Saturday, April 14, 2007

Homosexuality and Christianity

Homosexuality is a hot topic in today’s society. It can be found just about anywhere and everywhere. It pops up in discussions on marriage (Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?), adoption (Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children?), parenting (Is having two mommies or two daddies a healthy parental atmosphere for children?), health issues (How should we approach AIDS epidemic and other STDs?), entertainment (The popularity of "The L Word," for instance, and the general mainstreaming of homosexual characters.), the military (General Pace’s comments about homosexual acts being “immoral” and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy; what should the military's approach to homosexuals be?), and even civil rights.

But, the debates and discussions do not merely take place in the public square, between Christians and non-Christians, conservatives and liberals, etc. and etc.. Rather, they rage on within the Church, as well, between Christians and… Christians, supposedly. In this venue, the point up for debate is often different than that of the public square.

The confrontation usually centers around one or more of three questions, which are:

1.) Is homosexuality sinful, immoral, un-Christian, wrong, and reproachable?

2.) Can a homosexual become a Christian? / Can a Christian be a practicing homosexual?

3.) How should Christians act toward and show love to homosexuals?



In this article, I will try to sufficiently address each of these issues.

I~~~~~~~~


Concerning the first question, I’m tempted to say, “Where’s the controversy? What’s the problem?” If the Bible were any clearer on the topic of homosexuality, it could be argued that its focus on homosexuality was disproportionate, considering the level of commonness in relation to other acts.
But, lest you take my word, let’s look directly to the Scriptures.

In a chapter that includes references to bestiality, incest, and other forms of lewdness, Leviticus so groups homosexuality, using one of God’s strongest words of condemnation—“abomination.”

“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

Later in Leviticus, homosexuality is called a “detestable act.”

“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…” (Leviticus 20:13)

Although Christians do not execute sinners as the Jewish theocracy was commanded to, the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality is evident.

Romans 1 calls homosexual desires “degrading passions.” It describes homosexual acts as “indecent” (Lit. “the shameless deed”) and “unnatural,” thereby defiling and disobeying the image and purposes of God. (Genesis 1:26)

“…God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 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…” (Romans 1:26-27)

1 Corinthians 6:9 names homosexuals as those among “the unrighteous” who “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“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, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

This, of course, refers to those not saved, as we would see, if we were to read on in the chapter. But still, the message of the sinfulness and unacceptable nature of these acts is unmistakable. What a poignant admonition for today: “Do not be deceived.”

In 1 Timothy, the Bible says that homosexuals are one people of many for whom “the law is made,” being “contrary to sound teaching.”

“…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 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching…” (1 Timothy 1:9-10)

Notice the listing technique in the previous two passages. God neither unfairly singles homosexuals nor sugarcoats their behavior as a lesser sin—much less not a sin at all. Also, note the fact that the last three passages are from the New Testament, immediately debunking any sort of “that’s Old Testament-stuff” argument.

So we see clearly the Bible’s emphatic condemnation of homosexual behavior, defining it is as abominable, detestable, degrading, indecent, unnatural, unrighteous, lawless, and contrary to sound teaching, while still not unfairly or disproportionately concentrating on this specific “orientation.”

But this is not the end. The Bible irrefutably defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, something to be honored and respected.

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Mark 10:7-9)

“Because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:2)

“Marriage is to be held in honor among all…” (Hebrews 13:4)

Therefore, it can be concluded that homosexual sex, as any other form of sex, definitively outside the bonds of marriage, is also a type of adultery, if you will, though it doesn't meet the heterosexual definition of fornication. Several of the passages of Scripture I’ve already quoted, as well as many others, mention these sins in addition to homosexuality. The adultery of the heart mentioned in Matthew 5:28 can, in all likelihood, be applied to homosexuals along with heterosexuals.

There is a significant difference, however, between homosexual and heterosexual immorality. Adultery can generally be ratified: repent and stop being unfaithful; have sex only with your spouse. Fornication has a related solution: repent, marry someone, and have sex with him/her solely. Homosexuality, on the other hand, can only be resolved through repentance, abstaining entirely from this type of behavior, and experiencing a miraculous sexual orientation transformation. (Of course, with the solutions to all three of these sins, I’m oversimplifying and ignoring the intrinsic element of lust.)

Also, homosexuality spits in the face of God’s admonition to “Be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:7) Granted, all sex doesn’t have to result in children, and all people aren’t even required to be sexually active. Nonetheless, homosexuality is of such a nature—being against nature—that there is not even a possibility of producing offspring. Something about that seems wrong to me.

