse with same-sex attraction? If there’s anything my tribe needs to do better, it is engage in creative, constructive reflection on how the church can be a family for anyone, including gays and lesbians. This doesn’t have to mean abandoning our ethical convictions, but it does mean that we have to care enough about the gay brothers and sisters in our midst to reduce stigma rather than incite it.”
This is another good response to that article:
“What if Jesus Had A Gag Reflex?” by Zack Hunt
“With the theological sophistication of an 8 year old child who refuses to eat their broccoli, Thabiti Anyabwile of The Gospel Coalition has attempted to single handily eliminate any and all compassion and grace from the church by arguing that Christians need to rediscover their gag reflex when it comes to homosexuality.
According to Mr. Anyabwile, homosexuality is wrong not just because a couple of Bible verses say so, but because it’s yucky and gross.”
“On Love and the Yuck Factor” by Richard Beck
“And even if you did convince yourself that Anyabwile is just talking about behaviors, you can’t escape the fact, if you agree with Anyabwile, that individuals who are involved in these behaviors–let alone enjoying them–are engaging in degrading activities that mar or seriously call into question the dignity and humanity of the participants. When disgust is involved any purported distinction being made between persons and behavior is purely fictitious, a rhetorical ploy, a verbal obfuscation of the underlying psychology. Your feelings of disgust will contaminate how you feel about persons doing disgusting things.
In short, there isn’t any possible defense of Anyabwile. And while I’m sure that he thinks he’s doing the right thing, my psychological assessment is that his essay is simply encouraging and teaching people how to hate.”
I would say that it’s difficult to get much more specific than your reference to the Apostles’ Creed–those who believe Jesus is the son of God are Christian. So yes, that includes Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, Anabaptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists. It probably would not include Unitarians, but doesn’t necessarily completely exclude them. It would probably also include Messianic Jews, since most other Jews do not consider them to be Jewish–they fail to meet a basic standard of Judaism.
Taking our definition to any greater level of detail, as you do in your reference to the Gospel of Matthew, is–as you recognize–rambling. It also ventures uncomfortably into the cherry-picking territory by which Christians have disagreed vigorously for centuries, leading to the tens of thousands of Christian denominations that exist today.
Thanks for your reply, Lauren.
Remember, the Apostle’s Creed not only says Jesus is the Son of God, but also that He is Lord–that is what I emphasized. And understanding that “Lord”, in that context, is more than just someone really important–it has a specific historical meaning. Many of those groups you mentioned (such as Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses) would re-interpret “Lord” as something much different than the understanding of Kurios when the creed was formulated.
As to cherry-picking–well, I would say anyone who approaches the Scriptures and says “this is authentic” and “this is not” is explicitly cherry-picking. Those who make no such acknowledgment may STILL do “cherry picking” if they tend to emphasize some Scripture over another and form a “canon within a canon”. But if an explicit view of plenary inspiration is held, such “cherry picking” is merely hypocritical. If I attempted to say “I believe in the plenary inspiration of Scripture” but then totally ignored a teaching of Scripture (or worse, explicitly denied it), I would be a hypocrite.
As for “tens of thousands”–I think that though there may be “tens of thousands” of church organizations, there are many groups that fall under broad categories and probably have creeds largely–if not completely–identical to each other. Many of the “tens of thousands” of denominations merely exist as geographically or nationally separated groups, but are identical to others that exist elsewhere. Not every church division arose from doctrine or practical disputes.
The ones in the Gospels most certain of Jesus’ divinity were the demons he routinely encountered, rebuked, and cast out. For the record, the demons were not Christians. Personal trust and repentance in Christ as Savior and Lord ==> Christian. There is no other formula.
