A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a church planter from New England. On a regular basis, people call the church and ask him if they are “welcoming.” He told me the conversation usually goes like this:

Pastor: We welcome everyone to join us in worship.

Caller: Are you welcoming to gays and lesbians?

Pastor: Yes, anyone and everyone is welcome.

Caller: What I mean is, are you welcoming and affirming? I’m a lesbian and I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.

Pastor: Anyone is welcome to come to our church. But when we meet Jesus—really experience him—we change. No one gets an opt-out of that. No one comes to Jesus and gets to stay the same.

Caller: Would I have to change my sexuality?

Pastor: Jesus is in the business of changing everything about us – our sexuality, our relationship to others, our money, our desires, and just about any aspect you can think of. So yes, coming to Jesus means change – not just for you, but for all of us.

Caller: Well, then this church isn’t for me.

My friend said the conversation is usually over once the caller realizes the church holds to traditional teaching regarding sexuality. He told me he always shakes his head and thinks, Who do we think we are, that we can come to God and tell Him what we will and will not change? 

You and I are like the lesbian caller.

Thinking about that phone call and the demands that were made before she would come to church led me to reflect on the nature of repentance and the ways – even if we don’t want to admit it – we are all like the lesbian caller. We want to be affirmed as we are.

If I join your church, will I be expected to change my prejudice and bigotry toward those of different races? I want a church where people look and think like me.

If I join your church, will I be expected to change my living arrangements? I know cohabitation isn’t best, but I don’t want the church prying into my personal life.

If I join your church, will I be expected to reach out to lost people with the gospel? I don’t want a church that’s always harping on evangelism.

If I join your church, will I be expected to give generously? I don’t want a church that talks about money too much.

If I join your church, will I be expected to serve? I’ve got a lot going on, and aside from a few hours a week, my schedule is off limits.

The list could go on. At the heart of this conversation is repentance. Can I come to Jesus on my own terms? Or will I have to change?

So many of us think of the lesbian caller and unknowingly respond like the Pharisee going to the temple to pray: “I thank you, God, that I’m not like that.” Meanwhile, we cling tenaciously to the sinful attitudes and actions that characterize our lives. And then we go home unjustified… and unchanged.

Print Friendly

Comments:


235 thoughts on “Learning from a Lesbian Visitor to Your Church”

  1. Lewrie Harmon says:

    Right on!! Struck a chord!Brought conviction and repentance!

  2. Bill says:

    Yes, you might ask the question, If I join your church, will I be expected to give up the belief that no one has the right to tell me which beliefs and behaviors I must give up?

    1. Cdiddy says:

      Why would you join a church with those expectations, if those were your expectations? Lol.

  3. Heath Lloyd says:

    Preach! I needed that.

  4. Wesley says:

    Trev –
    great post bro. Sad to hear about that call to your friend and i think you’re right that we often say the very same things ourselves. “We are all beggars; this is true.”

  5. This happens within the church, too. Have you ever heard anyone ask “Can I be a Christian and still play the lottery”, or the same question about drinking, about any other activity the believers frown on. What they’re saying is that, as opposed to living in the world, as much like Christ as we can, we want to be “in Christ” but live as much like the world as we can.

  6. Tim Martin says:

    I can’t help but to wonder if the best idea would be to present it, “We are here to help you seek the change that you feel convicted to seek as you come to know God.” After all, so many of us come to church with “hidden sins” of which we would not wish anyone to know. The church must wait for God to work on our hearts in those cases as well. Why should those who are open about their sin be treated differently than those who are not?

    1. Jessica says:

      Tim Martin: whether one feels “convicted” or not about a sin, a sin is a sin and yes, it does require change. Following the Messiah isn’t about what one “feels”.

    2. Diedra says:

      I think what you said is exactly right. All of us are at our own place with the Lord. None of us travels it exactly the same. I agree with your statement “We are here to help YOU seek the CHANGE that you feel CONVICTED to seek as you COME TO KNOW GOD”. The Holy Spirit is the ONLY ONE that brings about the right type of conviction in each and every one of us at just the right time for each individual. I think this would be a wonderful thing to say to anyone who is searching. Much better to get them in with the Lord, and to allow HIM to work with them as he sees fit not you nor me nor anyone else who may have high minded ideas.

      1. Sarah says:

        Does not the Holy Spirit often use the means of preaching to convict us of sin? Doesn’t He often use other Christians to point out our sin and call us to repentance?

        1. Sue says:

          Again, if even Jesus was not prepared to judge and convict how dare we?

          1. Rudi says:

            Where do you get the idea that Jesus did not judge and did not convict? I’m honestly surprised by this statement.

  7. Vic J. says:

    WHAM! That left a mark! Thanks

  8. Rev. Mathew Andersen says:

    I find it interesting and appalling that the cross and forgiveness are not mentioned here.

    yes, change happens and is a necessary correlation of faith. But the great failing of modern Christianity is that we look ahead to change and often try to create that change without the cross.

    The phone conversation can be seen in two different ways by the caller depending on her past experience.

    1: In asking, “will I have to change my sexuality?” she may have had the experience of churches essentially telling her that change of sexual orientation was a prerequisite of forgiveness, that, in order to be forgiven she first had to stop being a sinner. Since this is impossible to do, it makes forgiveness unattainable and turns Christianity into works-righteousness.

    2: She may have been involved in some of the ex-gay attempts which often went wrong (non so much, I believe, because of Exodus etc but because of the way the Church as a whole mishandled them). If this is the case, then the pastor, in answering the way he did, came off as a snake-oil salesman, offering a promise he could not deliver.

    Either way, by jumping ahead to the result of faith (change) instead of it’s heart (the cross), the pastor really blew it.

    So also, all the questions asked, “will I be expected to ……?” bypass the cross and the pastor’s job should be to pull it back to the cross. You did a good job of confronting the reader with our own sin – but now bring it home. Bring it to the cross for the forgiveness of sins and then, and only then, speak of the change the cross enacts.

    1. Melody says:

      Jesus is the cross. He clearly stated when you meet Jesus you change. He didn’t say you change for any other reason.

      I don’t understand why you are nitpicking something that is so clear.

      You can know about Jesus your whole life and never change. But you can’t say He is Lord and not feel the desire to change. God causes that. Not the pastor and not anyone else with the so called perfect words or perfect presentation.

      God saves. Period

      1. EricP says:

        The reason for the “nitpicking” is the pastor has made it harder for her to meet Jesus. By creating a higher bar for one sin than others, we push some sinners away from us and from Christ.

        1. Melody says:

          So you missed the word “everyone” and the other part about money, relationships, ect?
          Or you just chose to ignore it because it doesn’t fit your agenda?
          He repeatably said everyone is welcome.

          If someone called and said do you welcome prostitutes and can I keep my job no one would take the angle that isn’t obvious sin.

          1. EricP says:

            The prostitute analogy would be if she called and said do I need to quit my job before I visit? The pastor basically said “yes, you do”

            Look at the other questions, would you expect your pastor to tell visitors that they need to:
            1. Welcome people who look and think differently than they do.
            2. Give up pornography and lustful thoughts.
            3. Give 10% of their income.
            4. Spread the good news that they haven’t heard yet.
            5. Agree to serve before visiting.

            If that’s what you want your visitors to look like, then you are just interested in poaching the best sheep from other flocks and not reaching the lost.

          2. Rudi says:

            EricP: “The prostitute analogy would be if she called and said do I need to quit my job before I visit? The pastor basically said ‘yes, you do'”

            No, that’s not what he said. I’m getting sick of saying this: go back, read the article, apply common sense and third grade reading comprehension, and explain to me where he said that you need to be without sin BEFORE ENTERING THE CHURCH BUILDING. THIS IS NOT IN THE ARTICLE.

            The lesbian originally asked whether she would be welcome, regardless of her sin. The pastor said yes. Then she asked whether she’d EVER need to change. The pastor said yes. How you folks are spinning this to mean that she would not be allowed across the threshold in the first place except if she were already a saint is completely beyond me.

          3. EricP says:

            She asks: “I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.”
            He answers: Yes. You could read his answer to say he didn’t mean right away. I’m sure he didn’t mean right away. I’m also sure that’s not what she heard. She was asking “Will I be judged if I visit?” and he answers yes.

        2. Hal says:

          This is not really about a lesbian who wants to join the church. It is about us–the church–and the conditional obedience we try to maintain instead of full repentance.

          1. Melody says:

            No it’s not about lesbians. It is about being deceptive and manipulative to lessen sexual sins so the world will be happy.

            No other individual, except those guilty of sexual sin wether homosexual behavior, shacking up or divorce would expect to have rules changed for them. A murderer would not call and asked to be “affirmed”.

            You cannot give someone the gospel AND affirm them as being good enough already.

    2. Pastor Sue says:

      Great word . . . it’s not just homosexuality that the Lord is able to change in someone willing to let Him examine their hearts alongside the plumb line of the Word of God! As for those who say we must come as we are, that is true, but we must come with repentant hearts, seeking to have God change us — not just from the sin of homosexuality, but from all sin.

  9. Mike Gloom says:

    This is an awful, awful analogy. Asking if a church is “accepting” for a non-straight person isn’t about “Will Jesus make me change my sexuality?” and actually one hundred percent “If I go to this church, will I be able to feel safe? Am I going to be looked at as a lower sinner by the rest of my church congregation?” Jesus isn’t really “safe” in a way that I can expect to be comfortable in a service, but I don’t want to have anything to do with a church that looks down on people who don’t fit the WASP profile that churches in America love to focus on.

    1. Rudi says:

      You need to reread the conversation, then. The caller is the one who asked if the church would require her to change her sexuality, so yes, that is what she was asking. Not whatever else you decided to read into it.

      1. Dawn says:

        But you dont need to change your sexuality before you come to church…..

        1. Rudi says:

          No, you don’t, and the pastor didn’t say that, either. Are we reading the same article?

    2. Melody says:

      What kind of safe are you looking for? The kind that doesn’t tell you that God’s wrath is still on you if you choose to go on through life without Jesus’ work on the cross?
      How can anyone comprehend what Christ suffered on the cross if they are never told what would be waiting for them without Him experiencing that wrath. And after comprehending what He suffered for us how could we ever walk away demanding that we get to remain in our sin but get the “get out of hell” card. We don’t get to demand anything.

      1. There’s nothing safe about being a Christian.

  10. It’s a lot like those who seem to think that Jesus is only Lord if they choose to make Him Lord and, even then, it’s only a little at a time and He doesn’t completely become Lord until they go home to be with Him (if, indeed, they’re even saved). I agree with the statement attributed to William Carey (the “father” of modern missions): “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!” The FACT of the matter is that Jesus is Lord because of who He is, not because we – in our wicked arrogance – think that He somehow needs our permission to rule and reign over us and that He can only rule and reign to the extent that we let Him.

    Several years ago, I went to a church that had an ex-gay ministry and the pastor there once said that he wanted to work the church out of that specific ministry because every church should be able to help homosexuals gain and maintain victory over sin and purity within (as for the underlying attraction, that’s for God to heal in His time, even if He doesn’t do it until He takes the person home to be with Him). “Ex-gay” doesn’t mean that a person has gone from lusting after the same sex to lusting after the opposite sex – God doesn’t change one sin for another. It means that a person no longer embraces and acts on his or her same-sex attraction – that the person agrees that the attraction is contrary to God’s created design for male and female and that embracing and acting on it is sin and acts accordingly. So-called “reparative therapy” is the wickedness of syncretism because it’s bringing a worldly philosophy (psychology) into the Church and it says that Christ and His word are insufficient.

    Back to the article, though; “welcoming and affirming” is code for “I can keep my homosexual identity and you will affirm and celebrate my homosexuality.” Since salvation is ENTIRELY God’s doing (including the faith necessary to believe and including the ability to repent; salvation is thus monergistic, not sinnergistic), there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves ready to be saved. We are, from the moment of conception, spiritually dead and the dead cannot will themselves or do anything to bring themselves to life. The lesbian in the article is incapable of becoming heterosexual, of becoming sexually/romantically attracted to the opposite sex. She must rely on the grace and mercy of God to heal the unnatural attraction and she must agree with God that embracing and acting on that attraction is sin – something over which she must gain and maintain victory through the power of the Holy Spirit (which she will not have unless God first grants her salvation).

  11. Jerry Smith says:

    The problem is no one wants to repent, they want to stay as they are enjoying their besetting sins while believing they have salvation & a free ticket to Heaven at their death. And many churches wants to grow in membership so bad they’re willing to compromise in order to grow in numbers.
    Oh, the analogy is great, its just that hardly anyone wants to let Christ live through them Ga. 2:20, they’re to selfish to give up their lust. And its true, if one truly makes the trip to the Cross of Jesus & are truly born again, they will changed, Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; Eph. 2:15; Ro. 6:4; 2 Co 4:15; 2 Co. 5:17.

    1. Glenn says:

      True and to the point.

  12. Dennis says:

    The gospel calls us to repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). So change is an essential condition for entrance into the Christian life. No change = no Christian. But though there is a radical and initial renunciation of sin (e.g. 1 Cor. 6:9-11), there is also an ongoing process of change as we learn to live more and more in keeping with the implications of that initial change (e.g. 2 Cor. 7:1). So an article like this can confuse matters by making good statements, but not making clear distinctions. As a converted homosexual, there was an initial renunciation of engaging in gay sex and the whole gay mindset, but there has also been the subsequent learning to think and feel and act more and more in conformity with God’s will as expressed in the Bible (Rom. 12:1-2). One was a prerequisite for coming into the church, the other is part of being in the church.

    1. Tim Martin says:

      Exactly – there is change that comes with the Justification; I think of it as an awakening of the desire to glorify God. From there, the process of Sanctification kicks in. In my case, I know it has been a long, long road that (God willing) still stretches out before me!

  13. EricP says:

    “I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.”

    The answer to this particular question should always be no. She’s not asking to be a member, a leader, an elder, or a pastor. She is asking can she visit this church. How can we put requirements on a visitor? Weren’t we all sinners when we came to Christ?

    1. Melody says:

      Your quote is not in the article. That is dishonest. Here is what is actually in the article. The caps emphasis is mine so you won’t miss it.

      Pastor: ANYONE is WELCOME to come to our church. But when we meet Jesus—really experience him—
      WE CHANGE. NO ONE gets an opt-out of that. NO ONE comes to Jesus and gets to stay the same.

      Caller: Would I have to change my sexuality?

      Pastor: JESUS is in the business of changing everything about us – our sexuality, our relationship to others, our money, our desires, and just about any aspect you can think of. So yes, coming to Jesus means change – NOT JUST FOR YOU, but FOR ALL OF US.

      1. EricP says:

        I should be more careful using quotes when I paraphrase.

        My point was her real question was: I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.

        He said his church would not accept her until she changed her sexuality.

        You can go over his words and try to refute that, but the fact that so many people here “heard” that message.

        If that’s not the message he wanted to deliver, he could have delivered no mini-sermon or one on seeking the lost (lost sheep, lost coin). By answering a question about sexuality with a response about sin, he effectively says we will see you only as a sinner.

        1. Melody says:

          NO you do not get to paraphrase a conversation to mean what you want to put into it. You are not a mind reader either. So you don’t get to justify it with “what she meant”. That is how people start gossip and you are slandering the pastor. THAT is sin. You are sinning. It’s not a difference of opinion. You are deliberely misrepresenting his words and intentions to slander him. You can find a whole crowd to crucify him for it but you would still be wrong and you know it.

          I will not engage this conversation any farther.

