How Can the Gospel Be Good News to Gays?

We were having lunch together, and I was praying like mad. My friend had been in a committed same-sex relationship for about 15 years. He was interested in Jesus; attracted to his teaching and message. But he wanted to know how becoming a Christian would affect his gay lifestyle.

I had explained, as carefully and graciously as I could, that Jesus upheld and expanded the wider biblical stance on sexuality, that the only context for sexual activity is heterosexual marriage. Following Jesus would mean seeking to live under his word, in this area as in any other.

He had been quiet for a moment, and then looked me in the eye and asked the billion-dollar question: ‘What could possibly be worth giving up my partner for?’

I held his gaze for a moment while my brain raced for the answer. There was eternity, of course. There was heaven and hell. But I was conscious that these realities would seem other-worldly and intangible to him. In any case, surely following Jesus is worth it even for this life. He was asking about life here-and-now, so I prayed for God to lead me to a here-and-now Bible verse. I wanted my friend to know that following Jesus really is worth it—worth it in the life to come, but also worth it in this life now, no less so for those who have homosexual feelings. Yes, there would be a host of hardships and difficulties: unfulfilled longings, the distress of unwanted temptation, and the struggles of long-term singleness.

But I wanted him to know that following Jesus is more than worth it, even with all it entails for gay people. And I also wanted to tell him that I had come to know this not just from studying the Bible and listening to others, but from my own experience.

More Grace, Not Less

Homosexuality is an issue I have grappled with my entire Christian life. It took a long time to admit to myself, longer to admit to others, and even longer to see something of God’s good purposes through it all. There have been all sorts of ups and downs. But this battle is not devoid of blessings, as Paul discovered with his own unyielding thorn in the flesh. Struggling with sexuality has been an opportunity to experience more of God’s grace, rather than less.

Only in recent months have I felt compelled to be more open on this issue. For many years I had no intention of being public about it. I am conscious that raising it here may lead to any number of responses—some welcome, some perhaps less so. But over the last couple of years I have felt increasingly concerned that, when it comes to our gay friends and family members, many of us Bible-believing Christians are losing confidence in the gospel. We are not always convinced it really is good news for gay people. We are not always sure we can really expect them to live by what the Bible says.

As my mind raced that lunchtime God gave me a verse to share with my friend. It demonstrates precisely why following Jesus is worth it, in this lifetime, and even when we have to give up things we could never imagine living without:

Peter said to Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you!”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no-one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much as in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.” (Mark 10:28-30)

Following Jesus involves leaving things behind and giving things up. For gay people, it involves leaving behind a gay lifestyle.

God’s Clear Word

The Bible is consistent in prohibiting homosexual practice. Jesus himself condemns “sexual immorality” (Mark 7:21, for example). Though Jesus does not directly mention homosexual activity, he does include it. The Greek word we translate as “sexual immorality” (porneia, from which we get the word pornography) is a catch-all term for any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage.

Paul is more specific, directly referring to homosexual practice in three passages. In Romans 1:24-27 both homosexual and also lesbian activity are given as examples of the “unnatural” behavior that results from turning away from God. In 1 Cor. 6:9-10 “homosexual offenders” are listed among those whose behavior will result in their exclusion from God’s kingdom. The word Paul uses literally translates as “men who lie with men” and comes again in 1 Timothy 1:10 (where the NIV 1984 unhelpfully translates it “perverts”).

It is simply not possible to argue for gay relationships from the Bible. Attempts by some church leaders to do so inevitably involve twisting some texts and ignoring others. God’s Word is, in fact, clear. The Bible consistently prohibits any sexual activity outside of marriage.

As someone who experiences homosexual feelings this is not always an easy word to hear. It has sometimes been very painful to come to terms with what the Bible says. There have been times of acute temptation and longing—times when I have been “in love.” And yet Scripture shows that these longings distort what God has created me for.

Extraordinary Returns

However much we have to leave behind we are never left out of pocket. Whatever we give up Jesus replaces, in godly kind and greater measure. No one who leaves will fail to receive, and the returns are extraordinary—a hundredfold. What we give up for Jesus does not compare to what he gives back. If the costs are great, the rewards are even greater, even in this life. For me these include a wonderful depth of friendship God has given me with many brothers and sisters; the opportunities of singleness; the privilege of a wide-ranging ministry; and the community of a wonderful church family. But greater than any of these things is the opportunity that any complex and difficult situation presents us with: to learn the all-sufficiency of Christ—learning that fullness of life and joy is in him and his service, and nowhere else.

There is a huge amount to say on this issue, but the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it.

  • Bill Weber

    Thanks for a helpful article. While I think homosexuals have a sin problem that is different than than the sin problem of heterosexuals,sin is still sin. The solution comes in dying and rising with Jesus. Dying and rising is the pattern for living.

    I am encouraged by John 4. Jesus, who has just been described as the bridegroom by John the baptist, comes to a well, the place of betrothal in the Old Testament. We are led to think, who might his bride be? His bride turns out to be a Samaritan woman with a checkered history of six husbands. Her seventh will be the perfect Husband, for both heterosexuals and homosexuals!

  • Akash Charles

    After reading so many liberal christian arguments on how the gospel hurts Gays, this is comforting and reassuring.

    I still have some questions that confuse me
    where did God reprimand David or Jacob for polygamy??
    What if someone was giving the Gospel to a polygamist?-how would he leave is wives and numerous children who all depend on him as he is generally the sole breadwinner?
    (I am not advocating polygamy or linking it to Gay marriage-before anyone attacks over here!-I just was wondering how we should respond to these individuals)

    • Julie Kautz

      Very good question, and I see the parallel. I would treat the issue very much the same. Simple answer but it does make me ponder. I see a difference in the ‘progressive agenda’ of the gay activists who push homosexual lifestyle as ‘the norm,’ Even among remnant sects of polygamists there is no activism to tell us to normalize it and include it in social mores.

    • Jeff Dovalovsky

      I haven’t made a study of this, but I would expect (knowing that God permitted a married man to marry his brother’s widow in the OT) that what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 would apply to the polygamist, as it does to the monogamist.

    • Nicole

      I read a commentary about that and for me it really made sense. It basically was saying the bible should be read as a whole so reading about the life of David we should be thinking about Genesis and how God made one man and one women to be together and the 10 commandments that say dont kill and dont commit adultry. So when we read about Daniel the author assumed it was so obviously wrong for him to kill a man to take his wife and wrong to take more then one wiife because of the context they didnt think they needed to spell it out for the reader. Now how to go about changing their lifestyle, i would always remember love. Im sure lots of prayer and advice seeking would be required. I doubt theres an easy answer and like the author mentioned too its not going to be easy.

      • Lois

        Nicole, even though the point you make is valid (that we need to read passages while thinking of the entire Bible as context) it still doesn’t completely answer Akash’s question, particularly addressing polygamy.

        When God sends Nathan to rebuke David for taking Bathsheba, the rebuke is focused on the fact that he took her from Uriah and killing him. It even says in 2 Samuel 12:7-9 “Thus says the Lord… And I gave you your master’s [Saul’s] house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah.” God literally says that he gave Saul’s wives to David.

        There’s no rebuke from God for having multiple wives (I don’t remember or know of any in the OT), and this just opens up more questions when we look at Lot and the way he dealt with the Sodomites; why that happened and what God thinks of that.

        This is something I’ve always wondered myself, and was curious to hear from you if the commentary you read had any mention of this.

        • Mel

          No He let them suffer the natural consequences of multiple wives. Name one that it went well for that had multiple. By the time that Jesus walked among us it was no longer an issue mentioned and Paul solidified it by saying what was required of an elder of the church;husband to one wife.

          I would hope that a man in that situation would fulfill his financial obligations and emotional obligations to the children while asking their forgiveness for giving them a family life that is less than God’s best.

          • Lois

            It doesn’t seem like it was an issue ever mentioned before Jesus. I don’t know the Bible as well as I would like, so if I’m wrong, please show me where this is mentioned in the OT.

            And by your argument stated in your first sentence, isn’t it logical to say that we can make assumptions about “Biblical truth” even if it isn’t expressed explicitly in the Word?

            I’m not trying to say that polygamy or homosexuality are okay. I just wish someone could explain this to me, b/c I can’t seem to reconcile what seems like inconsistencies to me.

            • Kevin


              I don’t have much time, but I’ll briefly answer with this, there are differences between descriptive (thus and thus happened) and prescriptive (you should do _____, not do _____).

              In Genesis 1 and 2 we have a rare moment of a text being both descriptive and prescriptive. Why or how? While the text is describing events of creation and the earliest of days, there is also no sin nor contrary will, therefore what is being described could also said to be what is being prescribed. Namely, Genesis 1:28–30 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

              BUT ALSO,

              Genesis 2:24-25 “24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

              Two things to note: God gave a command to multiply over the entire earth, but yet gave Adam only one wife. Second, it is emphasized that these 2 become 1 flesh (and not fleshes…there is no thought mentioned of multiples.)

              Therefore, to deviate from God’s created structure should be assumed to be sin.

              Now, why did God allow polygamy for a time? I’m not God, so I won’t answer definitively. But many times, Genesis 50:20 (where Joseph is speaking to his brothers) can be a helpful verse: “20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” God is sovereign, providential, and good even over treacherous or sinful actions…but people are still sinful, wrong, and accountable for not loving God and living in accordance with his will.

              Moreso, there a many “descriptive” areas in the bible that have very strong suggestions of monogamy. By observance, Abraham and Sarah…did Abraham sleeping with Hagar bring peace or disruption? Rachael and Leah…competition or tranquility?

              Deuteronomy 17:14–20 warns kings against many wives in “17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.” Although not a clear command for monogamy, it is heavily suggestive. And what happens with Solomon later on? 1 Kings 11:3–4 “3 He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300 concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. 4 For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.”

              I pray that my responses has been helpful in some way.

              In Christ alone.

    • Keith

      As far as I know, the New Testament is arguably neutral on polygamy; the NT certainly never unambiguously disallows polygamy.

      At the beginning of Christianity, interestingly enough, polygamy was allowed among the Jews, but disallowed by the Romans.

      • pete

        To several commentators, Lois, Keith, et al: Re: polygamy, don’t forget Titus 1:6, “…husbands of one wife,..” and 1 Timothy 3:2, where Paul is speaking of the qualifications of an elder. Also, Jesus and Paul speak of remarriage only after death (or abandonment) of a spouse!

        • Keith

          Titus 1:6 is explicitly directed toward elders, as is 1 Timothy 3:2. An additional requirement in Titus 1:6 is the children must be believers, that makes it obvious this restriction doesn’t necessarily apply to non-elders of the church. (Hey! That’s a great question: should a church fire their pastor if one of the pastor’s children doesn’t believe?)

          With respect to Jesus/Paul, you don’t cite verses, but as far as I know, Jesus never says anything explicit against polygamy. If you’re referring to Matthew 19:9 (Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11), Jesus does not mention polygamy — the verse can equally be read to refer to divorcing one of multiple wives as well as to divorcing one’s only wife.

          • lyn

            But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. –
            1 Cor. 7:2 The word ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are singular here

            “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:These are the things which defile a man.” Matthew 15:19 These words spoken by the Lord Jesus cover all sexual sin outside of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman {Gen. 2:24, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’}. The definition for the word ‘fornications’ by Thayer’s Greek Definitions is ‘ illicit sexual intercourse, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.’Nowhere does the Bible condone polygamy, nor is it commanded by God as acceptable.

