ďHomosexuality and the GospelĒ†††† Genesis 19:1-11††††††† July 12, 2009

 

SI:We are studying the life of Abraham.

Heís called the father of those who believe in Jesus Christ.

†† His life demonstrates the fundamental truths and experiences of the Christian life.

And many of the episodes in Abrahamís life become themes that are repeated

†† and referenced throughout the Bible.

 

We see that with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

†† Sodom is mentioned by the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Zephaniah,

†† and by the Apostles Paul, Peter, Jude, and John.And by Jesus himself.

A very important story that deserves our attention for a number of reasons.

†† Weíre going to look at one of those reasons today, very timely reason.

 


 

INTRO:The story is told, that during the early days of the Communist Revolution,

†† when Lenin was gaining power and influence,

†† that the Russian Orthodox Church called an emergency meeting.

Bishops from all over Russia came to Moscow for a general assembly.

†† They came to deal with a very important issueó

†† but it wasnít what you thinkóit wasnít to formulate an answer to Communismó

†† it was to deal with a controversy over the color of vestments priests should wear.

Lenin was preaching a message of atheistic materialism that would enslave Russia

†† for 70 years and bring untold misery and degradation to millions of peopleó

†† and the Russian church was in a worship war.

 

I donít know if that really happened or not, but itís a good parable.

†† The church must speak to the great spiritual and moral issues of the day.

Homosexuality is such a subject.Itís a matter of great public importance and

†† controversy in our culture.Not a day goes by without it being in the news.

All over America anti-discrimination statutes are being changed to accommodate

†† the popular view that homosexuality is a condition as natural as skin color

†† and that no moral judgments whatsoever should be made against it.

 

There have been some places where things like homosexual marriage have

†† succeeded and other places where they have failed, but the momentum seems

†† to be on the side of those who say that it should be accepted as a perfectly

†† normal way of life.

Just a generation ago, homosexuality was universally regarded as abnormal

†† and unnatural.Up until 1973 it was officially listed as a psychiatric illness.

 

That has completely changed.One scholar put it this way:

ďLike the ancient pagan Sodomites pounding on the door of Lotís house, the modern gay moment is gathering at the doors of our churches, our academies, and our traditionally ĎChristianí culture demanding entrance and full recognition.Ē

 

A few years ago the California State Assembly passed a bill that would change

†† K-12 textbooks, instructional materials, and school-sponsored activities to refer

†† positively to transsexuality, transvestitism, bisexuality, and homosexuality

including homosexual marriage.

Fabian Nunez, the sponsor of the bill, said openly that the real purpose of the bill

†† was to outlaw traditional perspectives on marriage and family in the state

†† school system.He said, ďThe way you correct a wrong is by outlawing it.Ē

 

Iím not telling you anything you donít know.

†† There are ferocious attacks by the cultural elite on anyone who publically

†† expresses biblical judgment against homosexuality, no matter how gently stated.

Remember the recent episode of Miss California?

†† What did the men of Sodom say to Lot?How dare you judge us!

 

But itís not just in American culture, itís in the American church.

†† Most liberal Protestant denominations have embraced homosexuality.

The ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson in the Episcopal church one example.

And even in some churches that we would traditionally call evangelical,

†† there are those who are starting to argue that homosexuality should be

†† accepted by the church.

 

Christians canít ignore this.We must understand and internalize and be able to

†† articulate the Bibleís teaching on homosexuals and homosexuality.

†† Not primarily to win the culture war, but because of our love for people.

We believe that every single human being is of infinite value

†† because they are made in the image of God.

And we believe that all forms rebellion against the Creator will result in a

†† misery and the degradation of human dignity.

And we believe ultimately in the hope of the Gospel and Jesus Christ and

†† the Holy Spirit to bring forgiveness and change.

 

So this morning we are going to look at this passage, and a few other key

†† passages and outline the biblical teaching on homosexuality.

But I think you will soon see that everything the Bible says about homosexuality

†† and homosexuals is relevant to every human being, to you and to me.

