Editor’s note: This article has been updated in the post Homosexuality.
This is an extremely sensitive subject. There are some strong voices on both sides of the issue. But what is the issue? What are we fighting about? “Homosexuality is a sin!” one side will volley. “Judging your neighbor is a sin!” the other side will return. What are we really arguing about? The one side seems to want to demonize a group of people while the other side wants to condone their behavior.
The truth is there are several layers to this issue: Should homosexuality be considered illegal? Should homosexuals be given less rights than heterosexuals? Should homosexuals be allowed a platform? Should homosexuals be allowed to marry? Is homosexuality a choice or is it biological? etc. Unfortunately, those aren’t the points most people are arguing about. Instead the argument is more black and white: Is homosexuality right or wrong?
I’m not so sure most people are willing to look at this argument fairly. Let’s face it, we’ve all got our own prejudices. These prejudices prevent us from fully understanding the argument because we don’t take the time to understand any other point of view.
Let’s get down to the meat of the issue. Homosexuality is a sin. I don’t think anyone with a high view of Scripture can deny that fact. However, some with a high view of God’s Word have done their best to disregard casting judgement as a sin. This makes it easier when they over-react to the gay and lesbian communities. Unfortunately, we’ve moved away from the biblical perspective on homosexuality and created a whole new category for this sin.
Here is a principle that should be easy to determine from the Bible, “God sees sin as black and white, but He deals with it differently. We see sin as different, but we deal with it as though it’s black and white.” What this means is that all sin, at every level, dishonors God and He hates it all the same. To some He shows mercy and to others He shows wrath. However, when we think about sin, we tend to categorize them by grossness, and our consequences are consistent based on the severity of the offense. If we’re going to strive to know God better and be transformed into the image of His Son, we’re going to have to do a better job at seeing people as He sees them.
John Piper further explains this sentiment in a sermon he taught on Romans 1:14.
“Our conservative lifestyle and our Biblical orientation is in danger of being so politicized that our fundamental response to people like that is disdain not debt. Test yourself right now. You watch the television, you look at political speeches, you walk the university campus and see how some may be dressed or whatever and rising up out of your heart is not the feeling, “I owe them grace,” but “YUCK!” Test yourself. There is a politicization of Biblical values, the upshot of it being, “YUCK!” That’s not Romans. That’s not the Bible. If you come to the world with one colossal well argued, “YUCK upon your house,” you won’t win anyone to Jesus. Paul felt like a debtor to the despising Greeks and to the Jews who didn’t believe because it was a stumbling block.”
Piper aptly notes how a lot of Christians view homosexuality, but where did this level of disgust come from if it didn’t come from the Bible? Carl Trueman, from Reformation21.org, points out in an article entitled ‘Gay Marriage‘ where this perspective of Homosexuals finds its roots.
“For people like myself, now in middle age, dislike of homosexuality came with the territory; our reasons for opposing it were more to do with our own cultural backgrounds than with any biblical argumentation. Our opinions on the issue may have happened to coincide at points with biblical teaching, but that was more by accident than design. We were basically bigots and we needed to change.”
When I was working at a Camp one summer, a particular speaker was attempting to connect with the audience of teens by making blonde jokes. After not succeeding, he turned his comedic antics toward another group of people: Homosexuals. After making an inappropriate joke, the only comment from the crowd was from a girl who yelled out, “Some people can’t help it!” She then proceeded to run out the back of the auditorium weeping and hyperventilating. The speaker pressed on with his lesson, but nobody cared for what he had to say. It was passed on to me about the girl that she was seriously struggling with what she had been taught about homosexuals. “My homosexual friends are nicer to me than the kids at my youth group,” she stated. The reality is, she’s probably right.
Our youth are starting to recognize that we have been unfair in our treatment of homosexuals, and instead of looking to find a Biblical conviction, they are trusting in their experiences which tell them that homosexuals are nicer than Christians. This presents a serious problem for the next generation as they transition into the leaders of the church to come. How will they view the Scriptures? If they disregard passages that talk about homosexuality, what other passages will they throw out? The future of the church is looking bleak, but who’s to blame?
It’s clear that we’ve mishandled how we’ve treated homosexuality, but where did we go wrong?
1. We’ve made the issue about who’s right and who’s wrong. Whenever this becomes the line of battle, both sides will bunker down and no one will have the victory. The truth is, we’re basing right and wrong on two different standards. The unbeliever determines right and wrong with regards to their feelings; and based on that authority, they are right. Their feelings are real feelings, though they’re products of a deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9). We, as Christians, base our standard on the Word of God, which no unbeliever can live by without the Holy Spirit. It seems that as long as our argument is about who’s right and who’s wrong, we won’t have an open forum of communication because we don’t share the same authority.
2. We assume that our sins aren’t as gross as their sins. This is just a reality. I can’t comprehend why anyone would be attracted to this sort of lifestyle because the very notion grosses me out. Any sin that doesn’t affect me personally is an area where I’m going to have a hard time relating to those who struggle with it. I have never been tempted by or attracted to another man, but that doesn’t mean the sins I struggle with aren’t just as repulsive. I asked a member in my church once, “Would you ever invite a homosexual and his partner over to your house for dinner?” He said, “No.” I then asked him, “What about your neighbor and his live in girlfriend?” The difference in how we view these two transgressions is astounding.
