Disclaimer

On Nov 30, 2008, a sermon was preached in our Apex weekend gatherings concerning homosexuality. The sermon and manuscript are available here:

It is highly suggested that you listen to the sermon before you engage with this position paper. The sermon more fully communicates our heart to see the church lovingly and truthfully respond to the issue... not merely take a theological position on it. This position paper is a very short treatment of this subject; aimed especially toward improving areas of HC leadership.

Summary of Apex’s Position

The Scripture is our ultimate objective authority and it is by the Scriptures in which we interpret our world and form our understanding of the self. With that said, we believe that an individual cannot rightly maintain an authoritative view of Scripture while normalizing homosexuality. Homosexuality, as with any other sin, must be fought against at whatever level of temptation such as thoughts, desires, and behavior. This is not to say that the battle is always won and Gospel community is integral in coming along side the struggling individual with prayer, Scripture, encouragement, and accountability. We believe deeply that the Gospel redeems and offers hope to all sinners, including those who minimize Scripture and/or struggle with same-­sex attraction.

A Necessary Confession

We begin by confessing two general areas in which the church has fallen short in providing a God­-honoring position on homosexuality:

  • Lack of communication:­ Homosexuality is a very emotionally and politically charged issue. Perhaps out of fear of cultural reprisal the modern church has resorted to a stance of silence. It is our opinion that the modern church has resorted to silence on not just homosexuality but on sexual immorality as a whole. The scriptures are filled with references to sexual immorality and therefore it is important for the church to communicate the full revelation of scripture and not shrink back from “hard” doctrines or precepts that swim against the current of culture.
  • Poor communication: ­ It is one thing to communicate boldly but that boldness is undermined by communicating badly. Clarity must be a high value in any kingdom communication. We do not want to be accused of mudding the communicative water on such an important theological and cultural issue.

By providing this paper, we hope to be taking a step in the right direction of correcting this communication problem. It is our goal to serve the church, and specifically our HC leaders, by giving them a Biblical framework regarding the issue of homosexuality.

Foundational Biblical Principles

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Gen. 1:27

"Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." Gen. 2:18­-25

In these passages, we see God’s blueprint for relationships (especially marital & sexual relationships). God is Creator. He creates individuals. He creates each as males or females.And He creates them to be unashamedly joined together maritally and sexually.

Therefore, we hold that sexuality and gender identification are not merely political or cultural issues. Rather, they are human issues rooted in the created order.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Gen. 3:1

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Gen. 3:13


In these passages it is clear that the Serpent (Satan) is a deceiver and a liar. He manipulates God’s truth; causes us to disbelieve God’s truth; and then leads us to disobey according to our disbelief.

Therefore, we hold that homosexuality is not ultimately about sexuality. Rather, it is an issue of truth versus deceit. We must ask ourselves ­ Am I thinking the same way that God thinks about it?

Accordingly, we will proceed to identify deceptions from “this world and the enemy regarding homosexuality:

 

Deceptions from the Enemy

1. A relationship cannot be deemed wrong when it exists for each person’s personal benefit. We believe that human beings are made in the image of God and therefore have natural desires for attachment and interdependence with others. Unfortunately, the existence of sin has warped and redefined that attachment and interdependence. Homosexual relationships, though sincere between both (or multiple) parties does not honor God’s original and prevailing intent of heterosexual marriage and the ultimate purpose of displaying the nature of His relationship with the church. We see that all people have a deeper orientation than a specific “homosexual orientation” ­ an orientation toward sin, selfishness, and disbelief of God’s truth. (See above section on a Foundational Biblical Principle)

2. People’s needs and desires can be met better within homosexual relationships than they can within heterosexual relationships. It is not uncommon to see someone who was abused in a heterosexual relationship eventually engage in homosexual relationships. Accordingly, one may logically perceive that he/she can experience a deeper love within homosexual relationships than he/she ever could within heterosexual relationships. In situations like these, it is important to have a Biblical understanding of desires. We like to think that our desires are morally neutral, and that they are not judge-able (i.e., that we are not culpable for them).

"We commonly express this thought through statements like. 'I can't help how I feel.' However, Scripture teaches that even our desires need correction: to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires." Ephesians 4:22

"For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions." Galatians 5:17‐20

Therefore, we hold that an individual’s desires must also be surrendered to the Word of God.

