I think it’s safe to say, the issue of same-sex attraction and homosexuality is one that affects every small group. Whether members struggle themselves or know friends or family members who are active members in the LGBT community, I wanted to give us a few reflections and resources for how we can equip our people to better engage with these issues of sexuality. If you missed this week’s incredibly powerful sermon be sure to start there!
Here’s 5 Tips to responding to SSA within the Church:
1. We Are All Sexually Broken.
Regardless of orientation, sexual experiences or preferences when we look at Scripture we see the reality that we are all sexually broken. There are two books that give us this framework: Genesis & Romans. In Genesis 1-2 we see God creating a beautiful, perfect creation in which he called it good, yet by Genesis 3 we see sin had entered into the world. Paul said because of the Fall, that: “…sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…”(Rom 5:12).
Later in Romans 3, Paul says “There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” This is true for all of humanity – gay, straight and everything in between before Christ.
Later, in one of the climaxes of the Romans, Paul writes about creation and our own bodies: For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Rom.8)
From this framework on the Fall of man, it’s affect on the human soul as it relates to God, creation and our own innerworkings, it’s not hard to see that we are all sexually broken.
Why is this significant? This biblical truth is important because it levels the playing field of depravity for believers and unbelievers, gay and straight. There is no one righteous…and…the whole creation has been groaning…not only the creation but we ourselves. This means that, there is no difference between people who struggle with heterosexual lust and people who struggle with homosexual lust. Sin has impacted us all.
2. It’s Not Really About Sex.
When we read all of Romans, and then narrow down into Romans 1, we realize this passage isn’t primarily about sex, it’s about worship. This again, brings us back to a place of commonality. Romans 1 is one of the clearest passages against homosexuality, and it continues the theme throughout Scripture that any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is not in line with God’s created order.
But look closer. Paul says “Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images, resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles) (1:22-23).
This is a description of every human being’s heart when they choose the created thing over the Creator. Homosexuality is simply one of millions of ways that this disordered worship plays out within the hearts and lives of humanity.
3. Attraction and Action Are Not The Same.
This one’s important, folks. Same-sex attraction and same-sex action are not synomous. This often isn’t discussed in the church, but Pastor JD emphasized how same-sex attraction is an affliction that many people in our culture, our churches and our small groups wrestle with. The question is: where do we take our afflictions? How will we try to satisfy our souls? Isn’t this the question we all must ask, regardless of orientation? Doesn’t soul-satisfaction drive us all, in every area of life?
This is true of straight people and true of LGBT people, we are all seeking love, acceptance, friendship, community, pleasure. Our job is to point people to where their soul can find life. David writes in Ps. 107:9, “He satisfies the thirsty soul, the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Can you imagine if God’s people, filled with God’s Spirit, armed with God’s word, took a truth like that to the sexually broken and hurting?
4. Attraction is Not a Sin.
Attraction is not a sin. Be careful here, because it’s easy to slip too far on either side of this statement. Before I explain, let me expound on what I mean when I say attraction is not a sin. Many, many LGBT people find their sexual orientation as both unchosen and immovable. To paraphrase Pastor JD, “The first thing we need to understand when interacting with someone who struggles with same-sex attraction within in the church is their struggle involves many unanswered prayers.”
LGBT believers have wrestled for years to reconcile their sexuality and their Savior, and we will either point them to hope, surround them with hospitality and bear their burdens, or we will cast more shame and judgement. Understanding attraction is not a sin, separates the broken wiring from the sexual sin and lust that can so easily follow. Yes, attraction leads to temptation, which can very often lead to sin (James 1:14-15), but it doesn’t have to. Attraction can lead to worship
. Attraction, whether heterosexual or homosexual, any attraction that draws a person outside of their holiness and faithfulness to Christ can, and should
, be an opportunity for worship, a cue to send our souls to the One who can satisfy the thirsty soul.
Just like attraction is not synonymous with sin, it’s also not synonymous with “good” or “right”. Sam Allberry
writes extensively about this, that same-sex attraction in many ways can be viewed as a ‘thorn in the flesh’, a thorn that can drive to worship or drive to sin, but an uninitiated thorn should not be viewed as condemnation of a person. Our sexuality does not define us
5. The Church Must Be Safe.
Let’s just say what we see in Scripture. Jesus would eat with the LGBT community. Regularly. He would have partied with them, sat with them, dined with them. He would have changed water to wine with them. And he would have done all of this without sacrificing grace or truth.
Sinners simply flocked to our Savior, there was this intense magnetism about him. Outcasts that no one in society wanted to interact with were our Savior’s favorite people.
Want proof? Look no further than John 8. A woman caught in the midst of adultery, cast at Jesus’ feet to be condemned. We all know the story, she wasn’t. But look at the characters in the story, we have One who is determined to save and we have ones who are determined to condemn. Oftentimes as we read this we’re tempted to ask the question: who would I be? Would I be gracious like Jesus, or would I be hypocritical like the pharisees?
There’s one scenario that we’re not quick to point out: We would be the woman. It would have been us caught, completely guilty, no where to hide, desperate for grace, for acceptance and love, and our Savior is so eager to give it.
What drives a man or woman to commit adultery? It’s more than a few moments of fleeting pleasure, but a deep soul-ache for love, validation, satisfaction and approval.
Who will give it? Can sex deliver what our soul craves?
This is where small groups are so strategic, because God has positioned us to be salt and light, hands and feet in the midst of a world that is hungry. A city that is full of worshippers, that continue to worship things that most assuredly can not satisfy, and will only leave them with souls only more damaged and scarred.
Our small groups must be safe. They must not be full of judgement or fear. We must not view sinners as other but like us, for we are them, and they are us, the only difference is, Jesus stood between us and the rock-throwers and said: “Neither do I condmen you, now go and sin no more”.
The church is God’s Plan A. The Gospel is the power to save and heal. We are the carriers of this good news. This is what the LGBT community needs. This is what every community needs.