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Homosexuality

2006 April 12
by Mike

A couple weeks ago I said I’d write more on the issue of homosexuality soon. Since then I keep telling myself that I don’t have the time to write as thoughtfully and carefully as I want to. And I still don’t have the time. But, I’m going to throw out some thoughts anyway.

1. I don’t think very many people choose to be gay. I never chose to be straight. I just was. It just happened. And it’s the same way with those who are attracted to people of the same sex. They didn’t come down to a big decision at, say, age 16. For most of them, it was confusing, upsetting, mysterious. Most tried to pretend they didn’t have that attraction. They tried faking it, ignoring it, hiding it. Some even gave it the best try they could, went to a Christian college, married a good Christian person, and . . . remained attracted to people of the opposite sex.

2. I am pretty skeptical about most big “conversion” stories. Some think that it’s just a matter of repentence or prayer or exorcism or miraculous healing. And certainly our God is a big God and can do anything he wants. But I just haven’t seen many. I’ve known a few with powerful stories of being released partially or even completely from the struggle. But most have prayed, repented, struggled, counseled, hated themselves, and prayed more. No change. Not because they didn’t love God enough, not because they’re hardened sinners, not because they’re part of some movement to undermine family values.

3. Speaking of family values, I don’t buy the rhetoric that homosexuality is primarily responsible for tearing apart American families. That would be divorce. The breaking of promises by men and women in marriages is ripping apart our families. (On rare occasions, these promises are broken because one partner is leaving for someone else of the same sex. But that’s the exception.) The church must take seriously the words of discipleship on covenant keeping in marriage (e.g., Matthew 5:31-32), while showing compassion to those whose lives have been broken.

4. And speaking of compassion, where is it? Where does all this angry, hateful speech come from? When the Soulforce group was on ACU campus, they were amazed — stunned — that they were shown basic Christian compassion. How did we get to a place where that is surprising? Even here, there were flashes of what their lives are like. One ACU grad student had a sticker on to identify himself as one of the hosts. But after he delivered some students to a Sunday evening service, on the way out some students passed him, and thinking the ID meant he was a part of Soulforce said in a threatening tone, “F—ing fag.” All right, then. Have a good church service. Praise your little hearts out before the one who became flesh and dwelt among us, hanging out with the “tax collectors and sinners.”

5. It would help a lot if we could quit treating this like some special sin that deserves our fullest repulsion and rebuke. Sin is sin. When I read Ephesians 4-5, e.g., the sin that I hear spotlighted again and again is “greed.” But we’ve pretty much come to terms with that. A person can build bigger and bigger barns, they can participate fully in good old American consumerism (regardless of the consequences to the world), and we smile and congratulate them, hoping they’ll tithe. It would be so much easier for brothers and sisters struggling with same-sex attraction to face their temptations if they knew they were safe to share their inner lives with others. For a couple years, I led a group of guys in a weekly meeting. I was the only one who doesn’t struggle with it. Some were single; some were married. All were wanting a safe place where they could seek purity. All said that there is no way they could share this struggle before their elders, among their friends, or in their Bible classes without being completely ostracized and cut off. They knew from experience. And yet these were some of the best men I’ve ever met. They didn’t ask to be gay, didn’t want to be gay, had tried everything possible to be released from the temptation. But they all said that the most powerful resource to them was the care and compassion of other men in a group like that. Being with other men in a safe environment, they told me, made them less tempted — not more.

6. But that isn’t to ignore homosexuality as sin. While I think there are some powerful things being written about the hermeneutics involved — challenging things that we must address — I still believe scripture makes it clear that God intends for sexual relationships to be enjoyed between a man and a woman in marriage. (For what seems to me to be a convincing case, see Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament; Stanley Grenz, Welcoming But Not Affirming, and William Webb, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals.) It isn’t a sin to be a homosexual (in orientation — something we don’t choose); but homosexual behavior is wrong. As Hays writes, The biblical witness against homosexual practices is univocal.” One’s stance against homosexual behavior doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with homophobic feelings.

7. The church should not endorse homosexual marriages, but should advocate (out of justice and compassion) for full civil rights for gay couples. Just because we may not endorse another person’s decisions doesn’t mean we don’t advocate for their protection and civil rights. Here people try to make comparisons with the endorsement of all lifestyles — as if our protection of civil rights for gays means that we need to protect the civil rights of pedophiliacs. Fortunately, most lawmakers see through that smoke.

8. Does this endorsement of heterosexual sex in marriage put a special, unfair burden on those who are gay in their orientation? This is from Hays: “Here a nuanced answer must be given. While Paul regarded celibacy as a charisma, he did not therefore suppose that those lacking the charisma were free to indulge their sexual desires outside marriage. Heterosexually oriented persons are also called to abstinence from sex unless they marry (1 Cor. 7:8-9). The only difference — admittedly a salient one — in the case of homosexually oriented persons is that they do not have the option of homosexual ‘marriage.’ So where does that leave them? It leaves them in precisely the same situation as the heterosexual who would like to marry but cannot find an appropriate partner (and there are many such): summoned to a difficult, costly obedience, while ‘groaning’ for the ‘redemption of our bodies’ (Rom. 8:23). Anyone who does not recognize this as a description of authentic Christian existence has never struggled seriously with the imperatives of the gospel, which challenge and frustrate our ‘natural’ impusles in countless ways. Much of the contemporary debate turns on this last point. Many of the advocates of unqualified acceptance of homosexuality seem to be operating with a simplistic anthropology that assumes whatever is must be good: they have a theology of creation but no theology of sin and redemption.”

9. Is there a place for gays and lesbians in church? Absolutely. While we continue to advocate the biblical view of sexuality (abstinence outside of marriage and faithfulness inside of marriage), we recognize that we are a gathering of stumbling, bumbling seekers of Christ.