3. Scripture does not clearly condemn homosexuality.

We see that the Scripture clearly and consistently condemns homosexual behavior in both the Old and New Testaments. Please see the following passages:

  1. "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." Lev 18:22; "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them." Leviticus 20:13
     
  2. "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." Romans 1:26‐27
     
  3. "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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corianthians 6:9­-10
  4. "Understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus." 1 Timothy 1:9‐11,14

  5. "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire." Jude 1:7

Since none of the passages above are from the Gospels, we realize that some may wish to suggest that Jesus himself never condemned homosexual behavior. Here we wish to bring to light that Jesus does indeed directly condemn homosexuality.

"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality,envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:21‐23

Homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality and it is condemned by the Lord Jesus himself.

  • But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Mark 10:6‐8 Talking about marriage, Jesus reaffirms the principles of Genesis 1:27:15 as described above.

  • "Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Matthew 19:1­-10

When Jesus talks about the only other option outside of a divorce, he never offers the alternative of homosexuality.

 

Gospel­-Based Hope for Individuals Struggling Through Same-­Sex Attraction

We realize that after reading this position, one may feel hopeless. One may feel that he or she can never be redeemed or used by God if ones struggles with same­-sex attraction. We implore anyone who feels that way to recognize that the gospel of Jesus Christ offers hope for all sinners, without exception. Perhaps the clearest Biblical example of hope for those who struggle with same-­sex attraction is found in the following passage:

1 Corinthians 6:9‐10 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.

If the Scripture stopped there, it would not be hopeful­­but the very next verse is absolutely crucial for declaring the hope of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 6:11 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.

We profess that all of humanity has a predisposition to sin, an orientation towards selfishness, and therefore are culpable because of sin. We profess that our sin makes us enemies of God and objects of his wrath. However, God by his grace took on flesh as the person of Jesus. He then lived the perfectly sinless life that we could never live. Additionally he took on the wrath of God upon Himself on the cross. He died the death that we deserved. He was buried for 3 days and rose again from the grave displaying His power over Satan, demons, death and sin. By placing our faith in Jesus, we too share in his death and resurrection. Therefore, we believe that sinful individuals like us may receive forgiveness and freedom from all types of sin ­ including homosexuality. [1]

As 1 Corinthians 6:11 makes clear, we believe that upon trusting in Jesus for salvation we believe that all sinners are “washed,” “sanctified,” and “justified” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

 

A Word to Apex House Church Leaders on Responding to Homosexuality:

GET RID OF SELF RIGHTEOUSNESS

The Gospel of Mark tells us that it is so easy to look at that speck in someone else's eye, but not notice that big log of an issue in your own. The last thing that the homosexual community needs is more self‐righteous church leaders. We are not righteous in ourselves; we are righteous with the righteousness of Christ. There is no room for pride in the kingdom of God. Christ followers should be the most humble people on the face of the planet.

BECOME BETTER LISTENERS

For some church leaders, the issue of homosexuality is taboo. Many feel so uncomfortable with it that they try to avoid the subject altogether. Some cannot bear speaking about homosexuality; let alone having a conversation with anyone involved in the lifestyle. To make matters worse, if forced to deal with the issue, some may be tempted to use Scripture un-lovingly to “make points and run.” We encourage our HC leaders to be people whose initial response is to listen. We believe this is a step toward showing the love of Christ to hurting sinners.

HELP THEM GROW HOLISTICALLY IN CHRIST, NOT JUST WITHIN THEIR SEXUALITY

For some church leaders, it can be fairly easy to focus on correcting sin struggles. It can become comfortable to discuss same sex­ attraction with a struggling individual while not really diving into the rest of their lives. Because we want to become leaders who genuinely care for all people, we encourage our HC leaders to help all individuals grow holistically, not just within the area of sexuality.

BATTLE WITH THEM AND FOR THEM IN PRAYER

It is God who changes people. Therefore, we believe that prayer to God is the key for freedom and deliverance from the struggles of sin. Accordingly, it is absolutely essential that we become HC leaders who pray with and for people, asking the Spirit of God to transform our lives.

MAINTAIN A LONG­TERM VIEW

Do not belittle an individual’s battle with homosexual desires at the expense of your own battle with another type of temptation. The struggle with homosexuality is tied to the base relational and sexual desires of a human being. Any type of counsel that communicates “just get over it” is insensitive at best, ungodly at worst. A brother or sister who struggles with homosexual desires may experience immediate freedom or may be sanctified through it for the rest of his or her life. It is important for the house church family to be willing to come alongside that brother or sister for the long haul as they pursue Christ and if necessary, life long celibacy.

[1] “Since this paragraph articulates the core of the gospel of Christ, it draws from literally dozens of Scriptures, making citation cumbersome. If any of these statements raises doubts or questions, or if you feel it needs special citation, please do not hesitate to bring it to an elder’s attention.”