Dare to be a Daniel
Do Dogs Go to Heaven?

Christians and Homosexuality

In his book ground-breaking research book unChristian, David Kinneman reports that the number one description of Christians by the younger generation today (of those outside the church) is "anti-homosexual," followed not too far by "judgmental" and "hyprocritical." Out of twenty attributes that were assessed, both positive and negative, as they related to  Christianity, the perception of being anti-homosexual was at the top of the list. More than nine out of ten (91%) of outsiders said "anti-homosexual" accurately describes present-day Christians. [This research was done in the USA]

Anti-homosexual, gay-hater, homophobic - is this what Jesus called us to be?

To quote Kinneman (p.96) .... "It is one thing to be against homosexuality, to affirm that the Bible rejects the practice of same-sex lifestyles, but it is another to be against homosexuals, to let your disagreement with their behaviour spill out in your feelings and words towards them as people. It is unChristian to lose your sense that everyone's fallen nature affects all aspects of his or her life, including sexuality, and to forget God's commands to love people in order to point them to Jesus."

He continues ... "It is unChristian to focus our animosity on another human being regardless of what they do or what they look life. Billy Graham, one of the most respected Christian leaders in American history, made this observation about homosexuality during a press conference: 'I'm going to quote the Bible now, not myself, that it (homosexuality) is wrong, it's a sin. But there are other sins. Why do we jump on that sin as though it's the greatest sin? The greatest sin in the Bible is idolatry, worshiping other things besides the true and living God. Jealousy is a sin. Pride is a sin. All of these things are sins. Homosexuality is also a sin and needs to be dealt with and needs to be forgiven, and that's why Christ came and died on the cross.'"

Here is a letter from a young man named Levi that I read in my interview with Deb Hirsch on the weekend (from unChristian, p.117-18).

"I believe that almost every man who deals with homosexuality has a defining moment when he realises that everything that is going on in his body, in his mind, and in the secret place of his heart is what is called 'gay'. It is an extremely frightening moment that is usually never forgotten.

I remember my moment clearly. I was sitting in my youth pastor's office in a counseling session with my father. I was fourteen years old, I had been kicked out of school, I had tried to kill myself twice, and no one knew how to help me or love me. I was acting out - I was hurting so severely. I didn't know why.

With the best of intentions, my youth pastor tried to get to the bottom of my issues. The result, instead, was that I realised I was gay, that is was something really bad, and as much as I loved church, I would never be accepted there.

In a way, I was relieved, because the kids at my church called me 'fag' and 'queer' and rejected me, and so did the kids at my Christian school. Everywhere I went I ran into rejection ... everywhere. Except with other gays. I did not go back to church again. Not until about four years ago.

It took twenty years of depression, twelve years of drug addiction and dealing, and several suicide attempts to find myself searching for Jesus where I had wanted to be back when I was a teenager. There I met a compassionate God who loved me and understood me. When my search for answers was most desperate, my family, my friends, and my church were ill-equipped to handle my situation. Unfortunately, the hardest things for me to overcome were the hateful words and rejection that came from people who called themselves Christians."

Somehow, we have to do better than this as a community of Christ followers.

 

Comments

Thank you Mark for covering this subject so compassionately with godly wisdom. It made me weep to read this young man's letter. Sometimes well meaning Christians say the most hurtful things, even when they are trying to help (not necessarily just homosexuals), instead of opening their arms to just be Jesus to love others when they are hurting. I'm so glad that City Life is an embracing church that welcomes everyone. Jesus died for and loves all sinners: the homosexual, the prostitute, the murderer, the adulterer, the thief, the gossiper, the backslid, you and me, etc... His amazing grace forgives and His love heals... He only asks us all to sin no more. We are all God's work in progress... none are perfect to date yet, but only Jesus. God is the only just and rightous and Judge of people's hearts... each one of us will be accountable to Him when we stand alone before Jesus one day. In the meantime, we are called to love others across the board and share God's blessings with them, seasoned with grace, mercy, compassion and gentleness.

