Blessed or Broken – A Biblical Look at Same Sex Marriage, by Ty Tamasaka

Blessed or Broken – A Biblical Look at Same Sex Marriage, by Ty Tamasaka

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11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”  Acts 17:11 NIV

Same sex marriage and same sex relationships are one of, if not the most dividing controversies in our society and in the church today.  The debate on gay marriage has been passionately contested both in the church and in our society.  Same sex marriages have already been recognized and legalized in countries like Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada, and now it is legalized in the United States.

The United States government has wrestled with the idea of same sex unions and marriages on a political level.  In addition, every major mainline Christian denomination must also engage in this very divisive and polarizing argument on a theological and human level.

The purpose of this writing is to explore the topic of gay marriage in the Bible.  Should we consider same sex marriages to be blessed or is it broken?  It is unfortunate that on both sides of this great debate, very harsh and hurtful words have been spoken.

What does the Bible say about same sex relationships and homosexuality?  Do the Scriptures condone same sex relationships?  Does it speak out against same sex relationships?  Is it clear on this matter either way?  If the Bible refers to homosexuality as sin, shouldn’t we as Bible believing Christians stand against what the Scripture stands against?  On the other hand, since Jesus Christ Himself is both loving and accepting, shouldn’t we as Christians be both loving and accepting of same sex relationships and marriages?  Is the issue of same sex marriages simply a cultural difference today from Bible times?  Most Christians, after all, would recognize there are clearly cultural differences in the Scripture that we do not adhere to today – such as the Old Testament laws prohibiting eating of shellfish or pork, and the Sabbath laws.

Because of the highly controversial nature of this topic and the thoughtful arguments on both ends, I have been hesitant to write on this matter for awhile, however, it is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.  My hope in looking at this matter is to provide thoughtful arguments as to what the Scripture says (if anything) about same sex relationships and same sex marriages.  We see in Acts 17, that the Berean Jews were noted as having “more noble character” than their contemporaries because they “receive the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”     

I am a Christian who values the Bible as the Word of God, and who has a sincere desire to remain faithful to those Scriptures.  I long to live a life that brings glory to Jesus Christ and honor to His Words by being loving, kind, and edifying to others.  As a Christian, I believe that it pleases God when we give honor to others – irregardless of their sexual orientation.  In the spirit of the Bereans, and remaining true to the Word of God, however, the question needs to be asked, how should I as a Christian, respond to same sex marriages and same sex relationships?  Should I reject it in the name of the Bible?  Should I honor it in the name of acceptance and inclusion?    

While I am very confident that there will be people who read this and strongly oppose the views expressed in this article, my hopes are not to spark a quarrel as much as to present a thoughtful, Biblical conversation about homosexuality, relationships, and marriage.

Join me as we explore the dividing controversy of same sex marriage – Is it blessed or broken?  I’ll present three views… please read the whole article to gain the right context.

View 1 – Same Sex Marriages are Sinful and Must be Stopped

11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”  Acts 17:11 NIV

While our culture is continually changing and evolving, Christians strive to hold fast to the truths of the unchanging Bible as the Word of God.  When it comes to the issue of same sex relationships and marriage, it Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments clearly and explicitly condemn homosexual relationships.  Since the Bible calls homosexuality sinful, Christians should reject gay marriage and confront proponents of gay marriage.

Given the Scriptures below, it appears that same sex relationships and marriages cannot be condoned and should not be performed by the church if we intend to remain Biblically faithful.   

Because the following Scriptures speak against same sex relationships, the church must not perform, approve, or condone them.   

