When I initially wrote this post, Apple CEO Tim Cook had recently made headlines by publicly announcing that he was gay.
For a variety of reasons, I previously had not written much on the subject of homosexuality here at chasingalion.com. Primarily, I felt that issues pertaining to homosexuality are clear, black-and-white matters in Scripture where there is very little need for debate.
Yet, at the time of my writing, perhaps no subject is more central to moral issues here in the United States, and maybe even across the entire world. So I felt it was time to address a handful of the most important questions related to the subject of homosexuality.
Is it a sin to be gay?
I'll be very direct here. The Bible plainly states that the practice of homosexuality is a sin.
Here are just three New Testament Scriptures which speak to the issue:
8 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
(1 Tim. 1:8-11 NIV)
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 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.
(Rom. 1:18-27 NIV)
9 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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.
(1 Cor. 6:9-11 NIV)
Despite the Bible's explicit condemnation of homosexual behavior, in recent times, many who profess to be Christians have begun to waffle or even openly embrace homosexuality.
When we look at history, sadly, this trend really isn't surprising.
The popular views of Christendom often trail that of society by less than one generation. In societies where Christianity is more popular, the culture typically has more impact upon the masses who call themselves Christians than the other way around.
But as one who is actively trying to obey Jesus, my logic goes like this:
- Is the Bible the inspired Word of GOD? If it isn't, why should any person trust any part of it? But if our Scriptures are indeed divinely inspired—and I'm convinced that they are—then we have no room to disbelieve any part of them, regardless of society's popular opinion. (What is popular is almost always incorrect, by the way.)
- Jesus has all authority on heaven and earth. Jesus obeyed, referenced and taught from the Old Testament Scriptures, thereby implicitly demonstrating His approval of them—including the statements condemning homosexuality. Similarly, Jesus gave His apostles authority to spread the gospel to all nations and peoples, offering salvation freely to Jew and Gentile alike. As evidence of GOD's (and Jesus') approval of these men, they were given the ability to perform amazing miracles.
- Although the apostles were imperfect sinners as we are, they and certain other coworkers were inspired by the Spirit of GOD to write additional Scriptures, the collection of which we refer to as the New Testament. Recognizing GOD's obvious approval of these men, as Christians we ought to give equal attention and respect to these writings as we do to Jesus' own words. Both originate from the same Father and Spirit, as evidenced by their perfect harmony, regardless of which man penned the words.
- So, while we do not have a written record of Jesus Himself specifically condemning homosexuality as sinful, the men He commissioned as His ambassadors—men who obviously had His approval—certainly did, and this must be respected.
While we have no record of Jesus personally condemning homosexuality, the men He commissioned as His ambassadors—men who obviously had His approval—certainly did, and this must be respected. Click to Tweet
While the honest seeker must admit that the Bible plainly condemns homosexual behavior, we must also acknowledge that homosexual desires are a temptation that many people face.
And it is not a sin for anyone to be tempted (see Jam. 1:14-15).
Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, yet He did not sin (see Heb. 4:15).
Therefore, while it is a sin to engage in homosexuality, it is not a sin to be tempted by homosexual desires.
This is a truth that Christians need to be more vocal about in these conversations.
Instead of shunning and scaring off people who struggle with homosexual desires, we need to create a relationship and atmosphere (individually, and as the church) where people with this temptation can open up and confess their struggles without feeling belittled or demeaned. In this regard, homosexual temptations are no different than stealing, lying or murder.
Why does GOD hate homosexuality?
Someone says, "Wait a minute, Tim. You're saying GOD hates homosexuality? That's a pretty bold and harsh statement."
This response sheds light on the very heart of the matter.
As we've already noted, the Scriptures plainly call out homosexual behavior as sin. But popular culture doesn't like being told that their views and/or certain behaviors are sinful—that there's anything "wrong" with what they're doing. We've become increasingly intolerant of anyone questioning or rebuking our thinking or behavior.
But which really matters:
- the popular opinion of society, or ...
- the opinion of the Almighty Creator, Sustainer and Judge of us all?
When Christians call out homosexuality today as being sinful, it's often viewed as intolerance, hatred or "hate speech" as though it is aimed at the person rather than the behavior.
While this may be true of some who claim the name of Christian, for a true Christian, nothing could be further from the truth.
First of all, a genuine Christian's motive for calling out sin is love—to warn the person of the dangers in pursuing sin, the judgment we will each face after death, and the fragile and uncertain nature of life.
In doing this, the Christian isn't judging the person, they're merely repeating what GOD has already said.
You see, it is GOD who has told us He hates "a heart that devises wicked schemes" and "feet that are quick to rush into evil" (see Prov. 6:16-19).
GOD, not man, defines what is righteous and what is evil.
Practical wisdom can be clearly seen in virtually every command GOD has given us, and Scripture says GOD's commandments are "not burdensome" (see 1 John 5:3), but "for our good always" (see Deut. 6:24).