From Hays: “Can homosexual persons be members of the Christian church? This is rather like asking, ‘Can envious persons be members of the church?’ (cf. Rom. 1:29) or ‘Can alcoholics be members of the church?’ De facto, of course, they are. Unless we think that the church is a community of sinless perfection, we must acknowledge that persons of homosexual orientation are welcome along with other sinners in the company of those who trust in the God who justifies the ungodly (Rom. 4:5). If they are not welcome, I will have to walk out the door along with them, leaving in the sanctuary only those entitled to cast the first stone.”

From Grenz: “Even if we find such liaisons questionable, we might nevertheless assert that the church ought to minister to, and even provide a spiritual home for, homosexual persons. Regardless of the moral status of homosexual behavior, lesbians and gays are people whom God values, for whom Jesus died, and to whom the gospel must come. Further, the church is composed of sinners — redeemed sinners to be sure — but sinners nonetheless. It consists of people who are seeking to do God’s will in the midst of the brokenness of life. The church can only assist people to overcome sin and live in obedience to God if they receive the ministry of, and perhaps even participate in, the believing community. This is as true for gays and lesbians as for anyone else. . . . The church, therefore, ought not only to minister to all but also to welcome all into membership on the same basis. And this basis consists of personal reception of salvation by faith through Jesus Christ together with personal commitment to discipleship. At the same time, participation in the faith community involves a give-and-take. Discipleship demands that each member understand that he or she is accountable to the community in all dimensions of life, including the sexual. As one homosexual believer wrote to Richard Hays, ‘Anyone who joins such a community should know that it is a place of transformation, of discipline, of learning, and not merely a place to be comforted or indulged.’ Because it is a community of discipleship, the church in turn has a responsibility both to nurture and also to admonish and discipline the wayward in its midst, including those who are not living in sexual chastity, whatever the exact nature of the unchaste behavior may be.”

10. To me this isn’t first and foremost an “issue.” I’m writing about people I know and love. I want them to be safe enough to share their inner struggles; I want their wisdom through years of suffering to be shared with the church. I hope their triumphs can be offered as a witness to the power of the Spirit and their failings to be offered as a reminder that there is a serious dimension of “not yet” that the church tends to ignore. I want to be able to have them hear the words “go and sin no more,” and I want to be able to receive from them the same admonition, for my life is so full of shortcomings.

141 Responses leave one →
  1. melissa permalink
    April 14, 2006

    Heather, Dear Heather, my husband has had a pornography addiction our entire 10+years of marriage. It killed me inside. It destroyed me. I began to hate and resent him for what he was doing , for you see, his profession had him and myself constantly in the public eye, not only in our community, but in our church as well. His profession was very ego inftating. The more he was praised publicly for his service(physican), and the more our spirtual community lifted him up, the starker the contrast to me was of his public life and his life with me and our children in our home.

    Heather, I began to control him, contol everthing he watched, said, thought , and the list could go on.

    I felt empty all those years. I felt degraded. I blamed him for everthing that was wrong in my life. And I snapped. I had an affair.
    I became the person I hated in him.

    But here is my point. All the while I focused on and tried to judge my husbands obvious sin, I was blinded to my own. You see, during all that time I secretely desired another man, but it was obvious to No one. It was hidden. Heather, God knew my secret sin. In my righteousness I had to fall. And when I did, Praise God, my husband lovingly and graciously forgave me with no price to pay. In my righteousness, I had to see that THE SAME BLOOD THAT WASHED ME OF MY SIN, WASHED HIM OF HIS. I HAD TO SEE THE CROSS IN ITS GREATEST INTENSITY. I WAS HUMBLED. I REMAIN HUMBLED.

    HEATHER, WHAT SECRET SIN DO YOU HAVE THAT ONLY GOD SEES?
    WHAT IS SO HIDDEN IN YOU THAT YOU WOULD AMPLIFY HOMOSEXUALITY OR ANY SIN OVER THAT OF YOUR OWN?

    HEATHER, STEP OFF THE STAGE OF SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND JOIN ME AND YOUR HUSBAND THE ADULTERERS, MY HUSBAND THE PORNOGRAPHER, THE GLUTTONUOUS (Sp?) THE HOMOSEXUALS, THE ARROGANT, THE LIARS, you get the point….JOIN US AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS, WHERE, AS THE SONG SAYS..THERE IS ONLY LOVE AND ONLY GRACE.

    I LOVE YOU DEAR SISTER IN CHRIST.

  2. melissa permalink
    April 14, 2006

    Karen Anne J,

    I believe the church can be “seen as a hospital for the sick” ONLY if the church admits they are sick as well-assuming you mean sin when you say sick.

    TO PARAPHRASE MAX Lucado….HE SAID SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT, IF YOU GO BANKRUPT, YOU HAVE TO ADMIT YOU ARE BROKE, TO GO TO HEAVEN YOU HAVE TO ADMIT YOU ARE HELLBOUND.

    Let the church be the hospital, let’s just admit we are all just a building full of “sick” people and that we all need healing…not just the ones that come in with loud sirens and an ambulance.

  3. April 14, 2006

    Great post, Mike. I’ve known a number of Christian men who struggled with homosexuality. I hurt for them when I hear how some Christians talk about them.

    I agree with you in principle on the civil liberties issue. We have have the right to practice our Christian beliefs and principles. Others should have the right to practice theirs. They aren’t violating the rights of others by being gay, so they should have the right to practice what they want. Even get married.

    But, I have concerns about adopting children. Doesn’t marriage open the door for more homosexuals adopting children? Can I vote with a clear conscience for that possibility? I couldn’t vote for something that would make it easier for unmarried heterosexual couples to adopt. I’ll admit, I don’t have a full understanding adoption law, so my concerns could be unwarranted, or too late.

