We are doing a verse by verse study of Jude and last week we looked at verse 7 which deals with Yahweh's judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah. This brought up the subject of homosexuality, which we dealt with briefly. For our study today I want to deal more with the subject of homosexuality and also same sex marriage.
On Friday June 26, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live, and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples. This set off a firestorm of reactions ranging from the "sky is falling" to "this is the best thing ever."
As a Christian were you shocked by this? Did your faith maybe skip a beat? Did you question, "How could this happen in a Christian country?"
I think we have to realize and admit that our culture is moving from a Christian culture to a post-Christian culture. The culture today in America is not the culture I was born into. In 1973, just a little over forty years ago, 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. So up until 1973 the board of the American Psychiatric Association said that homosexuality was an illness. Our culture is quickly changing.
But before you get too discouraged please understand that the Church has always been counter-cultural. The first century church was certainly counter-cultural. And let me just say that if your views are cultural, I don't think you are spending enough time in the Scriptures.
If you were surprised by the courts decision or people's response to it, why were you? Are you expecting non-Christians to hold Christian values? If you believe that marriage is only between a man and a woman and that homosexuality is a sin, why would you expect people who don't follow Christ to embrace that? Why do we get upset that people who don't know Yeshua act like people who don't know Yeshua? Unsaved people live in sin, that's what unsaved people do. Our arguing with the unsaved about certain sins is not what we are called to do. We are called to lovingly present them with the Gospel of Christ.
This issue of homosexuality and same sex marriage has to be dealt with on two fronts. 1) How do we deal with and treat the unsaved homosexuals? 2) How do we deal with and treat those who say they are Christians? Let's start with a definition. What is a homosexual? The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as; "a person, especially a man, who is sexually attracted to people of the same sex and not to people of the opposite sex."
Based on that definition, is it a sin to be homosexual? Can you help who you are sexually attracted to? I don't think so. I don't think that being sexually attracted to a person of the same sex is a sin. But, if you act on that attraction and engage in sex, that is a sin. Most people use the term homosexual to refer to someone who is involved in homosexual sex. This just confuses the issue because a person can be homosexual and be celibate, thus not sinning. The attraction is not a sin, it's the act that is sin. So as not to confuse the issue I will use the term homosexual of a person who is a practicing homosexual.
Why is homosexuality 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 pedophiles' pride week?
When did the homosexual movement start? Most would say it was Gay Pride Week in 1970, where twenty thousand marched in New York City alone. This movement is very organized. 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 homosexuality, 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. It is now socially acceptable and very popular. It is the in thing to be gay. And anyone who speaks against homosexuality is labeled a homophobe.
The popularity and acceptance of homosexuality should not affect believers, the only question we have to deal with is: "What does the Bible teach about this issue?" In our day the Scriptures are being re-interpreted to fit the homosexual agenda.
What does the Bible teach about same sex marriage?
The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:23-24 NASB
Marriage is the joining of a man and a woman in a covenant relationship. Same sex marriage is an oxymoron. If it is same sex it cannot be marriage. Marriage is the joining of opposite sexes. The way in which woman was created indicates that she is the man's divinely designed complement.
In his book The Lost World of Adam and Eve, John Walton writes, "Adam's sleep has prepared him for a visionary experience rather than for a surgical procedure. The description of himself being cut in half and the woman being built from the other half (Gen 2: 21-22) would refer not to something he physically experienced but to something that he saw in a vision." He goes on to say, "All womankind is 'from the side' of all mankind. Marriage is being rejoined and recovering humanity's original state."
Walton then states, "Genesis 2:24 makes more of a statement than we had envisioned. Becoming one flesh is not just a reference to the sexual act. The sexual act may be the one that rejoins them, but it is the rejoining that is the focus. When Man and Woman become one flesh, they are returning to their original state."
