Grounded Podcast

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A Gospel Response to Pride Month, with Stephen Black

As rainbows symbolizing gay pride decorate social media platforms and advertisements more frequently this month, how should we, as Christians, respond? Executive Director of First Stone Ministries Stephen Black helps us get to the heart of the issue as he shares about the transforming power of Christ in his own life. He’ll walk you through effective ways to form a gospel response to pride month and point you to the hope found through freedom in Jesus.

Connect with Stephen:

Facebook

Twitter: @stephenhblack

Website

Episode Notes:

“Taking Back the Rainbow” video

First Stone Ministries

“Love Your Enemies and Do Good” video teaching from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

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Program Opening

Dannah Gresh: Let's talk about those Rainbows . . . not the ones God makes in the sky. Every day at True Girl, we're getting emails and letters from moms. These are sweet women. 

Erin Davis: Is that true, or is that hyperbole? Like every day you feel like you’re talking about this constantly?

Dannah: No, every day. 

Erin: Every day.

Dannah: And that's new this particular year; that hasn't been the case all the time. This is new. Moms are stumped about how to talk to their 7- to 12-year-old girls about the celebration of homosexuality and gender fluidity that's being highlighted this month. I gotta tell you, I wish I could say when they write to True Girl, the whole team is there with every answer and every sentence just waiting to be said. Honestly, my team prays really hard with every single one of the answers we send out to encourage these women. Sometimes they send them to me because they're real stumpers; they're very personal. I feel overwhelmed at times, because this is really a difficult and controversial subject. 

Erin: Yeah, overwhelmed is one word that I can relate to relate to this subject. Frankly, I'm feeling under equipped for how do I talk about this with my Christian friends? Is one area where I'm not sure I have the language, right. I scrolled through my Instagram last week, and several friends from my church had changed the symbol around their Instagram to include the rainbow, showing their support of Pride Month. These are my Christian friends that I go to church with. 

Dannah: Yeah, I have some friends and family members with different opinions than I have as well. 

Erin: I do want to respond with something other than us versus them. Frankly I'm just so tired of everything being “everybody go to your corners, have your opinions and debate it.” I don't find that to be all that fruitful. I do also want to respond lovingly, biblically, wisely, winsomely, not react to those who I desperately want to experience the love and grace of Jesus. I am feeling, as I said, under equipped, and as you said, overwhelmed for how to have those conversations. 

Dannah: I love that—responding rather than reacting. We need to do that. We need to listen to each other. We need to hear one another's hearts. And we need to respond, not react. Love it. 

Erin: Here's another part of the conversation that I'm struggling with. Your letters that are coming to True Girl, don't surprise me a bit. Because as everybody knows, I have four boys 13 to 2. And until this year, I never had any concern, that Pride Month as it's come to be called, would even be on their radar screen. I thought, Well, we don't really have to address it. Because I don't think they even have a clue that this is a thing. But the messages have increased in intensity this year.

Dannah: Yes. I will say Pride Month showed up on my Google Calendar, the first of the month. I was like, “Why is this on my calendar?” I thought, I'll take it off. I don't know who put it there. But it was not removable, like Christmas or Thanksgiving. It was on the Google Calendar. That was a shift. I've never had that happen before. 

Erin: I wonder if that's true for me. I'll have to look that up. It probably is. I mean, my boys don't have Google calendars. But this year, I feel like some of the messages are targeted right at my young son. 

Dannah: Yes, they are. Have you seen the Blue's Clues Pride Parade video?

Erin: Well, I have seen it because you sent it to me. I was at a basketball game for my son. So, I'm in this gymnasium full of parents, full of kids of every age, and you sent me that video, and my stomach hurt. 

Dannah: Yeah.

Erin: Because I thought what I had been sensing was confirmed, that they, they are trying to send this message to my kids. 

Dannah: Yeah, and that means your littlest ones. 

Erin: My littlest ones. 

Dannah: Yeah, Blue's Clues is a program for children aged three to five. And they recently created a pride video that features a pride parade for children aged three to five.

