The claim by some denominations that the Spirit of God has led them to accept homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle is without scriptural basis…it is not the Spirit of God revealing new and modern truth, but rather human spirits who are seeking to accommodate themselves to societal pressures!
The practice of homosexuality and its acceptance as an alternative lifestyle is becoming more prevalent in our society today. Nearly everyday we read and hear of things which indicate more people are accepting homosexuality as a normal behavior. For example:
• Ordinances being passed which grant homosexuals and lesbians equal rights to practice and promote their “lifestyle”
• The formation of gay churches, even the ordination of gay priests and ministers in mainstream Protestant denominations
• Cities like San Francisco, Miami Beach and Key West which appear to cater to the open display of homosexual behavior How shall Christians react to all this?
I believe it is our responsibility to openly and willingly face this problem in several ways.
WE NEED TO SPEAK THE TRUTH IN LOVE
First, we need to present the truth of God on the subject of homosexuality, but in the proper way. I fear that many Christians betray a true “homophobia” in their reaction against homosexuality, and often come close to “gay bashing” in their efforts to stem the tide of increasing acceptance of homosexuality in our society.
This is not the ‘major’ sin among us, generally, yet it is often the one most talked about in a way that projects an image we do like to have associated with us. Though we need to present what God’s Word teaches on the subject, let us do so by “speaking the truth in love” (Ep 4:15).
We who profess to be Christians should remember the admonition of the apostle Paul when it comes to sharing God’s Word with those with whom we differ: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Ti 2:24-26)
There is no place for a self-righteous, arrogant attitude on the part of those who but for the grace of God would be just as guilty of sins as those we are trying to reach! Otherwise, we sin at the same time we are trying to lead others out of sin…
BE READY TO ASSIST THOSE WHO DESIRE TO OVERCOME HOMOSEXUALITY
Even as Jesus was quick to receive sinners and to lead them to the way of righteousness and life everlasting, so should those who claim to be His disciples. Again, the challenge will be to do it in the proper way.
Paul’s instructions to the Galatians can serve as good beginning: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Ga 6:1-2)
In a spirit of gentleness we need to be able to show them how, and to provide the encouragement they will need along the way. It is my prayer that the material presented in this study can be a positive step toward helping Christians to accomplish these three things.
Determining The Truth About Homosexuality
To know the truth about homosexuality, one must first determine the real source of truth itself. Many might question whether there is in reality a source of truth which governs such things as we are considering.
Most people believe that if there is, it comes from the research of scientists. But the problem with scientific research is that the testing, evaluating, and interpreting of the evidence is often flawed by the personal agendas of those on both sides of the issue. Maintaining total objectivity is rarely done, especially among scientific circles who often must be “politically correct” in order to receive the grants necessary to conduct their research.
The Christian by definition recognizes and appeals to a different “source” of truth, though it is firmly believed that with time and true objectivity this “source” will be confirmed by “scientific” sources. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we believe the truth is to be found in Him. As He Himself said… “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (Jn 14:6)
The realm of truth found in Jesus covers many areas, but especially those of sexual mores and behavior. Consider what Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart; “who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
“But you have not so learned Christ, “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: “that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, “and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, “and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ep 4:17-24)
So the truth which is in Jesus has much to say about what constitutes righteousness and true holiness. But one might ask, “Why should we accept Jesus over the scientific experts of today?” The Christian is convinced that God has furnished proof that Jesus is the true judge in regards to righteousness. How? By virtue of His resurrection from the dead! As Paul said when speaking to the Greek philosophers in Athens:
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Ac 17:3031)
Can anyone else provide such evidence that they know what they are talking about? Jesus by virtue of His resurrection provides the ultimate demonstration that when He speaks, we should listen! Until those modern day scientists, sociologists and philosophers who speak with such assurance that homosexual conduct is a morally acceptable lifestyle can present similar proof that they know what they are talking about, I would caution against accepting their judgments on these issues.
If we accept Jesus, then, as the ultimate source of truth, to what sources did He attribute truth? There are several:
THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS (i.e., the Old Testament)
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19)
Though we learn later (in the books of Romans, Galatians, Hebrews, etc.) that Jesus did indeed fulfill the Law and bring in a New Covenant, it is evident that He considered the Law and the Prophets as a source of truth.
HIMSELF (i.e., the words He spoke while on earth)
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'” (Jn 8:3132)
THE HOLY SPIRIT (who would carry on the work started by Jesus)
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (Jn 16:12-13)
Note carefully, that Jesus did not reveal ALL the truth Himself while here on earth. The Holy Spirit would complete the work, revealing the entire will of Christ through His apostles. This leads us to a fourth source of truth recognized by Jesus…
THE APOSTLES OF JESUS CHRIST (who gave us the New Testament)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send (the word apostle means “one sent”) receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (Jn 13:20)
In accepting Jesus as the ultimate source of truth, then, we must also accept His apostles. In fact, they themselves made it clear that their message was not their own:
“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.” (1 Co 14:37)
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.” (1 Th 2:13)
It is important to understand that the truth revealed by Holy Spirit to the apostles was complete. In other words, we have in the pages of the New Testament God’s full and final revelation. We should not expect the Spirit of God to give us “modern- day revelations” that are contrary to what has been given through the apostles.
