Homosexuality is a gospel issue
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (First Corinthians 6:9-11, ESV)
Larger Catechism # 139:
Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage, having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.
In recent years there has been tremendous pressure in our culture not only to accept, but even to celebrate homosexuality, as a valid alternative lifestyle, completely equal to a heterosexual lifestyle. In fact, it seems that in some segments of our culture it has become quite fashionable and “hip” for those who experience same-sex attraction (“SSA” for short) to officially “come out,” which means publicly declaring themselves to be homosexual. The push for the legalization of “same sex marriage,” which has been successful in many States, is one of the crowning victories in the push for the normalization of same-sex relationships. Those who, out of conscience and principle, continue to affirm the traditional, biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality, and who refuse to conform to current gay orthodoxy, have been all but successfully marginalized by the aggressive gay-rights movement as “ignorant,” “bigots” and “haters.” Some have even found themselves and their businesses on the receiving end of gay activist litigation, or their job security threatened if they don’t go along with company “diversity” policy or if they dare to express their traditional views, even outside the workplace.
The so-called “traditional” view of marriage and sexuality which is revealed in Holy Scripture is basically this: God designed man and woman to “fit together” sexually. Sexuality is a good gift of a good God, but it is to be enjoyed solely within the context of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Sexual union of a man and a woman in marriage manifests and is part of the “one flesh” reality that a husband and wife enjoy in the marriage covenant (see Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6). All sexual relations (whether homosexual or heterosexual) outside of the marriage covenant are condemned in Scripture as being outside the moral will of God, and thus as sinful. The only godly alternative to sex within a monogamous, heterosexual marriage is celibacy (Matt. 19:10-12). All branches of historic, traditional Christianity (whether Protestant, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox) have affirmed and continue to affirm this biblical doctrine of marriage and sexuality, as have many other world religions (Orthodox Judaism, Islam, etc.).
One would expect proponents of the normalization of homosexuality and of same-sex marriage to reject the traditional view of marriage and sexuality, just as one would expect so-called “conservative” Christians with a high view of Scripture as the Word of God to embrace the traditional view. However, recently a number of books have been published by professedly evangelical or conservative Christians claiming that Scripture, properly interpreted, does not in fact condemn commmitted, monogamous same-sex relationships. Such books include: Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee (founder and director of the Gay Christians Network) (New York, Boston, Nashville: Jericho Books, copyright 2012 by Justin Lee); Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships by James V. Brownson (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, copyright 2013 James V. Brownson); and most recently God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines (The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, copyright 2014). What does this spate of new books by professed evangelicals who are favorable toward our culture’s gay orthodoxy signal? I believe it may very well signal that the pressure which we “traditionalists” feel from our broader culture to conform to the gay orthodoxy will soon be felt even within professedly “conservative” and “evangelical” churches. And I suspect that this pressure will center on the message of the gospel. I suspect we will soon be hearing more and more pro-gay voices in the evangelical churches saying things like, “Why can’t we just stop bickering about homosexuality!? Neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality is the gospel! As long as we believe the gospel of Christ, why can’t we all get along?”
It is true that the gospel message is not the same thing as the traditional view of marriage and sexuality as explained above. Marriage and sexuality are grounded in creation. The gospel has to do with redemption. The gospel message is the good news about the free gift of salvation accomplished by the life, death and resurrection of Christ, a salvation which is offered in the gospel to all sinners, and received by faith in Christ alone. In the gospel Christ offers full and free forgiveness to all sinners who would receive Him by faith, include homosexuals. But while the gospel is not in itself a message about human sexuality (whether homo- or hetero-), at the same time homosexuality is a gospel issue, because sin is a gospel issue. The gospel message not only invites us to receive God’s free forgiveness through faith in Christ; it also demands that we repent of sin. We trust in Christ for salvation from sin, which is to say that faith and repentance always go together. And, in spite of the creative “re-imagining” and re-interpretations of Scripture offered by contemporary pro-gay writers, Scripture clearly and unambiguously condemns homosexual acts as being unnatural, contrary to God’s will, and sinful. Indeed, as the First Corinthians passage quoted above makes clear, engaging in unrepentant homosexual behavior will exclude one from the kingdom of God. Preachers, theologians and biblical scholars who try to explain away clear biblical teaching in order to promote contemporary gay orthodoxy in the church are doing the most unloving thing in the world to their homosexual neighbors: they are helping gay people who accept their teachings continue down the road to eternal destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). They are distorting the gospel in a way that leads people away from Christ, and in that sense they are guilty of preaching a false gospel and thus they fall under the apostolic anathema (Gal. 1:8-9).
In commenting on the First Corinthians passage, Rev. Sam Allberry, who himself experiences SSA, writes the following:
“Homosexual sin is serious. Paul says that the active and unrepentant homosexual (as with all the unrighteous) will not enter God’s kingdom. This is a very stark truth.
“Paul also reminds his readers not to be deceived on this point. He assumes there will be those who deny this teaching, and argue that some forms of homosexual conduct are acceptable to God. But Paul is clear: homosexual conduct leads people to destruction. To teach otherwise (as a number of purportedly Christian leaders sadly do) is tantamount to sending people to hell. This is a gospel issue…” (pp. 33-34 in Is God anti-Gay?) We in the church should welcome and come along side of those who experience same-sex attraction. The gospel is for all, including the homosexual. But at the same time we must continue to bear testimony to the Bible’s clear teaching on homosexual conduct. After all, it is a gospel issue.
Is God anti-gay? by Sam Allberry (The Good Book Company, copyright 2013 Sam Allberry/The Good Book Company)
The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message about Homosexuality by James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, copyright 2002 James R. White & Jeffrey D. Niell)
The Truth about Same-Sex Marriage by Erwin W. Lutzer (Chicago: Moody Publishers, copyright 2004 by Erwin W. Lutzer)