Tag Archives: homosexuality

Still Time to Care: Moving from Cure to Care for Those with Unwanted Same-Sex Attraction

When did Christians move from an ethic of care to an ethic of cure of unwanted, same-sex attraction persons? And what can Christians do to move back towards an ethic of care?

These are the central questions addressed in pastor Greg Johnson’s Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church’s Failed Attempt to Cure HomosexualityBefore the aftermath of the sexual revolution of the 1960s, talk about “homosexuality” was largely a taboo subject. But in Johnson’s book, he chronicles numerous anecdotes of Christian leaders caring for persons who experience unwanted, same-sex attraction, in those years.

 

How Christians A Few Decades Ago Cared For Same-Sex Attracted Persons

One of C.S. Lewis’ childhood friends, Arthur Greeves, would have then probably classified himself as a “homosexual.” Lewis, perhaps the most well-known English speaking Christian apologist of all time, greatly treasured his friendship with Greeves, above all others. When Lewis became a believer in Jesus, Lewis first entrusted his story of conversion to Christianity with Greeves. Even though Lewis fully supported the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, and Greeves never experienced a change in his sexual orientation, Lewis never wavered in his friendship with Arthur Greeves.

When Francis Schaeffer first entertained guests at L’Abri in the 1950s, many seekers of truth who struggled with unwanted same-sex attraction were welcomed at the famous Swiss Christian study center. Schaeffer’s focus was on engaging seekers with their larger faith questions, as opposed to singling out issues regarding sexuality. When a high-profile member of President Lyndon Johnson’s administration was outed out of the closet as being a homosexual, Reverend Billy Graham urged Johnson to have compassion on the man as a human being, as opposed to categorically rejecting him out of condemnation.

These are all examples that author Greg Johnson has in his book of Christian leaders, who while upholding the biblical teaching that reserves marriage as being between one man and one woman for one lifetime, nevertheless modeled how other Christians can serve others by choosing to care for those who experience unwanted same-sex attraction.

This all seemed to change by the late 1970s, when such efforts to care for others were replaced by efforts to cure homosexuality, by offering the promise to make homosexuals into becoming heterosexual.  The so-called “Ex-Gay” movement was born.

 

How the “Ex-Gay” Movement Changed the Popular Narrative for Christians… and How It Eventually Failed

At the head of the “Ex-Gay” movement was Exodus International, an umbrella organization encompassing many smaller ministries that sent the message that “change is possible,” suggesting that certain techniques could be followed that could change someone’s sexual orientation. Exodus International was dissolved in 2013, when its then president, Alan Chambers, publicly stated that Exodus had oversold its claim that “change is possible.”

What led to the rise and then ultimate fall of Exodus International? As the story unfolds in Still Time to Care, groups like Exodus International were using reparative therapy (what others call conversion therapy) to try to change someone’s sexual orientation. Reparative therapy is based on a controversial application of Freudian psychology, based on the assumption that homosexuality is a correctable mental health ailment. In 2012 however, Chambers had declared, after years of Exodus trying to use reparative therapy, that “the majority of people that I have met, and I would say the majority meaning 99.9% of them, have not experienced a change in their orientation.” Popular media outlets, like with Netflix’ 2021 documentary Pray Away, features interviews with other former Exodus leaders coming to the same conclusion as Chambers (Unfamiliar with the documentary? Preston Sprinkle interviews Tony Scarcello about it on YouTube).

Author Greg Johnson uses the analogy of a “Potemkin Village” to describe what Exodus had tried and failed to achieve. In 1787, Grigory Potemkin was a provincial political authority in Crimea and a love interest in the Russian Empress, Catherine the Great. When Catherine the Great toured Crimea via boat along the Dnieper River, Potemkin sought to impress the Empress by dressing up peasants as wealthy merchants and setting up temporary village facades alongside the riverbanks, giving the illusion that the area was experiencing prosperity, despite the actual desperate poverty of the region. Once Catherine’s entourage left one of these temporary villages, Potemkin had his hired peasants breakdown the village facades and move them down the river ahead of Catherine, and then reassemble the same village in another location, in an effort to continue to impress Catherine as she resumed her river tour.

