I remember a presentation Frank Worthen gave on homosexuality and ex-gay ministry back in the early 1980s. More accurately, I remember his reply when someone asked how she should witness to homosexuals. He said that their primary need was the Gospel, not deliverance from homosexuality.
“If they don’t know the Lord, they’re going to hell anyway — what does it matter whether they’re gay or straight?”
Frank had a way with words.
I thought back to his answer during a recent episode of The Dividing Line this weekend. In that episode, James White responded to criticisms against Rosaria Butterfield, who left her lesbian lifestyle as a result of receiving salvation.
Her critic misinterpreted several of her statements to mean that Rosaria doesn’t believe same sex attraction is a sin. In reality, Rosaria simply said that the sin of homosexuality stems from the greater sin of pride. Especially the pride that rejects the Gospel.
I definitely agree that Romans 1:18-32 teaches that homosexuality is the ultimate rejection of the truth. It rebels against God’s created order, perverting His plan for human sexuality. Additionally, because it falls under the umbrella of sexual sin, there’s a sense in which it differs from other types of sin (see 1 Corinthians 6:18). Therefore I sympathize with those who react against the minimization of homosexuality’s sinfulness.
But homosexuality itself is not what damns a person to hell. Frank and Rosaria have both taught that a person receives condemnation by failing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ. Claiming homosexuality as an identity merely exposes an unwillingness to submit to God’s truth.
Overcoming the sin of same sex attraction takes the same type of effort and perseverance that overcoming any life-dominating sin takes. None of us completely stops sinning at the moment of conversion. Having said that that, let’s acknowledge that none of us can even begin our battle against life-dominating sins until we believe the Gospel.
So then, witnessing to homosexuals is fundamentally no different than witnessing to anyone else. They need to see that all sin (not just homosexuality) separates them from the holy God, and that only the shed blood of Jesus Christ can reconcile them to Him. Although their homosexuality may be a factor in the conversation, the emphasis must be on Jesus. He alone saves sinners, regardless of the ways we sin against Him.
Don’t let homosexuality intimidate you as you declare the Gospel. Just preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) to human beings who, like you, need a Savior.