Well, the US Supreme Court (a.k.a. the SCOTUS) has ruled on the Defense of Marriage Act and on California Proposition 8, and both rulings went in favor of those who support gay marriage. Among Christians there is no monolithic response. Some more liberal-leaning Christians are falling in step with the prevailing view in the culture, saying it’s time we “modernize” and allow gays to marry. Supporters of this view both inside and outside the church treat it as a civil rights issue, claiming it’s discriminatory to prevent homosexuals from having the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals when it comes to marriage.
We need to recognize, though, that there are real problems with this view, especially for Christians who believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God and have committed themselves to following what the Scriptures teach. We who are Bible-believing Christians trust that in the Bible God has faithfully revealed His will, His desires, and His purposes for the human race.
The first problem with same-sex “marriage,” though, is one that should be recognized by more than just those of us who put our faith in the Bible: Those who advocate gay marriage are asking the rest of us to abandon what has been the traditional view of marriage not just in America, not just in Western society, but in every culture throughout the entire history of the world. In one fell swoop these folks want to overturn the collective wisdom and practice on marriage that has existed since the beginning of human history. Until the last couple decades every culture, and even every religion, throughout the world has taken it for granted that marriage is a contract between a man and a woman. While it’s true that in ancient times polygamy was practiced, even in those cases, the marriage was still between a man and one or more women. The marriage of two people of the same sex to one another has never been accepted anywhere in the world until very recent times. Surely there is a reason, a collective wisdom behind this (about which I will say more below).
What has been implicit throughout human history–that marriage is a contract between a man and a woman–is made explicit in the Bible. The Old Testament prohibits a man from having sexual relations with another man (see Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). Likewise, in the New Testament the apostle Paul tells us that homosexuality is a form of human degradation resulting from man’s rebellion against God, and from idolatry (see Romans 1: 18-32, especially verses 26-27), and that those who practice homosexual behavior will not inherit the kingdom of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:9).
There are those who try to remove the biblical authority of these passages by questioning the translation of certain words, or by pointing out that Jesus himself was silent on the subject of homosexuality, and by accusing Paul of some sort of legalism. However, their arguments appear to be motivated by a desire to nullify the plain teachings of the Bible because they don’t like what it says. But the Scriptures are clear on this matter, there is no ambiguity in the plain meaning of the texts, and the Old and New Testaments speak in unison in declaring homosexual behavior to be an aberration that is outside God’s will for humanity, and therefore prohibited by Him.
[Edit June 26, 2015: I will add that while Jesus never said anything explicitly on the topic of homosexuality, he did speak these words about marriage, which seem very applicable to this topic: “Haven’t you read,” [Jesus] replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4)].
To many in our softened post-modern culture, in which absolutes are questioned, this seems unbearably judgmental and cruel, and so we might do well to consider why the Bible has such strong things to say against homosexual behavior. The reason is fairly simple, and straightforward. In the book of Genesis, chapter 1, we see that God made human beings to be of two genders, male and female. In chapter 2 we are told that God instituted marriage between a man and a woman. Simple biology confirms this. To be graphic for a moment: A man’s penis was created to fit into a woman’s vagina. A man was not created with an corresponding receptacle in his body to receive a penis into his body (and from a medical standpoint we know that the way in which gay men try to make this happen creates all kinds of health problems, because it is not natural, and isn’t the way things were made to be). Likewise, there is no part of a woman that fits adequately into her vagina in the same unique way that a man’s penis does. So simple biology shows that homosexuality goes against nature, and is not the way we were created to be.
Until recent decades, this was a no-brainer. Even until the 1980s or so, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual used by psychologists viewed homosexuality as a psychological problem and an unnatural state. However, over the last few decades the cultural revisionists in Hollywood and in our universities have been hard at work putting out as much propaganda as they can to erase that understanding. And apparently they’ve been pretty successful, considering that now a majority of the American people supposedly believe gay marriage should be allowed. If you ask me, it’s a result of propaganda and peer pressure, but that’s a topic for another post.
So simple biology tells us that homosexuality goes against nature and against the way God created the human race to operate, which is why He prohibits it in His Word. But the gay community and those who support the gay lifestyle have done everything they can to try to nullify the argument from nature. They now claim that biology cannot be taken into consideration in these matters. This is an example of where the teaching of secular evolution comes into play. They claim that biology doesn’t figure into it because we just evolved this way. And in secular evolution there is no morality; the way we are isn’t right or wrong, it just is. And so they claim that the reason there are gays and lesbians is merely because of evolution. Therefore, they claim, our anatomy doesn’t play into the moral discussion.
