I’m A Christian & I Live in the Real World: Thinking Through Ethics – Homosexuality

21 Jun

This was part #2 to a series on ethics given during the Sunday PM services at Howick Baptist Church. A full PDF along with related links and an MP3 download of the talk can be found here.

Defining Terms:

Homosexual: a primary relational and sexual orientation toward a member of the same sex.

Gay: a term generally used by the media and public to describe those who identify themselves as active members of the LGBT community.

LGBT: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered – This is the preferred label by the active homosexual community.

Same-Sex Attraction: a predisposed attraction toward a member of the same sex, but not actually participating in gay or homosexual behaviour.

Cultural/Historical Trends:

The term homosexual itself was coined in the late nineteenth century in German psychological literature.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)[1]

DSM-I (1952): “homosexuality” was defined as “sociopathic personality disorder.”

DSM-II (1973): “homosexuality” was eliminated and replaced by “sexual orientation disturbance.”

DSM-III (1980/87) & DSM-IV (1994/2000): “homosexuality” was replaced by “gender identity disorder.”

Since 1973, the psychiatric community has shifted from considering homosexuality itself as a pathological problem to the struggle to come to terms with one’s sexual orientation as a psychiatric issue.

Societal Changes:[2]

Step #1: From Unthinkable to Radical

Step #2: From Radical to Acceptable

Step #3: From Acceptable to Sensible

Step #4: From Sensible to Popular

Step #5: From Popular to Policy

9 July 1986, The Homosexual Law Reform Bill passed parliament after 14 months by 49 votes to 44 votes.[3]

26 April 2006, Civil Unions come into effect.[4]

17 April 2013, The Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill[5] passed parliament by 77 votes to 44 votes.

What Does the Bible Say?:

Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25: God’s creative design and purpose

God gave man and woman as husband and wife the blessing of sex within the boundaries of covenantal faithfulness for the purpose of mutual pleasure and procreation.[6]

Genesis 19:1-11: Sodom & Gomorrah

God judged & destroyed Sodom & Gomorrah for the sin of homosexuality.

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13: Holiness Code

These commands expand on the Seventh Commandment. Their purpose is not exhaustive regulation of sexual activity but prohibition of the grossest offenses.

Romans 1:26-27: Homosexuality is “unnatural,” sin, and a sign of God’s judgement

Paul declares homosexual behaviour to be against God’s created purpose and design and an aspect of God’s judgement as He turns those that reject Him over to debauchery.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-10: Those who are excluded from the Kingdom of God

Those who are practicing homosexual behaviour are not citizens of the Kingdom of God. (i.e. not genuine Christians/believers in Christ) 1 Corinthians 6:11 is full of HOPE!

Is Homosexuality Determined at Birth? (i.e. biology & genetics):

Inherited: determined directly be genes (i.e. eye colour, hair colour, skin colour, etc.).

Heritable: A person with the trait identified as “heritable” has other traits that are genetically, biologically, or environmentally determined that predispose the person to have said “heritable” trait (i.e. intelligence, a moody personality, skilled rugby player, etc.).

“As might be expected, many in the pro-gay movement would like to prove that homosexual sexual orientation is genetically or biologically inherited. But the truth is that something as complex as sexual orientation isn’t simply reducible to a gene or genes or to some physiological characteristic that makes one either homosexual or heterosexual. Homosexual orientation and behaviour are not physical traits controlled by a gene or genes but rather behavioural traits. Behavioural traits are seldom, if at all, determined by genes, biology, or some other characteristic.

Moreover, we want to emphasise that something that is heritable is not necessitated. That is, just as some tall, fast, etc. people never become basketball players, possessing the traits that predispose one to homosexuality (if there are such traits) doesn’t guarantee that one will become a homosexual or will ever engage in homosexual behaviour.”[7]

“It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not find prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay centre in the brain…Since I looked at adult brains, we don’t know if the differences I found were there at birth or if they appeared later.”[8]

But, what if they find some genetic source in the future?

“That is, even if a genetic or biological factor(s) were a causal influence in sexual orientation and behaviour, when homosexuals engage in same-sex sexual relations and heterosexuals engage in adulterous and fornicating (if unmarried) behaviour, they aren’t forced to do so against their will. Scripture can still be right that people engage in such behaviour because they have rejected the truth God has revealed about himself and about the proper use and function of our bodies.”[9]

How to We Love Homosexuals?[10]

Visiting our church

Welcome them as guests and visitors, inviting them to interact with the sermon or other aspect of the service for which they may have questions.

Like any other non-Christian who is likely to be actively engaging in less obvious sins.

Visiting our home

Show hospitality and a welcoming attitude.

Show a consistency in expectations between any biblically unmarried couple. (i.e. limiting expressions of physical affection, no sleeping the same room, etc.)

Share the Gospel of Christ as you would with any other non-Christian who is likely to be actively engaging in less obvious sins.

Attending weddings

As a pastor, I cannot participate in a wedding (or civil union) ceremony of a same-sex couple under any circumstances.

Would your attendance be interpreted to mean affirmation and approval of the marriage? If so, you may have to choose to not attend knowing there will be difficult relational consequences.

