Well good morning. What I want to do before we start is to kind of go back and touch on something that we looked at last week. Then, I’m going to move into two areas that I think are of great importance. About twenty years ago, I read an essay called “The Necessity of Ethical Absolutes.” I hate to admit it, but I’m not even sure who wrote it, but these words were so impactful that I jotted them down and I want to share this with you as we start today.
There are laws that are beyond our control. We cannot change the laws of gravity regardless of how inconvenient it becomes, nor can we alter the laws of chemistry, though we can discover new laws. Similarly, the moral laws of God cannot be altered. We cannot obliterate God’s standards just because 51% of the people favor a change in moral codes. The only difference between physical laws and moral laws is that the consequences of ignoring physical laws are immediately apparent. For instance, you drive your car into a tree and the consequences are immediate. But, in the case of moral laws, the consequences are just as certain, though they are often delayed.” And that’s true. That’s why, in the Bible, so often these moral laws, kind of the illustration that we’re given, it’s like planting a seed, and it takes time for the seed to grow. That’s why the Apostle Paul says we reap what we sow in this life, even though it may be slow in coming.
Now, Philip Yancey in his wonderful little book called Finding God in Unexpected Places, speaks of a book that was written back in 1934. He said most people have forgotten about it, but it’ was a very important prominent book back in 1934 called Sex and Culture, and it was written by the prominent scholar and historian J.D. Unwin, and Unwin had studied 86 different societies and his findings startled many scholars, above all, Unwin himself, because all 86 societies demonstrated a direct tie between absolute heterosexual monogamy and the expansive energy of civilizations. In other words, sexual fidelity was the single most important predictor of a society’s ascendancy, and strength, and power, and health. What’s so funny, Unwin had no religious convictions at all and applied no moral judgment. He says, “I offer no opinion about rightness or wrongness,” nevertheless, he had to conclude, in human records, there is no instance of a society retaining its energy and its power after a complete new generation has inherited a tradition which does not insist on prenuptial and post-nuptial sexual restraint. For Roman, Greeks, Sumerian, Moorish, Babylonian, and Anglo-Saxon civilizations, Unwin had several hundred years of history to draw on he found with no exception that these societies flourished culturally and geographically during eras that valued sexual fidelity. Inevitably, sexual mores would loosen and the societies would subsequently decline only to rise again when they returned to more rigid sexual standards. Unwin seemed at a total loss to explain the pattern. He says, “If you ask me why this is so, I reply, I do not know. No scientist does. You can describe the process and you can observe it, you just can’t explain it. Now Yancey believes that people don’t pay much attention to this research, as valuable as it was and as prominent it was back in 1934. He says, “They don’t pay attention to it anymore because it points to a truth that nobody wants to hear.” He goes on to say, “Without realizing it, though, Unwin may have subtly edged towards a Christian view of sexuality from which modern society has badly strayed. For the Christian, sex is not an end in itself, but it’s rather a gift from God, and like all such gifts, it must be stewarded according to God’s rules, not ours.” You see, Christianity teaches that there is a divinely established moral order and that we, as human beings, can’t just decide for ourselves what’s moral, and clearly, when we choose to defy God’s moral order, there is a price that we pay. There are consequences. That’s why I do say, Paul, the apostle Paul’s words that strike so true, and over the years, I’ve just seen how this principle overrides almost every other principle when it comes to effective living in people’s lives. When Paul says in Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived. God will not be mocked. Whatever a man sows, this he shall also reap.”
Now, before I move on, I would point back, and go back to Dr. Jeffery Satinover, the psychiatrist, who was a fellow at Yale, with degrees from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Texas, a really well-educated, very studied man, and he says that, this is right out of his book, that when we think about reaping what you sow, there are consequences when you violate God’s moral order, he says this about practicing homosexual men, not women, practicing homosexual men. He says, “They have a 25 to 30 year decrease in their life expectancy. Many suffer from infectious hepatitis which dramatically increases the risk of liver cancer. In homosexual men, you see a significant increase in fatal immune diseases, included associated cancers. They have a much higher frequency of fatal rectal cancer. They have a very high frequency of multiple bowel and other infectious diseases, and finally, and very sadly, they have a much, much higher than usual incidence of suicide.”
