We finished Romans 1 last week, but before we move on to chapter 2, I want to spend our time this morning looking at the subject of homosexuality and what our response to it should be.
We live in an age of increasing acceptance and approval of homosexuality. Homosexuality is portrayed by many in government, in public education and in our colleges and universities as just one of many normal, legitimate lifestyle choices. Those who oppose the homosexual lifestyle on moral and religious grounds are usually portrayed by the intellectual elite; the media and the entertainment industry as ignorant bigots who are full of hatred, "homophobic," and so on.
We saw last week that Paul specifically addresses homosexuality in:
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans 1:26-27 NASB
The phrase, "gave them over" is from the Greek paradoken, which is the first aorist active indicative of paradidomi. It means: "to turn someone over to judgment." It is a verb that is put in the active voice stressing the activity of God. God is acting in a positive overt move of judgment.
The word "function" is the Greek word chresis, which is a very well established term for sexual intercourse. And that is exactly what he's talking about. They carry on a sexual activity contrary to the intention of the creator. "Natural" here means: "in keeping with how God has designed people," and unnatural refers to behavior that is contrary to how God has made us.
So what Paul is saying here is that because of their rejection of Him, God turned men over to the judgment of homosexuality. Homosexuality is the judgment, according to Paul.
Sorokin, in his book Sexual Revolution says, "When the ruling group and the society as a whole relax their code of sexual morality, within three generations there is usually a cultural decline, as was the case in the later stages of the Babylonian, the Persian, the Macedonian, the Mongol, the Greek, and the Roman civilizations."
America is being judged. Will we be destroyed? One of the most critical issues in the preservation of our society is the societies attitudes and actions toward homosexuality. It was not that long ago in our country when if a person chose to practice homosexuality, he had to be careful to hide it. If news of it got out, he would be ostracized in one way or another, because our society viewed homosexuality as something extremely shameful. Today society has become very tolerant of homosexuality. We need to understand the destruction that this sin brings. Look with me at:
And the LORD said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. "I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know." Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD. Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account." Genesis 18:20-26 NASB
So Abraham bargains with God how about 45, or 40 or 30 or 20?
Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten." As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place. Genesis 18:32-33 NASB
God couldn't find ten righteous people. The corruption had permeated the whole society. I fear that this is happening in our country. The sin of homosexuality is becoming acceptable and thus spreading.
Why is this sin spreading so fast? Why is it becoming so widely acceptable? I think that it is because behind this sin is a movement, a sub-culture. Homosexuals have a support network. What other sin do you know of that has a support network? Have you ever heard of a liars bar where all the liars go to drink? Have you ever seen murderers marching in the streets for their rights? Or how about fornicators' pride week?
When did the homosexual movement start? The opinions differ on this, some say, The New York Gay Ball in 1965; the police raid on the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich village in 1969; Gay Pride Week in 1970, where twenty thousand marched in New York City alone--each has been cited as the birth of the homosexual movement.
This movement is no longer poor or unorganized. Its leaders are highly motivated, tactically trained, and heavily financed. They are skilled in communication, education, politics and, often, religion. They are single mindedly dedicated to one task: making the homosexual lifestyle an integrated and accepted part of American culture, thus removing the restraints and opening the flood gate of wickedness.
In a matter of a few decades the homosexual movement has measurably transformed the nation's perception of homosexuality. It has made great strides toward disassociating homosexual behavior from sin, and identifying it as a legitimate alternative lifestyle. They have had the full cooperation of the media on this; television, movies, public schools. If it is not sin, then the restraints are gone. If it is publically accepted, then the restraints are gone.
Those once hostile to it, now tolerate it; those once tolerant of it, now embrace it. Most people, Christians included, have gradually acclimated to the commonness of homosexual behavior. We have been and are being desensitized to its unnaturalness and sinfulness. If the next twenty years proceed like the last, homosexuality will be taken for granted by most Americans.
To begin to understand the homosexual movement, we must be aware of some basic doctrines that govern homosexual attitudes and behavior. Here are some of the major beliefs of the homosexual movement.
1. Homosexuality is an inborn nature--not an illness, not a choice, and not subject to change by an act of the will, psychological therapy, or religious experience.
I think that different people are inclined to different sins, some are inclined to drunkenness, some to adultery, some to stealing. Let's think about that. Let's say a man is born a kleptomaniac. Should society give him the freedom to steal? What if a man has a natural tendency toward adultery? Should it be approved? What if a person has the inborn nature to murder, or rape? Should all forms of sin be approved?
Personally I believe that all men are inclined to immorality, but we must go against that inclination and live a holy life. Many Christian men give in to this inclination and commit immorality.
