What does God have to say about homosexuality? Is homosexuality sin, or is it not? Is there enough information in the Bible to discern the will of God on the issue? What is the message that Jesus Christ has for homosexuals? Is there really truth in the midst of so much disagreement?
ASSESSING THE SITUATION
Homosexuality has a lot of people asking questions. Not too long ago, most people simply took it for granted that homosexuality was unnatural, sinful, and should not be accepted as an alternative lifestyle; yet things have changed. Today, many people are uncertain as to how to answer questions about homosexuality, while sharp lines are being drawn in the sand as people take their side on an issue that has become greatly obtrusive and controversial. Polemics are engaged in from both sides; slander and name-calling are not uncommon. Whether it is "fag" or "homophobe", such insults stem from fear and an inability to explain or convince another of one's point of view. Even violence has been resorted to and is increasing in frequency. Where will all this lead, and when will it end? Will truth prevail in the long run?
What is urgently needed is for God’s voice to speak into the chaos, and to calm the storm that threatens to sink us. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. If a hungry man eats bread but does not listen to the words of God, he is not better off. It does not matter if one side wins through political muscling and gets their own way; if we are not listening to God it profits nothing. “Unless the Lord builds the house, they that build labor in vain. Unless the Lord guard the city, they that guard watch in vain. ” (Psalm 127:1) Are both sides willing to humble themselves before God and before each other so they can listen to the voice that matters? If not, how can mere political victory be real victory? The objective for both sides needs to be to hear from God and obey His voice, rather than merely to get their own way. Truth, not preference, must be our desire.
It is important for those who are opposed to homosexuality to understand and empathize with the homosexual man or woman. Homosexuals are under great pressure and feel that their fight is a fight, not only for their liberty, but for their very identity. Such issues are not to be handled insensitively. If they lose the fight, they feel they will have lost everything, and must resign themselves to an existence within a hostile society that is, for them, without a hope and a future. The high rate of suicide among homosexuals must not be passed over lightly. The homosexual is in a desperate struggle for meaning, acceptance and survival, and understandably cannot see much comfort in anything short of victory.
It is likewise important for those who are pro-homosexual to understand and empathize with the heterosexual man or woman who is opposed to homosexuality. For them, they too feel belittled and are made to seem stupid simply because they disagree that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, while at the same time they feel that their concerns have not been answered in any satisfying way. Thus they feel ignored and swept aside as contemptible for their convictions, without any explanation. Such treatment inevitably causes frustration. It is vital that pro-homosexuals understand that most often the conviction of people who are opposed to homosexuality is the result of a sincere faith in God, which faith involves the belief that God has revealed to mankind, both through reason and revelation, that homosexuality is sinful. Thus for them it is not merely a stuffy tradition nor an insensible fear of progress that causes them to oppose; it is a much deeper and fundamental conviction that such "progress" is not actually progress at all, but rather digression, because it goes against the will of God. This must be taken into full consideration and likewise treated with sensitivity.
If we reflect upon these things, we should see quite quickly that the answer to the confusion has absolutely everything to do with God. If the belief in God's revelation of the sinfulness of homosexuality were satisfactorily refuted, then the case for homosexuality would surely stand, and religious people would feel like they were not ignored and their objections were answered. Such a strategy is now being undertaken by many; yet the main strategy from the pro-homosexual side has unfortunately been one of aggressive domineering through politics and the media rather than intellectual engagement. This is, in my opinion, immoral. If the pro-homosexual cause desires to achieve their goal in an honest manner, they would command more respect if they were more concerned about truth than about airtime. Ends do not justify means, and it is not right to silence another voice without hearing it out and satisfactorily answering it. If there is a God, and if God has revealed His judgment concerning homosexuality, and if that judgment is that homosexuality is sinful, then the matter is settled, and it only remains to show the homosexual how there is a hope and a future with God through Jesus Christ. I am persuaded that homosexuals would not feel the need to fight so desperately for their identity and for hope if they only knew what incredible things belong to them in the promises of God, and sadly I do not think the Church has clearly communicated this to the homosexual, thus contributing to the despair. It is my desire now to share that good news with homosexuals.
GOOD NEWS FOR HOMOSEXUALS
I'm sure most people who are involved in this discussion have read the prominent Scriptures that relate to homosexuality in the Bible (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-28, 1 Timothy 1:9-11, Jude 1:6-7, etc), and since so much good information on the subject can readily be found, I won't reinvent the wheel by reproducing what has already been done. It is, in my opinion, beyond a reasonable doubt that the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality as sinful. Any attempt to prove this plain fact otherwise must engage in Scripture twisting of the worst kind, and therefore, it is far more honest to disagree with the Bible than to try and make the Bible disagree with itself (for an example, see here). Whatever may be said about the Bible and homosexuality, it is that the Bible reveals God's judgment concerning homosexuality, which is that homosexuality is unnatural and sinful. Such was the conviction of people in the past.