  4. April 14, 2006

    Hi Heather,

    Don’t know if you’ll read this since this post is 2 days old now. I can’t imagine the pain of a cheating mate, but I do know the pain of being hurt by other people. I also know how debilitating it is for the individual who longs for their punishment; vengeance is the next door neighbor to hatred. One of the best forms of freedom is to be freed from the thought of vengeance—the thought of a hell for evil-doers. To truly desire the safety and well-being–in this life and a future one–of all dirty, rotten, filthy, stinkin’ humans is to understand the Messiah. “Please forgive them; they don’t know what they are doing.” I think he meant it. . .and I think they were forgiven.

  5. April 14, 2006

    Wow, Mike….

    I’m praising God right now. I thought I was alone in my straight, Christian views re: homosexuality, and to hear a leader of the church say what’s been on my heart for years…WOW.

    I’m in CO, and didn’t have the fortune of going to a private school like ACU, and I always thought I’d rather be a light in a dark place, like I was at CSU, than go to a place filled with narrow-minded Christians from the Bible belt – how’s that for my own narrow-mindedness? God has a way of putting me in my place, ;)

    Anyhow…I didn’t read ALL the commentary here, but here’s the way I’ve looked at homosexuality:
    1- since the fall in Eden, Satan has had influence on the earth – he’s the master and creator of chaos, strife, and hurt – not our God!
    2 – I believe like you do that gays don’t choose this way, they are this
    way, just as someone with cancer doesn’t choose that way, they are that way.
    3 – God does not create them that way, but b/c we live in a fallen world and are a fallen people, we all get dealt a deck of temptations, for some it’s an addictive personality, and when paired with alcohol/drugs/porn/gambling/etc, it’s horribly destructive. Same thing with homosexuality. I understand this very well, as I have an addictive/dependent personality as well as a genetic predisposition to depression.
    4 – Sin is sin, and I find it unfortunate that those who choose open homosexuality are condemned by the church, often filled with those who are blatantly sinning with pornography but keep it secret.

    I could go on, but you’ve got quite a fan base here…I’m one of few ;)
    Keep spreading the word with God’s love and truth!

  6. Heather permalink
    April 14, 2006

    Martin,
    I don’t want vengeance on my ex. Me and my children have been praying for him to come to Christ since before he left. And I believe he is on his way. I don’t want anyone to go to Hell but some people will or there would be no reason for it. Yes, Jesus died for everyone’s forgiveness but you have to want and ask for it. Also you have to mean it in your heart. You can’t sin, say, “oh I’m sorry forgive me” and do it again and over and over. You have to truly be sorry for your sin, no matter what that sin is. You said”…They know not what they do…,” that is completely different than someone consiously choosing to repetedly sin. Of course we all mess up sometimes on the same thing but if we try as hard as we can with all of our hearts, mind, body, and soul then it will get easier and eventually God will conquer that sin in us.

  7. Lee permalink
    April 14, 2006

    I SO agree with you Heather! (see my previous posts). I am struggling to explain divorce/remarriage/divorce/remarriage to my children. (our situation is a family member.) The sad part to this is not many people here on this board are agreeing with us. I know God is love, I know he forgives, but he DOES NOT want us living in our sin day after day when we know it is wrong.
    I don’t want my children to see this “abuse” of divorce for personal pleasure and I’m sorry if I offend anyone but those who cheat KNOW it’s wrong and how easy to say “I’m sorry”, ruin your previous marriage and in my opinion and I think God’s (isn’t this what the bible says, not just me!) continue to live in sin with their “new love.”
    In our family situation this happened not once, twice, but three times to the same person. What are we teaching our children? I saw my grandmother sob for months and months over this after my aunt cheated and left my uncle. She divorced, remarried/left that one too, and is currently married to her current……When I sin ( and I do daily), I repent, ask God to forgive me, and I would hope and pray if someone saw me repeat these sins day after day after day who knew my struggles, would come to me as the BIBLE says and if I don’t listen, go to the elders. It is so hard to type what you truly want to say on these blogs!!
    I so appreciate this open dialogue.
    Mike- waiting on your comment! Again, in #3 you said homosexuality is not what is ruining our families, divorce is. I agree.
    In Him,
    Lee

  8. Melissa permalink
    April 14, 2006

    Heather, I have an apology to make to you. In my extreme exhaustion, I responded to your post. I wish now I had chosen my words more carefully, perhaps admitted I was mostly preaching to myself. I was judging your motives from just a few words you wrote in a small paragraph. Please forgive me. I cannot imaging the pain of having a cheating spouse, and especially one who has left. In my own righteousness, I was judging the validity of your pain. I speak in my flesh with my toes peaking out of my mouth often. I am so sorry. I will pray for you, your husband and children, and my own need to comment, instead of falling on my face and seeking his “comments”.

  9. April 16, 2006

    All the comments that I’ve read have been encouraging because each writer has written what he/she feels or understands with love and concern. And, Mike, we do need to show love to those struggling with homosexuality or what ever sin they struggle with. Repentance is a definite, and many in our country don’t understand it very well. A concept difficult for me to completely grasp is surrender (I find sometimes I just don’t want to.) Then there is God’s sovereignty. Wow! I pray all of us will continue to grow in Christ, to love as He loves, to call sin what it is, and to seek to help one another repent and live for Him.

    A thought: Each of us are tempted by our own lust, whether it is from the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, or the pride of life, these 3 cover it all, I think. If we will just be honest with ourselves, we all have sinned in one of these ways, (in whatever area); we struggle with something. If we will just remember that our sin separated us from God, then we will have compassion for our fellow man and see his need for Christ’s forgiveness. We will love him and care for his needs. We will want for him to have freedom in Christ just as we have received. We will remember our own hopelessness. We will have the desires of wanting “all men to be saved” as God does. Without Christ, where would we be? Those of us who have not sinned in this way, or who have not committed adultery, murder, gluttony, uncontrolled anger…? Even if all we ever have done was grumbled or told a half truth? Without Christ we were lost, as well.

