Gay and Lesbian?

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

Gay and Lesbian?

“Gay” or “Lesbian”—What does God say?

Richard Hollerman

“Gay”—is this relationship and practice found in the Bible? “Lesbian”—what about this relationship and practice? What does God say about both of these contemporary relationships and practices?

Male homosexuals often call themselves “gays” and female homosexuals may call themselves “lesbians.” It has been estimated that as many as 10% of people are attracted to those of their own gender, although the number may be as low as 1% of people regarding practicing homosexuals (World Book Encyclopedia, “Homosexuality”). Even if this were true, this would be over two million Americans. If 3% is closer to reality, this would be perhaps six million homosexuals among the population!

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

Ancient Greece permitted homosexual relationships between an older man and a young man. They thought that this would offer friendship and love to each other, something that a male-female relationship would not give (according to their thinking). When we think of these early philosophers, let’s remember that at least some of them were involved in same-sex relationships. Many of the Roman emperors were homosexuals, a fact that many overlook.

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

Homosexuality in modern times has arisen in European countries such as France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. At one time, every state in the United States had laws that forbade homosexual behavior, but this began to crumble beginning in 1961 in Illinois. After the renowned Stonewall resistance of New York City in 1969, the homosexual movement increased rapidly. In the 1980s this was dampened since the government discovered that the AIDS epidemic was especially rampant among homosexual men who were involved in massive promiscuity in places like San Francisco, California.

By 1986, only 26 states had laws against homosexuality (about half of the states). The Supreme Court ruled in that year that states could legally enact laws that would forbid this sexual aberration. However, by 2003, the Supreme Court declared that laws against homosexuality were unconstitutional. In the year 2000, Vermont gave same-sex couples the same legal rights as “straight” people. Since that time, the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex “marriage” (as they like to call it) is now legal in America. (This information is taken from “Homosexuality” in The World Book Encyclopedia.)

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

Technically, marriage is “the social institution under which a man and woman live as husband and wife by legal or religious commitments” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, 1998). It is interesting to note the definition of marriage in the Webster’s Dictionary (1828):

MAR’RIAGEnoun [Latin mas, maris.] The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. Marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children. (webstersdictionary 1828.com/Dictionary /marriage).

This definition is more in keeping with God’s own definition, for the latest editions of a dictionary defines words according to the way they are used in contemporary life rather than according to God’s will.

Background of the Homosexual Movement.

Many contemporary men and women, especially those in their teens and twenties, really don’t have a comprehensive view of homosexuality, thus it is important that we briefly discuss it.

In the early years of the United States, homosexuality in its various forms was universally condemned. The Founding Fathers of the country openly spoke and wrote against this sin. The Webster’s Dictionary (1828) called it “a sin against nature” since people recognized that this relationship and practice violated the very order of nature itself, besides being condemned in the Bible. (webstersdictionary 1828.com/ Dictionary/ sodomy)  Throughout the United States, punishments were enacted by the various states in dealing with this “sin against nature” for it was recognized that if this sin were practiced in a widespread way, there would be a ruinous effect on society as a whole (as we find today).

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

Even today, sodomy is either frowned upon or outright forbidden. For example, in most of the dozens of African countries, sodomy is against the law. Many-year prison sentences are even found in some of the countries. Further, sodomy is against the law in most of the Middle-Eastern countries as well as other nations toward the East. This is particularly true in Islamic countries. In some South American countries large numbers of people oppose same-sex relationships. And, of course, in America, perhaps half of the population oppose sodomy in its various forms.

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

At one time, this sin was called “sodomy,” but today the term is sometimes used with reference to male homosexual activity. However, the term may properly be applied to both male and female homosexual relationships. Another term used in Britain (as well as the United States) is “buggery” (Random House Webster’s College Dictionary). Thus, a “bugger” is a sodomite or “disreputable person” (American Heritage College Dictionary). “Fag” has been used of a homosexual man (Ibid.).

