Does the Bible teach that all same-sex sexual acts are sinful, and as such carry the eternal consequences that all unrepented sin carries? I believe it does.
Does the Bible teach that all same-sex sexual acts are sinful, and as such carry the eternal consequences that all unrepented sin carries? I believe it does. But where does that leave us: those who feel same-sex attraction but also want to honour Christ; other Christians who want to be compassionate while also pleasing God; pastors who bring us the Word of life?
I have no space here to call attention to the biblical grounds for the consistent, centuries-long Judaic and Christian prohibition against same-sex sexual acts. Instead, below, I offer references that bring cogent answers to the modern assertions that we’ve misinterpreted Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin; that the Bible and the ancient world don’t/didn’t know homosexual orientation and that exclusive adult same-sex relationships were rare. (Regarding St. Paul’s world, and the ancient Greeks, there’s now much historical evidence that counters the new assertions, including, even, some references to same-sex marriages.)
God is the author of the Bible, and God is the author of our male-and-female human race created in his image. As such, neither he nor his Word is ignorant of any aspect of our nature. The Bible speaks often of illicit desires, which when “full-grown” become evil fruits. God knows how pernicious are those desires, how rooted in the DNA of our post-Fall natures. He profoundly understands our characteristics, proclivities, strivings, desires, actions – those he expresses delight in and those he says he abhors. But God doesn’t keep an “abhorrent sin” list to be a killjoy. Rather, he knows that everything he prohibits kills our joy because it is antithetical to how, why and for what he created us; and thus is also an affront to him as our Creator, Redeemer and Holy God.
Jesus asserts, “If you will be my disciples you must take up your cross and follow me.” That is: Through every trauma, tragedy, sorrow, difficulty, you must cling to me, testifying to my grace in your adversity even while showing the world that you are a new creation in me.
God determines the nature of the cross each of us must bear. Suffering for Jesus’ sake can take many forms, with arduous repercussions spiritual, physical and emotional. Some of us have crosses that test our physical well-being first: long-term illness, life-long handicaps. Some bear crosses of pain inflicted by others: abuse, abandonment. Others bear crosses that test desires that if regularly acted upon have the power to destroy us: pornography, alcohol addiction; and, yes, same-sex attraction.
In the midst of our suffering, He who suffered on our behalf beyond what we can possibly comprehend assures us that we who love him will not be tempted beyond what we can bear; that his yoke is easy and his burden light; and that he – our Lord himself! – is interceding for each of us in heaven to the Father.
Reach out in grace
As for how we in Christ’s church can help those among us who carry the cross of same-sex attraction, I think Jonathan Parnell (DesiringGod.org) has it right: “Distancing ourselves from both the left and the right, we don’t celebrate homosexual practice, we acknowledge God’s clear revealed word that it is sin; and we don’t hate those who embrace homosexuality, we love them enough to not just collapse under the societal pressure. We speak the truth in love into this confusion, saying, simultaneously, ‘That’s wrong’ and ‘I love you.’ We’re not the left; we say, this is wrong. And we’re not the right; we say, you’re loved. We speak good news, with those sweetest, deepest, most glorious words of the cross – the same words that God spoke us – ‘You’re wrong, and you’re loved.’
“That’s our message in this debate, when society’s elites despise us, when pop songs vilify us, when no one else has the resources to say anything outside of two extremes, we have this incomparable opportunity to let the gospel shine, to reach out in grace: You’re wrong and you’re loved. We get to say this.”
And then: we get to invite those brothers and sisters into the warmth of our friendships, marriages and families – loving, supporting, admonishing – walking together the narrow road that leads to life.
For further reading
* Kevin DeYoung: What Does the Bible Really Say About Homosexuality?
* Albert Mohler: God and the Gay Christian? A response to Matthew Vines.
* DesiringGod.org, by various writers, including Nick Roen and others who struggle with same-sex attraction.