Hot Topics, Part 4
This message is an extension of our study on Homosexuality from Part 1. We consider more about what scripture has to say on the subject, some common contemporary claims and our best way to respond and interact with people.
Hot Topics Series
The Bible, Homosexuality and Culture Part 2
Dave Spooner – Mosaic Rockford – Sept. 13th, 2015
- Today is part two on the subject of the Bible, homosexuality and culture. If you were not with us last week I strongly recommend that you listen to that message as we looked at this issue in-depth from the lens of the Romans chapter one and two.
- As stated last week, homosexuality has become one of the most sensitive and divisive issues of our day. This issue has become a litmus test to many for Christianity and the church.
- I know there are Christians that have taken different sides of the issue and there has been a massive cultural shift in the last 20 years.
- Our culture want you to believe If you hold the historical, conservative orthodox stance on homosexuality that virtually every Christian in the first nineteen and a half centuries has held along with most Christians around the world today, that you are a unloving, uneducated, unsophisticated, unthinking, uncaring and unchristian.
- If you are a Christian than this book is the foundational and authoritative guide for faith and life. So it is important for us to correctly understand what it says and then apply this to our lives.
- We are going to look at some additional biblical passages that guide us in this discussion, then address some common cultural claims and then give us help in responding and interacting with people in different groups on this subject.
It is written
- Paul in Romans chapter gives the theological underpinnings of all types of forbidden behavior including but nowhere limited to homosexuality.
- There are two other places in the New Testament where Paul mentions this issue. One is in the first letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in response to their letter asking him questions. And the second is in Paul’s letter to Timothy giving him practical and theological guidance in leading the church.
1 Cor 6:9-11 (ESV)
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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
- Homosexuality is in a list of activities that are considered “unrighteous”
- No one argues about the other practices in this list . . . .
- They say “well this is not homosexuality in a committed relationship” because they did not know about this at this time” – which is not true according to other documents and articles – and if that was true Paul could have used other Greek words but he did not . . .
- Those that practice them “will not inherit the kingdom of God” . . .
- So is this “works rigorousness”?
- “And such were some of you” . . . but you were . . .
1 Tim 1:8-11 (ESV)
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
- In Paul’s explanation of the law – he says the same things as he says in Romans and other places that the law was given to us to know where the boundary is between right and wrong behavior, obedient and disobedient behavior, godly or ungodly behavior.
- Again the probation against homosexuality is listed within a list of other activities that are considered “out of bounds” which no one questions any of the other terms
- Also listed in this list is “enslavers” – and one of the arguments I have read from pro-homosexual are those trying to link the homosexual issue to slavery and saying the church used the bible to justify slavery and was wrong and they now are also using the bible to exclude committed homosexual behavior and they are also wrong.
- A small revisionist group incorrectly used scripture to justify their behavior . . . the vast majority of the church understood the bible correctly in the condemnation of the practice
- And now they are the revisionists . . . so in linking the practice of homosexuality to slavery – they are linking themselves to those who used scripture to justify their behavior.
- Now we are going to take a look at some of the passages from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is the theological foundation of our faith with the New Testament being the extension and completion of our faith.
- The Old Testament explains the nature of who we are and the nature of who God is and our interactions with him and our world. God tells us who he is and what is required of us. God is a holy God and he was looking for a holy people to call his own.
- The book of Leviticus is the major document that deals with God’s and our holiness. Holiness is the book’s overarching theme. The first half of Leviticus talks about the whole system of Israel’s worship assumed the holiness of God as its starting place. You have holy people (the priests), with holy clothes, in a holy land (Canaan), at a holy place (tabernacle), using holy utensils and holy objects, celebrating holy days, living by a holy law, that they might be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The second half starting in Leviticus 17 is called the “Holiness Code” details how the people are to practically apply this in there day to day living.
- In this section you find laws about things like not eating shellfish, not charging interest on loans, not wearing clothes with two kinds of fabric, not eating pork, not letting your cattle breed with a different kind, not sowing your field with two kinds of seed, not boiling a young goat in its mother’s mild, not rounding off the hair on your temples or marring the edge of your beard, etc. along with sexual behavior which was forbidden which includes, adultery, incest, homosexuality and bestiality.