For some decades now, “gay” and “lesbian” have become acceptable terms for the male and female homosexual. However, “the word is also used to refer to both sexes” (Ibid.). The term “gay” means, “showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry” (The American Heritage College Dictionary), however since male (and female) sodomites have increasingly used the term (along with journalists), we’ve noticed that there is a reluctance to use “gay” in its proper meaning of “happy” and “excited.”

Another term referring to homosexuals would be “queer.” The term itself means “deviating from the expected or normal; strange. . . . Odd or unconventional, as in behavior; eccentric” (The American Heritage College Dictionary). In the 1800s, the term was applied to sodomites for they were “strange” or “unconventional” in sexual preference and activity.

Originally meaning “strange” or “peculiar”, queer came to be deployed pejoratively against those with same-sex desires or relationships in the late-19th century. Beginning in the late-1980s, queer scholars and activists began to reclaim the word to establish community and assert a politicized identity distinct from the gay political identity. Queer identities may be adopted by those who reject traditional gender identities and seek a broader, less conformist, and deliberately ambiguous alternative to the label LGBT. (en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Queer).

Many sodomites now use the term in “defiant pride.” “In the 1980s the term began to be used by gay and lesbian activists as a term of self-identification. Eventually, it came to be used as an umbrella term that included gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people” (The American Heritage College Dictionary).

homosexual

Gay and Lesbian

Some may prefer to use “gay” and “lesbian,” while others may prefer the more neutral term, “homosexual.” Still others may opt for terms like “queer,” “buggery,” “fag,” or other terms that could be negative or prideful—depending on one’s perspective. We personally prefer the terms arising from the Bible but also found in American history–“sodomy” and “sodomite.”

Does God Speak about Homosexuality?

If someone is responsible for an invention, it is right that we take what he may label the device. Thus, if someone invents a computer, it is logical that we call it a “computer” since it computes and the inventor probably had this in mind. When we think about sexuality, it is only right that we go to the God who created and planned for sex. Of course, we refer to God our Creator.

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Gay and Lesbian

When we read God’s own description of creation, we find this: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it’” (Genesis 1:27-28a). Thus we discover that God created the two genders—male and female. He did not create a third gender that might be considered neutral or perhaps might be either male or female, depending on the will of the creature. No, God created two and only two genders. Further, this was meant to begin a propagation process by which the first male (Adam) and the first female (Eve) would fill the earth and take dominion over it by being “fruitful.”

In a further description of God’s creative act, we find this: “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18). As we continue reading, the text says, “A man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). Thus, it was God’s will that a man and woman begin a union (sexual and emotional) that would be the nucleus of a new family. In this way, the entire world would be populated.

As in everything else, selfish and rebellious man chose to disregard the plain truth of his creation and began to satisfy his own lusts in the sexual realm.  As we trace the history of mankind through the centuries, we see how the original Edenic plan was thwarted and, because of this, God chose to destroy most of mankind and begin again at the time of Noah and the great worldwide flood (Genesis 6-9). After this, God chose Abraham to begin the line of people who would bring God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, into the world (Genesis 12:1-3). In this context, we read of a further rebellion—a sexual rebellion—that engulfed a whole culture. We refer to Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities near them.

How is Sodomy Described in the Scripture?

Strangely, in our day some are willing to pervert Scripture and suggest that God has nothing to say about His view on sexuality, including the sin of homosexuality. This is patently false, but it would be wise for us to examine briefly many of the passages in the Bible that make reference to this sexual orientation and activity.

In Genesis 18:20, the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.” Here is the first reference to sodomy or homosexuality in the Bible, even though these terms are not explicitly stated. But here we do find that the guilt of these cities is “great” and their sin (especially of homosexuality) is “exceedingly grave.” We must never come to the mistaken conclusion that sodomy is merely an “alternative lifestyle” or “acceptable sexual activity.” God our Creator has the inherent right to give a perfect description of people’s sexual activity. Here we find that He says that homosexuality is a sin that is great and especially grave!

