Gay Christians?

I have been speaking with an especially thoughtful young person recently who asked me whether it was appropriate to speak of “Gay Christians.” My first response was to ask whether it is appropriate to speak of “Murderer Christians” or “Thief Christians” or “Idolater Christians”? When the adjective “gay” refers to homosexuals, the expression “Gay Christian” is an oxymoron. Some may be almost entirely unaware of the older, original sense of “gay,” i.e., happy. Equally remarkable is the fact that it now seems widely accepted that the practice of homosexuality is quite compatible with a Christian profession. There is even a “Gay Christian Network” internet program. They must be right, after all famous evangelical celebrities have endorsed them. Is not that how truth and reality works? If a movement gets enough influential people to endorse its views and practices, then that makes it true, right? No, it does not.

This is the fallacy Argumentum ad populum or the appeal to popularity. A million Frenchmen can be wrong. Most of the Germans supported the Third Reich. Most of the Japanese supported the Emperor in World War II, including the attack on Pearl Harbor. All those folks were wrong. Mass movements are often wrong. Ideas and practices become accepted for a variety of reasons but their acceptance, even widespread acceptance doesn’t make them true or right.

What Does Scripture Say?
Of course whether my comparison between homosexuality and theft or murder holds depends on whether homosexuality (i.e., homosexual activity) is, in fact, sin. There are essentially three approaches to this question:

  1. The Bible Doesn’t Speak About Homosexuality
  2. The Bible Approves of Homosexuality
  3. The Bible Regards Homosexuality As Sin

Whole volumes, of course, have been written on this question over the last 30 years or so and a single blog post cannot sort them all out but there is strong prima facie evidence that views #1 and #2 are wrong.

Leviticus 20:13 (ESV) says,

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination

The Hebrew Bible can be blunt but it can also be restrained, polite, and in this case, some have used its politeness, its restrained language against it. In this case, however, the Hebrew Bible is a little more explicit than the even more polite ESV translation. “A man that lies [with] a male [in] bed [as] a woman….” The intent seems pretty clear. The concern is not with two guys taking a nap. The verb “to lie down” is used euphemistically in Hebrew to refer to sexual relations and the inclusion of the adjective “male” and the noun “bed” make the intent clear. There was also a civil punishment attached to this prohibition: death. No one was going to be killed for sleeping but they could be put to death for same sex (homosexual) relations. An “enlightened” and “liberated” (late) modern person might not like what the text says but it was clear enough in its original context to serve as the basis for criminal prosecution (on the basis of 2 or 3 witnesses) and capital punishment.

One might object, “But that’s the Old Testament. We are not under the Old Testament any longer.” That reply is misleading and ultimately irrelevant to the question: does the Bible speak to homosexuality (i.e., homosexual activity)? Leviticus 20:13 is in the Bible and it speaks to homosexuality. Ergo #1 is false. Does the Bible approve of homosexuality? Leviticus 20:13 describes homosexuality as an “abomination” therefore, no, the Bible does not approve of it. No, Jonathan and David were not homosexual lovers. Not every natural, expression of masculine affection is a signal of homosexual attraction or relations. One could only read that narrative this way in our perverse, over-sexualized culture.

It is true that the Old Testament, strictly defined as the Mosaic Covenant, the 613 commandments of the national, temporary, typological revelation of God to national Israel, has been fulfilled by Christ. Nevertheless, the Christian church has always rejected the Marcionite doctrine that there are two Gods in Scripture, a mean Old Testament God and a nice, loving, New Testament God. That was the view held by the Marcionites in the 2nd century AD and later by the Manichaeans. It was rejected as heresy in both cases because the New Testament explicitly teaches the contrary. The Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4 says,

Hear O Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one

The NT quotes or alludes the Shema. Our Lord Jesus quoted it in Mark 12:29. Paul alludes to it in Romans 3:30, in Galatians 3;20, and so does James in James 2:19. The New Testament uses the same language for God that the OT uses. The NT regularly quotes the OT regarding God’s disapproval of sin and even, e.g., Hebrews 12, intensifies its language about God’s hatred for sin and the coming judgment. No one preached about the coming judgment more than Jesus himself.

