SGBC Modesto

Homosexuality: God’s Word on a Current Issue

February 26, 2024 by

William Heinrich

In addition to the current discussions arising from the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage, a seemingly endless train of news stories has bombarded the public over events surrounding the recent installation of a homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. This exposure will no doubt continue as the reaction breeds further developments, including a large number of conservatives becoming disenchanted and eyeing a split in the denomination. But the Episcopalians aren’t the only ones facing the issue of homosexuality within the church. Virtually every mainline denomination is facing it.

January 1978 seems like a long time ago, but at that time something happened that reverberates today. A task force in mainline Presbyterianism, which was appointed to study homosexuality, recommended to the general assembly of the denomination that they no longer view homosexuality as a sin when acted upon by consenting adults and that the church no longer stand in the way of the ordination of homosexuals.

What is the standard of right and wrong?

As we assess this subject of homosexuality, the basic question we all must answer first is, “What is the standard for right and wrong, and are we obligated to that standard?” Society provides many answers to this question. Some say the standard is personal experience, logic, reason, or new insights. Others argue for conscience, parental teaching, the inner light, science, or philosophy. The thinking person knows that some or all of these have filled our culture and have affected everyone to one degree or another.

Though people give many answers, God has only one. The standard for right and wrong is God’s will expressed in His Word. God’s Word is declared to be truth (John 17:19) and what we need for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). Hearers can accept God’s will/Word or reject it, but they cannot change it. Preachers can proclaim God’s Word/will or they can proclaim opinions, and the latter deserves no hearing. God Himself is immutable, so His Word is immutable. Both the Old and New Testaments clearly state that homosexual behavior is sin. Therefore, what is sin in Sodom and in Corinth is sin in America.

The church cannot condone what God condemns.

Those who do condone what God condemns lose their integrity and face serious judgment. When today’s pastors fail to proclaim that God requires people to live holy lives, they fail to proclaim 80 percent of the Bible and they condone what God condemns. For the church to reconsider her stand of being opposed to homosexuality is to actually reconsider her standards of right and wrong. The longer some denominations say wrong is right, the more there will be those who believe it. However, no cry against God’s standard will last: not a cry of moral tolerance, not a cry that it is a personal matter or a civil issue in a pluralistic society, not even a cry that reinterprets the Scriptures, saying the Scriptures do not condemn homosexuality.

Does the Bible teach absolutes regarding behavior, or does it use a situational approach? Today many ethics teachers shun any decision-making process that rests upon an examination of Scripture. They maintain that Scripture abhors such “legalism” and that those who teach Biblical absolutes are Bible worshipers. Nevertheless, people are responsible to God for obeying His will/Word. Obedience is the way we glorify God, and disobedience will bring grave consequences. The sin of Adam brought a curse on all creation, and the sin of Ham on all of Canaan. These two serve as examples of the absolutes in behavior that Judgment Day will require and of the absolute one standard of right and wrong, the Bible.

Biblical morality offends our modern relativistic and hedonistic society. Those who view the homosexual as an innocent victim of harsh discrimination by the church and society also deem God’s revealed will as not in keeping with our times and as damaging to the progress of society. But the followers of Christ must be willing to bear that opposition, even if in the end they are charged with a hate crime. Christian ethics does not have its source in research but in God’s revealed will/Word. Those who reject His Word reject God.

What does that standard say about homosexuality?

After we have established that God, through Scripture, is the sole standard of right and wrong, we must ask, “What does that standard say about homosexuality?” In the beginning it was God’s design to join together a man and a woman (Genesis 1:27; 2:22). They were to have a heterosexual relationship, be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. This design is called the creation ordinance. Homosexuality opposes mankind’s created purpose, and therefore those who pursue it do so in defiance of God’s creative ordinance. Homosexuality is a perversion of nature and of God’s purpose for man and woman. God underlines this truth throughout Scripture. For example, Leviticus 18:22 calls it “an abomination” for two men to lie together as a man and a woman would do. And Romans 1:26 and 27 describe homosexual acts as “vile passions,” “against nature,” “shameful,” and “error.”

What if people view the issue differently?

If people view the issue differently, will not God take their views into consideration and show tolerance? There is a difference between patience and tolerance. God’s patience with Sodom was not tolerance, for when the cries (ie., outcries against Sodom, Genesis 18:20) became loud enough, God destroyed all but Lot and his family. The accounts in Genesis 18 and 19 and Judges 19 are very clear. Men, young and old, desired homosexual relationships with other men. The Bible describes these men as perverted, wicked, lewd, and vile. The acts of the men in Judges 19 were an outrage to Israel. That God’s judgment was severe is obvious. Blindness, followed by brimstone, happened at Sodom; and of the men of Benjamin, twenty-five thousand died. Both Peter and Jude used the account of Sodom to establish that God will judge those who disobey His Word and who expect tolerance.

