Fade in on the little town of Bomont, presumably in rural Illinois. At a pulpit in a small local church is the Reverend Shaw Moore. He’s fond of crazed pastoral rants against dancing. You may recognize him—he’s the angry pastor-dad from Footloose.
There are still some Reverend Shaw’s around—less than there used to be, but still plenty everywhere. He epitomizes the wrong way to think about the sexual and gender confusion in our society.
What should Christians think about Pride Month?
This article is not about “why it’s wrong.” It’s not a list of “unstoppable” answers to “destroy” the opposition. Instead, it’s a proposal for a better way to think about these issues. It proceeds in five stages:
A snapshot of reality in 2022—a quick assessment for the church
Stories or scripts … and you
The LGBTQ script
The Christian script
What should Christians think about Pride Month?
Where We Are—A Frank Assessment of Reality in 2022
I’ll share three snapshots of the reality of life in the West, in 2022. These are not crazed stories from dark corners on the web. They’re from mainstream news outlets:
Trans people are … cathedrals?
The first anecdote is a short video from Middle Church, in New York City. This church has a pastor on staff who boasts in his bio that he won the seminary drag contest. The video’s thesis is that “trans people are cathedrals.” Like cathedrals, trans people are always in flux, always being remodeled, expanded, contracted—being restored. And like cathedrals, the narrator intones, trans bodies are sacred, holy spaces.
Sarah and Dickie
In Dusseldorf, there lives a 23-year-old woman named Sarah Rodo, who wishes to marry her toy Boeing 737, which she’s named “Dicki” (for reasons about which I dare not speculate). One news article features Sarah clad in lingerie, bathed in a deep red light, cradling Dickie in her arms. The caption notes, “Sarah says she is particularly attracted to Dicki’s face, wings and engine.”
Thirdly, I present a Japanese man who has married a plush doll depicting a fictional anime character:
… life with Miku, he argues, has advantages over being with a human partner: She’s always there for him, she’ll never betray him, and he’ll never have to see her get ill or die. Mr. Kondo sees himself as part of a growing movement of people who identify as ‘fictosexuals.’
What does this reality mean?
It means people increasingly have no idea what Christianity is or what it means—it’s parallel to us recoiling at Sarah and poor Dickie! And, because nothing is more personal than sex or felt identity, this means there will only be increasing confusion and anger at Christians as we oppose the sexual redefinitions entrenched in our society. So, we need to explain the Christian story to them like they know and understand nothing—because they probably don’t. We need more than, “Jesus loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.” That means nothing to many people, today.
If that is the case, then I suggest three wrong approaches that will likely have to die, especially regarding sexual ethics, because of this reality:
First: a retail (“come to me”) evangelism model is weak, and it always has been.
The “if we have the event at the church building, they will come!” mindset needs to die. If you are in the rural or semi-urban Midwest or South, this may not apply.
Second, the death of the confrontational model.
Because of the cultural disconnect between Christ and culture, “one off” evangelistic encounters are likely not enough by themselves to be successful—the “gap” is too much! Could one conversation with Sarah (the plane girl) convince you to initiate a sexual relationship with a toy plane? That’s the “gap” you’re dealing with, in some cases. This gap will only grow!
Salvation is a cultivating process (e.g. parable of the sower, Mt 13:3-8—see also the Rainer model), so relationships and roles are important. When you have a relationship with people, you earn the right to speak truth. In this cultivation cycle, you don’t always know your role—you’re likely a waystation on the person’s spiritual trajectory.
Third, lots of law, but little or no grace.
This is Rev Shaw’s way. The vibe is not evangelism, but disgust and distance. You change your statement of faith to “keep the gays away.” You amend your by-laws so “they” can’t “force you” to use your church building in a way you disapprove. The goal is isolation from “those people.” This is the default model in many traditional churches—usually led by older pastors from a different era
So, we need something more—we need to “tell the better story.” Accordingly, there are at least two wrong attitudes that achieve nothing that we ought to throw overboard:
First, don’t be full of anger and outrage.
This common attitude is directly opposite to what the parable of the weeds and the wheat tell us (Mt 13:24ff). In that parable, the field is the world. Jesus likens the kingdom situation to this world. What’s the situation? The world is a mess—a mixed bag. Good wheat is intermingled with the weeds. The kingdom’s servants ask whether they ought to go pull the weeds up. Jesus says no—wait until the end, and the angels will harvest the field appropriately. Until then, this world will remain a mess.
This false model assumes:
The world should be a pure world—a Christian world,
But, it ain’t like that,
So, that makes us mad,
So, we wage a crusade to “take America back” for God.
This is a lie. The true model, from the parable, is that this world is and will remain very messy. So, sexual and gender confusion reign. Big surprise! The second wrong attitude is just as deadly:
Second, don’t be warm Jello.
