Apr

03

2013

Joe Carter|8:01 AM CT

What You Should Know About 'LGBTQ'

[Note: This is the second in an occasional series explaining popular concepts and trends that affect the Christian community.]

The Concept: LGBTQ is an initialism that collectively refers to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and Queer communities. In use since the 1990s, the term is an adaptation of the initialism LGB, which itself started replacing the phrase gay community beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s. The initialism has become mainstream as a self-designation and has been adopted by the majority of sexuality and gender identity-based community centers and media in the United States.

Definitions: Throughout the following list of definitions I've chosen to use terms and denotations that are commonly accepted by those who identify as LGBTQ. The one exception will be to use the term homosexual, rather than "gay" when referring to people attracted to members of the same sex. (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation considers the term "homosexual" to be offensive and recommends that journalists use the term "gay.")

Gay - Until the mid-twentieth century, the term gay was originally used to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy", though it also added, in the late 17th century, the meaning "addicted to pleasures and dissipations" implying a that a person was uninhibited by moral constraints. In the 1960s, the term began to be used in reference to people attracted to members of the same sex who often found the term "homosexual" to be too clinical or critical. Currently, the term "gay" is used to refer to men attracted to men, though it is also used colloquially as an umbrella term to include all LGBTQ people.

Lesbian - The term most widely used in the English language to describe sexual and romantic attraction between females. (The word is derived from the name of the Greek island of Lesbos, home to Sappho (6th century BC), a female poet that proclaimed her love for girls). The term "gay and lesbian" became more popular in 1970s as a way of acknowledging the two broad sexual-political communities that were part of the Gay liberation movement.

Bisexual - A person who is attracted to two sexes or two genders, but not necessarily simultaneously or equally. Although the term used to be defined as a person who is attracted to both genders or both sexes, that has been replaced by the number two since the LGBT community believes there are not only two sexes (e.g., there are also intersex and transsexual) and there are not only two genders (see transgender). Within the LGBTQ community, a person that is sexually attracted to more than two biological sexes or gender identities is often referred to as pansexual or omnisexual.

Transgender - A general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to vary from culturally conventional gender roles. Transgender people are those whose psychological self ("gender identity") differs from the social expectations for the physical sex they were born with. In the LGBTQ community, a distinction is made between biological sex, which is one's body (genitals, chromosomes, etc.), and social gender, which refers to levels of masculinity and femininity. For example, a female with a masculine gender identity or who identifies as a man. Transgender is an umbrella term for transsexuals, cross-dressers (transvestites), transgenderists, "gender queers" (e.g., androgynous), and people who identify as neither female nor male and/or as neither a man or as a woman. Transgender is not a sexual orientation and transgender people may have any sexual orientation. While some people may fit under this definition of transgender, they may choose not to identify as such.

Queer - An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary. The term is still controversial, even within the LGBTQ community, because it was once used as a homosexual slur until it was reappropriated in the 1990s. The range of what "queer" includes varies, though in addition to referring to LGBT-identifying people, it can also encompass: pansexual, pomosexual, intersexual, genderqueer, asexual and autosexual people, and even gender normative heterosexuals whose sexual orientations or activities place them outside the heterosexual-defined mainstream, e.g., BDSM practitioners, or polyamorous persons. (In academia, the term "queer" and its verbal use, "queering", indicate the study of literature, academic fields, and other social and cultural areas from a non-heteronormative perspective.)

Variants:  Along with LGBTQ, other letters are sometimes added. Other variants include: An extra Q for "questioning"; "U" for "unsure"; "C" for "curious"; a "I" for "intersex"; another "T" for "transsexual" or "transvestite"; another "T", "TS", or "2" for "Two‐Spirit" persons; an "A" or "SA" for "straight allies"; or an "A" for "asexual"; "P" for "pansexual" or "polyamorous", "H" for "HIV-affected"; and "O" for "other".

Related terms: A term that could be considered an antonym of LGBTQ is "heteronormative." Popularized in the early 1990s in Queer Theory, the term refers to lifestyle norms that hold that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life that may or may not be socially contructed. Heternomativity presumes that heterosexual behavior is the norm for sexual practices and that sexual and marital relations are only fitting between a man and a woman.

Why it Matters: Whether Christians should even use the label LGBTQ for persons or groups who do not explicitly self-identify with the initialism is debatable. But what is clear is that Christians must reject the underlying assumptions about gender and sexuality that the term represents. The Christian worldview is, in the parlance of Queer Theory, heteronormative. The Bible clearly presents gender and heterosexual sex within the bounds of marriage as part of the goodness of God's created order. Outside of the God-ordained form of man-woman marriage, all forms of heterosexual and homosexual sexual engagement (as opposed to temptation to same-sex or opposite sex desire) are clearly forbidden by Scripture. This is not in dispute, despite the attempts of many of our fellow Christians who are attempting to ignore or twist the Word of God to make it more palatable to modern American society.

Perhaps before we can affectively reach out to those in the grip of sexual and gender confusion we should first address the theological confusion among our fellow believers. Whether out of misguided kindness or craven peer-pressure, many Christians are promoting hate and lies about how God is accepting of our panoply of choices in expressing our sexual and gender preferences. Sadly, these same believers are often treated as if they were the friends of the "LGBTQ community." But friends do not cheer as those they love embrace their sin and reject their Redeemer.

The true Christian response to those who are tempted by same-sex desire or suffering from gender identity confusion is to apply a gospel-centric expression of care, concern, and compassion. This requires, first of all, that we tell the truth about mankind and sin, and that we see people as God sees them rather than through their own preferred self-distorting labels and worldview. There are no "LGBTQ" people, only men and women made in the image of God who are suffering from the consequences of the Fall and their own sin. We do our friends, family, and neighbors no favors by "affirming" what God says must be renounced.

 

Related articles on TGC:

The New Sexual Identity Crisis

What You Should Know About 'Monogamish' Relationships

When Did Idolatry Become Compatible with Christianity?

Note on sources: General information that is not directly cited was likely taken from the Oxford English Dictionary or Wikipedia. Most other generic terms for sexuality were taken from the University of California at Berkeley's Gender Equity Resource Center.

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

Categories: Arts and Culture
  • Stacie

    Sadly, there are many more acronyms to add. Academics are pushing tolerance for bestiality, incest, and even a "sexual orientation" toward pedophelia.

    To me, the operative word is restraint. Society no longer values this and wants to obliterate it completely. Without any restraint, chaos and sin will reign.

    How can we uphold to the world the beauty and goodness in marriage as God designed it?

    It's ironic how popular movies still usually promote the idea of one man and one woman, in a faithful relationship. And yet, for women at least, their loneliness and inability to find a husband may lead to one of these sinful lifestyles.

    • Lori

      Which "academics" are these? I'm aware of a few academics who object to the way we currently frame age of consent laws and the penalties that go with them, but they do not support pedophilia, as they would all completely agree that prepubescent children cannot consent to sex and any sexual contact with them is wrong. I know of not a single academic who supports bestiality, incest, or pedophilia. I'd be interested in knowing the names of these academics.

