It was my intention to continue our study of "The Feasts of the Lord" today, but the events of this week compelled me to switch gears and focus on current events. Next week we'll resume our study on the feasts.
There have been some events lately that have grieved my heart greatly and I would like to address them this morning.
On June 26, 2003 the Supreme Court issued a decision that effectively struck down all state anti-sodomy laws. As unlikely as it once might have seemed, it was a Ronald Reagan appointee to the Supreme Court who, more than any other person, triggered a series of events that may lead to legal recognition for gay marriages in every state. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the broad language of the court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas striking down anti-sodomy laws.
He said the liberty that is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution "Gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex."
"When a state criminalizes sodomy, it creates," Kennedy said, "An invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres." If, as Kennedy seems to be implying, states can't discriminate against gays in the public sphere, then what basis can there be for a state ban on gay marriage?
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is expected to rule soon on whether to legalize gay marriage in that state. If the court okays gay marriages in Massachusetts, it may lead to at least partial recognition by other states of gay marriages.
Aside from the Supreme Court ruling, on July 29, President Bush affirmed his position that marriage is "between a man and a woman". This followed news that a program for homosexual public high school students in New York City was planning to admit even more teens.
As troubling as that is, what happened this past week is even worse, because it centers on the church.
This past Tuesday, August 5, 2003, The Episcopal Church's House of Bishops voted to elevate the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an avowed homosexual, to bishop of New Hampshire.
Robinson said of his confirmation to Bishop, "I'm certain there will be a few for whom this will be so troublesome that they cannot stay, but I will be doing everything I can, and I believe the entire Episcopal Church will do everything we can to work with these folks," he said, adding that reconciliation is in the church's "very best tradition."
In his appearance on the "Today" show, Robinson, said he hoped other denominations would follow the example of the Episcopal Church and be more accepting of gays and lesbians. He said, "I suspect that before too very long, other denominations will follow and welcome openly gay and lesbian people into leadership positions. That's certainly my prayer."
I believe that that kind of prayer must make God sick! He is praying for what God has pronounced as an abomination:
Leviticus 18:22 (NKJV) 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.
The world has accepted homosexuality as "normal" but what is really troubling is the church is doing the same thing - it is acting as if homosexuality is normal.
It should come as no surprise that the world has declared homosexuality a behavioral norm. In a September, 1992 editorial in The New York Times, Dr. Richard Isay asserts that a "Consensus is growing among mental health professionals that homophobia, the irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals, is a psychological abnormality that interferes with the judgment and reliability of those afflicted." I say is chairman of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Issues Committee, of the American Psychiatric Association.
How quickly the world changes. Not long ago, psychiatrists believed homosexuality was a form of mental illness. Now they say homosexuality is normal, while those who oppose it have a mental illness. It is easy to see the total lack of scientific validity of psychiatry or psychology when one understands how their theories are established. Whatever the popular view of the world may be, the "psychological sciences" are sure to support that view.
Irrational thoughts and hatred have nothing to do with what God says about the subject, but that is not how the world sees it. If a Christian condones homosexuality, he is in open rebellion to the Word of God. On the other hand, if a believer opposes homosexuality, the world says he is irrational, hateful and cannot make a reliable judgment. Also, if a person does not accept homosexuality as a perfectly normal expression of love, the world says he is mentally ill.
If you look at the pictures of the news reports of a recent Gay Pride march, you'll notice the tone of some of the posters and banners they carry. A couple of them read "It's not about religion," and "Hate is not a family value," and many more carry similar slogans. A comment was made by one of the marchers, "All this hate seems so un-Christian."
The posters at the first Gay Pride march in 1970 had a very different tone. The posters carried back then had slogans such as, "2-4-6-8, gay is just as good as straight"; and "Not all of us walk poodles"; and, "Better blatant than latent."
If you compare the current marches to the first one, the thing that immediately catches your attention is the sharp contrast in the language of the two sets of posters drawn up nearly 30 years apart. The first march was aimed at the culture, and used the language of legitimacy. The Gay Pride movement followed the approach of the Women's Lib and the Civil Rights' movement, being vocal and visible. But after this 30-year time frame, their target has shifted from the culture to the church. Why the shift?
