I ended my last post by saying that I get, totally, how someone might come to the conclusion that homosexuality is wrong based upon the creation stories and Romans 1. I also noted in my last post that those other scriptures that some rely upon to make a case against homosexuality are tricky and are hardly worth using to back an anti-homosexuality argument.
So how in the world do I get to a place where I think homosexuals should be welcomed and affirmed, as they are, in church and in the Christian community at large? Acts 15. That’s how. Let me sum it up for you.
Peter, Paul, Barnabas and others shared the good news of Jesus Christ with gentiles. (Gentiles are anyone who aren’t Jews.) They (Peter, Paul…) were shocked when the gentiles received the good news of Jesus Christ and were even more shocked to see the Holy Spirit work through them. But there it was, gentiles were believers! Well, word got back to the “powers” in Jerusalem and they weren’t happy. Why? Because scripture said that to be included in God’s kingdom, these gentiles had to radically transform themselves from being gentiles to being law abiding Jews. There had to be a total change of self. It wasn’t enough, according to scripture, to just declare belief. There had to be circumcision, adherence to sabbath laws, etc… So the powers in Jerusalem called in the rogue disciples of Peter, Paul and Barnabas and said, “what gives? These so called believers aren’t following the law!”
The powers had scripture on their side! The same scripture that time and again Jesus declared was good! In this Jerusalem council, the powers were throwing around scripture. Once they were done, the council turned to Peter, Paul and Barnabas to hear their side of the story. You know what they had? Nothing but stories. They just simply reported what they experienced; what they saw. It was as if they were saying, “Look, I know that you have scripture on your side and we adhere to the laws just as you do but you should see the work of God in these gentiles!”
And you know what won that day? Story. Story trumped scripture.
So when I think of homosexuality, I think of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. I hear the opposition saying, “we’ve got scripture on our side! It’s so clear what needs to happen. God loves homosexuals but they need to radically change their behaviors if they want to be considered God’s. They need to abstain from their unnatural desires and follow the rules! In short, they need a total change of self!” And then I hear the chorus of ministers like myself who time and again have seen God’s work and the movement of the Holy Spirit in homosexuals. Along with Peter, I say to you, the council, “And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”