    Let us rejoice in our salvation, and share Jesus with the lost.

    If I understand correctly, the admonition of the epistles is written to the saved who are struggling with sin, not to those who are lost. We must make disciples (teach “Christ and Him crucified”), baptize, and then teach all that he [Jesus] commanded… (Matt. 28:18-20). :)

    Again, I say, Rejoice, and let us help a hurting world. God bless all of you.

  10. April 16, 2006

    Mike,

    Thank you for the honest attempt to bring grace and truth together in one voice. I believe any sexual relationship outside the marriage of one man and woman is sin. But I also want to treat those whose struggle with sin is sexual in nature with as much grace and compassion as possible from my yet-to-be-completely sanctified humanity. And I surely want to treat those who struggle with sexual sin as the same as I do others whose sin struggle is pride, greed, idolatry, etc… AND I WANT TO TREAT PEOPLE WITH SEXUAL SIN STRUGGLE THE SAME WAY I WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED WITH SUCH A STRUGGLE.

    So thanks for helping me think a little more about such a difficult topic.

  11. April 16, 2006

    hey mike, im just a casual observer of your blog AND a student of yours. I just had a question about this huge discussion on your issue number 7. i totally agree with you on this issue. ive always wondered what is so bad about being for (or just not being against) civil rights for homosexuals. why not err on the gracious side since were inevitably going to err on one side or the other? so what if we’re not 100% right? thanks for putting these things out there for discussion.

  12. notcomingout permalink
    April 16, 2006

    Now to see if this will post with a mythical (for what will become obvious reasons, as I am going to get a little frank) email address:

    101st comment, and several days late, so who knows whether anyone will ever actually read it, but…

    I hope the church can come to accept homosexuality as just another in the list of sins that God hates, while loving the sinner, but I very much disagree with the notion that we should in any way endorse special rights allowing for marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. The world is going out of their way to “affirm” homosexuals, in the post “I’m OK, You’re OK” (that dates me, doesn’t it?) era. The gay agenda is to promote “gayness” as a perfectly acceptable and normal lifestyle choice. We must continue to uphold the Biblical admonition to strive to keep our behavior Christ-like. While I cannot imagine Christ failing to offer help to, or avoiding or mistreating a homosexual, I also cannot imagine that he might petition the government to confer spousal privileges upon same-sex couples, as a matter of civil fairness.

    This is an issue that I feel passionately about, since there are specific reasons that I have spent my life as a practicing heterosexual, despite an early (age 5 or so early enough for you?) realization that I seemed to be more curious about some things than the other boys – and the unsettling realization as an adolescent that I was having “crush” feelings toward folks I should have considered to be only buddies. The things that kept me from “going over to the other side” were:

    1. I really love Jesus, and the Bible was pretty clear….
    2. I really wanted a “normal life,” with wife & kids, & all that.
    3. Society did not accept that kind of behavior/lifestyle.
    4. What I understood about the mechanics of “full” homosexual expression was somewhat troubling. OK, more than somewhat.

    Despite some “poke and tickle” – and just a bit more, perhaps – episodes, I never had any “complete” sexual encounter, of either sort. prior to my marriage (which is, was, and has been quite happy and fulfilling, thank you very much). My wife (with whom I have shared some of the basics of my struggle) loves me very much, and I love her with all my heart. That does not mean that other desires do not occasionally present. (And here, let me please vehemently protest the poster who noted that a “homosexual thought” is sin. A homosexual thought is not sin; a heterosexual thought involving thy neighbor’s wife is not sin. Desire is not sin, it is temptation. Christ was tempted. Taking that desire and deciding to act on it, if you get the chance…now that is sin. That is where lust comes in, when the only thing between you and sin is lack of opportunity.

    Despite years of pleading and praying and crying, and then praying some more, I still have thoughts. Thankfully, God’s grace has continued to protect me, in that, most of the time, the thoughts have stayed thoughts, and have not progressed to lust…and the times that I might have truly fallen, the opportunity did not come. Thank you God for that protection.

    My heart hurts for the young men and women of today for whom the “alternative lifestyle” will be a more viable choice, because society has become so accomodating. The Lord’s church needs to talk about the reality of homosexual attraction, and the dangers of succumbing; and to give real and useful information regarding heterosexual attraction, as well (with the hope of being more successful in discouraging premarital experimentation by those with either preference).

    For some of you, I ask you to consider what you are saying with regard to how a person with homosexual desires is to live their lives. I fully agree that we must uphold the admonitions that prohibit homosexual expression, so we must counsel homosexuals that they may not act upon their desires and be pleasing to God. They must do what any of us do…the best they can, and pray for forgiveness when they fail to live up to God’s, and their own, expectations. I beg you to reconsider something, though.

    If you also tell those who recognize that they have homosexual desires, but love Jesus and want to do right, that they should not choose to try to have a heterosexual relationship with a Godly woman, for fear they will later ruin her life, and the lives of their children, then you are truly condemning the homosexual to a sad and lonely life. I had an epiphany a few years ago, after watching yet another Christian man in whom I had full confidence leave his wife and children for another woman, that perhaps God had offered me a form of protection I would never have chosen, had I been offered a choice. Sex is an intense drive, and perhaps especially so in some folks. I’m one of ‘em. Maybe the fact that acting on my particular temptation would have had such devastating effects on my life protected me from being one of those men who, totally and completely heterosexual, ruined the lives of their wives and children because they were unwilling to say no to their own desires.

    I so wish I could have the support of a group such as Mike’s, just for the freedom of being able to share something as devastating as this tempatation can be to your life. I struggle on, though, for the sake of my beautiful wife, my strong and Godly children, my adorable grandchildren, and the church I serve as a shepherd, despite…and because of…my many flaws.