Erin: Say it again, what age?

Dannah: Three to five.

Erin: Three to five.

Dannah: It features the vocals of a transgender individual as kind of a celebritized one—a very, very well-known one. Others have told me that it actually aired on Blue's Clues. I didn't see it on Blue's Clues. I know it's on YouTube. Here's the thing. It's aimed right at my sweet sweet grandbaby girls. 

Like you said, it was heartbreaking for me to watch. I couldn't watch it the whole way through the first time. The second time. I did. My heart was just heavy for a really long time. 

Erin: Yeah, my heart’s heavy. That's true. Hey, we know this is controversial. And that's a little bit of a departure for us. Grounded does not exist to stir up controversy. We're not here to give hot takes on current events. And if you're watching this with your kiddos on Monday mornings, we love that. But this might be one that you might want to watch at a different time because as we said, these messages are targeted. But responding to any kind of sexual sin, it is something that the Bible addresses and therefore something that we don't want to shy away from.

Dannah: You know, Erin, I gotta just my heart is still really heavy. I mean, we might sound heavy. I feel like we sound heavy. I think that's appropriate. 

Erin: Yeah, I also feel a little scattered, because it's so important to get this right. And it's not easy to do. I don't consider myself an expert at all, but we want to get it right. 

Dannah: You know, you said the Bible addresses sexual sin. The Bible also addresses human value and dignity. So, if you Google gay pride, what you're going to find is that fundamentally, that term is meant to affirm the dignity of lesbian women, a gay man, bisexual, individual transgender people. So here's what I want to say about that. We do affirm that all people have value. Every single human being is made in the image of God. 

Erin: Yeah, absolutely. And therefore, all people have value, because they have God-given value. We're going to operate from that premise. We're going to still hold the position that celebrating homosexual and transgender lifestyles is not God's best for us. We affirm that all people have dignity because they're made in the image of God. But we are going to hold on to the position that that's not God's best for us, and that it does lead to bondage. 

Dannah: I hear quite often that those two things can't coexist—that you can't value a human being and say this lifestyle that they've chosen is wrong. And I would say that that's not true. I would say that us saying this lifestyle isn't healthy for you, that we're seeing the effects of it in a lot of people's lives that are not life giving. 

And so, because we value you, we're going to tell you the truth about what God's Word says about this. And here's the other thing, why we're addressing this really tough issue today. Grounded does exist to offer a biblical perspective on current topics, and hope for those who are experiencing bondage or confusion as a result of those topics. In fact, that's why we started Grounded just a little over a year ago, because a lot of us were in bondage to the fear and anxiety of the coronavirus. 

So, there are some different kinds of emotions and results as they're happening as a result of Pride Month. We're going to go there because that's why we're here. That's why we exist, even though they're a little hard and uncomfortable for us today. So, we're going to tackle the topic of forming a gospel response to Pride Month, because we want you and others to live in Christ’s freedom.

Erin: Amen. That really is my deepest desire, why I come to Grounded every week, is because I know that Christ can set us free. I want us to experience that. I am so grateful to have our guest with us today. His name is Stephen Black. He's going to join us in just a moment. But he has a powerful story of exactly that Christ bringing freedom in this area of his own life. And I appreciate that he's willing to help us wrestle with this question: How do we wisely, winsomely respond to the message that love is love? When what we believe is that God is love. So, we hope you're going to be eager to share this.

Dannah: That’s so good, say that again. 

Here's my heart, the heart of what I want Stephen to help us with today. How am I going to respond to the message that love is love? Because that's everywhere. And I'm a Christian, I'm supposed to be an ambassador of love. So how do I respond to the message love is love, when what I believe in the very marrow of my bones, is that God is love? 

Today’s Good News Story about Rainbows

Portia Collins: Well, for a good new story today, we're gonna go back way back to the scene of some bad news. It was a worldwide flood. I gotta tell you, this really hits home, because here in Mississippi, we have been inundated with rain lately. I thought I had to get my boat out for a minute.

