Letter to a Gay Man in the Churches of Christ, Part 1

gay Readers,

I received an email requesting that I post something on being gay in the Churches of Christ. I’ve split the email into 8 parts, to fit my answers more closely to the reader’s questions and because his poignant email raises several important issues that merit careful thought and a comprehensive response.

I thought at first of responding privately, but the letter asks for a post, and I’ve come to think that’s the right response. After all, as the writer says, most of our churches have gay members. Most churches have homosexual members who’ve chosen to be single and chaste, surrendering their sexuality to Jesus.

But few would be willing to admit their struggles to the congregation. And this says much about how much further we have to go to truly be like Jesus.

I invite my readers to join in with any other words of encouragement you think appropriate. I make no claim to expertise on this topic.

Jay,

I stumbled upon your blog this evening [identifying information omitted]. I have been reading for over an hour and could go on reading. I really like your insights and your style of writing.

I’d like to ask you if you would at some point write on the topic of homosexuality in the churches of Christ. I think the church has its head buried in the sand by not dealing with the issue. Undoubtedly there are gay people in the church. Usually they’re in the singles class, but of course more and more married men have been caught in gay relationships.

Dear ____,

I’m flattered and humbled that you chose me, of all people, to ask about how to deal with being a gay Christian in the Churches of Christ.

Let me begin by saying I have no training at all in counseling — and it shows. My skills, such as they are, are in theology, that is, in interpreting God’s written word. And so forgive me for answering in theological terms.

But before getting to the theology, it’s critical that you realize that you’re accepted and loved by Jesus for who you are. Even though I conclude that homosexual actions are sinful, being a homosexual — having homosexual urges — is not. God never condemns us for how we are made.

(Psa 103:11-14) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

In other words, God knows that we are all made less-than-perfectly and treats us accordingly, that is, with compassion and mercy.

I’m working on a series based on some of the writings of N. T. Wright, an Anglican bishop and likely the most important Christian theologian living today. I’m a Wright fan, because he’s conservative, in the sense of taking the Bible’s words and authority very seriously. But he’s unorthodox in being willing to provide answers contrary to accepted views.

I thought he would be particularly appropriate to quote because the Anglican/Episcopalian Church has wrestled with the Biblical treatment of gays, and Wright was part of the committee that sought to find a means of dealing with the impact of the ordination of gay bishop Gene Robinson.

Here’s how he explains the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality from an interview publishing in the National Catholic Reporter [paragraphing is modified to facilitate reading on a blog]:

NCR: There are two inter-related questions concerning the current crisis within Anglicanism. The first is a moral analysis of homosexuality, the second how one understands ecclesial communion. Let’s start with the first point. One locus for the debate over homosexuality is Romans 1:26-28. How do you understand what Paul is saying?

Wright: I’ve written quite extensively about Romans in various places, particularly my commentary in the New Interpreter’s Bible, and anything that I say should be filled in with what’s there. The main thing to realize about Romans 1:26 and following is that it isn’t just a side swipe out of the blue.

Paul’s argument at that point is grounded in the narrative of Genesis 1, 2 and 3. As often, he’s referring to it obliquely, but it’s there under the text. He’s drawing on it at various stages. He sees the point about being human as being to reflect God’s image, which he says in a number of places in his writings. He clearly sees that in Genesis 1 it is male plus female who are made in the image of God.

He chooses the practice of homosexuality, not as a random feature of “look, they do all sorts of wicked things.” His point is that when people in a society are part of an idolatrous system — not necessarily that they individually are specifically committing acts of idolatry, but when the society as a whole worships that which is not the true God — then its image-bearingness begins to deconstruct. An obvious sign of that for Paul, granted Genesis 1, is the breakup of male-female relations and the turning off in other directions.

Then it’s important to see how that is stitched into the argument that he mounts later on in the letter about how humankind is restored. When in chapter four he talks about Abraham, he talks about Abraham specifically did the things which in chapter one that human beings did not. In chapter one, they refused to know God, to honor God as God, to acknowledge God’s power and deity, and all the rest of it. This is the end of Romans 4. The result of Abraham acknowledging God and God’s power, recognizing that God had the power to do what he promised and giving God glory, which is the exact opposite word-by-word of what he said in chapter one, is that Abraham and Sarah were able to conceive children even in their old age.

It’s a specific reversal, the coming back together of male plus female, and then the being fruitful, which is the command of Genesis 1: “Be fruitful and multiply.” This is why he can talk in Romans 5 of how in Christ, who has fulfilled the promises to Abraham, what God wanted to do through Adam has been put back on the rails.

Can you draw a straight line between what Paul understood by “homosexuality” and how we understand it?

Not a straight line, because there is no one understanding today of what constitutes homosexuality. There are many different analyses.

As a classicist, I have to say that when I read Plato’s Symposium, or when I read the accounts from the early Roman empire of the practice of homosexuality, then it seems to me they knew just as much about it as we do.

In particular, a point which is often missed, they knew a great deal about what people today would regard as longer-term, reasonably stable relations between two people of the same gender. This is not a modern invention, it’s already there in Plato.

The idea that in Paul’s today it was always a matter of exploitation of younger men by older men or whatever … of course there was plenty of that then, as there is today, but it was by no means the only thing. They knew about the whole range of options there.

Indeed, in the modern world that isn’t an invention of the 20th century either. If you read the recent literature, for example Graham Robb’s book Strangers, which is an account of homosexual love in the 19th century, it offers an interesting account of all kinds of different expressions and awarenesses and phenomena. I think we have been conned by Michel Foucault into thinking that this is all a new phenomena.

So the attempt to get around Paul’s language on homosexuality by suggesting that its cultural referent was different than ours doesn’t work?

At any point in Paul, whether it’s justification by faith or Christology or anything else, you have to say, of course this is culturally conditioned. He’s speaking first century Greek, for goodness’ sake. Of course you have to understand it in its context.

But when you do that, it turns out to be a rich and many-sided thing. You cannot simply say, as some people have done, that in the first century homosexuality had to do with cult prostitution, and we’re not talking about that, therefore it’s something different. This simply won’t work.

So yes, it is impossible to say, we’re reading this in context and that makes it different. What can you still say, of course, and many people do, is that, “Paul says x and I say y.” That’s an option that many in the church take on many issues. When we actually find out what Paul said, some say, “Fine, and I disagree with him.” That raises all kinds of other issues about how the authority of scripture actually works in the church, and at what point the authority structure of scripture-tradition-reason actually kicks in.

Can a Christian morality rooted in scripture approve of homosexuality?

The word “homosexuality” is an abstract noun. What in the Anglican Church we’ve tried to do is restrict the debate to the practice of homosexual relations.

Of course, many people claim to be “rooted” in scripture in a variety of ways. But if a church is actually determined to be faithful to scripture, then not only at that point but at several others — for instance, some of our economic practices — we would need to take a long, hard look and say, maybe we’re getting this wrong.

So a Christian morality faithful to scripture cannot approve of homosexual conduct?

Correct. That is consonant with what I’ve said and written elsewhere.

I apologize for the long quotation, but Wright’s analysis is important, I think, because so many have tried, based on the theories he addresses, to argue out of the Biblical teaching that homosexual acts are sin .

I should add that Wright’s conclusions match my own, arrived at independently, reached from a gospel-based hermeneutic, as I explain here, which is part of this series on hermeneutics.

Whenever Jesus or Paul is asked a question dealing with sexuality or marriage, they refer back to Genesis 1-2 as describing the ideal and the curse in Genesis 3 as the fallen state of man. And then they call on their audience to return to the ideal of a one woman/one man marriage.

But both Jesus and Paul teach that a disciple may remain single, as did both Jesus and Paul, and both teach that in some ways being single is preferable to being married. There is certainly no sin in remaining single. After all, as Paul explains in 1 Cor 7, being single allows one to be a better servant of Christ.

(1 Cor 7:32-35) I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs — how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world –how he can please his wife — 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world — how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

Leave a Reply

  1. Last month, I dealt with the issue of homosexuality because of the concerns of a co-worker. I posted about it on my blog on March 13 (http://adisciplesthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/03/qu…) and on March 22 (http://adisciplesthoughts.blogspot.com/2008/03/co…). If my posts can help with this issue, feel free to use them. If they do not help, feel free to ignore them. I realize that this is not merely a theoretical question. People really are struggling with this.

  2. Josh,

    I'm not sure what your point is. If you are saying that lust (straight or gay) is a sin, then I agree. However, I think what Jay was trying to get at (and Wright in the excerpt) is the state of being gay. While everyone has control over how they act on their sexuality, they don't necessarily have control over the nature of their sexuality. I think what is being addressed is whether or not people choose same-sex attraction; and the answer is no. Why would anyone want to have an impulse that alienates them from God, the church, friends and family, and sets them up to be ostracized by society?

    Furthermore, all of the hard data indicates that “changing” orientation is a mostly futile effort. There are many gay believers who go through years of therapy, pray constantly for change, and yet still experience same-sex attraction. Consequently, the churches that are willing to even acknowledge this are focusing their efforts on helping gays to manage their behavior rather than change the desire for the behavior.

    It sounds as though you are suggesting that gays are somehow more prone to lust than straight people; and there is no evidence for such an assertion. As with straight people, only the individual knows what is in his/her heart.

    Jay, if I misunderstood you, I am sure that you will correct me and accept my apologies. Likewise Josh, if I misunderstood you, please let me know.

  3. To Josh –
    Nice post with many good scriptures referenced but I don't see any reference to homosexuality in any of them. I see a lot of your theory and opinions, which you are entitled to, of course.

    In examining your first paragraph, you state "that I don’t see anything directly stated or implied in the Bible that we are supposed to analyze each and every type of sin and use human wisdom and philosophy to come up with a special program to help fight it". Are you saying that you think having a support group like Divorce Recovery or alcohol/addiction support groups, such as Celebrate Recovery, should not exist since we are not supposed to have a "program" for every different sin? God forbid (no he didn't) that we should help fellow Christians with whatever sin or issue they are facing in their lives.

    Or is it because we are talking about homosexuality, which no-one in the church of Christ even acknowledges the potential existence of within their church body? Unless you have a very small congregation in a small town with membership made up of mostly elderly married couples, the issue does exist for someone in your church. Someone that suffers in secret, knowing that it is a taboo subject and that there is no-one in the church to talk to about it.

    In examining the scriptures that you provided, starting with "bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor 10:5)"
    Yes, we are to focus on obedience to Christ – agreed. Is it possible to do that 100% of the time without stumbling or sinning? No.

    Next, "for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies". I dont' see homosexuality addressed in this verse. I see evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying and blasphemy". Fornication is sex between to unmarried people. Does fornication include being attracted to the same sex? No, it does not, just as fornication does not include being attracted to the opposite sex.

    Psalm 119:104 “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” Another great verse that has nothing to do with homosexuality. I hate every false way myself.

    hate the things that God hates, i.e. sin. (Rev 2:6) actually says "You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." What did the Nicolaitans do wrong? I have no idea. When I search on the word Nicolaitans, it doesn't appear anywhere else that I can find.

    2 Peter 1:4 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust". I have read what you think this verse means. To me, it has nothing to do with homosexuality.

    “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) And again, 1 Pet 4:1-3 “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:” Yes, we are to live like Christ, for Christ and not to sin. That is the obvious goal of being a Christian. Do we do it perfectly? Only one did.

    I agree that every sin is equal, yet we don't seem to act as though we do. Does anyone approach the obese person to offer counseling on their overeating? Obesity could fall into these categories mentioned in the verse above – (revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.

