Bernie Diaz, August 16, 2018
It should come as no surprise to Christians in the west in general and America in particular, that the secular world has fallen ‘hook, line and sinker’ for the LGBTQ agenda as the sexual or erotic revolution of our times has taken a stronghold of our society and its culture.
Pro-homosexual policies, laws, media coverage and cultural acceptance of same-sex values and orientation are generally viewed by many today as merely normative, and the transgender movement (the “T” of LGBTQ) is quickly following suit.
What is most alarming however to many Christians and more traditional and biblically minded church leaders, is the rapidity in which the revolution has been attempting to make head way in evangelical Christianity and not just the more liberal, mainline denominations which began embracing this revolution’s influence on the church more than a decade ago.
A new survey found that most LGBTQ adults in the United States are religious, and more than half claim to be Christian, to the surprise of people of faith.
The Episcopal Church’s General Convention just passed a resolution that expanded the right for gay couples to marry in all dioceses even where local bishops theologically object to same-sex marriage (including my home state of Florida).
That decision comes on the heels of the announcement made by United Methodist megachurch pastor Adam Hamilton, who stated at a Texas gathering that Christians can support gay marriage and not be at odds with orthodoxy. He argued that both sides of the debate within the UMC held high opinions of Scripture and that the differences were over interpretation instead.
Ironically, Hamilton got one thing right in that statement: right biblical interpretation leads to right authority.
More subtly and recently, a conference entitled, Revoice, hosted by Memorial Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in St. Louis, ranged from praise to condemnation over the issue of homosexuality from a Christian worldview.
The 400 attendees heard from speakers who self-identified as both Christian and gay, lesbian, or same-sex attracted. The topics discussed included the loneliness of lifelong celibacy, the nature of “mixed-orientation marriages,” and church ministry with and for lesbians and gays.
Biblically minded believers of Jesus Christ admittedly are struggling with reconciling the brokenness of homosexuals who need and desire Christian love and ministry, with those that wish to live with and love others with one foot in the church and the other in the world, continuing to identify with the LGBTQ community.
Torn Between Two Worlds
If it is to survive, the world’s moral revolution requires a total redefinition of morality, authority, personal identity, and more. The sexual revolution requires a new vocabulary and as another blogger posted, “a radically revised dictionary.”
Ultimately, as is the case with any type of moral revolution, it’s culture warriors seek to redefine reality or truth itself. And this revolution has no stopping point. I have now begun to find a plus sign at the end of LGBTQ+ in my reading as a signal of more identities and challenges to come.
This is the ideology – consciously or otherwise of the Revoice conference and books, lectures and churches like it, as its advocates are calling for a “revoicing” of the evangelical and biblical message on issues of sexuality, identity, and beyond.
The organizers of Revoice stated openly that they “envision a future Christianity where LGBT people can be open and transparent in their faith communities about their orientation and/or experience of gender dysphoria without feeling inferior to their straight, ‘cisgender’ brothers and sisters; where churches not only utilize but also celebrate the unique opportunities that life-long celibate LGBT people have to serve others; where Christian leaders boast about the faith of LGBT people who are living a sacrificial obedience for the sake of the Kingdom; and where LGBT people are welcomed into families so they, too, can experience the joys, challenges, and benefits of kinship.”
In other words, there is a movement -claiming enlightenment in evangelical circles which wishes to legitimatize if not normalize homosexuality in the church, by arguing with the logic of same-sex orientation.
This line of logic argues that while the scripture can be found to clearly condemn the homosexual lifestyle or its behaviors as sin (i.e. Lev. 19; Ro 1; 1 Cor. 6), one’s sexual orientation – a biological or physiological predisposition or nature, cannot be disputed nor easily dismissed, thereby making it possible for celibate, LGBTQ individuals who claim to love Jesus, to identify as “single and gay Christians”.
The Sin of the Body Begins with the Sin of the Heart
Of course, the great flaw in the logic of the ‘celibate, gay-Christian’ identity (orientation), is its failure to acknowledge the Bible’s teaching or doctrine on where sin- sexual and otherwise begins in mankind, which is the head and heart, before it hits the hands and rest of the body.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me (Ro. 7:18-20, ESV).
As Southern Baptist Seminarian Denny Burk and Rosaria Butterfield, an ex-lesbian activist and more recently a wife, mother and Christian author rightly explain, much of the dispute over orientation and sin, is rooted in a basic disagreement between evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism.
Ever since the Council of Trent (1545-1563), the Roman Catholic Church has insisted that involuntary incentive to sin is not itself sin. In a most revealing sentence, ‘Trent’ declared: “This concupiscence (or desire), which the apostle sometimes calls sin, the holy Synod declares that the Catholic Church has never understood it to be called sin.”
Did you get that? The Catholic Counsel again acknowledges that it’s tradition and its own understanding of its doctrine, therefore its ultimate authority, runs contrary to the language of the apostle.
Even the earliest church fathers including Augustine, a hero of the faith and theology to both Catholics and Protestants identified the desire to sin as sin, as per a sermon he preached on Romans 7 in A.D. 419,
This lust [desire/concupiscence] is not, you see—and this is a point you really must listen to above all else: you see, this lust is not some kind of alien nature. . . . It’s our debility, it’s our vice. It won’t be detached from us and exist somewhere else, but it will be cured and not exist anywhere at all [in the resurrection].
Augustine understood unchosen longing for anything outside of God’s will to be itself sinful. The Roman Catholic tradition, however, departs from Augustine on this point and reflects the view that concupiscence or the desire to sin is not itself sin, and that only conscious acts of the will can truly be judged as sinful. This explains why the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls homosexual sexual activity sinful but stops short of calling homosexual desire sinful and instead labels the desire as “objectively disordered”.
This failure to understand the nuanced though critical understanding of the sin nature of the human heart, opens the rhetorical door for the ‘gay Christian’ movement, giving credence to the idea that the temptation of same-sex orientation is just a result of the fall and is not in and of itself sinful.
Again, this issue like any other spiritual one, must be dealt with biblically and exegetically, rather than emotionally and culturally. The Bible clearly teaches that our desires—all of them, voluntary or involuntary—are morally birthed (Ja 1:14-15) and implicated. If someone desires an evil thing, then the desire itself is evil, whether it be voluntary or not (1 Cor. 10:6). This holds true for all human desire, sexual or otherwise, as illustrated by the law’s tenth commandment:
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Exo. 20:17).
Note that the English word covet, which is synonymous with the idea of lust, describes desire, and that desire itself is described as being sinful in this text among others.
In fact, the coup de grace or nail in the coffin of the non-sinful orientation and temptation movement, is displayed in the words of Jesus himself, the supposed paragon of the gay-Christian movement, who said in the Sermon on the Mount:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:27-28).
With Jesus’ similar words of condemnation having echoed upon the angry and hateful heart (Mat. 5:21-22), one should be left with little doubt that God views the temptation to sin, or the hunger or desire to sin as sinful as the acts themselves that emanate from those desires (1 Pet. 2:11).
Jesus made that distinction of sin’s origination and nature, so legalists such as the scribes and Pharisees of his day could not hide under the blanket of surface obedience and piety to the law of God.
Although we should listen to the voices of movements like Revoice at one level and pay attention to the tears, suffering and struggles of LGTBQ people yearning for relationship with a church community of faith and Christ, we cannot compromise the teaching of the biblical faith and choose to share the identify labels of those within the LGBTQ+ community who want to be in the world and of it and in the church, from their hearts to their hands.
Revoice at that level, is not the voice of Christianity we need to listen to.