GOD gives us instructions for the purpose of blessing us, not robbing us of fun or happiness. Humans are simply unable to clearly foresee the future impacts of our decisions and, at times, too weak to choose right even when the choice is obvious.
Think about it: Never, ever, in the history of the world, has a person faithfully obeyed GOD's commands and looked back in regret.
Never in the history of the world has a person faithfully obeyed GOD's instructions and looked back in regret. Click to Tweet
In an attempt to help us understand why GOD hates homosexuality (and other sins), imagine this scenario:
- You are a software engineer designing a complex robotics system which includes artificial intelligence.
- You've spent the past five years working countless hours, pouring everything you have into this project.
- You've planned this system thoroughly, designing it to function in a particular way, to behave like a human rather than a robot, to be warm, friendly and helpful.
- And yet, once you activate the robot for production use, it insists on operating in unintended ways, continuously overruling your design and making a mess of things. It bumps into people, speaks rudely, crashes into tables and spills things—all on its own, completely defiant to your design.
If this happened, how would you feel as the creator of this robot?
Would you have every right to be upset that your creation operated differently than you designed it—angry that it was making an unintended mess of the environment in which it operates?
Absolutely you would.
And the same is true of GOD with us in the real world.
GOD designed humans and all of His creation to operate in a certain way—not as robotic organisms, but as perfectly harmoniously and always in that which is best for the individual, family, society, nation and planet. And when we as His creatures choose to behave in such a way that goes against GOD's intentions, just like the fictitious robot, we make an unintended mess of things.
If anybody will stop and read the Scriptures and observe how life works, they will see that GOD wants what's best for us, that only He knows what best is, and that homosexuality—and any other sin—has unintended consequences.
Homosexuality (like fornication and adultery) can result in physical harm to the body (see Rom. 1:26-27); it feeds sinful lusts which harm us mentally and leads to many other societal problems as with Sodom and Gomorrah (see Gen. 18-19); and it most definitely negatively impacts families. Who will procreate and bear children in a world where everyone is lusting after their own sex?
As I continue to study the Scriptures, I am increasingly impressed by GOD's practicality. He purposely gives us commands for very specific reasons.
Is homosexuality genetic? (Are people born gay?)
It has always and will always take faith to please GOD.
While many will continue to try and "prove" that homosexuality is something innate which certain people are born with, those who truly believe in the Bible can prove (by faith, as always) that people are not "born gay."
Let me show you:
- GOD is not the author of sin. He hates sin and cannot coexist with sin or those guilty of it (see Hab. 1:13).
- The soul who sins is the one who will die (if not forgiven by Jesus, that is; see Eze. 18).
- Likewise, GOD does not in any way tempt us to sin (see Jam. 1:13-15).
- Therefore, since GOD creates people in His image and likeness (see Gen. 1:26-27), never desires us to commit sin and does not tempt us, we can obviously definitively conclude that GOD would never create someone pre-programmed to be a sinner—homosexual, pathological liar, murderer or any other sinful behavior.
What we can obviously conclude by observation, however, is that people are born with certain characteristics and tendencies, including boys who tend to be more effiminent and girls who are more masculine.
I imagine we've all seen children—and even adults—who, based on a combination of appearance and mannerisms, led us to question their gender or even perhaps whether they were homosexuals.
So, while we can't blame GOD or attempt to remove all individual accountability by claiming that a person was "born gay," we cannot likewise dismiss all genetic, biological or personality-driven characteristics as contributors towards homosexual desires and temptations. I venture to say that most people readily accept that a person's biological make-up can be a contributor towards other behaviors or temptations, such as alcoholism, drug abuse and fornication.
Ultimately, we must each accept responsibility for our personal choices.
Innate tendencies or characteristics don't force a person to choose to sin.
A person's inner makeup doesn't force one with alcoholic tendencies to buy beer or an 18-year-old male to commit fornication and it doesn't force a person with homosexual desires to commit homosexuality.
Don't believe the lie that you or someone you know was created as a homosexual.
Does GOD accept homosexuals?
Without question, GOD loves every person (see 1 John 4:7-10).
But GOD also hates those who choose to live wickedly (see Psalm 5:5; 11:5; Hos. 9:15; Rom. 9:13).
The Bible plainly warns that GOD will not accept unforgiven homosexuals into eternal life (see the previously quoted 1 Cor. 6:9-11; also Rev. 21:8; 22:15).
GOD will never accept any sinner unless they are forgiven by Jesus' blood. Any person who says they love GOD and that claims to be a Christian but continues to embrace sin is a liar and will not receive eternal life (see 1 John 2:3-6).
At the same time, it is imperative to note that no sin is too great for GOD to forgive, and certainly not homosexuality.
No one alive is ever too far gone to come home in repentance.
GOD stands ever ready for their return.
