In a few words, with a few verse references, here is what Equip believes about God-honoring sexual stewardship for all people and God’s love and wisdom for gay people:
Experiencing same-sex attraction is a product of the Fall. (Matthew 6:12-13; James 1:14-15; Hebrews 4:15). Experiencing same-sex attraction—finding people of the same sex physically attractive and desiring romantic relationships with them, being gay—is a result of the Fall. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, their sin led to a domino effect of brokenness. The introduction of sin bent all of the ways God had perfectly designed and ordered this world. To the extent that this world around us, the people around us, and even ourselves are not how God first intended us.
God did not intend for people to experience same-sex attraction (Romans 1:26-28, Romans 5:12, James 1:13, Psalm 51:5). When God first imagined each of us and projected us being born into a perfect world, He did not intend for any of us to develop same-sex attractions. But we have instead been born into a broken world, and one of the ways some are affected by that brokenness is by developing same-sex attractions.
Experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin, and God does not send people to Hell merely for being gay (John 10:28-30; Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 4:30). Experiencing same-sex attraction is a brokenness, a temptation to sin, but God does not hold our attractions against us. Merely experiencing temptation is not actual sin. God does not send people to hell merely because boys are attracted to boys or girls are attracted to girls.
We do not choose who we are attracted to, but we do choose how we respond.
The consensus of scientists is that some combination of nature and nurture contribute to the development of sexual orientation, but those environmental and biological contributors are not known.
Sexual orientation change efforts have been proven to be harmfully ineffective. 96% of individuals who participated in sexual orientation change efforts experience no change in their sexual orientation. However, sexual orientation changes efforts have been proven to increase participants’ likelihood of attempting suicide by 92%. God has the power to change anything about this world, but the spiritual and psychological costs of pursuing sexual orientation change far outweigh the benefits.
God calls all Christians to vocational singleness or Christian marriage (Matt 19, 1 Cor 7, Ephesians 5). Vocational singleness is a lifetime calling to abstinent singleness for the sake of kingdom work with undivided attention. Christian marriage is a lifetime calling to marriage between one Christian woman and one Christian man with an openness to the important kingdom work of raising children.
There is no context for same-sex sexual or romantic activity that God blesses.
Same-sex sexual and romantic activity are sins in any context (Romans 1; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Why is Equip convinced this is God’s wisdom for sexual stewardship?
Every time the Bible addresses same-sex sexual activity (often referred to as the “clobber passages”), it calls it a sin. Admittedly, each of these instances are in the context of rape, incest, adultery, or sex outside of marriage. Nevertheless, as Equip has addressed in a seminar responding to convincing arguments for a revisionist sexual ethic, based on the clobber passages alone, there is significantly more evidence for a historic sexual ethic than for a revisionist sexual ethic.
However, we don’t need the clobber passages to know God’s wisdom for everyone’s sexual stewardship, including gay people. We’re convinced by what the whole of Scripture consistently reveals about God’s design for our lives—God’s order for the world, even in the midst of brokenness. When it comes to what we do with our capacity for romance and sex, God seems to be pretty clear that there are two options for Christians: vocational singleness or Christian marriage with someone of the opposite sex.
Jesus and Paul had a lot to say about both of those options. They praised both and described both as having a specific design. In passages such as Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7, they spoke of a committed vocational singleness where one gives up romance, marriage, and sex to do kingdom work. In Matthew 19 and Ephesians 5, Jesus and Paul, respectively, spoke of Christian marriage as a lifelong partnership between a Christian man and woman for the purposes of enjoying intimacy with each other, raising children, and embodying the gospel.
The Christian should not approach God or the Bible with the question, “What is permissible when it comes to my sexuality? What can I get away with?” Instead, we should ask, “What is most wise and most good? What is God’s best when it comes to my sexuality?” God’s best for how all Christians should steward their sexuality is clear: vocational singleness or Christian marriage with someone of the opposite sex.
This has been the understanding of an overwhelming majority of Christians throughout time, a vast majority of global Christians today, and the consensus of modern global denominational leaders who can trace their authority to lead the Church back to the apostles to whom Jesus passed His teachings and authority.
Yet, even if we weren’t convinced logically of a historic sexual ethic, we couldn’t ignore the evidence we’ve seen in the lives of others that a revisionist sexual ethic isn’t God’s best. In particular, too many of our gay Christian friends who adopted a progressive sexual ethic eventually stopped believing in God altogether
At first, these friends performed impressive theological acrobatics to read Scripture to say that God fully blesses same-sex marriages. But eventually, most of these friends admitted that the Bible probably says what we’ve consistently understood it to say for 2000 years (and what a majority of progressive LGBT+ theologians believe today): the God of the Bible is against gay sex. These friends were convinced that God fully blesses same-sex marriages, and concluded that the Bible is not binding or authoritative for modern people. Yet once they concluded that the Bible and the Church couldn’t tell them who God is, they realized they were just worshiping a God they came up with. Within five years, too many abandon the Chrisitan faith. At first they hesitate to call themselves Christians, and eventually they can’t bring themselves to confess the Nicene Creed at all, the universal statement of Christian faith.
Let us be clear: we want our gay friends who hold a revisionist sexual ethic to have robust relationships with God. It pains us to see this consistent pattern. But the fruit of a revisionist sexual ethic that we see in the lives of our gay friends is them losing their faith.
But there’s bad fruit of a historic sexual ethic too
On the other hand, gay Christian friends attempting to steward their sexuality according to a historic sexual ethic are lonely and struggle with sin. This has affected their relationships with God and the kingdom work they could do. Why? Because churches haven’t taught about God’s full wisdom for sexual stewardship or embodied that wisdom in a way that cared for gay people. That’s the double burden of Christians who are gay: churches don’t know how to love them well, and the alternatives culture offers still aren’t good for them either.
Yet even if churches are failing to love and care for gay people, that doesn’t make something that is bad for God’s people now good for them; that doesn’t change something from being a sin to being edifying to God.
Why did God make the world this way? We don’t know. At the end of the day, it’s not our job to question God or tell Him how to do His job. We must trust that God knows what is best for us and obey His teachings.
Ultimately, the solution to the bad fruit of a historic sexual ethic isn’t to abandon that wisdom, because there’s even worse fruit of a revisionist sexual ethic. Instead, churches must learn how to better embody a historic sexual ethic in a way that produces good fruit for gay people.
That’s why Equip exists. That’s what Equip helps churches do.
We’ve got to start inviting every Christian to think theologically about their sexual stewardship and to take seriously what the Bible has to say about vocational singleness for straight people, God’s purposes for marriage, and unbiblical divorce and remarriage.
We’ve got to make sure everyone in our churches, particularly kids, knows about God’s love and wisdom for gay people so that they never have to make sense of their sexuality alone in the closet.
We have to become churches where every Christian considers vocational singleness and could find permanent, lived-in family in lifetime singleness.
With Equip’s help, your church can become a place that offers gay people something undeniably better than the empty promises of the world. Your church can become a place where gay Christians find more beauty and connection from following God’s teachings than from seeking out romantic relationships with people of the same sex.