And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” – I Samuel 15:14-15
King Saul was commanded by God to destroy all living things in his war with the Amalekites, including sheep and oxen. Saul, however, decided to spare the best of the animals supposedly to sacrifice them to the Lord (I Samuel 15:21). We find out a later, however, that Saul was really just seeking to please the people, not the Lord (I Samuel 15:24). In other words, he was worried more about what men thought than about what God thought.
This is a temptation for men and women in all ages – seeking to follow God just enough to appear faithful but not so much that it offends or alienates the world. This is often, as with Saul, cloaked in a desire to please God but in reality is about pleasing ourselves.
There is now a group of people, calling themselves “gay Christians” or, in some cases, “bisexual Christians.” They see themselves as a “sexual minority” within the church and believe the church should minister to them under that rubric. They claim they “have performed the commandment of the Lord,” because they practice celibacy outside of marriage (something all Christians are called to do) and hold to traditional Christian beliefs regarding marriage (again, something all Christians are called to do). Yet, at the same time, they refuse to submit their identity to God. They are willing to follow him up to a point, but not all the way to crucifying their identity as an LGBT+ person. They hold the Bible’s view on sexual behavior in one hand and the world’s view on identity and sexual orientation in the other. This tension will not hold.
God calls us to repent, not just of external behaviors, but also of beliefs and desires that are at odds with His word, for they are the fount of all external sinful behavior (Matthew 15:19). And nothing is more at odds with his word, His character and His created order than to say that homosexuality, transgenderism, bisexuality, and an alphabet soup of other sexual proclivities (the “+” in LBGT+) remain who a person is after coming to Christ. Such things are disordered desires rooted in the Fall, not God-given, morally neutral identities (Romans 1:26-27, I John 2:16). You are not a member of a “sexual minority” if you deal with homosexual temptation, you are a member of the sinful majority – all of humanity who deal with sin and temptation of one kind or another.
Discussing our life before and after Christ in I Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul says:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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.
Is he saying the temptation to engage in this list of sins disappeared when those who practiced them came to Christ? Of course not. But nowhere in scripture are we told because temptation remains we should identify ourselves by our former sin. There are no “gay” Christians any more than there are adulterer Christians, or greedy Christians, or drunkard Christians or swindler Christians. We were those things but in Christ we are no longer. The notion that my sexual desires are my identity is from the world, not the scriptures.
To allow your sin to define you is to deny the gospel of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. It is to put yourself back under bondage after having been set free (Galatians 5:1).
The church must reject this half-measures approach to repentance from sexual sin and the notion that such sin is in a unique category requiring special language and handling. And, she must rebuke those who insist on holding an LGBT+ identity with one hand and Christ with the other, for we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).
No sin is so difficult that the ordinary means of grace are insufficient. The homosexual or bisexual or transgender person, like any other sinner, needs to repent, turn from his sin, identify with a local church, read the scriptures, pray, take the Lord’s Supper, fellowship with believers – in short, live the Christian life and pursue holiness like everyone else who is a new creature in Christ.
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