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Q&A from Readers on Homosexuality

The following are questions or comments I’ve received as a result of my Monday blog, or from those who’ve previewed it, or covering issues too long for that blog. In case you’ve always wondered what Christian homosexuals use to justify their postion, the last half of this blog is a wonderful article by theologian Wayne Grudem which does just that, and answers them.

Q.  You wrote that you consider born again, celibate homosexuals your brothers and sisters in Christ. What about born-again homosexuals who read the Bible differently and believe the Bible allows them to marry and live in committed, monogamous relationships and/or marriage? Are they your brothers and sisters in Christ also?

A. “Or do you not know that wrong-doers 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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” I Cor. 6:9-10 NIV 2011

The Christian gay/lesbian community has a different interpretation of what the Bible considers a sin in same-sex, sexual activities. I’ll explore some of their interpretations toward the end of this blog.

The historical interpretation of this passage says anyone who calls themselves a believer, but has given themselves over to one of these sins – that is, they have given up calling it a sin and have surrendered themselves to it, and embraced drunkenness, greed, fornication and yes, homosexual sex, as a lifestyle, will not enter the kingdom of God.

This passage does not teach that alcoholics or those who’ve had an adulterous affair, or who are homosexuals, are lost spiritually if they confess their behavior as sin, and ask God’s forgiveness. Even if they “fall off the wagon” and sin again, but by the power of the Holy Spirit repent and try to resist sinning again, they will enter the “kingdom of God”. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ!

Q.  So, then Clare where does that leave non-celibate Christian homosexuals, spiritually?

A. Some interpret the phrase used in I Cor. 6, “enter the kingdom of God”, to mean in this life only. That is, it may be that if truly born again Christians surrender themselves to these behaviors, they have de facto excluded themselves from fully participating in the kingdom of God in this life, but not the next. In this interpretation, their choices prevent them from exercising all their natural and spiritual gifts, enjoying the fellowship of other true believers and living a life that most fully brings glory to God. Because of their ongoing sin, they’ve wasted much of their life and forfeited the opportunity to serve and participate in the kingdom of God on earth, but will still go to heaven someday.

The more traditional interpretation of this passage is that those who give themselves over to these behaviors demonstrate that the Spirit of the Living God was never in them at all. They never were born again. If they were, the Holy Spirit would have convicted them; they’d repent and continue to struggle against these sins. The fact that they don’t, indicates they are lost spiritually, in spite of what they claim to believe about Jesus. Their true God was their own will and lifestyle. While no one knows with certainty, and it’s with great sadness that I personally believe this group is lost spiritually. While that sounds harsh, I don’t think a straight forward reading of the Bible gives us much choice.

Q.  I’ve always understood there were very effective ministries which helped homosexuals lose their same sex-attraction. Can’t God “heal” them, if they repent?

A. Yes, God can and has removed same sex-attraction in some. Years ago, I and a few others met with a gay Christian man God healed totally and completely. And, I just recently met with a woman attending my church who lost all interest in other women after coming to true faith. In all fairness, both did not grow up with same-sex attraction, but engaged in those activities late in their teens to fill a longing to be loved.

However, the statistics aren’t good. One of the largest ministries in the U.S. helping homosexuals was Exodus International. In June of this year, they made a stunning announcement. They admitted that they have deceived the church for many years. They admitted they’ve had very little success in freeing homosexuals from their attraction to the same sex. As a result, they have closed their doors. This link will give you the full story as reported in Christianity Today.

Q.  I’m not sure I agree with you when you assert, just being a homosexual is not a sin. God created heterosexuals to be attracted to the opposite sex. He didn’t make homosexuals to be attracted to the same sex.

A. True. However, because of the fall, both homosexuals and heterosexuals have this in common; both are tempted to sexual thoughts and relationships that God prohibits. I am occasionally tempted to lustful thoughts of women other than my wife. A homosexual is tempted to lust after others of their same sex. Both are sin. Both are perversions and distortions of God’s original intent.

So God established some moral laws to put boundaries on both our behavior and our thought life. “You shall not commit adultery”. Jesus actually upped the ante when he said “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt. 5:28. The Holy Grail for all true followers of Jesus is to neither act, nor think outside of God’s moral boundaries. If and when we fail, God expects us to confess it and repent – stop doing it!

Q.  Aren’t homosexuals more likely to be pedophiles?

A.  Based on the best evidence I’ve read from both Christian and non-Christian sources, men are more likely to have sex with under-age boys, than lesbians are to have sex with under-age girls. But, here’s where it get more complicated.

Some researchers do not categorize same-sex, sexual offenders of children as homosexuals, just pedophiles. The reason? Some pedophiles are bi-sexual, or profess their primary attraction is not to members of their same sex, but they choose young boys only because they are simply the most available potential victims. (i.e. Not all priests who sexually abused young boys were gay, but are or were pedophiles.) Here’s a link to a Catholic website, with some very good data.

Therefore, based on the research I’ve done, I do not think it would be wise to allow homosexuals to work with children or teenagers in church.

Q.  What are the best arguments Christian homosexuals use to justify their choices biblically?

A. What follows has been edited from an article in World Magazine April 6, 2013, by Wayne Grudem, a well-respected theologian. (My additions are noted.)

