This is the third part of my transcript of my talk on the Bible and Homosexuality – you can find the audio and the other parts here.
“Okay, I see that is true – but man, doesn’t that sound harsh?”
That is a common sentiment among young people when they encounter the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality. Many people will actually reject the Bible entirely, not because of the logic of the texts, but because they don’t feel like they can tell other people how to live. First, we are not telling people how to live, God’s Word is. Second, remember, we all need some kind standard – a music – for us to abide by. If you change your “standard” every time it contradicts you or tells you something you don’t like, then you don’t have a standard at all – you have a mirror.
But others will have a hard time accepting the Bible’s teaching on sexuality because of something like, “Doesn’t the Bible say that God is a God of love? How could it be loving to tell someone that their lifestyle is wrong?” That is a good question – the Bible does say that God is love (1 John 4:8), but what does that mean?
First, while God is love, we must remember that love is not God. In other words, God’s characteristics do not overwhelm one another – God is loving, but God is also holy and just. His love is not in contradiction with His holiness – like all of God’s characteristics, the two help define each other. God is gracious, patient, and steadfast, but who will by no means excuse the guilty (Ex. 34:6-7).
Second, what is your definition of “love”? When you say that it can’t be “loving” to tell someone that their sexuality is sinful, what do you mean by “loving”? If you define love as “doing good” for others, as many would, then for that to really mean anything at all, we must ask what is “good”? If we don’t have a definition for that, then we can make “love” to mean anything at all, which really means to make it mean nothing. The Bible tells us that God alone is good (Mark 10:18), and that all good things in creation emanate from Him (James 1:17). So, if we are to love someone, that means that we must be trying to connect them to God. Dr. John Piper defines love as, “Doing whatever is necessary to help someone treasure Jesus for all eternity.” The Bible tells us very clearly that continuing to walk in a pattern of unrepentant homosexual sin, like all other sin, will lead a person to eternal separation from God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Therefore, the very definition of love, the essence of love, in the context of homosexuality is not to approve of it, but instead to plead with them for repentance.
If your brother had slid a canoe into a river and drifted off to sleep in the warm sun, only to become unconscious of a 100 foot waterfall quickly approaching, and you are standing on the river bank, what does love look in that scenario? Would you hesitate, question whether or not it would be rude to awake him, fear that he might be angry for you waking him up? Not a chance. The reality of the waterfall would compel you to act because you care about him.
The Corinthian church in the New Testament dealt with a number of sins – many of them sexual. Paul, in his first letter, writes many difficult things for the church to swallow (see 1 Cor. 5), but in Paul’s second letter to the church he writes something interesting, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us” (2 Cor. 7:8-9). Paul didn’t enjoy grieving the Corinthians – he didn’t get his jollies out of telling people they were wrong, it was hard for him – but he, compelled by his love for them, rejoices that their grief led them to repentance – back to God.
If we see what the Bible teaches about sexuality, and we still feel that we just can’t bring ourselves to say that is wrong for fear of offending others, then we must realize that it is not love for others that is guiding us, but love for ourselves. We love our comfort that comes from being liked more than we love the people who are floating down the river that is leading to the lake of fire.
Now, this is not an encouragement for us to run out and start yelling at LGBT members that they are going to hell. Remember, it is not their homosexuality that is sending them to hell, but, like all other sinners, their pride and resistance to God. And the remedy to pride isn’t just being told you’re wrong, it is seeing a glimpse of the surpassing beauty of Jesus – and we must be that for them, in both word and deed. Jesus came “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) – gracious and truthful. We desperately need more of those two interconnected today. We need to earn the right to be heard by our LGBT friends and family members by showing them not just God’s truth about sexuality and repentance, but also demonstrating God’s kindness and love in our relationships. If you hold to the unbiblical view that homosexuality is somehow a more damning sin than any of your own, then you won’t be able to treat gay people with love and respect. Homophobia is just as much a sin as homosexuality – and it must be repented of.