Love, Homosexuality, and Christianity – Do Ask, Do Tell

If you have paid attention to the news over the last several years you have noticed that there has been a lot of attention given to the topic of homosexuality, especially over gay ‘marriage’ and the, Don’t ask, Don’t tell policy. There are so many opinions out there, and many in the name of Christianity, that it is often difficult to wade through them all.

This discussion will not review all the opinions on the subject of homosexuality, but it will highlight the loving Christian response to homosexuality based on Scripture alone. This is important so that we can guard against both the errors of those who condone the sinful behavior and the errors of those who hate the sinner and deprive them of the Gospel of forgiveness. So, let’s ask what the Christian response to the topic of homosexuality is and tell the answer.

As stated above, it is important to define what it means to give a Christian response to something. A Christian response always comes from the Word of God.  If a response doesn’t come from God’s Word it is only the opinion of fallen man. Scripture is the only source and norm for all our Christian doctrine.

And what does the Word of God say about homosexuality? Scripture clearly condemns homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments (Genesis 19: 1-29; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:1-12, 13, 14-27; Romans 1:18-26-27-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:3-11; Revelation 21:8, 27:22:15). Christians must maintain the Scriptural stance that homosexuality is sinful.

No mater what rhetoric is used, gay by birth or by choice, the Christian message remains the same; confess and repent (turn away from), as you do with all sin, and receive forgiveness. It is very unloving to tell someone to embrace their sin (even if their human opinion is that their behavior isn’t sinful) because Scripture tells us that if we don’t repent and confess our sins, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (I John 1:8-9). This isn’t just true of the sins that people like to display on bumper stickers, like homosexuality and abortion, but this includes heterosexual sex or cohabitation outside of Holy Matrimony, unscriptural divorce, viewing pornography, despising preaching, false doctrine, gossiping, and the like (All 10 Commandments). This includes original and actual sins–sins of omission and commission.

When a person stops repenting and confessing a sin as such, they should fear the wrath Holy God; it is loving to warn of this danger. Therefore the Christian response to all sin, including homosexuality, is always first proclaiming the Law of God. The Law of God shows us sin and miraculously brings about contrition and confession. The Scriptural response calls sin sin, but never makes a sin seem unforgivable. Christ has died for all sins and freely forgives those who keep on confessing and repenting, no matter what they have done (John 20).

The Church is the place for all sinners, including those who struggle with the sin of homosexuality. We poor miserable sinners, who were conceived in sin, born sinful, and in weakness sin, come to Church confessing and repenting of all our sins, and the Great Physician feely forgives us. We cannot rid ourselves of sin—we are sinners. We cannot fix the sins that we struggle with, be it gossiping, lusting, or any other sin.

The Gospel is that Christ has fixed the problem of sin by His keeping the 10 Commandments for us and by His death on the cross. In Holy Baptism the sinless life of Christ covers all of our sin(s). In Holy Communion Jesus forgives all our sins. In Holy Absolution we confess our sins and Jesus sends them all away. This is the Christian response to homosexuality and every other sin. God’s Word of Law diagnoses and brings to light the problem of sin, then comforts with the medicine of the Gospel. As we move closer to The Last Day, may this Christian, Biblical, and loving response to sin be heard and believed by the whole world.

Do ask, and do tell.

 

About Pastor Clint Stark

Pastor Clint Stark is from Dallas, Texas. He is married with five young children. His undergraduate degree is from The University of Texas at Austin. During college he was converted to Lutheranism from the Southern Baptist creeds. After college he taught high school Spanish and coached basketball. He was graduated with an M.Div. from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN in 2007. He has been an LCMS pastor for a decade, and is currently pastor of St. John Lutheran in Frisco, TX. He enjoys smoking meat and spending time with his family.

Comments

Love, Homosexuality, and Christianity – Do Ask, Do Tell — 11 Comments

  1. First, thank you. You put some effort in to the Gospel, probably more than I have seen from many pastors for many many years.

    Would it be rude of me to ask you to take it one step further, however. Forgiveness and the removal of sin are the negative aspect of the Gospel. Not “negative” as in “bad” but negative in that it talks about what God takes away or does not do – He does not condemn us for sin.