But what, then, is God's will for the homosexual? Is it that they perish in hell, because they are sinning? Such is often the impression churchmen give. I am persuaded that this question has not been answered satisfactorily by many Christians who are ignorant of what Christ actually has to say to the homosexual person. I want to apologize to anyone who has had a bad experience with Christians regarding this issue of homosexuality. The gospel means "good news", and that includes good news for homosexuals. God's message from heaven is glad tidings for sinners; all sinners, everwhere. Absolutely no one should be excluded from the hope, peace and joy that the gospel offers to all! To exclude anyone because they are a certain kind of sinner is to distort the very nature of the gospel itself. What is worse: homosexuality or distorting the gospel of God?
I recall once having a conversation with a very angry homosexual. He was angry because he discovered that I was Christian, and though I had said nothing about the matter, he was certain that my belief was that all homosexuals should be hamstrung and hung upside by the feet until they recanted their homosexuality (reminds me of the "show me your horns" stereotype)! Finally he thrust his finger into my chest and in an accusatory tone he demanded an answer: "Do I have to stop being a homosexual in order to be saved? Tell me!" I got the impression that he fully expected what I would answer and was just waiting for me to say it so that he could counterattack with a vengeance. I said, "No." Suddenly his face went from a look of anger to utter astonishment. His jaw fell involuntarily, and the once belligerent man was suddenly silent. He had just heard what he had not expected; most likely he had just heard what he had never heard before. This homosexual had never before heard the gospel of grace. I then said, "But once you are saved, you will want to stop being a homosexual." He still could not say anything. Several seconds passed and what had just been said hung heavy in the air; then he changed the subject. He was completely disarmed.
Most homosexuals have never heard the true gospel before, and therefore they are fighting against a god and a gospel of their own incorrect imagination. They do not even know God, since it is the gospel alone which reveals who God is to us. God is revealed through the gospel to be our Father in heaven. The good news is, a homosexual does not need to stop being a homosexual in order to be forgiven and reconciled to the Father. For what does the Bible say? "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24) "By grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) "But we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15:11) This is just a small sampling of the Scriptures which tell us of the wonderful news of salvation. What so many do not realize is that the Bible is a book about grace, not about rules. The only thing a homosexual needs to do in order to be saved is the same thing that any and all sinners need to do in order to be saved: believe in Jesus Christ, trusting alone in what Christ accomplished on man's behalf. This is not to say that homosexuality is not sin, but that homosexuality, just like every other sin, has been atoned for by Christ 2000 years ago. The gospel is the joyous news that "God so loves the world that He gave us His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but has eternal life." (John 3:16) God the Father gave His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Christ died once for all on the cross to reconcile us to God the Father, by paying the penalty that our sins justly deserve. Now, no matter how sinful you are, no matter what kind of a sinner you are, you are invited to the feast of God's amazing goodness and grace! A homosexual sinner, like any other sinner, simply needs to believe the gospel to be saved. Isn't that wonderful news? Isn't God good? God loves sinners. God loves homosexuals.
When Christ was crucified, He revealed two crucial truths about God. First, Christ revealed that God is a righteous God. All sin, regardless of what kind, is not passed over. Every sin that is committed is judged. At the cross, the Father demonstrated that His justice will never be slackened, even in the act of forgiveness. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:6) All sin, including lying, pride and homosexuality, was laid upon Jesus Christ at the cross, so that we can be forgiven. The cross teaches us that sin is never forgiven cheaply or superficially: God can only forgive us because Christ suffered the penalty for our sins, otherwise forgiveness would not be possible. When God forgives us, it is not that He overlooks our sins as if they were no big deal, but it is that Christ died for sin, and in the very act of forgiving us He has dealt with our sins in the way that sin deserves. By way of simple analogy, “we did the crime, and Jesus paid the fine”. Sin is forgiven in such a way that it is not ignored or made out to be anything less than what it is. This is a powerful truth not to be forgotten! It tells us volumes about the Father.
The second truth which the cross of Christ reveals is this: that God is love. It was the Father's love that sent His only begotten Son to the cross to bear our sins so that we might be saved. It is not as if Christ had to die on the cross in order to change the Father's mind about us! Rather, the cross of Christ tells us exactly what the Father thinks about us: that He loves sinners and doesn't want them to perish for their sins. Christ came in obedience to the Father. Far from the cross being a statement of God's unwillingness, it is rather the definitive statement of God's willingness to forgive us the only way He can: justly. God must be true to Himself. He is righteous, and therefore sin must be justly dealt with. But God is also love. In the atoning death of Christ we see God's perfect love and perfect justice meet in the broken body and poured out blood of Jesus.
