According to an article written by Jonathan Merrit, a senior columnist for Religion News Service, a gay couple was barred from leading worship at Hillsong Church in New York City.Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly, billed as the Broadway Boyfriends on the reality show “Survivor: San Juan del Sur — Blood vs. Water,” were involved in worship leadership roles at Hillsong Church NYC. After the couple was engaged at their Jan. 28 concert, From Broadway to Survivor, Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz asked the couple to step down from leading. However, the couple was welcome to remain at Hillsong and continue singing on stage each week, just not in an official leadership capacity. Though Hillsong holds a traditional view of marriage, they also wish for gay couples to feel welcome. Pastor Carl Lentz stated, “We have a lot of gay men and women in our church and I pray we always do.”
My struggle with this situation is not the idea of loving homosexuals and welcoming them when they attend our church. All people are broken, and in need of the grace that only the gospel can provide. However, I take issue with the idea that you can accept gay couples into the membership of a church, condone or even embrace their sinful lifestyle, and go on as though nothing is out of order.
Before you accuse me of hating, please understand that I do not believe homosexuality is the only sin in the Bible and I am certainly not on a gay bashing mission. As I have already stated, we should be welcoming and loving to all who walk through our doors on any given Sunday. However, there is a difference between walking into a church and joining a church. For those who do not take church membership seriously, you may want to quit reading this article now. But, for those who do take church membership seriously, we must answer a very important question–is homosexuality a sin? I know that some will say, “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality”.
Yet, Jesus didn’t have to because He said everything we needed to hear about sex and marriage, thereby establishing the once for all standard to measure all sexual relationships as being either right or wrong, as recorded in Matthew 19:3-6;
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
In this passage, Jesus not only defines what marriage is, he also reaffirms the gender differences and establishes, without question, that sex and marriage is between a man and a women. These words spoken by Jesus are the final verdict on the question of sexuality and marriage–Period. Therefore, any sexual relationship outside the confines of the standard given by Jesus is sin–Period.
We lovingly point all sinners to the cross that they may see the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. As the Spirit breaks open their hearts, they are broken about their sin and repent and rest in the work of Christ. This is the result of regeneration. As regenerated believers join the church they are no longer the same person they once were. They have been changed, made alive, by the transforming power of the gospel. This is what Paul was talking about in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 when he said:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The glory of the gospel is that it changes us. No – we are not perfect, and yes, we will still struggle with our sinful desires. However, we will no longer embrace them or condone them, but rather we will confess them and strive to forsake them for the sake of the gospel.
The point of this article is not to lift up homosexuals as the greatest of all sinners. We are all great sinners. Rather, it is to remind us that the local church is a place for all sinners, transformed by the power of the gospel, to gather together, not for the purpose of condoning and accepting the sinful behavior of each other, but to confront and condemn the sin in each others lives so that we may be conformed into the image of Christ. The rise of homosexuality being championed in many churches today, begs the question; Do we believe the Bible is the source of moral truth? If so, then we are obligated to submit to it as the final authority concerning all matters of sin in our lives. Those who call themselves ‘Christians’ and join a church body, should be willing to be judged by the standard of God’s Word as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13.
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.
The searching question for church leaders today is, are we willing to follow the principles of the New Testament church in a post-modern world?