Court rulings in Canada and the United States have brought the issue of so-called "gay rights" into the foreground. No longer content with coming out of the closet, homosexuals are seeking more than mainstream acceptance. Desiring declarations that their lifestyle is normal, with anti-discrimination penalties for any who would say otherwise, was just a start. Today the issue has moved on to include the institutions of marriage and the church. With elected officials and governments yielding to organized pressure, it's no surprise that they would begin to weigh-in, in favor of homosexuality, on the civil issues. What should be a surprise is that religious, and more specifically professed Christian, leaders are now doing the same.
To effectively cover this topic, we need to examine some questions (or statements) that have become common - at least as reported in the news media of late. In question and answer format, here goes...
Isn't Homosexuality only banned in the Old Testament? Doesn't that mean that the scriptural ban should be relegated to other outdated regulations like those of putting to death witches and dietary law?
While the Old Testament Law specifically banned homosexual acts, it did so based on the standard of morality God established prior to the law. For example, in the law:
This law was not something new as such; it merely made clearer, and provided a specific civil punishment for acts that God had previously established as wrong. The very reason the law was given was to establish clearly what sin was...
It's true that the civil and ceremonial law of the Old Testament no longer pertain to us (as it was given only to Israel as a nation). Specifically all of the Old Testament law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. But that didn't leave us without law... under the new Law of Love the eternal moral standards of God are still upheld.
This is why lying, murder, etc., were a sin before the giving of the Old Testament law, during it, and still are after it. While the Old Testament law, for a time, had increased (or provided more immediate) penalties, it did serve to show how God viewed certain acts. For example, the law required capital punishment for witchcraft. Witchcraft, which acknowledges other gods or powers than the one true God, or outright denies the existence of the one true God, was wrong before the giving of the law, and still is even now (in New Testament times). The only difference was that during the time of the law God defined specific penalties (civil law) that were to be administered by the specific authorities that He defined in the nation of Israel. The issue of Dietary law (since it was raised as an example) was slightly different, being part of the ceremonial law, in that they were practices that God defined with symbolism that pointed to a spiritual truth. It was God's way of visibly illustrating that His people were to be different, set apart for Him.
While some think a believer in God (a Christian) can look like the world and carry on every practice of the world, this is something that God has always warned against - before, during, and after the Old Testament Law.
Knowing that God's people are to be set apart - different from the world - the logical question is "in what way?" Simply put, God's people are by definition followers of Him, literally imitators of Him!
To follow Him is to hate sin, to hate the things that God has said to be wrong, and to cling to everything that God has said to be good.
Getting back to our specific topic, homosexuality, God established from the very beginning what was good. Remember, by definition, anything that falls outside of good is evil (or sin). Consider what God called "good" - before being tainted by sin...
The Good (In Summary):
On this basis, even before the Old Testament law, God considered anything that deviated from this defined "good" to be wickedness.
The basis by which God called this "grievous sin" and Lot knew it to be "wickedness," was that it was outside the revealed "good" of God. Prior to the giving of the law, God was the one entrusted with punishing sin (ultimately and temporally): the temporal judgment coming relatively swift and severe in the case of Sodom (Genesis 19:24). During the time of the law, the immediate specific penalty (temporal) was committed to the authorities God established in Israel...
Though the same standard of what is good and evil still applies following the time of the Old Testament law, the execution of penalties for sin (and lawlessness) has now been divided between God and the civil authorities that God has ordained in all nations (Romans 13:1-4). Even if civil authorities take no action on wrongdoing, ultimately wickedness will be judged by God. Even if civil action is taken, it still doesn't satisfy the justice of God.
Every one of us has fallen short of God's standard of good (Romans 3:23). A single lie is enough for us to deserve His justice. The only freedom from the penalty of God's justice can be found in Jesus Christ. God has graciously given eternal life to all who believe in Him (John 3:16). This enables us to be saved through His righteousness - and none of our own (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 4:18-25).
Most of the passages directly pertaining to homosexual practices, in the Old Testament, do pertain to the law. For the record some others are:
Note that God considered the male prostitutes (homosexual) to be a detestable practice, even for those nations not having the law. Why? Because it still was opposed to the "good" that God established in the beginning. This is why, in the Ten Commandments, God simply said...
