If you Love something, then ‘Set it Free!’ but why the churches of today are fighting the fishes?. GhanaSky.com analyst takes you to one of the most balanced messages on the importance of homosexuality or LGBTI issue in the church and our society with deep compassion, love and Godly wisdom as presented by Pastor Mark Conner of City Life Church Melbourne Australia.
What is the meaning of being”in love”?
According to GhanaSky.com, being “in love” with someone means you want to spend the rest of your life with this person and you can’t see yourself with anyone else but that person. When you love some one it just means you don’t want to see anything happen to them, and that you always want to see that person/family or friend happy.
Therefore, Yeshua Hamashiach who came to this world to die because of mankind, defined His LOVE, through GRACE to bring all MEN and WOMEN unto Himself.
It takes GRACE to understand the greatest HOOK, that can catch all types of fishes. The church exist to catch fishes for HEAVEN and we must understand change is a process.
Guide to Catch-and-Release Fishing
Treble hooks: These hooks can cause a lot of damage to your catch. Avoid them at all costs. Most hard baits from the store come pre-hooked with this style of hook. You can easily replace these stock hooks with J-hooks, which can even increase your hard bait performance in the water.
J-hooks: these hooks are used a lot for live bait, but can still gut-hook a fish. Circle hooks are best.
Circle hooks: these hooks are designed so that the point is turned away from the shank to form a circular shape. This allows the hook to pass back through the fish’s stomach should it be swallowed, and hook in the corner of the lip once line pressure is applied by the angler. These hooks have been heavily researched by biologists and are a must for all catch-and-release anglers.
The Church in Conflict
Sometimes we have an overly
pristine view of the early church as a church in revival where they were
always of “one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32) as they followed God
together. This is partly true but there were also times when people
complained (Acts 6:1), when leaders had sharp disagreements (Acts
15:36-44), and when churches argued and debated about various
controversial matters (Acts 15:1-35). In the latter case, time was given
to consider the contribution that Scripture, tradition, and experience
each made to the debate.
For example, in the issue of whether the newly
converted Gentiles should be circumcised or not, they used their
God-given reason to realise that their experience of seeing Gentiles
filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way as at Pentecost required
them to see their Scriptures and Jewish tradition differently than they
had up until this time. Talk about a paradigm shift!
centuries, various controversies have required a similar approach by the
church of Jesus Christ. It took centuries for slavery to be abolished
and for Christians to see that just because the Scriptures assume and
address slavery (for instance, in the apostle Paul’s instructions for
slaves to obey their masters) doesn’t mean it endorses it. It took years
for the Christian church to realise that Paul’s admonition that women
keep silent in the church and not usurp authority over the men (in a
context where false doctrine was spreading amongst the women in the
church at Ephesus) didn’t mean that women couldn’t lead and minister in a
healthy Christian community. Of course, some churches have not come to
More recently the issue of divorce and remarriage
has been a hot topic. Many churches have now come to accept that some
marriages do break down beyond repair and that divorce is not the
unpardonable sin. In each of these cases, we all know what the Bible
says. But what does it mean and how does it apply to our lives today?
These questions are not questions about the inspiration or authority of
the Scriptures but rather they are questions regarding biblical
interpretation or what theologians refer to as ‘hermeneutics’. This is
the reason why there are differing views in the church today. Does this
mean that truth is relative or continually up for revision? Not at all!
But it does mean that we need to walk in humility, continuing to listen
to the text of Scripture, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the
collective wisdom of the community of faith.
of the most hotly debated issues of our time is homosexuality. The term
‘homosexuality’, a word added into the English dictionary in the year
1892, refers to sexual attraction and/or behaviour between people of the
same (‘homos’) rather than the opposite (‘hetros’) sex or gender.
sexuality is an important part of our humanity. In regards to
sexuality, it is important to differentiate between sexual attraction
(which may be momentary), sexual orientation (which is determined by a
continual and persistent similar form of attraction) and sexual
behaviour (what we do in response to our desires). Having sexual
attraction is not sinful in and of itself. It’s what we do with those
desires that matters most. The vast majority of people have only
attractions for the opposite sex while a smaller percentage of people
experience attraction only to the same sex (anywhere from 3-5% of the
population). An even smaller percentage of people experience both
opposite and same-sex attractions (referred to as ‘bi-sexual’) or have
no discernible sexual attractions at all.
Debates continue as to
where sexual orientation comes from. Is it biological or environmental?
Is it a product of nature or nurture? Do we discover it or decide it?
