Why is the Bible against homosexuality? Pedophilia? Yes, we get it. It hurts children. Adultery? That also hurts another person, as do many other sins. But how does a loving relationship between two consenting adults harm anyone? And if it doesn’t, why do most mainline Christians insist God opposes it?
“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV)
First of all, do you realize Christ loves homosexuals? While He was here on earth He made a point of spending time with people who were actively engaging in a number of behaviors some in the modern church would cringe at–and was duly criticized by the religious leaders of the time for it:
“Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, ‘Why does he eat with such scum? ‘ When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.'”(Mark 2:15-17 NLT)
Jesus understood several things that many today do not. The first is that homosexuality, like any other behavior that is identified in Scripture as contrary to God’s righteous holiness, has two components. The first is the desire; the second is the act. Having a temptation to do anything identified by God as sin is not sin: dwelling on the desire, allowing it to grow, and ultimately indulging it by following through with the behavior is. Remember: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 MSG) If you have the desire to not give in, God will provide a way for you to do so. Furthermore, the examples of those who have come out of a homosexual lifestyle prove that as you let God work on you, He gives you desires over time that are more and more pleasing to Him. So, it is not the attraction to a person of the opposite gender that is wrong; acting on that desire is.
But because we fail to recognize these two components, we make a serious mistake–we come to believe homosexuality is something we are instead of something we do. From there we make an even graver error–that it is therefore wrong to condemn homosexuality. This is why we have people comparing the homosexual agenda to the Civil Rights Movement. Just as African Americans are born African American, they reason, homosexuals are born homosexual, and their cause is therefore just as legitimate as that of the Civil Rights Movement.
And while we could submit the argument that some people are more predisposed to homosexual urges while others are more predisposed to cowardice, fornication, adultery, theft, armed robbery, etc.–the predisposition toward the urge does not justify the behavior, any more than a predisposition toward aggression legitimizes armed robbery or murder.
The second thing Jesus understood is that homosexual behavior is only one of the ways human beings fall short of God’s holy, righteous standard. Many people, especially in the churches, respond to someone who has homosexual desires like they would respond to leprosy–as if this person is in a different class, an especially wicked one. And while homosexuality was traditionally classified as a perversion (because it perverts, or alters, God’s plan for sexual expression), it is just one more way that humankind’s innate sin nature can express itself.
And that is the root of the problem–the sin nature we are all born with. We can’t help it and we can’t do away with it. While many people who rarely read the Bible feel they are basically good people, the truth is that even those who faithfully read it and do their best to live according to it struggle to get through a minute, much less a lifetime, without doing something that is contrary to God’s holiness, and which alienates them from Him.
But when a person comes to the realization that he can do nothing himself to get away from that sin nature and believes God that because of Christ we can be forgiven and accepted anyway, the Holy Spirit helps him. It won’t be perfect because we’re imperfect people, but it’ll be so much different than before. As he cooperates, little by little, God makes him into the person He wants him to be, the person he was meant to be. Others are still on their own.
And that’s like getting caught in a forest at the end of the day–at first you’re okay, you can tell what’s what. But as the sun’s rays gradually move away from you (which we know is really you, standing on your particular spot on earth, rotating further and further away from the sun), everything gradually becomes the same shade of grey, murky and difficult to distinguish. And just as the more you move away from the sun’s illuminating rays the more difficult it becomes to tell what’s what, the further you’re standing away from the light of God in your life–His Word, the Bible–the harder it becomes to tell what’s real and what’s not, what’s shadow and what’s reality.
That’s the main reason so many people can’t understand why God opposes homosexual–even committed homosexual–expression. They rationalize that it hurts no one, but that’s not true–it hurts them because it is an act of defiance against God and sets them against Him. Let’s look at Romans 1:18-32, the main passage typically used by Christians to explain why homosexual expression is wrong, piece by piece:
“But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”
The intricacy and complexity of the natural world shouts “Master Designer” and “Creator,” yet more and more people are accepting a lie about its origin. Even though it is obvious, even though common sense and experience tell us that an excess of time only causes less organization and more decay, those who want no accountability for how they live their lives cling to the myth of random chance. Where does this lead?
“Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.”
Before the advance of science, people had a greater proclivity to attribute unexplained natural phenomena to the supernatural, and it was unusual to find a someone who didn’t believe in some kind of god or gods. These days tangible idols still exist in certain cultures (think “kitchen gods”), but many people have replaced those of wood and stone with the intangible ones of science, ambition, fame, success and the like.
“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.”
The reason God blesses monogamous opposite-gender marital relations and no others–and why homosexual expression is described as “trad[ing] the truth about God for a lie”–is because heterosexual marriage is a picture of Christ’s love for His people. Just as a husband cares for and loves his bride, Christ loves His people. As a bridegroom comes for his bride and takes her to himself at the proper time, Christ will bring His own to Himself. And these are not interchangeable: Christ is not His people, and His people are not Christ. Altering God’s design for sexual expression, whether through homosexual, extra-marital, bestial, or any other expression, misrepresents this witness of God’s relationship with His people in some way.
“That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.” (Romans 1:18-32 NLT)
Not everyone who engages in homosexual behavior is also guilty of each and every other form of rebellion against God on this list–and there are many who are guilty of these sins who do not engage in homosexual behavior–but rejecting God in one area of your life opens the door to rejecting Him in others.
So, how does a consenting relationship between two adults hurt anyone, and why do Christians continue to insist God opposes it? The answer is that while homosexual behavior is just one of the many expressions of a sin nature that wants to rebel against God and His order, it is one that hurts those who engage in it. Christians continue to insist God opposes it because misrepresenting its true nature would be hateful and dishonest.
Help us know the Truth, so You can set us free. Amen.