The Bible Perspective on Homosexuality (Part 2)

homosexualityPart 2: Conclusion              It seems Christians hold very different views of homosexuality. Some churches accept homosexuals while other churches condemn gay people. What does the Bible teach? Is it possible to be both a Christian and a homosexual? 

ARE HOMOSEXUAL THOUGHTS AND DESIRES NATURAL?

The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality acts are always wrong, but as Christians seeking to win a lost world to Christ, we must differentiate between those who experience homosexual temptations from those who choose to engage in homosexual behaviors. Any person (even a Christian) may experience lustful attraction for someone of the same-sex from time to time. When we turn away from our temptations, we do not sin, according to the scriptures. The Bible exhorts all believers to resist temptation so that we might be holy as our Father in Heaven is holy.

Presumably, some people are born with a greater tendency for the temptation to homosexual sin just as other people are prone to temptation by other sins like lying, violence, stealing, etc. Nevertheless, the fact that a homosexual desire is present from birth doesn’t legitimize the sin, no more than we would excuse the sin of someone who possessed a proclivity from birth to steal or lie.

Therefore, the argument that homosexuals cannot help themselves because they were born with homosexual desires is neither a novel nor compelling defense. The Bible agrees with them! Scripture teaches that all sin is present from birth, and as a result scripture commands us to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22) precisely because all sin originates at birth.

2 Timothy 2:22 New King James Version (NKJV)

22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

The fact that a particular sinful desire (like homosexual lust) began early in life doesn’t make it good or healthy. Rather, it merely confirms Romans 3, which teaches:

Romans 3:10-12 (NKJV)

10 As it is written:

“There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one.”

In that way, we can say that homosexual lust and heterosexual lust are the same in that every man and woman will experience inappropriate sexual desires from time to time. No one is unique in that regard, and, therefore, we can no more give license for someone to act out on homosexual lust than we can for heterosexual lust. Said another way, if the Church declares acts of homosexual lust are legitimate (in violation of the clear teaching of scripture), then it must also legitimize heterosexual lust as well. Obviously, all lust is sin and all lust must be resisted.

In summary, the Bible teaches that the only form of sexual intimacy permitted by God is found in the context of a marriage between a man and woman. Christians experiencing homosexual or heterosexual lust need our encouragement to resist such temptations to sin, and we do them no favors when we condone or encourage their sinful choices.

SPEAKING TRUTH IN LOVE

So how should a Christian confront someone who practices (or approves of) homosexuality? The answer depends on whether we are speaking with an unbeliever (non-Christian) or a born-again believer.

If the person is an unbeliever, we must take the conversation in a different direction. Rather than debating the merits of homosexuality, we should make our goal presenting the Gospel. Saving the soul is infinitely more important than conforming a person to the lifestyle of a Christian. Seeking to change someone’s opinion concerning a sinful act without addressing the underlying spiritual cause for the sin is like putting lipstick on a pig. Even if the person agreed with our arguments, the person would still be a lost sinner subject to God’s wrath in the day of judgment. What have we achieved?

On the other hand, if we present the Gospel and the person hears it and comes to faith in Christ, then they will be forgiven by God of all sin. Moreover, they will receive the Holy Spirit, Who will bring conviction of sin and the power to free them from slavery to sin, including homosexuality. This is the Lord’s blessing for all believers:

Romans 6:11-14 (NKJV)

11 Likewise you also, reckon (consider) yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

True conversion to faith in Christ is a person’s only hope both for obtaining forgiveness and the power to live a godly life, which is the real goal of our witnessing as Christians. As you present the Gospel, you may also find an opportunity to declare the Biblical truth concerning homosexuality. The key is to speak this truth in love while allowing the conviction of the Spirit to work in the heart.

Jesus serves as our role model in this approach. In John 4, Jesus encountered an adulterous woman at a well, and in the course of their discussion, Jesus candidly pointed out her sinful lifestyle even as He called her to repent and believe in Him. Ultimately, she came to faith in Christ and spread the news to her town.

Though Jesus boldly pointed out her sin, nevertheless He also offered her the chance for forgiveness, thereby demonstrating God’s love for her in the process. Today, Jesus offers the same forgiveness to homosexuals through the appeal we make on His behalf as His ambassadors sent with the Gospel. Therefore, endeavor to approach your circumstances in a similar manner, preaching the truth of the Gospel in love, while calling for repentance of sin and belief in Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, if a practicing homosexual claims to be a born-again Christian, we should approach the conversation very differently. The Bible gives us very clear instructions for how to proceed, warning us not to be deceived by anyone claiming that willful sinful is compatible with a Christian walk. Instead, we are to separate ourselves entirely from their influence within the Church:

1 Corinthians 5:11 (NKJV)

11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named (so-called) a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.

