This paper details AC3’s position on a particularly controversial cultural issue of our day: homosexuality. Specifically the question we are faced with is as follows: are homosexual practices per se, in line with God’s ultimate design for human sexuality? There remains little doubt that the answer to that question from nearly all of the most significant mouthpieces of our society is ‘yes’. 1
In other words, though hostile antagonism toward homosexuals still exists in many corners of our society, almost no one would deny that the predominant national policy in our culture today is that homosexuality is normal, healthy, and amoral. This stance has created tension between the homosexual community and churches which have traditionally answered the preceding question in the negative. The tension is so great that many within the ranks of different churches have taken one of two positions. Either they have
- Taken a hostile stance against homosexuals themselves, with a level of aggression and contempt beyond all other moral issues, or they have
- Taken up the society’s credo regarding homosexuality.
So how will Allen Creek Community Church respond to the issue? It must be said at the outset that AC3 has as its mission not any political agenda, but rather the spreading of the gospel. It is a two-fold mission, namely, proclaiming the message of God’s unconditional love for a wayward human race and training all respondents in a new way of life, pleasing to God. It is important to state the foundational presuppositions of that mission here:
We believe all stand condemned before a holy God not merely for committing a variety of sins; we stand condemned as born sinners (Ps. 51:1-6) and in desperate need of pardon, forgiveness, and restored wholeness (Ps. 130:3). This pardon, we believe, was made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and is now extended to all who will turn and, in faith, receive it (John 1:12). And the wholeness God “works in” to the human heart by grace, is now the second half of our two-fold mandate to help “work out” into the practical life of the believer (Phil. 2:12&13). Therefore, our mission is to “reach” and to “teach” (Matt 28:18-20); we desire to proclaim Christ, and call everyone who believes in Christ, to also follow Christ fully (Col. 1:28).
Of course, equipping and teaching converts to Christianity to live a life pleasing to God (Rom. 12:1) requires a clear understanding of God’s view of moral issues. What constitutes a life pleasing to God? The church’s mandate is to “teach the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). This counsel we find in the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments authenticated and affirmed by Christ (Matt 5:17; John 16:13).2 Therefore, what’s at stake in the issue of homosexuality is nothing less than how Scripture should enlighten Christian discipleship.3 We believe the Bible – understood in its historical and linguistic context and in light of its progressive revelation – should be our final authority on all matters on which it teaches.4
With this presumption about the Bible’s reliability and authority, we now turn to what the Bible teaches as a fitting starting point. The Bible contains significant statements about the subject of homosexuality that fall into three main categories:
THE HISTORICAL REFERENCES
Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom — both young and old — surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” “Get out of our way,” they replied. And they said, “This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. (NIV)
A straightforward interpretation of this passage has been known to be common among Jews since the Greek occupation of Palestine.6 It appears these verses describe an attempted homosexual assault on two angels who visit Lot in Sodom. Since the emergence of the gay Christian movement, however, other interpretations have been put forward.
a. About Sex or Hospitality?
The earliest was derived by Derrick Sherwin Bailey, who suggested that the Hebrew phrase “to know” (here translated, “have sex with”) should not be understood euphemistically as a sexual reference, but instead simply as, “to get acquainted with.” Therefore, it is said the Sodomites were angry with Lot because he had not introduced the strangers in his home.7 This interpretation calls on the support of Ezek. 16:49 50 which does not mention homosexuality in connection with Sodom but says God’s judgment was due to their pride, and lack of concern for the poor.
Although the Hebrew word “yada” is most often a term of acquaintance, it is still used as a sexual reference where the context makes clear that such a meaning is required. When Lot offers his daughters to the mob, and references their lack of knowledge of any man, he is obviously referring to sexual knowledge. He is offering his daughters to mollify the sexual appetites of the crowd. If the crowd wanted to get “to know” the strangers, why would Lot offer his daughters? It makes no sense that he would offer his daughters for vicarious hospitality.
Regarding other Scriptural support, many verses refer to Sodom as a quintessential example of a community in rebellion against God. Therefore, Sodom is associated with a variety of sins, including pride and lack of concern for the poor but also deviant sexual practices. In 2 Peter 2:7 the author refers to the unbridled lust-filled lives of the Sodomite. Jude 7 refers to their penchant for sexual immorality and going after “strange flesh.” The word ‘strange’ is derived from the Greek word, “heteros” meaning, ‘the other.’ In the context of the term, ‘pornos’ (sexual immorality), this is clearly a reference to “other” kinds of sex besides the norm – i.e. homosexuality, or perhaps even bestiality.8
b. About Rape or Normal Homosexuality?
Because a non-sexual meaning strains credibility, another explanation has been suggested for this ancient text. A difference is denoted between “normal” homosexual practice and the violence of homosexual gang rape described here. Therefore, God is saying nothing in this passage about homosexuality per se, but rather about rape. Certainly, to equate what happens between two consenting male adults and the men in this passage would be unfair. These acts are not the same and the passage is certainly not addressing “normal” homosexual relationships.
However, Lot seemed to understand the wickedness, not only on account of the violence, but also on account of its homosexual nature. Why else would he offer his daughters except that to him, heterosexual rape was something less offensive than the homosexual rape?9 The strong implication is that for Lot, not only the violence, but the homosexual nature of the assault was deemed wrong.
c. A Mythical Political Tract or History?
Others have considered this a fanciful myth advanced late in Israel’s development as a political ploy to discourage Hebrews from Greek influence. These opinions reveal much more about a person’s view of the Bible than they reveal about their position on homosexuality. They make clear a person’s presumption that the Bible is not reliable as it claims (II Tim. 3:16), but simply the non-historical creations of people with personal agendas.
There is a parallel passage in Judges 19:22-26 with very similar overtones and implications. However, neither of these historical passages contains any explicit condemnation of homosexual acts per se. They are concerned more with recounting history and the moral questions are left mainly to later Scriptural writers. Therefore, we must move to the more unambiguous legal references to homosexuality.
“‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, that is detestable.”
“‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. (NIV)
a. A Cultic Prohibition?
The unambiguous nature of these commands is stepped around by some scholars on a variety of grounds. The most common is that this text forbids homosexual cultic practices which were common in Canaan at that time and it therefore cannot refer to normal (i.e. two consenting adults) homosexual relations.10
The problem with such a view is that there is nothing in the text to substantiate it. Secondly, when God wants specifically to reference cultic practices, namely the male cult prostitutes of Canaan, he does so explicitly (Deut. 23:17). Third, the entire context of Leviticus chapter 18 involves sexual morality, not idolatrous worship or its related practices.
Even leading supporters of homosexuality recognize this, such as Bailey, Bishop John Shelby Spong and Dr. Walter Wink.
b. Bad Science?
