The Gay Marriage Debate: Winning, Losing or Dropping Out? (Part 6)
“No Church Left Behind”
Just got back from vacation in Northern California, where we enjoyed whitewater rafting, tours of vineyards, outrageous roller coaster rides and a repeat viewing of The Dark Knight Rises. (Worth a look, in my opinion, but I’m a sucker for all things DC) During that same week this blog had its first viral episode, with the August 2 post on the protestor I spotted at Chic-fil-A generating 29,800 shares as of this writing. (Click here if you missed it.) Thanks again, wholeheartedly, for participating. More than a hundred of you commented, and while I try to respond to all comments on this site, the volume that came in during my time off made it impossible. But your posts reminded me of how much we rely on your support, so please, if you haven’t done so already, won’t you help us out by clicking the “like” button (here) if you’re a regular reader? Sure would appreciate you taking the time to do that.
Clearly this subject is on people’s minds and hearts, making the Church’s response all the more critical. We’re challenged to both know and hold the right position, then to express that position in the most God-honoring way. To that end, let’s look at Part 6 in our series on same-sex marriage – No Church Left behind.
Illumination is part of the Church’s job description. So Jesus told His followers we’re the light of the world; Peter noted that we’re to “declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light” (I Peter 2:9-10); and Paul said to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather, reprove them.” (Ephesians 5:11) Illumination points to God and His glory, and also, inevitably, reproves what’s wrong while underscoring what’s right. So said Francis Schaeffer when he remarked that “Christianity provides a unified answer for the whole of life” and, therefore, “Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.
To know the truth, live the truth, communicate the truth – there’s the challenge, and nowhere is it more pronounced than within our own walls. The local church must respond to the issues of its time in ways that are Biblical, compassionate, relevant. And who could deny that homosexuality is a prominent issue of our times?
A common one, too, becoming more commonplace by the hour. Pastors in churches across the country are hearing, with more frequency, from parishioners affected by homosexuality: the Christian husband who secretly uses gay porn; the parents reeling from their son’s announcement that he’s attracted to men; the woman wondering whether to accept or decline her friend’s invitation to a same-sex wedding ceremony; the teens in youth group who have gay friends at school and can’t understand what all the fuss is about. Christians are, directly or indirectly, feeling the influence of America’s growing acceptance of homosexuality. That’s a given. What’s questionable is whether or not our churches are communicating God’s heart and mind on the matter.
I would argue that, generally, we’re not. Of course, assessing the entire Body of Christ is a fool’s game, because who knows what all churches are like? Still, I think it’s safe to say this issue caught us by surprise, a surprise we need to recover from post haste, because when it comes to educating people on human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular, the world has eagerly, aggressively taken up the challenge. And that’s left us with some serious catching up to do.
Some would say that, in order to catch up, our churches need to establish specialized ministries dealing with homosexuality, featuring support groups, counseling and education. I’d say otherwise, though I do think highly of such ministries, and would love to see them developed in more congregations. Still, I think the answer lies less in the counseling office and more in the pulpit. If our pastors communicate, faithfully and clearly, what scripture has to say about the human condition, then believers will be better equipped to apply and express what they’ve learned, and everyone wins. So my first and earnest hope is that our leaders will apply themselves to teaching their congregations what scripture says about six primary issues:
- Human nature (both the fallen and redeemed)
- Human sexuality (what God intended and why it matters)
- The struggle between the flesh and the spirit (expecting and dealing with temptation)
- Sanctification (the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the believer)
- Body ministry (the role of other believers in our growth)
- Healthy intimacy (growing in love and responsibility to others)
It doesn’t take a specialist to teach these topics from the pulpit; only a man well versed in scripture who’ll take the time to explain its application. An educated church is an equipped church; an equipped church has answers and direction. So first and foremost, let the local congregation be Biblically grounded on these points, and it will have the tools it needs for relevance and redemptive ministry.
Check Out the Entire Series, “The Gay Marriage Debate: Winning, Losing or Dropping Out?”
Shelley LaValley | Aug 15, 2012
Joe, I can't even begin to tell you how much your writings are ministering to my husband's and my heart right now. Our oldest daughter that is 18 (whom has always been an amazing leader amongst her peers...stubborn, strong willed, top student, musician, drum major, peer mentor, Bible trivia "master"...you get the picture), has always had a heart that wanted to do what was right and stand up for her convictions. She always had such a hard time with friends at church and school that were so two faced in their approach to God and his truths. Kids always came to her for "counsel" and she shared God's word with them. Everything was black and white to her. Well, to make a long story shorter, she developed a friendship with a girl in October of her senior year, and it turned into an intense emotional relationship. In a nutshell, our daughter was wiling to give up every conviction she had been taught and trained, to follow a feeling. And now several months later she has completely "come out" with her gayness (even though she had never "acted" gay a day in her life). This kid KNOWS better....she knows God's word...she has been intensely loved by her family, she was never a tom boy, and she hasn't been abused (all myths that many, many people think are the only "reasons" for kids choosing this lifestyle). She's gone to church her whole life, and our family lives the walk that we talk! She is the kid that stood up to her 10th grade atheist biology teacher to tell him she believed in creation and got those truths from the Bible which she believed to be absolutely true. I say all this to confirm what you are saying Joe...our kids are being told in both the world and at church that there is nothing wrong with being homosexual. They are willing to leave everything good...even ditch their families to pursue this lifestyle. It is like a cult or a gang that pursues, and anyone that disagrees is a slave master. We have got to take a stand for truth in our churches....bottom line is our kids need it from home first, but our kids NEED IT AT CHURCH. They need a support network of strong Christian friends that have an intense desire to study and pursue absolute truth of God's word.
Never, ever in a million years did I think that "my" kid would be the one that followed her non Christian peers at school before she would follow the truths she had been taught her whole life at home. We are in a crisis in this world. And people are absolute fools if they think they can protect their kids from it by only good teaching at home. It is happening everywhere...in home school groups, youth groups, school groups, you name it.
The one hope I do have, is that she does know God's truths somewhere deep down in that heart. And I know that I will never give up on her...I will love her and love her and love her, and will always be waiting to take her back and forgive her.
Don Lambirth | Aug 16, 2012
Joe I thank God for your ministry and your testimony. You give hope to the broken.
I consider myself a personally conservative Christian but politically a Libeterian. I am not pro-gay marriage but I am pro-individual liberties. Just as I would defend someone's right to believe/practice a religion/philosophy that is different than mine I also will defend the right of two consenting adults to have the right to be together and if they want to call it "marriage" then so be it. Do I think it is a sin? Yes. Do I think it is destructive? Yes. But I want to allow the freedom of choice for those who want that. I don't think the role of the Church should be to limit others right to free choice it makes us out to be an oppressor. I think the Church does has the responsibility to call sin sin and to love the sinner. And yes we should speak out and warn others of this sin. I echo MLK jr. when he says that the church should be the conscience of the state not its servant or master.
This puts me in a weird place as some of my fellow Christian's do not think my faith is authentic because I don't share their political stance. At the same time the world thinks I'm bigoted; homophobic; intolerant and hateful because I believe the Bible (and the laws of nature and biology for that matter) when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. Both assertions are far from the truth. And both hurt me deeply. I strive to love Christ with all my heart, mind, soul and strength daily (but not perfectly). At the same time I have gay friends and family members who I value and love deeply (my daughters god-mother is a lesbian in fact).
Anyway Joe that's my perspective. Thanks for all you are doing.