        2. EricP, quotes are for quoting someone’s exact statement, not for paraphrases. Further, the nature of the lesbian’s question had nothing to do with wanting to be a one-time visitor to that pastor’s church. Lesbians generally ask the questions this one asked when they’re looking for a church home.

          1. EricP says:

            Quotes are also for when someone else is speaking. I was not asking “I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.” The lesbian was asking that question. I should have started with “the lesbian was really asking…” Again, not I used quotes not to indicate a verbatim reference but to indicate a phrase of text.

            http://www.whitesmoke.com/quotation-marks-uses

            If that’s enough pedantry for you, let’s move to the main issue. What we do know is that the woman wanted to visit at least once and now she won’t. She probably was looking for a church home (many visitors are). The real question is can the church demand members to repent of their sins in a specific order. The sins that bother us or the sins that bother God? What if someone takes too long to repent? Out they go? Can someone be a long time visitor but not a member? We are to love sinners. When they feel loved, they may listen.

          2. EricP, I’m fairly certain that the lesbian in question was looking for a church home. Can the Church demand members to repent of their sins in a specific order? Repentance doesn’t work that way and I think you know it doesn’t. Scripture never says that we repent of one sin at a time, it just commands us to repent (“God commands all people everywhere to repent”; “Repent, and believe in the gospel”). Regardless, unless that repentance takes place (a repentance God grants), unless regeneration likewise takes place (which is God’s doing), then the person is not part of the Church no matter if she attends church services every Sunday for the next 50 years. If there is no regeneration or repentance, there is no salvation and the person – no matter how long she attends a local church – is still just an “outsider” (to use the singular form of Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV).

            And, yes, I know what the lesbian was asking (I read the article, too). However, you didn’t put her actual statement in quotes, you paraphrased. Using quotation marks for your paraphrase wasn’t one of the uses listed in the link that you provided. We don’t use quotation marks when we’re paraphrasing.

          3. EricP says:

            I went and re-read. I gave Chancellor and Melody the benefit of the doubt, but I had in fact quoted directly.

            Here is the full quote from the article:

            “Caller: What I mean is, are you welcoming and affirming? I’m a lesbian and I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.”

            Here is the quote from my response.
            “I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.”

            Is that enough for the quote business?

            You said “Repentance doesn’t work that way and I think you know it doesn’t. Scripture never says that we repent of one sin at a time, it just commands us to repent”

            I absolutely, 100% agree. That’s why I think we need to accept homosexuals into our church if they repent in general, but not specifically about homosexuality. Just like others don’t immediately repent on swearing, slander, pre-marital sex, drug use, etc and we accept them.

        3. EricP says:

          Melody,

          Do you think by change, he might mean not pointing out the perceived sins of others so quickly? You accused me of dishonesty, then misrepresentation, slander, gossip, and wanting to crucify the preacher. You take my comment that many people heard what I heard and take it to mean I’m leading a murderous mob. What I clearly meant is that communication is more than the words that we say.

          You say I can’t paraphrase the conversation, but you summarize the whole article as “It is about being deceptive and manipulative to lessen sexual sins so the world will be happy.” That also contradicts your other statement above quoting the pastor “changing everything about us – our sexuality, our relationship to others, our money, our desires, and just about any aspect you can think of.”

          Finally, you say below “Love means expecting the best and not thinking the worst.” Have your responses to me or this fictional character been loving?

          1. Luke says:

            EricP is way off base. EricP really needs to evaluate his posts to see if if he is adding anything of value to the conversation. In time he will realize that he is not.
            Thanks, Luke

          2. Rudi says:

            Eric, at this point what you are engaged in is not an argument but equivocation. I suggest you learn the difference.

            Plus: communication is more than the words that we say? Clearly you seem to think so, as you can find all sorts of phantom meanings in the text (both the article and the comments) that are not there. I’ve heard of the death of the author, but this is ridiculous!

            And finally, your accusation that our responses to you have been “unloving” is not founded in reality. You seem to want to prohibit us from reasoning with you, because if we defeat your arguments, then we’re not being “loving.” What a cop-out! Take a look at how Jesus interacted with the money-changers, or John with the Pharisees, or read some of the writings of Martin Luther for that matter, and tell me whether it conforms to your fictionalized idea of what a Christian should be like. Sorry; we are called to be meek and to live in peace with others if it’s up to us, but we are not called to be spineless pushovers. And if you can’t see the difference, then quite frankly, that’s your problem.

          3. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            Melody said, “You can find a whole crowd to crucify him for it but you would still be wrong and you know it.”

            I have no problems engaging in a discussion. The issue is statements like “That is dishonest.”, ” That is how people start gossip and you are slandering the pastor. THAT is sin. You are sinning. “, ” You are deliberely misrepresenting his words and intentions to slander him.” and the aforementioned crucify comment.

            Chancellor Roberts agrees with Melody and makes the same points without name calling. If I was on a secular site and I was attacked like this, I would not be surprised. To be attacked by Christians is very disappointing.

            Rudi, was Jesus harsh to the people who insisted on the letter of the law or those who broke the law? It was the former. I’m warning of the dangers of legalism overcoming our call to seek and save the lost.

            Luke, that’s what I’m adding to the conversation. Sinners are not our enemies. We should not look for ways to exclude them from our midst under the guise of maintaining our theological purity.

          4. Rudi says:

            Eric, repentance is not optional, nor is the requirement of repentance an insistence on the “letter of the law.”

            As for who Jesus was “harsh” to, it really varies. Lots of people earned His ire. You might want to narrow it down a bit. And nothing that Melody said was really that “out there.” Biblical language includes such choice phrases as “brood of vipers,” so she hasn’t really gone anywhere near any boundaries. You’re being a bit too sensitive in my opinion, and trying to use the fact that you took offense as an argument in and of itself. This is ill-advised.

            I think you’ve been in this conversation for too long and have lost all perspective. The pastor was behaving in exactly the way you are telling him to behave, to wit: welcoming unbelievers into the midst of the congregation. However, when he was asked point-blank whether his congregation considered a homosexual lifestyle to be sinful, he answered in the affirmative. To do otherwise would have been dishonest.

            On the other hand, if you want us to be so seeker-friendly that we’re outright dishonest about what we believe in answer to direct queries, then you are telling us that the salt is too salty. That we should never ask people to repent lest they be driven out of the confines of our inoffensive little social club. That the mark of the true church is not that the world will hate and persecute us, but that we should all aspire to be model guests on Oprah. I believe that you are wrong.

          5. EricP says:

            I’m not offended by Melody. I’m disappointed. I’m also trying to point out her hypocrisy. As you know Romans 1:24-27 condemns homosexuality. Romans 1:29-30 condemns people who “are full of envy, murder, strife, *deceit* and *malice*. They are *gossips*, 30 *slanderers*, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful;”

            According to her, I would be no more welcome at her church than the lesbian. Or if she is slandering me, she should not attend her own church.

            To be clear, I’m saying we treat one sin (homosexuality) different than other sins (all of those other ones).

            What the pastor said is true. It also guaranteed she would not attend. He could have said, “We are all sinners and only God can change us.” That’s also true, and she may or may not have attended.

            The true mark of the church is that we are known for our love. If you ask the world, we are known for our hatred of homosexuals.

            Finally, when you do outreach to the LBGT community, would you invite them back to your church? What about your LBGT friends or family? If not, how are they to hear the word of God?

          6. Rudi says:

            Eric, read your own Scripture quote, then do a find/replace in the conversation between the pastor and the lesbian. Let’s take, oh for example, “God-hater,” and see how this plays out. If you’ll permit me:

            Pastor: We welcome everyone to join us in worship.

            Caller: Are you welcoming to God-haters?

            Pastor: Yes, anyone and everyone is welcome.

            Caller: What I mean is, are you welcoming and affirming? I hate God, and I want to know if I will be expected to change in order to come to your church.

            Pastor: Anyone is welcome to come to our church. But when we meet Jesus—really experience him—we change. No one gets an opt-out of that. No one comes to Jesus and gets to stay the same.

            Caller: Would I have to quit hating God?

            Pastor: Jesus is in the business of changing everything about us – our sexuality, our relationship to others, our money, our desires, and just about any aspect you can think of. So yes, coming to Jesus means change – not just for you, but for all of us.

            Caller: Well, then this church isn’t for me.

            I hope that the lesson here (and how it parallels a problem that every believer must face whenever any given sin holds particular attraction for them) is obvious. We all have sin that we have trouble letting go of. And we can all be saved in spite of it. But if we expect it to be affirmed, if we expect our pastor not only to censor condemnation of that sin out of the Scriptures, but also to outright PRAISE the commission of that sin? Then we have not repented. Them’s the breaks.

            And again: repentance is not a prerequisite for church attendance, and the pastor did not portray it as such.

          7. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            Can you tell a god-hater by looking at them? If not, why would that conversation happen in the first place? Do you think a gossip, a braggart, or a greedy person would feel the need to check in with the pastor first? Aren’t those sins much more common than homosexuality?

          8. Rudi says:

            Pardon me, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Are you suggesting that all gays are just so obvious that one can tell if someone’s gay at a glance? Not only is that vaguely offensive to gays, it’s not even true!

          9. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            I should have been clearer. I meant if a gay couple showed up. Obviously, you can’t tell a gay person by looking at them.

            On my other point, let me try again. I’ve heard at church, “we would accept a repentant homosexual”. On the other hand, I’ve never heard, “we would accept a repentant gossip, slanderer, etc” One sin is getting singled out.

          10. Rudi says:

            Okay, two things. First: why is this sin being “singled out?” Because there is a massive campaign against calling it a sin. If there were a huge push within the church to stop seeing pornography as a sin, and demanding that pastors should not only allow it, but display and applaud it in church, I imagine that there would be a comparable response (and probably an even stronger one than against homosexuality).

            Second: the entire point of this article is that we ourselves are guilty of having the same attitude, albeit with different sins.

          11. EricP, you wrote, “That’s why I think we need to accept homosexuals into our church if they repent in general, but not specifically about homosexuality. Just like others don’t immediately repent on swearing, slander, pre-marital sex, drug use, etc and we accept them.”

            No, you can’t say you agree with me that scripture doesn’t say we repent one sin at a time and then say essentially that we do repent of one sin at a time by saying that “others don’t immediately repent [of] swearing, slander…”

            Repentance doesn’t mean that we become perfect and never sin again; but, yes, the lesbian would be expected to STOP embracing and acting on her homosexuality at the moment of repentance. She will be expected to stop accepting homosexuality as her “identity.” Will she be tempted to engage in homosexual activity? Yes. Will the underlying unnatural attraction still be there? Yes, unless God chooses to heal it. Will the person who uses expletives still be tempted? Yes. Will he occasionally slip? Possibly. Likewise the slanderer, etc. You and I still sin: does that mean we never repented (and, thus, aren’t saved)? No.

            When a lesbian asks if she will be expected to change, she means will she be expected to become heterosexual. Her question was a loaded one and “welcoming and affirming” is code for “you accept and celebrate my homosexuality.” Should she be allowed to attend church services? Yes. Should she be allowed to bring her “partner” and sit in the pew like a married couple and show public displays of affection like married couples do (e.g. holding hands, kissing, having their arm around each other)? No, because she is engaging in homosexual activity, which is sin. (For the record, I don’t think unmarried heterosexual couples should be showing public displays of affection either, but that was the topic of another TGC blog).

            We have to separate attending church services from becoming a member of the church. Regardless of whatever else churches do with regard to membership, the Bible is clear that “outsiders” (see 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 ESV for that term) are not part of the Church. You cannot be part of the Church unless God has brought you to salvation. Churches have no business welcoming outsiders into membership (since God doesn’t welcome them) and to do so is to have fellowship with darkness (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-15). Further, you can’t treat outsiders as if they are part of the Church – you can’t let them take communion, for example. It must be made clear that they are outsiders and will remain outsiders unless God brings them to salvation.

          12. Cdiddy says:

            I think you’re all missing the point here. Truth is, idle chatter from within the church is going to change as much as idle chatter outside. Trying to change EricP, Melody or Chancellor or whoever you people are is like trying to change the lesbian herself. You won’t.

            You’re not going to convict someone, or change them by the phone, internet… You’re not going to change them at all. They change from the inside, where God shows us the inner workings of our own hearts. Whether by others’ love, or the hardest of circumstances, GOD shows us who we are. Not any of you.

            I had the same life changing lesson in a conversation with a nihilist. And guess what? I had to give up. Because I realized that honestly, it doesn’t really matter what I think opposed to them. I’m not convincing him of anything. In all the trying and trying to bring him to hope, I learned something. The internal workings of MY heart were changed in that conversation.

            We’re all closer to each other than you think, and we all have the same nature. However, as stated in the Matrix “You didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand why you made it.”

            You probably think me ridiculous, using the Matrix in a biblical argument. But it’s true. That lesbian already chose that she didn’t want to change. And that’s a stone heart, cold and unchanging. EricP, no matter how many times he refutes himself or the Bible, isn’t changing due to either of you. And neither of you are changing your “biblical stance” due to EricP’s chatter.

            However, if you open up the stone gates inside, and let the Spirit permeate your dark soul, you might experience the same change the pastor spoke of to the lesbian. Not many people experience this.

            Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

          13. Rudi says:

            Cdiddy,

            I appreciate what you’re saying here. Arguments on the internet rarely convince people. I do sometimes withdraw from an internet argument to lick my wounds and think things over, yet rarely change my mind. However, I have often learn something from them.

            I would argue that engaging in a discussion such as this one, versus directly ministering the Gospel to someone, are not the same thing; and so failing to convert someone to your point of view is not a mark against having such a discussion, except if you are doing so as a replacement for missionary work. Apologetics is no replacement for the convicting work of the Spirit, but that doesn’t mean that it has no place at all.

            We’re not going to change someone’s opinion by arguing at them necessarily, but we must be ready to give a defense (1 Pet 3:15), and to do this of course in a respectful way. I will admit that I might have slipped up a bit on the latter part of that statement due to impatience (hooray, another thing to repent of!), but the point stands.

            However, like I said, you are right that this particular comment thread is not all that important in the grander scheme of things. Just allow us to have our fun :P

  14. Chet Andrews says:

    This was very well handled by the pastor. “Speak the truth in love” Ephesians 4:15.

  15. Scott says:

    There are several things to add here:
    1. Church is for Christians – not lost people. While we welcome anyone to come, the truth is that lost people should not feel very comfortable once inside and under the influence of the Christianity that should be there. This isn’t because people are mean spirited or unloving, but because of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
    2. You shouldn’t be expected to do any of the things on the aforementioned list. That’s just silly.
    3. Everyone in the Bible that ever turned to Jesus experienced an immediately changed life. It’s not that anyone is expected to change. When someone surrenders their life to the Lordship of Jesus, they change, for the better, and have an immediate desire to follow Jesus.

    4. There is so much sexual sin in the church today – with straight people – it is hypocritical to judge homosexuality as if it is somehow worse than any other sexual sin. Don’t think the lost people around us can’t see this.

    So the answer to the lesbian should be: “No, you will not be expected to change your sexuality.” Love her, be truthful from the Bible, and let Jesus do what He does to people.

    1. “So the answer to the lesbian should be: ‘No, you will not be expected to change your sexuality.’ Love her, be truthful from the Bible, and let Jesus do what He does to people.”

