Harvest USA began in 1983 as an outreach ministry in Center City, Philadelphia to care for those affected by the AIDS crisis. Founded as a ministry to those particularly struggling with same-sex attraction, Harvest USA has since expanded its outreach to include those who struggle with sexual issues of all types.
The Godhead and Divine Revelation
We believe God is one Being existing in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.¹ God is the Sovereign, the Creator, and the Sustainer of all things.² God is the source and the end of all truth.³ Jesus Christ is the eternal begotten Son of God,4 conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary,5 fully God and fully man.6 Christ, having accomplished a perfect, substitutional, sacrificial, and atoning work in His life and death,7 now lives as resurrected and ascended Lord to act as intercessor and mediator before God on behalf of all believers.8
We believe that the Scriptures, consisting of the Old and New Testaments, are the inspired and written word of God, inerrant in their original writings, the infallible authority by which He directs and governs all our activities. The Scriptures are in and of themselves the basis for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in godly living.9
1 Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 3:16-17; 28:19; John 1:14, 18; 1 Corinthians 8:4, 6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:2-3.
2 Genesis 1:1; Nehemiah 9:6; Romans 1:20; 11:36.
3 Proverbs 1:7; Colossians 2:3; 1 Timothy 1:17.
4 John 1:1; 3:16; 8:58; 1 Timothy 2:5.
5 Luke 1:27-30.
6 Galatians 4:4.
7 Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 9:14; 10:14.
8 Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Hebrews 7:25.
9 Isaiah 8:20; Matthew 4:4; Luke 16:29-30; 24:27, 44; 2 Timothy 3:15-16; Hebrews 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:21.
Humanity and Doctrine
We believe that man was created in the image of God as a rational, moral, and spiritual being.10 Man sinned in Adam and fell with him in his first transgression into a state of death and separation from God.11 Man’s fall affected him spiritually, intellectually, and physically.12 He is restored and reconciled only by the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit and the cleansing blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.13
We believe the doctrines of grace as taught in the Scriptures to be those truths essential for salvation and for the ability to experience freedom from one’s besetting sins.14 Men and women are saved and justified, that is, made right and acceptable before the holy God, by grace through faith in Christ alone.15 The free offer of peace with God is available to all who will come to Him, having their hearts prepared and opened by the Holy Spirit to respond to the offer of salvation.16 Once justified¸ adopted, and set apart by God’s Spirit, believers are kept faithful and obedient to Christ not by mere willpower but by the supernatural power of God who saves them for all eternity.17
10 Genesis 1:27; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.
11 Romans 5:12-19.
12 Genesis 2:17; 6:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10-19; Titus 1:15
13 Ezekiel 36:26-27; John 3:16; 14:6; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 13:12; Titus 3:5, 7; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5.
14 John 14:6; Romans 1:16.
15 Romans 3:22-28; 4:5-8.
16 John 6:37; Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 2:12; Ephesians 1:17-18; 2:14; Titus 3:5.
17 John 10:28-29; Romans 8:28-30; 2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 1:6; 2:13; 1 Peter 1:5, 9.
We believe that our sexuality and its expression were designed by God at creation and that our sexuality and its expression were part of God’s original and good design for mankind, and is clearly communicated to us in the Scriptures.18 Male and female were both created in God’s image,19 and we affirm that God’s perfect design for all sexual activity is between one man and one woman in the context of the marriage bond.20 We recognize that, as a consequence of the Fall, all men and women are sexually broken and thus relate in twisted ways to God, self, others, and nature.21 Therefore, all expressions of sexual activity outside of the bond of marriage are sinful and are a distortion of God’s good design. This includes all involvement with pornography, sexual fantasy, sexual addictions, adultery, homosexuality, gender distortions and any other sexual activity outside of marriage. All sexual sin grieves God and is offensive to His Holiness, and all sexual sin ultimately harms people, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual sin.22
We believe that homosexuality is not what God wills for human beings made in His image. We affirm that both homosexual desire and behavior are expressions of mankind’s fallenness, and like all other types of sexual sin, needs to be confessed, renounced and forsaken by those who would be followers of Jesus Christ.23 We believe that God has always called men and women out of homosexuality or other sexual sin patterns and into the new life of His kingdom through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.24 Thus any attempt to claim, cultivate, or promote a gay identity for oneself is out of place in a confessing Christian since it necessarily competes with the holy identity in Christ that every believer has been given and must claim by faith.25 We believe that Christ gives to all who seek it a growing freedom from the compulsive pull of all sorts of sinful sexual fantasy and behavior.26 This does not preclude the possibility of serious lapses of love and obedience on the part of those who truly believe, but such must be evaluated in light of the ordinary path and process of sanctification in which God places all of His children.27 Such failure on the part of believers can never be taken as license to abolish the call to holiness or to allow a reinterpretation of the Scriptures that permits a “gay Christian” theology.