In our quest to “listen,” we forget God really does have something to say about sexual ethics—and has a message of liberation from wrong ideas and desires.
What’s Your Story?
Everyone has a “story” or a “script” that shapes their view of the world. The filter thru which they interpret things, understand themselves, and their place and role in the world. It answers the “big questions” of life. This “script” also answers more immediate, practical questions:
Who do I love?
Who can I love?
What is a man?
What is a woman?
How do I know who am I?
What’s expected of me and how do I live up to it?
So, the Japanese guy who married a doll has a story.
Sarah Rodo, the plane girl, has a story.
People confused by their gender have a story.
People confused about their sexual feelings have a story.
You may not like it or understand it, but they each have a script that they’ve made up or adopted that makes their choices “make sense” to them and gives them an identity.
Mark Yarhouse, a Christian psychologist out of Wheaton College who specializes in sexual and gender issues, identifies three stages for identity:
Dilemma. My experiences and feelings are not what’s “normal” or “expected.”
Development. The business of finding, sorting, and weighing answers to these dilemmas.
Synthesis. Your solution to the problem—you figure out “who you are” and come to some conclusions.
How you sort all this out depends on what “script” or “story” you find most persuasive about life. Like actors with their scripts for their roles, our “script” gives us our cues, tells us our lines, and lets us know what’s expected of us—“this is your part, this is your role, and this is how we expect you to play it.”
For example, in some generic flavors of American culture today:
A 19-year-old boy can’t come back to live at home, because that would make him a loser. But, a girl of the same age can come home without stigma.
A man who sleeps around is a hero, but a woman who does the same is morally bankrupt.
A man “should” like hunting, fishing, shooting guns, and grilling. A woman “should” like Hobby Lobby, journaling, and Lifetime movies.
None of these are biblically mandated, but they’re real, they’re out there, and they’re “the script” many of us accept as “the way things are.” We learned the script at home, at school, from friends, from family, from experience. They’re baked into everything. The key tell is that these scripts are more felt or implied, than explained.
We have “lines” for sexual feelings + gender, too—but what if these roles don’t fit you very well? Someone’s gonna hand them a new script, a different script—one that claims to “explain” their feelings. It’ll either be the world’s script—the LGBTQ script—or it’ll be Christ’s script. Or it’ll be both. But someone’s gonna hand them a script.
The LGBTQ community has a script to hand to confused people. I present to you the Gingerbread Person:
Here’s a precis of the LGTBQ script:
Your feelings are natural, good, and healthy.
You need to discover “who you are,” and working out your true “gender identity” is the key to your self-discovery.
Your sexual attractions and/or inner feelings about your gender are the core of who you are as a person—it’s your identity!
So, your sexual behavior and/or gender expression is the fruit of your identity.
The only way you can be “true to yourself” is to live out that identity before the world
This is a very powerful script. If you’re a confused 15-year-old girl, what do you think she’ll find more compelling?
Embrace sexual attractions or inner feelings to “discover who you really are?”
Or, a guy with a “Footloose preacher” vibe: “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!”
The Better Story
Taking a strictly defensive “Alamo approach” is the wrong way to respond. This includes (but is not limited to) sermons from Leviticus, amendments to the doctrinal statement to “protect” the church, and anger and rage a la Rev. Shaw.
The right way is to tell a different story; a better story! Identity is not about feelings as the pathway to self-discovery, but a choice about love and loyalty—will you follow your feelings or will you follow God?
What does God’s story say about identity? The best synopsis is from 1 Peter 2:9-11:
You can be a part of something infinitely larger than yourself.
Part of a chosen people.
Part a royal priesthood to show and tell God’s story of love to the world.
A citizen of a holy nation—one that transcends any nationalist loyalties from the here and now.
Part of God’s special possession to tell about His mercy and love.
God came to rescue us from ourselves, give us a new name, a new family, a new heart, a new mind, and a better tomorrow. This identity is part of a story:
God is making a community,
thru Jesus the King,
for His coming kingdom
You think the bible’s story is about salvation? Covenant? Kingdom? Promise? No—all these are waypoints in aid of something fundamentally simpler—a community, a restoration of the fellowship we were made to have with God and with each other.
This story has at least three plot moves:
Creation. God made everything, and He made it good.
Fall. Our first parents ruined it all, when Satan deceived them.
Rescue. God’s plan to fix the mess, thru Jesus the King.
What place does Jesus offer us in this story?
Purpose—to be royal priests!
Renovation—to remodel our hearts and minds to mirror His!
Tell the Better Story
Think with me, now—isn’t this such a different story than the LGBTQ script? Isn’t it such a better response than to only circle the wagons and preach angry sermons from Leviticus 18?
