SUNDAY: Bible Study - 9:00 AM | Worship - 10:00 AM | PM Worship - 6:00 PM | WEDNESDAY: Bible Class - 7:30 PM | 8110 Signal Hill Road Manassas, Virginia | 703.368.2622
We know what brothers and sisters are in our own families but what do we know about God’s family. I asked my Mother just a few months before her death: why do you think God has looked after you all these years? She simply said – “I’m his child.” In other words she was saying I’m a member of God’s family; a member of the household of faith, which is the church, what else would he do. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:15: “if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” We can trace the roots of this household of faith all the way back to the beginning of human history. When God gave the first gospel sermon in Genesis 3:15 he said in part: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” Two families are marked-out in this passage: the Lord’s family and the devil’s family. Both families will produce offspring; both families will be at odds with each other; both families will receive a just reward at the end of time – one will receive death, the wages of sin; the other will receive the gift of eternal life.
From the time of the fall of man onward we see the distinction between the two families. In Genesis 6:5: “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” God chose to destroy what he had created with a flood. Noah, on the other hand is presented as blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. The Enmity between the seed of the woman and Satin continued, even after the flood. When will this enmity cease? When will the promised seed of the woman come into the world to unite his family and make their faith real? Consider Abraham! It is the presentation of this man as the patriarchal head of the family of believers that we begin to learn what it means to be a member of the household of faith and how God will bring all believers into this household. The key promise given to Abraham is summed up in Galatians 3:6-9: “Consider Abraham: “He believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. Understand then that those who believe are children of Abraham [and thus are members of the household of faith]. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham the man of faith.”
Paul quotes David in Romans 4:8 when speaking of those whom God credits righteousness apart from works of law – that is apart from perfect obedience to law, which all law covenants require – when he says: “Blessed are they [like Abraham ] whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins the Lord will never count against him.” In verse 11 of that same chapter Paul states: “So then, he [Abraham] is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.” Who is Paul talking about here? He is talking about those who have a faith like Abrahams, those who seek to know the will of God and then do it. See Hebrews 6:13-20: “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged.” What hope have we fled to take hold of? The hope that Christ really did buy us off from the curse of the law and that God really will count our faith as righteousness. After all, he promised didn’t he?
When It Happens…
We have a sister congregation somewhere west of the Mississippi that is, in many ways like us. They are slightly smaller than we are, about as diverse. They have been around about as long as we have. They take the Bible just as seriously as we do. They have a similar “feel” – they feel like a family. At this congregation, men and women who are gay feel secure to come and ask for the prayers and support of the congregation to help them lead obedient lives.
This has never happened here.
In my 25 years at Manassas folks have come forward to confess just about everything, and ask for prayers. We have always loved and supported each other through challenges and temptations. But no gay man or lesbian woman has ever come asking for our prayers and support. Why? Is it because none of our members have ever been gay? We know this isn’t true. Is it because gay members assume they will not receive the support and prayers 0f the congregation in their struggle – at least not from everyone? Yes, I believe that is exactly the reason.
Is this assumption correct? I hope not. Christians speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4.15), with gentleness and reverence (I Peter 3.15), and willingly bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6.2).
Let me be clear, because the Bible is clear. It is wrong for one person to have sex with a person of the same gender (Leviticus 18.22, 20.13; Romans 1.27, I Corinthians 6.9, I Timothy 1.10). But scripture does not teach that we should be hateful about this. As a teen, in Sunday school, I was taught that “homosexuals are an abomination,” that “all gay men have the potential to act like the men of Sodom”, and that “being gay is as bad as committing bestiality or murdering your parents.” I have heard similar things spoken here over the years – sometimes in Bible class. These statements are wrong. They contradict what we know from life. They contradict what we know from the Bible. They certainly discourage any gay man or lesbian woman from asking for our prayers.
The verses mentioned above are often used as evidence that derision for homosexuals is God-sanctioned. Yet when one reads those passages, one finds that the same lists include the covetous (I Corinthians 6.10), liars (I Timothy 1.10), heterosexual adulterers (Leviticus 18.22, 20.10), and sinners in general (I Timothy 1.9). No one ever taught us that coveting was equivalent to bestiality or murdering one’s parents. The men of Sodom were rapists. Many certainly had wives and families. Almost all men who rape other men or molest boys identify as straight. It is Biblically, and factually wrong to associate the men of Sodom with all gay men.
The list in I Corinthians 6.9-11 is important because it says gay men have become Christians. And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God (verse 11). Paul reached gay men at Corinth with the Gospel of Jesus. Was this evangelistic success accomplished by derision and hatefulness or with friendship and respect? We know the answer to that question.
Whenever it happens that a brother or sister comes and says, “I am gay, and I want to lead an obedient life. I need the prayers and support of my church family to face this challenge,” we will surround this person with love, prayers, and encouragement. If we don’t, we will be the sinners.