Pastors and Church Leaders: Please Speak Out About LGBT Issues

Has your pastor ever given a sermon about “LGBT Pride Month?”

A week ago, I asked our team that question.

No one could remember ever hearing such a sermon.

Granted, it’s a tiny, anecdotal survey, but it’s rather telling, as we’ve all been in different churches for years, in different cities, and in a wide variety of denominations and independent churches. And these are strong, bible-teaching congregations.

Almost every aspect of our culture is affirming and celebrating homosexuality and transgenderism.

Since this is the case, can pastors and church leaders remain silent?

To be clear: I’m not talking about a sermon railing against LGBT-identified individuals or the depravity of our world.

I’m talking about a serious, thoughtful sermon that helps congregations understand an important issue of our day that is creating great deception and expresses God’s deep love for broken individuals.

Here are three key things a sermon on homosexuality and transgenderism should include.

First, pastors must be clear about God’s design for sexuality. Our starting point for talking about these issues is Genesis, not the scripture passages that prohibit same-sex sexual behavior. This is exactly where Jesus went when he addressed marriage and sexuality in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 – back to the beginning.

In Genesis we see that God created humanity male and female, with individuals as male or female, to reflect His image and likeness. Each person displays masculinity or femininity differently, but there are not an infinite number of “genders,” nor can people change from one sex to the other.

God designed marriage to be between a husband and wife, uniting the two halves of humanity. It is to be a life-long, monogamous, one-flesh committed relationship. In the normal and healthy course of things, marriage generally brings forth children. God loves marriage, children and families, all of which He created.

Marriage is the highest picture in Scripture of God’s relationship with Israel and Christ’s relationship with the church. Scripture is clear that same-sex sexual relationships are sinful and that marriage between two men or two women falls short of what marriage really is.

The Bible is also clear that transgenderism distorts and mars God’s good creation of a human as male or female.

Second, a good sermon on LGBT issues would acknowledge the effects of sin on humanity, as Adam’s Fall marred God’s good design and all people now struggle with sexuality, relationships and identity issues.

We must be clear, homosexual and transgender behaviors and identities are sins. But they are among many kinds of sexual and human brokenness. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul illustrates the historical downward cycle of all humanity, as fallen man turned from God, did not give Him thanks and praise, and rejected the truth – including His clear design for human sexuality.

This is the world we are born into, a world where people – including believers – will struggle with a variety of sins and brokenness.

Author Rosaria Butterfield, a once-committed lesbian activist who came to Christ, says that as she read Scripture:

Genesis 3 and Romans 1 stood out as the Table of Contents of what ails the world. Indeed, Romans 1 does not end by highlighting homosexuality as the worst and most extreme example of the sin of failing to give God the glory for creating us. Here is where this passage finds its crescendo:

‘being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil; disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Romans 1:29-32 NASB).

She explains:

Homosexuality, then is not the end-point of the problem, for God or the world. But it is presented here as one step of the journey. Homosexuality seemed consequential, not causal. According to the Bible itself, homosexuality then was not the root of all sin, not even the root of my sin.

Homosexuality and transgenderism aren’t the cause of all problems in our culture. But they are certainly symptomatic of this fallen world.

Third, a sermon about homosexuality and transgenderism would express God’s deep love for those struggling with sexual sin and brokenness – and His plan to rescue them.

What started me thinking about all this (aside from the fact that “LGBT Pride” starts in about two weeks, and we’re already inundated with celebrations of homosexuality and transgenderism) was a series by Julie Harren Hamilton in The Christian Post.

Hamilton is an assistant professor of psychology and a licensed therapist. In two articles about “The Silence of the Church,” she implores pastors to address homosexuality from the pulpit. She writes:

The wounded I treat are the victims of the sexual revolution that eventually led to the LGBT movement. They are bombarded with the lies of the culture – “born gay, can’t change; it’s harmful to try to change; gay is good; dissent is bad; gender is inconsequential.”

As a former president of a research organization that reviewed the science behind the issue of homosexuality, I know those claims are false. And as a Christian, I know that God has a plan for people who have unwanted same-sex attractions – attractions that are neither genetic nor a choice. I know God also has more for people who are dissatisfied with their biological sex or who feel uncomfortable in their bodies. But part of the tragedy is that people who are deceived by the cultural lies are not hearing these truths.

There are people in every congregation struggling with issues of sex and gender. Hamilton realizes that some pastors don’t want to detract from the gospel by teaching about controversial issues, but she argues:

Issues related to identity and sexuality are by no means trivial. For some, these may become issues of life or death and Heaven or Hell. Some who listen to the messages of the culture and embrace a gay or transgender identity will end up walking away from God completely. Without an understanding of God’s perspective on these issues, without a concept of why they have these feelings and what they can do about it, many will follow the powerful trend of our day and go the way of their flesh. The Bible is clear that a person cannot follow the flesh and yield to the Holy Spirit at the same time (Romans 8:5-13 NIV).

We’re not suggesting that when a person turns to Christ, their homosexual or transgender desires automatically go away. As a therapist, Hamilton knows the tangled web of issues that are involved in sexual brokenness.

I know this, too, from my own journey out of homosexuality: early exposure to sex or pornography, broken relationships, a false identity, years of practicing sinful behaviors, wrong thinking about God, myself and others, many years of feeling shame, loneliness and despair – and more.

But the gospel is powerful, as is our God. And with truth, love, the Holy Spirit, healthy relationships and time – people grow more and more free from sexual sin.

How will those struggling with these issues find freedom, healing, forgiveness and transformation, unless someone tells them the truth, with love and courage?

This is the work of the Church.

As the apostle Paul wrote, in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (ESV)

There’s more, of course – we haven’t even touched on the family and cultural issues related to this. But a pastor who covers these basics, with love, truth, courage and wisdom, will have done a very good work.

Related articles and resources:

Talking to Your Church about Homosexuality: A Guide for Pastors and Church Leaders

Three Reasons Why Pastors and Church Leaders Should Talk about Homosexuality in the Church

Focus on the Family:

Counseling Consultation and Referrals
Transgender Resources
Understanding Homosexuality

Dr. Julie Harren Hamilton at The Christian Post:

The silence of the Church: The problem (part 1)
The silence of the Church: Solutions (part 2)

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