Is God homophobic?

talking-about-sex-with-your-kidsHere’s the second of six thorny questions I’ve been asked to address. Last time it was “Hasn’t science disproved God?” Today we discuss “Is God homophobic?”

I’ve got to keep it under 600 words. I’d love if you could help. What have I missed? What have I got wrong?

………………………

Is God homophobic?

Christ is Core

“I will spit on anyone who says homosexuality is a sin!” So said my lunch companion. The provocation? I had just revealed I was a Christian. I hadn’t mentioned the topic but suddenly homosexuality was on the menu and the temperature shot up.

It was clear what she thought Christians were saying: “Sexually righteous people (like us) go to heaven. Sexual sinners (like you) go to hell.” But here’s the truth I tried to get across: only sexual sinners go to heaven.

Mark 2:17 applies as much to the bedroom as anywhere else: Jesus is a Spiritual Doctor who has come not for the sexually healthy but the sexually sick. And that’s all of us. Confessing to our own sins – sexual and otherwise – is vital in our witness. We proclaim a Saviour not a sexuality.

Desires Don’t Determine Us 

This needs to be carefully expressed but the Bible has little interest in our sexual orientation. Defining our identities according to our sexual preferences is a modern, western fascination unknown to the rest of the world (and to the rest of history). Jesus certainly does not preach heterosexual orientation. Can you imagine Jesus turning to His disciples and saying “Let your sexual desire be unto the multitude of women”? Inconceivable. Heterosexuality is not the point. And my orientation is not my identity.

Christians are Counter-Cultural

In Old Testament times, Egyptian and Assyrian views of sex were markedly different from Israel’s. Similarly, Greco-Roman views of sex were worlds apart from those of the New Testament. The Bible has always set out a radically different sexual ethic to the world’s. Therefore both Christians and non-Christians should stop being shocked by their differences. Remember 1 Corinthians 5:12!

Are Christians Homophobic?

Many Christians have been motivated by an irrational fear and hatred of homosexuals. For such un-Christ-likeness we can only apologise. But, on the other hand, if we’re simply disagreeing about sexual ethics, we should resist being labelled “homophobic”.

Just because a Buddhist forbids meat-eating, I don’t call him carni-phobic – I don’t assume he has an irrational hatred of carnivores! Instead I try to understand his view of the world – a bigger vision of reality in which vegetarianism makes sense. I might not agree, but I don’t think he’s bigoted.

In the same way, we must take every opportunity to step back from the hot topic of sex and explain the ‘bigger vision’ of the gospel.

Sex and the Gospel

The gospel is a love story, we should tell it as such (see Ephesians 5:21-33 for instance). Jesus, our heavenly Bridegroom gave Himself to us in a marriage union, paying off all our debts (on the cross) and giving us all His riches (in the resurrection). We proclaim this love to non-Christians. And for Christians, this love becomes the model for our own marriages (see Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:27-30; 19:1-12).

Because of the gospel we believe that two different parties should be united in unbreakable love (i.e. male and female, mirroring Christ and the church). Because of the gospel we believe we shouldn’t play around or only dabble in our unions. Instead we should commit for life (i.e. no sex outside marriage).

In all this, the point is not to enforce sexual laws, the point is to proclaim good news. For the non-Christian, their challenge is not, first and foremost, “Can I abide by this regime?” but “Do I believe this love story?” If they get the love, the life will follow.

Friend not Phobic

Jesus was known as the Friend of sinners. He never flinched from sexual sinners but forgave and freed them (see Luke 7:36-50). Here’s our message to the world: Come to Christ – not as hetero-sexual, homo-sexual, bi-sexual, etc – but simply as a sinner. At Christ’s table you have a place equal to every other sinner. Though we fail to reflect His gospel in a thousand ways, He knows how to lead us, step by step, into greater and greater freedom from sexual slaveries as well as the other really dangerous sins – like greed, unforgiveness and moral self-righteousness!

 

Posted on by Glen in apologetics, evangelism, gospel, sex

About Glen

I'm a preacher in Eastbourne, married to Emma.

19 Responses to Is God homophobic?

  1. Tim Coomar

    Great!

    Worth a mention of how consummation transcends and ultimately (ie. new creation) makes obsolete the physical act of sex…? No couple – gay or straight – will ever manage to consummate their union truly, yet at the same time only a straight couple can ever consummate their union in a form that points forward to the true and ultimate consummation (which you mention of course) between bride and groom.

