Are our Christian priorities in the right place?
I simply cannot wrap my brain around the claim that homosexuals are going to Hell. I have watched people fight over this while I have sat and wondered why many single out this particular group? Why is sex really that big a deal? Why not murder, poverty, abuse, human trafficking? It really bothers me that we claim salvation through the loving act of Jesus except for one group of people. How is it that one earthly attribute/action/concept can defy and completely nullify the loving act of an all-powerful God? Is God really so small that one human trait/act can completely undo what God did? Either God is all-powerful, and all means all (John 3:16) or it doesn’t. I am not aware of shades of beauty in salvation. If there were shades of beauty then those who are saved after being a rapist, a molester, a murderer would not have the same salvation as the missionary, the servant of God, and others whose whole lives were devoted to God.
Some say it is because homosexuals have not repented of their sin (1 Corinthians 6). Well, in my experience, every human has some unrepented sin. I do not know of a single person who is without sin and we have all fallen short (Romans 3:23) Why is it that there have become “acceptable sins?” Don’t tell me this is not the case, otherwise there would not be so many church folk who are overweight, cliquish, clannish, extremely judgmental, gossipy, hate-filled, unaccepting, abusive, addicted, making power plays, being selfish, having affairs—need I go on?
The only reason I can think of for why we are stuck here is that we have a problem with sex and a problem with pleasure. We still seem to think that holiness is human, won through pious acts instead of God-given through the act of a merciful God. (Eph. 2:8-9)
A man is to be “a man.” When two same gender people are in a relationship they are inevitably asked who is the woman and who is the man? We cannot escape our “who is on top” thinking. This bothers me because the underlying thought is still that the role of a woman is inferior and she should be on the bottom.
People focus on certain passages of scripture to defend their beliefs, yet they miss certain aspects that trouble me. We are back to the act of Christ. The Old Testament does not govern Christians. We believe Christ died and was resurrected making a new covenant, thus the “New” Testament. So when we start using NT scriptures to justify our belief about homosexuality, we get into trouble there as well. For every scripture that you tell me about how gay people are committing sin, I can give you a scripture about other sins that we are committing. Paul addressed homosexuality, and I see a lot of people quoting those scriptures, but he also upheld slavery and subordinated women. So, why is one passage more doable, quotable, and believable than others?
Since we are not consistent in our theology, we have failed to teach the world about love, forgiveness, and grace. Instead of being associated with Jesus loving spirit by our non-Christian neighbors, we are considered closed-minded, hate mongering, bible clobbering people. I am not that kind of Christian, so I do not want that to be my reputation—or the reputation of my religion.
Isn’t anyone else bothered by the fact that it is the good Christian families who are throwing away sons and daughters who come out as gay? They are the second largest homeless population in America. Congratulations Christian Church, we directly caused that demographic. Why are we not stopping hate crimes and the bullying and murder of gays? By our not stopping the hate mongering, we are just as culpable in the crimes as those who committed them. Why are we not stopping it? Why am I not stopping it?
I think in practice we Christians have two categories of sins: clean sins and dirty sins.
Clean sins are the ones I commit. Dirty sins are the ones you commit.
We don’t admit this, but we practice it.
“I simply cannot wrap my brain around the claim that homosexuals are going to Hell.”
Wrap your brain around this. EVERYONE is going to hell apart from Christ. Homosexual behavior is specifically named as a sin and those who practice it and refuse to repent remain under condemnation (John 3:18).
It isn’t those awful “conservatives” who have made homosexual behavior a hot button topic, it is those who demand that for this particular sin we have to set aside what the Bible says and normalize and even celebrate it. John wrote in his first epistle:
Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:4-10)
There is a huge difference between sinning and making a practice of it. That is true for the homosexual as well as the murderer, the adulterer or anyone who claims that God is obligated to “love” them. I think that the reason you can’t wrap your head around the idea that unrepentant sinners go to hell goes way deeper than this one issue.
Arthur Sido, you nailed it! Thank you.
Arthur, I am not sure how to read your reply (tone) and I also do not think you answered any of my questions. You just picked up your bat and started swinging. Telling me what I need to wrap my brain around and trying to pyschoanalyze me ( “I think that the reason you can’t wrap your head around the idea that unrepentant sinners go to hell goes way deeper than this one issue.) are not productive avenues to dialogue.