We have an opportunity to teach the next generation how to respond differently than previous generations. It is so sad that young people do feel Christians are judgemental, I think that alot of it can be passed down from their parents experiences, but sadly also their own experiences. My children go to public school. I can think of countless times my oldest daughter has spoken to her friends about her faith, she has permission to because she is their friend. One boy in her class without going into details, gave her a real hard time about Christianity and she said OK this class we are going to talk about another religion because why do you keep hastling me out Christianity. He candidly said that her liked her talking about God with her because part of him hoped it was real. She also had a girl in her form that was in a lesbian relationship with an older girl in her school. This was really challenging as she hung out with my daughter alot. I had an opportunity to teach my child to be religious or compassionate. We spoke at length many times and realised rejection was something we did not want this girl to feel by her withdrawing her friendship. We only set one boundary, she felt uncomfortable when she hugged her for long periods of time, so we just said feel free to pull back when she hugs you, but other than that, their friendship did not change. She even shared her faith with her. She didn't picket her in the locker bay! Children are amazing, we have a choice to make them polluted with our judgement, they are going to see through it anyway, they're teenagers! or teach them not to be afraid of those who do not know Christ and live a lifestyle different from their own experience.

Mark,
Thanks you for taking on this controversial topic. I suspect that there will be considerable debate for some time but I think you have really nailed it! We need REALITY in our lives and to be real about the people around us. I know a number of people in the 'church' who have struggled with matters of sexual identity and attraction. This I have seen in varying degrees and it is different with each person. The treatment they have had from some Christians has been wonderful, yet from others, appalling. I have seen them the subject of ridicule and jesting behind their backs, by fellow christians(in a charismatic church!) where they had humbly sought help.It is very hard for them to be open and honest with most christians about their struggles. "This ought not to be so'...Trust is broken and that is very hard to mend.. You realise as you journey with them that life is messy and difficult and hard for alot of people.
My obesrvations of what has worked best are thus.
1. Don't compromise God's standards...this is a sin, but so is t pride, greed, lying, gluttony, but it does have a massive impact on a person's psyche that other sins may not.
2. Understand that Satan 'hates' man and that this is one of his many plan's for mans destruction. It is not 'Gods' best
3. Direct people to Jesus the healer and deliverer, yet understand that this side of eternity we shall not see perfection and won't be free of temptation.. It is simple keep your eyes on him..
4. surround them with trustworthy, non judgmental MATURE pastoral support.


Thanks again,

Sage

Hey Mark,

I am saddened to learn 91% of non-religious people surveyed put anti-homosexual as the number one label to describe Christians. At the sametime it's encouraging to hear and read how Deb Hirsch and others are approaching this head-on. I pray the afore mentioned percentage will reduce and the number one label will be regulated much further down the list and eventually eradicated.

One question I do have is; if a minister at CityLife is known to be gay but not practicing would this person be removed from ministerial duties?

Many thanks!

A free copy of the audio of the interview is now available via the CityLife Church podcast (www.citylifechurch.com/podcast) or iTunes.

Hi Dave

Good question. We haven't encountered this situation as of yet.

Well-known Catholic spirituality author, Henri Nouwen, would be an example of someone who late in life confessed to same-sex orientation but who remained celibate all of his life. He faithfully ministered to 1000s of people through his ministry and writings.

A different but somewhat related question would be, "If a minister (heterosexual) is struggling with pornography, should they step down or be stood down from their ministry position?"

What do you think?

RE: "A different but somewhat related question would be, "If a minister (heterosexual) is struggling with pornography, should they step down or be stood down from their ministry position?" ... What do you think?"

I think a case by case basis ... What is the 'ministers' heart attutude to the sin?, Does he admit that it sin? has it been confessed (pr was he caught out)?, has he been proactively dealing with it and is someone holding him accountable?, what sort of a hold does it have on his life?, has it caused him to hurt / decieve others?

A Minister has a huge responsibility to the church and community around him. The porn problem would take away from his leadership and the great task of pastoring the community with honest tranparency and integrity. He would not and can't be fully effective in his leadership position if he continues to let his sin go unchecked. He needs to get accountable, seek God's help and seek trusted people to help him overcome.

Then he must delete, throw away any form of porn TRASH.

David's pornographic view of Bath-sheba led him to adultery.... When David was confronted with his sin, he repented, but he did not step down as an 'anointed' leader and king. God is faithful in His mercy to forgive and His love graciously helps to restore the backslidden to get them back on track.

If the minister repents, we need to seek to restore him in a spirit of meekness, considering ourselves lest we too be tempted... If a minister repents and enters counseling then he should not be forced to leave the pulpit permanently.... Confeassion is good for the soul.
As a leader of God's people, a minister of His Word needs to reflect a deep heart change to have any credibility in ministering to others.

