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Homosexuality, pt 1


I have some gay friends, and all through the Bible it seems homosexuals get a bad rap—like they’re going to hell for being gay. Why? I’m not gay, but I care about my friends. What can I tell them?

Steve Answers:

Homosexuality is a controversial topic.

Some people are clearly on the anti-homosexual bandwagon for religious reasons, because homosexuality disgusts them, or because they fear homosexuality.*

Everyone is not opposed to it, though. An increasing number of gay people are "coming out of the closet." Many people support them because they’re pro-homosexuality, or they think people should be free to do whatever they want, especially if that’s their choice or orientation. Some people even promote the Gay Pride movement.

There’s such controversy over homosexuality because people have opinions on opposite sides, and they discuss it more openly now than in the past. Also, let me point out that considering the topic of homosexuality is easier when you discuss it theoretically. Once you know people who are homosexual, it tends to change one’s ideas from being theoretical (ideas only) to practical (what do we do now?).

For example, I might think homosexuality is bad–wrong, ungodly, unnatural, etc. Then I meet a wonderful person who becomes my friend. After we become friends, I find out he’s gay. How do I relate to him? Here are four possible options:

1. Relate to him the same way I did before. (Ignore my thoughts about homosexuality being bad.)

2. Be repulsed and draw away or persecute the gay person. (Since homosexuality is bad, I treat the homosexual in a bad way.)

3. Be repulsed and try to correct my gay friend. (Since homosexuality is bad, and since you are my friend, I will help you turn away from homosexuality.)

4. Adjust my conviction that homosexuality is bad, since my friend isn’t a bad person.

Although these are some natural reactions, as Christians we want to live for Jesus, and we get our instruction and clues from the Bible, not merely circumstances that come our way. So what does the Bible say about homosexuality? Here are a few texts people turn to when considering this topic:

"Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable" (Leviticus 18:22).

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads" (Leviticus 20:13).

"Because of this [trading the truth of God for a lie], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the 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" (Romans 1:26, 27).

"Surely you know that the people who do wrong will not inherit God’s kingdom. Do not be fooled. Those who sin sexually, worship idols, take part in adultery, those who are male prostitutes, or men who have sexual relations with other men, those who steal, are greedy, get drunk, lie about others, or rob–these people will not inherit God’s kingdom. In the past, some of you were like that, but you were washed clean. You were made holy, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, NCV).†

"But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God and are sinful, who are not holy and have no religion, who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder, who take part in sexual sins, who have sexual relations with people of the same sex, who sell slaves, who tell lies, who speak falsely, and who do anything against the true teaching of God" (1 Timothy 1:8-10, NCV).

For many, reading these five passages provides a quick and conclusive answer to your question. According to the Bible, homosexuality is bad. The reason homosexuality gets a "bad rap" is that it’s sin.

In our society today there’s been an increasing awareness and acceptance of homosexuality.

The media presents it in more positive or neutral stances than in the past. And behavioral sciences are now suggesting that homosexuality can be either a person’s right to choose or an orientation with which they’re born.

Our current culture doesn’t consider the Bible a source of authority. But as Christians, we desire to follow what God has revealed in the Bible. We live in our culture sometimes as "pilgrims and strangers" in anticipation of heaven. (See Ellen G. White’s book Early Writings, p. 113.)

In recent years some who study the Bible have sought to find a greater openness to homosexuality. They’ve wondered, Is it possible that our reading of Scripture in the past has given us a bias against homosexuality? If a person is gay, do they have to turn their back on who they are? Or is the only other option to turn one’s back on God and the Bible?

For a pro-homosexual understanding of Scripture, you’ll somehow have to explain away the texts already presented. Here’s how some people have done it.

They say that the two passages from Leviticus are simply for the Jewish people in Old Testament times, so we can throw those out with the ceremonial laws about sacrificing animals.

Then they say that the three passages written by Paul aren’t about homosexuality as we know it today. Paul was referring to old men having sex with young boys (pedophilia). So homosexuality is fine. It’s pedophilia that’s bad.

You might hear of the term sodomy as males having sex with males, perhaps in a raping fashion. The term comes from the biblical story of what happened in Sodom when God sent angels to warn Lot and his family about Sodom’s imminent destruction and the men of the city wanting to have sex with the male visitors (Genesis 19:1-5). Sodom was soon destroyed, and this male gang raping seems to be the lightning rod of all that was bad in Sodom.

Pro-homosexuality Christians have said that the sin of Sodom wasn’t sexual–it was lacking hospitality for the strangers who came into the city that evening. For evidence in Scripture, they point to Ezekiel 16:48 and 49, but leave out verse 50.

I think these attempts to explain away the texts that straightforwardly condemn homosexuality are rather flimsy. Next week we’ll continue discussing the topic of homosexuality. 

*The terms gay and homosexual used here refer to a same-sex relationship, either male-to-male (homosexual) or female-to-female (lesbian).

†Scriptures credited to NCV are quoted from The Holy Bible, New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Dallas, Texas 75039. Used by permission.

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