Holy Sexuality

Exploring The Question, "What Does The Bible Say About Sexuality?".

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:00] Well, good morning. And I love our times of worship and we can really just focus our hearts on God in song and the content of the song. And then baptism today, what a beautiful picture of what God's doing in the hearts of people of different ages in the midst of our church.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:27] We've been walking through a series over the last bit around worldview, and we've called it lenses the way we see reality. So this is your first time here and you're just kind of getting in on it, it'll be easy to catch up. But what we're trying to do is just show what it looks like to see through God's lens, and through the scriptures, and really all of life, every aspect of life. And we know statistically today that in the church, that one out of ten Christians actually hold to and live out a biblical worldview, meaning they believe the Bible through and through and live out what God says in his Word. What that would mean for us today, and I realize if you're online, I'm headed into the dark, and if you're on that side, I'm in the dark also. But let's just say there are 500 people in the room, that would mean 50 people are actually living out a biblical worldview of what it means to know God, know God's word, and follow that truth. So that'd be about 50 people, it probably gets us about to the middle of this section and up. So it's great news for you because you hold the biblical worldview, and bummer for everybody else in the room. But it's in the church, like, this isn't like in our culture as a whole that we look at it and say, oh, wow, only one out of ten people that we run into anywhere hold a biblical worldview. No, In the church, people who say they're Christian, this is how many actually live out what it means in that reality. And that's one of the reasons that we've been spending our time on this because I think it's crucial to understand what is God's lens, in the way that we see things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:39] Today we're going to talk about sexuality and gender. And just a few things I want to say before we take a look at that topic. One, probably for a good portion of people today, there is a lot of pain that's tied to this topic, to sexuality, and to gender. It might be personal to you, something that's happened to you, something that you've done. It could be somebody you're related to, but there is a lot of pain and hurt with people. There's a lot of pain and hurt with the way it's talked about, and with what people understand about it, different viewpoints. And so I just want you to know, I hurt for our church, and I'm sorry for where there is that much pain for different people depending on what your experience is. And also know that God offers grace and a hope wherever that pain and hurt is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:00] The challenge was talking about something like this today, and I've found it as I've immersed myself in conversation and podcasts and books and so forth even more so, this week is just the wide variety of views on the things we'll speak of, and then the judgmental kind of aspect of it. So I know today that there will be people in the room and online that will see me as judgmental in some of the things that I say. That's not my intention at all, and I think that it's important that we have a load of grace and that we also hold to the truth of what God's design is. And so we want to have compassion with each other, a grace toward each other, as we figure things out in how we do things, and that we also anchor ourselves well to the truths of Scripture and to what God's design is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:11] I know there are people here today that this is what I've seen anecdotally over time, we hold a particular view from Scripture on sexuality and gender until someone in our family comes out and says they're gay. Or until we have a child that's struggling with their sexual identity, and they don't know if they're trans or not, they're uncomfortable in their biological body. And then it seems like we let go of what Scripture says and start embracing a different idea around these things. So I'm very aware of that and cognizant of that, and I would hope today that we can be encouraged in the Scripture, strengthened in a way that we can love well and walk well with people, while at the same time speaking truth that will actually bring freedom to people, the freedom that they're after. So that's my hope as we spend this time.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:26] I have spent time this week listening to podcasts on singleness, podcasts on parents, and how to help parents of young children talk about sexuality and gender. I've listened to interviews of people that were gay and then Christ got hold of their lives, and that's no longer the way that they identify themselves. They might still struggle with same-sex attraction, but they would no longer identify themselves as gay. I've been in correspondence with people that have de-transitioned from being transgender and now they've de-transitioned. And with just a number of other people in conversation just to...I've listened to things that are different than the way I think, I wanted to look and see how people are portraying me, not me personally, but as a Christian and as a pastor. And it's not attractive, candidly, the way I'm viewed, but it's good to know. And it's interesting because I think whatever ilk someone is in these topics; they're having the same kind of conversation perhaps that we are just from a different perspective.