I stand before you
as a sinner, saved by God's grace. I do not presume to know everything
there is to know about homosexuality. Nor do I presume to have a direct
line to God on this issue. However I do believe you will hear the voice of
God in what I say.
I understand that I take a huge risk in addressing one of the most
controversial issues in the Church and in our society. In so doing I am
confident that some of you will not like what I have to say and will need
to decide how you react to a view which may be contrary to your own.
You can reject it, attack it, switch off when you hear it so you hear
nothing else from that point in time . . . . or you can be open to God's
leading and allow time to pray through what I say and seek the Lord's
wisdom before you react or respond in any way.
Some of you will think I am too soft on the issue. Some of you will think
I am too harsh and judgmental. Some will think I fail to take a decisive
stance and waver in my convictions.
I understand all those views and respect your right to hold them. However,
you need to know that it is not my purpose to please those whom I teach.
My purpose is to speak prophetically to the needs and issues of today,
under the anointing of God's spirit - whether accepted and received well
or rejected outright.
For too long, our Church pulpits have been largely silent on such
controversial issues as divorce, abortion and homosexuality . . to mention
just a few. It's time that we tackled these issues head-on as we seek the
heart of God.
All I ask is that you suspend judgement on what I say in this presentation
for one week. That's right, I want you to wait until this time next week
before you decide how you feel about this issue. During this week I want
you to get the tape of this message or the transcript and study it, with
the Word of God open before you and pray at every opportunity. Ask the
Lord to show you His heart and lead you to see this and all issues that
face us today, through His eyes and from his heart. Will you do that for
me? Will you do it for yourself? Will you do it for God and His glory? I
Twenty five years ago, as a young man of 15, I sat in Alan's lounge room
with his wife Lyn as he led me to Jesus. What a wonderful night that was!
My relationship with Alan was never the same again. We shared an intimacy
and a closeness from that night on. This man took me by the hand and led
me into the throne room of heaven and I praise God for him.
I had been invited to a BBQ at the Orange Church of Christ by a friend at
school. As it happened, they were forming a youth group that night and
Alan and Lyn were going to lead the group. Within two weeks, their
lifestyle and their words had been used mightily by God and I came under
the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the rest is history, as they say.
It was at this time also that I started to seriously contemplate my future
and being married and having a job. Alan & Lyn were a perfect couple
as far as I could tell. They loved the Lord and each other and I spent
lots of time in their home. The birth of their first child was a great
thrill for me. Lyn was in the same hospital room as my mother, in fact. My
sister Karen and Alan & Lyn's daughter, Danielle, have been friends
To my distress, Alan got a new job in Sydney and they left Orange. I kept
in touch for many years. I got to see two more children enter the world
through these wonderful parents. After I met and married Michelle, she got
to know Alan and Lyn too and we stayed in their home and spend time with
them now and then. Alan was M.C. at our wedding reception.
In so many spoken and unspoken ways, I believe we modelled our marriage
and our child-raring on Alan & Lynn. As you can tell, these two had a
profound effect on me.
Well, our lives all got a little hectic and the gaps between contacts grew
larger until there were only Christmas cards and the occasional call. Then
it happened. The unthinkable happened.
We received a Christmas card with only Lyn's and the children's names on
it. We were to soon discover that Alan had moved out. That first shock was
nothing in comparison to the next one. Given our topic tonight, you've
probably guessed the scenario. Alan had moved in with another man and was
living in a homosexual relationship.
My whole world seemed to spin for a while - not knowing what to do or
think or say. I contacted Lyn and expressed my love and concern - without
wanting to get into any of the details. But it took quite a while for me
to contact Alan. What would I say? I had never encountered homosexuality
A battle raged within me . . . between the accumulated prejudice and
condemning tones of the Church that all of a sudden came into to my mind .
. and the love and respect I had for this brother in the Lord. I used to
sit and watch as this man read from God's word - with tears rolling down
his cheeks as the passion and reality of his relationship with God
overwhelmed him and those around him. And now he'd thrown it all away -
his marriage - the Church - everything! How was I to respond to that?