2. Homosexuality is as natural as heterosexuality, it just happens to occur less frequently. It is not an undesirable condition except for its social stigma, which is the result of misguided or hateful homophobics.
Well first and primarily Paul says that it is unnatural. To say that it is natural is to deny the plain truth of Scripture.
Why do people react so strongly against this sin? I think it is because it is unnatural. What other sin do you know of that people attack, beat and even kill people because of? We don't have murder bashers, or liar bashers, or fornication bashers. Why so much hatred toward this sin? Because it is unnatural!
People who speak out against the practice as immoral are dubbed "homophobiacs" as though they now should be the ones in hiding. So now the evil of homosexuality has been surpassed by the evil of "homophobia." It is not that we are afraid of homosexuality ("homophobia"); but we do not apologize for being opposed to it! Opposition to homosexuality is not shameful; it is homosexuality that is shameful, as are all forms of immorality. Don't let them twist things and make us the bad guys because we won't accept their sin.
3. Homosexuals constitute as legitimate a minority as blacks or Mexicans. Homosexual rights are just as valid as women's rights.
The last I knew being black, Mexican, or a woman was not a sin. But the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.
4. Homosexuals should openly acknowledge their condition--"come out of closet"-- and live their desired lifestyle. They should be proud, not ashamed, to pursue homosexual relationships.
Should any sin make us proud? I don't want adultery or fornication flaunted in front of me any more than I want homosexuality flaunted.
5. Those homosexuals who embrace the Christian faith, (a significant number) argue that God created them as they are, accepts them as they are, and endorses a lifestyle in keeping with the nature He had given them.
We are being told that Bible believing evangelicals are the problem, because we say that homosexuality is a sin. Well that's what we say because that is what the Bible says.
They are trying to make homosexuality sound innocent and very harmless, but it's not. It has physical results that are so far reaching that they now have new classifications for diseases that occur only among homosexuals.
There is built into this thing exactly what it says in:
and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans 1:27 NASB
Homosexuality has built in consequences. AIDS could end up being the worst epidemic our world has ever experienced. The reason AIDS is spreading so fast is because of the homosexual's multiple partners. "The Village Voice" estimates the number of partners in the life of a male homosexual at more than 1600.
Here are some characteristics of the homosexual sub-culture. Distinctively homosexual businesses are increasingly common. There are not only gay restaurants but gay dental practices, gay insurance agencies, and at least one gay savings and loan. A homosexual newspaper advertises Realty Referrals, a "free nationwide service which puts you in touch with an agent who appreciates your lifestyle and knows the local gay community where you are about to buy or sell."
Gay student organizations, that were once nonexistent and then underground, are now almost as accepted as speech clubs and ski teams. Often they are involved in the school newspapers and use them for prohomosexual propaganda.
In 1973 the board of the American Psychiatric Association, under pressure from the National Gay Task Force, changed its official position by declaring that homosexuality was not an illness. I agree, it is not an illness, it is a sin.
Given this backdrop, it should come as no surprise that the media, educators, government agencies are increasingly portraying homosexuality in a more favorable light. Tragically, the most potent endorsement of the homosexual movement has come from the organized church. In the literature of forty years ago, it is difficult to find any serious defenses of homosexuality by professing Christians. One of the first, and certainly the most significant, was Derrick Sherwin Bailey's Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, published in 1955. Only sixteen years after Bailey's work, a United Methodist church in San Francisco married two homosexual men, to the applause and cheers of five hundred others. Ten years later, the First United Methodist Church of Boulder, Colorado, kept Rev. Julian Rush as minister of youth and education despite his publicly acknowledged homosexuality and his active role in Denver's Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Later two admitted homosexuals were ordained to the Methodist ministry.
How Christianity deals with homosexuality is of paramount importance to the homosexual movement, for despite our "post-Christian era," Christianity remains a powerful force in America.
Religion and morality have always been two sides of the same coin. Nothing affects attitudes, behavior, and tolerance levels like religious beliefs. Therefore, if any cause is to find acceptance, it must win over the churches. This is especially true of any cause that apparently violates traditional church doctrines.
How the church portrays the homosexual lifestyle will determine the beliefs of many, whether or not that portrayal is in harmony with the Scripture.
It would be easy to conclude only liberal churches endorse the homosexual lifestyle. On the contrary, the largest homosexual denomination in the country is the "evangelical" Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC).
The first Metropolitan Community Church was founded in Los Angeles in 1966 by Rev. Troy Perry, formerly an ordained Pentecostal minister and author of The Lord Is My Shepherd and He Knows I'm Gay. In six years, Metropolitan boasted more than thirty-nine chartered congregations and forty-three missions and study groups, with a combined membership exceeding seventeen thousand. In ten years, it grew to sixty-seven thousand, in well over a hundred locations across the world.
