Team taught by Pastors Evan Sharbaugh and Ryan Duffy, this workshop focused on providing loving, Biblical answers for people struggling with LGBT issues. “You don’t have to look very far to see there’s a cultural war going on,” says Sharbaugh, youth pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Sterling, Ohio. “We need to be able to say ‘here’s a loving approach,’ and we have to give them Biblical answers.”
Sharbaugh and Duffy addressed four main issues—identity, intimacy, community, and family—contrasting what culture says with what the Bible says. Since much of the LGBT movement promotes identity, the pastors paid particular attention to this point.
“Culture says identity is experienced-based, but it’s Christ and the gospel that define who and Whose we are” says Duffy, family life pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Massillion, Ohio. While today’s society would define identity as a person’s activities, Duffy was careful to point out that, as Christians, it’s the other way around: who we are defines what we do.
Culture portrays intimacy as the height of fulfillment, but it’s a self-centered fulfillment, unlike the gospel-centered love modeled in Scripture. The pastors explained that LGBT people seek out community to find affirmation and acceptance, but a sense of fulfillment and community often comes from using the spiritual gifts in the context of the church. While culture defines a family as two people who love each other working toward a common goal, this definition lacks the reflection of God’s nature, His life-giving love, and Christ’s relationship with His church.
Ultimately, the pastors taught that addressing gender identity needs to start with the gospel, because the gospel tells us who we are. “The gospel is a death certificate that unfolds into a birth certificate, providing us with a new identity. We have been issued a new name, beloved; a new address, in Christ Jesus; and a new reason to live, a holy calling.”