    But what is the positive aspect of the Gospel?

    I suspect my experience growing up was much like many gay individuals. At about 15 I realized celibacy was probably the only God pleasing option for me. I was pretty sure I could not develop enough sexual feelings for a female to marry. Thing is, celibacy is not just about not having sex. I found it dangerous to have any close male friends. Firstly. I had a tendency to be attracted to them which would either lead to potential sin or to a broken heart. Avoiding close friendships was the only way to be faithful and avoid pain. Nor were female friends really an option as a replacement. I have found this just as true as an adult as when I was a teen, if not more so. Not to mention most friends are formed around families which the celibate individual does not have.

    Forming strong relationships with other Christians is not really a good option either. If you are foolish enough to tell you pastor, he might offer you forgiveness, but that will probably come with the price of finding yourself somewhat isolated within the congregation. The pastor, to give him the benefit of the doubt, has to consider legal ramifications and appearances. Unfortunately, homosexuality has been tied to pedophilia in the minds of many Christians (in fact, many gay Christians I know have been asked at least once by their parents if they have ever molested kids). That means no one is going to chase you out of worship but neither are you going to be asked to take any kind of an active role in the congregation. So you will go to church but you won’t ever feel at home there.

    Oddly enough, while many out and affirming gay people find they grow closer to their parents, the opposite is true of many celibate people. Parents have to find a way to relate to their affirming kids. Their homosexuality is out in the open and no one can pretend its not there – everyone is forced to find some way to relate and love one another. So they talk about it and sometimes argue about it and, in the end, grow closer to one another. But for the celibate individual, it’s just too easy for the family to ignore their sexuality and any problems that may come with it. The pressure is huge to just shut up and pretend everything is OK.

    So the celibate gay individual may not have any close relationships or friendships at home or in the Church. So much so that some Celibate gay Christians I know have said that they only time they experience any physical human contact is once a month when they get a hair cut.

    My point is that the celibate gay individual may simply have no experience of being forgiven AND loved. Forgiveness and love to him or her may mean that no one is going to kill them or beat them up or kick them out of the house but neither is anyone going to get close to them or indicate they are wanted and liked or even hug them.

    It can be a profoundly lonely lifestyle.

    So what is the positive aspect of the Gospel? What does God actually offer to the person who, in repentance, faith and obedience, chooses to accept such isolation for decades? what does forgiveness offer the 14 or 15 year old kid who sees before him the choice of being accepted and loved by the gay community or living in isolation and loneliness in the Church?

    I don’t think it is wise to promise that the Church will reach out or offer to assuage the loneliness as I doubt many congregations or pastors would have the courage to actually put that into practice. But what, exactly does God offer? Does forgiveness mean more than God simply not sending one to hell?

    If you can not answer, that’s fine. Simply in making an effort to actually include the Gospel is more than the vast majority of pastors have done. But I would like you to consider if there is something positive God offers as well.

