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Handed Over By God: Sexual Perversion As Judgment (Romans Sermon 7 of 120)

Handed Over By God: Sexual Perversion As Judgment (Romans Sermon 7 of 120)

February 20, 2000 | Andy Davis
Romans 1:24-28
Idolatry, Sexual Immorality, Judgment

I. Review: The First Dark Exchange – The Glory of God for Created Things

Take your Bibles, if you would, and open to Romans chapter 1. That was tremendous worship, and I can't tell you how excited I'm going to be to see that day when every tribe, and language, and people, and nation, are gathered before the throne. And it's this gospel, the gospel recorded in the Book of Romans that's going to accomplish that. Because those nations are in darkness. They're worshiping idols. They're living lives apart from God. And what is it that transforms people from that life to giving glory, and honor, and praise to Jesus Christ? It's the gospel itself. Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. For in the gospel, a righteousness from God is revealed, the righteousness that is by faith from first to last. Just as it is written, the righteous will live by faith." It is the gospel message that transforms us. It is the gospel message that changes us. It is the gospel message that is the power of God for salvation, as we have been seeing. 

Now, last week, we looked at verses 18-23. And the connection with what the verses that I just gave you, namely, that the gospel is the power of God for salvation, and that there is a righteousness from God held out, a righteousness which will cloak us and cover all of our sins on judgment day. The connection between that and the next verses is that we need that righteousness. We need a covering for our sin. We need the grace of God, which is available only in Jesus Christ. And so, from about verse 18 in chapter one, up through the middle of chapter three, the apostle Paul is laboring to show us why we needed this gospel message, why we need a savior. What is our natural state? The tragedy of sin is that we are not able to assess properly our natural state. When we are in sin, we don't know just what danger we are in, under what wrath and judgment we're under, and what the circumstances are. Only by the preaching of the word, only by the message of the gospel, can the light go on, can we understand our danger and flee to Christ. And so Paul begins in verse 18 by talking about the wrath of God, as we talked about last week. The wrath of God is God's passionate response to unrighteousness. His passionate response to evil. I said last week, our God is a passionate God. He is a passionate God.

And he responds passionately, in wrath, to evil. But the central evil, the central problem of the human race, which we talked about last week, is found in verse 21-23. It says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools." And here it is in verse 23, "They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." That exchange, what I called last week "the first dark exchange", the exchange of the glory of God for something else, something lesser, something created, is the root of all the sin that we see in the world. Everything. It's the fountain of it all.

Now, today, we're going to be looking at what progresses from that point. After that exchange is made, something happened. And God did something, and we have responded a certain way, and we need to understand what that is. Listen now to these verses, 24-28. "Therefore," because of that exchange, the exchange of the glory of the immortal God for images, because of that exchange, "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things more than the Creator, who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done." 

Now, this topic is a relevant topic, isn't it? You're going to find this issue, the issue of homosexuality, a commonly discussed issue in our culture today. I'll give you some examples. Recently, John Rocker, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, got into incredible hot water over some foolish statements that he made about all different kinds and categories of people. One of the things he talked about was, do you want to sit next to homosexual people that have AIDS? And our society has responded vigorously to his foolish statements. A second example is the Supreme Court dealing with James Dale. He was a boy scout assistant scoutmaster. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts had no right to evict homosexuals from leadership. A little bit closer to home here in the Triangle region. In December, at Springs of Hope Church, Tim Wilkins presented a strong biblical appeal to homosexuals, that through Jesus Christ there was power to leave that lifestyle and come into faith in Christ. And he received incredible criticism in the newspaper. There were all kinds of letters written back and forth, in letters to the editor just here in the local newspaper.

On television these days, especially in situation comedies, half-hour shows, steady stream of propaganda these days. Starting, I think, back with Ellen a number of years ago and on to the present time. And I think that the goal of all of it is not just a matter of tolerance, but an embracing of homosexuality as a gift from God. A gift from God. President Clinton, in the wake of a terrible killing... Matthew Shepard, who was a gay student. He was killed by some people out in Laramie in 1998. Has championed the Hate Crimes Prevention Act in Congress, that primarily focuses on crimes against homosexuals, making them a federal offense in a different category than other violent crimes. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Now I would contend that the people who committed that crime had done the very same thing that Matthew Shepard did. Namely, they exchanged the glory of God for something else, and out of that came their murder. But out of that also comes the homosexuality that characterized Matthew Shepard's life.

