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Christianity and Homosexuality
15 January 2014
In my recent articles, we have seen that not all sins are created equal and we have briefly explored the New Testament on sexual sin. In that NT overview, we learned that there are Greek words which refer to sexual immorality in general, while there are other words which refer to specific types of sexual immorality, like adultery and homosexuality.
When talking about sexual immorality, it's important to remember the definition of such sin. God has established loving, logical boundaries, within which humans may engage in sexual activity without harming themselves or displeasing God. He has decreed that all sexual activity must be enjoyed exclusively between a man and a woman who are married. Any other sexual activity outside of these limits are, by definition, out of bounds. Therefore, sex before marriage, sex while married with someone other than your spouse, and homosexuality are all equally forbidden and considered sexual immorality.
While it is true that in the Old Testament God allowed polygamy, in the New Testament the references to marriage indicate a monogamous relationship: 1 Corinthians 7:2; 1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6. An exclusive marriage relationship between one man and one woman has been the foundation of Christian society for the past 2,000 years. Of course, homosexuals and others who oppose God's ways are hellbent on destroying that foundation. Unfortunately, even on this very day there are still those who want to promote polygamy.
Some people accuse Christians, especially those in America, of being too obsessed with hot-button issues like abortion and homosexuality. While there is some truth to these criticisms, I don't think the solution is for the church to become less focused on homosexuality. Rather, the church needs to bring itself back into balance by realigning its priorities based on the following two realities.
First, much of the American church has been strongly against homosexuality while at the same time tolerating other "more acceptable" sexual immorality in its midst, like fornication and adultery. Even divorce, in certain circumstances, can result in sexual immorality, as was noted in the last part of the New Testament On Sexual Sin article. So rather than being MORE tolerant of homosexuality in the church, there is a great need for the church to become LESS tolerant of ALL types of sexual immorality in the lives of its members.
Second, you will hopefully have noticed that I was careful to state in the previous paragraph that the church should be less tolerant of sexual immorality in its midst, amongst its members. This is much different than the church's usual approach of condemning homosexuality and other sexual immorality OUTSIDE the church in society at large. Such a misguided, off-target focus runs contrary to what the New Testament teaches:
When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn't talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin ... you would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin ... don't even eat with such people. It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, "You must remove the evil person from among you." (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)These instructions from the Apostle Paul nicely sum up the balanced approach the church needs to take. The church is NOT to judge non-Christians who engage in sexual immorality, including homosexuality — that is God's responsibility alone. BUT, the church IS responsible to judge those IN the church who are indulging in sexual immorality, including homosexuality — we will take an in-depth look at this issue in my next article: Sexual Sin In the Church. As things stand now, much of the church has things backwards: it condemns the sexual immorality of non-believers while tolerating the sexual sin of those in the church.
Although the Bible does not address the issue of homosexuality very often, when it does it is quite clear about it. Because there are only 12 references, for the sake of completeness we will take the time to consider each one.
The most straightforward statements of God's view of homosexuality are found in the Old Testament book of Leviticus:
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. (Leviticus 18:22)That seems pretty clear — it's difficult to see how you can argue with that (although the homosexuals try very hard to!). The second set of Old Testament verses use a Hebrew word which means a male homosexual who engaged in prostitution with male worshippers at the shrines of pagan gods:
If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (Leviticus 20:13)
No woman of Israel is to engage in ritual prostitution, and no man of Israel is to engage in ritual homosexual prostitution. (Deuteronomy 23:17)It is significant that as part of the worship of pagan gods — which, as the Apostle Paul declared, are actually demons (see 1 Corinthians 10:19-21) — such satanic worship included the perverse acts of homosexuality. It should really come as no surprise that the spiritual immorality of worshiping false gods should have as one of its expressions the sexual immorality of prostitution and homosexuality. Man is an integral being, so that what is in his heart sooner or later is revealed by his actions.
The people of the tribe of Judah did evil in the eyes of Yahweh. By the sins they committed they stirred up His jealous anger more than those who were before them had done.... There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations Yahweh had driven out before the Israelites. (1 Kings 14:22,24)
King Asa expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made.... Asa's heart was fully committed to Yahweh all his life. (1 Kings 15:12,14b)
In everything King Jehoshaphat followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of Yahweh.... He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa. (1 Kings 22:43,46)
King Josiah stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of Yahweh — to follow Yahweh and keep His commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in the book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.... Josiah also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of Yahweh.... Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to Yahweh as he did — with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses. (2 Kings 23:3,7,25)
The remaining two references to homosexuality in the Old Testament are encounters with actual live homosexuals, rather than just laws or stories about them:
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. They called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them." Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, "No, my friends. Don't do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof." They replied, "Get out of our way! We'll treat you worse than them!" They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. (Genesis 19:4-9)As you can see, these accounts are VERY similar, even though they took place hundreds of years apart. What stands out to me is the agressiveness and even militancy of the homosexuals. It wasn't just a single encounter between two individuals, but the homosexuals supported each other by banding together to force their agenda on the unwilling. This is very much like the militant attitude of the homosexual community in our day, which is working overtime to force their agenda of sexual perversion on modern society — and even on the church, as I shall explore in more detail in a future article.
While they were enjoying their supper, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, "Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him." The owner of the house went outside and said to them, "No, my friends, don't be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don't do this outrageous thing. Look, here is my virgin daughter, and his concubine. I will bring them out to you now, and you can use them and do to them whatever you wish. But as for this man, don't do such an outrageous thing." But the men would not listen to him. So the man took his concubine and sent her outside to them, and they raped her and abused her throughout the night. (Judges 19:22-25a)
Christian teaching did not develop in a vacuum, but was rooted in the teaching and morality of the Jewish Scriptures and religion. Therefore, the same prohibitions against homosexuality in Judaism carried over to Christianity. In the New Testament, there are only two verses which use the Greek words for homosexuals:
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men — neither the active homosexual partner nor the passive homosexual partner. (1 Corinthians 6:9)For more information about the particular Greek words which refer to the active and passive participants in homosexual acts, see The New Testament On Sexual Sin. As I said above, sexual immorality is sexual immorality, whether heterosexual or homosexual. All such sexual sin is a breaking of God's laws, and is therefore harmful to our inner person, and in many cases even our bodies (i.e. sexually transmitted diseases).
The law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy ... for people who are sexually immoral, who practice homosexuality ... or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching. (1 Timothy 1:9-10)
We will start to bring our overview of Christianity and homosexuality to a close by considering Paul's famous passage on the subject found in the opening chapter of his letter to the church in Rome.
God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.... God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.... They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. (Romans 1:24,26,27,32)In this passage Paul does not use any of the specific Greek words for homosexuality, but rather uses other words to describe what homosexuality is: sinful desires, sexual impurity, shameful lusts and shameful acts which exchange natural sexual relations with the opposite sex for unnatural, degrading sexual relations with members of the same sex.
So why do human beings choose to abandon what is normal and natural, and instead choose to degrade themselves through homosexuality? Why do homosexuals push their agenda so hard, even to the point of social militancy? Why do a significant number of scientists and "experts" insist that homosexuality is not a choice, but that people are born that way, and that homosexuals can in no wise control their sexual "preference" than they can control the color of their eyes or their shoe size?
Why do some homosexuals try so hard to twist and reinterpret the 12 Scriptures above in an attempt to make it seem that God is not against homosexuality, and that He even approves of it? Why do some who call themselves Christians insist that homosexuals can be followers of Yeshua (Jesus) and remain active homosexuals at the same time? Why do some proclaim that homosexuality is not sexual immorality, even though the Bible clearly states that it is?
Why are there directories of churches for homosexuals, and special networks for homosexual "Christians" and special conferences for homosexual "Christians" where they can "seek God together"? Are there special churches and networks and conferences for "Christians" who are actively living the lifestyle of prostitutes, adulterers, pedophiles, zoosexuals or pornographers? Do you see advertisements inviting people to the "church of the active adulterers" or the "church of the active pedophiles"? If none of these other sexual sins have their own special churches, then why do homosexuals?
Why is it that when I was searching for Web sites that discuss homosexuality and the Bible, almost all of the ones I found were PRO-homosexual? Why is there so much confusion about this subject? Why is there so much delusion among people who consider themselves Bible-believing Christians? Why, why, why, why, WHY?