There are not two Gods in Scripture and though advent of Christ did fulfill all the types and shadows under Moses, all the sacrifices and civil laws and punishments, and though the national covenant with Israel has expired, nevertheless, Leviticus 20:13 does still communicate God’s moral disapproval of homosexuality.

Further, the New Testament continues to condemn homosexuality. In Romans 1:26–27 (ESV) Paul writes:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

As in Leviticus, Paul is clear but relatively polite or restrained in his language. That restraint, however, cannot be used to argue that the passage does not speak to or against homosexual acts. The context is established in v. 18 where Paul writes, “For the wrath of God lis revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” So, he is elaborating on the theme of God’s moral disapproval of sin. He proceeds to give examples of egregiously sinful behavior. In v. 23 he gives idolatry as an example. In v. 24 he turns to sexual immorality, to “the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves” which he connects again (v. 25) directly to idolatry. Violation of the first three commandments is connected to the violation of the seventh commandment. Thus, the context is idolatry and sexual immorality. Women exchanging “the use according to nature” (την φυσικην) for that which is “outside of nature” (παρα φυσιν) is a reference to sexual behavior. Paul wasn’t complaining about economic (business) behavior or ordinary domestic questions. In v. 27, he includes men in his complaint. Thus, both Lesbian acts and male homosexual acts are included and condemned. The frame of reference is sex and the boundary is nature, that which is of use or profit (χρησιν). Homosexual acts are biologically fruitless, they cannot produce children. According to Paul, the only product of homosexual activity is the “due penalty” for the activity.

He is even more pointed in 1Corinthians 6:9 and 1Tim 1:10, where he condemns the “αρσενοκοιται” (arsenokoitai). The standard definition (Bouer, Arnt, Gingrich, Danker) is “a male who practices homosexuality, pederast, sodomite.” This is the way the word was understood in early Christian, post-canonical usage though it occurs in the same sense in the Sibylline Oracles (6th cent BC) ii.73. See Moulton and Milligan s.v.

Of course, we want to avoid the etymological fallacy (deducing the meaning of a word by adding up its letters or component parts) because it does not always work and can produce misleading results but in this case it works because usage confirms what adding up the letters suggests. αρσην (arsen) = male and κοιτης (koites) = bed or euphemistically for sexual relations.

However uncomfortable it makes us late moderns, the text of 1Corinthians 6:9 is quite clear:

“Or do you not know that the unjust (αδικοι) will not inherit the kingdom of God? Neither will you who deceive (πλανασθε) nor the sexually immoral (πορνοι) nor idolaters (ειδωλολατραι), nor adulterers (μοιχοι), nor the effeminate (μαλακοι), nor homosexuals (αρσενοκοιται).”

I translate μαλακοι as “effeminate” because of the way it’s used in the LXX (the Greek translation of the Hebrew/Aramaic Scriptures) for the “soft parts” and is used elsewhere in the sense of “effeminate, of a catamite, a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness, 1 Cor. 6:9” (BAGD, s.v.).

Paul was quite familiar with Corinth as a fairly depraved, cosmopolitan port city and he was well aware of the sorts of sexual immorality that were openly practiced there as elsewhere (e.g., Ephesus had pornographic graffiti that would make us blush). It seems clear that one thing, effeminate men who submit themselves to sexual abuse, perhaps homosexual prostitutes, led him to the last category, homosexuals.

Paul is announcing God’s judgment on several classes of sinful behaviors and warning those who commit them impenitently (without sorrow or struggle) that they must acknowledge their sin for what it is and turn to and put their trust in Jesus the Savior who obeyed and died for heterosexual and homosexual sinners and who offers free acceptance with God on the basis of faith (trust) in Jesus, the gracious Savior of helpless sinners.