            You might want to read this –

            • Keith

              Hi, Lyn. The counter-arguments are:

              First, Corinthians was written to a specific church to address specific issues, and unless the Corinthians were polygamous, there’s no reason for Paul to mention polygamy at all.

              Second, the context of the verse is sexual immorality, that is, a man/woman should have a wife/husband in order to avoid immorality, and so the question being answered is if you should have a wife/husband at all, not if it’s OK to have more than one wife/husband.

              Third, the Greek word for “own” in this text is different for men and women, and it’s arguable the particular word used for “own” for men allows more than one wife.

              I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m not saying you’re right: the Bible lacks clarity on the issue.

              When you say “nowhere does the Bible condone polygamy”, I think you’re wrong.

              The most obvious case of which I’m aware is 2 Samuel 12: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.”

              God not only gives multiple wives to David, he indicates that he would have given more.

              Even if God was not referring to giving multiple wives to David, we are told in 1 Kings “Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”

              There’s no way to argue David’s multiple wives were not “condoned” by God.

          • Rick Owen


            A Christian polygamist view I read years ago about the qualifications for elders and deacons involving only one wife suggested that men with more wives would be too busy to serve as an elder or deacon. Do you agree with this? Do you believe polygamy is a valid practice for Christians today?

            • lyn

              Just because David had multiple wives, and others in the Old Testament, does not mean God condoned this sin. The covenant of marriage established by God in Genesis 2:24 clearly states a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, it does not state ‘wives’.

              The verse from 2 Samuel is always used as a proof text for God condoning polygamy, however, commentary from John Gill states “though we read of no more than one that belonged to Saul, if he is meant by his master, excepting Rizpah his concubine, nor ever of David taking them into his bosom and bed; wherefore this can be understood only of his having them at his disposal, to give them to whom he pleased; the word may be rendered his “women”, as well as his “wives”, and may design his daughters, Merab and Michal, who were both given to David, though taken again and given to others”.

            • Keith

              I have never been polygamous, an elder or a deacon, so I don’t have an opinion from actual knowledge — I’m the wrong person to ask. :-)

              The reason I posted was the assumption the Bible is anti-polygamy.

              The Bible isn’t anti-polygamy any more than it’s anti-slavery, and it takes careful verse choice and parsing of language to argue it is. I think we’d all be better off to agree the Bible often lacks clarity on moral issues, and perhaps the creator of the universe cares less about our genitalia than we think.

            • Keith

              Lyn, I’ve heard that same argument, and I agree, it’s a possible reading of the text. I think it’s a stretch (and other commentators disagree with Gill), but it’s possible.

              But when you say God doesn’t condone polygamy I can’t follow your reasoning.

              As you noted in your comment, many Old Testament figures had multiple wives. Wikipedia gives us a helpful list: “Many of the Old Testament Prophets and Patriarchs had multiple wives, including Lamech, Abraham, Jacob, Esau, Gideon, Saul, David, Solomon, Rehoboam, Elkanah, Ashur, Abijah and Jehoiada. Some interpretations also suggest Moses had a second wife in Tharbis. Other polygamists identified in the Bible include Ahab, Ahasuerus, Ashur, Belshazzar, Benhadad, Caleb, Eliphaz, Ezra, Jehoiachin, Jehoram, Jerahmeel, Joash, Machir, Manasseh, Mered, Nahor, Simeon, and Zedekiah.”

              The Bible tells us these men are godly, upright and favored, without mentioning anything about their polygamy.

              God gives the Jews explicit rules about sexual immorality throughout the Old Testament, but says not a word against polygamy.

              When you’re reduced to parsing verses to find places where the Bible says wife “singular” to support your argument, yet Leviticus takes the time to outlaw mixed fabrics, well, it’s hard to believe God cared much about polygamy.

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  • Josh Presley

    Can we print this and hand it out at our church?

    • Matt Smethurst

      Of course. Please just indicate the original author and source.

  • Rick Owen

    Wow — great article! Humble perspective and the right focus on denying ourselves and following Christ as Lord.

    As this article mentions in a general way, same-sex behavior is not the only sinful perversion which the Bible addresses and which should be forsaken in following Christ in holiness and love. Other sexual sins include sexual lust (desiring, pursuing or fantasizing about someone you are not married to), sexual selfishness or sexual deprivation (two extremes even in marriage which are wrong), lewdness, pornography, prostitution, rape, sadistic behavior (e.g., bondage, torture), incest, fornication, adultery, pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia.

    These practices appear quite ‘natural’ to some; therefore, many attempt to justify them on this basis. But Romans 3:9-18 spells out the truth: our fallen hearts are “under sin” — that is, under sin’s power and control to do many naturally-sinful things which reveal “There is no fear of God [reverance and love for God] before their eyes” (v. 18, ESV). Only Christ, His truth and His Spirit living within us can set us free from such bondage and despair.

    “He who loves Jesus consecrates to Him all that he has, and feels it a delight that he may lay anything at the feet of Him who laid down his life for us.” – C. H. Spurgeon

  • Josh Hill

    Hey Sam,

    As Christians, we now understand that following Jesus, dying to self, making our lives about Him, and giving Him glory really is what we were made for. It has always been a challenge to articulate this to someone, especially to some of my gay friends. I can’t imagine some of the internal struggles you’ve had to deal with in your life, but I praise God for them and thank Him that they have only deepened your knowledge of our wonderful Savior! I praise Him that it has given you a point of understanding to witness. As a straight man who has no idea what this struggle is like, I’m not sure saying the same things that you have said will necessarily fly with my gay friends. I know they will come back with something to the effect of me having no idea what it is like to deal with that. As I speak about this with my friends, how do I deal with this difference in struggle?


    • Rick Owen

      Hi Josh Hill,

      Not sure if this will help, but I suppose we can still identify with temptations we might not experience. We don’t necessarily have to struggle with addiction to substances (alcohol, drugs, food), or a violent temper, or pride in holding a position of great power or influence to empathize with others who do. We can still say, “Hey, I have my temptations too. It’s not easy, but here’s what I’m learning about how to deal with them.”

      • Josh Hill

        Good stuff. Thanks for the thoughts Rick!

        • Anthony

          You’re wasting your time. Trying to change a gay person from gay to straight is like trying to make a left handed person write with their right hand, you will only make things worse. Do yourself a favor and leave your gay friends alone.

          • Tom

            Neither this article nor, from what I can see, Josh’s comment was about changing “orientation” but about receiving the Gospel as someone who experiences same sex attraction and might be in a same sex relationship. The Gospel calls us to a life where we do say “no” to desires we have, very deep desires. If I believed it was harmful to say “no” to desires one has I wouldn’t be share the Gospel with anyone.

            For me personally this saying “no” means saying not following my attraction to some members of the same sex, among other things. But any demand the Gospel makes on me is matched by the resources to begin to obey and not merely abstain from sin but live positively and fruitfully, finding that whatever I give up for Jesus is far outweighed by what He gives me.

            • lyn

              May I suggest we not use worldly terminology when it comes to sin? ‘Orientation’, ‘same sex attraction’ are terms the world uses to soften the blow. Homosexuality is a sin, period. It is not an orientation, nor is it some sort of attraction the homosexual cannot help. Homosexuals are driven by a forbidden desire for the same sex; known as lust. This stems from depraved minds that have suppressed the truth. As a former lesbian saved by God’s grace, I know what fueled my perversion, my own wicked heart. I invite you to read my post on orientation –

            • Tom

              Hi Lyn, thanks for seeking to keep me faithful in the way I talk about homosexuality. I agree that it is very easy to stop short of the language of sin and simply talk about our “struggles”. “Orientation” is the word used in non-Christian discourse- though I believe “Same Sex Attraction” is a Christian coinage- and I am aware it can be used unhelpfully, in particular to say that it would be wrong for one to deny one’s desires because it is who one is. My main reason for using it is because it is the kind of language people are using. Nevertheless I think there is still a distinction we need to make between the temptation and the sin. People are sexually tempted in different ways but sexual temptation does not equal lust; rather, as I understand it, lust is the entertaining and thinking upon that temptation. I think the distinction is important because Christ was tempted in every way, and yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15); whatever temptation I face He does not stand aloof, but rather alongside me having suffered when tempted. It’s all part of Him sharing in our frail humanity. But this doesn’t soften our sense of the seriousness of sin or the urgency to fight it; rather it energises, as He stood firm when tempted and can enable His people to stand to. Whether or not this particular temptation goes away this side of of the future resurrection, He’s alongside me in the fight.

            • Abe W

              Orientation is a fact of life. We are all born with an orientation. It’s something that is neither a sin nor a choice and it should be celebrated because it is a gift of God. It is what God has given us. It’s a bit like left handedness. To “reject” or “change” one’s orientation is like saying to God that He’s made a mistake, now that is a sin. It’s not a sin to have a gay orientation but the sin we should be fighting against is promisuity and sexual addition. It is also worthy to note that nowhere in the Bible does it mention about same sex relationships, and this is something that I disagree with the author of this article, because we have to read scripture in cultrual contexts. When those famous six verses in the scripture prohibiting same sex acts were written, the bibical authors knew nothing about orientation. Homosexuality at that point in time just cannot be compared to the same sex relationships as we understand it today.

  • Carmen

    You’ve managed to approach this matter with so much grace! In fact, it’s the most considerate article I have read (so far) regarding homosexuality. Hats off, Mr. Allberry.

  • Lyndsey SImpson

    Thankyou Sam for this very helpful article.

  • Anna

    What a beautiful example of speaking truth in love. I wish everyone could read this, as an example of how to truly love and speak truth to homosexuals (and anyone else for that matter).

    For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life for ALL who believe. Christ’s definition and standard of sin and holiness are the same for ALL men. And His covering of sin, mercy, love, blessing and grace (in this life and eternally) are the same for ALL who repent and believe. This truth is Universal, not a respecter of sexuality, nor any other ‘category’ of sin. Thank you for your beautiful, bold testimony of God’s love and grace.

  • Ronnie

    So say you were having lunch with a married non-believer, and he’s interested in the gospel, but has made it openly clear that he and his wife intended to remain deliberately childless for the rest of their lives: no children biologically, adoptive, or other.

    Tell me, would this violation of God’s design be any different of a sin than homosexuality?

    I bring this up because I grow so tired of the gay issue, and yet evangelical Christians have plenty of other sexuality-related taboos like this one (e.g birth control bill abortifacent, etc) that get no where near the same level of attention as homosexuality, which lately seems to be THE carnal sin amongst evangelicals…

    • Karen Butler


      If we are Christians, our bodies are not our own, they have been bought with a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Fornication, (and we can safely include homosexual sex in that category) is a unique sin against the Lord’s body. It is clearly different than a choice a Christian makes to be childless, and since there is much debate in the modern church whether that is even a sin,it is best left up to the conscience of the believer.

      Phil Johnson wrote the simplest, most helpful explanation I’ve read so far about fornication’s unique sin against the body, “Why Fornication is Peculiarly Evil” here:

      There is some good advice in that blog concerning cultural assimilation and its dangers — some cautions for those of us who would say addressing fornication/homosexuality is not in the range of our priorities, for example:

      “Paul wasn’t impressed with how sophisticated and missional the Corinthians were. In fact (this can hardly be stressed enough) Paul never encouraged the Corinthians to blend into their culture by adopting an easygoing familiarity with or an extra-tolerant attitude toward the distinctive sins of that culture.”

