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  • Writer's pictureElijah Blalock

Homosexuals and the Church, Part 3: Good News

This post is the last of a three part series on the church and the homosexual community. In my first post, I explained why Christians believe that homosexual acts are wrong, and in the second I explained what church membership is and why those who identify as homosexual are usually excluded from membership. If you haven't already, please go back and read those posts first. Now, I want to be more practical. If you identify as homosexual or are wrestling with your sexual orientation, what does the Bible say to you? If you are trying to witness to a friend with these struggles, what do you say? I hope to make clear that God has not left you behind.

Good News for Homosexuals

Many homosexual people say that they simply cannot help who they are attracted to and that they really believe that they were simply born that way, or perhaps that life had made them into what they are and that there is no going back. They simply desire to be authentic and to love who they want to love and be loved in return. We should be sympathetic because we all want to be loved. I don't think that many Christians understand that their homosexual neighbors are being sincere about their attractions. They did not simply wake up wishing to be attracted to the same sex. For many, it is a compulsion that they did not choose, just as many of us did not choose what kind of person we would find attractive.

However, seeking to be authentic and true to ourselves will not save us. People sometimes really and sincerely desire to do bad things. In a previous post, I used the analogy of someone who identifies as a liar. For some, lies are just an easy way to get ahead and avoid uncomfortable situations. Yet, we don't excuse lying, and if someone proudly identified themselves as a liar, we would consider that person grossly immoral. For us, lying is an immoral action, not an acceptable identity. We know that a person's sincere feelings cannot make an immoral act a moral one.

However, we don't see sex as simply an action that may be moral or immoral. We see sex as an expression of our inner identity. Our culture currently teaches us to look inward to our deepest longings and desires, and to see these as our "true selves." We must then be authentic and act out who we feel we truly are. Therefore, to call homosexual acts immoral is not understood as judgment against an action, but against a person's very identity. This means that you cannot hate the sin and love the sinner because that sin is part of who they are. But there is no reason that things must be this way. Our feelings and desires for sex do not have to be acted upon and are not foundational to our identity.

We should look to Jesus as the ideal picture of humanity. Jesus was human as humans were supposed to be, and yet Jesus never had sex. This in no way diminished His humanity. He was no less himself and no less authentic because of this. That's because sex, though it is a good gift from God, is not foundational to human identity or value. Jesus' identity was not defined by an inner voice, but by an external voice: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased" (Mark 1:11).

In the same way, we will not find salvation within. Our thoughts and feelings are corrupted by sin. Most men find themselves to be attracted to multiple women. This desire is not good and if a man acts upon it, we would be right to scold him. We would in no way be devaluing or assaulting his identity, because his desire for multiple women is not essential to his identity. If anything, his sin is dehumanizing to him because it is contrary to what humans are made for. Similarly, a man may well find that he is attracted to other men. The feeling is sincere, but this does not mean that this is his true self, that the feeling is good, or that the action is moral. The desires arise from the flesh corrupted by sin. There is no hope to be found within given that our desires are fickle and often misdirected. However, there is an external voice that can give us value and meaning. God has said that we are made in His own image and that His Son died to redeem us. In Scripture, we hear His voice calling us out of our sin to live as the creatures He made us to be. We find our value and meaning in His unconditional love.

This of course is not easy. Christ calls us to die to ourselves. Every Christian struggles with some sin that they must give up. When God calls someone who is attracted to the same sex, that person is being called to give up sexual and romantic love, which is something that most Christians cannot fathom losing. For some, God grants that they fall in love with someone of the opposite sex and they enjoy a happy marriage. Many, however, are never able to find someone of the opposite sex attractive. For them, obedience looks like permanent singleness and learning to tame the passions they feel. I don't know many Christians who desire that sort of life, yet I have heard the testimonies of several believers who, for the sake of Christ, choose to remain single rather than in sin (here is a 3-minute testimony of someone who has done just that). While they cannot change their orientation, they refuse to let it dictate their behavior or identity. We shouldn't see these Christians as failures or outcasts, but should rather see them as people who have given up more for their faith than many of us ever will. They deserve to be loved and supported by a church family.

For the person wrestling with same-sex attraction wondering how they could ever give up so much for Christ, you can't do it in your own strength, but that's not what God is asking. God offers His strength to help you overcome. You are not giving something up in return for nothing, but rather giving up something that cannot satisfy you for something that can. You are acknowledging that there is no salvation in yourself or another person. Your value is not dependent on your own fickle whims, or those of a lover, or even of society. Your identity is not defined by your thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. You don't have to see yourself as straight, gay, or bisexual, as if that was critical to who you are. Your value comes from the God who made you and His unconditional love for you. Unlike you, He will never change. To live for Him is not an easy path to walk, but it is worth it.

For the believers reading this who do not share this struggle, I'd invite you to consider how we have treated homosexuals. More often than not, the church has been harsh or perhaps even abusive. However, in some cases, the church has simply compromised her convictions and even celebrated what God calls sin. God calls us to be better. We must simultaneously be clear in our convictions about sin and compassionate towards sinners. This means that we treat people with kindness and that we speak the truth in love, even if that truth is considered offensive. While it is important for us to clearly state our convictions about sexuality, it must not ever be divorced from the gospel. No one will be saved by sexual purity. We must offer homosexuals something better than their sin. We must offer them the power by which they can be free from sin. We must offer them Jesus.

Finally, we must also bear each other's burdens as a community. Think about the great cost of following Jesus for someone who is same-sex attracted: they may be called to a life of singleness. Few people want that for themselves. That is not simply a life without sex, but often a life without deep companionship. God Himself says that it is not good for people to be alone (Gen. 2:18). While some may have to live without sex and marriage, God's people should not have to live without companionship. The church is called the family of God, and we must start acting like it. To those who remain single for the Lord's sake, we may be the only family they have. We can help our brothers and sisters in their struggle against sin by offering the friendship and community that God designed us for. We must commit ourselves to patience, mercy, and hospitality. We must move beyond sharing pews and move towards sharing lives. This will bless not only those wrestling with sexual sins, but all sinners.

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Beautifully written 👏 ❤

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