Lauren, I’m assuming you are being rhetorical when you said “why don’t you…” and not specifically toward myself. Personally, I do hold all sins to the same standard that all sins are sins. I don’t place the sin homosexuality over fornication, divorce (which I believe the church has done a completely unacceptable job with and went with culture norms instead of what the Scriptures tell us), etc. I will admit that many evangelicals tend to get tunnel vision when it comes to issues such as homosexuality and abortion. I think it comes out of how emotionally charged the issue is to begin with (at least with abortion). Is it from being overzealous and forgetting to invite someone to come to Christ first and rather just on how wrong it is,- at times it can be. People need to be shown told about Christ and after accepting Christ first, the life/heart change can occur (not theother way around). For if one has truly accepted Christ, understands that you need an alien righteousness to stand before a Holy God and is in the Word, the life change will occur. Will we still struggle, sure, (and that’s a whole other issue that is often not explained correctly), but we can have victory in the struggle.
If we focus on being/living more like Christ, loving others (while still not condoning sinful behavior in a loving way), understanding that our fallen interpretations on what moral issues are not God’s and yet recognizing that God has set the standards and has implimented a created order for a purpose, things may look differnt. We should be living for His purpose, which is to glorify Him in everything we do. Sometimes we all can lose sight of that.
“So yes, that includes Mormons, Eastern Orthodox, Anabaptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Scientists.”
No. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Christian Science are not true or proper or doctrinal expressions of Christianity. They may say “we believe that Jesus is the Son of God”, but they have very different interpretations of what that means. The Bible and the Nicean Creed define the Son as having the same eternal essence/nature/substance as the Father – John 1:1-5; Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3, 6, 8, 10-12; John 8:24; Romans 9:5; John 20:28; John 17:5.
Mormonism is polytheism – millions of gods on millions of planets. Jehovah’s Witnesses are like Arius in their doctrine of Jesus – they believe God the Father created Him and then every thing else was created through Him; they do not believe Jesus is the eternal Son of God – the Word from all eternity past. They do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person within the Trinity. They all deny the Trinity as defined and agreed upon by Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. Christian Science is basically “mind over matter” – just positive thinking cult.
“why don’t you hold other sinners to that same standard? Where is the accountability for gluttons, for fornicating heterosexuals, for those who divorce under non-Biblical conditions?”
But you are still admitting that all of these things, including homosexuality, are all sins; and they are – gluttony, fornication, adultery, divorce for non-biblical conditions; and I would add pride and arrogance, sinful anger, jealousy, greed, laziness, selfishness, etc.
It is not Evangelicals that make homosexuality “the sin du jour”. Rather it is the homosexuals and gay agenda that are trying to force the rest of us to approve of their sinful actions and they are the ones who have taken their private disgusting bedroom actions into the public and media and trying to get special rights by government action and changing marriage laws and changing the very definition of marriage and male and female and gender, trying to force government to force the rest of us to approve of their sinful lifestyle and desires.
Evangelicals should preach against gluttony more for sure, and practice good eating discipline; and I will admit that too many divorces have been unBiblical and wrong. Adultery is sin and good churches have always preached against adultery, fornication, gluttony, sinful anger, laziness, lying, pride and arrogance, etc. – You don’t hear about that as much because there are no groups that have organized in the way that homosexuals have to try and force the culture and the government to force the rest of us to approve of adultery and gluttony. Gluttony is too much of a good thing – food; hetero-sexual adultery and fornication is too much of a good thing – heterosexual sex – God created food and hetero-sexual sex in marriage as good by nature. But homo-sex is wrong, evil by nature and design and creation. It is a perversion in itself. Big difference.
It is the homosexuals who took the private thing in the bedroom and forced it into the public discussion and seek to force the rest of us to approve of them.
It helps to not try to clump a bunch of people into an “agenda” or similar group. It’s easy to see people as a policy you disagree with, but things change when you consider they’re individual human beings with lives and stories and feelings and fears and loves, etc. etc.
These people are human beings like you or me who want the same freedoms and level of equality that you and I get to live with because they’re being wrongfully descriminated against in the public sphere. Like many minorities before them. Conservative Christians feel they have a right to feel so wronged and threatened by the “gay agenda”, how do you think LGBT people feel vis-a-vis the “conservative Christian agenda”? We have to meet them on a “love your neighbor” level and remember that they are people like you and me and we need to treat them with love and respect.