Now at this point someone may say: But homosexuals claim they’ve been that way as long as they can remember, so they must be born that way. That’s a debatable point, because it still could be due to environmental factors which take effect in the very early months or years of life. But even if they are born that way, does that automatically make it right or sanctioned by God? It’s claimed that alcoholics are born that way, too, but no one is trying to say alcoholism is a healthy or desirable way of life. Children with birth abnormalities are born that way as well (though some liberals would prefer to just have them aborted), but we don’t celebrate those either. The mere fact that someone is born a certain way is not an argument that being born that way is good or desirable.
Now, it may sound at this point like I’m just hating on gays. That’s not the intention. Let me say upfront that the approach of Westboro Baptist “church” is a horrible distortion of biblical teaching on homosexuality. God does not hate “fags” (and it’s unloving to use derogatory terms like that to speak of gays). God loves all people, including homosexuals, and desires all to come to the knowledge of salvation and deliverance through Jesus Christ. And while homosexuality is a sin, it’s no worse of a sin than adultery, fornication, or any other form of sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Heck, it’s no worse of a sin than my own lust or gluttony.
And I am not claiming to be perfect or spotless in the area of sexual morality myself. I’ve made my share of mistakes. So any righteousness I have comes not through my own good behavior, which the Bible says is nothing but “filthy rags,” but only through my faith in Jesus Christ. Thank God, He forgives my sin when I come to Him in confession and repentance. When we trust in Him, He takes our sin and gives us His righteousness. And he will do this for anyone who comes to him, about any sin, including that of homosexuality.
But I simply wanted to explain why the Bible teaches that homosexuality is wrong–because it goes against the way God created men and women. God intended a man to have sex only with a woman, and then only in the context of the committed lifelong relationship we call marriage–between a man and a woman.
Our culture is in the process of rejecting this view, though. Many Christians are up in arms, upset that we seem to be losing the “culture war.” Well, guess what? This isn’t the first time in history Christians have been in the minority, nor the first time the prevailing culture’s morals have gone against the Bible. The early church faced a much worse situation in the pagan Roman Empire. Homosexuality (and sexual immorality in general) was rampant in that culture (though they didn’t have anything like gay marriage), and in the pagan mindset homosexuality was even celebrated as a legitimate form of “affection” and recreation.
This was the case for the first three centuries of the church’s existence. How did things change in favor of Christianity? It wasn’t through laws and politics, for Christians had no political power or visible presence. It happened one heart at a time, as the Christian faith spread like wildfire, first through the lower classes, and eventually even breaking into the upper classes. If any change is going to happen in our day, it’s going to happen the same way as well–one heart at a time, through love, prayer and conversions–conversions to a new heart and a new way of thinking, God’s way of thinking.
Gay “marriage” is already the law in, what, a dozen states now? And think how fast that has happened. In a matter of just a few years. And with California’s Prop 8 being struck down without a referendum or anything, one has to wonder how much longer the laws protecting traditional marriage in the states which have them are going to be upheld. We can no longer expect the government to uphold our beliefs or our moral standards.
So then we will have a choice. Will we capitulate to the popular majority opinion, or will we stand up for what the Bible teaches, even if we have to do so as a dissenting minority? Are we willing to be counter-cultural and go against the flow?
Pastors will be under more and more pressure to perform same-sex marriages. As a former pastor myself, I am keenly aware of the situation they’ll face. If pastors want to be faithful to the God of the Bible, then they will need to take a stand on conscience. As Bible-following Christians they will have to say: “The state may say it’s OK, but as a Christian, I cannot in good conscience marry two people of the same sex.” As Christians we will have to say “The state may sanction gay marriage, but based on what the Bible teaches, I do not agree with it and cannot support it.” And if you find your pastor or church or denomination giving in on this issue, then it may be time to change churches, hard as that may be for some. We are going to have to make a distinction between what the government allows, and what we as Christians are willing to go along with, just as we have done on the issue of abortion. Instead of expecting the government to uphold our view, we’re going to have to accept that it no longer does, and live by our consciences, even if they puts us at odds with the prevailing majority.
Well, these are my thoughts on the matter. I’m sure I haven’t expressed them as well as I could. And it’s a very controversial issue, so I won’t be surprised if I take some flack for the things I’ve said. But Jesus took a lot of flack for me, so it’s the least I can do for Him and His church….. Blessings to all, even those who do not agree with me on this very thorny topic…..