God’s law is clear.

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22), “ If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). Even to dress in the clothing of the opposite sex affronts, or insults, God’s holiness (Deuteronomy 22:5). God’s law also forbade the religious idolatry of the Canaanite culture. Deuteronomy 23:17 addresses this fact: “There shall be no ritual harlot of the daughters of Israel, or a perverted one of the sons of Israel.” The Hebrew word translated “perverted” is godesh, or “one practicing sodomy,” and prostitution was involved in religious rituals. God is holy, and He will always be holy. Although God gave the law to Israel, His standard concerning homosexuality applies to all people, without exception and for all times.

Perhaps the best-known passage about homosexuality is Romans 1, which exposes homosexuality as the bottom of a downward fall. First, the truth of God is suppressed. Then people develop their own gods. Then God gives them over to their impure lust. As a result, they dishonor their own bodies, men with men and women with women. This passage also uses different words to enlighten the reader concerning God’s view on this perversion: “impurity,” “dishonor,” “degrading passion,” “indecent acts,” “shameless deeds,” “error,” “depraved mind,” “unnatural” “worthy of death,” and “against nature.” “Nature” here refers to God’s created order, or that ordained by God. God made man to cohabit with his wife. There is no such thing as natural homosexuality, for any homosexuality is a perversion of God’s order and law.

Some say there is nothing intrinsically good or bad in any sexual act. They add that only when one’s situation and attitude are wrong does the behavior become wrong. This argument rejects God’s Word as the only standard of right and wrong. Those who argue this way ignore God’s law, or they twist it and become a law in themselves. Such people are in danger of judgment, for Romans 1:32 says, “Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

There is no Christian form of homosexuality.

There is no more a Christian form of homosexuality than there is a Christian form of rape or adultery. Many argue today that one can be a Christian and a practicing homosexual. They say the Bible draws no distinction between the outward act and the inward orientation. They argue that the Bible does not consider what causes homosexuality. They say the cause was unknown in Bible times, so what Scripture pronounces must apply only to homosexual acts that are perversions, not to the natural action of one born with that orientation. They argue that modern science has recognized that distinction and calls upon theologians to modify their conclusions accordingly. They equate someone born a homosexual to someone born with a mental or physical disability. No one can help what he or she is born with; therefore, such a person is blameless.

Homosexuality’s cause needs to be understood.

When it comes to distinguishing between outward acts and inward orientation, we need to do what the Bible does. Since it does not distinguish between the two, neither should we. Remember, too, that God never learns; He has always known everything. He could have made a distinction if He had chosen to do so. Furthermore, if a distinction were right, God would have made it, and we would follow Him.

The Bible is very clear that all people are born with a disposition to sin. Therefore, we conclude that homosexuality, like all sin, is rooted in depravity. A principle of sin operates in people’s nature and brings them into its captivity. Romans 7:23 says, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my member.” Galatians 5:17 notes, “The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” The Bible describes the human heart as hard, stiff, crooked, uncircumcised, deceitful, divided, and darkened. This is the predisposition and orientation of all humans. Therefore, we must trace the source of all sinful inclination and actions to our inborn depraved nature. General depravity is common to all, and general depravity produces particular sins: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, envies, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Furthermore, Scripture speaks to the desire as well as the act. The deed itself is a sin, but to desire a sin is also evil. Proverbs 6:18 condemns making wicked plans. Matthew 5:28 condemns lusting after a woman. Exodus 20:17 condemns coveting. Romans 13:14 and Colossians 3:5 condemn evil passion. God holds men and women morally responsible for both their burning desires and their shameful deeds. Think about it: If it is sin to have forbidden heterosexual desires when God gave man a natural desire for the woman, then how much greater is the sin of homosexual desire, which go against nature and the law of God. No wonder God’s Word calls such sins vile affections.

Depravity is a wholesale pollution of the nature.

People develop their depravity when they choose to focus on particular sins. One person may choose to expand his inclination of lying, and another of her stealing. For the one who expands his sexual passion, that act may degenerate from flirting to lust to rape or sodomy. No one is inherently immune from sin, and no one is impelled toward any specific sin. Any idea to the contrary is foreign to the Biblical doctrines of sin and mankind.

All of the theories, psychogenetic or congenital, have not one shred of tested proof that a person is born a homosexual. The cause of homosexuality is scientifically unproved and rests upon no scientific agreement. Even if it could be proved, God calls people to repent. He holds all people responsible, and He will judge the unsaved for all the sins they commit. We must remember that the source of truth is not science but God’s Word. Homosexual behavior is not sickness; it is sin. It’s not a biological factor to be tolerated; it is an act of people’s will that God will judge. It is not the way one was created; it goes against nature. And, finally, it’s not irreversible, for God makes all things new.

