This is a follow up post to my last post asking if Jesus was accepting of homosexuality, where I argued in the negative. But of course, that does not mean Jesus did not love homosexuals. The issue has always been with sin, whether it be homosexual sin or any other type of sin, and that is why Christ died on the cross. There was no reason to die on a cross if there was no penalty to be paid for sin. So to even suggest that Jesus had no problem with homosexuality is tantamount to saying he died on the cross for no good reason. Now there was a lively Facebook discussion regarding my last post, and in this post I want to respond to three key criticisms I received in order to clarify my position and demonstrate what I believe is wrong with those criticisms. The first line of attack was that I was “singling out” homosexuals. I am guilty of that because when you pick any topic to write on you are singling out something. Otherwise, what is the point of writing if you don’t have any particular topic? But perhaps the criticism is that I’m going out of my way to pick on homosexuals. Well, I can say with certainty that I’m not picking on anyone because I write on many topics. I write on homosexuality specifically out of my love for homosexuals and their souls. As I stated in the last post, homosexuals need Christ too. There is no reason their sin should be favored over any other sin, and what I see often in the media and now society is the view that homosexuality is not only not a sin, but it is a good thing to be celebrated. I expect this from non-Christians, but to see Christians taking the same line of thought is surprising because they know what the Bible says on this subject and should know better. The church can love and welcome homosexuals without providing them a free pass on their sin that is not afforded to people who have other sins in their life.
The second line of argument in the discussion was about interpretation of the Bible. A friend claimed that when it came to homosexuality in the Bible, it was only proscribed as a sin if associated with violence or gang rape. If we look at Leviticus 18:19-23 in the Old Testament, we see the following:
19 ‘Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity. 20 You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. 21 You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.
Notice that homosexuality is not the only sin discussed in this passage, and there is no violence or gang rape involved. Let’s look at another passage in Leviticus 20:10-16:
10 ‘If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 If there is a man who lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. 12 If there is a man who lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed incest, their bloodguiltiness is upon them. 13 If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them. 14 If there is a man who marries a woman and her mother, it is immorality; both he and they shall be burned with fire, so that there will be no immorality in your midst. 15 If there is a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal. 16 If there is a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
I don’t see anything there that has to do with violence or gang rape either. Again, homosexuality is not singled out as being any different or more worthy of condemnation than other sexual sins. Let’s now look in the New Testament at Romans 1:24-27:
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [a]a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [b]forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [c]unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [d]indecent acts and receiving in [e]their own persons the due penalty of their error.
This is a central passage that addresses homosexuality. It is set in the context of the condemnation of those who reject God as revealed in creation or through the natural law. It is part of Paul’s broader argument for the universality of sin and judgment, setting the need for the believer to be justified by faith in Christ’s atoning death on the cross, as outlined in Romans 4-5. Those who reject the available knowledge of God and choose instead to worship the Greek and Roman idols have lifestyle consequences that they cannot avoid. One of these consequences is homosexual behavior. Because of the reality of sin, every person has the potential for homosexuality in the same way that we have the potential for any other kind of sin that the Bible describes. The phrase “natural relations with women” makes it clear that the natural sexual relationship is heterosexual and objective, and thus is not dependent on a person’s individual orientation. Let’s now look at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
9 Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
As in Leviticus, homosexuality is not singled out as being any different or more worthy of condemnation than other sexual sins. And it has nothing to do with violence or gang rape. So my friend was wrong, but then tried to turn my attention to various ways that the Old and New Testaments might be interpreted. I wouldn’t even argue that point because what we have in the major translations of the Bible is outstanding hermeneutical scholarship that has stood the test of time since the first canon of scripture was established in the fourth century A.D. For the past 1600 years since, Bible scholars have had access to this canon and the original scriptures with some dating back to the second century. Yes, there are many passages that are difficult to interpret, particularly the apocalyptic genre. But on the subject of homosexuality as it relates to law and gospel, there is no dispute. It is what it is and people will try to find all sorts of ways to interpret whatever they want from the Bible, and that is a huge shame. I would rather someone just say they don’t believe the Bible rather than to attempt to bastardize it to fit their own personal views as if God is supposed to think they way do. Well God doesn’t think like us, and he is not the same substance as we are.
The third line of attack was, I felt, particularly troublesome, which has a two-pronged approach. It is the defense of a friend or relative who happens to be homosexual and a Christian. The argument was first, who am I to judge someone who has accepted Christ and is living the Christian lifestyle but they just happen to be homosexual, and second, the reason homosexuals are pushed away from the church because the church is not accepting of their sin, which can’t be good for the homosexual. My response to the first prong is that it is not my job to pass judgment on homosexual sin or any other type of sin that people may commit in terms of their status as Christians. I’m a sinner myself, and I have my own struggles with sin, so I’m hardly one to pass judgment on others. Yet with me being a sinner, I know that I have to deal with my own sin. So if I’m going to deal with my sin, then a homosexual has to deal with their sin too. But then again, they are asking for a pass while I don’t get a pass. So I’m basically treating homosexuals equally when it comes to the matter of sin, and I think they should honor that. So if I know someone who is a Christian and practicing a homosexual lifestyle, or a heterosexual lifestyle of fornication with no intent on marriage, or adultery, I will not pass judgment on them, but I will most certainly call attention to their lifestyle and the commitment they have made to Christ. I personally do not believe that a person who is truly saved will willfully and continually practice a lifestyle that is contrary to their Christian faith. Being a Christian witness means something, so it’s better to just not be a Christian rather than to claim to be a Christian and not live a Christian life.
As to the second prong, I can understand why many homosexuals refuse to accept Christianity, or for those who do, avoid church. Refusing to accept Christianity because of what it teaches about homosexuality is folly. There is no one who joins the church living a sin-free life. Being sin free is not a part of the human condition. So avoiding church because one is a homosexual is just that: avoidance of coming to grips with your own sin and dealing with it like everyone else deals with their sin. A homosexual will be right at home in any church with sinners just like themselves. Now I know there are some churches that frown on allowing homosexuals to become a part of their church out of fear that they will ultimately want to have the church accept them being in a homosexual relationship, and even marry them. Additionally, there may be fear of any type of influence homosexuals may have on the children. Well these churches need to wake up, because homosexuality is nothing new and it is not any different from a church allowing a heterosexual couple attend that is unmarried and shacking up together. Now in the case of the heterosexual couple, they can marry according to the Bible, whereas the homosexual couple cannot if the Bible is properly interpreted. So my point is that the church should be accepting of all, but it cannot compromise its teachings in order to appease any group of people, lest it cease to be salt and light in the world. And homosexuals should not expect a church to compromise its teachings to appease them. It’s not good for them, and it is certainly not good for the church. The moment you begin to attempt to change the meaning of scripture, it ceases to have any authority, and Christianity just becomes a free for all that has lost its rooting and foundation in objective truth. So when we compromise the word of God, we compromise the truth and we lose sight of why Christ died on the cross, which was not only for homosexual sin but for all other sins that we all commit each and every day, each and every hour, as well.