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October 15, 2017
Pastor Jeff Struecker
We are going to talk about homosexuality to two groups of people today. The first group are folks in this room who claim the name of Jesus and who would say, “Hey, I’m not personally struggling with this issue.” And if that’s you, most of this sermon is for you, because if you look, the title of this sermon is: How Should the Church Respond to the Issue of Homosexuality?
I have personally invited some people who are involved in this lifestyle and looking for biblical answers to this question, and that’s the second group of people we’re going to speak to today. But most of this sermon is going to be to our church, for our church, about how our church can, or should, engage this subject in our society.
Basically, in our city, there are two types of people: There are the people who say, “Hey, I understand the Bible. When it comes to the Bible and morality, I submit myself to the Bible, and no matter what the Bible says, I am going to personally follow the Bible. The Bible decides my morality.” There’s also a very different group of people in our society, and they say, “I know what the Bible says, but I don’t like what the Bible says, so I’m going to do something different, because it’s inconvenient, or I just don’t agree with what the Bible teaches when it comes to morality. And this is one of those areas that really shows where people stand when it comes to morality. Who has the authority to decide your views on this subject? Is it the Bible, or is it society?
Now, let’s just be honest. For decades, maybe centuries, churches have been completely silent on this subject. They have said nothing in society and for decades, centuries, the church didn’t have to say anything, because this issue was not public discussion. People just didn’t talk about it in public. Frankly, that’s not the world that we live in anymore. There is not much in our public arena that doesn’t talk about this today, and therefore, it’s no longer okay for a church to be silent on this issue. The church must speak to this issue.
Let me tell you what’s happened in our culture in the last generation. Researchers from New York from the Thompson Firm, researched nation-wide, people between the ages of 13 and 20 years old on the subject of homosexuality, and they asked them the question, “Where do you stand on the issue of homosexuality?” And here’s what the nation as a whole between the ages of 13 and 20 years old said about this discussion: They said, “I can’t really call myself completely heterosexual.” In fact, they refer to themselves as sexually fluid – “I’m not sure what I am.”
In 2016, when his nation-wide research happened, 48% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 20 said, “I am completely heterosexual.” That means that 52% of an entire generation of Americans said, “I don’t know what I am, but I’m not sure I’m only attracted to the opposite gender.”
And the church now must engage in this culture, and it’s not just because it’s on the news that we have to engage in it. Listen to me very carefully. We engage in this, because the Bible has something to say about this, and because the Bible has something to say about this, the church must stand up and say something about this in society.
So, here’s where I’m going with the sermon today. In fact, I’ll give it to you in one complete sentence. Really, this sermon is about us, the church, and how we must respond on this topic in the future. Here’s the sentence:
God wants his church to dive deep into every sin issue in culture. –including this issue.
And this is a sin issue. That means God wants his church to dive deep into this sin issue. If the Bible speaks about this, then we must speak about this, and we must do it in a public way, because this is now part of the public forum. This is part of the public discussions.
I. Don’t single out this lifestyle
So, today we’re going to answer two questions: What does the Bible say, and how should the church respond when this becomes part of the public discussion? We’ve got a little bit of ground to cover, so are y’all ready roll up your sleeves and to follow along with a couple of things about how the church should respond on the issue of homosexuality today? Here’s the first thing that I’d like for you to write down: Don’t single out and treat this lifestyle, this issue, like it’s different from all of the other sin issues, or sexual issues, in the Bible, because it’s not. People who are genuinely confused sexually are typically confused spiritually, and they are struggling with how they follow Jesus as much as they are struggling with what’s happening inside them.
So, we should be people who are willing to help guide folks along who are struggling or confused sexually. I’m going to give you a passage of Scripture. I want you to listen to this list in this passage of Scripture found in 1st Timothy chapter 1, and I want you to notice something about this list. Here’s the great apostle Paul writing to his protégé, Timothy. He was sending Timothy to plant a church in a very pagan city, and here’s what he tells them:
1 Timothy 1:8-11
We know that the law is good when used correctly. 9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.
The word lawless means they don’t understand the law or are not sure what it means to live up to the law. The word rebellious means, “I know what the law says, and I don’t care. I’m going to do this anyway. The law is not intended for people who are doing what’s right; it’s intended for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly.