As we continue reading, we discover that the sodomites (homosexuals) in Sodom were “wicked” (Genesis 18:23, 25). We don’t often read or hear this today—that homosexuality is “wickedness.” But bear in mind that we are not here discussing what certain liberal educators, government officials or entertainers think, but we are discovering what God thinks about this particularly evil sin. God here sends two angels to warn Lot and his family of the imminent doom of the cities because of their unrepentant homosexuality. Even Lot admits that the people of Sodom want to “act wickedly” by having sexual relations with the same sex or same gender (v. 7).

The angels explained why they had arrived in Sodom. “We are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it” (Genesis 19:13). After Lot and his daughters were safely out of the city, “then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven” (v. 24). We simply wanted to cover this initial expression of God’s wrath against homosexuality to fix in our mind His unerring view of this sin.  The sin was so heinous, so distasteful and wicked, and so continuous that the Lord chose to destroy the entire city and area around the city. Would God have a more favorable view of this sin in our day? Not at all.

Let’s now turn to the Law of God given by Him to Moses and the people of Israel. We don’t suggest that the Mosaic Law is operative today, but it definitely was His will for the nation of Israel from about 1400 until Christ died on the cross in AD 30. Among many other commands, God said this: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). The term “homosexuality” is not used but there is no doubt that this is exactly what the Lord is stating. Here we see that God calls homosexuality (a male lying with another male) as an “abomination” (NASB and ESV). The NIV renders this, “It is detestable,” and the NET Bible has “it is a detestable act.” We see here what God thinks of this sin.

As we continue reading, we find this: “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). The ESV has, “. . . both of them have committed an abomination” (also the NET Bible). The NIV has, “Both of them have done what is detestable.” Again we see plainly that sodomy is an “abomination” and is “detestable,” a sin worthy of death. (Again, we emphasize that we are not living under the Law of Moses today. The capital punishment required then is not something that Christians are to press today. But even though the punishment required of homosexuals then is dropped, we at least see how wicked this sin is in the sight of God.)

Let’s now turn to the book of Romans in the new covenant writings (the New Testament) where Paul the apostle describes the sinfulness and degeneracy of the Gentile world. He is quite plain and even graphic as he describes homosexuality:

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Romans 1:26-27).

Let’s notice a couple of the terms that God uses. Paul begins with women, then proceeds to the men. Lenski points out that “the females viciously violated even nature in their bodies. It was bad enough to sin with males, vastly worse and the very limit of vice to sin as they did” (Interpretation of Romans, p. 114). In other words, lesbianism (and male homosexuality) was considered a wicked and scandalous sin.

He calls homosexuality a sin that involves “degrading passions.” This may also be rendered as “shameful lusts” (NIV) or “dishonorable passions” (ESV, NET Bible). We can see that God doesn’t hold to the modern view of millions that homosexuality is a completely acceptable sexual choice. No, He says that it is degrading, shameful, and dishonorable! The term here is atimia, denoting “dishonor, ignominy, disgrace,” and the vile passions are literally “passions of dishonor” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary).

Further, Romans 1:26 says that homosexuality is “unnatural” (NASB, NIV, NET Bible). It is “contrary to nature” (ESV). We must never acquiesce to the idea that homosexuality is “natural” for some people and entirely acceptable. No, God says that it is unnatural and perversion of what is natural for the human being and his body. Simply an unbiased consideration of how God created the human body of the man and woman should be enough to convince the objective observer that sodomy is entirely unnatural and a perversion.

Lenski says, “When women and men are called females and males in a connection of the lowest vices such as this, the terms are degrading. They descend to the brutish level of being nothing but creatures of sex” (Interpretation of Romans, p. 113). Although some seek to make this sexual perversion to be natural, it is unnatural, according to God’s standard. “Let go of God, and the very bottom of filth will be reached. Even the most unnatural will be called quite natural. The lie about God who made nature then lies about even this nature” (Lenski, p. 114).