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:49] In one article I read, they're trying to, parents have decided they're going to raise their children in a way that they're non-binary, they won't have a gender assigned to them, and then they'll let them just later decide what that is. And I found it interesting because they're choosing television shows and movies that are diverse, and that are non-binary because they don't want their children exposed to other ideas. Now, is that any different than, as a Christian, we're trying to decide what we want to expose our children to? Depending on your view right now, are you trying to decide which shows you're, it's just we're kind of all doing the same thing except from a different worldview in the way that we that we view it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:42] And so what I hope to cheer us on today from God's word is maybe it's an encouragement to those who are walking in this worldview that is God's, and then maybe we learn something different, if it's not the view you've been walking in, and if you've drifted some off of it, maybe we can re-anchor today in it. And then I hope it stirs great conversation. If we can't be a safe haven for conversation and hard conversation, then we're missing out on what needs to happen. And here is our reality, most of us have no idea what the other person thinks about these different issues on sexuality and gender. Some husbands and wives have no idea what their spouse really thinks about these issues.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:34] Some children have no idea what their parents really think and why they think that way. Some life groups have no idea what the views are that are sitting in their group. Could we be willing to be a little uncomfortable, a little awkward, and get the real stuff on the table? And then can we in a really healthy way, as Christians, look to the Scripture and anchor ourselves well in God's truth for those conversations? That's my hope.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:07] If you turn in your Bibles to First Corinthians chapter 6, I've titled the message Holy Sexuality, and I took it right off from Christopher Yuan's book called Holy Sexuality and the Gospel. I love what he has done and the things that he's written and the way he's done it, and I'll mention that resource a few times in the message, but I just like what he's done. We've been talking about a grid on Worldview in a way to think, and everybody does not love grids like I'm doing, I totally get that. But the substance and the content of what we're talking about, it's biblical, it's what God says, it's from beginning to end, all we're trying to do is show a way that we can think biblically and theologically about any topic, and we can run it through this grid of God's big story, this narrative, any topic, and so what we're trying to teach is how we can do that. But you may have other ways that you want to do it, so go for it, we're just trying to give you a way to think about it. So we've shown this funnel, these questions, these help us understand worldview. If you answer these questions or someone else does, it'll help you understand what someone's worldview is, it'll help you understand your own. And then on the other side is God's story, and this helps us understand, as a Christian, what God's lens is and what a biblical worldview would be so that we could increase the number of 50 over there to maybe a whole room. I'm optimistic, I'm kind of an all-or-nothing guy, and that gets me in trouble, and it can be a good thing, it's a good thing if we're all in on this worldview. And so that would be my hope, that at a minimum, we can walk out of here and have a really solid dialog about it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:56] So when we think about who God is and I've said again and again, definitions matter, definitions are changing in our culture. And when we're having a conversation, I may be saying one thing and I think and this is what it means, but you're hearing that same word and it means something different to you. The word God is actually one of those things that depending on who you're talking to, we don't know what they're hearing you say or hearing me say. I don't know what you hear me say when I say God today, but I want to at least give you a shot at what I'm saying, and that when I'm talking about God, I'm talking about the God of the Bible who has made himself known in the Scriptures, he's revealed himself in creation, and he's made himself known in his word. And what we know about God is that He is a sovereign God, meaning that he's the ruler, he's in charge.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:52] As one person who, part of their story of coming to Christ was they were a gamer, an online gamer, and they were the game master. And if you want to play online on this game with the game master, he makes the rules. And if you don't want to play by the rules, then you don't play the game. And he realized that God's the same, he's the one that sets the rules, he's the one that has the design for the game. And so God is sovereign in who he is, he's in control of all that is. And God is holy, he's pure, he's unmixed with any evil in himself. And God is unchanging, his purposes, his ways, they don't shift with different cultures, different periods of time, he's unchanging. And he is true, we can know the truth today. And then God is love, and that's another important one today to define from what our culture says. It's not love is love; it's not love is just acceptance of everything. Love by biblical definition, is self-giving, it gives itself away, and it sacrifices for the benefit of another. So when we talk about love, that's what we're speaking of. Why does it matter what the attributes or character of God are? Because his design flows out of who he is. Character matters because what we do comes out of who we are. And this is who God is, and we can trust him for his design. And so God is the center, that's the lens we're thinking about and looking through.