Christians are wrong about… Homosexuality June 14, 2015 3 Comments This is week five in our ‘Christians are wrong about…’ series – see the rest of the series here. Click here to listen to the sermon or listen in iTunes here These are the sermon notes for ‘Christians are wrong about… Homosexuality’ intro – this isn’t meant to be a robust article or blog post.. it’s merely the notes from the sermon linked to above, for small group reference. – some of you have been simply receiving what the world has to say on this topic with no consideration for what God has to say… So, some of the things we talk about tonight might be completely new to you.. Like we always say here, I am not the authority, God is, and we humbly seek His word in this area. – on that.. Tonight we aren’t addressing an issue… We’re talking about people, loved by God and made in His image. – Jesus was constantly accused of being a friend of sinners.. Because He was one!! Consistently in the outcasts home. – do you want to be like Jesus? Love those who are far from God. – if you’re not a friend of sinners, you’re not a friend of Jesus. – Luke 7:47 – Jesus has a woman of ill-repute come and anoint His feet with fragrant oil…. “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” – why aren’t you loving greatly? You’ve forgotten how much you’ve been forgiven. (We come back to this EVERY WEEK! We’re all about the Gospel of Jesus!) Gay vs SSA – we must have a category for SSA that does NOT include homosexual practice. – men and women who are attracted to the same sex MUST have a home in Christian community!! We can’t have any hint of judgement here!!! – this is a real struggle, and we’ve FAILED people for whom this struggle is a daily presence. – this is why I advocate for a clarification in terms – SSA is the internal attraction and romantic affection toward someone of the same sex. ‘Gay’ is a term for those who participate in homosexual romantic relationships or sexual practice. – if you are same sex attracted, you do not have to identify as gay. And the bible does NOT say that SSA is sinful. – Jonathan Berry Puts it like this: ““If anyone is in Christ,” writes the Apostle Paul to Christians in Corinth, where some had been converted to faith in Christ from a background of same-sex practice, “he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). For me, part of the “old” that “has gone” is this idea of identifying myself and describing myself according to my sexual attractions. If I were to hold on to that label “gay”, as if it’s somehow intrinsic to who I am now, then by denying myself a same-sex relationship it would feel as if I’d be denying who I really am (an accusation some of my gay friends already level at me). If my true identity is in Christ, however, then denying myself a same-sex relationship seems like a much more positive outworking of my commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to put him first in my life” Jonathan Berry (source) Grace frees us from ever having to pretend to be something we’re not – one of the biggest problems in the Church today, maybe for the last 150 years… Is that we disdain those things that irritate our Victorian sensibilities far more than we do sin. (Swearing, ‘secular’ stuff, gays and illegal immigrants are icky, but greed, pride, consumerism, gluttony gossip are fine) – you’ve misunderstood the message of Jesus. You’ve misunderstood the Gospel. – this has led to Christians, and unregenerate church-goers to incorrectly, and horribly ‘hate’ gay people, and force those struggling with SSA out of Christian community.. And for that I say on behalf of the church, I am so sorry… If that’s you, I am truley sorry. – you have a home here. – we must be people of grace AND truth. They mush always go together. Diminish grace and you have hurtful legalism. Diminish truth, and you think you’re loving, whereas you’re actually just hurting in another, more insidious way. – we must be truthful to the extent of our grace, and we must walk in grace to the same extent as we preach truth.. And never compromise on either. _______ So, what DOES the bible say about homosexuality?! Don’t have time to hit them all, so we’ll stick to only the NT references.. (They refer to the OT passages anyway) – In I Cor. 6.9-10 Paul writes, “ Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be decieved: neither the sexually immoral (looked at that last week),nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God.” The words in the list translated “men who practice homosexuality” refer in Greek literature to the passive and the active partners in male homosexual intercourse. (passive homosexual partners [malakoi], practicing homosexuals [arsenokoitai]) (Source) – note here that the bible doesn’t treat homosexuality as a special case.. It seems to be such a defining topic these days, but God gives it no special treatment… It’s neither more important nor less important. – WE have erred here.. We see these other forms of sin that have become culturally acceptable, so we play cute with them.. And the temptation is now to lessen homosexuality down to the cultural level of the rest.. But what we SHOULD be doing is RAISING the others to their proper place. – The second of these two words (arsenokoitai) is also listed in I Tim. 1.10 along with fornicators, slave traders, liars, and murderers as “contrary to the sound teaching of the Gospel.” – The most lengthy treatment of homosexual activity comes in Romans 1.24-28. Here Paul talks about how people have turned away from the Creator God and begun to worship instead false gods of their own making. He says, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Common objections: 1. Paul didn’t mean what He said when he affirmed an OT understanding of homosexual relationships – really, nobody actually believes this anymore… Emeritus professor William Loader, of Murdoch University in Australia, is a New Testament scholar and a strong