As we continue in Romans, we see that homosexuality involves “indecent acts” (NASB, NIV) or “shameless acts” (ESV, NET Bible) (Romans 1:27). When sharing with those trapped in homosexuality, it is important that we don’t fall for the modern estimation of some psychologists that this sin is entirely innocent and “natural” for some people. On the contrary, it is indecent and shameful! Paul says that these unnatural acts mark “the depth of immorality to which godlessness descends, because sexual degradation always constitutes such a mark. The moment God is taken out of the control in men’s life the stench of sex aberration is bound to arise. It is so the world over to this day. Without God sex runs wild” (Lenski, p. 115). When people reject God, He gives them over to “a depraved mind to do those things which are not proper” (Romans 1:28).

As we pass on to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul is plain about sexual sins, including homosexuality: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.” Fornication or porneia is a Greek term that covers all sorts of sexual immorality, whether unmarried or married immorality, but here it is distinguished from adultery and homosexuality. In this verse, Paul shows that the “effeminate” and the “homosexual” will not inherit God’s Kingdom. It may be that these two terms refer to the passive partner in a homosexual relationship as well as the active partner (NASB Study Bible, note).

In a detailed discussion of these two terms, the NET Bible notes indicate that Paul refers to the passive and the active roles in a male homosexual relationship. Both roles are condemned and will keep one from entering the Kingdom of God.

We might also notice that these sins are what the “unrighteous” do.  The term is adikos, unrighteous. Instead of suggesting that such sins are entirely tolerable, we should acknowledge that they are unrighteous or lacking in righteousness. And we must remember that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18). In other words, those who commit unrighteous acts and are involved in unrighteous relationships (such as homosexuality) will live now under God’s righteous wrath or anger and will face unending punishment.

Another place where God condemns homosexuality would be 1 Timothy 1:9-11. Here Paul says that homosexuals are “lawless and rebellious, “ungodly and sinners,” “unholy and profane.” Homosexuality and other listed sins are “contrary to sound teaching of Scripture.” We can see that this sin is roundly condemned again.

An interesting reference to homosexuality is found at 2 Peter.  Here the apostle says:

[God] condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter. . . . [He then says that God] rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2:6-9).

A number of observations may be made about this incident. Peter says that Sodom and Gomorrah are an example to those who would live “ungodly lives.” These sodomite inhabitants were “ungodly” when they participated in this sexual perversion. Further, homosexuality involves “sensual conduct of unprincipled men.” This sin is an example of sensuality, not spirituality. Those who participate are “unprincipled men”—not men with godly principles that guide their lives.  The sodomites were involved in “lawless deeds”—deeds that were against the Law of God. These “unrighteous” Sodomites are now kept “under punishment for the day of judgment.” All of this adds up to an extensive rebuke of this sin that is becoming increasingly acceptable in Western society.

We might also connect 2 Peter 2:6-9 with verse 10a: “. . . and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.” The apostle seems to be identifying the “unrighteous” homosexuals of verse 9 with the fact that they “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires.” This indeed is an apt description of those who would dare to engage in this perverse behavior.

A further reference to the sin of sodomy (whether male or female homosexuality) is found at Jude 7:

Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Here we see that this homosexual perversion is called “gross immorality” and these people went after “strange flesh.” “Both angels and Sodom and Gomorrah indulged in heinous sexual immorality,” and “mere sexual immorality is enough to condemn them” (NET Bible note). These people were not merely immoral but they were immoral of a homosexual kind. Therefore, they are exhibited as an example “in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” This is not to deny the fact that homosexuals and all other immoral people can repent and change (2 Peter 3:9), but those who refuse to turn around and leave their gross immorality will indeed suffer the punishment of “eternal fire”—or hell. We also notice that in verse 8 there seems to be a further description of the homosexuals of verse 7. There we read, “Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.” Although this is somewhat vague, it may be a further reference to homosexuals as those who “defile the flesh” and “reject authority.”