  • Socrates

    In stead of such a long name they should be called by their true name "sexual deviant" and pointed to Christas as the only hope of true change and salvation. They need to be acepted not for who they think they are, but shown their sin. Unless we share the truth with all unrepentant sinners we are not lovers of our neighbors but haters.

    • Lori

      Do you advocate calling people who engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage "sexual deviants," as well?

      Do you honestly think that there is a single gay or lesbian person in America who is *unaware* that Christians think that homosexuality is a sin? Do you really think you will be providing them with brand new information if you point out their sinfulness to them?

      I feel like there is just such a massive misunderstanding about how God works in people's lives going on here. What on earth is the point of sanctification if people have turned from their sin before they are Christians? What role does the Holy Spirit play if people are fully convicted of their sin before they ever have the Holy Spirit working in them?

      There was a *lot* of sin in my life that I either didn't recognize at sin or didn't even realize was there at all when I became a Christian. And, I'm sure there's still a lot of sin in my life that I don't yet see as sin. This is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, to convict us of our sin and bring us to a place of repentance. I became a Christian thinking that premarital sex was okay. I knew, of course, that Christians said it was a sin, but I didn't actually feel any conviction about it and I didn't agree. However, that was something I became convicted of over a long period of time. (I talked below about how abortion was a similar issue for me.) God softened my heart in other areas first.

      Nobody comes to Christ fully aware of all of their sins and in a place where they have acknowledged and repented of all of them. That is a process, one that is lifelong. Maybe, for your LGBTQ neighbor who doesn't think that homosexuality is a sin, forcing them to agree about that that one area of their life is sin isn't the right way to go. I'm guessing that most gay people have, like the rest of us, a lot of sin in their lives, in a lot of areas. Perhaps there is another area where they are more open to seeing their need for Jesus, another area through which God makes a way in.

      And then, perhaps, they will come to understanding homosexuality as sin, through prayer and study and fellowship and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Maybe not. Perhaps they will recognize other sin in their lives. I don't know. But I do know that deciding that gay people must recognize homosexuality as sin and turn from it before becoming a Christian is like saying that every fat person must recognize that gluttony is a sin and turn from it before becoming a Christian (and I use that example on purpose because most people would realize that it's possible that not all fat people are gluttons). That's putting a huge barrier between people and Jesus that I don't think God intended to be there.

      • Gareth

        Lori: "Do you advocate calling people who engage in heterosexual sex outside of marriage "sexual deviants," as well?"

        Yes I do as it deviates from the Biblical standard of sexual ethics, that is that sexuality should be expressed in a marriage between a man and a woman?

      • sockpuppet

        excellent post

      • J4Jeff

        Lori-I think you have the heart of the Father on this one.
        Thanks for your post

  • http://outin2thedeep.wordpress.com Wesley

    Though dizzying, i do appreciate a deeper look into the vast number of terms and labels people self-identify under in the gay community. Tell the truth, however - exactly! i continually resist and push against this idea that who/or what someone has sexual feelings for is somehow their core identity and cannot be separated from who they are (love the sinner hate the sin, etc.) I wrote a bit longer on it here http://outin2thedeep.wordpress.com/2012/10/26/mistaken-identity-a-rare-political-rant/ if you're interested in reading.
    God's peace -
    W.

  • CG

    "The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation considers the term "homosexual" to be offensive and recommends that journalists use the term "gay.""

    Offensive unnecessarily, or offensive in the way the gospel is offensive?

  • Rachel

    I have a number of friends that identify as gay that I care a lot about and have been unsure of how to reach out to. Thank you for writing this; it truly is immensely helpful guidance.

    Something to remember is that we are not merely deploring homosexuality as the one damning sin, all sexual immorality (thought not having an equal level of harmfulness) and all sin makes us equally unworthy before our holy God. Yes, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says that men who have sex with men will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but neither will adulterers, the sexually immoral, idolaters. We too were guilty in front of a holy God, and we too needed Christ's blood to cover our sin.

    1 Corinthians 6:11b- 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 is our hope, and this is their hope. :)

  • Brantley Gasaway

    The article says: "This [i.e. the claim hat all forms of heterosexual and homosexual sexual engagement are clearly forbidden by Scripture] is not in dispute, despite the attempts of many of our fellow Christians who are attempting to ignore or twist the Word of God to make it more palatable to modern American society."

    Um, it IS in dispute--as you acknowledge by noting that other Christians disagree. I am not sure whether to applaud you for recognizing that others can disagree with your interpretations on this matter and still be Christians, or to rebuke you for uncharitably assuming that their motives are to cater to modern society. Perhaps I'll do both.

  • Joe Carter

    Um, it IS in dispute--as you acknowledge by noting that other Christians disagree.

    No, it's not. I don't know a single Christian who believes in the inerrancy and authority of God's Word and believes that Scripture condones homosexual behavior. Not one.

    What I do know are Christians who either deny the Bible is inerrant/authoritative or don't understand what Scripture actually says (most of the younger folks fall into this category). It's not a matter of "interpretation." The Bible is absolutely clear about fornication and homosexuality.

    for uncharitably assuming that their motives are to cater to modern society.

    What motives could they have? If it's not catering to modern society, then why didn't any Christians prior to the 20th century not recognize this new (scripture-twisting) "interpretation"? Why was it only *after* society starting claiming that homosexuality *must* be accepted did certain Christians suddenly started finding "interpretations" of Scripture that no one had ever, in the entire history of the faith, noticed before?

    I'll be honest, I'm past the point of putting up with the idea that Scripture is open to novel, culture-affirming interpretations. We're not talking about secondary or disputable points of doctrine. We're talking about people who are saying, "When the Bible says X, it really means the exact opposite of X." It's getting rather tiresome when believers are treated as if they are illiterate and need some mainline theologian to tell them that we had it wrong all along and that God meant the opposite of what he said.

    Christianity is a faith that is dependent on Christ and his eternal Word. If folks want to stop believing what Jesus believed and taught, then they really need to stop calling themselves Christian.

    • Brantley Gasaway

      Thanks for your response, Joe. For the record, I do not disagree with your characterization of biblical teaching on same-sex behavior. But I'm pushing you because I think you (and others in this "Gospel Coalition") have broadened the number of non-negotiable points of doctrine to include issues that Christians can genuinely disagree about.

      You must have not meant what you originally wrote, for you did say that "despite the attempts of many of our FELLOW Christians who are attempting to ignore or twist the Word of God to make it more palatable to modern American society." So I appreciate your new-found frankness.

      You also rely upon anecdotal evidence in your response, and of course others (including me) could respond in kind: "you may not know anyone who believes in biblical authority, but I in fact do know evangelicals who do."

