True & False: One Pastor’s View on Homosexuality

By Matt Dawson


As we continue our series “Questions Without Answers”, it seems necessary to include the LGTBQ community in our discussions. Last year, even before the HB2 fallout, I began to feel a burden to find a way to address this topic for our church. How we view it, how God views it, and what our response should be as we are called to point everyone to the absolute Hope in Jesus Christ.

This Sunday, we will address the relationship between the Church and the LGTBQ community, but for this post, I want to specifically address homosexuality and same sex attraction.

With the likely chance I will offend many, please read all of this post and refrain from pulling any ONE line or statement out of context.

I appreciate it.

I obviously can’t cover EVERY aspect of this complex topic, but here are the 3 things I have found to be TRUE and FALSE about our approach to homosexuality. At the end, I will share with you the PRIMARY REASON I believe the church has struggled to show the love of Jesus to those living with same sex attraction.

TRUE

1. Homosexuality is a SIN. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:25-27, 1 Timothy 1:8-10, Leviticus 20:13)

It is. You cannot read the inspired Word of God and not come to this conclusion. You may not agree with God about it… but who cares. God is the one who created all things, he’s allowed to label things as He pleases! SIN as an entity entered the world at the fall of man, it’s like a disease that has touched and broken ALL of Creation.

Everyone is born IN sin. Sinful Behavior is anything and everything that separates us from God (working outside of His Will and His Instructions for Life). The Bible states that ALL SEXUAL BEHAVIOR outside of marriage (regardless of gender) is SIN. That’s all I have to say about that.

2. There is NO SIN that Jesus’s blood does not cover and NO BEHAVIOR that keeps us from receiving the FULL GRACE of Jesus Christ.

When we read these words from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we cannot argue that homosexual sin is excluded:

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.  – Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)

As Paul describes the state of sinful man from Romans, chapter 1 (mentions homosexuality) through chapters 2 and 3, he does so to help us understand that there is NOTHING that we can do to EARN salvation (the law), and that we ALL fall short no matter what sinful behavior we have committed in our lives OR will commit in the future. Jesus, with underserved kindness, declares ALL OF US righteous because HE has freed us from the penalty (judgement) of SIN.

3. Our conviction of SIN and behavioral transformation is addressed through sanctification (including Homosexuality).

I’ll address some of this in the section below about some of our false beliefs. I also listed below some references for the theological understanding of sanctification. The simple definition is that AFTER SALVATION, with our eyes fixed on Christ, Jesus (by His Spirit) begins a transformational work in our hearts and we become more and more like Him the longer and closer we walk with Him.

We cannot CHANGE our behavior on our own (this is not self-help) nor do we SEE SIN fully or see it’s effect on us until the Holy Spirit leads us there through opening our eyes and conviction.

All Sinful Behavior is NOT addressed at the time of Salvation. Salvation is a turning point from living MY life to the START of wanting to live with Jesus as the Lord of my life. Salvation NEVER stops our sinful behavior. I was 6 when I got saved, and I’m pretty sure I kept sinning that same day.

Now, I’m 40 years old, the process of sanctification is still happening in my heart. I still engage in sinful behavior even if I “know” I shouldn’t and even if I’m convicted about it. The process of becoming more and more like Jesus is slow, but lasting.

It opens my eyes to areas in my life that I’m dealing with today (maybe it’s fear, deceit, gluttony, arrogance, whatever it may be) and it is helping me, guiding me, prompting me towards choosing transformation. Choosing to live like Jesus and choosing the NEW LIFE He’s given me and not fall back to the OLD LIFE that lingers within me. This applies to all sexual sin as well.

If you’re unaware of the scriptural references for sanctification, here are a few: Romans 12:2, Romans 7:15-25, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Corinthians 11:1, Ephesians 4:23-24, Galatians 5:22-25.

FALSE

1. God hates homosexual sin more than all other sin.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul tells us that all those who sin sexually will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He also says that idolators, thieves, drunks, abusive and greedy people, and liars won’t enter either.  Jesus also said these same words, about un-forgiveness and the rich.

