I. Introduction: May 17, 2004
I begin this writing on May 17, 2004. This date has significance. For the first time any where in the United States it is considered legal for persons of the same gender to marry. Due to the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year that state can no longer bar consenting homosexuals the right to marry one another. Something of this sort was bound to happen sooner or later. The gay pro-rights advocacy groups had become too vocal and strong to prevent it from happening. Homosexuals have too many allies among heterosexuals who argue it is a violation of human rights to deny homosexuals the right to marry whoever they want. Society has continued down the path of secularization to such a degree that large numbers of our citizens either do not know what the Bible teaches about homosexual practices, or if they do, they simply do not care. Politicians being as politicians are, they are examining more and more the opinion polls and moderating their views favorable toward gay rights. I am not at all encouraged by the political direction this nation is going with regard to this issue. But as much as I am disturbed by where I think this country is headed I am even more grieved by the many professors in the churches who have abandoned the biblical prohibition against the gay life-style. They not only see nothing wrong with the practice; they often give full support to allowing it to be practiced among members of their churches. This trend toward acceptance is alarming to me. In the past, churches of all denominations have clearly given their voice against the practice, and that for good reason since the scriptures quite plainly teach against it.
The fact many professors do not see homosexuality as a sin has probably had a tremendous impact upon the general drift toward acceptance of the life-style. Think of it this way. Professing Christians: Protestant, Catholic, and the various groups of Baptists, far outnumber the totality of non-professors in this country. If professors had remained adamant in their stand against the gay life-style I am convinced this nation would never have allowed the pro-gay forces to gain such a foothold within American society. With the division that now exists, many gays feel confident they can rightly claim to be Christian all the while they continue in this sin.
II. The Historic Evolution Of Gay-Rights During The Last Fifty Years
Pardon me for doing it this way, but I will present from my own perspective a sketch of the recent historical evolution that has led up to the court decision of May 17, 2004.
Homosexual persons were given various names during the early years of my life. I heard my friends use the names but it was probably not until I reached junior high school that one of my friends, more knowledgeable in such things than I, told me what these words meant. I suppose my first impression was that the terms were describing make-believe people; persons, who, in reality did not exist. They were like vampires or werewolves. In my own protected world at the time all that I knew was that boys reached a certain age and then started liking girls. At a certain age girls started liking boys. As they both matured they married and raised their families. This was the only world I knew and homosexuality did not fit into it.
My world was shattered in the late 1950s when I was a college freshman. I was working part time at a downtown Indianapolis department store. While still on my supper break I was standing outside the store when a stranger approached me. He commented how neat I looked and he insisted I go with him to a near-by drug store so that he could buy me a fountain coke and talk to me for a while. Na´ve as I was I took him up on his offer. Of course, you know where this is leading. He propositioned me. I found out from experience that kind of werewolf really did exist. But by this time in my life I guess I must have realized there really were homosexual people in the world. I say this based upon the fact my reaction to his proposition was to start talking to him about God's judgment upon Sodom.
I cite this experience, not only because it was my first encounter with a known gay person, but also because of the discussion the two of us had together. He was fully aware what the Bible had to say about homosexual practices. He knew the scriptures taught such conduct was sinful and he acknowledged that what he was asking me to do was wrong. Although he was not about to change his life-style, at least he was admitting he was not living according to biblical principles. His life-style and mine were totally different. Yet, our standards of right and wrong were the same. Looking back over the incident I have to say he knew more about what the Bible taught on the subject than many professors do today; even people among the clergy. There is something else about this encounter that stands out in my mind. He accepted my stand without making any accusation against me that I had presented myself to him in a holier-than-thou fashion; and indeed, I hope I had not. The day in which this kind of dialogue can happen is now gone. The battle lines are too sharp. More and more it is harder for those who oppose the gay life-style to stand against the practice without being accused of bigotry and hatred toward the gay community. We think their life-style is wrong. They think it is acceptable. And why should they not? Look at all the support they get from many professing Christians who charge opponents of this life-style are bigoted, right wing extremists. They seem to have the unfounded notion the rightness or wrongness of homosexuality has always been a matter of dispute among churches; not something that had only become a controversy in the second half of the 20th century. Even liberal churchmen, who had put little emphasis upon the inspiration of scripture, and who had taught the Bible was composed of a lot of myths not too many years ago, still maintained traditional Christian ethics. Liberal churchmen today are apt to support gay rights causes, not only as it pertains to rights within society but also as it pertains to rights of fellowship within the churches.
By the 1970s the entertainment world started giving support to the gay-rights movement. The old serpent remains quite subtle (Genesis 3.1). I should have caught on at the time but I did not. It started with the sit-coms. Remember "Three's Company." In this show there was an introduction of a character that was thought to be gay. A single guy was living in an apartment with two single girls. The live-in arrangements were gaining ground at that time among the younger generation but not among the older. In order for the elderly landlord to allow this arrangement to continue he was led to thinking the guy was really gay. That made the arrangement acceptable. Then, later in the 1970s there was the sit-com, "Soap." It actually featured a role of a gay character. More and more sit-coms featured roles for gay characters. What did the sit-coms do to our minds? It took the homosexual issue from something that was viewed as serious and turned it into something that was comical. We could now laugh about it.
After desensitizing the issue the entertainment industry was ready to go to the next stage. Serious dramas were produced with story lines featuring the plight of the gay community. Shows featuring the struggles faced by gays who made public their sexual orientation were now being produced. Their romantic love was presented in a positive light against the background of the opposition, bigotry, and hatred they faced. I saw a television show not too long ago that presented this story line. The show started with the beating death of a young man by thugs a number of years ago. The reason why they beat him to death was because they discovered he was gay. Before he was killed his parents had disowned him when they learned he was gay. At the time he was murdered there were folks who knew who the killers were, including a police officer, but none were willing to report what they knew to the authorities. Then, the show moved forward to the present time. The victim's dad had died. His mother was in poor health. Realizing she did not have long to live she went back to the authorities and requested they review the case to see if they could solve the murder. She now realized how wrong she and her husband were to reject her son's life-style. She said she and her husband did not know any better back then. They thought their son's life-style was wrong. Now, she realized they were the ones who were wrong. Do you get the drift what the message was? She was a bad gal some years before, but now, thanks to a more progressive societal attitude, she was converted. The bad guys remain the ones with the old fashion idea there is something wrong with the gay life-style. See the spin Hollywood can give? When you ponder what this show was all about it should give you a new appreciation for the words of Isaiah 5.20: "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
The trend continued. Entertainers started openly admitting they were gay. Famous heterosexual personalities started defending publicly this life-style. Every opportunity was taken to exploit known incidents of heterosexual crimes against homosexuals. Forget the fact these crimes were not committed by devout heterosexuals. That did not matter. The fact decent people would not accept the rightness of gay practices still made them guilty of "hate speech." Supporters of gay rights argued that even maintaining the prohibition sets the tone for the non-devout to practice their hate.
