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Christianity and Homosexuality

Noahs-Ark-Great-Flood-Rainbow 

Ok, so this has needed to be done now and from dialogue that I have had in the past week or so that inclination was affirmed. So in this post I am going to be as faithful as possible to a Christian view of homosexuality. Now I am going to preface with something…it is likely that I am going to offend most people who read this including Christians. Mostly because Christians have a tendency to adopt very silly ideas that have either no Bible backing the viewpoint or a very obscure passage taken out of context and treated as if it says something it does not. So now that I have made my disclaimer (that likely will do little to no good anyway) let’s get started.

Is it Sin?

           The simple answer…yes…but not how most people think. Yes, Scripture speaks to the activity of homosexuality as sinful, as something that is an abomination in God’s sight. Now this isn’t God being cruel, its God expecting humanity to be in line with its created intent. If someone reads the Bible narrative and believes its story to be true…than it is fairly logical for them to make an argument as to why same-sex relations are sinful. This is communicated again and again throughout Scripture by both condemning homosexuality (and yes in the original languages that is what it means…as corroborated by extra-biblical sources) and affirming how humans are to have relations with one another. In every instance that we see two people of the same-sex “lay” together in Scripture it is always…without fail seen as something negative…always…without acceptation. Now that I’ve beat that horse to death let me explain why it might not be sin how most Christians seem to think it is.

While Scripture certainly speaks of the action of homosexuality as sin…there is no reference to the orientation. Let me say that again in a different way…it is not “sinful” to have the sexual orientation of homosexuality. It is sinful to act on those desires…it is sinful to dwell and entertain those desires (leading to lust), but it is not sinful innately. Scripture never once speaks to this as sinful…go ahead and test it. Look up every verse where Scripture condemns homosexuality…and point out one in which the Scriptures say something other than committing (an act) homosexuality and depict is as sinful. Go ahead. Or you can trust me when I say…it doesn’t exist. Now I’ve had some objection to this (of course), saying that the orientation has to be sinful because it is against God’s original plan. This is where we have to be careful…because if we see temptation itself as sin…than our claim to a perfect savior disappears. Jesus himself was tempted, truly tempted by Satan in the desert. So if temptation of a sin…is sin…than what does that make Jesus?

Why is this distinction so important? Well there are a couple of reasons but I will appeal to the strongest reason. Homosexuality has become an identity…when you make the orientation innately sinful you condemn that person before they have truly done anything wrong. Now in some cases same-sex relations is a choice…but I am not one who is inclined to believe that most people “chose” to be homosexual. Just like most people don’t choose to be genetically predisposed to alcohol, or mental illness, or any other number of things. We live in a fallen and broken world…why is it difficult to believe that people come out of the womb…broken? I am not one to believe that it is a choice in every instance and because of this…I draw this distinction. I am not willing to say something Scripture does not…it is very careful to point to homosexuality in moments when it is denoting an action taking place and because it is careful to draw this distinction out…so should we.

A Thought Experiment

           So after this understanding…how are we to react to homosexuality…what is the Christian response? The Evangelical church has done a remarkably poor job at this within American society. We have allowed the world to paint us as hateful bigots; of course we have allowed this not because we have actually “allowed” it but because most are too lazy to commit to an earnest reading of the Scriptures that then becomes a biblical theology. They have spent far too much time listening to people from Christian television and the religious right and have allowed these two groups to pull them away from the Gospel truth. So let me appeal to some very basic truths that I am hoping will help ground some Christians in Scripture and bring them crashing back to reality. First I want you to ask these questions in your head.

  1. Where in Scripture do we find God encouraging Christians (important distinction there) to lobby for or use influence to begin instituting an ethical rule of law?
  2. Where in Scripture are we called to be enforcers of God’s law outside of the community of faith?
  3. Is it possible for a law to make a dead person be in compliance with it (I know seems silly but just go with me)?
  4. What are we actually called to?

Now that these questions and their answers are spinning around in your heads let me deal with each one by one.

  1. We don’t. Scripture does not encourage us to become politically active within the sphere of politics, especially when it comes to impressing upon unbelievers ethical norms that are required of Christians.
  2. Nowhere. In fact Jesus speaks on judging others reminding us that we have some issues to take care of ourselves. Paul in 1 Corinthians appeals to Christians that they are to hold each other to the ethical standard of Christ’s followers within the body of faith…even to the point of holding civil suites within the church.
  3. Silly…right? Perhaps not…the obvious answer is no. But if it is so obvious…than why do so many Christians then push for same-sex marriage bans? In Scripture Jesus tells us that before people come to Christ they are “dead” in sin. They are literally incapable of holding up to the standards of God’s people…seeing that they are completely and totally bankrupt by themselves. The only one who can make dead people alive again…is Christ…and he will be the one holding them to account and repentance. So stop playing God…he doesn’t like it.
  4. We are called to be ambassadors of Christ on earth…what does that look like? Well how did Jesus interact with people? He was kind…loving…and at times blunt with people in the streets…the everyday person. It was not until religious people showed up with their burdens…rules…and laws that Jesus began to get a little…agitated. This lets us know that we should likely be courteous, loving, and compassionate to homosexuals…and less than friendly with self-righteous folks.

White Washed Tombs?

