Gay? No Way
Over the past 10 years, churches worldwide have begun to accept and approve homosexual. This move from the traditional Christian stance on the issue has been highly controversial. Here in Australia, the Uniting Church has been shaken by an increasingly bitter dispute about whether homosexuality is a valid form of sexual expression.
While this debate has been gathering pace, the Metropolitan Community Church, an openly “gay” denomination, has established congregations in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Homosexuals increasingly demand that churches accept their lifestyle and sexual practices completely. Many Christians are now confused concerning homosexuality and homosexuals. There are two questions that need biblical answers if Christians are to escape this confusion. The first question concerns the moral nature of homosexual behaviour. Is such behaviour right or wrong? Does Scripture see homosexuality as simply another form of human sexuality that is a valid alternative to heterosexuality? Sex is God’s good gift to humanity. He is the one who created the human body. He is the one who made that body capable of giving and receiving sexual pleasure. As the giver of the gift, God is entitled to stipulate how it should be used. And He does precisely that in Scripture.
Through His holy Word, God declares that there are right and wrong ways to enjoy sex (Genesis 2:24; Mark 10:6-8). The Christian sexual ethic can be summed up in two words: heterosexual (involving the opposite sex) and monogamous (involving a single partner).
According to Scripture, sex is morally good when (and only when) it is practised between one man and one woman in a loving marriage relationship. Negatively, this means that sexual activity is morally bad outside marriage. Indeed, God’s Word condemns all extra-marital sexual activity as sin. This condemnation plainly includes homosexual activity.
Sexual intimacy between members of the same sex is expressly outlawed by God in Leviticus: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (18:22). Again, “if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” (20:13).
Four truths about homosexual behaviour are evident from these two passages. First, it is forbidden: it must not be practised (“you shall not”). Second, it is offensive: it disgusts God (“it is an abomination”). Third, it is serious: it demands judgment (“they shall be put to death”). Fourth, it is wilful: it arises from choices for which the chooser is accountable (“their blood is upon them”).
Guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul condemns same-gender sex in his letter to the Romans. Speaking of people who had perverted the truth and dishonoured the Creator, he states: “Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons, the due penalty for their error” (1:26-27).
This passage reveals a further four truths about homosexual activity. First, it is universal: it can be practised by women as well as men (“women ... and the men likewise”). Second, it is unnatural: it goes against the created order (“women exchanged natural relations for unnatural”). Third, it is lustful: it arises from perverted and unrestrained desire (“consumed with passion for one another”). Fourth, it is harmful: it embodies its own punishment (“receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error”).
Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals ... will inherit the kingdom of God.” No person who practises homosexual sex will enter God’s presence in eternity. This is the teaching of Scripture. And this is the teaching of compassion: for those who heed it will turn back from destruction. Repentance is the door to God’s kingdom. This is the homosexual’s hope. For what God condemns He also forgives, provided the offender turns by faith from sin to the Saviour.
Having warned that (like sinners) no homosexual will inherit the kingdom of God, Paul goes on to say, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Some of the people to whom Paul writes once were homosexuals, but no longer. Having repented, having turned from their sins, they had been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and claimed by the Spirit of God.
The second question that we must answer from Scripture concerns the origin of homosexual behaviour. Is homosexuality a compulsion that people are born with or is it really a matter of choice? Many people today believe that homosexual behaviour originates from a homosexual orientation over which an “affected” person has no control. Is this a sound belief?
The biblical prohibition on homosexual behaviour is instructive. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman” (Leviticus 18:22a). This command is based upon the supposition that the forbidden behaviour is also a chosen behaviour, otherwise it would not make sense to forbid it.
The biblical condemnation on homosexual behaviour – “it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22b) – is likewise instructive, for Scripture does not classify as evil behaviours that are outside a man’s control, nor does it condemn a man for behaving in ways that he cannot help. By defining homosexual behaviour as sinful, Scripture also defines it as wilful.
According to Scripture, homosexuality activity originates in the mind and will of man. It is a chosen behaviour. What, then, are we to make of the claims that some people are born with (or somehow inadvertently acquire) homosexual “orientation”? Such claims need to be considered with caution.
Scripture makes no mention of a homosexual orientation (and medical science offers no evidence for it). The Bible speaks only of homosexual acts, which it condemns, and of homosexual persons, whom it likewise condemns. Also, we must recognise that homosexuals (that is, people who engage in homosexual sex) often have a vested interest in fostering the view that they are affected by a sexual orientation over which they have no control. Encouraging this view is a way of gaining sympathy, of avoiding responsibility, and of escaping condemnation.
The duplicity of homosexuals concerning the cause of their behaviour is evident to those who have followed the developments of the gay liberation movement in the 1970s and the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. During the 1970s, homosexual activists ridiculed the notion that they couldn’t help themselves, and worked tirelessly to destroy the arguments that their sexual behaviour arose from some form of medical or emotional disorder. These activists insisted that “being gay is a choice”.
However, with the advent of AIDS in the 1980s, many homosexuals began to downplay or deny the role of choice with regard to their sexual activities. Why? Because they were and are trying to escape the blame for the consequences of their behaviour – namely the spread of AIDS.
In this fallen world, it is possible that a small percentage of people are affected by unsought and (originally, at least) unwanted desires of a homosexual nature. But even if this is true, it does not alter the reality or the validity of the Scriptural condemnation of homosexual behaviour as sinful and therefore wilful. A person with homosexual inclinations is both able and required to resist putting those inclinations into practice. He can and must abstain from sexual activity in exactly the same way as a man with heterosexual desires can and must abstain from adultery.
But the matter needs to be kept in perspective. It would be a mistake to assume that all or even most homosexuals are afflicted with a homosexual orientation.
Some people – and this is especially true of women – choose to experiment in homosexual sex for ideological reasons. Some women writers have stated that they changed their sexual behaviour from heterosexual to homosexual (lesbian) because of the influence of feminism. It is a contradiction, they claimed, for a woman to relate primarily to other women and yet stop short of sexual contact. In short, choice of ideology can affect choice of sexual behaviour.
Interestingly enough, Paul describes homosexual behaviour as “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10). It arises from wrong thinking. (What a warning this is for those who think that doctrine is impractical and unimportant!) In Romans 1:25, Paul again traces homosexual practice to false belief: “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie”. And that lie has to do with lust (24a) and idolatry (25b). Before people do wrong things they usually believe wrong things. And wrong beliefs about sex are particularly attractive because they promise and (in the short term at least) deliver powerful physical gratification.
What is the cause of homosexual behaviour? Like every other sin, it originates from wrong thoughts and desires. It is – at least until deliberate practice results in habituation – a behaviour well within a person’s control. People engage in it by choice. It is in fact as willful as it is sinful.