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Redeemer Bible Church


16205 Highway 7
Minnetonka, MN, 55345
952-935-2425
www.redeemerbiblechurch.com

“A Christian Response to Homosexuality”


February 15, 2004
By: R. W. Glenn
Selected Scriptures

Introduction
On August 6, 2003, Episcopalians in the Diocese of New Hampshire elected as their
leader the first openly gay bishop anywhere in the worldwide Anglican Communion: the Rev.
Canon V. Gene Robinson.

Three months later, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court cleared the way for gay
and lesbian couples to marry in the state, ruling that government attorneys “failed to identify any
constitutionally adequate reason” to deny them the right.1

In addition to these newest developments in our culture, television shows like “Ellen,”
“Will and Grace,” “In the Life,” and “Queer Eye for the Straight” have propelled the issue of
homosexuality to the forefront of public life.

With all that is happening and with all that has happened, it seemed appropriate that we
should address this very timely and serious issue from the perspective of the Bible, from the
perspective of biblical Christianity.

My concern has been not so much with what is happening “out there” in our judicial
system or in contemporary culture, but with what is—or better—with what ought to be
happening “in here,” in the church of Jesus Christ.

I do not doubt that even hearing about the Anglican Bishop and the Massachusetts High
Court is enough to evoke from some of you a very visceral response, perhaps in the form of
disgust. Sometimes the response I have noted is one of fear—fearing that the sanction of
homosexuality through the appointment of homosexual spiritual leaders or the ruling of a State’s
Supreme Judicial Court represents a threat to the fabric of America that will lead ineluctably to
its demise. Some of you may even be enraged to hear at what is happening in the United States
at this time in her history.
1
“Massachusetts court rules ban on gay marriage unconstitutional” www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/11/18
samesex.marriage.ruling/index.html.

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The question is, however, not how do we feel, but how ought we to feel in light of such
developments? What should be the Christian’s response to homosexuality? How should we
understand what’s happening? And how can we respond in such a way as to manifest the glory
of Christ in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation?

The answer of course is found in the pages of the Bible; for our beliefs are only
legitimately Christian to the extent that they are truly biblical. Let us then, in a spirit of humility,
look to what the Scriptures have to say about the issue of homosexuality.

Perhaps the most well-known passage concerning homosexuality in the New Testament is
Romans 1:18-32:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is
known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the
creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have
been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are
without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give
thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible
God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals
and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that
their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a
lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed
forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women
exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the
men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one
another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the
due penalty of their error.
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them
over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all
unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they
are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil,
disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and
although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy
of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice
them.

Homosexuality Is a Sin
We begin, then, with this very simple truth, set forth in no uncertain terms in the Apostle
Paul’s letter to the Romans: homosexuality is a sin. God’s wrath is being revealed, says Paul in
verse 18, and what makes this clear is that God has given women and men over to degrading
passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and
in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in

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their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in
their own persons the due penalty of their error (verses 26-17).

This behavior falls into the category of ungodliness and unrighteousness mentioned in
verse 18. Furthermore, verse 32 says that those who practice such things as homosexuality are
worthy of death.

And this is not the only place in the New Testament where homosexual behavior is
denounced and declared to be rebellion against God: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous
will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor
adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor
revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Paul is clear:
homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. You cannot be a homosexual and go to
heaven.

In his pastoral letter to Timothy, the Apostle reminds Timothy that the Law is not made
for the righteous, but for the unrighteous, “for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the
ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for
murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and
whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:9-10). Homosexuals are unrighteous
men. And no unrighteous man belongs in the kingdom of God (see Matthew 13:49-50).

And with an appeal to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jude says that they
“indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh,” and are therefore “exhibited as an
example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7).

Now turn to Genesis 19:1-7 so that we can find out what Jude means when he says that
they “indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh.”:

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate
of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to
the ground.
And he said, "Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house,
and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way."
They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square."
Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house;
and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they
lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and
old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are
the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with
them."
But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said,
"Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.

Clearly, the sin of Sodom, the sin to which Jude is referring in the sin of homosexuality.
For before Lot’s guests lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom surrounded the
house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and

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said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we
may have relations with them.”

And it is this behavior to which God responds with the destructive judgment of fiery
brimstone. From the Bible’s perspective, this exhibits for us an example in undergoing the
punishment of eternal fire. In other words, God’s response to Sodom’s wickedness manifests his
attitude toward gross immorality of this kind.