Well, I believe it was the Lord Who answered that question and gave me a
picture of Alan one night. He was standing in the middle of a huge crowd
of people - all people that he had known and had relationships with -
mostly in the Church. The tragic part of the picture was that everyone had
their backs to him. No one would look at him, talk to him, love him or
care for him. He was in agony. It would be better if he was totally alone
- than in a crowd of people who ignored him. I sensed the Lord asking me
whether I was going be part of that judgemental, cold crowd of Alan's
former associates - or whether I was strong enough to be the friend I used
I telephoned Alan the next day and we spoke at length. I told him that I
neither understood nor condoned the choices he had made, but I was still
his friend and his struggles and bad choices were no different to mine -
regardless the attitude of society. I stressed that I wanted to love him
and help him - not judge him. He broke down and wept. I later found out
that I was the only person from his past that had made any positive
contact with him up until that point. He had received many letters and
calls which condemned him and dealt with him harshly.
Some time later, when we were studying at Bible College, the conviction to
do something more substantial resulted in us inviting Alan to dinner one
night. We prayed our hearts out and decided it was Alan our friend who was
coming to dinner - not Alan the homosexual! What a revelation that was.
Simple, but mindblowing.
So we didn't put the kids to bed early and batten down the hatches - we
just acted normally and prayed that the Lord would give us a chance to
minister to our friend.
Alan came and after the initial tension, he could feel that we were not
there to judge him or condemn him and so he relaxed and later in the
evening, he talked openly about his whole journey. Before going to bed,
our children talked with him.
He nursed them and played with them and I saw the dad that I always
admired and wanted to imitate. Alan cried when the children went to bed
and said that we were the first people in seven years of hell, who had let
him anywhere near their children.
He went on to tell us of the judgement and condemnation that had come from
the Church and former friends in the Church. He was bitter - no doubt
about it - but he was broken-hearted too. His best friend, and elder in
the Church in which they both served for years, cut Alan off the moment he
heard of his homosexual orientation. He even had his phone number changed
to a new silent number so Alan couldn't call him.
The sad fact is this: when people heard that the marriage had broken down
- there were many in the Church who rallied to help and encourage and pray
for reconciliation. Alan had many of his friends, including his best
friend, come to his side to help him. But the moment Alan decided to tell
them the whole story - they ran like scared children and never came back.
His best friend suffered a heart attack a year or two later and his dying
words . . . the last thing he spoke to his wife as he drifted into
eternity . . . was "Don't let that bastard come to my funeral."
When he died, Alan didn't try to attend the funeral, but sent flowers to
his friend's wife instead. Her hard was so hardened towards Alan that she
actually went to the trouble of sending the flowers back to Alan. Such was
the hate and the fear and the judgement of the Church - from Alan's
That was the first time I remember feeling embarrassed and ashamed for
being part of the Church.
I can't describe the pain and the grief I felt as I saw and heard how
Christians treated a brother in need, thinking that their sin was so much
less offensive than his.
If tonight's presentation helps someone like Alan to find a Christian who
cares and will love them back to life and wholeness, then it will have
been worth it.
I always wondered why the Lord put me through all that - why was I exposed
to Alan's pain and my own in such a way. I have always believed that
nothing is an accident in God's kingdom and everything has a purpose. Many
years later I was to discover the reason as a young man in my Church came
to see me and told me of his life-long struggle with homosexuality and how
he couldn't fight it any more and was planning to leave his wife. He did
leave her - but after much prayer and patience and loads of unconditional
love and grace - this man was delivered and healed, his marriage restored
and he now serves as Pastor of a Church.
After the pain of processing Alan's struggles - the Lord blessed me by
letting me witness a happy ending. But for Alan and thousands of others -
the pain continues.
Few issues are so deeply emotional or politically polarised in the church
and society as the issue of homosexuality. It is an identifying issue.
Just as a self-identified homosexual person is likely to be treated as if
that were his or her whole identity, so a person who takes a stand on one
side of the issue or the other is open to becoming so identified with the
issue that no other conviction or commitment will be heard. For this
reason, many churches and many Christians refuse to take any stand,
preferring silence to the labelling and condemnation which accompany this
issue on both extremes.
It is a legitimate choice, because sexuality is personal and private. A
church is well within its rights not to take a stand on the question but
to leave such matters to the soul autonomy and individual conscience of
the community members. Sadly, in a polarised context where debate is so
oversimplified you are branded as either for or against with no middle
ground allowed, reasonable people are forced to join one extreme or the
other or be silent.
