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First Thoughts

This Isn’t Going Away: Homosexuality, Counseling, and God’s Enduring Word

The Sexual Revolution

Almost everyone I knew thought homosexuality was wrong when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. Of course, we all knew some who identified as homosexual, but I knew no one who either boasted about it or was mistreated because of it. The majority who thought it was wrong had an unspoken agreement to live and let live with those who disagreed.

Today, my kids are growing up in a culture with the opposite mindset. Homosexuality, as well as the other expressions of LGBTQ+, are not hidden, and are not just accepted, but are celebrated. Today kids feel pressure to engage in fawning acceptance of the lifestyle, and to experiment with it themselves. Anyone, whether a child at school or an adult in the workplace, is strongly and coercively discouraged from expressing any kind of disapproval for homosexuality.

This opposite experience of homosexuality from my childhood to my adulthood is what I mean when I refer to the sexual revolution. We are living in a different sexual universe and breathing an entirely separate variety of moral air. Some people celebrate that revolution. Others mourn it. But there is no denying that the sexual world we are all living in has changed very dramatically and very quickly.

That sexual revolution is also not complete.

Homosexuality and Counseling Children

For years there has been a great debate about the ethics of counseling minors who struggle with sexual problems like homosexuality and gender dysphoria. This debate is itself an expression of the sexual revolution. Even though the harmful effects of homosexuality and transgenderism are well known, popular culture decries any effort to discourage minors from embracing that lifestyle. This discouragement is seen in the way such counseling efforts are understood to be unethical by the secular elites.

This discouragement is also seen in efforts by various governments to outlaw such counseling.

One fresh and egregious example of this is the pending ordinance in West Lafayette, Indiana. The ordinance bans efforts to counsel children away from homosexual temptation. We have seen these efforts before, but the ordinance in West Lafayette not only bans the practice for licensed counselors, but for unlicensed ones, for pastors, and could even include parents.

This proposed ordinance is an incredibly aggressive act. It would mean that if a 16-year-old boy in West Lafayette was struggling with unwanted homosexual desires, and went to his pastor for help, his pastor would not be able to talk about biblical truth or pray with him without receiving a $1000 fine per day of such activity.

This is the latest installment of the sexual revolution, and it is horrifying, and the vote to approve it is tonight.

So Much is At Stake

This ordinance is something that everyone should oppose because it places all of us at risk.

If an ordinance like this can pass, there will be terrible consequences for everyone regardless of sexual expression or faith commitment. Just consider how an ordinance like this limits the freedom of every human being in our country.

This debate is about the freedom of every individual, parent, and faith community to choose their own values. The debate is also about whether those same individuals, parents, and faith communities are able freely to discuss those values.

An ordinance like this can only work if the government agency charged with enforcement inserts itself into our cherished values and private conversations. This ordinance invites the government’s listening ear and coercive arm into your conversations after church, your pastor’s office, your table at the coffee shop, and your child’s bedroom.

I will put my cards on the table. I think homosexuality, like all sexual sin, is a terrible moral evil. I have seen this sin destroy lives and families many times over. I have seen people struggle against it for years and, by God’s grace, win, but never without scars. I am horrified that any parent would fail to be concerned about a child struggling with something so destructive. I would plead with them to get help for their precious child.

As strongly as I believe that I could never imagine using the coercive power of the government to compel those parents to agree with me, to change their beliefs, and to only have the kinds of conversations that are approved by me.

What a terrible idea!

I don’t care who you are, you do not want this, even if you might think you do. The reason this is such a bad idea is because once you open the door to government enforcement of conversations like this, it’s going to be very hard to close. You might have the votes to enforce your preferred conversations today, but what happens after the next election when someone else is in charge? If you don’t want this kind of interference in your conversations tomorrow, then you better not try to interfere in others’ conversations today.

This really isn’t about what we believe about sex, but about whether our society will be one of freedom or one of oppression. An ordinance like this places all of us at risk, even the people who proposed it.

What Is Not at Stake

As serious as the stakes are in this crucial issue, the most important things are not up for grabs.

No ordinance in West Lafayette can change what the Bible says about homosexuality. Regardless of any vote from any city council God’s Word will still insist that sex is only for one man and one woman in marriage. The Scriptures will continue to insist that every other sexual expression is wrong. That reality is not going away.

Because God’s Word will not change by the vote of a city council, then the convictions of Christians will not change. We will keep believing the Bible and teaching our kids about it. We will continue to go to churches with pastors who stand in the pulpit and preach the truth, and who talk about it in their offices and in our living rooms. That reality isn’t going away either.

We Christians won’t be deterred by fines. Some churches will raise millions of dollars from faithful Christians to pay them. Other Christians, on principle, will refuse to pay, will go to jail if necessary, and will consider themselves blessed by God for the privilege of suffering for him. We will campaign to get reckless representatives booted from office, and responsible ones installed. We will fight in every courtroom in America from the district courts to the Supreme Court. We will never accept this. That is another reality that is not going away.

And just as we embrace the teaching of Jesus that marriage is between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-6), we will also embrace his teaching to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). With all our hearts we will oppose terrible laws while loving the people who propose them. If that is you, then we Christians will pray for you, we will help you take out your trash, bring you dinner when you’re sick, and try to grab lunch with you after a judge tosses out your unconstitutional law.

We will invite you into our churches and welcome you into our gatherings. We can handle it if you disagree with our convictions. Can you handle it if we disagree with yours? Or will you use the blunt instrument of legislation to pound people into silence who hold convictions that are as old as the ages?

We didn’t ask a city council for permission to preach the truth, and so we will be undeterred if one tries to take it away. Regardless of any legislation, ordinance, or ruling, we will tell you the truth that Jesus sets you free from all your sin when you trust in him. We will tell you that truth because we love you, and we want you to share the same joy in him that we have. We will tell you that truth even if you pass a law telling us we can’t.

That reality is not going away either. And no vote in West Lafayette, Indiana can change it.

Dr. Heath Lambert is the Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL. He is the author of several books, including The Great Love of God: Encountering God’s Heart for a Hostile World. 

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