Here are my rough notes:
Plenary #1 Heath Lambert
Jesus Christ loves and changes people struggling with homosexual desires.
15 ἀληθεύοντες δὲ ἐν ἀγάπῃ αὐξήσωμεν εἰς αὐτὸν τὰ πάντα, ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή, ⸀Χριστός
speaking the truth in love, let us increase/grow up to [who is] all/everything, he is the head, Christ.
If you are going to grow up spiritually, into Christ-likeness, you need: a conversation happening in relationship.
We must truth — content
In love — the manner of speaking
This is unnatural for us. On our own, we are inclined to speak the truth without love — and call it a virtue (I just call it like I see it.) Sometimes we want to speak love without truth; we want others to think we are kind and so gain their approval. Ephesians 4:15 says that kindness does not make you correct.
We can be truth-less and loveless
This is a counseling passage: a conversation that leads to change. This text also tells us what to say when we don’t know what to say. If you don’t know what to say, say true things & say them in love.
This is important in our day. Our changing culture makes it hard for Christians to know what to say about Christianity. There is a crisis in our culture which is unlike anything we have ever had to face before. Things have changed quickly; things are going to change more.
As things change on this point, we need to know what to say.
We are listening to many voices that tempt us to speak words (which might be other than truth or love).
Seven different voices threaten to lead us astray
Grace without repentance.
This is the loudest voice in our culture: accept these things, “love wins!” Quit calling homosexuality sin. Quit being so mean. There is even a group of people who call themselves “Gay Christians”.
One said that homosexuality is a created characteristic, a good part of God’s creation. It is not gay Christians who are sinning. It is Christians who sinning against them by sinning against their intimate relationship.
It is a sin to say it is wrong to be gay.
It sounds gracious on its face. Who wants to have conflict? Who wants to hurt someone? Why would we say this is a sin? It is because we have a conviction from the Word of God.
The thing that haunts me about grace without repentance: our arguments don’t change the mind of God. Our apparent “love” and “grace” is not loving: making sinners comfy on the way to hell is not loving.
If you don’t repent, you will perish. Jesus
It is with broken hearts that we say to people who hate us, that there is grace for you — if you repent. You must leave your life of sin and turn to Jesus Christ.
2. Those who tempt us to speak change without Jesus.
Those who advocate secular reparative therapy. The argument: Your homosexuality has a cause (family dynamics). Therefore, you repair the family dynamics in therapy. There is a mechanism for change. There is a goal: to get you to be heterosexual.
For decades, Christians have co-opted that approach and used it. Problem: Not one word of that approach is in the Bible. That means, we Christians need to repent. When this secular approach did not work, it looked like it means Christ doesn’t work. We are now paying bills for this false approach.
The Bible says homosexuality has a cause: our bodies, souls & environment are broken. In some people that brokenness will manifest itself in homosexual desires (just as for others it is seen in sinful heterosexual desires).
We have a change: Jesus.
Goal: not heterosexuality, it is holiness. Not one verse in the Bible tells you to go be heterosexual. We are told to have sexual attractions for our opposite sex partner marriage, alone. Every other desire must be put to death.
The problem is that we started treating homosexuality like it had a different cause than other sins, and thus needed a special system.
My lust is not less sinful because it is heterosexual than my brother’s whose lust is homosexual.
3. Speak Truth Without the Bible (traditionalists)
Heterosexual marriage is necessary for the very fabric of society. A natural law argument: the division of thinking, do things have a purpose in their nature, or not. Natural law shows us that things work best when used in a certain way. [Quote from Making Gay Okay.]
It is obvious that male and female work best together. Destruction does flow from violating that natural law.
But here is the problem: So what? If you want to be gay, and you don’t care about your body, the children you adopt or the effect upon society. Why not just do what you want.
We can’t rely upon, we cannot ground our call to change in natural law, because there is no power in it. The argument from design is true, but there is no power in it.
Ephesians 4:15 says that we may not speak of marriage without Jesus Christ; conviction without care.
These are the culture warriors. They know that homosexuality destroys culture. They seek to preserve culture by fighting against
The problem with cultural warrior mentality: it threatens to tempt you to settle for a lesser kingdom (1950’s Americana). We want something better. When we do this, we are free to love those who hate us.
4. There are voices tempting us to speak behavior without desire
This group says that homosexual behavior is sinful. They are also argue that homosexual desire is not sinful; it might even be good.
Quotes: one author: eroticized desires for the same sex leads to a close relationship with members of the sex.
Response: wanting close relationships with the same sex is not homosexuality; it is friendship. Homosexuality is a desire for a same-sex sexual relationship.
The Bible tells us that behavior flows from desire.
Change happens at the level of desire at the heart, which flows out into behavior.
This voice also has a compassionate desire. They want people who have homosexual desire to not think that everything they think is sinful.
We don’t to worry that people who see themselves sinning all over the place will beat themselves up. We have a solution for sin. This (problem) is the same for all persons, homosexual or not.
We have a solution for sin in Jesus. We are all changing from the inside out.
5. —Missed this as a separate category.
6. Ethics Without Ministry
Ministry is based upon ethics (what is right and wrong), but ministry shows us the move from right to wrong.
This is the easiest error for those trying to be faithful to Scripture. There are Christians seeking to defend the Scripture from unprecedented attacks upon the Scripture.
It is true that homosexuality is a sin. It is also true that the Bible teaches us that Jesus changes people, and how Jesus changes people.
These people act like whole sections of the Bible do not exist. If we merely tell people it is bad without showing how to change, we are leading people to despair.
The integrity of our message at stake in this: if we believe that (1) homosexuality is a sin; and (2) Jesus changes people, but (3) we don’t know how Jesus changes people, we make a mockery of our message, we slander Jesus.
7. Speak Jesus Without Change
These are the nervous Christians — some these are you in this room.
Almost every church where I speak, the pastor takes me aside and asks, “Can homosexuals really change?”
That question shows us we are listening to the world and not the Bible.
Consider Ephesians 1:4: he chose us to be holy
2:10 we were created for good works to walk in them [but not for those who are tempted with homosexual desire]
3:20-21 Now to him who is able ….
4:15 we grow up in every way in Christ.
4:15 is promise
Biblical change is looking like Christ. This may or may not entail a heterosexual marriage, or celibacy. When either fights for change, putting off sin, that is Biblical change. This whole matter of change lies at the heart of the gospel.
When you say, some sinners can’t change that says more about what you think about Jesus than about homosexuality.
When Jesus returns, there will be no more sin — of any sort.
We can tell people you are not your sin; you will be changed. But for now, we are on our way, but we wait for that glorious day (all of us).
Jesus loves sinners; Jesus changes sinners.