Several passages in the New Testament confirm this point: “For I have not shunned to declare to you the WHOLE counsel of God.” (Ac 20:27)
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be COMPLETE, thoroughly equipped for EVERY good work.” (2 Ti 3:16-17)
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for THE FAITH WHICH WAS ONCE FOR ALL (literally, one time for all times) DELIVERED to the saints.” (Jude 3)
The claim, therefore, by some denominations that the Spirit of God has led them to accept homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle is without scriptural basis. It is not the Spirit of God revealing new and modern truth, but rather human spirits who are seeking to accommodate themselves to societal pressures!
Those who accept Jesus as the ultimate source of truth must also accept His definition as to where truth is found. We have seen that He has identified several sources: the Old Testament, Himself, and His apostles. Putting it simply, the Word of God (i.e., the Bible) is the source of truth. As Jesus prayed in behalf of His disciples: “Sanctify them by Your truth, Your word is truth.” (Jn 17:17)
Since the Word of God is the truth, then whatever it teaches regarding homosexuality must be the final word.
Q. What is homosexuality? Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desire toward a member of one’s own sex or the erotic activity with a member of the same sex. (The Greek word homos means the same). A lesbian is a female homosexual. More recently the term “gay” has come into popular use to refer to both sexes who are homosexuals.
Q. How does one determine if the practice of homosexuality is right or wrong? That depends upon who is answering the question. The Christian point of view is based solely upon the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God. A truly Christian standard of ethics is the conduct of divine revelation, not of statistical research nor of public opinion. For the Christian, the Bible is the final authority for both belief and behavior.
Q. What explicitly does the Bible teach about homosexuality? This question I consider to be basic because, if we accept God’s Word on the subject of homosexuality, we benefit from His adequate answer to this problem. I am concerned only with the Christian or biblical view of homosexuality. The Bible has much to say about sex sins in general.
First, there is adultery. Adultery in the natural sense is sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than his or her own spouse. It is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments (Exodus 20:14; I Cor. 6:9, 10). Christ forbids dwelling upon the thoughts, the free play of one’s imagination that leads to adultery (Matthew 5:28).
Second, there is fornication, the illicit sex acts of unmarried persons which is likewise forbidden (I Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; Ephesians 5:3).
Then there is homosexuality which likewise is condemned in Scripture. The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declares that homosexuality “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9; 10). Now Paul does not single out the homosexual as a special offender. He includes fornicators, idolators, adulterers, thieves, covetous persons, drunkards, revilers and extortioners.
Then he adds the comment that some of the Christians at Corinth had been delivered from these very practices: “And such were some of you: But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11). All of the sins mentioned in this passage are condemned by God, but just as there was hope in Christ for the Corinthians, so is there hope for all of us.
Homosexuality is an illicit lust forbidden by God. He said to His people Israel, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13).
In these passages homosexuality is condemned as a prime example of sin, a sexual perversion. The Christian can neither alter God’s viewpoint nor depart from it.
Q. You said that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is condemned in the Bible. How do you explain marriage ceremonies in which two persons of the same sex are united by an officiating clergyman or justice of the peace? There are cases on record where a marriage license was issued to persons of the same sex. However, to call a union of two persons of the same sex a “marriage” is a misnomer. In the Bible, marriage is a divinely ordered institution designed to form a permanent union between one man and one woman for one purpose (among others) of procreating or propagating the human race. That was God’s order in the first of such unions (Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:24; Matthew 19:5). If, in His original creation of humans, God had created two persons of the same sex, there would not be a human race in existence today. The whole idea of two persons of the same sex marrying is absurd, unsound, ridiculously unreasonable, stupid. A clergyman might bless a homosexual marriage but God won’t.
Q. Why do homosexuals refer to themselves as “gay”? The word “gay” means merry, exuberant, bright, lively. More recently it has been adopted by homosexuals. In its original use it did not have this double meaning. The clever adaptation of the word “gay” by homosexuals has robbed it of its pure meaning, thereby corrupting a once perfectly good word. I never use the word “gay” when referring to homosexuals. There are many bright, exuberant, merry people in this world who are not sexual perverts.
Q. You made reference to First Corinthians 6:9-11. What is the meaning of the word “effeminate” in verse 9? There are certain words in every language that can be used in a good or bad sense. In the context of this verse the use of “effeminate” is obviously in a bad sense. It is listed among other evils which are condemned. It describes feminine qualities inappropriate to a man. It is normal and natural for a woman to be sexually attracted to a man; it is abnormal and unnatural for a man to be sexually attracted to another man. Many male homosexuals are effeminate, but not all. Nor are all lesbians unduly masculine.
