Sunday, September 21, 2014

[Matt's Messages] Hope for Holy Sexuality

“Hope for Holy Sexuality”
All Roads Lead to Romans
September 21, 2014 :: Romans 1:24-27 

Our series is called “All Roads Lead to Romans” and we’ve covered the first chapter in the first three weeks.

However, last week, I said that I would preach a special message this Sunday on homosexuality from verses 24-27 which we didn’t get to go very into last week.

I have to say that I don’t feel like preaching about homosexuality.

It seems like there are too many ways to get the message wrong.

For example, the very thing that you might want to hear me say this week might not be the very thing that you need to hear from me this week.

Some of us are probably tempted to follow our culture and celebrate homosexuality. So, you might be wanting me to say, “It’s no big deal. Don’t worry about it.”

On the way other side, some of us are probably tempted to feel morally superior to LGBT people and maybe even hate them and feel comfortable disdaining those who experience same sex attraction. Maybe even hating them with our words or actions.  You may want me to make this “us vs. them.”

Some of us are probably tempted to live in fear right now because the proponents of homosexuality as good and normal and worth celebrating are on the ascendency in our culture. You can be ostracized and penalized for suggesting differently. Some of you may want me to either reassure you that you don’t have to speak up or to get you riled up to be politically active on this issue and win back America for traditional values. You want some red meat.

It seems like there are too many ways to get the message wrong.

And the stakes seem too awfully high. Because we all have people that we know and love who are affected by same-sex attraction.

Many of you have children, and grand-children and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends, and neighbors, and co-workers who identify as gay.

I have several people whom I love dearly that are.

And we love them. And we’re confused. The stakes are high.

And some of you here probably struggle with same-sex attraction, as well. Maybe you’ve never told anybody, but there it is.  Let’s say the occurrence is 3% of the population. There are 150 people here. Maybe 3 or 4 of you?

I’m so glad you are here!

And there are people who will read or listen to this message online who experience same-sex attraction, as well. I’m glad you’re tuning in, too.

I preached a special message on homosexuality before, 8 years ago when I was preaching on what the Bible teaches about the family. Some of you will remember it.

A lot has changed in our culture since 2006.

Homosexuality has become mainstream.

In 2006, I was worried to preach about it because of exposing the children.

Now, I’m concerned that we have talked about it enough because of what the children are regularly exposed to.

Two daddys and two mommys. It doesn’t matter.

Heather and I were at the Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario this Summer for our second honeymoon. And we went to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

And there was no warning, but it was a Very LBGT Midsummer Night’s Dream.  There were 3 twisted couples in the production. One gay, one lesbian, and one cross-dressing queer.  Titania the queen of the forest was a drag queen.

And the hall was packed with families, and they all applauded as if it was completely normal and good.

Honey Maid, the food company, has recently put out an ad campaign called, “This Is Wholesome” which features among other things, a gay couple as parents. “This Is Wholesome.”

But is it?

Homosexuality has become mainstream.

I didn’t feel like talking about it to the teens at Challenge this Summer. I don’t know what I was thinking when I agreed to talk to them.

I’m not an expert. I’m just a pastor who cares.

But somebody has to be talking about this and specifically saying what the Bible has to say about it.

And many of you have been asking me to share what I said to the students at Challenge. So, today I will.

Because lots of things in our culture have changed since 2006, but God’s Word has not changed.

One the great things about the Challenge Conference this Summer was that all of the teaching was built around the Big Storyline of the Bible.

Creation, Separation, Promise, Silence, Rescue, and then Restoration!

We talked about that this Summer.

Well, when I wanted to talk to the teens about holy sexuality, I followed the same general pattern.

We started by talking about #1. ORIGINAL SEXUALITY.

I asked, “Where in the Bible would you go to establish God’s design for human sexuality?”  And how would you answer that? Genesis, right? Chapters 1 and 2.

Let’s turn there real quickly.

Look at Genesis 1:27 and 28.

After he created a whole bunch of other things, God set to making us.

 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”

Chapter gives a closer look at that creation. Look at verse 18.

“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’”

And that’s what he did and he presented the woman to the man. V.23

“The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, 'for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

So much could be said here, but this is what I want you to notice.

God made how many genders?  2 genders.

