Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beliefs about Homosexual Behavior and Ministering to Homosexual Persons

In view of the recent decisions over homosexuality in the ELCA, the denomination I grew up in, I think it is important that we all continue to go back to the Bible to make and frame our worldview.

We all have sin issues to deal with, and so the argument that homosexuality is something we are born with does not really hold any water. Some are born with a tendency to be lazier than others. Others are born with a propensity towards lust, greed or a short temper. Just as we all inherit a sinful nature from Adam, we are all born with natural propensities towards various sins. However, all of us are called to fight, and by God's grace, to put to death the misdeeds of the body by the transforming power of the Spirit. Romans 8:13 says, "For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live." and Colossians 3:5 says, "Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

It is clear from Scripture that one of the sins we are to put to death in our own selves is homosexual practice. (Romans 1, 1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10) If we choose to live in sin we "will die" in our sin apart from God. Therefore, the only Biblical pattern is to fight our own sin.

John Piper writes:

Our affirmation that the Bible is the infallible Word of God with "supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct," and our affirmation that "a Christian should live for the glory of God" include the following six beliefs about heterosexuality and homosexuality:

1. We believe that heterosexuality is God's revealed will for humankind and that, since God is loving, a chaste and faithful expression of this orientation (whether in singleness or in marriage) is the ideal to which God calls all people.

2. We believe that a homosexual orientation is a result of the fall of humanity into a sinful condition that pervades every person. Whatever biological or familial roots of homosexuality may be discovered, we do not believe that these would sanction or excuse homosexual behavior, though they would deepen our compassion and patience for those who are struggling to be free from sexual temptations.

3. We believe there is hope for the person with a homosexual orientation and that Jesus Christ offers a healing alternative in which the power of sin is broken and the person is freed to know and experience his or her true identity in Christ and in the fellowship of his Church.

4. We believe that this freedom is attained through a process which includes recognizing homosexual behavior as sin, renouncing the practice of homosexual behavior, rediscovering healthy, non-erotic friendships with people of the same sex, embracing a moral sexual lifestyle, and in the age to come, rising from the dead with a new body free from every sinful impulse. This process parallels the similar process of sanctification needed in dealing with heterosexual temptations as well. We believe that this freedom comes through faith in Jesus Christ, by the power of his Spirit.

5. We believe that all persons have been created in the image of God and should be accorded human dignity. We believe therefore that hateful, fearful, unconcerned harassment of persons with a homosexual orientation should be repudiated. We believe that respect for persons with a homosexual orientation involves honest, reasoned, nonviolent sharing of facts concerning the immorality and liability of homosexual behavior. On the other hand, endorsing behavior which the Bible disapproves endangers persons and dishonors God.

6. We believe that Christian churches should reach out in love and truth to minister to people touched by homosexuality, and that those who contend Biblically against their own sexual temptation should be patiently assisted in their battle, not ostracized or disdained. However, the more prominent a leadership role or modeling role a person holds in a church or institution of the Conference, the higher will be the expectations for God's ideal of sexual obedience and wholeness. We affirm that both heterosexual and homosexual persons should find help in the church to engage in the Biblical battle against all improper sexual thoughts and behaviors.


Kyle said...

Both the church and non-Christians have failed to appreciate the distinction between a homosexual orientation and engaging in homosexual behavior.

Being a homosexual is not a sin. It's the behavior that is. Through God's Holy Spirit a Christian who may have a natural erotic attraction to the same sex can refrain from sin. And someone with no natural attraction towards the same sex can engage in homosexual activity.

The bottom line is that it's downright condescending how advocates of homosexual rights act as though people can't control their own actions and despite their natural inclination, abstain from an extremely dangerous and unhealthy lifestyle.

Gene said...

Excellent information here. I sent it to Pastor Perry too and he had a favorable comment.