Pornography is the greatest deception to one's self that has been designed by the father of lies. It promotes unhealthy expectations in a relationship which leads to greater sin.

Should the church be the conscience of the community? Absolutely :) What do you think?

Proverbs 28:13 “Those who conceal their sins do not prosper, but those who confess and renounce them find mercy.” TNIV

James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” TNIV

Galatians 6:1-2 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” TNIV

Re: One question I do have is; if a minister at CityLife is known to be gay but not practicing would this person be removed from ministerial duties?

Your question indicates that you are singling out homosexuality from other sexual sins which if I'm honest, is one of the issues the church needs to deal with.

How is that (the hypothetical, non-practising homosexual minister) different from a single, heterosexual person who currently practices abstinence from sex?

I have to confess that the whole issue of the battle with sexual sin is equally relevant to me as a married hetero Christian as the person who struggles with sexual desire of any kind:

I recently felt that I was directed to this scripture:

“If my heart has been seduced by a woman,
or if I have lusted for my neighbor’s wife,
then let my wife belong to[a] another man;
let other men sleep with her.
For lust is a shameful sin,
a crime that should be punished.
(LUST) IS A FIRE THAT BURNS ALL THE WAY TO HELL.
It would wipe out everything I own”. (From the Book of Job).

We should never, ever, ever forget that when we are dealing with the issue of sexual sin – we are playing with fire – it’s not a theological or political argument.

All sexual sin is on the same level and should be viewed as such. We as christian people need to love first, and forgive those who confess and have the ultimate aim to totally restore all our brothers and sisters who have confessed. Also provide a safe place for accountabilty without judgement. Good book to read is A Life Unlearning - it will show what the struggle can be like but shake you up to see what can happen when the church does not offer such support.

Thankyou Mark for your response to my question: if a minister at CityLife is known to be gay but not practicing would this person be removed from ministerial duties?

I hadn't expected you to turn towards me asking 'what do you think?'. As you can tell from my delayed response, the subject is not easy to answer in a forum such as this but never-the-less I'll share my thoughts.

For a minister who is known to be gay but not practising, no I would not expect this person to step down. My reason for this comment: as a layman I understand the Bible to specifically mention homosexual behaviour as opposed to homosexual orientation. Thus a gay minister who is not practising is remaining faithful. I must also mention we need to admire those who are celibate whom with immense spiritual strength push back on those desires and temptations which otherwise would result in being unfaithful to the Word of God.

In answer to your question: "If a minister (heterosexual) is struggling with pornography, should they step down or be stood down from their ministry position?"

On the other-hand, a heterosexual minister who is struggling with pornography indicates this minister has at one point given into his/her desires and temptations and therefore is not remaining faithful or living a Christian lifestyle. In this sense I would expect this minister to step down.

As I mentioned earlier this forum is limited in the sense of discussion and expression and the above second scenario reads fairly 'cold' and 'clear cut' which isn't my intention. Instead I would dearly hope Christians (incl. myself) would not turn their backs to any minister who steps down or is stood down as a result of a non-Christian lifestyle but instead we would show compassion and love as would Jesus.

Good question, Ike. I agree with Dave Towers comments above. Sexual attraction or orientation in not sinful just as temptation isn't a sin. It's what you choose to do in response.

Henri Nouwen admitted near the end of his life that he struggled with same-sex attraction but he remained a celibate single man. Despite this, he ministered to 1000s of people during his life time.

Yes, Dave, I agree that the issue pornogaphy is different though also a serious matter due to the lust that is involved.

Leaders, though not perfect, are called to be examples in every area of their life, and especially their sexuality.

Dear Nicole, I am sneaking through the back door here since the main entry is closed!

I am equally saddened that our exchanges have degenerated to this level. I had hoped that we could arrive at a healthy point of agreeing to disagree and leave it there.

Firstly let me say, I have chosen NOT to take your comment personally that I am “starkers while parading around in doctrinal correctness”. If this is not presumptuous and judgmental I don’t know what is. If all you have understood about me is that I am parading in doctrinal correctness then we have clearly wasted precious time dialoguing.

I am not sure if you realise that while on one hand you have taken a ‘gay advocate’ position in this discussion, on the other you have systematically berated those of us who dare appeal for doctrinal purity on such a controversial subject. Reading some of your older posts, you seem to display a consistent disdain towards any counter opinions of doctrinal nature. It’s as if doctrine is irrelevant on important issues like this. Deb at the interview also introduced this false dichotomy when she said “theology is important but Jesus has to come first”. God bless Deb, her heart is undoubtedly in the right place and she’s doing great work. But since when has a study about God (theology) become mutually exclusive to the person of Christ? If your view of Jesus hasn’t been shaped by God’s word where does it come from and how true is it?

