28 October 2010

Homosexuality... the worst sin?

Bible class
28 October 2010

‘Go and sin no more’

The media is filled with tragic reports of late about gay bashing and gay bullying in the rash of teenage suicides linked with homosexuality.

I read a blog the other day which said just what I would say, only it said it much better. So I will quote from it. Then we will review some biblical texts and see a bit more on the subject.

All the while, homosexuality is not the only sexual sin I will address tonight. The Bible says that any sexual activity outside of marriage is not right. But let’s start with homosexuality and see how much time we can commit to further discussion.

“Some homosexual activist groups lay blame [for the gay bullying] at the feet of conservative Christians who teach that homosexual conduct is wrong, as well as pro-family groups (such as Focus on the Family) which oppose elements of the homosexual political agenda, such as same-sex "marriage."

The Christians and pro-family leaders I know are unanimous in believing that no person, especially a child, should be subjected to verbal or physical harassment or violence--whether because of their sexuality, their religious beliefs, or for any other reason. Such bullying violates the Christian's obligation to love our neighbor as we love ourselves, and receives no support from the pro-family political movement.

Where bullying has occurred, the blame should be placed on the bullies themselves--not on organizations within society who clearly oppose bullying. I suspect that few, if any, such bullies are people who regularly attend church, and I would not be surprised if most of the "bullies" did not have the positive benefit of both an active mom and dad in their lives. Religious faith and a return to traditional family values are more likely to be a solution to the problem of bullying than a cause.

However, homosexual activist groups like GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) are exploiting these tragedies to push their agenda of demanding not only tolerance of homosexual individuals, but active affirmation of homosexual conduct and their efforts to redefine the family.

There is an abundance of evidence that homosexuals experience higher rates of mental health problems in general, including depression. However, there is no empirical evidence to link this with society's general disapproval of homosexual conduct. In fact, evidence from the Netherlands would seem to suggest the opposite, because even in that most "gay-friendly" country on earth, research has shown homosexuals to have much higher mental health problems.

Within the homosexual population, such mental health problems are higher among those who "come out of the closet" at an earlier age. Yet GLSEN's approach is to encourage teens to "come out" when younger and younger--thus likely exacerbating the very problem they claim they want to solve.

Some homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal--yet they have been told by the homosexual movement, and their allies in the media and the educational establishment, that they are "born gay" and can never change. This--and not society's disapproval--may create a sense of despair that can lead to suicide.

The most important thing that we as believers can offer to homosexuals is hope--hope that their sins, just like the sins of anyone else, can be forgiven and their lives transformed by the power of Messiah Y’shua. His command to love our neighbor clearly embraces the homosexual as well. But love does not require affirming every behavior in which an individual engages. For a parent to encourage a child to indulge their every desire would not be love, but rather its very opposite. The same is true of self-destructive behaviors in which adults may engage--whether it is the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, or heterosexual activity outside of marriage.

Since homosexual conduct is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and domestic violence, it too qualifies as a behavior that is harmful to the people who engage in it and to society at large. It is not loving to encourage someone to indulge in such activities, no matter how much sensual pleasure they may derive from them. It is more loving to help them overcome them. This is why, in the public policy arena, we will continue to oppose any policy or action that would celebrate or affirm homosexual conduct.

The model for a faith-filled response to homosexuals may be the story of the woman caught in adultery recorded in John chapter 8. When the crowd responded with violence, by gathering to stone her, Y’shua said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Knowing that they were all sinners, the crowd melted away. But Messiah’s words to the woman he saved were crucial. He did not say, "Go, for you have not sinned." Instead, he said, "Go and sin no more."

There is no contradiction between believers’ compassion and a call for holy living. But the life which is holy (from a spiritual perspective) or even healthy (from a secular perspective) requires abstinence from homosexual conduct. We would do no one a favor if we ceased to proclaim that truth.

Consider these biblical injunctions.

“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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6.9-10)

“We know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1Tim. 1.8-10)

The Levitical commandment is clear as when we read, “And you shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. Neither shall you give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.” (Lev. 18.20-23)

I’m keen to help us understand tonight that homosexuality is not the greatest sin. In the first passage, homosexuality is listed after adultery and fornicators and idolaters. After it is thievery and coveting and drunkenness and swindlers! It’s not the only sexual sin listed in the Scriptures. It’s not the worst of them all. There is no priority in the listing. They are all wrong, and counter God's plans. He wants people to be free and living in these sins prevents real freedom. My opinion is that God hates things which ruin family.

Let me explain.

When God created humanity as recorded in the Bible in Genesis 1 and 2, he wanted a holy family which would reflect who he is on the planet. Everything which is counter to his plan, to his purpose, to his nature, that was to be done away with. It was to be avoided.

And we see that in the Garden of Eden. God wanted family. Later, after the story of the flood, God wanted Noah and his family to replenish the earth and subdue it again. That means, to dominate in the sense of rule in his righteousness. Not to dominate like an overlord, but like a carer for the planet, like Y’shua. In Abraham and Sarah, and her as good as dead, God continued to bring ‘family’ to the planet. In Isaac, and Jacob and through the Jewish people, we were to reflect the nature of God and his notion of family to the world. We were not better; we were to be his representatives, his ambassadors.

No one did that better than Y’shua, our Messiah, who brought eternity to men, and who lived and taught and died and rose again, the Eternal Son of the Eternal Father. Don’t be confused with pictures and paintings of The Holy Family (Joseph, Mary and Jesus). I don’t know why Mary gets a place. I don’t know why Joseph does. The real family is Father and Son and Holy Spirit, all as one, ever one, who truly are God and represent God to humanity.

