Holy Sexuality: A Good Gift from God
At Transform Minnesota, we hear about a lot of prickly scenarios that our network pastors are experiencing. Scenarios regarding sexual orientation and gender identity that seminary never prepared them for. Scenarios that even 10 years ago, pastors never had to deal with:
“A married lesbian couple started coming to my church, they want their adopted children to be dedicated. Do I do this?”
“How do I guide a teen in my church who is wrestling with his own sexual orientation?”
“A man who dresses as a woman has started coming to my church and wants to attend our women’s bible study?”
Society is Directing the Conversation
Sexuality and gender identity are important and critical issues our society is wrestling with in the public sphere. And yet, it seems today’s secular culture is dictating the narrative of what is sexually permissible, leaving the Church unsure of its role.
there really isn’t a norm anymore…
“The world is writing its own script on human sexuality. They’re defining for themselves what sexuality means, what relationships mean, they’re exploring everything,” said Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota.
“It’s really popular among youth to make up their own sexuality title or their own gender title. So there really isn’t a norm anymore,” said Nate Oyloe, Director of Outpost Ministries, an organization that works with men and women wanting to walk away from unwanted same-sex attractions.
Oyloe sites Psalm 2 when the kings of the earth want to “cast off restraint.”
“They don’t want the Lord’s guidelines anymore, they don’t want His boundaries. I think we’re living in that kind of a crisis right now in our nation,” said Oyloe.
“I think one of the things that society today is elevating is that there are no rules, and so therefore the lack of rules creates a greater freedom,” said Becky Patton, a pastor and counselor who founded TruEssence, to help women and men grow toward relational wholeness.
“We’re in a sexual revolution,” said Nelson. “Any conventional norms that used to be in place, that we understood were generally good for humans, for families, and for society; today is kind of being rejected.”
Timidity Among Church Leaders
The Church is often timid when speaking about sexual orientation, gender dysphoria, and God’s design for holy sexuality.
We’re in a sexual revolution…
“In the public sphere today, I think Christians are really afraid to talk about what we believe God has designed for us, in terms of our relationships and our sexuality,” said Nelson.
But before church leaders speak, the Church needs to root its response in the truth of Genesis 1:27, that male and female were created in God’s image.
“Our children, teenagers, even adults need to understand, and have a vision of themselves, created in the image of God, that honors God with their sexuality,” said Nelson.
“God’s image rests in every single human being, I don’t care what sexual orientation is there, God’s image is still there, you cannot erase it,” said Patton.
Oyloe says truth about sexuality and identity must only be taught out of Christ’s love, described in 1 Corinthians 13:1.
a vision of themselves, created in the image of God, that honors God with their sexuality…
“I think the Church needs to gain understanding into the issues, so they’re not just a clanging gong. I think the Church needs to grow in love for the LGBT community, because it has got to be out of the overflow of that kind of love,” said Oyloe.
A Welcoming and Loving Church
“I know from my experience, there are people in the Christian faith, who are wrestling with these questions of identity. My fear is they have to wrestle with them in quiet, in silence, in solitude. With the mentality that I have to figure this out, before I can have a conversation about it,” said Patton.
But the Church best understands that our mind, body, and spirit are all connected. You can’t separate people into boxes or labels. The Church needs to love the whole person, and be willing to accept the questions that come along with inviting people struggling with their sexuality and identity into the Church. The alternative is that people struggling with these issues will go elsewhere, looking outside of the Church for answers.
“If we’re not creating safe places for people to be broken, and to be open and honest about what they’re dealing with, people are going to have the same view of the Church as a place where I’m not accepted,” said Oyloe.
they weren’t debated into the Kingdom, somebody just loved on them…
“The stories I hear of people who are coming into the Kingdom from the LGBT community, weren’t argued into the Kingdom, they weren’t debated into the Kingdom; somebody just loved on them and served them,” said Oyloe.
Attractive Vision of Holy Sexuality
We believe the Church needs to offer an attractive, good, God-honoring vision of holy sexuality.
While the world is in search of pleasure, meaning, and experiences, God has a way forward that brings health, fulfillment, and real meaning into our relationships.
human sexuality as something that can be healthy, whole, flourishing.
“We as the Church have to understand what God’s good gift of sexuality is, and help teach it to a world that’s searching for answers,” said Nelson.
Holy Sexuality Church Summit
Transform Minnesota and Bethel Seminary are hosting a Holy Sexuality Church Summit, to look into how the Church can teach and live out grace and truth in regard to sexuality. We will be offering a vision of holy sexuality that is anchored in the historic Christian position, while seeking to lead effective, compassionate ministry to all members of our society.
“Our Holy Sexuality initiative is to help pastors and church leaders be able to understand God’s vision of holy sexuality and communicate it in attractive, compelling way to their congregation, to parents in their church, to teens as they grow up in the Church,” said Nelson.
Our Holy Sexuality in Today’s World Church Summit is Thursday April 7 at Bethel University’s Anderson Center in St. Paul, with an East-Central Minnesota compact morning conference at New Hope Community Church in Cambridge. Evangelical scholar and psychologist Mark Yarhouse, Biblical scholar Paul Eddy, and pastor/counselor Becky Patton will join a panel of evangelical pastors and practitioners.
- Session I: A Biblical Theology of Human Sexuality– Paul Eddy, Bethel Seminary.
- Session II: Sexual Identity and the Church– Mark Yarhouse, Regent University.
- Session III: Understanding Gender Dysphoria– Mark Yarhouse, Regent Univeristy.
- Session IV: Holy Sexuality in Today’s World– panel discussion.
Click here to register.