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”  Genesis 19:1-7 NIV

22 Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.”  Leviticus 18:22 NIV

13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”  Leviticus 20:13 NIV (emphasis mine)

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:27-28 NIV (emphasis mine)

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV (emphasis mine)

We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10 for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11 that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” 1 Timothy 1:8-11 NIV (emphasis mine)

As counter-cultural as these verses may be, it appears that in order to be faithful to the Scripture, Christians must view same sex relationships as outside of God’s natural design for heterosexual marriage set forth in Genesis 1 and 2.  Given the above Scriptures, it can be argued that if one takes the Word of God at face value, same sex relationships and same sex marriages are not condoned in the Bible… period.  While the text does not specifically addresses the issue of same sex attraction as being a sinful, it does refer to the practice of homosexual acts, along with all other acts of sexual contact outside of a marriage between one man and one woman, as sinful.

Just by reading these verses, it appears that same-sex relationships… even in the context of a loving and committed relationship… are sinful.  As such, a Bible believing Christian must view also same sex marriages as sinful and cannot support such relationships.  This argument seems rather clear cut.  Since the Scripture clearly points out that homosexuality is a sin, Christians should make it a point to stand against gay marriage and gay relationships in our culture and society.

While this argument appears to be rather clear on the surface, it is worth recognizing that entire Christian denominations have shifted their beliefs on this debate in the last decade.  How could this be?  Is there more to explore in this matter?

View 2 – Taken in context, the Bible blesses sexual relationships in the context of loving, committed relationships.  Christians therefore should embrace, affirm, and encourage gay marriage. 

In San Francisco, the first same sex couple to marry were together in a loving committed relationship for 51 years – much longer than most heterosexual marriages last. If the genders of the couple were not considered, this relationship of 51 years might appear to reflect the virtues of a faithful, committed, loving relationship which, some may argue, lies at the heart of what a marriage ought to be about.

While Scripture argues for a committed monogamous relationship, is it really a clear cut issue that we, as Christians, should reject committed, loving, same sex relationships?  Does the context of the Scriptures reveal the same understanding of the verses we have looked at?

I’ve learned in Bible College that one of the first and most important rules of hermeneutics, or the interpretation of Scripture, is to consider the context of the verses we read.  In other words, we need to consider who is writing, whom they are writing to, what is happening at the given time, and what the point the author is trying to make.  If we use “proof texts” or Scriptures that we pick at random to support our arguments, it often makes for very weak Biblical arguments.

Let’s begin in the text form Genesis, for example.   

Genesis 18-19

In Sodom and Gomorrah, some scholars recognize that homosexuality was not the sin that caused the men of the city to be condemned.  What was being condemned in the city was their attempts to gang rape the visitors.  While the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is referred to throughout other books of the Bible, homosexuality was not included with them.  Jude 7, in the New Testament, refers to the sexual immorality and perversion of Sodom and Gomorrah, but it could be suggested that even that text appears to be referring to the gang rape that was attempted.  Gang rape is clearly an entirely different issue from same sex relationships and same sex marriage.  In the culture of the day, gang rape was not necessarily associated with homosexuality, but was rather used to degrade an enemy and display power, control, and dominance over them.  Clearly God did not condone gang rape.  Neither does the homosexual movement.

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

Throughout the books of the Law, God delivers approximately 613 rules in total to the Israelites, of which we are referring to one.  In the Lev 20:13, we see that a man lying with another man as a woman is clearly referred to as an abomination.  Taken at face value, this could end the discussion, however it can be argued that its context being in the Old Testament Law makes it inapplicable to Christians today.

In Acts 15, we see that the early church leaders called together the Council of Jerusalem.  The early church had to wrestle with the issues of the Jewish Law since the Gentiles were being included for the first time into what was previously an all Jewish faith.  In 49 ad, they decided that the Old Law would not be binding on Gentile believers (namely, non-Jewish believers).  The most notable part of this law was discussed was the dietary code for keeping kosher and male circumcision.

Although the passages from Leviticus are often mentioned in this debate, it is hard to justify that the Law of Moses in Leviticus is not applicable to Christians today, while those two passages (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) do remain applicable.  Hebrews 8:13 confirms that the Old Covenant is now “obsolete” because Christ is the basis of the New Covenant.  It confirms that we are now free from the Old Law.

