Category Archives: Homosexuality

No, Homosexuality is Not Just an "Ethical Issue"

Yes this is another post on homosexuality. Believe me I’d rather talk about something else too. I don’t relish the thought of people thinking I’m a nasty conservative. I don’t like the idea of being labeled homophobic. I’d rather spend time encouraging courageous brothers and sisters who battle to overcome their same-gender attraction. And frankly, I’d rather talk about something other than sex.

But every generation in the church has some parcel of truth to defend and this is the plot for the present generation. It sounds nicer to be argue about the doctrine of Scripture or original sin or something less intensely personal. But then again I’m sure those controversies would be no fun either (and probably need to dealt with in our time too!).

So whether we like it or not the controversy over homosexuality is here to stay. Especially in the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Especially as long as my denomination continues to hesitate between two opinions.

A Tempest in the Twin CitiesAs most everyone knows by now the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voting last month in Minneapolis, approved a resolution allowing gays and lesbians in “life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships” to be ordained. The United Church of Christ (UCC) has gone down this road already. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has flirted with the idea. The official, though not undisputed, position of the RCA is that homosexual behavior is sinful and marriage is between one …

Also posted in RCA | | 28 Comments

A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 4)

This is part 4 of 4 from my sermon on Leviticus 18. For the introduction to the series where I talk about homosexuality and the Reformed Church in America go here. Part one talked about other kinds of sexual sin. Part two talked about homosexuality. Part three explained why we ought to follow God’s rules.

*****

How should we engage others with these rules in our day?I know you’ve had enough lists for one day, but let me conclude by quickly giving you a few suggestions for how to engage others with biblical sexual ethics.

First, we need courage. We need courage to say that unchecked, unrepentant sexual immorality cannot be tolerated in the church. We need courage in our churches and denominations to affirm clearly, not just on paper, but in our preaching and actions, that unchecked, unrepentant sexual immorality is to be lovingly rebuked, not celebrated. The peace-loving, conflict-avoiding, middle of the roaders need to courage to stand on God’s word and not compromise for fear of being thought mean, narrow, majoring on the minors, a distraction, or arrogantly self-assured. Young people especially need courage to stick out like sore thumb in their schools and teams and winsomely defend the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman for a lifetime.

Second, we need humility. We need to check our own hearts to make sure our courage does not become hostility, and our love for the word of God does …

Also posted in RCA, Sermon | | 2 Comments

A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 3)

This is part 3 of 4 from my sermon on Leviticus 18. For the introduction to the series where I talk about homosexuality and the Reformed Church in America go here. Part one talked about other kinds of sexual sin. Part two talked about homosexuality.

*****

Why does God ask us to follow these rules?There are all sorts of reasons why God gives us commands and we ought to obey. Let me just highlight three reasons from this chapter.

First, the Lord is holy. Six times in this chapter 18 God says “I am the Lord” or “I am the Lord your God.” The point is “You belong to me. I delivered you. I chose you. I promised to bless you. I am your God. You are my people. So you ought to live by my rules. You ought to be holy because I am holy.”

How you live as a Christian matters a lot to God because you are meant to be a reflection of the God who saved you. You are not your own. The purpose of your life is not your fulfillment, nor your self-expression, nor your sexuality. The point of your life is make much of God by bearing witness to Jesus Christ and by being as much like him as you can.

God’s glory is at stake with your sexuality. The hallowing of God’s name is at stake in our …

Also posted in RCA, Sermon | | 1 Comment

A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 2)

This is part 2 of 4 from my sermon on Leviticus 18. For the introduction to the series where I talk about homosexuality and the Reformed Church in America go here. Part one talked about other kinds of sexual sin.

*****

Sixth, God prohibits homosexual activity (22). We need to spend more time on this one. Sometimes evangelical Christians get criticized for spending so much time talking about homosexuality. “Why don’t you talk about divorce or greed or gossip? Why are you always harping on this sin like it is worse than all the others.” Well, I talk about those sins when they are in the text. But homosexuality is in this text. And besides, the reason we have to talk about this sin in particular is because there are lots of professing Christians, not to mention society as a whole, who are saying that homosexuality is good. Every generation in the church has its issues to deal with. This just happens to be one of ours. There is so much confusion about this issue and so many voices affirming what is wrong and destructive, that we have to spend some time here. I can’t recall ever preaching a whole sermon on homosexuality. It is not some hobby horse for me, but when it comes up in the Bible, we have to deal with it, and if necessary defend the teaching of Scripture.

So here’s the place where I …

Also posted in RCA, Sermon | | 5 Comments

A Sermon on Leviticus 18:1-30 (Part 1)

This is part 1 of 4 from my sermon on Leviticus 18. For the introduction to the series where I talk about homosexuality and the Reformed Church in America go here.

*****

The second half of Leviticus, from chapter 17 onwards, is sometimes called The Holiness Code because its all about how the Israelites were to live as God’s holy people. Leviticus 19:2 gives the theme for this whole section: “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Chapter 18 in particular is about holiness as it relates to the family and sexual activity. The Bible actually has a lot of say about sex. Sex is among the greatest gifts God has given to us. It is also the source of more pain and temptation and destruction than almost any other force on the planet.

Sex is like a car. Cars make life better. They enable you to travel long distances and live in different places. You can visit your family more easily. Cars can go real fast. They look cool (some of them anyway). Most people will eventually drive a car. But there are rules. You need to be a certain age. You need to get training and take a test. You need a license. You have to follow traffic signs and stay in your lane and obey the speed limit. The rules are not to keep you from enjoying …

Also posted in RCA, Sermon | | 3 Comments

Death by Dialogue

I don’t often post my sermons because (1) sermons don’t usually make for good blog posts, (2) the people from my church reading my blog already heard the sermon, and (3) I don’t usually have a sermon manuscript anyway. But for several days this week (starting tomorrow) I’m going to post the sermon I preached on Sunday (May 17) from Leviticus 18. Leviticus 18, as you may know, is about holiness and sexuality. I didn’t single out this text to preach about sex. But I’ve been doing a series on Leviticus for several months now. So when the next chapter comes you preach on it.

The reason for posting the sermon over several days is because the issue of sexuality is so controversial in our day and in need of clarity. In particular, the issue is hotly debated in my denomination, the Reformed Church in America. Most of you aren’t a part of the RCA or even familiar with it, which is fine. But some of my readers are from the RCA. If so, I encourage you to follow these few blog posts carefully and even consider passing them on to others in your church, classis, or RCA networks.

A Little HistoryThe RCA has consistently affirmed that homosexual behavior is sinful. In 1978 the General Synod approved a paper entitled “Homosexuality: A Biblical and Theological Appraisal.” The paper was not perfect, but it did make statements like “Paul’s rejection of …

Also posted in RCA | | 23 Comments