Senior Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in South Carolina dealt with the question, "What is the big deal about homosexuality/gay marriage?" as part of a sermon series called "You Asked For It" on Sunday. This was the most asked question the megachurch received.
The multi-campus church pastor recalled having a discussion with "a well-meaning Christian, who is adamant" that the Bible says that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. When the pastor asked for a reference, the Christian said 1 Corinthians 6.
"I went home that night, and I started reading that passage… about the people that the Bible says will not inherit the kingdom of God," Noble told the congregation Sunday, asking them to carefully see "if we can find ourselves in this passage."
"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?" The pastor began reading 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11. He then paused, and said, "Stop. Got us all? Got us all. Right?"
"Do not be deceived," Noble continued to read, and paused again to remark, "I'll say, do not be self-deceived… Self-deception is one of the greatest types of deception."
Noble then read the rest of the passage: "Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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."
The Bible just nailed us all, the pastor pointed out. "Every one of us fall into at least one of those categories… I think the focus is not on what we are doing, but on what Jesus has done."
What Paul is saying is, that is what some of you were, but now you are washed, sanctified and justified in the names of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. "Jesus Christ paid for sin, even the sins that we seem to be obsessed with but we don't think we are committing it."
After focusing on the fact that homosexuals are not the only ones mentioned in the passage, Noble went on to explain that the book of James says the Bible is like a mirror, and we are supposed to open it and see what is going on in our own lives, judge our own lives and reflect.
"But what the Christian community has done, is they have taken the Bible… and turned it into a window to look through and see what everyone else is doing," the pastor continued. "And we spend so much time looking through the window that we don't have time to look in the mirror."
What God has given us is "standards to live by, not stones to throw at other people," he underlined. When we turn the Bible from a mirror to window, "we minimize our sins and maximize the sins of other people, and nothing could be more unChrist-like."
Noble added that marriage is a big deal to God, and it should be a big deal to church. "It's about way more than health insurance and tax returns," he said, referring to Matthew 19, where Jesus was asked a question about divorce: "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"
Jesus' answer, which included the reference "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female'" and that what God has joined must not be separated, talked about certain boundaries, the pastor suggested.
There are boundaries in life, and crossing them can destroy us, Noble said. God says He has made two specific types of people, male and female. "This is what I believe Christian marriage is, between one man and one woman," the pastor said, adding he will always support this truth.
God gave us sex for our enjoyment in the context of male-female, husband-wife, Noble stressed. "Anything outside of these boundaries is called by God sexual immorality. It is sin and it is rebellion against God," he said, emphasizing that not just homosexuality, but everything outside the boundaries is sin.
Outside this box is detachment, inside this box is devotion, the pastor added.
But there is hope for "every person, gay, lesbian, straight, adulterer, person watching pornography, boy and girl hooking up and they are not married, there is hope in Jesus for anyone that is outside this box."