Tag Archives: Sex

A Preliminary Response to Arizona’s Legislation of Same-Sex Marriage

This past Friday the Attorney General for the state of Arizona announced that our state would begin to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples effective immediately. At the same time the Mayor of the city of Houston, TX has begun to violate the constitution by subpoenaing pastors to turn in their sermons or any other statement that address homosexuality. Our church refuses to be silent (or to be silenced) about what God has said marriage is and how human sexuality is to be expressed. We will faithfully speak what the Bible speaks and we will address both heterosexual and homosexual sinful behavior and we will call all people to repent and follow God’s will for their sexuality and for their entire life, by trusting and obeying Christ as Lord and Savior. Here is an initial statement from pastor Joel Ellis which reflects the official position of the teaching pastors at Community Christian Church where I serve as the pastor for discipleship and apologetics.

How Should Christians Respond to Homosexuality?

The issue of homosexuality is continuously a hot topic in today’s culture. Given the volatile nature of the debates surrounding same sex marriage in the public and in the court system and given the fact that the homosexual agenda has forced itself into the limelight by pressuring pastors to marry same sex couples and by threatening local businesses with law suits if they don’t support them, the church has to be equipped with a proper response to homosexuality. Unfortunately the church has often responded poorly to the issue of homosexuality by taking one of three approaches.

Three Wrong Approaches

The first wrong approach is non-engagement that is, simply burying our heads in the sand and hoping it goes away. If you haven’t noticed this is an issue that is growing in pervasiveness and it isn’t going away. Not now and not ever. We cannot afford to close our eyes and simply not interact with homosexuals or pretend that it doesn’t affect us. The fact is our culture has largely embraced homosexuality as a valid expression of human sexuality and we as Christians need to think carefully and biblically about the matter so that we can winsomely and intelligently make our case for biblical sexuality and why it is what’s best for all people.

The second wrong approach to homosexuality is that of throwing up the white flag and embracing homosexuality as though God approves. Many (far too many) Christians have been indoctrinated by our culture through media and other outlets into thinking that homosexuality is normal and acceptable. Surely God just wants people to be happy and as long two people really love each other wouldn’t God approve? Nope. Let’s not forget that God is our maker who knows what is best for us and he created human sexuality and gets to define its purpose. The church should not give into social pressures to accept homosexuality as normative and welcome in the church.

The third wrong approach to homosexuality is to demonize homosexuals as the worst kind of sinners out there. It seems like a certain portion of the Christian population is obsessed with talking about homosexuality. You can hardly listen to Christian talk radio without it being one of the topics that comes on that day. Understandably, because of the cultural acceptance of homosexuality, we need to talk about it. Even so, many have made the mistake of labeling homosexuals as super-sinners and everything that is wrong with where our nation is heading today. As a result many Christians act like homophobes and will talk about the great evils of homosexuality but never actually talk to a homosexual and this is very unfortunate.

Non-engagement is a non-option. Full acceptance of homosexuality into the life of the church is reprehensible given God’s plan for human sexuality and treating homosexuality like it is in a class of its own when it comes to sin and being more afraid of them than anything is misguided. So then, what is the right response to homosexuality? As is so often the case the truth lies somewhere between the extremes.

Three Things the Church Must Do

First, we have to make up our minds that we will not bury our heads in the sand and that the issue of homosexuality is not going away. We must be intentional in coming to understand the issues related to homosexuality and same sex marriage and what effect this has on our culture. Furthermore we must separate the Christian response to homosexuality from the political response to homosexuality. This is, I believe, a real problem for many Christians. I am not arguing that Christians should stay out of political discussion but that there are two distinct issues in play.

  1. As a Christian we believe homosexuality is to be understood as an unrepentant and sinful lifestyle that is counter to God’s design and all who engage in it need to repent.
  2. As an American I believe homosexuality ought to be permissible to practice (legally) but that same sex marriage should not receive special recognition or be incentivized as heterosexual marriages are. Healthy heterosexual marriages produce children and provide the ideal context in which to raise well-adjusted citizens for our nation and is, therefore, in the best interest of the government to support whereas the same cannot be said about same sex marriages any more than polygamous marriages, etc.

Both of these issues are important but they are two separate issues nonetheless and it is my contention that our primary concern ought to be with the first. Our citizenship is first in heaven and second in the USA, therefore our priorities ought to operate in that order as well. Confusing these issues, making Christian concerns and nationalistic concerns as one and the same is a gigantic mistake. So we must engage, we must do so intelligently and winsomely and we must not confuse these two separate issues (i.e. 1. What’s wrong with homosexuality in God’s eyes, and 2. Why the federal government shouldn’t recognize same sex marriages).

Second we must hold our ground and not give in to social pressure to accept homosexuality as normal. The Scripture is abundantly clear that homosexuality is an aberrant behavior that is contra to God’s creative order. The Scripture speak about this with unanimity from Genesis to Revelation. Take Romans 1:26-27 for an example “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Clearly the Apostle Paul sees homosexuality as leaving behind God’s intention for human sexuality for our good and trading it for something dishonorable and unnatural.

