My convictions on homosexuality & same-sex marriage

Over the past three decades the topic of homosexuality has been propelled to the forefront of our social and political landscape. Recent Supreme Court cases, sweeping amendments to state statutes, pop-culture and media support and even a handful of vocally liberal church leaders have compelled Christians to galvanize, refine or reevaluate their convictions on the topic. Ready or not, the American church has now been tasked with the responsibility to exercise biblical diligence with propaganda that is more evolved and organized than ever before in our history.

I have been asked about the homosexual debate by a number of discerning Christians; people I believe are devoted to exercising both biblical grace and biblical truth. I have conversations with extremists too but I find those conversations more oriented towards hate-speech and less the disciplines of grace and truth. I will admit that I have been pleasantly surprised by the growing number of thoughtful Christians who are trying to graciously and truthfully articulate their convictions about homosexuality. It was with these people in mind that opened my Bible and began, yet again, to refine my own personal positions on the subject. It was out of this most recent study that I developed the following four general categories outlining my convictions concerning homosexuality and the same-sex marriage debate happening now. I do not consider these concepts to be unique from other schools of thought nor do I believe them to be completely exhaustive. These four points simply constitute the convictions I hold and believe are germane as we witness American churches confronted with a new culture of sexuality.

1. I believe the church is called to exercise true love.

This conviction begins with the premise that Christians, who are theologically and biblically sound, believe the act of homosexuality to be damaging to a person’s soul (their body and spirit). We base this conviction on several passages throughout the Bible. It is not my purpose for this point to thoroughly argue the exegesis or hermeneutics surrounding the passages addressing homosexuality, although I am willing to engage the debate. I will, however, contend that any Christian who opposes the historic and normative church position on homosexuality carries a much heavier burden of proof then do I. The Old Testament law discusses the sin of homosexuality. Jesus discusses the sin of homosexuality. Paul discusses the sin and damaging effects of homosexuality. And, all of this is corroborated by 2000 years of church history and volumes of biblical scholarship asserting the damaging effects (both spiritual and physical) of homosexuality. Because I am writing this for Christians whom I believe are truly trying to exercise biblical grace and biblical truth I will leave any further debate over hermeneutics or exegesis for another day. For our purposes I will assume that professing Christians affirm the historic biblical position on homosexuality; that you believe the act of homosexuality is sinful and therein damaging to one’s body and spirit. Assuming this is the normative conviction of the American church my question then becomes: how can the church truly love the homosexual community and neither speak or act on this truth? Stated another way: How do Christians lovingly condone a lifestyle they believe is damaging another person?

Most functional parents will understand this train-of-thought. In your mind’s eye picture your child when they were three years old. Now envision a heated stove in your kitchen. Assuming you believe the stove is actually hot, does true love compel you to support your child’s decision to touch the hot stove? What if your child really wants to touch the hot stove? What if your child believed they were born to touch the hot stove? What if your child was empowered by the constitution of the United States to touch the hot stove? With all of these compelling factors would you be persuaded to support your child’s decision to touch the hot stove? Would your positions evolve under the pressure of your child’s resentment, genetic arguments or the U.S. constitution? Or would your true love prompt you to do everything within your power to discourage your child from burning their hand on the hot stove?

If you are a discerning believer who holds to high view of the Bible then “true love” should compel you. True love should challenge any mediocrity, reluctance or ambivalence you have towards the homosexual debate. Not only is it an affront to 2000 years of church scholarship, one could argue, it is inhumane and cruel to believe the Bible to be true and yet compromise on the topic of homosexuality. The two paradigms are illogical and irreconcilable. The church does not truly love the homosexual community if we are unwilling to discourage the behaviors we truly believe are damaging that same community of people.

2. I believe the church is called to affirm a higher morality.

This conviction is based on our standards for measuring morality. We must first decide whether morality is subjective or objective? In other words, is morality something I determine or is it something that is determined beyond my thoughts, feelings and influence? I have met many people who are living a homosexual lifestyle and I can honestly say that most of them are very “nice” people. Most of them have extended dignity and shown goodness to me. If morality was subjective then I might be inclined, due to my fondness for these friends, to alter or altogether change my convictions about their behavior. But, what measure of morality should I trust? Should I trust a subjective or objective measurement? If I trust subjective morality then how can I disagree with really “nice” liars? If I trust subjective morality then how can I disagree with really “nice” people who cheat on their spouse or evade paying their taxes? Subjective morality does not allow me to disagree.