Dr Wink does try to step around it using other means. He believes the whole prohibition was founded in bad science:
The Hebrew pre-scientific understanding was that male semen contained the whole of nascent life. With no knowledge of eggs and ovulation, it was assumed that the woman provided only the incubating space. Hence the spilling of semen for any non-procreative purpose – in coitus interruptus (Gen. 38:1-11), male homosexual acts, or male masturbation – was considered tantamount to abortion or murder.11
This line of reasoning creates problems for our view of inspiration for it denies that humans could write what God intended for them to write regardless of their culture, language or the state of their scientific knowledge (2 Pet 1:20&21). The jump from faulty science to bad morality is unwarranted. Again, this reveals much more about his views of the Bible than it does his views of homosexuality.
However, even without a prior commitment to the reliability of the Bible, we can still see that Wink overstates his case:
- First, he overstates the value the Bible writers place on spilled semen. It is explicitly stated that the condemnation of coitus interruptus of Gen. 38 is not about spilled semen but about selfishness. Onan is condemned because he selfishly refuses to fulfill his duty in Levirate marriage.
- Second, masturbation isn’t referred to in the Bible at all.
- Third, nocturnal emissions were a matter of ceremonial uncleanness (Lev 15:16), not tantamount to murder.
- Fourth, these laws are never claimed to be based in science but in theology: “because I, the Lord your God am holy”.12
- Fifth, there is no mention of the horror of spilled semen in Leviticus 18:22.
- And finally, it should be noted that to claim the Bible writers lacked correct psychosexual understanding, oversimplifies the current state of scientific evidence.
The assumption is that modern science has proved homosexual development is exclusively natural and innate (much like left-handedness or eye color) and therefore, amoral. However, this biological determinism is not the unanimous position of modern science. For example, in his “The Homosexualization of America”, even homosexual activist Dennis Altman makes the following comment about a major Kinsey Institute study:
[some] are impressed with the considerable efforts of biologists, endocrinologists, and physiologists to prove this foundation [that homosexuality is innate]; I am more impressed by the inability of many years of research to amount to no more than “suggestions.”13
Even if science had established that some cases of homosexuality are constitutional, this would not warrant the leap from biology to theology. God’s Law never seems to bow to faultless biological limitations, even when we might think it should (Leviticus 21:18). Also, the state of scientific research is always a work in progress, therefore, we must avoid premature pronouncements concerning the Bible’s ethical code based on such fluid authority.14
Dr. Wink argues that the prohibition is lodged in the “universal repugnance heterosexuals tend to feel for acts and orientations foreign to them.”15 However, is it fair to say that the only reason the Bible condemns any behavior is because it is “foreign” to a given writer? Is it fair to judge the motives or level of paranoia of a writer of Scripture when no such motive is explicit in the text? For us to be consistent, we must then say that the bestiality, incest, fornication, disobedience to parents, idolatry, stealing, lying, lack of integrity, and poor treatment of the disabled mentioned by the same writer in the same context (Lev 18-19) were condemned simply because he had a “fear” of them.
Is it not more reasonable to assume that the Bible writers often had intimate knowledge of the practices they condemned, often personal knowledge (see Moses committing murder, Ex 2:14) which (combined with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) accounts for their strong condemnation?
d. Free from the Law?
A final argument is offered to invalidate the Leviticus prohibition against homosexual activity: Why should the homosexual prohibition be followed, when Christians do not follow most other Levitical laws including laws against eating oysters, pork or rare steak?
This view assumes that when the New Testament speaks of freedom from the Law, it makes a sweeping invalidation of the entire Old Testament for all Christians seeking to live a godly life. This view, however, belies an obvious misunderstanding of the different kinds of laws in the Bible. This misunderstanding makes some of the most common objections to the Bible possible.
For example, the Old Testament forbids eating pork and the New Testament allows it, the New Testament forbids polygamy but the Old Testament allows it. Does this reveal a different ethic in the New Testament than the Old? Are we being arbitrary and inconsistent if we pick one set of laws, and neglect others? And what then of homosexuality? If we neglect other Old Testament legislation, are we being inconsistent to hold to the prohibition on homosexual acts?
These problems are all solved when we understand that there are at least three different kinds of Old Testament Laws, and the Bible gives us clear rationale and principles for how to view them. The three types are:
- CIVIL (which deal with temporal government, and penalties for offenses)
- CEREMONIAL (which deal with the religious life of the Israelites)
- MORAL (which deal with absolute ethical standards based in the character of God)
Now, the Bible outlines clearly that ceremonial and civil laws have been abrogated in the New Creation period, brought in by Christ. This is because all laws relating to civil government related to a sovereign Israeli nation but in the New Creation, the people of God would be a transnational race (Col 3:11) and would therefore be called to submit to the civil authorities in every nation where they were found (Rom 13:1-7). Also, laws relating to sacrifices and ceremonial purity, were, in their primary function, tools to point to the holiness of God or the sinfulness of man or to draw attention to our need for grace. The intent of these laws was therefore fulfilled when Jesus came as the incarnation of God’s holy character, and the means of grace by which we may be found acceptable to God (Heb 1:1-4; 10:1).
Therefore, Jesus gives us specific teaching that in the New Community, the Old Testament food laws were abrogated (Mark 7:18&19). The church also understood this (Acts 10:9-15) and therefore, did not demand ceremonial law observance of Gentile converts (Acts 15:19).
However, both Jesus and the early church upheld the moral aspects of the Old Testament. Jesus commented on these moral aspects as “weightier matters” of the Law (Matt 23:23) and he even expanded on the moral Law, deepening our understanding of its intent (Matt. 5:17ff). The church followed suit (Rom 13:8 10).
We might ask how we know whether homosexual prohibitions specifically fall under the moral Law of the Old Testament. Again, the Bible gives the principles for its own interpretation. Regarding God’s ideal sexual design, the creation (IE. Genesis 1-2) and New Creation (IE New Testament) accounts give clear indication which are moral laws that remain intact and which are ceremonial or civil laws which are now obsolete. So now we must turn to those references to homosexuality in the New Testament.
NEW TESTAMENT REFERENCES
Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (NIV)
These verses contain four major points worth noting.16
- This is the only passage in the Bible that refers to female homosexuality. What did Paul mean when he says the women “gave up the natural function”? Could he not be referring to some function other than a sexual one? The next verse clearly indicates that Paul’s use of the term “function” is sexual when he says “men gave up the natural function with women”. Also, the phrase “in the same way” (27) links the male “lust” and “indecent acts” and “men with men” with the female problem of the previous verse, so as to leave little doubt the issue is female homosexual behavior.
