In light of current events in the world of politics, society, and religion, we as clergy are faced with a question we can no longer afford to avoid? What is the role of the pastor when faced with the issue of homosexuality – through his ministry, within his church, within his own family, or even within himself…?
I was 42 years old the year I turned my back on the homosexual lifestyle. Sixteen years I had been in total bondage, living a life of self-destruction and degradation, blaming God the entire time for “creating me this way.” There were others I blamed as well for the roles they had played in channeling me down the broad, gay road that leads to destruction.
“You would do well to divorce him and get on with your life,” my wife was counseled by prominent pastors and psychiatrists alike. “There’s nothing we can do for him. That kind can never change!”
Granted, those were my same sentiments. But coming from these spiritual authorities, they left me feeling totally helpless and hopeless – utterly outside the reach of the Savior. To me God appeared to be selective in His plan of salvation, to say the least, if not down right impotent rather than omnipotent. Fresh out of college, having graduated with honors and a degree in Theology, I did not have a saving knowledge or understanding of God.
“How is it that He is able to change murderers, thieves, liars, atheists, heathens, devil worshipers, and other adulterers but is not able to change the homosexual…?” I reasoned. “Christianity must be a farce. It certainly is not just and merciful.”
Sixteen years later I came to the realization that I could blame God and others for everything wrong in my life and continue justifying my lifestyle of perversion until Jesus returned in the clouds of glory. I was still a lost man! It really did not matter how I ended up being gay. The past was the past and could not be altered. Surely there was something about God and His plan of salvation that I just did not yet understand. The responsibility, in all honesty, really did lie at my own feet. There must be a way for my life to be changed as well as that of anyone else’s.
And, so it was that I began my search for God’s truth on this subject through intense study of His word. Step by step I came to a saving knowledge of God’s will and way for me:
1) Realize God’s love. I discovered that I was intensely and unconditionally loved, not condemned, even in my fallen state, by God and by His true children as well. (1 John 4:8, John 17)
2) Face myself. I determined to honestly face myself, and my condition, for God had invited me, “Come now, and let us reason together.” (Isaiah 1:18,19)
3) Acknowledge my sin. Continuing in honesty, I came to acknowledge my lifestyle to be a “sin” issue, according to the law of God and many specific texts of Scripture. (Jeremiah 3)
4) Salvation is for me, too. By making a list of all the abominations in the Bible, I came to realize that my sin was just as reachable by the plan of salvation as anyone else’s sin. This listing was not done to make me feel better about my personal abomination, but rather to make me feel better about the possibility of overcoming. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
5) Cause of Homosexuality, irrelevant. Another important realization was that it really didn’t matter how I had become homosexual – born gay, conditioned by environment, my own bad choices, etc. The simple fact was that I, too, needed a Savior from sin, and One had been lovingly provided for even the likes of me. I learned that Jesus could and would save me personally from my sin. Eventually, I obeyed His call, came out from the world. (Matthew 1:21; Titus 2:12-14)
6) Learn to Forgive. To be made whole, I learned that I had to be forgiven, pardoned, justified. To be forgiven, I had to learn to forgive those who had wronged me, even as I wanted God to forgive me for wronging Him. All resentments, bitterness, vindictiveness, and anger had to be let go. What blessed relief to do so!! (Matthew 6:12)
7) A matter of choice. It also became evident that God created every one of us with the power of choice. He must have my permission and cooperation in order to cleanse me of my sins and to create a clean heart within me. Overcoming homosexuality truly is a matter of choice. (Joshua 24:15; Philippians 2:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
8) Walk with God. I came to realize it was vital that I develop and maintain a relationship with God through daily prayer and Bible study. He is the “power source” for one’s victorious life. Plugging in is essential. (1 Thessalonians 5:17; 2 Timothy 2:15)
9) Protect environment. Removing myself from the path of temptation and guarding well the avenues to my soul was a very important step for me to reach. I determined to be very careful regarding what I watched, read, touched, and heard, etc. I began separating myself from every unclean thought and unholy practice. (Philippians 4:8)
10) Personalize Scripture. A very helpful tool for me was to insert myself into the context of Scripture, especially into the exceeding great and precious promises of God’s word. (Example: Isaiah 53 & 2 Corinthians 5:17,18)
11) Act upon God’s Word. When Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” she was empowered by faith in His Word. (John 8:11) I developed faith in His Word, faith to act upon His promises. After all, it has been wisely observed by one author that “all God’s biddings are enablings…”
12) Be grateful. In His infinite wisdom and love for the well-being of humanity, God gave us the gift of marriage. It is not a sin to live without that gift. But all sexual relationships – whether heterosexual or homosexual – outside of this Biblical union are simply sin. I made a decided choice to accept with gratitude that which God has offered, to not press against the fence for the green grass on the other side. I chose to be content living within the parameters our loving God has established for my life, liberty, and pursuit of true happiness. That meant avoiding all sexual relations, behavior, and activity outside of the Biblical union between a husband and a wife.
13) TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN! A very significant understanding came to me through beholding the life of Christ. Temptation is not sin. Otherwise, would not Jesus have been the chiefest of sinners rather than Paul? After all, He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) Neither is orientation determined by temptation, by someone else’s, (Satan’s), intentions upon one’s life and destiny. Orientation is the direction one is heading, the direction one chooses for himself and then pursues. To suggest otherwise is to justify sin and to denigrate the gift of God in the power of choice.
