There are many different opinions on this divisive topic in the Church today. So what does the Bible say?
So, here’s the thing. We totally get that there are important and controversial issues in the church today. We also get that there’s a huge temptation to simply avoid these “hot button” issues. After all, topics like homosexuality emotions can run high, making things really uncomfortable for everybody, so the temptation is strong to lay low and say nothing. But is that the way Jesus wants us to live? We don’t think so.
The problem is, there’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to homosexuality. Mix that confusion with the understandably high levels of emotion and we have the perfect recipe for trouble.
At Stand to Reason, we’re convinced there’s a better way. We call it “speaking the truth, in love” (actually, it’s not really our concept—we got it from Paul). The idea is to take accurate biblical knowledge and temper it with wisdom.
Sure, we focus on the truth—that’s really important—but we do it in a way that shows respect for the people we differ with, giving the reasons, not just the rules. It may not completely defuse every situation, but it helps us speak confidently and accurately about what God says about hard issues.
So what is the biblical truth on homosexuality? Well, we can’t cover everything on the topic here, but we can give you the basics, then you can check out our other resources for more in-depth info.
First, let’s see what the Bible does not say. It does not say that homosexuality is the worst sin ever. Instead, it’s one of a bunch of sins that many of the rest of us are often guilty of, too. It also does not say we can’t have friends that are homosexual. Paul said that if we avoided all the non-Christians because of their behavior, we’d never be able to reach them with Christ’s message of love and forgiveness (that’s in 1 Corinthians 5). No, it’s not our job to look down in a judgmental way on nonbelievers. We should befriend them, instead. We know from Genesis 1:27 that everyone is made in the image of God. That makes them special to God, and they should be special to us, too.
Probably the most important thing the Bible does say about homosexuality comes from Jesus himself. I know you’ve heard that Jesus never said anything on the issue, but that’s not completely true. Listen to this.
In Matthew 19:4–5, Jesus says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh’?”
There it is. Jesus makes it clear that God had a perfect plan from the beginning. He made the woman to complement the man not just sexually (that’s what He means by “one flesh”), but for his whole life—to be the kind of partner that’s just right for him, for his whole life long.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3–8 that we should be different from the rest of the crowd—holy, set apart, avoiding sexual immorality, that is, staying away from any kind of sex that distorts God’s good plan.
The thing that makes homosexuality bad is the same thing that makes any sex outside of marriage bad—it’s a way of saying “No” to the wonderful plan that God had from the start. Which is basically the same as saying “no” to God. Not good, in other words.
God’s original plan is the reason we see the passages about homosexuality worded the way they are. For example, think of Leviticus 18:22–23. It says “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” God says it’s wrong to use a man for the kind of sex God gave the woman for. Again, it’s the same as saying “No” to God. Notice that this verse is grouped with other verses about the misuse of God’s gift of sex, like adultery and bestiality.
We find the exact same reasoning in the New Testament, too. When Paul speaks against homosexuality in Romans 1, he calls it a “degrading passion.” Why? Because, as he put it, “women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another.”
Paul’s point is that God made man for woman and woman for man sexually. That’s why he talks about natural function, not desire. In one sense, we naturally desire lots of things God says we shouldn’t be involved in. Homosexuality (along with the other sexual sins) is just another way of denying the natural function—the purpose or plan—of the kind of the safe, satisfying sex God purposed for a man and a woman in lifelong marriage. Paul’s view, in other words, was the same as Jesus’ view.
That’s why in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 Paul says that among those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God are the sexually immoral and adulterers, the thieves, the swindlers and drunkards, and…homosexuals, men who sleep with other men—all sinful ways of living that are characteristic of life without God.
Then Paul writes something amazing. In verse 11 he reminds us that this is the way we used to be, too. That’s the way we were, but all of that has changed. Now since we’ve come to know Jesus we’ve been cleansed and made right with God. We’ve been freed from slavery to our old, dark ways.
That’s the good news. Because of God’s mercy, we don’t have to be squeezed into the mold of this world. Instead, as Paul tells us in Romans 12:1–2, we can offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to God. We can be transformed to an entirely new way of thinking, one that allows us to live according to the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
Yes, it’s clear from these passages that the Bible does call homosexuality a sin, but there’s so much more in God’s plan—not just saying “No” to something bad, but saying “Yes” to something so much better.
There it is. Knowledge and wisdom. Truth mixed with a message of love and forgiveness and a new way of living. That’s the way we deal with controversial issues at Stand to Reason. And that’s the way we encourage you to deal with them.
Just like Jesus did.