In Sexuality by eric holmberg11 Comments

brainstormWe can now add to the list of risks associated with the homosexual lifestyle its impact on the frontal lobes and logic centers of the evangelical brain. Faced with the rising “gay” tide, multiple thousands—perhaps millions—of professing Christians are becoming both hosts and transmitters of a peculiar form of cognitive dissonance: embracing two incompatible ideas and somehow making peace with the disharmony.

I’m speaking here of the idea that active, unrepentant sexual activity between two same-gendered people is consistent with Christian beliefs and practices.

The solvent for forging this artificial union or peace (see Jer. 6:14)? A skewed view of Christian love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

An important distinction needs to be made here between this and the other, more manifestly rebellious method some professing Christians use to reconcile the two: twisting scriptural references to homosexuality to mean something other than their clear meaning and what 99% of biblical scholars over three millennia have taken them to mean. In other words, advocating that when properly practiced God blesses homosexual behavior and that it is just as conducive to human and societal flourishing as heterosexuality. I am specifically addressing here Christians who still believe that homosex is wrong—or at least sub-optimal—but also believe that Christian love and forgiveness call for us to accept it.

I was recently confronted with this insidious meme for the umpteenth time while strolling through a special event held at an upscale shopping and dining development. It was a Kid’s Fare and the streets were dotted with booths and presentations catering to pre-teens. One was sponsored by a local church. Still looking for a congregation to join after moving to Cleveland, I stopped and visited with a nice lady who was handing out gift bags and talking up the impressive variety of programs her church had to offer children in the community. As we chatted, it was clear she was genuinely sincere and excited about Jesus and her faith. Yes, her church believed in the inerrancy of Scripture. Ditto the bodily death and resurrection of Christ. And yes, Jesus was the way, the truth and the life. Not wanting to monopolize her time, I decided to cut to the chase and ask “the question”—one that sadly has become one of the better gauges as to a particular church’s position on the “pillar and ground of truth” scale. (1 Tim. 3:15)

“Where are you guys in relation to the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage?”

She blinked and opened with what I have found to be a standard, evasive response: “We love and support all people and want to help them on their journey with God.”

“Fantastic!” I replied. “But what does that practically mean for someone who is actively engaged in a homosexual lifestyle?”

After a few more ambiguous comments, she finally cut to the chase, revealing the infectious meme. To better understand this affliction, I will break it down—with brief commentary—in sections.

1. “Look, we’re all sinners.” Very true. And I’m a candidate for the chief of them. But note the clear inference here: homosex is sinful. No one would respond to a question about whether their church accepts homeless people, dentists, or Germans by noting, “We’re all sinners.” Somewhere in that brain of hers the Biblical truth was still alive, if not well: God never intended for a man to lie with another man as he would a woman. (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:27)

2. “Jesus came to save sinners.” Once again the implication is that homosex is sinful. But here we need to remember that Jesus came to not just atone for sin, thus saving sinners. He also came to deliver them; to save them “from their sins” (Matt. 1:21); to work in them the grace so that they can “go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) And that certainly includes—more necessitates—that sinful acts be acknowledged as being just that: sinful.

3. Then she spoke about herself: how she had her first child outside of marriage, further that she was divorced. (Again, I can relate on both counts. Worse, as an unmarried college student I had my first child executed by an abortionist.) “My church accepts me,” she said. “Shouldn’t we accept gay people as well?” Well, that depends on what we mean by “accept.” Receive, love and honor them as broken, fallen image-bearers-of-God like the rest of us? Absolutely! Patiently, compassionately join them on our collective journey towards the Celestial City. Of course! But that also means acknowledging that there is a prescribed path to that City, a highway of holiness that God has raised up for us to walk upon. (Isa. 35:8) And divorce, abortion, premarital sex, homosex and a host of other beliefs and behaviors are not only not paving stones on that highway; far worse, they are pitfalls, sloughs and dungeons that can profoundly hinder our journey. It is true every pilgrim will experience one or more of them. And that’s why there are divorce recovery groups, addiction programs, ministries to women grieving over their abortions, and more. But there is a universe of difference between that and normalizing a particular sin by trying to pretend a noxious swamp is really a verdant pasture. And sacralizing homosexuality with the label “marriage,” or pretending that people who engage in homosex can have an inheritance in the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9) is to attempt precisely that.

