As an introduction to this blog, after noting the controversy surrounding these issues over the last few weeks, I’ve decided to create an entry regarding some basic things Christians should take note of in regards to homosexual behavior. Before launching into this one specific sin, it should also be noted that Christians ought to also think of the sins of divorce, adultery, fornication, and many others in the same way, this one area though tends to be a socially acceptable not only as an action but also it is socially acceptable to bash on those who would still say their actions are sinful. These other actions while more common tend to still be accepted as sin.
While it is not new, there is a renewed interest in homosexual rights. Recently what set things off is the unfiltered words of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty who is an unashamed Christian on the hit reality show. While some of Phil Robertson’s words were crass and not worded in the best way, that is part of his personality where he just speaks bluntly, but what has really caused the uproar has been what amounts basically quoting the Bible. He even says that his job is just to love sinners whether they are “homosexuals, drunks, terrors” and let God do the judging. This has raised up the fury of many people who advocate gay rights and many Christians as well. Therefore it is good to explore what the Bible teaches about everything regarding gay rights.
In order to get a true understanding of this whole topic there are a few things to first cover before proceeding to the topic of gay rights. First, we have to understand what sin is, then we have to understand the nature of homosexuality (specifically in regards to science and so called “gay/straight genes,” and then we can discuss implications in daily life.
Starting with, we need an understanding of sin. While skipping some parts of the nature of sin, there are two important things to note. First is the very word used to define sin, that word is hamattia which is an archery term which is best thought of as missing the mark, or not hitting the bullseye. There important part to take from this is that anything short of the exact standard is considered sin or failure to uphold God’s standard in this life we live. There is not one person who can say they have not sinned since our target is perfection and we are far from perfect.
The other important aspect (which is necessary because it will be important later on) is the nature of sin impacting humanity. The key concept to discuss here is the idea of humanities sin nature. Without going into the theological arguments and positions for establishing that all humans sin, it is important to note that it is in our nature to sin and each person struggles with different things.
To first thing to note is that homosexual relations are always considered sin throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament law we see it is an abomination before the Lord (Lev. 18:22), and for those who would argue the God of the Old Testament is somehow different than Jesus and the God of the New Testament, it should be noted that God is unchanging and while not specifically references in the Gospels, sexual immorality which is the broad category of homosexual sin would fall under and that is mentioned on multiple occasions. Also Jesus tells us that he did not come to destroy the law but rather to fulfill it. (Mathew 5:17-19) Therefore homosexual relations would still be sinful regardless of what one’s personal view on the issue is.
For those who would say that homosexuality is genetic, and therefore should be a sin, first it is important to note that basically all of the research that is done has been inconclusive and studies on both sides consistently are done by heavily biased researchers which does tend to skew the results of most of the studies. With that in mind, I will give those who claim there is a genetic factor one part that I agree with them. There is a predisposition to sin. Not every person’s sin looks the same way, some are predisposed to be gossips, some to be slanderers, some to be murders, some to be liars, and some to be sexually deviant, not just homosexuality but also adulterers (sex with a married person that is not your spouse) and fornicators (sex before/outside of marriage). Therefore it is definitely safe to say that all people are predisposed to sin, and this is what theologians generally refer to as sin nature or simply that every human being is going to sin as a result of Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Regarding homosexuality in American culture (and the world at large) there is more than just what meets the eye. We have to remember that there is a history of not only reviling but also harassing, bullying, and assaulting those who choose to practice this specific sin. First of all it is important to know this is not the heart of God. God has compassion on sinners of all varieties and expects that from His followers. Jesus did come for the purpose of reconciling humanity to God. This purpose required Jesus to die on the cross as payment for our sins (in whatever form they may take). This is the exact opposite of causing someone emotional or physical trauma for their sins.