  2. @Mathew Andersen #1

    You asked what positive there is given to the individual who remains celebate while struggling with a same-sex attraction. (This is going to be a bit long, since I’ll speak of my time of celibacy in praying for our Lord to give me a wife.) First of all, Holy Scripture acknowledges that we do struggle with our sin, original and actual. So, along with Jesus’ rescuing us from “this body of death” (Rom. 7:25), He says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Him (Rom. 8:1) That’s not a get a peaceful, easy feeling free card. Our bodies and consciences are, indeed, a war zone (Rom 7:22-23) regardless what besetting sins we wrestle with on a daily basis.
    Hence, our Lord through His suffering and death works in us His sufficient grace that superabounds for us amid our need. (2 Cor. 12:9-10) That thorn in Paul’s flesh came so that he not become conceited upon seeing visions and the like too wonderful for words. While we haven’t been snatched up into the third heaven, we have been seated in the heavenly realms through faith in Jesus Christ by His grace bestowed upon us in Baptism. (Eph. 2:4-7) In Baptism, Jesus has granted us eternal life even now when putting His Name on us. In that baptism, He continues His work in us until the day of His coming. (Phil. 1:6) And along with that come times of testing. (Pray the words to LSB 418 and 424 which speak of the trials that come our way and of LSB 507 and 656 where we pray our Lord to be our stronghold against temptations that assault us.)
    So, gaining contentment with celibacy is a matter which may wax or wane on a daily basis…or at least, how we react to being gifted with celibacy.
    The same is true for those of us who were virgins till later on in our mid forties, myself included, until being united with a woman in holy matrimony and enjoying the gift of sex in the marital bounds. Not that I could have kept that celibacy myself. It was the Lord convicting me with His written Word when situations got close to compromising. It came through the forgiveness spoken to me for not-so-holy thoughts by my pastor in private confession and absolution in the stead&by the command of Jesus Christ.
    And, as our Lord has stood us in His grace through justifying us by His declaration (Rom. 5:1-2), He upholds us by His Spirit who works endurance, perseverance, character and hope in us. (Rom. 5:3-5)
    1 Cor. 7 speaks of celibacy as a gift as much as Biblical marriage is a gift. Gifts aren’t always things that make us feel good emotionally or psychologically. Yet, in those gifts, our Lord continues drawing us to Himself that He may give us all of Himself. So, Jesus invites all who labor and are heavy-laden to come to Him, that is, to receive His forgiveness, life and salvation through His body and blood often.
    And, as you struggle with your celibacy, however long it lasts, your fellow congregation members and other friends will be there to speak that consolation, share in your joy as you find ways of just doing leisurely activities out and about. Rejoice in some hobbies with others who share your interests.
    And, in your times of wrestling and your times of contentment, our Lord will continue drawing you daily to HIs Word in devotions and often to His Divine Service with fellow Christians who, likewise, struggle with besetting and other sins of their own.

  3. I support this. However, it is so difficult a subject to be of one mind on it, the Word says do not associate with those who practice a abomination, but chances are that there is one in you family, Congregation, workplace or social circle, whom you cannot ignore or avoid.

    In HIS love and service.

    Barney

    C.P.J. Bahnerth PhD

  4. The Bible often speaks not bout people but behaviour. The badly misquoted Lev.11 speaks and condemns all sexual activity outside of marriage, “…you shall not be like Egyptians who you left or be like the people of the land where I am taking you” The it lists sexual activity that is condemned that brings punishment by death. It never singles out homosexuals.

    I would suggest we are at the end of a very spoiled culture and country. I want what I want when I want and don’t tell me I’m wrong.

  5. Homosexuality and suicide are blasphemies against the Holy Spirit.

    (Mark 3:22-30)
    “22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el’zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house. 28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

    1. (1st question) Where is the Holy Spirit?

    – 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.
    (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

    – 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
    (John 14:16-17)

    – 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
    (Acts 2:38)

    – so when we are baptized the Holy Spirit enters us and we become God’s Temple.

    2. (2nd question) What is the main point of the parable?

    – it is towards itself or ones’ self or it references its own

    – it is not towards others

    3. (3rd question) Why homosexual and suicide are blasphemies against the Holy Spirit?

    – if you are born a natural man or a natural woman then the Holy Spirit will also be a man or a woman as reference to your natural self.

    – but when you choose to be someone other than your natural self then you are violating (blasphemy) nature and the Holy Spirit.

    – you do not commit suicide if it is done by others (it would be murder or homicide), so suicide is to kill its own self.

  6. Dear Matthew,

    Your question, “What is the positive aspect of the Gospel?” is a very important question that drives to the point of how severely misunderstood the Office of the Keys and the right understanding of the new life that is given in Baptism is. Your question is a marvelous observation of how lacking the modern understanding of Church is, and of that which destroys everything, namely, Sin.

    The question that you have raised has three essential parts:

    1. What is the Gospel?
    2. What is Sin?
    3. What is Homosexuality?

    I will attempt to address these three parts. Please remember that the answers that we need are not from our own corrupted reason but from the Word of God that has been revealed, declared, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. Our reason must be the servant that is subjected to God’s Word. Otherwise what we acquire will only deepen the rift of misunderstanding and confusion.