Here is love, vast as the ocean; lovingkindness as a flood,
When the Prince of Life, our ransom, shed for us His precious blood.
Who, His love, will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten throughout heavens eternal days.
On the mount of crucifixion fountains opened deep and wide,
Through the floodgates of God's mercy flowed a vast and gracious tide;
Grace and love like mighty rivers, poured incessant from above;
And heaven's peace and perfect justice, kissed a guilty world in love.
NEW AND ABUNDANT LIFE
Such is the awesome good news for homosexuals everywhere as it is in the Bible. Homosexuality is indeed sinful, but you do not need to stop being a homosexual in order to be saved; otherwise we would have to be consistent and say that you would have to stop being sinful entirely in order to be saved, which is impossible. We are not to arbitrarily draw lines and say that this sin or that sin must be stopped in order to qualify for God's grace. All sin is equally damnable in God’s sight, and therefore if we had to qualify for grace we would never obtain it, and moreover, grace would cease to be grace! Grace is receiving something that you do not work for nor deserve (Romans 4:4-5). It is the unmerited favor of God. If you have to be worthy of it, then it isn’t grace anymore.
So rather than be hypocrites and judge one another, we should rather build one another up in the grace of the Father. The Bible shows us that the grace of God not only saves our souls, but it also teaches us how to live in this life as people of grace. We are not saved by what we do, but what we do as Christians is inspired by the salvation we received through Christ. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a special people, zealous for good works." (Titus 2:11-14) Thus the only appropriate response to the amazing salvation which we received from the Father is to seek to live our lives in a manner that is pleasing to Him. It is not that He will take salvation back from us if we don't; it is a matter of loving the Father because He first loved us. God's love for us is unconditional and unrelenting. But such wondrous love inspires within us a love for Him: how can we not fall in love with our God, who gave Himself for us? (If we do not, we are simply insensitive and do not know love when we see it!) When we love someone, we desire to do what pleases them. Since sin is displeasing to God, and was condemned at the cross, it is only right to put it away. We should be motivated, not out of fear, but out of love, and love is a powerful motivator. Let us remember that the Father will never take His grace away from us. Even when we sin as Christians, "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)
Therefore homosexuals who have believed in Jesus Christ should, out of love for God, and in the light of the grace of God, turn away from homosexuality. There is a new life to be lived. They should join the rest of the Christian community in together seeking to put away sin and to learn holiness and sanctification of heart and body. "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor." (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4) This is the Father's will for His beloved children, and He will faithfully work in them both to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The Christian community is also there to help and love each another in the process. We are all sinners saved by grace, and many have gone through the same struggles. The Church is not a group of perfect people; just a group of forgiven people who know the Father and love Him and each other all because of grace. Because of grace, no one needs to hide anymore but may come into the light and experience real joy and peace in Jesus Christ!
It is vitally important that Christians begin to share the good news of salvation and new life with homosexuals, and stop judging them as if they were worse sinners than others. None of us stand before God by anything other than grace, and God only forgives any of us because of His Son. We need to learn to see people through the eyes of Christ, and realize that Christ is for the homosexual, not against them. He loves them and does not want them to perish, and salvation is extended to them the same way it is extended to us all: freely. Failure to see people this way sadly results in turning them away from the Father due to misrepresentation.
A word to homosexuals: Even though, to God, the pro-homosexual cause is sinful and should not be fought, there is hope and salvation for you in Jesus Christ. You do not need to find your identity in homosexuality; indeed you will not find it there. Discover your true identity as one who is created in God's image, who, though fallen by sin, is loved and redeemed by your Father in heaven. You do not need to throw your life away because you are a homosexual: you have a glorious hope and a future in Jesus Christ! God loves you so much! We can rejoice together in the truth that the Lord God Almighty loves us sinners and has done an amazing work of reconciliation through His Son at the cross. We can have peace knowing our sins are forgiven. We can have joy knowing that we have eternal life forever. And there is abundant life to be lived with God right now, lived in His amazing grace, as well as eternal life in the hereafter! All this is the free gift of the Father to you through Christ. This is definitely good news! Good news for all men, including homosexuals. You can receive this new life today. If you are still uncertain, ask questions and investigate the things I have written about. Read the words of Jesus and find out about this amazing salvation through God's grace. You will be surprised at what you find.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23)