Your emotional appeals to steer the discussion back to our attitudes, implies that the source of our attitudes has nothing to do with how you interpret the scriptures. I would contend that how we interpret the bible has everything to do with how we act or react toward gays or whoever else. If you believe in a God who ‘hates homos’ that’s exactly how you will treat them. So if you want to correct this behaviour where would you start other than going back to the bible to get a better understanding? Has it become taboo these days to appeal to the authority of Scripture to settle these differences?

Your comments about “fear and prejudice” clearly don’t apply to me, and if you read my earlier posts you can see that I am anything but. My wife and I have met a lot of gay people through our work over the years and have gone out of our way to show the love of God to them. The fact that some of them have trusted us with their deep secrets and still called us their friends knowing that we were Christians, I think speaks for itself. It is obviously hard for you to accept that I can show this type of compassion to them and then talk the way I do about their sinful condition in a Christian blog. To you it seems inconsistent.

You make recurring appeals for all of us to look at our own sins, hearts, logs out of eyes etc. If your default reaction every time you disagree with someone is to turn it back on them, it is pointless allowing any comments on Mark’s blogs. Either close the comment sections down altogether or make it ‘members only’ for those who agree with you.

Yes we are all responsible for our words and deeds but if we make it all about us and stop conversing about issues, we might as well shut down, throw discernment out the window and live the rest of our lives self-obsessed about log removals every time we express an opinion.

As a closing note, Kinneman’s survey is based on North American demographics and I am not totally convinced that the problem is as big down under. Biggots of all sorts are everywhere, but in my 22 years in churches (mostly AOG and then Baptist) I can not honestly say I have witnessed an anti-gay sentiment. Sporadic examples of personal bias most certainly, but not collectively that’s for sure.

Despite all of the above however, I continue to respect you and Mark even though I don’t come to your church or share some of your views. I will sign off here as I don’t want to make it any more personal than it is. Should you wish to respond feel free to email me direct as you have my address.

Blessings

Hi, I agree that open dialogue is important and agree with johns comments on theology being an important aspect. I do think some things said were damaging and not necessary but nicole, npna have not been consistent. frankly this has thrown me into further confusion about the whole issue.

Hi John,
I am extremely apologetic that you took that last post personally. After what you said before that about understanding I was addressing the wider attitude and you don't get offended, etc. I took my liberty :)

I was careful to continually write in the 'we' language, and made the assumption that we were in understanding that I was yelling at a prominent attitude of the Christian community.

The last two years I have spent a lot more time in friendships with homosexuals - from all theological viewpoints. DUe to population the 'bigoted' attitude may not be as pronounced here as in US - but it is here, in all it's ugly glory. And the heartbreaking result of those facing rejection and hysteria by their Christian community and leaders is devastating. But you are right, I am making a judgement call - absolutely - and I am putting myself squarely in that judgement - we need to change our attitude.
(WE - not you, John, WE - the christian community need to think about how our attitude is destroying lives).

I know everyone was tyring to work out doctrinal positions - my intention was not to debunk that - rather to point out that attitude and spirit affects how we work that out (no, I am not saying that it changes the truth in any way, but that love and truth need to be coupled). ANd I guess I was reacting to a wider observation that the prominent issues of gluttony, greed, idolatry are most often ignored or laughed about, but we are very quick to address this area ...I could say more but another time.

John, for any personal reads into those posts I am honestly, very sorry. As I am a rather open person I am trying to be sorry for what I said - but I am not. I do not want to hear one more story of someone suiciding or leaving the church in total pieces because out of all of the vice list of Paul's we have heightened this one, and treat people with contempt who struggle (Not you).

Regards,
Nic

Hi Lee Ann,
I apologise for causing confusion. That was not my intention. AS everyone was working out doctrinal truths I was that very annoying harp that insisted that we go back to the intent of the interview - which was our attitude towards homosexuals. Doctrinal truths are vital in not leading us to heresy - and attitude is vital in not leading us to pride. And I have this very stubborn thought that the attitude that frames theological discussion is extremely important.

