Pastor Mike Osladil
Like the lawless days of the judges when every person did what was right in his own eyes (cf. Judges 17:6; 21:25) our society increasingly throws off all moral restraint. As I write, our Supreme Court is considering whether the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, is constitutional. It's also weighing whether it's permissible for states, in this case, California, to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages.
Former president, Bill Clinton, who in 1996 signed the DOMA into law, now supports marriage between two men or two women. The Obama administration in a rare move has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage act, a federal law, in court.
How can we shine as Christ’s light to a society increasingly darkened in their understanding? As we seek to bring God’s good news to all people, including homosexuals, remember that homosexuals, like all hurting people, need more than information; they need compassion. Extend the same mercy and compassion to all God extends to us in Christ (cf. Jude 17-23). Prostitutes and sinners flocked to Jesus because God’s heart of compassion shone from His life, rather than the self-righteousness condemnation exhibited by the religious leaders of His day.
At the same time we must be clear that homosexuality, like all forms of sexual immorality, is a counterfeit to God’s creative design – not the opposite. For those who argue that Jesus did not condemn homosexuality consider the following evidence that both implicitly and explicitly shows Jesus does indeed condemn homosexual relationships.
First, Jesus implies the sinfulness of homosexuality when He teaches that at His return most people will ignore God’s warnings to repent and will be carrying on “business as usual,” unaware of the judgment that awaits them. He then provides several Old Testament examples, including this reference to Sodom and its judgment.
“On the day Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:29 NET). By this reference to the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19) Jesus affirms the Old Testament account of God’s judgment of the sin of sodomy (homosexuality) when He notes,
“And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? No, you will be thrown down to Hades! For if the miracles done among you had been done in Sodom, it would have continued to this day” (Matt 11:23 NET).
Jesus’ half-brother, Jude, expands on this judgment on the city of Sodom when he recounts:
“Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7 ESV).
Jesus’ statement condemning evil thoughts, lust and sensuality imply His condemnation of homosexual relationship, as well as all forms of sexual immorality (cf. Mark 7:21-22). Jesus’ affirmation of the Old Testament law forbidding such sins, including homosexuality affirms His opposition to them. Paul describes the moral cesspool of the Roman world, not by explicitly cataloguing all the various sexual sins, but by saying,
“For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention” (Eph. 5:12 NET).
A second evidence Jesus did explicitly condemn the sin of homosexuality comes from the fact that all of the New Testament is Jesus’ word to us, not just the words in “red print” (cp. John 14:23-26 w. 16:12-15). Thus, one errors to only look for a direct statement from Jesus condemning homosexuality in the gospels, just as one would be mistaken to assume bestiality or incest or child molestation is okay because it is not explicitly condemned by Jesus.
The New Testament specifically teach that those who practice homosexuality need God’s forgiveness and divine power to be freed from this sin, just as all of us do from the various sins that enslave us. At the seaport city of Corinth known for its immorality, the apostle Paul wrote to the church there:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. 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 Cor. 6:9-11 NET).
Paul affirms that the entire world stands under God’s judgment in the first three chapters of Romans. In chapter one he shows that the pagans are condemned before God. Related to this subject Paul writes:
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”(Rom 1:25-28 NET).
While we are to “love one another,” true love does what is best for the other person. Jesus’ love caused Him to expose the evil of our world, and for that “love,” the world crucified Him (cf. John 3:16-21). Jesus told His brothers who were unbelieving at the time:
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I am testifying about it that its deeds are evil” (John 7:7 NET). Love does not whitewash sins, rather true love offers people cleansing through the blood of Jesus Christ, which can wash away all the foul sins that cling to each of us.