Last week the President of the United States stated in an interview with ABC News, “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” The President came to a point in his life that it was important for him to say that same-sex couples should have the opportunity to get married. This issue of same-sex marriage and homosexual activity in general is something that Christians are going to have to deal with. The President has come to his conclusion, but what about you? Where do you stand on the issue?
Globally, the sanctioning of same-sex marriage has risen very quickly: prior to 2001 no nation on earth recognized it as marriage, today that list has grown to 10 countries, and another dozen are due to examine the issue in 2012. It’s a worldwide growing phenomenon. The voice of those in favor of homosexual activity has also grown louder over the past years, a recent GALLUP poll taken in May of 2011 reported that Americans think 25% of the country’s population is homosexual. That would mean one in four Americans are homosexual, or roughly 75 million people. The same poll pointed out that only about 3.5% of Americans are identified as homosexual, putting the number of homosexuals in the United States around 10 million. Those in favor of homosexual activity are making waves in the culture and the Christian better be aware of this tide and needs to come to their own conclusions reasoned from God’s Word.
God’s View of Homosexual Acts
God by design created two different versions of human beings: one male and the other female. This is something that should not be quickly disregarded with a terse statement, “we just have different plumbing.” There is no “just” about it. Men and women are different and they are different by design. Men cannot bear children, women cannot produce seed, and this is a distinction and difference made by God on purpose. By design, God created the intimate physical relationship to be between a male and a female. Jesus speaks of this design in Matthew 19:4-5, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’” According to Jesus the “one flesh” union is between a man and a woman. This is where the term perversion would come in. Since God designed men to be with women and women to be with men, to go contrary to His design is to pervert or corrupt God’s original purpose and function of His creation.
These passages present God’s view of homosexual acts recorded in the Bible. (Be sure to read the Bible verses)
Genesis 19:1-29 gives the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. The wickedness that incurred God’s judgment on these cities included, at least in part, homosexual acts. 19:4-5 “The men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may have relations with them.”" 19:24 “Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven.”
Leviticus 20:13 deals with the rule of life under the Mosaic Covenant, ”If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.” The phrase “their Bloodguiltiness is upon them” means it is their own fault, self induced.
Romans 1:18-32 explains that, “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (1:18). Because they don’t acknowledge God He in return abandons them to their passions where, “women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (1:26-27). The passage concludes with the reality that, “though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them” (1:32). The homosexual actions are evidence that God is abandoning a people to their own lusts and in the end these people will seek to give approval to the action.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 lists out the lifestyles of those who will not have a part in God’s kingdom. It is important to keep in mind that these sins are equally grievous. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Neither sexually immoral people, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor passive homosexual partners, nor dominant homosexual partners, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, not drunkards, not abusive persons, not swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
1 Timothy 1:8-11 shows the usefulness of the law to point out sins, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.”
These five passages of Scripture show a continually negative view of homosexual activity. It is clear from Scripture that God is not in favor of homosexual acts.
Born or Bred
At this point the questions might start to fly, “what if a person is born this way?” Or, “what if something bad happened to them and they just don’t like the opposite sex?” Both these situations could be true. Take the first question, ‘what if a person is born this way?’ It could happen; the Bible says everyone is born in sin with a sin nature. So the idea that someone might be born with the desire to seek out same-sex activity would not contradict the Scriptures. What we must ask is: ‘does that automatically make it right?’ Does a person’s natural passion determine what is right and what is wrong? In the culture we live in the answer is often yes and no. The yes answer from the culture goes like this: yes a person’s passion does determine right and wrong as long as it does not harm anyone else. On the other hand, if a person’s passions put someone else in harm’s way then it would more than likely be considered wrong. Why is there so much variation on what is right and wrong? Is the only thing that determines values the consequence it has on someone else? Or should our values be based on something more?
We live in an unstable day where ethics are considered to be the product of society and are not based in the nature and character of God. If ethics are determined by society, then it would seem reasonable to determine right and wrong based on the cultural principle that everything is permissible as long as it doesn’t don’t hurt anyone. This of course begs the question, who determines what is harmful or not? Is the neighbor who doesn’t recycle hurting someone? What about the family with six kids, or the man obsessed with pornography, or the guy who just wants to get high? There is no ethical neutrality on these issues; the one affirming the activities makes the positive statement that they are right while the one condemning them is saying they are wrong. The value call is not neutral. It is rooted in one’s view of ethics: either ethics are grounded in society or in God. Ethics rooted in the nature and character of God are universal and for all people, all times and all places. That is why Christians have traditionally considered homosexual activity a sin. The challenge our culture faces is that God has been removed from the equation and we have been told to bring God into our thinking is unscientific and irrational. This makes it difficult to converse with someone who is in favor of homosexual activity. To bring God into the situation seems laughable, but the reality is God is the foundation for the Christian’s ethic. Christians must not give up ground on this point; God is real and He has determined the ethics for our world, and it is the Christian’s responsibility to stand by them no matter how unpopular they are.