So, there is ample biblical evidence that, taken in its original context, understood according to the intention of the human authors and in its broader canonical context (the Old and New Testaments together regarded as one, unfolding story of redemption and revelation) for the conclusion that the Bible regards homosexuality (i.e., the sexual acts) and even male effeminacy, i.e., the now widespread so-called “gender bending” that blurs the lines between males and females) as sin.

Gay Christians?
Above I sketched the biblical evidence for the claim that homosexuality is a sin. Now I want to turn to the  the argument that some make in defense of the notion that there are such things as “gay Christians” is the appeal to providence: “God made me this way, therefore it cannot be wrong.” First, the premise is false and second, the conclusion doesn’t follow from the (flawed) premise.

Since there are practicing homosexuals who profess Christian faith, let’s get back to basic Christian doctrine. According to Genesis 1, God created all that is by the power of his Word. Everything he created was “good.” Indeed, between v.1 and v. 31 the text says six times that creation was “good” or “very good.” In the beginning, in creation, before the fall, there was no human sin. There was spiritual corruption, among the angels, prior to Adam’s fall but Adam was not sinful nor did he have sinful proclivities. There was no disharmony between Adam and Eve or between them and nature. It is essential to understand this reality as best we can because our tendency is to imagine that the fallen world we know now is the way things have always been. We should not, however, read our experience as fallen, sinful, rebellious creatures back into creation.

So, no, it is not true that “God made me this way.” All sin, including homosexuality, is a consequence of the fall but God did not make anything fallen. Our sinful dispositions, attitudes, and acts are the consequences of our fall in Adam. We sin because we are sinners. On analogy with the other sins forbidden by God’s law, why cannot the idolater, the coveter, the thief, the heterosexual fornicator or adulterer or the murderer make the same argument? Of course he may not. God has not violated his own law. God did not sin. He did not corrupt the world. We did.

“That may be,” one might argue “but is not God in control of all that happens? If so, why did he ordain that I should be born with these inclinations?” Again, as a consequence of the fall, every human is born with sinful inclinations. There are as many ways to transgress God’s law as there are imaginations and people. We are deeply corrupted by sin. Every faculty of our soul is corrupted by sin. We do not think as we ought. We do not will as we ought and we do not love as we ought. By nature, Scripture teachers, we are inclined to hate God and our neighbor.

If one is asking if I can explain how God can be sovereign over all things and not morally liable for the evil that happens in the world, I reply by saying that’s a great mystery to which no one has ever offered a completely satisfactory answer. Scripture does address it plainly in Job 38 and Romans 9. The short answer is that God says that we sinful humans do not have standing to charge him with injustice. We are not competent. Further, whatever our difficulties with the mysteries of providence, it is not as if God has not fully involved himself in our predicament. God the Son graciously became incarnate, faced every temptation we have faced (Heb 4)—indeed he knows temptation in a way we can never know in this life because he did not succumb to it. Are you willing to shake your fist at Jesus, who obeyed, died, and was raised for the justification of sinners? Only a fool says yes.

There are other reasons to think that it’s not true to think that homosexuality is normal. Most of the studies (here is a recent study) I’ve seen suggest homosexuality is usually connected to serious dysfunction in one’s nuclear family. Alcoholism, sexual abuse, neglect (physical and emotional) are factors. Though the statistical likelihood of homosexuality doesn’t seem to be much greater than it has been for decades—by now surely everyone knows that the old Kinsey numbers were badly skewed by their sample population—homosexuality surely plays a vastly more prominent role in our culture than it did just a few years ago. There is obviously a correlation between the breakdown of the nuclear family, the rise of divorce, the rise of substance abuse (drugs and alcohol) and the general collapse of the culture and the increased visibility of homosexuality in popular culture and in the educational establishment. There may be a small percentage of a given population born with a biological proclivity to homosexuality but that is probably true for other disorders and sins. Remember, it was not very long ago that homosexuality was listed in standard psychiatric diagnostic manuals as a treatable disorder. The evidence hasn’t changed but the political-cultural-social-economic influence of homosexuals has. I’m a free-market guy but we should be honest about the increased economic clout of homosexuals. They compose an economically attractive market. They tend to be more highly educated, with a higher disposable income (no kids to feed) and they spend. Mass media = advertising. All of it is advertising. The entertainment and news programs all serve advertisers and most advertisers only care about the quarterly earning reports. They do not care about the social consequences of their programming and advertising. Sometimes Marx is right.

