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After viewing Friday night’s Larry King Live with Jennifer Knapp, pastor Bob Botsford, and Ted Haggard, I was struck with the question:

Why is it that whenever a proponent of Christianity’s historical view of sexuality goes head to head with an advocate for gay rights, the traditional Christian almost always loses the argument?

Read the transcript from Friday’s roundtable discussion here. Watch as the traditionalist pastor seeks to be loving and gentle, and yet still gets pelted with the pejorative term “judgmental.” Why is this so?

I’m convinced that we continue to lose the argument about homosexuality and Christianity because the traditionalist almost always makes his case within a conversation that has been framed by the opposing viewpoint. The Christian doesn’t lose the argument at the micro-level. The argument is lost from the beginning because of how the discussion is framed.

I only know Jennifer Knapp through her music. (Kansas is one of the best albums in Christian music, as far as I’m concerned.) I do not want the rest of this post (or the comments) to focus on her particular story. Instead, I want to analyze the Larry King appearance as a launching pad from which we can think clearly about how we might re-frame this discussion in ways that benefit the traditionalist position.

Here are four ways to get started:

1. We need to shift emphasis from the truth that “everyone is a sinner” to the necessity of repentance.

“We’re all sinners” comes up again and again in discussions like this. In her Larry King interview, Knapp realized the power of having the pastor admit that he too is a sinner. Once she received this admission, she had the upper hand in asking, “Then why are you judging me instead of me judging you?”

Whenever the discussion centers on “homosexuality is a sin… but we’re all sinners,” the traditionalist inevitably comes across looking like he is singling out homosexuality as a worse sin than all the rest. His protests to the contrary always ring hollow.

But this is the wrong way to frame this debate. We are not saying that some of us are worse sinners than others or that homosexuality is a worse sin than pride, stealing, etc. We are not categorized before God as ” better sinners” or “worse sinners.” Instead, we are either unrepentant or repentant. True Christianity hinges on repentance. The pastor on Larry King Live eventually made this point later on in the broadcast, but the rhetorical damage had already been done.

If we are to reframe this discussion along biblical lines, then we must emphasize the necessity of repentance for the Christian faith. The point is not that the pastor and the Knapp are both sinners. It’s that the pastor agrees with God about his sin, while Knapp remains in her sin without repentance. That is why he is questioning her Christianity, for Christian teaching makes clear the necessity of repentance as the entryway into the Christian family.

Ultimately, the debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.

2. We must not allow ourselves to be defined by our sexual attractions.

There is a difference between homosexual attraction and homosexual behavior. Whenever this discussion takes place in public, the homosexual advocate inevitably merges these two concepts together and then fashions an identity based upon this attraction. The traditionalist is then considered judgmental for telling the homosexual that she should not be true to herself.

But the assumption that we are defined by our sexual attractions is a modern one and should be questioned. If I lust after a woman other than my wife, and yet choose not to act on that sexual urge, am I not being true to myself? Is it not better to be true to someone else rather than true to one’s desires on certain occasions? Could it be that the suppression of an illicit sexual attraction can also be considered true to oneself?

This is where the whole idea of Christian virtue needs to be revisited. Our goal is not authenticity. It is to be true to the self that is redeemed, transformed by the gospel and the power of the Spirit, under the authority of God’s Word.

That is why we must make distinctions between sexual urges and sexual behavior. One might not choose one’s temptation (the “I was born this way” argument is true of all sinners, after all), but we do choose our behavior. We are not animals, led helplessly by instinct.

Right now, the gay rights advocates are claiming that their opponents have a low view of humanity. Actually, it’s the traditionalist who has the high view of humanity, understanding that we are more than our sexual urges and we have an inherent worth and value that leads us to do more than simply act on whatever instincts we feel.

3. We must expose the arrogance and judgmentalism of those who would so flippantly dismiss the witness of Christians for two thousand years.

No matter how gentle and humble the traditionalist may be, the notion of being “judgmental” will continue to be thrown at him by those who see homosexuality as a legitimate behavior for a Christian. I thought the pastor did well in his stated affection for Jennifer and his insistence that ultimately God is Judge.

But why is it that the debate always takes place with the homosexual as the one “being judged”? Knapp positions herself as the martyr, facing condemnation for her beliefs, though it is she who advocates views that directly contradict the testimony and witness of Christians for the past two thousand years.

Despite the veneer of humility (she admits her lack of knowledge in Greek and Hebrew), Knapp points to recent scholarship that says we have misunderstood the Scriptures that appear to deal with homosexual behavior. This point of view is not humble at all. Knapp has flippantly dismissed the consensus of two thousand years of Christian scholarship and witness, not to mention the vast majority of Christians outside the West who continue to see homosexual behavior as sinful.

Unfortunately, the arrogance and imperialism of this view is never exposed or questioned in these discussions. For once, I’d like to see someone gently point out the implicit judgmentalism of the “homosexual behavior is legitimate” view.

4. We need soft hearts toward Christians struggling with same-sex attraction.

Jennifer Knapp’s point of view appears to be liberating and compassionate. It’s actually condemning and dismissive. How so?

Consider the people in our churches who are struggling with same-sex attraction and temptation. Consider these believers who are walking alongside other Christians, choosing daily to remain celibate, to crucify these desires as a part of their painful sanctification. Knapp dismisses the legitimacy of struggling with such attractions by saying that one should just give up the fight, for homosexual behavior is not even a sin. This kind of hard-heartedness toward fellow pilgrims is not coming from the traditionalist pastor, but from Knapp, who considers herself to be liberated from that struggle.

In closing, it is good for us to remember those who are struggling in our churches. For too long now, Christians have acted as if this struggle is non-existent or we have questioned the sincerity and salvation of those who wrestle with this specific temptation. We ought to repent of our rush to judgment, our cruel jokes about this sin, and our mockery of those who struggle in this area.

Even though we continue to hold to the increasingly unpopular view that homosexual behavior is sinful, we recognize that many Christians are involved in the struggle – whether silently or openly – and we should commit to prayerful pilgrimage with them.

All of us are sinners. True Christians are repentant sinners. And God’s grace is mighty to save us and change us – every one of us and every part of us.


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Comments:


109 thoughts on “Jennifer Knapp & Larry King: Why We Always Lose this Debate”

  1. Josh Philpot says:

    Great post, Trevin. I think you’re right on, and I hope to re-frame how I interact with lost people based on your words above. I like this quote in particular: “The debate is not about homosexuality versus other sins. It’s about whether or not repentance is integral to the Christian life.”

    Thanks for the good word.

  2. Zack says:

    Those are good insights. I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately from a philosophical angle. I think you are right that the conversation needs to be redefined. I think another factor in the debate is that non-Christians tend to see issues of gender and sexuallity as socially defined, and flexible; while, Christians tend to see these things as under the authority of God, naturally defined and unchangable. Also, our societies idolization of pleasure and dismisal of God as authoritative (pleasure as the ultimate good against God as the ultimate good) frames the debate in such a light that Christians are always going to look like the bad guy. The kill joy without cause.

  3. Craig Ervin says:

    This is the way I deal with this argument, and I would like to hear some feedback on this approach.
    When I am dealing with confessing “homosexual” believers, their argument is that we have misunderstood the Scriptures and the Scriptures do not speak to a “loving, monogamous, homosexual relationship.” Their argument is that the Scriptures deal with homosexuality in terms of idolatrous religious practices or predatory rape. And since the Bible does not condemn their behavior, then it is OK.
    While you might want to argue the point, I just agree with them, but then simply state that just because the Scripture does not condemn a “loving, monogamous homosexual relationship,” does not mean that it condones it. Since they are stating that the Bible is silent on the issue, then they cannot use silence to give them “rights.” The only authoritative sexual relationship in Scripture is between a married man and woman. All other relationships are either condemned or have no authority under God. If they want to continue the homosexual life, then they must do so outside of the authority of God’s Word. They cannot use the Bible to support their lifestyle, and must look outside the Scripture and outside 2,000 years of church tradition, finding authority to live based on their own feelings and nothing else.
    My hope is that this argument will work as leaven to make the person see that the homosexual life is one without God’s blessing.

  4. Chris Leingang says:

    Excellent post, very well put! I too have tried to move the debate toward the issue of repentance. You have added to and enlarged my perspective though. Thank you.

  5. Denny Burk says:

    Great stuff, Trevin! Thanks for the reflections!

  6. Paul Ryan says:

    Excellent post. IMHO, your first point is the “money quote.”

  7. Kat says:

    That is the best breakdown I’ve heard thus far. Awesome approach…

  8. Scott Slater says:

    Awesome post, very helpful. I’ve been thinking this but Trevin put it in words.

    Craig,
    I think that’s an interesting tactic for witnessing to Homosexuals but I think that you might want to be careful when you say “that just because the Scripture does not condemn a “loving, monogamous homosexual relationship,” does not mean that it condones it.” You want to be careful because the bible does condemn it and say that it’s wrong. I think that particular point of discussion with a Homosexual would cause confusion among that community because that means that there will be a group of christians saying that it is condemned and a group saying that it’s not. I hope that makes sense.

    From speaking with many homosexuals in my own experience I think that the tactic presented in this blog post is the most helpful, particularly when the notion of “judging” comes up and especially when people profess being both christian and homosexual.

  9. Alex says:

    Thanks for the post. J-Knapp and this issue have been bothering me since I first heard about it, and I appreciate your last point. When I became a Christian several years ago, I had to make the decision to walk away from the attractions that were natural for me, and turn to Christ. I didn’t understand at the time why God would ask me to give up what seemed so normal and so right…it seemed on one level like he was asking me to give up love. But I chose to trust him–really the cross made all the difference for me, because it proved him trustworthy, and anything he asked of me I knew had to be for my good, because he had already sacrificially acted for my good.

    All that to say, yes to point 2. It is confusing at best and tempting for me at worst to see someone who has so inspired me with her music give up this fight against her sin. The way our culture is turning, it becomes easy to sometimes want to give in to what I previously walked in as a way of being “true to myself”, but I pray God will keep me. Thanks for speaking the truth in love–no matter how unpopular.

  10. Ed Goodman says:

    Trevin,

    Your analysis is spot-on! The real theological issue for Jennifer Knapp is whether or not she will confess (i.e. agree with God that her homosexuality is sin) and then repent (turn away from her sin).

    As always, the Lord has used you to open my mind and heart.

  11. Craig Ervin says:

    To Scott,
    In my discussions with “Evangelical Christian Gays,” they will argue that the five or six major Scriptures dealing with homosexuality never deal with what they are arguing for: “a loving, monogamous homosexual relationship.” How do you deal with this argument?

  12. Richard says:

    God’s original created design is life-long, monogamous heterosexual marriage. In Scripture, all forms of sexual thought or behavior outside of marriage (i.e. adultery, fornication, lust, homosexuality and many others) is sin. In debates like those hosted by Larry King, we rarely frame the discussion beginning with the Biblical sexual ethic and then build the argument we have all fallen short of what God requires. We are all sinners living in a fallen world. God’s solution for homosexuality, and any myriad of other sin, is justification through Jesus Christ.

    As one called out of homosexuality thirty years ago, I know something of the pain of sanctification, including that inflicted by other Christians who see homosexual desire as incompatibility with salvation, even for those of us who live as celibate believers in Christ. Personally, my greatest desire is to know God better, to love Him more and be more closely obedient to Him with each passing day.