      And your insistence on impugning the motives of those who disagree with us on this issue and sniffing about the ignorance of youth are patronizing. Is this issue unique, or do you treat pacifists and egalitarians in the same fashion? I am an evangelical Mennonite who thinks that Jesus taught us to reject war and treat women equally in all spheres--so is it legitimate for me to suggest that you are motivated by a patriarchal love for the status quo and should quit calling yourself a Christian since you do not believe what Jesus believed and taught? No--I think we can agree to disagree and recognize the other's sincere Christian faith....which I am also willing to do with those Christians who reach a different interpretation regarding the legitimacy of covenantal same-sex unions.

    • EricP

      It's not (X = Not X). It's (X = Subset of X). The argument is homosexual acts by heterosexuals is wrong. Visiting male prostitutes is wrong. Being a male prostitute is wrong. Selling male prostitutes is wrong. A homosexual couple is something outside the scope of the Roman world and is therefore not covered.

      I'm not saying I agree with that argument, but you should at least understand what you are arguing against.

      • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

        Yeah, that isn't true EricP.

        • EricP

          I'm not sure how take your comment. Is my explanation of the argument not true or the argument not true? I'm not making the argument. I'm explaining what the argument is.

          Let me try again. The traditional position is that all homosexual acts are wrong. Some people argue that one particular type is not wrong (in a loving, committed relationship). No one argues that all types are right.

          • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

            Ah forgive me! I didn't notice your last sentence. I was responding to, "A homosexual couple is something outside the scope of the Roman world and is therefore not covered." So sorry. Should know better by now to read comments at least twice thoroughly before responding.

          • Lori

            Thank you for this clarification, that all too often isn't made.

            I realized at some point that when I said, "I don't believe homosexuality is a sin," people sometimes interpreted it as meaning, "I believe that any and all sexual acts that gay people engage in are not sinful." That is NOT what I mean at all.

            What I mean is that I do not believe that homosexuality is any more inherently sinful than heterosexuality, and that homosexuality expressed within a context of a total, lifelong, monogamous commitment is not sinful.

            So I don't really get the retort, when people say that homosexuality isn't inherently a sin, that "Gay people are promiscuous!" Sure, some are. Maybe many are. And those promiscuous gay people are sinning. They are expressing their sexuality in sinful ways, just like a promiscuous heterosexual would be. I don't get why we're supposed to think that "monogamish" relationships invalidate the idea that homosexuality can ever be practiced in a moral context: those sorts of open relationships are sinful, as they would be for a straight couple, but it doesn't invalidate the fact that a gay or lesbian couple could--even if people believe it is very unlikely--have a relationship of total, lifelong, monogamous commitment. *That* is the context is which I believe gay and lesbian people can be sexual in a moral way, not that I think that any and all homosexual activity is just fine.

            For whatever reason, people do seem to think that a Christian who says "Homosexuality isn't a sin" means that hooking up with a stranger in a bathroom is not sinful. But, that's just wrong, and it's a misunderstanding of what people mean. They are talking about homosexuality being no more inherently sinful than heterosexuality, and that within the specific context of a lifelong, fully committed, monogamous union, sexual expression is okay for both straight and gay people. That's it.

            • J4Jeff

              Lori-Thank you for your articulate expression of compassion and kindness. From my view you have the heart of the Father longing for His lost children.
              I do not know when how or why the message of the Gospel of Christ is presumed to be
              focusing on my neighbors sin. Evangelicals by and large have become the elder brother, bitter and hateful. Yes we need to return to the Gospel but hate ain't it.

  • Matt

    Wow the last 5 years, as the Church has become more vocal about this issue, has been pretty much crap.

    I grew up in the 60s and 70s when there was no term "transgender." I just knew there was something wrong with me. I was a boy who felt like a girl and wanted to be a girl.

    At 12 0r 13 I realized I was sexually attracted to other boys.

    "Queer" pretty much described how I felt - I was disgusted with myself and hated who I was. By the end of high school I was thinking about suicide every day.

    Somewhere in my teens I realized how impossible it would be for me to be a girl and so I figured I should learn how to be a boy. I watched and imitated other guys, eventually taking up weight lifting and building a more masculine self-image.

    I felt I could not overcome the sexual attraction I felt toward males nor the sexual revulsion caused by the female body. So I opted for celibacy instead.

    Through the last 30 years I have been very happy with my choices and have rested assured in the grace of Christ as a forgiven sinner who longs to serve Jesus.

    Until the last 5 years. I'm still satisfied with my choice and and believe they were the only biblical ones open to me. I still want to serve Christ.

    But happy? - NO WAY

    WHY?

    Because over the last half decade, Christians seem to have come to the conclusion that the only way to love is to "speak the truth!" As in this post there is virtually no reference to grace, mercy, the cross of Christ. As with the responses to this post there is almost no mention of the forgiveness of sins And when forgiveness is mentioned in most pastors' blogs these days it's pretty wimpy "we want you to repent so Christ can forgiven you" or something along that line. No mention of what that forgiveness means or offer of friendship or fellowship.

    Apparently love simply means keeping homosexuals from marrying, joining boy scouts, being open about their orientation if they are in the military and preventing laws that declared them a protected minority in schools.

    While some of these issues may have aspects that are correct (though I still don't know what in the world homosexuality has to do with camping and tying knots), as far as I can tell, letting us homosexuals know what we CAN'T do is the only love the Church today is willing to express.

    After achieving what few heterosexuals have, decades long celibacy, and coming so far in my search for masculinity, the last 5 years have made me so terrified of Christians that just being around straight Christians makes my stomach hurt.

    Even though I totally stand against the gay community on almost every political and religious issue, it is always a sense of relief to call a gay friend and talk to someone who actually cares.

    So maybe what you need to know about has a lot less to do with what the initials mean and a whole lot more to do with why they don't don't fall at the feet of Christians and thank you for "speaking the truth in love" to them.

    because frankly, the love of the Church over the last few years has felt a whole lot more like hate.

    • Colton Hager

      Great story Matt. Keep sharing. We need to hear stories like this. Keep encouraging Christians towards love, grace, and patience. I'm often humbled when I remember that Jesus didn't just preach to the "sinners", He went out and associated himself with them. He hung out with them. He went to their homes and ate with them. Yes, he was Holy; Yes, he would teach truth, but He wasn't afraid to enter into the lives of "dirty" people and show them the love and grace that radically changed the world.

      It's interesting that you (and many others) don't feel loved, but the church is screaming "hate the sin, love the sinner". Perhaps, we need to rethink what we mean when we say we love them. We need to start considering how the gay community receives love. If they don't see or feel loved and accepted, we missed the point.

      You're story is encouraging. Don't give up on the church, but continue to teach and share your story with our brothers. Thank you.

    • Sara

      Hi Matt,

      My heart is broken over the pain you have experienced as you have witnessed the Church's response in recent years to issues of sexual identity. I am so sorry for this pain.

      I agree with Colton. Your insights are so incredibly valuable and, in my opinion, spot on. Please keep sharing your story, especially with those who will honor it. My pastor once told me that we are all God's image bearers, that no matter what we have done or what has been done to us, we will always bear the image of our our Creator and no one can take that away from us. As a survivor of sexual abuse, that's something that I'm learning to remember.

      You matter. You are valuable. And so is your story.