    As a side note, I wonder how much of giving in to homosexual desire is actually a rejection of the principle of delayed gratification – one of the defining characteristics of the church’s identity here on earth. That is the point where I choose an identity that can only ever deny my identification with the Church.

    Just as straight Christians are called to witness to the Church’s final destination through their physical union, so gay Christians are called to witness to the Church’s present situation through their celibacy.

    We are a people called to wait – something our culture cannot abide.

  2. John B

    Do Christians tolerate same-sex marriages for non-Christians? Do Christians allow other Christians to enter into and remain in same-sex marriage unions? Do Christians sanction the same-sex marriages of other Christians?

  3. the Old Adam

    The desire for gays to be affirmed is pure willfulness.

    The church doesn’t do anyone a service when they affirm sin, of any kind. The law will not be mocked.

    We were ALL born liars…but that in no way makes it right.

  4. Cal

    Thought I would share this: http://archive.catholic.com/thisrock/1994/9407fea1.asp

    From the point of view from someone who lived the “gay lifestyle” to a gay affirming church to a Roman Catholic. He makes a lot of good points which have helped me rethink the whole issue. Especially how he marks the difference between “homosexual” and “gay”.

    Cal

  5. Nick

    Possibly the best 600 words I’ve read on the subject! (Although the article linked in Cal’s comment is very good too!)

    Had to think carefully about the bit where you wrote:

    “Jesus certainly does not preach heterosexual orientation. Can you imagine Jesus turning to His disciples and saying “Let your sexual desire be unto the multitude of women”?”

    Wonder if (word count permitting) a more obvious link between the sentences might help? … Perhaps:

    “Jesus certainly does not preach heterosexual orientation. Can you imagine Jesus turning to His disciples and saying “Let your sexual desire be unto women – your desire can be for multiple women, married women, even women too young to be able to make a considered decision whether or not to marry, just as long as they’re women!”?”

    P.S. Re The Old Adam’s comment, I understood from your blog that you weren’t affirming the gay person as a gay person, but as a person made in the image of God, regardless of their own particular brand of sin.

  6. John B

    Does the church discipline its members for homosexual sins?

  7. Independent Voter

    Despite your watering down and deflecting, God’s word on this remains the same as it ever was: That homosexuality is an abomination, that God gave them up to their vile passions to receive in them the results of their chosen lifestyle. yell and scream all you want and call me whatever you want to call me. You nor I can change a word of The Bible.

  8. Glen

    Thanks guys. Interesting link Cal – such an important issue, disentangling homosexual orientation and practice.

    Hi John – sorry your comments were caught in spam overnight. As for your questions, I’d say…

    Christians tolerate non-Christian gay marriage the way we tolerate a thousand things that aren’t Christian, like Muslim worship, or taking people to court, or violently resisting evil, etc, etc

    Christians shouldn’t allow other Christians to enter into same-sex marriage unions, nor sanction the same-sex marriages of other Christians and church discipling would become appropriate at some point. I’d put this in a similar category to how we should counsel Christians with eating disorders:

    http://christthetruth.net/2011/04/06/homosexuality-and-eating-disorders/

  9. Glen

    Hi Independent Voter,

    You say you cannot alter a word of Scripture and yet you do it twice in the space of two sentences.

    Nowhere does the Bible say that “homosexuality” is an abomination. A man lying with another man is an abomination (as is false worship, false weight and measures and many other crossings of boundaries). But you have confused sexuality with practice.

    You alter Scripture again when you misquote Romans 1. The Scriptures say that those practising homosexual sin “receive in them the results of their chosen *error*”. Why substitute a word from Adlerian psychology when the Bible is only interested in the activity.

    This is precisely why I have included a section on the irrelevance of “orientation / lifestyle / desires”

  10. Hend

    True!
    even as “heterosexual” Christians we are not free from sexual immorality! We are all equally immoral and we ought to repent. Am I right?

  11. Glen

    Yes indeed Hend, we’re all sexually disordered. We all need Jesus.

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  13. David Baker

    Thanks for this Glen – when you say you’ve “got to keep it under 600 words” where is the final version being published?
    Blessings, David

  14. Glen

    Hi David, Andy Frost and Share International are putting together a book on outreach to prepare churches for their Pentecost Festivals and the Crossing London mission next year.

  15. David Baker

    Can we use this article (and the others in this series) in our weekly newsletter? We routinely have an item of about this length, which either I write or re-produce from another source (duly credited).
    G&P David

  16. Glen

    Hi David,

    Yes that’s fine. Plunder whatever you think is worth plundering.

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