And then Satinover, cites a paper prepared by three different researchers that was presented to the Eastern Psychological Association, and in this research, they analyzed the age of death for nearly seven thousand homosexuals and heterosexuals by obituary notices in a large number of gay and smaller number of large non-gay newspapers, and they found that the gay male lifespan, even apart from AIDS, and even if they had a long-term partner, is significantly shorter than that of married men in general by more than three decades. And he says, “When you throw AIDS in there, even though it’s obviously very treatable today, but when you then throw AIDS in there, it further shortens the lifespan of homosexual men by an additional seven percent. And this explains, guys, why the FDA, the Federal Drug Administration, will not allow blood donations from men who have been involved in a same-sex relationship with another man, even if it was only one time in his life, and it’s currently a lifetime ban, and I read an article that they’re getting a lot of pressure to change that. You know, if this is also true, you would think that the life insurance industry, the actuaries would know this, and so I contacted three different life insurance people who, eventually, one got me in touch with a really well-informed underwriter at one of the insurance companies and I’m not even, I think maybe in Boston or New York, and he acknowledged that yes, this is true, he said, but it if underwriters charged significantly more for life insurance based on sexual orientation, he said it would lead to very costly litigation and a public relations nightmare as they battle groups that would organize against them. And then he said, I quote, “No insurance company wants to be in the middle of a political firestorm. While insurance can’t account for every risk factor, they should be basing decisions on facts. However, some facts are simply unpopular socially or politically.”
Now, what we’re talking about, as far as health issues, is a much shorter life span for homosexual men. It’s a fact, and the only reason I share this is because it clearly goes against God’s natural order as the apostle Paul said. Again, as I said last time, lesbian sexual practices are less risky than gay male practices and lesbians are not nearly so promiscuous as gay men.
The big question that causes so much emotion, so much anger, so much controversy, and impacts people’s opinions more than anything else is this. What is it that causes people to be sexually attracted to the same sex? How does that happen? Is it genetics, is it their genetic makeup, so that they really don’t have any choice in the matter, it’s just the way I am the way I was born? Is there a social and a relational influence, in other words, you call it environmental, the environment you grow up in. Or is it, as some people say, it’s just, you know, they choose it. It’s just a choice. Now, based on all the research that I’ve done, it seems to be all of the above. It seems to be all of the above, and I want to read you some words that I think will give us some understanding and insight, being heterosexuals. I’m going to read this to you. These are the words of a married heterosexual man. He said, “At about the age of 13, I begin to notice girls, or, should I say, it was then I began to notice very little else. Twenty-five years later, the inclination is a bit more refined, a bit more controlled, but only a bit. Wherever I am, I notice women, and I notice particularly parts of women. I often entertain fleeting thoughts, at times lingering thoughts of how I might enjoy having sex with women I’ve never met. It is, after all, only natural, isn’t it? Or is it? Was I born with an inclination to have sex with several different attractive women each day, an inclination that merely remained dormant for thirteen years, or did my father, who apparently was a real philanderer, he seems to be, did my father’s desires, a very similar mind, train me to think about women a certain way? Am i the product of lifelong exposure to advertisements, films, popular music? Did the trauma of my parent’s divorce when I was three, or my mother’s actions during my infancy create in me particular sexual needs and drives? All of these questions I find generally interesting. They are not, however, moral questions. Moral questions have to do with the rightness and wrongness of my actions, regardless of the source or strength of my desires. Whatever I may attribute to my genes, or to my parents, or to my culture, none of them can force me at the crucial moment to turn a glance into a fantasy, or a fantasy into a flirtation, or a flirtation into a sexual act. At that moment, my will is involved, and precisely such moments define the course of my life as a heterosexual married man. I am the one, ultimately, who decides to be a philandering cheat or to be a faithful husband.”
