Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2:12-13 (ESV)
Commenter Lisabeth asks the question: “Since same sex marriage is a hot topic these days, what would the Bible have us do if a ‘couple’ showed up at our door? Home or church? I got asked this at the info center last Sunday and wasn’t really sure how to answer.”
The Bible has an answer, but it may surprise you when you hear it. Like most serious questions, it’s difficult to fit the answer into a sound bite-sized response, especially one that could be easily shared before or after Sunday service in the scenario you described, even though unfortunately that’s what most people are looking for.
First let’s go over some ground rules to make sure we’re all on the same page, and then we’ll deal with the question directly. We know God is love, loving beyond all human comprehension in that He lowered Himself to the form of a man so He could die and pay the price for our sin. We also know that He is a consuming fire, and no sin can stand in the presence of His holiness.
We reconcile these two divine characteristics of love and holiness through our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross. In other words, the price for sin – any sin – has already been paid. It was paid for nearly 2000 years ago. All that remains to be done for the sinner is to accept as a gift this work that has already been done for him, the full payment of the eternal debt he owes for his sin.
This leads us to the sinner himself. Is the sinner a sinner because he committed a sin? Or does the sinner commit sins because he’s a sinner? The answer is the latter. The sinner sins because it’s in his nature to do so. Why we Christians should express surprise at a sinner sinning has always puzzled me. What else would you expect them to do?
A dog isn’t a dog because he barks, he barks because he’s a dog. It’s in his nature to bark. But let’s say you were an amazing animal trainer and you were somehow able to teach that dog to meow. Would the dog now be a cat? No, he would still be a dog biologically, meowing or not. By nature he’s a dog.
Likewise the sinner is by nature a sinner, outward cosmetic changes notwithstanding. For the sinner to truly change, an inward transformation of her nature must be performed. The sinner is unable to do this on her own, but just as Jesus has already paid the price for her sin, so He has also made a way for her to receive newness of life through His resurrection.
By accepting Christ, not only is the sinner’s debt of sin paid in full, but now that she is “in Christ” the sinner shares in His resurrection. The first manifestation of this new life, this transformation on the inside, is that her spirit is remade into a new creation (II Corinthians 5:17).
All other world religions focus on changing a man’s outward habits and behaviors in the hope that these efforts will affect a change in the inward man, but they never do. Only Christianity starts on the inside of a man and works its way out, eventually changing the new convert’s outward conduct over time as the verse above states: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Back To The Question At Hand
So what should we do when a homosexual couple shows up at church? We could ask the same question if a couple in adultery or a drug addict or a fill-in-the-blank with the worst thing you can think of showed up. The answer is still the same: We don’t have to do anything at all.
This is a tough answer to accept because we all want to get in there and try to “fix” people we see as broken, but it’s still the right answer. The reason we don’t have to do anything is because everything that individual could ever possibly need from a spiritual standpoint has already been fully provided for in the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our only job – our ONLY job – is to communicate to the sinners that they are already free. They just don’t know it yet. They don’t need to spend eternity in prison for their sins because their debt has been paid by Another and their sentence has been commuted. All they have to do is accept the gift that God has already given them. Our job is to tell them about that so they can make an informed decision.
The Word of God is alive and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). It will do the work for us. We don’t have to do the Word’s work, and in fact we can’t even if we wanted to. We don’t need to criticize or moralize, and we’ll always make things worse if we try. Instead, we should let the Word do all of those things.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – II Timothy 4:2 (ESV)
Now, here is the real question: If a sinner comes into our service, and if he sits under the anointed preaching and teaching of the Word of God, do we have enough faith in our Heavenly Father to stay out of His way and let His Word do its work? This question could just as easily apply to an unsaved family member as to a sinner visiting a church on Sunday morning.
Share the Word, not your opinions of convictions on the subject. Let the Word do its job and you’ll be amazed at the results you see. You will watch people get saved literally right before your eyes, and because you’ll know you didn’t have anything to do with it beyond simply sharing the Word, God alone will receive the glory for the results.
This leads to another question that I want to address in the next post: What should we do when a sinner does accept Christ as his Savior and Lord, but is still carrying baggage from his former life? Once again, the answer might surprise you.