by Roel Velema
Can a homosexual, whether practicing or not, have eternal life? Of course he or she can! If a gay or lesbian can’t come to Christ in simple faith just as they are, then neither can any practicing sinner. If practicing sinners can be saved, then so can practicing homosexuals. If practicing homosexuals who believe in the work of Christ at Calvary for them are lost, then so are we all.
However salvation is far more than eternal life, i.e. our past salvation (Eph. 2:8,9). There is also as present salvation (Rom. 5:10b) and a future salvation (Hebr. 1:14), which have to with reigning as kings in this life inwardly, and as kings in the millennium outwardly. Next to accepting Christ, there is also the aspect of walking in Christ (Col. 2:6). With the latter aspect Paul deals in 1 Corinthians 5. It is important to note as well that Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 indicates that some who were a part of (i.e., were “inside”) the body of Christ at Corinth were practicing fornicators and alcoholics and the like (1 Corinthians 5:12; see also 5:1-5; 6:15-20; 11:30). He does not question their eternal salvation, he questions their life following eternal salvation. Paul writes further in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “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.” These verses don’t deal with our past salvation but with running the spiritual race successfully. It has to, because our past salvation is not an inherited salvation. So a homosexual believer who persists in practicing homosexuality, is not running the spiritual race correctly to become an overcomer and will not have part in the overcomer’s promises in Revelation 2-3, and not to participate in their present and future aspects of salvation.
By nature we all were without hope in this world (Eph. 2:12), whether we are homosexuals or not. In Christ there is hope for every person. So, what are we to do with a new Christian who is a practicing homosexual? We treat them like any new believer. We should give them instruction, encouragement, love, attention, fellowship, and time to grow. 1 Corinthians 5:11-12 is not talking about new Christians who are in the process of breaking the habits of their old life. It is rather talking about believers who are stubbornly, defiantly, and unrepentantly walking in the ways of their former life.
The Nashville Declaration is loving in its basis, because it doesn’t want the homosexual to stay in their former life. It recognizes that God created man as Adam and Eve, not as Adam and Evert, not as Ada and Eve. The true loving Christian recognizes that whatever we may say about homosexuality, it is a corruption of God’s order of creation, and it would be unloving to affirm others in this corruption which God hates.
I agree with all that the Nashville Statement says, just as John Piper said: “With a focus on this new ethical landscape, the statement aims to help clarify Christian convictions.”
However, I see one flaw, not in the American Nashville Statement, but in the postscript of the Dutch version, where it says: “De volle overwinning over onze zondige oude natuur is weggelegd voor straks, als alle ware gelovigen eeuwig met Christus zullen zijn. Dan zijn zij met lichaam en ziel geheel aan Hem gewijd en zal Hij zijn alles en in allen” (“The full victory over our sinful old nature will reserved for later, when all true believers will be with Christ forever. Then they are completely dedicated to Him with body and soul and He will be everything and in all“).
This is a serious mistake, and I wholeheartedly oppose it, because it doesn’t put the hope of a born again homosexual in its right perspective. No believer has an old sinful nature anymore. The old man in the born again person literally doesn’t exist anymore. The old man was the joining of the spirit of man with the spirit of evil, a relationship that has been broken in Christ and emanated into the new man (cp. 1 Cor. 6:17). A believing homosexual has passed from darkness to light and his or her identity is in Christ in spirit. So homosexuality is located in the soul and generally comes in view where there occurred a disturbance in adolescence when the psycho-sexual identity is formed. A believer can sin, but not according to the old man anymore.
Every believer has to learn the difference between soul and spirit and how to walk in the Spirit who controls the soul and the body with God as Keeper. It’s unloving to encourage the homosexual to remain in his or her sexual preferences. Here there is a lesson to learn for the church as well, because she hardly has taught the difference between soul and spirit. There is a difference between the spiritual (‘pneumatikos’) man and the unspiritual (natural)(‘psuchikos’) man (1 Cor. 2:14-16). Once we begin to use the words ‘spirit’ and ‘ soul’ interchangeably, we also are forced to use the spiritual man and the unspiritual (natural) man interchangeably. I don’t know any Christian who is willing to say the latter.
So we are to focus on our identity in spirit and not on particular longings of the soul. If we focus on our identity and the One who is keeping us, God will settle us in our faith. Sins will drop away, soul and spirit will become clear, and temptation and the enemy will have been exposed. Then, walking in the Spirit will become your norm and we will see that Christ’s work solved the problem of sin. We can have full victory in this life, so don’t take it when others say this is reserved for later. Yes, we can sin, but don’t have to. And if we sin, “it is no longer I [in my deepest identity] who do it, but sin that dwells within me[‘temporally allowed to enter]” (Rom. 7:17).
So the gospel offers THE great message for the homosexual to walk in victory, but we should not deadly weaken the gospel by saying that we still have a sinful nature. That would be a corruption too!