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A while back I spent a weekend as a guest at the house of some friends.  While I was there, another of their friends came to visit for the afternoon, a woman whose adult son is gay.

This lady, whom I have met perhaps a dozen times over ten years, wanted to talk about religion and sexuality.  Knowing myself and desiring to stay out of the conversation, I busied myself watching some sporting event on television in the living room, which happens to be attached to the kitchen, which is where this conversation was taking place.

This is what I heard.

“Most people think that the Bible says homosexuality is immoral, but they’re wrong…It’s like an urban myth.  The Bible doesn’t say that it’s wrong to be gay.  What it really says is…oh, I wish I had a Bible.  I would show you what it says.”  My friends, evidently not wanting to further incite her, didn’t volunteer the fact that in fact they do possess a Bible, and that it was within easy fetching distance.

Possibly encouraged by the apparent absence of a Bible, the visitor went on.  “I could show you, if you had a Bible, that the passages that most people think are anti-gay are actually not so.  They’re ambiguous.  They could mean anything, but people interpret them the way they want to.  It’s just that people have always heard that it’s wrong to be gay, but the Bible doesn’t say that.  The truth is, God just wants us to love one another, so as long as two people love each other, who can judge them?”

I wanted to speak up.  How curious I was!  I wanted to ask this visitor to show me that part of the Bible that has been misunderstood these many centuries.  I also wanted her to show me where in the Bible it is written that God only wants people to love each other, and doesn’t care who we give our love to, or how we give it.  But I also wanted to stay the rest of the weekend at this house, and I also wanted to be invited back.  So I held my tongue.

But here’s my pain.  I know what the Bible says about homosexuality.  I don’t know every word of the Bible, and I don’t understand everything I read in it – I’m no great scholar.  But I am a Christian who has studied and read the Bible.  So I understand both the content and the context of the Bible’s statements on homosexuality. 

And what does the Bible really say about this subject?

What God thinks about homosexuality:

“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.  Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it.  A woman must not present herself to an animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion.  Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways…” Leviticus 18:22-24

Is homosexuality an example of perversion?

“Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” Romans 1:27

Can one be a homosexual and enter the kingdom of heaven?

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  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.”  I Corinthians 6:9-11

What is the Biblical model for marriage?  (note: these passages speak of the qualifications for a church overseer, deacon, or elder; the virtues which he must exhibit.  In so doing, they reveal the design for marriage.)

“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” I Timothy 3:2

“A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.” I Timothy 3:12

“An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobient.” Titus 1:6

Can one be a Christian and engage in sexual immorality?

“…among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person…has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”  Ephesians 5:3-5

The Good News:

But here’s the good news for anyone who is tempted to act out behaviors that are wrong: temptation is not the same thing as sin.  What do I mean by this?  I mean that even Jesus was subjected to temptation.  Read the gospel of Matthew.  “Then [following his baptism] Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.   The tempter came to him and said…” (Matthew 4:1,2)

So we can see that being tempted to do wrong isn’t wrong in itself; it’s when we fail to resist temptation that we sin.  And we can always resist temptation: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)  The problem that most of us have is that we don’t want to resist temptation – we want to indulge in the behaviors and pleasures that have been forbidden to us here on earth.  The underlying reason is that we have a short view of our own future.  Most of us don’t live with eternity in view, nor with our own old age in view.  In fact, most people don’t even look five years or one year down the road; usually we’re focused only on the here and now.  That’s why James, the brother of Jesus, wrote with unusual frankess: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?  But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’  Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail.  Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:4-10)  Later, almost poetically, James puts our lives in perspective: “…you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)

Conclusion:

If you identify yourself as a gay person and you have read this far, then I thank you.  You have done more than I could have asked or expected of you, because this article includes a lot of plainly spoken truth that could have repelled you.  And as you may suspect, I’m not subject to your particular temptation, and I can’t speak to you as one who has been through your trials.  But like you, I am a human being, and we’re all essentially the same.  We are all in danger of being seduced by alluring and provocative temptations, and yet we all live under the same reality: We are loved and desired by a jealous God who will forgive all our imperfections if we put our sins behind us and trust Him.  Jesus said to one who was sincere and humble, “Your sins are forgiven.  Now go and sin no more.”  He loves you as much as he loved that woman 2000 years ago and he would do the same thing for you.

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I am a born-again, Bible-believing, evangelical Christian man from the midwestern United States.  Tonight, before turning out my bedsight light, I was reading a book called The Heavenly Man.  The Heavenly Man is an autobiographical account of the life of a Chinese Christian known as Brother Yun.  Brother Yun is fond of quoting a scripture for every situation he encounters, and while reading his book tonight I happened upon a passage of scripture that intrigued me.  Wanting to read more of it, I looked it up and read some of the surrounding text as well.  I should say right up front that despite my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, I don’t read my Bible as much as I should, so what I share with you here, I share as a layman and as a fellow believer, not as a teacher or a preacher.

The Biblical book of Revelation is perhaps the most misunderstood (or misinterpreted) of the books of the Christian Bible.  I can say this despite my own limited and imperfect understanding, because anyone who will look can see the conflicting understandings and interpretations of its text which exist in the modern church; it just can’t mean everything that people think it means.  It’s doubtful that any of the other Biblical texts have been interpreted in so many conflicting fashions.

But one of the beautiful aspects of the book of Revelation is the messages to the seven churches of Asia, which are present in chapters 2 and 3.  At the time of its writing, the so-called seven churches of Asia were the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

These messages were written specifically to each church: a unique message for each of the seven churches named, each message tailored to the character of each church, its strengths and weaknesses.  For instance, the first message in the series was written to the church in Ephesus and acknowledges first the virtues of that church: hard work and perseverance, a refusal to tolerate wicked men, and discernment of which apostles were true and which were not.  And yet there is also a shortcoming in this church: it had lost the fervor with which it had originally embraced the Gospel.  “I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love…Repent and do the things you did at first.”

To each church an edifying word was sent, first praising the virtues and then pointing out the particularly grievous sin or shortcoming of that particular group of believers.

The reason I got out of bed to write this message to you tonight is found in the message to the church in Sardis.  When I happened upon this passage tonight I was struck by its perfection in describing the evangelical Christian community in North America.

“I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up!  Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent.  But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” (Revelation 3:1-3)

I won’t waste your time by attempting to interpret this passage for you.  Its potential application to the complacent and self-satisfied modern evangelical church in North America seems so obvious to me, I’m going to trust that upon meditation you will also find it speaks to you.

Wake up, Christians!  Please share your thoughts by commenting below.