We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Christians and Homosexuality

Many churches are conducting “marriages” and even “civil unions” for those who practice homosexual behavior. Whole denominations are bowing to the world’s ways and condoning homosexual behavior as just another way of expressing “love” in relationships. In fact, there is a denomination (Metropolitan Community Church) specifically for those who practice homosexual sex. There are even claims made that God gave people homosexual orientation, and claims that references to homosexual behavior in the Bible are always taken out of context to “attack” those who practice homosexual sex. All passages from Scripture that mention homosexual behavior have been reinterpreted to “prove” that homosexual behavior is natural and okay with God.

Let me start by making a clarification between homosexual “orientation” and homosexual “behavior.” Whether one is “oriented” towards a particular behavior is irrelevant; what is relevant is how one responds to his or her orientation. 97-98% of the population is oriented towards heterosexual sexual relations, but that doesn’t mean they should act on those feelings outside of marriage. Some people are oriented to desire sexual relations with children, animals or even corpses, but having these orientations does not therefore force the people into acting on those feelings. So then, if a person truly is oriented towards homosexual behavior, that doesn’t thereby give them the need or right to practice such behavior.

So what is the true biblical position about homosexual behavior, and what should be the Christian’s view of those who practice homosexual behavior? This can be ascertained by reading the relevant passages of Scripture in their context. I will be using NKJV.

First, read Genesis chapter 19 - I’m not going to quote the whole chapter here. It is the well-known story of the depravity exhibited by the men of Sodom against the angels who were visiting Lot. It is very obvious that the men wanted to have homosexual relations with them, since Lot offered his virgin daughters to sate their lusts and the men wanted nothing to do with the women. Jude, in discussing judgment God is reserving for wickedness, continues at verse 7 with, Sodom and Gomorrah…having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude describes the incident of the men in Sodom as sexual immorality that went after “strange flesh.” I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to understand that Jude was referring to the action which was named for that town - sodomy. So why is this important? Jude tells us what God’s attitude was about the homosexual behavior in the town of Sodom; it led to the destruction of that city.

Two other passages from the Old Testament also tell us what God’s attitude is towards homosexual behavior. Let’s look at them:

Leviticus 18:22: You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

Leviticus 20:13: If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.

I’d say these passages are perspicuous in their descriptions of homosexual behavior being abominable to God. There is no qualification as to the men discussed being male prostitutes or anything else; the statements are about men in general. If a man has sexual relations with a man as he would with a woman, then God says it is an abomination.

Now, there are many who try to marginalize these passages by bringing up all the “holiness” and ceremonial laws of Leviticus, but none of those laws were meant for anyone but Israel and have nothing to do with the context of homosexual behavior being an abomination before God.

A passage that should be familiar to Christians is Romans 1:26-27. But to get the context of the passage we must go back to verse 16 where Paul starts talking about how he is not ashamed of the gospel and why, and that the righteous person is saved through faith. Then Paul says that the wrath of God is against men (mankind - means women are included) who suppress the truth about God because God has made the truth about Himself evident to everyone. But these people who want to reject God do not glorify Him or give Him thanks and become futile in their thinking. They then worship the creation rather than the Creator. Then at verse 26 Paul says, For this reason, God gave them over to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

This is the only passage in Scripture that mentions lesbian homosexual behavior. Paul says it is “against nature.” Paul calls male homosexual behavior “shameful” and “error.” Other English Bible translations say “perversion.” He calls both female and male homosexual behavior “vile passions.”

Some people have suggested that Paul is only talking about those whose sexual orientation is naturally heterosexual and yet are participating in homosexual behavior, thereby behaving “unnaturally.” This is nothing more than “word salad.” The meaning of the text is quite clear that homosexual behavior practiced by ANYONE is unnatural and shameful.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10: Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…will inherit the kingdom of God.

Notice that Paul includes several types of sexual immorality: “fornicators” - those who are engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage; “adulterers” - those who are married but having sexual relations with someone other than their spouse; “homosexuals” - the Greek word here refers to the man who plays the passive or “effeminate” role to the: “sodomites” - the aggressive, dominant, masculine participant in a homosexual relationship.

Paul’s list is about those who have not put these sins behind them, for in the very next passage he says, And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (Of course this gives lie to the claim that homosexuals cannot change.)

One last passage to review is 1 Timothy 1:10. In this passage Paul is discussing various types of people who are ungodly, profane, and unholy. He includes “fornicators” and “sodomites” in this collection.

So it is very plain in Scripture that homosexual behavior is not approved of by God. Period. God didn’t give anyone homosexual orientation; that orientation came about by man’s fall into sin. And if it is ever demonstrated that such orientation has a genetic reason (it would be a genetic mutation), that still does not take away one’s personal responsibility for his behavior.

Since Scripture makes it plain that God abhors homosexual behavior, any Christian who sanctions such behavior is in conflict with God. We cannot condone homosexual behavior any more than we can condone any other sexual immorality; any sexual relation outside of a monogamous marriage of man and woman is contrary to God.

As Christians our duty is to treat those who practice homosexual behavior as we do any other unbeliever; we give them the gospel message and when they choose to “confess Jesus as Lord” they will come to see that such behavior is sin that needs to be repented. In this way they can leave such a life behind. But we do not welcome them “as they are” into our assemblies as if there is nothing wrong with their behavior. We wouldn’t do that for prostitutes or adulterers, so why do so many think it is different with homosexuals?

2 comments:

Marie4thtimemom said...

Hi Glenn,

Have new computer - will leave comments on blogs. Yay!! It's good to be back online.

Anyway, I wanted to add a point about how God takes impurity in general very seriously, an oft-overlooked fact in our society. Obviously I agree with you about the homosexuality issue - and the passages cited prove your point to the T. Our associate pastor has been preaching a sobering message over the last few weeks based on 1 Thessalonians, speaking to sexual immorality in general. The same holds for hetero activity (including lust and what's going on inside the mind, as Christ pointed out) as does for homosexual. Sin in this area undermines personal holiness, and prevents us from drawing close to God.
I think, though, that the biggest problem in the gay agenda is the refusal to even admit it is a sin. They don't WANT repentance. I think there are many professing Christians who are living in this kind of sin, whether same or other sex, and don't even want to admit it is sinful in God's eyes. The Bible uses a very archaic word: fornication. It is somehow more tempting to rationalize this sin away, applying "subjective morality" to it than, say, to stealing or killing. Once society satrts calling evil good and good evil, as in this case, it truly is like Sodom and Gommorah.....both gay and straight are guilty.

Lord save us from ourselves and our sex-saturated culture.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Marie,

Welcome back!

You are so correct about the fact that so many don't want to consider sex outside of marriage, be it homosexual or heterosexual, to be the sin that it is. That's part of why it is hard to convice the homosexual that they are sinning because of the fornication among heterosexuals.