I would consider myself as having an orthodox understanding, as I tried to illustrate through Romans 1. As I study the life of Jesus I find in Him orthodoxy to the truth, coupled with incredible grace, mercy and compassion that drove Pharisees to distraction. Jesus is truly amazing - he is and taught truth - yet sinners were drawn to him, and he repelled the Pharisees. As I look around today it seems with all our doctrinal truth we certainly attract Pharisees, but sinners want nothing to do with Christianity. And I ask myself why? Why the horrific results of UnCHristian? (John, I do disagree with you - I think the survey is just as relevant here in church groups). I think the answer lies with attitude :)

One more last comment, and then I am well and truly taking a blog sabbatical. In fact the great lesson in this for me is that blogs are not ideal places for deep and sensitive discussions. No one sees your face, your tone, or hears the complete story. You are unable to clarify your comments, etc. Anyway, over the last few years I have heard and read some interesting thoughts on Grace. As a result to some strange teaching I think people have reacted and so when the word grace is mentioned many think of sloppy emotionalism.

I think this is extremely unfortunate. Unless the community of Christ recognises that its very existence is due to the breathtaking, totally unfair grace of God it will never deal with those within or without with grace. Grace is risky and untidy when lived out in community (yes, we need the boundaries of truth) but grace is still the prominent way God deals with our lives, even though we have error and sin in our lives. I pray that as we examine our attitude, as we are careful to lay truth as foundation, that grace may abound in and through us.

Hi Nicole,

Apology accepted and thanks for clarifying. Indeed I said “I understand and do not get offended” but this one came across as if it shifted from the general to the personal. I too aplogise for any remarks that were unfair and unfounded.

Unfortunately, written communication has a much higher risk of misunderstanding than a face-to-face, but the lesser of two evils for me is to “take the risk” of being misunderstood than keep silent and watch from the sidelines on such hot and pressing issues. Some people who blog here may not be able to discuss these issues with someone in their church or may not go to church at all. I would rather have a “voice” than be mute. If I even help ONE person get a better understanding and clear some confusion, it is all worth the effort. I do this to help others, and partly for “selfish reasons”. As a lead a very busy life in the corporate world, I desperately need these “diversions”, other than my service to my own church, to keep me balanced so I don’t forget the bigger picture of life, that I’m here to glorify God, love Him and my neighbour. Otherwise I will suffocate by the smoke of my professional demands.

As we have finished exchanging views, for me it is important to reiterate (as the Conner’s have been saying) that while homosexuality is a sin, orientation is not. The thing I wanted to add to this point all along was this: A gay person who comes to church cannot flick a switch to get rid of their orientation and same sex attraction. That requires an intervention of the Holy Spirit. But at the very least THEY CAN end a homosexual relationship (sooner than later) than continue living in sin. If they refuse, they need to be challenged or confronted with no less rigour than an adulterer.

I am so thankful for Nicole’s second post addressed to Lee Ann. I am convinced we are talking about the other side of the SAME coin. I often try to steer discussions back to the Bible and I end up using that dreaded word “doctrine”. Here’s what I mean:

I am all about challenging attitudes. The question is HOW do we confront and change attitudes? If you go up to a Christian and say “your attitude on this issue stinks”, then what standard and benchmark would you use to show them what a “right attitude” looks like? Answer: The Scriptures and particularly those portions (doctrine) that deal with the particular topic. If attitudinal changes or mental realignments do not emanate from a clear biblical understanding they are bound to be wrong. The healthy path is, let’s start with the Bible and work our way from there and deal with the mess. Often though, we start with opinions and throw the Bible in to back them up (generally speaking).

This is what I was desperately trying to communicate, that it is not a matter of doctrine OR attitude, but doctrine AND attitude. I’ve being saying let’s not make it an “either or” but a “yes, and”

SOME GREAT NEWS!

As a result of this intense debate, I took it upon myself to enquire of the whereabouts of that Christian friend I mentioned early in the discussion who had come out of homosexuality, got married had kids, sang in the worship team but went back to gay bars, fell away altogether and ended up divorcing his wife (a few years ago now).

I got an email late Thursday to say that about a year ago, he made a U-turn, came back, re-married his wife and they are now back in the fold in a different church. She was obviously severely affected as well by having her husband leave her for another man. God’s infinite mercy and grace at full display in all its glory!!!!

A separate final post follows below.

WHAT I HAVE LEARNED FROM THIS DEBATE

It would be remiss of me not to end without reflection that may be worth sharing. Having used ‘homosexuality’ as the subject of this debate, let’s zoom out and look at the bigger picture.