There is no convincing scientific evidence to support either view, which
means that there is most likely a combination of factors that shape our
sexuality, rather than a single explanation. Regardless of the source
of our sexual attractions or orientation, we can and do choose our
behaviour and how we respond to any attractions we may experience.
are a variety of opinions as to whether a person’s sexual orientation
can change or not. Experience indicates that some people can and do
experience change while others do not. Those who do may see a reduction
in the strength of one type of attraction more than a complete or
instant change. Sexual orientation is not some kind of a switch that you
can just simply turn one way or another.
The Bible and Homosexuality
Bible is the source of guidance for matters of faith and practice for
all followers of Christ (2 Timothy 3:16). There are a handful of
biblical texts that address the matter of homosexuality:
the book of Genesis, we have the creation mandate where God made humans
“male and female” giving them the mandate of dominion and reproduction
(Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18, 21-24). Of course, the entrance of sin into our
world affected everything and nothing is completely the way God intended
it to be. Jesus would later affirm marriage as being between a man and a
woman (Matthew 19:4-6).
- The story of Sodom (Genesis
18:20−19:29) has been used as a clear denunciation of homosexuality for
most of Christian history. The issue here is bigger than inhospitality
(Ezekiel 16:49-50), although some see this as an attempted gang rape
that involved a case of heterosexual males intent on humiliating
strangers. This is also the case in a similar account in Judges 19-21.
purity codes include the following law: “Do not have sexual relations
with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable (Leviticus
18:22. NIV).” Another translation puts it this way: “Do not practice
homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a
detestable sin (NLT).” The penalty was death (Leviticus 20:13). Male and
female prostitution was also forbidden (Deuteronomy 23:17-18).
- While not mentioning homosexuality directly, Jesus does refer to the sin of Sodom six times in the Gospels.
apostle Paul condemned pagan society for its downward spiral into
unrestrained sexual lust (Romans 1:24-27). In his description of this
promiscuity, he describes people who choose to go against their own
nature and engage in sexual acts with others of the same sex. Paul also
listed homosexual behavior in his lists of vices or sinful acts (1
Corinthians 6:9-11. 1 Timothy 1:8-11).
- The writer of the epistle
of Jude sets out three examples of God’s judgment: the unbelieving
generation who had been delivered from Egypt, the angels who rebelled,
and Sodom and Gomorrah (which is similar to 2 Peter 2:4-10, although
homosexuality is not mentioned there).
The Church and Homosexuality
it comes to interpreting and applying the biblical texts referring
homosexuality to our contemporary situation, there are a huge variety of
views and approaches by evangelical churches and Christians around the
world today. These could be simplified into three basic approaches:
Some churches/Christians believe that homosexuality is always a choice
and therefore people can and should repent and change their same-sex
attractions and/or behaviour. The views in this approach range from
condemnation of the person (even denying the concept of ‘orientation’)
to a promise of healing for ‘sexual brokenness’ (through some form of
prayer ministry, counseling or reparative therapy). [The most exhaustive
book upholding this view is The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Robert Gagnon]
Some churches/Christians believe that same-sex attraction is not a
choice for everyone and therefore may not change. Those with same-sex
attraction are accepted as they are without shame and encouraged to live
celibate lives of sexual abstinence within a supportive community.
Churches with this stance are called ‘welcoming but not affirming’
churches. [To understand this view further, I suggest reading books such
as Welcoming But Not Affirming: An Evangelical Response to Homosexuality by Stanley J Grenz, Redeeming Sex by Debra Hirsch, or Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill]
Some churches/Christians believe that same-sex attraction is not a
choice and that celibacy is not a gift that everyone has. They believe
that the biblical references against homosexuality are primarily about
abusive relationships (for example, homosexual rape, male prostitution
or pederasty, which refers to sexual relations between a man and a boy).
They see promiscuity as wrong but that a same-sex loving, committed,
monogamous relationship is acceptable before God. Churches with this
stance are called ‘welcoming and affirming’ churches and as a result are
usually supportive of either civil unions or same-sex marriage. [To
understand this view further, refer to Changing Our Mind by David Gushee, an evangelical ethicist, or the more in-depth Bible, Gender, Sexuality by James W. Brownson]
approaches are held by churches/people who declare Jesus as Lord and
believe in the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures. The
difference in views result from the differing interpretations and
applications of the Scriptures in this matter. Despite the enthusiastic
endorsement of their adherents, each view has some unique difficulties
and challenges. For instance, the Change approach can cause great damage
to people who don’t see any change, ranging from feelings of failure to
suicidal tendencies. The Acceptance approach involves a high personal
cost for those who don’t feel that they have the gift of celibacy. The
Affirmation approach requires a complete rethink of everything we’ve
known about gender and sexuality, as well as the interpretation of the
biblical texts (more of a paradigm ‘leap’ than a paradigm ‘shift’, in
the words of David Gushee).
