Recently at the Parchment & Pen website, one of the commentors recently rendered a comment that I found to be extremely pertinent to many current issues regarding the church, society and homosexuality. I thought I wanted to share it with you and have some conversation addressing many of the current issues dealing with the subject. Here's the comment:
cambusken"I am very struck by the (for the most part) sincere efforts most of your commentators are making to find a loving way of seeing or dealing with homosexuals, given that Paul clearly links them with thieves, perjurers and enslavers (though he does seem to think they have "abandoned" heterosexual activity in favour of being "inflamed with lust"). I am (very slowly, and stumblingly) making my own progress towards God, with the help of the Holy Spirit and Holy Scripture. My trouble is that I have been in a same-sex relationship for some 40 years now. I never abandoned heterosexual activity, as I never really tried it (apart from a few teenage fumbles). I am no longer inflamed with lust (I doubt I ever was) so I could quite easily forgo any abominable (or is it unclean?) physical activities anyone cares to list. I can also think of many things during our live together which I regret and can repent. However, either I, or the devil, or something, have managed to percieve that life together as the absolute epitome of God-given love. It would be the most monstrous ingratitude - on the spiritual as well as human level - if I were to regret the merest glimmer of the love I have received and felt. I wish to praise God for it and to thank him with all my heart - which is why I am seeking a pathway to him. But I stumble at Paul's obvious disdain for rampaging perverts. Does he really mean me?"
As you can see the commentor poses some very interesting questions and statements. What I would like to do with this post is take the time to address issues and misconceptions, especially in light of the current state of affairs often presented by media, that religion and Christianity in particular is intolerant to what we would consider sinful lifestyles and is responsible for much psychological pressure against homosexual individuals.
The Acceptance Of Sin
The writer makes the comment that Paul links homosexuality with the worst that humanity has to offer. What we should ask is the linking of "perversion" as he identifies it, unique to the naming of homosexual behaviour, and is the homosexual especially or unusually singled out in Paul's writing.
The answer is NO. Although Paul clearly asserts that homosexual activity as a sin, he makes no special distinction or special punishment against the sin of homosexuality. IE: Paul ascribes the same punishment for sin to homosexuality as he ascribes to other sins. The effeminate, as male homosexuals are called by Paul, may be pointed out, but so are the adulterer and the fornicator and those who commit other types of sexual sins and perversions. While the warrants against homosexual activity may be particularly sharp, Paul does not especially link homosexuality to a special or separate punishment that is designed for the homosexual because he or she is bad and beyond repair. This image that God thinks that the homosexual is the most worldly vile person is an image perpetuated by ungodly biblical critics and even some ultra conservatives and fundamentalist extremists who will generally offer the same critique of the "sin" that is en vogue to preach and teach against.
Homosexuality is certainly damaging and has its damaging effects upon those who engage in its activity, but the homosexual is never cast into an irrevocable depth or pit of sin. Neither are the feelings or the emotional character of the homosexual merely disregarded or cast aside by God. Yet, we must be clear, that the writings of Paul do certainly and unapologetically condemn homosexuality as a sin and specifically illustrates that all sin, (homosexuality included) shall be judged and is not worthy of a holy God. From a scriptural standpoint, homosexuality violates the order and the intention of God within human relationships and unless those sins, along with all others, have been washed away by faith and repentance in Jesus, those who engage in such will be lost.
Homosexual Love Is Not "Real" Love
Within society there is a lack of understanding regarding the difference between the feeling of love and the expression of love. God commends the fact that we love one another and are committed to one another because of love. But God has also specified through his word that there is a such thing as "inordinate affection" also known as lust. This type or corruption of love is out of its proper order and not within its proper context.
One such instance of this type of inordinate affection is found in the rebuke of Paul to the church at Corinth and what they had allowed and by silence endorsed perversion. In 1 Cor. 5:1 Paul condemned a person that was sleeping with his father's wife while the church did not rebuke or correct the perversion. Paul went so far as to say that this type of sexual sin (which wasn't homosexuality) wasn't something that was accepted among "Gentiles", a word used in this context to indicate those that were lost, outside of the church and that did not have a relationship with Christ. Paul went so far as to condemn the church for its restraint in addressing the sin and demanding that the person be turned over to the world "for the destruction of the flesh" (1 Cor. 5:5)
To those engaged in this ungodly activity, this type of expression may certainly have been overwhelming. In fact it would seem as if the church itself was threatened to accept such behavior and expression as being acceptable to God, and Paul condemns the church for not being insightful or spiritual enough to discern how to handle or judge, this transgression. The fact is that God through Paul, strongly condemned this deed and claimed that the persons performing such acts should have no place within the church and obviously the body of Christ. (1Cor. 5:2)
The writer reflects on the love that he has shared with his homosexual lover for over 40 years. Was that love inauthentic?