Question: Why is it (as per Nicole’s own research into the issue) that folks with gay orientation / same sex attraction feel the need to hide their struggles and not confess to anyone?

Answer: Because of the monster of “success theology” or “victory theology” that has redefined what a “blessed Christian” looks like. The prosperity doctrine is the obvious kind, but there are more subtle varieties. In a nutshell we have bought into the lie that a blessed Christian is one who has it all together. Doesn’t struggle with sin, is out of debt, his kids are role models of obedience, he is well off financially, no sickness but abundant health, white pearly teeth on family photos etc, etc.

A person with orientation issues spoils the perfect landscape. Same with the one who is only a click away from the shrine of internet pleasure, idolized by the fantasies of porn. Because we have created this idolatrous concept of what a blessed life looks like, we are now reaping the consequences. We have created a monster that every now and again rises its ugly head and have hamstrung the church from dealings with such issues. As the slogan goes, “if you sleep with dogs, you wake up with flees”. And here are some of the “rewards” of this culture we have created where people hide their struggles.

Frank Houston (not Brian Houston) doesn’t make it known for 30 years that he had a sexual activities with a teenage boy and forced his own son to stand him down from ministry. His ministry was “bearing fruit” why spoil it?
Mike Guglielmucci does not even tell his own wife of the lie he was living. He was becoming a Christian celebrity with ARIA hits, how could he “come out” and spoil his picture perfect success?
It gets worse. Ted Haggard did not confess having homosexual relationships with a church member and visiting male prostitutes. He was a successful megachurch pastor with a fruitful ministry.
Jimmy Swaggart did not confess (until he got caught) that he had been visiting prostitutes.
Todd Bentley did not own up to “an unhealthy emotional attachment” to one of his female staff members. But hey, he was leading a “new move of God and a breakthrough revival”. That was only a minor issue...and the list goes on

So we need people to feel free to share those deep secrets with somebody. Are we ready for a paradigm shift and a culture of openness? If the answer is “yes” we need to know that such openness comes at a price. Let us not romanticize openness.

If a Haggard, Bentley, Swaggard, Baker or whoever confesses to someone in his church leadership, they can’t sit on this information and not act. They need to move and move swiftly (the ugly part). It can be done without public awareness for “personal reasons”, but it may help them deal with the problem before it gets worse and becomes fully blown sin that leads to public disgrace.

The Galatians 2 example, if nothing else, teaches that sinful attitudes (Peter’s double standards in that case) need to be exposed and confronted before they get worse. But when we create Christian celebrities and set the bar of what a “blessed life” is, then it is only normal for a same-sex struggle to be hidden and not confessed to anyone.

The lack of understanding in the issue we have been discussing is the symptom of a larger root cause. It is pride and delusion that pressures us to uphold ideals and values the Bible has never set. (Better not come back to doctrine again)

Let us repent of this abomination and smash the calf in pieces! We are perfect in position but a work in progress in practice. Justification is instant, sanctification is ongoing. Let’s help each other along.

Peace to all.

Mark,

"If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that." 1 John 5:16 (New King James Version)

We have been talking about ALL sins being equal - the scriptures allude to some sins leading to death, and other sins not.

Whilst we all sin, and all are guilty of death - do you think that there are sins of significance, that if we do not get under control in our own discipleship - persuit of (for want of a better term) 'godliness' - that the life could be 'extinguished' from our spirit?

I am thinking the 7 deadly sins ...


Richard, attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil seems to be the only unforgivable sin (at least one that the Bible identifies) Mark 3:28-30.

If we don’t pursue godliness or more specifically “holiness”, then I think Hebrews 12:13-15 gives the answer to what the final outcome will be: Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Yeah I know my name is not ‘Mark’ but he’s probably too busy preparing a sermon for tomorrow:)

How’s things @ Lutheraville?

Hi John,

Thanks for responding – even though you are not Mark! He is a busy man, I know!

I understand your, point about the only unforgivable sin i.e. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, however I do think that there may well be sins that if left (like weeds in a garden) to their own devices will eventually ‘extinguish’ the spiritual life of the believer. This may be also underscored (in some ways) in the example of the Sower and the Seed. Unlike the Sin of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, the eternal consequences of these sins can be ‘kept at bay’’ through repentence and discipline.

The point, that I am trying to tease out is that, whilst I acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin on equal par with other sins, including heterosexual lust, pride, greed etc, if it is not rooted out of the individual believer (through repentance and discipline) and furthermore the Church body as a whole could it not ‘extinguish’ (quench) the life of the spirit…?