This argument of trust can be taken a step further when we apply it to broader concepts of sexuality – concepts that may become “open for discussion” in the future. One real-life example of this would be a grandmother and grandson who are now living in New Zealand and have decided to get married and have a child together using a surrogate’s uterus. They seem to be very happy and it appears they are “not hurting” anyone with their sexual activity or the steps they are taking to produce a child together. They would say they are “in-love” and they have proven themselves to be congenial enough to at least be interviewed by their local news paper. Should we subjectively trust their judgment or be swayed to alter our convictions because they are nice people who are in-love?

Eventually a subjective morality becomes unreliable and we need something more reliable to stand-on. We must trust and cling to an objective truth that does not decay or vacillate with our perceptions, preconceived ideas of justices and whims of emotion. This is why choosing to trust an objective moral truth is critical to ANY moral decision, not just the topic of homosexuality.

3. I believe that biblical roles and functions must be maintained.

This concept is specific to the recent debate over civil rights; the legal rights for homosexual-unions currently being heard by our Supreme Court. It is conspicuous that the Bible does not assign the definition – or any of the functions related to marriage for that matter – to the agency of government. I believe the government is an agency that has been appointed by God for a specific function (Rom 13:1-7). I believe that function to be the preservation of life and the administration of law and order. However, I also believe in the agency of church and I believe it is the biblical role of the church to represent and advance the ministry of Jesus Christ (cf. John 8:31, 15:8 & 18, Luke 21:17, Mark 13:13, Matthew 10:22).

Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience in Mark 7:20-21 and Matthew 15:18 about the sins of sensuality and sexual immorality, which this audience would have understood this teaching to include homosexuality (Cf. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). Later in Matthew 19:4-6 Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man [masculine singular] shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife [feminine singular], and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” According to these passages it’s clear that Jesus not only views homosexuality as sinful, he further defines marriage as exclusive to one man and one woman joined together as one flesh for a lifetime. Jesus offers terminology that defines the intent and design for marriage based on the biblical meta-narrative of sexuality (Cf. Gen. 2:24, Mark 10:7 and Eph. 5:31). And because this is a teaching of Jesus Christ it is the church’s function to represent and advance this teaching. Conversely, it is NOT the government’s function to purvey the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. This should preclude our government from being part of the topic of marriage altogether. In any event, it is the responsibility (not to be confused with prerogative) of the church to purvey the definition of marriage given by Jesus Christ with or without our government’s agreement or consent.

4. I believe the church is called to guard terminology.

Understanding terminology and employing it correctly as a Christian is critical because it connects to one of the strongest arguments supporting homosexuality within the church. The term “sin” is becoming alarmingly less synonymous with homosexual behavior. Homosexuality is viewed by a growing contingent of Christians as something that is as uncontrollable as a person’s race or sex. The vast majority of Christians would never say that I am sinful because I am a Caucasian male. In the same sense, if homosexuality is as uncontrollable as a person’s race or sex then human decency dictates the behavior of homosexuality be A-moral as well. This conviction naturalizes the lifestyle homosexuality making it an unalienable quality embedded within the fabric of a person’s mentality, physicality and spirituality.

In his only published novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the 19th century poet, Oscar Wilde, is quoted as saying, “The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.” Suffice it to say this was a well-practiced conviction for Mr. Wilde considering he died from syphilis at the age of 46, one decade after writing these words. This hedonistic conviction stands in stark contrast to the words we read in Matthew 16:24 (cf. Luke 9:23) when Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” To conclude that the naturalization of homosexuality renders it A-moral is an argument based on a type of morality that condones unbridled impulse (hyper-hedonism). This argument suggests that anyone who is predisposed to think, act a feel a certain way should be left to their devices because their inclination is the greater good. In actuality it is an affront to a human being’s conscience and God-given dignity because as this argument simply relegates the person acting on immoral behavior to something primordial or animalistic – an uncontrollable animal instinct. While based in self-gratification, the effort behind this argument is to remove culpability from a person engaged in homosexuality by making their lifestyle as uncontrollable as their gender or skin color. However, ask the same proponent about adultery or sexual promiscuity or deception and the vast majority would affirm those behaviors as being personal decisions; a controllable choice. I personally believe that men are predisposed to want to have sex with women so does this male predisposition sanction the act of adultery? Most Christians believe that a “straight” man or woman who commits adultery is choosing to do so, and the term the Bible connects to that choice is called sin. People who lie to their bosses are deciding to lie, and the term connected to that decision is called sin. People who gossip and slander are making a decision to defame, and the term connected to that decision is called sin. People with homosexual tendencies living a homosexual life are choosing, of their own volition and faculty, to engage a homosexual lifestyle, and the term that is connected to that choice is called sin.

