How Should the Church Respond? by Transforming Congregations
How should the church respond to homosexuality? The following two alternatives represent the visible response of many local churches to the homosexual issue.
Steve sat Sunday after Sunday in church nursing his "secret." The guilt and shame at times were overwhelming, and he desperately wanted to tell someone. Yet, he didn't dare. Comments from the pulpit and attitudes reflected by some in the congregation gave a clear message that it was not safe to discuss such things here. Steve finally found the courage to tell an elder in the church. Before long it became obvious that others knew. People he had known for years suddenly acted aloof. Fear gripped him when the pastor requested they meet. His secret was out: Steve is a homosexual. Yet, it didn't seem to matter to anyone that he really wanted to change.
Lisa had finally found the acceptance and fellowship she had only dreamed of. She and a small group of other homosexuals were welcomed into this inclusive church and accepted for their "gayness." Their church's interpretation of Scripture regarding sexuality was different from what she'd been raised to believe. For membership, no change in her lifestyle was required. Those in their small band were encouraged to celebrate their homosexuality. On her first Sunday there, the minister announced the upcoming "union" ceremony of a lesbian couple. All of this felt wonderful for Lisa, but it only worked when she violated her conscience and discarded her traditional values.
Is Either Right?
Past fearful attitudes towards homosexual people have led many congregations to reject the homosexual directly or indirectly for the sake of maintaining God's righteous standard. As with Steve's church, they are not welcomed and helped.
However, some churches--like Lisa's--claim an "enlightened" understanding of homosexuality and, throwing aside orthodox teaching, have opened the church to unrepentant homosexuals. Seeing them as "born gay," they reach out with compassion, but sacrifice righteousness in the process.
What would God have us do? Are the only choices these types of "holiness" and "compassion"?
There is a Third Response!
As 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 records, God delivers people from homosexuality's snare through Christ's atonement and the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work. This special work of our Lord is uniquely emphasized in our day by the rise of a movement of those overcoming homosexuality. Organizations like Exodus International (a Christ-centered coalition of "ex-gay" ministries) and Transforming Congregations (a network of redemptive churches) reach out with the biblical message of transformation from homosexuality.
What is the Transforming Congregations Movement?
The Transforming Congregations program helps churches adopt a redemptive and pro-active response to the homosexual issues of our day. It is a way for a local congregation both to stand against the trend to accept homosexuality as normal, and make themselves available to directly assist overcomers in the midst of their healing and change process.
What do They Believe?
Transforming Congregations affirm the biblical witness that (1) Homosexual practice is sin: Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:9-10. (2) The power of the Holy Spirit is available to transform the life of all persons, including the homosexual: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Romans 12:2; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 Peter 2:24.
We seek to heal homosexual persons, their families, and the Church. We minister to the needs of all persons affected by homosexuality, utilizing the resources from both within and outside the Church in order to facilitate healing and wholeness: Romans 15:1-2; Galatians 6:1-2. We integrate all repentant, redeemed persons, including homosexuals, into active membership and participation in the life of the Church.
How Can I Find Out More?
The local church and Exodus-type ministries working together--the combination is life-changing! But we need the Church's involvement. For more information on becoming a Transforming Congregation and putting into action a ministry plan, contact: Transforming Congregations.