It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thess 4:3-8 NIV
It is difficult to have a reasonable discussion of homosexuality because of all the rhetoric in our times coloring and disguising the issues. To describe homosexual acts as wrong or sinful invites being labeled homophobic or bigoted or worse. Many notions about homosexuality have been advanced, and even become accepted as common knowledge, which are not fact based but represent romantic idealism, wishful thinking, or outright deception rather than honest information. The notion of homosexual fidelity for example is talked up, as though it is or could be common, but is not supported by much evidence of “long term committed relationships.” People assert that God doesn’t condemn homosexual acts, but this is certainly not the case. The idea that homosexuality is a product of one’s genes, “just born that way,” is touted but there is little data to support the conclusion, and no unambiguous data at all. The numbers estimating the percentage of homosexuals in the population are often drastically exaggerated. However, we’ve had more than thirty years of increasingly strident propaganda promoting homosexual acts as normal and beyond reproach in the public media and popular entertainment. The evidence and symptoms that once defined homosexuality as a damaging “disorder” in psychology textbooks didn’t change, it was simply discarded and the diagnosis and treatment rejected. Nevertheless, homosexuality is still dangerous and self-destructive, spiritually, physically, and psychologically. It is still wrong, and should be resisted by all who are attracted to it. Homosexuality still keeps company with numerous health, behavior and attitude problems.
There is no question that the Bible consistently condemns homosexual behavior, by men or women. Romans 1:26-27* describes the proliferation of homosexuality as one part of the progression of degradation that mankind apart from God sinks into. Jude and Peter refer to the acts performed in Sodom and Gomorrah as sexual immorality, perversion, filthy and lawless deeds (Jude 7*, 2 Peter 2:6-8*). The law of Moses condemned homosexual acts as detestable with a penalty of death (Leviticus 20:13*). Keeping perspective though, we should realize that the same general references in context can also be used to discuss God’s condemnation of disrespect for parents and rejection of authority (actually these are closely related themes, Romans 1:30, Jude 8-10, 2 Peter 2:10, Leviticus 20:9).
The prophet Malachi wrote, “You ask, “Why?” It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not [the LORD] made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.” (Mal 2:14-16 NIV) God’s design for mankind, from the beginning, included a design for the family, a man and woman joined together in a faithful relationship, producing godly offspring. Homosexual partnerships of course cannot conform to this design. There are many ways to deviate from the design, including homosexuality, infidelity and divorce. Any variation from the design is going to carry consequences that affect body, mind, and spirit, whether people like it or not. Every moral choice also has widespread effects on relatives, friends, associates, and ultimately the whole culture and world.
Paul pictures a marriage between a man and a woman as a healthy way of avoiding the temptations of immorality (1 Cor. 7:1-7). Homosexual partnerships cannot be described in the same way, rather as in the references already mentioned homosexuals are pictured as yielding to lust, not avoiding it or triumphing over it. In the same letter, Paul spoke of the exclusion of “adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders” and others from the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9). He also wrote about a man in a sexual relationship with his stepmother (his father’s wife, 1 Cor. 5:1-5). Paul didn’t wonder whether the man and his stepmother “loved” each other. Their choice of relationship was intolerable and terribly destructive, it was wrong, and should have prompted grief, not acceptance (see Lev. 20:11). Whether they were adults, whether they were “in love,” whether they were otherwise decent people, none of that legitimized a forbidden and unacceptable relationship, a relationship that defied morals, undermined respect for authority, and perverted the family design. Immorality of any kind cannot be justified by feelings, good or bad. This will always be true of homosexual acts, whether in short term or long term relationships, no matter what efforts are made to normalize attitudes toward them. We shouldn’t single out homosexual sins as worse than other sins, but homosexuality is clearly wrong, and like any sin, very destructive to all who embrace it.
- Rom 1:26-27 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
- Jude 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. NIV
- 2 Peter 2:6-8 if God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) NIV
- Lev 20:13 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