  • Jeff Rickel

    I guess I question the “What’s in it for me” mentality of Christianity. I wonder if sin is choosing pleasing and serving self over pleasing and serving God even if it is done in a church enviornment. I admit I was primarily focused on self when I became a Christian, and often choose to remain in the faith because I could see I was better of in it than out of it. But I kept meeting “Christians” who never thought of themselves but only God, his purposes and character and how their lives and service could please and glorify him. There are examples, commands, and verses in the Bible which seem to support this.

  • Peter

    In all due respect, I am a happy and proud gay man and I know intuitively that this is the exact person I am supposed to be in our current age. I do not need a Bible (as inspirational as some parts like “love thy neighbor” may be) to instruct me on how to be a moral person. There are many “moral” ideologies from antiquity that I don’t care to practice, like, slavery, sexism, polygamy, homophobia, and ethnic cleansing. I used to be a fundamentalist Christian, but, views like the one in this article finally were more than I could bear. I realized that I am a great and loving person, and, I don’t need a Bible to teach me how to be one. In fact, the Bible is more of a hindrance to me in terms of my own morality. Homosexuality wasn’t my main bone of contention with Christianity however. It was the New Testament doctrine of hell introduced by Jesus. My mind can not weld the existence of hell with an all loving God.

    • Rick Owen


      You wrote that your main bone of contention with Christianity was the idea of hell — something you cannot reconcile with an “all loving God.”

      What do you mean by “all loving God”? A God who is primarily “love”? Or a God who is only “love”? Or a God who loves all people to the same degree or in the same ways?

      Thanks for clarifying.


    • The Bible is true

      Matthew 7:6

    • Luis Betancourt

      The wrong question is “Why an all loving God sends people to hell”? The right question should be “Why people choose hell instead of an all loving God?”

  • Sarah

    Dear Sam, bless you for writing this. I do not struggle with same sex attraction but I am moved to tears over the tenderness with which you have addressed both your struggle and our Savior’s worthiness. I also appreciate the opportunity to have an answer should I ever be part of a similar conversation. Thank you for your vulnerability. I pray God’s blessings will be magnified to you even more and look forward to meeting you one day in Heaven.

  • Sara

    First off, I think this is the best article I’ve read concerning homosexuality and God’s Word! It is honest, biblical and inspiring. I thank you, Sam, for your candidness and for holding strong to Christ in the midst of your struggles.

    But secondly (and I could be way off here), I wonder about a certain phrase you said, “If the costs are great, the rewards are even greater, even in this life,” in light of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.” Perhaps I do not understand the context of 1 Corinthians 15 well enough?

  • Amber J

    I get tired of the constant focus on gay people as the problem, when adulterers and divorcees seem to always be given a pass. Even fornication is mentioned dozens of times in the Bible, and yet most Christians I know under the age of 40 no longer consider premarital sex a sin. People talk about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah but sem to think that casual sex is no big deal.

    I also am saddened by the often cruel and vicious language that some so-called “Christians” use (especially in the safety of anonymity online) to insult gay people and the gay lifestyle, telling vulgar jokes or celebrating their descent into hell. What kind of Christian can be so mean? What kind of Christian celebrates the damnation of others?

    • The Bible is true

      Because God considers homosexuality an especially grievous sin:

      Leviticus 18:22.

      “..yet most Christians I know under the age of 40 no longer consider premarital sex a sin. People talk about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah but seem to think that casual sex is no big deal.” Perhaps you should have more conversations with you “Christian” friends because most every pastor still speak on the sin and problems associated with premarital sex.

      However the reason homosexuality is so emphasized is because there’s no open and aggressive movement (YET!) to call something not a sin that is. I don’t see any “Adulterer’s Pride” parades or adulterers glamorized on TV or in movies the way the “nice gay” friend of the female lead is.

      There are no cases sitting before the Supreme Court preparing to legalize polygamy or companies offering benefits to mistresses. The gay lobby pushes this battle therefore it is intense and emotional and Christians have to stand their ground and like war sometimes say and do things they might regret later.

      • Amber J

        I’m sorry, but you can’t quote one “abomination” in Leviticus without quoting EVERY abomination in Leviticus, including eating shellfish and wearing synthetic fibers. You can’t dispute I Corinthians, but Leviticus does not determine Christian Law.

    • Dawn

      @Amber J.

      i think the foucs on homosexuality is becase there is a big focus on that in today’s society.

      Also, no genuine Christian celebrates someone going to hell. Genuine Biblical Christian’s are moved with compassion for the lost, and celebrate the damnamtion of no one.

      • The Bible is true


        Exactly right. We stand up against homosexuality because we don’t want someone to go to hell the exact opposite of meanness. If we didn’t care we’d say “OK do what you want because I’m good.”

        • Scott

          The Scriptures call us to deal with sin in our lives and those within the Church. As far as the lost, we are called to bring them the Gospel, not challenge them to abstain first from the sin in which they are in bondage. The freedom from sin comes after being made new in Christ, not before. It is great error to believe the Law can save someone.

  • Dawn

    Thank you for this article. its timing is amazing….

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  • Joe_S

    Of course, the elephant in the evangelical room is divorce and remarriage. Far too many Bible believing Christians ignore Matthew 19:9. It is no more difficult for a straight man “who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality” to remain single for the rest of his life than it is for gay man.

    • The Bible is true


      “Far too many Bible believing Christians ignore Matthew 19:9.”

      Is there a survey or other evidence supporting this?

      • Joe_S

        Why do you ask about surveys? Why not just preach Matthew 19:9?

        Oh, that doesn’t happen in ‘evangelical’ churches.

        I’m not suggesting we ignore/downplay the sin of sex outside of marriage. Like the author of this article, I am a gay man who is single because I believe “Jesus is always worth it”.

    • Gilda

      Excellent point, Joe S.

  • Dawn

    The divorce rates among Christians are pretty much the same as among non-Christians. Christians sin, we stuff up, and we do the wrong thing. Unfortunately pride and hipocracy are very closely linked. So we dont admit that we sin and are in need of the Grace of God, that Christians still need the gospel.

    I think the problem is that we foucs on the sins of others, and dont admit or repent of our own. We dont admit that we get things wrong. We forget the part where Jesus says take the log out of your own eye.

    what is needed is humble acknowledgement of our own sin, and our own failings. The world needs to see that we are sinners saved by grace, not people who earn our righteousness through good deeds.

    above all, we need to remember that gospel is for al, and that all need the gosepl, incluidng Christians.

    • Kristie Kiessling (@KrisKiessling)

      Well said, Dawn. I was just thinking that there are only two kinds of people in the world: Sinners and sinners who have been saved by grace. The sin makes no difference. The Gospel is, by definition, good news to ALL. We are all made in the image of God and by grace we’re saved, through faith and that not of ourselves, but it’s God’s gift – through Christ!- so that none of us can boast.

      If he has saved me and not my friend, it isn’t because of me but because of Him. I can present the gospel and explain it and love my friend, no matter what my sin or my friend’s sin, but I cannot make him know Jesus. Only Jesus can do that. My job is to present the gospel and to love my friend as I love myself. I am not called to condemn my neighbor, but to present the bread of life, the living water. And over and over I need to hear that good news spoken again so I remember Who saved me and Who it is that saves others.

  • Peter

    Hey Sam,

    It’s an important thing to touch in this often neglected subject by our churches. A great deal of our congregations simply ignore this issue. How many times we hear anything about this in the pulpit? This is why people do not feel confortable in speaking it out.

    Well, I know deeply what it is to struggle with homossexual desires, and even to be entangled with transexual thoughts. God had me converted almost four years ago, and my first reactions to the churche’s teachings on homossexuality were quite hesitating. I thought it was just a conservative chatter, and I wasn’t conservative at all. I had no idea what would be like to have a life with Jesus by my side, God over me and the Holy Spirit within me.

    I got really anxious about my desires, didn’t know how to handle them, had nobody to help me, no one I trusted to open up myself with, nothing. So I went to the books on the subject. I made some research, I tried to legitimate my longings and ease down my soul. But the outcome was quite the opposite.

    I still remember the day my life changed forever. I was doing some internet research on homossexual christians, and my anxiety was subduing me.. So I just couldn’t hold my desperation tears, and I begged for God to deal with this for my, beacause it was way bigger than me, and I couldn’t handle that sort of trouble..

    And so I left it.. and God has done a marvelous miracle in my life. One of the blessings I couldn’t find in your post is the cure God may render to us. And He can, Sam! God has totally changed me, and I barely struggle with my past desires anymore. Day by day the Holy Spirit is rendering holiness to my soul. And that IS his promise: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
    (Philippians 1:6 ESV).

    Recently, God has enormously blessed me with an undescribably holy, loving, amazing and everchanging three months relationship with a woman. And he has showed me that it is possible to be fully healed. My God is an amazing God. He is… and I’ve been praying since the minute I got up today for an opportunity to share the incredible love of God in my life. And by the end of the day he has given me this chance. Praise be to the Lord of the universe and of our hearts!

    And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    (Mark 2:17 ESV)


  • Mark Donaldson

    The Elephant In The Room.

    I celebrate the believers are coming to grips with the issue of homosexuality as a whole; how Paul admonishes us to speak the truth in love. I’m painting with a real broad brush, but I feel many believers have confronted this issue in love, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit has resulted in acerbic responses from gays.I don’t see any way to avoid that, really. Other less mature brethren have made disparaging comments about/toward gays. That is beyond dispute.

    But I appreciated the comments about divorce/remarriage. I thought my marriage would last forever. It didn’t. But I can’t get past Jesus’ comments about remarriage. At the time, not remarrying seemed unthinkable. But now, 15 years later, not so much. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, but there are consequences. At this stage of my life, I desire to be pleasing to God. I believe God has forgiven me (and my ex) for our divorce. But it has caused me to really examine myself. If it is God’s will I never remarry, let alone date again, so be it. I kiss the rod and put my hand over my mouth and say, may God be praised. Christ did say, “not everyone can receive this saying…” and I’m not completely sure what that means, and remarriage, in this context, is a forgivable sin, as is homosexuality, but to willfully sin (by remarrying) is a problem for me.

    But main issue here with divorcees and gays, is TO speak the truth, but speak it in love. God IS merciful and will abundantly pardon, but He is also just. Just one brother’s thoughts.


    • Caye

      This is a question I wonder about also, Mark. How is it that homosexuals, like the person mentioned in the article, are expected to leave a long-standing, (presumably) monogamous relationship to follow Christ, yet our churches are filled with people involved in sexual immorality (second marriage is adultery) who are never asked to leave that relationship to follow Christ? You state that remarriage is a forgivable sin, as is homosexuality. Agreed. So why can the sinner in an adulterous relationship stay in that relationship and the person in the homosexual relationship cannot? This is a double standard–obviously ours, not Christ’s. How can we, as a church, teach this double standard and expect homosexuals to listen to the words of the Gospel?

      • Sara

        I think there are two big points that you are not thinking about. One, homosexuality is different from heterosexual sin in that it is NOT natural. While heterosexual relationships can be God-honoring in the right context (God-ordained marriage), there is no time in which homosexuality is okay by God’s standards. It is a perversion of what God has created for male and female. Romans 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.” This is a huge difference in mindset than Paul’s recommendation for a man who sinfully lusts after a woman: “But if they do not have self-control, let them get married. For it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.” (1 Corinthians 7:9). So, really, there cannot be a

        A second major point it seems you have overlooked is that it is generally agreed upon that it is biblically okay to divorce and remarry if the grounds have been adultery (based on Matthew 5:29 which states, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery”). Obviously, this is not always the case, but in many, many of actual Christian divorcees I know this is the case.