proponent for same-sex marriage. Loader has written eight significant books on sexuality in early Judaism and Christianity, and he has established himself as one of the premier scholars on sexual ethics for this time period. In The New Testament on Sexuality, Loader contends that “it is inconceivable that [Paul] would approve of any same-sex acts if, as we must assume, he affirmed the prohibitions of Lev 18:22; 20:13 as fellow Jews of his time understood them.” Again, Loader affirms, “It is also hard to imagine that Paul would approach [issues of homosexual practice] without awareness of the prohibition of same-sex relations in Lev 18:22 and 20:13, which had come to be applied to both men and women.” (Source http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/43977-the-apostle-paul-and-homosexuality-answering-homosexual-objections-part-1) – Dan O. Via, the pro-homosexual professor emeritus of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, writes in his co-authored book Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, “The term [Paul uses for homosexuality – arsenokotai] is a compound of the words for ‘male’ (arsen) and ‘bed’ (koite) and thus could naturally be taken to mean a man who goes to bed with other men. True, the meaning of a compound word does not necessarily add up to the sum of its parts. But in this case I believe the evidence suggests that it does. In the Greek version of the two Leviticus passages that condemn male homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13) a man is not to lie with a male as with a woman each text contains both the words arsen and koite. First Cor 6:9-10 simply classifies homosexuality as a moral sin that finally keeps one out of the kingdom of God.” 2. But they didn’t understand, or have language for ‘orientation’ back when the bible was written – they knew about the orientation of the heart even back in the OT – David – heart desperately wicked – NT – Paul, do what I don’t want, don’t do what I do want – oriented toward rebellion – and regardless of orientation, it’s the ACT that is contrary to God’s desire for us… SSA is NOT a sin!! 3. Why don’t you want me/my relative/my friend to be Happy? They were born this way, and doesn’t God want them to be happy? Why would he make them like this if it wasn’t natural? – Perhaps the hardest of all.. We all have sinful proclivities from birth. – Jesus says ‘if anyone would follow me he must take up his cross’ – the Christian life is a life laid down – don’t you know EVERY ONE of the 12 apostles was killed for Jesus (except John who was boiled alive, survived, then exiled to a rock island) – eunuchs (Birth, made, or chosen) 4. For those who don’t subscribe to thinking the Bible would definitely be against homosexuality (somehow)… They say that the kind of gay relationships mentioned in the bible were contextual to the time.. – ie. Pederasty, slaves, prostitute, etc – but we know that’s not true for 2 reasons. 1. The words used refer to the receivers guilt as mush as the givers (sorry for the graphicness) 2. Again, it’s the activity that God doesn’t like, not the context. – Liberal scholars have done acrobatics to try to explain away the clear sense of these verses. Some have said that Paul is only condemning the pagan practice of men’s sexually exploiting young boys. But such an interpretation is obviously wrong, since Paul says in Romans 1 verses 24 and 27 that these homosexual acts by men were committed “with one another” and in verse 26 he speaks of lesbian homosexual acts as well. Other scholars have said Paul is only condemning heterosexuals who engage in homosexual acts, not homosexuals who do. But this interpretation is contrived and anachronistic. We’ve already said that it was only in modern times that the idea of homosexual or heterosexual orientation I Cor. 6.9-10 and I Tim. 1.10, it is clear that Paul is here forbidding all such acts. He sees this behavior as the evidence of a corrupted mind which has turned away from God and been abandoned by Him to moral degeneracy. (Source) – Far from being a reflection of the culture in which he wrote, Paul’s commands are absolutely counter-cultural! Homosexual activity was as widespread in ancient Greek and Roman society as it is today, and yet Paul stood up against the culture and opposed it. More importantly, we’ve seen that the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual activity are rooted, not in culture, but in the God-given pattern for marriage established at creation. 5. Jesus never condemned homosexual behavior, so why should we? – Jesus didn’t specifically mention lots of things which we know to be wrong, like bestiality or torture, but that doesn’t mean he approved of them. What Jesus does do is quote from Genesis to affirm God’s pattern for marriage as the basis for his own teaching on divorce. In Mark 10.6-8, He says, “From the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and the two shall become one flesh. Consequently, they are no longer two, but one flesh.” – Also, Jesus primarily spoke to Jews, for whom, there was no need to clarify what was already clear.. Jesus DOES clarify parts of the law, like adultery and hatred, but DOESN’T change any understanding of practising homosexuality. – Jesus was revolutionary!! But never relaxes the moral law, He only ever tightens it. (In fact, people often point to the sermon on the mount as Jesus only being about ‘love’, but it’s in that very sermon that He says 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:17-19 – the Bible is clear, and so should we be. _______ What’s our response then? 1. Don’t let your sexuality define your identity! – we find it in Jesus. – we are so much more than our desires! – sex isn’t the pinnacle of human experience – we find out fulfilment in Jesus, look at David in the psalms (As the deer pants…) – otherwise you’re saying that Jesus isn’t enough – same sex attraction ISN’T a sin – 1/3 of Christians who struggle with SSA consider suicide? (Check stat) – we MUST create a community where all people struggling with all questions, doubts and issues can come and be loved by loves people – the Church had a shocking history in this area – we can’t just shout across the bow, we need to listen, engage, share, show, and live.. Never shout. – I had guys this week contacting me saying things like “in attracted to guys, I’m a Christian, and I don’t know what to do” – it starts where those struggling with ANY sin starts; surrendering your life, identity and all, to the joy of being in Christ. 