Therefore, a question that must be answered up front is: can meaningful
discussion of this issue happen? Can we trust one another enough to
question, research, listen, open our minds and hearts to be changed by God
through the honest search for truth? Perhaps every individual must answer
that for himself or herself. But if we enter a debate with minds so closed
we are searching for ammunition rather than information, the debate will
be decided by prejudice rather than truth and by power rather than
Some would argue on either side that there is no room for debate on an
issue that is already clear. They would say there is no room for
discussion because all forms of homosexuality are a sin. Or on the other
extreme they would argue that all arguments against homosexuality are
homophobic, judgmental, and un-Christian and totally devoid of the
unconditional love and grace of God. I would suggest that the mere
presence of these two extremes in society and among Christians makes the
debate both necessary and legitimate.
A recent article in The Christian Century (not addressing this issue)
spoke of Christians reclaiming "the radical middle." I believe
it is possible and courageous to reject the pressures from either extreme
while listening to all sides and to make up your own mind on the issue as
you are led by the Spirit of God.
Christians in our nation are deeply divided over the question of what is
the appropriate stance the church should take toward homosexuality and
homosexuals in our midst. I think it is really important that we become
informed about this sensitive issue so we know how to respond to all
So what is homosexuality? Homosexual persons have been treated by the
church and the society the same way other minorities have been treated in
the past. They have been linked to one another by a single factor, their
sexual orientation, assumed to behave exactly alike, and all alike
condemned. They have been the subject of stereotypes which are only
Much of the debate regarding homosexuality reflects the ignorance of this
prejudice and stereotyping. For instance, there is no such thing as
"the homosexual lifestyle," or "the homosexual
agenda," because there are as many homosexual lifestyles, behaviours,
and agendas as there are heterosexual lifestyles, behaviours and agendas.
A "practicing" homosexual is the same as a
"practicing" heterosexual - he or she may engage in any number
of sexual behaviours from chastity to promiscuity. Such language is
demeaning and dehumanising, and the first step towards persecution.
Whatever the Bible may say about homosexuality, it calls such unjust false
witness - sin. So what is the truth about homosexuality?
Homosexuality is, in a sense, a modern issue. The word was not coined
until the 1860's when modern Western medicine developed an interest in the
topic. It refers to an internal predisposition and attraction to persons
of the same gender, male for male or female for female.
The much quoted Kinsey report on human sexuality estimated that ten
percent of the general human population are constitutionally homosexual.
More recent, more reliable studies with larger samples have suggested the
number is more like 2 or 3 per cent, still a significant number of people
identified as being exclusively homosexual in orientation. We do not
understand what causes this orientation. The old Freudian view that
homosexuality is caused by a dominant mother and weak father has been
widely discredited, though it is still a popular myth.
Developmental psychologists suggest that most persons go through a
homosexual stage in their psychosexual development: typically, boys prefer
to be with boys and girls with girls in preadolescence. Most people
discover heterosexual attraction at puberty, but some do not. We do not
Increasingly, psychologists have found that people are somewhere on a
continuum where it comes to sexual orientation. They are not all simply
either homosexual or heterosexual. We all have aspects of both genders in
our spiritual, psychological, and physical being. Physiologically, males
have some female hormones within their bodies; these increase with age.
Females have some level of male hormone as well. Many people have
occasional feelings of sexual attraction to members of the same gender.
Some people act upon those feelings as they do upon their heterosexual
feelings, often during adolescence. These experiences then create shame
and fear which may feed the hostility with which they react to homosexual
persons later in life. And there are those people on extreme ends of the
scale who never have anything but heterosexual attraction or homosexual
attraction during their entire lifetimes.
Some people clearly choose homosexual behaviour. As sexual adventurers and
experimenters, they engage freely in all kinds of behaviour. Other people
are lonely. Unable to find someone of the opposite gender to meet their
need for intimacy, they become involved in same gender relationships.
Others because of a history of abuse have rejected heterosexuality. Some
women cannot trust themselves with any man because of the abuse they have
endured, and therefore choose a lesbian relationship to meet their
intimacy needs. Most of these people are heterosexual in orientation but
for whatever reasons have chosen homosexual behaviour. They should be
treated with compassion. They can be healed of their hurts. They can be
changed back to healthy heterosexuality.
