Having been contacted by WOOD TV-8 News to do an interview responding to questions about a billboard in Grand Rapids advocating the inclusion of LGBT persons in the church, I hesitantly agreed, knowing that only a small bit of what I shared would be aired or included in the article. For those who may come to the Lighthouse website to find out more, I wanted to share some of the things I spoke with Joe LaFurgey about earlier today.
First, let me say that ALL people are welcome at Lighthouse Community Church, regardless of their sexual orientation. No one is condemned because they are sinners. We are ALL sinners. None of us are yet perfect. While some try to frame the discussion as being "for" or "against" people, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all sinners in need of God's forgiveness and grace, and it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we can know God's forgiveness. The real issue is whether homosexuality is sin, and whether the identity of a person is tied to their sexual "orientation."
God says that He made us in His image and that He created the man and the woman to complement each other. The Bible knows nothing of same-sex unions or marriage. When mankind rebelled against God sin and death entered the world. Homosexuality, while appearing to be more and more "normal," and certainly being more and more "accepted" today by more and more people, is a result of sin. It is only ONE result of sin. There are thousands. There are many heterosexual sins. There are all different kinds of sins. The problem with homosexuality is that Satan is convincing people that it is NOT sin and that God will not judge those who practice sin. What complicates the discussion for many is that we are being told that people are born "this way" and it becomes their identity.
But look at our society. Look at the human race. We are all born as sinners and are prone to sinful behavior in all different areas of life. Sex and food are two of the main areas. Heterosexual sin is also related to "who we are." How many times do you hear something like, "Boys will be boys" or similar observations based on general human behavior. Sin affects us and we can either accept that identity or seek to overcome the sin that holds us bondage and prevents us from finding our true identity - special creations of God, created for His glory. Our lives have the potential of revealing the power and the glory of our God, our Creator!! How does that happen? When we confess our sin and repent (turn from sin) as the Holy Spirit works within us and we experience God's forgiveness and cleansing.
The billboard advocating the inclusion of gays without repentance was timed to be put up during "holy week," as we remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to pay the penalty for sin. How sad that this group misses the whole point of what Jesus came to do: to set people FREE from the guilt and power of sin. We are not judging or condemning anyone, but rather, offering forgiveness and true love and grace and mercy and hope. Jesus offers a new identity. God calls those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ "saints," which means, "holy ones," not because we are holy in ourselves, but because God SEES us as holy in Christ. We have been joined together with Christ, united to Him by His Spirit. A Christian is one who has been born again by the very Spirit of the living God and who thus desires to please God by living according to His Word. Loving God means obeying God. Satan wants to keep people in bondage. Jesus came to set people free!!
Paul writes in I Corinthians 6:11: "And that is what some of you WERE. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." That is what it means to be a Christian! It means to be transformed by the power of the Spirit of God. "Gay Christians" is an inaccurate term to say the least. To claim to be a Christian, but to accept what God says is sin in your life is at best a contradiction and at worst evidence that you have not been born again. Joe asked me to explain how some people seem to repent, then turn back to their sin. The truth is, we all do that sometimes. God's call to repentance is a continual call to align our lives with His revealed will. Romans 12:1-2 tells us that in view of God's mercy we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices of thanksgiving, no longer conforming to the patterns of THIS world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds. But where there is no acknowledgement of sin, no confession of sin and no desire to turn from sin there is only judgment - not by "other Christians" or the church, but by God and His Word, and ultimately by Christ.
The old nature of sin brings bondage. The acceptance by our culture of any sin does not change the fact that sin brings consequences, the worst of which is God's judgment. Christianity is about God's grace being offered to all who repent and believe. Without repentance there is no forgiveness. Without confession there will be no repentance - no desire to turn from sin. In Luke 24:47 Jesus said that He was sending the disciples out to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In Acts 2 those who heard Peter's message were told that they must repent and believe.
We are not judging anyone when we confront people, including ourselves, with the sin that still entangles us. We are offering people FREEDOM in Christ! "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2). "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6). "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13).
May God bring freedom to those who seek Him, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see. Praise God for His amazing, marvelous, wonderful grace!!!