    Truth is the Church proclaims homosexuality as a particularly repugnant sin rather than proclaiming Jesus Christ the only true Savior from all sin. Perhaps one day we will reclaim the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe, regardless of how far we have fallen from His created intent.

  13. Brian says:

    Excellent post in response to JKnapp’s recent coming out. I think your conclusions on how we evangelical Christians should learn to respond to such lifestyles of sin and arguments for such.

  14. Barry says:

    Trevin,

    I think you make some good points and I agree the traditionalist enters into a hostile discussion. Room should be made for dissenting opinion, instead of creating an atmosphere that looks open minded but really isn’t.

    I do have thoughts on point #2. I think its true there is a difference between our sexual urges and sexual behavior. You’re right, just because we feel attraction doesn’t legitimate acting on it.

    But I have a problem with your statement that the traditionalist has a higher view of humanity because they believe we are more than our sexual urges. If that is true, then why is homosexuality such a hot topic for traditionalists? If their argument says we are more than our sexual urges than why would a homosexual Christian provoke such a high amount of animosity and debate? Why then does Jennifer Knapp merit such scrutiny from the Christian community? If this is just a matter of repentance then why are we not discussing other matters of repentance with equal energy?

    Also, I think Jennifer Knapp and other homosexuals would agree with you that we are more than our sexual urges. I don’t hear anyone saying differently.

    You said, “we have an inherent worth and value that leads us to do more than simply act on whatever instincts we feel.” The traditionalist speaks from a position of comfort and ease because their sexuality isn’t under scrutiny! Of course they would say this. Their lifestyle isn’t under question and they are free to express their sexuality. I don’t hear homosexuals claiming we should “act on whatever instincts we feel.” Some do, sure, just as some heterosexuals do. But what I hear from homosexuals I know is a real struggle to understand their sexuality and God. They aren’t casually giving in to their sexual urges and to say otherwise is dismissive of their genuine attempt to live into their sexuality with integrity.

    If we are, as you say in point #4, going to have “soft hearts” towards homosexual Christians, then we should first take the time to listen to them. Listen to their stories and how they struggle with their sexuality. It’s easy for a heterosexual married man to encourage sexual integrity when their sexuality already lines up with traditional views and they are free to express their sexuality in relationship with their wife. But it isn’t the same for homosexuals and if we are going to have soft hearts towards them (and towards ourselves and our own sexual struggles) we must engage them with the intent to listen FIRST. Only after we have listened to each others stories will our discussion of sexuality truly honor God and each other.

  15. Barry says:

    Another thing I noticed, Trevin, is that Jennifer Knapp wasn’t being dismissive or condemning…and I don’t see where you are coming from at all. You say she is dismissing the struggle of Christians who feel homosexual attraction by saying homosexuality isn’t wrong. That isn’t dismissive, it’s an opinion, same as the pastor believes homosexuality IS wrong. If she is dismissive, then the pastor is equally so.

    Jennifer Knapp isn’t flippantly dismissing two thousand years of Christian theology either. She is stating her opinion, which you have curiously given the pastor the grace to do but not her…

    Also, when the pastor was asked straight forward questions on what he thought about other interpretations of scripture on the Greek and Hebrew meanings of homosexuality and whether or not it was possible for Jennifer Knapp to naturally feel attraction for women, he avoided answering them. He skipped around the issues.

    This is why traditionalists look like fools when they enter this debate. They aren’t prepared to answer the tough questions and they field such answers as “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” (which is a childish, immature remark at best) and talk about sin like they never do it. It looks like they are riding in on a moral high horse. And I hate that because there are plenty of people who believe homosexuality is wrong but engage homosexuals with grace and love. This pastor just happens to be one of those who doesn’t.

  16. Thanks for sharing. This is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the issue because it focuses on the issue and how we can better prepare for handling instead of focusing on news of Jennifer Knapp.

    -Marshall Jones Jr.

  17. Lynn says:

    Thanks Barry.

  18. Russ says:

    Great points. Thank you for taking on this topic in a thoughtful way.

  19. Lakin says:

    I thought this article was fairly thoughtful, although I’m sure there is much more you could have included. I was changed by a book I read that really delved into this whole topic & I truly believe is a must-read for believers in our communities. Check out “Love Is An Orientation” by Andrew Marin.

  20. Jason says:

    Great post! Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this issue. I have been struggling with this story and the implications of Jennifer Knapp’s testimony for over a week now. I have always enjoyed Knapp’s music. I also have several gay people in my life and I struggle with how to present the gospel message in word and in deed so that I stand firm against the sin, but remain committed to love the sinner. Your blog has helped me frame my own thoughts a little better. As important as it is to have this public discussion about sin, sinners, grace and repentance, one cynical thought about this whole “coming out story” is that the purpose (as evidenced by the timing of the story) seems to be to generate publicity for the release of Knapp’s new album, rather than an honest confession of either a personal struggle with sin or an honest (though misguided) statement of identity and purpose for her life. This “coming out” story would have been more authentic to me if Knapp would have initiated it eight years ago when she left for Australia or even two years ago when she did not have a record to sell us. Although I am grateful that Knapp’s story has generated public discussion about the gospel and what it means to follow Jesus, I am a little disgusted that the sins of greed, idolatry, materialism and selfishness are being overlooked. I hope Knapp and her promoters enjoy the 30 pieces of silver they receive for their efforts. I pray that God will convict their hearts of this sin and they repent.

  21. Scott Slater says:

    Craig,

    I think that if I were to have a homosexual tell me that they read the scriptures and said that they did not read anywhere that a “loving, monogamous, homosexual relationship” was condemned/discouraged/forbidden.. I would simply tell them that they haven’t read the scriptures very carefully. I would tell them that it is simply impossible to come to that conclusion.

    How do I deal with that argument? I would ask them what they mean when they say “homosexual” and then ask what biblical authors meant when they said “homosexual”. Then ask why they think that homosexuality was not considered a “loving, monogamous, homosexual relationship” back then.

  22. Mark says:

    excellent post. great thoughts, and well said.

    i’m having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around your 3rd point. you close with…”For once, I’d like to see someone gently point out the implicit judgmentalism of the “homosexual behavior is legitimate” view.”

    can you explain what this would look like?

  23. Rhonda T. K. says:

    Trevin, you make good points in your blog.

    I’m a Christian female who does struggle with SSA and has been in and out of the gay community. The gay community is not all that it’s cracked up to be. If gays get all the rights they want, they will still be depressed and not satisfied because that is what sin does to a person. I tried to live with this belief I could be a Christian and also affirm homosexuality for many years. It’s very easy to be draw into this way of thinking. Jennifer Knapp for nearly a decade now has been thinking this way even though it’s new to most of us. She has had plenty of time to be affected by the world rather than Jesus Himself. In her interview with Larry King, Jennifer will use a generic “my faith” answers rather than, My Lord and Savior Jesus or somewhere along those lines like she had so many years ago. Just listen to her lyrics off of the Kanas recording. A much different person then. She talks like an unbeliever now. She hesitated when she was answering as though it pained her to imply that Jesus was Lord of her life because, she has replaced Him with an idol.

    Jennifer also said in one interview “Anyone who has a decade of celibacy has ‘complete loser’ written on their back,” She claimed she joked, Imagine if you will, the backlash if one of those pastors made a joke like that to her? Yet she doesn’t like it when Christians will tell her that her lifestyle is not compatible with scripture. She doesn’t like to be judged yet she comes out with that remark.

    I still think she is a Christian and has salvation because even though she has walked away, like I did, Jesus never will abandon us.

    Still unless she repents, she will have to answer for living for her own desires and causing people to stumble. She is in a position of such influence.

    I will tell you in my personal experience living with the idea lesbianism was OK, Jesus took a back seat. Living in sin renders one ineffective for the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t matter what sin, but remember we are told all other sins are outside of the body, but immorality has more dire consequenses than other sins.
    Run from sexual sin! –No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body– 1st Corinth. 6:18.

    Let me explain that I have had sexual attractions to women a good part of my life as well as to men, but more so with women. It’s a bit complicated. My childhood was filled with abuse, especially from my father. I didn’t choose the feelings, but I did choose to act on them long after I became an adult. Therein lies the choice. I wish I hadn’t have acted on them. I am regretful about that. I wish I had remained pure, but the Lord is in the process of restoring me. I am at peace with the Lord now. I am no longer so frustrated depressed and angry which I was living in the gay lifestyle. I also look forward to marry a man of God one day.
    Another issue people bring up is that Jesus never spoke of homosexuality during his time on earth. We don’t know that for sure. – John 21:25-And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
    When Jesus was on the earth, homosexuality was not a concern for his people at the time. Later on, Paul (who was met by Jesus) had to include it in the NT since homosexuality was now becoming rampant. Besides, Jesus is God and He had plenty to speak about it in the Old Testament and also the NT via Paul and other writers (which the homosexual community dismisses). Read the Book of Revelation too where John comes face to face with Jesus, and He speaks to the 7 churches and how some of these churches have given into sexual immorality. Read where Jesus said that he gave time for the world to repent of her immorality and she refused. You can bet homosexuality is one of those immoral sins. So yes, Jesus does speak of it.
    I too have also had to face some in church who abandoned me because they could not handle I struggled with this sin. The church is much to blame for the rise of this sin as much as the world is because she turned her back on those who needed help. Instead of helping, many turned away and thought it would go away or chased those who strugge out. Now we have a militant atomosphere in the world, and not just with homosexuals, but those who agree with them. Yes, we need to be loving, and let them know Jesus is a loving God, but also that He is a holy and just God and won’t put up with sin for too long.

  24. Tim Harrigan says:

    Great post! I especially like the arguments about suppression being true to one’s self, and 2000 years of Christian witness being discounted within one generation.

    Are there a couple of items that are being missed here? I’ve been saying for the past 20 years that homosexuals have been trying to legitimize their way of life to where they are just like everyone else. Liberal theology has helped them in the church, and it has made the traditional church look bad. Francis Shaeffer’s description of liberal theology that it is nothing but humanism with theological words is absolutely true. They have succeeded on this front. They have rejected that the Word of God says that homosexuality is a sin, therefore telling God that He is wrong. Along with liberal theology, they have rejected God. They are now mainstream, and have succeeded on that front.

    The other is that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus said that he didn’t come to do away with the law. In 5:18, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished”. In Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 & 20, in the OT God said it was wrong. Did Jesus need to itemize every sin during His ministry to satisfy the homosexual’s that they were special? To not specifically mention homosexuality is supposed to be an admission that the behavior was acceptable? What about beastiality; he didn’t say anything about that. Was His silence on the matter an admission that they are special? No, He said we needed to repent.

    Unfortunately, Jennifer has swallowed the world’s lies, and the world has come alongside of her to comfort her. Those real Christians around her need to continue to pray for her, that she will either rediscover, or discover God for the first time, and repent.

  25. Chris says:

    God bless you, Trevin, and may he use you in wonderful ways to lead people to Jesus.

