I don't think anyone in the church would argue that sin requires repentance to receive grace. We also all can agree that grace is not earned by repentance but by faith.
This is the dilemma when it comes to unmarried people in sexual relationships. The Bible is abundantly clear that this is sexual immorality and this has good logical basis.
For example, who has not been "in love" with someone and had their "heart broken" even without sex being involved? How much worse is it if you gave yourselves to each other? Horrible, right?
So God gives us marriage and tells us that is how it should be. Permanent and life altering.
I can testify that life for me changed the DAY I married. It has never been the same since. Every decision I make is tempered by her needs and the same is true for me. At least if we get it right....
I suppose this is why Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband.
However, he also says:
8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.Clearly marriage is, at least impart, the cure for sexual immorality.
In fact it's so clear throughout Pauls writings that it's mentioned this way repeatedly. Take for example 1 Timothy 5:
11 ... For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. 12 Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge. 13 Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to. 14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. 15 Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.Of course, we know that marriage isn't just a cure for sexual immorality.
Mary Fairchild, on about.com, sums up the foundation of marriage account from Genesis:
We can conclude from this account in Genesis that marriage is God's idea, designed and instituted by the Creator. In these verses we also discover that at the heart of God's design for marriage is companionship and intimacy. (http://christianity.about.com/od/faqhelpdesk/i/biblemarriage.htm)Paul also draws another lesson from marriage. He talks at length about how marriage is like the relationship between Christ and the church. Take for example this passage in Ephesians 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.What's clear here is that the relationship clarity is that in marriage we learn self-sacrificing love about Jesus for the church and us to our spouses.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ecclesiastes 4 talks about how life is just BETTER when you aren't alone. Just as God said in Genesis when he saw Adam by himself.
So lets review up to this point, marriage:
- Cures loneliness
- Teaches self sacrificing love
- provides companionship and intimacy
- cures sexual immorality
Let's be really clear here, 4 out of 5 of our CHILDREN in the church have sexual relations OUTSIDE of marriage. This is only slightly less than those outside the church. (http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/27/why-young-christians-arent-waiting-anymore/). Let's also not pretend that it's a new thing. I know I did the same thing. With my wife before I married her.
I married her though and stopped sinning because, as we covered, marriage cures sexual immorality. Sex inside marriage is a divine blessing. Sex outside is a curse.
The question I pose then is if marriage has all these benefits and cures sexual immorality...then why not same sex marriage?
For the last 100 years or so we might say that it's because it's a perversion of what God intended. We might say it's because it's banned in the old testament and called a curse in the new testament. Ultimately we conclude we can't give our blessing on unrepentant sin. We might be right.
What if we aren't though?
Does same sex marriage not provide companionship, intimacy, cure loneliness, and teach self sacrificing love? Are they not capable of doing much good in the world just because even if we are fallen and flawed we are still a reflection of God. If marriage cures sexual immorality, why wouldn't God allow it for EVERYONE?
Gay people don't and most can't find the satisfaction that heterosexuals can in a relationship and almost all of them have tried to. In fact, for most, the need to find that in a relationship overcomes them just as it would for a young widower.
A recent study from the ex-gay organization Exodus international concluded with
Can we find one logical reason why someone should be denied, in Gods name, the right to follow God because of who they love?
When they go to church and are turned away because of who they love then everyone loses (God, them, and the church).
How would you feel if a Pastor looked you in the eye and told you that a murder who repents of their sin is welcome in Heaven but you are not because you don't believe you are sinning?
By the way, sinning, is missing the mark, not bad, not evil, not condemned....just off mark. That's what it means. Look, I don't know a LGBT person who would not admit that they wanted to be normal. To hit that mark. They just can't...so they want to do the right thing in Gods eyes.
When I look at the Bible it's clear that the RIGHT thing is marriage. Every Christian LGBT person should come to the conclusion that their are two right choices: Be celibate or marry the person who would otherwise bring you to sin if you know you can not be celibate.
That's the choices for heterosexuals and I am convinced GOD wants it that way for everyone.
The DAMAGE from denying same sex marriage rights is astounding.
The effects on people include death, mental illness, high rates of STDs, drugs, drinking, broken families, loss of faith, etc.
The effect on the church is that people are rejecting it because the generally held belief is that most people see it as unloving and hypocritical. Our youth more so than our elders. Worse, churches are splitting and dividing because within church roughly half of the people support same sex marriage because they have seen the issues play out with family and friends. They think the church is failing God and the people.
Paul says in 1 Timothy 4:
1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.
Maybe you have heard "Love the sinner, hate the sin" and live by it. Do you know where it comes from? Mahatma Gandhi. It's not Christian.
Maybe we need to give Gandhi a toss and pick up grace and give it. We have the authority as the church to look at the evidence, talk to the spirit, and love ABUNDANTLY.