It’s June in the year 2024 and that means public life in America becomes more colorful. The colors of the rainbow are everywhere you look: on advertisements, flags, t-shirts, news articles, social media posts, and Pride Parades. Pro-LGBTQ advocates (from the US Dept. of Education to your local Walmart) are flying the rainbow flag to celebrate. Those in opposition to the ideology of Pride Month are posting their “Promise-Not-Pride” memes to battle back (which, to be fair to Walmart, will take your money if that’s the shirt you want). It’s a culture war in full swing, with an arsenal of memes on both sides. Corporate America is willing to wave the flag that makes them the most money at the moment. 

Among followers of Jesus Christ whose highest authority is scripture, some feel fearful that our culture is demanding compliance with the new sexual ethic. Some feel exhilarated to push back and fight, whether online with or with feisty co-workers and neighbors. 

Some are simply confused. Because as Christians it is 100% true that we are commanded by Our Lord Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).  Most Christians desire to genuinely live out Jesus’ love ethic. One of the issues is that we live in a day when not affirming someone’s sexual preferences is received as rejection and hate. 

If you haven’t seen some of these memes, now you have: 

It feels like a lose-lose situation. So it needs to be said over and over again. 

Christians do not hate LGBTQ people. 

Christians do not hate LGBTQ people. 

Christians do not hate LGBTQ people. 

Or, if Christians do, we certainly should not. Any hate coming from Christians is not coming from the teachings of our Lord Jesus. Christians do love our LGBTQ neighbors, and if we struggle to do so, we want to do so better. 

This is a tricky nuance, but the following is also true. 

People can disagree without rejecting and hating one another. 

People can disagree without rejecting and hating one another.

People can disagree without rejecting and hating one another. 

The Bible can be used to hurt or heal, just like a knife can be used in the hands of a murderer or a surgeon. Sometimes we should disagree with someone, using scripture to do so, because we love them. Just as it’s not loving to stand by and allow someone to walk down a dark alley when they’re likely to get mugged, it’s not loving to allow someone to walk down a path of believing untruths without a loving warning. 

Loving people the way Jesus does requires speaking truth and giving warnings. 

As followers of Jesus, there is a battle for truth in our hearts, our churches, and the public sphere. We must speak and uphold the truth of God’s Word without fear as we have opportunity. It’s not just a battle of ideology. We are talking about people. We are talking about our neighbors and family members. We are talking about some within our churches who have unwanted temptations and struggles. When talking about human sexuality, both truth and love are needed, and Spirit-led Christians can walk in both without compromise. 

CLARITY IS KINDNESS

I believe that clarity is a form of kindness. I am grateful to the Lord to be a part of a network of churches called the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches. Our mission is to “establish reproducing churches worldwide.” Our network leaders have done the hard work of crafting a statement that reflects what the Bible teaches about sexual identity, gender, marriage & human sexuality that seeks to be clear in our current cultural moment. I believe that it is full of God’s truth, expressed in a spirit of God’s love. 

This position paper reflects what our church leaders believe. However, it’s likely the case that some who attend our church might take issue with a jot or tittle of this paper. We welcome dialogue about these things in our church, and while it’d be great if we agreed on everything, that’s not realistic. 

If you are exploring Christianity, or looking for a church, know that you are welcome to visit our church whether or not you agree with our view on these important matters. Again, “People can disagree without rejecting and hating one another.” We believe and seek to practice that. 

POSITION PAPER ON SEXUAL IDENTITY, GENDER, MARRIAGE AND HUMAN SEXUALITY

This statement, drawn from Scripture as our ultimate authority, sets forth a biblical vision of human sexuality as God’s good gift. The divine design for sexual expression within the marriage commitment between a biological man and a biological woman is fundamental to the well-ordering of human society and is integral to human flourishing. We desire to articulate this ethic as moral truth binding on us all while recognizing our need for God’s grace and forgiveness in ways we fall short (1).

AFFIRMATIONS

As followers of Jesus, we are called to extend grace to all people because we, too, are sinners in need of God’s redemption. In view of the critical and lifesaving work of God’s grace in our own lives, we are called to welcome all people to our churches; we long to be in fellowship with all people, to pray with all people, to weep with all people, and to experience the joy of
transformation with all people. We should love all people and hope for the best for all people. Doing so does not compel us or challenge us to forsake our understanding of Scripture and the historical teachings of the church, including those outlined below (2).