Sure, we can take those single words and verses out and make our case, but we cannot do this in the context of Grace and the rest of scripture. We also know people who have slept with someone before they were married (as a Christian) and they don’t live in fear of not going to heaven. God’s Word is not our property to dismantle and rebuild in order to stack evidence against people.

Many misinterpret Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians 6:18, when Paul says sexual sin is like no other sin. He references this specifically by saying that sexual sin is special because of how it hurts the person committing it. God doesn’t think less of sexual sinners than other kinds of sinners. Some Christians may view it that way… but God doesn’t view it that way.

When Jesus rescued a woman caught in adultery from being stoned, he looked at her and said this:

“Then neither do I condemn you… Go now and leave your life of sin.”  – John 8:11

Does this mean that this woman NEVER sinned again – not likely. Jesus didn’t condemn her, His grace forgave her (even though she never ASKED for forgiveness) and then challenged her the way he challenges ALL THOSE WHO DESIRE TO FOLLOW HIM… Go and sin no more.

2. Homosexuals cannot be saved if they’ve justified their homosexual behavior.

The largest argument people make is that someone who has justified their actions cannot truly come to Jesus until they have repented of those actions and asked for forgiveness. However, this lies in a false assumption of what REPENTANCE implies and cannot be taken to the extreme when compared to other sins. (Remember: God views all sinful behavior as SIN… not on a sliding scale of degrees of sin.)

Repentance is a TURNING, and not a TURNING FROM something, but a RETURNING TO someone. When Jesus said “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand,” he was asking them to TURN to what He knew they were truly needing and looking for.

Repentance in our culture has this tendency to IMPLY that we are turning FROM all the things we are doing that are WRONG. However, most folks who come to Christ have almost NO CLUE of all of the things that they are doing that are considered SIN. Everyone who starts a relationship with JESUS, starts at the foot of the cross with the FULL GRACE OF JESUS forgiving them for sins they have done and sins they have yet to commit.

The idea that a 40 year old woman who has lived with her same sex attraction for 30 of those years is going to fully understand the complexity of all of her SIN including how and why the bible states homosexuality as a SIN – is foolishness and a false understanding of the Gospel!

Remember what I said about sanctification: many who live with same sex attraction will come to the cross of Christ and receive grace and experience the HOPE of Jesus in their lives. ALL Sin will be addressed and revealed from this point forward as they walk with Jesus in Hope, Faith, and Love!

3. If Christians embrace and love people of same sex attraction – we are approving and condoning sinful behavior.

I’ve never fully understood this false thinking. If everyone is a sinner, and everyone sins, then aren’t we approving and condoning EVERYONE’S sinful actions?

NO!

To walk along aside a brother in Christ who struggles with an addiction to porn and continues to engage in this behavior. I have ZERO concern that he believes I’m approving or condoning his actions. This doesn’t keep me from walking with him. AS A MATTER OF FACT, this is reason to get closer and do my best to express the FREEDOM he has to overcome that addiction, temptation, lifestyle.

Jesus never seemed to be concerned about this when He went to Matthew’s house for dinner (a tax collector). Even though all of the religious leaders were staring at him and accusing him of approving and condoning “those people.”  Jesus looked around and said – “those people” are who I came for!

So, go ahead, call me a friend to homosexuals, prostitutes, adulterers, and fornicators! As an ambassador for Christ – “those people” are what I’m here for!

Closing Thoughts: The Primary Issue for the Church

Honestly, I don’t know where you stand on this issue.

  • You may totally hate what I’ve said because I’m too grace-filled and not judgmental enough.
  • You may hate what I’ve said because you don’t believe the same way about the authority of God’s Word and what He calls sin.
  • You may agree with me, but still struggle to engage in this conversation with others because of fear and what others might think of you.

The primary reason the Church (western collective church organizations at large) struggles to approach this topic is this – We believe it’s OUR JOB to change people’s behavior!