Further, even were it true that “God made me this way” it does not follow that, therefore the moral law no longer applies. No one is permitted to leverage the clear, unequivocal teaching of Scripture with his private interpretation of providence or natural revelation. Scripture clearly teaches that homosexuality (as defined above) is sin. It’s against nature. Your claim that “God made me this way” does not grant one permission to violate the clear teaching of Scripture.

Every Christian has sins with which he must struggle. Jesus did not call the Christian life a daily crucifixion for no reason. Those tempted by homosexuality are no more exempt than heterosexual sinners from this call to discipleship. Thieves must daily repent of their desire to steal (instead of working). Coveters must daily repent of their desire to have what God has not given them. Idolaters must repent of their desire to make a god in their own image. Liars must repent of their desire to control outcomes by twisting the truth.

Look, the culture always approves of one sin or another. Right now, homosexuality is fashionable. It’s the current way to rebel against God but fashion is not necessarily truth or righteousness. Of course I would rather see homosexuals embrace the Christian faith than repudiate it but it must be the whole Christian faith and not an edited version conveniently amputated of its moral teaching.

More on this topic»

This essay was originally published on the HB in 2013. It has been slightly revised.

    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. More is going on with the “gay Christian” movement then what it appears to be. Gabriel Hughes, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, wrote “A Review Of Single, Gay, Christian by Gregory Coles” Sept. 8, 2017.

    “Does Greg understand holiness and sanctification? Does he know what it means to repent? Does he understand grace? Not taking anything for granted, does he even understand what it means to be a Christian? Greg makes allusions to the gospel, but he never actually says what it is. He might say something like, “Jesus died for me,” but he doesn’t explain what that means. Also absent are words like justification, sanctification, redemption, salvation, or righteousness. Greg talks about sin and repentance only in the abstract. In fact, I’m not even convinced Greg understands what homosexuality is.

    “Being gay doesn’t mean you’re actively having sex, in the same way that being straight doesn’t mean you can’t be single and committed to sexual abstinence.” All that tells me is that the strategy to normalize terms like gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender as an identity has worked, and Greg has naively bought into it.

    In 1988, a group of prominent homosexuals gathered in Warrentown, VA to map out a plan that would make homosexuality accepted by the general public. AFTER THE BALL: HOW AMERICA WILL CONQUER ITS FEAR AND HATRED OF GAYS IN THE 90s ( Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen) Part of that strategy was to portray gays as victims and to make those who oppose homosexuals into vicious haters, using bumper-sticker rhetoric and appeals to emotions rather than facts and logic.

  2. Actually, some who aare drawn to Christ struggle with many different kinds of sins. Are there wrathful Christians? Lustful Christians? Christians who sometimes break the Sabbath or take the Lord’s name in vain? Yes. Hence, it is proper to say that there are Christians struggling with sexual issues (think King David?), including homosexuality.

    Of course, this is not to say that Christians must affirm homosexuality, or that we should bless homosexual “marriage”. We should continue to recognize homosexuality (like heterosexual lust, fornication, etc.) as a sin. But it is possible that there’s a brother who is truly regenerate, but struggling against same-sex attraction and lifestyle; just as I struggle with a testy temper, a lustful heterosexual eye, and failure to properly use the Lord’s Day (among other sins).

    • Peter,

      Indeed, there are but to use a sexual sin to define ourselves, to qualify our Christianity, is most problematic for the obvious reason that I noted in the article. We would rightly blanche at “Murderer Christian” or “Thieving Christian” and the like. Scripture says,”such were some of you” and “such will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

      Yes, we all struggle. Romans 7 is for us but the old man/flesh does not define us.

