In our last lesson, we considered some of the sins of the ancient city of Sodom, which the Bible records in Genesis 19 and Ezekiel 16:49,50. We observed that the inhabitants of Sodom were a proud people who were richly blessed and had an abundance of leisure time. Tragically, they did not use their God-given blessings for good works but to indulge their passions and commit abominations. The Lord could only tolerate so much of their wickedness and then He destroyed them as He saw fit.
We also commented last week that America seems to be heading down a similar, self-destructive path (i.e., a path of pride, self-sufficiency, wasted leisure time, and sexual perversion). How long will the Lord tolerate such? That is a question this nation should seriously ponder.
Today we will focus our attention on the sin Sodom is infamous for-homosexuality--that is, sexual relations between those of like gender. What does God's word have to say about the matter?
THE BIBLE HAS ALWAYS CONDEMNED HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR.
As Bible-believers, we must always search the Scriptures to see what God has declared about a particular issue (either specifically or by principle). We believe that God, as our Creator, is the absolute authority of the universe and consequently has the right to set standards of morality for human behavior-standards to which man must submit if he intends to please the Lord.
Even before the Law of Moses, homosexuality was considered sinful by God-fearing men. This truth is apparent by Lot's rebuke to the suggestion made by the men of Sodom in Genesis 19:7. They desired to have sexual relations with Lot's "male" visitors (in actuality, they were angels who simply looked like men). Lot correctly labeled such as wickedness.
Earlier in Genesis, during the creation week, God created woman to be a suitable helper and companion to man. God instituted the relationship of marriage and instructed the couple to procreate. God designed men and women to be sexually compatible and able to reproduce together. The fact that He did not create a male companion for Adam is significant. Admittedly, one cannot prove that homosexuality is a sin from Genesis 2, but heterosexuality in marriage is clearly affirmed as normal and God-approved.
The first explicit declarations against homosexuality are found in the third book of the Old Testament. Leviticus 18:22 - "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." Also, Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them." Under the Old Law, homosexuality was a transgression punishable by death.
The New Testament is also very clear in its condemnation of homosexual behavior. Jude 7 - "As Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Paul instructs us in Romans 15:4 to learn from those things that were written before. Friends, Genesis 19 was written as an example for our learning. Sodom and the cities of the plain are suffering the vengeance of eternal fire for their sexual perversion and other sins. Those who are wise will learn from the mistakes of others. Let us learn that sexual immorality will not aid us in the pursuit of a home in heaven (cf. Rom. 1:24ff).
Another New Testament passage that addresses this subject is I Timothy 1:8-10. Paul therein lists sodomy, murder, fornication, kidnapping, and lying as actions that are "contrary to sound doctrine" and thus, obviously wrong in the eyes of God.
Perhaps the clearest declaration against the sin of homosexuality is found in I Corinthians 6:9-11 - "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." I cannot make it any plainer than that. Those who are unrighteous will not make it to heaven. Paul mentions homosexuality specifically and affirms that those who practice such will not inherit God's kingdom; that is, they will be lost if they do not turn from their sexual perversion. Paul goes on to state that some of the Christians in Corinth used to be guilty of the sins he listed, but they had changed. The Corinthians who were penitent believers were baptized into Jesus' death where they contacted the saving blood of the Savior and had their sins washed away.
No Bible-believer with a good and honest heart can misunderstand how God views homosexuality. He considers it to be abominable, wicked, and unnatural. Now that we've clearly seen how God views the subject of homosexuality, let's harmonize this knowledge with common sense reasoning and science in order to address some pertinent questions.
1. IS THERE A DISTINCTION TO BE MADE BETWEEN "ORIENTATION" AND "BEHAVIOR"?
I believe that the answer is "yes." I believe that it is possible for one to be oriented in such a way that a certain sin is more of a temptation to him than for someone else. For instance, let's say one person has great difficulty controlling his tongue, but he does not struggle with the temptation to steal. Another person might be just the opposite, adept at controlling his tongue but prone to stealing. Friends, the fact that one person struggles with a certain temptation more than another person is to be expected since all are unique. Just because one person is more oriented toward sinning with his speech than someone else does not mean that he has sinned. It is when a person acts upon his orientation that sin is committed. This is also true regarding homosexuality. It is possible, for various reasons, that one person could be oriented in such a way that he or she finds someone of the same gender attractive. The fact that he or she feels this attraction is not inherently sinful, abnormal as it may be. If one avoids lustful thoughts as well as promiscuous action, there is no sin in such a case. Nowhere do the Scriptures condemn a person for experiencing temptation regarding any sin. Jesus Himself was tempted, but He did not give in to the temptations (Heb. 4:15). If one feels oriented toward homosexuality, he or she is not automatically condemned. However, if that individual harbors lustful thoughts or acts upon his or her inclinations, then sin has been committed. The situation is similar with those who are inclined to steal. Many struggle with this temptation, but they have not sinned merely because they are oriented toward such. They sin when they give in to their illicit temptation and take what is not theirs. We expect one who is tempted to steal to control himself, even when it is against his desires; why should we not expect the same of those tempted to commit acts of homosexuality?