    Before venturing into the topic, I need to state that the individual’s perspective plays an enormous role in the confusion and makes a general and broad answer difficult. Thus the Office of the Keys, the Office of individual application of the Gospel to the specific sin needs of broken and struggling sinners is ordained as a personal and private application, not a broad and sweeping application. Nevertheless, the Gospel/Truth is the same for us all and can be stated openly and plainly for all. Thus the Office of the Keys is also ordained as the public preaching of the Gospel within the ordained public Office of the Ministry.

    Regarding the personal perspective, your family history, personal experience with physical and emotional abuses or neglect, sexual encounters and abuses, faith background and development, bodily ailments and weaknesses and strengths, nurturing and education, and all aspects of your personal life, these are largely unknown to me. Thus it is a far reach for me to try to address these issues for you directly. With this stated, I will state what I can.

    First, what is the Gospel?

    The Gospel is God’s gracious message of reconciliation and restoration into the Holy Communion of the Holy Trinity. It is the power of God into Salvation for those who believe. It is healing of body, mind, spirit, and soul. It is restoration of the Image of God in which Man is created. The image of God is Christ Jesus.

    This reconciliation, restoration, and healing is effected with one’s baptism into the body of Christ. It is maintained and continually built up and rebuilt or restored through the ongoing Communion that is foremost effected and realized in the Cup of the New Testament in Christ’s blood and in the communion of Christ’s body. This is REAL reconciliation, restoration, and healing. It is truly and genuinely effected by God through His means of grace. This is the new life of the regenerated believer. It is more powerful than every sin and perversion of our sinful nature. It is purely God’s gracious work, which means that it in no way whatsoever depends upon our powerless attempts at godliness and faith. Thus we can truly trust it fully and it will never fail us. It will accomplish what God promises.

    Secondly, what is sin?

    Sin is the departure from and perversion of God’s will and creation. Sin is the false notion of free will that the serpent used to deceive the woman and tempt Adam. Sin is the pseudo-reasoning of the imagined higher understanding and knowledge that challenges the reality that God has declared to be. Sin is the corruption and perversion that Adam chose for himself and his wife and for all of mankind. Sin is the corrupted nature that continues on in the lineage of Adam to all who are born of his seed. Sin is who and what we are as Adam’s descendants.

    This is why the New Adam of the Woman’s Seed apart from the corrupted union of man and wife was promised in Genesis 3. God Himself had to effect the restoration through His own body and blood, first with His own birth, life, ministry, false condemnation, suffering, crucifixion and death. Then with His resurrection, ascension and everlasting life and reign on our behalf, all of which is applied to us with the Word in and with the water and bread and wine.

    Is our inheritance genetic or spiritual? The answer is YES. We are one creation. Body and spirit make up one living soul. However, we are all born DEAD and must be regenerated as living souls again as God breathes into us again the breath/Spirit of Life through the Word and Sacraments in His living body.

    Our sinfulness is not merely spiritual, thus the Scriptures address us as both fleshly and spiritual. The sin inheres in our flesh as we are born dead in sin. We are revived in the first resurrection of Baptism to be living souls again, even though the sin-death still inheres in our flesh and must be continually put to death again through the metanoia (often mistranslated as repentance) that the Spirit works through the means of grace.

    Thirdly, what is Homosexuality?

    Homosexuality is a modern invention of fallen Man. It is a false concept, a non reality. In the 19th century this term was invented in order to try to redefine the reality of sin and to excuse sin of all kinds.

    St. Paul defines the giving up of God’s order of creation as an extreme manifestation of idolatry. All sin is a manifestation of idolatry, but as people move farther and farther from God’s Holy Communion into the darkness of pseudo-science, (false knowledge), the sinful perversions become more extreme.

    It is doubtful that St. Paul ever imagined that it would eventually develop so extremely as to be expressed as transgender and whatever else is expressed today. Yet it seems that mankind’s depravity has no limits.

    What has been labeled as homosexuality in recent times is really a confusion of one’s self and of one’s natural affections and attractions. The problem is that our natural affections and attractions have been misunderstood because of our corrupted nature.

    God created us as sexual creatures who are to live in close communion with one another according to His blessed order in His Communion. He created us with very strong emotions and desires. One of the strongest of these is to be fruitful and multiply, that is, our sexuality. God created us to be procreators of His highest creation. He blessed us to be partakers of His desire to fill the earth with people.