  13. Leland permalink
    April 17, 2006

    Mike,

    For the 3rd time, why is it a sin? Left handed people are born with the predispostion to use a certain hand. Being left handed is not a sin because being left handed or more importantly choosing to throw left handed does not damage the community.

    There has to be some reason or logic behind why it is a sin. For instance pedophilia, alcoholism, porn, gambling destroys a community.

    And MommyHAM

    “3 – God does not create them that way, but b/c we live in a fallen world and are a fallen people, we all get dealt a deck of temptations, for some it’s an addictive personality, and when paired with alcohol/drugs/porn/gambling/etc, it’s horribly destructive. Same thing with homosexuality.”

    Expound PLEASE!!!. This mold does not fit the homosexuals I know. Its pretty arrogant to compare my lesbian friend to an alcoholic/pornagrapher/gambler etc. You don’t even know her!!!

    AGAIN WHAT IS SO DESTRUCTIVE!!!

    What is so destructive about two homosexuals engaging in a monogamous (NOT PROMISCOUS) relationship from the git go?

    No one has answered this question. It all boils down to the Bible tells me so. But the Bible tells us a lot of other things we choose to ignore ie helping 56 year old widows, putting children to death who disobey parents, etc

    Why should my lesbian friend is who more concerned about my family than most “Christians,” be told she is a sinner for being in a monogamous relationship? I am in know way threatened to have her or her partner around my children.

    We agree she is acting on the way God made her. Her and partner’s relationship is in no way destructive to anyone. They are even thinking of adopting a child which would otherwise go parentless.

    Give me a break, the self righteous bullshit concerning monogamous homosexuality is a wearing thin and hurting a lot of people, people I know. Love the lefthanded but don’t embrace them throwing left handed. Its just about as laughable.

  14. April 18, 2006

    I have no interest in entering into a debate on the issue. All I know is this…

    I grew up in the church and suffered abuse at the hands of church going heterosexual “christians”. Now that I’m facing my demons (or at least attempting to) my greatest help has come from a homosexual priest and his partner of 25 years. I have seen God through their eyes, and that has made all the difference.

  15. in the middle permalink
    April 18, 2006

    Leland,

    Really interesting comment… I really love your candor and honesty!!!

    I guess in response to why is it a sin, people generally do go back to the Bible and pound on those same verses. But you seem to be asking why is it a bad thing, especially when approached responsibly… And there are plenty of beautiful, decent and God-loving gay people who are in committed relationships. So I get where you’re coming from…

    Here’s the deal though… Most people don’t want to go here, and I’m not sure I can go into any details posting a comment on a blog… But there are some serious health risks of gay sex (specifically males) because it goes against design and function. The risks are upped – not because of promiscuity – because of the nature of sex among men.

    And… I have an ex-lesbian friend who isn’t even a Christian. She left lesbianism for reasons totally not associated with Christianity. So, if you’re going to blame Christians for anything (and there’s plenty to choose from!!!)… it’s their ignorance and heartlessness in accepting people who are different in a way that Christ would.

    The bottom line is that we will have to agree to disagree because neither side is shifting. So, what’s the best way we can coexist? I vote for loving acceptance on BOTH sides!!!

    Thanks to Mike for facilitating a safe place to talk it out…

  16. Melissa permalink
    April 18, 2006

    COULD I ENTERTAIN THE POSSIBILITY THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS A “RESPONSE” RATHER THAN A GENETIC TRAIT OR “CHOSEN” LIFESTYLE? I AM SEARCHING SO HARD FOR PEACE WITH THIS.

    IF WE TOOK A POLL OF ALL GAY PEOPLE, WOULD THE COMMON RESULT BE THAT THERE WAS AN ABSENT PARENT OR EITHER A DOMINEERING ONE IN ALL THAT WERE POLLED?

    AFTER A YEAR OF INTENSE COUNSELING MY HUSBAND (SON OF A CHURCH OF CHRIST MINISTER) DISCOVERED THAT HIS PORNOGRAPHY ADDICTION WAS ROOTED IN THE EMOTIONAL ABSCENCE OF HIS FATHER. HIS FATHER WAS AND IS A GOOD MAN. HE WAS JUST THERE FOR THE CHURCH EMOTIONALLY AND NOT HIS CHILDREN. MY HUSBANDS RESPONSE TO HIS DEEPEST NEED WAS PORNOGRAPY. HIS MOTHER TRIED TO FILL THE SHOES RESULTING IN OVERNURTING HIM-TOO MUCH OF HIS MOTHER CAUSED HIM TO NEED WOMEN TO “NURTURE” HIM WELL INTO HIS ADULT LIFE.

    I HAD A HOLE IN ME FROM HIS ADDICTION. MY RESPONSE? I SOUGHT OUT ATTENTION FROM MEN, I BOUGHT WAY TOO MANY CLOTHES, BECAME CONTROLLING.

    SO, lET US(THE CHURCH) GET TO THE ROOT OF OUR BEHAVIORS, OUR GENETIC TRAITS, OUR “LIFESTYLES” IF YOU WILL.

    THEN PERHAPS MAYBE WE CAN MORE EASILY UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE “RESPOND” DIFFERENTLY TO “HOLES” IN THEIR LIVES.

    LET’S JUST TRY TO FIGURE OUT WHY THE NEED IS THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND I THINK WITH TIME, EVERTHING ELSE WILL EXPLAIN ITSELF.

    R E S P O N S E

    ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS?

  17. Melissa permalink
    April 19, 2006

    Mr. or Mrs. Outburst,

    I am a hard one to impress. You managed to impress me in a very clever way. And you know, it is not really important that I am impressed or not. But when you hear Truth early in the morning, it resinates in you the rest of the day. I am quite sure what you wrote was truth, and I have a feeling I will still be thinking about it when I lay my head down on my pillow tonight. Thanks.