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:38] And then God created, in the first part of the Bible, so that first circle at the top that we're connected to is God connected to his creation. And in creation, this is what happened in Genesis chapter 1, verse 27. There are a number of things that took place, this is towards the end of his creative work. On day six, "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." So in this perfect environment, in God's design of creation, he created you and me and every person in the world from all time in the image of God. We are the only part of God's creation made in his image, whatever that means. We know who we are in our bodies, our minds, our thinking, our desires, and our emotions, all of it has been created in a unique way in the image of God. In the image of God then, he also created us male and female. And as Christopher Yuan, he doesn't like all the social constructs of the day, in a social construct is when we come up with what we believe something is and we're setting the pace rather than letting God determine what things are. And gender would be a social construct, and yet the biblical framework is simply male and female, and that's the way God created in his image, male and female, this is his good design. And he matched biological sex with what would today be called gender, those two match in God's design; he created us male and female, equal in value, equal in dignity, and then God has given different roles to men and two women. So he created us in his image. For that reason, every person, regardless of if they're gay, if they're an adulterer, if they're a fornicator, and I'll explain that word in a few minutes, whether they're any of those particular descriptors, they're a person to be treated with value. Every person is created with dignity, and therefore we treat every person with dignity because they're in the image of God. We value people of different faiths because they're created in the image of God. This is the reason we value and love people, they are image bearers of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:31] At West Texas A&M, the university president put out this memo, this is a paraphrase of it. He said, “We are not going to host a drag queen show that has been previously scheduled for our campus, and here's why. He said, I'm a Christian, and in Genesis 1:27, it says that "God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." We've all been created in the image of God and drag queens demean the image of God and women. I've been married for 50 years, he said, and I have daughters and granddaughters and we are not going to devalue and demean women on our campus, just like we're not going to devalue and demean black people, and we're not going to demean and devalue anyone else on our campus. Why? Because we've been created in the image of God. We are persons of value for that reason.”

Ross Sawyers: [00:18:40] Inside of this first part of God's story in creation, God also designed marriage. In Genesis 2:23 through 25, "The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife." [00:19:11]and they shall become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." God [00:19:12] designed marriage between a man and a woman, just as he created in the image of God, male and female. He designed this for companionship, and he designed this for the wife to be a help, a compliment, and a fit to the husband, this is what he describes in Genesis 2, so the two fit together and work together well. The word that's used for help there is the same word that's used for God later, that God is our help, and so it's an incredibly dignifying thing that God has done in the way he designed marriage.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:54] So in that context of creation, he designs it and there's a mystery to it. We don't totally understand why he designed it the way he did until we get to a later part of the Bible, and I'll come to that in a few minutes. But we see his design, and then anytime someone gets outside of that design, it's in opposition to who God is and the goodness of the way He created. Interestingly, Jesus, in Matthew 19 was asked a question, and he was asked a question about divorce, and he quoted two scriptures in responding to that question. He quoted Genesis 1:27 about being created in the image of God, and then he quoted Genesis 2:24 about a man and a woman being joined together in flesh in that one flesh relationship in marriage. Interesting that Jesus would put together image, man and woman, and marriage together in Matthew chapter 19, this is God's good design.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:57] What does it mean to be one flesh? That one flesh union is a coming together of two people. And as Christopher Yuan, who is single, the way he described it as it is the fusion of two people into one. So that the goal of marriage is oneness, and that fusion is not just a physical fusion, it is a oneness that is our emotions. It's a relational fusion, it's a physical fusion, it's a mental fusion. Everything is coming together as one in that husband-wife relationship. And again, we'll understand why God's design, when we see in Ephesians 5 what his intentions are for marriage. So that is in creation, and that is a good story. It is a story where humans flourish and then children are brought into the context of a home with a mother and a father, which is in contrast to our culture, which is now separated out marriage and separated out sex from marriage and separated out children from marriage. That's contrary to the design that God set up in creation. That's his good story.