  26. Craig Ervin says:

    Scott,
    Thanks for your input. I do appreciate it.
    I have had several discussions with leaders in the gay/lesbian movement in Atlanta and Chattanooga, and it has broken my heart. I have left our discussions weeping because they will not see, (the whole, “suppressing the truth,” thing in Romans 1.)
    I have asked the type of questions you are stating. The response either stays with their argument, that the Bible is speaking of homosexual activity in idolatrous practices (Leviticus) or that the NT is speaking of predatory type relationships, such as pedophilia and slavery.If pressed, they will simply state that they are not an expert, but there are experts that agree with them.
    So, instead of arguing and trying to win an argument, I take a different tack so I may win a soul. Telling someone they just are not reading the text right does little to help.
    So, I simply point them to the conclusion that their lifestyle is outside Scripture. I ask if they think that since they have no divine authority, and hence, no blessing from God on their relationship, can they call it “Christian.”? I try to show them that if they confess to be a Christian, and yet live outside the authority of Christ, what does that mean? All I have been able to do is plant a seed.
    Again, thanks for the input. Iron sharpens iron.
    Craig

  27. Freddy C. says:

    Rhonda,

    Thank you for such a heartfelt and transparent post. Not only was Trevin’s post insightful but yours is as well. It brings an almost “behind the scenes” reality that most of us cannot comprehend. It definitely has shed some light in helping me understand the struggles within the gay community.

  28. Scott Slater says:

    Craig,

    No problem brother. I honestly don’t expect any argument to work. When speaking to people who want to continue in their sin, they will make any excuse to do so, no matter what the cost. That’s why salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit and not of our intellect. The best thing that we can do for those people we meet is pray that the Lord would open their eyes.

  29. John says:

    Thank you for this careful thinking Trevin. Do you think perhaps that the failure of Christian witness in this area is rooted less in a misunderstanding of homosexuality, and more in a misunderstanding of sin and repentance? What I mean to say is that while we often call the “big sins” to repentance, we sometimes neglect to cultivate church communities where purity, holiness, and chasing after God are cultivated. If we fail to be formative, how can we expect our own not to fall into “big sin”?

  30. Joel says:

    Great post, Trevin. In regards to how the Bible addresses homosexuality, one of the clearest statements to consider carefully is Romans 1:26-27, where Paul illustrates the effect of God giving men and women up to dishonorable passions, “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie”. Among these “dishonorable passions” was the practice of homosexuality.

  31. Hillary says:

    Thanks to all of you for engaging in this important discussion. I am wondering… How is it possible to use the Bible as the foundation for the condemnation of homosexuality, when it is a text written and interpreted within the context of culture?

    Homosexuality is the moral hot topic at this moment, but let’s remember back to when divorce was the moral hot topic or slavery or women holding leadership roles within the church.

    The Bible has been used throughout history to justify slavery through the teachings of Paul, but we just call those scriptures “culturally irrelevant” when asked about them now. The Bible has been used to repress women in the church for generations, but we don’t pay much attention to those verses in many churches today. It is clear in scripture that God hates divorce, but we allow divorced people to hold roles of leadership within the Christian community today.

    So why the judgement against homosexuality? Because it is a cultural hot topic right now. I bet that in 20 years those scriptures will be considered “culturally irrelevant”.

  32. Lauren says:

    I really appreciate this post. Especially point number 4. It’s the same type of compassion we must show to the single mom who chose to have her baby…the same baby that is now fussy in the back of the service. As we believers in Christ show compassion to our fellow struggling believers, as we crush pride with the humility and confidence that comes from knowing who we are in Christ, we bring the Kingdom to earth. Amen!

  33. Amanda says:

    This is everything I have been thinking in my head but could not get into words…I do not have a gift for words, but as I was reading this post, I was realizing that it is how I would want to say things.

  34. Tim says:

    Reading posts like these gives me hope that me and my friends aren’t the only Christians trying to bring the Kingdom to earth. Well said, well articulated.

  35. J.Random says:

    “1. We need to shift emphasis from the truth that “everyone is a sinner” to the necessity of repentance.”

    This won’t work when the two parties disagree on what constitutes sin.

    And given that there are many commandments in the Bible that Christians find reasons not to obey — from the Levitical prohibitions on wearing clothing of mixed fabrics, to Jesus’ direct command not to store up treasures on Earth — it’s not obvious at all how to agree on what’s sinful or not.

    In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul mentions that it is shameful and unnatural for men to have long hair. Nobody believes that nowadays. (Consider all the long-haired depictions of Jesus!) So it’s unclear why we should believe Paul in Romans 1 when he says gay sex, like long hair on men, is shameful and unnatural.

    “2. We must not allow ourselves to be defined by our sexual attractions.”

    …Spoken like someone who’s never been defined by their sexual attractions.

    Consider everything precious about your relationship with your wife that is not expressly sexual: cuddling on the couch, long walks on the beach, sharing one’s deepest hopes and dreams, caring for one another in sickness —

    — and reflect that it’s not only the sex you argue against gay people sharing, but it’s all those experiences as well. Because emotional intimacy is tempting and might lead to sex.

    Straight Christians argue for gay people to be lonely in a way they seek to avoid themselves.

    “3. We must expose the arrogance and judgmentalism of those who would so flippantly dismiss the witness of Christians for two thousand years.”

    Slavery was an honorable Christian institution for almost two thousand years, before abolitionists like William Wilberforce flippantly dismissed Christian witness on the matter. Was that arrogant and judgmental? If so, God bless it.

    So many Christians were so brazenly, blatantly wrong about slavery, that nobody can appeal to simple tradition today without stepping under that shadow. Whether you think it’s fair or not.

    “4. We need soft hearts toward Christians struggling with same-sex attraction.”

    Agreed. But to do so, we have to pay attention to the reality these people live in — not the reality artificially constructed by a theology. The (Evangelical Christian) Barna study on ex-gay programs reported a deplorable “success” rate for attempts to change or stay celibate. The reality is that Christians who struggle with SSA are pretty miserable compared to those who can reconcile their sexuality and their faith and live out both as a whole person.

    Jesus criticized the Pharisees for placing a yoke on people that was too heavy to bear, and not lifting a finger themselves to help. This is what I hear in these suggestions. And that’s why you’re losing the argument with me.

  36. 2. We must not allow ourselves to be defined by our sexual attractions.

    Yet as you type that, you ARE defined by your sexual attractions. You believe that everyone is born heterosexual. You believe that anyone who claims to be homosexual is really just a heterosexual who made a sinful choice to be homosexual.

    The real problem is that anti-gay Christians try to denigrate gays and lesbians by asserting that we are sex-obsessed, that being gay or lesbian is mostly about illicit sex.

    3. We must expose the arrogance and judgmentalism of those who would so flippantly dismiss the witness of Christians for two thousand years.

    You begin from the erroneous presupposition that Christians for 2000 years have believed what you believe about homosexuality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Our Jewish ancestors in the Old Testament and early Christians for the first 400 years of church history, did not agree with your views on the clobber passages.

    Perhaps the biggest problem in discussing homosexuality with anti-gay Christians is their lack of factual information and their apparent indifference toward educating themselves on the issues involved.

    Approaching the clobber passages with careful attention to context – cultural, doctrinal, historical, linguistic, literary, religious, etc. – may help to open the eyes of anti-gay Christians who insist on ignoring the context of these particular verses (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Jude 5-8).

  37. Billy says:

    This whole debate is cleared up in my mind in Genesis. God created man, male and female he created them. Homosexuality is a crime against nature and the original creation order. This reality is proven easily by this scenario. Place a homesexual couple on an island by themselves. They are mature and sexually healthy. A male and a male or a woman and a woman. Only two and of the same sex. In 100 years, there is nobody on the island. Now take a male and a female in the same way as God created man. In 100 years, there is at least the possibility of life continuing on the island. This is the design of our all-wise Creator. All the clobber passages must be interpreted in this light.

    In addition, there is no reason for a Christian to be hateful to a person that is sinfully rejecting the design of the Creator. Everyone should be approached with honor and dignity, but with the truth. A great example is Jesus with the woman at the well. Loving and truthful at the same time.

  38. Annette Dannis says:

    Billy, your arguments are flawed…ears were designed by God to hear but there are people are deaf and can’t use their ears to hear. Some are crippled and can’t use their legs to walk…you get it… These are not anomalies – God intended for the world to be full of differences to teach us humility and acceptance of others. Same goes for those with same sex attractions. These have existed since the beginning of time and will continue to exist. They are not sin. They are a different way of being.

    Also, put a couple struggling with infertility on that same island and the result is the same as for the gay couple so the whole reproducing argument doesn’t work either. I have never ever heard a gay person advocate for EVERYONE in the world becoming gay and most gay people understand they will always be a minority. So there is no danger that children will stop being born. And, gay couples can provide very loving homes for children born to parents who are unable or unwilling to care for them. In this way gay families can be part of the positive societal structure.

    I think the reason that evangelical Christians keep losing this argument is that they are wrong. I say this as a Christian who once agreed with you, but have had my eyes opened by love.

  39. Truth Unites... and Divides says:

    Great post, Trevin!

    Have you (or anyone else) used the re-framing technique advocated in your post with some modicum of success? (Success being that the pro-GLBT advocate did not get to assert his or her frame as the basis from which to conduct the debate.)

    I have a feeling that if I were to try and flip the tables back on them about the necessity of repentance, they’d simply stick to their guns about “Everyone’s a sinner” and trying to get you to admit that.

  40. Trevin Wax says:

    There are multiple viewpoints being expressed in the comments stream for this blog. I am relieved (and somewhat surprised actually) to see the conversation stay thoughtful and civil when surrounding such a heated debate. Thanks for reading and responding.

  41. Hillary says:

    J. Random,

    You are AWESOME! So articulate and clear. I hope that you continue to speak truth on this topic. I am glad to be connected to you in cyberspace and the global community, because your post speaks my heart loud and clear.

    Thanks! Hillary

  42. Kirstin says:

    Rick, it is simply inflammatory to refer to people whose opinions differ from yours as “anti-gay Christians.”

  43. BT says:

    I only half agree with your second point. We do need to move away from being defined by our sexual attractions, but there are not enough traditionalists taking a good hard look at what is being translated as homosexuality in Scripture.

  44. Hillary-

    It is not inflammatory. It is honest. Most heterosexual Christians are anti-gay.

    They believe that a twice or thrice divorced and remarried heterosexual is moral and Godly while any gay or lesbian couple in committed partnership is wicked, rebellious and immoral.

    They are anti-gay because they refuse to read the clobber passages in context.

    They insist on ripping the clobber passages from their context of pagan idolatry and shrine prostitution and insisting, against the facts of history, that really, the Bible intended to condemn gays and lesbians.

    Now THAT is inflammatory.

  45. Brian says:

    I greatly appreciate your openness to having struggled with these desires. I would say that your experience with an abusive father is very similar to many people who struggle with the same issue of SSA. I really think that as a society has a breakdown of gender differences, we see a numbness occur when it comes to sexuality. So many broken homes and so many people being hurt by their parents causes us to seek approval or fulfillment from places other than Jesus. Everyone’s nature is sin, but each individuals environment or nurture is different and that is where we see the sin exposed.

  46. evan says:

    Jennifer Knapp has unfortunately betrayed everything she worked for. God has condemned homosexuality, and that is what Jennifer has chosen. It IS a choice. Bob Botsford is quite correct in his understanding of sin: although everyone sins, God expects us to strive not to sin. Jennifer suggests that since everyone sins, all sin is forgiven, so that justifies her homosexuality. Jennifer Knapp preaches a moral relativism, where sin is not serious, all sin is forgiven (so do whatever you want) and that Christian truth should exist only in individual spheres ie: what is true for one Christian congregation is not true for another.