From the biblical perspective marriage is only between a man and a woman. Only two people of the opposite sex can fulfill the procreative purpose of marriage. Now I know that some people will say that the pro-creating part was only a command given to them. That is not the purpose of marriage anymore. Really! Almost every married couple I know has children. Why? That is most often what married couples do, they have children. That is what keeps the human race alive.
Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network writes, "It's certainly true that God designed our bodies with heterosexuality in mind; that's how new human beings come into the world. I don't think anyone can deny that heterosexual sex is the way our bodies were built to function. But does that mean that using our bodies in any other way is sinful?" It does if the Bible says that using our bodies in "an other" way is sinful, and it does.
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:
Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband.1 Corinthians 7:1-2 NASB
In chapter 7 Paul is going to answer some of the difficulties that have been raised to him in a letter that the Corinthians sent. Paul writes, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman"—the phrase "not to touch a woman" does not refer to the holding of hands or putting your arms around a woman. "Touch" is the Greek word "haptomai," which means: "to attach oneself to, to apply oneself to." It directly relates to the sexual relationship within marriage. This is a euphemism for a sexual relationship. We see it used this way through out the Scriptures. So "to touch a woman" is a euphemism for a sexual relationship, but is also metonymy for marriage. The Scriptures use the word "touch" to refer to a union such as marriage. The basic meaning of "haptomai," is to attach oneself to or bind. In our text he is saying, "it is good not to marry." Paul knew that marriage is a divine institution, he knew that it was God Himself who said, "it is not good for man to be alone." Think about the depth of that statement: Man was not alone in the truest sense. Not only was he surrounded by all of creation, but, even more substantially, he had a perfect relationship with Yahweh! Yet, in spite of those realities, Yahweh said it was not good for him to be alone, speaking of his need of a wife.
Paul is certainly not contradicting God. All through the Bible marriage is considered very highly, for example Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled." In the Tanakh marriage is used to suggest the relationship between God and His people, and in the New Testament between the Lord and His Church. The Bible holds marriage on a very high level. Paul does not have a low view of marriage, he is not denouncing marriage. Paul simply says it is good not to marry. Celibacy is a good state and not to be depreciated. And as you go through the chapter Paul gives two reasons why he says it is good not to marry. Look at verse 26 and you will see the first reason. It is because of the present distress, which was a time of intense persecution. The second reason is in verse 32, when you're married you need to take care of your marriage responsibilities, which limit you in your service for the Lord.
So what Paul is saying contextually is this: "Considering your present circumstances and considering the responsibilities within marriage it is good not to marry." Now that first principle, which is "celibacy is good," must be held in balance with the second principle. The second principle will be developed in verses 2-6. Simply stated it is this: It is natural to marry.
Paul's general rule is laid down in verse 2 when he says:
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
Although there may be exceptions, there is no doubt as to what the norm is. Marriage is the norm. This verse makes it clear that God does not approve either of polygamy or homosexual "marriages." Wife and husband here are singular. The man is not to have another man but his own wife, and the woman is not to have another woman but her own husband. That's it, marriage is one man with one woman for a lifetime.
So Paul's basic principle is that every man is to have his own wife and every woman is to have her own husband. The problem in this verse is that that principle is prefaced with the phrase, "because of immoralities." Is this why a person marries? To avoid fornication is not the only reason for marriage, but it is one reason.
Paul is not giving us here his doctrine of marriage. He is speaking of the danger of sexual sin for those who are single. If you want Paul's doctrine of marriage you need to look at Ephesians 5, and you will see that he places it on an extremely high level. What Paul is doing here is answering a specific problem that was given in a specific question in relation to a specific situation existing in Corinth at that time. The situation was this: Fornication was rampant in the city. Temptation abounded on every turn. A man could not walk down the streets of Corinth without being propositioned. What Paul is saying in this passage is that the real solution to the situation in Corinth is: Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. God has instituted marriage as the safeguard against such evil. Marriage is not the lesser of two evils it is the God ordained safeguard against immorality.
