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!