Dannah: Yeah, I'm gonna get my wet vac out after Grounded today. That's how much rain we've had.

Erin: Well Portia, of course, you're talking about the flood’s narrative. The flood story that is found in Genesis, and it's one of my faves. We learned it from very early on. Now, the flood part is not one of my faves. 

I was just looking at a painting of the flood this week, actually, as I was researching our guest, Stephen. Oh, it was such devastation. Of course, it wasn't a photo, it was an artist's rendering. But there was this image of a mama with her baby on her chest that had obviously perished in the flood. I just looked and looked and thought and thought about that, because it really was such devastation. 

When we teach that to our children, we kind of rush past that part and get to the dove and the good news. But I love to read that story to my kids, because there is a literal silver lining to God's judgment in that story. Actually, it wasn't silver, it was many colors. Humanity was saved because one man, Noah, and his family, were willing to live lives obedient to God. That inspires me as someone who wants to live a life obedient to God. And Genesis 6 in describing Noah says he was blameless in his generation. Talk about counter-cultural. And that is how I want to live in my own generation.

Portia: Me too. Well, I'm sure y'all already know about the art and all those animals. Some of those animals, I'm wondering like, how did they get on the Ark? Like, why would you put a cicada on?

Erin: Yeah, the cicadas are getting ready to invade.

Portia: But all of those animals on the ark, we know the story. We know that when the rains stop, God put a rainbow in the sky as a promise that he would never flood the earth again. 

Erin: Yeah, and that's some pretty big good news. But there's another rainbow in Scripture that proclaims good news. It's found in the book of Revelation. Y'all know I love the book of Revelation. It is the rainbow that right now is around Christ’s throne. 

Dannah: Oh, I would love to see that rainbow.

Erin: Someday we will.

Dannah: Yeah, that's better than good news. That's amazing news. So, what we thought today is that we'd share our favorite rainbow photos. Here's mine. This photo is a reminder to me. It's a double rainbow over Grace Prep, the high school my husband and I founded. You know how they say there's a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow arch. Yeah, look where that rainbow arch is ending right on the top of our little ministry. 

It just reminds me not just about the promises of God, but the obedience of Noah. So, this picture reminds me to be obedient to the Lord, no matter how crazy things get in our world. And look right there in the middle. I don't know if you can see. But there's this beautiful white church, right under the center of the arc. And Erin, you've said it a bunch of times, the Church is God's plan A for the world and there is no plan B. 

Erin: I love that. Well, I am a terrible iPhone photographer. I don't even try to be a good iPhone photographer. So, I texted my Uncle Jerry who is a gifted photographer of nature. His photos are always inspiring. I said, “Uncle Jer, got any rainbow photos?” He sent me about 75 Rainbow photos, and they’re all so stunning. I'm so glad I asked him; I'm gonna have him print some of these for me. Many of them are at the beach. Isn't that gorgeous? Can you believe he took that photo?

Portia: It is beautiful.

Dannah: So bright.

Erin: I just love them. And this one I really love because that is a farm near where I live. The farm girl in me loves the wheat on the side and that barbed wire fence and that gravel road. There's the rainbow that God put in the sky. You got a rainbow photo P?

Portia: Yes. And you know your photos are putting mine to shame right now. Because I am definitely the iPhone photographer. And almost every time I see a rainbow, I just have to whip out my phone. 

Dannah: Did you take that photograph while you were driving Girl? 

Erin: So, if you look at the light red light, okay.

Dannah: Okay. I just had to clarify. Children, children, do not do what Portia does.

Erin: Don’t photo and drive. I thought maybe Emmie took it.

Portia: Okay, no way. Well, you know, we believe God's Word 100%. And we know that rainbows are a reminder of God's faithfulness in keeping His promises. Right now, right this very moment, Jesus is seated on the throne with a rainbow over His head. The heavens declare His glory. And guess what? That my friends, that's some good news. 

