Gay “marriage” seems to be a hot topic right now since some parts of the world are changing their laws to make it legal (including here in the USA).
My regular readers know where I stand on this, but I want to reiterate what the Bible teaches for those who may be searching for the truth. What I’m about to say may not be popular, but that doesn’t really concern me.
What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? Let’s first consider three points:
The Biblical Foundation:
We need look no further than the second chapter of Genesis to see God’s original plan for love, sex and marriage:
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. –Genesis 2:24
There you have it: God’s designed sex to be experienced by one man and one woman in a covenant of marriage. He did not make a mistake in His original plan.
The Biblical Condemnation:
The Old Testament law lists homosexual behavior among practices unacceptable to God:
Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
The Book of Romans (New Testament) describes homosexual behavior as “unnatural”:
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual 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 shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
There are other Scriptures, but I’ll get to that later.
The Absence of Biblical Celebration:
The Bible repeatedly celebrates the relationship between husband and wife. Proverbs puts it this way:
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.
The Song of Solomon (also called Song of Songs) celebrates the sexual love and desire between a young bride and her husband:
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—
for your love is more delightful than wine.
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes;
your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you!
Take me away with you—let us hurry!
Let the king bring me into his chambers.
-Song of Solomon 1:2-4
But you won’t find a single verse in the Bible celebrating homosexual acts/relationships—not one! No gay “weddings,” no “Born this Way” lyrics, no indication that God blesses or condones any kind of same-sex union.
You can try to twist the Scriptures any way you like, but the Biblical message is clear: God’s plan for love and sex has not changed.
I’ve explained the biblical foundation, the biblical condemnation, and the lack of biblical celebration in regards to homosexuality. Now let me share one more thing:
The Biblical Solution—The Gospel:
Is there any hope for those who struggle with same-sex attraction? Yes! It’s the same hope that is available to murderers, adulterers, drug addicts, alcoholics, liars, churchgoers, preachers, campus ministers, and bloggers. We all desperately need the Gospel—the good news of a Savior who offers forgiveness to those who repent and believe.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord
This gospel has been changing lives since the ancient church. We see it in Paul’s admonitions to the believers in Corinth:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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.
-1st Corinthians 6:9-11
Pay careful attention to the last two sentences (vs. 11). Those trapped in all kinds of sins (including homosexual sins) where changed by the power of the gospel!
Here’s what grieves me about churches that condone gay “weddings”: they have ignored the biblical definition of sin. This kind of teaching leaves us with people professing to be Christian, yet rejecting the clear teachings of Scripture.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Earlier I mentioned the word “repent.” This word indicates a change of mind and a change of direction in one’s life. Repentance is agreement with God on the nature of sin and my need for the life-changing gospel. I don’t need salvation if I can conveniently ignore or redefine sin. I don’t need to repent from sexual immorality if there is no such thing!
Let me summarize the Gospel and how it relates to sexual purity:
1. All of us have sinned and fallen short. God’s holy nature required payment (sacrifice) to atone for our sins. God does not ignore sin or change his mind about it. Instead, He has dealt with it in a way that his consistent with His character. Salvation is offered freely to those who repent and believe in the gospel:
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood
2. Followers of Jesus Christ are called to be holy. This means avoiding all forms of sexual immorality:
God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor—not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a Christian brother in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
-1st Thessalonians 4:3-8
Responding to Objections:
I’ve decided to expand this post a little in order to respond to some of the most common objections to the traditional interpretation of the Scriptures.
Some object to the quotation of Old Testament law, arguing that we (Christians) no longer practice the entire law. Leviticus also has commandments against wearing clothing made from two different types of thread (Leviticus 19:19), for example. I can’t fully address the Old and New Covenants in one post, so I’ll explain it this way: the sexual ethic, built on the foundation of Genesis 2:24, is consistent throughout the Scriptures. We no longer practice some of the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, but we do continue to follow the its moral laws.
Why didn’t Jesus ever directly address homosexuality? Because his ministry was primarily to a Jewish audience that would have already understood the teachings of the Old Testament. But Jesus did define marriage as a lifelong covenant between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-9), referring back to Genesis 2:24. Jesus also listed “sexual immorality” among the “evil things” that defile a person (Mark 7:21-23). The Greek word we translate into “sexual immorality” comes from the root word porneia (from which we get the term pornography). This term referred to any form of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman. Jesus never directly addressed incest, zoophilia, or child sacrifice (all of which are also mentioned in Leviticus 18), yet it would be foolish to assume he approved of these practices.
Paul address the issue of homosexuality in more explicit terms because he ministered to Gentiles (non-Jews; pagans). But some have challenged the translation of 1st Corinthians 6:9 and 1st Timothy 1:10. The word translated “men who have sex with men“ (NIV), or “men who practice homosexuality” (ESV) is the Greek word arsenokoitai. It is an unusual word, but it isn’t really that difficult to explain. Paul simply combines two words from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint): aresno (man), and koitai (to lie with–from which we get the English term coitus). Both words appear in Leviticus 18:22. Paul was reiterating the Old Testament prohibition of homosexual sin.
You may wonder why there are relatively few references to homosexuality in the Scriptures. I think the answer is pretty simple–it’s the same reason that most of my articles regarding sexual purity are geared towards heterosexuals: sexual immorality between men and women is a lot more common than same-sex acts.
I’m not arguing that God has some special disdain for homosexuals–He doesn’t (and I don’t either). Homosexual acts are just one way we (human beings) have rebelled against God’s original design for sexual intimacy.
I’m sure some of you reading this post are still convinced I’m wrong. If nothing else I hope I have helped you understand why Christians believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
Check out Kevin DeYoung’s, What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? if you want a good resource on this topic. For those who want a lengthy, in-depth, scholarly book I’d recommend The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (by Robert Gagnon).