Homosexuality “Loving the Homosexual to Healing with Truth” | Part One

May 6, 2015

Ronnie Rogers | Pastor
Trinity Baptist Church, Norman, OK

This article briefly considers homosexuality, both biblically and scientifically. For a more thorough treatment of the subject, you can download my series under the same title at www.trinitynorman.org/resources/.

The Scripture clearly teaches that while all sin is sin, some sins are more sinful than others. Matthew 12:30-32 speaks of the unpardonable sin, in contrast to every other sin which can be forgiven by faith in Christ; Matthew 23:23 speaks of the “weightier provisions of the law;” John 19:11 says that in comparison to Pontius Pilate, Judas has the “greater sin;” James 1:14-15 distinguishes between temptation, lust, conceiving, and sin. Sin can refer to full mental indulgence or the physical carrying out of that which is conceived. While the mental envisioning of say, adultery, is sin, the carrying out of the physical act compounds and worsens such sin. To wit, the thought of murdering someone is sin, but the greater sin is to act on such thought and commit the physical act of murder.

Correspondingly, the Bible speaks of degrees of judgment (Matthew 11:20-24; Mark 12:38-40; Hebrews 10:26-29; Luke 12:47-48). The reasons that some sins deserve greater judgement seems to be based upon the following; first, explicit statements that some sins are by nature greater than others (John 19:11); second, the amount of light or knowledge rejected (Matthew 11:20-24; Mark 12:38-40); third, the degree to which the sin is carried out. This can encompass either the degree to which one follows through in the sin (contemplation to actual execution) or the repetitiveness of the sin. Accordingly, to lie is sin, but to do so egregiously or repetitively is more sinful. We recognize such distinctions in distinguishing between a murder (a serious crime) and serial murder (a more serious crime) without lessening the heinousness of the former; lastly, I would suggest that the sinfulness of sin is determined by examining how far removed it is from God’s standard or design, which deviation is the nature of sin. With these thoughts in mind, we can consider homosexuality.

Biblically: In considering creation, we find that homosexuality is illegitimate on three accounts. First, marriage is definitionally heterosexual (Genesis 2:18, 21-23). Thus, a Biblicist cannot properly speak of homosexual marriage because such a thing does not exist within God’s creative plan. Second, a homosexual union cannot fulfill the first command given to Adam and Eve, “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Third, the origin of heterosexual relations is the creation of mankind, whereas the dawn of homosexual relations is the fall of mankind. Consequently, God’s creative act demonstrably precludes the divinely sanctioned normalcy of homosexuality.

One finds the same when a comprehensive scriptural portrait regarding homosexuality is considered. There is not a single positive biblical statement (sanction) regarding homosexuality in the entirety of Scripture. This includes relationships, feelings, inclinations, thoughts, and actions. In fact, every mention or portrayal of homosexuality is negative—not just neutral. This is in contrast to heterosexual relationships in marriage, which are consistently encouraged and extolled.

Although science does not support the idea that homosexuals are born that way (predetermined, see science section below), if we understand the fall of man as leaving man totally depraved (every aspect of man affected by the fall), it should not surprise us if different enzymes, genes, etc., are found in homosexuals. Actually, we might even anticipate such in much the same way that we should anticipate other biological abnormalities such as genetic predispositions to cancer, etc. The fall affects our spirituality, biology, psychology, sociology, etc. It pervades every aspect of our humanity.

Thus, having different genes or enzymes may well be expected. Moreover, the presence of certain genes or other empirically detected differences does not tell us anything about the rightness of homosexuality, any more than a genetic difference in cancer patients tells us whether cancer is good or bad. Such evaluations are determined by one’s view of human life. When people contend that genes determine behavior (without choice or the profound influence of nurture upon such choices and acting upon such), they are arguing, either wittingly or unwittingly, philosophical determinism or compatibilism. This means that everything—choice, propensity, etc.,—is the result of determinative antecedents. The Bible in no unmistakable terms rejects every form of determinism, and even those who believe in some form of determinism live their everyday lives as if they are not determined.

I do believe homosexual interests, feelings, and desires include choice, but I do not believe the choice is comparable to whether one is deciding to eat a piece of cake or not. That is, it is not merely a choice. Both man’s fallenness and his environment can contribute to creating or exacerbating man’s various sinful desires, proclivities, interests, and the varied intensity of certain sinful passions in different individuals.

This is not to excuse the sin nor giving into the draw of sin, but rather to highlight the reality that some sinful desires are stronger, longer lasting, and more relentless in one person than another, and that some of these effects of the fall can be very difficult to control. The sex drive is a case in point. All desires, inclinations, and actions that are contrary to holiness as taught in the Scripture are sin and to be resisted. Some effects of the fall vary in intensity and, therefore, some effects of the fall require both choice and commitment to resist, and this comes only by the grace of God. This understanding can help us to be more compassionate with others who struggle long-term in areas different from our own, and this is compassion without compromising righteousness.