Exodus International, collaborating with other ministries like James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, had for years paraded individuals at fund-raising events and conferences as examples of those whose orientation had changed from gay to straight. In many if not most of these cases, those same individuals would later renounce their “conversions” as yet mere facades, repeated examples of a Potemkin Village. Tragically, Johnson also documents other former Exodus leaders who committed suicide, to further hide the shame of such facade conversions to heterosexuality.

The meteoric rise and fall of many Exodus leaders and the rebound effect throughout the larger culture has been nothing short of spectacular, particularly over the last decade. For example, when President Obama first took office in 2009, he was publicly committed to honoring traditional marriage as being between one man and one woman. But by the end of Obama’s second term, the broader cultural views about marriage had dramatically shifted, along with the President’s. Prohibitions against same-sex marriage, at the federal level, were declared unconstitutional. The language of “LGBTQ” was no longer a taboo in polite, civil conversation, becoming an accepted dimension of post-modern culture. All of this happened during those waning years of Exodus International’s dissolution.

Estimates vary, but Johnson notes that about 700,000 persons over a near 50 year period went through some sort of reparative therapy. Various studies over that period indicate that despite recorded claims of high-success rates, the actual success rate for changing one’s sexual orientation has been extremely low, perhaps as low as 2%. That means that some 98% of those 700,000 persons have walked away from reparative therapy with an extremely disillusioned, if not outright angry attitude towards the “Ex-Gay” movement.

 

Changing the Emphasis From “Becoming Heterosexual” to “Becoming Holy”

Pastor Greg Johnson laments the once well-intended yet ultimate failure of reparative therapy organizations. But he is hopeful that Christians can and are returning to an ethic of care, as opposed to an ethic of cure. The goal for ministry with those who experience unwanted sexual attraction should not be to try to “pray the gay away,” and convert someone from being a homosexual to becoming heterosexual. Rather, the emphasis should be on becoming holy.

What makes Still Time to Care so invaluable a resource is that pastor Greg Johnson himself is one of those persons who experiences unwanted same-sex attraction. However, instead of following the cultural trend affirming same-sex marriage, Johnson still believes in the traditional, Christian sexual ethic of marriage being between a man and a woman, for a lifetime. For those like Johnson, this might mean a life of celibacy, surrounded by supportive friends. For others, it might mean living in a mixed-orientation marriage, where one spouse is heterosexual and the other is not.

Johnson believes that even those like himself can flourish as Christians and human beings, while seeking to mortify the flesh against the spiritually devastating effects of sin, and by resisting temptation. However, the key to doing this is by being apart of Christian communities that offer emotional and spiritual support along that journey towards sanctification and holiness. In other words, one can live without sex but you can not live without friends.

While many churches wrestle with the wider cultural trends to affirm same-sex marriage, and entire denominations are splitting over the issue, Still Time to Care offers a vision for historically, orthodox Christians to return to an ethic of care, inviting people to share their stories and be a part of authentic Christian community.

Greg Johnson’s Still Time to Care offers a history of how the “Ex-Gay” movement created a Potemkin Village for almost 50 years, a great facade to look at, but not much really behind it.

Sadly, too many Christians still get hung up over terminology. Granted, most sensitive thinkers tend to shy away from terminology like “homosexual,” as that term sounds too clinical and impersonal. However, when it comes to historically orthodox-minded believers in the midst of the struggle, should such persons be called “celibate gay Christians,” “single gay Christians,” or “Christians who experience same-sex attraction?”

There are some who argue that any of the above language is somehow still a concession to worldliness, and therefore inappropriate for Christians to use about themselves. Thankfully, there are newer Christian ministries, like Revoice, that are trying to help Christians move past such debates over terminology and towards providing supportive communities for believers at all stages along the journey. Greg Johnson’s message is hopeful: Yes, there is still time to care!