There is a concept in military strategy called “peer competitor,” which refers to an evenly matched geo-political foe. For example, China is a near peer competitor with the USA and some believe they will likely outmatch us within one or two generations.
The Footloose preacher is not a peer competitor to the LGBTQ script. He’s a babe in the woods, ranting at the sky—an artifact from very different era. He isn’t interested in telling the better story—only in the “purity” of his tribe.
But, the Christian story is more than a “peer competitor” to the LGBTQ script. It’s an alternative story—a better story. So, churches and their people must tell that story, persuade, make people think, beg them to see Jesus and His love.
We must give people real answers to real questions about a sexual or gender script that don’t feel they fit into very well. Basically, we need to tell the better story—the Gospel story.
For the sermon from this material, you can find the audio version here:
“Cathedrals are trans bodies—beautiful and holy in every inch and in every moment of existence. They are beautiful and holy when they are first built, and beautiful when they are altered and edited, and they are beautiful and holy in the midst of that change. Even engulfed in scaffolding, even in the midst of a collapse. And their holiness and beauty is reflected in the lives of trans people—who do not only mimic the form of Christ on the cross but contain in their bodies the holiness of creation”
 “Many Christians learned a mechanical, aggressive approach to evangelism. We attended workshops and read books based on techniques developed by people who have the gift of evangelism. That is the problem. When those of us who are not gifted evangelists muster up the courage to try these techniques, the results are usually disappointing—which makes us feel guilty and often offends others. We begin to think of ourselves as substandard disciples who are simply not able to share our faith. Although we want to see friends and colleagues come to Christ, we stop trying out of fear and frustration.
The problem is one of perspective, not inability. We tend to think of evangelism as an event, a point in time when we explain the gospel message and individuals put their faith in Jesus on the spot. Done!” (Bill Peel and Walt Larrimore, Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work (Longview: LeTourneau Press, 2014; Kindle ed.), KL 196).
I discussed the issue of homosexuality in apologetics class at my church this evening. I am burdened to share that, far too often, I believe Christians do not demonstrate the love of Christ to homosexuals.
Homosexuality is one grievous sin among many which men commit. Running from the issue, or holding homosexuals at arm’s length is not the answer. Jesus Christ is the answer, for this or any other sin men struggle with. Too many Christians have such a visceral reaction to the sin that it impedes evangelism of a group of folks who sorely need the Gospel.
Nobody would advocate ministering to alcoholics by deriding them, barring the church doors to them or calling them “lushes” from the pulpit. Nor would many Christians think it were a good practice to minister to drug addicts by calling them “junkies.” Yet, some of us would not hesitate to shout the word “sodomite” from the pulpit, almost relishing the chance to condemn this particular sin. It does need to be condemned, in no uncertain terms, but if we’re being deliberately spiteful while we’re doing it we achieve precisely nothing.
I have written a Biblical theology on the issue of homosexuality in the New Testament elsewhere on this blog, for those who are seeking an in-depth study. I also embedded two videos explaining the same within the blog itself. However, here I want to present the moving testimony of Rosaria Butterfield, a committed lesbian intellectual who came to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ through the kind, loving ministry of a local church. This is the kind of love we must show to homosexuals, or any person struggling with any sin. Do not condone the sin, and do call the person to repentance and faith in Christ – but don’t be deliberately spiteful and hateful while doing so.
This testimony is 60 mins long. In this age of sound bites and limited attention spans, I may be criticized for expecting you to watch something so long. Believe me, it is worth it. I hope it convicts us all.
This article is a work in progress. It was originally a paper for Seminary. Much work remains to be done. This article will be updated as new material is added. As it stands now, it is a brief Biblical Theology of homosexuality from the New Testament.
The Scriptures expressly state that homosexuality is a sin; however, all-too often this issue is reduced to proof-texting and exhaustive parsing of words in the original languages. While this is certainly necessary and a worthy endeavor, the issue goes far deeper than exegeting words. It goes beyond proof-texting and strikes at the heart of what it means to be a Christian and part of God’s family.
Some unrepentant homosexuals who claim the title of “Christian” justify their behavior on the basis of biology – “God made me this way, so you must accept me.” Such a position is not grounded on faithful exegesis but on a secular benchmark for morality. “The growing attempt to provide a niche for the homosexual lifestyle in society is part of a much bigger problem that reflects the death of moral absolutes.” Scripture teaches a very different paradigm.
At the outset, one thing must be made perfectly clear – homosexuality is but one grievous sin among many which men commit. Running from the issue, or holding homosexuals at arm’s length is not the answer. Jesus Christ is the answer, for this or any other sin men struggle with. Too many Christians have such a visceral reaction to the sin that it impedes evangelism of a group of folks who sorely need the Gospel.