He'll meet every repentant sinner as soon as He sees them coming afar off.
No sinful action nor any volume of sin is too great for GOD to forgive. Click to Tweet
What should be the Christian's attitude towards homosexuals?
The Christian's attitude towards anyone should be love.
Love does not equal acceptance of sin, however; it means genuinely wanting what is best for the other person.
Love does not equal acceptance (of sin). Rebuke of sin does not equal hatred. Click to Tweet
Homosexuals aren't our enemy, but Scripture says they—and all sinners—are GOD's enemy (see Rom. 5:10; Jam. 4:4), just as I once was before I obeyed the gospel.
Homosexuals need Jesus' forgiving blood just as the rest of humanity does.
On the flip side, Christians should view all sin with hatred and disdain, striving for its elimination in our lives, recognizing all the while that it is upon the grace of GOD and not our own good works that we depend.
I think Jude says it very well:
22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
(Jude 22-23 NIV)
There's a balance we must strike when dealing with sin and sinners.
- On the one extreme are the picketers, the violent and those who mistreat and hate people—often in the name of the cross. This evil behavior accomplishes nothing except turning people away from the cross of Jesus. Whatever you do, don't do that.
- On the other extreme, however, we see "Christians" who seem to give no care to Scripture's condemnation of the sin of homosexuality (and other sins). In the name of "love," which isn't truly love, these individuals accept and embrace homosexuals in their sin without requiring repentance.
As is often the case, the truth is in the middle. Always love and embrace the person; never condone or accept the sin. That's where Jesus lived, and that's where we find Him today.
Consider the example of Jesus dealing with the woman caught in adultery recorded in John 8:1-11.
Jesus had loving compassion on her, refusing to join the angry hypocritical mob calling for her to be stoned. Yet Jesus also gently rebuked her in love, saying, "Go now and leave your life of sin."
This ought to be our pattern for imitation.
What should be the Christian's attitude towards gay marriage?
Perhaps nothing is more infuriating to me around the LGBT "rights" conversation than the subject of "gay marriage." Much has been said and written about this issue, therefore I am not going to offer a lengthy dissertation here. I view this issue as a simple one, and my logic is as follows:
- GOD calls homosexuality sin and, as with all types of sin, GOD hates homosexuality and those who insist on practicing it.
- While GOD views homosexuality with extreme disdain, He views (heterosexual) marriage as inherently holy and "good," for He gave it to Adam and Eve as a blessing in the beginning (see Gen. 2:18-25).
- Since marriage is a holy union with divine origin, its definition is of divine origin as well—one man, one woman. While societies and governments may attempt to redefine the word "marriage" to include homosexual unions or extended male/female co-habitations without the intent to be married, the GOD-given concept of biblical marriage is unalterable. This would be like us trying to redefine the word "duck" to now be called "elephant." We can call ducks "elephants" for the rest of our days, but our redefinition does absolutely nothing to alter the nature and makeup of the creature that is a duck. The same is true of the GOD-given concept of marriage.
- Therefore, any civilly-recognized gay marriage would never equate to "what God has joined together" (see Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9)—for GOD would never bless in union that which He inherently abhors. In other words, whereas a government may recognize Adam and Steve as "married," GOD does not—and therefore neither should Christians, other than for purposes of our conversations with people of the world.
- As a result, in my assessment, there is no need for the church to develop (or support the development of) any spiritual concept recognizing "gay divorce" (other than what the government requires since it acknowledges 'gay marriage,' that is) because in the eyes of GOD, there was never a marriage. However, the church absolutely needs to be prepared to stand firm in requiring and assisting with the repentance of those formerly involved in a civilly-recognized "gay marriage."
- Lastly, and most importantly, there is absolutely no reason why any Christian should support the civil progression and adoption of "gay marriage." Why should a body part of the body of Jesus embrace that which the brain (i.e., the head, Jesus) is repulsed by? It makes no sense. That would be like our brain telling us to avoid a hot fire, but our foot decides all on its own to walk us into the blaze. Physical bodies don't function that way and neither does Jesus' spiritual body.
Paul instructed the Christians in Rome to be careful how they lived, saying:
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
(Rom. 12:1-2 NIV)
As Christians, our life should look different than the world. We don't bend to the social norms around us which change with time. Instead, we live a holy life guided by the principles of Scripture.
What should a homosexual do to be pleasing to GOD?
Someone asks, "What does a homosexual need to do to be pleasing to GOD?"
Well, what must any sinner do to please GOD?
Stop committing the sin of homosexuality.
Pray for help.
Come to Jesus so He can take that sin and wash you clean.
If you are tempted by homosexual urges, find a Christian friend who you can trust and share with them your struggle. Ask them to pray with you.
Ask them to hold you accountable and periodically ask you how you're doing.
GOD's will is for us to overcome our temptations, and He knows we can't do it alone, that we need help.