Family … nothing matters more than that. Hence, no bestiality. That ruins both families (the beast's family and the human's family). No adultery. That ruins both families (the one of the man and the one of the woman). No homosexuality. That ruins the children (adopted of course, as nature doesn’t allow man to man to procreate a child). That ruins others in society. Honestly and forthrightly, I cannot say this more clearly.

And yet, this must be our call. As a family, of believers in Y’shua, as Jews and some of you who are not born Jewish, to welcome anyone and everyone who comes to us. Our doors are open. No one is excluded. That does not mean that we affirm everything everyone does. Of course not. But what we are saying is that adulterers are welcome here. Adultery is not. Homosexuals are welcome here. Homosexuality is not welcome here. Murderers, liars, revilers, everyone, Jews, Gentiles, blonds, Kiwis, everyone… welcome is our operative word. And then…God does his work in making us his people. We are not here to live our standards, but rather to learn his standards and to live them out.

In that is life. In Him is life. And in no one else.

The most important thing that we as believers can offer to homosexuals is hope--hope that their sins, just like the sins of anyone else, can be forgiven and their lives transformed by the power of Messiah Y’shua. His command to love our neighbor clearly embraces the homosexual as well. But love does not require affirming every behavior in which an individual engages. For a parent to encourage a child to indulge their every desire would not be love, but rather its very opposite. The same is true of self-destructive behaviors in which adults may engage--whether it is the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, reckless driving, or heterosexual activity outside of marriage.

The model for a faith-filled response to homosexuals may be the story of the woman caught in adultery recorded in John chapter 8. When the crowd responded with violence, by gathering to stone her, Y’shua said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." Knowing that they were all sinners, the crowd melted away. But Messiah’s words to the woman he saved were crucial. He did not say, "Go, for you have not sinned." Instead, he said, "Go and sin no more."

8 comments:

David Scott said...

"Let him who is without sin cast the first stone."

Yeshua could have ... but didn't.

The issue here in Scotland is more about practising gay clergy rather than homosexuality per se.
The Bible encourages 'homophilia' (meaning love towards the same gender) but not to be expressed sexually. There's a fair bit of homophobia hiding behind some sermons. However, there is also a reluctance to call homosexual activity a sin.
guess it's a kind of creeping Gnosticism where self-actualisation or self-realisation or self-authentication usurps the Gospel focus of mutual interdwelling with Yeshua and Abba.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Recently I heard about an issue of public gay sex in California bathrooms--and there was actually an uproar in the gay community when public officials wanted to enact laws against it.

Apparently, any "no" is now discrimination. I don't understand it. Why wouldn't the gay community itself want to discourage anonymous sex in a public place? I even saw video of an AIDS activist fighting FOR the right to have sex in public bathrooms.

It's painful to see such self-destructive behavior and feel powerless to convince those involved that it isn't ok for them to hurt themselves. But I also have felt that way with promiscuous, drug addicted, or alcohol addicted family members. I wish more people understood that sometimes the words "No, it isn't ok" or in this case "The bullying isn't right but your behavior isn't either and it needs to change(essentially a modern "Neither do I judge you but go and sin no more") are some of the most compassionate words a person can speak. Too many people (perhaps myself included) get too worried about offending someone who is about to walk over a cliff or actually makes distinctions between two different people walking off of the same cliff in different ways--as if that's the aspect that matters.

Anonymous said...

Just because you hide your bigotry behind a veneer of religion doesn't make it any less repulsive. No wonder xians like JFJ have such a bad reputation

Bob said...

I'm not hiding behind anything, but 'anonymous' is hiding his/her name. Interesting. Look, the issues of wrong sexual activity will only increase. Canada I heard, is considering polygamy again. And give them all time and pedophilia and bestiality will reenter polite conversation, and then the end will come.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting - you deserve to go to your 'hell' you think we deserve.

Anonymous said...

This is disgusting - you deserve to go to your 'hell' you think we deserve.

Anonymous said...

The point that Christianity makes is that we ALL deserve to go to hell but Yeshua's sacrifice gives us a way out--not by our merit but by His. We have ALL fallen short. Unrepentant sin, however, denies that sacrifice and denies the redeeming work of Yeshua.

How is it bigotry when we ALL have been or are presently in the place of this woman? We have all lived lives of sin and He has offered every one of us a way out and all He asks in return is our acceptance of Him and that we do not continue to harm ourselves by continuing in sin.

Even without making value judgments there is plenty of scientific and medical evidence that the homosexual lifestyle is damaging--to the individual involved and to their children.

For JFJ to say that something is damaging when it is,in fact, damaging is akin to the verse that says "wounds from a friend are better than many kisses from an enemy." Real enemies say whatever a person wants to hear so they can get what they want or so they won't have to deal with the hassle. JFJ knows that many people hate hearing this but they say it anyway--not out of bigotry but because only someone who really cares would tell a person the truth even when it hurts.

Some people do use religion or nationalism or ethnicity etc. to hide their malevolence. But I really don't think JFJ is doing that here.

It's also true that other people hide their hurt, fear, insecurities, and feelings of rejection behind unwarranted insults. "Hurting people hurt people".

Only Yeshua has the power to heal such terrible pain.

JFJ can't. Sexual partners can't. We can't even do that for ourselves.

Only Yeshua can.

Bob Mendelsohn said...

I hope you will each continue to discuss this hot-button topic. I'm always agreeable to give real hope to people, not about sex sins, but about all sins! This is the season of forgiveness and G-d wants to forgive us all of everything we have and will do wrong. Thanks be to G-d!