Friday, November 04, 2011

The Church and Sexual Confusion

When we look honestly at the teachings of God's Word, inlcuding those of Jesus, it is evident that Christians and the church cannot legitimize same-sex relations. The paradigm from creation is clear that God created humans in a two-fold way, male and female, and that sexual union is to be a one-flesh relationship between to humans who are not alike in gender. . . .  
The church should be unambiguous in articulating God's design for sexual intimacy: a covenant relationship between a man and a woman. The church actually shows great love and pastoral care though its gracious articulation of God's designs. We fail the world and struggling individuals when we continually appeal to more dialogue, ambiguity, and merely compassion. . . .  
But at the same time we are called to walk and cry with, empathize, forgive, and support those who struggle with homoerotic impulses. We can never apply biblical ethics with cold callousness and harness. We must recall that after discussion homosexuality in Romans 1, Paul gives a list of other sins that we too easily ignore in the church: greed, envy, strife, slander, arrogance, pride, and lack of love and mercy. . . . What can the church offer pastorally to those struggling with this issue?  
First, we can offer hope for healing through divine resources and professional counseling. Second, we can offer ongoing empathetic support and accountability for those who find it difficult to change their inward inclinations, but are called to maintain celibacy. Third, we can offer forgiveness when there is failure amidst the struggle, albeit without watering down the ethical norm. And finally the church must rid itself of homophobia, the hatred of gay persons.  
- Dennis Hollinger, The Meaning of Sex  (my emphasis)

 (HT: Walt Mueller)


Emily said...

Thanks for the compassion evident in this post. If you haven't read it, I strongly recommend checking out the memoir "Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality" by Wesley Hill.

Anonymous said...

Great words on this topic. We should not fear when we have the Words of God that can offer true hope for people. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

How do you handle a situation like the following? A young woman who grew up in a church, comes out as a lesbian. She meets and somehow marries another woman, exchanging rings and is given wedding gifts by several members of the church. The two had separate offering envelopes until the "wedding", at which time they requested and were granted a single offering envelope in both their names. When they gave a gift in memory or in honor of someone, both their names appeared in the church newletter as one gift. Soon they had the last name of one of the women changed so they now have the same last name which appears as such under their picture in the church directory. They are members of a couples Sunday School class and occasionally teach it (this is a class of heterosexual couples). The one woman's mother is an outspoken feminist and male basher and was chosen as the first female deacon in this church, and is considered one of the "pillars". Many more women have followed. Officially the church does not recognize homosexual marriage or lifestyle, but in practice that is not the message that they are sending. Little by little the church has been infiltrated with homosexual agenda and there does not appear to be any way that this can be reversed. The pastor sees no reason to discuss this situation.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - please quit playing "what if..." games and stand up for something - hopefully truth. Yes, of course, this must be with compassion.
And Walt, please check your spelling and grammar. Words are our tools, and we should use them well.

Zack Skrip said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry for what Ross said. That was just not helpful.

The church you describe is ceasing to be a church. A church is a collected body of New Covenant believers--that is people who have repented of their sins and have faith in the finished work of Christ who paid their penalty before God, restoring their relationship to God. The people you describe have not repented of their sins, rather they are trying to baptize them. They don't look to God's word to reveal how one should live in light of Christ's work, rather than decide (like Adam and Eve) that they know better.

If you are a part of that church, then I would leave immediately after telling the pastor why. In Mark Dever's book What is a Healthy Church?, he defines "healthy" as "a congregation that increasingly reflects God's character as His character has been revealed in His Word." (Dever, 40). The church you describe is more interested in reflecting the cultural values (read: sinful) than God's. They are not a church.

If you are truly struggling with this issue, and would like a bit more info on how to get out, you can click on my bio and contact me through one of my blogs.

Anonymous said...


There are more issues at play here than just a toleration for homosexuality- there is also the issue of women seeking authority over men (i.e. leading a co-ed Sunday School class)

I do not know how your church is organized or whether it is part of a denominational body, synod, etc. If you have an elder board, I would go to them first as your Pastor sounds as if he is entirely disinterested in actually doing the work of a Pastor. If you do not have an Elder board, go to the leader of your Synod (if applicable) or contact the leadership of your denomination.

It sounds to me as if this church is out of control and has ceased to be a legitimate church. Depending on the outcome of the above, you may have to prepare yourself for the eventuality of finding one that preaches the Gospel, observes the ordinances, and practices (in love)church discipline.