      No, that is NOT what the answer should be. That answer says to the lesbian, “you can continue to embrace and act on your same-sex attraction. You don’t have to follow the teachings of God’s word. You’re free to come to this church and, by your life, continue to tell God that you expect Him to accept you as you are and to embrace and celebrate your sexuality.” The lesbian, hearing “No, you will not be expected to change your sexuality,” is going to think that she doesn’t have to give up her sin, that she can continue to be a lesbian and be open about it and bring her “partner” to church with her and sit together like any married couple.

      We’re not talking about someone just visiting the church once, we’re talking about someone who was looking for a church home.

  16. Aaron says:

    Yeah I second what a few others have said here. The conversation seems analogous to the Pharisees turning away cripples, prostitutes, lepers and tax collectors. There should be no expectation of change for unbelievers. If the idea here is that she’s claiming to be a lesbian and a Christian and is looking for a church home, then that’s another story altogether.

    1. Rudi says:

      To repent means to make a change! If she is unwilling to change, straight off the bat, then she is unwilling to repent.

      Remember, when Jesus saved the harlot from being stoned, He didn’t just tell her, “Go.” He went on, “… and sin no more.” There is definitely an expectation for change; God expects that from us. (This is different from preaching a works based salvation, as works are not a prerequisite.)

      Note: the lesbian did not ask, “Do I need to quit being homosexual before I’m allowed to enter?” She asked: “Will you affirm me in my current lifestyle?” The pastor’s answer: they don’t require you to change before entering the church. There is no taboo on homosexuals entering the premises. However, you cannot expect to maintain a sinful lifestyle once there. In order to be a Christian, you are required to repent.

    2. Aaron, she was very likely looking for a church home. I don’t think she was just wanting to visit once to see what was like. I agree with Rudi’s statement: “The pastor’s answer: they don’t require you to change before entering the church. There is no taboo on homosexuals entering the premises. However, you cannot expect to maintain a sinful lifestyle once there. In order to be a Christian, you are required to repent.”

  17. Jay says:

    If the pastor had truly loved the caller, he would have shared the Gospel with her, or asked a couple of respectful, professional questions about her relationship with Christ, trying to deduce where she stands with that. Her answer to these questions would determine whether she would ever be open to changing her sexuality, and whether she would feel comfortable in the church. It seems to me the pastor does not really love the caller. He would have cared more about her salvation than about her sin.

    1. Melody says:

      You have no idea if someone is open to believing in the gospel based on the questions you ask. You do not get to determine that. God is the one that saves. God is the one that calls. God is the one that works on the heart. God is also the one that hardens a heart further in their refusal to hear the truth.
      CS Lewis was an atheist. Paul was a murderer of Christians. Evil Knievel did not meet Jesus until late in his life. You cannot guess who is God’s children. Only the shepherd knows.

      He loved her enough to tell her that Jesus changes everyone that meets Him.
      Love means expecting the best and not thinking the worst. Giving grace to others that we have received. That goes for pastors too. Even if they are not our personal pastor they are brothers in Christ and we are called to love them. He is not in sin, we have no business judging him.

  18. Jerry Smith says:

    Even is your an unbeliever, sin, what ever sin it may be your involved in, its sinning against God & you should repent of your sins.

    God’s message to the sinner is:
    And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:2,3

  19. Carrie says:

    Sadly, this is the very reason our church is so splintered these days. The Lord established one church. But these days people leave because “they don’t like this teaching”, or “that doesn’t fit with my lifestyle”, or “I don’t like the music” or “I wish the church allowed a,b,c…” so they craft a new church, somewhat like the old one, but with a little something missing. After enough changes, the church no longer looks like the church Christ intended, and becomes some watered down copy, with each church hoping their flock will be the one most like that which Christ established. We need to become one again. But not by accepting our sinful natures as normal. We must seek reconciliation with the Lord. We must die to ourselves, so that we may become something better..something different..something Holy. Remember the Lord’s prayer: “Thy kingdom come, THY WILL be done”. Not our will, His will

  20. Collin says:

    I see a few problems with this article. I wouldn’t disagree with the pastor’s or author’s statements as I understand gist of this article. Once one enters into a personal relationship with Christ, change is inevitable. We throw off the old and put on the new. I would slightly disagree with a few subsequent posts stating that change is a condition/requirement of salvation. Change is an inevitable result of repenting and accepting Christ.

    However, I see two distinctions in this article. Christ and the Church. While idealistically and biblically, Christ is the head and the church is the body. As a body of believers we exist to further the Kingdom of God through our spiritual gifts described in Romans in service to one another and to God. However, in reality, I think everyone would agree that often times we fall short. We bring some major emotional baggage to the table that distort our perception of God and the role of the Church.

    One of those distortions is the North American’s belief that it is our responsibility to behaviorally modify those that we believe are sinners around us. I think what the real question the lesbian was asking is “If I visit your church, and I don’t live up to your standards, are you going to reject me?” That is an applicable question for not just the lesbian but for everyone. Most hide their dirty secret in order to maintain the acceptable standard laid down by North American cultural christianity. Our variety of Christianity is notably known for pushing an un-biblical standard on people around us causing many to outright reject christ. I have had countless conversations where people have experienced such rejections. We as a church need to approach people who don’t believe, and the entire bible, through the lens of christ’s greatest commandments and christ’s actions on the cross. We should let God worry about the change as it is His domain and his alone. Who do we think we are as a church that we can’t stand to be criticized by a populace that has been historically burned by “christians”?

    1. Melody says:

      Why would we read into what she said to mean something different than what she said? Why wouldn’t we accept her words to be truthful?

      She was looking for a church that would affirm her. That is what she said. By asking to be affirmed, she wanted a place that would say that she was perfect just the way she is. There are places that will tell you that but they are lying to you because they either don’t care about eternity, don’t believe in the power of God or don’t love you enough to speak the truth because they want to be popular.

      af·firm verb \ə-ˈfərm\
      : to say that something is true in a confident way

      : to show a strong belief in or dedication to (something, such as an important idea)

      law : to decide that the judgment of another court is correct

      Full Definition of AFFIRM

      transitive verb
      1 a : validate, confirm
      b : to state positively
      2 : to assert (as a judgment or decree) as valid or confirmed
      3 : to express dedication to
      intransitive verb

      1 : to testify or declare by affirmation as distinguished from swearing an oath
      2 : to uphold a judgment or decree of a lower court

    2. Collin, the change comes with the repentance and is the fruit or evidence of that repentance; it isn’t a prerequisite (unless you want to take John Baptist’s comment in Matthew 3:8 KJV about bringing fruits “meet” for repentance that way, though I’m not convinced that’s how to take his statement, particularly if you read the passage in another formal equivalence translation like the ESV). I think we agree on that point.

      However, outsiders will always be outsiders unless and until God brings them to salvation. They can attend church services, but they will always be spectators. They cannot participate in the ordinances of the Church (baptism and communion) and cannot be members. The Church is only for those that God has brought to salvation. With that in mind, look at what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (ESV): “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'” (The command at the end, given in the form of a quote from the Old Testament, refers to the brother in the Corinthian church who was having a sexual relationship with his step mother).

  21. Jenna says:

    It’s got nothing to do with going to church. Anyone can go to church, the church is full of sinners. Changing your sinful ways isn’t a prerequisite of joining church, if it were, none of us would be a part of a church. The church should be a church that preaches the Bible and encourages a closer walk with God and from there, people’s personal walk with Christ would convict them on their own. Whoever said church is for Christians is both true and false, it SHOULDN’T be just for Christians, it should be for everyone. Those of us who expect people to change their sexuality to come to church should expect to have that conversation with everyone in it involving sins, including sins of commission and omission. It’s not the church’s job to change people’s hearts and sinful behavior, that can only come from conviction and a person’s personal walk with Jesus. And if a person is lesbian and doesn’t turn from her ways, she’s no different than every person in the world whose sin is separating them from God. Why we think being a homosexual is different from any other sin is beyond me. However, a church should always teach the Bible. If a homosexual isn’t comfortable coming to a church that preaches homosexuality is a sin, then that person isn’t ready to come to a relationship with Jesus, it’s got nothing to do with the church. The pastor could have said, “We don’t expect you to change your sexuality to become a member here, but just expect that we believe in the Bible and the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, and we do preach that here in our church. But our church is full of sinners who are convicted of their sin everyday, so you are in good company.”

    1. Rudi says:

      Jenna, that is almost exactly what the pastor said. Read it again.

      Everyone commenting on this article seems to have gotten it in their heads that the pastor told her that she needed to be a heterosexual before she would be allowed through the church doors. This simply is not true.

      1. Rudi, it is NOT TRUE that “everyone commenting” seems to think the pastor told her “she needed to be heterosexual before she would be allowed through the church doors.”

        Jenna, “changing your sinful ways” is part of repentance – and repentance IS a requirement for membership in the Church. Then, once we’ve repented, we’re expected to gain and maintain victory over sin (which is something none of us does perfectly), which is where the sanctification process comes into play. Homosexuality is not different from other sins, but pastors don’t seem to be getting calls from extortioners asking if they have to change their extortioner lifestyle or from thieves asking if they have to stop stealing in order to be part of the Church. They’re not getting calls from liars asking if the church is “welcoming and affirming” to liars.

        Jenna, you said “Whoever said church is for Christians is both true and false, it SHOULDN’T be just for Christians.” That statement is just wrong. The Church IS only for Christians, only for those to whom God has granted salvation. Unbelievers are (to use the Apostle Paul’s term in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13) “outsiders.” They are not part of the Church. You cannot become part of the Church unless you (as Jesus said in Mark 1:15) “repent, and believe in the gospel,” unless you are “born again” (John 3:3-5).

      2. Rudi says:

        Roberts, at the time I was commenting, there were several comments in a row (you can check the timestamps) that were all sympathetic to the lesbian. That is what I meant by “everyone commenting.” Everyone commenting at the time. Sorry if I wasn’t clearer, but context is your friend.

        1. Rudi, there’s also the context that is actually more consistent with your “everyone commenting” and that context is everyone’s comments. There was nothing in your post to suggest you were only referring to a limited number of comments.

          1. Rudi says:

            I feel that this is a sidetrack, but fair enough.

  22. Sue says:

    If I come to your church am I going to be subjected to you small-mindedness and judgement or am I going to be welcomed and loved as Jesus asks you to love me?
    Can I come in AS I AM and be accepted or do you expect me to change into what your small-mindedness asks of me before I can be accepted.

    1. Rudi says:

      Which imaginary Jesus are you referring to here? A Jesus, perhaps, who did not (after saving the harlot from stoning) command her to “sin no more?” A Jesus who, perhaps, did not chase the money-changers from the Temple with a whip? Where was His love and acceptance then? For shame!

      God is love. He is also justice, and will not be mocked.

    2. Sue, how did Jesus love the woman caught in adultery? He told her to “go, and sin no more.” He didn’t “welcome and affirm” her in her adultery. If that’s “small-mindedness and judgement,” to you, then there really isn’t a place for you in the Church. Even though the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13, “What have I to do with judging outsiders?” He also chided the Corinthians by asking “Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” If you think that you’re going to be able to be part of the Church and remain in your sin, well, that just isn’t going to happen!

      1. EricP says:

        Chancellor,

        There needs to be time between being outside the church and inside the church. Change doesn’t happen over night. I’m sure you are familiar with the ancient church’s 3 year catechumenate http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2008/01/on-educating-new-christians/ That was after people decided to become Christians. What about the seekers that we say we are trying to attract to our services? How can we judge them when they aren’t even saved?

        1. Rudi says:

          Well hey, if all we want is to attract people to our services without requiring them to repent, then why don’t we show a few porn movies in church? It will attract sinners, right?

          I’m being facetious, but if you discard all moral standards in favor of attracting the world by becoming exactly like it, then why stop now?

          1. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            Is that really your church’s standard? I’m honestly asking. People can not attend your services unless they repent?

          2. Rudi says:

            Eric,

            My church’s position is that you are allowed to attend regardless of what sin you have committed, and before you have repented. As far as I know, this is the position of almost any church that you care to name. But why do you ask this? It is not in dispute. Reread the conversation between the pastor and the lesbian for your edification, and really try to understand it this time. The pastor does not make repentance a prerequisite for attending. Where are you getting this strange idea from?

          3. EricP says:

            I got it from this statement: ” if all we want is to attract people to our services without requiring them to repent”

            I agree we want people to repent. I’m just questioning the timing and our ability to influence that decision. Instead of focusing on the one sin that separates homosexuals from the rest of us, focus on the many sins that we have in common. Like the list at the end of the article. We all need to repent of many sins without someone else prioritizing that list for us.

          4. Rudi says:

            I’m trying not to be offensive here, but it boggles my mind how you are in complete agreement with the article and yet completely missing the point at the same time.

            YES, we all need to repent of our sins. We need to repent daily, as Paul puts it at some point. And we are no better than this lesbian. That is completely, 100%, the point of this article. Bull’s-eye.

            The problem is that many of us, like this lesbian, don’t want our sins to be addressed. We are not convicted of our sin. We approach God with this attitude: “Okay, God, I will accept your gift of salvation thank you very much, but don’t you DARE take my favorite sins from me or the deal is off.” That is the attitude being addressed here. That of the unrepentant heart.

          5. EricP says:

            My question with the article is that it doesn’t specify timing or the woman’s spiritual condition. Does the pastor know she’s a Christian vs. a seeker? Is she looking to visit for a while or a new church home?

            My disagreement is that a person can not change their sexuality. They can change acting on it. They can focus on different parts of it (in the case of a bisexual). Short of a miracle, a person with same sex attraction will always have same sex attraction. I realize it’s late in the discussion to bring this point up, but I think that concept might be influencing how different people are reading the words. If you read it as “stop committing homosexual acts” and I read it as “stop having homosexual thoughts”, then the response is different. Since this is just a story, we can’t know what the pastor meant or what the lesbian thought. I hope that explains where my “phantom” meanings have come from.

            I agree, we need to repent. When do we need to repent? When do we need to be confronted with our sins? Who will do that confrontation? (God, man, both?)

            And the final point of the article — “So many of us think of the lesbian caller and unknowingly respond like the Pharisee going to the temple to pray: “I thank you, God, that I’m not like that.” — I think is being missed by many.

            Thank you for engaging in this conversation in a respectful manner without anger or name calling. I appreciate you taking the time to listen and respond.

          6. Rudi says:

            You’re welcome. I hope that you have found this discussion helpful.

            The article doesn’t address the woman’s spiritual condition because it is beyond scope. This is not an in-depth case study. It’s a general observation intended to make another point altogether. Do keep that in mind.

            Re: “a person can not change their sexuality,” this is demonstrably false because it has been done. Either way, having homosexual thoughts is not a sin. Maintaining those thoughts and living accordingly, however, is sinful. This should be obvious.

            You ask who will do the confrontation regarding our sins. Well, in the case of this lesbian, the point is completely moot, as she was the one doing the confronting. She wanted her lifestyle to be affirmed and validated, and so she hunted down the pastor’s opinion until he gave it to her. What should he have done differently? Should he have avoided her question, or lied?

            As for your next-to-last paragraph; no, this point is not being missed, because I have been reminding you of it for some time now.

        2. Actually, EricP, there is some change that happens at the moment of regeneration: change from being “dead in trespasses and sins” to being spiritually alive. So also, those to whom God grants repentance ARE, from that moment, part of the Church, the body of Christ. Anything after that, is the sanctification process. There is no waiting period found anywhere in the New Testament.

          1. EricP says:

            What happens at the moment of regeneration? Did you stop all of your sins? I didn’t. No one I know did. The sanctification process takes a lifetime. People in church pretend that they don’t have big issues because they don’t want to be judged.

    3. Melody says:

      You can come and you will be welcomed but my guess is that you will move on fairly quickly because you are so judgemental.