This paper will argue for two basic principles from Scripture regarding homosexuality.
(1) Homosexuality is explicitly characterized as a sin in Scripture.
(2) Scriptures expressly state Christians are to lead holy lives. God has certain standards and expectations of His people – expectations which are rooted in His intrinsic holiness. We are to die to the flesh and grow in Christ (1 Cor 5:17). Christians are commanded to lead holy lives, acceptable before God. This necessarily precludes, by God’s own standard, unrepentant homosexual activity .
The paper will present a Biblical Theology of this issue, following the NT in chronological fashion and tracing the development of these two themes from the Gospels onward.
The author holds several presuppositions from the OT text which cannot be argued for, given the necessary scope of this paper. They are as follows;
(1) God created man and woman in His own image (Gen 1:26-27).
(2) Men and woman were created specifically by God, who gave them the breath of life (Gen 2:7), as His special creatures to have dominion over all others (Gen 1:26b).
(3) God appointed man as a vice-regent or royal steward over His creation (Gen 1:26, 28; 2:5,15) and made woman to be man’s special helper in this appointed task (Gen 2:18, 20b).
(4) The only sanctioned sexual activity for mankind is between one man and one woman in marriage (Gen 2:21-24). This union is a covenant relationship, clearly monogamous, and is rooted in God’s command for men to procreate and subdue the earth (Gen 1:28).
Jesus did not deal with homosexuality specifically, but He did clearly call men to two very specific commands; (1) repentance from sins, and (2) belief in the Gospel (Mk 1:14-15). Christ uttered these words in his initial ministry to the Jews, who were certainly quite familiar with the OT law regarding sexual immorality and righteous living (Lev 18:22; 19:2). Christ certainly did not have half-measures in mind; “repentance and belief cannot be applied to certain areas of life but not to others; rather, they lay claim to the total allegiance of believers.”
Holiness and purity of life are a vital components to lifestyle evangelism (Mt 5:13-16). Christians are to be a light to the world, in the same fashion the Israelites were commanded to be a kingdom of priests, drawing all nations to themselves and ultimately God (Mt 5:13-16; Ex 19:5-6).
The dispensation of the law was still binding at the time Christ spoke those words. Christ called His Jewish listeners to meet this standard; the same one God gave to Moses so long ago. His audience could not fail to recognize that Christ was calling them to repent of their sins, believe He was their Messiah, the fulfillment of the Mosaic law, and draw all nations to God by their own example. The law included clear prohibitions against homosexuality (Lev 18:22). Christ’s admonitions to “let your light so shine before others” (Mt 5:16), when understood in the context of His Jewish audience, clearly prohibited homosexual activity. If they could not fulfill the calling to be a testimony for Him, “they were useless as far as God’s purposes are concerned.”
Christ had the same idea in mind when he identified the two “greatest commandments” which characterized Israel’s responsibility before God. (1) Love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself (Mt 22:37-39; Deut 6:5; Lev 19:34). These two commandments summed up the entire corpus of the Mosaic law (Mt 22:40). Christ was telling the Pharisees that a willing, all-encompassing love for God was essential; He echoed Moses’ words to Israel – God sought a circumcision of the heart (Deut 10:16). This necessarily entailed a whole-hearted commitment to the Mosaic law, including prohibitions against homosexuality and all other forms of immorality.
If Christ, in His early ministry to the Jews, was calling them to repent and conform to the Mosaic law out of love for Him, He surely condemned homosexual behavior.
The Pauline Epistles
Paul was emphatic about both the sin of homosexuality in general and God’s expectation that Christians live holy lives for the God who saved them.
Grace and apostleship in Jesus Christ will bring about obedience for those who are called to faith in Christ (Rom 1:5). Apparently, Christ intends to achieve a specific goal in the lives of the elect – namely, obedience of faith.
Dishonoring of Their Bodies
All men willfully suppress the truth about God in unrighteousness – this makes God very wrathful and angry precisely because natural revelation testifies to His power and glory. Men are left without excuse for rejecting Him (Rom 1:18-20). Nevertheless, men willfully dishonor the God who created them and creation itself. Men imagined God did not exist; they became vain in their imaginations and their foolish hearts were darkened. Their worldly wisdom was really folly and they exchanged worship of the one true God for worldly objects with no power or worth whatsoever (Rom 1:21-23).