Since this one of the key issues of our time, maybe the key issue,

†† it exposes fundamental truths about faith and lifeó

†† who we are as human beings, and how we need Jesus Christ.

 

So letís look at this passage and this subject under three headings:

1.Homosexuality and Creation

2.Homosexuality and Redemption

3.Homosexuality and Holiness

 

Credit where credit is due:Sermon series by Dr. Robert Rayburn,

†† Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington

†† tremendously helpful to me for organizing thoughts.

MP#1Homosexuality and Creation

According to Scripture, homosexuality is rebellion against the Creator,

†† and like all rebellion, it will fail and will end in futility and despair.

The key passage is Romans 1.

†† In this passage Paul describes all sin as rebellion against God the Creator.

†† He says that rebellion is the fundamental condition of the human race.

Adam and Eve ate the fruit because they wanted to be their own gods.

†† They wanted to follow their urges and choices instead of the word of Creator.

Weíre just like them.

 

So every form is sin is rebellion against our Creator.

†† But Paul doesnít say that all sins are the same.

He says that as rebellion against the Creator continues,

†† there is a progression, there is a downward slide.

And the terminal end of rebellion against God is homosexuality.

 

Why is that the case?What is it about homosexuality?

If a man commits a heterosexual sin, if a man commits adultery,

that is rebellion against his Creator.Heís shaking his fist at God and saying,

†† I refuse to do what you want me to do.I refuse to be faithful to my wife.

†† I refuse to guard the purity of my neighborís wife.

 

But when a man commits homosexual sin, heís not just saying,

†† to his Creator, I refuse to do what you want me to do, heís saying,

†† and I refuse to be what youíve made me to be.

I refuse to be a man who has been created for a woman, or woman for a man.

 

Paul mentions both male and female homosexuality and he describes them

†† as shameful lusts (desires) and as indecent and unnatural acts.

Itís important to understand what Paul means when he talks about nature.

†† And what he means when he calls homosexuality unnatural.

 

Because homosexuals say that it is natural.

†† From the time I was a little boy, I knew I was different and was attracted to men.

†† Itís my natural urge.

Some will even say, This is the way God made me.

†† How can I deny my feelings?This is as natural to me as your

†† heterosexual attraction is to you.

 

But when Paul talks about nature he doesnít mean our urges and feelings,

†† no matter how early in life we start to feel them.

By natural he means the intention of the Creator.

†† Natural means how God created things to be.

 

And in spite of the fall, Paul says there is enough order left in Creation

†† that reveals to the human race Godís intention for us sexually..

Everyone can see, if they are willing to, that what is natural is sexual relations

†† between men and women in the context of marriage and procreation.

 

There is a good book on the science of this by Dr. Jeffrey Satinover,

†† he was a professor of psychiatry at Yale and Harvard,

†† The title is :Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth

Dr. Satinover shows that after removing politics and looking clearly

†† at all the studies, there is no gay gene.There is no biological factor

†† that compels people to have same-sex attractions.

 

The most we can say is that homosexuality is the result of a complex mixture of

†† biological, family, and social factors as well as repeatedly reinforced choices and

†† behaviors that shape the brain and create sexual compulsion.

In fact, all of Dr. Satinoverís conclusions are completely in line with what the

†† Bible teaches us about the mysterious roots of enslaving sins.

 

Paul is not saying, and we should not say, that every individual homosexual

is at the terminal stage of rebellion against God.That is certainly not the case.

If you have ever known anybody who has struggled with homosexuality,

†† itís often because they have been sinned against.

And you know that they fight it like every other sin.

†† Weíll get to that in a few minutes.

 

But what Paul is saying is that homosexuality itself and its acceptance by society

†† is a protest against the very idea that mankind has a Creator.

And that our Creator has a plan and purpose for human life and laws that govern us.

†† But God is our Creator.And that is why homosexuality is curse for those

†† who practice it and for societies that endorse it.

 

And so as Christians our first message is:You have a Creator.

†† You can deny him, but you cannot escape from him.

And has made clear in creation and revelation what he expects you to be and to do.

Brings us to the second point

MP#2Homosexuality and Redemption

According to the Bible, a homosexual, like all other sinners,

†† can be forgiven and changed by Jesus Christ.

