Christian Answers on LGBTQ Questions
“Does David and Jonathan’s relationship condone homosexuality?” “Can a homosexual serve in my church?” “Should I allow my son/daughter/friend to stay overnight in my house with their partner?” Dozens of questions fill our minds when it comes to how the church behaves around the LGBTQ community. Without a doubt, showing genuine love is the most important, but there are definitely some practical questions that stump us. For two weeks we’ll be airing a 2-part Q&A series called “Human Sexuality.” At a recent event we held (Sexual Identity) we had a live panel that gave Christian answers on LGBTQ questions from the audience. The panel consisted of a popular Bible teacher, a Christian apologist, and a pastor. The answers are biblical and genuine and will be sure to help you in your mind.
Want to watch the entire event? Check it out here!
Dr. John Neufeld is the Bible Teacher at Back to the Bible Canada.
Also, Steve Kim (the Christian Apologist) works at Apologetics Canada.
*Below is an edited transcription of the audio conversation.
What About David and Jonathan in the Bible?
Okay so here’s the first one: Usually homosexuals justify themselves in the Bible by quoting the David and Jonathan relationship. They had affection for each other as lovers, apparently. What can you say about that?
You know, David says to Jonathan, “Your love was better to me than the love of women,” and that’s usually the passage that is quoted.
Let me tell you a little story around this that might help – and it might help all of us. Years ago my wife and I had a wonderful Christian brother stay at our home who had survived the killing fields of Rwanda. We had this delightful time together and I must say that this dear brother and I who had, I mean, he had escaped death on numerous occasions, I mean, we really had a bromance as they say these days. And so when we were done and he was going to fly back home, my wife said, “You know, I just got to take a picture of you two men standing together,” so she took a picture outside the house. And he reached over and took my hand – holding hands. Because, where he comes from that’s a very acceptable thing for men to do. You’d be shocked to think that it might be a sexual sign. When he took my hand I froze and became a statue. And, you know, he was wise enough cross-culturally and thought, “Oops, I crossed the line there.” So, you know, we kind of let that one go and said, “How ‘bout those BC lions?” that kind of thing.
Here’s what I want to say by that, however. In a sexualized culture where everything is sexualized, where ads on television are constantly sexualized, where people are taught from childhood to think in sexual terms, where they see sexual images by the thousands and the hundreds of thousands before they even reach puberty, it’s almost impossible for us to believe that genuine male love between one man and another man can be expressed in terms of exactly that – that men could actually express love that’s not sexualized. But indeed there are cultures that don’t do what we do. That’s my response.
And I would just quickly add to that. My experience has been the reversal of that, because I came here when I was fourteen with my family, and my culture shock was the other way. We had this PE class one time and we ran or whatever, and as I started slowing down there was this friend of mine, so I put my hand on his shoulder and he immediately turned around and said “Please don’t do that.” So I was like, “Oh, okay, we can’t do that,” Then my parents, they were taught specifically before they came to Canada, “Don’t touch children. Do not touch children.” Because in Korea it is very common for people that are older to touch kids. The expectation is that this is nothing sexual.
This gentleman here, are you Korean by any chance? Yes, you’re nodding. Isn’t that true though? I mean, certain things we would consider sexual here are not considered sexual there. If you want an example of that, you can come and talk to me later.
That almost looked prophetic, like, “You’re Korean.”
Blessings on you brother.
I actually know him and he’s a great man, so, just to let you guys know that!
Telling a Christian Practising Homosexual They’re in Sin
Alright let’s move onto the next question: How do you tell a homosexual person who says that they’re also Christian, so a Christian homosexual, that it is something that they need to work on? How do you even approach that situation?
The warning passages that are there in Pauline literature. And also the warning passage at the end of Revelation, which warns us that no one who practices sexual immorality will be a part of the Kingdom of God.
So, there’s a point to be made here and the point goes like this: We would not elevate homosexuality as a greater sin than we would elevate adultery, so here’s the issue – if I’m an adulterer but I will not repent, and say, “Look, I can be a Christian and adulterer at the same time,” I can’t.
We have bought in our culture a view of the gospel which is not Scriptural. You cannot live in Christ Jesus and willfully sin.
Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10; “If we deliberately go on sinning after we have received a knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left.” These are strict warning passages for every believer. If we make a practice of not putting to death the misdeeds of the body, we will not live – regardless of what we confess to be true. So I think we need to contain a warning, but let’s not, as has been said, pick on the homosexual community. Let’s pick on the sexual brokenness in every single human being, saying, “We can’t live in this.”
And if I were to quickly add to that again. If you’re actually talking to somebody face-to-face, a Christian who is homosexual and is practicing, I would just ask that person, again, in the context of trust and relationship (that’s the best place for this sort of a thing), I would just ask that person about some of these passages that Dr. Neufeld mentioned, and say, “How do you read that? Tell me.” And then you can take the conversation from there, but that might be a good way to get the conversation started. Get that person’s thoughts on these passages.
Yeah, I think questions are really, really powerful. We, in Christianity here, are both called to abstain from things and engage in things. And I think we need to have a conversation where we’re called to abstain, but also engage. In the sense that, I think as the church we should have a community that is so beautiful, so accepting, so loving that we don’t just abstain from this, this, and this, but engage. What I mean by that is, in friendship, right? As a church we need to be able to offer, when we say “Don’t do this,” we should be saying also, “But do this.”
Should Homosexuals Remain Single?
Next question is this: Should homosexuals just remain single forever?
