Of the many complexities involving the church and homosexuality, one of the most difficult is how the former should speak of the latter. Even for those Christians who agree that homosexuality is contrary to the will of God there is little agreement on how we ought to speak about homosexuality being contrary to the will of God. Much of this disagreement is owing to the fact that there are many different constituencies we have in mind when broaching the subject. There are various groups that may be listening when we speak about homosexuality, and the group we think we are addressing usually dictates how we speak.

  • If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
  • If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
  • If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be apologetic and humble.
  • If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
  • If we are speaking to liberal Christians who have deviated from the truth once delivered for the saints, we want to be serious and hortatory.
  • If we are speaking to gays and lesbians who live as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be winsome and straightforward.
  • If we are speaking to belligerent Christians who hate or fear homosexuals, we want to be upset and disappointed.

So how ought we to speak about homosexuality? Should we be defiant and defensive or gentle and entreating? Yes and yes. It depends on who is listening. All seven scenarios above are real and not uncommon. And while some Christians may be called to speak to one group in particular, we must keep in mind that in this technological day and age anyone from any group may be listening in. This means that we will often be misunderstood. It also means we should make some broad basic commitments to each other and to our friends and foes in speaking about homosexuality.

Here are ten commitments I hope Christians and churches will consider making in their heads and hearts, before God and before a watching world.

1. We will preach through the Bible consecutively and expositionally that we might teach the whole counsel of God (even the unpopular parts) and to avoid riding hobby horses (even popular ones).

2. We will tell the truth about all sins, including homosexuality, but especially the sins most prevalent in our communities.

3. We will guard the truth of God’s word, protect God’s people from error, and confront the world when it tries to press us into its mold.

4. We will call all people to faith in Christ as the only way to the Father and the only way to have eternal life.

5. We will tell all people about the good news of the gospel, that Jesus died in our place and rose again so that we might be set free from the curse of the law and be saved from the wrath of God.

6. We will treat all Christians as new creations in Christ, reminding each other that our true identity is not based on sexuality or self-expression but on our union with Christ.

7. We will extend God’s forgiveness to all those who come in brokenhearted repentance, everyone from homosexual sinners to heterosexual sinners, from the proud to the greedy, from the people pleaser to the self-righteous.

8. We will ask for forgiveness when we are rude, thoughtless, or joke inappropriately about homosexuals.

9. We will strive to be a community that welcomes all those who hate their sin and struggle against it, even when that struggle involves failures and setbacks.

10. We will seek to love all  in our midst, regardless of their particular vices or virtues, by preaching the Bible, recognizing evidences of God’s grace, pointing out behaviors that dishonor the Lord, taking church membership seriously, exercising church discipline, announcing the free offer of the gospel, striving for holiness together, and exulting in Christ above all things.

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269 thoughts on “The Church and Homosexuality: Ten Commitments”

  1. Henry says:

    James,

    Do you really want answers or are you just feigning a search for the truth?

  2. DRT says:

    James, and Henry,

    I guess I don’t really understand what James is saying. First, I assume he just misspoke and he meant “men should not have headship”. But I don’t have a clue why complementarians would think this is has newness in Christ as part of the idea. Would someone enlighten me?

  3. Barry says:

    Hey Henry,
    Thanks for the Wenham recommendation.
    You’re probably familiar with Calvin’s remark in the Institutes that “Scripture exhibits fully as clear evidence of its own truth as white and black things do of their color…” Seems like an assertion to me– and a much easier one to make in the 16th century than the 4th.
    Have you heard of Eusebius of Eusebius of Caesarea (c. AD 263-339)? He’s famous for his Eccelesiastical History. A lot of facinating stuff in it, but I want to call attention to his remarks about the disputes over which books were canonical.
    Here’s a link if you want to check me (just a few short paragraphs for each “chapter”, see Book 3, Chs. 3 & 25). http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm

    This, as you may recall, is before Athanasius lists the eventual canonical books all together for the first time in 367 (which is after the Council of Nicaea in 325 of course). Councils and luminaries like Augustine, Jerome, and Pope Damasus helped seal the deal as the 4th century drew to a close.

    At any rate, Eusebius lists among the books that are debated in the Catholic Church:
    -2nd Peter, Hebrews, The Shepherd of Hermas, Revelation, James, Jude, and the Gospel according to the Hebrews
    (Of course, some of these made it and others did not. I have read elsewhere in primary sources that the Apocrypha was debated intensely as well. Augustine I know accepted as canonical, Jerome did not I believe. I have also read that there was significant Catholic debate about the Didache and 2&3 John.)
    -Eusebius also cites other gospels, acts, and epistles which Catholics generally rejected but other Christians accepted.
    -A huge criteria was which Catholic writers had accepted which books– ie, the tradition of churches of apostolic succession.
    -It should be remembered that the folks making these decisions believed in (and made scriptural arguments for) saint veneration,relic veneration, praying for the dead, the authority of councils, the authenticity of episcopal government, baptismal regeneration– and did NOT believe that the scripture taught justification by faith alone.
    I think this will help illustrate my point that canonical issues are not nearly as cut-and-dried as some assert. I saw that you just asked someone else if they were serious about knowing the truth. Are you as well?