For one thing, the goals are much different now. The initial byword was "acceptance," an aim that has been achieved already in large degree in our culture. The homosexual agenda finds a promotional voice in much of the media, and many companies now offer benefits to same-sex couples. The goal now is for moral legitimization, with a strong push on in some states to legitimize same-sex "marriages," and even stronger pushes for ordination of homosexuals in several of the mainline denominations. Just how much the media provides a platform to support homosexuality is easy to see just by watching any number of television shows. Two new cable TV shows have generated endless chatter and record ratings: "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," about five homosexual men who give fashion-unconscious straight men makeovers, and, on the same channel, a reality dating show, "Boy Meets Boy."
The place we find ourselves now, 30 years down the road from the beginnings of the movement, is the result of some very savvy leaders in the movement, who knew from the outset the power of the media to sway public opinion, and made the necessary political maneuvering from within the media to gain support. With that kind of power and support, the only battle left to win is the battle for moral legitimacy as well. And since the ultimate source of morality is God, the battleground has now shifted to the church. And the same tactics are being employed to win the battle there as were employed to win the media battle: conquer from within. So the controversies arise from most of the major denominations each time they meet in large sessions, and the reason they do goes right back to the acceptance and support already gained: if the power of the media is on your side, and you make a lot of noise, you can be assured of maximum coverage (and maximum slant) on the evening news.
Another shift that has occurred involves the language used to describe homosexual behavior. The early expression was "sexual preference," a term that was used in the first Gay Pride march. Something about the term didn't quite seem to suit someone, though, and a gradual shift led to the later development of the term "alternate lifestyle." That one was fated to change also, giving way to the current one, "sexual orientation." Now even that one may be on the way out, to be exchanged for "sexual identity." The reason for the shift is quite obvious: a move had to be made to extract their own self-description from the language of choice. "Sexual preference" was a definite description of personal choice, a term that was used at a time when homosexuality was widely viewed as a choice. "Alternate lifestyle" was somewhat better, but it still left the idea of choice dangling in there; "alternate" implying one of several options, and "lifestyle" implying something selected as well. "Sexual orientation" probably was carefully selected, since "orientation" slides the meaning a bit more toward something innate and beyond choice. But "sexual identity" is the strongest term yet, and will probably gain quick acceptance and usage.
The current use of the term "sexual orientation" has come about largely because of the genetic "research" done by one man, Dean Hamer. Many people who have seen the results of this "evidence", plastered on the front pages of newspapers and television screens, have simply bought into the idea that those involved in homosexual behavior "can't help it." How reliable was his work? The basic finding upon which his conclusions were based was a study of 40 homosexual, non-twin brothers, analyzing the X chromosomes. 33 of the pairs had five identical lengths of DNA on the tip of the strand. Somewhere within the hundreds of genes contained in this small piece, says Hamer, we will find the "gay gene" responsible for homosexuality. In other words, the evidence is not totally conclusive, and the "gay gene" has not been located. This research followed an earlier study suggesting that a small structure in the brain was smaller in gay men than in straight men.
The strange tendency of such studies has been to overstate the results. For instance, Science Magazine, in its report stated, "Scientists, educators, policy makers and the public should work together to ensure that such research is used to benefit all members of society." Ordinarily, yes. But when the media take studies with inconclusive evidence and portray them as solid scientific fact, forgive us, the listening, reading, and viewing public, if we smell a rat. The solid fact is that "none of the studies on gay brains, gay genes, or transsexual brains has been replicated by other labs. One of Hamer's ex-collaborators even accused him of, "Selecting only data that support his hypothesis." These accusations caused Hamer to be put under investigation by the Office of Research Integrity. The question must arise also why Hamer was conducting this study in the first place, since he is not a geneticist, but a molecular biologist with the National Cancer Institute. He is also a Homosexual Activist.
It has also been pointed out that, "Most or all homosexuality requires an environmental, as well as a biological, push. The fact that half of all the identical-twin brothers of homosexuals are heterosexual, renders it exceedingly unlikely that much homosexuality is caused by biology alone." Even Hamer himself admits, "We already know that half or more of the variability in sexual orientation is not inherited. Our studies try to pinpoint the genetic factors, not to negate the psycho social factors."