Look at this list. It says that in Jesus’ church, there were some people who promised their children that they’d go out and play ball with them and then broke that promise. There are some murderers in Jesus’ church. There are folks who cheated on their taxes in Jesus’ church. There are folks who engaged in the sin of gossip in Jesus’s church, and then there are people who are involved in all kinds of sexual sins, like that lady who is currently in an adulterous relationship and like that person who’s engaged in homosexuality.
But notice, it doesn’t make one sin bigger and another sin smaller than the others. In God’s sight, sin is sin, and all sin requires the blood of Jesus to forgive us for, the blood of Jesus to purchase our payment for. It’s only by the blood of Jesus that we can be made right with God, that we can receive forgiveness for our sins. There are no little sins; there are no big sins. With God, sin is sin, and all sin is equally terrible in God’s sight.
So why do church people treat this sin like it’s different? Now I’m speaking personally about Calvary Baptist Church, because in the past, I have invited more than one practicing homosexual to our church, and while they were in this church, somebody who sat right next to them said to them, “You’re not welcome here. I don’t want you in my church.”
Now wait; it gets worse. They followed them out the door, and they walked with them to their car door and said, “Don’t come back. This church isn’t for you because of the sin that you practice.” And by doing that, they were singling this sin out and making this sin worse than all of the others. In fact, they were making this sin worse than their own sin.
‘See, I’m convinced that sometimes people wrongly make this sin worse than others. In other words, they’re ignorant. They just don’t know the truth that the Bible teaches, but sometimes they wickedly make this sin worse than others, meaning they know the truth, and they want to hold the Bible over somebody’s head or beat somebody up with the Bible on this issue. You don’t have the right to do that. I don’t have the right to do that. -because the Bible doesn’t give us the right to do that.
II. Don’t minimize this lifestyle.
If somebody in this city is struggling with sin and looking for a savior who can rescue them from sin, they need to feel welcome at Calvary Baptist Church. We’re not going to single this sin out and make it worse than all of the others. But at the same time, we’re also not going to minimize this and act like it’s no big deal, because it is a big deal. All sin, even that broken promise, even your gossip, even the little sins, are a big deal. There is no big sin/little sin with God.
There was some research that came out, and scientists are trying to make this argument when it comes to homosexuality. I’m going to show you a verse in the Bible in just a second, but here’s what the scientists are saying about homosexuality. This is the public discussion. They are saying that this is a genetic condition; you were born this way. And here’s how the argument goes from science: They say that it is a genetic compound inherited from your parents on the X chromosome, and that trait comes directly from your parents, and because it comes directly from your parents, it affects your brain’s neurodevelopmental mechanisms, which causes you to be to be attracted to, or affiliated with, the same sex instead of with the opposite sex.
Then this is where the logic has taken many on this topic: They’ve said there’s no difference between being born homosexual and being born with a different skin color. And now, every African-American in this room should be incensed by that connection, because by making that statement, they’re essentially saying, “Hey, just like people were taken from their homeland hundreds of years ago and forced against their will to come to another country and work until they were dead, treated like property, that happened to them because of the color of their skin, and there is no difference between what’s happening to them and what’s happening to people that are homosexuals, because they were born that way.”
And that argument just simply doesn’t add up, but here’s really where that argument is heading (mark my words): It’s saying, “It’s not the homosexual’s fault. It’s not their parents’ fault. It’s God’s fault that they were born this way, so God can’t hold them responsible for this lifestyle, this action, and we as God’s people, people of the book, would say, “No, no; that’s not what the Bible teaches.” In fact, I’ve got a verse for this. It comes from the New Testament from the book of Jude, but it is a strong warning to the New Testament church, using an example from the Old Testament church. Here it is, Jude verse 7:
And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.
Does God take this issue seriously? Jude would say, “Sodom and Gomorrah- seriously.” That’s how seriously God takes this issue, and God’s people should take this issue, all sexual sin, all sin, that seriously. We don’t downplay sin around here. We also don’t make the Bible say something that it doesn’t say.