What I think is a most telling element of God’s view on homosexuality is that there is not one “biblical hero” in the Bible who is a homosexual. Conceded, there are some Heroes of the Bible who had serious sin issues, but recognize that as their shortcomings weren’t celebrated, homosexuality is not a thing to be celebrated either. Some may try to say that David and Jonathan or Jesus and John the Beloved had homosexual relationships, but these are sensationalist and unfounded claims that simply epitomize the over-sexualized state of today’s culture.

II~~~~~~~~

Some proponents of homosexuality may not even try to deny the act’s sinfulness, but rather simply say that all Christians are sinners saved by grace. While this statement is inherently true, its use as an argument for Christian acceptance of open, practicing homosexuals is as weak and illogical—from a biblical perspective—if not more so, as the claim that homosexuality is not a sin at all. Those espousing this philosophy can’t seem to grasp the biblical concept that homosexuals can become Christians, but Christians can’t continue to practice homosexuality; that Christians can fall into sin, like homosexuality, but Christians can’t/shouldn’t embrace sin; that Christians stumble into sin, but Christians do not rightly walk in sin; that works do not earn salvation, but works result from salvation; that Christians are in the world, but not of it.

This is not a difficult thought process to follow. No one is (or very few are) saying that churches should ordain or accept unrepentant, continuing, serial killers, or unrepentant, continuing, serial liars, or even unrepentant, continuing adulterers. Yet, when it comes to proud, open, practicing homosexuals, the debate is fertile.

Let’s again look at the Scriptures:

Jesus told the adulterous woman, “Go. From now on sin no more.” (John 8:11) He told His disciples, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) A basic and fundamental prerequisite of salvation is to repent and turn away from one’s sins—or, in other words, turn to God.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Earlier in the book, he states, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? …so we too might walk in newness of life…knowing…that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin…consider yourselves to be dead to sin… Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God… thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient…” (From Romans 6)

Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me…” Christ! The Sinless One! In Philippians 1:21, he says, “…to live is Christ…” Paul beseeches the Corinthians, “Flee immorality… do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Compare the deeds of the flesh, “…immorality, impurity, sensuality…”, to the Fruit of the Spirit, “…goodness, faithfulness…self-control…” (Galatians 5:19-23)

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25)

In Colossians, Paul speaks of praying for the Christians at Colossae, “…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:11)

Paul sets the bar in Ephesians when he declares that “…immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” (Ephesians 5:3) A few verses later, he explains, “…for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness…” (Ephesians 5:8-11)

John tells us, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6) Again, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him… the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 John 2:4, 6) Later, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9)

Though this is a complicated theological issue—the difference between walking and falling into sin, the salvation status of backsliders and those who have walked away, etc.—the core concept is still relatively easy to understand.

So, once again, simply by opening the Bible, we see that another argument crumbles utterly. But… have we stumbled upon the real issue at stake here? Do all who call themselves Christians believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word of God? Certainly not. Many do not believe that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) They do not believe that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Some have “…exchanged the truth of God for a lie…” (Romans 1:25) Hence, the questions arise: why do they even want to be considered Christians? Are they true Christians? Can they have real faith, an essential element of salvation (Ephesians 2:8) without which it is impossible to please God? (Hebrews 11:6)

But, regardless of whether those mentioned above are assuredly damned or not, that assertion alone doesn’t really get us anywhere. We need to know what TO DO.

III~~~~~~~~

So how do we love homosexuals and others mistaken about issues of Christianity? It may be tempting to think that quiet withdrawal, passive resistance, and seeker-sensitive acceptance are the best methods. But, allowing people to slip into hell or walk apart from God’s Will is in no way the loving thing to do. Deception through silence, cruelty through niceties, and damnation through acceptance are in no way the Christian way. Yet, scathing, coarse, polarizing and seemingly hateful rebukes do not create progress either. We must combine firmness with gentleness, toughness with love ("tough love"), and clarity with discretion. Here are six things to do:

a.) First, study this article—study the Bible—carefully. Know what the Bible says, but not just about homosexuality. Rather, be “…ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15)

b.) Second, speak “…the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) “…with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3:15) but speak the truth nonetheless. Exhibit the characteristics of love and the Fruit of the Spirit: patience, kindness, humility, unselfishness, forgiveness, longsuffering, perseverance, peace, gentleness, etc. (1 Corinthians 13 ; Galatians 5:22-23)
c.) Third, make no double-standards, and keep your relationship with God right. “…first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Keep “…a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame…” (1 Peter 3:16)

d.) Love and lead by example and for real, not just by statement. “…let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

e.) Fourthly, remember that the foundation to ultimate change and progress is genuine salvation. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26-27)

f.) Lastly and always: pray. “…pray without ceasing…” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

~Kingdom Advancer

9 comments:

Keith M. said...