Paul says unequivocally we are not to associate in any way with a believer who practices an immoral lifestyle. A Christian is not even permitted to share a dinner table with such a person!  Also, notice Paul calls these people “so-called” brothers, reflecting his doubts over their profession of faith. Perhaps such people are true believers, but as Paul reminds us, there is also a good chance they are not. Regardless, we distance ourselves from them because they claim a faith they aren’t living out.

Paul’s instructions yield two important and necessary safeguards for the body of Christ. First, separating from the disobedient Christian demonstrates to all rebellious believers that sinful choices will not be tolerated (much less condoned) by fellow believers. Fellowship within the body of Christ is a privilege that depends upon obedience to God’s word. Those who depart from sound teaching are to be set outside fellowship as an example and incentive to others to remain obedient to God’s word.

Secondly, Paul’s warning protects the church from counterfeit Christians, who infiltrate the body and corrupt it from within. The “so-called” brother or sister is no brother or sister at all, and therefore he or she is a slave to sin and unable to conform to godliness. He or she must be set apart from the body to ensure the enemy has no opportunity to corrupt God’s people by their influence. As Paul taught:

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 (NKJV)

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship (in common) has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion (fellowship) has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial (the devil)? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?

So whether the person is a true believer in rebellion to God or an unbeliever posing as a Christian, in either case they must be set outside fellowship to protect the flock from their harmful influence. While the world may label our response as “hate speech” or “homophobia,” the truth is far different. We are acting in love for the body of Christ and for the offending individual by making opportunity available for repentance and restoration, which brings eternal reward. More importantly, we are living in obedience to the Lord, Who calls us to obey His word and accept whatever consequences may follow.

PRACTICING TRUTH IN LOVE

In any conflict with those advocating homosexuality, a Christian should never resort to using angry rhetoric, hurtful epithets or displaying unloving attitudes toward anyone. Remember, the Bible typically addresses homosexual behavior in the context of other sins like murder, lying, adultery, etc., therefore we shouldn’t single out the practice of homosexuality for harsher treatment. All sin is equally wrong, and all sinners are equally lost and need Christ as Savior. As Jesus said:

Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Therefore, our duty toward those who practice homosexuality is no different than to any other unbeliever we encounter. We are called to reflect the grace and mercy of Christ in the hope they will believe and be saved. We cannot condone their sin, but our primary goal must be to win them for Christ, not to shame them and bully them. Only the Lord can change a heart, and He does so through a patient, loving witness to the Truth.

ARE PRACTICING HOMOSEXUAL EXCLUDED FROM SALVATION?

Based on Paul’s strong statements, we might wonder if a practicing homosexual may ever enter Heaven? The simple answer is yes, provided the person has been born again by the Spirit. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved, scripture teaches. On the other hand, this answer avoids the real question: can a true believer follow the homosexual lifestyle without conviction and regret?

To this question, the Bible would answer no, since every true believer is disciplined by the Lord and experiences conviction whenever they sin:

Hebrews 12:5-11 (NKJV)

And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening (discipline) of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten (discipline)? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening (discipline) seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Notice in verse 6 the writer quotes from Proverbs by saying the Lord scourges (i.e., disciplines) every son (i.e., believer). No true believer goes without discipline when he sins, and so if a Christian chooses to engage in homosexual behavior, they will inevitably experience regret and receive the Lord’s discipline. Their spiritual conviction betrays them since it demonstrates they are the Lord’s child and yet their actions are displeasing to Him.

Though a Christian engaging in homosexual conduct may claim to feel no regret, they will be burdened by guilt, scripture teaches. Such feelings and thoughts are unavoidable, for if disobedient believers did not experience these things, they would be illegitimate children (i.e., not true believers), according to Hebrews.  So believers may practice homosexuality, but they cannot do so without regret and conviction.

These rebellious believers usually justify their behavior as the result of “how God made me” or a natural variation on human sexuality, but inside their conscience says otherwise. As they experience the chastisement of the Lord and the conviction of the Spirit, perhaps one day they will exhibit repentance and remorse and seek to please the Lord. In other cases, they may never repent, fulfilling the warning of Hebrews 6:

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NKJV)

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

These believers may persevere in their sin, but if they do, they will see the Lord’s displeasure evident in various consequences, including loss of eternal reward. Though they can never lose a salvation that was given to them by grace, nevertheless they are in jeopardy of receiving a harsh judgment when they stand before their Lord, and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, they will enter as through fire, with all their reward burned up.

In summary, based on Paul’s teaching, we can safely assume that the majority of practicing homosexuals are not Christians, including many of those who claim to be followers of Christ. At the same time, a small minority of practicing homosexuals may, in fact, be Christians who have chosen to live in serious disobedience to their Lord. While they may pretend to have no regrets, they will experience conviction by the Spirit, and their conscience will be burdened. Since they grieve the Spirit living in them, the Lord will discipline them with severe consequences.

 

 

 

“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”

 

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