Our vision for the future is simple: to cultivate spiritual identity in Christ among those who experience same-sex attraction, as well as those who identify as LGBT+. We aim to meet people where they are and encourage them to begin a spiritual journey from that spot. We aim to nourish faith, rather than chop at the roots of faith. We will go to those who will not come to our churches, and prove to them that Christ is inviting them to encounter him in a deeply personal way. We will work to protect the vulnerable lives of those being bullied or disowned – and labor to lower as many risk factors for suicidality as possible.
The only way I know how to do any of this work is to equip Christians to simply reflect Christ who lives within us to those around us; and to allow Christ to reign wholly in our own hearts. Those who struggle with sin should not be pointing at others who sin in ways we do not. I think the statistics for immorality among evangelicals demonstrates that we must find a deeper way to abide in Christ and find the freedom God promises before we hold out quick solutions for others. I am speaking about all of us – and I place myself at the top of the list.
Some may be asking: “But Bill, do you see people actually coming out of homosexuality.” Please listen carefully to my response: over the past five years, I have never once asked anyone to leave homosexuality. Despite this, my answer is yes. I have met many amazing young people who have never once acted on same-sex attraction out of their own personal conviction not to do so. I have met hundreds of others who have surrendered their sexuality to Christ after a season of identifying as LGBT+.
In sharing that information, it is important for me to make a couple of very important points. First, I have also met some wonderful young people who identify as LGBT+ who know Jesus as their personal savior. I will never deny the authenticity of their faith. Do we agree with one another theologically? No. Do we share an experience of having encountered Christ in a personal way? Yes.
Some people ask me, how can that be? I always answer this question…with a question; how can it be that we in our sinful proclivities can claim to have encountered Christ? We are not the faith police, and we do not have a license to determine who is in – nor who is out. This reality does not mean that our theology has to get wobbly; it simply means that in the sight of our Holy God my knees do get wobbly! I find that I cannot stand before him if I am predetermining that others are outside His grace. He is the King.
My second point is this: experiencing an inner gender that does not match your physical body or experiencing a sexual orientation toward the same gender can present a complex, confusing and painful journey for many people. This pain is multiplied by insensitivity, judgment, rejection, disownment, bullying and teasing. No wonder many gay teens and young adults have taken their own lives. In light of these realities, I will ask no one to leave homosexuality. I will only extend the invitations of Christ to those who feel excluded and forgotten.
If we want to lean toward the harsher side of the Gospel, we cannot get away with applying that hammer only against LGBT+ folks. We will find that the hammer will come down upon us in the process. If we feel so strongly that a more truth-based Gospel is needed in the our culture today, let it fall first upon us – the church. Otherwise, we are in serious danger of violating the absolute truth of Matthew 7 in the process of trying to uphold the absolute truth that forbids homosexual relationships. It might be said this way: those who claim to have the power of Christ who wrestle in wide numbers with sexual immorality and divorce (among other sins) should not be deceived into focusing too intently on LGBT+ folks’ need for repentance. Let it start with us.
Incredibly, this does not water down the Gospel one bit. To the contrary, it richly magnifies the beauty of our Savior God who knew we needed rescue long before any of us breathed a single breath. He knew. Well before we came along, He knew. Our Heavenly Father sent Jesus as our Savior long before we ever came along. When I consider my own sins in his sight, I can only fall down on the flat ground at the foot of the Cross and say in gratitude, “Thank you, Lord.” I can only turn to my neighbor and reflect the love of Christ living inside me to them.
The Gospel is not knowing what others need to do to please God; the Gospel is finding our spot where we too fall short of the glory of God. There we can look up and see the face of Jesus. Sweating. Bleeding. For each one of us. If we keep looking into his eyes, He will call out to us and enter into our soul. He will invite us to give him our whole heart, soul, strength, and mind. He will say, “Come to me.”
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