      Thank you so much for your courage in sharing your story with such authenticity, especially in a forum such as this. May God bless you and keep you, may He make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, may He lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

    • Bob Devine

      Hi Matt,
      Thanks for your open sharing. In reading your post I am curious about how you seem to identify yourself and various classes of Christians. Biblically there is only one class for followers of Jesus, namely forgiven sinners. Further, when God creates new life in His people He gives them a new identity in Christ. Whatever we were before as fallen creatures He has breathe His very life into these dead souls and with an imperishable seed He has granted life that was conceived out of the finished work of Christ at the cross, which The Father publicly certified when He raised He from the dead. As sinners we had been alienated from God and were under His wrath. But He has rescued us and gifted us with hope and an eternal future. Not only that but He equips His sons and daughters with a new heart and puts His Spirit in us to live and to do for His good pleasure. Yet, there is still more. He has planned a new heavens and a new earth to come and will grant us new indestructible bodies (one something like that of the Risen Christ) to live and move and have unimaginable being in the world to come. All without any hint or thread of sin. Now I know there is still the issue of the old Adam in our beings that still wants to live and carry out the deeds of that old nature and fallen flesh. But it must be our life long battle to be renewed in our mind, heart and soul to allow Christ to fully live in and though us. My point is this. When we get a grip on what Christ has done for us and to us to make us a son or daughter of His, then we really need to cling to that for all it's worth and put to death the chains and labels from the past that are no longer are ours. We need to be forward looking and preaching the Word to ourselves about who we are in Christ and the power He affords us as we groan in this short life on the south side of Glory. Holding fast to His promises and letting Him bring into submission every area of our now absolutely precious lives. Rom 5:9,10

      • EricP

        "But it must be our life long battle to be renewed in our mind, heart and soul to allow Christ to fully live in and though us."

        That sentence cuts to the heart of the problem Matt is experiencing. For those with same sex attraction, the message is "repent of this one specific sin before we accept you". For all other sins, we understand that Christ will spend the rest of our lives renewing us.

        Have you ever heard a pastor say "we welcome repentant liars, repentant lustful thinkers, repentant greedy people, repentant gossips"? I haven't, but I've heard "repentant homosexuals" Why the double standard?

        • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

          I would think that's what is meant by 'lustful thinkers.' I mean, the lust isn't specified. It could be heterosexual or homosexual.

          • Lori

            Yes. The point, though, is that churches don't expect people to repent of their lust before they become Christians; it's not a precondition for being accepted by God or the church. It's understood that lust will be a lifelong struggle, and that in many cases people won't even understand why lust is a sin or how they are sinning in their lustful thinking until the Holy Spirit is working in their life.

            Is there any Christian who was aware of and repented of all of their sin before they became a Christian? I don't know of any. I do know that I am convicted of sin in my life--often patterns of thought and/or behavior that I've engaged in for many years, that are considered totally acceptable by society--on a regular basis.

            If homosexuality is indeed inherently sinful, it still might not be the first thing God wants to work on in a person's life. It might be the second, or the tenth, or the last. Even if homosexuality were inherently and always sinful, God still might wait until years into a person's Christian walk to convict them of that sin because it took that long to soften that person's heart enough to even address the issue.

            Who are we to decide what area of sin in a person's life is of most importance? It would seem obvious to me that God might indeed wait until a bit later in our Christian life to convict us of more deeply-entrenched sins and sanctify us in those areas.

            • Gareth

              Actually Lori, I did repent before (particularly of drunkenness and lust) becoming a Christian. Why? Firstly Jesus said repent and believe for the Kingdom is at hand, secondly that we've all sinned and fallen short of God's glory.

              What is key is our attitude. When I do fall into sin I turn to Jesus and repent. I hate my sin. The people who are for changing the Gospel are saying that sin in respect to these issues is not sin and as a result are potentially leading people into condemnation. Repentance is a salvation issue.

            • EricP

              Paul constantly reminds Christians to stop sinning. Romans 13:13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
              Which he immediately follows with: Romans 14:1 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. and 14:10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister ? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

            • Lori

              @Gareth, so over the course of your Christian life, you were never convicted that something you had previously thought was okay or just never thought much about was a sin?

              I don't understand why we can't allow homosexuality to be one of those things in people's lives. Our recognition of our own sin is always, I think, going to be incomplete, and part of a process. Expecting LGBTQ people to acknowledge homosexuality as sin and repent of it before conversion, while not putting the same requirement (of having to acknowledge and repent of one specific sin) on other people, is just not right.

              What if you were to say to men, "Hey, before you become a Christian, you need to acknowledge that pornography is a sin and repent of using it"? Some would probably agree and do it, and no doubt there are men for whom pornography is the (or one of the) sins that brings them to Jesus.

              But, that won't be the case for everybody. You will also have men who become Christians still thinking that pornography is not really that big of a deal, and that it's okay for them to look at it sometimes. They may hear some teachings to the contrary but they don't really agree. They know there are other areas of sin in their life, and they've repented of those, but they just don't believe that pornography is a sin. We would see that as a possibility, I think, that this person requires the working of the Spirit in their lives to convict them of this, and that it will come as part of their Christian life and their process of sanctification. I hope we wouldn't believe that such a person was disqualified from coming to Christ because they didn't (yet) believe that one specific act was a sin.

            • Gareth

              @Lori - repentance of sin is essential. Dealing with that sin may be a battle but ultimately if you are being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ this will mean turning away from pornography. Pornography is an industry that is based on dehumanising people (mostly women) and treating them as less than God created them to be.

              You gave a deficient view of sin. If I love God I will hate what He hates and love what He loves. If God has ordained for sex to be between a man and a woman then He is Lord. Not me. I come second.

              What does it mean that Jesus is Lord? That the Bible is subject to my personal whims or that I am subject to the Lord and I submit to Him?

              It is the latter I think. A deficient view of sin and repentance will lead many to be condemned. Don't you care?

              I'm with Joe on this.

    • Lori

      Thank you for sharing. Christians NEED to hear this. If the people you claim to be "loving" tell you that your love feels like hate, you need to listen. You need to change. Because you can say "But it's really love!" over and over, but if it feels like hate to people, then you are messing up.

      If the way you love people feels like hate to them, then you are doing it wrong.

      Too often, I think, Christians feel like they have the right to engage with LGBTQ people the way they'd engage with children: my children may sometimes feel like I hate them when I discipline them, but obviously I love them, and they know that. My oldest knows that, while it might feel like I hate him when I take away his video game time, I'm imposing consequences because I love him.

      However, our LGBTQ neighbors aren't our children. We are in no position to discipline them or impose consequences.

      Instead, we should think about how we'd respond if it were any issue other than homosexuality. Let's say I have a neighbor who weighs 400 pounds. And I tell my neighbor, every time I see her, that gluttony is a sin and that she needs to change. Jesus is the answer, if only she's willing to recognize that she is a wicked glutton bound for hell and to change that. If she could lose 200 pounds first, that would be even better. But, at the very least, she needs to know that her gluttony is a horrible sin, and I'm going to point that out to her as often as I can, because obviously that's the loving thing to do. If she doesn't want to listen or feels hated, it must be because she doesn't understand love.