You must serve a puny god if a sexual human act can undo a divine saving act. I think you and I have discussed the nature of God before and if I remember correctly you are not comfortable with a God who does not control everything. I am and I think that is where the rub in this issue often lies. I believe in free will and I do not believe that a human act can undo a divine one.
You talk about sins that are acted upon yet Jesus said that if you have thought about adultery or murder, you have committed the act.
I also never called conservatives awful or placed blame for why it has become a hot button issue. Both ends of the spectrum are repelling magnets. The moderates are willing to work toward peace.
You claim that people want to set this aside and normalize it yet exegetical work consistently shows that the 6 passages used in the Bible to address homosexuality have been mis-translated.
I am curious as to why all of us keep missing the message. There are 6 passages that deal with homosexuality and there are over 300 that talk about love. We are not getting the message. Those who are judgmental and become upset over the issue are just as much living in sin as they claim gays are and I see no repentance from them so, again, I think it seems that the people excusing their behavior are those who are focused on the “Law.” To focus there is to undo what Christ did as he came to show a different law with 2 commandments. Are we Paulites or are we Christians?
Shauna, lay your burden down at the feet of Jesus. He said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). The “apostle Jesus loved,” John, made it clear: “For this is the LOVE OF GOD, that we KEEP His commandments. And HIS COMMANDMENTS ARE NOT BURDENSOME” (I John 5:3). John also wrote, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (I John 5:3). As far as sexual sin goes, it is very serious, although I agree with you that EVERY sin grieves the heart of God, and Jesus PAID for every sin. He didn’t downplay the woman’s sin who was caught in adultery. He told her to “go and sin no more.” We should “flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body” (I Cor. 6:18). So God takes this kind of sin very seriously – our bodies are the temple of His Spirit! One of the reasons for the worldwide flood in Noah’s day had to do with it, and everyone knows that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for sexual perversion (although they were also judged for not giving to the poor). Finally, I will say that we are to live by “every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4 and Luke 4:4 – notice that God doubled this admonition with the same chapter-verse references!). Jesus in His temptation was quoting what Moses wrote down in Deut. 8:3. God’s word, ALL OF IT, is our bread to live on, and Jesus is the LIVING BREAD. We must be anchored in ALL of God’s word, Genesis to Revelation (II Tim. 3:16). So I have to stand on what God said about homosexuality, that it is an “abomination.” (Lev. 18:22). You show love to a homosexual by helping him to understand that this sin is destroying him (and others participating), but God will deliver him and cleanse him with the blood of Jesus so that he is as white as snow. You are right in saying we must love them, not hate them and cast them out.
No where in the Bible does it say that the cities were destroyed for homosexuality. The sexual sins were those of rape. Exekiel 16:49 clearly states why the cities were destroyed – they were arrogant, overfed, unconcerned, and did not help the poor and needy.
The idea that a “homosexual” is going to hell is directly related to works righteousness. This is a legalistic view, that one must be “perfect” in order to “achieve” some heavenly realm. Neither of these things are promoted in Scripture.
The being alone does not send one to hell. The act (let’s say greed), unrepentant, will prevent one from entering into the Kingdom of God, but as we know — there is a difference between the Kingdom and Heaven. I would suggest a heavy study on Matthew and Revelation to understand the difference.
Yes, people apart from Christ will not go to heaven, to use the common Free Church parlance seemingly only available to us now. However, who can be apart from Christ when we are all elected within Christ?
No, God did not destroy Sodom for sexual perversion. Rather, God destroyed Sodom for their greed and inhospitality. These are not my words, but the words of the Prophet Ezekiel.
Obviously we are at an impasse here. After 40 years of inquiry into the issue of gays and the bible, the pro and anti camps are equally convinced of their position. Given that people of good will and intelligence can disagree on this, why can’t we act with grace toward another’s position? Why must we condemn one another for taking a position that is open to possible alternatives? Let’s give one another some slack and let God sort it out. In the meantime, let’s love each other and all.
AMEN!!!! Thank you, Steve
Amen! Grace toward the positions….
