Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rethinking Homosexuality

An old youth group friend of Michael’s recently announced that he’s homosexual. This friend still claims to be a Christian, but is embracing rather than fighting his sin. To be honest, the writing has been on the wall in big, bold, uppercase letters for quite some time, so we’re not surprised. But we are sad. Sad because he’s given up the fight & accepted the culture’s lie that his sin isn’t sin, that it’s just “who he is”, & that he should celebrate it. Sadder still is that he does so in God’s name. Meaning that he is reveling in that which is reviling to God while simultaneously worshiping “God”. I say it like that because, unfortunately, the “God” he’s worshiping is one of his own making & in no way resembles the God of the Bible. And even sadder still, he’s going to take others with him.

Look, I get it. I really do. Although I've never struggled with homosexuality, I have my own struggles with sin. Because of some of the things I was exposed to as a child, I've had to fight against sexual images that have been indelibly burned into my mind's eye. And it's been a war at times! There's a reason that sexual sin is the only sin that Scripture tells us to flee rather than fight. It's incredibly alluring, deceptive, & strong. Which makes it deadly. It's not a foe that we can subdue on our own. And that can be so very wearying. We can get so tired of fighting against it - & often failing - that we just give up & give in. Sometimes we may think we'll give in just this once, just a little. Maybe that little acquiescence will satisfy the urge & it will stop hounding us. But it doesn't. It's got a foothold now, & soon it will take over completely, clutching us in a death-grip. So, we have to keep fighting it. We can't just give up simply because we've been at war with little or no relief for so long. We also can't give in because we've prayed for God to take it away to no avail. After all, are we better than Paul? God told him that "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). We should find comfort & strength here in our fight against sin! We should echo Paul with renewed vigor, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me"!

I know how hard it is to have something be a part of you that others find unacceptable. Honestly, everyone does. Homosexuals do not have a corner on this market. We are all born with a sin nature, every single one of us. And not a single one of those sins is tolerated in society - well, outside of the entertainment industry for some insane reason. But you take any sin - lying, stealing, adultery, anger, murder - none of these are tolerated in everyday life. They're all frowned upon & judged. It may not be comfortable, but it's right. I mean, do we really want to live in a society that encourages our most debased inclinations? I've heard homosexuals give the argument that their sin must be okay because they've "felt this way/had these desires" for as long as they can remember. So have all of us, it's just that our desires are for lying or stealing or venting anger. Go to any preschool & tell me I'm wrong. These innate desires aren't tolerated in toddlers because they're sin. They're wrong. The children have to be taught not only that they should change their behaviors, but how to do so. Homosexuality is no different. Those desires being present your whole life does not mean that it's not sin any more than my temper being with me my whole life means my anger isn't sin. And if you're a Christian, you are commanded - not encouraged or urged - commanded to "put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit" (Romans 8:13, yes, I know I mixed up the order, but the meaning is the same). We're promised, if we do this, that we will live (as in, with Christ in heaven). But we're also promised in the very same verse that if we "live according to the flesh, [we] will die" (as in, go to hell to endure God's wrath). Living a life reveling in our sin, celebrating our sin, & branding our sin "normal"/"okay"/"not sin" is living in the flesh. Whether that sin is anger, lying, or one of the sexual sins, & even if society is suddenly applauding it. And we absolutely, positively cannot live in the flesh and be true Christians. They are mutually exclusive.

Another argument by homosexuals is that "we can't help who we love". But homosexuality is not about love, it's about self-gratification. I know this because God invented love, which means He gets to define it, & He says in 1 Corinthians 13 that

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (emphasis mine)

God has told us repeatedly throughout His Word that homosexuality is wrong, & God always speaks the truth. Since love "does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth", then the person who pursues homosexuality is not pursuing love. Instead they are "insisting on their own way", a way that is in direct opposition to God. This is not love. It's not love toward God. It's not love toward yourself. It's not love toward your "partner". True love means holding fast to the truths & promises found in God's Word. It means that when God says, "This is good", we pursue it & encourage others to do the same. It also means that when God says, "This is evil", we fight it, we flee from it, & we encourage others to do the same. No matter how much we protest, true love will never, ever be found in any relationship where sin is being celebrated. We may not like that, but our feelings are not the final arbiter of truth.

Now, do I believe homosexuals can be saved from their sin? Absolutely! The Bible says so! There is no sin that can't be repented of & taken up by Jesus. There is no sin that He will not forgive & give His righteousness in return. I know there are people out there struggling against their homosexual desires, praying fervently that God will enable them to continue to "fight the good fight" (2 Tim. 4:7). And every day, sometimes every hour, God is giving them the strength to stand firm against their sin. To those men & women who have chosen to believe God's Word rather than man's, I urge you to continue your fight, knowing that you don't battle alone! I know that it is incredibly difficult to ignore the siren's song - especially when society is her backup choir - but God has promised that He has made you a "new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). Your old self with your fleshly desires has already been defeated by Christ! I love what He says in 1 Cor. 6:9-11, especially the last half:

"Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality . . . will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." (emphasis mine)

And then again in Phil. 1:6, Paul gives us the sweet assurance "that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

You don't have to give in to your sin! God will continue to sanctify you, & one glorious day when you are ushered into His presence, that sin will be completely removed, & you will have to fight it no more! (Which is a good word no matter what sins we may be struggling against!)

Finally, a word to the church. We have failed our brothers & sisters who struggle against homosexuality. We have elevated this particular sin above all others without biblical warrant. We have thumped our Bibles in fury at homosexuality while neglecting to enact church discipline on the adulterers & fornicators sitting next to us in the pew. We have told our brothers & sisters who are struggling against homosexuality that they are going to hell while turning a blind eye to the young woman conceiving a child out of wedlock or the worship leader "having an affair" with the church secretary. All sexual sin is sin, & all of it should be confronted. The cheating spouse, the pornography connoisseur, & the co-habitating college kids shouldn't get a pass just because their sin is heterosexual. All sin is deviant, all sin dishonors God, & all Christians should be confronted in their sin. Lovingly, yes, but confronted just the same.

Then, there are those in the church who have lied to our brothers & sisters struggling with their sin, telling them that it’s not sin & that living a homosexual lifestyle is perfectly fine with God, when Scripture very clearly says otherwise. I know that in doing this you think you’re being loving & supportive, but what you’re actually doing is hastening their destruction. They are speeding toward a cliff, & instead of pulling the emergency break, you’re stepping on the gas! The loving thing to do is help them fight their sin. The whole point of the Gospel is that God loved us when we were yet sinners, & sent His Son to live a perfect life & die an atoning death in our stead so that we would be saved from His wrath & from our sin! Claiming God’s love while living in sin – any sin! – is delusional & damning. If you love someone who is struggling with homosexual desires, then do the truly loving thing & help them in their fight against their sin.

For Christians struggling with homosexual desires, find someone you can trust who will help you fight your sin & who you can also help fight their sin of anger, impatience, worry, etc. Remember to "place hedges" around yourself (to use a Nancy Leigh DeMoss term) to protect you from being tempted in your interactions - such as always meeting in public. And check out these resources from Desiring God & Grace To You. You're not alone, & there is help.


Starr Deas said...

Great post. Scripturally accurate and true on all points. Thanks for taking the time to address this topic.

Starr Deas said...

Great post. Thanks for taking time to address this topic. We all know someone struggling with this and your post is very helpful.

The Boyds said...

Thank you, Starr, for your sweet words. I'm so sorry it took so long for me to post your comments & make a reply. Things have been really busy since Michael's back surgery. I hope you didn't think that your comments were unappreciated. Quite the opposite!