A Conversation About Gender & Sexuality

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST HERE

CALL TO WORSHIP

3 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

5 Blessed are the meek\humble, for they will inherit the earth. 

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 

8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

- Matthew 5:3-16 NIV

Everything about us and our world is connected to our sexuality. 

4 groups | 4 Authorities - greatest weight on your perspective & decisions

  1. Scripture - what Bible says is truth

  2. Church history: what parents believe - what’s been passed to me. Simple belief. Been good for 2000  

  3. Science | Reason: what’s been discovered rationally is truth

  4. Personal Experience: how you feel is my truth 

SHARE WITH A NEIGHBOR WHICH ONE YOU TEND TO GRAVITATE TO - NO WRONG ANSWER 

Not everyone in this room believes the same thing 

Tonight we want to answer 3 questions: 

    1. What does the Bible say about same-sex sex? 

    2. Does God love people who identify as LGBTQ? 

    3. How should Christians (those who plead for/trust God’s mercy through Jesus) respond?

Jesus has a similar group come to him similar to tonight 

  • Tax collectors|sinner: curious about Jesus, not living law

  • Pharisees: curious about Jesus negatively, strict keepers of law they wanted to 

  • Disciples: following & trusting Jesus, still trying to figure him out 

Jesus told 3 stories: lost sheep, lost coin, lost son 

Each identifying people and God (SPECIFICALLY THE TRINITY) 

  • Sheep: we wander, sometimes on purpose, but mostly unintentionally, we are searched for with joy

  • Coin: when we get lost, we are searched for without hindrance, we are valuable 

  • Son: the Father is Prodigal towards his prodigal son. Reckless in love & mercy. 

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT SAME-SEX SEX?

Biblical Interpretation

The distinction is not over what the verses say... that’s pretty clear. 

The disagreement is what they mean. This is why interpretation of the Scripture is very important. 

Hebrew Scriptures | Old Testament

22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.

- Leviticus 18:22 

13 If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

- Leviticus 20:13


Context: Moses was establishing the nation of Israel to be a holy (separate, set apart) nation. One of the main physical ways of distinction was through circumcision and sexuality. The Holiness Code (expectable behaviors of the culture) was established in these chapters. 

God was calling Israel to keep their holiness and their distinctiveness apart from the Canaanites and confronted their way of life and worship. 

“The general provision of Leviticus 18 and 20 specifies sexual conduct that is prohibited because it violates purity, would pollute Israel and the land, and would jeopardize the community.” 

- Walter Brueggemann 

Interesting thing: Jesus pulls the second greatest commandment from Lev 19

33 When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

- Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV

New Testament

Context: Homosexuality was common and part of the Greek culture, which eventually invaded Rome. 

Corinth 

There was a deep connection to sexual immorality and religion in Corinth. The Temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, at Corinth has attached to it a thousand priestesses who were sacred prostitutes.

9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men/males 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.

- 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 

You are no longer defined as sexually immoral.

You are no longer defined as an idolater.

You are no longer defined as an adulterer.

You are no longer defined as homosexual.

You are no longer defined as a thief.

You are no longer defined as greedy.

You are no longer defined as drunk.

You are no longer defined as a slanderer.

You are no longer defined as a swindler.

You are identified as a child of God.

9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine

- 1 Timothy 1:9-10 NIV

arsenokoites (arsen = adult male, koitai = bed) 

Most scholars interpret this word as practicing homosexuals

20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

- Romans 1:20-31 NIV 

Context of Rome: Fourteen of the fifteen Emperors were practicing homosexuals/gay. The current emperor Nero was gay and castrated a young boy named Sporus, whom he later married as his trans wife. He was also married to a man named Pythagoras. 

Pro-Gay theologians suggest Paul is talked about Greco-Romans practiced called PEDERASTY

  • adult male mentors and educators interacted with their young male students 

  • young male slaves/house attendants used as sex slaves

  • young men forced into prostitution 

  • career choice of as a castrated male prostitute (from The NT & Homosexuality, Robin Scroggs)  

Paul say in verse 26 “para physin” which means “against nature.” 

