Over the last decade the topic of 'homosexuality' has become a very sensitive issue for Christianity in general.
In part, that is a good thing, as the Church has often been guilty of failing to love its neighbour; instead, it has often harshly targeted a segment of the community for its sexual practices whilst turning a blind eye on other sexual practices - including its own.
However, there is also a disturbing trend that is gaining momentum in the Church and it's also to do with a failure to love that same segment of the community. This failure has been in its refusal to speak the truth in love when it comes to the need for repentance of sexual sin. Entry into the Kingdom is always on God's terms - not ours.
The following extensive article by Terry Allen deals with how the church is currently addressing 'homosexuality' and how it should deal with 'homosexuality'. I commend it to you [Ed.]
When it comes to dealing with homosexuality in the church, there are (it seems to me) three typical responses. These responses flow from basic personality types, or at least, stances taken in relation to homosexuality which are then expressed in the public forum.
Perhaps there are other categories I have not taken into account, but my experience has been that whenever the matter is written about or discussed, the speaker/author will fall into one of the following categories:
Pragmatists are outcomes-based people. They have little time for rules and regulations, especially if they are bound up in church tradition, and seek the manifestation of the desired outcome when all the issues are discussed and the decisions have been taken. In other words, the pragmatist’s starting point is that there is a specific set of circumstances needed at the end of the journey. That’s where we are headed and, to get there, we must hack our way through the jungle for a time. It’s annoying and hard work, but eventually we will get there.
It’s not so much a matter of ‘discovering’ along the way, but heading to a predetermined outcome. If a pragmatist comes across a set of rules which endanger people or prove impossible to obey, they sidestep them. To the pragmatist, life is like driving down a street full of signs which say, “Don’t go forwards, don’t go backwards and don’t stop.” They see many regulations as stupid and conclude that they were probably put there for a good reason in the beginning, but they don’t work in today’s world, so they need to be changed.
Unlike the pragmatist, the pastoral care person operates within narrow guidelines. Usually, pastoral carers work within systems and are trained to do so. They work in hospitals, in the military, in schools and in churches. They are motivated by the pain and suffering of the people they meet with. Clearly, they too are pragmatists to a certain degree, but not entirely. They do their job inside certain boundaries: government regulations, hospital policy, military procedure or the commandments of God.
If a pastoral carer works in a rehab clinic, he/she wants his client to live a happy, normal life free of substance abuse. But when the client demands another drink to keep calm, the pastoral carer will not say, “Oh well, I suppose one won’t hurt. If that’s what you want.” He/she will look at the hospital policy and offer choices within it. There is still a desired outcome, but not at the expense of the policy.
These people work to an operating principle. That is to say, what they stand for, in principle, is what they do. It’s too harsh to say these are the cold people among us, but they can be if they’re not careful. People of principle are often policy makers and take a lead role in work safety committees and the like. They demand to know the rules and to see them enforced. Life is predictable, dependable & routine.
When a person of principle is tempted to step outside of the guidelines, their conscience usually pricks them and they react accordingly. Where they do fall from grace, they remain shattered. Others seem to pick themselves up & keep going, but not these guys.
Therefore, when a group of people begin protesting that the rules need changing and illegal activities be made legal, the man/woman driven by an operating principle digs their heels in and refuses to budge. They don’t want to do what is popular, but what is right and they are not easily compromised.
What rankles people who are pragmatists and pastoral carers about these people is they don’t seem to care how their decisions affect people. Tears and tantrums don’t alter their views and that can seem frustrating and callous. But if principled people are drug squad detectives or judges, they make fair, balanced and dispassionate decisions and are not easily corrupted.
What combination are you?
Here’s the next thing I have learnt: we are all a combination of these types. No one fits neatly into just one category and learning who you are is a helpful exercise. Having said that, I also find that most people are mostly one of these categories. In other words, we all pick one of these categories first (or find ourselves in one) and fit the others in behind it.
Confession time – It would easy to describe myself as the best of all these categories, but that would be a lie. The truth is, I am mostly a man of principle. If anything, I am principled and then pragmatic, with pastoral care coming a close third.
My father is the same and so was his father before him. The way I was brought up, you obeyed the rules, you did what was right and what was expected and if people didn’t like it, well, that was their problem.
As a teenager and young man, I struggled with this. I wanted people to like me so many of my behaviours (much to Dad’s chagrin) was attention seeking and self-motivated. It was not until after about the age of 25 (when male brains are fully developed!) that I began to turn into my father.
That doesn’t mean I now agree with him on everything (there are some significant differences) but it does mean I operate the same when I am examining a thorny issues such as homosexuality and the Christian. It’s good to train yourself to see the other persons point of view, but you will always be who you are deep down and you approach tough matters that way. A bit of self-examination at this point is prudent.
Two books on homosexuality and the Christian
These three categories were all in play as I read two books on the subject of the Christian and the homosexual. In fact, I would say one book belongs in the first category, the other in the second and my reaction in the third. Both books are helpful, there’s no doubt about that, but I still find myself searching for a few missing pieces of the puzzle. I’ve never been motivated to write a book, so this will have to do. Allow me to review them both and then offer a few thoughts of my own.
1. The Children are Free – Re-examining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships
Rev. Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, 2008, Found Pearl Press, Indianapolis, Indiana.
2. Love into Light – The Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church
Peter Hubbard, 2013, Ambassador International, Greenville , SC.
Before I review the books, however, an important story:
My friend, D
Years ago, I was in a church youth group which was fairly big for the town we lived in and a lot of fun. I have only good memories of it and I am still in contact with several people who were in it, even after some 35 years have passed. Those people have a special place in your life.
One of the key people in the group was a boy who was two years older than me. His name started with the letter “D” so I will call him D. D came from a large family who were actively involved in the church. To this day, I see D’s parents regularly and, despite their advanced years, they are as involved in their local church as anyone I know.
D grew up, got married, got a job and had children. The marriage came under attack about five years ago and it ended soon after. That is a sad thing whenever it happens, but it is becoming more common in Christian circles I’m afraid. Then, the real shock.
One day about two years ago, D wrote a letter to his parents telling them that he was gay. He had known he was gay since he was seven years old, he told them, and he had been living a lie since. Now, however, he was sure God was OK with it and so he was coming out as a gay Christian. Furthermore, David said to his incredulous parents, he had fallen in love with a man and they planned to marry.
I can hardly describe his parents’ reaction. They were shattered. It was humiliating for them, their own marriage suffered as a result, it split their children in some senses and made normal life impossible.
Just to prove that I do have some pastoral care bones in my body, I went to see them soon after and heard their story. D’s father had basically disowned him and his mother (step-mother actually – I do not know his birth mother) could not stop crying.
They showed me the letter D had written and I read it several times. They also gave me a book which he had given them: The Children are Free. This had obviously been the work which convinced D he was right to be a Christian who is gay.
The authors of this book, Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, belong in the pragmatist category. From what I can pick up in the book, there is a large portion of pastoral care in them too. They have obviously sat with countless individuals whose lives have been torn apart as they wrestle with their sexuality and what they find in the Bible, or perhaps from other Christians.