It was for this very reason that God gave them over to sexual perversion, the “dishonoring of their bodies before themselves,” (Rom 1:24b). Paul provides specifics about this sexual perversion shortly (v. 26-28), but it is critical to note that God did not impel rebellious sinners to do these evil deeds. He simply removed His divine restraint on man’s sinful, fallen lusts and allowed them to go their own way – “God actively let people go.” Men dishonored their bodies, which Paul repeatedly referred to as a temple of God in other epistles, by abusing them in a fashion dishonoring to God and His image which they bear in the flesh. They reject God and worship the creature more than the creator. “It is not that men grant God a relative honor in their devotion, but none at all. They have wholly rid themselves of Him.”
These “dishonorable passions” (Rom 1:26) God gave them over to clearly included homosexual acts. Both women and men exchanged natural relations for those which are contrary to nature and were “consumed with passion for one another” (Rom 1:27). The basis for the term “dishonorable passions” is that the only natural sexual relationship the Bible recognizes is distinctly heterosexual between married men and women (Gen 2:21-24; Mt 19:4-6).
Once again men were allowed to pursue their sinful desires as the consequence of God’s wrath for their willful rebellion (Rom 1:26); “God simply took His hands off and let willful rejection of Himself produce its ugly results in human life.” God abandoned men to their lusts (Rom 1:28). This removal of divine restraint produced all manner of wicked behavior, homosexuality being only one among many defiling acts (Rom 1:29-31). Attempts by some commentators to claim that Paul merely imposed cultural standards on his audience fail at this point. Paul was not addressing basing his condemnation of homosexual behavior on cultural mores of the time, “he addressed same-sex relations from the transcultural perspective of God’s created order.”
Paul reminds us that men are entirely without excuse and know “God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die,” (Rom 1:32a). All men have God’s law written on their heart (Rom 2:14-15) because they are created in His very image. Yet still, men willfully and intelligently reject God and not only commit such evil acts, but positively approve of them (Rom 1:32b).
Christ is the only possible object of saving faith (Acts 4:12). Christians, including those who condone an unrepentant homosexual lifestyle, cannot lay a foundation which is not built upon Christ (1 Cor 3:11). He is the only foundation. Paul went on to state that God’s temple is holy, and Christians are that temple (1 Cor 3:17). This is very important – Christ is the only foundation and Christians have an inherent obligation to live holy lives. “Do you not know that youare God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy them (1 Cor 3:17). “God in His justice and holiness cannot allow part of His holy work to be damaged without bringing retribution.” Because of what God did for them, Christians are called to conform to God’s standard – not their own. There are consequences for violating this standard.
God’s standard for sexual morality is enforced repeatedly throughout the Pauline Epistles. Any sexual behavior outside the established boundaries is unacceptable in the sight of God. Paul condemned a Corinthian Christian for sexual relations with his mother (1 Cor 5:1). The man was unrepentant and arrogant, and Paul recommended the offender be removed from fellowship (1 Cor 5:2,5). Christians should never even associate with believers involved in sexual immorality of any kind, necessarily including homosexuality (1 Cor 5:11). Paul even ordered the “evil person” be put out from among the fellowship of believers (1 Cor 5:13).
A Christian stands with Christ and judges the entire world at the end of days, including angels! (1 Cor 6:2; 2 Pet 2:4; Jude 6). Yet, Paul accused the Corinthians of being incompetent to perform this task because of their sin (1 Cor 6:2). The wicked eill not inherit the Kingdom of God precisely because of their sin (1 Cor 6:9), but the saints were acting no differently. Neither homosexuals or the sexually immoral will ever inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9-10).
A Christian saved by God’s grace belongs to the Lord; his body is not his own (1 Cor 6:13b-20; 2 Cor 6:16-18). “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body,” (1 Cor 16:13b). Paul went on to state plainly “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18a). How can a Christian fulfill the command to “do all to the glory of God” and walk in a manner worthy of Him (1 Cor 10:31; Col 1:10; 2 Thes 2:12) if he dishonors God by abusing the temple of his body by homosexual behavior?
Sanctification cannot come about with unrepentant sin, including homosexuality. Paul wrote we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another,” (2 Cor 3:18). Sanctification is progressive; “Christlikeness is the goal of the Christian walk.” As one commentator observed, the goal of Christlikeness and the means to Christlikeness mutually inform each other. Homosexuality is in conflict with God’s standard – sanctification cannot occur with the barrier of unrepentant homosexual sin in place.
Christians must give up self-rule, or autonomy, and submit to have God as the authority over their life. Submission to God has necessary implications for lifestyle and holiness. Jesus Christ is Lord, and Christians are His servants (2 Cor 4:5b) This is not popular doctrine; the original sin of Adam and Eve, a desire for autonomy from God and His standards, lives on even today.
Those whom God, in His grace, saves from hell are a new creation. The old nature has passed away (2 Cor 5:17). This new nature, this regeneration should produce a desire for positive change towards God and His standards of holiness. “The new life of devotion to Christ means that one has new attitudes and actions.” Absent a repentant heart and a desire to conform sexual behavior to God’s standards, a man is not regenerated and does not have saving faith in Christ.