4. Now a little defensive, she shrugged her shoulders and joined the chorus of other professing believers who have shared similar answers with me over the past five years: “Jesus is all about love and forgiveness. God desires mercy and not sacrifice. Judge not lest you yourself be judged. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Neither do I (Jesus) condemn you. Jesus preferred hanging out with those who had been marginalized by polite society. By grace we have been saved, not works. God is love, love, love, love, love…”

To her and any professing Christian infected with this meme and blithely suppressing the dissonance it logically, necessarily carries with it: You are not reflecting God’s love by making someone feel comfortable with their sin. That would be more like hate. And by adding your “Amen” to the chorus of those normalizing homosexuality, you are far from showing mercy. Like it or not, you have joined forces—however unwittingly—with the Dark Fowler. (Ps. 91:3) You are helping set snares for other souls. And that may well include a young man in your family, church or community who is estranged from his father, struggling with teen angst and identity issues and who suddenly finds himself being lead into temptation by a homosexual man (perhaps a relative or neighbor) that has shown an interest in him.

You may very well have helped nudge him into the ensuing abyss.

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  1. Thank you SO much for writing this. This is precisely why human behavior can be legislated, even with those who are not grounded in the Truth of Scripture. I also appreciate you noting that we should quit using the term “gay marriage”, as we cannot be against something that has never existed in the first place. What we have is legalized sodomy; and yes, the cure for that sin is the same as all others–repentance. Messiah Yeshua can deliver!

  2. There is another myth going around that in Romans 1, when Paul spoke of homosexuality as unnatural, he didn’t mean that. The Greek term for that is para physin, literally “against nature.” But since para also has secondary meanings, including “beyond,” the LGBT activists are saying Paul only meant “beyond nature.” As a translator and reader of koine Greek, I saw thru this instantly. First, I went to the professional translator forum ProZ and asked the Greek section what para physin means in modern Greek. The native speakers of Greek said it means unnatural. Now since Greek is a very conservative language, it has not changed all that much in 2000 years, so this is strong evidence that it also meant unnatural back then. But to clinch this, I opened up the Latin Vulgate Bible, a translation made by Jerome, a speaker of koine Greek. The term para physin in Romans was rendered as “contra naturam.” This is good info to have if you run into a pseudo-expert in Greek who tries to pull the wool over your eyes.

    1. Read Romans Chapter 2. Chapter 2 is the rest of the story from chapter 1.
      Yet we cannot judge them, for we also are sinners: God is the only judge
      2 1-4 Now if you feel inclined to set yourself up as a judge of those who sin, let me assure you, whoever you are, that you are in no position to do so. For at whatever point you condemn others you automatically condemn yourself, since you, the judge, commit the same sins. God’s judgment, we know, is utterly impartial in its action against such evil-doers. What makes you think that you who so readily judge the sins of others, can consider yourself beyond the judgment of God? Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God’s generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don’t you realise that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

      5 Or are you by your obstinate refusal to repent simply storing up for yourself an experience of the wrath of God in the day when, in his holy anger against evil, he shows his hand in righteous judgment?

      6-9 There is no doubt at all that he will ‘render to every man according to his works’, and that means eternal life to those who, in patiently doing good, aim at the unseen (but real) glory and honour of the eternal world. It also means anger and wrath for those who rebel against God’s plan of life, and refuse to obey his rules, and who, in so doing, make themselves the very servants of evil. Yes, it means bitter pain and a fearful undoing for every human soul who works on the side of evil, for the Jew first and then the Greek.

      Even Better
      2 1-2 Those people (IN Chapter 1) are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done.

      3-4 You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

      5-8 You’re not getting by with anything. Every refusal and avoidance of God adds fuel to the fire. The day is coming when it’s going to blaze hot and high, God’s fiery and righteous judgment. Make no mistake: In the end you get what’s coming to you—Real Life for those who work on God’s side, but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire!

      9-11 If you go against the grain, you get splinters, regardless of which neighborhood you’re from, what your parents taught you, what schools you attended. But if you embrace the way God does things, there are wonderful payoffs, again without regard to where you are from or how you were brought up. Being a Jew won’t give you an automatic stamp of approval. God pays no attention to what others say (or what you think) about you. He makes up his own mind.

      1. But Romans 2 does NOT contradict Romans 1.

        The rest of the story is found in the whole book, of Romans, and the whole Bible, which ends in God’s final judgement of the unrepentant.

        What Bible paraphrase are you quoting here?

  3. Exactly what I am always saying!! We are ALL sinners. The difference is that a Christian is supposed to RECOGNIZE their sin and REPENT of it!! NOT wallow in it and try to justify it!!

