Homosexuality has become the issue of our time. Whether or not you’ve followed current events (like the recent developments in the Presbyterian Church in the USA, or the Indiana law on relgious freedom), we have all felt the ground shake as views on homosexuality have shifted in our culture with lightning speed.
The Homosexual Shift in the Church
It’s not remarkable that our culture has shifted. Cultures are always changing. What’s remarkable is where our culture has shifted. This shift has largely happened within Christianity. For the first time in the history of the New Testament church, there are now some who would identify themselves as Christians who teach that homosexual acts and desires are not sinful. The term “gay Christian” is now a part of our cultural landscape.
The Theological Shift
Those who take the Bible seriously might ask, “Don’t passages like Romans 1:26-27 settle the matter?” Fifty years ago, sure. But today some Christians teach that the parts of the Bible that talk about the sinfulness of homosexual acts and desires have been misunderstood. These new voices assert that, when read correctly, these passages actually teach that a homosexual couple in a monogamous marriage relationship is God honoring. This is a shift in how we interpret the Bible (hermeneutics), and it has enormous implications.
What was assumed for the last 2,000 years must now be proven. Does the Bible teach that homosexual acts are sinful? Does the Bible teach that homosexual desires are sinful? To what degree are we responsible for our sexual desires? What does it look like for someone to be a follower of Jesus and struggle with same-sex desires? We need to answer these questions with clarity.
The Personal Shift
But this isn’t just a theological debate. At the end of the day, we’re talking about people. Whether inside or outside of the church, people are struggling to make sense of their desires. Our children are growing up in an environment where they are often told that their desires are not wrong, no matter what they are.
Honestly, the lack of compassionate outreach to people who struggle with homosexual desires from the church has hindered our ability to respond. We’re fooling ourselves if we think people can’t tell whether or not they’re loved, whatever their struggles may be. Because of picket signs, conservative evangelical churches have a minimal voice into the homosexual community. This may not be accurate or fair, but it is the reality on the ground. How do we love and minister to people with homosexual desires and lifestyles?
Whether theologically or personally, our culture has shifted. We need to articulate our understanding of the Biblical passages that deal with homosexuality. But we can’t stop there. We need to consider how we can best make and mature disciples of Jesus in a same-sex friendly world. In the coming months at GPBC you’ll see four ways that we hope to respond to the homosexual shift in our culture:
- Starting June 3, we will host a Wednesday night summer series entitled The Homosexual Shift: Love, Ministry, and the Gospel in a Same Sex Friendly World. Come, ask questions, and gain insight into the Biblical teaching on homosexuality and current trends in our culture and in Christianity regarding homosexuality.
- Our elders are working on a position paper on the Biblical teaching on homosexuality and on how we are called by God to minister to to unbelieving homosexuals and believers who struggle with homosexual desires. This position paper may also result in a proposed addition to our church doctrinal statement. Some of our pastors will be attending conferences that deal with different aspects of ministering to homosexuals. Pray for our elders and pastors as they seek to address new approaches, and communicate our position as a church.
- Due to legal challenges surrounding this issue, our elders are also considering clarifying our policies and procedures regarding weddings and pastoral staff serving as wedding officiants. Pray for wisdom as we seek to navigate the legal implications of holding to a Biblical perspective on homosexuality.
- We are planning a short Sunday morning sermon series on homosexuality in January of 2016. Pray that we would grow in our ability to minister the gospel to unbelieving homosexuals and believers who struggle with homosexual desires.