Not too long ago, I read a blog post entitled “I’m Christian, but not if you’re gay”. I write today’s post in response to the hatred and unBiblical ideas I’ve been reading since US President Obama made his remarks. Here is my explanation of my beliefs in regard to gay rights, as a straight, evangelical-leaning, conservative-leaning Christian.
I don’t consider myself “active” in the gay rights movement. I have been considering this issue only recently, which started after President Obama’s speech where he mentioned he supports same-sex marriages (a month or so ago).
It is amazingly simple for me to be consistent with a grace-first theology. At the same time, I find that most people don’t understand me. Part of my grace-first theology is in agreement with the Catholic Church, some with Calvinists, and some with Baptists. But I’ve not found any systematic theology or church doctrine that completely describes what the Spirit has been teaching me. But I find that I now understand almost all Scripture and that the Bible has a consistent message. And I find much that I agree with in Spurgeon.
I’m not in agreement with either of these statements: “Homosexual practice is not a sin” and “Homosexual practice is a sin.” Neither blanket statement captures my viewpoint. The basis of my understanding begins with accepting the fact that same-sex attraction is an orientation that cannot normally be changed. And the foundation of my beliefs in this area are in the gospel of Jesus.
Orientation is not a choice
Even gay help groups like Exodus International freely admit that they’ve not met any gay person who chose to be gay. A person simply cannot choose their sexual orientation. The fallout from “ex-gays” is proof enough for me. Perhaps God does change a person’s orientation, but this will be miraculous and rare. This is a fundamental misunderstanding most conservatives have. They think that they can “pray the gay out” or “beat the gay out”. Or as a last resort, some think we should just let the gays die out.
I have a child-hood friend who is gay. We all could sense it since he was young. He went through gay therapy, but nothing worked. There are choices of lifestyle, but I cannot overlook the fact that there does exist a homosexual orientation that cannot be changed. There does not appear to be any “gay gene” but there is something psychological that cannot be changed normally.
What does the Bible say?
We who claim to believe the Bible must consider what Scripture says. I find only a handful of verses, six in fact, that explicitly deal with the gay issue. These are the infamous “six clobber passages” in the Bible:
Genesis 19:1-5 – We normally think Sodom=homosexual sin. But what does the Bible say the sins of Sodom were? The main sin of Sodom was arrogance, gluttony and failing to help the poor and needy. And the Bible says that Israel’s sins were twice as bad as Sodom (Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:49-52). The sexual sin in Genesis 19 was homosexual gang rape, not strictly homosexual practice.
Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 – These passages list all homosexual activity as a sin worthy of death. But it is part of the written code that was nailed to the cross (Ephesians 2, Galatians 2, Colossians 2). I believe the Scripture plainly teaches that all 613 commands of the written code were abolished on the cross. This is an apparent contradiction: Jesus says he did not abolish the law, Apostle Pauls says Jesus did abolish the law. There is no contradiction when we understand grace however. Jesus and Apostle Paul are both correct. Jesus fulfilled the Law, so he is correct when he says he did not come to abolish God’s Law and Prophets. God’s Law did not, nor will it ever, just disappear. However, the impartial expression of God’s Law, the written code, has been canceled, as Apostle Paul clearly taught. If someone wants to enforce Leviticus 18:22, then they must also put adulterers to death and they must also consider eating shrimp a sin. The Bible clearly teaches (and Jews correctly understood) that ALL 613 laws must be kept if one wants to be justified under the law. The written code was only a temporary foreshadow of the grace who was to come, Jesus. So I say under the law (the written code), yes, homosexual behavior is a sin. But nowhere in the written code do we find that homosexual orientation is a sin. Those who accept Jesus find grace, not the laws in Leviticus.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – The NIV translates the Greek word that Paul made up as “homosexual offenders”. The word is not the word Apostle Paul would have used if he was condemning all homosexual behavior. These verses do condemn offensive homosexual behavior, which would be behavior that is outside a committed, marriage relationship. I believe homosexuals should marry, just as heterosexuals should marry in order to avoid burning in sin. Sex inside marriage, regardless of orientation, is not sin. Promiscuity and all sexual behavior outside marriage is sin, regardless of orientation. So grace is not a license for heterosexuals to freely engage in homosexual experimentation. Nor is the opposite permitted. An interesting side note: How many of the sins listed in 6:9-10 were committed by King David? He was a murderer and an adulterer up until he died. And some have claimed David and Jonathan’s relationship was more than “just friends”. Yet David will be in Heaven (Hebrews 11:32-40). Moses was also a murderer (Exodus 2:11-14), yet Moses will be in Heaven. Elijah was a coward, but he will be in Heaven too (Matthew 17:3). Why? It is because of the grace of God, the only way anyone will be in Heaven. To twist 6:9-10 and say that all homosexuals will go to hell is simply incorrect.
Romans 1:21-31 – The key sin here is idolatry. Idolatry is what gets God really, really angry, even more-so than sexual sin. God gave idolaters over to all kinds of sin, which included the promiscuous homosexual behavior. Again, I do not see a loving, committed same-sex marriage included here.
Jude 1:6-7 – In Jude, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves over to “sexual immorality and perversion.” Genesis 19 is an example of such behavior. And they are not condemned to hell because of immorality, they simply serve as an example. Their key sin was arrogance and selfishness, and such sins were punished. It is only idolatry, going our own way (Deuteronomy 29), that condemns us to hell, whether we lived in the OT or the NT times.
Historical, orthodox views?
My viewpoints above may seem out of place with historical, orthodox Christianity. However, the “historical, orthodox” view toward the GLBT community seems to have started after the inquisition period, around 1200 or 1300. And full-blown hatred for gays has been a rather recent historical phenomenon. For many centuries, Christians didn’t seem to have such a problem with sexuality as Christians do today. I think also, after Freud, Christians became obsessed with homosexuality and sexuality in general. So I feel like I am in line with early Christians who understood grace-first instead of law-first theology.
In the end, the GLBT “issue” is mainly a human rights issue for me. Regardless of sexual orientation, are Christians supposed to preach hate and death? Some preachers in North Carolina, and elsewhere in America, have made a mockery of the pulpit.
How to live?
Regardless of anyone’s viewpoints on the GLBT community, homosexuals need to decide how to live. For me, I see the following. For the “GL” people, there are two viable options I see: celibacy or marriage. I believe these are the same two options for “H” people (heterosexual).
The “B” people are in a dangerous place from Scripture’s viewpoint. Perhaps they should be extended grace until they figure out who they are. The “T” people need extra love and discernment.
Get past it!
In conclusion, I suggest we get past the HGLBT issue (as Scripture does) by putting proper avenues for control and separation of church/state in place, making gay marriage legal, granting equal rights to the GLBT community and moving on to share the gospel of grace.
Has Freud deceived the entire Western world into thinking HGLBT is our primary identity? Could not two men embrace each other as friends without ridicule? Could not a man and a woman be dear friends without suspicion?
More reading that explains my viewpoints: