Saturday, December 18, 2010

Practice doesn't make perfect: Can a practicing Christian practice homosexuality?

Several months ago, I received an invitation to a local ELCA church. Their brochure and materials were quite inviting and it looked like an incredibly great place to go and hang out. I didn't go, because I am already attending a church and like it there, but somehow something struck my interest in this church.

What struck me, and sort of gnawed within me was that the ELCA had recently moved to allow gay clergy. I don't know all of the details, but I believe that a practicing homosexual can be an ordained Lutheran priest/pastor. So, I asked this pastor, respectfully what his church's stance on homosexuality, sin and all those "troublesome" doctrines that are found in the Bible.

In his response, he said some things which I think are 1) true and 2) damning to the body of Christ at large. His response was something like to the effect of why are Christians making a big deal of gay clergy and homosexuality as a sin in general. Especially, when many in the body of Christ are not following Christ's commands to feed the poor, etc. He has a great point. God clearly defines both in the Old and New Testaments that He is for the poor. The OT, He punished Israel for not caring for the fatherless or widows. And I believe that Christ is going to hold all of us to account for not giving enough to help those in need. In the area of giving, I am the foremost sinner, but God is working on that.

I never replied to this pastor. I was going to. I was going to throw all these scriptures at him, and support my arguments, etc. but I felt it would lead nowhere. I am not the most spiritually sensitive person, but to me it felt as though God burned within me for the initial email to challenge the pastor's beliefs and I felt no such urge for a follow up. What could I say to convince him I was right? And is it my job to? Does God want me to? At this time, I think I have done my part, because I think any further dialogue would not be fruitful. I would like to discuss with him, but I don't want a polite discussion to turn into an "ignorant argument."

2 Timothy 2:23 - Again I say, don't get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 2:24 The Lord's servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. 2:25 They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will believe the truth. 2:26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

This whole episode though, leaves the question: should there be practicing homosexual clergy? And can a truly born again Christian be a practicing homosexual?

Before reading through this, or any post, pray for God to give you wisdom and to help sift out my errors. I pray before writing, but I am human after all. If I err, or misrepresent God and His word, please leave a comment, and I will examine it. But if you don't like what I say, simply because you disagree, let me know, but ultimately it's between you and the Lord.

Next I want to disclaim a few things.

1) I have a friend who is gay, and I try to show them the unconventional love that Christ would show. I have shared my beliefs with them on some level, and it's my hope that my love towards them can show them that Christians should not hate them. This should demonstrate that Christ does not.

2) I have uncovered evidence that one of my grandfathers may have been a closet homosexual. He was once married, and father to my family member who conceived and bore me. I never knew him really, nor did I see the evidence, but it wouldn't surprise me. Upon his death my family found homosexual pornography, as well as other items of interest.

3) Romans 3:23 For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. 3:24 Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. 3:25 For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times.


John 8:7 – 11 8:7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, "All right, stone her. But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones!" 8:10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to her, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?" 8:11 "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more."

As such, I am not the one who will pass judgment.

So with this established, I would like to submit that a pastor/priest should not be a practicing homosexual, and that a sincere Christian should not be practicing homosexuality. In light of that, a Christian should be confessing it as sin to God, and asking Him to remove this from their life. Other Christians should be loving to homosexuals, but not to the point where we are endorsing the behavior. Sounds like there's a crowd with torches outside. If at all possible I'd like to be put in the wickerman that's holding Dr. Future and Tom Bionic.

First, clergy. The Apostle Paul has clear guidelines for who should and should not be a leader in the church. This should go for elders, deacons and in my opinion, especially pastors and priests. I won't go through each one, but please read through all of them yourself in 1 Timothy 3. Here are some select ones. (sorry for the formatting issues)

* He must exhibit self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation
* Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not fall into the Devil's trap and be disgraced.
* They must be committed to the revealed truths of the Christian faith and must live with a clear conscience.
* In the same way, their wives must be respected and must not speak evil of others.
* A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well.
* (duplicate point but from the ASV) An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,

Now, some may say that the guidelines given in 1 Timothy 3 are old fashioned and outdated. The 21st century has moved beyond such limitations. Why should we follow these guidelines? Perhaps I am an isolated example, but I have been in a church where we had pastors, neither of whom lined up with the guidelines. I voted for them both, much to my chagrin, but my friend voted against because they didn't line up with 1 Timothy 3. So what happened to these pastors?

One, a woman (having a woman pastor is debatable, early church leaders did have some women I think Phoebe and a few others) I am not sure where she didn't line up exactly but she ended up having issues. Hearsay (I know, not good to gossip) had it that God apparently told her that the church told her she needed the church to provide her with a specific brand of car. She was let go not long afterwards.

The other, the pastor I once lived with. This guy, not to speak ill of him, had large quantities of hard liquor (which I did not see him drink excessively). But he also was not married. In my opinion, he did not live wisely, and had several expensive hobbies. It eventually turned out that he had been involved in some sort of intimate affair with a girl who had been in his high school youth ministry, but once she was in college things grew intimate. He was then dismissed.

God's guidelines provided by Paul prove that following them are a good idea.

To return to the above selections. I would also submit that a pastor that is homosexual, would not be considered of a good reputation, at least before the "openmindedness" of recent years. Even now in this "open" culture, being gay still has some stigma/reputation issues attached to it. Take a look at pastors who have been outed recently for cheating on their wives with men. Or even when they cheat with other women. The fact that these have made headlines was because it was shocking. If a pastor seeking after men wasn't shocking, it wouldn't have been news.

Then there is this "must be committed to the revealed truths of the Christian faith" and Christ and the NT are clear that we are to abstain from sexual immorality. And if one "burns with lust" (sexual desires?) they should get married. Marriage has always been between man and woman. (There are many OT cases where a man married multiple women, but this is clearly not an ideal situation and creates much potential for conflict). Here we see these are directed to ALL Believers as well as clergy.

* 1 Corinthians 7:9 - But if they can't control themselves, they should go ahead and marry. It's better to marry than to burn with lust.

* 1 Corinthians 10:8 - And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.

* Acts 15:20 except that we should write to them and tell them to abstain from eating meat sacrificed to idols, from sexual immorality, and from consuming blood or eating the meat of strangled animals.

* and many, many more.

"But wait, I'm gay! It's not sin, it's who I am! God made me this way, my genes made me this way, how is that sin?"

Well, God made me too. I have desires, many of which are sinful. It's perfectly natural for me to be attracted to and check out other women outside of my wife. But, Christ said clearly that if you look at someone lustfully you commit adultery in your heart. That means it's sinful. Pick it apart. My natural inclination is to look at women. God's word says it's sinful. So, do I brush it aside and do it anyways? No, that's part of the taking up your cross daily to follow Him. We all have a sin nature, Christ was the only one who didn't. The same way an alcoholic may argue he/she is genetically attracted to alcoholism. Or someone else to porn, or anything else sinful.

"So, OK, prove it's sinful."

Instead of the oft quoted Sodom and Gomorrah argument, I'll use the oft quoted Leviticus argument, but I'll explain a possible reason why (this is where the praying for discernment comes in). It's widely recognized that in Sodom and Gomorrah homosexuality was but one of the things they were doing. I wouldn't say it was the only thing, but I don't know all the details.

Leviticus 18:6 – 23 (what not to do) Lev 18:24 – 30 (The consequences of doing the above)

In this chapter, the Lord outlines a number of sexual practices that are forbidden. To God homosexuality is as bad as say murder. To God, sin is sin. To God, if I steal a candy bar, it's effectively as bad as murder. I broke His law. In our human eyes, it's totally not on the same level, but as I believe Paul says, break one command, and you've effectively broken them all.

David Guzik has some interesting things to say as well. I don't know where he gets his info, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was true.

"Simply put, God calls homosexual sex an abomination, even as He does in Romans 1:24-32. Additionally, homosexuality was part of the idolatrous perversions which were allowed in Israel at its times of backsliding (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12, and 22:46).

i. Homosexual practice truly is an abomination in our present culture. 43% of homosexuals say that they have had 500 or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Only 1% of homosexuals say they have had four or less sexual partners in their lifetime.

ii. Homosexuals seem to specialize in anonymous sex with no emotional commitment. At one time, London AIDS clinics defined a woman as promiscuous if she’d had more than six partners in her lifetime. They gave up trying to apply a workable definition to male homosexuals when it became clear that they saw almost no homosexual men who had less than six sexual partners a year. "

Take that back to the guidelines for an elder, and consider if a gay pastor is a good idea.

Back to Guzik where he backs up my earlier argument against the "I was born this way" defense.

"This command is commonly objected to on the grounds that one was born - or created - with homosexual desires. “I was born this way; God made me a homosexual. It is my nature to be homosexual; it would be against my nature to be heterosexual.”

i. The problem is that the Bible says we are all sinners by nature; not a single person is born without an attraction to sin in some way or another. We should not say that God made the homosexual; we could say that Adam did, when he passed on the effects of his rebellion to the entire human race.

ii. Our inborn attraction to sin justifies nothing. The one who practices homosexuality can no more justify himself by saying “I was born this way” than can the person who hates homosexuals justify their ungodly hatred by saying “I was born this way.”

iii. Many justify homosexual practice on the basis of love. They might say, “How can it be wrong to love someone of my own sex? How can love be wrong?” Yet if someone loves their children, it does not justify sexual conduct with them. The issue isn’t love; the issue is of sexual conduct. Of course, the Bible in no way condemns love between people of the same sex, but it does say that sexual conduct between those people is sin."

I don't have any stats to back up Guzik's claims, but I would love to find some and put those up here at some point.

On top of this, I believe that practicing homosexuality can in some cases open the door for demonic activity. (Put on your discernment hats folks. Dust 'em off!)