Love Letter to a Lesbian[11]

By Jackie Hill

Dear ______,

I just want you to know that I understand.

I understand how it feels to be in love with a woman. To want nothing more than to be with her forever. Feeling as if the universe has played a cruel joke on your heart by allowing it to fall into the hands of a creature that looks just like you.

I too was a lesbian. I had same-sex attractions as early as five-years old. As I grew up, those feelings never subsided. They only grew. I would find myself having crushes on my female best friends, but I was far too ashamed to admit it to them — let alone to myself.

At the age of 17, I finally made the decision to pursue these desires. I entered into a relationship with a young lady who became my “first.” The first time we kissed, it felt extremely natural, as if this feeling is what I had been missing all along. After her came another woman and then another woman. Both relationships were very serious, each lasting over a year. I enjoyed these relationships and loved these women a lot. And it came to the point that I was willing to forsake all, including my soul, to enjoy their love on earth.

In October 2008, at the age of 19, my superficial reality was shaken up by a deeper love — one from the outside, one that I’d heard of before but never experienced. For the first time, I was convicted of my sin in a way that made me consider everything I loved (idolized), and its consequences. I looked at my life, and saw that I had been in love with everything except God, and these decisions would ultimately be the death of me, eternally. My eyes were opened, and I began to believe everything God says in his word. I began to believe that what he says about sin, death, and hell were completely true.

And amazingly, at the same time that the penalty of my sin became true to me, so did the preciousness of the cross. A vision of God’s Son crucified, bearing the wrath I deserved, and an empty tomb displaying his power over death — all things I had heard before without any interest had become the most glorious revelation of love imaginable.

After realizing all of what I would have to give up, I said to God, “I cannot let these things or people go on my own. I love them too much. But I know you are good and strong enough to help me.”

Now, at the age of 23, I can say with all honesty that God has done just that. He has helped me love him more than anything.

Now why did I just tell you about this? I gave you a glimpse of my story because I want you to understand that I understand. But I also want you to know that I also understand how it feels to be in love with the Creator of the universe. To want nothing more than to be with him forever. To feel his grace, the best news ever announced to mankind. To see his forgiveness, that he would take such a wicked heart into his hands of mercy.

But with that in mind, we’re in a culture where stories like mine either seem impossible or hilarious, depending on the audience. Homosexuality is everywhere — from music, to TV, even sports. If you’d believe all that society had to say about homosexuality, you’d come to the conclusion that it is completely normal, even somewhat admirable. But that is far from the truth. God tells us that homosexuality is sinful, abominable, and unnatural (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–10). But if I were to be honest, sometimes homosexual attractions can seem natural to me.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this may be your dilemma as well. You see what God has to say about homosexuality, but your heart doesn’t utter the same sentiments. God’s word says it’s sinful; your heart says it feels right. God’s word says it’s abominable; your heart says it’s delightful. God’s word says it’s unnatural; your heart says it’s totally normal. Do you see that there is a clear divide between what God’s word says and how your heart feels?

So which voice should you believe?

There was a time in my walk with Christ where I experienced a lot of temptation about falling back into lesbianism. These temptations caused me to doubt God’s word. My temptations and desires began to become more real to me than the truth of the Bible. As I was praying and meditating on these things, God put this impression on my heart: “Jackie, you have to believe that my word is true even if it contradicts how you feel.” Wow! This is right. Either I trust in his word or I trust my own feelings. Either I look to him for the pleasure my soul craves or I search for it in lesser things. Either I walk in obedience to what he says or I reject his truth as if it were a lie.

The struggle with homosexuality is a battle of faith. Is God my joy? Is he good enough? Or am I still looking to broken cisterns to quench a thirst only he can satisfy? That is the battle. It is for me, and it is for you.

The choice is yours, my friend. I pray you put your faith in Christ and flee from the lies of our society that coincide with the voices of your heart — a heart that Scripture says is wicked and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Run to Jesus instead.

You were made for him (Romans 11:36). He is ultimately all that you need! He is good and wise (Psalm 145:9). He is the source of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). He is kind and patient (2 Peter 3:9). He is righteous and faithful (Psalm 33:4). He is holy and just (1 John 1:9). He is our true King (Psalm 47:7). He is our Savior (Jude 1:25). And he is inviting you to be not just his servant, but also his friend. If lasting love is what you’re looking for anywhere else, you are chasing the wind, seeking what you will never find, slowly being destroyed by your pursuit.

But in Jesus, there is fullness of joy. In Jesus, there is a relationship worth everything, because he is everything. Run to him.

[1] Green, Joel B., Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Rebekah Miles, and Allen Verhey. Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic, 2011, pg. 373.

[6] See lesson #1 in this series

[7] John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World: 2nd Edition (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010), 366.

[8] Simon LeVay, “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Science 235 (August 30, 1991): 1034-1037. (The most widely cited scientific article to claim the discovery of a “gay gene.”

[9] [9] John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World: 2nd Edition (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010), 383.

[10] Butterfield, Rosaria Champagne. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor’s Journey into Christian Faith. Pittsburgh, Pa: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2012. (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)


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