“My enemy is a man like me” isn’t that right?
I think if Jesus were telling the story of the Good Samaritan today, the Samartian would be a gay person. And all those people who walked by would be priests, pastors, Christian authors, bloggers, teachers, and artists.
And I think this site would benefit a lot from an honest, open interview with some gay Christians because it would be better if a bunch of straight people stopped talking about them like they were a theological problem, and let them speak for themselves like the human beings with voices that they are.
Ken, the book of mormon contradicts its own doctrine. I won’t even go into the unsubstatiated claims of the gold plates….
I agree with you on all 3 points.
” think if Jesus were telling the story of the Good Samaritan today, the Samartian would be a gay person. And all those people who walked by would be priests, pastors, Christian authors, bloggers, teachers, and artists.”
I think at this point, having a polite discourse it out the window, as you attempt to paint with broad stokes the same thing you claim to be against in your statement. Too often people put “feelings” above what is right/wrong in the eyes of God. The secular world is simply that, secular. It will tell everyone that they can do whatever they want and not have any consequence. Anyone that says otherwise is a bigot and infringing on your “rights as an American” to be happy doing whatever it is that pleases you. I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you and has a plan/purpose for you, but you will have to give an account for your life before a Holy God.
You can claim all the “discrimination” you want and call Christians “closed-minded”, “bigots”, “uneducated”, etc., but ultimately, you are committing the same offense you claim to be standing up against.
Jesus told the adulterous woman the He did not condemn her, but to go and sin no more. When people try and justify their behavior by secular means to skirt a moral authority, you can see how it can pose a problem.
I don’t think you actually read what I wrote. Relax and try again.
Although if you’re shocked by the idea of the Samaritan being a gay person and the people who walked by being Christian leaders, then that *is* the reaction I was trying to induce because I think that’s the same shock level the original story would’ve had to Jesus’ original listeners. I think the Samaritans of Jesus’ day in many ways were perceived by Jews the same way as LGBT people are perceived by Christians today. The idea of Jesus using a Samaritan to illustrate how to love your neighbor in such a selfless and noble way was very scandalous then.
Being born a Samaritan, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, American, etc., is not sinful. Homosexuality is explicit sin. What are we missing here?
Defined how, exactly?
Not playing the word games. You and I both know what the Bible means when it says homosexuality is sinful. “Born this way” or phrase of the day means nothing in the Biblical light of the Fall. I am tempted frequently to lust, greed, arrogance, etc. If, rather than resisting by the power of Word and Spirit, I give in to temptation, I sin. Plain and simple.
And the Samaritan in the story was a obviously a perfect human being without sin?
Apples and oranges. If we are talking about ostracizing a group of people on the basis of their sins (as though homosexuals did not have access to the same saving blood of Christ as the rest of us), we are wrong. If we are going to pretend that homosexuality is not sinful and an abomination in the sight of God and that we should not call homosexuals to repentance like the rest of us, we are wrong again.
I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make regarding the statement I made about the Samaritan man being a gay man in a possible modern retelling… I said nothing regarding whether homosexuality is or is not sinful. I was speaking to the idea that the shock value would be the same since the Jews of Jesus’ time viewed the Samaritans in much the same way many conservative Christians view gay people today. It makes the point that they are our neighbor, and we are to love them. And the man who ultimately did what God wanted was the Samaritan, not all the Jews (who were probably all nicely ritually clean and followed all God’s laws so neatly) who walked on by. That’s telling.
Jews in Jesus’ day didn’t even walk through Samaria, they went way out of their way to walk around it. Jesus walking into Samaria and talking to a Samaritan woman (something a Jewish male, let alone a rabbi would have never done) would be like a pastor or priest today going to a gay pride parade and casually talking to a drag queen there. And Jesus never once asked her to repent. Sure he made her aware of her sin, but in a gentle way, but that wasn’t what he led with. He led with his offer of living water, and then she went on to become an evangelist in her hometown that same day! Repentance isn’t even mentioned. I’m not saying repentance isn’t important, but Christians aren’t the repentance police, and suggesting we should be is ridiculous. Only God can change someone’s heart, and he knows how it needs to be done. Maybe we should focus on our own repentance before focusing on the possible repentance needs in others.
