In light of the sweeping changes taking place regarding the legal definition of marriage in the United States, I would like to share the answer I recently gave to a person who visited our services and then asked via email, “What is your church’s stance regarding LGBT Christians?”
In answer to your question, at Antioch Church we believe that homosexual activity is sinful, but not homosexual orientation. In other words, we believe that individual Christians may struggle with all kinds of temptations to act in ways that are contrary to God's plan for humanity as revealed in the Bible, but that His will for each of us is that we reach out to Him in faith for the forgiveness and grace that we all need in order to live the way He has called us to live. We believe every individual (me included!) needs God’s mercy and strength in order to walk in fellowship with Him and in order to walk through the process of ever-greater conformity to His will.
We believe this is true for every one of us, no matter the particular issue or issues that we are struggling with in our lives, whether it is a matter of sexuality or anything else. We also believe Jesus has called us to love everyone regardless of where they are on their journey and to welcome every person who feels called to walk with us toward wholeness and holiness, regardless of the specific issues they struggle with. We believe we are called to help them in every way that we can as we look together to Jesus for our salvation, redemption, and transformation.
Here is the “bottom-line” of what that all means for our congregational life and ministry: If someone with same-sex orientation is looking for a church family where they will be loved, welcomed, and encouraged as they pursue an ever-deeper relationship with Jesus in conformance with Scripture in every area of life including their sexuality, they will happily find Antioch Church to be a place filled with grace, mercy, patience, and redemption instead of judgment or rejection! This includes a person who has not yet made a commitment to follow Jesus or who is not yet sure of what they believe about Him, about the authority of Scripture, or about the validity of the Gospel. We don’t just welcome believers…we also welcome seekers. We stand ready to serve everyone we can by helping them discover the truth and reality of who Jesus is and what He does as we open our hearts to Him and to the truths of God’s Word.
On the other hand, if someone with same-sex attraction is looking for a church that is prepared to back away from the perspective of the Scriptures regarding this issue or any other, perhaps because of evolving societal norms or prevailing public opinion, then they will be disappointed with who we are. In the final analysis, we will always seek to stand with historic Christianity in this essential way regarding the Bible: We consider the Scriptures to be the only infallible rule of faith and conduct for all humanity. When we are confronted with a dichotomy between what society says and what the Bible says, we will always side with Scripture. To put it another way, if we are forced to choose between following our own feelings or thoughts or wishes regarding an issue as opposed to seeking to follow clear biblical principles, at Antioch Church we will always seek to conform to God’s Word.
I trust these few words on what is obviously a vast subject, with very far-reaching implications for our personal lives and for society as a whole, and which can give rise to intense emotion in light of some of the "culture wars" that are going on in the public square, not to mention the wounds of heart and mind that people with same-sex orientation have sadly received at the hands of some who purported to act in the name of God and church, have helped to answer your question about who we are. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions you may have on this or any other subject. Teresa and I would be more than happy to meet with you sometime over a cup of coffee or a meal if you would like to discuss this or anything else. We love you and we are glad you are at Antioch Church!