By: Charlie Kelly
Charlie is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Life Connection Group Teacher at Graceland Baptist Church.

The issue of homosexuality looms large in our culture.  We are all affected by this issue, and will be increasingly so.  As Christians, we must accept the challenge of knowing how to respond biblically.


In dealing with the issue of homosexuality there is a “ditch on both sides of the road,” so to speak.  In other words, people have often erred on one side, and then as a knee jerk reaction, a different group has over-compensated and erred on the other side.



One error (ditch) is unbiblical disengagement.  This is most prevalent among my age group (30+) and older, and/or those from a socially conservative background.  While homosexuality is one of the oldest sins in recorded history, in modern western society, it has long been repressed by societal norms (in eastern cultures, it is still repressed).  It is only in recent decades that this sin has begun to be so openly expressed in the West.

 

The way societal repression of homosexuality looked for many people in my age range or background was that we grew up hearing about how gross and disgusting homosexuals were.  They were referred to by derogatory names; we were told any physical contact with them put us at risk of getting AIDS, etc.

 
For many of us who grew up in that milieu, we have “cognitive dissonance,” (we hold two things to be true that can’t go together). On the one hand we believe that all people are sinners and need Jesus, and in another category of our mind we still deal with the undercurrent of how we were brought up to think of homosexuals. 



What is the result?  The result is that we Christians have done a shamefully poor job of evangelizing homosexuals.  Look at 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11a:

Or 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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you

Notice that Paul was talking to a churchat Corinth.  If you looked around that church, you would have seen people that used to walk in all sorts of sins, including homosexuality. 


If you were to tour the churches of America, you would find many former adulterers, thieves and drunks, but of whom would you not find many?  Homosexuals.  Until we can look around our churches and say of homosexuality…”and such were some of you,” then we have much work to do in evangelizing the homosexual community.

The second error (the other side of the ditch) is a dismissive view of the true sinfulness and consequences of homosexuality.

 

There is a tendency in “progressive” Christian circles to claim that homosexuality is not a sin.  They say the apostle Paul was either wrong, speaking only from his limited knowledge of human sexuality, or referring to heterosexuals who were acting unnaturally by performing homosexual acts.  All of these excuses defy the clear biblical message that homosexuality is an “abomination” (Lev. 18:22) and a deviation from God’s original natural order (Rom. 1:26).

 

Romans chapter 1 specifically calls out the sin of homosexuality.  In that chapter, Paul makes the argument that through the suppression of the true knowledge of God humanity can go to extremes in their perversions.  The argument is that if fallen humanity is willing to pervert a most obvious and natural heterosexual relationship in order to commit homosexual acts, they are capable of anything.

Some will argue that the sin of homosexuality is on par with any other sin, such as lying and cheating.  This is true in one sense, and false in another.  It is true in the sense that any sin is enough to separate us from God.  The wages of any sin is spiritual death.  However, all sins are not equal in their consequences or in the degree to which they are a perversion of God’s created order.

 

For the Christian, any sexual sin is a desecration of the temple of God.  1 Corinthians 6:18-19 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” 

 

Homosexuality perverts and destroys the family structure and society.  It inverts the gender roles created by God for human flourishing.  God created men and women differently.  Homosexuality prevents the complimentary functioning of the natural relationship.  This natural relationship is modeled for us by the Trinity, where we see Persons who are equal in essence, yet different in function.  Boys and girls need the developmental influence of a father and mother.  In the Christian community, the church is to intervene on behalf of children who do not have this influence by providing it in community.  As more families lose their ability to function as God created them, we see an increase in the breakdown of the society-at-large because the family unit is the primary unit of society.

 

Homosexuality is a flaunting of the rebellion against God’s created order.  Some homosexuals (and others) may insist they do not recognize God or his law and therefore are not in rebellion.  However, Romans 1 teaches that the truth is made plain to them, but they suppress that truth in order that they may live as they please.

 

Once we are able to avoid veering off into either ditch when dealing with this issue, we can then look ahead and proceed in a biblical manner in dealing with homosexuality.  So what should we do?

 

We should share the good news of Jesus with homosexuals while keeping the following things in mind:
 


1)    Recognize that homosexuals did not arbitrarily choose to have the attractions they do



The reaction of some to homosexuals is, “Well, just quit doing that.”  However, this misunderstands the very real and deep-seeded orientation that comes naturally to those with same-sex attraction.  People who are addicted to drugs would often like to “just quit doing that,” but that is not a realistic way to address these types of issues.

 

Homosexuality can most often be attributed to a problem occurring during the developmental process of the early childhood years.  It is usually a “nurture” not a “nature” problem.  Some would argue that it is indeed an issue of nature because they believe it is genetic.  However, even if it were genetic in nature, the fact that people have a natural inclination to something does not give moral justification to that action.  According to a biblical worldview, we are all born with a sinful nature and, therefore, an inclination to sin.  It is genetic, because we have inherited our fallen nature from our father Adam.  However, the fact that our sin nature is inherited does not excuse us before God.  He holds us accountable.
 