    Because this is such an integral part of our being, of our essence, after the fall we now have a strong tendency to confuse all attraction and affection as sexual. Thus we have endless production of romance novels and movies and music reflecting this confusion. Sin turns everything upside down and inside out for us emotionally.

    It is perfectly natural for two men to be attracted to one another and to feel strong affection toward one another. Thus St. John identifies himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. Apparently they were especially affectionate toward one another, even with John reclining against Jesus’ bosom, like with Lazarus and Abraham in the account that Jesus told concerning the damnation of the unloving and uncaring rich man. St. Paul repeatedly tells the saints to greet one another and all of the brethren with an holy kiss. No one thought it odd for Judas to greet his Rabbi with a kiss, even though it was a kiss of betrayal. And these kisses were not just on the cheek.

    It is not unnatural for us to greet one another with a kiss. It is entirely according to the image of God in which we are created to feel strong attraction and affection toward one another and to desire to demonstrate this physically.

    But our perverse natures cause us to confuse these holy desires. Our corrupt nature often defaults to the sexual part of our identity when we feel strongly toward one another. This is true of the man/woman and boy/girl feelings as well as man/man and woman/woman. Affection or philos becomes confused as sexual or eros.

    Understanding this is an important part of understanding the reconciliation, restoration, and healing effected by the Gospel. As you point out, Matthew, remission of sins is but the beginning. By remitting our sins God opens our hearts and minds to begin to know ourselves again. He opens us to partake of His Holy Communion and to embrace one another within the communion of the saints. He opens our hearts and eyes and ears and senses to begin to see and know Him again as our gracious and loving heavenly Father and to know ourselves as His beloved children in Christ.

    Our Lord Jesus’ words on the cross are helpful in understanding this. On the cross He cried out asking God why He had forsaken Him. But the Father never forsook His Son. It is impossible for them to be separated as they are truly One. What our Lord Jesus experienced was the fullness of our sin, which blinded Him to the Father’s presence. This is what He suffered for us so that our sin could be remitted and we could begin again to see the Truth. God never abandons any of us. We, like Adam and his wife, turn from the holiness of God in the terror of our sinfulness. He comes to us, calls us out, confronts us, restores us, and heals us.

    Yes, He HEALS us. He sets us free to live in His holiness. He accomplishes this and maintains this in His true Church where the means of grace are administered purely and rightly. Yes, He restores us so that we may embrace one another in His Holy Communion as true brothers and sisters of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  7. @nineteen #5

    @Paul Siems #6

    Both of you have a lot of critical issues. Every confessional Lutheran pastor (and laity) reading your comments will have many red flags. You need to meet with a confessional Lutheran pastor for the time needed regarding the Scriptural truth on so many doctrinal matters. If you were at my parish we can engage these issues as much as needed but would express the critical need for you to be in Adult Catechism/Confirmation Class. I wish you both well.

  8. Wow. A wonderful colloquium on the largely avoided topics of celibacy and same-sense attraction in light of the Gospel. I just signed onto the BJS site, and am I encouraged.

  9. According to Jesus Christ, St. Paul and the Lutheran Confessions, “celibacy” is a rare, divine gift given only to a few.

    It is not an antidote to unnatural sexual attraction.

    According to Jesus Christ, St. Paul and the Lutheran Confessions, chaste male/female “marriage” is the antidote to sexual desire, whatever the spot or stripe.

    The word “celibacy” needs to be used as Jesus Christ, St. Paul and the Lutheran Confessions use it, not as a “lifestyle option” to those who have unnatural sexual desires.

  10. @Robert #9

    Bull crap. St Paul and Christ do say it is a gift to be celibate but neither says it is rare nor how it is give. That it is rare is one of the stupider comments to come out of the reformation and wasn’t really needed in the fight against enforced clergy celibacy.

  11. @Robert #9

    According to Jesus Christ, St. Paul and the Lutheran Confessions, chaste male/female “marriage” is the antidote to sexual desire, whatever the spot or stripe.

    Interesting idea, which apparently doesn’t always work, as cheated wives have discovered! [I think “whatever the spot or stripe” is your own interpolation.]

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