      One does not come to church to be served, to get something. We come to hear the truth and to worship the One True God. He gave us salvation, the wrath that was on us has been taken away by His sacrifice on the cross. We respond to that by loving each other, encouraging each other and reminding each other not to be swayed from the truth by the outside world. We deserve NOTHING because we are all depraved sinners. We received eternal fellowship with God when we deserve eternal torment.

      Do you get that?

  23. Siles says:

    I think we miss the point of salvation totally when we emphasize “change”. Jesus did not emphasize change. He emphasized eternal life – knowing His Father and the One whom he sent. The problem is we really know so little of that life, know so little about walking and talking with our Savior intimately, know so little of His captivating and enchanting love. When we are knowing our Savior’s love for us and having our hearts filled with a love response toward Him, then it is our relationship with this AWESOME PERSON that will draw people to HIM! That is the point!!!

    1. Rudi says:

      And how is that mutually exclusive with turning from sin?

      We all have sin in our lives that we still need to get away from. And the nearer we draw to God, the more we will notice that sin and be bothered by it. That doesn’t make our relationship with Him works-based or joyless at all! It means that as we get to know Him better, we naturally want to please Him by not doing that which grieves Him. That should go without saying.

      However, that was quite obviously NOT what this lady was looking for. She wanted a church that would never expect any visible results from her. Note that the pastor said she would be welcome, but made it clear that her sinful lifestyle would not be glossed over and ignored. That is a very Christlike attitude. There is no condemnation, but there is the expectation of repentance. After He saves us from being stoned for our sin, He says: “Go, and sin no more.” NOT: “Those horrible judgmental people! Don’t listen to them! Sin is okay!”

    2. Dennis says:

      Siles – You might want to refer to Titus 2:11-14. You can’t separate the salvation in Christ from ‘change.’ It’s the reason he saved us – to change us!

    3. Siles, it’s really silly for Jesus to emphasize eternal life if His audience wasn’t, as Paul wrote, “dead in trespasses and sins.” So, with salvation there’s an immediate change – from death to life.

  24. Jay says:

    Amen! Thank you for this article. The pastor answered her questions with compassion but he didn’t compromise. You can replace “I’m a lesbian” with anything and you can get the same answer from the pastor. The caller wanted to be comfortable in her sin. The pastor doesn’t have that power. If God lays the topic of hatred, bitterness, sexual immorality, etc. that’s what the man of God has to preaches. Jesus welcomes everyone but he welcomes everyone on his terms. Jesus gives the women caught in the mist of adultery term. Jesus told her, I don’t condemn you but (sin) no more. Everyone has that moment when Jesus knocks at their heart. There’s a big difference between saying “No, I won’t take a bath and I don’t have plan of ever cleaning up” from saying “Yes, I’m dirty and I’m seeing if Jesus is the one who can clean me up”. She doesn’t want to be cleaned even though she knows she’s dirty, just like everyone else. She’s called to make sure that the soap and water of the Holy Spirit doesn’t even get near her. The pastor did well. The Pastor told her that she’s welcome but she’ll have to deal with the conviction of the Holy Spirit just like the rest of us.

  25. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die.” There is always a resurrection, but the dying part must come first. There is no other way about it. If we think there IS another way, then we are not disciples of Jesus; we are merely fans of Jesus. Being a disciple means we become just like our Teacher.

    Unfortunately, though, the Church is full of fans: fans who refuse to give their tithes and offerings; whose lives reflect Heaven on Sunday morning and reflect hell the rest of the week; who have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.

    God, have mercy on Your people.

  26. Jerry Smith says:

    I see one big problem, its the division, so many trying to take this pastor to the woodshed. Its very likely if that person had sprung that question on you in the heat of the moment your answer would not have measured up to the answer this pastor gave that woman. In the days of Jesus there were many mummers following Him around, & there’s even more of them today trying to trash that which is good instead of handing out truly edifying thoughts.

    1. EricP says:

      This is hardly heat of the moment. It’s something that supposedly keeps happening to him. “On a regular basis, people call the church and ask him if they are “welcoming.”” This is planned and intentional response.

  27. Tom Neyhart says:

    Excellent post and convicting as well. If we are going to call ourselves Christians (disciples of Jesus) then we will change or we can’t really call ourselves followers of Jesus. Too often we read the Bible with a western mindset. To really understand discipleship, we really have to understand what it meant in the Jewish culture to be a disciple. When one becomes a disciple of a rabbi then they seek to take on and imitate every characteristic of their rabbi. How they think, how they act, how they talk, how they reason, how they teach, even eating and sleeping habits. The same would have been true for those that followed Jesus. All through the gospels, Jesus is not just teaching in general to the crowds, he is teaching his disciple what it means to follow Him. When we read Matthew, we find that Matthew doesn’t even really record details of what Jesus was teaching until the sermon on the mount. This is just the beginning of what it means to change… the promised messiah (if you were Jewish, you would have been hearing rumors of the one called Jesus who made the blind see and the lame walk and know the implications that it brought) doesn’t come and begin preaching about throwing the Romans out as they had all hoped. He brings the message of “blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth…”. God is not a vengeful God, but a God of love and patience, he was different and contrary to culture then as he is now. We are also called to change and be different than the culture around us. Those that want to call themselves a follower of Jesus but on their own terms aren’t disciples. This post really wasn’t about the lesbian it’s about all of us who think we can be a part-time disciple. We don’t get that luxury, it’s either all in or all out. Do we make mistakes, yes, but to continue on in deliberate sin, no matter what it is, and not change isn’t following Jesus. I believe the post was appropriate because it lays out the expectation that all of us will change if we have a real encounter with Jesus and want to follow him. Far too often we want to sugar coat what it means to follow Jesus as if we are afraid that people won’t want to follow Him if they really understood the cost.

    1. Sue says:

      But the Pastor was telling her HOW she MUST be changed by her encounter with God, that is not up to him to say, how she will be changed is a matter between her and GOD alone.

      1. Sue, the Apostle Paul (who you seem to despise so much) also told people in the Church, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28). So, actually, it is – to some extent – the pastor’s job, the Church’s job, to tell people how they are to be changed by their “encounter with God.” John Baptist preached about bringing the fruits (evidence) of repentance. That evidence is not invisible, not “a matter between her and GOD alone.”

  28. EricP says:

    Here’s a good article on survivors of sexual abuse: http://www.rickthomas.net/2013/03/04/thinking-biblically-about-those-who-have-been-victimized-by-sexual-abuse/

    Please read and then replace your mental image of the lesbian with the victim. Is your response the same? Do you think the pastor’s response was correct? If the lesbian was sexually abused, does it change your attitude? Should it?

    When we first meet people we have no idea what they have been through or how God is working on their lives.

    1. Rudi says:

      Nothing was wrong with the pastor’s attitude or with his words. Stop reading whatever you want into it, and take the situation at face value.

    2. Sue, the Apostle Paul (who you seem to despise so much) also told people in the Church, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Ephesians 4:28). So, actually, it is – to some extent – the pastor’s job, the Church’s job, to tell people how they are to be changed by their “encounter with God.” John Baptist preached about bringing the fruits (evidence) of repentance. That evidence is not invisible, not “a matter between her and GOD alone.”

  29. Jerry Smith says:

    I’m just an old country Baptist pastor who God called to preach the Gospel, to preach against sin, all sin, & an not to tell anyone that God will accept excuses for them participating in any sins. Amazing that anyone would speak for God on this telling people that they can use excuses for partaking of their besetting sins.

    1. EricP says:

      What besetting sin do you see most common among Baptists?

  30. Sue says:

    The basic issue comes back to sin.
    The 10 commandments are what are traditionally used to decide what is sinful, nowhere there does it say anything about homosexuality.
    Before Jesus told the adulteress to go and sin no more, he told the crowd that only if they are without sin themselves can they be allowed to judge and therein punish.
    Jesus told us we are not the ones who are qualified to judge sin, God is and ONLY God is.
    Sin is therefore between an individual and God and NOONE has the right to sit in judgement.
    Jesus asked us to Love one another, again not judge or try to change, but LOVE each other as we are. Not decided who we may love, not decide when we may love, Love one another as I have loved you.
    Again Jesus may have told the adulteress (one of the sins of the ten commandments) to go and sin no more, but he did not judge her, he did not throw a stone at her even though he alone could have, in this way he Loved her.

    1. CPS says:

      Sue,

      The 10 commandments say nothing about spousal abuse, torture, or bestiality, either. Can we therefore conclude that none of these things is sinful?

      1. Sue says:

        Spousal abuse, torture and bestiality are all about hurting not loving, believe it or not homosexuality IS about loving. I am not talking about overt sexuality homo OR hetero, I am talking about two people in a loving, supportive relationship which is what define most of homosexual relationships. Funnily enough there is significantly less ‘spousal abuse’ in homosexual relationships than in heterosexual ones.

        1. Sue, homosexual attraction is contrary to God’s created design for male and female. Embracing and acting on that attraction by engaging in “loving, supportive [sexual/romantic] relationships” with someone of the same sex and by claiming that unnatural attraction as the person’s identity is sin.

          By the way, the same Jesus who said not to judge and you won’t be judged, for by the same standard with which you judge you will be judged, also said to judge righteous judgment. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they were to judge only those who are in the Church (see 1 Corinthians 5:12-13). Yes, Jesus loved the woman caught in adultery; but He didn’t let her remain an adulteress. He told her to “go and sin no more.” So also, the lesbian must likewise “go and sin no more” – and that means she has to stop embracing her unnatural attraction as her identity, needs to stop having sexual/romantic relationships with other women. However, until God brings her to salvation, she will remain an outsider – as will anyone who God doesn’t bring to salvation. She might attend church services, but she will never be part of the Church as long as she remains an outsider – the same is true of everyone else.

          1. Sue says:

            But YOU have decided it’s unnatural just because God ‘supposedly’ only made one man and one woman.
            How do you know God didn’t create homosexuality?
            On what basis do YOU decide it is unnatural. God made 10 commandments, adultery WAS mentioned, homosexuality was not. Jesus himself said only to Love one another – Paul was a man at the mercy of his own religious and social upbringing. Paul also didn’t want women to speak in church, are you saying this should be enforced also? Are you saying women are incapable of reading, praying or even (gasp) preaching.

          2. Rudi says:

            Sue: you have raised many points; allow me to address them in sequence.

            Homosexuality being natural or unnatural has little to no bearing on the discussion. Among animals, homosexuality is natural. Killing is natural. Cannibalism is natural. Slavery is natural. And animals are created by God, is that not so? Asking whether homosexuality was “created by God” is therefore disingenuous at best. (This is part of a larger discussion, being the “problem of evil.” I won’t rehash it here because it’s been done to death, but I can refer you to resources if you would like.)

            As for the message of Jesus: He did say that all the Law and the prophets hangs from these two commandments: to love God with all your heart, mind, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself. First, note that He did not repeal the law; on the contrary, loving God leads to a natural desire to keep the law. Second, you must ask yourself, what does the love for your neighbor entail? Does it mean that we are told never to save someone from their own behavior? Is it more loving to watch someone walk off a cliff, rather than inconvenience them by dragging them away from it? If we shy away from naming homosexuality a sin because we want to be popular, then we are placing our own popularity ahead of someone else’s eternal destiny, is that not so? How is this a loving attitude? Is it not the opposite of love? That we hold another human being in such contempt that we place our own public image at a higher priority than their very lives?

            Finally, you mention Paul. On the point of women not speaking in church, it is not discrimination but a division of labor. The New Testament is replete with examples of women having great responsibility in the church, including Lydia with whom (if memory serves) Paul was personally acquainted, who financially sponsored an entire congregation. This is a larger point that segues back into the Biblical definition of gender roles, so I don’t want to get sidetracked by it; it would be better to start a new discussion on this topic. I can refer you to some related material (written by a woman) if you’re interested. But to get the discussion back on point, Paul saying something (about homosexuality or any other topic) is in and of itself not a good reason to disagree with it.

          3. Sue, homosexuality IS unnatural based on the Creation account (God created male and female and instituted opposite-sex marriage; there was no homosexuality in the Garden of Eden; God did not create homosexuality or any other sin or abnormality). By “unnatural,” I don’t mean the silly, essentially meaningless definition of “anything that happens in nature” (making slavery, murder, deformities, pedophilia, rape, bestiality, etc. “natural”), I mean “whatever is not normative for a particular species.” Homosexuality is not normative for the human species and is, therefore, unnatural.

            When the Bible commands us to love one another, it isn’t referring to sexual/romantic love.

            You wrote: “Paul also didn’t want women to speak in church, are you saying this should be enforced also? Are you saying women are incapable of reading, praying or even (gasp) preaching.”

            Women were allowed to prophesy in the church. However, they were not allowed to preach or serve as elders or as pastors. And, yes, I think that should still be enforced in the Church today.

          4. EricP says:

            Chancellor,

            Are women pastors something that should divide the church? Could you be part of a denomination that allowed congregations to have a female pastor and allowed your congregation only to consider male pastors?

        2. CPS says:

          Sue,

          You write that, “Spousal abuse, torture and bestiality are all about hurting not loving…”

          …but my point remains the same: the ten commandments don’t prohibit hurting people at all. So since the ten commandments are the only laws you’re willing to accept, doesn’t that mean you have no reason to say that hurting people in this way is sinful?

          1. EricP, you wrote, “Are women pastors something that should divide the church? Could you be part of a denomination that allowed congregations to have a female pastor and allowed your congregation only to consider male pastors?”

            If I were still living in the States, I would not be part of a denomination that allowed congregations to have female pastors. There are different gender roles in the Church and those boundaries must not be crossed.

            In other parts of the world, however, sometimes the only available Christian fellowship and teaching is in a church that is part of a denomination that ordains women; sometimes there are very few choices – for example, choosing a Nazarene Church or a Russian Orthodox or Roman Catholic Church, or endangering the lives of your brothers and sisters by being a foreigner participating in an illegal church. In these non-essentials, these things that don’t determine a person’s salvation, you have to make choices.

  31. Melody says:

    Eric

    I will try this one more time.

    You lied about what the pastor said. The pastor did not tell her that she had to change to come to the church.
    You changed that. I did not say that you slandered the lesbian by changing what she said. I said you slandered the pastor by claiming he said something different than he did.

    You want people to be able to come to church and change when they feel like it.

    Paul says that if a person claims to be a believer and is living in unrepentant sin to expel them.

    He doesn’t say “wait and see if they are convicted by the Holy Spirit and quit on their own”.

    Are you saying that John the Baptizer was wrong to yell at people to repent? Was he making it difficult for people to meet Jesus? People left the city and went out to where John was to be yelled at about their sins. Why did they do that?

    The pastor said she was welcome to come to the church. He was not denying her the ability to hear the saving gospel. She is saying that she didn’t want to hear “that” gospel.

  32. Matti says:

    This is why repentance, defined as total abandonment of some particular sin or array of sins, cannot be the condition for salvation. The condition is faith in Christ. We all have some sins we hold on to long after we have come to know Christ, whether we recognize them or not.

    1. Sue says:

      And GOD is the definer of sin NOT man!

      1. Rudi says:

        And the Bible is the word of God, and defines homosexuality as sin; case pretty much closed.

        1. EricP says:

          One question I’ve been wrestling with lately is what are the essentials of the Christian faith.

          The most notable theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth, didn’t believe the Bible was inerrant. His faith was not in the Bible. It was in Jesus.

          And to your point about the case is closed. Here is a pro and a con argument http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php (this disagrees with you. It has the link to a person who agrees with you.)

