I was hoping to mop up all the messiness from the last entry in a self-contained blog. But this problem is so big that it could not all fit in one entry. I hope I made the case that our current problem is our need to be accepted on both sides of the debate. It was inevitable that Christians would be outed as having an issue with sin. But Christians have fallen for the very thing that homosexuals want: cultural acceptance.
This blog is for Christians to understand the Biblical view of this if this was for homosexuals the conversation would be very different. Not in truth but in presentation. The Gospel trumps discussion of mastering personal sin.
This was never supposed to be about this specific sin but the way the culture war has gone we cannot but comment at this point because we will inadvertently be backing a specific worldview. At this point, if we do not stand on the Bible on this issue we will be backing the worldview that makes it out to be not that big of a deal. This is about acceptance if it would stay there that would be one thing but it will not and has not. It is coming to the point where Christians either cave or are bigots as if honest communication is not an option anymore. Well, it will not be if we continue to only capitulate or say nothing.
As I mentioned we all want to be accepted and all want to fit in. That is normal. And the Christian job is not to make people feel uncomfortable, however, it may be that we are being called to that discomfort ourselves. If we stand for something that the culture does not like we should expect blow-back. The way we know this is because the Bible calls for us to be humble about what it teaches. It says we will suffer as he did. We are not free to seek comfort over what God asks of us. So let’s look at why we are not free to capitulate on a topic that is so culturally hot that we would want to.
But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)
For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:43)
Homosexuality is a hot topic not just because it is current but it affects the very lives of people, the very lives of people in a very intimate way. As I said before it also speaks to where we are cultural. This is something that the church has failed to recognize. We think it is a simple sin issue but it affects the way people view themselves and the way they find intimacy. It also is indicative that the culture is already in quite a different place. This is why we need to be clear on why we believe what we do because it has such an impact. And when we communicate it to non-believers we have to understand the subtext of what we are saying and the depth that affects people.
It is difficult, yes. It was a thing in the nineties to say that Christianity was counter-cultural. It was fun and almost cool to say that, but well, it finally is.
But God doesn’t ask people to combat sin, that is why he conquered sin in death himself. The Gospel is not “Straighten out your life and then come to me!” The message is “You can’t straighten out yourself so you need to come to me.” It does involve addressing the sin for sure but if we tell people about their sin problem as if it is something they need to fix without presenting it humbly within the context of the Gospel we leave people in a feeling of helplessness. If this is something that someone identifies with as an identity then they are going to feel doubly lost aren’t they? In order to present the Gospel to homosexuals or anyone really, we have to understand what the Bible says about it. Why they need the Gospel.
So what does it say, is it really a sin?
Now a common objection is that the command against homosexual activity is given in the Old Testament. The Old Testament! case closed, right? Why aren’t we more upset about all those other silly laws? This objection is not the smoking gun that is assumed. A lot of Americas saw the program, West Wing, when the fictional president gave this very objection to the fictional conservative talk show host condemning her to also focus on pigskins and mixing fabrics, oh my! So unless we want to impose all those other uncomfortable laws we are out of luck, or at least hypocrites?
Well, the issue is this, not only does the New Testament reiterate this specific command in Romans 1 but the very issue of what Old Testament laws gentiles-Christians needed to follow was addressed in the Jerusalem council in the book of Acts chapter 15. Also, Paul also wrote a book about it called Galatians because this was a big topic in the first century. The conclusion of the council was this:
Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.
The apostles teach that new converts still must uphold and continue to avoid idolatry, sexual immorality, and food that was strangled and from consuming blood. Idolatry is continued to be avoided by the church and rightfully so. As far as the blood, the issue was a strangled animal would not have been drained of blood. So drain the blood and then cook it, we pretty much already do this. But Paul speaks to this as well, if we do not know about the food preparation do not make inquiry unless a weaker brother is conflicted. In order for unity and love to continue. (Romans 14)
But the central issue here is the Gentile Christians are still to hold to the rules of sexual immorality. The question is where do rules for sexual immorality come from? Well, rules for immoral sexual practice come from Leviticus 18 and 20 and there are rules for marriage covenants as well, which is always between a man and a woman. This is where the Jewish person is going to go for these instructions, this is where the Jewish person would point the Gentile wondering what defines sexual immorality. The Law does inform these practices. This is why Paul reiterates homosexuality, and why Jesus repeats adultery, and why Paul gets mad at the Corinthian church for allowing a man to have his Father’s wife. (1 Corinthians 5) Why not simply allow this if they are loving consenting adults? Why not let grace abound on this Paul? Paul knows that this act is specifically mentioned in this list. This is also why incest and bestiality are also still prohibited, despite what interests our culture.
To argue that this list is not still in vogue is to tell Paul he can’t be mad about adultery, incest, bestiality, and specifically this episode from first Corinthians. This is to tell Paul that when he mentions homosexuality again 1 Cor 6:9 that he doesn’t understand grace and certainly not love. Jesus furthers clarifies this list when speaking to the underlining problem of lust. Lust makes them all out of bounds, this is why pornography is also a problem. Lust makes sex about us. Lust means we throw off the commands of love and sex and demand our own ways. Lust says “This is how I feel”, not what is right. Lust means we want it our way and we do not care about what the creator of our bodies and of sex says. In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul further tells us that sexual sin seems to have a special problem for all people:
The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written,“The two will become one flesh.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. 19 do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
This type of sin, sins against the temple of the Lord. The questions is are you a temple of the Lord or not? If so then you should avoid sexual immoral practices all the more. The non-Christian doesn’t believe they are a temple so why belabor the point? Paul even mentions homosexuality specifically in the lists of sins that people who practice them will not inherit the kingdom of God. This should be scary enough to avoid. But if a homosexual does not believe in God or the Bible then they should simply say “Well I don’t believe that.” But instead what we get is reasons why it should be OK. Well to a Christian I have all the reasons I need. Just as I have all the reasons to believe that Jesus is Lord. If God created us then he gets to set the standard. If he is Lord then he gets to tell me “Yes” or “No”. Again these are Christian truths based on a Christian worldview.
As a Christian, I have to agree with what God says about the way he designed sex to work. As I Christian I am not allowed to practice homosexual sex. As a Christian, I am not allowed to practice adultery. As a Christian, I am not supposed to have sex outside of the marital covenant. As a Christian, I am not allowed to have sex with animals. As a Christian, I am not allowed to have incestuous sex. If any of these pose a temptation, we have to recognize that and give it to God to be nailed to the cross, not identify with it.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)
This doesn’t mean you will not fail but that there is a way out if you are interested. And we remember..
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13)
There it is! The problem is that the wages of sin is death. So the answer to our why question, is that sin distances us from God and leaves us in eternal separation from him. The message here is not “God Hates Fags!” It is that God hates people to die without relationship to him. He desires that none should perish. The reason that God has such strong language against sin is that it robs people of relationship with him.
If people are unwilling to even acknowledge sin, then they aren’t going to be interested in the savior from it.
If homosexual sin is enticing to you, then that is your temptation, but you have to face it the same way a heterosexual man or woman faces their own sexual temptations: in obedience or rebellion, in humility or pride. As a Christian, I have a responsibility of obedience because I am not the King, and the good news is when I fail there is a God who forgives. But a Christian needs to hold to what the Bible teaches on such matters. A non-Christian does not, that is their choice.
But our sinful proclivities do not excuse our acquiescence to them. God is inviting us all to himself if we will only come.