    When an obese person comes in the door, how many people condemn that person because of their horrible sin? How many judge in quiet and think to themselves, "oh he/she is going to hell for being so fat and if he doesn't repent and lose that weight, he's doomed. He must worship food…." No, I dont think so. Nobody is going to think twice about it. Nobody is going to shy away because they dont know what to say. Noone is going to walk up to that person and tell them they're going to hell for being so fat because it is one that is ignored. It doesn't count because it is so prevalent in society..

    What about the gay couple who walk in the door (obviously they know nothing about the church of Christ if they do). How many people are going to condemn them and instantly judge them as doomed to hell? Suppose the gay couple has never had any religious background and decide they want to find out more about Christ and make the unfortunate mistake of walking into a church of Christ. Will they be made to feel welcome? Will they want to come back and hear more? No, they wont because I know how they will be treated. Most will try to avoid them because they dont know what to do or say. Someone else might walk up to them and flat out tell them they are going to hell. Few will introduce themselves and welcome them. Doubtful if they'll come back.

    And it's doubtful that the gay person who grew up in the church of Christ suffering with same sex attraction will stay either. They will not be accepted or they will be tired of being condemned or they will become tired of living a lie. But that person doesn't get tired of Jesus Christ and considers himself a Christian. That person might be trying to live a good Christian life and is not out having anonymous sex with other guys. As he gets older and doesn't get married and people start talking about him behind his back and assuming that he must be gay, even though he has never shown any evidence of living a gay lifestyle, and making fun of him behind his back because he is still in the Singles class and approaching 40…will he keep coming? Probably not.

    Thanks for reading my thoughts on your post. I apologize that they are so lengthy.

  4. To Terry,
    I read the post on your blog about homosexuality. There is one thing I would like to say about it. The assumption that everyone likes to make is that Sodom/Gomorrah were destroyed because of their homosexuality, as you stated. I find that to be an incorrect statement for the following reasons…

    The first time Sodom was mentioned in the Bible is in Gen 10:19, "and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha."

    The second reference is in Gen 13:10 "(This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)

    The third reference is in Gen 13:12 "while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom."

    The fourth reference is in Gen 13:13 "Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD." The men of Sodom were wicked….for what reason does God consider them wicked. Maybe it's because they were thieves and murderers. Or maybe it's because of their attitude toward God. Maybe they were all obese….doesn't say because they were homosexual.

    Gen 14:1 "Amraphel king of Shinar, [a] Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim 2 went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah…"

    Gen 14:8 more about the war…the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah…marched out and drew up their battle lines"

    Gen 14:10 "Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills."

    Gen 14:11 "The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away"

    Gen 14: 12 "They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom."

    Gen 14:17 "after Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh"

    Gen 14:21-22 " The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself. But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath".

    Gen 18:16-17 "When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?" Time has passed between Gen 14 to Gen 18 and a lot has happened. How much time I have no idea. Maybe someone can tell me. but here we see that God is making his plan.

    Gen 18:20 "Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know." Here is where people make another assumption that their sin that is so grievous must be homosexuality. So far that has not been mentioned.

    Gen 18:21-23 "The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: "Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?"

    Next are the passages where Abraham is asking God to spare the city if a certain number of righteous men can be found. It doesn't say if a certain number of heterosexual men can be found.

    Next is chapter 19 which I am sure you have read, particularly starting with verse 5, "They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them. Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof. "Get out of our way," they replied. And they said, "This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We'll treat you worse than them." They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

    This is the only reference to sexual contact between two men and it is in the context of wicked men of Sodom wanting to rape other men. This was the sin. Does it talk about two gay committed men or women in a monogamous relationship having consensual sex behind closed doors in the privacy of their own house? No, it does not. I know you are not going to agree with me on this, which is OK. And I will certainly consider whatever you have to say about it. But consider this, if you read all the verses about Sodom up to this point, nowhere does it say that the city was being destroyed because of homosexuality. It says there are few righteous men and they are committing great, grievous sin. Grievous sin can include many things…

    Next, Deuteronomy 29:23 says the Lord overthrew S & G because of his fierce anger.

    There are several mentions of S & G until we get to Ezekiel chapter 16 which tells us why Sodom was destroyed. Ezekiel 16:48-49 "As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. 'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen."

    Why was Sodom destroyed? It's clear. It was destroyed due to arrogance, obesity, lack of concern for others, not helping the poor and needy, being haughty (disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant; supercilious, lofty or noble; exalted.), and doing detestable things. Nowhere does it say Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality.

    We know one of the detestable things that went on was male on male rape (bet it wasn't the only detestable thing they did). Did you notice it doesn't even say if the men in Sodom who wanted to do the raping were homosexual or not? They were about to rape other men but all kinds of depravity went on and still goes on today. It is not unconceivable that they were bi-sexual, homosexual, or straight men with wives at home who wanted to degrade and shame the visitors. It was an act of violence, not an act of sexual desire.

    Suppose I am wrong and you are right and that S&G were destroyed for homosexuality. What does Jesus say in Matthew 10:11-15? He says,"Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. I tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."

    To me Jesus is saying that if his 12 disciples are not welcomed and not listened to by the people, those people will face an even harsher judgment than that given to S&G. Apparently Jesus thought that not welcoming his disciples and listening to his word was worse than male on male rape and the other sins mentioned in Ezekiel 16.

    If you made it this far, thanks once again for reading my post and I apologize for the lengthiness of it.

  5. Jay, I’m not sure that you answered the question. It seemed to me the question was why the church doesn’t deal with homosexuality any differently than it deals with others sins, and I would say the answer is that I don’t see anything directly stated or implied in the Bible that we are supposed to analyze each and every type of sin and use human wisdom and philosophy to come up with a special program to help fight it. The Bible tells us what things are sin, and calls us to repentance, giving us the assurance that God will not tempt us above our ability to resist the temptation.

    It is for this reason (that the Bible doesn’t class homosexuality as a special type of sin to be given extra treatment by way of using philosophy to come up with some sort of manmade remedy) I find your notion that “homosexual actions are sinful, being a homosexual — having homosexual urges — is not” to be highly suspect. I don’t think that dishonesty or beating around the bush is going to help anyone deal with this sin anymore than it will with any other. What I mean is, what you are saying sounds a lot like saying that stealing your neighbor’s house is a sin, but having covetous thoughts about stealing his house is just fine. Or that killing someone is a sin, but hating them is ok. Or sleeping with your neighbor’s wife is a sin, but lusting after her is alright. We know the Bible teaches against the thoughts as well as the actions. And our goal as Christians should not be to dismiss sinful thoughts as being benign because “they’re just thought,” but rather our goal should be “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor 10:5) Regardless of what the sin is, we can’t be satisfied with saying “I only wanted to do it, but I didn’t actually do it, but man I really wish I could do it, but I can’t, so I won’t, but man oh man I really want to.”

    Whether we are talking about murder, covetousness, sexual sins, or any other type of sin, in every case the goal should be to get rid of the cause not just treat the symptoms. The physical acts are symptoms. The thoughts are the cause. Jesus says so himself, when he says “for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Dealing with externals alone is impossible. This is what Catholicism tries with the vow of celibacy, but no vow will really restrain the actions so long as the heart is left undealt with, and especially so long as people make it their especial goal to let the heart off the hook. The covetous man who tells himself “I can’t steal anymore, but I sure am going to fantasize about stealing” will end up stealing again without fail, because he is fantasizing about stealing. He still esteems the sin in his heart. In order to stop doing the sin you must make your heart hate it, as David says in Psalm 119:104 “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” To cure yourself of the sin (any sin) you must view it as God does, that is, with disgust. Only when you make the sin disgusting to you in your heart, will you conquer it. We must make ourselves hate the things that God hates, i.e. sin. (Rev 2:6)

    When Peter says in 2 Peter 1:4 “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” I think part of his admonition is that we ought to think of ourselves as gods (not in a literal sense obviously, see John 10:34) and thereby cease to esteem what the world esteems and its lusts, but rather keep in mind that “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15) And again, 1 Pet 4:1-3 “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:” In other words, keeping Christ’s death on our behalf in view we ought to reject our own lusts and the lusts of others (for we wasted enough time in fulfilling the lusts of the Gentiles in the past, he says) and we ought to live to please God. It is only in putting on this sort of mind that we will be able to beat any sin, including heresy.

  6. Anonymous,
    Thanks for reading my post. I don't think we disagree as much as you may expect. As you may have noticed, I mentioned Ezekiel 16. In fact, it was the only passage quoted in my post. I was pointing out that although most people believe Sodom was destroyed simply because of the homosexual activity of its citizens. Sodom committed many sins. It was in a very self-centered society.

    This is where we may disagree: Homosexual (or bi-sexual) activity is a sin. It may not be justified by pointing out that other sins are just as bad or worse. One aspect of sexual morality is that it is confined to marriage between a man and woman. Jude 7 states, "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire" (NIV).

    Please reconsider trying to justify homosexual activity. It is one sin among many, but it is still a sin. It needs to be turned from, not defended. It can lead to hell, as Jude indicated. But it can also be forgiven, as Paul indicated (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

    Thanks again for your response.

  7. Anonymous,
    I should have mentioned that you made a thoughtful point about gluttony being one of the sins of Sodom. If you saw my belly, you would know that it is a sin that I struggle against. I am not trying to justify it, but I am not always successful in my struggles against gluttony. I trust in God's forgiveness as I struggle, and I believe that I am living in God's grace. If I were not fighting against it, I would be resisting God's life-changing grace in my life. In a similar way, I know of homosexuals who are fighting against their sexual temptations. They may not always be successful, either. However, they are trusting in God's forgiveness and seeking to honor God even though they fail sometimes. They are not resisting God's grace, but they are struggling to learn to say "no" to their temptations. I want to encourage them to keep up the fight.

  8. "However, I think what Jay was trying to get at (and Wright in the excerpt) is the state of being gay. While everyone has control over how they act on their sexuality, they don’t necessarily have control over the nature of their sexuality." (odgie)

    By that argument necrophiliacs were born being attracted to corpses and pedaphiles were born being attracted to toddlers and those lusts are just fine as long as they are kept hidden in the heart. I find such a notion both reprehensible and unscriptural. Sounds like specialized pre-programmed-sin-robot-Calvinism to me. And it contradicts scripture plainly on many counts. I'd say more but I'm on a pocketpc and typing this stylus is tiring.

  9. Anonymous says "Next, 'for out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies'. I dont’ see homosexuality addressed in this verse. I see evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, lying and blasphemy'. Fornication is sex between to unmarried people. Does fornication include being attracted to the same sex? No, it does not, just as fornication does not include being attracted to the opposite sex."

    First, in the King James version (which I was quoting), fornication does not simply mean relations between two unmarried people (as it has come to mean in modern usage), but rather it means any sexual act forbidden by God. Hence newer translations render that Greek word porneia as "sexual immorality." Secondly, you will notice also that Jesus is referring to the thoughts specifically. You say that fornication does not include the lust for fornication. But here it does, because he says (I'm using the NIV this time) "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander." Out of the heart come what? Evil thoughts. Not just evil deeds, but evil thoughts. It is evil to think about sexual immorality just as it is evil to do it.

    Next, being fat is not a sin. Gluttony is a sin, but all fat is not gluttony. All homosexuality, however, is sexually immoral, just as all pedphilia is sexual immoral, all incest is sexually immoral, all necrophilia is sexually immoral, all adultery is sexually immoral.

    Anonymous says "When an obese person comes in the door, how many people condemn that person because of their horrible sin?….What about the gay couple who walk in the door (obviously they know nothing about the church of Christ if they do). How many people are going to condemn them and instantly judge them as doomed to hell?"