18 Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18-25; Proverbs 5:18-19
19 Genesis 1:27.
20 Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Timothy 3:2, 12; Titus 1:6.
21 Romans 1:18-25.
22 Matthew 5:27-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 7:2; 11:14-15; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3, 5; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 6; 1 Timothy 1:10.
23 Matthew 5:27-28; 15:19; 22:37; Mark 12:30-33; Romans 1:24; 8:13; 1 Peter 1:14; 2:11; Revelation 2:23.
24 1 Corinthians 6:11.
25 Romans 6:5-11; 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:4, 7; 2:1-10.
26 Romans 6:14-19; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:5-8.
27 2 Corinthians 2:5-11; 7:9-10; 1 John 1:5-10.
The Church and Ministry
We believe the Church is the primary instrument God has chosen to use in ministering the reconciliation and wholeness Christ won at the cross.28 At the same time, believing that the Lord takes up all kinds of instruments into His hand for the perfecting of His people, we are thankful for genuine help for people struggling with sexual sin from whatever quarter it comes.29
28 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 1:10, 22-23; 4:11-16; Colossians 1:18.
29 Luke 9:49-50; Philippians 1:18.
Statement on Same-Sex Attraction
What is Same-Sex Attraction?
Same-sex attraction is the internal draw toward marriage-related experiences and enjoyments with persons of the same sex. We believe that same-sex attraction must be defined relative to God’s design for sexuality. We believe that God’s design for sexuality requires us to steward our sexuality in one of two ways, both motivated by love for and devotion to Christ: either by desiring and expressing our sexuality exclusively toward an opposite-sex spouse in Christian marriage, or by chaste, celibate, and faithful devotion to the Lord in singleness (1 Corinthians 7:1–11, 32–40). Sexual desire and expression in marriage entails relational, emotional, and physical elements—things pertaining to romance, sexual contact and enjoyment, and the physical affection associated with such (Ephesians 5:22–33; Song of Solomon 2:4-7, 8-17; Proverbs 5:15-23; 30:18-19). Same-sex attraction is the desire to pursue or enjoy any of these exclusively marital elements with someone of the same sex.
We believe that same-sex attraction is a result of the Fall. The corruption resulting from the Fall has affected all aspects of human existence and experience.
We believe that, because the biblical standard is faithfulness to an opposite-sex spouse, it is heterosexual. However, the concept of heterosexuality, though often used to describe the biblical sexual ethic, is incomplete. Those who can describe their experience of sexuality as heterosexual also fall short of holiness in many ways regarding sexuality, being subject to the same fallen nature as those with same-sex attraction. We believe that the solution to all who struggle sexually is the same, namely repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ.
Is Same-Sex Attraction sin?
Scripture emphasizes that all human behavior comes from our hearts (Matthew 15:18–19) and that our hearts are corrupted due to the enduring effects of the Fall (Jeremiah 17:9). This means that every inclination of our hearts, including our thoughts, emotions, and desires, as well as our deeds, is corrupted by sin (Genesis 6:5; Titus 1:15; Romans 3:10–19; Ephesians 2:3). The experience of same-sex attraction, however, is not generally the result of a conscious decision but rather one that individuals became aware of as they grow older. Living with same-sex attraction can prove a special challenge for those who want to live according to God’s design for sexuality.
