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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Sexuality does not define us

Written by: on March 7, 2015

Sexuality is an issue that the church has struggled to find a balance view on over many years. I approach this topic from my understanding of the biblical viewpoint, and God’s love for every person. From my study of Scriptures, I do believe homosexuality is sin and is a lifestyle that a person chooses to engage in. To date, I can find no scientific proof that an individual is born gay. I am open-minded and if science proves that this is genetically possible, I may rethink my stance. But, to date this has not happened. I do believe that the church needs to build a “bridge” with the GLBT community. Marin states that, “Evangelical churches, families and individuals all across the country are being challenged by the GLBT community. The dichotomized relationship between evangelicals and the GLBT community has a traumatic history and continues to grow further apart. Each group talks past the other rather than to the other group.”[1] Dialog is the key to bringing the church and GLBT community together. We may never agree on core beliefs that separate us, but we can learn to live and work together.

Scripture has a lot to say on the subject of homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” Leviticus 20:13 says, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” These two verses clearly illustrate that God does not condone the act of homosexuality, and the practice of it leads to death like any other sin. What we must understand is that any action that leads a person to spiritual separation from God, will ultimately lead to death.

When engaging with GLBT individuals, the question often comes up, “will a gay person be allowed into heaven?” This is a difficult question to navigate, because it forces a person to take a stance on this polarizing issue. But, here is where we can allow the Bible to answer. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” On the surface this verse appears to bash GLBT individuals. Yet, it really deals with all types of behavior that God does not tolerate. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned how to appropriately state the facts without emotionally and outright rejecting GLBT individuals. God does love everyone, yet we all sin. Some of us are tempted to sin, but have learned to overcome temptations and to choose not to sin. The issue that I see is that we don’t know how to accept people that are different than us, nor do we know how to separate the person from the sin.

Our prior neighbors were lesbians. They were very good neighbors, and we became good friends. They knew our views on homosexuality, yet they also felt welcome in our home. We did not allow their sexual choices to define our relationship. I see their lifestyle as no different than a friend at church who got divorced due to cheating on her husband. She is now living with this other man. She knows that I don’t condone this, and will not support the fact that she is sleeping with a person that she isn’t married to. Her choices and sin have led to a broken family. Yet, I still treat her with love and I care about her wellbeing. My family and I will continue to welcome her into our home without judging her. My hope is that she will see the love of Christ in our home and in my marriage, so that my example will eventually speak louder than anything else that I could say. In both of these cases, I haven’t lied or hidden my beliefs or views. I don’t allow my views and beliefs to dictate the way that I treat people.   I’ve made bad choices in my own life. My own sin struggles may not be sexual, but I have sin nevertheless. If we could all come into community with this mindset, we may be better able to build bridges and move forward.

 

 

[1] Marin, Andrew (2009-09-25). Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community (Kindle Locations 222-223). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

 

About the Author

Richard Volzke

11 responses to “Sexuality does not define us”

  1. Richard,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I appreciate your strength and honesty.

    This was definitely some challenging reading this week. It made me do a lot of thinking. You mentioned Marin’s book but not Thatcher’s. I am curious what your views are on that book, particularly on Chapter 9. Thatcher definitely gave some different viewpoints.

    I will re-read Marin’s book more carefully. I think he is fairly balanced and I admire his work. My favorite quote from that text was when he quoted Billy Graham. In essence, Graham said, “It’s God’s business to judge; it’s my business to love.” This is an important point.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Bill,
      I do not agree with Thatcher, but I respect his opinion. I take the same stance as Billy Graham, in that we are to love and let God judge. Too many times I have witnessed Christians judge others, because they were not where they thought they should be in their walk with Christ. Yet, we are called to love the individual, no matter what the sin.
      Richard

  2. mm John Woodward says:

    Richard, thank you very much for being honest and forthright in your understanding of this topic. It sounds like you have come to a settled place theologically. If you were to have questioned me 20 years ago, I think I would have stated my position exactly as you have. Today, as I mentioned in my post, there is now such a cacophony of conflicting voices and interpretations that I continue to struggle to really settle some place. But I do sense (and I do appreciate) your love for your neighbors and your willingness to not let life-styles and positions on issues be a block to friendship. I think you provide a refreshing approach to being solid in your conviction and loving in your attitude…a practice we don’t see enough of among Christians today. Thanks for that!