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:27-28 NIV (emphasis mine)

Contextually, Paul is describing idolatry and things that draw our hearts away from God in Romans 1.  In verses 18-22, he refers to men who “abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.”  Since, in the larger context of this passage, Paul was speaking out against idolatry, it appears that he was referring to acting out on lustful behavior, rather than condemning committed loving relationships.  Exchanging “natural relations” refers to men who rejected their original natural attraction to women, and turned to sex with other men.

If gay people have a natural and permanent orientation toward those of the same sex, not of their choosing, they have not “abandoned their natural relations.”  It can be argued then that they have not given up their true nature, by being in a committed same sex relationship.  They would be exchanging “the natural for the unnatural” if they were to engage in a heterosexual relationship!   In this sense, Romans 1 does not address homosexuality as immoral or wrong.  It identifies heterosexuals, behaving as homosexuals, as being immoral and wrong – and at the same time, homosexuals, behaving as heterosexuals, as being immoral and wrong1     

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV

   

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV (emphasis mine)

Because the term “homosexual” is a relatively newer term, one might argue, the King James Version of 1 Corinthians 6:9, does not mention homosexuality as sin.  Rather it identifies, “abusers of themselves with mankind.”

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” 1 Corinthians 6:9 KJV

In this verse, the Message version also doesn’t identify homosexuality as sinful.

9-11 Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 The Message

In Genesis 2:18, when God created man, the text says that God acknowledged that “It is not good for man to be alone.”  God created a suitable helper, or partner for Adam.  This was Eve – a woman.  Clearly a woman is a suitable partner for the majority of men – straight men.  But what about those who have same sex attractions?  A woman would not then be a suitable helper or partner for a homosexual man.  If there is a natural inclination for a man to be with another man, is it not true that he should be with a man?  Would that not be a suitable partner?  If a man has a natural attraction to men, should the church really advocate for him to be alone instead?  If a woman has a natural inclination toward other women, should she not seek another woman as a suitable partner?  Is that not against what God clearly says His desire for that man is?

In light of the interpretation of the Scriptures above, it can be argued that the Bible does not condemn loving, committed, same sex relationships – and it does not teach that gay people should live celibate lives in isolation.

In 1 Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul writes about marriage and celibacy.  According to Paul, celibacy is a spiritual gift and he recognizes not all Christians have this gift.  While Paul himself remained celibate he suggested that it was better for Christians to marry than to fall into sexual sin if they are not called to live a celibate life.  Should this be a truth reserved only for straight Christians?  Should a Christian who has a same sex attraction not also marry if they are not called to live celibate lives?

Here we see a compelling Biblical argument that supports same sex relationships in the context of a monogamous, loving, committed relationship.  A contextual study of Scripture reveals homosexual relationships should not be considered sinful in the Old Testament or New Testament, and consequently, we can conclude that same sex marriages should not only be accepted, but embraced by the Christian Church.  Although for centuries the church has affirmed marriages being between one man and one woman, the decisions were made without the information we have today.  As a result, we as Christians in the 21st century should embrace the changes that have occurred in our culture and celebrate same sex marriages to be inclusive of others, as Jesus was inclusive of others.

The case can now be closed… right?  Perhaps.  Let’s continue to the third view.

View 3 – The Bible does not affirm same sex marriage, however, Jesus Christ Himself was very strict on religious leaders – demanding they address their own sin before judging others – while expressing great care, compassion, and gentleness toward those caught in sexual sin.  As Christians, we must do likewise.

As a Bible believing Christian, I must admit that I have been embarrassed by many of my brothers and sisters who have taken a negative, harsh, and aggressive approach against people who practice homosexual relationships and lifestyles and those who advocate for same sex marriages.  Those reactions are clearly out of fear, anger, or even people hiding behind their own religious beliefs to justify behaviors and attitudes that are shameful.  This should not be so.  It is embarrassing that there some within the church who can be, and have been, so mean-spirited and arrogant… oftentimes more so than people outside of the church.          

