I don’t relish writing about the same thing over and over (especially in light of World Vision’s stunning and humble reversal of their two day-old hiring policy). Believe me, if there were never the need to talk about homosexuality again, no one would cheer louder than me. But that’s not the world we live in. So here’s one more post.

I received an email yesterday afternoon to this effect: Could someone please give a short, simple explanation as to why the issue of homosexuality is not like Christians differing on baptism or the millennium? Many Christians are willing to say homosexuality is wrong, but they’d rather not argue about it. Why not broker an “agree to disagree” compromise? Why can’t we be “together for the gospel” despite our differing views on gay marriage? Why is this issue any different?

1. Approving of homosexual behavior violates the catholicity of the church. Sure, many in the West are arguing for the legitimacy of same-sex relationships, but for 99.9% of our history the church has considered homosexual behavior to be sinful. (And before anyone mentions slavery at this point I would encourage him to read Rodney Stark’s book For the Glory of God where he debunks the myth that the church was pro-slavery for 1800 years.) No one had to write a confession about homosexuality, because it was an implied status confessionis issue. No church would have tolerated a difference of opinion, let alone a deviant practice.

True, church tradition is not infallible. But when we make a decision (accepting homosexuality or tolerating those who do) that virtually every single Christian who has ever lived would consider unthinkable, we ought to pause and wonder if we’ve drunk too much from the spirit of the age. We would be wiser to listen to the testimony of our brothers and sisters in the two-thirds world who know that homosexuality is not an agree-to-disagree kind of issue.

2. Homosexual behavior is so repeatedly and clearly forbidden in Scripture that to encourage homosexuality calls into question the role of Scripture in the life of the denomination that accepts such blatantly unbiblical teaching. The order of creation informs us that God’s plan for sexuality is one woman and one man (Genesis 2). This order is reaffirmed by Jesus (Matthew 19) and Paul (Ephesians 5). The Old Testament law forbade homosexual behavior (Leviticus 18, 20). Paul reiterates this prohibition by using the same Greek construction in 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1. Paul condemns same sex behavior (among many other sins) in Romans 1. Jude in his epistle links sexual immorality and the “unnatural desire” present in Sodom and Gomorrah.

The evidence is so overwhelming that Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament scholar and advocate of legitimizing homosexual behavior, argues rather candidly: “I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.” At its root, support for homosexual behavior is not simply a different interpretation of Scripture; it is a rejection of Scripture itself.

3. Far from treating sexual deviance as a lesser “ethical issue”, the New Testament sees it as a matter for discipline (1 Corinthians 5), separation (2 Corinthians 6:12-20), and an example of perverse compromise (Jude 3-16).

4. Most importantly, commending homosexuality involves the core of the gospel because it urges us to celebrate a behavior of which the Bible calls us to repent. According to 1 Corinthians 6 unrepentant homosexuals (along with unrepentant thieves, drunkards, idolaters, adulterers, revilers, swindlers, and money-lovers) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Heaven and hell literally hang in the balance.

Of course, homosexuality isn’t the only sin in the world. But I know of no Christian leader or Christian community promoting theft or championing idolatry as a special blessing from God. It is not an overstatement to say solemnizing same-sex intercourse is in danger of leading people to hell. The same is not true when it comes to sorting out the millennium.  In tolerating the doctrine which affirms homosexual behavior, we are tolerating a doctrine which leads people farther from God, not closer. This is not the mission Jesus gave us when he told us to teach the nations all that he has commanded.

In short, those who pervert the grace of God into a license for sensuality are false teachers who do not preach the gospel rightly (Jude 4; Titus 2:11-15). A true church does not encourage people in deliberate sin when it ought to call them to repentance.

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Comments:


77 thoughts on “Why Is This Issue Different?”