    Anyone who walks in the door or doesn't walk in the door is going to hell unless they beleive the gospel, repent of their sins, confess their belief in Christ, and are baptized into Christ and then live as a Christian. This argument that if a fat person walks in the door nobody will judge that they are going to hell for gluttony is a spurious argument. Whether anyone judges that they will go to hell for gluttony or not (as they might not even be guilty of gluttony per the above) nevertheless it will be recognized that if they are not a faithful Christian they are going to hell simply because "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23) and the only way to avoid that sending you to hell is to be a faithful Christian. But I suppose you are referring to two homosexuals walking in the door holding hands and kissing and making a public display and such. What homosexual in America doesn't know that most churches are opposed to homosexuality? You might as well as how many people will condemn the drug dealer who walks in the church waving weed in front of your face and asking if you want to buy some. Or perhaps the murderer who comes in the door shooting the place up.

    Anonymous says "In examining the scriptures that you provided, starting with 'bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;' (2 Cor 10:5) Yes, we are to focus on obedience to Christ – agreed. Is it possible to do that 100% of the time without stumbling or sinning? No." Are one of those people who always assumes everyone is condemning them for not being perfect? Did I say that if you fail one time to bring your thoughts in captivity to the obedience of Christ that you are irreparably damned to hell and there's no way to change it because its all over now? No, I did not say any such thing, did I? Please calm down and read what it actually being said. I said the goal is to bring every thought into captivity. And why did I say this? Well, beyond the fact that Scripture asserts it, I said it because Jay was denying it. Jay was saying that sinful thoughts are ok so long as you don't act on them, but that's not what the Bible says. Don't take everyone's statements out of context and work yourself into a frenzy. The fact that Christians can miss the mark is why the Bible says "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:7-9) If a Christian fails to keep all his or her thoughts in obedience to Christ, he or she repents, that is, the whole life of the Christian is one of constant repentance (i.e. walking in the light) and trying to the best of one's ability to think and do what it is right–yes thought is included "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Phil 4:8)

    Anonymous says "And it’s doubtful that the gay person who grew up in the church of Christ suffering with same sex attraction will stay either. They will not be accepted or they will be tired of being condemned or they will become tired of living a lie."

    How is living without acting on sinful impulses living a lie? What about the thief who grew up in the church suffering with the urge to steal? Or the murderer with the urge to murder? Will he be living a lie by not giving into his murderous impulses and killing everyone? This stuff is just so silly.

    As to the long-winded spiel on Sodom and Gommorah, the fact that Sodom was overthrown for homosexuality comes more from the New Testament's assertion of that fact than from anything in the Old Testament. Jude 1:7 says "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." They gave themselves over to having sexual desires for flesh that was strange or contrary to the nature of their nature to lust after. That's the reason the New Testament gives for the overthrow of Sodom. Yes, Sodom also had general injustice in it, etc. but that's not the reason that Jude assigns. And as to the fact that homosexuality is a sin, the Law speaking to men says in Leviticus 18:22 (NASB) "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." Just as when the same Law forbids other sexual acts, the desire is sinful as well, as Jesus says in the quote above "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."

  10. James says,

    (James 1:13-15) When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

    The logic is desire –> conception –> sin –> death

    Desire is not sin. Nor does it always produce sin, no more that sin always produces death.

    As Barclay writes in his commentary on this passage,

    No man was ever born without desire for some wrong thing. Desire goes far beyond mere sexual desire, for there are all kinds of desire. But some wrong thing fascinates every man. And, if a man deliberately foments and encourages and nourishes that desire, until it becomes full-grown and monstrously strong, then it will inevitably issue in action which is sin — and that is the way to death. And such a thought — and it is a thought which all human experience admits to be true — must drive us to that grace of God which alone can make us clean, and which is available to all.

  11. Josh,
    I've read enough of this blog since I responded to your post last night to know what type of responses you make. That is why I only skimmed through some of your latest post and will not be taking the time to read the whole thing or make another response. I couldn't care less what you think. My purpose in reaching out to Jay was not to have a religious debate with someone who is not going to ever consider anyone else's opinion or who belittles someone else's legitimate issue. I don't want to hear anymore rants & raves about going to hell and the King James version of the the Bible. Growing up in this church I have been told and made to feel from the pulpit and elsewhere that I'm going to hell my whole life. I've had more than enough of that. From your responses to me and other's on the blog, my opinion is you are the type of "Christian" that drives people right out the door. Sorry if this sounds rude, but you seem to be very direct in your responses and I'm a direct person myself.

  12. Terry,
    Thanks for your response to my post. Sorry if I misunderstood what you were saying on your blog. I don't necessarily disagree that homosexuaity is a sin. I don't know that I think it is either. I'm kind of in a searching mode. I'm in recovery for my alcohol addiction so I finally have to face the big issue in my life that I have been denying, which is part of my addiction. I cannot recover without coming clean and facing everything, whether I want to or not. I wanted to hear from other's from my religious heritage about why this is never addressed in the church, except for the occasional hell, fire, and damnation sermon. I don't' know if this is the right place for that but this is where I am for the moment. I appreciate Jay addressing it on his blog and your insights as well.

  13. Dear Anonymous,

    I pray that you find a congregation of Christians where you can confess your struggles without fear of humiliation. I sympathize with your concerns, because of my own sexual struggles. While not homosexual in nature, they are intensely humiliating. I weep before God as I struggle with them. In a time of less maturity, I pondered self-mutilation, praying that maybe Jesus meant "cutting off the offensive parts" literally.

    I offer this encouragement, though it may seem back-handed: Evil continues because God's people do not speak up. Allowing fear and suspicion of our Christian family to prevent us from "boldly approaching the throne of grace" and "confessing our sins one to another" allows two things to continue:

    1) we leave others less brave than ourselves cowering hopelessly in the shadows. What if our example of bravery and freedom in Christ, our honest public confession, is the catalyst they need, and God "laid out that work beforehand for us to walk in"?

    2) we withhold potential blessings from our brothers and sisters in Christ. The Spirit has secretly shaped the hearts of our siblings more than we may realize; many of them are bubbling over inside with compassion, but they just don't know it yet.

    Please know that as I wrestle with prayer over my own brokenness tonight, I will be lifting holy hands in prayer for my anonymous brother who strives to honor God in his brokenness as well.

    in HIS love,
    Nick Gill
    Frankfort, Kentucky

  14. Josh writes:

    "By that argument necrophiliacs were born being attracted to corpses and pedaphiles were born being attracted to toddlers and those lusts are just fine as long as they are kept hidden in the heart."

    Where does Down's Syndrome come from?
    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?
    Birth defects?

    The HARD FACT that birth defects exist demands that some defects are mental, and that some cause evil desires.

    Yes, we are to strive to take every thought captive. Not to strive to do so is the sin; not the thought itself.

    Jesus does not say that lusting after a woman is in itself sinful. We are broken image-bearers with dehumanizing habits of treating one another (by nature [long-established pattern] we are children of wrath). It is "looking toward a woman TO DESIRE her" that is heart adultery. You can't commit adultery by accident, or Jacob would have been an adulterer.

    respectfully,
    nick gill
    Frankfort, KY

  15. Impressive post, Nick.

    But I'm not entirely sure that admitting his nature to the congregation is the right move. It should be. It really should. But the congregation would need to be prepared. Moreover, most churches are entirely incapable of keeping a secret — especially one of a sexual nature. (I speak from brutal experience. People love to talk.)

    On the other hand, I entirely agree with the need for Anonymous to have a circle of friends — within the church — with whom he can be entirely honest. None of us was meant to carry our burdens alone.

    Further thoughts along these lines to come.

  16. Re lust:

    What man has not desired his fiancée sexually? Wouldn't that make all engaged couples fornicators? Or shouldn't we rather congratulate those who remain chaste while waiting?

    (Gal 5:16-17) This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

    The sin is not the lusting but fulfilling the lust. This passage doesn't promise an end to lust, just the ability to overcome it.

  17. Nick
    Thank you for your post. It was very meaningful to me. Thank you for your prayers. I will include you in mine tonight. I don't know your situation but I would like to tell you about Celebrate Recovery. You might already know about it. I belong to a Celebrate Recovery group in my city and I am one of the few men in the group that is there for alcoholism. About 80% of the guys in that group are struggling with sexual and pornography addictions. It's a place where you can go and share your struggles/issues without fear of ridicule and shame. I say that but I only talk about my addiction issue. I haven't got up the nerve to talk about my other problem in a room full of married men.

  18. I could not possibly admit this to the entire church. I find it an embarrassing topic to discuss. It took me months to even get up the nerve to talk about it to my therapist. I think I could tell one our ministers but I am ashamed and embarrassed. I am not happy having this sexual orientation. I am not out and proud. One thing I would like to clarify is I have never actually had a sexual relationship with a guy. I have dated girls in high school, college and as an adult. Everytime I had a girlfriend I would then be able to convince myself that I wasn't attracted to men. I was also drowning myself in alcohol, which is a great escape. God has lead me to recovery to overcome alcoholism. It is only by the grace of God that I'm even still alive considering the things I've done.

    I cannot sweep this under the rug any longer. Nor do I want to spend the rest of my life alone. I no longer date women because it is deceitful to the woman. I wont marry one in order to pretend to have a normal life. I don't have it in myself to do that to someone. And I don't believe God made me this way to then condemn me and send me to hell for being what he created. If homosexuality is a sin, why did God make me this way? What am I supposed to do? I dont want to be lonely all my life. There have to be other people who are trying to deal with this in our churches (of Christ).

  19. Dear Anonymous Brother,

    I am sobbing as I read your posts. I am moved by your courage to confront this issue. We are all broken, we NEED our Savior. God can use you to his glory. I cannot pretend to offer any wisdom or guidance, but I can offer my prayers. I will pray that God's purpose and will for you will be revealed.

    I have heard believers pray for the Lord to come quickly. I didn't always understand this prayer. As I learn more and more about our humaness, I understand the reason for this plea. Lord come quickly.

  20. "By that argument necrophiliacs were born being attracted to corpses and pedaphiles were born being attracted to toddlers and those lusts are just fine as long as they are kept hidden in the heart. I find such a notion both reprehensible and unscriptural. Sounds like specialized pre-programmed-sin-robot-Calvinism to me. And it contradicts scripture plainly on many counts. I’d say more but I’m on a pocketpc and typing this stylus is tiring." (Josh)

    When did I say that such lusts (natural or otherwise) were fine? I never said lust was fine. You are confusing attraction with lust. And the calvinism remark is a cheap shot. What I did say (and what others have said even better) is that everyone has a different struggle of one kind or another. Let's boil it down to a simple question: Would you actually indict a homosexual believer who practiced abstinence?

  21. "If homosexuality is a sin, why did God make me this way?" (Anonymous)

    The answer is that it is a sin and he didn't make you that way, not initially anyway. The cause of desires for things like this is plainly given in Romans 1:25 that men love and worship created things more than God and in verse 28, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;" — In your past somewhere, you loved created things more than God and you did not like to retain God in your knowledge, so he gave you over to debase thinking, and I would assume that it was so that someday you might realize the horrible depths that putting him out of mind have brought you to and thus you would repent. Now is that time. Repent and turn to God and be cleansed. Stop making excuses or saying you were born that way and stop trying to excuse evil thoughts as being ok because "they're just thoughts." Turn to God in a totally broken and contrite Spirit acknowledging that such thoughts are sin. Until you acknowledge that it is a sin, you cannot be forgiven because God does not allow men to judge him but he judges all men and whatsoever the Law saith (on this sin and others) it saith that all mouths may be stopped before God. (Rom 3:19)

  22. I want to commend Jay and anonymous
    (especially) for opening this issue here, so that the Light who is Love may shine on it and in His time resolve this and all of our issues. I do not struggle with homosexual desire, but do struggle against and with unholy heterosexual desire/actions. However, I have been blessed to know believers who have and do struggle with homosexual desire/actions. One in particular was one of my best friends and most committed Christians I have ever known.