2)    Recognize that we are all sexual sinners

 
Christians should never look down their noses at homosexuals as if they were not sexual sinners themselves.  Homosexuality is one way that sexual sin is manifested, but we have all manifested it in some form.  Jesus took to task those who wrongly thought they had not broken sexual laws.  In Matthew 5:27-28, he says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”


When we approach a homosexual, we do so as a fellow sexual sinner who is also in need of a great Savior.  The foot of the cross is level ground.  We show them that just as God has forgiven us of our sexual sins, so he can forgive them as well.

 

3)    Recognize that sanctification is a hard, life-long process, but is accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit

 
There is no magic pill for sin.  It is a rare occasion that a new believer suddenly loses all their former fleshly urges relating to their vices upon becoming born again.  The former drunk will usually still feel the urge to take the easy way out of problems.  The former porn addict will usually still feel the cravings of the lust of the eyes.  The former thief will usually still feel the itch that he knows can be scratched by his old ways.  In the same way, a former homosexual may have to continue fighting against his sexual urges by taking every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).

 

The difference between we Christians now, and our former selves, is that we no longer have to sin.  We formerly sinned because we freely chose in our sinful nature to do what came natural.  But having been brought to spiritual life and given a new nature, we now have the ability to walk in the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16).  Those who truly belong to Christ (including those struggling with same sex attraction) are part of the golden chain of redemption found in Romans 8:29-30:

 

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

 
There are no dropouts.  And no one in this group will be able to say they were not a sexual sinner.  While the earthly future for believers may be difficult, it is not a struggle to be something we are not, but a Spirit-empowered march towards being what we already are.  All Christians, by virtue of their new nature and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, are able to resist the sins to which they were once enslaved and offer their body up to God as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).

 

In summary, homosexuals need the gospel.  We all need the gospel.  It is the hope for reconciliation with God and the restoration of all aspects of our humanity, including our sexuality.  We are to take the gospel with wisdom, humility and love.  It is with wisdom that we will not be dissuaded by the political correctness of this age.  It is with humility that we will see our own selves rightly.  And it is with love that we will properly reflect the attitude of a God whom we love, because while we were still sexual sinners, he first loved us.

3 Responses to “How Should Christians Respond to the Issue of Homosexuality?”

  1. Joanna K. Harris on

    I appreciate your perspective on this sensitive issue. However, I think it’s important to keep some other thoughts in mind as well.

    First of all, I agree that we certainly cannot look down on homosexuals or think we are ‘better’ than them because we have all sinned and are equal before God in terms of deserving punishment for our sin. However, I believe there is a huge difference between having a lustful thought, which is quickly rejected and replaced with pure thoughts, than actually carrying out an act of immorality or sexual sin. The act of sexual sin is certainly MUCH different than the thought. I believe Jesus’ words indicated that even the thought was sin, but not equating the thought with the act in its essence or value. If we equate the thought with the act, then people would begin to say, ‘well I already sinned because I thought it, so I might as well do it.’ Wrong. Just because I may think about telling someone off, doesn’t mean I will let the words come out of my mouth. Yes, both the thought and words are sin. But letting the words come out is different in the consequences and results. The same is true of impure thoughts versus impure acts.

    Secondly, I disagree with the statement that we are all sexual sinners. The reason is because this is an important issue of identity. I don’t think it’s right to say every person is a “sexual sinner” because once we believe in Christ, we are purified of ALL our sin, and God no longer sees us as “sinners.” That is not our identity anymore. Yes, we still sin, but we are now called “Saints”. I think there is danger of adopting a wrong identity by saying “we are all sexual sinners.” That just reinforces in our hearts that we will continue to do what our identity indicates. The truth is that we are Holy, Righteous, and Blameless in Christ. (Eph. 1) We need to continually refocus our identity on who Jesus is, even in the midst of temptation and sin. We need to confront temptation by saying, “I am righteous in Christ…because Jesus lives in me I am pure and holy….” These kinds of things reinforce our true identity and empower us not to yield to sin or temptation.

    This may seem like splitting hairs, but I’m realizing more and more how ‘little’ things that we say or believe actually have big ramifications in how we live and behave. Yes, we still sin, but we are no longer slaves to sin. We are IN CHRIST, and in Him we have the power to live out our true identity, as we think about who HE is and focus on His righteousness, not dwell on ourselves. Let’s not miss the power of both understanding and speaking the truth of our new identity in Christ. We need to practice saying we are saints and righteous in Christ – so we will live like that, not continue saying we are sinners – or we will end up living that like.

    Just some thoughts. Hope they’re helpful. =)

    Reply
  2. Joanna K. Harris on

    Hi Charlie, I just saw your reply and read your comment.
    I agree with you that before God sin is sin. There is nothing “less sinful” or “more sinful.” What I intended to communicate was that there is a difference in ‘value’ of sin, in terms of how it impacts our lives and others’ lives. Some sins are more damaging to us and to others (as Paul mentioned in 1 Cor. 6:18). So I think we’re probably saying the same thing, just from different ways of looking at it.
    Praise God that He has forgiven ALL our sins because Jesus bore them on the cross! Hallelujah! =)

    Reply

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)