Should pastors counsel people to embrace their homosexuality? Only a mere 10-15 years ago this question sounded extremely out of place for most Christians worldwide, but today it is a question that church goers, churches and institutions must consider with seriousness. And yet those who think of themselves as faithful Christians answer the question differently today; some are saying “no” and some are saying “yes”. An example that has been in the news recently illustrates the importance of holding fast to the final authority of Scripture in everything we think, say, and do as those who profess the name of Jesus, and especially that our pastors do as well.
The Gospel Herald among other news sources has published the story about Trey Pearson, lead singer of the Christian music group, Everyday Sunday. Trey has come out of the closet informing the world that he is a homosexual and that he is now comfortable embracing his true self. His true self is a homosexual who is also a Christian. He thanks two influential pastors and authors for the help they gave him to “advise and mentor him as he started to come to terms with his sexual orientation.” The advice and counsel given by those two pastors has led Trey to this understanding of God and himself, “There is absolutely no conflict with accepting who I am and following Jesus,” he said. “God wants me to be healthy, authentic, whole, integrated and my truest self.” Trey and his wife have separated due to his change of understanding in his sexuality. Who are those two pastors who gave this counsel to Trey? They are Rob Bell and Jonathan Martin.
While I hope for the best for Trey, his now former wife, and their children, the question that must be answered is this: what IS the best for him and his family in these circumstances? What counsel should a pastor give to a person facing this matter? Spiritual leaders should lovingly, patiently tell Trey, and others, what the Bible says and then graciously pray for God to help him embrace fully a life of repentance and faith. However, pastors Rob Bell and Jonathan Martin have apparently chosen to say that the Bible’s instructions are not best for this situation, but there is a better path not found in the Bible. Those who reject the inerrancy and authority find that they must tell people like Trey that they shouldn’t obey the Bible. On the other hand those who submit fully to the inerrant word of God know that the best thing for all people is to trust what the Bible says and obey it.
Do we want our pastors telling us and our children and grandchildren what the Bible says, or do we want them to say it is better to embrace a lifestyle found outside of the Bible? Well, the waters get a bit muddier when you realize that these pastors are quick to point out they fully believe what they are saying IS found in the Bible, that there’s nothing unbiblical about it. This is what we find in Chris Willman’s Billboard Magazine article about Trey Pearson’s embrace of homosexuality where he wrote, “But there are Christian leaders like Rob Bell or Brian McLaren or Jonathan Martin who are leading this movement to help us progress in our understanding of scripture.” The article makes clear that “progress” means fully embracing homosexuality as acceptable, Christian behavior.
These “progressive” pastors proclaim the acceptance of homosexuality is actually found in the Bible, and those who don’t acknowledge this are wrong but maybe one day they will come around. So the question must be asked – do we want our pastors telling us, our children, and our grandchildren that homosexuality must be recognized, affirmed, and even celebrated because the Bible says so and that anyone who doesn’t believe so is the one who doesn’t believe the Bible? The answer is “NO!” We do not want pastors who do not believe the Bible telling anybody what they should do. They are telling people their own, human, sinful opinions but deceptively saying those opinions are from God when in fact they are not.
However, when we look at what the Bible actually says, we are reminded that we must simply allow the Bible to speak and then submit ourselves fully to it because it is God’s final authority for all people. This is what every pastor ought to tell everyone. Every Sunday School teacher, every small group leader, every church deacon, every Christian school teacher, seminary professor, and minister of any kind should simply say what is plain on the pages of Scripture. So what do we see on those pages of Scripture? We see the same message in every part of the Bible.
We see God’s commands in Leviticus 18-20 define sexual immorality and include homosexuality as a sin. Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
We see Jesus repeat and affirm the Old Testament commands calling sexual immorality sin in Mark 7:20-23. “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
We see the Apostle Paul affirm the exact same things in Romans 1:26-32, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” Homosexuality, specifically, is named in this passage as one of those things that ought not to be done.
We see this again in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, “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.”
We see it again in Galatians 5:19-21 that those who commit sexual immorality “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
We see it in Ephesians 5:3-6 that one who practices “sexual immorality and all impurity” is one that “has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” It goes farther and says, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.”
And we also see it in Revelation 22:14-15 as the eternal kingdom is described where the redeemed enjoy eternal reward but the “sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood” will be left outside God’s kingdom in the place of eternal punishment.
The Bible is abundantly clear about what God has to say concerning sexual immorality, and we should expect our pastors to tell us, our children, and our grandchildren exactly what it says. Furthermore, since homosexuality, along with every other sin, brings God’s punishment upon the guilty, we also should expect our pastors to tell us repeatedly, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16); and for everyone who repents and believes, the gospel promises “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1) and “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17)! I really wish that Trey Pearson could have had faithful pastors who would have told him these things.
And I hope you, the reader, have a pastor who will tell you, your children, and your grandchildren these things too.