[A statement crafted by Paul Davison, Senior Pastor of Hastings Baptist Church, New Zealand. Adopted by the congregations of Hastings Baptist Church & Howick Baptist Church, New Zealand. Both churches are registered charities]
- God made human beings as male and female to reflect his image within creation (Gen. 1:27). It is the complementary relationship of a man and a woman that is foundational to marriage in the created order (Gen. 2:23-24). The creation account affirms that monogamous heterosexual marriage expresses God’s will and purposes for his good world.
- In Scripture marriage bears a significance which goes beyond the regulation of sexual behaviour, the bearing and raising of children, the formation of families, and the recognition of certain economic and legal rights, all of which are important. Throughout the Bible, marriage is a covenant relationship grounded in promises between a woman and a man which establishes a “one flesh” union (Gen. 2:23-24; Matt. 19:5), which in turn signifies the mystery of the union between Christ and his body, the Church (Eph. 5:22-33). The work of redemption affirms that monogamous heterosexual marriage pictures Christ’s relationship to the Church.
- All of human existence, including our sexuality, has been deeply damaged by the fall into sin (Gen. 3). We all are sinners, broken in some measure by this fall. Though Christians are rescued, reconciled, renewed and in the process of being transformed, this brokenness also affects us in that we groan, as the whole creation, eager to experience final redemption knowing at present we live in a not-yet-glorified state (Rom. 8:22-23).
- Everything, from our environment to our bodily genetic code, has been damaged by sin and the fall. Whether the same-sex attraction people experience is the product of their environment, their genetics, or another source, it is not what God intends and so does not render homosexual behaviour legitimate.
- We must carefully distinguish between same-sex attraction and homosexual acts. Temptation, including sexual attraction, is not sin. Sin is yielding to temptation. Jesus himself was tempted, yet without sin (Matt. 4:1-11, Heb. 4:15). It is not a sin to be tempted in the area of same gender sex. Jesus sympathises with our weaknesses and promises to provide a way of escape in every temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
- The Scriptures have much to say about sexual behaviour. The Apostle Paul affirms that among believers “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Eph. 5:3). All homosexual behaviour is specifically condemned as sin in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (Gen. 19:4-11 [cf. 2 Pet. 2:6-7; Jude 7]; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Judges 19:22-25; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:8-11). Some heterosexual acts are sinful, but all homosexual acts are sinful according to Scripture.
- Scripture grants two options for sexual behaviour: monogamous marital relations between one man and one woman (Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18, 21-24; Matt. 19:4-6; Mk. 10:5-8; cf. Heb. 13:4) or sexual celibacy (1 Cor. 7:7; Matt. 19:12). Either is a gift from God, given as he wills for his glory and the good of those who receive and rejoice in his gift to them.
- The gospel is full of grace and truth. It is an offer of grace and forgiveness to all sinners, including homosexuals, as well as a call to live a holy life. It empowers us in the struggle to resist sin, including the sin of homosexual practice (1 Cor. 6:9-11; 1 Thess. 4:3-8; Tit. 2:11-13).
- The 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. Celibacy and singleness are to be celebrated and affirmed within the church family.
Implications: a) All sexual relationships outside of monogamous heterosexual marriage are forbidden because they are a corruption of God’s created order and a misrepresentation of Christ’s relationship to the Church. b) Biblically, same-sex marriage is illegitimate and immoral. Neither the pastors nor buildings of CHURCH NAMEwill be used to officiate or facilitate a same-sex marriage. c) We sympathise with those who struggle with same-sex attraction, and with their families, even as we continue to encourage all Christians to live godly lives that conform to the clear teachings of Scripture.
Note: The above statement was crafted by Paul Davison, Senior Pastor of Hastings Baptist Church, New Zealand. Adopted by the congregations of Hastings Baptist Church & Howick Baptist Church, New Zealand. Howick Baptist Church ( Reg. No. CC24670 registered 22/05/08) and Hastings Baptist Church (Reg. No. CC23910 registered 06/05/08) are registered charities.
This Opinion piece was published in the Baptist Vol. 130 No. 1 February 2014. P.3.
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[Joe Fleener is Associate Pastor at the Howick Baptist Church, Auckland]