Summer Preaching Series
August 4, 2019
“The Unforgivable Sin”
Rev. Kelly Crabbe
Ascension Lutheran Church, Littleton CO
Grace to you, and peace from God, our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen.
I first became aware of homosexuality as a 10-year-old boy. A family visited our house, a father and mother and their two sons who were in their late teens. During their visit I noticed one of the two boys acted very differently than the other. After they left our home I asked my mother about this and she decided to let me know something about that young man. He had been attacked by a homosexual man when he was a young boy and it had really affected his view of his own sexuality. He saw himself in the light of that encounter and began to live his life thinking of himself and the expression of his sexuality in those terms, with other men. I remember processing this information and thinking to myself that’s how it happens, that’s why people become homosexual, because of a traumatic attack that transforms them.
My first experience dealing with homosexuality as a Pastor was while I was serving the very first Church I was called to, while I was also serving a vacancy. In this vacancy Church I was approached by a couple of the members about some concerns they had. There were two young men who were attending the Church and these members were getting the feeling that they were in a homosexual relationship. I asked them if they had gone to these young men to bring everything into the light, as it talks about in Matthew 18:15, and so that’s why they were now coming to me? They looked at each other and then back at me and said, “No, we don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to even begin. We were hoping you’d talk to them.” Me being such an experienced, seasoned Pastor of 27 years old and having a whole year of serving a congregation under my belt, and all the knowledge from my college and seminary training on this subject, as in none at all, I said, “No problem. I’ll talk to them.” I approached the first young man and we met several times. We played tennis together, and then we talked. We met a couple more times in a restaurant and talked some more, the young man realized by God’s grace what he was doing was wrong and he moved out from living with the other young man and recommitted himself to the Lord and in service to Him. I had tried to start a dialogue with the other young man as well, but he had no interest whatsoever. In fact at one point he contacted me and let me know what a horrible and hateful person I was for interfering in his life, and I never saw him again.
The first time I experienced dealing with homosexuality in a much more personal way was when our daughter told my wife and I that she is gay. My outward response was extremely measured. I remember my exact words to our daughter. “Don’t worry, it’ll take some time, and we’ll take it slow, but we’ll work through this.” But inwardly, both my wife and I were devastated, broken-hearted, ignorant, embarrassed, feeling lost and alone. This was a moment we never anticipated and we were totally unprepared to face. What would we do?
Your Pastor asked me to speak on this subject today because of our personal dealings with this sin in our own family. And I want to say that upfront. Homosexuality is not within God’s will. He is very clear in His Word. He calls it an abomination. Please listen to Leviticus 18:22. “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” What’s the abomination here? Is it the person or the action? But this is not the ultimate sin, not by a long shot. The Bible says in Mark 3:28-30 that there is only one unforgivable sin. Here it is. “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” That alone is the unforgivable sin because it rejects the only hope we have. The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that Jesus is Lord and Savior. But when we reject that testimony of God’s Spirit, we push away the only One who has the power and authority to forgive us.
Is homosexuality a sin? Yes it is. Does it send you to Hell? I would answer no, but let me explain. Homosexuality doesn’t get me into Hell just as heterosexuality doesn’t get me into Heaven. It’s WHO my Savior is that gets me anywhere. If your savior is yourself, or your lifestyle and what you’re doing or not doing, I know where you will end up – it’s Hell. I know that I’m far from perfect, and I know you’re in the same boat as me. We’ve both got to step out of that boat. The storms of this life and the sins of our hearts will sink that boat we’re riding around in without hardly trying. By faith, and by God’s grace, you can walk on the waters of this stormy life amidst all our sins when you walk with Jesus, the only One who is perfect, the only One who could pay for your sins and mine, and He did, and who has a plan for your life, an abundant life. If your Savior is the One who died on a cross and rose again from the dead, then I know where you’re going, to Heaven. It’s not my heterosexuality or homosexuality that saves or condemns. Because both those things can lead me astray. I can have sex with someone who is not my God-given spouse, man or woman, and when I choose that, to disobey God, that leads me away from God and can eventually lead me to the conclusion I can be my own god, I can set my own rules, just like Adam and Eve did with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Yes, they ate the forbidden fruit, and that was wrong, a sin. But what they were really doing was walking away from God and becoming their own gods, with their own rules, and that destroyed them. It changed who they were. They found out quickly that their decision to go it on their own was a complete disaster.
God is God, not us. He set things up in a way that is the very best for each of us. And He warns us that when we stray from that, there are horrible consequences and eternal outcomes. But as a good Father, He didn’t want to leave us in that state. He is our Judge, but He is also our Healer and our Comforter. He doesn’t want to condemn us, He wants to connect with us. So isn’t that our goal with others as well, including those feeling the pull of homosexuality? We’re not called to crush someone who has same sex attraction. We are God’s servants to love that person. Just as we want God to have mercy on us, just as we want His love, we are also called to love the sinner and hate the sin. So we put relationship first. Look at the person not for their sexuality, but as a person who needs God, just like you do. Friendship first. Relationship first. So let’s avoid thinking and speaking in terms like US & THEM. You and I and every other sinner is the US. God is the only THEM because only our Lord is sinless. So let’s not single out same sex attraction as the worst thing ever, as we also look at our own sins and gently excuse ourselves because at least we don’t have THAT sin.
You have at least one sin that has been in your heart for a very long time. Will God reject you because you still struggle with that sin, the one you keep doing? We are born sinful, and the devil keeps tempting us until he finds a sin that really grabs us, and then he just keeps after us with that. We all have that struggle going on within us. So are we rejected by God because of that? No, that’s not the case at all. That’s why Jesus came, for the very reason that we CAN’T stop ourselves. As the Bible tells us plainly, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”(Romans 5:8). And God tells us a couple of verses later, “For while we were His enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son…” God keeps coming after you until you’re no longer lost, but found in His grace, no longer blind, but you see that He is your Savior.
So what are you called to do when it comes to homosexuality? Don’t focus on the sin, focus on the person. Love that person. Fight against putting up barriers, and that’s not always easy. Instead of words of anger, bring the truth in love. And when you mess up, soak in the waters of your Baptism and remember God’s grace is for you. And remind the same sex attracted person in your life there’s a better way. But be warned. You won’t talk that person out of that sin, or any sin, and besides, that’s not the better way. The better Way is Jesus. Let God do His work of changing the heart and renewing the mind and transforming the spirit. Your calling is to be a compassionate, caring witness of God’s love, Word and grace in His name. Amen.
FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR INSIGHT AND/OR SUPPORT
Focus on the Family (Type in Homosexuality in the search box)
For the general church member:
“Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk” by Brad Hambrick
For the family of someone who has come out:
“Homosexuality and the Christian: A Guide for Parents, Pastors and Friends” by Mark Yarhouse
“Messy Journey” by Lori Wildenberg
For the person who has same sex attraction:
“My Exodus: From Fear to Grace” by Alan Chambers
In a Group Setting
Where Grace Abounds — Free Meetings on Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm
91 E. Dartmouth Ave.
Englewood, CO 80113
Hours: Tuesday – Friday 9-5 MST
For an Individual Setting
Desert Hope Ministries
P.O. Box 461188
Denver, CO 80246
Individual Counselors and also Group Retreats
Lori Wildenberg, Counselor