What is increasingly recognised by researchers and therapists on both
sides of the issue is that homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation is
not a simple choice for some people. We don't know why it is so, but a
small percentage of people enter adulthood with an exclusive sexual
attraction to their own gender, regardless of whether they are sexually
experienced or not. It is a mistake to speak of their homosexuality as a
"preference" like choosing a career or a car. Deep down I
believe the majority of them would prefer not to be homosexual because of
the condemnation and in some cases, persecution, with which they must
Not all gay men are effeminate; some are. Not all lesbian women are
masculine; some are. And not all effeminate males or masculine females are
homosexual in their orientation. I know some men who have been persecuted
much of their lives because they are a little effeminate and people assume
they are homosexual.
Homosexual behaviour, like heterosexual behaviour, takes a variety of
forms. It includes a wide range of behaviour: words of affection, acts of
support, supportive glances, through to more physical expressions and
full-on sexual encounters. Homosexual persons do not engage in all forms
of homosexual behaviour. Some homosexual persons have no partners, some
have multiple partners, some have single partners in long term
relationships. Partners may be active initiators or passive recipients or
both, the same as in heterosexual behaviour and relationships.
Scientific studies of homosexuality continue to reveal great
differentiation in the sexual drives and behaviour of homosexual persons,
and some significant differences between female and male homosexual
persons. More studies are needed.
Some people still argue that homosexuality is a choice, because God can
change the homosexual person who is willing to repent. Groups have formed
to support "recovering homosexuals." People share testimonies of
deliverance and most of these are genuine. But it is too simplistic to say
that all those who struggle with their sexuality will be healed in this
As biblical Christians we certainly believe God can change a person. But
God does not always do so. I can ask God to change my appetite and help me
control my eating, and my will cooperating with God's will may change me.
I can ask God to heal me of a disease I have had since birth - and He may
do so, but He may not. I watched a leg grow over an inch right before my
eyes as we prayed over a young girl who had been born with one leg shorter
than the other. I heard bones cracking in her hip as the Lord rearranged
her bodily structure - so I have no doubt that God and heal such
conditions. But I also must accept that this young girl did not choose to
have one leg shorter than the other and I must accept that for every
person that God heals in this way - there are a hundred he doesn't.
Many homosexual persons would gladly choose not to be homosexual in
orientation because of the struggle and abuse they face in the church and
society. There are testimonies of many Christian homosexual persons who
have prayed with deep devotion over a long period of time, and found their
orientation unchanged. Are we to take this as the will of God?
My friends, let us all understand here that every last one of us is born
into a sinful, lost world. We have the stain of sin on us we emerge from
our mother's womb. That original sin . . . that sinful condition can and
will manifest itself in many different ways in many different people. Our
fallen, sinful nature may lead us to a life of crime - it may lead us into
sexual promiscuity with a member of the opposite sex - or it may lead us
into an active homosexual lifestyle. Can God fix that? Yes He can. When we
come to the Lord Jesus and accept His gift of new life - when we are born
again into the kingdom of God - we are a new creation. In God's eyes -
that stain of original sin has been washed away by the blood of His Son.
In the eternal spiritual realm of God's kingdom - where we shall dwell
forever - we are whiter than snow and all has been made well.
However, back down here in this cause-and-effect kingdom of darkness, we
still carry around this sinful bag of bones and as such we will continue
to battle the flesh and our fallen human condition for the rest of our
days. The Lord will help us in that battle - but the battle will remain.
So before I go on, I want to stress one thing: we need to forget about the
simple answers. There are none. We are fooling ourselves if we think there
are. There are certainly no simple answers as to how or why someone
becomes a homosexual.
The debate still rages as to whether it is caused by genetic or
environmental factors. The two are not mutually exclusive. There is
evidence that there is a genetic linkage with homosexuality (twins
studies), but the same studies indicate that genetic factors alone are
insufficient to cause a person to be homosexual.
The issue is very complex and many of us are content to rest on our simple
answers, whether they are informed or not, while the rest of us stay very
quiet about the issue because we just don't know what to think.
Regardless of our opinions, we need to accept right up front that we are
all sinners, standing on level ground before the cross of Christ, in need
of a Saviour. There is no hierarchy of sins. Different sins have different
social implications and consequences, but the fact remains that sin is sin
and as far as our relationship with God and each other is concerned, there
is no difference between homosexuality and gossip, or coarse talk,
cheating, lying, stealing . . . the list goes on . . . they are all the
same. The harsh spirit of judgement that rises up within us against
certain sins is not from God. It comes from the pit of hell and that's
where it belongs.
