Yesterday June 24th, 2011, the state of New York became the sixth state in the United States to legalize gay marriage. The New York Senate passed the bill earlier yesterday evening (June 24th, 2011) and then Governor Andrew Cumo signed it into law. New York joins Vermont and New Hampshire as the only states to legalize gay marriage through state legislatures. In every other state it has happened through the courts. This bill doubles the number of people in the United States who will have access to same-sex marriage. In this article, I want to explain briefly the biblical arguments against homosexuality and how to minister the Gospel in this climate.
In the beginning God created man and He created man in His image and likeness. The Lord saw that man was in need of a helpmate and He took from Adam his rib and formed Eve. Adam and Eve then became one flesh and the Lord established the institution of marriage. In Leviticus 18 the Lord gave laws related to sexual practices. These specific laws assume the general prohibition of adultery (Ex. 20:14). Leviticus 18:22 outlaws all homosexuality (Lev. 20:13; Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim. 1:10).
Romans 1:26-27 make it clear that God gave them up to dishonorable passions a reference that goes back to Romans 1:18, 24. God gave them up is a judicial term in the Greek in Romans 1:24 used for handing over a prisoner to his sentence. When men abandon God he will abandon them (Judg. 10:13; 2 Chron. 15:2; 24:20; Ps. 8:11-12; Hos. 4:17; Matt. 15:14; Acts 7:38-42; 14:16). He accomplishes this indirectly and immediately by removing his restraint and allowing their sin to run its course and directly and eventually by specific acts of divine judgment and punishment.
The dishonorable passions mentioned in Romans 1:26 are identified in vv.26-27 as homosexuality a sin roundly condemned in Scripture (Gen. 19; Lev. 18:22; 1 Cor. 6:911; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-5; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; Jude 7). Rather than the normal Greek term for women, women in Romans 1:26 is a general word for female. Paul mentions women first to show the extent of debauchery under the wrath of abandonment, because in most cultures women are the last to be affected by moral collapse. Paul in Romans 1:27 gives the law of sowing and reaping and shows how it has come into effect. Paul refers here to the self-destructive nature of this sin.
Sexual Sin and the Gospel
Rather than just focusing on one specific sin (homosexuality) I want to speak generally to the issue of sexual sin and then close with how the Gospel addresses this issue. 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 is instructive on sexual sin and the Gospel. The kingdom of God is the spiritual sphere of salvation where God rules as king over all who belong to him by faith. All believers are in that spiritual kingdom and yet are awaiting to enter into the full inheritance of it in the age to come. People who are characterized by these iniquities are not saved. While believers can and do commit these sins they do not characterize them as an unbroken life pattern. When they do, it demonstrates that the person is not in God’s kingdom. True believers who do sin, resent that sin and seek to gain victory over it (Rom. 7:14-25). The sexually immoral are all who indulge in sexual immorality. Idolaters are those who worship any false god or follow any false religious system. Adulters are married persons who indulge in sexual acts outside of marriage.
The two Greek terms translated by the phrase “men who practice homosexuality” refer to those who exchange and corrupt normal male-female sexual roles and relations. Transvestim, sex changes and other gender pervasions are included (Gen. 1:27; Deut. 22:5). Those whom some translations refer to as “sodomites” or “effeminate” are so-called because the sin of male-male sex dominated the city of Sodom (Gen. 1820; 19:4-5). This sinful prevision is condemned always, in any form, by Scripture ( Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Tim. 1:10).
Paul in 1st Corinthians 6:11 says some of you which though not all Christians have been guilty of all those particular sins, every Christian is equally an ex-sinner, since Christ came to save sinners (Matt. 9:13; Rom. 5:20). Some who used to have those patterns of sinful life were falling into those old sins again and needing to be reminding that if they went all the back to live as they used to, they were not going to inherit eternal salvation because it would indicate they were never saved (2 Cor. 5:17).
Paul ends his discussion on sexual sin by revisiting the Gospel. He wanted the Corinthians and people today to understand who Jesus is and what He has done. Washed in 1st Corinthians 6:11 refers to new life, through spiritual cleansing and regeneration. Sanctified results in new behavior which a transformed life always produces. Sin’s total domination is broken and replaced by a new pattern of obedience and holiness. Justifies refers to a new standing before God in which the Christian is clothed in Christ’s righteousness. In his death, the believer’s sins were put to his account and he suffered for them, so that his righteousness might be put to an account, so that we might be blessed for it (Rom. 3:26; 2:22-25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:8-9; 1 Peter 3:18). The Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation’s transformation (John 3:3-5).
The fact that New York has voted to support gay marriage ought not to surprise the Christian community. Christians, we live in a time where the truth is being devalued and where religion of all stripes and types are being privatized by people. The fact is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls men and women to come into the light of His presence and be exposed for who they are. Ultimately the Gospel will prevail over the gay community because one day whether they agree to it or not— they will stand before their Maker- the One who instituted marriage, and they will give an account for their perversion of the institution of marriage. The Lord God will not relent on those who dishonor His name and rob Him of the glory due unto His name.
All have sinned whether they have sinned by viewing pornography, adultery or committing homosexual behavior. The Gospel addresses the porn addict, the adultery, the young man or women who has sex outside of marriage, or who cheats on his/her spouse. The Gospel addresses the man or woman who has engaged in homosexual behavior. The Gospel is the only solution for men and women who are stuck in the sin of sexual sin. The Gospel is the only solution because it is the only means God has authorized to bring life out of death.
Jesus knew the woman at the well in John 4 was trapped and so He went out of His way to reach the women. Since He knew the woman’s sin and what she was struggling with in mercy He exposed her sin. The Lord God wants to expose your sin whether it is sexual sin or any other sin. He does this because of His mercy and His love towards you. There is coming a day though when that mercy and love will not be extended anymore. The Gospel calls for a response—what will be your response—will you respond to who Jesus is and what He has done or will you turn your back on Him, and be confirmed in your sin?
The institution of marriage is hill every born again believer ought to die on. God created the institution of marriage for the purpose of man and women becoming one. Paul teaches that the institution of marriage is a Gospel issue because the husband and the wife are to reflect Christ in their marriage. The Gospel itself needs no defense but it does call for our allegiance and as Christians—we ought to stand upon it firmly and proclaim it loudly whether online or wherever we are.
Marriage is a Gospel issue because it is divine institution God instituted between one man and one woman for life. God created this institution for our benefit, and therefore it is worthy of standing up for and proclaiming and celebrating; especially in a world that devalues marriage and treats it as common. Hold marriage high my brothers and sisters it is a God ordained institution. As Christians we need to hold firm to the truth God has declared to us in His Word for His Word is Truth, and His Gospel is sure.