THE GAY QUESTION, PART 2 Can a person be gay and be a Christian?

Last week, I spent quite a bit of time trying to make the point that the Bible is blatantly clear that homosexuality is a sin. God hasn’t changed his mind in the New Testament, and believing otherwise requires fantastic manipulation of the Scriptures. That said, before I dive into this week’s blog, I’d like to say two things in follow-up to last week:

1. There is no sinner greater than me. I am not trying to look down my nose at anyone. Teaching the gospel is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

2. There were several questions about whether or not the original Greek can possibly be misunderstood in modern translations, as some gay advocates have argued. One person commented that his friend claimed to discover “that ‘homosexual’ in the original Greek means the worship of shrine prostitutes/fertility gods, not what we know the word to be today. So therefore she feels that Scripture is being taken out of context when we call homosexuality a sin.” This is a gross assumption. Most places homosexuality is mentioned, it is the word “arsenokoites” which means “a male who lies with a male as with a female (for sexual purposes).” In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, where it mentions both homosexuals and male prostitutes, the word for male prostitutes is “malakos” which refers to all male prostitution (including that which was done in the temple) and that word also indicts homosexuality again. Further, the Hebrew is pretty clear on homosexuality too, if anyone chooses to hold to the strange view that the Greek supports homosexuality. One bible study rule that heretics often break when approaching Scripture is “if you want to know what the Bible says, find out what it ALSO says.” Heretics generally cite one or two passages and ignore massive amounts of Scripture. To believe that homosexuality is not a sin, one would have to ignore the plain language of passages like Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, and Romans 1:26-27, AND at the same time wildly manipulate the Greek. Now to this week’s question…

Can a person be gay and be a Christian?

I think the real question we’re asking is: can anyone struggling with ANY sin be a Christian? Can a person struggling with unforgiveness be a Christian? Can a person struggling with lust be a Christian? Can a person struggle with greed and be a Christian? The plain fact is, all of us are in a battle against sin, and even though “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), God doesn’t condemn us to hell while we are being sanctified (gaining victory over sin). If God did not tolerate us while we struggle with sin, who could stand? RC Sproul wrote, “The most perplexing theological question is not why there’s suffering in this world, but why God tolerates us in our sinfulness.”

That said, I believe that the deeper question is not about the struggle with sin, or the presence of sin, but it’s about the practice of sin. God does not condemn anyone who is tempted or struggling with sin, but He is merciful, patient, and ready to assist us with His grace as He invites us: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). So it is possible to be Christian, and at the same time be struggling with sin—any sin—while we are growing in our faith. In that sense, you can be “gay” and be a Christian. At the same time, I would encourage the one struggling with homosexuality to choose “celibacy” as long as such a struggle remains, much the same as I would encourage someone struggling with lust to avoid sex outside of marriage. In the meantime, we must see the presence of sin as a “grace grower,” teaching us to trust God more. All this in mind, I have different thoughts for those who are practicing homosexuality. John wrote, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:4-5, NASB). Then he concludes, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6, NIV). This Scripture teaches us that the one who practices sin (who continually chooses to live in it) does not really know God. It does not mean that the sin “un-saves” them or “de-Christianizes” them. This is teaching us that the practice of sin is the EVIDENCE that they don’t really know God at all. So then, can a practicing homosexual be a Christian? I believe the answer is “no” because the practice of sin indicates that they don’t really know God or His Word at all. A person who has understood the gospel of grace and has tasted of the love of the Father will not sin because the love of God changes their desire to do so, and the power of gospel enables them to leave the sin. A person who continues to practice sin does not know God, and likely never has. It’s the same as identifying a cherry tree. If the cherry tree grows crab apples, it is not a cherry tree. Stapling cherries to the crab apple tree won’t make it a cherry tree. The crab apple tree must have its very nature altered if it is to ever really grow cherries. This is what the gospel does as we believe in the work of the cross.

I want to be very careful with my language here because I don’t want to lead a true believer into condemnation. I am not saying that a gay Christian that stumbles and commits a homosexual act is suddenly out of the kingdom. God is far more merciful than that. For example, I swore yesterday. Am I suddenly out of the kingdom? No, because I’m not talking about someone that really doesn’t want to sin and is trying to overcome it. The presence of remorse and desire to leave sin is indication itself of the fact that I am a true believer in Christ. So a gay person that is struggling, and even stumbling, is not necessarily out of the kingdom. But a practicing homosexual that continues to willfully live in sin, and has no remorse for it, but is justifying his behavior and all the while claiming he a Christian, “is a liar and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4).

I’ve heard so many gay advocates say, “But how can you condemn someone if they were born gay? If that’s who they really are, how can you fault them any more than you can fault a white man for being white?”

How far do we take this argument? What about pedophiles? Can’t you make the same argument for them? Since they were born with a child-attraction, and that’s who they “really are” should we just allow their behavior? What about murderers? Should we allow them to kill? Like any man, I can have struggles with lust for women that I’m not married to. So what should I do? What’s “the real me”? Should I have an affair on my wife or look at porn just because “that’s who I really am”? The plain fact is, all of us struggle with sin and weakness, and God asks us to deny our sin nature, and trust His grace to gain the victory over it. So, in one sense, I take issue with the person that calls homosexuality “normal” because I do not believe it is natural in light of God’s design. However, because of the fall of man, homosexuality is very normal. It’s part of the fruit of our separation from God and the sin nature all of us inherited through Adam.

What I am saying is that God is a Father. He is merciful enough to receive someone struggling with homosexuality as his son and daughter, even if they stumble. His grace and power are big enough to free the person from homosexuality, and if His sovereign wisdom demands it, to sustain a person that lives with it for as long as it is present. At the same time, let’s not call someone a son or daughter of God that has not shown evidence of it in their confession or their deeds. The question is not “Does God love gay people?” the question is “Does the gay person love God?” If they do, there will be the evidence of grace in their lives.

I’m not sure I did a good job with this, but at least we’ve got a lot to talk about. In the meantime, consider growing in grace by listening to my audio podcasts on isaiahsix.com or reading my book Discipleship by Grace which can be ordered at amazon or amanirecords.com.

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