The Catholics view it this way:


“The Catholic Church divided sin into two principal categories: "Venial sins", which are relatively minor, and could be forgiven through any Sacramentals or Sacraments of the church, and the more severe "Capital" or Mortal sins. Mortal sins destroyed the life of grace, and created the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved through the sacrament of Confession, or forgiven through perfect contrition on the part of the penitent”.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins

BTW: Life in Lutherville is is great, raising kids, getting the occasional ‘leave pass for a dive. How’s things with you?

Richard I agree. In this sense any sin not rooted out will have deadly consequences in eternity. Unforgiveness is probably a simple one to relate to: For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE men their sins, your Father WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR sins. (Matt 6:14-16) In answer to your last question, lapping up the Qld winter sun, also raising kids and working hard. Hiatus from gardening this time of the year and trying to catch up on my reading (and some meaningful blogging!!) which a recent career change put me behind on.

John Re: "I agree. In this sense any sin not rooted out will have deadly consequences in eternity".

We need to bear this in mind and balance this with the need to be tolerant and graceful as Christian's and as a Church.

We (the Church) have been guilty of being too judgemental and critical. When confronted with this, (eg. Research shows that Gen Y see the Church as being bigoted) we risk a knee-jerk reaction which may cause the pendulum to swing too far the other way.

On a social note -I have stopped gradening for the winter (except weeding). Most of the trees have lost their leaves and it looks rather bleak. Perth experieneing a current rain/wing/cooler weather ... so it's time to cook comfort foods - curries, lambshanks, Guiness pies, sticky date pudding etc.

Mark, Sadly Henri Nouwen did not openly say he was attracted to the same sex because of fear of what the church would say and do even when he was celebate.

It was written about after he passed away.

So sad to have to hide your sexuality.

Mark,
Jealously is not a sin,
as God Himself is a jealous God.

I am so glad that dialogue is now taking place regarding this topic. I initially attended City Life and even Hillsong (NSW) at one stage (awesome Churches by the way!), felt the call of God on my life and went to an Assemblies of God / Pentecostal Bible College here and in NSW and successfully completed a degree in Theology / Ministry.

In the early stages of being trained as a Minister and being involved in planting a Church, I realised more and more that as a "celibate" homosexual I could no longer continue in my capacity due to the controversy surrounding this issue.

I left the Church and my life went into a downward spiral over a number of years. I felt that my calling to serve God had been quashed. It nearly cost me my physical life, but for the grace of God. However, I have repented from this, but I cannot repent from being of homosexual orientation, no more than one can repent from being male or female, or being black or white. I have searched Scripture, its interpretation, and realised that there is a case for alternate interpretation of the Old Testament & New Testament texts. In essence, Jesus does not discriminate and why should His Church? Jesus was all-inclusive.

I love God, love Jesus, believe in Covenantal relationships, read the Word, worship in the Spirit etc. There are negative aspects of heterosexuality that are portrayed in and by the media, just like there are negative aspects of homosexuality given the same treatment by the media - homophobia.

I attend a well reknowned, inclusive Bible College and am undertaking a Masters degree in Theology. I have recently commenced Ministry Formation (Clergy Development) and now continue with Ministry / Pastoral development that I had left some years ago. I attend an all-inclusive Church.

I am first and foremost a Christian and continue to preach the salvific Good News of Jesus Christ to all peoples regardless of colour, race, physical disposition or orientation. My homosexual orientation is secondary to this and I consider it a gift from God. Just like hetereosexuality is a gift from God and should be treated accordingly. God is interested in our hearts and our relationship with others.

The message of salvation is for individuals, "for God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son (only begotten Son), that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:16, 17).

You may have personal views regarding this issue, you may agree or disagree, but I would suggest that if you disagree, take the time to search out Scripture for yourself and do some serious exegesis on it. Check out the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek languages in which it was written, and check out the translations into English and it may surprise you.

Pastor Mark, I respect you and thank you for commencing open dialogue.

I realise that you most likely reserve the right to publish on your blog what I have written. I'll leave it up to you.

God bless,

James D.


By the way, I forgot to say that every Christian, whether heterosexual or homosexual should give God first place in their lives and in their covenantal relationships with each other (marriage).

