While The Alpine Chapel does not have an official doctrinal statement on homosexuality, our public teaching and practice is based upon what the Bible teaches concerning this subject. The Alpine Chapel believes the entire Bible is God’s actual words to us. It is the true foundation that we choose to build our lives upon. We welcome all who are hungering for God into our church community, including anyone in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) communities. Perhaps unlike some churches you may be familiar with, however, I (Michael Craft), as the pastor of this church, make a distinction between homosexual behavior and homosexual orientation.
Many in our culture today have certain sexual orientations. People are so oriented for different reasons, including their life’s experiences, their up-bringing, their environment, even their genetic make-up. Such orientations are what they are, and are seldom chosen by any of us. However, behaving upon our impulses and fleshly desires, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is not something that the Bible promotes, even when those desires are our orientations. As followers of God, we are asked to “say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). Everyone who chooses to follow God, both heterosexuals as well as homosexuals, will find that sexual purity is God’s will. Within the context of a committed marriage relationship we know from the Bible that sex is a God given gift. Outside of that marriage relationship abstinence should be maintained by all. We have no record in the Bible that a marriage ever occurred between two members of the same gender. For this reason, we do not promote same gender marriage. We believe that it should not occur. Scripture clearly states that marriage is between one man and one woman.
This fact, however, does not mean that God frowns upon people having a sincere love for another person of their own gender. Let us explain: Most of the Bible was originally written in Hebrew and in Greek before it was translated into English. Whereas in English we have one single word for love, in the Greek language there are multiple words for it.
- Agape love is an unconditional love. It loves when all other types of love quit, and cares when there is no apparent reason to care. Agape is the love described in 1 Corinthians 13, and it is the radical kind of love that God has for all of us. We’re called to love one another as Christ has loved us, and that type of love is absolutely agape.
- There is also Phileo, which describes a brotherly-love. Phileo love is having tender affection toward someone. Most friendships are built on phileo love. Phileo love is that something that you see in another person that draws you to be their friend. It’s one thing to unconditionally and sacrificially love (agape) someone who you may not honestly like to be around. It’s quite another thing to unconditionally love someone who is tenderly affectionate (phileo) toward you, and you them. That is the joy of friendship! That is phileo love.
- Storge is a third word in the Greek language that means love. It usually describes the feeling one has for a pet or some other inanimate object (for example: “I love pizza” or “I love my horse”). Storge has also been used as a physical show of affection that results from a pure motive. It may be a hug, a kiss, or another expression of genuine affection.
- The last word in the Greek language to be translated love, is Eros. Eros is the fulfillment of the physical sexual desire that a husband and wife show toward each other. It is from the Greek word, eros, that we get our English word, erotic. It is a sexual type of love.
Oftentimes, those wanting the church to accept homosexual behavior will point to the relationship between David and Jonathan in Scripture. While it is true that in the Bible we can find instances where a man loved another man (as in the relationship between David and Jonathan in 1 Sam.18:1). However, this was a phileo love, in other words, it was a deep, intimate, friendship type of love. The word for David and Jonathan’s love in the Hebrew language is ahab, which was most often used to signify a powerful, intimate love between friends, as well as God’s love for His people.
As the pastor of The Alpine Chapel, I believe that for two people of the same or opposite gender to have a loving commitment to each other that is described as an agape, phileo, even a storge love, is absolutely fine. However when their love includes the behaviors found within the definition of eros and they are not married, sin occurs.
I have been in ministry since 1989. In past churches where I have been called, we had various couples attend who were in homosexual relationships. They were always welcomed and loved and many found a real church home. They were a huge part of that family of believers. As any person who committed themselves to membership and attended D.N.A. classed could do, some of these couples even served in various leadership positions within our church. (This, at times, caused quite an uproar among Christians who felt that there is no place for homosexuals in any leadership positions in the church. At times, people even chose to leave our fellowship because of their firm beliefs on this issue. For this reason, the writing you are reading now was formulated.) Those who had been, or ever would be, considered leaders of ministries in the church, were those who understood and agreed with the unique stance that we had regarding their situation. None of those couples were married and all recognized that Scripture teaches that sexual behavior (for heterosexuals or homosexuals) outside of marriage is sin. If they were serving in a ministry position at our church it was because they had a deep love for Jesus Christ, His body, and His Word. They, along with every other leader at our church, had committed to abstain from sexual behaviors of any type outlined as sin in the Bible, because their first love is Jesus. Please understand: If they were serving in leadership, the loving commitment they had for any other person could be described as an agape, phileo, or storge love, but not an eros one.
We believe Jesus came and died to save sinners, and to make a way for ALL of us to have an authentic relationship with His Father, the God of all grace and mercy. We believe the CHURCH has, for far too long, majored on the minors – least of which was pointing out people’s sins as they walked in the door, without ever entering into relationship with those very people they are so quick to judge. Our desire and heart is to love ALL who come into the doors of The Alpine Chapel. We neither preach against homosexual orientation, nor outcast self-proclaimed homosexuals. But we will speak out against homosexual behavior, when asked, we are not ashamed of the Bible and have no problem describing that there are many behaviors described as sin, that we are called to abstain from.
Once again; we do not condemn sexual orientation, but cannot condone sexual behaviors (outside of marriage as described in God’s Word). We truly seek to welcome all, of any orientation, who are hungry for God and desiring to submit to His Word, while never backing down on identifying what God’s Word calls a sin.
If you consider yourself part of the LGBTQ community, we want you to know that you are welcome at The Alpine Chapel. We will love you. We will respect you. We want to live life alongside you as we chase after God together. We will do this as we endeavor to remain true to what the Bible teaches concerning behavior that God considers sin. Understanding that we are all sinners saved by God’s amazing grace, we commit to live this stance out, always in a spirit of love, without condemning.
Pastor Michael Craft