Homosexuality and God's Will
Posted Friday, December 23, 2011
Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Ephesians 5:8-12
In June 1995, a panel of the Church of England recommended that the phrase "living in sin" be abandoned and that unmarried couples, heterosexual and homosexual alike, be given "encouragement and support" in their lifestyles and more readily welcomed into Anglican congregations. Suggesting that "loving homosexual relations and acts" are intrinsically no less valuable than heterosexual ones, the panel proposed that love should be allowed to be expressed "in a variety of relationships." Although such a statement is no longer surprising, it is still shocking to hear it from an established church, and to know that other church denominations have asserted similar ideas.
Now more than a decade later, the movement to accept homosexuality and same sex marriages has become even more powerful. Politicians and clergy are afraid to say anything, for fear of losing voter support or their jobs. Very few dare to stand up and say, "Enough!" But by abandoning the idea of marriage as a holy covenant between one man and one woman, they have called into question the entire institution of the family and flatly denied God's order for creation. They are sending children the message that God's laws are irrelevant, and that life-long commitment to one partner of the opposite sex is merely one of many lifestyle options.
To affirm homosexuality is to deny God's creative intent.
Homosexual conduct in any form is sin: that is, rebellion against God's creative design. Modern attempts to explain that we are "no longer under law, but under grace" ignore the fact that both the Old and New Testament consistently condemn homosexuality. In Romans 1:26–28, Paul writes:
Their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and their men in turn, giving up natural relations with women, burn with lust for one another; males behave indecently with males and are paid in their persons the fitting wage of such perversion.
And in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, he says that "neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders…will inherit the kingdom of God."
Many people reinterpret these Scriptures as condemning only homosexual rape, promiscuity, and lustful or "unnatural" homosexual behavior by heterosexuals. They claim that what the Bible condemns is offensive behavior. But isn't it clear that when Paul speaks of "homosexual offenders" he is speaking about the offense of homosexuality itself? If only "offensive" acts are evil, then what about the other things Paul mentions in the same passage, such as adultery, idolatry, and prostitution?
Nothing could be clearer than Paul's words in Romans, which label homosexuality as "degrading and shameful" – or his sharp warnings against those who give themselves over to "depravity" (Rom. 1:24–28). Homosexual acts are perverse because they distort God's will for creation. They simply cannot be defended in any way by Scripture. And this remains true even within a "loving" or lasting relationship.
We must love the sinner, but we must also speak out against sin.
People today complain that holding homosexuals responsible for an orientation (or way of life) that they themselves did not choose is unfair. But this is only an excuse. Whether we are responsible for our sexual orientation has no bearing on the rightness or wrongness of our behavior. To explain behavior is one thing; to justify it is altogether different. We might explain a person's alcoholism by noting a familial tendency, but would we ever defend it, or suggest that alcoholism is a good thing?
Of course, hatred and discrimination are wrong. The compassion of Christ – who came not to judge but to save us from sin – has nothing to do with gay-bashing. And we cannot condone the denial of any person's basic human rights, for whatever reason. But while Paul recognizes that Christians cannot avoid interacting with the world around them, he still advises them to remain separate from those who live in sexual sin (1 Cor. 5:11). For this reason we must resist the agenda of those who present homosexuality as an acceptable and alternative "lifestyle", and who try to compel religious groups to accept them as members or ministers.
It is very important that people who are not burdened by homosexuality try to understand the tremendous inner need of those who are. Many have never known unconditional, accepting love from those of their own gender, and their misplaced desires often stem from the intense yearning for such love. In this regard homosexuality may have more to do – at least initially – with low self-esteem than with sex. Add to this our current cultural emphasis on competition and domination, and it is no wonder that so many young people today are falling into a trap.
Whatever its origin or kind, sexual temptation can be overcome.
It is important to consider the difference between a homosexual tendency and an active homosexual lifestyle. Anyone can be tempted by sinful thoughts and images, but to give in to those temptations and to embrace an active homosexual lifestyle is an entirely different matter. Even if a homosexual orientation can arise by means of psychological influence, social environment, or genetic makeup, those who actively practice homosexuality have made a choice. To argue that culture, family, or genes make us powerless to choose against sin is to deny the concept of a free will.
Even as an orientation, however, homosexuality is a deep-rooted condition, and those who struggle against it deserve compassion and help. Therefore we must be ready to receive homosexuals into our fellowship and to stand with them in patience and love, while remaining clear that we cannot tolerate continued sinning.
What matters most is decisiveness, and this is a matter of the will. The person who turns single-mindedly to Jesus can be helped and freed, whereas the one who is divided in the depths of his heart will never see victory; even the most valiant efforts to resist temptation will frustrate him in an inner way. Even a perverse glance shows that a person is not decided, and Jesus himself calls this "adultery" of the heart.
Jesus came to set us free. And his holy order, which applies to all of humanity, should not bind us but liberate us. True freedom is possible for everyone, and we must believe this. No transgression is so terrible that it cannot be forgiven (Eph. 2:3–5). But if we doubt God's deliverance, we deny the power of Jesus' death and resurrection. In the end, Christ will free us if we give ourselves to him.
The sexual urges of a homosexual can be acute, but so can those of anyone else. All of us are "naturally" predisposed to do what we should not do. But if we believe in God, we must also believe that he can give us the grace to overcome the struggles we have to bear: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9–10).