- Since we are focusing on Homosexuality, this is what it says:
Lev 18:22 (ESV)
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Lev 20:13 (ESV)
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
- So those who are pro homosexuality argue that we are inconsistent with our application of scripture where we now allow something and enforce others so therefore you have to obey it all or get rid of it all.
- Unfortunately this conclusion is based in a misunderstanding of the connection and relationship between the Old Testament and the New.
- There are three basic categories of law; the ceremonial laws (which included worship and the sacrificial system), ritual purity laws (which included what you ate, what you wore, how you worked, etc.) and moral laws (your relationship with God and other people).
- This is where Jesus and the New Testament comes in. Jesus in his teaching talked about what the Old Testament law was all about – it was always and will always be about the heart. This is what He was getting at on the Sermon on the Mount and all of his teachings and actions. His message was “repent for the kingdom of God is at hand” – it was not “death to the lawbreakers”. Why, because Jesus perfectly lived by and fulfilled all the requirements of the law – he did not break a single one. In his death and resurrection we have a new covenant in His blood. In this covenant we have forgiveness through repentance (Jesus and the women caught in adultery) He did for us what we could not do, so this is why faith in Jesus is the only thing that matters. If you want to get to heaven by your works, you have to do all of them (which no one can). So in Jesus we have a new way of approaching God the father – it is through him.
- Jesus did away with the ceremonial and ritual purity laws. All foods have been declared clean (Mark 7:19; Acts 10:8-11:18); holy days have been rendered optional (Rom 14:5-6); the entire sacrificial system of temple, priest, and sacrifice has been superseded (Heb. 7:1-10:18). The moral laws were brought forward into the next testament and those who broke them were told to repent, make amends to those who they have wronged (including God), put to death our sinful nature and walk in accordance with the Holy Spirit trusting Christ for our salvation.
- Another text has to do with Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis Chapter 19, references in Ezekiel 16:47-50, and Jude 1:7 and also mentioned by Jesus in the gospels as a warning of impending wrath and to expose peoples hardness of hearts. Homosexuality was without a question ONE of the reasons God destroyed the cities.
Common contemporary claims
Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality, so Christians shouldn’t either.
- We don’t have a sermon recorded by Jesus talking specifically about homosexuality or rape or incest or bestiality because these thing were not the main issues of his day because he was talking to mainly Jewish people who were well versed in the Hebrew Scriptures and knew these things were forbidden.
- However, Jesus clearly forbade any and all forms of sexual immorality, of which homosexuality is a subcategory. By prohibiting the more general concept of porneia (Matt. 5:19, Matt. 15:18-20, Mark 7:21), Jesus clearly prohibited its particular forms.
Sexual orientation can be neither chosen nor changed.
- It is illogical that our culture simultaneously holds to the claim that sexual orientation can be neither chosen nor changed as well as to the claim that people have the right to self-declare as man, woman or neither and to choose and change genders. How can culture insist that you can choose to change your sexuality while denying that you can choose or change your homosexuality?
- Regardless, we as Christians need to bear in mind that the gospel is in its very essence a call to change. Like all sin, homosexual desire and practice is a reflection of a deeper, heart-level idolatry (we are exulting our sexuality (or anything) over our obedience to God). The fact that something feels natural, instinctual or innate is not a license to act upon it. After all, sin is natural, instinctual and innate. The gospel calls us to repent of much of what is natural, instinctual and innate. The degree of a desire doesn’t determine its goodness. God’s Word is ultimately authoritative, not the voices that cry out to us from within. You cannot choose and change in and of yourself, but God grants grace to persevere, overcome and change in the power and provision of the gospel.
The God I Worship is a God of Love
- God is a God of love and it also needs to be made clear that the love of God does not swallow up all the other divine attributes. God is not made up of his attributes. He does not consist of goodness, mercy, justice, and power. He is goodness, mercy, justice and power. Every attribute of God is identical with His essence.
- This means we’d be wrong to insist that love is the true nature of God while omnipotence (or holiness or sovereignty or whatever) is only an attribute of God. We often hear people say, “God may have justice or wrath, but the very essence of God is love.” The implication is that love is more central to the nature of God, more true to His real identity, than other less essential attributes. But his is to imagine God as a composite being instead of a complete being. The completeness of God prevents us from ranking certain attributes higher or more essential than others.