    • Richard Volzke says:

      John,
      Many people struggle with their beliefs on sexuality. In today’s social climate it is difficult to ascertain how the church should respond to homosexuality. As I stated in my post, I have settled on a stance that I “know” is not popular and has/will cause me trouble in today’s culture. I accept everyone, but I do not condone all of his or her actions or deeds.
      Richard

  3. Liz Linssen says:

    Hi Richard
    As you say, we all have sin in our lives. No one is perfect before God. Love and support is definitely the way forward. Thank you for sharing your open views.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Liz,
      Thanks for accepting and understanding my viewpoint. I understand that the church in the UK is much more open-minded on this issue, and that the government has passed laws making it a crime to speak about it from the pulpit. I have never spoken against the GLBT community; rather I just state what I believe the Bible says about the topic. It would be wrong of anybody to speak in a way that is disrespectful of individuals whether they agree with their lifestyle choices or not. We should be able to have dialog as Christians and to respect the fact that many of us have differing theological beliefs.
      Richard

  4. mm Julie Dodge says:

    Hi Richard –

    You clearly have put some significant thought into this. I appreciate your candor and how you approach people.

    You cite some of the same Scripture as both Thatcher and Maron, but you don’t address their differing interpretations. What do you think about how they address these passages? Marin also notes that the love the sinner hate the sin approach can be off putting to the LGBTQ community. Without compromising your beliefs, how do you engage in dialogue with people about this in a way that they still feel loved?

    Thank you for your thoughts and work on this.

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Julie,
      The reason I didn’t address how Thatcher and Maron interpreted the Scriptures is because that would take more time and space then we have here. We would have to review and study the original Hebrew and Greek, and we still could not get everyone to agree on the interpretations. I think authors interpret the passages based on their upbringing and theological education. When Dawnel and I built our relationship with friends in the GLBT community, we just loved and accepted them for who they are. I have never approached them with the attitude of love the person and hate the sin. That is a legalistic approach and has never worked for the church. Everyone has sin in his or her life, and I don’t identify people by what I believe their sin is. Some people don’t agree or believe in everything that I do, and may think that something that I do in life is sin. It is no different. I’m not sure why we even need to classify people as anything other than people. I don’t classify people by their race when I determine who I become friends with, and I don’t classify them by their sexual preference. I also have friends that drink alcohol and others that believe it is a sin. Many people in church consider drinking a sin and still make friends and accept people who drink.
      Richard

      • mm Julie Dodge says:

        Richard –

        This is, I believe, the most beautiful post/response I have seen you write. I see your heart. And you are oh so thoughtful. Thank you. And you are right about the scripture interpretation – it’s so, so hard. I do not read in the the original languages of Scripture, and so I must rely on the interpretations of others, and I find that usually biased, one way or another. Which saddens me because it leaves me to have to rely on the practice piece of loving as Jesus would, and an inadequate response to people in the deeper discourse of Scripture. Thank you Richard.

  5. Michael Badriaki says:

    Richard, I enjoyed reading your post. At times it seems that the conversation about sexuality is louder now than ever before in history. As I study the history of sexuality, it seems to me that the topic of sexuality is one of the major themes faith communities have needed to discuss over the centuries and will still discuss in the years ahead.
    I believe that many people have a position and stand on most matters of life, sexuality included and yet as you mentioned we “… struggle …” the conversation about sexuality. Your write, “On the surface this verse appears to bash GLBT individuals. Yet, it really deals with all types of behavior that God does not tolerate. Unfortunately, we haven’t learned how to appropriately state the facts without emotionally and outright rejecting GLBT individuals. God does love everyone, yet we all sin. Some of us are tempted to sin, but have learned to overcome temptations and to choose not to sin.”

    I agree that we all need to keep learning how to speak and act in truth and love.

    Thank Richard!

    • Richard Volzke says:

      Michael,
      Thanks for the reply. You are right that it does seem the conversation about sexuality is more on the forefront now, than in any other time in human history. But, looking at scripture we find that it has been a hot topic since the fall of Adam and Eve. There are well over a 100 (I stopped counting when I reached 100) verses that talk about sex in some form. I have to wonder if we our talking about sex more, or is it that with the Internet and other media has made it seem that way.
      Richard

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