By: Samuel Nesan
In addressing the subject of homosexuality, I am reminded of the subtle words of the serpent to our mother Eve. The tempter began by asking “Did God actually say…?”. This question has had tremendous success in misleading the human race following the fall of Adam and Eve. After all, if one could cast sufficient doubt on what God has said, one would find the moral liberty to justify any action on the ground that God is silent on the matter. Christian apologetics is primarily committed to the firm belief that God has spoken and that we possess His revealed words in the form of Scripture.
Having studied Scripture, I hold it beyond dispute that God is not silent on the issue of homosexuality. Hence it is not the question of if God has spoken but the question of what God has spoken on homosexuality that will be the subject of my writing. I will attempt to deal with homosexuality from a biblical description of the human state and subsequently point to the hope in the gospel the Scripture offers to those who struggle with homosexual tendencies.
One of the more significant problems I have discovered in dealing with the subject of homosexuality is a poor theology of what it means to be human (anthropology). The apologist L.T. Jeyachandran describes the problem brilliantly in two ways. Firstly, he demonstrates how many of us unknowingly start our gospel from Genesis 3, following the fall of Adam and Eve. The problem with this approach, is that it paints a negative and false image of God as Creator. As one skeptic I was in dialogue with objected, “an all-powerful God created gay people and then condemned them all to hell specifically for making them that way”. Genesis 1-2 will help the objector realize that God did not create gay people. He created Adam and Eve with no sin in them. The fall of Adam and Eve corrupted God’s original design for humanity. The question we are then faced with, is why does God does condemn people to hell for being gay when it is simply a result of the fall?
The fact is nowhere in the Bible does God condemn a person for being gay or possessing homosexually inclinations. We are told in Scripture that “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). The Apostle Paul in the New Testament states: “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” (1 Corinthians 6:9). We should note that in both these passages, only the act or “practice” of homosexuality is condemned. We simply must distinguish between homosexual attractions and homosexual acts. In other words, in our fallen human nature, it is not sinful to be attracted to others of the same sex. What is sinful is the homosexual acts that stem from the attraction. The same standard applies to heterosexuals who are attracted to members of the opposite sex. While the attraction is not inherently sinful, acting upon the impulse outside a marital relationship is severely condemned in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (i.e. adultery or fornication). The gospel of Jesus Christ does not condemn a person for being gay or even demand a person cease having those desires. The gospel in fact declares that it is not humanly possible to cease those desires by our own strength and thereby points us to a perfect Savior named Jesus who entered our fallen world and who gives us His strength to overcome our weaknesses.
The second point that Jeyachandran notes is that our gospel message tends to be focused on souls to the extent that we often downplay the significance of the body. If you have been in church for some time, you may find yourself familiar with phrases such as “praying for souls” or “saving souls”. It is important to realize that the Christian hope is not primarily the salvation of our souls but the resurrection of our bodies. Paul says in his trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin “…It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (Acts 23:6). This resurrection that Paul speaks of is not a disembodied state, rather it is a bodily resurrection in the similar manner in which Jesus rose from the dead. As even Job recognized in the Old Testament, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God…” (Job 19:25-26). Therefore, the body is an important aspect of the gospel that we should by no means ignore. So, what has this got to do with a person struggling with homosexuality? Everything! Our secular culture would have us believe that unless we openly accept homosexual behavior, we would be denying those homosexually inclined a chance to pursue happiness. If there is no resurrection, then perhaps they might have a case in hand. For as the Apostle Paul admits, “If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). However, if Jesus was indeed raised bodily from the dead, then what we do with our bodies in this life will echo forever in eternity.
In conclusion, the homosexual struggle is no different from any other sexual struggle. The gospel promises the power of Christ to enable the one tempted to overcome his or her temptations. The gospel also promises the hope of the bodily resurrection to which our earthly struggles fade in comparison. As Paul states, “… provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:17-18). Believers in Jesus who suffer with homosexual desires are never alone in their suffering, they suffer in their body for the God who suffered bodily for them. The same God who rose bodily from the grave and who promises a body more glorified than Adam and Eve had in their unfallen state!