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Gay & Christian? - Yes & No!

Gay & Christian? - Yes & No!

By Dr. David Kyle Foster
Special to Virtueonline
August 17, 2014

In recent months, there has been a huge misconception about the closure of Exodus International. The truth is that the leader of Exodus and his hand-picked board decided to shut the main office down. Most of its member ministries, counselors and church leaders, however, did not shut down and continue to offer the same kind of life-changing help that they always have. That includes the primary founder of Exodus (Frank Worthen) and most of their longest running and largest ministries. Many now operate under the banner of www.RestoredHopeNetwork.org. Visit them and find hope for yourself or your loved one.

As a result of that crisis and some new books being written by various others who have lost faith in the power and promises of God, there began a discussion recently about whether someone can be a practicing homosexual and Christian at the same time. My good friend Dr. Michael Brown has just written an excellent and detailed book on the subject called Can You Be Gay and Christian?

First we need to define "Christian" which in its simplest definition is "someone who follows Christ".

Jesus was very clear that a person needs to repent (turn from their sin), and believe in Him as their "Lord" (follow Him) and their "Savior" (allowing Him to save them rather than trying to save themselves). When they genuinely do so, they are "born again" or "born from above" meaning that God regenerates their human spirit and unites it with God.

Someone who says "I'm going to believe in Jesus but achieve salvation via my own good works" is not responding to the offer that was given. They are not "believing in Jesus" at all. Consequently, they have not yet been "saved" or "born again" despite their claims. They haven't embraced the offer as described.

Similarly, someone who says, "I'm going to believe in Jesus but continue to sin whenever and however I want" is also not understanding the conditions of the offer. According to the only person who can save them (Jesus) they are not saved. The Apostle Paul is very clear about this in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

Here is where the confusion can come in: the world uses the word "faith" to mean "intellectual assent or agreement". Sometimes it even calls warm, romantic notions "faith". But the Bible defines "faith" very differently. The biblical definition of "faith" is "agreement that runs so deep in one's being that one changes one's behavior accordingly". In other words, to "believe" in Jesus does not simply mean that you agree that He lived, or that He was a good person or that He taught wonderful things. Rather, "believing in Jesus" means that you embrace Him as the Creator/Lord that He is and all that He says and realign your life to be consistent with His teaching. James put it this way: "faith without works is dead". In saying that, he was referring to this change of behavior that saving faith automatically inaugurates in the life of someone who has truly been born again.

Jesus is not interested in leaving people in their state of brokenness and sin. He is interested in transforming them from the inside-out so that by the power of the Holy Spirit newly resident within them, they now desire to walk in holiness. Of course, since only our spirit has been "born again" (not the body or the soul), we continue to struggle with the temptations of the flesh, and sometimes give in to them, but the difference for a truly "born again" person is that he now has a strong and resolute desire to forsake temptations and to turn to God for His power to resist and overcome them. A partnership between his newly formed will and God's power begins that brings a progressive change in his lifestyle.

When someone initially claims to have given their life to Christ, there is no option but to believe them. We cannot read what is in their heart to see if the Law has been truly written on it by God (see Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:24-27; Hebrews 10:16). We cannot immediately tell if they really understood Christ's offer and are on board with it.

But the Scriptures are very clear that the veracity of their claim will soon be evident by changes in their life, or not. After some days, weeks and months, there should be evidence of a changed heart - a newfound desire to be holy combined with sincere progressive efforts to live according to the pattern laid down by God in Scripture.

One caveat is in order, however. Some people don't change certain behaviors right away because they have not yet understood them to be sinful. God knows the heart of every man and will time the revelation of each of his sins to him according to his level of understanding and ability to successfully address them. If He were to reveal all of our sinfulness at once, it would discourage us from ever beginning the journey. So He is very cautious and time-perfect in how He works with us to transform us into His image.

That explains why I answer "Yes and No!" to the question, "Can a person be a practicing gay and a Christian?" For someone who has multiple, deeply entrenched strongholds of thought and practice in sin, it can take time for the Holy Spirit to address each sin area. However, if the Holy Spirit genuinely resides in them, the process of revelation of sin will begin immediately and grow progressively over the weeks, months and years.

God tends to deal with the most dangerous and damaging strongholds first, so I would expect to see revelation on the sinfulness of homosexual behavior immediately, or at least within the first week or two. In my case, despite over a decade of being deeply entrenched in the gay lifestyle, and at first not being convinced at all that it was sinful, I knew within the first week that God wanted me to stop committing sexual acts outside of marriage and that homosexual acts would never again be a part of my life. No one told me that. It was simply a growing realization brought on by the witness of the Holy Spirit within me, confirmed by His witness in the Scriptures.

You need both: the witness of the Holy Spirit to your spirit that you are a child of God and the confirmation of what you believe the Holy Spirit to be saying to you found in God's Word.

The deception for those who believe they are Christian but who insist (long term) on committing homosexual acts arises from one of three primary errors:

1. They do not believe the Bible as authoritative in their lives.
2. They have believed pseudo-theologians who have spun the Scriptures to justify a sinful lifestyle (see Jude 4).
3. They have not understood that to believe in Jesus means to accept His sacrifice for their sins and to pick up their own cross on a daily basis and follow/obey Him (see Matthew 10:38-39; John 14:15,21, 1 John 2:4-6) – not under their own power, but by His power dwelling within them.

Every believer has one or more areas where sinful tendencies and brokenness require them to sacrifice immediate pleasure in order to be faithful to God. Some will live with strong temptations to pornography for the rest of their lives. For others, it will be alcohol, or drugs, or greed or envy. God's command in Scripture that the person who struggles with homosexual feelings forsake them, sacrifice their perceived need and follow Him is no different than anyone else's call to obedience.

Here's the simple but beautiful truth: everyone can go to heaven! Not everyone will have to pay for their sins with eternal punishment. All they have to do is accept God's free offer of pardon made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for their sins. In accepting that offer, God will regenerate their spirit and change their desires from the inside so that they will now want to live a holy life (see Ezekiel 36:25-28; 2 Corinthians 1:21; Philippians 2:13).

For those who insist that they want to earn their own salvation, or that they want to continue living an unrepentant sinful lifestyle rather than allowing Jesus Christ to be their Lord, unless they yield to God in this, they will be lost for all eternity (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In the Day of Judgment, Jesus will say to those who called Him Lord but who did not do what He said, "I never knew you. Away from Me you evildoers." (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46)

It grieves me deeply to hear former ex-gay leaders say that those who claim to know Jesus but who choose to continue to practice homosexuality will go to heaven. That is diametrically opposed to what the Scriptures teach and saying that to them is the antithesis of what "loving" them means. You do not love someone when you know they are headed for disaster and yet inoculate them to the truth by making such statements.

The error is huge and needs to be corrected lest more be lost to this culture of death and deception.

And for those who believe that God can’t change the homosexual, I commend to you “Such Were Some of You” – a two-hour film that documents the stories of 29 former homosexuals who have forsaken their former way of life, picked up their cross, (that represents a sometimes lengthy healing and transformation process), and who now live for Him. Why? Because He is altogether lovely, altogether worthy, and He is Lord.

Dr. David Kyle Foster is a graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M-Div) and Trinity School for Ministry (D-Min) and the author of Love Hunger: A Harrowing Journey from Sexual Addiction to True Fulfillment. He is also the author of Sexual Healing and Transformed Into His Image and is the producer/director of www.SuchWereSomeOfYou.org.

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