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Sexuality in Western culture is a mess. Within the last hundred years or so, we’ve devolved from a society that had, broadly speaking, a general understanding of, and compliance with, the Bible’s parameters for sex to today’s sexual mores that barely stop short of child molestation and bestiality and permits – even encourages – nearly every other form of perversion.
It can be difficult to know how to approach these issues which have been suddenly thrust upon us, and with which the average person – Christian or not – has very little experience. How are Christians to think about, believe, and address these issues in our families, churches, and communities? Do we just go with the “live and let live” flow of modern society? No. As with every other issue in life, our thinking, our words, and our actions must be shaped by and in submission to the authority of Scripture. Not public opinion. Not political agendas. Not our own personal feelings, opinions, and experiences. Scripture.
The Bible makes sexuality and gender identity very simple for us. God created two sexes of people– male and female¹. God created marriage to be between one man and one woman. God created human sexuality and confined its use to a man and a woman who are married to each other. Every form of gender identity or human sexuality that falls outside these parameters is sin.
Bearing that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the sexual issues impacting the world, the church, and Christians today and how we can respond to them biblically.
Get the log out
The Bible is very clear that we’re not to be hypocritical when dealing with sin. Scripture’s parameters regarding sexual sin are extremely narrow and govern not only our actions, but our words and thoughts as well. That leaves me guilty. How about you? Where’s your mind when you’re reading that romance novel or watching that steamy movie? Are you using pornography? Flirting with that good looking co-worker even though you’re married? Using double entendres or other suggestive remarks? Exchanging inappropriate e-mails with another man? Fantasizing about sexual encounters with someone you’re not married to? Going farther than you should, physically, on a date? Before we start thinking about addressing the sins others commit, we first need to make sure our own hearts, hands, and mouths are clean by repenting from any sexual sin we’re participating in.
Sweep around your church’s front door
It’s been pointed out by many lost people, that the church is oh so willing to take a strong stand against news-making sexual issues, but sexual sin inside the church is sometimes swept under the rug. They’re right. How does your church deal with an unmarried couple who are cohabiting? A pastor who uses pornography? A church member who is having an affair? A youth director who’s molesting children? A deacon who uses foul language and makes sexual jokes? Does your church practice biblical church discipline when there’s sin in the camp and comply with sexual predation laws? Do you have screening processes in place to protect the children of your church? Does your church teach against all forms of sexual sin?
It should go without saying, but since this is a “back to basics” series it bears repeating: Christ expects Christians to be kind to people – all people – and to treat them with human dignity, respect, and biblical love. Not just in the way we talk to people, but in the way we talk to each other about people. People who live in sexual sin are still made in the image of God and deeply loved by Him. Remember, it was God’s kindness that led us to repentance.
There’s no such thing as a “gay Christian”
Or a transgender Christian, or a stripper Christian, or a bank robbing Christian, or liar Christian. Qualifying someone’s Christianity by their pet sin is an oxymoron. Christians, by definition, are people who sorrowfully turn from their sin and become completely new sin-hating creations through the power of the shed blood of Christ. Christians are characterized by lifelong repentance and the desire not to sin out of love for their Savior.
and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5:15-17
Or do you not know that the unrighteous 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 revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Are there people who are genuinely saved but still struggle against sexual sin? Of course. Every truly born again person struggles against sin for the duration of her natural life. But the Bible knows nothing of a willfully unrepentant conversion to Christ or life in Christ (regardless of a previous “decision” for Christ, participation in baptism, etc.). It is a contradiction in terms and simply does not exist. Nobody gets to carry her sin with her past the cross.
Tell the good news
People enslaved by sexual sin, especially those who think they’re Christians, need the good news of the gospel just like people enslaved to any other sin. God can and does save people out of homosexuality, transgenderism, promiscuity, and all other forms of sexual immorality, as the 1 Corinthians 6 passage above makes abundantly clear. His arm is not too short to save anyone.
Withholding church membership, ordinances, and leadership
Local church membership, ordinances (baptism and the Lord’s Supper), and leadership positions within the church are restricted to Christians, because the church is, by definition, the body of Christ: regenerated believers. It’s certainly fine for any non-believer to attend services, classes, or events at your church as long as she isn’t being disruptive or pushing unbiblical beliefs, but people who are living unrepentantly in any sin are not Christians and should not be invited to become members of the church, participate in baptism or the Lord’s Supper, and certainly should not be given any position of service or leadership in the church.