Interview with Stephen Black on Homosexuality

Erin: Hey, Stephen Black is with us this morning. He is the executive director of First Stone Ministries, which you may recognize, that comes from John 8 where Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” (8:7) So, I feel like that reveals a lot to us already about his heart. He has a heart for pastoral care and for discipleship. I've been doing a lot of research on Stephen for this episode. I am excited about one thing in particular, I know he's going to point us to the gospel. Welcome to Grounded Stephen. 

Stephen Black: It’s so good to be on with you ladies. Thank you. 

Dannah: We are honored. Hey, I've noticed that what seems to be driving the GLBTQIA conversation. I know they keep changing, but what drives the conversation, the story. I'd love to hear your story as it relates to understanding and embracing God's plan for your sexuality.

Stephen: So 40 years ago, this last month in May, I had a little brother and a set of twins that were born. My little brother suddenly passed away on Mother's Day, May 10, 1981. That really hurled me into thinking about eternity. I had been raised Catholic, I went to Parochial school. I had knowledge of God, but I had been living as a gay man for eight years. 

Dannah: How old were you at this time, Stephen? 

Stephen: I was 20. 

Dannah: Okay.

Stephen: Yeah, 20 in 1981. And so, in my most formative years of sexual development, I was mentored into a homosexual existence. By the time I was 16, I had wheels underneath me. I was introduced into the powerful world of rich and powerful men in authority in our city. As ugly as it is I was somewhat of a boy toy for some of these men. I learned very quickly the hunger of my heart for male attention and male love came through what was sexual perversion. 

With the story, my family was devastated. It caused me, as is in Psalms 30 and Psalms 40, to cry out to the Lord. And He heard my cry. He delivered me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay. I cried out to Him, and He did hear my voice. And He answered me.

It was February 6,1983. On that Sunday night, I had been asked to go with a friend to her very religious, sister's house, Assembly of God. They were on fire for the Lord. I entered into their home. They're merely talking about Jesus in ways I had never heard—talking about Him answering their prayers coming and going from their house. And I thought these people were crazy, quite frankly. It wasn't my flavor of Christianity. 

But as I began to hear them and listen to them, something happened to me—the very power in the presence of the Spirit of God came over me. I didn't know that's what it was at the moment. But I heard this voice, my heart began to pound and race. And this voice said, “If you do not accept Me tonight, you're going to die. 

I didn't know what that meant at that time. But I do now. In 1983, we heard about a mysterious disease cropping up in all the hospitals in Oklahoma City, and that was called back then GRID, gay related immune deficiency. It became not popular to call it the gay disease and ended up changing it to the human immune virus and then AIDS. 

But that epidemic within three years killed more than half the people that I knew in the gay community in Oklahoma City. I got married three years later, after I gave my life to Christ that night. We noticed that more than half those people were dead.

But that night, when those people were talking to me about Jesus, it really struck me that I needed to know Jesus like they did. The women were all talking, and they all left the room. And I was left with this other man just sitting there. My heart's racing. I'm thinking, I need to say something. So I said to this man, “I need to know Jesus, like you all know Jesus.” 

And he jumps up out of his chair and says, “Brother, the Lord is calling you.” 

And I’m like, “Yeah, my heart is racing. I'm hearing if you don't accept Me, you're gonna die. Yes, I need to know Jesus.” 

So he prayed with me, and I felt this amazing burden lifting. Because in Catholicism, you always see the crucifix. And in Parochial school, we always went to mass on Wednesday and Friday and always saw the dead man on the cross. But I didn't realize it was the literal Creator of the universe who died to take my sins up and out of me and into His body. And that night, when he prayed, I believed in such a way that the Holy Spirit came in and started doing a rearranging immediately. 

On the way home, this girl who I had been partying with the night before, their sister asked me, “So does this mean you're not going to be gay anymore?” 

And I said, “Mary, I guess it means whatever Jesus has for me. I don't know.” 