How should the church respond?

How should the church and society respond to the homosexual? First, the church must regard homosexuality as a sin. It is contrary to mankind’s created nature. It is illustrated as sin by the wickedness of Sodom. It is against the revealed Word of God. It is the result of people given over to their vile passions. It is under the judgment of God. We must not yield to the cry that we are being unloving or oppressive or guilty of hate crimes. We must continue to cry against all sin. The church must not, by our silence, begin to believe that people are born homosexual or that one can be a Christian and a homosexual. We must continually remind ourselves that God hates sin. We must be outraged and repulsed by all vile behavior, including this vile behavior. We must have sympathy for a victim, not for the rapist, kidnapper, or pervert. Homosexuality is not a disease; it is debauchery.

Homosexuals are placed outside God’s kingdom.

Second, while the church must have compassion for sinners, pray for them, and take them the gospel, it must never allow a practicing homosexual into its membership. First Corinthians 6:9 and 10 places homosexuals outside the kingdom of God: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.” In these verses, two words in the original refer to homosexuality, malakei and arseakortia. One means a man who is in a bed with another man. If unrepentant homosexuals are outside the kingdom of God, outside the company of the redeemed, they should not be admitted to church membership. Should the church, the house of the living God, do what God will not?

The church must be a strong support to the homosexual.

Third, the church must, however, fully receive repentant homosexuals, for they have been washed, sanctified, and declared righteous (1 Corinthians 6:11). We teach them that they are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:12-18). We teach them that God will provide an escape for every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 2:17; 4:15; 2 Peter 2:9). We are to freely accept them into our membership (Romans 14:1). We are to encourage them to stay clean by “bathing” faithfully in God’s Word (Ephesians 5:26; Romans 12:1-2; John 15:3). We are to teach them that Christ died to deliver them from both the penalty and the practice of sin (Matthew 1:21; 1 John 3:4-9). The church must become a strong support for all, but especially the ex-homosexual. The instant blessing of salvation does not eradicate the sinful impulses. It is inexcusable for the church not to be there for the weaker brother.

Should homosexuality be a civil right?

This brings us to the last question: “How should society respond to the homosexual?” Should homosexuality be a crime, or should it be a civil right? It certainly is a crime against God, but should it also be a crime against the state? Some argue that homosexuality is a civil right. They reason that there is no victim, so there is no crime. They say freedom allows an American to live as he or she pleases, as long as it does not violate another’s rights.

Homosexuality brings ill effects on society. If it is made a civil right, it will progressively degenerate society, and it will redefine marriage and the home. We are seeing these things happening right now. This Pandora’s box of sexual immorality is causing degraded views of mankind and great increase in moral perversions. This issue brings with it child endangerment and the total ignoring of history as a teaching agent. Homosexuality is not an individual matter. It is a social crime. Making it a crime will not eliminate it, but it would suppress it. As society allows, endorses, and defends homosexuality, eventually society will consider those who oppose it guilty of hate crimes.

As God’s people, we are to be light and salt in our secular world. His Word is to bring light to their darkness and preserve mankind from decay. Bible believers not only take the gospel to lost people around them but also influence people for righteousness. Homosexual behavior violates the will and purposes of our Creator. Public opinion carries much weight in our free society; therefore, Christians, like everyone else, can raise their voice of influence to shape society.

Can a Christian oppose homosexuality ecclesiastically as a sin but support it civilly as a civil right? Are not the church and state separate and autonomous institutions? The latter is true; however, the church is responsible to influence the state to righteousness. The answer lies in the God-ordained responsibility of the government. Civil leaders are the ministers of God and for God (Romans 13). The civil authority is to execute vengeance on all evildoers. God’s Word does not view homosexuality as a civil right but a civil wrong (crime), along with murder, kidnapping, perjury, rape, stealing, and incest.

For Christians not to oppose homosexuality as a civil right would be irresponsible. The moment believers become complacent toward the perverse sins in their society, they lose their grip on their influence on society. They are salt that is no longer salty. Tolerance is not morality. Tolerance in these areas is to be abhorred, not exalted. Are we tolerant to child molesters and rapists?

Jude wrote, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction: but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 22, 23). The Christian must be led by the Holy Spirit so that compassion is not interpreted as acceptance, or fear as hate. We must be more concerned about what God thinks of us than of what other people do. We must speak strongly against sin but sweetly about grace. We must remind the sinner of God’s severity on the unrepentant sinner and of God’s goodness upon the forgiven one.