14) The Secret to Overcoming: The secret to overcoming sin is in helping someone else to overcome sin. “And they overcame him [the accuser, Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony…” (Revelation 12:11) Also, Jesus told the cleansed demoniac, “…Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:19) He has enjoined me to do the same, and I do. Through sharing my own personal testimony, I live from day to day with positive reinforcement. There truly is victory in Jesus.
The bottom line from my research: I found my answers, accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior from my sin of homosexuality, turned my back on my perverted lifestyle, and began my new life in Christ Jesus. The process was not a quick and easy one, but it was a successful one. The words of the apostle Paul to the Corinthians are true, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) He has lovingly sustained me these past 15 years, giving me 2nd chances and double portions in life, ministry, and family.
In another epistle, the apostle Paul spoke of those “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” advising young Timothy, “from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5) It is absolutely vital for us pastors to have faith in the power of the God whom we serve and represent while standing in the pulpits before our congregations from week to week. Our God “is mighty to save,” the “whosoevers,” from “whatsoever,” even “to the uttermost.”
We must acknowledge, however, that salvation is not to be found in sin, for Jesus came to “save His people from their sins” the wages of which is death. (Matthew 1:21, Romans 6:23) And sin is defined in 1 John 3:4 as “transgression of the law.” In other words, disobedience, the breaking of any one of God’s 10 commandments is defined as “sin.”
Here is where we pastors face a dilemma with the issue of homosexuality. Activist homosexuals have been very successful in having homosexuality reclassified from its Biblically established category of “sin” to that of a “genetic” issue, a “social” issue, a “political” issue, an “acceptable alternative lifestyle,” and on to the advantaged and privileged “minority” status.
Many pastors and churches have followed the tradition of not getting involved in social and political issues, thus shying away from the “social” and “political” issue of homosexuality, overlooking the Biblical fact that it is really a “sin” issue. This passive stance on our part has actually worked to encourage homosexuality to transcend the status of perversion, becoming first tolerated, then accepted, then protected, and now promoted, flaunted, celebrated, and specially privileged. Homosexuality seems to be running rampant throughout every echelon of our society within our present generation: government, politics, education, social services, media, entertainment, sports, and, yes, even throughout the church and clergy.
So, in light of political correctness in our culture today, what is the role of the pastor when faced with the issue of homosexuality?
First of all, we must remember that the church is like a hospital. It is filled with people comprising the full spectrum of spirituality, from the terminally ill and the chronically ill on the one hand to the healthy on the other. It is the spiritually healthy that ideally should be in administration. In other words, we do not deny the right of worship to anyone. But church offices and church membership should be reserved for those who are not living in defense of open sin – those who have a healthy understanding and acceptance of salvation issues.
Secondly, in the spirit of Christ’s love and acceptance, we must not shy away from honestly diagnosing homosexuality as a “sin” issue. What good is the physician who will not honestly diagnose his patient? What good is the mechanic who will not honestly diagnose the car problem?
The pastor must be courageous and honest enough to call sin by its right name. “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1) Otherwise, he gives the sheep of his flock a false security, and a false hope of life everlasting in the face of eternal destruction.
This does not mean that the pastor is to publicly expose the homosexual and denounce from the pulpit such a one in the congregation. It does mean, however, that the congregation needs to know clearly where the pastor and the church stand on this “headline current events” issue. Discretion is to be used in dealing with the individual in a non-threatening environment and manner. And the pastor is not expected by God to shirk his duty of ministering to the needs of such a one within the congregation.
Paul told young Timothy in 2 Tim. 4:2-4 to “Preach the word; …reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Jeremiah pleads, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, …And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding…and I will heal your backslidings. (vss 13,15,22) This is not “hate speech,” fellow pastors, but rather loving exhortation in the interest of one’s eternal life.
The apostle John counsels, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9,10)
In other words, if we allow the issue of homosexuality to escape the Biblical classification of sin, then we pastors make God out to be a liar, and His word is not spoken nor preached through us. Jesus did not come to save His people from some “acceptable alternative lifestyle.” He came to save His people from their sins, from transgressing the law of God, from breaking His ten commandments, from disobedience. And, “…as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12) Furthermore, God promises, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7)
Thirdly, the pastor needs to be prepared for a hostile reception of his efforts to minister to the homosexual. Indeed, this is to be expected, initially. However, the pastor is counseled to “be not weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
Should the loving, interested, caring and patient efforts of the pastor fail to bring about remorse and repentance in the homosexual, then the pastor and the church have a duty to follow through with church discipline just as with any other sin. The church should not tolerate the open sin of heterosexual adultery in its midst. Neither should it allow the open sin of homosexuality to be nurtured in its midst by membership and church office.
The apostle Paul is very clear on this in Titus 3:10, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” (Titus 3:10)
Fourthly, the pastor need not be afraid to reach out beyond himself and his limitations. There are resources available to help in time of need. (See Below)
Finally, let us endeavor by God’s grace to be those pastors of whom Jeremiah speaks, pastors according to God’s own heart, which shall feed our congregations with knowledge and understanding, that they may find healing from their backslidings, healing for their souls, victory in Jesus, and life everlasting.
“Victor J. Adamson” – Author of “That Kind Can Never Change! Can They…?”, Ex-Gay for 15 years, now Husband & Father, Pastor, Radio Evangelist, & International Speaker.