Let's take a look at what other factors have to tell us about genetic links. According to Time Magazine in 1970, "Sociologists reckon that the nation's homosexual population, open and secret, is about 4,000,000," or about 2% of the total population. By 1980, according to a Christianity Today article, the figure was estimated as between 10-15%. Looking at figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, from 1970 to 1980, it increased by 11.4%, from 203.3 million to 226.5 million. That was down from a 13.4% increase for the previous ten-year period, and the increase from 1980 to 1990 was down even further to 9.8%. Going back to the estimates of the homosexual population, even if we take the more conservative figure of 10% offered in Christianity Today, 10% of 226.5 million is 22.65 million. In other words, at a time when the general population increase has been on a steady decline, the homosexual population has increased exponentially, at a rate of over 400% between 1970 and 1980 alone! That flies in the face of the suggestions of the role that the genetic link plays in homosexuality. In fact, that totally undermines any true scientific logic that relates to the field of genetics. Scientists tell us that we are evolving, and that certain characteristics become more or less prominent through the process of "natural selection." If this were true, then when we speak of genetic links to homosexuality, and when we consider the fact that far fewer homosexuals actually reproduce and pass on those genes--then how in the world could homosexuality be that much on the increase? Even when we factor in the potential for genetic anomalies that occurred during that particular decade, such as Three Mile Island, the Love Canal, and Billy Beer, we still can't account for the difference. It is as it has always been from the beginning; a push for an unblameable and unchangeable basis of legitimization, like race and gender, the only comparable quality that was lacking between the early Gay Pride marches and the movements they were modeled after.
So the popular, widely accepted view is that a homosexual cannot change his sexual orientation, because he was born that way, is false. God condemns homosexuality:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NKJV) 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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
After stating that homosexuals, "Cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven", He indicates that some in the church at Corinth had been homosexual and sodomites but had been changed by the power of God:
1 Corinthians 6:11 (NKJV) And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
I believe that the gay agenda today is a push for legitimization from the church. The really sad thing is that it seems to be working. The popular view is that the Bible does not condemn homosexuals, only intolerant religious people do. We are told that God still loves the practicing homosexual and won't demand that he betray his sexual orientation. Is that what the Bible says?
The Church needs to be clear on what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. My concern is not that the world has deemed homosexuality an acceptable form of sexual expression, but that the Church has willingly done so.
What positions are Christians taking regarding homosexuality? A recent article in Christianity Today by Andres Tapia, proclaimed, "Homosexuality Debate Strains Campus Harmony." The article began, "Christian college campuses across the country have become the setting for an intense struggle over homosexuality." That in itself, reflects a changing attitude. Homosexuality used to be one of the black and white issues all Christians agreed upon: homosexuality was sin. Now, it is in the forefront of intense debates raging on Evangelical Christian campuses across the nation. Proponents of homosexuality assert that gay rights include freedom of speech, academic freedom, and freedom of theological beliefs.
The only question that needs to be addressed is that of theological beliefs. The subject of homosexuality as a sin has nothing to do with the Constitution of the United States of America, but it has everything to do with the Word of the Living God. The issue is: "What does the Bible say about homosexuality?"
The "coming out" of homosexuals who say they remain true to their Evangelical Christian heritage is firing up the theological debate. These students are often respected by their peers and teachers, and their faith language sounds familiar. They "feel" they are being good Christians. The issue is not what "feels right," but what is biblically right. Correct biblical interpretation has nothing to do with feelings and emotion. Christians must take a position on a subject by looking at the theology first, second, and last.
There was a famous debate between the Jesuit philosopher, Frederick Cobelston, and Bertrand Russell. Cobelston asked Russell, "Do you believe in right and wrong? Do you believe in good and evil? And Russell responded, "Yes, I do." Cobelston asked, "How do you differentiate between good and evil? Russell said, "The same way I differentiate between yellow and blue." Cobelston said, "Wait a minute, you differentiate between yellow and blue by seeing, don't you?" He said, "Yes". "How then do you differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad?" Russell shrugged his shoulders and said, "On the basis of feeling, what else?"
Someone should have interpreted the debate and said to Mr. Russell, "In some cultures they love their neighbors, and in some cultures they eat them - both on the basis of feeling. Do you have any personal preference?"