God desires mercy, not sacrifice. And it’s his KINDNESS that leads us to repentence, not him beating us over the head with our own sin. He lets us come to him before we repent, because none of us are ever in a state of perfect repentance. I mean, he died for us while we were still sinners, right?
You changed stories on me at first. At first it was the story of the Good Samaritan (who is portrayed as a righteous character); now you are on the Samaritan woman at the well (who is unrighteous).
As to Christians being the “repentance police,” we are the heralds of the good news of Christ, which calls “all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
And, of course, Christ went to the dregs of society (prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, “sinners,” etc.) and carrying the same news of the Kingdom as He did everywhere else, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That’s the means of salvation. Come to Christ in faith and repentance and be saved.
I’m sure we each have an opinion what the Bible means when it says “homosexuality is sinful”. I’m not sure those two opinions are the same. Not least of which because the words “homosexual” and “homosexuality” have come to be less exactly defined in the English language.
Some potential definitions:
1. One is a homosexual who experiences same-sex attraction, even if it is never acted upon.
2. One is a homosexual who willingly engages, even if only infrequently, in homosexual acts.
3. One is a homosexual whose homosexual acts are frequent and of which one is not ashamed. They rise to the level that one could reasonably be defined by them.
#3 strikes me as the proper biblical definition. Do you agree?
More or less, I agree. Shame is involved, and so is a perpetual mode of repentance. Additionally, the way one even identifies himself factors in as well. I don’t own myself as a “luster” or a “greed-fiend” or a “liar” or an “arrogant jerk.” Yes, I confess those things and own them as sins before God with repentance in my heart. But they are not who I am, because I have been washed (1 Corinthians 6:11). My identity is as a child of the King, a co-heir with Christ. This is where I make a distinction between myself, a Christian who has sinned his fair share, and a practicing, self-identifying homosexual who wants to claim the label of Christian. As you pointed out buddy, there should be a measure of shame involved in us in light of our sins, as we should recognize our sins for what they are–abominations before God. If we are unwilling to go to that point, that is evidence that the fruit of repentance is not present in us.
Actually David, being a “Samaritan” was not just an ethnicity; it was to be, in the eyes of a Jew, a heretic. (I think Jesus also thought them to be wrong about God, given his statement in John 4:22). So there certainly is an implicit idea of sinfulness associated with that identity, just as what ‘Mormon’ or ‘Muslim’ might imply to most Christians.
All siners, which include all of us are human beings and we should respect one another. All of us are theological problems! We’re born theological problems. I’m the worst theological problem I know! Due to the fact that we have fallen short of God’s standard and without Christ and the change present in our hearts, our fate is sealed. Are homosexuals any different from anyone who lives in unrepentant sin (note that people struggling with SSA are different from wilfully turning from God), no. On a human level (group labeled) are they problems, no, they are not. WE are called to love all (but not to call what is evil, good) Is it a problem that people’s eternal souls are at risk by wilfully rejecting what God has clearly laid out as a created order? Absolutely! I don’t want to see those I’ve shared Christ with go down a path of destruction because they feel something is ok that the Bible clearly reveals to us that it’s not. If I claim to be a Christian and constantly fornicate (unrepentantly) with someone other than my wife, am I truly His?
I said nothing about condoning homosexuality. I was just saying let’s stop objectifying them as an ISSUE and remember they’re human beings. It’s easy to reduce human beings to an agenda or an issue and then use that to justify making sweeping judgements about their character or motives or agendas. The way Ken was talking about gay people in that paragraph was not ok, as a Christian and a human being. They’re not our enemy. We need to stop seeing them that way, it only generates hate and fear.
