Thursday, July 30, 2015

Is Homosexuality a Sin? Resources to Help You Better Understand the Issue(s)...

At Grace Church, all are welcome to come and discover Jesus with us, to worship with us, to find community with us, and to explore what God’s Word has to say. So, as a church set and centered on unifying on the historic Christian faith and welcoming all to come, including those with different perspectives on homosexual relationships and gender issues, it's imperative that we grow in our understanding of this ongoing discussions and debates.

The topics of human sexuality and gender aren't as simple as some people think or claim. And though the Bible lists many sexual activities as clearly wrong, there are many genuine Christians who are making a case that monogamous and committed ("marital') homosexual relationships are not forbidden in the Scriptures. Their claim is that the Bible passages referring to homosexuality are referring to other sexual pervasions (e.g., multiple partners, practicing bi-sexiality, rape, prostitution, the ancient practice of pederasty, etc.) or they claim the passages referring to homosexuality in the Old Testament's holiness code (Leviticus chapters 17-27) do not apply to New Testament Christianity (see Acts 21:25). 

Here are the Bible passages concerning homosexuality: 
  • two references to homosexual rape -- Genesis 19:5, Judges 19:22
  • three references to intercourse between men -- Leviticus 18:21-22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:27
  • one reference to intercourse between women -- Romans 1:26
  • one seems to be a reference of male prostitution and/or pederasty -- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (this could be argued to refer to homosexuality in a general sense)
  • and one seems to be general -- 1 Timothy 1:8-10.

At our church, we have brothers and sisters on both sides of this interpretive dispute. And though we may not all agree, we are, nonetheless, committed to the process of discovering and exploring God’s Word together, even if it means, from time to time, that we will respectively agree to disagree. If we center ourselves on what has always unified the church, Christ and him crucified, there will always be a sense of mutual edification and community with one another.

To better help inform you about how Grace Church is pursuing this debated topic, be sure to listen to What is Grace Church's Stance Toward LGBT Christians? and a recent sermon entitled, Jesus + The Centurion

Additionally, here are helpful resources from some Christian leaders and teachers on the whole subject of homosexuality, LGBT, and the church...

"Traditional Interpretation" - Resources making a biblical case for all homosexual behavior being sinful and, therefore, not God's best for humanity:

"Non-Traditional Interpretation" - Resources making a biblical case for monogamous and committed homosexual unions:

Also, here's an example of Christians disagreeing on what the Bible says concerning this issue yet, nonetheless, remaining committed to pursuing Christ-centered unity together as they continue to dialog and seek truth: 
One other book, which is worth your attention, doesn't really fall under either of the categories listed above and is probably the closest to my own personal approach to the issue(s). It's called People to be Loved by Preston Sprinkle. Definitely worth checking out.

Additionally, Preston did a two part review of Ken Wilson's book, A Letter to my Congregation, and, in my opinion, handles some of Wilson's errors and highlights moms of his strengths quite well. You can read them here:
Lastly, Preston also wrote a two part review on Kevin DeYoung's, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? You can read them here:

Personal note from Pastor Heath: 
If you are wondering where I (Heath) land on the issue, after much reading, after many conversations with gay, straight, bi-sexual and transgender individuals, after much consideration and prayer, I still think, despite the sexual propensities of some, all forms of homosexual relations are not God's best for humanity. And though I'm quick to agree with those who recognize the interpretive possibilities of passage such as Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:8-10 (and others), the overarching paradigm for sexuality set forth in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 of the complementary male and female marital unions and sexual relations, and then seeing this paradigm running throughout both Old and New Testaments, seems, for me, to be a hard argument to beat. I say this knowing that it is contentious to some and possibly hurtful to others; but that is not my intention. I am not a homophobic bigot. I will never shun or shame a brother or sister who has differing view on this issue. I'm open to change my views if convinced by Scripture. And, furthermore, I will never shun or shame a friend who comes out as gay or bisexual or becomes transgender. These are complicated and sensitive matters. We need to meet each other with love and forbearance. Assumptions and traditions need to be challenged by the Word of God. And we need to maintain a sincere desire to learn and grow together. Let's keep going!


  1. Thank you for such a thoughtful post. It's clear you have done your research. One thing I wasn't clear on in this response is how you handle this within the church. I fully agree that someone who isn't a professing Christian shouldn't be shamed or shunned. What I struggle with however is how to deal with the scriptures pertaining to church discipline when it comes to someone who professes to be a Christian but according to your interpretation of the Bible is living a public life of sin? Also, how this is handled for someone who wants to be in a place of leadership vs an attendee?

    1. Great questions.

      Church disciple is always a sketchy subject and concept for me. And I think what many churches call church discipline is not what Paul had in mind when writing 1 Corinthians 5. Furthermore, from my perspective and experience, churches that practice church disciple are radically inconsistent. Discipline usually occurs when something is done that contradicts that church's particular and heavily nuanced morality. Basically, it’s exercised only when their type of Christianity is violated. When do you ever see church discipline exercised upon the unrepentant gossiper or the glutton or upon the one regularly acting jealous or selfish? And I know the answer...if we did exercise discipline for these things the church would be empty! We Christians like to justify the sins that make our life normal and comfortable. We have a slew of accepted sins. But we will crucify those who commit the sins we despise. So church discipline is a tough one for me. We simply welcome all to come to Grace Church and learn to how to be disciple with us. For us, we know that won’t always look the same and we’re OK with that. The body of Christ is very broad and beautifully diverse. We want to make room for that a Grace Church.

      But…would we ever ask someone to leave and/or not attend our Gatherings? I have to say, “yes” and we have. Someone who is continually disruptive, divisive, etc. or a verifiable physical risk to our members (especially when it comes to our kids) the person will be asked to leave. But this goes for anyone, regardless of their sexual orientation.

      As far as leadership goes, I honestly have no idea how to answer that at this point because this is something our elders haven’t discussed. With me having a view and understanding that all forms of homosexuality does not fit into the paradigm of God’s will for humanity, as laid out in the Scriptures, it’s hard to imagine a leader wanting to serve along side me with an opposing view. But then again, we already have leaders serving together that have different view/interpretation of texts discussing eschatology, alcohol consumption, women in church leadership, sacraments, etc. Sorry for the lack of answer. These are still uncharted waters for us as a church. But we are getting there.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Enlightening perspective. Wish more churches were simultaneously willing to equip and question.

    Here's a resource I have found helpful:
    Love is an Orientation