How can you decide monumental issues of life on the basis of feeling? This is what we are doing today in the issue of homosexuality. And it is wrong! Follow this logic: When you say there is such a thing as evil aren't you assuming there is such a thing as good? When you say there is such a thing as good aren't you assuming there is such a thing as moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil? When you assume there is such a thing as a moral law you must allow for a moral law giver. Because if there is no moral law giver, there's no moral law. If there is no moral law there is no good. If there is no good there is no evil. We know that God is the law giver and in His moral law He says that homosexuality is SIN!
When emotions and feelings become part of the consideration in an issue such as homosexuality, we begin to question the validity of the Bible. Thoughts creep in such as, "I know that person who said he's gay. He's pretty nice. He doesn't cause any problems. I respect his opinion in class. He publicly displayed his faith in Christ last year. What's the big deal? Let's just go on with our lives and not make an issue out of his homosexuality." That all may be true, but Christians are not called to "get on with our lives." They are called to take a biblical stand with Christian love. The character of Christ must characterize all who are believers in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Homosexuality is a biblical issue, not a political issue. How we "feel" about it is not relevant. What the Bible says about it is completely relevant.
Christians must be wary of those who distort God's truth. In the Church today, the Scripture is being misrepresented over and over again, and unprincipled men are misleading many believers. Behavior, which the Bible clearly condemns, is being welcomed with open arms, while biblical standards and commandments are being called "outdated," "narrow-minded" and "unloving."
The Old Testament view of homosexuality begins in Genesis. God's purposes for man and woman are seen in the biblical account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. The acceptance of homosexuality in the Church can be traced to an erosion of the understanding that men and women have very distinct roles that differ from, yet compliment, each other. In the past, the majority of churches recognized the truth that the Bible defined homosexual behavior as sinful. More recently, however, the roles of men and women began to be blurred to the point where the only difference was that women could have children, while men could not. Thus, these churches created a unisex humanity. Suddenly, homosexual behavior was not so hard to accept.
Moses tells us the opinion God had of His creation:
Genesis 1:31 (NKJV) Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
This includes, at that point, the one man and one woman that God had made. In Genesis 2, an elaboration of the creation account is given. In Genesis 2, Moses declared:
Genesis 2:7 (NKJV) And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Then God placed man into the garden He had created. God created the first man. He was perfect. He had no flaws, no imperfections, and no shortcomings. Yet something was missing. In Genesis 2:18, God said:
Genesis 2:18 (NKJV) And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him."
Incidentally, the word "helper" is not a put down, as so many feminists love to claim. It is a word that was used for God Himself in the Old Testament. God knew that man was not complete by himself. He needed a helper who complemented him. He needed a helper who was fitted to him.
Genesis 2:24 (NKJV) Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
This account is foundational to all Scripture. The Old and New Testaments build continually and consistently on the truth of the creation of man and woman with distinct roles within the marriage relationship.
In the New Testament, Matthew 19:4-6 validates what the Old Testament says on this subject. When asked about the subject of divorce, Jesus said:
Matthew 19:4-6 (NKJV) And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' 5 "and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for not knowing the truth of Genesis 2. Not only did Jesus emphasize that relationships are to be between males and females, He specifies that relationships are to be between one male and one female, for an entire lifetime. Men and women are perfectly fitted to meet one another's needs.
The passage in Genesis 19, concerning Lot's two visitors, is explained by homosexuals as a desire on the part of the men outside to get acquainted with (know) Lot's guests. But that interpretation ignores the common biblical sense of the word "know" in a sexual sense. And even if it were true, doesn't that make it difficult to explain why Lot says, "Don't act so wickedly"? What would be so wicked about wanted to get acquainted? And how about Lot's daughters, who have "never known a man?"Does that mean they've led a sheltered existence and never "gotten acquainted" with any men before?
The problem today is that the Church has rejected the roles God outlined for men and women. In Christian homes across the country, daughters are encouraged to act exactly like the sons in the family. There is no distinction between the roles of men and women. As the world becomes more rebellious and contrary to the commands of Scripture, so does the church that is not grounded in the Word of God.
How seriously does God take homosexuality?
Leviticus 20:13 (NKJV) 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.
Leviticus 20 is in the context of the holiness of God and His people.
Leviticus 20:7 (NKJV) 'Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the LORD your God.
