4 - Options

God-Honoring Obedience

Throughout this course, we have waded into the deep end on the topics of sexuality and gender. In the first three sessions, we looked at ways to better engage in conversations with those pursuing unbiblical sexuality. In addition, we considered some nuances to help us grow in empathy and compassion towards those who experience life in a different manner than we do. In this final session, we will survey the God-honoring options available to men and women who identify as gay yet desire to follow Christ in obedience.

Like all sexual sin, homosexuality represents another form of human brokenness. While the temptation itself is not sinful, the ways in which a person chooses to respond to that temptation may become sinful. So what does it look like for a gay person to honor God with his or her life? Bruce offered four options to consider:
  1. Transformation
  2. Celibacy
  3. Heterosexual Marriage
  4. Covenant Partnership
Those struggling with same-sex attraction are not without hope. Each of these serves as a lifestyle option reflecting a commitment to honoring God in obedience.

Did any of the listed options stand out to you more than the others? If so, which one? What about it struck you? How did it cause you to think differently?
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What are the options you have advocated as a pastor to those struggling with same-sex attraction? In light of this material, has your thinking changed at all? If so, how?
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Of the four, Bruce singled out covenant partnerships as the option most neglected by churches today. For a variety of reasons, we have downplayed the significance of friendship despite the fact that doing so departs from a rich history in the church of celebrating this form of relationship. How did you react to the story about Terry and Bob? How would your church respond to a similar situation? Would they have a positive reaction? If not, what are the reasons for that?
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How could you begin encouraging lifelong friendships within your church, like those Bruce described? What are some practical steps you could begin to take to bring about this change in your own context? What benefit do you think it might bring to the congregation?
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For those struggling with same-sex attraction, God-honoring options exist. Within our sexualized society, they will undoubtedly rub against the values of culture But every sacrifice made in faith will result in greater intimacy with Christ, both in this life and that to come (Mark 10:29-30). That said, churches everywhere need grow in their views of these options, especially that of celibacy. 

Bruce said, "Celibacy is not just an option for a rare few people and usually gifted by God. Rather, it is a wonderful choice for many people between the resurrection and the return of Jesus Christ." Choosing celibacy does not mean resorting to a life of loneliness. We know this because Jesus did not miss out on the goodness of life by forgoing sexuality.

Bruce expressed concern that churches today have too narrow a view of celibacy. Instead of being a gift for a few, he shared his belief that it is an option of equal value to marriage in terms of a God-honoring lifestyle. How have you viewed celibacy up to this point? In light of what you've heard, would you say your view is too narrow? If so, why? What needs to change?
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Since sex will not be a part of our eternal state with Christ, single people are living into that destiny today. Not everyone is called to marriage, and remaining single provides undistracted devotion to God. What opportunities are available to singles for participation in the life of your church? What kinds of unique benefits could they bring to ministry that married individuals cannot? Are there changes you could make to more fully invite singles into the ministry of your church?
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With the emphasis so many churches place on family life today, singles often feel neglected as a result. What could you do to intentionally encourage the singles in your church this week? Thinking more long-term, how could you use your pastoral influence to cast the vision of celibacy as a God-honoring lifestyle just like that of marriage?
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In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (16:24). Whether or not we struggle with same-sex attraction, every Christian is called to a life of denial. Doing so does not lead to an absence of joy, but the fullness of it. 

Christians everywhere need a message richer than mere ethics, one enriched by the redemptive story of God spoken throughout history. As you encounter those struggling with their sexuality and gender, let your leadership emulate the grace and truth of Christ. Sex is not the essential ingredient to a good life. In Christ, we are made new so that we cling not to the fleeting desires of this life, but to the hope of our resurrection to new life with Him.

These videos were from Leadership Network's The Nines Conference 2014. For more information about Leadership Network, or to attend their next event, click here