“If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
– Jesus (John 8:7)
In recent years every Christian denomination has had to answer this controversial question asked by millions of Americans across our nation: “What’s the Big Deal About Homosexuality and Gay Marriage?” As individual congregations and entire denominations have answered this powder-keg question, many have been split in two. So, how are we who are Bible-believing Christians supposed to answer this emotionally-charged question?
I don’t presume to have the perfect answer, but let me share with you some insights from Pastor Gene Appel of Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim. He tackled this question in a sermon several years ago, and I’ve found his insights to be challenging and helpful for all of us—no matter what your personal beliefs and opinions about LGBT issues may be. Here are three of the points Pastor Gene made during his sermon. I encourage you to wrestle honestly with these insights and test them with Scripture.
#1: God is grieved over the pain and mistreatment of LGBT people (especially by Christians). Over the years, Christians have been far too quick to tell “fag” and “dyke” jokes and treat people with same-sex attraction like dirt. Images of Christians holding up picket signs that say, “God Hates Fags!” have been embedded in the minds of many in the LGBT community. Not only are these messages hateful, they’re dead wrong! The Bible doesn’t say that God hates people in the LGBT community. The Bible says quite the opposite. There is no asterisk on the end of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Where does it say in John 3:16 that God only loves those in the world who are straight? Where does it say in John 3:16 that God only loves those in the world who don’t struggle with same sex attraction? Where does it say in John 3:16 that God only loves YOU as a sinner and not someone else who sins differently than you do?
Bottom line: It doesn’t. And similarly, there is no asterisk at the end of the second greatest command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Just as God loves every person regardless of the specifics of his/her personal sin, we who follow Christ must love every person in the same way. Love is the orientation that every follower of Jesus is called to. Billy Graham said it so well: “It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. It’s God’s job to judge. It’s my job to love.”
#2: God is smarter than we are in understanding the complex dynamics that lead to same sex attraction. In recent years extensive research has been done to determine the root causes of same sex attraction. Are the roots genetic and biological, or are they environmental? At this time, the jury is still out. We know that many gay men and women experienced dysfunctional and destructive family dynamics while growing up. But so did many straight men and women. We know that many gay adults were sexually violated by trusted family members and friends during their formative childhood years. But that alone can’t explain same sex attraction either. You and I should never be so arrogant as to think that we have same sex attraction all figured out. But thankfully, according to Psalm 147:5, God has ALL things figured out. And since He does, we can and should follow His lead. Which leads us to point #3:
#3: God expects His followers to speak the truth in love. The Bible is very clear from the first two chapters of Genesis that God created two genders: male and female. And God designed full sexual expression to be ultimately between one man and one woman in the safety and context of a marriage relationship. Therefore, any straight or same sex sexual activity outside of that ethic is outside God’s design and plan. That’s not the truth that many in the LGBT community want to hear, but frankly that’s not the truth that many in the straight community want to hear either.
The truth is: God considers any sexual activity to be a sin that is outside of the marriage relationship between one man and one woman. Therefore, the Bible condemns heterosexual premarital sex (aka, fornication), heterosexual extramarital sex (aka, adultery) extramarital lust (aka, mental adultery) and homosexuality (see Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27). The fact is, all of us have sinned sexually in one way or another, and because of that we all stand in desperate need of the forgiveness and grace of our holy God. To say it another way: God doesn’t see us as gay or straight. He sees us all as lost and dying sinners who need to repent and receive His mercy and grace.
A few final insights. Jesus never taught: “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Jesus’ teaching can better be summarized as, “Love the sinner, but hate your OWN sin.” You and I need to focus on the filthy plank in our own eyes. Finally, we as followers of Christ need to be able to answer two important questions. Since LGBT people are already attending our churches, the first question is, “Is our church a safe enough place where they can find love and support and allow God to work in them to contend with His truth?” And secondly, “Do we as Christians share this message loud and clear? ‘Just as you are, you matter to God. And just as you are, you matter to this church.’” Because of a blood-stained cross and an empty tomb, there is hope for all of us sinners.
Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit www.YourVictorvilleChurch.com and join us for worship Sundays at 10 a.m.