  3. Here’s how this argument plays out nowadays. The following is an excerpt from another blog, one run by a moderator who is a pastor of a faithful, confessional “sideline” denomination. His post is a reiteration of blog posts between an interloper from a liberal “mainline” denomination, who is condemning the “sideline’s” hard stance against SSM, and a gay member of one of the “sideline’s” congregations. All of the same old arguments are presented by the “mainline” commenter for why the church did wrong things against humanity down through the centuries and therefore anything it says as hard and fast interpretation of scripture is out of date and should be ignored. He has even gone so far as to misquote Lowell’s point in his poem. The gay church member has some interesting push-back against his faulty reasoning.

    The interplay between these two is separated by comments from the blog moderator. I have substituted any names for X’s and the names of particular denominations for “mainline” (liberal) and “sideline” (confessional). Here it is:

    Our XXX website is very blessed to have a truthful, revealing and Scriptural profession of a man who struggles with the sin of homosexuality. His words are instructive for all of us as to what homosexuality is and how it is to be addressed. His name is XXXXX and he has become a regular commenter on the site. The specific comment I am referring to was made on a post from August 15th. It is actually two comments. They were given in response to two telling liberal comments in defense of the “mainline’s” position on sexuality. Before getting to XXXXX’s comments let’s consider the liberal battle slogans to which he responded.

    They both came from a commenter by the name of XXX XXXXX. Here is his first sloganized attempt to defend the unbiblical position of the “mainline.”

    Mainline Commenter:
    “new occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth.” So wrote Jas. Russell Lowell 1819-1891). Scriptures have been utilized by reactionaries to seek to promote or deny slavery, women’s full participation, hair styles, jewelry, round earth, food, restrictions, miscegenation (sic), right of kings, and many more matters now seen as totally dated and irrelevant. What lasts is “let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry. Micah 5:24) Three cheers for the “mainline” that has sought to do just that!

    This is the liberal slogan of “peace and justice.” In this approach the Scriptures are reduced to mere moralism. Here is how this works. Because the forgiveness of sins through the blood atonement of Christ is considered an obsolete and unenlightened idea by the liberals, they are left with little more than the moralism that says we are to be good people, and in the case of “peace and justice,” to be especially good to the poor and those discriminated against.
    Here is XXXXX’s response to this call to let peace and justice flow…

    Sideline commenter:
    Um, no thanks. Justice would send me to hell. I would rather have forgiveness, if you don’t mind. Praise God for the “sideline” which is one of the few denominations where forgiveness through Christ in the Means of Grace is still the central message.

    Another sloganized approach in support of the unscriptural “mainline’s” approach to sexuality is the hundred year old theology of “Gospel reductionism.” XXX XXXXX put it this way:

    Mainline commenter:
    Well, I thought that ”Love your neighbor as yourself” took a pretty high place on the theological pecking order and was not the “road to hell” as XXXXX suggests. Jesus made loving neighbor a very direct litmus test of how we should conduct ourselves in God’s world, not deny women the right to proclaim the Word or castigate gays for who they are or any of the many of the other adiaphoral issues.

    This approach reduces God’s word of law and Gospel to the Gospel only. The law is seen as antiquated, culturally generated, harsh and obtrusive. God is love and so anything done in the name of love is acceptable, including homosexual love. This approach rejects the notion that all of God’s word is inerrant. It is only words of Gospel, love and forgiveness that are considered truly from God. Here is XXXXX’s response to the Gospel reduction approach:

    Sideline commenter:
    I said justice is the road to hell. God’s justice proclaims us all sinners deserving of condemnation. And homosexuality is hardly an adiaphoral issue for me. As I have posted on this blog before, I am homosexual. But God’s Word says that homosexual intercourse is wrong. I have looked at all the pro-gay interpretation of the relevant Scripture passages and, frankly, they violate just about every rule of scriptural interpretation and common sense.
    Therefore, a person who truly loves me will tell me that homosexual sex is a sin, call me to repentance should I happen to fall, offer me the forgiveness of Christ and give me their fellowship. And, for the record, I have never met a single “sideline” pastor who did not do these things for me in a very loving and forgiving manner. I have been very pleased with all the “sideline” pastors to whom I have confessed and with whom I have spoken. A person who does not do this does not love me.