      • Sara

        I think there are two big points that you are not thinking about. One, homosexuality is different from heterosexual sin in that it is NOT natural. While heterosexual relationships can be God-honoring in the right context (God-ordained marriage), there is no time in which homosexuality is okay by God’s standards. It is a perversion of what God has created for male and female. Romans 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done.” This is a huge difference in mindset than Paul’s recommendation for a man who sinfully lusts after a woman: “But if they do not have self-control, let them get married. For it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.” (1 Corinthians 7:9). So, really, there cannot be a one-to-one comparison between sinful homosexual relationships and sinful heterosexual ones.

        A second major point it seems you have overlooked is that it is generally agreed upon that it is biblically okay to divorce and remarry if the grounds have been adultery (based on Matthew 5:29 which states, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery”). Obviously, this is not always the case, but in many, many of actual Christian divorcees I know this is the case.

        • Caye

          I do not agree with either of your statements, but that is the beauty of opinions! I believe that sin is sin, none is worse than another, except of course the unforgivable sin of denying Christ.
          I also disagree that most Christian marriages that end in divorce are because of infidelity. All of the divorced Christian couples I know divorced for selfishness or a lack of commitment. Of course, often the one divorcing were searching for a better relationship, but not because of unfaithfulness on the part of their spouse.
          It is all a symptom of our separation from God’s plan.

    • Joe_S

      All truly regenerate Christians will listen to the words of the Gospel. Whatever sin they have to turn their back on – they will do it.

      The problem is that Protestant churches (Catholic teaching is more consistent) have made a mess of preaching sexual sin. Protestants will preach sexual purity to the young and “speak Truth in love” to gay people – but neither of these groups are a major source of income for ‘successful’ churches. With numbers falling in every sector of the ‘Christian market’ it is unlikely that any high-profile pastor will now start admonishing church members in the 30 – 50 age bracket for their worldliness (other than for private sins such as looking at pornography).

      This double standard will lead to one of two results. Evangelicals give up pointing ‘hypocritical’ fingers at gay people and apply a humanistic standard to all relationships – if it’s loving/consensual, it’s OK. Or there is new awakening where x2 x3 remarried heterosexuals are held to the same Biblical standard as gay people.

  • Chris

    Is it ever Bad News?

  • Christina

    Beautifully written. Your sincerity is greatly appreciated. God bless.

  • Craig D. Greatman

    The entire realm of sexuality has been dangerously overstated in both religious and psychological contexts in America, if not globally, particularly over the last 60-70 years. We usually end up discussing the issues as if we have subconsciously bought into the idea that we are “sexual beings” from birth, (the whole Freudian/Kinsey Report context that brought deep wounds to our country). These are broad generalizations, I know, and I have limited time to comment here. However, my own work in counseling/pastoral/recovery ministry over the past 15 years has shown me that we (even or maybe especially Christians) have a maligned perspective on sexuality, minimizing and/or ignoring the intention of definitive spiritual immediacy through our “knowing” one another as expressed in Genesis. Sex as a pleasure principle, has been an overly exalted ancillary benefit distinct from our knowing one another in an unique and exceptional way. Our discussions on sexuality sometimes seem to ignore a primary, if significant, point regarding God’s blessed wiring of His creation. Our sexuality has been hijacked, I believe by Satan and his minnions, and we’ve failed to realize his method of reducing sex to an issue that is somehow outside or beyond us, through science and psychology. This is something we will never be able to take back. We lost immediacy at the fall, and have been chasing it ever since. Discussing our sexual “preferences” or predelictions as if they are distinct from or an aspect of our spiritual essence as new creatures in Christ is part of the problem. It is an inaccurate expression of who we are as a whole. Sex (knowing) is a divinely ordained method for spiritual intimacy similar to prayer in what it brings to our marriages. Sexuality as an option for whosoever desires is both a linguistic and spiritual misappropriation of the term.
    All this is to say thanks to Sam Allberry for his candor here, and to all who have taken part in this discussion. I am praying that God will help us all to have a spiritually holistic and holy view of sexuality.

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  • Aaron Schroeder-Tabah

    Thank you for your candor mr Allbery. Over the past few months, my wife and I have been reflecting on the scorn and/ or contempt with which we had been treating some family members… It was almost always hidden behind a veil of hypocritical holiness. Sometimes it was secretly cultivated behind people’s backs.

    God’s spotlight came upon us and he’s been slowly teaching us to follow him more faithfully in our relationships: especially in regards to homosexual friends and family!

    Thank you for your article which continues to remind us of the importance of making much of Christ in our lives and in other’s.

    Grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ

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  • Daryle Froese

    Thanks so much for your candor, & for proclaiming the hope that is offered in the Gospel/Way of Jesus!

  • Jessica Brammer

    Thank you for the honesty and vulnerability you portrayed. I appreciate your insight and your thought provoking words since this is something I honesty don’t think about or pray about enough. Thank you for bringing it up.


  • Brent

    Thank you for your transparency and biblical wisdom. I would love your input to pastors regarding how to counsel a teenager struggling with same sex attraction. Does one encourage “singleness” or the possibility of changing to opposite sex attraction??

  • Duncan Ribling

    I believe most gays who have a desire to “forsake” homosexual “tendencies” are sincere in their quest, but that they too often fall prey to the hypocrites in the church who would force them into a lifestyle that even they themselves would likely not find bearable. They are the Pharisees of our times. And what is “the gay lifestyle?” For me it is to get up in the morning, face the day in spite of all the people who wish I didn’t exist, do my job, pay taxes, help people in need, encourage the discouraged… So exactly what part of this “lifestyle” am I expected to part with in order to pass through the pearly gates?

  • Karen Butler

    Ah, the Good News is always bad news to any in idolatry.

    “…the main point is this: the moment you think following Jesus will be a poor deal for someone, you call Jesus a liar. Discipleship is not always easy. Leaving anything cherished behind is profoundly hard. But Jesus is always worth it.”

    Thank you, Sam for this excellent article. And for ending it with those wonderful words.

  • JohnM

    A number of commentors have drawn comparisons between how Christians view/treat homosexuality and how they view/treat adultery and/or divorce. Those comparisons are partly distractions, partly straw men, and partly make valid points.

    1. The distractions? If homosexual practice is wrong, what difference does it make that the other things are too? The sin of your neighbor on the left doesn’t make the sin of your neighbor on the right (or your own sin) any more acceptable; citing one is hardly a defense of the the other.

    2. The straw man? In talking about homosexuality it’s not as if anyone is condoning any other sin. I’m not aware of any church that condones adultery. I’m personally aware of instances where people have been suspended from participation, or outright kicked out of churches for heterosexual adultery. I’ve never ever heard any Pastor, or other Christian, say it is okay. I’ve heard plenty of sermons warning against it. Further, even in society outside the church there is still some level of understanding that adultery is wrong. People still occasionally get into hot water for it. To my knowledge there are no “adulterer pride” events, no bills in any legislature concerned with protecting adultery.

    3. The partly valid point? When it comes to divorce Christians seem to have pretty much decided to go with the flow. That’s wrong. Even there though I would point out that a. In scripture we see God does make some allowance for divorce (and yes, we wrongly go far beyond that allowance) but none whatsoever for homosexual practice, and b. See point 1. above, concerning distractions.

    • Joe_S

      None of the comparisons feel like distractions or straw man arguments if, like the author of this article, you are a Christian who is held to exacting standards when everyone else “goes with the flow”.

      Going with the flow and going far beyond the allowance (for divorce) has to end. Pastors need to address the issue.

      • JohnM

        Joe_S, I’m not quite sure what you mean by “feel like”, but our feelings do not determine whether the thing is so or not. The point is, churches and pastors most assuredly do not turn a blind eye to all sins except homosexual practice.

        Now when you say “Going with the flow and going far beyond the allowance (for divorce) has to end. Pastors need to address the issue.”, I agree with you. But even if they don’t that doesn’t make any other wrong any more right.

  • Living Free

    thank you for sharing. I am saddened that you still struggle with this in your life. Jesus set me free 13years ago. I do not share the same struggles you do. in fact, it’s more like the feeling of a past life, but nothing of the here and now. Jesus delivered me of that spirit and I live free to be the woman I was made to be. I now know my true identity in Christ. I am lovin life. I believe God wants to set you free from your on going struggles and he can, brother!

  • Lisa

    The flaw in the logic to me is the idea that believers must continue to struggle with sin all their life in their pursuit of Jesus. What of the scripture that says, “he whom the son sets free is free indeed.” I believe this includes any sin we can think of. I also think we cannot compare Paul’s thorn in the flesh as that does not describe a sin problem, but rather messengers of Satan who stirred up trouble wherever Paul went to preach. Ultimately sin is sin. If we come to Jesus as we are, he will make us new and cleanse all unrighteousness. We need to stop qualifying things and trying to make one sin worse than another. Sin is sin, and Jesus blood has set us free from it. If we keep feeling there is no hope, or that God lacks the power to set us free, then we will fall short of the freedom that is in Christ.

    • Living Free

      Lisa, fully agree. Check my post before yours. People who have struggled with gay tendencies CAN become fully free in Christ. I have!!

    • lyn

      You have said exactly what I thought, if someone continues to struggle with sexual sin, then perhaps there’s a reason; after all, Christ does indeed set us free from the bondage of sin.

      I found a few things wrong with this post, for one, Jesus seems to be offered as a ‘better alternative’ to homosexuality. This is why the author was backed into a corner, why should his homosexual friend leave his partner to follow Christ? Quoting Mark 10:28-30 seems to miss the point of why this homosexual should leave his partner, as if the truths found in those verses mean anything to an unregenerate. Here lies the problem with this presentation; dead in sin sinners cannot just up and leave sin, they are in bondage to it; nor do they desire to leave. The ‘deal’ given to this man proves my point. Sinners are commanded to repent and believe, but apart from Divine intervention and regeneration, they will not do so.
      This sinner needs to hear of his horrendous crimes against a holy God, and the damnation he will face because his sins are against God, who is holy and righteous. This presentation doesn’t show him his need for a Savior, he doesn’t clearly see just how wicked he is or how hopeless his situation is. He doesn’t understand the atoning work by Christ for sin, how salvation is wrought by God through grace and Christ’s finished work.
      As a former lesbian saved by God’s grace, regenerated by God the Spirit and kept by His power all through Christ, I see much wrong in this post. Homosexual sin is birthed out of forbidden desires, known as lust. We desire to be with someone of the same sex, not because we ‘love’, but because we ‘lust’ after them. We only want to fill that desire, so we pursue until we conquer. I am sick of hearing how someone ‘struggles with same sex feelings’, this is ridiculous. What they struggle with is lustful desires that stem from a depraved mind, a mind that cannot reason or think right because it has suppressed biblical truth. When you tell them following Jesus means they have to give up their sins, please tell them first about their sins, who they sin against and what it will cost them!