And then six, the Supreme Court is also dealing with many cases, at this point kind of grouped together, related to same-sex marriages, taxation issues, tax benefits given to married couples, adoption rules, and other things. So this is a very important issue. It's an issue that's facing the church today. And we're not going to... We're not likely to find the truth in the secular media, are we? We're not likely to hear the truth from God from them, they have a certain perspective. Now, I think, when we come to difficult issues, and this is a difficult controversial issue, when we come to one, we just need to follow what the scripture says. It's just that simple. We need to read what the scripture says, and as a church, we need to take on that attitude and those convictions, no more and no less. Where the Bible is silent, we would not do well to speculate. But where the Bible speaks, we need to have conviction, and we need to speak.

But I think we need to understand this particular issue within the context of Romans 1, 2, and 3. Because it's very easy for people who do not struggle with this sin to sit and point the finger at those who do, as though they are at somehow a different level of the needing of grace. "Well, yes, I need grace a little bit. I need a little bit of grace, but they need a lot." That's just not true. The fact of the matter is, Romans 1, 2, and 3, is written to show us how much every single one of us needs the grace of God offered to us in Jesus Christ. We're all the same. There is no one righteous, not even one. No one righteous, not even one. We all need the righteousness that is available alone through Jesus Christ. Every single one of us, equally. And so I think we need to keep in mind Romans 2:1, which we'll get to, "You, therefore, have no excuse. You who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you're condemning yourself. Because you who pass judgment do the same things." Maybe not the exact same crimes in every case or the exact same sins, but it's the same root.

The exchange of the glory of God for something else. We're all the same. So my purpose today is not to labor to convince you that homosexuality is wrong. It is wrong. But you can believe that and still lose your soul. It is possible to believe that that is wrong and lose your soul. No, I really want you to see this as a natural unfolding, in Romans, of the real problem that all of us have, of the exchange of the glory of God, and how only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ the proper center to life can be restored. And that's my point today, and that's my desire. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to seek to clear away some misconceptions about Romans 1. Satan has laid some traps for us and put some lies down about Romans 1. I want to see if I can clear some of those away. I want to construct the text for you. There's a certain structure that Paul follows here. And it's very clear, once you see it, you'll see the structure that Paul uses, and how that teaches the truth. And out of that I'm going to draw one central conclusion, a central message. And I'm going to draw some conclusions out of that central message. And finally, I'm going to give some counsel to various categories of people.

II.  Clearing Away False Concepts

But before we get into all that, I guess, I want to say what I'd like for our church. Our church should be a place that has a balance between biblical convictions on an issue like this and biblical compassion for those who are lost and needy, and a knowledge that every one of us is in need of the same grace of God. Blessed are the spiritual babes, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven, and theirs alone. And that's what I desire for our church. I would like First Baptist Church to be a place where people of all different kinds of sins can come and be healed from that. Paul talks about that in 1 Corinthians 6, "Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were when you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God." I want First Baptist to be that kind of a church, where we can be transformed by the Gospel from all sin. All right, let's begin to work to clear away some false concepts.

There are some people out there, false teachers, who are teaching that homosexuality is actually espoused and encouraged in the Scripture, and so they need to do work on a passage like this, don't they? And they do work on Romans 1. And they try to twist it, it's the very same thing I talked about last week. There is a twisting of truth going on. And the church needs to respond, we need to understand clearly. They have to work on 1 Corinthian 6 and Romans 1 in particular. And in 1 Corinthian 6, the passage I just recited to you, they say, "Well, here, it's talking about temple prostitution. And so we should not be involved in that kind of lifestyle." And then over here in Romans 1, what they're saying is that some people are created by God to be heterosexual, and some people are created by God to be homosexual. Have you heard this kind of thinking, whether from Romans 1 or not, that they're just different kinds of people? And so, what Paul is talking about here in Romans 1 is that those who are created by God to be heterosexual should not act like homosexuals. You see the twisting, the changing of the Scripture here.

