It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23 KJV)
The old hymn, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, which is sung in many Protestant, Pentecostal and independent churches, is based on the above passage from Lamentations. The hymn reminds us that our God’s mercies are renewed every morning. In other words, they are always fresh, always relevant. It also reminds us of the greatness, the limitlessness, of our God’s quality of being faithful.
In the above passage from Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah — a mere youth when God called him into this ministry — is offering a testimony. In verse 21 of Lamentations 3, Jeremiah says, “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.” Many English Bibles make the unfortunate mistake of placing this at the end of a long paragraph that begins at verse one, where Jeremiah continues a long lament over what has befallen his people, Israel. But verse 21 belongs, in fact, at the beginning of a paragraph that includes verses 22 through at least verse 25. Rather than finding hope in those things of which he laments, Jeremiah finds hope in the mercy and faithfulness of his God.
What will the new millennium bring for me as an Apostolic/Pentecostal Christian of homosexual orientation? What will the new millennium bring for GLBT people of faith? Will we be welcomed openly in mainstream congregations and denominations? Will same-sex marriages receive legal sanction in the United States and become as commonplace as opposite-sex marriages?
I am what many — both within conservative evangelical Christianity and within what I call “the gay establishment” — consider an oxymoron: a conservative evangelical Christian who is also openly gay. To both sides, a homosexual cannot be a conservative evangelical Christian. Yet, this is what I am and I make no apologies for this. As another old hymn says, “Though none go with me, I still will follow.”
It appears that most conservative evangelical Christians believe homosexuality is a series of immoral behaviors which they lump together and call “the homosexual lifestyle.” And it appears the gay establishment — the vocal minority that is out on the front lines fighting for our equal rights — believes very much the same thing, though it does not consider these behaviors immoral. While bemoaning being stereotyped and demonized, the gay establishment equates the battle to be accepted within the larger society with “sexual freedom,” i.e., the right to engage in total, reckless sexual abandon. For the gay establishment, “if it feels good, it can’t be wrong.” That being the public face which the gay establishment has placed upon homosexuality, it is no wonder evangelical Christians, and much of heterosexual society, is repulsed by GLBT people.
To both sides, I say this: being homosexual is nothing more than having a sexual and emotional attraction to others of the same sex. It is not “an alternative” or “a lifestyle.” It is not a choice and cannot be changed. Further, it has no bearing on one’s moral values, political and philosophical worldview, or manner of living.
As we prepare to enter the new millennium, the seventh since our God created the heavens and the earth, I am excited about what our God is preparing to do. I am also deeply saddened by the unknowing and misguided efforts of a large vocal minority within conservative evangelical Christianity, to delay or thwart what our God is going to do. I believe much of conservative evangelical Christianity is in bondage to a false gospel it calls “family values,” and to the secular conservative movement. History has shown that whenever the Church and State get involved with each other, the Church always loses. Instead of going into all the world and preaching the gospel that was preached in the first century of the current millennium, it is preaching other, false, gospels: the messages of “only believe,” “accept Jesus into your heart,” and “family values.” The first century gospel is the one Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. He told the Jews who had witnessed the wondrous outpouring of God’s Spirit on the 120 men and women gathered in that upper room in fulfillment of a prophecy given to the prophet Joel, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Greek: “into the forgiveness of the sins of you”), “and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). That is the only gospel that we, as God’s people, are to preach (see Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15-18).
I believe in the truth of the Bible. That means I also believe in Bible prophecy. What remains to be fulfilled before the Lord returns to take His Church home to heaven where we will be married to Him, is the preaching of this first century gospel and the start of the rise of the one the Bible calls “that Wicked” and “the beast.” By focusing on family values and secular conservative politics which seeks to thwart anything that might lead to the establishment of a world government, evangelical Christians are being used by Satan to try and keep our God from accomplishing His plan.
But what does this mean as we enter the new millennium? Ultimately, our God will accomplish all that He has set out to do. Unfortunately, many who think they are serving Him by preaching family values and conservative politics will be left behind. I’ve read the end of the book: our God wins!
As I said, I believe in Bible prophecy. Commonly accepted among many conservative evangelicals, I included, is the belief that there will be a great revival just before the Lord returns to take His Church home. In a prophecy the Lord gave to Pastor Benny Hinn (yes, THE Benny Hinn) on February 28, 1989, the Lord told Pastor Hinn that the end-time revival would not begin in the large churches of America but, rather, in the living rooms of God’s people. The Lord also told Pastor Hinn that He would save and deliver a people whom Pastor Hinn believed were a plague to God personally. The Lord identified those people as “the homosexuals.” From the context of the prophecy, and Pastor Hinn’s objection to it by telling God “But Lord, you can’t do that,” it is clear that God was not talking about delivering them from homosexuality; He was not talking about ex-gay ministries. Rather, the Lord was talking about bringing homosexuals into the Church AS HOMOSEXUALS. The fulfillment of that prophecy began, as the Lord said it would, toward the end of May 1989, and continues today. Those who are fighting against what our God is doing will be left out, and left behind.
It doesn’t matter whether or not mainstream congregations and denominations welcome GLBT people. It doesn’t matter whether or not secular America grants us the same legal rights that heterosexuals have. It only matters that we, as GLBT people, obey the gospel call, fully surrender every part of who we are to Him, and carry out the work He has called His Church to do until He comes to take us home.
What does faith in the new millennium mean? It means being part of the exciting things that our God is doing, and being part of His ultimate victory over the world and Satan. “For whatsoever is born of God overcommeth the world: and this is the victory that overcommeth the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
The Lord welcomes all who will come to Him, regardless of gender or ethnic origin or sexual orientation. So what if those who claim to speak for God won’t welcome us: the Lord welcomes us. So what if the gay establishment rejects us for believing in the truth of God’s word: the Lord does not reject us. Given the choices, and the ultimate reward, I’d rather follow the Lord and be part of what He is doing. That is what I look forward to as we enter the new millennium.
Author, educator, theologian and scholar Rev. Chancellor Carlyle Roberts II was ordained a minister of the National Gay Pentecostal Alliance and has served as a pastor, Bible teacher and Sunday school teacher. He earned a bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies (religion and special education) and a graduate certificate in global studies and is the author of God in Three What? An Examination of the Use of Persons in the Trinity Doctrine, We Believe: A Commentary on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed of 381 A.D., Pure As He Is Pure: My Struggle With Homosexuality and Homesick.