  47. Travis says:

    What a relief to read such a balanced and commonsense approach to how Christians shouls deal with this issue. I especially agree with point 4. It sems that the church has really failed at being salt and light in this area…it is my hope that we can speak the truth in love to those dealing with homosexuality and that those people would feel comfortable sharing their struggle with us so that we can come along side and walk the journey with them. Excellent post.

  48. Gloria says:

    I was so glad I found this when I decided to do follow up on what happened. I saw it and I as astounded at the way Jennifer “Bucked” up and took on the air of offense with the Christian brother who was gently and patiently trying to bring the Word of God to the table. Which is what Christians should do. I was appalled by her catty remarks and dismissal of the word and him as a man of God. Ted Haggart did not help. I cringed when he spoke. But, thank you so much for your comments here. Thanks so much.

  49. Gloria says:

    PS.. I too believe Jennifer has betrayed her work, all those who have supported her music, and who enjoyed it. I think we will find that is all “Past tense” very quickly.

  50. Bob Bryan says:

    Trevin writes: “But this is the wrong way to frame this debate. We are not saying that some of us are worse sinners than others or that homosexuality is a worse sin than pride, stealing, etc. We are not categorized before God as ” better sinners” or “worse sinners.” Instead, we are either unrepentant or repentant.”

    Trevin- There are many Christians going to sit in many pews this weekend with ongoing sins in their life that are unrepented. (Not sure that is a word but let’s go with it) Yet, mainstream Christians treat homosexuals more harshly because it does not affect most conservative Christians. There are many sins that most of us struggle with that we keep doing but, yet, are repentant for. Pride, greed, anger, etc. But there are also many “Unrepentant” sins that are rampant in the Church today. Cheating on taxes by small businessmen taking cash daily. Husbands who treat wives with total lack of dignity and respect. Fathers and mothers who chase materialism with such fervor that their children suffer. These sins are ongoing and not repented for. Churches see them, know about them and never comment. These Christians choose to live these lives and do not intend to change.

    The problem I see with the homosexuality issue is the hypocrisy of the Christian church. (The church I love so dearly.) We have rallies and support politicians who bash gays.
    “Christian” politicians offer Constitutional Amendments to ban gay marriage. Yet, divorce is a sin in most cases and no one offered a Constitutional Amendment to ban it as well. Why? Because Christians don’t see divorce as a sin anymore.

    Why is divorce (not caused by adultery) not an unrepented sin? Why do we treat that differently in the Church?

    Pete Wilson wrote about Luke 18:9-11:
    “This is a classic look at religion which is all about comparing and condemning. Everyone creates a list just like this religious leader did. It’s a list of the sins you think are most appalling to God. And do you know what sins you think are most appalling to God? The ones you don’t struggle with, right? This is what religious institutions have done for centuries. A bunch of power hungry religious leaders get in a room and figure out which group of sins they are least likely to struggle with and then they declare that “list” as the posterboard sins their denomination is going to boycott, picket and vote against.

    He quotes Anne Lamott:
    “You can tell you have made God in your image when it turns out He hates all the same people you do.”

    I think homosexuality is a sin but to try to categorize it as worse than mine because of putting the “unrepentant” tag on it is unfortunate. I bet all of us can search our hearts and find unrepentant sins that we just live with. I hope that the mainstream Church doesn’t focus its efforts on one of mine or some politician doesn’t start raising money to fund a campaign for a constitutional amendment about it.

    I am thankful that I forgiven by the blood of Jesus by his grace following my repentance of sin. I am also thankful that I am forgiven for the unrepented sins that I commit daily and pray that the Holy Spirit continues to convict me about them.

    I pray for the hypocrisy of the Church.

    Bob

  51. Chris says:

    I am new to this blog and have been thinking about some of the ideas that have been shared, especially the comments by J. Random and Hillary.

    Just because people do not agree on what constitutes sin does not mean that they should not discuss this using Scripture. God’s word is very effective in bringing to light what is right and what isn’t. We may not agree at first, but over time prayer and God’s word will make things clear.

    It is not really true that nobody thinks it is shameful or unnatural for men to have long hair (or for women to have short hair like a man). Most people who believe this just feel that there are other issues that are even more serious.

    Just because something is allowed in certain churches does not mean that it is okay. So just because some churches allow women or divorced and remarried people to be ordained or hold leadership positions doesn’t mean that it is right.

    Just because Paul counseled people caught up in slavery on how to deal with it while it was legal doesn’t mean that those passages were ever meant to support slavery or that those passages (or any others) were written and only to be interpreted within the context of culture.

    No one is calling people of the same sex to abstain from deep friendships. People have had deep friendships with members of the same sex for centuries without becoming sexually involved. One of the things that poses a problem is developing a deep friendship with someone a person is attracted to when the circumstances are not right. This is why a woman who is married to a man should not develop deep friendships with other men, or a man should not develop deep friendships with married women.

    There are many straight people who face loneliness and live without sexual relationships. Some are divorced and will not remarry because they believe what the Bible says about remarriage. Some are singles who, for whatever reason, are not married. Some are really in love with someone who is already married. There are many who long for marriage and turn to the Lord in their loneliness without sinning, and if we do sin, Jesus is faithful to forgive us and change us—gay and straight alike.

    Moses allowed divorce at one point because of the people’s hardness of heart. Living together and divorce and remarriage are more acceptable now than they used to be, but that is not a good thing, and it will not be a good thing if gay marriage becomes acceptable either.

    Gays aren’t the only ones who struggle in life. We all struggle and stumble in many ways. Our human nature tends to make us think that our struggles are worse than those of others. None of us should minimize the battles or temptations of others. Everyone faces temptations and battles, whether they are sexual or not. The Bible is clear. Everyone sins. Everyone hurts. Everyone suffers.

    Whether a person has had sex outside of marriage, adulterous sex within marriage, divorce and remarriage, or a homosexual relationship—all are a distortion and an attack on the truth of marriage between a man and a woman as a model of the relationship of Christ and the Church.

    The scripture that says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body,” I Corinthians 6:18, applies to all types of sexual sin. And maybe that is why sexual sins seem to make people more upset than others.

    There are some excellent articles on marriage, including divorce and remarriage at http://www.desiringGod.org.

    Pastor John Piper speaks and writes very clearly and compassionately on these topics.

    There are many message and books to read, hear, or watch for free online. Others you can buy for whatever you can afford.

    I would especially recommend This Momentary Marriage (http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/books_bmm/bmm.pdf)

    Thank you for listening .

  52. JD says:

    Thank you for wading into the deep waters. You make some every good points on this difficult topic. I think the best point you raise is about repentance. A murder can’t murder someone every day and say they are following Christ simply because they call themselves a Christian. I might sin daily, but hopefully it is not always the same sin. We also need to realize that there are different consequences for various wrongs. You don’t punish all offenses the same way. I’m not saying that God has a special place in hell for the worst sinners, however while all sin does separate us from God, I believe that continual sin in the same area effectively moves us further from God.

  53. Billy says:

    Annette,
    The flaw is not in the argument, it is in the deviation from God’s purposes. All the things you mentioned, deafness, infertility, etc… are results of the entrance of sin into the human race with the sin of Adam. Adam and Eve were flawless and sinless, but chose to sin. You can see that after God cursed Eve, Adam and the serpent. The reality is that man was created, Male and Female not male and male or female and female or Male and beast, etc… Sin introduced deviations from God’s original creative purposes. Is it natural for a man to have sex with a dog? No. It can be done, but it is not natural. Even in the pre-sin earth, procreation between man and dog could not occur. This proves emphatically that it is unnatural and sinful. This is also true of homosexual activity. However, there is probably a small minority that would like to say this is normal as well. I do not think your new stance is one of love but rather deception and your desire to be accepted and liked. God’s ways are not our ways!

  54. Jay says:

    I think points 1 and 2 are helpful for understanding a traditional Christian response. Personally I do not subscribe to the traditionalist viewpoint, but I think they clarify what it is in a gracious and helpful way.

    I think your item #3 is inadequate, as there are other activities which were long-embraced by the church and then later rejected. Slavery, selling of indulgences, papal authority. To say that there is implicit judgmentalism is to say you can’t argue with the opinions of previous generations of Christians. Issues need to be examined on a case by case basis. Church tradition and history is already generally given greater significance in order to prevent ill-conceived change in the church.

    I do not think Item 4 is logically accurate, as Barry points out above. I agree with what Barry wrote above. Ms. Knapp has obviously made her choice and you disagree with her. If disagreeing with someone is disparaging to them, then you are denigrating Ms. Knapp in the same way you accuse her of doing. That said, I don’t think you are disparaging her, just that she is not doing that either.

  55. EM says:

    Why has it become more important that we win arguments than that we love? When does Jesus command us to win arguments? I don’t think God’s glory takes a hit when we can’t out-argue someone.

    I don’t see why we “must expose the arrogance and judgmentalism” of those with different views. This won’t sound like love but rather asserting that “we are right and you are worse than us because you judge more than we do.” Fight judgment with judgment?! This may be the world’s way, but doesn’t God tell us not to repay evil with evil? Did Jesus defend himself against the judgment cast on him?

    How then shall we live?

  56. Nathan Wandell says:

    One important distinction to make in this discussion (and perhaps someone has already made it) is that we’re not talking about love, but about sex.

    Many times, proponents of homosexuality will portray those who agree with Scripture as people who are seeking to oppose love. Statements will be made such as “Who are you to say who I can and can’t love?”

    Scripture places no restrictions on love. I am to love my neighbor as myself, regardless of what gender my neighbor is.

    Love does not equal sex. Even in a heterosexual relationship, a man cannot simply maintain a consistent sex life with his wife and call it love.

    “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

    Love means death. Just as Christ died to secure redemption for His enemies, true love means dying to ourselves in order to see Christ made famous.

  57. Andrew says:

    Wow! I’ve learned a lot by reading this article and the a couple of the comments.

    Rhonda- I especially loved reading your comment and thoughts. It really helps to see “behind the scenes” and read firsthand what I could do to say to a homosexual. My prayers are with you as you continue to step heavenward.

  58. To those comparing the vocalness of the church related to homosexuality and the relative quietness on other sins, I would say much of that difference is a reaction to the outside community. The homosexual community is vocally trying to normalize their behavior and call it good whereas there are no associations of divorcees trying to say their behavior is a normal, good thing. Most divorcees I know mourn the failure of their marriage and wish it could be different. They don’t go around celebrating it and saying it’s not a sin.

  59. Marty Summers says:

    My response to Larry:

    Larry, you asked some questions last night that I believe deserve better answers. 1) Is homosexuality a choice? 2) Can you be both gay and a Christian? 3) Is homosexuality a worse sin than any other sin? 4) Is God the Creator of sin?

    1) Is homosexuality a choice? A better question is does it matter whether homosexuality is biological or a choice? The answer is no. For example, a baby born to slave parents is still a slave accountable to his master even though he had no choice as to who his parents are. Slavery, of course, is wrong and is one reason why God likens our sinful condition to that of slaves in a slave-market. Christ came to free us of our bondage to sin and the devil but if we reject His grace He will still hold us accountable for our sinful condition. We tend to think accountability and responsibility are synonymous but they are not. Responsibility involves ability and therefore is a limited concept involving merit and reward whereas accountability is a universal term involving legalities and can be independent of choice.