And these 2 kinds of human beings complement each other. Male and female.

And when a man a woman come together, they multiply.

Marriage unites a man and a woman in a complementary, comprehensive, exclusive, and permanent union.  “One flesh.”

And the refrain of chapter 1 is, “God saw what he had made, and it was...” good.

Gender, sexuality, and natural marriage are real, good, and beautiful.

Original Sexuality was good.

Some people like to think that sex was the original sin. It wasn’t.

God designed sex. It wasn’t something man made up.  It wasn’t like God made man and woman and then said, “Oh, no what are they doing over there?”

No, He sat at his drawing board, and said, “Oh, I’ve got a great idea for marriage! They are going to love this one.”

Original Sexuality is good. It is God’s design. But, we should use it as directed.

Like on your prescriptions?  Use as directed.

I like to say, “Sexual relations are for marriage (meaning one man, one woman united for life). Sex is for marriage like fire is for the fireplace.”

Fire is awesome in the right place. Warm, cozy, good. But terrible if it’s in wrong place and burns your house down.

And here’s where Jesus’ teaching comes in.

Some people like to say that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

He was silent.

And if you mean that he never said the word “gay,” you’re right.

But turn quickly to Matthew 19 to see what he said about marriage. Look at v.3

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ [Now, we can’t into divorce today, but see where Jesus goes with this...] ‘Haven't you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' [Where’s that? Genesis 1] and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? [Where’s that? Genesis 2.] So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’”

Jesus was not silent about what marriage is supposed to be.

Jesus was not silent about original sexuality.

He says the fire of sex is made for the fireplace of natural marriage. Male and female becoming one flesh. And it’s God who joins them.

And the apostle Paul takes it even one more step further. In Ephesians 5, which if we had more time I’d take you to (but I had 90 minutes with the youth and only about 35 with you, in Ephesians 5), Paul quotes Genesis 2 again and says that marriage has always been a mystery pointing people to a picture of Christ and the church.

A mystery is something that’s always been there and is not revealed. Like an app on your phone running in the background and then you pull to the front.

Marriage has always been a picture of Christ and the church.

And homosexual union cannot achieve that picture.

And then, I took the student this Summer to #2. UNHOLY SEXUALITY.

We went to Genesis 3 and read about Satan’s temptation getting between the couple and thwarting God’s design for complementarity for the sexes, and saw how Adam’s sin changed everything. How men and women after the Fall are ashamed and at odds.  And how our good sexuality is now broken in so many ways. Not just in homosexuality! We are all broken sexually in some way.

And then we went here to Romans 1. Where we’ve been as a church for this whole month.

Where we clearly see that homosexuality is a result of the Fall.

We said last week that this is the “Bad News section of Romans.” The wrath of God is being revealed against all unrighteousness, against those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.

God has made Himself known in creation, clearly, but people everywhere have pushed down that knowledge of God.

And traded God for stuff.

Idolatry. V.23 “[They] exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”

And that’s not all they’ve traded.

They traded original sexuality for unholy sexuality.

And it was, in part, a judgment. V.24

“Therefore [because of that idolatrous exchange] God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.”

As we said last week, idolatry leads to sexual impurity. Unholy sexuality.

Now, that’s not just homosexuality, that’s all sinful sexuality.

That includes lustful masturbation, using pornography, sexually abusing someone else, selling your body in prostitution and pornography, beastiality, and every other kind of unholy perversion that we as humans can think up.

All sexual intercourse outside of the covenant of marriage.  Couples living together as man and wife when they aren’t. Fornication.  All of that stuff.

By the way, I’m really uncomfortable talking about all of this. I don’t enjoy it one bit.

I’d rather I never had to talk about this publicly.

The media culture tries to paint Christians as fixated on sexuality because we preach God’s design and standards.

But it’s the media that’s fixated on sexuality.  I’m sure that there are preachers who are abscessed with it, too, but just turn on any TV or device or open any magazine and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

The point I’m making is that idolatry is the root cause of sexual impurity. And that’s all sexual impurity not just homosexuality, but it includes homosexuality. V.25

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. [Idolatry. V.26] Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. [Lesbianism] In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”

Do you hear all of the negative words?

There is no way to put a positive spin on this.

Impurity. Degrading. Shameful. Unnatural. Lust. Penalty. Perversion.