          1. Melody says:

            The bible has plenty to say about following fools and those that distort scripture. The father of lies distorts scripture. I would say that those who say they believe in Jesus but not scripture are creating their own. A more perfect version of themselves which will never be perfect enough.

            If you are going to waste time on things like that then read The Evidence for Christianity by McDowell

          2. Rudi says:

            The most notable theologian? Funny; never heard of him. I try not to waste my time reading the babblings of heretics and apostates.

            “His faith was not in the Bible. It was in Jesus.” I have never heard a more pathetically meaningless platitude in my entire life. Our source for knowledge about Jesus is the Bible. Experiential knowledge does not trump knowledge from special revelation. What you are advocating is the ancient heresy of Gnosticism.

            And as for the gay “Christian” site: I’m well aware of all the various ways they try to weasel out of the very clear Biblical injunctions against homosexuality. And from a skim of the article you linked to, nothing new is on offer here. We are forbidden from partaking is sexual immorality, which as defined, includes homosexuality. Sorry, there’s no way out of it.

          3. EricP says:

            Rudi, Melody,

            Have you at least heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Barth

            Here’s a fuller quote on what Barth believed (from Wiki) “His doctrine of the Word of God, for instance, holds that Christ is the Word of God, and does not proceed by arguing or proclaiming that the Bible must be uniformly historically and scientifically accurate, and then establishing other theological claims on that foundation.”

            I’ve read Josh McDowell. His books are great for the new believer or the unbeliever.

          4. Rudi says:

            Bonhoeffer we have all obviously heard of, but I don’t follow your point. Are you saying that someone being wrong on a point of doctrine means that nobody can draw anything positive from any other element of his/her work? That would seem both strange and illogical.

          5. Rudi says:

            As for Barth: his theology does leave open the door for all sorts of reinterpretation, which makes him an ally of the Gnostics even if he did not realize it. I say this because I see a lot of people agitating for a “Barthian” redefinition of the morality of homosexuality, but I don’t see words from Barth himself doing so. I think that (barring evidence of such direct support from Barth) you are over-stating your case somewhat.

          6. Rudi says:

            By the way, thank you for introducing me to Barth; it’s given me something new to think about :)

          7. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            I hope you enjoy reading Barth. I’ve only skimmed the surface of his work.

            “Are you saying that someone being wrong on a point of doctrine means that nobody can draw anything positive from any other element of his/her work”

            Are you sure you are right and he is wrong? Barth and Bonhoeffer say things that are unfamiliar and off putting to my evangelical ears. When I ponder them, I don’t find anything wrong with them. When I see their life’s work (especially Bonhoeffer), I think I need to learn more about their perspective.

          8. Rudi says:

            I’m not saying that *I* am right rather then Barth, I am saying that evangelical Christianity is right. Knowing what I know about myself, I put little stock in my own opinions :)

            But before I respond further on the topic of Barth, I would be interested to know whether he did indeed mean to explicitly condone homosexuality, or whether it is only now that gay activists are abusing an unfortunate loophole in his theology.

          9. EricP says:

            This pastor introduced me to Barth. I disagree with a lot of what he says, but he makes me think. I’m also surprised at times on the items we agree.

            http://tamedcynic.org/%C2%A71-5-4-karl-barth-john-piper-and-homosexuality/

    2. Melody says:

      Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

      You cannot separate them. It all goes together. A person’s life style is the obvious first step. The tax collector, the woman living with someone not her husband, the pharisee living in pride killing Christians, the prostitute, the drunkard, none would be allowed to hang onto their sin identities and claim to be a new person in Christ. You cannot have two identities.

      For someone to say they have faith and just act really happy about going to heaven is not a fruit of the spirit. That wouldn’t be a saving faith.

  33. Jack says:

    This whole thread is perplexing.

    I would imagine the pastor & most of the people commenting here are kind, caring folk who’d be great to drink coffee with.

    That being said, I don’t know if they quite realize how callous this “beware the lesbian” sentiment comes off the the average person. With “love for others” being so emphasized in Christian doctrine, it would seem logical that a church would want that to emanate outward.

    But this notion of demanding a biochemical change out of someone in order to let them feel genuinely loved is so……destructive to people’s well-being.

    1. Rudi says:

      Jack,

      I don’t think that the point of the article is to “beware the lesbian” at all! It is rather that the rest of us behave in similar ways, and are in no position to clap ourselves on the back, like the Pharisee, and say, “at least I’m not as bad as HER.”

      The point is not about homosexuality. The point is that as humans we often try to come to God on our terms, with demands. That even those in the church often hide an unrepentant heart.

      Still, however sensitively we phrase it, we can’t allow homosexuality as a practice to be supported within the church walls. That doesn’t mean we can’t be loving. That doesn’t mean that someone trapped in a sinful lifestyle (yet genuinely willing to repent) can’t be welcome or loved among us. It does mean that an active homosexual lifestyle, without a willingness to repent, shows that the person in question is not willing to allow God to change them; but that’s the whole point! Many of us in the Church are the same, and we need to wake up to this problem. Our besetting sin might not be homosexuality, it might be something else entirely that we try to justify and “get away with,” and it is equally symptomatic of a rebellious and unrepentant heart.

  34. Matt Jones says:

    It seems to me that the pastor, and many who have commented, do not understand that the word “change” can be disastrous when used as imprecisely as it was in the article. While the pastor may have meant that the woman would eventually have to stop pursuing female partners, telling a gay or lesbian person that they “have to change” cones across as saying that they have to become straight, which isn’t even a choice to begin with!

    It wasn’t just that she was being asked to do something hard (i.e. be celibate); she was being asked to do something impossible. The pastor’s failure to realize how his words would be heard show that he actually hasn’t learned from any gay or lesbian visitors. It’s also distressing to see a similar lack of wisdom among the comments.

    Granted, judging from the woman’s use of “affirming” language, she was probably looking for a church in which she and her partner could be full members, but the point still stands. Gay and lesbian people, like myself, read this article and despair a bit that Christians can still be so deaf.

    1. Rudi says:

      Matt,

      Your point is well taken. I do think that the dialog as presented is much abbreviated however, and as you mention, it is essential to remember the context (that of a lesbian looking for a church that will justify her sin rather than confront it).

      I will not contest that the pastor’s words, if they are indeed verbatim, could use some more sensitivity. That will vary from person to person, as well. However, the central point remains essentially unchanged. Don’t forget that the article is intended to remind the rest of us that we often have the same attitude, and that this is dangerous. The main point of the article is not a primer on how to discuss homosexuality, so we can allow it to be slightly lacking in that area :)

      1. EricP says:

        Rudi,

        You are right about the intended point. There are two ways of reacting to the discrepancy between us and the lesbian caller. The first one (and the reaction I think of you and the first several posters) is one of self-reflection and realization of our own sinfulness. The second one is that we are treating the lesbian unfairly. We don’t meet the standard we set for her.

        1. Rudi says:

          Eric, I think that the second reaction you describe is not legitimate.

          If you are arguing that the Barthians are right and homosexuality is not a sin, then it’s not a question of ourselves “[not meeting] the standard we set for her,” but rather, that we are allowing our own prejudices to tell us what is and is not sin, similar to people who say that rock music is sinful for some reason.

          If on the other hand you are saying that homosexuality is a sin, but that Christians/churchgoers also have sin, then it’s not us setting the standard, but God, and He’s got every right to set that standard. But in the greater intended sense of the article, I think that you’ve missed the point about repentance. This lesbian was calling to find out how to be redeemed without repentance, which is impossible. Even as redeemed Christians, we still sin despite our efforts to the contrary; that’s not the point, because salvation begets works, not the other way around! Even if we’ve repented, we may still be vulnerable to sin, but repentance itself is not optional.

          The article is not saying that some of us have sin that’s “just as bad” as homosexuality. Rather, it is highlighting the problem of the unrepentant, unregenerate heart.

      2. Joe says:

        This article made me think that TGC writers are trying to figure out how to discuss homosexuality. They need that primer – but won’t take advice from gay people (even if the gay person offering the advice upholds the traditional Christian sexual ethic).

        1. Rudi says:

          Joe, that might be true if the article was intended as a primer about how to discuss homosexuality, but it isn’t. It could be alcoholism, for all the effect that would have on the main point of the article. You’ve missed the point.

          1. Matt Jones says:

            Actually, you may have missed the point if you don’t see how language, even if it’s not the main subject of the article, can still harm people and obscure the gospel.

            It’s clear, too, that the author is trying to say something constructive about homosexuality here, something pastoral, and he obviously doesn’t say his response should be regarded as anything but worth imitating.

            If the author listens, if TGC listens, they would know they can’t play so fast and loose with language and not expect people to be put off by it.

          2. Rudi says:

            Matt,

            Fair enough; how would you have done it differently, having been asked (in effect) whether redemption is available without repentance? I would just say, “no, it’s not,” without malice, as a statement of fact.

            Perhaps the pastor should have invited these people over to discuss it at length over tea, but I thought that the caller was in control of the conversation, asked a question, got an answer she didn’t like, and hung up. I don’t really see many ways out of this, unfortunately.

            I took the liberty of reading your blog entry “Zero Sum,” which I think is an interesting and helpful perspective. However, re: your accusation of the sloppiness of the pastor’s language in this article, I would contest your use of the word “homophobia” in the postscript. The LGBTQ(etc.) lobby is using it in a way that would make ANYone guilty of it, except those who affirm their behavior as a new and acceptable norm. It would make as much sense (in THAT sense) to talk of the problems of “thiefophobia” in the courts, “charlatanophobia” when talking of health-and-wealther televangelists, etc.

            So as I said: maybe it would be better to look at the overall intended point, rather than getting hung up on a marginally objectionable term here and there.

            But perhaps you can masterfully restate the pastor’s dialog in a more acceptable and/or loving way, in which case you will have put my concerns to rest.

      3. Melody says:

        Rudi
        You can’t judge tone or sensitivity from a copied conversation in non-fiction. Everyone reads in tone from their own personality or prejudices.

        I’m guessing the lesbian conversation was used because most people don’t call asking to have their sin affirmed.
        Our pastor has talked about people calling to find out if they would be accepted despite their past, tattoos, ect. And he told them absolutely. We don’t care where people have been. We have all been in the same place called by different names. What matters is where we are going.

        I don’t approach any of these conversations with the goal of changing anyone’s mind. The purpose is to learn. To speak the truth and not let distortions stand unchallenged. You don’t know who is reading and everyone responds to different things.

        1. Rudi says:

          Re: sensitivity. Hence why I said, “that will vary from person to person.” Some people even respond to so-called “tough love.” I agreed with Matt because how sensitive (or not) you need to be is a matter of perspective, but the main point of the article (which is about repentance) is not.

    2. Yes, Matt, the word “change” is often understood by the homosexual to mean “change my sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual.” Yes, it’s important that pastors and other Christians understand this fact and choose their words accordingly. Many Christians do believe that a homosexual can (and must) change his or her sexual orientation, and that the homosexual must become heterosexual – and very often they believe this must happen before the person can be saved. They would equate it to requiring a murderer to stop murdering before he can become a Christian, but they show their lack of understanding in doing so.

      However, let’s be clear that homosexuals must agree with God that their sexual orientation is contrary to God’s created design for male and female and that embracing and acting on that attraction is sin. Let’s be clear that even if God doesn’t choose to heal the orientation, they can no longer embrace and act on that orientation. Let’s also be clear that “change” doesn’t mean a person goes from lusting after the same sex to lusting after the opposite sex (God doesn’t change one form of lust for another, since lust is not from God). However, let’s also be clear that the Church does not “welcome and affirm” people in their sins, but expects them to repent of those sins, etc.

  35. Matt Jones says:

    Rudi:

    You’re right that homophobia is often thrown around unjustly for things that aren’t actually rooted in an irrational fear or hatred of LGBTQ people, but we can’t allow that to blind us to the reality that people in the church are, and are often, guilty of homophobia – saying some pretty nasty things or behaving in certain ways toward LGBTQ people that show no hint of a Christlike love.

    As to how I’d change the “conversation,” I think the pastor should have just asked the woman “What do you mean by change?” or make explicit that he is not at all referring to a change in sexual orientation when *he* says she would have to change. I prefer the former because it opens up a chance to listen, to gain clarity. Nothing drastic is necessary. But you’d be surprised at how much of a difference the little things make.

    1. Rudi says:

      That’s fair enough. I’d like confirmation on what you mean by this, however: “[the pastor should] make explicit that he is not at all referring to a change in sexual orientation when *he* says she would have to change.” I understand that you are making a distinction between the orientation/temptation and the act, is that correct? To abstain from the act rather than changing the orientation, which for some people is not possible.

      Regardless, in this instance the caller would have brooked no discussion on these matters; anything but full acceptance would still be “homophobia” as far as the LGBTQ(etc.) lifestyle activists are concerned.

  36. Melody says:

    Oh good grief the word police are here. The only people that are “phobic” of other people are those with an actual disorder that would affect the whole of their life and not just when a couple of guys are holding hands. Homophobia is a bullying word used to demean and discount someone that believes the bible to be true.
    It’s amazing that someone can point the finger at others on sensitivity and call them a name at the same time.

    When someone meets Jesus they are changed. Their identity is Christ. If your identity is not Christ then the whole conversation is redundant. You don’t get to make a second version for people with specialized sin.

    Why isn’t the Holy Spirit powerful enough to change them? Someone explain that one to me.

    1. Rudi says:

      Melody,

      I agree with you in general, but in Matt’s case, I would recommend that you read his blog entry, keeping in mind that (as I understand it) he does not defend homosexual activity as being moral. It is a very nuanced opinion though, so I would counsel patience for anyone reading it. I’m not 100% positive on whether I understand his conclusions, but the questions that he raises are interesting.

      I’m objecting to his use of the term “homophobic” in an unorthodox way, because its everyday definition so overshadows the alternate meaning that he attempts to imbue it with. I do understand his main thesis, but I can’t share it as yet, because I don’t see how it translates to reality. Obviously, violence or rudeness towards gays won’t convince them of anything; but Matt objects to the words of the pastor in this article on the grounds of what he establishes in his blog, and I don’t really get the impression that he has a definite alternative wording of what the pastor was trying to say that would be more sensitive to gays without constituting a compromise. Sensitivity is all well and good, but at some point, salt will sting. And if the Gospel bothers an unrepentant heart, you can walk on eggshells all you want, but you won’t be able to make it palatable.

      1. EricP says:

        Matt,

        Thanks for your contribution to the contribution. I’ve only read a bit of your blog, but I like what I read. In particular, I liked t when future you writes to past you, “You will have to ask yourself a lot of difficult questions about how your faith shapes your sexuality and vice-versa, and I promise that the answers won’t always be easy. But ask those questions. I still do, and continue to find the grace to carry on and thrive because God daily proves himself more faithful and more wonderful than I think possible.”

        Rudi,

        Thanks for being open minded and reading Matt’s blog. I’d like to see the church reach out to people with Matt and walk with him as he struggles with. In my experience, LBGT people deal with a lot of shame and guilt. Every single one I have ever talked to has said they wish they could be like everyone else. Christians don’t need to make them feel guilty. They don’t need to convince them to be straight. They would if they could.* We are asking them to embrace a celibate life — sexually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. That is a heavy burden and a difficult choice. If that is what we think God demands of them, we must help them bear that burden.

        *I’d like to avoid the sidetrack of discussing ex-gay people. Yes, they exist. It’s not a high percentage. There are a lot of caveats as well.