And there is "support" for this, so they think, from modern research. They're looking for genetic support, that there's something called the gay gene or something. Genetic difference between individuals, and they're looking to support this. But there is some very strong textual arguments against this way of thinking. Look down at verse 27. In verse 27 it says, "In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another." Now, the Greek word is actually very strong. They're burning with passion. Now, if these are natural heterosexuals, then what is this burning? It makes no sense. It makes no sense. It's contrary to nature, and so therefore, the whole argument falls apart at that point. Also, it says in verse 26, "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lust. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones." The Greek expression here is para phusis, against nature. Well that phrase in Greek antique literature, if you look at it, para phusis, that phrase is used to talk of homosexuality per se, not some strange aspect of it, just those that have relations with their same gender. So Paul is just picking up that phrase and saying, "this is exactly what I'm talking about." Namely, homosexuality per se.

Paul is not writing about the twisting of some good gift from God to something that it should not be. He's talking about homosexuality per se. But the strongest argument against that way of understanding comes from the whole structure of the text, the whole structure of the text which we'll get to in a moment. But let's take a minute and just address this issue of genetic research and psychological testing, okay? Some psychologists say that if you're created, if you're made naturally homosexual and you repress it, you don't come out of the closet, and so you're doing damage to yourself psychologically. Along with this goes a whole bunch of genetic research to try to prove that there is such a thing as a gay gene.

Now, for a while, I guess I never really thought that a gay gene was possible, but then, I guess, recently, as I began to think, I start to wonder what difference it would make either way. What difference it would make. It could very well be that those who were given naturally to violent crimes have some kind of genetic disorder that leads them to that. But society doesn't endorse or espouse their behavior, even though there may be some differences physiologically. I really believe all sin comes from genetic tendencies, hormonal problems, and environment; ways of thinking come from all of that. It's true of every sin. So why should this one be singled out and excused, because these factors also play in here. Now, again, I don't know if that kind of research will ever be found.

In Romans 8, probably one of the main ideas to do with the physical creation, in Romans 8, it says that the creation was subjected to frustration or to futility, not by its own choice, but by the will of him who subjected it in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Now, basically, what Romans 8 is saying there is that creation is under bondage. There's a physical effect to sin. We see it around us, and we see it within us. So even if this research were successful, it would not prove anything. Genetic based aggressive tendencies may breed violent criminal attacks, but society does not condone it. Genetic based lethargic tendencies may result in laziness, but we don't embrace or condone it. Genetic based tendencies toward alcoholic excesses may be proven, but we don't embrace or condone it. And genetic based gloom and depression may even lead to suicidal tendencies, but we don't embrace it or condone it.

And concerning psychological testing, I guess what I would say is, What does more psychological damage? This kind of repression that they're talking about, or the kind I addressed last week? Namely, that the truth of God is in you. You know there's a Creator, you know that those who do such things deserve death, it says in verse 32, and yet there's a repression, a pushing down, a denial of a Creator. A denial of a standard. Now, I say, that causes psychological damage. Let's come into the truth. Let's come into God's way of thinking and understand it properly. There's freedom there. Jesus says, "Anyone who sins is a slave to sin, but if the Son makes you free, you'll be truly free."

III.  Construction of the Text:  Biblical Exposition of Romans 1:23-28

Alright, now let's look at the text itself and see if we can construct it, verses 23-28. I think what we're going to see here is a triple statement of a three-step sequence. In other words, it's the same three steps, and He just says it three times. Three steps said three times. We need the repetition so that we can understand it.

You summarize the three steps. Step one is the dark exchange. Step two, God hands us over. Step three, we act it out. Those are the three steps. We see it three times. Step one, human beings exchange the glory of God for something created, and we, therefore, prefer the creature, that which is made, to the Creator. Okay? Step two, God gives us over to what we prefer. He hands us over to the thing we want. Step three, we then act out externally and bodily in our sexual relations, a dramatization of what's happened to us spiritually. I think those are the three steps. Let's look at the first cycle, verse 23-24. It says in verse 23: "They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images." We talked about that last week. This is the dark exchange. Step one, the exchange of the glory of God for something created. Okay, what's step two? Verse 24: "Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts."

You see the giving over at that point. God gave them over. And this is evidence of the judgment of God. As an act of judgment, God says, "Go ahead, then. This is what you want? Do it." And in fact, He says, "Choose whatever swamp you want, and I'll allow you to drown in it." He gives them over to the sin. I'm reminded of Genesis 6:3, right before the flood, in the days of Noah, God said, "My spirit will not contend or wrestle with man forever. I'm not going to keep fighting your natural tendencies." And so, the direct opposite of that is, God doesn't struggle with us anymore, just gives us over to a lifestyle of sin. Now for you as children of God, if you're a child of God, if you're a Christian, God will never do this to you. Never. As a matter of fact, God will fight sin in your life tooth and nail until the day you die. He will never give you over to sin.