You see what he’s saying there? Genetically, I was wired to be attracted to women. At 13, I realized that, he says, but I’ve had a lot of influences on my sexuality. You know, and then my parents divorced. My father maybe was a philanderer, and, you know, I saw the life he lived, the way he cheated on my mother, and then think of all the movies and TV shows, maybe even pornography, for all I know, he said, but it was me, I had to ultimately choose the path that I was going to take.
Now, guys, since my time is limited, I’m just going to focus on homosexual men since the majority of the homosexual community are men, and I do believe that certain men, or let me just say this, that certain men have a genetic makeup that predisposes them towards homosexuality. In fact, Dr. Satinover says, “The young boy who may go on to struggle with homosexuality is born with certain features that are somewhat more common among homosexuals than the population at large. What are these traits? If we could identify them precisely, many of them might well turn out to be gifts that people have, rather than problems.” And he says, for example, these are some of the traits you see in most homosexual men. They are very sensitive people, they have a very sensitive disposition,” that’s a good thing, “they have a very strong creative drive, they have a keen aesthetic sense,” but then he says this, “no one knows with certainty just what these heritable characteristics are. At present, we only have hints. Were we free to study homosexuality properly, uninfluenced by political agendas, we would certainly soon clarify these factors just as we’re doing in less contentious areas. In any case, there is absolutely, though, important, there is no evidence whatsoever that the behavior of homosexuality is itself directly inherited.” In other words, there is no gay gene that causes men to be homosexuals. There’s just no evidence backing it up, meaning, that I have this gene in me and I’m going to be homosexual, regardless.
Now, you hear about it in the press, but Satinover says, there is no evidence to demonstrate that there is a gay gene, and furthermore, just because you may have some of these traits that I mentioned, doesn’t mean you’ll turn out to be homosexual. But let’s be clear, there are certain traits that seem to predispose certain men towards same-sex attraction. But this leads us to what I believe, personally, this is my opinion, is the most influential factor, and that’s the environmental, or the relational factor. All the sources that I read all agreed that homosexual orientation is developed during the formative years of life as a response to both the internal, the genetics, and the external, environmental factors, and as far as the environmental factors, it is the culmination of an entire childhood of affirmation, attention, affection, approval, discipline, instruction, touch, time, and nurturing, listen to this, from a member of one’s own gender, most significantly for men, their Dads, their fathers. In a book, Coming Out Straight, psychotherapist and author Richard Cohen described homosexuality, “a man is looking for his father’s love through another man.”
Another interesting insight comes from Andy Comiskey. He is an ex-gay. He works with people overcoming homosexuality. He writes, “In joining with the same sex erotically, the needy child within seeks, in adult form, the affirmation and emotional intimacy from the same sex that was never properly attained in childhood. Comiskey says that in the majority of his clients, “gay sex wasn’t really the motivating factor in their homosexual pursuits, while same-sex intimacy was, and therefore reflected an emotional need as opposed to an erotic one.”
I read a study that was done where 117 homosexual men were interviewed, and of these 117 men, 86%, 86% indicated little or no time spent with their father during childhood. Just an absent father. In another study, researcher J.H. Brown extensively interviewed 40 homosexual men and said that not one of them had a warm affectionate relationship with their father. In that first study, you may say, well, okay, you have 117 men and 86% of them did not have a warm close loving relationship with their dads. What about the other 14%? What caused that? Well, there are other circumstances that clearly can create a disconnection between a boy and his gender, primarily, a young man that is rejected by his peers as he grows up. All the guys just don’t anything to do with him; maybe he’s friends with the girls, but the guys don’t want anything to do with him. Rejection by his male peers. Then you’ve got the issue of sexual molestation, and then finally, let me, I’m just going read it, and then make a comment. “An abnormally close relationship with his mother.” Now, I think a young boy growing up needs a close relationship with his mother, but he’s saying an abnormally close relationship, I’m not sure what that means, but he says that also can have an impact.
