I don’t typically write about biblical topics outside of headship but a post on another blog page the other day got me thinking more about gays in the church and how the situation is being dealt with by pastors and the congregation alike. This is going to be a little off the reservation for me and, as always, I am fully open to respectful opinion and discussion, as I will be talking about what my understanding is of the situation, but that certainly doesn’t mean my understanding is set in stone. If, through scripture, someone can show me that my understanding is incorrect I am more than happy to take facts into consideration and adjust my understanding, but only to be in line with scripture!
That being said, the proceeding post will have subject matter somewhat adult in nature. I am not putting it behind a password, as I don’t want to have to password it, but I am issuing a fair warning for those who decide to click past the break.
First off let me start with a few of my most basic understandings regarding sex and the bible. God gives the children of Israel a pretty exhaustive list of activities He considers sexually immoral in the book of Leviticus, chapter 18. Amongst these activities are:
- To “uncover” the nakedness of a family member, which, in my understanding, would mean to uncover with a sexual intent. I mean, I’m sure we have all seen our parents and siblings naked at some time in our lives, particularly when children, but this warning is against an action: Uncovering. You will also notice that the list is fairly long, taking up v. 6-19!
- “Uncovering” the nakedness of a woman and her daughter or a wife and her sister (more on this later).
- Lying with your wife during her time of uncleanliness (menstruation)
- Lying with your neighbors wife (adultery)
- Man lying with man as with woman (homosexuality)
- Any sexual activity between people and animals (bestiality)
These preceding restrictions, with the exception of adultery, make up biblical fornication. The bible only speaks about fornication and adultery being sexual sins, so we can surmise that what is not adultery is considered “fornication”. Also, I doubt my list above is exhaustive, and it is not meant to be.
Notice that throughout scripture there are no restrictions against oral or anal sex. I am not promoting either in this post, simply pointing out that when it comes to biblical restrictions there are none specific, though I have seen some other bloggers indicate what they thought were restrictions against the activity for reasons other than the simple activity (ie: not causing physical harm to someone under your authority).
Verses in scripture ensure us that homosexuality is not just sinful, but what God calls an abomination:
- Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
- Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
- Romans 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
- 1 Timothy 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
The verse at Leviticus 18:22 is really all that should be needed. God states very plainly that a man lying with a man (sexually) as with a woman is an abomination. You can’t be too much more straight forward than that.
Now, a little about how I personally view the current climate of homosexuality:
Homosexuality is nothing new, that’s for sure, but it has become a progressively prominent lifestyle in the Western world in the past fifty or so years. Personally I do not believe it is something genetically driven per se. Allow me to explain:
Firstly, NO, I do not believe that people are genetically wired to be homosexuals, there just has never been concrete evidence that such a thing is true. By concrete I mean that 100% of science agrees on it. I can say there is concrete evidence that water freezes at 32 degrees F/0 degrees C because 100% of scientists would agree. It is a provable and repeatable fact that never fails, even if, for some reason, only 99% of scientists agree. The 1%, though they may rant and rave, will be proven wrong 100% of the time because the science never fails. In the same way I can say there is 100% concrete evidence that a child with two X chromosomes will be female while a child with XY chromosomes will be male. Despite the kerfuffle about ‘genders’ right now it doesn’t matter, the science is proven time and time again, even if some choose to ignore it. To date there has been no concrete evidence regarding genetic markers with regards to sexual orientation that I know of. I mean a rock-solid, repeatable marker that without a doubt indicates 100% of the time the sexual orientation of a human and can adequately predict homo or heterosexuality. That makes homosexuality a choice, which means it is one we can choose to deny ourselves, particularly when we, as Christians, know that it is sinful behavior. That means it is also a choice that someone who is participating in can turn away from, regardless of how difficult the decision or process may be.
I believe the rise in homosexuality is due to a number of factors, the most prominent being that it is no longer considered a stigma to act in such a manner. Fifty years ago it was frowned upon by Western society as a whole to be a known homosexual and it was something that could ruin careers and lives. Why? Because it was seen as a deviant lifestyle, one that promoted disease and mental issues. Over time that view has been purposefully shaped and changed so that the public, as a whole, does not see the lifestyle as deviant, but that has done nothing to change the effects of the lifestyle on those who live in it. The next prominent reason, to me, being that it is simply en vogue to be gay. Yes, it has become nothing more than a fashion statement! Not only is it the in thing to do, but it also gives people the mental satisfaction of allowing themselves to think they are so open minded and accepting that they simply cannot call something bad that seems so good! I mean, its love, right? We can just love whoever we want and it shouldn’t be looked down upon because its LOVE!
Now, this being said, I will say this: it is my understanding that women are naturally bisexual. Their ability to form strong emotional attachments to others, male or female, means they are capable of physical relations with either sex. I think this is one of the reasons we have the trope of the female “curious phase”, particularly attached to places like college where girls can form strong emotional attachments to friends. Scientific studies have shown that men may be more easily aroused by sexual stimuli, but women have a broader spectrum of what would be considered sexual stimuli than men do. So where, during testing, men overall were not aroused by images of male-on-male sex women were just as aroused by female-on-female sex than they were male/female sex. This means that for men homosexual sex was overwhelmingly off the table while for women homosexual sex was a stimulating possibility (Information on study here). I am not saying that every woman will turn into a lipstick lesbian at the drop of a hat. In fact, I think the majority of women will likely never feel the pull of attraction to another woman that strongly, but I would say that women are not as “hard coded” against opposite sex attraction as men are, but that doesn’t mean they are genetically predisposed to be homosexual.
