Saturday, June 18, 2016

And Such Were Some of You

The other day I was listening to a webcast where the speaker was dealing with Leviticus, specifically its prohibition of same sex sexual relations. According to this particular scripture, God prohibited sex between two men giving as a reason for such prohibition the actions of the nations surrounding the Jews. In other words, God wanted his people to abstain from doing things, such as same sex relations, that were being done by those who did not know Him and who were being judged for such behavior. In light of the recent shootings at a “gay” nightclub in Florida, it may seem insensitive to broach such a subject. But unfortunately, sinful behavior does not take a vacation. The fact that we have such things as “Gay Pride Month” and LGBTA Summits, attests to the sad reality that our world is not only confused beyond understanding about its own sinfulness, but also that it has taken the practice of calling evil good to new heights (Isaiah 5:20).

Today’s society is one where homosexuality is increasingly becoming an accepted, and even in many circles, a celebrated lifestyle. The detestation that God has for such conduct is no longer a motivating factor for many. Sad to say, this attitude has even infected Christianity and many churches, which are often going out of their way to try and accommodate such behavior and attitudes. You may have read or heard about the so-called Christian homosexual movement, ironically named “The Reformation Project,” that seeks to normalize the homosexual lifestyle and attempts to make it compatible with God’s’ revelation. This, I believe, is the most dangerous of all such efforts. There are those who simply do not care what God has to say about homosexuality. They are content to just continue to live their preferred lifestyle with nary a thought as to what God wants. Among those who so think are people such as Dan Savage who acknowledges that the Bible prohibits such conduct, but then tells us that he simply doesn’t care what the Bible has to say about it. But when some engaging in such practices seek God’s approval for the same and insist that God does not condemn such actions, that is a danger that can quickly destroy any church and that seeks to destroy the authority of Scripture.

Many within the homosexual community point out the fact that the Bible says little directly about homosexuality. In the strictly technical sense, that is true. The Bible addresses that lifestyle directly in only six passages. In addition to the aforementioned passages in Leviticus, which are to be found in chapters 18 and 20, we have the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18, the mention of such practice as part of God’s “giving up” of sinful humanity in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1. We are told that, since the Bible only mentions homosexuality in six distinct passages, then it must not be that important. The problem with such a reasoning is that, if we are going to count passages to determine how important a specific doctrine is, then we have completely lost all sense of what God’s revelation is all about. The fact that little is said about bestiality, for example, outside the Levitical Holiness Code, does not make it any less sinful than murder.

But what of the passages that have been cited above? Often those who promote the homosexual agenda will seek to revise those passages so they can fit their particular beliefs. As with so many others engaged in sinful lifestyles, homosexual advocates have attempted to change the plain meaning of scripture so they can be seen to still believe the Bible, but continue to engage in their perversion. Take the Genesis account for example. We are told that the sin of Sodom and her sister city was not homosexuality, but rather lack of hospitality. This novel approach is derived from the fact that Ezekiel 16 says that one of the sins of Sodom was not being hospitable. Thus, that is used as support for that theory.

However, the problem with that approach is twofold. First, you have the obvious attempt by the men of Sodom to have sex with the two visitors that had come to Lot’s house. As a matter of fact, even after they had been struck blind, they continued to feel for the door in their lustful rush to have sex with the men. Secondly, the passage in Ezekiel does say what I have quoted, however, it does not end there, but goes on to declare that the Sodomites were guilty of a “detestable act” in the sight of God. Thus, they were certainly guilty of not being hospitable, but they were also guilty of sexual immorality. This is reinforced by Jude who, in verse seven of his letter, reminds his readers of the sexual immorality of Sodom in “going after strange flesh,” an indication that they were engaging in all kinds of sexual perversion, homosexuality being one of them.

This article takes its title from the scripture in 1 Corinthians 6. There, beginning in verse 9, Paul lays out a catalog of sins that the Corinthians had engaged in and which many apparently still saw as compatible with their Christianity. And one of them, homosexuality, is right in the middle of things such as fornication, adultery and thievery. It is interesting to note that Paul uses a term which he may have coined himself, “arsenokoites,” a composite of arsenos, the word for men, and koiten, the word for sexual intercourse. Thus, Paul makes it clear that men who have sex with men are to be considered as sinful as adulterers, thieves and the like. Then in verse 11 he reminds his readers that they had once engaged in such conduct, but had now been “washed, sanctified, justified by the blood of Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” It is clear, then, that Paul did not seek to accommodate homosexuality, but that on the contrary he forcefully pointed out that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

So what does all this mean for us today? First of all, it means that we cannot compromise with evil, any kind of evil, regardless of how innocent it may seem. There is little doubt that many homosexuals are hardworking, nice, polite people. It is the same with many others who engage in a variety of sins. There are many who are fornicators, adulterers, liars and the like who are very nice people. They are our neighbors, our co-workers and people with whom we come in contact with on a daily basis. People engage in all kinds of sins and those of us who seek to be faithful to God and his word cannot compromise with them or their behaviors. But what makes the homosexual issue perhaps more insidious, is the fact that many of its proponents are seeking to silence those of us who condemn such practices based on the word of God. You no doubt have heard about the laws that have been passed in other countries outlawing certain kinds of speech, among which is speaking against homosexuality. In these countries, to say that God does not approve of such conduct is tantamount to hate speech and carries with it legal sanctions. When was the last time you heard of a law that made it illegal to speak against lying or adultery?

In our country, we have seen an increasing number of lawsuits against those who seek to abstain from doing things that violate their religious conscience. Of course, the news media and society in general are constantly bombarding us with the idea that if you speak against homosexuality, abortion and the like you’re a bigot who is prejudiced and backward. The idea that anyone would have an objection to such lifestyle or actions on the basis of the Biblical text is looked upon as troglodyte and old fashioned at best and outright discriminatory at worst.

As the body of Christ, it behooves us to draw a line in the sand. But it is not a line in the way that you may think. We are not guarding the castle while the powers of evil are at the door trying to knock it down. Rather, our line is one that says that we will not compromise and we will not bow at the altar of humanism wrongly so called in order to be accepted and escape suffering. We cannot offer the pinch of incense and declare that Caesar is Lord. To be sure, this may call on us to be outcasts and to lose more than a little of our sustenance. But either we stand for the truth of Christ or we don’t. We don’t have a middle ground. In Matthew 12:30, the Lord Jesus made that clear when he said that “he that is not with me is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters abroad.” Difficult times may come, but God’s people always overcome. And what is to be our attitude toward those who are in the throes of such behavior? The same as it is with anyone who is a captive to sin: compassion, love and seeking to snatch them away from the fire (Jude 23).