In 1966 a book was published and had widespread circulation that I think needs to be considered in the light of current trends. The name of the book was "Situation Ethics" by Joseph Fletcher. I read this book. His thesis was that ethics should be relative to situations rather than absolute standards of right and wrong. Conduct considered wrong in some situations was right conduct in other situations. I do not know how powerful an influence this book had in creating the current trend away from absolutes. I admit the book may have simply articulated an attitude that was already shifting toward acceptance rather than causing an attitudinal change. Whatever the case may be it stands as a writing that reflects the views of many in our society today. Since there are no absolutes with regard to good and evil those who hold to a strong core of moral values are often accused of being judgmental toward others who have different values. The idea that is emerging today is that it is okay to be whatever you happen to be. Do not dare speak out against a life-style that differs from your own.
The lessening of strong absolute moral values along with the accompanying attitude of acceptance toward the way others live their lives has had a profound impact on the way many today view homosexual issues. Sadly, this impact is found within many churches. Twenty years ago it never occurred to me that there would be such controversy among Christian professors over the issue of whether or not homosexual practices should be counted acceptable behavior. Back in my earlier days I do not remember preachers having much from the pulpit to say on this subject. From time to time they would mention it in sermons when they brought up what happened to Sodom, but by and large they left the subject alone. I am not being critical about their general silence on this matter. Rather, I am mentioning this to point out that, as far as I know, the practice was so universally deemed as unchristian that preachers felt there was no need to deal with it. This was the reason for the silence. Priests and ministers did not give their support to it, and, as far as I knew at the time, if there were any gays members of churches they did not openly make their gender preferences known.
Like water in a pan on a lit stove starts out cold, proceeds to get warm, and then boils; so, in short order has the issue started boiling among professors. The issue now is live among Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Methodists; maybe others. During the summer of 2003 there was widespread coverage concerning the controversy among Episcopalians ordaining a practicing gay priest to the office of bishop. I wondered at the time why there was such a fuss. After all, his conduct was known when he was a priest and the church did nothing then about it. For all I know, the church knew about what he was before he was ordained to any office in the church but still communed with him. If they could allow his perverse behavior while he was just a member, and then a priest, why make an issue regarding him becoming a bishop? If his life-style was acceptable then, what was wrong with it now? Of course, he did have enough support in this sect to become a bishop. Although I was not surprised about his elevation, one priest supporter said something that utterly shocked me. He told the audience at the convention: "Homosexuality is not a sin. It is a gift of God!" I suppose this statement best illustrates how far Christendom has gone in the last few years. A priest of one of America's leading denominations stands before its convention and states homosexuality is not a sin. It is a heavenly gift. How can anyone expect the general secular society to reject the gay life-style when professing followers of Jesus Christ do not have a firm, consistent voice against the practice?
Much time has been spent to state how I have viewed the trends over the last fifty years. I am sure many older folk will readily agree with my stated perspective on this subject. On the other hand, younger folk have not been around long enough to have this same perspective, and they probably have no idea that the societal climate they face today was unheard of in the not-too-distant past. How quickly things have changed.
III. Pitting Issues And People Against One Another
Before examining biblical teaching on the subject I would like to deal with a couple of ways the pro-homosexual forces try to engage their opponents.
One way is illustrated by a quote from a gay man who wrote a recent editorial in the Indianapolis Star. His letter appeared under the caption: "Not Enough Acceptance Within Religion." He reacted to a woman who expressed her "fervent opposition to gay marriage." He wrote: "Much of the gay community feels oppressed enough by the Christian majority to have fled the churches of our youth, or formed our own faith communities. The Christian church's track record in understanding anyone different is abysmal." He pitted one stance against the other. The woman saw homosexuality as sinful. He made no attempt to disprove her assertion. He simply redirected the issue. He spoke of homosexuality as something that was different and attacked the Christian church's track record that oppressed and lacked understanding of this difference. The Christian church had a track record that resulted in having homosexuals flee from the churches that oppressed them. He, and others like him, were banished by the unloving treatment they were receiving by church members. He probably never wondered where the Christian church got its track record in the first place. All he could see is to oppose the gay life-style is tantamount to not showing love for people who are different. Therefore, if homosexuals wanted to consider themselves Christians, they had to start up their own churches. That would be fine if their churches would stop using Christ's name. However, they want it both ways. They want to change the religion of Christ where it does not quite fit the life-style they want to maintain. I suppose that what he said about the church's track record is an admission of what stance churches once universally prohibited. Sadly, it is not universally true today. Some practicing gay folk do not have to start their own congregations. They can simply stay where they are.
Another way the pro-homosexual forces engage their opponents is by hitting at a truth their opponents readily acknowledge. That is, those who argue against homosexuality admit they are themselves sinners. By making this point it pits one sinner against the other. There are homosexual sinners and then there are sinners who are against homosexual acts. So, what is the difference? Both groups are all sinners. What right does a sinner have to condemn another sinner? Of course, there is some value to this point. The fact we are all sinners should modify our behavior toward others, but it should never be stretched to the point of error where it disregards Christian standards of right and wrong. Should we conclude the apostles did the wrong thing when they called upon the heathen to repent? Why could they not just tell the heathens about Jesus and allow them to continue their own lustful pursuits? It is far more reasonable to acknowledge this principle: a Christian must continually deal with his own sins and also acknowledge they should speak out against a course of life that is directly rebellious against the word of God. I will not speak for all professors, but the child of God will both recognize his own sinfulness while he also seeks to maintain the standard of the word of God. Gay folk, and their heterosexual supporters, who do not care what scripture teaches, are not only sinful but they stand opposed to Christian teaching, and today, in many cases, they are even trying to reinvent Christian doctrine.