  1. Talmid says:

    It seems to me that the question is not how this issue is different from baptismal or millennial views. Rather, the question is: Why does this issue have the power to draw us evangelicals out for battle when other culturally popular sins do not?
    Scripture is at least as loud in its judgment against greed and economic injustice as it is of homosexuality or abortion (I would say more so). But we don’t see evangelicals going to war over these things. We don’t hear the prophetic warnings from our leaders that we hear when the homosexual lobby seems to make some new advance.
    In just the same way that the scourge of homosexuality advances under ideas like “two people who love each other” and “what people do in private,” greed and materialism march on undeterred under such mantras as “financial wisdom and responsibility” and the privacy of an individual’s wallet.
    It is easy to see how homosexuality is different from legit theological differences. What’s harder to understand is why it is singled out among the many cultural evils that God’s people in America are falling for.

  2. Tammy says:

    Talmid asks: “Why does this issue have the power to draw us evangelicals out for battle when other culturally popular sins do not?” Because this issue is what is being shoved in our faces right now. We are not being told “believe greed is good or be called a hater.” We are not being told, “economic injustice is GOOD, and if you don’t think so you are a terrible person.” No one is fighting to ignore verses in the Bible on greed or economic injustice.

    But, we ARE being told that homosexuality is okay. We are being asked to redefine culture and the Bible. We are being called haters for standing on tradition and the Bible.

    So, the answer to your question? This is where the front line of battle is right now. That is why we are being called to battle here.

  3. Nathan says:

    “if there were never the need to talk about homosexuality again, no one would cheer louder than me.”

    Way to be (em)pathetic.

  4. Very good Kevin. Just plain ol common biblical sense.

  5. Tommy Everard says:

    I just cannot see Jesus having any part of this. This ideology is so opposed to the Gospel, so opposed to what having Christian charity is all about, it is bewildering the blindness one has when on the wrong side of history.

    After the Civil War, fundamentalist white men used fear and terrorism to suppress a people for 100 years. How long are you going to sanction victimization and suppression of your fellow men, just to hold onto a specific interpretation of ancient written text for which you cannot have any certainty of understanding in its original context because of how language and its use changes over the centuries. And to do this while in complete opposition to the way Jesus treated his fellow men during his ministry.

    I am very proud no longer to be associated with Christian fundamentalism, as it is no different from other fear driven fundamentalism of any other belief. Uses fear and intimidation to maintain power and power is all it knows.

  6. Tammy says:

    Christ never, never excused sin. He forgave. He showed compassion. But, He always said, “Go and sin no more.”

    “History” shows that those who try to adapt the Gospel to the culture lose out. God gave us the Bible, 2000 years of Christian tradition, and 6000 years of Jewish interpretation for a reason.

    It is not we who stick to the Gospel who are “opposed” to the Gospel.

  7. thatbrian says:

    Tommy Everard, you said, ” . . . specific interpretation of ancient written text for which you cannot have any certainty of understanding in its original context because of how language and its use changes over the centuries.

    My question is, if we can’t be sure of the meaning of this “ancient text” how is it that you are so sure of its meaning?

  8. Paul Reed says:

    ” But I know of no Christian leader or Christian community promoting theft or championing idolatry as a special blessing from God. ”

    We celebrate unbiblical “remarriage” all the time.

  9. James Spence says:

    Thank you, Foppe VanderZwaag !!

    Thank you for stating the point which so many miss, or purposely overlook. And there are also many who just cannot grasp this idea because it is simply too deep for their brains to comprehend.

    Homosexual practice is God’s real-time judgement. Not something they will one day be punished for, but something that already is THE PUNISHMENT.

    Read Romans chapter 1 all the way through, and let this sink in.

  10. James Spence could not possibly be more correct.

    “Homosexual practice is God’s real-time judgement. Not something they will one day be punished for, but something that already is THE PUNISHMENT.”

    This is EXACTLY right. Homosexual ascendance IS the judgement for perversion. It started with heterosexual whoredom in the 60’s. God gives men over to what they insist right in His face that they want.

    We ARE under judgement. Homosexuals are gaining noting except heightened judgement by every false victory they think they’ve won.