Not only does this passage from Jude indicate God’s disposition toward homosexuality
under the new covenant, but it indicates for us that his disposition toward homosexuality hasn’t
changed with the inauguration of the new covenant. Thus the Old Testament injunctions against
homosexual behavior are helpful for understanding God’s mind even in this new era of
redemption history.

Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an
abomination.” And later in Leviticus 20, the Bible says, “If there is a man who lies with a male
as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely
be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13).

Even before the giving of the Law of Moses, homosexuality was considered wicked
behavior. We’ve read Genesis 19 already in which the men of Sodom seek to have relations with
Lot’s house guests. Remember that Lot appeals to the men of the city on the basis of the
wickedness of their request. Lot says, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly” (Genesis 19:7).

A nearly identical incident, after the giving of the Mosaic Law, at the time of the judges,
sets forth the evil of such behavior as well cf. Judges 19:16-23:

Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening.
Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but
the men of the place were Benjamites. And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in
the open square of the city; and the old man said, "Where are you going, and where do
you come from?"
He said to him, "We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of
the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I
am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house. Yet there is both
straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and
the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything."
The old man said, "Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs;
however, do not spend the night in the open square."
So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed
their feet and ate and drank.
While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless
fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the
house, the old man, saying, "Bring out the man who came into your house that we may
have relations with him."
Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, "No,
my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do
not commit this act of folly.

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The teaching of Scripture is clear. What was condemned under the old covenant and
even earlier continues to receive condemnation under the new covenant. Homosexuality is a sin.
In God’s sight it is detestable, it is abominable, it is wicked, it is foolish, it is ungodly, it is
unrighteous, and it is deserving of death.

The teaching of Scripture is clear: God says it is wrong; therefore it is wrong. And as
believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we would be unfaithful to the Lord to communicate anything
differently. This is true both individually and corporately.

Each of us must be willing to stand up for what is right, denouncing what is evil, as evil.
And the church as a body must be willing to call evil, evil. To do anything less would be to
come under the curse of God ourselves: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who
substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for
bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

Responding to the Homosexual


I think that most of us in the evangelical church have this part down. In fact, according to
the most recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and the Pew
Forum on Religion and Public Life, 88% of highly committed white evangelicals say homosexual
behavior is sinful.2 And in this church, knowing you as well as I do, I would venture to guess
that nearly all of you would say that homosexual behavior is sinful.

For us, then, the more pressing question, then, is not whether or not homosexuality is
sinful, but how we are to handle this information.

How would you respond to the family of 21 year-old, Matthew Shepard, who, after being
driven to an open field, was tied to a fence, beaten with the butt of a gun within and inch of his
life, and left for dead in the near freezing temperatures? Eighteen hours later, he was found by
two passing motorcyclists who thought at first that Shepard was a scarecrow because of the way
he was positioned on the fence. He was flown via helicopter ninety miles away to Poudre Valley
Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado where he remained in critical condition in a coma until his
death six days later.3

Matthew engaged in homosexual behavior. And the men that murdered him did so
precisely because he was a homosexual. How would you have responded to Matthew’s family in
the light of such a tragedy?

One pastor, Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, organized a rally
to protest the funeral by sending a fax in which he urged people to arrive with signs containing
messages such as NO TEARS FOR QUEERS, FAG MATT IN HELL, and GOD HATES
FAGS.4
2
“Republicans Unified, Democrats Split on Gay Marriage: Religious Beliefs Underpin Opposition to
Homosexuality,” released Tuesday, November 18, 2003, 6.
3
“The Murder of Matthew Shepherd [sic.],” www.geocites.com/corkymcg/crime/proj005.html.
4
Ibid.

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In October of last year, on the fifth anniversary of Matthew’s death, Phelps sent a letter to
Matthew’s hometown, the City of Casper, Wyoming. Here are some excerpts:5

Dear Friends:
Because of the Matthew Shepard phenomenon, Casper has become a world center
epitomizing the ongoing antichristic [sic.] sodomite movement.

Westboro Baptist Church intends therefore to commission and erect a monument to the
glory of God in Casper City Park. Tentatively, the monument will be of marble or
granite 5 or 6 feet in height upon a concrete base, with a heavy bronze plaque affixed
thereto bearing the face of Matthew Shepard and these words: “MATTHEW SHEPARD,
Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning: ‘Thou shalt not lie with
mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22”….