 

Moving From a “Sexual Prosperity Gospel” to a Gospel of Care

Lest someone think that books like Still Time to Care represent some type of “trojan horse,” a harmful ideology being injected subversively into the church, one should note that Greg Johnson includes a whole chapter carefully dismantling the revisionist arguments presented by those like Western Seminary’s James Brownson, in his Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships, and Karen Keen’s Scripture, Ethics, and the Possibility of Same-Sex Relationships. For example, Brownson borrows from William Webb’s “redemptive-movement hermeneutic” argument to make his case for same-sex marriage. Keen states in her book “The biblical authors don’t write about the morality of consensual same-sex relationships as we know them today…. To say that the biblical authors object to prostitution or pederasty is not to say that the authors object to monogamous, covenanted relationships.”  Sadly, a wide range of evangelicals, including former Christianity Today editor David Neff, author Tony Campolo, the late Rachel Held Evans, and MOPS speaker Jen Hatmaker have embraced such revisionist arguments, thus undermining an historically orthodox sexual ethic. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book.  (See this short essay by Johnson summarizing his critique of this form of revisionism).

Christians, who desire to uphold the historic Scriptural teaching on marriage, may still find themselves at a loss in terms of how to care for persons, experiencing such sexual attractions, who either embrace revisionist views on Christian marriage, or who reject Christianity outright. The old Christian adage of “loving the sinner, and yet hating the sin,” can ring very hollow in the ears of those disillusioned by the unthoughtful efforts of Christians to try to change them. However, one can still have a positive relationship with someone else, even if there is no agreement on the definition of marriage. Learning to care about others does not necessarily entail having perfect agreement on these matters. Rather, caring does require learning how to listen to others, and empathizing with their story.

Is change still possible, for altering someone’s same-sex orientation? I would not want to preclude the idea that God performs miracles (I believe God does), but we must very careful here: My conclusion from reading Still Time to Care is that yes, it might be possible, but not likely. That might sound pessimistic, but it is better to be realistic than misleading people with a false hope, however well-intentioned it is. We can not try to “force God’s hand” to do something which does not appear to be within his sovereign plan and purpose. Furthermore, even if some do claim a radical transformation, in terms of sexual orientation change, it is wholly inappropriate to promise that everyone will have such an experience.

Just as the “prosperity gospel” offers a false hope that any and everyone who follows Jesus will have the best health, the best career, the best automobile, and the best marriage, and so on, so it is with a “sexual prosperity gospel” associated with the “Ex-Gay” movement, that promises that following some religious formula will automatically lead to a sexual orientation change. An inappropriate emphasis on seeking after such change can be a setup for future failure, in a person’s walk with Jesus.

Though some still cling to the optimistic aspirations of the “Ex-Gay” movement, focusing on sexual orientation change, like Andrew Comiskey’s Desert Stream Ministries, Andrew Rodriguez’ PyschoBible, and Stephen Black’s First Stone Ministries, and others affiliated with the Restored Hope Network, the personal failures left in the wake of Exodus International’s demise have left a negative taste in the mouth of thousands and thousands of people, a tragic situation which is difficult to ignore. Admittedly, even those in the Restored Hope Network are shying away from reparative therapy these days, while still pursuing other possible avenues for change. The sad tales that Still Time to Care documents continues to serve as warnings for us all.

On the other hand, efforts like pastor Greg Johnson to promote care, as opposed to cure, are welcomed by those disillusioned with the “Ex-Gay” movement. A renewed emphasis on listening, community, and encouraging friendships is deeply needed, particularly as hostility towards historically orthodox Christians views on marriage increase in our culture. We need a new generation of C.S. Lewis’, Francis Schaeffer’s, and Billy Graham’s who can demonstrate what it really means to care for others in the name of Jesus.

Look here for more information about Greg Johnson’s book, Still Time to Care. I listened to the audio version of the book, but  the print and Kindle versions of the book should be released in December, 2021.

