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Pittsburgh pastor: Gay acceptance like a doctor ignoring 'a life-threatening disease spreading through your body'

by Jeremy Hooper

Last weekend, the congregants of Pittsburgh, PA's Three Rivers Grace Church (part of the Southern Baptist Convention) filed in to the pews for their morning worship. And when they did, they were treated to pastor Ben Reoach's thirty-nine minute sermon that equated homosexuality with the Sandusky trial and the acceptance of homosexuality to a doctor not informing a patient that he or she has a life-threatening disease:

So we meet head-on this morning the highly controversial issue of homosexuality. It’s at moments like this that we wonder how anybody Reaoch could say that the Bible is irrelevant to our lives today. Last month we heard our President go on national television and state his personal support for gay marriage. The trial of Jerry Sandusky has just reached a conclusion, with the jury finding him guilty on 45 counts of abuse. In many, many ways we can point out evidences in our society of sexual brokenness and sexual perversion. There is massive confusion in our society about gender, about marriage, about sexuality. And the Bible has something to say about it.

I want to step back and look at a couple passages in the Old Testament that speak to the issue of homosexuality, and then we’ll come back to Romans 1. But before we do that, I want to say something about how I hope that we, as a church, can address this whole topic. I want to begin by saying that men and women who are living a gay or lesbian lifestyle are welcome here, and I hope we will all demonstrate a loving compassion toward the homosexual community. Those who are living a homosexual lifestyle are welcome here, just like those who gossip are welcome here, and those who are lustful or proud or selfish or greedy.

Our aim is to speak the truth in love regarding all sin, proclaiming the hope that Jesus Christ has accomplished forgiveness for all who trust in Him. When talking about any sin, the most loving thing to do is speak the truth. Of course it’s possible to speak the truth in a harsh and unloving and unhelpful way. We don’t want to do that. But, on the other hand, it’s also possible to appear loving and kind and accepting, and yet fail to communicate the truth. And we don’t want to go down that road either. If we don’t clearly speak the truth we do everyone a grave disservice.

It would be like going to your doctor, and your doctor finds a life-threatening disease spreading through your body. But since the doctor knows it would be difficult for you to hear that news, he or she just tells you you’re all right. And you go home thinking that doctor is the nicest, kindest, most gentle person you’ve ever met. Is that loving? No, it’s wicked! It’s dishonest, untrue, and destructive.
Idolatry and Homosexuality [Sermon Audio]

Too charming, right? Too charming by half.

Reaoch goes on:

Another question that comes up in these discussions is: What if certain people are genetically prone to homosexuality? What if individuals are physically wired to have this orientation? It’s certainly true that many individuals have an attraction toward the same sex, whether their sexual confusion was triggered by sexual abuse or whether it’s connected with something in the person’s upbringing. Whatever the immediate causes are, the thing we need to remember is: we live in a fallen world. Humans are totally depraved. Our minds, our wills, our physical bodies. Therefore, appealing to the fact that some people have a disposition toward homosexuality is not an argument for condoning it. Rather, it is simply evidence of the Fall. We all have dispositions toward certain sins, but that doesn’t mean we are right in pursuing those sins. And the person inclined toward homosexuality is not right in acting on those temptations.
When a man looks to another man for sexual intimacy, or a woman to another woman—this is the breakdown of God’s design. This is the antithesis of God’s plan. So on the one, hand the beautiful sexual union of husband and wife is a portrayal of the spiritual intimacy experienced by the church in worshipping Christ. On the other hand, the sexual inversion of turning to the same sex is a portrayal of self-worship.

Homosexuality is the opposite of God’s plan for our sexuality, and it is a picture of the spiritual disorder that comes from “exchanging the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man.”

And that’s why this is a gospel issue. This is not merely a moral issue. This is not merely a social issue or a political issue.
It certainly is an important issue on all those levels, but it rises to an even higher level as well in its significance. This is a gospel issue, because God has chosen to reveal Himself and reveal His glory in our manhood and womanhood and in our sexuality. Ephesians 5 speaks of the relationship of a husband and wife as intended by God to be a display of Christ’s relationship to the church. And 1 Corinthians 6 speaks of sexual union as a pointer to the believer’s union with Christ. Not that there’s anything sexual about one’s relationship with Christ, but there are these powerful examples that God has placed in this world which point to profound spiritual realities.