And so, it struck me, that question did. I got home, got the big table Bible, blew the dust off, and lugged it down into my bedroom. That thing is this thick. It had all these extra pictures and lots of extra pages from the Vatican. It was the Blessed Pope Version, literally. My parents cherish this Bible. 

I prayed over this thing, and I literally flipped it open. I landed on Leviticus 18 after I had prayed over it. God, I need to know if my parents’ priests, who had been trying to seduce me and telling me it was okay to be gay, if he's wrong. I need to know the answer about this gay question. Leviticus 18:21 says a man shall not lie with a man as he does with a woman. It's an abomination. I saw that word “abomination” and as a 22-year-old man, I had no idea what that word meant. And I thought, Man, it must mean something. God really does not lie. And so that night, I made a decision. I'm surrendering to God. I don't care what it takes, I'm surrendering. 

And ladies, I must tell you, it was a miracle. It was a miracle that I would actually go to Leviticus 18. My life verse Psalms 107, verse 20, says, “He sends His word, to heal them, and to deliver them from their destruction.” And that's exactly what He did. He gave me His law. Galatians 3:24 tells us that the law of God is like a schoolmaster, leading us to Jesus. It revealed my neediness. 

I was so broken and so full of contrition. For weeks, I was so broken over the revelation of my sin. That's how you can really know if somebody is really on a path of really engaging in the holiness of God, they come to terms of understanding the depth of their sin. When you've been someone like me, and I was forgiven so much, but from that time on, I was surrendered to Jesus. I was so grateful that I was part of a Southern Baptist Church back in the 70s and 80s, that was experiencing what was called the Fullness Movement. 

They believe God for everything. So when this little, very effeminate, gay boy walked into their church, and it was a redneck country church, they were accepting and loving. The pastor mentored me. I grew just exponentially in the Scripture in that environment of a real revival that was being poured out over this little church where we literally saw miracles.

Erin: Stephen, I knew you'd point us to the gospel, and you did. I love that story. I'm paralyzed a little bit by this conversation. I want you to help us have some language for I want to call sin. Like you, I feel like it's a miracle what Jesus has done in my life—an absolute miracle. And I want everyone to experience that miracle. I don't want to compromise. But I also want to fulfill my commission to be on co-mission with Jesus to share the gospel with the loss.

So I want to call sin, sin. I want to stand on that word that transforms you, because it's transformed me. But I also know there are lost people behaving like lost people. If I just come at them with their sin, that might not be the most effective way to woo them to Jesus. There's a tension there. Could you give me some foundational principles to operate from for not compromising about God's Word and winning the lost? 

Stephen: We get this a lot. This is a question that we process with family members. We have a parent, family, and friends’ group, which is really one of our largest groups. So this is a great question. 

First of all, I ask people, Are you living an uncompromised lifestyle of integrity? My favorite Latin phrase about this issue is called Coram Deo. It's the theological term, without going into a big teaching, but it's a theological understanding that you are living like Hebrews chapter four, in the presence of His eyes, that you know that you're going to live someday in His presence with revealing your entire life. 

So if you're living in Coram Deo—now the presence of God—you're keeping your internal world checked with every motive and every intention of your heart, in holiness before God. Then you will do like what St. Francis has been attributed to Augustine of Francis which is: preach the gospel all day long, and if necessary, use words.

Romans 10 makes it very clear. We have to preach the truth by the way that we live our lives, organically in relationship. When you do that, and you're able to first and foremost present the gospel, and the revelation of the Son of God, like happened that night to me.

This is my own story. The very power in the presence of Jesus was able to reach me where I was. Steve, this other guy that led me in prayer, said, “Well, you were right for the picking, because I had been crying out to the Lord.” But there are literally thousands of people out there right now ripe for the picking, and we need to be present to them revealing the gospel by the way we live our lives.

Dannah: And one of the ways we live that is the hospitality of the church. Welcoming you into a home. Knowing probably a little bit about your life, the Southern Baptist Church loving you. Our kindness and our hospitality is a very important part of sharing the gospel, don't you think, Erin? 