For more posts on this topic, please consider the following blog entries at Veracity:

Looking for more help if you struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction, or if someone you love has that struggle?

  • The Revoice Conference. Sponsors an annual conference where fellow Christians, who experience same-sex attraction, but who want to uphold the historic Christian ethic can find support.
  • The Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender. Directed by author and theologian Preston Sprinkle, the Center provides valuable resources for parents, individuals and churches, in the areas of sexuality and gender identity, with endorsements from trusted authors and leaders like Jackie Hill Perry, Matt Chandler, Francis Chan, and Karen Swallow Prior.

Is the Word “Homosexual” in the Bible?

October 11, in a number of circles, is known as “National Coming Out Day.” Many Christians are confused, as to how to engage with others about this. A good place to start is to consider the following question: Is the word “homosexual” in the Bible? Well, the answer is “yes” and “no,” and the reason for this is really, super important.

Merriam-Webster actually lists two different definitions for the word “homosexual,” which could be an adjective or a noun:

1: of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex: GAY// homosexual man, was involved in a homosexual relationship
2: of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between persons of the same sex // homosexual acts

Those two definitions can be overlapping, but technically, they are not the same.

Actually, this distinction is profound, having a major ramification on how Christians can best love their neighbor with the Gospel.

How do we go about having helpful conversations about “LGBTQ” questions, in evangelical, Bible-believing churches, who desire to hold to a traditional view of marriage, while trying to figure out how to better love others? Perhaps we should start by talking about what IS and what is NOT in the Bible. (credit: Christianity Today).

Now, before I jump in any further, it bears emphasizing that when it comes to the topic of homosexuality, we are not simply quibbling over the meaning of words. Ultimately, we are talking about real people, with real lives, with real stories, that need to be heard. Yet part of hearing those stories about real people includes understanding what people mean when they use certain words. So, it really becomes important that we do not front load incorrect thoughts into our minds when we let people tell their stories, when they use certain words.

That being said, let us dig deeper into this….

On the Meaning of the Word “Homosexual,” and How it is Used in the Bible

In that Merriam Webster definition, they go onto say that the word homosexual entered the English vocabulary, in about 1891, in the sense of definition number 1. Definition number 1 refers to what we might call “same-sex attraction” today. It did not specifically mean someone who acted on their same-sex attraction, in the sense of actually being sexually active with another person of the same sex, which is the second sense of the word. However, it could mean that. But it does not necessarily imply definition number 2.

That definition number 2, or the second sense of the word, came later in English usage, eventually carrying the sense of embracing a particular identity, being actively involved in some type of sexual relationship. In other words, it is more than just “same-sex attraction.” It means acting upon that attraction, in terms of behavior. Today, the meaning has expanded, assuming that sexual activity with someone of the same sex is within a morally justifiable category.

Furthermore, definition number 1 could mean actively engaging in lustful fantasy, for another person of the same-sex. But it does not necessarily mean that.

Think about the alternative word, heterosexual, that appeared in the English language, at the same time homosexual did. Do heterosexuals engage in lustful fantasies, for members of the opposite sex? Sometimes, yes. But not 24×7.

In the language of modern psychology, someone is a heterosexual, even if they are sound asleep, or mentally absorbed in a baseball game. To be heterosexual does not implicitly mean that such a person is always acting on their opposite-sex attraction, in the sense of having a sexual relationship, or lusting after someone.

Likewise, the word homosexual, as in definition number 1, generally refers to having a “same-sex attraction,” but it does not require the idea of actually acting upon that desire, whether that be physically, or just mentally. In other words, a homosexual has a “same-sex attraction,” 24×7, everyday of the week, but they do not always act on that attraction, either physically or mentally.