Now, this is important for a reason: Nowhere in scripture does God forbid women from sexual activity with women. If you look over all the scripture you will find it speaks specifically to men, and my understanding is that there is a reason for this.
God permits men to have more than one wife and we see evidence of this several times throughout scripture:
- When God spoke to David through Nathan, saying: “And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things.” (2 Samuel 12:8)
- When God compares Himself to a husband with two wives in Ezekiel 23.
- When God gives Israel rules on the treatment of an existing wife if a man takes another wife in Exodus 21.
Simply because it is not practiced in Western societies does not mean God has forbidden it.
This being said, in Exodus 21:10-11 we see one of the only two restrictions placed on a man with more than one wife: That he not diminish the provisions of his previous wife/wives if he take on another. We see no restriction on sexual activity except in Leviticus 18:18 where we find the second restriction:
18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.
It must be pointed out that the restriction is on not taking the sister of one of your wives as a wife “to vex her” and not necessarily on taking sisters as wives. I take this to mean that if taking your wife’s blood sister causes her strife the don’t do it. The restriction cannot be simply be “you can’t marry sisters” because Joseph himself married two sisters, Leah and Racheal, who apparently had no problem with the setup. You might say “well, what about the restriction on sex between family members”? A bit more on that below.
With this in mind there is also no restriction on wives enjoying sexual activity between themselves with one caveat: The marriage bed sanctifies sex and sexual activity, therefore this only applies to those within the marriage. A girl away at college engaging in sexual activity with her female roommate is still fornication, but a wife engaging in sexual activity with another wife of her husband is not because the marriage sanctifies the activity. Nowhere in scripture does it indicate that sexual activity between wives is permitted ONLY when they are engaged with their husband. We are told by the bible not to add to nor take away from the word, and that for that which there is no law is not sin. This is not any type of scriptural gymnastics, but comes from a simple reading and understanding. Is sexual activity between the wives of a husband forbidden? No. Is sexual activity outside of a marriage forbidden? Yes.
In addition to this I will say that it is my understanding that two women cannot “have sex”, as the act of sex is the act of a male penetrating a female. Though we may refer to sexual activities as “having sex” (ie: oral sex, touching, etc.) the act of sex requires a man and a woman and actual P-in-V/A sexual intercourse. Even with the various tools or toys, between two women it is not true “sex”. This also explains how a man could have two sisters as wives and they could still enjoy sexual relations together if they wanted. A husband could have sexual intercourse with either one of his wives, who are sisters, but sisters are unable to have sexual intercourse with one another (naturally). I’m not promoting the practice, simply pointing out how the law and restrictions work, seeing as how this is something that was practiced in ancient times.
The scripture, however, is very specific about men “lying” with men as they would with a woman, ie: Sexual intercourse. This activity is strictly forbidden and called “an abomination”. Any other sexual activity NOT intercourse would, of course, be fornication, which is also strictly forbidden. Note that it is not the act of anal sex that is forbidden, but the penetration of a man by another man, as he would penetrate a woman, is forbidden. We, as humans, think of sex as a merely physical action, but the word of God tells us it is as much spiritual as it is physical. When a man penetrates a woman something happens between them on a spiritual level. The word says “the two become one flesh”, and this does not reference the act of sex. We know this because Jesus tells us specifically that God has joined the two together in one flesh (Matthew 19). “What therefore what GOD has joined together….”. This union cannot happen between two men and is, in fact, sinful and sickening to God!
Now, with all this being said I don’t see how any church, congregation or denomination can be accepting of the homosexual lifestyle. That is not to say that homosexuals cannot accept Christ. Anyone can accept Christ but because God calls the homosexual lifestyle an abomination and tells us that it will bar one from entry into His kingdom He would, by no means, allow it to persist in one of His children! It is sin! It is wicked! The indwelling power of the holy spirit should cause us conviction when we have sin in our lives and our love of God the father should compel us to rid our lives of that which is sinful! Imagine telling a serial murderer that if he accepts Christ he doesn’t have to repent or stop murdering! Or a drunkard that he has no need to repent and control his drinking! God says “Come as you are”, but the indwelling power of the holy spirit will not allow us to stay “as we are” because we come to God as sinful, wretched beings! If God didn’t care about that then what use have we for God?
Now there are some who say that the laws restricting homosexuality are only valid for the time in which they were written, in biblical times, but that would be counter to scripture. God says He does not change, and that which offends Him then offends Him now. The apostle Paul tells us that we could not know what sin was if not for the law, and Jesus said He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it, and that any who preach to ignore even the least of the law would be called the least in heaven! Therefore, any church that preaches acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle does its congregation, particularly those who are in said lifestyle, a great disservice!
