On August 26, 2012, my Senior Pastor, Bob Selph, preached to our congregation a message entitled “The Bible and Homosexuality.” The topic was especially relevant. President Obama had publicly affirmed his support for same-sex marriage in May. Not long after that, Dan Cathy, the president of the popular fast-food restaurant “Chick-fil-A” and a Bible-believing Christian, expressed his support for traditional marriage. Former governor Mike Huckabee followed up by encouraging Christians to show their support for Cathy by patronizing his restaurants on Wednesday, August 1st. The gay and lesbian community responded by showing up at the restaurants in protest on Friday, August 3rd. So homosexuality was and has been a “hot topic” in national conversation.
Bob devotes about one-third of the sermon addressing the sin of homosexuality. He spends the other two-thirds of the sermon highlighting Christ’s redemptive posture toward homosexuals and God’s grace for overcoming the sin. He ends by exhorting the church not to conceal, not to compromise, and not to condemn but to “speak the truth in love.” Even when discussing the sinfulness of homosexuality, he points out that the bigger sin behind it is a “worship disorder” that’s at the root of all human sin. In the introduction and throughout the message, he repeatedly urged us to avoid a self-righteous attitude and to seek to reach out to the homosexual community redemptively.
Bob’s sermon probably won’t prompt a lot of “Amens” if he were to preach it at Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.1 But I believe he was faithful to the Scripture, and I think he does a fine job of modeling the kind of contextualized communication that shows sensitivity to and concern for the target audience. He emphasizes certain aspects or facets of a biblical topic more than others in keeping with the basic make up and needs of our congregation, which mainly consists of believers–most of whom already understand and affirm the Bible’s portrayal of homosexuality as sin but who need to be reminded also of God’s redemptive posture toward sinners and of their responsibility not only to “speak out” but to “reach out.”2
So I’d encourage you click on the link below and listen to the sermon. I believe it’s a timely word communicated in an effective way.
“The Bible and Homosexuality” by Bob Selph
- A local church in Kansas known for its outspoken and hateful opposition to homosexuality. Their main website is entitled, “Godhatesfags.com.” [↩]
- I argue elsewhere, “It’s not enough to study the Bible; we’ve got to exegete our audience and culture.” “All Things to All Men”: Contextualization and Church Ministry” (One of my lectures for PT 701 Church Ministry, which I hope to publish soon). Of course, it’s possible to spend too much time studying culture and not enough time studying the Bible. Arturo Azurdia refers to this as “cultural gluttony,” which is “the consequence of being missional without being theological.” But he warns of the opposite extreme: “cultural anorexia,” which is “the consequence of being theological without being missional.” Emphasis his; Connected Christianity: Engaging Culture without Compromise (Ross-shire, U.K.: Christian Focus, 2009), 25-27. In my opinion, those of us who minister in the Reformed tradition more often struggle with the latter than the former. We spend plenty of time exegeting the Hebrew and the Greek and the Puritans. But we don’t always spend a sufficient amount of time exegeting the culture into which we’re seeking to “import” the biblical message. As a result, we sometimes fail to do what John Stott describes as the task of the preacher. Namely, to build for our audience a bridge “between two worlds.” See his book on homiletics with this title: Between Two Worlds: The Challenge of Preaching Today (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982). [↩]