IV. The Biblical Track Record: The Way Things Should Be
I turn now to what is established in the scriptures as God's track record concerning homosexuality. Without examining the prohibition side first, we should look at the plain, fundamental biblical teachings concerning the sexes, love, marriage, and family. In these things we see one of the general purposes God had for mankind. It is found in the first chapter of the Bible: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (Genesis 1.27-28). Even preceding the commandment forbidding eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was the commandment to reproduce. The second chapter provides more details about the creation of man and woman. Genesis 2.7 states: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Verse 18 further states: "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him." Concerning the partner, verses 21-22 state: "And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man." There is a conclusion drawn from all of this: "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2.23-24). The natural pattern was established from the beginning. This pattern had the man leaving his family to be joined to his wife. There is nothing to suggest that a man is to be joined to another man, or that a woman is to be joined to another woman. The union is not homosexual. It is heterosexual. There is nothing anywhere in the Bible that contradicts this initial pattern of things. Biblical teachings concerning love, marriage, family, and the church, all spring from this basic teaching. Jesus reinforced the initial order of things when He answered the inquiries of the Pharisees concerning divorce (Matthew 19.3-9). The commandment to honor father and mother (Exodus 20.12), and the teaching that both bishops and deacons are to be the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3.2, 12) are likewise in line with heterosexual union. No allowances were made for homosexual unions.
V. The Biblical Track Record: Prohibitions And Attempts To Explain Them Away
I shall now turn my attention to God's biblical track record of prohibitions against homosexual conduct; prohibitions that pro-gay supporters like to ignore, or explain away, or, with regard to some unbelievers, treat as divinely uninspired rules that modern man would do better to disregard. I have no desire to quote scripture to the non-professors. The Bible means nothing to them anyway. But as I have said before my greatest controversy is with professors who try to justify the homosexual life-style. Let them try to evade the truth that is so plainly set forth against the practice in the word of God. And let them try to find one verse in the scriptures that presents homosexuality in a positive light. There is none. It is for this reason saints in all periods of human history were taught homosexual practices were forbidden. To the person who wrote his editorial letter in the Indianapolis Star, this is the reason for the Christian church's track record. The Church did not develop this out of the clear blue sky; those who profess Christ got it from the Bible. Homosexual acts were considered evil in times before the Law, during the Law, and then after the Law gave way to these Gospel times. For this reason it is no wonder that throughout the centuries from the time of Christ into the 20th century no group of Christian professors; Catholic, Protestant, or the various kinds of Baptists, gave support to the practice. The cultures of every nation influenced by Christian teaching (Christendom) had built within the fabric of its social order both prohibitions and inhibitions against this sort of life-style. Churches would not allow it. Civil laws forbid its practice. Families taught against it. All institutions of society condemned it. And here are the reasons why.
Prior to the Law, there was Sodom. The account is given in Genesis, chapters 18 and 19. Three men stopped by where Abraham lodged on their way to Sodom. I call them "men" based upon Genesis 18.2. Actually, there is more to it than that. Two of them are also referred to as "angels" in Genesis 19.1. By biblical definition an angel is a messenger. An angel can be either a member of the heavenly host who came down with a message or else an actual person called to deliver a message. For example, John the Baptist was an angel in the latter sense (see Mark 1.2). However, the main point of interest is that the third man was Jehovah. Let me prove this by the following information. The King James Version of the Old Testament is a translation that generally follows the Septuagint. The Septuagint was the Old Testament translation from Hebrew into Greek that was the commonly used scriptures during the days of Christ and the apostles. It often took the Almighty's name and translated it into the Greek as either Lord or God. Although our English translators did the same thing they left us with a way of knowing when the original Hebrew manuscripts had actually referred to the Lord's name. Here is how they did it. When you see each letter capitalized: "LORD" instead of "Lord" or "GOD" instead of "God" you know Jehovah is the one being identified. Notice how the first verse of chapter 18 introduces God's appearance to Abraham: "And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre." Then, throughout these two chapters you will find references to Him as LORD indicating He was manifest to Abraham as one of the three men. Notice Genesis 18:20-22: "And the LORD said. Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD." Of course, believers will recognize this language is anthropomorphic. No true believer will think God was ever uncertain what the situation really was in Sodom. Check Genesis 13.13: "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." This was before the time the Lord visited Abraham. Yet, He knew what kind of people lived in Sodom. It only confirms what Solomon said: "the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings" (Proverbs 5.21). The great truth is that He took on the appearance of a man to talk to Abraham. The other two men left for Sodom. Jehovah stayed for a while longer with Abraham. It was during this time that Abraham made his plea on behalf of any righteous in Sodom (verses 23-32). Think of it. He is not making this petition as you and I might do with our heads bowed and our eyes closed in prayer. He is actually speaking face to face with Jehovah God.
After Jehovah assured Abraham He would not destroy Sodom if there were ten righteous souls in the place, He departed from Abraham (verses 32-33). Now, notice the next chapter, verses 24-25: "Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." There were no secondary causes here. God did this directly. Clearly, there were not even ten righteous souls in these places. When Abraham arose early in the morning he saw signs of horrible destruction. There was smoke like the smoke of a furnace rising in the sky all around where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood.
What evil did these people do that brought upon them Jehovah's severe judgment? I have no doubt the whole land was given over to all kinds of wickedness. Yet, it was one particular sin that is highlighted. When the two messengers arrived in Sodom Lot made them guests in his home. Before they turned in for the night the scripture stated: "the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them" (Genesis 19.4-5). I trust everyone realizes these men are not asking that the guest be brought forth just so they could give them greetings and get acquainted with them. The idea conveyed is that they desired to engage with them in a sexual way. It was to know them in the same way that "Adam knew Eve his wife" when "she conceived and bare Cain" (Genesis 4.1). Only in this case it was homosexual activity that they desired. Otherwise, what follows makes no sense. Notice how Lot reacted to their desire to "know" them. Lot went outside, shut the door of the house behind him, and tried to reason with the mob: "I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof" (Genesis 19.6-8). Can anyone fail to see that it was carnal knowledge that these men desired? Lot would not have thought to call what they wanted wickedness if it was simply getting acquainted that they desired. But there is more. See how great a sin Lot thought this to be. He saw it so evil that he was willing even to forfeit to them his two virgin daughters. These travelers were guests in his home. To give them up to these desires was worse than giving up his two daughters. This is a powerful statement illustrating how evil the desires of these men were. You see now the beginning of God's track record of prohibitions against homosexuality.
