Is It Holiness or Hatred?
About the Guest
Gender confusion has left many in the church in a difficult situation-paralyzed by revulsion, perhaps ashamed of bigoted words spoken in haste, or simply rendered spiritually irrelevant by a casual acceptance of that which God calls sin. Crawford Loritts lays out a different path for people searching for answers on today's gender issues.
Crawford LorittsCrawford Loritts (B.S., D.Th., Philadelphia Biblical University; D.Div., Biola University) was the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. He has served as a national evangelist with the American Missionary Fellowship and the Urban Evangelistic Mission, and as Associate Director of Campus Crusade for Christ. He co-founded Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas. He is a frequent speaker for professional sports teams, including three Super Bowls and the NCAA Final Four...more
Crawford Loritts lays out a different path for people searching for answers on today’s gender issues.
Is It Holiness or Hatred?
Bob: More than anything else—your gay friend, family member, coworker needs to move—not from homosexuality to heterosexuality—but from unbelief to belief. Here’s Dr. Crawford Loritts.
Crawford: If we really believe that gay people could be transformed by Christ, we wouldn’t talk about them to such dismissive and even hurtful ways. We wouldn’t let our language and demeanor communicate a lack of value. Now, we cannot change and transform people. Only God can do that, but God is relentless in His love for us. His love is a transforming love. It identifies with who we are, but it doesn’t allow us to stay where we are. God’s love in the Scripture demands change.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, March 1st.
Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. “What should you say to a friend / a loved one who is gay? When do you say it?” and “How do you say it?” We’ll hear from Dr. Crawford Loritts about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. You know, there are a lot of pastors today who—if they were facing the issue that we’re going to hear Dr. Crawford Loritts talk about today—they would think: “Maybe, we’ll switch to a different text / a different subject because this one is a little too hot to handle. I’m afraid there would be people who would be offended or who would leave the church if I preached on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality.”
Dennis: Yes, this message is entitled “God and Homosexuality.” It’s by my friend, Dr. Crawford Loritts.
Crawford and his wife Karen have been speakers at the Weekend to Remember® for a number of years. He’s on the Board of Directors of both Cru® and FamilyLife. He’s, not just a good friend; but I believe he is a truth-speaker that does it with grace, mercy, and compassion—yet, doesn’t mince words.
When I heard this message, I thought: “I want our listeners to hear this message. I want our listeners to play this for their children, their grandchildren, their adult children because we need to know how to think biblically around issues that are controversial.” We need to know how to do it, Bob, with love, and with grace, and with mercy, yet, be unwavering—standing for truth in the midst of a culture that is going to punish us, at times, when we do.
Bob: Crawford Loritts is also the pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia, which is where this message was first presented. In Part One of the message, he addressed two questions.
He talked about: “Is homosexuality wrong?” and “Did God make me this way?” If our listeners were not able to be with us for Part One of the message, you can hear that, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. We’re going to pick up today as he launches into question number three. Here is Dr. Crawford Loritts.
Crawford: I suppose I’ve already answered this question because, based upon these other two foundational things—then, if you see clearly those five texts of Scripture and what God says clearly about homosexuality, and then, what he says about identity and who we are—then, the issue of gay marriage is almost a moot question; but let me raise it anyway. I’ll just say a few things and move on.
Then: “What about gay marriage?” Well, let’s look at the vision for marriage. Genesis, Chapter 2—consistent with male / female motif and what He’s created in the very beginning—
—the highest of all of His creation / male and female. Adam is alone, and He brings Eve to him. In the beginning of verse 21, it says, “So, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib the Lord God had taken from the man He made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
It would be very easy for me to get hijacked in this text here because this is rich with implications. The very nature of marriage is anchored in sexuality—not in desire. The very nature of marriage is defined by male and female—
—the very nature of marriage is defined by opposite sex.