That’s a tough question, right? I mean, celibacy isn’t easy for many people. Some people have the gift for it, other people, like myself, I probably couldn’t do it. The short answer is, “Yes,” but I need to add to that because it’s not just the homosexuals that are required to do this when it comes to sexual purity. I mean, the proper context for sexual acts is heterosexual marriage relationships, so anything outside of that is game. As singles you should abstain from sexual acts. If I am a divorced man, scripture teaches that if I engage in sexual acts with another woman I am committing adultery. So the question isn’t so much, “Is this about singling out homosexuals and picking on them?” No, it’s for everybody, it’s a matter of sexual purity in the Christian community.
Homosexuals in the Family
This next question I think a lot of people will be able to relate with: How do you deal with a family member who will only visit (or dine or vacation) with you if they come with their homosexual partner? Do you provide a room in your house for them to stay over? How do you engage that situation?
It’s a pastoral question, it’s also a heartfelt family question. There are some things that I would do in my home, so I’m just going to talk now. I don’t have that situation in my home, but if I did, what would I do?
One thing that I do know in regards to my children: I will not break relationship with my children, I will not. I will not. I’ll do everything I can to keep that door open because as it’s open there’s an opportunity to dialogue.
Now having said that, I would also say, let’s say one of my kids, forget the homosexual situation, was living outside of wedlock in a heterosexual relationship and they wanted to sleep in my home. My answer would be “No.” I would simply say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” So here’s the deal: if you come to my house and you like to smoke big fat cigars, more power to you, you’re just not doing it in my house. You know what? It’s my house. I got rules in my house. You don’t like the rules in my house? That’s it, doesn’t mean I don’t like you, doesn’t mean I don’t love you. But the reality is, in my house and in my family this is how we roll. So that’s where I am.
Well I think, and this is descriptive too, because mine’s the exact opposite. So my sixteen year old nephew came over and spent two months with me this summer and he smokes a lot of pot. Now, he’s not allowed to smoke inside my house, but he sure did go for a lot of walks. But I talked a lot about Jesus to him, right?
So if the couple in question is, you know, in the motel room down the road and they keep coming over for lunch and supper, I’d always have them – that’s a fact.
Being Born with An Inclination to Homosexuality
Okay. The next question is: If sinfulness is inherited as outlined in Romans, is it possible that one might be born prone to a particular type of sinful activity like homosexuality? Giving way to “being born” in a particular way?
I’ll take this one. It goes back to that idea of “you’re born this way.” But just because you’re born this way doesn’t mean it is good for you to do that way. I mean, if I were born with, you know, again, I’m also genetically predisposed to depression apparently, so, yeah, there’s a lot of problems in my family! Could you pass down some other genes? Like being smart and things like that? Anyways, that doesn’t mean I should be permitted to just drinking alcohol and cutting myself.
There is still moral accountability even though you may have some natural inclinations to one thing or another.
I think it’s possible (I don’t know how the Bible’s speaks to this), I think it’s more than likely that all of us have a sin-style. And what I mean by that is there are some individuals that love the Lord, but if you’re on the counting team in your local church for the offering, you shouldn’t be there. I mean, it’s just because you struggle with greed and theft and you need to safeguard your own soul.
So the reality is that we all have a brokenness that’s felt in various different ways. So when it comes to our own sexuality, none of us are whole. How many of you know that? None of us are whole. The fact is that we, you know, we haven’t talked about things like pornography. We haven’t talked about all sorts of other things, but there are thousands and thousands of expressions of our sexual brokenness.
Here’s the key: As a believer you can grow in holiness and an appreciation for a given thing.
So, men, let’s say you’re married and your wife is 4”8 and on the pudgy side. You know what? Let me tell you something about you: You love short pudgy women – you just love them. I don’t mean to be ungracious here, and I’ll say something else. It’s all a matter of style because if you look at paintings in museums of the past, that was the style! People thought that was the most beautiful thing in a woman. And now we changed the style. We think something else is the most beautiful thing.
Here’s the deal: you can train your tastebuds. We all do! The culture trains our tastebuds. So what we desire can be changed in every single one of us. That would be my response to that.
Saying to Someone, “You’re Going to Hell.”
That’s good, that’s great. Alright, the next question is: How can I respond when someone tells another person they’re going to hell because of their homosexual sin? How do you now approach that situation?
I think it’s unfortunate when any believer says to anyone: You’re going to hell. Here’s what we need to understand:
We’re all going to hell. Our sins condemn every one of us – we’re deserving of it.
That’s the reality, so we shouldn’t pick out on someone and say, “Your sins will make you go to hell.” We have all sinned.
You want to know the biggest sin of all? This is it: Failure to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. That condemns us out rightly.
So stop talking that way if you do. I’d interrupt the conversation and say, “Stop it.”
Homosexuals and Church Service
That’s good. Alright, last question: What do you do when someone is a practicing homosexual and wants to be in a leadership role at your church? Or wants to help with Sunday school? Even stack chairs? Serve in any capacity?
Well, at least in my perspective, there are definitely some roles in our church (at least ours) where a practicing homosexual who’s a non-believer can actually, like, participate. Because we actually do believe that people can belong before they believe, right? Now, that does change if they now claim themselves to be a Christian, and we’ve talked a little bit about that. But if a young adult, and this has happened in leadership, they start sleeping with their girlfriend. It’s like, “You cannot do that!”
And so, I think as long as we’re really, really, really precise in letting people know that we’re not hating on homosexuals or hating on this community. No, no, no. We just have certain standards by which we expect of our leaders. But there are definitely roles for practicing homosexuals, at least at Ethos.
I think that’s key. We’re not singling out homosexuals. I mean, when somebody is caught in an adulterous relationship, we will rightly ask that person to step down from a leadership position. So it’s not just the homosexuals.