Erin: Oh, absolutely. I think probably if we took the time, all three of us have stories of transformation. They probably all involve somebody living room or somebody inviting us to coffee or somebody welcoming us in while we were yet sinners. 

Dannah: Erin, you told me about a really neat video of Stephen talking about the rainbow symbol. 

Erin: Yeah, amazing.

Dannah: You've watched it a bunch of times. In fact, we're gonna drop a link so that you can watch it. I'm excited to watch it after Grounded. What's the rainbow mean to you, Stephen?

Stephen: Well, the rainbow is is definitely God's proclamation in the sky, a beauty of His love, but also His passion, which is fire. He is so magnificent in His thoughts and His feelings and His love towards us, that He put that bow in the sky to remind the earth that He will never again flood the entire earth again by water. But a lot of people miss this. They only will focus in on the Genesis story. But they're not reading the entire Bible in regard to the throne of God, the beauty of God that has a spherical rainbow. I can't even imagine that a sphere around the throne of God that is a rainbow with millions of colors. 

We have this thing out here now called the pride banner. Baker, who who was called the gay Betsy Ross, designed that to be a six-veined flag—ironically, the number of man—that would represent the diversity of sexual behavior in the gay community. It really was not about God's rainbow at all. 

When I see those banners, I'm struck with the the fear of the Lord and the brokenness that is under that banner representing a people group. In the video, Kendra asked me about vexillology, which is the study of banners and flags. God has a lot of things to actually say about banners. He has a banner over us as love. Jehovah Nissi is the banner meaning victory—that God gives us the victory. He told them to fly the banner. This particular banner, though, is not actually a rainbow. It's a pride banner, and even Mr. Baker by the end of his life, pronounced that this now shall be the banner of pride. Even the Prime Minister of Canada a couple of years ago raised it up and said, “Now I am raising up the banner of pride over the nation of Canada.” 

And so, a lot of people don't understand that this pride is what the Scripture tells us is what is the very thing that comes before destruction and pain in people's lives. This rainbow that we see at the throne of God is also an understanding that the colors of God from 10 to 12, in the natural, those numbers mean something. But in heaven, there are millions of colors. That's because He has endless love and endless holiness. 

Because of that, we cannot compromise on the issues of sexual immorality idolatry, because the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is clear. Dietary things, ceremonial things have changed in the New Covenant. But the covenant of God in the holiness of God on these issues have never changed. What's interesting is that this rainbow represents the reminder that there is a judgment to come. We see this in Peter’s epistle in chapter 3. He literally talks about in verse 5 about the creation of the world, and then he says in verse 6 that the world was flooded. And then he says that’s what's going to happen in the last days. Fire is coming. And so, the rainbow also represents the passion and holiness of God, that fire is coming to the earth to be the final judgment. 

Those dualities of the holiness of God of the rainbow actually blow my mind. It causes me to tremble; His Word causes me to tremble. When I see how amazing He is in saving someone like me, who should be in the deepest parts of hell. And so, if there's hope for me, there's hope for anybody, because ladies, I was a sex addict. And that very night, all of that sexual sin broke in my life in hearing the law of God, and I have never returned back to that.

Now, that's not to say I didn't have a lot of stuff to work out for years. But God in His kindness, showing me honestly in that revival movement His Holiness, and in the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom . . . That's part of the problem in the Church today. There's no fear of God. The fear of God is the very beginning of wisdom. We've been doing these seminars out at a big Baptist university. I asked the question last week, What is the beginning of wisdom? With hundreds of high school and college kids, only one person was even willing to mention it, after repeatedly asking what the beginning of wisdom was. 

Erin: And so, we’re sunk without wisdom, without wisdom.

Dannah: Yeah.

Erin: Stephen, I'm so grateful for God's work in your life. I'm so grateful for your ministry. I have felt prior to this conversation and researching you like the rainbow got hijacked a bit. You can't hijack God. You can’t hijack His messages. We need to stand for truth and point people to His love. So thanks for being with us. We're gonna drop some links so people can get to know you better. We're going to drop the link to that video about the rainbow, and we're going to ask you to stay put, we're going to have you come back and pray in just a second. 