    2) Can you be both gay and a Christian? A better question is can you be a Christian who struggles with homosexual desires? The answer is yes. All Christians struggle with sin. The point is the Holy Spirit changes those He indwells such that what was once acceptable no longer is and therefore we start resisting sinful urges. While a gene may not be classified a choice the decision to act upon it is. There is a difference between struggling with sin and embracing it. If one embraces a sin it indicates the Holy Spirit is not in them and therefore that person does not belong to God and if he dies in that condition will not spend eternity with God.

    3) Is homosexuality a worse sin than any other sin? A better question is do some sins have worse consequences than others? The answer is yes. Obviously murder takes a non-replaceable life whereas theft merely takes a replaceable object. What makes the consequences of homosexuality worse than others is that God says in Romans chapter one He gives those who embrace such a lifestyle up to a reprobate mind. If a person and/or a nation embrace such a lifestyle they will no longer experience God’s blessing and guidance; but, rather will be left to their own imagination.

    4) Is God the Creator of sin? A better question is how could a perfect God create free-willed beings like Himself and impart to them perfect knowledge and understanding of sin without being the Author of it? Perhaps an even more important question would be if God is going to create multiple free-willed beings then what is the root of all sin that He would obviously have to deal with? The answer to this question is self-centered pride. Self-centered pride is the result of two wills colliding and one being hurting another to get their desires satisfied. The answer to the first question involves two parts. The first is to create a being like Lucifer who was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty but who let his wisdom get corrupted by comparing himself to God and desiring the glory due God alone. Thus the perfect created being, Lucifer, fell and became the devil of his own accord. The second part would be to create the perfect prototype environment in which He could place humanity for the express purpose of letting sin destroy it. Adam and Eve were created righteous and, note, without the knowledge of sin thus the prohibition. God, in His wisdom, permitted the devil to deceive Eve and thus thrust all her offspring into sin in order to impart the perfect knowledge and understanding of sin and its consequences without being the Author of it. God is simply in the process of creating perfect free-willed beings like Himself by exterminating the self-centered sin of pride; a sin which He cannot be blamed for.

  60. Rob Denham says:

    My Response to Marty:
    I would suggest a closer look at Romans 1. I disagree that it says that those who take on the lifestyle of homosexuality then receive the consequences of a reprobate mind. Rather, the apostle Paul says that it is those who refuse to acknowledge God & worship him, to those people God gives them over in the sinful desires of their hearts, to do what they themselves desire. This includes men & women lusting after each other (verses 26-27) but it also includes lust for the opposite sex (v24).
    Then v28 reinforces that it is not the homosexual acts but the rejection of God that leads to a reprobate (or depraved) mind. & the consequences of that are seen so prevalently throughout many societies, even in those where homosexuality is not encouraged.
    To me, Romans 1 says all sin flows from rejection of God, and that when it becomes dominantly unrepentant in society, then God gives us over to worse and worse things.
    Our response should always be to pray for repentance, to pray for forgiveness, to tell people of Jesus, & to ask God for mercy, so that His Spirit changes more of people’s hearts so they will believe & God will stop giving us over to the sinful desires of our hearts. Good Lord, deliver us.

  61. Good post Trevin, this is a short post I wrote after seeing the King interview(1436) COMMON CONSENSUS- The last few months believers from various philosophical/theological backgrounds have been debating various issues and there has been some good give and take in the process. Last night I caught a Larry King interview with Jennifer Knapp, the Christian singer who has announced she is a lesbian; once again you can read the debate raging in the blogosphere. Often times Christians can get a little confused when they see intellectuals debating things from opposite sides, the question comes up ‘if these learned men/women have sincere differences, then I guess that means there is no final word on anything’ and that’s where the Catholic apologists jump in and say ‘see, we have the magisterium [the teaching authority of the church] and that’s the answer’. To be honest, I have heard certain Catholic apologists use this argument a few too many times against a straw man; some have said that Protestants have a thousand beliefs on just about every subject, so that’s how you know they can’t be right. Actually most believers worldwide have come to a consensus on the main things, the things that matter. Now I do understand that there are still areas where we all fall short in our thinking, but there has been a fairly stable stream of truth coming down to us thru out the centuries. We can often look back and see how certain generations saw clearly in one area, yet might have had a blind spot in another. Then a little further down the road they correct that area, and other following generations repeat the pattern. Let me hit on just one example that I have seen a lot; as someone who likes to read/study good theology, listening to reformed and orthodox thinkers, reading the current scholars of the day, I have found that most of them come to the table with a certain view of church [this study is called ecclesiology] that is limited in perspective. They have usually been influenced by their background [as we all are] and they might have thought long and hard about many theological issues [the sovereignty of God, apologetics, etc.] but when challenged in some way [like a popular book on church government] they usually resort to arguments that are common across the spectrum, but limited in view. I don’t know how many times I have heard believers defend a certain form of church and tithing by going to the famous passage in the book of Malachi ‘bring all the tithes into the storehouse’ but yet have never really given serious thought to what they actually mean by applying this scripture to the New Testament church, they usually simply see storehouse as ‘the church building’. Now, it takes very little time to do a good study of this passage and see that this is a very limited view of the passage. And many scholarly men have done extensive study in the area of ecclesiology and these men have truly seen things that for the most part the other groups haven’t yet seen. But in time, as generations roll on, these realities of God eventually seep into the Christian populace at large. The problem is we all need lots of grace during the process; I have learned much good from many theologians who I know don’t fully see the truth in every area, yet many who agree with me on the nature of the church would never give the time of day to other scholars who have limited views of the ecclesia. So these will never benefit from the broader insights of the world wide Body of Christ, they only listen to those directly related to their own view of the church. Many of these believers will master the art of ecclesiology, to the degree where it can become an unbalanced focus, reading too much into the proper way to ‘do church’. I only share this as one example, you can find things like this all over the Christian landscape. But overall the Christian church has arrived at truth, has had real consensus on the major things. Yes, you will have debates about lots of stuff, but we shouldn’t resign ourselves to the hopeless excuse of ‘well, everybody has their own interpretation of the bible’ sort of like saying ‘you believe your way and I’ll believe mine’. No, this really doesn’t work in the long run. We need grace when dealing with each other, especially an issue like when a believer comes out and is dealing with sexual identity issues; we need to not set these individuals up as targets, but at the same time deal honestly with what the scriptures teach [yes, the bible is pretty consistent on the issue]. At the end of the day we can, and do arrive at a common consensus most of the times, it’s important that believers know this so they don’t fall into a snare of thinking that everyone has their own view of what the bible says- to be honest this really isn’t the case.

  62. Danny says:

    We all need to repent of our anger. Knapp’s music has a tone of anger and our distaste has the same tone.

  63. Trevin Wax says:

    I am still glad to see the civil tone that has pervaded this discussion.

    But let’s keep our comments somewhat brief, so that those who are subscribed to the comments stream will not be inundated with long commentaries.

  64. Phil says:

    I don’t know if it is true to say that we don’t think homosexuality is worse than other sins. We’d like to think we don’t because we know the theology, but the reality is that out of the most recent ten articles I see on this blog, 7 of them have no comments and two have one comment. The article about how to win a debate about homosexuality however – that one has 63 comments as I write.

    Lets be honest. We have taught that the sin of the archetype city of evil Sodom (sodomy) which so broke God’s heart that he was moved to act in such an incredible way was homosexuality. We have taught it despite the fact that the Bible says:

    “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49)

    As long as we have a 63 to 1 passion about stopping homosexuals from sinning rather than stopping ourselves from being arrogant, overfed and unconcerned in this world where the difference between rich and poor is greater than it ever has been, homosexuals are going to feel judged by us.

    We are judgemental and we need to repent. After we do, sinners will be drawn to us like they were to Jesus, rather than repelled as they were by the Pharisees.

  65. Believer says:

    Excellent points, but positionally, Trevin violates his own premise of reforming the debate by characterizing true Christianity as “traditionalist”. Now we have simply non-traditionalists against traditionalists vs Biblical vs non-Biblical. Most people will automatically side with the “cool” and “hip” idea of being non-traditional vs the stodgey traditional boring view of our parents, etc. I don’t give a whit what your “tradition” is vs what the clear truth of the Bible is. The Word has power on its own without us sinful peabrain humans thinking we must reframe it to be more “comfortable” to non-believers. Scripture is clear, no valid debate can stand as to its position on homosexuality, so we shouldn’t tiptoe around the fact that we follow God’s Word, period. This takes all “judgemental” accusations out of the conversation; we follow the Bible, no personal opinions, bias, etc. involved.
    The other points in the article are very well made & well positioned; thanks Trevis!

  66. Steve Miller says:

    I think Jennifer is setting herself up for a fall. Even if she believes homosexuality is not explicitly stated as a sin she has to acknowledge the Bible forbids sex outside of marriage, sex before marriage is also clearly forbidden, and God states in Genesis 2:24 that marriage is between a single man and a single woman who then become one flesh. At some point she is going to be tempted to enter into sexual relations with her lesbian partner at that point gay or not she has become a fornicator-which everyone agrees is Biblically a sin. The cool thing is no matter what we are caught up in God pursues us while we are still caught in sin, woos us to love him, and then helps us see sin for what it is so we can leave it behind for Him.

    No one is telling her she can’t love her friend-it is when she chooses to cross the line from love to romantic sexual expressions which God forbids.

  67. dora says:

    this is so helpful, thank you!

  68. K says:

    I agree Alex. This entire situation is troubling to me as i seek to die to my desires every day, and stay on the path that God has called me to, as a mother and wife to a godly man. To follow the desires of my heart would be so nice. I am actually a little jealous of the easy road Jennifer has taken, as well as Ray Boltz. The difference is, they have not been in a community of believers who speak truth in love. I have. It has made all the difference. Thanks and a shout out to all of you who love people where they are at, but don’t let them stay in the muck and mire. Real love helps people get out of that place, not tell them they are welcome to stay there. True love does what is best for the other person. Homosexual love entraps the lover in a co-dependent, unhealthy relationship that keeps them from truly walking intimately with God. It is the sacrificial trust factor that brings me closest to God, submitting when it hurts. It is a Lordship issue. Who is really calling the shots? Who is in the driver’s seat? Who is steering our lives? If it’s us, we might end up in a ditch, because we really can’t see the end results of our actions. God does. He knows what is best. We must trust His ways are higher than ours.

  69. As a stepfamily mediator and shared-parenting strategist, I recently dealt with this issue for I could not support a lesbian couple leading their stepfamily. I ended up leaving the Facebook group venue I was on and started Braided Families Stepfamily Group. To read my post: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1270436181&v=app_2347471856&ref=profile#!/note.php?note_id=103898302986779 I welcome your insights through StepfamilySystems.com contact page.

  70. Jules says:

    Rhonda T. K., Chris and Marty Summers,

    Reading your comments have been very encouraging to me especially the comment by Rhonda. I am a married heterosexual Christian who also suffers from same-sex attraction. I do believe that Trevin is right in saying that despite the attraction, we should not be defined by our sexual urges. I have chosen not to indulge in this attraction but it is still something I struggle with. So to read your comment, Rhonda, has been helpful.

  71. Greg Gibson says:

    Trevin, this is my first venture to your blog and I like what I see. Great job of articulating what so many of us want to say, yet do not have the uncanny ability to put it on paper (or in this case a screen). I will make excursions back often!

