Normally there are two sides in the debate over homosexuality within the Christian church. Usually the conservatives believe the following points:
- Homosexuality is an abomination.
- Homosexuality is chosen.
- Homosexuals can change after repentance.
- No Christian can be a homosexual.
As opposed to that, you have what liberals claim:
- Homosexuality is not an abomination.
- Homosexuality is not chosen.
- Homosexuals can’t just change after repentance.
- Christians can be homosexual.
If you didn’t notice it, conservatives and liberals usually disagree on every single point of the debate. And it seems as if neither side will give ground.
But, as with everything, usually the truth of the matter is somewhere in the middle.
First and foremost, a difference needs to be made between the orientation of homosexuality and the actions of homosexual relations.
To put it differently, there is a significant difference between a person naturally desiring a person of the same sex and a person actually having sexual relations with another person of the same sex.
What does the Bible say about each of these?
Well, the Bible is clear that homosexual relations are sins. And this is not exclusive to those with a homosexual orientation (e.g., porn stars or experimenters). Indeed, it applies to all men and women, to those with a homosexual orientation and to those without a homosexual orientation.
The Scriptural command against homosexual relations comes in part from 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11. But one of the most explicit passages against this particular sin is from Leviticus 18. I would recommend reading through that entire chapter because it illuminates that homosexual relations are classified as being similar to all manner of other perversions of God’s gift of sex, including bestiality and incest.
As theologians note, the Ten Commandments are paradigms or perfect expressions of certain types of evil actions. The Heidelberg Catechism notes about the Ninth Commandment, which is about not bearing false witness, that it can be extended even so far as to require us to “do what [we] can to guard and advance [our] neighbor’s good name.”
This is what large parts of the Law are about. Not all of the Pentateuch is about ceremonial or civil laws, but, instead, much of it is about explaining and describing other cases in which the Ten Commandments apply. It extends the meaning of the paradigms.
So too, with the Seventh Commandment, we have a paradigm for sexual deviancy, adultery, which, when extended to all forms of sexual deviancy, excludes us from engaging in homosexual relations.
Therefore, the Bible is clear that homosexual relations are evil.
Turning now to that which has been called a “homosexual orientation,” the Bible has little to say about it, except that maybe it is a part of one’s sinful nature. The Bible is very clear that men are born with such evil natures, one that is naturally inclined towards all manner of wickedness.
Why is one’s homosexual orientation any different?
That’s right. It’s not.
We all have a sinful nature, and some might just have such a nature that is more inclined towards homosexual relations than other people, putting those particular men and women at a greater risk for that particular type of sin.
It doesn’t seem any different from a person naturally being inclined due to his sinful nature to gluttony or self-exaltation.
Moreover, just like we don’t choose any of our other desires, we don’t choose our sexual orientation, which is merely a fancy term to designate our sexual preferences.
I (a male) am sexually attracted to women. I can’t help it; I can’t choose to like men. I just don’t.
Furthermore, there are things in my life that I just like, and other things that I just don’t like. For example, I like mashed potatoes. I can’t explain it; I just do. But, I hate tomatoes, and there is nothing I can do about it.
It seems utterly foolish to say that we can choose our own desires.
After all, our choices are based upon our desires. So, if we choose our desires, then we choose a desire from a desire which was itself chosen, which was based in a desire, which was itself chosen… And the regress begins.
So, whereas conservatives understand that homosexual relations are sinful (and chosen), they fail to appreciate the fact that homosexual orientations are not chosen. However, whereas liberals understand that homosexual orientations are not chosen, they fail to appreciate the fact that homosexual relations are sinful (but chosen).
Continued, because of the nature of sin, and because of the way in which Christ sanctifies, both liberals and conservatives are partially correct on the third point.
Though the power of Christ is incomprehensible and can indeed radically change people, this is not usually how God works. No, usually God works by gradually sanctifying us and continually showing us our sins so that we are utterly dependent upon Him. Romans 7:21-25 reads:
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
Truly, with the new nature that Christ gives His people, it is possible for a homosexual to turn from delighting in homosexual relations altogether, valuing Christ infinitely more than the fleeting pleasures of this world. However, this is not likely. Most likely, a homosexual, after conversion, will still have impulses towards homosexual relations; and, you know what, sometimes they might just fail at resisting their temptations, just like we heterosexuals fail at times to resist the lusts of the flesh.
Finally, regarding the last point of the debate, both conservatives and liberals are partially correct again.
If we define a homosexual as a man who has repented of homosexual relations and wants to be a new person for Christ, then we can genuinely welcome him into the Christian brotherhood. We are all sinners, saved by grace, and we welcome anyone who genuinely loves the Lord.
But, for a homosexual who willfully and stubbornly continues to engage in homosexual relations, in his sin, unrepentant before God’s commands, I would be hard-pressed to call him a Christian. Yes, we are all sinners before God, but this does not mean we should delight in what God has expressly forbidden. In complete seriousness, a person who actively delights in his own sin and never feels remorse for his actions is probably not a man of God.
Because of this, the conservative needs to be more welcoming of homosexuals, and the liberal less welcoming.
As said, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
And it is.
It truly is.
– The Odd Thinker
For further reading from The Odd Thinker, see the following: