*** I understand that putting these thoughts in print could be dangerous as it does not allow for much interaction or perception of my tone. Please understand this is simply what I understand at this point in my life about Jesus, the Bible and the LGBT community.
It has now been over 13 years ago that I moved my family from Louisville, Kentucky to Los Angeles, California.
Kentucky and California are different!
We arrived in Simi Valley, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, to plant a new church just like the first church in the book of Acts in the Bible.
We knew we were not the only Christians, but we wanted to be Christians only.
There are all kinds of crazy church planting stories … such as landing in the same valley as Francis Chan, which turned out to be an amazing partnership and friendship, but I about killed myself with comparisons. (I will write about that sometime.)
In the midwest, I had never really come into direct contact with the LGBT community. I am rather ashamed to say this, but to me, the gay lifestyle was something “way out there” and removed from my daily life and conversation.
Then we moved to LA.
And the LGBT community went from something “way out there” to real people who were very close to me. My world changed as I got to know and eventually employ people who struggled with same sex attraction.
Here are three things I learned while living in LA about the LGBT community.
1. This is only an easy conversation if you don’t know anyone involved in it.
In 2003 – The first big challenge for me happened when our church was just a few months old. I was called by one of our members to come and sit at the bedside of her brother who was dying of AIDS. He had lived a gay lifestyle for over a decade and had many partners. She made it clear that he did not want me to be there – but the family did.
So, I went to sit by the bed of the man dying of AIDS.
I visited him twice before he died.
Each visit lasted several hours.
I talked to him and prayed for him.
He never said a word to me.
My heart was broken like never before.
In 2007 – A young man, who I knew well, traveled to another country and took his own life because he could not stand the life he was leading. I was beyond devastated and knew this outcome could not be God’s design for him.
In 2009 – We hired a person to work at our church who had been involved in the gay lifestyle in the past and decided to leave it and live a celibate life. He continued to struggle with same sex attraction all his life, and we talked about it on occasion. He passed away in a hospital in Los Angeles in a very private way, not wanting anyone around and never imagining this would be his fate at less than 40 years old.
In 2011 – I was at an Adam Sandler movie wrap party (long story) about midnight at the House of Blues on Hollywood Blvd. I was there with a friend who was the location manager for Happy Madison Productions. That was the first time in real life I saw a guy who was making out with both guys and girls at the same bar on the same night. I was pretty shocked, but not mad. My heart was more full of questions about their lives.
- How did they get to where they are?
- Which gender are they more attracted to?
- What do they believe God believes about them?
In 2015 – I have a very popular pastor friend with whom I have done speaking retreats, conferences and seminars over the years for young pastors and church planters. Less than two years ago he made it known that he would now like to be called she. And he is currently in the process of making the full transgender commitment. There has been a full wardrobe change, a slight name change, and a new group of friends. And I am left wondering, “What am I to do?”
I share all these stories just to say that the LGBT world is no longer something “way out there” to me.
These are real people that I’ve done life with. I’ve worked with them. I’ve done seminars with them. And in addition to these experiences I’ve spent time with those from my own extended family who are involved in the gay lifestyle.
This issue is only easy if you don’t know anyone involved in the lifestyle.
2. Homosexual behavior is A sin but it is not THE sin.
There has to be a place and time to talk about holy living, and I believe that happens best in relationship. I am leery of laying out these verses in the Bible without having a face to face to conversation or an investment in the individual who is reading and processing.
For instance, the gay lifestyle centers around community, not just sex. I understand that LGBT people feel this is their community. It gives them a place to belong and provides companionship. I get that. I don’t argue the human need to belong. But intimacy and sex is also part of a the homosexual lifestyle just as it is part of the heterosexual lifestyle.
And there are verses in the Bible that are in direct opposition to same sex marriage and sex with the same sex.
Tough truth is best received when the truth teller is a trusted friend.
So understating my desire to speak truth as a trusted friend, let me say that God’s Word says right from the opening pages that sex was created to be expressed between one man and one woman within the context of marriage.
Genesis 2:24 – That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
From the very beginning God made man and woman. The design of their bodies is perfectly created to naturally fit together. There is an interlocking, connecting, uniting of body and soul that was carefully crafted by God. In the New Testament of the Bible Jesus affirms God’s original design.
