In the public debate over same-sex marriage, advocates of natural marriage have defended God’s design for marriage in numerous ways. For example, we have talked about every child’s critical need for a mom and a dad. Sadly, divorce is real, and it leaves many kids without a mom or without a dad. Even so, in these kids’ situations the traditional definition of marriage has left them with at least the concept of a mom and dad. Same-sex marriage creates motherless and fatherless families by design. It is discriminatory in the worst sort of way to advocate a model of marriage that says that neither a woman nor a man has anything unique to bring to the task of parenting!
Another strong argument we have made is that if marriage is redefined to mean either two people of the opposite sex or two people of the same sex, then there can be no solid rationale for saying marriage must be between just two people. The door to polygamy—and to many other types of unions—will be thrust wide open. We cannot take this argument lightly, either.
Today I’d like to highlight one of the points that, for the most part, has been missing from the public case for traditional marriage. That point is this: Homosexuality itself is harmful. From one perspective, we can understand why this element has not been strongly emphasized. First, we respect people’s right to live as they choose to live. We are not vying to become the moral police. Also, we realize that the debate over the definition of marriage has not been about the legality of homosexual sex. Lawrence vs. Texas was a landmark Supreme Court decision that was handed down on June 26, 2003. In it the Supreme Court effectively struck down laws against sodomy nationwide.1 Pro-family advocates understood then and understand now that no one can force adults to refrain from engaging in homosexual activity if they have decided to do so.
Yet at the same time we also have recognized that laws against sodomy were the linchpin of a solid legal platform for maintaining the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. (No, these laws were not unjustifiably put in place.) Furthermore, we have understood the harmful and even devastating implications of redefining marriage. While redefining marriage has repercussions well beyond the issue of homosexuality (polygamy, for example, may not involve homosexual sex), the fact that homosexuality is being used as a crowbar to redefine marriage compels us to examine its dangers.
Let’s review some essential truths about homosexuality from a biblical perspective and from a health perspective. Though far from exhaustive, our discussion will highlight some critical issues. After even a discussion as brief as this one, we may want to consider ways to make the issue of homosexuality more central in the debate over marriage.
A Biblical Perspective
In a secular society, the strongest public arguments do not begin with “The Bible says….” Nevertheless, we as Christians—people who believe God’s perspective always is paramount—need to understand the Bible’s warnings against homosexuality. Unfortunately, discussions about these warnings have been woefully lacking in our churches. That needs to change! Among other things, Christian leaders need to equip believers, especially young people, to refute pro-gay theology, which “explains” why and how the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality, even though Bible passages are clear on the subject and even though the pro-gay interpretation stands contrary to the historic position of the Christian church.
What has been the church’s position? It has affirmed clear biblical teaching. In Romans 1, the apostle Paul wrote that those who continue to rebel against God are without excuse because they deny what they know intuitively about God and worship His creation rather than Him. So “God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves” (Rom. 1:24). Paul went on to describe homosexual activity among women and among men but named other sins as well (see vv. 18-32).
James M. Boice observes that people tend to think of God’s giving people up to their desires (see vv. 24,26) as being akin to releasing a porcelain pitcher in outer space and letting it float harmlessly away. Not so. It really is like letting go of the pitcher on earth, where gravity causes it to drop to the ground and possibly shatter completely.2 Although Paul mentioned numerous sins in connection with his discussion about God’s releasing people to their evil passions, there is no question that homosexuality is associated with this divine action.
People tend to think of God’s giving people up to their desires (see Rom. 1:24,26) as being akin to releasing a porcelain pitcher in outer space and letting it float harmlessly away. Not so. It really is like letting go of the pitcher on earth, where gravity causes it to drop to the ground and possibly shatter completely.
Furthermore, homosexual sins are unique. In Romans 1:26-27, Paul wrote they were “against nature” or unnatural. By contrast, heterosexual intercourse outside of marriage, though sinful, is natural. Dr. Boice says that while we need God’s Word to know that heterosexual sex outside of marriage is wrong, we don’t even need it to know homosexuality is wrong: “A look at one’s sexual apparatus should convince anyone that practices of this kind are not…meant to be.”3 The fact that so many seem to be oblivious to this is strong evidence of Satan’s work to blind people to truths that otherwise would be crystal clear (see 2 Cor. 4:3-4).
Unfortunately, some have erroneously concluded from Romans 1:18-32 that homosexuals have strayed beyond God’s saving reach. We cannot conclude this at all! First Corinthians 6:9-10 sounds out an ominous warning: “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.” Then, thankfully, verse 11 says, “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.” While verse 11 reassures us, it in no way should diminish the warnings against homosexuality we see in other places in Scripture. Even so, the Bible is unmistakably clear: Homosexual activity is like other sins in that it is disobedience and an affront to God. (By the way, in Scripture, homosexuality isn’t an identity, but an activity.4) God forgives homosexual deeds when the sinner repents and relies on Jesus’ death as full payment for them. Thank God for His grace!
A Health Perspective
A great deal could be written here on the health consequences of homosexual sex, because homosexuality is linked to numerous significant health risks. Actually, were they widely known and understood, the health risks associated with gay sex would be the Achilles heel of the gay rights movement. Here we’ll specifically note just two potential adverse consequences. Syphilis is now considered by the Centers for Disease Control as “predominantly an MSM [men who have sex with men] epidemic.”5 Also, the life-expectancies of homosexuals are significantly diminished—even by as much as 20 years for men!6 Read this article7 to learn about other serious health risks for both men and women. Be forewarned: This information is difficult to read. When we think about how these diseases are devastating people made in God’s image, our hearts break!
Joe Dallas, a former homosexual, a Christian, and an expert on pro-gay theology, writes that the contemporary divide between truth and practice has been large enough to set the stage for a number of falsehoods to make their way into the church and take hold. Mr. Dallas quotes J. Stephen Lang, who describes the situation this way: “Love is understandable—warm and fuzzy. Doctrine, on the other hand, sounds cold, difficult, and demanding.”8 We also could add that facts often can come across as offensive and harsh. Yet when we don’t counterbalance our desire for “warm and fuzzy” with a loyalty to the truth, says Dallas, pro-gay theology, even with its inherent dangers and falsehoods, is quite alluring!
You see, love seeks that which is best for the one loved—even when working toward attaining the best is difficult. “Clear thinking,” writes A. J. Hoover, requires you to learn “to control your emotions.”9 The church must not be so afraid of offending people that it fails to tell them the truth. Speaking the truth in love (see Eph. 4:15) actually is compassion’s mandate. In the end, failing to convey the truth actually is unloving in the worst sort of way.
We cannot, therefore, continue to remain silent in our churches on this issue. Love and compassion compel us to speak out. How will you respond?
2James Montgomery Boice, Romans: An Expositional Commentary—Volume 1, Justification by Faith, Romans 1–4, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991), 178-179.
4Joe Dallas and Nancy Heche, eds., The Complete Christian Guide to Understanding Homosexuality: A Biblical and Compassionate Response to Same-Sex Attraction, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 99.
9A. J. Hoover, Don’t You Believe It! Poking Holes in Faulty Logic, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1982), 67.
Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.