Paul continues the theme of holiness demanded of the Christian in the epistle to the Ephesians. A Christian’s election, by God’s grace before the world was even created, is predicated on the expectation that “we should be holy and blameless before him,” (Eph 1:4). Prior to regeneration, men are dead in trespasses and sins in a world energized and influenced by Satan (Eph 2:1-2). God, in His mercy, made some alive in Christ to demonstrate His unending grace (Eph 2:4-7). Paul concludes this passage by reminded Christians of their obligations to God; “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” (Eph 2:10). Salvation is intended to produce the good works that attest their reality; therefore Christians will prove their faith by works. Shameless homosexuality [AH10] does indeed prove faith, but certainly not faith in Christ. Paul covered precisely the same ground later in the same letter (Eph 4:18-23), and drives the point home unequivocally;
But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:20-23).
Christians have an inherent responsibility to conform, to the best of their sinful ability, to the image of the God who created them. “Believers are new people in Christ, and hence they can no longer live as Gentiles live.” There is a command to move towards God and all that entails, not remain separated from Him. Indeed, Christians must imitate God;
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints (Eph 5:1-3).
Homosexuality is incompatible with the basic conception of what it means to be a holy people. Sexual immorality is not proper among the saints. Scripture recognizes no middle ground on this issue. Paul exhorted Christians to “let your manner of life be worthyof the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27a). This is the duty of every Christian, and implicit in this command is the recognition that certain, specific standards exist which are “worthy” of the gospel. Homosexuality and all other manner of sexual immorality are not worthy of God or His holiness.
Christians are to be “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15). Blameless simply means “above reproach.” They must align themselves with God’s values instead of their own, so the world cannot accuse them. They must seek things above, not on things on the earth. Earthly passions, including all sexual immorality, must be put to death. It is because of this sin that the wrath of God is coming upon mankind (Col 3:5-6).
Paul wrote joyfully to the Thessalonians, and wished the Lord would “establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints,” (1 Thess 3:13). The theme of progressive sanctification has re-surfaced; the goal is holiness before God – always looking forward to the glorious appearance of Christ.
Paul, writing to his disciple Timothy, plainly labeled homosexuality as contrary to sound doctrine, which alone is compatible with God (1 Tim 1:10-11). “Paul’s yardstick for measuring what is and is not sound teaching . . . was the message of God’s great news in Christ.” Any serious Christian would agree that God’s revelation is the only yardstick for holy living.
Paul urged Timothy to soldier on in the faith. He warned Timothy against false teachers and against irrelevant babble and exclaimed, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity,” (2 Tim 2:19). If Timothy kept and cleansed himself from what was dishonorable, he would be a vessel to the Lord for honorable use; “set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work,” (2 Tim 2:21b). This holds true for all Christians; to be used by God one must be vessels fit for honorable use. Homosexuality is dishonorable and incompatible with God’s holiness.
The prohibitions against sin are commandments from God, and if Christians love God His commandments are never grievous (1 Jn 5:3, KJV). Paul, in his epistle to Titus, taught him about the role of God’s grace in producing Godly behavior in a Christian’s life (Titus 2:11-14). There are several important principles to glean from this text.
The Gospel itself, as the message of the grace of God (Titus 2:11) teaches Christians to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions – necessarily including homosexuality. It teaches Christians to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while they await Christ’s return (Titus 2:12-13). This upright lifestyle is rooted in God’s holiness and thus, by definition, diametrically opposed to homosexual behavior.
Christ’s sacrifice, sufficient for all but efficient for only those who believe, was made for a specific purpose – to redeem the elect from lawlessness and purify a people for His possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). In a manner characteristic of the covenant with Israel at Sinai (Ex 19:5-6), God is faithful to keep His portion of the agreement. Are Christians?
A holy people was His purpose in paying such a fearful price. Therefore, knowing what all He has done and why He has done it, a Christian who truly loves Christ and looks forward to His return will pay any price to bring his life into conformity with his beloved Lord’s will.
Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to continue their growth in Christ. The very will of God, to aid them in sanctification, is that they explicitly abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thess 4:3). “To a Christian the will of God is clear: holiness and sexual immorality are mutually exclusive. No appeal to Christian liberty can justify fornication.” Christians must control their own body, which Paul has repeatedly called the temple of God, in holiness and honor, in a manner unlike those who do not know God (1 Thess 4:4-5).
Paul went on to justify, once again, the reasoning behind the prohibition against sexual immorality – God’s holiness. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness,” (1 Thess 4:7). Unrepentant sin in a Christian’s life goes against God’s calling for His elect people. “A holy life demonstrates God’s supernatural power at work overcoming what is natural, and it glorifies God.” Sin does not.