  18. Jane permalink
    April 19, 2006

    Melissa – I am very touched by your transparentness (if that’s a word) and think the scenario you lay out is much more typical of many behavioral issues than genetics. It has been my experience, albeit a limited one over 50+ years, that many if not most sexual issues (including homosexual beahvior, pornography addiction, and even serial affairs, etc.) have root in some of the situations you outline.

    Bottom line is, now that one has been “dealt that life card, how is he or she going to play it?” It sounds like you both did the very best thing, seek professional counseling. Praise God for your seeking and for His work in your life!

    Thank you for your thoughtful and candid post.

  19. April 20, 2006

    i really liked what you wrote, mike. all of your points were well made, although i tend to disagree with point #7.
    i feel that not endorsing gay marriage is just another barrier that is put between ‘us’ and ‘them’. i know the arguments against it that are in the bible, and i must be honest, my view point is not biblical, even though i am a christian. i won’t argue with whether it is a sin or not, although i still have my doubts, because i am not smart enough to do so at the moment. but, if it’s the act of having gay sex that we claim is the sin, then why is marriage the issue? does that make sense? maybe just in my mind. i’m not trying to be controversial. i’ve just fought with this issue over and over again in my mind. i live in canada where gay marriage is legal not just in some provinces(states), but everywhere. so maybe this influences my thinking a bit, and maybe others will just think i’m some liberal canadian, which is fine, because most of the time i act like it, even though i don’t like the liberal/conservative labels. but if we don’t believe that homosexuality is the reason for the decline in family values, then lets let them be families. maybe we could learn a thing or two from their committed relationships? anyway, i really enjoyed your thoughts, mike, so i mean no disrespect. i am just struggling with this issue, and i would love to hear any thoughts on the subject.

    p.s.-i am married, by the way.

  20. Leland permalink
    April 20, 2006

    “It has been my experience, albeit a limited one over 50+ years, that many if not most sexual issues (including homosexual beahvior, pornography addiction, and even serial affairs, etc.) have root in some of the situations you outline. ”

    The lesbian I has know has no such root cause incident. To assume all homosexuals are lying about being born this way is arrogant. And to equate her genetic predisposition with a porn addiction is insulting.

  21. Jane permalink
    April 21, 2006

    Leland – Maybe I didn’t express myself well enough and I will concede that my experience over my 50+ years is not all inclusive. But it is my experience. I know several people in all of those categories, whom I love, while at the same time hating the sin of their behavior. Many of those same people also hate their own behavior and have been seeking to change it.

    Blair – I believe, for my study, that both in direct scripture and in biblical example the model for marriage is between one man and one woman and see nowhere that there is any model for same sex marriage, so I have to disagree with you.

    Thanks.

  22. Melody permalink
    April 22, 2006

    Dear Mike,

    I just wanted to thank you for your thoughts. Until the disciples were able to get together and work out their differences and be on one accord the holy spirit could not be poured out. Now until the church can come together in a spirit of love for each other and obedience to God we can’t expect him to pour his Spirit upon us. Can you imagine what would happen if God gave us that kind of power and all we could do was go about smiting one another instead of using His power in love. Maybe the time is coming when we all look to the author and finisher of our faith as our true pattern. And then the fire will fall.

  23. Anonymous in LA permalink
    April 23, 2006

    Mike
    Thanks for you great insight. I read your blog all the time but have never written anything before. I grew up in the church of Christ. Both of my grandfathers were elders (as if that should absolve me!), along with generations before them. There’s been debate about whether homosexuality is “chosen” (as some of the responses said) or if you’re born that way. I can speak only for myself but I know it’s the same for others. I was BORN that way. Repeat, BORN THAT WAY. I have always been sexually attracted to men and I have always wished I wasn’t. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t, going back to childhood. In a million years I would not have chosen this for my life. I don’t want to be an outcast. I don’t want my family to disown me and I don’t want to disappoint them. I wanted a normal life, with a wife and kids, but that’s not going to happen. I’ve prayed for years not to be attracted to men. I don’t think God is not listening to me because my faith is weak. My faith is strong, I believe in God with all of my heart and was baptized at 13 years of age for the remission of my sins. I believe in Jesus and that he died for me. I am a Christian who still attends the church of Christ. I certainly did not choose to be this way and according to my psychiatrist, everyone she counsels does not “choose” to be this way. So for everyone who thinks it’s a choice, you are wrong. On the other hand, I’ve been able to resist the temptation to live a homosexual lifestyle due to my upbringing and my faith that teaches homosexuality is a sin. I’ve had to hide it my whole life, pretending to be someone I’m not. It’s becoming increasingly difficult. I’ve only dated women, but that’s not my true self and I don’t have the same feelings that other guys must have. I’ve been wondering if it’s really a sin for the past couple of years. Like someone else pointed out, how many other things in Leviticus do we ignore? How many things in the New Testament do we ignore? A lot, I think. Jesus never said anything about homosexuality so how do we know how HE feels about it? Why does God make people homosexual (it’s not a choice) if it’s sinful? I don’t think my God would create me and then set me up to fail as a Christian. I’m kind of at a crossroads right now and I’m tired of living a lie. I appreciate your comments about homosexuality not being any worse of a sin (if it is) than lying, cheating on your taxes, pornography, or exceeding the speed limit (the Bible says obey the laws of the land, etc). I have recently moved to Los Angeles and the temptation to give in to my natural desires and become involved in that lifestyle is great. I don’t know anyone here, noone would know about it. Please pray that I will find God’s will for my life.

