An ordained Presbyterian minister for 45 years, Sheldon's recent book, The Agenda, is a well-documented challenge to Christians to open their eyes to the growing threat posed by the radical homosexual lobby-a group Sheldon believes is attempting to desensitize the American public to the moral and social consequences of homosexuality.
In the new book, Sheldon peels back the romanticized image of homosexuality portrayed by the mainstream media, and exposes the gay movement's well-organized efforts toward moral ambiguity in the education system, entertainment, politics and the courts.
Sheldon's perspective is matter-of-fact: Homosexuality is a social dysfunction that ruins lives and corrupts society. In light of this, he cautions pastors against demonizing homosexuality as the pinnacle of sin, instead encouraging them to become informed on the clinical factors at the root of homosexuality and to adopt a more holistic view of sexual sin in the church.
“The immorality of a heterosexual nature is just as devastating as homosexual behavior,” he says. “Those struggling with sexual addiction are seriously hurting people.”
Recently, Ministries Today caught up with Sheldon to ask him some questions about the church's role in confronting the gay agenda, ministering to homosexuals and passing on a legacy of activism to the next generation.
Ministries Today: What's the role churches should be taking on confronting this agenda?
Louis P. Sheldon: Most churches run from this issue. They're afraid of it simply because we're used to only talking about sexuality in a very private manner and in the context of the marriage covenant.
We need to develop effective rhetoric that can counter the lies (1) that homosexuals comprise 10 percent of the population; (2) that homosexuality is truly of genetic origin-never has it been proven that homosexuality has anything to do with pregnancy and birth-and; (3) that homosexuality is irreversible.
Ministries Today: Can a church be “gay-friendly” without being “gay-affirming”?
Sheldon: In the same way a church can be dedicated and open to dealing with adultery, fornication or any kind of socially dysfunctional lifestyle-the answer is yes. But they have to know how not to cave in to it.
For instance, Sunday, on my way to church, I saw a huge sign in front of a Lutheran church that said, “We accept and confirm all gay and lesbian people.” Well, you should accept, but not confirm. You'd have to discard the entire biblical injunction on homosexuality.
Furthermore, homosexuality is a dysfunctional social disorder. So, it takes special training to understand how it works. But who's comfortable sitting down and talking about homosexuality and what homosexuals do?
Ministries Today: If the church is doing its job, we should be seeing ex-gays in the pews. How should this change the ministry of the local church pastor?
Sheldon: We should be incorporating ministry to homosexuals into the broader context of ministry-where it belongs-in the same way we minister to alcoholics and fornicators. Pastors must understand what it is that creates same-sex attraction: a socially dysfunctional factor in the person's life.
Ministry to homosexuals should be carried out in context of cleansing, healing and conversion. A homosexual is a very seriously hurting person. We know that 85 percent of lesbians were molested. Over 40 percent of gay men were seduced by older gay men when they were young boys. So, they need a healing and forgiveness against those that harmed them.
Ministries Today: What should pastors know about the roots of homosexuality in order to debate this topic intelligently?
Sheldon: Sexual development is more than the doctor crying out “boy” or “girl” when a child is born. It's connected to family relations-meaning that the little boy is very much attached to his mother for the first several years of his life. Then there comes a time when he weans from her and wants to take on the role of a male. When this breaks down, we have a gender identity disorder-a social disorder. This is the root of homosexuality. When we can identify that early in a child, we can immediately do corrective therapy. This is why homosexuals say: “I was born this way. I can't remember a time I wasn't more interested in boys than in girls.”
Ministries Today: What tools will make church leaders more effective in our ministry to homosexuals?
Sheldon: There's a group called NARTH (National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality). I would fully recommend that pastors and youth pastors read the material of NARTH. It probably has several thousand clinical people in it. It's strong on this topic, for anyone who's willing to come out of homosexuality.
We have to take on a strong attitude that homosexuality is not genetic-this has not been presented effectively. It's rooted in the failure of bonding between the father and son, and the mother and the daughter.
We must attain a much higher moral level in terms of reaching out to these people, talking to them and not being intimidated by them. This is what's happened over the last 33 years I've been involved in this issue.
Ministries Today: Speaking of a “higher moral level,” the media would like to paint all evangelicals with the same brush they use to describe Fred Phelps, the picketing pastor known for his inflammatory slogans. How do we battle this misperception?
Sheldon: It's terrible what he does. In fact, I went to Laramie, Wyoming, after Matthew Shephard was murdered, for the trial. Phelps was there, but I was on the side of the homosexuals-talking about the enforcement of those who murdered Shephard. That's what newspapers reported when they quoted the homosexuals that were there, saying, “We never thought we'd be standing shoulder to shoulder with Rev. Sheldon.”
Ministries Today: What is more important-battling the homosexual agenda or evangelizing homosexuals?
Sheldon: It's like saying, “What's more important, eating food or drinking water?” It's both. We've got to have both. Salvation is key to the whole Christian faith, because God doesn't have grandchildren. We have to be reaching out-constantly evangelizing.
On the other hand, we can't allow that which is morally wrong continue to be called morally right. Remember, the homosexual agenda would not be what it is today if we had not passed through the promiscuous period of the '50s, '60s and '70s in which everything became based upon a climax of sexual experience.
Ministries Today: Pollsters have pointed out that younger Christians (e.g. Generation X, Millennials) have taken a “live and let live” attitude toward homosexuals. How should pastors bring younger believers into the movement to counteract the gay agenda?
Sheldon: It's because younger people are so much more sophisticated and educated now. However, everything changes when they go to get married-then when they have their first child. They see the process of life-a male and a female coming together in marriage. They begin to understand the heterosexual ethic. However, it is possible that more and more will not respond to the heterosexual ethic in marriage. We are seeing a rise in homosexuality and bisexuality among young Christians.
Ministries Today: The temptation is to use fear alone to motivate Christians to speak up on this topic. Does this work in the long run?
Sheldon: We're way beyond the point of just fear now, especially with the reality of what's going on in the public schools. Homosexuals are targeting the public schools through an organization they have created GLSEN-Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. They have placed chapters of GLSEN on hundreds of public school campuses. This effort on the school campus is something every parent needs to know and recognize.
In June, Boeing announced full-fledged gay and lesbian diversity emphasis throughout its company-and there are numerous employees who are solid Christians that belong there. When you have an industry that speaks out and says, “We're going to make homosexuality on equal par with heterosexuality,” then you've crossed the line.
It's foolish to even worry about fear. We've got to start knowing how to deal with the facts. In Canada, it's already happened. Ministers have been put in jail for speaking out against homosexual immorality. A businessman was fined several thousand dollars for having a Christian sign in his business.
That's exactly what's going to happen in this country. The church is going to find itself unable to preach the gospel.
Ministries Today: What are some positive signs you have seen in regard to the broader social climate and the church's awareness on this topic?
Sheldon: We now have 43 states that have passed either a public policy, resolution or constitutional amendment that says that marriage in that state shall only be between a man and a woman. That's very encouraging, but educating the next generation has got to begin in the Bible schools, ministry training centers, seminaries and Christian colleges. There are 325,000 churches in America. There are tens of thousands of competent pastors and youth pastors. They've got to come to grips with this issue.
I believe that the church has the keys to the kingdom-that we're going to be able to rise to the occasion. It may take another decade, but it's going to happen, because God's going to raise up people who are just now freshmen in college and seniors in high school. In 20 years when they're almost 40 they're going to be able to answer these things. It is only the Christian ethic in this country, that's what's holding back the gay agenda.