We do not believe that same-sex attraction is a benign condition; rather, it is a manifestation of original sin or indwelling sin and not a morally neutral sexual orientation that can be used for both good and evil. The struggle against indwelling sin is reflected in Scripture, among other places, in Romans 7:5, where Paul describes “sinful passions…at work in our members to bear fruit for death.” Similarly, in Romans 7:20, Paul describes sin as the unwanted pull of his flesh toward what he did not want to do.
We believe that same-sex attraction, though a manifestation of original sin or indwelling sin, is differentiated from willful sin. If the struggler experiences a spontaneous, sexual attraction toward someone else but, in faith and submission to God, resists that pull and does not act on it in thought, word, or deed, then that individual is actively repenting and has not engaged in nurtured, willful sin.
Does Same-Sex Attraction arise from a Sexual Orientation?
We do not agree with the cultural perspective that same-sex attraction is genetic, fixed, and unchangeable, arising from the secular notion of sexual orientation; rather, we recognize that its genesis most likely involves multiple pathways in an individual’s life. In addition to original sin, multiple pathways can include the following: biological components, cultural factors, family history, abuse, and more.
How do we understand sin and temptation?
Same-sex attraction is frequently connected with legitimate desires of the heart, including, but not limited to, desires for love, intimacy, control, comfort, affirmation, and affection. Coming from a sinful heart, these desires have become idolatrous and disproportionate, replacing true love for God and love for neighbor as God intended. Jesus clearly linked strong, inward desires (“lustful intent”) with behavior itself (Matthew 5:28). And James spoke of those same disordered desires as conceiving, tempting, and giving birth to sin (James 1:13–15). It is nearly impossible to separate temptation from sin in the moment of struggle, but the distinction is nevertheless helpful. Inward thoughts, desires, and temptations can be intentional, but sometimes they also arise seemingly from nowhere, unbidden and unwanted.
What is the hope for someone with Same-Sex Attraction?
We affirm that our sole hope in all sexual struggling is to turn constantly toward the grace of God through Jesus Christ. God’s grace “trains us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12–13). We gain hope as we become increasingly convinced of our own sinfulness and the efficacy of Christ’s person and work on our behalf. As Paul states in Romans 2:4, “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
We affirm that one who believes in Jesus Christ has been set free from the definitive power of sin (Romans 6:8–11) and has been made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In a very practical sense, through the inward work of the Holy Spirit, believers are able to successfully resist the pull of the flesh and increasingly live with renewed hope, renewed desires, and transformed behavior (Ephesians 4:17–24; Galatians 5:16–26).
We do not believe that a Christian who experiences same-sex attraction should identify with his or her attractions and adopt the label “gay Christian.” Christians are called to walk in newness of life in the Spirit, even though we continue to struggle with persistent feelings and attractions that are unwanted (Romans 6:1–14; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:3–4; 1 Corinthians 6:11). Identity labeling gives undue prominence to this life experience and struggle. Identity is important: who we are and who we want to become is wrapped up in how we view our relationship to Christ.
What does change look like for someone with Same-Sex Attraction?
We understand that there is a wide continuum of what repentance and change might look like for the individual experiencing same-sex attraction. Change happens when a believer walks in ongoing faith and repentance. We believe that, as with all types of sinful attractions and inclinations, the habit and power of sinful desires weakens even as affection for Christ and love for righteousness grows. We have observed in many people with same-sex attraction a lessening of those desires. But this experience is not the same for all. For some, change can include sexual enjoyment of and faithfulness to an opposite-sex spouse in marriage. Others increasingly find true and satisfying peace in devotion to God as a single man or woman. However, individuals may continue to experience and wrestle with same-sex attraction throughout their lives, just as those whose sexual temptations have been toward the opposite sex often continue to wrestle with those sinful desires even while married. What the Lord calls us to is holiness in our thoughts, words, and deeds (1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Peter 2:11–12), but not necessarily to marriage or especially to the general experience of heterosexual desire (1 Corinthians 7:6–8, 35, 38). We believe that in the reality of a fallen world, no sinner is fully and exhaustively delivered from the enduring presence of sin, nor will we be until we see Jesus face to face (Romans 7:21–24; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 15:53–57).