- The second point regards the term “natural.” Some commentators argue that this passage is not about homosexuality per se, but rather the “unnatural” practice of heterosexuals leaving their natural sexual feelings and embracing homosexuality. Therefore, they feel this passage is an appeal to act according to how you feel naturally inclined to, and its condemnation is reserved for those people who would give up their natural sexual feelings or orientation (whether it be homo or heterosexual) for an “unnatural” one. That is, unnatural to them.
However, the word connected with “unnatural” in this passage is not “feelings,” but “function.” There is no mention of orientation, since it is irrelevant to Paul’s argument. Paul did not share the modern view that orientation or inclination was equivalent to natural or God given. In this passage, it’s the FUNCTION of sex that is either natural or unnatural not the FEELINGS. And the natural function is male with female (27). Leaving Paul aside, this is a self evident, biological fact.
- These verses do refer to sexual feelings when it says that men “burned with desire for one another.” However, these desires develop simultaneously with the point of abandoning the natural function of sex. It is possible the men Paul refers to were already predisposed to homosexual behavior, but the intensification of their sexual desire is clearly linked with their abandonment of the natural function of their sexuality.
This is important simply because it implies that Paul is not really addressing the homosexual condition on a psychological level nor is it germane to his point. Had the term been available to him, perhaps he would have addressed it in a way similar to his argument in Romans 7. The “natural” way, that is the way God has laid out for us to behave, is obvious to everyone (Rom 2:14,15), but internally, although we may agree with this, we fight against it (Rom. 7:15). It’s not relevant to Paul WHY we might fight against God’s creation desires. What’s relevant is that we do.
It doesn’t appear Paul would argue with the person who says they are “born homosexual”, since his argument in Romans 7 seems to indicate that we are all born with proclivities and inclinations that cause us to be resistant to the moral will of God. We know God’s desires, yet we kick against them (Rom 7:16), and we know that this justifies punishment (Rom 1:32).
Through no choice of my own, I may be “oriented” to unfaithfulness, lying, cheating, stealing, murder. I may be, early in life, saddled with a host of addictive or compulsive behaviors. Knowledge of the factors (genetic/social/economic) leading to these orientations is important and should fill us with compassion and a desire to help change those circumstances if possible (see below). However, orientation to unnatural (that is, against God’s creation) designs is not justification for the actual acts. So it seems that Christians should thoroughly distinguish between orientation and acts the same way we distinguish between temptation and actual disobedience to God (James 1:14-15).
- Which leads to a final point regarding the phrase, “God gave them over.” Note, it is part of God’s judgment, not to actively punish, but rather to passively withhold restraint. And the reference to these homosexuals “receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” again, suggests the judgment of God was to abandon people to the natural consequences of their acts.
This verse has often been used, recklessly, to refer to the modern AIDS crisis. Though certainly much homosexual behavior increases the chance of disease17 the AIDS crisis worldwide affects more heterosexuals than homosexuals. It is more reasonable to say that homosexuals receive in themselves a variety of tribulations and frustrations that are directly related (“due penalty” means the punishment is in proportion to the crime) to their sexual choices.
It is not surprising, therefore, that “gay” is a tragic misnomer for a lifestyle that is often dominated by fear, loneliness, and procreative frustration. Gay propagandists would like to portray homosexuals as monogamist individuals who form and maintain long-lasting stable, same sex relationships in society. However, the Institute for Sex Research says, at most, ten percent of all homosexuals are relatively monogamous. It’s not uncommon for male homosexuals to have several hundred partners over the course of their lifetime.
In addition to this relational emptiness, some extremely troubling and demeaning sexual practices are the norm for many homosexuals.18 Hence, the operative word in the homosexual community is often fear.
Fear of being found out by “straight” friends and family members. Fear of their lifestyle being exposed [see below], fear of disease. Fear of growing old, on the one hand, and fear of dying young, on the other hand. The lifestyle of gays is anything but gay.19
Some scholars argue that because the relationships in Romans are heavy with lust they cannot refer to modern homosexual relationships between consenting adults who are committed to each other as faithfully as any other couple.20 However, the text says God did not give them over because of shameful lusts, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Which means that the exchange of natural sexual function happened before the increase in sexual appetites.
All this really underscores a very deliberate sequence which Paul is outlining. It is as follows:
- (v. 18) suppression of truth about God leads to
- (v. 23) exchanging God’s glory for deficient views of God which leads to
- (v. 24) the abandonment of sexual restraint which leads to
- (v. 26) the abandonment of natural sexual function which leads to
- (v. 28) the breaking of all God’s commands which leads to
- (v. 32) the actual approval of sin, despite knowledge to the contrary.
It is argued that because many modern homosexuals clearly do not follow in this path, that these verses cannot refer to them.21 In other words, if a person grows up in a devout Christian or Jewish home, clearly they are not following the “pagan” path of rejection of God. It is true, many people do grow up in Christian homes where a Biblical view of God and morality is taught, yet find themselves homosexually oriented and deeply anguished as a result. However, again we must realize that Paul is not condemning the compulsion to homosexual behavior. He is condemning those who, after reinventing God (21), find themselves in a place of approving what God has forbidden (Rom 1:32).
This Romans 1 progression can actually be observed in devout Christian scholars who attempt to reconcile homosexual behavior with Scripture. In so doing, they have unwittingly perhaps accepted naturalistic views of God, Scripture and humans and therefore diminish Scripture’s authority, the holiness of God, the validity of moral law and the heinousness of sin. A case in point:
“We might address younger teens, not with laws and commandments whose violation is a sin, but rather with… sad experiences…”22
Some of these scholars believe Paul’s comments about homosexuality are not applicable to the modern setting since the context mentions idolatry. Because of this, they assume the whole passage must refer only to male cultic prostitution which we know was rampant in Greek society.
It may be that the first reference in 24 indicates some connection to idol related prostitution (hetero and homo) resulting from abandoning the truth about God (although there is no direct mention of prostitution in the text). However, the next reference in 26 clearly reveals the scope is larger than pagan worship or its related practices. It is about immoral sexual relationships in “ordinary life”23 as is further evidenced by the “ordinary life” sins listed in 28-32. The progression shows that we are not limited here to problems related specifically to pagan idolatry. In fact, the principle seems clear: if we gain a distorted view of God, we will be inclined to begin to misrepresent his desires (sexual or otherwise) for humanity. We invent a new deity to project our desired licenses onto it.24
On the whole then, Paul’s instruction here is pivotal. Homosexual acts per se are identified as out of step with God’s creation design for human sexuality. Paul does not address or fault the homosexual psychological condition.
