The last few blogs have discussed how to surround the LGBTQ+ conversation and community with truth and grace based on what the Bible teaches. I talked about the unique impact on adolescents (11-26 years) and how we can respond. In this blog, I want to get to the heart of the matter as it not only relates to this unique community, but to all of us.
The Bible starts with this phrase, “In the beginning, God.” There it is. We start with God and what God thinks. He is the all-powerful creator and sustainer of all things. He is separate from his creation. The best we can come up with about God are the characteristics and actions we find in the Scriptures as well as a living and breathing personal relationship with him. He created time, light, water, vegetation, animals, stars, mountains, angels, and the grand crescendo, he created human beings made in His image. You and I are made by God. This planet where we live is not all a product of chance. We, and everything else, was created with an overwhelming amount of love from a personal God. God loves you.
WHY DID GOD CREATE YOU?
Don’t miss this. For His glory. Not ours. His glory.
We were not made for us. Read that again. The end game of life is not you. We were made by him, for him and for his purposes. You are not your own. We were made to worship God, not just in songs during a church service, but with every area of our lives including our sexuality.
If we miss the point of worship, we miss everything else in life.
All this creation was good and got very good when he created people…two people…named Adam and Eve. A man and a woman made with different biological makeup in the image of God with the capacity for feelings, emotions, desires, dreams, thinking and more. Before the events of Genesis Chapter 3, all of these God-given capacities were completely lined up with giving God glory. Adam and Eve understood. Adam and Eve got it. They had unbroken relationship with God giving him worship with their lives-every area of their lives. Imagine it was completely pure and holy.
And then it happened.
God told the only two human beings (a biological man and woman) not to do something. He said not to eat from a tree. THE TREE. There was only one like this one. It was the “Tree of Good and Evil.” If they eat the fruit off of this tree, they would be like God in the sense that they would know “good and evil.” Notice they could look at the tree, climb on the tree, walk around the tree, but they could not “taste” the fruit from the tree.
But they did.
They sinned against the all-powerful creator God of the universe. He told them not to eat from it and they did. As a result, everything, yes everything, was messed up. The universe was spiritually, emotionally, and physically depraved in all sorts of ways including sexuality. Adam and Eve were told they would die if they ate of the tree and indeed, they died in regard to their relationship with God. Life just got much more difficult. As a result, after eating the forbidden fruit, their appetites were opened up to other sinful behaviors against God.
The rest of the Old Testament is this struggle for all human beings to grow closer to God by giving him glory. The struggle is over whether to worship the Creation or the Creator. Human beings are part of the creation. God is the only one worthy of our worship, but we struggle in all sorts of ways including our sexuality. We worship ourselves and our ever-changing feelings more than God.
UNDERSTANDING GOD’S WRATH
In the New Testament, Paul shares at the beginning of a deep theological letter all about worshipping the one True God. As a result of the fall of mankind into sin against God in Genesis 3, people have been acting out their separation from God and sinful behaviors in all sorts of depraved ways. Here are a few excerpts from what Paul says in Romans chapters 1 and 2 about people giving into sin and not to worshipping God. I briefly shared Romans 1-2 in an earlier blog but let me share the details and progression of thought from Paul.
“18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” | Romans 1:18-20
This sounds extreme and it is. God’s wrath is serious. God hates that we worship anything but him. This sinfulness in man causes his real wrath to come against people. He is entitled. He is God and wants us to freely worship him, but we struggle.
“21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” | Romans 1:21-23
People worshipped idols or created things instead of God. It is still happening today. People who do not worship God are by default worshipping God’s creation and this makes God angry. Like a Father cares and longs for his child’s love, so God wants all the love and worship directed back to him and him alone. After all, He is the Creator and Sustainer God. He is worthy of it all.
“24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” | Romans 1:24-27
As a result of man not worshipping God completely, God says something like, “Okay. I love you, but if that is what you want to do, I will allow you to do it even though it hurts my heart deeply that you choose the creation over me.” So, God “gave them over” to all sorts of depravity of sin including LGBTQ+ behavior-men with men and women with women. God promises that when people do not worship him and him alone that one day “they will receive in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” That day will come if we don’t turn back to God. We all struggle with all sorts of temptations, but with God’s help we can say no to the temptation turning into the sin. It should break our hearts to see our own sin and the sin of others against God.
“28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” | Romans 1:28-32
People were allowed to pursue their sinfulness against God which starts in the “mind.” All sorts of perversions and depravity happened, not just LGBTQ+ related sexuality. They were wicked, evil, greedy, murders, creating strife, deceitful and malicious. They gossiped, slandered, hated God, prideful and the like. All of these characteristics are in people who are not fully giving glory to God in full worship. Homosexuality is one of many areas that cuts off worship to God.
The God who created every human being is calling for every human being to turn from their depravity and return to a right relationship with God. We can all remain “stubborn and unrepentant” (Romans 2:5) and we can wait for God’s anger, wrath, and judgement. We all fall short of God’s perfect standard, that is why we all need God.
GOD’S HEART FOR YOU
How can a loving God not just let us worship His creation, live in sin, be whoever we feel like being or identity how we like? Because he wants us for his own. He wants to get back in right relationship with humans like he had with Adam and Eve in the garden before they sinned (Genesis 2). He wants us to show our love to him by obeying what He says in the Bible. He longs for everyone to believe in Jesus Christ who took all of this depravity on Himself and died on a Roman cross for our sins so we could be back in right relationship with God. This is the only answer to missing worship (John 3:16, 14:6). After we come to know Jesus as our Savior, God longs for us to continue in consistency maturing while living for him.
This is all much bigger than one sin: homosexuality. This is about all sinful behavior which cuts us off from relationship with God and pure worship to him.
Paul continues in Romans by saying we should all offer our bodies as “living sacrifices…as our spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1-2). It is interesting to me that it is our bodies that we give over to lusts of all kinds including perversion of sexual behavior. It always starts in our minds which drives our feelings. Therefore, our thinking needs to be in line with God’s desires found in the Bible. This is a struggle for all of us, but God promises he is with us as we strive to worship him in this lifetime.
I hope this series of blogs has been helpful to start and continue a conversation. I encourage you to stay in the messy middle of truth and grace which equals biblical love.
If you missed a blog, be sure to go back and read for full context.
Questions to Contemplate
1. What surprised you about Romans 1-2?
2. Why do you think God wants us to worship him completely?
3. We all struggle with temptations to sin against God. It could be LGBTQ+ related issues or many others. What will you do today to starve the sources of temptation so you don’t fall into sin?
4. Who can walk alongside you providing support as you live for Jesus?
5. Do you know Jesus? Have you trusted him as your Savior? I would love to have a conversation with you if you desire to know Jesus.
REFERENCES + RESOURCES
✍️ Credit :: Jeff Baxter
Next Gen Pastor
🎨 Credit :: Matt Rhodes
Creative Associate Director