    This who tie the name of the holy Lamb of God to this juggernaut of perversion make me glad there are no tears in the final judgement because I would not be able to bear watching what is coming to them if they persist in this stiff necked rebellion.

    This not hate boys n girls. I would risk my life to save any homosexual man or woman on the hope that God would use it to save them from their sin.

  11. MichaelA says:

    Well put, Kevin and Tammy.

    The issue is not homosexual behaviour per se – sure its sinful, but so are lots of other things, and there is NOT ONE of us who is without sin.

    Rather, the issue is that some Christian leaders are teaching that its okay to sin in that particular way. Its not okay, and the Church should be the last to say so.

  12. David T says:

    Brian W said this:

    This is a watershed issue, and it’s not dividing Christians; it’s dividing sheep and goats.

    Here’s how Jesus categorized sheep and goats:

    The Sheep and the Goats Matt 25:31 – 46 NIV

    31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    NOTE: The categorization in this passage has nothing to do with their views on the issue of homosexuality, and Jesus is the one making the division, not us.

  13. Dave says:

    The bible is pretty silent on Lesbianism. Many Catholics for 1500 interpreted the only verse on the matter in Romans 1 differently. The lesbian interpretation didn’t show up till the 6th century. This should cause GREAT pause.

    Catholics have pretty much said the verse was primarily concerned with non-procreative sex or certain sex acts. This seems preferable for how the Greeks understood sexuality and the common use of women. You put together your bible pretty differently on the matter when you realize the authors didn’t care so much about gender of partners but rather who’s active/passive partner, if you wanted kids, and the penetration aspects of sex. Does this still forbid it… The likely answer is yes under fornication/pornea.

    Sodom and Gomorrah… Read Judges 19:22. We can’t sawthat there was a ‘gendered’ desire in the passage about Sodom and Gomorrah. Especially, if the bible gives us what is Sodom’s and Gomorrah’s sin is elsewhere clearly. It was the destruction of the guest/patron relation which held a lot of power in the ancient world.

    To translate homosexual into the bible in any form brings more baggage than just sex. Likewise, we ignore that the terms in the bible must also apply to pedastry and rape. Sodomite is a better translation in the KJV and ESV. We have been let down by our translations and our modern mindset.

  14. Dave says:

    Judges 19:22-25 Rather

  15. William Gerald-Michael Kilburn says:

    After your initial review of a partial list of essential issues, there was a shift from neutrality to increasingly thunderous denunciation of people who have in no way harmed you or the church you belong to.

    Why did you do that?

    What do you say to the great weight of hard factual Science that clearly supports the prenatal origin of sexual and gender proclivities through genetic, epigenetic and other biological driven systems causation?

    Your wishful, and I wish it were not true, that slavery was not a Christian sponsored, Christian directed and Christian defended defilement of Human Rights is NOT at all in conformity with any major schools of historical analysis. Period.

    In fact, the African Native sellers, Muslim Fundamentalist slave traders and Southern as well as Northern Slave owners relied on the strength of Old Testament scriptures that clearly enjoined the Godly men of Israel to feel free to beat their slaves, provided they don’t overdue it and enjoy Torah marriage, from the example of Abraham down through Solomon and beyond.

    You have not addressed a central issue which is the fact that if you accept Free Will, if you do, you can not interfere with the free choice of people in or out of your church doing something you think, despite the Scientific evidence otherwise, is not allowable between two loving adults, even if they don’t belong to your religion or denomination.

    Isn’t that a very self centered and judgmental approach to the issues.

    You failed to note that just because you perceive that disallowing, as if indeed you had the option of disallowing, is the premiere calling of the clergy today, does not mean you’ve actually been declared God’s prophet. Save the high minded pontification for your Cardinal’s robe and ring.

    The rest of your errors can only be adequately addressed in my second book. In the meanwhile, why don’t you be “ready to give an answer for your faith” and respond to the brave minority here and answer some substantial objections to your arguments. Please don’t try to lean back on the old “it’s not me, it’s the Word of God speaking”. Many of us understand Hebrew, Greek, contextualism, research, writing etc, too. Have some courage and show some backbone and answer questions and objections. Why do you look for just yes men?