Their doctrinal statement was solidly evangelical. They believe in the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the resurrection, and salvation by grace. They promote evangelistic outreach. They perform evangelical weddings, but with one twist--most couples married are of the same sex.
Tony Jones who is an author and church leader in the Emergent Church Movement says that he believes "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and queer" individuals can and should live out their sexuality in--and blessed by--the Christian Church.
Like all other sinners, people involved in homosexuality try to justify their sin. So homosexual churches have a homosexual theology in an attempt to biblically defend their homosexual lifestyle. Their theology states:
1. The sin of Sodom was inhospitality, not homosexuality (this contracts Jude 7):
2. The First Testament prohibitions against homosexuality are in the same class with prohibitions against eating rabbits and oysters and picking up sticks on the Sabbath; in other words, they are no longer relevant.
3. Prohibitions against homosexuality were applied only to priests, and even then for matters of ritual and symbolic purity.
4. Homosexuality was prohibited because of Israel's obsession with population growth.
5. Jesus never condemned homosexuality.
6. David and Jonathan, the Apostle Paul, and Jesus Himself may have been homosexuals.
Some verses that the homosexuals use to say that David and Jonathan were homosexuals are:
Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. 1 Samuel 18:1 NASB
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt. 1 Samuel 18:3-4 NASB
When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, but David wept the more. 1 Samuel 20:41 NASB
We know that God's Law strictly condemned homosexuality:
'If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them. Leviticus 20:13 NASB
Notice what the Scriptures says about David:
Now Saul was afraid of David, for the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. 1 Samuel 18:12 NASB
Would God have been with David if he had been a homosexual? No! Homosexuality is an abomination to the Lord.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say about this sin.
God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Genesis 1:27-28 NASB
The text says, "male (zakar) and female (neqebah)," He created them. In the beginning God created one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve). God did not create two men, or two women. God created Adam first from the dust of ground; He then created Eve from Adam's rib. Eve was created to be Adam's wife. God's creation of one man and one woman to be husband and wife is the pattern, or paradigm, for God-sanctioned, normal, moral, blessed sexual relations.
How can homosexuals carry out the command of verse 28? God's created intention was for man and woman to bear children. Marriage is the union of a man and women. The Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said that there is only one moral, legitimate outlet for man's God-given sex drive--marriage:
But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 1 Corinthians 7:2 NASB
Monogamous, heterosexual marriage is the only way to have sex without sin and guilt.
The Bible condemns all sexual activity outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage: homosexuality, premarital sex, polygamy, adultery, bestiality and so on.
The first reference to homosexuality in Scripture is in the infamous account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. The wickedness of the men of that city is obvious and is of such a severe nature that it brought divine destruction upon the entire city:
Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them." Genesis 19:4-5 NASB
What did they mean by "relations" with them? This is talking about sex. They weren't interested in women, their lust was for the men:
But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway. Genesis 19:10-11 NASB
How strong is their lust that even after they have been blinded by the angels, they still keep trying to find the door and get to the men?:
for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it." Genesis 19:13 NASB
Why was this city destroyed? Was it for lack of hospitality? The Bible answers this question in the book of Jude:
just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:7 NASB
They were destroyed for gross immorality not a lack of hospitality:
Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. Genesis 19:24-25 NASB
This all happened before the law was ever given. Once the law was given, we are told that it is an abomination:
'You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 'Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. 'Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. Leviticus 18:22-24 NASB
The New Testament has the same thing to say about this sin. We have already looked at Romans 1, but Paul also talks about this sin in:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 1 Corinthians 6:9 NASB
Paul condemns this sin, it is unrighteous behavior and it will be judged by God. The Bible says that homosexuality is "unclean," "impure," "dishonoring to the body," "vile," "degrading/disgraceful," "contrary to nature," "unseemly/ obscene," "improper activity of a depraved mind," "unrighteous," "wicked," etc.
Could a Christian be involved in this sin? Do you remember Ted Haggard? He was the founder and pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, which had a congregation of 14,000. In November 2006, prostitute and masseur Mike Jones alleged that Haggard had paid Jones to engage in sex with him for three years and had also purchased and used crystal methamphetamine. A few days later Haggard resigned from all of his leadership positions. This past June he started another church.
Believers, Christians are not exempt from any sin. I have personally known two Christians that were involved in homosexuality. One of them died of AIDS. The other I counseled with and shared with him what the Bible said about homosexuality. He repented of the sin and is now married and faithfully serving Christ.
