Editorial – Hope for Those Burdened by Homosexuality

Hope for Those Burdened by Homosexuality

As the LCMS considers how it should respond to the legalization of same-sex marriage and the persecution of Christians who believe same-sex behavior is sinful, it is important to remember that there are people who sit in the pews of our congregations who struggle—often in painful silence and shame—with the burden of same-sex desire and behavior. When they hear sermons about the abomination of homosexuality or read articles about how Christians can protect themselves from militant homosexuals who wish to limit freedoms, they experience condemnation and long for a word of comfort and hope.

Even though Scripture clearly condemns same-sex behavior along with all heterosexual behavior outside of marriage, Scripture is also clear that God loves sinners and that He offers sure and certain hope in Christ. Some wrongly think that God will love and forgive only when one ceases having sinful desires and stops all sinful behavior. But this is false teaching. In Romans 5:10 the Apostle Paul writes: “For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life.” If God loved rebellious unbelievers, then how much more does God love those whom the Holy Spirit has convicted of sin and has given faith in Christ as their Savior.

Being a Christian does not mean there is no longer a struggle with sinful desires or that one no longer engages in sinful behaviors during times of weakness and temptation. Instead, being a Christian means 1) grieving over the sins in life, 2) longing for God’s mercy in Christ, and 3) relying on God’s strength to turn from sin and live according to God’s loving will.

However, no matter how hard Christians try to resist sin and live according to God’s will, there will always be a struggle with the desires of the sinful nature, the temptations of this evil world, and the assaults of the devil. (See Romans 7:14-25) The good news is that when Christians struggle with sinful desires and behaviors, they can confess those sins to God and know that He forgives them for Christ’s sake. (See 1 John 1:9 and 2:1-2) Some people in LCMS congregations struggle with same-sex desire and may have engaged in same-sex behavior during times of weakness and temptation. For those who fall into this category, they can come to God with their sin and know that they are forgiven and holy in God’s sight through faith in Christ.

As the LCMS strives to speak God’s truth regarding the sin of same-sex behavior and the evil of same-sex marriage, the devil will use this as an opportunity to accuse our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with same-sex desire and behavior just as the devil was playing the accuser when the prodigal son thought that his father would never want him back as his son. (See Luke 4:1-12 and 15:21) But when the son returned in repentance, his father forgave him even before his confession, welcomed him with open arms, called him his son, and asked all to celebrate with him! This is how the Heavenly Father views the sinner every time the sinner confesses—including the sins of same-sex lust and behavior. He forgives, He calls the forgiven sinner His son or daughter, and He asks fellow forgiven brothers and sisters in Christ to celebrate with Him!

Those who are burdened with guilt and shame because of struggles with same-sex desire and behavior may rejoice in the fact they are completely forgiven for Christ’s sake. But understand this: Even though with God’s help and the loving support of fellow Christians one will be able to begin to refrain from various sinful behaviors, the fact is that all will struggle with the desires of the sinful nature until death. Nevertheless, in the midst of this struggle, sinners know they are forgiven and have the complete victory in Christ. This is the certain hope for those burdened by homosexuality.

Thomas Eckstein
Pastor, Concordia Lutheran Church
Jamestown, North Dakota
Tom Eckstein is the author of Bearing Their Burden: Speaking the Truth in Love to People Burdened by Homosexuality (Lulu, 2011).

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