2. DOES ONE BECOME HOMOSEXUAL BY "NATURE" OR "NURTURE" ?
This question has stirred up a lot of controversy in recent years. Homosexuals have been claiming for some time that they do not become homosexuals by choice but are born that way. In 1991, Dr. Michael Bailey and Dr. Richard Pillard claimed that they had found evidence that homosexuality is genetically determined. They studied 56 pairs of identical twins, 54 pairs of fraternal twins, 142 non-twin brothers of twins, and 57 pairs of adoptive brothers. Here were their findings:
At first, one might be inclined to think that these doctors were on to something, but a closer look reveals otherwise. In their sample set, they observed that if an identical twin was homosexual, then approximately half the time, so was the other twin. Friends, if homosexuality is determined genetically and if one identical twin is a homosexual, then would not the other twin also be homosexual in every case? If one identical twin has genetic material that "makes him gay," then so should the other twin since identical twins have identical DNA! If there really was a genetic component at work here, then all sets of identical twins would either be homosexual or heterosexual, and one would never find a set where one twin is homosexual and the other is heterosexual. The very fact that these mixed sets exist proves that homosexuality is not genetic because identical twins have identical genes! If genes caused one identical twin to be gay, then those same genes should cause the other twin to be gay also.
It should also be noted that the adoptive brothers of homosexual men were slightly more likely to be homosexual than non-twin, biological siblings! This fact is also inconsistent with the notion that homosexuality is a genetic trait. If homosexuality was determined genetically, then one would expect biological brothers of homosexuals to more likely be homosexual than an adopted brother with no shared genetic makeup.
How then should this data be understood? After all, if one identical twin was homosexual, half the time the other twin also shared that sexual orientation. There seems to be some kind of commonality there. Yes, I believe there is, but the answer is nurture, not nature. The explanation is linked to conditioning, not genetics. The way in which one is raised and the activities he or she experiences will mold his or her orientation. If one identical twin is gay, then it is likely that the other one will be too, not because of their identical genes, but because they have shared much of the same experiences and been conditioned similarly. That simple explanation explains the high correlation in the 1991 study, and it also accounts for the differences.
3. CAN A HOMOSEXUAL CHANGE?
The answer from God's word is, "Yes, if they want to!" Paul's comments in I Corinthians 6:9-11 that we read earlier prove as much. He stated that some of the Christians in Corinth used to be homosexuals, but they had changed! "Such were some of you [past tense; i.e., prior to their conversion]", but they had repented of their sins and had them washed away through baptism. Dear listeners, I honestly believe that a person who has really strong willpower will be able to accomplish whatever they intend to. If a person is tempted by homosexuality, they can certainly resist acting upon their desire if they really want to (as some Christians at Corinth did back in the first century). Likewise, if a person is tempted to steal, he can certainly resist acting upon his desire if he really wants to. If his desire to change is not strong, then he will continue on in his sinful behavior.
There is much more that could be said about genetics and the ability of homosexuals to change. I encourage all who are interested to read an article on the ApologeticsPress.org website entitled, "This is the Way God Made Me" -A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the "Gay Gene."2
Friends, homosexuality, if left unchecked, could very well be the undoing of our nation, much like the city of Sodom. Although the destruction of Sodom was ultimately due to the sins of the people, practically speaking, it was destroyed because of the lack of righteous ones (Gen. 18:23ff). Who is to say that God will not allow America to be destroyed whenever there is a great lack of righteous ones in the land?
Homosexuality is a serious issue that could determine the fate of our nation. It is a sensitive issue to many, and it is continually receiving more and more attention. Some are trying to make homosexuals appear legitimate as a minority class that deserves certain rights and privileges. Some are trying to make America recognize homosexual "marriages" as valid. Let us be firm in our conviction that God's word is truth and that it contains the standards for morality to which one must submit if one is to please the Lord. God has clearly spoken: Homosexuality is a sin. Let those who love God and His word not promote this abomination in any way. Better yet, let us work against the homosexual agenda in any righteous way that we can, praying and voting for godly leaders who would seek the Lord's will. Finally, let those who struggle with this sin, yet want to do right, realize that God loves them, but He will not save them unless they repent of their sin, turning from their perversion. Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.
1 Bailey, Michael J., and Richard C. Pillard (1991), "A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation," Archives of General Psychiatry, 48:1089-1096, December.