One line in particular that stood out in Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality is this quote from Martin Hallett of True Freedom Trust: “There are probably nearly as many Christians with homosexual feelings who do not believe that homsexual sex is right for Christians as there are those who are advocating its acceptance.”
I would encourage all heterosexual pastors to seriously consider buying and reading this book. Part 1 of this book is the best thing I know for growing in empathy, understanding, and insight with respect to true believers who feel—and struggle against—same-sex desires.
A friend who struggles with same-sex attraction but has experienced much grace and strength recently suggested that the church has positively developed two modes of response to homosexuality: apologetics (responding to homosexual revisionists who want to distort the Bible to further an agenda) and evangelism (seeking to win homosexuals to the Lord). But the missing element is member care (caring for, nurturing, discipling, loving, and accepting those already within the body of Christ who are secretly struggling with sin in secret). As Wesley Hill comments in the book: “It is not secret that a large number of gay Christians feel frightened at the thought of sharing the story of their sexuality with their fellow believers.”
This is probably something that needs to be addressed from the pulpit, at appropriate times. The most insightful sermons I’ve heard on homosexuality are John Piper’s two sermons on Romans 1:24-28 (part 1 and part 2).
Here’s an excerpt that, in my view, gets at the right way to convey the biblical balance:
My prayer for both weeks is that we as a church, and I in particular as the preacher, will find a Biblical balance between clear conviction about the sinfulness of homosexual behavior, on the one hand, and patient compassion to come alongside those of you who have homosexual desires, and your friends and relatives, and seek your good. I have no desire to drive homosexual people away. On the contrary, I would like to be able to say of our congregation what Paul said to the church in Corinth: after mentioning “fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, swindlers,” he says in 6:11, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
I would like us to be a church like that—justified sinners battling together to walk in purity, with all of our differing genetic, hormonal, environmental disorders that incline everyone of us, in varying ways, to do sinful things. . . . We want to be a church where homosexual people can either overcome their sexual disorder, or find the faith and courage and help and love and power to live a triumphant, joyful, celibate life with the disorder.
Wesley Hill’s book isn’t perfect. But it’s one of the first written—in what will undoubtedly be an ongoing conversation—from the perspective of competent exegete with a conservative perspective advocating celibacy and Christ-centered compassion. And for that we can thank God, asking him to conform all of us—no matter our sexual inclinations—into the image of his Son.