I have to be honest, whenever I see Fred Phelps and the group from Westboro Baptist Church, my stomach churns, my blood-pressure rises, and I get a sudden urge to go WWE Smackdown on those devil-inspired signs that they hold up in the name of their god. If you don’t know who the Westboro Baptist Church people are, they are the group that travel around the United States protesting soldier’s funerals and other events while holding up signs that, in essence, say that God is happy when U.S. soldiers die and that God hates gay people. Whenever I see the media put these people on the news or interview them, I can’t help but pray that people would realize that this small cult that spread a gospel of hate does not represent the church of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the media tries to portray anyone who doesn’t advocate for the homosexual agenda as basically in the same camp with the Westboro group.
As Christians we have a very important path to walk. We must show grace, mercy, and love to those under the bonds of sin, yet at the same time confronting sin with the truth of God’s Word. Some of you commented on the difficulty of this in my last post. It is difficult, because based on our personality, or even our lack of understanding of Scripture we can tend to be off-balanced in how we treat people. We can either make grace cheap or make it something that has to be earned through self-righteousness. Ultimately, we need to treat people the way Jesus treated people. Jesus treated the most vile sinners of his day with respect and compassion, yet never wavered on his declaration of truth and repentance (see Luke 7:36-50; 19:1-10; John 8:2-11).
Let us be clear, the Bible teaches that homosexual activity is a sin. There are some today that try do interpretive acrobatics in order to explain away most of these passages, but they also have to explain the thousands of years and thousands of church leaders throughout history that have held to the accepted interpretation of these passages, which was that homosexual activity is condemned by God as a sin. These passages are:
Genesis 19:1-29; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:21-31; I Corinthians 6:9-10
These passages clearly teach that homosexual activity is condemned by God as sin. I’m certainly not advocating that we go back to observing the Law and punishing this sin with death. There were a lot of sins which had the death penalty attached to it, not just this particular one. Even though these passages clearly teach that homosexual activity is sin, I believe that there are better passages that show why it violates Scripture. In fact there are 2 principles that we need to understand when we look at this subject.
1. God made male and female to individually and intimately glorify Him. Many times we spend all our time on the verses that speak against something, and leave out the Scriptures that speak toward the biblical model. Genesis 1-2 is the best passage to deals with God original intent for men and women. Both are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). We see in this passage that God creates them uniquely to fulfill God-ordained roles and responsibilities, some of which are individual in nature (leader, teacher, helper), while others are intimate and relational in nature (Be fruitful and multiply; sexual behavior between one man and one woman under the covenant of marriage). When someone denies the sexual gender, identity, and standards that God has set in place, they are rejecting God’s desire and plan for them to glorify Him in how He has made them.
I know that the instant objection may be that “God made them attracted to the same-sex”. Even though that is a popular held belief there is basically no scientific proof for that statement. It’s often here that we have to point out the inconsistency of their arguments. On one hand, they reject the biblical narrative of God creating man and woman and seeing this as a pattern and creative mandate for mankind, and on the other hand they claim that God made them predisposed to be attracted to a certain sex. Either God created and set the standard or there is no creator and we are simply by-products of our DNA. You can’t reject Genesis 1-2 and then claim that God made you a certain way later. The simple truth is that we glorify our Creator when we fulfill the roles that He has given us. I don’t have to time to go into how this is being torn to shreds in our post-modern culture, but you have seen the agenda by secular influences to blur the lines of gender roles and identity. A great resource on that topic would be a book I’ve read called, “A Queer Thing Happened to America” by Michael Brown.
2. Our primary identity needs to be in Christ. As a Christian, we die to ourselves and live in Christ. As Paul mention, “I am crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” That passage deals with the biggest problem of the homosexual agenda. They claim that one’s primary identity should be in their sexual preference and behavior. This violates the very nature and message of the Christian faith (see Romans 6). When we put any label before Christian, we say that there is something else that really gives us our primary identity. In Galatians 3:27-28 states, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Paul is teaching here that the things that most people use to define themselves (our gender, our social status, or our ethnicity) is secondary to our identity in Christ. Paul is not rejecting or throwing away our gender or ethnicity, he is simply stating that those are secondary to our identity in Jesus. The homosexual agenda seeks to place one’s primary identity as their sexual preference, and everything else becomes secondary. That is idolatry. When we place something good, like sex, above the Creator, we end up perverting it. The homosexual community has also set itself up as a replica of Christ’s church. They want to make disciples in their beliefs and behavior. They also have a strong sense of community and support for one another (see the commercial “It get’s better”). I’m not saying that this is just a problem for those who practice homosexuality. The person who loves their NFL team more than Jesus and His church are in violation of the same principle. It’s all idolatry and it all robs Jesus of His image in and through you.
There’s a lot more I could say, but I’ve tried to be brief and concise. Simply put, our primary identity needs to be in Jesus and our gender and sexual identity is defined by Scripture and given to us by God.
Let me close with this one thought. Those who practice homosexual behavior are not loved less by God than heterosexuals. Every man and woman on this earth bears the image of God. Unfortunately, all of us have rebelled. All of us seek our own way as the Psalmist says in Psalm 53. If we are human, we are guilty of perverting something good that God has given to us. All of us are sinners in need of God’s mercy and grace. In this post, I’m not promoting that homosexuality is the worst sin or beyond God’s grace and forgiveness. I’m guilty of far worse sins than homosexuality. I simply wanted to defend the historical, biblical position on the issue of homosexuality. We can never truly obtain salvation from God through Jesus until we repent of our sins. That means laying our hearts bear, yielding our wills and desires to God’s and seeing sin the way God sees sin.
Next time we’ll look specifically at the importance of this marriage issue and why the church has a lot of work to do before we can speak effectively on this.