That's what the Holy Spirit does inside you. He causes you to hate sin, causes you to fight sin, to wrestle against it. He never gives up on that, does He? And if you decide to harden your heart and to willfully wander off into sin, you get the discipline. Hebrews 12:6 says, "God disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." He won't let you do it. But to the human race in general, given over into the very thing we prefer. And then step three, verse 24, we act it out. He gave them over for what? "To sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." So there's the first cycle. They exchange the glory of the immortal God for images, dark exchange. God hands them over, sinful desires of their heart, and it's for the sexual impurity and the degrading of their bodies with one another. Three steps. We see it again. Now in verse 25-27. Step one, verse 25: "They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things more than the Creator, who's forever praised. Amen."

The same exchange, do you see it? They exchange the truth of God, they're repressing the truth, and finally they say, they exchange it, they give it up, and they worship and serve creative things more than the Creator. So there's the dark exchange. Step two, God hands them over. Verse 26 says, "Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts." Hands them over to it. And then step three, that very exchange is acted out in physical life. Verse 26 continued: "Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way that men also abandon natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Alright, so we've had the second sequence. Third sequence in verse 28, the dark exchange. "They did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God." A little translation of this would be, "They did not approve of having the knowledge of God within themselves." They didn't want it. The knowledge of God was in there, and they rejected it. They want it out. They want to push it out. They don't approve of it. Now your mind, the mind that God gave you, can approve and disapprove.

That's what it's given for. It's got to do with loves and hates. Things you love, things you hate. You approve of something, disapprove; and that very capacity was given for the glory of God. We're supposed to approve of God. We're supposed to honor Him and worship Him and give thanks to Him. That's what the approving capacity was given for. And in that way you can glorify God in a way that the rocks, and the streams, and the fish, and the birds, and the apes can't, by the approval of the knowledge of God. But sin entered in, and now we disapprove of the knowledge of God. We don't want it in us. Isn't that tragic? The very thing that we're supposed to do with our minds, we don't do. And instead, we treat God like dirt. If you were to go through New York Times, US News and World Report, USA Today, etcetera. Just go through all that verbiage and find everything there said about God, just pull it out. The first thing you'd notice is how little there is, how little there is, and yet He created the world. We treat God like dirt, because we disapprove of the knowledge of God, push it out. And there's the dark exchange. And therefore, God hands us over. If you're going to do that with your mind, then I'll give you over to a depraved mind. I'll give you over to a mind that literally cannot approve of what is right.

Since you disapprove of me, I'll give you over to the kind of mind that cannot approve of what is right. And the mind becomes worthless at that point. And then step three, it's acted out. To do what ought not to be done. We see the same cycle again and again. We exchange the glory of God, He gives us over to sin, and we act it out physically. Glory of God is exchanged for the image of the Creator, the truth of God is exchanged for a lie, the knowledge of God exchanged for worthlessness. That's the dark exchange. Step two, God hands us over to sinful desires. God hands us over to shameful lust. God hands us over to a depraved and worthless mind. And step three, we act it out. Sexual impurity in the degrading of our bodies with one another, natural relations with opposite sex is abandoned for unnatural and perverted ones. And we do what we ought not to do. Do you see the cycle? There is no way that this scripture can be twisted to approve of this. This is clearly sin and it's clearly evidence of what happens when sin enters in. Now what is the central message of this three-fold cycle?

IV.  Central Message: The Glory of God Should Be the Central Passion of Our Lives

 The central message, brothers and sisters, is the glory of God and its proper place in your life. That's the central message. The Hebrew word for glory is kabod. It means mass or weight. It means heaviness. The weight of the glory of God like a massive sun, bright and brilliant, shining. 330,000 times heavier than the Earth is the Sun. Shining brightly, and by its gravitational pull holding in alignment all of these satellites, you see? And so it is with the glory of God and our passions. We're created passionate beings too, aren't we? We have passions, we have drives, we have desires. They're given by God. And when the glory of God is in the center of the life that wait, holding everything in its proper orbit, everything is the way it should be, including sexual love within a marriage relationship, a gift from God, a marriage bed cannot be defiled, pure and holy. But when that glory of God is removed and something, some lightweight thing, that was meant to be a satellite is put in the center, everything flies away into disorder. And we're seeing that in the newspapers. It's not just homosexuality, it's everything. The central lesson here of this threefold sequence is when you take the glory of God out, anything, any perversion, any evil will occur, and it will occur if the glory of God is not in the center of your life. 