We believe that as a church, we can legislate anger, lust, adultery, greed, prostitution, gluttony, idolatry, un-forgiveness, hatred, and abuse.  We believe that if we say the right things, challenge people the right way, we can FIX THEM, CHANGE THEIR BEHAVIOR, and get them to ACT AND LOOK MORE LIKE WE THINK THEY SHOULD.

BUT . . .we don’t know how to FIX this!

We don’t know how to “address” same sex attraction. We don’t know how to get them to stop and change. And because we don’t know how to fix their “gayness,” we cast judgement and condemnation or worse . . . we remain silent and keep our distance.

Our job is NOT to fix people’s sin problem.  Jesus said “I got this!”

Our call is to LOVE one another as much as we love ourselves, and BY THAT LOVE others will know we belong to Him.

We exist to humbly point everyone (including the LGBTQ community) to the absolute Hope that they can receive and experience in Jesus Christ.

Weekend Preview | What Motivates Sin? Part 3- Wicked

By Don Gentry


Christians have a sin problem. We spend most of our life trying to see how close we can get to sin and remain a Christian. It is a horrible way to honor God for the sacrifice that he made. Christ came that he might deliver us from sin! We make a mockery of his sacrifice when we continue to live in the sin that he died to save us from. No wonder the world calls Christians a bunch of hypocrites. We don’t live by what we say we believe. We hold our “get out of Hell card” as if that is what Christ died for, instead of “This is the way to life card” that he gave us access to.

There is a book (other than the Bible) that really changed my life and has helped to guide my passion for Christ. It is The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. It is a phenomenal book. As we take a look at what motivates sin, I want to reveal that the answer to our sin problem is Holiness. This is a quote from Pursuit of Holiness page 96:

Can you imagine a soldier going into battle with the aim of ‘not getting hit very much?’ The very suggestion is ridiculous. His aim is not to get hit at all! Yet if we have not made a commitment to holiness without exception, we are like a soldier going into battle with the aim of not getting hit very much. We can be sure if that is our aim, we will be hit—not with bullets, but with temptation over and over again.

Jonathan Edwards, one of the great preachers of early American history, used to make resolutions. One of his was, ‘Resolved, never to do anything which I would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.’ Dare we 20th century Christians make such a resolution? Are we willing to commit ourselves to the practice of holiness without exceptions? There is no point in praying for victory over temptation if we are not willing to make a commitment to say no to it.”

I don’t know about you, but when I read that I am convicted. Over the years I have spent in ministry, my biggest frustration with those who call themselves followers of Christ isn’t their hypocrisy, but their lack of acknowledgement that we can even do what Christ has called us to do.

15But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, 16for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 17Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives in reverent fear during your temporary stay on earth. I Peter 1:15-17.

The answer to our sin problem does not lie in trying to fix our sin, instead it is our reliance upon His holiness. Join me Sunday as we continue our conversation on sin!

Weekend Preview | What Motivates Sin? Part 1

By Don Gentry


“Don’t tell me I sin!”

If you call yourself a Christian you are identifying yourself as a follower of Christ. You may be tempted to think “Duh, why state the obvious?!” That means that you follow what Christ said about himself and what he came to do. His purpose on earth was to forgive us of our sin, save us from our sin, deliver us from the stranglehold of sin, and take us to a land where there is not and never will be sin.

What seems to be true for many is we say we follow Christ, yet we try to walk as close to sin as possible. We have a major sin problem and as a culture we are screaming, “Don’t tell me I sin!”

The scriptures say that sin is pleasurable, that sin destroys, that we can defeat sin, that sin is part of us from birth, and that sin no longer has victory in our lives. We have a problem of sin in this world. Listen to this quote from a great theologian:

“Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God’s good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own. I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison.

What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions.

Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?”