If we abandon this portion of Scripture (as some “Christians” have) which so clearly condemns homosexuality then why should we uphold any of it? When it comes to the authority of the Bible we shouldn’t kid ourselves into thinking we can pick and choose what portions of the Bible are inspired and which aren’t because inevitably we will only see what we like as from God and what we dislike as from man. The Bible is either authoritative and the final word for Christian doctrine and practice or it’s just a quaint old book with outmoded moralism. Christians, if you accept homosexuality as something that is okay with God then you have set yourself up as judge over and above the Bible and now you no longer have Jesus as your Lord. We must not subject the Bible to modern concepts of fairness but we must realize that it rests as timeless truth from our eternal creator who alone grounds the reality of moral absolutes and reveals them to us. To compromise is to abandon biblical authority and end up following wandering stars with no true north.

Finally, we must fairly represent homosexuality for what it is, namely, one kind of sin among many that will lead people to hell. Sometimes Christians get asked things like “Do you think homosexuals will go to hell just for being a homosexual?” The best answer to this question is “no.” Christians do not think homosexuals are going to go to hell because they are a homosexual, rather, we believe homosexuals and all people are going to go to hell because they are sinners. Notice the rest of the Romans 1 passage that we mentioned earlier “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (Rom. 1:28-32)

The reality is that any sin (and all sin) is enough to separate people from God for eternity in Hell. There’s nothing particularly grand about homosexuality as far as sin is concerned. The Bible does acknowledge that sexual sin is a sin against the body which has repercussions that other kinds of sin may not (1 Corinthians 6:18) but even that passage has heterosexual immorality in view. When the New Testament speaks about homosexuals not entering the kingdom of God it does not do so in vacuum. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Notice that in this same list that the “sexually immoral” are included which certainly involves heterosexuals that do not honor God’s will for human sexuality either.

The fact of the matter is that homosexuality is one kind of sin among so many that lead people away from God’s good will for their life. So when we are interacting with homosexuals we should treat them no different than our friend who is sleeping with their boyfriend or girlfriend before marriage. The fact is, they both need to repent and trust in Christ. The reality is that homosexuals are just like you and me…they’re sinners. The only difference between a homosexual and us is Jesus.

Jesus has called each and every one of us to repentance, to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and to come and follow him. When homosexuals say “But I feel attracted to people of the same sex” our response should be “That may be so, but Jesus has called us to deny ourselves and follow him.” The reality is that most men are physically attracted to more women than just the one they are married to, but God’s will is for us to faithfully love and honor our wives and be sexually and emotionally faithful to her. That involves denying what we might say are perfectly “natural” impulses we as men have. So just because one genuinely has feelings of attraction that doesn’t mean that we should act on them or that they are pleasing to God.

Whether it be sexual sin (homosexual or heterosexual), addiction and alcoholism, a life of thievery, being a liar or a gossip or just trusting in our own goodness, each of us are called on by Jesus to abandon our own passions and desires and to repent of our sin and trust in Jesus for salvation. This involves turning our back on habits, emotions, etc., that come very natural to all of us. It is a realization that there is something fundamentally broken about mankind and it is called sin and that we must submit ourselves to Christ and deny ourselves to know what true freedom is all about. That goes for you and that goes for me.

Christianity, It’s Not Just True, It’s Also Awesome!

As a Christian apologist I am committed to making a case for why people ought to believe Christianity it true. As such I have learned (and continue to learn) to give answer to many objections to the Christians faith and I have learned how to make a very strong positive case for Christianity. I think we can rationally demonstrate that believing in God makes more sense than not, that the Bible has been reliably transmitted throughout the centuries and that the facts it contains have proven themselves reliable and we can make a fantastic evidential case for the resurrection of Jesus. When it comes to demonstrating the truth of the Christian worldview I am convinced we have the goods.

But I have noticed recently an area where I think we as Christians need to do better. A lot better actually. We need to do much better at not only presenting people with what we believe as Christians and why they should believe it too, but also why they should want to believe! Now obviously we can say “You want to believe whatever is true don’t you?” And of course most people will say “Sure I do.” But I think often times part of the reluctance towards accepting Christianity, even after people have been provided with sufficient evidence to believe, is that they see Christianity as boring, restrictive and the end of all fun and joy in life.

To this we need to give as robust of an answer as we do when we present the cosmological argument to an atheist. I am convinced that Christianity is not only true but that it is the worldview that people should adopt if they want the most satisfying and joy filled life this world can offer them (not that it is really a worldly offer, of course). Sometimes people will say things like “Even if Christianity were not true it is still the best way to live.” I think that is essentially true, although I would not advocate following Christianity just because it is pragmatically advantageous. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that if Christ has not been raised we are still dead in our sins and if in him only in this life we have hoped then we are above all men to be pitied. We should not live out a worldview merely for pragmatic reasons. But all of that said, I do believe the approach to life that is laid out in the Bible is the best route to human flourishing. In that sense I would agree that even if it were not true the Christian lifestyle would be the most advantageous.

