Wednesday, January 9, 2013

“Gay Unrepentant Christians”: An Oxymoron?

Can we say that “Gay Christians” are truly Christian at all? Randy Thomas of Exodus International – a Christian ministry that helps gays to leave the gay life – claims that we can’t say this:

  • I have been involved in and among the so-called “ex-gay” movement for almost 21 years. While rare, there is an argument I have encountered saying that a person’s response to homosexuality is the litmus test of whether someone is truly applying The Gospel or not. Every time I hear this it gives me chills. The truth is that if there actually is a litmus test, that test is Jesus Himself. To put anything else in place of Him as being the singular evidence of salvation, The Good News (Gospel), is simply idolatry by a different route.
According to Thomas, trusting in Jesus alone is enough to guarantee salvation. Although this is true, it raises the question, “What does trusting in Jesus mean?” Does it mean that we can continue to live the old life or does turning to Jesus also mean turning away from the old life? Can you follow Jesus and still follow the old life, a life that requires church discipline proceedings?

In other words, does trusting also entail repenting or can we trust Jesus while refusing to repent of our sins, claiming that we need not repent, since repentance is not necessary for salvation?

Faith and repentance are used interchangeably in the Bible. This suggests that they are opposite sides of the same coin and that you can’t have one without the other. Furthermore, they both represent a change of mind and heart, and not a meritorious work. Therefore, by insisting on the necessity of repentance, no extra requirement is added to Salvation. It remains a free gift along with faith and repentance (2 Tim. 2:24-25; Acts 5:31; 11:18).

Here are some verses that indicate that repentance is necessary for salvation:

  • But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:7-8; Luke 3:8)
  • “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” (Acts 26:20)
  • When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life." (Acts 11:18)
  • He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46-47)
  • Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Cor. 7:10)
  • Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, (Acts 3:19; also Acts 2:38; 8:22; 17:30; 20:21) 
  • "When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.” (1 Kings 8:33-34; also see Jer. 24:7; Ezek. 18:30-32; Mal 3:7; Isaiah 1:27; 59:20) 
In light of these and many other verses, it is ill-advised and dangerous to tell people who refuse to repent that they will be saved if they trust in Jesus without repentance. Instead, a real trust in Jesus is a willingness to do what He says. If we refuse to do this, then we don’t trust in Him. It’s like claiming to trust in your doctor, while you refuse to do what he tells you to do. This isn’t trust!

Jesus requires repentance:

  • “But unless you repent, you too will all perish…But unless you repent, you too will all perish." (Luke 13:3-5)
Jesus also says this in so many other ways:

  • “You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:14)
  • “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:6)
Although such works do not save, they reflect whether or not we trust Jesus or not. A good saved tree produces good fruit!

Thomas probably means well. He tries to justify his stance in terms of building bridges with the “Gay Christians”:

  • Do I think they are going to hell? Not if they truly believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. If they do claim Him as such, then we are probably going to have a healthy discussion on various topics concerning sexuality, relationships, and identity.
Although this is a noble ideal, we are first called to faithfulness to God and His Word before any consideration of what might produce desirable results. However, if it’s not according to Scripture, in the long run, it will not produce desirable results.

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