    We do really stink at offering compassion to those whom we do not understand. That is a product of the control we desire to take from God. That control is often religion and religion runs rampant in the churches of Christ.

    We are all dead, broken, and useless without Jesus. Why must we pick on ailments that we do not (or maybe we do) have?… in order to take the focus off of our own planks (sin)? Why did Adam accuse Eve? He was chicken of God's attention to his sin. Why does the church pick on homosexuals? We love to take the control of who is "wrong or right" from God, or at least borrow that power from Him from time to time. The thing is, the more time we devote to finding out who is wrong, the less diligent we are at allowing God to bring our own darkness into His light. So we memorize much scripture, and grow very little.

    Is is any wonder that the forbidden fruit was from the tree of knowledge of GOOD and evil? The knowledge of good can be used by Satan (or church members) just as eloquently as knowledge of evil for Satan's own purposes.

    As to the matter of obesity…, we don't ridicule those people because too many of our leaders (ourselves) struggle with that issue. It;s not politically correct (even for those who claim not to be politically correct) to address this issue unless it is in the context of a joke that we laugh off and disregard in our hearts.

    Celebrate Recovery – I have been to a couple of meetings (though none yet in our fellowship). I am interested for more information from those in our own heritage as to how things work with this program. I applaud the spirit of it and hope that we can adopt it or one similar in the near future.

    Please pray that I am more open and discerning toward all the hurting people of this world. I long to see us all embrace under the cover of Jesus' righteousness and truely be His body here.

    I believe that until the church behaves as she is called to toward homosexuals and be willing to embrace them as they admit and confess their brokenness, WE will corporately be under judgement like Sodom moreso than the broken homosexuals of the world. We know Jesus, they don't. We will be held to the standard we judge by.

    How much more will we be judged if those homosexuals we reject and ostracize are believers in our same Saviour. That proves we are clueless as to what Yeshuah was even here for.

  23. Celebrate Recovery is an awesome 12 step recovery program for Christians. It's basically AA or SA, whatever, only it's for people who believe Jesus Christ is the one and only Higher Power. It's for those who want to apply the Bible to the 12 steps and their addiction issue. I highly recommend it. It doesn't have to be at a c of C, as the program works the same way everywhere. The one I go to is not a c of C. The only thing is if instrumental music bothers you during the devotional time, you might feel uncomfortable. People with all kinds of hurts and hangups go. There are alcoholics, sexaholics, marijuana and cocaine addicts, and codependency recovery. There's about 15 or so men in my group and i would say 70% are there for sex and/or pornography issues & addictions. I hope that you will be able to find a place that works for you.

  24. Seems that I'm running late for this discussion. No worries though, I'm usually behind schedule. I'm glad to find the topic being discussed and would like to add my belated support to Jay, Ogdie and Anonymous. There is validity to much of what you've said and I believe the biggest distinction missed in the opposing arguments lies between concealing lustful desire in your heart and temptation. Much of the preceding debate focused on action vs. orientation. I know, I know…"orientation" is a scary, liberalized word now…but applicable. There is no sin in being tempted. On this we should all agree as we hold the Christ to be sinless and He was tempted (as we are). I believe the process of desire->death was outlined above, reaching for desire when temptation besets you is the first deadly step without regard to the nature of your sin. Indeed, "all have fallen short". Luke 18:19 "And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone". Don't lose sight of the grace He offers. I look forward to the rest of the posts in this series.
    Grace and peace,

  25. "And I don’t believe God made me this way to then condemn me and send me to hell for being what he created. If homosexuality is a sin, why did God make me this way? What am I supposed to do? I dont want to be lonely all my life. There have to be other people who are trying to deal with this in our churches (of Christ)."

    Wow. I am in the same boat Anonymous. I wish I had discovered this blog long ago. I am a celibate homosexual, divorced with two grown sons. If I revealed this in my c of C, I feel certain I would be sent packing. I completely relate to your posts and wish I could find others like you who understand. I have been a Christian for 35 years, and have rarely shared my heart with another human soul. I am very active in my church, and fear being dropped like a hot potato if this ever leaked out. My work could be in jeopardy, too, if my orientation were ever revealed.

    Thanks for this string, Jay. I will eagerly read on to see if any other Christians out there have insight for one who is bumbling through life, with prayer, as best he can.

  26. Recently our youth group had a 3 week series on Gay rights. In my studies I've come across two books I think anyone who is interested in this topic and wants to have a better understanding of its impact to gays and non-gays alike. They are:
    Love is an Orientation by Andrew Marin

    Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would by Chad W. Thompson

    Both take a great deal of time to respect the complexity of both the Bible and the development of sexuality. I found them to be fantastic reads.

  27. I keep thinking of the scripture that says that God is able both to make you will and to do his will. We will always fail if we try to force ourselves to will differently. God is able to create in us a new heart, according to the scriptures as I understand them. Also, I read a conversation with an ex-lesbian who seems to believe that God can and does change one’s desires. I don’t rememeber her name, but she has a magazine called “Venus”.

  28. Thank you Kyle for posting the two titles. I am always looking for fresh insight into this thorny issue.

    Anonymous mentioned something about obesity, and how few would condemn or reject them coming into the church. (I mentioned a comparison between homosexuality and left-handedness on another thread,) but I believe the comparison with obesity may be more apt. Studies show over and over that obesity is not simply a behavioral problem, but it a complex web of issues–many of them genetic. I think homosexuality is like that. Even though I am not actively engaged in homosexual behavior, still I know in my mind and heart and gut that I am gay.

    I can remember moments as a very small child that seem to point to my becoming gay, although I don't believe a small child is gay any more than I think he is straight. Small children are not intended to be sexual. And on a related note:

    Somewhere on one of these threads it has been posited that the majority of gay men were introduced to homosexual acts in youth by someone older. I would like to assert that this is not my experience at all. I remember no inappropriate sexual conduct with me by anyone older. I played doctor with the girl next door at about age 7 and with a neighbor boy down the street about the same time. I also remember playing doctor with a male schoolmate in 4th grade. While these incidents surely do not even qualify as sexual experiences, my first homosexual experiences at about age 14 were with someone my own age. Might Jay have any follow-up on this issue?

  29. Anonymous 2,

    You are probably thinking of this post: http://oneinjesus.info/2008/04/20/letter-to-a-gay

    It contains a link to a post by Patrick Mead where he discusses the biological roots of homosexuality in men. He says, "Also, like it or not, over 80% of homosexual men say that an older male introduced them to homosexual behavior before they became an adolescent."

    But there's much more to the post than that, and I commend Patrick's post to all the readers. He writes with a level of expertise that I can't match.

    I'm not really qualified to comment on the origins of homosexuality — the nature vs. nurture argument. Patrick, however, is. He has degrees in Linguistics, Criminal Justice, Psychology, Counseling, and Immunology. (Not all of those are relevant to the subject at hand, of course.)

    I'm confident Patrick would be glad to respond to any questions you have over at his blog.

  30. I read the book, Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would, as mentioned above. It is a lightweight read, but interesting. The author claims to be ex-gay, but hints in several places that he never quite put his homosexual desires to practice. If this is the case, he surely does NOT know what overcoming a lifetime of struggle is all about. (I am speaking as a middle aged man who has been struggling since age 14.)

    I am currently halfway through Love is an Orientation, and it is quite gut wrenching in its scope. Author Marin certainly challenges gays and Christians to push the envelope in dealing with one another. I have to say, he puts much of the onus on Christians, with the supposition that it is their (our) jobs to attract others to Christ.

    Although I am 8+ years celibate, I still grieve at the loss of such an integral part of my human identity. I still wonder that the Lord would place such a thorn in the flesh of so many millions. (I understand the argument that being gay isn't as devastating as being born without limbs or profoundly handicapped in some way. But these conditions do not have the moral judgments attached to them that being gay has.)

    I have read and reread Patrick's blog post that you mentioned. It is informative and well written. Thank you.

  31. I was born in 1955. I was raped and abused and tortured from 1955 until 1965. I wasn't able to remember these things until I was 47 years old. The reason these memories were suppressed so long is because God does not put more on us than we can handle. Who did these things is best kept to myself as some became wonderful Christians. Time and conscience is more of Gods' realm and not mine own. I can only imagine the horror My tormentors went through on Their death beds. I pray God surrounds them with His Love. I have faith that He will. How does a little boy report that He was raped? Does any child of 2 years old have a frame of reference? As far as I knew everyone was raped and abused all the time. I remember in the 6th grade when I was outed by a bully. I remember in the 7th grade being tormented by many fists. I have been covered in spittle and hated all my life. I never had any desire to engage in homo-sexuality although I do remember that around 1965 when the raping ended that I missed it. In fact I remember that the last few years of it that I actually enjoyed it. I think that is partly why I forgot it. The shame of having enjoyed it. I assure You I did not enjoy it when I was a year old. I remember having my nose smashed on the coffee table a couple of times. I remember watching the second hand on the clock at church to see how long I could hold my breath. I exercised my lungs so I wouldnt die whenever my face was forced into the couch. I have noticed in my life that there are people who think I am a Homo-sexual because I guess I look like one. In the 6th grade I was accosted by a guy for looking queer. The truth is that I cannot help the way my face looks. Recently, I went to a church and before the services began when everyone is shaking hands and being friendly I shook a mans hand and He smiled at Me, I smiled back at Him and He winced in obvious pain as if I had stabbed him with a dagger. My face is an abomination. I do not go to meet with the saints or the christians anymore. I feel like my appearance…which I cannot control is not conducive to proper worship. I feel like a Queer even though I am not. Children may be influenced negatively by my face and I couldn't bear to ever harm a child. So, to all You guys that are struggling with Your problems know that God Loves all His Children. I wonder what it means to struggle with Christ without the gate. In Christian Love,
    one who understands

  32. >>"…As he gets older and doesn’t get married and people start talking about him behind his back and assuming that he must be gay, even though he has never shown any evidence of living a gay lifestyle, and making fun of him behind his back because he is still in the Singles class and approaching 40…will he keep coming? Probably not."

    Well, as a straight, single male in the church and "in the singles class and approaching 40", let me inform you that the above comment has me (and I'm sure others like me), absolutely mortified. I had no idea my dear brothers and sisters in Christ were making fun about me behind my back like that. Apparently, you have first-hand knowledge that such defamation occurs regularly.

    Let me educate such people on something. We who are “single and pushing 40” often are so because we haven’t rushed to get married like a lot of people in the church because, per the scriptures, we believe divorce is wrong in God’s eyes. If we had rushed into marriage, undoubtedly many of us would now be divorced like so many others and, although we’d then be in a worse situation, ironically, we would not be as looked down upon as we are when we are still single after all this time simply because we were serious about finding a good Christian mate and weren’t blessed in finding one. Consider yourselves blessed and pray that your marriage lasts rather than looking at older, never-married singles with a jaundiced eye.

    Fortunately, singles of any age don't need anyone's approval but the Lord's. We hurt enough over feeling we've "missed the boat" and not having been blessed by the Lord in this regard, but to have the brethren we love as family add insult to injury like this is simply cruel.

    Fortunately, I have the intestinal fortitude to press on to the goal in spite of this. Unfortunately, others may not. May I suggest reviewing Matthew 12:36 or possibly Mark 9:42? As the old saying goes, if you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all.

    As for the debates throughout this site, if I interpreted the scriptures as many here do, I wouldn't even bother with Christianity. If the NT commands that some here are arguing were only cultural were truly so, then it could also be argued that *all* of it is only cultural and we really aren't bound by *any* of it now. After all, we’re *2000 years* removed from all of it, folks! If you want to now disregard everything you consider to have been only “cultural” in the NT, go ahead and tear out those “cultural” sections from your bible. What other passages of scripture do you want to tear out while you’re at it? Go ahead and tear those portions out too. When you’re through, you may just find that there’s nothing left.

