Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Can a Homosexual go to Heaven?

This one came in through e-mail.
Hello, Dear Pastor/Friend:

I have been thinking about something that I can't seem to come to a conclusion on by myself, and I was hoping to get some insight from you. I've been forced to grapple with a couple of issues that were brought up by a friend of mine, and I'm not sure how I feel about them, but I want to think Biblically about them.

First, my friend said she believes that there will be homosexuals in heaven. I asked her to clarify whether she meant someone who has those desires or someone who lives the lifestyle. Here is a quote from an email from her: (emphasis added)

"I did mean practicing homosexuals but don't get me wrong, I think homsexuality is a sin. I think that we are all sinners saved by grace and we do not become perfect at the moment of our salvation. We are all works in progress. If a homosexual accepts Christ as his/her Savior, God could immediately take them out of that life style but chances are it will be a process. They might not even realize for some time that they are in a sinful relationship (I personally had a hard time with this one). If they die before they are convicted of that sin, I believe they will go to heaven. This is my thoughts. "

Here was (my husband's) response to her message:

"I understand that we all still sin. But, there is something different between someone who is trying to follow Christ and someone who deliberately chooses to give in to the lusts of the flesh.

Eating is not a bad thing, but eating until you're tired is.
Drinking is not a bad thing, but drunkenness is.
Sex is not a bad thing, but sex outside of marriage is.

All these are clearly stated in the Bible, so if one claims to be a believer in Christ, they just need to have the basics and be easily convicted. If they're not convicted, their faith, at least to me, is questionable.

Romans 6 clearly explains about sin and the believer, and eternal life... heaven. I would ask Marty what he thinks."

That got me wondering how would a homosexual come to Christ and not be aware of how the Bible teaches about that. Then she said something about how they could be in a liberal church, then I said something about then maybe they don't know the real Jesus and they aren't truly saved, and so on. Then we got into a discussion about how she also believes that someone who commits suicide could also go to heaven. Or someone who only believes what they want to believe from the Bible, etc.

As I spent the next week thinking about all of this, I got very upset because I started thinking about all the sin of all the sinners in all the world, and the different ways Christians live in sin and open defiance of God, and my own sin and that I fall short. But I know God expects more from us. He says to be holy because He is holy. But when I see the body of Christ commiting acts of hatred, cruelty, selfishness, and pride (myself included), then I think about how it is by grace we have been saved, through faith, but in Romans 6 it says the wages of sin is death, and I get really confused and frustrated.

I guess after going on like this, my question is: is there anything a believer can do that could separate us from God's grace, and if there is only one unpardonable sin (blasphemy of the Holy Spirit), and anyone can get to heaven if they claim to believe in Jesus Christ, why do I feel like I struggle and fight and grow weary sometimes to try and live a life pleasing to God (and even in the Bible the description is like warfare) when there are people out there who openly sin against God but just haven't been convicted of it and they're going to heaven right alongside me (according to my friend)? Then I don't get it....

Also, if we are to be discipled by one another, why is it so hard to speak the truth in love and why is it so hard to hear the truth that is spoken in love? Is it just an American problem? Are we too self-centered to even go there?

As I type this, a Bible story comes to mind...did I just answer my own question? Or is there something more to this than I can figure out?

Matthew 20
The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

13"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'

Thanks for taking the time to read my rantings,

I will give attention to this by the weekend. But feel free to comment any of you who are interested.


Jen said...

The silence is deafening. Does this speak of how little we understand grace?

A couple things that crossed my mind. Yes, a believer who commits suicide can go to heaven. There's no automatic pass to hell for this.

Similarly, a believer who struggles and even gives in to homosexual sin would not be automatically sent to hell. Are pastors who commit adultery considered forsaken? Sexual sin seems to be more dire than other types (1 Corinthians 6:18 - "But the sexually immoral person sins against his own body"), but it is not listed among with the one sin that may exclude you from the family of believers.