Unholy sexuality.

Now, this is not saying that people wake up one morning and decide to become gay.

“I’m going to choose unholiness today!”

We’ve made the mistake of thinking it’s all about choice.

And that’s it’s simple as a simple choice.

It’s not simple in most cases.

There may be lots of factors involved including biological ones.

Things like biology, environment, and nurture can shape and express our fallenness but are not the ultimate or most central and important cause.

The science actually bears this out if you read it carefully.

But the Bible places homosexuality as a result of the Fall.

And ties it closely to idolatry. It’s another kind of exchange.

Now, some people want to argue this away.  The most recent was a man named Matthew Vines who wrote this book, “God and the Gay Christian.”

He argues that Paul isn’t talking about homosexual orientation here. Paul doesn’t know about that. He’s talking only about a perversion of how you were made.

If you were made a heterosexual then it would be unnatural for you to have sex with another man. But it would be different if you were, as Lady Gaga would say, “Born that Way.”

But that’s not what Paul means by natural.

Paul means how God made us in nature.  He means original sexuality.

Male and female go together.

And he’s saying that’s obvious.
It’s part of what God has clearly revealed in creation, that people are suppressing.

But it’s absurd. This should be obvious:

Men should not have sexual relations with other men.
Women should not have sexual relations with other women.
To do so is unholy and invites the wrath of God.

Turn with me to 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9 & 10.

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

That’s the bad news.

And Paul here uses two words for homosexual people to indicate both the active and the passive partners in gay sex.  It’s not just abusive dominating men in a patriarchal Roman society. It’s all who choose to have same sex relations.

They will not inherit the kingdom of God.


Look at the next verse. V.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.”


I love that sentence in verse 11. “And that is what some of you were.”

Some of you were sexually immoral and idolaters and adulterers and thieves and greedy and drunkards and slanderers and swindlers and practicing homosexuals.

But you aren’t any more.

You’re saved.

“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.”

Forgiveness is possible.
Redemption is possible.
Change is possible through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Jesus, we can have hope for a holy sexuality.

Now, we want to be careful not to hold out a false hope.

We in the church have often given people the idea that change will be easy and quick.

But that’s not often not the case for any sin.

There is victory in Christ. In being washed, sanctified, justified.

But that victory is often up and down and three steps forward and one step back and sometimes just facing forward not making much progress.

Some people will come to Christ and experience total freedom from same sex attraction and marry an opposite sex spouse and have kids and never look back.

Others will not get there in this lifetime.

For some, holy sexuality will look like singleness and celibacy.

Which is an awesome calling. Jesus did it.

We need to hold up more the awesomeness of singleness.

Jesus was not a second level citizen in the kingdom of God. And he never had sex!

The goal is holy sexuality, not heterosexuality.

I learned that idea from a man named Christopher Yuan.

Christopher Yuan was heavily intro drugs and promiscuous gay sex. And he eventually went to prison. And it was in prison that he met Jesus.

And he said in his book Out of a Far Country:
For so long, I saw myself solely as being a gay man. That was such a big part of who I was. I went to a gay club, I went to a gay gym, I went to a gay grocery story . . . everything. All my friends were gay.
And as I was reading Scripture, I realized I had put my identity in the wrong thing . . . that my identity is not gay, it’s not homosexual, it’s not even heterosexual, for that matter. But my identity as a child of God must be in Jesus Christ alone.
Regardless of whether your temptations, your passions, your desires, your struggles change, God is calling us to live a life of obedience. God is calling us to live a life of holiness. So I realized that the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, but holiness.

Christopher Yuan is now a professor at Moody Bible Institute and teaches on holy sexuality across the country.

And this Summer, I told Christopher Yuan’s story and a bunch of other stories of public people who have experienced saved sexuality. Change.

Rosaria Butterfield whose book is in our library, “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” who was a lesbian professor of gender studies who became a Christian now homeschooling mom!

Jackie Hill Perry who was one of the poets at the Challenge conference who had been a rebellious lesbian who is now married and expecting a child.

And Sam Allberry whose book is the absolute best thing I’ve read on this, “Is God Anti-Gay?

Sam still lives with persistent same-sex attraction. But he is living out a holy sexuality in celibate singleness.