The Exploitation Argument “Some homosexual Christians argue that the biblical passages concerning homosexuality only prohibit certain kinds of homosexual conduct, such as homosexual prostitution or pedophilia, or unfaithful homosexual relationships. (This is sometimes called the “exploitation argument”: i.e., the Bible only prohibits exploitative forms of homosexuality.)

Advocates of this interpretation point out that the I Cor. 6 passage in the NIV which reads “men who have sex with other men” is interpreted in the TNIV as “male prostitutes.” Therefore, they believe what the Bible prohibits is any same-sex relationship in which one person dominates and forces another into sex. In these interpretations, loving, life-long, consensual same-sex relationships are not a violation of scripture. (Note that I couldn’t find the “male prostitution” language in any of the top 10 selling versions of the Bible and the TNIV Bible is no longer published.)

But there is no legitimate evidence in the words of any of these verses, (other than the TNIV) or their contexts, or in evidence from the ancient world, to prove that the verses were referring to anything less than all kinds of homosexual conduct by all kinds of people.

Two other biblical counterarguments against the “exploitation argument” may be briefly mentioned: (1) In Romans 1:23-27 Paul clearly echoes Genesis 1:27, indicating that Paul viewed any sexual relationship that did not conform to the creation paradigm of “male and female” to be a violation of God’s will, irrespective of whether the relationship is loving. (2) Paul’s absolute indictment against all forms of homosexuality is underscored by his mention of lesbian intercourse in Romans 1:26, since this form of intercourse in the ancient world was not typically characterized by sex with adolescents, slaves, or prostitutes.

(If domination and exploitation is the real sin and if consensual sex for homosexuals makes it okay with God, then is consensual sex for adulterers, or for unmarried adults, also okay with God? In other words, if both parties to an act which God clearly prohibits are consenting adults, are we to conclude then it’s no longer a sin? I believe sexual domination is a sin, in and of itself. It’s called rape, or pedophilia. De Graaf)

The “Contrary to Nature” Argument Romans, Paul says, “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) According to this view, Paul is not saying anything about people who “naturally” feel desires for a person of the same sex, for such desires would not be “contrary to that person’s nature.”

However, this is reading into the text a restriction that has no basis in the actual words that Paul wrote. He does not say “contrary to their nature,” but “contrary to nature” (Greek para physin), a phrase that is used several times in literature outside the Bible to speak of all kinds of homosexual conduct as something contrary to the natural order of the world. In other words, Paul is not saying in Romans 1:24-27 that some people switched their innate heterosexual urges for contrived homosexual urges, but rather that people exchanged or left behind sexual relations with a true sexual complement (someone of the other sex) to gratify their inward urges for sex with members of the same sex. Paul sees such people as choosing to follow their desires over God-ordained creation structures.

The “That’s the Way God Made Me” Argument In this argument people are “born gay”. That is, almost all homosexuals do not choose their homosexual orientation but it is part of their genetic makeup from birth, so for them homosexual behavior cannot be wrong. “That’s the way God wired me!”

The Bible prohibits the actual practice of same sex-sex. “Nor men who have sex with other men.” I Cor. 6:9a

(It’s not people’s inward desires that are the final standard of right and wrong. It’s the Bible. Virtually all behavior is, at some level is biologically influenced, and no command of God is predicated on humans first losing all desire to violate the command in question. If that were the case, angry people would be exempted from their sin as would be liars, alcoholics, child-molesters, etc. De Graaf)

“Then Let Homosexuals Marry” Argument The idea behind this argument is that if the objection is sex outside of marriage, then let’s solve it by allowing homosexuals to marry. If homosexuals marry, the moral objection to same-sex, sex goes away just as it does when heterosexuals marry.

While it’s true that the scriptures do not outright prohibit same-sex marriage, marriage is always described as between a man and a woman. The first chapter of the Bible says, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Differentiation of the human race into two complementary sexes (“male and female”) is the first fact mentioned in connection with being “in the image of God.” In Genesis 2, which describes in more detail the process summarized in 1:27, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). Genesis then applies the example of Adam and Eve to all marriages: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

This “one flesh” sexual union was thus established as the pattern for marriage generally, and Jesus cites Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as the normative pattern that God expects all marriages to follow when he restated these verses in Matthew 19:5, “And (Jesus) said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.” 

Therefore, Jesus and Paul both assume the logic of sexual intercourse implied in Genesis: a sexual bond between a man and a woman requires two (and only two) different sexual halves (“a man” and “his wife”) being brought together into a sexual whole (“one flesh”).

Finally, to justify same-sex marriage strictly because the Bible doesn’t prohibit it, strains incredibility. It gives equal weight to an argument from silence, against hundreds of examples of married people in the Bible who were only married to the opposite sex. It’s a disingenuous argument and cannot be taken seriously by any true biblical scholar. This is an obvious application of the old adage, “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

In Conclusion Whether or not you accept Grudman’s answers or mine, do you have your own? Are you prepared to discuss these issues thoughtfully and biblically? Get ready. The issue will be The Issue of this decade in the church.

Following Jesus in Real Life

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