  72. Rhonda says:

    Phil, You forgot the rest of why Sodom and Gommorah was destroyed- You did not include verse 50.
    Ezekial 16: 49-50 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. Verse 50: They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

    It’s clear that those detestable things were sexual perversion because of the other passages in the Bible about Sodom.
    When we rebel, that is what happens. We become arrogant, lazy, and don’t care about the poor and become proud and commit detestable acts. Our world now is obsessed with sex.(I could go into a lot about how we treat the poor, and it’s not how you might think. Too many are taken advantage of by the government to stay in poverty).
    Pride is a word used in the homosexual community a lot.

    This is what happens when we rebel:

    1 Samuel 15:23-For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.

    These passages speak of the sexual sin of Sodom:
    Genesis 19:4-5: But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

    (all the men of Sodom wanted to engage in homosexual acts)

    6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

    9 “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

    Look at how the men got angry when they didn’t like being “judged.” Similar to today where people get angry when they want to live in sin, but there seems to be more anger in with homosexuals. Rebellion does that to a person. Lot didn’t make a good choice either by offering his daughters as a subsitute, but in oriental hosptiality he considered that the “lesser of two evils.”

    I didn’t like it no matter how kind and loving a person was to me when I was in the midst of my homosexual behavior. I always saw it as a threat to my rebellion. I lashed out and got angry.

    Here is another passage in the NT about Sodom and Gomorrah. Once again it’s clear that sexual perversity was the main issue of these cities.
    Jude 1:7: And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.

    Note: Sorry Trevin for the long comments. I believed I needed to make add this.

  73. Rhonda says:

    I wanted to say thanks to the replies, encouragement and prayers offered I received in reference to my first comment. They mean a lot to me. God Bless!

  74. Mark C says:

    As the author of a book on same-sex marriage, “Same-Sex Marriage: Is It Really The Same?” I agree with your comments and insights. I would just add that we need to be more unapologetic for the truth. I think most conservatives try so hard to be conciliatory that they end up looking like they are embarrassed by implications of the truth. If you have ever watched John MacArthur when he is on Larry King Live, he is kind but firm in his stance. He makes no apology for the word of God. Neither should we.

    Also, when gay activists use false analogies like slavery and treatment of women as examples of how the church got it wrong in the past, we need to point out these are very distant analogies with no real bearing on homosexuality. No one was ever commanded to have slaves nor is there a prohibition about being a woman. But Scripture is consistent throughout in its claims about the proscription against various sexual vices. So the analogies we should use when dealing with pro-gay advocates should relate to incest, fornication, rape, and adultery. Even the pedophile can claim some measure of orientation in his desire for children. But society frowns on that, why?

    In the end, we all need to guard our own heterosexual marriage relationships and make them what God wants them to be. The Ephesians 5 :22-32 template applies here. This could be a powerful witness to those promoting the same-sex lifestyle.

  75. Phil says:

    Hi Rhonda,

    well done for what you’ve achieved, it’s a great thing to see the way God can heal a person.

    You have no argument with me that one of the sins of Sodom was sexual immorality, but with respect I think you’ve missed my point. I quoted the first verse only because that is the primary sin God lists, but we relegate it to a side issue. The main issue according to scripture was one of social justice and a lack of compassion; their “detestable things” resulted from that state of mind. Isaiah 1 gives the same priority:

    10 Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom; listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!
    11 “The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
    12 When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts?
    13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your evil assemblies.
    14 Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them.
    15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood;
    16 wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong,
    17 learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

    God says that he does not want our worship unless we rectify these issues of social justice, but instead we skip these verses and focus on those issues that represent the sins of a few.

    I disagree that the ‘detestable things’ refer only to sexual perversion. We are not told that and should not read it into the passage. They no doubt include sexual immorality as you have shown from your references, but are not limited to it. Making that the focus when the Bible does not is my issue.

    The Genesis passage also does not just describe homosexuality. The words “We’ll treat you worse than them” indicate that this was no misguided love intended, they wanted to rape the men. They were not angry because they felt judged but because Lot was between them and their prey.

    Now I have been yelled at by angry homosexuals and I understand the anger you’re talking about. I agree, it seems to be part of the issue. I wonder though considering the prevalence of homosexuality in Jesus’ time why Jesus’ only confrontations were with religious leaders looking down on ‘sinners’, but not the sinners themselves?

    Is it not a valid observation that there has been a much stronger response to this topic than to other issues on this blog which are also important? Given that observation and the fact that those priorities reflect more the priorities of the Pharisees than those given by God, is it not surprising why there is such anger and defensiveness toward Christians? The wealthy west takes 14 times as much money from the third world in unfair trade as it gives in aid, yet the ‘Religious Right’ campaign for tax cuts more for than feeding the hungry, pleading the case of the widow etc. Is that not arrogant, overfed and unconcerned? Is it not then an infuriating act to try to refocus the blame on a small fringe part of society?

    I don’t suggest that this will fix the problem, what I am saying is that our hypocrisy is unnecessarily making things worse.

  76. John says:

    While I appreciate some of the points this blog entry makes, I think the author starts from a false premise.

    We are not all sinners. Christians are not sinners. Sinners are not Christians. God calls us to live a life free from sin. Romans 6:15 What then, shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!

    The homosexual crowd wins this argument because most people who profess Christianity today also profess, proudly, it seems, to be sinners as well.

    I believe, and scrupture bears out, that God can do such a transforming work of grace in a person’s life that, with the Spirit of God living within a person, that that person NEED NOT sin.

    Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

  77. Phil says:

    John,
    this is a pretty fundamental point. Romans 6:15 does not say that Christians don’t sin, it says that grace is not an excuse to sin. There is a difference. In the same way, when Paul says that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness, he is saying that sin does not own us, not that we never sin any more. That becomes clear when you hear him describe his own desperate struggle with sin in the next chapter of Romans (ch 7:15-24).

    Not only was Paul a sinner, but so were Peter, Barnabas and the rest of the early Jewish Christians. Paul describes their ‘hypocrisy’ in Galatians 2:11-13.

    John considers this such an important fact that he says: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John1:8), and “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (vs 10).

    This is the reason why Jesus was so infuriated with the Pharisees – they had re-defined sin into a list of things that they could successfully avoid and were therefore able to distinguish themselves from the ‘sinners’. A follower of Jesus is acutely aware of the fact that their entire nature is geared toward self interest rather than love. It is the reason why Christians can wholeheartedly know that they are no better than anyone else, but that their worth comes from God’s work.

  78. John says:

    Phil,

    In Romans 7, Paul is talking about his life BEFORE conversion.

    The Calvinists forget the last verse of that chapter, when Paul asks, “Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” There is the answer! We can be delivered from the inner struggle through Jesus Christ!

    We can, we CAN be delivered FROM sin! Thank God! Not delivered to live any longer IN sin, but to be set free FROM sin!

    Look, if a Christian goes into the public arena to argue against homosexuality, and freely admits to ALSO being a sinner, they lose the argument EVERY time.

    If a Christian were to have that same discussion while proclaiming that they have been set free from sin, no longer to live therin, then they may be able to share Jesus and His redemptive power.

    It is a sad religion that has Jesus saving us just to leave us in the state (sinning) that He found us. Much better it is to declare to the world that Jesus can make a change in our status! I moved from one column to the next when Jesus saved me. I went from being a sinner to being a Christian. The two are mutually exclusive. You cannot be both!

  79. Marty Summers says:

    John,

    If I may add my two cents to the debate between you and Phil.

    My first cent may be a duh thing but I’d say most Protestants believe salvation is in three phases consisting of Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. Justification is being free from the penalty of sin which is a past tense action. Sanctification is being free from the power of sin which is a present tense action. Glorification is being free from the presence of sin which is a future tense action.

    My second cent is a bit more controversial and perhaps a bit more pertinent to the debate. It has to do with 1Jn 3:9 which says “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” So how do we interpret “cannot sin”? I know most will say that means we will not practice sin but I don’t find that satisfying. So I say it means we have been freed from the law (see Rom 8; Col 2;14) such that in Christ we cannot be held legally liable for breaking something we are not bound by. In other words in the tribunal on high even as we speak I agree with you. But that is not to say the law doesn’t still exist and that it isn’t still holy, just, and good (Rom 7:12). What it does mean is that practicially speaking and experientially speaking while still in the flesh we do break the law all time and we do while being sanctified suffer its temporal consequences all the time. In that point I agree with Phil and 1Jn 1:8-10.

    We will not be completely sinless until this life is over and we are glorified. We are both sinner and saint at the exact same time while alive in this world. Thus we can empathize with all fallen humanity while not coming across as hypocritical. God’s grace should shine all the more gloriously as He forgiveness us continually.

  80. phil says:

    John,

    I have to say that I grew up in a Calvinist church and the reading of chapter 7 always went to vs 25 as the climax and the focus of the chapter, so I can’t agree that they do ignore that verse. More to the point though, they also don’t ignore the verses before.

    It is clear as you read Paul’s lament that he is talking about the present, not the past:

    (v18) “I know that nothing good lives in me” – ‘lives’ is present tense.

    “I have the desire to do what is good but I cannot carry it out” – ‘have’ is present tense.

    (v22) “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…” – something that only happens when you have already been transformed by the renewing of your mind.

    So what is the “body of death” that Jesus delivers him from? Even though in chapter 6 he says that we are now slaves to righteousness rather than slaves to sin, in chapter 7 he goes back to saying he is in practice still a slave to sin (vs 23, 25). Jesus has made him a slave to righteousness in his mind (vs 25, past tense), but will rescue him (future tense) from the physical body of death. The freedom he has now is that his mind has been set free – part of sanctification that Marty has described. With his mind free, the Spirit will gradually transform him, but he will not be free of sin until he meets Jesus face to face.

    Think through the implications of having to say Christians are sin free already. You will never apologise to your wife or kids again, because you never did anything wrong. To admit that you did something wrong is to say that you are not a Christian. In any interaction, you will always be right and anyone else wrong. If you ever slip up and exaggerate something, glance twice at a pretty woman or fail to give everything in your power to care for the poor and disadvantaged, you have two options – either say that you were never a Christian after all or deny that it happened and justify it. Christian leaders are always right or they are pretend Christians. South African Apartheid was right because the Church introduced it. All of those good Christian people that built America on slavery were right to do so. Your entire salvation now hinges on being able to say that you don’t sin; one sin and you’re off to hell. Isn’t that back to works rather than grace?

    It’s interesting, because one lesbian girl that I knew since her childhood grew up with a father that did exactly that. He was always right and she therefore always wrong. Her choice to become a lesbian was an expression of her rage and frustration against her father, she did the thing that she thought would shame him the most because there was no other way she could get him to listen. I don’t think that saying we are sinless – always right and therefore better than everyone else is the best way to bridge gaps and fulfill the ministry of reconciliation we’ve been given. I also don’t think it’s supported by scripture.

  81. Boris says:

    You make a good point about reframing the discussion to talk about repentance. However I can see another problem that will arise from this. Most gay Christians don’t believe homosexuality is sinful. How can they repent from something they don’t think is a sin?

    Re: John – “We are not all sinners.”