Their desire to help those who a grieving is commendable, but I conclude they simply want Christians to accept gays as fully-fledged members of the body of Christ (without repentance for thier homosexuality) and have set about to achieve that through a defence of the “Christian-gay” lifestyle.
Miner and Connoley know that the church is not going to accept gays (except in the enclave of gay churches) unless the Bible can be seen to support homosexuality; hence the book. That is quite a large undertaking: to overturn centuries of orthodox teaching on homosexuality, but that is what they have attempted here. How did they fare? Not very well.
The biggest problem The Children are Free has is its frequently unsupported interpretations of key Bible passages. For example, who among us would have read the book of Ruth and come away with the understanding that Ruth and Naomi were lesbians? Personally, I can understand why the gay lobby groups interpret the David-Jonathon story with homosexual overtones. I think they are wrong, but I can understand the love language in Samuel’s writings could prompt that thought.
Sin distorts everything. Not just nudity & sex, but our ability to comprehend the word of God. Yes, I know the Holy Spirit is at work but I am not pointing the finger at him. When Christians bring assumptions to a passage of Scripture, they very often come out the other side intact. See if you can spot one in this extract from the book.
In the entire Bible, there are only two books named after women. One is Esther, which tells the story of a Jewish woman who becomes Queen of Persia and saves her people from destruction by “coming out” as Jewish to her husband, the king. The other is Ruth, which tells the story of two women who love and support one another through difficult times.1
Not too difficult to spot, was it? Esther’s “coming out” as a Jewess is considered a type of gay coming out. i.e. God is holding back a bit in the story of Esther, but he’s drip feeding us the world view that homosexuality has his stamp of approval.2
That’s eisegesis not exegesis.3
But Miner and Connoley do more than suggest Ruth & Naomi supported one another:
The Bible is clear. We have two women who made vows, lived together for life, loved each other deeply, adopted each other’s extended families as their own, and relied on each other for sustenance – as do many lesbian women today. Instead of condemning these relationships, the Bible celebrates them, giving them their own book in Scripture.4
No matter how many times you read the book of Ruth, you won’t see it, because it’s not there! They “supported” one another so they were probably gay. That’s like me saying Samson had a fixation with his hair and so he was probably gay. It’s clear that if you bring a presupposition to the text, you will see whatever you like in the text.
The story of David & Jonathan is the most predictable part of the book. The “love” spoken of between them is always interpreted as romantic love, with more than just a hint of sexual overtone. And what, exactly, is this conclusion based upon? The authors present their summary thus:
In Exhibit A, upon their first meeting, Jonathan is said to have loved David as his own soul and to have given him his most precious possessions. In Exhibit B, Jonathan’s father uses language of sex and shame when he decries Jonathan and David’s relationship in a fit of rage. In Exhibit C, we see Jonathan and David’s passionate tearful goodbye, and Jonathan reminding David of the eternal covenant they have made to each other – a covenant David still honours years later, even though honouring is politically incorrect.5
Again, there’s just no evidence. And this is supposed to be the Pièce de résistance!
They loved each other – could this not be an early manifestation of the love Jesus said he had for his disciples and which we are to have for one another? Or does male expression of love for another male automatically mean “gay”? If so, what do we do with passages like John 13:23?
One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. (John 13:23-24)
It’s obvious Jesus loved one of these disciples in a way which is not said of the others. Must this be read with homosexual overtones too? No, it was a deep, righteous love which was perfect in every sense. Jesus’ earthly ancestor, David, mirrored this with Jonathan.
Saul was furious – What a character witness he is! You don’t think it had anything to do with the sense of betrayal this madman felt when he learnt his own son befriended David; the rival to the throne?
The tearful goodbye – Are we to interpret tears as a sign of a gay relationship now? On what basis? Everyone cries. Jesus cried when Lazarus died, Peter cried when the cock crowed, Abraham wept over the death of Sarah, Joseph bawled his eyes out when his brothers turned up in Egypt. And what about the time Jacob & Esau met after so many years?
But Esau ran to meet him and embraced him and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. (Genesis 33:4)
Wait a minute… what does, “and fell on his neck and kissed him,” refer to? I shudder to think!
The story of David & Jonathan makes perfect sense to the Christian. To find evidence of a gay relationship forces you to plant that evidence in the first place.
But wait, here’s the smoking gun: Exhibit D – David’s song of mourning following Jonathan’s death in battle.
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
very pleasant have you been to me;
your love to me was extraordinary,
surpassing the love of women. (2 Samuel 1:26)
Here it is in black and white. David states the love he shared with Jonathan was greater than what he had experienced with women.6
In this story, we have a direct biblical answer to our question: Can two people of the same sex live in a loving, committed relationship with God’s favour? The answer is “yes,” because Jonathan and David did, and the Bible celebrates their relationship.7
What Miner and Connoley should have said is, “Yes, provided it doesn’t turn into a homosexual relationship,” because that’s when sin distorts love and it becomes something else, something ungodly. If this is the smoking gun, the accused is going to be found not guilty.
As I said, I can understand (up to a point) why the story of David & Jonathan is seized upon as a cornerstone of homosexual theology, but any conclusions must be based on evidence in the text. The understated way many relationships in the Bible are portrayed can leave questions unanswered but, mostly, enough detail is given.
For example, if you continue with the story of David, you will come to the point where he does actually fall into sexual sin with Bathsheba. The gory details are not all given, but enough of them are there to conclude that this was adultery.
And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” (2 Samuel 11:3-5)
Later, when the child dies, David returns to Bathsheba. A similar description is given.
Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. (2 Samuel 12:24)
But when David pours out his heart for Jonathan, the language is different. The line in the poem about Jonathan’s love surpassing that of women is not saying gay sex is better than heterosexual sex, for David or anyone else. That’s butchering the text. It’s there to describe the love as deeper than the love David had experienced to that point in his life. It’s a love created by God and exemplified by Jesus with at least one of his disciples.
And don’t forget, David’s experience with women came when the king awarded him a wife for killing Goliath. And this happens at practically the same time Jonathan and David are knitted together at the soul. That passage is immediately following the battle.
As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 1:18)
And then we read about Jonathan’s gift of robe & armour.
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. (vs4)
Interestingly, much is made of this moment by Miner & Connoley.
Now imagine if this story had been about Jonathan and a woman. Suppose the author had written that “Jonathan’s soul was bound to Mirriam, and Jonathan loved her as his own soul. And suppose that upon meeting Mirriam for the first time, Jonathan immediately gave her all his most precious possessions. (The amour and weapons of a prince were important symbols of his power and status.)…. When was the last time you saw a heterosexual man, swept away by brotherly love, offer another man his most precious possessions in their first encounter?8
I can think of one: about five minutes before when Jonathan’s father did exactly the same thing!