We need to try and understand that God can and will heal us and deliver us
from any number of sins and sicknesses in this life, but He may choose not
to. It is too simplistic to label everything as simply our choice. God can
heal a person born with spinabifita - this disease is not normal. It is
not the way God intended for us to live. But to say that it is the
person's choice that they are inflicted with this disease is the cruelest
In much same way, there are sinful habits and orientations that can
manifest in us over which we have very little control. God can, and often
does free us from these burdens - but at times He doesn't. So we live with
the ongoing tension within us to yield to this sin or this orientation.
The choice we have is to yield or not to yield to something that has
become part of our human condition. To be told over and over again that
the condition itself is a result on our choice - is torture in the
extreme. Sometimes it is our choice, many times it is not.
The "conservative" response that the church has given ti this
issue goes something like this: The Bible clearly teaches that
homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, what homosexuals need to do is repent
(change) and receive the forgiveness of God. Even if they do not have the
power to change their sexual orientation, God does. If gays just come to
God in honest confession and faith, God has the power to grant them the
gift of repentance.
There is much to commend this view. Those who hold it do so because they
hold a high view of biblical authority and of God's life-transforming
power. However, I believe in the end this approach falls short. It is just
too simplistic. Of course, God does have the power to change a person's
sexual orientation. God has the power to cure diabetes too, but He often
doesn't. The only "moral" alternative left is for the homosexual
person to live a completely celibate life. Some homosexuals and
heterosexuals can do this, but most cannot.
The "progressive" Christian answer goes something like this: We
should not just take what the Bible says about homosexuality at face
value. Though the Bible always speaks about homosexual acts in a very
negative way, it actually says very little about homosexuality. Certainly
the biblical writers didn't know as much about constitutional
homosexuality as we do. It should be noted that Jesus didn't mention the
subject at all.
When Peter was given a vision of a sheet of unclean animals descending
from heaven, he heard the voice of God telling him to "rise, kill,
and eat." Peter objected. His Bible (the Old Testament) told him this
was sinful but the heavenly Voice said, "Do not consider anything
unclean that God has declared clean." Peter took this vision to be
divine authorisation for him to take the gospel to the "unclean"
Gentiles. The vision forced him to the conclusion that what his Bible said
was not necessarily so.
Perhaps we should re-examine homosexuality in the light of this. Are we
not all created by God? If we are gay or straight, it is because God has
made us this way. We should accept and rejoice in the gifts God has given
us. Our sexual orientation is ultimately of no more moral significance
than skin colour or left handedness. That is the progressive view.
This view has much to commend it. It is compassionate. It rightly points
out that we should not be superficial in our use of Scripture. (I would
note that even the most ardent fundamentalist preacher is not a complete
biblical literalist on this subject. I have heard none of them advocating
that all homosexuals be stoned to death.) The "progressive'"
arguments about interpretation of Scripture have weight. In the end,
however, I believe this view is very dangerous and it is also too simple
and just doesn't work in reality either.
I believe it fails first in the area in which it most wants to succeed. It
is not pastorally sensitive enough. To tell a gay person, "God made
you that way," is often met with the response (inwardly, if not
verbally), "What kind of cruel trickster is God?" For the truth
is, many gays would prefer to be otherwise. Some even pay thousands of
dollars to psychiatrists and spend years in therapy trying to change their
sexual orientation only to find they cannot.
Some "progressive" Christian therapists try hard to convince
their gay clients that they should accept their homosexuality as a gift of
God. This usually requires a hard sell. The gay person cannot easily
escape the deep heartfelt feeling that life, or fate, or God, or someone
has played a cruel trick on him or her. We are definitely working against
the grain when we try to convince a gay person otherwise. I believe we are
not really taking their pain or situation seriously. We are trying to make
things too simple. We are crying, "'Peace, peace,'" when there
is no peace."
Also, I can find no warrant or foundation whatsoever to say that being gay
is a gift of God. There is certainly absolutely no biblical warrant for
this. It seems to be based solely on the assumption that whatever we are
is what God has made us. Are babies born blind because God intended them
to be that way? Is everyone's sexual orientation a gift of God? What about
paedophiles? (Please do not misunderstand me here. I am in no way
suggesting a moral equivalence between homosexuals and paedophiles.)
Paedophiles do not choose their sexual orientation either, nor can their
orientation be easily changed. Should we say to them: "God made you a
paedophile. Rejoice and be glad in it!"