It is not only shameful, but highly sinful if we as the church present to homosexual people and communities that since there is no cure for same sex attractions, there is no place for them with God or the church.  This cannot be further from the truth.

To those who may be reading this and struggle with same sex attractions or are in a same sex relationship, I sincerely apologize for my brothers and sisters in Christ who may not have shown you the care, respect, and dignity you deserve as one for whom Jesus gave His life to redeem.

How we as Christians have treated this issue has been one of the church’s greatest failures in the last few decades.  Some of the things said about you from my own brothers and sisters in Christ have been very hurtful, offensive, and mean spirited.  I do not support the phrases, “that’s so gay” or “God hates fags.”  This is not only shameful, but sinful.

On behalf of my own brothers and sisters in Christ who may have deeply hurt you… I sincerely ask for forgiveness on those matters.

As we started this discussion, if we want to understand how Christians should respond to same sex relationships and same sex marriages, we must ask the question, what does the Bible teach… really?  We have explored two differing views, but this question is what lies at the heart for evangelicals.  We have seen in the last articles some compelling arguments that Scriptures do not condemn same sex relationships or marriages, however, are these accurate views of the Scripture?

Let’s begin in the text form Genesis, for example.   

Genesis 18-19

Although there is debate about the sin that caused the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is important to note that the text does not appear to be an either/or case and could be a both/and scenario.  Allow me to explain.

While gang rape and homosexual behavior were both implied in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the text in Jude does not appear to be an either/or statement regarding which sin Paul was referring too.

And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.”  Jude 7 NLT

There is no reason to suggest that the sin implied here was about either gang rape, or homosexual behavior.  The context appears to suggest more of a both/and approach.

For example, if a man were to rape a single woman, he would be guilty of a forced rape and fornication.  Just because the violence of the rape is clearly recognizable as wrong, does not justify his fornication toward her.  In other words, the presence of one sin does not justify or eliminate the presence of another.

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

If we hold to the argument from the last section of this article about how the Levitical Law should be seen as void, null, and irrelevant according to Acts 15, this opens us up to some major problems.

While I don’t think the homosexual movement is advocating for these practices, the argument invalidating the Old Law in Leviticus justifies much more than gay marriage.  If we hold to the argument that the Levitical Law is entirely voided as a result of Acts 15, it would also suggest that as New Covenant Christians, who are no longer under the law, we should also be accepting of other practices forbidden in the Levitical Law.  These practices include incest – including having sex with one’s own children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters (Leviticus 18:6-18), having sex with both a mother and her daughter (Leviticus 18:17), having sex with a neighbor’s wife (Leviticus 18:20), having sex with animals (Leviticus 18:23), and child sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21).

If we consider the Old Law is entirely voided, these practices should all not only be permissible, but should also be welcomed and embraced by New Testament Christians – which they are obviously not.        

Scholars know that the Old Levitical Laws consist of three types of laws.  To understand the context of the Levitical Law, we need to know that there were three different types of laws mentioned in the Old Covenant.  There were moral laws, ceremonial laws, and civil regulations.

1 – The Moral Laws.  The moral laws were presumed to be universally applicable and enduring.  They applied in all places at all times both for the Christian church and the people of Israel.

2 – The Ceremonial Laws.  The ceremonial laws (referring to cleanliness restrictions) were grounded in creating Israel to be a distinctive culture to set apart God’s people from the pagan practices and people that surrounded them.  It was the ceremonial laws that Jesus often set aside during His ministry (like the Sabbath and ritual washing of hands).  It is also the ceremonial laws which the Apostles agreed not to lay upon the Gentile converts.

3 – The Civil Regulations.  There were also civil regulations that were listed in the Old Testament.  When reading the Old Levitical Law, it is important to remember that Israel was not only a religious body, but they were also a newly independent nation.  Some of these civil regulations or civil laws seemed harsh and even barbaric, but these civil regulations must be considered in the context of their culture.  We will not explore all of those laws at this point in this article.  We simply need to understand that when there was an establishing of a nation, civil regulations needed to be put into place as much as we need civil regulations today.    

