The Bible is not silent on the matter of homosexuality. Nor is the Bible vague and general in what it does say on homosexuality. Let us look at the key Scriptures:
Genesis 19:4,5,7,24 “Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally [have relations with them; NASB]….’ and [Lot] said, ‘Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!….’ Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.”
Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.”
Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” [Note: This Old Covenant law on the death penalty for homosexuality is no longer active under the New Covenant administration.]
Romans 1:18,26,27 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Timothy 1:8-11 “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.”
How should we as Christians respond to homosexuality, homosexuals, and the homosexual agenda? Allow me to first list a couple ways in which we should not respond:
1. With Hate: Many have resorted to holding up signs that say things like, “God hates gays,” etc. Others, while not holding signs, say pretty much the same things with their mouths and actions. This is, at the core, mean-spirited, un-Christ-like, and prideful. This response has no grace in it, only condemnation. This perspective fails to consider that Christians were once enslaved to such sins, and it is only by God’s redeeming grace that they have been set free to serve God in truth and holiness.
2. With Silence: On the other extreme of the issue, there are those who remain completely silent about the sinfulness of homosexuality, as if it is unbiblical and un-Christ-like to speak of specific sins. As we will see, speaking of specific sins is not unbiblical, but is very common in the Bible (even in evangelism). This perspective fails to consider that Christians are called to proclaim the gospel and to call sinners to repentance and faith, which entails speaking about sin.
God’s word compels us to speak out against the sin of homosexuality (as it does of all sin), calling men and women to repentance and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Below, I want to consider why it’s important that Christians should speak about the sinfulness of homosexuality; that is, to specifically speak about this sin. I emphasize this, because there are Christians out there who think it’s wrong to zero in on one sin.
1. The Heinousness of Homosexuality Demands We Specifically Speak About It: In the Scripture passages we looked at above, there are a number of serious terms associated with this sin: abomination, unrighteousness, wickedness, judgment, shameful, lawlessness, penalty of error, and a lie. Not only this, but homosexuality is a habitual lifestyle. The Scripture passages present homosexuality as an absolutely heinous sin that God especially abhors. While all sin is sin in God’s eyes, this does not mean that all sins are of the same severity. For example, if an elder is caught lying, there is very little reason to seek his removal from the eldership. However, if he is caught in adultery (or say a homosexual relationship), then there is very good reason to seek his removal from the eldership.
2. The Homosexual Agenda Demands We Specifically Speak About It: The homosexual community is continually pushing to legalize same-sex marriages, same-sex adoptions, etc. Homosexuality is no longer an uncommon thing to see on TV shows. They are, in other words, pushing to normalize homosexuality, both within the home and within society at large. This will only lead to the further down-fall of our society, especially within the home for the future generations. The continual acceptance and spread of homosexuality will do damage to our society, our country, our families, and even our churches (as has already been the case, sadly), that certain other sins would not have as damaging of an affect (see point #1). Because the homosexual community wishes to make a big deal about their homosexuality, we as the church must make a big deal about it too. This isn’t simply a political issue, it’s a moral and ethical issue (note: politics is very moral and ethical in nature).
Next I want to consider some reasons why specifically speaking about homosexuality in our evangelism is not an unbiblical or un-Christ-like thing. Note, I’m not saying Christians have to specifically mention homosexuality. They don’t. However, there may be situations where it is right and necessary for them to do so.
1. In 1 Timothy 1:9,10 it says that “the law is…made for…sodomites [homosexuals].” The clear implication is that the law of God is intended to be used to confront people of their specific sins. It’s like Paul says in Romans 7:7, “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” What I find interesting is that many Christians have no problem specifically confronting people with lying, stealing, hating, blaspheming, sex outside of marriage, etc; however, when it comes to homosexuality, it’s suddenly an unloving thing to confront someone with. Keep in mind, too, that in verse 11 Paul speaks of the gospel, implying that there is a balanced presentation of both law and gospel in evangelism.
2. The Bible speaks of sins, not in a vague, general way, but in an emphatically specific way. The Scriptures mentioned above at least demonstrate this in regards to the sin of homosexuality (see also Eph. 5:3,4; Col. 3:5,8,9; Tit. 3:3).
3. John the Baptist, Jesus, the apostles, and others were not afraid to confront their listeners with specific sins (Mk. 6:17,18; 7:20-23; Lk. 18:18-23; Jn. 4:17,18; Acts 2:23,40; 3:13-15; 7:51-53; 17:29). Such a plethora of explicit texts should make us conclude that it was the normal approach of the apostles and the early church to speak of specific sins when proclaiming the gospel. Are we better than them by not doing so?
CONCLUSION: LOVE & GRACE
All of this being said, our evangelistic approach toward homosexuals, and toward sinners in general, should be humble and loving, yet firm and honest, ever holding out the gospel of grace. We too were once enslaved to the lusts of our flesh. But there was a time when we heard about the holiness of God, the seriousness of sin and the judgment to come, and of the forgiveness and reconciliation of the cross of Christ through repentance and faith.
Helping homosexuals understand that homosexuality is indeed sin, that calls for the just wrath of God, and then calling them to repentance and faith is not an unloving or hateful thing (although it can be and has been done in an unloving way). If it were, then we would have to conclude that John the Baptist, Jesus, the apostles, and the rest of the early church were hateful and unloving in their evangelism.
We must also keep in mind that we are not to love the ways of this world. This entails telling hard truths to unbelievers (which was common of Jesus in His earthly ministry). This, however, can and should be done in a loving way (which again was common of Jesus).
So, yes, Christians need to fight this fight on homosexuality. They need to stand on the solid rock of God’s word, both defending and proclaiming the sinfulness of homosexuality. However, this needs to be done with a view to the gospel, that we ourselves have been graciously redeemed through it, and that the call of repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins continues to be held out until our Lord returns. It is an understandable thing that the world hates us for taking such a stance (Matt. 5:10-12; Lk. 6:22), but negativity from the church toward those taking such a committed, biblical stance is something that simply cannot be comprehended from a Biblical stand-point.