- Christians cannot be tolerant of all things because God is not tolerant of all things. We can respect differing opinions and treat our opponents with civility, but we cannot give our unqualified, unconditional affirmation of every belief and behavior. We must love what God loves and we must also hate what God hates.
- God is love, but this is quite different from affirming that our culture’s understanding of love must be God. The God we worship is indeed a God of love. Which does not, according to any verse in the Bible, make sin acceptable. But it does, by the witness of a thousand verses all over the Bible, make every one of our sins changeable, redeemable, and wondrously forgivable.
Christians are inconsistent for condemning homosexuality while allowing divorce and remarriage.
- This claim is not entirely false. Unfortunately, some churches have grown lenient on the subject of divorce. But laxity on one sin does not give license for other sin. Furthermore, many churches, such as The Village, take divorce and remarriage very seriously and are actively involved in preserving marriage and challenging those who would seek to treat the covenant lightly.
- In many ways, comparing divorce and remarriage to homosexuality is like comparing apples to oranges. In cases of adultery and/or actual abandonment, divorce may be permissible (Matt. 19:1-9; 1 Cor. 7:12-16). We have no such exception with regard to homosexuality. In other words, everyone who engages in homosexual behavior is engaged in sin, but not everyone who has been divorced and/or remarried is guilty of sin.
Homosexuality is not hurting anyone
- This claim relies upon an inadequate understanding of sin. Sin is not first and foremost about hurting others, but about offending God. Even if homosexuality did not hurt others, it would still be wrong if it offended a holy and good God. Though most sin has horizontal ramifications, at its core, it is a vertical rebellion against our Creator (Ps. 51:4). Rebellion against God is the essence of sin and must, therefore, be the undergirding foundation upon which we build our understanding of what is right and good.
- With that said, the claim itself is false as homosexuality does inherently hurt others. If the Scripture is true, then to act upon homosexual urges is to invite God’s judgment (1 Cor. 6:9-10). By engaging in any immoral sexual behavior (fornication, homosexuality, etc.) you invite God’s judgment not only upon yourself, but on any who is likewise engaged in such consenting activity with you. In other words, by engaging in sexual activity with your partner, you are contributing to their sin and thereby to the consequences and effects of that sin. Thus, you are definitely and egregiously hurting another.
Our best way to respond
- Study (these are resources that are both pro and con on the issue – just because a resource is listed does not mean the perspective is embraced – they are listed as resources to study from all sides of the issue).
- Serve – with love
- They will know we are Christian’s by our love . . .
- Speak –
- About the gospel – Transformed hearts lead to transformed lives – transformed lives do not lead to transformed hearts.
- With truth and grace
- Kevin Deyoung in his book What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? Says
The right conclusion can be handled the wrong way.
Focusing on other people’s sins, while ignoring our own, would be the wrong way. Being haughty about biblical correctness, instead of humbled by our own fallenness, would be the wrong way. Turning every conversation into a theological throw-down would be the wrong way. Treating people like projects to fix or problems to solve or points to be scored, instead of people to love, would be the wrong way.
- If we are speaking to cultural elites who despise us and our beliefs, we want to be bold and courageous.
- If we are speaking to strugglers who fight against same-sex attraction, we want to be patient and sympathetic.
- If we are speaking to sufferers who have been mistreated by the church, we want to be winsome and humble.
- If we are speaking to shaky Christians who seem ready to compromise the faith for society’s approval, we want to be persuasive and persistent.
- If we are speaking to those who are living as the Scriptures would not have them live, we want to be straightforward and earnest.
- If we are speaking to belligerent Christians who hate or fear persons who identify as gay or lesbian, we want to be clear and corrective.
How do we handle Christians who have same sexual attraction – he has given us all the mercy and grace for today to follow him today. – Building yourself up and Christ – and then putting to death your sin – declaring war on your sin. People attend and not belong to church – you need a tight nit group of people that you can talk about these things with – when things are in the dark – they gain power in the light they lose power. We walk in community so that we might be holy – so people will call us into account.
- More questions and thoughts – look at the resources / notes . . .
- Prayer People