We plan to be in your area Oct. 16-19 for Gospel demonstrations celebrating the 5th
Anniversary of Matt’s Entry Into [sic.] Hell, and would appreciate the opportunity to
meet with a Casper representative about this matter at that time….

With kindest personal regards and best wishes, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Fred W. Phelps
Pastor

Though I doubt very much that any of you would respond in such a way to the Shepards, I
am concerned that the spirit that gives birth to such extreme behavior may reside in our hearts in
a more subtle form. In reality, Phelps’ malady is more easily diagnosable, as its symptoms
present in such dramatic fashion. Our subtle hatred of homosexuals may be much more difficult
to identify, and therefore all the more difficult to destroy.

Sin Is Sin
In order to avoid what we could call a “Phelpsian” spirit, we need to begin with the truth
that homosexuality is no different than any other sin committed against God. For example,
homosexuality isn’t the only sin in the Old Testament that is considered an abomination or
detestable to God. The term translated “detestable” is used most often in connection with the
dietary laws of the old covenant.6 It is simply a way of referring to things which have been
forbidden by God.

Some of the Old Testament’s abominations include incest (Leviticus 18:6), idolatry
(Deuteronomy 7:25), human sacrifice (Deuteronomy 12:31), cross-dressing (i.e. ancient trans-
5
“Letter to City Council of Casper, Wyoming regarding a Matthew Shepard monument reading:
“MATTHEW SHEPARD, Entered Hell October 12, 1998, in Defiance of God’s Warning: ‘Thou shalt not lie
with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.’ Leviticus 18:22,”
www.godhatesfags.com/fliers/oct2003/Matthew_Shepard_
Monument_10-2-2003.pdf.
6
#q,v,ê

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sexuality—Deuteronomy 22:5), temple prostitution—male and female (Deuteronomy 23:18; 1


Kings 14:24), remarrying a woman that you divorced who had since been another man’s wife
(Deuteronomy 24:4); all injustice (Deuteronomy 25:16); pride, lying, murder, evil plotting,
readiness to do evil, perjury, causing division (Proverbs 6:16-19); prayers made while turning a
deaf ear to the Law (Proverbs 28:18); and scoffing (Proverbs 24:9).

Now you may be thinking that the passage we read earlier from Romans 1 gives us
sanction to see homosexuality as something especially abominable or detestable. Let’s turn back
there to see if such a conclusion is warranted cf. Romans 1:18-23.

First of all, what is the reason for which God is revealing his wrath from heaven? Verses
18-23 tell us: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is
known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the
creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have
been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without
excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks,
but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God
for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and
crawling creatures.

So then, what is our problem, why does God’s wrath, his anger abide on us? We are
idolaters, we have idolatrous hearts. Even though his invisible attributes, his eternal power and
divine nature have been clearly seen, we did not honor him as God or give thanks, we became
futile in our thinking. We exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form
of man and birds and birds and animals and reptiles. We have put other gods before the true and
living God. And so God has revealed his wrath. Being a jealous God, he cannot abide any
competitor. He must be honored as God or there are dire consequences.

Now look at verse 24: Therefore, it says, God gave them over. Therefore! And what’s
the therefore there for? It’s to tell us that God’s giving us over is on the basis of what Paul has
just taught. We are idolaters; therefore, God gave us over. This means that God has allowed
men to take their idolatry in any sinful way that pleases them. God left them to the lust of their
hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them (verse 24).

And verse 26 restates the therefore of verse 24 with the phrase for this reason. By
reason of their idolatrous and impure hearts, God gave them over to homosexuality. And we
learn that not only has God given men over to impurity and degrading passions, but he has given
men over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper (verse 28). And then,
beginning in verse 29, lists those things: being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness,
greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of
God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without
understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the
ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do
the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

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Homosexuality is one among many manifestations of a heart that is alienated from God.
It is abominable to him, it is wicked; it is forbidden by God. But so is all unrighteousness,
wickedness, greed, evil; envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; gossip, slander, God-hating,
insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, inventing evil, disobedience to parents, ignorance,
untrustworthiness, the absence of love and mercy.

All Sin Is Unnatural


Still, someone may say, “Okay, those sins are wrong too, and perhaps even equally as
wrong as homosexuality, but they are not unnatural. Take disobedience to parents—that is the
most natural thing in the world, believe me, I have three kids!” This may sound compelling, but
in reality it’s not. What Paul says is that homosexuality is against nature, it is contrary to the
created order.7 This is an important distinction because God made man upright. In his natural
state, mankind enjoyed uninterrupted communion with God. Man did not have a sinful nature.
Naturally speaking, his nature was righteous.

