Edward Welch is one of those guys who Christians need to know. He is an author, seminary professor, and Christian counselor affiliated with Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF). My friend and fellow elder Kevin considers himself a “CCEF groupie.” He and his wife schedule their vacations around the annual CCEF conference, and spend their time outside the plenary sessions tracking down good speakers. Ed Welch is one of them. He has written a number of helpful articles on the subject of homosexuality relation to the gospel. His short booklet entitled, Homosexuality: Speaking the Truth in Love, is the best introduction I am aware of to the subject from a Christian perspective. All of the booklets (including this one) published in the Resources for Changing Lives series are worthwhile. Welch’s booklet on Homosexuality is the first reading material I recommend to my friends asking about how we should think about and respond to this hot-button topic.
Published in 2000 and weighing in at a mere 37 pages, it is both sufficiently current and succinct. The author’s premise is that Bible-believing Christians not only must defend the position that homosexual activity remains a sin (despite what the culture pressures us to affirm), but “we must develop a strategy to pursue homosexuals and urge them to repentance and faith” (p. 1). The church has thought strategically about engaging all sorts of various subcultures with the gospel. Every group of people under the sun need to repent and believe the gospel of Christ. The church is full of all types of repentant sinners who left various lifestyles to follow Jesus. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
I might add that some take offense at a pastor quoting these kinds of things. How self-righteous! They should not take offense though, because I put myself in these verses too. Everyone has skeletons in the closet and sins we continue to fight against. Christians win and lose their fair share of battles against temptation. Pastors are no different.
Welch knows that strategically pursuing people who engage in homosexual behavior is easier to talk about that to actually do. “The church must consider not only what we say but how we say it” (p. 2). This is the foundation for the booklet’s message. It’s sections include:
- The How of Biblical Dialogue (beginning with repentance, humility, and listening, proceeding with something like a “love-know-speak-do” model of conversation)
- The Biblical Data (biblical texts addressing homosexuality)
- The Homosexual Response (these biblical texts do not apply to a modern understanding of homosexuality and it’s practice)
- How Should We Think Biblically? (Four common objections and the Bible’s position on each)
- Was biblical homosexuality “unnatural,” and is present homosexuality “natural”?
- Are the biblical prohibitions relevant to committed homosexual relationships?
- Are the biblical prohibitions against homosexuality part of the obsolete Old Testament ceremonial codes?
- Are the prohibitions against homosexuality an application of the command to fill the earth, which is no longer relevant in a heavily populated world?
- The Biblical Position
- Biological Causes (citing recent, as of 2000, bio-chemical studies)
- A Biblical Model of Homosexuality (from a psychological perspective)
- The Process of Change (what to realistically expect from people who begin to struggle against same-sex attraction)
It would be helpful if the section on Biological Causes were updated to include more recent scientific studies. Although the booklet’s conclusions would probably remain unchanged, the date of the cited studies (1980s, 1990s) feels dates since the seismic cultural shift on opinions and attitudes regarding homosexuality. If one were looking for a reason to discount the scientific evidence, this is where the reader would likely look.
Although certainly not the last word on the discussion (remember Welch is trying to redirect thoughts on homosexuality), it is an excellent place to start considering how the amazing news of the gospel should shape the church to speak the truth in love to, and offer the same hope of grace and new life, to our homosexual friends and neighbors.