For the past few days we’ve been looking at homosexuality in general, how God views it, and how the church should respond to it. Today we’ll look at specific verses in the Bible that address homosexuality and attempt to understand how this issue affects the church.
The verse below is taken from the Mosaic Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai. We are no longer under the law and the legal consequences of this act are not applicable anymore, but we do see that homosexuality is not accepted by God. In fact it was one of the offenses that would result in death.
“The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have committed a detestable act and are guilty of a capital offense.” (Leviticus 20:13) NLT
Other examples of offenses in this same chapter that also resulted in death under the law are:
- Anyone who curses their father or mother (died)
- A man who commits adultery with another man’s wife (both die)
- A man who has intercourse with his father’s wife (both die)
- A man who has intercourse with an animal (both die; very sad for the animal all the way around)
The death penalty was not something set aside for homosexuality specifically. It was used for several other sins as well.
In the New Testament, Paul makes it clear that homosexuality is a sin, just as theft, greed, and adultery are sins.
“Don’t you know that those who do wrong will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers—none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God…” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) NLT
The key to understanding this passage is not stopping in the middle. Otherwise we might think that people who do these things have no hope! But that is not the intent here. The labels that Paul uses here are for those who are not followers of Jesus. He does not consider a follower of Jesus to be in this list, not because we’re perfect now but because we have been forgiven. We were declared to be righteous even though we still sin. And over time, God removes the sin in us as we submit to His authority and lean into Him relationally. The important point in the verse as it relates to homosexuality is that it is sin like other sins. It is not unforgiveable any more than stealing or adultery.
It seems foolish to think that God is unable to love a person because of their sin knowing what Jesus did on the cross for all of us. God certainly despises their sin just as He does yours and mine, but He loves all of us anyway. He doesn't wait for us to clean ourselves up completely in order to begin a relationship, regardless of what it is that we've done. As followers of God, shouldn't we follow His lead? Maybe we should love them too, despite their sin, as we were loved despite ours. Maybe we should respect them, pray for them, and guide them to Jesus. If we can’t do that, I think we should ask ourselves why. Are we in a position to decide for God who is worthy of His forgiveness?
The web site at the link below gives a few examples of former homosexuals who have been changed by God and no longer live in that lifestyle.
Over and over I’ve heard stories of homosexual men and women who followed God, chose to identify with Him rather than the label they’ve always worn, and have since found joy and fulfillment in heterosexual relationships. There are many Christians who stepped out of their homosexual patterns and still fight same-sex-attraction urges. Fighting is a huge step. Those who are moving in God’s direction will need someone to come alongside and support them as they re-learn how to be connected with another human being the way God intended. Who will do that? The secular world? Rather than pretending it doesn’t exist or despising them for being sinners (like we were), we should encourage them and pray for them. Struggling homosexuals deserve be treated the same as struggling adulterers, struggling liars, struggling addicts... Don't we all struggle with some sin? They certainly need accountability like we all do. But it should be done with love and respect, not judgment and scorn. Jesus died for them too, after all.