There are several attempts made to argue that the sin of Sodom was not the sin of homosexuality. I heard one television talk show guest contend the men of Sodom were simply lustful. They wanted sexual encounters with Lot's guests without building any permanent relationships with the men. Had their desires been based upon developing loving relationships there would have been no sin. Just as it is wrong for heterosexual people today to seek one night stands with persons of the opposite sex, it was also wrong for the men of Sodom to seek sexual encounters with men they did not even know. That was what made it wrong. I might point out that the gentleman who took this position offered no basis for what he was saying. I think he just wanted to place a spin on the events that satisfied his own acceptance of the gay life-style. However, if this were the case Lot would have been guilty of promoting the same sin. After all, his daughters were virgins. If the mob had taken him up on his offer, would this not also have resulted in the same lustful arrangement this gentleman was contending was Sodom's sin?
Another argument used against the view homosexuality was the issue in Sodom is found in the line that the reason why Lot called the mob's desired actions wicked was because what they wanted violated the customs of hospitality. They argue it had nothing to do with homosexuality. The ancient customs of the Middle East required a host to take special care of his guests. The mob's desires were in violation of this standard. Therefore, Lot had the responsibility to protect his guests. This is the reason why he was even willing to give up his own daughters in exchange for the safety of the men he was sheltering. At least, there is some scriptural support for this position. When Lot expressed his willingness to forfeit his own daughters to these wicked men he said: "only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof" (Genesis 19.8). Having said this, however, no one should think a lack of hospitality was the sole issue here. Inhospitable conduct simply compounded the sin. According to Jude 7 it was not a lack of hospitality but gross sexual misconduct that brought judgment upon Sodom: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." So, according to the New Testament the judgment upon these places resulted from the fact the inhabitants gave themselves over to fornication.
Another argument that tries to weaken the view that homosexuality was Sodom's chief sin is found among those who cite Ezekiel, chapter 16. In this chapter the Lord spoke of a female infant who was born under pitiful circumstances but was raised by a gracious caregiver to adulthood. This story illustrated the Jewish people's ingratitude toward the Lord. The female represented the Jewish nation, and the caregiver who later married her represented the Lord. During the course of making the point the Lord referred to Samaria as the Jews' older sister and to Sodom as the younger sister. Then, with reference to Sodom, verse 49 states: "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." They make this point. The verse mentions Sodom's sins: pride, full nourishment, leisure, idleness, and neglect of the needy but it says nothing about homosexuality. This should show homosexuality was not the big deal people try to make of it. So goes the argument.
Those who take this view are too careless with their examination of the context and too negligent to link scripture with others that provide the complete view concerning Sodom's wickedness. Notice verse 50: "And they were haughty." The sins mentioned in verse 49 were sins that simply further compounded God's judgment upon them. The Hebrew word for "haughty" comes from a root word meaning "to soar." First, they had pride; now they reached the point of high-mindedness. Notice further verse 50 and see where the haughtiness led them: "and committed abomination before me." Cross-reference this language to the events described in Genesis, chapter 19, and a greater picture of Sodom's sins emerges. Lot described the desired actions of the mob as wicked (verse 7). Cross-reference Ezekiel's language to the Law, where both Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13 refer to homosexual acts as "abomination." Do not these texts give us the idea what the abomination described by Ezekiel was? Go back to Genesis, chapter 19, and see the evidence of these men's haughtiness in the face of Lot's rebuke. They said of Lot: "This fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge" (verse 9). Does this remind you of anything? How often do you hear it said of those who speak against homosexual acts: "well, who are you to judge?" Read to the conclusion of verse 50 and see what happened to Sodom in the end: "Therefore I took them away as I saw good." How blind does one have to be not to see that the one sin mentioned in Sodom was the mob's desire to "know" the men who stayed in Lot's home (Genesis 19.5)? And how plain does scripture need to be for people to see that Ezekiel's terminology concerning taking away Sodom, Gomorrah, and the cities of the plain relates to the description of destruction that came upon them as recorded in Genesis 19.24-25?
What is established in Ezekiel 16.49-50 is that Sodom did not start practicing homosexual acts one day out of the clear blue sky. The people evolved to that wickedness. Pride, leisure, self-pleasure led to more and greater sins. Not restricting homosexual practices was simply the outgrowth of their previous sins. It was homosexual acts that finally spelled their doom. There is a lesson here for this nation as well. We have not reached the point of wickedness where we are today all at once. It started much earlier than that. When self-discipline gave way to self-indulgence in a good portion of our society the path was laid for the practice of more and more abominations.
Continue to review God's track record as He revealed His Law unto Moses. The Law did not remove the prohibition against homosexual acts. Among the many commandments regulating and forbidding various types of sexual practice was the commandment: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Leviticus 18.22). The seriousness of breaking this law and other laws in this part of the revelation is stated in verse 29: "For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people." There is a restatement of the prohibition in Leviticus 20.13: "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." The language is plain. This sin was a capital offense. Thus, the track record has expanded into the period of the Law.
There are a couple of arguments used to downplay the seriousness of homosexuality as it pertains to what the Law had to say. One argument holds that homosexuality must not be any worse than violating the laws concerning things counted unclean in the animal kingdom. Yes, both Leviticus 18.22 and 20.13 speak of "abomination" for men to lie with men, but repeatedly throughout Leviticus, chapter 11, reference is made to the abomination of eating things deemed unclean (verses 10-11, 13, 20, 23, and 41-43). Even pork (swine-verse 7), which is often a regular part of Gentiles' diet, was considered unclean for the Hebrews. However, one can easily reply to this argument. Although eating things unclean was deemed abomination, it does not appear to reach the same level of transgression as the sin of homosexuality. On what basis do I say this? It is this. The Law often sheds light upon how unholy an act is by stating what is to be done to the wrongdoers. Chapter 11 indeed does speak of the unfitness of unclean things but there is nothing to indicate the violators were to be put to death. However, as we have shown by scripture, men who commit homosexual acts were to be put to death. This should show us that the two kinds of abominations were not reckoned to be on the same level.