Let’s move on to the next passage.

Romans 1 NIV

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. Romans 1:27-28 NIV (emphasis mine)

In the larger context of Romans 1, Paul the Apostle is speaking about idolatry that draws the hearts of people away from God.  Paul is making the argument that when we refuse to acknowledge and worship, our hearts become hardened, resulting in the coming of God’s judgment.  Contextually, Paul is not speaking to specific individuals about their personal sexual orientation, but he is speaking to God’s people as a whole, calling them not to turn away from God to embrace their own lusts.  Here, Paul is clearly affirming the validity of the moral laws of the Old Testament.  If Paul viewed the Old Levitical Law as irrelevant (per Acts 15), he would not be referring to these lusts as turning away from God… but would rather be teaching that all things were allowable.  Homosexual practice is mentioned in this list of sinful practices in Romans 1, along with greed, hate, envy, and gossip.

Greed, hate, envy, and gossip are sins often overlooked in the passage, and in the argument about homosexual relationships.  It is important to stop here and recognize that by looking at the broader context of the passage, Paul is not only condemning homosexual people.  He was condemning ALL OF US!  Why?  Because when we recognize our own ungodly desires, we can recognize the need for some “good news.”  Paul knew that when we understand the “bad news” we become much more prepared to hear and receive the Gospel or the “good news.”  Paul then brings us hope in the Gospel.

2 You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”  Romans 2:1-4 NLT

If we continue to read Romans, we will see that Paul wants to remind us not to point our fingers at non-believers demanding that they to act as believers.  He is calling ALL of the church to repentance and in doing so he is calling them to a radical transformation in Jesus Christ.   

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV   

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV (emphasis mine)

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, another argument of Paul is being made against idolatry… or putting our own desires and things before God.  “Do not be deceived” Paul warns.  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 

Let’s pause and notice something for a moment.  Paul is not singling out homosexuals here or gay marriage.  Rather, he is pointing to the sexually immoral (those who view porn, look at others lustfully, objectify women), adulterers (those who have sex outside of a marriage), men who have sex with men (homosexual relationships), thieves (those who take what is not their own), greedy (people who desire their own comfort over the will of God), drunkards (those who drink too much), slanderers (gossips in the church), and swindlers (folks who lie to get their way).  As we seen in Romans 2, I think Paul has just showed us who is in need of the grace of God.  Everyone!

Taking Paul’s verse in context, none of us get away here.  All of us are included as sinners in desperate need of the Gospel.  All of us are shown to be in need of God’s grace.  He proves that we are ALL lost, broken, and in need of a Savior.  Paul is painting the picture that our right relationship with God is not about our own works – since we all fall so desperately short – but with the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Sin, according to Paul, is still sin.

A part of 1 Corinthians 6:11 that is often overlooked by the homosexual movement says, “11 And that is what some of you were…”  In other words, some of those to whom Paul was speaking, had lives that were previously dominated by homosexuality, sexual sin, greed, alcohol, and cheating, yet they found freedom from that in Christ.    

3 Important Considerations

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”  Hebrews 4:12 NIV

As Christ followers, we must tread carefully when it comes to such a sensitive topic as homosexuality and gay marriage.  While it is a sharp and dividing issue, we must not focus on winning the arguments while losing the relationships.  The government has decided to support gay marriage.  Whether or not Christian denominations allow for same sex marriage will be decided by those movements.  As Christians, our allegiance and accountability is to the Bible as the Word of God and to the person of Jesus Christ.

16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV

Jesus calls us to win the world not by telling people what they are doing wrong, but by loving people and introducing them to a Savior who is worth giving our entire lives to.  In the end, as Christ followers, we will be held accountable to our obedience to the Word of God, more than we are accountable to the norms of an ever changing society, or even to the doctrines and views that our denominations hold.