The lateness of the word entering the English vocabulary explains why the King James Version of the Bible, translated in 1611, does not have the word homosexual, in its text. Following on from a previous post on this topic, let us consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankindNor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV)

All of the moral categories that the Apostle Pauls mentions, such as fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, etc., all refer to repeated, unrepentant patterns of sinful human behavior. These are not mere inclinations, dispositions, or orientations, that suggest some potential or possibility of sinning, brought on by situations where such temptations arise. We all have these, to varying degrees. Rather, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul has in mind those sinful, unrepentant patterns of human activity that are unbecoming of truly committed followers of Jesus Christ.

The highlighted phrase above, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind , goes back to two interesting Greek words, malakoi, which the KJV takes to be “effeminate,” or the one who is the passive partner in a same-sex, male sexual relationship, and arsenokoitai, which the KJV renders as “abusers of themselves with mankind,” or a man who beds with another man. Technically, malakoi means “soft,” by itself, but it was also used in the Greek language in the same-sex partnered sense, in the manner that the KJV most probably alludes to.

 

People To Be Loved: Why Homosexuality is Not Just an Issue, by Preston Sprinkle. I highly recommend this book for those who wrestle with same-sex attraction themselves, or who have loved ones who wrestle with such questions.

Digging Into Bible Translations, About “Homosexuality”

The point here is that the Apostle Paul is designating an actively engaged upon sexual activity, with respect to homosexuality. In the words of the Apostle Paul, in the Bible, there is no strict parallel to “same-sex attraction,” as a type of orientation, inclination, or internal disposition, which originally led to the coining of the word homosexual, in the late 19th century, by the psychologists of the day.

This distinction is vitally important, in how we read Scripture. Simply put, this non-behavioral sense of homosexuality, commonly described today as having a “same-sex attraction,” has no direct correlation to any particular word that we can find in the Bible. In other words, Paul’s teaching here in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which is reflective of other related passages of Scripture, refers to a behavior, not an orientation or inclination.

Some might find the notion of homosexuality, as an orientation or inclination to be objectionable, as it is not found in the Bible. Such critics contend that this psychological category of “same-sex attraction,” should be rejected by Christians, as a result.

But we have terms that Christians use all of the time, that do not find a direct correlation in Scripture. Take just one example, where we use the word “Trinity” to describe the nature of the Godhead, “one God in three persons.” Few Christians realize that the term “Trinity,never appears in the Bible. Nevertheless, describing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as distinct persons within the singular Godhead is an incredibly significant theological concept, that most Christians take for granted.

You can do tons of research on the concepts of same-sex attraction or same-sex relations in the Bible yourself, to verify, but technically, there is no mention of homosexual in the Bible, as it was originally introduced into the English vocabulary.

Nevertheless, the meaning of words changes over time. What typically happens in this situation, a confusion of terminology often results. When the translators of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible sought to update the language of the KJV, in 1946, the old KJV phrase “nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind ,” was replaced with the word, “homosexual.”

That Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible essentially became the “de facto” accepted translation of the Bible, used throughout hundreds of English-speaking, Protestant mainline churches, during the 1950s and 1960s. As a result, the confused use of the word homosexual became ingrained in the minds of many, among multiple generations of Bible readers.

Critics of a traditional Christian view of marriage, as being between a man and a woman, contend (rightly) that the word homosexual was therefore never originally in the Bible.

But the conclusion that is often drawn from this goes beyond what the meaning of the Scriptural text can bear. Therefore, such critics argue, the traditional Christian sexual ethic was and is too restrictive, implying that sexual relations between members of the same-sex, should be allowed to be morally permissible, among followers of Jesus. But this oversimplified approach to the Bible is highly misleading, and ignores a more complex, albeit intricate story.

The RSV was later updated to read as:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.(RSV)

This substituted the previous 1946 RSV translation of homosexual(s) with sexual perverts, in the 1970s update to the RSV. But the trend towards using the word homosexual, in a more explicitly behavioral manner, was underway.

