Take hope in this, Christian: Jesus is bigger than any attraction, any lust, any unbiblical identity.
I read a true and terrible story some months back. A man named Brian was married to a woman named Monica. They had a happy marriage. Drawing on the resources of “gay Christianity,” though, Brian identified himself as such. Nonetheless, he was committed to his wife, though they had a “mixed-orientation” marriage.
Brian and his wife sought to be a bridge between the “LBGT community” and the evangelical church. They held to a common argument today: the church had harmed its witness to the homosexual community. What was needed was a rethinking, a new model, a better way of approach to gay and lesbian people. Brian and Monica enthusiastically participated in these works. They went to gay pride parades, hosted gatherings at their home for friends in the “LGBT community,” and generally challenged the prevailing wisdom of the church on this matter. Reading their story, you can sense the excitement. The current was changing. A new dynamic was developing. Soon, the church would embrace this third way, this better way of witness. After years of hearing that homosexuality and Christianity were incompatible, the Spirit seemed to be gifting the people of God with fresh wind and fresh fire.
But the line did not hold. Brian did not only affirm the principle of “gay Christianity,” the unacted-out identity. Eventually, he left his wife and family. The irreconcilable tension in which he lived gave out, and he chose homosexuality over Christianity.
I share this heartbreaking story because it captures the high-stakes game the evangelical movement is playing at present. In recent days, an upcoming conference called Revoice has captured some attention. Revoice is an attempt to continue the bridge work mentioned above—to make a way for men and women to affirm both their homosexual identity and the Christian faith. There is a spectrum of presenters at the conference (to be held in July 2018 in St. Louis), but the material available already on the website shows clearly that “gay Christianity” will be promoted at the event. One presenter will speak on how “queer treasure, honor, and glory” will be brought into the New Jerusalem; another presenter identifies as “bisexual” and is “actively involved” in the Chicago “LGBTQ community”; a third key participant argues that “Simply experiencing attraction to the same sex (or being gay) is not in itself a morally culpable sin.”
This sampling of material should show the biblical Christian that this event is biblically unfaithful and fundamentally unsound. There will be no “queer treasure” in the New Jerusalem. There will be nothing unholy in the celestial city, nothing sinful that will be brought to the worship of the crucified and resurrected Lord of the church. There is no righteousness in a believer, a truly born-again Christian, identifying as “bisexual.” This identification alone would not qualify a man or woman to serve at a Vacation Biblical School event, let alone instruct the church on sexual ethics. Finally, “experiencing attraction to the same sex” is in biblical terms the very definition of a “morally culpable sin” (Romans 1:22-27). We observe a crucial distinction here: I can note that a fellow man is good-looking, but if I am attracted to him (even for an instant), I am sinning, and I should instantaneously confess my sin to God, repent of it, and seek in the fullest possible extent to build in ways of preventing said sin in the future. So it is with all internal, or self-caused, temptation (I published a journal article on this theme previously with regard to James 1).
It is deeply troubling as well that a Vice President and theology professor at Covenant Theological Seminary, a PCA school committed—ostensibly—to complementarian sexual ethics, is speaking at this event. For the reasons noted above alone, this event should be foreclosed to a Bible-teaching, Bible-loving leader. From its website, Revoice is not promoting sound biblical doctrine. It is teaching what the Bible forswears: that we can retain a sinful identity as a Christian. The apostle Paul has decisively, once and for all time, answered this question. See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 for Paul’s judgment:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
In this text, Paul explicitly addresses both partners in a homosexual coupling, identifying their behavior as evil. Some in the Corinthian church used to engage in such evil, but they could no longer as those justified by Christ. “Such were some of you,” Paul says of the matter (11). You were a thief, lusting and acting to take from others. You were an idolator, lusting after and worshipping lesser things. You were a drunk, craving and undertaking gluttonous drinking. You were a homosexual, lusting and acting accordingly. But now you are not. Now you are washed. Now you have a new nature, a new name, and are a new creation. The old has passed; the new has come (All this, by the way, the recent Nashville Statement captures with beauty and power).
Yes, there is absolute thunder and glory in that one word: “Were.”
Every Christian, of course, must battle temptation. We may feel same-sex attraction or manifold other ungodly instincts rise up within us. We all do. But as with all “evil desire” (2 Peter 1:4), we fight it. We crucify it. We repent of it. We certainly do not enclose it within a bubble called our “orientation” and sanctify it. We break with it and flee from it, for we know it would close itself around our necks and drag us to hell if it could. The person experiencing same-sex attraction is not a special case. Understanding this, and rejecting the now-common spirit of victimhood, is key to victory in this area. People who struggle with same-sex attraction need the same gospel, the same Christ, the same Word we all do. They are made in the image of God, bearing infinite dignity and worth, and they have hope, infinite hope in Christ. This hope does not come, however, from dignifying lust (see Matthew 5:21-30). This hope comes from a life of repentance in the name of Jesus. We gain hope through holiness, and by continually fighting off the sins that so easily beset us through the power of the life-giving Spirit.
Take hope in this, Christian: Jesus is bigger than any attraction, any lust, any unbiblical identity. He is bigger than temptation, stronger than sin, more powerful than evil. He nailed your sin and sinful identity to the cross, and he bled to put your iniquity to death. All the furious wrath of God was poured out on him at Calvary, and thus by faith you are forgiven, made holy, and promised eternity.
We see, then, that there is no “third way” to be carved when it comes to this subject. There is only great danger in trying to ennoble what Scripture presents, in both old covenant and new, as evil, pagan, and abominable. The “gay Christian” movement is not sound. It should not be supported by the mainstream church. It is a perversion of biblical teaching. If some are tempted to easily dismiss my words, to write them off as unkind hyperbole, I would encourage you to read the story of Monica and Brian once more. Reflecting on her awful trial, dealing with a home split asunder by the lie of sanctified gayness, of Christianized homosexuality, Monica said this: “There is no middle ground. There are only two ways to live — towards and for Christ or away and against Him. I choose the former.”
Monica’s testimony reminds us that on these matters, we are not playing theological games. We are dealing with truth and falsehood; with the strengthening of families or their dissolution; with the way to heaven, and the way to hell.
For biblically-grounded resources for your church, small group, or personal reading, see this book by Denny Burk and Heath Lambert, the searing testimony of Rosaria Butterfield, and this short book, The Grand Design, authored by Gavin Peacock and me.