As described above, while it is true that all sin is sin, and any one sin separates a person from God, it is not true that all sin is equally sinful. In the case of homosexuality, it is clearly a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but it does seem to be a worse sin than heterosexual sex outside of marriage. Sin is simply violating God’s standard of holiness, design, or we might say true rightness. Both heterosexual adultery or fornication and homosexual relations violate God’s created context for sex, which is marriage. However, homosexuality also violates God’s created partner for sex.

Consequently, it is further removed from God’s design for intimacy within marriage since homosexual marriage is a biblically non-existent concept and homosexual relations adds to the sin of intimacy outside of a righteous context the sin of also having the wrong partner, same sex rather than opposite sex. Additionally, according to the creation account (Genesis 1 and 2), heterosexual desires arise from God’s created design, whereas homosexual desires arise after and from the fall of man. Therefore, while adultery, fornication, and homosexuality are all sin, homosexuality is the furthest removed from God’s design and also arose from sin rather than creation; therefore, it is a greater corruption and sin.

It is important to remember that homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. One can be forgiven of homosexuality just as one can be forgiven for heterosexual sin (adultery, fornication, etc.). Correspondingly, just as heterosexual sin is to be resisted and never accepted, normalized, as something approved of by God, the same is true of homosexuality.

Part Two Coming Soon!

 

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Andy

1. ON OUR RESPONSE TO OTHERS:
“…some sinful desires are stronger, longer lasting, and more relentless in one person than another, and that some of these effects of the fall can be very difficult to control…..This understanding can help us to be more compassionate with others who struggle long-term in areas different from our own, and this is compassion without compromising righteousness.”

–I think this is something we constantly need reminding of, and should be always on our minds when dealing with these issues.

2. ON HOMOSEXUAL SINS BEING WORSE:
“It is not true that all sin is equally sinful.”

–Absolutely correct, however, we must let scripture tell us which ones these are.

“I would suggest that the sinfulness of sin is determined by examining how far removed it is from God’s standard or design, which deviation is the nature of sin.”
“In the case of homosexuality, it is clearly a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), but it does seem to be a worse sin than heterosexual sex outside of marriage.”

–I would simply like to see more biblical evidence for this conclusion. 1 Cor. 6 certainly doesn’t support it. In fact your ONLY biblical argument FOR this position comes in your second-to-last paragraph…quoted below:

“Additionally, according to the creation account (Genesis 1 and 2), heterosexual desires arise from God’s created design, whereas homosexual desires arise after and from the fall of man.”

—This is certainly true, but in saying this are you not making a distinction stronger than the one scripture makes? What I mean is, In God’s eyes, the PRIMARY distinction between sexual acts is HOLY: within marraige, and UNHOLY: outside of marraige. That second category contains adultery, fornication, incest, beastiality, and homosexuality.

–Also, cannot the same thing be said of the desire for another man’s wife? Perhaps in a sinless, pre-fall world, no man would ever have sexual desire for another man’s wife? In that case that desire too came after the fall.

–I simply don’t see a scriptural case for making homosexuality a worse sin than others…NOR do I see a need to do so, or any benifit for doing so. In fact I see the opposite. Doing so leads us to treat a godly man who has confessed homosexual attraction to his pastor, with the intent of fighting it to honor God and his family…AS SOMEHOW WORSE THAN…another man in the church who occasionally watches pornography and has no intention of stopping. We call one “normal” and treat the other as anathema, when in reality one of those men is being much more godly than the other. If what you say about living in understanding with those who have different struggles is true, then I don’t see how this other idea fits. Perhaps you have more biblical evidence in part 2.

Thanks for considering,
-Andy

    Ronnie W Rogers

    Hello Andy
    I said, (as my fourth way of….) “I would suggest that the sinfulness of sin is determined by examining how far removed it is from God’s standard or design, which deviation is the nature of sin.”

    To which you responded, “it [homosexuality] does seem to be a worse sin than heterosexual sex outside of marriage.”
    Notice that I said, “suggest,” which I use to distinguish between the other three explicit reasons for recognizing levels of sin and my fourth one; consequently no dogmatic assertions here, but rather just trying to consider this in light of some clear biblical distinctions.

    You said, “In fact your ONLY biblical argument FOR this position comes in your second-to-last paragraph…quoted below:
    ‘Additionally, according to the creation account (Genesis 1 and 2), heterosexual desires arise from God’s created design, whereas homosexual desires arise after and from the fall of man.”’

