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June 18, 2012

Comments

So, first off, homosexuals are not "in" the Church, insofar as being a part of the church. Such a lifestyle is explicitly incompatible with what Scripture teaches about the Church and Christianity. Are they welcome to attend Church? Absolutely, and we encourage them to do so, so that they may hear the Gospel and see Christ demonstrated to them (not the only venue by which they should be exposed to Christianity, either, people...). Are they part of the Church in that they take part in the workings and ordnances of the Church? No way.

Lest you think this is singling out homosexuality or being unfair, it's not. Also incompatible are other types of immorality, drunkeness, licentiousness, anger, rage, malice, etc...very clearly spelled out in Scripture that these types of behaviour are not part of Church or Christian life.

Second, when I hear "truth and compassion", I think that's easier said than done. Sounds good on paper, but what I find more often than not is that folks focus on the compassion side of things and forgo the truth side...just an observation, could be wrong. There are certainly churches that totally are incompassionate, but I think those are less in number than the other extreme.

By the way, compassion doesn't mean you condone sinful behaviour and look the other way. Consider this behaviour in a church service. What if a homosexual couple came in through the church doors and went through the service holding hands? How would/should the Church respond to that?

Does this mean homosexuals are not welcome in church? Far from it, but it does mean that they are held to be sinners just like every other sinner that comes through the doors and hopefully demonstrated to them Christ, both love and truth, and are going to hear the Gospel.

So, really this video could be a little more on point by pointing out the real question that is lurking behind the scenes, and that is how should a Christian treat an unbelieving sinner? Perhaps Alan can address that for us...?

Also, here's some food for thought, and something I don't the answer to, but I'm kinda of the mindset that the Church should confront issues of its day, and I think that in society today, homosexuality is a major issue, so...?

X, not all who are homosexual in the church are active in that lifestyle. Many have those attractions, but seek to live a sexually pure life before God, which often times means celibacy. It struck me that when Alan was talking about the homosexual IN the church that loved God, he was talking about that.

As for treating homosexuals as everyone else, I've told some gay friends of mine that I don't even THINK of them as gay. They're just my friends. That isn't ignoring the fact that they're gay, but I don't think of them as my "gay friends" anymore than I think of another friend as my "pagan friend" or "married friend".

Is it actually clear in the Bible that homosexuality is morally equivalent to other types of sexual immorality? As long as we're equating sexual sins, are bigamy or pedophilia any different? I know it's easier to respond to our gay friends if their sin is no different than, say, heterosexual 'friends with benefits' (I do hope you're right, for just that reason), but can we just assume this equality? Has STR written anything on this?

Jim,

Robert Gagnon is perhaps the world's greatest authority on the bible and homosexual practice. Here is his take on the question you raised:

http://robgagnon.net/articles/HomosexHowBadIsIt.pdf

I highly recommend Dr. Gagnon's website as a resource for anyone who wants to know the truth about what the Bible teaches about homosexual practice:

http://robgagnon.net/

Commenter X raises some good points that needed clarification in the video. It's one thing to struggle with same-sex attraction. It's another to be openly living out that lifestyle and still calling yourself a follower of Christ, without any desire to change or movement in that direction.

There were some good things in the video about love, but little about the truth side of it or how to apply it in real situations.

It's also a bit frustrating to see STR accepting the accusation from homosexuals that Christians hate them or behave hatefully toward them. Do some Christians behave hatefully toward homosexuals? Sure. But that doesn't mean we must always begin every mention of this issue with an apology of sorts, with an attitude of guilt because it's an assumed fact that Christians regularly behave that way. It's just not true. I have been a Christian for many years and I have *never* seen any Christians I know personally behave that way. Nor have I seen teachers speaking/teaching that sort of thing.

Let's stop accepting that false guilt and let's be honest enough to say that the hate flows the other way much more often. One can no longer even express the slightest disagreement with homosexuality without immediately being labeled a "hater" (I hate that silly word!) and a bigot. Anything short of 100% acceptance of and celebration of homosexuality is not tolerated in today's society.

I think that's something that should be addressed.

It sounds great - until you try to do this for real.