Another New Testament reference to homosexuality is found in Paul’s letter to Timothy:
I TIMOTHY 1:8-11
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and homosexuals, for slave traders and liars and perjurers and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. (NIV)
This is a very brief reference to homosexuality, but the setting in a conversation about the law is revealing. First, Paul says, the law is good, if one uses it properly. What is a proper use of the law? Well a short look through Paul’s writings reveals that an IMPROPER use is to seek to be justified by it. Anyone who attempts to be made right by the law is obligated to obey it all (Gal 5:3 4) – which is spiritual suicide, since no one can do it (Rom 3:10-20). What then is the role of law in the life of the Christian?
This is a pivotal question. If it is clearly sub-Christian to believe that obeying the law can make us right with God, then it is equally sub-Christian to say that the law is bad or irrelevant. This, however, is the net conclusion of some teachers who feel that because Christ is the “end of the Law” (Rom. 10:4) and we are “free from the Law,” we can pick and choose our sexual mores at will.25
Paul shunned this extreme saying “Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the Law” (Rom 7:7). To him, the Law was “holy, righteous and good” (Rom 7:12). The law points to the good, holy character of God which we cannot mimic or attain by human effort alone. So what was a proper use of this good law that is yet unable to save us?
a. Law and Consciousness of Sin
The Law’s most basic function in Christ is to bring the consciousness of sin (Rom 3:20, Gal 3:19 25). This is why in the passage in Timothy, the law’s demands (including sexual demands) are said to conform to the “Good News.” How can rigid doctrine conform to the good news of forgiveness in Christ? Because the law leads one to the awareness of sin, and the conviction of sin leads a repentant heart to grace and from grace to salvation. The Law, far from being evil or abandoned, is still critical to lead to the cross (Gal 3:24) where we find God’s ultimate solution to our sin problem.
b. Law and Christian Discipleship
Now, we might ask a crucial question: does this faith in Christ nullify the moral law? Well, it releases us from bondage to it and from the oppressive weight of its demands as a means to be justified. However, is the law nullified? Well, several parts of the old code are abrogated by Christ who fulfilled their intent, but is the law itself nullified? Well, we serve God in the new way of the Spirit, by his power and strength, but we ask again, is the law nullified? Witness Paul:
“Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather we uphold the law.” (Rom 3:31)
The reason he upheld it is because the moral law provides the rule of life for those who by faith have been reborn in Christ. It is sometimes argued that the moral law should be abandoned in favor of the general “law of love” which Christ commanded. It is true, the Bible teaches that the one who “loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.” But it goes on to say that the moral commandments of God’s Law are not invalidated, but rather summed up by this overarching command to love:
(Rom 13:9-10) The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. (NIV)
The problem with abandoning all other moral laws for the law of love is that humans have decidedly subjective views of what constitutes loving behavior. A married man may feel he is doing something loving if he comforts a grieving widow by having sex with her. But God has said that adultery is not loving. So, no matter how loving the person thinks he is, God has declared the act unloving. There is no loving way to commit adultery.26
There are three clear conclusions to be drawn from the Timothy passage:
- Homosexual practices are not in keeping with God’s Law and the exposure of this fact should lead a person to the “glorious gospel…”
- It is listed with other examples of people who by act of their will, participate in the breaking of God’s law. There is no mention of the homosexual orientation.
- Homosexuality is not singled out as worse than any other sin. Paul includes it in a straightforward manner, neither at the front or the back of the list and makes no comparisons, or even a hint of special disdain.
There is one question these verses do not answer. How can the homosexual be free? This question is answered in the third and final New Testament passage on the subject:
I CORINTHIANS 6:9-11
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. 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. (NIV)
There are three negative and three positive aspects to this passage:
- The Wicked.
The people listed here are called the wicked because they are participating in activities that are against God’s moral law. A quick glance through the list reveals that this means everyone.
- God’s Kingdom
People practicing these activities cannot be under the rulership of God, therefore they are not players in the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is simply the places that God rules and those in deliberate disobedience to God miss out on the privilege of God’s government and fail to enjoy the true peace and joy of Christ’s leadership (Rom 14:17).
It is possible to be deceived into believing that an unrighteous person can inherit the Kingdom of God. Paul doesn’t want his audience to miss the connection between behavior and consequences (Gal 6:7)
There is again, no special place given to homosexuality. It is the same as any other sin.
However, is Paul even talking about homosexuality per se, or something else? He uses two key words. The first, “Malakos” here translated ‘male prostitutes’ means literally “the soft”, sometimes translated as “effeminate.” This is a reference to men and boys who allowed themselves to be used homosexually.27 Or “men who feminize themselves to attract male sex partners”28
The second word “arsenokoitai” is a compound word, “arsen” which means “male” and “koitai” which means “bed” or “lying”- a word with clear sexual connotations. In other words, this refers to men who go to bed or lie with other males. Specifically “a male homosexual, or sodomite.”29 Another lexicon defines the word as “one who lies with a male as with a female.”30 Another lexicon defines the word as “a sodomite.”31
It is necessary to cite these lexical sources for some authority on Greek translation, since much ado has been made of these two words and their meaning. The ambiguity and uniqueness of these words has been used to suggest that they do not refer to homosexuality at all, or at least not to homosexual practices per se. Arguments are made by liberal scholars that “arsenokoitai” refers only to male prostitutes or that “malakos” refers perhaps to a slave boy kept for homosexual purposes – a common Greek practice (thus Paul has nothing to say about male on male sex in general.)
But upon inspection, the two words side by side leave little doubt that Paul’s meaning is that homosexual practice is intrinsically wrong, not merely wrong because of the age, slave status, idolatrous context, or exchange of money between the participants. In fact, “malakos” has a corresponding Latin term (“molles”) which Philo uses to describe effeminate males who desire penetration by men. Apparently Philo’s (and other ancient’s) problem with such men did not center on their exploitation of others, age difference, or acts of prostitution, but rather, around their attempted erasure of the masculine stamp given them by God/nature.32
“Arsenokoitai” is likely a word invented by Paul.33 It appears nowhere in literature before this usage in 1 Corinthians. But that doesn’t mean Paul’s meaning is unknowable. The structure of the word (man + bed/lying), clearly links it with the Mosaic restriction in Leviticus 18:22 – “do not lie with a man as with a woman.” In fact, a strong case can be made that early Rabbis used the exact corresponding Hebrew terms to talk about God’s absolute prohibition on homosexual behavior, in contrast to the very lenient attitudes of the Greco-Roman period.34
We can sympathize with those who suggest that any translation (such as the NIV) which render these words using “homosexual” may be misleading. Clearly “homosexual” is a loaded modern term (unavailable to Paul in the 1st century) and it doesn’t convey the literal meaning of the words Paul uses. And in our context the word “homosexual” often carries a heavy connection to modern notions about orientation. Thus a person may feel this passage is condemning something beyond our control whereas these two words are actually condemning sexual practices not orientations.