  33. Dan,

    To which commands are you referring? Are you still talking about divorce? Or are you talking about head coverings, foot-washing, etc.

    BTW, I am 33yrs and single. Downsides and upsides. The biggest downside is that I don't have enough responsibility–so as a man, that leaves me feeling unfulfilled. But I trust God has a plan for me–and it may or may not be what i am expecting! So I try to enjoy the ride!

    I wouldn't worry about the comment about how people talk about the 40yr old single guy. Because the fact is, whether we like it or not, people rarely think of anyone other than themselves. Just our nature. You take a girl out and think she is looking at the mole on your forehead–she is actually thinking to herself that you are noticing gap in her teeth.

    In the book "Blue Like Jazz", Miller ends the book talking about taking situations like that and just emptying your love onto the person. Although it wasn't an original thought–many years ago another told us to "love our enemies." So hard.

  34. Dan,

    Everyone teaches that some commands are cultural only. The dispute is over which ones. No one stands on the "high" ground of binding every single command.

    I mean, what congregation still requires us to greet one another with a Holy Kiss? Which ones have an order of widows (1 Tim 5)? Which ones allow the evangelist to ordain elders? Which ones require a woman to cover her head (some, but not many)? How many practice the love feast?

    Since we can't object to rejecting practices because the culture changed, we are forced to find a sound hermeneutic that gives a solid rule for what commands remain and what do not. And very few have a consistent hermeneutic. Rather, we defend some and object to some on an ad hoc basis, largely based on the traditions we grew up in.

    I think the scriptures teach a better way — that is, I think the scriptures themselves tell us how to make that distinction, so we aren't left with personal opinion, traditions, or what our favorite preacher says.

  35. Walter Brueggemann in his book Interpretation and Obedience uses the phrase “pre-pain truth” in characterizing the contribution of Job’s friends in the book of Job. I have concluded that the traditional Christian position on homosexuality is pre-pain truth and as such is inadequate and painful to sincere Christians who have struggled, often for lifetimes, with an unwanted sexual orientation and who have faced the choices of lifelong loneliness, pretending to be straight or condemnation to hell. It is so easy to tell other people that they should live celibate lives but few who give that prescription are celibate themselves. People have to be able to live and Scripture nowhere advocates that those who do not have the gift of singleness have to go through life alone without a sexual partner. Take the old trope about God creating Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. What if God had created Eve for Adam but gave Adam no sexual desire for Eve? Would that be Adam’s fault? If Adam had indeed met a “Steve” who was “meet” (in the KJV) or appropriate for him as a life partner would he have sinned in acting on the desire with which he was created? Some of us might think “God wouldn’t do such a thing.” Well guess what? God has done exactly that with me and with untold millions of men and women. Our sexuality is an integral part of who we are that we cannot eliminate short of ending our life. Supposedly men, gay or straight, have several sexual thoughts each minute on average adding up to hundreds or thousands of sexual thoughts every single day. In the Genesis narrative it is God himself who says that it is not good for man to be alone. Paul writes that, to avoid fornication, each man should marry and he also writes that it is better to marry than to burn. If that only applies to heterosexuals and homosexual acts condemn gays to hell then God has set up millions upon millions of gays and lesbians to go to Hell. I don’t believe that our God of love and grace has done that. Anyone who thinks that an entire segment of our population is going to live celibate lives is living in a fantasy and is setting an impossible standard for other people that, in all likelihood, he or she would never be able to follow themselves. What about Romans 1 and the other “clear” prohibitions? The people of God have time and again struggled with Scripture once we realize the enormity of human pain and arrived at deeper more gracious understandings. Who among us really believe that drunkards are going to hell? We don’t even use that word anymore. Paul appears to consign all drunkards to hell but Paul knew nothing about the disease of alcoholism or the concept of self-medication by those who are desperately looking for any relief from overwhelming emotional pain. If you won’t consign all non-recovering alcoholics to hell then don’t consign homosexuals to hell. If you are straight you cannot begin to comprehend the pain and despair and depression most gay Christians have endured for years upon years. Take one more analogy. If you “are Church of Christ” and middle aged or older then you must remember when our stock counsel to the divorced and remarried who did not fit the narrow fornication exception was that they either had to remarry their first spouse or remain celibate. How did that work out? Apparently not too well because, apart from some conservative enclaves, we abandoned that graceless position. Divorce and remarriage is now left as a private matter between the individual and God by almost all mainstream Churches of Christ. The words of Scripture have not changed but the pain of divorced and remarried Christians drove us to understand Scripture in a way that does not condemn millions of people for living and loving as God created them to do. Yet here we are in the early 21st century and it’s deja vu all over again except this time Chur hes

  36. of Christ are solemnly telling gay Christians that it’s either celibacy or hell. How long will it take us to get it right this time?

  37. Gary writes: “If that only applies to heterosexuals and homosexual acts condemn gays to hell then God has set up millions upon millions of gays and lesbians to go to Hell. I don’t believe that our God of love and grace has done that. Anyone who thinks that an entire segment of our population is going to live celibate lives is living in a fantasy and is setting an impossible standard for other people that, in all likelihood, he or she would never be able to follow themselves.”
    >>>
    This like of reasoning is something I continue to encounter from all corners, and it is deucedly hard to get people to see it for what it is, whether is applies to this subject, or soteriology, or hell, or the very existence of God.

    This line of reasoning basically begins with, “I can’t fathom it, or I vehemently disagree with it, therefore it cannot be true. The definitions or fundamentals implied here so conflict with my own fundamental values, that the conclusions must be wrong.” We find ourselves able to say “God wouldn’t do that” because we have established a working picture of God’s character which excludes what we are being told by scripture. “God would never approve of human slavery!” “God would never send THAT MANY people to hell for just this one problem.” “A loving God would never require this degree of sacrifice of us.” “If God is love, why are so many people miserable? If he really existed, wouldn’t He DO something about it?”

    The problem exposed in such statements is that we continue to decide what God thinks, based partly on scripture, but also with the unspoken baseline requirement that God’s thoughts and actions must be congruent with our own personal principles. God’s statement that “My thoughts are NOT your thoughts, and My ways are NOT your ways” has been effectively discarded, and has been reduced to God saying, “I AM pretty much like you would be if you were omnipotent and omniscient”.

    Gary would tell us that the satisfaction of the full range of our sexual desires is so important that this is something which God must take into consideration when He establishes his expectations of us. Where does such an idea get its genesis? Not from anything God has said about his own thinking and his own ways, but strictly from a rather toddler-like human perspective. “I can’t help it– I like pie. I have always liked pie. Everybody says I should eat cake, but I just can’t. I don’t like cake; I like pie. Eating pie is part of who I am, and nobody can make me eat cake. Pie is so important to me that it would be wrong for God to take pie away from me, leaving me to choose between cake and no dessert at all.”

    This sort of reasoning does not begin or end with a discussion of homosexuality; it is applied much more broadly. It is rather, mere humanism, with God’s photo scotch-taped into the picture.

  38. Unless you are gay and have successfully remained celibate throughout your life (and your life is not over yet) you don’t even have a clue. Why is it so important to you to consign people to hell for something I presume you don’t struggle with?

  39. Gary,
    Assuming your life is not over…among the other criteria you list, you have no clue either. So since none of us has a clue, lets proceed.

    If your latest reply was to Charles’ post, please reread his post as you have missed his point.
    First, nowhere in his post does he assign anyone to hell.
    Second, he is pointing out the selfish danger of making God in your own image.

    Try not to be so fixated on homosexuality that your miss the larger point of his post.

  40. Gary:
    In noticing the message that you have portrayed about your life style. The very same reasoning can be used to assure anyone that lives a life doing any or all of the things that God has stated in scripture lying, stealing, adultery, fornication, murder, and worshiping idols that they will be fully accepted into the kingdom that will be Christ’s bride, without them making any adjustments in their lifestyles. God has given us an extensive amount of information in the recording of His interactions with mankind from Adam until Christ. All dealing with his ideals for man, and mankind’s desire or ability to, yes (obey his instructions). As you read from this documentation, notice especially of what we would consider harsh punishments God placed upon those that refused him or his instructions. These same instructions were obeyed by many and you can notice how God also treated them. The same message states that God does not change, that he is the same forever. If he would allow men today to live as they wanted or desired to, would mean that he has been unjust to all that endured punishment in the past. The New Covenant was not given to man to release him from all responsibility to live according his rules and still be acceptable to him. It was given so man could overcome the desires and temptations by transforming our lives to having his will written on our hearts. With his will written on our hearts, we will be enabled to overcome any and all things that he instructed as not acceptable to him. If we have a problem and slip away from his ideal he has patience in awaiting a correction of our return to his ways, but he by his nature cannot allow men to live a complete life time in denial of being able to return or correct anything that has overtaken anyone and removed them from his obedience.

  41. But consignment to Hell is what it all comes down to isn’t it? Stated crudely or gently even progressive Churches of Christ are confident, by and large, to consign practising homosexuals to hell. My post coming two years after the last post was not a response but an independent statement. My point was that human pain does drive us as Christians to reexamine settled issues and eventually reinterpret scriptures in more inclusive, gracious and merciful ways. Even the ancient Jews reinterpreted the passages of the Torah prescribing capital punishment for various offenses to the point that almost no one was ever actually executed. Jesus continued this tradition when he declined to call for the stoning of the woman caught in the act of adultery and instead challenged her accusers. Much more recently, as more and more of us had divorced and remarried loved ones we shifted our entire “denominational” position on divorce and remarriage. Few of our congregations inquire now about previous marriages of new folks becoming members. We leave that as a private matter between the individual Christian and God. (Interestingly that is where Foy Wallace advocated leaving it in the mid 20th century.) I advocate leaving homosexuality as a private matter as well between the individual and God. That is where progressive Churches of Christ (and even many not-so-progressive congregations) leave heterosexual fornication now. Let’s be realistic. We have a “don’t ask don’t tell” de facto policy now regarding sexual activity of our heterosexual single members especially if they are young adults. We know that most of them are sexually active. Remember the Abilene study of a generation ago that showed Church of Christ teens had the highest technical virginity rate of any other religious group studied. We really don’t believe anymore that single, sexually active young adults will be lost if they die in that state. But when it comes to homosexual fornication we still feel obligated to warn that homosexuals will go to hell. At least that’s what it boils down to. I still believe that God is not a respecter of persons. If people are going to hell for fornication there will be a lot more heterosexual fornicators in hell than homosexuals. I have great respect for N.T. Wright and while I disagree with him on this subject I would advocate the position of his own church on homosexual members. Gays worship freely and openly in the Church of England and a variety of perspectives on homosexuality exist in full communion with each other. I can’t help but wonder what N.T. Wright thinks about the evolution of the Church of England on divorce. King Edward had to give up his throne to marry a divorced woman. Now, less than a century later, Prince Charles, divorced and remarried as a result of adultery, is positioned to become the next Monarch and head of the Church of England. Yet N.T. Wright is apparently comfortable remaining in that fellowship. Forgive me if I take him with a grain of salt when it comes to homosexuality. The concept of sexual orientation was largely unknown in the ancient world. The vast majority of homosexual relationships in Greek and Roman culture involved either pederasty or an unequal often coercive situation such as sex with slaves

  42. It is not at all clear that Paul’s prohibitions apply to consensual, committed adult homosexual relationships today. This is a subject that sincere, knowledgeable, dedicated Christians are going to see differently. Let’s leave it where we now leave heterosexual activity outside of marriage- as a private matter between the individual and God. It is inevitable that we will leave it there eventually. Why not do it sooner rather than later?

  43. While I am in no place to understand your emotional experience entirely, Gary, it is a mistake for you to simply ignore the input of others simply because they are not entirely like you. One need not be paralyzed to be able to recognize paralysis. “You don’t know how I feel” may be true, as far as it goes, but it is neither a valid defense of one’s actions nor an argument about how God sees things.