This is not a suggestion or merely helpful advice – it is a command from God. Paul minces no words in his conclusion on the matter; “therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you,” (1 Thess 4:8). Sexual purity is nothing more than a practical application of God’s calling to holiness. Paul did not invent this decree; they were the logical consequences of divine revelation. To reject God’s standards for His elect people is to reject God Himself. God gave the Holy Spirit to believers as a helper after Christ’ ascension (Jn 14:16; 17:7-11). Christians will have help in their struggle against sin; but they must have a desire to change. That desire only comes as a product of a regenerated heart in a true follower of Christ.
James does not discuss homosexuality explicitly, but he did demand Christians live holy lives. He called friendship with the world adultery against God. More than mere adultery, they are enemies of God! (Jas 4:4). God is opposed to people who lift themselves up and are filled with pride, but He gives grace to the humble (Jas 4:5-6). Christians cannot be double-minded about sin and worldliness – they must be cleansed inwardly and outwardly (Jas 4:8b). Homosexuality cannot be part of a Christian’s lifestyle; true desire change comes about from a repentant heart. Outward conformity flows naturally from a God-given inward regeneration of the heart.
Peter gave the most explicit command in the NT for Christians to live holy lives (1 Pet 1:13-16). He called Christians to be serious and prepare their minds for action, looking forward to the return of Christ. “Rather than being controlled by outside circumstances, believers should be directed from within.”
Christians, just like obedient children, should not be conformed to their former passions (Rom 1:24-26). Rather, they must be holy in all their conduct (1 Pet 1:14-15). This echoes the same sentiments Paul wrote to the Romans (Rom 12:2a). There is a very clear command for a lifestyle change as a result of regeneration.
Peter’s justification is found in God’s expectations from OT Israel; “since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy,’” (1 Pet 1:16; Lev 19:2). Again, the same theme is repeated. Christians must imitate God to the best of their fallen ability; the mark they press towards is God’s own standard – complete holiness.
A Christian cannot demonstrate love for his neighbor unless he first loves God with all his heart, soul and might. These two imperatives are the commandments the law and prophets are built upon (Mt 22:34-40). One cannot love God and be engaged in unrepentant homosexual behavior at the same time; sin and holiness are at odds with each other. One is a wicked product of a fallen world, the other an attribute of the Holy God who rules over all creation.
Peter went on to tie the believer’s responsibilities back to the Mosaic Covenant once again;
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Pet 2:9-10; Ex 19:5-6).
Elsewhere, Peter specifically labeled the homosexual sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of what would happen to the ungodly (2 Pet 2:6). It is clear Peter was not sympathetic to homosexuality; it is a sin of the ungodly and unregenerate.
John was very blunt about the same double-mindedness that James spoke against. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth,” (1 Jn 1:6). Christians will be known by their fruit. The polar opposites of “darkness” and “light” are used repeatedly throughout Scripture to signify Satan and God, respectively. Somebody who claims Christ but who participates in homosexuality and other lusts of the flesh is a liar. God’s people must walk in the light, and the blood of Christ will cleanse His people from all sin, including homosexuality (1 Jn 1:7).
John wrote that love of the world is the mark of an unregenerate heart (1 Jn 2:15). All sinful desires, lusts of the flesh and the eyes, are from the world (1 Jn 2:16). Elsewhere, Paul clearly identified sexual immorality as a work of the flesh (Gal 5:19). The world, along with all its desires, is perishing but God’s people will stand forever (1 Jn 2:17).
John was not suggesting a Christian will never struggle with sin (1 Jn 1:6), but rather, those who make a deliberate, unrepentant practice of sinning are not God’s children.
Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 Jn 3:8-10).
John is very clear; love for the world and all that entails (including homosexuality), is opposed to God in every respect. Christians still struggle with sin such as homosexuality in this “vile body” (Phil 3:21) but their whole bent of life will be away from sin. A true love for God will produce a desire to keep his commandments (1 Jn 5:2; 2 Jn 6).
Jude, like Peter, made a specific reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. He wrote of God’s faithfulness to judge and condemn false teachers who “pervert[ed] the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ,” (Jude 4b). These unbelievers, masquerading as Christians, turned God’s marvelous grace into a license to do whatever their sinful lusts desired (Rom 1:24-26; Gal 5:19-21). God, Jude asserted, is always faithful to judge those who rebel against Him (Jude 5-6).
It is in this context, that of the perversion of God’s grace into sensuality, that homosexuality is condemned;
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire,” (Jude 7).
