What’s So Gay About The Bible (Final Thoughts)
It’s been quite a journey for me, looking at these scriptures and studying them more in depth than I have before. This will be my last blog on the topic of what the Bible does and doesn’t say about Homosexuality. I close by looking at Jude 6-7, Romans 1: 26-27, and then will wrap up with some closing thoughts.
Jude 6-7 (NRSV)
6 And the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgement of the great day. 7 Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
The church in its earliest days participated in celebrations called love feasts. Jude seems to be concerned with sexual immorality taking place during these times. In verse 4 the writer speaks of ungodly intruders who have stolen in among the believers perverting the grace of God into licentiousness, denying the church’s only Lord and Master Jesus.
Although there is much debate about this, I believe that the sexual immorality described is homo as well as hetero-sexual. The only reason for some to think otherwise is because of the reference to God’s wrath being poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah where there certainly was unnatural sexual immorality. As I referred to in part one of this study, the sin of Sodom was the desire to sexually humiliate and gang rape the angels sent by God. Ezekiel 16:49 tells us that Sodom’s sins were pride, laziness, and gluttony while the poor and needy suffered outside her door.
Now rape, no matter the gender, is always sexual perversion of the highest order. Sex as a weapon always is. Rape was a sign of power and domination and in ancient cultures was seen as a special right of a victorious army to seal its victory over enemies. It was a widely held belief that any man who was sexually penetrated lost his manhood. The sin of Sodom is not only that it did not welcome the outcast, homeless, needy and downtrodden; it also raped away their humanity which is what the mob of men was trying to do in the Genesis 19 story.
In Jude 7 The phrase that the NRSV translates as “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust” reads this way in the greek: ekporneusasai (committing ultra-prostitution) kai (and) apelqousai (coming-away) opisw (after) sarkos (flesh) eteras (different) = Committing ultra prostitution coming away after different flesh.
The sexual immorality is so rampant that Jude describes it as ultra-prostitution with different flesh. Jude is indeed concerned that the love feasts celebrating the gospel of Jesus do not turn into uncontrolled drunken orgies. There is always that danger I suppose when communities that imbibe alcohol and the early church certainly did imbibe. While there is no mandate in scripture against drinking alcohol, there certainly is a mandate about drinking to the point of drunkenness. We in the church are not to allow ourselves to be mastered by anyone but Christ. There is no place in the life of a religious community for drunkenness, promiscuity, orgies, or taking advantage of the weakness of others. To do so makes us not followers of Christ, but followers of the world.
Let’s not miss the point of these Jude passages. Jude urges his Christian readers to contend for the true Christian Faith that was being twisted by certain false teachers of idolatry around them. All sexual immorality, hetero or homo, is unacceptable to God, no exceptions. Idolatry is a sure fire way of heading down the road to perversion.
Romans 1: 26-27
26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
After a description of the Gentile’s acceptance of idolatry, rejecting Israel’s God and turning to foreign ones, Paul wrote the above passages. In my opinion, these passages are used more than any other in the bible as proof that God is displeased with homosexual acts and it’s the only time anywhere in scripture that women are included.
The fact is that debates over this issue will continue for years to come. Some theologians will say that the unnatural intercourse spoken of in these passages with women refer to females taking a dominant position in heterosexual intercourse, which might have been considered unnatural in a patriarchal society. Others will say that these verses are addressing homosexual relationships ofany kind.
No matter what your position I don’t think we can dispute that these passages are describing sexual acts between people of the same-sex, woman as well as men, in a context of unbridled lust, idolatry, and promiscuity. These are non-monogamous, unholy unions between people who have made no commitment to each other. These are descriptions of where false worship will take us.
Have you noticed yet how suppressing and rejecting the knowledge of God naturally turns into the worship of false gods? Have you noticed yet how closely false worship is associated with sexual immorality? Then doesn’t it stand to reason that growing in intimacy with the one true and living God is the BEST preventative measure and cure for addiction to sexual immorality? Couldn’t we say that false worship leads to false intimacy? Aren’t these passages written by Paul, like most scriptures, encouraging us to return to the “highway of holiness”? Aren’t Christians called to experience a freedom that they never even thought was possible in light of the immoral sexuality that has so permeated our culture?
We are sexual beings but that isn’t all that we are. We are people who have been made in the image of an indescribable God. Scripture shows us a God whose eyes are so often filled with disappointed love, righteous anger, and healing mercy for his children. My opinion means very little on these matters, what does matter completely is God’s opinion.
I have met so many believers whose relationship with Jesus has made all the difference in their lives. They are people of grace, love, forgiveness, mercy, and joy. The overwhelming majority of them are straight people. A couple of them are not. Truthfully, I don’t know very many homosexuals personally. If I know more than a handful of them then they have not made their orientation known to me. Not all of the homosexuals I know want to follow Jesus. The ones who are actively pursuing a relationship with Christ agree with me and with scripture that we must all be changed in order to follow Jesus. None of us get to stay the way we are. All of us need to be saved and all of us need to be surrendered wholly over to Jesus Christ.
My honest belief is that if we will give our all to Jesus Christ that he will make our sins clear to us. I believe with all my heart that He will convict us of sin and our relationship with Him becomes dependent on our willingness to change at His leading. I believe that my salvation is in His hands along with everyone else in all creation. I believe He is a jealous God who will not tolerate the worship of idols and for many people their sexuality has become an idol. He is a loving God that desires for us all to live in His presence but He is also a God who will not be a part of sin.
I realize that there may be a lot of frustration that I am not making my views clearer on the matter of homosexuality. I realize that I may even be putting my reputation and career on the line by even having conversations like these. All I can say is that I feel a burden to minister to those who we are leaving out, or maybe they are leaving themselves out, I don’t know. These aren’t exhaustive studies and I’m not sure I know much more now than when I started. I am the judge of no one but I serve a God who is the judge of all. If nothing else, I hope you have heard my heart for worship in these few blogs. I long to see all people worship Jesus together, surrendered completely to him, so sold to the point that that they are carried along by His Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
If you are a gay person that indulges in sexual immorality then it will keep you from a vital relationship with God. If you are a straight person and you indulge in sexual immorality then that too will keep you from a vital relationship with God. Our sexuality is not our identity in Christ. Christ gives us a new identity. The only way to true salvation is by letting everything else go and surrendering to Christ. God calls some to celibacy, He calls others to marriage. He calls some of us to mission fields while he calls others to stay home and carry on the work.
To the people who say they have never met a gay gay person (meaning a happy gay person), let me just say that I’ve not met many happy pastors either. The pastoral work is difficult. Pastors are wounded by inconsiderate people all the time. Most people don’t see the heavy burden’s pastors carry quietly on their shoulders. Most people don’t see the things that pastors have to keep inside because they can’t fully be themselves around their parishioners. Pastors get criticized all the time. Pastors often have to walk the road alone because no one else understands. Pastors for the most part don’t have their own pastor and it takes its toll after a while because they feel like they have to be strong and keep up a front. In reality many pastors are very lonely inside. What I just said about pastor’s I can easily say about many homosexuals as well. That is we why have to stop yelling at them and start reaching out to them.
New International Version (NIV)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.