2. When we greet an outsider, it’s always grace – we don’t judge someone outside the community of faith as if they have a relationship with Jesus, and the Holy Spirit empowering their life! – neither do we wink at/sweep under the rug/play cute with, sin inside the Christian community. – don’t exclude, but rather go out of your way to include gay folk, and those who are SSA.. Don’t you dare look down on them because they sin differently to you! 3. How do we encourage our Christian brother and sisters who walk with SSA? – like we looked at in our abortion talk – if you can’t be a parent but yearn to be a parent, then be a mother or a father to a kid without a spiritual mum or dad.. Or 20 of them! – like we looked at in our sex before marriage talk, some of you God has reserved for singleness… This is NOT an inferior call!! We uphold marriage as sacred, but not PREFERRED to singleness.. Paul says it’s the opposite.. Jesus says this is a hard word. – stop taking your fulfilment cues from culture, take them from the author of life who has YOUR GREATEST JOY in mind. – when you come to Jesus, you’re a new creation.. There are no dual-citizens of heaven…. You have one identity: in Christ. – everything else is subordinate to Jesus.. You aren’t a white or black Christian, you aren’t a gay or straight Christian, you aren’t an Australian or American Christian.. You’re hidden in Christ… You’re a new creation.. The old is gone! – we also need to broaden our gender boundaries (what do I mean by that?!) – the figurative ‘tents’ you have for what defines masculine and feminine need to be enlarged. – boy talks softly and likes dolls doesn’t make him female or gay! – a man who is attracted to men is no less of a man. – woman who likes trucks and explosions doesn’t make her manly.. It makes her… A woman who likes trucks and explosions!! – a male nurse, female diesel mechanic.. Etc… There is a home here for those who don’t conform to a cultural understanding of masculinity and femininity, but who DO want to conform to the image of Christ. – point to the joy of the Lord – Matt 5 – blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God! – it’s not just about “just say no”, but like all of our fleshly desires, we look to our greater joy! – God is better, and you’re not missing out by living a celebrate life. – God may change your desires ( I spoke with 2 people this week who are now married after originally being SSA) – but that may not happen… Just like the unmarried man or woman we spoke of last week. 4. What about SSA/gay people outside the church? – We love them. We be light to them. We give them a place to belong. We do life with them. We communicate the gospel to them (and not just a ‘you’re gay, so you’re far from God.. Remember, that’s just a symptom of their rejection of God… That might not even be their big barrier to faith! We don’t want to win people to moralism, we want to invite people into relationship with the saving God who loves them! Let GOD the Holy Spirt do the convicting! We’ll obediently do the living.) – it’s not our job to tell people outside the community of believers how to live! – if a gay friend has a problem with you holding to a biblical perspective, you can assure them that you, and the bible think of homosexuality in the same category as people having sex before marriage… Again, not to diminish sin, but to show that they don’t have a special sin that we especially dislike… But that we’re all equally in need of saving grace, to turn from our former ways, and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. – continue to show the Gospel at work in your own evil heart! – we are ALL sexually broken (such a great percentage of men indulging in porn, Christians having sex outside marriage, lustful thoughts for people you’re not married to, etc!) – the next chapter in Romans 2:1-41 Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man-you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself-that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? – one more time, we don’t look down from a position of moral superiority.. We must never do that, but rather show love that leads to repentance. _______ – You can live without sex, but you can’t live without intimacy – can you be a Christian and gay? – SSA, absolutely – believe in Jesus, for sure! – believe Jesus? No – Follow Jesus?… – James 1 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. – James 1:14-16 – we want to help people move from death to life. __________ If God never says something that offends or is contrary to what you already believe.. Then either you have perfect theology, or you’ve created a God in your own likeness. Bonus Stuff – In order to offer the status of marriage to couples of the same sex, the very meaning of marriage has to be changed. In which case, what same-sex couples will have will not be the same as what differently sexed couples now have. (Source) – as it stands, everyone is already equally able to marry – marriage is the union of a man and a woman, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life – if you fulfil the requirements, you can marry.. if you don’t want that, then you don’t want marriage – you want another kind of union… (which, in a secular society, you SHOULD have access to). http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/about-time-we-all-cared-more-about-marriage-20120823-24p2g.html Wayne Grudem writes, “every human nation on earth, every society of any size or permanence at all, has recognized and protected the institution of heterosexual marriage.” He cites a leading anthropologist (J. D. Unwin) who studied 86 failed societies, noting that no society was able to flourish after 3 generations once “strict marital monogamy” was abandoned. Sociological studies demonstrate this decidedly. Wayne Grudem cites six such studies—all secular—which confirm the following four benefits for children with a mother and father. 