FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 17, number 51, December 20, 2018
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.”
It goes without saying that we must have compassion for all who are outside of union with Christ, including the homosexual. I think you know that I have ministered extensively in the past to the homosexual community, seeking lovingly to make known to them the hope that we all have in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the transforming power of the gospel in our personal lives. We must be open to all kinds of people coming to our churches.
Having said that however, the effort of the homosexual advocacy “ministry” in the UK, founded by Gospel Coalition editor Sam Allberry, called <livingout.org> and their LGBTQ+ Audit simply will not do. Under the heading, “How biblically inclusive is your Church?”, the website writes that at their Identity in Christ conference with Tim and Kathy Keller in June, 2018 they launched their Living Out Church Audit, a tool to help church leadership teams answer this key question: how biblically inclusive is your church? They say that unsurprisingly their focus is on those who might identify as LGBTQ+/same sex attracted. They say that Jesus included all in a counter-cultural way and they are hoping this audit will help churches follow his lead.
The website lists ten statements, to which one is to answer “True/False/Not Sure,” in order to get the church member thinking on the topic. Here are the ten statements:
1. Your church family meetings include people who could be labeled LGBTQ+ or same sex attracted. True/False/Not Sure.
2. Derogatory language or stereotyping attitudes toward sexual minority groups would not be tolerated either up-front or in conversations between church family members. True/False/Not Sure.
3. All in your Church know that we all experience sexual brokenness and all are being encouraged to confess our own sexual sins. True/False/Not Sure.
4. Same-sex relationships are never mentioned in isolation from other sinful patterns of behavior, or from the forgiveness offered to all through faith in Christ. True/False/Not Sure.
5. All in your church are hearing the same call to radical self-sacrifice of themselves in response to God’s giving of himself in Jesus. True/False/Not Sure.
6. All in your church are encouraged to develop an identity founded first and foremost on their union with Christ. True/False/Not Sure.
7. A godly Christian’s sexual orientation would never prevent them from exercising their spiritual gifts or serving in leadership in your church. True/False/Not Sure.
8. God’s gifts of singleness or marriage are equally promoted, valued, and practically supported in your church family’s life together. True/False/Not Sure.
9. Church family members instinctively share meals, homes, holidays, festivals, money, children with others from different backgrounds and life situations to them. True/ False/Not Sure.
10. No one would be pressured into expecting or seeking any “healing” (their quotation marks, not mine) or change that God has not promised any of us until the renewal of all things. True/False/Not Sure.
One or two of these statements are not problematic. Take number one for example. The church of Jesus should be open to all kinds of people. Sinners of all stripes should be welcomed to attend church services to hear of the soul saving, life transforming gospel of grace. Unconverted sinners, no matter what their stripe, however, cannot be members of the church nor should they partake of the sacraments. They are not yet in Christ and thus cannot receive the blessings of baptism or the Lord’s Supper in their unregenerate state.
Statement number two is pretty good too until it mentions “sexual minorities.” We must resist such unbiblical language. The Bible knows no such category.
Statement number three is a problem. It assumes that everyone in the church experiences sexual brokenness. This should, of course, raise the question, “What is meant by brokenness?” By brokenness, many today in the church seem to mean that people are really messed up, that they have issues. In the Bible, however, brokenness means deeply convicted, leveled, burdened by one’s sin, seeking God for deliverance and cleansing (Psalm 51:16,17, Isaiah 6:5, 66:2). Not every one in the church who has sexual sin is burdened enough to seek God for cleansing and deliverance.
Statement number four is also problematic. It seeks to equate homosexual sin with any other kind of sin. However, the Bible makes clear that homosexual sin (and same-sex attraction is homosexual lust, pure and simple) is perversion of the natural order (Romans 1:26,27) and abomination (Leviticus 18:22).
On the surface, statement number five seems okay until one understands the context of the statement. <livingout.org> states on their website that the audit is directed to the LGBTQ+ same-sex attracted community. Since <livingout.org> believes that one’s sexual orientation is from one’s birth (more about this in my comments on statement numbers seven and ten) then clearly they believe that to live as a celibate homosexual, attracted to people of one’s same sex, but not acting upon one’s desires, is a sacrifice of Christian holiness. Can a Christian converted out of homosexuality be tempted to fall back into that perversion? Of course he can, but he admits such desires to be sin and grieves over his sin. He mortifies it and flees from it. He never accepts the status quo of his sinful propensities. This is not what <livingout.org> has in mind.
Statement number six seems to be acceptable, assuming, of course, that the church members are truly born again. A true believer will want to focus his attention on his union with Christ. This supersedes everything else.
Statement number seven, however, is very problematic. The folks at <livingout.org> give up their subterfuge with this statement. It is framed as a given that “sexual orientation” is a reality. This is utter folly. One is not born a homosexual anymore than one is born a murderer or thief. There are no such things as Christian homosexuals, Christian murderers, or Christian thieves. Joel Belz in World Magazine a few months back correctly observed that offering positions of church leadership to people who embrace and celebrate sexual disorders, all on the promise they will be chaste, is foolhardy. He cites the Roman Catholic Church as “exhibit A” in this regard.
On the surface, statement number eight seems okay, but I am skeptical of their genuine intent. Five years ago I would have had no problem with this statement. Of course, all people, whether single or married, should be accepted and promoted in the church. But with Obergefell legalizing same sex unions (these are not marriages because God’s design for marriage is clearly and unequivocally between one man and one woman) all that has changed. The folks at <livingout.org> clearly want us to accept and promote same-sex couples in our churches.
Sorry, statement number nine is also problematic. Again, on the surface this sounds okay. After all, surely we are to be neighborly and invite people to our Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners. But what happens when you invite a same-sex couple to your Thanksgiving feast and they are holding hands, and later, as you tuck your six year old into bed for the night, he wants to know why those two men were holding hands like you and daddy do. And to go further, what does the phrase “share meals, homes, holidays, festivals, money, ‘children’ with others from different backgrounds and life situations to them” mean? How, exactly, are we expected to share our children with homosexuals?
The worst of all the statements, however, is statement number ten. Clearly <livingout.org> believes that one’s sexual orientation is a given, that we are born with whatever sexual proclivity we have, and that to change one’s orientation, is not only impossible but clearly a violation of that person’s basic identity. This observation is unbiblical. A Christian, one who has the life of God in his soul, one who is born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away, and the new has come. He walks in newness of life. He has all he needs pertaining to life and godliness. Consequently, he is to put off the unfruitful deeds of darkness and he is to put on the armor of light. He is not to live in carousing and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity or sensuality, or in strife or jealously. Instead he is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts (Romans 13:12-14).
The mainstreaming of homosexual perversion into the church is not going away. What is the solution? Unless we evangelize the homosexual, adulterer, fornicator, drunkard, con-artist, liar, thief, and every other kind of sinner; unless God causes them to be born again by the Spirit, then there is no hope for any of them. The answer, my friends, as in every situation, is to preach the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And always remember—while you were helpless and ungodly, Christ Jesus died for you. His person and work is the only remedy for sin of any kind.