[Updated July 29, 2021]
Sexuality is a gift from God. We’re wonderfully created with a capacity and desire for intimate relationship and companionship. We’re able to unite with another person in a way that affects us physically, emotionally and even spiritually, and God invites us to be part of the very creation process through reproduction.
But Scripture also teaches that the most intense intimacy is only intended to accompany the most intense commitment. Sex is preserved for within marriage alone (Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8). To take sexual intimacy outside of the marriage relationship is to cheapen, ruin and pervert it, and ourselves. Our marriages are to be living illustrations of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32), so they are sacred and highly significant to God.
Scripture repeatedly emphasizes that from the beginning God created us male and female (Genesis 1:27; 5:1-2; Matthew 19:4-6). The sameness of our humanity is crucial (Adam could not find a mate among the animals [Genesis 2:20]), but the difference of our genders is also vital. God created us to correspond to and complement each other—physically, emotionally and spiritually. From the beginning, and throughout the Bible, we see God’s design for sexuality: one man and one woman living in loving, marital commitment and intimacy.
God loves every person regardless of their skin color, gender, religious commitment or sexual orientation. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and that includes every person. But we are not only to be people of love, but of truth as well (John 4:24; Ephesians 4:15). In fact, to fail to speak truth is ultimately to fail to act in love. So we are committed to loving everyone, and to do this faithfully we rely on the truth of God as given to us in Scripture.
There is no biblical justification for accepting any form of homosexuality as a valid, healthy lifestyle. Homosexual behavior and desire are mentioned many times in Scripture, and without exception they are consistently prohibited as contrary to God’s design for us (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-11). This doesn’t mean we’re to be hateful, cruel or mocking toward gay people. We remember that all sin is contrary to the will of God because it destroys us and our communion with God and each other. Homosexuality is no more or less sin than any other sin. We all are born with an orientation to sin from which we cannot deliver ourselves (James 1:14-15; Romans 7:24). This sin manifests itself in many different ways in our lives, but we all need a Savior.
Sin is a cancer that rots and destroys us, and it is unloving and destructive to affirm this kind of corrosive poison in the life of another. We welcome everyone to The Orchard, but we cannot affirm what God prohibits. To affirm what God explicitly does not is neither faithful to God nor loving to other people.
Because the Bible is clear and consistent regarding the definition and nature of God’s gift of marriage, and that homosexuality is contrary to God’s design, there is no scriptural grounds for affirming any same-sex relationship as a marriage or as the basis for a family. The Orchard, and our church property, cannot be part of any activity that affirms same-sex relationships (to do so would be unfaithful and unloving), and our pastors cannot participate in any related ceremony. We also can’t encourage or endorse the attempts of some to view gender distinction as fluid and something to be changed, though our hearts go out to those personally suffering from this kind of confusion.
We cannot claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ while embracing and identifying ourselves with a lifestyle contrary to his design as revealed in Scripture. We show our faith in God—our trust that he knows us better than we ourselves—by embracing his Word as the standard for our lives (John 14:23-24).
We do recognize that sincere brothers and sisters in Christ may struggle with difficult sins, and that genuine believers can wrestle with same-sex attractions. We want the same for these precious brothers and sisters as we want for all of us: that we may be free in Christ from the control and poison of sin, and walk in newness of life in perfect harmony with God (Romans 7:24-25). We want to reach out with love, grace and compassion to anyone seeking the healing and wholeness that comes only through Christ (Galatians 6:1-3; 2 Corinthians 2:7-8). We must be ready to walk alongside those who are struggling, regardless of the variety of sin they fight against. We all rejoice in the truth that we are no longer identified by our sin, but as children of God!
Some of you were once like that.
But you were cleansed;
you were made holy;
you were made right with God
by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ
and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:11