Jerry Arterburn was a believer who got involved in homosexuality. He wrote a book called, How Will I Tell My Mother? Let me share with you some of the things that he said about it. "The first homosexual advance came at a church camp and the second at a church picnic. The process of my converting to a homosexual lifestyle didn't happen over night. It was so gradual I didn't even know it was happening, because in the beginning, I thought I was merely making new friends. It was the first time I felt truly accepted. The feeling of being accepted was overwhelming. That acceptance, more than any other aspect of the gay world, hooked me into the culture." Jerry repented of homosexuality and later died of AIDS.
This is not an alternative lifestyle, it is a sin. God uses Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of the devastating effects of God's judgment. Sodom is a picture of devastation. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Lamentations, and Amos all use Sodom as an illustration of Judgment. Jesus uses it, as does Peter and Paul, as an illustration of God's vengeance. Sodom and Gomorrah is the severest example of judgment because homosexuality is sin at its worst.
It is sad when the church accepts this sin under the guise of love. If you really loved them, you would tell them their sin. The Bible condemns homosexuality, don't miss this. So the real menace of society is not those who oppose immorality, but those who promote it. When Christians claim that God did not create homosexuals, that He rejects and judges homosexual behavior, homosexuals become angry. When we claim that God forgives and cleanses homosexuality, they are offended ("Who needs forgiveness?"). But when Christians claim that the power of God can help homosexuals break out of their lifestyle, they are outraged. For if God can empower men and women to live in sexual purity, then the homosexual movement is stripped of its most basic tenet: that homosexuality is not a choice and that restraining homosexual drives and abstaining from homosexual behavior is either unnatural or impossible.
How do we respond to Homosexuals? When you see a homosexual, do you look down on them with contempt? Do you get involved in gay bashing? Or do you say, "There, but for the grace of God go I."
When asked, Who is my neighbor? What was Jesus' response? He tells the story of the good Samaritan and then asks:
"Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers' hands?" Luke 10:36 NASB
Jesus asks, "Who is the neighbor?" Most commentators and Bible teachers say that your neighbor is anyone with a need. According to the text, who is the neighbor?:
And he said, "The one who showed mercy toward him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do the same." Luke 10:37 NASB
Who is the neighbor? The one who showed mercy. Who was that? The guy that was beaten up? No! It was the Samaritan! So what is the answer to the man's original question: Who is my neighbor? The Samaritan! Who is it that you have to love? The Samaritans! Jesus was forcing this man to say: Even the person who I despise, the person who I don't even think is human. Even my enemy is my neighbor. Jesus says to the man: You go, love your enemy!
This is exactly what Jesus taught in the "Sermon on the Mount":
"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.' 44 "But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you Matthew 5:43-44 NASB
Jesus is teaching that we are to love our enemies. This is completely radical teaching! This is powerful teaching about the inclusiveness of love. The kind of love that Jesus advocates even embraces our enemies.
To those listening to Jesus that day, this must have seemed like an impossibility. How could anyone love his or her enemy? Enemies don't evoke love in anyone. Jesus, however, wanted to make a point that He considered our neighbor to include our enemies. In other words, no one is outside the scope of our love, or no one should be. We then are called to manifest love to all people.
Who are our Samaritans? I think it's different for each of us. Jesus is saying: I want you to love the person that you think is the most disgusting, the person you despise the most. That person that you don't even view as human. Love them. This includes homosexuals. We must lovingly reach out to them with the Gospel.
What about Christians who are involved in homosexuality? How are we to respond to them? Paul tells us in:
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 NASB
Somehow, we have gotten Paul's instruction backwards; we tolerate Christian sinners and will not associate with unbelieving sinners. We are to have no fellowship with any believer that lives in any kind of immorality, not just fornicators.
"So-called brother"--is a interpretation not a translation. The text says "If any man that is named a brother"--the "if" is a third class condition in the Greek, a supposable case. The phrase "not to associate with" is the translation of one Greek word, sunanamignumi, which means "to mingle together with." It is found only here and in 2 Thessalonians 3:14. We are not to socialize or eat with such a person. Do you see any exception clauses here? Does it say you are not to eat with him unless he is a really good friend, or a relative? Or unless everyone else is eating with him? Clearly, if a believer is living in sin and has been confronted with his sin and has not repented, other believers are not to have any fellowship with him. Fellowship is not to be broken without confrontation, however. Other believers' only contact with him should be to confront him in his sin and call him to repentance.
Some say that this does not supersede the relationship of a husband and wife or parent and child; they say the family relationship should never be severed for such discipline. Is that right? Does God break fellowship with His children because of sin? Do you remember Jesus saying "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Jesus Christ and God the Father lost fellowship when Christ was bearing our sin.
Believers, we are to be the conscience of our society. We must lovingly take a stand against sin. We must say what the Bible says. We have a moral obligation to teach the truth of God--no matter what our society says.
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