Homosexuality: Beyond Society & Into Theology
By: Steven R. Martins – http://eamcanada.org/
Note of Disclaimer:
The intent of this article is not to offend, nor inflict harm, nor to upset any individual intentionally in any form or manner, but rather to educate through a brief summary and overview what the Bible has to say in regards to homosexuality and where Christianity stands in respect to the controversial subject matter.
In 1969, the Omnibus Bill C-150 initiated the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1968-69 which legalized a series of controversial acts in Canadian culture. Amongst its proposals were the decriminalization of homosexuality, abortion, contraception, gun possession, and a variety of other subjects pertaining to Canadian society.
Since then, homosexuality has flourished, giving birth to the pride parade,the increased immigration of homosexual individuals and couples, and most recently a proposed legislated curriculum within public school systems.Canada has become the prime standard for social equality and the embracing of the homosexual agenda, prompting movements in the US for same-sex marriage legalization, and playing a vital role in the decriminalization of homosexuality in France. Its proponents have made great strides in their awareness campaigns, inspiring individuals to step out of their comfort zones, to embrace their inner gender, and to challenge and redefine the cultural status quo. They have, quite literally, changed Canadian society, having taken full force in 2005 with the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption rights. Yet despite its progression, it still remains a controversial subject matter for many.
In regards to the societal implications of homosexuality, it is widely and publicly claimed that its benefits help support diversity, equality and equity. Those in disagreement are forming part of a minority and are also gradually becoming outcasts in Canadian thought and ideals. Sharp debates have arisen when same-sex couples were allowed to adopt children, helping to redefine marriage and the traditional family, and this too is perceived as a positive development for the upbringing of the next generation. Although all these “positive” societal implications are arguable, whether in regards to the traditional understanding of marriage, or of that of the family, there is an issue that transcends both societal constructs and man-made law. The real question is not whether it stands as a societal issue, but whether it stands rightly as a theological issue, and here lies the root of the controversy. “Is homosexuality, or is it not, sinful in the eyes of God, a violation of all that is sacred?” It is that question that matters above all else, and the answer to that question determines the position of man, and the direction of Canadian culture.
Prominent figures in modern society such as Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Katy Perry, Jay-Z and other celebrities have been hailed as our cultural spiritual gurus. When the public are seeking spiritual direction, they no longer consider the church as a fountain of richness; they seek instead after the noise and blurs of the secular world. In Lady Gaga’s Born this Way she states “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to survive” because “God makes no mistakes.” In Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” she tempts the forbidden, “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Suddenly the latest radio hits influence an entire generation, shifting moral values, worldviews, and ultimately corrupting the nature of man.
Conveniently compatible with postmodernity, morality has become subjective, the concept of an absolute moral law brushed away under the rug, kept hidden from public view. Yet this poses its own set of problems, if morality is subjective – determined by each individual – then why are Christians who oppose the homosexual agenda altogether condemned for espousing such a view? Tolerance has certainly been lost, and the pressure to conform to society’s norms and morals are increasingly growing. If an individual alone then cannot determine morality, perhaps it is developed by society as a whole? But this also runs into an issue, because without an objective moral standard, one cultural society isn’t any better than the other. Take for example Nazi Germany in WWII, the horrors they committed were rightly condemned by the Western world, but operating under a morally relativistic worldview, we wouldn’t have any right to say that our sense of morality is better than theirs. In such a case as this, you need an objective moral law, a law that transcends both national law and social constructs, and that law can only be found in the Bible. After all, a moral law requires a moral law giver, and because that cannot be man, it is only fitting that it be God.
The Theological Issue
When we take the question of homosexuality to Scripture, we find a plethora of biblical passages. Here are a few from the Old Testament:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Lev. 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 blood-guiltiness is upon them” (Lev. 20:13, NASB).
And in Genesis 19:1-11 we find two angelic figures visiting Lot, in which the citizens of Sodom belligerently request for the two visitors to have sex with them. It is made clear in this passage that these were men asking for men to violate them. Homosexual activity is seen as a violation of God’s created order, a perversion of the sacred, and this case was one taken to the extreme.
The consequence of committing such a sin in Old Testament times was death, and it was common knowledge to the Israelites. God was clarifying the seriousness of this infraction against Him and His created order. But pundits have commented on how Jesus, the Son of God, didn’t say anything in regards to the topic of homosexuality.
In the Gospel accounts, it wasn’t required of Jesus to address the issue because the fact that it was a “sin” was already public knowledge. The apostle Paul, on the other hand, was speaking to different cultures which tolerated, and even in some cases celebrated, these acts of homosexuality. This is why he writes to the Church in Rome:
“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” (Rom. 1:26-27, NASB).