  4. James Rednour says:

    @DRT

    My point is that this verse cannot be used as an argument against racism without also being used as an argument against complementarianism. The “neither Jew nor Greek” is no different than the “neither male nor female” statement. The point of that verse is to say that we are all equal in Christ. Comps have always indicated that that verse cannot be used as a starting point for egalitarianism. I disagree.

    I think Henry is absolutely right that that verse is an argument against racism, but I also think it is an argument against complementarianism.

    Now that I have clarified myself, I wish to apologize for leading the discussion in that direction. We are way off the original topic and I should not have directed the discussion down that path.

  5. Pingback: Nick’s Top 6 |
  6. DRT says:

    James Rednour, I agree. The plain reading of the text obviously points toward a non-patriarchal relationship between men and women. I view the term patriarchy to be more accurate than complementarian. Some strain out gnats but swallow camels, this is an obvious text against complementarianism.

  7. Steve Thompson says:

    I usually don’t comment on articles like this but I’m making an exception. Well said! I hope my church and others will utlize these 10 commitments.

  8. Ed says:

    I read DRT’s long argument for homosexual practices by both men and women, and I couldn’t help notice that he doesn’t have a basic understanding of what abhorrent and abomination mean. If something is an abhorrent act or an abomination it IS AN OFFENSE AGAINST GOD. And if he would read a little further, verse 24 reads, “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things by which the nations whom I am driving out of your way have defiled themselves.” So you see that clearly God also disapproves of those practices in other countries and cultures, and this also includes lesbian sex. Paul tells us clearly that ALL practicing homosexuals, men and women, will not inherit the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators not idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor PRACTICING HOMOSEXUALS (emphasis mine).” So please spare us the claptrap about the Bible not prohibiting homosexual sex by either male or female.

  9. Nicholas says:

    Just want to say thanks for your “thoughtful” remarks. Thanks to you my family doesn’t speak to me. Stop being a hatefilled church or start paying taxes.

  10. Everyone, including our Christian brothers and sisters, needs to look up the MEDICAL reasons for the rise in homosexuality before they continue in their blind and counterproductive crusade against the gay community. Google “xenoestrogens, sexual orientation”, “right hand finger length study, homosexuality”, “prenatal hormones, homosexuality” and related searches.

    Yes…there are MEDICAL reasons for homosexuality and they help explain why gay individuals often unequivocally state that they have felt the way they do for as long as they can remember. In some, it MAY BE a lifestyle choice. However, in others (as in most gays that I know), they have felt this way…even fought the compulsion to be this way…their entire life. They are as convinced of their sexual orientation as any heterosexual.

    NOW: This is not to say that “marriage” cannot remain defined as a union between a man and a woman” nor does it mean that homosexuals should be leaders in the church nor does it even say that people cannot change their sexual orientation if motivated enough to do so (e.g. by fervent prayer and acceptance of Scripture) The latter IS happening.

    BUT…the church is going to have to deal with the fact that homosexuality is NOT simply a matter of being “seduced by the dark side”. There is overwhelming medical evidence that sexual orientation CAN be changed in utero. Homosexuality is now much more than the “simple” lifestyle choice that the uneducated individual thinks it is.

  11. Derrick Rivers says:

    there is a book that will give you a real understanding of homosexuality and lesbianism. It is entitled BIBLE FACTS: knowing the Truth. go to http://www.verilybooks.com

  12. Ed says:

    Apparently Nicholas thinks that the Church is being hateful for speaking out against something, in this case homosexual acts, that it has held as a sin since the time of Jesus, and even longer when you look back to see when God gave us the 10 Commandments. Homosexual acts are a grave sin, and no amount of whitewashing will ever make it acceptable. The problem isn’t that the Church is being hateful, it is that people who engage in homosexual acts are sinners and the Church is doing her duty to speak out against it. As far as hate goes, I’ve seen a lot of hate expressed by the homosexual crowd while the Church speaks in Christian love.

    As far as John’s “medical” evidence supporting homosexuality as a natural state, poppycock. People who engage in homosexual acts do so because they want to. To use John’s argument, heterosexuals who engage in fornication or adultery are just doing what comes naturally. WRONG!!! Heterosexuals make a choice to engage in sinful sexual behavior or not, just as homosexuals make the choice to engage in sinful homosexual acts or not.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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