  37. Melody says:

    Rudi
    I think you said it best with the salt analogy. I know of no place in bible where sugar is suggested instead.

    Anyone that has tried to share the gospel with someone knows that every time is individual. What one person responds to another will completely reject. We cannot see into the heart of those that are rejecting. To claim that it all hinges on certain words said in just the right way is not supported by scripture.
    I think everyone has a story of a family member that has been loved and had the gospel shared with but who will go stubbornly to their death rejecting what is being begged of them to accept. There is no personal cost, no sacrifice of their personal lifestyle. And yet they will take their last breath rejecting the saving grace of the gospel. None of us can comprehend why. It’s heartbreaking.

    People with same sex attraction are not special creatures. They are just sinful people just like the rest of us. Having sex with someone is not a right that has to be written into the gospel before a person can be expected to accept the terms.

    We are talking about eternity with the most loving, holy and righteous God that paid our debt for us through incredible suffering versus an eternity apart from Him with gnashing of teeth. I don’t see how anyone can act like celibacy is such a huge deal or just too much to ask. The NT is full of people being stoned, decapitated, beaten and crucified for believing and speaking of the Messiah. And we are having a discussion about if asking someone to go without the sex they desire is too much to ask. Oh and about how to discuss it too.

    Jesus said to count the costs. He said it would not be easy. He said we would suffer. It’s Satan that says, “He didn’t really mean..”.

    1. EricP says:

      Melody,

      1. What did you sacrifice to become a Christian?

      2. Paul certainly thought celibacy could lead to other sins. 1 Cor 7:1-9.

      3. Are you this insistent about people in the divorce lifestyle? No one in your church has divorced and remarried? 1 Cor 7:10-11

      4. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Paul removes every obstacle except Christ crucified.

      1. Rudi says:

        1. Isn’t that a bit personal?

        2. He also said that some aren’t meant to marry.

        3. That varies, but some do. Either way, two wrongs don’t make a right.

        4. That assumes repentance though, doesn’t it? Otherwise, where do you stop?

        1. Melody says:

          I thought so especially since he offers no personal information except that he has read so much.

          What everyone seems to ignore is that it is not a physical impossibility to marry or have sex with someone that you are not attracted to but that seems to be the bar of the modern age. It is absolute punishment that no one should have to go through. No one should endure a marriage that doesn’t make them feel like they are walking on air excited for every moment alone with the other person. It’s an excuse for sampling sex before marriage. It’s an excuse for living together. It’s an excuse for moving on after a few months of marriage or forty years of marriage.

          It just doesn’t make me happy anymore and God loves us so much that He wants us to be happy right? And we are covered by grace right? That is what Jesus died for right? So that we could claim Him and have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? If Thomas Jefferson said it then it must be Christ-like.

          Yes that last paragraph was sarcasm. Sorry.

          1. EricP says:

            1. I ask because you said some people were “stoned, decapitated, beaten and crucified” I’ve read Hebrews as well. You are asking real people to make real sacrifices. I wanted to know if you were expecting more from them than you.

            3. Again, it’s a question of integrity and consistency. Is it sin that bothers you or certain people?

            4. yes, the goal is to lead a person to repentance. What I’m trying to say is that we can get wrapped in side issues instead of the gospel. For instance, I was pro-choice for the first couple years I was a Christian.

      2. Melody says:

        What did I sacrifice to become a Christian?

        You have things way upside down.
        And Paul did not give the freedom to sin. That just makes me want to vomit to think about.

        The fact that you would be so cavalier about something so enormous, something so completely undeserving as Christ’s suffering; His taking not just my deserved wrath, but yours, Rudi’s, Trevin’s, and every person that has ever lived and will ever live, the wrath everyone deserves – tells me that you really lack comprehension. Why doesn’t it humble you?

        He gave up heaven! He gave up being in heaven with God and came down here with sinners. He lived with horrible everyday people for thirty years before He even started His ministry. Have you even thought about that? Someone that is perfect, without sin, completely innocent having to be in contact with people who can’t even keep from jealousy or telling a lie each day. And that’s the nice ones. It’s not anywhere near the equivalent but take a thirteen year old homeschooled kid that has never seen TV for a visit to death row of the worst penal institution in the country. That was what it was like for Jesus to condescend to being on earth with people. Do you get that? I can’t even get through a day without being overwhelmed by the absolute stupidity of most people and I’m not even that smart. He not only lived around people so far below Him, He loved them enough to start His ministry. Then He continued His ministry in the face of those that considered themselves religiously superior. He was God in the flesh and He had to tolerate men looking down on Him. After all that He still went to the cross. He went to the cross even though He could foresee what it was going to be like. How horrible it was going to be. How he was going to have to be separated from His Father while the wrath was poured out on Him. There are too many people that think He just suffered the same kind of death as the two thieves on the cross. It was not just a torturous death. It was worse.

        Not that it is any of your business or that it has any relevance to the conversation but I am divorced. I will not remarry. I don’t date. I don’t even look and yes, I am celibate. What’s more I go to church with lots of people that do not “date”. That does not mean they do not hope to marry someday.

        You are buying a pack of lies from the ruler of this age. It’s all about “feelings”, getting your needs met, building up your self-worth. Scripture is twisted to make it continue to be possible for those that want to have both the world and Christ. He said Luke 14:26-28 for a reason. Jesus said Repent – Mark 1:15, Peter said Repent Acts 2:38, Paul said Repent Acts 17:30, I could go on and on. I suspect it is pointless.

        So what did I give up? Absolutely nothing that compares to what I have received.

        1. EricP says:

          Melody,

          We seem to be unable to communicate, so I’ll keep it short.

          1. “Jesus said to count the costs. He said it would not be easy. He said we would suffer. ” vs. “So what did I give up? Absolutely nothing that compares to what I have received.” If you think your costs, your suffering is too personal to share, I understand. Both statements are of course Biblical. But is it absolutely nothing compared to what you received? Or absolutely nothing? Do you have mercy and compassion for what Christians go through?

          2. “The fact that you would be so cavalier about … Christ’s suffering” I’m trying to bring people to Christ.

          3. ” I am divorced. I will not remarry. ” I’m sorry to hear about that. While it is unfortunate, it gives you a great opportunity to minister to LBGT and singles. You are not asking them to do something more than you yourself are do.

          1. Rudi says:

            1. What do you mean, “what Christians go through?” By your statements, you seem to want Christians to conform to the world, so that they can have their salvation and eat it too. Except that faith without works is dead. Works aren’t as optional as you’re making them seem.

            2. How are you bringing people to Christ if you are falsely portraying what that entails? People have a right to make a choice one way or the other, and they are allowed to choose against Him (though I wish they wouldn’t). Besides, a momentary incorrect choice needn’t be permanent. Your concern for the lost is commendable, but they are not being helped by being lied to, nor do they have only one shot at this. One person might plant a seed that they never see grow; it isn’t necessary to “seal the deal” at every opportunity. We are ministers, not used-car salesmen.

            3. That’s what she’s doing, but you’re still not happy it seems. In any case – having gone through a comparable hardship will help someone to minister more effectively to a sinner, but why should it influence their willingness to speak the truth? Or is this one of those things, like the pro-choicers calling all male pro-lifers hypocrites because they’re not female, which somehow prevents them from saying anything about abortion? What’s next, will being white prevent me from saying anything about human trafficking in North Africa? Will being South African prevent me from saying anything about the state of the church in Europe? Where are we drawing the line with this arbitrary set of distinctions?

          2. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            Maybe I need to rephrase because you are not getting what I’m saying.

            1. I’m not talking about works. I’m saying accepting the Gospel causes some people to lose all their friends. It means leaving a romantic partner. It means leaving step-children behind. It means losing family. Is that cost worth it? absolutely! Should those of us who have never paid that kind of cost be so flippant and cavalier about it. No!

            2. Yes, one plants the seed. one waters it. one applies round-up to kill the weeds of the world. I can only assume we’re talking about different phases. I’m talking about planting the seed. You can plant the seed that we love you, we all deal with sins, and grow in holiness for the rest of our lives. Or you can plant the seed of we expect you to change who you are before we will accept you.

            Of course there is a time to deal with required life changes (the cost of discipleship). I’m not talking about a cost-free gospel.

            3a. I am happy. I applaud her for her integrity.

            3b. I’m not the person you keep assuming I am. Yes, I’m to the left of you theologically, but is there really anyone to your right? I was a very conservative person, even when I was an atheist. I’ve been a Christian for 20 years. I almost became a pastor. Until 2 years ago, I founded every belief with a Bible verse. Should women teach? No 1 Tim, 11 Cor. Homosexuality? Wrong Romans 1. Evolution? No Genesis 1-5. Gender equality? No Genesis 1-3. Government programs for the poor? No. Democrat idea, and no verses. Strong military? Yes. oh wait, what verses? Love your neighbor? Low taxes? yes. Isn’t that a Republican position? no. A worker is worth his wages. Need I go on?

            The last 2 years have been incredibly traumatic for me. I dealt with many things I thought I would never deal with. The people who stood by me? The unbelievers. The people I was too ashamed to share my burden? My Christian friends.

            It made me question many beliefs. As Tim Keller asks, “What do you do when you find the world is kinder, nicer, wiser, and more loving than the church?” Why is it so hard to share real burdens inside the church? Only one type is “acceptable” — medical illness. All others there is a fear that someone will call it a sin, accuse you of trusting in the world, not having faith, or being unwilling to repent. Why did I have that fear? Because I saw so many different things and people labeled that way.

          3. EricP says:

            What does any of that have to do with the lesbian visitor?

            During my 2 years feeling like an outsider, I got to know real outsiders a lot better. I was open enough to really talk to my gay cousin. I met LGBT’s and heard their perception of Christians, heard about the abuse they suffered as children at the hand of their Christian parents (even pastors and missionaries). Heard about how they were kicked out of their houses, their churches, their communities. I learned the horrible consequences of those Christians’ actions — drug use, sexual diseases, self harm, suicide.

            My time outside was probably caused by my pride and lack of trust. Theirs was about the denial that they even existed.

            So when I hear about a lesbian visiting, I don’t think let’s make sure she knows we think she’s a sinner. I think we might be her only real friends and family. Give her lots of love and grace, heal her wounds, and then discuss the Gospel.

            That is my motivation. That is why I care about this issue.

    2. Our job is to communicate the gospel. The result is God’s – God draws, God regenerates, God gives the faith necessary to believe, God brings the person to repentance. He then turns them over to the Church to make them into disciples, all the while He is doing the inward work of sanctification in them.

      EricP is right that we have suffered nothing compared to what Christ suffered for us. However, I agree with Rudi’s assessment that Eric seems to want to water down the gospel; the result being that it is no gospel at all.

      Rudi seems to be suggesting that Christians are to be as different from the world as light is from darkness. If that’s the case, he’s right. However, I disagree with Rudi’s statement, “People have a right to make a choice one way or the other, and they are allowed to choose against Him (though I wish they wouldn’t).” No, people don’t have the right to make a choice. The FACT that God will cast all those who reject Him into the Lake of Fire is proof they don’t have the right to make that choice. Rights are inalienable (one of the founding principles of the American republic) and, by their very nature, are something that cannot be punished. Further, no one, on His own, will ever choose God (see Romans 3). Jesus said that no one can come to Him unless the Father draws him. He said that with men salvation is impossible. He said that all that the Father gives to Him will come to Him (but He also sent the Church to communicate the gospel; thus, the Church is the means by which people will come to Him).

  38. Melody says:

    I was on the outside for 45 years and I used how I was treated by so-called Christians as my excuse. That is all it is, an excuse. What did I get for it? A whole lot of misery from the sinful unbelieving world. They lie to you. They are hypocritical. They try to sell you garbage telling you this will bring you happiness and self esteem. They all do it in order to push themselves in front and on top.

    When you realize that God is the only one that cares what happens to you, the only one that has the truth no matter how hard it is to hear then you leave it behind. We are called to love not get love. That includes the lesbian. Their suffering doesn’t top Christ’s. Their sin is the cause of their pain because they are putting themselves first. You are lying to them by telling them that it is understandable because of how they have been hurt. Healing never comes thru putting yourself first.

    Whenever someone starts something with “I feel” I know I’m going to get an opinion that is only relevant to them and no one else.
    Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

  39. EricP says:

    Let me try from another direction. I think there is a sizeable group that believes the visiting lesbian was treated appropriately. To that group I ask would you prevent these people from joining your church? Do you ask these questions in membership classes?

    “Will I be expected to change my prejudice and bigotry toward those of different races?”

    “Will I be expected to change my living arrangements? I know cohabitation isn’t best”

    “Will I be expected to reach out to lost people with the gospel?”

    “Will I be expected to give generously?”

    “Will I be expected to serve? [more than] a few hours a week”

    “The list could go on” Is there anything you are unwilling to change.

    If you exclude those sinners like the lesbian, then I applaud you for your consistency and your integrity. If not, why not?

    1. EricP, first of all, I’m not convinced she was planning to be just a “visiting lesbian,” she was looking for a potential church home – which means more than just visiting one Sunday. So, then, yes, the question does become one of whether she can become part of the Church and of the church.

      The answer to whether she can become part of the Church is that no one can become part of the Church unless God regenerates them, grants them repentance and brings them to salvation. In the lesbian’s case, the result of this will be that she stops embracing her lesbianism and starts recognizing that her attraction is contrary to God’s created design for male and female and that her embracing and acting on the attraction is sin.

      As for becoming a member of the local church, I believe in having at least 8 weeks of membership classes to ensure potential members understand the doctrines, mission, vision, etc. of the church and are in sufficient agreement with them that they can become members and take part in the life of the church (and not just be pew-warmers). It took a long time before I could become a member of my home church because there was a major doctrinal issue that we needed to hash out, but we did hash it out (even if we aren’t in full agreement with each other).

      As for your specific questions that you think should be asked, I think those are things that should be discussed openly during membership classes. We had a young couple in our church that was told it had to change its living arrangements, that cohabitation was not biblical; the couple decided to get married and our pastor did the ceremony. However, I’m not sure I would refer to some of what’s on your list as sins, but I did like your question “Is there anything you are unwilling to change?”

  40. Melody says:

    We were the ones that got the point if the article, remember? You were the one that got hung up on the lesbian part. We hold her to the same standard as everyone else, as ourself. Her sin is not more special.

  41. Rebecca says:

    This is a good point, in that encountering Jesus brings about transformation. Totally agree with that. But I’d have to ask the writer of this, would he be willing to change his sexuality?

    1. Rebecca, are any of us so tied to our sexuality that we are not willing to surrender it to Christ to do with as He pleases? The heterosexual might try to respond that since heterosexuality is God’s created design for male and female that he doesn’t have to “be willing to change” it. However, every aspect of human existence was corrupted by Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden. So, yes, we all must not merely be willing to surrender every aspect of us to Christ, we must actually surrender it.

      1. Rudi says:

        Good point! Not every heterosexual desire is a good one either. Nothing about us is “off the table” for God to change…

        1. Rudi, we aren’t called to just surrender the “bad” things, we’re to surrender everything. But, of course, I’m sure you knew that already.

          1. Rudi says:

            This is true. :)

        2. Melody says:

          No and marriage that is based solely on feelings brings all kinds of selfishness and destruction.

  42. KC says:

    I found this post rather irritating, as it starts with the premise that being a homosexual is a sin. Having studied the 6 or 7 passages in the bible that cover this, and with all I know of our God, to say things like “love the sinner, hate the sin” (not that anyone said that) frustrates me.