Then Saul clothed David with his armour. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. (1 Samuel 17:38-39)
Honestly, this discussion is one of insinuation and inference, not exegesis. Miner & Connoley’s problem seems to be that manifestations of love in the Bible (at least between individuals) are interpreted as romantic, or perhaps erotic. The Bible never says any of the things they claim; we are simply asked to read between the lines and draw a gay conclusion.
This happens repeatedly in the book, but particularly chapter Two: Finding Affirmation in Scripture. In Acts 8 Philip meets the Ethiopian Eunuch. He was gay. It’s obvious.
To introduce one’s self as a eunuch in ancient times was roughly akin to introducing one’s self today as a hairdresser from San Francisco.9
Remember when Jesus met a Roman Centurion in Matthew 8? He was gay too apparently. How do we know that?
The Greek word used in Matthew’s account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean “son or boy,” it could mean “servant,” or it could mean a particular type of servant – one who was “his master’s male lover.”10
No prizes for guessing which one they go for here. At every turn, what the authors are looking for is evidence of homosexuality being approved of by God. But, it’s not there. Even if the narrative of David and Jonathan did describe overt homosexual intercourse, it would not automatically mean God approved of it any more than he approved of Samson sleeping with a prostitute. God does not jump out and condemn that either, but his silence at that moment does not equal his approval.
We know from the rest of the Bible God does condemn sex with prostitutes and this remains true even when Jesus refers to them as entering the Kingdom of God.
Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. (Matthew 21:31)
Is this because Jesus is OK with prostitution? Is it no longer a sin? No, that’s not it. He goes on to say they enter the kingdom ahead of the chief priests and the elders of the people because the prostitutes believed John’s message, but the others had not. It had to do with their belief, not their behaviour.
Now here’s the rub: what Miner and Connoley are trying to get us to believe is that homosexuals are accepted into the Kingdom of God because they too believe and their behaviour is irrelevant to their salvation. But that is an assumption.
When prostitutes are saved by the grace of God, he doesn’t turn the red light district green with permission for them to continue as ‘Christian Prostitutes.’ They enter that category of being washed clean of all their sin. But how will they now live? Jesus gave his answer to the woman caught in adultery; “go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
The New Testament makes it clear, homosexuality is something true believers “were,” not “are.”
Homosexuality might be listed along with some surprising others, but it is never downplayed or legitimised in Scripture. If you “practice homosexuality”, you will not inherit eternal life. That should be Miner and Connoley’s starting point, not the desire to have it Christianised. Their teachings are leading their people to a lost eternity. Pastoral carers, it’s time to do something!
I think the New Testament is consistent in presentation of homosexuality as a sin.
Jesus and his apostles taught that God's intention in marriage is for a man to leave his parents and join himself to one woman (Matt. 5:27-32; 19:3-6). Furthermore, the New Testament clearly teaches that homosexuality is immoral (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:10) and that those who embrace a sexually immoral lifestyle will not inherit Christ's kingdom (Gal. 5:19-21; 6:7-9; Eph 5:5; 1 Thes. 4:2-8).11
But if you thought presenting the relevant passages of Scripture was enough to persuade Miner & Connoley, think again. Chapter one of their book is devoted to taking the teeth out of those passages which speak so clearly against it; the so called “Clobber” passages.
Left: Authors Jiff Miner & John Connoley on the dust jacket of their book.
Genesis 19 – Sodom and Gomorrah
Not about homosexuality at all, say Miner and Connoley, but, “the abomination of Sodom, according to the Old Testament prophets, was that they behaved with callous indifference toward the weak and the vulnerable – the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers in their midst.”12
Admittedly, Sodom and Gomorrah is mentioned all through the Bible without homosexuality per se being discussed. And some of those passages do indicate there were more problems that sexual sin. Ezekiel springs to mind.
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezekiel 16:49-50)
But to argue that homosexuality was not the problem misses the point. Sodom and Gomorrah are the Old Testament type of nation which faces judgement; the most severe judgement. Homosexuality would have been just one of the issues, not the only issue. But to Miner & Connoley, homosexuality is not a sin, so the blame has to be shifted onto things like lack of hospitality.
Jude vs 7 – Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.
Now, you would think the key verse in the New Testament which speaks about Sodom and Gomorrah would be allowed to speak for itself. No, Jude was not referring not to homosexuality at all, we’re told, but male angels having sex with female humans. I am going to resist going into all the arguments for & against this curious belief (and it most certainly exists within orthodox churches), except to say that its origins are in Judaism and seeped through to Christianity despite the clear teaching of Jesus that angels do not and cannot fornicate!
For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matt 22:20)
Angels don't go there. This is what humans do.
For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark. (Matt 24:38)
His point is: the normal functioning of the human family is interrupted by death, just as it was by the flood. When the believer leaves this life, he/she lives on in the one big eternal family where there is no more “marrying and giving in marriage.” Jesus is not allowing for sex outside of marriage at any point. He’s saying that none of it exists in the next life. The church, in fact, is that eternal family now for those who remain single in this life. Those who do not or cannot involve themselves in sex the God given way in this life, should consider themselves already part of the eternal reality to come for every believer. That should include the very people Miner & Connoley wrote their book for.
Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13
Despite what you might think, I am not a big one for quoting Leviticus at people; even if homosexuality is the subject. The law was given to Israel for their national life in that particular land, but that doesn’t mean we, in the New Covenant, should ignore it. Jesus fulfilled this law and so our understanding of homosexuality (and hundreds of other issues) can be correctly shaped by connecting the law to Jesus and not by applying it directly to the Christian life.
However, the Mosaic law does clearly do one thing for us: describe exactly what the Bible means when it says “homosexual.” The context of Leviticus 18 leaves us in no doubt. Miner & Connoley are correct in noting that this section in Leviticus begins by warning Israel not to be like the pagans, but they have deliberately slipped between the lines in their interpretation.
Leviticus 18 vv6-19 forbid uncovering the nakedness of close relatives, neighbours and all sorts of other people they come into contact with. Then, the prohibitions on certain sexual acts. Let Scripture speak for itself here.
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. (Lev 20:22-23)
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. (Lev 20:22-23)
At the risk of being juvenile, let’s ask a question: what’s wrong with lying with an animal? Our dog often jumps up on an old lounge chair while we watch TV. Every member of the family has found themselves lying there watching TV with the dog. Is this the issue? No, it’s having sex with dogs that’s the issue. That’s what “lie with” means here. And when men “lie with” each other, “it is an abomination.”
Would Miner & Connoley agree with this interpretation? Of course not. Listen to them wriggle out of it.
It follows, therefore, if we can determine what type of homosexual behaviour was common among the Canaanites and Egyptians, we will better understand what these verses were meant to prohibit.13
What “type” of homosexual sex? That’s not what the passage says. It doesn’t say you can lie with dogs as long as it’s the right kind of lying, neither does it say men can lie this way with men as long as they truly love each other. But that’s exactly what Miner & Connoley want it to say.
