There are many who try to minimize or eliminate the testimony of Scripture concerning homosexuality. Attempts have been made to “unhitch” the Old Testament from the scriptures, to abrogate the laws given by Moses, or to re-interpret passages to better accommodate “modern” views on homosexuality. In this article I will attempt to dissect these arguments and show how each fails to represent the truths of Scripture.
Does the Old Testament Matter Today?
Some people have proposed that the Old Testament should not play a major role in the lives of believers today. We live in an age where newer and better technology constantly emerges and renders older models obsolete. Things that were once new and useful are now relegated to the trash bin. Some people have adopted this view of the Scriptures as well. After all we have the New Testament, why hold on to the old one? This problem is often compounded by the lack of any Old Testament teaching in many churches. Those who hold this view often draw a sharp distinction between Israel of the Old Testament and the Church today. They will often express that, “Israel was under law, we are under grace.”, asserting that the Law was done away with. Why is this view problematic?
God is perfect in all His ways and He is unchanging. This means that at no point in time has God ever made a mistake. This also means that at no point has God’s view of what is right and what is wrong changed. The Law given by Moses reflects the character of God. The commandments that make up the tables of the Law are indicative of His holy standard. To assert that God once viewed something as morally wrong but has now changed His mind is absurd. Anyone who is willing to ascribe such an arbitrary will to God should have no confidence in their own salvation—maybe He will change His mind about that tomorrow.
It is true that Christ came to fulfill the Law, but we must also remember that what was reflective of God’s character 2000 years ago still stands today. Jesus did not come to abolish the law, instead He came to fulfill it. He lived a perfect sinless life and voluntarily went to a death upon the cross, where on Him the wrath of God was poured out for the sins of those who will believe in Christ. He is the Messiah. He is the Godman. He did not lower the standards of God; He provided the only means by which sinful man could be cleansed and come into the presence of a thrice holy God.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:17-19(ESV)
Does God Condemn Homosexuality?
Many liberal groups in the Church visible have attempted to provide interpretations of certain passages that justify their acceptance of homosexuality inside of Christianity. Throughout the following sections I will visit several passages that are often “re-interpreted” and discuss the interpretive failures of these liberal groups.
22You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
13If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.
There are many critics who attempt to relegate passages such as this to only being applicable to Israelites who were under law. The greater context of Leviticus 18 gives us a wonder example of both their folly, and the unchanging nature of God.
“26But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you 27(for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), 28lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.” – Leviticus 18:26-29 (ESV)
Leviticus 18 shows us that God considered the actions of nations who had previously inhabited those lands to be abominable. God had not sent prophets to them. These nations had not been placed under Mosaic Law, but God still took action against their sinfulness and they were cast from the land. We read in the Genesis account of Noah that God recognized the sinfulness of man and executed judgment in the form of a world-wide flood long before Mosaic Law was instituted.
Romans 1 provides the greatest clarity on the scriptural stance on homosexuality.
26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and 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.
28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.
Paul does not leave room for interpretation here. Most honest scholars are forced to admit that Paul is clearly speaking of homosexuality, both in men and women. We see another New Testament reference to homosexuality in 1 Corinthians chapter 6.
9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
-1 Corinthians 6:9-11(ESV)
Considering that Paul is also the author of both letters to the church at Corinth, we are presented with a clearer example of the apostolic teaching concerning the incompatibility of sexual perversion and the body of Christ. The Apostle excludes those who actively participate in this list of vices from inheriting the kingdom of God. In the 11th verse he declares that some of those in the Corinthian church had once been involved in these debaucheries, but were washed clean, sanctified, and justified through faith in Christ. This means that while homosexuality is incompatible with being a Christian, it is also able to be overcome. This also means that it should be overcome if anyone desires to call themselves a Christian.