This blog post is going to be sort of an encyclopedia of information for how to deal with homosexuality and LGBT issues from an orthodox, biblical perspective. I would encourage you to consider bookmarking this post and you can use it now and in the days to come. Why? Because these issues aren’t going away. And we’ve got decisions to make.
We are at a crossroads as a nation and the Church must give a reason for our hope in gentleness and respect. Therefore, I’m going to share with you insights from well-known, revered evangelicals such as: J.D. Greear, Al Mohler, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, Tim Keller, Franklin Graham, Russell Moore and Kevin DeYoung. Their biblical insight to this critical issue is invaluable.
The reason I share this information (all together) is because we all need clear, loving, forthright, gracious ways to counsel people on LGBT issues. As a pastor, I’m getting asked more about these issues than anything else right now. People want answers and they need Biblical answers.
Now I want to say this. Today in our culture, there are people who will give you “biblical answers” but these answers are so off-base and so non-orthodox in their theology that they can hardly be called “biblical.”
At our church I have taught what I’m getting read to share with you several times. In fact, I’m going to be teaching it again on Sunday, June 28th as a part of the series I’m teaching about “Overcoming Temptation.” It’s about how to interpret Scripture (the Bible).
Today, Satan is employing a process of interpreting the Bible that is known as Eisegesis. This is a fancy word for people who choose to interpret the Bible for how it bests suits their needs or their particular worldview. People who Eisegete Scripture are those who read into the Bible what they want it to mean, versus taking out of the Bible what the original writers (inspired by God) intended it to really mean. Eisegesis is an improper handling of Scripture. For Scripture (or any writing of antiquity for that matter) to be interpreted properly it must be “exegetes.” In other words, the we must let the text speak for itself. Let me show you the difference.
Eisegesis asks: What idea do I want to present by finding a passage of Scripture that seems to fit with my idea? In eisegesis, there is no examination of the words of the text or their relationship to each other, no cross-referencing with related passages, and no real desire to understand the actual meaning. With eisegesis, Scripture serves only as a prop and a crutch to the interpreter’s ideas. This is SO dangerous!
Milton S. Terry (1840-1914), Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis and Theology said: “A fundamental principle in biblical hermeneutics is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection. The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture.”
Exegesis: Extracting the meaning FROM the text. (What does it mean?)
Eisegesis: Projection of reader bias INTO the text. (What does it mean to me?)
Exegesis and Eisegesis is part of what is called: “hermeneutics,” which is the branch of knowledge that deals with the proper interpretation of literary texts. Take a look at this definition.
Biblical Hermeneutics: is the science of properly interpreting the meaning and application of the Bible. The goal is to point to the correct interpretation, which the Holy Spirit has already inspired into the text. The aim is to discover the meaning of the passage as the original author intended and to protect us from improperly applying a Scripture to a particular situation.
We know God will not contradict His Word and that Scripture interprets Scripture. Therefore, we can use the Bible to help us interpret other parts of the Bible. This will keep us from “proof-texting.” Proof-texting is isolating one verse of Scripture from the rest of the Bible and building your theology or worldview around it.
The reason I share this is because one of the grossest forms of eisegesis being used today is by the LGBT community when it comes to sound biblical hermeneutics. Today we have people from this community who say that Paul said (in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6) that homosexuality was okay as long as the partners were monogamous. Are you serious??? There is no way that a clear reading of those two lengthy passages could possibly construe such a meaning. It’s preposterous to say the least. Yet, this is our culture and this is our world and people are drinking this Kool-Aid as fast as it can be poured.
I’m linking below to the newest Tylenol ad that will show the need for this post. It’s 30-seconds long and you’ll see the need for having good information to share with your children and for the “break room talk” at work.
So, shouldn’t people be allowed to love who they want? Well, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly tackles that critical question here.
People who are same-sex attracted are indeed “allowed” to love who they want to love. In other words, it’s not illegal for homosexually identified men and women to love each other or even live together. Therefore, the issue at stake in this country isn’t about two men or two women “being allowed” to love each other: it’s about if we, as a nation, should redefine the millennia-old understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman.
Carrie Earll, heads up the Thriving Values/policy efforts at Focus on the family and says this:
“Like other social issues that deviate from God’s design, same-sex marriage impacts more than the two people who want to get married. For instance, while abortion and pornography may not impact you directly, the legalization and practice affects the culture you live in by lessening the value of human life and sexuality. It also fosters confusion about what it means to be a boy or girl, man or woman.
“Same-sex marriage hurts children who, according to research do best when raised in a home with their married mother and father, are denied either a dad or a mom. It negatively impacts faith-based adoption agencies that are forced to close their doors when faced with the choice of violating religious tenets or placing children in homes with same-sex parents. Photographers, bakers, inn keepers, florists and others who politely decline to use their talents and businesses to participate in same-sex ceremonies experience harassment, legal challenges and crippling fines. Parents who want a say in what their young children are taught in school about homosexuality find legalized same-sex marriage is a trump card that overrides their parental rights.