It is simply not reasonable to believe the author of Leviticus intended to prohibit a form of homosexual relationship that did not exist at the time.14
Monogamous gay relationships didn’t exist back then? This is too much. If David & Jonathan were described as lying together the way a man lies with a woman, you can imagine what Miner & Connoley would do with it. (Even I would concede defeat at that point!) But here we have it described in a Biblical prohibition and apparently we need to, “determine what type of homosexual behaviour” is being described. No we don’t. Any type of homosexual sex is being forbidden here.
But, as I said, I don’t rush to quote Leviticus at gays. Jesus fulfilled the law & the prophets. Surely, however, Romans 1 is the definitive passage on the matter!
For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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 themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)
No, Miner & Connoley interpret this as referring to idolaters; perhaps temple prostitutes. Again, their goal is to jump into the passage an elbow their way to create some room for the loving, monogamous, gay relationship they’re trying to sanctify.
Paul simply does not address our model of stable, loving homosexual relationships among people of faith.15
On and on it goes until we’ve reached the end of the Bible only to discover that nowhere does God even address the ‘modern day’ phenomenon of Christian, gay marriage or their development through homosexual relationships in the church.
If I go on exploring what is said in The Children are Free any further, I will end up writing more that Miner & Connoley did (the book is less than 100 pages in length).
The key issue is this: the authors do not believe homosexuality is a sin and have decided that gays will not get what support they need in the church until the Bible can be shown not to condemn homosexuality. So, it’s a call for pastoral care for a hurting people (and I have no doubt gays are hurting and are even persecuted at times).
BUT their approach is to reinterpret God’s word to suit their own ends and I cannot endorse their work for that reason. The pastoral care work must come after it has been decided what God’s position on homosexuality is. If it is no sin, then we should stop putting barriers to fellowship in their way. But if homosexuality is a sin, then they must be called to repent while ever they sit in church claiming to be Christians. They can’t have it both ways.
And to say that other people in church are not called to repent despite lying, cheating, committing adultery, stealing and the like is absolute nonsense. They’re in the same boat. The reason homosexuality is the topic of discussion here is because Miner & Connoley have written a book about it, calling on Christians to take it off the sin list.
That, and the fact that we are facing the most aggressive marketing push from gay lobby groups ever seen. The church is under assault here like never before and I do not think it will be long before we can all agree it is, once again, Christians who are being persecuted on this subject, not the gays.
What is the alternative?
A far better approach to the subject of homosexuality and its relationship to Christianity is taken by Peter Hubbard in his recent book, Love into Light – the Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church.16
Hubbard is clearly a pastoral care kind of guy. The blurb in the back of the book says that he enjoys bringing the Gospel into the lives of hurting people. That, of course, is what Miner & Connoley think they are doing, so the key question is: is homosexuality a sin? That’s what you are looking for when you pick up a book in this category. Once Hubbard has answered that, you know where he’s coming from & where he’s going.
Hubbard does indeed uphold the Bible’s teaching on the prohibition against homosexuality; he just takes longer to say it than I would! I suspect that is because no one who was struggling with the temptation would want to read a whole book which begins with a harsh condemnation. The book is written sensitively and thoughtfully and addresses most of the key arguments thrown around in this difficult debate.
Love into Light is also a short book (around 170 pages) which is split into 10 chapters. Chapter one analyses attitudes in the church today and asks some hard questions: are homosexuals in another category of their own or are we all simply to be considered sinners together? (My own answer to this question is in my conclusion) Has God given up on gays? Can they ever change?
Hubbard answers these questions with clarity and insight, but even here it should be obvious where the book will end up, with headings such as, Homosexuals Can Find a New Identity.17
In The Children are Free, gays do not want or need a new identity. They demand the church change its attitude to homosexuality completely so everyone can just get on with being Christians; gay or straight.
Miner, Connoley and Hubbard are all trying to get alongside the hurting gay community, but their foundations are vastly different and, therefore, so is their message. One says, “I’m sorry people are calling you a sinner, I will try to change their behaviour so you are not persecuted,” while the other says, “Those people are not persecuting you, they are simply telling you what the Bible says. Let me show you so I can help you.”
When the gay lobby groups begin to address Christian attitudes, most of the arguments are about the way it’s done, not the truth of Scripture. Where Christians are guilty of not being like Jesus towards gays, they should repent. But when Christians are told they must endorse homosexuality or be considered persecutors, then they must stand firm and not compromise. Truth matters.
At least Miner & Connoley have attempted to address the Biblical texts. They obviously know there is no point asking for change while ever the orthodox understanding of Scripture remains. I have to tell them, some things are never going to change. God promised that.
Hubbard also addresses the Biblical texts, but not until almost halfway through the book. Before that, he treads gently through the minefield of the “Heart”; the title of chapter two. Here, Hubbard attempts to persuade gays that they were not, in fact, born that way. This is probably the most touchy part of any discussion you could have with gays (other than mentioning “sin”) and so this part of the book is handled delicately.
Here, Hubbard addresses one of the central planks of the gay lobby group agenda (ie in the church): Did I choose to be gay or did God create me gay?
At this point, everyone becomes a person of principle. You have to give a black & white answer. The pastoral carers can care all they like, but people like Miner and Connoley are not going to accept any answer but the one they began with. They want to hear the Bible say God created their homosexuality, but it doesn’t and, thankfully, Hubbard doesn’t allow them to think it does.
But God offers a very different narrative. Yes, attractions are real and meaningful, but they are not experienced in a vacuum. We are relational beings who are created to worship our Maker. We interpret desires within the atmosphere of God’s love for us in Jesus and our love for people. Not every desire is helpful. For example, “The treacherous are taken captive by their lust.” (Prov 11:6) Sexual addiction is, on some level, the result of relational treachery. Like the kidnapped boy who wilfully wandered from his parents, we are most vulnerable to bondage when we are ungrateful to our Creator.18
A gay person who is looking for affirmation in their homosexuality will probably put the book down at this point. Hubbard is gentle, but firm in his analysis of the issues. I suspect, however, that a homosexual who is honestly searching for the truth and is prepared to repent where necessary, might read on to see where Hubbard takes the matter.
Miner & Connoley, however, keep going back to the type of homosexuality being discussed. They want every Christian to know that there is good homosexuality and bad homosexuality just as there is in the heterosexual world. Therefore, every discussion about addiction, lust, unfaithfulness, adultery, fornication, pornography & perversion can be swiftly placed in the ‘bad homosexuality’ category.
But Hubbard does not fall for that one. He knows that a sin is a sin and there is no value in trying to “rank” them as though gay lust is somehow worse than heterosexual lust. From what I can see in the Bible, there is just lust and it’s a sin in whatever form it takes. But orthodox Christianity also asserts that homosexuality, in whatever form it takes, is also a sin. It is the end product of a particular type of lust which was wrong from the first step. Miner & Connoley are attempting to baptise it so that it will present itself as acceptable.