Up to this point things have seemed bleak. Some might be thinking, “See, this is why people hate Christians, they are so self-righteous and judgmental, they should just let people be happy and stop interfering with other people’s lives.” Or, “Okay it is true, according to the Bible God considers homosexual activity a sin, but why all the fuss over this one particular sin?” The reason is this sin is being put to the forefront of our culture and presented as an alternative lifestyle that is just as viable as anything else. The culture is banging the drum in favor of homosexual activity and it seems almost deafening. All around the country the same ideas are being promoted: homosexual activity is right and it is wrong to oppose it. The culture has it backwards, the right is wrong and the wrong is right: homosexual activity is wrong, it is right to oppose it. What gives the Christians the right? God. Now that sounds self-righteous, but at the end of the day when opposing views clash things are bound to get heated.
Here is where the hope comes in. The Bible has identified homosexual activity as a sin, but God sent Jesus to save sinners. The challenge for this message comes in the way people view themselves. Once again there seems to be two views: the culture and the Bible. The cultural view is that “being homosexual” is just part of who someone is, like being tall or being French. So to say homosexual activity is wrong makes it seem like a civil rights issue, on par with racial issues. Someone holding this view would find it offensive to say that homosexual activity is wrong and would go through major turmoil trying to prove that it’s just who they are and therefore not immoral. On the other hand, the Biblical view sees homosexual activity as a sin. The Bible does use the term homosexual to speak of people who are caught up in a continual lifestyle of homosexual acts but it does not categorize them as a breed of person. A person’s activity, whether thievery or homosexuality, can identify who they are in biblical terms (see 1 Cor. 6:9-10), but that label can be removed (unlike being tall or of French heritage). As it was noted above, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 explains that thieves and homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God, but the next verse states, “such were some of you, but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.“ There were those in Corinth who at one time or another were so taken up with stealing and homosexual activity that they could be identified as thieves and homosexuals, but the Bible says “such were some of you.” This was no longer their identity; they are now Christians and identified with Christ. While becoming a Christians does not automatically make someone lose all passion to sin, it does give them the power to overcome it (Rom 6). Perhaps someone still has the desire to seek out same-sex relationships after they become a Christian, the Bible’s answer for that desire is to crucify the flesh. Those passions that are contrary to God’s law need to be mortified. A Christian needs to say no just as much as they would to any other sin. The battle between the ungodly desires of the flesh and what the Spirit of God wants done in a person’s life will be something that Christians deal with their whole life (Gal 5:17). The person who desires homosexual activity must realize that despite their passions on the issue, they should not go through with the act. To some, this may seem unfair. One might ask, “How come a person with heterosexual desires gets to seek out those passions within marriage and the person with homosexual desires does not?” Underneath this question is the assumption that sexual gratification is a person’s right and that if it is not met, a person is bound to suffer unjustly. The Christian is called to suffer with Christ. If that means they are to deny the flesh in order to seek out God’s ways, then that is what needs to be done. Jesus said, “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell.” (Mark 9:47) Jesus also taught that: “there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 19:12) We have a sex obsessed culture that seeks out and elevates self-gratification above all else. This thinking has crept into the church and has caused Christians to doubt the heart of God and the sincerity of the Word but understand God is clear on this issue.
The Bottom Line
A person’s position of right and wrong can come from a few sources: experience, reason, culture, or God; and the case is often all four. The Christian must realize that their worldview needs to be formed by the mind of God which is expressed most clearly in the Bible. It is true the Bible sees homosexuality as a sin, but it is not unpardonable. Jesus came to set sinners free. Jesus died on the cross to take the wrath of God for all sin. Christians must realize their own sinful tendencies and have a gracious attitude toward all. If it were not for God’s grace we would all still be in our sins. While all Christians are called to be gracious remembering the grace that was given to us, we cannot affirm homosexual activity because God does not affirm it. Those struggling with this sin must realize that just like other sins of the flesh, Jesus can give you the power to have victory. The struggle to not follow the passions of the flesh may mean a life of celibacy, but it does not mean misery. For a life devoted to God is more precious to your soul than a life lived to the flesh.