Paul refers to the Word of God, as a sharp two edged sword.  It is not meant to be used to stab and cut people down, but it is meant to cut at our sinful natures.  If we are living in any type of sexual immorality, it is time to come back to Him to receive mercy and grace.

In this hotly debated issue, I think it is important not only to look at the Bible but to address some important considerations and objections that our culture will build upon.

3 important considerations about same sex marriage and relationships.

1 – But I was born this way. 

Isn’t this too harsh?  I can’t help that I was born this way. 

Of course you were born that way.  In the same way, heterosexual men were born with a strong desire to have sex with attractive women other than our wives.  Does that make it right?  No.  No.  No.  A thousand times no.  It is a sinful desire and a sinful nature in me that I need to continually rebuke and fight against.  I don’t embrace it.  I struggle with it.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to empower me to overcome it.  I didn’t need to be taught to be sinful.  I was born that way.  Our children don’t need to be taught to be sinful.  It is a nature that we all have – and must continually struggle against.

Too many Christians think that someone who is gay should come to Jesus Christ, get saved, and never again deal with same sex attractions.  It simply doesn’t happen that way.  All of us struggle with our sin natures for the rest of our lives.

If married men are honest, they would admit that they still struggle with sexual attractions and desires – even after they are married and made a commitment to their wives.  Being born with a certain predisposition does not justify or make things right in God’s eyes.  .

Marriage or salvation does not take away sinful desires, attractions, or lust for other women.  It is important to understand that just because we are born a certain way, does not always make it right.  We learn from Scripture that we will struggle with our inborn desires for the rest of our lives.

2 – But my feelings are so strong.

Why would I have these feelings if I am not able to fulfill these feelings?   

It is important to know that just because we have strong feelings, also does not make things right.  While feelings are strong and real, they were never been meant to lead or rule us.

As a Bible believing Christian, it is important to know that God’s facts and God’s Word will always trump the way we feel.  While I am not saying feelings are not strong or that they are not there, I am saying that for Bible believing Christians, God’s Word should trump how we feel.  A genuine faith is choosing to believe God, even though we might feel another way.

3 – Christians should express more tolerance.

Shouldn’t Christians be more tolerant of others? 

These days, if someone says anything negative about gay marriages or homosexual behavior, they are often labeled immediately as intolerant and hate filled bigots.

We used to live in a society where we were able to agree to disagree.  Today tolerance has moved from, “let’s agree to disagree,” to “you have to agree with me or you are hateful and arrogant.”  Can we tolerate each other and support each other’s legal rights?  Absolutely.  As Christians, we should support the legal rights of Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons, atheists and agnostics, but we don’t have to agree with their beliefs.  We should tolerate those who have differing beliefs from our own.  If we have a co-workers, neighbor, friend, or family member that disagrees with us, should we tolerate them socially and personally?  Of course!  While we want others to know the Jesus we know and love, we cannot and should not try to force someone into our believe system.  That would be entirely opposed to the teachings of the Bible.

Jesus tells us to do more than tolerate our neighbors.  He says to love our neighbors… He never says that we have to agree with everything they say.  Of course we should love, serve, and be good friends with our neighbors… even if we don’t agree with them on everything.

  

Christianity is a movement that begins with tolerance (Jesus called people to “come, follow Me”) but moves forward in repentance (He later tells them that “anyone who desires to follow me must take up their cross”).  It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve come from, you can come to Jesus just as you are… but make no mistake about it, a genuine relationship with Jesus will change you.  Walking with Jesus will transform your heart, attitudes, the way you treat people, and the way you approach people.  Someone once said it this way, “Salvation is by faith alone, but a saving faith never comes alone.”

The church should be a magnet to those who have been broken and have faced rejection in their lives.  We should not perpetuate anger, hatred, or bitterness.  It is important to recognize that Jesus spoke very harshly to the religious leaders of his day who clung to their own self righteousness and He was very gentle and loving toward the woman caught in adultery – though He did call them to repentance.  Jesus was accepting of all people, yet He did not approve of what all people did.   

