I remember seeing a billboard ad a few years ago that read like this “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Evan. Homosexuality is clearly condemned in the Bible. It undermines the basis of God’s created order where God made Adam, a man, and Eve, a woman–not two men, not two women–to carry out his command to fill and subdue the earth (Gen. 1:28). Homosexuality cannot carry out that command. In addition, it undermines the basic family unit of husband and wife, the God-ordained means of procreation.
The same shifting winds of opinion have led many churches to accept openly homosexual members, and in some denominations homosexuals can assume leadership positions, enjoying the full acceptance and encouragement of church members without shame or reproach. Some congregations have begun to sanctify homosexual marriages while others no longer teach that homosexual acts are sinful or unnatural to avoid a decline in membership.
Though the fight over homosexuality in our culture has moved to the front pages in recent decades, homosexual behavior has always been a part of human society. Ancient records and the Bible stories reflect its longevity in society, including accounts like Sodom and Gomorrah.
So how should a Christian view homosexual behavior, and how do we make sense of society’s increasing acceptance of the behavior? What can we say to friends or family who practices homosexual behavior? Finally, what are we to conclude about a person professing faith in Christ while willfully embracing and enjoying a homosexual lifestyle? We will look into that. This article is a bit lengthy, but it covers a large portion of the discussion on the topic. Thank you for your patience we hope you will provide us with some feedback.
A few weeks ago the song Take me to Church by Hozier was one of the number songs in the country. For weeks. The deceptive title means the complete opposite of what it insinuates. It tells the story between two males and what happens when their relationship is discovered. With lyrics like “I was born sick, But I love it”, we find it important to define what homosexuality really is. First, let’s consider a brief history of the term “homosexual.” In ancient cultures, the act itself did not have a unique name and neither did the person who practiced it. For example, there is no Hebrew word in the Old Testament for homosexual. Instead, the Old Testament simply describes the act itself, referring to it as “laying with a male as one lies with a female” but it does define it as an act of abomination, which means it is detestable to God.
Lev. 18:21 ‘You shall not give any of your offspring to them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.
Lev. 18:22 ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
Lev. 18:23 ‘Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.
(We should note how the Lord condemns homosexual acts in the same context as prohibiting child sacrifice and bestiality. Clearly, the Lord holds the practice in great contempt.)
Sodom and Gomorrah
Later after the Lord judged Sodom and Gomorrah for their sexual perversion and wickedness, the names of the cities became associated with homosexual behavior, and so the term “sodomite” came to stand for one who practices homosexual behavior. The term didn’t convey an identity or suggest a lifestyle; it simply described a person who engaged in depraved sexual behavior – homosexuality.
Sodomy remained the most common term given to homosexual behavior until our present-day term first appeared in the middle of the 19th century, eventually becoming the preferred name by the early 20th century. This change in terminology was not accidental. It came about as part of a campaign orchestrated by homosexuality sympathizers in medicine, psychology, the media, the entertainment industry and anti-religious groups to legitimize the behavior within the culture and increase it's popular.
Proponents hoped the term “homosexual” would invite comparisons to heterosexual, thereby suggesting it was an equally healthy and acceptable alternative, and the effort picked up steam in the 1960s. By the end of the 20th century, homosexual behavior was broadly celebrated (at least by liberal-leaning elements of society) rather than condemned, and those who engage in a lifestyle of homosexuality began to be courted rather than ostracized.
Some will describe that the account of Sodom and Gomorrah (see Genesis 19) was not an action of homosexuality but of rape. The fact is, the men of the city clearly went with the intention of acting on their homosexuality (intent comes before content). The fact that it would have been considered rape does not eliminate the sin of homosexuality but rape is an add on to the list of sins they would have committed.
The Bible and Homosexuality
What does the Bible say about this practice? As we saw earlier, the Law clearly condemns homosexual behavior, requiring death for any in Israel who practice it. While Christians are not bound to apply the penalties of the Old Testament Law, the New Testament echoes the Law’s strong words against the practice. For example:
Rom. 1:22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Rom. 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Rom. 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
Rom. 1:25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Rom. 1:26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
Rom. 1:27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Let’s consider these three passages in turn. First, in Romans 1 Paul describes the progression into ungodliness experienced by natural men. First, men became prideful thinking themselves wise without God’s counsel (v.22). Their foolishness then led them to worship the creation rather than the Creator (v.23). As a result, the Lord judged them by handing them over to their fleshly desires. The Lord allowed the sinful flesh of men to gain full control over their instincts and desires, leading them astray into greater and greater depravity.