Can I just remind you, if you grew up in the church, if you know the Bible, you know the story from Genesis 19, of what happened in Sodom and Gomorrah? Can I remind you in this room who know the Bible that God had a man in Sodom? His name was Lot, and Lot should have talked to those people in Sodom. Lot should have engaged his city about the sins that were going on in Sodom. But Lot didn’t do it. Lot was silent. He sat outside the city gates, and it was more important for him to make money than it was to tell his friends and neighbors about Jesus. It was more important for Lot that he would develop relationships. He even let his daughters marry men from that city. That was more important.
We have no record of Lot saying anything to his neighbors, when he lived outside of Sodom and Gomorrah, about the lifestyle that they were living. I’m convinced the only reason God sent a couple of angels to spare Lot’s life, is because of Abraham, because God loved Abraham, and Abraham loved Lot. God sent a couple of angels to rescue Lot back before he annihilated cities off of the face of the earth. ‘No record of them to this day. Lot should have engaged his city, and he didn’t, and everyone in his city died because of it. In fact, Lot’s sons-in-law and his wife died because of his silence.
Now, I’m going to say something that parents, grandparents, I wish I didn’t have to say, but unfortunately, I do. If you haven’t had the conversation with your children or with their grandchildren about sex yet, now unfortunately, because of the city that we live in, the country that we live in, you’re going to have to have a discussion with them about what happens when another boy likes them, what happens when another girl is attracted to them, not just what happens between a boy and a girl, but what happens when another boy or another girl likes them. That’s unfortunately the world that we live in, and it would be negligent not to have those kinds of conversations today. We didn’t have to have this conversation 30 or 50 years ago. You do today, and parents, I just want you to prepare yourself today.
III. Don’t leave people in this lifestyle
So, here’s really where the sermon is going today, and already a couple of people got up, and it looks like got upset and walked out. We will not be a church that leaves people in this lifestyle. We will lovingly, graciously, compassionately, courageously, meet them where they are and show them a risen Savior who can radically transform their lives.
This is an immersive lifestyle. If you come out in public and you may make it known that you’re homosexual today, it’s probably going to cost you your relationship with most of your family. It will almost certainly cost you your relationship with all of your friends, which means you have nobody left to relate to but other homosexuals. So, when the church engages you and they ask you to pursue Jesus and to follow him in righteousness, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where, “If I follow Jesus, it’s going to cost me all of my homosexual friends, which means I have no relationships left.” And when that happens, the church has to step in and become the family for the person who’s given their family up to follow Jesus, the family of their homosexual friends, to follow Jesus, and that means we have to be willing to go with them for a long time and to be engaged at a deep level with them.
I’m going to show you a verse of the Bible, really one phrase from one verse of the Bible that must define Calvary Baptist Church. It’s found in 1st Corinthians chapter 6. Here’s what the Bible says. This is Paul writing to a church in a foreign city about how to live for Jesus in a foreign culture, and here’s what Paul says:
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The church in Corinth thousands of years ago, Paul sent people in there. Paul himself went in there to engage a culture that was just crazy with sin, and God started to do a great work in their midst, and when that church was birthed, there were former cheaters and former liars and former prostitutes and former murderers and former homosexuals in that church. And notice that it’s past tense. “You used to be like that, but you’re not like that anymore because of the power of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He has radically cleaned you up. He’s made you a new person, and now that’s not you anymore, but it used to be you.
If you and I want to win a world for Jesus, we have to be willing to meet them right where they are, which means meet them right in the middle of their sin and walk with them in the middle of this sin until they’re radically changed by Jesus Christ, until he has cleaned them up and he has made them new, and if we are going to be a church like the New Testament church, look at this. There needs to be former homosexuals and former prostitutes and former murderers in this church, like they were in God’s church in the New Testament, which says if you live in the city where this is a thing, then the church should be addressing this thing. And there are few cities in America where this isn’t a thing anymore.
I’m going to wrap up with this. There was a lady in our church (she’s not here anymore), but there was a lady in our church who got very angry with me when I spoke openly about homosexuality and how we as a church must meet people where they are – love them and introduce them to Jesus. In fact, I said as a church, and I’ll say it again: Because of what’s happening with the transgender population of our country, we had to be a church that figures out, how do we make it possible for transgender people to worship here without putting our children or grandchildren at risk? And I made a public statement that we’re going to do this as a way of reaching our community, all of our community.