The other argument I have heard holds that the Law only prohibited homosexuality when it was a part of pagan ritual. It is pointed out that before the Law said, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Leviticus 18.22), it stated in the prior verse: "And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD." What is argued here may be true. One can readily see in the term "sodomites" a reference to the inhabitants of Sodom, and this term is found in several places in the Old Testament, such as I Kings 14.24 where the sodomites were linked with "the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel. However, even if it is allowed there is linkage between pagan rites and homosexual practices, it is a weak argument to hold homosexuality is only evil when it is a part of this practice. Rather, anything associated with heathenism should raise a red flag concerning how evil the acts themselves really are. Beside, it should be noted in the 20th chapter no such connection is to be found. There, verse 13 stands with other types of forbidden sexual behavior, and nothing is said about heathen ritual. The point is, whether linked to paganism or not, the practice is evil.
The record of God's word continues to track. During the time of the Law, but before the period of the monarchy, the Bible presents another case that occurred in Israel that has much in common with what happened in Sodom. The account is given in Judges, chapter 19. A certain Levite traveled to Bethlehem-judah to be reconciled with his concubine who had left him and went back to her father's house. The two were apparently reconciled and after remaining in her father's home for a number of days they finally departed. It was late in the day when they came to Gibeah. The Levite's intention was for them to spend the night outside, but an elderly man came along before they completely settled for the evening and he insisted that they spend the night with him. The invitation was accepted. However, as it had been in Sodom, as the evening passed, certain men of the city surrounded the home, beat at the door, and insisted: "Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him" (Judges 19.22). These men are referred to as the "sons of Beliah." This expression is used in other places in the Bible. It refers to very evil men. As had been the case with Lot the old man felt it was his duty to provide protection to his guest. He "went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing" (verses 23-24).
The significance of these three verses should not be lost to the reader. As it was the case in Sodom it was the male guest these men desired. The reaction of the host was similar to the reaction of Lot. He pleaded that they not do "so wickedly;" something that he called "so vile a thing." Along the same lines as Lot had done, he offered them his maiden daughter. However, he offered more. He offered them also the guest's concubine. It is important to note this. It should demonstrate that there was more than just an issue of hospitality here. He saw homosexuality itself as the vile thing. If not, since she was also a guest, why would he offer the man's concubine to the sons of Beliah?
Although there is more to this account, I will not linger long on it. It is in the part already reviewed that the issue of homosexuality is brought to light. Following verse 24 there was a twist in the account. The guest gave up his concubine to the men. They abused her all night, and later she died. Since Gibeah was a part of the land allotted to the Benjamites, the rest of the book of Judges describes the rage the other tribes of Israel had toward them, and how the rest of Israel nearly destroyed them for what they had done.
The record continues to track into the New Testament. We come now to view a few verses that are so clear that if anyone has presented arguments to twist their meaning I am not aware of them.
When Paul traced the continuing decline of the true knowledge of God among the nations, he wrote: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet" (Romans 1.26-27). His language should stand plain enough for the reader to understand the meaning. However, if there is anyone who wants to contend the prohibitions had always previously been directed solely against males, I will point out that verse 26 spoke of the vile affections of lesbians as well. Since Paul is presenting this from the historical perspective it should be evident lesbianism also had been viewed in the past as a vile thing.
Paul wrote in I Corinthians 6.9: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" Among the various acts of unrighteousness pointed out in the verse is: "abusers of themselves with mankind." Then, in his letter to Timothy Paul noted among those that do things "contrary to sound doctrine" were men "that defile themselves with mankind" (I Timothy 1.10). In case there is anyone who wonders what Paul meant when he wrote about the abuse/defilement with mankind, I will point out that the Greek word in both cases is "arsenokoites." This word means, "lying with a male."
I had previously cited Jude 7: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." I will now more fully exam the passage to show how horribly sinful homosexual acts are deemed to be. The word "fornication" appears in various places throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. However the word used in verse 7 is used only this one time. The Greek word usually used in the New Testament is "porneuo." It has reference to unlawful sexual acts. The reader should recognize a word we commonly speak today in our English language. It is pornography. This was taken from this Greek word. The word used in verse 7, however, is "ekporneuo." According to Strong's Analytical Concordance this word means: "to be utterly unchaste; give self over to fornication." In short, it is fornication to the very highest degree. It consisted of "going after strange flesh." The adjective "strange" comes from the Greek word "heteros." This word not only means "strange" but it also means "different" and "other." So, for example, we read about John the Baptist: "And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people" (Luke 3.18). The same word is used in this text as is used in verse 7, but here it is translated "other." It would have carried the same meaning had it been translated "different." The reader should also recognize this Greek word. It shows up in the prefix of the word "heterosexual." When we talk about people being heterosexual we are identifying them as being people whose sexual orientation is directed toward members of the other gender. However, no one can reasonably argue that Jude is writing that the men of Sodom were going after gender opposite persons. The text from Genesis is quite clear it was men desiring men. Therefore, the point of reference in verse 7 is this. The men of Sodom were excessive in their fornication. The normal is that men seek women. However, these men were so perverse in their sexual drive they sought a different way to satisfy their drive. They sought to do what Leviticus 18.22 prohibited: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
Looking beyond scripture, I am aware of a few other arguments proponents of the gay life-style advance to support their position. They imply biblical reasoning but their arguments are not directly taken from scripture. One argument is an argument from silence. Proponents contend Jesus never said homosexual acts were wrong. Therefore, if Jesus did not condemn them during His earthly sojourn, what right does anyone else have to do so? Arguments from silence usually are baseless arguments of last resort. In response, I might point out that Jesus never said it was wrong for sons and mothers, or daughters and fathers to develop incestuous relationships; yet we should not conclude from this that Jesus approved incest. I reckon the reason why the Lord did not deal with the homosexual issue while He was on earth was for the same reason He did not deal with incest. The Jews were not debating over the rightness or wrongness of either of these issues at that time. His generation did face other transgressions but these were not among them. His generation did not allow these things to be openly practiced. Beside this, as we have already shown, Jesus did teach that from the beginning the binding relationship was between one man and one woman (Matthew 19.3-9). By reinforcing this kind of relationship it seems hard to argue Jesus' teachings would have consented to homosexual relationships.