Which then leads to that third and final factor; making the choice to pursue the homosexual lifestyle. We’ve talked about genetics, we’ve talked about environmental, and then, ultimately, just like that heterosexual who wrote about it, you ultimately have to make a choice to pursue the lifestyle. You see, historically, homosexuality was taboo, and many men who were homosexually oriented were hesitant to come out of the closet, and most men who had a homosexual orientation growing up in, say, here in Birmingham Alabama, most likely, their friends and peers were all heterosexual, and so, gay men are often afraid to admit they’re homosexual. Some choose, just, I’m not going that route. Too embarrassing and the fear of rejection is too great. But Satinover says this is what eventually happens, and you know what, you see it in a community, men that have been married for years finally come out of the closet. Satinover says, “This is what happens. He says, often, in secret, the young man, at some point, gives into his deep longings for love, again, his deep longings for love, not sex, but love, and begins to have voluntary homosexual experiences. He finds, possibly to his horror, that all of these old deep painful longings are at least temporarily, and for the first time ever, relieved, although he may also, therefore, feel intense conflict, he cannot help but admit that the relief is immense. This temporary feeling of comfort is so profound, going well beyond the simple sexual pleasure that anyone feels in a less fraught situation, that the experience is powerfully reinforced. However much he may struggle, he finds himself powerfully driven to repeat the experience, and the more he does, the more it is reinforced and the more likely it is he will repeat it yet again, though often with a sense of diminishing returns as time goes by. He also discovers that, as for anyone, sexual orgasm is a powerful reliever of distress of all sorts. By engaging in homosexual activity, he has already crossed one of the most critical and strongly enforced boundaries of sexual taboos. Therefore it is now easy for him to cross the other taboo boundaries, as well, especially the significantly less severe taboo pertaining to promiscuity. Soon, homosexual activity becomes the central organizing factor in his life as he slowly acquires the habit of turning to it regularly, not just because of his original need for fatherly warmth and love, but to relieve anxiety of any sort.”
Now, quickly, let’s consider the other controversial issue. Can homosexual men be delivered from their orientation and become heterosexual? And this is a really contentious issue, because if a person can be delivered, they can’t blame it strictly on their genes. And therefore, it’s no longer a civil rights issue, and this is why, in my opinion, homosexual activists are so outspoken on this issue. They don’t want to hear anything of it. I’m gay because I was born that way and there’s nothing I can do about it. And so, the question I’ll come back to is, can homosexual men be delivered from their orientation and become heterosexual? Well, the simple answer, guys, is yes, and the only reason I can say that is because I’ve read or heard stories of so many who have, but I’ll say this, it’s not easy, nor is there a quick and easy formula to be delivered. And I will say this, many people who have sought deliverance often fall back into the gay lifestyle. In fact, Exodus International, which is the largest ministry to help homosexuals leave that lifestyle shut down back in June because they’d become so fragmented and they had so much criticism directed at them, and they just were so divided, they just shut it down. But let me just say this, it’s quite clear that deliverance from homosexuality can take place in a person’s life no matter how loudly the gay activists want to deny it, and I will say this. The evidence is irrefutable.
Let me start with, it’s kind of an old study that was done by, are you familiar with Masters and Johnson? A very famous research team; they studied all types of sexual issues. They conducted a study of 54 homosexual men and 13 lesbians, all who expressed a desire to convert to a heterosexual orientation. Very secular. The treatment format consisted of an intense two-week program, followed by periodic follow-up over a five-year period. 20% failed in the initial treatment period, but at the end of the five years, they revealed that there was only a 38 percent failure rate, and they were stunned. They thought the failure rate would be much higher. The American Journal of Psychiatry had an article which reported researchers evaluated 11 white men who claimed to have changed sexual orientation from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality. This comes from a very scholarly secular publication.
These eleven men claimed it occurred because of a spiritual transformation that took place in their lives. Each of them claimed to have been heterosexual for at least four years, and after thoroughly examining these men, the article stated, “corollary evidence suggests that the phenomena of substantiated change in sexual orientation, without explicit treatment and or long-term psychotherapy, may be more common than we previously thought.”