Perhaps other, better English words might be used to render Paul’s terms, but it would be hard to be as explicit as Paul without being vulgar. Putting the two terms back to back makes it clear he is describing the roles in male homosexual sex. The first (malakos) gives himself to be used by the second (arsenokoitai). Those who engage in this practice, willfully repudiating God’s good creation design, along with ALL those involved in ANY unrepented pattern of sin (see the expansive list), are not eligible for the Kingdom.
Then, between the negative and positives of this passage there is this simple phrase:
“And such were some of you.”
Meaning, that some of the Corinthians had been adulterers, drunkards, thieves, and some had even been homosexuals – but they were no longer. They were new creations in Christ defined by three positive things:
- Washed. They had been baptized as an external expression of the internal act of forgiveness and cleaning that the Holy Spirit brings at the moment of conversion and new birth (II Cor. 5:17). The guilt and shame of an old way of life had been wiped away.
- Sanctified. They had been set apart as holy by God. They were called to a new way of life as instruments of God’s pleasure, as useful servants in God’s Kingdom, as God’s very own children and a part of his “called out” community, the church. The Holy Spirit had become their new power to live in newness of life, pleasing to God.
- Justified. They had been put morally right with God no matter what their past had been. Regardless of the previous choices, God now looked at them as sinless, not because they had perfectly obeyed God’s law, but because they had humbled themselves and repented and trusted in the work of Christ. They had a restored relationship with God as if they had never sinned.
The incredible hope is that God extends the grace and the power to absorb the eternal consequences of our pasts, AND to create real change in the life of the follower of Christ, no matter their actions in the past.
TWO MAIN FINDINGS
And now that we have examined all the relevant Bible passages in detail we note two strong patterns:
- The one is simply that homosexuality does not conform to God’s creation pattern for human sexuality. This is the clear teaching of Scripture. Even some Bible scholars or church leaders who argue strenuously that homosexuality should never be condemned admit this. After explaining vigorously that Christians ought to see homosexuality as legitimate and moral, Rev. Walter Wink concedes:
Where the Bible mentions homosexual behavior at all, it clearly condemns it. I freely grant that. The issue is precisely whether the Biblical judgment is correct.35
He is exactly right. Is the Biblical judgment correct, or must we step on the slope of Biblical relativity where we judge for ourselves the behaviors that are pleasing to God? Wink and others suggest the latter. It is our consistent findings that scholars cannot sustain the idea that homosexuality per se is Biblically legitimate without also suggesting that the Bible must be corrected in places. This is the common view noted in papers posted on the Evangelicals Concerned website, an organization that ironically claims the Bible as the totally reliable Word of God.36
Which means the debate really moves from the issue of homosexuality to the issue of the inspiration and authority of Scripture. Wink says, the Bible contains the principles for its own correction,37 saying that the Bible is filled with “sexism, patriarchalism, violence and homophobia” which need to be “filtered out.” This is a radical departure from a Biblical view of inspiration founded on the idea that all, not part, of the Scriptures are inspired by God (II Tim 3:16) – a view adhered to by the vast majority of the church for 2000 years.
Wink’s approach dislodges the Bible from having any moral force in our lives and not surprisingly, leads those who follow it to confused and inconsistent scholarship. This is amply illustrated in the following quote found on E.C.’s website (my comments in parenthesis):
In Matthew a Roman centurion asked Jesus to cure his “pais” who lay paralyzed and in great agony. He used the Greek word pais which, contains the suggestion of a young male kept for sexual purposes by his adult owner. The English word “pederasty” comes from this word. [He fails to note that the English word “pediatric” would also come from this word, since the Greek root means ‘child’, not ‘child sex slave’.] A present-day relationship of this type would be considered child sexual abuse, a serious crime. However, such arrangements were common in the Roman Empire at the time, and were tolerated by society. It is worth noting that Jesus condemns neither the master-slave status, nor the same-sex relationship, nor the obvious abuse by an adult having sex with a minor [which teaches us that this was OK?]. The Gospel of Luke told the same story differently. The boy was changed into a slave of undefined age…[which means Luke is not accurate?]38
This is simply representative of three problems in gay theology:
- Strained Word Meanings. We’ve seen how these scholars mishandled arsenokoitai and so too here: The word “Pais” has never been regarded as having intrinsic sexual overtones.39 It may mean child or slave or child-slave – however, the sexual connotation is extrapolated from the Greek culture – there is no suggestion in the text of such a relationship.
- Strained Logic. If this is an adult/child homosexual relationship, the fact that Jesus makes no comment is decidedly troubling! And the greater problem is how this contradicts the main contention of scholars who say that the Bible only condemns abusive, adult/child homosexuality or homosexual prostitution. Yet this passage is used to arrive at the conclusion that Jesus didn’t care about any expression of human sexuality!
- Undermining Biblical Integrity. The reference to how Luke “changed” the boy into a slave, reflects the author’s view of Scripture. Are these truthful accounts by both Matthew and Luke or were facts altered to suit one author’s sexual agenda? We might more reasonably suggest that Luke’s use of “doulos” (slave) nicely clarifies Matthew’s specific meaning for “pais”, showing this young person was definitely not a child of the Centurion, but his cherished servant.
It is important to note these as underlying tones to the scholarship that is commonly used in defense of homosexuality from the Bible. Especially noteworthy is the frequent implicit and explicit claim that the Bible must be corrected. In light of this, some comment must be made in defense of the full inspiration and authority of Scripture:
We assert that the Bible contains the principles, not for its own correction, but for its own interpretation – which is a vastly different thing. In other words, in difficult passages that seem at first glance to restrict the freedom of women, condone slavery, polygamy etc, or give conflicting sex mores, the Bible actually gives principles for selection and interpretation that make its ethic cohesive and beautiful.
One of those main principles is to remember that the stream of revelation history follows a clear sequence: Creation, Fall, Law, Redemption. So Genesis 1-2 provides God’s creation (ideal) order for human relationships (and sexuality). In the new creation in Christ, God’s creation designs are restored. In between the Creation and New Creation, there is the fall and sin. The Law was provided as an intermediary Steward for the human race between the creation and new creation periods to restrain and contain the disastrous consequences of the fall. Therefore, it was applied to pre-existing sinful conditions such as polygamy, patriarchy, slavery and so on. The mere mention of these practices in the Law is not meant to condone or endorse them for Christians but to limit their damaging effects. So while its moral principles are transcendent, the Law’s applications are temporal.
God, in the Law, is mercifully attempting to bring under control the murderous, authoritarian and abusive tendencies of human nature. But Jesus makes it clear that in the restoration of God’s CREATION design in the Church, God has invalidated many provisions of the Old Testament legislation by fulfilling their intent and has provided the means for fully restored community, with God and in human relationships.
