"For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. Purge the evil person from among you." – 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
Although I have addressed this issue many times before, allow me to speak to it one more time: the issue of how the church should view those involved in the LGBTQ+ lifestyle and manner of thinking.
Burning Hearts, like every Biblically-based church, must be welcoming towards all. Regardless of what a person may think, believe, act like or how they may appear (within reason. "Come as you are" has some limits) the church repeats the words of Isaiah 55:1 and Matthew 11:28: "Come." So if anyone should ask, "Is your church welcoming towards gays?" or "Would a transgender person feel welcomed at Burning Hearts?" my hope is that you could honestly say, "Yes." For all are welcome to come: to sing, pray, and open the scriptures with us.
But there is a vast difference between sitting in on a church service and joining a fellowship. For when one goes through the process of JOINING a church, one is saying, "This is who I am, what I believe, and to whom I submit myself." To use the language of the 1 Corinthians 5 passage quoted above, it is at this point that a person moves from being "outside" to being "inside." And while we are willing to leave the judgment of those on the outside up to God, it is the calling of the church to judge those inside.
Generally, those involved in the LGBTQ+ lifestyle are not merely advocates of that lifestyle but actively involved in it. That is, it is not a mere philosophical construct but a daily practice. How could we welcome one into membership involved in such a lifestyle? Just as the church is called upon to judge (and deal with) those involved in drunkenness, adultery, thievery or a host of other sins, the church, in this case, would be constrained by scripture to immediately begin disciplinary actions against that person that it just welcomed into membership!
In last Sunday's sermon I made the statement that what God is looking for in people is repentance, not acceptance. But acceptance has been what the LGBTQ+ community is seeking: acceptance without repentance.
Vice is a monster of so frightful mean
As to be hated; needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft – familiar with her face
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
- Alexander Pope (1699-1744)
Psalm 93:5b reads, "Holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore." To those outside the church, they may live as they please. But once one comes or seeks to come inside the church – and by that I mean the fellowship, not the building – then one is called to a holy life. And that means, for ALL OF US, a life of constant repentance.