    XXXXX bases his notion of sexuality on all of God’s word. He recognizes that there is sin, that it must be confessed and that God’s forgiveness of confessed sin results in power to overcome the temptation. XXXXX’s approach is simple, Godly and Scriptural and we thank him for his courage and for his knowledge.

  4. Check out Janet Mefferd’s podcast from 5-18-18. She discusses a revoice conference to be held at a PCA church in St. Louis at the end of July, with Tom Littleton, who is a SB pastor. This conference features speakers, who are involved with the Gospel Coalition, they encourage acceptance of unrepentant members from the LGBT community into our churches. It seems the conference speakers have been mentored by the likes of Tim Keller, D. A. Carson, and Al Mohler! Tom Littleton asks, “where are these leaders taking us?” Shocking! One of the workshops is on sexual minorities and ministry, “and it asks the question, what rôle is there for the unique experiences and gifts that sexual minorities bring to the table?”

    • There seems to have been some unfair/ignorant characterizations of this particular conference among the talking heads. Aquila Report recently posted a response from the pastor of the conference’s host church, and I’d strain to find an objection to its content and purpose (except, perhaps, the critique Clark offers here of adjectival primacy, which he also responds to). It affirms the prohibition on all homosexual behavior for starters. The support it wants to offer is within the context of ‘the historic, Christian sexual ethic’.

      ‘What does Revoice believe about human sexuality?
      We believe that the Bible restricts sexual activity to the context of a marriage covenant, which is defined in the Bible as the emotional, spiritual, and physical union of a man and a woman that is ordered toward procreation. . . .’

      As for the ‘acceptance of unrepentant members from the LGBT community into our churches’, that would depend on what is meant by accepting someone into the church. Repentance certainly should be required for church membership, but churches aren’t in the business of prohibiting non-Christians from attending worship services, are they? Is not one of the purposes of the preached Word to condemn sin and proclaim to all, Christian and non-Christian alike, the gospel’s call to ongoing repentance? Or is there perhaps a more fundamental disagreement about the proper relationship between a local congregation and non-Christians?


        • Here Rev Johnson’s response to some of the questions raised by the Revoice conference.

          Though it is helpful in certain respects it leaves some important questions unanswered. Others most certainly will not find some of the answers satisfactory.

          What if we substituted “thief“ for “gay” or LGBT? What about “heterosexual adulterer”? Go through Rev Johnson’s response and make the substitution. Would that be satisfactory?

          Is the desire to reach out and include coming at the cost of the call to repentance?

          What about “and such were some of you”? Paul says:

          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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God ( 1 Cor 6:9-11).

          The early post-apostolic church faced some of the same questions. The Greco-Roman world was full of “gender bending.” Men dressed as women. Homosexual behavior was fairly common.

          I cannot imagine the early church adopting some of the language that the Re-voice conference has chosen.

          Further, though to some 1973 might seem like a very long time ago, to others it seems like yesterday. This conference, taken in conjunction with other developments within the PCA, seems to echo some language and patterns of the PCUS, from which the PCA separated.

    • One of the marks of a true church is the use of discipline for correcting faults because it governs itself according to the Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it, Belgic 29. The practices of the LGBT community are soundly condemned by the Word of God. It is the responsibility of the church to make it clear to such people that their behaviour condemns them and must be repented. That is not only proper discipline of members, and the loving thing to do, but should also be done with those who visit regularly, just as we should in the case of any other open sin. God does not condone sin. We send the wrong message when we are accepting of those who practice sexual immorality and want to accommodate them in our churches.