Now, I have all different types of studies that all reveal people are able to experience a change in their sexual orientation, but, for times sake, I’m just going to mention one more that was very revealing. This guy, his name is Andrew Comiskey. He’s an ex-gay, he’s written a number of books, and he’s given seminars to those who wish to be free from homosexual relationships. He runs an organization called Desert Stream Ministries, and what they do is they run in 36-week cycles and I don’t know why or how they come up with this number, but they choose 55 people in each cycle, they go through this 36- week program, and he says, of those 55, two-thirds are homosexual, one-third are heterosexuals who have sexual addictions. He says that he’s been doing this for a long time. He says, “Comiskey reports that fifty percent of those who start the program complete it with substantial progress out of homosexuality and into heterosexuality. About 33 percent clearly make little or no progress, frequently regressing back into active homosexual behavior upon leaving the program. The outcome for the remainder is uncertain, but his long-term experience reveals that approximately 25% of the homosexuals in the program marry within an eight-year period and have marriages that last as least as long or longer than the current national average, and then, for many individuals, it takes 12 to 15 years for them to finally get married, a testament to the often slow nature of the healing process.”
Guys, there are a large number of organizations and ministries that seek to assist homosexuals change their orientation. In fact, all you have to do is go to Google and type in ministry or ministries to homosexuals and there are just, I can’t tell you, there are hundreds of them. And then there are truly literally thousands who have made this change and a number of them have even written books that I’ve read; I’ve done the research.
Because of time, I just want to share with you two. They’re both very powerful and they’re both very revealing and I think they really kind of confirm what I’ve shared with you this morning. This first comes from a guy named Chad Thompson. He’s an ex-gay man. He founded an organization called InQueery to work with young people in high schools and colleges who struggle with homosexuality. He wrote a book called Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would. He says, that at some point, he “finally decided to share my struggle with homosexuality with a counselor I’d been seeing for clinical depression. It took me two sessions of staring at the floor before I could drum up enough guts to tell him what was going on inside me. Besides the fact that he didn’t reject me, which to me, was an act of heroism in itself, my counselor explained that homosexuals can change. He said, in fact, he had personally counseled many of them through that process. My reaction was, wow, I’ve never heard that. Although the human brain is far too complex to explain homosexual development with a single theory, he told me that, in some cases, men who experienced homosexual attractions are unconsciously trying to recover their father’s love in the arms of another man. This phenomenon, he explained, is why so many people who experience homosexual attractions report poor relations with the same-sex parents or peers. The unmet need for love and affirmation from someone of our own gender somehow became eroticized when we hit puberty. This was me growing up. He described me. When I reached adolescence, my body started telling me that I wanted sex from a man, but in my heart, I knew it really wasn’t about sex. Even before adolescence, when I used to fantasize about certain men I looked up to and respected, I didn’t fantasize about sex. My fantasy was that a man would just wrap his arms around me, look me in the eye, and tell me that I meant something to him. That’s what I was missing. It wasn’t a desire for sex, it was a desire for genuine love and affirmation from someone of my own gender. And I found that as these needs get met, my homosexual desires fade. In fact, the most healing experience I’ve had since realizing that I didn’t have to be gay, was meeting a man named Lenny Carluzzi, who had walked away from homosexuality 28 years ago. Lenny, who has since become my mentor, now lives in Seattle Washington with a beautiful wife and two kids. When I first met Lenny at an Italian restaurant in Chicago, he instantly wrapped his arms around me, he looked me in the eye, and he told me he loved me. That moment was the beginning of my healing process, and since then, God has put dozens of men in my life to provide the non-sexual love and affirmation that I need in order to change. Because of this, I’ve experienced extraordinary victory over my homosexual desires. Many books have been written about the process of overcoming homosexual attractions. Scholars have debated and scientific papers have been published in major scientific journals, but for me, the start of this process was quite simple. I just needed to be loved. That doesn’t mean that my homosexual desires are completely gone. Just like anyone trying to change some unwanted traits, such as excess body weight, muscular weakness, or poor academic habits, I have my ups and downs. If I do experience homosexual attractions towards another man, it just means I’m not receiving enough of the right kind of love, so I’ll call up a male friend for some verbal affirmation or a hug. I think a mixed conception many people have about those who have changed from homosexual to heterosexual is that we have one cathartic moment we can point to in which every ounce of homosexual desire was drained from our bodies never to return again, but the change takes time. An important element to the process of change, as I’ve mentioned, is close non-sexual relationships with people of one’s own gender. I have found, both through my experiences and by listening to the stories of others, that anything that creates a sense of disconnection between a child and his or her gender can cause homosexuality. This can manifest itself as a rejection, real or perceived, from same-sex parents or peers, or in some form of sexual molestation. Along these lines, I found that anything that creates a sense of reconciliation between a person and his or her gender can eliminate homosexuality. Two of the most potent ways this can manifest itself is through camaraderie with, and non-sexual touch from, members of one’s own gender.”
