There has been a lot of talk about homosexuality since President Obama’s recent announcement in support of “gay marriage.” I have heard people react with nearly uncontrollable delight, and others with outrage. Although, I was definitely upset by the announcement, because it helps to legitimize sin, I can’t say it came as a surprise to me.
Since this topic is in the public spotlight, I want to take this opportunity to make a few observations. The issue of homosexuality is, to say the least, a hot-button topic on both sides of the issue. But it is one I think New Testament Christians ought to handle with kindness and gentleness (Galatians 5:22-23).
Let me start with a few biblical definitions. Although our civil government may recognize a union between two people of the same gender as “marriage,” God is the one who instituted marriage and invented sex. God defines marriage as one woman and one man joined together for life (Matthew 19:4-6); and sexual union is only acceptable and pure in God’s sight, when it is within that context. Therefore, any sexual act between two people, who are not husband and wife, is sinful (Hebrews 13:4). This includes, but is certainly not limited to, homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9).
With that being said, Christians need to understand how homosexuality is similar to, and also different from, other sins. Homosexuality is similar to other sins in that it is the fulfillment of a desire (sex) in a sinful way (outside of God’s definition of marriage). James says that man is tempted and sins when, “He is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). In this way, homosexuality is just like all sin; it is the fulfillment of a desire in a sinful way. The same as when I have fulfilled my desire to avoid pain, by lying. It is not the desire itself which is sinful. It is the act of fulfilling that desire, in a way not authorized by our Creator and Lord, which is sinful.
The way in which homosexuality differs from many other sins is that it is the fulfillment of an unnatural desire. Romans 1:26-27 says, “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (emphasis mine). The desire for sexual fulfillment is natural. However, the desire for sexual fulfillment with someone of the same gender is “contrary to nature.”
It does not take a doctor or scientist to understand that human anatomy makes heterosexual intercourse “natural” and homosexual acts “unnatural.” Our bodies were simply not created for homosexuality. Therefore, it is not natural for a man to desire a man or a woman to desire a woman sexually. Please understand, this desire itself is not “sinful,” it is simply not natural. I believe there are many factors which can cause a person to have these unnatural desires; some may very well be hereditary, but it seems to me, most have to do with childhood events.
Regardless, we need to understand that those with homosexual desires (whether they are willing to admit it or not) are suffering, hurting, and confused. They have people in the world encouraging them to fulfill their desires, and some in the church condemning them for their desires. I believe both are the wrong approach.
Allow me to make an analogy. A natural instinct and desire is self-preservation; we want to live. However, there are certain people who, for various reasons, have the unnatural desire to end their life. If someone, you loved and cared for, came to you admiting her desire to die, would you encourage her to fulfill this desire? Of course not! It would be wrong for her to end her life. But neither would you point your finger at her and condemn her for her desire to die. You would certainly seek to get her the proper help to learn how to cope with, and eventually overcome, this unnatural (and unhealthy) desire.
In the same way, we must understand that homosexual desires are something with which people need love, help, and counseling. They do not need President Obama’s, or the sinful world’s, encouragement to act on these desires. And for the most part, I do not believe they need our constant berating speeches about how homosexuality is a sin. Many of them already know it is a sin. What they need from us is answers. They need to be helped to understand how to deal with, and eventually overcome, these desires. There are groups out there who are doing just that, helping people overcome this struggle. We need to be joining that fight!
Most importantly, we need to help all people replace their desires for gratifying the flesh, with a desire to glorify God (Romans 13:14). That is what this life is all about and it is a struggle from which none of us (including you and I) are exempt.
I love you and God loves you,