Today’s Teaching on 1 Cor. 6:9–11

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Acts chapter 10, verse 38, shows us to us it says that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. So what did Jesus do with that power that he got from God, the power of the Holy Spirit? What did he do with it? That verse goes on to say, “He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

Jesus was a reflection of His heavenly Father—who is kind, He is compassionate, He does good to His creatures. And notice that God's kindness is not based on the goodness or the worthiness of the recipient. This is really important because it gives us a standard for how we should show acts of kindness. 

Jesus said in Luke 6, verse 35, “Love your enemies, and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” There will be a family resemblance, “for he is kind to the ungrateful, and the evil.”

Dannah: He is kind to the ungrateful and evil. As we talk about this subject today, we've heard some really radical things, at least radical for our culture, right? Even I sit here and I actually cringed from time to time because what we're saying is true. But it's a hard truth. 

If we do not also include this truth, that He is kind, it's a half truth. Because we need to bring the whole truth of the Scripture to this very difficult topic of bringing the gospel into the conversation about Pride Month, we must be doing good. We must be expressing ourselves with kindness. Now, I don't know what your life story looks like, but my life story? Well, honestly, it looks a lot like Stephens, because there was a time when I was walking far from the Lord and I was walking in sexual sin. 

If I had not experienced the kindness of God myself, the goodness of God myself, I wouldn't be able to minister that to other people. I want to read to you just for a few minutes, I want to take a moment and share one of the verses that was very formative in my freedom story. 1 Corinthians 6:9–11. It says, 

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? [This is still sounding a little harsh, right?] Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God, [That is a hard truth. But here’s the good news] and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I just think these verses are brimming with hope, though you have to look closely to see it. Who won't inherit the kingdom of God? Well, here's the hard truth. But truth nonetheless, the list includes not only sexual sin, but in terms of that kind of thing that lists sexual immoral, sexually, immoral, adulterers, and homosexuality. 

So let's talk about the words we would use today. That might be included in that list hookup culture, right? Having sex with your boyfriend, living together before marriage, adultery, online sex chat, prostitution, (becoming more and more common) pornography, extreme sex addiction, and yes, homosexuality.

As I look at that list, I have to wonder how many of us fit on that list at some point in our lives? I know that I certainly do. But there was hope for me. And there's hope for you if you fit on that list, or you have fit on that list and you still don't feel the full freedom. It says “and such were some of you.” But verse 12 says, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ by the spirit of our God.”

And such were some of us.

You see, God can take the kind of people described in 1Corinthians 6, 9, and 10, that list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God, and he can make them into the kind of people described in 1 Corinthians 6:11—washed, sanctified, justified in the name of Jesus.

Friends, I gotta tell you, and such was me. My past was my prison. A decision I made, decisions I made as a teen girl haunted me for years. Even as a young married woman, they became an incredible barrier in my intimacy, my friendship with my husband, mostly the emotional friendship I had with him. I was not free. And one day I came across these verses, and I dared to believe 1 Corinthians 6:11, to say, such was me. I'm not going to stay that person on that list. I'm not going to stay labeled by my sin. I am going to be washed. I am going to be sanctified. I'm going to be justified. I'm going to be that girl. It was a turning point in my life, turning point in my marriage, it was a turning point in my purpose.

I want you to know, I am not here to throw stones today. Not one single person deserves stones from me. No matter what kind of sexual sin is holding you captive, I'm here to offer you hope. I'm here to offer you freedom. Your past does not have to be your prison. Today could be your turning point. The day you become washed, sanctified, justified in the name of Jesus. 

I want to invite you to text someone you know who's a believer, maybe somebody who talks about Jesus in a way that you don't understand. Or if you are a believer and you're just hiding your sin, today is the day to stop hiding.

Let me pray for you.