      • lyn

        Concerning the phrase ‘struggling with sin’- I thought it necessary to share this from A. W. Pink…
        “”Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived” (1 Cor. 6:9). But multitudes are deceived, and deceived at this very point, and on this most momentous matter. God has warned men that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), but few will believe that this is true of them. Instead, tens of thousands of professing Christians are filled with a vain and presumptuous confidence that all is well with them. They delude themselves with hopes of mercy while continuing to live in a course of self-will and self-pleasing. They fancy they are fitted for Heaven, while every day that passes finds them the more prepared for Hell. It is written of the Lord Jesus that “He shall save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21), and not in their sins: save them not only from the penalty, but also from the power and pollution of sin.” From ‘Regeneration or the new birth’ available to read at

  • Amanda Cross

    Lisa, this is exactly what I was thinking, but I just did not know how to say it. I have struggled for a good portion of my life with anxiety, fear, and panic attacks. I started learning last year to diligently go to scripture to counter my negative anxious thinking. Jesus never meant for a believer to only be free in practice, but not free in spirit. Yes, there will be times when fear and anxious thinking will come knocking on my heart’s door again, but I am not without God’s power and strength. He has given me His Holy Spirit dwelling within and He has give me His Word. I have to preach to myself what is true. Jesus was also tempted in all points that we are, yet He did not sin. After Jesus spoke the truth, the devil left Him for a season. The Bible only speaks of another time when He may have been tempted again and that was in the Garden of Gethsemane. It doesn’t say He was being tempted, but from the difficulties He was having, I would say He was. I’m sure He was tempted in between those times as well, but we know that He was always victorious. We are not sinless, but for the believer, we have the good seed living within that we may also overcome.

    • Living Free

      God can deliver you of those struggles. By his spirit he will.

  • Dean Bailey

    Greatly encouraging testimony, and much needed in this time! As I read some of the comments that seemed to be more critical, I thought to myself, “They just don’t get it!”

    Well, I get it! I sincerely thank you for sharing, and I encourage you to do so more often on this issue. I related to your apprehensions about doing so, but people need to know! Here’s a link to another resource on the same issue, and it’s my own story:

  • Matt P.

    But what does this hold for the young LGBT person, disowned from their family and thrown out of their church? Searching for a Jesus he can never encounter as a “lost sinner” he (all too often) commits suicide.
    What possible “good news” would leave a young person so utterly hopeless?
    Jesus indeed is greater than any worldly thing but what does this mean for the person who is abandoned and cannot see it?

    • JohnM

      Matt P., What do you mean when you say “Searching for a Jesus he can never encounter as a “lost sinner”…”?

      The gospel means hope of reconciliation with God for homosexuals as much as for anyone else, but no one who seeks that reconciliation on their own terms is going to find what they seek.

    • Dawn

      We are all lost sinnners when we encounter Jesus….. As JohnM said, the gospel is one of reconciliation for all. but its not on our own terms. Jesus gave it all for us. He calls us to repent and believe. Repentance means turning from sin and turning to Christ.

  • Tim

    Thank you for this.

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  • Chuck

    This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  • lyn


    You assume because the Bible says men had multiple wives, and that they were godly men, that means it was okay. The Bible also shows us that Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife, does that mean God condones lying? You need to understand this, even though God declared these men righteous, they did not attain a level of sinless perfection. Their polygamous ways brought trouble; for example, in the case of Abraham and Sarah, when Hagar conceived, Sarah despised her. There was great jealousy and conflict as a result; sin comes with a price.

    I think it is worth repeating, God ordained the covenant of marriage in Gen. 2:24 between a man and a woman, since God cannot go back on His own word, to say He somehow changed His mind is to make the Bible not true. God’s attributes include faithful, trustworthy, and true. What needs to be taken into account here is the sin of polygamy was practiced by men who were prone to give in to their temptations, and God should not be blamed for that, nor should one assume God was okay with it, as James 1:12, 13 clearly states, ” Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
    It is not wise to assume God would condone polygamy, we do have many texts stating the singular when referring to a husband and a wife. To state wife as meaning multiple ‘wives’ is dangerously adding to the word of God, which is forbidden. We should never claim as fact and truth something that isn’t as it concerns His holy word, for this is sin.

  • X-Gay Apologist

    Very good perspectives. I’d just like to add as a man converted from living a gay lifestyle for 15 years, that singleness is not the only option. Developing a normal sexual relationship with a woman in marriage is also very possible and fulfilling. The homosexual desire (same-sex attraction) itself must be seen as contrary to the will of God. Not that a converted homosexual will not continue to have struggles and temptations, but the desires and the acts can be channeled in God-honoring directions by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Thanks for the article!

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  • Peter

    Very helpful read. Like Hebrews says Jesus is better.

  • Claude Cunningham

    This whole conversation is remarkably free from the invective and degradation that one expects. Well done.

    Something that amazes me is that the simple truth of celibacy as the core alternative to inappropriate sexual engagement just never seems to surface. Yes it’s hard (no pun intended), but no harder than giving in and involving others in the swamp of sin, whether homo or hetero.

    John White wrote wonderfully on the whole topic in Eros Defiled many years ago – well worth reading. Pornography is a huge problem in terms of drawing people into the swamp. But the fundamental lie that seems to have taken hold is the principle that you have to have sex! No you don’t! If you did, you wouldn’t need pornography!

  • Sandra

    I’ve found this article very encouraging- but on the freed/continue to struggle with question, maybe we can’t generalise for everyone.
    There are faithful Christians who have been healed from supposedly incurable illnesses, injuries and disabilities. There are equally faithful Christians who despite genuine prayer live with their illness all their life. Paul, who is incredibly vague and generalist about the exact nature of his “thorn in the flesh” if you look at the greek words he uses, prayed earnestly three times for God to remove this “thorn”, and God effectively said “No, it’s better for you to continue your struggle.” About the only unambiguous words Paul uses in that passage are “messenger of Satan” and “sent to torment me”. So he identified it as ungodly and painful, but God said this “weakness” would show His strength all the more clearly.
    So the odd thing is, it’s great if God has released you from GLBT tendencies, but there will be equally faithful Christians out there showing God’s strength in their weakness. Hebrews 11 stuff. Some receive what God has promised in this life, others die faithfully accepting his promise and welcoming it “from a distance”.
    One thing that strikes me reading through the gospels and letters is that what we do is an indication of where our heart is. So some people have consistent temptation but by God’s strength and grace live faithfully, willing and acting according to God’s will not their ungodly desires. So some desires run deeper than others, but the same challenge on one scale or another is faced by all of us every day- and perhaps when the temptation runs really deep, the grace runs deeper still.

    • lyn


      Being healed from a disease does not compare to the desires one may have for same sex, nor does same sex lustful desires compare to the Apostle Paul’s thorn. If you believe God would allow someone to have lustful thoughts so He can give more grace, I would suggest you read James 1:13,14.
      Also, if someone entertains the thoughts of same sex activity, this is in direct violation of what Christ says in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
      Sexual sin does happen, but it should never be ongoing, nor should it be a struggle to avoid this sin. A good book to read is 1 John concerning willful sin.
      As for having lustful thoughts concerning sex with someone, whether it be the same or opposite sex, Christ states ” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:28. Here is commentary on this text from Matthew Henry, “We are here taught, that there is such a thing as heart-adultery, adulterous thoughts and dispositions, which never proceed to the act of adultery or fornication; and perhaps the defilement which these give to the soul, that is here so clearly asserted, was not only included in the seventh commandment, but was signified and intended in many of those ceremonial pollutions under the law, for which they were to wash their clothes, and bathe their flesh in water. Whosoever looketh on a woman (not only another man’s wife, as some would have it, but any woman), to lust after her, has committed adultery with her in his heart, Mat_5:28. This command forbids not only the acts of fornication and adultery, but, (1.) All appetites to them, all lusting after the forbidden object; this is the beginning of the sin, lust conceiving (Jam_1:15); it is a bad step towards the sin; and where the lust is dwelt upon and approved, and the wanton desire is rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel, it is the commission of sin, as far as the heart can do it.”
      Born again believers will live a life of continual repentance, but not because they feed their thoughtlife with lustful temptations on a consistent basis. As for your term ‘GLBT tendencies’, this is worldly terminology. God calls it sin, an abomination. Let’s please define sin as it is and not attempt to lessen the severity of it. To truly love a sinner is to present biblical truth, not mixing worldly terminology with it.

      Let’s not forget this verse from 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” God provides an escape from temptation, He doesn’t leave you in it to show His strength. Let’s not forget, Almighty God detests sin, He abhors it; never would He let His elect suffer continually or be repeatedly tempted with the same besetting sin.

      • Sandra

        I think my comparison does apply. Both disease and sin are a result of fallen nature, which we will live with until Jesus return. We “do the things which we do not want to do”, because sin lives in us. Even if our “inner being..delights in God’s law, we see another law at work in the members of our bodies, waging war against the law of our minds and making us prisoners of the law of sin…” (bits of Romans 7:14ff, the whole lot’s worth reading but a bit long to quote.)

        And continuing into Ch. 8 of Romans, we all live with the tension between the sinful mind, and the mind controlled by the spirit, but have a choice/obligation to let the spirit of God be the controller of our life.

        I’ve found much of encouragement in the 1st chapter of James. which talks a lot about the importance of persevering under trial, and the reward for doing so. Also later in Ch.5;7ff he again talks about perseverance, and about Job’s faithfulness. Job himself said “He knows the way I take, and when he has tested me, I will come out as gold”. i.e. pure. Purity is impossible if we approve and/or practice sin, but not impossible under temptation, or not even Jesus would be pure (and don’t we need his purity!). And don’t we all sin at times; and so back to Romans 8, and there being no condemnation, thanks to Jesus redemption through his death and resurrection, for those who live according to the Spirit. John seems to be in agreement with Paul and James in these things.

        If we live by the spirit, we will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature (Gal. 5:16), but another serious question is when does desire lead to sin? Sexual desire is normal and good. Without it no-one would be too highly motivated to marry and have children, let alone learn the beautiful intimacy and knowledge of marriage (so much like the intimacy between Jesus and his church-bride). Some people who have never had a homosexual thought cross their mind may commit to remaining single, but still at times may feel attracted to someone of the opposite sex. Is it wrong them to enjoy the other person’s company? If they start imagining it turning into something sexual, then I think it’s turning into lust, and it’s time to pull back and get God’s forgiveness. It’s even trickier to draw the line with a couple dating with the intention of possibly marrying, because the physical attraction doesn’t just suddenly appear on the honeymoon night. It grows over time, but a person wanting sexual purity waits until the wedding night to act on their desires.
        Some homosexuals are unable to feel any attraction to the opposite sex, and if as Christians they believe that a same sex relationship cannot be defended, then celibacy is an honourable option. Doesn’t mean that desires and temptations will never come (even if they are careful to do nothing to “feed” them), does mean that like any other Christian they can trust God to help them stand through any storm (and to forgive them if they fail to do so). I’m glad God’s grace is big; never to be taken for granted, but always to be relied on.
        I’ve seen non-Christian gay/lesbian couples who have stuck with each other for many years, and through hardships such as illnesses that would have broken up many marriages, including some Christian ones. I think it’s too shallow to describe their relationships as “lust” because lust simply hasn’t got that kind of sticking power. It gives up when things get rough. I really hope Sam’s friend has the courage to believe that Jesus is better than anything else, including the love and commitment between his partner and himself, and that his partner may see the same thing.