In my experience, being genuinely charitable can be read wrongly by them as being sexually available. I've had two male gay friends who developed a 'crush' on me by just being friends with them.

One was with a man in his 60s (with whom I shared a common musical interest). The other was with a member of the gun club I belonged to who invited me over to his shooting range for tuition who clearly wanted more than to show me how to hold the gun!

I was 18/19 at the time of both instances and, needless to say, both freaked me as I did't know they were gay even, until they came on to me...

Mo

I agree totally. I was recently debating with someone on the idea of whether or not homosexual acts are sinful. I was accused of intolerance, passing judgement and hatred. This individual (a Christian in name at least-I don't know their heart) informed me that Jesus never told anyone how to live their life and He didn't condemn people for their behavior. My point was that the Bible clearly states it s a sin. In John 8:11 Jesus says go and sin no more, that would have an impact on how one would live their life. Anyway, I was being persecuted for righteousness sake.

...informed me that Jesus never told anyone how to live their life and He didn't condemn people for their behavior.

Wow, Billy, I guess your debating partner never read Matthew 23.

Sam,

I think that's what makes discussing these issues so difficult. The opposing view is often fueled by passion that is deceived by ignorance. In other words, they don't know what they're talking about. Social media can be very influential as well. They hear about someone being bullied and they think the only way to avoid being lumped in with "the bad guys" is to accept all deviant lifestyles. "This is a free country" they might say. It should always be in the spirit of love that we remind others of the superiority of God's laws.

X,

you said

"So, first off, homosexuals are not "in" the Church, insofar as being a part of the church."

I was wondering if you could clarify this staement for me? Do you mean that they are in no way a part of the body of Christ?

Are all sins equal? No, and yes. All sins are not equal in their consequences in this life. For example, one should not say "Well, Jesus said if you hate your brother you're guilty of murder so I'll just go ahead and kill him since I already hate him and there's no difference." Also, there is biblical support for the idea that in the next life, some sins will be judged more harshly than others (Matthew 11:22).

However, all sins are equal in that all sins, no matter how big or small, separate us from God (James 2:10). We all are law-breakers deserving the wrath of God whether our particular flavor of law-breaking is homosexuality or gossip. Finally, all sins are equal in that all sins, including homosexuality, can be forgiven by the blood of Christ when those who are involved in them repent and place their faith in Him (I Corinthians 6:10-12).

If our engagement with homosexuals carries with it a desire to share the gospel with them and see them come to Christ (and it should!), then we dare not treat them as if God is less willing or able to forgive their sin than He is other kinds of sins. I think that's what Mr. Shlemon has in mind.

X,

Secondly you said,

"Second, when I hear "truth and compassion", I think that's easier said than done. Sounds good on paper, but what I find more often than not is that folks focus on the compassion side of things and forgo the truth side."

By "On paper" do you mean in Scripture? And if so are you suggesting that truth some how trumps compassion or vice e versa?

X,

Finally you said,

"I'm kinda of the mindset that the Church should confront issues of its day, and I think that in society today, homosexuality is a major issue, so...?"

This is an interesting point. Is homosexuality a a major issue of the day, or has it always been an issue? If so are we attaching cultural taboos to doctrine?

Please keep in mind I wholeheartedly believe that homosexuality is sin. Any sex outside of marriage is sin. I see the larger problem looming in the American Church being divorce. For instance. If a homosexual joins a church he/she is told that they must abandon any relationship they have to pursue their membership within the body of Christ. But if a man/woman who has been divorced and remarried joins rarely is this an issue. Why? One is a cultural taboo one is culturally accepted. When Jesus spoke about adultery he used the Greek word porneo, which translates pretty much everything under the sun except for relations within marriage. Jesus also said that if a man divorces his wife and she remarries, all parties are guilty of adultry. I hear of precious few cases where churches turn down memberships of the remarried.

My point is not to excuse the actions of either, I'm not the judge of either. I'm called to Love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind, and love my fellow man as I already love myself. Wouldn't this include initially extending God's grace to the lost, the same way God extended His grace to us as believers?

This whole controversy always takes me back to Mathew 7:1-5

Steve

That's a good point. It's easier to see other people's faults.