The Bible has been used to justify some really nasty things in the past, including the eradication of the Jews, slavery of blacks, exclusion of women in ministry etc. Changes have occured due to alternative interpretation of Scripture. Homosexuality may be the final frontier. It may take 12 mths, a few years, who knows, but the prejudice will end, because we do not serve a prejudicial God and Truth will prevail.

Get ready to accept all homosexuals as equals with hetereosexuals, black or white, diabled or abled, and let's get on with the job of being Christ's witnesses in the world and advancing God's Kingdom.

In Christ's love,

James D.

Ps. You are very welcome to reply Ps Mark, thank you.

I have finally read this blog. I love everyone but we also need to know love does not mean we tolerate someone's sin. For one Anthony Venn-Browne was an AOG pastor and now he is a "gay ambassador". That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life. He is dragging people down with himself to the pit of hell and telling people what they want to hear. According to the bible it is perversion. The trouble is, there is a deception creeping into the church, we should love gays and accept their sexual orientation. That is the most unbiblical deception and Christians need to know what the bible says...It is a sin to be a practising homosexual/lesbian. I find it appalling that these people want us to not only love them (which is right) but they now want us to cheer them on in their chosen lifestyle. God made man and woman for each other. If we as Christians say it is wrong to be gay we are called homophobic. Calling someone homophobic is the gay society's attempt to shut us down. I do not hate gays, I love them but I will not ever be pressured into accepting their chosen lifestyle as right before God. We are not to tolerate sin and I will not tolerate sin. They want to be loved, no problem but that is not enough for these people, they want us to affirm their sinful lifestyle. That is something I will not do, because then I would be against God's teaching. Anthony' Venn Browne's agenda is to steer the church into accepting what is biblically incorrect. The gays say you do not love us, trying to put the guilt on us. Love is not about supporting and tolerating sin.
Gay people should be treated with respect and equals but their chosen lifestyle should not be condoned under any circumstances! Would we accept a pedophile as normal, no, do we accept a rapist as normal, no, do we accept a murderer as normal, no, so why is it the gays think it is normal to be gay. Jesus calls us to love these people but lets remind them, what Jesus said to Mary Magdeline, "go and sin no more". The gays do not want to hear that, they are all about the love and keep sinning so that God's Grace increases. By no means, it says in Romans, we are not to do that!

Hi Mark,

I'm grateful for the topic of this post. There doesnt seem to be much very useful information for the small but relevant population of gay people out there so to hear views expressed is enlightening and in particular as ministers yours and Nicoles comments are highly interesting and valued.
I belong to a church that believes homosexuality is a sin and has shown me a lot of love over the years. In the pastors words "We don't care that we have to clean up the mess, we just want the barn full of animals." I really liked the sentiment there and the proof is in the pudding.
I remember one time was kind of dark and lonely for me and i rocked up at city life many years ago. Nicole was painting a picture of a personality type at the beginning and was asking "Are you this type of negative personality.." This description was so true for me and i could admit it freely but anyway the anointing i felt was so incredible that day and was really precious because its rare that i feel it so strongly.

I feel like God has taken me through a process and i do feel like there has been lots of circumcision of the heart over the years that has made me more kingdom minded. I have been trained to remember that Gods thoughts are not my thoughts and that God doesn't delight in the things me or my flesh delights in. And i wouldnt have it any other way. Its his blood that restores me if i ever get lost. And its faith in his righteousness, not mine that is going to take me places.

While i do not let me peoples random words shake my personal faith, I do feel some dependence on Godly leaders in my life. Godly leaders who don't have the bends in their life that i do, to affirm and help establish me in life. People who bless me and that i can honour.

Nicole i don't know what all the kafuffle is but I keep hearing references to you and your relationships with homosexuals. I think i have an understanding of your teachings on the kingdom and that if your welcoming homosexuals it makes me a little more comfortable at your church. I had very little counselling when i was young and in the church, and withdrew heavily, hating every facet of my mind that was attracted to the same sex as if my every step betrayed God. I'm glad where i had some sense to stay broken before God but on top of being a homosexual I'm also a kings Steward, and sulking over my sexual disposition wasted years, absolutely years of my time. Unfortunately I'm the picture of a late bloomer and its not something i like. How much maturity would i have grown into over the years if i had overheard the dialogue at church and came to understanding of my place in the church?! It torments a little but I hope people that are gay in the church benefit from what your doing on the topic and i wholeheartedly believe they will. The openness and occasional addressing of the issue is very valued.

Love and Respect

N

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