The truth is, all of us, straight and gay, know fundamentally that the
natural purpose of sex, though not the only one, is biological
reproduction. There is no getting around that. The homosexual knows that
in light of that most basic fact, his or her sexuality is distorted, and
he or she grieves over that. They grieve that they will never be able to
know the full complementary love of a person of the opposite sex. They
grieve that they can never have children. We should grieve with them.
The "moderate" Christian answer goes something like this: We do
not believe that God ever intends any of His people to be homosexual. We
believe people are gay not because they choose to be so, but because all
of nature is fallen and out of wack. We recognise that God does not always
remove the thorn in our flesh or psyche no matter how fervently we pray
for Him to do so (though sometimes He might). Though the thorn is a
"messenger of Satan" we, like Paul, can ultimately be thankful
for it because it teaches us to rely more on God's grace. Our practical
advice for the gay Christian is change your orientation if you can. If
not, be celibate if you can. If not, be as moral (i.e. monogamous) as you
Many will reject this "moderate" view because it is a path of
tension. They will prefer either the "conservative" or
"progressive" view. These positions have dealt with the tension
by denying it. But there is much to commend this "moderate"
view. It takes both Scripture and the situation and the pain of the gay
person seriously. It recognises the difficulty of a person's changing his
or her sexual orientation. It also recognises the difficulty of living a
However, this view also sounds better in theory than it works in practice.
It encourages a gay person to have a monogamous gay relationship if
necessary; however, it does not recognise the difficulty of doing so. If
you haven't noticed, heterosexuals seem to be having a tough time living
in monogamous relationships too. This is the case even though we have
great ecclesiastical and civil support systems for the institution of
heterosexual marriage. Think how hard it must be for a gay person to live
a purely monogamous life without the blessing of, or any support from the
church and society.
All the church's answers are too simple. Until we all recognise this we
will never be in a place to truly minister to the homosexual. Given that,
what should the church do?
A passage in the book of Acts that I preached from recently has gained a
new perspective for me. The passage doesn't mention homosexuality, but I
cannot read this story now without thinking about this issue. It is
contained in Acts 8:26-40
The story is about an Ethiopian eunuch. To be sure, a eunuch, a man who
has been castrated, and a homosexual are not the same thing, but there are
similarities. Neither can function fully as a heterosexual person. Neither
has chosen their "orientation."
This eunuch, a high Ethiopian official, is riding down the road in his
chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah. Why? Why is he even reading the
Bible? A eunuch was not even allowed in the Temple in Jerusalem. The Old
Testament in Deuteronomy 23:1 declared: "No man who has been
castrated may be included among the Lord's people." Can you imagine
what that is like? To be excluded from the people of God? To be disallowed
from even entering the church?
The passage the eunuch is reading says: "He was led like a lamb to
the slaughter, like a sheep before its shearers is dumb. He didn't open
his mouth. Justice was denied him. He has been cut off from the land of
the living. Who is going to declare his posterity?" What posterity?
This man has been "cut off." He will have no posterity, no
descendants. He is like the eunuch. He will have no children, no family.
The eunuch asks Philip, whom God has sent to meet his chariot, "Who
is this man of whom the prophet speaks?" He wanted to know
desperately. I am sure he also knew the passage in Isaiah which says:
"The days will come when the foreigner will no longer say, 'The Lord
will separate me from his people.' The days will come when the eunuch will
no longer say, 'O I am just a dry stick.' The days will come when the
eunuch who loves me and my house and my covenant which shall be better
than a thousand sons and daughters and will be remembered forever."
Could the man the prophet is talking about be the one to bring in this new
day when even a eunuch could be a part of God's family? After hearing
Philip tell the story about Jesus, the eunuch asks Philip, "Can I be
baptised? Can I be a part of this new family of God?" Philip says,
"Yes." (No doubt he was thinking, "Boy, am I going to get
in trouble for this." He had already found himself in trouble with
some in the church for previously baptising some Samaritans.) As I noted
before, this passage does not mention gays, but can we truly say that it
has absolutely no application to them?
Is homosexual love distorted or perverted or abnormal? Yes, but all human
love is to some degree distorted and perverted. That goes along with the
fact that we are all sinners. It is just that our love is perverted and
distorted in different ways. Gay love also can be fulfilling and
admirable. How can one not admit this after seeing a gay man
compassionately care for his companion who is dying of AIDS?
