In my recent post (and page) announcing my upcoming series on Philippians, I briefly mentioned that I had “only one special post idea left.” This was that only remaining special topic (that I already had in mind that) I hadn’t yet gotten around to. Is it controversial? Yes, but it bears discussing. Homosexuality is a hot-button issue (as is abortion—which will be the next special post), but it’s an issue the Bible addresses, not just in Leviticus but also in the New Testament. The whole Bible is breathed out by God and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). “All Scripture” includes passages like Romans 1:24-27, which reveal that
God gave them [idolaters, see vv. 18-23] up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Now, in later verses Paul does go on to list other sins that God “gave [sinful people] up to,” but the first sin resulting from blatant idolatry that Paul mentions is homosexuality: “women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature.” Not only did women do this, but men also “were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” You may say, “Jordan, that passage is fine and everything. But new scientific studies show that some people are born that way; it’s natural.” In which case, you miss the point. The whole created world has been tainted by sin; as Paul later writes in Romans 8:19-22, the whole
creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
“But Jordan,” you may argue, “surely two people’s love for each other can’t be sinful! How can love be a sin?” All of creation has been tainted by sin. And because of sin, “God gave [certain people] up to dishonorable passions,” namely, homosexuality. “How can a loving God do this?” you ask. People are sinners by nature. People choose sin, God does not actively will people to sin. For God to “give them up to dishonorable passions” is the same thing as it is for God to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Romans 9 speaks of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, but at the same time, Pharaoh himself also hardened his own heart. People choose to sin; and homosexuality is but one of the sins that are of “dishonorable passions.”
“But Jordan,” you say, “they love each other! Why can’t they marry?” Not only does God condemn homosexuality clearly in passages like Romans 1, but God also upholds the created design for marriage (between one man and one woman for a lifetime) in passages like Ephesians 5:31-33. In this passage, as Paul lays out his explanation of what a Christian marriage should look like, he bases his argument on the original (sinless) creation of man and woman:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Just as an abusive husband or unsubmissive wife betrays the “mystery” of “Christ and the church,” so do homosexual unions betray the mystery of Christ and the church. Just as premarital heterosexual sex sins against God’s perfect created order, so does all homosexual sex sins against God’s perfect created order.
“But Jordan, what does it matter? Why should we care if homosexuals marry and have kids? Don’t we live in a free society, and shouldn’t homosexual couples be allowed to marry and have all the rights of heterosexual married couples?” The issue of homosexuality matters because it is a grievous sin. And unless people come to a knowledge of their sin, and realize their need of Christ as their Savior, they cannot and will not believe on Him for eternal life. Nothing short of eternity is at stake! (I will clarify that I am not denying that there may be some Christians who struggle with homosexuality, but the key word is “struggle.” True Christians are repentant and broken over sin; see Romans 7.)
But onto why we should care if homosexuals marry and have kids. This matters because children brought up in a homosexual home will not have a proper view of sin. If those kids grow up thinking of homosexuality as normal or at least as a valid alternative lifestyle, they will continue a pattern of sin (even if they’re not homosexual themselves) and only be more hostile than necessary to biblical truth. David Weigel of the Washington Post disagrees, though. He writes:
But who’s threatened by legal same-sex marriage? Whose life is made worse? If there was science suggesting that children raised by same-sex parents are worse off than children raised by traditional families, that would be one thing, but I haven’t seen it. We’ve watched legal same-sex marriage in several European countries and several states, and it hasn’t ushered in some decline in the quality of life, or marriage, for those who don’t participate in it.
Weigel is right that homosexuality doesn’t decline “the quality of life … for those who don’t participate in it.” But it does harm and further undermine marriage and the Bible. And it spiritually harms everyone involved—the partners and any included children. That is why we Christians must stand up against homosexuality. That is why we must proclaim forgiveness of (and freedom from!) sins through faith in Christ Jesus alone to all people, homosexuals included!
The article I just quoted by Mr. Weigel was actually an online apology for some comments he had made via Twitter: “I can empathize with everyone I cover except for the anti-gay marriage bigots. In 20 years no one will admit they were part of that.” Reacting to these comments, Boundless writer Matt Kaufman rightly noted that “Weigel’s prediction might come true. But only if we allow it.” Mr. Kaufman went on to write:
It’s not good enough to quietly believe in God’s design for men, women and marriage — or to talk about it only among like-minded friends. We have to talk about them in front of people who may not want to hear it too. Otherwise, we will see a future where everyone either assumes the "progressive" position is indisputable, or is too embarrassed or intimidated to dispute it.
So speak up. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s mean or hurtful. (Speaking God’s truth is always the most loving thing you can do.) And whatever you do, don’t tell yourself "I don’t talk about divisive things; God only calls me to talk about things that bring people together." God calls us to speak the truth. We can’t guarantee that truth will be win out in the culture. We can guarantee it will continue to be spoken, for 20 years or however long we’re here.
Mr. Kaufman brings out many great points in that quote, but I want to focus in on his parenthetical statement: “Speaking God’s truth is always the most loving thing you can do.” I completely agree. The apostle Paul does clarify in Ephesians 4:15 that we should speak the truth in love, but we must speak it nonetheless. Homosexuals need to know that without Christ’s atoning blood, they (like all other sinners—ourselves included!) are bound for eternal hell.
And we Christians must stand up for marriage. I will freely admit that homosexuality is not the only thing that has eroded marriage. But it has contributed. And standing against homosexuality is something many Christians are already doing. As Paul writes in Philippians 3:16, “Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” The church is slowly beginning to improve; but the family continues to erode. This pattern cannot continue for long, for if the family falls apart, the church will necessarily suffer after it. We Christians must stand up for marriage. And that means we must stand against homosexuality, for starters.
But it also means we must stand for biblical manhood and womanhood. We must stand for the husband’s loving servant leadership and for the wife’s loving submission. We must stand for parents discipling their children. We must stand against divorce and even against egalitarianism. All these things we must stand against have infiltrated the church to one extent or another, but we must begin the process of weeding out these weeds of sin (homosexuality, divorce, and egalitarianism).
Only as we reclaim marriage will we begin to reclaim our gospel witness to the world. Very simply, if we deny marriage, we come ever closer to denying the gospel itself, for the gospel has very clear implications for marriage and family life (some of which I’ve covered, others that I hope to cover in a future series).
As authors such as J. Mack Stiles and Greg Gilbert have noted, the bad news of human sin must precede the good news of the gospel that Jesus died in the place of all those who would but trust in His sacrifice for their salvation. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:23 that the gospel is “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” It is either a “stumbling block” or “folly” for sinful people to hear that they are condemned to hell without Christ, but that is the good news of the gospel: by trusting in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for their salvation, they are saved by “Christ crucified”!
We certainly must not add further stumbling blocks and follies to the already offensive (offensive to the natural mind, anyway) gospel, but we Christians must realize and affirm that homosexuality is a dangerous sin that further erodes the already suffering view of marriage. We must realize that since marriage is a picture of “Christ and the church,” if we call homosexuality anything less than a sin (or worse yet, to condone it openly!), we betray and water down and adulterate the gospel itself. I leave you with Paul’s words in Galatians 1:9, “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
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