The apostle mentions that “God gave them over to degrading passions,” but he doesn’t mean that God commanded it, nor that He approved of it. What Paul meant to say, in reference to its literary context, was that mankind had disregarded God, completely abandoned the faith, and in fact turned against Him wilfully. As a result of their sin, the LORD allowed them to continue growing in their disobedience and rebellion, knowing full well that their sin would reap their own punishment.
Paul writes furthermore:
“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, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10, NASB).
Homosexuality is a clear theological issue, regardless of its societal implications. In a debate, the Christian position wouldn’t be based upon societal norms, but rather on the perfect law of God. But how would you apply what Scripture says to the 21st Century?
Reconciling Scripture with the Present
It’s important to note that the laws we find in Leviticus were given unto Israel in the Old Testament. They were God’s chosen people, called to reflect the holiness and righteousness of God to all surrounding nations. But we no longer live in Old Testament times, and although cultures and customs have changed, principles have not.
If a Christian were to believe that some portions of Scripture concerning real moral issues no longer apply, then they begin to construct a foreign Gospel distanced from that presented in Scripture. However, it requires discernment and careful interpretation to understand what does and does not apply, such as in the case of capital punishment or the Sabbath observance. After all, we no longer live under the law but under the grace of God, and we see not the stoning of homosexuals, or other offenders for that matter, but rather the offer of salvation extended unto them (1 Cor. 6:11).
The Old Testament, besides from also being God’s Sovereign Word, is also a collection of historical documents recording the law that was given unto God’s people “Israel,” and their subsequent reactions to the law over the course of history (obedience and disobedience). The New Testament however, not only documents the teachings and miracles of Jesus, along with the emergence of the early Church, but also shows us how to live.
Jesus raised the law to a much higher spiritual plain, where hating someone without cause is considered as serious as murder in God’s eyes (Matt. 5:21-22), along-with looking at someone with lustful eyes is equal to committing adultery (Matt. 5:27-28). The law was not nullified, but properly applying hermeneutics we can understand that the laws (as strict as they were) given unto Israel reflected a Holy God. This may help to place the book of Leviticus into a greater and a simpler perspective than what secularists often paint. God is holy, perfect and good, and having chosen Israel as His people, He also required them to be holy. Those laws were specifically for Israel, and they were meant to be an example to the rest of creation. In other words, God wanted to preserve the sanctity and holiness of His people Israel.
In the New Testament, salvation is made available to everyone (not just Israel) through Jesus Christ. He fulfilled the law that mankind could not fulfill, and paid the sin-debt in full through the crucifixion and resurrection. This was foretold in the Old Testament, where it says “I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.” (Hosea 2:23, NIV). Given the New Testament context, God’s chosen people is no longer just a nation, but rather anyone regardless of culture and ethnicity who believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, they become part of the greater spiritual Israel.
The Human Condition
There have been claims and even questions that sexual orientation may not merely be just a choice, but rather something that you’re born with. It might just so happen that Michael was born gay, or that Jessica was born a lesbian. After all, that is what Lady Gaga implies in her song Born this Way. But although there are many Christian groups who deny this, it is in fact a possibility. When considered carefully, we are all born into sin, and as a result, things may not be what they ought to be. The psalmist writes “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:1, NASB). The apostle Paul puts this into better perspective for us, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19, NASB). The one he refers to first is Adam. In the Garden of Eden, both Adam and Eve were given one simple commandment (Gen. 2:17), and they broke it, as a result they plunged the rest of humanity into moral depravity. Sin has since then ran its course, corrupting the cognitive faculties of man, bearing authorship of all sickness, disease, pain, corruption and death.
Placing this into context with homosexuality, you may be born a male and perhaps feel attracted to the same sex, but that doesn’t mean that you are a woman trapped in a male’s body, or vice versa. Since we ourselves can’t choose whether we are born male or female, we must regard our respective genders as sacred, a gift from God. To violate our genders is to violate what is sacred. But what hope is there then?
The apostle Paul mentioned “the obedience of the One,” in which He refers to Jesus Christ, the “second Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). In the first Adam, humanity fell into sin and damnation, but in the second Adam, we find salvation, redemption, yes even transformation. And that is the key, if someone is truly struggling with their sexual orientation, when they come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, they can be transformed from the inside out. There is evidence of this truth, as the epistle to the Corinthian church states “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11, NASB). The regenerative work of the Holy Spirit does away with the old sinful desires and births forth new desires, holy and godly desires that are in agreement with the law of God. The “old self” is crucified, the “new self” brought to life in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Scriptures are clear, homosexual activity is in fact a theological issue, it’s a very real moral issue, but the Bible also says that salvation is available to everyone, regardless of culture, community, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. If you were to compare a practicing homosexual with an adulterer or a liar, one is not worse than the other, all have sinned against God, and all need the salvation offered through Christ. To place it simply, the message of the Gospel can be summed up in John 3:16-21. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only solution to the human condition, and the only hope for the nation of Canada and beyond.
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