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:27] Now, when we look around, we realize, based on what I just said, that this is not lived out in a number of ways, in a number of places. Why is that? Well, we get into the next part of the story. And if you go to the right of God, you see a line that's broken, and we call that the fall. And in the early part after creation, sin enters into the world and now the world is broken, and it's broken in every way. We end up inheriting what we call from Scripture original sin. So that first sin is the original sin, and the way that Christopher Yuan talks about it, it's the original sin that now has been passed down and we all inherit this sin nature, and it's the original sin by which now we actually all sin. Every person inherits this sin nature. We do not inherit a good nature, we inherit a sin nature, and all sin is vile before God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:44] When we started out by saying who God is, He's a holy God, He's perfect in his purity. Therefore, any sin is a vile sin against God. It is wicked and it's vile before him. We tend to categorize, we say this sin is worse than this sin, and this sin is worse than that sin. It would be true that consequences are different, but it would not be true that this sin is any less vile than this one before a holy God. All of us are vile before God with our sinful nature in ways that we've chosen to act on that sin by choice against him. So in this broken world, what's happened is that image of God in us has now been distorted and marred, and the desires that we have been distorted and marred. And our bodies, the things we do with our bodies, have been distorted and marred and broken. All of this is a result of the fall that happens early on.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:58] Now, Christopher Yuan was helpful for me in thinking about desire. When is desire godly desire? Because we all have desires. We all have things that drive us and things we want to do with those drives. When is it a godly desire, and when is it a sinful desire? And there seems to be some debate out there on are our desires sinful or is it just the action of the desire that's sinful. And I think Christophe Yuan is spot on in what he says, "The way to think about our desires is what is the end for which those desires are for. For example, if I'm same sex attracted and my desire is to have a romantic sexual relationship with someone of the same sex, that is a sinful desire that's been distorted at the fall. If, however, I have a same-sex attraction, if I take me, for example, to another man and my desire is to have a platonic friendship with him, that is not a sinful desire, that's a good desire." If I'm opposite sex attracted and my desire is for a woman that is not my wife, then that is a sinful desire. That desire is sinful, as well as the action if I acted on that sin and had sex with another woman. Do you get that, so our desire, that happened at the fall? The original desires were all good, but now our desires are also broken, and we can easily be deceived.

Ross Sawyers: [00:26:40] Now, one thing that someone said right after Obergefell, that decision by the Supreme Court in 2015 that was helpful for me in processing what was going on, is that all of us are born with a sin nature. Now that's a contrast to what the culture is saying to us, that we're inherently good. But every person, we're equal, in our sin nature. All across the board, we're the same, but we all have different bents or expressions in the way we act out on that sin nature. You may have these 4 or 5 that are things that you act out on or have desires to do. You may have these 5 or 6, you may have these 10 or 15, but we all have different bents of sin and the way we express them. But we have no room to point a finger because all of us are equal in the sin nature, and we all sin and express that in different ways.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:43] Now, what are some of those ways? In First Corinthians chapter 6, verses 9 and 10, we see them expressed. And I want to highlight because we're talking about sexuality and gender, I want to talk about the first few that are listed. He says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" Now he's talking to the church, the believers at Corinth and he's saying there are some in the midst of the church that are unrighteous, meaning they've not been declared righteous before God yet. But they're among them, and it might be that he's really just calling into question whether they'll inherit the kingdom of God or not. And then he says, "Do not be deceived." And I really believe, it's almost like Satan has just laid a blanket of deception across our culture. Like when we hear each other talk, sometimes it's like, oh, okay, how did we get here? Well, Satan is a deceiver, and he takes things that are little and that are good, and he distorts them and twists them. And distorts distorted just a little, and before we know it, we've gotten out here with the distortion. It doesn't take long before we get way away from where we started. So Satan deceives us, and I believe today he's deceived us in many ways. One of those is that our sexual identity is our primary identity.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:15] That's a social context, we're deciding from within ourselves what our gender is and what our sexual identity is. That's a deception from Satan in trying to get us to see our identity in our sexual identity. So, "Don't be deceived; neither fornicators." I promised I would come back. I didn't promise. I said I would come back and tell you what that word is. This is probably not trending on TikTok, is my guess. The word fornicator means sex before marriage. So it's outside of God's design, it's prior to marriage. That could be casual sex, that could be open sex with multiple people, that could be cohabitation. And cohabitation among people who say they're Christians has really amped up over the last several years. Statistically, we're told, there are 17 million unmarried Americans cohabiting with a significant other, that's up from 6,000,002 decades ago. But I learned things anecdotally, I'll learn them as I talk with people, and meet with people, and I've just watched that increase over time with people who come to me and want me to do their wedding. So cohabitation, that would be a sexual sin against God, to cohabit and to be having sex together. From what I read in the scripture, that's what fornication is.

