By Rob Morgan
My, how times have changed! Mainline denominations are ordaining homosexuals, the media relentlessly pushes the gay agenda, and public schools are introducing homosexually-friendly texts to the same classrooms that jettisoned Bibles a generation ago. Once Christians were viewed as healthy, and homosexuals were considered immoral. Now Christianity is viewed as dysfunctional, and homosexuality is fashionable.
Case in point: Don Pritchett, Christian software developer in Washington, was recently denied as a mentor in “Big Brothers” because of his biblical standards. They didn’t want him “Christianizing” young people. Yet “Big Brothers” now welcomes homosexuals as participants in its mentoring program for boys.
Homosexuality may be the most definitive moral issue of our times, and it’s important to know what the Bible says. What are God’s thoughts on this? Are we willing to uphold His values?
Genesis 1 and 2 are foundational for understanding the Bible’s views on human sexuality. Here God created a pattern of one man/one woman coming together in a covenant-marriage. From the beginning God ordained that the human race be procreated by men and women in loving, marriage relationships.
Sexual activity outside marriage is consistently viewed as unholy in the scriptures. It isn’t just homosexuality the Bible condemns. Ephesians 5:3 says there should not even be a hint of sexual immorality among us. But when we narrow the subject to homosexuality, we find exactly seven passages in the Bible on this topic.
What God Says
This is the ageless story of Sodom. God’s two angelic emissaries, appearing, it seems, as healthy young men, entered the city to rescue Lot from impending judgment. When the men of Sodom encircled Lot’s house making homosexual advances, the angels struck them with blindness. Shortly afterward, there fell the judgment of a holy God.
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
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.
The Levitical laws were given as Israel grew into a nation under a form of government called theocracy—a society in which the government was headed by Jehovah and administered through a judge or king appointed by Him. Since these were national laws for Israel, we shouldn’t interpret them as if all the details are required of us today. We don’t stone those who pick up sticks on the Sabbath, for example.
But the moral underpinnings of these laws flow from the righteous character of God, and the principles of sexual morality found here are based on timeless ethical principles corresponding to His holy nature.
This shocking story resembles that of Sodom. A Levite took a live-in woman, a concubine. That was legal in those days but unacceptable in God’s eyes. While traveling in Judah, they came to the village of Gibeah where an old man put them up for the night. The men of the city encircled the house, wanting to sodomize the young priest. As a result, this city, too, faced judgment, not from fire and brimstone this time, but from the disciplining sword of Israel.
This passage spells out the five downward steps of societal decay. The first is a rejection of creationism (vv. 18–20). That leads to widespread idolatry (vv. 21–23), followed by unbridled sexuality immorality (vv. 24–25). This gradually deteriorates into the “homosexualization” of the culture (vv. 26–27).
The final stage is total moral collapse as the society becomes filled with every kind of wickedness, greed and depravity (vv. 28–32). This is the Bible’s description of a nation that descends step-by-step into moral and spiritual ruin, and it’s frightening to chart America’s place on the list.
1 Corinthians 6:9–11
Be not deceived: neither fornicators (the sexually immoral), nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (male prostitutes), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexual offenders)…shall inherit the kingdom of God. 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.
1 Timothy 1:9–11
The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient…for them that defile themselves with mankind (sodomites)…and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.
What We Conclude
These are our Lord’s seven words on the subject. So what conclusions can we draw?
The Bible Is Clear
It seems clear to me that the Bible consistently condemns interpersonal sexual activity outside marriage. The foundational passage in Genesis 1–2 provides a starting place for understanding this.
Temptation Not Sin
It’s important to remember, however, that temptation is not sin. In each of these passages, the emphasis is on homosexual activities. It’s possible for men and women to feel both homosexual and heterosexual temptations in a confused, sex-saturated culture like ours, yet resist them. We must avoid temptation whenever possible and we must carefully guard our thought-life, but we also know that temptation isn’t sin till we give into it.
Genes Are No Excuse
Many Christians believe that homosexual tendencies are produced solely by one’s environment, but others believe we may have been genetically damaged by the course of sin in human history. Yet this is no excuse for sinning.
Psychologists Minirth, Meier and Wichern put it this way in their Introduction to Psychology and Counseling: “Genes can predispose one individual to getting drunk more readily than someone else, but those genes do not magically get that person to drink alcohol. Genes may give some males fewer androgens than others, but genes do not force anyone to engage in homosexual behavior.”
God can free anyone struggling with the temptation and sin of homosexuality. As we saw earlier, some in the Corinthian Church had been involved in homosexuality. But they had been washed, they had been justified, they had been sanctified. The gospel of Christ has enough power to change any soul and to rescue from every sin.
Takes a Community
Breaking free from homosexuality requires the power of the blood of Christ, the Word of God and the indwelling Spirit. It often requires counseling with wise Christians with a biblical approach to psychology. It involves the support of one’s Christian friends and church. But the gospel is powerful enough to pull down strongholds. As Wesley said: “He breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free.”
We must also remember that our primary job as Christians is to love people whatever their behavior. When we think of what happened to the gay Wyoming student who was tied to a fencepost and pistol-whipped to death in Texas, it makes our blood boil. While we make no apology for opposing pre-marital, extra-marital, post-marital and gay-oriented sex, we are vitally concerned about the wellbeing of those who engage in these activities. We deeply love them.
Nevertheless, Christians are going to be persecuted over this issue and increasingly accused of “hate-crimes” against homosexuals. The cultural elitists in our society will be vicious in attempting to intimate, marginalize and silence us. But the authority of scripture, not political correctness, governs our thinking. Jesus said that if they hated Him, they will hate us too.
Here’s a final conclusion: We are all sinners. Each of us is capable of any sin, given the right circumstances. Our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. We have fallen short of His glory. Yet Jesus loves us.
Whatever our sins, whatever our past, whatever we’ve done, He died to redeem us. We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any one should boast. As we work with those struggling with this issue, we do so as redeemed sinners seeking to help other sinners.
I suggest we adopt a different tone on this issue than what the world expects. Let’s be both logical and loving. Both courageous and caring. Both truthful and tender-hearted. Let’s be bold in our beliefs and broken-hearted in our attitudes. Let’s make sure our people understand the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Let’s proclaim the truth and love the tempted. Then let’s open our doors for a coming flood of redeemed sinners of every sort—men and women who have been washed, who have been sanctified, who have been justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the power of our gospel.
Article adapted from Contact magazine, March 2004.