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Response to Alan Chambers

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An interview in a recent issue of The Atlantic provoked more debate over evangelical views toward same-sex relationships. Christianity Today asked me, among others, to respond. My response was posted this morning.
Can Christians embrace a same-sex lifestyle and still be members in good standing in a Christian church?

I’ve been asked to comment on the controversy provoked by a recent interview in theAtlantic with Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International—an evangelical ministry founded to help Christians and non-Christians find freedom from the guilt and power of a same-sex lifestyle.

Christians may debate public policy, but in this interview, Chambers raises issues that are very clearly addressed in Scripture. Especially when we are dealing with human lives, daring to draw our counsel from God, we need to affirm the simplicity of biblical teaching on the subject while rejecting an over-simplifying of the issues involved.

The problem (sin and death) as well as the solution (redemption in Christ through the gospel) are simple, but hardly simplistic. In terms of sin, Scripture is quite clear about the condition (original sin—guilt, bondage, corruption leading to death) and the acts that arise from it. There are versions of the pro-gay and anti-gay agenda that assume a simplistic rather than simple understanding of the issue—at least from a biblical perspective. Reject it or embrace it: that’s the easy choice that makes for great sound-bites but ruins lives.

So let’s apply this “simple but not simplistic” formula to homosexuality.

To read the rest of the article head to Christianity Today’s website.

Also check out this Modern Reformation article “Such Were Some of You”
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  • Guest - Matt

    Well this is almost a year old so I don't suppose anyone will ever see this comment but, I just came across it in an internet search and wanted to respond to the article referenced - even if no one ever sees it.

    It was a decent article, as far as it went. More compassionate than most,certainly. But as I read it, I felt, well, discouraged.

    I am homosexual (in attraction) but not gay (I do not affirm gay behavior or any sexual behavior outside of man/woman marriage)

    I have been and still am Christian and a member of the LCMS.

    From the time I was 11 or 12 and realized that I was attracted to other guys, I have chosen celibacy. If Christ gave His life for me, then I can certainly strive to give up sex for Him.

    But whenever I hear Christian's speak or write about homosexuality, it seems like all they have to offer is in the abstract.

    Or maybe this will show what I mean.

    When I go to pastors and tell them about my struggle with same sex desire, here are some of the typical responses:

    1: In response to calling myself "homosexual," "You should not be putting your identity in your sexuality"

    "OK, cool, I don't want to put my identity in my sexuality, that's why I'm celibate, but I don't know how to put it anywhere else. That's why I came to you. To put my identity in Christ I need the Gospel. Can you please tell me what Christ has done for me?"

    2: "Sin is more than what we do, sin is who we are, mere obedience to God's command is not enough. You are no different than anyone else who faces sinful desires like pedophiles and kleptomaniacs. Like them you need to repent of your perverse desires"

    "OK, but that's why I'm celibate, because I believe my desires are in a direction contrary to what God created sex for. So please let me know how much more I need to repent before you will finally tell me what Christ did for me - cause I pretty much have hated myself every day of my life since I was 11 and I'm not sure how much more repenting I can do. So, let me know what I need to do to hear you tell me what Christ has done for me, because that is what I need."

    3: "You need to believe that God is working in your life. God promises to use all things to the good of those who love Him and God will see your through. Just have faith."

    "Alright, but pastor, could you please tell me what Christ did for me that I need to have faith in. Because I'm a pretty weak believer and I can't make myself trust in Jesus. I need to hear you tell me what He did for me."

    4: "Christ doesn't call us to an easy life but to one of cross bearing."

    "Yeah, I know. And I get up every day afraid that I will hear a conservative Christian call people like me a pervert.... or a liberal Christian, very nicely, tell me that I'm stupid for choosing celibacy and lay on me a law of self-esteem....or the gay community call me a hypocrite and a hater for choosing to honor Christ with my body. So, yeah, I get it that we are to bear a cross. But does that really mean that Church has to be the loneliest and scariest place in the world for me? Does it mean other Christians can't be my friend? I haven't had a casual conversation on the phone with a friend in a year, my parents haven't smiled at me in 3 years (ever since I 'came out' to them), I haven't had a hug in at least that long and I don't even remember the last time I had a beer with a Christian friend. OK, so I have to bear a cross, but does the Bible really require the Church to turn its back on me while I do it? Dear pastor, can't you please tell me what Jesus did for me?"

    You see, that's the problem with this article and dozens like it, they talk of homosexuality in the abstract. You can find dozens, if not hundreds of articles about HOW we should approach the topic of homosexuality. You can find thousands of articles ABOUT homosexuality. But the only ones writing articles that talk TO homosexuals are the liberal churches. It seems like the only thing the conservative Churches want to do is to tell homosexuals to repent and then talk among themselves about what they should do if a homosexual ever does repent. But they don't actually want to tell homosexuals who Christ is and what He did for them.

    So, yeah, I get it. Alan Chambers was wrong to say what he said. But, you know what, at least he was trying to talk TO homosexuals about Christ. He made a mistake.

    But I have met dozens of homosexuals who received faith in Christ in a liberal Church and then, as time went by and they studied the Bible, they realized that the Church they were in was not telling the truth and they repented of their behavior and worked toward celibacy.

    In the last 3 decades, I have never ever met a single person who first realized his behavior was wrong at the preaching of a conservative pastor or commentator, repented, and then went looking for Christ. In fact, I dare you to find a single person who can say "I was not a Christian. But I heard a pastor telling me that homosexuality is a sin. So I repented. And then I went looking for someone to tell me about the forgiveness of Christ." In the real world it just doesn't happen that way - Ever.

    So someday I would really like to read an article or hear a sermon or meet a pastor who would talk TO me and tell me what Christ has done for me.

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  • Guest - Daniel

    Dear Matt,
    thank you for your very honest comment. I don't pretend to know much about your experience as someone with same sex attraction. I can tell you that what you keep asking about, what Christ did for you, the gospel, is all about unmerited favor. I encourage you to listen, watch, or read anything by pastor Joseph Prince. Unmerited favor is what we have been given freely, no strings attached and its what every man and woman longs for. I know that unmerited favor, or grace, is what satisfies and has sustained me in my most difficult moments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gE2hnRJp2fc&list=PL4B0CC864338E3F9F

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