    Many people claim they “know” the bible says homosexuality is wrong/a sin, but one of those instances is in Leviticus where an English translation says something to the effect of “it is wrong for a man to lie with a man as he lies with a woman.” Doesn’t say anything about a woman lying with a woman, so lesbianism would therefore be OK while being gay (males) is not?

    Some translations even add “it is wrong to be homosexual.” But, Leviticus is full of other rules that are not followed or considered sinful (praying without your hair covered). And, the word “homosexual” was coined in the last 100 or 200 years.

    Other people say the bible says “be fruitful and multiply.” Since man+man or woman+woman cannot be fruitful and multiply (by having children), then they are not obeying God’s word. Yet, nobody would dare tell a woman who cannot conceive that she’s sinning and must repent.

    I like this post in that it reminds me of how Jesus can change our hearts. Jesus could very well change someones sexual orientation (in either direction, I’d guess). Jesus also reveals new truths in the Bible, which I find every time I pick one up.

    I’m happy for this very health discussion, and glad that I stumbled upon it this evening.

    In the end, it’s a difficult line to walk for pastors. On one hand, you have a responsibility to share the word of God as you’ve read, studied and interpreted it. On the other hand, you want your church to be open and accepting enough to get people through the door, meet them where they are, and let Jesus do his work. But, when what you as a pastor interpret this to mean something that is unpopular in the current culture, what’s a preacher to do?

    1. EricP says:

      You make a good point about lesbians. Most of the verses explicitly apply to only men. Only Romans 1 talks about women and most early Christians thought that applied to sodomy not lesbianism.

      Your last question is an excellent one. I think it matters how important the issue is. Look at Paul, he started a riot because he stopped people from buying silver idols. On the other hand, he did not argue for the end of slavery. It was a side issue that would slow the spread of the Gospel.

      1. KC says:

        See, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is often used to say that homosexuality is wrong, too. The gist of it is that two angels come to town and the town threatens to rape them. Lot and his two daughters escape and then the daughters drug and rape their dad. Hmm… gang rape and incest. Yeah – I would agree those are two wicked things, but I don’t see how this story says homosexuality is wrong.

        I’m not as familiar with the Romans 1 chapter you mentioned.

        I think that if a gay or lesbian truly believes in their heart of hearts that being gay is how God made them (and there are plenty of straight people who believe the same, myself included), then there are churches that will welcome AND affirm them. I, as a straight Christian person, will also affirm them.

        Many people, Christians included, seem to equate being gay with promiscuity, but that’s not necessarily how every gay person is. I know plenty of loving, committed, monogamous gay couples who honor, praise and worship God. I have learned from them that they did, for many years, ask God to change them – to make them straight. God said, “There’s nothing wrong with you,” and instead gave them a partner that helped them grow in their faith.

        I know a man who raised his children in a Christian home with conservative beliefs, telling them it was wrong to be gay and gays are sinners, all the while privately praying God would make him straight. Now in his 60s, his children condemn him for being homosexual and prevent him from seeing his grandchildren. I just think there has to be a better way.

        But, I have digressed….

        1. KC,
          The very order of events in the Sodom and Gomorrah account in Genesis makes it clear that those cities weren’t destroyed because of homosexuality. (God planned to destroy those cities before the supposed homosexual act was threatened; though it should be noted that even heterosexual prisoners engage in “homosexual” sex, very often as an act of rape, like what the men of Sodom wanted to do with the angels, that they didn’t know were angels, but thought were strangers; that doesn’t make them homosexual). Ezekiel 16:48-50 (ESV) explains why God destroyed those cities: “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” God also said there that Jerusalem was worse! Some might argue that “did an abomination before me” refers to homosexuality, but there’s no contextual basis for drawing that conclusion.

          However, God did not create homosexuals or homosexuality. God created Adam and Eve. Everyone else came into existence through the procreation process. Things like aberrant sexualities (e.g. homosexuality), birth defects, poisonous plants, carnivorous animals, etc. are all the result of Adam’s sin. So, no, it doesn’t matter that people believe God created their aberrant sexuality (and it is aberrant because it is not normative for the human species); it only matters what God actually did.

          It doesn’t matter whether gays are promiscuous or monogamous or celibate: their sexual/romantic attraction is contrary to God’s created design for male and female and to embrace and act on that attraction is sin. The attraction itself is for God to heal, if He so chooses (though “healing” doesn’t mean a person goes from lusting after the same sex to lusting after the opposite sex: God doesn’t exchange one form of lust for another; and even if God doesn’t heal it in this life, it will be healed when those whom God has chosen to save go home to be with Him); the sin is to be repented of and overcome. So, no, God has never said to any homosexual “there’s nothing wrong with you” and He did not give them a same-sex partner.

          I would suggest to any homosexual to whom God grants repentance and brings to salvation that he or she should surrender the aberrant attraction to God to heal in His time and focus on gaining and maintaining victory over homosexual sin (victory that we all must gain and maintain over all our sins). I would suggest to other Christians that they leave the homosexual attraction alone and focus on helping the homosexual gain and maintain victory over homosexual sin. (The process for gaining and maintaining victory over homosexual sin is the same as for gaining and maintaining victory over any other sexual sin, and perhaps even any other sin).

          It is, at best, unfortunate the way many Christians have treated the homosexuals in their lives – and, very often, the way they’ve treated them is itself sinful. However, the biblical response is not to “welcome and affirm” homosexuals in their sin, but to call them to repentance (as we must with all sinners, as we had to likewise be called to repentance).

          Paul asked in 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (ESV), “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'” The “evil person,” in this case, was a young man who was having a sexual relationship with his mother (or, at the very least, his step mother). That man eventually repented and, in 2 Corinthians, Paul commanded that he be welcomed back into the church. Keep in mind, however, that stating the biblical truth that something is sin is not “judging” anyone.

          1. KC says:

            Chancellor Roberts,

            I am still not convinced the Bible is as explicit on homosexuality being a sin as some Christians believe it to be. Yes, God mad a man and a woman (Adam and Eve), but there is evidence that there are other creation stories not written about in the bible. Where did spouses come from for Adam and Eve’s children?

            To my earlier point, some women cannot bear children. Would you tell them they are sinning?

            I’m very curious to know what passages in the Bible are explicit about this topic.

          2. EricP says:

            ” Things like aberrant sexualities (e.g. homosexuality), birth defects, poisonous plants, carnivorous animals, etc. are all the result of Adam’s sin”

            That’s an odd grouping. People with birth defects aren’t sinning (who sinned the blind man or his parents) God explicitly said we could eat meat. I’d almost say the same thing if I was arguing that homosexuality is just a cultural taboo.

          3. EricP says:

            ” Things like aberrant sexualities (e.g. homosexuality), birth defects, poisonous plants, carnivorous animals, etc. are all the result of Adam’s sin”

            That’s an odd grouping. People with birth defects aren’t sinning (who sinned the blind man or his parents) God explicitly said we could eat meat. I’d almost say the same thing if I was arguing that homosexuality is just a cultural taboo.

          4. EricP

            The grouping isn’t so odd if you don’t view homosexual attraction itself as sin (embracing and acting on the attraction, however, is sin).

            As for the eating meat thing, God didn’t allow that until after the flood. Where eating meat is discussed in the New Testament, it mainly refers to eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. Romans 14 addresses the issue well and that is the position I take on it. If a Christian chooses to believe that eating meat is wrong, then he is not to condemn those who don’t. Likewise, those who have liberty in that area aren’t to flaunt that liberty in front of those who don’t believe themselves to have that liberty.

            KC, it doesn’t matter that there are “other creation stories not written about in the bible.” The Bible is the inspired and inerrant written revelation of God and contains the only correct creation account.

            As for your question “Where did spouses come from for Adam and Eve’s children?” do you really want an answer to that? I refer you to the following excellent explanation (that would take up too much space here): http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/nab/who-was-cains-wife

  43. EricP says:

    Romans 1: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men”

    Some people assume “women exchanged natural sex” indicate lesbianism, but there are lots of unnatural types of sex.

    I know some gays argue that “men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another” refers to heterosexuals performing homosexual acts.

    If pressed for my interpretation, it is that homosexuality is a sin. Or rather, Paul considered it a sin. He also considered women pastors a sin. Based on my experience with women pastors, I believe that to be a cultural rule. I’ve seen committed LBGT Christians forced treated poorly by friends, family, and church. That can’t be right. So what to do? I now take a similar position as you. If they are fully convinced that God approves of them being in a monogamous relationship, I will not say otherwise.

    1. Melody says:

      Eric your interpretation does not matter. Jesus said that God made them male and female. It is very simple for the stupidest of people.
      There will always be evil that will try to distort and give half truths. You are way too willing to make yourself judge for what you see as injustice. To change scripture to fix what you see as a wrong. That is not your place.

      Have you ever met a person that wasn’t treated badly by someone at some point of their life? Can we really say that marriage is the cure for that? People are treated badly because we are evil wretched people.

      The Thessalonians received the gospel while being persecuted. Paul told them that God would repay. It’s not for them to do and it wasn’t for Paul to “make it up to them”. He didn’t even pray for it to stop. He prayed for them to bring glory to God in their suffering.

      You have a very worldly view Eric.

      1. EricP says:

        Melody,

        I’m not sure who gives you your ideas, but we are called to wrestle with God and scripture and become fully convinced of the truth.

        “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and *examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.*”

        “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have *struggled with God* and with humans and have overcome.'”

        “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and *have become convinced of*, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

        1. Rudi says:

          “Become convinced of the truth,” yes. Not “twist Scripture into pretzels until it says what you want it to say.”

          1. EricP says:

            Can you give examples of pretzel scripture?
            I found this verse useful when considering how to react to a homosexual in a monogamous relationship, ” So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

          2. Rudi says:

            So, you ask me for an example twisting scripture and directly after that, you provide one. Thanks for saving me the trouble, I suppose. That verse has zero bearing on homosexuality, so whatever meaning you’re reading into it is all in your own head.

          3. EricP says:

            I didn’t want to trouble you, and I thought it would be instructional to think about that one.

            Let’s take another from Acts 15: “19 ‘It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.'”

            So the Apostles said avoid these 4 things — idol meat, sexual immorality, strangled animals, and blood. Paul explicitly says idol meat is ok. Everyone but JW’s are ok now with strangled animals and blood. That leaves one of 4.

            When Paul talks about sexual immorality, he focuses on incest and prostitution. He warns about wives and husbands abstaining from one another, warns against long engagements, and young widows (that is forced abstinence)

            Now, let’s apply these verses to homosexual monogamy,
            Is it like idol meat with a clear scripture OK? No.
            Is it like strangled animals and blood, a cultural taboo? Maybe???
            Is it prostitution or incest? No
            Does it prevent forced abstinence? Yes

            It appears gray to me.

            How do you read those verses?

  44. Melody says:

    God created a perfect world,with no death. Animals did not eat each other. People did not eat animals.

    Sin entered the world and everything changed for every living creature. Death entered the world. Eve ate from the tree and did not fall over dead so Adam ate from it too. But death did come and they were driven out before they could eat from the tree of life.

    Now all kinds of horrible things, evil, deformities, disease are realities of our world. But it’s a temporary world and Christ conquered death. Our hope isn’t in trying to find cures for disease. It isn’t in aborting imperfect children. It isn’t in legislating anti-bully laws. It isn’t in taking away chemical and nuclear weapons from crazy people.

    Our hope is in the gospel. The gospel that says repent and believe that Christ came in the flesh, suffered and died on the cross for our transgressions and raised on the third day to sit at the right hand of God. When you believe you quit putting yourself and the temporary things of this fallen world first. You live for the eternal and the unseen just as Christ has.

      1. Rudi says:

        Eric: Please take your flamewar with Melody elsewhere, or otherwise stay on topic.

        1. EricP says:

          Well, the topic is hypocrisy, but you make a good point. I’ll stop replying to Melody.

          1. Rudi says:

            You don’t need to, but at least keep your responses limited to one thread at a time.

          2. Rudi says:

            I mean one article

      2. Melody says:

        I said that because you cannot accuse All churches of doing something or not doing something because no one can be in all places at the same time. It’s just common sense. Just like you can’t read people’s minds and say what they really meant. I really don’t see the point and how any of that applies to this.

        If you think I’m being hypocritical then please be more direct because I’m not getting what you are trying to imply.

        Perhaps stupidest wasn’t the best term or you thought I was calling you that directly. For that I apologize. I get extremely frustrated when people twist scripture and history to fit how they want to see things and ignore the simplest of facts.

        The fact is that God made us male and female. Children are created this way. For as long as we can all remember we were told that children do better in two parent homes. Are we supposed to believe that suddenly a child doesn’t need their mother or father anymore. That if a woman dresses more masculine and acts all butch that is supposed to replace a father?

        God made them male and female. Jesus reiterated that. There is no wiggle room in what Jesus said. And to say that He couldn’t include or foresee how homosexuality would evolve into “love” is kind of underestimating our God, don’t you think?

        As for my comment on the other thread, you give the gospel in love. You don’t tell someone how to know God and then sit and watch them starve to death. You don’t tell someone that suffers from same sex attraction that they must repent and then leave them friendless and unloved because you don’t like their previous sin. I have had people treat me that way because of my past life. How sad for them. Because God has my back and their treatment of me has their own consequences. Suffering perfects our faith and brings glory to God.

  45. Melody says:

    Eric

    I think maybe Rudi means, though I am guessing, that verse you provided applies to things that are not sin. They are grey areas where one person will feel convicted but another is not bound by it. For example I do not believe it is a sin to wear pants to church. However there are people that believe very firmly that a woman must wear a dress to church. If I was visiting their church then I would wear a dress out of respect for them. I wouldn’t feel that God required me to wear it but He requires that I show love and respect towards brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Making that into a pretzel is saying that you can take something that is a sin and do it to the glory of God. You cannot commit adultery to the glory of God. You cannot run down main street naked to the glory of God. Even if you reason out that Adam and Eve were nude in the garden. Jesus wore clothing except for when He was being publicly shamed at the crucifixion. We are expected to be dressed modestly.

    Scripture also speaks to the days when evil will be called good and good evil.

    Eric you know that couple can love each other in a non-sexual way. And you can love them and still speak the truth. It’s just harder. You know you are doing it in love when it makes you sad to say it and not prideful.

    1. Melody,

      I’m always reminded of the line from the hymn “In my heart there rings a melody…” whenever I see your name.

      Romans 14 refers to those things that the Bible does not say are sin (or gives a principle for it, e.g. “sexual immorality” would include sexual sins not explicitly named like pedophilia or, as some would wrongly argue, homosexuality). For example, the Bible doesn’t say that using tobacco is a sin or that participating in secular entertainment (e.g. listening to secular music, going to movies) is a sin.

      1. EricP says:

        In Acts, the Apostles forbid Gentiles from eating meat sacrificed to idols. In Romans 14 and 1 Cor 8, Paul specifically says that rule is situational. We obey that rule only to prevent the weaker Christian from stumbling.

        The modern church tends to do the opposite — curtail the freedom of younger believers for the sake of the older believers.

        1. Rudi says:

          Eric,

          I don’t know where on Earth you live, but that hasn’t been my experience. The church these days is all about discarding essential doctrine in favor of feel-good happy clappy garbage. To the extent that American Anglican churches have left their diocese and joined the Africans, which still holds to necessary doctrine and practice.

          Whatever the faults of the Western Church are, “being too strict” is not among them. And you would know this if you’ve been following church trends for the past half century.

          1. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            I was woefully imprecise in my statement. Yes, many mainline denominations have discarded essential doctrine (to the point that I sometimes forget about them).