    I find your post misleading. Christians are no longer “sinners” as you say, but that doesn’t mean we stop sinning entirely. It would be impossible and foolish to think we could. Yes, Jesus frees us from sin and death, but the transforming work is not like a light switch. It’s a gradual process which is not completed until we are taken from this world. Paul is clear in Romans 7 about this. Paul was writing about his life as a Christian, not before conversion. Why would he claim “it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me” if he was not yet converted? It would not make sense

    It’s really quite simple. Did YOU sin today John? Even one little sinful thought or deed? Any anger, lust, greed or pride? If you answer no, then add lying to the list as well :)

  82. Marty Summers says:

    I believe Boris is hitting the nail on the head. God calls His people to repent of their sins (2Chr 7:14). That’s the process of sanctification. Jesus didn’t tell the woman caught in adultery to repent and then come to Him and He would accept her. But rather He went to her and freed her of her condemnation and then empowered and commanded her to go and sin no more. A sinner cannot repent until the Holy Spirit quickens them, indwells them, and enables them to repent. As Boris said you can’t repent of something you don’t see as being wrong.

  83. Melissa says:

    Rhonda T. K.’s post on Apr 27, 2010 was by far the best one in this section. Precise,to the point, sharing her own struggle, staying on the topic and so touching! A real testimony of Jesus Christ’s redemption power! Well done my sister. I was thinking myself that Knapp has a less definition of what path she follows (she doesn’t acknowledge Jesus Christ as her personal Savior here anymore). She comes off pretty worldly in her point of view. God is love but He is holy. She should study the Scriptures in the original languages, but she may have already rejected any further intention of study. I don’t know.

    It can be hard to share the Gospel someetimes with homosexuals as there are already so many deep wounds there by immature fire-breathing Christians. I though find that if I just love them and yet make a stand softly (not going to the wedding of one couple which was a very hard decision in my flesh…it honestly hurt to make)…but being there whenever they need someone. That seems to bring out conversations about Christianity, since I am seen as a “safe Christian”, I won’t go off on them. Standing firm in the Word, trying to be gentle with them, caring for them.

    Okay, stopping here now as I am wanting to try to keep this short.

    God bless. +

  84. No surprise here says:

    Wow, a bunch of Christians getting together on a blog and bashing gays. How shocking.

  85. Heather says:

    Trevin- great article.

    I’m increasingly convinced that we need to call apologists of the culture on how their concepts of human flourishing and knowledge are inherited from an incoherant mish-mash of Modernist and Romanticist traditions. The average person takes for granted, as part of the inherited “common sense”, that it is sensible to be suspiscous of authority and tradition as sources of knowledge (obscuring how anti-traditionalism is itself a tradition with authorities), and credulity that our desires reveal our pure, true “selves.” Part of the reason people can’t “hear” a Christian witness is because it’s deflected from a framework that is not reflectively or responsibly held but seems to be self-evidently the case to those who see the world through it.

    One of the ways that we encourage people within the dominant North American culture to be responsible for their frameworks is to challenge them on the traditions that shape their key vocabulary for naming what’s important in their lives. To that end, I would propose a very slight modification to a statement in your article: “Our goal is not authenticity.”

    We give up terms too easily rather than challenge and hold people responsible for the tacit theologies that are behind them. Words like “authenticity”, “happiness”, “freedom”, “doubt”, “faith,” “reason”, etc. are placeholders in a vision of human flourishing and maturity that is constructed radically new ways from the 16th century onward. You gave a great defition of what authenticity looks like within a Christian understanding of reality when you stated that our goal “…is to be true to the self that is redeemed, transformed by the gospel and the power of the Spirit, under the authority of God’s Word.” I think it should be directly proposed as a rival goal of what authenticity looks like and challenge the “self-evident” shape of the popular construction of “authenticity”.

    If we first reveal that the popular understanding of “authenticity” in our culture is from a rival faith tradition rather than a neutral (non-judgemental) one, we can challenge the priveleged terms of a framework that decides ahead of time who wins the “argument.” This involves a responsibility on the part of Christians to become more informed about cultural history, particularly the shifts brought about by the Enlightenment and Romanticism in our understandings of how knowledge works and in what being fully human looks like. Tim Keller does a great job on this, particularly in “Reason for God”. Esther Lightcap book, “Longing to Know: Philosophy of Knowledge for Ordinary People” is must read for sorting through our confusion about the nature of faith, reason, doubt and knowledge, as is the late Lesslie Newbigin’s “Proper Confidence: Faith and Doubt in Christian Discipleship”. Dale Kuehne’s recent “Sex and the iWorld: Rethinking Relationships Beyond and Age of Individualism” directly relates directly to the discussion of sexuality, desire and authenticity. “On Being Authentic” by Charles Guignon provides an accesible and lucid history of authenticity in our culture and some helpful critiques that Christians can get behind, though his constructive proposals aren’t very satisfying.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your work! Blessings-Heather

  86. Heather says:

    Correction: “Esther Lightcap book” should be “Esther Lightcap Meek’s book.”

  87. L.N.Newmsn says:

    Rhonda, It truly is encouraging to know that the Lord not only forgave your sin but delivered you from it. There are a lot of theological persuasions presented in these posts…but we have for our final authority, the Word of God. When I was young and living in sin, (not homosexual) my dear aunt quoted a verse to me that never left me mind…echoed in my empty heart, as a matter of fact. She said, Do you not know that fornicators and adulteres will not have any inheritance in the kingdom of God? (from 1 Corinthians 6:9) In fact, the exact quote says, “Be not deceived.”
    That is where the main point of anyone caught up in sin lives…blinded to their sin and their need to repent and receive the Savior. He alone can deliver us from sin…no one can work their way out of it. Thank God, He still opens blinded eyes to His Truth…for He is Truth.
    I have a good friend who has been homosexual most of her life but is trying to “come out” and I pray for her, befriend her…but I faithfully give her the Word of God. It is a two-edged sword and can pierce into her heart, where my words would never penetrate. I have great faith that she will be won…but it will be because the Word of God does it…not my feeble attemtps. Pray changed me…I had a praying mother, father, aunts and Godly friends that saw me struggle with immorality for years!! One day, God opened my eyes and I cried out for His forgiveness. That was 30 plus years ago…and the journey grows sweeter each day…and, as one person posted here, we must walk in holiness to please God. He…enables us to do that, daily cleansing us and giving us strength to be strong and established in his Word. Blessisng to you, dear. Be strong. L.N.

  88. ej says:

    Two consenting adults choosing to love each other… and it’s this big of a problem. If homosexuality threatens the sanctity of marriage, I challenge us to fight for legislation to criminalize divorce.

  89. Melissa says:

    ej, legalization of marriage won’t change the demonization of those who take the bible as inerrant. Your post is a perfect example. Are you even aware that divorce and remarriage is the hugely debated topic in Christian circles? Oh, and I have been celibate for 13 years now. According to Jennifer Knapp, her words, I am “a big loser”.

  90. Becky says:

    Thank You so much…I heard you today on the Chris Fabry show…this is so helpful. I have two daughters living in sexual sin…homosexuality…it was so good to hear what you had to say. The two important things I came away with is Do you recognize homosexuality as sin and that you need to repent…and that homosexual attraction is temptation and we choose to give in to this temptation…keep talking about this issue Trevin…you did a great job.

  91. Karen Booth says:

    J. Random writes:

    “The (Evangelical Christian) Barna study on ex-gay programs reported a deplorable “success” rate for attempts to change or stay celibate. The reality is that Christians who struggle with SSA are pretty miserable compared to those who can reconcile their sexuality and their faith and live out both as a whole person.”

    As far as I know, Barna has never done a study on ex-gay programs. J. Random might have it confused with the study done by Mark Yarhouse and Stanton Jones, an update of which was presented at the 2009 meeting of the American Psychological Association.

    Jones and Yarhouse studied men and women who had sought help through ministry programs related to one specific organization – Exodus International. They did statistical sampling at years 3 and 6 of the study and made comparisons.

    In a nutshell, it was about 50/50 regarding success and failure. On the success side, 23% reported what they considered a successful shift in orientation at year 6, up from 15% at year 3. 30% reported successful maintenance of chastity, up from 23%.

    On the “failure” side, fewer folk decided to continue in the programs – 16% at year 6, down from 29% at year 3. More people opted out to embrace a gay identity – 20%, up from 8%. And more people were confused – 5%, up from 4%.

    Over all, even those that didn’t consider their attempts at change to be successful reported enhanced psychological well-being as a result.

    J and Y were surprised by at least two of their findings: one, that the group showing the most significant change was the “Truly Gay” – those men and women who had previously experienced little to no heterosexual attraction or behavior, and two, that movement away from homosexual orientation seemed to be a different process than movement toward heterosexual orientation.

    You can read the full update online at http://wthrockmorton.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Jones-and-Yarhouse-Final.pdf.

    So, what does this all mean for Christians? It means that sexual sanctification may take a while and that it isn’t easy. But then, we already knew that, didn’t we?

  92. Mr. Man says:

    Marty Summers,

    I agree with you completely. I have always held the understanding that we are both constantly and consistently sinning and saved. We are at all time separated from God through sin and welcomed by God through Grace.

    I am always frustrated with why Homosexuality is debated so strongly when there are far more heterosexuals in the church watching pornography, abusing their spouses and children, committing physical adultery…etc etc.

    Think back to many other Christian artists who have committed adultery. Amy Grant being one that comes to mind more specifically. Although she has not recommitted her original marriage to her first husband, we look the other way and continue to buy her records with no problem. Christians have decided she is saved by Grace all the while still sinning by being with her second husband. The hypocrisy sickens me.

    As Christians we have a major issue with pride that must be addressed far more swiftly and seriously than any debate over Homosexuality. I think we must pray for ourselves and beg God for our forgiveness and repent of our pride every day and at all times. When we can humbly address our own issues, we can more humbly address other issues of sin.

  93. Jennifer says:

    Absolutely loved this post!!!!!

  94. Sammy Sullivan says:

    Yeah, those are some options. The other being, of course, that you are wrong.

  95. Anonymous says:

    I believe that part of our inheritance in Christ is freedom (“sin shall not be your master, for you are not under law, but under grace”), so I would never allow a brother or sister struggling with homosexuality to settle for defeat. I’m thinking about it in the context of alcoholism, for example. “Can someone be an alcoholic and be a Christian?” I think the obvious answer is yes. They may be struggling with addiction and longing for freedom, but God doesn’t kick them out of the kingdom temporarily until they find total victory over it. 2 Cor. 5:21 teaches us that His imputed righteousness covers us (ALL of us) while the weaknesses of our sin nature are being exposed and defeated. None of us can claim to have the absence of sin. So how do we harmonize the presence of sin with the promise of salvation when we know that “the wages of sin is death”? We trust in the cross and that grace redeems us from the curse WHILE we are being sanctified.

    To those who can’t seem to rid themselves of homosexual desires, I would remind all of us that God, in His wisdom, sometimes allows “a thorn in the flesh” to teach us His sufficient grace. In the same way that someone who struggles with rage should not give in to the impulse to kill, the one struggling with homosexuality shouldn’t feel permission to practice a gay lifestyle simply because the presence of desire remains. It needs to be seen as a tool to drive us toward trusting God and learning the great lesson of “abiding” (John 15): obeying in the absence of feelings. That one should practice abstinence, let some brothers/sisters know about the struggle, remember that there is no condemnation in Christ, and cease to make their struggle the center of their lives.