The modern Western church is so weak in its understanding of scripture its sad. And the problem does not lie solely with the pastors, though they share a great portion of the blame! Look, I was there, several years ago. The pastor would read a scripture or two, tell the congregation what it meant and I would accept it whole cloth as the truth, never looking above or below said scripture or research it on my own! Even when the pastor did tie certain scripture into others they certainly didn’t do as in-depth a job as was required, and they maybe shouldn’t have anyway. What should be happening is that pastors should be directing their congregations in the word, yes, but the congregation should be intentionally researching and studying on its own. Every pastor should have an understanding that his congregation will hold him accountable to the word by asking questions and approaching him they feel he is out of line. That’s not to say the congregation directs the pastor, but if I as a member of a church, feel the pastor is out of line with his understanding of a scripture I should be able to approach him on it and question him. I did this, in fact, with my last church, which I documented in several places on this blog (here, here, here and here). When my pastor told me that certain scriptures only had cultural relevance and could be ignored, and then spoke to the congregation, excusing a wife’s disobedience to her husband because he didn’t meet her studying standards I called him on it because his words were completely opposite the words of the Bible. I ended up leaving that church.
The majority of modern churches have the unfortunate problem of having to meet a budget. Once a church has a building with a monthly mortgage, a monthly internet bill and sound/video equipment payments they also have a need to fill the seats with as many people as is needed to meet the budget, which means tithes. I remember at the church prior to the one I had left the pastor did a month or so long lesson on tithing and about how important it was for us to give until it hurt. After all, are we really trusting in God if we are only giving what is comfortable to us? I thought nothing of it because I have never been one to tithe “until it hurts” because God gave me a brain with which to budget and, if I have 2000$ of bills a month then I am to honor those commitments and make sure the bills are paid, including my budgeted tithe. After I had left the church we received a letter in the mail, which went out to everyone on the churches mailing list, informing members that the church still needed 120,000$ in funds to be in the black for the year. ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! By comparison the new church I was attending barely made a couple hundred dollars a month in tithes since most of the people there were poor or old and yet they still did more for the community than the larger church, by leaps and bounds!
This need to fulfill a budget will, eventually, lead to some pastor somewhere, caving on scripture in order to permit more butts in the seats and more cash in the bag. This can lead to selective “overlooking” or “reinterpretation” of scripture, which is what we are seeing a lot of today. For what its worth, pastor B in my story is not ignoring scripture because he wants more money, but because he has been improperly trained by a denomination that has acquiesced to cultural programming, ie: Feminism.
That brings us to my second point. Cultural feminism has invaded the Western church and along with it has come the “nobody can have their feelings hurt” mentality of the nanny state. The point of the gospel is to have our sinful natures pricked and hurt so that we understand we need a savior. The sting of conviction prompts us to seek answers. This is one of the reasons why I have given up on arguing with others on the internet: It does no good! Someone stuck in their ways are just that: Stuck! They will argue tooth and nail for what they believe to be the truth, even until death! Logic and facts rarely have an effect on them, even when they consider themselves “open minded”. Compare that to someone who has something shake their very core and they are actively seeking answers. Even if you don’t have the answer they like they are much more open to listening and understanding than one who thinks they know it all. The word of God is as a two edged sword, and boy does it open up some terrible wounds! Many of you probably know what it feels like to be flayed open by the words of the bible and to get a first hand look at the corruption and filth inside yourself. Without an impetus to change, why change?
By removing the sting of conviction churches, and whole denominations, have set homosexuals up for failure. Not just any failure, but ETERNAL failure. The bible is clear. Only by intentionally ignoring the meaning can one derive anything other than “homosexuality is sin” from the words. Whether fornication between two women or an abomination between two men, the result is the same: “…shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The only way you can spin that is willful ignorance.
In the post I mentioned at the beginning of this post a certain person commented “I’m gay and I’m all about God.” Sorry, but no, your not. Being “all about God” means hating those things He hates and loving those things He loves. He hates sin, and homosexuality is sin. He doesn’t hate the person, but the infection of sin within them, and we should do likewise. I have worked with gay people before and I don’t mistreat them nor do I proselytize them, but when asked how I felt about their lifestyle I was very clear: To me, a follower of Christ, their lifestyle was one that was going to lead to eternal death, but it was by their own choice. Some accepted my answer and said they were just going to continue living how they were, some got mad and tried to argue, but I don’t argue with them. It is exactly their choice, and what say do I have in that? I don’t judge them, God judges them. I do, however, judge those who call themselves Christians, as the word calls for us to do within the body, and those “Christians” who are practicing homosexuals are living in sin and should repent lest they be barred from the kingdom of heaven.
You may disagree, and that’s fine. I mean, really we wont know until judgement, but if worse comes to worse all I can be accounted for is preaching that homosexuality is wrong, as the word indicates, and offending other Christians.
What do you think? Respectful comments below. If you are rude or obnoxious (to a degree) expect to have your comments deleted, but I will not delete the comment of one who disagrees with me simply because they disagree. My goal is to understand the scriptures in a better way so that I can better conform to the mind of Christ. I hope that is your goal too.
I may add more to this post as time goes by and I think of some things I may have missed.