Charismatic pastor Jim Swilley’s announcement that he is gay
opened the door wider for a subtle delusion. Don’t believe it.
Many people were shell-shocked last week when Atlanta pastor
Jim Swilley stood in front of his congregation, Church in the Now in
Conyers, Ga., and announced that he is gay. The 52-year-old
minister was abruptly removed from his position in the International
Communion of Charismatic Churches—a network in which he
served as an overseer. Some of Swilley’s members left his church,
others stayed, and countless others are now scratching their heads.
We Americans are lost in a moral fog. Two major Protestant
denominations (the Episcopal Church USA and the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America) have voted to ordain gay clergy.
Meanwhile, gayness is celebrated in our media, and anyone who
refuses to bow to this idol is painted as intolerant and homophobic.
Christians who still believe homosexuality is incompatible with
biblical faith feel painted into a corner. If we defend Christian
morality, and even if we speak with compassion to those who may
struggle with same-sex attraction, we are accused of hate speech
or branded as judgmental. So we tiptoe through the minefield of
political correctness—and keep our mouths shut.
Sorry, but timidity on this issue is not acceptable. The sins we
avoid addressing from the pulpit are the sins that will thrive
unchallenged in our culture. We must develop some backbone
and speak the truth in love. Here are four truths that should factor
into any discussion on this topic:
1. Everyone is born with issues. King David wrote: “Behold, I was
brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me”
(Psalm 51:5, NASB). David acknowledged that he had an inborn
sin nature. This is true for all of us!
Many “gay Christian” advocates insist that some people are born
homosexuals and therefore they have no hope of altering their
orientation. But this is a lame argument since we all are born with
a propensity toward certain sins. This is the human condition: “For
all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Just
because you are born with an inclination toward adultery,
alcoholism, shoplifting or pride doesn’t mean you have to stay that way.
2. Christ offers forgiveness and sexual healing. The more strident
voices in the gay community hate when Christians speak about
homosexuals being healed or reformed. They insist that if you are
gay, you must stay that way. They choose to ignore the fact that
thousands of people have left homosexuality after coming to faith in Christ.
My friend Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, came
out of the gay lifestyle many years ago and now has a great
marriage with his wife, Leslie, plus two beautiful children. The
ministry he leads has helped countless people—including many
Christian “strugglers”—find emotional freedom. Some of them
experienced same-sex feelings from childhood; others developed
these feelings because they were sexually molested or because
of dysfunction in their families.
Whatever the cause of sexual brokenness, the gospel has always
provided the solution. It was true for people in the Corinthian
church, to whom Paul wrote: “Do not be deceived; neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor
homosexuals … will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some
of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you
were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit
of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11, emphasis added).
3. Discipleship requires self-denial. In his announcement to his
church last week, Jim Swilley said he decided to come out as gay
because he was tired of pretending. I’ve talked with others who
told me they felt they were being “dishonest” by ignoring their gay
feelings. They said they felt free when they accepted “who they
really are” and got involved in gay relationships.
For a Christian, that’s a cop out. The essence of our walk with
Christ involves denial. Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to come after
Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me”
(Matt. 16:24). Jesus was not asking us to pretend we don’t have
problems—He calls us to bring all of those problems into His light
through repentance. But the Holy Spirit gives us the power to
deny sinful desires. That quality of self-control is a fruit of the
Spirit (see Gal. 6:22-23).
4. Homosexuality is not a protected category of sin. Many “gay
Christian” advocates insist that if you are gay, then it’s fine to go
out and have all the sex you want. They ignore biblical
commandments against homosexuality (usually by saying that
Old Testament law doesn’t apply today); meanwhile they advocate
gay marriage even though most gay men are rarely monogamous.
The message is clear: If you have same-sex desires, just go
ahead and indulge because that’s how you were created.
This is what the Bible calls licentiousness—which means “lacking
legal or moral restraints, especially sexual restraints; disregarding
rules.” Actually, the Bible lumps homosexuality in with every other
form of sexual sin—and says God will punish those who engage in
Regardless of how loudly the world trumpets its hedonistic agenda—
and no matter how many backslidden preachers dance to the tune—
God has the final say on this matter.