Paul's purpose here is to stress the reality of the sexual temptations of singleness and to acknowledge that they have a legitimate outlet in marriage.
So the Scriptures teach that marriage is between a man and a woman. And all sexual activity outside of monogamous, heterosexual marriage: homosexuality, fornication, polygamy, adultery, bestiality and so on, is sin.
There are no examples of homosexual marriages in the Scriptures, not one. That is because there is no such thing as same sex marriage. And there are also no instructions on homosexual relationships.
Justin Lee writes, "I now believe that homosexual behavior is appropriate within the confines of a committed, loving, monogamous, lifelong, Christ-centered relationship. Essentially, I'm arguing that a Christ-centered marriage is a good thing, regardless of the gender of the people involved."
If that is true, why do we have no instructions on how this gay marriage is to work? We have instructions on how husbands and wives should treat each other, on how parents and children should treat each other, on how slaves and masters should treat each other. But not one word about homosexual marriages and how they should treat each other. And that is because it is sin and forbidden by God. The Bible says that elders must be the Husband of one wife; not one wife or one husband. And elders are to be an example of what God wants us all to be.
What does the Bible say about homosexuality? In our day the media, educators, government agencies are increasingly portraying homosexuality in a 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 Scriptures. 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. Well, I say that he ought to read his Bible a little more.
Let's look at what the Bible has to say about this issue. The Church must stand on the Scriptures and the Scriptures alone.
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. Paul says three times in Romans 1 that "God gave them over." What did He give them over to?:
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. Romans 1:24 NASB
Here Paul says that God gives them over to "impurity." The Greek word here is akatharsia, which literally means: "the contents of a grave." It came to mean: "rot or filth or decay or even dirt." Its moral meaning has to do with sexual vice and sexual sin. In Paul's thinking, it primarily refers to perversion of the sexual area of life. So men are given up to impurity by a judicial act of God.
Paul says at the end of verse 24, "So that their bodies would be dishonored among them"—They pervert God's intended use for the body. They turn to fornication, sexual activities, sexual deviations, sexual perversion, sexual promiscuity. It kind of sounds like our society. Sexual perversion is a judgment, God's will is that we abstain from sexual sin:
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 NASB
Believers are to live a life free of sexual sin. We are to live holy.
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, Romans 1:26 NASB
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. The word "natural" here is phusikos which means: "in keeping with how God has designed people," and unnatural refers to behavior that is contrary to how God has made us. In the Greek text the words translated "women" (thelus; v. 26) and "men" (arsen, v. 27) mean: "females" and "males." Paul's language is the language of sex.
Homosexuality is an unnatural relationship to oneself and to one's body. And, consequently, if we believe the words of Paul, it is contrary to God's order. This is the teaching of the whole of the Bible. In other words, the apostle says that the relationship of heterosexuality is that which is natural. 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. When man forsakes the author of nature, he forsakes the order of nature. I believe that the norm is for people to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex, and when people are not, I think it is a defect. I think that when people are sexually attracted to the same sex there is a defect. That is not how it is supposed to be. Is it a genetic defect, or hormonal defect? I don't know. Why do some people have this defect? I guess that is the way Yahweh made them:
The LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exodus 4:11 NASB
Some people are born deaf, some are born blind, some are born with other debilitating disease or deformity. Why? That's just how it is, and you have to deal with your defects. It is not a sin to be attracted to the same sex, but it is a sin if you act on it. I do believe that God can change people. But if He doesn't change the heart of a gay person, and he is a Christian, then they must live celibate. I know that that would not be easy, but many people live with defects that are not easy. Life is not always easy.
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. America is being judged:
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
"They burned in their desire toward another." I am told that there is a level of lust among homosexuals that is not known among heterosexuals. It is not unusual for the average homosexual male to have 300 partners per year. It is not uncommon for them to have to go to the hospital and have all manner of articles extracted from deep within them.