  4. Another way to see this ‘meme’ is by the name of ‘gospel reductionism’, or, its close cousin, ‘antinomianism’. This way of thinking proposes that God’s law (i.e.: what God loves and what God hates, what He blesses and what He censures on the basis of His own holy, jealous love), should not be preached to Christians.

    The problem with this view is that Christians are still sinners, even though they have been declared to be and imputed with the absolutely righteous life of the Risen Lord Jesus by faith, apart from works. The fact that we are simultaneously sinful and righteous means that we are both under the law and not under the law.

    Inasmuch as we are that New Man, born from above, born by the Spirit, by the will of God, we are completely above the law and beyond its reach – citizens of heaven, new creatures of a godly and incorruptible seed, which takes no pleasure in sin and walks by the spirit. Yet, inasmuch as we are still in the flesh, the remnants of that old sinful man still cleaving to us, we are completely under the law, by the mercy of our Father, that our flesh may be subdued and put to death – and for the good of our neighbors in the flesh.

    So we who are are born again love the law, and agree with God that it is good, and that we are not, which is why we need and have a savior! We agree that the law cannot make a person righteous – that comes by the grace of God in Christ Jesus only, through faith – but we do not say, then, that we should continue to sin so that grace may abound. Sin is our enemy, the destruction of all that is good, and of everyone that we love, and is the crucifier of our Lord.

    Friendship with sin is enmity with the God Who was the friend of sinners, whose sins He came to die for.

    I’d also like to share some commentary from Martin Luther on Paul’s letter to the Galatians, regarding Chapter 5, verse 24:

    And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

    “This whole place concerning works, showeth that the true believers are no hypocrites. Therefore let no man deceive himself. For whosoever, saith he, pertain unto Christ, have crucified the flesh with all the vices and lusts thereof. For the saints, inasmuch as they have not yet utterly put off the corrupt and sinful flesh, are inclined to sin, and do neither fear nor love God so perfectly as they ought to do. Also they be provoked to anger, to envy, to impatience, to unclean lusts, and such-like motions, which not withstanding they accomplish not : for, as Paul here saith, they crucify the flesh, with all the affections and lusts thereof. Which thing they do, not only when they repress the wantonness of the flesh with fasting and other exercises, but also, as Paul said be fore, when they walk according to the Spirit; that is, when they being admonished by the threatenings of God, whereby he showeth that he will severely punish sin, are afraid to commit sin ; also when they being armed with the Word of God, with faith and with prayer, do not obey the lusts of the flesh.

    When they resist the flesh after this manner, they nail it to the cross, with the lusts and desires thereof; so that although the flesh be yet alive, yet can it not perform that which it would do, forasmuch as it is bound both hand and foot and fast nailed to the cross. The faithful then, so long as they live here, do crucify the flesh, that is to say, they feel the lusts thereof, but they obey them not. For they being furnished with the armour of God, that is, with faith, hope, and the sword of the Spirit, do resist the flesh, and with these spiritual nails they fasten the same unto the cross, so that it is constrained to be subject to the Spirit. Afterwards when they die, they put it off wholly ; and when they shall rise again from death to life, they shall have a pure and uncorrupt flesh without all affections and lusts.”

    1. Interesting to see someone else use the term “Gospel Reductionism”. Not hearing it before, I thought that would well capture the response I’ve heard many Christians give to the recent SCOTUS decision invention the right to same-sex marriage. Many Christians have essentially said, “We can’t tell the lost world they’re wrong. We must stick to the Gospel.” See, they have reduced “the Gospel” to simply “believing in Jesus”. So these Christians are fully complicit in the “easy believism” of our day. Most people would want to “believe in Jesus” to go to heaven, especially if it means they can hold on to their sin. And this is what most “Evangelicals” are implying, when they tell this “reduced gospel”, rather than speak the main word Jesus used, “Repent” (Matthew 4:7; 11:21; 12:41, etc.)

  5. Thanks for correctly expositing God’s Word and exhibiting the boldness to preach truth, which is not very popular because it is easier to “walk through the raindrops” then to get a little “wet”. Reminds me of the story of a “Christian” husband who started a new job at a secular company. When he returned home from his first day on the job, his wife asked how it went. He replied, “Everything went great! They didn’t even know I was a Christian!”

    May God give us boldness to preach truth…in love to all those He places in our path. Oh, and if you are still looking for an excellent, gathering of believers in the Cleveland area, where the Word of God is accurately exposited and where your ears are not tickled, consider Parkside Church. Senior Pastor is Alistair Begg, whom you must already know.

  6. Powerful! May God continue to bless and protect you, your family, and ministry.

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