      Or, my neighbor has a boyfriend she is having sex with. I want to be loving to her, so I decide that it's incredibly important that she understand that she is a wicked fornicator who is excluded from the kingdom of God unless she turns from her sin. And so whenever there's an opening, I mention to her how fornication is a sin and she's a fornicator. If she stops wanting to talk to me, I guess it's just because people find Christ offensive, and not because I was being a rude jerk.

      Every single gay person in the U.S. knows that Christians believe homosexuality is a sin. In fact, if anything, they are far more likely to be unaware that there are Christians who *don't* think it's a sin. No Christian has any need to tell any lesbian or gay person that they are sinning, because they already know that Christians believe that.

      It is indeed hateful rather than loving to continually berate a person about a sin that they already know you believe is sin. If I did that to my husband--if there was an area of his life where he knew I believed he was sinning, and I kept reminding him of it every chance I got--people would think I was a terrible, contentious, nagging wife. They say that perhaps after prayer I'd feel like it was something I should mention, but after I mentioned it once, my job was to wait and love and pray (assuming, of course, that he wasn't causing direct harm to me or others, in which case I might need to put some boundaries in place to ensure safety). Nobody would say that my job was to argue him into agreeing with me that he is sinning in that area. But, somehow doing just that to our neighbors is okay?

    • sockpuppet

      Matt, quite a moving story. Modern day American Christians are definitely coming across as hateful, not just toward homosexuals, but towards anyone in the secular who disagrees with them. Please know that the vocal majority is not representative of the minority.

  • Joe Carter

    But I'm pushing you because I think you (and others in this "Gospel Coalition") have broadened the number of non-negotiable points of doctrine to include issues that Christians can genuinely disagree about.

    Really? I certainly hope we're not doing that, but I'm willing to consider that we may be guilty. What points of doctrine do you think we're doing that on?

    You must have not meant what you originally wrote

    Oh, I meant it, and still stand by it. I think someone can be a Christian and be on a spectrum of apostasy. For example, I think many young people are largely ignorant about the Biblical view of sexuality. Despite the impression the secular world has of us being sex-obsessed, I think many of our churches fail to make it clear exactly what the Bible teaches. So when they support homosexuality, they are twisting God's Word because they don't really know what God says about it.

    Many other folks, of course, are without excuse.

    You also rely upon anecdotal evidence in your response, and of course others (including me) could respond in kind:

    True, I did really on anecdotal evidence. But that's because I've truly never seen anyone who disagrees. I've never read an evangelical Biblical scholar who says that God's condemnations of homosexuality should be ignored because we live in a unique period of history.

    And your insistence on impugning the motives of those who disagree with us on this issue and sniffing about the ignorance of youth are patronizing.

    I'm sorry if it's patronizing, but I've yet to see a plausible alternative explanation. Is it just coincidence that the "interpretations" of Scripture only came about at the same time that homosexuality was becoming accepted in secular culture? What is the explanation you favor?

    Is this issue unique, or do you treat pacifists and egalitarians in the same fashion?

    This issue is unique in that those making their case do so without any scriptural warrant. The same is not true for pacifists or egalitarians. I may disagree with them about how they interpret Scripture to come to the conclusions they do, but pacifists and egalitarians certainly seem to be making a good faith effort to take the Word of God seriously.

    so is it legitimate for me to suggest that you are motivated by a patriarchal love for the status quo and should quit calling yourself a Christian since you do not believe what Jesus believed and taught?

    That depends. Do you think my complementarian position is untenable according to the Bible? Do you think the Bible speaks clearly about the issue in a way that cannot be misread without twisting Scripture? Do you think I'm directly rejecting the teachings of Jesus in a way that is without excuse? If so, then you certainly are warranted in saying that I should quit calling myself a Christian.

    which I am also willing to do with those Christians who reach a different interpretation regarding the legitimacy of covenantal same-sex unions.

    But there is no "different interpretation." It's not a matter of interpretation at all since you have to directly *reject* what the Bible says in order to come up with an "interpretation" that claims there is any "legitimacy of covenantal same-sex unions."

    I don't care how sincerely someone hold a view. If it directly and emphatically contradicts the Word of God then it is a position that cannot be held by Christians.

  • Paul H

    What about the book by Rosaria Butterfield The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert? How does she suggest we address people in the LGBT community? How did the pastor God used to lead Rosaria to Christ relate to her? Did he pound on her using antagonistic words? This community is made up of individuals that need to hear the Gospel message How do we carry this message? In love or with the language of condemnation?

    • Joe Carter

      This community is made up of individuals that need to hear the Gospel message How do we carry this message? In love or with the language of condemnation?

      I would recommend we carry the message to sinners in the "LGBTQ community" the same way we do to any other group of sinners: By preaching the gospel clearly and unapologetically.

      We aren't condemning them, we're condemning their *sin*. It would be condescending if we told people that because of their sexual orientation that we had to address them in a less direct manner than we would otherwise. If there sins are no different than our own then we should not fear being honest with them. They are sinners, like the rest of us, in need of salvation, like the rest of us.

      • Paul H

        Read her book. You've missed my point. The book will help you understand what I'm saying.

        • James

          I think we should rather read the Scriptures, otherwise you've missed the point. The gospel will help us understand rightly.

      • EricP

        Joe, Do you start by confessing your own sin to them, so that they know that you are likewise a sinner? Do you think they need you to point out their sin? Are they not aware of that themselves?

    • Lori

      Yes. I absolutely commend this book to any Christians who want to know how to interact with LGBTQ people in a productive and loving way. Rosaria Butterfield is, in many ways, the exemplar of what they claim to want: a woman who was a radical feminist lesbian professor who came to Christ and is now married to a (male) pastor and homeschooling their children. While she is significantly more conservative in her politics and theology than I am, I loved her book, and I think more Christians who think homosexuality is a sin--as she does!--should heed her words.

      Whether somebody thinks homosexuality is or is not a sin is NOT a salvation issue, and it should not be raised to that level. If Christians do decide to make whether or not somebody thinks homosexuality is a sin a litmus test for whether or not they really are a Christian, or make thinking homosexuality is a sin a prerequisite for becoming a Christian, then efforts at evangelism in our culture are doomed to fail. Certainly there is room for disagreement on this issue and, in reality, for the vast majority of people, the disagreement will be purely theoretical. Only 1-3% of the population is gay, so for most people, their views on the sinfulness or non-sinfulness of homosexuality have no practical importance in their own personal lives. Is it really that important that a straight person be willing to condemn homosexual acts as sin? Because, honestly, more often than not what these kinds of arguments do is turn off straight people who aren't going to be engaging in homosexual acts anyway, rather than convicting lesbian and gay people of their sin. Do we really want this to be a deal-breaker issue? I don't see any justification for that at all.