Should gays have all the civil rights and protections as other people.
Yes, most definitely. I would also say that for the sake of those whose
sexual orientation is still being formed (a process of which we are still
largely ignorant), society needs to somehow express its clear preference
for heterosexuality without denying the dignity of any human being on the
basis of their actions. I do not pretend to believe this will be easy. But
somehow we have to be Jesus to people and Jesus always looked past the sin
and dealt with the real person inside, knowing that if He could connect at
the heart level and begin His transforming work of grace in there . . .
that the sin would be dealt with, in time.
Can the church handle this issue in a way that is compassionate and true
to the biblical teaching that sexuality should be fully expressed only in
a lifelong monogamous heterosexual relationship? I believe the answer is
The church already has demonstrated that this is possible in the way that
we have learned to deal with the issue of divorce and remarriage. Not long
ago the church told its members that they should never get divorced. If
they did get divorced, they should not marry someone else while their
divorced partner was alive. To do so was to live in a kind of legal
adultery. The church believed that this was most clearly the biblical
The church, like Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew (but not Mark and Luke)
allowed an exception in the case of marital infidelity. We have loosened
on this considerably. We have recognised the complexities which lead to
the break up of us married heterosexual sinners. The church ultimately
decided that compassion would not allow it to require divorced Christians
to live a life of enforced celibacy, sexual frustration, and loneliness.
The church, or most of the Church that is, decided that, though it could
never see divorce as anything but a sin, it could and would welcome
divorced and remarried people into the life of its community, just like it
welcomes all other sinners.
Ultimately, the word the church has to give to homosexuals or anyone else
is not, "I'm okay, and you're not okay." Neither is it,
"I'm okay, and you're okay." Our message is ultimately,
"I'm not okay, and you're not okay. But that's okay - because Jesus
is going to make us OK."
Ultimately, the church has no simple answers for homosexuals or anyone
else. In the final analysis, the only thing the church has to offer is the
only thing it really has, Christ crucified, the Lamb that was slaughtered.
The cross is no simple answer either, not even for God's Son. He is there
on the cross for all, feeling their pain bearing their sin. His word to
all is, "I forgive. Do the best you can in your struggle with sin,
and trust My grace for the rest. Just know that the punishment for that
sin has now been fully metered out - it fell upon me - once and for
To those struggling with homosexuality I say this: There are no simple,
easy answers for you. Of course, you already know that. You can choose to
live in the closet always in fear of discovery. You can choose to come out
of the closet and risk being ostracised, totally or partially, by your
family, your friends, your church, and your employer. To come out of the
closet may mean your expulsion from the rest of society into a gay ghetto.
You are the most ostracised people in our society. Blacks may be
discriminated against in housing and employment, but at least they can
count on the support of family, friends, and church. You cannot. You have
no simple choices. The church has no simple answers for you either, but we
do grieve with you.
Jesus invites you to come to the foot of His cross. The cross is the place
you can come when you have exhausted all the simple answers. (Indeed, does
anyone come to the cross any other time?) Christ is there on the cross for
you. He will not turn you away. That is what Jesus will do with you. I
don't know what the rest of us gathered there on Calvary are going to do
with you. I really don't. But I hope we will choose to welcome you with
open arms as one sinner to another.
To those of you who until now have adopted a harsh attitude towards
homosexuals, or worse still, one of indifference, I plead with you in the
name of Jesus to repent of that indifference or that judgemental spirit.
It may be the hardest road you ever travel, but it is possible to love and
accept sinners without condoning their sin. It is possible to make it
clear to a practicing homosexual that their lifestyle is contrary to God's
creative purpose for them and that they are inviting Satan to sow seeds of
pain and destruction into their lives. It is possible to make that clear
BUT at the same time give them a hug and tell then we love them in the
Lord and accept them just as they are and will relate to them as one
sinner to another.
Did God ask you to clean up your act and remove all traces of sin before
He accepted you and brought you into the kingdom of light? NO WAY. You'd
still be lost in darkness if that were a pre-requisite. So why do we
expect homosexuals to change their whole psychosexual makeup before we can
stand beside them in worship and laugh and cry with them in home group and
preach the gospel with them to the lost. You may be feeling very
uncomfortable at present and want to cry out NO. This is different. You
can't allow practicing homosexuals into the Church.