        • lyn


          You state “I’ve seen non-Christian gay/lesbian couples who have stuck with each other for many years, and through hardships such as illnesses that would have broken up many marriages, including some Christian ones. I think it’s too shallow to describe their relationships as “lust” because lust simply hasn’t got that kind of sticking power. It gives up when things get rough. I really hope Sam’s friend has the courage to believe that Jesus is better than anything else, including the love and commitment between his partner and himself, and that his partner may see the same thing”… Here lies the problem with this, it is based on what you think, and NOT on what the Bible states. As a former lesbian, I have studied God’s word to understand my former sexual perversion. God’s word states it is birthed out of a forbidden lust, the Greek word is epithumeo. The gift of love is not given to same sex couples, it is possible only between a man and a woman. When you liken and identify this perversion as another alternative type of relationship, you stray from what the Bible states.

          As for our thoughts being sinful, remember what the Lord said in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Here He makes it clear, even our thoughts are tainted by sin. A man who looks at a woman with lustful intents in his mind is guilty of committing adultery, the same could be said of a homosexual who looks at someone and has sinful sexual thoughts about that person.

          You also said you hope Sam’s friend has the courage to believe Jesus is better- believing in Christ is not based on our courage. Salvation comes by grace, see Ephesians 2:8,9; it does not come by man’s choice, his courage, or any other man-made device.

        • lyn


          I invite you to read this post concerning homosexual love –

          I also think it’s noteworthy to point out biblical love is entirely different than lust. Is it possible for two members of the same sex to actually love one another, the same way Christ commands a husband to love his wife just as Christ loves the church? I think this is not even comparable, especially when you study Romans 1; women giving up the ‘natural’ way, meaning ‘that which is inborn’. They toss what comes natural to the wind for what is unnatural; if it be unnatural, it cannot possibly be based on true love. Just because homosexual couples stay together does not mean they know what true love is.

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  • Sandra

    So Lyn, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. I’m convinced homosexuality is wrong, but not convinced that homosexuals are therefore incapable of love. If your experience was lust and only lust, then I hope you’ve found lots of love and peace in addition to your freedom.
    My experience (and I think the Bible supports it) is that people are never wholly good or wholly evil, so we all fall short of the glory of God and need redemption, but also God will sometimes bring good through someone ungodly. (Cyrus King of Persia being chosen by God to be instrumental in rebuilding Jerusalem Is. 44:28, Book of Ezra is one of the big OT examples. Rahab the prostitute would have to be another.)

  • Sandra

    Little Greek vocabulary lesson. :)
    μετάνοια=metanoia, consistently translated as repentance.
    Meta- is the same prefix used in words like metamorphosis. It’s about change.
    Noia- closest match I can think of is the French “nous’ for mind.
    Change your mind. Turn your mind around.
    I think we’ve made a big loss in translation when we only see repentance as painful sorrow over sin-leading to change, granted; but pain and fear are not the only motivators for change, and not always the best ones.
    The man who found treasure in a field and was so excited that in his joy he sold all he had to buy it was experiencing repentance. So is Sam’s friend if he’s willing to leave the most cherished things in his life to get “a pearl of great price.”

  • lyn

    My view that homosexuals cannot love is based on what the bible says homosexuality is birthed out of, or from…lust.
    As for repentance, it is granted by God, not a choice made by man, as 2 timothy 2:25 states. Bringing a sinner to repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit, it isn’t motivated by us, but granted by God. When God regenerates, or re-births a sinner, He opens their understanding to their own wickedness. This is possible only when He quickens {Eph. 2:1,5}.

  • lyn

    I will say this, I spent nearly 20 years in bondage to the sin of lesbianism, 13 of those years were with a woman I claimed to ‘love’. We both were unfaithful on a continual basis the whole time we spent together; all the lesbian couples I befriended also were unfaithful to their partners. As I look back now, it was a continual lust feast as lesbians claimed to love and yet, were constantly sleeping around with other lesbians.
    Romans 1:26 explains this, I think, to a degree, ‘ For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature’. Natural means ‘inborn'; they exchanged what was instilled at birth the natural way, women with men, for the unnatural, women with women; this stemming from a forbidden lust. Verse 28 says ‘And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.’ Debased, or depraved, means ‘unfit, not standing the test, not approved, worthless’. How can such a mind that is unable to even reason right from wrong possibly know what love is? Actions prove whether or not our words are true, true love is giving oneself to another, being faithful and honest with that person, and respectful. I saw nothing like this in the dark world of homosexuality; remember this, homosexuals paint a picture for the outside world as that of being normal, having stable loving relationships just like heterosexuals. It’s all part of their need to force acceptance and latch onto some type of normalcy, yet, all the while they are deceived and try to push their agenda of acceptance on a society that doesn’t understand this dark abomination and its destruction to family.

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  • Morals are not based on a book

    This article makes me nauseated. I would rather go to Hell than reside in a heaven with the god described in the bible.

    • lyn

      We all would rather go to hell than follow a God who is holy, righteous, merciful, loving, trustworthy, faithful, and patient. He is everything we are not, we love our sins so much we would rather be sent to hell than part with our sins. That is why God must draw us, regenerate us, bring us to repentance, gift us with faith to believe, and gift us with eternal life.
      As for hell, it is a place of continual and never-ending torment, agony, and unbearable pain. A thousand years from now, you will still be screaming in agonizing pain…a million years from now, your screams will be just as intense. Sin seems the better choice, so enticing; because we are born sinners loving our sins, we naturally gravitate towards sin. What you fail to comprehend is the mercy of a God is is pure, separate from His creation, exalted high above it. God shows His great mercy towards undeserving sinners by sending His Son here to suffer on a cross; He bore the sins of those who believe as God poured out His wrath on His own Son. How many would sacrifice their own son for the sake of others who hate them, who mock, reject, and blatantly sin against them? I know of no one. Eternity is forever, you will never escape hell if that is indeed where you will spend eternity. All the sins you love so dearly now you will despise if you go to hell. May God, who is slow to anger, full of mercy and compassion, show favor and kindness to you. If you have food, clothing and shelter, a loving family, a job; God has already been far too kind to you, considering your hatred of Him.

      • Franny

        Hi Lyn
        I just saw a comment you made online and you said the following “As for hell, it is a place of continual and never-ending torment, agony, and unbearable pain. A thousand years from now, you will still be screaming in agonizing pain…a million years from now, your screams will be just as intense.
        To paint a picture of God who is love doing this for eternity is so blasphemous and I believe unbiblical. Do please look at the Biblical “hell” again, and perhaps keep in mind what John Stott said wrt to annihilation rather than eternal torture. “I am hesitant to have written these things, partly because I have a great respect for longstanding tradition which claims to be a true interpretation of Scripture [eternal punishment in hell], and do not lightly set it aside, and partly because the unity of the worldwide Evangelical constituency has always meant much to me . . . I do plead for frank dialogue among Evangelicals on the basis of Scripture. I also believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment”
        Satan’s biggest success has been the promulgation via the church of the image of a torturing God and the reason so many have turned away from Him.
        Blessings as you study this topic.

  • Keith

    “God has been far too kind to you”; thank you, Lyn, I wasn’t sure exactly how a moral, feeling person should react to someone’s obvious pain, your reponse was perfect.

    Of course, any parent can imagine how perfect heaven would be when one’s children are in Hell, or any brother/sister watching a sibling in Hell.

    Or any person with an ounce of morality seeing others being tortured.

    That would be heaven indeed.

  • lyn

    First of all, in Luke 16:26, the Lord states ‘And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed’. He is addressing the rich man in hell who desires Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool his tongue. It isn’t like those in heaven will be viewing those in hell, like it’s a sitcom.

    Sinners go to hell because they reject Christ and His atoning work, they go there because they love sin and will not part with it. In essence, they send themselves there. God owes all of mankind nothing, except eternal punishment; we have ALL sinned against Him repeatedly, knowingly, and flippantly. We all care nothing for His commands and instead insist we have a right to live our lives any way we want. We reject and deny His word, we rebel and are disobedient. It is only by God’s grace that any are saved, a great and awesome display of undeserved favor towards rebellious, Christ-rejecting, God-hating sinners who would rather kill God if they could than bow their knee to Him. The lack of understanding mans depravity and comprehending God’s holiness is why we feel God is unjust, unfair in His judgment of sinners. Thus, we make statements like “Of course, any parent can imagine how perfect heaven would be when one’s children are in Hell, or any brother/sister watching a sibling in Hell.” Those who God has given understanding to concerning His holiness and righteousness understand perfectly that if our children reject Christ and His Gospel, die and go to hell, God is absolutely just in His judgment against them.

  • Keith

    It may not be a sitcom, but some of the greatest leaders of your faith have been clear in their exegesis of verses like Psalms 58:10 (“The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”)

    Jonathan Edwards said: The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever… Can the believing father in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in Hell… I tell you, yea! Such will be his sense of justice that it will increase rather than diminish his bliss.

    Thomas Aquinas (probably) said: Wherefore in order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.

    Augustine: But in what way shall the good go out to see the punishment of the wicked? Are they to leave their happy abodes by a bodily movement, and proceed to the places of punishment, so as to witness the torments of the wicked in their bodily presences? Certainly not; but they shall go out by knowledge.

    Both Edwards and Aquinas thought the saved see the damned.

    It might be easy for you to say “sinners go to hell”, but it’s also fair to say little children go to hell, those who never heard the gospel go to hell, and those who lived good lives but never believed go to hell. And all will be tortured forever.

    To believe in infinite punishment for finite acts is a pretty horrific belief.

  • lyn

    To think we dwell upon the punishment of the wicked is not found in the Bible; we rejoice in God’s righteousness. As for children going to hell, we are all born sinners, depraved in our nature and God-hating. As for those who never hear the Gospel, God has made Himself known to ALL of man by and thru His creation. All have a conscience, all know right from wrong. All are without excuse.

    It’s pretty horrific to blatantly sin against a Holy and Merciful God and think you have a right to do so. Let me ask you this, if someone slaughtered all your loved ones, and you witnessed it, would you want that person brought to justice?

  • Keith

    “All have a conscience, all know right from wrong.” In other words, if I never hear the gospel, living a good life is sufficient; if I hear the gospel, then I have to confess Jesus in order to avoid being tortured forever.

    “All are born sinners.” In other words, in your belief system, an aborted fetus goes to hell? Or, dying when a few years old, you’d then endure an eternity of torture, as a child?

    If your theology is sound (and I agree with you it is), then it says something fundamental about your God.

    To note the slaughter of my loved ones would make me want justice, is an interesting point: It’s quite common for people to forgive those who have wronged them, even in horrific ways. God chooses to sadistically torture those who have wronged Him, forever. It’s an contrast in forgiveness, don’t you think?

    And no, I can’t imagine wanting someone to be tortured forever.

    It is not a moral act to applaud the torture of another human being.

  • lyn

    First of all, your line of thinking implies that God owes His created beings something, that we are entitled to eternal life. This is untrue; every person ever born hates God, the One who created them, they prove it by living a life of rebellion against Him. The reason babies, children, and all of mankind are not as wicked as they could be is because of overall restraining grace. There are many whose consciences are seared and no longer function, they are more wicked than others. In hell, you are forever separated from God, so there is no restraining grace. You are confined to hell, there is no need to restrain evil. If you could see into hell, you would see every soul there more wicked than you could imagine. If God were to remove His restraining grace on earth, a five year old would take a knife and slit your throat, an eight year old would take a revolver and blow your head off. A baby would kill you if he/she could. You have no clue how God’s mercy keeps civilization civil! You have no clue how wicked you yourself are, instead, you insist God is unmerciful and unjust in punishing wicked sinners who break His commands.
    You also have no clue that God created you, and every human being ever born; He as the Potter has a right to do as He chooses with His created beings.
    God’s judgment is just and fair, according to His word. Those who deliberately break His word day in and day out will face wrath because of their rebellion against their Maker. God owes you and I nothing except wrath, you see things from a humanistic point of view. What you fail to recognize is your own evil, what you cannot see is God’s holiness – He is pure, undefiled, set apart from His creation. Christ came to die on a cross to atone for sin. God poured out His wrath on His own Son so unworthy sinners may be reconciled back to Him and may have eternal life—how is it any deserve for God’s Son to die, how is it any deserve eternal life, for ‘all have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God’?