3 Responses Doug & Joanne Coates February 13, 2016 Hi Don, how are you? I agree with the majority of this. There’s just one aspect which I think is potentially dangerous. You say that ssa is not wrong. Would having constant thoughts of raping a woman, have sex with a child or murdering someone be wrong? Wouldn’t this need to be a massive wake-up call for someone in the Christian Church that something was terribly wrong & that they needed to urgently get help & prayer! So as you think so you become. Looking lustfully at a woman you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. The Bible doesn’t beat around the bush! I guess that what you are ultimately saying, is that fantasizing about sin is okay, but I completely disagree with that! I agree that of course every sinner of every kind should be welcomed into the church. But I’m getting tired of churches so ingratiating themselves with wuv, wuv, wuv, that they don’t really LOVE people in their churches or care enough about them to want them to be transformed to the image of Christ! A great part of this is through the transforming of their minds through the Bible & His Word & having an intimate relationship with Him through the enabling of His Holy Spirit & having God’s healing!!! Just a thought: Do you think that God should have sent Jonah to the Ninevites? Do you think that God blesses & disciplines Nations?? Do you think that God should or ever does discipline & warn non-Christians about their behaviour & the long-term damage to themselves & others & ultimately to their Country?? Do you think that God should only ever discipline & warn Christians?? With the illegal immigrant issue, I think the first word illegal, might be a clue! I know of some illegal immigrants through a friend, they have raped, bashed & have behaved quite terribly & have still gotten away with their behaviour. I do not blame our Country to want to have some sort or protection for their people, as protection of their people is supposed to be the first duty of Government. Also if the Pope or the Uniting Church is advocating for something, or an ungodly political party, who really wants to tip the balance so that there will be more foreign religions in this country & Christianity will become more & more pushed out, then you really need to start smelling a rat! This is exactly what happened to America & England & they are begging Christians here not to go the same way as they have, through their utter gullibility! God Bless You Don!!! Reply Don February 13, 2016 Hi Joanne, I think you’ve misunderstood me. I’m saying that SSA is not sinful, just as an initial attraction to someone not your spouse isn’t sinful (before or after marriage). No temptation is sinful (if temptation was sin, Jesus would have sinned – He didn’t.. It isn’t). Now, if you indulge that temptation, even a little bit, that’s where it becomes sinful. But I’ve never advocated for that indulgence.. In fact I explicitly talk about the dangers of it in this talk. SSA isn’t sinful; like any attraction outside marriage.. It’s what you do with it that shows your heart’s inclination toward, or away from the Holy God. Reply Doug & Joanne Coates February 13, 2016 Hello Don, just following on from the ssa issue: If a man was attracted to little children but never followed this up in a relationship of any kind, would that be fine? Would these feelings & thinking be dysfunctional?? Do you think that a loving God would want to heal their thinking through loving, caring, transforming healing? I remember seeing a program about a loving, Christian man who worked with Paedophiles, he said the first step, which was so hard, was to get them to see that their feelings & thinking about little children was wrong! He never said to them that their attraction & thinking about little children was fine! With ssa what would God say about having a healthy thought life? We are all tempted to sin & praise God for His grace not to give into temptation! The main concern is that this is a major issue at the moment, which is really sad in itself, yes, greed, selfishness & every other conceivable sin are terrible too, it is just that sexual sins have such a devastating effect on both the person themselves & other people. When a society breaks down homosexuality always becomes prominent. Why does God call it an abomination? Was He just being mean or does it have such a devastating effect on society! We are to love all people & we are all sinful, but I don’t want people to just think that it is more loving just to give up on people who are really struggling with sin. Do you just brush them off with well you are really having a deep struggle with sin & that is not dysfunctional what you are feeling so I’ll just leave you to it, so you will feel better about yourself. Is that loving? Is any sin too hard for God to heal?! And if He doesn’t heal the person immediately would His grace not be more than sufficient for them! So many churches are just saying Gay behaviour is fine, we endorse it, or just saying it is wrong, without coming along side the person & saying this sin is wrong & your thinking is dysfunctional, but I will love the person & with God’s wonderful healing power, pray for the person to be transformed & healed by Him, as so many Gay people have been! God Bless!!! 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