One of the most volatile and important issues facing the Church today is the question of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle. Christians who reject the legitimacy of the homosexual lifestyle are routinely denounced a homophobic, intolerant, even hateful. There is thus tremendous intimidation concerning this issue. Some churches have even endorsed the homosexual lifestyle and welcome those who practice it to be their ministers.
And don’t think this is happening just in liberal churches. One homosexual group called Evangelicals Concerned is a group of people who are to all appearances born-again, Bible-believing Christians, but also practicing homosexuals. They claim that the Bible doesn’t forbid homosexual activity or that its commands aren’t valid for today, but were just a reflection of the culture in which it was written. These people can be orthodox about Jesus and every other area of teaching; but they just think it’s all right to be a practicing homosexual.
So who are we to say that these apparently earnest Christians are wrong? But this question raises an even deeper question, which we’ve got to answer first: do right and wrong really exist? Before you can determine what is right and wrong, you have to know that there really is right and wrong.
God is by His very nature is perfect, holy and good. He is just, loving, patient, merciful, generous—all that is good comes from Him and is a reflection of His character. Now God’s perfectly good nature issues forth in commandments to us, which become our moral duties, for example, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength,” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” “You shall not murder, steal, or commit adultery.” These things are right or wrong based on God’s commandments, and God’s commandments are not arbitrary but flow necessarily out of His perfect nature.
Morality isn’t just in your mind. It’s real. When we fail to keep God’s commandments, we really are morally guilty before Him and need His forgiveness. The problem isn’t just that we feel guilty; we really are guilty, regardless of how we feel. I might not feel guilty because I have an insensitive conscience, one that’s dulled by sin; but if I’ve broken God’s law, I am guilty, regardless of how I feel.
The question of the legitimacy of the homosexual lifestyle is a question of what God has to say about it. If there is no God, then there is no right and wrong, and it doesn’t make any difference what lifestyle you choose—the persecutor of homosexuals is morally equivalent to the advocate of homosexuality. But if God does exist, we can no longer go just on the basis of our own opinions. We have to find out what God thinks on the issue.
The Bible tells us that God forbids homosexual acts. Being homosexual is a state or an orientation; a person who has a homosexual orientation might not ever express that orientation in actions. By contrast, a person could engage in homosexual acts even if he has a heterosexual orientation. What the Bible condemns is homosexual actions or behavior, not having a homosexual orientation.
This has enormous implications. For one thing, it means that the whole debate about whether homosexuality is something you were born with or is a result of how you were raised really doesn’t matter in the end. The important thing is not how you got your orientation, but what you do with it.
In Leviticus 18.22 it says that it is an abomination for a man to lie with another man as with a woman. In Lev. 20.13 the death penalty is prescribed in Israel for such an act, along with adultery, incest, and bestiality. Sometimes homosexual advocates make light of these prohibitions by comparing them to prohibitions in the Old Testament against having contact with unclean animals like pigs. Just as Christians today don’t obey all of the Old Testament ceremonial laws, so, they say, we don’t have to obey the prohibitions of homosexual actions.
But the problem with this argument is that the New Testament reaffirms the validity of the Old Testament prohibitions of homosexual behavior, as we’ll see below. This shows they were not just part of the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, which were done away with, but were part of God’s everlasting moral law. Homosexual behavior is in God’s sight a serious sin. The third place where homosexual acts are mentioned in the Old Testament is the horrifying story in Genesis 19 of the attempted gang rape of Lot’s visitors by the men of Sodom, from which our word sodomy derives. God destroyed the city of Sodom because of their wickedness.
In I Cor. 6.9-10 Paul writes, “Know ye not that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (homosexuals), nor abusers of themselves with mankind. . .” Also in I Tim. 1.10 we read: “For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers (sodomites), for liars. . .that is contrary to sound doctrine.”
The most lengthy treatment of homosexual activity comes in Romans 1.24-28. Here Paul talks about how people have turned away from the Creator and begun to worship false gods of their own making. Their women have exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and the men likewise have given up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another – men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Liberal scholars have done acrobatics to try to explain away the clear sense of these verses. Some have said that Paul is only condemning the pagan practice of men’s sexually exploiting young boys. But such an interpretation is obviously wrong since Paul says in verses 24 and 27 that these homosexual acts by men were committed “with one another” and in verse 26 he speaks of lesbian homosexual acts as well.
Some homosexual advocates say, “Jesus never condemned homosexual behavior, so why should we?” Jesus did not specifically mention lots of things which we know to be wrong, like bestiality or torture, but that doesn’t mean he approved of them. In Mark 10.6-8, Christ says, “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh. Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh.” For two men to become one flesh in homosexual intercourse would be a violation of God’s created order and intent. He created man and woman to be indissolubly united in marriage, not two men or two women.
Some homosexual advocates say that Suppose he says that the prohibitions against homosexual behavior were valid for that time and that culture but are no longer valid today. There’s no evidence that homosexual acts were culturally relative. Homosexual activity was as widespread in ancient Greek and Roman society as it is today in the U.S., and yet Paul stood up against the culture and opposed it.
So the Bible is very forthright and clear when it comes to homosexual behavior. It is contrary to God’s design and is sin.
You can read A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality by William Lane Craig in full at this link.