@Steve,

I think John Piper said things better than I could.

Let Marriage Be Held in Honor

To answer your questions quickly:

1--Active homosexuals who are actively practising a homosexual lifestyle and activities are not part of the body. That type of lifestyle does not a suggest a life of repentance, and therefore I don' see how it can be held to be an acceptable part of the church body.

2--I am not saying that "truth somehow trumps compassion". I'm saying that alot of churches take the easy way out and say, "well, we can't figure out how to keep Biblical standards of truth and still demonstrate compassion, so we're going to err to the side of compassion and sacrifice Biblical truth." The opposite could occur as well. My point is two-fold: if a church decides to "err to the side of caution", however they define "caution", then it's still an error. Second, I think the way our church culture is going is to place compassion above truth. John 1:14 is a good reference, "full of grace and truth". Jesus set the standard for both grace and truth and did not err; we gotta figure that out as well.

3--I think it's pretty clear that one of the major issues the church is facing today is how to respond to the increased emphasis on homosexuality and acceptance of it by secular society. I also agree with you that perhaps a larger problem is that of divorce...nuff said.

A question I have, probably for somebody that's smarter than I am, is this: it seems there is a penchant for separating out a person's behaviour from their desires. In the case of homosexuality, it seems that one avenue of approach is for Christians to say in an effort to appear compassionate, "it's the physical act of sexual relations with someone of the same gender that's the issue, and not homosexual desires". I guess my question would be then, isn't that part of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, that evil desires are replaced by Godly desires?

x

"That type of lifestyle does not a suggest a life of repentance"

You are absolutely right. It is a mark of rebellion.
I think that the best way to describe it clinically is a kind of sexual schizophrenia.

This is not so complicated that we need a doctoral dissertation.

You show biblical love by giving the Word of God to those who need Him for their Salvation, the ultimate need. This is exactly what Jesus did while on Earth.

So, what is biblical "love"?

It is unselfish concern for the Salvation of others, as much concern for others' Salvation as you have for your own.

Biblical "compassion" is something like it: Unselfish concern for those who will die without a Shepherd -- Christ. [Matthew 9:36 KJV]

X,

"it seems there is a penchant for separating out a person's behaviour from their desires. In the case of homosexuality, it seems that one avenue of approach is for Christians to say in an effort to appear compassionate, "it's the physical act of sexual relations with someone of the same gender that's the issue, and not homosexual desires". I guess my question would be then, isn't that part of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, that evil desires are replaced by Godly desires?"

I agree my friend that there must be a seperation from the desires and from the actual actions. The Bible says that no one but God can know the heart beacause it is desperately sick.

My question becomes are we accountable for our desires or for acting upon them? 1st Corinthians 10:13. I believe we are judged for what we do(or don't do James 1:4).

I go one further hear. I deny the existence of the modern "homosexual". There are only Men and Woman. The fact that they may have relations with the same sex doesn't put them into a subset or alternet set of humanity. If it's sin, they are sinners just like me.

Mr. Incredible,

Maybe you don't need a dissertation hear, but some of us are looking for that answer for the reason of our hope.

Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we're sinners?

==...some of us are looking for that answer for the reason of our hope. ==

What answer do you need that hasn't been given?

==Are we sinners because we sin, or do we sin because we're sinners?==

Adam and Eve were sinners because they sinned.

We, then, are conceived in iniquity and born in sin. We have original sin because of them, and that's why we must be born again.

If we are not born again, we continue to sin, and without repentance. Unrighteousness produces sinfulness.

==...some of us are looking for that answer for the reason of our hope. ==

He says, "My Grace is sufficient."

I wrote, "This is not so complicated that we need a doctoral dissertation," to indicate that this isn't complicated, that we don't need to complicate it up with long, windbag, bloated, robotic, bureaucratic terms and explanations.

==I believe we are judged for what we do(or don't do James 1:4). ==

We're also judged by what we say.

We're also judged by what we say. ---> FOR what we say.