Adultery encompassed any sexual act outside of the original "good" that God establish. In other words, sex that is not between a lifelong committed union of a man and woman. This includes pre-marital or extra marital sex. Trying to change a cultural definition of marriage to include homosexual unions still doesn't alter the unchangeable standard of "good" that God established, regardless of what it's called.
brings us to the next question...
Why does God create homosexuals if it's supposed to be wrong? This is also commonly stated in the fashion of "God made me this way" or "I was born this way."
The answer to this question comes in two parts, as two different things are in view here. Firstly, as we have already seen, with regards to primary creation (in the beginning), God did not create people to be homosexuals. The text very clearly explains that God created male and female for each other, for a permanent relationship, and one that would be fruitful providing for procreation. It also spelled out that Adam (the man) needed a wife, someone to be a fitting helper for him.
Making a suitable helper was actually the primary reason given by God for creating the woman. Rather than a sexual or procreative reason, it was because of the need to have the right partner in life. Who could better make this determination (and for that matter, literally 'make' the right answer) than God. His created answer from the beginning was not multiple choice; it was a woman for the man and a man for a woman.
Secondly, regarding creation in the womb...
Is anyone born a homosexual? Maybe rephrasing the question a little broader will help find an answer... Is anyone born a sinner? Overwhelmingly the answer is, "yes!" Since our original parents rebelled against God in the garden, people have been born with an inclination to sin. No one has to teach a baby how to lie or a young child how to steal. The fact that one individual has a greater inclination to a particular sin still illustrates the greater problem... it's all still sin. Our natural born tendency (sinful nature) gravitates to sin regardless of type.
The sinful nature that we have from birth was not God's original intent in the beginning. Nor can it be attributed to God (as in, "God made me this way") anymore than we would say that God made liars and murderers. The results, as we now have them, are clearly attributable to mankind ourselves. Maybe we should say "Mankind made me this way." The need is to be recreated, born again...
Another question: Don't you understand? I've prayed about this issue and God has revealed to me that this isn't sin. [This is a claim has been made by more than one "Christian" clergy member as reported in the news.]
This is a common misconception regarding prayer. Prayer is not a feeling or based on anyone's emotions. God's answer to prayer is a revelation of His will and it will never contradict His written word. In fact, God most often uses His written word to answer prayer.
God put everything in His word for a reason, because He alone knows what's best for us...
When anyone, using any excuse (including prayer), says that a person should do something other than what God has revealed in His word, they are in effect saying that they know better than God what is good for us. Consider how absurd that sounds, the creation telling the creator they know more than Him.
But, some ask, "How can you condemn people for what they can't control?"
People are condemned all the time for what they can't control... lying, stealing, cheating, murder, and sexual immorality. As we have already seen from God's word, people are predisposed to sin (having a sinful nature). Left to ourselves, apart from the common grace of God, mankind would be wicked beyond belief all the time. God uses His created order of things, including governments and authorities (even parents!) to restrain wickedness - foremost His people to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) slowing down the decay of society. If we could control sin ourselves, we wouldn't need a Savior. The very fact that we can't stop sinning shows us that we need to look to One beyond ourselves. In regards to being condemned, it's not people that condemn (though some may use harsh words), it's God's word that condemns (Hebrews 4:12) - as it is the standard by which we will all be judged. Again, without the righteousness that comes from Jesus Christ, we would all be condemned.
God calls his people to judge between right and wrong... something all of us have to do each and every day. The only time judging is said to be wrong is when it is done for self-serving purposes or by an arbitrary standard.
The only way a person can make right judgment is to base it on the perfect, absolute, and unchanging word of God. This is the measure that we are all accountable to.
misconception is that somehow Jesus had a different message than God
in the Old Testament or even the apostles that followed Him. One way
this is often phrased...
Isn't it true that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality, only Paul did?
Not true. Jesus, who came to fulfill the law, taught from it. He called people to repent by the same standard as the prophets of Old and even John the Baptist, namely His written word. How could anyone make a call to repent unless they established what to repent from? In Jesus' case, He came first to the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24), these were a people that knew the Old Testament law, that knew God's standard of sin. It was on this foundation that Jesus too preached "repent!"
