Pastor Tom Brock
Tom Brock – A Pastor's Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction
I have struggled with homosexual temptation most of my life. By the grace of God I have always been celibate but the struggle for me has been intense. Sadly, the battle was also with my own denomination. In my 22 years as a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America I spoke at church conventions for the Biblical standard of celibacy for those with same-sex attraction. Sadly, in 2009 the ELCA adopted a more liberal view and began ordaining practicing homosexuals. I have left the ELCA but I continue in my television ministry to uphold the truth that homosexual behavior is sin, and the fact that I struggle with this temptation does not give me license to practice the behavior.
This summer I testified before a hearing at the convention of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as they debated whether to change the definition of marriage to include homosexual couples. I explained that I am a person who struggles with same-sex attraction but the last thing I want to see is the Church endorse a behavior that hurts people in this life and which excludes them from the Kingdom in the next (I Corinthian 6:9-11).
I stated: "Is it not arrogant to think that we are somehow more enlightened than all the Christians who came before us?" I believe it is safest to interpret Scripture the way Christians have understood it for 2,000 years and the solid testimony of church history is against homosexual behavior. The Biblical interpretation that has led some denominations astray – notably the ELCA, Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church in America, and the United Church of Christ – maintains that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior per se, but only promiscuous homosexual behavior. As much as part of me – my flesh – would like to believe I can legitimately engage in homosexual behavior, the Bible remains a permanent obstacle. An objective reading of Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, Deuteronomy 22:5, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-11, I Timothy 1:8-10, Jude 6,7 makes clear that the Bible's condemnation of homosexual behavior is a blanket one. There is never the added caveat: But it is okay if you love each other.
At the Presbyterian convention, one pastor testified that the denomination should allow her to marry lesbians in her congregation because "If I don't I will hurt them." I responded, "No, to encourage them to engage in a behavior which will rob them of salvation, that is what will hurt them."
I was interviewed on Minneapolis radio about my struggle and the interviewer asked, "Pastor Brock, why don't you just go with this orientation as who you are." I responded, "I'm glad I didn't. I'd be dead. Many men my age who went into this lifestyle are dead." Some liberal Lutheran bishops I know believe they are being loving by affirming homosexual behavior. The truth is they are hurting people. As one old Lutheran pastor said, "They are nicing people right into hell." I can't tell you how grievous it was for me with my struggle to hear bishops endorse something that I knew was evil.
So what does one do if one suffers from same-sex attraction? I believe the answer is: fight. Nowhere are we told the Christian life will be easy. I once heard someone say "But God would never ask you to deny something so central to your make-up as homosexuality." I thought, "Why not?" If we believe in the doctrine of original sin – that we are all born sinners because of Adam's fall (Romans 5) – then indeed every Christian is called to battle the sin that is so central to our make-up. One often hears "But I didn't choose this." I can relate. I never consciously asked to have these temptations. But most alcoholics do not wake up one morning and say "I think I'll have a drinking problem." Kleptomaniacs do not say "I think I'll have a problem with shoplifting." We may not choose our temptations in life, but we do choose what we do with our temptations. To be tempted is not sin. Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4. What we do with temptation shows whether we are endeavoring to follow Christ. And, praise God, even if we do fall under temptation, there is forgiveness when we repent and turn to Christ.
What will help people who struggle with same-sex attraction? Of course, regular prayer, Bible reading and being in a good church, a church that has not compromised on this issue. But for most people struggling with same-sex attraction, the crucial key is accountability. I have been part of a Christian support group for those who struggle with same-sex attraction. If you Google "Exodus International" you will most likely find a group in your area where you can join other Christians who have this struggle. Also very important for me are the weekly phone calls I make to my accountability partner who helps keep me on the straight and narrow.
Lastly, where does homosexuality come from? Is it nature (in the genes) or nurture (in one's upbringing)? I lean toward the latter but ultimately it does not matter. Wherever it comes from, we are called upon to follow Christ and say "no" to it. As our Lord Himself stated: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
Tom Brock was born in Omaha, Neb., and graduated from Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., with a degree in Biblical and Theological Studies. He received a Masters of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. He was ordained a Lutheran pastor in 1979 and has served congregations in Florida and Minnesota. He served on the board of reform groups attempting to bring Biblical renewal to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America before he left that denomination over their position on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and universalism. Pastor Brock for 24 years has had a television ministry which can currently be seen on DirecTV on channel 367 (World Harvest Television) Sundays at 8:30 Central Time. He also does guest preaching at churches. Pastor Brock is 59 years old and has been single his whole life. His TV program can also be viewed at www.pastorsstudy.org.