Several weeks ago I preached a message on the relationship of the Bible and homosexuality. For the full sermon, I invite you to go here. Here’s a question from the sermon.
Question: I have many, many friends who are gay. Many of them believe they were saved earlier in life, some were in heterosexual marriages for many years and have children. Many live in the city of Fort Worth and go to one of the gay-friendly churches in downtown area. How do we witness to those who have good knowledge of the Bible, believe they were saved earlier in life, but don’t believe homosexuality is any worse than any other sin?
Thank you for your question. As we all know, this issue is not a hypothetical/theoretical situation for many people. I think we can all say that we have had family members or friends who have dealt with this issue, which make it very personal.
To kind of summarize the issue on at least one front, I think your friend’s issue with faith and the church is not really about homosexuality but about the authority of Scripture. It’s the old question that the Serpent asked Eve in the Garden, “Did God Say?” Our church believes that the authors of the Bible were G0d-breathed, that the original autographs were perfect and that we have thousand of really good copies of those originals. As far as historic documents, they are off the charts in terms of reliability, stability and trustworthiness. That same document speaks with one voice on the issue of homosexuality.
So if you have a church or individual that can call themselves a, “Christian,” or use the term, “church,” they must have dismissed the Bible somewhere along the way. They have in a sense become the, “Editor-in-Chief,” of their Bible, picking and choosing what to believe or not believe. That places the Bible as a devotional book to run alongside your life, but not as an authoritative word from God. The clergy of these churches agree with this situation by saying, “We will simply not bug you about your life and only use parts of the biblical text that serve to encourage the choices you have already made.” Until that view of Scripture is corrected, not much else is going to change. Sadly, whole denominations or break-offs from denominations have adopted this view of the biblical text, picking and choosing what they will use. I will agree, there are parts of the text that don’t exactly get me excited, but I still sit under its authority.
I know that may help explain the problem, but not help in any real tangible way. There are still some tough calls to make. I have the ability to be friendly and agreeable with those I disagree with. I think the Lord knows when we are just being kind and not in full endorsement of someone else’s sinful lifestyle. Others have trouble doing that and need to form some very clear boundaries about these issues. Having a meal together is probably not a hard decision, attending a gay wedding would be where a firm line is drawn. Like I said, God knows your heart and your intention. Of all people, Jesus can understand choosing to maintain a relationship with someone in a sinful lifestyle with the goal seeing their redemption/reconciliation/restoration.
Stuart Pendell is the Minister of Couples and Assimilation for North Richland Hills Baptist Church.