But the good news is that we do not have to create some sort of dichotomy between what is true and what is the best way to live. But many non-Christians think that they do. Many of them feel like accepting Christianity as true means the death of fun, the death of laughter, the death of sex, the death of every other thing that they enjoy. To them its like offering a million dollars but telling them they can’t spend it on anything they like. The fact is we as Christian case-makers need to do better about painting a picture of what we are offering. We are not only offering them the truth, but we are also offering them an abundant life in Christ filled with joy.

The truth of the matter is that so many of the things that non-Christians enjoy are things that they could enjoy even more as Christians. Work, food, friendships, sex, all of these things and more were created by God and he likes them too. God made those things and more for our pleasure because he loves us. Indeed we do tell non-believers that they must repent of their sin and trust in Jesus, which means stopping the way they are currently living life and starting to live the way the Lord has said to live but that does not mean the death of joy but the enhancement of it.*

Has it ever occurred to you what the world would be like if everyone followed Christ and his teachings? There would be no war, no one would be going hungry, there would be no abusive relationships, broken marriages or kids without moms and dads who love them, people would tell the truth and make honest business deals, etc., etc. The world would be a more enjoyable place to live if we did things God’s way. Let’s take one example to really drive home the point the Christianity provides a better way of living life.

Since sex is always a big issue, and because Christians are often labeled as prudish about sex which communicates the idea that to become a Christian is to stop having sex, let’s address this issue to illustrate the superiority of the Christian worldview. Far from telling people that they can’t have sex anymore if they become a Christian we are telling them that they can have sex better than ever. Here are some of the advantages to Christian sexuality:

1. You have the safety and security of never contracting an STD.
2. You do not have to worry about whether you are “performing” as well as their other partners.
3. You can learn over time how to better please your spouse in sex because you get to practice with the same person all the time.
4. The Bible commands both husbands and wives to meet each others needs and partake in sex regularly (neither husband or wife is to be selfish 1 Cor. 7:1-5).
5. You have the security of pregnancy occurring within a context that is prepared to nurture children. (The line “don’t worry baby, if you get pregnant…I’ll take care of you” is actually true.)
6. The Bible has a whole book (Song of Solomon) dedicated to the joy of sex in marriage and encourages married couples not to be prudish or timid about enjoying each others bodies to the fullest.
7. All of this sexuality is expressed within the confines of a covenant relationship, blessed by God, which promises to last until death. Christians sex never leaves you alone the next morning.

Now I do not know about you, but it sounds to me like the Bible is a big fan of sex and that it offers a plan that makes sense about how to really get the most out of it. Far from offering people truth over and against a satisfying sex life we are offering them truth and an ultimately more satisfying sex life. It’s true that Christianity restricts sex to the marriage relationship but it is this very restriction that turns around and provides the safety and security that all people need to have the best sex possible.

But it’s not just sex that Christianity gets right (that just serves as an obvious example). Christianity provides a plan for enjoying all of life at its best. When we realize that all things that are true sources of delight in this world were made by God and made for our enjoyment then we should realize that God, as the Creator of all good things, knows how we might best enjoy them. Christianity celebrates food and drink too, but it also knows we will be happier and healthier if we enjoy them in moderation (Proverbs 23:20-21). Christianity celebrates friendship but it knows that “bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33) and so we need to be wise about who we spend time with. Christianity sets forward an admirable work ethic by telling us to work as if unto the Lord himself (Colossians 3:23). Pretty much any issue you can think of the Bible provides a framework for making life decisions that result in our thriving.

The fact of the matter is that people pursue so many things in an attempt to make themselves happy and fulfilled but they often end up destroying their lives in the process because they don’t know how to enjoy those pleasures the way they were designed to be enjoyed. Rather than continuing on that path why not realize that God’s way is actually the best way? If you are not a Christian and you are reading this I want to tell you two things. First, Christianity is really and demonstrably true and we can provide answers to your questions if you need help in coming to rationally affirming the Christian worldview. Second, Christianity provides you with a life of thriving rather than striving. Many of the things which God made for your enjoyment will also destroy you if you do them your way but if you submit to the Creator’s design and do them his way it will lead to incredible satisfaction in this life that you will find nowhere else.

* Make no mistake, I am not saying that Christianity does not demand your very life when you come to Christ. The Bible has lots to say in the fashion of “deny yourself” and “carry your cross.” In some parts of the world becoming a Christian means losing your family, home, job and life. I would not dare make light of that. Certainly the gospel is worth your very life, to be connected in a relationship with the God of the universe is worth any price we could pay and the weight of glory of spending eternity in a perfect world of bliss, free of suffering with our creator outweighs any affliction here. We absolutely ought to believe whatever is true even if that truth is costly. But if you are given the chance to know Christ and actually live out a Christian life I promise you will find it to be the superior way to live.