Eventually, their increasing depravity resulted in men dishonoring their own bodies (vs.24-25). In a sense, Paul says ungodly men became the victims of their own crimes, as they participate in homosexual behavior. In describing the behavior, Paul uses the term “arsenolite,” which is the Greek word for sodomite, though our modern English Bibles have chosen to translate this Greek word as homosexual instead.
It’s important to notice that Paul says both men and women “exchanged” the natural for the unnatural and “abandoned” the natural to seek the unnatural. The word of God makes clear that homosexual behavior is an unnatural act that replaces a natural sexual act God has prescribed. Despite popular teaching to the contrary, there is nothing natural or normal about homosexual behavior, according to the Bible.
Paul describes homosexual acts as indecent and an “error.” When the flesh “burns” for something it shouldn’t have, Paul says, it is indecent, and this error will lead to a penalty. The penalty begins in their “own persons” (v.27), which is a reference to the degrading and harmful physical effects of homosexual behavior. The penalties don’t end with the physical, however, as God is prepared to visit a much greater penalty upon them in eternity.
In the second passage taken from 1Corinthians, Paul declared that the “unrighteous” will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom refers to the Millennial Kingdom the Lord will establish on Earth and into which all believer enter by faith. To be unrighteous in this context, therefore, means failing to trust in Christ for salvation. The person is unsaved by their lack of faith, and, therefore, the homosexual behavior is a reflection of an unbelieving heart.
1Cor. 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
1Cor. 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Paul says to the Church do not be deceived by these people. Do not assume that the practice of such behavior is compatible with the righteousness which is by faith. Paul says the righteousness which is by faith will move us away from a lifestyle of persistent sin, whether sin of fornication, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, etc. Therefore, we are not to be deceived by those who claim that Christian life and persistent sin are compatible. They are not.
On the other hand, Paul is NOT suggesting that a Christian will never sin in these ways or that such sins “disqualify” a Christian from the Kingdom. All true Christians are saved by faith alone, sadly, some Christians do commit these sins from time to time, but Paul is warning about a very different problem. He is concerned with believers embracing the lie that says Christian belief and practice may coexist with a lifestyle of sin in any form. Paul says do not be deceived by such ungodliness.
Homosexuality can tempt anyone and act in such a manner is always wrong, but we must differentiate between those who experience homosexual temptations from those who choose to give into their temptations and engage in homosexual behaviors. Any Christian can be tempted in a number of ways and flee from temptation and not sin. Jesus was tempted and did not sin. Any person may experience lustful attraction for someone of the same sex, but if they reject those temptations, then they have not sinned. This is the expectation the Bible places on all believers, that we resist temptations to sin.
Some people may be born with a greater temptation for homosexual sin just as other people are tempted into sins of lying, violence, stealing, etc., but the fact that a sinful tendency were present from birth doesn’t validate the lust or give license for us to pursue it absent of condemnation. On the contrary, the Bible says flee youthful lusts (2 Tim 2:22) precisely because every Christian struggles with lust (including sexual lusts) that originate at birth. The fact that sin starts early doesn’t make it good or healthy.
Therefore, persistent homosexual behavior is powerful evidence that the person may never have been born again, despite claims to the contrary. At the very least, anyone claiming to be a believer while living the homosexual lifestyle is a source of great harm to the body and should be dealt with immediately as not to cause others to stumble as well.
1Tim. 1:8 But we know that the Law is good if one uses it lawfully,
1Tim. 1:9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers
1Tim. 1:10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
1Tim. 1:11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
Finally, Paul’s third passage from 1Timothy refutes any teaching that homosexuality can be compatible with Christianity. Notice Paul says these behaviors (including homosexuality) are contrary to sound teaching, and, therefore, the Law stands ready to correct such sinful practices. Anyone who teaches that homosexuality is compatible with Christianity is not teaching sound doctrine, according to the Bible.
In summary, the Bible teaches that the only form of sexual intimacy permitted by God comes in the context of a marriage between a man and woman. Christians fighting sinful homosexual or heterosexual desires deserve our encouragement to continue resisting sin, and we do them no favors when we condone or encourage their sinful lifestyles.
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