I remember where I was the day the U. S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 in the Obergefell vs Hodges case to affirm same-sex marriage as law throughout the United States. I had long before developed biblical convictions concerning the topics of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, but this moment seemed to especially stir up my heart and mind.
I had two feelings in my heart that day: sadness and fear.
I saw people celebrating this decision regarding same-sex marriage. I saw the White House light up with the rainbow colors of the LGBT flag. These are real people, who deeply love the same sex, and felt an affirmation that they now had the right the marriage. Yet, I was sad because we, as a nation, had rejected God’s good design of sexuality and marriage. Not doubt this had long begun before this Supreme Court decision. I was also sad because people would now be even more affirmed to find their identity in something that will never provide full, eternal satisfaction.
I was also afraid because I thought I would be labeled a bigot, a hater, narrow-minded. I knew those things weren’t true, but it was hard to know people might think those things about me. I was afraid of how this might play out for Christian institutions and local churches. What would become of Christianity universities, non-profits, business ownters, and local churches who hold to a biblical understanding of sexuality and marriage. I was also afraid of how the church would respond. Would the church conform to the culture expectation to affirm homosexuality and same-sex marriage? Would the church retreat in silence or would it lash out in anger? Would the church be a faithful witness to the gospel in response to homosexuality?
In the time since that decision, those feelings of sadness and fear have been confirmed in many ways. However, it has also pushed me back to God’s Word to see what He has to say about our sexuality and how it leads us to engage others on this issue. As I serve students–all the way from middle school to college–I am more convinced than ever of our need to return to God’s Word and to see what it says about homosexuality.
I fear that younger Christians may not have the stomach for disagreement or the critical mind for careful reasoning. Look past the talking points. Read up on the issues. Don’t buy every slogan and don’t own every insult. The challenge before the church is to convince ourselves as much as anyone that believing the Bible does not make us bigots, just as reflecting the times does not make us relevant. – Kevin DeYoung (143)
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
Before jumping into specific passages, consider the following four points:
- The Bible says something about homosexuality.
- The Bible’s message about homosexuality is clear.
- The Bible is not primarily about homosexuality.
- The Bible has more to say to homosexual people than just what it says about homosexuality.
The Bible’s message is clear about homosexuality.
In the church at Corinth, there must have been a follower of Christ who once walked in unbelief and homosexuality. Somewhere along the way in his life, he heard the gospel. Maybe it was from Paul’s preaching or through the ministry of Apollos. Regardless of who shared the gospel with this man, he repented of his sin and put his faith in Jesus Christ. We don’t have the details of his conversion, but Paul shares a testimony of God’s grace and the power of the gospel over sexual immorality and sinful rebellion.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, 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. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 shows us that, apart from repentance and faith in Christ, those who practice homosexuality—as well as any other form of sexual immorality, greed, theft, deceit, and drunkenness—will be excluded from the kingdom of God. All sin is serious, including homosexuality, and all sin will lead to God’s judgment. Yet, no sin has to be the final word on our life. In verse 11, Paul says, “such were some of you…” This reminds us that no one is beyond the power of the gospel and that no sin is beyond escape. What may describe us now need to describe us forever. What once defined us does not have to continue to define us. In Christ, we can be made new. Those who are made new may still experiences feelings and temptations towards same-sex attraction, but they now have a new identity in Christ and are brought into a new family to help them walk in faithful obedience.
What Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is consistently repeated throughout Scripture. God’s message is clear: God forbids homosexual activity of any kind. Consider other passages that speak to the issue of homosexuality:
- In Genesis 19:4-5, God condemns the homosexuality of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- In Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13, God condemns all sexual immorality, including general, consensual homosexual activity.
- In Mark 7:21, Jesus calls all sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage sinful.
- In Romans 1:18-32, homosexuality is against God’s purpose for humanity and is a sign of God’s judgment.
- In 1 Timothy 1:9-10, homosexuality—like other forms of sexual and non-sexual sin—goes against sound doctrine and new life in Christ was are called to live.
Now, there are some who attempt to dismiss what the Bible says in these passages by arguing that they reflect something different than the type of homosexuality expressed in committed and monogamous same-sex marriage. I think an honest reading of the passages listed above silence this argument. However, there are resources that help answer these objections at others like Kevin DeYoung’s What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality and Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.
DeYoung rightly emphasizes the clarity and the urgency of upholding what the Bible teaches about homosexuality:
When we tolerate the doctrine which affirms homosexual behavior, we are tolerating a doctrine which leads people further from God. This is not the mission Jesus gave his disciples when he told them to teach the nations everything he commanded. The biblical teaching is consistent and unambiguous: homosexual activity is not God’s for his people. Silence in the face of such clarity is not prudence, and hesitation in light of such frequency is not patience. The Bible says more than enough about homosexual practice for us to say something too. – Kevin DeYoung