Audio of Stanley’s entire message was obtained by Protestia. In it, Stanley can be heard explaining that sex is for married people.
“Regarding marriage, and this feels weird even say this, just make sure everybody knows where we are. We talk about marriage, or we talk about and teach about marriage the same way Jesus and the apostles did,” Stanley said. “Every instruction in the Bible regarding marriage references or assumes a husband and a wife, a man or a woman.”
“So biblical marriage,” he added, “biblical marriage is between a man and a woman. We’ve never shied away from that we don’t change the words in order not to offend people.”
Stanley concluded his message by sharing how he has sat in “small groups of gay men (ages 35 to 65), and watched them sorrowfully cry” because they couldn’t have a family the way the Bible teaches.
Stanley added that some of the men had prayed for God to change their sexual orientation, but “God didn’t answer their prayer,” resulting in them choosing a celibate lifestyle.
Stanley then said that for other men and women, “that is not sustainable. So they choose a same-sex marriage. Not because they’re convinced it’s biblical,” but because they “chose to marry for the same reason many of us do. Love, companionship, and family. And in the end, as was the case for all of us, this is the important thing I want you to hear me say—it’s their decision.”
“Our decision,” he continued, “is to decide how we respond to their decision. Our decision as a group of local churches is how are we going to respond to their decision. And we decided 28 years ago: we draw circles; we don’t draw lines—we draw big circles.”
Stanley said, “If someone desires to follow Jesus, regardless of their starting point, regardless of their past, regardless of their current circumstances, our message has been ‘Come and see’ and ‘Come sit with me.'”
Stanley added that “this is not new. This is who we are, as we’ve always been. And this is why I love our church, and this is why I’m so extraordinarily proud of you.”
“We aren’t condoning sin,” he concluded. “We are restoring relationships and we are literally saving lives.”
This article has been updated with additional remarks from Andy Stanley.