I think there are five implications here. The nature of marriage, number one, is the union of male and female. God takes a woman and brings her to the man and established that. Number two, it’s for procreation and multiplication. Number three, it models and affirms roles. There are distinct roles, from the very beginning, that belong to maleness and femaleness / that’s to be modeled, which kisses the fourth one. That is—models and affirms sexuality. Definition of sexuality is to be modeled from one generation to the next. And ultimately, it’s a portrait—a holy portrait / the ultimate illustration in human history of what intimacy with God looks about and what a redemptive relationship with the person and work of Jesus looks like.
That’s why he says in Ephesians, Chapter 5—it’s like a picture of Christ’s relationship with His church.
The fourth question: “Well, can I change?” Let me go to an interesting text here—2 Corinthians, Chapter 12. Paul underscores his struggle with this thorn in the flesh. I know that we / some of us here have read this many times, but I want you to listen to what Paul says here because I think it grabs a lot more of the heart of the issue that we’re talking about right now than some of us care to acknowledge or admit.
2 Corinthians, Chapter 12, beginning at verse 7 says, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me….” Don’t go past those words—
—“to harass me.” We’re not talking about your garden-variety temptation here. We’re not talking about just a little subtle urge that I can manage. We’re talking about a devastating need / an issue—“messenger from Satan to harass me to keep me from becoming conceited,”—God used it there. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
I am so glad Paul did not identify his thorn in the flesh.
It could be anything. It could be that Paul struggled with same-sex attraction—we don’t know. Paul never ever—EVER—got away from his moment-by-moment need to press into the grace of God for strength to fight this fight—whatever it was—inside of him. It was a struggle; and yet, he found hope. He didn’t yield to it / he didn’t give into it—he found hope in God’s sustaining and conquering grace.
God doesn’t always take these things away—these urges away / these desires away. He doesn’t always do that, but what He does is—He eclipses them by the power of the cross and by the presence of Jesus who walks with us in the midst of that pressure, and that temptation, and that pain, and those urges and those desires. Don’t look at me so strangely because some of you struggle with pornography / some of you struggle with other issues.
You know exactly what I’m talking about—God keeps us and God helps us.
Listen—listen, the greatest need that our gay neighbors have—the greatest issue that they struggle with is not their sexuality. The greatest issue that they struggle with is their unbelief.
Now, we cannot change or transform people—only God can do that—but God is relentless in His love for us. His love is a transforming love. It identifies with who we are, but it doesn’t allow us to stay where we are. God’s love in the Scripture demands change / God’s love in the Scriptures demands transformation. It is not a pampering love. It’s not a sentimental love.
Yes, it is unconditional / yes, it is totally accepting. You’re going to hear me say some things in a second—it is all of that. It is all of that, but God’s love expresses movement and energy toward deliverance, and help, and redemption, and change, and wholeness. We don’t help people when we affirm them in behavior that’s not right without speaking up and sharing what is right. All affirmation, without the appropriate sharing of truth, is to solidify people in disobedience and give them a false sense of hope.
Then, the fifth question is this: “What about love and community?” The Book of Hosea in the Old Testament is a fascinating book.
Hosea and his marriage was a portrait of the pursuant love of God—that looks past where we are and the messes that we’re in—and sees what we could be.
I think in Romans, Chapter 5, verse 8, that’s what Paul says. Now, listen to that verse—listen to it / listen to it. He says—this is astonishing to me that God demonstrates His love toward us—hear me on this / hear me on this—“God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet and still sinners”—and while we were yet in the mess of our sin—“Christ died for us.” So, if there is love and community, it is attached to the gospel. In other words, the message of the gospel is that God comes to get us, makes us right with Himself, and places us in community that helps us to be whole. It’s that last piece that we, as Christians, struggle with—
—God comes to get us, makes us right with Himself, and places us in community.
Unconditional love means that, despite our condition, God loves us and is in constant pursuit of us so that—here we have it—we might change. Remember, God’s love means change—God’s love means change. He comes and He pursues us so that we might change our minds about ourselves, about our sin, and about God, and that we will change as He works in us.