Father, I pray for my sister, or even my brother who's found my voice today. And these truths are somehow as hard as they are winsome, and calling to them. And they sense a quiet voice inside of them saying go find Jesus. I pray that they would do that today or that that believer who walks like I did for so many years, far away from Him. They're hearing the voice say come back to Jesus in the quiet of their heart. They're feeling that, Lord, I pray that nothing would stop them from picking up their phone right now and texting someone who can help them.

I pray Father that this would be the day their turning point, that they will be washed, sanctified, justified in the name, the only name, the matchless name of Jesus. It is in His name we pray, amen.

Closing and Prayer

Dannah: Let's live with open arms. Let's show love to one another. And let's not forget to live also with open Bibles committed to living like Christ calls us to live.

Portia: Open hearts and open Bible. You know, Dan, a makes me think about this as we've gone through this episode. I say this often. I've heard this said from some people that I admire, but our highest calling is not heterosexual living. 

Dannah: Right.

Portia: Our highest calling is to glorify God. Now, just reaffirming what you're saying right here. I stand with you committed to living like Christ committed to living in a way that truly glorifies God. 

Erin: Here's another way, a shift for how we could think and respond this month. Every time we see that flag that has come to be known as a gay pride flag this month (we're going to see it everywhere and we're going to see it beyond this month) you have an opportunity. What if we stopped and prayed every time we saw it, which would be a lot. 

Stephen said this word multiple times. Every time he said it, I want to do as my friend Portia says, throw my shoe. He kept saying revival, revival, revival—the own revival he had experienced. What if we took those rainbows everywhere and use them as prayer prompts to pray for revival, not just in the heart of the person who hung that flag, though, certainly. I want them to experience what Stephen experienced. But in my own heart, I need to be revived. In my own heart. Revival is our hope. 

Portia: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Before we go, I want to quickly ask Stephen to come back with us and just to just cover us one more time in prayer before we close out this episode. 

Stephen: I'd be honored. Let's pray.

So, Father, you are the great and awesome God. You've given us the ability to approach You through the blood of Jesus Christ. I pray in Jesus’ name that anyone listening would be drawn into the beauty of who You are. We see it in all of creation. We see it in the rainbow. We see it in the love of Your people. God, we ask in Jesus’ name that hearts would be drawn. 

Help us to continue to live lives that are pleasing to you, first and foremost. If we please You, we will please some of the people some of the time. That's all that matters. Lord, I pray that you would help these ladies and every church represented. Every person listening more to live lives completely consecrated to You. I pray that revival could come into the land, that we would be repentant, so that other people in this world see us loving one another and also manifesting the glory of who You are. 

I pray that hearts would be drawn to us to know that in our own testimonies of such were some of you; that there is in their lives hope for change, hope for deliverance, hope from the things that oppress them and the places of deep pain with most of these people—having been sexually abused or somehow maligned. God, we ask in Jesus name that our words would be anointed to give forth hope, and your love, just as was said, with open arms and open Bibles. May we bring glory and honor to Jesus. In Your name, Jesus, I pray, amen.

We've got another heavy lifting episode next week. So we want to invite you guys to come right back here Same time, same place. Tara Barthel will be with us with hope and perspective for those healing from sexual trauma. 

We want to continue helping you in your healing journey. So, let's wake up with hope together next week on Grounded.

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

About the Guest

Stephen Black

Stephen Black

Stephen Black has worked in pastoral-care ministry as an ordained minister in the local church and with International Ministerial Fellowship for over twenty-eight years. Currently, he works full-time as Executive Director with First Stone Ministries (FSM) in Oklahoma City. He serves the Body of Christ at FSM in one-on-one pastoral care discipleship, weekly support group sessions, speaking, and he helps to provide freedom conferences and seminars. He is the author of Freedom Realized – Finding Freedom from Homosexuality & Living a Life Free from Labels, and Freedom Realized – The Complete First Stone Ministries Effectiveness Survey Report. Stephen has been married to his wife Robin since May of 1986. They have three adult children and four grandchildren.