How should the church approach homosexuality: Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville; a case study (I)...

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[This post is first in a series (the second, thirdfourth, fifth, sixth) working through Pastor Scott Sauls and Christ Presbyterian Church's "Same-Sex Attraction Forum." More will follow.]

Homosexuality is a super-hot topic today and churches and pastors are being called out to say what we believe. It looks as if our longtime habit of studiously avoiding "politicized issues" and the "culture war" won't cut it much longer. For some time it's worked pretty well with abortion. You could oppose abortion privately, and that was that. Nobody in this country could force you to have an abortion or participate in one, so silence led to being left alone—which is exactly what we wanted. 

But homosexuality is a different beast. Doug Wilson has helpfully pointed out that the homosexualists will not be satisfied until Christians give approval to what they do in the bedroom. This means that churches are going to feel the pressure in a way we never felt it with abortion. "My body, my choice" is a far cry from "Bake a cake or take the pics of the celebration of my gay mirage or I'll sue you." Gays' demands for our approval will not be limited to bakeries and photographers, either. Soon churches will be in their crosshairs and we will not be able to remain private or silent.

Every church in the country will have to decide which side we are on and our decision and witness will be made public. After a time of hemming and hawing, we'll find we have only two options:

1. Publicly opposing homosexual identity and relations by quoting Scripture.
2. Publicly promoting homosexual identity and relations by quoting Scripture.

Currently, churches are working hard to avoid taking either of these positions. Some want to oppose homosexuality personally, but fly under the radar and thus avoid the political firestorm. Quoting Scripture is fine as long as it's done privately among Christians. Theoretically, there are some who believe in using natural law or general revelation to make the case against homosexality out there in public. But make no mistake: this battle will be fought out in the courtroom where two-thousand years of orthodox Christian witness under the authority of the Word of God will be our only defense. Homosexuality has become a "civil rights" issue and the only way Christians will avoid being forced to perform homosexual mirage ceremonies is by demonstrating that our religion has always opposed sodomy. We cannot do so outside the witness and universal authority of Holy Scripture. As would-be conscientious objectors found out during the draft, waiting until you are in court to discover and articulate a line of reasoning in one's Holy Book won't cut it. So the sooner we make our submssion to the Word of God public and the longer we leave a paper trail of that public witness, the better will be our standing when we're summoned to the courtroom. Opposition to homosexual sin must be public and it must be explicitly defined as submission to Scripture.

Note that my list of two options does not include a third option of promoting homosexual identity while opposing homosexual relations.

This approach is being promoted by a number of Christian religious leaders today, but the position is untenable. It's not possible to parse homosexual identity and homosexual behavior in such a way that we are able to support homosexual identity—being "gay"—while asking, as quietly as possible, that the "gays" among us don't have sexual relations with each other.

Such close parsing between gay identity and gay sex will never fly among promoters of the homosexual agenda.

Gay Advocate: "So let me get this straight: you claim you're fine with somebody being gay and living with someone else who's gay, right? You just think they shouldn't actually have sex with each other?"

Fearful Christian: "Right!"

Gay Advocate: "Ok. I think I get it. You really aren't OK with people being homosexuals. You just don't want to admit it publicly because you are afraid."

Fearful Christian: "NO! Really! I am too fine with it. Like totally! In fact, some of my best friends..."

Gay Advocate: "Here's a question. If you're OK with your fellow church members being gay, why can't they do gay? Do you like keeping them from happiness? You breeders all get to have your honeymoon, queen bed, pregnancy, and children. How can you justify telling the gays in your church that these things are never for them? Your gays only want to have the same sort of loving families you non-gays have. If you ask me, I think you're afraid. In fact, I can smell your fear and to me it smells like victory."

Fearful Christian: "No, really: I do want them to be happy. We all want them to be happy. None of us want them to have to give up their identity as gays and lesbians. We are all for gay men lisping, being limp-wristed, dressing you-know-HOW, shaving their legs and chest, singing as a counter-tenor, sculpting their forehead and Adam's apple—stuff like that. Our pastor says gays in our church—they can be as gay as they want. He says they can even live together and go on vacation with each other. He just asks them to stop their gayness just short of...  well...  umm...   you know—that thing they do."

Gay Advocate: [laughing] "Right. I'm all for it. You guys try it out! Can I come and watch?"

The idea that homosexuals can live gay lives fully embracing their gay identity—that our gay brothers and sisters in Christ can be encouraged by their pastors to run headlong into a sinful identity as long as they promise they will always stop just short of sinful touch—is ludicrous. Such pretense can't last long. To luxuriate in gayness is to take fire into our lap and to take fire into our lap is to be burned. Then, once-burned, our gay brothers and sisters will either be twice-shy or they will give up the pretense and get their flame on. The highly-nuanced position on homosexuality that pastors are selling to their churches as a demilitarized zone is actually the promotion of gayness—gay and lesbian identity with long-term committed same-sex relationships between the gays—within the church while requiring all the gays to say they won't have any gay sex. And this position will last about as long as the virginity of a straight man and woman whose identities are boyfriend and girlfriend, who live together in an apartment, alone, and who reassure their pastor that they try not to touch each other.

Can pastors, elders, and Titus 2 women really believe gays will not give in to the temptation they've been running towards? And when they do give in to temptation, their spiritual leaders that are currently repenting of homophobia will predictably begin to repent of their homosexphobia.

So what about your church? As the homosexualists work to silence our Christian conscience, what will we say and do?

Thinking it may be helpful to look at a case study, we are going to examine the approach to this issue that has been taken by Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Nashville, Tennessee as led by Senior Pastor Scott Sauls. Pastor Sauls came to Christ Presbyterian from New York City's Redeemer Presbyterian Church where he served as Lead and Preaching Pastor under Tim Keller.

A few weeks ago, Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) held their "Same-Sex Attraction Forum." Several of us will be examining the Forum and Sauls's leadership on this issue to see if the hemming and hawing on the subject of homosexuality that Redeemer and her pastors have been known for (although there are signs of change) continues to be Sauls's approach; and, if so, how he alters it so that it plays well in the Bible belt?

CPC published much of their forum on Youtube, so in the coming weeks we will be working through those sessions. If it helps to avoid people being offended, we're happy for readers to refer to our work as a "dialogue."

Our purpose in this work is to call churches around the country to join us in declaring publicly that God condemns all forms of homosexuality—including gay identity that says it won't touch—when He said, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."  - 1Corinthians 6:9-10

Joseph and his wife, Heidi, have five children, Tate, Eliza Jane, Moses, Fiona and Annabel. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and Clearnote Pastors College. He is currently planting Christ Church in Cincinnati with several other families.