You see, don’t believe this lie that is repeatedly told us by the culture—it is astonishing how we believe this in the church—and that is: “If you love me and accept me, you’ll endorse my behavior.” Where in the world do you find that? You see, we can accept people for who they are; but we don’t have to accept what they do. You can accept people for who they are, but you don’t have to accept what they do.
Rosaria Butterfield wrote this book that really is an amazing book called The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. She was talking about her struggle—she was a lesbian. In fact, she was the head of Women’s Studies at Syracuse University—a brilliant woman—one of the youngest department heads of a major research university in the country. She talks about, in the early chapters of her book, her struggle with Christians and her problem that she had with Christians.
Listen to what she says—this ouches a little bit, but I’m afraid it’s true all too often—she says: “Here’s one of the deepest ways Christians scared me. The lesbian community was home, and home felt safe and secure. The people I knew the best and cared about were in that community,”—and finally—
—“The lesbian community was accepting and welcoming while the Christian community appeared exclusive, judgmental, scornful, and afraid.” No need in getting defensive because there is a lot of truth in what she says; but as the book goes on and her story goes on, things change.
So, here you have Rosaria Butterfield—celebrated, brilliant, and being sought-after all over the country—she’s genius. She would just make it her delight to mess up these young Christian students coming into her required classes there and just dismantle their mindset and their worldviews. That was part of the fun that she had—very hostile toward Christians.
Well, back in the late-90s, Promise Keepers came to Syracuse. They had this big men’s rally and this kind of thing. Thousands of guys were there. So, she was incensed, obviously.
She decided to write this op-ed for the newspaper there. She just blasted Promise Keepers. You can imagine—male domination all over again and condescending—all the garden-variety nonsense that they said about that. She just put it out there.
Well, it galvanized a lot of the Christian community. She gets this ton of mail. As she says in the book, she gets—most of the mail was like bordering on hate stuff, and just reaction, and just blasting her. Most of it didn’t even make much intellectual sense. It was just an emotional response, and they weren’t taking on her arguments. She got a pile of that stuff, and she just took that and threw it in the trash.
However, she got this one letter—she got this one letter from this pastor. She didn’t know what to do with it. He wrote her this letter, and his reasoning was compelling as he wrote. It was dripped with kindness, though.
It wasn’t dismissive whatsoever. It touched her heart—she couldn’t kind of like dismiss it. At the end of the letter, it said: “If you would be interested in carrying on these conversations, we’d love for you to stop by our house later on Sunday afternoons. My wife and I will feed you, and we’d love to just interact with you.” She kept that letter on her desk for weeks. She said a couple of times she threw it in the trash can; and then, she went and fished it out and put it back on my desk. Finally, she said: “Well, what have I got to lose? Another one of these Christians—I’ll call him / meet with me. It will be all over.”
So she calls him and comes over that Sunday afternoon. And to her surprise, they were normal people. [Laughter] They loved her, and she kept coming back. She says that they would make her angry because he wouldn’t back away from what he really believed—
—and he would justify what he believed—but they treated her with respect, and dignity, and kindness. This went on for two years.
She said she would get up on Sunday morning, get in the car, and go to the church, and drive around the parking lot, wanting to go inside the church, but not knowing whether or not they would embrace her—did that for several Sundays. Then, finally, one Sunday, she did. And she says, to her surprise, she found a community that loved her. They didn’t judge her, and God began to just melt all of that away. Two-and-a-half years into this, she surrendered her heart and life to Jesus. And by the way, the rest of the story is—she is now married to a pastor and has a family. But God did a work in her heart and life.
I want to say something to us here—you all know me.
I am who I am—and I believe in truth, and I’ll die for the truth—for this Book. I don’t think we need to back away from speaking truth to our culture, but we have some ways to go. I want you to understand—while Philip was leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ, the Apostle Paul [as Saul] was killing Christians. And I want to say this to you—and please don’t laugh because I don’t mean this humorously—but I intentionally thought about: “What is one of the strongest ways I can say this? So, here it is—the next Billy Graham could currently be a drag queen.”
