SUGAR LAND—Christians who believe the Bible will not allow them to bless same-sex unions have a responsibility to become family to LGBT individuals, a Houston pastor told participants at a Texas Baptist conference.
“God’s answer for loneliness in creation is marriage. God’s answer for loneliness in the new creation is the church,” said Steve Wells, pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston.
Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction but choose to remain celibate need the support of the family of God to journey beside them as they “walk a terribly hard road,” he said.
During the Micah 6:8 Conference at Sugar Land Baptist Church, near Houston, Wells led a session on addressing same-sex relationships with grace and truth. The Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission sponsored the conference.
Biblical model of marriage
When churches make their response to the LGBT community central to their identity and focus on issues of sexuality and gender identity, they are allowing that emphasis to displace the message that God in Christ is reconciling the world to himself, he insisted.
“In our culture, the issue is central and unsettled. In the Bible, it is settled and peripheral,” Wells said.
The picture of marriage as presented in Genesis 2 and affirmed by Jesus in the Gospels is one man and one woman for the duration of life, he said.
“That is the only pattern the Bible blesses,” he said, noting it also is the picture the New Testament uses to describe the relationship between Christ and his church.
The Bible faithfully records other practices, such as polygamy, but only affirms a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman who mutually submit to each other, he added.
“The Bible speaks with one voice” on the subject of marriage, he said. “There is not an arc of inclusion that says someday it will be different. There is no passage that blesses same-sex relationships.”
Avoid shaming people
Wells, whose church is located near Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, an area with a large LGBT population, told several stories about seeking to minister both with grace and truth to members and guests who live in that context.
“If we are going to disciple people, we receive them where they are,” he said.
Guilt about behavior that is outside God’s plan can lead people to repentance, but shame—“bad feelings about who I am”—only drives people deeper into sin, he said.
Too often, Christians have sinned against people who wrestle with same-sex attraction by shaming them, he asserted.
“What the LGBT community often has heard from the church of Jesus Christ is, ‘You should be ashamed,’” Wells said. “And that is sin.”