From this point onwards, Hubbard clearly diverges from Miner & Connoley on the crucial issues. Love into Light’s third chapter in called “Change.” Change what? Change the attitude of stubborn, old-fashioned fundamentalists? No, Hubbard prompts gays to consider what the Bible has to say about putting to death the sin nature. Colossians 3:6-7 is brought into the discussion at this point (p59) to show that God expects Christians to cease with the old life, (put it to death, in fact) and take up a life of purity.
There is no reconciling this with the views of Miner & Connoley, who would say that Paul was not referring to acceptable homosexuality in Colossians 3, but was talking about sexual immorality of any kind, whether homosexual or heterosexual, and, hence, encouraging acceptable Christian behaviours such as proper homosexuality or heterosexuality. As I said, it gets to the point where the Bible is not allowed to speak for itself.
But Hubbard does let it speak. In chapter four, titled “Bible”, Hubbard addresses some of the key arguments presented to orthodox Christianity from the gay lobby groups: The prohibitions against homosexuality are; Temporary (p73), Misunderstood (p76) and Ignorant (p77).
In each case, the matters are confronted head on and with sensitivity. But they are not watered down. When the Bible identifies something as a sin, Hubbard points it out. Leviticus comes first and the text is allowed to say what it means and not obscured by the invariable reposte that everything in Leviticus is temporary.
So if a command is in the Old Testament, we can ignore it as an embryonic remnant of our moral evolution? This is a deceitfully haughty attitude to God’s sacred Word, and on that would not be shared by Jesus. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17)19
Hubbard is obviously a fan of the Kiss-Kick-Kiss method, because the discussion of the key texts and the inevitable conclusions he must make as a Bible believer are placed pretty much in the middle of the book. Hopefully, an earnest gay searcher would have warmed to the author’s style by then and be prepared to let him speak about the difficult realities of God’s Word. It just doesn’t say what some people want it to say.
Hubbard is to be commended for putting into print a faithful exegesis of the key passages of Scripture on homosexuality, but Miner & Connoley have attempted (in my opinion) to change its meaning. That too is an abomination. To make someone feel secure in a lifestyle which incurs God’s wrath is disgraceful. They would have been better off writing nothing.
There I go again: shooting from the hip. I could learn a thing or two from the pastoral carers in our midst. Listen to how Hubbard describes his reaction to Wesley Hill, the author of Washed and Waiting, in which he describes the struggle of the gay Christian. i.e. a Christian who struggles with same sex attraction. It comes in chapter five, titled “Labels”, where Hubbard is discussing how, when a person becomes a Christian, Jesus totally changes everything about their identity.
This is one of the reasons I struggle with Wesley Hill’s self-description, “gay Christian.” I get what he is trying to say. He is committed not to act on his “homosexual orientation.” He has rejected the gay lifestyle and is learning to see his temptations and struggles “as part and parcel of what it means to live by faith in a world that is fallen and scarred by sin and death.” I thank God for Wesley Hill, and I admire him. But I wonder if he and the rest of us who have been renamed by God need to own more fully our new identities.20
That’s a nice way of putting it. A “gay Christian” is an oxymoron. To this statement, many will object with an argument along these lines: we all struggle with sin – all sins are equal – the homosexual struggle is as real for those Christians as anger or greed is for other Christians – the term “gay Christian” is legitimate.
I disagree and so does Hubbard. If my particular weakness is outbursts of anger, then there is no doubt I will have to be particularly careful in that department. I will try not to put myself in ‘trigger’ situations etc. BUT, I do not call myself an “angry Christian.” Remember what Paul said? That is what some of you “were”, not “are”. You have been given a new identity in Christ. It’s far greater than you expected.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
The old you has gone and that includes the angry one and the gay one. Christians should never identify themselves by a sin name. And that’s what these are - iniquities. That’s why I come back time & time again to principles. If homosexuality is a legitimate Christian lifestyle, then let’s deal with the legalists who say otherwise. But if it’s a sin, then it must be called that so there can be no confusion. To leave homosexuals feeling affirmed but, nevertheless, still wondering what God makes of it all, is to do them a disservice. And it’s a disservice of eternal consequences.
Left: Author and Pastor Peter Hubbard.
Chapter seven of Love into Light is titled “Climate,” and Hubbard here begins to zero in on one of the most frustrating aspects of the gay debate for many Christians: homosexuality has been legitimised to the point where there church is now being told that where gays need help, it must come in the form of comfort and affirmation, not the call for repentance. It wasn’t that long ago that Christians assumed every church believed basically the same thing about homosexuality. But now, the goalposts have shifted and many ordinary, village pastors feel pressured to never deal with homosexuality as a sin at all.
For many years, homosexuality was viewed as the “end-of-the-line” sin. Sin on steroids. Today Christians are demystifying homosexuality, eliminating the extreme language when referring to SSA. This is good However, a growing number of other Christians seem to be over-compensating. Homosexuality is being removed from the “hit list” and being added to the “protected species” list.21
Most Christians can simply ignore the issue and carry on with their private view of it all, but those in the church who have been called to teach and, just as significantly, speak publicly (i.e. in the media) on behalf of the body, are starting to wither on the vine.
If a Christian genuinely wishes to minister to homosexuals, there must be more to the conversation than simply listening to their tales of woe when recounting public persecution and private guilt. The homosexual can, today, walk into the average church and walk out again without ever having the gospel applied to their particular circumstances.
Gay lobby groups would respond that if a person’s habit is theft, then they are unlikely to have that dealt with either, unless they happen to land on the one day in the year when a “Do not steal” passage is read out.
But I think that is a deflection. We are not just talking about a variety of Christians with a variety of temptations. The church is under assault (from outside and inside) from a powerful lobby group which, even though it might have once been persecuted (and still may be in some places), now organises itself through very public marches and well-funded political groups.
Today, there are gay Olympics and any number of high profile events which sweep across our TV screens and newspapers under the protection of anti-discrimination laws. Governments are entitled to make whatever laws they choose and, admittedly, many of today’s anti-discrimination laws protect Christians’ rights as well.
There is no corollary for the Christian whose weakness is theft. If, however, there was a “Stealing is good” political party, an annual Embezzlement march and a Theft Olympics, then I would say we would, in fact, be facing the same scenario - only on a different matter. I would be concerned if someone in the Theft lobby group became a deacon in my church and they would be noticed as they walked through our doors. It’s inevitable.
But Miner & Connoley resent the implication that homosexuality is to be likened to any sin. They say that only certain ‘“types’ of homosexuality are wrong and they have their counterparts in heterosexuality (e.g. unfaithfulness). But that, too, is a deflection. Gay marriage is not the model given to us in God’s Word for humanity (more on that later) and all sex outside Christian marriage is a sin. The church was long ago given God’s dictionary of word meanings, but today we are being asked to accept new definitions as though the originals came from a sin of our own.
Community and Outreach
The final two chapters of Hubbard’s book take a look at how the church interacts with Christians who experience Same Sex Attraction (SSA). This is a helpful section because I suspect many Christians have not thought about how they will react when gays start coming to church. Many assume they’re just not in the building, but I can tell you from personal experience they are.
