Hot Topic – Homosexuality
Homosexuality is a subject that, unless you are in support of it, is one that is most avoided by Christians in the public sphere. However there comes a time when the voices within Christianity are sounding with an unclear sound. This results in confusion. This happens especially when big name ‘Evangelicals’ such as Steve Chalke publish articles in support of the upcoming legislation for homosexual (gay) marriage. He also recently had a service of blessing for a gay couple.
To mention that you are against such a sexual union or to support two parent, mother and father families as being normal is swimming against the tide. To say that anything other than this is abnormal could end up infringing the rights of others simply because someone is offended. Then, add to the mix what the bible says and one day this is something that could lead to a jail sentence. I make no bones about the fact that there will be those who think I am bigoted, uncaring and the product of a by-gone era!
So, before I work this treatise to its logical conclusion I want to make it clear that I have nothing against those who call themselves homosexual or anyone who is part of the LGBT community. I think that we should treat each other with respect even if we disagree in the most strongest terms (disagree without being disagreeable). I have had friends who were homosexual and whilst I, personally, do not applaud their lifestyle, I would not have any issue in eating and drinking with them.
The other thing that needs to be mentioned is that I do not think that the act of union between two men or two women (for instance) is the greatest of all (dare I say?!) sin. Any sex outside of marriage (defined as that between one man and one woman) is sinful. And so is lying, gossiping, and stealing.
The reason why this article is being written is because of the vocal 0.5% of those in the UK who claim to be LGBT and its effect or possible effect upon Christians. I also want to undo the lies told about certain verses of Scripture.
All the foregoing was a prelude to the main article that now follows:
It is unavoidable that Scripture by its plain reading is not pro homosexuality. In fact it is quite the opposite. It is very negative to those who practice this lifestyle. What has happened though is that these plain readings have been attacked by a rather large band of revisionists who interpret Scripture according to the dictates of their own hearts.. They try to justify Scripture to the present world-view. Rick Warren, when interviewed recently by Piers Morgan in the USA, in answer to whether the Bible should be updated, said, that human opinion changes but God’s Word and Truth remain the same. In other words: Opinion changes, truth doesn’t. Here in the UK we have gone from jailing ‘sodomites’ 50 years ago to propagating their message to the point where they should be allowed to publicly marry in the Church.
Now, of course, I do not want to return to making the homosexual lifestyle a criminal offence but why should the Church be involved in affirming their lifestyle? Is this not the devil’s work? Something that has been considered to be against the norm of nature for thousands of years could now lead to the persecution of Christians who in all good conscience cannot lend support to them in such a way. Yet we are finding that such a small group have a great deal of influence that their rights trump the rights of Christians as evidenced in the recent court cases.
But what does the Bible say?
The Old Testament
Leviticus 18:22 (NKJV) 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV)13 If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Caution should be used when using Leviticus for you will come across those who say about the other laws that are contained within it. However moral law still stands as authoritative for a Christian and the ceremonial, civil and ritual laws do not as has been taught since the time of Christ. The revisionists want to say that these laws have nothing to do with normal homosexual living but to do with homosexual pagan and prostitution rites and worship. Whilst this is repeated quite often modern scholarship does not go along with this as there is no evidence that such rites ever existed in the Bible lands. In fact, it would appear that the reason for these laws arises out of the creation story where God blesses the union of Adam and Eve and in revealing God’s perspective on marriage:
Genesis 1:27–28 (NKJV) 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
The Israelites thought that any other kind of union was repugnant and against the natural order ordained by God. In fact wherever we read Scripture it is always in relation to male and female in marriage that is blessed by God and no other kind of union.
The New Testament
The most oft quoted passage and perhaps the most clear is:
Romans 1:26–27 (NKJV) 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
This also is in relation to the creation story which today is also under attack both from without and within the Church. If God did not create us therefore we are not answerable to Him for our rebellion. And because this is on the rise so God has given over the human race to their depravity (v.24 and .26) which reveals how much people are in such need of the grace of God. The giving over to such passions is very much in line with the idea of punishment in the same way that God punished Egypt with plagues. They refuse to acknowledge God as God as Pharaoh refused and so stubbornly received their due.
It is also accepted within scholarship that this passage also has nothing to do with prostitution or cultic worship – Paul is so clearly against the practice of man with man and woman with woman that no one can deny it. But some do try to twist it to their own ends in saying that the ‘against nature’ means only ‘unusual’(!) but even this is so out of left-field that this is not taken seriously. The point of this passage is that they are defying the creator and reveal that they are indeed separate from God. They defy the creator by doing what they were not created to do.
But I have another proviso: Whilst it is clear that Paul is evidently against homosexual practices this is actually only a small part of the whole passage that reveals that we are all alike sinful. Let the one without sin throw the first stone…Romans 2:1 (NKJV) Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.
1 Corinthians 6:9 (NKJV) 9 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 homosexuals, nor sodomites…
Actually here we do have a mistranslation though an understandable one. The word in Greek translated as homosexual here is malakoi which means ‘soft’. The understanding of this word is one who is the ‘female’ participant in the homosexual act. The latter word for Sodomite is the Greek word arsenokoitai which means the male participant in the homosexual act. Again there is argument among some still propounded today that this is all relating to homosexual prostitution but what is clear from the passage is that no such narrow meaning can really be obtained from these words. Just because something is repeated often enough does not make it true. It seems that Paul was alluding to the two Leviticus passages mentioned above by the use of the unique word arsenokoitai where both arsēn and koitē appear in the LXX. It is unavoidable that Paul meant the homosexual act in all its forms would exclude them from the Kingdom of God. But again notice the other sins that are also condemned for it also includes thieves and drunks in verse 10.
1 Timothy 1:10 (NKJV) 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine
Paul uses his unique word arsenokoitai again which is covered above.
So, it is plainly clear that homosexual acts are condemned in Scripture in both Old and New Testaments.
For those who want to claim that there is no Scriptural evidence against homosexual, life-long, monogamous marriage have not taken into account that there does not appear to be a lee-way that the homosexual act itself is condemned no matter what the relationship.
The understandable Steve Chalke whose compassion for those caught up in the homosexual lifestyle does not change the Scriptural mandate. We are to love, for sure, but this does not stop the condemnation of a loving God – and who loves more than God? For God is love. Let us beware of Chalke’s understanding that would put tolerance above what God says and invert ‘God is love’ to ‘love is god’.
If we are not those who count Scripture as authoritative (but I hope you realise that I think you should be!) tradition of the Church has always held that the homosexual act is wrong and sinful.
As for homosexual orientation there is room for manoeuvre: I think it likely that the Apostle Paul considered homosexuality a choice but if (and it hasn’t yet been) proven to be one of orientation – that is, we are born that way – it can only be concluded that this would change nothing of what Paul said – only that the whole world is under sin and we are born sinners, and in this way it is genetically passed on down to us from the original sinner, Adam. The point being that orientation (if that is what it is) in and of itself is not sinful.
What should our response be to homosexuals? It is obvious, if we are Christians: It is one of love, acceptance and understanding. We are all in the same boat – that is, we are all sinners in need of grace given to us freely in Jesus Christ. We all have to live our lives being convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit, confessing our sin to God, and repenting, turning from our sin.
There are a number of other helpful articles out there (that I looked at after I wrote this article but pleased they affirmed the biblical principles) one of which is:
Biblical and pastoral responses to homosexuality