So if a couple get married and then get divorced then get remarried it means that everyone involved are then sinners? In many Christian communities it is encouraged to marry very young (early 20s or teens)and over half of marriages end in divorce (often over finances because birth control is another sin so instead of using condoms these couples will have as many kids as God gifts to them and the wife stays home with them and puts all the financial burden and they end up divorced because of the pressure of supporting everyone falling to the husband.

I think we sin because we are sinners. I realize that isn't the pivotal point of this discussion, but it caught my attention.

I don't think it is exactly true that 50% of marriages end in divorce.
http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/d/divorce.htm

==I think we sin because we are sinners.==

No, sin comes from unrighteousness, being outta step with God. Sinful acts are perpetrated through the lusts of the flesh. The flesh doesn't know right from wrong. It does what the soul tells it. The soul is informed by the spirit. The spirit is supposed to be informed by the Spirit. All Scripture is given by the Holy Spirit.

I don't really follow the differentiation between spirit, soul and Spirit. I see soul and Spirit, but not the third spirit. Unrighteousness is sin. Men are sinful that's why they sin. We can't will a single good act apart from God.

If you say we are sinners because we sin then you assume that at some point we were innocent and then the sin made us guilty. Original sin makes us all guilty before we are even born technically so we are first sinners before we sin actually.

How would you affirm that the spirit is supposed to be informed by the Spirit?

@Steve,

My question becomes are we accountable for our desires or for acting upon them? 1st Corinthians 10:13. I believe we are judged for what we do(or don't do James 1:4).

Then how does that fit in with Jesus' statements in Matt 5:27-28

You have heard that it was said, "Do not commit adultery." But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Seems to me like Jesus is equating our thoughts and desires with actions. Consider the Rich Young Ruler; he came to Jesus and could legitimately stand in front of the Saviour and say "I've successfully kept all the actions required by the law and abstained from all the actions prohibited by the law", but he still went away sad. Why? Because his heart, his desires, his thoughts, were not in the right place. Further, in the Old Testament, we see that God is indeed concerned with our heart. Recall the narrative in 1 Samuel:

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

I would argue that God is indeed concerned with not only our outward actions, but also with our inward thoughts and desires.

I've been tracking this discussion for a few days now, and I would like to offer an example of my own. Sorry if this is a bit of a confessional, but I'm really burdened and don't know how to deal...

Anyway, I was exposed to pornography at a very young age, probably around 10 yrs old. I believe that was the start of an addiction, and I didn't even realize it was an addiction and a sinful lifestyle until much later in life, and by then it was too late to really meaningfully combat it. It had already such a hold on me.

I was saved at a young age as well, around 12 or 13, and ever since then I've really struggled to reconcile how can God save me but then still let me struggle with this. Why doesn't he just take away these sinful desires, which have led to all kinds of sin? How do I stop doing these things I can't seem to keep myself from doing? How can I be saved and still do these things? I really do believe that I'm a sinner and that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and I've committed myself to following Him, but then why do I still struggle with this crap? It's caused major issues in my marriage, and even to engage in acts with other men, and I certainly don't want it to continue. I want it to stop, and NOW! I mean, I have gotten progressively better in that I'm not slavering over the computer every hour of every day, but still every so often, a binge hits, and then I'm back to square one. Somehow I don't think that's what God intends in trying to live a holy life; like, it's not horseshoes, right? You either do, or you don't, there's not an almost...

One of the observations I have made is that I am terrified of my friends and family and church "finding out." I see a lot of opportunity for the church to be very judgemental in a very public and humiliating way. I've been in several churches of all kinds due to having moved around quite a bit, and each church has given me the same impression. I don't need someone to sit above me as judge, jury, executioner, and publicist; I also don't need someone to sit there and tell me "that's all right, you're fine just the way you are". Neither is right, and I don't see any way in today's church to avoid one or the other...

Anyway, I think this is maybe one of the things to think about when figuring out how to "show love to homosexuals".

==How would you affirm that the spirit is supposed to be informed by the Spirit?==

Because the Word of God says it's supposed to be informed by the Spirit.

MIJN

The Word of God says all spirits are supposed to be informed by the Spirit (Holy Spirit)? Where?

rob,

Romans 7:7-25

I understand your situation. A lot of Christians have other sins that are more socially acceptable (greed and materialism). Don't stop fighting. Stay continually in prayer and God can deliver you from this evil.