In the 1 Corinthians passage we read earlier, Paul lists a number of sins.

†† Two of those sins are homosexual offenses.

NIV says male prostitutes and homosexual offenders.

†† Those are actually two Greek words for the passive partner and the active partner.

 

But also in this list are heterosexual sins:promiscuity, adultery.

†† He also mentions in this list theft, drunkenness, greed, slander.

†† And then Paul pronounces the same judgment on all of these sins.

Those who practice these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

 

Itís very important for Christians to remember this.

†† Homosexual sin is first and foremost sin, and we are all sinners

Itís a form of sexual sin.And all of us are also sexual sinners.

†† We are sinful in the way we think and act under the influence of sexual desires.

†† We all sin in ways that are condemned by God.

So a homosexual is no different from any other sinner and from any other

†† sexual sinner.He is rebel who needs to be reconciled to his Creator.

†† And he is a sinner who need to be forgiven by Jesus Christ.

 

And thatís exactly what happened in the Corinthian church.

Because after listing this catalogue of sins that includes homosexuality, Paul says:

†† ďThat is what some of you were, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were

†† justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.Ē

In the Corinthian church there were people who had at one time lived happily

†† with all of these sins, including homosexuality.

But the grace of God found them and the Spirit of God called them to a new life,

†† and the power of Christ changed them and they left their former lives behind.

 

It was not without struggle and pain.

†† Holiness is never easy, even for Christians

†† It will never be natural for us until we get to heaven.Itís a battle.

But the fact is that there were changes in these people that were dramatic

†† and obvious to anyone who knew them.

 

Those who practiced theft stole no more.Drunkards began to live sober lives.

Those who slandered began to speak the truth.

And there were changes in those who had been enslaved to sexual sin as well.

†† Adulterers became faithful to their spouses.Single adults no longer promiscuous.

†† And those who indulged in homosexual activity did so no more.

This is the nature of true Christianity wherever it goes.

†† It delivers people from the lives they once lived and changes them.

 

Iím sure you know that the very idea of homosexuals changing

†† into heterosexuals is very controversial and politically charged.

Because if they can change, then itís a blow to the argument that this is

†† a normal, genetically based condition.

But the fact is that homosexuals can and do change.

†† Not all do, but many have.You only have to read the literature of ministries

†† like Exodus International and Harvest USA to find testimonies of real people

†† who have been forgiven and changed.

 

Thereís the interesting story of John and Ann Paulk.You may remember it.

†† John was deeply involved in the homosexual lifestyle but he became a Christian,

†† and was changed and he married Ann who had also been a homosexual,

†† and they had three children.

About 15 years ago John took a visible position with Focus on the Family and then

†† with Exodus International and appeared in a number of articles testifying to the

†† hope and change for homosexuals through Christ.It was very controversial.

 

And then John had a moral lapse.He was seen going into a gay bar in Washington,

†† photographed, and splashed across news and his critics were jubilant.

Hereís the Christian poster child for change.Homosexuals canít change.

†† But John did what Christians do when they fall.He repented.

†† He sought the help and counsel of friends, submitted to discipline of church.

†† He also got out of the work he was in.Pressure made susceptible to temptation.

That was nine years ago and you donít hear much about John Paulk any more.

†† Thatís because he and Ann are still married, and heís working quietly in private

†† business, still walking with Christ, still changed, and fighting the good fight.

Thatís an awesome story because itís a real story of redemption.

 

Homosexuality is sin, but like all of our sinful desires and behaviors, it can be both

†† forgiven and overcome through the grace of God in Jesus Christ.

That has to be our message.Itís a message we preach to ourselves every day,

†† and to sinners of every kind.

MP#3Homosexuality and Holiness

The Bible teaches that a Christian homosexual can life a life of purity and††

†† holiness by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What do I mean by a Christian homosexual?

†† I used that term deliberately to get your attention.

 

This is what I mean.

A Christian is a person who by the power of God, lives his or her life

†† in defiance of the sinful desires that rise up in our minds and bodies.

