‘I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.’ (Jude 3)
Consider my friend Ben, a pastor in the Reformed Church of America. Ben started his journey out of homosexuality with us at Desert Stream then went on staff at the largest church in his denomination. Consider also Maria Cardenas, a devout Presbyterian (PCUSA) who also faithfully walked out her lesbianism with us and now serves her denomination by running healing groups and proclaiming how Jesus redeems the same-sex struggler.
Employing their own stories, Ben and Maria testified before decision-making bodies in their denominations on how Jesus is faithful to His Word and to His human creation who cry out to Him amid homosexual struggle. God is faithful.
Both of their denominations upheld the truth of God’s heart and mind toward human sexuality. In the last month, the Reformed Church voted to uphold its commitment to biblical sexuality, which includes a refusal to ordain practicing homosexuals, while the PCUSA, further along in its ‘gay-affirming’ trajectory, voted down a redefinition of marriage that would include ‘gay marriage.’
Since the seventies, both denominations have faced intensifying gay advances. Each year, biblical truth concerning (homo)sexuality is challenged and potentially diminished. Thanks to the likes of Maria and Ben (among many others), the truth has been sustained and remains alive and well in these embattled denominations.
The fight goes on because of the power of embodied truth. Giving voice to lives made whole by merciful truth hinder gay advances in the church. Our stories sustain hope; we ‘raise up age-old foundations.’ (Is. 58:12)
I shall never forget the elder in my church who responded to my story with these simple words: ‘I never heard that God could heal the homosexual.’ He has now.
Yet we err if think our responsibility ends there. We must work hard to ensure that churches of all stripes possess dynamic healing opportunities for all the sexually broken who cry out to Jesus. Without a track of truth, such healing is impossible. But with only a track of truth, we become clanging gongs.
As a follow-up to the truth of his denomination, Ben wrote: ‘I am grateful that the RCA has declared homosexuality a sin. This is a good first step. But it is not enough for us to say what we are against. As a denomination, we must assert gospel hope. What is the good news for those whose sexuality has been shaped by a broken culture? What is the hope for the sexual sinner? Can men and women find new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Do we believe that Jesus can change lives?’
Ben is right. We lay a track of truth in order to make way for the mercy that transforms lives. Pray for the Marias and Bens of this world, that their salty proclamation will become a merciful offering in local churches everywhere.
‘For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’ Is. 62:1