  24. Carol permalink
    April 25, 2006

    I appreciate the blog and the opportunity to discuss this issue. I am a Christian and I believe that we are all born with a sinful nature that tempts us to participate in all types of behaviors that deviate from the Spiritual nature. ALL sex before marriage (I think a holy and Godly marriage is between a husband and wife for those who have given their lives to Christ) is wrong. I also agree that sin is sin, but the Bible also makes it clear that sexual sin is different from sins such as gossip because sexual sin occurs in the body, which is a Temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:18). It is sad that we are so focused on what we can and can not do with our bodies that we have forgotten that our bodies were meant for God. W should honor God with our bodies. God has given us the power to control our lusts whatever they may be, it is our choice to give in to our desires, or to give ourselves to God. There is a difference between struggling with a sin, and giving in to a sin. “I am struggling with homosexuality.” Is different than, “I’m gay and I don’t care.” If someone struggles with a sin, we pray for them, support them, hold them accountable, and give them to God. Finally, we are commanded to love and so we should love, but remember that the call to repentance is for everyone.

    “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” I Corinthians 6:13

    “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.” I Corinthians 6:15-17

    “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” I Cor 6:18-20

    “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God.” I Thess 4:3-5

    “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Hebrews 13:4

  25. April 25, 2006

    in reference to jane responding to my previous post, i clearly stated that my view point was not biblically based. so, check…and mate. jk.

    i realize what the bible says about marriage, but like Anonymous in LA, i also realize that we don’t follow half of the commands in the bible because they are inconvenient and don’t apply to today. i don’t want to argue about the ‘inerrancy’ of scripture, but i don’t believe the bible is a rule book. i believe that the bible is part of the story of christianity, and that the commands given by cool guys like paul, peter and the likes are given to a certain time for certain reason, and we need to understand those reasons before saying ‘the bible said it, so that’s enough for me’. just my opinion. you are free to continue to disagree with me.

  26. Jane permalink
    April 26, 2006

    Carol – I really appreciate your bringing us back to the scripture for our focus.

  27. Justbecause permalink
    May 7, 2006

    Psalms 97:10:
    10 O YOU lovers of The LORD, hate what is bad.
    He is guarding the souls of his loyal ones;
    Out of the hand of the wicked ones he delivers them.

  28. Justbecause permalink
    May 7, 2006

    Blair, please refer to John 3:14-17, verse 16 in special.

    14 You, however, continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from what persons you learned them 15 and that from infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through the faith in connection with Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.

  29. Christian heterosexual permalink
    May 7, 2006

    DURING the church ceremony, the two men stand hand in hand before a renowned Episcopal bishop. They make a “covenant . . . before God and the church.” Clothed in ornate gold-and-white vestments, the bishop publicly blesses their union. Afterward the couple hug and kiss and are given a standing ovation. According to this bishop, such homosexual relationships “are holy and deserve to be blessed, . . . deserve to be called what they are: sacred.”

    However, other religious leaders voice strong opposition to same-sex unions. “We are so disturbed by this [bishop’s] decision,” stated Cynthia Brust, spokesperson for the American Anglican Council, a group of conservative Episcopalians. “Same-sex blessings contradict the clear teaching on marriage and sexuality from the Bible,” she said, adding that “sexuality . . . is to be confined to a man and woman in holy matrimony.”

    The fire storm of controversy over this issue is not restricted to religion. Internationally, heated political debates are raging, since the social, political, and economic implications involving pensions, joint health care, and taxes are great.

    Issues involving civil rights and legal recognition are often very complicated and divide public opinion. True Christians are careful to maintain neutrality by avoiding political debates. (John 17:16)* Still, some who respect the Bible find themselves confused regarding the subject of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. How do you view same-sex marriage? What is God’s standard for marriage? What impact does your attitude have on your relationship with God?

    Our Creator Sets the Standard
    Our Creator established rules governing marriage long before governments began regulating the institution. The opening book of the Bible tells us: “A man will leave his father and his mother and he must stick to his wife and they must become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24) The Hebrew word “wife,” according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, “connotes one who is a female human being.” Jesus confirmed that those yoked together in marriage should be “male and female.”—Matthew 19:4.

    Thus, God intended marriage to be a permanent and an intimate bond between a man and a woman. Men and women are designed to complement each other so they may be capable of satisfying each other’s emotional, spiritual, and sexual needs and desires.

    The well-known Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah reveals God’s feelings about homosexuality. God declared: “The cry of complaint about Sodom and Gomorrah, yes, it is loud, and their sin, yes, it is very heavy.” (Genesis 18:20) The extent of their sinful depravity at that time was apparent when two guests visited the righteous man Lot. “The men of Sodom . . . surrounded the house, from boy to old man, all the people in one mob. And they kept calling out to Lot and saying to him: ‘Where are the men who came in to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intercourse with them.’” (Genesis 19:4, 5) The Bible says: “The men of Sodom were bad and were gross sinners against Jehovah.”—Genesis 13:13.

    The men became “violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males.” (Romans 1:27) They had “gone out after flesh for unnatural use.” (Jude 7) In countries where homosexual rights campaigns are pervasive, some may object to using the word “unnatural” to describe homosexual behavior. However, is not God the final arbiter when it comes to nature? He commanded his ancient people: “You must not lie down with a male the same as you lie down with a woman. It is a detestable thing.”— Leviticus 18:22.

    Your Accountability to God
    The Bible is clear: God does not approve of or condone homosexual practices. He also disapproves of people who “consent with those practicing them.” (Romans 1:32) And “marriage” cannot give homosexuality a cloak of respectability. God’s direction that “marriage be honorable among all” precludes homosexual unions, which he considers detestable.—Hebrews 13:4.

    Still, with God’s help, anyone can learn to “abstain from fornication,” which includes homosexual acts, and “get possession of his own vessel in sanctification and honor.”(1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4)

  30. Struggling and hurting permalink
    October 16, 2006

    In the last few years, I’ve searched high and low for a loving, understanding view of homosexuality from a Church of Christ preacher. Your viewpoints have, by far, been the best I’ve read, full of compassion for the deep pain and suffering that homosexuals experience. It is a lonely walk for one who is crying for someone to listen to him/her and understand what it is like to have a same-sex attraction. Most people never will understand, as you can see from some of the comments you received. It is extremely discouraging to me to see that these people are so quick to judge.