        Is it possible…that we have actually been in violation of the Gospel all this time? I think the answer is an unfortunate yes…we all too often have played the role of the Pharisee thumbing our noses at “sinners” and acting as if we have it figured out. We forget at times that we are no better…that if it had not been for Christ loving us when we hated him that we would be in the exact same place. Also think on this…what if Christians began moving in a direction to make a sin YOU struggle with illegal, and if violated threatened your way of life and freedom. Would you not feel victimized…would you not be hurt that your fellow Christians did not care to understand and be there for you during your plight with patience and long-suffering love? If your being honest…you’d be upset…you’d know its wrong (as many Christians who are homosexual do feel) but you’d feel ostracized from the very people who are supposed to love you like Jesus does. Can you see now why political activism can muddy the Gospel and confuse our purpose? We were called to the preaching of the Gospel, to baptizing, and to discipleship (Matt. 28). We are called to slowly convert enemies of God into His children…including them within the community of faith one by one. That is our call…anything else is a distraction…anything else pushes against the task that has been given to us. I for one do not want to explain to Christ as to why the resources and gifts that he had given to me for the Gospel were used in such a way…would you?

6 Comments »

  1. Very thought provoking. I for one have no distain toward homosexuals. I love everyone. I forgive those who were mean to me as a child, as well as those who angered me as an adult. I think the way you are raised has a lot to do with the theology process. It is apparent that you were raised to be a believer of Christ and to do his will. I feel like everyone is responsible for their own salvation, and if you can help someone who stumbles along the way that that is a good thing in the eyes of the Lord. I believe you will be a great minister. I love reading your posts.

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  2. Excellent points, and all terribly under appreciated. The idea of “orientation” is especially interesting. The idea is completely foreign to the Bible: the only “orientations” so to speak are to righteousness or evil. You might check out “The End of Sexual Identity” by Parris (I think). She’s a Christian anthropologist who’s got an interesting take on it all

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    • Thank you tom, the kind words are greatly appreciated. Yes the idea of “orientation” was something that caught me one day in prayer. I began looking up all of the Scriptures related to homosexuality and realized that it was a sin that needed to be acted out (whether that be physically or mentally). Either way Scripture always seems to speak of sinful action as something intended…not as something that is. The reasoning for the distinction in my mind is two fold…God cannot hold temptation of sin…as sin…precisely because Jesus was tempted (according to the author of Hebrews). So if we are willing to say that temptation is sin…than we obviously create quite the Christological crisis…which in turn creates a Soteriological one. The study of sin or “Hamartiology” is unfortunately an under utilized and under researched portion of systematic theology that needs some serious scholarship updates. Many define sin as “missing the mark” which is only partially correct…sort of. Unfortunately to truly get the picture correct a look at the Hebrew/Aramaic word is needed. This is far more nuanced and far more than the action of “missing a mark”. But that’s for a different post ;).

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  3. While yes looking at the scriptures at face value, I can see how it is seen as that. You also have too look at it from a historical context. The word Homosexuality was not coined or put into the bible until 1943 in the revised standard version. Paul isn’t condeming the act, what he is talking about in corinthians is about people going and worshiping other gods who are hermaphroditic. So obviously they had to take the role of either sex if they were worshiping them. They are not talking about Healthy same-sex monogamous relationships. He is talking about worshiping other gods which goes againts the commandment, “thall shall not have any other gods above me.” also around that time, there was the Roman empire which had older married men, who were sleeping with younger men. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed not for that but for a lack of faith and men in that time, raped other men for as a sign of there dominance and humiliation. Also in Leviticus, those laws were for the jews, but when Christ came he fulfilled those laws. They weren’t for Christians. There were also prostitutes of men and women. If there is an orientation, that you can’t help, why would you not go in the way you are naturally attracted to. I do beleive that God created sex, not to be misstreted, but as a gift on there wedding night. Thats just my two sence.

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    • Hi Ian,
      Thanks for your thoughts and interaction again. The Greek word for homosexual (as outlined in multiple literary types and literature outside of the Scriptures) are universally translated “homosexual”. The Latin Vulgate used to have a massive amount of influence on how we translated…this is no longer the case considering our source material has become quite vast in the last 60-70 years. The advent of this new evidence (and older manuscript material) show that the current translation of “homosexual” is the accurate one. So in reality modern scholarship has verified on several occasions that the word there is correct. Now it’s also nuanced…but since this word is used in conjunction with sexual sin on several occasions…it is safe to say that this was intended as the meaning.
      I hear what you are saying about the Law…but I think you misunderstand Paul. Paul is not saying that the church is a people of lawlessness…in fact I would say that he puts in front of the Christian an even more difficult task than the following of the Law. Jesus makes it clear that his intention is to make us perfect like our heavenly father is perfect…if we take what Jesus is saying here for what it is…than we must understand that there is an expectation for Christian behavior. Homosexuality strikes against God’s intention not only because it is specifically dealt with within the Law (and on several other occasions) but because in perfect creation…before we screwed this all up there was one man and one woman. God’s created intention was for relationship between man and woman…not for men and men…or women for women. These are what the Old and New Testaments call “unnatural acts.” I would challenge you to do some reading on the Greek epithet that is being used there. Gordon Fee in The New International Commentary of the New Testament 1 Corinthians covers the syntax and etymology of the words in usage (and yes there are more than one). Be well and thank you for the interaction. Blessings.

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  4. I don’t agree, I can see how you got that but unnatural interaction means going against your nature. Sex before marriage in any case is wrong. I don’t believe that I have to withhold my attraction to have a deep relationship with the Lord. We are never going to achieve perfection in this life. Only when we go to heaven to be with the Lord. We are going to be tempted and struggle. Women were told forty years ago that they could not be in leadership or on the pulpit because of 1 Corinthians 14:39. But now we don’t think about it. People back in those days were not talking about orientation. They were not talking about a natural desire for the same sex, its talking about disregarding women or vise versa when that is not your natural desire or orientation. I think that a Gay person can still have a God honoring relationship in there home. And i wasn’t talking about lawlessness. Yes, there is an expectation foe Christian behavior , that I do agree with. I believe celibacy is a calling one the Lord did not call me too.
    thank you for your thoughtful reply and i enjoy your blog.

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