Whether or not you agree with the arguments presented in this article, and whether or not as a Christ follower, you believe that homosexuality is a sin, there are some issues we as Christians MUST agree upon – we must contend to make the Gospel known.  My hopes are that we can find a way to live together despite our different views of how to bring up children and bring glory to Jesus Christ.

How should Christians respond to Gay Marriage

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  James 1:22-25 NIV

If you have same sex attractions, identify yourself as gay, lesbian, it is important to understand that the church viewing homosexuality as sin does not now, and should never exclude homosexual people from the life of the church – anymore than it excludes those who have fallen into pre-marital sex, greed, lust, or gossip.

In Jesus Christ we can find all power, hope, and salvation.  If we are going to be fully surrendered followers of Jesus Christ, we must submit ourselves to following what God says through His Word.  We cannot view the Words of God as a buffet where we pick and choose what we want, while leaving behind what we don’t like.  We need to acknowledge the Bible as Word of God   

In the book of James, the Apostle James refers to the Bible as a mirror that we can open up and see what is going on in our lives.  A mirror is designed to show the imperfections on our own faces – not on the faces of others.  If the Word of God is like a mirror, we ought to be using it to discover how God wants to transform us first.  Our problem as Christians is that we often use the Bible more as a window, to judge others rather than as a mirror to reveal how we should live our own lives.

Bible is not a window to look at others through, but a mirror that reveals how we should be transformed ourselves.  We must be clear first not to minimize our own sin, and maximize the sin of others.

The church of Jesus Christ has the responsibility to honor the dignity of every human being for whom Jesus gave His life.  As Bible believing Christians, we are not called to express hate or arrogance toward those who may not be like us – and we need to repent for the times when that has been our attitude.  Rather than making it our priority to point out sin in others, we are called to acknowledge that we are guilty of sin and acknowledge that we are in need of the Savior who calls people to Himself.      

In Paul’s view, those who are gay, straight, or otherwise, are all prodigal sons and daughters with equal need for the grace of God standing at the foot of the cross.  All of us are in desperate need of the amazing grace found in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ – and the power of the Holy Spirit that resurrected Jesus and brings transformation in our lives too.    

Through Jesus Christ, we have been granted great grace, when none was deserved.  We are not called to sit and pass judgment on the sinfulness of others while forgetting to address our own broken and sinful natures as well.

We can acknowledge that Christianity is NOT about going from gay to straight, but about going from sin to Jesus.  The great commission is not a command to reach lots of people, but to make disciples.  The Gospel is not about making bad people good, it is about making dead people live.  It is not about making people nicer or happier.  It is about drawing sinners to the Savior and making disciples of Jesus.  Disciples are only made when the church teaches all that Christ commands.

  

Some Final Words on Marriage

The marriage that I believe, affirm, and support is the marriage the Jesus affirmed and supported.  The marriage that Jesus spoke of and affirmed was between one man and one woman.  Period.  Political correctness, money, health insurance benefits, civil rights, and our own culture do not play a role in that.  It is simply what Jesus affirmed and supported.    

Everything that God gives us is good.  Sex is a gift from God.  Sex is not given to us to find our identity in, but rather for intimacy between a husband and a wife.  Anything sexual contact outside of the context of a husband and a wife is sinful and rebellious against God.  Please understand this does not single out homosexuality.  This includes sleeping around, pornography use, and lusting after someone who is not our own spouse.  Biblically speaking, sex outside of the marriage detaches us from God, and inside of a marriage of one man and one woman draws us closer to God.  It is about sexual purity.  You can be single and sexually pure or married and sexually pure.

When it comes to the issue of marriage, it is important that we understand that marriage is so much more than a certificate issued by the state.  Marriage is more than getting spousal government benefits.  It is a sacred union and a covenant promise that a man and a woman make before God and others that they will continue to grow in oneness, until death do they part.

