How do we as a church deal with the topic of homosexuality? Where is God leading us as we deal both intellectually and socially with this issue?
According to multiple passages in the Old and New Testaments, homosexual behavior is sin. But before we consider that, I think the first and most important thing to examine is what God says about sin in general. We know everyone is guilty of sin (Romans 3:23); none of us can claim that we have been good enough to deserve to go to heaven on our own. A single sin is enough to condemn us, and it doesn’t matter which sin it is. We are reminded by the verse below that Jesus paid for all types of sin—every form of disobedience.
“But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.” (1 John 1:7) NLT
So how does homosexuality fit into this? Many of us are confused about what homosexuality really is. The secular world wants us to believe that homosexuality is an identity—that it’s who you are. Even some of us in the church have followed their lead and have adopted this way of thinking. We may think of homosexuality as a label that defines the person. But the Bible teaches that homosexuality is not who you are but rather what you do (or what you have done). According to Jesus, your identity is defined one of two ways: before salvation and after salvation.
“Jesus told them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God… Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It is because you are unable to do so! For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he does...” (John 8:42-44) NLT
From Jesus’ perspective, either we identify ourselves with God if we are saved or the Devil if we are not saved. A person is not defined by their sin but rather by who their “father” is. When we are saved, God adopts us into His family and we become children of God, heirs of eternal life. Jesus came to "adopt" all men regardless of their spiritual condition at the time. Many of us know that but are unable to mentally apply that truth to those who have lived in homosexuality. And yet nowhere in the Bible does it stipulate that your salvation is contingent on you cleaning yourself up first. Even Paul struggled with recurring sin in his life.
“When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:19) NLT
I’ve heard many people teach that homosexuals must stop sinning in order to be saved, but holiness is not something we just choose and go implement without God's help. We can't be holy on our own. It’s based on the ongoing work of God in our lives as we lean into Him relationally! When Jesus called his disciples, he didn’t demand that they stop sinning in order to follow. The life change they experienced was because of their relationship with Him. We choose to follow first! Then change will happen over time. Sin should never be encouraged or swept under the rug. It always brings consequences and it dishonors God who sent His son to save us. We should partner with God to rid ourselves of it over time. But as we are in the process of doing that, amidst the struggles there must be grace for our failures. The church should not present a double standard when it comes to salvation (or the grace of God, for that matter). There’s only one path to righteousness, and it’s the same for everyone.