      And does anybody really think that LGBTQ people need to be told that Christians think they are sinners? They already know that, I assure you. There is not a single doubt in their mind that Joe Carter thinks they are terribly wicked sinners. There is simply no need to bang that drum, because they already know. What they don't know is that they are loved by Christians. What they need are people like the pastor and his wife that Rosaria Butterfield describe, who invited her into her home, her radical views and lesbian lifestyle and all, and loved her as a friend, and who entered into her home and her life as well. They loved her so well that she was able to get past her own prejudices about Christians, which never would have happened if, instead of respectfully disagreeing with her about homosexuality and, it appears, not really making a big issue of it, they had felt compelled to remind her again and again that her lesbianism was sin and condemning that sin.

      It seems to me that, on this issue, some of the bloggers at TGC want to prove they are right more than they want to share the gospel. But condemnation of homosexuality is NOT the gospel and it is not necessary to the gospel, regardless of whether one feels it is inherently sinful or not. It's both ironic and sad that so much space on a site that purports to be about proclaiming the gospel is about issues (and this one issue in particular) that are and rightfully should be tangential.

      And, again, if one can't fathom how somebody could hear and respond to the gospel without first having their mind fully changed about homosexuality, they should read Rosaria Butterfield's book.

      I can give an example from my own life, as well: abortion was a huge stumbling block for me in coming to Christ. I was of the opinion that, while abortion would never be the right choice for me personally, it might be the right choice for other women, and it was not okay to condemn it or try to limit their rights. When I did become a Christian, I still held that view. It was over the course of maybe a decade that my view changed, and it changed slowly. First I began to see why abortion might be morally wrong, then I began to see why there might be good arguments for strictly limiting its legality. But I could only get to that viewpoint as a Christian, not before, and only through a very long, organic process of living and thinking through the Christian life. If somebody had made abortion a salvation issue, or told me that I had to have a pro-life view in order to be a Christian, I never would have become one. Because abortion, as important as it is, is not central to the gospel, and we do not serve or love people well if we elevate it to that level. The same is true of homosexuality.

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  • Ermintrudec

    Matt - that was spot on!

  • http://behance.net/JoshuaGrudziecki Joshua

    Joe, I am a young person-Not yet 23 years old. I am on the brink of graduation from a conservative, reformed Bible college in the United States. I grew up in a string of Bible churches in various cultural locations all over the country. I have taken advanced hermeneutics, language, and preaching courses from some of the Evangelical Church’s best scholars and pastors (I learned well). Learning does not make me a better Christian, nor has it made me more like Christ specifically or spiritually. It has certainly opened up my heart and mind to new avenues for the Spirit to work out my sanctification within and with me. In short, I understand who I am in Christ, and I understand the nature of a view of Scripture that holds the Bible to be inerrant and authoritative.

    I disagree with you strongly on a few things.

    First, I am not ignorant. I don’t really care whether or not you patronize me, just so long as you understand that I know my own intelligence, my well-learned hermeneutic, my God and Savior Jesus Christ, and the Spirit who enlightens me to His Word.

    Second, I propose for consideration that it is a sin of some measure to (with sweeping blanket statements) assume that all who disagree with you on this topic are directly contradicting the Word of God and accuse them unduly of apostasy. That is a strong and important accusation, and using it so flippantly seems to reveal an arrogance and lack of pastoral concern that is (at least) demeaning (and, as such, ungodly).

    Third, you seem to believe that you can, as a human within a certain cultural context and a very specific sub-culture that has not always existed make truth claims regarding how Scripture is, what it is, how to interpret it, and how others must interpret it that are objective and above cultural relativity. Whether you have thought through the options on views of truth and truth claims and come to this conclusion or not I do not presume to know. If you have reached the conclusion that objective truth claims can be made and therefore can apply unilaterally to all people then I do not think that you understand language, cultural development, history, or Truth. If you have not decidedly worked through the issues at hand, then I think you ought to, because the words you use to make truth claims, the words you read Scripture in, the words you read from those who agree and disagree with you – these are all subject to culturally and personally determined meaning. I cannot mean the same thing with my words as you will hear when you read them. My experience is different from yours, as is my learning of the English language (not to mention other languages pertaining to Scriptural revelation).

    You may say that the Bible was/is inspired by the Holy Spirit and inerrant in its original autographs, and as such the words chosen by God were perfect and in no way subjective. Yes, I agree with that – assuming we mean the same thing by it. However, your studies of the languages of the original autographs (Which we don’t have, by the way) were done in a cultural context that sought objectivity in vocabulary and definition but failed to find it because even the words and thoughts of the teachers you undoubtedly learned from were culturally subjective. You can’t study or learn Greek and Hebrew in a vacuum. You can’t learn anything in a vacuum of objectivity. Therefore, you cannot suggest without contest that your understanding of what God was speaking of in regards to Homosexuality is a perfect, objective, or universally understood truth about which there can be “no dispute”. That is inane.

    People who find in Scripture a cultural context in which, at least in the majority of New Testament passages, constraints against homosexuality are given in light of temple prostitution and idol worship will easily and understandably see cultural subjectivity in those prohibitions. You can’t call them apostates for doing so – that actually fits with the way the Evangelical community teaches contextual hermeneutics. You cannot claim with objectivity that you know the character of God is against homosexual relationships (you may be correct that He is against it as much as He is against any sin, but the way you talk about that belief is wrong) because you cannot claim to know the character of God objectively.

    Stop implying universal truths where they are not present for you to know. It makes your views irrelevant, and that is of no benefit to Christ or His body.

    Finally, I believe that the life, death, and resurrection of God in Christ together demonstrate a picture of who God is and how He deals with sin and sinners that your article doesn’t articulate in the least. I understand that was not your intention with the article to begin with, but you shouldn’t have drawn conclusions about how Christians should handle the gender-identity issue in culture without drawing conclusions from the character of the Triune-God-who-is-Love. The only apologetic we have, whether we accept homosexuality or not is the suffering God who responds to sinners with gracious and merciful salvation, who gives up His own identity and empties himself to become servant of all. “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is a ridiculous concept. We are not called to condemn sin or sinners. That belongs to God. We are called to present life and salvation to God first, and as it turns out, you don’t need the “Romans Road” to do that. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. Yes, repent and turn from your sin. But the first command is to believe. Those who believe in Him will not perish – NOT “those who are told that their sin is sin and thus are condemned to the point that they can repent and in so doing understand that the sinful human who was condemning them to begin with was really loving them by speaking the truth the whole time.” That would be and is a corruption of the Gospel message and the nature of the Kingdom of God.

    • EricP

      You make good points. Have you studied Karl Barth?

  • EricP

    The Atlantic has an interesting article today about being gay at jerry falwell university. I think it showed a great Christian response.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/being-gay-at-jerry-falwells-university/274578/

  • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

    I'm a young person who freely admits that our generation is sorely lacking in an understanding of a Biblical view of sexuality. I think Mr. Carter is absolutely right.
    And let's keep in mind that while it is true that Jesus "ate with"/"hung out with" sinners, He also commanded them to go forth and sin no more. We have no problem with Jesus's love and his grace and his mercy, but we think He just gave sinners a hug and passed on. Nope, He changed their hearts and minds, which changed their actions.