3. We’ve demonized a people group. We haven’t just taught what the Bible says about homosexuality, we’ve married them to our prejudices and we’ve mixed them together with our deep seated hatred. We talk about lying like it’s no big deal because everyone struggles with that, but when we talk about homosexuality, we bash the people more than we admonish the sin. In doing so, we’ve taught that homosexuals are terrible people, instead of teaching that homosexuality is a terrible sin (like lying).
4. We grossly exaggerate the sins that our outside our circle of influence. Lets face it, we like hearing about how bad the world is as long as the preacher doesn’t start talking about the sins that we struggle with. I once heard a pastor tell about a member of his church who came up to him after a service. The member asked him why he wasn’t teaching about sin. When the pastor explained to him that he was teaching about sin: lying, gossiping, judgement, etc. The member cut him off and said, “No. Not those sins. I mean the reals sins, like homosexuality and murder.” The point is, we want to be in churches that preach hard on sin, just not the sins we struggle with.
5. We fear that, by allowing homosexuals a platform, they will destroy our American values. What we need to realize here is that values change. What you think of as American values may not be the actual values of our culture. America is a democratic republic and the government is made up of the people. If those people are significantly for something, then those are the present values of the culture. By treating homosexuals as second hand citizens, we are actually attacking the foundation of our government by denying equal rights for all.
6. We assume that no one we know and care about would ever be tempted with homosexual tendencies. I know, going through Bible college, how much people joke about this issue. I’ve even played my part in picking on the questionable students. It’s interesting, being so far removed from college, to see which of those people i used to tease ended up in life. I guess I never imagined that anyone close to me, anyone actually studying the Bible, would ever be tempted with homosexual thoughts. I often wonder how much of my actions played a part in building their hatred toward Christianity and allowing them to justify their sinful lifestyle.
If we’re going to correct the wrongs, what, then, should we do?
1. Make the issue about the Word of God. We don’t have to convince the world that they are sinners. The Bible stands as our standard of right and wrong. The world cannot understand that and they won’t acknowledge that God allows them to. So stop arguing about who’s right and start living out the imperatives in Scripture. Let your life be a light to what is right not a beam to point out where everyone else is wrong.
2. Don’t act like you’re exalted and enlightened because you’re not like one of these (Luke 18:11). Romans 1 may point out that homosexuality is wrong, but Romans 2 is there to show us that we’re not any better. Remember where you came from, a totally depraved sinner, and remember who’s righteousness you claim, Jesus Christ’s (Romans 3: 21-26). There but for the grace of God, we would be just as likely to be homosexuals ourselves.
3. Stick to calling sin what it is and steer clear of attacking the people who commit them. This is known as a logical fallacy, ad hominem (taking it to the man), and is easily recognized by the simplest of observers. I once new a lady who told me about a gay man she had the opportunity to witness to. The man told her, “I’m gay, and I bet you think I’m going to hell.” The lady was wise in her response, “Well, let me ask you a question. Have you ever told a lie?” This woman realized that there was no need to get into an argument about the issues of homosexuality. She simply pointed out that he was a sinner and then proceeded with the good news that God loved Him.
4. Preach the sins that hurt. Find a church that makes you feel uncomfortable and go there. If you’re going to a church that is preaching about stuff that no one in the congregation is affected by, then you’re in the wrong place. I don’t know why, and this is a rant off the topic, pastors spend more time condemning political hot topics like evolution, global warming, and gay marriage when no one in the congregation disagrees with them. You’re preaching to the choir, buddy. Tell us something we don’t already know and challenge us in areas we are reluctant to give God control. I don’t need to hear 52 arguments a year about how homosexuality is wrong. I need to be reminded that I’m a sinner working out my own salvation.
5. Don’t assume that because our government was founded on values similar to Christian values, that we are a Christian nation and everyone should hold to Christian values. This is not a theocracy. The Church does not have the say on the moral majority. If you’re unsatisfied with the state of your environment, you should seek to gain comrades not enemies. We need to place our fears and emotions in the right place, pulling them out of the fire (Jude 22-23), instead of feeding in to our fear and emotions with anxiety about what might happen if homosexuals are given a platform. The reason we’re losing the battle is because we’re not recruiting.
6. Be open to the possibility that someone you care about may be struggling with this sin. Homosexuality is a sin and a temptation just like any other. Don’t assume everyone around you is exempt. We need to provide help, compassion, and council to these people. If we’re making fun of them, or talking about it like it’s some gross atrocity, do you think they’re going to feel like they can come to us for help? Think about this the next time you find yourself discussing homosexuality, “What if someone listening to me is struggling with this sin?” Don’t perpetuate a prejudice unfounded.
We need to be aware of the fact that God is dualistic in nature. Yes, God hates homosexuals, but God loves His creations, and that included homosexuals. There are plenty of groups out there arguing from one point or the other, and to be honest, you’ll probably fall on the side where you feel most comfortable, but the truth is, God both hates the sinner, and loves His creation. He loved the world so much, that He sent Jesus to demonstrate that love.
Would you be willing to die for a homosexual?
This is an extremely sensitive topic, but it’s one that we need to be willing to address. We have mishandled how we’ve taught about homosexuality and we need to make things right. We need to be faithful at teaching the full countenance of Scripture without adding to it. We need to be aware of where our values and prejudices come from; some aren’t Scriptural. If we are going to raise up mature and discerning youth, we need to be willing to expose them to the truth, as harsh as it is. We are representatives of the good news, and we need to make sure our conduct best demonstrates the essence of the gospel.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Please feel free to offer your thoughts and comments.