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How Can Christians Be an Effective Witness on Issues of Same-Sex Sexuality?

This week the blog is sponsored by The Good Book Company. This article is an excerpt from the new, updated, and expanded edition of Is God Anti-Gay? by Sam Allberry. This sensitive exploration of the Bible’s teaching on sexuality has been written to help both Christians and non-Christians struggling with the Bible’s teaching on this issue, whether they experience same-sex attraction themselves or not. Learn more about Sam’s book here.

Western culture has become dramatically more approving of same-sex relationships. In the space of just a decade or two, same-sex marriage, for example, has gone from being something that most people disapproved of (albeit mostly quietly) to something of which acceptance is seen as a litmus test for whether you are a morally good person.

Quality & Clarity

Key to our witness and credibility on this (or any) issue is the quality of our life together and the clarity of our message. We need to be clear on the gospel—clear that it is good news for everyone and that no one is too far gone to enjoy it or too complete to need it. We need to be clear not just that we are all sinners but that we are all sexual sinners. This is the point Jesus makes in Matthew 5 v 27-28:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The claim here, as we’ve seen, is that we all have hearts that are naturally adulterous— that turn other people’s sexuality into something to be regarded lustfully. None of us are coming at this from any position of superiority. With that gospel clarity needs to come relational credibility. The New Testament often connects the effectiveness of our witness with the genuineness of our love for one another. Jesus once said:

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13 v 35

Paul describes the church in the following way:

“God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.”

1 Timothy 3 v 15

A Strategy of Family

The church is the “pillar … of the truth” because it is the outlet of God’s truth into the world. It is God’s means of bringing his truth to all people. But it is also God’s family—his “household.” And for the church to be an effective pillar, it needs to be an effective family. The local gathering of God’s people is to embody the gospel in its own life. It is the church being church in all its biblical fullness that will most commend God’s ways to wider society. Jesus’ command that his followers “love one another” was not just an afterthought. It is a key part of his strategy to win a watching world.

Jesus promised that those with things to leave behind and give up for him will receive a hundredfold in return:

“ ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions— and in the age to come eternal life.’”

Mark 10 v 29-30

Jesus is Always Worth It

The gospel can be relationally costly. But it is also relationally generous. What we leave behind does not compare with what we receive back from Jesus. It is hard to miss the fact that Jesus is talking about family— close family. He doesn’t promise distant cousins and great-uncles, but brothers and mothers and children. All that we have we are to share with one another: time, resources, affection—in other words, ourselves. This, it turns out, is going to be the demonstration, in this life, that Jesus is always worth it. It will be the quality of our community life as church, as much as our ability to speak clearly into the public square, that will most visibly show a watching world that the Christian stance on sexuality is compelling.

Jesus’ words give us all something to do. We might not have the best celebrities, the most talented spokespeople, the most impressive resources, or the most acclaimed thinkers, but in the church we should have the most wonderful and attractive relationships.


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