In the same Romans chapter one I quoted from above, Paul gives us the clear and Biblical answer:
Although they know the truth about God, they neither glorify Him as God nor give thanks to Him, but their thinking has become futile and their foolish hearts are darkened. Although they claim to be wise, they have become fools.... They exchange the truth about God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than the Creator — Who is forever praised. Because of this, God gives them over to shameful lusts.... Furthermore, just as they do not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gives them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. (Romans 1:21,22,25,26a,28,29a)In relation to this passage, I must quote once more what I already shared above:
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men — neither the active homosexual partner nor the passive homosexual partner. (1 Corinthians 6:9)In Romans 1, Paul gives the definitive answer to my many, many "whys." When human beings reject God and refuse to glorify Him as God or to give thanks to Him, this is what happens as a result:
There is a MASSIVE amount of deception in the church as it becomes more and more approving of homosexuality — a specific type of sexual immorality which the Bible clearly condemns. But Paul plainly warned us to not be deceived, because those who don't turn away from such sexual immorality will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.
I'm not going to waste my time repeating the twisted propaganda the pro-homosexuals use to argue that God and the Bible are OK with homosexuality, nor am I going to try to counter their arguments. What's the point? Such people have become futile in their thinking, their foolish hearts have been darkened, their minds have become depraved, and they are deceived. How can you argue with people in that condition? They don't need to be intellectually debated out of their errors, but their hearts and minds need to be spiritually set free from their depravity and foolishness and darkness.
The most recent and most successful militant homosexual attack on society and the church is the whole concept of homosexual "marriage." Using perverted logic and emotional arm-twisting, the homosexual community is promoting and expanding their depraved agenda at an alarming rate. So I'll have to say it again: Throughout the entire Bible, the only kind of sexual relationship, and the only kind of marriage, which God approves of is a marriage between a man and a woman. There is not one positive example of, or reference to, homosexuality in the entire Bible. ALL sexual immorality is forbidden, including homosexual "marriage."
Does this mean that there is no place in the church for homosexuals, prostitutes, adulterers, fornicators, pedophiles, and anyone else engaged in any other kind of sexual sin? Are the doors of the church locked to such people, and the gates to the kingdom of God barred? Of course not! Can churches welcome homosexuals? Of course! Just like they can welcome any other kind of sinner trapped in sexual immorality. Right after Paul stated that the sexually immoral and adulterers and homosexuals would not inherit the kingdom of God, he wrote:
And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Master, Yeshua the Messiah, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)Notice he didn't say, "that is what some of you ARE," but "that is what some of you WERE." Once a person turns to God and away from their sexual immorality, God washes away their filth, sanctifies them and justifies them. Of course homosexuals and all the other sexually immoral can come to church. All of us followers of Yeshua came to Him as sinners.
But once we decide to remain in the church and follow Him, we must turn from our sexual immorality and be cleansed from it. You can't live in sexual immorality and still follow Yeshua at the same time, just like you can't travel east and travel west at the same time. In both situations, you have to go either one direction or the other, because they are opposite directions. A "Christian homosexual" is an oxymoron, just like pretending you're a "Christian prostitute" or a "Christian pedophile" or a "Christian murderer."
For an in-depth look at this issue, be sure to read this excellent article: Can You Be Christian and Still Homosexual?
God loves sinners and gave His Son Yeshua to die for our sins. He's not a God who hates homosexuals, as the members of the Westboro Baptist Church would have you believe. He loves every person on earth, and wants each one to turn from their sin and enter into an intimate relationship with Himself. The question is, are we going to glorify and worship Him as God, or are we going to harden our hearts and reject Him?
It is very important to note that although the Old Covenant penalty for homosexuality (as well as a number of other sins) was death, under the New Covenant which Yeshua initiated, the punishment for sin is reserved for the Last Judgment after Yeshua returns to this earth, rather than the full punishment being inflicted on sinners in this life. While there is still breath in the body, it is never too late to turn from our sins, confess them to God, receive His forgiveness through the shed blood of Yeshua, and dedicate ourselves to live by His holy desires instead of our own sinful desires.
In my next article in this series, we will take a look at what the New Testament instructs the church to do when a member continues to live in sexual immorality and refuses to turn away from it — Sexual Sin In the Church. I will also probe further into Homosexuality and Christianity.
This article is 11th a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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