Thus, for example, although polygamy was “allowed” under the Law (to contain the tendency of fallen man to have any woman he pleases without marital obligation) the Creation (Genesis 2:24) and the New Creation (Matt 19:4-6; I Tim. 3:2) paint a consistent ideal: one man, one woman for life. Also, though slavery was allowed under the law, the O.T. legislation always appears to be taming it’s abuses (Ex 21:8-11) and the New Testament sets the foundation for it’s complete abolition (Gal 3:28).
So while certain practices are “allowed”, “contained”, “managed” in the Law, waiting for the New Community fulfillment, we have plenty of biblical evidence that these things, like patriarchy, slavery, prostitution, polygamy have been annulled in the New Community of Christ, the Church. However, we have no such evidence of a principle of abrogation applied to the Old Testament laws regarding homosexual activity. Quite to the contrary, we are given several specific New Testament indications that the Old Testament homosexual legislation was indeed pointing to God’s creation designs for human sexuality. We are never given any principle that would cause us to say that the homosexual laws were merely requiring a deeper Creation or New Creation understanding that would justify homosexuality if it conforms to the “law of love” (I.E. if it were monogamous).
So, the Bible gives us the principles to interpret itself. However, Jesus never assumed that his followers should see the need to correct it (Matt 5:17). We belabor this point to justify our belief in the authority of all Scripture, and to focus the attention of the person wrestling with this issue on the crux of the matter:
- Do they believe that the Bible is the Word of God, such that what the authors wrote, despite their cultures, languages and the state of their scientific knowledge, was what God intended and the entire result, used properly, is suitable for teaching, for rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness? (II Pet. 2:21; II Tim 3:16).
- Will the person wrestling with these issues submit to the greater wisdom of God who alone has the right to define what “loving” truly is?
- Will they allow the Bible to teach them, rebuke or correct them and train them for righteous living in the power of the Holy Spirit? This is the heart of the matter.
2) The second pattern we find in our research is that the Bible never concerns itself with the inclination to homosexual behavior. Thus, God’s Word never condemns us for something we cannot help, namely the inclination or orientation to sin – whatever that may be. However, it does hold us responsible for our behavior. This insight leads us naturally to attempt to address the causes of the homosexual orientation:
CAUSES OF HOMOSEXUAL INCLINATION
Several explanations are offered for the causal forces that create the homosexual orientation
- Genetic Causes
This is the most talked about reason for the homosexual urge and is assumed by many in our society to be the sole explanation for all homosexuality. This is most likely because the following rationale is commonly accepted: if homosexuality is genetic, it is inborn, and if it is inborn, it must be God given, therefore it cannot and, in fact, should not be changed.
Studies done in 1940 showed that a mere 9 % of homosexuals themselves claimed that they were born that way. In 1990 that figure had risen to 35%.40 This increase shows, perhaps, the shift in thinking about the genetic causes of homosexuality. However, it proves conclusively that most homosexuals do not say, nor have they ever said that they were born that way.
Much study has been done to find a genetic link with homosexual orientation since it would seem to undergird the logic stated above. It is not for us to expound more than we have on the state of the research except to say that the cause effect link is still murky.41 Hormonal imbalances often play a role in sexualization and these are clearly biological in nature and there may biological traits combined with other socialization factors which help to create the proclivity.
But, either way, the logic “inborn equals God’s approval,” is spurious. Genetic defects, mutations, Down Syndrome, and a host of other maladies are inborn, but this does not cause us to assume that they are God’s ideal for humanity. In fact, recent studies have indicated that there may even be an alcoholic gene and an unfaithfulness gene, neither of which, if proven true, would change our views on substance abuse or adultery! Christians are not naturalists – they do not believe humans are genetic machines incapable of true moral freedom or responsibility. We believe humans are made in the image of God, and can stand above materialistic (genetic) processes and can decide freely how they will act.
- Arrested Development Causes
An individual’s earliest sexual curiosity is usually with his or her own body, and then, often, with others of the same sex during puberty followed normally by a heterosexual out-turning. This early sexual exploration is normal, from monosexual, to homosexual to heterosexual interest. But the phases may be interrupted while a child is developing due to shyness, introversion, disfigurement, inability to socialize, etc. So some adult homosexuality may therefore be an expression of retarded emotional development. Also, this may happen after the usual heterosexual out-turning has taken place, if there is a traumatic love affair gone wrong, an illness, or a pathological fear of men/women develops. This might cause someone to revert to the relative safety of early puberty experiences.42
- Environmental Causes
This would include artificial one-sex environments such as prison, military or private schools; a sour relationship with one or both parents; early and traumatic introduction to sex by a member of the opposite sex; male resentment against aggressive, predatory, over-dominating women or mothers, or by women against similar men or fathers; early negative imprinting of the opposite sex due to abandonment, early sexualization by an older member of the same sex, or sustained unresolved conflict with a parent of the opposite sex.
It should be noted that in most of my unofficial research, there was not one incidence of homosexual orientation that was not precipitated by some element of environmental factors, most often stemming from a dysfunctional relationship with a parent. One of the most prevalent patterns in the male homosexual is the disturbed father/son relationship.43 It follows an observable pattern of rejection as follows:
– Rejection by the father;
– Rejection of the father;
– Rejection of the male image,
– Rejecting a male image, the male homosexual has a difficult time relating to women as “heteros” – “other”, therefore as objects of desire.
This perhaps overlaps with the arrested development theory by saying that the homosexual has an unmet need for sexual identity transference in childhood. Homosexuality is a long term attempt to meet needs that were never met in childhood, especially the need for healthy, appropriate same sex affection and acceptance. When these are withheld, the child naturally goes looking for them.
Personality also factors in. Studies of siblings of homosexual individuals who are not gay even though raised in the same environment show that the more extremely sensitive child is more apt to feel rejection by parent (perceived or real) and therefore start down the rejection path.44
COMING OUT OF THE LIFESTYLE
This brief look at causation again argues that a clear distinction should be made between orientation and behavior. Orientation seems to arise from a host of factors – all of them lamentable or unfortunate. Understanding these factors is extremely important to foster compassion for those struggling with a homosexual orientation. We cannot, however, resolve our pain by calling something that originates always in sadness or sin or spoilage, good. It would be like trying to resolve our sadness about the existence of cancer by saying it’s really a pleasant thing after all. We may find God’s work in the pain (Gen. 50:20; Rom 8:28), but we cannot say it is part of his perfect will.
It is self destructive to try to escape the problem of pain by changing our standards. And our brief look at causation demands that we not escape it, but rather face it squarely. We see that the homosexual orientation is simply another one of many agonizing and sometimes confusing results of living in a fallen and broken world – a world where hormones can be out of balance, genes can be damaged, sex is misused, parents are absent or negligent, and conflict is unresolved.
