Over the past several years there is not a more controversial subject in the Christian community than homosexuality and how believers should regard it. Perhaps nothing more can be said that hasn’t already been said. Even so, I offer a couple of things to think about.
Remember the Purpose of Sex
The great message Christianity has for the world regarding sex is this: Sex has purpose and meaning. When it comes to the purpose of sex, most everyone has some opinion.
Many Christians have traditionally believed that the main purpose of sex is procreation––that is, making babies and obeying God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.
The larger culture thinks that the main purpose of sex is pleasure––that it is to be pleasurable and perhaps an exciting experience to enrich life.
Some people think the purpose of sex amounts to purchase. Sex is to be exchanged for security of some kind or another, such as relationship security, financial security, and so forth.
I believe the Bible teaches that the fundamental purpose of sex is pairing. In a healthy marriage relationship, sex has power on many levels: spiritual, physical, emotional (romantic), and so on. It has power to help strengthen the unity of a man and a woman in marriage.
The most important passage in the Bible regarding sex and marriage is Genesis 2:24: Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. When Jesus (Matthew 19:3-12) and Paul (Ephesians 5:22-33) taught about marriage and sex, they referred back to this exact passage. Of course, the one flesh relationship is more than sex; it is just one aspect of it. Yet Genesis 2:24 shows that God’s design for marriage and sex is for one man to join together with one woman in a true one flesh relationship intended to last a lifetime.
Obviously sex has some purpose in terms of procreation and pleasure, but those are behind God’s greatest purpose: to help in the paring together of a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, in a one flesh relationship.
When we understand God’s central purpose for sex, then every command in the Bible regarding sex makes sense. If it contributes to the oneness between a husband and wife, it is celebrated. If it would take away from oneness between a husband and wife (either now or in the future), it is prohibited. The Bible says that pre-marital and extra marital sex are sin because they don’t contribute to the eventual or present one flesh relationship between a husband and wife. The same is true for sex between people of the same gender, even if it can’t immediately or easily be seen how it takes away from a biblical one flesh relationship.
In this light, we understand why God calls sexual activity between people of the same gender sin: it is not a man and a woman joining together in God’s design for oneness. Like other forms of sexual sin, it is a misfire of God’s purpose for sex. And like all sin, it will ultimately take away from life and goodness rather than add to it.
I’ve read and thought through many of the present-day attempts to prove that despite what Christians have taught for almost 2,000 years, God and His Word approve of homosexual activity. It’s a lot to read and think through! Yet none of it satisfactorily justifies homosexual activity as fulfilling the purpose set out in Genesis 2:24. It can’t happen and won’t happen.
Remember the Difference Between Attractions and Actions
One of the biggest problems in the debate among Christians regarding homosexuality is that the terms used by each side may mean different things to them. How do you react to this sentence?
A homosexual can be a Christian in right standing with God.
The answer depends how you define “homosexual.” If by that term you mean one who practices homosexuality, engaging in sex with people of their same gender, the Bible gives one answer (which I believe is a clear “no”). If by “homosexual” you mean one who is attracted to people of their same gender, then the Bible may give you another answer.
More and more our culture defines “homosexual” as someone who is simply attracted to people of their same gender, even if they don’t actually have sex. I don’t like that definition and I don’t think it’s helpful, but I try to remember that this is how many in the culture think. Because of this there are some people who consider themselves homosexuals based on their attractions, not upon their actions.
While any attraction to sin may itself be sin, when the Bible gives commands regarding homosexuality, the emphasis is on the sexual act. As Christians in right standing with God, any of us may struggle against a variety of sinful desires.
• Christians tempted to sin need the love and support of their brothers and sisters, no matter what the sin is.
• Christians hoping to justify sin or make a peace treaty with sinful desires need the loving exhortation and biblical truth of their brothers and sisters, no matter what the sin is.
• As for those who are not yet Christians, we point them to the Savior Jesus Christ, who paid a great price to set them free from sin’s penalty, sin’s power, and eventually sin’s presence. We encourage them to repent and believe, and we love them in Jesus’ name.
There is much more that can and should be said about this significant biblical, moral, and cultural issue. At the end of it all, God wants His people to live with love and holiness, understanding not only His commands, but also the design behind them.