    • Sara

      Exactly. HE changed their hearts and minds. They will know us by our love but they will be CHANGED by HIS.

    • Sara

      We are called to love, love and love more. We are not called to change anyone.

      • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

        Correct Sara, and telling people their sin is ok is not love.

        • Sara

          What is it?

          • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

            It's whatever the opposite of love is.

          • JohnM

            Sara, I know, you asked Heather, not me, but the answer to your question "What is it?" is: A lie. That's what we do when we tell people their sin is ok, we lie to them.

            • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

              Aha! A better answer. Thanks!

        • Lori

          Are there any alternatives between arguing people into agreeing with you about how sinful they are and telling them their sin is okay? What about just not mentioning it? What about sharing your opinion if they ask but otherwise minding your own business?

          I have a friend who drinks more than I think is healthy or good. However, I do not mention it. She is not at the point where she is endangering herself or others in any imminent sense. She has never asked for my opinion on her drinking. So, I do not mention it. I'm not like, "Hey, I think it's awesome that you drink until you are sick on a regular basis!" but neither do I tell her that I think her behavior is wrong. I'm just her friend, and I'll be there for her whatever happens.

          I have another friend who left her husband and children for a man she'd met online. She knew my feelings about marriage and divorce, and I have no doubt she knew I disagreed with her actions. She never asked me to condone them, and she never asked for my opinion. I didn't share it. My friendship with her isn't contingent on her making choices I agree with.

          We love people in spite of their sin and keep our mouths shut about wrong we see in our friends' lives all the time because we recognize that it is not our place to convict others of sin. You can share if asked and you can make your beliefs known gently and respectfully, but then all you can do is wait and pray and love. I'm not sure why Christians feel unable to do that about homosexuality.

          • Gareth

            As a Christian you should care about those people and encourage them to repent and cone back to Christ. That is the truly loving thing yo do.

          • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

            You aren't a very good friend...
            Proverbs 27:6 "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."

            I think if you just keep your mouth shut you are passively telling your friend, "I don't love you."

  • Tuad

    Given that my lifespan is eternity, I'm a young person too!

    And Joe is correct: "Perhaps before we can affectively reach out to those in the grip of sexual and gender confusion we should first address the theological confusion among our fellow believers. Whether out of misguided kindness or craven peer-pressure, many Christians are promoting hate and lies about how God is accepting of our panoply of choices in expressing our sexual and gender preferences."

  • Elaina

    If we want to have a clear, Gospel message to GLBTQ... people, we need to really start thinking clearer about what we communicate to them. As Tim Keller says, the Christian gospel might be very exclusive, but it's the most inclusive of all exclusivities.

    Compare what we offer in the Gospel to what Islam offers, as one example - it should seriously change the way we engage people...
    http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/04/gays_for_sharia.html

    Thanks

    • Paul H

      Elaina: My point exactly! That's why i recommend that we read Rosaria Butterfield's book.

  • cneil

    I am a staunch believer in traditional marriage, but I am curious to know if the eunuchs mentioned in Matthew 19:12 pertain to any of these classifications. Thanks!

    • EricP

      Transgender people point to the eunuch as an example of a person who was neither traditionally male nor female but was loved by God.

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  • http://christianitytomorrowblog.wordpress.com/ Lyric

    "LGBTQ" sounds like a sandwich on a fast-food menu, and I suppose that's appropriate. The underlying attitude is that we are as free to make sexual choices as we are free to select our favorite combo value meal at McDonald's. But then they take it a step further, claiming that if you disagree with their sandwich selection, you are expressing hatred and attacking their core identity. The LGBTQ crowd has cast themselves as victims of the new racial bigotry, as I discussed in my recent post at http://christianitytomorrowblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/marriage-equality-or-marriage-freedom/

    Because of this, all our rational argumentation is interpreted as hatred and falls on deaf ears. On the other hand, if we react by softening the reality of the sin and falling over backward to be loving and not hurt their feelings, our viewpoint won't be taken seriously. I wonder if the better strategy is for the church to step back and look at the big picture, and to make it clear that what we have to offer is not just a particular sexual lifestyle (or lack thereof), but a whole way of life, and more importantly, a faith in someone against whom all things pale in significance.

    • EricP

      Lyric,

      From your post, you accurately describe the LBGT position as "a person’s sexuality is their core identity" It's true people are more than their orientation, but you oversimplify by comparing it to a fast food menu. It is extremely difficult if not impossible for a person to change their orientation. (Even according to Exodus International) Christians who acknowledge that usually say celibacy is the only God honoring position. It's easy to put that burden on someone else, but it is a difficult burden to bear. I'm not asking anyone to discard their view on scripture, but please be sympathetic and compassionate.

      Viewing this as a discussion or an argument does not help. We are to seek and save the lost. Everyone is convicted of sin before God even if we exclude sexual sins. There's no need to battle over that sin. Either the person is deeply guilty about it already or will ignore anyone who discusses it. The mere mention of Romans 1 makes LBGT Christians cringe and feel attacked. Maybe you think that's not fair, but it is reality.

  • Monica

    Dear Joe,

    The best thing about this article is its service in cultural literacy and your plain-spoken assertion that Christianity is heteronormative.

    As for your prescriptions, I agree with the one who suggests we look at Rosaria Butterfield's book. Her testimony, published a few months back in CT her made me weep! Praise God for the Syracuse pastor and his wife who engaged her with that letter and friendship. I know a church-attending couple who became Christians when a pastor took them through marriage counseling and then agreed to marry them, but not in a ceremony of Christian marriage because they were cohabiting. They were shocked and jolted by this firm boundary that sh moved out that night.
    When converts come into the church it changes the church! We all rejoice in the Lord who seeks and saves the lost. The Lord tells us to pray for workers to be sent into the plentiful harvest. Are we doing this?

  • Truth Unites… and Divides

    Lori: "Do you honestly think that there is a single gay or lesbian person in America who is *unaware* that Christians think that homosexuality is a sin?"

    Yes. I honestly do. In fact, there are some actively homosexual "pastors" who don't think their same-sex behavior is sin.

    Joe Carter has it right when he writes: "Perhaps before we can affectively reach out to those in the grip of sexual and gender confusion we should first address the theological confusion among our fellow believers. Whether out of misguided kindness or craven peer-pressure, many Christians are promoting hate and lies about how God is accepting of our panoply of choices in expressing our sexual and gender preferences."

    • Lori

      I'm not asking if there are gay people who don't think being gay is a sin. Of course that's the case.

      I'm asking if there are gay people who you believe don't know that many Christians think homosexuality is a sin, who, if Joe Carter went up to them and said, "You know, being gay is a sin," would go, "Wow, I have *never* heard that before! Tell me more!"

      Gay Christian pastors know that there are Christians who think homosexuality is a sin; they just disagree.

      My point is that it is news to NOBODY that some Christians think homosexuality is a sin. You are not providing anybody with new information if you tell them that.