Q. Are there other Scriptures in the New Testament which deal with homosexuality? Yes. Romans 1:24-27; I Timothy 1:10 and Jude 7. If one takes these Scriptures seriously, homosexuality will be recognized as an evil. The Romans passage is unmistakably clear. Paul attributes the moral depravity of men and women to their rejection of “the truth of God” (1:25). They refused “to retain God in their knowledge” (1:28), thereby dethroning God and deifying themselves. The Old Testament had clearly condemned homosexuality but in Paul’s day there were those persons who rejected its teaching. Because of their rejection of God’s commands He punished their sin by delivering them over to it.
The philosophy of substituting God’s Word with one’s own reasoning commenced with Satan. He introduced it at the outset of the human race by suggesting to Eve that she ignore God’s orders, assuring her that in so doing she would become like God with the power to discern good and evil (Genesis 3:1-5). That was Satan’s big lie. Paul said that when any person rejects God’s truth, his mind becomes “reprobate,” meaning perverted, void of sound judgment. The perverted mind, having rejected God’s truth, is not capable of discerning good and evil.
In Romans 1:26-31 twenty-three punishable sins are listed with homosexuality leading the list. Paul wrote, “For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26, 27). These verses are telling us that homosexuals suffer in their body and personality the inevitable consequences of their wrong doing. Notice that the behaviour of the homosexual is described as a “vile affection” (1:26). The Greek word translated “vile” (atimia) means filthy, dirty, evil, dishonourable. The word “affection” in Greek is pathos, used by the Greeks of either a good or bad desire. Here in the context of Romans it is used in a bad sense. The “vile affection” is a degrading passion, a shameful lust. Both the desire (lusting after) and the act of homosexuality are condemned in the Bible as sin.
Q. There are those persons who say that homosexuality, even though a perverted form of the normal, God-ordained practice of sex, is a genetic problem, constitutionally inherited. Is there evidence to support this view? I read in a periodical that in June, 1963 a panel of specialists in medicine, psychiatry, law, sociology and theology participated in a conference on homosexuality called by the Swiss Evangelical Church Union. That group reached the conclusion that homosexuality is not constitutionally inherited, it is not a part of one’s genetic makeup. The ill-founded and unverifiable myth that homosexuality results from genetic causes is gradually fading away.
Homosexuality must be accepted for what God says it is– sin. Some homosexuals will attempt to circumvent the plain teaching of the Bible with the insipid reply that they are the way God made them. There is not the slightest bit of evidence in Scripture to support this false concept. God never created man with a so-called “homosexual need.” No baby is born a homosexual. Every baby is born male or female. In every place the Bible refers to homosexuality, the emphasis is upon the perversion of sexuality. The practicing homosexual is guilty of “leaving the natural use of the woman” (Romans 1:27), meaning that his behaviour is “against nature” as in the case of the lesbian (Romans 1:26). Inasmuch as homosexuality is opposed to the regular law and order of nature, the genetic concept must be ruled out completely. If homosexuality were a genetic problem, there would be little hope for the homosexual simply because there is no way that the genes in a person can be changed.
Q. Does the Bible tell us how the church should deal with sexual sins? In Old Testament times in Israel God dealt severely with homosexuals. He warned His people through Moses, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13).
Every Jew knew that homosexuality was an abomination, a disgusting practice to be loathed, hated. This was God’s attitude toward that evil practice. He hated it to the extent that He considered it worthy of punishment by death. Now God loved His people Israel dearly, and it was from His great heart of love that He chastened them. The Epistle to the Hebrews says, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth” (Hebrews 12:7). When God issued His law forbidding homosexuality, and the punishment for those persons who violated that law, He did so in order to prevent them from sinning. However, when anyone broke the law, the offender paid the penalty due him. God is a holy God who hates and judges sin. Parents who love their children will not refrain from warning them of prevailing evils, nor will they fail to chasten them when they disobey. The church today not only tolerates sin but in some instances condones it. God does neither.
In the New Testament the principle of discipline was applied with apostolic authority. In the church at Corinth the young man who was committing fornication with his step-mother was excommunicated. Paul instructed the church to take that action “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . and with the power (i.e. the authority) of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 5:1-8). In Romans 1:21-32 where Paul shows the Gentile world in its downward plunge into sin, including the sin of homosexuality, verse 32 concludes with the words, “who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death . . . “
Q. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for the church? Nothing is more foundationally essential for the church and the world than a return to the truth. Recently I read where someone said we are suffering from a famine of the worst kind, “a truth-famine.” Our modern culture is in a degenerating, deteriorating stage caused by a departure from the truth. And I must say unequivocally that truth does not exist independently of God, and His written Word the Bible, and His Son Jesus Christ. Truth is in no sense of man’s imagination or contrivance. A civilization without the truth is doomed to oblivion. Every ancient civilization that ignored God and His laws has crumbled. We cannot survive independently of God and His Word.
Q. What should be the Christian’s attitude toward the homosexual? The Christian who shares God’s love for lost sinners will seek to reach the homosexual with the gospel of Christ. I should hate all sin but I can find no justification for hating the sinner. The homosexual is a precious soul for whom Christ died. We Christians can show him the best way of life by pointing him to Christ.