A few years back, two lesbians began coming along to our fellowship. They sat in the pews week after week and I got to know them as much as I could. But once the wider fellowship worked out they were gay, there was definitely an icy reception. Our “warm” fellowship seemed to disappear and, not long after, so did the two women.
I remember being disappointed by this. I expected better, but now I am not sure why. When gay men come along to church, mothers pull their kids aside and make sure they don’t go anywhere near them. It’s not the same with other sins. In this context, Miner & Connoley are correct in their perceptions about how gays are treated in the Christian church. Let’s be honest, we treat them differently.
Miner & Connoley go too far when they say we are just legalists calling something God created a sin. Homosexuality is a sin, I think the Bible is clear enough about that, but we could do a lot better if we analyse how we treat the various sinners we have around us. Other sexual sins are considered understandable, but homosexuality seems to be in a category all of its own.
Hubbard offers some helpful suggestions on how homosexuals might find a home in the church. The suggestion of churches providing a ‘Network of Care’ will be challenging and invigorating for churches who take it up. Finding exactly the right set of relationships will be a key factor in the rehabilitation of gays, because it is with everyone.
In some ways, homosexuality is a friendship disorder.22
Making the right (ie Biblical) human connections in the church will be a foundational part of any homosexual’s journey of healing, but only God will do the healing. But, as Hubbard points out, what gays might find in the church can sometimes lead to another kind of despair.
When the church protests gay marriage, for example, yet mocks marriage through pornography, adultery and divorce, we are hypocrites.23
Surely it’s not too much to ask that Christians clean up their own life before they sit in judgement of others, gay or straight. This is one of the major arguments the gay lobby groups have against the church. But their argument is little more than, “There are all sorts of sins going on in the church so don’t tell us we can’t be gay.”
Despite that weak attempt at liberty, however, I would suggest anyone who is struggling with SSA ignore what everyone else is alleged to be doing and concentrate on what Jesus says to do. And to that, we now turn.
A matter of principle
It’s only fair I give my thoughts on the matter now that I have analysed the others. I don’t see the Bible supporting homosexuality in the Church or in the world. In fact, I think the Bible states it is a sin and is one of those things a believer must flee from. And because I have stated that I am a principled person, it is clear that my process would be to look at what God says about this and be satisfied.
The problem is, however, other principled people have given this issue much thought and come down on completely the other side of the fence. So, the issue becomes one of Biblical truth. More specifically, what does God say about this in Scripture? How you understand the Bible on homosexuality determines everything in this debate (leaving aside a liberal interpretation, which basically ignores God’s word).
I have already covered a lot of ground in this article, so I will try not to go back over it; especially the passages dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah and Leviticus. All I would point out here is that the Old Testament Law does a good job at describing what homosexuality is. It doesn’t go into much detail regarding the attitude of the heart (ie lust) but it does tell us that it is an abomination to God for a man to lie with a man the way a man lies with a woman. What we do with the Law, as Christians, is another matter. But if you’re looking for a description of exactly what God considered to be an abomination, I don’t think it could have been much clearer.
The attempt by some to liken the prohibition on homosexuality to the Old Testament dietary regulations gets a fundamental factor wrong: the dietary laws have their foundation in the giving of the Law at Mt Sinai, but the prohibition on homosexuality has its foundation in creation.
Whoever came up with the “Adam and Steve” one-liner was clever perhaps, but it suffers from being so overplayed that Christians avoid it and, unfortunately, the basis on which it rests. The created order is foundational for sexuality and God does not give humanity permission to explore alternatives.
God offered a warning to Israel when Moses was about to leave them as they stepped toward the promised land:
And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3)
In the context of proving Israel’s ‘daily bread’, God teaches that their hunger for food was from him as much as the food he provided. And the point of providing this manna was to reveal to them that they survive not, ultimately, because they eat, but because he provides for them. And he does this primarily through his word. He both leads them and feeds them by his word.
The people were not permitted to grumble about this food, nor to long for the food they had in Egypt. There were not even to gather the manna on the Sabbath. Their clothes and shoes did not even wear out (Deuteronomy 29:5). God provided for them perfectly.
This was all a test of the people to make sure they relied on God for everything and would remember to worship him alone. Their sustenance comes from God alone, but if they forget his commandments, then they will end up like the nations he is judging.
Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 8:20)
The point is, no matter what the people were facing – starvation, thirst, war – their first priority was to obey God’s word. It alone provided for them. It even fed them – physically. But they were warned not to ignore God’s commandments or face his judgement.
Attempts to distance the Christian church from these commandments amount to little more than holding them up to ridicule. The prohibition on homosexuality is compared to laws regarding sowing two seeds in a crop, mixing fabrics or ploughing with an ox and donkey together (see Deut 22:9-11). The conclusion being that those laws are ridiculous and, therefore, so too any law banning homosexuality.
But that is what Don Carson would call an improperly handled syllogism.24 The fact that two things are prohibited in the law doesn’t not automatically mean both are struck off the sin list in the New Covenant. This should be obvious from the verses in Deuteronomy 22 which immediately follow the prohibitions on seeds, fabrics & livestock. Moses’ attention turns to sexual immorality.
But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21)
The offence in this case is sex before marriage. It is not that the woman has lied about her virginity (although that too would be a sin) or that the type of sex she was having was wrong (it could possibly be considered right in the context of marriage, we are not told) but that she had been, “whoring in her father’s house.” Conclusion – sex outside of heterosexual marriage is always a sin.
What has changed is not God’s feelings about the type of sex; they have been consistent from day one, but the punishment God’s people are required to hand out. Israel was a theocracy where God’s law was also the law of the land. Religious law & Civil law were one & the same. It was not like Egypt, not like Babylon & certainly not like New Testament Christianity. At that time & place, God’s law was also the State law for Israel.
Today, we do not stone people for the sin of fornication, but what the word means and how God feels about it has not changed. In the New Testament church, the issue is just as serious, but the process is different. Jesus has taken the curse of the law for God’s people (Gal 3:13), therefore they are no longer cut off from the people by death, they are cut off (if they will not repent) from the fellowship.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Cor 5:1-2)
But what we are constantly being challenged with is a reinterpretation of God’s word so that we might ignore his declared judgement on sin and focus solely on the emotional wellbeing of the sinner. That’s important, to be sure, but it must never be placed ahead of obedience to his word. That sinner who comes to you in tears may well be experiencing a conviction of his sin made possible only by the Holy Spirit.
Furthermore, I reject on Biblical grounds that a Christian who is suffering must be allowed to choose a solution such as gay marriage for relief. All the way through the Bible we are taught Christians will face certain enemies on this earth: famine, war, pestilence and to top it off, the internal war of the flesh (as in Romans 7).25
Jesus and Creation
I think the most telling Biblical argument in favour of the traditional view of homosexuality, is the response Jesus gives to the issue of marriage when questioned by the Pharisees in Matthew 19. Honestly, the answer is in this short passage if you really allow it to speak for itself.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)
The context is heterosexual marriage, but the answer Jesus gives cuts across the obtuseness and provocation of the religious leaders. Remember, “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:3)
In other words, we are not entitled to find gaps in the text and read them as confirmation that our desires must have God’s stamp of approval. There are probably lots of things God did not address in the Law, but you can tell what pleased him by reading & obeying what he did say. That’s all you needed.