Further, pro-gay rights advocates like to try tactics of diversion. These approaches do nothing to promote legitimate debate about whether or not the gay life-style is sinful but rather, they seem to divert attention from the subject altogether. One argument is that the Bible teaches slavery. Now, why should the topic of slavery be raised when it is homosexuality that is on the table for discussion? I'll tell you why this is brought up. It allows for the presumption to be made that anyone who holds the biblical position concerning homosexuality will have to admit the Bible also teaches what today is nearly universally recognized as the wrongfulness of slavery. But this in turn raises another question. What is the underlying motive behind diverting to the subject of slavery? The only reason I can think of is that it is a way to put down the Bible. It is an attempt to show the Bible is out of touch with modern man. Biblical teachings may have worked for previous generations but they are no longer valid for this present age. As our culture has rejected slavery, we ought also to realize that any passages that teach homosexuality is wrong should equally be rejected. At least there does appear to be in this argument an acknowledgement that the Bible prohibits gay conduct. Since I do not want to get too involved myself in this diversion, I will not linger long on the point, but let me advise the reader how to answer the statement about slavery. Ask the person to tell you specifically what the scriptures do say about slavery, and ask him to cite for you the passages that deal with the issue of slavery. My guess is, he will be completely unable to do so. He used it solely as one of his talking points, but if he knew what the Bible taught on this subject he would never have tried to use this argument in the first place.
The other diversion that is used is found in the statement that to allow gay marriages is no more destructive to marriage than what we have already made it in today's society. To this I will admit the observation at least has some merit. The merit is in the fact there is a lot wrong with how men and women conduct their relationships with one another in modern times. With all of the affairs between the unmarried, with children born out of wedlock, with the "live-ins" either preceding marriage or with "live-ins" that end before marriage can take place, with all of the adulterous affairs, and with the high number of divorces, it is hard to argue that there is a whole lot going right regarding the institution of marriage today. Where the argument has no merit is found in the fact it diverts the attention again from the legitimate question about homosexuality. I'll grant professing Christians have a lot to get in order with regard to what the scriptures teach about sex, love, and marriage, and what they tolerate among their members, but it sure allows for no excuse to tolerate homosexual acts.
There is neither an argument from the Christian point of view that can legitimize the gay life-style, nor a scripture that speaks of homosexual acts in a positive light. During the convention in which the gay priest was being ordained an Episcopalian bishop a television reporter was interviewing a woman priest who was a supporter of this ordination. The reporter quoted a couple of texts against the practice, and asked her to comment upon them. She would not do so. Her response was that it is wrong for a person to take just a select verse or two out of the Bible to form a biblical doctrine. The reporter then asked her to give him a biblical basis for acceptance of the gay life-style. She was completely unable to cite any favorable verse. Let this be clearly noted. There are a number of verses that speak against the practice. There is not a single verse that speaks favorably of the practice. This life-style was considered a great evil in all ages of human existence. It was deemed evil before the Law, during the dispensation of the Law, and after the Law gave way to the Gospel Age. No wonder in all previous periods of the Christian Age, all groups of professors have taught against gay practices. Yes, there is a track record. It is a track recorded founded upon the word of God. It is a track record that clearly and consistently forbids the practice. The wonder comes from the fact blindness has been placed upon many professors today, including clergy, that they see nothing wrong with living the homosexual life-style. I drove by a church meeting place not too long ago. The writing on the billboard went something like this: GAY MARRIAGES! WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?"
VI. The Mind-Set Of Those Who Claim Christianity And Gay Life-Style Compatibility
The view that the gay life-style is no violation of Christian principles goes something like this. We are all beloved children of God. God made some homosexuals and it is not unchristian for them to live in accordance with their natural gender orientation, and, for that matter, other Christians should accept them as they are rather than condemn the way they live. Since it is fitting for them to live as they were made there is nothing wrong with them living this kind of life. After all, based upon the teachings of Jesus, His religion was founded upon principles of inclusion of people, not exclusion. So goes the argument.
This is the approach made by many Christian professors, both homosexual and heterosexual, to justify the acceptance of practicing homosexuals within the "so called" Christian community. The problem is, this view completely disregards all of the biblical prohibitions against this life-style. It is as though the Bible had nothing to say about the matter. Homosexuals are reinforced with the pernicious idea there is nothing wrong with the way they live. Well did Solomon write: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14.12).
With regard to the argument all humanity make up the beloved family of God, let this be said. To rightly say that all mankind is God's creation is not the same as saying we are all God's beloved children. Paul wrote, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8.9). Jesus told the Jews: "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do" (John 8.44). Paul called Elymas, the sorcerer, who was a man full of subtlety and mischief, an enemy of righteousness, and perverter of the Lord's right ways; that he was a "child of the devil" (Acts 13.8-10). In I John 3.10, the apostle made a distinction between the children of God and the children of the devil: "In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." These verses should be plain enough to show that not all human creatures are God's children.
Add to this, contrary to popular belief today, the Bible teaches God does not love every one. Try Psalms 5.5-6: "The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man." Try again Paul's reference to Malachi 1.2-3: "As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Romans 9.13). Finally, try Jesus' words concerning those who had the Lord on their lips but who did not do His Father's will: "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7.21-23). Not only do we have in this text another instance in which the verb, "know" was used with reference to "love," howbeit, it was used in a negative way to show a lack of love; but, by adding the word, "never," it is shown that He at no time loved them.
So, the core of the argument is shown to be out of line with biblical teaching. God neither loves nor counts every body as His children. Therefore, enough with the nonsense God wants total inclusion.