  • Keith

    Lyn, you live in a scary world. Of course, there is no evidence that restraining grace has any such physical effect as you describe, but I’m sure that bothers you not at all.

    Let’s try a simple thought experiment. On judgement day, God can choose to destroy every human sinner as if they never existed. Or, He can create a special place where they can be tortured forever.

    Imagine someone wronged you in ways that can’t be fixed, and you have a choice: either make them go away as if they’d never been born, or figure out a way you can physically torture them forever.

    Which would *you* choose?

    Which would be the *moral* choice?

    God poured out His wrath on His Son? Seriously. Jesus endured a nasty, ugly death (like many humans of the time), and was resurrected a couple of days later. That’s the wrath of God?

    I may not deserve eternal life, but I certainly don’t deserve an eternity of torture, either.

    • Rick Owen


      I fully empathize with the revulsion you are expressing regarding the idea of hell as conscious and eternal torment. I don’t think any idea could be more ghastly or disturbing. We SHOULD recoil from the idea of hell and find it utterly revolting. We should also recoil from our unbelief and sin just as much.

      I don’t intend to oversimplify the matter, but there are realities on a smaller scale than God and eternity which leave us dumbstruck too. Who can comprehend the nature of the most minute atomic particle so massive and dense that when it was unleashed it resulted in our present universe of complexity and diverse forces in which we live? Who can understand the origin and essence of life of any kind, much less our existence and awareness as advanced sentient beings?

      There are many mysteries which confront us regarding the world of seen and unseen realities. God and His Creation are among these. So is heaven. And so is hell.

      It seems clear that the Bible does teach the doctrine of hell which is embraced by most evangelicals. Dr. James I. Packer highlights the general lay of the land and pertinent Scriptures regarding this theological debate in a helpful way. This is a topic worthy of sober reflection.

      I still cringe when I think of hell, as I do regarding many terrible realities. But my cringing does not make any of these things (hell or otherwise) any less real. Nor does my denial of them.

      My own struggle with this ‘terrible doctrine’ — which is truly terrible indeed — has been helped by considering the following.

      • Hell is as mysterious as heaven. We think we understand the latter better than the former, but both are completely beyond our comprehension.

      • Both heaven and hell show how ‘alien’ God is to us. God’s premier characteristic and attribute is His holiness (or ‘otherliness’). He tells us that He is not like us, even though we were made in his image.

      • Since God really is so holy (different and pure) and beyond our comprehension, His nature and ways are not our ways. We might as well try cooking our dinner on the Sun as try to get our mind around God and His ways.

      • Hell tells us something about our sin which, though in one sense we know it only too well (since we do it), in another sense we remain completely oblivious to its true nature and heinous gravity.

      • Sin is an affront to a holy God. We really cannot understand what this means. We cannot comprehend the extent to which sin and God are diametrically opposed, nor how these two clash so severely, anymore than we can absorb the full nature and scale of cosmic collisions which we are told occur regularly in our universe beyond our ability to measure or fully understand them.

      • Jesus’ suffering on the Cross for His people (that is, God’s elect or all who eventually believe on Him) involved far more than physical suffering. It was divine punishment. What He endured, fulfilled and satisfied was something completely unique; something of a divine and eternal nature compressed into several hours; something that no other human could experience much less complete. His divine nature, as the Son of God, enabled Him to experience and quench the cup of God’s wrath — an eternity’s worth of wrath for His people.

      • As Dr. Packer points out in his article, hell is always presented as part of the Gospel. It is not an abstract idea that we should ever detach or debate apart from God’s offer of mercy, full forgiveness, and abundant grace through faith in Christ.

      • The greatness and bliss of what is gained through Christ — something we get only a few glimpses of in Scripture — is underscored all the more by the unending vastness and misery of what is lost through our unbelief which leads to God’s righteous judgment, holy condemnation and just punishment.

      Hell is something we should never treat flippantly — whether we accept it or reject it. Nor is heaven. Nor is Christ who came to save everyone who will turn from their sin and unbelief and trust Him and follow Him as their Lord and Savior.

    • Rick Owen


      There was one more thought I meant to share. You wrote in one of your replies above, “To believe in infinite punishment for finite acts is a pretty horrific belief.”

      This would be true if our acts were only finite. But if anything is clear from the teachings and life of Jesus, as well as the whole Bible, it is that our thoughts, words and deeds are of eternal significance and consequence.

      Here are some sobering and hopeful insights about this from a well-known and still very influential pastor who lived in the 1800’s. I hope you will make time to read and reflect on this carefully.

      • Keith

        Rick, I appreciate the thought, and the time it took you to write them. Investing your time in my life is a generous act, and I want to acknowledge that.

        I think what you’re saying is “mysterious ways”. Something might make no rational sense to a human, but that’s how God wants it. OK, you may be right: it’s certainly impossible to prove you wrong.

        I’ll make one point about your theology: in the history of Christianity, pretty much everything you can imagine was sincerely believed (or not believed) by some group of Christians, including the godhood of Jesus. For example, in the 4th century, Arius believed God made Jesus, so Jesus was subordinate to God. Athanasius believed Jesus was the same as the Father. In the First Council of Nicaea, there’s a big fight, Athanasius wins, and we get the Trinity and the first Article of Religion of the Anglican church.

        Was Athanasius right? I have no clue, and there’s certainly nothing in the Bible that’s declarative on the topic, it’s pretty easy to argue either way. If Jesus isn’t actually God Himself, it throws a pretty big wrench into the “Jesus’ suffering paid the price for all of us” argument.

        In other words, things you absolutely “know” to be true, and on which you base your theology and understanding of God, aren’t even scriptural. They’re just the end result of a lot of people making guesses and jockeying for power over the past 2,000 years.

        • Rick Owen


          However one approaches the observable, empirical world, there remains more mystery than anyone (believers and unbelievers alike) will ever resolve. Mystery infuses things with wonder and even confusion, at times, wherever we catch a glimpse of it.

          I mention this for two reasons:

          • it humbles any of us (believers and unbelievers alike) from claiming to know too much in any realm (science, religion, etc.); and
          • it encourages those of us who rely upon God and accept His ways. It is good to know that as Bible believers we are not odd or unique or ‘copping out’ by acknowledging life’s mysteries and accepting our limits in the face of them. Everyone faces this.

          Regarding the deity of Christ, Jesus’ own claims, as well as Scripture as a whole, are full of clear and consistent statements about this apart from and given a long time before councils and creeds which were later formulated in the context of controversy.

          • Keith

            The clear and consistent statements of Scripture, yes, how could I have missed that?

            So, just to clarify your conclusion: you’re saying the Christian Scientists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, oh, and not to forget, all of Islam, are just not as experienced or accurate at interpreting the Scriptures as you?

            I think Sam Harris covered this ground as well as anyone:
            “The problem, however, is that the teachings of the Bible are so muddled and self contradictory that it was possible for Christians to happily burn heretics alive for five long centuries. It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas). Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews, and witches. You are, of course, free to interpret the Bible differently–though isn’t it amazing that you have succeeded in discerning the true teachings of Christianity, while the most influential thinkers in the history of your faith failed?”

  • lyn

    Actually, I live with hope, hope of a better life, a life that is eternal.
    You live in a temporal state, this world is your hope, and it is not lasting.

    Rather than waste time on ‘what ifs’ I will stick with what is. As for being wronged, I have been. The details are none of your concern, but I can say that by God’s grace, I have forgiven them.

    You say you may not deserve eternal life, what is your basis for stating you do not deserve eternal death? It would seem you understand there is a God, He punishes those who sin against Him, He saves others according to His will. You have a basic understanding of good and evil, but you cannot bring yourself to grasp your own wickedness. What is God’s basis for wrath? Do you know?

    As for restraining grace, for proof of that, all you have to do is look at the news; shootings, murders, rape, greed, corruption. Yes, this has always been, BUT, the increase of wickedness is evidence God has pulled back His restraining grace. It is that grace that keeps your heart beating, His mercy keeps you safe up to this point. Yet, you want to deny grace and mercy, you see only a one sided God who is unjust because He judges rebellious sinners, sinners who willfully and blatantly sin against Him, who live each and every day in defiance, denying His existence and His right to sovereignly rule over His creation, His right to make laws and commands for His created beings to follow. When they refuse and shake their fists in His face, break His commands and blaspheme His Holy name, you blame Him!!! That is a pretty amazing and scary theory.
    Have you broken God’s commands? Do you do so even at this hour?

  • Keith

    Do I deserve eternal death? I’m not sure about that one, it’s less obvious.

    I’m pretty sure I don’t deserve eternal torture: I think it’s basic logic that nothing I could possibly do would “deserve” eternal torture. Even for the worst person to ever live, “eternal torture” seems unjustified.

    Even if eternal torture were justified: if it’s eternal, and there’s no possibility of redemption, why bother with torture at all? It’s just pointless.

    Am I breaking God’s commands? Yes. As I sit here, I’m wearing clothing of mixed fabrics (Leviticus and Deuteronomy), I’m going to shave later today (Leviticus), I allow my wife to live in the house and sit on chairs I use when she’s menstruating (Leviticus), I curse all the time (Ephesians), I don’t keep the Sabbath (Exodus), I lie occasionally and gossip far too much (Exodus and Leviticus).

    And that’s just off the top of my head. The list is certainly much longer because God has a bucket-load of commands.

    I’m not sure if reading what you write is sin or not: as a woman you are not permitted to teach (1 Timothy), so it’s without question a sin for you to post at all, but is it a sin if I read what you post?

  • lyn

    Your wearing of mixed fabrics is not a sin, you are taking laws that pertained to the nation Israel and trying to make them out as relevant for today. Dietary, civil and ceremonial laws found in the Old Testament were given to the nation Israel, I encourage you to read this –

    Do you use the Lord’s name in vain? Do you steal? Do you lie? Do you look at women in magazines, television or on the internet and lust after them? Do you live for yourself or for God? Do you worship God, or money and what it can buy? Do you love the Lord your God?
    Women are not allowed to teach/preach other believing men. It is clear, you are not a believer.

    • Keith

      No, I’m not buying the slicing and dicing of ceremonial vs. moral laws, or “only rules in the New Testament apply”, or “the rules about slavery were for a different culture and God didn’t mean them for us, but the rules against homosexuality were for all time and every culture”, or “women are only allowed to teach non-believing men”.

      Wait a minute.

      What was that last one?

      To re-interpret Timothy as only applying to believing men is beyond something, I’m not sure what. Just a second, let me look that up. Here it is, the KJV:

      “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. (But this only applies to believing men, because Eve was formed before the first non-believing man.)”

      So your belief is you can sit with me, Bible on your lap, teach me the good news of the gospel, show me how Jesus can save me from my sin, and the second I accept Jesus into my heart, you have to stop?

