If homosexual sex is not a sin, then what is a sin? How do we define sin? Is there no such thing as sin? How do we decide? Has the definition of sin changed recently? Do we simply do the loving thing? And if there is no sin, do we really need a Savior?
Clearly, the Christian world has been confused recently. Just last week, Evangelical leader, Sociologist, speaker, author, and pastor, Dr. Tony Campolo changed his view on homosexuality. He wrote, “It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church” . Previously, Dr. Campolo had asked homosexuals to remain celibate to avoid sin. Curiously, in his recent letter, Dr. Campolo is silent about sin. On the other side, Dr. Franklin Graham has called for evangelical Christians to boycott homosexual friendly businesses in order to fight the societal acceptance of sin. He then removed his own accounts from Wells Fargo because of their public LGBT friendly stand .
This year, 2015, the United Methodist Church continued its discussion of allowing gay clergy, while the Episcopal Church has allowed homosexual members and ministers since 1976, the Evangelical Lutheran Church since 2010 and the Presbyterian Church (USA) since 2012. So, where do we stand? Is it inevitable that homosexuals be ministers in the church? Are we judgmental and wrong to exclude gays and to stand against same-sex marriage?
In the light of the decision of the Supreme Court legalizing and even endorsing same-sex marriage, the Christian world needs to revisit the idea of sin, what it is and how it is defined. Because if same-sex marriage is not a sin, we need to know what is. And if there is no sin, then why would we need a Savior? Jesus Christ came to this world as Savior, to deliver this world from the sin that separates us from the relationship with God. He came as our deliverer, just as Moses delivered the people of God from the slavery of Egypt, Jesus came to deliver us from the slavery of sin. But if there is no sin, we don’t need a deliverer.
Is homosexuality a sin?
There is only one way to define sin. We must rely on the Bible to tell us. If we do not rely on the Bible, which is the written word of God, then on what do we rely? If we rely on ourselves then we are our own god. If we rely on the President, or the Supreme Court or any other branch of government, then they are our god. They dictate what is right and wrong. The same can be said of the democratic process. And you can choose to have one of those as your god. Perhaps you may want to call it something else other than god, but essentially this is what it is. God in this case is your director of moral absolutes.
But how can we be sure the Bible is accurate and trustworthy? Well, you can start with this simple short article on the Bible and how we have gotten it through these thousand of years. The Bible, Where Did It Come From and Why Do We Need It. There simply isn’t enough space to deal with it here. And there are whole books and college courses dedicated to the investigation of the Bible as truth.
The Bible deals directly and often with homosexuality. The first encounter with homosexuality is in the book of Genesis 19:4-11 when men were demanding sex with other men. The response was that those demanding sex were struck blind. Certainly, not an approving result, although, this was about forced homosexual sex, not consensual and certainly not about same-sex marriage.
The clearest denouncement of homosexual acts comes in Romans 1:26, 27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 and 1 Timothy 1:10. These passages refer to homosexuality as contrary to sound doctrine, as a quality that will keep you from inheriting the kingdom of God, as unnatural and as a dishonorable passion. In no passage throughout the Bible, in no verse, in no story is homosexuality ever seen in a positive light. It is only listed as unnatural and a practice that is unrighteous.
Unrighteousness is sin. Sin separates us from God. Some have tried to argue that one verse or another is not a prohibition of the homosexual lifestyle, but in its totality this argument fails. As I said, homosexuality is never seen in a positive light, it is never anything more but an offense to God and unrighteous.
But the homosexual community says their sexual identity is NOT a choice. Homosexuals say they are made this way, given to the desire for a same-sex relationship.
I agree with them. I believe that those given to or tempted by homosexuality are made to desire same-sex relationships. It is the sin they struggle against. All of us are born with a “sin nature.” Our desires may differ, but all are given to sin. Romans 3:23 says we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The apostle Paul struggled against sin. He said that in his nature he is a slave to sin. Those are strong words. He says the good that he wants to do, he can’t because he continues to do those things he does not want to do. But then he gives praise to Jesus who frees him from the slavery of his natural desires of his body. (Read Romans 7:17-25).
It is natural to be born with sinful desires. It is only through Jesus that we overcome those desires, those desires that bring death and separation from God.
But what about love and compassion? Isn’t it loving and compassionate to accept the homosexual lifestyle?
Once again, we must start this inquiry with asking who is defining “love.” The Bible says that this lifestyle brings death and separation from God. Is it loving to be separated from God? Is it loving and compassion to agree to leave someone in something that brings death ( I speak here of a spiritual death in place of a eternal life)? After all, many are saying that a homosexual couple, particularly those in a same-sex marriage are not hurting anyone. Let’s look at another relationship in the Bible.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:1 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife” (ESV). Paul chastises the church for allowing this sexual immorality within the body and he tells the church to remove him and to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved (verse 5). But why? There is no evidence this was a forced relationship. There is no evidence that this relationship was not agreed on, not compassionate, and not loving. Why throw them out? Wouldn’t the “loving and compassionate” thing be to accept them?
Paul says that their immorality will corrupt the rest of them. He even says that he told them not to even associate with sexually immoral people. …but then look, he says I don’t mean the sexually immoral of this world (verse 9, 10). No, we are to rescue and lead to Christ those outside the church, those caught in sin. But sexual immorality, and the practice of homosexuality does not belong inside the church.
Earlier I quoted Dr. Campolo who said that he is now “ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.” But this is contrary to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. This is contrary to scripture.
If the practice of homosexuality is not sin, what is?
If, after reading the scriptures, your conclusion is that the practice of homosexuality is not sin, then what is sin? Is sin defined by popular opinion? Is it defined by the government? Or is there no such thing as sin?
What else is really not sin? Alcoholics and drug addicts both say they cannot help themselves, some say they were born this way, given to addictions. The womanizer and the adulterer, are they any different? The liar, the gossip, the cheat? What about a kleptomaniac? Is this sin or a condition?
If there is no real thing as sin, or if sin changes from generation to generation or government to government, then we have no need of a savior and Jesus came and died in vain. God had no need to rescue us, we would rescue ourselves.
But the Bible says that we are all in need of a Savior to free us from slavery to sin. And Jesus does more than free us, he forgives us and he empowers us to have victory over sin and the things that seem out of our control, and then he accepts us and brings us into relationship with him.
Since the decision of the Supreme Court, many in support of same-sex marriage have called those against the decision “haters” and “bigots” and also referring to us as “unloving” and “without compassion.” I, myself, have been the object of those remarks. But my motivation is not to hate. My church and my home are open to homosexuals, prostitutes, alcoholics, and addicts, pornographers, gossips, and anyone else. It is a place that I speak of the love of Jesus and how he came to forgive, to heal and to love you and me into the kingdom of God. He has done so for me and I say as did Paul, that I am the chief of all sinners. I need a Savior and I need him to save me from my sin not accept me in it.
Jesus came to deliver me from sin—if he didn’t, well, I don’t need him.