One lingering question is this: Would a believer do either of these things? Certainly not one who is walking by the Spirit. So how do we aid our church family in walking with the Spirit? Jude has something to say about it:

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Here are the three responses I see in this passage:
1. Have mercy on those who are experiencing doubt (not yet in sin).
2. Talk to others who are in the midst of sin to bring them back into full fellowship with God (in sin, but still willing to be led to repentance).
3. Gently and lovingly disfellowship those who are hardened and unwilling to repent from their sin (have mercy with fear).

I witnessed the leadership of NSC enact #3 with great love. It was encouraging and edifying to watch them love a parishoner by excluding the person from fellowship because the person would not desist in committing a very specific sin. This of course after going through #1 and #2 as the person's heart was appropriate for it.

ChosenRebel said...

Great comment Jen. I spoke to the writer personnally, and did not get to post back on the blog before I left for South Dakota to pick up my son.

Your opening coment is sobering isn't it? I think the silence shows not only our (the body of Christ in general) fear over not wanting to say the wrong thing; not wanting to tackle difficult things; and not caring enough about people.

All are sad commentary on the state of the church. Then again, it may be that very few people read the blog!

Llama Momma said...

"Then again, it may be that very few people read the blog!"

We're still reading over at the Llama household. This is a hard question -- and, yes, fear of saying the wrong thing keeps me quiet more than it should.

This is such a hot issue today for so many reasons. I really like what Jen said here, and agree -- grace is for all. The issue of homosexuality seems to be particularly complicated because of the propensity that feels beyond one's control. Some who struggle sit quietly in the pew, hoping for their desires to change, only to fall into temptation (and failure) again and again.

I have several friends who fall into this category, and it is one of the most painful struggles I have witnessed.

Grant said...

Jen, I totally agree with you. Great points.

Whenever the subjects of homosexuality and drinking are brought up to me in relation to sin, I like to substitute in their place the issue of helping the poor. I don't get drunk and I don't struggle with homosexuality, but I think that helping the poor is a command even more clear in the Bible. And it's a command that I spent at least half of my Christian life ignoring to a large degree.

So, if I would have died in my first 5 years of walking with Christ, knowing that I should have been helping the poor in a regular way, would I have gone to heaven? By God's grace, I think so. And I think most Christians are likewise (at least seemingly to other Christians) ignoring some commands of God at any point of time in their life. There are a lot of things God wants us to do and be. :)

Also, not that I'm doing incredible things for the poor these days, but I do really enjoy the little semi-regular things I am doing these days.

And I think that's how it's meant to be. Pleasing God is hard, but it's meant to be good and joyful for us to follow the right way also. Sin is fun in the short-term, but eventually even here on earth it gets old. So, it's not like a serious drug user who has accepted Christ is getting his cake (the high of using drugs) and eating it too (heaven when he dies). Because, even if he truly is a Christian and going to heaven, that drug use isn't going to be a really good chocolate 'cake' while here on earth.

So, even if I'm struggling and fighting and feeling weary, I think there's still more joy on earth in living a life pursuing holiness than a life mired in open sin.

Interesting topic. Sorry if I rambled.

Jen said...

Oh, God. That we would learn to pray for, cry with, and fiercely uphold one another. Please teach us to pray, to love, and to labor. Keep us from meddling, but break us of our insulation. It is wrong. It is so wrong, Father.

ChosenRebel said...

There may not be many who read this blog, but the ones who do have some great insight. Thanks for your comments. I see little need to add more.

Let's pray that each of us in the body of Christ would be faithful to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Mt. 6:33) every day. Wisdom will surely follow, if we do.

HALFMOM said...

Oh - sometimes there are lurkers who just read and don't always leave comments.

You also might try leaving an occasional comment on the blogs of others as this serves to encourage those who blog, as you do, for the glory of Christ. It also will give their other readers some bread crumbs to find their way back to your blog as it is indeed, worth reading.

ChosenRebel said...

Helpful, thank you.