Lev 18:24 – 30

"Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the people I am expelling from the Promised Land have defiled themselves.


As a result, the entire land has become defiled. That is why I am punishing the people who live there, and the land will soon vomit them out.


"All these detestable activities are practiced by the people of the land where I am taking you, and the land has become defiled.


Do not give the land a reason to vomit you out for defiling it, as it will vomit out the people who live there now.

This is all speculation, but I think the following examples support my theory. Obviously, it's wrong because God says so, but also because there are other not so good things associated with homosexuality. Russ Dizdar in his Podcasts insists that defilement, especially sexually is an integral part of demonic activity. William Kennedy in a recent View From the Bunker episode alluded to the fact that all of the major sex trafficking operations world wide are tied directly to Satanic worship. Aleister Crowley is reported to have had his first contact with a demonic being through some sort of homosexual act. I would also speculate that God also forbade sex with animals for this same reason (and other obvious ones). That's probably also why there are restrictions on not eating blood. (Incidently, the nephilim of Genesis 6 were said to consume blood in myth and in the Book of Enoch, for what that's worth) Homosexuality is a sin because God said it is, but also because it defiles (Paul says somewhere that sexual sin is a sin against your own body, the temple of the Holy Spirit) oneself and has the potential to allow demonic contact, which is clearly forbidden. (see witchcraft)

It's also interesting to note, that the Israelites practiced homosexuality and other sexual sins, and various related idolatries (which idols do nothing but I believe Paul suggests there are real demonic beings involved in idol worship) and God did indeed send them to exile out of their land.

It should hopefully be clear why this practice does not please God, and why it is harmful to oneself. For these reasons, if you are practicing homosexuality, I would urge you to repent and ask God for help in Christ. See Romans 6 for some hope. (link later.)

Even though maybe is surprising that mainstream Christians are accepting, allowing and endorsing homosexuality, it really shouldn't be. God forewarned us in His word. If not specifically about homosexuality, then other things that are similarly harmful.
2 Timothy 3:5 They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

2 Timothy 4:3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear.

Even though there may be Christians struggling with and trying to justify their practice of homosexuality, may this bring you hope. It may take alto of struggle, and be hard to do, but God loves you and can help you overcome this if you let Him. Just ask Jesus to help you.

Romans 6:10 He died once to defeat sin, and now he lives for the glory of God. 6:11 So you should consider yourselves dead to sin and able to live for the glory of God through Christ Jesus. 6:12 Do not let sin control the way you live; [fn] do not give in to its lustful desires. 6:13 Do not let any part of your body become a tool of wickedness, to be used for sinning. Instead, give yourselves completely to God since you have been given new life. And use your whole body as a tool to do what is right for the glory of God. 6:14 Sin is no longer your master, for you are no longer subject to the law, which enslaves you to sin. Instead, you are free by God's grace. 6:15 So since God's grace has set us free from the law, does this mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 6:16 Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval. 6:17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you have obeyed with all your heart the new teaching God has given you. 6:18 Now you are free from sin, your old master, and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness.

Though it is true, Christians need to serve the poor, and improve in many areas, it is still no excuse to endorse or allow this "lifestyle" to overrule the laws of God. We should not be allowing practicing gay clergy. A Christian should no more be having gay sex than he/she should be sleeping around with others of the opposite sex. We should reach out in love to our brothers and sisters who are locked into this lifestyle and tell them it's wrong. The least loving thing we can do is allow them to continue to wallow in sin. The same goes for anyone who has sexual or porn addictions. God calls sin, sin, but He has mercifully allowed us a way to overcome it. Jesus and His finished work on the cross, and His rule in our daily lives and struggles.

Shalom and love in Christ.

Some resources for those struggling.

1) Chris White (Nowhere to Run) has some great and touching testimonies of those who had struggles with homosexuality. He is an awesome resource for the body. Check him out.

2) is another ministry that helps those in the gay lifestyle leave it. I haven't checked this site out much, but do your homework, make sure they are legit.

Update 10-2011

So, I am revisting this because I found a local church has a blog. Ok, it's the presbyterian church iused to attend. Anyways, they had a post about the "new presbyterian ordination standards" that allow homosexuals to serve. I don't know all the details of those standards, and I don't care frankly. The Bible, God's word is absolutely clear as I said above. The pastor, does agree that homosexualtiy is not "ideal" (no kidding) and does call it sin, BUT stops short of a clear stance on practicing homosexuals as clergy. He does say, that should the situation arise, they will have to deeply consider the candidate. I essence, he would allow a gay pastor, given the right situation. If so, then he would owe a huge apology to the perpetrator of a past sexual sin who confessed to the congregation.

Anyways, I came across these to add to the above arguments against gay clergy. 1 Corinthinians 5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9 - 20. These are crystal clear. Go read them, and then consider the gay clergy argument. 'Nuff said.

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