This is direct and powerful….Thank you for your powerful witness…You place the question of sin in proper perspective and you challenge us to treat one another w the love of God..
I usually avoid these conversations, but you have a knack, as do a few others, that gets me to thinking….and I thought I would chip in….1 Cor 6:9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
The list is long, and this is not a comprehensive one, of what “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” As of late, I have come to see this more as what I identify with, which looms larger in my soul and consciousness, the sin I struggle with or the Grace that sustains me and constantly clenses me? In Rom 7, Paul discusses his ongoing battles with his own demons and sins and goes to the point of saying that his identity is no longer in his sin, but in the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. He, in no way, embraces his sin, but it also is not a barrier to Grace because his focus is more on Grace than the sin. I don’t care who you are, you have ongojng battles with temptations of various and sundry types. What temps you may not be a temptation for another, but, if your honest, you do have your own. Grace sometimes delievers and somtimes sustains us in ongoing resistance.
So where is your focus more? On the sin that besets you or the ongoing Grace that maintains and sustains you? And for those who seemingly demand “freedom” from sin and temptation, Rememner the words of Jesus to Paul,
2 Cor 12:9″ “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
Just a few imperfect thoughts from this neck of the woods….
I think what bothers me most is the idea that mere mortals have ANY idea of who is going to heaven and why (or why not). How arrogant to think we have the capacity to choose on behalf of God. If we spent half as much time correcting ourselves as individuals as we do trying to correct others, this world would be a much better place. For me, the issue is not sexuality. It’s a general willingness to step in and try to do God’s job.
The issue of homosexuality is a hot button issue right now and it is a divisive issue. I think there are two questions that must be answered in this discussion:
1. How does the Bible define marriage?
God the Father instituted marriage in Genesis 1&2 when he brought Adam and Eve together. Jesus reaffirmed God’s intent for marriage in Matthew 19 when he was asked about divorce: “He answered, Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” There is never a place in Scripture where gay marriage is affirmed or celebrated. Biblical marriage, by definition, is marriage between a man and woman.
2. How does the Bible address the issue of homosexuality?
The Bible never speaks positively concerning homosexuality…ever. It is called sin in every instance it is mentioned. Louis Crompton (a gay man and pioneer of queer studies) stated: “Some interpreters, seeking to mitigate Paul’s harshness, have read the passage [in Romans 1] as condemning not homosexuals generally but only heterosexual men and women who experimented with homosexuality. According to this interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at “bona fide” homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstances. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any Jew or early Christian.”
“For every scripture that you tell me about how gay people are committing sin, I can give you a scripture about other sins that we are committing. Paul addressed homosexuality, and I see a lot of people quoting those scriptures, but he also upheld slavery and subordinated women. So, why is one passage more doable, quotable, and believable than others?”
I know I am a big late on this but I wanted to comment to the above point. I believe there is a key and fundamental difference between the biblical teaching on homosexuality and the teaching on Slavery and women. For both slavery and women there are contrasting verses that seem to run counter to a support for Slavery, which at the very least would put them in the category of divorce, something allowed because of our sinful nature.
These are complex areas and I cannot get into them fully, but I will summarize that for slavery the defining event of the OT was the liberation from slavery of the Egyptian people. It is true that slavery was allowed, but is was also strictly regulated to the point that a saying developed that he who buys a slave buys a master and it largely disappeared. Those who were slaves and who once freed desired to remain in slavery were to be taken a door post and have their ears pierced with an awl, hardly a ringing endorsement. Nor can the book of Philemon be read as a glowing endorsement, but rather sowed the seeds for its demise.
As for women this is also a complex issue but the Bible is clear that “Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female.”
There are no such mitigating verses for homosexuality. It is consistently condemned.
True, there are lots of other sins, and if the point was that the church’s focused too much on this sin while ignoring other sins, you might have a point. It is always easier to point out the sins of others and to see our sins as somehow not all that bad.
I believe we should see homosexuals, like all others, as sinners in need of a savior. This presents special problem in a culture that condones and even celebrates homosexuality, but then homosexuality is hardly the only sin in this category for our current culture.
But that we should have compassion and tolerances for homosexuals, does not mean we should condone their sin, much less that we should celebrate it.