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Is homosexuality inside the church wrong?

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Is homosexuality inside the church wrong? I mean, arenít we all sinners?


Steve Answers:

Your question is loaded with lots of implications. You identify a topic that many wouldn’t even discuss a decade or two ago, and you come right out of the closet with it. I’m guessing that either you’ve been in a conversation with someone about this, you know someone who is a homosexual, or something significant has happened recently that brings up the topic for you. You’re not alone with any of these possibilities.

It used to be that people thought homosexuality was wrong—anywhere. As the topic became more acceptable, public opinion shifted to homosexuality being OK in the world, but not OK in the church. Your question takes the next step by asking whether or not it’s wrong in the church. Actually, I think your second question provides the answer to your first question. The answer to both of your questions is, “Yes!”

Here are three of the passages of scripture that people usually refer to on the topic of homosexuality:

• “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 [knowing God but not glorifying or thanking Him (see Romans 1:21)], 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).

These texts seem to be all that many people need to conclude that homosexuality is wrong. While those outside the church don’t necessarily take the Bible as a standard or authoritative source for their lives, those inside the church certainly do.

As the topic of homosexuality has become openly debated the past few decades, those who are sympathetic toward homosexuality have made the following arguments:

• Homosexuals don’t have a choice in their orientation.

• Homosexuality is something that you’re born with.

• Homosexuality can’t be changed.

• Homosexuals have been mistreated

and misunderstood.

• Homosexuals should not be denied sexual expression.

As people who are supportive of homosexuals and/or homosexuality have gained ground toward normalizing it, the latest thrust has been to make same-sex marriages legal.

Because the church is God’s stated presence in the world, you would expect the church to be involved in this topic when it’s of importance to others. And it is! Your question for a church magazine is an example of this.

There are religious people supportive of homosexuality who seek to point out that the passages of scripture used to identify homosexuality as “wrong” or “sin” really shouldn’t be used that way. They refer to these as “clobber passages,” because they feel that some people use them to “clobber” homosexuals over the head.

For example, as for the passages in Leviticus, some say that since it’s found in the Old Testament, it must be just for Jews, not for Christians. This way of thinking assumes that the Old Testament isn’t for Christians. However, Seventh-day Adventist Christians believe that both the Old Testament and New Testament are the Bible for Christians. One more point: Leviticus 18:24 points out that God was driving out the pagan nations because they’d done these things, so homosexuality wasn’t just bad for Jews.

Those supportive of homosexuality also have an explanation for Romans 1, in which the Bible says God condemns the exchange of natural relations for unnatural ones. They say: For a homosexual, it’s “natural” to be attracted to somebody of the same sex. So if a homosexual has a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, it’s “unnatural” and therefore condemned by God. (You might need to read that last sentence again to see if it makes sense to you.)

Your second question asks if we’re all sinners. As a Christian, it’s pretty easy to say, “Yes.” And I would add, “Thank God that Jesus died for me, because I am a sinner!” But my point is that homosexuality is indeed a sin, just as lying, stealing, gossiping, lusting, being proud, overeating, and not forgiving (to name just a few) are sins. Here’s where I got that idea:

“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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10).

But notice the very next verse! “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (verse 11).

No homosexual will ever go to heaven—unless the homosexual is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus. No thief will ever go to heaven—unless the thief is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus. No greedy person will ever go to heaven—unless the greedy person is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus. No ______ (insert sinner here) will ever go to heaven—unless the ______ (insert sinner here) is washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus.

Do you get the point?

Homosexuality is a sin just like stealing and greed are sins. And please don’t tell me that if a person is born that way, it’s OK. I was born a sinner (how about you?), and it’s not OK! I’m naturally selfish. That’s not OK. I need to confess my natural sinfulness, not celebrate it. I need a new heart with a new outlook that can come only from God, not simply from denial or simple behavior modification steps. And, I need the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life at all times in order to live for God.

There’s a human tendency to be defensive and justify one’s self by pointing out what’s wrong with someone else. For example, if you question me about spending money foolishly on an expensive car just to show off, my tendency would be to point out that you spend money foolishly on an expensive house just to show off.

Please notice that on my part there is a failure to admit that I’ve spent money foolishly. As long as I can redirect the accusation away from me and onto you, I can continue with spending money foolishly and feel justified, because “at least I’m not as bad as you!”

In the church if I dare point out any sin I see in someone else, it wouldn’t be hard for them to point out sin in me. I’m a hypocrite, just like everyone else in the church. I sin, and I can see sin in others. I don’t want to point out sin in others, so that others won’t point out sin in me. Then we’re all a bunch of phonies—going to church and acting like we’re OK when we’re really full of sin!

Instead, each of us should be ready, even eager, to confess our sins. It’s humiliating, which is difficult in and of itself. It requires change in your life, which you may not even want right now. But it’s the way God wants to shape us to become more and more like Jesus. Jesus died for us just the way we are. But He gives us His Spirit so we don’t have to stay the way we are!

“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8, 9).

“If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:13, 14).

Forgiveness is available to all who confess. Cleansing may happen immediately, it may not be complete until Jesus returns, or it may happen somewhere between these two extremes.

Homosexuality is wrong inside the church and outside the church. Every homosexual is a sinner, just like every other human being is a sinner. Jesus died to save sinners, not to perpetuate sin.

Instead of excusing sin, let’s love the sinner. Wouldn’t you agree that’s the best way for people to relate to you too?



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