The wicked sin of homosexuality is an explicit example of who will suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Not homosexuals only, but all who follow their sinful passions and continue to willfully reject God (Rom 1:18).
The entire NT testifies to two very basic facts; (1) Christians are called to lead holy lives before God, and (2) Homosexuality is a sin, and therefore incompatible with the holiness of God. The thesis has been demonstrated both by Christ and the written epistles of His disciples throughout the entire NT.
Jesus preached conformity to the Mosaic law, which explicitly condemned homosexual behavior. This conformity to the law, itself based on God’s eternal attribute of holiness, was predicated on an all-encompassing love for Him. The apostles had a unified message on this point which upholds the thesis quite directly. Homosexuality and the holiness of God are mutually exclusive – they cannot co-exist.
One commentator wrote poignantly about the church’s responsibility to the homosexual;
The church does the homosexual no favor when it condones his behavior based on some ingenious interpretation or on some sentimental relationship it has with him. Homosexuals do not deserve a weakened spirituality, much less a sentimental pity. They need raw honesty from the church about their doomed state unless they come to repentance and faith in Christ.
Along with honesty, Christian love is sorely needed. Nobody would advocate ministering to alcoholics by deriding them, barring the church doors to them or calling them “lushes” from the pulpit. Yet, some Christians would not hesitate to shout the word “sodomite” from the pulpit, almost relishing the chance to condemn this particular sin. It does need to be condemned, in no uncertain terms, but if we’re being deliberately spiteful while we’re doing it we achieve precisely nothing.
Homosexuals are not arbitrarily condemned to the flames as an exclusive group; rather, all sinners who continue to willfully reject Christ and prefer self-rule to God’s rule will justly suffer eternal damnation. God, by His grace, softens the hearts of sinners and changes their disposition away from Satan and towards Himself. Homosexuals are no exception, and the Gospel is the only cure for this and any other sin in a fallen world.
Constable, Thomas L. “Thessalonians,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Edwards, James R. The Gospel of Mark. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
Haas, Guenther. “Hermeneutical Issues In The Use Of The Bible To Justify The Acceptance Of Homosexual Practice,” Global Journal of Classical Theology 01:2 (Feb 1999): no page numbers.
Harrison, Everett F. “Romans,” vol. 10, The Expositors Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.
Hodges, Zane C. “1 John,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Hoehner, Harold W. “Ephesians,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Holloman, Henry W. “The Relation of Christlikeness to Spiritual Growth,” Michigan Theological Journal 05:1 (Spring 1994): 57-85.
Lightner, Robert P. “Philippians,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Litfin, A. Duane. “1 Timothy,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Litfin, A. Duane. “Titus,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Lowery, David K. “2 Corinthians,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Malik, David E. “The Condemnation of Homosexuality in Romans 1:26-27,” Bibliotheca Sacra 150:599 (Jul 1993): 327-340.
Matthews, Kenneth A. “Genesis 1-11:26,” vol. 1a, The New American Commentary, ed. Roy Clendenen. Nashville: B&H, 1996.
Montoya, Alex D. “Homosexuality and The Church,” The Masters Seminary Journal 11:2 (Fall 2000): 155-168.
Raymer, Roger M. “1 Peter,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Toussaint, Stanley. Behold the King. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1980.
Witmer, John A. “Romans,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, ed. John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. Wheaton: Victor, 1983.
Wood, A. Skevington. “Ephesians,” vol. 11, The Expositors Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.
. For an analysis of common pro-homosexual exegesis of Scripture, see Guenther Haas, “Hermeneutical Issues In The Use Of The Bible To Justify The Acceptance Of Homosexual Practice,” Global Journal of Classical Theology 01:2 (Feb 1999), no page numbers.
. Sherwood O. Cole, “Biology, Homosexuality and the Biblical Doctrine of Sin,” Bibliotheca Sacra 157:627 (Jul 2000), 350.
. Kenneth A. Matthews, “Genesis 1-11:26,” vol. 1a, The New American Commentary, ed. Roy Clendenen (Nashville, TN: B&H, 1996), 222-225.
. James R. Edwards, The Gospel of Mark (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 46.
. Stanley Toussaint, Behold the King (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1980), 98.
. John A. Witmer, “Romans,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1983), 443.
. Everett F. Harrison, “Romans,” vol. 10, The Expositors Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 25.
. Roger M. Raymer, “1 Peter,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1983), 843.
. It is beyond the scope of this paper to engage the more liberal charge that homosexuality was not the sin of that wicked city. The author will assume, for the purposes of this NT study, that homosexuality was the defining sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.
. Zane C. Hodges, “1 John,” vol. 2, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1983), 894.
 Alex D. Montoya, “Homosexuality And The Church,” The Masters Seminary Journal 11:2 (Fall 2000), 166