  96. Jay says:

    I think you may have missed all of the article. The preacher doesn’t have the opinion that homosexuality is a sin. GOD is who deemed it as sinful. This preacher is using the living word of God, the Bible. He’s not spouting off his thoughts about the situation. The Bible says lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, homosexuality, and other actions are sinful. The only way to be forgiven of these sins is to put your faith in Christ Jesus and repent! (Stop doing what you’re doing if it isn’t according to God’s word.) Knapp is questioning God’s word. If she doesn’t believe it, then she needs to stop referring to herself as a Christian. (That just doesn’t make sense.) If she wants to be in God’s family, faith in Jesus and repentence are the only way. I hope she chooses that path and I hope you do too.

  97. Jen says:

    My only question is why do we need to continue?

    Jesus told his followers that when they entered a city and the people rejected the things they were teaching to kick the dust off their sandals and move on.

    If the “homosexual city” is rejecting the things you teach, why is there a continued committment to preach at these people. (I’m thinking more of the protesting outside of concerts and events, not individual programs that people choose to enter).

    I am a homosexual of faith and that is all I will say regarding me. I have no problem with people that desire to supress their feelings. I have gone through various attempts of change myself, it’s not easy and it doesn’t always work. Yes, sometimes it is down right impossible and the best you can hope for is celebacy (not easy either). I became depressed thinking that I would never be good enough.

    If God loves no matter what, then why would a transformative process be so difficult? If a muslim converts to Christianity, he/she may lose their family and be subjected to threats depending upon the traditions of their family. I can understand this fear. For me, it was the support of my family that made it the hardest. For some reason, the prayer, the memorization, the faux dates with men, didn’t help at all.

    The final conclusion I drew was that God does indeed hate me and not want me with Him because He will not let me change.

  98. Chris says:

    Jen, God does not hate you because your attempt to change is more difficult than others.

    He loved you and died for you before you changed, and he loves you still. We cannot compare ourselves to others and make assumptions because we do not always know why God is doing (or seems not to be doing) things a certain way.

    The believers prayed for James in the book of Acts, and he was martyred. They prayed for Peter and he was miraculously rescued. Jesus healed a blind man who saw instantly. At another time he healed a blind man who did not see clearly instantly, but unclearly so that people looked like trees at first.

    Job’s friends thought that God was punishing him for something he did wrong, when in fact, Job went through the struggles that he did because of the things he was not doing wrong.

    Over the years I have found that I should not wait until I have overcome everything to feel acceptable to Jesus. I belong to him already and the key to the Christian life is not giving up–not matter what.

  99. Derek says:

    Excellent point Chris! God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) We cannot always know why we go through what we go through, but we can know that God has a purpose for all that he allows us to go through. Paul prayed several times for God to remove the thorn in his flesh, but Jesus answered him, my grace is sufficient. God will use the trials and struggles, the suffering and the pain to be a refining fire, purifying us and transforming us into the image of Christ. You must allow God to work in your life though, because if you fight what God is doing, it will eventually break you.

    Jen, I struggle with thoughts about women allot. I used to be addicted to pornography, partaking every day, and when I surrendered my life over to Christ just over a year ago, I cut that off. I no longer watched pornography and I went completely celibate. It was a struggle going from sexual immorality every day to a completely celibate life, and I struggle almost every single day, I see a pretty girl who is scantily clad and up pops a thought. I stuggle with sexual thoughts and memories from past experiences almost every day, but God’s grace is enough, and I take it one day at a time, one situation at a time. Jesus is working on me, and I know it. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) You don’t have the power or the ability to transform your life Jen. I don’t know you, but I think maybe the reason you haven’t been able to overcome and change is because you are relying on your own power to change, instead of surrendering to Christ and allowing him to change you. Let God’s grace be enough, and he will transform you in His image! I hope this helps, and I pray that you will surrender to his will for your life and let Christ reign.

    God Bless,
    Derek J. Brent

  100. Paul Russell says:

    Excellent post! I’m going to share it with my friends and colleagues.

  101. tonga pakofe says:

    Hello to you all, it’s a great priviledge to join with you in this web by sharing our experiences and understandings on such kinds of issues like homosexuality, feminism, racism,etc. i am a tongan and happy to jump in with who i am as a xtian.

    most scholars and xtians are debating on the issue of homosexuality with a focusing on heavily caliming and identifying such group as sinners. it is so similar to what was appeared on the conversation larry king hosted. my concern is not upon labelling who as so sinful or sinless or even a sinner, but i am totally concern on how big is it to twist the natural order of sex that we humanity created for as male and female to fulfill the creator’s purpose and will (be fruitful etc.). i would like to simply point out my view on this issue:

    my concern is not sinner (less or big), absolutely not identifying someone but wary about their “practices”. Male with a male marriage is clearly not only about how they deeply sensed inside their mind and heart but inclusively and inseparably tied with the physical relationships. Creator’s created humanity in His image as Physical and Spiritual. Approaching the human marriage with separating of physical life and its already connected with sipritual life of a male or female would mislead and produce some inappropriate outcome that against the Creator’s handi-work.

    Question to ask: Is it possible to help those people who love to act like this (homosexual) to accept and back to whom he or she has planned and made by Creator for, with regardless of his or her feeling that misled him or her to end up with such strangeful way of sex and wedding?

    Above all, God love evrybody till the END OF TIME. However, we will be judged according to the way we practice or act.

    God Bless,
    tonga

  102. Barb says:

    I recently read Gail Haggard’s book, “Why I stayed”. The one sentence that boiled it all down, that really stood out, was when she wrote that if she believed her husband were truly a homosexual, then her life up to that point would be of no value. I paraphrase but the no value is exactly what she said. I believe she is so so terrified of just that, that she uses any rationalization she can so that she can believe that Ted is heterosexual but with issues. I hate to say it but I have no doubt that at some point, Mr. Haggard will be back having homosexual flings, if he is not already.

  103. Barb says:

    another thought. The fact that soem people seem absolutely obsessed with homosexuality – either for or against but generally against – and this is certainly shown by the massive number of comments on this post – indicates something. People can hide behind uncontextualized Scripture or anything else but really, there is a natural curiousity about sex. There is a natural need to have sex obviously. And it seems there is a deep seeded disgust when it comes to sex that seems “icky.” Men having sex with other men is deeply repellent to some men. It seems to go so deep that they may not even be aware of it. This can result in beating the heck out of gay men (or killing them), anti-gay comments and oddly and seemingly counter-intuitively, an absolute obsession with how wrong it is. This wouldn’t be as horrific as it is if it didn’t result in suicides in the gay community and discrimination against them in everything from work to church. Shame on the church for so alienating so many people. Instead of continually (and obsessively) recycling anti-gay arguments on the internet and everywhere else, the church (and I speak of course of mainly the Catholic church and evangelical churches) would do well to try to erase years and years of damage they have caused to the gay community. When you heap shame upon people – whether “lovingly” or not – it destroys them. Thank goodness some have been strong enough to rise up and speak. You do not have the right to push them down again.
    I am a straight, middle-aged woman and I obviously feel very strongly about this. My god look at the log in your own eye.

  104. Tina Hoffman says:

    I agree that “Kansas” is one of the best Christian albums of all time…her lyrics are refreshingly honest and real.

  105. jm says:

    The point regarding homosexuality: There’s a better way. As Christians, who ourselves voluntarily subdue our innate patterns every day, we would be remiss and ethically wrong not to point people to the path that is life.

  106. A. Raj Rao says:

    Jeremiah had a painfully rough life. And amidst all that roughness, God told Jeremiah:

    “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.” ~Jer. 16v.2

    Now – at this point…

    ~ It did not matter whether Jeremiah was a homosexual or heterosexual.
    ~ It did not matter whether God has given him some special gift of celibacy or not.
    ~ It did not matter how many struggles with loneliness he had.
    ~ It did not matter if every cell in the flesh of his body burned for someone or someones.
    ~ It did not matter what sorts of aches and longings haunted the hollows of his soul.

    All of this and a lot more did not matter, because …

    God was his sufficiency.

    It is only the One who has created us in our inmost being, who has knit us together in our mother’s wombs, who can truly satisfy us – Jesus Christ.

    Because …

    If it is not God, it is a band-aid. If it is not God, it is an idol. If it is not God, it is a drug… And each successive fix leaves one, ever the more spiritually emaciated and gaunt. The hunger never goes away. It only grows.

    Only God is truly sufficient. And it all starts with obedience. An obedience that is difficult in the beginning and but ends with a joy – indomitable.

    Christ in us, the hope of glory!!! Happy New Year!

  107. T says:

    Thank you for this. It brings me so much encouragement as I face the bitter argument of friends who believe I’m close minded. I wish more people would study the original text before making rash assumptions about its meaning! Sheesh. Stay strong everyone.

  108. Maybe this question has been asked, so please forgive me for asking it again, but why should homosexuality be ok? I hear the opposing question of “why is homosexuality wrong” asked all the time, but I don’t think I have heard someone ask why it is “right.” It seems to me that, going along with the “reframing” theme of this post, if the question was re-asked in the positive, the conversation would look different. Rather than someone responding to the question of why homosexuality is wrong, I would like someone to respond to why it is right.
    I hope that makes sense, and, again, I apologize if this question has been asked and I simply missed the discussion.

  109. Jessica says:

    This article shows a real misunderstanding of LGBT people.
    Although you have chosen to label us as “homosexual”, how we experience love is much much more complex than just “homosexual attraction” or “homosexual behavior”. We love. We are human.

    As for homosexuality being a sin, Matthew Vines analyzes every passage normally associated with condemnation of homosexuality and provides new insight in this video –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ezQjNJUSraY

    Don’t skip it just because you don’t agree with it (after all, I read the entirety of this article). If you wish to be a little more educated on the issue, at least give it a watch.

    The passage calling homosexuality an abomination is accompanied by passages that forbid the eating of shellfish (Lev. 11:10), and compel Christians to put to death those who work on the day of the Sabbath.
    Therefore, following the repentance logic in this article, should you “repent” for enjoying a lobster? Should you feel compelled by your faith to denounce those who work on the Lord’s Day?

    There is absolutely NO WAY that you can claim that denouncing “homosexual behavior” is in the interests of Christianity while not following these other archaic mandates. You cannot ask us LGBT to repent when you certainly have not repented for everything that the Bible declares to be sinful. It’s all or nothing. You can’t pick and choose.

    Furthermore, Adam and Eve were not in a monogamous heterosexual marriage. They were not married, and they were not monogamous. After all, they had two sons and had to carry on their family line. However, for some reason Christians don’t seem to encourage incest in the modern day and age.

    And “biblical marriage”?
    This video could also use some watching –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkeKKszXTw
    Although it’s quite passive aggressive and blunt. I won’t require it, but I do strongly encourage.

    If we look at Ruth and Naomi, they gave each other their souls. In fact, the words they spoke to each other have been historically used to illustrate the nature of the marriage covenant. How Ruth and Naomi loved each other is not that different from how my partner and I love each other. Yes, we have sex as well, but please grow up. We don’t define our relationship by sex, because we are not obsessed with sex, we are obsessed with LOVEing each other in Christ. So if you dehumanize us by defining our relationship by sex, what does that say about you?

    Open your hearts. I’m a little bit passionate about this issue, but only because I am also passionate about Christianity. Some LGBT turn their backs on the Church because the Church constantly turns its back on us. I am not willing to do that. I love God and I love Christ too much to do that.

    Sorry for the long post. I truly love you all.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is managing editor of The Gospel Project at LifeWay Christian Resources, husband to Corina, father to Timothy, Julia, and David. You can follow him on Twitter. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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