I sometimes wonder why I have to keep repeating basic and vital Christian truths over and over again. I guess there would be various possible reasons for this:
-Many Christians don’t read their Bibles
-Many Christians don’t really value truth
-Many Christians simply soak up the surrounding culture’s values and thinking
-Many Christians have short memories
-Many Christians have no interest in the biblical worldview
-Many Christians don’t bother to think
-Many Christians are in fact not Christians at all
All that would be the subject of another article. In fact, I already have written often about the sad state of contemporary Christianity in the West. One could be tempted to not keep repeating oneself. After all, I have books and hundreds of articles where I already make my case over and over again.
So I could just forget about it all. But truth is vitally important, and it needs to get a wide hearing. The fact that so many Christians are ignorant of their own faith and their own teachings is woeful indeed, but if it takes more repetition to get truth out there, then that is what we must do.
Here I want to once again address an issue which still has so many believers quite confused. I would have thought all this was pretty basic and easy to understand from a biblical point of view, yet it seems to be too much for so many believers. So let me rehash it once again.
The issue is this: can you be a homosexual and a Christian simultaneously? While it may seem a straightforward question, a few details and definitions are needed to explain this properly. My short answer is this: it is one thing to struggle with any sin, and be a believer. It is another thing to cling to and defend any sin, and claim to be a believer.
That is the crux of the matter. In other words, is there such a thing as a practicing, unrepentant homosexual Christian? In the exact same way we can ask, is there such a thing as a practicing, unrepentant adulterous Christian? Or is there such a thing as a practicing, unrepentant fornicating Christian? ‘No’ would be the likely answer to all three.
Let me rephrase this and restate this to hopefully bring a bit of clarity here. It is one thing to agree with God and say that you are struggling with a sin but know it is wrong and want help to overcome it. You struggle with the temptations and sometimes give in to them. But you know this is sin, and it is something you are not happy about.
That is altogether different from shaking your fist at God and saying that your sin is just fine and you have no intention of seeking to overcome it, or even call it sin. As to homosexuality, it means saying that my homosexuality is just fine and I will definitely cling to it, no matter what the Bible says.
There we find two entirely different attitudes. One agrees with God and one does not. That seems to be rather straightforward. Of course we all struggle with various sins and various temptations. No one is talking about sinless perfection here. No one is denying we may have an ongoing battle with certain sins.
But whether one agrees with God or not is crucial here. Either we side with God and acknowledge that this is something condemned in Scripture, and must be fought against by the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, or we cave in and seek to make excuses for our sins.
While all this should be somewhat obvious, there is still some confused thinking out there amongst Christians. Let me offer a few things which other believers have thrown my way as we discussed such matters. For example, one guy said, “I even think actively gay Christian men are often still saved. Some know they are sinning and fail. Others deny that they are sinning; yet still trust in the cross for their salvation.”
Um, there are some problems here. I have already dealt with both sorts of people. His first group has the right attitude: they know it is wrong. That they are still struggling and sometimes fail is not the crucial point here. But the second group he mentions is a contradiction in terms.
One cannot continuously affirm and practice known sin, yet at the same time claim to be saved in any biblical sense. What is biblical salvation? To a large degree, it is agreeing with God about our sins and turning from them. That is biblical repentance and that is the heart of salvation as proclaimed over and over again by Jesus and the disciples.
If we call something good that God calls sin, then we of course are none of his. Salvation always entails making Christ Lord. When we tell God he is wrong on an issue like homosexuality, we are not making him Lord – we are making ourselves Lord.
As mentioned, it is one thing to struggle with homosexual feelings. If you agree with God about them and seek his help to reject known sin that is one thing. But to defiantly tell God homosexuality is fine and that you refuse to budge indicates quite clearly that you are not a biblical Christian. We need to go back to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 for starters here:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: 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.
This guy replied by asking, “How does your statement that someone who is an active homosexual cannot be saved reconcile with Galatians 6?” What he should really be asking is this: How does your statement that someone who is an active homosexual can be saved reconcile with 1 Corinthians 6:9-11?
And Gal. 6 (specifically verse 1-6) is all about church discipline. When a believer goes off the rails in behaviour or lifestyle we are to warn, admonish and correct that person. The hope is that they will repent and get back to being right with God.
We are aiming for restoration of the fallen brother. But if they refuse to repent, then Paul makes it clear that we are to have nothing to do with the person, and we must put him out of the church fellowship. See more on this topic here: billmuehlenberg.com/1998/02/23/in-search-of-church-discipline/
This guy continued: “I think 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 talks about our ultimate identity in Christ; this cannot be shaken if we currently sin. My identity is no longer that of a wrongdoer; even though as a redeemed sinner I continue to do wrong.”
Regrettably we have some more confused thinking here. He needs to read what Paul actually said there. It is quite clear! It is about specific behaviours and actions which will keep us out of the Kingdom. If we keep stealing with impunity and show no remorse or desire to change we are not saved. In the same way if we keep lying with impunity and show no remorse or desire to change we are not saved.
And the same with one involved in homosexual sin. If he continues in it, is proud of it, and refuses to acknowledge that it is wrong, then yes of course, his behaviour – and his rebellious spirit – are keeping him out of the Kingdom. That is just what Paul means in the Corinthians passage.
He continued: “There have been times in my life where, as a Christian, I have been blind to my sin and even rationalized it as not sin; but even though I was faithless; God remained faithful because he cannot disown himself.” Sadly we have more confusion here.
He is still missing the point. It is one thing to have perhaps some lesser sins that you are not fully aware of at the moment which, when they come to light, you take action on – bad attitudes, etc. But that is quite different from knowingly, defiantly and wilfully continuing to engage in and make excuses for known sin.
He said that we cannot make judgments about such people, since we might misjudge them. But to say we can ‘misjudge,’ therefore implying we must not judge at all, is a non sequitur. We are all to judge one another in these areas.
And we are not making a final pronouncement on anyone’s soul and eternal state. Only God can ultimately do that. But Jesus said clearly we will know where people are at by their fruit, and everywhere in the New Testament we are told to judge whether a person is in the faith or not based on two things: the life they lead and the teachings they hold to.
The guy then said: “If we applied the test of complete submission to Lordship for salvation; we would all fail.” Again, this is a bit of a red herring. No, there is no complete or perfect anything on our part – perfect doctrine, perfect obedience, etc. The point is our heart attitude.
Do we agree with God about our sin or not? If we agree and seek to change, even with imperfect obedience, that is altogether different from rank defiance and wilful and continued disobedience. That has been the issue here all along. This issue then is this: we either take God’s side on the sin question or we refuse it.
That is how we are to understand the “homosexual Christian” issue. Are there Christians who have same-sex attractions? Of course. But what they do with them is critical. Do they seek to find deliverance and transformation in Christ, as hard as that might be (and it is hard for any deep-rooted addictive sin, be it heterosexual promiscuity, porn addiction, etc), or do they simply give in and claim that God made them that way and there is nothing wrong with it?
According to the clear teachings of Scripture, the first person may well be a true Christian, while the other person may well not be.