Going to the chapel if they’re going to get “married”
Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or receptions, showers, bachelor parties, housewarmings, etc.) for any reason. (When it becomes legal, this will also apply to plural marriages (polygamy) and other unbiblical forms of “marriage”.) Regardless of your motives for attending, it appears to others and to the same sex couple as though you approve of their sin.
Often, the reason Christians will give for feeling they should attend a same sex wedding is that they are afraid declining to attend will cause the couple to cut off the relationship with them, closing the door to any future opportunity to share the gospel. But if you’re close enough to the couple to be invited to the wedding, shouldn’t you have already shared the gospel with them? Do you not trust that God can save someone, either immediately or in the future, from one instance of sharing the gospel? This person’s salvation does not rest on your shoulders. It can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit, and only in His timing. And whether you have or haven’t yet shared the gospel with the couple, what could your attendance at the wedding accomplish other than creating confusion? How can you support their “marriage” by attending the wedding and then turn around later and tell them they need to repent of this sin?
Additionally, attending the wedding sends the message to your children, family, church, friends, co-workers and others that you approve of the sin of homosexuality. We all have people watching us to see whether we stand with Christ or with the world. It’s imperative that we set a godly example.
Yes, if you decline to attend the wedding, you might lose your relationship with that homosexual friend or loved one. But Christ calls us to separate ourselves from the world and be loyal to Him even if it costs us everything- including those we love the most:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
The gospel divides. And Christians are always called to stand on Christ’s side of the divide.
The Wedding Singer
For many of the same reasons Christians should not attend same sex weddings (or other unbiblical forms of “marriage”), Christian wedding service providers (singers, photographers, bakers, wedding consultants, venues, etc.) – and certainly churches – should decline to provide services for same sex weddings. Doing so facilitates sin, is unloving to the couple (who needs to hear the gospel and repent), and is disloyal to Christ. Christ died for this sin. How can someone who calls herself a Christian play any part in helping people celebrate a sin that nailed her Savior to the cross? Yes, you might lose your business. Is Christ worth that to you?
Boys will be BOYS
It is neither loving nor compassionate to help people participating in transgender or other gender identity sin pretend to be the opposite sex or several sexes or no sex at all. While it’s not a good idea to go around speculating about the biological sex of perfect strangers, if you know a person well enough to know that he was born male or she was born female, you should not be using referent terminology that indicates otherwise. A biological male is a “him” not a “her” or a “them.” A biological female is a “her” not a “ze” or “fae”. Christians should also not be participating in other activities that further gender identity sins such as helping a biological male shop for female clothing, attending “coming out” parties, referring to “pregnant men” when the pregnant person is biologically female, etc.
Policy and Procedure
One of the main ways the sexual immorality agenda is being advanced is through lawsuits. If your church won’t allow a same sex wedding in its facilities, the church could be sued. We’ve already seen many instances of wedding service providers who have been sued for declining to provide services for same sex weddings. Laws are now in effect which attempt to force businesses to use the preferred pronouns of those in gender identity sin. It’s a good idea for churches, Christian businesses and other Christian organizations to study up on the legislation surrounding sexual sin, and put in place any possible legal protections. Does your church, business, or organization have the proper written policies in place? You might want to take a look at the Nashville Statement as an example or template.
Sexual sin, whatever form it may take, is just that: sin. People who participate in sexual sin are not a special sect of society. They are sinners just like everybody else. They need love and the gospel just like everybody else. As Christians, we must stand firm on what the Bible says about sexual sin and call those who are enslaved by it out of darkness and into His glorious light. We must offer them the peace, the hope, and the cleansing from sin that only Christ can give.
¹Yes, I’m aware that the Fall brought with it genetic disorders and congenital defects that can cause abnormalities in human genitalia. These are extremely rare and require correction and treatment by medical professionals. It is also beyond the scope of this article, which refers to the overwhelming majority of those who choose to participate in sexual immorality or the mutilation of their bodies.
A Review of Single, Gay, Christian by Gabe Hughes
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