When we get to The Living Bible, in 1971, we see the word appear again:

Don’t you know that those doing such things have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who live immoral lives, who are idol worshipers, adulterers or homosexuals—will have no share in his Kingdom. Neither will thieves or greedy people, drunkards, slanderers, or robbers.(TLB)

The popular New International Version (NIV) of the Bible, in 1984, sought to be a bit more accurate here, but still comes up short:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.(NIV 1984)

Rendering the phrase as homosexual offenders (prepended with male prostitutes) was an improvement over what the RSV did in the late 1940s. By describing such homosexuals as offenders, it implied that some distinction could be made between homosexuality as an orientation, and homosexuality as a repeated, unrepentant form of behavior. But it was still confusing for some readers.

Here is the difficulty: Is the offense actually limited to being a type of sinful behavior? Or is it possibly that possessing a same-sex attraction, not acted upon, is nevertheless, still a type of offense before God?

Let us frame the difficulty this way: Is a celibate homosexual still a type of offender before God? Is such a homosexual, … who day after day seeks to mortify the flesh, and say “NO” to such sexual temptation, who resists putting themselves in situations that might cause them to give into temptation, … still, somehow, nevertheless, continues to exist as an offender, … a mere stench in God’s nostrils?

The ambiguity of the NIV 1984 translation is wholly intolerable today, in an age when same-sex relations and same-sex marriage in particular, occupy a large percentage of the public, cultural conversation.

Thankfully, when the NIV translators worked on the most recent update, in 2011, they made the distinction much clearer, and more precise, in terms specifying that the Apostle Paul had an activity, or behavior, in mind:

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 mennor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.(NIV 2011)

The English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, as of the last update in 2016, renders these verses like this:

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. (ESV 2016)

Here the ESV more accurately associates homosexuality with its practice, not with the mere presence of a disposition or orientation, thus showing that Paul had a behavior in mind, in this passage. Both the NIV 2011 and ESV have the following footnote, regarding this phrase in the Bible:

The two Greek terms translated by this phrase refer to the passive and active partners in consensual homosexual acts.

The 2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB), likewise, is very careful:

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males, no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom (CSB 2017)

 

How You Read Your Bible Translation Matters

Why bother with parsing through these various translations so carefully?

Because it makes a difference. Three points are in order:

First, as briefly noted above, it demonstrates that the Apostle Paul had behaviors in mind, patterns of repeated, sinful activity, that are not becoming of a disciple of Jesus Christ. With respect to homosexuality, this follows the same pattern as idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy people, etc.

Despite the great debate today going on in the wider culture, this has been the historic teaching of the Christian church for 2,000 years. Attempts by those to revise or dispose of a traditional sexual ethic, regarding God’s intent and purpose for marriage, by allowing for active, same-sex relations, whether that be in a “same-sex marriage,” or otherwise, have a serious obstacle in dealing with the Apostle Paul, in the New Testament.

Secondly, traditionally minded Christians need to rethink the importance of making a subtle, yet ultimately highly significant differentiation between homosexuality as a behavior (including lust), and homosexuality as an inward disposition or orientation of some sort, that is not necessarily acted upon.

Thirdly, it is important to drill down on the difference between homosexuality as a disposition or orientation, and homosexuality as lust. The two are not identical. This may sound controversial, but it need not be.

Think of it as the difference between noticing an attractive member of the opposite sex, for a heterosexual, and actually lusting after that person. The latter is the sin. The former is not sinful, for if it were, then it would be a sin for a man to compliment a woman on the nice dress she is wearing. Even more absurd, it would be like a mother complimenting her son on how handsome he looks, and then somehow treating even that as sin. Confusing noticing an attractive person, together with actual lust, creates a rather absurd view of sin.

Likewise, for a homosexual, noticing an attractive member of the same sex, is not the same as actually lusting after that person. True, having a homosexual orientation is an indicator that something is not right, a consequence of the Fall of humanity. But the same-sex orientation is no more sinful than for a single, heterosexual person, who notices an attractive member of the opposite sex, or a married, heterosexual person, who notices an attractive member of the opposite sex, who is not their spouse.

I am not aware of any contemporary, modern English translation that fails to provide some linguistic framework, for making a distinction between homosexuality as a behavior, and homosexuality as disposition or orientation.

