- (Photo: Facebook/Shane Idleman)
I have nothing but compassion for those trapped in sexual sin. My hope is that readers will read the entire article before drawing conclusions. Those who strongly believe in the Bible and God's will regarding sexual behavior also strongly believe in unconditional love and forgiveness. To say that authentic Christians hate or fear those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the Christian faith.
To "confront in love" simply comes from a desire to honor God and to truly love and care for others. The ability to relate to people on their level, show genuine concern, and love them regardless of their lifestyle is the mark of true Christianity.
In case you don't continue reading, let me offer some encouragement: if you're hopeless, depressed, and confused, look to the One who created you. He has the answers. No matter what you have done, you have the ability to turn to Christ and start anew: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
It's no surprise that the church, and our nation, desperately need to hear "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" to awaken, convict, and restore. It was not so long ago that we were concerned about "the fall of America." America cannot fall because she has already fallen. We are now picking up the pieces of a broken nation reflected in our laws, lives, families, and children. America's moral heartbeat has ceased because we cut off the source of life. We need resuscitation, renewal, and revival of the truth.
When people, groups, denominations, or movements depart from absolute truth, and thus, quench and grieve the Spirit of God, they become mechanical in their approach to Christianity and lose the ability to guide. The Word of God is not in their hearts "like a burning fire" (Jeremiah 20:9), but relative, powerless, and debatable. This is what we see today.
Unfortunately, those who are sounding the alarm are often categorized as irrational, judgmental, bigoted, and intolerant. But how can we warn if we won't confront, correct if we won't challenge, and contend if we won't question? We must speak the truth in love…the Bible is crystal clear on sexual sin, including homosexuality.
Why is there a lack of conviction today? The reason may not be in the pew, but in the pulpit. Much depends on the prayer life of the preacher. Pastors, preachers, and teachers must spend extended time in prayer to be truly effective-God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. Luther's motto, "He that has prayed well has studied well," rings true.
I'm convinced that the majority of the churches in America are seeking to please the masses rather than convict. Judgment is never mentioned; repentance is rarely sought; and sin is often excused. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict. This leaves people confused and deceived because we teach and live a form of Christianity void of repentance…void of truth.
Consider the following in light of Jesus' teachings…in light of the truth:
1. The "moral" laws in the Old Testament such as killing, stealing, lying, adultery, sexual immorality, and so on are all valid today. Jesus referred often to the Old Testament, and said that He didn't come to abolish it, but to fulfill it. Although many of the ceremonial and dietary laws of the Old Testament do not apply today, the moral laws do. They are as significant today as they have been throughout history. For example, Leviticus 20:13 states, "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination…." To suggest that this verse is invalid today is to advocate the dangerous practice of redefining or deleting what God has said. Jesus referred to the Old Testament often in regard to moral behavior.
The consequences of wrong actions may have changed, but the moral implications remain the same. For instance, even though we no longer stone to death those who commit adultery, this does not mean that adultery is acceptable or any less dangerous. Adultery is wrong even though there aren't legal consequences.
2. Jesus condemned "all" sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman when He said, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications…these defile a man" (Matthew 15:19). Jesus was implying that all sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is harmful and immoral. The word "fornication" in the Greek is porneia; where the word "pornography" comes from. We cannot say, "But I was born this way," because we were all born to lie, cheat, lust, and deceive, but this doesn't make it right…it makes us sinful and in need of a Savior.
3. An argument cannot be based solely on silence. To suggest that Jesus approved of homosexuality simply because He did not use the term "homosexual," is to imply that He approved of necrophilia, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. But, of course, we know better.
4. Other passage in the New Testament are clear on this issue as well. Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 are good places to start. In short, mankind did not see fit to acknowledge God and they suppressed the truth; therefore, God gave them over to a depraved mind-to do those things which are not proper. Homosexual behavior, and sexual sin in general, is comparable with dishonoring the body and turning from God. "The sexual disordering of the human race is a judgment of God for exchanging Him for the creature" (John Piper).
5. Jesus said that since the beginning of creation, God created them male and female in order that they would be joined together and become one flesh. He adds, "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mark 10:9). Marriage between a man and a woman is God's plan since creation. No matter how many laws are passed in favor of gay-marriage, it will not change God's mind. Man often rebels against God; this is nothing new.
In closing, Jesus would often speak out against sin, but His love and mercy also reached out to those who regretted and hated their condition. Forgiveness is a mark of genuine faith. We should have compassion for those who struggle with same-sex attraction because we all struggle with sin, but at the same time, we should not condone or excuse this type of sin any more than we condone or excuse any other sin.
Watch the sermon, Same-sex Attraction–Balancing Grace & Truth.
Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, just North of Los Angeles. He just released his 7th book, Desperate for More of God. Shane's sermons, articles, books, and radio program can all be found at www.WCFAV.org. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/confusedchurch.