Doesn’t this define the struggle we have with sin in our lives? This next series that we are going to be discussing, is all about sin and why we sin. While there are many reasons that we sin and there are all types of sin, there are really three primary reasons that we sin. We sin because we are either Wounded, Weak, or Wicked.

If we really want to understand the questions that are posed in the quote above, we have to understand what is prompting us to sin in the first place. This series is designed to not only help us understand the power of sin in our lives, but also how to claim the greater power that Christ has given us. The great theologian quoted from above was Paul when he wrote Romans 7:13-25; the quote was taken from the Message. It is a paraphrase of what he actually wrote, but it most accurately defines our struggle with sin.

See you this Sunday at Journey as we start the new series, “What Motivates Sin”.

5 Ways to Manage Our Thought Life

By Zack DeBerry

Just because you are a follower of Jesus Christ does not mean that you will not be tempted or ever have a bad thought enter your mind. I want to be clear to let you know that you are human and as such will have to daily battle thoughts that will try to dictate your actions. Let me also be clear that just because you have a bad thought enter your mind, you are not doomed. There is a difference between a thought entering into your mind and allowing that thought to become rooted in your mind to the point that it becomes action in your life.

Proverbs 4:23 states, “23Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Part of our heart is our mind and what we allow to enter our minds can ‘determine the course of your life’. When you read that verse, it reveals the serious nature of what is at stake in the battleground of our thoughts. Luckily, there are some ways that we can combat thoughts that enter our minds and can allow us to overcome thoughts that will take our life off course. Here are just a few things that can help you manage your thoughts.

1. Read God’s Word

There is no better way to combat sinful thoughts than to know what God says about them and to be ready to recall scriptures to help you overcome those thoughts. We will only recall what we have read consistently and this is one of the best ways to overcome a thought in your mind. When you begin to go down a path that would lead to sinful actions, just recall God’s word and remind yourself who you are in Jesus Christ.

2. Start Everyday With a Dependence on God

One of the greatest things you can do to combat your thought life is to realize that you can not overcome them on your own. We must get to a point where we recognize our weaknesses and realize that God sent His Son to pay the price for our failures, and His Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us as we walk through the challenges of everyday. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, ask God to help you manage your thoughts for the day by the power of His Holy Spirit and trust in the grace that has been given in the cross of Jesus Christ.

3. Guard Your Eyes and Ears

What we watch and listen to will many times dictate where our thoughts go. It is important to filter the things you look at and listen to if you are to properly manage your thought life. It isn’t easy, but it is essential to run everything through the filter of, “Does this honor God?” Now, I am not talking about disengaging from all of culture and living a life of solitary confinement, but I do think it is wise to filter what we see and hear.

4. Focus on Pursuing God First

This sort of goes with number 2, but it is a little more about trying to NOT mess up. Like we talked about in our message Sunday, when we focus on trying NOT to think something, it is all we can think about. Instead of trying NOT to think about certain things, focus your energy on Pursuing God. Philippians 4:8 gives some great instruction for us about what we should focus on:

“8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When we let our primary focus become pursuing God our thoughts will surely begin to turn from other things to God’s plans.

5. Live in Community

This is where many people have a difficult time when it comes to our thoughts. We fear what others may think about us if they could see our thoughts. However, it is only in true community with others that we can experience freedom from sinful thoughts. There are many passages of scripture that promote community as a way of encouragement. Here are two of my favorite:

Proverbs 27:17- “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

Hebrews 10:24-25- “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

When it comes to battling sinful thoughts, there is nothing better than a trusted friend and community that you can be open and honest with about our struggles. God never intended for us to do life alone. Find someone you can be honest with about your struggles and the thoughts that may be creeping into your mind.

These are just a few things that I have found helpful in the times where my mind begins to wander to places that I know are not good for me. I hope that you can find something in this list that will help you in your struggle to manage your thoughts. Remember that God gave us the Holy spirit to comfort and guide us, and He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, to cover and empower us to overcome whatever battles we are facing in this life.