Ross Sawyers: [00:30:55] One of the things I don't know if I do it the best way or not, but when someone comes to me and they want me to do their wedding, I'll ask them, and it's sometimes, I don't know, one of the persons, usually, I don't. And it's a little uncomfortable because I'll ask them, you know, are you all having sex? You know, are you living together? And then we'll talk about it from Scripture, and I'll say the reason I'm asking this is if you want me to do the wedding, I would be honored to, but I can't do it if this is what you're going to continue to do up until the wedding. Because it will be hard for me to do what I'm doing with integrity in what I believe this wedding should be.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:42] Now, I'm great with starting right here. And if you can see this, the way God sees it, as a sin against him, repent of that, if you'll move out, not live together, and we'll help you figure out how to do that. Then it'll be an honor to do it. I've done a number of weddings that way, and it's really cool because they end up flourishing in God's story for them. Now, interestingly, in days past, the girls usually found relief when I said that because they really didn't want to be having sex with him, but they felt like they should be or they had to, to keep him. And I would watch the relief on their face, and then I would watch the guy get mad at me. Now, he held it. I'm the pastor, so he needed to be nice in front of me. And then oftentimes people would leave my office and then I would say, just let me know what you all decide, and I'd be great with how we roll. And then they would oftentimes come back, and it's like when they fire a coach today, I would get an email that said, we've decided to go a different direction. I said I understand. But I want you to know, I love those two just as much before that visit, in that visit, and in whatever it is they decide. My love for them does not change. Now, oftentimes their love for me does, and there's been many a person mad at me that has left the church because of that. But God warns about fornication, they will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:25] And then he talks about idolaters. Idolatry and sexual immorality are often tied together, it's when we're treasuring something more than God. Nor adulterers, adultery, by definition, is someone having sex that is married and having sex with someone else outside that marriage relationship. And then I think what we can include in here fairly, would be pornography, either in the fornication or the adultery realm of what we're speaking here. Now, remember desire, what is the end? Well, what is the end for pornography? And pornography is both a female and a male problem, it's not just a male issue, this is a female and a male issue. What's the end game of pornography? That's a desire that is a sinful desire.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:18] Then he moves from opposite-sex sin to same-sex sin, "Nor effeminate, nor homosexuals." So nor effeminate, in the original language of this would mean the more passive partner in a homosexual relationship. And then the homosexuals here would be the more aggressive partner in that relationship. So there's the whole realm of sexual immorality in this one verse of verse 9, and it's the whole gamut of this, one doesn't rise above the other.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:56] Rosaria Butterfield, she was a lesbian activist in the mid-90s, and a professor at Syracuse University who taught queer theory. She was taken in by a pastor and his wife, and for about five years she read through the Bible seven times. And she finally concluded after the seventh time, I want to search for truth, if I'm honest about it, I can't deny anymore that Jesus is the truth. She surrendered her life to Jesus. But she said, I always thought homosexuality was the worst sin, and as I read the Bible, I realized it's not the worst sin. As a matter of fact, the worst since she would have said is that it's pride because it's pride that leads to sexual sin. We're talking about the wrong thing when we're talking about the sexual sin, it's actually what's underneath it that's the issue.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:46] Christopher Yuan says the same thing in Holy Sexuality. He said, "I thought homosexuality was the worst sin. He said, But what is it in the Bible that's the worst sin?" And he is spot on, the only unforgivable sin in the Bible is the rejection of the Holy Spirit. And it's the Spirit who draws us into salvation with God himself. And so when we read this, we realize that all of these are sexual sins against God, and we don't want to be deceived. And then he lists a number of other things, and you think, okay, well, I got out of that one on the sexual sin.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:24] So now it's, "Nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God." But underneath all of this is that brokenness and sin, these are expressions of that sin that is underneath it. Pride and unbelief lead to these things. Now, these are practices of this, you say, what am I supposed to do here? I'm a Christian and I've done this. The question is a matter of practice, this is who people have become, They've embraced it. They're not fighting against it, they've embraced it. Christopher Yuan talks about this not being someone's identity, though, this is how you are, not who you are. But the big question that we have, really is about who we are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:24] Part of the deception today is the ideology of teaching two and three-year-olds that they are non-binary and do not have a gender. There's a curriculum developed. A boy with a penis, a girl with a vulva, showing two and three-year-olds, this is not a boy, and this is not a girl. That's a deception of the enemy, but it's gone all the way down. And the person asked the one driving this curriculum, why are you doing this? Because if we don't get it ingrained in them now, it'll be much harder later for them to abandon the idea of there being a male and a female. There is so much sexual sin all across the board, we don't have fingers to point, we look at the whole.