V. Conclusions

What conclusion do we take from this? Well, first, let me point you to the cross. I've got other conclusions, but I want to go right to the cross. I have this eagerness inside my heart to go right to the solution. I want to know what the answer is, and the answer is the cross of Jesus Christ and three great reversals that are available in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen. Three great reversals. First, He takes whatever worthless thing was at the center of your life and throws it out to where it needs to be, or out entirely, and puts the glory of God back where it belongs. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, "God caused the light of the glory of the knowledge of God to shine out in the face of Christ," that becomes the center of your life. God is able to say, "Let light shine out of darkness." He's already... He made the sun. He created it. He can create the sun of His glory back in the center of your life again. The glorious exchange, now the brilliant exchange of the glory of God back where it needs to be. That's the first. 

All right, well, what is the second? Handing over, remember? We are handed over to the thing we prefer. Now guess what God hands you over to? He hands you over to doctrine. I bet you never thought that that's what you got handed over to. But listen, you ought to write this one down. Romans 6:17, "Thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed that form of teaching to which you were entrusted." Entrusted is handed over language, isn't it? If you're entrusted to somebody, it's like if I entrust my children to a caregiver, I'm saying, "Please take care of them, watch over them, nurture them while I'm gone on a date with my wife." At least get them through it physically. I'm handing them over for caretaking. And now God takes those who believe in the Gospel and hands them over to doctrine for the total transformation of their lives, not just for conversion but for salvation from start to finish.

I'll read it again, verse 17 of chapter 6, "Thanks be to God that though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed that form of teaching to which you were entrusted." You were handed over to a gospel message and it is capable of taking you from start to finish. It's capable of taking you from homosexuality to glory in Heaven. It's capable of taking you from gross idolatry to Heaven. It's capable of taking you from crass materialism or secular humanism all the way to Heaven, this form of teaching to which you were entrusted.

All right, what's the third step? Acting it out. Then we act out in our everyday life the righteousness that's been put in us. We act it out, we live it out every day, in good deeds, in acts of righteousness and dedication to Christ. Romans chapter 6 again, we surrender our bodies, the parts of our bodies in slavery to righteousness, leading to ever increasing holiness. The great reversal of the Gospel, and there is no other reversal available. No other mental or religious system will reverse the things that I've talked about today. The exchange of the glory of God, the handing over to that which we prefer, and the acting out in our physical nature of that handing over, nothing else will reverse this but the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And the beauty is, all the time we spent in that lifestyle, churning up and saving up the wrath of God, saving it up, storing it up, we'll talk about that in Romans 2, all of it washed away through the blood of Jesus Christ. Forgiven forever, clothed in the righteousness that Christ alone can provide. That's the answer.

And I want to draw a few other lesser conclusions from this. The first is that sexual disorder and homosexuality is not just that which will bring about the judgment of God. It is judgment from God. That's what this text is teaching, don't you see that? The homosexual lifestyle is not just that which will bring the judgment of God, it is itself judgment from God. People ask ministers as though we have all the answers, "Is AIDS judgment on homosexuality?" Well, the whole question has a wrong basis, in my opinion. Problem number one, not everyone with AIDS is a homosexual. There are children with AIDS. Arthur Ashe died from a blood transfusion. It's a disease like other diseases, and it hits all different categories of people. Number two, not every homosexual has AIDS. So those are two problems with that whole theory. But I want to say that AIDS is judgment from God, and so is Alzheimer's, and so is heart disease, and lung disease, and all kinds of manners of physical ailments and illness. Physical death itself is judgment from God on sin, isn't it? So, yes, AIDS is judgment, but not in the way that the question assumes.

And then I also want to talk about gender itself. You may say, if this is just a general discussion of the exchange of the glory, why does he focus on homosexuality? Why that sin? Why not murder or something else? Well, I think it's because of the special role that gender was meant to have in this world, and sexual relationship was meant to have in this world. Gender is a gift from God, we talked about this at Genesis 1:2. We're created male and female. From the start of our being, we're created with a gender. And it's a gift from God and it's glorious. It's glorious to be male, and it's glorious to be female, whatever God chooses. But there's so much gender confusion going on, and this is coming from Satan right now. All the cross dressing and the homosexual characters in the sitcoms, it's not an accident from Satan's point of view. He's trying to retrain us to think of gender as an insignificant, unweighty thing.