Message Follow Up | Why Christmas: Part 2 – Hope for the Hurting

By David McNeely


Last Sunday, we talked about hurting hearts. We said that our hearts (consciences) hurt rightly when we sin against God and people. And our hearts (consciences) hurt wrongly when others sin against God and people.

In other words, we should feel guilty when we sin, but we should not feel guilty for other people’s sin. What we did not talk about is freedom and anger. We are free to be angry with sin and its effects.

Anger strikes up all kind of images in our minds. Some of those images are painful. Maybe because of what someone has done to us in anger, or maybe because of what we have done to others in anger. Likely it’s a little of both.

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Helping Your Kids Make Sense of Sin

By Don Gentry


I often joke that I was saved from a life of horrible sin. Then I say I was saved at the age of three. I still remember the church I went to in Colorado and my Sunday school class. How do I know when I became a follower of Christ, because I had just turned four when we moved from Colorado.

Many adults have challenged me with the question “Do you really think you were saved? Can a child really understand what it means to be a Christian?”

To understand how to be a “Christian” we need our children to understand one simple concept. I do bad things, sometimes on purpose and sometimes on accident, but it is called sin. Because of sin God says I need forgiveness and Jesus is the only way to take care of the bad things/sin I do. As we become adults we do develop a deeper understanding of our sin, but the reality is our children understand their bad behavior better than adults.

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Message Follow Up | Making Sense of Sin: Part 2 – I’m Just a “Mistaker”

By Matt Dawson



I’ve never felt more defeated in my life!

I remember the feeling as if darkness was completely overtaking me and the rage of all that is wrong in my world was being unleashed. I had allowed thought after thought to pervade my mind and DECIDED that I just wasn’t going to take it anymore. I unleashed my anger, rage, and frustration and was left with nothing but shame, guilt, and a defeated heart.

To those we tell this story to, it’s usually filled with laughter at the site, sounds, and hilarity of the story. In short, my car inexplicably broke down for the 84th time, so I beat the engine with a cast iron weight from the trunk of my car and then preceded to lock my wife out of the car while I beat the steering wheel mercilessly, and cursed it to the point of exhaustion. Anger had won the battle. (To get the full story – my wife retells is in her book “Crowning Wisdom” – go buy it, Chapter 1 alone is worth the read!)

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Weekend Preview | Making Sense of Sin: Part 2 – I’m a “Mistaker”

By Daniel Shafer


 

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Heading into week two of our series Making Sense of Sin, we need to have an honest discussion about OUR OWN sin.

Last week David McNeely led us through what sin is, and why it is so important to deal with. As he said in his follow up blog post “The ultimate reason we are to deal harshly with it is because we want to LOVE what God loves and HATE what God hates.

With the idea that we should love what God loves and hate what God hates in mind, we need to realize how we JUSTIFY and MINIMIZE our sins.

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How to Deal With Your Own Sin | Night of Worship Preview

By Chris Denning


If you missed this last weekend at Journey, you missed the perfect start to our new series, Making Sense of Sin. Our heart with this series isn’t just about making us come face to face with our sin, but rather understanding what it is, what it does to our lives, and the freedom we can experience from it through Jesus.

However, as we were planning this series, we felt that we wanted to provide some practical help and tools to help us deal with our sin. When I say “deal with our sin,” I don’t mean provide a solution for it or even how to save yourself from it; that’s what Jesus has done for us.

Instead, when I say “dealing with sin,” you should think PROCESSING your sin. How can we process our own sin so that we can move forward?

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Message Follow Up | Making Sense of Sin: Part 1 – What is Sin

By David McNeely



God HATES sin.

Sin WRECKS people, places, and things.

Creation is PAYING THE PRICE for our sin.

Jesus tells us to deal harshly with it. Plucking out eyes and cutting of hands should not be taken literally but rather as a call to grab sin by the throat. The Holy Spirit promises to give us the power to do it. He loves giving that power.

The ultimate reason we are to deal harshly with it is because we want to love what God loves and hate what God hates. That’s the driving force.

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