      • Truth Unites… and Divides

        "My point is that it is news to NOBODY that some Christians think homosexuality is a sin."

        Joe's point is that there are some people who profess to be Christians who don't think same-sex behavior is sin, and that these theologically confused folks should be affirming Scripture's clear, unequivocal, and transcendent teaching. Thank you.

        • Lori

          And, as others have pointed out, it's not as clear, unequivocal, and transcendent as one might think.

          I'd recommend reading the chapter in J.R. Daniel Kirk's "Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul?" that deals with homosexuality for one example of how an evangelical scholar who takes a very high view of scriptural authority (and who even agrees, unlike somebody like Jack Rogers--whose "Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality" I'd highly recommend to understand the case that is being made for the biblical text not speaking to homosexuality as we understand it today--that the Bible does indeed clearly condemn homosexual acts) can conclude that these issues are not clear cut. He briefly discusses those views here, as well:

          http://blog.bakeracademic.com/homosexuality-under-the-reign-of-christ-a-post-from-j-r-daniel-kirk/

          My point isn't that he's right, or that Rogers is right, but just that saying, "It's completely and utterly clear that the Bible condemns any and all expressions of homosexuality AND that that condemnation is for all times and all places" is an oversimplification.

          • Truth Unites… and Divides

            Lori, do you affirm that Scripture teaches that same-sex behavior is sin?

          • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

            It's very clear in the bible. It's not an oversimplification. Anyone who believes otherwise, I highly doubt has a "high view of scriptural authority."

  • Lily J

    This question never gets answered by this community but what about people who are biologically not born male or female? Are you all aware of just how many children are born with an ambiguous sex/ambiguous genitalia?

    • EricP

      Those people are termed intersex. The frequency is 0.018% to 1.7% depending on how you count them. 0.1% to 0.2% have ambiguous genitalia. The 0.018% number comes from those whose chromosomes mismatch their phenotype. For example, someone who is XY but has androgen insensitivity disorder appears female. Wikipedia has a good overview, but it also has graphic pictures.

      They are separate from LBGT, but sometimes someone is intersex and LBGT. I hope that helps.

    • http://donotletthisuniverseforgetyou.blogspot.com Heather Carrillo

      This question probably doesn't get answered because no one is sure what the question is. What do you mean, what about them?

  • Bob Devine

    Some have raised in here a good question as to what manner of sin requires immediate attention and repentance from and would therefore evidence that something significant has occurred in the heart and soul of the person who has turned towards Christ. If we think about Paul's conversion we can be sure that no one would have believed that anything really changed if he slowly inched his way from persecution of the church. Rather there was a radical and immediate turning around in his life that evidenced grace. Another scripture case would be what transpired in 1 Corinthians 5 where the unrepentant man was actually ex-communicated from the church (at least for a season) because of the sin that he had committed. The purpose was twofold; to lay a path for restoration of the man and to preserve the church body. That same chapter provides further instruction for other forms of sin that should be dealt with forthrightly by the church. I cite these two examples to raise the point that there are a lot of things said in this thread and if we were to be honest much of it is not rooted in the Word but rather is an attempt to peddle the doctrines of men. If we bear the Name Christ then we must be by all manner possible people of the Word. If we want to be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ there is no substitute for the Sacred Text in being fuel for the Holy Spirit to shape and mode our thinking and doing to conform to His good and perfect will.

    There is a good article on this subject by Wayne Grudem at this link. http://www.worldmag.com/2013/04/the_bible_and_homosexuality

    • Paul H

      Excellent article thank you for posting the link

  • Paul H

    In looking over all the comments, I am again reminded of Rosaria Butterfields book and I believe it would be helpful to all. We are bouncing back & in these comments between what is the truth of the Bible about the sin of homosexuality & how do we relate to & witness to the individual homosexual. In her book you will see just how difficult it is for someone deep in this lifestyle to come to faith in Christ, the incredible power of God's word, & the faithful & patient witness of a pastor who offers love & respectful witness with no compromise. I found it very challenging & encouraging.

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  • Simon

    There really is two aspects to dealing with sin and a lot of the opinions coming through on this board disturbingly neglect the other important one. The two are the personal and the societal.

    Certainly, a person who is struggling with any form of sexual sin should be treated kindly, like we ought to treat anyone, but we should call them up to the same biblical standard we are all called to. Sure, they might slip up like we all do but we maintain the standard in love.

    At a societal level however, we have a movement of prominent and powerful people seeking to distort sexuality and gender on a whole new level, the natural consequence of what the sexual revolution began. We deal very differently with groups and movements than we do with the individual. The reason is this: their decisions will impact everyone, especially children. As a teacher, I already see the push to indoctrinate children into accepting sinful sexual behaviour as normal, acceptable, and as something to be honoured and applauded.

    We need to speak kindly and in love but very clearly against these movements, just as we ought to against Islamism, Nazism, or any other political or religious movement that seeks to persecute their way to power. Otherwise, the time will come when our society is under the yoke of these oppressors and we will lament the reality that the fear of man, not our inability to love people, silenced us in the hour of need.

    I understand sexual depravity acutely well and it was something I was delivered of when I repented and came to Christ. I am still tempted to it from time to time and i have stumbled, so please, no accusations that i do not understand. I do. However, homosexuality et al does not deserve a special pedestal as many in the church seem to afford it for sake of being unoffensive. It is a sin that many are attempting to pass off as not sin, calling evil good. It is a sin that wants to be centre stage and therefore, the Church must speak against it strongly, just as we would speak more strongly against other sins in other cultures throughout history according to its prominence. that is unless some western Churches still spend heaps of time on drinking blood?

    And since there is a movement that has the youth of the west in its sights, it is time people began to differentiate between the individual and the crushing wave that seeks to remake society in its own image. People will call it unloving no matter how it is presented. Better to try to love and do it imperfectly than be silenced by the endless accusations that will still come long after gay marriage is a reality and society has crushed the western Church.

    • EricP

      Personal and societal are tightly linked. Christians have a tremendous communication problem when it comes to homosexuality. When we engage with society, it is to convince them of our arguments. Using our terms (sin, sexual depravity, etc) immediately invokes their defense mechanisms. We make bad analogies (comparing it to murder, robbery) because that's how we see it. Most in the church do not grasp the gender and orientation issues are life long struggles. We don't discuss the problems of bullying, suicide, and mental illness that homosexuals suffer because of hate directed towards them. We don't realize how painful "Hate the sin, love the sinner" feels when you are the victim of it. We don't understand how scared people in our own congregations are to get help with these issues.

      We need to show love. We need to remember that homosexuals aren't just an idea in a verse, but people who are suffering. We need to speak in the world's language (but communicate our ideals). We can condemn promiscuity. We can condemn divorce, if we dare. We can emphasize the importance of marriage, that it is a life long commitment. If we do this, we will isolate the strongest gay advocates from the casual follower who sees nothing wrong in loving someone regardless of gender.

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  • james Barry

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights....You have the right to believe anything you want and I have the right not to hear about.....This is America....If you don't like it...Leave...