Sorry I didn't read the entire article but from what I did read, I agree. Too many people 'let it slide'

SolaMeanie said...

I think it's interesting that such a TINY minority of people (2 to 5 percent of the population if even that much) can dominate so much airtime and print media. Hmmm. Could there be an agenda afloat? And how did we ever come to this pass where a behavior is considered a civil right or a minority?

As a society, we've given way too much ground on this issue.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Keith, I understand. I didn't initially mean for it to be so...how do I put it? "Comprehensive."

Sola, that's what I was talking about when I said that the Bible seems almost disproportionate--or would seem if it was to any greater extent--in its coverage of homosexuality. But, of course God knew that there'd be societies such as ours catering to homosexuals.

Christinewjc said...

Excellent post! Excellent, Biblically based points! This is a topic that Christians must address today. Most don't want to because they will likely be labeled (unfairly)as "bigots," "homophobic," and the list is endless...

But look at how the battles over this issue have infiltrated the churches and caused such derision, grief, pain and separation.

Satan will use anything to keep unsaved people under his grip of deceit and despair. At the same time, he's a master of influence; making it appear (to the secular world) that those who don't support, don't condone, and don't celebrate homosexual behavior (in fact are warning against it!) are the enemies of these lost individuals.

All we can do is continue to sound the alarm bells, hope and pray that many on the road to hell will one day see the light and heed the call of the Holy Spirit to repent and be reconciled unto God through Jesus Christ.

I plan to link to this post in my next segment about What's Wrong With the Far Left?

Kingdom Advancer said...

Thank you, Christine.

Yes, what could be more clever than for the devil and his demons to "demonize" Christians speaking biblical truth? That's why Christians have to be careful--but clear--in their tone. WE are to be the caring ones. GOD is the Loving One.

From my post:

"It may be tempting to think that quiet withdrawal, passive resistance, and seeker-sensitive acceptance are the best methods. But, allowing people to slip into hell or walk apart from God’s Will is in no way the loving thing to do. Deception through silence, cruelty through niceties, and damnation through acceptance are in no way the Christian way. Yet, scathing, coarse, polarizing and seemingly hateful rebukes do not create progress either. We must combine firmness with gentleness, toughness with love ("tough love"), and clarity with discretion."

Allowing homosexuals to live their lifestyles unchecked is like allowing a child to walk through a fire or a blind man to walk towards (and eventually off) a cliff just because they adamantly want to. They, like homosexuals, clearly can't see the ramifications of their actions.

Though I called for no double-standards and though I showed plainly the Bible's approach to homosexuality, and though I demonstrated how Christians should act lovingly toward homosexuals, I'm sure that I and this article would be considered by some as being "homophobic," "hateful," etc. All one has to say is "I personally believe homosexuality to be an immoral act" (like General Pace said) and there's an uproar as if he had been burning homosexuals at the stake.

What really gets me is that some "Christians" expect Bible-believing Christians to not follow the Bible.

Palm boy said...

Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang.
What a post... You should file this one under 'best of'

Kingdom Advancer said...

I haven't started a label like that yet...but if you say so, I might need one...

loveroftruth said...

Very good. Very thorough.

I was wrong when I said earlier that I was "blazing my own trail" or something to that effect. What a foolish thing to say. I realized today that I can never take any pride in discovering something. All truth flows from God. Any thing I learn is from Him, and chances are He has already shown that truth to someone else before, somewhere, sometime. I will be thankful for the privilege of catching an occasional glimpse. And if something appears to be new, if it isn't from God, it is counterfeit. If I glory, I will glory in the Lord.

I would like to praise you, KA. You are very talented, but I am afraid it isn't good to lift people up too much. It is Jesus in you. He is the One worthy of praise. So I praise Jesus for this well-written piece. :-) No doubt He has great plans for your future.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Well, if you direct the praise straight to God, you reduce the chances of my head swelling instead of reflecting the praise to God, which is what I should always endeavor to do. :)