Sexuality, Salvation and the Supreme Court

 In the days following the United States’s Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage, my Facebook feed blew up with images of friends putting rainbows over their profile pictures and still more friends posting articles as to why this decision was good or bad based on what the Bible says. Comments on these articles were varied and wide ranging, but I noticed one question come up repeatedly, voiced by Christian and non-Christian, straight and queer – “Why is this such a big deal [to Christians]?” Here is my answer to that question.

Why This Is Such a Big Deal

For me, gay unions and the legal benefits they provide (tax, insurance, HIPPA) aren’t an issue – it seems like those things should have been taken care of long ago. What is a big deal to me are the spiritual ramifications of our nation endorsing such unions – as individuals (which I’ll talk about here) and as a nation (which I won’t discuss here). For me, this is such a big deal because it is a salvation issue. I hope you’ll stick with me for another minute to hear me out.

Condemnation or Salvation

“And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death,’ Revelation 21:6-8

“Blessed are those who wash their robes,[a] so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood,” Revelation 22:14-15 [a] alt. translation “do his commandments.”

 The first quote is God speaking, the second is Jesus. The same Jesus who said to the woman caught in adultery “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more” is the one who also says the sexually immoral shall forever remain outside of the Kingdom of God, “outside” apparently referring the Lake of Fire mentioned previously. Both of these texts are exhortations to the Church about how to live in light of Judgement Day, they are passages that declare to us who is welcome in the Kingdom of God for eternity and who is not. With such high stakes, I don’t know if we can afford to get this wrong.

Reading through the Scriptures, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that homosexuality is part of the broad category the Bible calls “sexual immorality.” Therefore, I can’t come to any other conclusion than that people actively pursuing a homosexual lifestyle are in danger of being consigned to the Lake of Fire. It sickens me to think that people I know and love might be consigning themselves to Hell because our culture champions and celebrates something God outrightly condemns. I’m even more uneasy because, as a Teacher of God’s Word and as a Pastor of His People, I am held responsible for the things I say, write and teach (or don’t) and the effect they have on the people under my care. The most terrifying thing I can imagine is standing before God and having to explain to him why I taught people to ignore his commands and live contrary to his word or why I didn’t speak out and that my silence was misunderstood as approval. For those reasons, I feel compelled to explain and defend what I believe the Bible says concerning this.

Transformation is the Fruit of Salvation

I am absolutely unconvinced by any argument that says someone can accept Jesus as their King and continue to live as they please. That is not what I see in the Scriptures. What I see is that we are called to give up everything for the privilege of knowing Jesus and entering into his Kingdom. What I see is that we are called to die to ourselves and put to death our fleshly passions as the Holy Spirit enables us so that we may be ever increasingly transformed into the likeness and character of Jesus. What I see is that faith unaccompanied by works and a transformed life is not really faith at all and will not save you. What I see is that it costs something to follow Jesus.

I don’t want to see anyone condemned to Hell. I am also aware that by teaching that homosexuality is a sin there is a possibility I am making life painfully difficult for those who love God and want to follow him and also feel attraction to the same sex. So I’d like to speak directly to anyone in that camp who might happen to read this.

To the Christians struggling with same sex attraction: I know our culture is calling to you, “Throw off those religious shackles and be who you really are. Be free. Be a hero.” The truth is, you already are a hero. You are amazing. If you are struggling with your sexuality it is because you know the truth of God’s word in your heart and you are fighting to align your life with it. You are fighting a good fight. I can only imagine the pain, difficulty and confusion you must feel – and I imagine it is very great indeed. I know it is tempting to give in or give up, but please don’t, it just isn’t worth it. Please consider that this life is fleeting, temporary and quickly over – but that eternity lasts forever. I realize that it seems like I am asking you to endure a life of struggle, hardship and loneliness, but I’m not. You can do this. You can overcome. You have what it takes to stand before God and receive a victor’s crown. I want to help you and encourage you if I can, please email me or comment below.

To any queer person still reading this: I don’t hate you. I’m not disgusted by you nor do I feel superior to you. You may not believe this, but I love you and I would rather tell you what I believe to be true about salvation and have you be angry with me than say nothing at all. I really do believe that actively pursing a homosexual lifestyle will result in a tortured eternity and I don’t want that for you. I am not against you getting married because I want you to be lonely or suffer. I am against you getting married because I believe it gives you an unfounded sense of legitimacy and acceptance which will cause you far more grief and anguish in the long term than you can possibly imagine. There is only one Supreme Court and it isn’t in the United States and the Judge seated on that bench delivered his verdict long ago. I realize you likely disagree with my beliefs, but please hear my genuine affection for you and desire for your wellbeing. I am trying to do what I believe any decent human being should do – warn others of danger.  I realize this was an extremely superficial overview of the Bible and what it says concerning sin and salvation and I’d be open to continuing this conversation with you if you’d like. You can comment below or find my email on the “About” page.

There is obviously much more that needs to be said on this, but that will have to wait for another time. Even if you disagree with my beliefs on God or the Bible, I hope you can at least understand why this is an issue for large portions of the Christian community. Sure, some people are bigoted and judgmental and riddled with fear, but most of us are sincerely concerned for the wellbeing of the LGTBQ community. We may not always articulate things well and we understand how our representation of love might well come across as hate to you, but it isn’t – we are simply trying to do what we believe is right.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this.

Ben

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3 thoughts on “Sexuality, Salvation and the Supreme Court”

  1. Tough words to speak, brother… If a person takes these quoted verses to apply to all modern LGBTQ folks, then I believe this is as loving a reflection as the interpretation permits.

    There are also, as you know, faithful followers of Jesus Christ who are not “throwing out” this law/judgment passage according to personal preference, but rather they interpret it using the same lens as Jesus and Paul taught us regarding the Old Testament law, to arrive at a different conclusion about its applicability. I believe that no matter how a person interprets certain passages or which historical lens we use, love is a strong measure of spiritual righteousness, and somehow “love covers a multitude of sins.” I’m not sure whether you’re right or wrong – but within it your love is apparent, a sadly rare sight to see from the modern conservative camp.

    If waters are muddy, err on the side of grace. 🙂

    1. Jesse,

      Thanks for your comments. There is a chance when reading an article like this to think that it was an easy, off-the-top-of-the-head procedure, and not to think about the agonizing process of saying something so seemingly severe. I appreciate your grace towards me as a person and giving me the benefit of the doubt.

      Your comments are spot on. I wasn’t trying to voice the opinion of all Christians, simply my own convictions and whoever might think similarly to me. I know a large number of people I respect who hold strongly to the opposite view I expressed, even within my own congregation and denomination. I admit, it is nearly impossible for me to understand how they arrive at their conclusions, but then I realize they probably think the same thing about me.

      I agree that Jesus and Paul both reinterpreted the Law of the Old Covenant. As I see it, some things were done away with completely (kosher laws), some things continued on but in a remarkably different from (sabbath laws) and some things made it through relatively untouched (I believe sexual purity laws fall into this category based on Paul’s letters and other passages from the New Testament, particularly the Jerusalem Council in Acts). Ultimately, how we understand those changes or lack there of will hugely determine how we interpret the rest.

      Once again, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. There isn’t any possible way to say everything I want to say in one shot or to make all the exceptions, clarifications and other disclaimers I would like. Thanks again for thinking enough of me to push back and not simply brush me off.

      Ben

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