Guarding certain terminology such as “choice” and “sin” is critical to understanding the goodness of God. Jesus has empowered us with the life-giving choice of denial; the choice to suppress our sinful nature through his nature and way of living. Where hedonism endeavors to satisfy every whim and impulse, Jesus endeavors to bring life and goodness through the denying one’s self and the taking-on of his yoke (Matt 11:29).

You may disagree with my convictions and even question why I decided to write this article. It is not my intention to be caustic or inflammatory. I can only offer anyone reading this the assurance that my convictions were born out of a desire to see people take-on the easier yoke and lighter burden of Jesus Christ. My desire is for everyone I know to experience the amazing abundance found away from an alluring enslavement (Rom 6:1-7) and within the provision of God’s truth and grace.

-Matt

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About Matt Brecht
Lead Pastor of NorthPointe Church

8 Responses to My convictions on homosexuality & same-sex marriage

  1. Marsha says:

    Very well done Matt, thank you for writing this article.

  2. jess says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for your eloquence on the subject. Your writing is truly an answer to prayers I had earlier today as I was driving in the car thinking on the subject of homosexuality and wondering if I was wrong in my convictions. This writing, however, enforced everything I already felt and explained it all so much better than I was capable of. Thank you for being brave enough to share your convictions.

  3. Mike Werner says:

    Matt, thanks for this well thought out article. We see the lie that I was born this way and I don’t have a choice repeated so much that it has become truth to those not inclined toward a biblical world view. I do believe that some people were born with a struggle in this area and like any other propensity toward a certain sin their same sex tendency’s are real to them. I also believe that through the renewing of ones mine through scripture reading and meditation and earnestly seeking God’s power to overcome the struggle that one can, not only overcome, but experience victorious Christian living! Why, become I am living prove in my struggle to overcome a strong addictive pull that I brought into my new found relationship with Jesus Christ. Today as long as I maintain proper boundaries, I don’t even desire to go down that addictive path. By God’s grace and continually sowing good seeds this strong sinful pull has little sway in my life.

    • mattbrecht says:

      Mike thanks for the your words. Your testimony is strong and your foundation on biblical truth is very sound. You are an ambassador representing the newness of Christ! Thank you for letting your light shine.

  4. larry says:

    Matt,
    Great job on this and your boldness is wonderful to see. I love that you differentiate between acting on a tendency and just learning to control or deal with that tendency. The same sex issue needs to involve a choice and act to be called sin. If the desire comes about and the person remains celibate with sexual issues, they never got to the place of sin as it states in James 1:12-15. So would it be too bold for me to say, “A non practicing male or female who has homosexual tendencies but does not act on them, they are not ‘in sin’.” I have a few friends that I believe are single non practicing heterosexuals and homosexuals. I feel both are doing well to deal with the urges and not acting on their urges. Is this something you would like to comment on?

    Larry

    • mattbrecht says:

      Thanks Larry. Really good thoughts. I think we agree.

      James 1 says, “… when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Jesus also says in Matthew 5:28, “I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” These verses indicate to me that lust is an intentional act of the mind that produces sin. However, I do believe that people have urges that they can choose to dispel or not to act on. People have urges that they can keep from becoming lust because lust is the manifestation of sinful behavior in one’s mind. It also says in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Therefore, I believe people with both homosexual and heterosexual tendencies who are trying to follow Jesus have been empowered to keep sinful thoughts from manifesting into lust.

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