This second story is quite powerful. I read to you in session one just some words from Rosario Butterfield, you remember Rosario? She was an English professor at Syracuse. She described herself as a left-wing radical lesbian, she lived with a lesbian partner, she taught critical thinking at Syracuse, but her specialty was a course called “queer theory”, which was a form of gay and lesbian Studies and she said, you know, “life was going fine for me and my partner, you know, I was teaching and I worked with a lot of lesbian women, and she says, life was going fine until I was asked by a publication, probably a gay publication, to write an article on the religious right and about Promise Keepers and why they hated queers like me.” That was her assignment and she said, “the article, after it came out and was published, generated many rejoinders, so many that I kept a Xerox box on each side of my desk, one for the hate mail and one for the fan mail,” but she says, “but one letter I received defied my filing system. It was from a pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. It was a very kind and inquiring letter. Ken Smith, who wrote it, encouraged me to explore the kind of questions that I admire. How did you arrive at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God? Ken didn’t argue with my article, rather, he asked me to defend the presuppositions that undergirded it. I didn’t know how to respond to it so I just threw the letter away, but then, later that night, I fished it back out of the recycling bin and put it back on my desk where it stared at me for a week, confronting me with the worldview divide that demanded a response, because here I was, a postmodern intellectual, and I operated from a historical materialistic worldview, but Christianity is a supernatural worldview. Ken’s punctured the integrity of my research project without him knowing it. And then, with the letter, Ken initiated two years of bringing the church to me, a heathen.”
And I believe what I’m here to read to you is the way that Jesus would have us respond and reach out to the homosexual community. She said, “I’ve seen my share of Bible verses on placards at gay pride marches, that Christians who mock me on gay pride day were happy that I and everyone I love were going to hell, was clear as sky-blue; that is not what Ken did. He didn’t mock; he engaged. So, when his letter invited me to get together for dinner, I accepted. My motives at the time were straightforward. Surely this will be good for my research, I thought, but something else happened. Ken and his wife Floy and I became friends. They entered my world, they met my friends, we did book exchanges, they talked openly about sexuality and politics, and then,” this is crucial, “and then I started reading the Bible. I read the way a glutton devours food. I read it many times that first year in multiple translations. At a dinner party gathering my partner and I were hosting, my transgendered friend named Jay cornered me in the kitchen. She put her large hand over mine and said, ‘this Bible reading is changing you, Rosario’, she warned. With tremors, I whispered to Jay, ‘Jay, what if it’s true? What if Jesus is real and there’s a Risen Lord? What if we are all in big trouble?’ I continued reading the Bible, all the while fighting the idea that it was inspired, but the Bible got to be bigger inside me than I. It overflowed into my world. I fought against it with all my might, then one Sunday morning, I rose from the bed of my lesbian lover, and an hour later, sat in a pew at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church, conspicuous with my butch haircut, I had to remind myself that I came to meet God and not to fit in. As time went by, I fought with everything I had. I didn’t really want this. I didn’t ask for this. I counted the cost and I didn’t like the math on the other side of the equal sign, but God’s promises rolled in like sets of waves into my world, and one Lord’s Day, Ken preached on John 7:17. ‘If anyone wills to do God’s Will, he shall know concerning the doctrine.’ This verse exposed the quicksand in which my feet were stuck. I was a thinker. I was paid to read books and write about them. I expected that in all areas of life, understanding had to come before obedience, and I wanted God to show me on my terms why homosexuality was a sin. I wanted to be the judge, not the one being judged, but that verse promised understanding after obedience. I wrestled with the question. Did I really want to understand homosexuality from God’s point of view, or did I just want to argue with Him? I wondered, am I really a lesbian, or has all this been a case of mistaken identity? If Jesus could split the world asunder, divide marrow from soul, could He make my true identity prevail? Who am I? Who will God have me to be? Then, one ordinary day, I came to Jesus open-handed, bare, and surrendered. In this war of worldviews, Ken was there for me, Floy was there, the church that had been praying for me for years was there, Jesus triumphed, and I was a broken mess. Conversion was a train wreck. I didn’t want to lose everything that I loved, but the voice of God sang a sanguine love song into the rubble of my world. I weakly believed that if Jesus could conquer death, He could make right my world. I drank tentatively of that living water,” you know that we talked about, she said, “I drank tentatively at first, then passionately of the solace of the Holy Spirit. I rested in private peace, and then in community, and today, in the shelter of a covenant family, a home, where I have a husband who calls me his wife, and I have four children who call me mother, and I have not forgotten the blood Jesus surrendered for me and for my life.”
You know, I think this is a good way to close and end with how should the church respond and reach out to gays and lesbians. I think, so often, Christians believe homosexuals are nothing but perverted and lost people, but I think we all need to remember they are human beings created in the image of God, and therefore, they have great value and great worth in the sight of God, and that’s the way we should see them. And in all the research that I’ve done, it’s clear that at the heart of the homosexual condition, there’s clearly a deep loneliness.. There’s a search for love and identity going on, and we should remember that as children growing up, they experienced a deficit of love that we all need. Philip Yancey sees all sexual sin as “nothing more than a thirst for transcendence, a thirst for God.” He says, “sex is not a rival to spirituality but rather a pointer to it. When a society so completely blocks the human thirst for transcendence, we should be surprised that the primal longings reroute themselves into an expression of mere physicality, of just sex, and we believe that the physical pleasures of the body therefore will satisfy the longing of the soul.” He says, “But we we stop at the skin instead of going deeper into the soul.” He said, “Recently, I talked with the priest returning from San Francisco where he had visited various ministries to people with AIDS. They wanted love so bad it’s killing them.”
And so, I agree with John Stott, the church should be a place that they can find love and support, people that will care about them. If not, what are we really all about, and I want to close with some words from Wesley Hill. I think he puts it in a real good perspective as far as the church. Remember, he’s the guy I read from last week. He wrote a book called Washed and Waiting. He is a recovering homosexual and he says, “When homosexual Christians bring our sexuality before God, we begin to continue a long costly process of having it transformed. From God’s perspective, our homoerotic inclinations are like the craving for salt of a person who is dying for thirst, yet, when God begins to try changing the craving and give us that living water that will ultimately quench our thirst, we immediately scream in pain, protesting, I’m made for salt. You see, this change, this transformation, is painful; it hurts. ‘Are homosexuals to be excluded from the community of faith?’ asked one gay Christian in a letter to a friend. ‘Certainly not,’ he concluded, but anyone who joins such a community should know that it is a place of transformation, of discipline, of learning, and not merely a place to be comforted, or indulged, engaging with God and entering into the transformative life of the church does not mean we get a kind of free pass, an unconditional love that leaves us where we are. Instead, we get a fiercely demanding love, a divine love that will never let us escape from its purifying, renovating, and ultimately healing grip.”
Ya’ll have been a great audience. I’ll close in prayer and then I’ll see if you have any final comments. Let’s pray. Father, thank You for our time. I’m grateful for each of these men. Thank You for just their caring and their support of the work we do here. Lord, I pray that You would, as we leave here, that we would realize, whether it’s homosexuals or anyone out in the world that is lost and struggling, we are called to reach out, we’re called to love, we’re called to offer them that living water that only Jesus can offer, that satisfies the thirst and that emptiness of the soul, and we do thank You, in Christ’s name, Amen.