Warning the congregation he was about to preach a difficult word, J.D. Greear used his January 27, 2019 message to point out three areas he sees the church can “go wrong about homosexuality.” Preaching from Romans chapter one, Greear argues that Paul saw the sin of homosexuality on a plane with other sins such as disobeying one’s parents and spiritual pride.
“In terms of frequency of mention or the passion with which Paul talks about it, it would appear that quite a few other sins are more egregious in God’s eyes than homosexuality,” Greear states.
What the Apostle Paul Said About Homosexuality
Speaking for almost an hour, Greear walks the congregation through several passages of Romans 1 to make his case. He admitted he was nervous “all week long” to deliver this message to the congregation. Greear even acknowledged at one point he thought he would be misunderstood for what he was saying. At the start of the message, in a half-joking manner, he asked those present to turn to their neighbor and tell him or her “I’m praying for you to have the faith and humility to receive this word.”
In the second half of Romans 1 (starting at verse 18), Paul explains how humans succumbed to idolatry, exchanging God as the center of their lives for their own desires. Put another way, Greear explains, idolatry can be understood as prioritizing our desires over the Creator’s design.
One of the first things Paul points to as an example of this “corruption” as Greear calls it, is homosexuality. As a result of our decision to edge God out of his rightful, and as verse 20 implies, natural place, everything in our lives became corrupted. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised, Paul is essentially saying, when we witness or even experience corruption of sexuality such as homosexuality. Not that Paul is “picking on homosexuality,” Greear wants his listeners to know. “He is not saying that it is a worse sin than all the other sins. It’s just that if God made us in his image—male and female—then it shouldn’t surprise us that the effects of our rejection of God as the center of our life would show up in those primary relationships.”
In verses 29-31, Paul lists all the other ways humanity has become corrupted by idolatry. Greear says the sins listed fall into one of five categories: sexual disorder, economic disorder, social disorder, spiritual disorder and family disorder. He then asks a provocative question to the congregation: Which of these on this list do you identify with?
Inventors of evil
Disobedient to parents
“Nobody comes out clean in that list,” Greear says, connecting the dots for people. “The corruption manifests itself differently in different people,” Greear states, but manifest it does. For instance, all of us—whether we are homosexual or heterosexual—have experienced corrupted sexual desires.
And even though we acknowledge these desires are wrong, we are unable to stop them. It’s as if we were born with a propensity toward all of these sins. Though fearing he would be misunderstood for these words, Greear says,
In this sense, you can almost think of homosexuality as an affliction and not just a sinful choice, because for most gay people they feel like they didn’t choose those desires. Here’s what I’ve learned after two decades of pastoring: Almost every person I’ve encountered, in the church at least…who struggles with a same-sex attraction, is almost always dealing first and foremost with an unanswered prayer. ‘God, why didn’t you change this when I asked you to? God I asked you to take these desires away and you didn’t do it.’
Without this understanding, we cannot do a good job trying to help those who struggle with same-sex attraction, Greear reasons. He goes on to highlight three ways specifically the church “goes wrong” on this topic.