    Disgusting quality of logic, composition and theological discourse.

    Frankly, I could have argued your position not twice, but several times over, and scarce be started. If you truly believe this is the sin of all sins, higher then the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, precursor to the Day of Judgment, End Times, and so on, figure out how to get a million lost Christian souls to show the love of Rabbi Jesus for “the least of the Kingdom”.

    Surely on that day, the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

    After years of oppression by Christian men, the LGBTIQ community is being allowed to have their Human Rights. Human Rights, given at birth and not far more secondary as things which are merely chosen. Remember that last sentence. If will be a dominant theme in the great restoration of Human Rights enjoyed in the Gelded Ages of the great ones, like Alexander the Great.

    Cheers,

    Will

  16. I’ve read this entire lengthy exercise in futility & was just going to say a prayer for God to open your mind because you are clearly walking with an eye toward your own will and not His. When I read the following I stopped for a moment & simply had to (1) Step back and do a little reading to make certain of my facts & two do a little review of human sexuality in general & abnormal sexuality in specific not just as it is viewed now but how it has been viewed in the past. What do you say to the great weight of hard factual Science that clearly supports the prenatal origin of sexual and gender proclivities through genetic, epigenetic and other biological driven systems causation? THERE IS NOT A SHRED OF HARD SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENT! End of discussion. The only literature I can find is in psychological discourse of the matter but when it comes to genetic evidence other than discussing it in relation to some type of ABNORMAL development, some form of congenital disorder I find nothing! Now the psychological aspects of your argument have two very strong sides with strong opinions and theories on each side. You only mention your own side, interesting, not unexpected but interesting. The one thing I read which gave me pause is the normal state most young men go through where they’ve a strong pull toward experimentation with homosexuality even though the majority of these young men are NOT homosexual HOWEVER, now you’ve ‘COME-OUT’ so to say and told them they’ve no reason to be ashamed of being gay, it is just an alternate life choice and they were born that way………….I find it hard to keep a straight face (yes, that was intentional) these young men are being found to take the EASY PATH. Guys understand guys but girls are a big threatening mystery. Stay with what is safe, what you now, WHERE YOU WILL GET UNDERSTANDING AND SUPPORT through the troubling teenage years. Does it disturb you in the least you are encouraging a psychological problem in young men who WOULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN TO BE HOMOSEXUAL if you had not made that road seem awfully appealing and a safe OUT from something all young men go through.
    Physically, when you discuss same sex attraction you are again on psychological ground, NOT PHYSICAL which is what you are trying to prove with your HARD SCIENCE argument. The response of the human body in it’s sexual drive is different for male and female. The human male has the urge to (we’re all adults here) insert tab A into slot B and push, repeat if necessary. The amount of phallic stimulation needed with anal sex is much less than that with normal male, female intercourse. It is also PHYSICALLY for the partner in the FEMALE role to achieve a VERY intense orgasm due to the direct stimulation of the prostate. Well, hammering the prostate in this manner year in and year out is not healthy and is responsible for a much higher % of cases of BPH in homosexual men than in heterosexual men. That’s HARD SCIENTIFIC FACT. There is also the fact that ANAL intercourse is NOT normal for either male or female. You seem to have forgotten the natural use of the GI system and the rectum in particular. The amount of stretching which occurs over the years is responsible for additional problems later in life and the discussion there will be left to the gastroenterology crowd. I’d prefer not to go there in polite company. I will only briefly mention the possibility of infection which is a very real risk to both partners which increases over the years as the rectum was never meant to be ‘open to the air’ or when submersed in water, able to take on a different amount of water depending on the individual. Swimming anywhere increases risk. Women are even at greater risk of infection because women who are lesbian are not going to feel the need for monthly birth control. Barrier methods to prevent disease are not going do do anything to alter this and we know how often it is these protections go by the wayside in the heat of passion. Women on the other hand to not have the urge to put anything anywhere, try to put two female connecters of