So our sin problem is not something that is natural. It is wholly unnatural, it is contrary
to nature; it is the corruption of nature. This is why nature itself “was subjected to futility, not
willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free
from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans
8:20-21).

If sin were “natural,” then it would have been present in man before the fall. It would
have been inherent in his natural constitution. But it wasn’t. Man in the state of nature was
upright, holy and happy. As the Preacher says, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made
men upright, but they have sought out many devices” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). It was when he fell
into sin that the sin problem was passed on from generation to generation. What this means is
that all sin, homosexuality, disrespect for parents, gossip, slander, arrogance—all of it—is
unnatural.

So when the Apostle Paul says that homosexuality is contrary to nature, he is absolutely
right; for nowhere do we more vividly see that we are sinful, that we are living contrary to how
God has created us, than in the fact that men and women engage in homosexuality. It is not that
the sin of homosexuality is unnatural while all the other sins are natural. It is that the sin of
homosexuality is a particularly striking example of the unnaturalness of sin.

This should help us understand when a homosexual says that for them homosexuality is
natural, while heterosexuality is natural for heterosexuals. Of course, we balk at the suggestion
that homosexuality is natural, especially in light of Romans 1. But when such a person says that
their homosexual behavior is natural to them, they usually are simply saying that they did not
wake up one morning, rub their hands together, and say, “From now on, I’ll be gay! That’s what
I want to be.”

7
para. fu,sin

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Most homosexuals say that they have never had romantic inclinations toward people of
the opposite sex. In that sense, homosexuality is natural to them: it is something that they did not
artificially impose upon themselves. I like what one writer says in this regard: “Indeed,
homosexuality is ‘natural,’ but only in the sense that it is a natural expression of the sinful nature
rather than some sort of morally neutral, God-given constitution.”8

I would put it like this: simply because a person is inclined toward a particular sin does
not remove his or her guilt. Think, for instance, of your children, especially if you have more
than one. Don’t you find that different children have propensities toward different sins? One of
your kids may be more inclined to lie, while another may be a rabid truth-teller. Yet that same
child, who cannot bring him- or herself to lie, struggles with laziness, while your liar is very
diligent. And you don’t need children to know that we all have different propensities for sin.
Areas that are more difficult for you to overcome are less so for me, and vice versa.

All this is to say that the unnaturalness of homosexuality is owing to its sinfulness; for all
sin is unnatural. At the same time, since the human race has fallen into sin, sin has become our
irresistible inclination (just read Romans 5-7!). We are slaves to it. This should go a long way to
explain how a homosexual can say that his or her behavior is natural as well as to explain how
we should understand the true unnaturalness of homosexuality.

What tends to happen is that we read Romans 1 and conclude that homosexuality alone is
unnatural and then apply to it a greater measure of our disgust. I am not suggesting that we ought
not to be disgusted with it. Homosexuality should be revolting to us. But so should gossip! And
so should slander! And so should being a busybody. And so should our disobedience to our
parents!

In other words, we must not use Paul’s teaching to justify hating the sin of homosexuality
more than any other sin; for if we do we are subtly succumbing to a Phelpsian spirit that makes
the sin of homosexuality the object of our peculiar disdain. You see, if we treat homosexuality
with special disgust, then we actually betray a low view of the holiness of God and as a result
will fail to reckon with the exceeding sinfulness of all sin.

Beware of Hypocrisy
This kind of attitude usually plays itself out in our hypocrisy. Let me tell you a story. I
came here to the church building one day to pray. And I left the doors open with a sign outside
that said we were open to the public for prayer. And while I was here a man came in who was an
openly gay elementary school teacher. As I prayed I began to thank God that I was not like this
man. “Thank you, God; praise you, Father, that I, too, am not a homosexual. Thank you that I
am a pastor. Thank you that I know your word. Thank you that I am disciplined to pray. Thank
you.”

Edward T Welch, “Homosexuality: Current Thinking and Biblical Guidelines,” The Journal of Biblical
8

Counseling, 13 (1995): 23.

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But the gay man wouldn’t even get close to me. And he was lying face down on the
floor. And I could hear him praying only one thing over and over again, “God, be merciful to
me, the sinner.”