    As it has been noted, I have not offered to consign anyone to hell. That’s considerably above my pay grade. And in point of fact, I have been one who questions the common religious practice of seeing homosexual activity as a greater sin than those sins with which I struggle. But your resorting to unfounded hyperbole suggests an unwillingness to even consider the issue at hand and how it affects your perspective about God. In fact, it’s a rhetorical device I see in operation by children as young as five: a parent refuses to let Johnny go to a sleepover and Johnny says, “You just hate me. That’s why you won’t let me go!” It is no more effective now than it was then.

    BTW, after being married for 22 years, I have been celibate for the past ten years, simply because I am no longer married. For you to suggest that celibacy is only difficult for a person with your particular experience I find to be a pretty arrogant point of view. Gary, many people deny themselves sexual expression because of what they believe is God’s will for them, either personally or as a matter of general Christian teaching about sexual morality. No, celibacy is not easy, but it’s not martyrdom, either.

  44. Charles you and I seem to be on different planets. To me it seems that you ignore my reasoning and respond to some strawhorse of your imagination. Congratulations on being able to remain celibate but that is a choice you have made and not a biblical imperative. I see nothing in Scripture that forbids you to have a companion for life no matter what your sexual orientation is. The first time in the Bible something is said not to be good is when God himself said that it is not good for man to be alone. Not good to be alone. God said that. We are made in such a way that it is not good to be alone. As we are moving toward a time when all gay people will be out it may well be that 10-20% of the population will be known to be gay. Scripture nowhere advocates or anticipates that a whole segment of our population being required to be celibate. If celibacy works for you that is admirable but don’t try to bind it on others. If you don’t consign gays to hell then you and I are in agreement on something at least. We could be in fellowship together in the same congregation. That’s all I’m advocating- that gays be treated the same in our churches as our single heterosexual adults. Beyond that we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  45. Gary:
    Your conversation leads me to believe that you are very concerned that another person in this world would state to that because of the lifestyle you have chosen (yes I said chosen, because God in all of history has never forced a man into a life style, if he had, that individual would have been reduced from a man with the capabilities of obeying or disobeying to the likeness of a mechanical robot) that you will be condemned to Hell. Of course you understand that no man on earth has the authority to back up that statement, but men have the ability to and are instructed to read and understand what God’s instructions are to his creation, mankind. If men reading his word see a message regarding any subject, and encounter others that are directly disobeying that message, and relate to that individual the message from God. It is not the individual that relays the message that you should worry about, it is what the message of God says. I have not been able to locate any place in any of your communications where you have referred to what God’s words have stated about the destiny of an individual that lives a lifestyle that you are promoting, your only concern seems to be what another man has stated to you, which has offended you. You really should take notice and allow the possibility that those messages are a wake up call for you to study carefully the scriptures to validate the message that your creator has provided for you on this subject, for he is not lax in administering judgment on his standards. You can be fully assured that he is not going to make exceptions for any individual, to exempt an individual from identical judgments that he has already administered in his book to mankind. I know that many will be praying that you will commit to the studying, if you find in your studies that the message that men have delivered to you is not what God has instructed please show us where we have misunderstood God. Because, if we have delivered a message that God has not reviled, then we need to be corrected. I am sure that God is not your enemy, and men should not be either.

  46. Larry everything you say presupposes that committed, exclusive, adult homosexual relationships intended to be permanent are sinful. I disagree with your presupposition. We just disagree. I don’t know what else there is to say.

  47. Gary, the idea that God had no idea about how the future of human sexuality would roll out is more than a bit foolish in my view, especially when we use that reasoning to reject what is found in scripture. The idea that “if God had anticipated that so many people would want to engage in a particular form of sexual expression, he would have allowed it” is patently absurd. See the Flood for a different perspective about God’s accession to human opinion.
    >>>
    Gary wrote: “That’s all I’m advocating- that gays be treated the same in our churches as our single heterosexual adults.”
    >>>
    I wholeheartedly agree that we should treat all sexual immorality the same, whether it involves heterosexual activity or homosexual activity. Where we are winking at heterosexual immorality while condemning homesexual practice, we are being hypocritical. And there is no excuse for that. But any such human hypocrisy has no bearing whatsoever upon what God’s expectations are.

    If a believer is unable for some reason to marry -after all, that’s not entirely under his control, no matter what his inclination – then he should remain celibate. Failure to do so do is immoral. This statement is applicable to you as well as to me. I find no grounds for this idea that, “I can’t get married, so I should be entitled to have sex anyway,” no matter what the sexual inclination of that believer happens to be. That is “same treatment”, as far as sexual activity is concerned.

    And to be clear, I am unmarried, and thus I am celibate by biblical imperative upon those who are unmarried. My celibacy is “voluntary” only insomuch as I desire to please my heavenly Father more than I desire to please myself. This has been a serious lifestyle change, but my lifestyle is subordinate to my Father’s will. This is not some particular “gift of celibacy”– I sure didn’t have it before, as I have eleven children. Celibacy can be a choice. One need not have super powers to do it, only an ordered set of priorities, which I have found that God will honor.

    Brothers, this discussion reminds me that we often make scripture harder to understand when we continue to observe this artificial barrier between Malachi and Matthew. Paul tells us to flee “sexual immorality”. But what did he mean by that? Gary would argue that sex between two emotionally-committed men is not sexual immorality. So where would Paul get his basis for understanding sexual morality? From the Torah, of course. Believers who ignore this pass-through of divine values from the Torah to the disciples of the Messiah open themselves up to having such definitions questioned. Paul specifically reminded Timothy that Torah (the scripture which Timothy had known since infancy) was still useful for “instruction in righteousness”. When we ignore this, and we blithely insert our own cultural definitions, Gary and others may well have a point in challenging whether such standards are from God or not. We need to hone our own understanding as what is from God, and not assume that traditional western Protestant mores are actually inspired.

  48. Charles you are obviously sincere and I respect your beliefs even where we disagree. I am curious, however, about what you would have the local church to do. Do you advocate disfellowshiping practising gays? Should suspicious couples be interrogated? Should two men or two women sharing the same address be interrogated? Since many progressive Churches of Christ have stopped distinguishing between members of the congregation and nonmember attendees, how would gays who simply want to worship but not be members be dealt with? Would they be turned away or asked to leave? These are not off-the-wall questions. In our society these are or will be real life situations facing more and more congregations. I advocate leaving sexual behavior as a private matter between the individual and God. Exactly what do you advocate in practical terms?

  49. How would we handle an alcoholic member bringing his bottle to services? How about an adulterer bringing his female lover to services?
    For all the reasons Gary has presented as a reason why, they would apply the same if he had the same inclination to love a horse or goat.
    Its a sin as are many other things we all are condemned for. But we do not try to make our sins anything other than a sin and pray for forgiveness instead of flaunting the sin in front of others.
    If your right hand offend, cut it off applies here and castration instead of hell would apply.

  50. If we really get technical about this Alabama John even a castrated man can engage in most homosexual acts so castration is not enough. Why not just burn gays at the stake and be done with it?

  51. I as well as most others are pretty ignorant of gays activities Gary so why don’t you describe on here in detail exactly what those acts are.

  52. Since this subject gets you so worked up Alabama John I’m sure you’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about those acts yourself. It often turns out that men who are the most vehement against homosexuality are in the closet themselves. But alas our dialogue deteriorates. My retort has a serious point. Would you suggest that the covetous gouge out their eyes or that alcoholics be put in solitary confinement? Why is homosexuality singled out for such emphasis? The protestations of evenhandededness are empty rhetoric. No “sin” receives the same attention with conservatives as homosexualuality.

  53. No Gary,
    I just wanted you to see that you don’t want others to know. That says something in itself.
    What we must and will do is pray for you.
    For some reason all the rest of us realize our sins as sins but homosexuals don’t or won’t. They unlike others feel their sin should be accepted and that is not going to happen. Folks are not going to teach their children what you believe about homosexuality is alright and normal.
    Many of us have sinned in many other ways but the first road to getting forgiveness is realizing you have sinned and to ask for that forgiveness.
    I pray you come to that point.

  54. Your reasoning is strange indeed Alabama John. Would you like to describe here an account of your heterosexual activities? I’m sure you don’t. Does that mean heterosexuality is wrong or that you’re ashamed of what you do as a heterosexual? But thank you for your prayers. I appreciate anyone who prays for me. You mentioned children but I don’t think you understand how this works. Gays turn up in the best, most conservative families. No one teaches homosexuality. Homosexuality is as natural for me as heterosexuality apparently is for you.

  55. Gary, I really appreciate your tone, thank you. I can see there being many problems in walking this problem out. My first take is that I would hope that the church would begin in a posture of love and acceptance, rather than beginning like a TSA screener trying to keep somebody off the plane. This must be our baseline, our default setting. God loved us before he started telling us what to do. We should follow his example.

    The next thing that comes to mind is that relationship does not (or at least should not) begin with making sure we “measure up”. (After all, none of us really do. ) We must begin our walk together on some very basic terms: are you a disciple of Jesus Christ? That’s not an exam question, it’s an introduction. We don’t make the new guy “prove it” to our satisfaction before he can walk with us. We start, and we’ll see. Only on that relational basis can we realistically hold ANY expectations of other people. Then, IMO, there has to be the development of connection which allows one believer to speak into the life of another. Why would you take what I say to heart if I refuse to invest in your life? A man who clearly loves me can impart truth to me which I might well reject coming from a stranger. (One big problem in this medium, I would note.) If we cannot love one another, the capacity to tell each other “you’re wrong” does not usually bear a lot of fruit. Jesus said it is our love for one another that identifies us as his disciples; we have for too long substituted “sound doctrine” for “love” in this quotation.

    Now, this initial relationship cannot rest on our carnal demands. If a couple in an immoral lifestyle insists that I validate their choice as the price of their fellowship, I will decline. I can still love them, but if they cannot accept that love on less than their own terms, we will not have much fellowship. “Love me, love my thing” is not a godly construct.

    At some point, we as connected believers must become humble enough to accept teaching and correction from one another if we are to mature. Otherwise, what is the point of the connection? At some point, if three people who have demonstrated their love for me come to me and say, “Charles, you’re malicious in the way you treat people, and you need to change,” then I have to at least consider that they may be right. I might not even see the problem myself (the plank in my own eye, as it were) but if cannot receive the things of God in good faith from such brothers, why am I even here? This sort of humility and trust in God flies in the face of many people on both sides of this argument.

    Gary, the unpleasant possibilities you lay out do, unfortunately, sound like things we might do in our efforts to make other people behave themselves. More’s the pity. Now, here’s where I take my turn to make the other side of the argument more uncomfortable with me. Which is more destructive to the church: sexual immorality among its people, or greed among its leaders? A refusal to see a particular sin, or the doctrine that if a believer sins, that act separates him from Christ? A refusal to accept godly authority in our lives, ar a refusal to acknowledge God’s grace? I do not excuse immorality, nor do I believe that the saints should just sit on their hands while it goes on in their midst. Stubbornness and recalcitrance are not acceptable parts of a Christian’s lifestyle, and we sometimes have to address that as a community. But I am all too aware that we regularly categorize sins in a way that God has not taught us; we have created those familiar two classes of sin, venial (mine) and mortal (yours). This practice is killing our credibility in trying to teach against what is sinful. Before we start asking other people to repent, we might want to start that practice a little closer to home.

  56. Charles thank you for a beautiful and wonderful statement about Christian fellowship. I heartily agree with what you’ve just written. My hand is tired of typing now but I will respond further later. Thank you for showing such a genuine Christian spirit.