ANYTHING together and they will not work. Same with the male connectors unless you choose to tie those in a knot, they will hold together but they will not function. Women have the urge to be ‘filled’ therefore there are every imaginable type of ‘toy’ as well as gels, liquids, solids etc., to fill a great many Adult entertainment shops. Every two weeks a womens uterus goes through changes to prepare for conception and this includes a change in the mucus plug which normally prevents any kind of infection from entering the uterus through the vagina at any other time than the time when conception is possible. Well, the window on this is somewhere in the area of as long as 5 to 10 days at around day 14 of her cycle when she is ovulating is them time when the risk of infection is greatest but add into this the fact she is going to be at her most sexually receptive to ANY kind of sexual indulgence regardless of the sex of the partner. The danger from toys as well as from oral copulation is again a risk which they are not concerned with and it DOES HAPPEN. Having worked in the ER I will never be surprised at some of the things which both homo and hetero sexuals will do which can wind them in the ER however, the kind of things with which the homosexual could be set with are greater and more serious. I’ll only hit on bisexuals psychologically very briefly, they are considered to be pleasure addicts and are not concerned with who gives them their sexual satisfaction. (We used to joke that bisexuality meant if you wanted it you had to buy it, guess we’re lucky that’s not true).
    The worst of any of the psychological conditions which is being inflicted by the GLBT population is one which I’ve found not even all of the GLB community are comfortable with and this is the idea of the transsexual. I’ve read in the paper there are children as young as 4 years old who insist they are a boy or a girl in contradiction to their true sex. This is something the transsexual community is SUPPORTING??????? You have GOT to be kidding me. How can a child of 4 years old have a CLUE what sex is about and what it means to be attracted to men or women. Answer, they CAN’T! Back when I was young I was what they considered to be a tomboy. I wore jeans rather than dresses, didn’t play with dolls but could be found at the bottom of a pile of guys tackling someone in a game of football. I didn’t pitch underhanded and play softball. I could hit a baseball out of the yard or through the defenses of the other team on a ground ball better than some professional players (or at least I thought so at the time) I was a little girl and I looked 4 when I was in fact 6 and when my grandfather or father took me to a ball game I could call a balk by name before the ref could! The men sitting around us couldn’t believe this little girl knew so much about baseball. Well, I hung on every word and asked 2,000 questions at every game we watched at home and drove my dad and grandfather batty in the beginning but later on there was no one they enjoyed going to a game with more than me! I cried with them when Connie Mack stadium was torn down and still think of the Vet as the new Phillies Stadium and it’s gone in favor of some field named after a bank! The world has gone crazy. However, none of that meant I wanted to actually become a boy and as I got older my view of guys as just companions and partners in crime changed and I’m still kind of a tomboy but I clean up nice.
    God doesn’t make mistakes and no amount of hormonal manipulation (which women have known for years is dangerous and can lead to all kinds of cancer etc., but the trans sexual men who don’t want to finish the change until the surgery is a little more refined are pumping their bodies full of hormones with a known cancer risk and pumping them in at much higher levels than women have to do even to subdue menopause when their estrogen level goes WAY down.
    You really haven’t looked at the information available in the ‘profane’ literature historically from the time of Christ nor have you looked at the different scientific disciplines before coming out with grandiose statements which are from fringe ‘pseudo science’ at best and absolute quackery at worst!
    Lastly, remember freedom of will does NOT MEAN freedom from consequences.
    God bless you, you are still a brother in Christ but I believe you have a little bit of confusion to work through and if you respect Gods word at all you need to work 2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. You have not done so with respect to the truth. The bible is either the revealed word & will of God or it is not, you can not have it both ways and if you like symbolic logic you may be interested in knowing you can prove this is true using symbolic logic but can not prove the reverse. Being that math is perfect science and that symbolic logic is putting words and sentences in the if than tradition so to speak into mathematics!
    Again, God Bless,
    Aylagh

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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