The piece of the picture that Romans 1 adds is the fact that unnatural sexual behavior, homosexual activity, is a tragic rebellion against God’s design and points in the opposite direction of where our sexuality is supposed to point. Human sexuality is supposed to be part of a life-long marriage between a man and a woman, and thus it glorifies God by illustrating Christ’s eternal love for the church. When human sexuality deviates from God’s plan, it dishonors God. And specifically in the sin of homosexual behavior, this becomes an illustration of self-worship.

Idolatry and Homosexuality [Sermon Audio]

So we gays are "depraved" and "tragic," regardless of whether or not this is who we were born to be. That's not a dangerous at all thing to teach people, right?

Oh, but don't worry, LGBT people whose loved ones might hear such messages. Ya see, Mr. Reoach has a solution. LGBT folk can just "change" who they are, something parents can mold by teaching boys to be "masculine" and girls how to take care of a home:

Whatever you may be struggling with this morning, I pray that message will give you hope. I pray that you’ll repent of your sins, sexual sins and all the others as well, and that you’ll put your hope in Jesus Christ who died in our place to pay the penalty for our sins.

For the last few minutes of our time I want to address specifically those who may be struggling with homosexual temptation, and then address parents who are concerned to steer your children in the right direction when it comes to issues of manhood and womanhood.

First of all, for those who are struggling with homosexual feelings, you need to understand that there’s hope. Certain things in your life and in this fallen world have conspired to pervert your sense of masculinity and femininity. But God’s grace is powerful, and He can restore you to an appropriate view of your sexuality. Change is possible. This change must begin with forgiveness. A person must repent of these sins, just like any sin, and turn to God for forgiveness and for help in overcoming and resisting these temptations.

There are many wonderful stories of men and women who have radically departed from their gay lifestyle and have been delivered from those same-sex desires. For others, the battle continues. Homosexual attraction is an ongoing temptation for many, yet as Christians they fight those temptations with the truths of the gospel. Wesley Hill is one such man who has written his story in a book entitled Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. If you struggle with same-sex attraction, or know somebody who does, I believe this would be a very helpful book, as Wesley shares very transparently about the shame and loneliness of this struggle, but also the hope we have in Christ.

I would recommend that anyone who is wrestling with homosexual feelings seek out help from those in this church, as well as a professional biblical counselor. Don’t struggle alone. Don’t keep this a secret. There are folks who want to pray for you, hold you accountable, and be your friend. There are many great resources and conferences and accountability groups that we can help connect you with. Exodus International is a ministry dedicated to addressing this issue. Harvest USA is another great organization, with a group right here in Pittsburgh, that addresses sexual struggles of all kinds, including same-sex attraction. Please let us help you, and let us connect you with others who can help.

For parents, we need to understand the importance of providing our children with an appropriate example of masculinity and femininity. The mother needs to be a godly feminine role model for her daughters. She needs to teach her daughters how to dress modestly as a woman, how to care for a home, and how to care for children (Titus 2; 1 Peter 3). The mother should also be a living example of a submissive wife. Not a doormat, but an intelligent, respectful, competent helper for her husband. As the wife lives out these roles in the home, the daughters will be able to learn what it means to be a woman rather than a man.

And fathers need to be godly masculine role models for their sons. We need to be there for our sons, even from a very young age. Father’s, don’t neglect your children. Love them, play with them, tell them you love them, listen to them. And love your wife. Give your kids an example of sacrificial servant leadership. Be a hard worker. Be decisive, and be the leader in disciplining your kids. Don’t defer all that responsibility to your wife. Take the lead and confront your son or daughter when they’re out of line. And as you demonstrate that balance of firmness and decisiveness as well as tender love and care, your children will see what it means to be a godly man. And that will give your sons a model of what it means for them to grow up as a man rather than as a woman. And it will give your daughters a model of what to look for in a husband someday.

Idolatry and Homosexuality [Sermon Audio]

And then the congregants left the church thinking that millions of people who make up our rich human fabric are "tragic" puzzles that need to be solved by aggressive gender conformity. On to the local for pancakes and judgment, smug heterosexism ingrained for another week.

Meanwhile, a young lesbian goes homes, locks the door to her room, and cries her out. Cries for a future that she fears will always be a fight. Cries out of fear that she will be abandoned, should anyone read her journal. Cries over the fact that her honest and true attempts to have even a scintilla of feeling for someone of the opposite sex are not taking hold. Cries because she believes she was born to serve a God who considers her broken.

And I, an adult gay person who knows the truth, cry because I know that I could work every day from here until the end of my life, and I still wouldn't be able to overcome this cruel noise and reach all of this world's most vulnerable.

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