What I’m saying to all of us is this: “Don’t let any issue eclipse the power of the cross to transform people. Let’s have hearts of love that engage people. You can love fearlessly and not back away from what you believe—you can do that.
“You can embrace people different than you and hold the line in terms of what you—the gospel is not that fragile—but love them we must.”
“Reach out and step toward people,”—particularly those in the gay community—step toward them / don’t step away from them—reach out.
“Remember your own fallenness and struggles.” That helps me immensely—none of us are the fourth member of the Trinity. We’ve got stuff in us. Let’s remember our own fallenness.
Thirdly: “Point to the transforming love, and forgiveness, and sufficiency of Jesus.” Hallelujah!—that He is able and He has changed us.
And the last one is: “We need to nurture and disciple them when they come here. And when they’ve come to Christ, we need to walk with them. We need to help.”
We need to be more than just talking heads when it comes to the gospel. There’s got to be a lot of gospel compassion—heart authenticity about us. We’ve got to be His hands of hope and deliverance wherever we are scattered; amen? Amen.
Bob: Well, a lot to think about today as we’ve listened to Part Two of a message from Dr. Crawford Loritts about “God and Homosexuality.”
Dennis: There are a couple of points of application, Bob, that I don’t want our listeners to miss. First of all, I think nearly all of us need to have a good dose of humility—just rightly evaluate who we are. We are all broken. We’ve all got our issues, as Crawford said; and we have no stones to throw at other people who may be broken in a different way. So, first of all, I think we have to revisit an evaluation of our own lives.
Secondly, I think we have to admit we don’t have all the answers and always don’t know what to say. We’ve got to move toward them—not out of fear / but out of faith—and be obedient to love them, and care for them, and help them deal with their wounds.
Finally, I think we have to turn the Christian community into a safe place. It’s back to what Crawford said about Rosaria Butterfield. [Before] she came to faith, she felt more comfortable where she had been than she felt in the house of God. That’s an indictment on us, as followers of Christ. We need to turn the church into a magnet / a place that draws people from all walks of life—who are all broken—because none are perfect. “All have fallen short of the glory of God,” and we need to welcome them to our churches and say: “Come on! Join the rest of us, and let’s do life together. When we fail, we’ll pick ourselves back up, and we’ll cheer one another on.”
Bob: Yes; I’m thinking about the conversation you and I had almost a year ago with Ron Citlau and Adam Barr, who have written a book called Compassion without Compromise. That’s really at the heart of their book: “How do we speak the truth in love on this issue with friends and family members?” Crawford Loritts mentioned Rosaria Butterfield’s book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. It’s a great book to help us get a picture of what that looks like because you see a couple engaging with Rosaria around this issue.
You can listen to past broadcasts, order copies of these books—there are articles available online. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for these resources and others. If you missed any of Crawford Loritts’ message on this subject, you can stream the audio. You could also get in touch with us by phone at 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, today is March 1st. It’s a big day for our friends, Ashley and Justine Benton, who live in Morganton, North Carolina. It’s an anniversary—it is number six. They were married back in 2010. They listen to FamilyLife Today on WMIT. They are not only friends of the ministry, they are Legacy Partners—so “Thank you,” to the Bentons for being partners with us, here in this ministry.
Maybe, some of you listening would like to join with the Bentons and become Legacy Partners today. You can do it easily. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “DONATE.” There is information there about becoming a Legacy Partner; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY, and you can become a Legacy Partner over the phone.
By the way, when you get in touch with us, give us your anniversary date. During 2016, we’re going to provide you with some special ideas for how your anniversary celebration can be extra special this year—
—all of this because we are the Proud Sponsor of Anniversaries. We’re celebrating 40 years as a ministry this year; but really, the anniversaries we care most about are your anniversaries and all of the anniversaries that have happened because of the way that God has used the ministry of FamilyLife Today in people’s lives for the past four decades. “Thank you,” to those of you who are partners with us; and be sure to get us your anniversary date so that we can give you some anniversary tips in 2016.
And with that, I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. Please join us back tomorrow. We will see you here for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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