  57. Your gracious post last night, Charles, paved the way for a more productive dialogue. I am limited in what I can share in a public forum like this because I do not want to cause pain and opprobrium for loved ones but I will share what I can. I did not act on my sexual orientation for over four decades after becoming aware of it as a young adolescent. I have suffered from anxiety and depression throughout my life. I eventually went into such a dark time that I wanted to die and prayed many nights that I would not wake up. This was before I was sexually active as a gay man. The line in the sand for me was and is that I would not commit suicide. I have always believed that life is God’s alone to take to the point that I have always opposed capital punishment and lean strongly towards pacifism. Also I know how profoundly devestating suicide is to the survivors to the point that they are much more likely themselves to then commit suicide. I continued on this way for what seemed like an eternity thinking that God might at least allow me to die. That is a horrible way to live and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It was during this time that a specific opportunity to have sex with a man presented itself and I succumbed. What followed was almost two years of extreme promiscuity after a lifetime of abstinence. It was like a dam bursting. I am not proud of my promiscuity. I am ashamed of it. I know God has forgiven me but I still pray often for forgiveness for that time in my life. Anyone who thinks that promiscuous gay men can easily just stop doesn’t get it. That is akin to Nancy Reagan’s “Just say no” slogan. Oh I stopped many times during that two years but never for more than a week or two at most. Sometimes I only stopped for a day or two. Sex in general and especially for gay men is not primarily about physical desires although they are certainly a big part of it. Sex with men for me was mainly about deep, unmet emotional yearnings. My favorite part of gay sex by far is being held in a man’s arms. What finally enabled me to stop my destructive promiscuity was meeting my partner and beginning a commited, exclusive, loving relationship with him that we intend to be for life. I have zero desire now to be with other men. Traditional Christians don’t understand this. Proscribing commited gay relationships only drives gay sex underground and results in promiscuity. Which is worse- being in a loving, committed, permanent relationship with one man or having sex with many men? Yet ironically many Christians think I’m worse off now in God’s sight with my partner. You need to understand that a high percentage of gay men who struggle to stop altogether will in practice stop and start and stop and start and go ever deeper into a hole of despair. Only a small minority will achieve celibacy. If that’s what it takes for a gay man to be saved then we are indeed saved by works and not grace. I agree with Paul. To avoid fornication the vast majority of us, gay or straight, need to have a companion for life. Since being with my partner my depression has almost disappeared and I want to live again. He gives me reason to go on living every day. Without him I would want to die again and I can never go back to that living death again. God knows how He has made me and I am confident that He has not left me or forsaken me. I believe that His grace still covers me and I look forward to the coming world of the new heavens and the new earth and an eternal unhindered fellowship with the people of God of all the ages.

  58. Gary —

    I appreciate your candor. Your description of your activities makes me uncomfortable, but that is my own challenge to deal with.

    I’d just like to mention one thing: You seem to be saying that your happiness is found in your new partner. Gay or straight, so long as you feel that way, you aren’t really happy or joyous.

    Joy is internal. The kingdom of God is within. Otherwise, circumstance dictates your joy…and with that being the case, then yes, many sinful acts will create fleeting joy. And the time period can vary from a moment to many years.

    You’ll always feel powerless when you define yourself as being “made this way”, etc. Everything is a choice. And maybe you make the choice to be in gay relationships the rest of your life. But at least own that you are making that choice. Own that, and you become empowered.

    But consider that you are essentially viewing your husband as an idol.

  59. Gary, I hope you understand that when I take the church to task for how it treats people, that is about our acknowledging our own sins, not about turning a blind eye to some sin simply because we have our own sins to deal with. I have my own beam in the eye, and I am accountable for it… but that won’t serve as an excuse for anyone else’s choices. When I argue against how easily we lapse into judgment, I hope people don’t take that as a campaign for carte blanche. I am arguing for us to make room for one another to change, to allow the Holy Spirit the space and time to conform us to the likeness of Christ. We may vary a great deal in what we are being changed FROM, but not in what we are being changed TO.

    All I can say which I think might be useful is this: the boundaries God chooses to set for our lives are for our benefit, whether they seem so to us or not. Many things offer to meet our needs for love and acceptance and emotional support. Not all of them are really in our best interest. The natural man and his emotional drives are deceptive. Many is the addict who honestly excuses his ongoing use because it makes him “feel normal”. But the end result of this “normality” is not to his benefit. The true path for him is much harder… but life is the result.

    Dying to self is HARD, whatever guise it takes. We all give rulership to self in different ways. But that is a beginning, not an acceptable state. I am committed to taking my thoughts and feelings off the throne of my own life, that Another may have unfettered reign. I cannot reserve my intellectual self or my professional self or my relational self or my sexual self as areas exempt from the full lordship of Christ. And I hope to avoid the grand folly of trying to negotiate the terms of my own surrender. I am as yet nowhere near where God is taking me, to that which is the fullness of Christ. But I know that is where I want the Holy Spirit to take me. Even if he has to change my mind on some very important things along the way.

    I will be honest: there are some things which I have given up along the way which I miss… but none which I regret. God is faithful.

  60. I understand where you’re coming from and I might have said the same thing at one time to someone in my present situation. A fellow Christian did share that perspective with me a couple of years ago. We can’t feel the way we should feel. Whatever we feel is just the way we feel and there’s no getting around it. We can choose our actions but not our feelings. Beyond that, however, I don’t think that we can escape the foundational biblical truth that God has so made us that it is not good for us to be alone. I had a friend, now deceased, who was close to the late Burton Coffman. He shared with me how low Burton’s spirits were when his wife, Sissy I believe, died. He described Burton as moping around with one foot in the grave. Then Burton remarried and it was as if he was resurrected from the dead! He was a new man with a new lease on life. I doubt it ever occurred to anyone to suggest that he was making an idol out of his new wife. His friends and brethren simply rejoiced with and for his newfound happiness. No one ever seems to suggest to any heterosexual couple that they might be making an idol out of each other. No offense but it seems it is only for gay couples that this concern is voiced. Remember what the blind man said whom Jesus healed? When questioned by the authorities he said basically, “All I know is that I was blind but now I see!” What I know is that I wanted to die but now I look forward to every day. I think it’s Peter who writes that every good and perfect gift is from the Father above. My partner is a good and perfect gift in my life and I thank God for him every day.

  61. Charles I agree with your perspective on living the Christian life. I guess we just disagree on what constitutes sin. I don’t believe I’m living in sin anymore than all of those couples “we” (the Church of Christ) used to accuse of living in adultery. We accept them now in full fellowship with a clear conscience. God doesn’t change but our understandings of God and his will certainly change.

  62. Gary —

    1) Do u post over at Beck’s?

    2) Regarding idols: I, for one, would make the same argument about a heterosexual couple quite easily…but that is b/c I am single! :) I see that all the time. People that have absolutely no identity other than through another person. I think that is messed up… gay or straight. I was speaking to a friend the other day my same age, and then I asked to speak to his wife (haven’t seen them in several years). I asked her what she had been up to, how was life treating her, etc. All of her answers involved her young children. I said, “Okay xyz, you’ve told me enough about your kids. Good for them. I am curious about YOU…what is going on with YOUR life?” She honestly couldn’t answer. It kind of embarrassed her I could tell (not my intent). But her identity was routed directly through her husband and kids.

    Now, her church will put her up for Woman Of The Year, for certain. I just see it as desperately sad.

    3) I empathize with everything you’ve said in your previous posts. My condition isn’t too dissimilar; just different poisons. I struggle to view God as good. I read in 1st Samuel about God plaguing Saul with a tormenting spirit, which, I am sure, most would argue was a necessary part of His plan in order for David to be seated. So that makes me feel like an expendable pawn, with God as the cosmic puppetmaster.

    Someone might argue, “Well, Gary, maybe God has tortured you your whole life with this and when you are 85 you’ll end up mentoring some young kid about your gay struggles and that kid becomes the next Billy Graham.”

    Gee, thanks.

    So I am TRYING to see if some of the premises upon which I view sin/God/salvation are false. I’m currently studying the Orthodox view of sin/man/God, and the Christus Victor model seems to have reasonable answers that make more sense than some of my foundational beliefs.

    4) I argued this a few months ago in regards to homosexuality: Any sin that I can think of breaks the, what I will call, Law Of Love. I can argue that any sin causes pain to another, thusly not being loving. Except homosexuality. I can’t see how it harms. So if the law of Christ, i.e. love, is actually our new covenant, I don’t see how gay breaks that.

    ^^^You have any thoughts on that, Charles?

  63. JMF, this seems to boil down to, “It can’t be wrong if I’m not hurting anybody.” I don’t see how coveting does direct external harm to another person, either. Stealing something affects its owner, but just coveting it? And what’s wrong with lust? Why not, so long as you don’t DO anything about it? Open up the porn shops to the kiddies. Who gets injured just from looking at a picture? If a poor man steals food from a rich man’s pantry, shucks, that might be considered a net GOOD thing. Poor guy gets a meal, while the rich guy doesn’t have to forego a single bite. Perhaps we should encourage the poor to steal… but only from the rich, and not too much. Who is harmed? It can easily be considered a net social win.

    I am really not trying to be sarcastic here, but the idea that unless I do tangible harm to another person, God should be okay with whatever I am doing is a rather narrow, pragmatist view of following Jesus. It’s actually much more Wiccan than Christian. It is a version of self-rule with only one limit– stop before you get to the end of the other guy’s nose. There is no need for God in this mix, nor any place for him, other than as a judge. One simple law will suffice: “Do as you will and harm none”. And in point of fact, a libertarian would tell you that this is the most valid basis for law. But this has no observable relation to life in Christ.

    To be in Christ means much more than some form of human libertarianism. We are not our own, we have been bought with a price. We are not the rulers of our own kingdoms, we are under the authority of The King. Our feelings and our desires are NOT Lord of Heaven and Earth, no, not even lord of our own little personal jurisdiction. Freedom for us is within the context of our identity in Christ. We are free to do that which is consistent with who we are.

    BTW, sexual immorality, no matter how willing the participants, does harm somebody. It, at the least, harms your partner. It takes two to tango, and you are encouraging another person to engage in specific immoral acts in which they just might not participate without your encouragement. Also, sexual immorality historically tears at the societal fabric. If you don’t believe it, consider how many children born out of wedlock are fully functional and successful in school and in their communities. Consider how many of them grow up in poverty and how much more likely they are to wind up in prison. Traditional marriage is inarguably the most effective means of preserving personal capital, encouraging stable households, and of rearing children who become healthy, contributing members of society. Reduce the effective reach of this particular social value, and lose the benefit. So, even if Joe and Jane (or Joe and Jack) say they are not hurting anyone by their behavior, they unwittingly contribute to the long-term destabilization of society. We are poorer and less safe as a result. It’s like dropping pebbles in a rowboat. No one pebble has enough impact to even measure. But, keep dropping them in, and the boat will most assuredly sink. The fellow who drops in his pebble and says, “See, no problem!” just does not appreciate the whole picture.

    God is way ahead of us on this; he wants Mankind to be whole and to prosper. Following His leadership has that effect on a society, whether they understand how it works or not. Flouting his ways because doing so pleases us seems to me to be the least defensible reason for dropping our own stones in the boat.