No, I would not be that ignorant/shocked by that idea. Heck, just last week I helped somebody that was broke down on the side of the road. I didn’t think about who they were before I made the decision to pull over. But I would think we’d both agree that “love you neighbor” and helping someone in need, is much different than supporting something that God says is wrong.
I equate America to a modern-day Corinth as many people, even Christians, blur the lines between what is “legally permitted/acceptable” under the nation’s laws vs. what God has revealed to us are right/wrong.
Well, technically, we’re not a theocracy so God’s laws don’t determine our nation’s laws. There’s a separation of church and state. A lot of the LGBT people face legitimate descrimination in our country on a basic civil liberties level. For example, it’s still legal in a lot of states to fire a person from a job just for being gay. That’s wrong however you look at it. And not being allowed to marry their partners means they don’t the same insurance and financial rights for their partners as straight people get for their spouses, and they also are discriminated against in basic things like hospital visitation rights. I know a lot of Christians are entirely against homosexuality in practice because of their faith, but they support the equal rights and civil liberties of their fellow LGBT Americans on a basic civil liberties level. I don’t think that’s such a horrible thing.
I would agree that we’re not a theocracy, nor do I want one, as that would truly hurt the Christian witness. But the constitutional means that some of the radical (not all) homosexual groups went to overturn court verdicts is very short sighted. What some people claim as eqaual rights is a taboo discussion, as the basis for rights for a group defined by their behavior can turn into something that was not the original intent, but I suppose that’s a discussion for a different day.
All this blah blah blah about what the Bible says and doesn’t say. In the dialogue between Lee and White, Lee granted ALL of White’s conclusions about the sinfulness of homosex.
Lee’s main question about helping LGTBQ within that conservative church context went largely unanswered by White. A few years back, I asked essentially the same thing of a pastor that was staunchly Side B (gay lust and actions are sin, but gay temptations aren’t). His answer: “Ummm…”
Very very disheartening.
“Ummm…” was his answer for the hope that is in him? “Ummm…” was how he’s making the world a better place? You can say something is a sin over and over again. That’s not helping! You are stuck on Part A of Preliminary Step #1. When are you going to actually do something? When are you going to be the example of love that you claim that you know so much about? People are languishing. You’re reciting Bible verses and arguing over the tense of a verb. I think those things lay some kind of foundation, but they do little to nothing where the rubber meets the road.
Very good point. Thank you for that.
Calling men to repent and believe the Gospel is greatest act of love. There are other forms of love, but they are lesser forms.
David, greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Thank you for someone finally replying with Scripture (and well-cited, by the way). Now check the context of John 15. What is Jesus doing as He says that in v. 13?
Nathan, the issue isn’t being the witness that “loves his neighbor”. The issue for people is two fold:
-Secular worldview says that to love someone is to support/condone their actions
-Christian worldview says to love someone does not equate with supporting decisions that are sinful.
That being said, ultimately to avoid the stymie of trying to tell a pagan to stop being a pagan, one has to first introduce them to Christ. If they haven’t been introduced to Christ, telling them their actions (sinful as they might be) are wrong is futile. I would agree that it’s done in the opposite order too often and needs to be led with Christ’s love, all-encompassing sacrifice, resurrection and then pray that the Holy Spirit do a work in them.
As Al Mohler said in an interview with Larry King many years back regarding homosexuality for Christians, “I sympathize with every single human heart wishing to know the one true and living God, but I believe there is only one way that can happen – through Jesus Christ. And the gospel is about repenting of sin, not celebrating it.”
Game. Set. Match.
“[The] gospel is about repenting of sin, not celebrating it.”
So if you die without having the sense of timing to repent of each and every sin you ever committed in thought, word and deed (known and unknown) in your entire life, what happens?
I think you could do well to have a right understanding of repentance. I also think you could do well to not attempt to sidetrack the point.