Gay or Lesbian? (The Results)

We began our discussion by discussing terms used by both sodomites and non-sodomites in referring to the sin of homosexuality. It is interesting that sodomites refer to non-sodomites as “straight,” which would logically mean that sodomites are “crooked”! We see no way to avoid this conclusion. In this connection, Paul urges the Philippian saints “to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). We are to be “blameless and innocent” but we live in a “crooked and perverse generation.” Part of the “crookedness” and “perverseness” has to do with the immorality of this present evil age (Galatians 1:4), and this would include homosexuality. If moral people are “straight,” then homosexuals are “crooked” or perverse.

As we have gone through a series of Biblical verses dealing with homosexuality in its various forms and expressions, we have seen present consequences—such as the overthrow and destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18-19). However, we have also seen the present and eternal spiritual consequences of living in unrepentant homosexuality. Let’s survey again what Scripture says.

  1. Sodomites receive “the due penalty of their error” right now (Romans 1:27), but they are also “worthy of death”—eternal death or hell (v. 32).
  1. Sodomites (of all kinds, whether active or passive) “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; cf. Galatians 5:19-21).
  1. The unrighteous (homosexuals), after they die, are kept “under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9).
  1. Unrepentant homosexuals will undergo “the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7).

It is important for us to stress that not only homosexuals but all of those who die in their sins (John 8:21, 24), with unrepented sin, will face the same eternal fate of God’s judgment (cf. Romans 6:23).

Additional References

It is also important for us to remember that the word for “fornication” in the Greek (porneia) is a broad term with wide meaning. It means “illicit sexual intercourse” (W.E.Vine, Expository Dictionary). It “relates to any kind of illegitimate sexual intercourse—that is, sexual immorality or fornication” (William D. Mounce, Complete Expository Dictionary, p. 268). The term refers to “prostitution, unchastity, fornication, of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse” (Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T., p. 693). Joseph Thayer says that it refers to fornication, prostitution, and “illicit sexual intercourse in general” (Greek-English Lexicon of the N.T.).

The person wanting to do a comprehensive study of homosexuality will need to read and consider the many places where porneia is used in the New Testament. We learn that fornication (hence, homosexuality) comes “from within, out of the heart of men” (Mark 7:20). Fornication (including homosexuality) will keep one from entering the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). Fornication (including homosexuality) must be so foreign to the believing community of Christians that it “must not even be named among you” (Ephesians 5:3). The fornicator (homosexual) has no “inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” but “the wrath of God” will come on him (vv. 5-6). The “wrath of God” will come on the fornicator (including homosexual) (Colossians 3:5-6).

God’s will is that we “abstain from sexual immorality”—which includes homosexuality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Instead, we are to “know how to possess [our] own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (vv. 4-5). If anyone rejects what God has said about the seriousness of this sin, he is rejecting God “who gives His Holy Spirit to you” (v. 8).

The Hebrew writer urges us to holiness with these words: “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (13:4). Again we see that God will “judge” or condemn all unrepentant fornicators, including homosexual fornicators. Finally, Scripture teaches that fornicators (including homosexual fornicators) will be sent to “the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). This shows how utterly serious it is to live and die with this sin on our record!

Reader, if you happen to be a practicing sodomite (whether you call yourself a “gay” or a “lesbian,” or if you happen to call yourself “bisexual” or “transsexual”), now is the time to repent and get right with God! You must repent (have a change of heart and mind) regarding your sin and the Savior. “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Peter declared, “Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (3:19a). Be willing to repent of your homosexuality and turn to God through Christ Jesus that your sins may be forgiven and wiped away!

Contact us for further information on how you may be totally forgiven and you will be given a new life! “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). God is willing and able to cleanse you of all mental, emotional, and bodily sins relating to homosexuality and give you a brand new start, through the redemptive death of Jesus Christ (John 3:14-18; Romans 5:6-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

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