    This is not how I see it. While that is a biblical argument, it is not my main point of distinction; although, quite adequate. I said, “lastly, I would suggest that the sinfulness of sin is determined by examining how far removed it is from God’s standard or design, which deviation is the nature of sin.” Now if that is true, then my argument would stand as demonstrated in the article, but if the number of or levels of digressive steps from God’s holy design is not a component of the nature of sin, sinfulness, then it does not. I think it does. I gave examples, and many more could be given, but at least I do disagree regarding your statement “ONLY…”

    You said, “In God’s eyes, the PRIMARY distinction between sexual acts is HOLY: within marriage, and UNHOLY: outside of marriage. That second category contains adultery, fornication, incest, bestiality, and homosexuality.”

    Of course your statement reflects PRIMARY…., but remember that I did not challenge that assumption, but rather can degrees of sinfulness be deduced by noting how far an act is removed from God’s holy standard. If my understanding of sin is correct, then yes. In the case mentioned, I gave one digressive step for adultery and three for homosexuality. I accept that you apparently do not see this as I do.

    You said, “I simply don’t see a scriptural case for making homosexuality a worse sin than others…NOR do I see a need to do so, or any benefit for doing so. In fact I see the opposite….”
    First, I am not trying to “make….worse,” but rather I am just trying to consider whether the biblical reflection and representation of sin does make one worse based upon the criteria mentioned.

    I do agree with you that such recognition can be misused, but that does not seem like a good reason to ignore what I think is a more clear biblical understanding of homosexuality. Additionally, I would argue that my understanding actually aids in proportionate compassion as mentioned in the article. I have counseled many people in sexual sin (and others as well) and in order to help them compassionately and righteously, I have to seek to fully understand the sinfulness of their particular sin (e.g. not all adultery is equally sinful; although, all is sin). If one deems the sin of homosexuality and heterosexuality the same, the counseling will, in my estimation, miss the mark. The lack of distinctions is a major contributor to the lack of compassion and longsuffering in dealing with such without compromising.

    When a homosexual (or others) are graciously led to understand how sinful their sin is (how far from God’s standard) it helps them to understand better the seriousness of it and the dedication it will take to resist and serve God. For example, the heterosexual must stop fulfilling his sexual desires outside of marriage, which can be remedied by being married—the homosexual knows this and therefore sees his problem more difficult to overcome. The homosexual desires cannot be fulfilled in any sense but must be resisted for life or hopefully lessened and even changed. This seems to suggest a more sinful ensnarement—many other dimensions can either increase or decrease the level of sinfulness and bondage.
    You said, “Doing so leads us to treat a godly man who has confessed homosexual attraction to his pastor, with the intent of fighting it to honor God and his family…AS SOMEHOW WORSE THAN…another man in the church who occasionally watches pornography and has no intention of stopping. We call one “normal” and treat the other as anathema, when in reality one of those men is being much more godly than the other.”

    First, I do not practice this nor endorse such; consequently, your example is a little “strawy” and therefore not helpful. Second, anyone seeking to resist their sin is more godly than those who do not, but this in and of itself seems to me to have no bearing upon the sinfulness of the sin from which one is seeking victory (consider those more sinful acts that you accept the Bible teaches). Third, within your example of pornography, I believe, as others do, that there are four phases or levels of sinfulness—none of which are minimizing the others or treating them as “normal”. Level one, there is looking, lusting; level two, the looker develops a fetish; level three, the looker develops a depreciation of women (if the looker is a man); level four, physical contact. While each of these levels are sin, each phase brings one deeper into the sin (more sinful behavior than the former) and concomitantly makes resisting the sin exceedingly more difficult.

    Regarding your referring to 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 and one may include other list like Revelation 22: 8 etc., I think that each sin mentioned affords various depths of sinfulness. Paul uses porneia three times in chapter five, but the first usage he refers to an immorality “as does not even exist among the gentiles”, which he describes as “has his father’s wife”. This is clearly seen by Paul as more sinful than other kinds of immorality. To wit, within the sin of immorality, there are some immoral acts that are more sinful that others, and I would even say this is true within a category such as the ones you mentioned “adultery, fornication, incest, bestiality, and homosexuality.” I may be wrong, but I do, as I think Paul did, recognize that even within say incest, one can plum to unfathomable depths of sinfulness without minimizing the other incestuous sins; lack of recognition of such seems to me to both unwise and hurtful.

    I sense that you desire to be both compassionate and righteous, and I for one appreciate that. Correspondingly, I would ask you to consider my thoughts in that same vein, and that maybe there is more merit to my suggestions than appear at first glance.
    Thanks for your comment

      Andy

      Thanks for the reply. I understand your point a little more now, though we may not be in exactly the same place, I think we are close…

      -Andy

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