The purpose of people not being ostracized, cut off and exiled because of their sins is something Christians should stand behind since if we were called to stand before God, not one of us could face judgement and the Holy presence of God without realizing our sins and failures. While not perfect, this aim has been achieved for the most part. However, this is no longer the purpose of the so called “gay rights” movement. Now if someone calls their behavior sin as the Bible clearly defines the actions, you can and generally will be labeled with any number of slurs denoting hate toward these people regardless of how you say they should be treated.
The next stage, and part of the goal the proponents for gay rights are going for are the legalization of gay marriage throughout the US. It has already become legal in multiple states and barring a major change in the mentality of Americans by and large will likely become law in the US sometime in the next several years. As a Christian, should we sit idly by and wait for the seemingly inevitable to happen? Or is there more that ought to be done? Christ did promise that the world will hate Christians because they hated him, and this is definitely being played out in our country and around the world. But this does not give us an excuse to be lazy and take things for granted.
There are two main principles and then the application of them which Christians need to keep in mind in dealing with the challenges facing us with gay marriage. First the principles.
First, Christians are called to be salt to the world as well as light in the dark world. These illustrations paint the picture of Christians being there as a contrast to the dark world around us. With salt, the picture is that salt purifies everything it came in contact with. Similarly, Christians ought to be stalwarts against evil and the sin that is overwhelming the world (if you want evidence that the world is getting worse, just look at the increase in school shootings over the last decade, the increasing violent crime rates worldwide, the acceptance of sin as normal around the world, and there is much more, but that will be for another time).
The second example is that of light and darkness. In scripture we see the world described as dark which is routinely used as a description of sin and we see Jesus saying the darkness hates the light which is apt in dealing with sin, as no one like to have their sin exposed and the light does just that, it exposes sin as sin and convicts the sinner. However, it also allows one to see the truth and potentially change one’s lifestyle.
These two examples set up a pattern where Christians ought to realize the world will continually seek to remove any reminder of sin and conviction. It is important to note that the world will reject much of what we say as Christians whether its against their conventional wisdom or just what they think is right. It is part of what Jesus tells us about the darkness hating the light. This also brings up an instruction for the disciples that Jesus had. Specifically we are to tell people the truth and share the gospel and then leave the results up to God. There are two places to look at how this principle plays out.
First is in Proverbs 1:20-33, and while I won’t cite everything it is interesting to note how people are warned by wisdom and the fools hate knowledge and turn at the rebuke of wisdom. The fools/simple/scorner all rejected the counsel of wisdom and of the wise and is summed up in verse 29 when it says “they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord.” The end result is that because they rejected the fear of the Lord in the first place and despised rebuke, they were set to eat the fruit of their own way, or in other words, they would get the results of the actions they have chosen.
Secondly a similar section of scripture is found in Mathew 10:5-15 where Jesus sends out his disciples and tells that for those who “will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” This is similar to the Old Testament warning in Proverbs that those who reject God will reap the rewards of their lifestyle.
All of this comes for the purpose of saying Christians ought to stand firm when gay activists try to redefine the term marriage. Churches should never condone sin and therefore should never be performing marriage ceremonies in their building or have the staff perform the ceremony. However, while marriage was first given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, regardless of what our country wants to define as marriage does not make it any different than the sin God considers it. It will give those people some of the same monetary benefits currently enjoyed by other couples as defined by the government. However, this shouldn’t trouble Christians, as our treasure is stored in Heaven and what we see in the world is but a shallow picture of what will be.
Christians ought to take solace in knowing that while we are required to pay taxes for the land in which we live, our job is to speak the gospel and speak wisdom to a world that doesn’t want anything to do with God. We must uphold this standard regardless of the reaction we receive, and then God will hold those who continue to sin accountable for their actions. We as Christians ought to stand up for righteousness, but should realize the world is going to hate us as well as our message. Just like the world hated Jesus. This does not mean we ought to hurt others in the name of Jesus, Jesus hated sin and while the world hated him. Jesus willingly laid down his life for those who hated and reviled him. We ought to be doing the same thing and laying down our lives for those who hate us, not crucifying those who hate us.