It should also be observed there is nothing in the reasoning of the pro-gay forces that requires a change in behavior. It is amazing how repentance is omitted. Jesus' words: "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9.13) stands not only as an indictment against the self-righteous, but it also expresses the fact that He calls sinners to live differently than before. The pro-gay groups will not have it this way. They can handle the fact Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman but they can readily disregard His words to her: "go, and sin no more" (John 8.11). They can include all kinds of people in their fellowship at the exclusion of repentance. What was Paul thinking of when he wrote to the church at Corinth about the report one of the members was a fornicator? He told them: "put away from among yourselves that wicked person" (I Corinthians 5.13). How dare him! Oh but, professors can readily disregard the need for repentance. They will take the person as he is and be content to leave him that way.
Having said this, I guess I must have forgotten a fact myself. They do require repentance, don't they? In the topsy-turvy world in which we live today it is the people who hold to the standards of Christian ethics that need to get their act together and change. Forget the track record of the Bible. To let them tell it, that is a problem with the church today, and it needs to be changed. Christians just simply have this awful track record of not tolerating what the Bible itself did not tolerate.
VII. Homosexuality And Free-Will
Another part of the line of reasoning favoring acceptance of the gay life-style is the stated view that homosexual persons are made the way they are and there is nothing they can do about it. For this reason Christians should accept this fact and extend to them the full arm of fellowship. This is an interesting point. Most people tend to believe in man's freewill. Yet, when freewill gets in the way of what they otherwise would believe they will readily abandon it and hold to some form of determinism. In this case the argument is, since it is outside the realm of choice for the homosexual person to change his orientation, it should not be counted sin for the person to live the way God created him. Don't impose absolute standards. Forget the fact scripture after scripture show the life-style is sinful. Since they are as they are by nature Christians need to account for that fact and change their religion to accommodate them. After all, how can anyone count it sin for homosexuals to do what is natural for them? Of course, the problem is, the Bible never looks at it this way. Homosexuals are not the only ones having to deal with their natural inclinations. All mankind are in the same boat; they are sinners (Romans 3.23). Sin is a part of their nature, and even present believers as having been "by nature the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2.1-3). Whether we are homosexual or heterosexual, or whether we are any other category of people, we commit sinful acts. Since we do so by virtue of what we are, should we argue we ought not to count our actions sin? I think not. Just like the man who borrows from another with promise to pay the debt by a certain date is not relieved of his obligation if he is hopelessly unable to pay; so, the sinner is still countable for his actions, even if he is hopelessly unable to separate himself his sinful nature.
Then there is the position taken by many professors on the other side. They reject determinism. They argue that gays are the way they are by free choice.
May Old School Baptists never be trapped between these two positions: determinism leading to a view of no accountability or freewill leading to a view there is no innate orientation to certain perversions. Rather, we must never say the homosexual behavior is acceptable, but, by the same token, we must never say gays' gender preferences result from freewill. In place of these two extremes we should take the before mentioned view of human depravity and argue the scripture teaches that all of Adam's offspring are by nature totally corrupt. By total, I mean sin affects the total personality of each individual. This includes the will. The will is not free because it is in the bondage of sin. Mark Paul's words: "the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh, cannot please God" (Romans 8.7-8). These very words argue against freewill. If aliens against God can alter their condition in favor of God by freewill, they then would be able to please God while they are yet in the flesh. This text in Romans denies both mankind's willingness and ability to make this sort of change.
Why should we attribute sexual preference to freewill? When a homosexual person says that he/she experiences no sexual preference toward members of the opposite sex but rather toward his/her own sex, I think it is quite hard for someone not in that person's shoes to dispute the statement. Who are heterosexual people to say the experiences of gays must conform to theirs? A number of years ago my wife made fun of me because she would often find me wearing my glasses down on my nose. I did it because I am far-sighted, but at the time I did not need bifocals. I could see quite well at a distance but when I needed to do things close at hand, such as reading, I would not be able see well without glasses. The particular lenses I had were only suitable for close at hand vision. Trying to see through them would cause things at a distance to be blurry. Therefore, the natural thing for me to do when I was involved in back and forth close and distant viewing was to wear the glasses down on my nose. I could then look down through the glasses to see things near and then look up above for distant viewing. I tried to explain this to my wife. She did not understand. That is, she did not until the same thing happened to her. I then started noticing she would wear her glasses at times down on her nose. The point is, we have no right to tell someone that what he experiences is not really what he is experiencing. I have heard some gay people ask the question: "with all of the societal taboos against homosexuality, do you think I would choose this orientation?" I think the question has validity. I, therefore, will not question the fact of their stated feelings. I may not hold to the rightness of their feelings but that does not mean I should doubt they have them.
No one who believes in human depravity should doubt that man's sinful nature might be directed in such a perverse manner. If mankind by nature is "dead in trespasses and sins," so that they walk along a worldly course, and fulfill fleshly lusts, as the Bible teaches (Ephesians 2.1-3), why should it be counted impossible for some among the human race to have such perverse feelings? Even Paul, when tracing the continuing decline of the true knowledge of God, made this statement concerning false worshippers: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections." Then, he proceeded to show these vile affections included homosexuality: "for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working that which is unseemly" (Romans 1.26-27). God gave them up to these perverse desires. I, therefore, have no reason to doubt that some men and women naturally experience this type of fleshly corruption.
In his book, "The Sovereignty Of God," Arthur Pink made the valid point it is the heart (the seat of affections), and not the will (the seat of choice), that controls our conduct. Contrary to popular belief it is not the other way around. In fact, the will follows where affections direct. Try it out for yourselves. Why do you do what you do? Why do you even will to do the things you do? Does it not result from desires? My favorite vegetable is green beans. I hate broccoli. Yet, I never remember sitting down one day and deciding to love green beans while hating broccoli. Whatever it is in my system, I naturally found one vegetable to be favorable and the other unfavorable. My choice follows from this principle. Have before me at the table both green beans and broccoli and you can well imagine which food item I will take and which food item I will reject. I suppose I would only choose to eat broccoli if I was faced with the choice, eat it or die of starvation. Then, and only then, might I choose to eat broccoli and live.