Jesus doesn’t need to answer all the “what ifs” of marriage here. The plain fact is God, “made them male and female,” and our relationships today are still to reflect that created order. This goes for not only human sexual function but the structure of families and church leadership.
In Luke 20, it was ramped up even further.
There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. And the second and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. Afterward the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? (Luke 20:27-33)
But Jesus is not interested in how many different marriage scenarios they can come up with. There is only one:
Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female. (Matt 19:4)
That’s it. There will not be another beginning with another two humans; not two men or two women, not a man and an animal, not a woman and a Martian. Adam and Eve were it and they are the proto-type of all subsequent marriages. That’s why Jesus refers to them when answering the question.
And it is not good enough to suggest Jesus was locked into a cultural time frame. Jesus is the eternal word of God made flesh, the true manna God now gives to his people for spiritual nourishment. He is the truth, the beginning and the end and the last Adam. When Jesus was referring to events current to his day, then of course he was dealing with issues within a cultural setting, but when he brings creation into the mix, there can be no avoiding the issue: he’s dealing with eternal truths. They must not be dismissed.
In all my readings on the subject of homosexuality and Christianity, which goes back decades, there is one line of reasoning I have never heard discussed: the Two Kingdoms of Martin Luther’s theology. I cannot understand why nobody seems to address this issue. I couild possibly be the first!
If you are not familiar with Luther’s Two Kingdom’s doctrine, I suggest you do some quick research here.
In a nutshell, although Jesus establishes marriage in creation, he was careful not to give the impression that his hearers (or we) are somehow like Adam and Eve in the present. It is Jesus who is the last Adam, not us and we do not live in the garden of Eden. That day will come at the resurrection of the dead, but for now, we live on as adopted sons of God in the kingdom of God and as citizens of a very secular worldly kingdom, which God oversees, but which is in rebellion. One day, Jesus will be seen by all to rule over all, but for the time being, his rule is known in the church (which is part of the kingdom of God), but not in the wider kingdom of the world.
What this means is, if we are to take from Scripture a clear understanding of what a marriage is and how it works, we must see marriage in both contexts. Where does marriage come from? It comes from God, it was instituted in the garden of Eden and it was corrupted by sin. Marriage remains, however, the only God given model for the human family. Jesus reiterated that. One man, one woman, for life.
But how will marriage work now that we are no longer in the garden of Eden? For that we must turn to the Noahic covenant and this is where the Two Kingdoms come into play. Noah and his family set foot on dry ground. It’s a new world and it will operate according to a surprisingly simple set of rules. They are found in Genesis 9.
1And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. 3Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. 5And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. 7And you, be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” (Genesis 9:1-7)
There’s not a lot to go on, but it is enough. At least, it should be. Noah’s family are to fill the earth with their offspring. They may now eat meat and there will be a requirement for capital punishment in cases of murder. This is described repeatedly in the rest of chapter 9 as a covenant. It is a covenant with Noah, his offspring and all beasts of the earth. It is totally comprehensive and there is no sunset clause. It is in force while ever the earth keeps turning.
Now here’s the point: the Christian church should look at this and understand it to be binding on every generation. It tells us how the world will operate, including the wicked who turned out to be closely related to Noah himself! God did not leave anything out of it and it has not been superseded.
It is not an instruction manual for worship inside the Christian church. That’s for a later time. It merely sets God’s plan in motion for the operation of the kingdom of the world – righteous and evil included.
Gay lobby groups within the Christian church have taken a course of action which the rest of us cannot support. They are looking for loopholes in God’s word. Instead of being satisfied with every word from God, they are saying God has left a few things out. But are we seriously to believe God failed to put some things in the Bible; overlooking such a matter as modern day homosexuality?
The truth is, he hasn’t. Over and over again homosexuality is specifically mentioned in the Bible, but we are now being asked to consign all of those references to other contexts which do not bear upon today’s monogamous gay marriage. That I just cannot accept. When God says, ‘Here’s what you should do’ and ‘Here’s what you must not do,’ the one who chooses to do the opposite is not what the Bible calls a follower of Christ.
And it’s not good enough to point to other modern day phenomena, which the Bible is silent on, as though that gives licence to accept homosexuality. When God creates a man & a woman, says they become one flesh, tells them to be fruitful & multiply, reiterates this with another covenant, enforces it strictly in the Law and supports it all in the New Covenant, then that IS God dealing with homosexuality.
The onus must be on the gay lobby groups to prove that God does not mean what he says. They have not, to my satisfaction, done anything of the sort. Not even close.
The man-woman unity a picture of the church
I find it striking that homosexual apologists make no reference (that I am aware of) to Paul’s metaphor in Ephesians 5 of marriage being a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church. It’s one of the more obvious metaphors we get in Scripture. And when you think about it, it’s clear why they would avoid it.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:29-32)
Paul’s point is that the marriage relationship is analogous to salvation in Christ because we have left our own identity and been joined to Christ the way a man or woman leaves their old identity and becomes “one flesh” with their spouse. And where does Paul get this idea from? From Genesis 2.
The scenario Adam faced of not having anyone created which would end his isolation as a human being, is replaced by a future with Eve, whom God created from Adam while he slept. She comes from Adam and all humanity will come from Eve. They are one flesh.
Today, the scenario we face of being isolated from God as a result of the fall is replaced by a future with Jesus. We become ‘one flesh’ with him by being joined to the body. He is the head of that body. Our old self has gone and the new self “in Christ” lives on into eternity.
It is no accident that Jesus quoted from Genesis when he was asked the question about marriage. His answer pointed to himself. People do not marry in heaven; they are married to Christ in that he is the groom and his people are the bride.
I have to conclude from this that heterosexual marriage, inaugurated in Genesis, reiterated after the flood, endorsed by Jesus and expanded by Paul, is the only metaphor which makes sense of the Gospel event. Are we expected to believe that two men or two women, who wish to proceed down the gay marriage path, equally fulfil this symbol? It does not fit.
That is why Paul describes homosexuality as an unnatural act in Romans 1.
For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another. (Romans 1:26-27)
All the talk about Paul’s reference being to unfaithful homosexuals rather than monogamous ones, misses the point. If you follow the thread from Paul back to Jesus & then to Genesis, you get it.
Heterosexuality is “natural” in that it reflects how we were created in a very specific way. This is not telling us that we can tell whether we are gay or straight by how we feel. It’s saying that God created and structured humanity a certain way and it cannot be altered without doing violence to the Gospel.