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:33] When you look further down First Corinthians 6, I'm not going to read it, but if you read the rest of the chapter, he talks about when our people come together outside of God's design of marriage, we think it's two bodies coming together, that's how our culture talks about it, it's a power thing in a lot of ways today. But the reality is when the two come together emotionally, everything is coming together. And he warns against having sex with someone outside of who your spouse is, because every person you do that with, you are fusing yourself with them to your very core, it is not just a physical act. It's a warning, and he says to both singles and married flee, flee immorality, flee it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:31] Well, this would be a whole lot of bad news and depressing if we had to stop here, but there's more to the story. This is the reality of the story, but there's more to this story, there's a redemptive part of the story. So when we look at the grid up there, that next part of the story is the redemption that happens in Jesus Christ. In verse 11 of chapter six, it says, "Such were some of you." In the 90s there was a pastor named Dennis Jernigan, a worship pastor, and I think he grew up in a pastor's home if I remember right, and then later he decided he was gay. He lived that way for a long period of time, he came to a place where he didn't believe that was the best spot for him, but he didn't see any way out. And he was reading this passage of scripture, and he looks at verses 9 and 10, and that would get you down. But then he read verse 11, and there's a verb in there that was totally life-changing for him. It says, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.". This is what you were, you're not this any longer. For those who believe in Jesus Christ and "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." It's through what Christ did that were brought to God as the mediator. And when we believe what Jesus did for us, there is total forgiveness. And what it means here is that we're declared righteous, there's an exchange, he takes all of our sexual sins on himself and instead then gives us all of his purity in his righteousness. It's a beautiful exchange at the cross, there's a redemption for any of us who've had any kind of sexual sin. And so there's a 'were' that's possible. And then we realize, gosh, I'm a Christian, I believe that, and still, I struggle with these things. You have in you now the power of the Holy Spirit to be able to overcome the struggles, and there will be battles.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:43] And I love what Christopher Yuan says, we're not trying to save somebody from being homosexual to heterosexual. I'm not trying to save somebody from being an adulterer to not being an adulterer, don't get me wrong, it's what we would love to see happen. But that's not the primary issue, he said, the primary issue is that you and I are sinners, that's our identity. And until we are rescued by Jesus Christ and come into a relationship with him, then our identity doesn't change. But when we do come and believe Jesus, then our identity changes, now we're fused to Christ, we're one with Jesus. We have our sins taken on Him, and then we have His purity poured into and on us, that's a beautiful thing that happens at the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:39] And there's forgiveness, and he says, our sin, it's like it's thrown into the ocean, and you'll never be able to see it again. He puts it behind his back so that he can't see it. It's from the east to the west, you can't measure the east to the west, I mean, it's just gone. He's the scapegoat, he took it away, and so we're freed in him. Yes, there are battles and yes, there are struggles to come. Someone that is gay, they may still battle same-sex attraction, and someone that lusts after women other than their wives or after men other than their husbands have opposite-sex attractions, they may still battle opposite-sex attraction.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:20] The scripture says, Paul says, I die daily. It is a full-on war that's going on, we are a new person in Christ now, and we have a way to wage that war. We don't become better versions of ourselves, a better version of ourselves is just as bad as the first version of ourselves, it still has a sin nature. We don't have that anymore in Christ, we're not a better version of ourselves, we're a new creation in Christ, you're a daughter and you're a son and you're the son of a King and a citizen of his kingdom. You are invited to his table just as you are to dine with the King, you're not condemned, you're totally accepted before him, you're freed in him, there's joy in him, life in him, peace in him, we have a brand-new nature.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:09] And then there's that residue of indwelling sin that's going to fight against that new nature, and so we have this war going inside of us between the Holy Spirit who indwells us now in that new nature, against that indwelling sin. Every day is a battle, when we awaken, it's a battle. Paul said I die daily. John Owen, the Puritan said kill sin or it'll kill you. Every day we're asking God to mortify and kill the sin in us, so it doesn't kill us today, the desires, and the actions. And there's a transforming work, because now that image of God that was distorted and marred, is now made new in Christ. It's a restored image, a restored mind, a restored body in him. That's the beauty of what he did for us at the cross.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:04] Now we have connection points with people when we try to share this message with the person that is struggling with the gender dysphoria. What we can say to them is, you know what, I understand what's happening with you because I know what it is to be broken also, and you recognize something about yourself. But could I share with you a different way than puberty blockers and sex reassignment surgeries to fix the brokenness? And we all have the possibility of Christ transforming us at the cross, and that's actually what will fix what's broken in us. Could we connect there, and have that conversation?