These realities bring us to three conclusions:
- The homosexual orientation is complex and should therefore never be the object of our scorn but of our great concern and concerted efforts at helping the homosexual individual toward sexual purity and wholeness.
- The homosexual orientation arising from a variety of factors is treatable and may yield to loving counsel which draws out its underlying causes.
- The homosexual orientation, no matter the cause, presents special challenges to Christian discipleship, but God has given provisions and help.
Regarding the second conclusion, we must avoid two extremes, either saying that all homosexuals should be heterosexually married or saying that no change is ever truly possible. Certainly some homosexuals, after understanding the clear teaching of the Bible have embarked on failed campaigns to rid themselves of the homosexual urge. The fact that these fail in their attempt is no more a sign that God’s approves of homosexual behavior than is the fact that thousands of alcoholics fail to be free of their addiction after many attempts. Many Christ Followers attempt superficial changes as a thin substitute to real transformation in a variety of areas.
But we must not descend into cynicism. If we say that God cannot ever change deeply rooted sexual problems (assuming for a second that homosexuality is not one) what real hope does Christianity offer? What hope can we offer to people who have a proclivity for sex with children? (This too is increasingly being understood as an “orientation”.) There must be hope for deeply ingrained sexual behaviors to yield to the power of God, or else there is no hope for anyone to experience the change which God promises is possible (2 Cor 3:18).
Regarding the third conclusion about the difficulty of discipleship for the former homosexual, we realize there is no simple solution, like simply praying more. We find C.S. Lewis’s thoughts of discipling the former homosexual to be particularly perceptive:
I take it for certain that the physical satisfaction of homosexual desires is sin. This leaves the homosexual no worse off than any person who, for whatever reason, is prevented from marrying. Second, our speculations on the cause of the abnormality are not what matters and we must be content with ignorance. The disciples were not told WHY the man was born blind (Jn. 9:1-3): only the final cause: that the works of God should be made manifest in him. This suggests that in homosexuality, as in every other tribulation those works can be made manifest: IE. That every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will “turn the necessity to glorious gain.” Of course, the first step must be to accept any privations which, if so disabled, we can’t lawfully get. The homosexual has to accept sexual abstinence just as the poor man has to forego otherwise lawful pleasure because he would be unjust to his wife and children if he took them.”45
In other words, the path for the practicing homosexual is the same as for anyone coming into the Body of Christ with remnants of sin from an old way of life. First, they must, as Lewis says, repent and accept the privations that Christian morality demands. Meaning, God does not demand that a person be instantly “healed,” heterosexually oriented or happy, God demands holiness.
Obedience is key for it demonstrates trust in God and his good law; trust that it is there for our benefit and the benefit of others, and our trust in God’s love, that regardless of the obstacles or challenges, He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can handle, but will provide means of dealing effectively with hardships (I Cor 10:13). This will not be easy, but we remember that Jesus did predict that discipleship would at times strain the bounds of what we thought would be possible. (Matt 19:26)
Why should it be different for people struggling with sexual identity? As Lewis says, this difficult situation of the homosexual is not unique. We may consider the widow/widower, the impotent, the single who longs to marry and cannot or (through inherited disease or insanity) should not. For neither the homosexual nor these heterosexual persons is the situation simple or easy. For all such persons, prostitution and promiscuity may offer constant temptation.
Yet we believe the person who seeks to live a new life in Christ will also find all the resources of that New Life at their disposal.
- The Holy Spirit inside, will provide comfort and strength in times of extreme crisis (II Cor 3:17-18)
- We are also given the Community of Grace. This community – the church – has often made the homosexual the object of special scorn and forfeited its place in the spiritual development of persons wanting to find healing and wholeness in Christ. This should not be! In the Community should be found the gentle counseling to uncover root causes, which may lead to the kind of psychological insights and spiritual healing that reduce the loneliness, frustration and heartache of the homosexual without encouraging him or her to indulge in homosexual acts. When pursued, such counsel can (but not always) lead to a change in sexual orientation. The church should also provide the kind of healthy and accepting same sex friendships that meet legitimate same-sex affection needs in a non-sexual context. And these friendships should also provide the accountability, love and support for living in newness of life that all Christians should have with one another (Col 3:9-16).
- Change in sexual orientation should not be seen as the first goal. Obedience is the goal of Christian maturity and it is sustained by discipline (I Cor 9:24-27). A person with the psychological proclivity for the sin of stealing (we have a name for such a disorder: “kleptomania”) is still required by the gospel to stop stealing. They may through good counsel find an end to the psychological inclination, which will bring their feelings in line with God’s design for them. Chances are, however, even with good counsel, the “feelings” may never completely disappear. This puts the homosexual again, in the same camp as those Christians wrestling with the hold-over impulses of various addictive or compulsive behaviors. And, as in all these cases, with the power of God, consistent Christian discipline and obedience reinforces itself, leading to freedom.
We hope that Allen Creek Community Church will never be hateful or cruel to those among us who are struggling with their sexual orientation. We hope that we will be a beacon pointing to God’s grace, embodied in Christ who cared for the fallen and rejected and misunderstood.
In addition to being a community that spreads this grace, we must also be a community that stands up for God’s truth. Not in an arrogant or pompous way, but in a courageous way that says we have learned that God’s ways are higher than our ways; His wisdom exceeds our wisdom; and His plan for our family structures, our marital practices, and our sexual behavior is a righteous, honorable plan that will ennoble our existence and dignify our personhood, and strengthen our society if lived out broadly.
We seek to be a church that opens its doors and arms to those struggling with sexual confusion and we hope that such individuals will give their lives and sexual brokenness and confusion to Christ. Then we hope these new believers will – day by day, through the power of Christ and the help of a small group of fellow believers, and good teaching from God’s Word, and the support of family, and the coaching of Christian counselors, and the disciplines of the spiritual life – walk toward wholeness sexually, and full devotion to Christ, leaving the old life behind (Eph 4:22-24).
APPENDIX 1 –
AC3’s 9 AFFIRMATIONS REGARDING HOMOSEXUALITY AND GAY MARRIAGE
We are conscious that different Christian churches might apply these points in different ways, yet we believe that, taken together, they reflect an authentic, biblical response to homosexuality in general and sexually active same-sex partnerships in particular:
- We recognize that all of us are sinners, and that the only true hope for sinful people – whatever our sexuality – is in Jesus Christ. Our earnest prayer is that his love, truth and grace would characterize Christian response to debates on homosexuality, both now and in future.
- We affirm that all persons are made in the image of God, and ought to be respected as worthy of all basic freedoms, rights and responsibilities regardless of their sexual orientation. Because of this, we repudiate all attitudes and actions which victimize or diminish people whose affections are directed towards people of the same gender. We affirm those Christians who recognize and deeply regret the hurt caused by past and present failures in their unmerciful responses to homosexuals.