NO. The love may have been a real love, however human love outside of God's proper order is ALWAYS condemned whether one is a homosexual or not. God commends the fact that love has constraints.The care for another individual whether same sex or not, is not in question. The deceit of the argument for homosexuality centers around a false concept that true feelings of love and committment from same sex to same sex are invalid and unauthentic. That is not the case, however, the erotic feelings or perpetuation of eroticism between individuals of the same sex whether young or old, is contrary to human biology, destructive to human psychology and condemned scripturally right along with other types of sexual sins where the expression of love lends itself to such perversions. There can be no corruption unless there was a standard which was not corrupt. The proper order and expression of cross-gender love is an expression of the right and proper order of God affirming a right, holy and acceptable moral value.
Human sexuality is not something that men can twist any way they wish to twist it and maintain the honor, respect, encouragement, and blessing of God. Although God honors the love that we have one for another, God prohibits the expression of erotic love toward one another outside of the proper parameters which he has established.
Does The Bible Condemn Homosexuals As Perverts?
The simple answer is NO. Are the acts of homosexuality perverted acts? YES, right along with all sexually immoral acts of individuals who violate the plan and will of God. The bible points out the sin of homosexuality as a sin among men that condemns and binds the soul. Neither the desire nor acts of homosexuality are to be enjoined by those seeking to serve the Lord. However, homosexuals are not second class citizens, but neither is their lifestyle preferred above the lifestyle of holiness detailed within scripture. There is a cost to homosexuality as well as all sin. The wage of all sin is death, but the gift of God and a spiritual mind is life and peace. (Mal. 2:5, Rom. 8:6) Yes, there is a difference between clean and unclean, and the standard of clean is a the standard of God and should be viewed as such.
As Christians eager to lift up the standard of God and his word, sometimes we do not provide as much texture to our arguments as we should. There is ample basis, both naturally, spiritually and emotionally to reject the practice of homosexuality, but there is also every reason to reason with and try to reach the homosexual to persuade him or her that their lifestyle, although full of very real feelings and emotions, is a deceptive one and one that is simply out of fellowship with God and ultimately sinful.
Cambusken makes a very interesting comments and I believe, a sincere appeal to gain a greater understanding of his life's journey. I applaud his effort and honesty in dealing with the issue. What I hope that I have accomplished by this post is to broaden his understanding that God does not condemn his sins or the sins that he has committed more deeply than the sins of another because he is or was a homosexual. Neither does God seek to deauthenticate his life's experiences as if the last 40 years have meant nothing. The believer does not embrace a purely materialistic worldview which ultimately facilitates the futility that he questions. Everything done has meaning even if that meaning is not readily understood at the present. God however, has only blessed what is right and promotes only what is according to his will and what he has ordained.
God has given love to be shared amongst humanity. The enemy has corrupted that love, causing it to become out of order, violating the will, plan and natural use of it, and ultimately defiling God and changing his glory to the glory of men. This is the nature of all sin. Heterosexual sin of adultery and fornication do no less the same. This is why sin, in any form, cannot be embraced by the true believer seeking union and fellowship with a holy God. Because the standard of holiness does not belong to men, we can truly say that we love the homosexual and every sinner. Why, because we too only strive to achieve what a holy God has commanded. Simultaneously, we can also say unequivocally that we detest the sin that leads men into disfellowship with God.
Ultimately, the sinner can be loved, while his sin despised and rejected. Humanism is doing its best to move the standard of what is acceptable to God, redefining morality to acceptable human standards. The tragedy is that the recent rash of homosexual suicide is being used to promote positions against God and religion in general. I'll deal with that specifically in another posting, but for now, we can only encourage Cambusken to continue to seek God. He will fulfill the longing of every heart.