The word, "it," as in "it's," as I used it, indicates singular and doesn't refer to "all."

What I wrote is that it, the spirit, the spirit of a man, is supposed to be informed by the Spirit. This is the Message of the Word of God throughout.

MIJN

"the spirit of a man" either implies one man or all men. The truth is the Bible implies throughout that some men's spirits are informed by the Holy Spirit and some are not. The Holy Spirit came after Jesus ascended to Heaven. Moses was dealing with God not in the Holy Spirit form. Yes the Holy Spirit is God. However, was Esau's spirit informed by the Holy Spirit? Your statement assumes that all people throughout history have been spoken to by the Holy Spirit. I know that's not true, but it really wasn't my original point.

We sin because we are sinners. Original sin is the condition of every person at birth before any sin is committed. After we are born we can then commit sins. Being a sinner indicates a fallen nature. I really don't think there is a debate worthy subject here it was just something that caught my attention, that's all.

Those who sin sin in unrighteousness. They sin because they are living in unrighteousness. They surrender to the impulse to sin. Thus, they are sinners.

We sin because we are sinners.

Being a sinner doesn't "cause" one to sin. He is a sinner because he sins. Sinning is the result of unrighteousness.

MIJN

How does that view comport with original sin? Sin begins within. If you are born guilty before you do anything then you were guilty before you sinned. You sin because you are a sinner. You could be arguing from the point of Pelagian error, but this is really just a matter of simple deduction. We sin because we are sinners.

Furthermore, unrighteous is a sin.

Sorry, that was supposed to be unrighteousness.

==You sin because you are a sinner.==

No, I'm a sinner because I sin. If I sin, I sin out of unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is not a sin, rather a condition from which sinning is certain.

==How does that view comport with original sin?==

I was conceived in iniquity, born in sin. I inherited the sinful nature, thank you Adam and Eve, not from my father and mother. It was passed down from A and E.

The sinful nature is unrighteousness. It is out that unrighteousness that I am capable of sinning. Unrighteousness enables sinning.

This is why we must be born again, to recover relationship with the Father, through Christ and HIS Righteousness. Through HIS Righteousness, we are saved.

MIJN

It is out that unrighteousness that I am capable of sinning.

Sin follows as a result of a sinful nature. That is what I've been saying all along. I believe we're saying the same thing.

Uhhh, maybe.

Mijn,

If what you are saying is correct, we are sinners because we sin, than logically one could say that if I stopped sinning I am no longer a sinner. Can anyone stop being a sinner?

Rob,

Your story touches my heart and it was very brave of you to post it. Please remember that God's word offers lasting hope, effective change for you, and practical methods to overcome your challenge. Please read 1st Corinthians 10:13 and Ephesians 2:8-9.

Also please remember that "God doesn't love you because your good, he makes you good because He loves you." C.S. Lewis

==If what you are saying is correct, we are sinners because we sin...==

If one does not sin, he's not a sinner. If one does not rob a bank, he is not a bank robber.

==...than [sic] logically one could say that if I stopped sinning I am no longer a sinner.==

Thanks to Adam and Eve, we have a sin nature.

However, those who are born again are dead to that nature, dead to the works of that nature because Christ defeated the works of that nature, but not the nature itself. Grace defeats the works of the sin nature.

==Can anyone stop being a sinner?==

Those who are born again make mistakes, thank you Adam and Eve.

Faith and repentance reverse the effects of the mistake; there is now no condemnation. No guilt.

To those who rely on the Law, we cannot stop sinning, and, so, to them, we are sinners no matter what. And that may be so; but we are no longer guilty, and that IS so.

So, we can't stop sinning, but we can stop being guilty.

The Law is the "ministration of condemnation" and death. "The letter kills." There is no Grace/grace in the Law.

It is only the Devil who condemns.

Grace is the ministry of Truth and Life.

=="God doesn't love you because your good, he makes you good because He loves you." C.S. Lewis ==


God doesn't make us good. There is only One WHo is good.

He makes us Righteous.

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