Jesus called husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her.  Although I know there are many broken families in our society, there seems to be some inherent value, according to the Bible, in having both a father and a mother for children – a husband and a wife.

To remove a husband from the marriage and have two wives is to remove Christ (the Bridegroom) from the church (the bride).  It is to say that a second mother can replace a father and it justifies and honors a father’s decision to not be there for his children.

To remove a wife from a marriage is to remove the church (the bride) from Christ (the Bridegroom).  It is to say that a second father can replace a mother in the family.  It justifies and honors a mother’s decision to not be there for her children.

While it is both sad and unfortunate that in our culture, so many fathers have chosen to abandon their families, it is not something we should give honor to.

   

Three Things Christians Must Communicate to the GLBT Community

Here are three things we as Christians must communicate to those who wrestle with same sex attractions, are in a same sex relationship, or choose to support or be in gay marriages.  In order to make an impact in our culture we must communicate though our words and actions the following three points to those with same sex attractions and in same sex marriages.   

1 – You matter to God – As Christians, we must remember that Christianity is not about going from gay to straight.  It is all about going from sin to Jesus.  It doesn’t matter what a person’s sexual orientation, they matter to God.  They matter to Jesus.  He gave His life for them.  We need to communicate the grace of Jesus Christ and that He wants them to come into a living and vibrant relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ.

We must remember that the primary focus of the Gospel is that God seeks and saves those who are lost and whose hearts have gone astray.  The primary message of the Gospel is more than just dealing with people’s sexual struggles.  It is about surrendering fully to the rule and reign of Jesus Christ.  This is critical because it is only when someone’s heart has been transformed by the Gospel can real change and lasting healing truly begin from the inside out.   

2 – You matter to the church – God wants you to be a part of His family, the church.  The purpose of the church is not to fight against gay marriage, but to proclaim the Gospel.  This is critical.  We cannot and should not let the discussion and theology of homosexuality overshadow the Gospel, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the coming Kingdom of God that He came to proclaim.

The church of Jesus Christ should be a place where people are welcome.  Although homosexual activity is sinful, churches need to discern where and how gay people can be involved in the life of the church.  Members of the gay/lesbian communities may have already heard they are sinful, but like any sinner, they need to hear about the redemptive power of Jesus Christ and the grace that He offers through the cross.

3 – You matter to me – If we are to make a difference, each Christ follower must individually make the effort to show care and grace to all of God’s people – without regard of their sexual orientation.

The only way to get to know people is to spend time with them and ask questions.  Care for them.  When we consider how Christians should respond to people in sexual sin, it is important to recognize that Jesus is preached long before there is any discussion of sexuality.

People need to hear about the cross of Christ and the redemption He offers before they hear about their own sexuality.  As Christians, we must prioritize the sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ above sharing our own beliefs about homosexuality with gay couples.

Closing

I hope that this article has been sensitive and thoughtful to those on both sides of this very divisive argument.  When I wrote this, my intentions were to give a Bible based opinion, as to why I believe as I do.

I dream of the church becoming a place where no matter what the brokenness of our lives, we can not only find acceptance as we are, but also be challenged to become more like Jesus.  I dream of a church where we can seek the Savior together, know His presence, and strive together to make His name known among all peoples.  I dream of a church where transformation from our Savior is emphasized more than information from our culture.

I still believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God who gave His life so that through His sacrifice, I can be in a right relationship with God.  Although we have struggled (and continue to struggle) through this issue, I still believe that the church of Jesus Christ is still the avenue through which the Holy Spirit will make the Gospel known to the world.  I still believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and one day, I will be accountable to His Word more than I am to my culture.  I still believe that the Gospel is not primarily about moving from gay to being straight as much as it is about moving from sin to Jesus Christ.

    

Thank You Jesus for Your Words that bring life, healing, and forgiveness.  Give me grace to respond well to those who may or may not be like me. In the matchless name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen. 

Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry  He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.    

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