    In one of your points, you describe a safe environment in which other people with the same struggles can meet and support each other. How does one locate such a group, without fear of exposure?

  31. Marlin Bynum permalink
    December 23, 2006

    Mike,

    Thanks for these words. Although I am not sure they go far enough I think they are a big leap for the Church of Christ. I am an ordained minister in the Churc of Chirst and was preaching in a pulpit till July of 2006. During the last twenty years I have allowed the “clobber passages” to rule my thinking on this topic and only recenlty revisted it. I tell you this because I am gay. I lived a closeted (i.e. did not confess this struggle) and celibate life. I think that we need to in the least bring this “sin” down to a level that is no different than any struggles a person goes through (i.e. greed, hatred, anger, lust), and we need to be more willing to look at this topic.

    In my study over the last year I have come to realize that the Bible does not say nearly as much against this sin as one would think and maybe even less than one would believe. Homosxuality is an orientation that draws us to fall in love with people of the same gender. I think it is a gift from God that has uniquely qualified certain people in our world — no less that the gift of left-handedness — or being born in the month of May. All of the things that make us unique help us to better manifest the presence of Chirst in this world.

    It is my prayer that the Church of Chirst and Christendom over all will really take an honest look at what it means to be gay. It is not some horrid lifestyle — but just a different way to be attracted to others. There are people in the gay community that live a hedonistic lifestyle, but I can promise you that there many more in the straight world doing the same.

    Finally, I hope that the church will start to support equal rights for all gay individuals — including marriage — we don’t ask that the church conduct marriages — I personally wish, even as a minster, that all people would just get it done by the justice of the peace — just recognize our legal rights to be with and support and recieve support from the person that we love.

    It is my prayer that I don’t have to live a life of shame — even as a celibate — but in the Church of Chirst — even the celibates are treated as second class citizen — straights see some prejudice — gays even worse.

    I also ask that all my brothers and sisters would think twice and three times about what you say. I have been crushed so many times by words from your mouths. I am not a demon — I am not demon possessed — I am not deluded — I am not crazy — I am merely a human being who has been created differently and deal with my temptation(s) in a continuing relationship with God.

    God Bless,

    Marlin Bynum

  32. January 16, 2007

    Google is the best search engine

  33. April 2, 2007

    Mike – Thank you for your comments. I am a graduate of Harding and attended church when you ministered there. I also started my career in Abilene and attended church at Highland, having you as my minister again.

    While living in Abilene, I finally (after 20+ yrs of struggling) came out. I am so thankful for the gay church in Abilene for without their support, I don’t know that I would be alive today!

    I left Abilene, as I was told I could no longer be involved in the Medical Mission work in Haiti….. because I was a lesbian. Eight months later, my parents, along with my sister and brother-in-law (both went to Harding) disowned me.

    I have often googled articles under your name, looking for your thoughts on this subject, so I was very happy to find this today.

    I continue to live in Dallas and am in a healthy, loving lesbian relationship. I miss my family tremendously, but I would never ‘give up’ who God made me to be, just to make others around me comfortable. It took me years to love myself, knowing what I knew and felt deep inside. I now have peace in my life. I attend church, I help others, and I live a Christian life.

    When heterosexuals talk about “Conversion Therapy”, I wish they would stop and think about one thing: could you as a heterosexual go to conversion classes to become Homosexual? Of course not! You could pretend to be homosexual…. but that isn’t truly who you are or who God made you to be.

    It’s also hard to listen to heterosexuals who love to toss around the phrase “the lifestyle he/she has chosen”. Do they really think someone would just turn on the evening news, hear how much the world hates gays, the killings and ugly things people say to us (and behind our backs), knowing that we have no ‘perks’ (such as same sex health benefits), all of the extra papers we have to get signed to protect ourselves, our spouses, and our property… not to mention health care professionals who refuse to share information with our spouses because we are not ‘legally married’ (and the list goes on…), and after hearing this on the news, do you really think someone would say, “Oh, cool! I think I’ll choose to be gay! It sounds like great fun!”

    I never chose to be this way, believe me! Life would be much easier in a lot of ways! What I do know is that I live my life each day, knowing that God loves me and cares for me. I know many in the Church of Christ (including my family) will use scripture all day to argue my life. For me, I am assured that I, along with many other ‘sinners’, will someday enter the gates of heaven “but for the Grace of God”.

    Thank you for having the courage to stand up and write something like this. You will never know how much it means to me.

  34. Gary permalink
    October 30, 2012

    I just came across this blog and I really appreciate so many of the points made. It is a refreshing perspective. Unfortunately, however, you leave celibacy as the only legitimate option for gays. That ship has sailed for the vast majority of gays by virtue of an unchangeable sexual orientation by puberty. Like straights most gays will act on their sexual orientation and seek out a partner to spend their life with. Celibacy is never explicitly required of anyone or any group in the New Testament. Paul’s counsel to those tempted by fornication is that it is better to marry than to burn. How can that be reconciled with Paul’s condemnation of homosexual behavior? Paul no more understood the concept of an unchangeable, exclusive homosexual orientation than he understood the disease of alcoholism when he seems to consign “drunkards” to bell. We no longer believe alcoholics are lost no matter what Paul wrote and we don’t consider ourselves to have abandoned Christian doctrine or Christ because of our change of perspective on alcoholism. Logically alcoholics and gays stand or fall together in applying Paul to today. Paul simply didn’t have all the information available that we have today. God is not bound by every opinion Paul expressed or every contemporary understanding he reflected. Proscribing the expression of homosexual love only leaves it in the closet and multiplies promiscuity which is destructive. The church would do well to help and encourage gays and straights alike to form committed, loving, exclusive relationships. It’s past time to abandon the fantasy that a whole segment of our population will ever accept the verdict of straight Christians that celibacy is the only acceptable option gays have.

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