Again in Leviticus 20:26, God said:
Leviticus 20:26 (NKJV) 'And you shall be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.
Homosexual advocates say that biblical references against homosexuality may not necessarily be as clear-cut as they appear on the surface. For instance, in the Romans, chapter one passage:
Romans 1:26 (NKJV) For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
The homosexual advocates say, Paul's comments on "natural" versus "unnatural" sexual practice are taken as "abandoning one's natural orientation" for one that is unnatural; the "unnatural" choice for a gay person being to go against that and be involved in a straight relationship. Paul makes no such distinction, because he had no concept of the current term in vogue concerning "orientation."
Romans 1:27 (NKJV) Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
For Paul the "natural" is generic human nature, and the "alternative" interpretation is a classic example of "eisegesis," reading into the text something that is not there.
Homosexuals and lesbians are in direct rebellion to the established rules of creation that God outlined in Genesis 1. The "unnatural function" occurs when women "exchanged the natural function" and "in the same way" men "burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts."
Homosexuality is given as an example of the kind of behavior that is a result of the rejection of God. Paul said, "God gave them over" three times in Romans 1:24, 26, 28. The natural sinful character of man is allowed to play itself out. The result is corruption. It is not the only example of sinful behavior that is listed in Romans 1, but it is the example that is given the most attention.
Romans 1 is God's evaluation of homosexuality and lesbianism. It has nothing to do with homophobia or irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals. It has everything to do with understanding that God is sovereign. Ultimately everyone who rejects God will stand before Him in judgment.
First Timothy 1:8-10 addresses this situation as well:
1 Timothy 1:8-10 (NKJV) But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine,
Paul said It is clear that homosexuality is completely contrary to the truth of the Word of God with which Paul had been entrusted (1 Timothy 1:11). It is classified among activity that is considered ungodly and sinful, being placed alongside such sin as murdering one's parents, immorality, lying, and kidnaping.
The culture is wrong! Many who claim to speak for God are wrong! The Bible is clear that homosexuality is sin! So, what do we do? How are we to respond faithfully and consistently in light of this cultural confusion?
We must uphold the truth of God's Word and proclaim the reality of a REVEALED norm, not a norm that is culturally determined. Truth, if it is indeed truth, will transcend culture and time, and any other barriers we can put in its way. We must uphold the consistent witness of the revelation of the Word if we are to overcome attempts to remove discussion of the homosexual issue from the realm of morality.
We are to be salt and light in our culture, bringing illumination to this and other social issues as a part of our witness before the world. There are right ways and wrong ways to go about this.
Let me say just a few words on the subject of social responsibility. There are certainly a lot of organizations out there who are holding the line for a culturally unpopular theological stance. Focus on the Family is one such group which is on the front lines in this issue. They are taking on the battle on our school campuses, fighting against textbooks which normalize homosexual behavior. They also have entered the public arena with a strong witness to the transforming power of Christ: the "Love Won Out" seminar, a group of several hundred ex-homosexuals who have chosen to leave the homosexual lifestyle. They have traveled around the country to several cities carrying the message that change is possible.
A 1979 study demonstrates that homosexual behavior can be changed. A Pentecostal church worked with several homosexuals, helping them to exit the lifestyle. Out of 11 in the study, 8 were "completely" cured; six got married out of a motivation of attraction to the opposite sex. It is not impossible, but all indications are that a key component is the desire to change. Only 1 in 10 ever seek help, but we must be there and ready when they do.
Just as anyone else, homosexuals are in need of the grace of God. We are to minister to ALL those who are hurting, who are in error, who are in the bondage of sin. The worn-out catch-phrase is "Love the sinner, but hate the sin." It may be trite, but it is certainly workable.
But to those who are pushing a homosexual agenda, I say, "The way that you choose to live your life or that others choose to live their lives is up to you. But when you come into the public square and suggest that the rest of America needs to redefine marriage. . . and insist on the right in the public schools in America to teach my children that the way you have chosen is no morally different from the way I have chosen to live with my wife, you should expect opposition."
Why there is such a debate in our land, even between Christians, about homosexuality is beyond me. The Bible is crystal clear concerning this issue. We have allowed the media to control our thinking. That is probably because the average believer spends much more time listening to the media than they do study and listening to God's Word.