Although I do not believe in freewill I do believe people make choices based upon the direction of their hearts. I will not deny the claim of those who say the core of their sexual orientation is toward their own gender. I also realize that many will choose their own natural course to live the gay life-style. The choice they make follows from their abnormal affections just as heterosexuals choose a life-style consistent with their sexual orientation. What I will not accept is that the gay life-style will continue to be put in practice when one experiences sovereign grace. These lusts may continue in their old fleshly man, but the work of saving grace will produce this new principle: "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Corinthians 5.17). Old principles dominate in those who do not have God's Spirit. It is this: "they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh," but this new principle works within the children of God: "they that are after the Spirit" mind "the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8.5). The conclusion of the matter is this: "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8.13-14). You may notice the apostle did not spell out how the child of God will manipulate the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the body. The reason is, because no child of God has ever figured out yet how to work God's Spirit to his own advantage. The Spirit does not make the flesh any better than it was before. The flesh remains as evil as it was before the Spirit breathed new life within. But the work of the Spirit remains as holy as it was the moment God renewed the spirit within. Day by day the flesh tries to get the upper hand. Through all of the trials, temptations, weaknesses, and, yes, sins the child of God faces, there is yet this work within that leads him to mortify the deeds of the flesh. The saints face this warfare to the end of their earthly existence. This may be a very weak explanation of the principle work of grace that is established within God's elect but I hope every one born of the Spirit will identify with what is said.
I will allow there may be those with homosexual feelings who are born of God's Spirit, but if this is the case, our manner of doctrine must be that God will give them a heart of self-denial and a love for that which is consistent with holy and heavenly things. They most certainly will not consent to live in a way that the word of God has consistently referred to as abominable conduct. I sometimes have wondered if some brethren in the past who never married remained single simply because their sexual orientation favored their own gender; yet, their love of Christ and faithfulness to the laws of Zion were strong enough to keep them from fulfilling their lusts.
VIII. Conclusion: More From The Epistle Of Jude
Notice that Jude wrote of his need to write to the beloved because "there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 4). Even during apostolic times apostasy had raised its ugly head among the churches. False teachers crept in among the brethren. They were ungodly men ordained to condemnation. They brought with them their false doctrines that were denials of our Lord. Examine the doctrine these men proclaimed. They talked about grace but turned it into wantonness. Does this sound familiar? The same falsehood is found in many places today as well. Saving grace is for everyone who will make a decision for Christ. From this springs all sort of doctrines, including among some the idea no repentance is required from people who live their lives in rebellion against the word of God. On the other hand, sound doctrine concerning God's grace teaches "that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2.12-14). Apply Jude's words to what is taught concerning those who continue in the homosexual life-style. It is as if the present day false teachers are saying practicing homosexuals do not have to change their ways. Christ loves them. They are His creation. Don't refuse to accept them. Allow them fellowship. In short, their form of doctrine turns God's grace into lasciviousness just as it was in Jude's day.
Note the contrast between these frauds and those who truly have saving grace. Whereas these ungodly fellows were before ordained to condemnation, the Lord's sheep hear Christ's voice and follow Him and receive eternal life (John 10.27-28). The frauds are left in such blindness they cannot even pick up the fact the fornicators of Sodom, Gomorrha, and near-by cities, were set as an example of the "vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7). Clearly, Jude had nothing good to say about these ungodly men (verses 10-19).
Notice further. After writing about these ungodly teachers he turned his attention away from them and directed his focus upon another sort of people: "And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (verses 22-23). Although these people had been under the influence of false doctrine they had something the false teachers never had. Sin troubled them. Jude advised these souls were to be viewed in a different light. Treat some with compassion. Their tender hearts might require this. Give stern warnings to others. They might require this approach. Whatever method needs to be taken, the aim is toward converting the wayward soul, not consenting to continuing sin. Although firmness required for some offenders may not openly show the Christian's compassionate side, if appropriately applied, his words and actions will be as much motivated by compassion as his tender side is plainly shown toward those who do not require such stern treatment. When the Lord so directs his people to deal with those who are to be delivered from the power of sin the words of Solomon in Proverbs 15.23 are indeed shown to be true: "a word spoken in due season, how good is it!"
Those who have experienced God's sovereign grace are taught they cannot become high-minded. They realize that without God's grace they too would perish in their sins as the world of the ungodly. The only thing that made a difference between Jacob and Esau, Moses and Pharaoh, Peter and Judas was the electing, redeeming, and quickening grace of God. Among the many strong words Paul wrote in Romans, chapter 9, verse 21 stands out as a profound truth: "Hath not the potter power over the clay; of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" The child of grace cannot help but contemplate the implications of these words. "I could have been the drunkard. I could have been the drug addict. I could have been the habitual criminal. And yes, I could have been the unrepentant homosexual were it not for the sovereign purposes of our great, eternal Potter. And further, as we look, not only upon ourselves, but our brethren as well, we must consent to the truth of the words Paul quoted from Isaiah: "Except the Lord of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrha" (Romans 9.29). We must reckon the fact that God would have been just as holy and good as He is if He had seen all of us in the same light as He had seen the people of Sodom and Gomorrha and destroyed us as He did them.
What is more, sin still lingers in our lives. It continues to molest us. We know what John spoke of when he said: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1.8-9).
We are left with two separate teachings for which we must find a balance. On the one hand, we cannot consent to wickedness. On the other hand, we cannot deny the fact that we ourselves are sinners. I do not have the words to describe how we can reach a perfect balance between these two teachings. However, we neither should be too condemning of those whose sins we cannot allow nor should we be too easy on ourselves to consent unto our own transgressions. It may be hard to deal kindly toward frauds among professors and it may not be easy to deal with those who are "in your face" with their wickedness among non-professors. However, allow the fact there are those to whom we must deal differently. Show me a person whose sins trouble him and I sense I have found one that I can identify with and maybe even find a likeminded spirit. I can have more compassion toward homosexual persons who confess their guilt and fleshly troubles due to their perverse and sinful affections than I can toward both heterosexual and homosexual persons who think the only course to pursue is rewriting the religion of Christ. My continual struggles with my own flesh may not involve inordinate affection toward my own gender but I do have other molestations within that make me continually in need of the Lord's mercies. As I hope that others will show a kindly spirit when they deal with me, a sinner; may I show equal kindness unto others who groan in their flesh by virtue of their sins.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon us all.
David K. Mattingly