For more than 50 years East Hill Church has been developing a church culture where we welcome all people to attend, worship together and find joy in Jesus' forgiveness and healing.

We desire to extend Jesus' love to people right where they are, gay or straight. Going hand-in-hand with being an accepting body of believers, we must also stand firmly on the word of God and speak grace-filled truth into the lives of all people.

This is increasingly difficult in a culture that seems to accept immoral sexual behavior without a second thought. The passage of two new laws that give 'civil rights' and 'domestic partnerships' to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender is another hurdle that inhibits people from receiving the real love, acceptance and forgiveness of the Lord the way he designed us to receive it.

The New Testament states many times that homosexual behavior, along with adultery, premarital sex and the behaviors implicit in pornography, are wrong. The only biblical, God-honoring, sexual relationship is between a married man and woman.

It is one thing to love people and open your arms to them, it is quite another to then tell them that their actions are OK and absent of consequence. The real harm in these new laws is that it goes way beyond simply loving and accepting gays and homosexuals; it says that society must elevate and accept as normal the gay lifestyle.

It sends the confusing message to our youth that heterosexual marriage has no greater value than homosexual partnerships. It says there are no real boundaries on what is safe and acceptable sexual behavior.

It is easy to say we accept everyone regardless of behavior and to say we are 'welcoming' to people of all sexual preferences. It is also easy to condemn people for engaging in immoral behavior.

What is really hard, however, is to love and accept people who are trapped in immoral sexual behavior and walk with them through the difficult and messy process of leading them into healing and real joy. We are committed to that healing process.

These new laws just made that job harder.

Pastor Ray Young is an administrator at East Hill Church.

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