      Good grief. The mental gymnastics the religious (of all faiths) go through to get to the results they want.

      • lyn

        What you are doing is common, you are not reading the word of God in context. You try and pull verses out and make them say what they do no say. As for Timothy, who was Paul addressing? Believers! Women cannot be elders, pastors, or be in authority over other believing men as we gather to worship God. Your confusion stems from your not reading the text in context. Here is a video by Dr. John MacArthur that should bring clarity to you…

        I have a comment awaiting moderation, but I will repeat it here for your sake – I encourage you to first go to the links and read what Rick Owens has given you – this should clear up some of your confusion. If you truly desire to learn, then read what he’s given you. If you only want to belittle and argue, then I must move on.

  • lyn

    I see Rick has left a couple of responses to you, both of which are well put; I encourage you to follow the links he’s provided, read them thoroughly. Then, if you still have confusion, you can post your questions and concerns. I do think it best not to correspond anymore until you have read what he’s given, for I am sure these writings will answer some of your doubts, confusion, and concerns.

  • Keith

    Not reading the word of God in context, yes, there is always the context to consider, and of course it must have been by misreading of the Scriptures that led me astray.

    I think Sam Harris covered this ground as well as anyone:
    “The problem, however, is that the teachings of the Bible are so muddled and self-contradictory that it was possible for Christians to happily burn heretics alive for five long centuries. It was even possible for the most venerated patriarchs of the Church, like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, to conclude that heretics should be tortured (Augustine) or killed outright (Aquinas). Martin Luther and John Calvin advocated the wholesale murder of heretics, apostates, Jews, and witches. You are, of course, free to interpret the Bible differently–though isn’t it amazing that you have succeeded in discerning the true teachings of Christianity, while the most influential thinkers in the history of your faith failed?”

  • lyn

    It is obvious you did not watch MacArthur’s video, your sole desire is to argue and be divisive. I have no time for the argumentative type. Good day to you

    • Keith

      I watched maybe 10 minutes, frankly, that was all I could take.

      Another man whose exegesis of the text is men should teach and lead and women should have babies. Women, remember that “subjection is a privilege”! Oh, and leadership is hard, you women should be glad you don’t have to bear that burden! Oh, and you’re not as smart as men.

      Never saw that one coming.

  • Rick Owen


    Some skepticism can be a healthy thing if one follows that up with an earnest and thorough inquiry. Superficial cynicism, however, without earnest and thorough searching, in any realm of study never yields anything of much value.

    Relying on Sam Harris for either an accurate rendering of the Bible or church history, from what I’ve seen and read of him, is a bit like fetching roadkill for dinner. Not the best source.

    There are many flaws among God’s people throughout history — including some very serious ones — which Christians honestly recognize. And there are even worse ones — SUPREME atrocities never matched by any true Christian — among those who never credibly claimed to belong to the God of the Bible. But this is precisely where the gospel of grace comes into the picture in each case. The apostle Paul put it this way:

    “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost [that is, as a former blasphemer and murderer of Christians], Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

  • Keith

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

    I’ve made some statements about horrific beliefs held by Church leaders. Do you doubt they held those beliefs, am I wrong in my statements?

    Or is it you agree they held horrific beliefs, but you’re confident your exegesis is sufficiently better than theirs that we can trust your conclusions?

    Or is there an alternative I’m missing?

  • Rick Owen


    Except for the authors of the Bible, people who are dead and gone might have been church leaders for some in their time, but not for me or anyone else today. What they said and did is very far down the scale of relevant priorities for me.

    I understand some of the most egregious errors of past church leaders, especially considering the perspectives they held and the settings in which they lived — such as when church and state functioned together in making laws, defining crimes and punishing them. This was the only world they knew or understood. This had its good parts; but it also created some big problems. The worst of isolated and rare practices, however, are often exaggerated by detractors of Christianity. Church history as a whole (including its conflicts, councils and edicts) is not where I park my donkey anyway.

    I look to the Bible and study it with the best resources I can find and have time to use. This is what most Bible students do today. Each man or woman must make up his or her own mind about what the Scriptures teach as a matter of personal conviction and conscience. The Bible itself teaches us to do this (Psalm 119:1ff; Acts 17:11; Romans 14:4, 5, 22; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Peter 3:18).

    Most Christians over the centuries, within the pale of mainstream Christianity, have been in general agreement on the fundamentals of the Bible: Creation, Fall and Redemption through faith in Christ alone is the main story line of the Bible. Love to God and one’s neighbor is the ethic of the Bible. Repentance, mercy and forgiveness when Christians fail to practice this ethic is the recurring consolation of the Bible. And future fellowship with God and His people in a perfected universe to be revealed is the final hope of the Bible.

  • Keith

    “Most Christians”, “mainstream Christianity”, “general agreement”: I think you’re leaving yourself a lot of wiggle room. :-)

    Rick, truly, I don’t care what you personally believe, and I’m a huge fan of personal conviction and conscience.

    When someone’s personal conviction and conscience, that is, their exegesis, denies the civil rights of other human beings, or makes hugely improbable truth statements about the world around us (and yes, I’m looking right at you, Indiana, Louisiana and Texas), then I have a problem with them.

    If we can all look at the Church patriarchs and say “Here’s a lesson for all of us: even with the best of intentions, God’s Word and supernatural guidance, it’s truly amazing how wrong you can be.”, then we’re probably good to go.

    • Rick Owen


      I did leave myself a lot of wiggle room with my generalizations since I’m not an expert on any of this — especially church history. But what I shared has been my take from what I’ve been exposed. And it’s been enough to satisfy my own mind. There are others on this site who are true scholars on the subject if you ever care to dig deeper.

      It seems you’re getting back to the original subject of this thread related to homosexuality. The gospel calls most people away from what comes ‘natural’ to them — arrogance, anger, fear, hatred, selfishness, lust, greed, lying, covetousness, stealing, anxiety, worry, unbelief, etc. Most Christians continue to struggle with many of these things. But they do so as ‘strugglers’ in a spiritual battle, versus who they formerly were as slaves with no hope. Here’s how Scripture puts it:

      “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
      (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

      John Newton (who wrote “Amazing Grace”) put it this way after many years as a Christian:

      “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

      That’s about as good as I can say it regarding my own experience. And I think that’s basically what the author of this blog meant to include, as well, in his story.

  • Claude Cunningham

    I’m dwelling nowadays in CS Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain” which really deals in a wonderful way with the key topics in this long debate, particularly the character of God. It was while reading this book at Gatwick airport in the 90’s, awaiting a plane to the USA, that I suddenly burst into tears, impacted by the truth that the only reason I exist, is so that God can lavish the full riches of His love upon me – and that everything He desires and demands of me is aimed at that outcome – sin, all sin, is for my ultimate misery. Righteousness, all righteousness, is for our ultimate pleasure, delight and glory. Never lose sight of that. But read the book, which is downloadable as a pdf – it is worth getting through. And gets easier as you do.

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  • Wayne Blakely

    Pastor Sam! How incredibly refreshing, tender and thoughtful. Clearly written under the influence of Jesus and prayer.

    For the last few years God has provided me with a ministry. Mainly reaching out to churches and church leadership. As in most denominations, the one I am associated with has been pretty silent on this topic for many many years. I suffered greatly from this silence. I was gay and left the church early in life.

    Yet even in their ignorance of not knowing that we are all level at the foot of the cross… many continued to pray… and it was the power of prayer that won me back to Jesus and life as a “New Creation” in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

    I found your article this morning in a search for graphics ..praying for those who are gay. I found the graphic… but was enticed by your beautifully written article which I am re-posting.

    Thank you for sharing how Jesus does not want to take anything from us that He will not replenish with abundant blessings through Him. There is nothing on this earth that is too valuable to give up for Him.

    Above all… we are asked .. regardless what sin temptation we struggle with, whether or not we will seek to do His will or be satisfied .. maybe even indignant with our own.

    Prayer is powerful! Jesus is listening. He will not force, but all of heaven will come to the aid of one who will call upon Him.

    God bless you and His ministry through you.

  • don

    The Bible says it is an abomination for a man to lay with another man

  • Jasmine

    The Good News is good enough on it’s own. When you share the good news about Jesus, you shouldn’t have an agenda behind it. You shouldn’t even need to know anything about someone’s personal sins when sharing the gospel. It is not our job to make sure a person acknowledges any particular sin. The Spirit convicts. The Spirit works within a person and the Spirit is enough. Share the gospel, share your personal testimony…tell them what God has done in your life. The gospel is about grace, love, and the life of Jesus Christ being made available to us. And this is ENOUGH. When we start dishing out rules and “this is what you should do about this sin” advice when sharing the gospel, we miss the whole point of the gospel. Why talk about sin when Jesus took care of that on the cross! Talk about Jesus! He is awesome! Why? Because He’s done this or He’s done that! Jesus didn’t give himself up in this amazing way to have us talk about what he may not like about someone when they ask about Him. The gospel tells of His LOVE for us all! That’s all anybody needs to know to begin a relationship with him! The Spirit will take care of the rest!

  • Frank

    Simply awesome. I cannot wait to share this everywhere. We all should if we truly love people.

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  • Henry Rojas

    The good news of jesus Christ is for all people. If we are to “give something up” as you say in order to trade for life then who can get in? Scripture teaches that apart from God we can do nothing. So then logically speaking how are you able to give something up without Him? It must then mean we have Christ in us already and in His life giving presence we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us but it is not a prerequisite to coming to Christ. Any dear gay brother or sister in Christ can work out the details between them and God and if they are truly seeking then I am sure they will find their way. We are called only to love. “Searching for an answer to tell them” – those suffering ones means simply that you have not the answer. You are endangering their lives and their freedom in Christ by making one up with biased interpretations of scripture.
    To hate mother and father in order to be worthy of the kingdom does not mean to literally hate them but to relinquish all human attachments and small gods which includes our limited understanding of the scriptures on this topic. DEFER TO LOVE!!! The fact that you are gay my brother does not make you an authority on the intent of scripture in this area. It does not give you authority to declare what is is sin and what is not sin. This is reserved purely to the God expressed in the compassion of Christ. Is someone truly seeks the God of love they will find peace. The gospel is good news to all people including gays. BTW Sex within Heterosexual marriage does not always equal moral behavior. Sexual immorality can be occurring in marriages in many ways. It is a heart condition not an act. I could give you examples but it would open a whole can of abuse and wounds reserved for another article written by a therapist. The Bible was also used to defend the world is flat theory punishing Galileo for years. All in the name of belief , cultural norms and defending the gospel. Defer to love and allow truth to set free to love Christ and work out their own salvation. As for me I will love, accept and embrace my gay brothers and sisters in Christ as I plead ignorance on the topic and lean in to the love Jesus WITH them as they genuinely seek His will for them.

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  • franklinb23

    Question, Sam: Do you tell divorced heterosexuals that they should remain celibate for the rest of their lives if they were divorced for unbiblical reasons? Have you insisted they try to reunite with their first spouses instead of remarrying?

    What about women who are being beaten by their husbands? Do you counsel them to stick with it given the fact that Christ only permitted divorce for infidelity? (Luke 16:18, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19:9)

    If not … why are you willing to bend the rules for heterosexuals? Or, like most folks, have you simply “re-interpreted” these passages to mean something other than what they so clearly say (if taken at face value)?

    I’m not being snarky … I see an incredible disconnect when it comes to the conservative church’s treatment of heterosexuals.

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