In the book, Where death delights; the Story of Dr. Milton Helpern and Forensic Medicine, Chapter 13 explains why "brutal, multiple wound cases" denote a homosexual murder. Dr. Helpern, who was the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City, says, "I did 60 thousand autopsies, and I am not one to make a judgment on life style, but I would warn anyone who chooses a homosexual life style to get ready for the consequences." In 60 thousand autopsies, he said, "I can take one look at a corpse and tell you if it was killed by a homosexual because of the massive mutilations."
Any study of the homosexual community shows a higher rate of suicide, lower tolerance to disease and sickness, a shorter life-span by 25-30 years, the likelihood of infections and debilitating and deadly diseases, and the decreased likelihood of a stable, nurturing family life.
There is a burning level of lust that is beyond anything that a heterosexual understands. There are frequent murders and other crimes that are beyond description.
The commentator Scroggs attempts to minimize Paul's negative remarks on homosexuality by arguing that he is simply drawing on Hellenistic Jewish tradition that probably only pederasty is being condemned. Pederasty from the Greek means: "a lover of boys." It is used of one who practices anal intercourse especially with a boy. But Paul says, "Men with men."
Contemporary homosexuals insist that these verses mean that it is perverse for a heterosexual male or female to engage in homosexual relations, but it is not perverse for a homosexual male or female to do so since homosexuality is such a person's natural preference. This is strained exegesis unsupported by the Bible. The only natural sexual relationship the Bible recognizes is a heterosexual one (Gen. 2:21-24; Matt. 19:4-6) within marriage.
Paul condemns homosexual behavior 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
and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 1 Timothy 1:10 NASB
The Greek word here translated in these verses as homosexuals is arsenokoitai, which is a compound word derived from—arsen (man) and koite-(bed). Both of these words are found in the Septuagint version of Leviticus 18: 22 and 20:13:
'You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22 NASB
'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
There are no instances of the word (arsenokoitai) prior to Paul. Even many revisionist scholars agree that Paul coined the term from Leviticus. Paul was reiterating the holiness code from Leviticus. This clearly tells us that arsenokoitai referred to homosexual behavior. Paul condemns this sin, it is unrighteous behavior.
Could a Christian be involved homosexual sex? Believers, Christians are not exempt from any sin. I heard a person say, "No homosexual can be in Christ." What about adulterers, or liars, or drunkards, can they be in Christ? I have personally known two Christians that were involved in homosexuality. One of them died of AIDS. The other I counseled and shared with him what the Bible said about homosexuality. He repented of the sin and is now married with children 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.
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."
Look at what Yeshua taught:
"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
Yeshua 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 Yeshua advocates even embraces our enemies.
To those listening to Yeshua that day, this must have seemed like an impossibility. How could anyone love his or her enemy? Enemies don't evoke love in anyone. Yeshua, 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.
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 understood 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. 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.
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.
So what do we do about the Supreme Court's decision on homosexual marriage?
1) We do what the Church has always done, seek to win the lost to Yeshua the Christ. And condemning people is a terrible evangelism strategy. Paul told us to stop judging people outside the Church:
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NASB
2) Don't look to government to support Christian values. And don't waste your time trying to get government to change. Yeshua, Paul, Peter, or John spent zero time trying to change the government. Paul often appeared before government officials, but never tried to get them to change the laws of the land.
Speaking of government, Democrats in California have introduced a bill that would ban the words "husband" and "wife" from being used in federal law because they are "gendered terms" and discriminate against gay people.
The words "husband and wife" were deleted from California state law last year. Under new legislation proposed by over two dozen Democrats, that same rule would be applied federally. The bill, introduced by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif, would introduce new "gender-neutral" terms such as "spouse" or "married couple" and eliminate "husband" and "wife."
This is where our culture is headed. It's not laws that need to be changed, it's men's hearts. And that only happens by the grace through faith in our Lord Yeshua the Christ. Our culture is changing; the Bible is not. Let's make sure our beliefs come from the Bible and not our culture. The Church is to be counter culture.
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