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 the Atlantic 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.
First, the Bible's teaching on the subject is simple in the sense of being straightforward and unambiguous. Does Scripture forbid homosexual behavior? Of course it does. Jesus and his apostles taught that God's intention in marriage is for a man to leave his parents and join himself to one woman (Matt. 5:27-32; 19:3-6). Furthermore, the New Testament clearly teaches ...1
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