            What I was trying to say Tullian said much much better. http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2013/10/21/church-we-have-a-problem/

          2. Rudi says:

            Eric,

            That’s a fascinating article, which I will not commit to deliver a verdict on as yet. However, respectfully, I think that you’ve missed its point. It does not intend to promote lawlessness, “seeker-friendliness” (in the modern sense), or any such thing. Rather, it is re-categorizing the whole shebang. It is exhorting us to return to the emphasis on what Christ has done for us and to accept it as 100% grace.

            But what the pro-gay faction within the Church is instead saying is not that God redeems us from sin, but that homosexuality is not a sin in the first place. Saying that the characterization of (active) homosexuality as sin, is the same as preaching legalism, is equivocation of the most extreme degree. We don’t need to “affirm” sin in order to keep from being legalistic. Rather, we need to emphasize grace, which I believe is what the pastor quoted in this article has done. Grace is the precedent and is available to all; behavior will follow.

            Grace is free, and grace without works is dead. These statements are not contradictory, and one does not seek to mitigate the other. THAT is the point of the article you have linked to. Not to permit lawlessness, but at the same time not to make adherence to the law a prerequisite for receiving grace (lest we become Pharisees).

            Take the example of a growing tree. The tree is not alive because it grows; but because it is alive, it will grow. An absence of growth indicates an absence of life. Hence, the lesbian in the article we’re commenting on was essentially saying this: “I am a dead tree stump. Is it okay if I become alive, and yet never grow?” That isn’t possible. You’re missing the point of the pastor’s response if you interpret it as the lesbian seems to have done, thus: “Unless you’re a growing tree, you are unwelcome here.” Rather, he is saying this: “If you become alive, being a tree, you WILL grow; so your question is a contradiction in terms.” He is not preaching legalism, but he is drawing a cause/effect relationship between accepting grace and evidencing growth, which includes abandoning some cherished sins, homosexuality among them. What the writer of this article itself is saying, is that every other believer is in the exact same boat as this lesbian, if there are aspects of ourselves that we refuse to allow God to change. He limits himself to a discussion on sin, but I would say (as Roberts has said before me in this comment thread) that it applies to every area of life. It’s not even about right vs. wrong per se, but about the Lordship of Christ; not about the acceptance of grace in the first place, but the fruits of its outworking in our lives after having received it.

            I hope that’s not too much Christianese, but one does occasionally need to resort to jargon when the discussion gets complicated, so I hope it still makes sense :)

          3. EricP says:

            Rudi,

            Maybe persuasive words is not my gift ;)

            I agree with virtually everything you wrote. “Grace is the precedent and is available to all; behavior will follow.” – yes

            “You’re missing the point of the pastor’s response if you interpret it as the lesbian seems to have done, thus: ‘Unless you’re a growing tree, you are unwelcome here.'”

            I agree that’s not what the pastor meant and I agree that is how the lesbian understood.

            What I have been trying (apparently incoherently) to say is that we need to speak the truth in such a way that the lesbian understands what we mean.

            If we agree on that, I’ll say we had a fruitful, if long winded conversation.

            I’m not on the pro-gay side or its opposite. I believe we should let the Holy Spirit convict each person in His own time. I assume that sounds pro-gay to you. I also assume that there’s nothing I could say to change your opinion, so I won’t try.

          4. Rudi says:

            Eric,

            Fair enough, but having read the links you posted before for my perusal, which are very much on the pro-gay side (i.e.: stating categorically that homosexuality is not sinful “for everyone”), maybe I’m misinterpreting your latest posts due to misunderstanding your position. What is this “truth” that you want us to communicate to this lesbian? She asked a very simple question, is her behavior sinful or not? Homosexual acts (as opposed to having homosexual tendencies) are not a “weaker brother” concession to make; it’s sin, finish, basta. If you have a different opinion, then at this point we’ll need to agree to disagree.

            It’s not a reason to chase people out of the church, but if it persists, we would be right to question that person’s commitment, under the concept that a tree which does not grow is not giving any evidence that it is alive. And very obviously, someone engaged in a gross lifestyle sin (whatever that may be) can’t hold a leadership position in the church. The blind can’t lead the blind.

          5. EricP says:

            I’m on the fence, but I meant it from your perspective — homosexuality is a gross lifestyle sin.

            I agree with your last paragraph. I would just add that there might be other fruit of growth first. Look at the whole picture. Is the person growing or not? Not necessarily are they growing in that one particular area. Some sins take a long time to be convicted of.

          6. Rudi says:

            Again – fair enough, but it’s one thing if a sin is difficult for you to get rid of. It’s another when you try to come to God on your terms and want to make sure ahead of time that you will never be challenged on a given point.

            Still, I think we’re going around in circles at this stage. The pastor did nothing wrong, homosexuality is sin, and the take-home lesson of this article is to guard against doing the same in our lives as the lesbian did.

        2. I’m not sure Paul was referring specifically to meat sacrificed to idols in Romans 14, particularly because he wrote that some choose only to eat vegetables (no meat at all). So, I don’t see that Paul was contradicting the Jerusalem Council at all.

          I also agree with Rudi that the tendency in Western churches has not been “being too strict,” but just the opposite; allowing more and more things that would never have been allowed in previous generations. (And I’m writing this as someone who has been a Christian since 1976).

          1. EricP says:

            I think the point of no meat was to completely avoid the chance of eating idol sacrificed meat. The super condensed version of 1 Cor 8 is: “Now about food sacrificed to idols:…food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do. Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak…Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

            Paul says that eating meat sacrificed to idols is ok only if it does not create a stumbling block for weaker Christians. Can you think of an issue like that today? (honestly asking, because I can’t) The closest I can think of is avoiding alcohol around alcoholics.

  46. Melody says:

    Started an inductive study on 1 Samuel and am struck by how seriously God treated the disregard for the things that He set up. You were not to chose a loved one over God. When He says love Him most, He means it.

  47. EricP,

    Actually, I can think of “an issue like that today.” I can think of more than one. Tobacco, caffeine, participation in secular activities like going to movies or watching television or listening to secular music or going to sports games. (There are churches that preach against participating in any secular entertainment). Regardless, I’m not convinced Paul actually went against the Jerusalem Council’s decree; and keep in mind that Peter later referred to Paul’s writings as scripture.

    1. EricP says:

      Chancellor,

      None of those are done with the conscience of the weaker believer in mind. When I was a new believer, I had no problems with any of those (except tobacco because of health issues). I was told to avoid those to “not be of the world”.

      What I’m trying to think of is something a non-believer considers a sin, but it really isn’t. Maybe something like government programs for the poor. Many Christians are Republicans and don’t support a expanding the safety net. Democrats think Republicans in that case are hard hearted and immoral.

      1. Rudi says:

        Eric,

        I disagree with your first paragraph. Sports, TV, music, etc., are indeed discouraged in some churches and not in others. Some individuals are OK with that stuff, some aren’t. I will specifically avoid drinking alcohol in the company of a recovering alcoholic or a teetotaler who has moral objections to alcohol. Heck, I listen to heavy metal, but I will not switch it on in my car when I’m giving my dad a lift. That’s the VERY DEFINITION of a “weaker brother” issue.

        “What I’m trying to think of is something a non-believer considers a sin, but it really isn’t.” Well, you’re going to search for a very long time, because non-religious people do not believe in the concept of sin. Sin is an offense against God; if you don’t believe in God, then you don’t believe in sin. The concept “sin” does overlap to a very large extent with “doing something which violates someone else’s rights.” However, it is not the SAME concept, so whatever parallel you’re trying to draw is not going to work.

        On the other hand, maybe by “non-believer” you meant “non-Christian” rather than “non-religious,” in which case your search should be over in less than two seconds. Some Islamists think that a woman wearing anything other than a garbage bag is sinful, but we don’t believe that.

        So either way you meant it, I don’t think that your question to Roberts makes a ton of sense.

      2. EricP, Paul wasn’t referring in Romans 14 to non-believers (non-Christians, “outsiders” in 1 Corinthians 5:12), but only to Christians. It doesn’t matter what outsiders think is “sin.”

        Politically, I’m a Libertarian. So, frankly, I don’t really care what Democrats and Republicans think. (They’re two sides of the SAME liberty-hating, Constitution-trampling, big government, nanny stater, interventionist coin). I oppose government social programs because, at least on the federal level, they’re unconstitutional and because I agree with James Madison (the “father” of the Constitution) that “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.” Charity is, however, something the Church collectively, and the Christian individually, is called to do.

  48. EricP says:

    The way you acted is the “weaker brother” issue. What I was objecting to is new Christians being told they have to stop listening to heavy metal or drinking alcohol. (Heavy metal, really? What bands?)

    The burqa issue is perfect. If we were in an islamic culture, Christian women could wear burqas for the sake of their weaker sisters.

    1. Rudi says:

      Eric,

      This (AFAIK) is exactly what happens in traditionally Islamic countries. The Christian women wear scarves (though not the burqa, usually, because being a Christian is pretty much illegal in the countries that mandate the burqa anyway).

      Remind me; what is your point in bringing up the “weaker brother” question? I’m trying to follow the chain of reasoning through previous posts in this thread, but I think the point got lost somewhere along the way.

      As for the metal bands I listen to, since you ask: mainly Apocalyptica, Extol, Demon Hunter, and Becoming the Archetype. Also some Serenity and Skindred. (Word to the wise, avoid Serenity’s music videos, they’re dodgy.) So … all of these bands are somewhere on the metal spectrum (not all “heavy”), and about half of them are secular. And the other bands I listen to are not metal, though some are metal-inspired.

      1. EricP says:

        Point for this rabbit trail? I was trying to get at the idea that some rules were cultural or for the sake of other’s consciousnesses. They were temporary, not eternal. As the outside world changes, those rules go away. Today, no one is a vegetarian because meat might have been sacrificed to an idol.

        Slavery is another example. If a church today gave a message on “slaves obey your masters”, there would be much deserved outrage. It was the right message then. Wrong message now.

        I’m pretty convinced the same logic applies to women pastors. I can see how that logic can be stretched even more to include homosexual monogamy. There are 4 topics. Two are very clear now (idol meat, slavery), one is fuzzy (women teachers), and one most evangelicals would call heretical.

        That’s where I was headed. Not sure where that line of thinking ends. Obviously the abolitionists cut across worldly opinion to end slavery. Knowing what battles to fight is tough.

        1. Rudi says:

          Ahh, I see where you’re going with this. Let me go through that point by point:

          1. “Today, no one is a vegetarian because meat might have been sacrificed to an idol.” Are you sure about that, or have you forgotten that the vast majority of the world’s population lives as peasants in pagan third-world countries?

          2. “If a church today gave a message on “slaves obey your masters”, there would be much deserved outrage. It was the right message then. Wrong message now.” That’s very questionable. I must remind you that slavery still exists in the less developed world. Besides, according to the definition in use at the time this verse was written, “slavery” was the state in which you were in bondage (under contract) for fixed predetermined pay (salary), the minimum of which was room and board. (If you were treated worse, it was because you were a criminal; e.g., galley slaves.) It’s a very broad definition, but according to inhabitants of the Roman Empire at the time, today’s “employees” would be called “slaves.” A reasonable current translation would be, “employees, obey your employers.”

          3. As for “women pastors,” I hold to the idea that it’s still not recommended, and I know far more women who agree with this idea than don’t.

          So I’m not seeing this universal irrelevance that you seem to be implying for those verses.

  49. Melody says:

    Why weren’t they supposed to eat with the man that was with his stepmother? She wasn’t his real mother. Maybe he really really loved her. Maybe she was actually closer to his age because men married additional wives that were much younger than themselves to have children. If they were saved by grace then why did Paul have such a fit about them being together? Why didn’t he just tell them to get married? Wouldn’t that have fixed it?

    1. Melody,

      Paul didn’t say merely to stop eating with the man who was having an adulterous affair with his stepmother (his father’s wife), he said to cast the man out of the church until he repented. (And, in 2 Corinthians, Paul told them to welcome him back into the church once he did repent). It’s about adultery. It doesn’t matter whether he really loved her or she was closer to his age or whatever, it’s about sin and, in this case, a sin that wasn’t even practiced among the Gentiles.

      1. Melody says:

        Well I checked the translations and it doesn’t say adultery. In fact none of the translations say adultery but most of them say fornication so that must mean his father is dead. So why not just have them get married to fix the sin?

  50. Charles Purter says:

    I will go straight to the issue. The most important question from the young lady was “Would I have to change my sexuality?” I strongly believe the pastor’s answer should have been: No, we do not require you to change your sexuality. But, if at any time after attending our church, you feel an urge to change anything about your personal lifestyle, we are here to discuss such changes with you, and afterward, it will be your decision to change. Again, we do not require you to change. If you change, that will be your decision.

    1. Melody says:

      It’s not a club or mental health clinic. It’s a church. It doesn’t matter what anyone strongly believes. What matters is the truth.

      1. Charles Purter says:

        First, unlike your suggestion that the church is “not a club or mental health clinic;” metaphorically speaking, that is exactly what a church is suppose to be. The primary purpose of the church is to improve a person’s spiritual health. Second, I’m glad you mention “truth.” Again, metaphorically speaking, a church is essentially a club where spiritual truth develops “like-minded” members. In essence, and in a practical sense, the true biblical based church serves as 1) a spiritual health clinic, where 2) people are seeking spiritual truth, to become 3) a member of an exclusive spiritual club based on agape love. And lastly, remember this – the bible identifies God as Spirit and Love. Among other characteristic qualities, Jesus is identified as Truth.

        1. Rudi says:

          I find it interesting that your core definition of a true biblical church does not even mention Jesus Christ.

          As for God being all about love, remember that He’s also all about justice. Faith without works is dead, so yeah, changing your behavior is a natural consequence of saving faith. Which is what the pastor said. He didn’t make moral perfection a prerequisite for being saved.

  51. Bev says:

    “Church is for Christians – not lost people.”

    Scott, I feel very sorry for you and your church. Followers of Christ should love and live as Christ did and does. Seek the lost, the neglected, the hurt. Love unconditionally. Accept without judgment. Serve with generosity. Church is for absolutely everyone.

    Cherry picking the bible is comical. Homosexuals can’t go to church without repenting? Did you repent about that shrimp you ate last night? How about when you, Melody, spoke up in church last Sunday? And what about your divorce? Men, did you touch your wife while she was menstruating this month? Should we still own slaves? No? The bible supports it. Shame, shame I know your names.

    With all due respect, Chancellor, your sexism and blatant bigotry towards women and their involvement in the house of the Lord is disgraceful. I can only imagine what it’s like to live in your house.

    1. Rudi says:

      Bev,

      Church is for everyone indeed, but you are wrong to assume that repentance is not required. Go back and read Christ’s actual words some time – He exhorts us to repent, does He not? Every time that He calls people to Him, it is with the understanding that to do so would involve repentance. When the adulteress is about to be stoned, He saves her life from those who would stone her. What does He say to her then? “Go, and sin no more.” He does not say, “Hey sister, do what you want! I’m not here to judge! Peace out!” Right?

      As for “cherry picking” the Bible and applying the Jewish laws to Christians, you clearly missed the whole debate surrounding this topic in Acts. It was specifically stated by the early Church that gentiles don’t need to adhere to the Jewish laws, but should refrain from sexual immorality. If you’ve ever read Paul then you’ll know that this immorality includes homosexuality, as well as incest, bestiality, and even boring old everyday adultery. I won’t rehash the whole topic here, it’s right there in the Bible if you care to read it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

Trevin Wax's Books