CityLife Church takes a combination
of Approaches 1 and 2. Some people are confused about their sexuality
for various reasons and so we would begin the conversation by exploring
environmental or circumstantial factors that have shaped a person’s
sexuality, which may be addressed through prayer and counsel. If there
is not a change over time, then we go with Approach 2. CityLife is a
‘welcoming but not affirming’ church community. The reason for the
choice of this stance is our concern about the lack of compassion and
the damage sometimes caused by the Change approach and our discomfort
with the hermeneutics that is required for an Affirmation approach.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What should a Christian do if they believe they have same-sex attraction?
Talk it through with a Christian pastor or counselor. Counseling can
help you understand who you are (emotional roots and family dynamics)
and what has shaped you, as well as the frequency and intensity of your
sexual attractions. The outcome may not be a conversion but rather a
decrease of one type of an attraction and an increase of another, or for
some people there may be no change at all. Either way, don’t go through
it alone. People of faith throughout the centuries have lived single,
celibate, and fulfilled lives. They had a close relationship with their
Father God, a cause to live for, and many close friends. We are complete
‘in Christ’ not through marriage or sexual experience. Know that Jesus
does not shame you or reject you because of your temptations and
feelings. He never married and faced daily pressure and temptation. He
understands what you are going through. He is there to help you.
- How should we respond to someone who tells us they have same-sex attraction?
Avoid over-reacting or responding with hurtful words. Don’t reject the
person or withdraw love. They may be confused about their sexuality and
possibly feeling condemned. Ask questions and seek to understand.
Encourage counseling. For parents or family members, there may be
feelings of anxiety, failure or even anger. Don’t reject your children.
Make the relationship the priority, even though you may disagree.
- Can a person in a same-sex relationship attend our church?
Yes, our church is open to all people regardless of where they are on
their spiritual journey. However, once people discover that we are a
‘welcoming but not affirming’ church that may affect their decision to
continue or not.
- Can a person with same-sex attraction be a leader?
Yes, a person with same-sex attraction (and not acting on those
attractions) would be able to be a leader within CityLife. It is the
same with a single heterosexual person who has sexual attractions and is
not acting on those. However, we would not bring into leadership
someone involved in a same-sex relationship (just the same as we
wouldn’t bring into leadership a person living together with a partner
of the opposite gender and not married).
- What about same-sex marriage?
The Australian Government already provides a range of benefits for
people in de facto relationships, including same-sex couples, and a
relationship register has been created. As Elders, we support the
traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. We
encourage people to form and voice their own opinions on this matter to
the various political leaders and lawmakers.
- What if a CityLife member or leader has a different view on this issue to the church?
We are a church community where there are variety of views and opinions
on many issues. Unity is not uniformity. We have people in our church
with personal views in each of the approaches mentioned above. If
individuals differ personally with CityLife’s stance on this issue, we
respect their right to do so, but ask that they be supportive of our
approach within the church community. A united approach by the church
leadership and pastoral team is vital so as to avoid confusion for
people. The issue is not disagreement but how we handle our
disagreements. If we do so in a mature, loving and non-divisive manner,
potential damage to the community can be avoided.
Where to from here?
is a complex subject. However, it is vital that we do not avoid talking
about it, even if it makes us uncomfortable. So how do we respond to
all of these?
- Educate yourself. Ignorance is not
bliss. Humility acknowledges that we are all on a journey of learning
and discovery about God and his ways. We all know ‘in part’
(1Corinthians 13:9-12). Pray, read widely, ask questions, listen to
people’s stories, reflect, and learn all you can about this matter. Be
- Be compassionate. Show empathy and seek to
understand. All of Jesus’ teaching applies here: love your neighbour as
yourself and do to other people as you would have them do to you. It may
be helpful to put yourself in the place of a same sex attracted person
growing up in a Christian community. Many same-sex attracted people feel
rejected by those who express anti-homosexual sentiments. Recognise
that in any group of 20 people, at least one person may feel that they
are same-sex attracted. Your words and attitudes affect them deeply.
Christians are to be known by their love.
- Engage in conversation.
Church should be the safest place for people to have open and honest
conversations. Attributes such as integrity and authenticity are vital
in the creation of meaningful relationships and community. Let’s talk
about this – in constructive ways.
Sample Discussion Questions
- Reflect on your schooling years. What were your experiences/impressions of people who were ‘gay’?
- Why do you think that this issue is such a heated topic in the Christian church today?
- Do you think people in the Church community consider homosexual sin worse than heterosexual sin?
the different approaches churches/Christians take in regards to
homosexuality today. How do you feel about the stance that the eldership
has outlined for our church?
- Read about the Jerusalem Council
in Acts 15. What can we learn from how these early Christians processed
such a heated disagreement?
- Discuss the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’. Do you have any additional suggestions or thoughts?
- Spend time in prayer that we will be the kind of church community that Jesus had in mind.