Man comes from the dust and lives via the breath of God. Woman comes from man & all humanity from the woman. When a man & woman are made one flesh, their old identities are replaced by their new body - their “one flesh.” Spiritually, it’s the same: your old self is replaced by your identity in this new body as you are made “one in Christ Jesus” with all believers. (see Galatians 3:28)
Male Christians are also part of the bride
There is one more part of the bride-groom analogy which the gay lobby groups in the church would do well to pay attention: when Jesus speaks of the groom coming for his bride (e.g. Matthew 25:1-13), it is significant that all believers, male and female, are described as being part of the bride. Jesus does not say that if you are male, you are like the groom and if you are female, you should be a bride.
This time, the human sexual distinctions are removed and the picture is simple: Jesus is the groom and the church is the bride. Very few men I know (especially Aussie men!) think of themselves as the bride of anyone.26 But here, in the analogy of the heavenly bride & groom, we find the only Biblically appropriate crossover of male & female distinctions. Men may become a bride, and therefore take on a certain feminine quality, so long as it remains in the context of their relationship to Christ.
This, I think, is what gay apologists in the church are picking up on when they read in the Bible of David’s close relationship with Jonathan or Naomi & Ruth’s intimacy or even the closeness Jesus had with his disciples. I think of those incidents as types of body life. I don’t feel angry, but sad, when I hear Christians trying to suggest there was a sexual component to these relationships. That’s how far we have fallen today.
Eternal future of homosexuals at risk
If you are wondering why folks like me get so worked up about gay marriage, I will give you two reasons: firstly, the Bible says homosexuality places the eternal future of those who practice it in peril.
As for gay marriage, how can you ‘bless’ something which condemns the adherents so clearly? The stakes don’t get any higher than that. Homosexuals, Paul says, will not be welcomed into the kingdom of God. Perhaps many don’t care; that is their choice. My argument is not with homosexuals as such, but BIble teachers who claim God approves of it. He does not and his word makes it clear enough.
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
The Bible doesn’t single homosexuals out for special treatment; their sin is listed with many others. But it’s still a sin and those who defiantly live a gay lifestyle will not “inherit the kingdom of God.” That ought to rock to the core people who are in it or considering it. The problem, I fear, has become one of sheer unbelief. Too many of us just don’t believe what the Bible says about homosexuality and consequently, many high profile Christians are telling the world that no one needs to repent of their homosexuality to be right with God.
And although homosexuality is not singled out in these passages as worse than any other, do not miss the important point Paul makes to the Corinthians about the nature of sexual sin itself.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
When it comes to sin, there is definitely a singling out. Sexual sin means your body has been used as an instrument in the sin. It means you sin “against your own body.” No one who cares for sinners should ignore this warning. Telling your friends or children that love and tolerance will conquer all the other problems is to deceive them. This is a sin against your own body which requires atonement. No positive attitude on your part can possibly compensate for this.
We are losing our young people
The second reason I feel it is worth having this debate is that I see a generation of young people growing up around me for whom homosexuality has become a normal, reasonable lifestyle which they believe has God’s tick of approval. Churches are now telling a generation of people that they will be right with God even though they do not repent of homosexuality. Nowhere can this be supported by Scripture. It is a Christianity which has moved beyond God’s word to new doctrinal basis.
In my own extended family, these issues have been played out with heartbreaking consequences. Teenagers are lost and today’s gay culture offers them an identity. Parents fear losing contact with their children if they hold fast to orthodox Christianity and so there is a compromise. But it doesn’t need to be that way. It is possible to be a Christian and hold firm to God’s word.
However, where parents are threatened by isolation from their gay children if they do not abandon God’s word, I would remind them of Jesus’ tough teaching when his own family attempted to climb higher in his list of priorities.
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)
Does Jesus want you to abandon your children? No, of course not. But where you are forced to choose between following God’s commands and embracing sin, Jesus assures us that the church will be your family should you be isolated by your earthly relatives. Let’s pray the pastoral care people are on deck that day.
How do you answer?
I still pray for my old friend, D, and his parents. They all met up for dinner recently and I hear it was a healthy, healing time for them all. That’s a good thing, but I don’t just pray for healthy relationships; what I pray is that D and his partner will repent of their sin, because that’s what needs to happen if they are all to meet in heaven.
Repeatedly, I find the issue becomes less about truth and more about how to keep relationships smooth. But in order to come to grips with the homosexual issue in the church, you only need to answer a few simple questions.
- Was it God’s intention at creation, and is it God’s will now, for some Christian men to have anal sex with other Christian men?
- Was it God’s intention at creation, and is it God’s will now, for two women or two men to raise a family?
- Does the Bible describe homosexuality as a sin and, if so, does that still apply?
- Does God demand homosexuals repent of homosexuality?
We can all earn popular approval simply by saying nothing or by saying what people want to hear, but we are not called to do that. Although there is no doubt Christians have dealt harshly with many gays when they have come for help, the gay lobby groups are not coming to us this time for counselling; they are coming to have doctrine changed. That is something we must not affirm.
NB - The authors of both books reviewed in this article have been contacted and offered the opportunity to respond.
- Miner, J. Connoley, J. The Children are Free, 2008, Found Pearl Press, Indianapolis, Indiana, p29.
- Personally, I think it’s far more likely that the story of Esther is another example of Israel refusing to accept God’s judgement on their sin through slavery, unlike Daniel, for example. Esther was put through a degrading sexual performance test for the king so he could choose his new bride. He wants to see what’s on offer, but, of course, he had to sleep with them before he made his decision. Fornication has never been a part of God’s strategy for his people, but Esther and her stiff-necked uncle Mordecai, don’t seem to have had a problem with it. How ironic that the authors of a book which tries to draw close parallels between homosexual and heterosexual sex in the Kingdom of God, would use the example of Esther as a paradigm of proper “coming out”. If you ask me, Esther did a little too much of that and her story suffers when compared to Ruth’s.
- For a definition, see Reformation Theology.
- Ibid. p33
- Ibid. p37
- Ibid. p38
- Ibid. pp34-35
- Ibid. p42
- Ibid p47
- Miner, J. Connoley, J. p6
- Ibid. p10
- Ibid. p12
- Ibid. p16
- Hubbard, P. Love into Light, 2013, Ambassador International, Greenville , SC.
- Ibid. p26
- Ibid. p39
- Ibid. p74
- Ibid. p93
- Ibid. p134
- Ibid. p145
- Ibid. p155
- Carson, D.A. Exegetical Fallacies, 1996, Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, p94
- I am fully aware of theologians way above me in understanding, such as Douglas Moo, who do not accept my reading of Romans 7 that Paul was describing his struggle with sin in the present and not as a Pharisee. I remain unconvinced by their arguments. Romans 7 is speaking to us!
I suspect this is why men can find it difficult to relate to Jesus through much of today’s Christian music. Many of today’s songs are framed as young romance tunes. Jesus is the boyfriend and we are the girl he is courting. Our culture has been prone to this phenomenon for quite a while. There was a time when Onward Christian Soldiers fitted the bill, but that was at a time in world history when military conflict was at the front of mind and we were the good guys. Revolutionary gospel music emerged in the 1960’s through people such as Ralph Carmichael, followed by the “Put your hand in the hand” peace music of the 1970’s.