“Proponents of same-sex marriage will continue to claim no one is hurt. There’s ample evidence that’s not true, and the track record for protecting children’s rights, religious freedom, free speech and parental rights on this topic does not bode well for the future.”
Well, what about this… What if someone in your family makes the decision to choose the gay-lifestye and they ask you to come to their wedding with their same-sex partner? What do you do? Here’s Kevin DeYoung’s take on that question. This video is about 2 1/2 minutes long.
R. C. Sproul Jr summarizes by saying:
“It is true enough that there are plenty of reasons why Christians are called to object to some heterosexual marriages. Those unbiblically divorced are not in fact free to marry, and Christians should not attend such weddings either, for the same reasons. The argument isn’t that both parties are sinners, and therefore we shouldn’t go. All those who marry are sinners. The question is, is the wedding itself biblical? … there is no such thing as homosexual weddings. You can no more witness a homosexual wedding than you could draw a square circle. Weddings are between men and women. That said, those participating in these events believe they are participating in a wedding. Our attendance, no matter how well intentioned, encourages them in their delusion. Which is one key reason why they so object to our not attending their weddings, or our not beautifying them with cakes and flowers. If we won’t admit that the naked emperor is dressed to the nines, the state will be called and we will be ruined.”
But what about those who have same-sex attraction? What do we do to help folks who have this attraction? How do we show love and kindness for their struggle?
J.D. Greear, pastor, author and theologian from Summit Church in Raleigh shares here:
Here’s the upshot:
There are six passages in Scripture that address homosexual behavior directly. And every mention is negative, either prohibiting or condemning such behavior. First Corinthians 6:9–11, for instance, refers to “men who have sex with men” as a vice that would prevent a person from entering the kingdom of God. The two Greek terms he used, malakoi and arsenokoitai, were the common terms of the day to refer to a broad range of homosexual relationships.
Many today object to this reading, insisting that what Paul had in mind was not the same as homosexuality as we know it today. He was, they argue, thinking of male prostitution, rape, or pedophilia. Committed same-sex relationships didn’t exist in Paul’s day, so Paul’s words don’t apply.
This is, simply put, not true. Historian Thomas Hubbard (not a Christian), wrote an exhaustive (and exhaustively long, nearly 600 pages) work on homosexuality in the ancient world, entitled Homosexuality in Greece and Rome. He demonstrates that homosexuality existed in a wide variety of forms, much like today. And that included committed, lifelong, same-sex partners. Had Paul wanted to distinguish between valid and invalid forms of homosexuality, he could have done so.
Or consider Romans 1, in which Paul talks about humanity’s rejection of God’s authority. Because we rejected God’s authority, “God gave them [that is, us] up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another” (Romans 1:26–27). As Richard Hays says concerning this passage, Paul depicts gay and lesbian activity as an outward epitome of the inward posture of sin—rejection of the Creator’s design.
I agree with Geear as a pastor when he says this:
It doesn’t delight me to have to keep revisiting this question. Talking about homosexuality is not a way to grow a church, and I’d love nothing more than to abstain from the conversation. But as a church, we can’t simply remain silent. Jesus rebuked the church in Thyatira for tolerating someone whose teaching led people into sexual sin (Rev 2:20). Jesus is not only opposed to false teachers, but to those who allow their falsehood to go unchecked.
In the end, we’re going to have to offend someone on this issue—either the world or Jesus. And I choose to offend the world. Ours is not the first generation to be offended by the teachings of Jesus. It won’t be the last. And while the specifics of what offends the culture changes from age to age, every generation has to choose whether our allegiance is to culture or to our Savior. I pray that we may all stand firm.
Well, what about those who want help to come out of the homosexual lifestyle? Can reparative therapy help them? Dr. Russell Moore is the President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and he discusses in this short 3 1/2 minute video.
The upshot is this. Yes, there is healing and help for any sinner. There is help for me in that I struggle with anger and lust at times. There is help for the drunk and drug addict and for the porn addict. There is help for the adulterer and there is help for the homosexual. But, the answer is not making them heterosexual. The answer is helping them to identify with Jesus and not their sin. They may struggle the rest of their life with same-sex attraction, just as I know that I will be tempted by the lady in the Hardee’s commercial in a bathing suit eating a hamburger. I will fight against my flesh and seek the Lord Jesus just as a person with same-sex attraction can CHOOSE to resist and fight against their inclinations and temptations.
We are all sinners and we all need help. We all need the love, mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Yes, some people can be totally delivered from homosexuality and never look back when they come to Christ. I’ve known men who were alcoholics who came to Christ and they never desired another drink again. Yet, I’ve known others who continue to this day to fight the temptation to drink. Therefore, they choose not to go to bars. They don’t put themselves in a position to act on the temptation or sin. It’s the same for me when I travel and I’m in an empty hotel room by myself with a TV with all kinds of garbage on it. I CHOOSE, with the help of Jesus, to never even turn the TV on (and I don’t when I travel alone). In fact, I unplug it from the wall and I read instead. It’s a choice.
