Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. Ephesians 5:8–12
‘In June 1995, a panel of the Church of England recommended that the phrase “living in sin” be abandoned and that unmarried couples, heterosexual and homosexual alike, be “given encouragement and support” in their lifestyles and more readily welcomed into Anglican congregations. Suggesting that “loving homosexual relations and acts” are intrinsically no less valuable than heterosexual ones, the panel proposed that love should be allowed to be expressed “in a variety of relationships.”28 Although such a statement is hardly surprising in today’s world, it is shocking to hear it from an established church, and to know that other church denominations have asserted similar ideas.
We must love the sinner, but we must also speak out against sin.
‘Recently I served on a parent-teachers’ committee at a local high school and was able to observe just how powerful the movement to accept homosexuality has become – how it has crept into almost every aspect of public life. The school district’s Health and Safety Advisory Committee was so afraid of alienating gays and lesbians that it was hesitant even to define “family,” let alone take a position on so-called family values. Finally, it settled on defining “family” as “two people with a commitment.”
‘Many politicians and an increasing number of clergy are afraid to say anything against such a definition for fear of losing voter support or their jobs. Very few dare to stand in opposition and say, “Enough!” But by refusing to define marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman, they not only call into question the entire institution of the family but flatly deny God’s order for creation. They are sending our children the message that anything is okay, and that life-long commitment to one partner of the opposite sex is merely one of many options.
‘To some readers it may seem that I am advocating hatred toward homosexuals – “gay bashing.” Let me assure you that I am not. Every one of us is a sinner and falls short every day, and there is no biblical basis for making homosexuality a worse sin than any other. To make fun of homosexuality or to judge a practicing homosexual any more harshly than another person who has sinned, or to look on him or her with an attitude of condemnation, is a sin: we know from the gospels that no sexual sin is so terrible that it cannot be forgiven or healed (Eph. 2:3–5). Yet we also know that Jesus hates sin, even though he loves the sinner and wants to redeem him.
To affirm homosexuality is to deny God’s creative intent.
‘Homosexual conduct is a sin. It is “against nature,” against God’s creative design, and it is a form of self-worship and idolatry (Rom. 1:26). As a sexual act between two people of the same gender it is the “very grievous” sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:1–29).
‘In Leviticus 18:22–23, God calls homosexual intercourse an abomination: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” And in Leviticus 20:13 we read, “The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have brought it upon themselves.” Let those who discount such prohibitions and warnings by explaining that we are now “no longer under the law, but under grace” then explain why incest, adultery, bestiality, and human sacrifice are not to be ignored. All of these are condemned in the very next sentences: “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it. A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.”
‘The New Testament also condemns homosexuality. In Romans 1:26–28 Paul writes:
Their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and their men in turn, giving up natural relations with women, burn with lust for one another; males behave indecently with males and are paid in their persons the fitting wage of such perversion.
‘And in 1 Cor. 6:9–10 Paul writes:
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…will inherit the kingdom of God.
‘Many people reinterpret these Scriptures as condemning only homosexual rape, promiscuity, and lustful or “unnatural” homosexual behavior by heterosexuals. They claim that what the Bible condemns is offensive homosexual (and heterosexual) behavior. But isn’t it clear that when Paul speaks of “homosexual offenders” he is speaking of the offense of homosexuality itself? If only “offensive” kinds of homosexual acts were evil, then what about the rest of what Paul mentions in the same passage: adultery, idolatry, and so forth?
‘What could be clearer than Paul’s words in Romans, where he calls homosexuality “sinful desire, sexual impurity” and says that it is “degrading and shameful”? Or his unmistakably sharp words against giving oneself over “to depravity”? (Rom. 1:24–28) Homosexual acts are always perverse, for they always distort God’s will for creation. They simply cannot be defended in any way by Scripture. And this is just as true when they take place in a “loving” lifelong relationship. Adulterous heterosexual affairs may also be felt to be loving and may be long-lasting, but that doesn’t make them right.
‘It is typical today to hear people complain about the injustice of holding homosexuals responsible for an orientation or even a way of life that they themselves did not necessarily choose. But this is only an excuse for sin. Whether or not homosexuals are responsible for their sexual orientation has no relevance as to the rightness or wrongness of their behavior. To explain behavior is one thing. To justify it is altogether different.29
Whatever its origin or kind, sexual temptation can be overcome.
‘The sexual urges of a homosexual can be acute, but so can those of anyone else. All of us are “naturally” predisposed to do what we should not do. But if we believe in God, we must also believe that he can give us the grace to overcome whatever struggles we may have to bear: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9–10).
‘In speaking out against homosexuality, we must always remember that even though Scripture condemns homosexual behavior, it never gives us license to condemn the people who engage in it. As Christians we certainly cannot condone the denial of any person’s basic human rights, for whatever reason. It is all too easy to forget that the Bible has much more to say about pride, greed, resentment, and self-righteousness than about homosexuality. Nevertheless, we will always resist the agenda of those who try to redefine homosexuality as an “alternative lifestyle” – especially as it affects the legalization of same-sex marriages – as well as efforts to compel religious groups to accept practicing homosexuals as members and even ministers (1 Cor. 5:11).
‘It is also important to consider the difference between homosexual tendency or “orientation” and an active homosexual lifestyle. Whereas homosexual orientation can arise by means of psychological influences, social environment, and perhaps (according to some scientists) even genetic makeup, an active homosexual lifestyle is a matter of choice. To argue that our culture, family, or genes make us powerless to choose for or against sin is to deny the concept of free will.
‘Even as an orientation, homosexuality is an especially deep-rooted condition, and those who struggle with it deserve compassion and help. Therefore we always need to be ready to receive the homosexual man or woman into our fellowship and stand with him or her – in patience and love, though also with the clarity that refuses to tolerate continued sexual sinning. Above all, we need to remind those burdened with same-sex attraction of God’s original plan for creation, and help them see that neither man nor woman is truly complete without the other.
‘I have counseled many people who have struggled with homosexual temptations. Sometimes a person’s situation seems hopeless, but in my experience, even someone who has been ingrained in the “gay lifestyle” for a long time can be helped. Whether a struggling homosexual acts on his temptations or not, one thing remains the same: if he turns single-mindedly to Jesus, he can be helped and freed; if he is divided in the depth of his heart, even the most valiant efforts to resist temptation will cramp him in an inner way. Even a perverse glance shows that a person is not decided – and Jesus calls this “adultery” in the heart. Lasting freedom can be found only in decisiveness.
‘It is all the more important, therefore, that people who are not burdened by homosexuality try to understand the tremendous inner need of those who are. Their misplaced sexual desire often stems from an intense yearning for a genuinely loving connection with others. Many homosexuals have never known unconditional, accepting love from those of their own gender. In fatherless homes across our country, a void exists that is capable of inducing homosexual feelings in children. And in our culture, driven as it is by competition and the will to dominate, it is easy for some people to feel left out; they may turn to homosexuality as a result.’
– From “Sex, God and Marriage” by Johann Christoph Arnold, a small, FREE e-Book available online here (it’s FREE because the AUTHOR wants it so, to be shared as much as possible – and with good reason! I strongly advise you get it!)