Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Tag: Homosexuality

Same-Sex “Marriage”: Helpful Links/Articles

I’d like to share some of the most helpful/meaningful articles I have read over the past week or so.  Many of these were written in direct response to the Supreme Court’s historic decision regarding same-sex “marriage.”

I have updated my post called The Gospel and Gay “Marriage.” It isn’t that much different than before but I’ve done a little bit of editing to (hopefully) improve it.  This has been one of the most frequently read post on my blog for several weeks.

Russell Moore explained Why the Church Should neither Cave nor Panic about the Decision on Gay Marriage.   I really like the way Moore addresses issues with grace and truth–he makes me proud to be a Southern Baptist.  One of the most striking things he said is that the church should be ready to minister to “refugees from the sexual revolution”–those whose lives have been damaged by sexual sin.  Moore actually has posted several articles and videos this week that are worth checking out.

Kevin DeYoung wrote an excellent post called Five Questions for Christians Who Believe the Bible Supports Gay MarriageHe later added 40 Questions for Christians now Waving Rainbow Flags. These are great questions for professing Christians who claim the Bible has nothing negative to say about homosexuality.

Carey Nieuwhof has written this post: Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders from a Canadian.   He is ministers in Canada, where same-sex “marriage” has been legal for a decade. Note: this pastor’s last point is about judging.  I don’t think he is saying we should avoid preaching against sin.  I think he is talking about the unfortunate way some Christians behave on social media, etc.

Denny Burk has written a post on Protecting Your Church Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Lawsuits. This post includes a free booklet with some sample bylaws, etc.

I also ran across a couple of articles written my men who spent a decade in the gay lifestyle and left it after coming to Christ.

The first one is entitled  I was the Other Man: an Insider’s Look at Why Gay Marriage Will Not Work.* Blogger and author Joseph Sciambra described the secret frustration and despair he encountered among “monogamous” homosexual couples.

“I believe God has something better for every gay man and woman that far outweighs the expected hopes and promises of gay marriage or even a gay life,” said Mattie Walk in Gay Marriage, Krispy Kreme Donuts and Freddie Mercury. Amen to that!

This will likely be the last post I write about this issue for a while.  As I’ve mentioned before, most of the broken hearts/lives I encounter are caused by other forms of sexual immorality (premarital sex, adultery, etc.).

*You may argue that this man’s testimony does not accurately represent the gay culture or same-sex couples.   It may not in all cases, but I think his experiences are a lot more common that than what the media would have you believe.

The Gospel and Gay “Marriage”

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.
–Leviticus 18:22

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.
–Romans 1:26-27

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. 
–Proverbs 18:22

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 Gospelthe 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 
-Acts 3:19

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. 
–Isaiah 5:20

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 
–Romans 3:23-25

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.

Final Thoughts:

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.

Recommended Reading:

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).