    • Angela, I think you’re still responding to something that isn’t the case. Read through Rev. Johnson’s piece, which I and Dr. Clark linked to. While one may yet find it unsatisfying in some respects, the conference and host church are quite clear on the sinfulness of homosexuality. There is absolutely no indication that they are ‘accepting’ or ‘welcoming’ in the sense that they condone it or consider it distinct from other sins in terms of the discipline and repentance it requires.

      As for your remaining objections, Dr. Clark, I suspect there may, in part, be a terminology problem here, for in today’s parlance, ‘gay’ (and similar terms) can indicate someone who engages in sexual behavior with someone of the same sex, or it may indicate someone who has a desire or predilection to do so. I.e., someone who, when couched in Christian theological terms, prone to the temptation. As Johnson puts it, interchangeable with ‘same-sex attracted’. For example, when a person ‘comes out’ to describe himself as gay, he may have never committed a homosexual act in his life. That’s just part of the way the word operates in English.

      That’s not the case with thief, murderer, or adulterer. We can’t say ‘thief’ and mean it to signify a mere temptation to steal. It would be inaccurate for me to describe myself as a thief if I’ve never actually stolen. English doesn’t work that way. We would instead have to describe with a phrase, like ‘someone who is frequently tempted to steal’. But the word ‘gay’ does cover both grounds: praxis and temptation.

      ‘Alcoholic’ is perhaps a close equivalent, as it too can mean both someone who overdrinks and someone who is completely sober but for whom giving into the temptation to overdrink remains a reality. On the other hand, ‘drunkard’ can only mean the former. Thus I think the ESV adroitly translates that passage with ‘men who practice homosexuality’ and ‘drunkards’, rather than ‘homosexuals’ and ‘alcoholics’.

      After all, Paul in that letter isn’t saying, ‘You were once tempted by idolatry, but now you aren’t.’ Indeed, the reason he writes there is an acknowledgement of the persistence of temptation even among the saved. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with someone saying, ‘I am a Christian who daily struggles with the temptation to engage in homosexual behavior, but by God’s grace alone I resist it.’ And that’s the meaning intended when orthodox Christians might use the phrase ‘gay Christian’, as the conference is doing.

      Now perhaps this dual usage is precisely why LGBT terms ought to be avoided when talking about Christians: so that one can clearly delineate the praxis from the temptation. And perhaps in reducing what is being signified to a single adjective, it buries that temptation too deeply into the Christian’s sense of identity. As Rev. Johnson describes, there was a struggle in landing on the prudent terminology, and perhaps they erred. I myself tend to think so. I only wish to point out that actual English usage doesn’t allow for a clean analogy between ‘gay’ and ‘thief’.

      What I think we should be watching for, however, when observing a developing pastoral move like this conference, is how we talk about some within the heart. Will they talk about lusting after someone of the same sex the same way Jesus did of adultery? Do they rightly distinguish between sexual temptation as an effect of sin, but not a sin itself which condemns and must be repented of; and the fact that an indulgence of that effect of sin, even if only in one’s heart, *is* a sin which condemns and must be repented of. How well will their theology of sin allow them to clearly distinguish these categories? Do they maintain precision, or does the slope become slippery? I believe that, more than anything, is an indicator of how this will develop.

    • Steven, I have read the article you linked. People who are called LGBT are people who engage in behavior that is clearly sinful in God’s sight. It is their behavior, not their person, that is being objected to, but as is often the case, in order to legitimise themselves, they object that if you don’t accept us as members of a sexual minority, you are rejecting us as people. The Revoice conference treats the LGBT as a cultural minority, and in doing so buys into this idea that if we don’t accept them as LGBT, we are rejecting them as persons. One of the questions that will be addressed is: “Is there anything admirable that we can acknowledge within the literature, art, and struggles of the ‘queer’ culture?” Stop the behavior, repent, and sin no more, as Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery!