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:53] And then when we think about the way we live life, it's not about ourselves. People will say, you know, you should be able to love who you want to love, and love is love and why can't we just let everybody love whoever they want to love? Well, by definition, that's not God's kind of love, because God's love gives itself away. And the kind of love God has called us to is Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me." It's a denying of ourselves, it's not an indulging of ourselves. So when we come to Jesus, we're denying ourselves, we've been crucified with Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:46:34] What, then, is our purpose? If we're running this through, what would be our purpose? I would say from a bodily perspective, a sexual perspective, a single perspective, and a marriage perspective, that our purpose in First Corinthians 6:19 and 20 is to glorify God, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." So we want to glorify God in every way in our bodies.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:09] Holy sexuality, to Christopher Yuan, means two things from the Bible. From a singleness perspective, it means chastity or abstinence. From a marriage perspective, it means faithfulness to the person I'm married to. From a purpose side for a single person, First Corinthians 7 is a strong chapter on thinking about singleness. Paul said, I actually prefer that everybody was like me and was single, but he recognizes that everybody won't Be. But to the single person, he says, "The way you're a beautiful picture of Christ in the church is by having undistracted devotion to the Lord.", First Corinthians 7:35.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:50] For the married person, in Ephesians 5, is to be a beautiful picture of Christ in the church. That mystery is revealed that the wife in the marriage relationship is the church, and the husband is his Christ. The husband is to lay his life down for his wife as the wife yields and follows the husband. And in that way, we're a beautiful picture of Christ in the church.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:11] But both single and married are beautiful pictures of what God is doing in the lives of his people. So our purpose, when we think about sexuality and gender, is to live out the gender that he's called us into, and then to live well in that station of life in which he's called us.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:31] The reality also in purpose is how we treat other people. Caleb Kaltenbach, in his book Messy Grace, describes his story. He was a year old, and his parents divorced. His mom was a lesbian, she lived with her partner, and the two of them started to raise Caleb. His dad never remarried, and at 16 years old, in high school Bible study, Caleb goes to it and he ends up following Jesus. At 18 years old, he learns that his dad is gay also. Now he's figuring out how do I live with a mom and a dad that are both gay when I'm a follower of Jesus, and I know the truth of what Scripture says. And he just calls it Messy Grace, it is just messy.

Ross Sawyers: [00:49:24] And it's going to be a matter of all of us as Christians leaning on the Holy Spirit and discerning with him in a matter of conscience how each of us do different things with different people, with someone in our family, if someone's brother is gay, or someone's child is gay, or someone's parent is gay, or if someone is trans, how are we going to respond to that? And it might be different, but we want to respond for sure with the love for them. Because what they believe firmly, is that from Christians, they're going to be rejected and hated. Which is often why they won't talk about it because they fear losing what those relationships are. We want to be a people that build relationships well with people, with gay people, with trans people, with people that are struggling with pornography, and we want to get inside the hurts and the pains of what each person is in. And at the same time, we don't compromise truth.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:46] In John 8, Jesus encounters an adulterous woman, and she'd been trapped by the Pharisees, they were trying to trap him. And she gets paraded out in front of everybody, all the men. And they wound up asking Jesus if she should get stoned by the law. And he said, okay, whichever one of you can throw the stone first, that hasn't sinned, then you throw it, we'll start with that. Nobody can, they all walk off. So how do we treat someone in sexual sin with dignity and value? We defend them when people are trying to do something to them that's hateful. And then Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." And we love them enough to help them escape the sin.

Ross Sawyers: [00:51:49] So we build relationships with trust, so we're able to have those conversations. How else do we live this out? We live it out by having a strong Christian community. You know, one of the hardest things for a gay person is to come out of the gay community, is the community is so strong, that they don't find that same strength in the Christian community. So we want to be a people that have a strong community, that walk well, that there's a place for all of us to come in and safely walk inside of these different things. And then, as someone said, we want to be people who learn the language, for example, of the gay community. If we'd like to see some time that someone will actually come to Christ, it'll be good for us to get away from terms we want to use and learn the things that will actually help us bridge relationships.