  64. Thanks JMF for a very thought-provoking post. I’m not acquainted with Beck’s. It sounds like a store or neighborhood pub! I’m sixth generation Stone-Campbell but I have long been interested in Eastern Orthodoxy and read a fascinating book on Orthodox mysticism some years ago. It was a mind expanding experience. I keep up with news from and about the Ecumenical Patriarch and have prayed for him and the tiny native Greek Orthodox community in Constantinople/Istanbul. Concerning God’s goodness a current movie comes to mind, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. It is a wonderful, life affirming movie I’ve added to my all time favorites list (Dr. Zhivago, Trip to Bountiful, and Avalon). It is not a Christian movie but I hear a Christian truth in a popular saying in the movie: It will be all right in the end and, if it’s not all right it’s not the end. It may sound trite but it lines up with my Christian faith. I have long been keenly interested in Christian eschatology and a precious part of my faith is my anticipation of Christ’s return when he will reign over his kingdom on this earth and usher in the reign of God over all people. We will finally experience the life God has wanted for us all along, a life that will know no pain or sorrow or death or grief. So if it’s not all right now it’s not the end. The best nonbiblical book on eschatology by far is The Coming of God by Jurgen Moltmann. It’s first sentence is one to hold on to through the trials of life: “In the end is the beginning.” We do have to get through this life to be sure but this life is only a prelude to our real life which, in one sense at least, has not even begun.

  65. Charles —

    You make tenuous arguments in your first paragraph to justify bad behavior, essentially suggesting that that is what I am arguing for homosexuality. But that misses the point.

    I can argue how ALL the things you mentioned in paragraph 1 harm others. In fact, you made those arguments for me in large part in your final paragraph. Lusting causes one to view it’s object as, well, an object.

    I didn’t state this in my first comment, but the gay relationship I am discussing is the one Gary argues for: a monogamous, committed, long-term relationship. How/who does that harm?

    Alexander argued that you are not being fruitful and multiplying, thus it is unloving. I said that, by that rationale, I am also being unloving then by not being married and multiplying. He essentially agreed, lol. :) He was consistent — though I think consistently wrong. But that is the only argument I can think of to express why a monogamous gay relationship is unloving and thusly in contrast to Christ’s command to love.

  66. I have never found a place in any of God’s scriptures Old or New that authorizes any man the right to place any of his desires in a position that allows the desire to be number one or above the rules that God has stated that man must live by. Suppose that a man just loved killing other people, loved his mastery over another mans life, the same principles that have been stated here could demand that a man practicing that life style be accepted as worshiper of God in full fellowship with the church. Even so much as that he could demand that no one contest his work. Search diligently and locate that message in scripture so we all can conform and not be at odds with each other about what we think that is not in God’s word.

  67. JMF I want to come back to your comment on the kingdom. The expert among uninspired writers on the Kingdom of God was George Eldon Ladd. I cannot recommend his book The Gospel of the Kingdom too highly. Every Christian should read it and keep it for life. (Eerdmans keeps it in print.) I cut my teeth on the subject of the Kingdom with that book. He shows conclusively from Scripture that the Kingdom has come; the Kingdom is even now coming; and the Kingdom will come in all its fullness when Christ returns. The Kingdom is the reign of God. Wherever we see God reigning we see His Kingdom. You are correct of course that the Kingdom is in the hearts of the people of God. Yet we also yearn for the day when the Kingdom comes and the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We await the beginning of that eternal day when Christ will finally be seated upon His throne. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all the angels then he will sit upon his glorious throne.”

  68. Gary:
    I guess that you will have to help me a little in identifying what you might have reference to about the story or life of David. I assume that you posed something about David to possibly expose that he committed an offence that would render my comment in a different light. Let us hear your thoughts.

  69. David seems to qualify as more than a little bloodthirsty. He “paid” for his wife Michal with the foreskins of 100 Philistines he killed. Even on his deathbed he not so subtly tells Solomon whom to execute after his death. Yet he was also the sweet psalmist of Israel and a man after God’s own heart. In our day David would be convicted of crimes against humanity or imprisoned as a psychopathic killer but God accepted him. God in Scripture surprises us sometimes with evaluations of people that are quite different from what we would otherwise surmise. Lot’s life in Genesis is sordid to say the least but I believe it is James who describes him as “that righteous man.” Samson had a more than healthy libido, enjoyed the rough life and died from suicide. But he is among the treats in God’s heroes of faith in Hebrews. Surely God would have had us fellowship all of these. We seem to be on shaky ground in being able to accurately determine whom God has rejected.

  70. JMF-

    As to the question “Who does it harm?”, my badly-cobbled post was intended to suggest that this question has no bearing whatsoever on what pleases or does not please God, and thus is unworthy of consideration in terms of moral right and wrong. (Analogy: My doing 75 in a 70mph zone yesterday was punishable, not because that particular incident was demonstrated to be dangerous, but because it violated a set standard created by those in authority over me. I can argue the general harm in lawlessness, but that is a superfluous point.) As I stated, the idea that if a behavior does not directly cause discernable harm, it should not be objectionable, is a Wiccan philosophy, not one at all related to Jesus Christ; it is a philosophy which excludes God from the picture entirely. Having painted God out of the picture, this then becomes a philosophical debate in which I frankly find little meaning, beyond pointing out the fact that indirect forms of harm can be attributed to some behaviors, which puts the whole question in some doubt.

    If a man decides to be an atheist, and keeps his mouth shut about it, who does he harm? Himself, because in his unbelief are the seeds of his own destruction. If a believer engages in conduct proscribed by God, at the very least, he is building his house in part from “wood, hay, and stubble” and the eternal reward will be -at best- that this part of his life will have been wasted. More dangerous is the underlying premise that we can rationalize a way to give our own feelings primacy over God’s desires. The MOST dangerous step is the next one, wherein we deceive ourselves into thinking that the actions we have rationalized are actually morally right, and we wrest and ignore the scriptures to wallpaper this deception for general consumption. Once this noxious weed has taken root, it tends to spread its tendrils into other parts of our lives. If my emotional needs take precedence over God’s will, then why not my financial needs? Why not my needs for expressing my anger? Why should I not steal or kill? Am I only NOW doing wrong? Why is stealing “wrong”, anyway? Is it more “wrong” than the inequity of my neighbor having a vast surplus while my children go hungry?

    My point is that we are not subject to a heavenly government before whom we may argue our vision for that governance and have our own voices heard and our views considered. We are ruled by a benevolent despot, one who at times delegates authority, but who never shares it. Gary noted that the difference between his view and mine is essentially a disagreement over what is to be considered “sinful”. This perspective, at least, leaves us within the framework of an external standard. He and I simply disagree over what that standard is, in one specific. But introducing the idea that we might well determine right and wrong by “Who does it hurt?” leads us away from that moral reality into a godless pragmatism. As with Israel of old, here “every man does what is right in his own eyes”.

  71. Gary:
    You have drawn attention to some men of the Old Testament that the narrative in the scriptures explains committed or commanded to be performed actions that you consider that were sinful. Yet, they were upheld in later writings as great. Yet you never knew these men, and the men that wrote the scriptures that bear witness of them never knew them either. But, God through inspiration gave these men the message that they wrote. Evidently, God knew these men in a different way than how you have been able to know them through the reading their accounts. Actually, you cannot know for sure that they were not obeying the commandments that they were given from God. God commanded that the Israelite’s completely destroy many other nations, and all of his instructions were not published. Therefore, you are attempting to read backwards from your prospective and judge these men differently than God has explained his judgments. Now, I guess that as you do not chose to obey teachings of the scriptures, not my judgments, but your own admission, you have attempted to measure your self by what you understand of these men’s lives, they have sinned and therefore since they sinned and God has counted them as great. You must intend to make that same plea at the judgment, how could you God, treat me any different than you did those great men. I am very much assured by the scriptures that this approach with God will not work out well in your behalf. Satan has already tried that approach and it did not work. Did you also take notice of the many that God has written about that he did reject and the reasons for that rejection. There are several mentions of actions that you have promoted, that God pronounced judgments upon. It could be very sad to find out too late what God’s answer will be for you.

  72. Charles my post was not an attempt to justify myself but rather a critique of your reasoning. How would we evaluate someone today who kills 100 men and cuts off part of their genitalia and, on his deathbed, tells his son to kill a number of men? How would the “defense” of intoxication strike us today for a man who impregnated his daughters? (By the way do you think God instructed Lot to do that? Just curious.) Those examples and others should be cautionary stories for us in the present to not judge the standing of others with God. I don’t ask anyone to condone or justify my actions. I have suffered and I mean truly suffered over guilt for the time of my promiscuity. I finally had to face the reality that my wallowing in guilt was not helping me or anyone else on this earth. I decided to go forward with my life being as faithful a disciple of Jesus as I can be. I help the poor and homeless as well as low income neighbors several times a week in the name of Jesus. I love my church family and cherish fellowship with them and worship and sharing the Lord’s Supper together each Sunday. They know I’m a gay man and my partner often goes to church with me. If I am lost then I am lost as a committed disciple of Jesus. But I know whom I have believed and that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him until the day Jesus returns. What I appreciate from others is kindness and a suspension of judgment leaving it in God’s hands where it belongs. I am thankful that my fate is in God’s hands and not in the hands of my brethren, some of whom think they have it all figured out. Jesus clashed with no one in his earthly ministry as much as he clashed with the Scribes and Pharisees who thought they had it all figured out. They woodenly applied the words of Scripture on the Sabbath and rejected the Son of God. But they were just following Scripture! Where in the Torah is the exception to the commandment to keep the Sabbath for healing and doing good. God expected more than a strict interpretation of Scripture. God expected them to use their hearts in interpreting Scripture, the hearts they and we have from being created in the image of God.

  73. Gary,
    Every sinner could use the same reasoning words you present to justify their sin. You are very good at it.
    Do you feel using your reasoning would be right thinking in their minds and justify their actions too?
    The bottom line is what you are doing is a sin and you must stop it. Same as anyone else that is doing all the other things that are sin.
    Justifying is not the answer.
    God help you see the error of your ways. Still praying for you!

  74. None of us is justified before God except by the sacrifice of Christ so I don’t try to justify myself. It is a luxury Alabama John to be able to be simplistic about the challenges others face. My struggles have helped me to cease being judgmental, to look for the good in others and to try simply to relate to others as a member of the body of Christ in the world today. It is a much more free way to live to renounce judging others and to focus instead on being an instrument of God’s blessing in the lives of others. I certainly have regrets in my life but simplistically judging others is not one of them.

  75. My experience tells me not to let a child molester near my grandchildren or a thief in my house alone.
    Using good sense is not unduly justifying.
    I’ve never met an alcoholic, drug addict, adulterer, murderer or homosexual that didn’t have many reasons why. You and your thinking and excuses are old hat to me.
    Dialog won’t do, seen it tried many times, even unto death, only action will.

  76. Congratulations John. It sounds like you can give thanks for not being a sinner like me and other men. But wait. Someone in Scripture tried praying that didn’t they? And he was not the one who went down to his house justified that day. James says that to disobey one of God’s commandments is to be guilty of disobeying all of them. So unless you are totally without sin Alabama John you’re right in the same boat with us gays and drunkards and adulterers and all the bad sinners you seem to have such disdain for. Next time you pray for me you might want to pray for a little humility for yourself.

  77. The difference in you and me is I admit when I sin and repent and ask forgiveness and do my best to quit it. I would bet my book has far more past sin erasures than most.
    You justify, explain it away and keep right on doing the sin.
    There is big differences there.
    Get mad at me for telling it as it is if you choose, but, I won’t dance around this with you.
    There is a Moral Law that is hard as nails. God died for us as none of us could possibly live perfectly as that Moral L aw requires. C. S. Lewis (paraphrasing)
    We can obtain forgiveness, but first must ask for it and you won’t, but spend your time justifying your sin.

  78. No I do ask for forgiveness frequently not only for specific sins I know I’ve commited but for sin in general in my life whether I can name it or not. I also pray frequently that, if my acting on my homosexuality is wrong, that God will forgive me of that as well. I am living the best life I can, not to be saved, but because I want to be as Christlike as possible. Many, many before you in Churches of Christ have adamantly insisted that they know exactly what God will and will not accept but their track record has not been very good. We are in the same boat. We are sinners saved by grace.