Tim Keller, pastor and theologian has perhaps one of the best articles about homosexuality and the Bible I’ve read to date.
Here’s an excerpt…
In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships. As N.T. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this.
That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense (though not the only) place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together.
Therefore, in one of the great ironies of late modern times, when we celebrate diversity in so many other cultural sectors, we have truncated the ultimate unity-in-diversity: inter-gendered marriage.
Without understanding this vision, the sexual prohibitions in the Bible make no sense. Homosexuality does not honor the need for this rich diversity of perspective and gendered humanity in sexual relationships. Same-sex relationships not only cannot provide this for each spouse, they can’t provide children with a deep connection to each half of humanity through a parent of each gender.
So, you and I have a single choice to make. Will we stand on 200o years of orthodox teaching of God’s Word on the matter of sexuality or will we chuck it all for a 1960’s forward view of sex? Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY says this:
This is a moment of decision, and every evangelical believer, congregation, denomination, and institution will have to answer. There will be no place to hide. The forces driving this revolution in morality will not allow evasion or equivocation. Every pastor, every church, and every Christian organization will soon be forced to declare an allegiance to the Scriptures and to the Bible’s teachings on marriage and sexual morality, or to affirm loyalty to the sexual revolution. That revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there. But marriage is the most urgent issue of the day, and the moment of decision has arrived.
In this season of testing, Christians committed to the gospel of Christ are called upon to muster the greatest display of compassion and conviction of our lives. But true compassion will never lead to an abandonment of biblical authority or a redefinition of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I was contacted yesterday by Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post. She asked about these very developments. As I told her, this issue will eventually break relationships — personally, congregationally, and institutionally. This is the sad reality and there is simply no way around it. No one, especially in a position of leadership, will be able to fly under the radar on this issue.
The last two days have been very revealing. The present moment is very demanding. The issues before us are compelling and urgent. The Bible is clear. Are you ready to give an answer?
That’s the entire reason I’ve written this lengthy post. I want us all to have Biblical answers and not be afraid to stand on the authority of God’s Word. God is not dumb. He stands outside of time as the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. His Word and His principles are just as applicable today as when they were written thousands of years ago. Why? Again…God is not dumb! What He breathed into 40 men will stand forever. Not one jot and not one tittle will pass away.
So, time keeps marching forward and as you have probably heard by now, at the end of this month, the Supreme Court is likely to offer a ruling on so-called “Same-Sex Marriage.” I like what Jim Daly of Focus on the Family said about this earlier today:
As the Church we need to recognize that, no matter what happens, God is still in charge. Therefore, if the Supreme Court doesn’t rule as we hope it will, we must not lose hope. Our marriage mandate will continue to compel us to promote and advocate for God’s design, and to seek to model it well in our lives.
Even if the Court rules in our favor, we can’t take a moment’s rest. We have to realize that the nation is deeply divided on this issue and there is much we can do to show our fellow citizens – especially the younger generation – that one man, one woman marriage is not only God’s design, but it’s also a model that simply makes sense.
Whatever the case, let’s not forget real lives are touched by whatever the Supreme Court decides. One of the primary reasons we care so deeply about the outcome is because we care so deeply about the welfare of the people personally impacted by bad law.
We grieve for the child who won’t have both a father and a mother.
We empathize with the woman whose husband divorces her in order to pursue “marriage” with another man.
Our hearts break for the florist who sits on the verge of bankruptcy because she refuses to provide a bouquet for a same-sex “wedding.”
We ache for the conflicted same-sex-attracted individual who won’t find peace in his heart because of this ruling.
To be sure, there are those who misinterpret our stand for marriage and ascribe false motives to our beliefs. They may hurl the “hate” and “bigot” epithets for political gain or to silence debate. Likewise, I must admit, some claiming the Christian label have been cruel and harsh toward the homosexual community and that is equally wrong.
So as we prepare for this historic decision, it’s good to remember to speak with words seasoned with salt. Let us “live a life worthy of the calling we have received” (Ephesians 4:1) and serve as humble, loving witnesses to our Lord Jesus Christ and His truth. Remember, it’s “God’s kindness that leads us to repentance” (Romans 2:4), so let us show that loving kindness as we engage the culture on this important issue.
I think Franklin Graham sums it up best and I’ll close our “encyclopedia” with his words, (taken from a recent Facebook post):
“…while I believe millions of Americans share my views on this matter and my beliefs about same-sex marriage, I also realize, based on polls and trends (and the pending Supreme Court decision), I might soon find myself in the minority. Even so, my position is not based upon polls or trends, political winds or Supreme Court wisdom. It is based upon God’s word, the Holy Bible, written more than 2000 years ago, and that document is not subject to amendment or revision.”
Friends, if we truly love people, then we will tell the truth. That’s what the Church of Jesus Christ does. We’ll bear the truth bearers. We’ll administer the truth. If we don’t, then we can’t really say that we love at all. People need Jesus. We all need Jesus. Jesus + nothing. He is the truth, the way and the life and no one comes to God except through Him (John 14:6).