In short, if you believe the Roman church, you’re going to purgatory for a zillion years, and you’ll hopefully make it to heaven one day by working yourself out of the debt you created. But if you believe the Bible, the requirements for conversation are faith and repentance (seen as a single event that happens only via the grace and will of God). Those two-in-one are always imperfect on the part of the believer, but they must be present in principle. Once someone is genuinely converted, they can/will never revert to a state of being not converted. They will continue in that state until they die and instantly go to heaven – they cannot go anywhere else. 2 Corinthians 5:8 is specifically true of Paul, and generally true of the believer.
To bring the point back to the relevant conversation, a person who practices homosexuality (or fornication, adultery, bestiality, etc.) must renounce those sins, turn to Christ for forgiveness and a declaration of Christ’s righteousness, and then that person can be saved. If they desire their sins more than a right relationship with God, they will receive the due penalty of their error (damnation to eternal, conscious torment in a real place called Hell).
Adam writes: “If they desire their sins more than a right relationship with God, they will receive the due penalty of their error”
Right. The question is what happens when a believer doesn’t think a particular action is a sin?
For example: masturbation. A know a well-respected Calvinist blogger who doesn’t believe it is, necessarily. I know of more than a few fundamentalist Christians who didn’t believe that human slavery was a sin (men like Richard Furman and Thornton Stringfellow … devout Christians who knew the Bible inside and out).
Are these guys going to fry or not? You can’t repent of something you don’t think is a sin, now can you?
Ignorance of the law does not excuse the breaking of the law. I don’t get too into it, but the topic in question -homosexuality- is crystal from all of Scripture. Most wouldn’t deny that. And the few that would deny it are simply walking examples of Romans 1.
You didn’t really answer the question.
Are all Christian men who masturbate going to Hell or not?
Are the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention (or the abolitionists who opposed and fought them in the War) going to Hell or not?
Oh, com’n stop trying to create controversy where there is none. People don’t go to heaven or hell in groups. They go based on their individual standing before God and the only way is through faith and repentance (again, seen as a single event) in Jesus Christ alone. I may not be answering your ridiculous question as you’d like me to… but I think you should stop trying to be unnecessarily provocative and let it rest. Scripture is CLEAR – especially with regard to this issue.
I asked a simple question, Adam.
You’ve expended a great number of pixels insisting that gays go to Hell NOT due to any lack of faith but because of their actions and what they *do*.
I’m simply extending your logic.
If masturbation is a sin, then those who do that and fail to repent will also go to Hell. If the men who founded the Southern Baptist Convention were guilty of some form of sin for their support of human slavery, then they are in Hell. If a sinner of ANY kind fails to repent, then their actions lead them to Hell, whether they realize it’s a sin or not.
You’re making a lot about the law here. We’re not saved by keeping the law which is good because nobody keeps the law.
Well put! Thank the Lord for men like Al Mohler (and Denny Burk)!
Nathan Cesal wrote:
” In the dialogue between Lee and White, Lee granted ALL of White’s conclusions about the sinfulness of homosex.”
I did not hear that – can you show me exactly where that is? (please give the minute mark)
I am listening again to see if I can hear that.
If Justin Lee agreed that homo-sex is sin, then he has no grounds for his book or his argument that he wants to get married to someone of the same sex; and the argument is over and he should live a celibate life and seek to follow the Lord and the Scriptures and a good local church would be there for him, if he is not holding on to his desire to want to marry another man.
Dr. White’s view is that Justin Lee refused to engage or debate him on the issue of 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
It is another case of someone leaving the church and writing a book and gaining an audience with other liberals and emergents and the wider secular Media who are angry at their elders, parents, and the Bible, for telling them that Evolution is wrong, eternal hell is real, and women cannot be pastors / elders of local churches.
Ken, you aren’t talking about Rob Bell up there are you? 🙂
Yes, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren, and Rachel Held Evans, to name a few. There are others but they are all coming from the same general attitude.
Last thing to say on this:
By grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9);
In conjunction with forgiveness granted in response to confession (1 John 1:9) and repentance (Luke 24:47) from sin in accordance with God’s Word.
Not by works.
Not by works.
Not by works.
And even still, we call sinful what Scripture calls sinful.