May 26, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XX: Jesus Loves Gays and Expects Repentance

The Gospel

If this series of posts ends in what seems like one large evangelization of the Gospel, perhaps that is what it is? It was my original intent to show a biblical view of homosexuality in this series. I believe I have done that earlier in the body of this work. The clear biblical view of homosexuality based on this series is that homosexuality is a sin. Sin is something that needs to be forgiven and that is only possible through repentance and acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Erickson 250, Grudem 695). A choice to repent is a choice to not sin.

The wrath that a sin incurs from God is the exact thing that Jesus Christ came to earth incarnate to placate or atone for (Enns 233-234, Erickson 253-254, Grudem 574-575). In the end, the proper way to view homosexuality is to view it as a sin that needs to be stopped and repented of on an individual basis (not culturally or in plurality), just as other sins. I am not downplaying its sinful nature but nor am I going to build it up and say it is any worse than adultery or other sexual sins. The bottom-line is that the only way to repent of sin and gain salvation is through an individual choice to trust and believe in Jesus Christ and His message. That message is best summed up by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ~ "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures..."

Humans will never stop sinning and the Bible shows us this clearly but sin should not have dominion over a believer's life either (Grudem 748). We can make inroads with the help of the Holy Spirit to become more holy but while we are in this flesh (sanctification), we will never fully win the battle against sin (Romans 7). It is one of the reasons men are appointed to die once and face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). It is the only way a person stops sinning.

In this series we see with the utmost clarity the truth of the need for the Gospel and the utilitarian nature of the Gospel not only for homosexuals but all sinners regardless of race, gender or sexual inclination. The Gospel is the only answer for our sins and the passage to eternal life. It covers the entire gamut of sins in the Creation including fornication, idolatry, adultery, thievery, covetousness, drunkenness, and of course homosexuality. It covers the sins of all of those that repent and turn the Christ and His Gospel. What we end up seeing is that the root of all depravity and sin including homosexuality starts when we turn our back on God and ignore or avoid God (Romans 1:25) and the Gospel. Our life and salvation comes by turning towards God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in obedience.

We Are To Be Representative of Christ

Even though this series of posts has effectively argued for the unbiblical nature of homosexuality this does not give license to Christians to maliciously malign homosexuals and live up to the stereotype of overzealous hate-driven fanatics. We can easily use Leviticus 18 & 20’s references to abomination, and wickedness to drive home the fact that God views homosexuality negatively but there are gentler ways to reach the lost. Aggressive rhetorical bludgeoning through the use of terms like abomination and perversion have been used before to try and reach homosexuals and it wins few converts to Christianity. It most often sends them sprinting or screaming in the other direction. Although the words in Leviticus are absolutely true as is all of the Bible (Inerrancy of Scripture), and the passages in Leviticus also immediately erect a brick wall and cease dialogue between the two sides of this volatile issue. Although I addressed Leviticus’ passages in this series, they were not the main focus, nor did they need to be.

It’s no different than if I were a doctor and I walked into my office and told someone, "You have cancer, you're chances of survival are zero." Is it telling the truth? Yes. Is it a proper way to do it? No! Where is the compassion for people? Where is the mind of Christ? Sin is just as deadly as any cancer.  Overcoming sin can be daunting for people, especially if they have a lot of it in their life and have become conditioned to accepting it by an immoral and promiscuous culture/society. Even if a person converts, conversion does not guarantee instant sanctification as the sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 clearly illustrates. People are often broken in stages one sin at a time, anger, vanity, arrogance, adultery, homosexuality, etc. In the case of some of these sins, it is an ongoing battle. Rhetorical bludgeoning is counter-productive and ineffective. Judgment and wrath are to be left to God as it is in His perfect judgment in His perfect righteousness if it would be necessary. If Christians cannot explain to sinners the sin that they are committing and why they will be condemned because of them, what good is being aggressive and divisive to begin with?

We must never forget that the focus of Scripture is on the following facts: (1) Sin is an offense to Almighty God. (2) Those that are in this sin are enslaved to it (Romans 1), which is consistent with what we see elsewhere in Scripture about sin in general. (3) Those that are trapped in sin can be set free (1 Cor. 6:9-11). We're in the church are often very good at emphasizing that sin is indeed an offense to God, and arguing over "choice" and the origin of the sin. Unfortunately, we too often forget that people are enslaved to their sin, and the enslaving power of sin. The result is that too often in the church, we give the impression that people need to free themselves rather than turning to Christ to set them free. We give that impression that their sin is worse than ours when all sin is an affront to a holy God. We lose the compassion of God for lost sinners who are in the throes of a sin they simply can't defeat. In sight of this fact, we end up wasting time arguing over the offensiveness to God (which most people internally know, but suppress it). Thereby we give a twisted witness by our aggressive unpleasant behaviors rather than preach the Gospel like we should.

It is clear that most of the church may have missed the boat on this, both liberal and conservative denominations. We have been tolerant of sexually suggestive wardrobes, immoral media and adulterous heterosexual relationships when they are all sins equally denounced by God. We tend to often turn a blind eye to immoral heterosexual interactions and are dragging out the rhetoric and verbosity when we see an infraction by homosexuals. Many churches then set themselves in a real unhealthy position of hypocrisy and project a double-standard to the world when they are found guilty of other sins common to other people while simultaneously hammering on homosexual’s sin. We must denounce all sin equally, not just certain sins unequally because we find certain sins more repulsive.

Practicing Homosexuality is Still a Sin

The bottom-line still remains. Forgiveness does not allow homosexuals (and other sinners) license to pursue their sin recklessly in complete disregard of Scripture (Romans 6:1-2). They will eventually receive in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Romans 1:27). Sometimes the retribution for an unrepentant and wicked life comes in this life, sometimes not. What the Bible is clear on is that it will certainly come at our judgment if we do not repent. In the end, we will all be judged for our sins whether we are straight, gay or whatever. It behooves us to stop our sins now, not justify them and accept them. We are to live our lives in an expectation that Christ could return today. The more we sin without seeking repentance the more we will incur God’s wrath on the Day of Judgment. We are to assume judgment can come at any time and we are to be prepared for it by living biblical lives in accordance with Scripture.

2 Peter 3:10-11  ~ But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…?

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 ~ …and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…

Romans 14:10-12 ~ But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

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