    • Steven, you object, “there is absolutely no indication that they are ‘accepting’ or ‘welcoming’ in the sense that they condone it or consider it distinct from other sins in terms of the discipline and repentance it requires.” Yet the focus of the Rewind conference is on accepting the LGBT as a unique class of sinners identified by their sins, as though these sins are intrinsic characteristics, something they are born with, and unable to change, so we must accept them as LGBT because that is what they are. In that way, they are accommodating and welcoming unrepentant LGBT sinners as a special group. Isn’t that just what has been happening in society? The LGBT has managed to present themselves as a sexual and cultural minority that should have rights to practice their lifestyle, and so they have made the case that to deny them that right is discrimination and bigotry. By accepting the LGBT as a special class of sinners with their own literature, art, struggles, and ‘queer culture’ are we not accommodating and accepting them as they are defined their sin, and that they therefore need to be accepted that way?

  5. The logical fallacy you are referring to at the beginning is actually an”argumentum ad populum” (i.e., proposition x is true, because 51% of the people support proposition x). “Argumentum ad bacculum” is when someone threatens someone with violence if they don’t support a proposition (i.e., proposition x is true, because if you disagree, I’ll take away all your worldly possessions).

  6. A clear, thoughtful and Biblical argument!

    Could I twist your arm to do the same on the “other” massive moral evil plaguing the Western Church, abortion?

  7. What about “Adultery & Christian”? Marriage definition was redefined by Evangelicals who are in “remarriages”. The Lord Jesus Christ and Paul tell us plainly that remarriages are nothing more than adulterous unions! You want to see the true definition of marriage return, then there needs to be a mass exodus of adulterous unions not unlike Ezra . Then we need to preach, teach and live the truth that marriage is one man and one woman for life…no excuses, no exceptions.

    • All divorces are actions of hardheartedness. (Mt 19:8; Mk 10:5) If divorce ends a marriage, then we must redefine marriage other than the Lord’s definition (Mt 19:4-6; Mk 10:6-9). The simple understanding by the Lord and Paul (1 Cor 7:10,11) is that divorce can never end a marriage or why would “remarriage” be adultery. Believers are called to a higher standard and we are to be an example of Gospel through marriage as Christ’s love for us is an example of marriage (Eph 5:31-32). Divorce has never been a reflection of Christ’s love, and never will be. Remarriage is grounded in the flesh and not the spirit of Christ. If someone makes a one-flesh covenant vow, it is never contingent upon the actions of the other spouse, rather it is an example of Christ never leaving or forsaking us.

      • Neil,

        As you must know, our Lord said,

        It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matt 5:31–32; ESV).

        The clause “except…” clearly tells us that sexual immorality on the part of the spouse is a ground for divorce and that such a divorce is not sin. Further, Paul says in 1 Cor 7:15, “But if the unbelieving partner leaves, let him leave. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.” In the Roman world that “leaving” (χωρίζεται) was a divorce. The Christian is no longer bound if the unbeliever leaves, i.e., deserts the believer. These are two legitimate grounds for ending a marriage. If the marriage has been dissolved, the parties are free to re-marry. This is not a novel view. This was Calvin’s view, who defended his brother (Antoine) in a divorce action against Antoine’s wife, whom he caught in the act of adultery with the household servant. The Westminster Confession (24.5) says:

        5. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, giveth just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract. In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce: and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.

        The WCF represented the Reformed consensus in the 17th century.

    • There is an exception: unfaithfulness. Matthew 19:9. I think you could even apply that to the analogy of marriage and the relationship between Christ and His church. Salvation depends on trusting in Christ alone. When the unfaithful church looks looks to any other idol savior, God removes the candle stick and leaves her in spiritual darkness. Rev. 2: 5

  8. “Sodomites, not content with the common manner of committing fornication, polluted themselves in a way most filthy and detestable … for when like beasts they were carried away to those things which gratified the senses of the body, they observed no moderation, but gorged themselves excessively like the swine which roll themselves in stinking mud.”
    – John Calvin
    Commentary on Jude

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