Paul's message was built on the Old Testament and the words of Jesus Christ, a specific message which was given to him by revelation from God...
Paul did not create a new standard of morality, rather he expounded upon the eternally revealed one that had been given from the time of Adam and Eve onward.
When Paul said that "God gave them over" to these wicked things, he was not saying that somehow God no longer condemned them. He was pointing out that God had refrained from wiping them out (as He has every right to do as punishment for sin), even as wickedness had grown more prevalent. Wickedness breeds more wickedness. This passage in Romans set the stage for Paul's entire message that all people are in need of a Savior because we cannot attain the righteousness of God on our own.
It doesn't matter what the sin is in regards to our need of salvation, we need to be set free and made holy through believing in Jesus Christ. As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians, many believers used to be sinners such as those, but they had found forgiveness and had been given the strength to now live for the Lord. As was said earlier, we can't help ourselves, truly we can't stop. But, all praise to God, He will help us, He will give us the strength to stop sinning - He will make the change!
No sinner will inherit the kingdom of God, but multitudes of saints (repentant sinners that have been set free through faith in Jesus Christ) will!
Before leaving this question, it should be noted that it wasn't just Paul that had this message. For example, the apostle Jude even referenced the Old Testament events of Sodom and Gomorrah as illustrating the final judgment that awaits those still in their sin...
The beloved apostle John, even quotes these words of Jesus from his end-times vision...
Isn't it true that homosexuality is no worse than any other sin?
Yes and no. As some of the passages we've already considered have shown, in regard to punishment for sin and our eternal state, the answer is "yes!" It doesn't matter if you're a murderer, and idolater, a God-hater, or a slanderer, any (or all) of these sins will condemn you. The only cure is to come to faith in Jesus Christ and experience His righteousness.
The "no" deals more will consequences of sin. Some sins have greater temporal consequences than others and therefore they can be legitimately considered greater sins. Any sin that directly affects someone else fits into this category. For example, murder. While the one committing the sin is responsible, someone else pays for the sin (physically). Sexual sins are the same way when they are acted upon. While still only a dwelled upon thought, it is still a sin (Matthew 5:28) but only affecting yourself; put it into action and you have affected the life of someone else.
It shouldn't surprise us that people carry long term mental scars from the misuse of sexuality. That's without even considering the host of possible physical consequences.
Though most of the matter has already been examined, this is another common question of late:
Why shouldn't homosexuals be married? It just recognizes the facts. [Besides the only way Christian heterosexuals can show their professed love to homosexuals is to not condemn their lifestyle.]
Marriage was given by God in the Garden of Eden, when everything was still good, to be between a man and woman. Anyone who adds to this - men joining with men or women with women - can call it anything they want, but it will never be marriage. Since God created it, He alone has the right to define it. Jesus even restated what God had established in the beginning (while speaking about divorce)...
Saying same sex unions are a marriage doesn't make them so, any more than being an unrepentant pew sitter in a church makes a person a Christian. Host of people call themselves Christians, but apart from saving faith in Jesus Christ the title means nothing. This does bring us to a final group of questions...
Why can't homosexuals have their own church? Or be leaders of an existing church?
Homosexuals can start (and have started) their own churches specifically designed to condone their sinful lifestyle. This will not make it a true church. Again, since the church is God's, He alone gets to define it. In Old Testament times alternate temples were created in northern Israel, completely separate from the one God had established in Jerusalem. The people in these false temples professed to be worshipping God (by name), but had created a form of worship that suited themselves and not God [...ignoring God's commands concerning idolatry, place of worship, the priesthood, and more.]. God condemned and ultimately destroyed them.
As for being leaders of any existing church, if that church is God's they will be holding fast to the teachings of Scriptures - to what God has said to be good. God's leaders hold to His word, teach it, and live by it.
Any church, or professed leader, that has forsaken God's standards, and willfully ignored His word is in danger of God's judgment (Revelation 3:14-21) - showing them selves to not be servants of God. Traditions (modern or ancient) don't make something right - but they can, in fact, nullify our worship.
The bottom line is that the church is called to be speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), the very thing this article is trying to do. The truth may not always be popular but it's still the truth - God's truth!
(c) 2005 Brent MacDonald/LTM. Duplication is permitted as long as the source is cited.