For some Christians, the sinful desire they fight against all their lives

†† is homosexual attraction.

 

And in this respect, a homosexual is no different from any other Christian.

Think about it:A heterosexual man knows very well that the Christian life

†† means that he has to defy the sinful desires that rise up in his mind and body.

Just because it seems natural to him to look on a woman with lust,

†† doesnít mean he can give in to it.He has to fight it.

 

All sorts of sinful things powerfully attract Christians and are very pleasurable,

†† even though we know they are wrong.And yet a life of holiness means

†† obedience to our Creator and Lord.That is always a fight, sometimes lifelong.

The Lord has called all of his people to holiness and sexual purity.

†† For some thatís a harder path than others.

 

And it may be that Christians who fight homosexual desires have

†† one of the hardest paths of all.

There is so much that is mysterious about the formation of personality and

†† sexual desires.No one is born homosexual.Itís not genetic.

But it is true that things that produce a homosexual response often happen

†† very early in the lives of boys and girls.So early that it sometimes makes

†† it hard to put your finger on exactly what those things were.

 

Dr. Satinover points out that a number of studies have identified certain

†† dysfunctional family patterns as playing a role.

Male homosexuals often have an oppressive, intimate mother

†† and a hostile, detached father, or a father who is indifferent and uninvolved.

But thatís not true in every case.

†† And there are many heterosexual sons who would say fathers hostile and cold.

 

And researchers report similar patterns in families of female homosexuals.

†† Their childhood environments are often marked by a distant and unaffectionate

†† relationship with their father, often an alcoholic or physically abusive.

But once again, this is not true in every case and there are many heterosexual

†† women with similar backgrounds.

 

And Dr. Satinover says that studies have shown a very high percentage o

†† of childhood molestation among homosexuals.But this is not always the

†† case and molestation does not always lead to homosexuality.

There is also, along with these conditions and perhaps in response to them,

†† early patterns of thinking and behavior that shape pleasure centers in the brain,

†† making homosexuality a compulsive power with a biological component

†† that is very difficult to overcome.

 

All this information should make us sympathetic with homosexuals.

They have often had a sad life.They have often been sinned against as children.

†† Often betrayed by the people who should have loved and protected them.

But all this information does not tell us in every case why one person became

†† a homosexual and another did not.

 

And whatís interesting is that the Bible doesnít tell us either.

The Bible doesnít encourage us to place great importance on why this or that

†† person has to bear a particular affliction in this world.

Jesus didnít tell the disciples why the man was born blind.

†† Jesus never said why this man had leprosy, or was paralyzed or demon possessed.

 

The only cause the Bible really cares about is the big causeóthe will of God.

†† How did Jesus put it about the man born blind?

†† So that the works of God could be demonstrated in him.

And that has to be tremendously encouraging to every Christian who

†† is struggling with a life-long temptation.Concealed in your struggle for holiness

†† is a way of serving God and giving him glory.

 

What might that be for Christians who struggle with homosexuality?

†† Maybe thatís you, or a friend of yours or a family member.

One thing is that Christians with this burden often have a tremendously

†† deep capacity for sympathy and understanding.They are so well acquainted with shame and despair on the one hand, and the power of the Gospel and presence of Christ on other that they can reach out in ways that other Christians canít.

Our denomination supports a ministry to homosexuals called Harvest USA.

†† Based in Philadelphia.At our General Assembly they always have a table

†† and some good literature giving away.

Many of people in the ministry were themselves homosexualsó

†† and my point is that the compassion that flows out of these people

†† is palpable.Has to be the work of the Holy Spirit in their particular affliction.

 

Listen, every great Christian life has to fight sinful desires and tendencies.

†† Might be a raging temper that you must conquer.

†† It might be dark depression you have to overcome.

†† Might be profound disappointment you have to accept

Or sexual desires you have to deny.

 

Thatís why the Bible regularly describes the Christian life as warfare,

†† wrestling and a race.This is what it is and will be as long as we are in this world.

But itís good fight and we have a Savior who lived that difficult life for us.

†† He has shown us how to do it.

†† And he has promised to help us do it.