jasonbwatson

August 28, 2014

An Open Letter to My Friend

Recently, a young man who graduated from the school where I serve announced that he is gay. It is no secret to anyone who has read this blog that I affirm the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin. This young man and I have exchanged some messages on the subject and he seems, for now, to be set in his new “beliefs.”

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Dear friend,

You know that I believe that the Bible means exactly what it says when it calls homosexuality an abomination. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 use this word for homosexual acts in the King James, New King James, New American Standard, Young’s Literal Translation and English Standard versions of the Bible. The New International Version, Holman Christian Standard and New Living Translation translate the word as “detestable.” The Voice uses that word, too. Here is how The Living Bible presents Leviticus 18:22: “Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin.” The Contemporary English Version says, “It is disgusting for a man to have sex with another man” and The Message says, “Don’t have sex with a man as one does with a woman. That is abhorrent.” There really is no alternative explanation for what these verses mean. Some have suggested that the homosexual acts being referred to were commonly part of the worship of idols and that the prohibition against homosexuality was really a condemnation of idolatry and not of homosexuality, but this is, at best, a stretch. What it really is is an attempt by those who want to find biblical justification for their choices to find a way of interpreting Scripture that allows them to do what they want. The Bible states very clearly in many places that idolatry is a sin. If God was intending to condemn idolatry only in these passages in Leviticus He would have done so. Instead, He chose to address homosexuality precisely because that was the behavior He wanted to address.

Other attempts to say that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality include the assertion that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality Himself. While that is true, there are many things that Jesus never specifically mentioned that are still sinful. If you look through your Bible or a concordance you are not going to find anywhere that Jesus used the words abortion, euthanasia, pornography or cocaine, either. Yet there are clear instances of Jesus’ teaching that address the sanctity of life, sexual immorality and the fact that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. In Mark 7 Jesus clearly condemns all forms of sexual immorality and said that sexual immorality is but one behavior that defiles a person. Really, the list of behaviors in Mark 7:20-23 could include homosexuality in several of them. Sexual immorality, of course, but also “evil thoughts,” “adultery,” “coveting,” “wickedness,” “sensuality,” “pride” and “foolishness.” I could elaborate on how homosexuality fits into each of these, and maybe I will do that sometime.

Paul includes homosexuality in I Corinthians 6 when he presents a list of behaviors that are not pleasing to God. While there is an effort among some to suggest that Paul is referring specifically to either male prostitutes or to men who kept boys for the purpose of homosexual sex, the Greek word refers to passive and active partners in consensual homosexual sex.

In Romans 1 Paul calls homosexuality a shameless act and says that homosexual behavior is contrary to that which is natural, meaning that it violates God’s intentional design for humans. (This, by the way, would be why homosexuality falls into the category of “foolishness” above). Paul addresses homosexuality again in I Timothy 1:8-10. Not only does he specifically name homosexuality in addition to the broader category of sexual immorality, he states that such behavior is “contrary to sound doctrine.”

You suggested that I watch Matthew Vines’ video entitled The Gay Debate because, you said, he presents “a different view, and one that is actually very logical.” The problem here is two fold. One, if it is a different view than what God Himself has given us in His Word, it cannot be right. If it contradicts what the Bible says it is necessarily wrong. The second problem is very similar in that it is not possible for something that contradicts the Bible to be logical. There may be ways of creating an understanding of things that seems to be logical but it will all be based on falsehood, meaning that it cannot withstand scrutiny or serious examination. I should perhaps mention as well that there is nothing logical about homosexuality; there is no way to explain it that makes any logical sense.

You go on to state that being gay is not a choice. “It is not my choice who I am attracted to,” you wrote. “It just like the color of one’s eyes, it is unchangeable.” This is an erroneous assertion, as well, and one that I have addressed many times in this space so I will not go into it again now. If you want to know what I think about it, it is not hard to find. I will keep it very succinct and simply say this–even if who you are attracted to is the way you were born, engaging in homosexual acts is still a choice. (Please note my emphasis on “if,” because I do not agree with that position at all; I am simply stating that even if that position were accepted, the behavior itself is still optional).

Now, before I close, I need to state that I am a sinner, too. We all are. Scripture is also explicitly clear about that! I do not believe that there are categories or levels of sin. When I sin through choices I make my sin is just as offensive to God as yours is. I don’t think homosexual behavior is more offensive than lying, stealing, gossiping, coveting or heterosexual sex outside of marriage. One thing that I think is often different in the case of homosexuals, and that I see right now in your own actions, is a decision to proclaim to the world that you are embracing that sin and asking everyone else to accept it. If I were to announce to everyone that I have decided that stealing things I want is an uncontrollable urge I have and is just the way God made me I would fully expect to be taken to task. If I were to embrace a decision to engage in extramarital sex and ask all of my friends and acquaintances to accept that decision, I would expect them to not only refuse to do so, but to call me repentance for my behavior. When you announce that you have made a conscious decision to live a life of sin you are in a dangerous position. You are also sending out a plea for anyone who really loves you to share the Truth with you in love in an effort to bring you back to the straight and narrow.

No one should wish you ill or harm, no one is pleasing God by calling you names or issuing threats. But no one who loves God and loves you can also let you persist in this choice without trying to bring you back to the Truth. We love you too much to do that.

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