And the stories can go on.

Not just of very public people who write books.

I know several people personally whose lives have been changed and through Christ have chosen away from unholy sexuality to live in faithfulness and obedience to God’s good design–and been blessed for it.

This Summer, we completed the Big Story of the Bible by going to Revelation 21 and soaking up the picture of the end of the story with heaven unifying us with God, filled with only good things, and utterly satisfying.  That’s the direction that everything is going for those who belong to Jesus and are saved.

But I want to end our time with three points of application.

From all that we’ve seen here in the Bible (and more could be said!), how should we then live? We must we do?


In the words of Romans 1, we must not “approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

We cannot celebrate unholiness and remain holy.

One of you came to me in the last few months looking for counsel about whether or not to attend a gay “wedding.”

The “wedding,” at this point, was still theoretical, but one of the grooms wanted to know if you would attend.

And you loved this person a lot, but you loved them too much to celebrate what would be sin. And I was able to affirm you in telling your loved one that you couldn’t participate in good faith.

And some people will call that homophobia.

And for some people it will be homophobia. They are truly afraid.

But Christians are not to be afraid or hateful. But we are also not supposed to call something holy that is not.

We must be courageous and confident. We need to know what we believe and why. We need to speak the truth.

Honey Mead? It is not wholesome. It is not holy.


And that’s all of us. Not just those who are attracted to members of the same sex.

We are all broken sexually.

And instead of celebrating our brokenness, we are to turn away from it and embrace Christ.  Trust in Jesus and His work on the Cross on our behalf.

And be washed, sanctified, justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And then, by faith, in the power of the gift of the Holy Spirit, live out a holy sexuality. Obey God. Practice God’s original design.

That’s not going to be easy, but it will be good.

And it’s not just sexual sin that we need to repent of.

Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 give us long lists of sins that aren’t sexual at all but are bringing the wrath of God.

We’ll see next week in Romans 2 that judging others is just as sinful and just as damnable.

But we must repent. Just because all sin is sin doesn’t make any sin less serious or less needing of our repentance and faith in the cleaning blood of Christ.

Repent and hope in Christ for a holy sexuality.


One of the reasons why we have lost so much ground in our culture is because Christians have often failed to love those who are different from them.

We Christians have failed to love and care for those who experience same-sex attraction.

We have not been safe.
We have not been welcoming.
We have not been listening.
We have not been suffering for them.
We have been afraid, and we have been angry.

We’ve blamed the LGBT community for all kinds of things including the breakdown of the family.

Let me just say that we broke down the family all by ourselves.

The degradation of marriage didn’t start with gay “marriage.”

We messed up marriage without much help from them.

The easy divorce culture and the casual sex culture are much more damaging to the family than same-sex marriage. They paved the way for it.

The church has often (not always but often) mishandled this whole area, and we’re reaping the consequences.

We need to speak the truth and not stop speaking the truth when it becomes unpopular, but we need to speak the truth in love.

And if you can’t find it in yourself to love people who identify as gay, then that’s unholy, too.

If hate words come out of your mouth like “faggot” and you use the word “gay” as a slur, “That’s so gay!” then you are being just as unholy as they.

Christians are called to love those whom we would rather hate.

We are called to love our enemies.

We are called to love those who are different from us.

We are called to love those who seem strange to us.

We are called to love those who are unholy.

Isn’t that what God did for us?

Let me tell you my second favorite verse in Romans. It’s Romans 5:8.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We must love others with the love that we have been shown.

I’m so proud of many of you in this room who have LGBT loved ones and you work hard to show your love and the love of Christ to them.

You are an example to me, and I’m proud to be your pastor.

And I’m happy to have gotten the balance right at times, too.

This Summer at Challenge, after I had spoken to a group of about 250 teens on this material, a young lady about 15, came up to me and whispered:

“I’ve never told anyone before, but have those feelings sometimes. How can I have a holy sexuality?”

And that made it all worth it.

Because she saw Christ in me.

I was calling sin “sin.”

I was speaking the truth about unholy sexuality!

But I must have been communicating something of the love of Christ to that young lady.

Because she wanted to know more and to trust Him and to change.

Friends, that’s what it’s all about.

May we be found faithful to love others with the love that we have been shown in Jesus Christ.