The Bible is explicitly clear that homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 18:22; I Corinthians 6:9; I Timothy 1:9-11; Jude 1:7). The Bible is explicitly clear that God created males and females (Genesis 1:27; Matthew 19:4), not gender-indeterminate humans. The Bible is explicitly clear that God knit each person together in the womb, creating them to be who He wanted them to be (Psalm 139:13-16)—meaning the “plumbing” they have is what they’re supposed to have, and what they don’t have isn’t. The Bible is also explicitly clear that God doesn’t tempt anyone or cause them to sin (James 1:13; see also I Corinthians 10:13), and if homosexuality is a sin (which the Bible says it is) God doesn’t make anyone “that way”—doesn’t make them sin by being who they are. Sin is a choice (James 1:14-15). The Bible also says that God has given people over, because of their sins, to sinful desires (Romans 1:24, 27), allowing them through their free will to plunge into those sins headlong, with due penalty.
What isn’t explicit in Scripture, and what you will never, ever find in the Bible, is ANY hint or suggestion whatsoever that any of these things are acceptable or appropriate.
So why do so many Christians bend over backwards to appease a culture—following its god—that not only “[continues] to do these things, but also [approves] of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32)? I think it is because they have gotten so focused on love and grace, they have lost sight of righteousness and justice and wrath. God is love, and He loves everyone—including gay and transgender people—and Christians should love them too. But make no mistake, God does not love what they do. He hates it with a righteous, holy, just hate, the same as He hates all sin and wickedness. The same way Christians should hate all sin and wickedness.
Admittedly, this “love the sinner, hate the sin” concept is a hard one to fully grasp, much less practice. Many Christians do a poor job of separating one from the other. But the solution is not to condone behavior that is contrary to God’s Word. Tolerance, the buzzword of the day, means “willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own”1 according to Merriam-Webster. Sadly, we (as the church and as a culture) have confused acceptance with agreement. Tolerating someone with a different point of view does not mean you have to agree with that point of view or even consider it valid. It means you allow it to exist. And tolerance goes both ways. Where are the cries for the LGBT community and its advocates to tolerate contrary beliefs, like biblical ones? But I’m getting off topic.
Tolerance (according to the cultural definition of the word) of homosexuality is not a biblical idea. A lot of Christians like to cite the account of the woman caught in adultery (John 8) as an example when Jesus didn’t judge a sinner, but instead “let her off.” But read the whole story. Pay close attention to Jesus’ words in verse 11: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus didn’t tell the woman it was no big deal that she had committed adultery because He was full of love and acceptance and tolerance. He did what He has always done and still longs to do—He offered forgiveness, a second chance. But He also made it clear that her behavior was not okay.
Jesus also ate with tax collectors and sinners, people claim. And they’re right. He did. But He didn’t accept their behavior. Instead, He told the Pharisees that He dined with such people because “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Luke 5:31-32) Jesus’ message was never one of tolerating sin of any kind. Rather, it was always a call to repentance and faith in the Savior who came to “[take] away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
I realize I’m being rather assertive and dogmatic in this post. Too much so, you may say. But in standing with the Word of God, it isn’t possible to be too rigid. There are plenty of issues that leave room for interpretation, for personal conviction by the Holy Spirit, for disagreement. This isn’t one of them. There isn’t even a hint of gray. The shades are pitch black and pure white. Like I said, this post may offend some of you. It might cost me friends. I’d rather it didn’t, but I’m willing to pay that price, because I am 100% confident I’m standing on truth and because this message needs to be spoken. How are we as Christians supposed to reach the world with the glorious message of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ if we’re busy telling people their sin isn’t so bad? No, we shouldn’t be chasing people around with Bibles, ready to bash them over the head for their transgressions. Yes, there is a time and place for tact. But there is also a time and place to draw a line in the sand. Actually, let me correct that. The line in the sand has already been drawn by God. There’s a time and place to pick the right side of the line and to plant our feet firmly in the sand. This is such a time. This is a time—as it always is—to stand up for the truth of God’s Word, to refuse to back down, water down, or cave in the least. It is a time to “[speak] the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15). Sadly, I think too many Christians have become so focused on being loving in what they say, of being so careful not to offend anyone or intrude on anyone’s “safe space,” that they have left truth by the side of road and wandered deep into the weeds. I refuse to be such a Christian.
Those who do speak out against homosexuality are often labeled as bigots, called ignorant and judgmental, or are accused of hate speech. You may want to apply some of those labels to me and claim some of those things about me now. So I encourage you, reread this post. Point out where I’ve incited hate. Point out where I’ve judged (as opposed to merely relating God’s judgment as revealed in the Bible). Point out where I’ve missed the biblical call to tolerate homosexuality or where I’m ignorant of what the Bible says. I don’t issue that challenge lightly. I “take heed lest [I] fall.” (I Corinthians 10:12, NKJV) But I issue it because I am sure, that in this case, I’m in agreement with the Word of God.
This post would be incomplete if I didn’t point out two things in closing. One is that calling out homosexuality as a sin, that standing up for biblical definitions of sex and gender and sexuality, does not give a person the right to hate, harass, persecute, or mistreat anyone. Again, read what I’ve written; I haven’t called for that. As I said above, God loves everyone and we should too. But too many Christians can’t seem to find their way to love someone and yet call a spade a spade.
Two, while it is clear from Scripture that it isn’t okay to be gay, it is also clear that it isn’t okay to have heterosexual relations before or outside of marriage. It isn’t okay to divorce, except in the case of marital unfaithfulness. It isn’t okay to be a thief, a liar, a murderer, to slander or gossip, or to disobey one’s parents. The Bible lists numerous commandments of unacceptable behavior, numerous sins. God’s standard is complete and total perfection, because He is completely and totally perfect. None of us can reach such a high bar. None of us can come close. And no matter how often or in what ways we fail, it is never okay. Scripture is clear on that. It is also clear in providing a way to make it okay. It tells us that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) That is the gospel message, the message Christians are to be living and sharing. Yes, it is a gospel of love for the sinner. But it is also a gospel of recognition and admission of sin by the sinner, and of the “unokayness” of that sin. If we leave out either, the gospel we preach “is no gospel at all.” (Galatians 1:7)
1) "Tolerance." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 16 May 2016.
All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, taken from the New International Version