National Organization of Women, NOW, has an openly stated goal. And I quote: "To work for an end to all distinctions based on gender." Do you think they include sexuality in that? Oh, yes. Many of them are lesbians. They definitely include that, and that includes who can be parents, who can adopt, who should be under tax protection, the whole thing. But the root attack is on gender, that there should be no distinctions whatsoever. Well, that's not biblical. And the problem is the church is increasingly buying into this way of thinking. Let's reestablish gender the way God intended. Ephesians chapter 5, listen to this, this is amazing, "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery, but I'm talking about Christ and his church." Now that's holy ground, folks. But let me tell you something, that that physical union was meant to picture that lasting covenant love that God has for his people.

And so an attack on marriage and gender is the strategy of Satan, do you see that? And that's why Paul talked about homosexuality here. We reject that, and we worship self ultimately. We'll worship and love someone like me. It's a form of self-worship, a form of idolatry. And so it unfolds naturally from what he just talked about. I'm going to finish up with a couple of quick words of counsel to different categories of people. First, to individuals who may be struggling, wrestling with this sin. I guess I'd like to begin by just urging you to acknowledge yourself not as a homosexual but as a person created in the image of God. Start there. As a person created in the image of God. That issue of sexuality does not define who you are. The fact that you're created in the image of God defines who you are. And also acknowledge that a disordered sexuality, and that's what this says it is, perversion. A disordered sexuality, like all other disorders and all other effects of sin in the world, comes from the exchange of the glory of God. And it does not define who you are, does not define your personhood, for salvation's available in Christ.

And so then thirdly, I'd urge you to trust in Christ alone as your Savior. Come to Christ as I just invited, come to Him and allow Him to put the glory of God back in the center of your life, to hand you over to a body of teaching that can save you totally. And by His Spirit, live out acts of righteousness in your life. I would also urge you to determine in your heart... And I guess I'm speaking to people who are struggling with homosexuality, but this is true of heterosexuals as well. Resolve in your heart that you're going to be chaste and pure, and use the gift of sexuality the way God intended, as I just quoted, and not in any other way. And then, finally, seek wholesome friendships with people of both genders, especially in groups. Develop yourself socially within the context of good fellowship, Christian fellowship.

Even Pastor John Piper calls on families to have singles over lots for dinner, so they can just see a good family working together; husbands and wives sitting at the table with their children. And we have a whole bunch of college students and singles in our church. I'm calling on married couples, invite them over to dinner, get to know them, get involved in their lives. And the second word is to parents. First of all, as parents of wayward children, probably there's no greater grief in parenthood than this. Greater, I think, than the grief of losing a child to death is the sense that your child has completely rejected God, is living in open sin, open rebellion. And it may be that there are some parents that are feeling guilt about that. "If only I've done this, if only I've done that." There's no way you can sort all that out. There is no way you can unravel or do it over again. Come to God for the forgiveness that he alone can give. Confess your sins to your children. That's good advice for parents in general. If you made mistakes, talk to them about it. You're not presenting yourself as sinless and pure. Confess sin to children, and embrace and love sinning children. Embrace them, love them. Don't cut them off because of your embarrassment and because of your shame at their lifestyle. Embrace and love them, and pray for them that God might bring them to repentance. And to parents of young children in particular, do what is necessary to foster in them a strong gender identity. For boys, that they be masculine, and for girls, that they be feminine. 

And the final comment I make is to our society. We live in a troubled society, don't we? And we can't unravel all of the aspects of that. How can we be certain that every element of society, no matter what their views are, can pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. While we Christians know that a pursuit of this kind of lifestyle could end up unraveling and destroying our entire society, because the members of society come from families. So what do we do with this as Christians? I don't have an answer to it, but I do urge you to pray for America, that God would lead us, in repentance, back to his ways. Continue to be courageous and speak where the Bible has spoken. Speak as a broken-hearted sinner, who has him or herself received the grace of God, not as one judging. Romans 2:1 gets you up out of that judgment seat real fast. Let's speak with compassion and point them to Christ. Let's close in prayer.

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