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?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Christians and Abortion

It is indisputable that life begins at the moment of conception. Therefore, abortion is terminating a life. Of course the dispute then becomes whether that life is valuable or worthy of protection. What should be the Christian’s viewpoint on abortion based on what God has revealed to us in His Word?

This should be a rather simple chore, to see what the Bible says about an unborn child. So let’s begin with Exodus 21:22-24 (all passages from NKJV):

If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman’s husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

The woman was "with child" who could be harmed if she was caught up in a fight between men. The pre-born child had all the protection of the law. If the premature birth brought no further harm to the child, then the punishment exacted could be rather mild. However, if the child suffered any harm, punishment was severe. It is quite obvious here that what was inside the woman was a child.

Job had a couple interesting comments in chapter 3 that bear on our study (vv 3 &16 ):

May the day perish on which I was born, and the night in which it was said, “A male child is conceived”. Or why was I not hidden like a stillborn child, like infants who never saw light?

Job was feeling sorry for himself and was essentially wishing he’d never been born or even conceived. Notice he said, “a male child is conceived” - he was a child from the moment of conception! Notice also he calls stillborn babies “children” and those who die before seeing birth are “infants” who never saw light.

In Psalm 51:5 David said he was sinful since conception. For brevity I will not quote Psalm 139:13-16 but the passage speaks of how wonderfully made the author was while still in the womb. Even Ecclesiastes 11:5 speaks of the “child” in the womb.

Isaiah 49:1 tells of how God called him while he was still in his mother’s womb, which means he was certainly a living human being at that time. And Christians are usually familiar with Jeremiah 1:5 where God speaks of knowing him before he was born.

In Matthew 1:18 we are told Mary was “found with child.” Luke 1:41-44 tells about how the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy upon hearing Mary’s greeting.

God’s word plainly calls an unborn baby a “child” or an “infant.” The pre-born child is a human being. When anyone kills a human being without justification (e.g., punishment for crime, self defense or defense of another) God’s word calls it “murder.” Since a child in the womb has not committed a crime nor has tried to cause harm to another person, then the killing of that child is nothing less than murder.

The Christian must see the pre-born child as God sees him; fully human. There is NEVER a justifiable reason to kill a child just because he isn’t born yet. Therefore, a Christian who supports abortion is guilty of supporting the murder of the unborn.

According to God’s Word, abortion is wrong, and Christians have no basis to claim otherwise.