Human Sexuality and Discernment

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By Paula Marolewski, November 22, 2016 9:57 am

“We need more discernment around issues of human sexuality.”

I have heard that statement or variations of it many times recently. I don’t and I do agree with it.

I don’t agree that there is a need to discern whether LGBTQ behavior or same-sex marriage are sinful or not. God has made clear in his Word that such lifestyles and unions are sinful. (For a sound and respectful review of this matter, I welcome you to explore

I do agree, however, that we desperately need communal discernment around human sexuality in many critical areas, including the following.

Discernment Regarding Deception

We should engage in communal discernment to determine what lies we have believed – and why we have believed them – that have allowed us to come to our current state of polarization in the Church. For example, why have some church members and leaders accepted beliefs such as:

• Any form of human sexuality is acceptable if it is loving, faithful, and monogamous
• If someone has a same-sex attraction, it is acceptable because it is “natural”
• There is no “right” interpretation of the Bible
• Morality is relative
• Human sexuality is a civil, not a moral, issue
• All perspectives are equally valid
• LGBTQ lifestyles are diversity to be embraced, not sin to be avoided
• Experience is authoritative in the interpretation of Scripture

Discernment Regarding Hospitality and Ministry

We should discern together how to better engage in hospitality and ministry in the sphere of human sexuality. For instance:

• How do we balance grace (Jesus welcomes all of us to come as we are) and truth (Jesus calls all of us to sanctification in him) as we relate to the LGBTQ community, both within and outside the church?
• How does radical hospitality affect our evangelism? Worship services? Church programs? Corporate life?
• How can we help Christians who have a same-sex attraction or who are practicing an LGBTQ lifestyle to live lives of moral purity and holiness, either in a heterosexual marriage relationship or in celibacy?
• How do we minister to people who must break off a same-sex relationship with someone whom they love in order to follow God’s call to sexual holiness?
• How do we bring God’s healing to people who carry guilt and shame for their sinful sexual behaviors?
• How do we teach the biblical position on human sexuality in such a way as to make it clear, relevant, and attractive to the church and the world today?

Discernment Regarding Engagement

We make a serious mistake if we treat everyone who affirms LGBTQ behavior and same-sex marriage in the same way. We need to discern together how to effectively engage with and respond to many different groups within this larger whole. For example:

• How do we engage in outreach with unsaved members of the LGBTQ community and welcome them into our churches and invite them to salvation?
• How do we disciple newly-saved people who practice or affirm LGBTQ behavior or same-sex relationships?
• How do we respond to long-time Christians who practice or affirm LGBTQ behavior or same-sex relationships?
• How do we engage with those in church leadership who practice or affirm LGBTQ behavior or same-sex relationships?

Discernment Regarding Discipleship

As we look at how often and how easily LGBTQ behavior and same-sex unions have been accepted by Christians, we should ask ourselves:

• Where have we fallen down in discipleship and Christian education that has permitted this view to take such hold in our churches?
• Are we teaching people how to read, study, interpret, and apply Scripture?
• How can we better explain why issues of human sexuality matter so much?
• Where else are we allowing anti-biblical views to take hold? For instance, with regard to the doctrines of salvation, heaven and hell, the nature of Scripture, etc.

Discernment Regarding Conversations

Affirming the biblical position with regard to matters of human sexuality does not limit conversations. It multiplies them. For instance:

• How do we have sensitive, gentle conversations where people feel safe to share the deep pain that may have prompted them to embrace or affirm LGBTQ behavior or same-sex marriage? For example, perhaps they have struggled with powerful same-sex attraction for years, or they may have a family member or friend who has embraced an alternative lifestyle.
• How do we encourage conversations where we talk about reason and logic and world views? We live in a world where everything is considered relative and absolutes are non-existent. The younger generations especially need to be introduced to the concept that there are absolutes, and that personal experience and interpretation are not the ultimate reality.
• How do we engage in conversations where we humbly ask where we have hurt those who affirm or embrace LGBTQ behaviors or same-sex marriage in our actions, attitudes, and words? We need to confess the injustices we have perpetrated and seek reconciliation.
• How do we make space for conversations where people are free to express their doubts and questions and receive sound, biblical counsel?
• How do we have conversations where we disciple each other and build one another up, growing in grace and truth?

The Call for Discernment

As the above points reveal, taking a firm stand on matters of human sexuality does not remove the opportunity for further discernment. Rather, we have and will continue to have a tremendous and burning need for discernment in the Church.

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