This is pointing back to the creation story of God creating male and female in the image (masculine noun) and likeness (feminine noun) of the Trinity. This is the nature that God intended with creation and the context of marriage in which sexual intimacy flourishes.

Love As An Orientation quote: 127-128

DOES GOD LOVE YOU IF YOU IDENTIFY AS GAY? 

YES - He loves you since the creation of the world. 

He knit you together in your mother’s womb. 

He knows the hairs on your heads, the freckles on your face. 

He knows your story, your secrets, what makes you tick, what makes you come alive, what hurts you, how you’ve been hurt...

He knows every thing about you AND LOVES YOU regardless of what you THINK, FEEL, BELIEVE. 

You, like everyone else in the world, has sin in your life that Jesus wants to forgive.  

You can trust in Jesus and still identify as gay. 

You can belong to our community because you are already part of our community. 

Will you be harassed because you identify as gay? NO.

We do talk about sin & repentance which we all have and need. We are all broken sexually. Will we point out yours before we confess our own? We better not.

Jesus longs for you and me to be full restored to His original intention and purpose that He put into play in creation, before sin entered the world. 

This is only possible if we submit our lives to the authority of Jesus - this allow the power of the Holy Spirit to fill us so we can honor God with our bodies. 

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS RESPOND? 

  • Remember the Father in Jesus’ parable... how did he respond to his sinful son?

    • You will be embraced, loved, and brought in

  • If this is the picture Jesus gave to the group with him, shouldn’t we do the same? 

1 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

- Romans 2:1-4 NIV

It’s God’s kindness, patience, withholding of judgment that leads us to repentance.

Paul’s way of quoting Matthew 7... before you tell someone about the speck in their eye, take the plank out of your own eye.

When you judge others, that judgment will all come back upon you.

It seems to me that Paul is saying that we will get in the way of God’s repentance working Spirit when we come in too forcefully and carelessly. 

1. LEAVE JUDGEMENT BEHIND 

  • The Pharisees were very good at pointing out people’s sin and bad at relationship. 

  • Jesus was really good at dancing with relationships/grace and truth. He was in relationship with people before he called out their sin

  • We must pull out all the stops, barriers, gaps for people to meet Jesus

  • It’s impossible for anyone to live the life God desires if they, like Romans 1 says, turn their back on God 

  • A straight person has no idea what an LGBTQ person is feeling and thinking

  • No one in this room fully knows our thoughts, feelings, and motivations - other than Jesus. 

  • We are called to seek to understand their lives and have compassion (me too, I need lots of grace) 

2. LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN 

  • Ask questions, and more questions, and more questions. Learn their story and share yours. Everyone is complex and still unfolding. 

  • Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19) 

  • We must not try to simplify their lives to be simply a sin because the whole reality of it is not sin. Being attracted to someone of the same sex is not sin. It’s the behavior that brings about sin. Same goes for everyone here sexually. 

3. COMMIT FOR THE LONG HAUL

  • Be a real friend 

  • An ongoing loving presence in the life of our LGBTQ+ friends.

  • Gospel and grace with skin on - this is where the Gospel comes out in conversation

  • Instead of convicting people of their sin, let’s convince them of their worth and call them back to Jesus

4. BE AN ADVOCATE

  • Rise against injustice ...any act that goes against the image of God in someone is injustice 

  • Be an advocate for the hurting, poor, and oppressed

The goal: To bring people to Jesus SO THEY CAN TRUST HIM

COMMUNION 

When you’re gathered around a table, you’re forced to talk.

What matters is how we love. In the context of this loving relationship — that is where truth is spoken.

What’s the truth: 

  • We all need Jesus’ death on the cross to pay for the penalty of sin. 

  • We need Jesus’ resurrection from the dead to defeat sin & death.

  • We need Jesus’ ascension so we can live in the power of His Spirit, alive within us, AND we need that power to transform us from the inside out. 

  • We need each other - for encouragement and challenge to follow Jesus and love one another the way he calls us to.

YOU — CHURCH — SOZO — YOU ARE INVITED INTO THAT

Laura Furman