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:50] So one lady said, if you say out there, the homosexual, what you'll be received as is irrelevant and a hater. For the sake of the Gospel, it's okay to say someone's gay. And the goal will be different for every person, the desire would be different in what we're doing. More than anything, we just want to have a real relationship, however, they respond, that no matter what, I'm in the relationship and I'm going to love you no matter where we are. You've heard this one, hate the sin, love the sinner, bad idea.

Ross Sawyers: [00:53:32] A few years ago, Barrett and I were on a ski trip and we had an Airbnb with a man that's gay. We talked about that, and I just watched him get furious. He said I hate it when Christians say that. Do you know what the problem with that is? A gay person or a trans person, that's their identity, it's not a behavior, it's their identity. So when you say hate the sin, love the sinner, you're saying you hate them because that's their identity to them. Again, no different than if I go to another culture, I'll learn that culture so I can figure out what their language is so I can learn how to bridge and speak the things of Jesus with them. All right, that can be a little uncomfortable. But for the sake of loving someone, you might do it differently.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:26] But sometimes I wonder if we've ever had a conversation with a gay person and asked them how they're viewing things, or with a trans person, or in another realm, a Muslim person, to get outside the sexual realm. If we really had conversations with people, and saw the real pain and the real hurt, not in a way that I changed the way I understand God to see it, but in a way where I can love someone really, really well.

Ross Sawyers: [00:54:53] Well, the last piece of this story, and you've been patient with me, but I wanted to be really careful with this topic, and so thank you for that. But the new heavens and the new earth at the very end, we are moving toward something in the new heavens and the new earth, that when all this wraps up that every person that has believed Jesus, that we're going to be totally transformed, that image will be totally in sync with who God is, and all of who we are, and we're going to live in eternal singleness. Marriage is really temporary, but in eternity there will be an eternal singleness, and our oneness will be with Jesus Christ Himself, and we'll be so enamored by him that we won't desire anything else but Him in that end. That's where we're headed in the end.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:54] Well, if I could just give you a few resources, and I hope you'll work hard at some of these. So here are some websites if you want to take a picture. Christopher Yuan and Rosaria Butterfield, I've mentioned them, I just find them incredibly helpful. If you're working in a realm with those who are trans, transgendertotransform.com. And then helpforfamilies.org is a helpful site for families. Out of a Far Country is Christopher Juan's biography with his mother, it's a fascinating story of him, and his mom. Homosexuality, What Does the Bible Really Teach About It by Kevin DeYoung, it's a great and just strong resource to learn what the Bible says. Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Rosaria Butterfield, it's her story. Holy Sexuality, Christopher Yuan also has, there's a study guide in this, it would be a great study for a life group. And then he also is doing a teen curriculum for private Christian schools, and for parents to be able to do with their kids. A Transgender's Faith by Walt Heyer is helpful. Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach, I mentioned it. And then here's one example for children, and we're going to put more out there to all of our parents this week of how to help with your children and preschoolers. So hopefully some of those will be helpful. They'll be on our website, so if you didn't get that and you're interested, you can find them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:57:21] Father, thank you for our time, and it's beautiful to be able to sing your praises this morning, to see life that's been transformed in obedience and baptism. It's cool to see your design for sexuality and gender. And then, God, for ways to help us when we're broken in those realms. So God help us to be gracious and compassionate with one another, help us to be loaded with grace and anchored in truth. And, Father, that we'd just patiently love people in the way we're called to love in any given moment if it's with things that might be hard, or if it's things that we just need to listen for a bit, whatever it is, God, will you help us have a sensitivity to yourself to be able to walk well with the sexually broken, which is, shoot, probably all of us. So help us even just to have people walk well with ourselves. And so we thank you for that. Jesus, thank you for your goodness today and your forgiveness, the freedom that you bring, and the life that you offer. I'm praying in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:58:40] If we could maybe just be quiet for a minute or so and then we'll wrap up with a couple of things. But I hope this conversation will continue in the life group, that will continue in your families, and that we can just be a really safe place and that there might be transformative dialog.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051