Thought on the church officiating homosexual marriage?

(Jean Daniel Slabbert) #1

Hi everyone,

I have a number of homosexual friends and family whom I love dearly. In addition, I work in the HIV/Aids testing and treatment industry, which means I have a lot of interaction with individuals from the LGBTI community. In fact, my mother wrote the South African Aids Council’s LGBTI National Strategic Plan.

Though I absolutely do not agree with the life choices that these individuals make, I also don’t always agree with the choices I make myself. ‘We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23), so I attempt to treat all people with love—irrespective of their choices. Not only is this the new command that the Lord Jesus gave us (John 13:34-35), but I hope to develop relationship to build trust and guide those individuals to the Lord in the process.

However, a number of the churches here have, due to political and popular pressures, commenced officiating homosexual marriage. The Bible is quite clear on the fact that homosexuality departs from God’s intended design and that it is a sin. Therefore, I am troubled by the choices of these churches and the insistence of government to coerce and force churches into officiating these marriages. I’m not disputing the legality of homosexual marriage, but question the role of the church in the matter.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and guidance on the matter please? Thank you.

(SeanO) #2

@Jean Here is a whole host of articles from ‘The Gospel Coalition’ to help you think through this topic. For me personally, one of the most important roles of the Church is to remind the world that sex is not ultimate - being a slave to our passions is not freedom. When sex is made central to our identity it is destructive - no matter what form it takes or how it expresses itself. Our identity must be rooted in Christ alone. I like the quote from Allberry on this point.

Hope these resources are helpful. The Lord Jesus grant you wisdom and peace as you love your neighbor and uphold the truth.

"You won’t find Jesus teaching that your life isn’t worth living if you can’t be fulfilled sexually—that a life without sex is no life at all. You won’t see biblical Christianity insist that our sexual proclivities are so foundational to who we are—and that to fail to affirm such proclivities is to attack people at their core. All this comes not from biblical Christianity but from Western culture’s highly distorted view of what it means to be a human. When an idol fails you, the real culprit turns out to be the person who urged you worship it, not the person who tried to take it away.

The teaching of Jesus does two things: restricts sex and relativizes its importance. He shows us that sex in its God-given context is far greater than we might have realized—and yet even there it’s not ultimate. It’s not fundamental to wholeness and human flourishing. Jesus demonstrates this point in both his teaching and his lifestyle. After all, the most fully human person ever was celibate all his life." Sam Allberry

(Julia Bracewell) #3

Hi @Jean, I also work in the HIV/AIDS service field as a women’s outreach coordinator so I too have constant interactions with the LGBTI community and have deep love for many at my work, in my clientele and some queer friends and family as well. As I’m sure you can relate to, this has caused me to think about this issue very deeply and bring all my wrestling before God.

It’s funny that you bring this up because just yesterday I visited my friends church and they had a man from the church speaking that day who is gay and married to another man from the church. He was speaking on how he has been very hurt by churches throughout his life. He is always told, “you are welcome at our church, we want you to come, but since you are practicing we cannot allow you to serve in a leadership capacity”. The church I was visiting has not taken an official stance on gay marriage, but has decided to be allow him to serve, lead small groups, preach etc. Naturally, although I felt sad for him that he had spent many years never feeling at home in a church, I also felt defensive of those churches who had said no to him serving because they saw that he was engaging in habitual sin and therefore it would be unwise to allow him to have authority over others. After all, if a congregation member, especially a newer believer, sees someone in leadership who has decided to turn from God’s design for their life in this way, why would that not start the wonder if they could as well?

There is no where else but the church to uphold truth in our society. Schools aren’t going to, businesses aren’t going to, popular opinion is going to continue to be malleable and fluid. If God says same sex marriage is not permissible, than the church has an obligation to uphold the truth because no one else is going to. Of course, I feel the tension as I write this- I care for so many queer people and don’t want to have a hand in causing them pain or seeing them turn from God. I want LGBTI individuals to feel welcome at all churches and not feel rejected by being told they cannot be married there, but above all else I have to trust and obey God’s design, which means having boundaries on what the church can and cannot do no matter the social climate.

I felt very sad for this man, but I also felt very sad for this church. If the church cannot uphold truth, no matter the pressures they face, who will?

(Bonnie Crabtree) #4

I agree with @Jean . The church must uphold the truth. Society (and the church) has elevated homosexuality, it seems, above other issues.

If someone were to constantly come stumbling into church drunk or someone was contually spreading lies about others or someone was being beligerant or offensive, each much be disciplined. I see no difference with homosexuality. They are all living a sinful pattern.

This is different than those who are sinners but not giving into or accepting a sinful pattern.

In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul admonishes the church to deal with a known immoral sexual sin. In verses 11-13 he states, "But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one… Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

We are to love all people but to be zealous over the things of God and protect the holiness (separateness) of the church as a reflection of her Savior.

@Julia_Bracewell. You commented that your friend shared how he was hurt by the church. I would like to offer a different way of viewing that. The church is doing right by upholding the things of God. If someone is hurt they are hurt by the results of their sinful choices. Its when we feel we are unjustly treated that we place the blame on others.

Not being aware of the particulars in your friends case. If he is actively living a gay lifestyle than he is going to feel unjustly treated. His own choice is actively aggressive against God’s commands and design.

James 4:4-7, 'You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:4‭-‬7 ESV

Paul’s entire motive in 1 corinthians 5 is to bring this person into belief of the whole counsel of God’s word, into fellowship with the Holy Spirit, so he may be saved.

(vs. 5) ‘deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh [sinful desires], that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.’

(Jean Daniel Slabbert) #5

Thank you all for your feedback. This certainly helps a lot.

@SeanO hose articles are very helpful indeed. I’ve not worked through all of them yet, but the Allberry article and the one below has helped me a lot in finding an answer… I completely agree too that sex is not ultimate; even marriage is not ultimate. Paul himself was not necessarily a big fan of marriage. Out identity should be rooted in Christ alone a big AMEN! to that).

I suspect that two homosexual friends (one is my adopted sister (not legally adopted, but my mother portrayed a motherly role to her after her mother’s death; she was 18 at the time) are planning on asking me to officiate their weddings sometime in the foreseeable future. I do not feel comfortable with doing this, but the article below and specifically the quote in italics below helps me to formulate a loving response, should the requests come.
There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

@Julia_Bracewell I completely understand the tension you are feeling. My homosexual friends know my stance, but they’re not threatened by it. I always remind myself of John 1:14 that says that Jesus came ‘full of grace AND truth’. I remind and reprimand myself where necessary to remember that I cannot sacrifice truth for grace of the other way around. This requires leading from the Holy Spirit and courage to do as He guides and requires.

@crabtreelighthouse believe you’re absolutely right in bringing up 1 Corinthians 5 here. The Bible here doesn’t tell us not to ‘judge’, but who to ‘judge’. To correct those in the church who are knowingly continuing with their sin.

As a student, even though I believed and attended church and told everyone of my faith, I still continued drinking way too much – repeatedly to my shame :blush:. Though I was never unwelcome in the church, my actions certainly weren’t condoned and no pastor ever said to me ‘come get drunk at church’… Again John 1:14 comes to mind; ‘full of grace and truth’.

Thanks again for your inputs.