We proclaim that the typical way the Lord transforms our hearts and character is through participating in the ordinary means of grace, which include, but are not limited to, Scripture reading, public and private prayer, discipleship, accountability, fellowship, public and private worship, hearing God’s Word preached and taught correctly, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and ongoing faith and repentance, which is obedience to God’s Word.
In conclusion, a message of hope to Christians who struggle with same-sex attraction and to their brothers and sisters, who endeavor to help bear their burdens as they walk in faith and repentance:
Harvest USA unswervingly affirms the inerrancy of Scripture. It is the inspired Word of God and is God’s decreed will and wisdom for his people. Many people, however, misunderstand the biblical mandate for sexual purity, particularly as it concerns same-sex attraction or homosexual behavior. The arguments raised against the traditional and historic biblical understanding of God’s created intent for sex, sexuality, and sexual identity are too numerous and diverse to address here.
The New Testament writers were neither merely reinforcing the Old Testament moral law about sexual behavior nor adding new rules to the early Church. It is true that God’s moral law was not overturned in the New Covenant, but now there is a far bigger picture to comprehend in Christ: Jesus has brought about the new creation through his life, death, and resurrection. Christians have been released from the punishment mandated by the moral law because, and only because, that punishment fell fully and solely on Jesus Christ.
There is an obligation upon Christians who have been freed from the punishment of the law. What is the nature of that obligation? It is that Christians “belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that [they] may bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4). In other words, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:15, Christians should “no longer live for themselves, but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” This obligation is one of celebrating the freedom the Christian enjoys from the weight of the law. But it is not a freedom to do what we please; rather, it is the freedom to live according to who we really are, in our union with Christ. The Christian is called to a life of faith and repentance because of the love shown for him or her in the life and work of Jesus Christ.
The call to holiness in sexual thought and behavior in 1 Corinthians 6:18 (“Flee sexual immorality…the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.”) is presented in the larger context of Paul explaining that the Christian is united in the new covenant to Christ, to become increasingly like him, to enjoy him and his love. Living in increasing holiness demonstrates that God’s Spirit is at work within us and that we are a part of this new life. Therefore, God wants us to see meaning and purpose in this struggle for sexual integrity. He wants us to enjoy our union with Christ, which by its very nature sanctifies us and transforms our thinking. He wants us to depend upon the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has given to us, to empower us to fight this battle, and he wants us to know that he embraces us even as we struggle.
For the Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction, the call is to continually seek the grace of God through Jesus Christ in order to struggle well. And when that struggle seems at times to be unending or even hopeless, we encourage you with Paul: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).
Statement on Gender and Sexuality
We affirm that God created human beings in his image as male and female (Gen. 1:26-27). This creation pattern refers simultaneously to biological and social complementarity. The biblical worldview does not support the existence of a concept of gender that is disconnected from the sexuality of our bodies. Likewise, we recognize the goodness of the human body (Gen. 1:31; John 1:14) and the call to glorify God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:12-20). As a God of order and design, God opposes the confusion of man as woman and woman as man (Deut. 22:5).¹
Nevertheless, the often life-dominating suffering and distress experienced by those who are disturbed by their biological sexual identity calls for compassion, humility, and love (Gal. 6:1-3; 1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Rom 12:15). The transgender promise of salvation from that distress by means of claiming a gender disconnected from biological reality and “transitioning” the body toward that gender is a false gospel; compassion and love cannot encourage this false hope. Rather, the love of God in Christ and all the promises of the gospel of new identity and new creation in Christ should be both shown and explained.
Further, we believe Christians should seek wisdom to distinguish biblical mandates for the expression of maleness or femaleness from merely culturally formed ideas, stereotypes, and expectations. Failure to do so only contributes to the confusion and distress of those who fail to measure up to the cultural expectation and gives power to the temptation to seek the solution offered by transgenderism.gender-and-sexuality
¹ A note on what is often called “Intersex:” The occurrence in some persons of an objective medical condition in which their anatomical development is ambiguous or does not match their genetic chromosomal sex does not negate the creation norm of male and female. Rather, these conditions are developmental defects that are part of the misery of the fallen condition of our nature and world. Such persons are also made in the image of God and should be given the compassion and love that meets them in their personal suffering with the promises and comfort of the gospel. They also should be encouraged to live out their biological sex, insofar as it can be known.