Homosexuality, a Summary
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
— Romans 6:17,18
This is true religion, to approve what God approves, to hate what he hates, and to delight in what delights him.
— Charles Hodge
THE TOPIC OF HOMOSEXUALITY, how it affects individuals, and how it is manifested in the church is, at first blush, a simple one. However, with the general acceptance of homosexuality in our culture and the growing narrative that faithful Christians are hateful and unloving toward homosexuals, the topic becomes more complex. There are simple answers to the questions, and there is more complex digging needed by a person wishing to form a biblical perspective on this difficult issue. The purpose of this summary is to serve as a very partial pointer into Scripture, confessional documents, and extant writing that will help both the casual and more dedicated reader come to a conclusion on some essential questions.
Is Homosexuality a Sin?
Among biblical scholars, there is little question the answer to this question is yes. A number of passages throughout the Old and New Testaments point to homosexuality as, not only a sin, but as an abomination before God (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11) to mention a few of the most often cited.
Is Homosexual Attraction a Sin?
Homosexual attraction, homosexual orientation, and homosexual acts are all against nature and sinful (Rom. 1:26-27). Homosexual attraction is a vile, degrading, and dishonorable passion, and those who condone homosexuality invite the judgment of God (Romans 1:26-32). Jesus condemned both sinful sexual attractions and sinful sexual actions (Matthew 5:27-28). Some who have attractions to people of the same sex may not seek it or desire it but can only be saved from it by the grace of God (I Corinthians 10:13). However, unwanted vile passions are neither natural, neutral, nor good (Romans 7:21-25).
Our inward self-conception and outward gender identity must conform to the sex God assigned us at conception. We are to live in obedience to God’s will evident in our reproductive organs (Deuteronomy 22:5). Physical anomalies or aberrant psychological conditions are the result of the Fall. They never nullify the union God has decreed between the biological sexes and gender identities evident at birth.
Homosexual attraction must be mortified by the power of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 3:1-7, Romans 8:12-14, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
Since God Made All People & Some Are Homosexuals, Didn’t He Create Homosexuality? Homosexual attraction is not part of the original creation order. God created man in His image: male and female, for one another (Genesis 1:27-28, Genesis 2:18, Genesis 2:21-24 and Matthew 19:4-6).
Is Identifying Oneself as a Homosexual a Sin?
Yes. There is no virtue in adopting an identity based on homosexual or any other sinful sexual desire or attraction (Leviticus 18:6, Leviticus 18:22-23, Leviticus 20:13, and Leviticus 20:15-16).
Does Homosexuality Condemn a Person to Eternal Punishment?
Yes, unrepentant homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Can a Homosexual Be Saved?
Yes, anyone who repents and believes in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be saved (Acts 2:38) and changed by the grace of the Holy Spirit through the life-long process of repentance, sanctification, and mortification.
Can Those with Homosexual Backgrounds Be Communing Members in Christ’s Church?
Yes. All repentant sinners turning from unnatural attractions and trusting in Christ should be welcomed into the church as members in good standing (I Tim. 1:15-16). Followers of Christ who struggle with sinful issues should not identify as “LGBTQ+ Christians,” “Alcoholic Christians,” or “Adulterous Christians,” or any other kind of Christian with a sinful prefix. It dishonors Christ to be identified with sinful attractions and orientations (II Corinthians 5:16-17 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
Is Homosexual Sin Worse than Heterosexual Sin?
Yes: Question 83 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: Are all transgressions of the law equally heinous?
The Answer: Some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
When considering the “aggravations” associated with homosexuality, it is clear that heterosexuality in the context of marriage is not a sin, while homosexuality is a heinous sin distorting God’s created order, and violating the creation ordinance to “be fruitful and multiply.”
Heterosexuality Not a Sin
Homosexuality a Heinous Sin
Part of God’s created order
A result of the Fall, man’s rebellion
God created it and called it good
Mankind practices it and God calls it evil
It is good in the context of marriage
It is evil in any context
God ordained it for natural procreation
God calls it unnatural, an abomination
How Must a Church Respond to the Growth of Homosexuality in our Culture?
In What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality, Kevin DeYoung offers “ten commitments” he hopes every Christian and church will consider making in their heads and hearts before God and before a watching world.
- We will encourage our leaders to preach through the Bible verse by verse and chapter by chapter that they might teach the whole counsel of God (even the unpopular parts) and avoid riding hobby horses (even popular ones).
- We will tell the truth about all sins, including homosexuality, but especially the sins most prevalent in our communities.
- We will guard the truth of God’s Word, protect God’s people from error, and confront the world when it tries to press us into its mold.
- We will call all people to faith in Christ as the only way to the Father and the only way to have eternal life.
- We will speak to all people about the good news that Jesus died in our place and rose again so that we might be set free from the curse of the law, saved from the wrath of God, and welcomed into the holy city at the restoration of all things.
- We will treat all Christians as new creations in Christ, reminding each other that our true identity is not based on sexuality or self-expression but on our union with Christ.
- We will extend God’s forgiveness to all those who come in brokenhearted repentance, everyone from homosexual sinners to heterosexual sinners, from the proud to the greedy, from the people pleaser to the self-righteous.
- We will ask for forgiveness when we are rude or thoughtless or joke about those who experience same-sex attraction.
- We will strive to be a community that welcomes all those who hate their sin and struggle against it, even when that struggle involves failures and setbacks.
- We will seek to love all in our midst, regardless of their particular vices or virtues, by preaching the Bible, recognizing evidences of God’s grace, pointing out behaviors that dishonor the Lord, taking church membership seriously, exercising church discipline, announcing the free offer of the gospel, striving for holiness together, practicing the “one anothers” of Christian discipleship, and exulting in Christ above all things.
To all the above, the Firm Foundation Partnership adds that those struggling with homosexual attraction should never suffer in silence. They should seek aid and counsel from those God has provided in His church for this purpose (Galatians 6:1-2). Those struggling with same-sex-attraction, along with all those struggling with unlawful sexual attractions of any kind, should be encouraged to seek the help, prayer, and counsel of mature believers, elders, and pastors (James 5:16, Hebrews 3:12-13, Hebrews 10:24-25).