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Homosexuality: The Church Ministers to a Confused Culture
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Leviticus 18:22; 2...
Track 3 of 7 in the A Transforming Church . . . Produces Transforming Families series
Track 5 of 5 in the How the Church should respond to . . . series
Running time: 35 minutes, 59 seconds.
Church and Culture in Collision

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Kent Paris Speaker: Kent Paris
Kent Paris of Champaign, Illinois

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Biblical Authority

When Jesus was tested by the devil (Matthew 4:1-17 | Mark 1:12-13 | Luke 4:1-13) His response on all three occasions was "It is written." Jesus believed in the authority of God's word. When Peter wrote to the church scattered throughout Asia Minor he taught that the prophets "spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21). Later in his letter he equated the writings of Paul with other Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter believed in the authority of God's word.

The Bible is reliable. It can be trusted. We have manuscript evidence (pieces of early text) by the 1,000s; many early translations (i.e., in various languages); the Dead Sea Scrolls; the testimony of the Church Fathers; the formation of the canon (the current list of books included in the Bible). There is simply no question that we can trust the written record of what God has said to us.

The question is rarely whether or not the Bible is trustworthy. The real question is whether or not we are willing to submit to its teachings. That's easy when we are reading promises. We like those and so we are willing to believe them. It's not so bad when we are reading history. Since it's about back then and there, accepting that is okay too.

The hard part is when the Bible teaches something we don't want to agree with. Accepting what it says is hard when it calls for us to make a change in our lives or submit to its teachings in some specific way.

The Bible teaches that Christians should only marry Christians (2 Corinthians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 7:39). That teaching is okay so long as we haven't "fallen in love" with someone who isn't a believer. The Bible teaches that we shouldn't commit adultery (Exodus 20:14 | Hebrews 13:4). That's a good command unless it's your marriage that is falling apart, or your physical needs that aren't being met.

Our topic today, homosexuality, is clearly addressed in Scripture. Having sexual relations with someone of the same gender is strictly forbidden (1 Corinthians 6:9; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27). That command is alright, too, unless you are the one who is gay and wants a loving, sexual relationship.

The issue isn't murder, or adultery, or gossip, or homosexuality, or stealing, or lying, or anger, or vengeance, or hatred, or neglecting the poor, or failing to forgive, or any other sin found in Scripture. The issue is obedience. Either we believe what the Bible says and are committed to living by it; or we aren't.

"Introduction by Chuck Sackett"

You may remember that last fall we began a Wednesday night series in which we were attempting to help us, as the church community, figure out how we should best respond to issues in our community. We spent some time listening to people who had struggled with a variety of things. We had somebody here to give her testimony on what it meant to be raised in a dysfunctional family and to live through that successfully as a Christian. We spent some time talking about the issue of alcoholism and heard testimony from those who had dealt with that in their life. We spent time talking about poverty and figuring out how the church community wrestles with the issue of dealing with systemic poverty in a community.

At the time we were hoping to also address the issue of how the church reaches out and ministers to those who struggle with the issue of homosexuality. We weren't able to do that in the fall because we didn't have access to Kent at that time. He was available for us today and so we want to bring him here to share with us. Kent Paris lives in Champaign. He has been involved in a counseling ministry for 107 year or so. He doesn't look like he's that old, but he's been doing this for a long time and has a very effective ministry that he has been involved in. He is here to share with us what scripture teaches and to help us understand how as a Christian community, how we can respond effectively to those around us who are struggling with this issue that our culture doesn't seem to know how to address. I commend him to you…I'll be saying a bit more about him later and giving you some idea of the information that he'll have available for you afterwards. But I want to encourage you to give him your attention at this particular point as he shares with us from God's word.

I'm wired and not from caffeine. Usually it's the other way around. Well good morning. It's good to be with you. Wherever I go I make a strong appeal for Christians to respond to the problem of homosexuality with a balance of grace and truth. We must, as Christians, present a clear and thoroughly biblical standard. But it's crucial that we maintain a truly loving and compassionate and redemptive response toward individuals.

Cherry, my wife, and I, have dedicated the last 30 years of our lives in ministry to reaching out with love and compassion to people who are struggling with these issues…well over 2,500 of them now. While I counsel in other subject area as well, consistently for some 25 years now, approximately 75% of my client load falls in this arena of ministry.

Homosexuality twists the understanding of who man truly is: male and female, created in the image of God with the distinct identity, a clearly defined purpose and plan of relationship. Homosexuality distorts that true, authentic human identity and it damages the soul. It takes deeply wounded, hurting people, promises them freedom and relief from their pain and then enslaves them.

In America of late, truth has become subject to terrible political pressure. The question isn't just homosexuality, but rather freedom from all sexual restraint. Most of the early leaders of our nation were steeped in the Judaio-Christian heritage. Certain notions were part of the standard mental furniture of Americans. God exists. He created all things. We are responsible to him. Moral law exists and is flaunted to our detriment. History is going somewhere. We must all finally give an account to God. Most held that divine providence was leading our nation.

I think many people have the sense, especially in America, that too many barriers have come down. We now have so little of a moral compass that we're completely at sea. We are awash in a tide of unconstrained instinctive behaviors which are all being labeled "OK" because fewer and fewer people really have a sense anymore as to what's morally right and morally wrong.

We're now looking at a generation of young people who are exposed to a sometimes explicit and sometimes implicit set of values that support homosexuality as perfectly OK…that it's just a compliment and equal to heterosexuality. TV shows aid this perspective…"Boy Meets Boy," "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," "Will and Grace" and a million other sitcoms. The implication of such values to an impressionable, possibly confused, and certainly exploring youngster, is that certainly there's no reason whatsoever not to go out and try it and see whether it fits--thereby exposing themselves to terrible risks at an age where they are not really capable of making intelligent judgements about the inherent risks and long-term impact of certain behaviors.

The author Dostoevsky, in his work "The Grand Inquisitor," made the profound statement, "Without God, everything is permissible." Without God, everything is permissible. The powerful theological truth of mankind being created in the image of God is critical to man's understanding of himself--for the establishment of his true identity. Man is created to have a divine reference point for his life. If he has no yardstick to determine who he is, no basis, no foundation, then he will only find confusion. He will only be able to define himself by his fallen intellect and feelings.

We need an anchor. The Holy Scriptures are our anchor...

[ED: Only the first 6 minutes have been transcribed. If you would like to help Madison Park Christian Church transcribe sermon audio, please email the webmaster.]