Well, friends, if that's the line we take then I would ask those who
struggle consistently with the sin of gossip to please leave now. And
those who laugh at the filthy jokes and tell a few of their own now and
then - you can go too. And those who struggle with lust and pornography
and wouldn't dare admit it - God knows who you are and you may as well
leave too . . . . if a clean life is to be our criteria for acceptance in
Now, having said all that, let me say that there will be no place for a
practicing homosexual in leadership or positions of authority in the
Church. The social implications of their particular struggle are far to
serious to expose them or those they lead to the attack of Satan, should
they become a leader. Yet I would say exactly the same thing about a
person who was a chronic gossiper. Or a person who had a major deficiency
in their relational skills and just walked all over people when it suited
them. Or a person who had major problems in their marriage and family. I
would put them in the same category as a practicing homosexual. They are a
sinner, saved by grace, and as such they are as welcome in the body of
Christ and any of us are and they will be loved and cared for in the same
way. However they are a sinner, whose current struggles with sin, preclude
them from a position of significant influence in the Church.
Somewhere, we have to allow the marriage of truth and love. Jesus is only
one I know that can do that completely and consistently. He is the only
one who can confront sin head-on and yet not destroy the sinner in the
process. The woman caught in adultery had no doubt as to Jesus' view on
adultery. Yet she also had no doubt about His love and acceptance of her
as the unique child of God she was.
Jesus is the only hope for homosexuals and every other sinner in this
world. If we desire to be Jesus to those around us, and if we really begin
manifest His grace and love and compassion - then be warned - God will
send us homosexuals. God will send us adulterers and fornicators and every
size and shape of sinner you can imagine. God is desperately seeking
Churches where He can send these hurting, confused, needy people. Sadly
there are very few to choose from.
There are gay Churches that love the people but fail to confront the sin
or offer any hope of healing and relief. Then there are the conservative,
self-righteous Churches who do a great job of confronting the sin, but
miss be compassion boat by a hundred miles!
If we truly desire to be Jesus to the world around us then we should pray
that God would see this Church as a safe haven for those who struggle with
their sexual orientation. I pray that this would be a place where people
could come and be accepted as they are - loved unconditionally AND . . . a
place where they can be introduced to the power of God that can support
them, strengthen them and even heal them, restore them and lead them to
wholeness in every area of their lives.
My friends, as I close I want to remind you of a powerful verse in the
Bible which we should never forget. In 1 Cor.15:10, Paul said these simple
words: But by the grace of God I am what I am.
Paul's life had been transformed from that of a murdering,
Christian-bashing, Church destroying Pharisee . . . to the greatest
Apostle who ever lived. Where he once spoke words of hatred and
condemnation, he now spoke the gospel of grace and mercy and peace. Where
he once drove Christians from their homes and meeting places, he now
planted Churches - attracting thousands and eventually millions into the
kingdom of God.
As Paul looked at where he was now and where he had come from he said: But
by the grace of God I am what I am. He was saying several things in one.
He was saying: I didn't do this. No human being has the power to make
these sorts of changes. My whole life and direction and purpose has been
turned around - God did this. I stand in the glory of His grace. He was
also saying that anything is possible for God. Our greatest challenge is
no match for God. Nothing stands against God's grace. His is grace is
sufficient for every need, Paul says in 2 Cor.12:9.
What is your need right now? God is here and His grace will meet that
- Do you need
forgiveness for your narrow, harsh attitude towards those who struggle
with their sexual orientation? God is here now and his grace will meet
- Do you need the
strength to support that friend or that family member who may be
homosexual, loving them unconditionally whilst not condoning their
lifestyle? God is here now and his grace will meet that need.
- Are you someone
who struggles with this issue personally and need the power of God to
touch you at the deepest level and release you to be who God created
you to be - and that is not a homosexual. Do you want to be free from
the torment and the pain and the guilt and the alienation you feel
from friends, family, the Church and the society at large? God is here
now and his grace will meet that need. THE END
here for the original sermon by Robert Griffith on his new website.
At the time he preached this sermon, Robert Griffith pastored the Orange Baptist Church in Orange, NSW, Australia. In an email on June 5, 2003, he shared, "I continue to get
emails from people all over the world from that one sermon. It has
received more hits than any other sermon have put on the site. The need is
here to see more grace-oriented sermons on Robert's site. Note that the number of hits
the page receives on Robert's site does not include the pages on which his
sermon is copied on other sites, such as this one.