- We affirm that marriage is an institution created by God in which one man and one woman enter into an exclusive relationship for life. We affirm that Scripture, understood holistically and in light of its progressive revelation, teaches that marriage is the only form of partnership approved by God for sexual relations and therefore homoerotic sexual practice is fundamentally incompatible with His will as revealed in Scripture. We affirm God’s sexual design is a good and noble plan that will ennoble our personhood and bless our society if lived out broadly. We do not accept that holding these theological and social views on biblical grounds is in itself homophobic.*
- We desire AC3 to be a community of grace in which those who experience same-sex attraction can authentically share and explore their stories and feel welcomed, accepted and not excluded because of their current or past sexual choices. AC3 needs to be a safe space where all people can confront the gospel and as they respond to it, can look to fellow believers for mutual encouragement and support as we help each other grow together into maturity in Christ.
- We oppose moves within certain churches to accept and/or endorse sexually active same-sex partnerships as a legitimate form of Christian relationship and to permit the elevation into leadership of those in such sexual relationships. AC3 will not perform church services of blessing for civil partnerships and other forms of gay and lesbian relationships and reject any redefinition of marriage to encompass same-sex relationships.
- We commend and encourage all those who experience same-sex attraction and have committed themselves to chastity by refraining from homoerotic sexual practice. We believe they should be eligible for ordination and leadership within the church, recognizing that they can bring invaluable insights and experience to the sphere of Christian pastoral ministry.
- We welcome and support the work of those individuals and organizations who responsibly seek to help Christians who experience same-sex attraction as in conflict with their commitment to live in accordance with biblical teaching. This help will involve counsel and pastoral support to live a chaste life and, as part of this process, some may seek and experience changes in the strength or direction of their same-sex attractions.
- We believe both habitual homoerotic sexual activity without repentance and public promotion of such activity are inconsistent with faithful church membership. While processes of membership and discipline differ from one church context to another, we believe that either of these behaviors warrants consideration for church discipline.
- We encourage all Churches to welcome and accept sexually active lesbians and gay men. However, they should do so in the expectation that they, like all of us who are living outside God’s purposes, will come in due course to see the need to be transformed by the gospel. We urge gentleness, patience and ongoing pastoral care during this process and after a person renounces same-sex sexual relations.
*see AC3’s position paper explaining the relevant biblical texts.
- Two examples from political life:
- A 1989 report of the Secretaries Task Force on Youth Suicide the U.S. Government includes this statement: “A variety of gay male and lesbian adult lifestyles should be presented as positive and viable for youth.”
- Former U.S. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders said: “we need speak out to tell people that sex is… a normal and healthy part of our being, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual.”
- See “Statement of Faith” in Corporate By Laws of Allen Creek Community Church, 1994.
- Wink, Dr Walter, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- See “Statement of Faith” in Corporate Bylaws of Allen Creek, 1994.
- Saia, Michael R., Counseling the Homosexual, Bethany House, 1988 pg 61.
- White, R.E.O., “Homosexuality”, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker Book House, 1984, pg 528.
- Bailey, D. Sherwin, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, Shoe String Press/Archon Books, 1975, pg 3.
- Kidner, cited by Michael Uklaja, “Homosexuality and the Old Testament”, Bibliotheca Sacra, 1983 pg 261.
- God makes no comment about the morality of Lot’s offer of his daughters. The Bible simply reports that he did so. On the basis of other Scripture we may assume it is always improper to do evil so that some good may result (Rom 3:8). Regardless, the passage tells us that Lot felt the homosexual aspect of the rape to be evil.
- Gearheart S. & Johnson, W.R., Loving Women/Loving Men: Gay Liberation in the Church, Glide Publications, 1974, pg 40.
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- Leviticus 19:2.
- As quoted in Dannemeyer, William, Shadow in the Land, Ignatius Press, 1989, pg 17.
- Homosexuality was only removed from the American Psychiatric Association’s list of mental disorders in 1973. It should also be noted that this did not happen as a result of a major scientific breakthrough, but due to intense lobbying on the part of political groups – Charles W. Socarides, in “Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: the Issue of Homosexuality,” The Journal of Psychohistory, Winter 1992, pg. 308-32
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible.”
- Saia, pg 71.
- Dr. Stanley Monteith, medical expert with twenty years of research in the area of homosexual relationships, as quoted at Willow Creek Community Church, 1993: “About 93 percent engage in rectal sex, which is anal intercourse. And, of course, the rectum was not built for intercourse. So when you carry out anal intercourse, you manage to tear the rectal mucosa, you expand the sphincter, in many instances. It’s not a healthy activity, because you tear the rectal mucosa which is why there is such a high incidence of disease in these cases.”
- Ibid on the frequency of other homosexual practices:
- 92%, “rimming.” (licking in and around the anus)
- 47% “fisting”. (inserting fist or arm into the rectum).
- 29% “golden showers.” (urinating on partner).
- 17% “scat” (eating human feces)
- Hybels, Bill, quoted at Willow Creek Community Church, 1993.
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- Millward, Rev. A.E., What the Bible says to Homosexuals, Council on Homosexuality and Religion, 1986, pg 18.
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- Harrison, pg 24.
- Harrison, Everett F., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1976, Vol. 10, pg 25.
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- Saia, pg 61.
- Arndt, William R. and Gingrich, F. Wilbur, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, University of Chicago Press, 1957, pg 489.
- Gagnon, “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?, pg 10.
- Arndt, Gingrich, p 109.
- Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, pg 75.
- Strong, James, Strong’s Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, Riverside Book and Bible House, pg 16.
- Gagnon, “Why the Disagreement over the Biblical Witness on Homosexual Practice?, pg 10
- Ibid, pg 10.
- Ibid, pg 10.
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- Evangelicals Concerned, “What we Believe” website posting 12/21/00.
- Wink, “Homosexuality and the Bible”.
- Thayer’s Definitions.
- Cameron, “Exposing the AIDS Scandal”, 1988, pg 42.
- We’re aware of Dr. Simon LeVay’s work with homosexual cadavers and Bailey and Pillard’s study of identical twins. Though these are intriguing, we are also aware of researcher bias (all are homosexual activists) and the researcher’s skepticism about their own conclusions: “At this moment, it is still a very big mystery. Not even my work nor any other work that’s been done so far really totally clarifies the situation of what makes people gay or straight.” – Dr. Simon LeVay taped interview for the John Ankerberg show.
- White, pg 529.
- Saia, pg 50.
- Ibid, pg 57.
- C.S. Lewis, as found in The Quotable Lewis.