Dr. John E. Johnson

Dr. John E. Johnson

Whose Courage to Come Out?

For some time, I have chosen to not engage in the homosexual debate on my blog. Not because I have no opinion, nor because I don’t care, nor because I am afraid of being labeled. My views are probably predictable anyway, given I am an evangelical pastor. But, to use Gladwell’s words, there comes a tipping point, and for me, it was this week, with Jason Collin’s announcement that he is gay. It wasn’t his announcement that pushed me to the edge (he isn’t an NBA player I have necessarily followed). It wasn’t even the media’s rush to make it their headline, praising his courage to speak out (even though there are so many other far more reaching issues that deserve headlines, e.g. the trial of Kermit Gosnell, the doctor who has murdered numerous babies, some born alive. Ironic this has been shoved to the back of the news). Nor was it the President’s decision to call and affirm Collin’s boldness (is this what it takes to get a call from the White House?). It wasn’t even ESPN’s decision to apologize for sports analyst Chris Broussard’s opinion that Collin’s lifestyle is wrong (nice to see someone take a stand that goes against the grain—see “A Sportscaster Comes Out as a Christian”, Neumayr).

It was the combination of all of the above that moved me to write today (along with a sustained silence by so many others who seem to accept that this is all okay). How did we get to a place in culture where one’s sexual behavior has become an issue of civil rights? That one who is openly gay gets national, even presidential attention and commendation? How is it we have decided that anyone who is not politically correct, who has a dissenting voice, is no longer worth listening to? What has happened to critical thinking? We have either forgotten or chosen to ignore some things.

First, behind our decisions there is some authoritative voice that drives them. Is it ourselves? Is it God? Does the Word of God have any role? If one is inclined to place his/her life under Scripture, here are some inescapable conclusions that seem to be disregarded, or conveniently explained away by some:

While the Bible gives little discussion to homosexual behavior, in the few passages where it is mentioned, Scripture is unambiguous and univocal in its condemnation of homosexual conduct

    the holiness code of Leviticus explicitly prohibits male sexual intercourse (18:22; 20:13). Not that this settles the question, for the code also condemns certain dietary practices

      in certain NT lists of behaviors that are described as contrary to the moral will of God, reprehensible to God, homosexual acts are included (I Cor 6:9-11; I Tim 1:10)

        Rom 1:18-32 describes the human condition in a fallen world, listing homosexuality as one of the consequences of God’s judgment for dishonoring God.

        Scripture is unambiguous and univocal in its definition of marriage. From Genesis to Revelation, marriage is described as a covenant between a man and a woman. Marriage was designed and ordained by the Creator, not the Constitution. Sexual desires find their rightful fulfillment only in a heterosexual context, and only after a man and a woman have entered into a life-long covenant  (Gen 2:22;  Mark 10:2-9; I Thess 4:3-8; I Cor 7:1-9; Eph 5:21-33; Hebrews 13:4). There is no account of homosexual marriage, let alone homosexual Christians, or same sex lovers in the Bible.

        From the standpoint of Scripture, sexual conduct is not a private matter between consenting adults. Whatever we do affects the body of Christ. Hence, God calls us to glorify Him with our bodies (I Cor 6:15-20). Sexual misbehavior, either heterosexual or homosexual, dishonors God and His design for creation, and impacts the lives of others.

        Scripture also affirms the civil rights of everyone. For the believer, the gay issue is not about civil rights. We are all made in the image of God; we all have dignity; we all have rights. This should never be questioned. But this does not mean we have the right to redefine marriage, or redefine what is sexually appropriate.

        Second, if one is not inclined to follow the authority of Scripture, then one has placed himself/herself as the ultimate authority for belief and practice. And when this happens, who is to say any sexual practice, or any definition of marriage is right or wrong?  Who chooses the guidelines? Who determines the boundaries of diversity? Is it a matter of majority rules?  Does the church have any say? When the state determines the values of a culture, at the expense of the church, society is on a perilous course.

        Third, to agree with the above statements does not mean one is necessarily homophobic nor hateful, nor hopelessly behind the times. It’s easy for those who disagree to dismiss this point of view in this way, but it lacks credibility. Speaking for myself, and most Christians I know, there is no fear of people who are openly gay or supportive of gay rights. It is actually offensive to say that there is fear, for this suggests we have no courage.  Nor is there hate. I would never discourage a gay person from attending our church. I would never withhold the same grace God has shown to me for my own failures. Nor do I see homosexuality as some unpardonable sin. I wish to have no alignment with people who are condemning and hateful of others because of their sexual orientation. I am also not interested in trying to be contemporary, current, relevant, at the expense of my faith. I am far more comfortable with what was written in 970 BC or 95 AD than I am with much of what is written in 2013.

        • Tom
          4:23 PM, 2 May 2013

          Amen and Amen Pastor. I have felt for sometime that we as “Believers” should speak out as other speak in defense of these subjects. I was appaled at the Oregonian’s front page coverage of this homosexual athlete. I’m going to ask for equal time. The headline tomorrow should say:I’m an ex college basketball guard, Caucasian, 67 and heterosexual.” I don’t need to bring attention to MY sexual preference or create a parade to “show off” my “birth defect” as I was born without a 4th Lumbar vertebrae. Look at this homosexual world. The human race is being “thinned” out because robust young people are being recruited by older gay people—mostly 20 years difference. We as believers need to speak out what is right in God’s eyes. I won’t get in a fist fight as I know God will deal with them in HIS time. Don’t get me started on same-sex marriage. We have people reinventing what has been defined for the ages. What’s next? We can marry our pets? Everyone does not want to offend others so they are caught up in the media by agreeing to save face or keep votes. Enough said. See you tonight…

        • Deborah Hays
          8:32 AM, 3 May 2013

          Your blog was so refreshing to read this morning. I stand confused and frustrated as to how many have chosen to remain silent, not only on this issue but on so many others. I fear that there are more who have chosen to be lulled into the deep sleep of ignorance rather than to be sharpened by the sword of God’s Word. As I have stated in other comments that I have left, may God forgive us. I don’t fear the world or the atrocities being done in this country, as much as I fear God and His promised judgements on nations that choose to embrace those things that He abhors. Thanks for speaking out.

        • Larry G
          2:38 PM, 5 May 2013

          John, Thanks for your post. I heard on sports radio shows that there’s only three reasons someone wouldn’t affirm the athlete’s coming out: 1. Hatred; 2. Fear; 3. Ignorance. No room for conviction that we are created by a loving God who has a design for life, and that distorting it is hurtful to us – let alone disobedient. We are being intimidated, shamed into the “spiral of silence.” Grudem’s article on homosexuality in the ESV study bible is outstanding summary of the Bible’s teaching on this. Thanks again John.

        • Bob Gill
          10:30 PM, 5 May 2013

          Bravo John,Thank you for defending the Christian view that so many avoid because it isn’t politically correct for the day.
          I refer you to Dr. Ben Carson, a black Pediatric Neuro Surgeon who spoke out President’s Prayer Breakfaast on political correctness.
          Google him at the prayer breakfast to hear his message.
          I would vote for him if he ran for president.
          The country would be better off if your blog went viral like his did.
          Thanks again,

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