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-What About Homosexuality?

What About Homosexuality?  


Picture FrameOn a Public Television feature, a lesbian rabbi frankly discussed issues relating to her profession, her sexual orientation, and discrimination. I was surprised at her ill-informed statement that only one Scripture, in Leviticus, speaks to the issue of homosexuality.   In a day when the universal passion is to accept, approve and tolerate, there seems to be vast ignorance of how “intolerant” the Bible is on issues of morality, and exactly what it does and does not say about homosexuality. Let’s have a look. The passage referred to by the lesbian rabbi was Leviticus 18:22,24, which – in the context of a list of sexual behaviors God detests and judges – states: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable ... Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations ... became defiled.” This is very clear and no further statement should be needed. But the issue of homosexuality is so important to God that in both Old and New Testaments he speaks plainly on the subject.

The case of Sodom (Gen. 19) is a well-known passage in the first of Moses’ five books, the most sacred Jewish Scriptures; no rabbi could miss it. As Lot edged toward residence in Sodom the sacred commentary is, “The men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord” (Gen. 13:13 NIV). Later it seems that even God can’t believe how bad it is. He tells Lot’s Uncle Abraham, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached Me” (Gen. 18:20-21).

It was indeed that bad. So He sent two angels to rescue Lot and his family before pouring out judgment. The appalling extent and intensity of Sodom’s corruption is seen in that “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom – both young and old – surrounded the house and called to Lot, ‘Where are the men (angels) who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them’” (Gen. 19:4-5). It seems incredible: every male in Sodom was an eager, practicing homosexual!

Even more depraved, if possible, is the fact that, to protect his house guests, Lot offered his virgin daughters to the mob! How the mores of a corrupt society can twist the thinking and behavior of even God’s unwitting people! But the men of Sodom further emphasized their depravity by showing no interest in young virgins; they wanted the men!

Isn’t it interesting that, today, the grosser sexual perversions are still characterized as “sodomy”, which the American Heritage Dictionary defines in terms not unlike Leviticus 18:22-23.

The perversion was so total that God found no remedy but to incinerate Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone from heaven.

Peter offered a perspective on this tragedy when he stated that God “condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:6). God is speaking to every generation, including ours, warning that all the ungodly, including homosexuals, will be judged and punished severely.

God’s mercy and compassion are also evident in this passage. While Lot’s faith was compromised, through Peter God tells us three times that he was “righteous” by God’s criterion of faith. Peter wrote: “Lot was a righteous man who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men” (2 Pet. 2:7-8).

Origins
In the New Testament, Paul points to the moral origin of sexual perversion in a most enlightening passage: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom. 1:18). Evidence for God from creation is unmistakably clear – “so that men are without excuse” – but the human race has turned its back on God and the evidence, and thus rejected the concept of accountability to Him, and His right to judge.

Paul’s description fits every society and civilization down through history. When it all began, “they knew God,” but soon “neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him.” Consequently, “their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:21-22).

Having rejected God’s plan, He gave them over to their own preferences – and the consequences thereof – in a series of descending steps into depravity. After “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator,” God left them to their own way, and they very soon went to sexual excess, then homosexuality: “Women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones … men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Rom. 1:25-27).

Homosexuality is clearly a significant link in the chain reaction starting with man’s “declaration of independence” from God, and culminating in the morally corrupt and irresponsible behavior which have become the norm in our daily news (Rom. 1:28-32). Homosexuality is “indecent” and “unnatural” (vv. 27, 26) in God’s Word – totally incompatible with unspoiled nature.

Paul wrote again of homosexuality in 1 Timothy: “Law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:8-11). Today homosexuality is held by some to be at least tolerable if not altogether virtuous. They say it is neither violent nor injurious to outsiders. Or is it? In God’s dictionary, all of the behaviors listed do violence to God’s created order, His laws of the universe and His moral standards.

Remedy
There can be no question about God’s view of homosexuality: it is sin, a perversion of God’s order for human intimacy. But Jesus died for sin – all sin – and the guilty individual can be forgiven on the basis of frank confession of his/her sin and by receiving the dead-then-risen Jesus Christ as Substitute and Savior.

Paul wrote some very good news in 1 Corinthians: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). (Both “perverts” in 1 Timothy 1:10 and “homosexual offenders” here, are the same Greek word arsenokoites, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “a sodomite.”) Not just homosexuals, but sinners of all categories forfeit all hope of God’s favor or kingdom. Sounds hopeless, doesn’t it? But Paul continued: “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” (v. 11).

God can clean up any sinner who surrenders to His truth and cleansing, and make him/her a full-fledged member of His family. No sinner is beyond God’s ability to save. The difficulty comes when the sinner prefers to justify and continue in his sinful lifestyle, refusing God’s guilty verdict as well as His cleansing. There can be only one outcome.

Sin Grows
Sadly, such an attitude has infiltrated the church. Recently, the Episcopal Church in America elected as a regional bishop a divorced father of two who has lived in an openly homosexual relationship for several years. Christianity Today (Oct. ’03) quoted Episcopal spokesperson James Bradberry’s defense of the action: “There are lots of things in the Bible that we no longer do because our faith has evolved. This is an area in which our faith continues to evolve.” And new bishop Gene Robinson himself said: “Just simply to say that it (his lifestyle and consecration as bishop) goes against tradition and the teaching of the church and Scripture does not necessarily make it wrong.”

The Bible’s declarations are unequivocal and undeniable. So, to justify contrary behavior, the Bible must be regarded as no longer relevant – we are smarter than the Bible now that “our faith has evolved.” It is troubling that any church would defend immorality of any kind, homosexual or not. What is far more disturbing is that a church would elevate such a person to a position of authoritative leadership in its ranks. Further still, Gene Robinson is not just a proud practicing homosexual, but also a “covenant-breaker” (Rom. 1:31 KJV), or “faithless” (NIV), having forsaken the marriage commitment made before God, as well as his wife and daughters. Is this a leader in the church?

God’s Grace
God’s verdict is clear. But so is His grace. Paul declared the extent – the reach – of God’s forgiveness when he declared: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (1 Tim. 1:15). By saving the worst, God declared Himself poised to save all others.

We must remember that while homosexuality is identified in Scripture as particularly offensive to God, it is still only one form of sin in a long list of human offenses and perversions. Sin itself, not homosexuality, is the real issue. And God addressed that issue in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, when He gave Him to account for all human sin by being executed in our place at Calvary’s cross.

It’s a cliché, yet fully true, that God hates all sin but loves all sinners. No homosexual is beyond the reach of God’s love and salvation. And Christians must be careful to love all whom God loves. We have been guilty of unkind discrimination against those who call themselves “gay” as if pretending that God hates them and they are not eligible for His grace and salvation. I once published an article entitled “God Loves Homosexuals,” and received strong protest from a servant of the Lord who vehemently disagreed with the statement. He allowed that God loves sinners, but seemed to find no room for God to love homosexuals – though they are, after all, sinners. He was wrong, according to Scripture.

Homosexuality is sin. All sins render the sinner eligible for salvation, and God pleads with “all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

By Bill Van Ryn

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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