The teachings of Scripture affirm that God intended human sexuality to be exclusively
experienced within the context of marriage, specifically between two individuals who are divinely and biologically created as male and female. Furthermore, we believe marriage to be the original and foundational institution of human society, established by God as a one-flesh, covenantal union that is life-long (until separated by death), exclusive (monogamous and faithful), and
generative (designed for reproducing and filling the earth with worshipers who reflect the glory of God), designed to picture and represent the relationship between Christ and the Church. The following affirmations flow out of our commitment to God (3) and His Word (4).

1. Sexual Identity and Gender

  • God created human beings as biologically male and female (5). The complementary, relational nature of the human race as “male and female” reflects the created order given by God when He created human beings “in His image.”(6)
  • Scripture confirms God’s perfect plan in creating humans as distinctly male and female (7), an immutable binary sexual distinction identified at birth in accordance with an individual’s biology and DNA sequencing (8). Further, the Bible is explicitly consistent in equating gender with one’s divinely-generated biological sex (9).
  • We believe that biological sex cannot be biblically changed throughout one’s lifetime. Furthermore, we believe that a refutation of one’s biological sex, change in biological sex, or identification as a gender in opposition to one’s biological sex is an offense against God and constitutes sin (10).
  • Understanding that human beings are brought into existence by God entails acknowledging that we do not possess complete autonomy over our bodies and their usage. Instead, we are called to utilize them in alignment with God’s intended design and purpose (11). As such, same-sex attraction does not distort one’s God-given sexual identity given at birth.
  • Accordingly, we recognize God’s supremacy and authority to determine, define, and express each person’s sex as demonstrated biologically at birth. We further believe that each person can and must submit to God’s sovereign will concerning their divinely-generated gender as representative of their biological sex (12). Being created either biologically male or female is a gift of God to be received with joy and consistently expressed (13).

2. Marriage and Human Sexuality

  • Scripture prescribes two paths of sexual behavior: monogamous marital relations between one man and one woman (14) or sexual celibacy (15). Either is a gift from God, given as He wills for His glory and for the good of those who receive and rejoice in His gift to them. In Scripture, monogamous heterosexual marriage bears significance beyond regulating sexual behavior. Marriage between a biological woman and man is emphatically declared in Scripture to create a “one flesh” union, (16) which in turn signifies the mystery of the union between Christ and His body, the Church (17). Thus, marriage is ordained to be a covenant grounded in promises between a man and a woman. It finds its divinely intended expression in the “one flesh” union of husband and wife and between the “one flesh” union of husband/wife and God (18).
  • All of human existence, including our sexuality, has been deeply damaged by the Fall (19). Though Christians are rescued, reconciled, renewed, and in the process of being transformed, this brokenness continues to affect us in that we groan with the whole creation, eager to experience final redemption, knowing at present we live in a not-yet- glorified state (20).
  • Temptation, including sexual attraction, is not a sin. Jesus was tempted and without sin (21). However, Jesus taught that the desire to sin is sinful (22).
  • The Scriptures say much about sexual behavior (23). The Apostle Paul affirms that among believers, “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (24). All willful homosexual behavior is condemned explicitly as sin in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (25). This includes both male and female homosexual activity, both the more passive and more active roles in homosexual practice and all varieties of homosexual acts (26).

3. Grace and Holiness

  • The gospel is full of grace and truth. It is an offer of grace and forgiveness to sinners and a call to live a holy life. It empowers believers in the struggle to resist all sexually immoral desires and practices (27).
  • The local church is to be a new community that resembles a family of brothers and sisters united in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, displaying deep relationships of love (28). Celibacy and singleness are to be celebrated and affirmed within the church family (29).

IMPLICATIONS 

This understanding of human sexuality, sexual identity, and marriage is intimately connected to foundational matters of our faith, as outlined in the FEC Articles of Faith. Therefore, we hold that any restrictions and definitions we apply to be an exercise of the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Our positions and policies are intended to help us live out faithfully the truths of God’s Word and to apply them consistently in and through the
ministries of our local churches. They will be applied in the lives of specific people, which means we must implement them relationally and pastorally with grace and truth. Based on the above biblical affirmations, we live and minister with pastoral and practical implications:

  • We will seek ways to demonstrate love while speaking truth with grace to those in our society who identify as LGBT, with gentleness, compassion, and love, while pointing them to the only hope any of us have, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • We will only authorize and recognize heterosexual marriages between two individuals in accordance with their divinely generated biological sex. We will only conduct weddings or celebrate marriages that adhere to the aforementioned definition of marriage as between one biological man and one biological woman. This will apply specifically to events held on FEC property or overseen by personnel possessing FEC credentials.
  • We will seek ways to encourage deep spiritual friendships, with a special effort to include single people. We will model the counter-cultural reality that intimate, loving relationships need not be sexual.
  • We will teach and lead with humility. Those who attempt to follow biblical mandates on sex and marriage are not immune from expressing their sexuality in sinful ways — for “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory” (30). We must always be mindful of this and humbly relate to other “image bearers,” accepting that we all are fallen creatures.
  • We will affirm that an individual’s sex at birth is intended to guide him or her in other relationships throughout life (31).
  • We will provide shepherding care for those who struggle (and their families) with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. However, as we care, we will encourage behavior that follows the clear divine teachings of Scripture. God offers all persons not only cleansing and forgiveness but healing and the power to change (32).
  • We will distinguish between same-sex attraction, sinful lust, self-selected identification, and sexual behavior. One can be tempted by sexual attraction (including same-sex attraction) or gender dysphoria yet not sin (33). God provides a way to escape every temptation (34).
  • We will acknowledge that actions and behaviors that foster sexual misalignment contradict God’s intended design and, therefore, must be seen as immoral and sinful. Any person who embraces a sexual identity other than the biological sex God gives him or her at birth acts contrary to God’s plan. Treating one’s gender as anything other than an immutable trait in accordance with their sex from birth is also contrary to God’s design for the family and other interpersonal relationships (35).
  • We will honor all people as image-bearers of God with dignity and respect. Uncaring speech, including humor which demeans, has no place in the Christian community.
  • We will not equate a committed heterosexual relationship within marriage morally with a committed homosexual relationship. According to Scripture, many heterosexual acts are sinful; all willful homosexual acts are sinful. (36)
  • We will endeavor to minister to and support those among us who struggle with same-sex attractions and gender confusion and those who have family members or others close to them who identify as LGBT.

FOOTNOTES

1. The Fellowship of Evangelical Churches (FEC) holds additional position papers on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, and Homosexuality. This paper will replace the existing paper on homosexuality upon affirmation by the delegate body.

2. This paragraph utilizes language from a sermon by Dr. Jerry P. Kulah, 2019.

3. Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37-38 4 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Deut. 32:45-47; Matt. 4:4

5. Gen. 1:27

6. Gen. 1:26-27, 5:1, 5:3, 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7; James 3:9; Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:23-24; Col. 3:10

7. As a consequence of the fall of humanity, it is possible that specific individuals can be born with a genetic variation which may lead to the development of one or more manifestations of both sexes. Such conditions, collectively referred to as intersex, are not normative.

8. Gen. 1:27, 2:18, 2:21-24, 5:2; Mark 10:6-8; I Cor. 14:33

9. Deut. 22:5; Matt. 19:12; 1 Cor. 11:3-16

10. Gen. 1:27, 1:31; Ps. 139:13-14; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Cor. 11:14-15; John 20:11-17; 1 Thess. 4:16; Heb. 8:1

11. Isa. 29:16, 10:15, 45:9; Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:13

12. Isa. 64:8; Ps. 139:13-16; James 4:7; 1 Cor. 6:20

13. Gen. 1:26-28, 2:18, 2:21-25

14. Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18, 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:5-8; cf. Heb 13:4

15. 1 Cor. 7:7; Matt. 19:12

16. Gen. 2:23-24; Matt. 19:5

17. Eph. 5:22-33

18. Prov. 2:16-17; Mal. 2:14; Eph. 5:31-32

19. Gen. 3; Rom. 3:23, 5:12

20. Rom. 8:22-23

21. Matt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:15

22. Matt. 5:27-28

23. Rom. 13:13-14; 1 Cor. 5:1-2, 6:9-10, 6:15-18; Gal. 5:16-21; 1 Thess. 4:3-8

24. Eph. 5:3

25. Gen. 19:4-1; cf. 2 Pet. 2:6-7; Jude 7; Lev. 18:22, 20:13; Judg. 19:22-25; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11

26. Those who have been victims of rape, molestation, or other predatory acts are innocent of any wrongdoing before the Lord.

27. Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Eph. 4:20-24; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Titus 2:11-13

28. 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Rom. 12:10; 1 Tim. 5:1-2

29. 1 Cor. 7:7-8

30. Rom. 3:23

31. Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-21; 1 Tim. 2:11-15; Titus 2:3-5

32. 1 Cor. 6:9-11

33. Heb. 4:15

34. 1 Cor. 10:13

35. 1 Pet. 3:7; Eph. 6:1-4

36. 1 Cor. 7:2-5; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11

(Position Paper adopted by the Fellowship of Evangelical Churches on 12/02/2023)