This lady was furious, so angry in fact, that she walked, right after church was over, to a visitor who was visiting that day, and she said to this visitor, “I don’t know why you’re here today. This church is a disaster, and it’s our pastor’s fault. Don’t ever come back.” That lady heard that word, and she went back and told her friend who invited her to come to Calvary, “I’ll never be back at that church if this is going on in that church.” Look, I came this close to shutting that LifeGroup down on the spot, because the leader didn’t step in and take charge of the room like she should have.
A couple of months later, this woman asked me if I would come visit her at her house. I’ll be honest with you; I was preparing myself for the worst. In fact, I asked my wife, Dawn, if she would come with me when I went to visit her at her house, and only the Holy Spirit can do what happens next. She wept openly, and she said, “Jeff, I’m sorry for what I said about you. I’m sorry for what I said to openly homosexual people in this church when I told them they’re not welcome here.”
Then, she told me what happened to her personally. She got to know a beautiful young woman who was in a lesbian relationship. She got to know her and her lesbian friend. And for the first time in her life, this woman started to see this couple as souls in need of Jesus, instead of people living in sin, and for the first time in her life, the Holy Spirit started to work on her about where she is with the Lord on the issue of homosexuality, and she said, “Jeff, would you please forgive me for what I said about you and what I did to folks in this church?” And I said, “There’s no forgiveness needed. This is between you and the Lord, and it sounds like he’s already forgiven you for it.
But listen to me. Some of you in this room right now are probably thinking, “Jeff’s been way too easy on these people.” If that’s you, I want you to go home today, and I want you to examine your heart. Because maybe there’s something not right in your heart if you even have a “these people” theology.
Some of you in this room have said, “Jeff’s been way too hard on this group of people, and we need to be easier with them about it. “-and you’re looking for somebody who will water down the teachings of the Bible. That’s not who I am. That’s not the church that we are. We’re going to boldly, courageously, say what the Scriptures teach on this issue, but we’re also going to compassionately, generously, meet people where they are and show them a savior, and we’re going to be the church that loves people out of this sin and out of this lifestyle, until they know Jesus personally.
Some of you in this room have no business getting engaged in this, because you personally may have an attraction to the same sex, and it would be too much of a temptation for you to do it, but for others of you in this room, maybe what you need to do is to look down at those next steps and to pray that third next step, that “God, will you give me the ability to develop a relationship with a practicing homosexual and to engage them right where they are until they find Jesus, until Jesus finds them, and radically changes them?”
I really hope somebody in this room is a practicing homosexual who has been here today and has realized, “Something has to change, and I can’t do this on my own.” –and today, you find the gospel of Jesus Christ, that he can clean you up; he can make you holy; he can transform you, if you will surrender to him. You can’t do this by yourself, and you’re going to need a family, a church, around you who will walk with you through this. I hope that’s somebody in this room.
But for others who are struggling with this personally, and that’s a lot of you in this room that I know this has personally affected you or your family, please don’t ever put a relationship, any relationship, before Jesus. So, don’t allow your relationship with this person, for good or for bad, to interfere with your relationship with Jesus.
• I am trapped in sin. Today, I want to find freedom from my sin through a relationship with Jesus for the first time.
– I have allowed my relationship with a person to become more important than my relationship with Jesus. This week, I will make my relationship with Jesus first place.
+ With God’s help, I will develop a gospel relationship with a practicing homosexual.
- Do you believe that someone is born homosexual? Explain your answer?
- Most of the discussion about homosexuality in our society today revolves around marriage. Does the Bible allow for homosexual marriage? (Use Bible verses to back up your answer.)
- When you were young, did your parents ever have a discussion with you about same-sex attraction? If you’re a parent, have you had the conversation with your children?
- Do you have friends or family who are in a homosexual lifestyle? If so, how has it impacted their relationship with you?
- Would you be willing to develop a friendship with someone in the homosexual lifestyle for the purposes of helping them find Christ and freedom from that lifestyle?
- What message does it send to people who are spiritually confused if churches never talks about homosexuality in the public arena?
- Pray that our church would be willing to engage people right where they are with the good news that Jesus saves sinners.