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In the last few years Exodus has seen many Christians and churches soften their truth-only response to the issue of homosexuality and instead have embraced Christ’s example of communicating with absolute truth AND grace. What God is He is fully. He isn’t 50/50 on anything. He was, is and forever will be complete in everything that He is. Completely good. Completely just. Completely truth. Completely grace. For a large segment of Christ’s Bride to become more like Him is a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately we are now seeing a pendulum shift in which some Christians have moved beyond the truth-only stance to embrace a grace-only view. This shift is affecting how homosexuality is being viewed and is just as damaging as a truth-only response.
First, there are many Christians who now believe that chastity is the only answer for those with same-sex attractions. They believe that people are either gay or straight and that their identities, in that regard, are fixed. If someone is gay then the only option, according to these Christians, is celibacy. Everything else that comes with gay life, however, is acceptable. So, as long as someone remains sex-free they are able to hang out in gay bars and identify fully as gay.
Here is the problem with that line of thinking. We are so behavior-driven as Christians that we believe as long as we keep our pants zipped and legs crossed that we are doing well. Sexual sin is not the beginning of a problem; it is the result of one. While some do fall into sexual sin because of a momentary temptation, the majority of individuals stay in sexual sin because it seems to satisfy a deep core, God-given need for intimacy and relationship. However, sex was never meant to be a substitute for relational intimacy with God, others, or even our spouse. Sex is a beautiful, natural and godly expression that flows out of healthy intimacy, within the confines of heterosexual marriage. As our creator, God defines the parameters for sexual expression and intimacy.
Celibacy is the godly option for all single men and women. In fact, the Bible mentions that those who are unmarried are able to be more focused and single-minded in their love and devotion to God. Personally, I have heard some of the most amazing stories of God’s faithfulness from single friends who have chosen to surrender their sexuality to Him.
Today many Christians with SSA are choosing celibacy, but they are also choosing to keep the gay identity/label. This falls short of God’s best because identity matters. How we view and refer to ourselves is very important. Twenty years ago when I began my journey to holiness I could have simply chosen to work on my sexual urges and opted out of working on my identity struggles and the deeper issues that fueled my desire for sex. I could have chosen to call myself a celibate gay man and just left it at that. Where would that have taken me? Not very far. When it comes to the extreme changes that have occurred in my heart, mind and life it was the identity changes that fueled the transformation. I chose, in those early days, to focus most on figuring out who I was in Christ and that ultimately led to a change in how I behaved. Simply discontinuing or curbing how I expressed my same-sex attractions wasn’t enough or most important.
A second outcome of the grace-only approach is that it gives license to sin. This is taking over many churches and denominations. Allowing clergy to be ordained while living in sin, heterosexually or homosexually, makes the Church irrelevant. The basis of a Christian life is that it is set apart. It is different from the world. Redeemed. Living in sin is the opposite of living redeemed. Anyone can be redeemed, but the result of redemption is a turning from what we once were through the power of repentance. In order to accommodate sin one has to ignore biblical truth or revise it to fit their life choices. Church is no longer church then, just a club for people to gather based on their common interests. In my opinion the problem with being a gay Christian is that gay comes first and takes center stage. God won’t share His throne with anyone or anything.
A final concern of a grace-only approach is when one believes the truth of scripture but decides to say nothing for fear of losing people or being labeled homophobic. Entire churches and groups are “distancing” themselves from Exodus and any concrete position on sexual sin for fear that they will be targeted. I understand; it hurts to be misunderstood, judged and threatened. It’s tough to stand for something when our culture is all about standing for nothing. But, when you are a part of the Church you are called to stand for Christ and that usually means not everyone will like you.
We are living in trying times. Our understanding of who God is and who He created us to be, especially in light of the fallenness of humanity, is vital. Search the scriptures and you will find that God has a plan for us that was born out of the fullness of who He is and who He intends for us to be for eternity. I love that.
All for the Kingdom,