Which of us would leave justified in God’s sight? From Jesus’ perspective the
homosexual man who cried out to God for mercy. Not me! Not me! Why? Because even
though I thanked God for my good behavior, deep down I trusted in myself, in my own
righteousness, and viewed this humble man with contempt.

This, as most of you know, is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke
18. By putting myself in the part of the Pharisee and a homosexual in the part of the tax
collector, I hoped to convey something of the shock of this story to the original audience. You
see, to first century Jewish people, Pharisees were heroes, they were the good guys and tax
collectors were the bad guys. Being as far removed from the original setting as we are, we have a
tendency to reverse this—we read Pharisee, bad guy; tax collector, good guy—and in so doing
we miss the point. We miss just how edgy Jesus’ teaching was; and really, how it ought to
continue to be.

You see, Luke 18 reminds us that self-righteousness is very subtle (see also Luke 12:1).
Our thanksgiving for not falling into this or that sin may not be thanksgiving at all. Instead, it
may betray a deep-seated sense of self-satisfaction. And if left unchecked will cause us to look at
others with contempt, especially those who sin in areas that may not be as acceptable to our own
sensibilities. If we do not address this in our own hearts, we run the risk of alienating those for
whom Jesus came to save.

Pursuing the Homosexual


Brethren, it is not enough for us to defend the very biblical contention that homosexuality
is a sin. Our calling is higher than that! We are called to pursue homosexuals to urge them to
repentance, to urge them to fall on the mercy of our loving Lord. We must do what it takes to
move toward the unlovely with love and help them to say no to the sin that has so entangled
them.

And yet our calling is still higher. For I am not merely saying that we should be ready for
homosexuals should they enter our church. I am saying that there are already people in this
church who have struggled, are struggling, or will struggle with homosexuality.

Will they feel safe enough to confess this sin to their brethren so that they may more
effectively battle against their particular expression of idolatry? Or will they feel as if they need
to maintain their distance and alone struggle with the sin that is entangling them? This is not the
way of sanctification. Sanctification is a community proposition. It is not accomplished apart
from one’s relationship to the believing community. This is why Paul commands the Philippians
to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. It is a corporate mandate. For, he says, it is
God who is at work in you-plural, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians
2:12-13; see also Ephesians 4:11-16).

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What must our attitude be toward the one who loves the Lord and at the same time is
fiercely wrestling with his or her own sinful inclinations? We must be like Jesus who ate with
tax collectors, sinners, and whores. And who, in fact, was maligned for his very association. Yet
Jesus never blurred the line between sinful and righteous behavior, between what was acceptable
to God and what was abominable to him. On the one hand, Jesus says, “I do not condemn you.”
And on the other hand he says, “Go and sin no more.” And he says each with equal authority and
emphasis.

And Jesus never condescended to the sinner, he was never hypocritical. We might think
that if ever any man had a warrant to be condescending to sinners it was the Lord Jesus.9 But he
is mindful of our frame, he identifies with us in our weakness, he was tempted in all ways as we
are. And knowing what it is to be tempted he does not condemn us, but comes to our rescue.

Whether or not we have adopted a Phelpsian spirit may only be a question of degree.
Whenever we find ourselves on that road, we must make haste to turn back. The church’s
attitude toward the homosexual must be rooted in the gospel. There is forgiveness with God that
he may be feared. God not only saves homosexuals who have never come to know him, but he
also restores men and women who have fallen back into the sin of homosexuality. God is
faithful to forgive all those who come to him with a broken and a contrite spirit.

If we are ever to be the church in its internal life and in its external witness, then we must
adorn the doctrine of our saving God in every respect. I am inclined to agree with the man who
says that

The church should…welcome and hold the attention of those who struggle with
homosexuality but have never been part of the church. With such people we can add that
the church should minister by surprising them with love, a sense of family, and the
absence of self-righteous judgment. It should offer truth in such a way that it is
convicting, attractive, and radically different from anything else the homosexual has ever
heard. 10

And for the brothers and sisters in Christ who may be feeling as if there is no hope, let me
encourage you that there is indeed hope for you, too. It’s the same hope that we extend to the
unbeliever—it is the hope of the gospel.

The apostle who says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the
kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor
effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God…” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

…is the same apostle who says, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you
were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of
our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

9
I understand that Jesus has condescended to us in the sense that he humbled himself to save us
(Phil 2:5-11). I am using the word with its pejorative connotation.
10
Welch, “Homosexuality,” 29.

A Christian Response to Homosexuality © 2004 by R W Glenn