Matthew 19:4-6 – “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
I Cor. 6:18-20 – Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
Any sexual activity outside of marriage is specifically called sin.
Whether it is heterosexual activity or homosexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage … it does not matter.
God says it is always wrong.
Hebrews 13:4 (MSG) – Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex.
That is a verse that neither gay nor straight people want to hear – but it’s part of the “whole” counsel of God’s Word. In fact, I cannot find one single verse in the Bible where God blesses sex outside of marriage or same sex marriage.
God’s plan for marriage is = 1 man + 1 woman = 1 lifetime
The Creator, not culture, established marriage, therefore it is permanent and transcends culture.
In the Bible God is absolutely confident and clear as to where He stands on the issue of sex outside of marriage and same sex marriage.
Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.
Please notice that it does not say the gay person is detestable … the behavior is detestable.
Temptations do not define who you are.
Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus himself was tempted in every way, yet he did not sin. It is not temptation that is detestable in God’s eyes – it is giving in to temptation and allowing our behavior to be determined by our sinful desires. I just want to be sure I am clear on this point because there will be some who will want to take this out of context.
No person who wrestles with same sex attraction or participates in the gay lifestyle is “detestable.” Only the behavior is detestable.
So would it be accurate to say that God is homophobic?
No, God is not “homophobic.”
Does God hate those who are gay? Absolutely Not!
Nor should His followers who call themselves Christians.
What we see in scripture is that God is actually “sin-phobic.”
God cannot tolerate sin of any kind around Him; that is why He sent His Son Jesus.
So that EVERYONE could be set free and forgiven from his or her sins.
3. Anyone can change.
“Change” is not a word that anyone likes to hear.
- Kids don’t like to change schools when their parents move.
- Adults don’t like to change doctors, dentists or diapers.
- And those who are living apart from God and doing their “own thing” don’t like to hear that they need to change.
The times I have brought up the word “change” with my friends living in the LGBT community it has not gone well. There are two schools of thought in this community …
- They cannot change.
- They don’t need to change.
Obviously a person’s need to change is a personal thing between them and God. And the need to change and the power to change comes from the Holy Spirit of God … not my human words or actions.
When I have been tangled in this “change” conversation with myself internally or others externally here is where I go …
I Corinthians 6:9-10 ~ Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
I take a moment and look at that list and I realize …
I am on that list!
And so are most of the people I hang around.
I pray we could realize that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin.
But to single out homosexuality rather than the sin of
- I will not condemn the LGBT community and in turn give a free pass to those who are so materialistic or greedy they cannot give any money in offerings back to God, His Church and others.
- I will not condemn the LGBT community and leave unchallenged those who are married yet having affairs.
- I will not condemn the LGBT community and yet not speak against jealously, anger, pride or drunkenness.
- I will not condemn the LGBT community and yet leave unchallenged those whose lust leads them daily into sexually destructive habits and addictions.
Have you ever noticed that Christians tend to get very angry at those who sin differently than they do?
When I examine my own life, I am astonished at how judgmental I can be of a person who sins in a way I do not understand. And yet how forgiving I am of a person who sins in a way that I also sin.
And the verse does not stop there – keep reading.
I Corinthians 6:11 ~ And that is what some of you were.
In those eight words we find the entire Christian faith.
Everything we believe is built upon this truth.
- You do not have to be who you have always been!
- Your past does not have to determine your future!
- Any person’s life can be radically changed by God!
If the possibility of real life change is gone, then we have nothing to offer this world but a set of rules.
But I am here to proclaim to you that rules are not what the Bible, God or Jesus offers. We are offered a powerful personal relationship with Jesus Christ & real life change!
And not only does the Bible say life change is possible – many millions of people have experienced it!
Here is what I believe about ALL of us.
We are all sinners in need of a Savior.
That is why God sent His Son Jesus.
Let’s spend less time pointing fingers and more time pointing people to Jesus and His grace for our lives.
And that is what some of you were.
But you were washed, you were sanctified,
you were justified in the name of the
Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
~ I Corinthians 6:11
For all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God.
~ Romans 3:23
Everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.
~ Romans 10:13
Live curious friends.