Questions about sexuality and gender are the most theologically provocative issues of our day, just as the very nature of the Triune Godhead threatened to split the Christian church, in the great controversies over Jesus’ divinity and humanity, in the 4th through 5th centuries of the Christian movement.

So, on “National Coming Out Day,” having conversations about what the Bible does NOT say, and what the Bible actually DOES say, is really important. With all of the talk today in 2019 about Christians in “hate groups,” reparative therapy, and the like, it would behoove Christians to take a closer look at how Bible translations, over the years, have created confusion. Thankfully, most modern Bible translations are more accurate these days. Christians who love their Bible, and who seek to love others, as Christ loves us, would do well to follow their Bibles in guiding how they carefully think about this most sensitive and difficult topic.

For more information of this topic, I highly recommend Preston Sprinkle’s People To Be Loved. For other posts on this topic see “Is the Temptation to Sin, Itself a Sin?,” “Single, Gay and Christian: A Review of the Book and Its Criticism,” “What Was the Sin of Sodom? (Taking a Closer Look),” “Statements: What Does Nashville Have to Do With Chicago?,” and “Such Were Some of You: The Language of Christian Identity.


What Was the Sin of Sodom?… (Taking A Closer Look)

Colorado cake artist, Jack Phillips, who recently won a Supreme Court case, in a United States freedom of religion case, that opponents say legitimizes discrimination against gay persons. (credit: Sam Brasch, Colorado Public Radio)

To bake the cake, or not bake the wedding cake?

Nothing gets a group of Christians animated like the topic of same-sex marriage. Go ahead. Try it. The next time you are in a Bible study, or share a meal with believers, just mention “same-sex marriage.” I guarantee you that for the next twenty minutes, the conversation will be anything but boring.

Ever since the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, that legalized same-sex marriage, many Christians have besieged themselves with questions as to how to reach gay and lesbian people, while still affirming the Bible’s teaching that God created marriage between only a man and a woman.

Some say that Christians have focused too much on the issue of same-sex marriage. Others are concerned that the church is gradually capitulating to the culture, in accommodating “the sin of Sodom.”  A recent Pew survey even suggests that among younger evangelicals, there is an increased acceptance of gay marriage, at least in terms of its legality, in the wider culture, if not also, in the church.

Many say that the church needs to “preach the Word.” Specifically, we should preach against “the sin of Sodom.” Every Christian should surely agree with that.

However, the problem is that we often fail to understand what “the sin of Sodom” really is. Is “the sin of Sodom” gay marriage? Would this include a society’s increased acceptance of gay marriage as normal? What really is “the sin of Sodom?”

Let us take a closer look at the biblical text, and see if the common, traditional understanding of “the sin of Sodom” actually matches what the Bible teaches. Continue reading


Rosaria Butterfield – Hospitality and the Unlikely Convert

Rosaria Butterfield - An unlikely convert to Christian faith, touched by the art of hospitality.

Rosaria Butterfield – An unlikely convert to Christian faith, touched by the art of hospitality.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past fifteen years, you probably know that American public opinion has been shifting dramatically within the past few years to support same-sex marriage.

Given the current cultural trajectory, many observers remark that it is inevitable that gay and lesbian marriages will become widely accepted, at least legally, across large sections of America. Many critics of a traditional reading of Scripture regarding homosexuality argue that  finally “the train has left the station” regarding same-sex marriage. Many would say that Evangelical Christians should join in and affirm the trend as a matter of promoting civil rights, as was the case with racial issues in the 1950’s and 1960’s. How does someone who holds to a high view of the authority of Scripture respond to these challenges in a Christ-like way?

Enter in Rosario Butterfield. She was a lesbian professor at Syracuse University, who was for years convinced that Christians publicly supporting an exclusive approach to traditional marriage were a threat to democracy and human rights.  She was an activist who was horrified by what she saw as “homophobia” and worked aggressively to try to stamp it out. But something unlikely happened along the way.
Continue reading


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